Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bush Pardons scooter Libby

WASHINGTON — President Bush commuted the sentence of former aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Monday, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case.

Bush left intact a $250,000 fine and two years probation for Libby, according to a senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced.

Bush’s move came hours after a federal appeals panel ruled Libby could not delay his prison term in the CIA leak case. That decision put the pressure on the president, who had been sidestepping calls by Libby’s allies to pardon the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Libby was convicted in March of lying to authorities and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative’s identity. He was the highest-ranking White House official ordered to prison since the Iran-Contra affair.

Bob Fans Speak

http://www.boblinks.com/112108r.html
Taken for a Bob Dylan fan site.
_______________

Review by Kevin Ouellette


Just got back from the show. It was better than I expected. Bob came out
center stage and began the show with a bang, Gotta Serve Somebody. He was
center stage with just his harp and man was he playing the hell out of the
harp tonight. Never heard his harp playing this good.

The Times was nice to hear in the second spot. His organ playing was
actually very good tonight as well. It added a lot to many of the songs.
The first real big surprise of the night came when he walked center stage
strapped on the big hollow body and started into Tomorrow Is A Long Time.
I wish his vocals had been better on this one though. He really growled
through most of it. I believe that I witnessed the last performance of
this tune in Boston '05 at the Orpheum, it was better in '05. Still good
to see and hear Bob play the guitar though.

Things Have Changed was a nice number. Haven't heard it live in a while
and with Bob's oscar near by it was good to hear.

Desolation Row was actually sung really well until about the 3rd verse
when Bob started doing this staccato phrasing which he did on a couple
other songs. It kind of really killed that verse. Other than that it
was a very nice arrangement.

I was very glad to hear 'Til I fell In Love With You. I am a huge Time
Out Of Mind Fan and Bob came center stage with harp in hand for this one
too. It was a real down and dirty blues number with Bob taking some very
extended harp solos.

Make You Feel My Love is one of my favorite Dylan tunes. His voice was
really rough on this one though. I was hoping he would give it a little
more care. Still a treat for me to hear.

Spirit On The Water was easily the best vocal of the night along with
Ain't Talkin'. Bob was much easier to understand on the softer numbers.

Bob and the boys came out for an extended encore. Bob actually hopped out
from behind the curtain to his keyboard for Like A Rolling Stone, my
friend thought it was one of the best parts of the night. Bob walked
over and picked up the guitar for Blowin' In The Wind. He really played
exceptionally well on it too. He had a blistering solo at the end that
had the whole theatre going nuts. Then the band took its bows and exited
stage right.

A few other thoughts and observations, Stu took a lot of solos tonight.
He is apparently off Bob's shit list and allowed to play more than rhythm
guitar. He actually played very well tonight too. For those who care the
band was dressed in matching black suits and Bob was wearing a black suite
with white piping on this pants. He had a blue shirt and blue scarf on
with a white hat. Bob was very energized tonight for being at the end of
a long tour. He had more energy than I have seen him have in years. You
can tell he's still having fun after all these years.

Kevin Ouellette


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Review by Scott Kareff


Bob Dylan returned to NYC to wrap up the latest leg of the Never Ending
Tour in a show that was announced last-minute after his barnstorming tour
of Ontario was well underway. Bob must have been feeling good and some of
the set lists and reviews show that. Tickets only available on
bobdylan.com. We had great center sightlines from our orchestra seats.
Show logistics were a thing of beauty. Took the N train to 42d and then
the 1 to 168th and broadway. Quesedillas at Tipico's right next store and
an order of plantains. And leaving, dr scott flew across crossbronx to
cross island and to little neck inn in about 24 minutes.

Speaking of the venue, as many know, the theater is an old, majestic movie
theater from the 1920's or so, rescued in the 1980's and turned into a
churh, presided over by Reverand Ike. This was not lost on Bob, who
opened the show with Gotta Serve Somebody. Coincidence? I don't think
so.

Overall, a strong showing by bob. Lots of energy. I'd say he out-performed
Phil Lesh for artist of the week but it was quite a contest. His outfit
was standard fare late never ending tour issue. Black outfit; gold lame
stripes down the outsides of his legs like racing stripes. Western hat,
bolo. Harmonica around his neck and he played it.

Stepped out a couple of times into the light. Softpeddled a few steps.
Played a little guitar (yeah!) Highlights were Tomorrow is a Long Time,
Desolation Row and Its Alright Ma. Many songs had a reggae feel to them
and his stacatto delivery on Blowing in the Wind and Its Alright Ma stuck
out.


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Review by Mike Skliar


This was a hit-and-miss show for me, never quite reaching that sustained high
point that I had seen at so many other shows� and while a bit disappointing,
there were some wonderful moments. I should mention that it's a beautiful
theater, dating, I think, back to the 1920's.

First out of the gate was an interesting version, Bob center stage with mic
and harmonica, of "Gotta Serve Somebody" For a second, minus the lumps
of gravel in the circa-2008 Bob voice, it had echoes of perhaps the last time
I had seen him open with it- a show I had seen him (my second Dylan show)
at the Palace Theater in Albany NY, 1980, when he played just gospel songs,
and gave a somewhat strange but incredibly moving and powerful performance.
The unusual first song choice had an 'anything can happen now' feeling-
unfortunately that spell would be broken about halfway thru the show.

Another big minus tonight is that from where I was sitting (orchestra about 8
rows back but all the way on the side) the sound was bassy and boomy, with
the vocal nuances, along with whole phrases at times, being lost in the
bass-heavy mix.

Bob went behind the keyboard for the first time in the evening on the second
song, a somewhat bottom heavy version of 'times are a changin'. It didn't
have that � waltz time "lilt" that I've heard him play it before, more of a
straight rock 4/4 feel. Didn't totally work, but it did have its own power, and
was perhaps the closest he would get to topical for this show, coming after
the presidential election but before the inauguration. Next up was an
unremarkable version (aren't they all?) of "Levee's gonna break"

He followed that with one of the nicest surprises of the evening- playing
center stage what looked like a Gibson ES 175 guitar (electric, but with a
full thickness acoustic-type body) on a version of "Tomorrow is a long time" .
It's one of his most beautiful songs, and I hadn't heard him do this live for
many years. Unfortunately, what could have been a huge highlight was
eclipsed somewhat by the bad sound (at least from where I was sitting) as
well as a fairly unimaginative arrangement which had the band playing fairly
loudly behind him. This song really needs a more quiet space to breathe
then what it got tonight. He also sung it in a much lower register then I've
heard him sing it before, and a higher key might have brought out a little
more sweetness in the vocal. That being said, it was a wonderful moment
to hear Bob up there playing guitar and singing this song.

From there, his performance started to really catch fire with a wonderful
'Things have Changed' with the band and the song working together.
Next up was a very good, but not exceptional, version of "Desolation Row".
Bob tried several different phrasings here, sometimes resorting to a more
sing-song style, sometimes a rhythmic chant, sometimes playing it more
straight. Any one of which could have been good choices, but it felt a bit
like he was throwing it all against the wall to see what would stick. His
delivery of the last verse, playing it fairly straight, was some of his best
singing of the night, though.

He followed up that surrealistic epic 1965 masterpiece with another, "It's
alright, ma, I'm only bleeding" I don't think the current (since about a
year ago) arrangement works quite as well as the last few arrangements
of the last decade or so, as the band leans too heavily on the same blues
lick at the expense of more subtle melodic exploration. It's still effective as
hell, though, as the song is so incredible and there are so many great lines
he always delivers well. I was pleased that the 'sometimes even the
president of the united states must have to stand naked' line got a big
cheer, as this is probably his last concert in the current presidential
administration.

Just when it was getting interesting, a run-of the mill version of 'Beyond
the Horizon' had much of the audience sitting down, where they would
remain until much later in the show.

Another great highlight was next, a center-stage with harmonica and
hand movement-version of "Till I fell in love with you". He seemed to
relish the idea of being a blues frontman, swaying to the music, bending
his knees, and played some great harmonica. His movements at times
here had that Chaplinesque quality that has been written about him since
his very first shows in NYC more then 45 years ago.

After that blues workout, it was time for a bit of a more pop/country song,
"To make you feel my love". It's a song despised by many Dylan fans for its
uncharacteristic generic sounding simplistic lyrics, and has never been one
of my favorites. Strange thing was, however, I found myself enjoying it a
bit more then I thought. He again played some great harmonica on it,
especially at the end, and the more rigorous structure of the song was a
welcome respite to the I-IV-V standard blues patterns of some of the
prior songs.

From here, the show reached a bit of a low point with the three unexciting
to me choices of "Honest with me", "Spirit on the water", and "Highway 61".
The band was, I have to admit, very tight on Honest with me, though it's
one of my least favorite Love and Theft songs. The others were about the
same as they've been for a while now.

An exciting and moving version of "Ain't Talkin" was next, and was really
delivered well, with stage lights so low you could barely see Bob and the
band, although it didn't really matter. Of the Modern Times material done at
this show, this was probably the most powerful song. "Thunder on the
Mountain" which followed and concluded the main set, was, well, same as
its ever been.

Encores were "Like a Rolling Stone", "Watchtower" (fine, though not
exceptional versions), and then Bob back on his Gibson ES 175 guitar for that
r & b styled version of "Blowin in the wind" he's been doing for about a year
and a half or so. He even played one of those "two note solos" in there, and
got the crowd applauding with the rhythm of it all. It was a fine ending to
the show. All in all, it wasn't the best or the worst Bob show I've seen, and
was not the epic tour-closer that many of us had hoped for, but those Bob
at center-stage moments were a great sight to see and hear.

Mike Skliar


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Review by Charles Gardner


Last night's show was a satisfying Dylan experience. Though Bob's singing
was a bit better than when I saw him at the end of '07, it was the
phenomenal harp playing, the mix of organ, guitar, and center-stage harp
playing that made the show stand out. Apart from the opener, which was a
great addition, and an over-arranged Tomorrow Is A Long Time, there were
no surprises on the setlist.

The theater was something that must be seen to be believed. Built in the
20s as a vaudeville concert hall, the place is decorated in an
unbelievably ornamented style that looks as though the architect of Angkor
Wat had collaborated with the builders of the Taj Mahal, the Alhambra and
the Hagia Sophia and thrown in some Art Deco concepts to boot. The entire
interior is gilded from top to bottom. An interesting neighborhood, too
-- Washington Heights, where British troops gave ol' George a beating back
in 1776. Wasn't able to do much looking around, though, as the temperature
at showtime was in the 20s with a gusty wind hitting you square in the
face whichever way you might turn.

Back to the show: the highlights as far as singing goes were clearly
Spirit on the Water and Ain't Talkin', which Bob took great care with.
Gotta Serve Somebody was a great opener -- reminiscent of those '98 shows
in a way -- and Bob was really enjoying it too, out at center-stage mic
with left knee bent, moving around in his unique Bob way, growling out
verses and interspersing them with licks from the harp. Having Bob front
and center for both the start and the end of the show really lifted up the
whole experience for me.

He picked up his acoustic guitar twice: on Tomorrow is a Long Time and
Blowin' In The Wind, but I will echo another review in saying that I think
"Tomorrow" was a bit overplayed by the band. The acoustic set disappeared
sometime in early 2003, for reasons known only to Bob, but he seems
unwilling to rein in the band on even the songs that most deserve a
delicate treatment. "Upgrading" a traditionally acoustic tune to a full
drums-electric-and-bass arrangement can be a great success, but when all
the songs are treated in such fashion, from Desolation Row and Blowin' in
the Wind to Tomorrow is a Long Time and Times are A-Changin', the method
loses its effectiveness and the show becomes a bit musically monotonous.
Does Bob feel his voice is no longer up to the task of carrying a soft
acoustic tune? Or is there some other reason?

That gripe aside, 'Til I Fell In Love With You, It's Alright Ma, and
Things Have Changed were all great and continue to work well. 'Til I Fell
in Love With You seemed like an odd choice for a center stage guitar-less
performance but Bob made it work, treating it old-bluesman style with harp
notes in between verses, and even between lines of verses to great effect.
It is a testament to Time Out of Mind how well this song continues to
hold its own. Honest With Me, Hiway, Horizon, Watchtower and Rolling
Stone were just what they were, and no more. Thunder on the Mountain,
though, was terrific, and a step up from 2007. Stu had out an acoustic
guitar, and played aggressive rhythm that worked wonderfully with Denny on
electric lead. It added a new dimension to the song (making me miss those
early 90s days when Bob himself played acoustic on the electric numbers)
and Bob was signing his heart out besides.

A nice end to '08, and now a good long break for Bob and his band. Hope
to catch him again in '09!

Charles Gardner


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Review by Willy Gissen


It seems like ages since Dylan played in New York City, and I nearly missed it.
Yes, the same person who took a vacation in November 2002 after a grueling
political campaign -- for the McCall/Mehiel ticket against George Pataki -- to
follow Dylan up and down the East Coast for eight (or was it nine?) concerts.

You see, I recently started a financial course called the Financial Peace University
and was committed to the second month of following a budget. The budget
doesn't have to be punitive; you can allot $200 for entertainment, for example,
but the concept demands you plan the spending of every dollar one month in
advance and then use an "envelope system."

And Dylan wasn't on my list; in fact, he would be a budget buster. So even
though I saw the concert listed on the tour section of Dylan's web site, I
hesitated about the cost and didn't plan my day to be on the phone at 10 AM.
Then, later that evening, when I succumbed, there were no tickets left.

And how foolish was that! A budget is one thing, but seeing Dylan in New York
City??? Come on. Anyway, after coming to my senses, I resolved to keep
checking Ticketmaster because the web site advised visitors to keep trying
because extra seats often became available shortly before the show opened.
A week ago, I tried again, and bingo! Orchestra seats!!! At least, I saved some
money by picking up my tickets at the window instead of getting them by mail.

As I explored the venue -- all I knew was 175th street -- I got a preview about
how special this concert would be. Hoping to avoid the depths of Harlem, even
though I was prepared to travel there for my Dylan splurge, I must still admit a
little relief when I realized it would be in Washington Heights. Not because of any
prejudice --- I'm an enthusiastic support of Barack Obama -- but growing up in
the New York City area, you realize you must be cautious where you go. There
are some places where you can actually lose your life, and a natural wariness
develops.

In fact, the United Palace is in Washington Heights, and the building is an
architectural wonder. It opened in 1930 and has been fully restored to its
original extravagance. At the time, it was the third largest theater in the
United States. By the 1960's, all the other great movie palaces had closed
down, but this one still remains. Its style was described as Byzantine,
Romanesque and eclectic.

When I got inside, I realized all the raves were not just hype. The inside is
stunning, and despite the 3,000-seat capacity, it fosters a sense of shared
experience and community. Surprisingly, the sound system was remarkably
good.

Oh, and you're wondering when I'll get to the concert? To put it in a sentence,
"This was a special event, even for Dylan fans." As a born-again Christian,
awakened by Slow Train Coming, Dylan's Christian songs have always held a
special poignancy for me. Thus, I was thrilled when Dylan opened his set with
"Gotta Serve Somebody." I follow his set lists on a regular basis and can't
remember the last time he's done that. Dylan was in a good mood the entire
evening, and one song followed another in a kaleidoscope of feelings. In light
of the first song, his second one was particularly prophetic, "The Times They
Are A-Changing." I imbued this with religious connotations as well as political
ones.

The crowd and Dylan were interacting with enthusiasm the entire night. And
when Bob sang "You think that I'm over the hill�" everyone yelled "no" in the
traditional audience response that has been institutionalized like some of the
interaction you used to hear from fans of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Dylan's voice was also in fine form the entire night, and he had an interesting
new style for his arrangements in a combination of staccato and singsong. While
he has used staccato before, this refinement was different and unique.

And how great was it that he sang three, instead of two songs for his encore.
They were the three most famous songs all together for what I think is the first
time ever: Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watchtower, and Blowin' In The
Wind. He used the staccato/singsong for Blowin' In The Wind, too. Finally, when
Dylan said his final goodbye, he said, "Thank you friends." That one word,
"friends," -- coming from Dylan, because when he says something you know he
means it -- that one word in Dylan's terse style, obviously came from the heart,
and it made me feel the same in return, knowing the debt of gratitude for all
the ways he has influenced my life. Yes, Bob, you are my friend, too.

When it was all over, as usual, the crowd was buzzing as we stepped out into a
cold New York City night. Thank God, I had enough good sense to put this
concert on my credit card (a form of payment supposedly taboo per my financial
course). I'll have to carry it over into my December budget!


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Review by Iris Seifert


Mostly the assessments of Kevin Ouelette in terms of the musical
aspects can be seconded. Only a bit strange to presume to know about
Mr. Dylan's "Shit List" and other sentiments.

Mr. Dylan came back to New York City, and to come back myself was
inevitable. And between Chicago at the close of 2007 and this final
show in 2008 a major transformation seems quite visible.

It seemed no co-incidence that the show was in an old theater in
Spanish Harlem, used now for services by 'United Church', and that the
opener for this show was "Got to serve somebody"! This alone was worth it
all to come to NY again. A sign seen earlier was forebearing: 'A star is
re-born'

The first 3 songs were definitely a 'Bang' and Mr. Dylan pulled all
the registers, putting the finishing touch on song 4 when he ventured to
play this wonderfully sounding guitar performing a song not recognized at
first, but it did not matter: while the words were drowned in the muffled
sound, the melancholic energy and pain came through without the words.
This was his message to me in a nutshell.

Hey, but that was only 4 songs! Now, having told it all, the show
unravels with 3 more blistering tunes, and yes, it's all right Ma,
it's life and life only, and it left me breathless. Change of gear. A more
somber and melancholic streak colors the next 5 songs, and I feel lucky to
be caught just in time beyond the horizon; the love was to be felt, and
the pleading to be honest made you reflective, just in time to appreciate
the spirit on the water. Then to the finish line: the never ending highway
61 as good as ever, only to abruptly settle into the circle-closing
highlight: �Ain't talkin'� to top it with another bang: "Thunder on the
mountain".

And in a manner observed in many shows, but this time to a new height:
when you think it cannot get any better, Mr. Dylan is able to turn it up
another notch, well several notches this time. This Rolling Stone is still
rolling, the Watchtower is still manned, and then: tears still come to my
eyes just recalling the finale with this indescribable version of Blowing
in the Wind with commanding his guitar. An earthquake seemed to be
striking my body, and for a moment it was not clear if I could manage to
keep standing on my seat.

The harmonica, organ, and especially the guitar playing makes you want to
come back for more. The effect of every note played being �like an
ice-pick to your heart� was for sure achieved.

The Mr. Dylan that emerged last year from the Chicago Theater, worn,
torn and exhausted looking, really like a ghost, is no longer he. The Mr.
Dylan that skipped onto the stage today for his 3 encores, and who just in
the same mode emerged from the back-door of the Palace Theater (another
lucky gift to see on the way to the subway) today aren't even close to the
same person: bouncy, energized and with a rosy complexion, in short:
happy. A star re-born indeed.

Well, this Dylan-year seemed like a task to fulfill ; an attempt to
give to him appreciation and attention to his 'public service', to let him
know that he definitely has heavenly aid, only to find out that he is
showing us that instead.

Mission accomplished; sad to leave it behind, yet with a light and free
heart.

So all there is left to say is THANK YOU! Sincerely

Iris


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Review by Howard Weiner


Almost two years ago to the day (11-20-06), Dylan closed out his initial
Modern Times tour with a barnburner of a performance in Midtown at the New
York City Center on a seasonably warm evening. It was windy and chilly on
this occasion as I left work and boarded an A Train for Washington Heights
and the United Palace Theatre. This renovated theatre also serves as a
place of worship for Rev. Ike�s Church, so Dylan opened with �Gotta Serve
Somebody.� Bob hadn�t played that in awhile. It sounded great as Dylan
stood and delivered from center stage swiping in nifty harmonica licks
between lines. A few songs later, Bob sang, �This is a day only the Lord
can make,� as he concluded �When the Levee Breaks.�� What a version!
Hellfire blues, lean and mean. ���The Times They Are-A-Changin�
and �Things Have Changed� sizzled in the second and fifth spots
respectfully � awesome songs to contemplate as I swayed in my third row
dead center loge seat. I was locked in tight and out of range as I pounded
tap beer in my dark blue business suit, I was dressed like a member of the
Cowboy Band. With the economy disastrously freefalling, anthems like �It�s
Alright Ma� were more relevant than ever before ��Money doesn�t Talk it
swears�Even the President of the United States sometimes must have to
stand naked.� Good luck Obama, you�re gonna need some help from the Lord
above. Dylan looked out into the crowd truculent as a rooster as he
howled, �He not busy being born is busy dying.� I�ve seen a lot of
versions of this song over the years, but none were as powerful or as
electrifying as this one. As one would certainly expect, �Desolation Row�
was a thrill to witness, though it started out a little choppy. Dylan�s organ
playing was magnificent here, fascinating stuff; nobody is on this guy�s
wavelength, though the Cowboy Band does a magnificent job following
along. This was a great night for the band. Surprising the faithful with
�Tomorrow is a Long Time� in the fourth spot, Dylan had unleashed a
supreme concert through the first half.

After spoiling us with lobster medallions, Dylan served cheese puffs for
the next five songs. I�m quite fond of �Beyond the Horizon,� but
Dylan has yet to nail it in concert. The musical arrangement was fetching,
but his vocal cadence was way off. �Make You Feel My Love� had a great
harp finale. �Spirit on the Water� was well played and received, but it
was the fifth consecutive uninspiring selection in a row. However,
everybody was happy. Much ganja filled the air. There were no lines for
fresh tap beer or the restrooms. Seeing a concert at this venue is a
pleasure you must experience. Bob stripped all the meat off the
carcass with a curt �Highway 61,� knives scraped against bone. Recile
was a beast pounding the percussions wildly. Tenacious rock-and-roll
thundered through the palace, 67 year-old Bob Dylan had conquered NYC all
over again. As the crowd went bananas, Dylan shuffled out from behind the
organ, looked at Garnier, looked at the crowd, and then raised his arm and
began to fidget around with the back of his neck behind his top hat. He
looked like a pitcher in search of a foreign substance for the purpose of
doctoring a spitball. We were back on track. Dylan performed �Ain�t
Talkin� with visceral preacher-like charisma ��They say prayer has the
power to heal so pray for the mother.� The band crisply played four unique
and succinct solos. An incredible masterpiece was painted at the theatre.
Dylan�s vocals were exuberant during �Thunder on the Mountain� and he
dished an extended organ instrumental. The three-song encore consisted
of the usual culprits with more zest. That �Watchtower� was positively
wacky and the crowd adored Dylan�s guitar solo during �Blowin in the
Wind.� Dylan�s still leaving a greasy trail, so I�ll be back for many more in
2009.

Howard Weiner
www.visionsofdylan.blogspot.com


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Review by Don Miller


I came into the office yesterday morning and intended to spend a few minutes
writing about Friday night's concert. I noticed that Mike Sklair had already
written a review which pretty much said anything I had to say. I don't know
Mike but I guess we have both seen Bob many times and saw the same show.
Anyway I am a fan and not a critic so I thought I would try and say something
about the night.

I went to the show with my daughter and found myself thinking about the fact
she was exactly my age when I first saw Bob thirty five years ago. In those days
a Bob Dylan concert was more "The Musical Event of the Year" then a rock and
roll show. It was tough getting tickets and the day always approached with
great anticipation and expectations. This ended for me when Bob played with
Tom Petty in 1986. For the first time I thought the show was kind of flat. I
was also critical of the early Never Ending Tour shows a few years later. It
didn't occur to me for a number of years that he had decided to become a
working performer. I dropped my expectations and have never been
disappointed since.

I don't care about the set list. In fact it seems to me Bob and his band hit
those magical moments when they perform a rarely played song or one that
is not a "fan favorite". On Friday it was "Gotta Serve Somebody". I hadn't
heard it in a long time and it conjured up images of Lehman Brothers and
Barack Obama and New York City in the fall of 2008. Bob stood alone in front
of the stage with his harmonica which brought back near forgotten images of
"Isis" from long ago.

I do want to say that not only was his harp playing was awesome (verified by
my 16 year old��since I would have thought it was great regardless) but
that his keyboard was high in the mix and sounded great all night. He caught
a mood that lasted through most of the evening.

Bob just has a way of making things work. At one time or another during
"Desolation Row" I think he managed to employ pretty much every vocal
style that has been critized over the years. It sure worked for me. I tend to
think he has a close relationship with his fans�..but it is dictated by him.
Something to the effect of" This is what I feel like doing tonight.....It may
not be what you want to hear but that's your problem and anyway I will
throw in a few hits and even play guitar on a few numbers".

Bob has to be the only performer his age that doesn't play an oldies show.
It's the songs he cares about that day that count. I love "Like a Rolling
Stone" and "Watchtower" as much as the next aging Dylan nut��.but the
show on Friday night was about "Make you feel my Love" and "Spirit on the
Water". As to the memory of Dylan and the Band in the winter of
1974��.well "Things have Changed" (Ok that's was trite)

Despite all that has been written, I don't think Bob Dylan is a songwriter or
a poet as much as he is a performer of songs. I really hope this tour goes
on for years so that at the turn of the next century my grandchild who is
not yet born can say "I saw the great Bob Dylan with my grandpa".
I don't care what he plays.


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Review by Monica Martinangelo


Autumn In NYC

After shaking off the horrible experience of buying tickets to this show
which brought me about an hour of undue anxiety when the website went
down, we lucked out with 4th row isle seats which were stellar. Whew!
This show was well worth the trip!

With storm warnings forecast in the Syracuse, NY area we packed a bag and
got out of Dodge before the snow flakes flew and we made our way to NYC.
We parked the car and settled into the Hilton hotel downtown. From there
we continued our journey, as we hopped the A train and headed uptown, WAY
uptown to Harlem.

With the cold winds blowing we found our way to the United Palace
Theater/Church. Once through the ID process to obtain our tickets we
grabbed some beers and found our way to our seats. Sat down and said WOW!
Take a look around and what you see is a beautifully restored 1930's
theater. My first thought was Moorish architecture, maybe Byzantine, with
a little Romanesque, but mostly what I was thinking was how beautiful a
theater it is. I probably never would have made it here if it wasn't for
Bob Dylan and his cowboy band.

I think maybe the reason I like Bob Dylan is, of course the music that is
a given, but it is all the things I am exposed to, that I learn in
addition to enjoying the music. Just listen to his radio show, music 101,
coupled with some literary recommendations, trivia and recipes and oh so
much more (but don't try to tune into XMX to listen, it has vanished).

After seeing Dylan and the boys in Kingston last Saturday and again at
SUNY Oneonta College on Wednesday we knew this was going to be good, but
this was one for the books! On the four hour drive home I thought about
the show and what I could possibly say to convey the experience. I am
mostly at a loss for words (so unusual for me), but here it goes.

The show opened with Gotta Serve Somebody and the crowd was on their feet!
Bob and the band were just warming up and the crowd was getting into the
groove.

You would have never guessed by his energy level that this was the 100th
concert of the 2008 tour. Bob and the boys turned it up a notch tonight
and gave us a spectacular show. By the time we reached Highway 61 the
palace broke loose as everyone stormed the stage, ouch that was my foot
but that's okay I have another one.

The sound, absolutely no complaints from where we were sitting. The set
list all good choices with good vocal and how very sweet to hear those
guitars. What stood out the most here would be: Tomorrow Is A Long
Time, Till I Fell In Love With You, Make You Feel My Love, and Honest With
Me. Bob's guitar on Blowin' In The Wind, very sweet as he brought it all
to the end. There was no "same ole, same ole" tonight.

Bob and the boys rocked the palace! The band was tight and Bob was in
very good form. Nice guitar work. It was an experience well worth an
hour or so of anxiety to purchase tickets.

Hope that Bob and Boys have a Happy Thanksgiving. We're heading to
Worcester to check out Neil Young. Looking forward to the next time Bob
and the boys find their way back to our neck of the woods.

Bob Dylan NYC

We’ll never forget when – two months after 9/11 -- Bob Dylan played Madison Square Garden and declared, "You don’t have to ask me how I feel about this town. Most of these songs were written here and the ones that weren’t were recorded here."

Bob always saves his best for his old stomping ground, and last Friday night he absolutely destroyed shit up on 175th Street at the United Palace Theater.

(Even though he's clearly stated that "old young, age don't carry weight," it's important to mention that Bob is still kicking everyone's ass at age 67.)

It was his 100th and final show of 2008, and he jump-started the eighteen-song set with “Gotta Serve Somebody,” delivered from the center of the stage accompanied only by his harp. It was the first time he played the song since February 5th, 2002, and halfway through he started freestyling crazy new verses like:

"Over and Out/Under and In/No matter where you are/No matter where you’ve been/You still gotta serve somebody."

Bob followed that up with "The Times They Are A-Changin'", which was played last on election night. He strapped on a guitar for “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” (originally released on Greatest Hits Vol. II). It was the first time he’d performed that song in New York in more than forty-five years!

Other highlights included “Desolation Row,” a spookily arranged "'Til I Fell In Love With You" and Modern Times killers like "The Levee’s Gonna Break," "Thunder On the Mountain," and "Ain't Talkin'."

The crowd was awesome too – many of them had scored tickets through the Dylan fan club.

During "Spirit On the Water," Bob sang, "You think I’m over the hill?"

To which everyone screamed, "Noooo!"

"You think I’m past my prime?"

"Noooo!"

"Let me see what you got, we could have a whoppin’ good time."

"Yessss!"

Whoopi

My vet called me yesterday. they found my cat. She is still in the freezer at the vet. No one picked her up to take her to the cremation. The vet never checked to make sure that she left. When I called on November 9th, no one really checked based on the date. My vet offered me a free communal cremation which i asked for an upgrade to the private that I paid for. He refuses to waive his fee for putting her down. I am in a pissing war with him over 84 dollar. He called me mean when I told him I contacted an attorney and accused me of nickel and dime him for the price of the procedure. He reminded me that he treated this cat for over 18 years. All of these are reasons why he needed to acknowledge his own mistake and eat the price of the whole bill. He is projecting and was pretty vulgar with me over 84 dollars. The center of this is the mistake that no one checked the freezer to see the cat there.
I have been waiting for weeks for my cat's remains that would have never come. I have planned a thanksgiving funeral that will never happen. I cant obtain the closure I need with this outstanding and getting uglier by the day.

I am thinking of leaving the cat there until the credit card dispute is resolved and then let him send the cat to her final resting place.

All of my grief and anger was in full force yesterday. I had to make assorted calls and called the Union Attorney on how to proceed and if i had a negligence case or small claims court case.

I will send the documents off to the credit card company today. I am angry and hurt and could not get closure.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Orphan’s Lifeline Out of Hell Could Be a Game Show in Mumbai

Orphan’s Lifeline Out of Hell Could Be a Game Show in Mumbai



Article Tools Sponsored By
By MANOHLA DARGIS
Published: November 12, 2008

A gaudy, gorgeous rush of color, sound and motion, “Slumdog Millionaire,” the latest from the British shape-shifter Danny Boyle, doesn’t travel through the lower depths, it giddily bounces from one horror to the next. A modern fairy tale about a pauper angling to become a prince, this sensory blowout largely takes place amid the squalor of Mumbai, India, where lost children and dogs sift through trash so fetid you swear you can smell the discarded mango as well as its peel, or could if the film weren’t already hurtling through another picturesque gutter.

Mr. Boyle, who first stormed the British movie scene in the mid-1990s with flashy entertainments like “Shallow Grave” and “Trainspotting,” has a flair for the outrĂ©. Few other directors could turn a heroin addict rummaging inside a rank toilet bowl into a surrealistic underwater reverie, as he does in “Trainspotting,” and fewer still could do so while holding onto the character’s basic humanity. The addict, played by Ewan McGregor, emerges from his repulsive splish-splashing with a near-beatific smile (having successfully retrieved some pills), a terrible if darkly funny image that turns out to have been representative not just of Mr. Boyle’s bent humor but also of his worldview: better to swim than to sink.

Swimming comes naturally to Jamal (the British actor Dev Patel in his feature-film debut), who earns a living as a chai-wallah serving fragrant tea to call-center workers in Mumbai and who, after a series of alternating exhilarating and unnerving adventures, has landed in the hot seat on the television game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” Yet while the story opens with Jamal on the verge of grabbing the big prize, Simon Beaufoy’s cleverly kinked screenplay, adapted from a novel by Vikas Swarup, embraces a fluid view of time and space, effortlessly shuttling between the young contestant’s past and his present, his childhood spaces and grown-up times. Here, narrative doesn’t begin and end: it flows and eddies — just like life.

By all rights the texture of Jamal’s life should have been brutally coarsened by tragedy and poverty by the time he makes a grab for the television jackpot. But because “Slumdog Millionaire” is self-consciously (perhaps commercially) framed as a contemporary fairy tale cum love story, or because Mr. Boyle leans toward the sanguine, this proves to be one of the most upbeat stories about living in hell imaginable. It’s a life that begins in a vast, vibrant, sun-soaked, jampacked ghetto, a kaleidoscopic city of flimsy shacks and struggling humanity and takes an abrupt, cruel turn when Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar), then an exuberant 7, and his cagier brother, Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail), witness the murder of their mother (Sanchita Choudhary) by marauding fanatics armed with anti-Muslim epithets and clubs.

Cast into the larger, uncaring world along with another new orphan, a shy beauty named Latika (Rubina Ali plays the child, Freida Pinto the teenager), the three children make their way from one refuge to another before falling prey to a villain whose exploitation pushes the story to the edge of the unspeakable. Although there’s something undeniably fascinating, or at least watchable, about this ghastly interlude — the young actors are very appealing and sympathetic, and the images are invariably pleasing even when they shouldn’t be — it’s unsettling to watch these young characters and, by extension, the young nonprofessionals playing them enact such a pantomime. It doesn’t help even if you remember that Jamal makes it out alive long enough to have his 15 televised minutes.

It’s hard to hold onto any reservations in the face of Mr. Boyle’s resolutely upbeat pitch and seductive visual style. Beautifully shot with great sensitivity to color by the cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantel, in both film and digital video, “Slumdog Millionaire” makes for a better viewing experience than it does for a reflective one. It’s an undeniably attractive package, a seamless mixture of thrills and tears, armchair tourism (the Taj Mahal makes a guest appearance during a sprightly interlude) and crackerjack professionalism. Both the reliably great Irrfan Khan (“A Mighty Heart”), as a sadistic detective, and the Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, as the preening game-show host, run circles around the young Mr. Patel, an agreeable enough if vague centerpiece to all this coordinated, insistently happy chaos.

In the end, what gives me reluctant pause about this bright, cheery, hard-to-resist movie is that its joyfulness feels more like a filmmaker’s calculation than an honest cry from the heart about the human spirit (or, better yet, a moral tale). In the past Mr. Boyle has managed to wring giggles out of murder (“Shallow Grave”) and addiction (“Trainspotting”), and invest even the apocalypse with a certain joie de vivre (the excellent zombie flick “28 Days Later”). He’s a blithely glib entertainer who can dazzle you with technique and, on occasion, blindside you with emotion, as he does in his underrated children’s movie, “Millions.” He plucked my heartstrings in “Slumdog Millionaire” with well-practiced dexterity, coaxing laughter and sobs out of each sweet, sour and false note.

“Slumdog Millionaire” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for brutal violence.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

Opens on Wednesday nationwide.

Directed by Danny Boyle; written by Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel “Q & A” by Vikas Swarup; director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantel; edited by Chris Dickens; music by A. R. Rahman; production designer, Mark Digby; produced by Christian Colson; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Running time: 2 hours.

WITH: Dev Patel (Jamal), Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (Youngest Jamal), Freida Pinto (Latika), Rubina Ali (Youngest Latika), Madhur Mittal (Salim), Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail (Youngest Salim), Sanchita Choudhary (Jamal’s Mother), Anil Kapoor (Prem) and Irrfan Khan (Police Inspector).

Slumdog Millionaire'

Slumdog Millionaire' is subversive yet lovable tale

Washington (IANS): "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle says he filmed the "very subversive" and yet loveable tale of a slum kid who hijacks a game show to present a vibrant Mumbai in all "its horrors and incredible joys".

Boyle, whose latest film "Slumdog Millionaire" has opened here to rave reviews from American critics, says he had not initially read Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup's novel "Q&A", but when he saw Simon Beaufoy's screenplay based on it, he was floored.

"It was the depiction of Mumbai, a vibrant city of vivid contrasts that attracted me," the British filmmaker, known for his cult classics "Trainspotting","28 Days" and "Shallow Grave", told IANS in a telephonic interview.

"And this character from the slums of Mumbai who is accused of cheating to win the 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' show. But people don't know he has a completely different agenda - to find his ladylove through the show."

"In a way it's 'very subversive' - a slum kid taking a shot at a mind game and winning it - but I loved it," said Boyle.

So Simon Beaufoy and he went off together to Mumbai to make sure it was all authentic, the very characters, situations and the setting depicted in the screenplay of the film commissioned by Channel 4 TV in London.

"I wanted to tell the story of the slum kid who hijacks the show... wanted to present the maximum society. Wanted to portray... to try to present Mumbai in all its colours," Boyle said. But "I did not want to do it through a Westerner's eye. I wanted to do it through the character."

The perfect blend of pathos, humour and action that has made US critics go gaga over this film was "not really a judgement call," the director said. "Such extremes do exist because of the city's intrinsic nature as a whole."

"In many ways it was different from a filmmaker's usual perspective. Those are not relevant as Mumbai is beyond that kind of rigid divisions with all its horrors and incredible joys," he said.

"Also, when you go in the slums you find they are not really like the places one would imagine in the West," Boyle said. "They are just places where people live. These people are not lying about waiting to die out there. They are industrious, vivacious people living life very very fully."

Boyle said they zeroed in on Madhur Mittal to play the older Salim, the lead character's brother through auditions. As it turned out, "Madhur was very terrific." But try hard as they did, they could not find in India the right person to fit the role of Jamal Malik, the protagonist.

"I wanted a guy who would blend. But all those who came, they all looked like hero-types," he said. Then he looked at "this guy in London, Dev (Patel) who is on British television show 'Skins' and he has a bit of a profile."

"But Dev has a very protective mother who wanted to tag along everywhere. But in the end, as it turned out she was a very happy mom," he said.

"Things were great" with Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, who plays the game show host. "He was a bit nervous at first. It was his first English film, I suppose. His English is excellent. He also does a lot of research to give credence to his role and assures people," said Boyle.

"It was also wonderful for me. I could not communicate with the crew, as a lot of them didn't speak English. So Anil would talk to them. He would stir them and enthuse them."

But he had to work hard to persuade Irrfan Khan to play the detective who interrogates the slum kid, said Boyle who found the actor "wonderful."

"Initially he thought it was a small role. But I told him 'you are the one who makes the most progress' with the kid when he is brought to the police on suspicion of cheating. It's the inspector who gets to unravel the story and in a way the tale hangs on him."

"Filming at the fabled Taj Mahal was an extraordinary experience," said Boyle. "It's overwhelming, incredibly romantic. There are lots of restrictions ... understandably so given that filmmakers in the past have not been respecting the structure and its heritage."

"We were able to get round the problem with the use of a still camera and shooting with a second unit to avoid unwanted attention," he said.

Boyle was equally ecstatic about working with Indian composer A.R. Rahman. He is "terrific to work with. He is so talented. He is amazing," the filmmaker gushed.

"When I first talked to him, he did not know whether he was going to do it. But when I showed him the film, he loved it. He is a fusion of what's disco, hip hop and rap. He has a very 'jagged' preference, not even," said Boyle. "I loved that most."

Before filming "Slumdog...", Boyle said he watched three recent Indian films, "Satya", "Company" and "Black Friday" recommended to him. He found them to be "three exceptional films."

"They do have a slightly stretched Bollywood style," but what he liked most about them was the "enormous dynamism of story telling."

Bollywood flicks at IFFI'08-Catch the action

Katryna and the Dave

I went to the livingroom on saturday night to support Katryna Nields and Her husband who were performing as a duo. Maura and Pete Kennedy and lots of NYC friends were there. Of course, Dave's mom, Katherine Chalfant was there so a celebrity sighting was had again. It was a great show. Only and hour with lots of covers, Walking after midnight, Tainted by Squeeze and Ring of Fire. Katryna sounded beautifully. A friend of Dave's named Shawn came up and sang with Katryna on a Ben Demerath song and Pete and Maura joined them for Easy People.

Weekend 2 - Missing Kitty

I decided to call my vet for my Kitty remains. It seems that 6 weeks is too long to wait for the remains. Until they call the Cemetary, My cat's remains are lost. At the vets they started to check with the other hospitals and started to try to track down the remains. I began calling on November 9th and was told it was too early. I am amazed no one checked up on the order. I was besides my self all week. All the grief has resurfaced and I am furious. I doubt I will get the remains of my cat. I fear this place will backpedal and give me some remains. I have lost faith and trust in my vet and this company. I asked to speak to the vet and he and talked about the possibilities of her not having a private cremation but rather a group cremation accidently and he complained that after 12 years of school he should not be dealing with cat remains. Something has gone terribly wrong. Possibly, her remains were mishandled or sent to another place or lost in the process.

I was upset but had to go into manhattan so i came home and went to bed. I guess was crying in my sleep because I woke up with swollen eyes. I called the vet again on Sunday after checking the cemetary website and asked to go out there. I called the vet and the tech was too busy to talk to me. Sbe explained that she was the only one there and knew i was upset but couldnt talk to me then. I called my credit card and put the payment in dispute. I cant trust that the remains I get will be my cat. I cannot accept any remains from the vet. I called regency myself sunday and will get a call today.

Thanksgiving has opened wounds of grief because we planned a funeral with the family and also Whoopi used to travel with me to Massachusetts. She made the trip on Labor Day and was deteriorating and July 4th where she was stronger. Labor Day was a hard trip, she lost bowel and bladder control in the car near hartford and her legs were getting weak.

Both the holiday and the thought of my cats remains being lost has shot me emotionally for the rest of the weekend. I should hear more today but the cat remains. I dont believe I will get what I paid for and will not retrieve them. I paid for a private cremation and now believe that I will get some other random remains or I will be told these are my cat's remains. There has been a breach of trust between the vet and I and possibly breach of contract.

THe day that I brought Whoopi in over a year ago when Suzi was with me. THere was a guy a substitute vet, When i went back to see Dr Bregman on Whoopi's final day, no one seemed to know who that Substitute vet was. I had never seen him in 18 years and no one seemed to know who he was or where he worked. I found that odd.

Right now everything is odd about my cat, including her remains being missing.

Weekend 1

Friday was a great show at the United Palace on 175th Street. I went to see Bob Dylan again. He was on the mark and on the money. Bob changes arrangements so sometimes its a guessing game to what song that he is singing. Setlist for the night was the following.

Disc 1:
01. intro
02. Gotta Serve Somebody
03. The Times They Are A-Changin'
04. The Levee's Gonna Break
05. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
06. Things Have Changed
07. Desolation Row
08. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
09. Beyond The Horizon
10. 'Til I Fell In Love With You
11. Make You Feel My Love
12. Honest With Me

Disc 2:
01. Spirit On The Water
02. Highway 61 Revisited
03. Ain't Talkin'
04. Thunder On The Mountain
05. -encore break-
06. Like A Rolling Stone
07. band intros
08. All Along The Watchtower
09. Blowin' In The Wind

I came in late and had to got to school. After class, I went to do some errands in Manhattan and then headed back to brooklyn to drop off my car. While on the way,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

two more people found on the street

I ran into Don Cohen of IDD fame on the corner near my job. He now works near me. At Dylan last night, I ran into the music reviewer for CBS Sunday morning, Bill Flanagan, who i told I was a fan. We talked about how "this show" was the place to be last night at the 4000 seat United Palace for Dylan. We talked briefly about the Leonard Cohen tour.

MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER: A campaign, a commercial

Some of my favorite songwriters have taken to a nonconventional means of expression. Suzanne Vega and Rosanne Cash write for the NY Times on Songwriting and now ...

__________________________

MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER: A campaign, a commercial
Intimations of 'Better Days' ahead

Mary Chapin Carpenter
Friday, November 21, 2008


Like many of my friends, I spent much of the fall surgically attached to the TV remote, watching any and all news of the presidential election. There were a few things I missed during the waning days of the race because I was glued to the evening news: a few of the most beautiful autumn sunsets imaginable over the Blue Ridge Mountains, just west of our farm; lots of late-day walks with canine friends who lay at my feet, heavily sighing with longing to run; toiling away upstairs in my office on new music for a future album, and so on.

Yes, I let a lot of things slide during this election season, and while I am not entirely proud of my 24/7 news cycle cravings, the race was a compelling episode of our political system at work that proved endlessly fascinating to me.


With all that TV watching, I yawned through a lot of commercials (My TiVo can only tape one show at a time, blast!), but I found myself frozen in place every time a certain ad came on. It was a commercial for an insurance company, and it featured the music of one of my favorite bands, Hem.

Hem's albums are full of gorgeous chamber folk-rock, moving orchestral passages and interludes and enigmatic, evocative lyrics that speak to every life's joys, losses, romances, travels and longings, among other subjects.

In this ad, Hem's lead singer Sally Ellyson's bell-like voice sings in near whispers into the mic: "There are better days to meet us where we stand/They are gathering in clouds and spreading out/Over land ..." The song is called "Better Days," and it is played against a backdrop of scenes from an old-fashioned carnival.

Audio Clip


"Better Days," Hem

The commercial evokes a nostalgia for small-town America, with the dusky time of day, its no-tech games, bumper cars and quiet message: People who do good things tend to inspire more people to do good things. It's a gentle reminder that paying it forward does, in fact, yield results.

With its old-fashioned Ferris wheel adorned with small white lights and gorgeous string and horn arrangements in the background, you know right away that you are not at Six Flags or Kings Dominion ... rather, you are in a place where time has slowed down a bit, enough for you to pay attention to the sound of your heart, given how hard it is to hear sometimes.



The message of this message, then, is not cynical, crassly commercial, nor is it precious or trivial. It brings me directly to what Barack Obama said at his Democratic Convention acceptance speech in Denver. We are our brother's keeper, our sister's keeper. We have a responsibility to watch out for one another, to do the right thing. Our better selves will seek out these opportunities because our present circumstances demand it.

There are not a lot of TV programs - much less TV commercials - that stop me in my tracks, but the marriage of Hem's music and lyrics to the carnival scenes is that rare example of art and commerce providing a public service message for the soul. As a songwriter friend of mine is fond of signing his e-mails, "Remember, music makes you smarter." In this case, he is absolutely right.

Hem is a very special band of musicians. Their records can be found where most fine music is sold, earthbound and in cyberspace.

• Editor's Note: This is the debut of a regular column for The Washington Times by five-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. It will appear every other week in the Show section.

For more information on Mary Chapin Carpenter, check out these links:

Come Darkness Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas by Mary Chapin Carpenter

www.marychapincarpenter.com

rounder.com

Friday, November 21, 2008

strangers are everywhere.

I ran into two people I know on the street. A guy who for the life of me I cant remember his name but he was my corresponding Probation Officer when I start at CMS in Queens. I saw him near Family Court in Manhattan.

I got on the train with a woman who I hadnt seen in over 20 years who worked with me at St Josephs. Her name was Gina and we talked all the way into the city.

Saturday Night in Chatham NJ with Janis Ian





reposting of another Blog

MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER: A campaign, a commercial
Intimations of 'Better Days' ahead
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Friday, November 21, 2008


Like many of my friends, I spent much of the fall surgically attached to the TV remote, watching any and all news of the presidential election. There were a few things I missed during the waning days of the race because I was glued to the evening news: a few of the most beautiful autumn sunsets imaginable over the Blue Ridge Mountains, just west of our farm; lots of late-day walks with canine friends who lay at my feet, heavily sighing with longing to run; toiling away upstairs in my office on new music for a future album, and so on.

Yes, I let a lot of things slide during this election season, and while I am not entirely proud of my 24/7 news cycle cravings, the race was a compelling episode of our political system at work that proved endlessly fascinating to me.

With all that TV watching, I yawned through a lot of commercials (My TiVo can only tape one show at a time, blast!), but I found myself frozen in place every time a certain ad came on. It was a commercial for an insurance company, and it featured the music of one of my favorite bands, Hem.

Gary Maurer, Sally Ellyson, Steve Curtis and Dan Messe (from left) make up the folk rock band Hem.

Hem's albums are full of gorgeous chamber folk-rock, moving orchestral passages and interludes and enigmatic, evocative lyrics that speak to every life's joys, losses, romances, travels and longings, among other subjects.

In this ad, Hem's lead singer Sally Ellyson's bell-like voice sings in near whispers into the mic: "There are better days to meet us where we stand/They are gathering in clouds and spreading out/Over land ..." The song is called "Better Days," and it is played against a backdrop of scenes from an old-fashioned carnival.
Audio Clip

"Better Days," Hem

The commercial evokes a nostalgia for small-town America, with the dusky time of day, its no-tech games, bumper cars and quiet message: People who do good things tend to inspire more people to do good things. It's a gentle reminder that paying it forward does, in fact, yield results.

With its old-fashioned Ferris wheel adorned with small white lights and gorgeous string and horn arrangements in the background, you know right away that you are not at Six Flags or Kings Dominion ... rather, you are in a place where time has slowed down a bit, enough for you to pay attention to the sound of your heart, given how hard it is to hear sometimes.

The message of this message, then, is not cynical, crassly commercial, nor is it precious or trivial. It brings me directly to what Barack Obama said at his Democratic Convention acceptance speech in Denver. We are our brother's keeper, our sister's keeper. We have a responsibility to watch out for one another, to do the right thing. Our better selves will seek out these opportunities because our present circumstances demand it.

There are not a lot of TV programs - much less TV commercials - that stop me in my tracks, but the marriage of Hem's music and lyrics to the carnival scenes is that rare example of art and commerce providing a public service message for the soul. As a songwriter friend of mine is fond of signing his e-mails, "Remember, music makes you smarter." In this case, he is absolutely right.

Hem is a very special band of musicians. Their records can be found where most fine music is sold, earthbound and in cyberspace.

• Editor's Note: This is the debut of a regular column for The Washington Times by five-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. It will appear every other week in the Show section.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 20, 2008

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 20, 2008

Long-time conservative writer Christopher Buckley, son of rightwing icon William F. Buckley, voted for Obama. Though he was once a speech-writer for John McCain, a man he admired, Buckley was aghast at how the presidential campaign unfolded. "I didn't leave the Republican Party," he said. "The Republican Party left me." I urge you to be alert for a comparable development in your own life, Capricorn. A group whose ideals you have held dear may be changing right in front of your eyes. Or perhaps a movement you've been part of has veered off course from the principles that drew you to it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 13, 2008

Capricorn Horoscope for week of November 13, 2008

Check out this excerpt from "Those Who Do Not Dance," by Chilean poet Gabriel Mistral: "God asked from on high, / 'How do I come down from this blueness?' / We told Him: /come dance with us in the light." I love this passage because it reminds me that nothing is ever set in stone: Everything is always up for grabs. Even God needs to be open to change and eager for fresh truths. Furthermore, even we puny humans may on occasion need to be God's teacher and helper. Likewise, we can never be sure about what lowly or unexpected sources may bring us the influences we require. What do Mistral's words mean to you, Capricorn? Imagine you're the "God" referenced in the poem. What blueness are you ready to come down from, and who might invite you to dance in their light?




Sunday, November 09, 2008

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Kevin Smith has given his new opus a name that tells you exactly what it’s about. Literal-mindedness has always been among Mr. Smith’s calling cards. His first film, about clerks, was called “Clerks.” And so it will hardly be shocking that “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” is about two people, named Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks), who make what my copy editors would prefer that I call a pornographic movie. And really, in spite of an avalanche of verbal filth (and a smaller quantum of the visual variety), “Zack and Miri” is not very shocking at all. Mr. Smith has been tinkering with the dirty-mind/soft-heart combination for quite some time, forming a link of sorts between the humanist sexual anarchy of John Waters and the smutty Victorianism of Judd Apatow. He and his characters revel in dialogue that riffs on body parts and bodily fluids, but Mr. Smith’s stories are bathed — metaphorically! — in syrup and schmaltz. So “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” in spite of its sometimes tiresome, sometimes amusing lewdness, follows a gee-whiz romantic-comedy formula that would not be out of place on the Disney Channel. — A. O. Scott , The New York Times


Title: Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Running Time: 101 Minutes

8Rating:
exasperatingly bad

W

Oliver Stone’s Vision Thing: Bush, the Family

By MANOHLA DARGIS
Published: October 17, 2008

The megamillion-dollar question that hovers over Oliver Stone’s queasily enjoyable “W.,” his Oedipal story about the rise and fall, fall, fall of George W. Bush is: why? Neither a pure (nor impure) sendup of the president nor a wholesale takedown, the film looks like a traditional biopic with all the usual trappings, including name actors in political drag — Josh Brolin plays the frat boy who would be king, while Richard Dreyfuss creeps around in a Dick Cheney sneer — alternately choking on pretzels and spleen, and reciting all the familiar lines and lies. History is said to repeat itself as tragedy and farce, but here it registers as a full-blown burlesque.


Mr. Stone’s take on the president, as comic as it is sincere, is bound to rile ax-grinders of every ideological stripe, particularly those who mistake fiction for nonfiction. History informs its narrative arc from Texas to Iraq, but it should go without saying that this is a work of imagination, a directorial riff on real people and places complete with emotion-tweaking music cues, slo-mo visuals and portentous symbolism. It says nothing new or insightful about the president, his triumphs and calamities. (As if anyone goes to an Oliver Stone movie for a reality check.) But it does something most journalism and even documentaries can’t or won’t do: it reminds us what a long, strange trip it’s been to the Bush White House.

In “W.” that trip starts with the middle-aged Bush wearing the number 43 and standing on a baseball field in an otherwise empty stadium. When the off-screen announcer introduces him — “the 43rd president of the United States!” — he looks around for the crowd that isn’t there. It’s a potent image, and while Mr. Stone overuses it, returning Bush to his, er, field of dreams once too often, it works to underscore the film’s ideas about life, political and otherwise, as a performance. In the story Bush burns through one job and identity after another — partying student, imperfect son, indifferent oilman, serial flirt, attentive husband, sports guy, born-again Christian, newly born politician — before taking on the role of a lifetime.

Mr. Stone obviously doesn’t think the role fits, though he goes easier on Mr. Bush on screen than some of his off-screen remarks suggest. In a recent televised schmooze session with Larry King, Mr. Stone characterized the real 40-year-old Mr. Bush as “a bum.” But the movie shows him more as a boozing womanizer, a spoiled son of power and privilege — James Cromwell plays George H. W. Bush, and Ellen Burstyn does a comically mean Barbara Bush — who, swaddled in privilege and hurting for love (a familiar Stone fixation), doesn’t stick with a single book, job or woman. That all changes with Jesus Christ and a little lady named Laura (Elizabeth Banks), twinned epiphanies who steer him down the path of righteousness and over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Mr. Brolin eases through these transitions effortlessly, but it’s a necessarily incomplete performance because, like all the major White House Players, his character looms too large in our lives for him to fully possess. It can be disconcerting when actors play historical figures, and it’s infinitely stranger when those figures aren’t obscured by time. But it’s one thing to watch Paul Giamatti scowling about in a presidential wig, as he did in the recent HBO mini-series “John Adams.” It’s something entirely different to watch Mr. Brolin sloppily downing drinks in a pantomime of the current president’s younger self, a figure that doesn’t belong to history but to the present and, by extension, to us. Good as he is, he can’t touch the original.

“W.” isn’t as visually baroque as “JFK” (1991) and “Nixon” (1995), Mr. Stone’s darker, more ambitious excursions into the American psyche and presidency, partly because, I think, he does not yet have enough aesthetic distance from his subject and partly because he seems keen to weigh in as more evenhanded than usual. But while he has tamped down his style, he retains a pleasingly fluid approach to narrative. The story repeatedly shifts between scenes of the younger Bush meandering through his life, and the older Bush navigating through the early stages of the Iraq war. This shuttling across time and space undercuts the drama — the story doesn’t so much build as restlessly circle back — but it puts into visual terms Mr. Stone’s ideas about the present and past being mutually implicated.

That’s fine, often better than fine, though it’s hard not to wish that Mr. Stone had put history into more dynamic play with politics and ideology and given the Big Daddy Bush thing a bit of a rest. Mr. Cromwell does a nice job imitating a block of wood, but there are only so many ways to voice patrician displeasure. Because the film spends so much time on the pre-presidential younger Bush — first glimpsed marinating in vodka in 1966 — and ends sometime in 2004, more than a year into Iraq, it can’t help feeling like a prologue to a more involved story. At a compressed 129 minutes, it only gestures in some directions (Sept. 11), though Mr. Dreyfuss’s impersonation of Mr. Cheney pulling a Dr. Strangelove speaks volumes, encyclopedias.

Because “W.” focuses on the warm-up and not the meltdown, it leans more toward comedy than toward tragedy, a crucial exception being the graphic images of wounded and dead Iraqis and American soldiers that Mr. Stone drops late into the film and that stuff the laughs right back down your throat. This may be a comedy of errors, Mr. Stone seems to be saying, but it’s a murderously costly one. The intrusion of real horror is bluntly effective, though there is something at once morally and structurally suspect about the use of such images in any fiction entertainment, no matter how high-minded and well intended. It’s not just that the dead can’t argue against their commercial exploitation, but Mr. Stone can’t get to where I think he’s trying to go — deep — without them.

He does go deep at that moment, though I’m glad, wrung out by off-screen reality, that he doesn’t stay there long. In “W.” he doesn’t need to haul out the dead or excavate the depths to keep us hooked: he just needs to show Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton) tightly smiling while Bush rants; Donald Rumsfeld (Scott Glenn) flaunting his contempt for presidential power by savoring a piece of pie — Bush has given up sweets to show support for the troops — and Barbara Bush snapping her fingers at the family dog as if calling for its head. The pleasure of Mr. Stone’s work has never been located in restraint but in excess, a commitment to extremes that can drown out the world or, as in this film, give it newly vivid, hilarious and horrible form.

“W.” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). The film has some extremely graphic images of real war and some expletives.

W.



Directed by Oliver Stone; written by Stanley Weiser; director of photography, Phedon Papamichael; edited by Julie Monroe; music by Paul Cantelon; production designer, Derek Hill; produced by Bill Block, Eric Kopeloff, Paul Hanson and Moritz Borman; released by Lionsgate. Running time: 2 hours 9 minutes.

WITH: Josh Brolin (George W. Bush), Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush), Ellen Burstyn (Barbara Bush), James Cromwell (George H. W. Bush), Richard Dreyfuss (Dick Cheney), Scott Glenn (Donald Rumsfeld), Toby Jones (Karl Rove), Stacy Keach (Earle Hudd), Bruce McGill (George Tenet), Thandie Newton (Condoleezza Rice) and Jeffrey Wright (Colin Powell).

Friday, November 07, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008





my election day





my cat and the flu

I have had the flu or crud as i call it, it may actually be a cold, maybe sleeping with a fan on in 40 degrees weather caused the cold. But today, I am finally feeling better. Walking to work i remembered that when i was sick, my cat would not leave my side.
I remember the worst case of flu that I have had short of food poisoning. I was supposed to go to a private Bday party in Philly where Susan Werner was playing and when i left queens I was so sick that I could barely drive home. I got into bed and slept for 12 hours and barely got up except to use the bathroom ( for a variety of reasons) I was stoned cold out of it. It took another 12 hours to feed my cat. During that illness and all others, she would curl up with me and sleep with me, check on me and stay by my side. Being sick made me miss her all over again.

I still listen for her when i open my door. My exterminator looked for her when he came. He saw no litter, no bowl and no cat. He asked for his friend and I told him that Whoopi was put down.

I called to see if her ashes were ready to be picked up and she has not been delivered to the vet yet.

There are moments that I miss her and then on Sunday, I put tuna fish on my salad. I havent been able to eat tuna at home since Whoopi was 2 or 3. She loved it and it was too rich for her stomach and she would have bloody stools so her vet and I decided to keep her off it. So i never ate tuna at home due to respect for her and I didnt want to fight her over the tuna. I now put tuna on my salad liberally. During her last days, I would give her fish or yogurt or ice cream but not tuna. never tuna.

i dont miss her hot body or spiny feeling fur.

President Reagan Inaugural Address

Inaugural Address
West Front of the U.S. Capitol
January 20, 1981

This speech was delivered to the nation when President Reagan was inaugurated to his first term of office.

Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O'Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens.

To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our republic. The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we're not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today.

The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we've had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

We hear much of special interest groups. Well, our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we're sick--professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, "we the people," this breed called Americans.

Well, this administration's objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this "new beginning," and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world.

So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government--not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it's not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work--work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we're too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We're not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.

We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter, and they're on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They're individuals and families whose taxes support the government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet, but deep. Their values sustain our national life.

Now, I have used the words "they" and "their" in speaking of these heroes. I could say "you" and "your," because I'm addressing the heroes of whom I speak--you, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.

We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen; and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they're sick, and provide opportunity to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?

Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic "yes." To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I've just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world's strongest economy.

In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow, measured in inches and feet, not miles, but we will progress. It is time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise.

On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, president of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, "Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of . . . On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves." Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children, and our children's children. And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale. As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength. Above all, we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors. I'm told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I'm deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

This is the first time in our history that this ceremony has been held, as you've been told, on the West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on the city's special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man, George Washington, father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led Americans out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then, beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses of Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom. Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We're told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading "My Pledge," he had written these words: "America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone."

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God's help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans.

God bless you, and thank you.