Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I am clueless about music. I rarely listen to it and most of the time it's just intrusive background noise to me, but there was a story in today's Inquirer about this song (which I do happen to like) that I found fascinating. Here's the story in a nutshell.
"Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, a song that is almost 25 years old, rose to #1 on the charts in the U.K. this Christmas season. The most downloaded version is by a woman named Alexandra Burke who was a contestant on a U.K. show called The X Factor (brought here as American Idol) and she won with "Hallelujah" as her final song. She obviously has a good voice, but the video on YouTube is painful to watch, so if you want to see it, you'll have to find it yourself. The second-most popular is by Jeff Buckley, above. Jeff Buckley was a singer from California who drowned in the Mississippi River in 1997 and this fact seems to make his version even more moving and poignant. In fact, a lot of people have recorded this song to varying degrees of success. I didn't listen to all of them (that would be too much punishment for me), but I listened to a few, and this was the one I liked third best. Leonard Cohen himself also recorded it here.
I kind of like his version too. It's strange and rather dirge-like, but I like the oddity of how he whips around to look at the chorus when it's their turn. Anyway, here's the really interesting thing about this song, for me at least. What's it about? The religious imagery refers to the story of David and Bathsheba and their illicit love. What's more, it mentions Samson and Delilah and the way Delilah cut off Samson's hair and robbed him of his incredible strength. Whatever love is going on in this song has gone terribly wrong. So does all this reference to sad Bible stories classify it as a Christmas song? I think it has something to do with the melody more than the words. It just sounds holy. I guess I'll have to go along with the author of the Inquirer article who says that it "delivers uplift and consolation, enlightenment and the recognition of shared experience." A song that can do all that works any time of year.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Click on the photo to see the Christmas wishes of a third grade class who decorated this little tree for Christmas. The wishbone ornaments are a nice touch.
It's not raining, it's not snowing, it's not icy. The sun is out and it's pretty mild compared to what we've been through all ready. So that is enough for a joyous Christmas for me. Hope it works for you too. What are your Christmas wishes?
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Don't forget to feed the birds and squirrels and other critters in your yard this winter. In fact, before your kids even start opening gifts, have them take some breadcrumbs and seeds out for the birds to celebrate the day. Thinking of others is always a good idea for those who are so gifted themselves.
Longwood Gardens has a great display of real trees outfitted with the most amazing ornaments made of birdseed and other good things the wild critters love. They've even provided some directions for making some simpler ornaments that kids might have fun doing.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Snap, crackle, pop. The bubble of euphoria that surrounded P-E Obama seems to be bursting as his plan to have Reverend Rick Warren give the inaugural invocation was announced yesterday. To say Rachel was miffed last night would be putting it mildly as she called it a betrayal of a significant portion of the people who helped get him elected. The Reverend is apparently an evangelical pastor who preaches that same sex marriage is akin to incest, is opposed to abortion, and was a large voice in favor of California's Proposition 8. Thus, the gay community and liberal supporters are white-hot mad that P-E O. is giving Warren the honor of the opening prayer at the inaugural ceremony. I hope they don't show up and throw shoes.
So what to make of this move. Is Obama thumbing his nose at many of his supporters in an attempt to curry favor with the evangelical right or is he making a brilliant gesture to illustrate one of the prime messages of his campaign, that his goal will be to make a more inclusive America where all voices can be heard with respect and consideration? Guess we'll just have to stay tuned.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I'm not sure even Superman could leap this one; it's awfully tall and it made me dizzy to take this picture. This is the new Comcast Center, currently the tallest building in town, at 17th & Arch where we went yesterday to see the Christmas show in the lobby. The show itself is all a video, but what a video! The screen is immense: 83 feet wide and 25 feet high. Comcast says it's the largest 4 millimeter LED screen the world, with 10 million pixels. It's five times brighter than the latest high-definition TV. You could swear that the people running around up there are really there dancing above the crowd and not merely projected on a screen. Just amazing. I tried to post a video I took, but I'm not having any luck. Will have to work on this.
Alexander Milne Calder spent 20 years creating some 250 sculptures for Philadelphia’s City Hall. Included in his creations is the 37-foot bronze statue of William Penn atop the tower, and the eight bronze sculptures that were installed from 1894-1896 above the clocks/clock level: four eagles (perched above each clock face); a Native American warrior with a dog; a Native American woman with a child; a Swedish man with a child; and a Swedish woman with a child and lamb. This is the first time the sculptures have been cleaned and treated since they were installed, so no wonder they were so dirty.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Now here's my question on the Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich scandal. The Governor has done some very nasty things and is on the verge of impeachment. Probably heading the list right now is his threat to sell the senate seat vacated by Barack Obama to the highest bidder, but this is by no means all the evil he has perpetrated. The list is quite extensive. However,the senate seat issue is such a hot button that the debate rages about how to decide who gets it now that Blagojevich has been totally discredited. Under normal circumstances the Governor would be the legally empowered person to decide the successor of a vacated senate seat.
So what to do? Who gets the seat? There are five or six--maybe more--wannabes clamoring for it. One suggestion is to have a special election and let the people of Illinois decide. That way nobody can be accused of any monkey business. Here's where it gets complicated for me. The citizens of Illinois are the very people who elected Blagojevich in the first place. Did I say "TWICE"? Not only that but in the early 1970s Otto Kerner, a former governor and federal judge, was convicted and sent to prison. While governor, Kerner acquired shares in a race track association and then helped its owner secure favorable dates for races.
More recently there is the sad case of George Ryan whose 35-year political career was tarnished by scandal. Investigations into widespread corruption during his administration led to his retirement from politics in 2003 and federal corruption convictions in 2006. Ryan entered federal prison on November 7, 2007, to begin serving a sentence of six years and six months. He is reportedly lobbying President Bush for a pardon as we speak.
A third governor to go to prison was Dan Walker. After his term, Walker was convicted of fraud involving a failing savings and loan.
And then there are all the corrupt politicans who escaped prison but remain forever known for their dastardly deeds. Richard J. Daley himself was one. Another was a former Illinois secretary of state, Paul Powell. At Powell’s death, the New York Times reported, the governor actually placed guards outside the official’s office to keep staff from removing documents. Then Powell’s executor found $800,000 in shoe boxes in Powell’s closet. Wonder where that came from?
So my question is do we put it to the voters of Illinois who elected all these corrupt officials in the first place to decide who gets the senate seat? How is that a good idea? It might be a better idea to just toss their names in a hat and let me pick one. Or you. Or anybody but an Illinois voter.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
It's a dark rainy day here today, and I am thinking how nice it would be to go take a little nap. But I just got home from running a lot of errands and have too much to do. Miles to go before I sleep.
On a happier note, I filled (yes, FILLED) my car today for $15.62. I was stunned. The guy at the cash register said, "I bet you hate getting change from a $20.00 at the gas station." I said, "I was probably about 20 myself the last time that happened." Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but all the same. Change. From a 20. Wow.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
The Detroit CEOs who came to Washington this week are appropriately contrite and willing to deliver corporate survival plans that include a focus on higher efficiency vehicles and management restructuring. The unions are promising to cooperate and make wage concessions to keep the companies afloat.
The latest talk this morning is that the Senate wants to reclaim part of the original 700 billion Wall St. bailout and give part of it to Detroit. The hitch is the current administration won’t agree to that. Surprise, surprise.
I think Jon says it all pretty succinctly:
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Black Friday is over and retail sales were up 3% over last year. Despite the frightening economy, the home mortgage crisis, and widespread unemployment, we still went shopping. We have to shop, we are indoctrinated to shop--we have become a nation of shoppers. We shop online and in person. We shop every hour of every day. Sometimes we stand in line for hours or camp outside of stores all night waiting for the doors to open. Our economy is depending on us to shop our way out of the mess we’re in. And what do we shop for? The same junk we look at every day, only maybe this time at a discount.
When you travel around the country, you find the same stores every five or ten miles in the same mall layouts. What is so special about that? What can we possibly discover that makes all this shopping worth it? The chains have driven the really interesting, unique stores out of business so all that’s left is the same stuff you see everywhere.
“Only 25 days left until Christmas”
“Make us your Holiday Headquarters”
“See our weekly ad . . .our daily ad . . .our hourly ad”
“Only two days left at this incredible price”
“Free gift” “Free shipping” “No interest or payment for 2 years”
“Absolutely everything on sale”
And last, but by no means least, we trample over people and stomp them to death to get to a piece of junk made in China by workers who make about 40 cents an hour. The poor soul on Long Island who opened the doors to hoards of WalMart bargain hunters on Friday was trampled to death by people who ran right over his dead body and then complained when the store was emptied out and closed down after the discovery. There’s the Christmas spirit, folks! If we can’t do better than this, we have far greater problems in this country than the economy.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
And the dear little shed, all power-washed and waiting for some tender, loving care come spring.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The unassailable right to vote is the core principle of any democracy. And people have the right to cast their ballot for whomever they want, for good reasons, for bad reasons, or for no reason at all. Let’s face it, we as a nation are horribly uninformed when it comes to politics. Approximately one-third of the people in this country, people of voting age, couldn’t tell you the name of our current Vice-President. Now, admittedly, some of us like to block it out, but even so, only two in five adult Americans know we have three branches of government and Mr. Feldcamp expects his employees to actually know the political issues of the day? Well, today our news programs consist solely of sensational headlines and sound bites. People forego newspapers for the Internet where instead of relying on credentialed journalists, they turn to these bloggers, sort of entry level life forms who have intellectually even yet to emerge from the primordial ooze. This is how we’ve gotten the elected officials we’ve gotten. We’ve never really cared about issues. We’re more concerned about how Hillary looks in a pants suit and whether Barack can bowl. We don’t always go for the best or the brightest; we elect the guy we’d most like to have a beer with or the gal we’d most like to feel up in the back of the car. Now, I certainly wouldn’t pick my airline pilot that way or my accountant or my doctor, but for my President, so often it’s “give me the blue collar, lunch bucket, good ole boy who fits in best at the pancake breakfast." The problem with Mr. Feldcamp, and forgive me, I hate to say this about anybody, is he’s an elitist. … The message is we vote for who we like, it’s as simple as that, we don’t need to have a reason. It’s as simple as that. The Founding Fathers did not form a meritocracy; this is a democracy. We can be as stupid as we choose. We’re Americans. We’re as simple as that.
Now aside from that cheap shot about bloggers, Alan is making an important point here. Why don’t we care more about our national or state or local leaders? Why do we allow corruption, immorality, inefficiency, and stupidity to range unchecked across our political landscape? I’m really asking the question here, because I’m as guilty as anyone. Is it too boring, or too time consuming, or too scary to actually try to understand the issues and vote intelligently on them? I got engaged in this campaign and I read (yes, Alan, I did) newspapers, and watched (all) the debates and (some parts of) the conventions. I looked at news shows until I understood who was beating what drum, and I figured out who was liberal and who was conservative on the Internet and spent some time reading both sides, and you know what, I found I actually could understand most of what was going on and who stood for what and who was promising what and how they proposed acting on those promises. And—light bulb moment—it wasn’t all that hard! So, although the right to be stupid is not prohibited by our Constitution, it feels quite refreshing to feel smart for a change.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Bill told me a nice story he heard today. Cole Hamels and his wife were in West Chester the other night eating dinner. Everyone in the restaurant knew who they were but didn't make any fuss or bother them one bit. They were able to eat in peace and privacy and enjoy their time together. It was only when they were obviously finished and ready to leave that the other customers arose and gave him a standing ovation. Nice way to end the evening. I bet he felt good all the way home.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Chris took me to see this cemetery a few weeks ago and we just stood in silence and looked at the gravestones that stretched as far as the eye can see in every direction. It was hard to take a photograph that could express the immensity. . .both of the place itself and how you feel when you look out at all that sacrifice. So many to honor.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I've been feeling kind of at loose ends since the election. I don't know what to do now now that it's over and I don't have all that political stuff to read on the Internet.
So to brighten myself up a bit, I am sharing a few blog posts that have touched me or amused me over the past few days. I hope you will enjoy them too. Only the first once is serious, but it is light and lovely. It is actually from people from other countries who are interested in what happens to us, although some of our citizens have also posted to it. It's called Thank You USA. I am really touched by the Langston Hughes poem a short way down, I, too, sing America. I've seen that several times now on other blogs.
This is from a Canadian blogger who obviously cares about our country. It was written as advice before the election, but it's so funny, it's well worth reading still. And it's aptly titled Dear America.
Next we have a message from the Queen. She was awfully nice to take the time to write.
I am especially fond of #4.
You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.
I cannot, however, go along with #12, although I see her point.
Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
And, finally, from the very funny Seth Grahame-Smith who wrote this post before the election as well. Hah! We showed him.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Shepherd Fairey poster
We just came home from voting and, boy, was it an anticlimax after all the whooping and hollering. Just one man in front of us and about 6 doddering old ladies trying to get him signed in. God help the people who get in a longer line. This year the process was different from the last few times we voted. They handed us a manilla folder with a legal size sheet of paper in it with all the candidates names. Then we went into a 3-sided booth and picked up the pen and filled in (very carefully) the ovals next to the names we were voting for. Then we walked over to what looked like a big shredder and handed our paper and the folder to the man standing there. He ripped a perforated border off the bottom of our sheet and told us to put the larger piece in the shredder, uh, scanner. Then we were done. It only took about 10 minutes even with the old ladies. I was accosted on the way in by a woman with a big McCain/Palin banner around her chest who asked for our support and said she was a military mom. I just shook my head at her and said quietly, "you're wrong." She backed off immediately.
I am afraid for my country today. I think the last time I was this afraid was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was in college then and I remember going off by myself on a perfect late October afternoon and sitting on a rock and looking at the sky, trying to imagine if I would be able to actually see the missiles flying overhead when they came or if I would just be obliterated before I knew what happened.
I hope my country can come through today like it came through that crisis, because this is every bit as dangerous a world now as it was then--a lot more dangerous in fact. I am hoping that people of intelligence and good will are banding together today to give our country a chance at a real future, not just more of the same. But right now I don't know what's going to happen, so as Tug McGraw put it, "ya just gotta believe." I'm believing real hard right now.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
In case you didn't know, we had a big parade yesterday. A beautiful parade. The day was gorgeous, the crowd was jubiliant, the players were floating, literally. Philadelphia celebrated its World Champion Phillies in style and with much love. This city, so starved for heroes, embraced these "boys of summer" on a sparkling fall day to the pleasure and joy of everyone.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Photo from Philadelphia Inquirer
Poor Phillies. Poor fans. Poor anybody who was hoping for a Phillies' win last night. It was truly a miserable night. It wasn't just a little rain either. It was cold and windy and raining hard. They should have done something earlier than they did. Nobody could play in those conditions. Now, Tuesday morning it's still raining and blowing and wintery. What's to become of us? Stayed tuned.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
And how about this as a symbolic shot of where they all belong. Except they shouldn't be there in the first place.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
So even if you don't have a Chanticleer, maybe you can find a peaceful garden near you to tide you through 'til Spring.