Welcome to this site and web log. Your host is Papa G

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Have A Great New Year

Not everything that is happening in NYC this evening is happening in Times Square, which in many ways has nothing to do with the real New York.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday Talent Redux: Jeremy Davidson

From a fan of his who went to the site BGR Design does for him.

As a spartan watcher of television, I came across the series Without A Trace. I began to follow it closely for its exceptional screen writing and subject matter selection.

My favorite episode to date, one that made a powerful statement to me, was "Penitence" in which the protagonist "MacAvoy", an inmate in prison for a crime of reactive violence, undergoes an soul transformation, redemption, and discovery of his self worth. All of this takes place in the context of the harsh codes and protocols of life in prison.

Logically I know better than to ascribe to the actor in real life the full measure and meaning of a particular character role.

Yet the issues dealt with in this episode, culminating in MacAvoy's allowing his life to be sacrificed for the care and protection of another inmate, were displayed with a convincing clarity beyond the four corners of a character role assignment. Your tone, focus and intensity put credible and convincing power behind the illustration of someone courageously aspiring to redemption under nearly impossible circumstances.

I hope that you seek additional opportunities for complex and powerful characters, difficult subjects and dilemmas of moral courage. These roles deserve a commanding and focused presence such as you delivered as MacAvoy in this episode.

Two thumbs way up to the architects of this series: exceptional in quality and ahead of its time in many of its concepts. I expect a lot from what I actively allocate time to follow. This series, and this episode in particular, delivered on a bullseye.

David in Chicago

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Musing From Frank Rich and the New York Times

There’s no reason why Obama shouldn’t return the favor by inviting him to Washington. But there’s a difference between including Warren among the cacophony of voices weighing in on policy and anointing him as the inaugural’s de facto pope. You can’t blame V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an early Obama booster, for feeling as if he’d been slapped in the face. “I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” he told The Times, but “we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most-watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”

Warren, whose ego is no less than Obama’s, likes to advertise his “commitment to model civility in America.” But as Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reminded her audience, “comparing gay relationships to child abuse” is a “strange model of civility.” Less strange but equally hard to take is Warren’s defensive insistence that some of his best friends are the gays: His boasts of having “eaten dinner in gay homes” and loving Melissa Etheridge records will not protect any gay families’ civil rights.

Equally lame is the argument mounted by an Obama spokeswoman, Linda Douglass, who talks of how Warren has fought for “people who have H.I.V./AIDS.” Shouldn’t that be the default position of any religious leader? Fighting AIDS is not a get-out-of-homophobia-free card. That Bush finally joined Bono in doing the right thing about AIDS in Africa does not mitigate the gay-baiting of his 2004 campaign, let alone his silence and utter inaction when the epidemic was killing Texans by the thousands, many of them gay men, during his term as governor.

Unlike Bush, Obama has been the vocal advocate of gay civil rights he claims to be. It is over the top to assert, as a gay writer at Time did, that the president-elect is “a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot.” Much more to the point is the astute criticism leveled by the gay Democratic congressman Barney Frank, who, in dissenting from the Warren choice, said of Obama, “I think he overestimates his ability to get people to put aside fundamental differences.” That’s a polite way of describing the Obama cockiness. It will take more than the force of the new president’s personality and eloquence to turn our nation into the United States of America he and we all want it to be.

Go here for the entire piece.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Songs: Dusty Springfield, Junior Walker, Nancy Wilson

“Give a butch roar or a girlish shriek, I don’t mind who does what, sort it out for yourselves!” – Dusty Springfield

Dusty was born an O'Brien into a Catholic family in 1939 London but there is a lot more to her than that. She was furnished with a lot of soul which came forth in many of her recordings. "Live It Up" was recorded in New York City in 1964 and written by Leon Huff, a stalwart of the music of Philly, who would eventually co-produce Dusty's second Atlantic album, A Brand New Me, as a precursor to the Philadelphia International Sound.

Dusty's 60s recordings, especially, were derivative of Classic RnB, but she had no intention of eclipsing it. Instead she celebrated it. Martha Reeves with whom she had a special relationship says as much in the BBC documentary Full Circle. In fact, "Live It Up" is reminiscent of the Vandellas' "Dancin' In the Street." Dusty's vocal is inspired and inspiring.

It's a song, much like "Dancin'," that can help take one away to a better state of mind in spite of the world and its woeful state. Give a listen. Be Happy for a bit.

Now, you work all week just to make that money, yeah
A-waitin' for the weekend to finally come, yeah, heah
So, now that the weekend is finally here
There's nothing but music in the atmosphere
So, come on everybody, let's live it up, yeah

The music sounds good and the beat is so groovy, yeah
It really sounds good 'cause it really, really moves me, yeah
Oh, dancing dances won't cost you a dime
Listen to the beat and you're bound a good time
So, come on everybody, let's live it up, yeah

Listen to the music, 'cause it sounds so sweet
So, come on everybody
It makes you wanna move your feet, oh yeah
Live it up, living it up, oh, live it up, baby
Come on, live it up, live it up, live it up, yeah, heah

The music sounds good and the beat is so groovy, yeah, come on now
It really sounds good, 'cause it really, really moves me, yeah
So, now that the weekend is finally here
There's nothing but music in the atmosphere
So, come on everybody, let's live it up, yeah, I said come on, and live it up, baby
A-come on, and live it up, yeah, ...
[Leon Huff]

Seems that La Springfield answered the question before it was asked, but we also have the ever classy Nancy Wilson asking it anyway.

Maybe it's much
Too early in the game
Aah, but I thought
I'd ask you just the same

What are you doing New Year's
New Year's eve?

Wonder whose arms
Will hold you good and tight
When it's exactly
Twelve o'clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year
New Year's eve

Maybe I'm crazy to suppose
I'd ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations
You received
Aah, but in case
I stand one little chance
Here comes
The jackpot question in advance

What are you doing New Year's?
New Year's Eve?

In between the two is a Junior Walker chestnut that rocked both Wagner's Ballroom and The Starlight back in the day. It's a great party instrumental, the b-side of "Shotgun."

Carpe punctum. Carpe Diem. Carpe Annum!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sleep It Tight Beefcake

Saturday Beefcake A Main Course or Two

Saturday Beefcake: Lentils and the New Year Once Again

Jacob who became the father of Israel by virtue of a bowl of lentils, which he'd been preparing, and used to buy his elder brother's birthright (and, by the way, went on to wrestle an angel) filtered that patriarchal event through many centuries so that the food became an Italian New Year's tradition: a required item on the New Year's menu -- Eve or Day, their shape brings to mind tiny coins and people eat them in the hope that they won't want for anything for the coming year.

Lentils are very versatile, and, not to mention, nutritious. Therefore, two recipes are offered -- one more traditional than the other along with young gentlemen who seem to be quite versatile themselves. While it wouldn't be right to refer to them as nutritious, it seems they may know a thing or two about nutrition and wrestling angels

Zuppa di Lenticchie (Lentil Soup)

2 tablespoons fruity Olive Oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 small fennel bulb, diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup lentils, rinsed, etc.
2 teaspoons sea salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. Heat half the olive oil in large pot.
2. Add garlic, onion and fennel. Saute until soft [5 minutes]
3. Add the broth and lentils. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender [about 45 minutes]
5. Serves 6 people. Drizzle olive oil over each serving and garnish with fresh basil.
[Romano or parmesan cheese]

Lentil Tapenade

One Cup Lentils
20 ounces of Broth
Chopped Garlic, 2 tablespoons
Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, dried and slivered
Aromatic Olive Oil
Anchovy paste
Capers, three tablespoons
Olives, any Mediterranean type, pitted, chopped, 1/2 cup
Fresh Lemon Juice, two tablespoons
Sea salt and ground pepper
Chopped Italian Parsley
One Lemon Slice

1. Rinse and drain the lentils
2. Simmer the lentils in the broth
with the garlic and tomatoes
in a large saucepan from 30-45 minutes
or until they are cooked
3. Place the saucepan ingredients
in a processor for about 30 seconds,
scraping the sides several times.
4. Add the oil, a couple drops of the anchovy paste,
capers and chopped olives, lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste.
Continue processing until smooth, once again scraping down the sides
5. Add 1/2 cup of the parsley; pulse several times to blend.
6. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with lemon and parsley.

This is for crostini, or fresh bread, or pita chips
and the recipe is a variation of Julee Rosso's
who probably knows a lot more about nutrition than wrestling angels.

Having A Happy Beefcake Morning

Doesn't take much ...

Here's a suggestion or two or three

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gay Thursday on Friday with a lot of Might: Barack Obama and Rick Warren

About a week ago, the President-Elect referred to this in regard to Warren's invitation to invoke at the inaugural:

"A couple of years ago I was invited to Rick Warren's church to speak despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion," he said. "Nevertheless I had an opportunity to speak, and that dialogue I think is part of what my campaign's been all about, that we're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans."

[source: HuffingtonPost]

The remarks came after progressives and, in particular, the gay and lesbian community criticized the president-elect's decision to give such a prominent role to a pastor whose views on torture, gay rights, and stem cell research don't align with Obama's stated agenda.

Indeed, the backlash against the Warren selection has been swift and fierce, putting Obama's inauguration team largely on the defensive. A source sent over a copy of talking points making the rounds among the president-elect's staff in order to rebut these critiques. A transition official would not confirm or dispute the material, but did acknowledge that it sounded "an awful lot like what I have been saying."

• The Inauguration will also involve Reverend Joseph Lowery, who will be delivering the official benediction at the Inauguration. Reverend Lowery is a giant of the civil rights movement who boasts a proudly progressive record on LGBT issues. He has been a leader in the struggle for civil rights for all Americans, gay or straight.

• And for the very first time, there will be a group representing the interests of LGBT Americans participating in the Inaugural Parade.

The inclusion of Rev. Joseph Lowery, an icon of the civil rights movement and a respected progressive voice is, perhaps, the Obama team's most obvious defense. One progressive pastor I spoke with on Wednesday, who was critical of the Warren selection, said she would have been fine had the two pastors merely switched spots in the program.

But the inclusiveness of the inauguration is an important point to stress as well. At his 2005 inaugural, George W. Bush tapped Rev. Dr. Louis Leon to deliver the invocation. Like Obama and Warren, the two shared a commitment to combating AIDS in Africa, as well as a friendship from time spent in each other's company. But Leon was and is a progressive voice. And his selection in '04 sparked a lot of interest, though little of the outrage that we see with Warren.

Column asks this: would a racist preacher have been invited? A preacher who does good things but thinks black people are inferior and live a lifestyle akin to pederasty, incest and bestiality? Oh, and the other thing is this, when will some politician on the natinal level start pandering to homosexuals? Is it because the evolved homosexual celebrates sexuality? Fellow humans should start acknowledging that we are indeed sexual and that all love is good, sexual and otherwise.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rudolph called in sick ...

so those reindeer are going to play some new games this year.

The Wednesday Word: And the Word Was Made Flesh

As Above So Below

As Without So Within

Peace and Merry Be,


Et Verbum Caro Factum Est et Habitavit in Nobis. And the Word was Made Flesh and dwelt among us. The Word that came forth from God was made Flesh. Exegesis of ancient philosophy and thought places much emphasis on the power of the word. The Word that came from God took form in humanity. That’s what Jesus is supposedly all about: God and humanity as one and the same entity.

John, the Beloved Disciple is the attributed author of the above quote which is essential to the Liturgy of the Word in Roman Catholic ritual, and is part of that ritual on Xmas. John was the one whose head rested on the chest of the Lord during the Last Supper. John was the one to whom the Lord entrusted his mother when he was dying. John is usually depicted as a young handsome man. He is the Beloved above and beyond the rest of the disciples.

A type of intimacy was attributed to and recorded about John's relationship to Jesus. Let it be said here and now that Jesus Christ, according to the accepted Sacred Gospels, one of which was accordingly written by John the Beloved, said absolutely nothing that directly condemned same sex relationships.

The theology that John’s writings exhibit has to do with the Divine inhabiting and becoming flesh and eventually overcoming the mortality of the flesh. It is the cornerstone of Xtianity.

It is John who is the only disciple who survived martyrdom and lived to a ripe old age. It is John who had numerable mystical visions that gave the world the Book of the Apocalypse, a.k.a. Revelations. It is John who points the way to overcoming the ravages of the Beast upon humanity. It is John and his relationship with the god-made-man that may very well point the way to acceptance of all human beings being exactly what God made them in all their glory.

John’s Feast is December 27th and celebrated during the Octave of Xmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday Talent: Brian Rodgers

Merry Christmoose

Thank you for everything, Pookie! You're the best.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Musing: Is It Any Wonder?

[From Huffington Post--where is Jon Stewart when you need him?]

Alone among major Western nations, the United States has refused to sign a declaration presented Thursday at the United Nations calling for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.

In all, 66 of the U.N.'s 192 member countries signed the nonbinding declaration _ which backers called a historic step to push the General Assembly to deal more forthrightly with any-gay discrimination. More than 70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality, and in several of them homosexual acts can be punished by execution.

Co-sponsored by France and the Netherlands, the declaration was signed by all 27 European Union members, as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and three dozen other countries. There was broad opposition from Muslim nations, and the United States refused to sign, indicating that some parts of the declaration raised legal questions that needed further review.

"It's disappointing," said Rama Yade, France's human rights minister, of the U.S. position _ which she described as in contradiction with America's long tradition as a defender of human rights.

According to some of the declaration's backers, U.S. officials expressed concern in private talks that some parts of the declaration might be problematic in committing the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In numerous states, landlords and private employers are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; on the federal level, gays are not allowed to serve openly in the military.

Carolyn Vadino, a spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., stressed that the United States _ despite its unwillingness to sign _ condemned any human rights violations related to sexual orientation.

Gay rights activists nonetheless were angered by the U.S. position.

"It's an appalling stance _ to not join with other countries that are standing up and calling for decriminalization of homosexuality," said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Songs of the Week: Darlene Love

We do this every year just like David Letterman:

Darlene Love continues to make her mark on David Letterman’s yearly Yuletide show with her perennial hit, “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” which made its debut in the watershed year, 1963.

It was the year before the arrival of the Beatles and the memory which serves well brings to mind “Heat Wave,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “Cry Baby,” “He’s Sure the Boy I love,” and “One Fine Day” among so many other hit songs that year. President Kennedy provided the world with its first movie star world leader with his classy First Lady. The Cuban Missile Crisis and The Bay of Pigs Invasion were behind us. Oh it wasn’t idyllic but the young baby boomers at least had everything in its appropriate place and were optimistic.

Darlene Love was hard at work on what was to become a Christmas music stalwart with the above standout original piece. Here is what she herself tells us about its inception in her autobiography, My Name Is Love:

The summer of 1963 was especially hot, and we were holed up in Gold Star almost the entire time, until two, three, four in the morning. For one we all welcomed Phil’s slave-driving schedule. The more we did the songs, the more the whole project took on its own life, personality, and history. We didn’t know we were building monuments in those days, except when it came to the Christmas album. Early on we knew that this was a landmark, that once in a lifetime opportunity that God bestows on some to change the course of events.

Jeff [Barry] and Ellie [Greenwich] really delivered the goods … proving one more time that the best Christmas songs, like the best love songs are about loss … “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” was so good that I just assumed it would go to
Ronnie [Spector, of the Ronettes].

But poor Ronnie didn’t have enough circuits to handle the high voltage that Phil [Spector] wanted, and so he gave [the song] to me, and it turned out to be the record I’d been waiting to make with Phil in the year I’d known him. This song was even more powerful than “He’s A Rebel,” and this time it would have my name on it. As with all the sessions Phil didn’t want us to be too prepared, so we never even knew what keys we were going to sing in until we got to the studio … The more we worked the greater it all sounded. One night it got so late that my head just dropped behind me and my big old red wig fell off! All the musicians were happy because that finally ended the session.

…. Leon Russell was on the piano, and by the last takes he was playing so hard it was almost like a concerto. He played himself right off the bench and onto the floor and kept on playing. Cher was on background and has this to say: “Darlene started to sing and the hair stood up all over my body. It was a performance that made time stop. When she finished Fanita [one of The Blossoms] fell over with both her hands up in the air.”

… We didn’t finish the album until the end of September … Phil was going to make his first concept album a classic. It was set for release on November 22, 1963, a Friday. A little late in the game, but Phil was banking on an out-of-the-box smash that would sell for years to come.

… in the kitchen, cooking dinner, doing some ironing with the TV on in the living room … I froze over the stove, wooden spoon in hand. … And even though the reporters didn’t say that the back of his head had been blown off, I knew … that it was pretty bad. I probably picked up a napkin to wipe away some tears, and with them all thought of the Christmas album.

Darlene goes on to explain how the album was released and then withdrawn because of the dark cloud that hovered above the nation. The album, of course, has gone on to be released and re-released resurfacing every year as does Darlene’s magnificent performance. Darlene continued to work throughout the decade but those who admired her and her talent had to look hard for her. There was never enough of her.

Phil Spector's Christmas opus emerged as America journeyed across a piece of time that changed it forever. America was on the threshold of the British Invasion and the Vietnamese Escalation. Five years down the line 1968 would explode. Then as now there is the yearning for those who are far away and the loss that makes for classic artistic expression. The album and Darlene's song persist as does the loss that dogs us across generations

"Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)"

It's Christmas

Baby, please come home

The snow's coming down
I'm watching it fall
Watching the people around
Baby please co
me home

The church bells in town
They're ringing a song
What a happy sound
Baby please co
me home

They're singing deck the halls
But it's not like Christmas at all
I re
member when you were here
And all the fun we had last year

Pretty lights on the tree
I'm watching 'em shine

You should be here with me
Baby please co
me home

Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home

They're singing deck the halls
But it's not like Christmas at all
I re
member when you were here
And all the fun we had last year

If there was a way
I'd hold back these tears
But it's Christmas day
Baby please co
me home

Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home

Happy Solstice: Merry Be This Yuletide

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2008 at 7:04 AM EST.

'Tis the shortest day of the year, yet it is out of the darkness that we celebrate and await the light.

We are forever on our way.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Beefcake Nighty Night Keepin' the Heat On

Saturday Beefcake: Warmin' it Up with White Chili

Turnin' up the heat in the middle of winter

[from allrecipes.com]


* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 onions, chopped
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 4 cooked, boneless chicken breast half, chopped
* 1 and a half quarts chicken broth
* 8 ounces cans canned green chile peppers, chopped
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 2 teaspoons dried oregano
* 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
* 5 cans great Northern beans, undrained
* 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 10 minutes, or until onions are tender. Add the chicken, chicken broth, green chile peppers, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to low and add the beans. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until heated thoroughly. Pour into individual bowls and top with the cheese.

Saturday Beefcake: The Main Man

Well, he's not Cameron Mathison in a thong but Paul from DNA serves it up quite nicely

One of Column's greatest hits, a main course for Xmas Eve:

Salmon Cakes

New Potatoes, 500 grams, chopped
One Lemon, juice and zest
Milk, four tablespoons
Green Onions, one bunch, sliced
Cayenne Pepper, one qaurter teaspoon
Salmon, two hundred grams, canned
Flour, all purpose, two tablespoons
Egg, one, beaten
Breadcrumbs, 100 grams
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, one tablesppon
Coarse Salt

Saturday Beefcake: Afternoon Snack

Take a break from the weekend chores.