Thursday, January 25, 2007

State of the Onion

There are so many current political oddities to comment on. Although Bush still needs more time after four years, Kerry admits that his time has run out. Which one seems to have a better sense of reality?

Bush's speech was right on one account; this is not the war we entered. And, if honest, we can admit that we actually did win the one we entered. Sadam is history. But now we are in a different war and that one looks more and more like a loser. Noone, especially Americans, likes to admit to less than victory, but third party bullets don't seem to have much impact on internecine conflict. The combatants do not appear to want peace and we may have to settle for batting five hundred on our last two wars. Backing out slowly and watching from the sidelines for a while may be a prudent course. Since the predictions of chaos are no more sure than predictions of victory, perhaps, given more total responsibility for their country, the Iraqis and the various other Shite and Suni states may decide that negotiation between the religious factions is better than a total Mid Eastern conflagration.

In the domestic health care part of his address, Bush declared at one point that the best medical decisions are those made between a patient and a doctor. That is something I can fully agree with and I wonder if he is really ready to let that occur in the case of reproductive choice. Noone else seems to have made this connection. Maybe I misheard.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gleanings from Arts and Letters Daily

I have mentioned this compilation site before, but the quirky variety of articles that turn up never fails to challenge, amaze, or amuse. I bookmark it and check it often.

Current issue has an article on Tumeric, a main ingredient in curry, which may help against the onslaught of Alzheimers Disease.

Then an article from the Toronto Star on procrastination.

And one on why British sex scandals are so much more juicy than ours.

Followed by more ice!

Monday, January 15, 2007

And then there was Ice!

The great Midwest Ice Storm of 2006 slipped by us with some nastiness but not the hardship and destruction that plagued Missouri and Oklahoma. So as soon as it was light, all I had to do was traipse around the yard and take a few photos.

Friday, January 12, 2007

OFTA Opens Its 2007 With a Galesburg Artist

OFTA (Old F**** Talk Arts) opened its fifth year of programming with a presentation by Michael Acerra, a Galesburg, IL artist. It was a sneak preview of his show titled "Sanctus" that will be on display at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth, IL from Jan. 13 thru Feb. 10th. There will be a formal opening reception on Fri. Jan. 19th from 6-9 pm in the gallery. Although primarily focused on people in the retirement community who are interested in the Fine and Performing Arts, OFTA programs are open to the general public at no charge. Free coffee and home baked goodies are always available.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

To The Sargasso Sea by William McPherson

I'm a sucker for any book that even remotely deals with London and its theatre so when I read the cover blurb and saw that it was a story of a playwright on the verge of a success at London's Royal Court, I was hooked.

Andrew McCalister, the playwright, is married to a lovely woman named Ann and has a darling little daughter named Julia. When he is not watching porn movies being made in the apartment across the way or rooting around with various men and women, he is telling delightful bedtime stories to his daughter about a snake, an armadillo, and a kangaroo who are trying hard to get to Australia. Unfortunately for the author those stories turn out to be more interesting than most of the rest of the book. I kept wanting more of the run-ins of the vegetarian cobra and his friends with the dowager Duchess of Dork, but we always kept coming back to the sour and conflicted playwright, who turns out to be the real Dork. He seems capricious, spoiled, arbitrary, and incapable of much in the way of self control. He also has far more money to throw around than any aspiring playwright in history. It's hard to figure how one opening of a play at the Royal Court qualifies the man and his family to frequent the Ritz, the Connaught, and a number of other posh watering holes. At one point Andrew opines that "There's nothing like a shitload of money to smooth life's little bumps and ridges." That might be true, but I'm still not quite sure where his all came from. The stretch of reality continues when a possible producer of his show in New York takes everyone to Bermuda and spends more on the partying than it might have cost to capitalize the show. All told this was one of those books that you find yourself skimming ever more frequently the closer you get to the end and it is not because you are anxious to see how it comes out. It is primarily because the main character gets progressively more tiresome. As they say, better luck next time--if there is one.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Arts Advocacy News for January

One of my volunteer activities is to serve the Illinois Theatre Association as Director of Advocacy. Some of the items that I have profiled in their newsletter for January are as follows.

The Illinois Arts Alliance is promoting the twentieth National Arts Education Days in Washington DC on March 12 and 13, 2006. Groups from all over the country will gather in the nation’s capital, to learn about arts issues and to lobby members of Congress. You can look at the full schedule on the following site.

If Washington DC is too far away or too pricey for you, why not consider Urbana IL from May 17th to 18th, 2007, when the Illinois Arts Alliance and the Illinois Arts Council will co-convene One State: Together in the Arts, the fifth biennial conference for arts leaders and practitioners in Illinois. The conference will be held at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana. For more information about the conference, contact Lisa May Simpson at or 312-855-3105 ext 15.

Tests are not the only factor in a student’s life, but if you have forgotten the mantra for research on SAT scores, the link noted will remind you that students who take courses in drama and music score better on the SAT than students who do not take courses in the arts.

Does your school library qualify for the National Endowment for the Humanities Free Classic Books Program? It’s called the “We The People Bookshelf Program” and you or your library have until Jan. 31, 2007 to submit an application. Check it out at this site.

And don’t forget to drop me a comment if you should run across any other arts advocacy items.

“I believe that in a great city, or even in a small village, a great theater is the outward and visible sign of an inward and probable culture.”
~Sir Laurence Olivier

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman

For your light reading pleasure let me recommend THE SHAPE SHIFTER by Tony Hillerman.

Legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is now retired from the Navaho Tribal Police, but is clearly itching to continue working. A long cold case, the possible reappearance of an ancient hand woven rug, and the disappearance of an old acquaintance set Leaphorn on the prowl once again through the backroads of the Four Corners. He is on the trail of a heartless master criminal who seems to take on and then lose identities as rapidly as the Shape Shifters in old Navaho lore. There is ample local color, plenty of Navaho philosophy, a suspenseful conclusion, and a graceful exit that promises more adventures to come from Mr. Hillerman and his resourceful detective. A pleasant and informative read for anyone, but especially pleasing for lovers of the Southwest.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's Day Open House

The traditional New Year's Day Open House at our place welcomed a cadre of friends from the community including the daughter of one of our friends from California and another former colleague and his wife from Oregon. There were both healthful and frighteningly sinful goodies available plus some formerly sinful but now healthful items like nuts and chocolate. Some formerly healthful but now perhaps illness producing foodstuffs like lettuce and spinach were barred from the groaning board.

We once again give thanks for a year more free from pain than most others in this world and to a group of friends who continue to be important parts of our lives. The knees are a bit tender this morning after more than three hours of standing and fetching food refills from the basement ice box, but it was well worth all the effort.