An Obama Tribute to Mandela that Fell Flat in the Rain

I watched President Obama speaking live on television this morning from the Mandela tribute in the Soweto, South African rain, and I felt for him as he struggled against the weather, a bad public address system, and what seemed like a restless audience hoping for him to move faster through his 30-minute monologue so they could get on with their day:

To the people of South Africa — people of every race and every walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us,” the president said. “His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.”

“It is hard to eulogize any man — to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person — their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul,” Mr. Obama said. “How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.”

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Remembering Nora Ephron

I’m not sure how old I was when I first saw the movie When Harry Met Sally — it certainly wasn’t when it first came out as I was only twelve years old at the time and not interested in romantic comedies at all. I do remember exactly how I felt after I finished watching it, however, and that was full of hope that one day I would meet someone with whom I would want to spend the rest of my life.

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Why Do Movie Remakes of Classic Television Series Mock instead of Honor?

As a nostalgic movie and television lover, I am dismayed by the modern notion of taking classic television series and turning them into movies that mock the original.  Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are the current master marauder murderers of a classic original television series with the release of their horrible version of “Dark Shadows” — but this modern movie remaking trend started earlier in 1991 with “The Addams Family” retread of the television series.

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Further Explorations Review with Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian

Bill Evans was one of the most tragic, and gifted, Jazz musicians of our time.  He was a drug addict for decades and he finally died of his disease in 1980.  One of his friends said that Bill’s death was “the longest suicide in history.”  Bill’s keen sense of melody and rhythm inspired generations of Jazz pianists — and Chick Corea knows he owes a lot of his sound and style to Bill Evans.  Chick’s newest album dropped this week — Further Explorations — and it is a riff on Bill Evan’s trendsetting album, “Explorations.”  Chick uses Bill’s sidemen Eddie Gomez on bass and Paul Motian on drums.  Sadly, Paul died in November 2011.  He was 80.

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Remembering September 11 Through Comics

As a child, the Sunday newspaper was my favorite because the comic section was much bigger, and every comic was in full color. Artists were free to tell stories that could not be told in a confined four panel layout. Some comics, like the one panel comic The Lockhorns remained one panel — but there were three different one panel comics instead of one and it was still beautifully colorful. This was before newspaper comics were posted online and put into full color, as is the case with Doonesbury and others.

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Tom Jones and the Burning Gospel Blues

Tom Jones turned 70 years old in June and he’s still making great, memorable, music.  Tom’s latest album — “Praise & Blame” — is an incredibly stunning Gospel Blues tribute to those who founded that American mainstream stable long before him and who then later mainly foundered in anonymity after him.

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In Memory of a Television Giant

June eighteenth was quite the somber day for me. I was returning from California, having spent the early part of the day at Disneyland. I was thrilled at the idea that for the cost of one days admission I had made my paper Disneyland ticket into a plastic one, complete with my digital likeness on the back, allowing me to return on practically any day until June 12 of next year. This excitement faded quickly when I was told that Aaron Spelling had suffered a stroke. It wasn’t too long before he was released from the hospital, which made me a bit optimistic he would get better. Less than a week later, however, complications from the stroke brought on his passing at the age of 83.

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