Friday, May 13, 2011
In America the beautiful, the only country I really know, lies and liars are embedded in our history.
(I'm remembering some of my lies. Age 15, I told "Dance Magazine" that I was a college grad, and worked as its advertising manager till they asked for my credentials so that they could give me a raise. Telling the truth, was not my tradition back in my job hunting days.)
So, did the practice in our country start before or after Nixon's wiretapping and Watergate scandal, and President Nixon's resignation so he wouldn't be impeached?
On TV, we have Pat Buchanan, ex-senior adviser to Nixon, author, syndicated columnist, commenting and advising us -- despite his somewhat shady background -- about what's happening in politics and what to believe in.
Former President Bill Clinton blatantly lied, under oath, about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and in 1998, he became the second president in U.S. history to be impeached. (Andrew John son was the first.) Even so, Clinton's become a beloved statesman, and often represents America in major national and international venues.
Barry Bonds, the "home run king" was probably on steroids, but he's been acquitted twice by juries deciding he wasn't on steroids.
(I've sympathized with Barry. There were "leading dancer" exaggerations in my program bio that was given to audiences wherever I performed with my Dance Drama Company. It was occasionally embarrassing -- I name-dropped my work with Martha Graham and George Balanchine, though I was never officially part of his or her company.)
Lies, when you're coming up in the world, are often considered expedient. Martha Stewart, authority on homemaking, and heroine for many women, manufactured proof that she wasn't involved with "insider" trading, " and she was convicted and jailed for it.
The Kennedy family ... They were not the beautiful family that they presented to us -- JFK, RFK, Joe, and Ted -- their illicit affairs were a well-known, fascinating, sort of hush-hush, national sham. And Ethel and certainly Jackie participated, by playing "happy, loving wives."
Now we've got Cheney still praising the lies that President George told. And Bush-the-elder lied to help President Reagan's cover-up, and substantiate Oliver North's lies. No doubt about it -- lies breed lies.
On and on goes the liar's list, with well-established writers' names on it.
James Frey's book, "A Million Little Pieces," was a bestseller, thanks to Oprah Winfrey, till Oprah learned that parts of the book had been fabricated. Stephen Glass, writing for the New Republic Magazine was fired for creating fake facts, fake websites and phony sources. A New York Times reporter was fired when he was caught plagiarizing and making up parts of his stories. A Washington Post reporter had to return her Pulitzer Prize -- she made up the entire "true" story of a drug addicted eight-year-old, but sold the movie rights to it.
Win some, loose some ... Some lies put money in the bank.
How in the world can we hope that school kids aren't seeing, learning, absorbing the fact that some very great, respected, successful men and women have lied, cheated, or distorted the truth.
Yes, when I was six, I colored a picture of young George Washington, cutting down a cherry tree with his hatchet. His father asked angrily, "George, did you cut down that cherry tree?" Though George was scared, he replied,."Father, I cannot tell a lie, I cut down that cherry tree."
I was impressed, but it didn't stop me from lying when I needed a job, or shading the truth as I was starting my career. Was that kind of thinking -- need -- behind Nixon's criminal behavior, or the other guys' falsifications?
My parenting, days are over, but we have to find ways to ingrain in our children the need to know and speak the truth.
(So, are there lies in my profile? No! If I can't tell the truth, or don't want to tell the truth, my tradition is to say nothing. just skip the question.)
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The show is ... well ... it's not the same. It's not quite as suspenseful, perhaps but ...
But bang -- no more Bin Laden -- royal wedding, Trump, Sheen, tornadoes, floods -- so many life and death things ... Right now, everything seems ... well ... somehow everything feels somewhat different in color/size/importance.
I watched American Idol the other night. Actually, I've never been a regular watcher. I tune in occasionally, to keep track of the latest "Idol" cultural trends which seem about the same this year, as they were last year and the year before, but ... well ... right now, the show seems to be more than ever, about who's the most sexy guy. The soprano squeals emanating from girls in the audience swooning over a male -- this one, that one -- the young, hot looking guys absolutely slayed 'em last night.
And the judges ... Executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe says the judges' opinions don't matter. But like parents, what the judges say or don't say, how they express their approval is ... well ... they're parents!
I miss the hyper-critical Simon Cowell, the British guy who invented the show. He wasn't afraid to tell a contestant his performance was lousy awful, and I miss gushy, effusive Paula Abdul cha-cha wriggling around, making zany, flirty comments.
New judge, Jennifer Lopez ... I'm not a fan, but J'Lo's behaving very intelligently, being quite friendly, down-to-earth in her critiques. Steven Tyler, who seems somewhat dazed or high on something, mostly spouts off unclear word-salads. Randy Jackson, every so often, tries to criticize performers gently, but as a trio ... well ... they're "nice" -- an understanding, pleasant group, that's sort of ho-hum -- teaching, guiding, and inspiring the talented would-be idols.
Actually, I think J'Lo's looks, her fabulously fitted, not immodest, but nevertheless rivetingly revealing outfits, and her surprisingly articulate, professional wisdom, probably does most of the inspiring in Idol 2011.
And then, there are the guest artists -- a new one every week. Oh yes, the talented would-be idols do their stuff, but not until we observe them being coached by a celebrity. Afterward, finally, we get the contestant's big moment -- two minutes of intensely rehearsed, choreographed singing -- belting, weeping, groaning, whispering, shouting, and orgasmic moaning.
Yes, Idol 2011 looks glittery good, but ... well ... If and when Simon Cowell's "The X Factor" talent show begins, I'll watch, but I have to admit, after all the imitators -- America's favorite models, the "biggest losers," the dancers, decorators, hair-dressers, cake-bakers ... well ... I'm not bored, but ... well ...
I have to admit that right now, my hoping, praying, wondering about the real world is distracting me from who's going to be the number one anything in show biz.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Am I worried? Are you? I've gathered the latest information on what's happening with the nuclear reactors in Japan.
"Oi Vey," I said March 11th, after the 9.0 earthquake and the very scary news about nuclear reactors in Japan being damaged. Where in the world was Fukushima? Was there danger? Was it like Chernobyl, the Russian nuclear plant disaster in the mid-eighties?
On CBS, Edwin Lyman, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, "You could have the fuel overheating and melting -- the possibility of large-scale radiological release exists!"
NBC's expert, Robert Bazell said that large-scale radiological release was very unlikely.
I figured the news was turning the Japan news into local news. Doomful predictions sell newspapers and get folks watching TV, watching ads, and earning money for the stations.
Since March there has been news about reactor cores, radiation, no electricity, contaminated water, people moving into shelters -- an ever enlarging area where people feared they might be danger.
Are things worse, or better?
I'm wondering if we're being protected from the truth by Japan, or by our own worried experts, or by nuclear power proponents in our country?
April 30th, the Wall Street Journal reported that Goshi Hosono, deputy secretary general of the Japanese Democratic party and senior aide to Japan's prime minister, said, "There is no way Tokyo or Kyoto will come into harm's way."
Hmm ... So why, last week, did the Japanese government impose a no-go zone 20 kilometres (12 miles) around the plant? Why have 85,000 people been moved to shelters?
Hosono explained that radiation levels in the damaged reactors had to be lowered before work would be carried out -- that scientists had to find ways to process water contaminated with radiation from worker's efforts to cool the reactors.
Senior Adviser Hosono said, "Workers have dumped thousands of tons of low-level radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, to the concern of other countries. Our goal is very clear: preventing further spreading of radiation into the atmosphere and into the ocean. In order to achieve that, we must restore stable cooling functions. This is extremely difficult technically."
Okay, it sounded constructive, but then I saw a video. The head guy, the top government adviser on Nuclear Power, resigned. Bursting into tears, sobbing, he said (according to an interpreter) the government was not telling the truth, the situation in Fukushima was much worse than what had been reported.
(Whoa -- was the interpreter interpreting or adding his own political point of view? Whom can you trust -- whom do you believe? )
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA.com, an atomic energy "watchdog"), in last week's update, said, "Overall, the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains very serious, but there are signs of recovery in some functions, such as electrical power and instrumentation.
I muddled my way through their report. It referred to stagnant water and the high level of radio activity in it. There were details about increasing the water supply that was being used to cool the reactor. White smoke had been seen coming from units 1, 2, and 3. The "anti- scattering agent" was being sprayed in a larger area. There was a "general decreasing trend" on restrictions on drinking water, except for one village -- especially for infants.
Is this bad news or good news about the "decreasing trend?"
The U.K. Guardian, [popular English newspaper], said: "Although it may be weeks after the radiation, levels at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant rose -- the severity level changed from five to seven -- the same level as Chernobyl in 1986."
What does this mean for us? What do our scientists, our experts, say? What about our nuclear power plants, our nuclear fuel and weapons facilities? What needs to be done to them, to protect us from future disasters that could happen here, there, anywhere in the world?
It means something is hanging over us -- we have to keep watchful eyes on whether the situation in Fukushima worsens or improves.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
The movie was "The Conspirators." John had a copy of the entire script, which included the final scene in which he had a "smallish " part.
Emily wanted to know if working with Robert Redford, the director, was special.
Without hesitation, John talks about conversation he had with Redford, the evening before the shoot. Redford knew what he wanted and what the plot needed, but didn't "direct" or "tell" John what to do.