…celebrity…at what cost…

Watching the Pope disembark from his flight today at Joint Base Andrews, it was as though God Himself was walking down the steps. At least to Catholics who believe that he is God’s emissary on earth. Dressed in white, Pope Francis seemed translucent, although he appeared like a man who enjoys good food. He seemed untouchable, although he’s a man who enjoys being touched.

What a dilemma for Pope Francis. While waiting for the chauffeur to drive away, the Pope looked as though he were about to bolt from his seat. The cries of the people behind the fence tempting him to do what he loves doing…walking among them…touching them and having them touch him.

Celebrity? At what cost?

The tabloids are filled with stories of entertainers trying to escape the clutches of their adoring fans. Those who jostle their idol for some tangible proof that they were up close and personal.

Michael Jackson tried to give his fans what they wanted…access to him. Sadly, there were opportunists who took advantage of Jackson’s desire to be loved. He paid dearly. One could say…with his life.

Elvis Presley enjoyed his celebrity. It provided unimaginable wealth which he could never have dreamed of…growing up like White trash on the wrong side of the tracks. He, like Jackson, allowed fans access. Whether it was a wise decision, is something you can judge for yourself. Numerous books have been penned about Elvis by those who had access to the icon.

If I were to meet Pope Francis, I would automatically reach out to hug him. That’s just my natural inclination, unless I feel the recipient would prefer I not. I think the Pope would reciprocate my hug, but I’m not sure his security detail would even let me. Those charged with protecting the Pontiff are on high alert to protect him from all harm. And no one can blame them.

The Pope realizes that allowing his followers access might cost him his life. He is willing to take that risk. He has said…”I feel the Lord has placed me here for a short time.”

Yes, Pope Francis is a celebrity…the state of being famous or celebrated (according to Webster’s Dictionary). However it’s unlikely that the pope considers himself a celebrity. He is what he has always been…

…a man among his people…

…a pastor shepherding his flock.

………hugmamma.

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i’m a huge fan…

…of Michael Jackson’s talent. 

Once upon a time I would have done what I could to nurture my dream of becoming an entertainer.

I can remember as a child sharing a passion for music with my mom. Among my cherished memories are the occasions when she would play the ukulele while we sang her favorite Hawaiian songs. Among them, Ke kali neau, The Hawaiian Wedding Song.

My love for dance was initiated by an older sister who taught me…the fox trot and the cha, cha, cha. Later, in my teens, I went on to master and instruct others in…the mashed potatoes, the twist, and the jerk.

In college I entered a talent show. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a competition because I don’t remember any prizes being awarded. However, the next day I got a call which made me feel as though I’d won.

A guy called inviting me to be the vocalist for his band, explaining they did gigs at the local hangout for university kids. Thrilled to be asked, I nevertheless decided against a singing career. For a girl like me, born on Maui in the late 40’s, entertaining was too much of a dream to ever become reality.

The rest is history. At 65 I’m very contented with my lot in life…a housewife for 44 years with a loving husband and daughter who cherish me.

Michael Jackson, on the other hand, died a lonely man most of his life. If he’d lived longer he more than likely would have enjoyed some of what I have…in the love of his three children.

I have probably read all that’s been printed about Jackson, before and after his death. Not having kept abreast of his life and career once he separated from his brothers, I wanted to know all that there was about him after he died.

Reading various biographies about Jackson helped me formulate a more balanced perspective of the man. I arrived at my own decisions as to who among all the players in his life were there for the right or wrong reasons. These included…the lawyers, the businessmen and women…the reporters and others in the media…and family and friends. 

Without thinking twice, I’m certain that Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe both loved their husband very much. That Michael Jackson used them to his own advantage is also undeniable. 

Jackson was a master manipulator, having learned from his family and all those who wanted a piece of him financially. Unfortunately, that included everyone who had anything to do with him. How could they resist? He was an irresistible man, personally and professionally, by all accounts. 

Blame for the mess his life became was shared by all, including Jackson himself. It didn’t help that poverty set the scene for the way it unfolded, his parents and siblings grabbing for whatever they could to keep the dream of wealth alive. And Michael spending his way through billions of dollars faster than he could earn it.

It was apparent Jackson was trying to fill the hole in his psyche with all the material things he could amass. That was the reason the number of concerts for This Is It quickly jumped from the initially agreed upon 10, to the staggering amount of 50. He was in hock up to his eyeballs…and some. 

The man was a magician when it came to getting in and out of trouble, personally and professionally. Unfortunately he had to pay up sooner or later. Hence the lawsuits that never seemed to stop, even after his death.

Untouchable, The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson by Randall Sullivan, reveals the overwhelmingly muddled mania surrounding one of the most iconic celebrities ever to have been born. I could only repeat to myself as I read my way through the book’s nearly 600 pages that it was almost best that Jackson died when he did.

He was like the grey whale at the center of a sharks’ feeding frenzy that I’d seen on a television documentary. There would have been no shred of the man left, had his life continued to spiral downward as it was.

It was interesting to observe that among all the bad people in Jackson’s life, there was no differentiation as to race, creed, gender, age, or social and financial standing. Whites, blacks, Jews, Muslims, men, women, young, old, rich, poor…they all shared in the Sodom and Gommorrah that followed the star wherever he went.

The more I read of celebrities who succumbed to the trappings of fame and wealth, the more I’m thankful for having escaped going down that road. Even minor celebs have their share of unwanted drama, like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and the self-absorbed Kardashians.

Jackson was a smart man in many ways and determinedly naive in others. In the moment he could destroy all he’d built by shrewd business negotiating. More often than not, the little boy who didn’t have a normal childhood won out when struggling with the man Jackson was trying to become. 

As in all walks of life it seems, if our morals and values are not solidly grounded, we can easily be caught up in the confetti that swirls around us. If we could only remember that all those little pieces of paper eventually find their way…

…downward.

………hugmamma.

(Wikepedia photo)

 

 

…a kid like no other…

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s talent. I was reminded of it a couple of days ago when one of the TV channels ran the song/dance videos from Jackson’s hit album “BAD.” The station was celebrating 25 years since the album’s release.

Michael Jackson

At the time “BAD” hit the airwaves, I wasn’t impressed. Like many, I preferred the sweet, innocent, black Michael. “Who was this whiter, sexier, long-haired version?” I thought. Unwilling to accept that he had changed, just as we all do, I dismissed him…and his music. Not until his death did I resume my admiration for a talent the likes of which we haven’t seen before, and probably won’t see again. 

I recently picked up another Jackson biography at Half Price Books, for 20% off no less. “My Friend Michael” by Frank Cascio is an honest depiction of the mega watt star from the stance of a young man who grew up knowing Jackson since age 5. At the time Michael was in his 20s. Along with his brother, Eddie, Frank got to know the boy behind the man…the Michael Jackson whose childhood was swallowed up by a career run amok.

Who can judge what should and shouldn’t have happened in another person’s life. We all do what we need to do to survive. Joe Jackson, Michael’s father, did for his family what any father in the same dire straits might have done. The fact that he drove his sons with a heavy hand, denying them the ability to experience other facets of life is something Jackson, Sr. will have to square with his Maker when the time comes.

We all have personal baggage left over from childhood, be it good, bad, or indifferent. Having my fair share of issues, I can see that life is never a straight path to old age. That Michael even made it to 50 is a wonder. The pressures he faced, perceived or real, would’ve taken a lesser man down.

The Cascio family of New Jersey offered Jackson a safe haven from all the ugliness that others hungry for fame and financial gain dished out.

Michael Jackson wasn’t without faults. Who is? What’s that line? People who live in glass houses…shouldn’t throw stones. We all tend to forget that, especially when the media whips itself up into a feeding frenzy. Great white sharks have nothing over the papparazzi when it comes to ripping people to shreds if given half the chance.

I’ve read all manner of books about the “man behind the mirror.” In doing so I’ve been able to formulate a pretty well-rounded impression of Jackson.

I subscribe to the notion that Michael was indeed misunderstood. He wasn’t blameless to be sure, but he certainly couldn’t take the time to explain every aspect of every decision he made. Remember the hyperbaric chamber in which he was photographed lying in repose? According to Cascio…

When he was photographed in a hyperbaric chamber, rumors began flying that he slept in it–in reality he’d donated it to a local hospital to be used in the treatment of burn victims. Of course, sometimes Michael was just being a character, joking around, but the impetus for his behavior was never as freaky as people were always so quick to assume.

And about the surgical masks Jackson had taken to wearing?

When he wore a surgical mask, people thought he was hiding some new plastic surgery–in reality he was at first protecting himself from getting sick before performances; then he found that wearing the mask made him feel like he was in disguise (when in fact it called more attention to him); and ultimately he turned it into a one-of-a-kind fashion statement, having his silken surgical masks custom-made.

Under normal circumstances, folks might have been asking if it were any one other than Michael Jackson…”Where were the parents?” Haven’t you wondered that with the likes of Brittney Spears and Lindsey Lohan? Perhaps because the Jacksons were black meant the standards were somehow different.

That, I think, was the underlying issue with the public’s perception of Michael Jackson and his family. It’s the same dilemma with President Obama.

Without precedence for blacks who succeed beyond their wildest dreams, Jackson and Obama are scrutinized to the nth degree. Journalists try to get inside their brains to determine how in the heck such unlikely candidates for success…succeeded. And we, the public, are caught up in the media tidal wave. It’s up to us to grab for whatever life raft we can to bail ourselves out of the flood of hysteria that ensues.

Elvis Presley

Most of my generation will remember the similar persecution of another amazing talent who took the world by storm…Elvis Presley. He with the voice, and moves, of a black entertainer. Nothing like him had happened along before.

Whether we are resistant to change in our music, or find it difficult to accept that all races are created equal, we should keep reminding ourselves that…for better or worse…we all inhabit the same earth. None of us are going anywhere…except to meet our Maker. Until that day we should all try to be less quick to judge.

Shakespeare’s Shylock from “Merchant of Venice” says it more eloquently…

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means,
warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer
as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his
sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.
The villainy you teach me, I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
(Act III, scene I)

 

………hugmamma.

Michael Jackson performing The Way You Make Me...

earth song…

Another blogger, kavi, at http://www.wingrish.wordpress.com …reminded me of the devastation the earth has suffered at the hands of humankind. We then both remembered Michael Jackson’s Earth Song, a powerful statement asking the question, on behalf of all species disenfranchised by man’s destruction of our environment…“What about us???” 

A  moving plea which deserves an answer…one that will most likely…never come…or come…too late.   

…kicking the can…down the road… 

………hugmamma. 

cirque du soleil…not so “ole!”

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Image by pennstatelive via Flickr

Readers of my blog know that I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s song and dance. A year ago, my husband bought tickets to Cirque du Soleil‘s tribute to MJ as a Christmas present to me. Last night, the long awaited event finally arrived.

When we bought the tickets online we thought we got pretty good seats. We’d sat in the same section for a Michael Buble concert a couple of years earlier. Well we were wrong.

A side view of the Cirque show made it difficult, and at times impossible, to see the video presentations on the drop-down screen. Also a detraction were the visible wires hooked up to the performers’ costumes as they sailed through the air. Nose bleed seats with a frontal view might’ve been better picks had we known. But that’s just it. Choosing seats via Ticket Master is like a crap shoot. The luck of the draw is in the roll of the dice. Still we weren’t complaining. I’m sure people seated further to our right were literally in the dark as to what appeared on the screen. But judging from the murmurs swirling around us, our seats were not the big problem.

Cirque du SoleilCirque du Soleil usually conjures up images of immaculate execution on the part of the artists. Save for one group of Asian acrobatic men and a high-wire couple, the remaining performers were sub-standard. I would not have expected such lackluster quality from the Cirque brand. It’s a shame because much of the staging looked expensive…not exquisite…but expensive.

Most memorable were the gigantic video screens which were a backdrop to the show and upon which we’d glimpse MJ singing and dancing from time to time. When not displaying his or other video images, the screens reflected the performers, including the musicians and singers. Among them Michael Jackson‘s drummer of many years. He was the only person visibly connected to the late, pop icon. Not like being in his presence…but good enough for me.

Jackson and background dancers in

Image via Wikipedia

When Jackson died I bought every one of his dvds and cds. I’d never seen him perform live, nor had I kept up with his career since he was in his late teens. For months after his death, I became reacquainted with my one-time idol. I was mesmerized by the precision of his moves, and the amazing range of his vocals. Although he was accompanied by a talented ensemble, none could match the perfection of MJ’s performances. I thought for sure Cirque du Soleil would be up to the task. I was gravely disappointed. Jackson was probably turning over in his grave as well. And not because of insomnia!

Jackson and background dancers performing

Image via Wikipedia

Better that my ticket money had gone toward a show featuring MJ singing and dancing on those gargantuan screens, excerpts from all his videos . And rather than using so-so dancers, Cirque should have hired the hand-selected few that Jackson himself had chosen forThis is It!” Now those young guys could hold their own alongside the man himself. They were on fire! By comparison, Cirque’s crew was not as crisp, clean, or in sync. A little sloppy, in fact. My husband felt the show looked like a dress rehearsal instead of the real thing.

In fact there were two unscheduled intermissions because of technical difficulties. The audience sat twiddling our thumbs for 20 minutes both times. I wondered if Cirque had attempted to do too much technical wizardry while touring. Because of the seeming half-hazard conglomeration of acts, I thought that perhaps Cirque wasn’t up to the task of creating a show worthy of the pop icon’s overwhelming talent. Having 40 minutes of empty time on my hands, I could conjecture all kinds of what ifs.

Cirque du Soleil performing Dralion in Vienna,...

Image via Wikipedia

The best thing about the show? The appearance of Michael Jackson…doing what he does best. Cirque du Soleil should’ve done what they do best…acrobatics…and unimagineable, magical creations. Maybe the show will measure up to Cirque’s normal high standards when it goes home…to Vegas.

Cirque’s show did not live up to its youtube advertising. So next time it tours in our area, I’ll think twice. Meanwhile…

…think I’ll stick to watching MJ on dvd…cheaper…and way, way better…

Michael Jackson performing The Way You Make Me...

Image via Wikipedia

………hugmamma. 

dr. conrad murray…life or death

Two years after the death of Michael Jackson, Dr. Conrad Murray is now on trial for his life. A sad statement, really, in our civilized, American society. Death, and more death. We pride ourselves on being nowhere akin to Third World countries and the Middle East where life and death are so prevalent…and matter-of-fact. But death is a part of life, no matter where it occurs.

Michael Jackson, cropped from Image:Michael Ja...

Image via Wikipedia

I am a devotee of Michael Jackson’s talent, not so convinced about some of his personal, and professional, choices however. But I’m not here to judge the man. He’s at rest, thank God, and no longer subjected to global scrutiny. And yet if he were able to have his day in court this go round, I’m certain he would ask that Dr. Conrad Murray be released.

Yes, I think the doctor is guilty of negligence, and catering to the whims of a celebrity without professional concern for aiding and abetting in Jackson’s eventual demise. Murray should not have gotten involved with someone whose charisma is legendary among those who knew the icon, as a loved one or as an acquaintance. Jackson’s aura was obviously more than his physician could resist.

Yes, I think Michael Jackson was complicit in his own death. His lifestyle paved the way for what happened. A 5-year-old catapulted into fame, without sufficient mental and physical preparation, who could afford anything his vivid imagination dreamt…with few, if any, boundaries. Unfortunately life for one so revered by masses of fans world-wide seemed one of invincibility and perhaps, even infallibility.

MICHAEL JACKSON

MJ was like the fabled King Midas. Everything Jackson touched turned to gold. But just as the myth of Midas was a children’s fairy tale, so too was the life that Michael Jackson led. He was just a kid who…wanted all the candy he could eat. Propophol was just another treat in Michael’s “candy shop”.

Someone interviewed by a news pundit said she felt that Dr. Conrad Murray was very much like Michael Jackson in his humanitarianism. I agree, without having met either man. But from all I’ve read and heard, I don’t think the icon would’ve entrusted his life to anyone with whom he wasn’t in sync…in terms of compassion and empathy for the plight of human beings.

It’s my hope that the jury will find Dr. Conrad Murray guilty of not abiding by his Hypocratic oath, as a provider of medical services. Beyond that I hope the man’s personal integrity as a good human being is not destroyed. Assassinating someone’s character is akin to death. And we don’t need to add another one to the heap.

Memorial - Michael Jackson star on Hollywood W...

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 …for the loved ones of both men…i pray…for peace…

 

………hugmamma.

the past…not a crutch…more like a slingshot

Many years ago I tried to apologize to an older sibling for some unkind words I’d said in a phone call. I wrote a letter explaining my unusual behavior. Her return letter still singes the far corners of my memory. I was told to get over the past and grow up. She threw in a stinging retort, for good measure, claiming she thought I’d always envied her. Why exactly? I don’t recall if she said. I tore up the letter…and took her advice. I buried the past deep within, only speaking of it with those who don’t judge me so harshly.

Jermaine Jackson‘s biography You Are Not Alone, Michael…Through A Brother’s Eyes, is a well written commentary about growing up as one of the Jackson 5. The 446-page, paperback tome caught my eye as my husband and I killed time while awaiting our homebound flight departing Heathrow Airport on the outskirts of London.

You Are Not Alone

Image via Wikipedia

I’d not known of Jermaine’s foray into authoring a book about his famous brother. I’d seen one for sale by sister La Toya. Never a fan of hers, I passed on it. I took a chance that Jermaine’s was not going to be as self-serving as hers seemed. I’m glad I did. The biography reminded me of things I’d known, but surprised me with other, lesser known facts. Such as…

Why anyone thought my brother was incapable of fathering his own children was beyond me, as was the idea he’d use a donor when it was his personal legacy that mattered to him. I think it’s fair to say that Debbie had a dominant gene (Prince had white-blond hair when he was born) but when I look into that kid’s eyes or catch his profile side-on, his similarity to Michael as a boy is obvious. But, to nail the myth once and for all, Michael has passed on his vitiligo to Prince. My brother’s paternity is irrefutable when Prince removes his shirt. What really matters, though, is that my niece and nephews know without a shadow of a doubt that Michael was their biological father and they were born out of love.

From day one Jermaine was protective of Michael. “Maybe it was because all I heard being shouted was ‘Where’s Michael?’…’Is Michael okay?’…’Is Michael changed?’ ‘Yes, Mother…We got it…he’s here,’ one of us shouted. ‘Don’t worry. Michael’s okay. Michael’s okay.’ ”

Jackson 5 - Michael Jackson

Reading Jermaine’s words I understood that he was his brother’s keeper. I don’t doubt that all the siblings felt similarly, but he demonstrates the same sensitivitiy toward life’s ups and downs as did Michael. High one minute, low the next. Giddy at having it all, complaining when dealt some unfair blows. No different from most of us really. Their lives just played out on a bigger stage.

What resonated with me throughout this biography, as with others, is that a child’s upbringing weighs heavily in the eventual outcome of his or her life. It’s not to say its course is inevitable. Obama‘s an example of turning one’s life around. To a lesser degree, so is mine. But Obama’s past will forever be a part of his present and future, as will mine. However they can be put into proper perspective, and to good use, as building blocks for a more hopeful life ahead. We are not stuck with the hands life has dealt us.

The Jacksons, children, parents and grandchildren seem to have finally made peace with their rocky road to fame and fortune. Their strength in family ties has served them well in spite of their oft-times perceived stranglehold on certain members. Sadly all the money and adoration in the world doesn’t ensure happiness. In fact the means to have it all is like an eight-legged octopus or a Medusa’s head. The sky’s the limit becomes the modus operandi. How does one stop oneself…short of chopping off a tentacle or a head?

Joseph Jackson provided his family the escape route from the steel mills in Gary, Indiana to the moneyed Beverly Hills of California. But on the fast train out of the ghetto, Michael Jackson never learned the necessary survival skills for life’s long haul.

…too much…too soon…no time to learn…very sad…very sad, indeed

………hugmamma.  

youtube…”to go, please”

YouTube Live

Image via Wikipedia

Have been having trouble adding YouTube videos into my posts for some time now. Thought it had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a subscriber, and YouTube was “cracking down.” No matter that I continued to do what I’d done before, following WordPress instructions. Something changed it seemed, and no one told me.

Thinking it might make a difference if I was a subscriber, I spent a couple of days recently trying to become one with YouTube. It was like trying to break into Fort Knox! Because I’d started on Google’s blogger.com, I already had an account. But I couldn’t remember my password. It’s been over a year since I went there. I guess YouTube is Google’s, so since the “big G” didn’t let me in, the “big Y” said “Sorry…no trespassers allowed.”

Determined to work at the obnoxious task before me, I kept jumping through the hoops. I even left my laptop, and went into the basement family room, which I dislike because it’s so dark, to see if using the computer where I’d signed up for Google made a difference. In fact, that was one of their prompts. No go. No amount of jumping through the same hoops down there made a difference. So I returned to my laptop, and jumped through one final hoop…and presto! I got lifetime membership into YouTube via Google. Don’t ask me how I did it. I couldn’t repeat it if I tried. And truth be told, I wouldn’t try it again if YouTube offered me a singing contract.

Thinking I now had the problem of inserting videos into my posts solved, I confidently tried to do just that. You guessed it! I still couldn’t get those little movie boxes to cooperate. They just didn’t want to come over to my blog, no matter how I tried to entice them. They didn’t care how well I wrote, at least to my way of thinking, nor did they care about all the great photographs keeping them company. Those YouTube videos just wouldn’t budge…so help me.

Funny how the old saying comes to mind, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I think, perhaps, that it’s not so much the inability to learn new tricks, it’s probably that one needs to empty one’s mind of how the tricks were done in the past. You know “Out with the old; in with the new.” So intent was I on trying to add YouTube videos the old way, I wasn’t really reading their current directions about the new shortcut. I thought I was, but obviously I wasn’t. My brain assumed that the words in front of my eyes, said what they’d said the last time I read them. 

Bench Press illustration

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Guess who got me to read what was in front of my eyes? My roommate…better known as my hubby. It may be that WordPress has become second nature to me, that I think I know everything about it. I know I’m kidding myself, but I like to live the fantasy. So when I ran into this technical “brick wall,” I asked my husband to tinker with the problem. Mind you, he doesn’t know WordPress from a bench press. But clear thinking has always been his forte.

Michael Jackson, cropped from Image:Michael Ja...

Image via Wikipedia

After taking him to a YouTube video of Michael Jackson’s career altering moment when he moonwalked for the first time in public, at the Motown 25th Anniversary celebration on TV, my husband figured out, after some hemming and hawing, that rather than copying the “share” URL for the video, he copied and pasted the URL at the top of the screen. The reason being, he said, and which I confirmed, was that the “share” URL spelled “youtu.be,” instead of the usual “youtube.” That period between the u and the b made all the difference in the world. Lightbulb moment!!!

My husband thinks the “share” URL might bring too much excess verbage with it that WordPress would prefer not to have clogging up its system. Makes sense to me. But as I explained to my daughter, I can mimic what’s being said. I can follow instructions…to some degree. Obviously not always. But I don’t necessarily understand the why-fors, where-fors, and what-fors. Or else I’m too impatient to get started, to get on with it, to check it off my “to-do” list. Thank goodness I’m not the breadwinner in my house.

The glass of water

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…we might be subsisting on bread and water…not a bad thing since we’re always fighting the battle of the middle-age belly…hugmamma.

“anchors”…weighing in

 

Brian Williams at the Vanity Fair celebration ...

Image via Wikipedia

Not sure if you watch the evening news. I tend to tune in most nights. Kind of set my clock by world news’ broadcasts. There’s TV before Brian Williams, and then TV after he’s done his schpeel. My internal clock probably kicks into overdrive thinking “okay, now I’ve only got 5 or 6 hours” to accomplish what wasn’t done during the rest of the 18 or 19 hours, well maybe 12 or 13 hours, allowing for the time I was still in bed.

Now that you know which anchor I favor, I wondered who yours might be? Or have you no preferences? I’ll tell you my reasons for faithfully tuning in to hear Brian Williams recap the news of the day. First and foremost, he reminds me of Peter Jennings, former anchor of ABC’s evening news. Yes, Williams rode the coattails of Jennings in gaining my viewership after the more seasoned newsman died of lung cancer.

Peter Jennings

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Jennings was attractive, with a winning smile. He was easier on the eyes than Tom Brokaw and the other famous anchor whose name escapes me. I was just drawn to whiling away the news hour with Jennings. But the moment which locked in my devotion was his coverage of the hijacking of a TWA flight in the 80’s or 90’s. At the time I was working for the airline. Needless to say, we employees were never far from the television set, at work and at home.

For me, Jennings came to represent the Walter Cronkite of my adult years. I felt comforted knowing that Jennings was there  guiding us through the ups and downs of national and global affairs. If he looked alright; I felt alright. So it was with sadness that I learned of his passing, as if he’d been a distant relative.

Walter Cronkite takes the helm of Constitution...

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When Charlie Gibson assumed the vacant seat as evening anchor, I stayed tune. He was different, but likeable nonetheless. Gibson felt like a big brother to whom I could turn, knowing he always had my back. There was no celebrity aura about him. He seemed what he was: A husband, a father, in a highly visible job, trying to put the best spin on life, even when the news didn’t warrant it. So when he announced his retirement, I was again a little dazed.

Not a huge fan of Diane Sawyer‘s, although that wasn’t always the case, and unfamiliar with Katie Couric, I started watching Brian Williams. The more I saw of him, the more reminiscent he was of Peter Jennings, a younger version, still a little “green” by comparison, from what I remembered of the former anchor. But time aged Williams in appearance and delivery. I found him more and more trustworthy as the years have passed. I now look to him, as I once did to Jennings and Gibson. But since I’ve also aged, where I used to look up to Jennings as a Cronkite, Gibson as a brother, I have a warm spot for Williams as a mother does for a son, or an aunt has for a favorite nephew.

Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter o...

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What turned me away from Diane Sawyer? Many of you know that I’m an admirer of Michael Jackson as a phenomenal entertainer. I also believed in his ill-fated marriage to Lisa Marie Presley. While a short-lived, rocky relationship of 2 mega-famous individuals, I subscribe to their having truly cared for one another. Having watched Sawyer’s interview of the couple during their marriage, and then of Lisa Marie after their divorce, I felt the anchor’s demeanor very condescending. She treated both like children, with brow constantly furrowed and lips curled into a near snarl, Sawyer seemed to badger them about their answers. Other than living their own lives, I didn’t think either deserved the treatment they received.

I never really took note of Katie Couric. Actually I preferred ABC’s Good Morning America with Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer, until the latter’s aforementioned interview. As with the rest of the country, Couric got my attention when she asked Sarah Palin what kind of literary material she read. Watching that interview play non-stop throughout much of the presidential campaign, had me noticing the anchor more and more.

Cropped headshot of Katie Couric

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Since Couric and Williams broadcast the evening news back-to-back, not simultaneously, I now watch both if I’m able. As I observed Couric’s handling of disastrous news, like the mid-east uprisings, and the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, I found her serious, yet compassionate and calm. By contrast I found Sawyer’s presentations agitated and discomforting. Her facial expressions always seem to register acrimony. I don’t get that from Couric or Williams, nor did I get the same feeling from Cronkite or Jennings.

Well, there you have it. I’m sure we all have reasons for watching whomever it is we watch. I’m a people-person, so I tend to focus upon the connection I have with people, as to whether I put my faith and trust in them. I’ve been meaning to voice my opinion about Jennings and Williams for some time. So now I can cross this off my lengthy “to do” list.

any thoughts?…hugmamma.

getting back into the “game”

Returned to exercise class at the community center on Wednesday; went again today. While my upper body, including my arms, neck and head acclimated to the strenous movement, my lower extremity went into shock. After all, it’s been 3 months since I’ve dragged body and soul out of bed at 6:45 a.m. to make it there by 8:15. Somehow climbing into bed after midnight doesn’t quite jive with getting up again in 5 hours, especially if I expect my body to rock-and-roll at such an ungodly hour. Having left the work force 25 years ago, this month, early morning risings are ancient history, especially when I’m feeling ancient.

Besides missing the release of endorphins, I missed the camaraderie of my fellow exercisers who, like me, are not in it for vanity. We all figure if we don’t keep moving, we won’t be moving! Exercise keeps the joints limber and the muscles taut. They, in turn, ensure quality of life as long as we’re on God‘s earth. When we retreat to His heaven, well then maybe, just maybe we’ll be able to coast on our good looks. ha, ha.

Postcard:

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Yesterday being St. Patty’s day, Kristina, our instructor decided we’d celebrate the holiday today, with Irish music. Although I’m more inclined to bump and grind to Michael Jacksons‘s beat, I’ll dance to anything, even church music if need be. After finishing our usual aerobics routine, we turned to some fancy Irish footwork, including a touch of Riverdance, and a couple of jigs. You’d think I’d have these routines memorized, since Kristina has had us do them for as long as I’ve been going, which is about 5 years. But, of course, older age and a corresponding decrease in coordination, sabotage my efforts at remembering. No matter. All of us laugh at each other’s failed attempts to get the moves right. In some instances, even Kristina forgets.

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in the ea...

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As a bonus for dragging myself to exercise class, I sometimes join a couple of the ladies for coffee afterwards. Today Kristina, Mary and I gathered at one of our favorite watering holes, Starbuck’s. Conversation is always so varied and, therefore, really interesting. Today was no exception. Discussion flowed from gay relatives, to attending a wedding where the bride’s family are all “gushers,” to biographies of Keith Richards and Meredith Baxter, to husband’s and their peculiarities. Whether sharing like-minded ideas or venting about personal gripes, we ladies are on the “same page.” We’re there for one another, or as my daughter and I are wont to say, “We’ve got each other’s backs.”

An interesting question was raised when we were chatting about Baxter’s recent “outing”  as a lesbian. It was obvious from reading her autobiography that she’d been through 3 heterosexual marriages that failed. I believe she was married to the wrong men. Baxter was the “bread winner” each time, although her husbands dictated their lives, each in his own way. She allowed their abuse, mentally, emotionally and in David Birney‘s case, physically. Faulting her mother’s total lack of involvement in her life from a young age, Baxter leaned towards “invisibility” in her relationships. Only when she finally fell into gay relationships did she feel an equal partner. So I posited the idea to my coffee-drinking buddies, that perhaps Baxter wouldn’t have gone Lesbian, if she’d met a man who treated her more like an equal, than like a doormat. My friends nodded their heads, but didn’t look quite convinced.

No matter if the conversation turns toward more serious topics, my companions and I always find ourselves caught up in fits of laughter, sometimes even hysterics. I guess we middle-aged women tend to laugh at our own jokes. Whatever?!? We have a lot of fun…and the pain of exercising seems a million miles away.

as they say…no pain, no gain…hugmamma.

“true you,” more than enough

Almost done reading True You: A Journey To Finding And Loving Yourself by Janet Jackson. Yes, she’s “the” Janet Jackson, sister of Michael Jackson. But I wouldn’t have read it for that reason alone. Interviews of her by Meredith Vieira, and then by Piers Morgan, piqued my interest. Prior to that, I really wasn’t motivated to know more about Janet. Other than her videos, songs and a couple of films, she wasn’t in the media, unless it was to do with her more famous sibling. The youngest Jackson, and second most celebrated, Janet favored living her personal life in the shadows. The reason, as revealed in her book, is that she has suffered low self-esteem her entire life.

True You is probably one of the best biographies I’ve read to date, although Janet doesn’t refer to it as such. She prefers to think of it as a spiritual and physical journey towards accepting and loving, one’s true self. The unique element about her story is its compassion throughout. There’s nothing narcissitic about the book, although the focus is obviously upon her. Janet bares her soul, but does so in relation to her commonality with all of us. We can all relate to her experiences. She’s one of us. And that’s where she seems most comfortable. She appreciates and is grateful for her position and wealth, but not at all like the other so-called “rich and famous.” While Michael remains my favorite performer, Janet is definitely my choice for BFF, that is if I had a choice.

One of the things I enjoy most is how Janet weaves anecdotes shared with her by others, whether personal acquaintances, or strangers who have written letters. Their stories are as poignant as hers, and she generously acknowledges this by featuring them throughout the pages of her book. I like that about Janet, her generosity and her humility too. Wish Michael could have been as balanced in his personal life. But his sister admits that it has taken all of her 40+ years to get where she’s at, and she’s still not done yet.

a lesson for all of us…True You …hugmamma.

THIS IS IT!!!

365 posts published in 7 months…12,113 views…record-setting 303 views today, 2/28/11 

We did it…together!!!

…”mahalo nui loa”…thank you, from the bottom of my heart…hugmamma…

short films, michael jackson’s

Below my blog’s photo header is a new “page” entitled “mj’s short films.” Because readers often overlook the pages, I’m including this post to alert you to the new addition, in the hopes that you’ll have a “look-see.” I’ve recopied the text below, and included a few of the youtube videos…to entice you. You can view more on the page “mj’s short films.”

Michael Jackson invented music videos as we know them today. It is a well published fact that he catapulted MTV into television’s stratosphere with his creations, best known among them, THRILLER. Not only a stroke of genius, but also of magic! Thriller went “outside the box” in its storytelling, its costuming, its haunting lyric and MJ’s unforgettable moves. He went on to create numerous other short story videos, some of which have rarely been seen by the general public, among them, Speed Demon and Captain EO. As you scroll through the youtube videos below, these 2 will appear towards the end. 

Captain EO  was a collaboration with Walt Disney Studios. It had been in place at Disneyland from 1986 through the 1990s. With Michael’s passing, Captain EO has been restored to Disney’s amusement parks. I’ve visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California, numerous times. But my family and I have never ventured to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. Captain EO may just be the excuse I’ve been looking for “a ticket to ride.” I may have finally found the fountain of youth at age 61. As they say, “it’s never too late.”

As with my other page “boogying with mj,” I wanted to extract my favorite short films from the vast intergalactic space known as the internet, for my personal viewing pleasure as the spirit moves me. This is so much easier than having to click endlessly through files and files of videos, to discover the ones I most like. I hope some of you will derive enjoyment from them as well. If you do, you might check back to see if I’ve added others to my personal catalogue.  

Remember, there are more to view on the “page,” entitled “mj’s short films,” under the photo header at the top of my blog.

i’m hoping you’ll boogy on down with michael…and me…hugmamma.

boogying with Michael Jackson

If you’ve read my blog since day one, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s talent as a performer. Singing and dancing have always been in my blood, so I recognize the genius that he was. While the internet is rife with MJ’s videos, it’s not always easy finding my way through the miles and miles of inventory to uncover those that keep me riveted. This page is my own catalog which serves as a reminder of the once-in-a-lifetime entertainer that was Michael Jackson. And it lets me “get down with my bad self,” as my daughter has said of me, once or twice.

Am posting this, as well as making it a permanent page beneath the photo header at the top of my blog. “Pages” aren’t always readily noticed; posts are. There are additional youtube videos on the page, “boogying with mj,” that aren’t on this post. Coming soon will also be another page of short films created by MJ. Hopefully there are some Michael Jackson fans among my readers. If not, bear with me. I’m just “getting down with my bad self.” Even seniors have their moments.

i’ve got music, i’ve got rhythmn…who could ask for anything more…hugmamma.

made my day, “footloose”

We all have one of those days now and then, maybe even more now, than then. I went to exercise class bright and early this a.m.; would’ve preferred remaining warm under the covers. As I age, Hawaii, its warmth and sunshine, beckons ever more. Like sirens of old, it calls to me, “Come lay your weary head upon my white sands, and let the warm waters of the Pacific wash away your concerns.” If I could only bottle the sun, releasing its warmth and light, as needed.

Of course exercise class always gets my endorphins moving, and my heart rate up. When I returned home, I spoke with my daughter, who agreed, that Kristina, the instructor, gives one fierce workout. Only time, and body, will tell how long I can keep pace with the younger women, those in their 40’s and 50’s. While I can always “take it down a notch,” as my daughter reminded me, I never see that as an alternative. I always challenge myself to do everything 110%, or at least 100%. I don’t usually drag myself around after working out, but I could barely register enough energy to get up out of the chair to fix a bite. But I did. Then I ran a couple of errands, returned home and plopped myself back down in the same chair, the one in front of my computer. That’s when my day took a turn, for the better.

A good friend must’ve read my mind, and knew I needed a boost. Dancing and rythmic music levitates my spirit like nothing else, well…almost. Watching my daughter dance gives me a tremendous “high,” that lasts and lasts. But I smiled nonstop during the following video which my girlfriend emailed, moving my head from side to side. The movie “Footloose” was great, but this version combining pieces of 40 movies or so, should be awarded a prize of some sort. Congrats to its creator, whoever he or she might be. Of course, I’m thrilled that an excerpt of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” was included. That was like “icing on the cake.”

So I share my friend’s gift to me, as an early holiday gift to you.

huge holiday hugs…hugmamma.