View Full Version : Quotes, URL's, Links And References-by:older Femmes, Butches, Ftms, Mtfs, Queer, Etc.

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04-17-2007, 11:06 AM
(y) (y) (y)


Video search engine

So much video online. So little time. With the explosion of sites that host short films, home video, and television clips, there was bound to be a way to search for things that interest you. This site lets you search for video content and create personal TV channels.

Watch life pass you by:


8-| 8-| 8-|


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-17-2007, 11:07 AM
:D :D

Hacking Knowledge

77 ways to improve your brain

Ever wish you were smarter? Learned faster? Understood more? These tips may not turn you into Einstein but they might help nudge up your IQ. From improving your health to practicing a wide range of techniques, make the most of your gray matter.

Feed your brain:


(y) (y) (y)

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:26 AM


:-# :-# If this guy did more of this, we would ALL be better off. ;)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:28 AM


People-to-people lending

Forget the bank. This Web site matches up prospective lenders and borrowers by allowing regular people to post how much they're looking to borrow or lend and at what interest rate. Pound of flesh not included.

Live long and...well, you know:


8-) 8-)

Carpe Diem (not my dinero.), ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:31 AM


Look at the world differently

Fuzzy economist Steven D. Levitt observes the world through fish-colored glasses—with head-scratching and often hilarious insights about everyday things around us.

Upside down logic:



Uśmiech (uśmiechać się). Wy jesteście na szczerej kamerze!

( Smile. You are on candid camera! ) ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:32 AM
:o :)

Weird Things in Space

Mysteries from above

Think things are strange on planet earth? Well, check out the freakish and bizarre far above our heads. This site features the top ten weird wonders of outer space—from black holes and brown dwarfs to electrostatic levitation.

Don't look up in anger:




Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:36 AM

Tags and Tagging

By John Nolt

A tag is a word that describes a thing. Usually that thing is an item on your computer, like a picture or Microsoft Word document, or a link to a Web site. Anything that can be collected can be tagged!

Computers have trouble organizing things like songs or pictures in a way that humans can use. They need help in order to show you, for example, all the pictures of your dog.

And when you start trying to organize text files, Word docs, and links to Web sites, computers run into another problem. For example, if you search every file on your computer for any that contain the word pets, you'll get many more results than is useful.

Tags were designed to overcome these problems, helping people organize their digital "stuff" in a way that's easy and fast.




Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:39 AM
(y) (y) (y)

OSX SkyFighters 1945—Mac

Fly with the best

Join the other aces in WWII sky battles with OSX SkyFighters 1945. This is a preview version of a new flight simulator game that features online play and a mission builder. Fly against computer AI aircraft, or against others over a network. You can even create custom paint jobs for your aircraft.

Learn more and download today...


(h) (h) (h)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:40 AM



Plain wrap word processor

For those who like their writing applications button-down and simple, Dark Room is a full-screen, distraction-free writing environment. Unlike standard word processors bogged down with buttons, menus and other features, Dark Room is just about you and your text.

Learn more and download today...



Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:42 AM

Piano-Playing Cat

Play it again, Fluffy

Here's one cool cat that really knows how to tickle those ol' eighty-eights. With her two front paws, some whiskers and drool, Nora (not Jones) lays down some mellow licks on the keys with tunes old and new. Enjoy.

Kibble in the tip jar:



Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:51 AM
:| :| :| :| :|

America's founders understood the First Amendment would be worth little without a postal system that encouraged broad public participation in America's "marketplace of ideas." Thomas Jefferson called for a postal service that allowed ideas to "penetrate the whole mass of the people." Along with James Madison, he paved the way for a system that gave low-cost mailing incentives to small publications.

The postal policies that resulted have helped spur a vibrant political culture in the United States by easing the entry of diverse political viewpoints into a national discourse often dominated by the largest media organizations.

Now, this is all about to change, putting the future of The Nation, along with many other publications, at risk.

Postal regulators have decided to extend special favors to the nation's largest publishers, like Time Warner and Hearst, while unfairly burdening smaller and independent magazines with much higher postal rates--The Nation is being saddled with an unexpected increase of $500,000 in annual postal costs and many smaller publications could be forced to the brink of bankruptcy.

The only way to reverse the decision is if you - and many others - take a minute to sign a letter demanding that the rules are changed. This is not a right/left issue, which is why The Nation and William Buckley's National Review are teaming up in this instance to demand that the Postal Board of Governors reverse its decision.

Please join us in urging postal regulators and Congress to convene public hearings, determine how these rate increases were decided, and reverse the ruling. We only have until April 23--the end of the public comment period--to respond, so please take action today:

Save Small and Independent Publishers:


Take Action: http://action.freepress.net/campaign/postal

What's At Stake: http://action.freepress.net/freepress/postal_explanation.html

Promote the Campaign: http://action.freepress.net/freepress/postal_swag.html

The Post Office should not use its monopoly power to favor the largest publishers and undermine the ability of smaller publishers to compete. With your help we can reverse this decision and salvage the postal system that has served free speech in America so well for so long.

(y) (y) I am definitely taking action!! A few of the progressive liberal mags I get (and often supposedly "get lost" at some red state Post Office. I know - I have traces on several mags and have learned where some right wingnut is throwing them away...) are at stake. These smaller publications do not have the staff or funding (same thing) to publish a magazine as well as maintain an extensive web site. I would LOVE to see these smaller mags get that grass roots help so that they CAN have a huge Internet presence.

:) Staying up on the soap box. ;)


Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 07:56 AM
(f) (f) (f) (f) (f)

A candlelight vigil on the campus of Virginia Tech on Tuesday nigh



April 18, 2007

Complaints About Gunman Were Reported in 2005


BLACKSBURG, Va., April 19 — Two female students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute complained to authorities about the behavior of Cho Seung-Hui, the killer in the shooting rampage there, in separate incidents in 2005 and he was then sent to a mental health facility, but no charges were filed against him.

In a news conference today, the police revealed more details about the 23-year-old students who was named as the gunman in the shooting rampage in which 32 people were killed. Mr. Cho also died, shooting himself in the face at the end of the spree.

The police said that in November, 2005, Mr. Cho contacted a fellow female student who notified the campus police. She declined to press charges. In December, a second female student also complained to the police. While no threats were made, he was asked to have no further contact with her after the “annoying” messages.

“That’s the way the victim characterized it,” a police spokesman said.

The police later were concerned that Mr. Cho might be suicidal. Officers met with him and suggested that he speak to a counselor. Mr. Cho was later seen at a local mental health facility, then transported to another facility.

Neither of the female students who complained about Mr. Cho were among the victims, and the police were not aware if they were in the vicinity.

Also in 2005, Lucinda Roy, an English professor, shared her concerns with the authorities, but no official report was filed. The writings did not express threatening intentions.

There were no further referrals to the police before Mr. Cho was named on Tuesday in connection with the deaths of the students and teachers on the sprawling campus.

Mr. Cho has been described as a troubled young man few people on campus knew.

Federal investigators said Mr. Cho — a South Korean immigrant who Americanized his name and preferred to be known as Seung Cho — left behind a note that they described as a lengthy, rambling and bitter list of complaints focusing on moral laxity and double-dealing he found among what he viewed as wealthier and more privileged students on campus.

And new information emerged that may help explain a fateful two-hour delay by university officials in warning the campus of a gunman at large. According to search warrants and statements from the police, campus investigators had been busy pursuing what appears to have been a fruitless lead in the first of two shooting episodes Monday.

After two people, Emily Jane Hilscher, a freshman, and Ryan Clark, the resident adviser whose room was nearby in the dormitory, were shot dead, the campus police began searching for Karl D. Thornhill, who was described in Internet memorials as Ms. Hilscher’s boyfriend.

According to a search warrant filed by the police, Ms. Hilscher’s roommate had told the police that Mr. Thornhill, a student at nearby Radford University, had guns at his town house. The roommate told the police that she had recently been at a shooting range with Mr. Thornhill, the affidavit said, leading the police to believe he may have been the gunman.

But as they were questioning Mr. Thornhill, reports of widespread shooting at Norris Hall came in, making it clear that they had not contained the threat on campus. Mr. Thornhill was not arrested, although he continues to be an important witness in the case, the police said.

At the time of the dormitory shootings, Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said, “There was certainly no evidence or no reason to think that there was anyone else at that particular point in time.”

State officials continued to defend the actions of the campus authorities. John W. Marshall, the Virginia secretary of public safety, said Charles W. Steger, the president of Virginia Tech, and Chief Wendell Flinchum of the campus police “made the right decisions based on the best information that they had available at the time.”

At an afternoon news briefing, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Dr. Steger had asked him to appoint a committee to examine the university’s response and try to answer some of the remaining questions about the gunman’s actions.

Governor Kaine said today in an interview on CNN that he was appointing W. Gerald Massengill, former superintendent of Virginia State Police, to head the independent panel that would conduct the review.

After the shootings, the state police executed another search warrant, this time for Mr. Cho’s dormitory room. The warrant said a bomb threat against the engineering school buildings was found near Mr. Cho’s body. The warrant mentioned two other bomb threat notes against the campus received over the past three weeks.

Mr. Cho had used two handguns, a 9-millimeter and a .22-caliber, to shoot dozens of rounds, leaving even those who survived with multiple bullet wounds, officials said. The guns were bought legally in March and April. Colonel Flaherty said that although one of those guns had been used in the dormitory shooting, investigators were not ready to conclude that the same gunman was responsible for both episodes. But he said there was no evidence of another gunman or an accomplice.

Among the central unknowns is what prompted the gunman to move to Norris Hall, which contains engineering and other classrooms, where all but the first two killings took place. The authorities said Mr. Cho’s preparations, including chaining the doors, suggested planning and premeditation, rather than a spontaneous event.

Bodies were found in four classrooms and the stairwell of the building, Colonel Flaherty said.

“You all have reported that this is the most horrific incident that’s occurred on a college campus in our country, and the scene certainly bore that out,” he said. “Personal effects were strewn about the entire second floor at Norris Hall. So it made it much more difficult for us to identify students and faculty members that were victims.”

Officers also found several knives on Mr. Cho’s body. They first identified him by a driver’s license found in a backpack near the scene of the shootings, although it was not clear at first whether the backpack belonged to the gunman. But the name was checked against a visa application, and when a fingerprint on one of the weapons matched a print on the visa application, the authorities made a positive identification. The print matched another print left in the first shooting location.

Prescription medications said to be related to treatment of psychological problems were found among Mr. Cho’s effects, but officials did not specify what drugs they were.

Mr. Cho’s effects, but officials did not specify what drugs they were.

In addition, investigators were reviewing recent bomb threats at the university in an effort to determine whether the gunman might have been involved in them, as an effort to test the university’s emergency response procedures.

Ms. Roy said Mr. Cho’s writing, laced with anger, profanity and violence, concerned several faculty members. In 2005, she sent examples to the campus police, the campus counseling service and other officials. All were worried, but little could be done, she said.

Ms. Roy said she would offer to go with Mr. Cho to counseling, just to talk. “But he wouldn’t say yes, and unfortunately I couldn’t force him to do it,” she said. Students were also alarmed that Mr. Cho was taking inappropriate pictures of women under desks, she said.

In all, 33 people died Monday, including Mr. Cho and at least four faculty members. The victims’ names were not officially released, but most appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s. They included Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor, and Reema Samaha, a freshman and a devoted dancer. Ms. Hilscher wanted to be a veterinarian; Mr. Clark was a member of the marching band. “This is a grief that does not know an international boundary,” Governor Kaine said.

By Tuesday afternoon there were still 14 injured victims at four hospitals, out of 28 initially transported from the scene, two of whom died. The 14 included two at a Level 1 trauma center in Roanoke, one in critical condition and the other in serious condition.

One of the luckier ones was Kevin Sterne, a senior who will graduate in a few weeks. He was hit twice in the right thigh, piercing an artery.

Mr. Sterne grabbed an electrical cord and fashioned a tourniquet until help arrived. “I think there’s a good chance he would have died,” said Dr. David B. Stoeckle of Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg.

Classes at Virginia Tech were canceled for the rest of the week, and Dr. Steger announced that Norris Hall would remain closed for the rest of the semester.

Thousands of students and faculty and staff members gathered Tuesday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum, the university’s basketball arena, for a solemn convocation. President Bush and Laura Bush attended the gathering and then spent much of the afternoon consoling members of the university family.

“This is a day of mourning for Virginia Tech, and it is a day of sadness for our entire nation,” Mr. Bush said in his remarks.

The president said that Monday began like any other school day, but then took a dark turn.

“By the end of the morning,” he said, “it was the worst day of violence on a college campus in American history — and for many of you here today, it was the worst day of your lives.”

But Mr. Bush’s consoling words, and those of various campus religious leaders and the poet Nikki Giovanni, could not silence the questions of at least some of the stricken families.

“I guess we’re a little curious as to why it took so long” to lock down the campus after the first two fatal shootings, said Kim Tate, the mother of a sophomore. Ms. Tate contrasted Monday’s response to the rapid closing of the entire campus last summer after an incident involving an escaped convict in the area.

Asian-American students at Virginia Tech reacted to news about the gunman’s identity with shock and a measure of anxiety about a possible backlash against them.

“My parents are actually worried about retaliation against Asians,” said Lyu Boaz, a third-year accounting student who was born in South Korea and became an American citizen a year ago. “After 9/11, a lot of Arabs were attacked for that reason.”

Mr. Boaz, a resident adviser at Pritchard Hall, said many Korean-American students had left campus immediately. Parents of other Korean-American students were preparing to pick up their children on Tuesday afternoon and take them home.

Dr. Steger, the university president, has been at the center of this week’s trauma, which he described as a horrible nightmare from which he hoped to awake. Friends said that despite his stoic demeanor, the campus deaths had exacted a heavy toll on a man who has spent his entire adulthood at Virginia Tech, as a student, professor, dean and administrator.

“I think he’s grieving beyond belief,” said Alan Merten, the president of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who described himself as a colleague and old friend. “I think he’s suffering beyond belief.”


(l) (f) (l) (f) (l)

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:04 AM

This spring the fashion forward take their hues from nature.



Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:05 AM
(f) (f)

Favorite color: mauve. favorite author: Umberto Eco. Favorite food: meyer lemon sorbetto. Favorite magazine: T.


(f) (f) Enjoy!!

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:07 AM

April 15, 2007

Samurai Shopper

Fake ’n’ Bake


Stupid, stupid, stupid. Not you — the Samurai Shopper, slathered with baby oil and iodine at the beach, year after adolescent year, sunbathing on a bed of seagull guano, watching toddlers poke jellyfish with sticks, all the while roasting three shades darker than Danger Mouse. I looked good, at least by my account, and laughed at other beachniks slapping Kabuki-like zinc oxide on their noses. Dweebs, one and all, I said through a snicker. But sunbathing wrought terrible damage and put me where I am today.

And where am I today? In the office of Dr. Michael S. Cohen, a dermatologist in the 516 area code who specializes in Mohs surgery. And what is Mohs surgery? It’s what you get when basal cell carcinomas creep over your face: skin-cancer damage control. It means Dr. Mike, wielding a laser, slices out the facial rot. Dr. Mike has done this three times, without once carving “666” on my forehead. But he’s got time; skin-cancer treatments are an ongoing process that disfigures ears, chins and delusional narcissists who sunbathe till crispy.

Still playing Russian roulette with your skin? Stupid, stupid, stupid — and this time I do mean you. Especially with tons of self-tanners on tap and a real possibility that one of them won’t turn you into one of Willy Wonka’s Oompa-Loompas or, worse, George Hamilton. The Samurai Shopper began fiddling with self-tanners during an arctic chill, practicing for summer. At first I jumped into the fray without reading directions carefully, the same way I jump into swimming pools without testing the waters with my big toe. Though self-tanners are much improved from their Coppertone beginnings, you ignore directions at your own pumpkinesque peril. And every self-tanner says: Don’t even think of doing this without exfoliating first. Slough off those dead cells or disappear into a Jackson Pollock canvas. Moisturize, too, especially your body’s bonier bits: knees, knuckles, ankles, elbows.

I dutifully assembled the exfoliators, which smelled heavenly but felt like the same wet sand burrowed in your bathing suit when you’re bodysurfing. (Some sugar scrubs were so oily that they melted onto the bathtub floor and required molestation with Ajax before they disappeared.) Then I misapplied the brown gunk and turned my legs into streaky bacon strips. Finally I formulated a daring hypothesis, replete with cosmetic and cosmological implications: stick with tried-and-true brands. So straight to Kanebo’s Sensei line: Cleansing Gel With Scrub and the delicate Silk Peeling Powder, which erased my checkered past and polished me up for the rest of Kanebo’s new Sensei Silky Bronze Sun line.

Yon-Ka is my other go-to beauty brand. Rhyming nicely with Willy Wonka, Yon-Ka is, in fact, serious aromatherapy skin care, available exclusively through spas. Check with a Yon-Ka facialist and pick the right mix for your skin. I applied Gommage 303, a soft facial peel, and then the Lait Auto Bronzant, filled with botanicals and fruit extracts. Yon-Ka’s Phyto-Gel Exfoliant with jojoba pearls did the perfect prep job on my body; I was the new girl from Ipanema.

Another sensational spa product is Guinot, sold at Clyde’s on Madison Avenue. Type in your ZIP code at www.guinotusa.com and see if a Guinot-friendly spa pops up in your city. Guinot’s Gommage Grain D’Eclat exfoliates gently, and Visage D’Ete is a tinted self-tanning moisturizer; it left me glowy, dark and very winter-in-St. Bart’s.

DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, a carbohydrate derived from plants, is what colors the skin. It doesn’t penetrate the skin’s surface but, when mixed with other ingredients, determines — along with your skin type — your tan’s ultimate success. Clinique’s Quick Bronze Tinted Self-Tanner Mousse and Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliating Cream have got the formula down pat; the exfoliant is minty and fine-grained, and the mousse is like buttah . . . and you’ll be toast in a jiff (that’s a good thing). Elemis’s Total Glow turns out to be great for the fair-haired and freckled.

But I soon tired of auto-tanning and surrendered to the pros at Ajune, 1294 Third Avenue, a medical day spa that airbrushes you brown. The excellent Zaza salt-scrubbed me to a shine ($100) and gave me the sun-kissed treatment ($70) as I posed like a sumo wrestler, like Schwarzenegger in his Mr. Universe days, like a ballet dancer in second position. The following morning I’d morphed into an Oompa-Loompa, but Zaza had warned me that excesses happen. The orange ultimately slithered down the drain, and I was brown and sugared. SkinCeuticals’ Sans Soleil Sunless Tanner kept me that way for days.

So the Samurai Shopper is no longer just a pretty, lasered face. Ajune sold me Colorscience’s SPF 30 Sunforgettable protection brush, a magic wand dispensing non-dweeby zinc oxide to deliver me from any evil under the sun.

Would make a nice avatar:



SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:08 AM

With her lustrous hair and cover-girl smile, Kelly Klein remains the all-American poster child.



SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:15 AM
(f) (f)

April 15, 2007


Celebrity Endorsement


“I use Nivea. I swear by Nivea!” Kitty Carlisle Hart exclaims. “I was furious that they wouldn’t let me be the Nivea girl.” Hart, who danced with Cole Porter, sang with Irving Berlin and told jokes in between takes with the Marx Brothers, usually gets what she wants. She became the toast of the town in 1946, when she married the playwright Moss Hart, and today, at 96, having just finished a sold-out run at Feinstein’s at the Regency, she remains her glamorous, imperturbable self. “I’m lucky,” she says. “My left profile is very good-looking, and my right profile is very good-looking.” Ba-dum-bum! That doesn’t mean she spends no time preparing for a performance. “I have to do a lot of stuff,” she says. “I have to put on foundation, which I never wear. And eyebrows. And mascara.”

Thanks to an old movie-star friend, she doesn’t overdo it: “Once Jeanette MacDonald called me, and she said, ‘You’re not doing your lips right. Too much lipstick.’ ” Offstage, she never washes her face with soap, and her makeup takes all of 10 minutes. “Pink cheeks. Hairdo. And very red lips.” And she can’t remember a day without Nivea. “The best thing,” she says, she’s ever put on her face.

:o Who knew? I'm sticking with my own skin care - which includes staying out of the sun. It must be working - folks say I look 10 years younger - which is the best endorsement for SPF products, hats and long cotton sleeves in the Summer. ;)

(f) Have a beautiful rest of your week. I'm off to take my pop tomorrow to two medical appts., grocery shop for my folks, etc. (and I order my own groceries, ON-LINE!!) ;) Poor guy can't even drive between recent eye and heart surgeries.(l) (l) Doctors' orders - so he must have somebody drive him. I just wish it wasn't an hour drive via freeways. <sigh>

Oh well, maybe these good deeds will help me get into heaven someday. ;)

(um) (um) Może (maj; majowy) Wasz Uśmiech Jest Wasz Parasol. (um) (um)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:17 AM
(f) (f)


:) I have a gorgeous OPI blue that gorgeous! (for summertine toes, not my hands.....) ;)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:19 AM

Did you know that your feet have 500,000 sweat glands? No wonder they...well, you know...



Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?) ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:20 AM



SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:27 AM
:) (y) :) (y) :)


ON THE LINE To reduce energy bills and carbon emissions, the author secretly hung a clothesline in her backyard. Like many homeowners’ associations, hers restricts their use.


April 12, 2007

To Fight Global Warming, Some Hang a Clothesline


AS a child, I helped my mother hang laundry in our backyard in Tamaqua, Pa., a small coal mining town. My job was handing up the clothespins. When everything was dry, I helped her fold the sheets in a series of moves that resembled ballroom dancing.

The clothes and linens always smelled so fresh. Everything about the laundry was fun. My brother and I played hide-and-seek in the rows of billowing white sheets.

I remember this as I’m studying energy-saving tips from Al Gore, who says that when you have time, you should use a clothesline to dry your clothes instead of the dryer.

A clothesline. It strikes me that I haven’t seen one since 1991, when I moved to Rolling Hills, Calif., a gated community about an hour south of Los Angeles. There are rolling hills, ranch houses, sweeping views of the ocean and rocky cliffs — plenty of room — but not a single visible clothesline.

I decide to rig a clothesline as an experiment. My mother died many years ago and the idea of hanging laundry with my own daughter, Isabel, who is 13 and always busy at the computer, is oddly appealing. I’m also hoping to use less energy and to reduce our monthly electric bills which hit the absurdly high level of $1,120 last summer.

That simple decision to hang a clothesline, however, catapults me into the laundry underground. Clotheslines are banned or restricted by many of the roughly 300,000 homeowners’ associations that set rules for some 60 million people. When I called to ask, our Rolling Hills Community Association told me that my laundry had to be completely hidden in an enclosure approved by its board of directors.

I briefly considered hanging our laundry in the front yard, just to see what would happen, but my family vetoed this idea. Instead, I settled on stringing two lines in a corner of the backyard, a spot not visible to neighbors or officials. I’m supposed to submit a site plan of our property and a photograph of my laundry enclosure. But I don’t have an enclosure, unless the hedge qualifies.

Looking for fellow clothesline fans, I came across the Web site of Alexander Lee, a lawyer and 32-year-old clothesline activist in Concord, N.H. In 1995 Mr. Lee founded Project Laundry List, a nonprofit organization, as a way to champion “the right to dry.” His Web site, laundrylist.org, is an encyclopedia on the energy advantages of hanging laundry.

Mr. Lee sponsors an annual National Hanging Out Day on April 19. He plans to string a clothesline at the State House in Concord, N.H., this Saturday as part of a Step It Up 2007 rally on climate change, where he will hang T-shirts and sheets with the slogan “Hang Your Pants. Stop the Plants.”

Inspired, I moved forward with my project without submitting the site plan and photograph for approval. My daughter agreed to help me hang the first load.

“It looks beautiful,” she said when we stepped back. “It looks like we care about the earth.”

The experiment was off to a good start. The first load dried in less than three hours. The clothes smelled like fresh air and wind. As we took them down, the birds were chirping and the sun was shining.

But there was a downside. “The towels are like sandpaper,” said my husband, Dan, after stepping out of the shower.

Not only that. Heading outside to the clothesline and hanging each load takes about 7 minutes — 6 minutes and 30 seconds longer than it takes to stuff everything into the dryer.

As the months rolled by, no one from the community association complained. Of course, since the clotheslines are in a lowered corner of the backyard surrounded by hedges, they cannot be seen from the street, the neighbors’ houses or even our own house. But the rope lines started to sag, allowing the sheets and heavy wet towels to drag in the dirt. The wooden clothespins soon became weathered and fell apart.

Meanwhile, my daughter lost interest after the first load, dashing my hope of recreating the happy times I spent hanging clothes with my own mother.

I briefly gave up — the dryer was so much easier — but then tried again. I bought stronger lines, plastic instead of rope, and switched to plastic clothespins. I also learned that tossing the clothes in the dryer for just a few minutes after they have dried on the line makes them softer.

Everyone now seems happy enough with the fresh smelling laundry, which is just slightly stiff. Of course, I still haven’t asked our local board of directors for approval. If they object, I could be forced to take my laundry down or build an enclosure, an inconvenient confrontation I’m simply avoiding. In the meantime, our electric bill has dropped to $576 in March from its high last summer, reflecting a series of efforts to cut energy. (That’s still too high, so we’re about to try fluorescent bulbs.)

There were more than 88 million dryers in the country in 2005, the latest count, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. If all Americans line-dried for just half a year, it would save 3.3% of the country’s total residential output of carbon dioxide, experts say.

“It’s a huge waste of energy to tumble dry your clothes,” said Tom Arnold, chief environmental officer of TerraPass, a San Francisco company that sells carbon offsets, which aim to reduce greenhouse gases to compensate for one’s activities. “It’s one of the simplest things to do to help with global warming.”

The laundry underground is a mixed group. It includes the frugal, people without dryers, and people from countries where hanging laundry is part of the culture. Many people hang a few delicate items. Tim Eames, a British designer who lives in Los Angeles, does not own a dryer. “The thought of getting a machine to do something as simple as drying my laundry is totally inconceivable,” he said.

For those in colder climates, going without a dryer can be a challenge. Tom Stokes, a global warming activist in Stockbridge, Mass., managed to fit six clotheslines in a large downstairs bathroom, and he now hangs all of his laundry there in the winter. “It’s relatively easy in the summer. It takes more determination to string up a line and hang laundry year round,” he says.

Indeed, Annalisa Parent, a photographer who grew up in New Hampshire, said that when she was a child, her family hung all their laundry outside, even in the snow. Her father, an engineer, built a one-of-a-kind clothesline with an arched roof above it. She recalls standing her frozen jeans on the furnace to thaw them before school and wishing that her family could be like the families with dryers.

Now, at 32, she still doesn’t own a dryer. She hangs all of her laundry inside her town house in South Burlington, Vt. Ms. Parent says she was inspired to see “the beauty in a clothesline” by Mr. Lee, a friend from college. She has taken more than 500 photographs of clotheslines and her work, featured on his Web site, shows clotheslines by the sea, clotheslines in Romania and even close-ups of clothespins.

In Hollywood movies, however, clotheslines often appear in scenes depicting dire poverty. Jennifer Williams, a set decorator, says she hung clotheslines to help convey that in the films “Angela’s Ashes,” “Children of Men” and “Pearl Harbor.”

That image could limit the comeback of the clothesline. “People see laundry as an ugly flag of poverty,” said Mr. Lee. “It’s a reminder to some people of where they grew up.” For me, that was Tamaqua, Pa., where my father worked for a company that made explosives for the mines. Clotheslines are still popular in Tamaqua, where the average home price is $64,400. Linda Yulanavage, head of the local Chamber of Commerce, says more than half of the town’s 11,000 residents use clotheslines because they like the smell of fresh air in their laundry and because it saves energy. “People see it as a normal, everyday thing to see clothes hanging on the line,” she says. “It gives a homey, close neighborhood feeling.”

I completely agree, although I seem to have the only clothesline in Rolling Hills. Maybe others will join. Meanwhile, my carbon footprint is shrinking and our clothes smell like the great outdoors.

(y) (y) (l) (l) Here's to living in rural areas without those pesky association nazis telling us "only one xmas wreath on the door and one WHITE candle in EACH window" - as well as it being a fine-paying offense if I did hang sheets to dry outside.

The only things I do put in the dryer are bath sheets and bed clothes. Everything else is laid flat or dried on plastic hangers. Always. :)

What a wonderful article that initiated memories - of actually helping my grandmother to hang things on her clothesline - but those smells. Those incredible fresh smells that I could still experience at night under the covers.



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:30 AM
(f) (f)


:s Is that first photo scary or is it me?


Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:32 AM

April 15, 2007

Designed for Living


The artist Louise Nevelson said she didn’t believe in reincarnation, but late in life, when an interviewer asked her whom she would like to come back as, she answered without hesitation, herself. “The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend,” opening May 5 at New York’s Jewish Museum, showcases her monumental assemblages and pioneering, room-size environments made of found wooden objects, painted black, white or gold, and rendered infinitely mysterious.

But the artist was in many ways her own greatest creation.

Fame came to her belatedly. She was 60 when the 1959 Museum of Modern Art exhibition “Sixteen Americans” enshrined her along with rising stars like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella (all younger than her by at least a quarter-century). Most women, as they age, cling tenaciously to a few well-honed looks. Nevelson made old age the stage for a fashion revolution. Gradually, her full-blown style emerged, an immense collage whose elements were subject to miraculous transformations — the head scarves and multiple pairs of false eyelashes, the ethnographic jewels and enormous furs, the couture garments layered under and over peasant clothing.

There’s the sculptor, at 81, smoking cigars with her dealer Arne Glimcher on the roof of her Spring Street home. She’s wearing a voluminous, ruffled and spangled robe made for her by the couturier Arnold Scaasi. She sports an Inca-style necklace; two enormous disks hang from her earlobes, and her entire ensemble is topped off with a jockey cap. (What is that rule of good taste? Before leaving the house, you remove one thing?)

In most photographs, it’s impossible to tell exactly what she’s wearing — the layering of glimmering bits of exotic fabrics and utilitarian garments, the unexpected juxtapositions, create a sense of utter uniqueness, an indefinable luxury. It’s a look that’s at once out of time and uncannily of this moment — furs over jeans, pants under dresses, riots of pattern and color. Nevelson “wanted to look dazzling at all times,” Scaasi remembers. “I’d show her a blue-and-silver brocade with big gold birds all over it,” the designer recalls, “and she’d say, ‘Oh, that’s perfect for Miss America’ — meaning herself. We’d make the suit, thinking it would be for evening, but then she’d be giving lectures in it at 10 a.m.” Glimcher told me recently that “she used to say, ‘I’m an atmospheric dresser,’ ” as if by piling on the clothes she could invent her own personal weather.

It must be somehow comforting to move about, suspended in an aura of your own creation. An ex-boyfriend of mine, a prominent European artist, was convinced he’d never make it into the major leagues because of his unprepossessing appearance. “Look at Duchamp and Picasso,” he’d say mournfully. “So handsome, both of them!” Of course, he’d neglected to mention the original peintre maudit, Modigliani, whose beauty and way with a neck scarf were legendary, as well as a host of subsidiary dandies, like Foujita, the Japanese painter who, inspired by Isadora Duncan’s brother Raymond, wandered the streets of bohemian Montparnasse in a Greek tunic he had woven himself; or Dalà (ferally attractive in his youth, before he turned to self-caricature), who almost suffocated from the deep-sea diving suit he wore during a 1936 lecture in London. And in our own day, I can remember artists grumbling at the almost instant success of Matthew Barney, whose early videos showed the fetching young creator elaborately made up as a cloven-foot, nub-horned satyr. “You know,” they’d say, “he was a J. Crew model.”

I was fond of my artist, short and squat as he was. But I suspected he was onto something. Nevelson, too, believed that “the physical is the geography of the being.” Early on and for decades, she grew accustomed to the tributes that a beautiful and charismatic woman receives as her due — so that, when fame finally came, she was ready for it.

“Miss America” was born Leah Berliawsky in Kiev, Ukraine, to upper-middle-class Jews with ties to the lumber industry. In her memoir, “Dawns and Dusks,” she claims to have known that she was an artist from her earliest childhood. She emigrated with her family at age 5, following her father to Rockland, Me.; they were wearing Persian lamb hats and coats, which must have made these rare Jews seem terribly outré in small-town, Puritan New England.

Charles Nevelson, a New York Jew who with his brothers made a fortune in shipping, was her ticket out of Rockland; they married, and their son Mike was born in 1922, but her artistic ambitions soon clashed with the demands of domestic life. An exhibition of Japanese Noh robes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art broke through her depression, convincing her that “life is worth living if a civilization can give us this great weave of gold and pattern.”

So she shook off her marriage, left her son with family in Maine and set off for Munich, where she studied art with Hans Hofmann. Returning to New York, she worked briefly as an assistant for the muralist Diego Rivera, admiring both his wife Frida Kahlo’s paintings and the Mexican folk dress and jewelry that Kahlo wore while entertaining “princesses and . . . laborers” in the couple’s West 13th Street salon.

The record of Nevelson’s clothes during those years of struggle is mixed: a burlap sack, a hot-pink ensemble, secondhand ethnic costumes and bits of old lace alongside sleek suits and fashionable hats. She knew poverty, but she rejected the look, which other American artists embraced as a seal of authenticity. And she never remarried, despite hordes of male admirers. (How did she manage to dress so wonderfully, her fellow artist Alice Neel asked her, on her limited W.P.A. stipend in the 1930s? Nevelson’s answer is unprintable in a family newspaper.)

Nevelson paid a price for her stylishness — other artists mistook her for a bourgeois girl who was slumming, neglecting her almost preternatural energy for work in the years when she regularly woke before dawn to enter her studio, pausing only to dine on sardines and stale bread. In fact, her talent for self-dramatization seems both a reflection of the intensity of her drive and a cover for the deep vulnerability that went with it. Eventually her mature look (photographed by everyone from Cecil Beaton to Robert Mapplethorpe) became a public brand, as much as Warhol’s helmet of white hair and affectless demeanor. “She was a real innovator,” observes Brooke Kamin Rapaport, the guest curator of the Jewish Museum’s retrospective, “not just in creating her work but in her understanding of artistic celebrity.”

A girl with artistic inclinations growing up in the 1970s might have looked to Nevelson or to Georgia O’Keeffe as a role model.

(As a style icon, O’Keeffe was the anti-Nevelson, with her tailored blacks and whites and intensely weathered skin that was almost part of her costume.) For Laurie Simmons, who always knew she wanted to be an artist, there were no visual clues in suburbia for what a woman artist should look like. “Nevelson was one of the first to penetrate my awareness in that way,” she recalls. Simmons, best known for her photographs of eerily animated ventriloquists’ dummies, currently favors little black dresses by Lanvin and Narciso Rodriguez. “All my strangeness is channeled into my work,” she explains. “But I’ve always admired the idea that an artist’s persona could be seamlessly at one with her creations.”

Male artists can pull it off with a single uniform, like Carl Andre’s overalls or Joseph Beuys’s fishing vest and fedora, which they exercise ad infinitum. For women artists, negotiating the fraught terrain of appearance requires considerably more work. (I knew a painter who spent inordinate amounts of time trying to maintain the illusion that she never gave her clothes a second thought.) When the wacky post-minimalist Andrea Zittel faced the problem of maintaining art-world chic on an emerging artist’s budget, she created personal “uniforms” that she wore for months on end around her desert compound near Joshua Tree National Park: they evolved from Comme des Garconish sheaths to wild, organic-looking, felted dresses. The sculptor Chakaia Booker says she begins each morning by collaging her appearance, using head wraps, neckwear, found objects and pieces of rubber to get the creative energy flowing from one medium — herself — into another.

Then there are the performance artists whose looks are vehicles for their oeuvre, like Orlan, who sculpts her own body with cosmetic surgery; Colette, who religiously clothed herself in pink for nearly a year; or Carolee Schneeman and Hannah Wilke, beautiful women who took off their clothes and turned the art world upside down. Marina Abramovic, a statuesque Slav, still endures intense physical trials in the service of her art, but has recently confessed a weak spot for glamour. Three hundred people filed into the Guggenheim Museum to celebrate her 60th birthday in February (dress code: outrageously elegant); we watched a film in which she cut and whipped herself and lay naked on a cross of ice, then we went upstairs and toasted the artist, who was attired in Givenchy.

The sculptor Kiki Smith was there, wearing some flowing white garment that set off her long, gray tresses; with her tattoos, multiple piercings and ankle bracelets, Smith’s flower-child-meets-emergency-medical-technician persona seems entirely of a piece with her uncannily corporeal oeuvre. So do the looks of the film installation artist Shirin Neshat, a tiny, Iran-born woman of birdlike slenderness, whose fiercely kohl-rimmed eyes and heavy Persian jewelry seem drawn, like her work, from a deep well of exoticism and strength. These women, in their appearance, deliver what, on some level, we long for — the vision of an artistic ideal permeating every corner of an artist’s life.

That ideal, it seems to me, is waning. More artists (preoccupied with their career, perhaps?) appear to be playing it safe. Fashionistas like the painters/sculptors Hope Atherton (a Vogue “Girl of the Moment”) and Rachel Feinstein (a muse to Marc Jacobs), when not toiling in their studios, appear fabulously garbed in the party pages of magazines. Which is not the same thing as embodying an artistic ideal.

That, on Nevelson’s terms, requires another half-century of ripening; maybe it requires time spent in the artistic wilderness of neglect, where an individual’s creative will is forged. Nevelson, after all, did dress for success, but success has never looked like that before or since.

(y) (y)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:36 AM
:o :o

Not since the human animal made the evolutionary leap have standards of beauty changed so dramatically. Daphne Merkin on cyborg chic.


April 15, 2007

2007: A Face Odyssey


We have always been slightly uneasy – notwithstanding our growing cultural obsession with youth and physical perfection – about the enormous value we assign to female physiognomy, based as it is on nothing more substantive than an undemocratic rolling of the genetic dice. Clearly, although we have all been bequeathed a more or less similar arrangement of facial features (eyes, nose, mouth, neck, skin), there are some women who emerge, either by way of felicitous lineage or a hazard of good fortune, with mugs to die for. Audrey Hepburn. Vivien Leigh. Grace Kelly. Julie Christie. Julia Roberts. Halle Berry. Penélope Cruz. The variations may range from the gamine to the sultry, the classic to the exotic — stopping along the way for the slightly more Nordic look that often goes with blond lovelies — but the theme is the same. They are undeniably beautiful; we, by and large, however attractive or striking, are not. This tragic and unearned differential (one that is becoming ever more tragic in a “looksist” society) has led us to devise ways of minimizing beauty’s importance with dispassionate abstractions or consoling, somewhat grandmotherly mantras. If you want to get high-minded about it, you can clutch for solace at the conjecture of the 18th-century philosopher David Hume that beauty “exists merely in the mind . . . and each mind perceives a different beauty” and hope that no one will notice that this observation, if it ever held up, preceded the invention of photography. Closer at hand is the adage “Beauty is as beauty does,” which is the kind of snippy comment Mary Poppins might have made if she came upon one of her charges preening before his or her reflection. Then there is the old platitude “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” which attempts a similar leveling of the playing field.

I suspect these reassurances never fooled any woman anxiously eyeing herself in the mirror before going out for the evening, and as we get older, this lifelong negotiation with the looking glass becomes only more fraught. (Many of us, I imagine, will eventually feel in sympathy with Bette Davis, who, as Queen Elizabeth I in “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex,” becomes apoplectic at the very thought of catching a glimpse of her ruined face, screaming, “Break every mirror in the palace! I never want to see one in Whitehall again!”) The really noteworthy fact, however, is not that these ploys have never much worked but how singularly irrelevant they have become over the last decade — almost like maxims from another planet. For one thing, the promise and gradual destigmatization of cosmetic surgery has led less-than-stunning women to believe that a gorgeous countenance is there for the paying. Another, more significant reason is that the contemporary archetype of beauty, as seen on the runways and in fashion magazines, is no longer applicable or even familiar. For that matter, it’s barely recognizable.

The faces I’m referring to seem to have arrived here by spaceship from some silent lunar landscape, rather than by the bawling and bloody process by which ordinary mortals enter the world. The Platonic ideal of beauty is now as it never was: more humanoid than human, more the product of an art director’s digitalized pastiche of desirable features than a naturally occurring phenomenon. The reasons for this include our increasingly sophisticated techniques for airbrushing flaws or imperfections out of the picture; our fascination with self-invention and technosexuality (also referred to as robot fetishism); our ever more phobic attitude toward aging and dying; and our worship of young, blank, unlived-in faces that resemble the baby-faced characters in Japanese animation films. Thanks to these influences, our aesthetic standards have mutated into an eerie image of female attractiveness that, if not unprecedented, has been relatively uncommon until now.

I think of this new typology as Android Beauty: part intergalactic and part neonatal; part Angelina Jolie and part Tilda Swinton; part “2001: A Space Odyssey” and part Bratz dolls (the post-Barbie fashion doll with exaggerated eyes and lips that looks, as Margaret Talbot wrote in The New Yorker, “as if the doll had undergone successive rounds of plastic surgery”), with a little bit of Bambi and those kitschy Keane portraits of lollipop-eyed waifs thrown into the mix. You can, of course, coin any term you like, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

The identifying signs of this change — a radical reconception of what makes for feminine pulchritude — can be readily enumerated. They include a high, rounded forehead; a giraffe neck; enormous eyes that are usually spaced low on the head and wide apart; an imperceptible nose; a pillowy or pouty mouth, but one with the lips always everted, as if ready to be kissed. Because the body on which this face is set is, needless to say, thin to thinner to twiglike, the head looks proportionally larger, even otherwordly. Think Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Victoria Beckham. Models like Alice Gibb and Gemma Ward. Think, in a nutshell, Nicole Kidman at this year’s Oscars, whose weirdly vacant mien (especially unsettling in light of her native comeliness) had everyone (who managed to stay up) talking.

The New York plastic surgeon Yael Halaas, who notes that the laws of beauty have been “amped up,” attributes Kidman’s cyboresque look to the “Vulcan eyebrows” that can result from too much or wrongly placed Botox. It might also have to do with the silicone-smooth surface of Kidman’s skin, from which all traces of emotional expressiveness — of having laughed or cried, struggled or aspired — have been erased, leaving a blank slate onto which we can read our own scripts. In this sense, Kidman functions both as herself and as a “sim” — a simulated version of herself, much like the Daryl Hannah character in “Blade Runner.” Where once we tried to understand the fractured nature of identity by way of psychological concepts that pointed to an interior life, these days we seem to have traded in that somewhat demanding approach for an exteriorized, sci-fi dramatization of the seemingly inexplicable divisions within ourselves: goodbye doppelgänger, hello avatar. Goodbye therapist’s couch, hello “Star Trek.”

But while the ubiquity of computer-manipulated movies, photographs and other visual media may account for the extraterrestrial, “Beam me up, Scotty” aspect of Android Beauty, old-fashioned terrestrial science may help explain its equally disturbing, arrested-in-time quality. You might wonder, given the feminist legacy of self-determination and the long-ago (or what seems like long-ago) vision of power dressing, why women have suddenly been pushed back to, if not quite the cradle, then certainly to a state of prepubescence. Which is where evolutionary biology and the theory of neoteny — the persistence of larval or fetal features into adult life — enter the picture. Zoologists like Desmond Morris, in his book “The Naked Woman: A Study of the Female Body,” have proposed that our species’ — and especially men’s — apparent preference for juvenile features can be traced back to (or, if you like, blamed on) neoteny.

This theory, which can be seen as a breakthrough or a bit of nonsensical speculation, depending on your view of evolutionary biology, is in truth no more than an extension of Darwin’s principle of sexual selection, which he developed to account for what appeared to be cumbersome and nonfunctional characteristics. (Until he figured out that gender-specific traits — like attention-grabbing fans on male peacocks — informed the dynamics of the mating game, which trumped workaday survival needs, Darwin was in a state of despair about the validity of his revolutionary ideas. “The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick,” he once admitted before finally embarking on “The Origin of Species.”) Accordingly, Morris points out that women have more neotenic physical traits — twice as much baby fat, smoother skin, larger eyes and puffier lips — the better to arouse a protective instinct in males. The zoologist Clive Bromhall, in his book “The Eternal Child,” goes even further, suggesting that neoteny has been misunderstood. In a hubris-smashing moment, Bromhall claims that the entire human species has become “infantized” in order to physically survive and emotionally flourish. We have regressed, it would seem, into a state of permanent childhood.

Where, you might ask, does this leave us? No one needs to be told that the business of beauty is inherently superficial and pitiless, but it’s another matter entirely when it starts to depart from all prevailing norms.

So here’s the burning question: Are Android Beauties ahead of the pack, leaving the rest of us who have not morphed to lag behind, fated to be nonbreeding singletons with our lurking expression lines, relatively teensy eyes, prominent (or at least visible) noses and collagen-free mouths? Or do they point to an alarming future in which little girls will be eroticized without

The constrictions — the civilizing restraints — of guilt or of culturally mandated taboos and in which the Humbert Humberts of the world will be just one of the gang, just another regular pervert, free to cruise the playground without pretext or disguise?

In a remarkable essay, “Afternoon of the Sex Children,” which appeared last spring in the journal n+1, Mark Greif makes a persuasive argument that the possibility of such a pedophilic scenario coming to pass is neither futuristic nor even all that unlikely. In fact, as Greif envisions it, the scenario has already begun without our even noticing. The trend of the last 50 years, he observes, has been toward focusing our lascivious gaze with ever greater intensity on the prenubile rather than averting our eyes from them: “The representatives of the sex child in our entertainment culture,” he writes, “are often 18 to 21 — legal adults. The root of their significance is that their sexual value points backward, to the status of the child, and not forward to the adult.” One doesn’t have to look far afield for confirmation.

A study by the anthropologist Douglas Jones, in which he fed the images of various models into a computer that correlated the size and proportions of people’s faces to their age, estimated the models’ ages to be 6 or 7.

In which case, Stanley Kubrick was more prescient than even he suspected when he ended his sci-fi fantasy “2001: A Space Odyssey” with a puzzling (and somewhat pretentious) image of a fetus. It might well be — it is certainly worth considering — that what our information-stuffed, overstimulating and multitasking time has produced is not a yearning for new legal-age experience but rather a counter-yearning to evolve backward to some beckoning galaxy where life has literally just begun and adult consequence is yet to appear on the horizon. Perhaps the emergence of Android Beauty finally suggests that, rather than facing our respective futures with anticipation, we are, many of us, carrying a secret longing to tarry another day or two (make that a trimester) in the womb.

:| :| :|



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:43 AM


April 15, 2007

Ask and You Shall Receive


If you’ve always wanted a skyline painted on your nails or the hair waxed off your big toe, all you have to do is ask. The former is available at Manhattan’s BanyanCiti Spa, albeit unadvertised, and the latter can, if you pipe up, be happily accommodated at Bliss.

Repeat spagoers are discovering what friends of the house have come to expect at swanky restaurants: that dishes not on the menu are available to regulars by request. There is a trove of extra services out there — Cornelia Day Resort will send your watch to Cartier to be repaired, and if you’re bored while your color bakes, Salon Eliut Rivera will order up a reflexologist — but these extras are hush-hush. Why? Cost-effectiveness, for one thing. Some places may have another reason. As Nathaniel Hawkins, a stylist and spokesman for Tresemmé, explained, salons don’t always have insurance for things like brow dying, but if the staff leaves a Q-tip and a bowl of dye next to you, who’s to know?

;) ;) I was just at the salon (finally had time!) late yesterday afternoon. I LOVE how it feels after just getting my hair done. No roots, beautiful highlights, nice trim (hair still to the middle of my back) and bangs can now be worn as bangs......;) (Not pushed to the side.) One of these days I really must get my hands and feet done at a salon, not by me. I miss my acrylics to tell the truth - they prevent my from nervously picking at my hands. :| White gloves also prevent this as well though. ;)

(o) Off to make lunch and get some work done. (o)

Uśmiech (uśmiechać się). Wy jesteście na szczerej kamerze!

( Smile. You are on candid camera! )

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-18-2007, 08:50 AM
:| (l) :| (l) :| (l) :| (l)

April 17, 2007, 6:34 pm

Love in the Digital Age

By Alice Mathias

This winter I was in a class called Romantic Comedy. Shakespeare, you might ask? Umm … no. We’re talking “You’ve Got Mail.” I figured this had to be the Rocks for Jocks of the film department, but as it turned out, Rom-Com was no sunset stroll down the beach. We dragged our feet through Freudian readings of “Bringing Up Baby” and analyzed the shift from modernism to postmodernism by contrasting “The Apartment” with “Annie Hall.” All I wanted to do was kick back with some popcorn and take a vacation from my not-so-“Moonstruck” freezing-cold Dartmouth winter, but unfortunately there would be an exam.

For this exam, we had to bust out our crystal balls and write an essay predicting the future of the romantic comedy genre. Our professor raised several issues to consider. Among them was the fact that zero Renaissance Dartmouth men had signed up for this pretty-big class. Our professor was a guy. He liked sappy movies. Was this a generational thing?

One of my classmates suggested a revealing answer. Perhaps a heterosexual Romeo might be paranoid about listing Romantic Comedy as one of his courses in his Facebook profile. He might imagine that Juliet was out there somewhere, stalking through cyberspace looking for the One. What if she were to check out his course load, see that he was in Chick Flicks 101, and assume he was therefore “interested in: men”? This stereotype-fueled miscommunication could be the dagger that might murder their chances of ever meeting face-to-face! Talk about tragedy.

My classmate’s hypothesis demonstrates how young people today think about relationships and identity — that is, in terms of Facebook.com. Men (and women!) of my generation are undergoing an unprecedented emotional crisis that has little to do with gender roles. We are trapped in the Age of the Emoticon :(

Young people today are more inclined than ever to drool over love stories in the flickering privacy of the movie theater, because in our own realities, the classic process of romance is as endangered as — well, the movie theater. We have entered a post-butterflies era. Romantic comedy’s nerve-wracking meet cutes, blind dates, love letters and eye contact have been kicked out of our love lives by MySpace, Match.com, AOL Instant Messenger and e-mail. The mystery man has been expelled from our virtual paradise. His identity has been unveiled by Google, and guess what? He’s no Cary Grant.

My first (and arguably most notable) faux-mance started in seventh grade when a boy in my class asked me to be his girlfriend on AOL. That relationship came to an abrupt end days later when we accidentally bumped into each other in the cafeteria and failed to overcome the challenge of improvising un-spell-checked conversation. (I had just had my braces tightened, so I got away with pretending my teeth were too sore for me to talk.)

Communication has been streamlined by the Internet, and something essential to the process of falling in love has been lost. We can type up carefully crafted statements rather than go face-to-face and improvise from the heart, thereby risking embarrassment, vulnerability or Oscar-worthy dialogue. We can Google our way into the museums of each other’s identities — and fall in love there.

If we get up the nerve to e-mail or IM our love interests, we can correspond at a comfortable pace (i.e., however long it takes us to come up with witty, well-crafted messages). They will assume we’re taking our time to respond because we’re busy fighting off that parade of knights in shining armor who are begging to be listed with us in a Facebook relationship. They don’t know we’re staring longingly at that one picture that pops up when we Google them, and we don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re staring longingly back! (Bonus: No one has to deal with that awkward “who’s paying?” question.)

Flirting has been transformed into a digital process. We don’t even have to touch each other to “hook up.” We can just hook up to the Internet.

The difficulty of negotiating what happens in each arena of reality probably explains why the word “awkward” has shot to the top of my generation’s lexicon. My classmates and I charade our way through first dates, trying to keep track of what’s been said versus what’s been read on the Internet ahead of time. We have to fake it through “Where are you from?” conversation, and if we let something slip that reveals we’ve done our research, it’s awkward.

It gets even more complicated than that.

That real-life Archibald Leach was probably no Cary Grant (the pseudonym under which Archie was advertised to adoring audiences). But today, we are all walking, breathing Cary/Archie complexes — part public, part (we hope) private.

We are all so submerged in one another’s gazes that it’s almost natural to act as though we’re always in a movie. (Thanks to all those security cameras out there, we pretty much are!) Like movie stars, we are sensitive to the fact that everything we do and say (every mistake we make and every triumph at which we “boo-yah”) could be witnessed and speculated about in public forums by just about anyone in the world.

Granted, many of us have not yet established much of a reputation on the Internet; as we get older we will undoubtedly accumulate more and more hits on our Google resumes. But we cannot separate ourselves from our Internet alter egos. Both are relevant players in our job searches, friendships and love lives.

Our children may even Google us someday. We’re never going to be able to ground them for doing anything without being exposed as hypocrites. Whoops.

The truth is, my greatest concern is not with how the Internet will influence romance. Romance is a privilege. One can get through life without it. I’m concerned about emotion in general.

I’m worried that we are becoming desensitized to the fact that there are actual human beings whose lives and feelings are being shaped by things that are so easy to mindlessly type into e-mails, chat rooms, Facebook wall posts and blogs.

Maybe I’m just skeptical about emotional relationships because I haven’t met the right person, i.e. “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier. (Cut to: me swooning.) Who knows, Adrian might be hypnotized by fate to read this online declaration of my love for him and consider e-mailing me, thereby unleashing a flood of digital interactions that might culminate in a (mind-bogglingly awkward) real-life encounter. Of course, this is never going to happen because just before he e-mails me, he’ll Google my name (just to make sure I’m not a freak), and find out that I am, indeed, apparently quite appalling, according to recent comments on blogs in response to my April 1st post on this site. Everyone’s ability to “get to know Alice Mathias” online may very well be the beginning and end of my social life and my chances at scoring that M.R.S. I’m purportedly looking for. (From Mr. Grenier or any other Internet-savvy, earth-dwelling guy for that matter.)

All joking aside, I am willingly putting myself out there for criticism in a public forum. That said, it is important to understand that similar attempts at identity destruction are happening to innocent people in every corner of cyberspace — to people who aren’t asking for it.

For example, Dartmouth students have recently had to deal with the construction of the Web site boredatbaker.com (which has cousins at the other Ivies, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and Stanford). Intended as a community tool, this Web site has mutated into a forum for the anonymous publication of very personal attacks on students who must try their best not to be emotionally affected when people publicly question their sexuality, comment on their physical appearance and speculate about their value as humans.

In anonymous Internet attacks, people can say things they would never mention aloud while looking their target in the eye. No one need take any personal responsibility. The victims of these unfortunate manifestations of free speech must suspend their emotions and try to trust that people around them (including love interests) aren’t the ones who are writing or consuming this stuff. The safest thing to do in our boredatbaker-shadowed community is to be emotionally isolated from everyone until graduation brings escape.

So I guess the question remains: what does all this mean for the future of romantic comedy?

:) I would not trade with these graduates in this article for anything. I LOVE being my age and looking forward to so many things - such as traveling, especially to old as well as new favorite places. It is while traveling where I meet f2f so many remarkable people of various ages and diversity of background - many of whom continue to stay in touch (however virtual) via the Internet and those lovely one-in-a-blue-moon mailed letters.

;) "Romantic comedy" - I liked that. (y)


Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 09:32 AM
;) ;)

It seems almost quaint now, but when the Web was young and carefree, before it got all serious about making money, one of the primary activities was simply wandering around. No highly targeted search, no shopping missions, no mundane transactions -- just cruising from link to link, guided only by curiosity. The reward was coming across something fun or useful that you never would have found otherwise. Now, with the Web much larger and tuned to meeting specific needs and markets, it seems harder to make time for wandering and harder to find wheat among the chaff, hence the popularity of social bookmarking. On Wednesday, Google made a move aimed at bringing back the fun of fortunate finds, and eBay was reported close to doing something similar, with one counting on smart algorithms and the other on wise crowds.

Google has added a button to its browser toolbar (only on Windows IE, for now) whose function is aptly symbolized by a pair of dice. Click it and you'll be taken to one of 50 pages that the search sovereign's computers think you might enjoy based on your search history. If you have a personalized Google start page, you can add a Recommendations page and have it display all the links at a glance. Given the breadth of the Google universe, you can expect to roll a winner now and then, but the results will depend on where you've already gone, not where people are choosing to go right now. And if you're like me, a lot of your searching isn't necessarily for things you're broadly interested in, but rather things you need to find for business, school or some momentary specific need.

(y) (y) http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/searching-without-query.html


Meanwhile, eBay, which reported sterling quarterly results Wednesday, is widely rumored to be acquiring StumbleUpon, a site recommendation service run on user ratings, for something close to $40 million. Exactly what use it would put the social technology to is open to speculation. Some are suggesting it could be tied into Skype, eBay's Net telephony service, or auctions. But, like Muhammad Saleem at Pronet Advertising, I suspect the big payoff may be in the area of social shopping, employing StumbleUpon's community filtering to let shoppers share bargain finds and product reviews. "All things considered," writes Saleem, "when you think about the the potential to know what someone wants to buy, and then the ability to link the person to that very thing, which has also reviewed and recommended by the person's peers, eBay's decision makes absolutely perfect sense. Now they have a marketplace, a service to facilitate monetary transactions, and a platform to determine consumer preferences, opinions, demand, and so on. The circle has been completed."






(y) (h) (y) (h) (y) (y) (h)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 09:33 AM
:) :)


"I usually start the day by importing a few CDs as I answer the morning e-mail and down my first cup of coffee. As I'm working on a story, I keep on importing - somethings transferring two discs at once simultaneously on the G5 and the iMac. I'm forever tinkering with the library, several hours a day, often when I'm on the phone, sometimes even when I'm watching TV (on the extremely rare nights when I'm not out covering live music)."

-- Will Friedwald, jazz fan, New York Sun writer and possessor of what may be the largest iTunes music collection in the world (his main library has 172,150 tracks from 11,561 album by 2,935 artists).


(y) (8) (y) (8) (y) (8) (y) (8)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 09:39 AM
:| :| :|


Last month, it was USA Today adding social features to its news; today, it's MySpace adding news to its social features. The popular online hangout today launched MySpace News, where the presentation is based on user rankings of content that the site pulls in from trusted news sources. Letting users submit their own finds, a la Digg, Reddit and others, may come later.





Whether this has any appeal for you depends largely on whether you spend much time on MySpace and whether you happen to share the interests of the site's youthful demographic. Fox Interactive Group, owner of MySpace, expects that in the absence of any huge news story, the top of the listings will be dominated by entertainment, gossip and oddities. But more value might be found among the 300 subcategories. "It's extremely hard [on other sites] to find the person saying the most interesting thing on something narrow, like USC football," said Brian Norgard, who, with Dan Gould, created NewRoo, acquired by MySpace for this technology.


MySpace News faces the challenges of any socially driven feature, like the small percentage of readers who actually participate on participatory sites, and the interest of MySpace socializers in reading and rating news is open to question. Further, by priming the pump with links and blurbs from news sites, MySpace could end up in the same kind of tussles with content producers that Google News has. But with 100 million members, MySpace has the raw material from which to build an active news site, even if, as Seamus McCauley contends, it's missing a chance to do something truly novel.

(y) (y) :



8-| 8-| 8-| 8-| 8-| 8-| 8-|


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 09:47 AM
(h) 8-|

Google's shopping search debuted in late 2002 as Froogle, a name that, in the spirit of the company, was cute and clever. As it turns out, it was also less than clear about its affiliation and purpose, and that may have been one factor in keeping the service from becoming the blockbuster Google hoped it would be. On Wednesday, a more mature Google gave the site a more mature, less ambiguous name: Google Product Search. "We were a really young company, and I don't think we really understood the burden of a new brand," said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google. "I also think it was very hard to build awareness. Our product offering was very robust, but it will fare better with a Google Product Search name."





(f) (f)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 09:55 AM
:) (8) :) (8) :) (8)


Very, Very (h)(h)(h)(h).


Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 09:59 AM
;) ;)


;) ;)

(y) (y)

:D Now if I could only speak. Coughing for over two weeks, but it got a whole lot worse while down taking my dad to his eye and heart appts last Thursday and Friday. Got back yesterday and felt/still feel as if a Mack truck ran me over. :| My eyeballs hurt! :| Even Wyatt the Boxer is being a good boy and snuggling close to me, as if he knows his mama is feeling really sick. (l)


Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 10:07 AM
(y) (y) (y) (y) (y)

Profiles of some intriguing people and how they're starting over in life as entrepreneurs.

Profiles in Retirement: The Entrepreneur Option


Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal.

Profiles in Retirement, a new Encore feature, will take a look each issue at a handful of intriguing people and how they're starting over in later life.

-- Glenn Ruffenach

Running The Numbers

At age 73, Henry K. "Bud" Hebeler is spending the bulk of his retirement -- as much as 12 hours a day, six days a week -- helping thousands of people with their retirement.

Mr. Hebeler, a former top executive at Boeing Co., is the developer of analyzenow.com, widely regarded as one of the best Web sites about retirement finances. Started in the mid-1990s, the site is intended, in his words, to "educate a wide range of people, from laymen to professionals, about the realities of retirement planning." To that end, Mr. Hebeler spends much of his day answering emails from users of the site and thinking up new ways to demystify money management in later life.

(Two of the latest and most helpful tools: free programs titled: "Should You Take Social Security Early?" and "Evaluating Immediate Annuities.")

While Mr. Hebeler preaches the necessity of planning for retirement long before the day arrives, he acknowledges that his own preparations at Boeing were a mixed bag. He was president of Boeing Aerospace Co., a division of the parent company. And like many people with busy lives, he says, "I didn't have time to think about things like retirement."

At age 55, though, Mr. Hebeler found himself reading a set of fuzzy financial projections. Those numbers would start him on his present course.

The projections focused on Mr. Hebeler's own retirement savings and came courtesy of a financial planner provided by Boeing. The problem: "Almost all the material was written in the best interests of the financial firms" that helped produce the projections, Mr. Hebeler recalls. "If I had used that material to make presentations to our board, I wouldn't have had a job."

That shortcoming "got a fire burning in me," Mr. Hebeler says. Leaving Boeing, he embarked on a campaign ("idealist that I was") to educate America about retirement planning. The early days were rocky. An effort to publish a book met with closed doors in New York.

Eventually, he hit on a strategy: Anytime he read what he considered a good article about retirement finances in a magazine or newspaper, he would write the author, complimenting him or her on the material -- and offering his own services if the writer needed help in the future.

Gradually, Mr. Hebeler's name and expertise began showing up in financial planning circles. After starting analyzenow.com, he was asked to write a book about retirement: "J.K. Lasser's Your Winning Retirement Plan," which is still in print. His second book, "Getting Started in a Financially Secure Retirement," comes out next month.

Today, Mr. Hebeler and his wife, Mirriam, divide their time between homes in Seattle and Park City, Utah. At the latter, the couple still ski five or six days each week, despite a growing assortment of injuries. (A friend observes that the Hebelers are "held together with Kevlar, titanium and Velcro.") His Web site, Mr. Hebeler says, typically gets "several thousand hits" each day. Money from sales of software and books is plowed back into analyzenow.com.

When asked to compare his time at Boeing with his new career, Mr. Hebeler talks about the personal nature of his work today. "At Boeing I was largely helping people very indirectly -- through the defense of our country, for instance. There were a lot of filters involved. But here, you're right on the forefront of helping people. You can see the effect it can make."

(y) (y)

One Park At a Time

Most evenings in retirement, Jim and Patricia Raffin sit alone, watching sunsets, listening to the occasional coyote howl and waiting for the morning, when they can return, as Mrs. Raffin describes it, to "one of the greatest jobs you can think of": camp hosts in a national park.

The Raffins are part of a small army of volunteers who travel across the country in recreational vehicles and set up home -- typically for several months at a time -- in destinations as large and prominent as Yellowstone National Park (2.2 million acres, primarily in Wyoming) or as small and remote as Fort Craig (a 19th-century Army post in New Mexico, on about 20 acres). Working for such agencies as the Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, the Raffins and others serve, as their title indicates, as "hosts," welcoming visitors and campers, answering their questions, providing information about the site, and enforcing local rules and regulations.

At the same time, these volunteers (in some cases, small stipends are available) get the chance to experience the nation's natural wonders as few travelers do. "There is no better way to see the country," says Mrs. Raffin, age 70.

The Raffins are actually on their second retirement. Jim Raffin left the Navy in the early 1970s. The family moved from Rhode Island to Texas, where Mr. Raffin ended up working in a nuclear power plant. He retired from that job in 1996.

At that point, the couple "sold everything," bought a motor home and began touring the country full time. At one early stop, Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming, a camp host asked the couple if they would be interested in filling in for some volunteers who hadn't yet arrived. The Raffins agreed and ended up staying almost six weeks. In 2002, they began working as camp hosts virtually year round.

Summers find them at higher elevations in parks in Colorado or Wyoming; winters prompt them to head south, volunteering at sites like Fort Craig, a personal favorite. ("You haven't seen anything until you've seen the sun go down on the mountains of New Mexico," Mr. Raffin, age 72, says.) Volunteering isn't all work; there are get-togethers with other camp hosts, pot-luck dinners and, of course, the chance to meet travelers from around the U.S. and the world.

What many travelers don't realize, the Raffins say, is how budget cuts are hurting (and even forcing the closing of) parks and campgrounds nationwide -- and how badly volunteers are needed.

"Are these parks going to be available for future generations to enjoy as much as we have?" Mrs. Raffin asks. "I think all retirees should give some of their time to causes like this."

(y) (y)

A Passion For Books

Jim Strawn is the classic example of a person taking a passion -- in his case, a penchant for collecting books -- and turning it into a business in retirement. Last October, Mr. Strawn, age 65, a former finance chief in the radio industry, and his wife, Judy, opened their own store, Smythe Books, in Dunwoody, Ga.

Of course, starting a business, whatever the spark, is seldom easy. Mr. Strawn's story involves many small steps over many years, as well as one unexpected setback: a loss of confidence.

A Georgia native, Mr. Strawn graduated from college in 1963 and spent much of the next 35 years in the broadcast business, first with Cox Broadcasting Corp. and eventually as a senior executive with two closely held chains of radio stations. Midway through this career, Mr. Strawn found a new hobby. The catalyst was a biography of C.S. Lewis, the English author best known for writing "The Chronicles of Narnia."

"I never had been a big reader," Mr. Strawn says. But "this book hooked me. I couldn't put it down." By chance, a family trip to England was already in the works, and Mr. Strawn decided he would spend part of the vacation learning more about Lewis. The final day of the trip found him at a book fair in Oxford, where he bought several first editions of Lewis's writings.

In the years that followed, collecting books became a passion. Mr. Strawn began studying authors and why certain writings were important to them. He attended book fairs in the U.S. and Europe and developed relationships with dealers. He enrolled in classes about finding and identifying rare titles. And he bought books and more books, amassing some 2,000 titles in all.

In 1998, Mr. Strawn walked away from the radio business, financially successful, but "tired and burned out." He turned briefly to golf and travel and considered "doing something" in the book industry. As the months passed, though, "I began to lose confidence in myself," he recalls. "My experience in radio had been so specialized. My skills didn't seem to be a match for anything."

A new direction came from a breakfast meeting with his pastor, who steered Mr. Strawn toward an accounting job with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a nonprofit group based in Atlanta. What began as a part-time position turned into a five-year commitment, with Mr. Strawn ending up as the organization's chief financial officer. Perhaps more important, his work and success at the fellowship restored his confidence, and persuaded him to give the book business a try.

Indeed, when asked today what advice he would give others, Mr. Strawn urges would-be retirees to "keep yourself in situations where you don't lose faith in your abilities. With nonprofits and churches, you'll end up being a valuable asset, and that could turn into something much bigger."

Smythe Books, only five months old, is already expanding; Mr. Strawn was able to lease some additional space and will soon have about 14,000 titles on his shelves, up from about 9,000 when the shop opened. (Buying up the inventory of a bookstore that was closing in South Carolina allowed him to augment his personal collection substantially.)

Mr. Strawn spends about 40 hours a week at the store, Monday through Saturday. Two retired librarians work with him part time. He delights, in particular, in being able to satisfy customers' requests for the obscure. "I had a man walk in and ask if I had any books about checkers," Mr. Strawn says. "I told him, 'Yes, I have two!' "

And he continues to look ahead. "I want to be a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America," he explains. "To be a book dealer of any substance, that's a badge you need to wear.

"I still have some goals."

(y) (y)

An Apostle For Fitness

Anger and fear can do wonders for your retirement.

When Carole Carson retired at age 59, she remembers feeling an "ineffable sadness." Although she had enjoyed a successful career in business, she had wanted, at some point, to work as a writer and to get herself in good physical shape.

"I reconciled myself to the fact that I would never write and always be fat," she recalls. That sense of resignation, she adds, was the worst part of retiring. "I didn't have my dreams anymore."

Fast-forward six years. This coming week, Mrs. Carson's first book will go on sale. Titled "From Fat to Fit," it chronicles how she lost 62 pounds, began a new career as a writer and fitness advocate, and helped a California community dedicate itself to good health. Now 65 years old, Mrs. Carson traces her transformation in retirement to a single event: a July morning in 2001 when she stepped on her bathroom scale.

It showed that she was carrying 182 pounds on her 5-foot-1-inch frame. She describes the moment in her book:

" 'That's it!' I said, more in desperation than conviction. 'If you don't change, you'll die fat. You have to do something before it's too late!' "

Mrs. Carson had worked in several different jobs and careers before that summer. She taught high school, worked in college administration, started her own consulting business and eventually owned a chain of 30 hair salons in the Midwest. Selling the chain marked the beginning of her retirement; soon after, the numbers on the bathroom scale sparked a search for help.

Mrs. Carson, who lives in Nevada City, Calif., first found a fitness coach. "Looking back, I realized my problem: I had tried to [lose weight] alone," she says. "For the first time, I admitted that I needed help."

At the same time, she emailed her local newspaper, the Union, and asked if the editors might be interested in a free-lance article for the "senior section": a first-person account of one woman's efforts to get fit. The paper said yes -- and ended up running the story, with a large photo of Mrs. Carson and her 44-inch waist, on its front page.

Mortified at first, she began hearing from people who applauded her candor and wished to talk about their own struggles to lose weight. The Union, meanwhile, asked if Mrs. Carson would be interested in writing a weekly column about her progress (or lack thereof) in shedding pounds. In the months and years that followed, a new career was born.

Mrs. Carson ended up teaching classes about fitness and helped organize a community "meltdown" in Nevada County, Calif. One thousand residents, in teams of about five to 10 people, joined forces to see how much weight they could lose in two months. Shored up by weekly pep rallies and progress reports, the participants shed almost 7,600 pounds. That effort garnered national media attention and convinced Mrs. Carson that her retirement could best be spent helping others lead healthier lives. Her new book is one part of that effort; she continues to write for the Union and is speaking with other communities about organizing their own "meltdowns."

"It's all about reinventing yourself," she says of retirement. "I'm working harder now than I ever did when I had my jobs. But now, I'm doing things I really want to do."

(y) (y)

A Hiring Hand For the Feds

Vicki Novak, retired less than two years, is on a mission: to help smooth the way for fellow retirees, among others, to find work with the federal government.

At the same time, she has found what many Americans appear to be searching for in later life: an important and challenging job that makes use of her talents and experience -- and one that gives her the freedom to, well, play.

"I'm lucky," the 55-year-old Virginia native says simply. "I'm in good health, I'm passionate about what I'm doing, and I'm having a heck of a good time."

Ms. Novak works with the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit group based in Washington that educates young and old alike about the value of public service and helps recruit workers for government jobs. After spending 35 years working for Uncle Sam, Ms. Novak is now trying to streamline the government's hiring process, convincing government managers of the benefits of hiring from new "talent sources" (including older adults) and, at the same time, making it easier for applicants to get their foot in the door.

"In the next five years, 600,000 people will be eligible to retire from the federal government," Ms. Novak says. This, from a full-time work force of about 1.6 million. Already, "people are scrambling around, looking for help," Ms. Novak adds. "I think I can make a difference."

Ms. Novak is the first to acknowledge that none of this -- her new job, her lobbying efforts, her commitment -- was planned. "Before I retired, I wanted to do volunteer work -- maybe the elderly, or hospice, or children," she says. "There was no strong focus. Rather, her retirement to date is a lesson in the importance of remaining open to new interests in later life.

Ms. Novak had what she calls a "light-bulb moment" in early 2006. Recently retired from a top position at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, she was invited to speak at Louisiana State University. Talking with students, Ms. Novak realized that most had little if any knowledge about government work. "They thought that all jobs were in Washington, that there were no exciting jobs in government. And they had no idea where to go to find out."

Hoping to change such misconceptions, Ms. Novak approached the Partnership for Public Service and offered her services. Today, she spends about three days a week working on two major programs -- Call to Serve and Fed Experience -- designed to help recruit young adults and baby boomers, respectively, for positions in the federal government.

Ms. Novak says it's the balance she has struck between doing "something that's meaningful" and still enjoying travel and hobbies (her golf scores are in the low 80s) that has made retirement rewarding. After all, "we're telling [government] agencies to be more flexible -- to allow people to work part time, or work from home," she says. "The government hasn't done that in the past. But people want that flexibility, and employers need to be willing to meet them halfway."

(y) (y)

Patching, Painting And Sewing

Travel and volunteer work are near the top of most people's to-do lists as they approach retirement. Which is why Bill and Jackie Conaway think they have found an ideal life.

The couple, who live in Lafayette, Ind., are part of Nomads, a volunteer group associated with the United Methodist Church. (The letters stand for: Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service.) Members travel throughout the country in recreational vehicles and spend several weeks at a time refurbishing churches, youth centers and camps, among other sites and facilities. Membership is open to anyone, not Methodists alone.

Last year, a thousand volunteers completed 166 projects in 28 states and Mexico, and donated an estimated 121,000 hours of their time. Members spent 13 weeks alone last spring helping rebuild homes in Louisiana and Mississippi damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The Conaways ascribe their introduction to Nomads as "fate." Both retired in 1996, Bill from a career in banking and Jackie from Purdue University. Already RV veterans, the couple embarked the following year on a three-month trip to Alaska. On July 4, the Conaways stopped in the small city of Wasilla to watch the local holiday parade and ended up parking next to a truck with a sign that read "NOMADS."

Catching up with the truck's owners, who also were walking to the parade, the Conaways asked what the sign meant, and the small group fell into conversation about the organization and its work. The following year, the Conaways signed aboard.

In the time since, they have focused primarily on projects in the Southwest (in winter months) and in their home state of Indiana (in spring, summer and fall). Typically, the Conaways will pull their RV into a spot provided by the project coordinators and begin work. The jobs run the gamut: patching floors, painting walls, installing cabinets, sewing curtains -- just about anything involved in restoring and repairing aging churches and related sites. (That said, the Conaways draw the line at scaling large ladders, especially outdoors. "We try to keep off of roofs," Mr. Conaway says.) Most volunteers put in about 20 to 25 hours a week

The work, according to the couple, fills two needs: their desire to travel and their need to feel useful.

"We're not very good at sitting around," says Mrs. Conaway, now 66. "We want to be productive. And that's the reason Nomads is so good for us. It really gives us a purpose, like we're contributing to society."

In some ways, the decision to join Nomads was a logical fit with the pair's lives before retiring. Mr. Conaway, in particular, who is now 68, had been deeply involved with the couple's church in Indiana -- at one point helping to oversee a multiyear building project.

"If it hadn't been Nomads, we would have found something else," says Mr. Conaway, who has spent four years on the organization's board of directors. "We have the wherewithal to do these kinds of things. We're just trying to give back."

(l) (l) REMARKABLE!!!

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 10:15 AM
;) (f) ;)

New to Space Monkeys... Detachable Tattoo Sleeves. A pair of nylon mesh sleeves that you pull up your arms to give the illusion of a full sleeve tattoos.


:) I would LMAO but that would start a coughing fit.....:D

;) Is it hot around here today, or is it me? ;)

Uśmiech (uśmiechać się). Wy jesteście na szczerej kamerze!

( Smile. You are on candid camera! ) ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 10:17 AM
Dial A Human, the secrets to skipping past the automated phone tree on the service lines of scores of companies:


(y) :D (y) :D

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 10:19 AM
;) ;)


:D Hilarious!!


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 10:21 AM

The only people sweating more than blacked-out BlackBerry users last night were the millions of last-minute tax filers who hit "send" at the end of their TurboTax toils, only to be left hanging without any sign that their returns had been filed. The flood of taxpayers who now procrastinate electronically rather than on paper was even greater than anticipated and overwhelmed the servers at Intuit, makers of the program. At the peak, company officials said, the servers were processing 50 to 60 returns a second, and that wasn't nearly enough. "If you are sitting there and just did your taxes and want to get assurance it's been filed, it has to go into the queue," said Intuit spokesman Harry Pforzheimer. "We are processing as quickly as we can given the unbelievable demand and the last-minute demand. You can't increase capability quickly enough to solve the problem for every single individual hitting the OK button."




Luckily, the IRS woke up in a good mood this morning and told those who'd been caught in the crush that they would face no late fees. "They will not be penalized for filing late," said Bruce Friedland of the IRS. "We will do everything we can to assist taxpayers affected by the situation. If people couldn't e-file last night, we encourage them to file as soon as they can."

:| :| :| :|


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 10:23 AM


"Jerry Yang and I just announced at our quarterly employee all-hands that Yahoo! has committed to going carbon neutral this year. Essentially, that means we're going to invest in greenhouse gas reduction projects around the world to neutralize Yahoo!'s impact on the environment. While doing our homework on this, we measured our carbon footprint and discovered that Yahoo! going carbon neutral is equivalent to shutting off the electricity in all San Francisco homes for a month. Or, pulling nearly 25,000 cars off the road for a year."

-- Co-founder David Filo announces the further greening of Yahoo


Pretty and very cool (p) :


(f) (f)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 10:42 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l)


1890 Mennonite Antique Quilt Top"




(l) (l) http://www.flyingsquirreldesigns.co.uk/images/blue-alaska/blue-alaska-all-large.jpg


(l) (l) (l) http://www.finefocus.net/quilts2.jpg


(f) (f)

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 10:45 AM
(l) (l) (l)


THAT's a pretty porch! http://www.claibornehousebnb.com/porch2.jpg



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 10:54 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l) (l)





(f) (f) Romantic Inns:


(l) The Will Rogers Ranch House in Pacific Palisades. Photo by Marc Holmes.



(l) Could this be you and your lady love? Experience down-home hospitality and western charm of a working cattle ranch. The Fite Ranch is chock full of desert beauty, privacy, and history.




(y) (y) I would LOVE to check this one out for sure!!


(um) (um) Może (maj; majowy) Wasz Uśmiech Jest Wasz Parasol. (um) (um)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-23-2007, 11:18 AM
;) ;)

The simple element of beauty is so important in our everyday lives... Beauty knows no age, no race, no gender... it is timeless and forever. Every woman has her own kind of style, a kind of individual, indefinable, incandescent something. There's no such thing as effortless style. Knowing yourself, knowing your budget and knowing your size are required for great style.



:o A wee bit off in the weeds IMHO:


(f) http://www.noosaheavensent.com.au/pics/heaven_sent_main.jpg


(l) http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/images/us/local/products/detail/f09434_dt.jpg

http://www.coolantarctica.com/feze/Vermont/country-store0075.html (NOT in pink.)


Definitely not sexy, but "enough" to answer the door in....;)



Again, ANY color but pink for me:



;) Okay, I also will not wear yellow sleep wear either.



:o Could you sleep in this? http://static.flickr.com/24/58101760_13e2c59abe.jpg




(l) CLASSY! http://www.apparelsearch.com/images/Womens&#37;20Sleepwear.jpg





(l) (l) http://www.horchow.com/products/mn/HCM0870_mn.jpg




(f) (f)

(c) (c) More tea and back to the sofa to get some rest. 8-)

If I feel better later, I'll get into some travel and other cool URLs I have been saving up but didn't have Internet access the last two + weeks. It *is* however so nice to "be" here this afternoon.

Have a lovely Monday and rest of your week. (f)

Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-24-2007, 06:20 AM


(h) (y) (h) (y)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-24-2007, 06:22 AM


8-| 8-|

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-24-2007, 06:23 AM
:| :| :|


:o :o Pretty silly, I think.

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-24-2007, 06:26 AM

The Alternative To Roller Skates & Bicycles


:o Might be more of a self defense weapon than mode of transportation, eh? ;)

^o) Or maybe it's just that I am still not feeling well. But - better than yesterday! <:o)



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:22 AM
(f) (f)


At Three minutes and Four seconds after 2 AM on May 6th This year,
the time and date will be:

02:03:04 05/06/07.

This will Never happen again in our lifetime.

:o :o


Castigat ridendo mores,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:25 AM
(y) (y)


5.8 billion and counting

Want to know the world's cold, hard facts—right now? Get real-time info on the world's population, number of births per second, how many bicycles have been made this year, how many people have seen movies so far, and so on. Bliss for an information junkie!

How many kangaroos hopping?






Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:27 AM

Fold School

Origami was never like this

Instead of making a pretend rocket ship or kitchen for your kid, turn that gargantuan cardboard box left over from your new fridge into a footstool. Or even a rocking chair. Just download the pattern and start folding!

Think out of the box:


(h) (h)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:30 AM


History in the camera's eye

This photo blog features images of American life as we lived it about 100 years ago. Not staged—real shots from a century past. The buildings are smaller, facial hair a bit poofier, but it's still just folks selling oranges, catching rats, sunbathing on the weekend.

Say "Aged cheese!"


Too bad this was taken before 1931 - I would have invited this person in for tea!



(f) (f)

(um) (um) May Your Smile Be Your Umbrella. (um) (um)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:32 AM

The Stinkers

Get your tomatoes ready

The self-touted Ultimate Bad Movie Awards. Read about the bad, the ugly, and the, er, uglier in the world of smelly cinema. Check out the odiferous eggs of yesteryear laid by some of today's favorite stars. And don't miss the parody of AFI's 100 years, 100 Movies.

Just roll credits already!



Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:34 AM
(o) (o) (o)

The Human Clock

Does anybody really know what time it is?

Sure, if you want to know the time, you can just glance at your watch or the ol' clock on the wall. Très passé! But this ingenious site has thousands of collected photos of found and fabricated numbers, updated every minute, to show you the time in a whole new light!

Time to check it out...


(o) (o)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:36 AM
(ip) (ip) (ip) (ip)

Game: Virtual Villagers — Windows

Your own desert island

Fleeing from a volcano eruption, a tribe of little villagers find themselves stranded on a mysterious island. Lucky for them you're there to help them start life anew by becoming farmers, scientists and explorers. As your village grows and prospers, your villagers become curious about their mysterious new island home and the secrets it holds.



(um) (um) Może (maj; majowy) Wasz Uśmiech Jest Wasz Parasol. (um) (um)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:37 AM

MacAstronomica — Mac

The truth is out there

MacAstronomica generates sky maps from the perspective of anywhere on Earth. The maps show all the planets and stars visible to the naked eye, as well as some galaxies and nebulas, known meteor showers, and the Milky Way. Get a view of the universe from your computer:


(y) (y) (y)

(um) (um) Może (maj; majowy) Wasz Uśmiech Jest Wasz Parasol. (um) (um)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:39 AM

Bunny Show Jumping

Long-eared galoots hopping over li'l fences

This, ladies and gentlemyn, is exactly what the Internet was made for: broadening your horizons and revealing a bright, wonderful world you'd never otherwise know existed. In this case, the world of show bunnies. Jumping over things. Thank you, Internet.

Watch them wascal-y wabbits:


:) :)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:42 AM


"So my personal belief would be that if privacy is important to you, Google should not be your biggest concern for two reasons. First, I believe Google does more to protect our users' privacy than any other major search engine. Second, I believe other companies such as ISPs have a superset of the data that Google has, plus they have verified payment/identity, plus they know which IP addresses you are on, even if you switch IP addresses."

-- Google's Matt Cutts steers privacy activists toward a new target


(y) (y)

O! Plus! Perge! Aio! Hui! Hem!

(Oh! More! Go on! Yes! Ooh! Ummm! ) ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:45 AM

Doll Face follows a machine’s struggle to construct its own identity. The machine with a doll face mimics images presented on a television screen and ultimately self-destructs from its inability to adopt a satisfactory visage. Created in its entirety by Andy Huang, Doll Face presents a visual account of desires misplaced and identities fractured by our technological extension into the future.



Ventis secundis, tene cursum.

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:47 AM


:D :D :D

Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:48 AM

(hint: you don't want to find yours on this list) ;) ;)


Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:50 AM
:) :)



Fac ut gaudeam.

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:54 AM
......you just don't have the voice for talkies:


Right now, corporate outposts in the virtual world of Second Life have the novelty thing going for them, but the benevolent dictators at Linden Lab know that if they want to get down to serious business, some improvements need to be made. One big one is in the works -- speaking at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo, CEO Philip Rosedale said Second Life is now beta testing technology that will allow voice communication among the avatars and hopes to roll out the feature in the next few months. And it won't be just plain old voice; the technology includes three-dimensional imaging, so that you can differentiate between sounds coming from behind you or down the hall to the left.


While many Second Life residents will welcome voice as a way to prevent carpal tunnel problems caused by repeatedly typing "Oh, baby, yeah ... that's right ... yes, yes," Rosedale sees the business-world benefits. "There are a lot of problems with telephony when doing conference calls. You can't tell who's talking if there's more than one person. But in the virtual world, voice solves it," he said. Fertile ground may also be found in using voice for virtual-world marketing interviews, he added: "I do think people even today have a willingness to engage in a conversation beyond what they'd do chair to chair."


Rosedale also acknowledged that to encourage more business activity, the entry barriers to Second Life participation -- creating a presentable avatar, learning to fly gracefully -- need to get lower. To that end, he said, perhaps a starter pack would be made available, allowing a busy executive to scan his photo onto a ready-made online persona. And Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, VP technical strategy & innovation at IBM, also speaking at the conference, said he expects some business etiquette to eventually develop around avatar use. "You don't want to be a chipmunk avatar if you're going to meet clients," he said.


Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 07:59 AM
(ap) (au) (ap) (au) (ap) (au) (ap)



^o) ^o) If not already, everyone will have jumped on this bandwagon, IMHO. Calculators for that human footprint, that is.....;) It's a good idea but some of the proposed "balancing solutions" are off in the weeds. :|

Fac ut vivas. :)

SWeetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-27-2007, 08:01 AM

Mini Cooper XXL: Oxymoron on Wheels:




Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:17 AM
:o :o :o

SLIP THE BONDS Dan Brooks, in a 1978 airplane, is a student at the flight school in Smoketown, Pa.



April 26, 2007

Up, Up and ... Never Mind


Smoketown, Pa.

MATTHEW W. PHELPS was a natural candidate for flying lessons. A computer system administrator, he liked anything technical. He had a brother who had a plane and wrote about aviation for a magazine. And from the moment he got behind the controls, at a small airport north of Boston, he enjoyed himself.

“I liked it a lot,” he said. “It was fun, it was exhilarating.”

But Mr. Phelps, 42, embodies all the promise and crisis of general aviation. He gave up after 15 hours of lessons, probably about a quarter of the way to earning his license.

“At that point, I’d met my future wife and we were starting to save for the wedding, and then to buy a house, and then there was something else to save money for,” he said. That was in 1993. “I’m still sort of dreaming that it might get done, I just put it on hold,” he said.

Once, nearly every boy had the idea that he would slip the surly bonds of earth and dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings, as John Gillespie Magee Jr., a pilot in the Canadian Air Force, wrote in 1941. Plenty of people still go to school hoping for a job at the airlines flying the big jets, but experts fear that the hobbyist, who flies as an alternative to golf or boating, or perhaps to take the family 100 miles to a beach or maybe just an obscure restaurant, is disappearing.

The number of student pilots is down by about a third since 1990, from 129,000 to 88,000. The number of private pilots is down from 299,000 to 236,000, according to statistics kept by the Federal Aviation Administration. And they are aging.

Some longtime private pilots fear that an industry is withering, and a bit of Americana is slipping away, along with a bit of freedom and joy. And it is happening in part because of lack of interest; Walter Mitty doesn’t want to fly anymore.

The industry has recently launched a major campaign to lure people like Mr. Phelps back, and to recruit new students. But something has changed.

“It’s not a Gen X kind of thing,” said Paul Quinn, 62, with a smile, as he fueled up his 1942-vintage Army Air Corps trainer at the tiny airport in Smoketown, Pa. Sitting at the picnic tables overlooking the single runway, a variety of students, pilots and sightseers had gathered in the warm sun. Most, like Mr. Quinn, had gray hair. “Most of the people who are out here are in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s,” he said.

Ironically, an increasingly technological society is turning its back on a high-technology pastime.

One problem is fear, in an era when people describe their cars by the number of airbags, not the number of horses. In small planes, the statistics show that fatal accidents per 100,000 hours of flight fell by one-quarter in the decade ending in 2004, but some people in aviation fear that tolerance for risk is falling even faster.

ANOTHER is the shift of income and family decision-making to women. Industry leaders try hard not to sound like a former president of Harvard and attribute anything to innate skill, but women simply do not take up flying as frequently as men do.

“There’s been a big sociological and psychological change in the families of today, in where the discretionary dollars go,” said Phil Boyer, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. When the husband told the stay-at-home mom of the 1950s that he was going to spend a Saturday afternoon taking flying lessons, she acquiesced, he said. Today, he said, in a two-income family, she is more likely to say: “You are not. That’s your day to take Johnny to the soccer game, and what the heck are you doing spending our hard-earned money on flying lessons?”

Mr. Boyer’s association is trying hard to make flying more appealing to women, including offering training in how to read aviation maps, talk on the radio and provide other help in the plane, and maybe transitioning them to earning a license themselves. But 95 percent of the students are still male, he said.

At the airport in Smoketown, Matt Kauffman, the chief flight instructor at Aero-Tech Services, the only flight school here, said that the training system had not adapted itself to women. “Women learn differently from men,” Mr. Kauffman said. “If two men go up, they will scream and shout, and a transfer of knowledge occurs, and we’d get back on the ground and go have a beer, and life is good,” he said. “If you yell at a woman, she’d start crying, and she’d never come back.” He would like to hire a female flight instructor but can’t find one, he said.

Time and money drive others away. The prospect of taking months to earn a pilot’s license is less appealing now. It is also expensive, $5,000 to $7,000. Renting even a tiny two-seat plane runs $75 an hour, and an instructor, $40 an hour or so. Fuel costs money, too, but its recent price increase is not a major consideration, because small planes burn only six to seven gallons an hour.

David Ehrenstein got his pilot’s license in graduate school in the early 1990s, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I’m a little bit of a closet technie nerd,” he said. He liked flying because “there’s a bunch of technology involved,” and that using it “to do this great cool thing was exciting.” But he had to give it up when he moved to Washington about three years later.

“My impression is that when people grow up and have kids, they no longer have time to fly,” said Mr. Ehrenstein, now 40. “When I quit, the major demographic of pilots was retired white guys.”

Even people with money find flying a guilty pleasure. Ron Janis, a lawyer in New York who specializes in mergers and acquisitions, wants his license so he can fly to a house he and his wife bought in Provincetown, Mass. And he loves to fly. But, he said: “I certainly work longer hours than when I started. And I do get in trouble with my firm for taking this time off” to fly.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, did not help, nor did the crash deaths of prominent private pilots like Cory Lidle or John F. Kennedy Jr. Nor did the bumbling flight of two men from Smoketown into the District of Columbia in May 2005, in a two-seat Cessna, that paralyzed the federal government.

“We’ll be paying for that for years,” said Mr. Kauffman, the flight instructor. (The men were not his students and it was not his plane, he quickly pointed out.) Mr. Kauffman said his business has held constant, mostly because his only competitor went out of business last year.

Indeed, airports like this one show signs of stagnation. At any general aviation airport, the cars in the parking lot are usually new but the planes on the field have vintages more like the taxis in Havana. They are all well maintained, some private pilots say, but carburetors are still in common use.

Vern Raburn, the president and chief executive of Eclipse Aviation, which is seeking to sell a new generation of tiny jets for general aviation use, observed in a speech that the Beechcraft Bonanza is now 60 years old. “I challenge you to find another industry in the world today that celebrates building 60-year-old products,” he said.

But Mr. Raburn’s product costs over $1.5 million, and thus is not likely to revitalize the lower end of the spectrum.

Some industry executives say the reason is that America is no longer a do-it-yourself, take-charge society, and that includes fly-it-yourself. Mr. Boyer’s group, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, tried putting ads on the cable TV channels that run do-it-yourself home improvement and electronics programs. The campaign did not work very well, he said. Now his organization has a new marketing campaign, Project Pilot, with a smoothly produced video narrated by Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles, who flew the Atlantic solo in 1927 and electrified the world of aviation.

“It gives me a rush every time I go up,” he says on the DVD. But he adds: “Just as my grandfather’s flight created a huge interest in flying, we need to create that same groundswell today. We need a new generation of general aviation pilots, because without more pilots, even A.O.P.A. can’t keep general aviation strong, and that will ultimately have a big effect on every pilot.”

BUT some veterans fear the magic is gone for good. Men who returned from World War II having seen the Mustangs, Corsairs or Thunderbolts might have wanted to fly their own propeller planes. In the wars in the Middle East, the A-10 Warthog has not inspired the same ambitions.

The F.A.A. last year introduced a new kind of license, sport pilot, to try to lower the barriers to entry and draw more people in. The license limits the pilot to very small planes, and, at first, daytime flying, and staying within 50 miles. It also requires fewer hours, and costs about half as much to get.

Many flight instructors say the license is so limited that there is no reason to bother. Hal Shevers, who owns a flight school near Cincinnati, is pushing his students to get the license. With it, he said, “I can take my mom and dad or wife and kids up on a nice afternoon or sunny Sunday, and show them the sights.”

“I can show them a sunset, a sunrise.”

But to work, some people in the industry say, it will require a major manufacturer to build a new class of plane, one that can be sold for less than $100,000, and insured for less, so it will be less expensive to rent.

To be able to offer cut-rate prices for the new sport license, Mr. Kauffman went looking for a small, simple, inexpensive airplane. He ended up with an Aeronca Champion, which was built in 1946. So far, nobody is building a new plane to match the F.A.A.’s program.


(l) (l) I soloed in an Aeronca Champion, which was built in 1946. Although it was in Riverside, CA, not PA. Small world.

(h)(h) Finally! A passion, a hobby, a lifelong love that Boomers and their folks engage in!! As a private pilot (of antique planes, not "milk stools" or "spam cans"), I felt a kinship with these pilots my age and older. I always learn something new from the stories of older pilots. (y)

(ap) (h) (ap) (h) (ap) (h) (ap) (h)

(ap) Up and away into the wild blue yonder!

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:27 AM
:s (&) :o (&) :) (&) :)

Pet-Friendly Like an increasing number of dogs in Manhattan, Bogie, a 12-pound Shih Tzu, had to go through an entrance interview for a rental.


Me and My Human Jessica Cohen made an offer on the spot for her new condop so that her two dogs, Hailey and Meagan, could live in a pet-friendly building.


April 29, 2007

So, Do I Make the Cut?


BOGIE, a 12-pound Shih Tzu, is an experienced navigator of the many hoops that humans and pets must jump through for acceptance into Manhattan apartment buildings.

A few years ago, he aced his admission test at a luxury rental building at 222 East 34th Street: a half-hour interview with the building’s manager, office assistant and lawyer. Bogie charmed his reviewers with his easygoing manner and his method of communicating by snorting and jingling the bells on his Burberry dog collar.

“He was pretty chill,” said his owner, John Comas. “He just sat around and did his thing — which is sitting around.”

But Mr. Comas, a 34-year-old financial adviser to wealthy clients, knows that even Bogie has his limits. He shakes at the sound of fire engines or when he isn’t petted, so it was unlikely that he would ace every interview.

On May 7, Mr. Comas and his fiancée, Monica Rivituso, are moving to a $7,000-a-month two-bedroom at 300 East 55th Street, which is less strict, dog-wise, than some comparable buildings.

Their new landlord is requiring Mr. Comas to include only Bogie’s age, breed and weight in the lease. While Mr. Comas found cheaper apartments that didn’t allow pets at all or pets over a certain size, he said it was worth paying $400 to $500 a month more in rent to give Bogie a comfortable home.

“If all things remained equal, I would pay more for the pet-friendly building,” he said as Bogie calmly chewed on a pig’s ear among moving boxes in the living room.

Mr. Comas is part of the universe of renters and buyers who are paying more money to find buildings that welcome dogs. Because of the strong sales market in Manhattan, co-op and condo boards have been able to be pickier in every way, demanding higher incomes from buyers and better manners from dogs.

Renters are having an ever-harder time because they are facing one of the tightest markets in seven years, and building managers are becoming stricter about pets, particularly dogs.

While the Miller Samuel appraisal company calculates that 93 percent of the apartments advertised for sale in Manhattan say they allow pets, brokers say that pet-friendly buildings have grown stricter. Increasingly, they limit dogs by their breed, weight and personality. They also make the “dog interview” a contingency for acceptance.

That means that sellers, if given a choice, will pick buyers without pets because they don’t want their sales to fall through. “Five or six years ago, nobody interviewed your dog,” said Michelle Kleier, the president of Gumley Haft Kleier, a Manhattan real estate brokerage and the owner of three Maltese dogs, named Lola, Roxy and Dolly. “Are they going to start interviewing babies next to see if they scream? People will pay up for a building that will allow pets.”

Ms. Kleier said she had spent more time in the last few years researching what buildings really mean when they say they are pet-friendly and preparing clients for pet interviews. She steers clients with dachshunds away from a small Upper East Side co-op that dislikes that particular breed, she said, and she advises buyers at a Central Park West co-op that they will have to present their dogs to the building’s board to confirm that if they have “small dog names” like Fifi or Gigi, they are in fact small dogs.

She said that a co-op on Lexington Avenue in the low 80s goes so far as to put a dog in an apartment and monitor how it responds to the ringing of the doorbell and various telephones.

In one of the most comprehensive interviews, she said, a Fifth Avenue co-op in the 90s conducts a test similar to a nursery school tryout. A prospective buyer’s dog is placed in a room with some of the other dogs that already live in the building. Co-op board members then watch how the new dog acts when a bowl of food is put in front of the group and how well the dog plays with other dogs when a ball is thrown.

“It’s not that they want to exclude dogs,” Ms. Kleier said. “They just want the right types of dogs that are congenial and have the right kind of personality.”

Like the broker who may encourage a buyer not to take a tranquilizer before a co-op board interview, Ms. Kleier encourages her clients to hire a trainer rather than medicating their dogs on interview day. She points out that even if a dog on tranquilizers gets through the interview, the owner could still be asked to get rid of it if it barks incessantly or is overly aggressive after moving in. “A temporary tranquilizer gives an artificial impression,” she said.

Brokers say that most buyers will pass up dream apartments before they will give up their pets. Barbara Fox, the president of the Fox Residential Group in Manhattan, spent two years trying to sell a Fifth Avenue penthouse in a building that didn’t allow pets.

The apartment had an offer within six weeks of hitting the market in early spring of 2004 for close to the asking price of $9.975 million. But the buyer had a dog, and the co-op board wouldn’t make an exception. The penthouse finally sold in November 2006 for $7.5 million after two price cuts, according to data from StreetEasy.com.

Based on her experiences with sales like this and her own purchasing experiences as a dog owner, Ms. Fox was recently hired as a consultant by another Fifth Avenue building, a co-op she would not name, that wanted to know how to raise its sales prices. She advised the building that it had to be far more welcoming of pet owners.

“Don’t tell them you have to get rid of your dogs,” she told the board. “It’s like telling them to get rid of your kid.”

That’s how Jessica Cohen feels about her “girls,” a golden retriever named Hailey and a golden retriever mix named Meagan. In February, Ms. Cohen, a 29-year-old Prudential Douglas Elliman broker, closed on a one-bedroom condop that she is now putting through a gut renovation. She said she made an offer on the spot because she felt so desperate to find a home for her dogs.

“I would have negotiated if I didn’t have dogs,” she said, but being a dog owner takes away a buyer’s leverage.

“I was willing to pay $50,000 more on a $650,000 apartment,” she said.

In 1999, Ms. Cohen bought a studio in a co-op building for $93,000. To ensure that the dogs were considerate neighbors, she spent more than $5,000 on trainers and $500 a month on a low-sodium diet — salmon, steamed chicken and vegetables — to keep the dogs calmer. In 2001, she got a letter from the board asking that she no longer use the building’s washing machines and dryers because dog hair might get on other residents’ laundry.

After searching for nearly two years, Ms. Cohen thought she had found a more pet-friendly co-op on Central Park West and went to contract on a $300,000 studio. When she submitted her board package, the seller asked her to say that she had just one dog and to sneak the other dog into the building after she had been approved. Ms. Cohen would not close on the deal because she feared that the building would not let the second dog in. “I said I was not willing to lie about my living situation or take a risk,” she said.

The seller, convinced that the co-op board would not accept two dogs, refunded Ms. Cohen’s $30,000 deposit and continued to search for a buyer.

Later in 2003, Ms. Cohen bought an Upper West Side condo, hoping that the residents would be more welcoming. But a year after she bought the $350,000 studio, the building imposed a “one dog” rule. The building’s management told Ms. Cohen she would be allowed to keep her two dogs because they had lived there before the rule was introduced.

When she temporarily took in a stray mutt and an ailing one-pound kitten, her condo board sent two letters complaining about the dog, and a board member knocked on her door to tell her that she needed permission to have a kitten. The kitten died within two weeks, and Ms. Cohen found a home for the stray within four months.

In 2005, she moved out of the apartment into a rental that allowed dogs. She sold the condo and started shopping for a more pet-friendly building.

“I felt very stressed out,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t have any rights to live my life.”

While Ms. Cohen was going through her own search, she watched a client who had no pets beat out dog owners on a deal even though he had offered $40,000 less than the highest bid for a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side.

While the co-op had a “no dogs” policy, the bidders and their brokers hoped that the small building would make exceptions. So a buyer with a golden retriever and a Yorkshire terrier offered $1.6 million and a bidder with a golden retriever offered the asking price of $1.595 million.

But in the end, the seller accepted Ms. Cohen’s client’s offer for $1.56 million. The sellers didn’t want to take the risk of having a buyer turned down by the co-op board; the sale closed on April 11.

“They didn’t want anything that was iffy,” said Philip Altland, the Prudential Douglas Elliman broker who represented the sellers.

Even buildings that allow dogs can be worrisome for buyers. About 18 months ago, Todd and Toni Finger made an offer of $875,000 on a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op at 115 East Ninth Street. The seller accepted the offer but wanted a clause in the contract saying that the couple would have to go through with the sale even if the co-op board rejected their 30-pound beagle, named Buster.

The Fingers offered about $10,000 more, but the seller wouldn’t budge. A few weeks later, a woman offered $875,000 and was approved by the board, according to the seller’s agent, Gayle Booth of Halstead Property.

Since then, the Fingers have been looking at condos, which tend to be more accepting of buyers with pets. Such dog-friendliness comes at a big price: condos can cost 20 to 30 percent more than co-ops.

But until the market softens and the gatekeepers become more lenient, people with less-than-perfect pets might consider using the time wisely.

In December, Joseph Olshefski, a Bellmarc Realty agent, helped a client find a studio for himself and his 26-pound black pug, named PorkChop, whose girth makes him look a bit like a baby seal. The renter had been turned down by 25 buildings, mainly on the Upper West Side, that said they were pet-friendly.

They were, but in limited ways. They allowed cats but not dogs, or agreed that owners could have pets, but renters could not, or they accepted dogs that weighed 20 pounds or less.

After a six-week search, the client rented an apartment farther uptown, and PorkChop started a diet. Mr. Olshefski said the experience has been good for PorkChop’s health — and would improve his vacations, because he was recently banished from the passenger cabin on a flight from Boston to New York.

“Put your pets on a diet,” he said. “A healthy pet is man’s best friend.”


:| And some folks wonder why I plan on living in a rural area? NOBODY questions pets in rural areas.(y) Most if not all people welcome pets - wherever I have made inquiries on properties. Actually, if there's ever a question in a less-than- rural area - offering a non-refundable "pet deposit" ALWAYS closed the deal. In other words, throw enough money at a landlord and she/hye is not going to take it? Right. ;) It always comes down to how much someone is willing to spend/take to seal the deal. :)


Carpe Diem - It's nice out there!

Sweetlady & wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:33 AM

Shari Billger, left, leads a tour group in a meditation session at a sacred site at Giza, Egypt:


Shari Billger, right, and Yoko Sasaki, a member of her spiritual tour group, in the desert near Giza, Egypt:


April 29, 2007

Touring the Spirit World


NO sound was heard in the burial chamber of the Great Pyramid as a tall, slender woman lay down in the pharaoh’s pitted granite sarcophagus, her flowing silver hair spreading beneath her. Her dozen or so companions in the dank room lifted their arms, palms upward, eyes closed in meditation.

As was prescribed in the training of priests in pharaonic Egypt, the woman had said, each member of the group had taken a turn in the sarcophagus; now she, their spiritual leader, occupied the space. Suddenly, her lips quivered, and a guttural moan escaped them, bouncing off the smooth stone walls and ceiling like an angry pinball. She climbed out of the sarcophagus, her face creased with determination, and formed the group into a circle, sitting cross-legged. In a deep voice, she read from the Emerald Tablets of Thoth, which she believes were translated from the ancient tongue of Atlantis.

The leader’s name is Shari Billger, and her home is near Colorado Springs. But on this January day, she was leading a group of Americans and Japanese who had come to the pyramids to connect with the unique spiritual energy that many Western visitors to Egypt believe they will find there.

Earlier, Ms. Billger had explained the group’s mission this way: When the advanced civilization of Atlantis fell more than 30,000 years ago, the accumulated knowledge of the ancients — sort of a spiritual Library of Congress — was placed on the site of the Great Pyramid. These modern travelers were there to make that wisdom accessible to all mankind. But to harness the energies required for this task, their spirits would temporarily have to leave their bodies.

Ms. Billger had everyone lie down. “When ye have released the self from the body, rise to the outermost bounds of your earth-plane,” she intoned, “and speak ye the word Dor-E-Lil-La.”

“Dor-E-Lil-La,” the bodies replied.

This was not a cult; the participants had met only two days before. They were in Egypt on a package tour.

New Age-style sacred travel, or metaphysical touring, is a growing branch of tourism, particularly in countries like Egypt with strong ancient-civilization pedigrees. Tourists with an adventuresome spiritual focus — predominantly middle-aged, upper middle class and female — come together to improve themselves and the world, as Ms. Billger’s group intended. Their ideas are best understood as an extreme on the continuum that includes yoga, tarot and astrology, and the rituals they perform at sites deemed sacred can vary widely.

“Other groups will be in there with bells and candles, jumping up and down like somebody’s going through their bodies,” Wael Khattab, this group’s Egyptian guide, commented as he observed their ritual from close by. “This is actually quite tame.”

More than a mere sales gimmick, spirituality tours are taken very seriously by their participants, who are commonly pantheistic, choosing to believe in truths of every religion rather than just one. They also invoke the whole panoply of New Age beliefs, finding power in crystals, aromatherapy and, of course, pyramids. They are home inspectors, copywriters and managers, but also mediums, psychics and shamans. Ms. Billger, who is 62, worked in sales for companies like Xerox and Honeywell before becoming a spiritual teacher and healer.

In Egypt, metaphysical tours are a thriving business, bringing in about 5,000 visitors a year, according to Mohammed Fayed, whose company, Guardian Travel, organized Ms. Billger’s tour. The price, usually a few thousand dollars per person, includes the expense of securing private time at the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx — sometimes thousands of dollars a group for an hour. Mr. Fayed’s business grew 45 percent from 2005 to 2006, and he expects another double-digit increase this year.

Even as Ms. Billger’s group had climbed the stairs to enter the Great Pyramid for their ceremony, the most important of their tour, they had passed two women not of their group standing at the base, eyes closed in meditation.

Other popular destinations also tend to be places of mystery. Sites built by ancient civilizations whose construction techniques are not settled fact — like Stonehenge and the perfectly fitting but mortarless walls of the Inca at Machu Picchu, as well as the pyramids — are embraced as evidence that those civilizations had mystical powers. Places with a Christian focus but an overlay of competing spiritual and religious claims — like the sites of the so-called Black Madonnas of France and Italy or the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, which took on mystical meaning in “The Da Vinci Code” — are also attractive to spiritual tourists.

“They know that whoever built them, built them on places that were already places of power on the earth — the acupuncture points on the earth’s body that hold powerful energies,” said Andrea Mikana-Pinkham, who lives in Sedona, Ariz., a place known for its own energy hot spots, and has led over 50 metaphysical tours since 1993. Body Mind Spirit Journeys, a company that she runs with her husband, Mark Amaru Pinkham, organizes about 25 tours a year to sites around the world. The couple are also the North American grand prior and prioress of the International Order of Gnostic Templars, a group that claims connection to the medieval Knights Templar.

Ms. Mikana-Pinkham, who is also friendly with many of the smaller tour operators — who like Ms. Billger run only a few trips a year — traces the birth of sacred travel as a business to the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, a widely publicized New Age event that supposedly corresponded with a great shift in the earth’s energy from warlike to peaceful. Many in the metaphysical community traveled to sacred sites around the world then for prayer, meditation and ceremonies.

Ms. Mikana-Pinkham herself attended only a meditation session near her home, but it led to “one of the peak spiritual experiences of my life,” she said. The theories behind the Harmonic Convergence state that in 2012 the world will make another great shift, and sacred travel has taken hold in the 25-year period between the two dates — a kind of global awakening, in her view.

To an outsider, spiritual tourists look like any others. They carry cameras, wear comfortable clothes and athletic shoes, travel in private buses and purchase souvenirs. Over time, though, the distinctions manifest themselves.

On Ms. Billger’s tour, Sandra Zimmer, 43, remarked how much she had enjoyed herself the last time she was in Egypt. But Ms. Zimmer had never been to Egypt before, at least not in her current body; she was referring to a memory from a past life.

As the group moved through its tour, the mundane often became magical. During the ritual in the Great Pyramid, a draft was occasionally felt, and the voices of the participants echoed and rebounded in every direction. Ms. Billger took a number of photos to commemorate the experience. Later, the group interpreted the breezes to be the presence of spirits, the multiple echoes the product of disembodied voices. And Ms. Billger’s pictures were full of bright circles of light, possibly lens flares or the refraction of her flash off the dust in the air, but she proudly displayed them to everyone as proof that “orb beings” had been present for their ceremony, inspiring and guiding them.

Some of the beliefs of spirituality tourists will strike nonbelievers as pseudo-science, like Ms. Billger’s claim that the cinnamon leaf oil sniffed by her group before entering the pyramid would make viruses and bacteria “completely unable to live in your bodies.” Others will sound more like mythology or the stuff of fantasy novels.

MR. KHATTAB, the guide, was apparently not exaggerating when he called Ms. Billger’s tour tame. He recalled a Dutch group — touring in the early ’90s, he said — whose members each incarnated as a different Egyptian deity each day. This extended to sleeping arrangements, so if one tourist was possessed by the god Osiris, and another by the goddess Isis, Osiris’s wife, those two tourists would spend the night together. The only problems Mr. Khattab had with this were logistical. “You had bills signed with ‘Seth’ and ‘Osiris’ and ‘Horus,’ ” he said. “You had to sort out which person was who on which day. It was a hassle.”

Still, Mr. Fayed, the Egyptian organizer of the tour, invites those who might be judgmental to take a longer view. “Look at the world nowadays, look at the number of wars in the world, look at the number of people who are being killed every single day,” he said. His tourists, he noted, are different: “They are trying to spread peace and love throughout the world.”

Because their beliefs and practices differ so from those of the average tourist, tour organizers are careful to keep the metaphysical tourists, who call themselves “awake,” separate from the regular tourists, whom they refer to as “asleep.” Ms. Billger requires prospective clients to fill out an application in which they agree to support “the group energy for the greatest good of all.”

Samone Myers, an event coordinator for Luminati Egyptian Travel, another sacred travel operator that runs tours to Egypt, knows firsthand the friction that arises when the two categories of tourist mix.

On a trip to Hawaii to swim with dolphins, which are a powerful draw for metaphysical tourists, the captain combined the “awake” tour group with an “asleep” group, she said. Each time they got in the water, the two groups would segregate themselves, choosing to swim on opposite sides of the boat. The dolphins, which she described as “in tune,” swam only near her group, Ms. Myers said. The other group was angry, but she and her friends found it amusing. “It was a great demonstration of how out of touch unconscious people are with themselves, others, animals,” she said.

Ms. Billger, who also organizes swimming-with-dolphins excursions in addition to Egypt trips, has been leading spirituality tours for eight years and spiritual workshops for 12. Living near Colorado Springs, she is based in a center of New Age culture. She wears clothing she knits herself, like her amazing technicolor sweater coat. She owns a llama named Hopi, whose wool she shears, spins and dyes for her knitting. When she first meets people she hugs them; she does not flinch when flies land on her; and staring in her eyes too long is apt to make her cry “from sheer beauty.”

She left her business career after having a conversation at a party 12 years ago with a man involved in spiritual practices. She hadn’t wanted to attend that party, she said; her guides, other-dimensional beings without physical bodies, had had to prod her. (A specific person’s guides depend on what dimension they belong to, Ms. Billger said, and hers are from the 17th dimension. “They call themselves the Choir, and they swirl in circles of color,” she said. “They can do amazing things.”)

But she does not regret the time she spent in the corporate world. “I’m not airy-fairy,” she said. “In the business world, I can talk that lingo, too. I feel that I have a really good balance of left brain and right brain.”

Traveling with her group in Egypt, I concluded that spirituality tourists feel more in control of the normal hassles of traveling than other tourists. When hawkers at the pyramids bothered Claudia Plattner, 60, a bank operations supervisor and psychic channel with spiky blonde hair and large glasses, she gave them mixed-berry granola bars, which confused them enough so that they left her alone. When I complained of back pain, Ms. Billger, who also practices spiritual healing, meditated over the injury to realign my energy (alas, no luck).

Even with Cairo’s throw-up-your-hands traffic jams the day before the pyramids ritual, they took a proactive approach.

Their bus was halted for 20 minutes, mere blocks from the hotel where they were headed, next to a wrought-iron gate overhung with blood-red bougainvillea. All around, the idling vehicles choked the air with exhaust, and a fusillade of frustrated beeps and honks pelted the bus from every direction. But inside, in comfortable seats and behind shaded windows, the group was blissfully unaware, discussing the day to come.

They finally noticed their predicament. At Ms. Billger’s suggestion, they began to direct their energy to clear a path in the traffic — some meditating with eyes closed, others staring intently ahead. After three or four minutes of quiet focus, the traffic began to move. Ms. Billger looked up triumphantly. “Let’s just give it a little extra oomph here,” she called out, eyeing their approaching hotel. She giggled, a high-pitched tinkle that belied her years. “You guys are good!”

In the pyramid the next day, after returning to their bodies and completing the ritual in the burial chamber, they had gone down to the lower chambers to anchor the released energy, so that their work would not be wasted. The trip down was arduous: they first had to walk with bent backs through a crawl space, then carefully made their way down a set of steel stairs through a tall chamber with a peaked roof like converging staircases. Then came the hard part: backs and knees bent, hands on smooth wooden banisters, they stepped backward 200 feet down a steeply inclined passageway no more than four feet high and wide, stopping frequently to catch their breath.

When they reached the bottom, they met with a pleasant surprise: they would be allowed into the unfinished burial chamber, the lowest accessible point in the pyramid, which the pharaoh had abandoned in favor of the upper chamber. This was significant. In the ceremonies Ms. Billger had performed on two earlier trips to the Great Pyramid, she had never gotten so far down, and the closer they could bring the energy to the spiritual treasures below, the more accessible the wisdom of Atlantis would become to the rest of the world.

But the extra climb would be almost the length of a football field, in a corridor as steep and tight as the one they just emerged from, concluding with a stomach crawl for the last few feet. Ms. Zimmer, the woman who had been in Egypt in a previous life, is a larger person and her brow shone with the perspiration of the last climb. She craned her neck to see down the passageway, which had no discernible end.

“I’m just going to stay,” she announced as the others stooped to enter the corridor, “and anchor the energy from here.”


Here are some tour agencies that specialize in New Age-style spirituality tours and some of the tours planned for this season.

Body Mind Spirit Journeys (www.bodymindspiritjourneys.com; 800-231-9811):

In England, a Holy Grail Pilgrimage and Conference in Mystical Avalon, July 6 to 13; $3,220 a person double occupancy, not including airfare.

In Peru, an Incan Shamanic Journey, June 14 to 19; $2,999 a person double occupancy, not including airfare, with an extension from June 19 to 22 to Lake Titicaca to celebrate the solstice for an additional $699.

Luminati Travel (www.luminati.net, 888-488-1151) is trying to gather hundreds of travelers to circle the Great Pyramid “with unconditional love in their hearts” on Sept. 9 as part of the Circle the Pyramid Event and Global Peace Conference, Sept. 5 to 11; $1,800 a person for the tour, not including airfare or most meals.

Guardian Travel, with offices in Virginia Beach and Cairo (www.guardiantravel.net; 757-422-5568), is helping organize these tours:

Ancient Egypt, Awakening the Initiate Within, Oct. 28 to Nov. 10; $4,795 a person, all inclusive. Conducted with A.R.E. Travel, www.edgarcayce.org/tours.

Grand Sextile Tour, Return to the Nile, Oct. 21 to Nov. 2; $4,440 a person, all inclusive. Conducted with Queen of Cups Inc., www.queenofcups.com.


(y) (y) Sounds like a great new business to invest in - there are countless folks with the means as well as the time to go on these retreats. (I know, I know - those pesky Boomers with all of that descretionary income to spend on right-brain, travel and learning opportunities....;) ;)



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:35 AM
:| :|

The 17th Karmapa Lama with a group of newly initiated monks.


April 29, 2007

21st-Century Religious Travel: Leave the Sackcloth at Home


IT’S not often you meet a god. But on a pouring day last summer in Dharamsala, home to the Tibetan exile community in India, I did. In a monastery outside town, I was shown into a vast, bare room. At the front sat the 17th Karmapa Lama, third-ranking leader in Tibetan Buddhism — a figure considered almost a god by many Tibetans. The Karmapa fled Tibet when he was a boy, but in exile he had become a man, in his early 20s, with a broad, shaved head and meaty arms beneath his flowing monk’s robes.

For nearly an hour, I questioned the Karmapa about Buddhism, world politics, his own life. Sometimes, he would answer as I imagined a monk should, gazing into the distance and delivering oblique replies. Sometimes, he would answer like a boy asked a school question he does not know, scrunching up his face as he scrambled for a reply. In either case, the Karmapa answered like a figure who knows an entire people follow his every word.

The Karmapa finally left, draping a traditional white scarf on my shoulders; I walked out feeling I might never have such an unusual experience. But when I descended from the Karmapa’s quarters, I realized my audience had not been so unique. Buddhist travelers from Hong Kong and Taiwan waited outside to see the Karmapa. His assistants lugged through the monastery bags full of the visitors’ offerings, which, bizarrely, included enough vials of multivitamins to stock a health food store. (Maybe he was lifting weights back in his private quarters.)

Not that I should have been surprised. While religious-oriented travel has been around since the first pilgrimages, in recent years it has developed into a much larger and more segmented market, with niches ranging from high-end religious travel to volunteer-oriented religious travel to modern-day pilgrimages like a visit to the Karmapa.

Kevin Wright, executive director of the World Religious Travel Association, a trade group set up this year to help organize the faith-based market, says there is an increase in “the overall demand for religious travel by people of faith,” which, in turn, has brought growth to companies serving this market. Next year, Mr. Wright’s group will be host of the first World Religious Travel Expo.

In fact, a study released in November by the Travel Industry Association revealed that a quarter of travelers said they would be interested in taking a spirituality-oriented vacation. Today, the global religious travel market has reportedly become an $18 billion-a-year industry.

Travel experts credit several factors for this upsurge. Offering travel programs allows churches and other institutions a competitive advantage in the search for constituents. Many younger religious travelers want a vacation that combines faith with fun, and churches recognize a need for an active religious vacation. Nations with critical religious sites, like Scotland, home to some of the fathers of the Reformation, have begun to brand themselves to faith-oriented tourists.

Also, major travel companies have gotten into the action, which brings more publicity to the field. Globus, a giant European travel firm, has opened a religious-travel section, which runs trips ranging from vacations that explore the Christian theology of C. S. Lewis to excursions following the Polish heritage of Pope John Paul II.

As the religious travel market has boomed, it also has broken into niches. Once, religious-oriented travel meant either trips to historic sites, like Jerusalem or Mecca, or volunteer vacations to help needy people in developing nations. But in recent years, religious travelers have expanded their vacation options, though traditional trips like an Israel tour or volunteering with a group like American Jewish World Service remain popular.

“In the past five to 10 years, the religious market has transitioned from a ‘poverty/penitential travel mentality’ to a first-class travel mentality,” said Mr. Wright. “The religious market now pays for first-class travel products and services. This is a major departure from several millennia of religious travel tradition.”

Tour operators and religious-oriented travel agents are realizing religious travelers do not necessarily need sackcloth and ashes. Royal Caribbean now allows Christian travel operators to run specialty cruises on its ships, like Cruise with a Cause, a Christian cruise to the Bahamas featuring Christian pop stars like Matthew West and opportunities to land ashore for mission work. Holland America has done the same, allowing operators to run cruises to Alaska on its vessels featuring Christian naturalists, gospel singers and a religious bookstore where the on-board casino normally is.

In the most notable example of high-end faith travel, this year, the ultra-luxury operator TCS Expeditions offered a $45,000 tour around the world called Great Faiths. On the trip, tourists were to take in the greatest religious sites in the world, from Varanasi’s sacred waters to Ethiopia’s subterranean churches — all on one excursion. They also planned to hop from site to site in private jets and spend evenings at luxurious hotels, from the King David in Jerusalem to the Oberoi in Delhi.

Other religious travelers, including church groups, have recognized that spiritual healing fits naturally with physical healing, or with active pursuits like skiing or hiking. Recognizing this, luxury spas in countries like India and Thailand have begun offering Buddhism-related packages for travelers coming for more prosaic services like massage.

The religious travel boom also means it is easier for tourists to research their trips and find a vacation suited to their exact needs. In the religious-travel section of the comprehensive site flyertalk.com, travelers now trade tips on the best places to find kosher food in China and opinions on the best religious festivals to visit in the world. Www.christian-travelers-guides.com lists links to guidebooks and many other Web sites. The World Religious Travel Association Directory (on the Web at www.religioustravelassociation.com) offers links to tour operators around the world.

Or, you could take the traditional approach: Wander foreign lands until you find a site that seems holy to you. On one of my last days in Dharamsala, I attended Friday night services at the local synagogue. Standing outside, under the cover of a tarpaulin roof, rows of men in yarmulkes and women in traditional long Indian skirts rocked back and forth as they chanted joyous hymns welcoming the Jewish Sabbath.

Later, after services, we all walked upstairs to a communal room, where we sat in rows on the floor, breaking off tiny pieces of challah and dipping them into communal bowls of hummus and salad. Across from me, a young Israeli traveler eagerly tore into his bread. “I just got out of the army — I’ve been here a few weeks,” he said. “I could stay here for months. I don’t even need to do anything here. Just be here.”


:) Ohm. Ohm.

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:37 AM
:) :)

Click to navigate to a city.


April 22, 2007

Affordable Europe: City Guides

Yes, the euro remains strong, but you don't have to max out your credit card to indulge in some of Europe's timeless luxuries. From stylish hotels that won't break the bank, to offbeat boutiques favored by local bargain hunters, the correspondents and contributors of The New York Times offer money-saving tips for visiting 15 major European cities. You can also read suggestions from other Times' readers and share your own tips on visiting Europe affordably.


(y) (y)

Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:39 AM
(f) (f) (f)

While modernity certainly intrudes, somehow or other, this Lithuanian city, despite its many recent changes, often has the feel of an old-world diorama sprung to life.



April 29, 2007

Next Stop | Vilnius, Lithuania

After a Dark Era, a City Looks West and Sees a Future


MAYBE it is the cobblestone byways that meander through Vilnius and appear more suited for horses than horsepower. Perhaps it is the unexpectedly historic architecture or the hulking castles that whisper of medieval derring-do. While modernity certainly intrudes — it would not be a European capital without its Prada and Ermenegildo Zegna stores, now would it? — somehow or other, this Lithuanian city, despite its many recent changes, often has the feel of an old-world diorama sprung to life.

Lithuania may seem little more than a crossword puzzle answer, one of the many nations that came back to life after the collapse of Communism, but like its Baltic siblings, Latvia and Estonia, it has turned its gaze and ambitions westward, and its back to Moscow. In Vilnius, you’ll find an easygoing, appealing and less expensive alternative to Paris or Prague.

Restaurants and museums proliferate in this city of 550,000, and well-established hotel chains, not to mention stylish boutique hotels, have staked their claims in recent years. Ramada and Novotel have opened in the city center, and Kempinski will soon as well. Le Meridien, a high-end hotel and conference center on the city’s outskirts, even has a golf school. At many hotels, Wi-Fi and other high-tech staples are a given.

On the streets, it is readily apparent that young people, who have little if any memories of Soviet domination, have embraced Western European mores, hence all those fashion shops. English has replaced Russian as the second language of public life, after Lithuanian.

In whatever language, people are welcoming. On a recent visit, my wife, Julie Dressner, and I chatted our way from peddler to peddler on Pilies Street in the heart of the old city. Many were selling jewelry and other items made from amber. We ended up buying a handsome fruit bowl hawked by a craftsman from an outlying village who had carved it from birch.

In the Old Town, it is not difficult to get lost among the crazy-quilt streets, and you may be thankful that you do, especially when you alight at places like St. Anne’s Church, as curious and enthralling a Gothic edifice as you will find. Go ahead, squint. The facade truly is made of exposed bricks of numerous shapes, even the spires, as if someone turned loose a master builder with a masonry Lego set.

All over Vilnius, night life is lively and unpretentious. At a D.J. bar in the Old Town called Tipo Zoro, where a cozy section in the back is furnished with vinyl bucket seats apparently yanked from old vans, a table of Lithuanians invited Julie to join them while she waited for the bathroom. Similarly cheerful residents lingered in groups in front of many spots, and were eager to strike up conversations with foreigners.

Like the nation itself, food culture has blossomed, and you can sample everything from Greek to Chinese. In search of local fare, we ended up at Forto Dvaras, a restaurant that is a bit of a Lithuanian culinary theme park. Rustic furniture, staff in national costumes and a menu laden with blini, pancakes and giant dumplings called zeppelin (my 9-year-old daughter, Danya, has something of a sour cream addiction, and she was not disappointed). California spa cuisine, it is not. But portions were tasty and sizable, and the bill for six for lunch was only the equivalent of $35.

The contemporary art scene has also taken off. The city recently established an avant-garde visual arts center named after the Lithuanian-American filmmaker and counterculture icon Jonas Mekas, a fellow traveler of Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg. The roster of private galleries seems to grow every month, taking advantage of a robust economy and a rich artistic history.

One morning, we showed up at the doorstep of a 15th-century Gothic building on town hall square that is the home of an esteemed Lithuanian painter, Kazys Varnelis. The building is also a museum, and though we didn’t have an appointment, the soft-spoken, long-haired young curator, Vidas Poskus, was soon giving us a free private tour of Mr. Varnelis’s sprawling, eclectic collection. It includes antique books and maps of Eastern Europe and elsewhere, Renaissance furniture, illustrations, paintings and sculpture.

Then there are Mr. Varnelis’s own creations, which often use geometric patterns to create optical illusions, and are sometimes described as a modernist interpretation of Lithuanian folk art. My three children found his work — which is also in the Guggenheim in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and other museums — transfixing.

Like some of his compatriots, Mr. Varnelis, 90, went into exile in the United States after World War II and returned to Lithuania only in the 1990s. “He wanted to come back for emotional reasons — homesickness and patriotism,” Mr. Poskus told us. “It was important for him to donate his collection to his people.”

If Mr. Varnelis symbolizes the revival here, shards of the nation’s mournful past exist as well, and it is worth acknowledging them. At the National Museum, a grim current exhibit describes the exiling of Lithuanians to Siberian gulags and other repressive measures carried out by Stalin and his successors after Moscow invaded and turned independent Lithuania into a vassal Soviet republic. Not far away is the Museum of Genocide Victims, known as the K.G.B. museum, in a former prison where the Soviet secret police once imprisoned, tortured and killed Lithuanian nationalists, dissidents and others. The cells are intact, and you can walk them.

A century ago, Julie’s great-grandfather emigrated to New York from the Jewish quarter of Vilnius, at the time one of the world’s most vibrant Jewish communities, later decimated by the Nazis. He recalled in unpublished memoirs that after he arrived in Vilnius on his own as a teenager to attend yeshiva, the sense of kinship among Jews was so deep that an informal network made sure he and other poor students did not go hungry. “Every night, those who could afford to invited a boy to his home,” he wrote.

Before our trip, we read his memoirs, and we wondered: was anything left?

So we wandered the site of the former Jewish quarter, spotting only a few instances of Jewish stars and Hebrew writing chiseled into buildings, then feeling a little more hopeful when we reached the restored synagogue on Pylimo Street, one of the few Jewish institutions to survive the war.

After visiting the city’s Holocaust museum, in a small green cottage set back from a main road, and viewing maps and photographs of the two ghettos where Jews were detained, we realized how little the footprint of the city had changed. In some places, what now look like quaint gates were once covered with barbed wire.

Relying extensively on witness testimony and original documents, the museum offers a timeline of the Jewish community’s ascent and destruction in Vilnius. Larger Holocaust museums may present comparable exhibits, but to gaze upon them here, after walking those very same streets, is especially affecting.

While we tried to shield our children from some of the more graphic museum exhibits on Nazi and Soviet atrocities, plenty in Vilnius engaged them. One afternoon we hiked up a cobblestone path to the Higher Castle Museum. First constructed in the 13th century, the castle offers lovely views of the city from its open-air roof, as well as exhibits of medieval weaponry. (If you don’t want to walk up the hill, you can ride a funicular.)

Another walk brought us to the Gates of Dawn, a bulwark that blocks a narrow road. Once part of the city’s original fortifications, it was later transformed into a small chapel containing a venerated icon that has long drawn pilgrims, including Pope John Paul II. On Cathedral Square, the city’s main cathedral, which has several chapels and bell towers, is another prominent attraction.

In fact, the Old Town has an alluring mishmash of architecture — from Gothic to neo-Classical and more — and locals say Vilnius has one of the world’s largest assortments of Baroque buildings. Whatever the style, the place sure is nice to gaze upon, whether you are lugging around an architectural tome or, as we did, simply enjoying going astray among the narrow streets.



Travelers from North America typically have to make a stop in Europe to reach Vilnius. Air Baltic (www.airbaltic.com) often has some of the cheapest fares, as low as 150 euros round trip to Vilnius from major cities in Europe.


Although Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the currency used is generally the lita. Hotel prices, however, are often quoted in euros.

Mabre Residence Hotel, 13 Maironio Street; (370-5) 212-2087; www.mabre.lt. On the outskirts of the old city, it is in a restored former monastery and has a private sauna with a small pool that you can rent to give yourself a true Eastern European experience. Rooms from 120 euros ($165.60 at $1.38 to the euro).

Shakespeare Boutique Hotel, 8/8 Bernardinu Street; (370-5) 266-5885; www.shakespeare.lt. Another quaint hotel in the old city, with rooms whose designs and decorations are inspired by you-know-who. Rates from 105 euros.

Ramada Vilnius, 2 Subaciaus Street, (370-5) 255-3355; www.ramadavilnius.lt and Novotel, 16 Gedimino Avenue, (370-5) 266-6200, are two new luxury hotels in the city center. Rates start at around 100 euros.


Forto Dvaras, 16 Pilies Street, (370-5) 261-1070; www.fortodvaras.lt. Typical Lithuanian food, heavy on the quaint atmosphere and sour cream, light on the wallet. Dinner for two is about 70 litas ($27 at 2.6 litas to the dollar).

Kazys Varnelis House Museum, 26 Didzioji Street, (370-5) 279-1644. Works painted and collected by the artist Kazys Varnelis, viewable by appointment only. Admission is free.

Admission to the following museums is 8 litas or less, depending on age and student status.

Higher Castle Museum, 5 Arsenalo Street; (370-5) 261-7453. Views of the city, along with military exhibits.

Holocaust Museum, 12 Pamenkalnio Street; (370-5) 262-0730. A small, deeply affecting museum on the massacre of the nation’s Jews.

Museum of Genocide Victims, 2A Auku Street; (370-5) 266-3282; http://www.genocid.lt/muziejus/en/. A history of Communist oppression.

National Museum, 1 Arsenalo Street; (370-5) 262-9426; www.lnm.lt. An overview of Lithuanian culture and art.


(l) (l) (l) (l) Okay, whose ready to take a trip? :)

Uśmiech (uśmiechać się). Wy jesteście na szczerej kamerze!

( Smile. You are on candid camera! )

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:41 AM

April 29, 2007

Weekend in New York | Speakeasies

Tell Them Seth Sent You


ON April 4, 1929, nine parched years into Prohibition, New York City's police commissioner, Grover Aloysius Whalen, told a crowd at the Rotary Club in Manhattan that there were a whopping 32,000 speakeasies peddling forbidden hooch in New York City.

That was one for about every 215 New Yorkers (including children), and those were just the ones the police had documented. Ten days later, The New York Times called speakeasies — which it also called “resorts” — “one of the outstanding social institutions of New York.”

In case you couldn't tell, Prohibition never really caught on here.

Want to spend a weekend visiting the sites of former speakeasies? It's not hard, given the sheer number. The building housing the grilled-cheese purveyor Say Cheese in Hell's Kitchen? Check. The parking lot at 100 Bayard Street in Chinatown? Check. But you want the ones that are still slinging the sauce to this day.

Though the expensive (and jacket-required) “21” Club may be the most famous, what with its secret wine cellar and storied clientele and all, the award for coolest history goes to Onieal's Grand Street, whose predecessor was connected by a secret tunnel to the old Police Headquarters across the street. The tunnel was filled in (they say), but the cellar's stone walls and the barroom's carved-wood ceiling — said to have been imported from Venice in 1875 — has been left alone. (More recent history: Onieal's was the location for Scout Bar on “Sex in the City.”)

Fanelli Cafe in SoHo still has its pressed-tin ceiling, old hanging light fixtures and the Neolithic neon sign that makes the place seem like a diner, not a bar and restaurant. (That was probably not an accident: serving drinks in teacups was a popular tactic in the time of temperance.) The walls are decorated with black-and-white photos of scrawny and venerable pugilists and liquor licenses that date to 1879. Behind the bar, the pantry doors lead to what was a hush-hush back room; the bartenders use it these days to count their tips.

Normally, you shouldn't do a speakeasy tour without visiting Chumley's, a beer-drinking, burger-eating place with a literary history (John Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald were customers). It maintains its 1920s anonymity in part because it doesn't have a sign, and in part because it's buried in the labyrinth of confusing West Village streets. But part of a wall collapsed on April 5, and rebuilding is going on. The manager, Gina Ruiz, said that it is expected to reopen by June 1.

Midtown had a heck of a lot of speakeasies back when, and flipping through the newspapers of the day, you'd have noticed a marketing nightmare: people were always showing up dead in them. That is no longer a problem. But since most of Midtown has been rebuilt over the decades, finding a former speakeasy could be.

Here's one: Flute Bar in Midtown sits in the former underground home of the Club Intyme, run by the well-known nightclub hostess Texas Guinan. The place doesn't quite have the same charm as in those days, when Tex popularized the phrase “Hello, sucker.” (One time, when asked in court, she defined sucker as “pal.”) Though Flute Bar's attempts to dress itself up are a bit off — those empty Champagne bottles lining the ceiling edge toward dorm-room chic — it does have a great Champagne list and a lot of history.

If you really want to go back in time, try Bill's Gay Nineties. Though it doesn't actively hide its location, it is still, in a way, a latter-day speakeasy, not listed in some of the major dining and nightlife guides (not Zagat, not Time Out, not Shecky's).

But lots of people know about the place, which you might call “retro retro.” It opened during Prohibition as a tribute to the 1890s, which, in those days, must have seemed gloriously boozy. Through the ancient swinging doors, and past your gracious, storytelling host, Aldo Leone (the 83-year-old nephew of Mama Leone), is the cozy Silver Dollar Bar. It's open very night except Sunday. On weekends starting at 8:30 p.m., a piano player rouses the sometimes startlingly raucous crowd with sing-along tunes that on a recent night ranged from “Don't Cry for Me Argentina” to the Prohibition-era “Carolina in the Morning.”

The walls are thick with photos, including those of athletes of yore (boxers from the 1890s) and getting-toward-yore (Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens in Red Sox uniforms — wrong '90s). There are a dining room upstairs and a private party room up from that, but the action is in the bar, where the full menu (try the crab cakes) is served, too.

One person who probably did not patronize the place was William M. Bennett, who in 1929 ran in the Republican mayoral primary as a dry candidate. One of his campaign promises was that he would close a speakeasy that sat “in the shadow of Police Headquarters” — very possibly Onieal's predecessor — along with what he estimated were 100,000 speakeasies in the city.

His threat did not go over well. He lost the nomination to a wet candidate named Fiorello H. La Guardia, 62,894 to 17,100. Which might explain why your flight to New York will not be landing in Bennett Airport, and why you can have a drink at the bar upon arrival.



Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:42 AM
;) ;)

Say Cheese

There are cows, villages and restaurants to visit on the way to finding the perfect tartiflette in the Haute-Savoie region of France.


(y) (y)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:44 AM
(f) (f)

April 29, 2007

Journeys | France

Searching the Alps for Haute Comfort Food


THE first thing to do with a tartiflette is to ease your fork through the crust of cheese. If the casserole is done right, that cut will release a whiff of milky steam infused with a suggestion of onion and garlic.

The best moment, though, comes with a perfectly proportioned forkful. A chunk of cream-soaked potato and a smoky bit of lardon will be married with a smooth coat of reblochon — cheese made from the milk of one of three breeds of French cows that march to Alps meadows in the spring and return to hay-filled barns in the winter.

The tartiflette is perhaps the most comforting dish in all of France's Haute-Savoie, and it's what led me to take a three-day tour of small villages in the region in search of what I imagined as a perfect tartiflette. The dish has the tang and satisfaction of macaroni and cheese baked until it forms a chewy crust, the pure pleasure derived from a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes and a flavor that could only come from 500 years spent perfecting cheesemaking.

I was in Annecy, the capital of the region, with my partner, Katia, visiting her cousin Nora in October. Lunch the first day was at Marc Veyrat's three-star Michelin country French temple, and as we worked our way through 15 refined courses (it now costs 338 euros, or about $465 each, at $1.38 to the euro), Nora described the best tartiflette she had ever eaten. It was made by Mr. Veyrat himself, for a little side operation he had back in the early 1990s.

“I can remember nothing else of that restaurant but the tartiflette,” she told us. That's the effect a good tartiflette can have.

The trick is the reblochon, which is sliced over the top before the dish is baked. Reblochon is a soft, washed-rind round cheese about as thick as a paperback copy of “Candide.” A good one has tang and aroma and a slightly salty quality. The bad are as bland and rubbery as cheap brie.

At its best when the cows are eating nothing but Alpine grass, the cheese got its name from 16th-century farmers who were sick of the tax on their milk. They'd milk their cows until they were about halfway done, pay the tax on that bounty and then finish the job.

They had to do something with the remaining milk to avoid charges of tax evasion. So they made cheese, the name of which comes from the word reblocher, which means to milk again. (Some tie the name to the slang term “reblessa,” which in the local dialect basically means to steal.)

To make tartiflette, the whole cheese is sliced in half horizontally and turned cut side down before the dish goes in the oven. The idea is to turn the soft, brushed rind into a crispy crust as the inside of the cheese melts into the cream and coats the potatoes.

For a road-weary traveler looking for a regional dish, tartiflette is inexpensive and accessible. No one can argue with the instant comfort that comes from a bubbling hot dish of cheese, bacon and potatoes.

In dozens of villages around Lake Annecy, people make and sell reblochon. Similarly, the region is crazy for tartiflette. It is a staple on the menus in the small city of Annecy, considered one of the oldest settlements in the Alps.

Bad tartiflette is easy to find. The tourist-driven cafes near the medieval prison in the heart of the historic quarter of Annecy all offer versions with a small salad and sometimes a small plate of charcuterie. I ate enough bad tartiflette that halfway through my search, I threw myself across my bed like fat Elvis.

Things started looking up at Le Fréti, in the pedestrian-only section near the old prison. It had a terrific cheese cellar and three small rooms filled with the smoky smell that comes when half-moons of raclette melt in front of long electric burners.

Local fruity white wine or warm tea is the thing to drink with all the cheese dishes in the Haute-Savoie; otherwise, Nora warned, “you end up with a cheese stone in your stomach.”

We ordered some of both, and I paid about 11 euros for a bubbling tartiflette. The dish was capped with a couple of crusty bits of cheese and had fatty strips of lardon.

It was good, but I felt vaguely disappointed. This wasn't the tartiflette that the food-obsessed argue over on culinary blogs. True, it was an improvement over my grandmother's scalloped potatoes, but I knew there had to be something better.

The next day, we headed to the village of Menthon-St.-Bernard to eat tartiflette with the cows. Not literally, but pretty close.

The owners of Ferme de la Charbonnière take the idea of farmstead dining to an extreme. Want to know where all the cheese on your table came from? Just glance through the plexiglass down to the barn below, where some of the herd is most likely being milked.

The restaurant smells like a mix of broiling cheese and barnyard. An evening sitting on wooden benches and watching the cows brings the notion of terroir to a new level.

There, a tartiflette must be ordered in advance. If you don't call ahead, you can make do with a kind of do-it-yourself tartiflette called “reblochonnade.” Grumpy-looking women haul little charcoal broilers that look like toy ovens to your table, along with reblochon split into two rounds and placed on little skillets. The customer shoves the cheese under the broiler until it melts, then pours it over a boiled potato and adds some slices of soft, dense air-cured ham.

But the dish, like its sister tartiflette, suffered from cheese that was almost as bland as American Muenster.

At this point, I thought perhaps I had been wrong about the tartiflette. I was at the epicenter of tartiflette cooking, and I couldn't find a good one. Perhaps, as I had been warned, tartiflette was nothing more than a marketing ploy invented by the makers of reblochon to sell more cheese.

Then I headed up the mountain toward Montmin, a place that is not much more than a collection of small buildings, some cows and a little ski area for kids. I parked and took a short, steep hike to Col de la Forclaz, mesmerized by the view of blue Lake Annecy far below the mountain pass.

I continued through a clearing and saw a soft asphalt ramp on the edge of the mountain. A driveway to nowhere. Men and women were strapping themselves into what looked like tricked-out baby car seats and running down the ramp, parachuting to the fields far below.

An hour of watching that can make a girl hungry. Besides, the sun was going down and it was getting cold. So I hiked back to a small restaurant, Châlet la Pricaz, a gathering spot in Montmin. The owners have 50 head of Tarine cows, and make their reblochon not far from their restaurant.

Two old French women were the only other customers on that cold Sunday night. I decided to take one more shot.

“Une tartiflette, s'il vous plaît.”

Finally, it came. A brown crockery oval covered in cheese that a hot oven had transformed into a crispy lace crust. The reblochon had character and tang, and had melted into the cream just so, marrying the potatoes and bacon. I had found tartiflette nirvana, with a side of charcuterie.

I paid my 13 euros, said goodbye to the women, and drove back down the mountain. But after three days of almost nothing but cheese and potatoes, I kind of wished I'd hiked.


Le Fréti, 12, rue Ste. Claire, Annecy; (33-4) 50-51-29-52; www.le-freti.com. Open for dinner every day and for lunch on Sundays and public holidays. The tartiflette costs 11.10 euros, about $15.50 at $1.38 to the euro.

Ferme de la Charbonnière, Route de Thônes, Menthon-St.-Bernard; (33-4) 50-02-82-59. Open all year for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday. A meal of charcuterie, tartiflette, salad, cheese and coffee is 17 euros.

Châlet la Pricaz, Col de la Forclaz, Montmin; (33-4) 50-60-72-61; e-mail: lapricaz@fnac.net. Open every day in summer; closes Thursdays in April and May and Wednesday and Thursday from October through March. Tartiflette, 17 euros.


(f) (f)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:45 AM
(y) (y) (y) (y)

April 27, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Gilded Once More


One of the distinctive features of the modern American right has been nostalgia for the late 19th century, with its minimal taxation, absence of regulation and reliance on faith-based charity rather than government social programs. Conservatives from Milton Friedman to Grover Norquist have portrayed the Gilded Age as a golden age, dismissing talk of the era’s injustice and cruelty as a left-wing myth.

Well, in at least one respect, everything old is new again. Income inequality — which began rising at the same time that modern conservatism began gaining political power — is now fully back to Gilded Age levels.

Consider a head-to-head comparison. We know what John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in Gilded Age America, made in 1894, because in 1895 he had to pay income taxes. (The next year, the Supreme Court declared the income tax unconstitutional.) His return declared an income of $1.25 million, almost 7,000 times the average per capita income in the United States at the time.

But that makes him a mere piker by modern standards. Last year, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, James Simons, a hedge fund manager, took home $1.7 billion, more than 38,000 times the average income. Two other hedge fund managers also made more than $1 billion, and the top 25 combined made $14 billion.

How much is $14 billion? It’s more than it would cost to provide health care for a year to eight million children — the number of children in America who, unlike children in any other advanced country, don’t have health insurance.

The hedge fund billionaires are simply extreme examples of a much bigger phenomenon: every available measure of income concentration shows that we’ve gone back to levels of inequality not seen since the 1920s.

The New Gilded Age doesn’t feel quite as harsh and unjust as the old Gilded Age — not yet, anyway. But that’s because the effects of inequality are still moderated by progressive income taxes, which fall more heavily on the rich than on the middle class; by estate taxation, which limits the inheritance of great wealth; and by social insurance programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which provide a safety net for the less fortunate.

You might have thought that in the face of growing inequality, there would have been a move to reinforce these moderating institutions — to raise taxes on the rich and use the money to strengthen the safety net. That’s why comparing the incomes of hedge fund managers with the cost of children’s health care isn’t an idle exercise: there’s a real trade-off involved. But for the past three decades, such trade-offs have been consistently settled in favor of the haves and have-mores.

Taxation has become much less progressive: according to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, average tax rates on the richest 0.01 percent of Americans have been cut in half since 1970, while taxes on the middle class have risen. In particular, the unearned income of the wealthy — dividends and capital gains — is now taxed at a lower rate than the earned income of most middle-class families.

Those hedge fund titans, by the way, have an especially sweet deal: loopholes in the law let them use their own businesses as, in effect, unlimited 401(k)s, sheltering their earnings and accumulating tax-free capital gains.

Meanwhile, the tax-cut bill Congress passed in 2001 set in motion a complete phaseout of the estate tax. If the Bush administration hadn’t been too clever by half, hiding the true cost of its tax cuts by making the whole package expire at the end of 2010, we’d be well on our way toward becoming a dynastic society.

And as for the social insurance programs —— well, in 2005 the Bush administration tried to privatize Social Security. If it had succeeded, Medicare would have been next.

Of course, the administration’s attempt to undo Social Security was a notable failure. The public, it seems, isn’t eager to return to the days before the New Deal. And the G.O.P.’s defeat in the midterm election has put on hold other plans to restore the good old days.

But it’s much too soon to declare the march toward a New Gilded Age over. If history is any guide, one of these days we’ll see the emergence of a New Progressive Era, maybe even a New New Deal. But it may be a long wait.

(y) (y) As always, Krugman does it again!

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-28-2007, 07:47 AM

April 27, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

China Needs an Einstein. So Do We.


I’ve been thinking about China as I read Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Albert Einstein. China isn’t even mentioned in the book — “Einstein: His Life and Universe” — but Mr. Isaacson’s stimulating and provocative retelling of Einstein’s career plays into two very hot debates about China.

First, what does Einstein’s life tell us about the relationship between freedom and creativity? Or to put it bluntly: Can China become as innovative as America, can it dominate the 21st century, as many predict, when China censors Google and maintains tight political controls while establishing its market economy?

Second, how do we compete with China, no matter how free we are, when so many of China’s young people are studying math and science and so many of ours are dropping out? Or to put it more bluntly: If Einstein were alive today and learned science the boring way it is taught in so many U.S. schools, wouldn’t he have ended up at a Wall Street hedge fund rather than developing theories of relativity for a Nobel Prize?

Mr. Isaacson’s take on Einstein’s life is that it is a testimony to the unbreakable link between human freedom and creativity.

“The whole theme of the last century, and of Einstein’s life,” Mr. Isaacson said in an interview, “is about people who fled oppression in order to go places to think and express themselves. Einstein runs away from the rote learning and authoritarianism of Germany as a teenager in the 1890s and goes to Italy and Switzerland. And then he flees Hitler to come to America, where he resists both McCarthyism and Stalinism because he believes that the only way to have creativity and imagination is to nurture free thought — rebellious free thought.”

If you look at Einstein’s major theories — special relativity, general relativity and the quantum theory of light — “all three come from taking rebellious imaginative leaps that throw out old conventional wisdom,” Mr. Isaacson said. “Einstein thought that the freest society with the most rebellious thinking would be the most creative. If we are going to have any advantage over China, it is because we nurture rebellious, imaginative free thinkers, rather than try to control expression.”

My gut tells me that’s right, but my mind tells me not to ignore something Bill Gates said in China the other day: that putting PCs, education and the Internet in the hands of more and more Chinese is making China not only a huge software market, “but also a contributor to this market. Innovation here is really at a rapid pace.”

Will China hit a ceiling on innovation because of its political authoritarianism? That’s what we need to watch for.

In the meantime, we should heed another of Mr. Isaacson’s insights about Einstein: he found sheer beauty and creative joy in science and equations. If only we could convey that in the way we teach science and math, maybe we could nurture another Einstein — male or female — and not have to worry that so many engineers and scientists in our graduate schools are from China that the classes could be taught in Chinese.

“What Einstein was able to do was to think visually,” Mr. Isaacson explained. “When he looked at Maxwell’s equations as a 16-year-old boy, he visualized what it would be like to ride alongside a light wave and try to catch up. He realized those equations described something wondrous in reality.

“By being able to visualize and think imaginatively about science, he was able to see what more academic scientists failed to see, which is that as you try to catch up with a light beam, the waves travel just as fast, but time slows down for you. It was a leap that better-trained scientists could not make because they did not have the visual imagination.”

If we want our kids to learn science, we can’t treat science as this boring or intimidating thing. “We have to remind our kids ... that a math equation or a scientific formula is just a brush stroke the good Lord uses to paint one of the wonders of nature,” Mr. Isaacson said, “and we should look at it as being as beautiful as art or literature or music.”

My favorite Einstein quotation is that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” A society that restricts imagination is unlikely to produce many Einsteins — no matter how many educated people it has. But a society that does not stimulate imagination when it comes to science and math won’t either — no matter how much freedom it has.

So my sense, from reading Mr. Isaacson’s book, is that if Einstein were alive today, he would be telling both America and China that they have homework to do.

8-| (h) 8-| (h)8-| (h)8-| (h)8-| (h)8-| (h)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 07:17 AM
(f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f)

The owner Elizabeth Valando and the trainer Barclay Tagg, right, with Nobiz Like Shobiz after he won the Wood Memorial.


April 29, 2007

For Colt and His Owner, a Long Ride to the Derby


Elizabeth Valando was bundled in fur and looked as if she were at Sardi’s awaiting the opening-night reviews of a Broadway show. Instead, she stood shivering in the paddock of Aqueduct racetrack watching her trainer, Barclay Tagg, saddle a colt she had fallen for when he was a spindly-legged foal in the Kentucky bluegrass.

Behind her serene smile, Mrs. Valando, 82, was a wreck. The colt that she had bred was heading onto the track on April 7 for the Wood Memorial, a race that could send them to the 133rd Kentucky Derby.

When the colt was born, Jan. 29, 2004, he faced improbable odds of securing one of the 20 post positions for the Derby.

He was, after all, one of 34,642 thoroughbreds foaled in the United States in 2004, and Mrs. Valando was just another owner with the first Saturday in May 2007 circled in her fantasies. By 2006, the colt was one of 10,390 from that crop to make it to the racetrack. Now, as a 3-year-old, he is one of 450 horses, including 27 from outside the United States, nominated for the Triple Crown races: the Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

The pursuit of a Derby champion has humbled people like George Steinbrenner, the principal owner of the Yankees; the television impresario Merv Griffin; and a who’s who of business titans. Last year, horse owners spent more than $1.26 billion at North American thoroughbred auctions.

Still, when Mr. Tagg, a pessimist by nature, saw Mrs. Valando’s bay colt with the white blaze between his eyes for the first time, he said, “If this isn’t a Triple Crown horse, I don’t know what one looks like.”

Mr. Tagg knew something about champions as the trainer of the 2003 Derby and Preakness winner, Funny Cide.

Mrs. Valando called her colt Nobiz Like Shobiz, a name that she had been saving to honor her husband, Tommy, a music publisher and Broadway show backer.

Like a Member of the Family

Last September, when Nobiz raced for the first time, he seemed to float to a 10 ¾-length victory, which brought a visit from a representative of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. He made an offer that was hard to refuse: $17 million for Nobiz.

But Mrs. Valando did refuse. Like Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the owners of Barbaro, who won last year’s Derby and was fatally injured in the Preakness, Mrs. Valando had a special relationship with her horse.

“You’re not supposed to fall in love with these animals,” she said. “Nobiz is like a member of the family. I cannot sell one of them off.

“I want him to go to Kentucky, but I want him to go with a chance to win. I don’t think people understand what a feat it is to get to the Derby, about how much you endure to get there.”

In 1991, the Valandos had another good horse, Fly So Free. He was the 2-year-old champion and won 7 of 10 starts. He finished fifth in the Derby. They were hooked.

When her husband of 32 years died in 1995, Mrs. Valando, a former singer, continued to breed horses. She has eight broodmares in Kentucky and races two or three horses at a time. By breeding her mare Nightstorm with the sire Albert the Great for a modest $7,500, Mrs. Valando produced Nobiz.

On March 1, two days before the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Florida, Mr. Tagg could be forgiven for believing Nobiz was on a path to greatness. In four races, he had lost once, by less than a length, to the accomplished Scat Daddy in the Champagne Stakes last October. Nobiz turned in a flawless workout, and Mr. Tagg ticked off his plan.

“I’d like to win this race really easily,” he said. “I’d like to go to the Wood Memorial and win that race really easily. I’d like to go to the Kentucky Derby and win that race really easily.”

Derrick Sturniolo, Nobiz’s exercise rider, nicknamed him Junior and talked to him as if he were a brother. Mr. Sturniolo, who raced inexpensive horses for small purses at Midwest tracks, had never been close to such a talented thoroughbred. He marveled at Nobiz’s economy of motion, how the colt made him feel like a hummingbird atop a jet.

“Most of the time, these babies, with all their muscle and talent, can be a little mean or nervous,” he said, stroking Nobiz’s nose. “But Junior here is two different horses. He’s all business on the racetrack. But he’s a big old love bug in the barn.”

Even Mr. Tagg could find little to worry about when it came to Nobiz. At 69, his face is unlined, and he has the lithe build of a dancer. Mr. Tagg, however, blends a barbed sense of humor with exasperation that betrays too many hard years.

After the success of Funny Cide, Mr. Tagg’s stable grew to more than 60 horses, nowhere near the hundreds trained by those who top the earnings list.

“I don’t think it hurt me any, but you know it wasn’t like everybody is knocking down my door to give me horses,” he said. “I had some owners come back that had been with me before. But they might have come back anyway.”

Mrs. Valando was one of the owners who returned. In the late 1990s, he had trained a few of her horses, including Nightstorm. They did not have much luck, so she did what owners often do: moved on to another trainer, first Todd Pletcher, then Carl Nafzger. Mr. Pletcher has a record-tying five horses pointed to the Derby starting gate, and Mr. Nafzger will saddle Street Sense, last year’s 2-year-old champion.

At Mr. Tagg’s barn at Gulfstream, the days begin at 5 a.m. Saddles are waxed to a shine, bridles glimmer and the horses’ legs are enveloped in spotless white bandages. Mr. Tagg and his assistant and companion, Robin Smullen, rub the horses, dispense ice and examine the animals throughout the day.

“He’s very antidrugs,” Mrs. Valando said, noting one of the qualities that brought her back to Mr. Tagg. “What you see is what you get.”

She was also pleased by his reaction to her refusal of the sheik’s offer for Nobiz, and a $500,000 commission for Mr. Tagg.

“I didn’t go into this business for the money,” he told her.

Nor is Mrs. Valando, who has refused to insure Nobiz because she does not want to profit from any injury.

Getting Serious With Funny Cide

Mr. Tagg said that another Derby victory is out there for him, and hinted that he should have captured his first one sooner.

He spoke of Funny Cide as if he were speaking about himself. They were the wrong-side-of-the-tracks winners. He was a little-known horseman, Funny Cide a modest New York-bred gelding. The owners were a consortium of everymen, including six middle-aged high school buddies from Sackets Harbor, N.Y.

Despite winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown and the Jockey Club Gold Cup the next year, Funny Cide has been underappreciated, Mr. Tagg said.

“He won stakes every year of his life except as a 5-year-old,” he said. “He won a graded stake as a 6-year-old. No Kentucky Derby winner has ever done that before. And everybody still knocks him and knocks me.”

Now 7, Funny Cide remains in Mr. Tagg’s barn even though his best racing days are probably over.

“He’s happy as hell out there,” Mr. Tagg said. “He loves to gallop. He loves to breeze, and he loves the training. He loves to go out and roll in the sand in the afternoon, buck and kick and bray.”

Funny Cide used to be in the No. 1 stall, but he was moved next door to make room for Nobiz.

Last year, Mr. Tagg paid attention to the way Michael Matz trained Barbaro at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, where each had a barn.

“He had the most fabulous horse anybody’s seen in a long time,” Mr. Tagg said. “It was a machine.”

He thought he had a colt as capable as Barbaro. It took 1 minute 49.11 seconds to change his mind.

That was the time it took for Nobiz to finish third behind Scat Daddy and Stormello in the Fountain of Youth. He lost by half a length, but it was the way he finished that worried Mr. Tagg.

As the field turned for home, jockey Cornelio Velasquez had Nobiz comfortable and in striking range. When Velasquez asked Nobiz to find his finishing gear, it was not there. Scat Daddy surged past in the final 50 yards. When Nobiz found his stride, it was too late.

In the days that followed, Mr. Tagg watched replays of the race and figured that Nobiz was just immature. He had two months, and one more race, to grow up.

On March 20, Mr. Tagg sent Nobiz to the track alongside Funny Cide, to get Nobiz used to being challenged in close quarters.

The two went five furlongs in a blistering pace. It was difficult to tell the old pro who had won more than $3.5 million from the inexperienced colt.

“I wanted to work him in company, and there aren’t many I could send with him other than Funny Cide,” Mr. Tagg said.

Tinkering to Victory

Six days later, Nobiz worked well in tandem again. Still, Mr. Tagg was not done tinkering.

For the Wood Memorial, Nobiz wore blinkers to force him to focus on the racetrack. He also had his ears stuffed with cotton to block out the crowd noise.

Either Nobiz was going to run himself into the Kentucky Derby or he was not. Mr. Tagg wondered whether the colt who had always looked the part of a Triple Crown champion was going to act like one.

That was an excruciating afternoon for Mrs. Valando. She had lunch with friends and relatives in the Trustees Room of Aqueduct, a far cry from Sardi’s on opening night, though the tension was about the same.

If Nobiz performed well, they were going to Churchill Downs. Mrs. Valando seemed to be barely breathing as Nobiz took the lead into the final turn. He beat back the challenge of the highly regarded Any Given Saturday as they hit the stretch. Then Nobiz stayed straight and true, winning by half a length over the late-running Sightseeing.

Mr. Tagg looked relieved. Mrs. Valando was drained and exhausted. In the weeks since, she has been battling bronchitis and an ulcer at her home in Greenwich, Conn.

She will be at the Derby on Saturday, however, with a horse that she bred and believed in.

:D "Like a member of the family." (y) (y)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 07:22 AM
:| :| :| :| :| :|

The dead lie near a Stop and Shop in Narragansett, R.I.


April 29, 2007

This Land

Here and There Amid the Living, the Dead Call Out



Perhaps the long-ago dead should have ceded ground by now, considering the premium on land in a state that is, to employ one cliché of measurement, “about the size of Rhode Island.” But in stubborn silence, the dead here refuse.

Wander anywhere, and Rhode Islanders of the distant past all but rise to greet you from one of at least 3,300 family burial grounds still extant in this smallest of states. Their headstones, in clusters of five here or 10 there, often jut from surroundings so thoroughly developed that few of the living ever pay heed.

In a tidy subdivision in Narragansett, off Ginger Lane, a weedy mound rises from putting-green lawns. There, just a few yards from a driveway’s basketball hoop, rest some Robinsons, including one woman who died under British rule, succumbing to that all-too-familiar ailment, a broken heart.

A few miles away, across the road from a Moo Moo’s ice cream stand, dozens of Kenyons are buried in a grassy plot that seems to have been carved from a Super Stop and Shop parking lot, when of course it was the other way around. Beside the flow of minivans and trucks rest broken headstones, including one for a Kenyon named Welcome.

And in Cranston, between two houses and behind a third, lie some Watermans and Stones, the calculations upon their tablets speaking to the preciousness of every day. Benjamin Stone, for example, died April 10, 1877, “aged 33 years, 9 mo. & 15 days.”

Many of the headstones here have been uprooted or broken, and a vandal has scratched curlicues into a slate stone “sacred to the memory of Eleanor F. Waterman.” Judging by the lawn chairs and beer cans about, the place has become a neighborhood hangout. But a single dollop of white among the decaying leaves suggests that at least one child had too much respect, or fear, to retrieve an errant baseball.

With the present nose-to-nose with the past, it is not hard to imagine the dead, resting against their own headstones and liberated by invisibility, pondering our silly modern ways: being led by dogs on evening walks past that Cranston plot; idly tossing basketballs at that Narragansett hoop; buying milk at that Super Stop and Shop. Pray tell, hast thou no cow?

And every now and then, you ponder them. You almost feel them peering over your shoulder as you kneel before their graves to picture who they were, based on the bare-bone statistics that time slowly erases from slate: date of birth, length of time above ground, role as husband or wife, son or daughter.

You move on, but they remain, in circumstances not always reflecting well upon the living.

Some local historians say that the large number of these private burial grounds — that is, those not trampled by progress’s march — reflects Rhode Island’s origins as a place of religious tolerance, with few centralized churches. It may also reflect a more temporal matter: the distance, say, between rural East Greenwich and the colonial settlement of Providence, some 16 miles away. Might as well set aside a corner of the family farm.

That is what the Tillinghasts of East Greenwich did. Then the descendants died off or moved away, bequeathing by their absence the family plot to the elements. Now, if Dean Thompson is inclined, and he usually is, he will lead you dozens of yards to the back of his family’s greenhouse business, Briarbrook Farm, where Pardon Tillinghast and kin rest.

There, among gravestones adorned with etchings of angels, the wild rose and bittersweet vines snag your clothing, refusing to let go. “The stuff’ll climb up your leg if you stand long enough,” Mr. Thompson says, standing amid overgrowth more accustomed to visits by deer.

Over the years, interest in historic cemeteries rose and fell. Then Evelyn Wheeler, a formidable woman of 67 living in restless retirement in Narragansett, sought permission a few years ago to tidy up a local cemetery, but could find no one in charge, either in town or in the state.

Faster than you could say Pardon Tillinghast, she pushed the state legislature to resurrect a state commission on historic cemeteries. Dozens of people attended the first meeting, at a senior citizens center in Warwick. Plans were made to have volunteers clean up grave sites, identify long-forgotten burial plots and bolster the efforts of local cemetery commissions.

Narragansett alone has 15 historic cemeteries still in existence, including one opposite Charlie O’s, a tavern known for its ribs. Past stacks of lobster traps rest, among others, Hazard Knowles and his wife, Susan. For anyone wondering about the couple’s next intended port of call, their headstones feature carvings of a single hand, pointing up.

Then there’s the old cemetery of Gardners and Slocums. Not long ago, Ms. Wheeler noticed that the plot, which measured about 30 feet by 30 feet, was described in town records as 66 feet by 135 feet. “So I climbed over a wall and started taking debris out,” she recalls. “I kept finding stones and more stones and more stones.”

Some people believe that it is better to have cemeteries rest under the peaceful blanket of natural growth than to expose them to vandals. But Ms. Wheeler says that daylight coaxes more than periwinkle from the soft earth; that old headstones, even those bearing little more than someone’s name, touch us in ways we can hardly articulate.

One day after the clean-up, she saw sunlight shining again upon the headstone of a Mary Slocum, dead more than 200 years, and who knows why, but she cried.

(l) Anyone ever do gravestone rubbings in their youth? Victorian and older stones etchings of angels and other artwork right on the stones themselves created beautiful although admittedly eerie artwork. :)

(y) (y)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 07:27 AM


April 29, 2007

Global Coolness

Carbon-Neutral Is Hip, but Is It Green?


THE rush to go on a carbon diet, even if by proxy, is in overdrive.

In addition to the celebrities — Leo, Brad, George — politicians like John Edwards and Hillary Clinton are now running, at least part of the time, carbon-neutral campaigns. A lengthening list of big businesses — international banks, London’s taxi fleet, luxury airlines — also claim “carbon neutrality.” Silverjet, a plush new trans-Atlantic carrier, bills itself as the first fully carbon-neutral airline. It puts about $28 of each round-trip ticket into a fund for global projects that, in theory, squelch as much carbon dioxide as the airline generates — about 1.2 tons per passenger, the airline says.

Also, a largely unregulated carbon-cutting business has sprung up. In this market, consultants or companies estimate a person’s or company’s output of greenhouse gases. Then, these businesses sell “offsets,” which pay for projects elsewhere that void or sop up an equal amount of emissions — say, by planting trees or, as one new company proposes, fertilizing the ocean so algae can pull the gas out of the air. Recent counts by Business Week magazine and several environmental watchdog groups tally the trade in offsets at more than $100 million a year and growing blazingly fast.

But is the carbon-neutral movement just a gimmick?

On this, environmentalists aren’t neutral, and they don’t agree. Some believe it helps build support, but others argue that these purchases don’t accomplish anything meaningful — other than giving someone a slightly better feeling (or greener reputation) after buying a 6,000-square-foot house or passing the million-mile mark in a frequent-flier program. In fact, to many environmentalists, the carbon-neutral campaign is a sign of the times — easy on the sacrifice and big on the consumerism.

As long as the use of fossil fuels keeps climbing — which is happening relentlessly around the world — the emission of greenhouse gases will keep rising. The average American, by several estimates, generates more than 20 tons of carbon dioxide or related gases a year; the average resident of the planet about 4.5 tons.

At this rate, environmentalists say, buying someone else’s squelched emissions is all but insignificant.

“The worst of the carbon-offset programs resemble the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences back before the Reformation,” said Denis Hayes, the president of the Bullitt Foundation, an environmental grant-making group. “Instead of reducing their carbon footprints, people take private jets and stretch limos, and then think they can buy an indulgence to forgive their sins.”

“This whole game is badly in need of a modern Martin Luther,” Mr. Hayes added.

Some environmental campaigners defend this marketplace as a legitimate, if imperfect, way to support an environmental ethic and political movement, even if the numbers don’t all add up.

“We can’t stop global warming with voluntary offsets, but they offer an option for individuals looking for a way to contribute to the solution in addition to reducing their own emissions and urging their elected representatives to support good policy,” said Daniel A. Lashof, the science director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But he and others agree that more oversight is needed. Voluntary standards and codes of conduct are evolving in Europe and the United States to ensure that a ton of carbon dioxide purchased is actually a ton of carbon dioxide avoided.

The first attempt at an industry report card, commissioned by the environmental group Clean Air/Cool Planet (which has some involvement in the business), gave decidedly mixed reviews to the field, selecting eight sellers of carbon offsets that it concluded were reasonably reliable.

But the report, “A Consumer’s Guide to Retail Carbon-Offset Providers,” concluded that this market was no different than any other, saying, “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Prices vary widely for offsetting the carbon dioxide tonnage released by a long plane flight, S.U.V. commute or energy-hungry house. The report suggested that the cheapest offsets may not be legitimate.

For example, depending on where you shop for carbon credits, avoiding the ton of carbon dioxide released by driving a midsize car about 2,000 miles could cost $5 or $25, according to data in the report.

Mr. Hayes said there were legitimate companies and organizations that help people and companies measure their emissions and find ways to cut them, both directly and indirectly by purchasing certain kinds of credits. But overall, he said, an investment in such credits — given the questions about their reliability — should be looked at more as conventional charity (presuming you check to be sure the projects are real) and less as something like a license to binge on private jet travel.

In many ways, the carbon-neutral campaign mimics other efforts that use markets to save the environment. For nearly two decades, for example, forest protection groups have disputed the merits of “certified” tropical hardwood and other products that manufacturers claim are harvested in ways that don’t imperil virgin forests.

Some environmentalists say it’s better to offer some income to those who use forests in a renewable way. But others insist that instead of trying to police the trade by rooting our fraudulent planks, it’s better to avoid the timber altogether. Only one of many forest certification programs, run by the Forest Stewardship Council, has been widely endorsed by environmental groups.

Michael R. Solomon, the author of “Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being” and a professor at Auburn University, said he was not surprised by the allure of the carbon-offsetting market.

“Consumers are always going to gravitate toward a more parsimonious solution that requires less behavioral change,” he said. “We know that new products or ideas are more likely to be adopted if they don’t require us to alter our routines very much.”

But he said there was danger ahead, “if we become trained to substitute dollars for deeds — kind of an ‘I gave at the office’ prescription for the environment.”

Charles Komanoff, an energy economist in New York, said the commercial market in climate neutrality could have even more harmful effects.

It could, by suggesting there’s an easy way out, blunt public support for what will really be needed in the long run, he said: a binding limit on emissions or a tax on the fuels that generate greenhouse gases.

“There isn’t a single American household above the poverty line that couldn’t cut their CO2 at least 25 percent in six months through a straightforward series of fairly simple and terrifically cost-effective measures,” he said.

Jonathan Shopley, the chief executive of Britain’s CarbonNeutral Company, which does only 5 percent of its offsetting directly for individuals and the rest for businesses, insisted that the voluntary markets fill a vital gap.

This is particularly true, he said, because laws or treaties, like the Kyoto Protocol, that have mandatory limits on greenhouse gases have so far failed to blunt the relentless global rise in such emissions.

“That isn’t going to get us where we need to go,” Mr. Shopley said.

;) Definitely green is more hip but once again in whose definition? This article writer? Some other authority? Abnd so what about an S.U.V. that is seven years old and yet has fewer than 22K miles on it? :| :|

As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say on SNL way back iin the 1970s, "It's always something!" ;)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 07:30 AM

Tune in, turn out, shop! For anything acid green, purple or funky. Make it a summer of love.


(f) (f)


SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 07:37 AM
:s :s

April 29, 2007


Desperado Housewife


For me, getting married has always been like throwing up. I’ve done it as alone as possible, feeling sick, drastic and doomed. My first one was before a justice of the peace in Philadelphia. I was 19 years old, marrying a 35-year-old Frenchman. I wore my work apron from Kelly & Cohen’s diner. We did it between shifts. We did it for our twin, tremulous hearts that somehow reached through age, country and political differences to touch each other. We moved to Paris. He was a composer and a real live Communist. I felt that because I loved him so much, and knew myself so little, I would have to make myself his enemy, his opposite, or else be swallowed whole. For the next two years, my obsession with him grew, and so did my need to see myself as separate from him, until finally all there was to do was leave.

For years I tried out various boyfriends, places, religions, politics and lifestyles. When I first met future Husband No. 2, I was mesmerized by what he was not. He did not hate and fight God and state and the patriarch. Attractive, reliable, middle-class, he was inexplicable to me. When he asked me to marry him, I said yes for what I thought he could give my son, who was 4 years old: stability, faithfulness, normalcy. I would have said yes to him anyway, even without my son, because to know better, to avoid a mistake, wasn’t high on my list of qualities to aspire to.

We married on a tiny, rocky island in upstate New York in a storm at dusk. I shivered in the rain while the groom looked solemn and right. But nothing else was right: no white dress, no guests, no flowers, no doves. Order of any kind — tradition, a planned life, even a neat room — strikes me as suspicious. Having been raised with chaos and abandonment, that’s the only life that looks real to me. So I made no arrangements. I guess I thought that by being haphazard and isolated and gloomy, by doing the wedding ceremony all wrong, I was unjinxing the marriage, or at least freeing it up and freeing myself from becoming “a married woman.” And it worked. Both my marriages were open. When I fooled around on No. 2 with someone else, I didn’t take off my wedding ring. I was vaguely dissatisfied with the arrangement, but I expected to be.

Then one night, six years into our marriage, we were sitting on the couch and I told him how lonely I was. He said he felt the same. It was the first conversation we’d had in a long time. I think we were able to talk instead of argue because we both knew that this was the end. There was nothing to struggle against anymore. We didn’t argue about money or sex, fixable problems if you just go on “Dr. Phil.” We argued about what we were arguing about, and you can never bring that to a conclusion because there’s no beginning or middle. All you can do, when you see it, is to disengage your hooks from each other’s bones, turn away and start walking. Eventually, I lost the house. Our children felt adrift. My divorce dismantled every structure that marriage had put over our heads to protect us.

Before all that happened, while I was still married, I was talking on the computer with a fellow across the country in even worse straits than I was about to fall into. (Yes, I know, I’m totally sleazy.) He was already divorced, he once spent five days in jail, his guitar was in hock and some guy wanted to kill him. He had left everything behind in the town that was home to the guy, and to the ex-wife, who, for unrelated reasons, also wanted to kill him, and moved to the desert. I can’t say exactly why everybody wanted to do him harm, but it must have been the same thing — somehow — that made me want to join my life to his ragged, wide-open one. He was the antithesis of everything I’d tried to become by marrying No. 2.

When we got together two years ago, there was nothing for me to hide or change or try defensively to explain. We were happy, and my kids were happy. I didn’t ask him to get a job and behave; he just did. He didn’t ask me not to ask things of him; I just didn’t. I know it looks bad. But I also know how bad my good-looking marriage actually was. Not that he doesn’t irritate me, but you know, I irritate myself. When my mood passes, I just forget how infuriating he is instead of remembering and counting and measuring what this person has done to me and what he owes me and looking for new ways to explain his deficit to him.

He never asked me to marry him; we have both just assumed that it will happen and that a bunch of people will be there when it does and that I won’t be throwing up. I don’t feel bad at all that this will be my third marriage. Sometimes you have to try out both coasts before you decide Ohio is the place for you. And even an anxiety-ridden, lonely monster doesn’t have to spend her entire life under a rock, all curled up and hissing.

Lisa Carver is the author of “Dancing Queen” and “Drugs Are Nice.” This essay is adapted from a contribution to “Altared,” an anthology about weddings due out next month.

^o)^o) Mother of Goddess - I had no idea people put up with such nonsense - just to be "not alone". Once again, I appreciate solitude with gratitude.(f) (f) Nobody ever needs to settle like this womyn. What's the big deal about getting married again. What's the point?

Fac ut vivas.

SWeetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 07:42 AM

Rosie O’Donnell stepped out of “The View,” the head of Siemens punched out, M.I.T.’s admissions dean failed her own application, Vladimir Putin remained serious about stepping down and British cosmologist Stephen Hawking left his gravity behind for a time.


(f) Have a lovely Sunday.

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 07:44 AM

April 29, 2007
Laugh Lines: Jay Leno and David Letterman

Jay Leno

Some sad news, I’m sure you’ve heard. The former president of Russia, Boris (Buy Me a Drink) Yeltsin, has passed away. He left behind a bar tab of $3.2 billion.

In a speech Sunday, before a church group, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom said that he is going to make San Francisco a sanctuary for illegal immigrants so they can go there and not worry about being deported to their home country of Los Angeles.

The story that has rocked show business: Rosie O’Donnell announced that she’s leaving “The View.” The sad part: None of the other hosts on “The View” heard what she said because they were all talking at the same time.

President Bush sent out an e-mail today asking people to send money to the Republican Party. How come those e-mails never get deleted?


Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 07:52 AM
(y) (y) (y)

April 29, 2007


Strengthening Abortion Rights

On the heels of a major Supreme Court setback for women’s reproductive rights, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has produced a sound proposal aimed at shoring up those rights in New York State. His timely initiative, which would update the state’s abortion laws and inoculate them as much as possible from federal anti-abortion edicts, should be acted on quickly by lawmakers in Albany and emulated by other states.

New York’s pioneering law legalizing abortion, which Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signed in 1970, predated Roe v. Wade by three years. The provisions lifting the old abortion prohibition, and allowing abortion in many cases, are part of the state’s homicide law, which is not the right place for them. Mr. Spitzer’s updating would remove abortion from the criminal statutes and affirmatively make it a matter of professional and medical discretion. His proposal would also repeal an outmoded statute, previously overturned by the courts, that criminalizes providing nonprescription contraception to minors.

Beyond that cleanup, the proposed legislation would enshrine in state law Roe’s core protections, expressly protecting a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, and making clear that her life and health take precedence over the rights of the fetus throughout pregnancy.

Joseph Bruno, the Republican majority leader of the State Senate, has indicated that he has no interest in moving forward with Mr. Spitzer’s proposal. But with Republican control of the Senate now whittled down to just a few seats, blocking the abortion rights initiative carries real political risks. It would not be surprising if Mr. Bruno developed a sudden interest in the bill as legislative elections drew closer.

New York, like other states, lacks the authority to undo the Congressional ban on so-called partial birth abortion just upheld by the Supreme Court. That is regrettable, since the ban endangers women because of its lack of any exception to protect a woman’s health. The Spitzer bill cannot reverse the ruling. But it can put important protections in place in the event that the Supreme Court scales back federal abortion rights further, or even repeals Roe v. Wade entirely, handing the issue back to the states.

^o)^o) Seems that the direction back to states' rights from three decades ago is the trend. I believe in choice and always have. I won't even MOVE to reside in a red state at this point in my life. All womyn should have this choice and power over their own bodies. I must admit that I am grateful never to have had kids (because of this right to choose), especially a daughter. I still worry sometimes about womyn getting raped and then not having choices to end a tragically-produced pregnancy. New York is definitely pushing back the most recent Supreme Court's CONSERVATIVE decision - which takes away the right of a womyn.

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 07:59 AM

A Silicon Valley startup hopes to turn America’s televisions into limitless multiplexes, changing the landscape of the home entertainment business.

The working prototype of a Vudu box, with its remote. (meaning that the box is empty...;)


April 29, 2007

Vudu Casts Its Spell on Hollywood


FOR the last two years, the employees of Vudu Inc. have quietly toiled in a nondescript office in Santa Clara, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley. The only hint of the company’s plans are black-and-white Rat Pack photos that adorn its walls and oversized models of Gollum and R2D2 that watch over its cubicles.

Insiders familiar with Vudu’s hidden magic say that this 41-employee start-up has everything we’ve come to expect from Silicon Valley: a daring business plan, innovative technology and entrepreneurs prone to breathless superlatives when discussing their new offering’s possible impact on the world.

“This is something that is going to alter the landscape,” boasts Tony Miranz, Vudu’s founder, of the product he plans to begin selling this summer. “We are rewriting economics.”

Vudu, if all goes as planned, hopes to turn America’s televisions into limitless multiplexes, providing instant gratification for movie buffs. It has built a small Internet-ready movie box that connects to the television and allows couch potatoes to rent or buy any of the 5,000 films now in Vudu’s growing collection. The box’s biggest asset is raw speed: the company says the films will begin playing immediately after a customer makes a selection.

If Vudu succeeds, it may mean goodbye to laborious computer downloads, sticky-floored movie theaters and cable companies’ much narrower video-on-demand offerings. It may even mean a fond farewell to the DVD itself — the profit engine of the film industry for the last decade. “Other forms of movie distribution are going to look silly and uncompetitive by comparison,” Mr. Miranz asserts.

It is not only Vudu’s disciples who are zealous about the company’s prospects. Every major studio — except, for now, Sony Pictures Entertainment — and 15 smaller ones will make their films available on Vudu. And film executives largely wax adulatory when speaking about Vudu. Jim Rosenthal, president of the New Line Television division of Time Warner, says Vudu addresses “the two major issues that people think are getting in way of the growth of digital distribution: they are getting movies onto the television, and they are doing it in a way that consumers don’t have to sit there for two hours waiting.”

Despite such high praise, Vudu faces hurdles. It is wading into a field dominated by heavyweights whose own aggressive efforts to kindle movie downloading over the Internet have largely failed. There is also little proof that consumers care much about the wide selection or instant availability of movies downloaded from the Web, especially if a movie isn’t cheaper than buying a DVD.

Vudu also needs to persuade regular folks to drag another whirring, electricity-guzzling gizmo into their already-crowded living rooms. “Three hundred dollars for the privilege of paying another 6 or 10 for a movie is a high hurdle,” said Nicholas Donatiello Jr., chief executive of the market research firm Odyssey. “Americans do not want more boxes under their TV if they can avoid it.”

Even with such challenges, however, Hollywood itself says Vudu represents a real breakthrough.

“The first time I ever saw TiVo was an a-ha moment, and this was the same thing,” says Jim Wuthrich, a senior executive with Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group. “It looks fairly sexy and inviting. This is going to pull people in.”

VUDU is arriving at a time of rapid change in the entertainment and media landscapes. This year, for the first time, a majority of American homes will have a broadband connection to the Web, according to iSuppli, a research firm. That benchmark has reshuffled the cards in the media and entertainment industries.

With versatile data pipes now reaching into most homes, the deep thinkers in Hollywood and Silicon Valley say they believe that television shows and movies — just like e-mail, Web pages, songs and albums — will one day be cheaply and efficiently imported into the home.

The question is when.

For all of their confidence, the new ventures now crowding the digital video launching pad look, if anything, a tad sickly. YouTube, which Google bought last year for $1.65 billion, is an exception: it has attracted millions of users fanatical about watching bite-sized video clips. But services offering longer video content have yet to get much traction.

The Web sites Movielink and CinemaNow have allowed consumers to download feature-length films to their personal computers for the last five years. Few viewers have chosen to, partly because the pinched PC screen is a lousy place to watch movies. Over the last 15 months, similar movie downloading services for the PC have started from such varied sources as Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Google, BitTorrent and the Starz movie channel of Liberty Media. Bowing to the copyright anxieties of Hollywood, all of these companies encrust their digital media files with cumbersome copyright protection software that often foils computers and frustrates users.

“Consumers want choice and control, but for long-form video like movies on the PC that is not enough,” said Mr. Donatiello at Odyssey. “You have to get the content to the television.”

Steve Jobs, at least, understands that. Apple, which has the most successful movie downloading effort so far on iTunes — offering just 500 films from two major studios — began selling a device called Apple TV last month. Priced at $299, the box wirelessly draws movies, TV shows and music from the computer to the television.

The people at Vudu seem particularly wary of Apple TV: they have bought two to test. But they are betting that movie downloads will ultimately be free from an awkward dependence on the computer, and they think that this could happen sooner than anyone else expects.

“This shift can look very slow in the beginning and very sudden at some moment in the future,” says Alain Rossmann, a Silicon Valley veteran and the chairman of Vudu. “That is the history of technology.”

A graduate of the École Polytechnique, the engineering school in France, Mr. Rossmann worked on the original Macintosh for Apple in the 1980s before starting four Silicon Valley companies over the following 20 years. The last, a software start-up named Phone.com later renamed OpenWave Systems, established a standard for how early cellphones wirelessly connected to the Internet.

Mr. Rossmann left Phone.com in 2001, and three years later one of his former colleagues came to him with an idea. Mr. Miranz, 43, an energetic and persuasive former vice president at OpenWave, started thinking about downloading movies over the Internet after his wife grew frustrated at her inability to find the 1980 miniseries “Marco Polo” at a nearby Blockbuster. Signing up for Netflix and waiting for DVDs to arrive in the mail, he said, “seemed like settling for a meal of worms in the desert.”

Over the summer of 2004, Mr. Miranz and Mr. Rossmann began discussing a digital download service, and soon watched the first generation of downloading stores beat them online. But they agreed that a truly mainstream movie service would need to originate on the television, not the computer. Mr. Miranz said he was also “obsessed with the idea of instantaneousness” — the notion that consumers, sitting in front of the television, could click a button and play a film without delay, as if a disc were in the DVD player.

Mr. Rossmann approached that challenge mathematically. Sending each ordered movie from a central facility over the Web, he reasoned, would become more expensive the more popular such a service became. Instead, he concluded, peer-to-peer networking — the idea of passing files, or pieces of files, between users — was the most economical and efficient solution.

That technology was behind renegade file-trading bazaars like the early manifestations of Napster and Grokster, that were the bane of the entertainment industries. But it also underlies a new wave of legal Internet video services like Joost and Kontiki.

From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Miranz’s and Mr. Rossmann’s newly formed company — which first went by the name Vvond, and later Marquee — filed 42 patent applications sketching the principles of an Internet movie network that would keep consumers where they belonged: rooted to their living-room couch.

The system, according to interviews and those patent applications, will operate like a traditional peer-to-peer service, but without any active participation by users. Vudu boxes that already have a certain movie on their hard drives — say, “The Godfather” — will send pieces of that movie to a nearby box when its owner suddenly gets a taste for the epic Mafia drama.

But to get those movies playing quickly, the Vudu engineers struck upon another notion: using a slice of the digital real estate on each Vudu box to store the beginning portions of each film. They also delved into the science of predictions. When the company determines that a movie is more likely to be rented or purchased — early in its release, for example — it will plant lengthier pieces of that film on unused portions of Vudu boxes in customer homes.

Rajeev Motwani, a computer science professor at Stanford who worked with the Google founders when they were doctoral students, reviewed Vudu’s early plans. “It’s so clever that in hindsight it seems like the obvious thing to do,” he says.

By mid-2005, after raising $21 million from two Valley venture capital firms, Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital, Vudu was ready to begin designing the box itself. Mr. Rossmann said he advised Mr. Miranz to “get some DNA from the company with the closest experience to what we are going through: TiVo.”

TiVo’s set-top boxes have snared a passionate audience over the last decade by offering time-saving utility with a simple user interface. Vudu hired 11 TiVo veterans to help steer product design and manufacture its box. That left Vudu in need of content deals with studios — a challenge that fell to Mr. Miranz, whose ambition and taste for deal-making were suited to Hollywood.

During his first year of regular trips to Los Angeles, Mr. Miranz found the going tough; Mr. Rossmann regularly called from his vacation home in France to express concern over the lack of progress.

But by 2006, Mr. Miranz recalled, the tide had turned Vudu’s way. DVD sales began to stagnate because studios had finally plowed through their entire backlog of movies that could be released on the shiny discs. The success of iTunes was also proving that the digital transition was inevitable and that one powerful player, Apple, could control the market if Hollywood did not find other viable partners. And outlaw services like the pirate Web sites that use BitTorrent technology demonstrated that digital piracy, which had consumed the music business first, now posed a real problem for Hollywood.

The studios were suddenly very ready to talk. Ron Lamprecht, the senior vice president for digital distribution at NBC Universal, which signed the first deal with Vudu in May 2006, said he was enamored by the relative simplicity and intuitive user interface of the company’s box. Universal also liked the system’s security. Vudu’s devices use the same encryption technology inside a cable or satellite box, and Hollywood’s valuable film assets never have to cross the PC screens, where they typically become exposed to the predations of hackers.

“The platform is secure from the moment we provide them content to the moment it shows up in the box,” Mr. Lamprecht said.

With Universal on board, Mr. Miranz signed up Fox, Disney, Warner Brothers and Paramount over the last year. “It’s always nice to see the entire industry getting behind a format,” said Thomas Lesinksi, president of Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment, noting the industry rift over high-definition DVD technology. “When that happens, it has a much higher chance of success.”

Edward Lichty, who left TiVo last year and is now Vudu’s chief operating officer, says the company is “not expecting to be a mass product out of the gate.” But its peer network can be run so cheaply, he says, that it needs to have only modest success selling its box, which should retail for around $300. (A final price has not yet been set.) The company can also someday add television shows, music and video games to its service.

Vudu executives even consider the possibility that their hardware box might eventually melt away, with its services running as the video-on-demand feature in a satellite box, video game console or a new breed of high-definition televisions.

BUT can the little company with big plans even get that far?

In addition to Apple TV, Vudu has to face off against Microsoft’s gaming console, Xbox 360, which lets users download movies and TV shows. Other technology heavyweights such as Yahoo, Google and Cisco are no doubt also contemplating how to get Internet video onto television. Even Netflix, which built a DVD rental business via mail premised on the idea that movies delivered online were a long way off, is thinking about it. It recently hired a founder of ReplayTV — an early rival to TiVo — inviting speculation that it, too, was working on a movie box for the television.

In an interview, Reed Hastings, a founder of Netflix, said he recently met with Vudu to learn more about the company. He would not discuss details of the meeting other than to say: “It’s an open question whether Vudu makes an impact on the world or not — but either way it is emblematic of the Internet innovation wave beginning to wash over television sets everywhere.”

8-| (h) 8-| (h)8-| (h)8-| (h)

Castigat ridendo mores,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:04 AM
:| :|

He's no dummy. :|

April 27, 2007

Murdoch Is Taking MySpace to China


SHANGHAI, April 26 — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is bringing MySpace.com to China, a latecomer that is betting it can overcome that handicap by competing unconventionally as a start-up.

The News Corporation signed a deal to license the brand for its popular online social networking site and allow local Chinese entrepreneurs who understand their market to pick and choose to build an indigenous business. Using this approach, the News Corporation hopes to succeed where other Western Internet ventures have failed.

The company and two venture capital firms agreed this month to hire a former Microsoft executive to license the MySpace.com brand and technology in China in an attempt to capture some of the business in the world’s fastest-growing Internet market.

MySpace.com is entering China at a time when social networking sites, online games and entertainment sites are already wildly popular.

“They want to avoid some of the mistakes made by the first and second waves of international Internet companies that came to China,” said William Bao Bean, a partner at Softbank China & India, a venture capital firm. “By putting a local manager in, they give the company a fighting chance. This is a very crowded area, with at least 100 companies competing in the same space that MySpace has entered.”

American Internet companies have scrambled to set up operations in China’s booming online marketplace, which already has more than 137 million Internet users, second only to the United States.

But the China operations of Amazon.com, eBay, Yahoo and even Google have all either lost ground or ceded the role of market leader to local rivals despite sometimes spending hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire established Chinese competitors.

The new company, called MySpace China, will tailor the site to the Chinese market. For instance, while MySpace.com invites newcomers to meet their first friend, Tom Anderson, who is a company founder, MySpace China introduces new visitors to a Chinese friend.

Still, it faces stiff competition from China’s home-grown Internet companies, including Baidu, Tencent, Sina and 51.com, as well as dozens of other MySpace.com-like Internet start-ups.

Analysts say that Chinese Internet entrepreneurs like Robin Li of Baidu, Ma Huateng of Tencent and Jack Ma of Alibaba.com, have managed to outmaneuver their Western counterparts, partly because they have a better sense of the needs of Chinese Internet users.

Foreign Internet companies have also struggled to find the right balance of complying with China’s stringent censorship — their sites are sometimes blocked in China — yet providing enough interesting content to attract users.

Mr. Murdoch has tried to gain access to the Chinese market for some of his media properties, but has faced difficulties because of tight controls. Now the News Corporation, which acquired MySpace in 2005 for about $580 million, has teamed up with IDG VC, a unit of the Boston-based International Data Group, and China Broadband Capital Partners. In effect, they are financing a Chinese start-up.

Richard Ji, an Internet analyst at Morgan Stanley, said MySpace China might use the News Corporation’s content. “They have a competitive advantage in sports content,” Mr. Ji said. “The Chinese government likes sports content, and so do advertisers” in China.

The group, headed by the News Corporation, did not say how much it has committed to invest in MySpace China, but people close to the talks say that the financing is substantial. The strategy and partnership were partly devised with the help of Wendi Deng, Mr. Murdoch’s Chinese-born wife, according to people involved in the deal. Ms. Deng is not an officer of the News Corporation, but she has been named to the board of MySpace China, according to people involved in the talks.

According to the deal, the News Corporation, IDG and China Broadband Capital will largely finance the operations. IDG, which is headed in China by Hugo Shong, has more than $800 million under management and has invested in some of China’s biggest Internet start-ups, including Baidu, Tencent, 3721.com and Eachnet.

Luo Chuan, 38, who used to run Microsoft’s MSN portal in China, will be the company’s chief executive. “We want to create a site that allows people to find serious relationships and to share something with new friends,” he said, “to share pain and loneliness.”

8-)8-) Oh brother, give me a break on that last quote. 8-)


Bis pueri senes (especially Murdoch),

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:10 AM

Tribeca spotlight

Tribeca Preview

25 movies that intrigued, annoyed, and greatly pleased our fest-happy critics

April 24th, 2007 4:21 PM

This year's Tribeca Film Festival (April 25–May 6) opens with earth mother Al Gore and his eco-themed shorts, ends with Central Park drapists Christo and Jean-Claude (Albert Maysles's The Gates), and kicks off the summer blockbuster season early with Spidey Fever In between there's a whole lot of, umm, other stuff, including some panel thingy with Debra Messing, a chat with Today show news (!) correspondent Tiki Barber, and the Goo Goo Dolls live at the Verizon Wireless lounge. But do not let the above distract you from what's really going on: 159 features and 87 shorts, many of which the Voice's film critics were excited to preview, thereby providing you with this 25-film overview of what lies ahead.

For more info: tribecafilmfestival.org

Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother

Sister . . . brother . . . sister . . . brother . . . she's my sister and my brother! That pretty much sums up this weirdly appealing documentary, which follows Alexis Arquette—the semi-famous scion of a semi-famous Hollywood family—as he (now she) prepares for a sex-change operation. Our mercurial subject cycles between melancholy and flamboyance: At times she is reflective about her gender trouble; at times she retreats into a shell of drag-queen bitchery. The scariest scenes come when directors Matthew Barbato and Nikki Parrott juxtapose home videos of Alexis as a happy teenager with diary-style footage of her today, a drug-addled blonde who vacantly asks the camera, "Is there any celebrities in space?"

Black Sheep

Or: Mutton Chomps. Genetically tweaked and dangerously pissed-off sheep turn rabid in this cheeky, campy Kiwi gorefest, loosely modeled by writer- director Jonathan King on countryman Peter Jackson's early dead/alive puppet gross-outs. Subtext—indeed, substance—is nonexistent, but King's sense of fun is as infectious as the disease of his zombie sheep; sharp-fanged stuffed animals tossed from offscreen toward the jugulars of various deserving victims. Bitten humans turn sheepish, too, which allows the FX department to uncork some old-school, American Werewolf–style flesh-ripping transformations. Karo syrup abounds, as does the irresistible spirit of juvenilia; the last few gags in particular are a gas.

Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe

Recent biodocs have an unfortunate tendency towards desperate myth- ologizing ("Though today forgotten, so-and-so changed history"); this clips-and-interviews portrait of late collector-curator Sam Wagstaff is no exception, ornamented with breathlessly overwrought narration. But Wagstaff's life nevertheless holds up as the doc makes a case for his primary influence on the rise of minimalism and the market for vintage photography. His relationship with the much younger Mapplethorpe—an only-in–New York mixture of love, lust, mentorship, mutual inspiration, and careerism—provides the tale's fascinating core, much of it told through the reminiscences of close friend Patti Smith.

Bomb It

The first 15 minutes of the documentary Bomb It are a retread of the seminal 1983 New York City graffiti doc Style Wars, but once director Jon Reiss leaves the gritty streets of late-1970s New York, his film begins to pave its own way. Bomb It follows graffiti artists all over the world, most poignantly in the garbage-strewn shanty towns of São Paulo and Cape Town. In developed nations, graffiti is treated as desecration or extravagance, but in bleak corners of the earth, wall art is a true political statement.

Half Moon

Bahman Ghobadi, Dogpatch fabulist and dean of Iranian Kurdish cinema, leads another magical mystery tour through his mountainous homeland—populated, per usual, by a small army of cute urchins, irascible wives, and garrulously self-important old goats. One of the latter, a renowned Kurdish musician named Mamo, visits a village where 1,334 women singers have been exiled and attempts to smuggle one into Iraq for a concert with him and his 10 sons. The music is, as always, terrific; the overall ethno-funkiness brings Ghobadi within hailing distance of such folk cinema maestros as Alexandr Dovzhenko and Sergei Parajanov.

The Hammer

A surprisingly charming Adam Carolla anchors this likable comedy from the director and producer-star of Kissing Jessica Stein, Charles Herman-Wurmfeld and Heather Juergensen. Carolla plays Jerry Ferro, an out-of-work carpenter who rediscovers his talents as a boxer. The schlubby former host of The Man Show maintains a breezy on-screen persona that belies the hard work it surely took to become such a convincing pugilist (check out those skills on the jump rope!). The ending is predictable, but you can't beat that ironic "Eye of the Tiger" montage for pure comic gold.

In the Beginning Was the Image: Conversations With Peter Whitehead

Experimental documentarian, political radical, jet-setting '60s hobnobber, and world-class falconer to Saudi royalty (!), British filmmaker Peter Whitehead is an unsung visionary of a breed only the Age of Aquarius could have produced. This lengthy two-part extended interview with Whitehead at times retraces its own steps, but director Paul Cronin's strategy of allowing Whitehead to expostulate freely on his life and philosophy nevertheless pays off, providing an entrée into an artist's mind at a level of detail rarely achieved outside of written biography.

The King of Kong

Seth Gordon's astonishingly good doc, featuring 25-year Donkey Kong champ Billy Mitchell, is as much about the perils of hubris as it is the price of heartbreak. Only one man has emerged since 1982 to challenge Mitchell: Steve Wiebe, a family man whose life thus far has been defined by his failures. All he's got going for him are a patient wife, a Donkey Kong machine, and the ability to beat every flaming barrel Kong throws his way. When Wiebe unseats Mitchell, the former No. 1 conspires against the upstart; Gordon's movie would play like dark comedy were there not such cruelty at its core.

The Letter That Was Never Sent

Winner of the top prize at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, Mikhail Kalatozov's revelatory World War II drama The Cranes Are Flying was something of a cultural Sputnik—one of the first post-Stalin Soviet films to circle the globe. "One Crane does not make a summer," Time sniffed, but Kalatozov and his brilliant cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky followed up in 1959 with an equally convulsive film, The Letter That Was Never Sent. The story of geologists battling nature in the Siberian wilderness provided the pretext for an even more visually extravagant, almost hallucinatory spectacle.

Making Of

While a confused 25-year-old breakdancer named Bahta evades the police and joins a group of Islamic fundamentalists, the actor who plays Bahta (Lotfi Ebdelli) battles director Nouri Bouzid for the right to decide the fate of the character. The result is sort of like Richard Rush's The Stunt Man recast as a debate about the ethics and morality of storytelling. Bouzid uses his unconventional structure to cleverly play his own devil's advocate: When Bouzid tells Ebdelli, "With this film, I want to show how a young man like you can be manipulated," he could be referring to Bahta's actions or his own.

My Father My Lord

My Father My Lord is not a happy movie or a particularly subtle one: It draws a grim parallel between Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac and a modern Israeli rabbi's devotion to God at the expense of his wife and son. A series of tense religious scenes culminates in tragedy during a family vacation to the Dead Sea (symbolism duly noted). Still, director David Volach manages to capture the fumbling wonder of a child's world as young Menachem (Eilan Grife) struggles to put on his shoes, save a dying fish, and understand his father.

Nobel Son

Eli Michaelson (Alan Rickman), world-renowned chemist and asshole, has just won the Nobel Prize, to his colleagues' chagrin. Meanwhile, his regrettably named son Barkley (Bryan Greenberg) gets by on $35 a week while he plugs away at his thesis on cannibalism. Eli hates Barkley. Barkley hates Eli. So when Barkley is kidnapped just as his father is leaving for Stockholm, who pays the ransom? Throw an obsessive- compulsive Danny DeVito and a criminally insane Eliza Dushku into the mix, and this frenetic, ungainly L.A. story becomes what might once have been called "a madcap romp."

The Optimists

Goran Paskaljevic takes a page from Voltaire's book and gives us five inter- locking vignettes of Serbian men who are convinced that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Taken as a whole, the film paints a damning picture of modern Serbia as a ship of fools. Each of its parts, though, is kind to its characters, who range from a blind girl dreaming of a miracle cure to a chubby boy whose hobby is slaughtering pigs. Luckily, Paskaljevic complements his sense of pathos with a sense of humor, and every scene is ripe with both.

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song

This admiring documentary about ur-folkie Pete Seeger is as dependably good as its subject. Everyone's here to pay him tribute: Dylan, Springsteen, Baez—and even, inexplicably, Bill Cosby. The mid-century folk revival may seem quaint in retrospect—all those middle-class teenagers learning to play "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" on their brand-new banjos—but director Jim Brown does a nice job of showing its strong influence on progressive politics. Seeger's goal, as he puts it, was "to build a singing labor movement," and his success in harnessing the power of song to achieve social change will be his most enduring legacy.

Playing the Victim

The title sums it up nicely: The police hire Valya (Yuri Chursin) to re-enact alleged crimes, while a hilariously inept collection of Moscow detectives and deputies film the incident in Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov's feature entry. Alternating with the restagings are scenes of Valya's family life, which are loosely based on Hamlet; he lives in a dank apartment with his blowsy mother and his dead father's brother. Chursin's got screen presence, but the interplay between Valya's darkly funny work life and patently miserable home life doesn't quite work—it's a movie in search of a tone.

The Polymath, or The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman

Author, critic, academic, and occasional Wonder Woman scribe Samuel R. Delany believes that sexuality belongs in public discourse, so director Fred Barney Taylor obliges by crafting a documentary about Delany in which the writer's many literary accomplishments share the spotlight with his sexual ones: A scene about one of Delany's celebrated novels, for example, might segue into a recollection of a night spent cruising old St. Marks Place. Clearly, Delany's claim that he's a very dull, ordinary person is false modesty—how many other Hugo Award winners have slept with 50,000 people?

Still Life

A film about persistence and the passage of time, Jia Zhangke's Still Life finds a miner returning to a Yangtze town looking for his ex-wife only to discover its houses swallowed by water and its buildings primed for demolition. When he grows weary of searching, the man looks upward to witness a light (an alien spaceship, perhaps?) darting across the sky. Cue fierce rhetorical shift! Across the expansive landscape, a woman sees the craft too but barely bats an eye; she's distracted, after all, also searching for a missing spouse. For those who thought The World was not enough, Zhangke's latest represents progress.

Taxi to the Dark Side

Director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) uses the tragic story of a taxi driver named Dilawar, who was wrongfully incarcerated and later murdered by American forces in Afghanistan, as a microcosm for the War on Terror's culture of torture. As the evidence piles up and his investigation widens to include similarly infuriating abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, Gibney's powerful documentary quickly progresses from chilling to alarming to utterly terrifying.

This Is England

A nostalgic but bitter trip through Mrs. Thatcher's Britain, from the highs (punk rock!) to the lows (strikes, unemployment, you name it). Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is 10 and miserable after his father's death in the Falklands. He falls in with a group of multicultural, weirdly touchy-feely skinheads, and has a grand old time listening to ska and committing minor acts of vandalism. But when a former member of the gang comes back from jail full of racist rage, the charmed circle is broken, and Shaun has to figure out what it really means to be English in 1983.

Times and Wind

A quiet depiction of middle-of-nowhere Turkey, seen through the eyes of a group of tweens who are strikingly similar to their American counterparts: They sneak out of their houses at night—although instead of hanging out on street corners or toilet-papering the neighborhood, these pre-teens sit on a cliff—and struggle with growing sexuality and parental demands. (One boy prays every night for his critical father, an imam, to die: "Maybe he'll fall from the minaret!") But despite these everyteen themes, the rhythms of their lives are uniquely Turkish, circumscribed by the lonely landscape and punctuated by calls to prayer.

Tuya's Marriage

So many sheep! They undulate across the screen like water in this Mongolian tragicomedy, which won the Golden Bear at this year's Berlinale. Director Wang Quanan casts a meditative, almost ethnographic eye on Tuya (Yu Nan), a rural shepherdess who tries to wring a living out of the unforgiving steppes. Her saintly, paralyzed husband can't do much to help her, and when Tuya, too, suffers a debilitating injury, she reluctantly divorces him and interviews a parade of suitors eager to take his place. Her resourcefulness in the face of chronic male incompetence is a delight.

A Walk Into the Sea

Was Andy Warhol a bottom? A Walk Into the Sea brings us closer to the horrible truth. Pity we know less about Warhol's onetime boyfriend and undiscovered avant-gardist Danny Williams, who may or may not have drowned in the summer of '66. Forty years later, Williams's niece Esther Robinson tries to shed light on the man's abbreviated life, providing what may be the toothiest exposé yet into the soul-sucking modus operandi of Warhol's Factory. The filmmaker never knew her uncle, but she comes to understand him as something of a kindred spirit of Edie Sedgwick—which is to say, a better person than Warhol.

West 32nd

Some clunky exposition and an ill-advised action-heavy finale aside, director Michael Kang's second feature is a fine piece of filmmaking, equal parts ethnography and mob story. Harold and Kumar's John Cho plays a power-hungry young attorney who takes on a pro bono case and is subsequently seduced by the criminal underworld he discovers in New York City's Koreatown. The film's best moments examine the things that get lost, sometimes intentionally, in translation: One riveting scene, where Cho interviews a witness through a translator with selfish motives, matches anything in Hitchcock's oeuvre for sheer suspense.

The Workshop

When Marvin Gaye sang about sexual healing, he likely never imagined a place like "personal life coach" Paul Lowe's mountain retreat, where successful yuppies deal with their midlife crises through naked hot-tubbing and late-night orgies. Getting in touch with yourself, it seems, most fundamentally involves touching lots of others first. Director Jamie Morgan's documentary would be a great work of satire if only he were in on the joke. Instead, he's as caught up in Lowe's world as are the nude subjects.

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation

São Paulo, 1970. Pelé is playing in the World Cup, Brazil is under the rule of a military junta, and Mauro (Michel Joelsas), the young son of leftist dissidents, is dropped off to stay with his Jewish immigrant grandfather while his parents go on an underground "vacation." A series of unfortunate events leaves Mauro effectively orphaned, intermittently cared for by residents of his grandfather's Yiddish-speaking apartment complex, who insist on calling him Moishele. Everyone is football-mad here, even the rabbi, and the sport becomes a metaphor for both Brazil's national struggle and Mauro's personal one to retain his identity in a new home.


(f) (f)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:12 AM

Ripping off the planet without clearing the samples

by Mike Powell

April 24th, 2007 4:59 PM

"Earth Intruders"
From Volta

Björk has been hammering out her resident alien persona for 14 years now, a few ticks longer than producer Timbaland has spent polluting urban pop radio with syncopated crickets and Orientalist neons swiped from pretty much anywhere he can pull it off without coughing up a royalty. (The Economist reported last week that globalization is doing well.) She's a "rich artist" and he's a "commercial auteur." After a long softening from the former—Vespertine's domestic glitch was like a bunch of glasses rattling in a cupboard, Medúlla was a cappella, and they were buffered on either side by long breaks and repackagings—the oversize drumming and chants Tim brings to "Earth Intruders" are supposed to return Björk to primordial wilin' out. "We're all fucking animals," she said in a recent interview. "Let's just march." A rupture, but a predictable one in a climate where Mother Earth has retaken the throne as muse. The most mannered work here comes through the thumb piano of the Congo's Konono No. 1, actually from the cradle of civilization.

Panda Bear
"Good Girl/Carrots"
From Person Pitch

Where Björk's return-to-dirt anthem is a freaking mandate, Panda's approach is more gentle—an invitation. "Carrots" (and the rest of Person Pitch) even swaps the thubba-thubba bonfire- dance drumming he's known for in Animal Collective for trebly tabla loops, a toss in the sandbox compared to the native, American trauma of pulling out that inner child from under the rough blankets of socialization. His quacky Beach Boys harmonies are fed through enough echo and reverb to make them sound like ambient chatter from the seat of a carousel. Person Pitch's noncommittal bliss is pretty much its best asset—letting go is hard enough as it is without getting throttled in the exchange.

Soft Circle
From Full Bloom

Hisham Bharoocha, the peacenik behind Soft Circle, used to drum in Brooklyn's Black Dice, a neo-tribal powerhouse that has gradually fizzled into synth bloopery. "Sundazed," though, saves face by taking the same impulse as the crashing-drums crowd—rhythmic, hypnotic—and dissolving it into a tangle of synth marimbas, tricky off-rhythms, and reverberant shades. Turns out new age is something like the Cretaceous, just with hairier lizards shimmying around.



SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:15 AM

Fly Life columnist Tricia Romano went bowling with the Pierces. They've got balls.



:o CW and other warnings: There is some sick stuff here. :o


Damnant quodnon intelligunt. (They condemn what they do not understand.)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:19 AM


(p) PW! (Photos' warning....) ;) ;)


Vincit qui se vincit,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:25 AM
:| :|

Pucker Up

The Cum of Alt Fears

Sexual subcultures leave hetero wankers hangin'

by Tristan Taormino

April 23rd, 2007 10:56 PM

Back in the day, I went to a Lesbian Sex Mafia party at Hellfire, a BDSM club in the meatpacking district. The deal was, we women had the place to ourselves until 11 p.m., and then the "general public" would be allowed in. Well, I was in the middle of paddling some ass when the clock struck 11, and since no alarm went off or anything, I continued my scene until around 11:30. When I was finished, I remember turning around and seeing dozens of dudes—who had surrounded my plaything and me—drooling with their dicks out. I have to admit it was disconcerting; I began my scene in a sex-positive, safe exhibitionist environment and ended it in the middle of a circle jerk. "Damn wankers," sighed another female partygoer.

Wankers are usually heterosexual guys who go to sex clubs and parties alone to watch the activities and jerk off. If there is no wanker population control plan in place, the space can become overrun with them, like what happened at Hellfire. The problem of wanker overload has led to an unfortunate phenomenon in the world of alternative sex organizations and events: Single guys are treated with automatic suspicion. I spent Easter weekend organizing sex workshops, an erotic egg hunt, and a dinner banquet at the biannual event I co-produce that brings together sex, BDSM, and spirituality. Holding it at a hotel, we transform banal ballrooms into fantasy spaces for people to play, and some attendees hold smaller parties in their rooms. My friend Mark e-mailed a woman who was hosting a Sunday night swinger shindig in her suite to see if he could attend. His wife was leaving early that morning, but he was staying through Monday. The party hostess replied with: "You're a single guy and I don't know you, so I am not going to say yes off the bat. I need to meet you. We'll see." He responded politely and reminded her that he was a presenter at the event and had attended six of the eight biannual gatherings. He promised he was a responsible orgy attendee, well versed in sex-party etiquette. In fact, Mark is one of the gentlest, kindest, most respectful men I know. His gender politics are right on as far as I'm concerned and I've never seen him behave inappropriately at an event. But his solid standing within the community didn't matter to this hostess. She needed to size him up for herself.

Men unaccompanied by a woman are unwelcome at nearly all swinger events and often excluded from (or barely tolerated at) other kinds of sex-positive gatherings. Like Ladies' Night at a bar, this rule first came about in order to achieve gender parity. The theory (and the reality) is that if you hold any sort of sexually themed party, single guys come in droves and outnumber women and couples; a gathering that's 75 percent single men is usually not desirable. So to balance things out, solo men must pay a higher entrance fee (as much as five to 10 times what single women pay, if those gals pay at all), have to be referred by another member in order to attend, or just can't enter period. It's not always just about the door policy: I went to a swingers party (for couples and single women only) where men were not even allowed to walk around without a female companion in certain areas.

Part of me can appreciate the anti- patriarchal revenge of a world where single women are prized and single men are treated as second-class citizens. Why not make them jump through some hoops in the sex world for a change? However, when it comes down to it, I want to challenge people to rethink the exclusionary policy.

The truth is, single, voyeuristic, masturbating men are not the problem for me. I don't appreciate anyone at a fuck fest who is loud, obnoxious, drunk, high on drugs, crossing boundaries, or some combination thereof. I don't like folks who don't understand the concept of personal space, who hover closer than they should to a scene, who don't take no for an answer, and who don't ask permission to touch. Are these people predominantly single men? A lot of the time they are. I've experienced firsthand how lots of men feel entitled to take up too much space, to insert themselves into other people's scenes, and to make their presence known even if all they are doing is watching. It's like they start thinking with their cocks and any manners they have fall out of their brains. In a space meant to be freeing and comfortable, these particular offenders can be predatory as they wave their dicks around, literally and figuratively, in a way that makes other people uneasy.

But simply a cock in a fist does not a wanker make. Solo men who are shy, polite, well-behaved, rule-abiding, respectful voyeurs get lumped together with those who have no boundaries. And that doesn't seem fair, especially within alternative sex communities where we actively challenge sexual norms. As an event organizer, I want people to explore their sexuality and experiment with different kinds of sexual expression by creating a safe, nonjudgmental, open environment where they can do that. Other event producers claim to have a similar mission, but how can they truly achieve such a welcoming environment for everyone if they say, "Please feel free to come, unless of course you're a man attending alone and your form of sexual expression is voyeurism and self-pleasure"? By excluding single men, plenty of groups do just that, and I think it's counterproductive and hypocritical.

"Wanker" is a derogatory term, but if we strip it of its judgment and redefine it simply as "a man without a partner in attendance who likes to watch and jack off" then all wankers are not the same. We must make room in our communities for wankers who respect boundaries. We must not assume that all single men want to do is jerk off in public sex spaces. If some do, we have to stop shaming them as we simultaneously encourage women to do the exact same thing; this only reinforces narrow stereotypes about male and female sexuality. To create a truly inclusive community, the rules need to be reframed to be about people's behavior—not their gender, relationship status, or fondness for touching themselves.

Please visit puckerup.com.


:o :o :o Whoa!!! More than I wanted to know - but thought others might have an interest in this writer and other articles written previously and in the future. IMHO, it's a bit salty, so to speak. ;) ;)

Fac ut vivas.

SWeetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:31 AM

Food safety worries mount

Does melamine hurt humans? Why isn't food supply protected?

By Stephen J. Hedges and Mary Ann Fergus

Chicago Tribune staff reporters

Published April 29, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The tainted pet food scare, which has swelled into a serious crisis for animal lovers, now has spread to humans.

California officials have revealed that the contamination got into the food chain: About 45 state residents ate pork from hogs that consumed animal feed laced with melamine from China. Melamine is used to make plastics, but it also artificially boosts the protein level—and thus the price—of the glutens that go into food.

It was already fatal for some pets: 17 cats and dogs are confirmed dead, more have likely died without being reported, thousands have suffered kidney problems, and 57 brands of cat food and 83 of dog food have been recalled. On top of that, roughly 6,000 hogs will be destroyed because they ate tainted feed.

The effects of melamine on people are thought to be minimal, but no one really knows. Its consumption by humans is considered so improbable that no one has even studied it.

But they are studying now. What last month was a limited recall of canned pet food is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged public health scare, potentially overwhelming government agencies and raising troubling questions about U.S. food safety in the global economy and in the post-Sept. 11 era.

The Food and Drug Administration, criticized by some in Congress for responding too slowly, is struggling to catch up with the implications of the spread of melamine-contaminated glutens from China to hogs, and the human food chain. The FDA is still trying to get its investigators into China, where a skeptical government only last week assented to investigators' visa requests.

At a time when food imports are growing, and only 1 percent to 2 percent of food imports receive any government scrutiny, critics say the scare reveals the shortcomings of a weakened food safety bureaucracy, the inadequacy of existing regulations and the inability of the FDA, which has suffered significant cutbacks, to protect the food supply.

"They're reactive, not proactive," said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), whose House subcommittee on investigations last week held a hearing on food safety. If the problem was imported pet food additives, he asked, "How does it then get to hogs? They've known about this for some time. What did they do with it?"

In a statement, the FDA said that "food safety funding" for the year ending last Sept. 30 "was $376 million." But funding for the agency's Center for Food Safety has dropped from $48 million in 2003 to about to $30 million in 2006, according to the center's 2006 budget priority statement. Full-time jobs in the Center for Food Safety have also been cut from 950 in 2003 to about 820 in 2006, according to the budget statement.

FDA looking for origins

The FDA's real detective work may be just beginning. Having found many sources of contamination, investigators must now determine exactly how widespread the problem is and how it began.

The importer of the bad wheat gluten, ChemNutra Inc. of Las Vegas, contends that its Chinese manufacturer, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., illicitly added melamine to the gluten in order to boost the measurable protein level and thus the price of the shipment. If so, the FDA may find itself pursuing criminal charges against the Chinese company.

FDA officials Friday searched ChemNutra's offices, as well as a pet food plant operated by Menu Foods in Emporia, Kan., according to The Associated Press. Menu Foods has recalled millions of cans of pet food in recent weeks.

In China, the central government has been defensive about charges that an export shipment had been deliberately contaminated, at first denying that any tainted wheat gluten was even shipped to the U.S. But that tone has softened as the extent of the pet food recall expanded. On Friday, a government spokesman told USA Today that some shipments were contaminated.

Scores of pet food brands have now been recalled in the U.S. for fear that melamine-contaminated glutens were used in their manufacture. They include canned and dry dog food and dog biscuits that are made in places as widely scattered as Utah, Missouri and South Carolina.

The FDA is also examining imported vegetable proteins earmarked for human products like pizza, protein bars and baby formula. That investigation, still in its early stages, hasn't uncovered any contaminated ingredients, but the agency, an FDA doctor said, wanted to "get ahead of the curve."

The melamine-laced food reached hogs because surplus pet food—crumbled and broken food bits rejected as unsuitable for dogs or cats—was sent to hog farms and turned into feed. The FDA says bulk shipments of feed were delivered to hog farmers in California, Utah, Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. FDA officials said they were also concerned that contaminated livestock feed may have been shipped to Missouri.

"It's absolutely a terrible nightmare story," said Eric Nelson, a Wisconsin feed specialist and president of the Association of American Feed Control Officials. "It just doesn't seem to get any better, and I'm sure it's not over."

Rice protein also a problem

Even as the tainted wheat gluten cases have multiplied, the FDA has learned of another problem: Chinese rice protein. U.S. importer Wilbur-Ellis told the agency that a single bag of rice protein that it had imported tested positive for the presence of melamine. Wilbur-Ellis imported the rice from Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. in China's Shandong province. In the U.S., the protein went to five U.S. pet food makers in Utah, New York, Kansas and Missouri.

While the FDA has targeted select states for hog inspections, the pet food recall and the large number of sick cats and dogs have overwhelmed state agencies that often only investigate a dozen pet food complaints a year. The FDA says about 400 employees across the country are collecting pet food samples, monitoring the recalls' effectiveness and preparing complaints.

The investigation's progress in Illinois alone illustrates the problem.

About half of the 32 FDA investigators in the state have worked on responding to more than 500 complaints of sick or deceased dogs and cats since the recalls began March 16. They must collect medical records from veterinarians and gather samples of contaminated pet food.

The office is also involved in recall effectiveness. "It's very taxing on our resources," said Scott MacIntire, director of the FDA's Chicago office, which oversees state operations.

MacIntire said his office is investigating a shipment of rice protein concentrate imported to Illinois and potentially used in a human product.

Nationwide, the FDA has only enough inspectors to check 1 percent to 2 percent of the 8.9 million imported food shipments in 2006.

"We don't have the resources or the capabilities to test every single shipment of every single food item that crosses into our country or into our state borders," said Frank Busta, director of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense.

Stupak is among a small number in Congress who for several years have pressed for stiffer food safety regulations. He said legislation likely to pass this year could include a provision giving the FDA authority to order food processors to recall questionable items.

Currently, the FDA can issue mandatory recall orders only for baby formula, while other government safety agencies can demand the recall of goods such as unsafe toys and tires.

"It took Menu Foods almost a whole month to do a full recall of the dog food," Stupak said. "If they're dragging their feet on the recall of dog food, in the meantime this tainted wheat gluten is going to hogs."

Other fixes could include expanded funding for food safety inspections and labs, the right to conduct spot inspections, subpoena power for the FDA and country-of-origin labeling on food products. Congress has already passed the labeling law, but the Bush administration has declined to implement it, citing cost concerns.

FDA officials acknowledged that they are closing seven labs but said they are older facilities that needed renovation and that other labs are being expanded to compensate.

What price safety?

The end of this pet food crisis appears more elusive than ever, shedding light on issues beyond the largely self-regulated pet food industry to America's growing dependence on cheap imported ingredients from China and other countries, where safety precautions may be more lenient.

But just as troubling, federal officials and congressional critics of the FDA say, is the ease with which the bad gluten was passed along once in the U.S. After the Sept. 11 attacks, food and water safety were an issue of great concern, they say, but those concerns seem to have eroded.

America's increasing reliance on low-cost food creates a complicated food distribution system, Busta said — and that leaves "many potential vulnerabilities."


(f) (f) (f) (f)

Possunt quia posse videntur.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:33 AM

Geez, you don't say. :o

Last updated April 28, 2007 8:32 p.m. PT

Debaters question if hip-hop hates women



CHICAGO -- A panel discussion titled "Does Hip-Hop Hate Women?" drew more than 400 people Saturday - a sign that the furor that erupted over Don Imus' comments isn't over yet.

As Imus struggled in vain to keep his radio-host job earlier this month, he claimed that rappers routinely "defame and demean black women" and call them "worse names than I ever did." That led to some music-industry navel-gazing, but too little action, some panelists at the University of Chicago said.

Some criticized music executives failing to make a strong statement against violent and demeaning language in mainstream rap music when they met earlier this month in New York.

Others blasted hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons for not doing enough when he called this week for the recording and broadcast industries to ban three words - "bitch," "ho" and "nigger" - from all so-called clean versions of rap songs.

"How is no one saying to Russell, 'Yo, we already bleep out those words'?" said Joan Morgan, an author and commentator on hip-hop and feminism.

Others at the event said hip-hop shouldn't be made a scapegoat for what's wrong in America.

"We allow this language to go on," said Amina Norman-Hawkins, a Chicago hip-hop emcee and executive director of the Chicago Hip-Hop Initiative. "As a community, we aren't responsible for our children. So we don't teach our little boys how to grow up to be men and respect women. We allow them to learn from the street what's acceptable."

Some said Imus' April 12 firing by CBS Radio over a slur he used to describe Rutgers University's women's basketball team has provided a new opportunity to galvanize public opinion on the issue.

"Sexism is too convenient within the black community for black men," said David Ikard, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee. "This issue of Imus came up and I asked the black men in my hip-hop course what were their stakes in it. They were like, 'Well, we don't really have any stakes in it. It seems trivial.'"

He called on black men to do more to speak up for black women.


:| :|

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:37 AM
(f) (f) (f)


(f) (f)

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:00 PM
(l) (au) (l) (au) (l) (au) (l)






Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:01 PM
(l) (l)




Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:01 PM
(f) (f)

"Katmai is the Alaska that people dream of."


(l) (l)

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:02 PM



Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:03 PM
(y) (y)

1. http://www.searchmash.com/

2. http://www.msdewey.com/

3. http://www.alltheweb.com/

4. http://www.ask.com/?ax=5


Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:05 PM
(y) (y)

The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution.

Pagan Kennedy

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1950, Michael Dillon, a dapper, bearded medical student, met Roberta Cowell, a boyish-looking woman, for lunch in a discreet London restaurant. During the lunch, Dillon announced that five years earlier he was a woman named Laura, and Roberta stated she was on her way to full womanhood from being Robert. Eventually, Cowell (a former Royal Air Force captain) would garner fame as a glamorous woman and author of the 1954 bestseller Roberta Cowell's Story, while in 1958 Dillon began a long, rocky journey to become a Tibetan monk. But Kennedy (Black Livingstone) does far more than detail their short-lived, topsy-turvy transgender romance. She gives us an enlightening tour of how mid-century science conceptualized gender, hormones and transsexual surgery, as well as how advances in plastic surgery for men maimed in WWI became the basis for sex change operations. Kennedy's slangy style—she describes presurgery Dillon as living in the "slushy canal between sexes"—also suits the material. Though her effort doesn't surpass other books on the topic—especially Joanne Meyerowitz's How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States—it's an entertaining and informative popular history. (Mar.)

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Born into a wealthy family near the beginning of the 20th century, Laura Dillon attended Oxford University and went on to become a doctor, a published author, and, eventually, a man named Michael. At Oxford, she tried to identify as a homosexual, but that didn't quite fit; it would be years before the words transsexual or transgendered were coined. In 1939, Dillon began to experiment with a new drug, testosterone. Her life changed after meeting Dr. Gillies, a practitioner in the emerging field of plastic surgery, who performed several operations to reconfigure Dillon's anatomy. Upon meeting Roberta Crowell in 1949, Michael believed that he had found his soul mate. Born and raised as a man, Crowell was in the process of transforming into a woman. Following a failed love affair, Dillon traveled to India to study Buddhism. He died a pauper after finally discovering happiness among monks in Tibet. He left a legacy of notebooks, memoirs, and a groundbreaking treatise on the nature of sex and gender. These form the basis of Kennedy's narrative, which leapfrogs back and forth across Dillon's life. Kennedy traces the emotional isolation and triumphs throughout Dillon's struggle to define himself according to his own rules. The author peppers the text with historical details of early-20th-century medicine and evolving notions of gender in Western society. This story is fascinating to modern readers whether or not they have personal questions about gender.



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:06 PM

1. http://www.restaurantguysradio.com/sle/rg/

2. http://www.podarama.com/podcasts/chefjondreau/jimskitchen.html

3. http://www.naturespath.com/newsroom/podcast


Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:06 PM
:) :)


(y) (y)

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:07 PM




Experience one of the world's greatest train journeys aboard The Legendary Ghan. The legend has soared to new heights with the extension of The Ghan journey to Darwin. When The Ghan first departed Adelaide for Alice Springs, it was always intended that it would one day travel through to Darwin. More than 70 years, that dream has become reality.

The Ghan now travels 2,979 kilometres from Adelaide to Darwin on this transcontinental journey through the Red Centre of Australia. The Ghan offers a weekly return journey between Adelaide and Darwin, and in either direction provides two nights aboard this legendary train. Marvel at the spectacular Australian landscapes; from the rusty reds of the MacDonnell Ranges surrounding Alice Springs, gateway to Ayers Rock and the Red Centre, then north to Tennant Creek, Katherine and the tropical splendour of Darwin. Off-train touring is a feature of the new journey, providing the chance to learn more about the unique desert flora and fauna.

(l) (l)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:08 PM

1. http://www.mayoclinic.com/

2. http://www.supplementwatch.com/

3. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/supplements.htm

4. http://www.consumerreports.org/mg/


Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:09 PM



Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:09 PM
;) ;)



Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:10 PM




Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:11 PM




Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:12 PM



:) Hmm, maybe later in 2007. Seems like spring is here, eh?


Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:14 PM
:) :)







:o :o I can just feel hardening of the arteries reading about this chicken. ;)



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:14 PM



Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:16 PM
:) :) :)



Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

04-29-2007, 08:20 PM
(l) (&) (l) (&) (l) (&) (l)


(o) (o) Tiime to take Wyatt for a short walk. Maybe get to bed earlier than usual. Seems that all I did this week was catch up on rest so I could feel better. I have not been THIS sick in years! Coughed my a** off. ;)

(S) (S) Restful sleep and dreams.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 01:43 PM
;) ;)

Two Newfies, Jorge and Eli, were adrift in a lifeboat. While rummaging
through the boat's provisions, Jorge stumbled across an old lamp. He
rubbed the lamp vigorously and a genie came forth. This genie, however,
stated that he could only deliver one wish, not the standard three.

Jorge, immediately blurted out, "Turn the entire ocean into Molson
Canadian beer."

The genie clapped his hands with a deafening crash, and immediately the
sea turned into beer and the genie vanished. Only the gentle lapping of
beer on the hull broke the stillness as the two men considered their

Eli looked disgustedly at Jorge whose wish had been granted. After a long,
tension-filled moment Eli said, "Nice going Jorge! Now we're going to have
to piss in the boat."

:D :D


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 01:46 PM
:o :o

May 6, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

La Campagne, C’est moi


LILLE, France

It’s hard not to be drawn to a presidential candidate with a name like a Bond girl, a smile like an angel, a figure that looks great in a bikini at 53, a campaign style like Joan of Arc, and a buffet for the press corps brimming with crustless fromage sandwiches, icy chocolate profiteroles, raspberry parfaits, red Bordeaux, espresso and little almond gâteaux. (When in France, let us eat cake.)

Ségolène Royal brought back the sizzle to socialism, raising the ire of Stephen Colbert’s right-wing TV host, who warned that “socialism is always a threat but never more so than when it looks like this.”

At first, Ségolène seemed like the ideal candidate for a country that knew it needed change but didn’t really want change, because she looked like change but wasn’t really going to change anything. But the infatuation dampened, like a spring romance.

I entered the Ségosphere, as her supporters call it, Thursday evening in Lille, for the last big rally — and perhaps last hurrah — of her “serene revolution,” as it’s dubbed.

The unmarried mother of four and daughter of a misogynistic army colonel entered the factorylike hall to a militant techno beat, gliding through the cheering crowd of 20,000 with a radiant smile and bright red jacket. Supporters, including many young ethnic Arab men and older women in head scarves up front, strained to touch and pat her.

On stage, she channeled a divine aura, levitating her arms like a Blessed Virgin statue, presenting herself as a glowing beacon against the forces of darkness, a k a Nicolas Sarkozy. In the Ségosphere, the right-wing front-runner is a brute, Rudy Giuliani without the restraint, while she is a healer. She consciously casts herself as Marianne, the symbol of France — playing “La Marseillaise” at rallies — but comes across more like Marianne Williamson, the New Age spirituality guru, going for the chakra vote.

“What I want, it’s for everybody to unleash this energy they feel within themselves,” she said, “but this energy that is sometimes curbed, curbed by so many blockages, curbed by so many negative speeches, curbed by so many shadows. ... It is not the dark side that I want to awake. It is the side of light, it is the side of hope, it is the part of joy, it is the part of smile, it is the part of France that loves itself as it is.”

Even though her strategy of playing the woman card fell flat, she kept it up in her last week. In Lille, she said she knew some wondered: “Is it really reasonable to choose a woman? Is France going to dare? I want to say: Dare. Dare! You won’t regret it.”

Ségo is bolder than the cautious Hillary, but stumbles into mistakes more often; unlike Hillary, she has not done her homework on foreign policy. Ségo blends a fierce will and feminine style more deftly than Hillary, but is also seen as somewhat cold, porcelain under her porcelain skin, rather than seductive, like Bill Clinton.

Ségo showed verve and grit in her self-professed role as a “gazelle” darting past the sexist old Socialist elephants — not to mention the father of her children, François Hollande, the head of her party, who wanted to run himself. Though Mr. Hollande supports Ségo, she does not seem as dependent as Hillary on getting her man to push people around for her.

France is chauvinistic — women got the vote in 1944 and compose only a small percentage of the National Assembly — but the country seems less neurotic than America about the idea of a woman as president. The trouble with Ségo’s campaign is not her gender. The trouble is that her only vision for France is herself. Hence, her nickname: Egolene.

A Sarko adviser called Ségo “a very pretty gadget” who looked modern but had no real plan to move France out of malaise and into the future.

When Ségo lost her temper at Sarko during Wednesday’s debate, on the issue of disabled children’s going to regular schools, it was denounced as contrived and inaccurate. She wanted to seem assertive and goad her abrasive and volatile rival into boiling over. Instead, he pushed the gender card back, telling her to “calm down” and stereotyping Serene Ségo as too moody and changeable to run a country that likes big, powerful leaders.

“She is not in a good mood this morning; it must be the polls,” he said Friday, after she warned that he was “a dangerous choice,” with “the same neoconservative ideology” as W., someone who could cause the country to erupt.

In a contest between what one Parisian calls “le fou” and “la fausse,” the crazy and the false, France may say oui to le fou.

8-)8-) Losing her cool will lose her the election, IMHO.


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 01:47 PM


By JEREMY WAGSTAFF WSJ (Wall Street Journal)

Your Phone Is a Shield And How You Carry It Has A Lot To Say About You

May 4, 2007

JAKARTA -- The only things most of us carry around that we didn't use to are our cellphones. I remember titters from my colleagues when I bought my first one 11 years ago, but now even my most cave-dwelling friends have given in and carry one. That's quite a shift: I can't think of anything since the introduction of the wristwatch more than 100 years ago that became such a required accessory. But it begs a further question: How, exactly, do we carry our cellphones -- and what does that say about us?

Nokia researchers based in China, Japan and Finland have looked at just that. The answer, it turns out, isn't as simple as it sounds, and the conclusions contain some important pointers to our lingering ambivalence about being at the beck and call of others.

First, it's probably no surprise that men carry their cellphones in their front pockets, and more often than not in their right pocket (most people being right-handed). It's about the most accessible place a guy has at his disposal. It's also why you may find an elbow in your face/stomach/groin if a co-passenger answers his phone in a crowded train. My tip to solve the elbow problem: Persuade pant designers to make pockets with openings that face forward rather than backward. Men could then store their phones in the opposite pocket to their dominant hand and reach across their bodies to grab the devices, rather than elbowing other people. Try it: It works. Plus you feel like Clint Eastwood.

This would also help solve another problem for pocket carriers: The team's research suggests that 30&#37; of such people sometimes or always miss incoming calls. This is nothing, however, compared with the problems that women face. Nokia's research concludes that 61% of women carry their mobile phone in a bag, usually a handbag. As a result, half of such people regularly miss an incoming call because, in the words of one of the researchers, Tokyo-based Jan Chipchase, "it is not noticed, or...even if it is noticed the phone cannot be retrieved in time -- because the phone is buried deep in the handbag." Technically speaking, this is called The Desperate Rummage, and I'm sure many of you have done it a few times, in the middle of cinemas, religious services or job interviews, trying frantically to throttle that silly ringtone you installed the previous evening in a moment of high spirits.

Not being a woman, I don't have a glib solution to The Desperate Rummage. As Mr. Chipchase points out in an essay accompanying the research, there's a fundamental contradiction between the preference for the handbag-cellphone-stash and advances in one key aspect of cellphone technology: miniaturization. As new cellphone models get smaller, and drop the external aerial, they get harder to find, partly because they're so small, and partly because they're a similar size and shape to other objects in the bag, such as a mascara box or name-card holder. Obviously one solution is to wear a Bluetooth headset at all times so incoming calls can be heard directly. Women seem averse to this, perhaps for the same reason that they're not flocking to another male preference: the Belt Pouch.

The Belt Pouch allows the mobile phone to be attached to the waist. But it's really quite geeky-looking, and so doesn't seem to have caught on in fashion-conscious cities like Tokyo, where the Nokia research could find no one wearing a belt pouch, or Milan, where only 4% of people did. While 19% of respondents in Beijing had one, the percentage doubled in the more remote Chinese city of Jilin. As Mr. Chipchase puts it, "perhaps this reflects a preference for convenience over elegance" in the sticks.

Women, needless to say, give belt pouches a wide berth: Instead they go for straps. These are usually bands that are threaded through the top of the devices, allowing them to hang around the neck. Variants include dangly pendants that help facilitate tactile discovery during The Desperate Rummage.

Here regional variations are clear: Phone straps are big in North Asia but aren't elsewhere. Seoul seems to have the most straps -- 71% of phone users have one there -- with Tokyo only slightly behind. Compare that with only 11% in Delhi, 9% in Los Angeles and 4% in Kampala. Mr. Chipchase reckons the phone strap is "an immediate, nontechnical and obvious way of projecting oneself and one's values." In other words, for the average South Korean or Japanese, the dangling cellphone is a great way of saying who she is. Presumably your average Indian, Californian or Ugandan has found other ways of conveying the same information. Or perhaps people who wear a phone around their neck simply want to be reached by the people who are calling them.

Which brings me to what I think all this tells us: Most of us still aren't sure we want a device that we will notice every time it summons us. Mr. Chipchase recognizes that some of those missed calls may have been intentional -- because we're in a situation where to answer the phone would be rude, or because we don't recognize the number and don't want some weirdo calling us for a survey on where we stash our cellphone, or simply because we just want a bit of time off. In short, where we stash our cellphone -- pocket, belt, strap or bag -- may say as much about how easily we want to be reached as about our fashion sense or what culture we're from.

As with all technology, we need to remain in control, and if we can't do that directly, we will erect barriers to shield us from it (the shield, in this case, being a chaotic handbag or deep pockets). The consideration for Nokia and others, as they design the next wave of devices, is to give the shield element as much priority as the communication element. Or, as Mr. Chipchase concludes: "We could design a device where incoming communication is impossible to miss -- but should we?"


Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 01:49 PM
:| :|

The $40 Game Controller Hits Balls, Plays Deejay And Regulates a Roomba


April 28, 2007; Page A1 WSJ

A deejay in the Netherlands uses his to mix techno music at dance parties. A medical student in Italy has reprogrammed his to help analyze the results of CT scans. And a Los Angeles software engineer has found a way to get his to help vacuum the floor. The high-tech device in each case: the remote control from a $250 videogame console.

Since Nintendo Co.'s Wii landed in stores in November, it has become one of the game industry's biggest hits, selling more than two million consoles in the U.S. Many stores can't keep the console in stock, and it fetches nearly twice its retail price on eBay. One of the major drivers of the Wii's popularity is its remote control, which fans call the Wii-mote. Unlike past remotes, it is motion sensitive and can detect when a player waves it to one side or tilts it forward or back.

The Wii-mote is becoming a cult object for hackers, with gadget geeks re-engineering the device to do all sorts of things having nothing to do with playing videogames. To repurpose the Wii-mote, they download free software from one of a number of Web sites and then tweak that code to assign a specific command to each movement of the device. In the end, the remote takes the place of a computer mouse or keyboard. Waving the Wii-mote sends a message wirelessly to the computer, which then communicates with whatever object the hacker is trying to control.

Software engineer Chris Hughes has tinkered with almost everything in his Los Angeles home, from adding more storage capacity to his TiVo digital video recorder to changing the combination on the keyless entry to his Ford Explorer. When a friend at a Christmas party suggested he find a way to get his Wii-mote to control his Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, Mr. Hughes worked through the night tailoring the software code.

He sent a video of the results to his girlfriend and posted a demonstration on YouTube. It shows the sleepy Mr. Hughes tilting his white remote up and down to make the Roomba go back and forth, and then turning it over to get the vacuum cleaner to spin circles in his living room. "Normally my eyes just glaze over when he talks about technical stuff," says his girlfriend, Erin Bradford. "But he was so pleased with himself." She's hoping the invention means the house will now stay cleaner.

The standard videogame remote, little changed in two decades, consists of a joystick or game pad that controls a character's movements, and buttons to trigger different actions, like shooting a gun. The Wii-mote, which is about the size of a large candy bar, relies on some different technologies. It communicates with the on-screen cursor, for example, via an infrared beam. But what has most captivated hackers is a mechanism inside the Wii-mote called an accelerometer that can detect its speed and direction of motion. It is the accelerometer, made by Analog Devices Inc., in Norwood, Mass., that allows Wii players to use their remotes to act out whatever game they're playing, whether it's casting with a fishing rod or swinging a tennis racket.

Tim Groeneboom, who lives in the Netherlands, uses his Wii-mote to spice up his deejay act. He was inspired by a video on the Web of a California music student bobbing in front of the computer in his room and making jabbing motions with the Wii-mote to splice different tracks. During his second gig with the Wii-mote, Mr. Groeneboom, 22, says he was able to roam up to about 100 feet from his deejay booth and still be able to control how the music blended and do some sound effects. At one point, he danced into a circle of revelers clutching his Wii-mote.

Aaron Rasmussen has a sporting purpose for his Wii-mote. At his Garden Grove, Calif. software company, USMechatronics, he and his partner stuck a tennis racket in the "hand" of a $40,000 industrial robot and then tweaked the Wii-mote to control the robot's arm so it can hit back tennis balls on the factory floor. "This is what we do to relax," he says.

Some people are using their remotes to play Laser Tag -- where players shoot one another with infrared light beams -- while others are using them to strum a virtual guitar. Several Web sites, like Wiihacks.blogspot.com and WiiLi.org, have sprouted up for hackers to trade tips on repurposing Wii-motes. Because Nintendo sells the Wii-mote separately for $40, hackers don't even need to buy the console.

Nintendo says it is surprised by efforts to reprogram the Wii-mote and discourages the practice. "The Wii Remote was created to play on the Wii system only," says Anka Dolecki, spokeswoman for Nintendo.

But all the interest in the Wii-mote could have an upside for the company. The dozens of free games on the Web that incorporate the Wii-mote have helped add to the buzz surrounding the console.

Much of the Wii-mote hacking is by music aficionados. Bob Somers, a second-year student at California Polytechnic State University, has figured out a way to play his virtual drum set with the Wii-mote. He waves the remote while holding down one of the buttons on the device to produce a drum sound. To get a bass kick, he holds down the "B" button while flicking his wrist; for the snare drum, he makes the same movement but holds down the "A" button. Paul Henry Smith, 43, has even bigger ambitions. A formally trained conductor in Hamden, Conn., Mr. Smith wants to lead a handful of classical musicians through a Beethoven symphony. The musicians would use Wii-motes to control a digital version of a section of the orchestra.

Some companies see possible business applications with the Wii-mote. Rick Bullotta, vice-president of SAP Research, an arm of the German software giant SAP AG, is looking at ways to integrate the Wii-mote into their clients' manufacturing operations. He envisions factory and warehouse employees walking through facilities pointing and waving Wii-motes to monitor and control machines. "It's the first time we've used a videogame controller for R&D," he says.

(y) (y) (y)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 01:50 PM
(f) (f)

La Paz

Reporters Jonathan Karp and Miriam Jordan on what to do and where to stay in this low-key spot in Mexico's Baja California.


May 1, 2007; Page D3 WSJ

What to do: Pack water and food and hit Balandra beach, a 20-minute drive north of town. White-sand crescents line a stunning bay of calm, crystal-clear Sea of Cortez water. Snorkel among sea lions off the northern tip of Espiritu Santo Island, also popular for scuba diving, and kayak from cove to cove of the dramatic rocky isle. (Baja Quest arranges day trips, including lunch, for $90 a person; Tel. 011-52-612-123-5320; www.bajaquest.com.mx. Longer trips, camping excursions and whale-watching cruises during the January through March season can be organized through Baja Expeditions; Tel. 800-843-6967; www.bajaex.com.) On the other side of La Paz bay, take a canyon horse trek with Mexican cowboy Chayo in the late afternoon for rich views of the water. Bring a Spanish speaker and, if you are squeamish, a riding helmet ($25 per person for a three-hour tour; Tel. 011-521-612-111-6319).

Where to eat: Las Tres Virgenes is La Paz's new upscale restaurant with stylishly presented seafood, pleasant outdoor seating and an extensive wine list. Try the herb-seasoned cabrilla (sea bass) or blue crab enchiladas (Tel. 011-52-612-165-6265). Facing the malecon, or seafront promenade, Mariscos Los Laureles serves up fresh catches and has an appetizing raw seafood bar (Alvaro Obregon at corner of Salvatierra). For turf lovers, Rancho Viejo dishes out arguably the town's tastiest tacos of arrachera, or marinated skirt steak, as well as baked potatoes stuffed with meat, veggies or cheese (Marquez de Leon at corner of Belisario Dominguez).

Where to stay: This low-key state capital doesn't have five-star lodging. Casa Buena is a pleasant, family-friendly nine-room bed-and-breakfast with a pool, frisky dogs and a pet rabbit. Book a garden room (rooms are $55 a night, Tel. 011-52-612-122-5538). The boutique Posada de las Flores has well-appointed but dark rooms (starting at $150 a night, Tel. 877-245-2860). Down the malecon is the Hotel los Arcos, a full-service hotel that also offers bungalows (rooms from $90 a night, Tel. 800-347-2252).

Visitors can go diving and kayaking in the Sea of Cortez.


(y) (y)

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 01:53 PM
:| :| :|

The latest in men's fashion in Japan: large over-the-shoulder totes that look very much like women's purses.

Global Trends

Japan's Twist on the Man-Bag


April 28, 2007; Page P4

TOKYO -- The latest in men's fashion in Japan: large over-the-shoulder totes that look very much like women's purses.

Japanese men began to depart from the standard briefcases a decade ago, but the trend has since evolved from messenger bags to small under-the-arm clutches and now to totes strewn over the shoulder with nonchalance. The look is making its way through Asia and is reaching some fashion-forward men in the U.S.

A few years ago, Japanese designers began noticing that men were buying women's handbags to lug around their usual load of iPod, cellphone and magazines. So designers started coming out with versions exclusively for men in dark or neutral colors, with minimal trim and a place to put business cards or hold a pack of cigarettes.

In the past year, men in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan have started carrying similar totes. China's newly cash-rich male consumers are buying unisex Louis Vuitton and Burberry totes to show off their wealth.

Some makers are trying to tempt men outside Asia. In the U.S., Coach has expanded its offerings of masculine-looking totes for blokes. Saks Fifth Avenue says a natural-colored cotton tote with tan and blue handles and leather trim by Gucci has been selling well among trendier men. Still, most American men would prefer a messenger bag so that their hands are free, says Michael Macko, Saks's men's fashion director.

Tokyo-based bag maker Tsuchiya Kaban was one of the first Japanese companies to notice that its male customers, mostly in their 20s and 30s, were yearning for an over-the-shoulder bag of their own. Sales of Tsuchiya Kaban's "toto" bags for men are now equal to its briefcase sales. "Men want a bag to go with suits but that also matches their casual daily life," a company spokesman says.

Totes for Blokes: In Japan, bags like this one (right) from Tsuchiya Kaban are similar to women's totes; Gucci's rugged tote (below) has been selling well among trendier U.S. men.


(z) (z) (z) Do any butches and/or FtM's carry some kind of bag - maybe a backpack to hold personal items? Inquiring minds like mine want to know. :o

;) ;)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 01:55 PM
:s :s :s


We're Scaring Our Children to Death


April 28, 2007; Page P14 WSJ

This week saw a small and telling controversy involving a mural on the walls of Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles. The mural is big -- 400 feet long, 18 feet high at its peak -- and eye-catching, as would be anything that "presents a colorful depiction of the rape, slaughter and enslavement of North America's indigenous people by genocidal Europeans." Those are the words of the Los Angeles Times's Bob Sipchen, who noted "the churning stream of skulls in the wake of Columbus's Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria."

What is telling is not that some are asking if the mural portrays the Conquistadors as bloodthirsty monsters, or if it is sufficiently respectful to the indigenous Indians of Mexico. What is telling is that those questions completely miss the point and ignore the obvious. Here is the obvious:

The mural is on the wall of a public school. It is on a public street. Children walk by.

We are scaring our children to death. Have you noticed this? And we're doing it more and more.

Last week of course it was Cho Seung-hui, the mass murderer of Virginia Tech. The dead-faced man with the famous dead-shark eyes pointed his pistols and wielded his hammer on front pages and TV screens all over America.

What does it do to children to see that?

For 50 years in America, whenever the subject has turned to what our culture presents, the bright response has been, "You don't like it? Change the channel." But there is no other channel to change to, no safe place to click to. Our culture is national. The terrorizing of children is all over.

Click. Smug and menacing rappers.

Click. "This is Bauer. He's got a nuke and he's going to take out Los Angeles."

Click. Rosie grabs her crotch. "Eat this."

Click. "Every day 2,000 children are reported missing . . ."

Click. Don Imus's face.

Click. "Eyewitnesses say the shooter then lined the students up . . ."

Click. An antismoking campaign on local New York television. A man growls out how he felt when they found his cancer. He removes a bib and shows us the rough red hole in his throat. He holds a microphone to it to deliver his message.

Don't smoke, he says.

This is what TV will be like in Purgatory.

It's not only roughness and frightening things in our mass media, it's politics too. Daily alarms on global warming with constant videotape of glaciers melting and crashing into the sea. Anchors constantly asking, "Is there still time to save the Earth? Scientists warn we must move now." And international terrorism. "Is the Port of Newark safe, or a potential landing point for deadly biological weapons?"

I would hate to be a child now.

Very few people in America don't remember being scared by history at least to some degree when they were kids. After Pearl Harbor, they thought the Japanese were about to invade California. If you are a boomer, you remember duck-and-cover drills. The Soviets had the bomb, and might have used it. I remember a little girl bursting into tears during the Cuban Missile Crisis when I was in grade school.

But apart from that, apart from that one huge thing, life didn't seem menacing and full of dread. It was the boring 1950s and '60s, and the nice thing about a boring era is it's never boring. Life is interesting enough. There's always enough to scare a child.

But now it's a million duck-and-cover drills, a thousand alarms, a steady drumbeat of things to fear.

Adults have earnest discussions about how more and more of our children are being prescribed antidepressants and antianxiety drugs. What do you think -- could there be a connection here?

Why are we frightening our kids like this, with such insensitivity? Part of it is self-indulgence, part of it is profit, but not all of it is malevolent. Some of it is just mindless. Adults forget to think about kids. They forget what it's like to be a kid.

ABC's John Stossel is a person in media who knows. He did a piece recently on the public-service announcements warning about child abduction. He asked some children if the warnings worried them. Yes, they said. One little boy told him he worries every night "because I'm asleep and I don't know what's gonna happen."

Children are both brave and fearful. They'll walk up to a stranger and say something true that a grown-up would fear to say. But they are also subject to terrors, some of them irrational, and to anxieties. They need a stable platform on which to stand. From it they will be likely to step forward into steady adulthood. Without it, they will struggle; they will be less daring in their lives because life, they know, is frightful and discouraging.

We are not giving the children of our country a stable platform. We are instead giving them a soul-shaking sense that life is unsafe, incoherent, full of random dread. And we are doing this, I think, for three reasons.

One is politics -- our political views, our cultural views, so need to be expressed and are, God knows, so much more important than the peace of a child. Another is money -- there's money in the sickness that is sold to us. Everyone who works at a TV network knew ratings would go up when the Cho tapes broke.

But another reason is that, for all our protestations about how sensitive we are, how interested in justice, how interested in the children, we are not. We are interested in politics. We are interested in money. We are interested in ourselves.

We are frightening our children to death, and I'll tell you what makes me angriest. I am not sure the makers of our culture fully notice what they are doing, what impact their work is having, because the makers of our culture are affluent. Affluence buys protection. You can afford to make your children safe. You can afford the constant vigilance needed to protect your children from the culture you produce, from the magazine and the TV and the CD and the radio. You can afford the doctors and tutors and nannies and mannies and therapists, the people who put off the TV and the Internet and offer conversation.

If you have money in America, you can hire people who compose the human chrysalis that protects the butterflies of the upper classes as they grow. The lacking, the poor, the working and middle class -- they have no protection. Their kids are on their own. And they're scared.

Too bad no one cares in this big sensitive country of ours.

:| :| Kids aren't the only ones being scared to death IMHO. :| :|

Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 01:56 PM

The French term for window-shopping is "lèche-vitrines" -- literally, licking windows. And in Émile Zola's 1883 novel "The Ladies' Paradise," about a Paris department store, shopping does seem almost like eating.



Shopping for Sport

In Zola's 1883 Novel 'Ladies' Paradise,' Temptation at a Paris Department Store

May 4, 2007

The French term for window-shopping is "lèche-vitrines" -- literally, licking windows. And Émile Zola's 1883 novel "The Ladies' Paradise" (originally "Au Bonheur des Dames"), shopping does seem almost like eating.

Ladies' Paradise is the fictional counterpart of Bon Marché, the first department store in Paris, which during the late 19th century grew from a drapery shop into a grand magasin offering everything from liquor cabinets to umbrellas. Like a Victorian Wal-Mart, the department store revolutionized buying and selling, to the rapture of some and the ruin of others.

"Had anyone ever seen such a thing?" raged M. Baudu, whose old-fashioned fabric shop was withering in the shadow of Ladies' Paradise. "A draper's shop which sold everything! Just a big bazaar! No affection, no manners, no art!"

But for shoppers, particularly affluent women with time to spare, the department store was a pleasure palace -- one of the few public spaces where they could respectably see and be seen by others, while also indulging their fashion whimsies. Unlike classic dress shops, department stores welcomed browsers who just wanted to look, said Brian Nelson in an introduction to his translation of the Oxford World's Classics edition of "The Ladies' Paradise." "Shopping came to be seen for the first time as a leisure activity."

For the first time, too, prices of the goods were prominently displayed, making cost comparisons simpler. Shopping was sensual, but it also became a ruthless competitive sport.

Octave Mouret, the hero of "The Ladies' Paradise," was a retail visionary who could see the infinite promise of capitalism when most merchants couldn't see past their front windows. In both his personal and professional lives, Mouret was the consummate seducer. He had many lovers, but he would commit to none.

He knew the success of Ladies' Paradise depended on another kind of seduction. His sumptuous displays and low prices "awakened new desires in a woman's weak flesh; they were an immense temptation to which she inevitably yielded, consumed by desire." When he had "emptied her purse and wrecked her nerves, he was full of secret scorn."

But he met his match in Denise Baudu, the niece of the failing shopkeeper M. Baudu. A destitute orphan, Denise was hired as an assistant at Ladies' Paradise. Unlike the other shop girls, Denise spurned Mouret's tender advances, which, naturally, made her all the more desirable. Mouret was, he realized, in love with the one woman he couldn't seduce: "He held the fate of the French textile industry in his hands, and yet he couldn't buy a kiss from one of his salesgirls."

Mouret's pursuit of Denise is the skeleton of "The Ladies' Paradise," but the novel's flesh and blood are Mr. Zola's descriptions of the little city of more than 2,000 employees working, plotting, harassing and backstabbing.

In slack seasons, the workers were swept out like annoying pests. Instead of "you're fired," bosses said, "go and collect your wages." "'You there, you've got an ugly mug,' a manager said one day to a poor devil whose crooked nose got on his nerves. 'Go and collect your wages!'" Management also frowned on female employees falling in love or marrying, and maternity was considered "cumbersome and indecent."

"The Ladies' Paradise" is one of 20 novels Mr. Zola wrote between 1871 and 1893 about several generations of one French family. Mr. Zola was also the author of an incendiary open letter to the president of France under the headline, "J'accuse!" in which he defended Alfred Dreyfus, a French army officer, who in 1894 had been arrested and falsely convicted of treason. "Truth is on the march, and nothing can stop it," Mr. Zola wrote. For this letter, he himself was convicted of libel, and he fled to England before eventually being exonerated.

Although Mr. Zola is known as an advocate of naturalism in literature, Denise would strike a modern reader as anything but natural: "She always gave way to her sensitive nature's initial flood of feeling: tears would choke her, uncontrollable emotion doubled her suffering; then she would come to her senses again, and she would regain her splendid, calm courage, and her gentle but inexorable strength of will." Passages like these must be tolerated as artifacts of a bygone era, when women spent half their time blushing and the other half getting pale.

Mr. Zola said that what he wanted to do in "The Ladies' Paradise" was to "write the poem of modern activity." It would be a complete shift of philosophy for him. "Don't conclude with the stupidity and sadness of life," he wrote in notes. "Instead, conclude with its continual labor, the power and gaiety that comes from its productivity."

^o)^o) It figures the French came up with this.......;)


Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 01:58 PM
:) :)

Sounds like alot of fun, but that first step is a killer. :o


Resort operators in Wayanad, a verdant district in India, are rushing to build treehouse resorts in the hope of appealing to the inner child of travelers.

Living It Up

Treehouse Resorts in Asia


May 4, 2007

Wayanad district, India

For this vacation, no ordinary dacha would do. Three women from Moscow, on a holiday in India, decided they wanted to sleep in a treehouse. The $220-a-night price tag didn't deter them. What did give them pause was the narrow iron cage suspended by rope that would transport them 30 meters up a banyan tree to their woven bamboo hideaway.

The occasion called for a little extra fortification. "Cognac? It's very good," offered 45-year old painter Galina Bystritskaya, whipping out a leather flask and taking a swig. Then she stepped into the cage, hoisted by two men with less brawn than would seem necessary.

Not to worry. The slender redhead waved from the hut's elevated veranda and returned to earth as bedazzled as an amateur cosmonaut. "It's an absolute dream of childhood," she said. The Russians decided to stay for two nights, descending for meals to avoid intrusions by the rats and snakes that are always on the lookout for tasty morsels.

Such are the charms of treetop tourism in Wayanad, a refreshingly verdant district in India's southwestern state of Kerala. The state is better known for its ayurvedic spas, its coconut groves and the houseboats that ply its serene southern backwaters. Further north, though, Wayanad's wildlife sanctuaries and sloping plantations of coffee, cardamom and pepper provide a different sort of haven. Inspired by the success of Green Magic Nature Resorts, the pioneering eco-tourism venture that attracted the Moscow adventurers, other Wayanad resort operators are now rushing to build more treehouses in the hope of appealing to the inner child of travelers.

"The tourists go crazy for treehouses. A lot of building is under way," says K. Ravindran, secretary of the Wayanad Tourism Organization. The treehouse at Blue Ginger Wayanad Resorts, for example, began receiving guests in April; now, according to general manager Lenin Peter, the resort is scrambling to complete 15 more treehouses by August. "People just want to be close to nature," he says.

Demand continues to outstrip supply, however. "We don't have enough treehouses," says Babu John, tours manager for Kerala Adventures Pvt. Ltd., a travel agency based in the Keralan capital, Trivandrum.

These aren't traditional treetop shacks. At Tranquil Resort, for example, two treehouses come with amenities not normally associated with tree dwelling, including television, a minibar, a refrigerator and 24-hour hot water dispensed by massage showerheads. Tranquil Resort director Victor Dey says the luxury trappings were a response to complaints from visitors to other treehouses about damp sheets, cold showers and insects galore: "Even though they were on top of a tree, they wanted to be as comfortable as they could be."

That comfort extends to making access to the treehouses easy, so older guests won't be put off. One treehouse -- known as the TranquiliTree -- can be entered via a gently sloping walkway fashioned from areca palm, moored by sturdy railings. More delicate craftsmanship can be found on the veranda of the 517-square-foot dwelling, which is decorated with gnarled, carved coffee wood.

For one recent guest, the luxury of the TranquiliTree didn't quite mitigate the sight of a spider. "I freaked out about that," confesses Christine Gurnik, a 37-year-old human-resources manager from Wisconsin. To ease her fears, the resort staff rigged up a tightly zippered tent so it sat on top of her bed.

Wayanad's highest treehouse, 30 meters up and built in 1997, is at Green Magic. The treehouse that impressed the visitors from Moscow, it has a rough-hewn flair, with panels of woven bamboo billowing in corners like sails catching the wind. A spiral staircase connects the three floors of the treehouse, which feature semi-open-air shower stalls and enormous bamboo beds lashed with rope.

There's no need to endure an iron cage to experience the other treehouse at Green Magic. Nestled in a tree canopy overlooking a valley, this treehouse is accessible through a horizontal walkway moored with rope. Unlike the first dwelling, which is enveloped in dense greenery, this one has sweeping views of distant hills.

These aren't the only treetop structures in the region. Some tribal communities in the district still use treetop platforms of bamboo to protect themselves from wild animals, according to Baburaj M., secretary of Uravu, an indigenous science and technology study center in Wayanad (like many Indians, he only uses a single name and an initial). This nongovernmental organization, known for its expertise in shaping and treating bamboo, supplied workers to help construct a treehouse at the Edakkal Hermitage Resort, which was designed by the owner-architects.

Comfort rather than protection from wildlife is the priority for the new breed of treehouses, and that raises questions about authenticity. When a treetop dwelling is as high-end as it is high up -- and sits on a platform that is supported by metal girders -- is it really a treehouse?

Kerala architect Sibi Raj takes a purist's view. When he and his colleagues built the Edakkal Hermitage's treehouse in 2003, they didn't want anything too heavy perched 10 meters up in the branches of a tamarind tree. "We wanted the treehouse to be entirely structurally supported by the tree, so it would sway in the wind. Only then would it be an authentic treehouse," he says. Measuring three meters by 4.5 meters, the Edakkal treehouse comes with woven bamboo walls that give the place an airy, beach-cottage feel.

It isn't just the wind that makes the treehouse sway. During a visit in February, Mumbai-based artist Ashok Sukumaran, 32, decided to test the tamarind tree, reputed to be the strongest variety in Kerala, by swinging from all the beams in the treehouse. Fortunately, it passed the test. "I had stayed in other treehouses before, but this was the first that was just supported on one tree," says his partner, filmmaker Shaina Anand, 31.

The Edakkal Hermitage is still mighty fancy compared to the Mykkara Home Stay, located close to the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, 18 kilometers east of Sulthan Bathery town. No electricity, hot water or bathroom facilities here, just a bamboo box big enough for a couple of mattresses, a mosquito net and a bucket; prices are by negotiation with the owner.

Authenticity may be an issue for some guests, but location is far more likely to be the decisive factor. Edakkal is a winner here, with a mesmerizing view of the Ambalavayal valley, crowned by a distant peak, from three sides of its treehouse.

Seclusion and serenity characterize the location of the Blue Ginger Wayanad Resorts, which also has a swimming pool and plenty of hammocks. Its treehouse overlooks a rushing stream, courtesy of a balcony sheathed in glass. A 100-year-old plantation of cardamom, coffee and cloves lies nearby.

It's the kind of peaceful scenery that keeps people coming back to the region. "You really experience a different sense of time when you are there," says C.F. John, a Kerala-born painter who now lives in Bangalore but makes frequent journeys to Wayanad to absorb its natural beauty and tribal culture. "You feel that you expand along with the vast expanse you see outside. You realize that the trees are watching you."

TranquiliTree at Tranquil


The Big Beach in the Sky at night at the Sanya Nanshan Treehouse Resort and Beach Club


SereneTree at Tranquil Resort


(f) (f)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:03 PM
(y) (y)

Bike-friendly cities in Europe are launching a new attack on car culture. Can the U.S. catch up?

Bike-friendly cities in Europe are launching a new attack on car culture as concern about global warming intensifies. In the Netherlands and Denmark, new measures have been designed to shift bike commuting into high gear, including construction of a 10,000-bike parking garage.


May 4, 2007; Page W1

COPENHAGEN -- No one wears bike helmets here. They're afraid they'll mess up their hair. "I have a big head and I would look silly," Mayor Klaus Bondam says.

People bike while pregnant, carrying two cups of coffee, smoking, eating bananas. At the airport, there are parking spaces for bikes. In the emergency room at Frederiksberg Hospital on weekends, half the biking accidents are from people riding drunk. Doctors say the drunk riders tend to run into poles.

Flat, compact and temperate, the Netherlands and Denmark have long been havens for bikers. In Amsterdam, 40% of commuters get to work by bike. In Copenhagen, more than a third of workers pedal to their offices. But as concern about global warming intensifies -- the European Union is already under emissions caps and tougher restrictions are expected -- the two cities are leading a fresh assault on car culture. A major thrust is a host of aggressive new measures designed to shift bike commuting into higher gear, including increased prison time for bike thieves and the construction of new parking facilities that can hold up to 10,000 bikes.

The rest of Europe is paying close attention. Officials from London, Munich and Zurich (plus a handful from the U.S.) have visited Amsterdam's transportation department for advice on developing bicycle-friendly infrastructure and policies. Norway aims to raise bicycle traffic to at least 8% of all travel by 2015 -- double its current level -- while Sweden hopes to move from 12% to 16% by 2010. This summer, Paris will put thousands of low-cost rental bikes throughout the city to cut traffic, reduce pollution and improve parking.

The city of Copenhagen plans to double its spending on biking infrastructure over the next three years, and Denmark is about to unveil a plan to increase spending on bike lanes on 2,000 kilometers, or 1,240 miles, of roads. Amsterdam is undertaking an ambitious capital-improvement program that includes building a 10,000-bike parking garage at the main train station -- construction is expected to start by the end of next year. The city is also trying to boost public transportation usage, and plans to soon enforce stricter car-parking fines and increase parking fees to discourage people from driving.

Worried that immigrants might push car use up, both cities have started training programs to teach non-natives how to ride bikes and are stepping up bike training of children in schools. There are bike-only bridges under consideration and efforts to make intersections more rider-friendly by putting in special mirrors.

The policy goal is to have bicycle trips replace many short car trips, which account for 6% of total emissions from cars, according to a document adopted last month by the European Economic and Social Committee, an organization of transportation ministers from EU member countries. Another report published this year by the Dutch Cyclists' Association found that if all trips shorter than 7.5 kilometers in the Netherlands currently made by car were by bicycle, the country would reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions by 2.4 million tons. That's about one-eighth of the amount of emissions it would need to reduce to meet the Kyoto Protocol.

Officials from some American cities have made pilgrimages to Amsterdam. But in the U.S., bike commuters face more challenges, including strong opposition from some small businesses, car owners and parking-garage owners to any proposals to remove parking, shrink driving lanes or reduce speed limits. Some argue that limiting car usage would hurt business. "We haven't made the tough decisions yet," says Sam Adams, city commissioner of Portland, Ore., who visited Amsterdam in 2005. There has been some movement. Last month, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a proposal to add a congestion charge on cars and increase the number of bicycle paths in the city. It would also require commercial buildings to have indoor parking facilities for bikes.

Even in Amsterdam, not everyone is pro-biking. Higher-end shops have already moved out of the city center because of measures to decrease car traffic, says Geert-Pieter Wagenmakers, an adviser to Amsterdam's Chamber of Commerce, and now shops in the outer ring of the city are vulnerable. Bikes parked all over the sidewalk are bad for business, he adds.

Still, the new measures in Amsterdam and Copenhagen add to an infrastructure that has already made biking an integral part of life. People haul groceries in saddle bags or on handlebars and tote their children in multiple bike seats. Companies have indoor bike parking, changing rooms and on-site bikes for employees to take to meetings. Subways have bike cars and ramps next to the stairs.

Riding a bike for some has more cachet than driving a Porsche. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende sometimes rides to work, as do lawyers, CEOs (Lars Rebien Sorensen, chief executive of Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk, is famous for his on-bike persona) and members of parliament, often with empty children's seats in back. Dutch Prince Maurits van Oranje is often seen riding around town. "It's a good way to keep in touch with people on the streets," says Tjeerd Herrema, deputy mayor of Amsterdam. Mr. Herrema's car and driver still make the trip sometimes -- to chauffeur his bag when he has too much work to carry.

Jolanda Engelhamp let her husband keep her car when they split up a few years ago because it was becoming too expensive to park. Now the 47-year-old takes her second-grade son to school on the back of her bike. (It's a half-hour ride from home.) Outside the school in Amsterdam, harried moms drop off children, checking backpacks and coats; men in suits pull up, with children's seats in back, steering while talking on their cellphones. It's a typical drop-off scene, only without cars.

For Khilma van der Klugt, a 38-year-old bookkeeper, biking is more about health and convenience than concern for the environment. Her two older children ride their own bikes on the 25-minute commute to school while she ferries the four-year-old twins in a big box attached to the front of her bike. Biking gives her children exercise and fresh air in the morning, which helps them concentrate, she says. "It gets all their energy out." She owns a car, but she only uses it when the weather is really bad or she's feeling especially lazy.

Caroline Vonk, a 38-year-old government official, leaves home by bike at 8 a.m. and drops off her two children at a day-care center. By 8:15, she's on her way to work, stopping to drop clothes at the dry cleaner or to buy some rolls for lunch. On the way home, she makes a quick stop at a shop, picks up the children and is home by 5:55. "It is a pleasant way to clear my head," she says.

Teaching Newcomers

The programs for non-natives target those who view biking as a lower form of transportation than cars. "If they don't start cycling it will hurt," says Marjolein de Lange, who heads Amsterdam's pro-bicycle union Fietsersbond and has worked with local councils to set up classes for immigrant women.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, 23 women -- many in head-scarves -- gathered at a recreational center north of Amsterdam to follow seven Fietsersbond volunteers to learn to navigate through traffic. The three-hour event cost €3 (about $4) and included practice weaving in and out of orange cones and over blocks of wood. It ended with all of the women gathering in a park for cake and lemonade.

Though she faltered at times, Rosie Soemer, a 36-year-old mother of two who came to the Netherlands from Suriname, was sold. "It is so much easier to go everywhere by bike," she says. Learning to ride was her husband's idea: He bought her a bicycle for her birthday a few months earlier and has been spending his lunch hour teaching her in a park. "It helps me if she can get around better," says her husband, Sam Soemer. "And it's safer than a car."

Amsterdam and Copenhagen are generally safer for bikers than the U.S. because high car taxes and gasoline prices tend to keep sport-utility vehicles off the road. In Denmark, the tax for buying a new car is as high as 180%. Drivers must be over 18 to get a license, and the tests are so hard that most people fail the first few times. Both cities have worked to train truck drivers to look out for bikers when they turn right at intersections, and changed mirrors on vehicles and at traffic corners so they're positioned for viewing cyclists.

As bike lanes become more crowded, new measures have been added to address bike safety. A recent survey found that people in Denmark felt less safe biking, though the risk of getting killed in a bike accident there has fallen by almost half. (The number of bicyclists killed fell to 31 in 2006 from 53 in 2004, and the number seriously injured dropped to 567 from 726 in that period.) According to one emergency room's statistics, the primary reason for accidents is people being hit by car doors opening; second is cars making right-hand turns and hitting bikers at intersections; third is bike-on-bike crashes. Bike-riding police officers now routinely fine cyclists in Amsterdam who don't have lights at night.

Parking for 10,000

Amsterdam is also working to improve the lack of parking. The city built five bike-parking garages over the past five years and plans a new one every year, including one with 10,000 spaces at the central railroad station. (While there's room for 2,000 bikes now, there are often close to 4,000 bikes there.) But even garages aren't enough. Bikers usually want to park right outside wherever they're going -- they don't like parking and walking.

Combating theft is an important plank in developing a bike-friendly culture. In 2003, the city created the Amsterdam Bicycle Recovery Center, a large warehouse where illegally parked bikes are taken. (Its acronym in Dutch is AFAC.) Every bike that goes through AFAC is first checked against a list of stolen bikes. After three months, unclaimed models are registered, engraved with a serial number and sold to a second-hand shop. At any one time, the center has about 6,000 bikes neatly arranged by day of confiscation, out of an estimated total of 600,000 bikes in the city.

How AFAC will encourage bike riding in Amsterdam is a somewhat perverse logic, because it means some 200 bikes are confiscated by city officials a day compared to a handful before it existed. The thinking is that the more bikes that are confiscated, the more bikes can be registered and the better the government can trace stolen bikes. The less nervous people are that their bikes will be stolen, the more likely they are to ride. "Is your bike gone? Check AFAC first," is the center's slogan.

Remco Keyzer did just that on a recent Monday morning. The music teacher had parked his bike outside the central station before heading to a class and returned to find it gone. "I can be mad, but that really wouldn't help me," he says. Sometimes people ride away without paying the required fee. Bruno Brand, who helps people find their bikes at AFAC, says people get mad, but he explains it is the local police, not him, who confiscated the bike.

Within the past four years, the city increased the fine for buying or selling a bike in the street. Punishment for stealing a bike is now up to three months in jail.

Danish and Dutch officials say their countries might have been more congested if protests in the 1970s and 1980s had not sparked the impetus for building bicycle-lane networks. The arguments for more biking were mostly about health and congestion -- only in the past year has the environment started to be a factor. Proponents of better infrastructure point to China as an example: In Beijing, where the economy has boomed, 30.3% of people commuted to work on bikes in 2005, down 8.2% from 2000, according to a survey by the Beijing Transportation Development Research Center and Beijing Municipal Committee of Communication.

Now, the Dansk Cyklist Forbund, the Danish Cyclist's Federation, says that to make progress it can't be too confrontational and must recognize that many bikers also have cars. "Our goal is the right means of transportation for the right trips," says director Jens Loft Rasmussen.

In comparison, the rules of the American road can take some adjustment, as Cheryl AndristPlourde has found when she visits her parents in Columbus, Ohio. Last summer, the Amsterdam resident enrolled her 8-year-old daughter in a camp close to her parents' house. The plan was for her daughter, who biked to school every day back home, to walk to camp. But her daughter whined about the 10-minute walk -- all the other kids drove, she said -- and the streets were too busy for her to bike. By the third day, Ms. AndristPlourde was driving her daughter to the camp.

Bikes at the Amsterdam train station. Construction there begins soon on a 10,000-bike garage.


(y) (y) Maybe for some, but I just cannot even imagine not having an S.U.V. However, I need to fill up tomorrow before taking Wyatt to a vet appointment. Gas prices nearby are almost $4./gallon. :| :| Good thing I work via broadband Internet and have a seven year old vehicle with fewer than 23K miles. (And? It had 1,200 miles on it since it was a sales' person's demo when I bought it back in 2000.) :o :o

(f) (f)

(um) (um) May Your Smile Be Your Umbrella. (um) (um)

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:06 PM
(l) (y) (l) (y) (l) (y)

GREAT quote and article!

The Kokee forest, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, is a place of spectacular mountain crags, fertile valleys, treacherous hidden paths — and few people.

Visitors at a lookout at Waimea Canyon on Kauai Island, Hawaii. The Kokee region of the island is largely unspoiled and best experienced by hiking.


May 4, 2007

Heart of Hawaii


THE Poomau Ditch Trail hugs a mountainside, and we hiked carefully, looking down at the path so as not to take a false step and fall hundreds of feet to eternity. Gnarly ohia lehua trees lined the side away from the chasm, and abrasive blackberry bushes — not native to Hawaii, but thriving here on Kauai like so many other invasive imports — reached out their scratchy canes. Everything around us was green: mountains, canyons, tree canopy.

This was the Kokee Forest, a place of spectacular mountain crags, fertile valleys, treacherous hidden paths — and very few people. I’ve lived on Kauai for decades, but bird calls coming from the dense tropical woodland were new to me. When I mimicked them, sometimes there was a sonorous response. Off and on, we heard the rush of streams. Other times, there was no sound at all.

The trail switched back three times, leading into dank canyons and out to hot sun, and then emerged on a tip of land that seemed suspended in air over Poomau Canyon. An edge-of-the-seat view spread out before us: confluent valleys and a waterfall with double-dip pools draining from a swamp in what is one of the very wettest spots on Earth — Mount Waialeale, which averages 460 inches of rain a year. White-tailed tropicbirds with two-foot long tails cruised in the gentle wind. We were looking down on them.

Kokee (pronounced ko-KAY) is a Kauai that few tourists imagine — 20 or 30 miles from the white sand beaches that draw 1.2 million visitors a year, but wild and otherworldly, its cool, blossom-drenched inner reaches still reverberating with the ancient heartbeat of the Hawaiian Islands. Much of Kokee — the generalized name for the area including Kokee and Waimea State Parks — lies in Kauai’s no-drive zone, the mountainous northwestern quadrant of the island that has few roads and no coastal highway. Even Kauai residents rarely penetrate far into it. When someone returns from a few days there and describes the trip, the neighbors’ typical response is a low breath of respect and awe.

Kokee has not only remoteness and exotic beauty, but also a mystique — Kauaians think of it as the island’s spiritual center, where natives traditionally went to find renewal and where beleaguered indigenous plants and birds still survive. Jack London, who used Kokee as the setting for “Koolau the Leper,” a grim allegorical tale of capitalism’s invasion into Polynesia, described the place with magical atmospherics that still apply — an earthly paradise with “gorges among the jumbled peaks” and “fantastic draperies of tropic vegetation.”

Thomas Kaiakapu, wildlife manager for the Hawaii division of forestry and wildlife, described the significance this way: “All of the islands have a special place where locals go to do the gathering, to hunt pig and perform the hula. Kokee is where Kauaians go.”

Anyone willing to hike challenging trails and sleep in rustic cabins or sturdy tents can get to know Kokee. On a trip there this past winter, my wife, Chie, and I and another couple — all longtime Kauai residents — and a German visitor made it our mission to hike as many trails as possible in five days, while staying in one of the 10 barebones state cabins in Kokee State Park.

We walked amid cathedrals of magnificent koa trees; koa wood is treasured by furniture and musical-instrument makers. We examined weird mosses, huge mushrooms, colorful lantana and feathery ferns, and experienced the sounds of rare birds and the smells of exotic flowers and fragrant earth. We saw spectacular ocean and canyon vistas, and we felt at peace in a place that is both exhausting and totally refreshing.

We were lucky; the weather held out. It can rain for days straight in Kokee at any time of year, and vacationers who commit to going are wise to take along diversions. But the real magic must be experienced in Kokee’s 24-hour cycle, from when the sun emerges and warms the cold morning air to the sunset over the forbidden island of Niihau, where only the descendants of the original Hawaiians may go. We kept on the move by day, warmed ourselves in front of the fireplace in the evening, and slept deeply in the chilled mountain air — temperatures can dip into the 30s in the winter months.

Kauai is like an artichoke: you must uncover it layer by layer. Most vacationers who spend at least a few days on the island venture inward from the outermost layer — the coast and its resorts — to the much visited Waimea Canyon and Kalalau lookouts — both can be reached by car on the Kokee Road, and the first two Waimea Canyon lookouts are accessible to tour buses. Weather permitting (that is, if rain and clouds don’t intervene), the views from both of these lookouts are awe-inspiring, and the fresh air is perfectly clean and cool.

At the next layer, adventurers hike from the northwestern end of the coast road along an ancient, mountain-hugging Hawaiian trail to the beach and into the Kalalau Valley, where a stream flows until spilling out into the ocean from the sequestered Kalalau Beach. This 11-mile trek has often been featured in outdoor and hiking publications. It weaves in and out of canyons on a switchback trail that traverses the coastal cliffs.

We wanted to go deeper still into the 6,182 acres of Kokee and Waimea parks, with their thundering waterfalls, vast canyons, primeval mesic forest and unique high-altitude Alakai Swamp.

Our cabin was near what functions as downtown Kokee: an ethereal meadow, a quaint museum, a small restaurant (breakfast and lunch only) and two pay phones that provide the only lifeline to the outside world in this cellphone graveyard. We awoke to the screeching of wild chickens, a major element of Kauai wildlife. We hiked by day and returned to the cabin each night.

One memorable trail took us into the Alakai Swamp, a vast, green boglike area with stunted plants and endangered birds in the leeward shadow of Mount Waialeale. In the past, hikers there sometimes found themselves in thigh-deep mud as they slogged toward a magnificent vista of Wainiha Valley and Hanalei Bay, on the other side of the island and 75 miles away by road. Today, a grated-board trail makes walking easier.

The women in our group, Loutoa Zoller and Chie, have both practiced hula and felt a special attraction to the lush forest, where Laka, the Hawaiian goddess of the hula, dwells. The tourist-trade hula, or hula auana, with its smiling dancers and suggestive movements, is a far cry from the traditional hula kahiko, a sacred rite. Jo Manea, a hula dancer for more than 20 years and now an instructor, told us that we would find Kokee “full of Laka.”

“It’s where people from all over come to gather the seven sacred plants of hula kahiko,” she said. “We adorn her and ourselves in the plants so we can honor her.”

We felt Laka amid the 40-foot koa trees, now protected by law, and the puffy red ohia lehua blossoms, and heard her along the babbling brooks. She can be inhaled in the fragrance of the maile vines and mokihana berries.

As the oldest of the main islands, Kauai has been etched away by wind and rain to create unique microclimates that are home to a variety of indigenous flora and fauna. For instance, Kokee is home to birds that still live because the mosquitoes bearing avian malaria and other diseases can’t exist at its cool elevation. This environment, and dozens of native species of birds, are endangered by feral animals that chew and trample and wallow in the vegetation.

ONLY rarely in our days on Kokee’s trails did we meet anyone else in the forest. On our most adventurous hike, deep in the woods, we strolled along a fairy-tale mountainside trail, picking and eating lilikoi (passion fruit), guava and other wild fruits, and were suddenly engulfed by a sea of tail-wagging retrievers. Close behind was Jim Cassel, a local hunter looking for wild pigs — a cross between pigs introduced by the Polynesians centuries ago and the European boar.

Hawaii suffers from many misconceptions on the part of outsiders, one being that it’s a wonderful thing that most everything thrives and grows easily there. But the operative word is “everything.” Insects, rodents, invasive plants, molds and fungi have destroyed many of the original plants and birds. Wild goats, introduced in Kauai by Capt. James Vancouver in 1792, eat fragile plants to extinction. So do the blacktail deer first imported from Oregon in 1961.

The pig not only roots and digs, exposing virgin soil to invasive species, but disperses seeds from undesirable plants as it travels. It is this part of the “everything” growing here that must be culled if the native species are to have any chance of survival. The hunters are happy to help, finding the pigs fun to chase and good to eat.

Kokee is absorbed in a give-and-take about the future of the state parks. Locals chafed at early proposals for a 40-to-60-room hotel, a helicopter pad, more parking areas and wider roads to allow large buses. Proposals and public hearings continue.

The future is uncertain, but for now, aside from the damage inflicted by the imported plants and animals, much of Kokee still remains untouched, even occasionally dangerous. Hikers should never go off-trail. Even seasoned hikers have slipped, become lost or fallen through a hole under a fern bed and never been found. We were Kokee veterans, but we still needed constant mapping references and weather assessments.

Yet it was magical. This, we found, was a place to get high on life in some of its richest natural forms — and on the oxygen of unpolluted air in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This was the domain of Laka.

Walks And Vistas: Using the Car Is Just the Start

KOKEE is accessible by car from the west side of Kauai, via the Kokee Road or the steeper Waimea Canyon Road. “Downtown,” the main visitor area of Kokee State Park, is reached from a driveway at Mile 15 of the Kokee Road. Guides and relevant information on trails and park conditions can be picked up there, at the Lodge at Kokee, which is a small restaurant open daily for breakfast and lunch and a gift shop, or at the rustic Kokee Natural History Museum next door, open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information is available at www.kokee.org.

The museum is an excellent primer for the area. Though small, it presents a number of scientific and natural exhibits, including a three-dimensional map of Kauai, and has a well-stocked book rack.

To rent a cabin (they start at about $95 a night and are best reserved well in advance), contact the Lodge at Kokee (808-335-6061; www.thelodgeatkokee.net). There are also four state campgrounds in Kokee and Waimea State Parks, and some hikers backpack and camp in the woods.

Many trails are best reached by hiking more than one day or by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Visitors who do not have their own trucks or S.U.V.’s will be limited by rental car companies’ strictures against taking their vehicles off-road.

(l) (l) (l) Kauai ROCKS! Since it is filled with folks who LIVE there year-round, when I visited, it felt really laid back with the residents being extremely friendly and welcoming to tourists like me. The local mom and pop places were wonderful! (l) (l)

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:07 PM
:o :o

An emergency food supply can make an unplanned tarmac delay, if not pleasant, at least bearable.

May 1, 2007

Trail Mix Isn’t Just for Hikers


As tarmac-sitting stories mount and the Transportation Department investigates the possibility of unrealistic flight schedules, nutrition experts are in agreement: carry-on food is crucial for business travelers.

This is not because extra, unplanned hours without food or water can be fatal. Most adults can survive at least three days without water and about three weeks without food, according to the “Rule of 3’s in Survival” on the Federal Emergency Management Agency Web site. It is because anxiety can stimulate hunger and thirst, and unquenched needs can turn an unpleasant event to misery.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” said Nancy Clark, a registered dietitian in Chestnut Hill, Mass., who has written books about the nutrition needs of distance cyclists, marathon runners and other athletes. “It’s always wise to have emergency food with you.”

Bonnie Taub-Dix, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association who has, on occasion, found herself at meetings with no food or drink provided, takes a more self-sufficient view. “Never count on anyone, that’s the bottom line.”

“If you’re traveling and going to a meeting, you want to be fresh,” she said. “If you have to give a presentation, already you’re not in a relaxed position. If there’s a delay in traveling, it could be stressful. The likelihood is that you won’t be comfortable. You won’t sleep.”

At best, she said, a food kit can help travelers fuel themselves so that they can think clearly. With little prompting, she recited in detail a February business trip to Athens that stretched into a 35-hour ordeal, including 10 hours on the tarmac with no food or water provided by the airline. But she and another spokeswoman at the association, Tara Gidus, were in better shape than many on the plane: They had their stash.

Ms. Gidus, a registered dietitian in the Orlando area, said that an emergency food kit can also serve another function: It helps travelers hold their tempers. “Stress brings out the worst in people, and couple that with hunger — there were people who were very upset.”

Sharon R. Akabas, a nutrition professor at Columbia University, said it was an issue of perception. “Someone trapped on the tarmac isn’t in danger compared to someone trapped in the snow on Mount Hood,” she said. “But ask those people on the plane in the seventh hour, or the 11th hour, and they may not feel any differently.”

But beyond a few intensely personal comfort foods — lemon drops, or say, Twizzlers — what is best in an emergency food kit?

There is a Plan A, which is making food at home and packing it in your bag — those are the best intentions, said Dawn Jackson Blatner, also a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, a cooking instructor and a registered dietitian at the Wellness Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “That’s when you have full control. You know portions, you pack whole grains, and one-ounce baggies of nuts.”

And there’s Plan B, when people cannot get it together, but seek out healthy foods in the airport — pieces of fruit (the fiber and water contribute to a long-lasting feeling of satiety), whole-grain granola bars or nuts.

Additionally, government regulations now limit travelers to only as many three-ounce bottles of liquid as they can stuff in a one-quart zip-lock bag. So buying a couple of 16-ounce bottles of water, or yogurt, is best left until after the security line. Otherwise, inspiration comes from hikers, campers, runners, cyclists and climbers — all of whom want nutrient-dense foods that take up little space and require no refrigeration. And nutrition experts say travelers could throw in a little extra to share with a testy seatmate or flight attendant.

For Ms. Taub-Dix, the standout travel food is peanut butter, whether on whole-grain bread and packed at home, or bought in ¾-ounce portions and used as a dip for crackers. “It’s one food that feels like it’s decadent, but it really is great, and very satisfying.”

Ms. Clark agreed, saying that she packs two peanut butter sandwiches before every trip. “It’s cheap and tasty. If it squishes, it’s still edible — a nice security blanket.”

Nutrition bars, once the domain of runners, are portable food and for some, can rival peanut butter in comfort, as long as they provide a balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat, Ms. Taub-Dix said. She had one stowed away for her Greek odyssey, along with a bag containing mixed nuts and dried fruit (her favorites are roasted almonds, cashews and dried apricots).

Other items in an emergency food kit can include processed cheese, dried meats (jerky-style products), popcorn, and trail mix. A traveler can add bits of almost any finger food to the basics of nuts and dried fruits: coconut, dry cereal, pretzels, even chocolate (plain or wrapped around nuts), which makes nearly everyone’s list.

“Chocolate? I had some of that,” said Ms. Gidus, recalling her trip to Greece in the first few months of her pregnancy. “It’s one of those stress foods — it relaxes people, and it brings comfort, and it’s high-energy as well.”

Once the emergency food kit is assembled, add a few nonfood items: hand sanitizer (in the government-regulated tiny bottles), moist towelettes, travel-size board games and a deck of cards.

And if the time comes that tarmac-sitting is required, surviving the experience with dignity begins with a good attitude, and the discipline of rationing the resources. “Some people see food as an annoyance, or a pain,” Ms. Clark said. “Get in the mindset that it’s fuel, and people need fuel every four hours.” That, she said, can make the difference.

For Ms. Taub-Dix, it did. “I bought a bottle of water. I had my snacks. I had my laptop. Food, clothing, shelter,” she said, reciting a variation of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. “I didn’t have love, but I had my phone. And my BlackBerry. I was happy I was taken care of.”

(y) (y) (y)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:08 PM
(f) (f)

As any aspiring writer knows, sometimes the only route to productivity is escapism. Luckily, there are plenty of workshops and conferences this summer to supply it.

May 4, 2007

Ahead | Writers’ Workshops

Where Words Go to Work and Play


AS any aspiring writer knows, sometimes the only route to productivity is escapism. Luckily, there are plenty of workshops and conferences around to supply it — and simultaneously offer not only inspiration but practical advice. Usually held in seaside cities and resort towns or on bucolic college campuses, these writers’ programs can be found year-round. But the summertime crop takes authors to particularly seductive spots.

“Our location is the key thing that sets us apart,” said Dorothy Antczak, director of the Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program in Provincetown, Mass., which runs weeklong workshops for poets, memoirists, playwrights and fiction writers (as well as visual artists) from mid-June through August. Daily sessions — led by writers like the poet Rafael Campo, the novelist Maria Flook and the playwright Wendy Kesselman — typically end in mid-afternoon. That leaves plenty of time to take inspiration from the Cape Cod National Seashore and the town’s literary legacy — a long line of heavyweights from Norman Mailer and Michael Cunningham to Stanley Kunitz have produced work in Provincetown.

The work center limits each workshop to 10 students. “It’s a real community here for the week,” Ms. Antczak said. “You tend to get a lot of feedback and support.”

That’s the goal of most writers’ workshops. Where they differ is in structure, schedule and class size, and price — conferences typically cost about $600 to $2,000, exclusive of transportation, meals and lodging.

The Maui Writers Conference and Retreat, one of the largest, draws about 500 people from the United States, Australia, Japan and England for a series of lectures and workshops. The conference is the networking side of the week, meant to guide writers through the complex world of publication. Authors — this year including Dorothy Allison, W. S. Merwin, Jacquelyn Mitchard and Michael Arndt — take turns leading the sessions.

The retreat element is about working on the craft of writing and having work critiqued in a classroom setting. Writers must apply for admission. “We have people who have been published, as well as those who are just starting their first book,” said Renee Sakurada, a planner of the event.

Also welcoming writers of varying abilities is the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. Some participants, said Marcia Meier, the director, “come back year after year for motivation, inspiration and to see friends.” One woman, she added, “has been coming for 20 years and actually met her husband here, and they wrote a book together before he died.”

Santa Barbara offers workshops, master classes for experienced writers, panels of agents and editors, individual manuscript reviews and a program for teenage authors. Guest speakers this year will include Carolyn See (“There Will Never Be Another You”), Gregory Maguire (“Wicked”) and Ray Bradbury, who has spoken at every conference since the program began 35 years ago. “He just talks about love and writing, and it’s really motivating,” Ms. Meier said.

The Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference in July, which takes over the Southampton Stony Brook Campus a few miles from the dune-edged Hamptons beaches, is competitive, with acceptance based on writing samples. Participants will settle in for 12 days of intensive workshops in poetry, playwriting, fiction and creative nonfiction, and events including lectures and an open-microphone night. This year’s staff includes Frank McCourt, Melissa Banks, Billy Collins and Robert Reeves.

July also brings the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, another by-admittance-only conference, at Reed College in Portland, Ore. “We’ve been more selective lately, especially with fiction writers,” said Emily Bliquez, the director, adding that 400 applications are expected for 175 slots.

Begun in 2003 and borrowing its name from Tin House literary magazine (bearing the nickname of its Portland office, a Victorian house with corrugated zinc siding), the conference is based on the high standards of well-established writers’ programs like the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont in July and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference in Tennessee in August, deadlines for which have already passed. The Tin House panelists and readers will include Annie Proulx, T. C. Boyle, Charles Baxter, Colson Whitehead and Dorothy Allison.

“We keep people busy, but it’s sort of a leisurely atmosphere on a beautiful quad area,” Ms. Bliquez said. “It’s like a vacation college.”



What: Fine Arts Workshop Summer Program (www.fawc.org; $600 to $725 for each weeklong workshop).

When: June 17 to Aug. 24. No reservation deadline.


What: Santa Barbara Writers Conference (www.sbwritersconference.com; $825).

When: June 22 to 29. May 15 deadline.


What: Tin House Summer Writers Workshop (www.tinhouse.com/workshop; $1,000 to $1,100).

When: July 8 to 15. No deadline.


What: Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference (www.stonybrook.edu/writers; $1,450 or $2,050 with lodging and meals).

When: July 18 to 29. May 15 deadline.


What: Maui Writers Retreat & Conference (www.mauiwriters.com; conference $695, retreat $1,295).

When: Retreat, Aug. 25 to 31; conference, Aug. 31 to Sept. 3. No deadline.

(y) (y) (y) (y) (y)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:11 PM

Some of the million or so cattle that graze in the Flint Hills’ pastures, once the domain of buffalo, can be seen from the Flint Hills Scenic Byway in Kansas.


May 4, 2007

American Journeys

Old Kansas, Still Growing Tall


THINK all of Kansas is flat? Think again. The Flint Hills, in the eastern part of the state, fan out over 183 miles from north to south, stretching 30 to 40 miles wide in parts, the land folding into itself, then popping up in gentle bumps, with mounds looming far off on the horizon. Seemingly endless, the landscape offers up isolated images — a wind-whipped cottonwood tree, a rusted cattle pen, a spindly windmill, an abandoned limestone schoolhouse, the metal-gated entrance to a hilltop cemetery.

Proud of the region’s beauty, Kansas has seen to it that 48 miles of its Highway 177, leading through the heart of the hills, are designated the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway. This stretch starts about 50 miles northeast of Wichita and leads north to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, one of the few places left in the United States where a visitor can see the grasses that once covered so much of the American heartland.

While up to a million head of cattle graze each summer in the Flint Hills’ rolling pastures, they’re long gone from Wichita, a metropolitan area of half a million people, at the confluence of two narrow curving rivers. But when a strong dusty wind blows through, it’s a reminder of the city’s roots as a wild cow town.

The Flint Hills Scenic Byway winds through almost treeless rolling land where bison once roamed; they have been replaced by prairie chickens, great blue herons, coyote, deer, collared lizards, bobcats and, of course, cattle.

The route starts in the tiny ranch town of Cassoday (population 130), where the dirt Main Street has a few weathered 19th-century wooden buildings housing an antiques store and a cafe popular with cowboys, truck drivers and bikers. It then goes through a handful of small towns and past the tallgrass prairie preserve to Council Grove, a former staging area on the Santa Fe Trail.

But what this ribbon of a highway offers most is wide-open space. For dramatic effect, visit at sunset when the sky is awash in reds, purples and blues.

Of late, tourist amenities have been beefed up in the Flint Hills, especially in Chase County, made famous by William Least Heat-Moon’s 1991 book “PrairyErth.” In Cottonwood Falls, with about 1,000 residents, the two-block shopping district is dominated by the grand Chase County Courthouse, the oldest county courthouse (1873) still in use in Kansas (though it is closing today for renovation). Made of native honey-hued limestone with a red mansard roof, it resembles a small chateau.

(The hills are named after another native stone, flintlike chert that Indians used to make tools. Many artifacts have been found at area quarries.)

In small shops along Broadway Street, a bumpy road paved in red brick, you can find Western gear at Jim Bell & Son, antiques and art at the Gallery of Cottonwood Falls, and bison burger and chicken-fried steak dinners ($6.95) at the Emma Chase Cafe.

One of the town’s biggest annual events took place last month, the weeklong Prairie Fire Festival, paying tribute to the annual controlled burning to clear out old dry grass and promote new growth, an astonishing sight of flames sweeping through the hills. But near Cottonwood Falls, there are guided tours of the high open hills available now on foot, horseback, four-wheel all-terrain vehicle and 19th-century covered wagon.

Kansas Flint Hills Adventures offers two-hour tallgrass prairie interpretive tours, wildflower tours and trail rides led by a naturalist who expounds on local history, cowboy culture, American Indian traditions, plants and animals.

WANNA-BE cowboys can help out with the chores (or not) at the Flying W Ranch, a 10,000-acre, fifth-generation, working cattle ranch to the west of the byway, off Route 50 in the one-building town of Clements. It offers modern bunkhouse lodging, chuck wagon meals, trail rides, longhorn-roping demonstrations and sunset rides in a 1959 Ford wheat truck.

In the summer and early fall, weekend pioneers can pick up the Flint Hills Overland Wagon Train in Council Grove. Riders camp overnight and are duly fed several “pioneer meals” cooked over an open fire. Saturday night’s entertainment is a performance of cowboy songs and poems.

About 18,000 people a year visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, two miles north of Cottonwood Falls. It includes 10,894 acres of an almost-lost ecosystem that once covered 400,000 square miles of North America’s midsection.

The Flint Hills in Kansas — and in Oklahoma — are North America’s largest remaining tract of tallgrass prairie. The preserve is at its full glory in late spring, when yellow, white, purple and blue wildflowers pop up amid a sea of green grass. The grass is tallest — about waist high — in the fall.

The preserve has over 16 miles of hiking trails through grass dotted with black-eyed susans and coneflowers, groundplum milkvetch and plains indigo. You can take a bus tour or roam around the 1881 hilltop ranch, with a limestone mansion and an impressive three-story barn. Even there, the Flint Hills feel untrampled and unharnessed, quiet enough for a lawless wind to be heard rustling the leaves and grass, producing the unexpected sound of the seashore, of crashing waves and blowing sand.

Only 85 miles away, where the land flattens into the kind of pancake terrain more expected in Kansas, is the busy city of Wichita, which once served as a stopover for cowboys driving cattle along the Chisholm Trail from Texas to northern Kansas railheads. Wyatt Earp corralled horse thieves there.

Today, Wichita is the largest city in Kansas. Airplane-building is a major industry, with five manufacturers, including Boeing and Cessna. A hotel where Carrie Nation smashed whiskey bottles and threw billiard balls is now a loft and shopping complex in Old Town, a gentrified warehouse district.

Two rivers — the Arkansas and the Little Arkansas — meet downtown and the surest way to be exposed as an outsider is to mispronounce them. Kansans, understandably, say Ar-KAN-zis not AR-kan-saw. At the confluence of these sleepy Plains streams, near where the Wichita tribe lived, looms the Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot tall sculpture of a Native American. Not surprisingly, Wichita’s big annual event is Riverfest, nine days of concerts, boat races and fireworks — and runs this year from May 11 to 19.

The gentle Little Arkansas winds through a quiet residential neighborhood where cottonwood trees shade the riverbanks and people stroll through 118-acre Riverside Park, which fills grassy pockets between the river’s bends. Local bohemians hang out at Riverside Perk, a ramshackle coffeehouse with a cowboy/South Seas/leopard lounge/Salvation Army design aesthetic.

Several museums overlook the rivers, the most architecturally arresting being Exploration Place, a science center designed by Moshe Safdie with curvy chunks of poured-concrete that swoop up from the river. Inside are Kansas-themed exhibits — about planes, tornados, the wind and prairies — and “Kansas in Miniature,” a 1950s-era diorama that fills a 2,800-square-foot room. Accompanied by lighting, animation and sound effects, it offers an engaging presentation of Kansas history, with 125 scale models of classic buildings from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s childhood home in Abilene to a humble oilfield worker’s house, plus distinctive Kansas landscapes, including the Flint Hills.

For nightlife, locals flock to Old Town, begun in the 1990s with the renovation of red brick warehouses on brick streets, and dominated by restaurants, bars and theaters. A more quirky option is out on the range, at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper, a popular western dinner-and-show 15 miles east of Wichita in Benton, opened in 1999 by struggling cattle farmers trying to hold onto their 600-acre, five-generation family ranch.

The drive takes you past fields of wheat, corn, soybeans and grain sorghum, past round hay bales dotting pastures, past what could be Dorothy’s house before she was swept off to Oz. The all-you-can-eat meal is delicious (especially the smoked barbecue brisket); the food is served inside a recreated opera hall that’s blissfully air-conditioned and fly-free; and the cowboy music is performed by a talented, corny-joke-cracking foursome whose repertory includes “Red River Valley” and “I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore.”


THE Flint Hills area of Kansas runs north to south through several counties of eastern Kansas, in an area once covered with native grasses. A tour there leads naturally to Wichita, the state’s largest city, to the southwest.

Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve (620-273-8494; www.nps.gov/tapr) offers ranger-guided prairie bus tours ($5) through October.

Kansas Flint Hills Adventures (620-342-2625, www.kansasflinthillsadventures.com) offers tours and rides year round; $60 a person for a two-hour trip, with a two-person minimum.

Visits to the Flying W Ranch (620-274-4357, www.flying-w-ranch.net) can include modern bunkhouse lodging ($45 a person), chuck wagon meals ($25) and a sunset tour ($10). Another nearby lodging option is the Clover Cliff Ranch (Highway 50, Elmdale; 800-457-7406; www.clovercliff.com) with rooms from $95 to $180.

Flint Hills Overland Wagon Train Trips ( 316-321-6300; www.wagontrainkansas.com; $170) are offered several weekends between June and early October.

In Cottonwood Falls, the 19th-century Grand Central Hotel (215 Broadway Street; 620-273-6763; www.grandcentralhotel.com) has rooms from $150 to $180. Its white-tablecloth restaurant serves hefty Kansas steaks ($16 to $28).

In Wichita’s warehouse district, the Hotel at Old Town (830 East First Street North; 316-267-4800; www.hotelatoldtown.com) is a former warehouse built in 1906 with 115 rooms from $109 to $295. Nearby are restaurants aplenty.

For lunch or (on Saturday only) breakfast ($4.50 for biscuits and gravy, a Kansas classic), visit the 75-year-old Old Mill Tasty Shop (604 East Douglas Avenue; 316-264-6500), which has a gorgeous marble soda fountain and vintage Wichita photos. For dinner, the Larkspur Restaurant (904 East Douglas Avenue; 316-262-5275), serves Kansas beef ($24 for a 14-ounce Kansas City strip) and not-from-Kansas seafood ($19 for grilled salmon.) Riverside Perk (1144 North Bitting Avenue; 316-264-6464) is an artsy hangout.

Wichita museums include Exploration Place (300 North McLean Boulevard; 316-263-3373; www.exploration.org; $8) and Wichita Art Museum (1400 West Museum Boulevard; 316-268-4921; www.wichitaartmuseum.org; $5).

At the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper in Benton (316-778-2121; www.prairierosechuckwagon.com), dinner and a show are $25.

:) I never would have ever considered a few days off to kick back and relax in this state because of the state's extremely conservative political leanings. Still, it was a nice virtual trip via the article. ;)


Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:12 PM
(y) (y)

May 2, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Better Never Than Late


Instead of George Tenet teaching at Georgetown University, George Tenet should be taught at Georgetown University.

There should be a course on government called “The Ultimate Staff Guy.” A morality saga about how much harm you can do as a go-along, get-along guy, spending so much time trying not to alienate the big cheese so he doesn’t can you that you miss the moment where you have to can him or lose your soul.

If Colin Powell and George Tenet had walked out of the administration in February 2003 instead of working together on that tainted U.N. speech making the bogus case for war, they might have turned everything around. They might have saved the lives and limbs of all those brave U.S. kids and innocent Iraqis, not to mention our world standing and national security.

It would certainly have been harder for timid Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and John Edwards, to back up the administration if two members of the Bush inner circle had broken away to tell an increasingly apparent truth: that Dick Cheney, Rummy and the neocons were feverishly pushing a naïve president into invading Iraq with junk facts.

General Powell counted on Slam Dunk — a slender reed — to help him rid the speech of most of the garbage Mr. Cheney’s office wanted in it. Slam, of course, tried to have it both ways, helping the skeptical secretary of state and pandering to higher bosses. Afterward, when the speech turned out to be built on a no-legged stool, General Powell was furious at Slam. But they both share blame: they knew better. They put their loyalty to a runaway White House ahead of their loyalty to a fearful public.

Slam Dunk’s book tour is mesmerizing, in a horrifying way.

“The irony of the whole situation is, is he was bluffing,” Slam said of Saddam on “Larry King Live” on Monday night, adding, “And he didn’t know we weren’t.” Mr. He-Man Tenet didn’t understand the basics of poker, much less Arab culture. It never occurred to him that Saddam might feign strength to flex muscles at his foes in the Middle East? Slam couldn’t take some of that $40 billion we spend on intelligence annually and get a cultural profile of the dictator before we invaded?

If he was really running around with his hair on fire, knowing the Osama danger, shouldn’t he have set off alarms when W. and Vice went after Saddam instead of the real threat?

Many people in Washington snorted at his dramatic cloak-and-dagger description of himself to Larry King: “I worked in the shadows my whole life.”

He was not Jason Bourne, lurking in dangerous locales. He risked life and limb on Capitol Hill among the backstabbers and cutthroat bureaucrats — from whom he obviously learned a lot. He spent nine years on the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, four as staff director. When Bill Clinton appointed him to run the C.I.A. in 1997, the profile of him in The Times was headlined “A Time to Reap the Rewards of Being Loyal.” It observed that old colleagues had said “he had an ability to make many different superiors feel at ease with him.”

Six former C.I.A. officials sent Mr. Tenet a letter via his publisher — no wonder we’re in trouble if spooks can’t figure out the old Head Spook’s home address — berating him for pretending he wrote his self-serving book partly to defend the honor of the agency and demanding that “at least half” of the profits be given to wounded soldiers and the families of dead soldiers (there needs to be a Son of Slam law). One of the signers, Larry Johnson, told CNN that Slam “is profiting from the blood of American soldiers.”

“By your silence you helped build the case for war,” the former C.I.A. officials wrote. “You betrayed the C.I.A. officers who collected the intelligence that made it clear that Saddam did not pose an imminent threat. You betrayed the analysts who tried to withstand the pressure applied by Cheney and Rumsfeld.”

They also said, “Although C.I.A. officers learned in late September 2002 from a high-level member of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle that Iraq had no past or present contact with Osama bin Laden and that the Iraqi leader considered Bin Laden an enemy ... you still went before Congress in February 2003 and testified that Iraq did indeed have links to Al Qaeda. ...

“In the end you allowed suspect sources, like Curveball, to be used based on very limited reporting and evidence.” They concluded that “your tenure as head of the C.I.A. has helped create a world that is more dangerous. ... It is doubly sad that you seem still to lack an adequate appreciation of the enormous amount of death and carnage you have facilitated.”

Thus endeth the lesson in our class on “The Ultimate Staff Guy.” If you have something deadly important to say, say it when it matters, or just shut up and slink off.

(y) (y)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:13 PM
(y) (y) (y) (y) (y) (y) (y)

May 3, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

An Invisible War


Paul Rieckhoff looked across the crowded restaurant, which was not far from Times Square.

“During World War II,” he said, “we could be in this place and there would be a guy sitting at that table who was in the war, or the bartender had been in the war. Everybody you saw would have had a stake in the war. But right now you could walk around New York for blocks and not find anybody who has been in Iraq.

“The president can say we’re a country at war all he wants. We’re not. The military is at war. And the military families are at war. Everybody else is shopping.”

Mr. Rieckhoff is an imposing six-foot-two-inch, 245-pound former infantry officer who joined the military after graduating from Amherst College. When he came home from a harrowing tour in Iraq in 2004, he vowed to do what he could to serve the interests of the men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan but have never fully gotten the support they deserve from the government or the public at large.

He wrote a book, “Chasing Ghosts,” which is now out in paperback, and he formed a powerful veterans’ advocacy organization called Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Mr. Rieckhoff is not bitter. He’s actually funny and quite engaging (and a good writer). But he has very little tolerance for the negligence and incompetence the government has shown in equipping the troops and fighting the war in Iraq, and he is frustrated by the short shrift that he feels the troops get from the media and the vast majority of Americans.

There’s a gigantic and extremely disturbing disconnect, he says, between the experiences of the men and women in uniform and the perspective of people here at home. “We have a very diverse membership in I.A.V.A.,” he said. “We’ve got Republicans and Democrats and everything in between. But one of the key things we all have in common is this frustration with the detachment that we see all around us, this idea that we’re at war and everybody else is watching ‘American Idol.’

“I think that’s one of the main reasons why so many guys want to go back to Iraq. They come home and feel like: ‘Man, I don’t fit in here. You know, I’m out of place.’ ” Even though there’s never been a clear statement of the military’s mission in Iraq, and the goals have shifted from month to month and year to year, the soldiers and marines who have been sent there have felt that they were carrying out an important task on behalf of the nation.

“It’s tough to have such a serious sense of commitment,” Mr. Rieckhoff said, “and then come home and see so many people focused on such frivolous things. So I think that frustration is serious and growing. And I’ll tell you the truth: I blame the president for that. One of the biggest criticisms of the president, and I hear this across the board, is that he hasn’t asked the American people to do anything.”

Mr. Rieckhoff is convinced that if the public heard more from the soldiers and marines who have actually experienced combat, including those who have been wounded and suffered emotional trauma, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be viewed more seriously. Part of the problem, he said, is that too many civilians have little or no understanding of what war is really like, and of the toll it takes beyond the obvious toll of the dead and wounded.

Among other things, there are family problems, drug and alcohol abuse, untreated post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide — all directly attributable to service in a war zone. “Incredibly,” he writes in his book, “no government agency keeps track of the number of veterans who kill themselves after their service has ended — another sign of how little value is placed on veterans’ long-term well-being.”

I mentioned a young soldier I had interviewed in 2005 who worried that because he had killed three insurgents during a battle in Iraq he might not be “allowed into heaven.” The soldier wondered whether he had “done the right thing.”

Mr. Rieckhoff nodded. “Asking somebody to die for their country might not be the biggest thing you can ask,” he said. “Asking my guys to kill, on my orders — as an officer, that’s difficult. I’m telling that kid to squeeze that round off and take a man’s life. And then he’s got that baggage for the rest of his life. That’s what you have to live with.”

I signaled for the check and we left the restaurant. It was a beautiful, sunlit afternoon. New Yorkers were smiling and enjoying the spring weather. There was no sign of a war anywhere.

(y) (y)

Damnant quodnon intelligunt. (They condemn what they do not understand.)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:14 PM
:o :o :o

May 4, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

The Aussie ‘Big Dry’


SYDNEY, Australia

Almost everywhere you travel these days, people are talking about their weather — and how it has changed. Nowhere have I found this more true, though, than in Australia, where “the big dry,” a six-year record drought, has parched the Aussie breadbasket so severely that on April 19, Prime Minister John Howard actually asked the whole country to pray for rain. “I told people you have to pray for rain,” Mr. Howard remarked to me, adding, “I said it without a hint of irony.”

And here’s what’s really funny: It actually started to rain! But not enough, which is one reason Australia is about to have its first election in which climate change will be a top issue. In just 12 months, climate change has gone from being a nonissue here to being one that could tip the vote.

In the process, Prime Minister John Howard, a conservative now in his 11th year in office, has moved from being a climate skeptic to what he calls a “climate realist,” who knows that he must offer programs to reduce global-warming greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, but wants to do it without economic pain or imposed targets, like Kyoto’s. He is proposing emissions trading and nuclear power.

The Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd, proposes a hard target — a 60 percent reduction in Australian CO2 emissions from 2000 levels by 2050 — and subsidies for Aussies to retrofit their homes with energy-saving systems. The whole issue has come from the bottom up, and it has come on so quickly that neither party can be sure it has its finger on the public’s pulse.

“What was considered left a year ago is now center, and in six months it will be conservative — that is how quickly the debate about climate change is moving here,” said Michael Roux, chairman of RI Capital, a Melbourne investment firm. “It is being led by young people around the dinner table with their parents, and the C.E.O.’s and politicians are all playing catch-up.”

I asked Mr. Howard how it had happened. “It was a perfect storm,” he said. First came a warning from Nicholas Stern of Britain, who said climate change was not only real but could be economically devastating for Australia. Then the prolonged drought forced Mr. Howard to declare last month that “if it doesn’t rain in sufficient volume over the next six to eight weeks, there will be no water allocations for irrigation purposes” until May 2008 for crops and cattle in the Murray-Darling river basin, which accounts for 41 percent of Australian agriculture.

It was as if the pharaoh had banned irrigation from the Nile. Australians were shocked. Then the traditional Australian bush fires, which usually come in January, started in October because everything was so dry. Finally, in the middle of all this, Al Gore came to Australia and showed his film, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“The coincidence of all those things ... shifted the whole debate,” Mr. Howard said. While he tends to focus on the economic costs of acting too aggressively on climate change, his challenger, Mr. Rudd, has been focusing on the costs of not acting. Today, Mr. Rudd said, Australian businesses are demanding that the politicians “get a regulatory environment settled” on carbon emissions trading so companies know what framework they will have to operate in — because they know change is coming.

When you look at the climate debate around the world, remarked Peter Garrett, the former lead singer for the Australian band Midnight Oil, who now heads the Labor Party’s climate efforts, there are two kinds of conservatives. The ones like George Bush and John Howard, he said, deep down remain very skeptical about environmentalism and climate change “because they have been someone else’s agenda for so long,” but they also know they must now offer policies to at least defuse this issue politically.

And then there are conservatives like Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Cameron, the Tory Party leader in London, who understand that climate is becoming a huge defining issue and actually want to take it away from liberals by being more forward-leaning than they are.

In short, climate change is the first issue in a long time that could really scramble Western politics. Traditional conservatives can now build bridges to green liberals; traditional liberals can make common cause with green businesses; young climate voters are newly up for grabs. And while coal-mining unions oppose global warming restrictions, service unions, which serve coastal tourist hotels, need to embrace them. You can see all of this and more in Australia today.

Politics gets interesting when it stops raining.

(y) (y) INDEED!

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:16 PM
:| :| :| :| :|

May 3, 2007


Unwanted Folk

Joan Baez sang at Woodstock. If you recognize either name, you probably already knew that. If you don’t, go to Google, then come back and help us puzzle something out.

Why would the Army be afraid of her?

Last Friday, John Mellencamp gave a concert for injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Ms. Baez, a friend who’d been invited by Mr. Mellencamp, did not. She was barred by Army brass, supposedly because of the lateness of the invitation, although Mr. Mellencamp’s camp suggested it was because she was considered objectionable.

Objectionable for what? To whom?

Mr. Mellencamp and Ms. Baez are both politically outspoken. Both have denounced the Iraq war. Yet Mr. Mellencamp’s activism is the kind the Army could more easily overlook. He wears a T-shirt and jeans and sings songs so down-home, so red, white and blue, that you could use them to sell Chevy trucks, which Mr. Mellencamp has actually done. “Let’s forget about any problems we might have and let’s just have a good time,” Mr. Mellencamp told his audience in what The Washington Post reported was a rousing and apolitical show.

Although Ms. Baez is as much of an activist as ever — she camped in a tree last year to stop the bulldozing of an urban farm — she would probably have shown similar tact. In a letter in The Post yesterday, she said she regretted not having given soldiers a better welcome home from Vietnam, and would have loved to sing at Walter Reed.

What is astounding is that somebody apparently could not get past the image of willowy Joan singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” nearly 40 years ago and thought troops so young they wouldn’t know Mimi Fari&#241;a from Cream of Wheat couldn’t or wouldn’t abide her presence.

They say generals are always fighting the last war. But Vietnam was two wars ago, three if you count the war on terror.

:| :| :| :| :|

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:22 PM
;) ;)

SUN-KISSED Malibu Barbie, born in 1971, and a newer powder.


LIQUID GOLD A new spate of fake-tanning products are out, started by Jergens Natural Glow, introduced in 2005.


May 3, 2007

Skin Deep

Beware the Afterglow


YEARS before Ursula Andress, the Swiss actress who was the first Bond girl, emerged from the waves in “Dr. No” with her caramel skin offset by a blindingly white bikini, the tan had taken hold as the abiding fashion image.

A honey-glowing face and a body that is buff and bronzed had come to conjure up associations of beauty, leisure and upper-class privilege: of exotic private beaches, robust games of tennis, long afternoons aboard a yacht and, of course, the healthy-looking afterglow of exercise or sex.

Even in the 25 years since medical groups began warning that ultraviolet irradiation can lead to skin cancer as well as to dire consequences for the appearance-conscious — wrinkles! — tan-looking skin has remained an iconic beauty image, promoted by fashion magazines, advertisements and celebrities.

But the chic method of acquiring a tan has shifted. With sunbathing and tanning beds deemed risky, some doctors, magazines and beauty companies are promoting the idea of a “sunless” tan begat by cosmetics as the safe alternative to UV irradiation.

And so simulated tanning is booming. This month, cosmetics brands are introducing new artificial bronzing agents including sprays, lotions, mousses, powders and towelettes into a market that is already brimming with products. Meanwhile, fashion magazines are enthusing over the fake tan with buzzwords like sun-kissed, radiant, natural-looking, tawny, healthy and glowing.

“We are being inundated with the look of a woman of leisure who has a beautiful glow, whether from a sunless tanner or a bronzer,” said Karen Grant, the senior beauty industry analyst for the NPD Group, a market research firm. “The marketing theme is that the products can give you the same glow that the sun can provide without the risks of going out into the sun.”

Indeed, the notion of a safe, healthy sunless tan is making Malibu Barbie the retro icon of the season.

But some researchers who study the skin are worried that promulgating the simulated tan as a beauty ideal is simply perpetuating an image that is fundamentally linked to risky behavior. The concern is that the fashion for a bronzed look, even a cosmetically induced one, may encourage young women to seek a tanned appearance at any cost.

According to a study published last year in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, for example, young women who used sunless tanners were more likely to have been sunburned and to have visited tanning parlors compared with those who were not interested in and did not use such bronzing lotions. The study, conducted at Boston University School of Medicine, also reported that, although many self-tanning products do not contain sunscreen, a number of young women believe they offer sun protection.

“We know that physicians are urging patients to use sunless tanning products instead of tanning booths,” said Alan C. Geller, a research associate professor in dermatology at Boston University and one of the authors of the study. “But sunless tanners are not serving the purpose of a safe alternative because we found young women using them as an adjunct to sunbathing and tanning beds.”

Many women say self-tanners have become as regular a part of their beauty routine as moisturizer or mascara. Most commonly, they apply powdered bronzer to their faces and tanning moisturizers to their arms and legs.

The sales figures bear this out. In the last five years, department-store bronzer sales have increased to about $62 million from about $30 million, according to NPD. At the mass market level, self-tanners, bronzers and tanning moisturizers, called “natural glow” lotions, have annual sales of about $229 million, according to Information Resources Inc., a market research firm that covers the personal care industry.

Nina Jablonski, the chairwoman of the anthropology department at Penn State University, said that trying to change one’s skin color is a peculiar and disturbing phenomenon — whether it be Africans and Asians who use bleaching products to lighten skin or lighter-pigmented Americans seeking to emulate deck stain. Along that continuum, the sun-tanned look is a relatively new beauty ideal, she said.

“For most of the last 500 years, a tan was considered the mark of a hard-working person who toiled outside,” said Dr. Jablonski, the author of “Skin: A Natural History.” “A tan was eschewed by people who considered themselves upper class.”

During the Industrial Revolution, as work increasingly moved to indoor factories, sun-baked skin became the province of the upper classes who had more leisure time and money to travel. Coco Chanel, who returned to Paris with a dramatic suntan acquired during a holiday on the Riviera in the 1920s, is credited with initiating the vogue for sunbathing. She reincarnated what had been a lower-class stigma as an aspiration, a symbol of upper-class wealth, leisure, good looks and healthy athleticism.

In the 1960s, George Hamilton personified the perpetual tan. In 1971, Mattel introduced Malibu Barbie, the ultimate beach bunny. And baby oil, used to hasten a deeper tan, was the rage in the 1970s.

“The tan went from being a thing that working people got by the sweat of their brows to being associated with a glamorous, luxurious lifestyle,” Dr. Jablonski said. “It is one of the most deeply ingrained images in American advertising.”

But in the early 1980s, the tan began to lose some of its allure after health authorities in Australia noticed an increased incidence of skin cancer among residents who had emigrated from Europe. They began to link skin cancer and sunbathing. In 1985, the American Academy of Dermatology conducted its first national campaign to warn Americans about the risks of sun exposure.

As a result, the product-induced tan has replaced the outdoorsy tan as a beauty ideal. And celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba and Eva Longoria, with their own naturally glowing skin, are inspiring legions of imitators. Now starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton often appear preternaturally bronzed. Even the model Natalia Vodianova, known for her porcelain face, appears this month in a Calvin Klein perfume ad looking as if she has been powdered with baked earth.

“Bronzer makes you look healthy, healthy, healthy,” said Olivier Échaudemaison, the makeup artistic designer for Guerlain. “Pale skin makes you look tired, but if you are wearing bronzer nobody knows you are tired underneath.”

To provide that simulacrum of health, cosmetics that create ersatz tans now come in three categories: self-tanners, bronzers and “glow” lotions.

Self-tanners trigger a chemical reaction, causing a brownish stain to form on the outer layer of the skin. Until recently, self-tanners were often messy to use, noxious-smelling, time-consuming and capable of turning the skin a bright shade of Oompa-Loompa orange. In the last few years, however, cosmetics companies have introduced improved formulas.

Bronzers are powders that are applied like blush. Guerlain is credited with creating the category in 1984 when it introduced Terracotta Powder, which could be brushed on for an instant coppery sheen.

“Suddenly, they have the look of just coming back from St. Barth’s, but really they spent the weekend at home and put on the powder,” Mr. Échaudemaison said.

Meanwhile, other brands, including Lancôme, are bringing out increasingly elaborate bronzing compacts that are embossed with patterns and come in multiple luminescent hues that can be used all over the body.

“Women today are on the go and they have no time or desire to sit down and sunbathe or wait overnight for a tanner to show its real color,” said Gracemarie Papaleo, assistant vice president for new product development at Lancôme USA. “With a bronzer, you get immediate results.”

“Glow” lotions, which are moisturizers that gradually darken the skin with each use, are also a growing trend. Jergens Natural Glow, introduced in 2005, was the first successful tanning moisturizer. Now other beauty brands are coming out with similar products based on the idea of a healthy, natural-looking glow. Ads for the new Nivea Visage Sunkissed Facial Moisturizer, for example, promise “a healthy-looking tan in just five days.”

“People want to look healthy without getting sun damage, to have that same California, sun-kissed type of look like every celebrity on the red carpet,” said Leigh Anne Rowinski, director of client solutions at Information Resources Inc.

But some critics worry that promoting sunless tans and glows as healthy, stylish and natural perpetuates the tan — whether cosmetic induced or sun-induced— as a beauty ideal, even as it posits pale skin as unhealthy, dull, unnatural and even passé.

“Even though a tan is now associated with pathology, it has had such a profound impact on the American psyche that to be untan is to look as terribly uncool as an unplucked chicken,” said Dr. Jablonski of Penn State. “People tend to think they look healthier if they have some sort of glow on their cheeks.”

But researchers at Boston University School of Medicine did not find that those who use self-tanners necessarily avoid UV rays. In a survey of 448 people age 18 to 30, the researchers found that young women who used sunless tanners were more likely to get sunburns and use sun beds than their peers who were not interested in self-tanning products; the results were similar to those found in studies in Australia. The researchers urged companies to include a minimum of S.P.F. 15 sunscreen in every sunless tanning product.

In a related research project, Zeina Dajani, a medical student at Boston University, found that a number of sunless tanners that did not contain sunscreen failed to carry a warning label, mandated by the Food and Drug Administration, to indicate that the products do not protect against sunburn and other damage.

“The question is whether dermatologists should stop recommending sunless tanning products as an alternative to tanning beds and discourage the idea of a tan altogether,” Ms. Dajani said.

At least one celebrity is glow-averse. In the May issue of Allure magazine, the actress Michelle Trachtenberg said the pressure to bronze is her pet peeve with beauty advisers at makeup counters.

“They’re like, ‘Maybe you’d like to warm up your skin tone,’ ” Ms. Trachtenberg is quoted as saying. “And I’m like, ‘No, I’m going to embrace the pale.’ ”

(y) I've done that for years - "embraced the pale" and now look ten (so I am told) years younger because the last time I was in the sun to get a tan was 1981. Been extremely careful since then. I just bought a Bare Escentuals' Bronze Babe Kit recently and plan on "faux tanning" from neck to toes. The kit included a powder bronzer for my face that is washed off at night. I guess that will look pretty weird having a tan all over except for a very white face at night - but Wyatt has already seen me in a white facial mask and well - he *did* watch me strangely until I washed it off. ;) Poor pup - his mama provides strange "entertainment".


Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:24 PM
:| :| ...or not. This place is HIGH!

Williamstown draws many Williams College alumni back as second-home owners.



May 4, 2007

Havens | Williamstown, Mass.

Sometimes You Can Go Home Again


When Gene Bauer told his mother he was buying a second home in Williamstown, Mass., in 1998, she couldn’t believe it. Mr. Bauer, a Boston lawyer who graduated from Williams College in 1971, had complained heartily about the frigid, snow-filled winters there when he was a student. “My mother said, ‘You swore you’d never go through another Williamstown winter again,’ ” he recalled recently.

Never say never. For Mr. Bauer and many others, the town’s beauty and rich life of the mind outweigh a few months of single-digit temperatures and annual snowfall that regularly tops 80 inches. Besides, said Paul Harsch, a local real estate agent, “for some people, the winter is glorious.”

Williamstown, a storybook New England town in the North Berkshires with one traffic light and one shopping street, sits beside Mount Greylock, a gently rounded, 3,491-foot peak that is the highest point in Massachusetts. Williamstown was established in 1753 as a plantation called West Hoosac and renamed Williamstown in 1765, when Col. Ephraim Williams bequeathed his estate to the town to establish a free school. (Williams now costs more than $40,000 a year). Students of Williams College, which was chartered in 1793, call themselves the Ephs, pronounced “eefs,” in his honor.

“What drew us back, in addition to our fond associations, is the beautiful physical setting in combination with an inspiring array of cultural and intellectually stimulating activities,” said Mary McTernan (Williams Class of 1976), who bought a three-bedroom colonial-style house on five acres last year for about $1 million with her husband, Thomas Lee (’73), a lawyer.

Ms. McTernan, a former health care administrator, said that she and Mr. Lee make the five-hour trip from Swarthmore, Pa., at least once a month, spending time with their daughter Liz , who graduates from Williams this spring.

The Scene

Second-home owners say that Williamstown has the charm of country living without the provincialism. “There are things going on year-round,” said Michele Riley, a lawyer in New York City who owns a condo in a development called Stratton Hills. “It’s hard to find that in a small town.”

Susan Brown, a remedial reading teacher from Berwyn, Pa., who with her husband, Stephen, bought a renovated 1860s three-bedroom house within walking distance of the campus in 2004 for about $520,000, said she never dressed up. “It’s fleece and jeans.”

Spring Street, Williamstown’s main drag, is about the length of a short city block. Students and local residents mix genially in cafes, shops and restaurants, including Sushi Thai Garden and Mezze Bistro and Bar, an upscale restaurant on Water Street.

Williams makes an effort to enhance the life of the entire community by presenting free public lectures, readings, concerts, performances and films, often several in one day. Jim Kolesar, Williams’s assistant to the president for public affairs, said it was important for the college to be a good citizen.

Local residents can audit classes free, with the professor’s permission, and can take books out of the college’s library. An annual pass for Williamstown residents or Williams alumni to use the school’s extensive athletic facilities costs $205 for individuals and $320 for families. “There’s always more to do than you can possibly do,” Ms. McTernan said.

Williamstown’s small size has its pluses and minuses. “You can’t be anonymous,” said Roger Fachini, an agent with Elder & McDonough Real Estate, “but there’s always someone you can count on.”


Despite a population of only a little more than 8,000 — and that includes Williams College’s 2,000 students — Williamstown has deep cultural riches. There are two important museums: the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, with more than 30 Renoirs, and the Williams College Museum of Art, which holds a significant collection of 18th- and 19th-century American art.

There is also the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, five miles east on Route 2 in a former textile mill, and from June to August, the Tony-award-winning Williamstown Theater Festival, which has sent plays to Broadway.

There are biking, hiking, skiing and swimming. Golfers gush about the Taconic Golf Club, one of Golfweek’s top 100 classic courses in the country in 2006, which has a waiting list for membership. And all Williams athletic events are open to the public.


Williamstown, 45 minutes north of the more bustling Southern Berkshires (Lee, Lenox, Stockbridge), is not an easy trip from anywhere. There are no Interstates to the region, and the roads into town — Routes 2, 7 and 43 — are slow and single lane. (To some, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.) The nearest major airport and the most convenient Amtrak station are an hour away in Albany. Williamstown is three hours from Boston, more than three hours from New York and five hours from Philadelphia. “There’s no good way to get here,” Mr. Fachini said. “You have to make an effort.”

There are only a handful of clothing stores in town, and many people shop at the Manchester Designer Outlets in Vermont, an hour’s drive, or the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough, 20 minutes south. “If you’re into shopping, this is not the place to be,” said Bill Frado, a Williams graduate who recently moved to Williamstown and now uses his house in Natick, Mass., as his second home.

The Real Estate Market

It appears that Williams graduates can’t get enough of Williamstown. Real estate agents reported that around 10 percent of home sales were to second-home owners, and they also estimated that close to 40 percent of those were Williams alumni. “When they graduate from Williams, they don’t want to leave,” Mr. Fachini said. “There’s something about it that keeps them coming back.”

Stephen Birrell, vice president for alumni relations and development at Williams, said: “As a group, Williams alum are extraordinarily loyal and devoted. The college is happy to have alums in town, but we don’t have to do anything to encourage them. They just come.”

Most homes in Williamstown were built in the 20th century, but 18th- and 19th-century houses occasionally come on the market. “Many people want an old farmhouse on five acres, but some don’t stick with that,” said Don Westall, the owner-broker of Alton & Westall. “They love the thought of old, but they don’t want a wrestling match with an alligator to open a window.”

Home sales are off from where they were two years ago, real estate agents say, and there is more inventory than usual. Yet prices have not declined.

In the spring, a house can sell in 90 days, but in the colder months a property can languish. Three-bedroom, two-bath houses on an acre or less sell in the upper $300,000s to low $400,000s, though Mr. Harsch said the better three-bedrooms sell for around $500,000. A number of high-end homes with views have sold for more than $1 million.

Williamstown has three villages of condos; prices range from $100,000 for a small one-bedroom to $350,000 for a large three-bedroom. Several real estate agents said the town could use more, but it’s hard to get approval for new developments.

“Williamstown is highly protected from development,” Mr. Harsch said. “In Florida and Colorado, the subdivisions spring up like flowers or weeds, depending on your perspective. That’s not going to happen here. There are zoning restrictions, topographical restrictions and limited sewer service. The town is going to change very little, and the people here like it that way.”

Lay of the Land

POPULATION 8,238, according to an estimate by the Census Bureau.

SIZE 46.9 square miles.

LOCATION Williamstown is in the northwesternmost corner of Massachusetts, just south of Vermont and east of New York.

WHO’S BUYING Most second-home owners come from New York, Philadelphia and Boston, and many are professionals — lawyers and doctors — or in finance. Real estate agents estimate that nearly 40 percent are Williams graduates.

GETTING THERE Routes 2, 7 and 43 lead directly into town, but none are major highways, which makes the going slow. Williamstown is 165 miles from New York City and 150 miles from Boston by car. Buses from Manhattan take about five hours.

WHILE YOU’RE LOOKING Guest House at Field Farm (554 Sloan Road, 413-458-3135; www.guesthouseatfieldfarm.org), set on 316 conserved acres with great views of Mount Greylock, is unremarkable on the outside but a midcentury masterpiece on the inside. There are only five rooms, so reserve early. Rooms with full breakfast range from $175 to $295 through October. A more modest choice is the 1896 House Country Inn & Motels (Route 7, 413-458-1896; www.1896house.com), where a small room for two runs $69 and the fanciest suite costs $259.

(y) Nice article, but I'd never live here. :)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:26 PM
8-| 8-|

The new crop of ultraportable computers includes a budget-priced model from Averatec, left; Sony’s full-featured Vaio, less than an inch thick, center; and Fujitsu’s 2.6-pound Lifebook. All are equipped with built-in DVD drives.


May 3, 2007


Small and Smaller


LONG among the hottest items in Europe and Asia, ultraportable notebook computers — supercompact, lightweight laptops that slip into briefcases as easily as a legal pad — appear to be finding favor with American tastes. In cafes and corporate boardrooms and on college campuses, the sleek machines are in growing evidence.

Their increasing appeal to Americans, some ultraportable computer makers say, reflects the same attraction as ever-smaller music players and credit-card-size digital cameras, in both styling and mobility.

“The mind-set of the American consumer is changing,” said Mike Abary, vice president for Vaio product marketing at Sony Electronics in the United States. “It has come to place more value on mobile products. These ultraportable notebooks are mobile products, like cellphones and MP3 players.”

The small notebooks offer many if not most of the productivity and entertainment features popular in much larger, bulkier computers, like built-in optical drives for CD and DVD use. (Sorry, no high-definition Blu-ray or HD-DVD capabilities yet). They also tend to be more expensive than their larger counterparts — in some cases, four times as expensive — with prices just above $2,000.

The price notwithstanding, ultraportable notebooks can stir techno lust in even the most practically minded. In fact, computer makers say, one of the largest single groups buying ultraportables are businessmen and businesswomen.

“People want portability,” said Michael A. Vorhaus, managing director of Frank N. Magid Associates, a television and entertainment consultant company based in Los Angeles. “People want BlackBerrys for e-mail and cellphones for text messaging, but that is not enough.

“American consumers want a decent-sized screen,” said Mr. Vorhaus, who noted that a recent online survey indicated that 54 percent of Americans between 18 and 30 own a laptop. “They want 12- and 11-inch screens that they can slip into a briefcase or a backpack and do everything they want except make calls on it.”

The diminutive size of the ultraportables — although not so small to be confused with ultramobile personal computers, or UMPCs, which are practically palm-size — is not for everyone, said Stephen Baker, vice president for industry analysis at the NPD Group.

While affirming that ultraportables represent “a nice concept,” he questions whether the benefit of a smallish notebook computer is worth its premium price.

“It’s unclear what that gets you,” he said. “A couple of less pounds?”

Mr. Baker added that he generally considers computers with screens as large as 12 inches not in the ultraportable category. He draws the line at those under 10 inches.

While a precise definition of ultraportable varies, the broader attributes of the category are as easy to discern as telling a sports car from a sport utility vehicle. Standard notebook computers generally have screens that measure 15 inches or so when measured diagonally (17-inch screens are also popular, many retailers report). Many computer makers, including Toshiba, Sony and Hewlett-Packard, classify ultraportable notebooks as those with screens measuring 12 inches or less.

Computer makers note that when laptops have smaller screens, the rest of the computer must adhere to a proportionality that usually forces the keyboard — as well as the overall size of the computer — to be smaller than standard. In turn, the body thins and the computer gets lighter. Many ultraportable notebooks weigh around four pounds or less, while an entry-level Dell Inspiron 1501 notebook with a 15.4-inch screen, in contrast, weighs 6.19 pounds.

In past years, packing components so closely together to achieve what computer makers call a smaller “footprint” encouraged many laptop manufacturers to use less powerful microprocessors than those in larger computers to reduce heat and not overtax smaller batteries. But advances in microprocessor design and cooling systems have significantly reduced the need for such striking compromises, especially in the higher-priced ultraportable notebooks, experts say.

“We are excited about the fact that laptops can now pack more power into a smaller, more lightweight and energy-efficient package,” said Karen Regis, manager of the mobile platforms group at Intel.

Or as Mr. Abary of Sony put it, “Miniaturization is an art of engineering.”

Showcasing such engineering, he said, is the Vaio VGN-TXN15 by Sony, released this spring. It is part of the company’s TX series of full-featured, ultraportable notebooks. The TXN15 has an 11.1-inch screen in a wide (16:9) aspect ratio and weighs 2.8 pounds. Mr. Abary said much of the notebook’s economy of size, weight and strength was managed with innovative engineering as well as the use of carbon fiber for its chassis.

The Vaio TXN15, which costs $2,300, is powered by a 1.2-gigahertz Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage microprocessor and, depending on use, offers a standard battery life of 5 to 11 hours, Sony engineers said. The TXN15 also features a fingerprint security sensor and is equipped with sensors to protect the hard drive if the notebook is dropped or severely jostled.

Besides its internal read-and-write DVD drive, the TXN15 includes Sony’s Instant Mode, which enables quick access to features like the notebook’s music and movie playback without running its operating system, Microsoft’s Windows Vista. Another extra is its built-in EV-DO system, which uses Sprint’s wireless cellular broadband network for mobile Internet access. The TXN15 has more conventional Wi-Fi ability as well.

And unlike some ultraportables, the TXN15 has not significantly shrunk its keyboard. Mr. Abary said the keyboard was near full size.

Another svelte and sophisticated new ultraportable notebook, the Fujitsu Lifebook P7230, weighs 2.63 pounds, even less than the Sony TXN15, and is encased in a stylish magnesium body. Its screen is smaller, too — 10.6 inches. This notebook is fully featured and powered by a 1.2-gigahertz Intel Core Solo microprocessor. Depending on a long list of options, its price ranges from $1,650 to $2,180.

Breaking the three-pound barrier is a major factor in achieving an “unconsciously portable” state, said Paul Moore, senior director of mobile products and marketing for Fujitsu Computer Systems. That, he explained, is the top weight so “you don’t realize you have it.”

Averatec, a South Korean company with an office in Santa Ana, Calif., is a relative newcomer to notebook computers, which it has been making since 2002. The Averatec 2371, its latest ultraportable notebook, which has a 12.1-inch screen and weighs about four pounds, aims to be a solid performer but light on the budget, said Darren Lee, the company’s director of product marketing.

The 2371 costs $900 to $950, depending on options, and is available on the company’s Web site (www.shopaveratec.com) and from other online retailers. This month, Averatec will introduce a smaller and lighter ultraportable, the 3.4-pound 1579, at $1,300.

Averatec ultraportables, widely available online and at stores like Circuit City, Sam’s Club and Staples, cost $850 to $950.

“We don’t have the buying power of the rest of the guys,” Mr. Lee said. “We chose to take a margin percentage hit, and they do not.”

Like the computers the company makes, he said, “we are a very small organization.”

(y) (y) I'm waiting for lighter laptops with Linux - 2008 is the year to buy. At least, that's what I'm doing. :)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:29 PM




Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:30 PM


;) ;)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:31 PM
:) :)


;) ;)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:45 PM
:o :o




:o Lots more photos......pretty twisted!


Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:49 PM
......accident" that destroyed a section of highway in the Bay Area:


:| :|

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:53 PM



(y) (y) (y) (y) (y)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:55 PM


"Second Life is incredibly unstable and has become more and more unstable as it's grown in the last two years. But at the same time, customers are paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month for services with Linden Lab."

-- Second Life developer Cristiano Diaz worries Linden Labs may crumble due to rapid growth


Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:57 PM


;) ;)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-07-2007, 02:59 PM



Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 05:27 AM

Apple Computer announced today that it has developed a computer chip that
can store and play high fidelity music in women's breast implants.

The iTit will cost $499 or $599 depending on speaker size. This is
considered to be a major breakthrough because women have always complained
about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

:D :D


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 05:47 AM
(y) (y)

Purdue gets 1st woman president
W. LAFAYETTE, IND. | Was youngest person to be NASA chief scientist

May 8, 2007
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University trustees on Monday named internationally recognized astrophysicist France A. Cordova to become the school's 11th president and the first woman to hold the post.

Cordova, currently the chancellor of University of California-Riverside, will replace Martin C. Jischke.

''Purdue is one of Indiana's greatest assets,'' said Cordova. She said she will consider herself to be just one of the hundreds of staff people who serve the 69,000-student university, including about 39,000 students in West Lafayette campus.

''I am staff in the truest sense of the word. I think of myself as part of the support structure that moves the place forward,'' she said.

Cordova was chief scientist at NASA from 1993 to 1996, the youngest person and first woman in the job.

''Since I was a young girl, I looked up, and I wondered about those tiny points of light in the night sky," she said.


(y) (y)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 05:56 AM
:| :|

British Queen Is Not Amused by Bush's Gaffe About Her Age


The Daily Telegraph

May 8, 2007

WASHINGTON — With Queen Elizabeth standing at his side on the White House lawn and press outlets from all over the world hanging on his words, it was probably not the best moment for President Bush to make one of his famous gaffes.

But with impressive comic timing, the president recovered from almost suggesting that his guest was around in the 18th century and ended up ensuring that his 7,000-strong audience laughed with him, rather than at him.

Mr. Bush's slip came during a welcoming speech as Elizabeth began the Washington stage of her American state visit.

America was a nation she "had come to know very well," he said. "After all, you've dined with 10 U.S. presidents. You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17 — 1976."

As many in the crowd burst out laughing, Mr. Bush turned and looked sheepishly at Elizabeth. Peering at him from beneath her hat, she did not appear to share the general merriment.

Turning back, Mr. Bush prompted Elizabeth to laugh as he said with a smile, "She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child."

While Elizabeth has avoided making any reference to the conflict in Iraq — her speech yesterday talked only of her visit's opportunity to "step back from our current preoccupations" — the war on terror featured prominently in Mr. Bush's speech.

"Today, our two nations are defending liberty against tyranny and terror," he said. "We're resisting those who murder the innocent to advance a hateful ideology, whether they kill in New York or London, or Kabul or Baghdad. American and British forces are staying on the offense against the extremists and terrorists. We're supporting young democracies. Our work has been hard. The fruits of our work have been difficult for many to see. Yet our work remains the surest path to peace, and it reflects the values cherished by Americans and by Britons, and by the vast majority of people across the broader Middle East."

He added: "Your Majesty, I appreciate your leadership during these times of danger and decision."

Elizabeth, noting this was her fifth visit to America, said: "It is a moment to take stock of our present friendship, rightly taking pleasure from its strengths while never taking these for granted. And it is the time to look forward, jointly renewing our commitment to a more prosperous, safer, and freer world."

The president and his wife, Laura, were waiting on the driveway above the White House's lawn when Elizabeth and Prince Philip's limousine arrived. The couples briefly shook hands before the formal welcome of trumpet fanfares, a drum and pipe band in 18th century uniform, and a 21-gun salute.

As they inspected the honor guard, Elizabeth and Mr. Bush chatted amiably. Later, she attended a garden party for 700 guests at the British Embassy before returning to the White House for a white-tie dinner, the first ever given by Mr. Bush.

The president is known for his dislike of lavish events. Mrs. Bush said on ABC television that she and Secretary of State Rice "did sort of have to convince him a little bit" to host a white-tie dinner.

The first lady has closely choreographed the dinner for 134 guests, seated at 13 tables set with gold-trimmed china. She pointed out on ABC that she and her husband had been at a previous White House dinner for Elizabeth, hosted by his father in 1991. She omitted to mention that, on that occasion, her husband treated Elizabeth to another memorable gaffe.

Saying to her that he was the black sheep of his family, he asked the queen, "Who's yours?" His mother, Barbara Bush, stepped in quickly and said, "Don't answer that."


8-)8-) Can't the village idiot behave himself in front of the Queen of England??? Seems as if dubya was kept on a very tight leash to prevent even more in frequency (and more awful) gaffs. He's such an embarassment to America. I cannot wait until Nov. 2008 for a change, and maybe the start of the rest of the world respecting the U.S. again. (and THAT will take decades to repair what the dubya administration has destroyed....)

8o| 8o|

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 05:58 AM

Five women who defined — and defied — a generation's standards of beauty.


(f) (f)

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 06:00 AM

How old are you anyway?

May 6, 2007

The Way We Live Now

Reinventing Middle Age


Quick, what does the following list suggest to you: Lamaze classes; baby showers; “parenting skills”; preschool anxiety all the way up to college; transitional phases; timeouts; chronic credit-card debt; the indiscriminate wearing of athletic garb; political correctness; anti-political correctness; midlife crises; couples therapy; divorce mediation; Botox; dermatological fillers; cosmetic surgery; the new-and-improved menopause; wearing sunglasses in winter even though you’re not famous; comb-overs; an obsession with the daily lives of the celebrated and merely notorious; real estate as a means to an end; a debilitating reliance on takeout dinners; a preference for esoteric coffee beans; an aversion to butter; an uneasy feeling of identification with Bob Dylan; a denial of death; cilantro, cilantro, cilantro; framing every photograph you’ve ever taken; the belief that your dog/cat is you; an excessively personalized vision of retirement; older single mothers; grandfatherly second-time fathers; a fear that you’ve become your mother or father; a free-floating feeling of grievance that you’ve failed to make obscene amounts of money as a hedge-fund manager; a gut instinct that immortality might be just around the next technological bend. If you still haven’t figured out that I’m talking about the so-called baby-boomer generation, you might consider the possibility that the reason you are having difficulty making out the fine print of any given subtext is because you need reading glasses.

Once upon a complacent time we may have thought that we were, to quote John Lennon, clever and classless and free. Nowadays, I wager that many of us have come to realize that we are stuck in the muck and mire of habit and convention. We have become chips off the old block, carrying around our parents’ voices in our heads even as we swat away their child-rearing beliefs, conservative spending habits and stoic acceptance of mortality. Behind all this busy reinvention of the wheel of life, of course, sheer dread lies in wait: the fear that we’re fast gaining upon that demarcation line where you stop being young and you start being something else entirely, someone belonging to a different order of nomenclature. (It might well be that the Sturm und Drang of middle age comes down to nothing more significant than a problem of taxonomy.) Heck, if we knew we were going to grow older this quickly, we would have frozen our youth like a carton of ice cream to be savored at a later date.

What generations before us were spared is the relatively recent invention of middle age as a sustained mentality — one predicated on an awareness of its own growing remove from that elusive property known as hipness. Indeed, the enshrinement of hipness as a long-term attitude — the idea that first you’re cool and then you’re uncool and then you die — is probably the worst legacy of the culture of the 60s. The result, the evidence of which is all around us, is a collective failure to maintain our generational integrity. Our lives are characterized by a sophomoric vicariousness: we behave as though our children’s triumphs and disappointments were our own and, facilitated by an increasingly euphemistic attitude toward extinction (now coyly referred to as “passing”), as if our deaths belonged to someone else entirely. They are not, we hurry to reassure ourselves, “ominous and intimately” our own, as John Updike, that connoisseur of waning potential, observed in “Rabbit at Rest.”

We are a strange bunch, we who belong to the New Middle Ages, half intractably cynical and half hopelessly expectant. Many of us, that is, believed we could put in for one order of rose garden, with a schmear on the side. We came of age convinced that life — far from being the vale of tears that people who lived in the Old Middle Ages conceived it to be — was supposed to make us happy in some ineffable but all the same transporting way. I remember many years ago, when I was a very unhappy young woman and had relayed my tale of what I perceived to be overweening early damage (this was before the rise of the ubiquitous dysfunctional family) to a dispassionate and renowned family therapist, he leaned forward in his chair and asked me, “Who gave you your expectations?”

At the time I was more than a bit miffed. Where was his famous therapeutic empathy? Or ordinary human understanding, for that matter? These days, however, I tend to see things more from his viewpoint. Which is to say that while I don’t whistle as I work, I do try to lead a productive life in my own inevitably hobbled way. For one thing, reality has hit me in the eyebrows, where I first started going gray some years ago and where I keep going grayer, underneath renewed coatings of eyebrow tint. For another, both my parents are dead now, which makes me an adult orphan. (Although there must be a statute of limitations on how old you can be and still reasonably consider yourself an orphan.) If there is no way out of it, there are ploys around it. The poet Philip Larkin, for instance, deftly avoided the encroachments of middle age — “This loss of interest, hair and enterprise,” as he characterized it in “Continuing to Live” — by insisting that he had never been youthful in the first place. In the poem “On Being Twenty-Six,” Larkin was already envisioning the dismal and definitive endpoint: “Talent, felicity —/these things withdraw,/And are succeeded by a dingier crop/That come to stop.”

But even Larkin was stumped by the reality of living in time: “Where can we live but days?” Where indeed. Fueled by an increasing fear and demonization of Old Age, ours is a generation bred on the notion of doing it our way, right up to our method of retirement. Given this curious and entitled perspective, middle age becomes a life raft that we can’t afford to fall off — because once we do, we’re going down, down into those depths for which there are no transitional phases or, God knows, “feeder” schools.

Hold on, now. Being young was never as great as it’s made out to be and being middle-aged is not as bad as all that. Take a deep breath. With a modicum of luck, there’s lots up ahead to hold your interest. There’s still time enough to soften your views and limber up your affections, still time to take chances. Still time, you never know, to undo having become exactly what you did not want to be. Bruce Springsteen, one of the very few rock stars to age gracefully, sums up our plight in his anthemic “Thunder Road”: “So you’re scared and you’re thinking/That maybe we ain’t that young anymore.” And then, being Springsteen, he immediately offers us a way out. “Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night.”

(y) I loved that, "Who gave you your expectations?" (y) (y)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 06:03 AM


SLIDE SHOW: Trunk Food:



Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 06:05 AM

The New Collectibles:




Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 06:06 AM

Nicole Farhi combines style and sustenance. Sandra Ballentine joins her well-laid table.



Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 06:09 AM

May 6, 2007

The Remix

Roughaging It


Agritourism takes the bed-and-breakfast model one step further, providing a rural respite on working farms, where travelers can pick berries for breakfast and learn to milk a cow. At MaryJanesFarm (www.maryjanesfarm.org/bb) in Moscow, Idaho, visitors sleep in walled tents (above) equipped with antique propane ranges and outdoor showers. Weatherbury Farm (www.weatherburyfarm.com) in Avella, Pa., offers suites in a renovated livery stable overlooking its cattle-grazing meadow.

At both establishments, guests are invited to participate in farm chores. “We want people to understand the source of their food,” says Marcy Tudor of Weatherbury Farm. In Philo, Calif., the Philo Apple Farm (www.philoapplefarm.com) also offers cooking classes. Says Sally Schmitt, an owner: “There’s a nostalgia about farm life.”



Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 06:11 AM
:) :)


May 6, 2007

Ice-Cream Capades


Mister Softee meets his match when Heartschallenger rolls into the Big Apple this month. The powder-pink trucks are stocked with ice cream and global treats served up by Leyla Safai, an L.A.-based artist, and her musician beau, Ben Pollock, who wrote a collection of modern melodies to accompany their arrival (think Good Humor with an electro-pop twist). The couple, who also perform as the band Heartsrevolution, travel wherever the truck is hired to enliven weddings, birthday parties, even film festivals. Heartschallenger also collaborates with local artists across the country to curate curbside exhibitions, show films, play music and share sweets like the artist Gary Garay’s ice pops shaped into peace signs. Next stops: England and France.

Go to www.heartschallenger.com

(l) (l)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-08-2007, 05:00 PM
As an arachnophobe, I find the story below to be absolutely amazing and horrifying!
Y'all have GOT to read this:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18523908/ (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18523908/)

05-09-2007, 11:22 AM
:| :| :|

Scenes from a tragedy, St Patrick's Church, Glasgow, where Angelika lost her life.


Tobin came to church and hell followed him


THE red sandstone church of St Patrick's in Glasgow began as Angelika Kluk's place of worship. Over two summers, a small upstairs bedroom in the chapel house became the pretty Polish student's home. Then, one Sunday last September, she discovered that evil had infiltrated this house of God. St Patrick's was no longer a place of refuge but a scene of violation and violence which became the 23-year-old's tomb.

The grim story of the murder of Angelika Kluk was concluded yesterday with the conviction of Peter Tobin, after one of the most disturbing trials in Scottish criminal history. It revealed that not even a Catholic Church was a haven from rape and murder, and that the parish priest, who claimed he had an affair with the young student, had feet of clay.

In death, and as a consequence of the finely grinding wheels of justice, Angelika Kluk endured another form of violation as her personal life was picked apart. She was portrayed first in the media as a naive young girl trying to make her way, but the intimate secrets revealed in the courtroom about her tangled relationships revealed her to be a more complex character - though no less deserving of pity.

ANGELIKA KLUK KNEW her killer, but not by his real name. When Peter Tobin arrived at St Patrick's in July 2006, he adopted the name Pat MacLaughlin. He was among the homeless men and women assisted by the charity organisation, Loaves and Fishes, which operated from the church with the blessing of the priest, Father Gerry Nugent. "Pat" was also a skilled odd-job-man and his offer to help fix up the church was readily accepted by the priest.

Nugent would later say that he was "aware he [Tobin] had a story to tell" but preferred to let him keep his own counsel.

Over the next six weeks, Tobin arrived most days by 10am, spent the day pottering around fixing doors and doing other jobs before departing in the early evening. On one occasion, he asked to stay overnight and the priest agreed. He was often to be found between jobs at the table in the kitchen, having a cup of tea. He seemed a quiet, comforting presence. Those around him had no idea that when he strolled into the church, hell was to follow him.

On Saturday, 23 September, Tobin was working in the garage of the church house, building a shed, when Angelika, as was her nature, offered to help. She was dressed in a pink vest top, black combat trousers and boots. He called her "my little apprentice" and gave her the task of painting the shed green. She took a break to attend evening vigil mass, after which she fell into conversation with Kieran McLernan, a 65-year-old sheriff, who had become close to the student over the past two summers, through a shared interest in golf. He suggested they visit a driving range in Bishopbriggs to develop her swing. Angelika, conscious of the task at hand, dutifully asked Tobin if she could go and went off to change when he agreed. The two older men chatted. Tobin showed off his tools and McLernan tried the heft of his hammer.

McLernan and Angelika then drove off in the sheriff's pale blue Rover 75 and arrived at the range just as it was closing. The golf professional, however, allowed them to hit a few balls. It was early evening by the time they returned, but Tobin was still toiling in the shed. "He tells me I have got a good backswing," shouted Angelika to Tobin as she passed.

The Polish student had previously told the sheriff that she and her sister, Aneta, planned a short tour of Scotland, before she returned to her studies in Gdansk in October. She had wished to drop in on him and his wife in Aberdeen and McLernan had agreed. That evening she gave him her e-mail address, then asked for his, which he wrote down on a sticky note. Angelika hugged him as he left. "A short hug", McLernan insisted in court.

Angelika then returned to the garage where she painted, late into the evening, with Tobin. Rebecca Dordi, a Russian student who was also living in the church, recalled it like this: "They were just talking, laughing, giggling." A few minutes later, the pair joined her in the kitchen for a cup of tea. Dordi described the student's behaviour as "not flirting, but flirty". It was an atmosphere Dordi, a more dowdy figure, described as "uncomfortable".

Angelica spent the final night of her life, it is thought, in her bedroom. She was excited at the prospect of being reunited with her lover, Martin Macaskill, a married man, with whom she had been enjoying a passionate affair. The couple had met in July, when she briefly worked as a nanny for a Russian family holidaying in Scotland. Macaskill, who ran his own chauffeur firm, was the family's driver. The couple enjoyed a number of trysts in her room, including one in the shower, but since Nugent had discovered the nature of the relationship weeks earlier, Macaskill was unwelcome. The priest, who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Angelika the previous summer, had searched through her waste-basket and retrieved a used condom, and examined birth control pills on her desk.

Macaskill had just returned from a Spanish holiday with his wife Annie, where they attempted to rekindle their marriage. However, he refused to give his "Angela" up. He had planned to meet her on the Sunday, but cancelled because of a stomach bug. Angelika's final communication to him was a text message in which she described herself as his "aghrai", a Gaelic term of endearment he usually used for his wife. She, on discovering the text that afternoon, was enraged. Angelika also said: "I love you."

Unable to meet her lover, Angelika again picked up a paintbrush and resumed her apprenticeship with Tobin. St Patrick's was busy that day as parishioners arrived for mass and stayed on for tea and biscuits. As the church began to empty, Nugent went to visit a friend around 4pm and those who had helped with the teas left, too.

The last confirmed sighting of Angelika was near 4pm in the kitchen, where she and Tobin, once again, enjoyed a break for tea.

When the church was quiet, and his victim unsuspecting, Tobin peeled off the mask of genial Pat MacLaughlin and revealed his true nature. With a perverted passion for young girls, he had previously raped and sexually assaulted two teenage girls in Portsmouth. Now he struck again.

The grim choreography is unclear. It is thought that Tobin pounced in the garage, where Angelika was raped and battered senseless with a heavy instrument. In a flat, near the church, Leigh Brown was startled by a "terrible" scream. She recalled: "It was just loud and horrid and then there was nothing." Stunned, with a skull fracture four inches long, Angelika was then easily bound using heavy masking tape and a gag was wedged into her mouth. She regained consciousness and desperately fought for her life, receiving three stab wounds to the hand and arm as Tobin repeatedly stabbed her in the chest with a red- handled kitchen knife. When she fell still, Tobin rolled her on to a piece of tarpaulin and dragged her from the garage and into the empty church.

The pathologist said, grimly, that Angelika may have been still alive when she was dumped into her temporary tomb. Tobin had discovered the hatch outside one of the confessional booths earlier in the summer, while checking for water pipes under the floorboards.

The killer then tossed a bag containing the knife and blood-soaked clothing, as well as a towel, into the space then closed the hatch. Behind him, on the wall, hung a large crucified Christ, eyes, as is the Catholic tradition, brimming with a mixture of sorrow and love.

FOR PETER TOBIN, his dreadful actions began immediately to take a toll. When volunteers of the Loaves and Fishes group arrived in the early evening he was unable to assist as was usual, and appeared "very ill". Denis Curran, who ran the group, offered to take him to the hospital, but he refused, insisting he was merely tired. At one point, Curran found Tobin sitting in a cupboard under the stairs in the chapel house, staring blankly.

Father Nugent returned to the chapel house at about 9pm, and was soon joined by a female friend, Geraldine McGowan. She had become increasingly worried about the priest's drinking and had wished to check on his condition.

The first person to raise concerns about Angelika was Martin Macaskill, who, frustrated at reaching only her voicemail, called the chapel house. Nugent said she was out and agreed to leave a note on her door that he had called.

Unsatisfied, Macaskill drove to the chapel house at 11 pm, but got no response when he rang the doorbell. When phone calls from the doorstep elicited the same response as before, he returned home.

AS MONDAY MORNING brought still no word from Angelika, Macaskill visited the Glasgow flat of her sister, Aneta, but she had not seen her sister since the previous Thursday. At first, Macaskill believed Angelika might be avoiding him, but he was sure she would have answered at least one of the dozens of calls. At the church, Tobin, asked by a volunteer about Angelika, replied: "My apprentice hasn't turned up today."

Macaskill then decided to visit St Patrick's, at which point the story seems to switch from crime novel to French farce. Nugent was, again, entertaining his friend, Geraldine McGowan, in his private quarters and had been drinking. He opened the door and Macaskill rushed upstairs to check Angelika's room where he discovered her personal belongings untouched. Shortly afterwards, Macaskill was joined by Aneta Kluk and by his wife, Annie, who, less than 48 hours after being enraged by the text message, was now embarking on what would be a futile search for her husband's mistress. "When an affair starts," she told Nugent, "you can only hope it will end."

A decision was made to contact the police and initiate a missing person report. As Macaskill, his wife and Aneta Kluk, began combing the garden using a mobile phone for light, Father Nugent returned upstairs to his private quarters and locked the door.

When the small search party returned to find the door locked, Annie Macaskill managed to push the key out of the lock and draw it under the door on a sheet of paper. Their intrusion enraged Nugent, who appeared, according to Aneta Kluk, quite drunk. He told the court: "I was just round the bend with the whole thing."

The arrival of two police officers sobered him up. He showed them around the church property and waited as statements were collected from all present. "Pat McLaughlin" told them the last time he saw Angelika was the previous day as she left to shower. He claimed he had heard her leave the house.

Shortly after 1:30am on Tuesday the two officers left to report back to the station. Peter Tobin quietly slipped from the chapel house and into the night.

When the officers returned, they were accompanied by a sniffer dog, the sight of which brought home the seriousness of the situation to Aneta, who began to cry. The dog and its handler searched the grounds and the church, examining the confessional boxes. But Delta was trained to scent the living, not the dead.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF Angelika Kluk gripped Glasgow as her sister searched the offices where she had worked as a cleaner and Martin and Annie Macaskill posted flyers. In public, Nugent spoke of his increasing concern; in private, he told Simon Dames, a press spokesman for the Catholic Church, that he "no longer gave a damn about Angelika".

Despite extensive searches of the church by Strathclyde Police, it was not until the evening of Friday, 29 September that the hatch by the confessional was discovered and the body of Angelika brought to light.

Within 24 hours of the discovery, her killer was in custody. Peter Tobin had caught a bus to London on Tuesday and two days later, was admitted to the accident and emergency department of University College Hospital, complaining of chest pains. He was transferred to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, where a suspicious doctor reported him to the police. A Metropolitan Police officer posed as a nurse to make a visual identification before returning, in uniform, to make an arrest. Tobin told him: "I knew you were police. I am relieved you are here."

Related topic

* Angelika Kluk

This article: http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=698082007

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(f) (f) (f) Angelika Kluk (f) (f) (f)

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 11:28 AM
(f) (f) (f)

The Scotsman Wed 2 May 2007

Best spa




The spa of spas… welcome to Stobo Castle. Set in the beautiful hills of Peeblesshire, a stay at Stobo is pure luxury, fusing the magic of a Scottish castle with all the comforts of the 21st century. With a stunning pool and gym area, built in 2003, the facilities really are second to none. Add this to good food, first-class treatments, a friendly and helpful staff, and you have all the ingredients of a relaxing and memorable experience.


Glasgow, 0844 414 2767


A quiet oasis within the luxurious Green’s Health and Fitness Centre on the edge of the River Clyde. From the moment you arrive this spa experience is a class apart. What sets Revive apart from hotel spas is the calm of the custom- built fitness centre and the themed rooms of the spa itself. Within minutes of arrival you are in a fluffy robe and slippers, fine- tuning skincare treatment options. Take advantage of double rooms where you and a friend can enjoy treatments at the same time. Splash out on a half- day beauty package, with a delicious light lunch and full use of fitness facilities.


Sheraton Hotel, Edinburgh


If you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, there’s nowhere better than this. Relax on their rooftop terrace and you’ll soon forget the chaos below. It was voted best urban spa by Condé Nast Traveller in 2004, and as soon as you enter it, you can see why. Everything is first class.


North Berwick


The treatments are really good, but the best bit is definitely the outdoor Jacuzzi – taking in the fresh sea air while soaking in hot bubbles. The restaurant is superb, the swimming pool built for real swimming and the relaxation room has gorgeous duvets that make you want to bed down for the night.




Takes pampering and decadence to the ultimate level. In the heart of Edinburgh city centre, but the spa really is an oasis with its tranquil swimming pool and candle- lit, aromatherapy- scented ambience. From welcome to post- treatment wind- down in the relaxation room, this is five- star treatment.

(l) (f) (l) (f) (l)

:) Whose ready to go? (ap) (ap) Let's take a break. ;)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 11:32 AM
(l) (l) (l)

Geologists believe that Uluru, left, and Kata Tjuta are linked 300m underground.


Scotland on Sunday Sun 6 May 2007

Feel the wind in your Ayers


THE Monday-morning blues are something Pat Oldfield knows little about. His office is the open road around Australia's Red Centre, and his job is driving a Harley Davidson. Nice work if you can get it.

He arrived with the construction crew to build a resort at Ayers Rock 26 years ago, and never left. Now he runs one of the most exclusive tour companies in the Outback, offering visitors a unique view of the vast wilderness of dry, dusty red earth.

Sitting on the back seat of the bike as it roars up to the entrance of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park, I can already feel the relentless heat of the mid-morning sun building up. But nothing could make me swap my seat for one on an air-conditioned tour bus. Inside the park we cruise along at a more sedate 50mph, and I can smell the wild flowers growing among the spinifex and bushes of Rhodesian buffer grass, while birds cry overhead. And then there's the rock.

Uluru, rising out of the endless flat land, is an impressive sight to even the weariest of tourists. But from this viewpoint it becomes otherworldly, its massive bulk soaking up the light. Every morning and afternoon, buses unload hundreds of visitors to look at the rock from sunrise and sunset viewing points in the park. We have the open roads and best vistas to ourselves today on a tailor-made trip to avoid the crowds. "Most people come out with us because they haven't been on a Harley before and want to experience that combined with a bit of sightseeing," says Oldfield. "But we do get some unusual requests. One woman wanted to go and find a quiet spot to meditate at the rock. And I once took a blind guy out who just wanted to go for the ride. He loved it."

He adds, "Harleys are not performance bikes, and people don't ride them for speed. They just like the concept of riding around the rock on a Harley. It's a pretty cool thing to do."

He covers a couple of hundred miles every day on the bike, but Oldfield drives a V8 Ute for fun - a high-speed racing car. This need for speed must be an Outback thing. With endless stretches of straight road and nothing on them but the occasional road train, there's a temptation to put the foot down. It's only recently that an 80mph speed limit was imposed on Northern Territory roads, after a number of drivers lost control of their vehicles. Some had put the car on automatic steering and nodded off; the unlucky ones never woke up again.

Taking your time and shifting down a gear or two is the only way to really get under the skin of this enormous area. An afternoon at the Cultural Centre reveals more about the heritage of the traditional owners of the land, the Aboriginals, than any guide book. The Tjukurpa display explains aboriginal law, religion and customs and showcases bush tucker in all it's protein-packed forms. Honey ants for breakfast? Or how about witchetty grubs for lunch, and a few wild figs and bush bananas?

There's also a gentle reminder to respect the Aboriginals' beliefs. "That rock is a really important, sacred thing," warns one notice. "You shouldn't climb it. Climbing is not a proper part of this place. There is a true story to be properly understood."

I get one last look at the rock and a chance to sample some five-star bush tucker at the Sounds of Silence dinner. A didgeridoo plays and Australian sparkling wine is poured as everyone takes in the 360-degree grandstand view of sunset - on Uluru in one direction and the Olgas, or Kata Tjuta, in the other. Dinner in the desert has evolved somewhat from the earliest Aboriginal cooking. Tonight barramundi fish rubbed with wild lime and chilli is on the menu alongside crocodile and macadamia filo pastry and paprika-covered kangaroo.

The best is still to come. After coffee, the lanterns dim and conversation hushes as everyone sits in complete silence for a moment. Then a local astronomer steps out of the darkness to take us on a magical tour of the night sky. Aboriginal stories are told in the inky-black sky, and the glittering stars take us from the Southern Cross through the Milky Way to Sirius, Canopus and Achernar.

Geologists believe that Uluru and Kata Tjuta are linked 300m underground. The sedimentary layers of rock in each are exactly the same, and the only difference is in their formation. At Kata Tjuta, the rounded monoliths look more like giant red potatoes that have burst out of the earth. When we saw them at sunset they were blood-red, but in the afternoon, as sunlight floods the Walpa Gorge and the huge boulders are reflected in a pool of water, they are changing colour again, from orange to deep ochre.

It's a few hours of driving to reach Kings Canyon, then early to bed. Aboriginal culture is against walking on the sacred sights of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, but this is permitted at Kings Canyon. Before 6am, I am already at the top of the 100m-high cliff face, at the start of a rim walk timed to take in sunrise. The views are breathtaking, and a peregrine falcon soars overhead to complete the picture.

As the sun gets higher, it pours light on the canyon and the shadows fall away. Down in the centre of the gorge, the Garden of Eden is a rockpool with prehistoric cycad plants growing in the shade. It's a less strenuous climb back to the top this time, thanks to wooden steps. Then the trail goes through a maze of beehive-like domes, formed by eroding sandstone. The wind whistles through and cools me - light relief after a morning's walking.

It's hard to grasp the sheer scale of the canyon when you're at ground level, so to appreciate it in all its jaw-dropping glory I take a helicopter ride. A couple of soft white clouds float in the endless blue sky, and it takes just a few minutes to fly over the landscape that took me hours to cover on foot. On a clear day, you can see Uluru and Kata Tjuta from here. Mind you, the surrounding ground is so flat that it's a wonder Sydney itself isn't visible.

Enterprising farmers nearby have put their masses of land to good use by carving quad-bike trails into the Outback. Straight paths run for miles along the sand, then twist and turn around trees and over rocks. This is the perfect way to burn off all that adrenaline after the helicopter trip.

Who knows what the early settlers would have made of it all. They quietly crossed the desert with camels imported from the Canary Islands to carry their equipment. The settlers have moved on, but herds of wild camels still roam the bush, gathering in large groups to search for water. On the road to Alice Springs, I pull over to get a closer look at a massive herd, with hundreds of the animals roaming wild. Despite their numbers, though, they run off as soon as the car stops. I don't think I could catch them up, even if I was on one of Oldfield's Harleys.

Fact file Uluru

Airline Network (www.airline-network.co.uk) offers flights through British Airways and Qantas from Glasgow to Ayers Rock (via Heathrow and Sydney on the way out, and via Melbourne and Heathrow on the way back) for £912. Emirates (www.emirates.com) flies to Melbourne from Glasgow (via Dubai), with fares starting at £777 return. Travelmood (www.travelmood.com) can organise trips from there to Ayers Rock.

A tour of Kings Canyon and Uluru, staying at Kings Canyon Resort and the Sails in the Desert hotel, costs from £360 through APT Touring (www.aptouring.com.au).

Uluru Motorcycle Tours (www.ulurucycles.com) have a range of sightseeing options, costing from Aus50 (for 15 minutes) to Aus295 (for two and a half hours).

Aerial tours of the area with Professional Helicopter Services (www.phs.com.au) start at Aus115. Quad-biking adventures start at Aus65 for half an hour at Kings Creek Station (www.kingscreekstation.com.au) .

The exchange rate is currently £1 to Aus2.40.




Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 11:36 AM

Edinburgh Evening News Thu 3 May 2007

WISH YOU WEREN'T HERE: Long flight delays and being stuck in the departure lounge are things that every holidaymaker fears.


Be prepared and relax on holiday


PICTURE this. It's almost silent, except for the sound of waves from the azure waters gently lapping against the shore of the coconut palm-fringed beach with soft white sands.

In about 20 minutes or so it will be time to re-apply the sunscreen and turn over for a snooze, before going for a dip to cool off. Yes, the long-awaited summer holiday is just around the corner.

According to consumer association Which? there were over 66.4 million trips overseas from the UK in 2005 and the number increases year upon year as more and more of us go on search of the perfect retreat. But sometimes that idyllic break can turn into the holiday from hell. Here's the L&S guide to avoiding a holiday nightmare.


It's the most crucial accessory of all, and while it may be another added expense, insuring yourself against delays, cancellations, injury, theft or even death is vital.

According to Direct Line Travel Insurance, 12 per cent of British holiday fall victim to crime.

And if you fall ill when you're abroad it can cost even more - medical treatment can easily set you back £60,000 in the States, while it costs around £35,000 to be treated for a heart attack in Spain.

"Anyone who goes anywhere without insurance is just mad," says Tommy Graham, manager of Sphere Travel in Montgomery Street. "A lot of people think you need travel insurance from the day you travel but you really should have travel insurance from the day you book the holiday because if in the interim period you have to cancel for medical reasons, you're covered."

The key is to shop around, price insurance from independent travel agents, general insurers and go online.

Know what you need to be covered for, and for how much. Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert.com says: "Personal liability cover, which pays out if you damage other people or their property, should be £1m; and also ensure there's cover for cancellations and curtailments, luggage and other possessions, legal expenses and delay."

And if you're going away more than twice this year, save money by opting for annual insurance. Insurance for a two-week holiday in Europe can be as little as £9.50, or as little as £25 for an annual policy for Europe.

Check out price comparison sites www.insureandgo.com and moneysupermarket.com for the cheapest rates around, for your needs.


Delays, don't you just hate them - especially when the airline says it's not their fault, blaming bad weather, unforeseen technical problems or the delay of an incoming aircraft. And so you're stuck in the departures lounge in an uncomfortable plastic seat, with overpriced food and drink, waving goodbye to those precious hours of holiday time. Under the new EU Denied Boarding Regulation, which came into force in February 2005, airlines must offer compensation in the form of meals, refreshments, telephone calls, accommodation or money in the case of delayed, cancelled or overbooked flights.

This law applies to all flights where you have a confirmed reservation, you have checked in on time for your flight, and you're departing from an EU airport.

Consumer Association Which? has passenger rights on its website in a downloadable format and they state that if your flight is cancelled "you should be offered a choice of a refund or re-routing to your final destination."

While you wait for this offer to materialise, you're also entitled to free meals and refreshments appropriate to your waiting time, free hotel accommodation and transfers to the hotel if the re-routed flight means that you have an impromptu overnight stay at the airport.

There is also a statutory right to food, refreshments and accommodation where necessary, as well as being able to make contact with family to tell them of the delay.

Log onto www.which.co.uk, click on Travel & Leisure and print off your flight rights before you travel. That way, airlines cannot fob you off with excuses should it all go wrong.


"People can get blasé when they go abroad," admits Edinburgh doctor Lyndsey Myskow of Medicalternative. "We've lost many diseases in this country while other places in the world still have them - so we always need to be aware."

Lyndsey, who runs a travel clinic within Medicalternative, stresses holidaymakers must be aware of potential bugs and diseases, and get vaccinations if necessary. But bugs can lurk elsewhere.

"You want to avoid water - so watch out with ice cubes and foods washed in water, such as lettuce. Water is some countries is fine while others is not, so again you need to find out in advance and do your homework.

"Food that's cooked is often fine, but the problem lies with food that's left lying about. So the food stalls where food is cooked in front of you is often very safe. But the hotel buffet where the food has been lying out in the heat for a while may not.

"It depends where you are, really, but you always need to have your common sense."

So if you wouldn't eat it at home, don't eat it when you're away.

Excess booze can also ruin a good holiday and Lyndsey stresses that revellers must remain hydrated - and not with more sangria. Dehydration and getting very hot because of the temperature can be a big problem," she says.

"To prevent any problems or getting ill, make sure you drink a lot of bottled water. And don't go over the top."


For most people, travelling abroad is incident-free, but it doesn't hurt to prepare before your trip. A spokesman from STA Travel says: "Plan a rough route before you go. Be aware of trouble spots and check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit on 0870-606 0290 for the latest situation.

"Carry your money in a variety of ways - cash, travellers cheques and a credit card. You'll need some cash when you first arrive, but try not to use big notes outside familiar places like hotels as you won't be used to the currency. Take a credit card too. You can access your money worldwide and won't be caught short if you run out of cash.

"Be extra vigilant in busy streets or crowded bars - areas where you could be pick-pocketed or have your bag snatched. Keep an eye on your bags on buses or trains and keep valuables on your person."


Since 2000, there has been a 21 per cent rise in the number of travellers contracting tropical diseases abroad, according to Prudential Insurance - and you don't have to be in the jungle to be at risk.

As increasing numbers of us set off to ever more exotic destinations, taking precautions is key. "Getting the right vaccinations is vital," stresses Edinburgh doctor, Myskow. "It depends on where you're travelling too, of course, but if it's suggested that you get injections, then don't risk it."

Swimming pools at some of Europe's most popular resorts can present a threat, suggested a test by the Consumers' Association of 80 pools in Majorca and Corfu. Diarrhoea, sickness, stomach cramps and fever could result.

Then there's sunscreen. "This is crucial," says Lyndsey. "Getting burnt can ruin a holiday and cause you immediate and long-term damage.

"People should be aware that they also need to protect against UVA rays - not just UVB, which is the sun factor.

"I would always go for factor 25, and I tell people to read the actual bottle to make sure it has UVA coverage, which will protect against premature ageing."


We all know why there's heightened airport security and accept that this now changes the way we fly for good.

Carry-on baggage is now smaller and passengers are strictly limited to one item of carry-on baggage, no larger than 56cm tall, 45cm wide and 25cm deep.

Certain liquids, such as gels, lotions, pastes, liquid cosmetics, foams and foodstuffs are now allowed onboard again, but you will have to put such liquids in transparent re-sealable bags no larger than 20cm by 20cm at an airport security checkpoint.

According to Edinburgh Airport, passengers will be asked to removed their clear plastic bag from their only allowed piece of hand luggage and put it on the conveyor belt to be X-rayed.

The simplest solution is to put as much as you can in your hold luggage and keep only items of value with you while onboard.

Log on to www.edinburghairport.com for more information.


(f) (f)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 11:41 AM
(c) (c) (c) (c) (c)

The Scotsman Wed 9 May 2007

Best bakery



83 Gray Street Broughty Ferry, Dundee 01382 477 214

I DON'T usually like Scottish baking (very foreign to an American raised on Oreos and Chips Ahoy!) but Goodfellow and Stevens is pretty amazing. I've been going there since the 1980s with my parents and the same women work behind the counter in traditional aprons. They do lovely breads, cakes and pies, along with more recent additions such as pizzas.


40 High St, Nairn, 01667 455572


Popping in to Ashers for a slice of cake and cup of char is a Nairn institution. But the delicious cakes, breads and pies are also available over the counter - ideal for munching as your stroll on the beaches. The carrot cake is especially good. Ashers have baked since 1877 and, as well as two branches in Nairn, it has shops in Aviemore, Buckie, Elgin, Forres and Inverness. (Peter R)


12 Church St, St Andrews (also Dundee and Cupar), 01334 472 201


Beloved by students in need of a sugar fix between lectures (the fudge doughnuts are legendary), this family-run institution is also renowned for hand-made chocolates. Bread, biscuits and savouries excellent. You'll leave laden with bags. (Louise, Fife)


Albert Street, Edinburgh, 0131 554 7417

One of Edinburgh's oldest empires, specialising in all good things that can create big thighs. From 'Dallastastic' wedding cakes with built-in fluorescent lighting and waterfalls to classics like Torte Della Nonna, the freshly baked goods are mouth-watering. (Charlotte, Edinburgh)


Easter Rd, Edinburgh 0131652 2349


Heroically dragging Scottish baking into the 21st century, with a fine range of continental-inspired breads using all sorts of delicious ingredients such as spelt flour, honey, feta cheese and olives. The friendly in-house bakers work without additives or flavour enhancers, yet the results are nothing short of perfection. Beware - bread sells out quickly and they don't open on Mondays. (Matt, Edinburgh)


(l) (c) (l) (c) (l)

Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

(Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 11:45 AM
(f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f)

Spring visitors can’t miss the bright fields of tulips in the Netherlands.


May 13, 2007

Letter From the Netherlands

Tulip Mania


SINCE 1637, when the irrationally exuberant Dutch tulip bulb market collapsed, it has been a cliché to say that the satiny, ephemeral blossom is the only thing that can drive the sensible Dutch to heights of fancy. “We went mad,” confirms Karin Hoogland, a manager at the Keukenhof, the giant spring garden near Lisse. “People really lost everything they had.”

But even a 10,000-florin bulb produced a flower — more than can be said for an interest-only mortgage. It's this quality that has given the tulip staying power in Dutch culture. “We have these very dark, wet winters,” says Ms. Hoogland, “so when the tulips start blooming, it's emotional.”

Spring visitors can't miss the bright fields: flights approach Schiphol Airport over the sandy soil behind the Netherlands' coastal dunes, perfect tulip country, roughly from Haarlem to The Hague.

In Haarlem, my wife, Nina, and I joined a giddy crowd at the Bloemencorso Bollenstreek (bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl), the largest of many flower parades held across the country. Children danced under the influence of salty Dutch licorice as dozens of floral-psychedelic floats cruised by, each sculptured from countless blossoms. A vast Pippi Longstocking, a huge purple beer barrel and succulent-looking fruits as big as garden sheds scented the air for precise marching bands.

Mania is also in the air at the Keukenhof (open this year until May 20; admission 13 euros, or about $18 at $1.39 to the euro; an 18-euro ticket includes bus fare from the nearby Leiden train station; www.keukenhof.nl). Sharp, massed beds are set in emerald lawns beneath big, newly leafed beech trees. Tulips riot with billowing rhododendrons and azaleas, wisteria cascades, late daffodils and pavilions of orchids and cut roses. Peacocks wail in envy before the seven million bulbs.

The flower-to-visitor ratio is even better just outside the Keukenhof's boundaries, where fields of tulips stretch to the flat horizon — the dabs of color visible from the air — the mother lode that produces bulbs for the whole world's gardens.

We rented easy-riding Dutch bicycles for 8 euros and set off on the day's suggested route, a glide through hyacinth-perfumed air over little bridges spanning still waterways plied by magnificent swans. The fields appear from a distance as pure form, but up close, individual blooms bob gently in the breeze, giving the landscape a hallucinatory shimmer.

The spell is broken only by the occasional whiff of agricultural chemicals. “The acres and acres of tulips in bloom are dazzling,” says Amy Stewart, author of the best-selling “Flower Confidential,” “but it's also a factory: Holland is one of the few places people can get a glimpse of how the modern flower industry operates.”

The small Amsterdam Tulip Museum (Prinsengracht 112; 31-20-421-00-95; www.amsterdamtulipmuseum.com; admission 2 euros) details how tulips are grown, but the best way to see this industry in action is at the flower auctions. Visitors can watch the stunning scale of Dutch commerce at FloraHolland in Naaldwijk (www.floraholland.nl; tours are 2 euros and start at 8 a.m.) or Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer in Aalsmeer (www.vba.nl; admission 5 euros for tours starting at 7 a.m.), where nearly 20 million stems are sold each morning. Countless carts of flowers glide beneath huge, bewildering clock faces while a gallery of bidders determines the fates of growers worldwide.

But this efficiency spoils us. In Amsterdam, at the Rijksmuseum (www.rijksmuseum.nl; admission 10 euros), I stood rapt before Hans Bollongier's 1639 “Still Life with Flowers,” a sheaf of broken tulips, anemones, roses, carnations and irises popping from murky shadows. At the time they were painted, these Golden Age bouquets — the icons to which every vase aspires — were impossible mixes from different seasons.

If today they are within reach, there is still more to art than mere variety. I find Amsterdam's floating market to be irremediably touristy — for one thing, the stalls manage to float without any of the romance the concept implies: it looks like nothing more than a row of garden supply shops thick with souvenir hunters. Ten euros will buy a hundred mixed tulip bulbs, and 3.50 a bag of 10 select bulbs, but if you plan to take them home, make sure they really have been certified by the United States Department of Agriculture — a detail that has been misrepresented by unscrupulous or misinformed sellers.

But why bother? The same bulbs, from the same fields, are available at home. Instead, take advantage of the Netherlands' perfect tulip-growing conditions and buy cut flowers. For the Dutch, flowers are an everyday necessity: you'll see fresh bouquets everywhere, from homes to herring stands. You should follow their lead.

At the highly regarded florist Menno Kroon (Cornelis Schuytstraat 11; 31-20-679-19-50; www.mennokroon.nl), 50 euros will buy one of the freshest, best-considered bouquets in the world. Right now showy, long-stemmed organic tulips in the shop's dark interior glow at least as wantonly as their nearly 400-year-old ancestors in the Rijksmuseum. Call ahead and have lush flowers greet you at your hotel.

For a more affordable bouquet, pick up several dozen tulips for a few euros at the outdoor Albert Cuypmarket, or visit 't Lievertje (31-20-627-90-62), a stall at the corner of Kalverstraat and Hoek Spui. There, bouquets start at 15 euros and bags of U.S.D.A.-certified bulbs at 4.50. Accomplished, if surly (Don't touch! No pictures!), florists whip together bounteous arrangements on sidewalk tables. Cigarettes dangle from the florists' lips as they toil, and the street is slippery with discarded leaves, yet the work is impeccable, a hint of why many Dutch people find American bouquets lifeless.

And without life, there's no point. Melancholy underlies the tulip's beauty; perfection tempered by impermanence. If the Golden Age still lifes sought to prolong that moment, the impulse lives on: When we sat down at the Art Deco Café Americain near the Rijksmuseum, Nina had with her a single tulip — orange limned in yellow — that a florist had given her. By then the flower was flaccid, lying on the table like a visitor exhausted by a day spent sampling Amsterdam's delights. A waitress rushed over, her brow furrowed in concern: “I'll bring water right away,” she said, “for the tulip.”

This instinct is most realized at the Hortus Bulborum, in the otherwise unremarkable village of Limmen (open until May 16; 31-251-23-12-86; www.hortus-bulborum.nl; admission 3.50 euros). Because tulip bulbs are alive, each lineage must be grown every year or it will die out. At the Hortus Bulborum, more than 2,500 cultivars are grown in plots arranged alphabetically by variety. If it lacks the composition of the Keukenhof, the place draws serious flower fanciers for a glimpse of history literally alive.

Beds of ancestral wild tulips from the Silk Road bulb trade — weedy things with flowers like small crocuses — give way to dainty Duc van Tol Red and Yellow tulips, the oldest known surviving cultivar, grown each year since 1595. Nearby is La Reine, a compact white bloom shot with rose blush. One of the most-cultivated tulips ever, it nearly went extinct during the Depression. Black Beauty rises dour behind Double Earlies that look more like peonies than tulips, and a few steps away Hummingbird glistens Granny Smith green.

But to me the greatest treasure at the Hortus Bulborum is the showy Orange Favorite. First discovered right in Limmen in 1930, it is the most fragrant — yes, fragrant — variety of tulip known. When I found it, I knew tulip mania: I stooped in the sand, groveling to coax the heady, full scent from the just-unclenching buds, anxious not to lose it to the cool North Sea breeze.

(l) (f) (l) (f) (l) (f) (l) (f)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 11:50 AM
^o) ^o)

Measure your wisdom by answering a questionnaire by Monika Ardelt, a sociology professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

The Wisdom Scorecard on www.nytimes.com


Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 11:53 AM
(f) (f) (f) (f)

The writer talks about why lying about your age doesn’t work anymore, what kind of cosmetic procedure hurts least and what’s wrong with saying there’s nothing wrong with aging.

May 6, 2007

Questions for Nora Ephron

The Older Woman


Q: Despite your reputation as a seriously witty journalist, screenwriter and director, you’ve recently emerged as the poster girl for a whole new wrinkling and sagging population, thanks to your essay collection “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.” How old are you, exactly? I’m 65 going on 66, as we used to say when we were 12.

I’m glad you answered without hesitation. I find it inane when people won’t disclose their age. People go through a whole thing where they think if they don’t tell people how old they are, no one will know. You can’t really do that anymore. That’s over now that we live in this Google age. You’ll be ratted out by all the people you went to college with anyway.

Do you think of yourself as a senior citizen? Do you buy reduced-price senior tickets at movie theaters? Oh, yes, totally. When I buy online, I do, but my husband doesn’t like doing it. It’s a form of magical thinking. He thinks if he doesn’t buy a senior ticket, he’ll stay young.

At what point do you think a person is officially old? There’s a moment when people know — whatever their skills are at denial — that they have passed from what they can delude themselves into thinking is middle age to something that you could call the third act. I’m definitely in the third act.

You’re fairly wrinkle-free. What have you done to your face? I’ve had Restylane injections, only it wasn’t called Restylane; it was called something else. It doesn’t hurt that much. It hurts less than having fat injected into your face, which I’ve also had done. That hurts big-time, although not as much as labor. And it’s shorter than labor.

Why go through all that trouble? Do you think you’re a great beauty? No. Oh, God, no.

Did you think you were attractive when you were younger? I thought I was attractive enough. I didn’t think anyone was ever going to look across the room and say, “Get me her.” But I thought that once they met me, I probably would be all right.

One thing I’ve always envied about you is that you used to prepare yourself the most elaborate, by-the-cookbook dinners when you were eating alone. Or so you’ve written. To me, the yogurt thing — the two yogurts in the refrigerator — seemed pitiful. I don’t think I was ever into anything that seemed pitiful.

Old age can be pitiful. That’s why Americans tend to ignore it. First it was ignored. Then it was boosterized by all those people who wrote these stupid books about it. This insistence on the joy of aging, the joy of menopause, the joy of late-life sex — this is all garbage.

Are you referring to Gail Sheehy’s book “Sex and the Seasoned Woman”? I might be. Books like that just make people feel bad. Because it’s not true.

Is there anything good about growing older? Whenever I am asked that, I always end up sort of scraping the bottom of the barrel with things like, Well, you know, you don’t have to shave your legs as much. It’s hard to think of much that is genuinely better.

One good thing about getting older is that hay fever and other allergies finally go away. Not according to me. I’m allergic to all pollens and most drugs. A couple of years ago, I even turned out to be allergic to Flonase, which was until then my allergy medicine.

What about the old chestnut that age brings wisdom? I am much wiser than I used to be, but of course, I have forgotten most of the things I am supposed to be wise about.

Do you think a woman can ever look better with gray hair? Gray hair looks great when you’re about 34.

Ha, ha. If nothing else, the aging process has furnished you with some good “material.” Any catastrophe is good material for a writer.


(f) (f)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 11:56 AM

May 6, 2007


Muscular Metaphor


Posit Science Brain Fitness Program

A few years back, before the company now known as Posit Science even had a product on the market, its founders considered how to position just what it was they were aiming to sell. One of those founders was a neuroscientist named Michael Merzenich, a professor at the University of California-San Francisco, whose research focused on “brain plasticity.” One way of characterizing the commercial applications that his work helped spawn was “cognitive behavioral training.” Not surprisingly, such phrases gave way to something a bit sexier: “When we talked about it as ‘brain fitness,’ people got it instantly,” recalls Jeff Zimman, Posit Science’s chief executive.

Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program is a computer-aided series of exercises designed to improve memory and other mental functions, and it’s part of what has quickly become a category of fitter-brain products. Along with similarly rigorous rival products with names like BrainBuilder.com and MindFit, there’s the less-scientific portable Nintendo game called Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day, and murmurings of a future when perhaps a cognitive analogue to cosmetic surgery will emerge — instead of a face-lift, a “brain-lift.”

Recent research in the field of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change with determined effort), some of it by Merzenich, has fueled this trend; the Posit Science Web site is crammed with research backing the company’s approach. But the new raft of products also seems to be the latest iteration in the by-now-familiar narrative of the 78 million Americans born in the baby boom: they keep getting older, and they still don’t want to.

Selling boomers the latest mortality-denial aid sounds like (ahem) a no-brainer. But the Posit Science approach is not an instantaneous or a minutes-a-day affair: it involves setting aside chunks of time to complete the lessons, including listening exercises that require special headphones. (One unit called “Listen and Do,” for instance, works on “the short-term memory that is critical in almost all cognitive tasks related to thinking.”) The company recommends completing the 40-hour program within three months. At the end, you get a score telling you how much fitter your brain has become. The cost: $395.

So far the company has largely relied on third parties to connect with consumers (probably numbering in the thousands at this point, the company says). Most notably, the health insurer Humana began offering the program to some of its members. Posit Science’s first sales, Zimman says, were to assisted-living and continuing-care centers in 2005, and it has since been licensed by about 130 such retirement communities. Cognitive functions like memory, attention and visual skills noticeably decline around age 60, Zimman says, and the Brain Fitness Program was designed to “pull people back from the edge.”

But along the way the company’s research suggested that the program benefited people who didn’t need to be pulled back from edge but simply wanted to keep an edge. “Suddenly,” Zimman says, “our business looked different.” It looked, for instance, more likely to appeal to baby boomers. Brent Green, a marketing and communications consultant who specializes in the boomer market, draws a parallel to the jogging and fitness booms that took off when that demographic group hit its 30s. “We’ve reached a life stage where a new kind of fitness starts occurring to us,” he says. Boomers are more comfortable with computers than older generations, he adds, and have a marked “propensity to push the envelope on personal development.” And not incidentally, to compete with one another by any personal-development measure available.

The Los Angeles Unified School District’s adult-education division has become a licensee, offering the Posit Science program as a class that attracted students in their mid-50s to mid-80s. Anova Senior Kare is another licensee, and its chief operating officer, James Luce, has an eye on boomer consumers who “want to keep their brain at a high level.” Along similar lines, Zimman of Posit Science says the company is now devising additional programs to aid other keep-your-edge areas of brain function, like “visual processing” and “executive function.” He compares it to working out your quads instead of your lats. He also speculates about a day when you’ll drop by the “brain fitness center” to do your workout. You can see why such ideas are attractive to the company: pulling back from the edge sounds like a one-time act; but keeping your edge (and keeping it sharper than that of the guy in the next cubicle) is a process that never ends.



Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 12:00 PM

How did the repetitive household tasks our parents and grandparents tried to avoid become midlife leisure activities?


May 6, 2007


Laid-Back Labor


The $140 Homemade Scarf

During the late 19th century, piano manufacturing was one of New York City’s largest industries. Every right-minded American family, it seemed, wanted to fill its home with music. The advent of the player piano — a music-making machine that required zero talent — drove the boom even further. By the 1920s, some 300,000 pianos were being sold in the United States each year, roughly two-thirds of them player pianos.

But a pair of newer technologies, the radio and the phonograph, soon began to drive the piano into a deep disfavor that continues to this day. Last year, Americans bought only 76,966 pianos. That’s a decrease of 75 percent over a period in which the population more than doubled. As much as people may love music, most of them apparently don’t feel the need to make it for themselves. According to Census Bureau statistics, only 7.3 percent of American adults have played a musical instrument in the past 12 months.

Compare this with the 17.5 percent of adults who currently engage in what the Census Bureau calls “cooking for fun.” Or consider that 41 percent of households have flower gardens, 25 percent raise vegetables and 13 percent grow fruit trees — even though just 1 percent of Americans live on a farm today, down from 30 percent in 1920. On a more personal note: one of the authors of this column has a sister who runs a thriving yarn store, while the other is married to a knitting devotee who might buy $40 worth of yarn for a single scarf and then spend 10 hours knitting it. Even if her labor is valued at only $10 an hour, the scarf costs at least $140 — or roughly $100 more than a similar machine-made scarf might cost.

Isn’t it puzzling that so many middle-aged Americans are spending so much of their time and money performing menial labors when they don’t have to? Just as the radio and phonograph proved to be powerful substitutes for the piano, the forces of technology and capitalism have greatly eased the burden of feeding and clothing ourselves. So what’s with all the knitting, gardening and “cooking for fun”? Why do some forms of menial labor survive as hobbies while others have been killed off? (For instance, we can’t think of a single person who, since the invention of the washing machine, practices “laundry for fun.”)

Economists have been trying for decades to measure how much leisure time people have and how they spend it, but there has been precious little consensus. This is in part because it’s hard to say what constitutes leisure and in part because measurements of leisure over the years have not been very consistent.

Economists typically separate our daily activities into three categories: market work (which produces income), home production (unpaid chores) and pure leisure. How, then, are we to categorize knitting, gardening and cooking? While preparing meals at home can certainly be much cheaper than dining out and therefore viewed as home production, what about the “cooking for fun” factor?

In an attempt to address such gray areas, the economists Valerie A. Ramey and Neville Francis classified certain home activities as labor and others as leisure. In their recent paper “A Century of Work and Leisure,” they employed a 1985 time-use survey in which people ranked their enjoyment of various activities on a scale of 0 to 10. Knitting, gardening and cooking were in the middle of the scale, with a 7.7, 7.1 and 6.6, respectively. These ranked well behind the three favorite activities — sex, playing sports and fishing (which scored 9.3, 9.2 and 9.1) — but firmly ahead of paying bills, cleaning the house and, yes, doing the laundry (5.2, 4.9 and 4.8).

But here’s where it gets tricky. Ramey and Francis decided that anything at or above a 7.3 is leisure, while anything below is home production. (Knitting, therefore, makes the grade as leisure; gardening and cooking do not.) This leads them to calculate that we spend less time doing market work today than we did in 1900 but more time in home production. Men, it seems, have contributed mightily to this upsurge: in 1920, employed men spent only two or three hours a week on home production, but they averaged 11 hours by 1965 and 16 hours by 2004.

But how many of those home-production hours are in fact leisure hours? This, it seems, is the real question here: What makes a certain activity work for one person and leisure for another?

With no disrespect toward Ramey and Francis, how about this for an alternative definition: Whether or not you’re getting paid, it’s work if someone else tells you to do it and leisure if you choose to do it yourself. If you are the sort of person who likes to mow his own lawn even though you can afford to pay someone to do it, consider how you’d react if your neighbor offered to pay you the going rate to mow his lawn. The odds are that you wouldn’t accept his job offer.

And so a great many people who can afford not to perform menial labor choose to do so, because — well, why? An evolutionary biologist might say that embedded in our genes is a drive to feed and clothe ourselves and tame our surroundings. An economist, meanwhile, might argue that we respond to incentives that go well beyond the financial; and that, mercifully, we are left free to choose which tasks we want to do ourselves.

Granted, these choices may say a good bit about who we are and where we come from. One of us, for instance (the economist, who lives in Chicago), grew up comfortably in a Midwestern city and has fond memories of visiting his grandparents’ small farm. This author recently bought an indoor hydroponic plant grower. It cost about $150 and to date has produced approximately 14 cherry tomatoes — which, once you factor in the cost of seeds, electricity and even a nominal wage for the labor, puts the average price of a single tomato at roughly $20.

The other one of us (the journalist, who lives in New York) grew up on a small farm and was regularly engaged in all sorts of sowing, mucking and reaping. He, therefore, has little vestigial desire to grow his own food — but he is happy to spend hours shopping for and preparing a special dinner for family and friends. Such dinners, even if the labor were valued at only $10 an hour, are more expensive than a commensurate takeout meal.

Maybe someday the New York guy will get to cook a meal with some of the Chicago guy’s cherry tomatoes. Add in another $32 for next-day shipping, and it might become one of the most expensive meals in recent memory — and, surely, worth every penny.

Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt are the authors of “Freakonomics.” More information on the research behind this column is online at www.freakonomics.com.

Further research can be found at Freakonomics.com

(y) (y) (y) I related to that $140. scarf!!! :D My gardening gets pretty expensive as well. ;)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 12:03 PM
(l) (l) (l)


May 6, 2007

Food: The Way We Eat

Book of Revelations


If there’s such a thing as boomer cuisine, it can be found in the pages of “The Silver Palate Cookbook.” With its chirpy tone and “Moosewood”-in-the-city illustrations, the book, published in time for Mother’s Day in 1982, gave millions of home cooks who hadn’t mastered the art of French cooking the courage to try sophisticated dishes like escabeche, wild mushroom soup and that new thing called pesto. Years later, mothers sent their grads into the world with their raspberry-vinaigrette-stained copies. And now, with the 25th-anniversary edition, a new generation will try dishes like chicken Marbella, which once seemed as risky (capers! prunes!) as the East Village.

The Silver Palate was born of the women’s movement. The co-authors, Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, a caterer and an advertising executive respectively, realized that they couldn’t have it all and dinner too. (“There were school schedules, business appointments, political activities, art projects, sculpting classes ... weekends in the country or at the beach. ... It was much too much,” they later wrote.) If they couldn’t be wonder women, they figured, who could? So just days after the blackout of ’77, they filled the niche with a nook: the Silver Palate, an 11-by-14-foot shop on New York’s Columbus Avenue stocked with tarragon chicken salad, ratatouille, salmon mousse and brownies made from scratch. “The city was primed,” Lukins said recently over lunch in Manhattan. Indeed, that same year the gastro-temple Dean & DeLuca also opened.

At the time, two women opening a business together was “wild,” Lukins said. So were blueberry chutney, pâté maison and poppy-seed dressing. “But people wanted to learn,” Rosso said. “They started to trust us. We began serving bisteeya, torta rustica — in those days, people hadn’t heard of them. As we discovered new things, like balsamic, we could teach them.” Their menus and newsletter, published to demystify the Silver Palate line of condiments, helped form the basis for the cookbook. The cheerful, chatty voice and the tips, menus and quotations that appear on almost every page were a way to make cooking cozy and fun, Rosso said, as well as to tell readers: “Don’t make a big deal with the food. Get some balloons up in the air and have a picnic!”

Now in their early 60s, they are an unlikely pair, Rosso with her highlights and diamonds and Midwestern cheer that sometimes culminates in a “whoop-ee-doo!”; Lukins with her no-nonsense hair and red Bakelite jewelry, a brow arching over her reading glasses as she uses the title “Marat/Sade” to describe a square bathtub. After they sold the Silver Palate in 1988, Rosso returned to her native Michigan to buy and run the Wickwood Inn in Saugatuck with her husband and published two cookbooks; Lukins has written three cookbooks and has been food editor of Parade magazine since 1986, a job she and Rosso took over from Julia Child. The two had a public falling out in 1991, when Lukins objected to something Rosso, who had started a newsletter, wrote about her. Today they have the alternately fond and strained patter of a divorced couple at their child’s wedding.

Both agree on how well the book has held up over the years — though perhaps not physically. (“We sell so many copies because they fall apart” from use, Rosso said.) They’ve added color photos and updated information on cheeses, sausages and heirloom tomatoes. “There’s more to life than button mushrooms,” Lukins said. But most of the recipes remain the same. Although some are as cringe-inducingly dated as navy power suits — cream of mango soup, brie soufflé, dried herbs in everything — others have become a part of the cooking vernacular: curried butternut squash soup, beet-and-apple purée and that once-daring chicken Marbella. Graying Silver Palateers will indeed find the new edition cozy and fun. Generation X-ers will value the kitsch factor, feeling slight embarrassment at having once thought it so sophisticated and adult; as for generations Y and Z, there are some solid basics to be found, if a good quiche is what those entitled ingrates are into these days.

“I made chicken Marbella a few weeks ago as an appetizer at the inn,” Rosso said. “The next day I took the leftovers, reheated them in a frying pan, put it on arugula with asparagus and red-wine vinaigrette and stuck some of the Marbella juices into the vinaigrette. It only took me 25 years to do it! You can teach an old dog new tricks, right, Lukie?”

The following recipes were adapted from “The Silver Palate Cookbook.”

Chicken Marbella

½ cup olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup pitted prunes

½ cup pitted Spanish green olives

½ cup capers, with a bit of juice

6 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, peeled and puréed

½ cup fresh oregano, chopped, or ¼ cup dried oregano

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 chickens, 3 ½ to 4 pounds each, quartered

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley.

1. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan; spoon the marinade over it evenly. Pour in the wine and sprinkle the chicken with the brown sugar.

3. Bake until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow juice when pricked with a fork, 50 to 60 minutes, basting two or three times with the pan juices once the chicken begins to brown. (When basting, do not brush off the sugar. If the chicken browns too quickly, cover lightly with foil.)

4. Transfer the chicken pieces to a warm serving platter and top with the prunes, olives and capers; keep warm. Place the roasting pan over medium heat and bring the pan juices to a boil. Reduce to about ½ cup. Strain into a heatproof bowl, add the parsley and pour over the chicken. Serves 6.

Decadent Chocolate Cake

For the cake:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pan

1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring the pan

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups sugar

2 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon baking powder

For the frosting:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

6 tablespoons heavy cream

1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

2. Cut the chocolate and butter into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour 1 cup boiling water over them; let stand until melted. Stir in the vanilla and sugar, then whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time.

3. In a small bowl, mix the baking soda and sour cream and whisk into the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the batter, mixing thoroughly.

4. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not too dry. Stir a quarter of the egg whites thoroughly into the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set on the center rack of the oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, unmold and cool completely before frosting.

6. To make the frosting: Place all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth. Spread on the cake while the frosting is still warm. Serves 12.

(l) (f) (l) (f) "The Silver Palate was born of the women’s movement." BRAVO!!!! (y)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 12:09 PM
:s :s

Will this be the summer — when a peak travel season meets a tottering system — that finally breaks the poor camel’s back?


May 8, 2007

On the Road

Flying This Summer? Fasten Your Seat Belt


REMEMBER the summer of 2000, when delays, cancellations and work slowdowns by pilots sometimes brought the air travel system to near collapse?

Well, indications are that we are also going to remember the summer of 2007. Again, delays are accumulating. With no slack in a tightly constricted system, bad weather is routinely creating chaos and stranding people on parked airplanes that can’t find a takeoff slot or a gate to get back to.

Will this be the summer — when a peak travel season meets a tottering system — that finally breaks the poor camel’s back?

“Well, it’s possibly going to be a nightmare,” said Tim Kirkwood, changing metaphors.

Mr. Kirkwood was a flight attendant for 25 years with T.W.A., and then for another three years with American Airlines after it bought T.W.A. Along with thousands of other American flight attendants, he was laid off four years ago as the industry struggled to cut costs and regain footing after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Mr. Kirkwood, 53, wrote a book in 2002 called “The Flight Attendant Job Finder and Career Guide,” which is now in its third edition. Mr. Kirkwood also has a Web site:

www.flightattendantcareerguide .com.

Despite what may lie ahead, he says he is ready to suit up again for the summer of 2007. He said he starts training as a JetBlue Airways flight attendant next month and expects to be back in the air by July.

Here are the three biggest changes he’ll encounter:

Domestic airplanes more packed than ever, with the percentage of seats filled — what is known as the load factor — running in the range of 85 percent. That means, as it has for many months, that most planes will be flying with every seat full on popular routes.

A shrunken capacity on domestic flights, as major network airlines have dispatched bigger planes to more profitable international routes.

Customers who are more unhappy than ever at the effort it takes to fly.

Underscoring the worsening conditions are a series of major incidents in the last six months, where passengers were unable to get off parked planes and suffered without food or water, while toilet conditions deteriorated, for 10 hours and more. The most recent occurred on April 24 in Austin and San Antonio, Tex., where bad weather stranded airplanes on ramps, unable to take off or find a gate to return to the terminal.

These delay fiascos have prompted a grass-roots movement to pressure Congress to pass legislation that would force airlines to get passengers off stranded planes after a certain period of time. Airlines would also have to make sure passengers on long-delayed planes had adequate food and water, and were compensated for long delays and cancellations.

The industry says airlines should be able to police themselves, without a federal law. But that was what the industry successfully argued in 1999, after a series of lesser incidents that stranded passengers on planes for long hours during bad weather.

“If the industry does not take action to address these issues, then Congress will,” Jerry F. Costello, an Illinois Democrat who heads the House Transportation Committee’s aviation subcommittee, said at a recent hearing.

Whatever the industry and Congress do, all indications are that it’s going to be a rough summer. My strongest advice is this: Always get to the airport two hours before departure, and try to plan connecting flights with extra time built in to anticipate at least routine delays.

Meanwhile, hope that your fellow passengers can grin and bear it. Hope that a degree of civility prevails. For hell, as Jean-Paul Sartre might have said had he been flying today, is that slob in the middle seat next to you.

Ask Michele Norris, a consultant who travels at least 100,000 miles a year, mostly on transcontinental and occasionally on international flights. Recently, she was in a window seat on a full flight from Newark to San Francisco, next to a man who opened his laptop on his tray table and began watching a hard-core pornographic DVD.

“It was hard to ignore, with him sitting that close,” said Ms. Norris, who finally got up and asked a flight attendant what could be done, since she didn’t want to engage the man. The answer: Nothing.

Mr. Kirkwood sympathized. “Typically, there isn’t much you can do that won’t come back to haunt you later with some lawsuit or trouble,” he said. “It could be like, ‘You didn’t recognize Ron Jeremy?’ ” he said, referring to the porn industry star.

Ms. Norris said she just felt under visual assault, in tighter quarters than people are usually accustomed to sharing with strangers.

“I was go glad when his battery finally died,” she said.

:| :| :| Whew! Forget the pleasure travel IMHO - I'm planning a move this Summer. Maybe September will be a better moving month. :) (ap) (ap) For Wyatt as well as me. (ap) (ap)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 12:12 PM
(l) (l) (l)

"It’s at the bottom of a sandstone ravine, surrounded by gum trees — a really quiet place. I was just thinking how good it was to be back home again, to be with my family, to be back in the bush.”


:| :| Would YOU get into this muddy H2O?? Not moi.

"Wouldn't you like to be a Boomer too? Be a Boomer, an outrageously young Boomer."


Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 12:18 PM
(c) (c)


May 9, 2007

The Minimalist

A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks


THE question I’m asked more often than any other is, “What kitchen equipment should I buy?”

Like cookbooks, kitchen equipment is a talisman; people believe that buying the right kind will make them good cooks. Yet some of the best cooks I’ve known worked with a battered batterie de cuisine: dented pots and pans scarred beyond recognition, an old steak knife turned into an all-purpose tool, a pot lid held just so to strain pasta when the colander was missing, a food processor with a busted switch. They didn’t complain and they didn’t apologize; they just cooked.

But famous TV chefs use gorgeous name-brand equipment, you might say. And you’d be right. But a.) they get much of that stuff free, the manufacturers hoping that placing it in the hands of a well-known chef will make you think it’s essential; b.) they want their equipment to be pretty, so you’ll think they’re important; and c.) see above: a costly knife is not a talisman and you are not a TV chef.

Finally (and this is crucial), the best chefs may use the best-looking equipment when they are in public view, but when it is time to buy equipment for the people who actually prepare those $200 restaurant meals, they go to a restaurant supply house to shop for the everyday cookware I recommend to people all the time.

In fact, I contend that with a bit of savvy, patience and a willingness to forgo steel-handle knives, copper pots and other extravagant items, $200 can equip a basic kitchen that will be adequate for just about any task, and $300 can equip one quite well.

To prove my point I put together a list of everything needed for almost any cooking task. I bought most of the equipment at Bowery Restaurant Supply, 183 Bowery Street (Delancey Street), where the bill came to just about $200. Throw in a few items the store didn’t have and a few extras, and the total would be about $300. (New York happens to have scores of restaurant supply shops, but every metropolitan area has at least one.)

I started with an eight-inch, plastic-handle stainless alloy chef’s knife for $10. This is probably the most essential tool in the kitchen. People not only obsess about knives (and write entire articles about them), but you can easily spend over $100 on just one. Yet go into any restaurant kitchen and you will see most of the cooks using this same plastic-handle Dexter-Russell tool. (Go to the wrong store and you’ll spend $20 or even $30 on the same knife.)

I found an instant-read thermometer, a necessity for beginning cooks and obsessive-compulsives, for $5. Three stainless steel bowls — not gorgeous and maybe a little thin — set me back about $5. You are reading that right. Sturdy tongs, an underappreciated tool: $3.50 (don’t buy them too long, make sure the spring is nice and tight, and don’t shop for them at a “culinary” store, where they’ll cost four times as much).

For less than $6 I picked up a sturdy sheet pan. It’s not an ideal cookie sheet but it’s useful for roasting and baking (not a bad tray, either, and one of the more common items in restaurant kitchens). A plastic cutting board was about the same price. For aesthetic purposes I’d rather have wood, but plastic can go into the dishwasher.

At $3, a paring knife was so cheap I could replace it every year or two. I splurged on a Japanese mandoline for $25. (It’s not indispensable, but since my knife skills are pathetic, I use mine whenever I want thin, even slices or a real julienne.)

You, or the college graduate you are thinking of, might own some of the things I bought: a $4 can opener; a vegetable peeler (I like the U-shaped type, which cost me $3); a colander ($7, and I probably could’ve gotten one cheaper).

You are thinking to yourself: “Humph. He’s ignoring pots and pans, the most expensive items of all.” Au contraire, my friend; I bought five, and I could live with four (though I’d rather have six): a small, medium and large cast-aluminum saucepan (total: about $30); a medium nonstick cast aluminum pan (10-inch; $13); and a large steep-sided, heavier duty steel pan (14-inch; $25). I bought a single lid ($5; I often use plates or whatever’s handy for lids because I can never find the right one anyway).

I like cast iron, and I have used it in some kitchens for nearly everything; but it can be more expensive than this quite decent cheap stuff, and it’s very heavy. What you don’t want is the awful wafer thin (and relatively more expensive) sets of stainless or aluminum ones sold in big-box stores.

Other things, like the mandoline, are almost luxury items: a skimmer (I like these for removing dumplings or gnocchi); a slotted spoon; a heat-resistant rubber spatula (which can replace the classic wooden spoon); a bread knife (good for crusty loaves and ripe tomatoes); and a big whisk (which I might use three times a year).

You should also have a food processor (you want 12-cup capacity, and Amazon.com, for example, has an adequate 14-cup Hamilton Beach for $60); a salad spinner (the one at Bowery Restaurant Supply was as big as my kitchen; you will find one for $15 somewhere); a Microplane grater (the old box graters have been largely replaced by the food processor, but you’ll need something for cheese, nutmeg and your oft-used asafetida; it’ll set you back less than $10). A coffee and spice grinder is another $10 item.

A blender is a bit more optional. An immersion one is nice, but standard ones are more useful, and you can find them for as little as $15.

And, finally, something with which to keep those knives sharp. A whetstone costs about $6, and if you use it, it will work fine; a decent steel is expensive enough that you may as well graduate to an electric sharpener. Though sharpeners take up counter space and cost at least $30, they work well.

The point is not so much that you can equip a real kitchen without much money, but that the fear of buying the wrong kind of equipment is unfounded. It needs only to be functional, not prestigious, lavish or expensive.

Keep that in mind, stay out of the fancy places and find a good restaurant supply house. If you make a mistake — something is the wrong size or of such lousy quality you can’t bear it — you can spend 20 bucks more another time. Meanwhile, you’ll be cooking.

The Inessentials

YOU can live without these 10 kitchen items:

BREAD MACHINE You can buy mediocre bread easily enough, or make the real thing without much practice.

MICROWAVE If you do a lot of reheating or fast (and damaging) defrosting, you may want one. But essential? No. And think about that counter space!

STAND MIXER Unless you’re a baking fanatic, it takes up too much room to justify it. A good whisk or a crummy handheld mixer will do fine.

BONING/FILLETING KNIVES Really? You’re a butcher now? Or a fishmonger? If so, go ahead, by all means. But I haven’t used my boning knife in years. (It’s pretty, though.)

WOK Counterproductive without a good wok station equipped with a high-B.T.U. burner. (There’s a nice setup at Bowery Restaurant Supply for $1,400 if you have the cash and the space.)

STOCKPOT The pot you use for boiling pasta will suffice, until you start making gallons of stock at a time.

PRESSURE COOKER It’s useful, but do you need one? No.

ANYTHING MADE OF COPPER More trouble than it’s worth, unless you have a pine-paneled wall you want to decorate.

RICE COOKER Yes, if you eat rice twice daily. Otherwise, no.

COUNTERTOP CONVECTION OVEN, ROTISSERIE, OR “ROASTER” Only if you’re a sucker for late-night cooking infomercials.

8-| (h) 8-| (h)8-| (h)8-| (h)8-| (h)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 01:58 PM
(l) (8) (l) (8) (l) (8) (l) (8)

Pearls Before Breakfast

Can one of the nation's great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let's find out.

By Gene Weingarten

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, April 8, 2007; Page W10

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.

It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Almost all of them were on the way to work, which meant, for almost all of them, a government job. L'Enfant Plaza is at the nucleus of federal Washington, and these were mostly mid-level bureaucrats with those indeterminate, oddly fungible titles: policy analyst, project manager, budget officer, specialist, facilitator, consultant.

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?

On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

The musician did not play popular tunes whose familiarity alone might have drawn interest. That was not the test. These were masterpieces that have endured for centuries on their brilliance alone, soaring music befitting the grandeur of cathedrals and concert halls.

The acoustics proved surprisingly kind. Though the arcade is of utilitarian design, a buffer between the Metro escalator and the outdoors, it somehow caught the sound and bounced it back round and resonant. The violin is an instrument that is said to be much like the human voice, and in this musician's masterly hands, it sobbed and laughed and sang -- ecstatic, sorrowful, importuning, adoring, flirtatious, castigating, playful, romancing, merry, triumphal, sumptuous.

So, what do you think happened?


Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, was asked the same question. What did he think would occur, hypothetically, if one of the world's great violinists had performed incognito before a traveling rush-hour audience of 1,000-odd people?

"Let's assume," Slatkin said, "that he is not recognized and just taken for granted as a street musician . . . Still, I don't think that if he's really good, he's going to go unnoticed. He'd get a larger audience in Europe . . . but, okay, out of 1,000 people, my guess is there might be 35 or 40 who will recognize the quality for what it is. Maybe 75 to 100 will stop and spend some time listening."

So, a crowd would gather?

"Oh, yes."

And how much will he make?

"About $150."

Thanks, Maestro. As it happens, this is not hypothetical. It really happened.

"How'd I do?"

We'll tell you in a minute.

"Well, who was the musician?"

Joshua Bell.


A onetime child prodigy, at 39 Joshua Bell has arrived as an internationally acclaimed virtuoso. Three days before he appeared at the Metro station, Bell had filled the house at Boston's stately Symphony Hall, where merely pretty good seats went for $100. Two weeks later, at the Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, he would play to a standing-room-only audience so respectful of his artistry that they stifled their coughs until the silence between movements. But on that Friday in January, Joshua Bell was just another mendicant, competing for the attention of busy people on their way to work.

Bell was first pitched this idea shortly before Christmas, over coffee at a sandwich shop on Capitol Hill. A New Yorker, he was in town to perform at the Library of Congress and to visit the library's vaults to examine an unusual treasure: an 18th-century violin that once belonged to the great Austrian-born virtuoso and composer Fritz Kreisler. The curators invited Bell to play it; good sound, still.

"Here's what I'm thinking," Bell confided, as he sipped his coffee. "I'm thinking that I could do a tour where I'd play Kreisler's music . . ."

He smiled.

". . . on Kreisler's violin."

It was a snazzy, sequined idea -- part inspiration and part gimmick -- and it was typical of Bell, who has unapologetically embraced showmanship even as his concert career has become more and more august. He's soloed with the finest orchestras here and abroad, but he's also appeared on "Sesame Street," done late-night talk TV and performed in feature films. That was Bell playing the soundtrack on the 1998 movie "The Red Violin." (He body-doubled, too, playing to a naked Greta Scacchi.) As composer John Corigliano accepted the Oscar for Best Original Dramatic Score, he credited Bell, who, he said, "plays like a god."

When Bell was asked if he'd be willing to don street clothes and perform at rush hour, he said:

"Uh, a stunt?"

Well, yes. A stunt. Would he think it . . . unseemly?

Bell drained his cup.

"Sounds like fun," he said.

Bell's a heartthrob. Tall and handsome, he's got a Donny Osmond-like dose of the cutes, and, onstage, cute elides into hott. When he performs, he is usually the only man under the lights who is not in white tie and tails -- he walks out to a standing O, looking like Zorro, in black pants and an untucked black dress shirt, shirttail dangling. That cute Beatles-style mop top is also a strategic asset: Because his technique is full of body -- athletic and passionate -- he's almost dancing with the instrument, and his hair flies.

He's single and straight, a fact not lost on some of his fans. In Boston, as he performed Max Bruch's dour Violin Concerto in G Minor, the very few young women in the audience nearly disappeared in the deep sea of silver heads. But seemingly every single one of them -- a distillate of the young and pretty -- coalesced at the stage door after the performance, seeking an autograph. It's like that always, with Bell.

Bell's been accepting over-the-top accolades since puberty: Interview magazine once said his playing "does nothing less than tell human beings why they bother to live." He's learned to field these things graciously, with a bashful duck of the head and a modified "pshaw."

For this incognito performance, Bell had only one condition for participating. The event had been described to him as a test of whether, in an incongruous context, ordinary people would recognize genius. His condition: "I'm not comfortable if you call this genius." "Genius" is an overused word, he said: It can be applied to some of the composers whose work he plays, but not to him. His skills are largely interpretive, he said, and to imply otherwise would be unseemly and inaccurate.

It was an interesting request, and under the circumstances, one that will be honored. The word will not again appear in this article.

It would be breaking no rules, however, to note that the term in question, particularly as applied in the field of music, refers to a congenital brilliance -- an elite, innate, preternatural ability that manifests itself early, and often in dramatic fashion.

One biographically intriguing fact about Bell is that he got his first music lessons when he was a 4-year-old in Bloomington, Ind. His parents, both psychologists, decided formal training might be a good idea after they saw that their son had strung rubber bands across his dresser drawers and was replicating classical tunes by ear, moving drawers in and out to vary the pitch.

TO GET TO THE METRO FROM HIS HOTEL, a distance of three blocks, Bell took a taxi. He's neither lame nor lazy: He did it for his violin.

Bell always performs on the same instrument, and he ruled out using another for this gig. Called the Gibson ex Huberman, it was handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari during the Italian master's "golden period," toward the end of his career, when he had access to the finest spruce, maple and willow, and when his technique had been refined to perfection.

"Our knowledge of acoustics is still incomplete," Bell said, "but he, he just . . . knew."

Bell doesn't mention Stradivari by name. Just "he." When the violinist shows his Strad to people, he holds the instrument gingerly by its neck, resting it on a knee. "He made this to perfect thickness at all parts," Bell says, pivoting it. "If you shaved off a millimeter of wood at any point, it would totally imbalance the sound." No violins sound as wonderful as Strads from the 1710s, still.

The front of Bell's violin is in nearly perfect condition, with a deep, rich grain and luster. The back is a mess, its dark reddish finish bleeding away into a flatter, lighter shade and finally, in one section, to bare wood.

"This has never been refinished," Bell said. "That's his original varnish. People attribute aspects of the sound to the varnish. Each maker had his own secret formula." Stradivari is thought to have made his from an ingeniously balanced cocktail of honey, egg whites and gum arabic from sub-Saharan trees.

Like the instrument in "The Red Violin," this one has a past filled with mystery and malice. Twice, it was stolen from its illustrious prior owner, the Polish virtuoso Bronislaw Huberman. The first time, in 1919, it disappeared from Huberman's hotel room in Vienna but was quickly returned. The second time, nearly 20 years later, it was pinched from his dressing room in Carnegie Hall. He never got it back. It was not until 1985 that the thief -- a minor New York violinist -- made a deathbed confession to his wife, and produced the instrument.

Bell bought it a few years ago. He had to sell his own Strad and borrow much of the rest. The price tag was reported to be about $3.5 million.

All of which is a long explanation for why, in the early morning chill of a day in January, Josh Bell took a three-block cab ride to the Orange Line, and rode one stop to L'Enfant.

AS METRO STATIONS GO, L'ENFANT PLAZA IS MORE PLEBEIAN THAN MOST. Even before you arrive, it gets no respect. Metro conductors never seem to get it right: "Leh-fahn." "Layfont." "El'phant."

At the top of the escalators are a shoeshine stand and a busy kiosk that sells newspapers, lottery tickets and a wallfull of magazines with titles such as Mammazons and Girls of Barely Legal. The skin mags move, but it's that lottery ticket dispenser that stays the busiest, with customers queuing up for Daily 6 lotto and Powerball and the ultimate suckers' bait, those pamphlets that sell random number combinations purporting to be "hot." They sell briskly. There's also a quick-check machine to slide in your lotto ticket, post-drawing, to see if you've won. Beneath it is a forlorn pile of crumpled slips.

On Friday, January 12, the people waiting in the lottery line looking for a long shot would get a lucky break -- a free, close-up ticket to a concert by one of the world's most famous musicians -- but only if they were of a mind to take note.

Bell decided to begin with "Chaconne" from Johann Sebastian Bach's Partita No. 2 in D Minor. Bell calls it "not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history. It's a spiritually powerful piece, emotionally powerful, structurally perfect. Plus, it was written for a solo violin, so I won't be cheating with some half-assed version."

Bell didn't say it, but Bach's "Chaconne" is also considered one of the most difficult violin pieces to master. Many try; few succeed. It's exhaustingly long -- 14 minutes -- and consists entirely of a single, succinct musical progression repeated in dozens of variations to create a dauntingly complex architecture of sound. Composed around 1720, on the eve of the European Enlightenment, it is said to be a celebration of the breadth of human possibility.

If Bell's encomium to "Chaconne" seems overly effusive, consider this from the 19th-century composer Johannes Brahms, in a letter to Clara Schumann: "On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind."

So, that's the piece Bell started with.

He'd clearly meant it when he promised not to cheap out this performance: He played with acrobatic enthusiasm, his body leaning into the music and arching on tiptoes at the high notes. The sound was nearly symphonic, carrying to all parts of the homely arcade as the pedestrian traffic filed past.

Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something.

A half-minute later, Bell got his first donation. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened.

Things never got much better. In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

No, Mr. Slatkin, there was never a crowd, not even for a second.

It was all videotaped by a hidden camera. You can play the recording once or 15 times, and it never gets any easier to watch. Try speeding it up, and it becomes one of those herky-jerky World War I-era silent newsreels. The people scurry by in comical little hops and starts, cups of coffee in their hands, cellphones at their ears, ID tags slapping at their bellies, a grim danse macabre to indifference, inertia and the dingy, gray rush of modernity.

Even at this accelerated pace, though, the fiddler's movements remain fluid and graceful; he seems so apart from his audience -- unseen, unheard, otherworldly -- that you find yourself thinking that he's not really there. A ghost.

Only then do you see it: He is the one who is real. They are the ghosts.


It's an old epistemological debate, older, actually, than the koan about the tree in the forest. Plato weighed in on it, and philosophers for two millennia afterward: What is beauty? Is it a measurable fact (Gottfried Leibniz), or merely an opinion (David Hume), or is it a little of each, colored by the immediate state of mind of the observer (Immanuel Kant)?

We'll go with Kant, because he's obviously right, and because he brings us pretty directly to Joshua Bell, sitting there in a hotel restaurant, picking at his breakfast, wryly trying to figure out what the hell had just happened back there at the Metro.

"At the beginning," Bell says, "I was just concentrating on playing the music. I wasn't really watching what was happening around me . . ."

Playing the violin looks all-consuming, mentally and physically, but Bell says that for him the mechanics of it are partly second nature, cemented by practice and muscle memory: It's like a juggler, he says, who can keep those balls in play while interacting with a crowd. What he's mostly thinking about as he plays, Bell says, is capturing emotion as a narrative: "When you play a violin piece, you are a storyteller, and you're telling a story."

With "Chaconne," the opening is filled with a building sense of awe. That kept him busy for a while. Eventually, though, he began to steal a sidelong glance.

"It was a strange feeling, that people were actually, ah . . ."

The word doesn't come easily.

". . . ignoring me."

Bell is laughing. It's at himself.

"At a music hall, I'll get upset if someone coughs or if someone's cellphone goes off. But here, my expectations quickly diminished. I started to appreciate any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when someone threw in a dollar instead of change." This is from a man whose talents can command $1,000 a minute.

Before he began, Bell hadn't known what to expect. What he does know is that, for some reason, he was nervous.

"It wasn't exactly stage fright, but there were butterflies," he says. "I was stressing a little."

Bell has played, literally, before crowned heads of Europe. Why the anxiety at the Washington Metro?

"When you play for ticket-holders," Bell explains, "you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I'm already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don't like me? What if they resent my presence . . ."

He was, in short, art without a frame. Which, it turns out, may have a lot to do with what happened -- or, more precisely, what didn't happen -- on January 12.

MARK LEITHAUSER HAS HELD IN HIS HANDS MORE GREAT WORKS OF ART THAN ANY KING OR POPE OR MEDICI EVER DID. A senior curator at the National Gallery, he oversees the framing of the paintings. Leithauser thinks he has some idea of what happened at that Metro station.

"Let's say I took one of our more abstract masterpieces, say an Ellsworth Kelly, and removed it from its frame, marched it down the 52 steps that people walk up to get to the National Gallery, past the giant columns, and brought it into a restaurant. It's a $5 million painting. And it's one of those restaurants where there are pieces of original art for sale, by some industrious kids from the Corcoran School, and I hang that Kelly on the wall with a price tag of $150. No one is going to notice it. An art curator might look up and say: 'Hey, that looks a little like an Ellsworth Kelly. Please pass the salt.'"

Leithauser's point is that we shouldn't be too ready to label the Metro passersby unsophisticated boobs. Context matters.

Kant said the same thing. He took beauty seriously: In his Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, Kant argued that one's ability to appreciate beauty is related to one's ability to make moral judgments. But there was a caveat. Paul Guyer of the University of Pennsylvania, one of America's most prominent Kantian scholars, says the 18th-century German philosopher felt that to properly appreciate beauty, the viewing conditions must be optimal.

"Optimal," Guyer said, "doesn't mean heading to work, focusing on your report to the boss, maybe your shoes don't fit right."

So, if Kant had been at the Metro watching as Joshua Bell play to a thousand unimpressed passersby?

"He would have inferred about them," Guyer said, "absolutely nothing."

And that's that.

Except it isn't. To really understand what happened, you have to rewind that video and play it back from the beginning, from the moment Bell's bow first touched the strings.


(l) (8) (l) (8) The child was the only one to KNOW what he was listening to was unique, spectacular and touched his soul. Hmmm.....isn't it kind of sad that as we age, we acquire filters which prevent us adults to "just know" heavenly music played by an extremely gifted musician? That yound children hear and just know? (l) (8) (l)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 02:00 PM
(l) (8) (l) (8)

White guy, khakis, leather jacket, briefcase. Early 30s. John David Mortensen is on the final leg of his daily bus-to-Metro commute from Reston. He's heading up the escalator. It's a long ride -- 1 minute and 15 seconds if you don't walk. So, like most everyone who passes Bell this day, Mortensen gets a good earful of music before he has his first look at the musician. Like most of them, he notes that it sounds pretty good. But like very few of them, when he gets to the top, he doesn't race past as though Bell were some nuisance to be avoided. Mortensen is that first person to stop, that guy at the six-minute mark.

It's not that he has nothing else to do. He's a project manager for an international program at the Department of Energy; on this day, Mortensen has to participate in a monthly budget exercise, not the most exciting part of his job: "You review the past month's expenditures," he says, "forecast spending for the next month, if you have X dollars, where will it go, that sort of thing."

On the video, you can see Mortensen get off the escalator and look around. He locates the violinist, stops, walks away but then is drawn back. He checks the time on his cellphone -- he's three minutes early for work -- then settles against a wall to listen.

Mortensen doesn't know classical music at all; classic rock is as close as he comes. But there's something about what he's hearing that he really likes.

As it happens, he's arrived at the moment that Bell slides into the second section of "Chaconne." ("It's the point," Bell says, "where it moves from a darker, minor key into a major key. There's a religious, exalted feeling to it.") The violinist's bow begins to dance; the music becomes upbeat, playful, theatrical, big.

Mortensen doesn't know about major or minor keys: "Whatever it was," he says, "it made me feel at peace."

So, for the first time in his life, Mortensen lingers to listen to a street musician. He stays his allotted three minutes as 94 more people pass briskly by. When he leaves to help plan contingency budgets for the Department of Energy, there's another first. For the first time in his life, not quite knowing what had just happened but sensing it was special, John David Mortensen gives a street musician money.

THERE ARE SIX MOMENTS IN THE VIDEO THAT BELL FINDS PARTICULARLY PAINFUL TO RELIVE: "The awkward times," he calls them. It's what happens right after each piece ends: nothing. The music stops. The same people who hadn't noticed him playing don't notice that he has finished. No applause, no acknowledgment. So Bell just saws out a small, nervous chord -- the embarrassed musician's equivalent of, "Er, okay, moving right along . . ." -- and begins the next piece.

After "Chaconne," it is Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria," which surprised some music critics when it debuted in 1825: Schubert seldom showed religious feeling in his compositions, yet "Ave Maria" is a breathtaking work of adoration of the Virgin Mary. What was with the sudden piety? Schubert dryly answered: "I think this is due to the fact that I never forced devotion in myself and never compose hymns or prayers of that kind unless it overcomes me unawares; but then it is usually the right and true devotion." This musical prayer became among the most familiar and enduring religious pieces in history.

A couple of minutes into it, something revealing happens. A woman and her preschooler emerge from the escalator. The woman is walking briskly and, therefore, so is the child. She's got his hand.

"I had a time crunch," recalls Sheron Parker, an IT director for a federal agency. "I had an 8:30 training class, and first I had to rush Evvie off to his teacher, then rush back to work, then to the training facility in the basement."

Evvie is her son, Evan. Evan is 3.

You can see Evan clearly on the video. He's the cute black kid in the parka who keeps twisting around to look at Joshua Bell, as he is being propelled toward the door.

"There was a musician," Parker says, "and my son was intrigued. He wanted to pull over and listen, but I was rushed for time."

So Parker does what she has to do. She deftly moves her body between Evan's and Bell's, cutting off her son's line of sight. As they exit the arcade, Evan can still be seen craning to look. When Parker is told what she walked out on, she laughs.

"Evan is very smart!"

The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother's heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too.

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.

IF THERE WAS ONE PERSON ON THAT DAY WHO WAS TOO BUSY TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE VIOLINIST, it was George Tindley. Tindley wasn't hurrying to get to work. He was at work.

The glass doors through which most people exit the L'Enfant station lead into an indoor shopping mall, from which there are exits to the street and elevators to office buildings. The first store in the mall is an Au Bon Pain, the croissant and coffee shop where Tindley, in his 40s, works in a white uniform busing the tables, restocking the salt and pepper packets, taking out the garbage. Tindley labors under the watchful eye of his bosses, and he's supposed to be hopping, and he was.

But every minute or so, as though drawn by something not entirely within his control, Tindley would walk to the very edge of the Au Bon Pain property, keeping his toes inside the line, still on the job. Then he'd lean forward, as far out into the hallway as he could, watching the fiddler on the other side of the glass doors. The foot traffic was steady, so the doors were usually open. The sound came through pretty well.

"You could tell in one second that this guy was good, that he was clearly a professional," Tindley says. He plays the guitar, loves the sound of strings, and has no respect for a certain kind of musician.

"Most people, they play music; they don't feel it," Tindley says. "Well, that man was feeling it. That man was moving. Moving into the sound."

A hundred feet away, across the arcade, was the lottery line, sometimes five or six people long. They had a much better view of Bell than Tindley did, if they had just turned around. But no one did. Not in the entire 43 minutes. They just shuffled forward toward that machine spitting out numbers. Eyes on the prize.

J.T. Tillman was in that line. A computer specialist for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he remembers every single number he played that day -- 10 of them, $2 apiece, for a total of $20. He doesn't recall what the violinist was playing, though. He says it sounded like generic classical music, the kind the ship's band was playing in "Titanic," before the iceberg.

"I didn't think nothing of it," Tillman says, "just a guy trying to make a couple of bucks." Tillman would have given him one or two, he said, but he spent all his cash on lotto.

When he is told that he stiffed one of the best musicians in the world, he laughs.

"Is he ever going to play around here again?"

"Yeah, but you're going to have to pay a lot to hear him."


Tillman didn't win the lottery, either.

BELL ENDS "AVE MARIA" TO ANOTHER THUNDEROUS SILENCE, plays Manuel Ponce's sentimental "Estrellita," then a piece by Jules Massenet, and then begins a Bach gavotte, a joyful, frolicsome, lyrical dance. It's got an Old World delicacy to it; you can imagine it entertaining bewigged dancers at a Versailles ball, or -- in a lute, fiddle and fife version -- the boot-kicking peasants of a Pieter Bruegel painting.

Watching the video weeks later, Bell finds himself mystified by one thing only. He understands why he's not drawing a crowd, in the rush of a morning workday. But: "I'm surprised at the number of people who don't pay attention at all, as if I'm invisible. Because, you know what? I'm makin' a lot of noise!"

He is. You don't need to know music at all to appreciate the simple fact that there's a guy there, playing a violin that's throwing out a whole bucket of sound; at times, Bell's bowing is so intricate that you seem to be hearing two instruments playing in harmony. So those head-forward, quick-stepping passersby are a remarkable phenomenon.

Bell wonders whether their inattention may be deliberate: If you don't take visible note of the musician, you don't have to feel guilty about not forking over money; you're not complicit in a rip-off.

It may be true, but no one gave that explanation. People just said they were busy, had other things on their mind. Some who were on cellphones spoke louder as they passed Bell, to compete with that infernal racket.

And then there was Calvin Myint. Myint works for the General Services Administration. He got to the top of the escalator, turned right and headed out a door to the street. A few hours later, he had no memory that there had been a musician anywhere in sight.

"Where was he, in relation to me?"

"About four feet away."


There's nothing wrong with Myint's hearing. He had buds in his ear. He was listening to his iPod.

For many of us, the explosion in technology has perversely limited, not expanded, our exposure to new experiences. Increasingly, we get our news from sources that think as we already do. And with iPods, we hear what we already know; we program our own playlists.

The song that Calvin Myint was listening to was "Just Like Heaven," by the British rock band The Cure. It's a terrific song, actually. The meaning is a little opaque, and the Web is filled with earnest efforts to deconstruct it. Many are far-fetched, but some are right on point: It's about a tragic emotional disconnect. A man has found the woman of his dreams but can't express the depth of his feeling for her until she's gone. It's about failing to see the beauty of what's plainly in front of your eyes.

"YES, I SAW THE VIOLINIST," Jackie Hessian says, "but nothing about him struck me as much of anything."

You couldn't tell that by watching her. Hessian was one of those people who gave Bell a long, hard look before walking on. It turns out that she wasn't noticing the music at all.

"I really didn't hear that much," she said. "I was just trying to figure out what he was doing there, how does this work for him, can he make much money, would it be better to start with some money in the case, or for it to be empty, so people feel sorry for you? I was analyzing it financially."

What do you do, Jackie?

"I'm a lawyer in labor relations with the United States Postal Service. I just negotiated a national contract."

THE BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE WERE UPHOLSTERED. In the balcony, more or less. On that day, for $5, you'd get a lot more than just a nice shine on your shoes.

Only one person occupied one of those seats when Bell played. Terence Holmes is a consultant for the Department of Transportation, and he liked the music just fine, but it was really about a shoeshine: "My father told me never to wear a suit with your shoes not cleaned and shined."

Holmes wears suits often, so he is up in that perch a lot, and he's got a good relationship with the shoeshine lady. Holmes is a good tipper and a good talker, which is a skill that came in handy that day. The shoeshine lady was upset about something, and the music got her more upset. She complained, Holmes said, that the music was too loud, and he tried to calm her down.

Edna Souza is from Brazil. She's been shining shoes at L'Enfant Plaza for six years, and she's had her fill of street musicians there; when they play, she can't hear her customers, and that's bad for business. So she fights.

Souza points to the dividing line between the Metro property, at the top of the escalator, and the arcade, which is under control of the management company that runs the mall. Sometimes, Souza says, a musician will stand on the Metro side, sometimes on the mall side. Either way, she's got him. On her speed dial, she has phone numbers for both the mall cops and the Metro cops. The musicians seldom last long.

What about Joshua Bell?

He was too loud, too, Souza says. Then she looks down at her rag, sniffs. She hates to say anything positive about these damned musicians, but: "He was pretty good, that guy. It was the first time I didn't call the police."

Souza was surprised to learn he was a famous musician, but not that people rushed blindly by him. That, she said, was predictable. "If something like this happened in Brazil, everyone would stand around to see. Not here."

Souza nods sourly toward a spot near the top of the escalator: "Couple of years ago, a homeless guy died right there. He just lay down there and died. The police came, an ambulance came, and no one even stopped to see or slowed down to look.

"People walk up the escalator, they look straight ahead. Mind your own business, eyes forward. Everyone is stressed. Do you know what I mean?"

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

-- from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies

Let's say Kant is right. Let's accept that we can't look at what happened on January 12 and make any judgment whatever about people's sophistication or their ability to appreciate beauty. But what about their ability to appreciate life?

We're busy. Americans have been busy, as a people, since at least 1831, when a young French sociologist named Alexis de Tocqueville visited the States and found himself impressed, bemused and slightly dismayed at the degree to which people were driven, to the exclusion of everything else, by hard work and the accumulation of wealth.

Not much has changed. Pop in a DVD of "Koyaanisqatsi," the wordless, darkly brilliant, avant-garde 1982 film about the frenetic speed of modern life. Backed by the minimalist music of Philip Glass, director Godfrey Reggio takes film clips of Americans going about their daily business, but speeds them up until they resemble assembly-line machines, robots marching lockstep to nowhere. Now look at the video from L'Enfant Plaza, in fast-forward. The Philip Glass soundtrack fits it perfectly.

"Koyaanisqatsi" is a Hopi word. It means "life out of balance."

In his 2003 book, Timeless Beauty: In the Arts and Everyday Life, British author John Lane writes about the loss of the appreciation for beauty in the modern world. The experiment at L'Enfant Plaza may be symptomatic of that, he said -- not because people didn't have the capacity to understand beauty, but because it was irrelevant to them.

"This is about having the wrong priorities," Lane said.

If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that -- then what else are we missing?

That's what the Welsh poet W.H. Davies meant in 1911 when he published those two lines that begin this section. They made him famous. The thought was simple, even primitive, but somehow no one had put it quite that way before.

Of course, Davies had an advantage -- an advantage of perception. He wasn't a tradesman or a laborer or a bureaucrat or a consultant or a policy analyst or a labor lawyer or a program manager. He was a hobo.

THE CULTURAL HERO OF THE DAY ARRIVED AT L'ENFANT PLAZA PRETTY LATE, in the unprepossessing figure of one John Picarello, a smallish man with a baldish head.

Picarello hit the top of the escalator just after Bell began his final piece, a reprise of "Chaconne." In the video, you see Picarello stop dead in his tracks, locate the source of the music, and then retreat to the other end of the arcade. He takes up a position past the shoeshine stand, across from that lottery line, and he will not budge for the next nine minutes.

Like all the passersby interviewed for this article, Picarello was stopped by a reporter after he left the building, and was asked for his phone number. Like everyone, he was told only that this was to be an article about commuting. When he was called later in the day, like everyone else, he was first asked if anything unusual had happened to him on his trip into work. Of the more than 40 people contacted, Picarello was the only one who immediately mentioned the violinist.

"There was a musician playing at the top of the escalator at L'Enfant Plaza."

Haven't you seen musicians there before?

"Not like this one."

What do you mean?

"This was a superb violinist. I've never heard anyone of that caliber. He was technically proficient, with very good phrasing. He had a good fiddle, too, with a big, lush sound. I walked a distance away, to hear him. I didn't want to be intrusive on his space."


"Really. It was that kind of experience. It was a treat, just a brilliant, incredible way to start the day."

Picarello knows classical music. He is a fan of Joshua Bell but didn't recognize him; he hadn't seen a recent photo, and besides, for most of the time Picarello was pretty far away. But he knew this was not a run-of-the-mill guy out there, performing. On the video, you can see Picarello look around him now and then, almost bewildered.

"Yeah, other people just were not getting it. It just wasn't registering. That was baffling to me."

When Picarello was growing up in New York, he studied violin seriously, intending to be a concert musician. But he gave it up at 18, when he decided he'd never be good enough to make it pay. Life does that to you sometimes. Sometimes, you have to do the prudent thing. So he went into another line of work. He's a supervisor at the U.S. Postal Service. Doesn't play the violin much, anymore.

When he left, Picarello says, "I humbly threw in $5." It was humble: You can actually see that on the video. Picarello walks up, barely looking at Bell, and tosses in the money. Then, as if embarrassed, he quickly walks away from the man he once wanted to be.

Does he have regrets about how things worked out?

The postal supervisor considers this.

"No. If you love something but choose not to do it professionally, it's not a waste. Because, you know, you still have it. You have it forever."

BELL THINKS HE DID HIS BEST WORK OF THE DAY IN THOSE FINAL FEW MINUTES, in the second "Chaconne." And that also was the first time more than one person at a time was listening. As Picarello stood in the back, Janice Olu arrived and took up a position a few feet away from Bell. Olu, a public trust officer with HUD, also played the violin as a kid. She didn't know the name of the piece she was hearing, but she knew the man playing it has a gift.

Olu was on a coffee break and stayed as long as she dared. As she turned to go, she whispered to the stranger next to her, "I really don't want to leave." The stranger standing next to her happened to be working for The Washington Post.

In preparing for this event, editors at The Post Magazine discussed how to deal with likely outcomes. The most widely held assumption was that there could well be a problem with crowd control: In a demographic as sophisticated as Washington, the thinking went, several people would surely recognize Bell. Nervous "what-if" scenarios abounded. As people gathered, what if others stopped just to see what the attraction was? Word would spread through the crowd. Cameras would flash. More people flock to the scene; rush-hour pedestrian traffic backs up; tempers flare; the National Guard is called; tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.

As it happens, exactly one person recognized Bell, and she didn't arrive until near the very end. For Stacy Furukawa, a demographer at the Commerce Department, there was no doubt. She doesn't know much about classical music, but she had been in the audience three weeks earlier, at Bell's free concert at the Library of Congress. And here he was, the international virtuoso, sawing away, begging for money. She had no idea what the heck was going on, but whatever it was, she wasn't about to miss it.

Furukawa positioned herself 10 feet away from Bell, front row, center. She had a huge grin on her face. The grin, and Furukawa, remained planted in that spot until the end.

Note: Please upgrade your Flash plug-in to view our enhanced content.
"It was the most astonishing thing I've ever seen in Washington," Furukawa says. "Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! Quarters! I wouldn't do that to anybody. I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?"

When it was over, Furukawa introduced herself to Bell, and tossed in a twenty. Not counting that -- it was tainted by recognition -- the final haul for his 43 minutes of playing was $32.17. Yes, some people gave pennies.

"Actually," Bell said with a laugh, "that's not so bad, considering. That's 40 bucks an hour. I could make an okay living doing this, and I wouldn't have to pay an agent."

These days, at L'Enfant Plaza, lotto ticket sales remain brisk. Musicians still show up from time to time, and they still tick off Edna Souza. Joshua Bell's latest album, "The Voice of the Violin," has received the usual critical acclaim. ("Delicate urgency." "Masterful intimacy." "Unfailingly exquisite." "A musical summit." ". . . will make your heart thump and weep at the same time.")

Bell headed off on a concert tour of European capitals. But he is back in the States this week. He has to be. On Tuesday, he will be accepting the Avery Fisher prize, recognizing the Flop of L'Enfant Plaza as the best classical musician in America.


(l) (l)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 02:04 PM




(f) (f)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 02:05 PM

..not my cup of tea especially this time of year with the high humidity but it might be yours:



Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 02:14 PM
:o :o




(l) http://www.zambiatourism.com/travel/places/images/falls%20rainbowcd2.jpg

(l) http://www.q2travel.co.za/pics/victoria6.jpg

(l) http://www.monnikhof.com/Victoria-Falls-2.jpg




(l) (l) http://www.vacationtechnician.com/assets/Victoria%20Falls.jpg


'Mosi Oa Tunya’ at Sunset:

(l) (l) http://photosbymartin.com/images/pcd0366/victoria-falls1-77.3.jpg



(l) REFRESHING!! http://langabi.name/gallery/albums/vicfalls05/Victoria_Falls_3.sized.jpg

(l) Breathtaking!


(f) (f)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 02:19 PM
(f) (l) (f) (l)



http://www.themerchanthotel.com/html/photos/suites.html (l) (p) (l)

The Merchant Hotel in Waring Street has long been admired for its distinctive architectural style. Both in its former life as the headquarters of the Ulster Bank and now, after its extensive refurbishment.

This formidable Giffnock sandstone structure was purpose built as the headquarters of the Ulster bank. The site was originally acquired in 1836. However, the decision to build was not taken until 1857. Bank Directors Robert Grimshaw and James Heron visited Glasgow and Edinburgh to glean as much information as possible on the best banking buildings. It was their earnest wish that the building should appear elegant, substantial and prosperous.

The location was deemed eminently suitable being, as it was, in the heart of Belfast’s mercantile and commercial centre. In fact Waring Street derives its name from a successful local merchant William Waring.

William Waring came from Toombridge, in the 17th century, to set up a tannery in Belfast. He was granted a lease in a street that was to take on his name. He had a daughter called Jayne whom Jonathan Swift courted for two years (he called her "Varina") but she turned down his proposal of marriage. He had been minister in Kilroot and eventually moved to Dublin to become Dean of St.Patricks. Rumour has it that Swift was inspired to write Gullivers Travels, by the distinctive “profile” of the Cavehill, which can be seen from the hotel.In a map of Belfast in the 1850's there is a part of the York Road called Lilliput Farm this may have been were Swift got the name for his book that is if the farm existed during his time in the north.

For the creation of the Ulster Bank headquarters, the directors felt it desired that the work be undertaken by local talents. 60 designs were submitted to the banks committee for the £100 offered for the best design. In the end the design of a talented Glaswegian by the name of Mr James Hamilton was selected.
The building work was undertaken my Messer’s D and J Fulton, and the spectacularly ornate plasterwork in the main banking hall was undertaken by townsman Mr George Crowe.

The exterior of the building is Italianate in style, a popular feature of High Victorian Architecture. Sculptures depicting Commerce, Justice and Britannia, look down benignly from the apex of the magnificent facade.

Under the grand central dome of the main banking hall, fruit and foliage designs surround the walls in a magnificent frieze. Four Corinthian columns feature plump cherubs depicting science, painting, scripture and music, frame the room.

Generosity of proportions and an ornate but not ostentatious style throughout the building, has ensured that it is one of the most renowned and best loved buildings in Belfast.
it is very commendable, earnest, massive, rich and suitable.."
Description in the 'London' magazine after the designs of the Ulster Bank were shown at the 1858 Architectural Exhibition.

the building offered "...every inducement to linger and ponder on wealth and its advantages.."

C.E.B.Brett writing more than a century later

In truth, The Cathedral Quarter is so culturally and historically rich, that it would take a long time to list here! Rather, let this be a taster to whet your appetite. The Concierge would be delighted to arrange a walking tour of the area for you, taking in all points of historical interest.

Further along Waring Street, diagonally opposite The Merchant Hotel, you will find Sugarhouse Entry in this entry the United Irishmen met in Peggy Barclays "Benjamin Franklin Tavern". It was not for nothing that in the 18th. century Belfast was known as the "Boston of the North" because of the actions of the radical Presbyterians who as members of the United Irishmen attempted to unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.
Next to Sugarhouse entry is the Commercial Buildings (nowadays known as The Northern Whig). It was opened in 1820 and replaced four thatched cottages one of which was a woolen drapers shop owned by the famous United Irishman Samuel Neilson.

Further still, on the corner of Waring Street and Donegall Street you will find another historically significant site - The four corners, this being the point that all milestones out of Belfast were originally measured.



(l) (l) (l)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 02:26 PM
:) :)

Agawam Diner, Rowley, 978-948-7780


"The Agawam is a Fodero Co. diner, built in 1954. "


(l) (l) (l)

Agawam Chicken Pies


The cooks at the Agawam serve their chicken pies turned out bottom side up on a plate and topped with extra gravy.

1 double recipe pie dough (from Coconut Cream Pie),
formed into 2 disks
3 large skin-on chicken breast halves (about
2 2⁄3 lbs.)
1/4 cup butter
1⁄2 cup flour
1 1⁄2 tbsp. chicken base, preferably Better Than
Freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, peeled, diced, and boiled until tender
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1. Roll each dough disk into a 12" circle on a floured surface. Using a 15-ounce 4" × 6" oval casserole dish (one of four you'll need) as a stencil, cut out 4 dough ovals. Transfer ovals to a floured tray and cover; set aside.

2. Put chicken into a large pot, cover with water by 2", and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until almost cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside, covered, to let rest for 20 minutes. Strain chicken and broth through a sieve, reserving 4 cups of broth. Remove and discard the skin and bones from chicken and tear meat into 1"–2" chunks; set aside.

3. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in reserved broth and bring to a boil. Whisk in chicken base, allowing liquid to come to a boil as you whisk. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 40 minutes. Remove gravy from heat and season with pepper to taste.

4. Heat oven to 500°. Divide chicken, carrots, and peas between the 4 casserole dishes; pour 1⁄2 cup gravy into each. Top each dish with a dough oval; tuck in edges. Bake until top is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Turn pies out onto plates, crust side down, and top with remaining gravy.


(c) (c) Enjoy!!


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-09-2007, 02:32 PM
(k) (k) (k) (k) (k) (k) (k) (k)

"Chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz."

- Dr David Lewis

Chocolate came out top in the test:


Couples were monitored while they kissed and while they ate chocolate:


Two womyn......(y) (y)

(l) "Chocolate 'better than kissing'

Monday, 16 April 2007, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK

Couples in their 20s had their heart rates and brains monitored whilst they first melted chocolate in their mouths and then kissed.

Chocolate caused a more intense and longer lasting "buzz" than kissing, and doubled volunteers' heart rates.

The research was carried out by Dr David Lewis, formerly of the University of Sussex, and now of the Mind Lab.

Experts, concerned at growing levels of obesity throughout the developed world, warn that chocolate should only be consumed in moderation.

Dr Lewis said: "There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz.

"A buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss."

He said substances in chocolate were already known to have a psychoactive effect, but that allowing it to melt on your tongue could be the secret to maximising the buzz.

The volunteers, all aged in their 20s, had electrodes attached to their scalps and wore heart monitors during the two tests.

The researchers compared their resting heart rates with those during the chocolate and kissing tests.

Longer lasting effects

Although kissing set the heart pounding, the effect did not last as long as that seen with the chocolate, which increased heart rates from a resting rate of about 60 beats per minute to 140.

The study also found that as the chocolate started melting, all regions of the brain received a boost far more intense and longer lasting than the excitement seen with kissing.

Although women are generally thought to be bigger fans of chocolate than men, the research found the same reactions to chocolate in both sexes.

Dr Lewis said: "These results really surprised and intrigued us.

"While we fully expected chocolate- especially dark chocolate - to increase heart rates due to the fact it contains some highly stimulating substances, both the length of this increase together with the powerful effects it had on the mind were something none of us had anticipated."

Psychologist Sue Wright said: "Chocolate contains phenylethylamine which can raise levels of endorphins, the pleasure-giving substances, in the brain.

"It also contains caffeine which has a stimulatory effect on the brain.

"This would explain why chocolate can give people a buzz, and why people can become addicted to it."

The research used a new 60% cocoa dark chocolate from Cadbury, and a spokeswoman for the chocolate makers said: "You'd think people would be shy about kissing in a laboratory, but that wasn't the case at all. We're not talking about a quick peck here."

The Mind Lab is funded by members of the food industry, although no firm can be linked to any individual study.

"You'd think people would be shy about kissing in a laboratory, but that wasn't the case at all."

- Cadbury spokeswoman


(k) (k) (k) 's

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (l)

05-10-2007, 07:57 AM
:D :D :D

(l) http://www.theshadydell.com/images/dellall.jpg



Bisbee, Arizona, a mile-high historic copper mining town in the Mule Mountains, a stone's throw from the Mexican border. Founded in 1880, Bisbee was home to the famous and infamous, and was considered to be the hottest spot between El Paso and San Francisco.

Today, Bisbee is quaint and captivating with its historic buildings, museums, art galleries, antique shops, hidden walkways, mild climate, and tales of its rich past. Its close proximity to the Chiricahua National Forest and Ramsey Canyon Nature Conservancy provides wonderful opportunities for rock hunting, hiking, bird watching and exploring the wonders of the high desert.

The Shady Dell began its history in 1927, providing trailer and camping spaces to travelers of Hwy. 80, which stretched from San Diego, California to Savannah, Georgia. Today, the Shady Dell is a combination of the traditional and unique. Part of the park is equipped with full RV hookups for the modern day traveler, while the other part is a step back in time.

A sleek lineup of vintage aluminum travel trailers is available for overnight or weekly rental. This collection includes a 1949 Airstream, 1950 Spartanette, 1950 Spartan Manor, 1954 Crown, and 1951 Royal Mansion among others.

Interiors are rich blonde wood or highly polished aluminum, and every effort has been made to keep the decor original. Cassette tapes of big band, early rhythm and blues, and favorite old radio programs are provided for play in reproduction vintage radios. Each trailer is equipped with a propane stove, refrigerator and electric percolator. All dishes and linens are furnished.

Some trailers have original black-and-white televisions and phonographs with a selection of vintage records. Magazines and books from the period are provided. Outside each trailer is a grassy yard with lounge chairs. Barbecue grills are available. The park restrooms with hot showers are spacious and clean, and decorated with memorabilia from the heyday of the travel trailer.

Also located on the premises is Dot's Diner, a 1957 Valentine 10 stool model that was featured in Gourmet Magazine. It has been lovingly restored to its original art deco splendor. Shady Dell guests and townsfolk alike can enjoy a home-cooked breakfast or lunch 7 days a week. The phone number is (520) 432-1112.






Even the English (l)'d it:


(f) (f)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 06:30 AM
(f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f)

Posted 05/10/2007 @ 11:52am The NATION

The Real Mother’s Day Tradition

"Arise then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears!" So begins the original Mother's Day proclamation of 1870, written by Julia Ward Howe, who also authored "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" as an anti-slavery activist in 1862.

In a new video by Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films, in collaboration with CODEPINK, Gloria Steinem explains the original intent behind Ward Howe's Mother's Day idea: "Mother's Day really was in its origin an anti-war day, an anti-war statement. Julia Ward Howe was sickened by what had happened during the Civil War--the loss of life, the carnage. And she created Mother's Day as a call for women all over the world, to come together, and create ways of protesting war, of making a kind of alternate government that could finally do away with war as an acceptable way of solving conflict."

"Say firmly: 'We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience….'"

The video renews the original Mother's Day call for women's leadership in pursuing peace, offering support for the organization No More Victims as a concrete way to take action and help Iraqi children who have been wounded in the war.

Alfre Woodard explains her motivation to take part in the video and support this Mother's Day renewal: "My mother used to say all the time, ‘I look after people's kids, because one day I know somebody will look after my kids. I feed people's kids, because I know somebody one day will feed my kids.' That informs a lot of who I am as a mother. That I know I'm not only parenting Mavis and Duncan, but I'm responsible for every child that comes through."

"Let them meet first as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace… to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."

Women are indeed taking action this Mother's Day to "promote the great and general interests of peace" as Ward Howe advocated nearly 150 years ago. The Peace Alliance will be promoting H.R. 808--Representative Dennis Kucinich's legislation that would create a Department of Peace and Nonviolence. The bill now has 65 cosponsors and on Friday "Peace Pies" will be delivered to 150 Senators and Representatives from 38 states to encourage them to sign onto the bill. (A pie will be delivered to Sen. Hillary Clinton at her New York City office at 11:00 am.) There will be a sliver missing from each pie, representing less than 1 percent of the federal discretionary budget required to establish the proposed cabinet-level department.

Similar efforts to create ministries of peace are taking place throughout the world, including in England, Italy, Israel, Japan, and Canada. Here in the US the annual cost would be less than the current cost of just one month of war, according to Peace Alliance Executive Director, Dot Maver.

"Julia Ward Howe was a visionary," Maver says. "The Peace Alliance and each of the 50 individual state campaigns are working to establish a US Department of Peace to help make her dream of a world without war a reality."

"Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?" Ward Howe wrote in a journal entry.

CODEPINK certainly will continue to "interfere" in these matters of war. Its activists will be in DC on Thursday to lobby Congress on the Bush War and the Defense Budget, and also attend some notable hearings including Rep. John Murtha's on Contracting in Iraq (where Robert Greenwald and Nation contributor Jeremy Scahill are scheduled to testify). Throughout the weekend there will be theatre, film, discussions, a "Rock the Media" event, receptions, and other activities to promote peace and reinvigorate the original intention of Mother's Day.

The weekend will culminate with a Kids Peace March and Festival on Sunday, and a "Mother of A March" on Monday – when Cindy Sheehan calls on all mothers to surround Congress and demand an end to the occupation.

"From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own, it says ‘Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.'"

Chocolates are great, and should be given frequently and generously to mothers, partners and friends alike. But there is nothing – nothing – sweeter than peace. Julia Ward Howe understood that, and this weekend we mothers resolve once again to pursue her cause.

LOTS of comments to this at: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/edcut?bid=7&pid=194039

(y) (y) (y) (y) (y) (y) (y)

:) I'm only Wyatt the Boxer's mama as well as a pet-parent for three previous boxers. But this article resonated with me anyway, even if I never had any kids. You don't have to be a mother (so to speak) to want and take action to promote peace.

(f) "All we are saying, is give peace a chance." - John Lennon

Happy Mother's Day! (f)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 06:34 AM
:o :o

Best country to be a mom? The United States isn't even in the top twenty.

Posted 05/13/2007 @ 08:48am The NATION

We're Not Number One (Not Even Close)

Liza Featherstone

Last week your humble correspondent learned, over a dry repast of catered chicken with some of our nation's most influential men, that unlike Canada and many other civilized democracies, we cannot have single-payer health care because Dennis Kucinich is short. I wonder what these luminaries would say about a new report from Save the Children showing that the United States compares poorly to other developed countries on an equally basic measure.

Thomas Friedman and other pundits worry -- rightly -- that America is not going to remain competitive in the global economy for much longer. But we're lagging behind in other ways, too. Save the Children's eighth annual Mother's Index ranks 141 countries, and found Sweden, among more developed countries, the best place to be a mother. The United States is not even in the top twenty. The rankings are based on criteria for women's well-being -- lifetime risk of maternal mortality, maternity leave benefits, ratio of female-to-male earned income, expected number of years of formal female schooling, female life expectancy at birth, percentage of women using modern contraception women's participation in national government, and percentage of births attended by skilled health care professionals -- as well as the country's score on the organization's Children's Index. (Italy, by the way, is the best place in the developed world to be a kid, while the United States ranks a disgraceful thirtieth.) The criteria for the Children's Index are: mortality rate for kids under five and percentage of children enrolled in school (apologies to home-schoolers, but this does tend to be a decent indicator of how children are faring in a society). Interestingly, among the least developed countries, Cape Verde is number one for both mothers and children. Malawi didn't do badly either -- maybe Madonna should take that kid back!

In other Mother's Day news, fourteen national women's groups -- representing a combined constituency of 10 million women, according to Wake Up Wal-Mart -- signed a letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott asking him to bring an end to the discrimination and mistreatment endured by the company's female employees. The letter launched a Mother's Day campaign by Wake Up Wal-Martwhich included actions in at least 43 cities, and a "Million Moms Call" reaching out to over one million families asking them to pledge not to buy Mother's Day gifts at Wal-Mart. In New York state, Governor Spitzer -- in response to a dogged campaign by the United Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers (of which I'm a member because I teach at CUNY) and ACORN -- has issued an executive order granting over 60,000 government-subsidized family day care providers the right to form a union and collectively bargain. That's great news for those hard-working women, who make about $2 an hour, and for the low-income mothers who send their children to them -- child-care workers who are better paid have access to further education and professional development, and can do a better job.


(y) (y) (y) (y) (y) (y) (y) (y)

(f) (f) Happy Mother's Day!! (f) (f)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 06:39 AM
:| :|

Stifling summers forecast by Nasa for US east coast

By David Usborne in New York

Published: 11 May 2007

Researchers at Nasa have warned that unless growth in greenhouse gas emissions can be successfully curbed, large areas of the eastern United States, from Washington DC to Florida, can expect to suffer through catastrophically hotter summers within just a couple of generations.

A study released by Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University finds that by 2080 average summer high temperatures in parts of the east will be about 10F higher than now, pushing them from the low to mid-80s to the low to mid-90s.

Moreover, in particularly dry years with only limited rainfall to cool conditions, average high temperatures in cities as far apart as Atlanta, Washington DC and even Chicago to the north could peak at a baking 110F roughly the kinds of readings seen today only in the desert south-west.

The institute made its projections after studying data from the past 30 years and using computer models to predict future trends. The study is unusual because it attempts to draw conclusions for a limited geographical area including individual metropolitan areas.

"Our analysis shows that there is the potential for extremely hot summertime temperatures, especially during summers with less-than-average rainfall," confirmed the Nasa researcher Barry Lynn, who is also a lead author of the new report. "Using high resolution weather prediction models, we showed how greenhouse gases enhance feedbacks between precipitation, radiation, and atmospheric circulation that will likely lead to extreme temperatures in our not-so-distant future," he added.

Such a dramatic jump in thermometer readings could have a devastating impact on health in America's largest cities as well as on agriculture and general economic conditions. It would also put significant extra demand on electricity producers for air-conditioning, raising emissions further.

The study is based on the "business-as-usual" premise which assumes that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to increase in the US at a rate of 2 per cent a year. But the scorching of the eastern US would intensify if those emissions grow.

Highlighted in the study is the role played by the eastern Pacific Ocean in determining summer conditions on the eastern seaboard of the continent. "Relatively cool waters in the eastern Pacific often result in stubborn summer high-pressure systems over the eastern states that block storms, reducing the frequency of precipitation below normal," said the study's co-author Richard Healy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. "Less frequent storms result in higher surface and atmospheric temperatures that then feed back on the atmospheric circulation to further reduce storm frequency and raise surface temperatures even more."

The report was published too late to be included in the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently submitted to the United Nations. But it will be seized upon by those pressing governments to take more urgent steps to curb emissions.

It also comes days before the opening on Monday of the Large Cities Climate Summit in New York, a forum at which mayors from 30 of the largest metropolises, including London, Paris, Tokyo and Istanbul, will discuss plans for combating global warming.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, is also due to tour New York's emergency response centre which was built after 9/11 to co-ordinate the handling not just of terror-related incidents but also of climate-induced events such as hurricanes and flooding.


:| :| Like in the 1800's, the cry was "Head West!!" from East Coast cities. But north and I mean way, way north - is a great alternative as well. ;)

"We're toast!"


Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 06:45 AM


Tasty roadside adventures

You may think the only place for a 72-ounce steak is on the cow. But if you're on the road, hungry for a great regional meal (and a little adventure), let this site be your pre-road-trip appetizer. You'll find all kinds of "non-franchised, sleeves-up food" along American highways, small towns, and city neighborhoods.

Hit the road, Jack:



(h) (h) (h) (h) (h) VERY cool web site with great search capabilities. (y)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 06:47 AM

Photographing Turnstiles

Making ordinary extraordinary

See how an artful photograph can transform something as ordinary as an individual walking through a subway turnstile into a subtle yet thought-provoking statement of our collective human experience. Then you might stop to wonder how much time photographer Bill Sullivan must've spent hiding in subway stations.

Say cheese!


(y) (y)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 06:48 AM

Mysteries of Deep Space

From the Big Bang to last Tuesday

We know what you've been pondering since breakfast: at exactly what point in the history of the universe did gravity amplify slight irregularities in the density of primordial gas? Ponder no more, Baby Einstein. This interactive timeline of the history of the universe (and companion site to the PBS program) should clear everything right up.

Dinosaurs, pulsars, and stars, oh my!




Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 06:50 AM

Radiation Calculator

How radiant are you?

Just how much radiation are you exposed to on a yearly basis—and should you be worried? Stop grinding down those porcelain crowns, turn off your TV, step away from the X-ray machine, and take this simple questionnaire from the Environmental Protection Agency to calculate your radiation dose, stat!

Get that healthy glow:


(f) (f)

Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 06:54 AM

Real Simple

Simplifying your life

This companion site to the popular magazine offers all the fantastic features you'll find in print—plus some Web exclusives. Explore organization and cleaning tips, innovative seasonal recipes, beauty and fashion fixes, and smart shortcuts to make your everyday life just a little easier.

Easy does it:


:) Another venue of marketing the magazine's advertisers, IMHO. ;)

(c) (c) (o) Whew, time for another fresh cup.

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 06:57 AM
(y) (y)

Warp Celebrities

The rich and famous at your mercy

Your favorite celebrities are warped—literally. Just choose a picture from the pantheon of famous, not-so-famous, and downright obscure poseurs, and then click and drag on their faces to reshape their features. It's silly. It's fun. It's warped.

A facelift only a mother could love:



Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 07:07 AM
(f) (f) (f) (f) (f)

PLAIN SIGHT Baring her prosthetic leg for the world to see, Sarah Reinertsen hits the floor at Holly’s in Los Angeles. Ms. Reinertsen was a contestant on “The Amazing Race.”


ARTISTIC LICENSE Kylee Haddad uses her prosthesis as a canvas.


May 13, 2007

Clearly, Frankly, Unabashedly Disabled



WHEN Josh Blue won NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” last season, he did so with riffs like this:

“My right arm does a lot of crazy stuff. Like the other day, I thought someone had stolen my wallet.”

It’s funny only if you know that Mr. Blue has cerebral palsy.

The public image of people with disabilities has often hinged on the heroic or the tragic. But Mr. Blue, 28, represents the broader portrait of disability now infusing television and film. This new, sometimes confrontational stance reflects the higher expectations among many members of the disabled population that they be treated as people who happen to have a disability, rather than as people defined by disability.

“What we’re seeing is less ‘overcoming’ and more ‘just being,’ ” said Lawrence Carter-Long, the director of advocacy for the Disabilities Network of New York City, which last year started a film series, “disTHIS: Disability Through a Whole New Lens,” celebrating unconventional portrayals of the disabled.

“More people are saying, ‘This is who I am. If you have a problem with it, that’s your problem,’ ” he said.

Because the entertainment media often function as a bellwether of changing attitudes, the drive to expand beyond the stereotypes is particularly visible on television. The heart-wrenching movie of the week and fund-raising telethons striving for cures have given way to amputees rock climbing on reality shows like “The Amazing Race” and doing the jive on “Dancing With the Stars.” Sitcoms and crime shows have jumped onto the bandwagon, too: an actor who is a paraplegic, for instance, depicts a member of the casino surveillance team on “Las Vegas.”

“It used to be that if you were disabled and on television, they’d play soft piano music behind you,” said Robert David Hall, a double amputee who plays a coroner on “CSI.” “The thing I love about ‘CSI’ is that I’m just Dr. Robbins.”

In film, too, tragic stories starring able-bodied actors, like “Million Dollar Baby,” are being countered by depictions featuring the disabled themselves, from the wheelchair rugby jocks of the 2005 documentary “Murderball” to the 2005 Special Olympics romp, “The Ringer,” by Peter and Bobby Farrelly.

Hollywood’s embrace of a franker depiction of disabilities is mirrored in everyday life in trends such as the jettisoning, by both child and adult amputees, of cosmetic covers for prosthetic legs. Instead, prosthetics experts say, many patients wear their legs openly, often customizing them with designs that are flaunted like tattoos.

“Some people say, ‘That’s really cool’ and some people don’t act very nice,” said Kylee Haddad, 40, a mother of two from Walkersville, Md., who decorates her prosthetic leg with palm trees, fish and the American flag.

Ms. Haddad, whose right leg was amputated below the knee in 2003 after a car accident, said she has no problem wearing shorts when she goes shopping. Neither does she shy from removing the prosthesis in order to swim at the neighborhood pool.

She said people gawk and some have even tapped her on the shoulder to ask her to put her leg back on. She said she’s been told, “It is upsetting my child.” But she refuses to hide.

“You either accept me as I am,” she said, “or you don’t have to look at it.”

Jillian Weise, 25, a teacher and doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati, released a poetry book this year to undermine what she called “the stereotype of the disabled as asexual” and “to try to get away from the idea of the disabled as freak.”

She titled it “The Amputee’s Guide to Sex” and filled it with deeply personal verses. “You trace the scar along my spine, and I imagine what it must feel like,” reads one poem.

Ms. Weise, who was born with a rare disease that led to the amputation of one leg below the knee when she was 11, said that in the United States “there’s a history of don’t look, don’t stare, just ignore the disability.”

“I’m hoping that there’s a middle ground, that this is just another kind of difference,” she said.

The hunger to be regarded like anyone else means even negative portrayals can be welcome. When Simon Cowell of “American Idol” teased a Special Olympics athlete with a mental disability about his weight during this year’s televised auditions, he was widely criticized for having crossed a line. Special Olympics International fired off an open letter. It thanked the show for ribbing the contestant, as it does nearly everyone.

“Whether on the stage of ‘American Idol’ or on the field of competition for Special Olympics, people with intellectual disabilities don’t want to be pitied,” the group’s statement read.

The drive for more participation is not new, but it is finding strength in numbers. The government census and population surveys have expanded the definition of disability over time to reflect more conditions and impairments, including mental disabilities. The most recent population survey, in 2002, showed the disabled population to be the country’s largest minority: 51 million, or 18 percent of all Americans. Most — 32 million — suffer from a disability classified as severe.

Although this huge and complex group includes both the man with a $30,000 computer-controlled prosthesis and the brain-injured woman who is immobile, stereotyping and stigmatization are still a problem, particularly for the mentally disabled.

And while public perceptions about the capabilities of the mentally disabled have improved, said Dr. Stephen B. Corbin, a senior vice president of Special Olympics International, they are still “mixed and inadequate.”

Nevertheless, the gradual gains in access to education and independent living have allowed many disabled people to take their place in society’s mix. Surveys show that people with disabilities are voting and going to restaurants, for example, at rates comparable with the non-disabled. With increased access has come visibility.

The public image of the disabled is increasingly “informed by actual experience of disability rather than an imagined understanding of it,” said David T. Mitchell, an associate professor of disability studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mr. Mitchell, who is also a filmmaker, uses a wheelchair because of a neuromuscular condition. His 1995 documentary, “Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back,” focuses on the concept of a cultural identity.

But, he cautioned: “We shouldn’t go too congratulatory yet. Our progress is largely a measure of the fact that we were so regressive for so long.”

The arts have become one of the most visible vehicles for participation. In the last few years particularly, said Kari Pope, the coordinator at the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, there has been more exposure of disabled artists “getting out there” through film festivals, dance companies, theater and the visual arts.

In Hollywood, disabled members of the Screen Actors Guild and other entertainment groups are agitating for plots that include more disabled characters and for the hiring of more disabled actors to play both disabled and nondisabled roles. Though jobs are still scarce, the quality of roles and the diversity of characters has improved. Some disabled actors noted that they are no longer relegated to maudlin or villainous roles.

It is a sign of the times that Marlee Matlin, a deaf actress, who won an Oscar for the 1986 film “Children of a Lesser God,” has been playing roles as varied as a political pollster on “The West Wing” and the love interest on “My Name Is Earl.”

Meanwhile, the Farrelly brothers are at work on a pilot for a comedy for Fox with Danny Murphy, an actor who is a quadriplegic, in a supporting role. And NBC may produce the first comedy starring disabled actors to air on network television. The pilot for this show, “I’m With Stupid,” is based on a BBC series of the same name, which revolves around an apartment building designed for the disabled whose tenants include a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy who speaks via a voice box, and a double amputee with high-tech leg prosthetics.

“All the actors feel this is not a television show, it’s a movement,” said Wil Calhoun, the executive producer. “People will begin to look at things in a different way.”

Mr. Calhoun, who was an executive producer of “Friends,” said the comedy is an attempt to depart from the predictable, but the material is considered risky because of concerns that viewers may find it sad or in bad taste. On the other hand, Americans already have been exposed to fuller portraits of disabled people, especially through reality shows.

“The representations on reality television tend to be much higher-stakes than the fictional narratives because that’s how real people behave,” said Kathleen LeBesco, the chairwoman of communication arts at Marymount Manhattan College.

She said that there’s debate over whether some representations are “exploitative or affirmative,” but said that the depictions parallel the trajectory that gays and racial minorities also tread as they gained more visibility.

Sarah Reinertsen, 31, an athlete who runs with a prosthetic leg, is a member of the hard-charging vanguard. She was a contestant on CBS’s “Amazing Race” last year (her team came in 7th of 12) and has no qualms about competing against the able-bodied.

“Believe me, I get a thrill when I do pass two-legged people,” she said.

But she said she never leaves the house without sunglasses.

“People always stare,” she said. “It’s part of human nature and it’s tough to be this animal in the zoo.”

But Ms. Reinertsen said people have stopped looking at disability as “total tragedy.” “People have changed a lot,” she said. “They ask, ‘Are you wearing one of those cool legs?’ ”

(y) (y) Marlee Matlin also played the "Bette" character's serious love interest (with some STEAMY love scenes between them) in the fourth season's The L Word. I wonder why the author of this article left that one out? ;)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-13-2007, 07:10 AM


May 13, 2007

Contributing Columnist NYTimes

Addicted to L-U-V


ABOUT three years ago, I stumbled onto something called Scrabble Blitz. It was a four-minute version of Scrabble solitaire, on a Web site called Games.com, and I began playing it without a clue that within 24 hours — I am not exaggerating — it would fry my brain. I’m no stranger to this sort of thing: one summer when I was young, I became so addicted to croquet that I had a series of recurrent dreams in which I was whacking my mother’s head through a wicket.

The same sort of thing happened with Scrabble Blitz, although my mother, who has been dead for many years, was left out of it. I began having Scrabble dreams in which people turned into letter tiles that danced madly about. I tuned out on conversations and instead thought about how many letters there were in the name of the person I wasn’t listening to. I fell asleep memorizing the two- and three-letter words that distinguish those of us who are hooked on Scrabble from those of you who aren’t. For instance, while you were not paying attention to Scrabble, the following have become words in the Scrabble dictionary: ka, qi and za. Don’t ask me what they mean, but my guess is that in the tradition of all such things, they are Indonesian coins. Luv is also a word, by the way, as is suq.

Remember that ad — “This is your brain ... This is your brain on drugs”? That was me. My brain turned to cheese. I could feel it happening. It was clear that I was becoming more and more scattered, more distracted, more unfocused; I was exhibiting all the symptoms of terminal attention deficit disorder; I was turning into a teenage boy. I instantly became an expert on how the Internet could alter your brain in a permanent way, especially if you were a teenage boy, and I offered my opinions on this subject at all sorts of places, where, as I recall, no one was particularly interested.

The Scrabble Blitz site was full of other deranged Scrabble Blitzers, who dealt with their addiction by writing comments about it in the Web site’s chat room during the two-minute break between games, the two-minute break being a perfect time to log off and stop playing Scrabble Blitz for good but you didn’t because you were totally hooked and besides you were only going to play one more game, or maybe two.

The comments consisted of things like: “I’m an addict, lol” and “I can’t stop playing this ha ha.” My contempt for these comments led me to think I was somehow different from the people who wrote them, but the truth is I wasn’t — I was exactly like them except for the lol’s and the ha ha’s, and even I have used an lol and a ha ha from time to time, though not in a chat room, and most of the time, I hope, ironically. (But to be perfectly honest, not every time.)

The game of Scrabble Blitz eventually became too much for the Web site. Lag was a huge problem. From time to time, the Scrabble Blitz area would shut down for days, and when it returned, so did all the addicts, full of comments about how they had barely withstood life without the game. I began to get carpal tunnel syndrome from playing. I’m not kidding.

I realized I was going to have to kick the habit. I thought about kicking the habit. I promised myself I would. After one more game. After one more day. After one more week. And then, one day, out of the blue, I was saved by what’s known in the insurance business as an act of God: Games.com shut down Scrabble Blitz. And that was that. It was gone.

I went back to online Scrabble, a mild and soporific version of the game. I restricted myself to two games a day — no more. I wandered from one Scrabble Web site to another — there are several — and recently found my way to a place called Scrabulous.com. I’ve been playing there for just over 50 days — I know because I recently received a congratulatory e-mail message from “The Scrabulous Team” on the occasion of my 100th game. It crossed my mind when I got the message that even two games a day was too much. But it didn’t stop me from playing: my habit was under control.

But the other week, I had a major setback. I went onto the Scrabulous site to play my customary two games, and to my amazement, right there on the entry page, was a chance to play Scrabble Blitz. Only it wasn’t called Scrabble Blitz. It was called Blitz Scrabble. It was back. It was working perfectly. And not only was it back, so were all the people I used to play with, all of them making their sad little jokes about being addicted to the game, followed by lol or ha ha and even an occasional :). I decided to play just one game, or maybe two. An hour later, I was still there. My heart was racing. My brain was once again turning to cheese. I was hooked.

It’s now been several days — several days when I’ve either been playing Scrabble Blitz or thinking about playing Scrabble Blitz. Several days that ended with tiles dancing through my head as I fell asleep. Several days of turning into a teenage boy again. Last night I had dinner with my husband, and while he was talking about George Tenet, I was thinking about the letter X. I was thinking, hex, lex, rex, xi, xu, exude. My husband moved on to talk about Iraq, and I moved on to Q: qat, qaid, qua, quae.

There’s only one solution: I have to stop. If I can’t do it by simple will-power, I may have to go to the Parental Controls page on my computer — I’m sure there is one — and put Scrabulous.com on the Don’t Go There list, or whatever it’s called.

So goodbye. I’m going. I am definitely going. Any minute now.

But first, I’m going to play my last game of Scrabble Blitz.

Nora Ephron, the author, most recently, of “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman,” is a contributing columnist for The Times.

(l) (f) (l) (f) (l) (f) (l) (f) (l)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:03 AM
:s :s :s

May 14, 2007


The Nation’s Borders, Now Guarded by the Net


Andrew Feldmar, a Vancouver psychotherapist, was on his way to pick up a friend at the Seattle airport last summer when he ran into a little trouble at the border.

A guard typed Mr. Feldmar’s name into an Internet search engine, which revealed that he had written about using LSD in the 1960s in an interdisciplinary journal. Mr. Feldmar was turned back and is no longer welcome in the United States, where he has been active professionally and where both of his children live.

Mr. Feldmar, 66, has a distinguished r&#233;sum&#233;, no criminal record and a candid manner. Though he has not used illegal drugs since 1974, he says he has no regrets.

“It was an absolutely fascinating and life-altering experience for me,” he said last week of his experimentation with LSD and other psychedelic drugs. “The insights it provided have lasted for a lifetime. It allowed me to feel what it would be like to live without habits.”

Mr. Feldmar said he had been in the United States more than 100 times and always without incident since he last took an illegal drug. But that changed in August, thanks to the happenstance of an Internet search, conducted for unexplained reasons, at the Peace Arch border station in Blaine, Wash.

The search turned up an article in a 2001 issue of the journal Janus Head devoted to the legacy of R. D. Laing, with whom Mr. Feldmar had studied in London about 30 years before.

“I traveled to many regions many times with the help of many different substances,” Mr. Feldmar wrote of his experiences with Dr. Laing and other psychiatrists and therapists. “I took peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis” and other drugs, he added, “but I kept coming back to LSD.”

He was asked by a border guard whether he was the author of the article and whether it was true. Yes, he replied. And yes.

Mr. Feldmar was held for four hours, fingerprinted and, after signing a statement conceding the long-ago drug use, sent home.

Mike Milne, a spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection agency in Seattle, said he could not discuss individual cases for reasons of privacy. But the law is clear, Mr. Milne said. People who have used drugs are not welcome here.

“If you are or have been a drug user,” he said, “that’s one of the many things that can make you inadmissible to the United States.”

He added that the government was constantly on the hunt for new sources of information. “Any new technology that we have available to us, we use to do searches on,” Mr. Milne said.

Mr. Feldmar has been told by the American consul general in Vancouver that he may now enter the United States only if he obtains a formal waiver.

“Both our countries have very similar regulations regarding issuance of visas for citizens who have violated the law,” the consul, Lewis A. Lukens, wrote to Mr. Feldmar in September. “The issue here is not the writing of an article, but the taking of controlled substances. I hear from American citizens all the time with decades-old D.U.I. convictions who are barred from entry into Canada and who must apply for waivers. Same thing here.”

The waiver process would require a lawyer, several thousand dollars and dishonesty, Mr. Feldmar said. He would have to say he has been rehabilitated.

“Rehabilitated from what?” Mr. Feldmar asked. “It’s degrading, literally degrading.”

Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which works to ease drug penalties, said Mr. Feldmar’s case proves how arbitrary American drug policy can be.

“Roughly a majority of the population of the United States between the ages of 18 and 58 has violated a drug law at least once,” Mr. Nadelmann said, and there is no reason to think that Canadians and other foreigners of a certain age have experimented much less.

It has been a long, strange trip from the Summer of Love to the Age of Terror, from excluding people based on actual criminal convictions to turning them away based on a border guard’s Internet search. The first approach is rooted in due process and enhances the nation’s security. The second is profoundly arbitrary and effectively punishes not past drug use but honest discourse about it.

“I should warn people that the electronic footprint you leave on the Net will be used against you,” Mr. Feldmar said. “It cannot be erased.”

:| :| This sux, big time. Too bad that you can't find out ahead of time if these border bozos have some decades-old B.S. info about a published article (or some other supposed disgression) in their computers. What ticks me off is their preying on people like this distinguished person and not on TERRORISTS determined to blow Americans up - like they should be! 8o| Grrrr. God/Dess Bless America as well as Canada? Let's exclude stupid Republican party-friendly border guards targeting progressive and/or liberal Americans AND Canadians. For the love of God, this is truly a ridiculous incident and those guards' names should be published/announced in the media and they should be FIRED.

(f) (f)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:10 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l) (l)

The upcoming last Season will be two two-hour episodes.



Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:12 AM
(l) (l)





Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:29 AM
(*) (~) (*) (~) (*)

Bobby (2006)

The lives of 22 strangers intersect at Los Angeles's Ambassador Hotel on June 6, 1968, a day that culminated in the assassination of U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (Dave Fraunces). The impressive ensemble cast includes Helen Hunt, Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, William H. Macy, Martin Sheen, Harry Belafonte, Helen Hunt, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Joshua Jackson and Christian Slater. Emilio Estevez writes, directs and co-stars.

Director: Emilio Estevez


Anthony Hopkins
Demi Moore
Sharon Stone
Elijah Wood
Joy Bryant
Lindsay Lohan
Christian Slater
Martin Sheen
William H. Macy
Shia LaBeouf
Joshua Jackson
Nick Cannon
David Krumholtz
Kip Pardue
Jacob Vargas
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Gus Lynch
Helen Hunt
Rosemary Garris
Michael Bowen
Spencer Garrett
Dave Fraunces

(~) Reviews:

For those who were alive and aware in 1968, watching “Bobby” might feel like bittersweet nostalgia. For those who have never had an opportunity to experience the words of Bobby Kennedy, this movie may be a revelation. &#182; The decision by writer/director Emilio Estevez to use archival footage of Bobby’s speeches instead of using an actor to portray him is without a doubt the movie’s greatest gift. Who, other than Bobby, could have presented the issues with the same sense of passion, honesty, integrity and excitement? Sadly, when today’s politicians attempt to tackle similar themes, they often end up on The Daily Show sounding like caricatures of themselves.

The movie captures nicely the “big tent” appeal of Kennedy’s run for the White House by using the Ambassador Hotel as a stand-in for 1968 America. In classic Robert Altman style, Estevez uses multiple story lines that touch on different aspects of American culture. The danger with this approach is superficiality. Luckily, Esteves uses well-placed lines from Kennedy’s public appearances to make these scenes poignant.

One interesting story line follows a young couple (Elijah Wood and Lindsay Lohan) who is about to get married at the hotel. The marriage will give the boy a deferment and keep him out of Viet Nam. Their uncertainty over their decision is touching and complex. What gives this story added weight is a line from one of Kennedy’s more prophetic and emotional speeches: “Our lives on this planet are too short, the work to be done is too great. But we can perhaps remember that those who live with us are our brothers who share with us the same short moment of life.” “Bobby” is a film worth seeing, if for no other reason then to understand what was and what might have been.


Caught a screening that Emilio Estevez attended, and he talked about the impact RFK's assassination had on just about everyone; I was too young to remember any of it, but I've heard for years about how great RFK was, and how much was lost when he died. Here, Estevez had the great idea of treating the Ambassador Hotel like a microcosm of America, so you have the wealthy guests, the workers in the kitchens, the management of the hotel and some lowly switchboard operators, plus a drug dealer, some campaign workers, and a young couple doing whatever they can to keep away from the worst of the war. Anthony Hopkins plays a retired doorman of the hotel, thus representing the soul of the place itself, and through him you get a sense of how the hotel began to die, too, on the day RFK was shot. Bobby's speeches are used throughout, in stock footage and as voiceover, and what's amazing today is how he never once sounds as if he's giving a speech: he is completely genuine, completely compassionate, and suddenly, yes, I came to understand exactly what was lost that day. Estevez talked about a Greek journalist who said to him "This is the America that we miss," and maybe that's really the best way to describe the impact this movie has. Very highly recommended.


This isn't a perfect film, but how long has it been since the subject of a film enhanced your life, made you think, stirred your emotions, and brought you to tears? The setting and coincidences of plot and characters are a bit contrived, and I thought Demi Moore's acting was just awful. However, Emilio Estevez has captured so much of the 1968 setting, without hitting us over the head with nostalgia, and so much of the stirring, imperfect, provocative, brave,and brilliant political writer, speaker, and statesman that was Bobby Kennedy. With just a little effort you can accept the contrivances and just sit back and learn (or remember) what politics, discrimination, civil rights, poverty, and the fragility of hope, used to be in this country. And, still are.

(*) (*) (*) (*) Now that I think about it, I went back and gave it a four star rating. Forty YEARS later we still do not have anyone in the ballpark of Bobby Kennedy's vision for America and incredible talent for bringing diverse folks together. I wondered why I felt so apathetic about voting and what went on politically in this country during my 20's, 30's and a few years in my 40's.. ....Been pondering why I have been so interested in and taking action the past several years...

I am feeling hope that things can get better - especially with the help of Internet grass-roots' efforts. Oh and HUGE Democratic WIN in 2008 and getting the right-wing nuts out to pasture where they belong.

Now if there only a brilliant visionary with the charisma that Bobby had to run for President, if not in 2008, then for sure in 2012!!!! :)

(f) (f)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:42 AM

TextAloud — Windows

Listen to your documents

TextAloud is a text-to-speech program that uses voice synthesis to convert text into spoken audio. Listen on your PC or create MP3 or WMA files for use on portable devices like iPods, PocketPCs, and CD players. You can open Word, PDF, and HTML files directly in TextAloud and, hands free, simply listen.



Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:44 AM
:D :D :D

GalCon — Mac

It's my planet! Mine!

GalCon is a real-time strategy game in which you try to acquire your enemies' planets before they get yours. Just when you think you've converted the most planets to green, suddenly your enemy has changed them back to red! Play against the computer or with other players online.


(y) (y) (y)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:46 AM


"The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation. They will lose this war if they go to war. The notion that the new kids on the block have taken over is a false notion."

-- Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons on copyright tussles. And just how did that work out for the Sioux, Dick?



(y) (y) (y)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:48 AM



(l) (y) (l) (y) (l)

Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:50 AM


(y) (y) Might not be a bad thing.......

(f) Enjoy the pollen-free (FINALLY!!) day! It's a beaut out there.

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:51 AM





Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 05:56 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l) (l) (l) (l)

(l) (l) http://www2.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/grcacam/grcacam.cfm

(l) http://www.nps.gov/grca/photosmultimedia/webcam.htm

(l) (l) Other very cool web cams of National Parks: http://www.doi.gov/webcam.html

(o) Time to get out and about and away from this glass AKA computer monitor. See some analog images instead........;)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 10:34 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f) (l) (f) (l)


May 12, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

Hepburn, Revisited


Palm Springs

KATHARINE Hepburn, who demolished brontosaurus skeletons and male egos in “Bringing Up Baby” and held her own with the King of England in “The Lion in Winter,” would have been 100 today. When she died four years ago at 96, she was hailed as an American icon, celebrated for her strength and independence.

But there was another side to Hepburn, too — more vulnerable, conflicted and ambitious than we knew. Though she liked to appear indifferent to vulgar stardom, she worked hard — very hard — for fame. And she never stopped, enduring fickle tastes and changing times because her desire to be great never waned. While she made us believe she was somehow above Hollywood hoopla, the truth was that long before stars employed staffs to micromanage and refine their public images, Hepburn was inventing a path for others to follow.

The extraordinary enterprise of her life is revealing. Never just the suitable-for-framing, one-dimensional heroine of legend, Hepburn learned early on that if she wanted to maintain both a career and a private life, she was going to have to play the game — and she played it well, perhaps better than any other star of her generation. She milked her romances with Howard Hughes, Leland Hayward and, at times, Spencer Tracy for coverage as shamelessly as Bennifer or Brangelina. When compromises were needed — for an independent woman in Hollywood, that was just about all the time — she was prepared to make them.

For all her alleged iconoclasm, Katharine Hepburn was an exquisitely tuned balancing act who toed the line between rebellion and pragmatism. She did what she had to do to win and survive. Consider a night in December 1935, when the distraught 28-year-old actress paced the parquetry floors of the director George Cukor’s house in the Hollywood hills. She’d just flopped in Cukor’s “Sylvia Scarlett,” for which she’d spent most of her time masquerading as a boy. She hadn’t feared rocking the boat, but now the boat was sinking. “Oh, George,” she said (pronouncing his name “Jo-udge”). “We’ve got to cook it up for ourselves, really cook it up.”

According to Cukor’s friend Michael Pearman, who witnessed the exchange: “What she was saying was that they had an image problem and they had to fix it. They had to make it up to the public somehow.”

Hepburn, who brought a fair share of East Coast entitlement to the film colony, had seemed at first to believe herself immune to the rules that governed other stars. She lived openly with a woman widely assumed to have been her lover, wore men’s trousers and aired unfashionably left-wing opinions that scandalized the fan magazines. One critic sniffed that Hepburn had been “stirring up trouble” ever since she’d arrived in Hollywood. Lessons like the “Sylvia Scarlett” debacle finally convinced her to start following the Hollywood playbook. And so began her metamorphosis from tomboy to glamour girl, from subversive to perpetual honoree.

Through it all, flashes of the original rebel still flared: In May 1947, an “angel in a red dress” (as one audience member described her) made a surprise appearance at Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles to deliver a fiery speech in support of former vice president (and liberal hero) Henry Wallace. Hepburn lambasted the House Committee on Un-American Activities. “The artist, since the beginning of time, has always expressed the aspirations and dreams of his people,” she said. “Silence the artist and you have silenced the most articulate voice the people have.” The appearance led critics to brand her a “Red appeaser.”

Still, she was shrewd enough to gauge what the traffic would allow: Eventually she would claim that the red dress (“flaming” in some accounts) was really “pink,” and certainly not worn to make a statement. Ultimately she offset all the negative publicity by making “The African Queen.” As the Eleanor Roosevelt-inspired preacher’s daughter, she extolled God and country, chasing from collective memory the fact that she’d barely escaped a summons from the House committee and her career had almost imploded.

In this manner, Hepburn would “cook it up” over six decades — there was a Kate for every era. Remaking herself as a classic movie star, she had Philip Barry tailor “The Philadelphia Story” for her so she might, as spoiled rich girl Tracy Lord, be brought down a few pegs for all her previous “uppity” behavior. Indeed, her stylish career women — so popular during the war years — were never as independent as we like to remember them, and she usually submitted to some kind of onscreen drubbing from her male co-star. Those memorable battles of the sexes with Spencer Tracy? Hepburn always ends up on the losing side. She seemed to understand that her culture extracted certain forms of payback from the independent females whom it occasionally celebrated ... and kept reining in.

Hepburn became an American Rorschach test, mirroring the ways we wanted to see ourselves. Each generation redefined her, rubbing out and adding to her myth. In the ’60s, she fell into step with the counterculture, promoting interracial love in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and exposing the folly of war in “The Trojan Women.” When the times took another rightward lurch in the 1970s, she made “Rooster Cogburn” opposite the conservative icon John Wayne, and told the press how refreshing it was to work with a “real man.” Hepburn had remade herself from a sexually and politically suspect outsider into an exemplar of true-blue Americana.

By the time of her death, Katharine Hepburn had come to stand for Yankee common sense, Emersonian self-reliance and an all-American ethic of hard work. There’s no question she possessed all of those things. But there was so much more.

It’s taken 100 years to see Hepburn in all her complexity, and we are still trying to figure her out. The limited fictions used to elevate and sell the lives of public figures often form a cloudy chiaroscuro that covers their true humanity. Like many men and women of her time and every other, she had to deal with being different.

Hepburn’s drive for fame meant she would spend her life struggling between the demands of “the creature” (what she called her public image) and the more bohemian, unconventional life to which she was drawn. She was forced to invent a role for the kind of woman she was — her own kind. Labels — sexual, political, artistic — hold little meaning when talking about her. Sex, love and marriage were only the beginnings of the things she had to learn, re-make and often reject.

Hepburn was human, a fact we sometimes forget about the very famous. Too often our public figures remain wrapped in unchallenged “truths,” the cheap garments of hacks and press agents who keep their wayward charges safely moored to the boundaries of convention. But this gives only a partial glimpse into Hepburn’s life, and a distorted one at that. Only the whole truth can do credit to what our heroes did with the actual challenges they faced. People who live worthy lives can stand up to scrutiny. In Hepburn’s case, the real woman makes the icon seem like a bo-ah, bo-ah, bore.

Happy birthday, you old troublemaker.

William Mann is the author of “Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn.”

(l) (l) Can't wait to start this new book that includes some of her on-screen male lovers were actually her "beard". :o

For the times, especially back when everyone was under McCarthy's Communist microscope? I'd have created a "beard" or cover as well! (y) (y)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 10:36 AM

May 12, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

The Millions Left Out


The United States may be the richest country in the world, but there are many millions — tens of millions — who are not sharing in that prosperity.

According to the most recent government figures, 37 million Americans are living below the official poverty threshold, which is $19,971 a year for a family of four. That’s one out of every eight Americans, and many of them are children.

More than 90 million Americans, close to a third of the entire population, are struggling to make ends meet on incomes that are less than twice the official poverty line. In my book, they’re poor.

We don’t see poor people on television or in the advertising that surrounds us like a second atmosphere. We don’t pay much attention to the millions of men and women who are changing bedpans, or flipping burgers for the minimum wage, or vacuuming the halls of office buildings at all hours of the night. But they’re there, working hard and getting very little in return.

The number of poor people in America has increased by five million over the past six years, and the gap between rich and poor has grown to historic proportions. The richest one percent of Americans got nearly 20 percent of the nation’s income in 2005, while the poorest 20 percent could collectively garner only a measly 3.4 percent.

A new report from a highly respected task force on poverty put together by the Center for American Progress tells us, “It does not have to be this way.” The task force has made several policy recommendations, and said that if all were adopted poverty in the U.S. could be cut in half over the next decade.

The tremendous number of people in poverty is an enormous drag on the U.S. economy. And one of the biggest problems is the simple fact that so many jobs pay so little that even fulltime, year-round employment is not enough to raise a family out of poverty. One-fifth of the working men in America and 29 percent of working women are in such jobs.

Peter Edelman, a Georgetown law professor who was a co-chairman of the task force, said, “An astonishing number of people are working as hard as they possibly can but are still in poverty or have incomes that are not much above the poverty line.”

So the starting point for lifting people out of poverty should be to see that men and women who are working are adequately compensated for their labor. The task force recommended that the federal minimum wage, now $5.15 an hour, be raised to half the average hourly wage in the U.S., which would bring it to $8.40.

The earned-income tax credit, which has proved very successful in supplementing the earnings of low-wage working families, should be expanded to cover more workers, the task force said. It also recommended expanded coverage of the federal child care tax credit, which is currently $1,000 per child for up to three children.

A crucial component to raising workers out of poverty would be an all-out effort to ensure that workers are allowed to form unions and bargain collectively. As the task force noted, “Among workers in similar jobs, unionized workers have higher pay, higher rates of health coverage, and better benefits than do nonunionized workers.”

In a recent interview about poverty, former Senator John Edwards told me: “Organizing is so important. We have 50 million service economy jobs and we’ll probably have 10 or 15 million more over the next decade. If those jobs are union jobs, they’ll be middle-class families. If not, they’re more likely to live in poverty. It’s that strong.”

The task force made several other recommendations, including proposals to ease access to higher education for poor youngsters, to help former prisoners find employment, to develop a more equitable unemployment compensation system, and to establish housing policies that would make it easier for poor people to move from neighborhoods of concentrated poverty to areas with better employment opportunities and higher-quality public services.

Mr. Edelman, an adviser on social policy in the Clinton administration, stressed that there is no one answer to the problem of poverty, and that in addition to public policy initiatives, it’s important to address the “things people have to do within their own communities to take responsibility for themselves and for each other.”

But he added, “It is unacceptable for this country, which is so wealthy, to have this many people who are left out.”

Web Sites that picked up his column:



(y) (y) As always, Herbert hits it out of the ballpark. (y)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 10:39 AM





Bush Loyalist Rose Quickly at Justice: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/29/AR2007032901964.html

Aide to Gonzales Won't Testify, Counselor Cites Fifth Amendment Right in Refusal:


THIS Sux: Goodling Granted Immunity in DOJ Probe:


Gee, you don't say: Gonzales aide in firings controversy resigns:


Meet Monica "Buzz Saw" Goodling: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/002933.php

Jon Stewart opines on Monica Goodling's grant of immunity and Pat Robertson's "prestigious" law school.


Monica Goodling, One of 150 Pat Robertson Cadres in the Bush Administration :


The Volokh Conspiracy: Monica Goodling and AUSA Hiring:



I LOVE THIS" "MONICA-GATE II"!!! It *is* yet another shameful situation of dozens or more caused by da village idiot's adminstration. I can only hope that the truth actually will come out and impeachment processes begin! (y) (y)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 10:44 AM
:) (8) :) (8) :) (8) :) (8) :) (8)

Bob Marley's singing sons have latched on to their father's vocal style and his mix of idealism and pleasure.

May 14, 2007

Music Review | Stephen Marley

Got Reggae: Marley and Marley (and Marley, Too)


For brand recognition, the best family name in popular music may well be Marley. Bob Marley’s reggae hits are instant singalongs for multiple generations of listeners worldwide — feel-good music that lets fans equate dance grooves and ganja smoke with political and spiritual righteousness.

Bob Marley’s singing sons — including Stephen Marley, who headlined a sold-out show at the Nokia Theater on Friday night with his brother Damian Jr. Gong Marley as special guest — have latched on to their father’s vocal style and his mix of idealism and pleasure. Stephen has a strong share of the Marley voice, grainy with yearning and determination, and he adds some quirky timing of his own.

Stephen and Damian have been melding their father’s legacy with music that has spread since his death in 1981: the rhymes and electronic tracks of hip-hop and Jamaican dancehall ragga. Both brothers perform on Stephen’s hit “The Traffic Jam,” a ragga song about being stopped by cops who smell marijuana and envy their luxury car. Damian’s music leans toward dancehall while preserving a social conscience, and Stephen’s current album, “Mind Control” (Tuff Gong/Universal Republic), sometimes blends his father’s roots-reggae grooves with the ominous minor chords of gangsta rap. Mr. Cheeks, a New York rapper, joined him onstage for “Iron Bars.”

But for much of his set, Stephen Marley made clear that he was in the family business. His band was modeled on the Wailers, playing steadfast 1970s-style reggae, and he alternated his own songs with his father’s familiar hits. (Since the Nokia Theater has a Broadway address, he couldn’t resist opening with Bob’s “Reggae on Broadway.”) Songs like “No Woman No Cry,” “One Love” and “Jammin’ ” are surefire, and Mr. Marley sang them as well as anyone; the audience enthusiastically joined in. But singing so much of his father’s material made him more like an oldies act than he needs to be.

His band replaced the minimal electronic beat of “The Traffic Jam” with a more standard live dancehall vamp. Backdating the music didn’t affect the roar of approval when Damian Marley arrived onstage. He took over the band for his own songs, among them “Pimpa’s Paradise,” which warns against crack addiction, and “Welcome to Jamrock,” which depicts crime alongside Jamaica’s tourist paradise.

With Damian chanting rhymes and Stephen singing choruses, the music turned contemporary; it was not always as rich as Bob Marley’s, but not nostalgic either. For the finale, Stephen fervently sang his father’s “Exodus,” and Damian reappeared with rapid-fire rhymes from his dancehall update on it, “Move!” They were holding, and extending, the family franchise.

The opening act, K’naan, brought his own social statements. He grew up in Somalia before coming to Harlem, and he rapped and sang — over djembe drumming, acoustic guitar and Ethiopian funk — about violence in the streets of Mogadishu and about facing the worst with a smile and a sense of purpose.

(*) (*) (*) (*) (*)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 10:49 AM
(f) (f) (f)

Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass., is one of scores of festivals across the country that offer warm-weather performances of music, theater and dance. Choices include classics and new works, stars and novices.


May 13, 2007


The World at Their Feet



NEW WORLD FLAMENCO FESTIVAL Irvine, Aug. 10-19. The theme for this year’s festival is “La Flor de la Vida,” with dancing by Compania Maria Jose Franco, Compania Andres Peña and Compania Juan Ogalla. (949) 854-4646, thebarclay.org.


(l) VAIL INTERNATIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL July 29-Aug. 11. Will Christopher Wheeldon single-handedly save American ballet? The festival has scored a coup with preview and debut programs of Mr. Wheeldon’s new Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company (Aug. 8 and 10). Pacific Northwest Ballet will also perform works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, William Forsythe and Nacho Duato. Damian Woetzel, the New York City Ballet principal who is the festival’s new artistic director, has put together two evenings of international dance (Aug. 3-4), in a season completed by Savion Glover, hip-hop and ballroom dancing. (888) 920-2787, vaildance.org.


RAVINIA FESTIVAL Highland Park, June 1-Sept. 17. Mark Morris takes a fresh look at the music of Mozart in his highly acclaimed “Mozart Dances,” performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group (Aug. 24-26). Another highlight is the world premiere of Donald Byrd’s “Jazz With the Joffrey,” to live music by Ramsey Lewis (June 22). (847) 266-5100, ravinia.org.


BATES DANCE FESTIVAL Lewiston, July 9-Aug. 11. The festival turns 25 this year, with no sign of fatigue. David Dorfman Dance (July 20-21) heads the five-company schedule, with a gala anniversary program (July 28) that includes PearsonWidrig Dance Theater and solo dances by Danny Buraczeski, Seán Curran, Rennie Harris, Liz Lerman, Bebe Miller and Doug Varone. (207) 786-6381, batesdancefestival.org.


JACOB’S PILLOW DANCE FESTIVAL Becket, June 16-Aug. 26. Hard to believe this spirited festival is 75. The anniversary will be acknowledged by a revival of Joanna Haigood’s “Invisible Wings,” a poignant work of dance, theater and live music about the Pillow’s history as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Other highlights include performances by Nina Ananiashvili’s new State Ballet of Georgia (June 20-24), Dancers of the Royal Danish Ballet (July 11-15) and Rasta Thomas’s Bad Boys of Dance (July 26-29), as well as the American premiere of “Club Guy & Roni,” participants in “NL: A Season of Dutch Arts in the Berkshires” (NL-Berkshires.org) at Mass MoCA and other Berkshires theater spaces (June 15 through August). (413) 243-0745, jacobspillow.org.

2007 SUMMER STAGES DANCE Concord, July 8-28. The focus here is on dance by choreographers and companies who meet with audiences at the festival, among them Chris Elam’s Misnomer troupe, Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performing Group, David Parker & the Bang Group and Headlong Dance Theater in a piece based on the writing of Isaac Bashevis Singer. (978) 402-2339, summerstagesdance.org.

New York City

THE BOOGIE DOWN DANCE SERIES AT BAAD! Hunts Point, the Bronx, through June 2. A panel discussion will focus on dance that sprouts like grass through concrete in the Bronx, courtesy of the pioneering efforts of Arthur Aviles and friends. And that is the feisty, spirited tone of much of the programming, which includes several showcases of work by new or young choreographers, some of them chosen by Bill T. Jones; a “downtown dance meets uptown dance” event including Ann Liv Young, Pedro Osorio and Pedro Jimenez (May 25); and Mr. Aviles’s Typical Theater troupe (May 31-June 2). (718) 842-5223, bronxacademyofartsanddance.org.

CITYPARKS DANCE July 14-Aug. 19. This innovative free festival, which tours parks in every borough except Staten Island, offers dance by 16 artists and companies, including Forces of Nature, Rumba Tap and Camille A. Brown. There are pre-performance dance classes too. (212) 360-8290, cityparksfoundation.org.

LINCOLN CENTER FESTIVAL July 10-29. The dance — or dance-infused — segment opens with David Michalek’s “Slow Dancing,” an installation in which slow-motion video of larger-than-life dancers including Wendy Whelan, Trisha Brown and Bill T. Jones is projected onto the facade of the New York State Theater, starting July 10. The National Ballet of Marseille, founded by Roland Petit and now directed by Frédéric Flamand, will present Mr. Flamand’s “Metapolis II,” a collaboration with the architect Zaha Hadid featuring a futuristic landscape of moving bodies, video and moving sculptures all bathed in blue and green light (July 25-27). The choreographer and dancer Shen Wei tries his hand at directing in “Second Visit to the Empress,” his re-envisioning of a section of a classic Chinese opera (July 24 and 28-29). (212) 721-6500, lincolncenter.org.

(l) LINCOLN CENTER OUT OF DOORS Aug. 2-27. The theme of this free, informal stroll through the arts is “The Summer of Love: Celebrating the Spirit of the ’60s.” It is anybody’s guess what the dance attractions have to do with that, but it is a good lineup that includes the Paul Taylor Dance Company (Aug. 3-4), Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu (Aug. 10-11), Trisha Brown (Aug. 14) and a joint appearance by the Lula Washington Dance Theater and Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. (Aug. 16). (212) 546-2656, lincolncenter.org.

(l) NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION Lincoln Center, June 20-24. Dancers ranging in age from 17 to 24, and hailing from 17 countries, will compete in three days of competition, beloved of hard-core ballet fans, ending with the winners dancing in a gala (June 24) for the rest of us. (212) 721-6500, nyibc.org.

QUEENS THEATER IN THE PARK’ S JPMORGAN CHASE LATINO CULTURAL FESTIVAL Flushing, July 25-Aug. 5. Pablo Aslan’s Avantango opens the festival, followed by Noche Flamenca, the Mexican folk troupe Semilla and the Costa Rican Diquis Tiquis, a mix of mime, dance and acting. (718) 760-0064, queenstheatre.org.

RIVER TO RIVER FESTIVAL Lower Manhattan, June 1-Sept. 14. This free outdoor festival (and its associated Sitelines series) open with performances by the Martha Graham Dance Company in powerful work from the 1930s and closes with four “Evening Stars” programs that include a celebration of evolving American choreography from Talley Beatty to David Gordon, with some José Limón and Hawaiian dance for good measure (Sept. 7), and the Paul Taylor Dance Company (Sept. 8). (212) 835-2789, rivertorivernyc.com.

SITELINES Lower Manhattan, June 1-Sept. 14. The performers in this free site-specific festival include Lawrence Goldhuber and showgirls (July 18-20 and 25-27), Reggie Wilson (Aug. 22-25) and Dean Moss in dance that combines text, video and shadow play (Aug. 27-29 and Sept. 4-6). (212) 219-9401, lmcc.net or rivertorivernyc.com.

SUMMERSTAGE Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, June 8-Aug. 12. Eight dance companies will perform in four programs. The troupes include Ron K. Brown/Evidence, Philadanco and six younger but well-established modern-dance groups. (212) 360-2777, summerstage.org.

TAP CITY July 7-14. Just about everyone who is anyone in tap shows up in this intimate, exuberant get-together of tappers from New York and around the world. There are workshops, seminars and films. (212) 239-6200, atdf.org.

New York State

BARD SUMMERSCAPE Annandale-on-Hudson, July 5-Aug. 19. “Elgar and His World” is the theme of this year’s festival of music, theater, film and cabaret as well as dance. Dance will be represented by as yet untitled new works by Doug Varone (July 5-8) and Susan Marshall (July 6, 8, 12, 14 and 15). (845) 758-7900, fishercenter.bard.edu.

NEW YORK CITY BALLET AT SARATOGA Saratoga Springs, July 3-21. The company will continue its centennial celebration of Lincoln Kirstein, who founded City Ballet with George Balanchine, in a season that includes Peter Martins’s new production of “Romeo and Juliet.” July 4 will be celebrated with Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” and fireworks over the amphitheater, which would also seem the perfect setting for Balanchine’s lustrous “Jewels” (July 18, 19 and 21). (518) 587-3330, spac.org.

North Carolina

AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL Durham, June 7-July 21. There will be plenty of splashy dance, including world premieres by Paul Taylor, Eiko and Koma, and Pilobolus, as well as mini-festivals of Russian and Argentine modern dance. The festival also continues its founding mission — the support of American modern dance — with a new work by the pioneering postmodernist Rudy Perez and revivals of classics by Martha Clarke, Laura Dean and Helen Tamiris, the last staged by Dianne McIntyre. (919) 684-4444, americandancefestival.org.

South Carolina

SPOLETO FESTIVAL U.S.A. Charleston, May 25-June 10. The wide-ranging dance attractions open with the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel (May 26-28) and close with the State Ballet of Georgia in “Swan Lake,” with Shen Wei Dance Arts (May 31, June 2) and Rubberbandance Group (May 25-28) tucked between. (845) 579-3100, spoletousa.org.


WOLF TRAP Vienna, June 26-August 21. This outdoor festival has long been dance-friendly, and four companies will perform this summer: Doug Varone & Dancers (July 24), Paul Taylor Dance Company (June 26), the Trey McIntyre Project in dances set to music by the Beatles and Beck (Aug. 7) and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in Twyla Tharp’s “Nine Sinatra Songs” (Aug. 21). And the step dancers will bob away in “Riverdance” (June 14-17). (703) 255-1900, wolftrap.org.

(f) (l) (f) (l) (f) (l) (f) (l) Gotta dance, gotta dance!

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 10:59 AM
(l) (8) (l)

A Flaming Lips moment at Lollapalooza 2006 in Chicago.


May 13, 2007


In a Stadium or in a Pool, Bands Galore



HIGH SIERRA MUSIC FESTIVAL Quincy, July 5-8. The vibe is so West Coast mellow at this July Fourth weekend jamfest in northeastern California — about 200 miles from San Francisco — that attendees report sharing beers with musicians they had just seen onstage. Far out! In its 17th year, grooves will be provided by the Disco Biscuits, Les Claypool, Galactic, Soulive, Yonder Mountain String Band, Drive-By Truckers, Mavis Staples, Garaj Mahal, Leftover Salmon and others. (866) 468-3399, highsierramusic.com.

HOLLYWOOD BOWL June 22-Sept. 30. Last year at the Bowl, Belle and Sebastian played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; now it’s the Decemberists’ turn, on July 7. Other highlights: Queen Latifah doing standards; the Mexico City art-rock geniuses Caf&#233; Tacuba; a reggae night with Burning Spear, Sly and Robbie, and Wailing Souls; the Brazilian drum sorcerer Carlinhos Brown on a bill with DJ Shadow and Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars; and Rufus Wainwright performing a tribute to Judy Garland’s Hollywood Bowl show of 1961. The Playboy Jazz Festival, June 16-17, has Chris Botti, Dianne Reeves, Buddy Guy, Phil Woods, Etta James and (shudder) Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s group, Miles Long. (323) 850-2000, hollywoodbowl.com.

MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL Sept. 21-23. For its 50th season, this longest continuously running jazz festival in the country — Newport had a hiatus in the ’70s — has a typically excellent lineup that dips into pop and blues for variety but remains a true jazz showcase. Headliners include Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck with Jim Hall, John McLaughlin, Diana Krall, Los Lobos, James Hunter and Ornette Coleman; Terence Blanchard and Gerald Wilson offer premieres. The second, cheaper stage is almost as good: Kenny Barron, Mr. Hall, Rashied Ali, Cyrus Chestnut, Jacky Terrasson and the quartet of Dave Holland, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chris Potter and Eric Harland. (925) 275-9255, montereyjazzfestival.org.


JAZZ ASPEN SNOWMASS Now 17 years old, this organization produces two well-stocked festivals each summer amid the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. The June Festival (June 21-24), in downtown Aspen, has a mixture of jazz and pop acts, with Herbie Hancock, Madeleine Peyroux, Steve Winwood, Ang&#233;lique Kidjo, Marcus Miller and the Black Crowes. The Labor Day Festival (Aug. 31-Sept. 3), in nearby Snowmass Village Town Park, will announce its lineup soon. (866) 527-8499, jazzaspen.org.


(l) (l) CHICAGO BLUES FESTIVAL June 7-10. The nation’s premier blues gathering for the last 24 years, this festival draws hundreds of thousands of grateful listeners to its free concerts in Grant Park. This year features Koko Taylor, Irma Thomas, Bobby Rush, Magic Slim and the Teardrops, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Elmore James Jr., Cephas and Wiggins, and a Howlin’ Wolf tribute with James Cotton, Hubert Sumlin and Eddie Shaw. (312) 744-3315, chicagobluesfestival.us.

LOLLAPALOOZA Grant Park, Chicago, Aug. 3-5. The future of the most valuable brand name in ’90s alt-rock nostalgia looked uncertain when it was revived in 2003 as a package tour, after a five-year hiatus; it collapsed the next summer before the first band plugged in. But two years ago it was reimagined as a weekend smorgasbord &#224; la Coachella or Bonnaroo, and the change has made it one of the country’s essential summer events, with a core of up-to-the-minute rock and just enough other stuff to keep it from being too predictable. Among the 130-odd bands are Iggy and the Stooges, Pearl Jam, Daft Punk, Muse, Modest Mouse, Spoon, TV on the Radio, the Hold Steady, the Roots, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, M.I.A., Femi Kuti, Blonde Redhead and Roky Erickson. (888) 512-7469, lollapalooza.com.

PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL Union Park, Chicago, July 13-15. It’s one thing to pack 100 bands into a weekend and see what happens. It’s another to program a smaller festival based on good taste and provocative ideas. Two years ago Pitchfork, the influential music Web site, programmed a festival called Intonation; last year Intonation split off, and Pitchfork created another event in its own name. (Now Intonation is gone. So it goes.) This year Pitchfork presents Yoko Ono, Cat Power with Dirty Delta Blues, Clipse, Girl Talk, Grizzly Bear, the New Pornographers, Stephen Malkmus, Klaxons, the Sea and Cake and De La Soul. On the first day three acts revisit albums that are “classics” in more ways than one: Sonic Youth performs “Daydream Nation” (1988), GZA does “Liquid Swords” (’96) and Slint “Spiderland” (’91). pitchforkmusicfestival.com.


ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL New Orleans, July 5-7. Displaced by Hurricane Katrina to Houston last year after 11 years in the Louisiana Superdome, the Essence Festival returns home. It may be less symbolically potent than Mardi Gras or Jazzfest, but Essence has always been a solid series that celebrates the diversity of black pop without seeming too didactic. (But really, how could Ludacris, Chris Brown and Ciara ever be considered didactic?) This year features Beyonc&#233;, Ne-Yo, the O’Jays with Keith Sweat, Lionel Richie, Mary J. Blige, Robin Thicke, Maze, Common, Public Enemy, Rachelle Ferrell, Kenny Lattimore and Angie Stone. (800) 488-5252, essence.com.


VIRGIN FESTIVAL Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Aug. 4-5. In its second year this weekend festival is going head to head with Lollapalooza. A fair number of major acts will play both — Modest Mouse, Spoon, TV on the Radio, Amy Winehouse, M.I.A., Interpol — but Virgin scored with the Police, Beastie Boys and Smashing Pumpkins. (That’s weird, since the Pumpkins are from Chicago and headlined Lollapalooza in 1994, when it was the most influential tour in rock.) Others: Cheap Trick, Matisyahu, Chris Cornell, Girl Talk, Fratellis, Fountains of Wayne, Paolo Nutini, Peter Bjorn and John, LCD Soundsystem, Velvet Revolver, 311, Bad Brains, Wu-Tang Clan. (800) 551-7328, virginfestival.com.


10,000 LAKES FESTIVAL Detroit Lakes, July 18-21. The lineup looks good, if a little standard, for a 2007 jam-band festival, with Bob Weir and Ratdog, Trey Anastasio, Umphrey’s McGee, Moe, Gov’t Mule, “Zappa Plays Zappa,” Derek Trucks, Disco Biscuits, Galactic, Particle and Kaki King. What looks really enticing are the campgrounds: 600 acres of woods in the lake country of Minnesota, about 200 miles northwest of Minneapolis, with, the festival promises, plenty of “extremely private, wooded alcoves.” Perfect for long walks with the iPod. 10klf.com.

New Jersey

LIVE EARTH Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, July 7. The plan: a series of mega-concerts across seven continents. (Yes, seven — including Antarctica.) The hope: to promote environmental action. The schedule: beginning in Sydney and moving westward around the globe, following the sun. The grand finale: Giants Stadium will be the last show, and so far the performers include the Police, Bon Jovi, Smashing Pumpkins, Kanye West, Dave Matthews Band, Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow, Roger Waters, Rihanna, Melissa Etheridge, Kelly Clarkson, Fall Out Boy, AFI and John Mayer. But these kinds of events were made for last-minute additions and surprise appearances. liveearth.org.

SCHOOL OF ROCK MUSIC FESTIVAL Asbury Park, June 23-24. As seen in the documentary “Rock School,” Paul Green offers an extensive curriculum at his Philadelphia school, teaching youngsters the rock ’n’ roll canon as well as the fundamentals of power chords and budda-budda bass lines. For its first festival the school has invited some bands its students can really learn from: Ween (comedy jams), Bad Brains (dub-punk hybrids), Bouncing Souls (classical pop-punk), Benevento-Russo Duo (noncomedic jams) and Adrian Belew (advanced guitar technique). Also performing of course are the School of Rock All-Stars. (866) 468-7619, rocksoff.com.

New York City

BAM RHYTHM AND BLUES FESTIVAL MetroTech Commons, Flatbush and Myrtle Avenues, Brooklyn, June 7-Aug. 9. A modest but well-programmed lunchtime series outdoors in downtown Brooklyn, with free shows every Thursday. It begins with Ashford and Simpson and includes Booker T. and the MGs with Sharon Jones, Lizz Wright and Toumani Diabat&#233;’s Symmetric Orchestra. (718) 636-4100, bam.org.

CELEBRATE BROOKLYN Prospect Park, June 14-Aug. 11. The bookings have always been strong here, and the setting — a handsome band shell with a small paved area for chairs, surrounded by cool grass on a gentle slope — is the city’s most conducive to relaxation or revelry or a little of both. It opens with the Neville Brothers, and Manu Chao, the great Spanish-French globalist rocker, whose show here last year was a big, sweaty multilingual blow-out, returns for benefits on June 26 and 27; Ani DiFranco plays a benefit on July 18. The “free” concerts (it’s hard to refuse the request for $3) include Richard Thompson (June 21); Ralph Stanley (June 22); the Stills, Sam Roberts and Malajube (June 30); Bobby (Blue) Bland (July 20); Hal Willner’s tribute to Doc Pomus with Ben E. King, Teddy Thompson and Steven Bernstein (July 21); the Hold Steady (Aug. 9); and an African festival with Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Sekouba Bambino and Stella Chiweshe (Aug. 11). (718) 855-7882, celebratebrooklyn.org.

JVC JAZZ FESTIVAL June 17-30. Highlights at the nation’s premier jazz festival include big all-star birthday concerts for Eartha Kitt and Lee Konitz (who are 80), and for Ron Carter and Nancy Wilson (who are 70). Mr. Carter’s show is particularly packed, with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Jim Hall, Mulgrew Miller and others. Also: the Keith Jarrett-Jack DeJohnette-Gary Peacock trio; Cesaria Evora and the Bird and the Bee; India.Arie and Lizz Wright; a double bill of Joshua Redman and Branford Marsalis; and, oh, a few dozen other major talents like Marian McPartland, Bela Fleck and Del McCoury, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Allen Toussaint, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Barron and Eliane Elias. (646) 862-0458, festivalproductions.net.

(l) (l) LINCOLN CENTER Summer pop happenings include Midsummer Night Swing, with low-dipping, high-kicking dance music by Charanga Soleil, David Ostwald’s Gully Low Jazz Band, Bob Wills’s Texas Playboys, the J C Hopkins Biggish Band and the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra (June 19-July 21); the Lincoln Center Festival, with the reunited Os Mutantes (July 17) and So Percussion with Matmos (July 20-21); and the Out of Doors series with free concerts all over the Lincoln Center campus, featuring Dave Brubeck, Pauline Oliveros, the Mingus Big Band and Mingus Orchestra, and the annual Roots of American Music minifestival with the Dixie Hummingbirds and others (Aug. 2-27). (212) 546-2656 (events hotline) or (212) 721-6500 (tickets), lincolncenter.org.

MCCARREN PARK POOL This 50,000-square-foot municipal pool in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, left fallow for 22 years, became an unexpected social nexus of the New York rock scene when it reopened last summer for a series of concerts. Some were presented by Live Nation, which paid the Parks Department a $200,000 fee. Live Nation returns this year with at least two concerts: Built to Spill and Cat Power (July 7) and Sonic Youth playing its 1988 masterpiece “Daydream Nation” (July 28). Last year also featured free shows by a small Brooklyn promoter, JellyNYC, that in addition to first-rate indie rock also featured entertainments like water slides. JellyNYC has booked nine Sundays this summer, and though the dates have not been announced, the bands are to include Illinois, I’m From Barcelona, Man Man, Dengue Fever, Blonde Redhead, Ted Leo and the Thermals. livenation.com, thepoolparties.com.

RIVER TO RIVER FESTIVAL June 1-Sept. 14. The biggest festival in New York City is actually not one series but many, combined into a single marketing umbrella after 9/11 to help revive Lower Manhattan. The offerings in its sixth year are vast, from the must-see hipster series at South Street Seaport (the National, Camera Obscura, Menomena, Fujiya & Miyagi, Animal Collective, Battles) to the aging-hipster lineup at Castle Clinton (Ron Sexsmith, Roky Erickson and Alejandro Escovedo, Drive-By Truckers). The New Pornographers play the Battery Park Lawn on July 4; Spoon is in Battery Park City on July 11. But there’s more than hipster appeal here: Jimmy Bosch and Puerto Rican Power in a Latin series in Battery Park City; at World Financial Center Plaza, Joan Armatrading, Marc Ribot and what’s being billed as a Living Room night with Martha Wainwright; and at the Winter Garden at World Financial, the 26-hour, 20th-anniversary Bang on a Can marathon, among whose many performers are Yo La Tengo. Best of all, every concert is free. (212) 835-2789, rivertorivernyc.com.

ROCK THE BELLS Randalls Island, July 28-29. Attention everyone who didn’t have the time, money or foresight to attend Coachella this year: the Rage Against the Machine reunion is coming to New York, at this otherwise all-hip-hop outdoor show featuring the Wu-Tang Clan, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, MF Doom, Blackalicious, Pharoahe Monch, the Coup, Mr. Lif and Public Enemy. (Rock the Bells also has two dates in California in August.) rockthebells.net.

SIREN MUSIC FESTIVAL Coney Island. The lineup for The Village Voice’s seventh annual day of sun, guitars and sea mist has not been announced, but the event is to be July 21. A shadow hangs over it: with a $1.5 billion development coming to Coney Island and the impending end of the Astroland amusement park, could this be Siren’s last dance? villagevoice.com/siren.

(l) SUMMERSTAGE Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, June 8-Aug. 12. A perfect summer day can be made even a little more perfect with a concert at SummerStage. The full season has not yet been announced, but among the free shows are Cassandra Wilson (June 15); Television with Dragons of Zynth (June 16); Neko Case and Eric Bachman (July 20); and a reunion of some of the early-rap stars of the 1983 movie “Wild Style,” with Chief Rocker Busy Bee, the Cold Crush Brothers, Grand Master Caz and Grand Wizard Theodore (July 29). Benefit (i.e., not free) concerts will include Joss Stone, Common and Ryan Shaw (June 8) and the Decemberists with Grizzly Bear (July 16). The City Parks Foundation, which presents SummerStage, also offers a series of free concerts in parks throughout the city; a full schedule is at cityparksfoundation.org. (212) 360-2777, summerstage.org.

VISION FESTIVAL Orensanz Center for the Arts, 172 Norfolk Street, Lower East Side, June 19-24. Members of the downtown avant-garde scene cried like Chicken Little when the Lower East Side club Tonic closed last month after nine years. But Tonic was not the only home for experimental music in New York. The Vision Festival, now in its 12th year, is proof of this scene’s vitality and loyalty. After the opening invocation with Patricia Nicholson, William Parker and Hamid Drake, Vision continues with six densely programmed days of music, poetry and dance, featuring Matthew Shipp, Vijay Iyer’s Fieldwork, Marc Ribot, Bill Dixon with the Sound Vision Orchestra, Roy Campbell, Fred Anderson, Amiri and Amina Baraka’s Black Ark and Thomas Buckner. (212) 696-6681, visionfestival.org.

New York State

BETHEL WOODS CENTER FOR THE ARTS Last summer this gleaming, copper-covered pavilion with seats for 4,800 rose on the site of the Woodstock festival — the original, 1969 one, with the peace, love and mud — at a cost of $70 million. The New York Philharmonic opened it, but after that the bookings were a little shaky: the Goo Goo Dolls, Ashlee Simpson. This year Bob Dylan plays on June 30 (good), and the Philharmonic returns on July 7 with Kevin Kline as the narrator in “Peter and the Wolf” (also good). The bland jam band Widespread Panic, on July 22 (not so good). Arlo Guthrie and Richie Havens on Aug. 17 (O.K., but a little predictable). “Hippiefest: A Concert of Peace and Love” on Aug. 11 with the Turtles, the Zombies, Mountain and Country Joe McDonald (oh dear ...). (866) 781-2922, bethelwoodslive.org.

JONES BEACH Wantagh. Now that we have the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza and Blender Theater at Gramercy, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater sounds almost normal. Almost. This summer’s lineup includes Gwen Stefani with Akon and Lady Sovereign (next Sunday); Fall Out Boy with +44 and the Academy Is ... (June 5); Chicago and America (June 22); the Fray with OK Go (June 27); Bob Dylan (June 29); Rush (July 2); ZZ Top, the Pretenders and Stray Cats (July 22); Steve Miller Band and the Doobie Brothers (July 28); Def Leppard with Foreigner and Styx (Aug. 14); Linkin Park (Aug. 15); Velvet Revolver and Alice in Chains (Aug. 18); and the Allman Brothers with Bob Weir and Ratdog (Aug. 21). (516) 221-1000, nikonjonesbeach.com.

MOUNTAIN JAM Hunter Mountain, June 1-3. Lots of little Bonnaroos have sprouted up in the last few years, with varied rosters built around groovy jam-rock. This one, in a lovely spot in the Catskills, has Gov’t Mule, Phil Lesh, G. Love and Special Sauce, Umphrey’s McGee, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Robert Randolph, Ozomatli and the New Orleans Social Club, which features Henry Butler and Ivan Neville. mountainjam.com.

Rhode Island

(l) (l) JVC JAZZ FESTIVAL Newport, Aug. 10-12. It’s a good year for Newport, with (take a deep breath) Al Green, B. B. King and Etta James, Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Marcus Miller, Dave Brubeck, Bruce Hornsby with Jack DeJohnette and Christian McBride, and tributes to Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie’s 1957 festival appearances, with Dianne Reeves and a truckload of players in the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band: Slide Hampton, James Moody, Roy Hargrove, Javon Jackson, Jay Ashby, Roberta Gambarini, Jimmy Heath. (866) 468-7619, festivalproductions.net.

(l) (l) NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL Aug. 3-5. Its biggest moment is still when Bob Dylan went electric in 1965. And that was 42 years ago. But surprises still happen, like when the Pixies went acoustic in 2005. The lineup this year includes Linda Ronstadt, the Allman Brothers, Ralph Stanley, Alison Krauss with Jerry Douglas, Emmylou Harris, the North Mississippi Allstars, Alejandro Escovedo and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. It’s disappointing, though, that Newport has still not paid any attention to the young psych-folk revival, the most significant new American folk movement in decades. Mr. Dylan, remember, was 24 in ’65. (866) 468-7619, festivalproductions.net.


BONNAROO Manchester, June 14-17. Its name has become shorthand for the new festival philosophy of eclecticism and abundance, and even in its sixth year, the bookings remain surprising and exciting. (Manu Chao and the Decemberists? Ornette Coleman and Tool? You can only imagine what kind of jams might be going on in the green room.) Some of the 100 or so acts this year appearing on the festival’s 700-acre farm southeast of Nashville are: the Police, the White Stripes, Ben Harper, Wilco, Franz Ferdinand, the Flaming Lips, the Roots, Wolfmother, Regina Spektor, Cold War Kids, Dr. Dog, Paolo Nutini, Brazilian Girls, Mavis Staples, Lily Allen, Fountains of Wayne, Ralph Stanley, Damien Rice, Ween, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Gogol Bordello, Martha Wainwright, Gillian Welch and Spoon. bonnaroo.com.

(l) CMA MUSIC FESTIVAL Nashville, June 7-10. There may not be as many big country festivals as there are for jazz or jam bands, but this four-day spread on stages throughout downtown Nashville pretty much makes up for any deficit. Trying to figure out who’s not booked could be a good game to play on the ride there: Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Brooks and Dunn, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Sugarland, Josh Turner, the Oak Ridge Boys, Carrie Underwood, Jo Dee Messina, Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes, Big & Rich, Billy Currington, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Gretchen Wilson, Julie Roberts, Eric Church, Bucky Covington. (800) 262-3378, cmafest.com.


AUSTIN CITY LIMITS FESTIVAL Zilker Park, Sept. 14-16. An outgrowth of the long-running concert program on PBS, this series takes place outdoors (as opposed to in a television studio with a cityscape backdrop) and has a huge, exciting lineup, with over 100 acts in three days. Among those confirmed so far: Bob Dylan, Bjork, Arcade Fire, the Killers, the White Stripes, Spoon, Gotan Project, the Decemberists, Wilco, Bloc Party, Andrew Bird, Kaiser Chiefs, Crowded House, Rodrigo y Gabriela, James Hunter, Indigo Girls. (888) 512-7469, aclfestival.com.

KERRVILLE FOLK FESTIVAL May 24-June 10. The granddaddy of all grass-roots folk festivals, Kerrville, in the Texas Hill Country, has attracted emerging songwriters and performers since 1972 and has a legacy of bringing out strong new talent: Michelle Shocked recorded her breakthrough “Texas Campfire Tapes” there in 1986. The big names this year are Judy Collins, Peter Yarrow, Jonathan Edwards, A. J. Croce, Ruthie Foster, Susan Werner and the reunited Lost Gonzo Band. But the real stars are always people you haven’t heard of yet. (830) 257-3600, kerrvillefolkfestival.com.


BUMBERSHOOT Seattle, Sept. 1-3. The big outdoor to-do in Seattle each Labor Day weekend is Bumbershoot, which has been going for a remarkable 37 years with a varied lineup of plays, comedians and literary readings. But the pop acts are what really fills the streets, and this year they include the Shins, the Wu-Tang Clan, Crowded House, Lupe Fiasco, Steve Earle, Panic! at the Disco, Devendra Banhart, Gogol Bordello, Roky Erickson, the Avett Brothers, Yungchen Lhamo and Devotchka. bumbershoot.org.

SASQUATCH The Gorge, George, May 26-27. This Memorial Day weekend festival, 150 miles east of Seattle at one of the most visually stunning outdoor stages in the country, has scaled back slightly this year, with two days of concerts instead of three. But those two days are pretty packed: Bjork, Arcade Fire, Manu Chao, M.I.A., Neko Case, the Hold Steady and Grizzly Bear (among others) on May 26, and Beastie Boys, Interpol, Michael Franti, Spoon, Bad Brains, the Dandy Warhols, Clinic, Tokyo Police Club, Money Mark and St. Vincent on May 27. Camping packages are available, and probably worth it. (206) 628-0888, sasquatchfestival.com.


MONTREAL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL June 28-July 8. Now this is a festival: every hall, club and park in town, it seems, is given over to concerts, hundreds of them. Highlights of its 28th edition include Manu Chao, Wynton Marsalis, Cesaria Evora, Roy Haynes, Seu Jorge, Derek Trucks, Mark Murphy, Billy Cobham, Didier Lockwood, the Spaghetti Western Orchestra and Tortoise. The full schedule will be announced June 5. (888) 515-0515, montrealjazzfest.com.

VICTORIAVILLE, QUEBEC Thursday-May 21. The trend of ever bigger, ever more inclusive booking has made all festivals better. The Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, 100 miles northeast of Montreal, has long had a focus on experimental jazz, but in recent years it has added more from rock’s fringe as well, fostering all kinds of who-ever-thought collaborations, like when the saxophonist Anthony Braxton played a set with the clamorous Michigan band Wolf Eyes two years ago. Mr. Braxton returns with two bands, the Diamond Curtain Wall Trio and his “12(+1)tet.” Also: Marilyn Crispell, Kevin Blechdom and Eugene Chadbourne, Magik Markers, Joane H&#233;tu, John Zorn, Acid Mothers Gong, the Melvins, and Keiji Haino playing with Merzbow. It’s the Newport of noise. (800) 361-4595, fimav.qc.ca.


B. B. KING BLUES MUSIC FESTIVAL With Mr. King, Al Green and Etta James — each as potent and intense as ever. It begins July 24 in Hollywood, Fla., and ends Sept. 16 outside Seattle, stopping in the New York area at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. (Aug. 3), the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City (Aug. 4) and the Theater at Madison Square Garden (Aug. 7).

KELLY CLARKSON Her new album, “My December,” is scheduled for release next month, and among the guests on it is Mike Watt, the veteran punk bassist. But don’t look for him here; he’s touring with Iggy and the Stooges. Ms. Clarkson’s tour begins with “Live Earth” at Giants Stadium on July 7 and runs through Sept. 28, in Las Vegas.

(l) DEF LEPPARD, STYX AND FOREIGNER Go ahead and laugh, but you’ll be humming “F-f-foolin’ ” and “Mr. Roboto” as these proven draws laugh all the way to the bank. Their tour starts June 27 in Cincinnati and runs into October.

FAMILY VALUES With Korn, Evanescence, Atreyu, Flyleaf, Trivium, HellYeah and others. It begins July 20 in Maryland Heights, Mo., and runs to Sept. 2 in Irvine, Calif.

(l) FAITH HILL AND TIM MCGRAW This country superstar couple announced their 2006 tour with harsh words for President Bush over the response to Hurricane Katrina, though they suffered no Dixie Chicks-like backlash. No such agitation for their current tour, which begins in Omaha on June 5, comes to the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., on July 9, and runs to September.

HONDA CIVIC TOUR Maybe someone at Honda knows what Civics have to do with Fall Out Boy, Cobra Starship, +44, the Academy Is ... and Paul Wall. Already in motion, the tour comes to the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, N.Y., on June 5 and the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., on June 6, ending in Anaheim, Calif., on July 2. civictour.honda.com.

OZZFEST It’s going free in its 12th year, though that doesn’t mean that getting in will be easy: ticket codes have been released through ozzfest.com and various sponsor Web sites, to be redeemed beginning June 12. The 24-city tour, featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Lamb of God, Hatebreed, Lordi, Behemoth, Mondo Generator and Nile, begins July 12 in Seattle.

THE POLICE Every summer needs at least one tour for which people are willing to pay $500. It’s good for the bands, it’s good for promoters and all those T-shirt manufacturers and hot dog vendors, and, if only as a reminder of why dancing while peering at the stage through binoculars can be exciting, it’s actually good for the fans too. The North American dates for this year’s blockbuster start May 28 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and end at Giants Stadium on Aug. 5. Along the way are Bonnaroo, Live Earth and the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, as well as Madison Square Garden (Aug. 1 and 3). thepolicetour.com.

SOUNDS OF THE UNDERGROUND It makes sense that Chimaira, Shadows Fall and Every Time I Die are booked for this annual hardcore-and-metal trek. But why Gwar, those costumed monsters spurting fake multicolored blood? And, for anyone who attended last year, why Gwar again? (July 6-Aug. 11, coming to the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, N.J., on July 14.) soundsoftheundergroundtour.com.

GWEN STEFANI It didn’t get the greatest reviews, but Ms. Stefani’s crunkification of “The Lonely Goatherd” from “The Sound of Music” on her latest album, “The Sweet Escape,” is still lots of fun. And wouldn’t Julie Andrews approve of that? This tour, with Akon and Lady Sovereign, has already begun; it comes to the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey on Friday, and Nikon at Jones Beach Theater next Sunday, and continues through the end of June.

TRUE COLORS TOUR With Cyndi Lauper, Deborah Harry, Erasure, the Dresden Dolls, the Gossip, Margaret Cho and MisShapes. Along the way look for Rufus Wainwright, Rosie O’Donnell and the Indigo Girls as guests. June 8-30, coming to Radio City Music Hall on June 18. truecolorstour.com.

VANS WARPED TOUR Now 13 years old, this circus of skateboards, punk and tattoos includes Bad Religion, Coheed and Cambria, Killswitch Engage, K-os, New Found Glory, the Unseen, the Matches and lots, lots more. (Dozens of bands rotate through the lineup over the course of the tour.) It begins June 29 in Pomona, Calif., and heads east, coming to the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island Aug. 4, then ends in Los Angeles on Aug. 25. warpedtour.com.

WHITE STRIPES After playing Bonnaroo on June 24, the White Stripes — whose new album, “Icky Thump” (Warner Brothers), will be released June 19 — go on a pretty thorough tour of Canada (Moncton, New Brunswick? Glace Bay, Nova Scotia?) and then play a handful of American dates, including Madison Square Garden on July 24.

;) Despite a deep aversion to crowds and preference for small venue music, theater, dance, etc. I once in a blue moon make exceptions......but the headliners have got to be ABSOLUTELY STELLAR!! ;)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-14-2007, 11:07 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l) (l) (l)

Dorothy Lawson, Mary Rowell, Ralph Farris and Cornelius Dufallo of Ethel, due at the Grand Canyon festival.


May 13, 2007

Classical Music

Beethoven in a Barn, and More



(l) (l) GRAND CANYON MUSIC FESTIVAL Sept. 1-16. You can’t beat the scenery: This small but musically respectable festival is held in the Shrine of the Ages, near the south rim of the canyon. The site’s name may be anodyne, but the music is not, with ensembles like Ethel, the offbeat string-quartet-cum-band Trio Solisti and the Calder Quartet balancing Glass and Riley against Schubert. (800) 997-8285, grandcanyonmusicfest.org.


CABRILLO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista, July 30-Aug. 12. To a festival devoted to the new, anniversaries aren’t that important. The music director Marin Alsop is shrugging off Cabrillo’s 45th and focusing instead on younger things: world premieres by Kevin Puts, Jennifer Higdon, Mark O’Connor, and other recent works and West Coast premieres by everyone from Philip Glass to Daniel Kellogg. (831) 426-6966, cabrillomusic.org.

CARMEL BACH FESTIVAL July 14-Aug. 4. The “St. Matthew Passion” is a focus of the festival’s 70th season, which also includes cantatas and contrasting pieces by other composers, from Telemann to Arvo Pärt. Each concert is repeated for three consecutive weeks: Sundays, “St. Matthew”; Mondays, music by Bach’s contemporaries; Tuesdays, an overview of Bach’s oeuvre; and so on. Led by Bruno Weil. Sanford Sylvan is a soloist. (831) 624-2046, bachfestival.org.

HOLLYWOOD BOWL July 10-Sept. 13. The very name evokes glamour and tradition, and the roster is starry enough to back it up. The classical concerts at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s summer home feature both of California’s major conductors: Esa-Pekka Salonen, leading, among other things, a concert version of the original “Boris Godunov,” and Michael Tilson Thomas. (323) 850-2000, hollywoodbowl.com.

MUSIC ACADEMY OF THE WEST Santa Barbara, June 18-Aug. 11. A garden estate, a view of the ocean, and 60 years of music teaching are celebrated with a schedule that includes Thomas Hampson and a fully staged “Bohème,” the Takács Quartet and Gil Shaham, and conductors like David Robertson and John Williams. Voice is a particular focus of the program, which is led by Marilyn Horne. (805) 969-4726, musicacademy.org.

OJAI MUSIC FESTIVAL June 7-10. Pierre-Laurent Aimard has ascended in the past few years to a kind of musical divinity; now he’s the music director of this brief but venerable festival, which, after last year’s Golijov-fest, moves into a whole spectrum of artists linked to Mr. Aimard and making Ojai debuts, including the composer Peter Eotvos, the percussion ensemble Nexus and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. (805) 646-2094, ojaifestival.org.

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA June 2-July 1. The summer’s operas are “Don Giovanni,” with the heartthrob baritone Mariusz Kwiecien; a treat of a “Rosenkavalier” with Joyce DiDonato and Soile Isokoski; and Gluck’s “Iphegénie en Tauride” with Susan Graham, who will sing the same opera, in a different production, at the Met next season. (415) 864-3330, sfopera.com.

SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY JUNE FESTIVAL June 14-24. “Russian Firebrand, Russian Virtuoso: The Music of Prokofiev” is the title of this intense survey of Prokofiev’s music, including all five piano concertos, played by four Russian pianists (Vladimir Feltsman, Yefim Bronfman, Ilya Yakushev, Mikhail Rudy). (415) 864-6000, sfsymphony.org.


ASPEN MUSIC FESTIVAL AND SCHOOL June 21-Aug. 19. One might have thought the world was running out of Cavalli operas for a North American premiere, but here’s “Eliogabalo,” for one night only: a highlight of this classic festival. “Blue Notes” is this year’s theme: jazz-influenced work from Ravel to Adams to, in a rare sighting, Kathleen Battle singing Gershwin. (970) 925 9042, aspenmusicfestival.com.

BRAVO! VAIL VALLEY MUSIC FESTIVAL June 24-Aug. 2. The festival has raised its resident-orchestra ante by dropping Dallas and adding the Philadelphia Orchestra to the Rochester and New York Philharmonics. (877) 812-5700, vailmusicfestival.org.

CENTRAL CITY OPERA June 30-Aug. 19. The first festival in this theater in a Victorian mountain town opened in 1932 with Lillian Gish playing Dumas fils’s “Dame aux Camelias”; 75 years later Central City Opera harks back to those roots with the opera based on that play, “La Traviata.” But the main event is the world premiere of “Poet Li Bai,” by Guo Wenjing, with the Dutch contemporary-music specialist Ed Spanjaard and an all-Chinese cast. Then there’s “The Saint of Bleecker Street,” directed by Catherine Malfitano, a timely tribute to Gian Carlo Menotti’s recent death; and Massenet’s “Cinderella.” (303) 292-6700, centralcityopera.org.

(l) CRESTED BUTTE MUSIC FESTIVAL July 4-Aug. 4. Beautiful mountain landscape is a given at music festivals in Colorado ski towns, but a double bill of “Pagliacci” and “Gianni Schicchi” is not. And Beethoven’s “Eroica,” in a barn, with free beer, is unexpected in many ways. David Stern is this 10-year-old festival’s new conductor; the mix includes contemporary chamber music and a Battle of the Bluegrass Bands. (970) 349-0619, crestedbuttemusicfestival.com.


CONNECTICUT EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL New London, June 8-24. There’s an appropriate intimacy to this small Yankee festival of early music, which celebrates its 25th anniversary with some interesting concerts, including Vivaldi’s “Estro Armonico,” music for virginals (the keyboard instruments) and, a large-scale culmination, Handel’s “Alexander’s Feast.” (860)444-2419, ctearlymusic.org.


FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL Daytona Beach, July 13-28. Many festivals began as orchestras’ summer seasons; this biennial one, however, plays host to an orchestra from overseas, the London Symphony Orchestra. Marin Alsop, Daniel Harding and Yan Pascal Tortelier are among the conductors of the five orchestral programs that form the centerpiece of a spread of chamber music and pops and family concerts. (866) 849-0731, fif-lso.org.


SUN VALLEY SUMMER SYMPHONY July 29-Aug. 13. It’s beautiful, it’s classy, and it’s free: Alasdair Neale, who has led this festival for 12 years, conducts orchestral musicians from around the country in everything from Mahler’s Fifth to John Adams. There’s also a considerable chamber program (July 22-26), and evenings concerts are offered by Thomas Hampson and Brian Stokes Mitchell. (208) 622-5607, svsummersymphony.org.


GRANT PARK MUSIC FESTIVAL Chicago, June 13-Aug. 18. Particularly since the opening of its Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion, Grant Park has been drawing crowds and generating buzz. The panoply of concerts offers festival favorites and subversive twists: for instance an evening titled “Beethoven to Gershwin” throws in Antheil’s Fifth. (312) 742-7638, grantparkmusicfestival.com.

RAVINIA FESTIVAL Highland Park, June 1-Sept. 16. It calls itself “America’s Oldest Music Festival,” and it’s certainly one of the biggest: nominally the Chicago Symphony’s summer home, Ravinia bursts with musicals, dance, chamber music in the jewel of a theater called the Martin, and initiatives like “One Score, One Chicago,” which focuses the city’s attention every year on selected music. This year’s pavilion concerts include Zemlinsky (James Conlon is the festival’s music director) and Patricia Racette in “Madame Butterfly.” (847) 266-5100, ravinia.org.


DES MOINES METRO OPERA FESTIVAL June 22-July 15. This little company has been producing opera on a surprisingly high level for 35 years and has picked a typically ambitious selection: “Carmen,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Otello.” (515) 961-6221, desmoinesmetroopera.org.


BOWDOIN INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Brunswick, June 23-Aug. 4. Another high-quality teaching festival, Bowdoin has many facets besides regular Friday night concerts with faculty like the musicians of Ying Quartet. For example there’s a mini-festival of contemporary music, with works by Ingram Marshall, Chinary Ung and many others. (207) 725-3895, www.summermusic.org.


EASTERN SHORE CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL Easton and Chestertown, June 8-17. Most of the programs in this 22-year-old chamber festival offer a pleasing twist, like a sonata for two cellos by the great musicologist Donald Francis Tovey. (410) 819-0380, musicontheshore.org.


ASTON MAGNA Great Barrington and Williamstown, Mass., and Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., June 29-Aug. 4. Bach and the French Baroque, Monteverdi and Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” are on hand for the 35th anniversary of this vintage early music festival. (800) 875-7156, astonmagna.org.

BERKSHIRE CHORAL FESTIVAL Sheffield, July 14-Aug. 11. This participatory festival allows singers to spend a week working intensely with leading choral conductors in programs that may juxtapose Haydn’s “Harmoniemesse” with a brand-new commission by Donald McCullough, or “Te Deums” by Haydn, Verdi, Bruckner and Arvo Pärt. (413) 229-1999, chorus.org.

BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL June 11-17. Boston’s early music scene beats New York’s; that’s the conventional wisdom, and it’s supported every two years when this festival presents a wide range of period concerts with musicians from around the world. A highlight is the North American premiere of Lully’s opera “Psyché,” which will go on to Great Barrington for three more performances. (617) 868-2363, bemf.org.

TANGLEWOOD Lenox, July 6-Aug. 26. Tanglewood is the American Ur-festival, the archetype of the major orchestra’s summer home with concertgoers picnicking on the lawn. This summer James Levine appears to be countering rumors that he’s slowing down with an energetic 11 programs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, including some juicy dramatic works (“Don Carlo,” “La Damnation de Faust”). Tanglewood is also participating in a Berkshires-wide celebration of Dutch art and culture; this translates to a concert by the Netherlands Bach Society and another one led by Edo de Waart. (888) 266-1200, tanglewood.org.


MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA’S SOMMERFEST Minneapolis, July 12-Aug. 5. This orchestra’s summer home is the same as its regular-season home; it just spruces up for the season with some festive programs, starting with a free concert of Nordic music under the orchestra’s music director, Osmo Vanska, and concluding with a concert of “La Bohème” led by the festival’s music director, Andrew Litton. (612) 371-5656, minnesotaorchestra.org.


OPERA THEATER OF ST. LOUIS May 19-June 24. The death of Colin Graham in April will leave a shadow over the festival of opera in English he helped shape. He will be present this season in the libretto he wrote for David Carlson’s new “Anna Karenina,” which had its premiere in Florida. The other offerings are “La Traviata,” “I Puritani” and “The Mikado.” (314) 961-0644, opera-stl.org.

New Hampshire

OPERA NORTH Lebanon, Aug. 11-25. While many small opera companies stick to “La Bohème,” this one, housed in a beautiful 800-seat theater from 1923, is celebrating its 25th year on a large scale, with Verdi’s “Falstaff” and Puccini’s “Turandot.” (603) 448-0400, operanorth.org.

New Jersey

OCEAN GROVE CAMP MEETING ASSOCIATION May 26-Sept. 8. A dry spot on a coastline known for parties, Ocean Grove features Victorian houses and a Methodist heritage going back 138 years. The annual camp meeting — all summer — includes a range of music like a twice-weekly series of free organ recitals on the 10,000-pipe organ in the Great Auditorium. (800) 773-0097, oceangrove.org.

NEW JERSEY OPERA THEATER SUMMERFEST Princeton, July 13-29. Young professional singers, with a few conductors familiar from New York City Opera, in “The Magic Flute,” “The Pirates of Penzance” and “Romeo and Juliet,” which the New Jersey Opera Theater is staging at the McCarter Theater. (609) 258-2787, njot.org.

New Mexico

(l) ANTA FE OPERA June 29-Aug. 25. Some staples, some less-known works, and a Strauss opera: the formula has worked for Santa Fe for years. “La Bohème” features Nicole Cabell; “Così Fan Tutte” is a revival of a popular production; Tan Dun’s “Tea: A Mirror of Soul” has toured the world; and Rameau’s “Platée” has become a showpiece for the comprimario tenor Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, who can evoke tears with his portrayal of the frog queen. The Strauss opera is “Daphné,” which had its American premiere here. (505) 986-5955, santafeopera.org.

(l) MUSIC FROM ANGEL FIRE Angel Fire, Taos, Raton, and Las Vegas, N.M., Aug. 17-Sept. 3. Northeastern New Mexico has been a magnet for artists since the days when they lived there in communes. This festival draws a number of notables, including some from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center crowd (the Kavafian sisters, Anne-Marie McDermott), as well as New Mexico residents like Guillermo Figueroa. (888) 377-3300, musicfromangelfire.org.

New York State

BARD FESTIVAL AND BARD SUMMERSCAPE Annandale-on-Hudson, July 5-Aug. 19. Bard’s summer has expanded from two weekends of concerts in a tent to a full season of major performing-arts events in the gleaming silver Fisher Center, designed by Frank Gehry. “Elgar and His World” is the topic of the festival, and that means a host of related performances at Summerscape: Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Sorcerer,” and two operas based on Oscar Wilde plays, Zemlinsky’s “Florentine Tragedy” and “Dwarf.” (845) 758-7900, fishercenter.bard.edu.

CARAMOOR INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL June 23-Aug. 5. Under the administration of the ebullient Michael Barrett and the continuing musical leadership of Peter Oundjian, conducting the resident Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Caramoor appears to be thriving. A feature this summer is the 10th anniversary of Will Crutchfield’s Bel Canto at Caramoor, which is moving a little outside the parameters of bel canto with “Il Trovatore” (Ewa Podles is the Azucena) but which also offers “Linda di Chamounix” and Rossini’s “Petite Messe Solennelle.” (914) 232-1252, caramoor.org.

CHAUTAUQUA INSTITUTION June 30-Aug. 21. Chautauqua puts its money where its mouth is with a full symphony season that includes a concert performance of Verdi’s “Otello,” a program of chamber concerts, and opera and music theater: “Elisir d’Amore,” “Carmen,” “Werther” and “Once Upon a Mattress.” (716) 357-6250, ciweb.org.

GLIMMERGLASS OPERA Cooperstown, July 7-Aug. 28. It’s unusual for an opera company to do a themed season, but this year all four operas in the pastorally set Alice Busch Opera Theater are based on the legend of Orpheus, including Offenbach’s opéra bouffe “Orpheus in the Underworld” and Philip Glass’s “Orphée” (inspired by the Cocteau film). Monteverdi’s and Gluck’s Orpheuses will also be featured, as will Orpheus films and concerts. Can action toys be far behind? (607) 547-2255, glimmerglass.org.

JUNE IN BUFFALO June 4-10. America’s answer to Darmstadt, this new-music crucible for composers and students was founded by Morton Feldman in 1975. It tends to attract repeat offenders: this year’s faculty includes Steve Reich, Charles Wuorinen and John Harbison, who have all been here before. Resident ensembles include the Arditti Quartet and the wonderful soprano Lucy Shelton. (716) 645-2921, www.music.buffalo.edu/juneinbuffalo.

(l) LAKE PLACID SINFONIETTA July 8-Aug. 12. This summer symphony in a beautiful lakeside setting is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. (518) 523-2512, lakeplacidsinfonietta.org.

SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER June 23-Aug. 19. A newly renovated amphitheater is a showpiece of this multidisciplinary festival, which includes a chamber music festival, the Lake George Opera (with, among other things, Kirke Mechem’s “Tartuffe”) and the Philadelphia Orchestra, wooing ticket buyers with a roster of big-name soloists. (518) 587-3330, spac.org.

New York City

AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS CONVENTION July 1-5. One man’s convention is another’s festival, especially when the convention involves concerts (some free) on the best organs in New York City, like those at from St. Ignatius Loyola and Temple Emanu-El, performed by an international elite: Stephen Tharp, Jane Parker-Smith, Jon Gillock and others. nycago.org.

LINCOLN CENTER FESTIVAL July 10-29. More world theater than classical music, Lincoln Center’s eclectic international summer festival includes the Kirov’s well-traveled “Ring,” a Chinese opera by Shen Wei called “Second Visit to the Empress,” two joint concerts by So Percussion and the electronica duo Matmos, and a staged madrigal evening called “The Full Monteverdi.” (212) 721-6500, lincolncenter.org.

MOSTLY MOZART July 31-Aug. 25. Being named composer in residence at Mostly Mozart is a little like being named resident playwright at a Shakespeare festival: It’s a lot to live up to. But Osvaldo Golijov, as the popular composer of the hour, is a fine choice, sprinkling the festival with a Latin touch and his own music. The opening week focuses on Beethoven, culminating in a four-hour marathon recreating the 1808 concert in which Beethoven programmed both the Fifth and Sixth symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto and other works. (212) 721-6500, lincolncenter.org.

NAUMBURG ORCHESTRAL CONCERTS June 26-Aug. 15. A backdrop for skateboarders for much of the year, Central Park’s Naumburg Bandshell returns to its original function for four free concerts with Chinese music, Boston Brass, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the violinist Lara St. John, and the Naumburg Orchestra with the mezzo Jennifer Rivera and the violinist Tim Fain. (718) 340-3018, naumburgconcerts.org.

RIVER TO RIVER FESTIVAL June 1-Sept. 14. Indonesian gamelan, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, the Amstel Saxophone Quartet are all part of the grab bag of free concerts and events that make up this downtown (as in, southern part of Manhattan) festival. A highlight is the 26-hour marathon at the World Financial Center Winter Garden with which Bang on a Can will celebrate its 20th anniversary. (212) 835-2789, rivertorivernyc.com.

(l) SUMMERGARDEN AT MOMA July 8-Aug. 26. The Museum of Modern Art seems to have found a workable formula for its longstanding free weekly summer concert series in the sculpture garden, dividing it equally between the New Juilliard Ensemble and Jazz at Lincoln Center. However eclectic or experimental the result, you can’t argue with the setting, although traffic noise is still a factor, even on balmy Sunday nights. (212) 708-9400, moma.org.

North Carolina

APPALACHIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL Boone, July 7-July 28. A truly eclectic festival with everything from Mark Morris to the Mystical Arts of Tibet, this one also features a couple of concerts by local orchestras and an intriguing series by the Broyhill Chamber Ensemble, a loose association of leading musicians (including Jennifer Koh) led by Gil Morgenstern, the festival’s former artistic director. (800) 841-2787, appsummer.org.


BLOSSOM FESTIVAL Cuyahoga Falls, July 3-Sept. 2. Named not for flowers but for a family of patrons, the Blossom Music Center plays host to what many have been accustomed to calling the nation’s premiere orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra. Love him or hate him, the orchestra’s young music director, Franz Welser-Möst, will lead four concerts including both the Beethoven and Bruckner Ninths. Other conductors include David Zinman and Blossom’s former music director, Jahja Ling. (800) 686-1141, clevelandorchestra.com.

CINCINNATI MAY FESTIVAL May 18-26. This major choral festival in a city with a choral tradition, led by James Conlon, piques interest this year with a grab bag of a program that includes Verdi’s “Trovatore,” Rossini’s “Stabat Mater,” Haydn’s “Seasons” and Berlioz’s “Enfance du Christ.” (513) 381-3300, mayfestival.com.

CINCINNATI OPERA June 14-July 31. Cincinnati’s program manages to grab attention across the board: the soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, whose merits have been much debated in the news of late, as Marguerite to Richard Leech’s “Faust”; a revival of St. Louis’s 2004 “Nixon in China” under the baton of Kristjan Jarvi; Lisa Daltirus, a gifted soprano who may or may not be too light a singer for “Aida”; and much-acclaimed young singers in “Così Fan Tutte.” (513) 241-2742, cincinnatiopera.org.


OREGON BACH FESTIVAL Eugene, June 29-July 15. Thinking “outside the Bachs” is this year’s theme, and anyone who can get past the pun will be rewarded with pieces like the Brahms Requiem, a staging of Honegger’s oratorio “Le Roi David,” a composers’ symposium with Martin Bresnick, and Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis,” conducted by the festival’s leader, Helmuth Rilling. (800) 457-1486, oregonbachfestival.com.


MUSIC NATURALLY Lancaster and other locations, June 17-30. The Pennsylvania Academy of Music is behind this teaching festival held in the south-central part of the state. The Miami Quartet, the Newstead Trio and others are featured. (717) 399-9733, pamusacad.org/musicnaturally.php.

South Carolina

SPOLETO FESTIVAL U.S.A. Charleston, May 25-June 10. The summer festival circuit practically kicks off in balmy Charleston, often the first stop for productions later seen at other festivals. This year Philip Glass’s “Book of Longing” arrives fresh from Toronto, before going on to Ravinia and Lincoln Center; other American premieres are Gluck’s opera “L’ile de Merlin” and Dusapin’s “Faustus, the Last Night.” Unfortunately the ubiquitous branding demon seems to have struck the festival’s orchestra, now the Ginn Resorts Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, playing under its fine and still-unbranded music director, Emmanuel Villaume. (843) 579-3100, spoletousa.org.


INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL AND INSTITUTE AT ROUND TOP June 9-July 14. New permanent seating in the hall of the 200-acre campus gives this festival reason to open with Beethoven’s “Consecration of the House.” Other orchestral concerts include performances of “Bluebeard’s Castle” and a homage to Ravel; there’s also a full complement of chamber performances by faculty members and students alike. (979) 249-3129, festivalhill.org.

MIMIR CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL Fort Worth, July 2-13. Texas Christian University holds this small but classy teaching festival with musicians from orchestras and ensembles around the country. (817) 257-5443, mimirfestival.org.


(l) (l) MOAB MUSIC FESTIVAL Aug. 30-Sept. 15. Traveling down a river to hear a concert in rugged plein air appeals to both the outdoorsman and the aesthete. Headed by Michael Barrett, who also runs Caramoor, this chamber festival is characterized by a blend of indoors and outdoors, new and old, as it offers music in a range of spectacular settings. (435) 259-7003, moabmusicfest.org.


CHAMBER MUSIC CONFERENCE AND COMPOSERS’ FORUM OF THE EAST Bennington, July 22-Aug. 19. Making music is possibly even more important than listening to it. This festival, now in its 62nd year, is geared to dedicated amateurs who come for workshops, coaching and free concerts. Some even come to write music, working with three composers in residence: Derek Bermel, Gabriela Lena Frank and Robert Dick. (201) 242-1277, cmceast.org.

MARLBORO MUSIC SCHOOL AND FESTIVAL July 14-Aug. 12. To call it a training program is misleading: Marlboro is a meeting place where rising stars and established ones (like Richard Goode and Mitsuko Uchida, the artistic directors) come together to make music. Concerts are almost a byproduct of this intense interaction, like sparks off a knife-sharpener; they are held Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, and the programs are determined on short notice. (802) 254-2394, marlboromusic.org.

YELLOW BARN MUSIC SCHOOL AND FESTIVAL Putney and Amherst, Mass., July 6-Aug. 4 (with prefestival events June 17 and 24). A combined training program and festival in the best Vermont tradition, the Yellow Barn — housed partly in Massachusetts — fields a notably strong faculty; this year’s roster includes Gilbert Kalish, the Peabody Trio and Kim Kashkashian. (800) 639-3819, yellowbarn.org.


WOLF TRAP Vienna, May 25-Sept. 23. Among the offerings in this national park for the performing arts are the National Symphony Orchestra’s summer concerts. This year Wolf Trap’s fine opera program for young artists reprises the first work it commissioned, John Musto’s “Volpone,” as well as Chabrier’s “Etoile” and Mozart’s “Magic Flute.” Denyce Graves will also appear in a concert performance of “Carmen.” (703) 255-1868, wolftrap.org.


OLYMPIC MUSIC FESTIVAL June 23-Sept. 9. A dairy farm is the site of this popular chamber festival on the Olympic Peninsula, where music is played in a barn to an audience sitting in pews and on hay bales, and visitors lounging on the lawns are asked not to bring dogs, since they scare the donkeys. Not that there’s anything rustic about programs of Brahms and Dvorak, Mendelssohn and Beethoven, and, yes, one contemporary composer, Judith Lang Zaimont. (206) 527-8839, olympicmusicfestival.org.


GRAND TETON MUSIC FESTIVAL Jackson Hole, July 11-Aug. 25. You have to like a festival that kicks off its gala opening with both Leon Fleisher (playing Mozart’s K. 414 concerto) and John Adams (“Slonimsky’s Earbox”). Donald Runnicles is starting his second season as music director, Lynn Harrell is an artist in residence, and Christine Brewer will give a recital and a concert of Wagner excerpts with orchestra. So this festival’s musical stars are on a scale commensurate with its scenery. (307) 733-1128, gtmf.org.

(f) Bravo, bravo! :) Enjoy the Summer stages, wherever travels take you.

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-16-2007, 05:13 AM
:o :o


This season, dresses are a swinging affair, with silhouettes that float far from the body and high above the knee. In tent, trapeze and baby-doll shapes, these dresses give lots of coverage on top and maximum exposure on the bottom: it’s a good year for great legs (and a fantastic year for expectant moms who may be covering an early baby bump). Wear them from cabana to gala, from day to night, but most of all, wear them.


(l) The colors remind me of a Bob Mackie - and QVC prices for something like this would be under $40 to $60!


(l) (l) Could definitely be a Mackie, and again - ten times less:


(l) http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/05/13/fashion/13pulse.8.jpg

(f) (f)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-16-2007, 05:14 AM

Images from "Poiret: King of Fashion" at the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute.


(f) (f)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-16-2007, 05:16 AM
(y) (y)

At these restaurants, it is possible to eat well in London without spending a week's salary.


(*) (*) (*) (*) (*) Most I have actually tried during my travels there. Notice that ALL of these are not English fare but that of other countries, even one not around like Persia? ;) ;)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-16-2007, 05:25 AM
:) :)

With the Season Finale next Tuesday night, it might be nice to step through the episodes ands watch those I missed......if I'm not out and about that is.



Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-16-2007, 05:31 AM
(*) (*) (*) (*) (*)


"When the cosmic game between humans and computers is complete, here's how the sequence of moves will read. In the opening, we evolved through engagement with nature. In the middle game, we projected our intelligence onto computers and co-evolved through engagement with them. In the endgame, we merged computers with our minds and bodies, bringing that projected intelligence back into ourselves. The distinction between human and artificial intelligence will turn out to have been artificial."

-- William Saletan says we should think of our cybernetic evolution not as a takeover, but a merger



Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-16-2007, 05:34 AM


(y) (y)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-16-2007, 05:35 AM




Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-16-2007, 05:37 AM
(um) ;) (um)

Watch slide-shows on the umbrella which will stop you getting lost:



(l) (um) (l)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-16-2007, 05:42 AM

Apple rolled out a trio of new MacBooks today -- nothing dramatic, just spiffier enough to remind current owners that they no longer have the latest greatest. The full specs are here, but basically you're looking at faster Intel Core 2 Duo processors, 1GB of memory and larger hard drives in each model, two white and one black, priced from $1,099 to $1,499. For those of the Mac persuasion, let the drooling commence.


(l) (l)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 07:36 AM
(y) (y) (y) (y) (y) (y) (y)

Close Your Eyes

The Graduation Speech I'll Never Give

By Tom Engelhardt www.tomdispatch.com

Graduates of the class of 2007, close your eyes.

No kidding. That's my advice in a nutshell.

Okay, take a last look around if you want, you who entered college in September 2003, when it still wasn't apparent to most Americans that our President had crash-landed on the deck of the aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, to give his famed May Day speech declaring "major combat operations in Iraq" at an end.

Look at your world just a little longer. As on that sunny September day when you arrived here almost four years ago, it's another lovely day as you prepare to depart and, at a glance, the world -- the American world anyway -- doesn't seem that much the worse for wear. Okay, the price of a barrel of oil essentially doubled in those four years, as did the price of a gallon of gas at the pump; the Democrats retook Congress; Iraq descended into the charnel house of history, into what was already being termed back then, in a bow to the Vietnam War, the "q-word" (for quagmire); newspapers began losing young readers to the Internet as if into a black hole; and the Bush administration, touted in 2003 as the "most disciplined" in anyone's memory, has fallen into belligerent disarray; but, hey, the stock market is at a high-water mark, the Boston Red Sox are leading the American League East by 8 games, lawyers are suing, doctors are medicating, and brokers are brokering away more or! less as usual.

And here you are in your serried ranks, your parents nearby, your school's president and various deans, as well as distinguished faculty, arrayed before you on this stage in impressive gowns and tasseled caps. Today is a much-awaited moment for you, the culmination of years of work, just as graduation days like this have been for those who preceded you.

The campus, this balmy afternoon, seems hardly changed from four years ago. The same gentle carpet of grass, green with spring, dotted on its distant edges with beds of tulips, surrounded the graduating class of '03 -- and probably the class of '66, the year I sat through one of these ceremonies. The dorms you slept in are behind us; the dining hall you ate so many unmemorable meals in is just over that hill, which I have no doubt you climbed grudgingly on many wind-chilled winter mornings. At least some of the classrooms you did your learning in, housed in solemn gray stone (as monuments to timeless knowledge should be), flank us. The Greek-style columns of your library with its million-plus volumes can just be glimpsed through the distant trees.

Yes, look around. All is as it should be. Everything we can see and everything we know is here -- all of it normal, all of it fit for a graduation speech. Fit for you.

In the years just after I graduated from college, the much praised (and maligned) 1960s, the young were said to believe in a single aphorism: "Never trust anyone over thirty." I must admit I never heard such a thing myself, but then, as now, the media has a way of knowing what we think better than we do. I read it, ergo it's so.

Now, I want to update the phrase for your moment which, believe me, is far worse than anything I ever imagined possible in the Sixties. On such a normally celebratory day, I wouldn't say that if I didn't urgently believe it -- and if I didn't think that, in your heart of hearts, you believed it too.

So here goes. Some graduation advice -- three pieces of it, actually -- that probably run against most of what you've been taught at this distinguished institution in these last four years:

Don't trust what you see around you.

That's right. No matter what anyone tells you, don't trust the world that's most obviously in front of you. Don't trust your own eyes. Not on a day like this, not in a country like this. Reality is elsewhere.

That's why I say, close your eyes. Go ahead. Listen to me for a while in the dark and understand that I'm not trying to blind you. I'm only suggesting that you'll be able see the world more clearly with your eyes shut tight and so graduate with a more reasonable sense of what your future job on this planet really is.

That's no easy thing to assess, if you're on this pristine campus, or in any mall in America, or, for that matter, in most parts of the city on the outskirts of which this campus stands rather than in Baghdad, or Kabul, or low-lying Bangladesh, or the melting Arctic, or some exposed Pacific atoll.

This sunny May day -- the one you are not looking at any more -- is deceptive indeed. It masks a far darker world that your generation is about to inherit on a planet two-thirds of whose inhabitants, as a group of retired admirals and generals interested in climate change recently noted, live near a coastline (that might in coming decades flood). Put another way, according to the NGO Christian Aid, one out of every seven people on the planet -- perhaps a billion in all -- might, over the next half century (essentially your post-college work lifetimes) be forced from their homes and into the kinds of desperate migrations that would make the present American debate over illegal immigration seem like a global joke.

Over the next 100 years -- the heart of your life and that of your children -- the Earth could lose its glaciers (major sources of water in places like South Asia); the Greenland ice sheet could radically melt down; and up to half this planet's wealth of species could go extinct. You could also experience the onrush -- evidently already underway -- of ever more extreme weather patterns (massive hurricanes, typhoons, monsoons, 100-year droughts, and the like), the spread of lethal diseases to new locales, and a host of other unnerving phenomena.

In other words -- and even those of you who claim to doubt the reality of global warming sense that this is so -- fifty years from now, you are likely to be living on another, poorer kind of planet. It will also be a far lonelier one. People, who have the urge to frighten, often say that we are "destroying the planet," but that is probably not accurate. The planet will undoubtedly spin on. Given a few million, or a few tens of millions, or even a few hundreds of millions of years -- the sort of time that, without our consciousness, wouldn't matter a tinker's dam -- Earth is likely to develop a future filled with life, just without us (and many of our creaturely neighbors).

The planet's future may not be in doubt, but surely ours is. New Scientist magazine has offered an estimate of 10 million years for the planet to "repair" the present "dent" made in biodiversity. I like to use the example of the pronghorn antelope, "the prairie ghost" of our West, to explain this. It's a speedy creature, capable of running at up to 60 miles per hour, at least 30 mph faster than any predator in its environment. That extra mileage might seem hard to explain unless you understand that, before the last great mammalian megafaunal die-out on this continent, some 13,000 to 16,000 years ago, there were evidently creatures (perhaps lions or dire wolves) that could power along at something close to those speeds. So, for all those thousands of years, far longer than human history from Ur to the latest disasters in Iraq, the pronghorn has had a ghostly companion. So much time in human terms and it still hasn't "registered" the loss; so much time and that niche in our environment remains empty.

Back in the ancient 1950s, a half-century-plus in the other direction, only one thing could end our world, the world I grew up in -- nuclear weapons or The Bomb (which, when that was all there was, often sported capital letters) via the Cold War superpower confrontation. The thought of a nuclear war was paralyzing and nightmare-inducing enough. Believe me, when I heard President John F. Kennedy's famous speech on October 22, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis (aka "the most dangerous moment in human history"), I feared my world was toast -- and I wasn't alone. I always believed that the Sixties held such a powerful sense of liberation, in part, because world-annihilating possibilities were, for a few brief years, simply left behind.

Over half a century later, nuclear weapons have multiplied and proliferated (even without the other superpower in attendance), and yet they now have to queue up for attention in a jostling line of potentially world-ending perils, real and fictional; while all of you live in the peculiar sunshine of a locked-down, locked-up, Patriot-Act, homeland-security, gated-community country (of a sort no one in the 1950s could have imagined). I stand here looking out at you, your eyes closed, and I doubt I can really imagine your world, the one I'm trying to describe, or the almost unnoticed, largely unacknowledged exterminatory grid that has settled paralyzingly over consciousness in this country, that has left you able perhaps to imagine a job, a mate, even a family -- the most immediate of futures, but not a human future beyond that.

An image comes to mind. You know how bits of semi-knowledge from who knows where stick in your brain? Here's one from mine that's useful for this speech, whatever its historical accuracy. Around 1000 AD, there was a millenarian movement of peasants who, believing they saw the end days coming, built their own coffins, and, at the predicted moment, climbed into them to await their foreordained fate. To tell you the truth, I don't know what happened next. Assumedly, sooner or later they climbed out again.

But here's the point I want to make: As long as you're looking at our world through your usual lenses, I suspect you're already in our version of those coffins, even if they pass for normal daily life. Only in the dark can you begin to imagine the possible Pompeii-scapes to come, the potential for the extreme unraveling of normalcy. And only after you imagine that, can you do what those peasants undoubtedly did when they realized that the last days had not come -- not yet anyway: climb out.

If all of you were to clamber out of the coffins we've built for you, there would still be trouble ahead, but the end of times would be just that much less likely to arrive.

"Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." As you English majors already know, Dante claimed this inscription was over the entrance to Hell. Today, as you form your processional, walking like every class before you through the arch that fronts this campus, I think you should imagine that inscription over your heads, because that's the futureless world you're entering with your eyes open. My definition of hell is, in fact, futurelessness, a world in which no one can imagine their grandchildren or great-grandchildren -- and so, no one can work to build a country, a planet for them.

Now, for a second piece of advice -- probably not best given at a world-renown center of learning -- but here goes.

Believe the Hollywood previews. Believe your video games. Believe "24." Believe The Day After Tomorrow.

It's true that, despite what the screen showed in the global-warming film, The Day After Tomorrow, the Northern Hemisphere is not going to turn into an ice sheet in approximately 30 seconds; wolves, freed from the local zoo, are unlikely to roam the streets of New York City any time soon or movie stars burn books for warmth in the fireplace of the frigid New York Public Library; spy Arnold Schwarzenegger or his equivalent will not, despite True Lies, kiss Jamie Lee Curtis while an atomic bomb, handled by Arab terrorists, goes off behind them in the Florida Keys; you won't save us or the planet the way you do in first-person shooter video games; and, no, torturing &#224; la "24" is neither good, nor even effective as an information extractor. Meanwhile, all these blimps, trains, buses, cable cars, and who knows what else hijacked by terrorists and heading toward everything we hold dear will not all arrive as the stadium blows up, the airport goes down, the White House is zapped, or the city, country, planet disappears.

Nonetheless, since my childhood, Hollywood, not religion, has been the greatest deliverer of end-time scenarios. This has been true at least since the atomic war-film-that-couldn't-be-made -- the one that would have ended not in American victory but in a planet-shaking set of explosions -- mutated into the horror and science fiction genres. Those films moved under the mushroom cloud in various futuristic settings where all sorts of monstrous, irradiated beings and alien creatures possessing strange rays did to our cities and towns what we had done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while crowds of onscreen Americans, screaming and fleeing, were crushed or mangled, burned or consumed.

And then, of course, we all left the movie theaters or drive-ins a little shaken, a little thrilled, and life began again. However weird or warped or fantastic these films may have been, however happy the endings when the giant ants went down for the count in the sewers of Los Angeles, or the aliens were themselves zapped, or the terrorists foiled, or the monsters destroyed, these were, in essence, Hollywood's previews of our world to come.

The movie-makers knew, but only because we knew. They wanted our eyes (and our popcorn money) and so they made a beeline for the stories, the fears, that resonated most deeply in us, the ones that could be returned to profitability over and over again. Perhaps, from the beginning, what we humans had was an ability to view possible ends. Perhaps what made us human wasn't that opposable thumb, but the fact that we arrived in the world capable of imagining its termination.

Explain it as you will, Hollywood has been sending us a single riveting message over the last half-century-plus as the mushroom clouds rose, the aliens descended, the post-apocalyptic zombies feasted, the swarthy terrorists arrived, the pandemics spread, and Los Angeles or New York (the nation's pre-9/11 Sodom and Gomorrah) became a dystopian prison, or an ice palace, or a place to be zapped, or stomped by monsters, or…

Well, you of all people know the story. You've seen it again and again, your eyes open in another kind of darkness -- or you've experienced it in your own living room, while you desperately manipulated hand-held controls to save us from the mutants, zombies, terrorists, bad guys who wanted to end it all. You've watched the previews, just as al-Qaeda did, just as people all over this planet have.

And then, as most of us have for over fifty years, you left the multiplex pretending that what you just saw was simply fun, or plain-old entertainment, or plain crud, or eye-candy, the sort of thing that only puritan wackos (or academics) could wax ridiculously serious over. Whatever it was, it wasn't life, not this life anyway.

But you were wrong, I think. To get things straight, you now have to ignore much that you've been taught and you've got to attend to the essential wisdom of the most watched, but least respected, teachers on the planet. Only they can give you the real, inside dope on what's coming our way -- if, that is, you're going to lead a life that matters, if you're going to do something.

So here's a final piece of advice, possibly not the best to offer in the heart of a great university:

Don't think too much.

I look out over this audience, remembering that, when I was 21, there seemed so much that needed to be done. How could it be that, over 40 years later, there seems to be so much more -- starting with somehow ending not (as in my college days) one, but two mad frontier wars, two scenes of slaughter and carnage, Iraq and Afghanistan, in a world where frontiers no longer exist? These are wars guaranteed to kill tens of thousands more and, in the long run, to endanger us all -- and there's only you to end them. There's only you, really, to change everything. It's a terrible burden that my generation of parents should never, never have loaded on your shoulders, but understand this clearly: It's not a coffin, not by a long shot.

We failed you. I believe that and I don't even know exactly how.

If you aren't already settled in, awaiting the end times we have bequeathed you in our short-sightedness, but you think too carefully for too long about what needs to be done, all will seem hopeless. As with so many tasks that desperately need to be undertaken, those who undertake them must be, in a sense, foolhardy just because the burden looks so heavy, the path so long and twisting, the end so out of sight. It seems so much easier to lie in those made-in-America coffins and wait.

But that, of course, is the royal route to everything none of us could possibly want for our world. No one of you can save a planet of people and, if the future already seems stolen from you and the previews are so apocalyptic, then the possibility of building movements of any sort must seem dim indeed. But don't settle back quite yet and don't ponder too long. Acting is usually better.

The moment you begin to act, I suspect you will discover that there is much you might still be able to call on for support, including many in my generation who, if you're willing to trust some over-thirties (but not too much), might have a little energy and perspective still to offer. Then, there's an American can-do (even quick-fix) tradition that has been lost in recent years, in Katrina-level idiocy and incompetence. How we turned from a can-do into a can't-do (or, as I like to think, a Republican't) nation is worthy of a history or two, if people are still writing them somewhere down the line. But the Iraq War, our oil dependency, even the potentially massive effects of global warming might all respond to a new surge of can-doism, to a nation still rich enough to put its money, its best brains, and its efforts where its mealy mouth and consumer culture (and a President whose idea of sacrifice in "time of war" is a trip to Disney World) now is.

To my mind, here's your first job: With your eyes closed, try to see our world honestly for what it is and then perform a magical act: Conjure up a new set of previews -- fit for a future for which it's worth doing a great deal. To act in concert and meaningfully, you need to able to imagine yourself, fifty years from now, standing at a podium like this, speaking to a group of graduating seniors, or perhaps simply sitting with all those parents proudly watching your own child in cap and gown in -- let's hope -- a very different world with fewer coffins in sight.

Now, with those eyes still closed, take a good look at our world, the one you already know is there, but don't think too much. It's time to pass through the portals of this school that has held you these last four years, out the gate, into the streets beyond, into the world beyond, and get yourself an education. It's time to look up and read the inscription -- by now, you can surely do so with your eyes closed -- and then reformulate it. How about, for example: Abandon paralysis all ye who exit here.

I can't tell you how to act or what to do. I wouldn't even pretend to know. For that, in the dark, you, all of you, have to look into our world and then into yourselves. I suspect that, when enough of you close your eyes and begin to believe your own previews, you'll know. At least perhaps, you'll know where you want to start and, knowing, you'll act; or perhaps, not even knowing, you'll act anyway; and, in acting, hope -- because, in bad times, it's always the act that engenders hope -- and, then, in hoping you'll know.


(y) (y) (y)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 08:12 AM
;) ;)

Oh, but how no so! :) There's PLENTY of fashion if you know where to look. ;)

This Chloé trapeze dress in silk crepe has a generous hem, which can be lengthened


(n) (n) I viewed dresses like this back in the 1960's/1970's - as looking like maternity dresses and I never wore them then. Certainly not gonna wear them now.....:| :|

May 17, 2007

Older, Better, but Harder to Dress


AT the start of any fashion writer’s career there is, waiting at the end, the dreaded article about older women and how they can never find clothes appropriate for their age. I swore on a stack of Vogues I would never write such a piece. It was totem journalism, predictable, worked at. Even the term “appropriate” has always seemed to me old hat, with violets on top.

So what changed? Juvenility has mobbed us. Even if a woman has a clear idea about what looks right on her body and for her age and personality, it’s hard to avoid the window displays of baby-doll and trapeze dresses; the T-shirt bars of ruffled cotton, airbrushed cotton and shrunken cotton; the girlish necklaces and charms; and all the companion editorial in magazines, with the frosted pinks and the long, long hair with little curls.

“The choice is to wear something juvenile or be a total killjoy,” Linda Wells, the editor of Allure, said with a laugh. “You can’t live in your Linda Evans suit.”

There are other choices, as Ms. Wells knows, and interviews with women ages 43 to 72, in places such as California and the Chicago suburbs and Paris, turned up a variety of solutions, as well as explanations for this simmering quarrel with fashion. If I heard an issue vocalized more often in the last year than the age-appropriate thing, I can’t think what it was.

(l) (l) It’s funny: Women in their 40s and 50s, even in their 60s and 70s, have probably never looked better, healthier or younger than at any time in recent history. They have access to gyms and spas, and of course they’ll try anything that will eliminate a wrinkle or a frown line. They are the anti-agers. And not only do they have a tremendous array of fashion choices, from chic Paris labels to anonymous vintage pieces to D.I.Y. looks, they also have the choice to not play the game at all.

Nora Ephron, whose very funny book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” refers to something called “compensatory dressing”— here, anything that compensates for a sagging neck — sounded puzzled when I told her that a lot of women complain that clothes make them look ridiculously young.

“If you understand that that part of your life is over, there is plenty to wear,” said Ms. Ephron, who prefers trousers to skirts (“Just the thought of wearing pantyhose ...”), and finds things she likes at Savannah in Santa Monica, Calif., and Ultimo in Chicago. She admits that age-appropriateness in style can be very confusing, since “the new 50” can be 40 or, suddenly, with the wrong hairdo or outfit, 60, and it irks her when a designer discards a perfectly good look.

“I love those techno pants from Prada,” she said. “I love that they don’t wrinkle and you can wear them seven days in a row on a trip. But they’re all cut low now.”

She added, “You feel there has been an act of genuine hostility toward you by the designer” when they stop making something you’re able to wear. It’s like they don’t want you to have it, she said.

Susan Stone, who owns Savannah — where the customers are mostly over 40 — says the issue of age-appropriateness coincided with the demise of the pantsuit.

“A woman of any age could wear a pantsuit,” Ms. Stone said. “Now it’s all about the dress — the baby-doll, the tent, the mini.” She paused. “I don’t care how great you look, at a certain age you do not wear a mini. You look ridiculous.”

Ms. Stone says that some of her best client-friendly labels are Marni, Tuleh and Lanvin. “I can find fabulous jackets at Marni,” she said, adding, “and I sell the collection to women of all ages.”

She thinks Alber Elbaz, the designer at Lanvin, cuts a great sleeveless dress (“he always hides the ugly part under the arm”) and she says that whenever she goes into a designer showroom, “a dress with sleeves screams at me.”

Douglas Chen, a buyer at Linda Dresner, which has stores in New York and Birmingham, Mich., said that one of their bestsellers for spring was a $1,790 Chloé dress in purple silk crepe with narrow sleeves that fell to just above the elbow. And it helped that the dress came with an extra five inches of hem, so it could be lengthened. “We sold almost every dress to someone over 40,” Mr. Chen said.

Barbara Toll, who owns an art gallery in Manhattan, bought one of the Chloé dresses. “I think it’s the first dress I’ve bought in 10 years,” said Ms. Toll, an early devotee of Jil Sander and Helmut Lang. She laughed. “It was strange to see my legs coming out of the bottom.”

For a lot of New Yorkers like Ms. Toll, who want to look hip but not trendy, chic but not Uptown, it has been something of challenge to find a style as age-neutralizing as the minimalism of the early ’90s.

“It was the uniform for everyone,” she said, referring to Sander and Lang. She added, with a rueful laugh, “I don’t know if I got less interested in fashion or fashion got less interested in me.”

But Ms. Toll also observed, “I feel I look better and younger if things are following my body.”

This is an indisputable truth about fashion and aging. “Once you get to a certain age, it’s all about fit,” said Isabel Toledo, who designs for Anne Klein as well as her own label.

Indeed, if women in their 40s and 50s feel inexplicably alien in a garment, Ms. Toledo said, it may be because there is simply a dearth of high-quality tailoring in the fashion industry. That is one reason you see a lot of trims on clothes — to compensate for poor fit.

“We’re not making fitted, well-cut garments that hang just on the body,” said Ms. Toledo, who in some of her own dresses will offer several different waistlines so a customer can get the one that fits her best.

A lot of women with young families and careers can’t be bothered with shopping — a larger problem for the industry, especially old-line department stores. As Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, a writer in Paris, put it: “The idea of lunch with a girlfriend and then going shopping — I prefer to stick my hand in fire.”

After growing up in England, Ms. Fraser-Cavassoni sees a difference among the French and the Italians. “They don’t look at labels like the Anglo-Saxons do,” she said.

Label-mad or not, many American women can’t find the clothes they want, and have the means to buy. Audrey Smaltz, a fashion show producer in New York, is on her way to Las Vegas in two weeks to celebrate her 70th birthday with a dinner dance at the Bellagio hotel.

“I want to look sexy and they don’t sell sexy for a size 18,” said Ms. Smaltz, who asked Cassandra Broomfield, a custom dressmaker, to make her a short white dress for the party. Ms. Smaltz finds blouses and sexy tops in her size by Lafayette 148.

Recently, Courtney Hanig, an interior designer and a mother of two teenage girls in Winnetka, Ill., was shopping for outfits to wear to several coming events.

“I was willing to spend the dough, but I couldn’t find anything,” said Ms. Hanig, who has gotten mileage out of a fitted Carmen Marc Valvo jacket and her work attire of black pants and a white shirt, but admits with a laugh, “I’m, like, sick of myself, forget other people.”

She added: “I don’t want to look matronly. I think there’s this great divide between matronly and up-to-date mom.”

There are some very easy things you can do to avoid the age bind. Find a salesperson who knows your body type and will put aside clothes for you before they’re scooped by other customers. Cropped jackets by Dries van Noten are a good way to perk up a summer dress, especially if you want a little arm camouflage.

“A great tailor is a better than a surgeon,” said Ms. Wells, who suggests a little padding in a jacket’s shoulders to give you a lift. Nothing is more aging than makeup and hair. So avoid heavy concealer and dark lipstick and nails.

“Hair looks better when it’s slightly lighter than it was in your 20s and 30s,” Ms. Wells said. “And you don’t want it to look stiff — that’s just as aging on Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as it is on a 60-year-old woman.”



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 08:19 AM


Juvenility has mobbed us. Even if a woman has a clear idea about what looks right on her body and for her age, it’s hard to avoid the window displays of baby-doll and trapeze dresses.


I have one similar, a wee-bit shorter that I wear with slim, slinky pants - made by Bob Mackie.

(l) http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/05/17/fashion/older.slide.2222.jpg

^o) ^o) Unless I get myself that faux tan (Bare Escentuals) on my legs? Forget about those so-called trendy crop pants. I stick with slacks, slinky pants and crepe palazzo pants that I can wear with heels. When I wear dresses? Oh, but I wear lace-topped suntan stockings underneath - and yes, I do wear underwear.....at least I have been. If I ever get a reason not to......I might just be naughty. ;)

(o) ...(c) ......time to get going soon. (f) Have a delightful Thursday and rest of your week!

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 08:28 AM


Synthetic: The truffle oil used in many restaurants does not get its flavor from truffles. It is a mix of olive oil and chemical compounds.


May 16, 2007

De Gustibus

Hocus-Pocus, and a Beaker of Truffles


A TRUFFLE by any other name may smell as sweet, but what if that name is 2,4-dithiapentane? All across the country, in restaurants great and small, the “truffle” flavor advertised on menus is increasingly being supplied by truffle oil. What those menus don’t say is that, unlike real truffles, the aroma of truffle oil is not born in the earth. Most commercial truffle oils are concocted by mixing olive oil with one or more compounds like 2,4-dithiapentane (the most prominent of the hundreds of aromatic molecules that make the flavor of white truffles so exciting) that have been created in a laboratory; their one-dimensional flavor is also changing common understanding of how a truffle should taste.

When I discovered truffle oil as a chef in the late 1990’s, I was thrilled. So much flavor, so little expense. I suppose I could have given some thought to how an ingredient that cost $60 an ounce or more could be captured so expressively in an oil that sold for a dollar an ounce. I might have wondered why the price of the oils didn’t fluctuate along with the price of real truffles; why the oils of white and black truffles cost the same, when white truffles themselves were more than twice as expensive as black; or why the quality of oils didn’t vary from year to year like the natural ingredients. But I didn’t. Instead I happily used truffle oil for several years (even, embarrassingly, recommending it in a cookbook), until finally a friend cornered me at a farmers’ market to explain what I had should have known all along. I glumly pulled all my truffle oil from the restaurant shelves and traded it to a restaurant down the street for some local olive oil.

That truffle oil is chemically enhanced is not news. It has been common knowledge among most chefs for some time, and in 2003 Jeffrey Steingarten wrote an article in Vogue about the artificiality of the oils that by all rights should have shorn the industry of its “natural” fig leaf. Instead, the use of truffle oil continued apace. The question is, Why are so many chefs at all price points — who wouldn’t dream of using vanillin instead of vanilla bean and who source their organic baby vegetables and humanely raised meats with exquisite care — using a synthetic flavoring agent?

Part of the answer is that, even now, you will find chefs who are surprised to hear that truffle oil does not actually come from real truffles. “I thought that it was made from dried bits and pieces of truffles steeped in olive oil,” said Vincent Nargi of Cafe Cluny in Manhattan, which made me put down my pen and scratch my head. The flavor of real truffles, especially black, is evanescent, difficult to capture in an oil under the best of circumstances.

But, much as I did for years, chefs want to believe. Stories of sightings of natural truffle oil abound, like a gourmand’s answer to the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. One chef told me in an excited, slightly conspiratorial tone that Jing Tio of Le Sanctuaire in Santa Monica, Calif., who sells high-quality specialty ingredients to chefs, mixed his own oil to order.

This seemed unlikely. When I asked Mr. Tio, he gave me a funny look. “Natural?” he said, rolling his eyes. “Nooo ...”

Truffle companies are secretive, and speaking to their representatives does little to illuminate their production techniques. I was told by Federico Balestra at Sabatino Tartufi that its oil is now “100 percent organic,” made from dried truffles and other ingredients with flavors “similar to truffle.” Vittorio Giordano of Urbani Tartufi called its manufacturing method, though conducted in a laboratory, a “natural process.” He described the essence that his company uses as “something from the truffle that is not the truffle.”

Whereas once truffles were hallmarks of local cooking — black in France and white in Italy — the globalization of cuisine has led to worldwide demand for an ingredient whose output continues to decline. As with some highly collectible wines, the virulent combination of high value and scarcity have created an environment ripe for fraudulent behavior. French agencies conduct chemical analyses of black truffles to ensure that they are not inferior Chinese or Spanish truffles soaked in truffle oil or juice. White truffles from other areas of Italy have been known to show up at the Alba market, summer truffles passed off as winter. But when it comes to the oil, chefs are helping to perpetuate the fraud. Why?

Call it the LVMH-ization of cooking. Truffles have become a luxury brand, one that connotes a way of life as much as a style of cooking. “Chefs use truffle oil because it’s easy to add a gloss of glamour with it — and because it helps sell dishes,” S. Irene Virbila, chief restaurant critic of The Los Angeles Times, said in an e-mail message.

Although the scent of a truffle just dug can be one of the most profound gustatory experiences of the Western world, it’s one that not many people in this country have had on truffles’ native soil. Once there were only a few expensive and exclusive restaurants that recreated that experience, which only select customers could afford. Truffle oil has simultaneously democratized and cheapened the truffle experience, creating a knockoff that goes by the same name.

The competitiveness of the restaurant scene has a lot to do with this trend. What most people know of truffles is truffle “aroma,” which has helped shape their expectations of what they’re paying for — and how much they should have to pay to get it. “Price is definitely a factor,” said Shea Gallante of Cru in Manhattan, who uses black truffle oil to reinforce the flavor of real black truffles in a midwinter pasta dish. “If I didn’t use the two drops of oil I would have to add another 8 to 10 grams of truffle,” he said, making the dish too expensive for his clientele. Many chefs agree that the quality of truffles in this country has fallen in recent years, added to the fact that every minute a truffle spends out of the ground enervates its flavor. The increased scrutiny of imported goods hasn’t helped; prolonged stays in customs might be keeping the country safe from exploding fungi, but it’s not doing much for the truffle’s aromatic intensity.

And Americans, as many were quick to note, like big flavors. “People expect the slap in the face of truffle oil,” said Jonathan Gold, the restaurant critic for LA Weekly. “They have lost their taste for subtlety; they want bigger than life flavors that are amped up with aromatics. That’s American cooking at the moment.” Many chefs are turning to truffle oil as a way to get truffle aromas that, as many chefs put it, “jump off the plate,” often dressing real truffles in the oil before sending them to the table to heighten their effect. It raises the question, What will happen when there is a synthetic heirloom tomato scent or an imitation ripe peach flavor? Are we moving toward an era of fake food?

Probably not. Truffle oil seems unique in this regard. Most chefs I spoke with said they were undisturbed by its artificiality, although they are quite concerned with its “proper” usage, which chiefly comes down to restraint: less, in this case, is more. This is curious, considering that the same chefs will say in the next breath that the best way to use real truffles is in profusion. Some call truffle oil “authentic” only when used in conjunction with real truffles, while others maintain that they like it for what it is, something altogether different.

“I used to use white truffle oil a lot, but now I only use a little bit in my liquid black truffle ravioli,” Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago told me. “It adds a little more perfume, a slightly different flavor. I cut my teeth cooking at the French Laundry, and when we were using truffles there was always a bottle close by. But after I was on my own for a while I started to ask myself why I was using it, and I didn’t have a good answer. It doesn’t even taste like truffle.”

Chris L’Hommedieu, chef de cuisine at Michael Mina in San Francisco, used truffle oils during his tenure as chef de cuisine at Per Se in New York, although he said he never developed a taste for them. But when asked how much of his aversion to truffle oil was due to its artificiality, he told me: “One hundred percent. I learned that from Jean-Louis.”

Mr. L’Hommedieu’s recollection involved the late chef Jean-Louis Palladin, with whom he worked at Palladin, a Manhattan restaurant that is now closed. Returning from a trip out of town, Mr. Palladin was enraged to walk into the kitchen and find that in his absence bottles of truffle oil had cropped up everywhere. Grabbing two of them, he called the staff out to the alley behind the restaurant where the garbage was held. He hurled the oil at the side of the building, smashing the glass bottles against the wall. “It’s full of chemicals,” he screamed at his confused and frightened staff members, who scrambled back to the kitchen through the gathering scent of truffle oil mingled with the fetid air of the alley. “No more!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Daniel Patterson is the chef and owner of Coi, a restaurant in San Francisco. With this column, De Gustibus returns to The New York Times as an occasional forum for various writers to employ opinion, argument or provocation in reflections on food or drink.

(y) (y) (y) Bravo! I could not have said it better myself either. (y) (y) Give me real truffles or give me death! ;) Not really, but seriously folks. There's got to be a line that is not ever, ever, crossed when it comes to our food. Purists unite!


Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer

05-17-2007, 08:37 AM
(f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f)

Sascha Radetsky and Stella Abrera, backed by the pianist Lang Lang, performed “Lady’s Choice,” a Chopin waltz pas de deux, at the Metropolitan Opera House on Monday night.


:) That stunning deep purple costume helped, IMHO. (l)

May 16, 2007

Dance Review | 'American Ballet Theater'

Gliding Through the Classics With a Sample of What’s Ahead


I come from centuries-old agricultural stock. Why do I mention this when starting to review the Monday night gala that opened American Ballet Theater’s spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House? I once groaned, “I’ve got to go to a gala,” to my brother, who had then been specializing in pigs for 15 years. He replied, “You said that in just the same tone as I use when I say, ‘I’ve got to clear the pig slurry.’ ”

Those who put together the Monday gala certainly knew three invaluable rules. 1. No matter how many ballerinas, only one set of 32 fouetté turns. 2. Only one death scene. 3. No “Dying Swan.” But for a gala, you want a feeling of Champagne on the stage, and that’s hard to sustain in an evening quilted together out of 5- or 10-minute “highlight” excerpts.

The best galas have a once-only atmosphere. Monday’s sole one-off came in “Lady’s Choice,” a Chopin waltz pas de deux choreographed by Brian Reeder and danced by Stella Abrera and Sascha Radetsky It was handsome phrase by phrase in its rich supply of ways of filling the music’s 3/4 time but soon trite in its meandering assortment of ballet he-loves-her situations. The pianist, Lang Lang, then remained onstage to dispel whatever tender atmosphere the Chopin had established by playing an account of Liszt’s best-known Hungarian Rhapsody with a vulgarity to engender long-term Lisztophobia.

This gala otherwise served as a preview of coming attractions: a sampler of the stars and ballets that will keep American Ballet Theater busy at the Met from now till July 7. Unfortunately, though the company’s “Sleeping Beauty” (June 1 to 9) is announced as the season’s chief new production, the four dances shown here were unpromising in more ways than one.

Let’s start with matters of historical accuracy. The program announces that these four dances have choreography in the manner of Marius Petipa (who made the 1890 original) with “additional choreography and staging by Kevin McKenzie, Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov.” But the Prologue solo for the Lilac Fairy was given in a slightly modified account of the version choreographed, early in the 20th century, by Fyodor Lopukhov, and the Vision Scene solo for Princess Aurora (not even using the same music Petipa employed) uses Soviet choreography by Konstantin Sergeyev.

This would matter little were these dances delivered with revealing style. But Michele Wiles danced the Lilac Fairy’s variation as far after the music as she could get away with: almost, but not actually, interesting. As the Aurora of the celebrated Act I Rose Adagio, Veronika Part lagged behind the music the same way, fell off point in the first exposed passage and thereafter never revealed any of the choreography’s potential.

In the Act II solo Diana Vishneva showed her exquisite schooling at a tempo so funereal that it would have put the watching Prince to sleep too. In the Act III grand pas de deux Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky showed more rhythmic acuity but with otherwise more bland delivery. The more you listen to “Sleeping Beauty,” the more you hear how Tchaikovsky was developing a rhythmic subtlety for which 19th-century ballet music had no precedent; but how many dancers today bring that kind of response to it?

Things picked up after intermission. Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes in the balcony scene from Kenneth MacMillan’s “Romeo and Juliet” retold the familiar episode with exceptional freshness. Both dancers filled their steps with innocent youthfulness, and Mr. Cornejo’s love-blown virtuosity was a marvel.

Julie Kent, eloquently partnered by Jose Manuel Carreño, lighted up the bedroom pas de deux of Mr. MacMillan’s “Manon” with a heart-catching alternation of capriciousness and surrender.

Alessandra Ferri brought true luster to Lar Lubovitch’s “Othello” scene, but her willing-victim role didn’t return the favor. This choreography pursued a hammy old dance-expressionist rule: “Never express an emotion to the left that you don’t also express to the right, preferably several times either way.” There was much labored intensity from Marcelo Gomes in the title role.

Dancing the “Black Swan” pas de deux’s adagio and coda with Angel Corella, Nina Ananiashvili showed true ballerina decisiveness in her timing and phrasing, including an eloquent imitation of the “White Swan.”

The evening began and ended with dances from Natalia Makarova’s 1980 production of “La Bayadère.” How splendid this staging’s painted scenery still looks on the Met stage; I had forgotten. Despite a few wobbles, the corps de ballet proved poetic in the famous Shades dance of Act II. And though none of the Act I dances are juicy enough to make a satisfactory ending to a gala, Paloma Herrera (despite her Ruby Keeler face), Gillian Murphy, David Hallberg and Ethan Stiefel each brought stylishness and skill to them.

They made me feel, as Bottom says to the fairies in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “I shall desire you of more acquaintance.” Once the “Othello” excerpt was through, any comparison to pig slurry was banished from my mind.

American Ballet Theater performs through July 7 at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center; (212) 362-6000, www.abt.org

(f) (f)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 08:45 AM
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Even a poster gets a lighting treatment as workers prepare for the opening of the 60th Cannes Film Festival.


May 16, 2007

Cannes Journal

At a Film Festival, France Is Again Center of the World


CANNES, France, May 15 — Standing in the lobby of the Hôtel Splendid, just a few blocks from the center of the Cannes Film Festival, Pierre Rissient, a kind of cinematic ambassador without portfolio and something of a local institution, paused to critique the festival’s official souvenir bag.

Every year, the festival gives moviegoers a “gimme” bag to facilitate the schlepping of its sundry guides, catalogs and promotional materials. This year’s version is colorfully printed with dozens of names of past winners of the Palme d’Or, including luminaries of world cinema like Roman Polanski, Akira Kurosawa and Michelangelo Antonioni. But Cannes is traditionally a place of controversy as well as adulation. Mr. Antonioni was booed when he presented “L’Avventura” in 1960, and a gaudy piece of swag can provoke argumentative passion as surely as a jury’s vote or an auteur’s vision. “Roland Joffe should not be here!” Mr. Rissient said, with indignation. Welcome to Cannes.

The festival is marking its 60th incarnation with a burst of nostalgic self-congratulation, evident not only in that bag but also in the equally ubiquitous publicity poster, which shows a collection of stars and cinéastes leaping exuberantly in the air and is described in the official program as “an ecstasy of the pleasure of acting and creation!” In between cold showers and new contenders for the Palme, audiences can sample ecstasies like John Farrow’s 1953 western “Hondo,” starring John Wayne; three Shakespeare adaptations directed by and starring Laurence Olivier; and a collection of documentaries on filmmaking whose subjects include Marlon Brando, Lindsay Anderson and Mr. Rissient himself.

Quite a few of the names decorating that bag are back, including Joel and Ethan Coen, here with “No Country for Old Men,” their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s austere, ultraviolent novel. Theirs is one of six American films in the 22-title competition. Other American directors include James Gray, Julian Schnabel, Gus Van Sant, David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino, here with “Death Proof,” his half of the box-office disappointment “Grindhouse,” a k a “Boulevard de la Mort.” Mr. Tarantino, Mr. Van Sant and the Coens are all past Palme winners; other American laureates returning this year include Michael Moore, whose new documentary, “Sicko,” is playing out of competition, and Steven Soderbergh, here to provide an injection of Hollywood red-carpet glamour with his latest, “Ocean’s Thirteen.”

The festival officially opens Wednesday with the world premiere of “My Blueberry Nights” by Wong Kar-wai, the director’s fifth appearance. In the past, Mr. Wong has provoked intense anxiety in Cannes with what appeared to be habitual tardiness. In 2004, his “2046” did not materialize in time for its first scheduled screening and, as soon as the festival was over, went back to Hong Kong to be completed. Word on the Croisette is that “My Blueberry Nights,” Mr. Wong’s first English-language film, which stars Norah Jones and Jude Law, has arrived safely.

English may be a dominant language at Cannes — it has been the language of five of the last seven winners of the Palme d’Or — but that may be less a sign of Hollywood imperialism than an aspect of the festival’s cosmopolitan flavor. The resurgence of ambitious filmmaking in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is also very much in evidence, with two competition films from Russia and one each from Romania, Serbia and Hungary.

The official recognition here of Asian cinema continues apace, evidenced by Mr. Wong and by new films from the Korean directors Kim Ki-duk and Lee Chang-dong, both in competition. Four out of 20 films in a parallel program called Un Certain Regard are from Asia, including that program’s opening-night film, from the revered Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien: “The Flight of the Red Balloon,” with Juliette Binoche, a tribute to the classic children’s short “The Red Balloon.” Action enthusiasts are already looking forward to “Triangle,” a collaboration of three Hong Kong legends: Tsui Hark, Johnnie To and Ringo Lam.

Its international scope is part of what makes Cannes so unmistakably French. No matter how wide-ranging their selections, American festivals — New York, Chicago, San Francisco, even Sundance — remain parochial events, but Cannes is bigger than the city that bears its name. It is a French affair, a source of national pride and a reminder of this country’s cherished, and perhaps vestigial, status as a capital of world culture. The covers of the glossy magazines cluttering newsstands are divided between Nicolas Sarkozy, the newly elected president, and Cannes, and it is not always clear which — affairs of state or affairs of cinema — are more important.

For the next 11 days, in any case, Cannes will be the undisputed center of the movie universe, a place of hyperbolic debate, unexpected delight and also a certain measure of disappointment. Established reputations will be dented or burnished, and new ones will be minted. A great deal of fruitless speculation will be devoted to trying to read the minds of the jurors. Headed by the British director Stephen Frears (“The Queen”), the panel is made up of the usual assortment of filmmakers (Marco Bellocchio and Abderrahmane Sissako among them), actresses (including Maggie Cheung, Sarah Polley and Toni Collette),and also, for good measure, a Nobel Laureate in literature, the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk. Somewhere, no doubt, there is a bag with his name on it.


Cannes Festival is abuzz about Norah Jones' first film:


Cannes Film Festival opens, turns 60:


;) http://www.festival-cannes.fr/index.php/choose_lang


:o "A Festival Virgin's Guide":



Previous Festivals and Winners:


(l) (~) (l) (~) (l) (~) (l)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 11:40 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f) (l)

When she vanished—70 years ago this July—she was as big a star as Greta Garbo. Is that why some are still driven to solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart?

(l) (l) http://www.airspacemag.com/issues/2007/june-july/images/amelia_main.jpg

History of Flight

An American Obsession

By Paul Hoversten Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine

Her last inflight radio transmission was little help to a Coast Guard ship waiting below to guide her to her destination: a speck in the Pacific. “We are on the line of position 157-337…. We are running north and south,” Amelia Earhart radioed from her Lockheed Electra 10E as she and navigator Fred Noonan searched desperately for tiny Howland Island on the morning of July 2, 1937. Earhart’s cryptic message came on the next-to-last leg of her attempted around-the-world flight. It continues to vex searchers—and their sponsors—who still search to solve what some consider aviation’s greatest mystery.

Did she crash and sink somewhere near Howland after running out of gas on the 20-hour, 2,550-mile flight from Lae, New Guinea? Did she have enough fuel to set down on some other island along the position line? Or did she wind up somewhere else altogether? One fanciful theory has her being captured by the Japanese in the Marshall Islands and later executed as an American spy; another has her living out her days under an assumed name as a housewife in New Jersey.

Seventy years after Earhart’s disappearance, the larger question may be this: Why continue to search for her?

“Because it’s one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century,” says Dorothy Cochrane, curator of general aviation at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. “She was the best-known American woman pilot in the world and she just disappeared off the face of the Earth. People were tracking her flight with great interest at the time and there was a huge search for her. All these little ideas and theories that have come out since—it’s all fueled because her flight was a big deal at the time.”

The 1920s and ’30s were marked by an aeronautical record-setting frenzy. While Earhart was making headlines with her solo flights (thanks in part to promoter-husband George Putnam, the New York publisher), other aviators like high-altitude pioneer Wiley Post, industrialist Howard Hughes, speed champion Roscoe Turner, and speed-hungry Jackie Cochran were grabbing some glory of their own. But only Earhart—the reserved tomboy from Kansas who disappeared three weeks shy of her 40th birthday—still grips the public imagination.

Cochrane subscribes to the crashed-and-sank theory and she doubts the Electra will ever be found. “People want a final ending, but I don’t think we’re going to get it,” she says. “It will always be one of those mysteries. If you find it, it’s all over. I think it’s fun to speculate.”

Ric Gillespie, a former aviation accident insurance investigator and head of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery in Wilmington, Delaware, has raised and spent more than $2 million over 18 years looking for Earhart. He’s led seven expeditions to remote Gardner Island (now called Nikumaroro), south of Howland, where he believes Earhart landed on the reef-flat. His team has found, among other things, what appear to be pieces of aircraft, but nothing that definitively matches the Electra. Gillespie, who has raised several hundred thousand dollars for an eighth trip to the island in July, calls the hunt for Earhart “an American obsession.”

“I don’t know any other way to explain something that’s been the subject of at least 50 books, countless magazine and newspaper articles, and TV documentaries,” he says. “It’s one of those things that people can’t let go of. I’ve heard journalists call it the last great American mystery.”

The flight itself was “not historically significant,” says Gillespie, noting that it was possible in 1937 to fly commercially around the world and that newspaper reporters already had done so. Earhart’s goal was not to be the first woman to fly around the world, but to be the first person to circumnavigate Earth near the equator, thereby besting in distance Wiley Post’s around-the-northern-hemisphere flights. But Earhart’s fame—and her husband’s penchant for promotion—made everything she did newsworthy.

Central to Gillespie’s hypothesis are reports of distress calls from the Phoenix Islands made on Earhart’s radio frequency for days after she vanished. (Gardner is part of the Phoenix chain.) The Electra could have broadcast only if it were on land, not in the water. The Coast Guard and later the Navy, believing the distress calls were real, adjusted their searches, and newspapers at the time reported Earhart and Noonan were marooned on an island. “It all comes down to the credibility of the post-crash calls,” Gillespie says. “Either Earhart was on land in the Phoenix Islands or there was a hoaxer in the Phoenix Islands with her radio.”

Equally adamant that the calls were bogus and that Earhart and Noonan ditched in the water is David Jourdan, a former Navy submariner and ocean engineer in Cape Porpoise, Maine, who specializes in deep-sea recoveries. His company, Nauticos, has raised and spent $4.5 million on two deep-sea sonar searches around Howland in 2002 and 2006. Armed with the materials of Earhart researcher Elgen Long, which he had purchased in the late 1990s, Jourdan so far has searched about 1,200 square miles north and west of Howland. From his research, Long postulates that Earhart’s airplane ran out of gas within 52 miles of the island and is sitting somewhere in a 6,000-square-mile area at a depth of 17,000 feet.

“The analysis of all the data we have—the fuel analysis, the radio calls, other things—tells me she went into the water off Howland,” says Jourdan, who sold his company’s deep-water equipment to Houston-based Oceaneering International in 2002 while retaining the rights to the Nauticos name. To Jourdan, “it makes perfect sense” that Earhart would continue flying on her line of position in search of Howland—as she had radioed—until the Electra simply ran out of gas and splashed into the sea. (The “line of position” is a line plotted at a right angle to the direction toward a celestial body, based on its observed elevation above the horizon at a precise time. On the morning of July 2, 1937, the course derived from an observation of the rising sun yielded a line of position of 157–337. The numbers 157 and 337 refer to points on a compass: 157 degrees southeast and 337 northwest; a line drawn through those points would intersect Howland.)

As for the airplane, “it would still be shiny,” Jourdan says. “At that depth, you wouldn’t even expect to find a layer of [silt].”

That’s unsettling for some Earhart researchers. “The notion of seeing images of Amelia’s leather jacket 18,000 feet down [disturbs] me,” says Tom Crouch, senior curator of aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum. Based on the condition of artifacts found aboard the Titanic, which came to rest in the north Atlantic at 13,000 feet, Crouch thinks that not only Earhart’s jacket would have survived, but her shoes and probably her teeth as well.

“I want to know where she is, but there’s something uncomfortable about finding out,” Crouch says. “I’m convinced that the mystery is part of what keeps us interested. In part, we remember her because she’s our favorite missing person.”
Whoever finds Earhart’s airplane stands to make a great deal of money. “From a business standpoint, we’ve always felt it was a great opportunity,” Jourdan says. “There’s a fantastic exhibition you could put together if we have that plane in our hands. A clever businessperson could certainly make something of this. I’m not a treasure hunter, but I’d like to do this and make some income so I could offset the cost [of looking for Earhart] and fund other expeditions.”

He agrees the search for Earhart may be something of an obsession. “There’s some truth to that. It does grab you, but I try to keep it from being an obsession. Ric and I disagree profoundly on the basics, but he’s a good guy and we get along. I encourage any of those people looking anywhere, if there’s any chance you’re right, let me know so I can stop wasting my time and go on and do other things.”


(l) (l) I was once a member of the lady pilots' organization that Amelia started - the 99'ers.
Ah, the wind blowing my hair not held down by my leather helmet and goggles in an open cockpit bi-plane.......now THAT's flying. (l) (l)

Mine looked like this:


;) Notice that the Stearman is flown from the back seat of this two-seater bi-plane.

http://www.stearmanworldflight.com/dyn/dyn1.html (l) (l)


Boeing Stearman N2S(PT-17):


(*) Note that this was a World War II Training Plane. Cool, eh?

Look from the side: http://www.rumblestrip.org/site-img/stearman01.jpg


Note the *radial* engine:


http://www.flightgraphics.com/assets/images/Stearman.jpg (l)


Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 11:56 AM
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(l) http://www.astronomy.com/ASY/CS/forums/322046/PostAttachment.aspx




LOTS of links and other info: http://www.lib.purdue.edu/spcol/aearhart/othersites.html

1935: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/assets/aa/earhart/aa_earhart_subj_e.jpg

(f) http://www.americaslibrary.gov/assets/aa/earhart/aa_earhart_last_1_e.jpg

"Lady Lindy":







(y) http://www3.mpls.k12.mn.us/marcy/Difference/earhart/amelia_earhart_05.jpg

President Hoover and Amelia Earhart:



(l) http://www.aviation-history.com/airmen/ag-g1-2a.jpg

Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega:



Oh, to have had the opportunity to meet this incredible lady!


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 12:04 PM


Flight Lines

Why contrails hang around.

By Mariana Gosnell Air and Space Magazine

In John Ford’s last western, Cheyenne Autumn, long threads of white cross the sky over army tents in Monument Valley, along the Utah-Arizona border. In the 1993 film Gettysburg, a brilliant white sliver hovers in the clear sky above the head of a Union officer. In Zulu, a dramatized account of the 1879 assault by thousands of Zulu tribesmen on a small British garrison in Natal, South Africa, whitish bands sometimes hang in the sky beyond the hills.

Nitpickers who enjoy finding movie bloopers point out that these man-made cirrus clouds are condensation trails, or contrails, which didn’t exist before the 20th century. They are created by airplanes flying at high altitudes, where the air is below –38 degrees Fahrenheit. Exhaust from airplane engines contains water vapor as well as other gases and particles of soot and metal. When the exhaust is expelled into and mixes with the cold air, the water vapor condenses into droplets, which instantly freeze into tiny ice crystals. What you see from the ground is a dense white stream of ice crystals behind an airplane.

Sometimes an airplane leaves no contrail at all, or an extremely short one—an indication that the air at cruise altitude is probably dry. There must be enough water molecules in the air to condense and freeze—in other words, the relative humidity must be 100 percent or greater. In dry air, any ice crystals that form would immediately evaporate.

Even if the air is moist enough, it might not be cold enough. At typical contrail-friendly altitudes, between about 28,000 and 40,000 feet, temperatures run from about –36 to –76 degrees. If the airplane leaves a long trail, you can assume that the air is not only cold but humid, allowing the ice crystals to persist. If the contrail stops, then starts up again, creating a broken line, chances are the airplane flew through a dry patch.

Immediately behind the airplane, between the tail and the head of the contrail, is a 100-foot stretch of clear air, representing the short time it took for ice to form from the mixture of hot exhaust and cold ambient air. You might see four white lines at first, or two, since each engine produces its own contrail, but before long they merge into one line. The line is likely to have what Patrick Minnis, senior research scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia and an expert on contrails, calls “structure”—striations or “puff balls”—produced by the spinning of the exhaust. “If the puff balls are close together,” Minnis says, “you might not notice them, but they’re almost always there.”
A lot of other things can happen to a contrail once it’s formed. Winds can move it along, widen it, fray its edges. If contrails grow large enough, crystals will fall into a drier layer below, where they evaporate, or fall into a saturated layer, where they may split and trigger the formation of more crystals. If there is wind shear, the crystals in the lower layers move at a different speed than their cousins above. “Typically, this will end with a contrail spreading horizontally and vertically,” Minnis says. “There have even been reports of crystals making it all the way to the ground.”

It’s not only jets that make contrails; piston aircraft do too. So do rockets. So, apparently, do birds. “I have heard of wild geese leaving vapor trails high over the Canadian Rockies,” Guy Murchie wrote in his book Song of the Sky. A goose exhaling warm, moist air into –38-degree air could produce a contrail, Minnis allows, although “it would certainly be a small one.”

The first recorded sighting of a contrail likely occurred in southern Tirol in the Italian Alps in 1915 when somebody named Ettenreich spotted “the condensation of a cumulus stripe from the exhaust gases of an aircraft”; the stripe stayed around for a while. It wasn’t until World War II that anyone took interest. In a single combat area, hundreds of aircraft sometimes generated so many contrails that pilots couldn’t see to keep in formation or find a target. “We were, in effect, clouding the sky over Germany,” wrote 34th Bomb Group member Hal Province to Veritas News Service reporter Jay Reynolds in 1999. Contrails could be used as cover for an attack: “Four Me-262s came in hidden by the contrails and hit four of us,” Richrad Scroxton wrote in a 1983 account now posted on the 100th Bomb Group Web site. Even more troublesome, contrails gave away aircraft positions. “We were easy for them to spot, as our contrails were heavy that day,” another bomber crewman noted, “pointing like fingers in the sky toward our squadron,” Mike Banta wrote in 1997 in an account of his B-17’s last mission, now posted on the 91st Bomb Group Web site.
The finger-pointing problem has yet to be solved. In the early 1990s, after the U.S. military developed the B-2 stealth bomber, it again became interested in contrails. Steve Weaver, a senior meteorologist at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, points out: “They spent all this money to develop a billion-dollar bomber that’s invisible to radar, but you can see its contrail with your naked eye.” The original B-2 design included a tank outboard of the main landing gear that would store a chemical to mix with the exhaust and suppress contrail formation. The Internet is a rich source of speculation as to what went wrong with that plan, but in the end, Ophir, an optical sensor manufacturer in Littleton, Colorado, saved the day. Its Pilot Alert System uses lidar (light detection and ranging) to differentiate contrails from clouds and tell the pilot to change his altitude when his aircraft is “conning.”
Erik Mathieson, a former Air Force pilot who today flies an Airbus A330, appreciates contrails. “They tell you if the airplane ahead of you at a similar altitude is getting a smooth ride—the line doesn’t undulate or dissipate rapidly—in which case you can expect a smooth ride too,” he says. “If there are several aircraft on closely spaced parallel tracks, contrails can let you know which altitudes are choppy and help you decide whether to climb or descend.”

There are those who consider contrails to be downright sinister: noxious chemicals sprayed from aircraft to sicken populations and alter weather patterns, according to conspiracy theorists. The claims seem to rest on the notion that thin, short-lived contrails may consist of ice crystals, but the thicker, long-lived ones are not. In reality, the expanded lines are merely contrails that have evolved.

When U.S. air traffic was grounded for several days after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the only contrails on satellite images were ones made by six military aircraft, NASA had a chance to see the difference the streamers make. Within five hours, the contrails from the six jets had expanded to cover 8,000 square miles.



Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 12:24 PM
................and community. :)


The open road! Adventure! Your own bathroom! Writer Dick Teresi trades the simplicity of tents for RV splendor—and loves every insane minute (well, except for those waste hookups.)

Roamin' Holiday AARP Magazine (What about it??!!) ;)

By Dick Teresi, May & June 2007

It was 90 degrees on a June Saturday afternoon, I had no air conditioning at home, and thus I found myself in line at the multiplex. I didn’t care about the movie offerings. I cared about the advertised 68-degree climate control in the theater. When I got to the ticket window, I asked for “any movie that’s starting now.” There was but one, RV, an alleged comedy that combines two things whose appeal had always eluded me: recreational vehicles (too big) and Robin Williams (too hairy). I vacillated. I thought about Robin’s hairy back. I thought about my sweaty back. Chalk up a victory for air conditioning.

I won’t bore you with the plot. As I recall, good, or at least mediocrity, triumphs in the end. In the middle, Williams is in a desolate RV camp with his motor home’s sewer hose in his hand. Predictable sloppy events ensue because he follows inept advice from his fellow RVers, all of whom are toothless imbeciles.

This took me aback. Yes, this is the long-running stereotype of an RVer: an RC Cola-slurping NASCAR wannabe, a small evolutionary step up from a protozoan. We view even the well-heeled RV family with derision—people who fear the outdoors so much they take their bathroom, living room, and entertainment center along with them to encounter nature. But this wasn’t jibing with the new images I’d been seeing. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Go RVing campaign focuses on the outdoors rather than the rolling equipment, and floods the airwaves with ads depicting upmarket thirty-something RVers. The dad is usually a rugged-looking professional. You assume the bulge in his pocket is an advance galley of Alan Greenspan’s autobiography. The wife looks like a former supermodel, now spearheading the IPO of a nanotechnology firm. The kids are clearly auditioning to be in a Gap Kids catalog.

Who is the real RVer? The dentally challenged guys from the movie or the sophisticates of the Go RVing commercials? One of the few advantages of being a journalist is that you can beg for stuff in the interest of informing the public. I gave the RVIA a call. Could it help me design a tour through the Northeast that would put me in touch with the new suave RVer? The RVIA said “absolutely” and also persuaded Roadtrek, a Canadian company, to lend me a brand-new motor home for the trip.

What I didn’t tell the RVIA is that I was the least likely candidate to give RVers a fair shake. My normal ride is a 3,600-pound stick shift, and last year I put 1,000 more miles on my bicycle than I did on the car. I live in a college town where burning fossil fuels is considered arson, and even our cats are vegetarians. RVers to me were gas-guzzling, spotted-owl-eating wusses…and worse. It was with this attitude that I set off on my trek.

I chose a four-week period spanning August and September. I figured to catch a lot of full-timers in August (people who live in their RVs and spend summers in the North) and a lot of weekend warriors after Labor Day. After a 2,390-mile trek around the Northeast, I believe I know the American RVer pretty well. So who helped me empty my black-water tank? The drunken bumpkin or the radicchio-eating CEO? Or is it remotely possible that the movie industry and the PR business both got it wrong? Let’s find out.

Aye, Matie—Here Be Your RV

Roadtrek’s Gordon Payne delivers his company’s 210-Popular, a 22-foot van conversion, what’s known in the business as a class B motor home. He has driven it 500 miles from Roadtrek’s Ontario headquarters to my Massachusetts driveway with his Toyota trailing behind for the return trip. Built on a Chevrolet Express extended van, expanded sideways, vertically, and lengthwise, with a raised roof and a skylight, the RV looks like a van on steroids. The bulged-out sides make room in back for a king-size bed, an air conditioner, and a DVD player with a flat-screen TV, and, in the middle, a bathroom with a shower, across from a galley with a refrigerator, a stove, a microwave, and a sink. The 210-Popular, my home for the next month, is more luxurious than the average house in Ulaanbaatar, and with 300 horsepower it can do better than 90 mph on the road. Not that I would ever drive that fast.

Gordon had only two hours to bring me up to speed on my high-speed home: how to use the generator, water pump, water heater, furnace, and liquid-propane tank; how to fill the freshwater tanks, dump the black-water (toilet) and gray-water (sinks and shower) tanks; when to activate electricity and which modes (battery or AC) to use; when to run the refrigerator on gas or juice; and a dozen other things peculiar to a home on wheels.

He gave me tips on RVers themselves, warning me that they prefer nautical language. The cord for connecting to the AC electricity in an RV park, for instance, is called a shore line. Avast! I was reminded of John Belushi’s fey pirate on Saturday Night Live: “Aye, we are manly men.” Gordon also warned me that it was traditional to lie about one’s gas mileage. Don’t be surprised, he told me, if an RVer in a 40-foot motor home claims to get 18 mpg (probably closer to 6 mpg). RVers do their part for the environment by fibbing. For the record, the Roadtrek got 15 mpg (that converts to 42 mpg for my RV friends out there).

Weathering My First Storm

Under way! I roll the Roadtrek out of the driveway to begin the 224-mile trip northwest to North Hero Island, Vermont, in Lake Champlain. The weight is a shock. I’m used to a little BMW, and here I am trundling down the road in a 10,000-pound studio apartment on wheels. The water tanks are sloshing, my inexpertly packed load is shifting, badly secured drawers and cabinet doors are opening and closing. I turn up the radio to drown out the noise.

I arrive at North Hero State Park campground around sunset. It is a beautiful site on Lake Champlain, with Canada north across the water. I back into my campsite, not without some difficulty, and find that my auxiliary battery is low, so I hit the button for the generator. It makes a horrendously loud noise, like Ethel Merman having an apnea attack. I feel like a lout, as my neighbors, regular tent campers who have just kayaked 15 miles around the island, are trying to enjoy a quiet evening around the campfire sans engine noises. By way of apology I carry over a six-pack of beer, plus salsa and chips, and meet the kayakers—three men, one woman. They actually request a tour of the Roadtrek, and love it. We spend hours around their fire, and I admire the “purity” of their camping compared with my newly discovered RV life. The next morning I awake to a rainstorm and the moans and cries of my neighbors as they break camp in the rain. It’s no fun taking down tents in a storm, stuffing them wet into sacks, or running 500 feet to the bathroom, soaking wet. I simply walk to the middle of the RV, use the bathroom, and go back to my warm, dry bed. I close the window vent so I don’t have to hear my neighbors’ cries of anguish. This RV life is okay.

Heather, the campground’s assistant manager, tells me that the number of tent and RV campers is split fifty-fifty at North Hero, and there’s generally no tension between the two groups. There is only “dry camping” for RVers, which means there are no electric, water, or sewer hookups, or other niceties such as TV/Internet cable. Gordon told me the Roadtrek can dry camp for three to five days, running off stored fresh water, battery power, propane, and large wastewater tanks.

I made a rule that I would not use the camper for local transportation. Instead I brought an old mountain bike, which on North Hero I rode the 19-mile roundtrip each morning to get coffee. On Monday I meet Ron, a Vermont retiree, whose 38-foot trailer is parked on North Hero Island, with a view of the Green Mountains, to the east across the lake he loves to fish. The economics make sense. Ron and his wife live most of the year in Middlebury, Vermont, then tow the trailer to King’s Bay Campground on North Hero for the summer. He tells me they get full hookups for four months for $950. A no-frills summer cabin on Lake Champlain runs from $300,000 to $600,000.

Special Toilet Paper—Who Knew?

After an easy 140-mile drive, I find myself in Twin Mountain, New Hampshire, in my first dedicated RV camp, Beech Hill Campground. This is the Live Free or Die state, but whoever came up with that motto never owned a recreational vehicle. It is here, while trying to hook up, that I find I’m missing several key items: special toilet paper that degrades easily, a cable wire for the TV, disinfectant for the toilet, a 30/15-amp electrical adapter. I buy these items at the campground store, which is handy but expensive.

I wrestle with my first RV hookup. Somehow I envisioned a high-tech console with fancy switches and fittings like the space shuttle. This is more like Barney Rubble’s car. The hookup is nothing but a stake in the ground with a water faucet attached, a cable wire, and a metal box with a 30-amp outlet. The sewer connection is a vertical pipe sticking out of the ground with a metal cover. You stick your black-water and gray-water hose into the pipe, hit the pump, and watch your business work its way through a white translucent hose. I have trouble hooking up everything but the poop hose, but eventually figure it out. I survey my work with pride and intone in my most somber voice: “Today I am a man.”

My fellow campers include Phil, a full-timer RVer from Minnesota (he lives only in his trailer, no house), and his wife, Joy, whose enormous Beanie Babies/no spamming of other sites/and/no spamming of other sites/stuffed-animal collection fills their 37-foot trailer. It rains all night, so I stay in and watch About Schmidt on the flat-screen. It’s about a retired actuary on an RV journey. An RVer approaches Schmidt and says, “Ahoy, matie. Permission to come aboard, captain.” Roadtrek’s Gordon was right about the nautical vocabulary. Schmidt’s wife collects stuffed animals and other bric-a-brac.

Black-Water-Tank Tip

A virgin RVer, I am besieged by veterans bearing tips. A guy named Ed tells me to put a tray of ice cubes down the toilet into the black-water tank after pumping out but before hitting the road. Seems the jiggling ice cleans up the tank.

The 225-mile drive to Bar Harbor, Maine, is harrowing. Route 2 through the White Mountains is beautiful, but I am buffeted by a rainstorm. The RV has automatic transmission, and I have never owned such a thing. I am going up and down mountains freewheeling, with no stick to control this runaway 10,000 pounds. Semis are tailgating me, and the winds on overpasses sometimes throw me a third of a lane sideways. On the hills I hear my wastewater tanks sloshing. Is that the tinkling of ice cubes? Remember how your mom warned you to wear clean underpants in case you’re in an accident? No longer a worry. If my black-water tank bursts in a crash, no one is going to comment on my underwear.

My site on Mount Desert Narrows Camping Resort is pretty. I have a view of the inlet and the bridge to Mount Desert Island. It’s pricey, though. The campground charges $80 per night for its best site. Sherry and Tom, a charming, friendly couple, are my next-door neighbors. They’ve been on the road in a 30-foot motor home since January, when they sold their marketing company. They traveled all over the Far East for their business, but now they’re enjoying America via RV. Tom shows me an international RV signal, an index finger pointed upward. This means “Hey, you forgot to lower your TV antenna.” Tom says he’s left four or five antennas in the trees. I show him a similar Sigma Chi finger signal. It means “Hey, there’s a naked Pi Phi in the lounge.”

I also spend time with Karen and Howard, who are “work campers.” It sounds like a Nazi scheme (“Arbeit macht frei!”), but these are full-time RVers who barter their labor for a free campsite and a minimum wage. They both work 28 hours a week (Karen in the store, Howard doing physical work). Karen also has an impressive stuffed-animal collection.

I bicycle the 21-mile roundtrip into Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. The latter is pretty but a tourist trap. I bought a one-scoop ice-cream cone, gave the guy a $5 bill, and stuck my palm out for change. He put a nickel in it. I waited for the rest. There was no rest. Bar Harbor: home of the $4.95 ice-cream cone.

The campground manager is a full-timer. Her husband recently died, and she and I are the only single travelers. RVing is a “couples thing,” she says. Couples may be heterosexual, gay or lesbian, brothers or sisters, whatever, but they still travel in twos.

The Land of the Fee

From Maine I take Route 1, the long scenic route down the coast, to Barrington, New Hampshire, slightly northwest of Portsmouth. I stay at Barrington Shores, a family-style campground on a tiny lake. It is one of my least favorite camps. There are kids of all ages, but the adolescents and preadolescents look as if they would have been happier hanging out at the mall. They slouch about in small groups, looking sullen.

A group of RVers from Londonderry, New Hampshire, invite me to their campfire. John, their leader, admits that many of the kids would have rather stayed home. RVing is big when the children are young, but the rig is often put in mothballs when the kids hit middle school. Couples put the motor home back into service when the children have left for college and elsewhere. Most of the empty nesters are tent campers who have grown old, have various aches and pains, and don’t want to sleep on the ground anymore. The Londonderry RVers complain that the campgrounds are nickel-and-diming them. The nightly charges, they say, are only the beginning. Then it is often $5 extra for each child, $5 for each bicycle, etc. The RVIA tells me that the average RV campground charges $20 per night, but I have yet to find any place that cheap.

A Journey Back in Time

Dry camping in various friends’ driveways and pastures for four days, I meander southwest through New Hampshire and Massachusetts to the Saugerties/Woodstock KOA (Kampgrounds of America) in New York. Wayne, the manager, says he bought the Saugerties campground in 2006. I meet him when he yells to prevent me from backing the Roadtrek into a tree.

Next I bicycle seven miles up the road to Woodstock, where I am time-warped to 1969. The shops are the same: the Tibetan Emporium, Candlestock, Dharmaware, Annie’s Down Home Stitchin’. You can still buy “Make Love Not War” T-shirts. I park the bike outside a coffeehouse. A table of eco-types are impressed I have pedaled my fat body up from Saugerties, but their smiles turn to horror when I reveal I am traveling in an RV. I am now Shiva, destroyer of worlds. I may as well have clubbed a baby harp seal in front of them.

Next stop, LeRoy, New York, near Rochester, and the Lei-Ti, Too! campground, a place the desk man tells me is “nobody’s destination,” just a convenient stop on the way to somewhere else. We are right next to the New York Thruway, and the constant vibration of tractor-trailers keeps my kidneys free of stones.

LeRoy is a destination for me. It is the birthplace of Jell-O and home to the Jell-O Museum. I bicycle to the museum, where longtime company spokesperson Bill Cosby is worshiped as a god, then take the tour with the Irondequoit chapter of the Red Hat Society and a troop of sullen, slutty-looking Girl Scouts from Rochester. We learn that Jell-O is not made of horse hooves but rather from collagen from the hides of cows and pigs, and that lime Jell-O emits the same EEGs as the human brain.

I head south, 300 miles to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to a KOA near the Civil War battlefield. I was last here back in the ’50s for a Boy Scout Jamboree. Camping in the Roadtrek is more comfortable, and the battlefield is better viewed by bike than by foot. I make friends with a couple in another Roadtrek, Fred and Lorraine, from LaFayette, New York. We discuss eating out on the road, and Fred, an RVer for more than 30 years, confirms my suspicion: there is very little good local cooking in America. The rap on RVers is that they never leave home, cuisine-wise, instead eating at chains—McDonald’s, Denny’s, KFC, and the like. I had promised myself that I would eat at least one meal per day in a local, nonfranchised restaurant. In Bar Harbor I splurged on a $20 lunch, a “lobster roll,” which turned out to be lobster detritus served on a cold, stale hot dog bun. I had a western omelet in LeRoy that should have moved west long ago. A frittata somewhere in New York State actually frightened me. So now when I see a McDonald’s or a Friendly’s, I hit the brakes. Fred says one of the joys of RVing when he started was “trying food that was different.” No more.

Two bikers in the adjoining campsite, Mike and Jim, arrive in an unusual RV built by Jim: a converted box trailer with minimal living quarters that leaves room for their two V-twin motorcycles. Mike and Jim say that RVers and bikers are much the same: friendly, open. Mike’s brother died on a motorcycle, so Mike hides his bike from his aging mother. He enjoys the RV for camping and the V-twin for its freedom. “All your life you basically do what your wife wants you to do,” he says. “Go where she wants to go. Socialize with friends she approves of. She tells me I am going to die on this bike. Well, so be it.”

Mike and Jim are typical of many RVers I meet. In better physical shape than most Americans, and with old-economy, skilled blue-collar jobs. Jim is a pipeline troubleshooter; Mike used to drive a fuel truck with 13,000 gallons of gas onboard. Fred maintained jet engines. Then there’s Bill, who came out of retirement last year to operate a snowplow for New York State because there weren’t enough employees who knew how to operate heavy equipment. The people I meet are not day traders. But you could probably borrow a miter saw from any of them.

Too Close for Comfort

Hershey, Pennsylvania! Home of Hershey’s Kisses and site of the annual Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show, a huge RV consumer show: 1,300 RVs at the Giant Center. I am camped at the Hershey Highmeadow Campground, a couple miles away. The other RVers agree that the campground sucks. The RVs are jammed in so closely that my picnic table is just a few feet from my neighbor’s sewage hose and hookup.

The big new thing at the show is SURVs, sport-utility recreational vehicles, a.k.a. toy boxes. They’re built to carry motorcycles, Jet Skis, ATVs, etc. When the toys come out, beds lower down from the ceiling or out from the walls to transform the space. Meanwhile, at the Winnebago display, a dealer brags that each Winnebago is hoisted three feet above the pavement with a crane, then dropped. I ask him if Winnebagos are often attacked by cranes.

Back at the campground, I visit Gloria and Ed, full-time RVers who have come to the show to give seminars. Members of the Escapees—an RV club with 34,000 members—they’ve been traveling for the past 12 years. They cover 10,000 miles per year and have RV’d on six of the seven continents (hookups in Antarctica are clearly not up to snuff). Living full-time on the road, even with high gas prices, runs 50 to 70 percent of what it costs to retire to a “stick house,” as they call it. Gloria says she has even cut down on her clothes budget. “You go to a different church every week,” she says. “You need fewer outfits.”

Gloria and Ed are techno-RVers, using a satellite to connect to the Internet and TV. They don’t like to dry camp at truck stops or Wal-Marts—some of which offer free RV parking—so they go on the Web and find no-pay places to camp. Full-timers, in addition to work-camping, can also get part-time work: pumpkin sales in October, tree sales at Christmas, even circus work. Ed is a retired engineer; Gloria, a retired cable-TV executive. They are taken aback when I ask about their careers. To a full-timer, they explain, past professions are irrelevant. They live in the moment.

At long last, I weave my way slowly back home, staying at a fancy Outdoor World campground in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, with all the amenities, but mostly I’m dry camping on friends’ properties or at truck stops. Most RVers don’t like the latter because truckers run their diesels all night. But my last night on the road—my RV nestled between a Freightliner and a Peterbilt at the Whately (Massachusetts) Truck Stop and Diner—I sleep soundly, the rumbling of 45 diesels acting like a white noise generator.

As I drive home, I have only one regret. I had assumed something disastrous, à la Robin Williams in RV, would happen. The van would fall over, or the black-water pump would activate in reverse and blow sewage all over the inside. Bad luck always adds drama and humor to an article. As it turned out, the RV performed flawlessly. Any time I had a problem in a campground, fellow RVers jumped in to make it go away.

Roll of a Lifetime

As a reporter, one has to compare one’s anecdotal experiences against the rest of the universe. In a 2,390-mile, month-long trip through seven states, did I see a representative sampling of the RV world? Or did I dip into the meaty part of the stew and miss the celery?

David Humphreys, former president of the RVIA, claims that the ten-year-old Go RVing program has roped in a whole new market of younger RVers, the 35-to-55-year-old demographic. If there are 35-year-old RVers traveling en masse, they are avoiding Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, where I spent four weeks. In general the people I met on the road were about my age, 61, and loved nature, camping, meeting other people, and doing things physical. They were neither the dimwits of Robin Williams’s movie nor the sanitized families of the Go RVing commercials. The reality is much better than advertised.

I have one piece of advice before you hit the road: load up on firewood. Every night I built a fire, and every night fellow campers gathered around to share their stories—though they usually left for bed by 9:30. To all my newfound friends out there in RV Land: may the wind be at your back, and may the ice cubes tinkle merrily in your holding tank.

Dick Teresi is the author of five books on science and technology, most recently Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science—from the Babylonians to the Maya (Simon & Schuster, 2003).


:) Thanks to my folks, I had the opportunity to travel via a trailer hitched to the family station wagon when I was a pre-teen and was forced to go until I was about 14.

:) Lots and lots to learn, that's for sure! No tent camping for us - mom had that hugely thick COA (Campground of America) Book and searched for the 4 and 5 star camp grounds - the ones with hook-ups (toilet and electric that is - not today's definition); hot showers and flush toilets.

(y) (y) I enjoyed remembering my and other family members' lessons and fun times as I read this article. I don't remember the people being so friendly, but then perhaps my mom kept her kids close and away from strangers. Plus the article author traveled alone - and I know from business as personal travel, that when I'm alone, I tend to meet many friendly people who extend a hospitable "hello" and even suggestions - especially at the B&B's where I have stayed.

(um) Let Your Smile Be Your Umbrella. (um)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 12:30 PM
:o :o

Never Get Sick!

By Sid Kirchheimer, May & June 2007 AARP Magazine

These six simple habits can boost your immunity and safeguard your precious health.

Hank Lang turned 94 in April and hasn’t been sick since 1992, when he had a passing virus. This retired New York City firefighter—my father-in-law—occasionally splits wood to heat his cottage in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains but otherwise doesn’t engage in regular aerobic exercise. He eats healthfully, though he still enjoys his share of desserts. And for most of his adult life he enjoyed a regular dinnertime “cocktail hour.”

Yet aside from nightly 2 a.m. bathroom breaks and two knee-replacement surgeries—at ages 89 and 90, respectively—Hank is the picture of health: he has no signs of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or even high cholesterol.

The secret to his long and healthy life? Hank thinks it’s in the birdseed he always keeps on hand.

“The birds and squirrels I feed each day keep me entertained,” he explains. “I have my periods of stress just like everyone else, but feeding the animals takes my mind off of it. It’s a nice diversion.”

Don’t laugh. While the cornerstones of staying healthy are loudly preached (and, still, often ignored)—don’t smoke, exercise regularly, manage weight, eat right—evidence is mounting that additional secrets to staying healthy may lie in simple strategies that likely play a big role in preventing disease, especially after age 50. And busting stress, as Hank does, is at the top of the list. Some insights from the latest research:

1. Smile when you say that! Bob Hope made it to his 100th birthday, and so did George Burns. Coincidence? Maybe not. Laughter releases endorphins, those “feel good” hormones suspected of boosting immunity, and that might make you more resistant to disease, says Michael Irwin, M.D., of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and a former adviser for the federally funded National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. “At the very least, laughter reduces stress hormones, which we know have a bad effect on immunity,” Irwin adds.

If you’re the strong, silent type, a good belly laugh now and then may be especially important. Doctors used to think hard-charging Type A’s were at heightened risk for heart disease, but “we’ve moved on from that,” says David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., a preventive-medicine specialist at the Yale School of Public Health and coauthor of Stealth Health: How to Sneak Age-Defying, Disease-Fighting Habits Into Your Life Without Really Trying (Reader’s Digest Books, 2005). “We know now it’s having a so-called Type D personality—someone who bottles up emotions—that really causes an increased risk of heart disease and possibly cancer,” Katz says.

Along with its stress-busting properties, hearty laughter provides an aerobic workout similar to (if briefer than) that of more intense exercise such as jogging, notes Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. As little as 15 minutes of laughter daily may help prevent a heart attack by expanding the lining of blood vessels to improve blood flow, Miller’s research suggests.

2. Bring up Bowser Dog owners 50 and older see their doctors less often, have fewer illnesses, and recover more quickly when they are sick than is the case with their critterless counterparts. And the benefits go beyond what you’d expect from the added exercise of regular walks.

“The simple act of petting an animal has been shown to lower blood pressure by inducing an instant relaxation response,” says Alan Beck, Sc.D., director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Indiana. “And animal owners have a higher one-year survival rate following a heart attack, and have lower cholesterol levels, than those without pets—even when they have the same levels of exercise. Even watching fish has been found to help slow Alzheimer’s deterioration in some patients.” So don’t sweat those vet bills; consider them an investment in your own good health.

3. You snooze…you win As if insomniacs didn’t have enough to worry about: in a 20-year study, older people who tossed and turned for 30 minutes or more at night were twice as likely to die during the study as those who fell asleep soon after hitting the pillow.

“Sleep is a marker of a person’s overall well-being,” notes study lead Mary Amanda Dew, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Poor sleep also increases hunger and impairs metabolism, which by themselves increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.

But restless sleep is very common among older people. After age 55 two out of three adults have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least a few nights a week, the National Sleep Foundation reports. So how do you cope?

“Try sprinkling your just-washed pillowcases and bedding sheets with lavender water,” suggests Katz. “It’s one of several aromas that might promote sleep.” Other sleep-inducing scents include vanilla and green apple. Another option, says Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, is a pre-bedtime snack of walnuts, milk, or yogurt, which are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, a natural sleep inducer. (Choose vanilla-flavored yogurt and you get the added advantage of its scent.)

To maximize your shuteye, consider going to bed 30 minutes later than usual. “If you make yourself stay up a little longer, it increases your body’s need for sleep and you could fall asleep easier,” Dew says.

4. Read a book The more education you have, the healthier you are likely to be, studies show. And it’s not just because people with college degrees tend to have more money, which means more access to doctors and medicine. Higher education is also linked to an ability to delay gratification, which means a reduced involvement with smoking and other risky behaviors.

Do you have to head to college to reap the health rewards of education? Not necessarily, according to health economist Michael Grossman, Ph.D., of the City University of New York. “It’s also a matter of acting and thinking like an educated person,” he says. “Read more. Follow current events. Do other things to keep your mind as sharp as possible.”

5. Read a label To manage your weight—and avoid scores of diseases caused by or worsened by obesity—pay attention to the ingredients in the prepared foods you eat. The fewer ingredients, experts say, the better. “Many processed foods actually use salt to conceal sugar and artificial flavors, and use sugar to conceal salt and other flavors,” says Katz, who also wrote The Flavor Point Diet: The Delicious, Breakthrough Plan to Turn Off Your Hunger and Lose the Weight for Good (Rodale, 2005). “This explains why many popular pasta sauces found in any supermarket have more sugar calorie-for-calorie than ice-cream topping and why many cereals have more salt than potato chips.”

Different flavor categories stimulate different brain cells: sweet flavors will stimulate cells in one portion of the brain; salty flavors, in another; and sour flavors, in yet another. The more cell areas in the brain stimulated in the same meal, the more food you need to eat to feel full. (That’s why you can be full of meat and potatoes but somehow still have room for dessert.) But healthy doesn’t mean bland. Filling your belly with “whole” foods such as unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and grains instead of overly processed foods tricks appetite-controlling brain cells into feeling fuller faster on less food, Katz says.

6. Gaze at your navel Older adults who regularly practice tai chi, a “soft style” Chinese martial art best known for improving flexibility and mood, are more resistant than their peers are to shingles, a painful reactivation of the chickenpox virus, according to a study headed by Irwin. “Other studies find that practicing meditation can improve immunity against influenza,” he adds. Influenza, along with pneumonia, is the eighth-leading cause of death. Researchers are exploring yoga, too, as a way to prevent fatigue and specific diseases.

The reason: These practices strengthen memory T cells, the white blood cells that fight recurrences of previously experienced infections, including some that can lie dormant for decades. You lose memory T cells as you age, but boosting their function can spare you a nasty return visit from an old foe.


:| After my allergies and asthma turned into flu and bronchitis the past nearly two months, I read this article with extreme interest.


Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-17-2007, 12:42 PM
(l) (l) (l) (l) (l)

The smart and sexy actress talks about her breakout year and her stunning performance in The Queen.

"I am not a movie star, and I never will be." - Helen Mirren

"'I always say what I want to play is the next thing that comes along." - Helen Mirren

Mirren, Mirren on the Wall

By Nancy Griffin, March & April 2007 AARP Magaine

After a triumphant year playing two of England’s most formidable queens, Helen Mirren pauses to reflect on a life of exceeding expectations—even her own.


Helen Mirren kicks off her leopard ballet flats, pulls up her knees, and lies back on a sumptuous sofa in the living room of her Georgian-style East London home. On this brilliant winter Saturday, cobblestone streets and the river Thames are visible outside her window. “Could I have my cappuccino, please?” she asks her guest, with the kind of perfect diction that sounds like an elocution lesson. Mirren is not being a diva; it’s just that her back has gone into spasm after a week of long hours on a cold, rainy film set outside London, where she’s acting in a children’s movie called Inkheart. “I took major muscle relaxants yesterday, but I haven’t taken any today,” she says, wincing as she adjusts pillows to get more comfortable. “Once I’m lying down, I’m fine.”

Mirren’s face is strong and marvelously malleable when she speaks, her expressions cycling from imperious to amused to empathetic. She is petite, with lush curves and a slight haughtiness that is dispelled by her earthy laugh. In her slim brown pants, a T-shirt, and good jewelry she might be mistaken for the type of moneyed matron one sees shopping in Harrods, if her blood-red fingernails and two tiny crosses tattooed near her left thumb didn’t hint at untamed passions, perhaps even a wild past.

“The mesmerizing thing about Helen is that beneath the totally convincing façade of a perfectly bred English lady of a certain age, there still lurks a coiled animal waiting to spring,” says British film director Jon Amiel (Sommersby), who has been courting her for a World War I-era future film project. Most strikingly, she seems confident and comfortable with who she is, which may explain how she can play queens and other formidable figures with such verisimilitude: she utterly vanishes into them.

The year 2006 was Mirren’s incandescent year: at age 61 she came into her own as an international star, an actress of astonishing power and versatility who joins the pantheon of great British leading ladies that includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Vanessa Redgrave. Mirren achieved this with three triumphant screen performances: the relentless police detective Jane Tennison in the riveting, bleak, final installments of the PBS series Prime Suspect; an operatic interpretation of what she calls “the best role I will ever have in my life”—the title character in HBO’s miniseries Elizabeth I; and a nuanced, wickedly witty rendering of the reigning Queen Elizabeth in director Stephen Frears’s film The Queen.

Well before Christmas 2006, Hollywood insiders had already tagged Mirren as a shoo-in for the best-actress Oscar (at press time, nominations were not yet announced), and she has received a cascade of critics’-group honors and three Golden Globe nominations. But while she is animated when discussing the psychologies of Queens She Has Played, questions regarding her new white-hot celebrity seem to curdle her mood. “I am not a movie star, and I never will be,” she says tartly. “It just happened that I had an incredibly intense and demanding year of work.” Like it or not, however, Mirren’s rare accomplishments, combined with her platinum-blond glamour, are a “You go, girl” inspiration for mature women.

Film fans in this country have long savored Mirren’s vivid appearances, sometimes unclothed and audaciously sexual, in art movies such as Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), in which she played the savage wife. She earned supporting-actress Oscar nominations as sweet, sad Queen Charlotte in The Madness of King George (1994) and as the dour housekeeper with a secret in Robert Altman’s Gosford Park (2001). But considering her proven ability to carry a movie, she has been underused by mainstream Hollywood, where she has generally been asked to show up and make a male star look good. She played Harrison Ford’s wife in The Mosquito Coast (1986) and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s love interest in White Nights (1985); on the latter set she fell in love with the director, Taylor Hackford (Ray), and the couple have been together ever since (they married in 1997).

In Great Britain, however, Mirren is renowned as a masterful stage actress with a long résumé of Shakespearean and other classical leading roles. So much so, in fact, that she was granted a coveted knighthood and the title of “Dame” for her contribution to the culture. She has played Cleopatra three times, first seducing Antony before a live audience at the age of 19. As a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in the late ’60s and early ’70s, her daringly sensual portrayals earned her press notices as “the sex queen of Stratford” who “put the bawd into the Bard.” Legend has it that all of Mirren’s leading men fall for her, and she has returned the affections of a few; she lived with Liam Neeson for four years after they met making Excalibur (1981).

“Helen is extraordinary, and very sexy,” says Jeremy Irons, who played Mirren’s suitor the Earl of Leicester in Elizabeth I and is quick to stipulate that all romance was confined to their performances. “Beauty is what has lived in you, and it shows in your face. A great thing about Helen is that she hasn’t tried to make her face look any different. She has great inner vibrancy and inner energy. Working with Helen is like watching a Bentley purr on the road: you know if you put your foot down, there’s going to be a lot of power.”

To be a great actress has been Mirren’s lifelong ambition. Ilynea Lydia Mironoff grew up the middle child of three in the working-class London suburb of Leigh-on-Sea. Her father’s father, a csarist colonel, was in London making an arms deal during the Bolshevik Revolution and could never return home. Helen’s father, Basil, played viola in the London Philharmonic before World War II and later drove a cab. “My father was a left-wing socialist, the kind of guy who in America, if he’d been remotely successful, would have been hauled up before McCarthy in disgrace,” she says.

The family lived in genteel poverty, without television, heat, or a washing machine but with stimulating dinner-table conversation about life and art. Determined to assimilate, her parents changed the family name to Mirren, sacrificed to give their two daughters elocution training, and stressed education and financial independence.

" 'Have your own money, darling’ is what my mum always used to say,” Mirren recalls. “There was never a suggestion in my household that you didn’t have to earn your own money because you would get married. To that extent I guess my mother was a feminist.” Helen inherited from her mother, Kathleen, an intense imagination and a tempestuous nature. Although her parents hoped she would become a teacher, at 18 Mirren was accepted at the National Youth Theatre and went on to perform her fiery Cleopatra at the Old Vic Theatre. Two years later she was asked to join the RSC and cemented her status as a leading young player with a glowing (and nearly naked) incarnation as Cressida in Troilus and Cressida.

Anatomy is destiny for young actresses, and as an ingénue Mirren was inevitably cast as the sexy young thing despite her serious intentions. Eager for all kinds of experience, she got naked on the Great Barrier Reef in one of her first film roles, Age of Consent, an erotic comedy with James Mason. She danced provocatively in a cone bra in the soft-porn cult classic Caligula, in the company of such distinguished colleagues as John Gielgud and Peter O’Toole. In a behind-the-scenes archival interview on the film’s DVD she is asked why she chose to do the film. “It was an irresistible mix of art and genitals,” she says, with deadpan chutzpah. When this remark is repeated to her today, she laughs delightedly: “My big mouth!”

Mirren harbors neither embarrassment nor regret over youthful follies. “I was very grateful to Caligula in many ways,” she says. “It taught me about filmmaking, and it bought me my first house.” If she has never run from her sexy image, she was nevertheless frustrated at the one-dimensionality of available film roles. “It wasn’t like I’d had breast augmentation, but I happened to have a curvy figure and naturally blond hair,” she says. “Inside was a very fierce and thoughtful person, which is me. But it wasn’t allowed to—if it was recognized, it was sort of a scary proposition. It scared people.” Mirren might have had a more lucrative career in Hollywood, but she stayed in London, where she felt it was more likely she would find challenging work.

Though she worked steadily in film and television throughout the 1980s, it wasn’t until 1991 that Mirren was given a screen role expansive enough for her talent: Jane Tennison, the flawed, foulmouthed detective superintendent in the gritty PBS series Prime Suspect, which ended its 15-year run last year. (Although set in London, the series was filmed in Manchester, England.) “Prime Suspect was an incredible thing for me because it allowed me to segue out of that sexy thing into something else and show the reality about me that was not related to the immediate outward look of me,” she says. As Tennison she ruled her male-dominated police precinct with hard-boiled élan, having an affair with a subordinate and messing up her personal relationships. Ardent fans on both sides of the Atlantic were dismayed to see Tennison’s pathetic slide into alcoholism in the final episodes, but Mirren was typically unsentimental. “I thought it was realistic,” she says.

In the end it would be love, not work, that would entice her to make a home in Los Angeles. Her first meeting with her future husband, Hackford, was not promising. He kept her waiting to audition for White Nights, and she was icy. “It was a strange way to meet Helen, because she is a lovely person,” says Hackford, “but she didn’t hold back her fury.” Obviously their relationship improved once they were working together, and they discovered they shared a working-class background, a love of adventure travel, and a dedication to telling thrilling stories on film. Although she had never wanted children of her own, Mirren became a friend and supporter to Hackford’s two young sons from previous marriages. “I have to say that the thing I loved most about Taylor was his absolute, total commitment to his children,” she says.

As a young woman Mirren had vowed never to marry. But after 12 years together she and Hackford wed. She was 52. “I still sort of don’t believe in marriage,” she says, “but that’s not to say I’m not incredibly happy to be married. And the one thing I thought I’d hate”—lots of girlish emphasis here—“which was ‘my husband,’ I say all the time. I can’t wait for an opportunity to say it…you know: ‘My husband is over there at the moment.’ I absolutely love it.” Mirren and Hackford divide their time between London and their hacienda high in the Hollywood Hills, buffered from the madness below by acres of tropical trees and gardens they both love to tend. They keep a low profile when in Los Angeles, with Mirren playing the role of bemused observer; they rarely go to parties.

Back in London she contributes money and makes appearances for a private advocacy group called Help the Aged, which aids underprivileged retirees. “I call the generation in Britain that went through the deprivation of the Second World War the noble generation,” she says. “To see those people struggling and suffering is unbearable.”

It’s an exceptional actress who portrays even one Queen Elizabeth in a year. Helen Mirren is the only actress who has played them both.

The Virgin Queen came first. As she typically does, Mirren prepared by immersing herself in historical research, and she discovered a monarch who veered between shrewd political strategist and flamboyant fool in love. “When Helen first came in,” recalls Nigel Williams, the screenwriter for the miniseries, “she said, ‘This is all to do with chamber pots.’ She was talking about how the Elizabethans lived, about the characters being flesh and blood. Helen is extremely precise about very small bits of behavior, about details of gesture and voice. So her performances are perfect on the outside and also felt from the inside. That’s very unusual in an actor.”

Mirren’s collaborators say that during the grueling shoot in Lithuania she never complained about the back pain that plagued her from the heavy costumes. “I read an interview with Vivien Leigh in which she said that when she made Gone With the Wind, she felt that she would never have a role that great again. And I felt like that with Elizabeth. I just told myself, ‘You absolutely do this full on, full out, all the time. It doesn’t matter how you feel, how tired you are, how much pain you are in.’ I gave it everything that I had.”

The character of Queen Elizabeth II—as dutiful and restrained as Elizabeth I was histrionic—presented Mirren with a different set of challenges. When she first read Peter Morgan’s script for The Queen, a film about the dramatic week following Princess Diana’s death, “there was no way I wasn’t going to do it—the people involved were so great,” Mirren says. “And yet it was very, very scary.”

All British subjects are so intimately familiar with their queen of 55 years—her gait, her dowdy getups, her clipped cadence—that Mirren knew she would have to hit a bull’s-eye for audiences to accept her. “Every British person knows how to send up the queen’s voice, so to find that voice and make it sound real and natural was going to be hard,” she says. “And also knowing it would be under incredible press scrutiny in Britain, because it hadn’t really been done before.”

Mirren had once met Queen Elizabeth briefly at a tea reception following a polo match. “The queen was absolutely charming,” she recalls. “I had heard people say, ‘Ooh, I was so scared to meet the queen, and she was so luv-ly!’ and I would say, ‘Oh, you arse-lickers.’ And I came away saying exactly the same thing: ‘She was so luv-ly!’

“The truth is, she was—she was smiley and sparkly, not grumpy queen at all,” Mirren adds. “I think people now misread a sense of serious dignity with grumpiness.”

With hips padded under tweed skirts, Mirren practiced the monarch’s purposeful stride. As she perfected Elizabeth’s outward appearance, she searched for the key to her inner life. She immersed herself in books and newsreel footage, and at first it felt like flying blind. But something clicked after she was moved to seek out painted portraits of the queen. “I suddenly thought, ‘That’s it: you are just doing a portrait,’” she says. “‘It’s never a perfect reproduction; it’s a perception. You are like a portrait painter.’”

The movie humanizes Elizabeth by revealing how hard it had been for her to watch her father, King George VI, suffer when his brother abdicated, making George the king. Elizabeth was crowned queen at age 25, after her father’s death. “She wasn’t born to be queen, and she had absolutely no choice—it was ‘You will do this.’ And the way she took that on board is remarkable,” Mirren says. “She was a little girl who was full of a sense of order and duty and self-discipline. We are all of us the young person we once were. Now, when I see a picture of her, I always go, ‘There’s my girl.’ ”

On the day when critical scenes between Elizabeth and Prime Minister Tony Blair were filmed on a set of Buckingham Palace, notes Michael Sheen, who played Blair, the entire cast and crew were intimidated when Mirren stepped onto the set in full queen regalia. “Jolly frightening, isn’t she?” muttered Frears in his ear.

Mirren says she does not dream of any roles she has yet to conquer. “I’ve never wanted to play anything, really,” she says. “I always say what I want to play is the next thing that comes along, and it’s always surprising.”

She earned one Tony nomination in 1995 for Ivan Turgenev’s A Month in the Country and another in 2002 for August Strindberg’s Dance of Death, and she says she’d be pleased if the future brought her back to Broadway again. In recent years she has earned raves for London stage performances as Lady Torrance in Tennessee Williams’s Orpheus Descending and as Christine in Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra. “It’s tragic that a larger audience didn’t see those performances,” says Taylor Hackford. “But that’s what happens on stage. It’s combustible, it’s about getting up every day and going out and doing it, and Helen loves that.”

As for contemporary roles, screenwriters take note: Mirren jokes that she is fascinated by the notion of playing the much vilified “other woman”—Prince Charles’s wife, the former Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall. She admires Camilla’s loyalty to Prince Charles and her self-sacrifice in the face of public scorn: “It made me ashamed for my country that people could be so venal and nasty.”

In the short-term future Mirren will probably be attending lots of awards ceremonies. Does she fantasize about winning? “Fantasize is not quite the right word,” she says dryly. “I’ve not won different awards, many many times—so luckily I’ve practiced that. Whenever you are nominated for anything, you enter into this marvelous, fantabulous bubble called the bubble of nomination. The minute the envelope is opened and your name isn’t called out, the bubble bursts. And no one calls you up the next day to say, ‘So sorry you didn’t win,’ or ‘You looked gorgeous’—nothing.

“If you win, you get about another 24 hours in that lovely bubble,” she adds. “And then, pop—you are slightly wet all over from the bubble and realize that you have to get on with real life.”


(f) (f) (f) (f) (f) (f) Bravo, Dame Helen, Bravo! Sincerest gratitude for demonstrating how to age gracefully, with dignity, keeping a sexiness about yourself and without the "Cher" surgeries. :) (y) (y)



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 11:46 AM
(f) :) (f) :)

40 years later, the season of be-ins and dropouts is a marketing brand; there’s music, art and theater, but this time it’s all a spectator sport.


The Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 featured rock pioneers like Jimi Hendrix. The 2007 version will feature a Hendrix tribute act.


May 20, 2007

Welcome Back, Starshine


THE Summer of Love, by most accounts, began on Jan. 14, 1967, with a gathering known as the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and ended on Oct. 6, with the Death of Hippie march, a mock funeral staged in Haight-Ashbury to tell aspiring flower children to stay home.

Forty years later the children are at it again, only older and more institutional this time. The Whitney Museum of American Art is noting the anniversary with “Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era,” opening Thursday. The Public Theater, which formed that summer with “Hair,” is staging a hippie-friendly season of Shakespeare in the Park, with “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as well as a concert performance of “Hair” in September. Jefferson Starship, Quicksilver Messenger Service and other bands will renew the faith in July at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, where their younger selves performed at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival.

But the wild cards are in places like Zieglersville, Pa., where a three-day Session Summer of Love beer celebration will feature a mini-firkin fest; or at the Palms Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, where the Rain nightclub will hold a three-night rave event called Summer of Love, the Love-In, billed as an “all-out sensory assault.” If just thinking about these events leaves you tired, you can head to Starbucks for a 40th anniversary Monterey Pop CD set. (And if, like the squares of old, you need help with the lingo, a firkin is one sixth of a hogshead.)

The flowers may have faded, and rents in the Haight may have gone through the roof, but the Summer of Love brand continues to extend. Instead of aging gracefully into kitsch, it has solidified into canon.

“Why are we fascinated now?” asked Jann Wenner, 61, the editor and publisher of Rolling Stone, which will publish a Summer of Love double issue in June. “It’s our youth for a great number of people, especially those of us who now control things.”

In recent political campaigns, claim on the era’s legacy has swung largely to conservative debunkers, who hold up the Summer of Love as an exercise in liberal self-absorption and a touchstone of moral decline. Now, with the nation again in an unpopular war, utopian voices are coming out again, softer in their politics but no less determined in their exceptionalism.

“Much about that summer, looking back, seems incredibly foolish and narcissistic and grandiose,” said Oskar Eustis, 48, the artistic director of the Public Theater who was 9 in 1967 and whose parents took him to a demonstration at which protesters tried to levitate the Pentagon. “But it’s not crazy to remember that we stopped the war, and we did.”

In contrast to the first time around, this summer’s activities will be spectator events, not participatory ones, replaying the Summer of Love as something you watch, not something you do. There will be comfortable seating and refreshments. And though there will likely be references to the current war, the art will still be fighting the last one, reflecting the songs and sensibilities not of the Iraq grunts’ generation but of their parents’.

Which raises some questions: Is it possible to extract the Summer of Love from the distorting filter of narcissism? Or is that narcissism the essence of the brand, as revisionists and advertisers would have it? Economists use the term “survivorship bias” to describe the recollection of past moments by what has survived into the present, filtering out whatever elements did not bear fruit. For the Summer of Love what has survived is the music and industry it created, the fascination with youth culture, the now generic images of gentle hippies and a swirl of pretty colors that has found its home in the language of advertising. Some of the less institutional elements, like the Haight’s Free Store, voluntary sweep-ins, free food-ins, the free health clinic and the Death of Hippie, have receded from the narrative.

Without these the Summer of Love has survived as a simple story: For a magical few months tens of thousands of young people left home for San Francisco, where they gave the nation new sounds, new pleasures and new styles. In went adolescent idealism and creative energy; out came a lifetime of ads for cars, Pepsi and retirement plans.

This story has endured so tenaciously because it played out in the media in real time, with a level of stage management that was as forward-looking as the music. To “drop out” in 1967, as Timothy Leary urged the crowd at the Human Be-In, meant to emerge from obscurity and drop in — into a media spectacle that fascinated the country and a media economy that would replace manufacturing as the heartbeat of America.

From the start the season had an official governing body, the Council for the Summer of Love; a hit theme song, Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”, written and produced by the organizers of the Monterey festival; and a television deal, when a young ABC executive named Barry Diller bought the rights to Monterey for a never-realized Movie of the Week. The council came up with the name Summer of Love to put a positive spin on events that were often portrayed negatively in the press. Almost as soon as the hippies hit Golden Gate Park, sightseeing companies offered guided bus tours of the Haight, providing tourists a look at the hairy new wrinkle in humanity. As a 1967 manifesto from the Death of Hippie proclaimed, “Media created the hippie with your hungry consent.”

In this year’s Summer of Love it will be clear who are the performers and who the spectators, where art ends and life begins. Even if you sing along to “Good Morning Starshine” or crash on the sidewalk outside the Whitney, you’re still there to honor someone else’s show. It ends when you walk out the door. If the first Summer of Love was about the shared exploration of possibility, conducted in the public eye, the anniversary demonstrates the accrued authority of the institutions that make this watching possible.

These institutions have not always served the art, said Christoph Grunenberg, curator of the Whitney’s “Summer of Love” exhibition for the Tate Liverpool gallery, where it began in 2005. Instead, he said, they’ve enabled “a rather superficial consumption of a retro aesthetic, which doesn’t take into consideration the motives behind it, the desire for liberation.

“The utopian impulse of the period is missing,” he said.

The exhibition includes underground magazines, psychedelic light shows, album covers and posters and films of concerts, as well as paintings and sculptures from the ’60s and early ’70s. It’s “the first serious art-historical evaluation, as opposed to something that has been looked at as quote unquote just popular culture,” said Henriette Huldisch, the assistant curator in charge of installing the exhibition.

Mr. Grunenberg, 44, said the art has been “a victim of its own success at the time and tainted by its association to drug culture, music culture, fashion and design.

“It was unusual in that it aspired to the level of mass culture,” he added, “and that’s the cause of the suspicion that comes to psychedelic art. Can the light shows at a Jimi Hendrix show be art?”

Yet there were other narratives within the Summer of Love. Once the masses started to arrive in the Haight, some pioneers left the city for greener pastures. By late summer LSD gave way to speed and utopian seekers to ill-prepared teenage runaways, children who could not take care of themselves. “Most people see the Summer of Love in very happy terms,” said Brad Abramson, vice president of production and programming for VH1 and an executive producer of the channel’s “Monterey 40,” a documentary about the 1967 pop festival that will be broadcast beginning June 16. “One thing that struck me was finding out what a mess it turns out to be. By the end of the summer speed freaks were catching and eating cats.”

Mr. Wenner, who started Rolling Stone in San Francisco that fall, sees this narrative as a sideshow to the essence of the Summer of Love. For him the survivorship bias has allowed the substantive elements of the day to emerge from the confusion and hype. “I was skeptical of this invasion of the Haight-Ashbury, wear-flowers-in-your-hair stuff,” he said. “The grungy, sleeping-on-the-floor-in-a-sleeping-bag lifestyle was not for me. The drugs were, and the music was, and the peace and love was. But the grungy lifestyle, which was very limited to kids coming in from out of town, was not for me.”

The sunnier side will be on display at this year’s Monterey Summer of Love Festival, where tribute bands, dressed up like Jimi Hendrix or the Byrds, will share the stage with some performers from the original festival, a three-day charity concert that included Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and others. Concertgoers this year will get Big Brother and the Holding Company without Joplin, and Carlton Poward performing as Hendrix: proof that nostalgia can conquer even death. But the commercial and canonical imperatives will be familiar.

A goal for the first Monterey festival was to prove that rock music was “an art form in the same way jazz was,” said the record producer Lou Adler, 73, one of the organizers. “It was still looked on as a trend, two and a half minutes and you’re out. So the idea was to do a festival in the same place that there was a jazz festival and a folk festival; that seemed to validate it.”

But from the start there was distrust between the organizers, who came from the Los Angeles music business, and the more underground groups, said Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, who helped organize the event. “There definitely was that feeling from the San Francisco musicians that the Los Angeles groups were the commercial groups, and they were the real heart and soul,” she said. “I think they were just jealous because we were making the money. The whole point, I thought, was to make hit records.”

In the end of course both sides won: the industry because it sold the ethos of the underground and the hip bands through the growth of the business. The ’60s culture blossomed not at the expense of its commercial tendencies but through them. The branding of the Summer of Love is not a corruption of the original moment but an impulse that was there all along.

Like any brand, Summer of Love nostalgia champions its own brandedness, or exceptionalism, separating itself to an exaggerated extent from what came before or after. In this separation the past is seen as a purer image of the present, shorn of vulgarity and invested with possibility. The past points to a more utopian future than the one it actually became.

Mr. Eustis of the Public Theater said he hoped to invoke the utopianism of 1967 without simply playing to nostalgia that runs on the desire to forget, not to remember. “Nostalgia is a corrupting emotion,” he said. “You’re imagining a lack of contradiction in the past. You’re imagining something that wasn’t true. It’s a longing to be a child again, to have magical thinking about the world.”

But he added that nostalgia could also have a “progressive aspect” that pushes people to think forward rather than back, to “remember that you can imagine a world that is different, where money didn’t determine value, where competition wasn’t the nature of human relations.

“That imagination can be powerful,” he continued. “The dream is real. The negative aspect of nostalgia is when we want that feeling that everything is possible, but we don’t want to do anything about it. That’s just narcissistic. That’s longing to feel important again. Baby boomers are very good at that.”

For Michael Hirschorn, 43, executive vice president for original programming and production at VH1, which has built a business on the synthesis of youth culture and branding, the first order of business is to recover the music from the trappings. The channel’s Monterey documentary, he promised, will be about that music, not peace and love. “The ’60s always felt hokey and lame to me, so smug and self-important,” he said. “Seeing this footage now, maybe the ’60s and the Summer of Love can be reclaimed from its own advocates.”

In the meantime issues of the underground magazine Oracle will be in the Whitney, and Quicksilver Messenger Service will be back at Monterey. And of course mini-firkins will be in Zieglersville. But this year’s pilgrims will find less reassessment, in the sense of discovering something new, than the impossible promise of recapturing the old.

And with luck they will find some good music and art, along with more kitsch than anyone seems to want to acknowledge. To celebrate that, there’s Stanley Donen’s 1967 classic “Bedazzled,” with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. It’s newly out on DVD, and it’s a trip.

(y) (y) Like, wow - this article was really cool. ;) Ex-hippies and wanna-be hippies too young to be hippies in 1967 - UNITE! :D <inhaling truly, madly and deeply..>

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 11:54 AM
:| :| :|

Skywalk Review

Tourists last week walked around the rock-anchored glass Skywalk, which extends 70 feet outward, offering a view into the chasm thousands of feet below.


Slide Show: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2007/05/19/arts/design/20070519_SKY_SLIDESHOW_1.html

May 19, 2007

Skywalk Review

Great Space, Glass Floor-Through, Canyon Views


GRAND CANYON WEST, Ariz. — A visitor to these stark and imposing lands of the Hualapai Indians on the western rim of the Grand Canyon knows what sensation is being promised at the journey’s climax. After driving for a half-hour over bone-jolting dirt roads some 120 miles from Las Vegas, you take a shuttle bus from the parking lot, not far from where helicopters are landing, and construction is proceeding. You deposit all cameras at a security desk, slip on yellow surgical booties and stride out onto a horseshoe-shaped walkway with transparent sides and walls that extends 70 feet into space, seemingly unsupported.

Below the floor’s five layers of glass (protected from scratches by the booties) can be seen the cracked, sharp-edged rock face of the canyon’s rim and a drop of thousands of feet to the chasm below. The promise is the dizzying thrill of vertigo.

And indeed, last week some visitors to this steel-supported walkway anchored in rock felt precisely that. One woman, her left hand desperately grasping the 60-inch-high glass sides and the other clutching the arm of a patient security guard, didn’t dare move toward the transparent center of the walkway. The words imprinted on the $20 souvenir photographs taken of many venturesome souls herald completion of a daredevil stunt: “I did it!!!”

The Skywalk, which opened in March and cost more than $30 million, will end up paying for itself if it keeps fulfilling that promise of amusement park vertigo, particularly because each visitor taking the brief walk over the abyss must pay at least $74.95 for a tour package. But a similar thrill can be had with greater intensity just a hundred yards away on ordinary ground, where tourists tentatively edge toward a precipice without guardrail or fence, and look across the ravine at a great rock formation that bears some resemblance to a giant eagle, its wings outspread. In that spot the sense of grandeur is far more palpable than on the pedestrian walkway, which within a few moments can seem as routine as a glass-bottom boat in the Caribbean.

Moreover, when leaning over that nearby stone ledge, the frisson of danger is more properly mixed with another sentiment that has long lured viewers to the great south rim of the Grand Canyon: a sense of awe at the expanse of space, and the humbling sense of something sublime, lying beyond the grasp of human capacities. The Skywalk, with its peach-colored industrial-style supports under its glass floor, doesn’t come close.

To be frank, even the stunning view off the Hualapai ledge does not hold up to a comparison with the south or north rims, which are controlled by the National Park Service. The stone eagle, like the Skywalk itself, does not actually hover over the Grand Canyon but over a subsidiary tributary canyon. The distance straight down is also less than the 4,000 feet to the Colorado River mentioned in promotional material. And the vista itself, however grand, is less shockingly immense and overwhelming than those in the more famous areas of the park. Even the colors are less variegated.

What is being offered instead is another kind of lure, sensed in the personal appeal of one of the site’s hosts, Wilfred Whatoname, a former tribal policeman and environmental officer, who proudly affirms his tribal affiliation with the feathers in his hair. He poses for photos, generously offering help to visitors. “We’re in the realm of the eagle,” he says, facing the canyon, his arms outstretched to embrace the updraft.

His picture also appears on the side of every Hualapai shuttle bus. He is shown gazing out at the new Skywalk, while below him, a helicopter and a Hummer romp near a motorized raft on the Colorado River. The portrait, like the Skywalk itself, manages to invoke both a romantic image of the American Indian — preternaturally close to the land, its past and its powers — while promising the kind of activities that have been banned from the main part of the canyon by the Park Service.

In fact, look more closely at Grand Canyon West, and it is as if the roles of the United States government and the Indian tribes had been inverted or exchanged. The Park Service takes an almost sacred view of the canyon landscape, as if drawing on an imagined Indian conception of the land, striving to protect it from encroaching pressures, noise and commerce brought by nearly five million annual visitors. The Park Service does not permit anything resembling the Hualapai Hummer off-road tours; it has banned helicopter flights below the canyon’s rim, like the ones the Hualapai offer. And it would not permit a permanent horseshoe of steel and glass to protrude into the canyon.

Meanwhile, the Hualapai are doing just the opposite, striving to increase commerce by exploiting the land’s allure, adopting the most clich&#233;-ridden tactics of Wild West tourism. Every Skywalk visitor’s tour package even includes a visit to a mock Western town — the Hualapai Ranch — complete with a (dry) saloon and (empty) jail, staged gunfights and “Cowboy cookin’.”

Near the Skywalk there is a new Indian “village” that is not really a village at all but a miscellaneous assemblage of Indian dwellings constructed by local tribes: a Navajo mud-covered “sweat lodge,” a Hopi stone house, a Hualapai “wikiup” teepee constructed of juniper logs.

Folk dances reflecting various tribal cultures are also performed, sometimes reproducing historical styles, sometimes offering modern variations in elaborate tribal dress. There is minimal explanation of the dances and their functions, or of the nature of any real Indian village, or of the history of these tribes. The Skywalk repackages nature; these exhibitions repackage imagery.

The motivation of all this is clear enough. The Hualapai, with barely 2,000 members, control almost a million acres of land along the Colorado, granted them in 1883. In many early documents they are described as poverty-stricken and desirous of self-improvement, and both characteristics seem to have persisted. Gambling has failed as a commercial lure, since Las Vegas is just a three-hour drive away. So tourism accounts for 70 percent of the tribal budget.

Only about 400 daily visitors came to Grand Canyon West before the Skywalk opened. Now, a tribal spokesman said, there are about 1,500. By year’s end, plans call for the paving of miles of dirt road, expansion of the local airstrip to accommodate commercial jets and the construction of a cafe, a restaurant, an Imax theater and a visitors’ center over the entrance to the Skywalk. The hope is for 5,000 to 6,000 daily visitors.

Money for the Skywalk was invested by a Las Vegas entrepreneur, David Jin, whose tour company also regularly brings Asian visitors to the site. But future development will have its challenges: the area now has its water and waste hauled in and out, while diesel generators and solar panels supply electricity; that frail infrastructure will be far more strained if the Skywalk complex draws huge crowds.

The entire enterprise has been fraught with controversy. There were tribal members, including Mr. Whatoname, who opposed the development out of a belief in the sacredness of the canyon. But he now says it may have been worth it if it serves the long-term survival of the tribe.

But at what cost — to all? The tribe’s repackaging of the natural world seems uninspired, hasty, expensive. After paying $74.95 for the “Spirit Package” with its Skywalk feature, a visitor can spend $125 more for a brief helicopter ride down to the Colorado, followed by a nondescript 20-minute jaunt in a motorized launch and another brief helicopter trip up.

I took the plunge, sitting in a cramped back seat of the helicopter, trying to glimpse the canyon walls through a window that seemed barely larger than a porthole; below, at river level, the drone of choppers ferrying other tourists provided constant accompaniment to the looming appearance of mammoth, layered rock formations, once chiseled by the now muddy, sluggishly flowing river.

Too much for too little. And unlike the areas overseen by the Park Service, there are no hiking paths, no ways to escape crowds or commerce and begin to see something else.

Perhaps that will change as this fledgling enterprise expands, but for now, an Indian tribe and representatives of its onetime nemesis have exchanged roles. The Hualapai are leading Wild West spectacle tours, while the Park Service is guardian of the ancient earth. Each is taking on ways of thinking about the natural world that were once associated with the other. And that inspires more vertigo than the Skywalk.

Information on the Skywalk is at (877) 716-9378 or skywalkdestinationgrandcanyon.com/tours. Reservations are recommended.

(n) (n) (n) (n) Can't excape from the crowds as in a Park managed by the National Park Service? NOT a place I'll ever visit, besides my reasons for boycotting this eyesore, this blight on such a awe-inspiring, spiritual place such as the Grand Canyon.

Marketing the Grand Canyon is such a twisted concept, to me. And could they have made that skywalk any uglier?!

I wonder how folks are going to ACCESS this place since it is not accessible from the South Rim access roads? This walkway is west of the South Rim - and also run by a different group of Native Americans.

(y) (y) The North Rim has fewer people since it is only open from May to October. Never been there yet (despite nine trips to the South Rim and drove right by the northern rim's "entrance" a few times but did not have the time.) And our Park Service does not take reservations to see the Grand Canyon at either Rim!


Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 11:57 AM


Thoreau’s image and replica cabin at Walden Pond.


May 18, 2007

American Journeys | Concord, Mass.

A Town That Has a Way With Words


IN the 19th century, Concord, Mass., was a peaceful country village and home to best-selling writers. In the 21st, Concord is a bustling, upscale Boston suburb and still home to best-selling writers.

The literary stars of the past were Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and Alcott. Today's include Doris Kearns Goodwin, Gregory Maguire, Alan Lightman and Robert Coles. But now as then, fall down in this town and you may land on a writer. In a population of 17,000, Concord counts dozens of them.

Many have written best sellers: Ms. Goodwin scored most recently with “Team of Rivals”; Mr. Maguire's “Wicked” is the basis for the hit Broadway show; Mr. Lightman wrote “Einstein's Dreams”; Mr. Coles, a child psychiatrist, inhabited past lists with books like “The Moral Intelligence of Children.” Ms. Goodwin's husband, Richard, is an author and playwright who once wrote speeches for John F. Kennedy.

When the crime novelist Patricia Cornwell moved to town last year, the buzz around town was more like a hum. Concordians are clearly used to literary lights in their midst.

The town's history, literary tradition and beauty attract both writers and travelers who read their books. On a trip there, you can visit the haunts of great writers past, get a glimpse of the American Revolution and, in the bookstores, library, parks and restaurants, maybe even rub elbows with someone whose book is in your backpack.

Concord sits where the Assabet and Sudbury Rivers meet to form the picturesque Concord River, and Walden Pond is less than two miles outside the town center. Proud Victorian houses, white church steeples and acres of protected woodlands make it bucolic and inviting. Downtown is a crossroads for Sunday bicyclists and tourist buses.

In 1775, when British troops marched over from Boston in search of a cache of guns belonging to the local militia, the first shots of the American Revolution were fired in nearby Lexington and at Concord's North Bridge. You can follow the 5.5-mile Battle Road to trace what happened.

In the 1800s, writers lived on Lexington Road in Concord, and some of their houses are open for tours. At Orchard House, an upstairs bedroom is much as it was in 1868, when Louisa May Alcott wrote “Little Women” there. The Wayside was home at different times to the Alcotts, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Sidney, whose “Five Little Peppers” children's series was wildly popular in the late 19th century.

At the Ralph Waldo Emerson house, Emerson lived, wrote and discussed man, nature and the universe with fellow Transcendentalists, including Henry David Thoreau. “It was impossible to dwell in his vicinity without inhaling, more or less, the mountain atmosphere of his lofty thought,” Hawthorne wrote of Emerson in 1846.

It's difficult to appreciate now what a superstar Emerson was in his day, but Concord remembers. The Concord Museum just across the street has a reproduction of his study with its original contents.

But Concord itself is no museum. “There is a living town center,” said Mrs. Goodwin, who, with her husband, moved to town in 1976 and raised three sons there. “You walk down Main Street in Concord and there are bookstores, restaurants, shops. There's a real community of people here.”

On Main Street, you could lose most of a day browsing in the Concord Bookshop and the Barrow Bookstore, but if you need a break from books, check out the clothing shops, antiques stores and small cafes.

Sarah Payne Stuart, author of the memoir “My First Cousin Once Removed,” grew up in a Victorian house on Main Street.

“Louisa May Alcott was my dream, and I would ride my bicycle to her house seven times a year,” said Ms. Stuart, who returned to Concord to raise her own children after two decades away. “I wanted them to take swimming lessons at Walden Pond, like I did as a child.”

FOR a real bookworm's paradise, check out the Concord Free Public Library. Emerson spoke at its dedication in 1873, and after a renovation, it was rededicated in 2005 with a speech by Mrs. Goodwin, who wrote several of her early books in its main reading room.

“I would go and sit at the long tables surrounded by books and write longhand,” she said. “It was far more beautiful than any office I could have rented. The librarians even took calls from Dick telling me it was time to come home for lunch.”

Inside the main entrance, you'll encounter a magnificent statue of Emerson by Daniel Chester French, a Concord resident whose first sculpturing tools were given to him by May Alcott, the model for Amy in “Little Women.” On an unobtrusive table is a copy of Thoreau's daily journal from 1851, open to the entry for the month and day corresponding to the current date. A special collection downstairs includes 4,000 printed volumes by Concord authors from the 17th century until today.

Despite all this reading and writing, Concord loves the outdoors. At least 30 percent of town land — more than 5,000 acres — is protected from development, and a patchwork of well-trodden wooded trails (many once used by Thoreau) wind by meadows, low stone walls and the Concord River. Jane Langton, the author of 18 adult mysteries and 8 children's fantasies, all set in Concord, recommends canoe trips on the Concord and Sudbury Rivers to get a sense of the beauty that Thoreau saw.

Mr. Lightman takes long runs through Estabrook Woods or the Great Meadows National Wildlife sanctuary, both north of town (and where, he said, “I do my best thinking”). On your own walk in Great Meadows, you may see coots, wood ducks, trumpeter swans, redwing blackbirds, great blue herons and muskrats — if not Mr. Lightman.

In town, on Bedford Road, climb Author's Ridge at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to see Thoreau's small headstone, marked simply “Henry,” and Emerson's massive boulder of pink granite.

Thoreau is said to have planted the garden that still blooms at the Old Manse, a house near the Old North Bridge where, according to Hawthorne, Emerson's grandfather witnessed the opening of the Revolution from a window. Emerson himself wrote his essay “Nature” in the house, and Hawthorne took up residence there with his bride, Sophia, in 1842. This house, too, is open for tour.

Even if you don't need a swimming lesson, follow Thoreau to Walden Pond. Tourists pile off buses for quick snapshots, but it's better to take an early morning walk near the pond or swim in it on a hot July evening — it closes at dusk. Thoreau's cabin is gone, but there is a replica of it near the pond, and its furnishings are back in town, at the Concord Museum.

Some of today's writers came to Concord to follow in more recent footsteps. Mr. Maguire, 52, said his literary career was conceived when he read Ms. Langton's “Diamond in the Window,” a children's fantasy set in Concord, in 1962. A sort of Mary Poppins meets the Transcendentalists, it was inspired by a neo-Gothic Revival house still standing at 148 Walden Street. Mr. Maguire wrote to Ms. Langton as a teenage fan, and she encouraged him to write fantasy for children.

“Wicked” was just being published in 1994 when he moved to Concord. “I thought, ‘I've written a grown-up book so now I can live in a grown-up town,' ” he said.

Concord has no Algonquin where writers go to mingle. The Goodwins are regulars at the bar at Serafina's, where they mingle in a “Cheers”-like setting with neighbors and friends. “We sit at the bar with one guy who does sewage construction, another in the glass business and another who builds benches,” Mr. Goodwin said.

Don't be crushed if you miss the Goodwins; just concentrate on the veal with shiitake mushrooms and prosciutto.

Most residents take quiet pride in their author neighbors. “Concord has a sense of importance but not self-importance,” said Mr. Lightman, who grew up in Memphis but moved to the Boston area to teach at Harvard and then M.I.T. “In terms of literature and history, big things have happened here, but the town doesn't show off.”

Still, literary references seem to be everywhere. Staying at the downtown Colonial Inn, dating to 1716, visitors find themselves in a place that not only has drawn a parade of famous guests (J. P. Morgan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Wayne, Bruce Springsteen, Diane Sawyer), but was once home to the Thoreau family.

Every Sunday, Jan Turnquist, a former teacher, appears at the inn in costume as Louisa May Alcott. You can catch her playing her character when you try the well-stocked Sunday brunch in the inn's dining room. Or if you've had enough of the printed word, come back later for jazz or folk music near a roaring fire in the cozy tavern.


AT the Colonial Inn (48 Monument Square; 800-370-9200; www.concordscolonialinn.com) rooms start at $199 in spring and summer, and Sunday brunch is $26.95 or $12.95 for ages 12 and under.

At Serafina's (195 Sudbury Road; 978-371-9050), the veal with shiitake mushrooms and prosciutto costs $23.

Authors' houses along Lexington Road include Orchard House (No. 399; 978-369-4118; www.louisamayalcott.org; general admission, $8); the Wayside (No. 455; 978-318-7825; www.nps.gov/mima; $5) and the Emerson House (corner of Cambridge Turnpike; 978-369-2236; www.rwe.org/emersonhouse; $7). The Old Manse (978-369-3909; www.oldmanse.org; $8) is at 269 Monument Street.

The Concord Museum (200 Lexington Road; 978-369-9763; www.concordmuseum.org; $10) is open daily and the Concord Free Public Library (129 Main Street; 978-318-3300; www.concordlibrary.org) is closed on Sundays in July and August.

Estabrook Woods on Estabrook Road, Great Meadows National Wildlife Sanctuary on Monsen Road and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on Bedford Street are open sunrise to sunset. Canoes can be rented at the South Bridge Boat House (496 Main Street; 978-369-9438) for $13 to $15 an hour.

Walden Pond, now a state park (978-369-3254; www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/wldn.htm), has a beach and walking trails. Parking $5.

(f) (f)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 11:58 AM

Fashion inspired by the hidden gems of the Mediterranean Sea.



Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 11:59 AM

For the design guru Brian Balmert, Seattle is equal parts laid-back and luxe.


(y) (y)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 12:00 PM

A trip across Japan's culinary universe.


(l) (l)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 12:01 PM

Cameras, hats and seersucker swim gear for your warm weather excursions.


(f) (f)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 12:02 PM

Rated for wackiness on a scale from 1 to 10, the current State of the Spa Treatment.






Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 12:08 PM

CALIFORNIA QUAINT San Clemente has bounced back from a downturn in the 1990s largely because of a boom in coastal property and a new development. Today, it attracts retirees and a new breed of young second-home-owning surfers.


Surfers at Calafia Beach often stay out until the sun has long gone beyond the horizon.


May 18, 2007

Havens | San Clemente, Calif.

A Renaissance of Charm in a Hub of the Surfing World


IF you had walked down Avenida del Mar in San Clemente, Calif., 10 years ago, you would have found a down-at-the-heels beach town that didn’t seem to have much going for it. It had a smattering of intriguing boutiques, a longtime surf shop and an excellent deli and a Jamaican restaurant, but many shops along Del Mar stood empty.

The reputation of this hideaway between San Diego and Los Angeles wasn’t much helped with the mid-1990s releases of the locally filmed surf videos “What’s Really Going On” and “What’s Really Going Wrong.” Produced by Lost Enterprises, back then an underground surfing-products company, the video gave the impression that San Clemente, the site of the “Western White House” during the Nixon administration, had become little more than a barrio of talented, drunken surfers.

But those who lived there knew better.

Local residents gloried in the rolling hills, the cliff-lined beaches with perfect surf, the epic sunsets and the temperate Mediterranean climate. So what if there weren’t many places to eat or shop? A wood-frame bungalow near the Pacific could be bought for $250,000 to $300,000, a funky 1970s triplex with plenty of rental options was going for around a half-million dollars, and a sublime beachfront cookout at San Onofre State Beach waited just down the road.

Gradually, word leaked out. And an influx of second-home buyers and retirees, local real estate agents said, have been moving to the older neighborhoods on the ocean side of Interstate 5 the last few years.

“It’s drawn a multitude of people,” said Yvonne Dougher, who with her husband, Don, bought a second home here a year and a half ago. “But it’s still more an isolated kind of beach town rather than a tourist trap.”

The transformation of Lost Enterprises into a successful surf company in the last decade has roughly mirrored the change in San Clemente. Today, the town is a center of West Coast surfing culture and one of those few corners of Southern California where, as in Malibu, development is hemmed in by protected wild areas, in this case including the Camp Pendleton Marine base.

Real estate prices have risen markedly. But if you think that same wooden bungalow is expensive today at $750,000, consider that you’re likely to find absolutely nothing for that price just 15 miles up the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.

The Scene

Avenida del Mar, the town’s main drag, is riding the wave of San Clemente’s renaissance, which was spurred by a booming coastal real estate market and a 4,000-home, Spanish-style inland residential development called Talega. In many ways, though, San Clemente, especially west of Interstate 5, is still rough around the edges and relishes its surfer-in-flip-flops sensibility. Most of the country’s major surf magazines are based there, as are a healthy number of executives at the world’s top surf companies.

Norb Garrett, editor of the weekly San Clemente Times and a former publishing director at Surfer, Skateboarder and Snowboarder magazines, said Talega was a catalyst for change. “Suddenly there were homes that young families could get into and bring a much younger spirit,” he said. “The town had to respond, and it’s brought a ton of good new restaurants and boutiques.”

Avenida del Mar today is a pedestrian-friendly area of boutiques, galleries and up-and-coming places like the BeachFire, a popular restaurant, bar and surf-art gallery. Along the Pacific Coast Highway, near the tiny, original Lost surf shop, talk has turned to the multibillion-dollar shopping and residential development known as Marblehead Coastal and the possible renovation of the long-defunct Miramar, a dilapidated Spanish Colonial-style theater and casino at the town’s north end.

Scott Nelligan, 56, a film distributor and real estate developer from Costa Mesa, has been working with the owner of the Lab, a shopping complex there, on a renovation of the Miramar that would include retail space, a theater and a boutique hotel. He said he hoped to buy as a second home one of the 160 or so Spanish-style cottages sprinkled around the center of San Clemente. These were built in the late 1920s by San Clemente’s founder, Ole Hanson, who dreamed of building a Spanish village by the sea.

“I’ve always wanted to live here,” Mr. Nelligan said. “So why not buy one of these original Spanish-revival homes?”

Mike Cotter, a real estate agent and president of San Clemente’s historical society, said Mr. Nelligan’s search may take awhile. “The Ole Hansons usually get snatched up quickly and cost from $900,000 to $2.8 million,” he said. “There are rarely more than two or three on the market at a time.”

John Brincko, who specializes in turning around troubled companies and lives in Los Angeles, said he and his wife, Debbie Waadt-Brincko, were drawn to the challenging waves and serene scene around Califia State Beach at the town’s southern end.

They recently spent $1.55 million for a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom condo with an ocean view in what was once a huge late 1920s bluff-top home. They said they planned to spend a lot of time here with their 13-year-old son, gazing at the surfers, picnicking families and sunsets.

“My mother has a place on the bluffs at Malibu,” Mr. Brincko said, “but we like it so much better here. It’s a real community with a lot of old-time, funky charm.”


A perfect climate and a clean ocean fronted by cliffside trails along sandy beaches are among San Clemente’s assets. Just to the south of town are Trestles and San Onofre, two legendary surf spots.


Even though San Clemente is more affordable than many California beach towns, a median home price of more than $800,000 makes it far from cheap. The town’s acreage is nearly built out, but Talega, Marblehead Coastal and more development along San Clemente’s northern and eastern fringes will mean that generally sticky traffic will probably become even thicker.

The Real Estate Market

San Clemente real estate began to surge in 2000, agents said, after a decade in which the average price neared $300,000, with the market finally cooling in 2005.

According to a survey in April of the Multiple Listing Service by Mr. Cotter, the median home price in San Clemente is $842,000, a 7 percent drop from $905,000 in April 2006. Total home sales in April 2006 were 71, versus 55 last month.

Mr. Garrett of The San Clemente Times said that houses on the ocean side are in a seemingly random mix of styles — from Ole Hanson to Craftsman to bland 1970’s stuccos.

Some of the larger stuccos are two- to four-unit apartment complexes. Mr. Cotter said these have become an attractive option because the owner can rent out the spare apartments for $1,000 to $2,000 a month.

That was the route taken by the Doughers, semiretired owners of a mobile-home park. Parents of two children ages 8 and 11, they split their time between their 7,000-square-foot house in San Diego and their 1,200-square-foot master unit in a triplex they bought in San Clemente for $1.1 million. Ms. Dougher walks regularly to the beach, coffee shops and the local farmers’ market.

“I lived here 10 years ago, and the town was all run down and full of thrift stores,” she said. “Now they’re taking all those stores and turning them into surf shops, boutiques and nice shops. It’s turned into quite a little retreat.”

Lay of the Land

POPULATION 60,235, according to a 2005 estimate by the Census Bureau.

SIZE 18.4 square miles.

LOCATION The southernmost tip of Orange County, between Los Angeles and San Diego.

WHO’S BUYING Young upper-income families are moving to the areas around Talega. Second-home buyers include well-to-do surfers and beach lovers from areas as diverse as suburban inland Orange County, Malibu, Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego. Retirees are buying, too.

GETTING THERE The nearest airports are John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Long Beach Airport and San Diego International. Direct flights run from major cities in the East to all three airports. San Clemente is on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route.

WHILE YOU’RE LOOKING For a true luxury hotel, there’s the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (1 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Dana Point; 949-240-2000; www.ritzcarlton.com), eight miles up the road. Rooms are $375 to $875 in spring. The Beachcomber Motel (533 Avenida Victoria, 949-492-5457; www.beachcombermotel.com) is funky; it has small, well-kept rooms ($140 to $375) and terrific views of the Pacific and San Clemente Pier.

(l) (l) Wished I had bought when I lived here back in 1981!

:o The town is also just north of a huge marine base - Camp Pendleton. When I lived there, some of the marines certainly did not act like gentlemen with their cat-calling and drunken pawing at me and my friends while dining out at town restaurants and visiting other businesses.

I am sure all of that nonsense is changed now. ;)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 12:10 PM


May 20, 2007

The Remix

Denver’s Mile-High Style


When Jennifer Roberts opened Composition (1) in 2003, a modern design store was a hard sell in Denver. The city was still driven by outdoor sports; few went looking for Karim Rashid piggy banks. “I was a few years too early,” says Roberts of her shop (7180 W. Alaska Drive, Belmar; 303-894-0025). But, with Daniel Libeskind's museum complete, one by David Adjaye on the way and a handful of major hotels scheduled to open in the next three years, Denver is emerging as a style-conscious city with great shopping. Along with the three-year-old fashion boutique Skye (2) (1499 Blake Street; 303-623-0444), still the only game in town for avant-garde labels like Alexandre Herchcovitch and Heatherette, there's the Fabric Lab (3105 East Colfax Avenue; 303-321-3604) and Fancy Tiger (1 South Broadway; 303-733-3855). Both cater to hipsters interested in reworked vintage clothes and printed tees from local labels like Potential Fashions and Hecklewood. And in the fast-gentrifying downtown, the high-end sneaker shop the 400 (3) opened a second Denver location (2445 Larimer Street; 303-292-2646), near the former Brooklynite Paul Hardt's gallery and furniture shop, P Design Gallery (4) (2590 Walnut Street; 720-259-2516), which has introduced Coloradans to the likes of Tobi Wong and FredriksonStallard.

(f) (f)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 12:11 PM
;) ;)

The Goldberg Air-Conditioner CW!!!

Back in 1946 the 3 Goldberg brothers, Norman, Hyman, and Max
invented and developed the first automobile air-conditioner.
On July 17th, 1946, the temperature in Detroit was 97º.
The three brothers walked into old man Henry Ford's office and
sweet-talked his secretary into telling him that three gentlemen
were there with the most exciting innovation in the auto industry
since the electric starter.

Henry was curious and invited them into his office. They refused
and instead asked that he come out to the parking lot to their car.
They persuaded him to get into the car which was about 130º --
turned on the air conditioner and cooled the car off immediately.
The old man got very excited and invited them back to the office,
where he offered them three million dollars for the patent.

The brothers refused saying they would settle for two million but they
wanted the recognition by having a label "The Goldberg Air-Conditioner"
on the dashboard of each car that it was installed in. Now old man Ford
was more than just a little bit Anti-Semitic, and there was no way he was
going to put the Goldberg's name on two million Ford cars. They haggled
back and forth for about two hours and finally agreed on four million
dollars and that just their first names would be shown.

And so, even today, all Ford air-conditioners show on the controls,
the names "Norm, Hi, & Max."

;) ;)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

05-20-2007, 12:14 PM
(y) (y) (y)



Lemon Sale


May 16, 2007; Page A21

Early in the explorations by Daimler AG about detaching its
Chrysler tar baby, it discussed the possibility of a deal with
General Motors. GM apparently expressed a willingness to consider
this, but only if Daimler would pay it for taking over Chrysler,
rather than vice versa.

With due respect to the sagacity of Stephan Feinberg and his
colleagues at Cerberus Capital Management, GM may have done its
sums better than they. Paying $7.4 billion for approximately 80% of
Chrysler, plus assuming $18 billion in employee benefit
liabilities, reflects not merely turnaround optimism; it may cross
the frontier into foolhardiness.

From the standpoint of financial outcomes, there are two kinds of
auto makers: momentum companies and hit-driven companies. A
momentum auto maker enjoys strong consumer confidence, produces
sound but usually unflashy vehicles, and is very good at the
blocking-and-tackling aspects of the business, both technical and
managerial. Toyota and Honda are momentum auto makers; so are BMW
and PSA, Volvo and Subaru too, on a smaller scale. GM used to be
one and so was Nissan, but both committed a cascade of managerial
and product gaffes that erased their momentum and dropped them into
auto-maker purgatory.

Hit-driven auto makers are like toymakers whose backlog of older
product is too weak to smooth their road from year to year. If a
toymaker has lots of perennial strong sellers like a Barbie or a
Monopoly it can weather a year without a new Tickle Me Elmo. If it
doesn't, though, every season must include at least one home run or
financial performance will be a roller coaster.

Chrysler has been the epitome of a hit-driven company for more than
50 years. At its ultimate perigee in the late 1970s, buffeted by an
extensive new-product losing streak and the unusual expenses of
meeting new fuel economy and safety standards, it was headed for
bankruptcy. A modest federal loan guarantee and some artificial
respiration from the UAW gave newly arrived CEO Lee Iacocca time
for some inspired improvisational first aid -- and ultimately the
introduction of a real home run product, the first front-wheel-
drive, garageable, car-based minivan.

Then the new product pipeline dried up, the numbers headed south
and Chrysler seemed perigee-bound again. Somehow Mr. Iacocca's team
not only managed a reprise of its earlier rabbit-from-the-hat trick
but did it with a trifecta of hit products: the muscular Ram pick-
up, the civilized Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and the so-called "cab-
forward" sleek Dodge Intrepid midsize sedan. Chrysler became
suddenly the most profitable auto maker on the planet.
Unfortunately the gush of profits began to flow only after the
Chrysler board, mistakenly convinced that Mr. Iacocca had lost his
fastball, handed him the proverbial gold watch and replaced him
with Robert Eaton, freshly imported from General Motors.

Mr. Eaton encountered a paradox: Buyers were flooding the
dealerships for the spiffy new vehicles developed under Mr.
Iacocca's leadership, yet by any objective evaluation -- fit and
finish, product durability and reliability, or plant productivity
-- Chrysler was a basket case. He assumed that fixing these
problems was of higher priority than new hits. This was a big
mistake but Mr. Eaton turned out to be the luckiest man in Motown.
At the 1998 Detroit Motor Show Daimler-Benz chairman Jürgen
Schrempp button-holed him, apparently out of the blue, to propose
the great transnational auto maker that would be created by
exchanging Daimler shares for Chrysler shares.

Herr Schrempp's penance for undertaking the least diligent due
diligence in recent corporate history was spending $36 billion on
an acquisition which almost instantly plummeted deeply into the
red. It was making better quality vehicles more efficiently, thanks
to Bob Eaton's efforts, but hardly anyone wanted them. The magic
had vanished and despite heroic efforts by Dieter Zetsche,
parachuted in from Stuttgart in 2000 to turn things around, it has
not returned.

Even mini-hits like the Chrysler 300, th