A Haunting Melody Returns From Childhood

I heard a classical piece the other day. And it was just as haunting as when I heard it the first time--as a child. I only caught part of the name announced on the radio,
"Masquerade" and a Russian sounding composer's name.

That was enough to track it down.

I discovered that the name of the piece is "Masquerade Suite (Waltz)"
which is one of the movements from the entire suite.

And that the composer's name is Aram Khachaturian, an Armenian Russian. He is a household name in Russia. Yet, you are probably hearing his name for the first time.

But I guarantee that you have heard something he has written. Many times in your life.

He is also the composer of "The Sabre Dance."
Without knowing the title or composer, you have heard it used dozens
of times in movies and cartoons--especially in scenes where comic mischief takes place.

Topping off this discovery came the real surprise.
I've seen "2001: A Space Odyssey" over 50 times.
The legendary film primarily features classical music from Strauss.

However, there has always been one piece that stands out, again
extremely haunting. The only thing I ever knew is that it was from
an Armenian composer and no other information.

Once again, it comes from this musical genius.
From his larger work, "Gayane: Adagio"

Once you play "Masquerade Suite (Waltz)" you will listen to it over and over again.

True Grit 1969 vs. True Grit 2010

The current release of "True Grit" to most people is a new experience. They were probably not aware of an obscure movie of the same name from 1969 starring John Wayne.

In the late 60's, the release of "True Grit" was the "B" movie, the second movie you got in addition to the one you were really coming to see. However, that extra attraction instantly became one of my all-time favorites. The story was compelling, the characters were fascinating--especially Kim Darby as the headstrong girl seeking justice.

John Wayne finally won for Best Actor in the film--but it was more of a lifetime achievement award than anything else.

When the VHS became available in the early 1980's and the DVD in the late 1990's, I have watched the film over 20 times.

I believe I am quite qualified to tell you that the original is quite superior to the new version.

Elements of the story are in greater depth, the characters are better defined and the performance of the original "Mattie Ross" will blow you away.

Now that westerns have become chic again thanks to the Coen brothers, do yourself a favor and pick up the original "True Grit" and make your own decision.

The Coen brothers saw the magnificence of the original and this will fortunately encourage many of you to get hold of the original film.

The last 10 seconds of the original had people in the audience cheering.
I have never forgotten. It's worth it for the very, very ending alone.

Sarah Palin - Phony, Phony, Phony


Sarah Palin's Tuscon Tragedy Speech says more about her shortcomings than all of her publicity stunts put together.

Sarah Palin's speech the other day in which she talks about what happened in Tuscon tells you a great deal about her. It's bad enough that she was using a teleprompter when she was supposedly trying to appear heartfelt and spontaneous.

We've all heard her non-stop for the last three years and as a result, we are quite familiar with her lack of vocabulary, lack of knowledge of history and an inability to formulate an intellectual argument or concept.

From the moment she began talking, it was clear that these were not her words. They were written by somebody else, a professional speechwriter. The red flags were college level vocabulary words that she simply does not use, the sudden ability on-the-spot to quote a rather obscure statement from Ronald Reagan and the formulation of intellectual concepts beyond her grasp.

Now, everybody uses professional speechwriters including every President of the modern era.

But she has always tried to demonstrate a grass roots understanding of the common people.
And when she has used her normal shortcomings, the average people can relate to what she's saying.

If she had known what a "blood libel" even was, she probably would not have said anything about it.

But she decided to use somebody else's words to make her appear to be something she is not.

The greatest thing the Republican party can do for the Democrats is to nominate her for President.

Civil War and the Perception of Time

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.

When you are young, 5 years ago seems like a hundred years ago and
the Civil War seems like 1000 years ago.

In 1964, the British again invaded America--this time a musical invasion.
At the time, the Civil War seemed like 1000 years earlier.

But when you get into your 50's, the fact that The Beatles appeared only
100 years after the Civil War gets a bit frightening. 100 years earlier becomes
a very short period of time.

And now that the Beatles are almost 50 years old, it is even scarier.

The Civil War did not happen all that long ago.

And it still reverberates in the attitudes and perceptions of many Americans.

I just finished watching the 10-hour Ken Burns series on The Civil War.

It is very enlightening.

I've known many things about Abraham Lincoln for many years which are
covered up in most history books, especially textbooks. Some of the things are quite shocking.

He was a politician above everything else. And would go the way the wind was blowing.

Just before the Civil War broke out, a proposed 13th amendment to the Constitution would have made it illegal to create any subsequent amendment that interfered with slavery. The amendment essentially made slavery legal in the United States. This would have prevented a Civil War.

Before you start thinking, "I never heard of any such thing. You have to be making it up!," you need to do some research. It's called the Corwin Amendment.

Not only did both houses of Congress pass the amendment, it was ratified by two states.

The new politician President, Abraham Lincoln, publicly made it clear that he supported the Amendment.

The Civil War began, the amendment became irrelevant and forgotten about.

Strangely enough, it still is on the books and legally could be ratified. There have
been recent efforts to have it officially rescinded.

Hate to shock you with things like that, but there's more coming.