Saturday, February 28, 2009

What I'm Watching #187

madesc2afr, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" is the sequel. I didn't find the original terribly good, and this one isn't quite as good as the first one. The penguins need their own flick.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


LIFEcover, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

A parent at school donated several boxes of books to the media center. One book not accepted for circulation by the librarian was a retrospective of images from Life magazine, so I scarfed it. And here's the cover from the week of my birth.

How cool is that? The nation fixated on the new president and me: the new apple of my parents' eyes?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, poet RIP

wilmaelizabethmcdaniel, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

I only just learned of the death of poet Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel. An icon of Okie resiliance, tale-telling, and creativity. My mom was an Okie and my people remain on her side of the family largely there and in the west. It gave me a certain affinity for her poems.


In 1933
hope for the future
did not grow as fast
as FDR had predicted

Papa’s hope for a job
did not grow at all

About all that grew
was mulberries—

back of our house
along the creek
in deepest shade

the biggest berries
I ever saw
bursting juicy dark.

They made good pies
in those hard times

Some women complained
the fruit was too bland.

“Add a little vinegar”Mama said
“and they will taste like blackberries
and look the same
when you cut the pie”

I remember when Papa took
his first bite of pie
he got a crinkle of hope
around his eyes.

~ Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, 1925 - 2007

Window Magic

windowmagic, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

The widow is at the top of my stairs in the hall. It's covered with glass beads. The elephant is a carving that I purchased in Zimbabwe in December of 1990. (The tusks are "real"--whatever that means).

Strange week deserves at least one strange post...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Latest American Hero #131

timothypdavis, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy P. Davis, 28, of Aberdeen, Wash.; assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.; died Feb. 20 near Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

"Washington State Airman Dead In Afghanistan"

Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy P. Davis, who grew up in Montesano, has been killed in the Oruzgan province of Afghanistan as the result of injuries received from an IED (improvised explosive device).

Air Force personnel delivered the news of Davis’ death to his mother, Sally Sheldon, at her home in Aberdeen on Friday. Davis’ father, Mike Davis, lives in Ocean Shores.

Timothy Davis had just turned 28 and would have been married for five years next month. He met his wife, Meagan, while training at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane. His death leaves behind not only his wife, but their 1-year-old son, Timothy, Jr.

Meagan Davis' initial response to reporters was, “My breath has just been taken away. I am still in shock.”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

9 Views from the annual Mid-Winter Orchid Exhibition @ the SmithsonianMuseum of Natural History, View #1

orchid00, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

After visiting the National Museum of the American Indian, I made my way over to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. And while snow, sleet, and icy rain spit upon The Mall, I spent a casual 30 minutes admiring one of nature's most fascinating forms of flora. The entire exhibition was displayed in a single long room and the air was full of the sweet smells that hundreds of orchids were unleashing in the hopes of discovering a butterfly, a bee, a hummingbird, a fly, or a moth...even a bat. All this was spent on the visitors' olfactory delights while the hopeful orchids' procreative desires were offered to no avail.

Still, a wonderful way to assuage the heart's desire for Spring! Enjoy the rest of these 9 views.

View #2, Mid-Winter Orchids @ the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

orchid01, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

View #3, Mid-Winter Orchids @ the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

orchid02, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

View #4, Mid-Winter Orchids @ the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

orchid03, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

View #5, Mid-Winter Orchids @ the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

orchid05, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

View #7, Mid-Winter Orchids @ the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

orchid07, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

View #6, Mid-Winter Orchids @ the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

orchid06, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

View #8, Mid-Winter Orchids @ the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

orchid08, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

View #9, Mid-Winter Orchids @ the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

orchid09, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Art I'm Seeing #36

detailfscholderpainting, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Kudu's to the National Museum of the American Indian for it's staging of the retrospective "Indian/Not Indian" the paintings, prints and sculptures of Fritz Scholder. It's one of the most dynamic exhibitions I've seen in a long time. And for me, it was also an introduction to a contemporary American artist of whose works I was wholely unfamiliar.

By and large the exhibition is full (35 canvases) of large, lush, electrically colorful portraits and abstracted images with a dozen or so sculptures, and another 3 dozen smaller works. En toto, it's the story of one man's attempt to define a people and rescue them from the stereotypical iconography of the past. On a canvas by canvas basis, it's also the story of an artist in love with his craft.

On this rainy Sunday morning, I had the place completely to myself and was free to really spend time with the artwork unhindered by the noise and movements of others. What a gift. And as amazing and captivating as the large paintings in the exhibition are, the images that I am left with most profoundly are a series of simple skull paintings made using Diet Coke mixed with the artist's blood.

If you are in D.C. anytime in the near future check this one out.

Random Quote #102

fritzscholder, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

"One must believe in everything because we know so little."

~ Fritz Scholder, 1937 - 2005

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What I'm Watching #186

laleón, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

La León is a film by Santigo Otheguy out of Argentina. It's shot in a moderately lit black and white format that gives most of the film an illusory feeling like a dream. The generous use of wait time between snippets of dialogue and actions, as well as, the importance he give to the gesture, the furtive glance, enhance the haunting sense of longing within which the main character, Alvaró, exists.

This is a beautiful film. Made all the more powerful by it's understated direction and restrained acting.

Stimulus 101

arneduncan, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

According to an article in the New York Times today, 44-year-old Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has been given the task of disbursing some $100,000,000,000.00 dollars in funds to schools across America. Divided out by the number of public K-12 school districts in the nation that could mean each would receive a check for $7,142,587.14. Not an entirely insignificant chunk of change.

For a district the size of mine (Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland) with 133,000 students, 199 schools, and 24,000 employees the gift would measure up as just over 1/3 of 1% of our existing annual budget. For a system like my former (Jessamine County Public Schools, Kentucky) with 7,500 students, 10 schools, and 450 employees, it would come in at just under 10% of their annual operating budget.

It's a lot of money that will mean different things to different players. And did I forget to mention that post-secondary institutions are vying for their share of the cash, too?

But, of course, if the governor of South Carolina has his way and no stimulus money goes to his state, that will remove 333 public school districts from the pot of 14,000 and at least 15 colleges and universities....What a pompous moron! I hope South Carolinians recall his arrogant, ignorant little heiny...but I digress.

Good luck, Mr. Duncan!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What I'm Watching #185

bolt, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Got to see "Bolt" this weekend. Not terribly high expectations....very high results. It's a great little movie! A movie that exceeds it's populous hyp.

Democracy, BIG D

StimulusMapSpending, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

What if the money about to be spent in the "stimulus package" were spent as a result of how the majority of American's felt about the current regime and the way in which their federal representives voted?

That would be democracy in action, no?

This map represents the degree of fiscal input based on 1) if the state voted for Obama, 2) how many of their 2 Senators voted for the bill, and 3) if their member of the House of Representatives voted for the bill.

So sorry, Salt Lake City, Boise, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Wichita, Chattanooga, and Knoxville....Hang in there Idaho, Wyoming, and Alabama. When you feel the pain, let your congress members know....

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Night On Avenue Q

avenueq, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Caught the one week engagement of the Off-Broadway musical "Avenue Q" at the Warner Theater in Washington D.C. tonight. What's to be said of it? What was ground breaking in 2001 is yesterday's news...songs glorifying Internet Porn, The struggles of a closeted Republican Homosexual, a Yuppy without a job and/or a pupose.... These are not radical, controversial, or exceedingly interesting topics for the stage or any place else.

So what can be said.... It was sweet, clever, and moderately funny, too. What begs the larger question: as we accelerate and free-fly into Nano-Modernity how will Off- or On-Broadway hope to keep pace and be relevant satirically; or will it simply be relagated to nostolgia? A stage version of the History Channel.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Today's Sermon #11

Australiawildfires, originally uploaded by Randuwa.


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

~ Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

Prayers for those in southern Australia....

Friday, February 06, 2009

What I'm Listening To #49

dougiemaclean, originally uploaded by Randuwa.

After a busy week, "Dougie MacLean Live" is just what any doctor is their right mind would order! I first encountered this Scottish Folk Artist via NPR's Celtic Connections. I attended an amazing concert he gave back in 1985 in Lexington Kentucky held as a fund-raiser under the auspices of the first NPR affiliate in the United States, WBKY. It was just a wonderful concert, intimate, community building, joyous -- fun.

I own all of the artist's CD's. Nothing he does in the studio compares to his "Live" recordings, and this one in particular.

If you've a penchant for, nay, even just an inkling toward, the lylt and rythym of the Celtic/Gaelic ballad--you'll love this experience.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

What I'm Watching #184

Originally uploaded by Randuwa

"I Like You... I Like You Very Much" is an odd little (58 min.) film from Japan. Made in 1994, it's the story of two young men who form a sexual relationship and manage it past it's first infidelity.

There's precious little dialogue. The mores are Nipponesque-stereotypically restrained and licentious at once: the rigid conformity/the Geisha.

It's an odd, simple, essential movie for anyone collecting GLBT cinema.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

War On Terrorism January Up-Date

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
After only 14 casualties in December (the lowest number of soldier deaths since March 2003 when the war began), January jumps to 31. The highest month total since September of 2008.

With all the crap for Obama to clean up...there remains this bit of unfinished business.