Argo Echoes

I saw Argo yesterday.   Excellent and riveting film.   Gripping and very very sad.  

I thought of my Iranian friends, the green movement of 2009, the hatred, the fear - the sense that in over 30 years nothing has changed.   I felt like I was 14 again.  Even the Warner Brother logo was the old one from those years.  I remember when those six were on the news.  I remember those yellow ribbons - the first yellow ribbons.  I remember writing an essay about the hostage crisis.  I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that the hostages had been released 20 minutes after Reagan was inaugurated.   I remember when the Iran Contra scandal broke and with it the rumors that Reagan had illegally and treasonously negotiated with Iran for their release after his election, to secure his election.   And in return he'd sell them weapons to fund his illegal war in Central America.  

Nearly my entire conscious political life has been influenced, if not animated, by tensions with and within the Middle East - 3 wars, terrorist attacks, 9/11.

I wept during the film and after.

Here is a fascinating interview with Tony Mendez, a quiet hero, with Fareed Zakaria last week ----

Analysis of Upcoming Debates

James Fallow's cover article for The Atlantic does what he did four years ago.   He analyzes the upcoming presidential debates.  (The dates are already on my calendar and are on October 3, October 16 and October 22nd.  The VP debate is on October 11th).  

His report, titled Slugfest is worth reading in full (also for the laugh out loud moments he reminds us of from previous debates).  

His main point:

One more factor is working against Obama in the debates. When the economy is bad and an incumbent is beset, the challenger’s task is simplified. He doesn’t need to belabor the case against the incumbent. Reality has already done that; everyone knows what’s wrong with the president they have now. All the challenger has to do is say: “Look me over. I’ll be okay in this job. You can feel comfortable with me.” This is what Ronald Reagan did in 1980, and Bill Clinton in 1992. Meanwhile, the incumbent has to work twice as hard, in order to make two arguments at once. He must prove something about himself: that, while battered, he’s still energetic, visionary, and up to the job. He must also prove something about his opponent: that he is bad for the country, unready, and overall worse.
And he must do all this without seeming defensive or tense; while appearing easily in command to those who see images without hearing words; and, in Obama’s uniquely straitjacketed case, while avoiding the slightest hint of being an “angry black man.”
Regarding Romney:
His strengths, again, are faultless preparation, crisp and precise expression, a readiness both to attack and to defend, and an ability to stay purely on message. His weaknesses are thin factual knowledge on many policy issues, a preference to talk in generalities—and a palpable awkwardness when caught unprepared and forced to improvise.
On Romney's biggest weakness: 
 “He gets prickled when he sees debates moving away from what he is prepared for,” Steve Bogden said. “He feels a need to be in character; and without planning, he doesn’t know what his character would say.” A man who worked closely with Romney in his years as governor told me, “He has strong core family values, and religious values. But he doesn’t really have core policy values. If you’re busy trying to remember what to say, it is harder to come across convincingly.”
And about President Obama, Fellows writes,
And what of the president? His advantages are obvious. He is the president; he has been on this stage before; there is almost no question or criticism he has not heard and handled in the past four years. Moreover, the consistent evidence about Romney’s strengths and weaknesses simplifies Obama’s strategy for attack. “It is very important to unbalance Romney,” as Robert Reich put it. “When you have someone who is that scripted and wooden, you have to push him into spontaneity”—with a factual-knowledge point, a new sort of criticism, or a policy choice that somehow Romney has not yet thought through. 
The main “known” of these debates is that they will probably matter. One major unknown is whether they will matter mainly because of a positive revelation, like Mitt Romney’s demonstrating, as Ronald Reagan did against Jimmy Carter, that he is a comfortable figure to whom people unhappy with Barack Obama can turn. Or because of a negative one, like Richard Nixon’s sweaty discomfort in 1960, Gerald Ford’s misstatement about Poland’s freedom in 1976, or Dan Quayle’s comparing himself to John F. Kennedy in 1988.   
Each candidate has strong incentives to “go negative.” The fundamental logic of Mitt Romney’s campaign is that the Obama administration has placed America on the wrong track. Probably in every debate, he will say: “The president said he would fix the economy; he didn’t; he has to go.” Barack Obama has no choice but to argue that, as bad as things might be now, under Romney and a Tea Party–powered Republican government they would be much worse.
In my view, Obama should compare the US economy to the rest of the world's (particularly Europe's), and not to try to compare to George W Bush or to what might happen.   He should point out that the policies Romney is proposing were tried - in Great Britain, and those conservatives are not fxcking nuts as ours are!   

Wow! A Friend's Choreography is Praised

I was not well enough to be able to attend either of my friend Stefanie's performances, but she promised me videos.   About a month ago I took my first dance class in years with her.   Her class was fun and fascinating and a wonderful experience.   And I managed not to completely embarrass myself.

So I was keen to see the performances this past weekend and very sorry to be unable to attend.   But I am so proud of her.

 Check out

this review

from today's Washington Post, which starts with

The Washington area is home to a veritable rainbow of ethnic dance troupes. You want Armenian folk dancers? You can probably find them, swirling around at a festival somewhere. A far rarer find is a choreographer who can successfully fuse ethnic traditions with modern technique and package everything into a performance that a wide audience will find compelling.
Stefanie Diahann Belnavis, a young Jamaican American dancer, may be one of those of those choreographers. 

I'm thrilled and happy for her.  The rest of the review is just awesome too and ends with this praise:

The second half of the show was pure performance art. “Sighted” explores Belnavis’s loss of vision in one eye. After exiting the theater for intermission, audience members were led back in small groups, following an onstage trail through a maze of lights. Dancers clicked the bulbs on and off. Televisions buzzed with static and black-and-white video of Belnavis describing her limited vision. For a choreographer with impaired vision, she offers viewers much to see.

She is leaving soon - moving to Cambridge to pursue her master's in Dance Movement Therapy and Mental Health Counseling at Lesley University.   Good luck beautiful lady!  

Morgan Freeman Discusses His Fibromyalgia

Esquire features an lengthy interview with Morgan Freeman, This Earth That Holds Me Fast Will Find Me Breath.

Here is the money quote, emphasis added:

Every so often he grabs his left shoulder and winces. It hurts when he walks, when he sits still, when he rises from his couch, and when he missteps in a damp meadow. More than hurts. It seems a kind of agony, though he never mentions it. There are times when he cannot help but show this, the fallout from a car accident four years ago, in which the car he was driving flipped and rolled, leaving Freeman and a friend to be pulled from the car using the Jaws of Life. Despite surgery to repair nerve damage, he was stuck with a useless left hand. It is stiffly gripped by a compression glove most of the time to ensure that blood doesn't pool there. It is a clamp, his pain, an icy shot up a relatively useless limb. He doesn't like to show it, but there are times when he cannot help but lose himself to a world-ending grimace. It's such a large gesture, so outside the general demeanor of the man, that it feels as if he's acting. 
"It's the fibromyalgia," he says when asked. "Up and down the arm. That's where it gets so bad. Excruciating." 
This means Morgan Freeman can't pilot jets the way he used to, a hobby he took up at sixty-five. He can no longer sail as well. There was a time when he would sail by himself to the Caribbean and hide out for two, three weeks at a time. "It was complete isolation," he says. "It was the best way for me to find quiet, how I found time to read." No more. He can't trust himself on one arm. He can't drive, not a stick anyway, not the way he used to — which is to say fast, wide open, dedicated to what the car can do. And he can't ride horses as much, though once he rode every day.
He never mentions any of it as a loss, though how could it be anything else? He never hints around about the unfairness of it. "There is a point to changes like these. I have to move on to other things, to other conceptions of myself. I play golf. I still work. And I can be pretty happy just walking the land."
My mom would have appreciated this revelation.

Oh La La! An Exciting Photographer in NYC

Christa Meola is another photographer; Natasha Lakos developed her visual identity as well.  

Christa is based in New York City, and I've already contacted her about doing my photos.  

She is writing a book on how to look great naked, which I just love love love.   She specializes in boudoir photography.  

I also loved and watched the interview she did with Nate, the creator of Sticky Albums which gave me a bunch of great ideas for my own new business.  I've corresponded with him about my ideas, and I can hardly wait to get started.

And to have some sexy pictures taken!    

Lovely Paris Photographer

Carla Loves Photography and Italy and Paris and Life.  And I love her.

The wonderful talent, Natasha Lakos, who will be doing my visual identity for my new business venture launching early next year also did Carla's.

Since discovering Carla I have spent a lot of time on her site and even ordered her book - Italian Joy - which is really a joy!

I also love the before and after shots here.

And I also love that she told me about this exhibit here in DC on Amelia Earhart at the National Portrait Gallery.  Very cool.

I've not been to Paris since 1988, but next time I am there I am going to try and have Carla do a Paris photo shoot with me.

She's an Aussie too, always a good sign in my book!   They are the best.

Check out her site.

Sisters Cut Hair, Get Into Trouble

Jeff Cohen, an NPR reporter, interviewed his two young daughters to get to the bottom of what happened when Sadie, age 5, cut Eva's hair, age 3.  

The results of the interview are amazing.

When Sadie examined her work she knew "uh oh this is bad, bad, bad, bad."  I also like how Eva said her hair was itching her hips!

Click here to listen to the brief interview.

I promise you will smile.

Ira Glass - How to Be a Storyteller

Ira Glass discusses the building blocks of story telling for television and radio.

He stresses the power of the anecdote, the sequence of events, with thoughts and ideas as part of it but the essence of this leading to that.   And how to create suspense and hear and feel through the form that something is going to happen.

Reminds me of old time radio which WAMU 88.5 used to play on Sunday nights.  I do enjoy his show.

Here is part 1:

He discusses how to find a good story here (this predates the retraction and fiasco of Mike Daisy and the Apple China factory)

On good taste, and how to develop good material

On two central pitfalls, how to talk like yourself, be yourself and also how be interested in others and in the world