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Archive for the category “opinion”

Here I am, down here with Doc Martin …

Forgive me, I have disappeared into the bowels of Netflix – my, that’s a disgusting turn of phrase – but at its heart its true.  For the past month or so, on weekends I have run away to Portwenn, England with layovers in New York City to visit Sherlock and Tim Gunn.  Mmm hmm, yup … I have officially snapped.

I have been assisting in the total care of my mom now for over a year and I think my mind finally decided I needed a vacation.  Enter Doc Martin! Yes, that’s right Doc Martin.  After seeing one episode on my local PBS station, I went on Netflix and got lost in Portwenn for six seasons worth of shows.  I enjoyed the scenery, ensemble acting, the characters becoming each important in their own way much like in Northern Exposure, if anyone remembers the old CBS show.  Portwenn became a place to go to and have stories told me in the gentleness of the British seaside where my reality didn’t exist.  Plus I loved the ability of the good doctor to just tell people to shut up and get the hell out of the way.  Oh, to be able to do that in real life without consequences.  He is grumpy and not the most handsome of men, emotionally inarticulate and yet fun to watch.  And look they’re making more!!!

http://www.digitalspy.com/british-tv/news/a507888/doc-martin-series-six-itv-unveils-first-trailer.html

When I wasn’t in Portwenn, I was in New York City, Brooklyn to be exact, supplementing my fantasy life with heaping helpings of Elementary (CBS show).  Let it be known, that I am declaring my love for Jonny Lee Miller here and now for all the world to hear (Don’t worry Mr. Rickman, you’re still held fondly in my heart, now stand over their with Viggo).  I enjoy Elementary immensely – the relationship between Joan Watson and Holmes has grown and changed and is interesting to watch.  I obviously have always had a fascination for Holmes and Mr. Miller’s portrayal is second to only one man – I’m sorry but Basil Rathbone will always be Holmes to me, he being the one that introduced the character and the books to me.  But Jonny Lee Miller is a very close second.  His representation of Holmes is modern but still adheres to canon – he carries the humor and the humanity that Holmes was imbued with by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as the eccentricity, lack of social graces and penetrating talents that make Holmes who he is.  Mr. Miller’s performance is fun to watch – saying so much with just the slightest of eye movements. There is a childlike quality in some of his mannerisms and expressions that make him all the more endearing… okay I’m gushing here aren’t I.  Sorry.  Lucy Liu’s performance provides the perfect calmness of Watson to the stories.  Her character is a more of an equal partner to Holmes than the canonical Watson.  She does not merely stand around and say, wow, how’d you figure that one out – she actively participates and assists.  Here is video of the pilot episode where Holmes and Watson first meet – their dynamic changes throughout the show.

I think I’m going to have to buy a copy of the BBC’s Emma where Jonny Lee Miller plays Mr. Knightley, a very different character from Holmes.  Hopefully, that won’t send me careening into an Austen kick.  Actually while I like Austen, I’ve never been obsessive about her as I have been with Bronte or Doyle.

I was going to post a comparison with the BBC Sherlock but I’m opting out after seeing the mayhem and vitriolic hatred that having two good versions (altho’ I find Elementary is much more entertaining) of a modern-day Holmes available for enjoyment has engendered – particularly the Cumberbatch fans (not all of course) on Tumblr.  Makes you want to shake people and yell – Its two different interpretations – one does not take anything away from the other.  Here is a nice sane comparison of the two shows without drool or drama http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/79347119.html

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been – on a mental vacation.  Introverts like myself need alone time, down time, get the hell away from me and don’t ask me anything time.  I’ve enjoyed it.

An opinion …

Can we cut Florida loose? Please? Can we, the 49 states, decide to pull a Lorena Bobbitt, and detach Florida from the union? They clearly have no regard for the lives of children – how else can you account for clearing Anthony and Zimmerman of murder and/or manslaughter. Plus they are incapable of holding proper elections (hanging chads anyone?). The only thing the state has going for it is Orlando and that’s not enough to make it worthy of being kept as part of the United States. I say we sell them off to Cuba and bring Puerto Rico in as a replacement, that way we don’t have to change the flag.

Pixy-led

I don’t like the word “dementia.” For me it is a medieval sounding word that carries connotations of “crazy” and “straightjackets” and “reprehensible actions” and just a certain amount of accusation – as if the person chose for this to happen.  My mom was officially diagnosed with moderate dementia over a year ago.  She has been ebbing and flowing, worsening and lessening and worsening once more as the months roll by.  What I’m witnessing with my her is not craziness but a slipping away from the moorings, a setting adrift of the persona that has to be reeled in every so often, a loss of control of the body by the confusion of the mind.

Look at the words that are associated with “dementia” via the Thesaurus:

aberration, absurdity, alienation, brainsickness, craziness, delirium, delusion, dementia , derangement, distraction, disturbance, dotage, folly, frenzy, hallucination, hysteria, illusion, inanity, irrationality, irresponsibility, lunacy, madness, mania, mental disorder, mental illness, neurosis, phobia, preposterousness, psychopathy, psychosis, senselessness, unbalance, unreasonableness, witlessness

There should be a better word to describe the illness, a more compassionate word. Dotage isn’t bad – it brings to mind Queen Victoria and lacy handkerchiefs. I kind of like the word “pixilated” (see Mr. Deeds Goes to Town – really, see it – it’s a wonderful movie).  Pixilated has synonyms that are much friendlier sounding:

Origin of PIXILATED irregular from pixie First Known Use: 1848

Synonyms: addle, addled, addlepated, bedeviled, befogged, befuddled, bemused, bewildered, bushed [chiefly Australian], confounded, confused, dazed, distracted, dopey (also dopy), fogged, mixed-up, muddleheaded, muzzy, dizzy (also pixillated), punch-drunk, punchy, raddled, shell-shocked, silly, slaphappy, spaced-out (or spaced), spacey (also spacy), stunned, stupefied, zonked, zonked-out

Reading the Wikipedia entry on pixies, I found this rather interesting:

They are not completely benign however, as they have a reputation for misleading travellers (being “pixy-led”, the remedy for which is to turn your coat inside out).  ~William Crossing, Tales of the Dartmoor Pixies, 1890, page 6.

If that is true, then I have been pixy-led very much throughout my life – just ask anyone who has traveled with me.

Nowadays though, if you tell anyone under the age of 30 that you are pixilated, they’ll assume your pixels have been scrambled (which sort of gets the meaning across in a way).  So how about  using the word “befuddled.” I would much rather be described as suffering from befuddledness than dementia.

If the media is to be believed, a great many of our generation are headed toward the diagnosis of dementia.  Boomers should petition the medical community to come up with a less harsh term.  Not to make light of the disease – it is serious and very sad, but should I end up where my mom is heading you have my permission to call me pixy-led, addlepated, befogged, confounded or even zonked and zonked-out but not demented.

“Seminar” a very subjective non-review

Seminar, a play by Theresa Rebeck, directed by Sam Gold and starring Alan Rickman, Hamish Linklater, Lily Rabe, Jerry O’Connell,  and Hettienne Park currently at the Golden Theater, in New York City.
I’m going to start by being honest.  This is why I went to see the play:  
Meeting Alan Rickman.  Yes, immensely shallow of me, a stage degree-toting and supposed aficionado of the “theatre,” but that is the truth.  I had built the experience up in my head into this sparkling and witty exchange between myself and Alan and the rest of the cast and instead, I just thrust out my program, and said nothing other than a quiet thank you.  Mercifully someone behind me, engaged Mr. Rickman in chitchat about Snow Cake so I got to hear his voice up close and personal, which was the second reason I went to New York.  He is soft spoken and came across to me to be at least as shy as I am … but that voice!   Sound and voice have become very important to me as of late.  I now wear two hearing aids and have come to realize how subjective sound truly is.  Which brings me to a rather sad truth about my experience at Seminar – I missed about a third of what was being said — not through any fault of the performers and I don’t think it was the acoustics in the theater, I think it was a combination of where I was sitting and the performance of the hearing aids at this particular event.  It was most frustrating to have everyone around me laughing and not having a clue as to what had just been said.
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THERE ARE SPOILERS FROM HERE ON DOWN SO GO SEE THE SHOW AND THEN COME BACK AND READ (oh, and when you do, maybe you can fill me on what I missed).
The performances were of course excellent as one expects at this level of professional theater.  Alan Rickman’s performance was wonderful and his voice carried strong and clear and I didn’t miss hardly a word he said (fortunately for me his voice falls in the range I can hear quite well).  Unfortunately for me, Ms. Rabe’s voice is in that tonal range that I have lost and I missed a lot of her lines which from the reaction in the theater were some of the funniest.  But the performance and the character that surprised me the most was that of Hamish Linklater.  His performance had a depth that kept up with Mr. Rickman’s, particularly in the second act.
As for the play, well, I should probably give it another viewing before I pass judgment, but what the hell, I’ll pass judgment anyway. The play really comes into its own in the second act.  When the setting changes to Leonard’s apartment, the tone of the play changes and we get beyond the witty veneer of pseudo-critique that goes on in Kate’s apartment which is all style but not much soul.  The set for Leonard’s apartment made me want to crawl on stage and explore the books, knickknacks and papers, snuggle into a corner and read. It personified the more complex internal life of the writer (BTW my BFA is in set design, I leave theaters humming the scenery). In Leonard’s apartment we come to know the reality of Leonard’s life and of Martin’s and of all writers/artists — being an artist is more than just producing the work by yourself in a small room, its having the confidence to then put that work out into the cold, harsh world and enduring all the gyrations and politics that come along with that.  Easy to say, but hard to do. This is the point in the play where Alan Rickman, as an actor, bites into the character and show us who he is, where he’s been and what has shaped him.  We forget its “Rickman, the Actor,” and feel for Leonard, the artist and man and how he is coping with his life.  Talent and technique – the two “t’s” of acting.  This act is also where Linklater shines as the personification of young, insecure talent.
To be honest, I still don’t know what it was that got Kate into Leonard’s bed (I told you not to read until you saw the play, now you’ve ruined it for yourself).  Granted, all Leonard would have to say is “hello” to get me – heck, who am I kidding, he could say “get the hell out of my face” and I would follow him anywhere… but again I digress into my own little fantasy world.  I still don’t understand how or why Kate’s mind was changed about a man she considered loutish at best.  Both Kate and Izzy sleep with Leonard (not that I blame them), leaving me with the impression that Ms. Rebeck believes female writers must use sex to get their work recognized. Is that what women have to do in this day and age to get their work out there?  It would have been an interesting, albeit a different play, if the Martin character was female.  Would the quality of her writing have been sufficient to entice Leonard to help “Martine” without the sexual undertones?  Like I said, I missed a good bit of what went on so I may be way off the mark here.  Bottom line is I’m going to have to see this play again (I’m collecting funds to travel back NYC – feel free to contribute) or get a copy of the play once it is available (probably the more sensible thing to do).
Here are a few more snaps.  I got the one of Jim Belushi by mistake.  Just as I was about to take AR’s photo, someone said “Great show tonight” and he turned to shake hands and I got this:
Seminar 12/8/11

Rickman and Belushi 12/8/11 Seminar

BTW – I did exchange a few words other than thank you with teh man.  When he had finished, and people were beginning to disperse, he asked “did I get everyone” – which was, I thought, very kind of him, and I piped up “I think so, but you can sign mine again, if you’d like “ which was met with a smile and a “no that’s alright” as he ran for his car… Okay – so it wasn’t witty repartee but I did manage to say something rather than standing and grunting.  I consider that an accomplishment. 

Hamish Linklater 12/8/11 Seminar

Jerry O'Connell!

Alan Rickman 12/8/11 Signing

… and you talk about anything …

Gerry Rafferty passed away today.  I really didn’t know what he looked like and  I only knew him for a few of his songs – I never listened to an album.  But the songs that I remember of his are haunting and smart and evocative of times and places that live within us and out in the cold, night air.  I was truly saddened to hear of his passing.  Baker Street is capable of instantly stopping me in my tracks.  The sax solo hushes everything else and the man’s voice and lyrics say it all..

Right Down the Line” in its own way and for a myriad of reasons gets to me every time  – a near perfect love song.  Unfortunately the lyrics of “Stuck in the Middle With You” now carry a certain poignancy after reading this article about his Leaving Las Vegas-styled decline: The Lonely Road from Baker Street…

Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you,
And I’m wondering what it is I should do,
It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face,
Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place,
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

Well you started out with nothing,
And you’re proud that you’re a self made man,
And your friends, they all come crawlin,
Slap you on the back and say,
Please…. Please…..

Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see that it makes no sense at all,
Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor,
‘Cause I don’t think that I can take anymore
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

This obituary from the Wall Street Journal made me feel a wee bit better about his passing – he at least had his daughter by his side.  gerry-rafferty-scottish-singer-dies-at-63/

Farewell Mr. Rafferty and thank you.  I hope you have found your way home.

Hello. Remember me?

I used to post here.  Its been so long since I’ve written on this blog, I thought an introduction might be in order.  I have found that writing is not so much a talent or a skill as it is a habit.  I fell out of the habit and hence the long, cold, dark corridor that grew between posts.  So, I’m back (at least for now) turning on lights at the old blog and trying to kick start the habit.  Its amazing that all that’s gone on has not motivated me to write – a new Harry Potter movie, a new Eels album, a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a trip to New York City (and no I did not bring back any bedbugs – at least none that have bitten me yet) and nary a word about it from me.  Well, now all that seems like old news and we don’t want to rehash the past – so I’ll just move forward.

Here is the issue that’s foremost on my mind right now – to Barbie or not to Barbie?  My little niece has found my old Francie and Stacey dolls and her mom’s Starr doll and is captivated by them and their little shoes and their little clothes and carries them around in various states of undress.  She is 3 and a half years old.  I swore to myself 12 years ago when my first niece was born that I wouldn’t buy any little girl a Barbie — mainly because I believe it gives young girls a very negative image of what being a female human being is all about – its not about the clothes or the hair or the shoes – its about soul and knowledge and charity and intelligence pushing the human race to better itself … what? too much to ask of a doll?

Oh, yes I know Barbie has tried to change her image but just because you put glasses and a lab coat on her doesn’t make her a role model for future female scientists.   She is still a bimbo except she’s wearing glasses.  Its still about the clothes and the hair and the accessories.  And here, here is where the hypocritical part of all this rears its ugly, unblonde and uncoiffed head – I LOVED my Francie doll – I still do.  So much so, that when my niece combs her hair a little too roughly I can’t help but yelp and grab the doll out of her cute little hands.  I used to love, love, love looking through the little catalog that came with the doll.  It was full of mod and groovy clothes and shoes that I could never afford for her.  My mom would knit for Francie and make her clothes. As I got older I made some for her too – the kind that looked great from the front but were all pinned and roughly stitched in back.

But look at what loving that Barbie did for me – am I a scientist or a mathematician.  No.  Am I contributing anything other to society than sporadic ramblings on questionable topics?  Uh, now I’ve gone and depressed myself.  See!  See, that’s what Barbie’s do to you.

And look, look at what I found at Target today: 

And I’m not really a shoe person – really – I have one or two pair of sketchers that I’ve been wearing to death and a couple of high heels that I haven’t worn in months – but the sight of all those little shoes in their little cases …. what do I do?  Do I go against my beliefs and buy my niece a Barbie and accessories or do I just go ahead and buy them for myself, stash them in the garage and play with them when the kids aren’t around.  What to do…. what to do….

For the record, I have similar issues with G.I. Joes for boys.  My nephews won’t get GI Joes from me.  Funny enough tho’, I don’t have issues with superhero figures.  When you get into the realm of fantasy, weird body proportions and strange wardrobes don’t really matter.  Oh, and that reminds me, in case you were wondering — we’re just going to leave Ken completely out of all this for now.

Soy Uruguaya?

Naci en Argentina de madre uruguaya y padre argentino.  But I grew up in the U.S.A. from the age of 6 on up (legal, man, I’m legal – I’m a naturalized citizen – I live in Arizona – you have to show your papers).

All this leaves me in a quandry every 4 years when the World Cup comes around.  In the past its been pretty simple – AR-GEN-TINA!  The other two nations that lay claim to my loyalties were not a factor in previous games.  Well this year I find that I just spent the morning yelling in Spanish early in the morning Vamos U-RU-GUAY! And then until a short while ago shouting GO U.S.A., U.S.A.!!!  Unfortunately, they were just taken out of the games by Ghana (again) making my decision a little bit easier.  And tomorrow morning I’ll be yelling AR-gen-tina, AR-GEN-TINA!

Which leaves with a decision to make – soy Argentina o soy Uruguaya?  Uruguay looks good and I have secretly been rooting for them all along.  They are hungry for a win and have the talent to do it.  Its a classic underdog story.  I’m angry at how little press coverage the Uruguay team has gotten considering how well it has done.

Argentina is one of the powerhouses of the game (much like the much-hated-by-me Yankees of the MLB).  They are favored but they are led by Maradona who in my opinion is a loon.  He may have been a great soccer player but the man is an arrogant loony (altho’ apparently a pretty good coach).

So when push comes to shove what am I and where do my loyalties lie?  I think I’ll let the teams decide that for me – I will be equally happy for an Argentine or Uruguayan win (altho’ I think I may be just a teeny bit happier if Uruguay wins because, well, frankly they have the cutest team – Go Forlan!!!! Go Diego Go!)

Thud

What’s that?  That’s the sound of the Tony Award Show gracelessly falling.  I’m going to be honest and direct about my opinions – your opinion may vary:

Starting off with rock and roll and Greenday to try and engage a younger crowd – shameless.  I liked the deer in the headlight looks of some of the older thespians while the middle-aged tried to nod their heads and clap along to at least give the appearance of understanding what was happening before them.

Sean Hayes is wonderful.  He is being a trooper about this – its the pacing of the show and the presentation of awards that just is not cutting it – speaking of cutting – some one should have stopped Scarlett about 5 minutes into her thank you speech.

And who decided to have the actors come out and talk about the nominated plays (as opposed to musicals who are allowed to perform production numbers).  It is a credit to how good some of these actors are that they can make pitching the play to us interesting (I’m looking at you Tony Shaloub!).

And does Zeta-Jones go into traction at the end of every performance of Send in the Clowns?  I don’t see how she avoids whiplash from whipping her head back and forth like that while she sings – she was making me dizzy.

Angela Lansbury is still strong!  Go Angela!

David Hyde Pierce doesn’t look well.  I was ecstatic to see Katie Finneran win for best Featured Actress in Promises, Promises – the only Broadway show I saw this year.  She was magnificent, inventive and above all funny.  Her time was impeccable.  It was trite of them to put the Crane boys together to present – and kind of serindipitous to have “Poppy” win (see reference here).

Apparently no one is cut off at the Tonys.  Did Viola Davis not thank Denzel on purpose?  or was it a major oversight?

Sure they can make time for a production number from a television show but can’t present actors acting (i.e. – plays being performed rather than described)?

Oh I love Nathan Lane!  You could see him just biting his tongue and read his thoughts across his face after that embarassingly gushy Sarah Jessica Parker-like thank you that Catherine Zeta Jones sweatingly effused after she won.  And talk about cool little handshake when Hodge won for best actor in a musical in essentially the same role that Nathan Lane presented on screen.  I really wish I could have gotten to see his and Bebe’s performance in the Addams Family this year.

Oh my lord, half the audience stood up and went on stage when they announced Memphis as best musical.  I was afraid the theater was going to tip over.

A Naturalized Alien’s Opinion

For part of my life I was an alien – a legal alien, but an alien just the same.  I came from a country where authorities can demand to see “your documents” at any time.  A country that for a period of time would make people who disagreed with those running the country disappear, simply vanish off the streets.  I became a citizen of the United States by choice.  I believed this country to be different than the country I was born in.  I am Hispanic, I live in Arizona and I am watching the deterioration of civil rights that I thought were an integral part of the America I chose to become a citizen of.   Arizona has made it legal to stop anyone based on their appearance, demand to see their documents and God forbid, they be in the country legally and not have their “papers” on them and have a less than total grasp of the English language, take them into custody.

Illegal aliens have become the scapegoat for all of Arizona’s problems.  Rather than facing the facts that the economy in Arizona is circling the drain and that this state is in such dire financial trouble that it is forcing state employees to take days off without pay, school districts are closing down schools and teachers are being fired for lack of funding, our state legislature turns its eye to illegal aliens, points its old boney finger at “them” and declares them the reason for all our woes.   Rather than attempting to find real solutions to the financial crisis, our legislature spends its time and our money on a plan that is unnecessary, illegal and guaranteed to cost the state of Arizona more money if not in enforcing the law then in the lost revenue from the boycotts planned against the state.  The only recourse those of us who oppose what is being done have is to vote the idiots legislators out of office when their term is up.  The absolute worse thing that President Obama has done to us here in the state of Arizona is to have chosen Gov. Napolitano to join him in D.C. and left us with a power hungry governor who is forcing her agenda down the state’s throat as quickly as she can before she is dragged out of office.  Frankly, even the commercials for “Buzz Mills for Governor” are beginning to look good to me by comparison (kidding, just kidding no Buzz for us, thanks).

On a superficial level, the law does not affect me.  While I am Hispanic, my ethnicity renders me capable of “passing.”   The bigoted image of what an Hispanic or Latino looks like renders me “non-Hispanic” in the eyes of most of American society.   Hispanic is not an ethnicity.  Hispanic means you come from a Spanish speaking country.    I could be of African descent or Japanese descent or German descent and still be Hispanic.   But then who knows how long it will be before those of African, Japanese or German descent will start being stopped on the street and required to show their papers.

Be Aware

“If you don’t have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he’s illegal, we can make him disappear.” Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination…”

I know I usually post lighter fare than this on the blog, but when I heard this and then subsequently read the The Nation article, it scared me.  Really scared me – not oh, oh, cover my eyes scared me but down to the bone, shudder scared me.  I’m going to provide you the link to the audio story and the written one and I ask you to please read or listen.

Audio:  Latino USA (scroll down to Office Park Gulag)

Full Article:  ICE Detention (I recommend reading the whole article)

This is about ICE detaining people in secret jails, with no due process on the suspicion that they might be illegal.  No one is notified. People can simply be made to disappear. And don’t think, this only happens to illegals so eh, who cares – 1) you should care that this is being done to any human being and 2) its happening to U.S. citizens.  While the problem here is nascent, if we as a country are made aware of it now, perhaps it won’t grow into the disease that spread through countries like Argentina and Chile.  The light of public scrutiny can help keep the government on the straight and narrow.    In Argentina there are mothers and grandmothers who after 30 years still wear white kerchiefs on their heads, congregate in the Plaza de Mayo and ask to know what happened to their children.

So, uhm, if I should happen to disappear, some one will know where to start looking…

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