Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This Commercial (for Cyberknife) Gives the Prostrate Finger Way Too Often

Camilla Paglia is the Ann Coulter of the Left

Camilla Paglia is out with new interviews recently (absolutely no link).  Like Ann Coulter, she is annoyed that people don't listen to her.  So she says more and more outrageous things.
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And like Ann Coulter, I will not like or hype their sad sad stories.
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It is a race to see which one of these women will light their hair on fire first in order to claim someone is trying to kill them.
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Go safely.

Hamilton Deserves the Hype

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton extolling Freedom
So, wow!
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After a sold out run at the Public (which I missed - see "sold out"), "Hamilton" opens on Broadway in a week or so.  It is in previews now, but since the show recently moved, "previews" are a bit of a misnomer.  The cast is seasoned.  There are a few new numbers, big, better staging and nicer theater, but they are ready.
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And the show has been way hyped.  President Obama and daughters saw it last week (Michelle had seen it at the Public).  Sunday Joe Biden and Angela Lansbury were there.  When Eddie and I went, Whoopi Goldberg was a row behind us and Billy Crystal a row in front.  It is "the thing".
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And so I was prepared to be disappointed.  I mean you know something is suppose to be fantastic, it rarely lives up to all the hype.
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Hamilton did.  And then some.
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It is based on the book Hamilton by Ron Chernow.  Then Lin-Manuel Miranda read the book and was inspired.   Turns our Lin-Manuel is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and Hamilton was an immigrant from Saint Kitts (also in the Caribbean).  They both overcame their poor childhoods by writing and working harder than anyone elese..
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So Lin-Manuel turned Hamilton's story - and the story of OUR revolution - into a Hip Hop Musical Drama that is amazing.  I wish they could transport every child in America to this theater for a day.  This tells the story of the fight for freedom and the fight to come up with a government that works in a unique interesting and relevant way.  The story follows history amazingly well.  And, let me say first off, I am not a giant fan of rap or hip-hop.  So for this old foggie to like it is something.
That is George Washington on the balcony.  Everyone is great.  Third from the left is Daveed Diggs - who is spectacular
And it is a fantastic musical to boot.  Emotional, stirring, it is our Le Miz without the annoying kids and over-ballad-izing.
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Wow!
Annie Lebowitz glamour shot of Lin-Manuel and Jonathan Groff - who is HILARIOUS as King George

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ah - The End Game Becomes Apparent

Faux sad faces all around Ankara these days.  Turkish President Erdogan has figured out how to game the system - and pull US support along.
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The Turkish President earlier this year called for a governmental election.  His hope was to up his majority to a 2/3 super-majority so that he could change the Constitution and give the Presidency more power.  (He had already termed out as Prime Minister).
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Unfortunately for him, but excellently for Turkish Democracy, his party not only missed the 2/3 mark, it lost their majority.  They won the most seats, but will need a coalition party to govern.
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On July 9th, Erdogan officially asked the Majority Party to make a government, which gives them 45 days.  We are twenty days into that - how can he "fix" it?
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The biggest surprise in all of this was the success of the HDP (the People's Democratic Party), which has a voter base in the Kurdish Turks, city-based liberals and women.  Remember "liberal" in Turkey isn't "liberal" as we we think of it - it is more 'no head scarf / let women vote / let Kurds participate' type of liberal.
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Anyway, this was a breakthrough.  Not just because the HDP did so well, but because the President and ruling party were letting them take their seats in Parliament!  It was a huge, democratic step forward.
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Cut to this week.  President Erdogan finally has allowed the US to use the NATO bases in Turkey to attack ISIS.  This reduces flight times by many hours.  Previously, Turkey did not exactly support ISIS, but ISIS' enemies were also Turkey's enemies - Syria, Iran and Iraq (basically the Shia coalition).  They didn't support ISIS, but didn't do a lot to stop them.

The Kurds in Iraq have long been the "good guys" in the US eyes.  But Turkey has a Kurd problem of their own, and doesn't support Kurdish self-determination anywhere.
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Then, last week, a bomb was set off in a Kurdish city in Turkey, Suruc.  It was an ISIS suicide attack, that Turkey built up as both ISIS and a Kurdish attack (even though those two are mortal enemies and have never worked together).
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So the other day, Turkey approved US bombing from their bases.  And Turkey started bombing ISIS with the US.  The same day they bombed ISIS, they also bombed our allies against ISIS - the Kurds in Iraq.  As you can image, the Kurds in Turkey were pretty much outraged.
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So Erdogan and his party have said that the Kurds that don't support the government are terrorist and terrorist supporters.  And, of course, no terrorist supporter should be seated in Parliament.  Which would once again give his party a majority and control of government.
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The US and Europe, which should be the first to condemn this, don't want to rock the boat, because they can finally use Turkish AirBases for bombing runs.  So the question becomes (in an area with no good answers) - are we ready to accept multiple Kurdish deaths (our allies) in order to use bases to kill more ISIS fighters.  And, knowing the American attention span - I can guess the sad and pathetic answer.
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This map is about a year old, but mainly correct.  It underestimates the ISIS control a bit.  Turkey bombed ISIS in Raqqa (the semi "capital") and the Kurds in the grey area in Iraq.

I am not a talking point

Monday, July 27, 2015

I am Fascinated with Donald Trump

The longer he sticks around on our political stage, the more fascinated I am by Donald Trump.
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50 Shade of Donald

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to vote for him or anything, but I find the whole thing fascinating.  I think it is easy to understand how people can support him.  It is harder for me to figure out how supporters ignore the negative or stupid.  But maybe the outlets they follow (i.e. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh) don't share his full craziness.
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His pros are easy.
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The man says things that other politicians hint at.  Scott Walker was busy last month knocking immigrants, even legal immigrants.  Donald's posturing and ranting is repeating those same right wing talking points.  Without the mushiness of political correctness.  So he comes across as honest.  To me, honest, wrong and an idiot.  But to people who share his  mindset that immigrants are bad, he just comes across as honest.
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As for the John McCain debacle: (For my non-US readers, he said John McCain wasn't a war hero in his eyes.  Donald likes fighters that weren't captured.  His words.)  Well he wasn't the first that said this about John McCain.  George W. Bush conducted an entire South Carolina primary campaign on the basis that John McCain wasn't a hero and probably fathered a black child out of wedlock and hid the truth away.  Karl Rove and George Bush denied they were behind it at the time, and now it is just chalked up to "hard hitting politics".
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His anti-Politician stance plays great in the country.  Not only aren't politicians popular, the Republican Party has been telling the base they are the bad guys since Ronald Reagan - who can forget his comments that the Government IS the problem.  Or when he said the most frightening words in the English language were "I'm from the Government.  I'm here to help."  A non-politician is the end solution if that is how you define the problem.
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Those of us in New York know he is a blowhard and thin-skinned guy who cannot take any criticism.  But outside of New York (and cities where his "properties" have left investors high and dry) he has been built up as a businessman and celebrity.  He has taken those personas and added the talking points of the Republican Party.  Of course he is doing well.
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I see him a bit as Frankenstein's Monster.  Dr. Frankenstein (in this case the Republican Party and Fox News) created the perfect attack creature.  They are now freaking out that the Monster is destroying everything in its path, not just Democrats.
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I can't be mad at Donald being Donald anymore than you can be mad that Frankenstein's Monster went on a rampage.
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Now you just go attack Hillary.  Ok?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Because... well only the top 10 get into the first debate - and it is hard to outcrazy Trump

Oye.
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I don't like to Birtbart. Find it yourself.
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For my non-American readers - We have 16 Republican Candidates for President, but only the top 10 in polls will get invited to the first debate.  So our third and fourth tier candidates are outdoing themselves with hyperbole in order to raise their poll numbers.

Friday, July 24, 2015

My desire to garden and my desire to avoid bugs conflict

I am in a conundrum.  You see, the Hudson Valley / lower Connecticut area is between and I would love to have a land with space where I could garden.
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Seriously, you could do beautiful things out here.  I enjoyed it in California, but it was very hot and very dry and not easy to make beautiful gardens.
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Unfortunately, many of those same positives that make the New York area so great for gardening cause other problems.
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It is wetter and more temperate in the summer here.  Which leads to beautiful gardens.  And bugs.
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I loath bugs.
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And I don't mean just LA bugs, like flies and gnats and the random cockroach.  I mean mean bugs that eat you; mosquitoes, ticks and bitting flies.
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And I freak out with ticks and mosquitoes.  I mean freak the hell out!  I don't like bugs that try to get in me and suck out the blood.
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It gives me the hibbie jeebies.  And so I think my desire for a bucolic country life will be forever a dream, until we move to England or something.  Because bugs are gross!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What We Missed All These Years: A Discussion

Jon Stewart and President Obama, both in their final laps, meet the other night on The Daily Show.  I wish everyone could have seen it.
Just 2 guys sitting around bullshitting.
The first 1/3 was the basic sell for the Iran Deal in a way that made sense (I thought - but I already buy it), but that wasn't the great thing for me.
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For me, it was the second 2/3s of the show.  Where two very intelligent guys put down their personas a bit and talked about politics, politicians and the media.  And, with nothing to lose, they didn't do it to score points.  Stewart retires in a few weeks and President Obama retires in 18 months.  And these gentlemen didn't have to keep up appearances.
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President Obama discussed the use of "talking points" in a way that was intelligent - and Stewart pushed back when it was overdone.
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It wasn't a softball interview - because no one was selling.  And it wasn't a hard hitting interview, because there wasn't much disagreement basically.  But it was intelligent conversation about the state of affairs in America and it was cool.  It was positive and uplifting.
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Hindsight is 20/20, so I will forsake the "maybe if"s and the "if only"s.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Honey... on the Catwalk


LINK if you are looking for this article....
No not THAT catwalk.
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He was on the new catwalk above the Tennis Center.  They are putting a roof on the US Open, and they are about 1/2way done.  Today, my honey, who doesn't like heights, walked and took pictures of the view.
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I am surprised he didn't drop the camera, his palms get a little sweaty with heights.
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The seats, from the roof.

The View east

RIP E.L. Doctorow - and the bizarre path he set me on

Author E.L. Doctorow passed away yesterday.  I have read quite a few books by him.  I believe it was my mother who suggested I read Ragtime when it came out.  If not his best work, it is the most indicative of his style.
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Mr. Doctorow usually layered multiple stories on top of a historical setting.  In Ragtime, for example, there was the melodramatic story of a turn of the 1900s family, laid over the "Trial of the Century" for the murder of Sanford White by a jealous husband.  But the primary story was of a proud African American man, who was courting the maid, and his car.  Only it wasn't really about the car at all, but about his attempt to be treated as an equal, and the impossibility of it.  Ragtime deals with the issues of race, family love, murder, tabloids and the limits of accommodation.  I never saw the play, the musical or the movie, because there would be no way to capture the entirety of the book.  And that is okay.
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I read a few more of his, The World's Fair and Billy Bathgate, but his prose gradually moved (for me) from being enchanting to over-wrought and I stopped reading him altogether.
 
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That is, oddly enough, until last year when I picked up Homer and Langly and read the slim volume during our trip to St. Barts.  It was the first time I wanted one of his books to be longer and more dense, given it was all I had to read during a hurricane, once my iPad ran out of power!
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Funny how the world works and connections are made, however.  Since reading Ragtime, I have been a bit obsessed with Sanford White, the architect.  New York (city and state) is FULL of Sanford's work.  Including the French Embassy (previous post) and many other Guilded Age mansions.  He also did the Washington Square Arch.
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The Washington Square Arch - when completed.

This is the 2nd Madison Square Garden Building.  It was in this building, after a performance, that Mr. White was shot!
The second Madison Square Garden.
The famous statue of Diana on top of the Garden
Finally - in the "full circle of life" territory, we are investigating buying a new house on West End Ave (11th) and 60th.  It would be across the street from an amazing power plant designed by Sanford White that is still there (and will never been removed - at least while I am alive).  Go figure.
The power station near completion.  Our possible new condo is at the right hand corner (where the little white building is now).

The Albertine Bookstore

The other day,  Ed and I were walking down 5th Ave when we passed the French Consulate.  We admired the outside (like we always do).  Here is a picture of the outside.  I didn't take this, I have taken many.  It was designed by Sanford White.
Both buildings are part of the French Embassy (an Embassy because of the UN).  The right part was designed by Sanford White.)
On the right above, where the flags are, is an entrance to an amazing bookstore, The Albertine (link).  Ed and I hadn't ever seen it before.
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The inside is amazing as it is on two floors.  The bottom is normal, with a few cutouts in the ceiling, but the ceiling on the second floor is beautifully painted.  Here are some pictures followed by the information from the web site.
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Fist floor books, with hanging lights.

First light fixture from picture above, with view towards second floor ceiling.

Second floor ceiling (and view in second floor).
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From their web site:
The bookshop within the mansion was born in 2014, and its interiors were created by celebrated French designer Jacques Garcia (Chateau du Champ de Bataille in Normandy, France and The NoMad Hotel in New York City).
Albertine’s ceiling – a hand-painted mural of constellations, stars, and planets — was modeled after the extraordinary ceiling of the music room at the Villa Stuck in Munich, Germany, crafted by Franz von Stuck (1863-1928).
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Also we took a picture of the entrance, which was cool.  But I read about later and it is fascinating!!!!
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Entrance to building, with bookshop in the back.  The bookstore was only opened in 2014.
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Story:
The centerpiece of the entrance of the building is a replica of Michelangelo’s Young Archer. The original had been in the lobby of the mansion for decades until it was discovered to be a Michelangelo in 2009. To our knowledge, it is the only Michelangelo statue on American soil. It is currently on loan at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.