seeing…is believing

…I think???

Matt Franco, the winner of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT!!!

…how’d he do that???

………hugmamma.

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rooting for…the underdog

America's Got Talent

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been catching glimpses of America’s Got Talent in between getting chores done, like ironing clothes that had been sitting on top of the dryer for ages. And I’ve been tidying up the kitchen, here and there as well. What brought me to my laptop was something Piers Morgan said to one of the contestants, a Black girl of 12, Monet who sang the song “Home.” She and her family are homeless, having lost everything in a hurricane. Morgan correctly, I thought, advised Monet that unlike a former contestant who finished as a runner-up a year or so ago, Jackie Evancho, Monet needed a few more years to grow into a more mature singer. To which she replied, that if she made it to the next level, she would show him that she was already there.

Earlier in the show, another singer, a Black man in his 30s, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., was acclaimed by the 3 judges, Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan, as being the real deal…a star. While I agree that Landau has all the makings of the next Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra, I kept thinking that someone needed to help groom the singer into the next biggest thing. A car washer in his hometown of West Virginia before garnering a spot on America’s Got Talent, it would be a great loss to music if Landau’s natural ability was not developed, and that he disappeared back from where he came… oblivion.

Nine-year-old Jackie Evancho deserves the fame she is now enjoying. She is a phenomenon. But what I couldn’t help thinking is that she lives a wonderful life with doting parents and loving siblings in middle-class suburbia. And she’s a trained singer, having had a coach, before she ventured onto the stage on Amerca’s Got Talent. Compare her background with those of Monet and Landau. Obviously the playing field is anything but level.

Life is what it is…but we have to cheer the underdog who has to make it to the finish line pretty much on his or her own. So I am rooting for Monet and Landau, that life gives them a handup as a result of their worldwide exposure on America’s Got Talent.

reality shows offer hope to some…and helps them…help themselves   …hugmamma.

Portrait of Nat King Cole, New York, N.Y.

Image via Wikipedia

freshly pressed…wordpress lottery

From time to time, I take a gander at WordPress “Freshly Pressed” pages. Like tonight when I happened to see that another blogger had listed FP on her blogroll. The pages seemed endless. I don’t think I got past 9 or 10 of them. Each one contained 10 or more blogs, recognized as being the best on any given day. I think I perused the guidelines for winning a coveted spot once, but decided I couldn’t recommend my own blog. The Catholic nuns who’d taught me humility would surely roll over in their graves. God bless their souls, and mine for even thinking of self-aggrandizement.

But more importantly it seems a blogger must jump through certain hoops to be chosen. Can’t remember what they all were, but at my age, and with my limited knowledge of technical wizardry, I’m certain I wouldn’t make it through all the hoops. My arthritic back would give out. It’s like when I watch all those reality TV talent shows. I give the thousands who show up to audition a mountain of credit. I could do equally poorly as most of them, but they have one thing I don’t have…guts! Sometimes I must admit to many looking like idiots. But hey! To each his own; whatever makes their world go ’round.

So back to FP. For the life of me, and it’s getting shorter by the hour, though I’m in no hurry, I’ll never, ever in a million years figure out how to get on that moving locomotive. And I’ll soon be looking down the gun barrel of my 62nd birthday, so there’s no hope in h—k that I’ll be able to throw myself onto the train as it speeds by my hobbit hole.

So I wish all those with membership into the exclusive Freshly Pressed club a no-holds barred, hearty congratulations! I’m glad someone hits the lottery every day. “You’ve gotta be in it to win it,” as the saying goes. And those bloggers are obviously doing something right. I applaud their efforts, because blogging is hard work. But those of us with a passion…

reap its rewards…even when it’s not an FP award of recognition   …hugmamma.

quench your thirst…and make some $$$

Sen. Joe Biden buys lemonade at the 2007 Itali...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever sold lemonade from a makeshift stand as a child? I have. Those were the good old days, when making a living was simpler. When I needed some spending money, my best friend and I would just throw together some cardboard boxes, from which we’d sell our freshly-made beverage.

In my time, we probably sold a cupful of lemonade for no more than a nickel. Maybe some kind adult would spend a dime so we could sell out faster, and get down to the real business…of playing. This recipe reminded me of my childhood and some of the fun times my friends and I had. Of course, in those days lemonade was…well, lemonade, made with lemons, water and sugar. I don’t think my mom would’ve pitched in for some fancy, schmancy fruits to add. She’d have probably asked “What are you making? Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade?!?” I don’t think she would’ve followed it up with “Are you crazy or something?!?” But you never know…you never know.

So go help your kids set up a lemonade stand, and do pitch in for the extra ingredients. After all these are not the “good old days,”…these are the “better than ever days.” And have a cupful yourself. Then get out there, enjoy the day with your kids…and play!!! Take the opportunity when you can, for one day you’ll be reminiscing like me…about the “good old days.”

Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade

Raspberries (Rubus Idaeus).

Image via Wikipedia

6 cups watermelon cubes (seeds removed)
1/4 cup raspberries
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 lemon juice

Place watermelon, raspberries and water in blender
container; cover and blend until smooth. Strain
through fine-mesh strainer into pitcher. Stir in sugar
and lemon juice until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate
until chilled, about 1 hour. Makes 4 servings.

Obviously you’ll have to up the quantity of ingredients. I don’t think 4 servings is going to make successful entrepeneurs of your children. Unless, of course, they have a little bit of Christ in them. You know, like when he multiplied a few fish and loaves of bread in order to feed the masses gathered about him. Or unless your little ones can pull off some of the stunts I’ve seen magicians do now days on America’s Got Talent.” What am I thinking? If you’ve got budding magicians in your household…forget about lemonade stands…even ones selling fancy, schmancy…Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade!

…save me a cup…oh, by the way…what’s the price?…hugmamma.  

 

artists, “children of god”

Dancer performing Fouetté en tournant. A dance...

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Regular readers of my blog are aware that my daughter is a professional ballet dancer. It’s no secret that I’ve felt superstar athletes could do a good turn for their peers working in less financially advantageous careers, dancers being one such group. No NFL, NBA, or baseball player will deny that dancers are highly underrated athletes. Not too long ago, professional football players were taking ballet classes to supplement their training. Think “light on their feet,” and you’ll get the picture.

When 9-11 occurred, I silently gave thanks that my daughter had chosen to pursue a career in the arts. While not viewed as financially essential to the community at large, I think the arts represent the better side of human nature and, therefore, are necessary for civilization. Remove the arts, and we are no better than the beasts we confine in cages, or hunt down for our personal aggrandizement. Remove the arts, and we would be no better than the terrorists who killed Americans in blind obedience to their baser instincts, disguised as martyrs to their religious beliefs.

While those who do not partake of the arts might feel they reap no benefits from federal funding to the National Endowment of the Arts, I say think of it as an investment in our humanity. It’s a small price to pay that we remain more God-like, than that we return to crawling in the dirt like the serpent.

Dance, even ballet, is no longer a past time for the wealthy. As current reality TV shows demonstrate, the young, and not-so-young, are flocking to the dance floor and the stages. Joyfully, enthusiastically, they are overflowing with positive, creative juices as they strut their stuff. Many entertain the hope to one day dance professionally. I can tell you from my daughter’s experience, there is not the money to sustain such a workforce, unlike that which sustains billion dollar sports clubs, and 3 foreign wars.

ABT Principal dancer Xiomara Reyes, in a 2006 ...

Image via Wikipedia

One beautiful dancer, like my daughter, reminds me to be compassionionate, to be hopeful, to be humble, to be grateful, to be thoughtful, to be forgiving. While these are not winning entries in a mega-millions powerball lottery, these intangible gestures of good will are of immeasurable value in who we are as children of God.

So I disagree with Sarah Palin who decries the National Endowment for the Arts as “frivolous.” It’s more likely that the “bridge to nowhere” was superfluous, as admitted by Alaskans themselves. 

Sarah Palin trashes National Endowment for the Arts

Palin JUSTIN LANE EPA Television commentator and half-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin trashed the National Endowment for the Arts recently, describing the agency as “frivolous” in a Thursday interview on a Fox News talk show.

“NPR, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, all those kind of frivolous things that government shouldn’t be in the business of funding with tax dollars — those should all be on the chopping block as we talk about the $14-trillion debt that we’re going to hand to our kids and our grandkids,” Palin told right-wing host Sean Hannity. “Yes, those are the type of things that for more than one reason need to be cut.”

Palin did not elaborate on what the other reasons might be for chopping the NEA budget. But the government of every major civilization in world history has also prominently funded the arts.

The comment about the NEA came during a discussion of the ailing U.S. economy. Palin is certainly conversant with frivolous activity, but her grasp of the economy is weak.

Debt reduction would barely be affected by penciling out the small federal arts agency, which currently operates on a $161-million annual budget. Palin’s support of a federal subsidy for the notorious “bridge to nowhere” in her state became a campaign issue when she ran for vice president on the 2008 Republican ticket. That local project carried a price tag of $223 million.

“Reality is we have 15 million Americans who are out of work,” said Palin. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry supports 5.7 million jobs and generates $166.2 billion in annual economic activity, according to Americans for the Arts. The NEA is one linchpin in that sizable economy.

In the interview Palin made no statement advocating similar budget cuts to her home state as she recommended for the NEA, which is also in the cross hairs of Washington’s Republican leadership. Palin’s Alaska gets $1.84 in federal spending for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes.

 

tv land, 2010

Once upon a time sitcoms ruled the airwaves. There were the good, the bad, and the really greaaattt! My favorites will always remain “I Love Lucy,” “All In the Family,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and the early black and white episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” These are like comfort food for the soul, conjuring up memories of a simpler time when family life was very important. I enjoyed watching others with some regularity as well, like “Ozzie and Harriet,” “The Danny Thomas Show,” “Father Knows Best,” “The Donna Reed Show,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Barney Miller” and “Sanford and Son.” Growing up my daughter had her favorites as well, among them, “The Bill Cosby Show.” 

What was appealing for my daughter and me was the laughter the sitcoms evoked. For half an hour we lost ourselves in others’ foibles, while enjoying the family dynamics acted out on the small screen. Time flew by, leaving us eagerly awaiting the next installment. As we drifted off to do other things, echoes of laughter could still be heard as we remembered some mishap, or hilarious “punch line.” Sitcoms left us feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

Fast forward to the present, and TV land’s domination by reality shows. I balked when Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson wanted to play husband and wife in my living room. Nuh, uh. I don’t think so. Other shows piqued my curiosity but never held my attention, like “Wife Swap,” and “Super Nanny.” I was never a fan of “Kate and John Plus Eight,” and I’m still not interested in watching her carry on without him. Though I’m glad she is; he’s  such a loser. What finally “sucked” me into watching Reality TV was “The Bachelor.”

I don’t think I watched with the thought that I’d be hooked, but one, gorgeous hunk surrounded by a bevy of beauties was intriguing. It was inconceivable that 25 women would lay bare their souls, and bodies, for millions of viewers to see, and pass judgement. I never thought of them as desperate, although some let it be known that they were. A few said they were on the show to marry the bachelor because their biological clocks were ticking away, and time was running out. Wow! Talk about honesty in front of millions of strangers. Whenever I asked my daughter if she’d audition for the show, her eyes would bulge in disbelief, “I’d never go in front of a TV audience to compete for some guy. Those women are crazy! I can’t believe they’d do such a thing.”

I’m not as faithful a fan of “The Bachelor” as I once was. The network lost me when they began substituting it with “The Bachelorette.” I didn’t find the  shenanigans of the men in the house, as much fun as that of the women. How they can behave like divas and catty “b—s” on national TV is beyond my comprehension. But with so much competition, “Bachelor” is just one of many shows that I view sporadically.

Among the many reality shows that I’ve glimpsed, some more than others,  are “Laguna Beach,” and “The Hills,” depicting the life of spoiled, rich kids. The exception was “The City’s” Whitney, who became a successful fashion designer in NYC. Celebrities whose lives I’ve watched with curious disbelief are Atlanta’s Kimora, the self- crowned “Queen of Fabulosity,” and Beverly Hills’ Kim Kardashian with her menagerie of family members, including former Olympic champion, step-father, Bruce Jenner. My daughter actually reminded me that the first reality show I probably watched was Tyra Bank’s “America’s Next Top Model.” I’ve not seen it in ages, so I guess I’d forgotten about it. What I do remember, however, is disliking that the candidates’ vulnerabilities were exploited by the show for its own benefit, and Tyra’s fashionista presence. I found both unappealing by the time I stopped tuning in to watch.

Then there were “The Housewives of…” Orange County, NYC, New Jersey, Atlanta, D.C., and soon to be aired, Beverly Hills. I watched the first in the series, the O.C. housewives, because I wanted to see how the “other half-lives.” It was difficult to believe that there were such shallow women whose lives revolved around money, and all it could buy. Underlying all the other Housewive series is the same dollar worship. Of course, some of the women are more tolerable than others. Bethenny Frankl-Hopy of NYC being one of my favorites. She is self-deprecating, realizing that the show should be viewed with more than a “grain of salt.” I must admit to still watching the “Housewives” from time to time, and I can’t wait to see how much sillier the Beverly Hills group will be.

Currently I’m a fan of “Say Yes to the Dress,” the New York version. The show is taped in Kleigsfeld, “the” bridal shop patronized by many brides-to-be. The warm, friendly staff remind me of the years I worked in the “Big Apple.” Those who have not worked, and perhaps lived, in Manhattan haven’t experienced the unique charm of New Yorkers. They can be brusque, but they also have “big hearts,” especially for those whom they befriend. So watching the bridal staff do their utmost to marry a bride with the perfect wedding gown is gratifying, even to me, an observer.

HGTV is my reset channel. I’m always up for one of its home sale or designer shows, “Get It Sold,” “Property Virgins,” “Divine Design,” “My First House,” “Color Splash,” and, of course, “House Hunters,” and “House Hunters International.” It’s so much fun to see the “befores” and the “afters.” It’s equally entertaining to guess which of 3 properties house buyers will purchase. And several of the show hosts are like old friends, Sabrina Soto, Sandra Rinomato, Janice Olsen, and David Bromstad. I know their voices, and can picture their faces with my eyes closed.

I’m not such a fan of the reality competitions like “American Idol,” and  “Dancing With The Stars.” While I may drop in to watch “America’s Got Talent,” it’s not often enough to say I’m a devotee. When “So You Think You can Dance” first aired, I watched because my daughter was tapped to be one of its first contestants. The British judge, Nigel, and a couple of others associated with the show, sat in on a company ballet class where my daughter use to dance. She was singled out, along with others, to try out for the show. But my daughter declined because she was already under contract, and didn’t relish the thought of a television competition. In some of the early shows, she did recognize contestants with whom she had danced in various summer programs, like Danny Tidwell, and Neal (blonde guy, forgot his last name).

These days reality shows dominate TV viewing. I enjoy some, and loathe some. But not even those I favor gives me the same pleasurable feelings, as did the sitcoms of bygone days. If only “I Love Lucy” could have gone on forever.         

for the good old days, huge hugs…hugmamma.

wins the contest, and the girl

Two videos of the “guy next door,” Michael Grimm, the first of his win on America’s Got Talent, the other of his commitment to red-headed Lucie, his girlfriend of 3 years. This young fellow may be the 21st century Renaissance Man all women have been praying for, talented, enterprising AND faithful. Can we clone him? Putting in an order for a son-in-law. And 2 major corrections to previous posts, Grimm is from Waveland, Mississippi (not Memphis), and the other semi-finalist Jackie’s last name is spelled Evancho (not Ivancko).

hugs for grimm, and his lucie…hugmamma.

michael grimm, humble beginnings

Wanted to share Michael Grimm’s humble beginnings, on America’s Got Talent. A star in the making, I hope he never changes once fame and celebrity move in. But it’s unlikely his grandparents, gentle southern folk, will allow their child to be other than they raised him, a sweet, young man with enormous talent.

crooner michael grimm, no gimmicks

I don’t usually watch America’s Got Talent, but the latest captured my attention “hook, line and sinker!” How judges Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and Howie Mandel, maintain focus throughout endless, mind-numbing days of auditions, is beyond me. Earning fabulous salaries and world-wide attention, must convince them to stay put. Not even a million bucks could spare me falling asleep, eyes wide open, or resting my head wearily on crossed arms, loud snores competing with the performers on stage. So I applaud the judges for their stamina.

The 4 acts making it into the finals were each worthy of being selected. Doubts about such variety shows like American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, Dance Your Ass Off, and America’s Got Talent, are appeased when I witness phenomenal talent that might otherwise go unnoticed. In this case, all 4 will reap the rewards of discovery, Defying Gravity for its uniqueness and inventiveness; Prince Poppycock, for his self-deprecating, over-the-top, ready-made Las Vegas act; and angelic Jackie Ivancko for a voice which belies her 10 years, and the wisdom of an old soul. Michael Grimm, the grand prize winner, walked away with $1 million, and a 1 year Las Vegas contract.

The final moments in any awards ceremony are usually pensive, especially for the contestants. The face-off between the America’s Got Talent finalists, were no less stomach churning. I kept telling my daughter that Grimm, given his humility, probably expected Ivancko to win. Between both, her voice was “other-worldly.” In each of the shows leading up to the finale, it was heartwarming to witness Grimm quietly speak with Ivancko, a sweet-faced child.  It seemed obvious that he understood and appreciated her huge talent. So when the show’s host, Nick Cannon, announced Grimm as the winner, his stunned look wasn’t a surprise, but it brought tears to my eyes.

Grimm entered the competition as a long shot, a young man from Memphis wanting to buy his grandparents a new home since their’s was destroyed in Katrina. Each time he made it through another round, he expressed amazement and gratitude for making it thus far. His demeanor was calm, quiet, shy, humble. Dressed simply in dark gray, casual jacket, shirt, jeans, very small hoop earrings, a trademark fedora pulled low, sporting dirty-blonde hair with blue eyes, Grimm was the epitomy of a heart throb. Looking like a cross between James Dean and Michael Bolton,  Grimm sang “When a Man Loves a Woman,” his “ace-in-the-hole.” Bolton’s number worked for him a long time ago, and it worked its magic once again, for Grimm. He was catapulted to stardom, and as they say, his life will never be the same.

Yesterday as I was typing away at my keyboard, I overheard a news reporter give a “thumbs down” to Michael Grimm’s win, in favor of Defying Gravity because of its innovative, gimmick-laden, Las Vegas appeal. This act will probably make it to “Sin City” on its own merits, that’s how good it was. Execution of the performers wasn’t always in sync, so it didn’t look professional. But they will surely perfect the act with more practice, a luxury not afforded them in the  time constraints of the show. The reporter complained that Grimm and Ivancko belonged on  American Idol, saying “They’re just singers!” But actually, that’s what appealed to me.

Viewers chose 2 singers for the final competition. I agree with the pundits’ speculation that a 10-year-old headlining a Las Vegas show, probably didn’t appeal to the masses. Show host Cannon, when interviewed afterwards, opined that Grimm had indeed won the theatre audience, who was all abuzz after his sensational performance. As judge Osbourne summarized earlier in the contest, he consistently “stepped it up,” each time he took the stage. What I found charming was that Grimm’s humility never took a back seat to his obvious talent, and growing showmanship. Minutes after being declared the winner, he bent down, scooped Ivancko into his arms, gave her a peck, and spoke what could only have been comforting words, while looking deeply into her bright blue eyes. My daughter and I agreed that Ivancko most likely developed a crush on the handsome, soulful crooner.

Michael Grimm, a singer with no special effects, belting out ballads in the style of other great artists before him, Sinatra, Elvis, Bouble. Sometimes simple is better than wild and glitzy, that’s what the voters felt, and that’s what I felt.

grimm and ivancko, buying their CDs for sure…hugmamma.