the voice…WOW!!!

I don’ have to tell those of you who are avid followers of NBC’s The Voice… that this season’s competitors are amazing! 

All of them should have careers, whether it’s on TV, Broadway, Videos, Movies, Clubs, CDs, or Las Vegas. It would be sad if they went back to working a 9 to 5 job behind a desk, or the midnight shift at a restaurant.

Talented folks should realize their dreams when they work so hard to make them come true. This, of course, from a mom with a daughter still searching for her own, special niche in the dance world.

I guess I’m biased. I’m a “left-brain” person. You know, more creative than rational.

Whether or not you tune into The VoiceI’m sure your spirit will be moved.

Here are two of my favorite performances from last night. BTW…the girl is only 16. One of the judges, CeeLo Green said she mustive swallowed an old soul. See if you agree. 
…have a listen…

……hugmamma.

on-air tantrum?

Cropped photo of Ann Curry

Cropped photo of Ann Curry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wasn’t sure how I felt about Ann Curry‘s meltdown on national TV as she exited from the Today show this week. I’ve admired her reporting and interview skills for a long time. I also thought she was a wonderful role model for Asian-Americans like myself. She’d climbed the corporate ladder with seeming class and elegance. With quiet humility Ann Curry was able to have it all. No hyper, in-your-face, beauty queen, she was one of us who happened to have a job hosting a morning TV show.

Being front man for the big boys means megabucks are at stake. The catchy ad that flashes across the screens at theaters says it all “GO BIG OR GO HOME.” Looks like Ann Curry wasn’t projecting big enough for the small screen. 

When I heard of her ouster from the Today Show, I felt sorry for Curry. However with bigger concerns occurring daily…people out of jobs, homes lost in wildfires, children dying from heat exhaustion, the tremendous growth in petty theft, pedophiles on trial…Curry’s situation paled in comparison. 

Hearing that she was receiving millions in a contract buyout didn’t make me overly sympathetic toward Curry either. Just enough since she was a woman, an ethnic sister, who slid from the summit of her career. Lucky for her she’s still working for NBC as a roving journalist. A job she’d had prior to her ascension. 

A smack to her ego for sure, but Curry’s lifestyle remains intact. The same can’t be said for millions who are unemployed through no choice of their own.

Forget That ‘Today’ Star–Weep for Today
by Joe Queenan

EVERY YEAR or so Americans get really upset because somebody insanely famous loses their job.
     First it was “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien, who whined and whined about getting purged from a job he was unqualified to fill in the first place. People were outraged. People were exorcised. People thought he got a raw deal. In fact, he got a payout of at least $30 million for taking a hike. And then he landed another show on TBS that also paid him millions. A show , like his stint at “Tonight,” that has mostly had crummy ratings. If he loses that one, we’ll never hear the end of it.
     But that will have to wait. This week, the nation’s lonely eyes turned toward embattled “Today” talk-show host Ann Curry. Stiff, distant, short on pep and nobody’s idea of fun, Ms. Curry was reportedly being offered $10 million to leave the venerable morning talk show and go back to being a real journalist. Ten million dollars. All in 20s.
     On thursday, Ms. Curry stepped down from “Today” (but she will stay on at NBC). Whatever the final financial deal, many people thought it was horribly unfair for her to get the ax. Was it her age (55)? Her gender? Or her performance?
     Just try watching her . Forget about paling in comparison to Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira. Based on what I’ve seen, Hillary Clinton has more pizazz than Ann Curry. And a better sense of humor. 
     Anyway, who cares? The number of unemployed young African-Americans in this country is staggering. The number of unemployed young people in America in general is staggering. In Spain, almost a quarter of the people are out of work, a Depression-era level. And, yes, when last I looked, lots and lots of people in developing countries were still hungry and poor and miserable.
     So explain to me why Ann Curry getting the bum’s rush was important news?
     Earlier this week, I found out that one of my wife’s young relatives had just lost his job. He has a house. He has a 3-year-old. He has a problem. One of my closest friends was recently forced to retire from his job due to kidney failure. And a weird blood disease. And, oh yes, cancer. The 60-something clerk at the convenience store I frequent, a guy who used to work in finance, is now happy to have a part-time job manning the checkout counter. The 70-something cashier at a local drugstore, a woman who fled Castro’s Cuba in 1959, recently got tossed out into the street.
     In April, in the space of 10 days, four people I know were forced into early retirement. They worked in the fields of education, air travel, publishing and journalism. They weren’t needed anymore. 
     Join the club. A few weeks ago I heard some noise outside my office and found a man in the hallway who used to work for a brokerage firm banging on every single door looking for a job. Any job. Nobody answered; I am the only person in this building whose office is still open for business. The other suites have been vacant for years.
     So explain again to me why we’re supposed to care about Ann Curry? Or Conan O’Briend? Or Indiana’s Sen. Richard Lugar, finally given his walking papers after 40 years? Or anybody else in the fields of sports, politics or entertainment?
     Maybe it’s time we redirected our concern and started showing some compassion for the truly unfortunate. Most of the people I know who lost their jobs recently lost them because of the economic downturn. They didn’t lose them because they were stiff or wooden or incapable of pretending that Al Roker is actually funny. None of them is self-pitying. None of them is overpaid. And none of them ever got $10 million to go away.
     So we can all hold the tears when Ann Curry’s name comes up. My advice to her is simple: Get yourself a real job. Not a job where you sit on a couch for two hours and gasbag with the planet’s most fiendish self-promoters. No, a real job.
     The kind of thing millions of Americans can now only dream of.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 15, 2010) Lt. Gen....

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 15, 2010) Lt. Gen. P.K. Keen, deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command, talks about humanitarian aid distribution with Ann Curry of NBC News at the Port-au-Prince National Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. United States military personnel are conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Haiti in the aftermath of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sorry, Ann. You’re a big girl now. Dry your eyes. Dust off your bruised ego and get back to doing the job you’ve a real talent for…directing the world’s attention to the plight of the downtrodden. It may not be glamorous. It may not pay as much. But it contributes so much more to society than a job that elevates gossip to the level of substantive, thought-provoking conversation.

Civilization has made great strides in advancing the way our needs are met. On the other hand, we’ve made very little progress in what we find entertaining. Watching others writhe and squirm under the media’s spotlight continues to captivate, just as the slaughter of Christians for sport captivated the Romans of old.

today’s message…avoid the spotlight…

hugmamma.

this generation…”the voice”

If, like me, you feel totally disconnected from ” whassup?” with this generation, I highly recommend you start watching the latest, reality talent phenom, The Voice. It airs Tuesday nights on NBC. The first in the series ended last night with one of four challengers being hailed as “the voice,” in addition to walking away with $100,000 and a recording contract.

Trust me when I say, I knew very few, if any, of the songs that were sung throughout the course of the competition. Every once-in-awhile I recognized a piece of something from having heard it on my car radio, as I ran errands. Fortunately I love music with a beat, or tunes that have heart. I can be-bop to almost anything. I love singing; I love dancing.

Christina Aguilera performing during the Sanre...

Image via Wikipedia

Of the 4 judges, who also coached the challengers, I’d only heard of Christina Aguilera. And it was only recently when I saw her starring with Cher in a film, that I became a huge fan of the blonde songstress. She is one amazing vocalist! But as I tuned in faithfully to watch The Voice each week, I became a huge fan of Blake Shelton, country crooner, and Adam Levine, pop rocker, who served on the panel with Aguilera. I’m still not familiar with Shelton’s songs, can only recognize a couple by Levine, and am well acquainted with only one by Aguilera, Beautiful.” Knowing who they are now, still doesn’t give me entree… into this generation. But at least I can step up to the peep hole and be a “peeping tom” into what makes the young folk tick.

Adam Levine from Maroon 5

Image via Wikipedia

Adding to my credibility as an honorary member of this generation, is the fact that I’m the one who got my 25-year-old, professional dancer daughter hooked on The Voice. Like me she really wasn’t committed to watching any of the other talent shows. But The Voice definitely persuaded us to delay our phone conversations until we’d both watched it in our own time zones. Now that’s saying something!

I heartily encourage seniors and anyone wanting to “get with it” to watch the next season of The Voice. By the way, the talent crosses all generations. One of the TV audience favorites was a 42-year-old, bald, Lesbian, with tatoos, who got the studio audience on their feet, moving to her powerhouse vocals. Beverly McLellan could belt it out with the best of them. She was one of my favorites.

Blake Shelton - 1

Image by tncountryfan via Flickr

While I liked many of the singers, my favorite was Dia Frampton. Coached by Blake Shelton, she succeeded in coming into her own as a performer, right before our eyes. Though still shy and exceedingly humble, Dia showed her creative genius for songwriting, versatility at playing the piano and guitar, and exquisitely different tonal quality which ranged from barely audible and raspy, to scintillatingly explosive. It didn’t hurt that she was Miss U.S.A. caliber either. While she wasn’t voted the winner by America, Dia wasn’t far behind. Only 2% separated her from Javier Colon, the guy who already had “the voice,” even before he joined the show.

I don’t think there was a doubt in anyone’s mind that Javier should’ve walked away with
the grand prize. Evidently he’d had a couple of non-starters at a musical career. With the unfailing love and support of his wife and 2 young daughters, as well as other family members, Javier continued to search for his breakthrough moment. Luckily for him, and for music afficionados, he found his way to The Voice, and a win he very much deserved.

Dia Frampton

Following YouTube videos are of Dia Frampton singing “Heartless,” Dia and Blake Shelton singing I Won’t Back Down,” and Javier Colon singing “Stitch by Stitch.” Hopefully these videos will convince you to tune into season two of “The Voice.”

…celebrating the voices…of this generation…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

Image via Wikipedia

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...

Image via Wikipedia

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...

Image via Wikipedia

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

Image via Wikipedia

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.

japan, different perspectives

www.army.mil

Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr

Saw my physical therapist today. As with other alternative health practitioners, I find my sessions with Dieter and Jody mentally therapeutic as well. Perhaps it’s because they, along with chiropractors and massage therapists, are in “my space” as they work to heal my body. I find it easy to express my thoughts and feelings about a whole host of topics, especially about life’s ups and downs. Because these practitioners look to getting at the root of the problem, rather than prescribing drugs for the symptoms, their solutions are more organic. They resolve to get my body back working for me, not against me. I cannot recommend them enough. Carrie, Rachel, Jennifer, Dieter and Jody are my pit stop team. Whenever I need retooling, they’re on hand to service my “parts.”

Dieter and I spoke briefly of the devastation in Japan, as did Jody and I. What was interesting about the latter conversation is what Jody told me about a couple of her Japanese co-workers who have families in Japan. To her surprise, her peers expressed little concern about their relatives. One of them still had parents and siblings there. She seemed to feel they were fine since they were in the southern part of the island. The other staff member whose sister lived just outside Sendai, where the earthquake struck, explained that such natural disasters were commonplace. The implication was that the Japanese learned to live with them.

神奈川沖浪裏 Kanagawa oki nami ura (

Image via Wikipedia

Needless to say, I was as surprised as Jody. I thought of American parents who were frantically seeking word of their young, adult children who lived and worked in Japan. I thought of TV news pictures showing people flocking to catch flights out of the country, hurrying to get away from the nuclear contamination that threatens to spread. As I pondered the disparate views of 2 Japanese women, and 2 American women, I realized the answer lay in the differences in our cultures.

Honor of country and oneself is what drives the Japanese. They honor their gods, but the people control their own destinies. With their hands, their minds, and their steely determination, they forge ahead. They work through and around obstacles. They seem to take no notice of the words “no,” “can’t be done,” “not possible.” Instead they seem to embrace the words “let’s try,” “let’s see,” “if not this, maybe this.”

SHOW ME THE OBI ! -- THE OSHIMA ISLAND GIRLS o...

Image by Okinawa Soba via Flickr

On NBC’s World News with Brian Williams tonight, reporter Ann Curry spoke with several survivors. A middle-aged couple seemed to epitomize exactly what the Japanese are about. In the midst of a country torn apart, they were picking up the pieces, literally. They swept and scrubbed the tile floors, and along with neighbors, they carted snow from the surrounding hillsides, melting it into water. The men were shown proudly carving chopsticks from bamboo they had gathered themselves.

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Jo...

Image via Wikipedia

Curry and her camera crew also visited shelters, one where young boys were seen laughing and clowning around for the the TV team. Another boy was drawing pictures, lost in his own world. The elderly were being tended to by others concerned for their fragile health. And local women sent food in the form of rice-balls, for the starving homeless. There was a general air of people helping people, as they patiently awaited their turn for help from their own government, or the outside world.

Oft-times I think we Americans tend to project our own world-view upon those of others. We can’t imagine that others would think differently. We proclaim English as the universal language, and our way of thinking as the most reasonable. Knowing the Japanese culture as I do, having been raised among them, I could guess at the reasoning behind the reaction of the 2 Japanese women who worked in the physical therapist’s office. My immediate reaction was the same as Jody’s. However, it was tempered by my knowledge of a culture that is world’s apart not only physically, but in its value system as well.

Two maiko performing in Gion.

Image via Wikipedia

 

so perhaps they don’t worry…until they have to worry…hugmamma.

oprah’s half-sister, patricia

Now that Oprah’s leaving her talk show after 25 years, I’ve become more of a regular viewer than in all the years past. Never a fan of shows that sensationalize the problems of others, I pretty much stayed away from all day time talk shows. Oprah has definitely evolved from her early days as TV talk host, making her show more varied, with professional as well as amateur, singers and dancers gracing the stage from time to time. Again, however, I was still selective. Too, I wasn’t one to sit in front of the flat screen panel for hours on end.

Now that Oprah is nearing the end of her run on NBC, I’ve managed to catch some of her shows, especially since I’ve finally registered that it’s always on at 4 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. One of my favorite segments to date, after Oprah’s interviews with Lisa Marie Presley and Katherine Jackson, was yesterday’s when it was revealed that the talk show hostess has a half-sister.

What moved me, yes to tears, was the obvious connection between siblings who have only recently found one another. Patricia, the younger of the 2, was given up for adoption in the hospital, immediately after birth. Her life thereafter was spent in and out of many foster homes, some good, some bad. Many years later she decided to search for her birth mother. When she contacted the Milwaukee Social Services Department she learned she had siblings. She saw their names and birth dates on records sent to her by the department, but her mother’s name was withheld.

While watching Oprah’s show one day, Patricia saw Oprah’s mom who revealed details about her other children. Patricia called her own daughter to join in watching the program. It became clear to both, that Oprah’s siblings were, in fact, Patricia’s as well, according to her birth documents.

Since that time in 2007, Patricia tried to make contact with Oprah, without success. Even Patricia’s pastor communicated with Oprah’s pastor to no avail. When Oprah learned that something was afoot, she confronted the executive producer of her show who confirmed that she might indeed have a sibling of whom Oprah wasn’t aware.

Yesterday’s show included a home video of this past Thanksgiving Day when Oprah met Patricia for the first time in her humble home, over dinner. Both looked joyful beyond words to have found one another. And in closing her show, Oprah expressed her gratitude to her half-sister for not having sold her story to the media long before now. That, Oprah felt, was a sign of Patricia’s true character. And what did she get from all this, Oprah asked Patricia? “Family! I got family, nieces and nephews…and you, Oprah.” In that moment, I felt, and Oprah probably did as well, that Patricia had given her sister the greatest gift anyone could ever give billionaire Oprah Winfrey: pure, unadulterated love. As a bonus, Patricia gave her 2 grown children, family, which they hadn’t had before.

Oprah has everything money can buy, and some. It warms my heart to see her in the company of simple people, like us. Celebrities are fine, but they’re not like us. So when Oprah is in their company, she seems unavailable to “normal” folk. While she certainly enjoys the friendship of the elite, she seems to relish time with those from whom she came. Oprah’s roots run deep. Every so often, her roots are “uncovered.” That’s the Oprah Winfrey I enjoy seeing.

hugs for patricia, who never gave up on herself, and Oprah…hugmamma.