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NEW YORK (AP) — With Matt Lauer bringing the box of tissues, the Today show threw a going-away party Wednesday for 15-year host Katie Couric, who is leaving to become the next anchor of the CBS Evening News.

“I’m feeling happy and sad and completely out of control,” Couric said, “and you know how much I like that.”

Forty-two minutes into the show, Couric couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.

The first tear was spotted in the corner of her eye as Today talked to six people she had interviewed — an inspiring school principal, a woman brutally raped in Central Park, survivors of the Columbine school shooting and the World Trade Center bombing and parents of a boy who had died of brain cancer.

“In meeting her and talking to her, I felt that it helped heal me as well,” said Lauren Manning, who was burned during the terrorist attack.

Couric’s parents and two daughters were also in the audience Wednesday for what Couric jokingly called the “celebration of moi.”

Couric’s long goodbye began April 5, the 15th anniversary of her first day as Bryant Gumbel’s co-host on Today, when she announced that she would be leaving to accept CBS’ offer to replace Bob Schieffer on the evening news. She said the time was right for a new challenge.

Today has dominated morning television for more than 10 years, never losing a week in the ratings, and is the most profitable show on television in advertising revenue.

Couric said it was “the best job on television” and poked fun at Lauer, her TV mate since he replaced Gumbel in 1997.

“I know I’ll never have a partner like you,” she said, “because I won’t be working with a partner.”

Lauer said he’ll most remember all the laughs they shared, on and off the air.

“People talk about chemistry,” Lauer said. “I have never been able to define it. From my end it came from genuine love and respect and I’m going to miss you.”

During her time on the air, Today fans watched as Couric, 49, grew from a chipper young reporter, to a mother with two girls and a young widow when her husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer. She underwent an on-air colonoscopy that encouraged thousands of Americans to do the same, which doctors called the Couric Effect.

She called her work on colon cancer prevention by far her proudest accomplishment.

Today has had some troubles in recent years, going through three executive producers and nearly being dethroned by ABC’s Good Morning America as Couric’s increasingly glamorous on-air appearance turned some viewers off. But it has rebounded strongly in the past year.

NBC is shutting down its streetside Rockefeller Center studio after Couric leaves for a summer makeover, preparing for Meredith Vieira of The View to take over as her successor in the fall. Today will spend the summer in an outside studio nearby.

Today began its tribute showing Couric awakened by an alarm clock at 5 a.m., followed by a back-up wakeup call from her driver. Al Roker joked how Couric sometimes made it to work with only about 15 minutes to spare.

She recalled her first day with Gumbel, when she was five months pregnant and still trying to decide whether to be identified as Katherine. “I got up, threw up and came to work,” she said.

The first film clips of her career emphasized hard-nosed interviews of politicians like Ross Perot, the first President Bush and Colin Powell, perhaps offering a message to critics who questioned her news credentials after working on a show that mixed in so much lighter fare.

But Today also showed Couric’s off-key singing with guests Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett.

“Some of the things I did — whoa!” Couric said.

“We could do a whole three hours on that,” Lauer replied.

Another article….
NEW YORK – Longtime NBC “Today” show host Katie Couric has opened her final day as co-host saying she’s happy, sad and “completely out of control.”

With co-host Matt Lauer bringing the tissues, the “Today” show threw a going-away party Wednesday for 15-year host Katie Couric, who is leaving to become the next anchor of the “CBS Evening News.”

Forty-two minutes into the show, Couric couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.
The first tear was spotted in the corner of her eye as “Today” talked to six people she had interviewed — an inspiring school principal, a woman brutally raped in Central Park, survivors of the Columbine school shooting and the World Trade Center bombing and parents of a boy who had died of brain cancer.

“In meeting her and talking to her, I felt that it helped heal me as well,” said Lauren Manning, who was burned during the terrorist attack.

Couric’s parents and two daughters were also in the audience Wednesday for what Couric jokingly called the “celebration of moi.”

Couric’s long goodbye began April 5, the 15th anniversary of her first day as Bryant Gumbel’s co-host on “Today,” when she announced that she would be leaving to accept CBS’ offer to replace Bob Schieffer on the evening news. She said the time was right for a new challenge.
“Today” has dominated morning television for more than 10 years, never losing a week in the ratings, and is the most profitable show on television in advertising revenue.
Couric said it was “the best job on television” and poked fun at Lauer, her TV mate since he replaced Gumbel in 1997.

“I know I’ll never have a partner like you,” she said, “because I won’t be working with a partner.”

Lauer said he’ll most remember all the laughs they shared, on and off the air.
“People talk about chemistry,” Lauer said. “I have never been able to define it. From my end it came from genuine love and respect and I’m going to miss you.”
During her time on the air, “Today” fans watched as Couric, 49, grew from a chipper young reporter, to a mother with two girls and a young widow when her husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer. She underwent an on-air colonoscopy that encouraged thousands of Americans to do the same, which doctors called the “Couric Effect.”
She called her work on colon cancer prevention by far her proudest accomplishment.
“Today” has had some troubles in recent years, going through three executive producers and nearly being dethroned by ABC’s “Good Morning America” as Couric’s increasingly glamorous on-air appearance turned some viewers off. But it has rebounded strongly in the past year.

NBC is shutting down its streetside Rockefeller Center studio after Couric leaves for a summer makeover, preparing for Meredith Vieira of “The View” to take over as her successor in the fall. “Today” will spend the summer in an outside studio nearby.
“Today” began its tribute showing Couric awakened by an alarm clock at 5 a.m., followed by a back-up wakeup call from her driver. Al Roker joked how Couric sometimes made it to work with only about 15 minutes to spare.
She recalled her first day with Gumbel, when she was five months pregnant and still trying to decide whether to be identified as Katherine. “I got up, threw up and came to work,” she said.

The first film clips of her career emphasized hard-nosed interviews of politicians like Ross Perot, President Bush and Colin Powell, perhaps offering a message to critics who questioned her news credentials after working on a show that mixed in so much lighter fare.

But “Today” also showed Couric’s off-key singing with guests Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett.

“Some of the things I did — whoa!” Couric said.

“We could do a whole three hours on that,” Lauer replied.

One of my all time favorite television personalities will be bidding farewell this Wednesday morning…

It’s time for Katie Couric to prepare for the day after Today.

During Wednesday’s show, Couric will say goodbye to Matt, Al, Ann and NBC’s morning audience for the last time. Then she’ll pack up her coffee mug and her smile for the long haul from Rockefeller Center over to West 57th Street, where she will become lead anchor of the CBS Evening News starting Sept. 5.

Everyone from Colin Powell and Bill Clinton to George Clooney and the American Idol crew have taped farewells for Couric (all available to watch on the Today show’s Website), and her last show tomorrow is sure to be chockablock with favorite memories, celeb-studded clips and tearful goodbyes. On a three-hour talkfest where you can be whipping up dessert with the Naked Chef one minute and then discussing allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay the next, the variety of Couric’s greatest moments is sure to impress.

Couric’s favorite segment, as told to the Washington Post: Barbara Bush was giving her a tour of the White House when President George H.W. Bush walked in, and Couric turned her house tour into a live interview with the Commander in Chief.

After spending 15 years on the top-rated Today, her decision to leave couldn’t have been easy.

“It was an evolution, really,” Couric told the Los Angeles Times recently. “I always would say, ‘Would it kill me if somebody else was doing this instead of me?’ And when my contracts came up, I always thought, ‘I’m just not ready.’ But this last time I was? I do have mixed emotions because I’m going to miss everyone I work with so much. But no matter what happens, I feel really confident that I’ve made the right decision.”

Couric, 49, will be the first woman to officially head up a network evening newscast on her own and, at $15 million a year, will be the highest paid network anchor out there–of any gender.

Since she announced her decision in April, the buzz surrounding Couric’s departure has been on full blast. Everything from the newswoman’s liberal political leanings (“too much like Dan Rather”) to her cheery disposition (“she’s too perky”) has become fodder for critics who either believe that she can’t handle hard news or that her name alone won’t be enough to pull the CBS Evening News out of its perennial third-place position behind the NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight.

But although naysayers have voiced concern over her ability to fill the chair once sat in by Rather and Walter Cronkite, the veteran anchorwoman has said that the trip from a.m. to p.m. will not be too much of a character stretch for her.

“I’ve always been a serious person, actually,” Couric told the Times. “I think it’s sort of a lemming-like reaction and not very informed, because I think if anybody watches the show, they’ll know we do plenty of serious things? To suggest you can’t have fun and you can’t talk about fashion and enjoy it and then do a serious story on welfare reform is just limited in your thinking.”

“I read things with a much more jaundiced eye than I used to because I, from personal experience, have been made aware of the panoply of inaccuracies that go unchecked and unchallenged every day.”

So there, Andy Rooney.

Couric joined Today in 1990 as a national correspondent and began co-anchoring the show (billed as “Katherine Couric”) alongside Bryant Gumbel in 1991 when she was 34. And, as she told the Times, she had no problem telling the news division that she wanted to cover just as many important stories as Gumbel did.

“Can you imagine?” she said. “The gall I had. I’m sure they were probably like, ‘Who is this person? Where does she come from?'”

That stiff upper lip served her unbelievably well when, in 1998, her husband Jay Monahan died of colon cancer. Couric became an advocate for cancer prevention and early detection, going so far as to have her own colonoscopy televised in 2000.

She has credited both her daughters, Elinor and Caroline, and her Today family, whose primary members are Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Ann Curry, with helping her through the hardest of times.

“When you wake up and you feel good and your children and people you love are healthy and you’re in a good situation in terms of a job and being able to care for your family, I think that a little gratitude is called for,” she told USA Today. “You sometimes forget how lucky you are.”

“She filled this role as well as anyone has ever filled this role,” Lauer told the Post. “This job requires a very versatile performer, a little bit like a variety show.”

The View’s Meredith Vieira will become Lauer’s sidekick in September. In turn, Rosie O’Donnell will fill Vieira’s empty seat over at ABC. Lauer signed a five-year, $13 million a year contract shortly after Couric announced she was leaving.

Brainstorming will be the name of the game for Couric this summer, as she starts lining up stories for CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes in July and will be attending production meetings from here on out.

“I’m not going to change who I am or how I relate to people or how I tell stories,” she told the Times. “Because I do some of the lighter stuff and have a sense of humor at times doesn’t mean that I?m not a really serious person, when necessary. So I think it will be a combination of everything that hopefully I have to offer.”

“If CBS had wanted a very classic, standard, straight-up newscast, they might not have come to me,” Couric told Newsday. “But if they want to play with [the format] or slightly retool or maybe slightly re-energize it, then I think I will bring who I am to that venue.”

To understand how fear blocks creativity, take a moment to imagine yourself telling a story. First, imagine telling the story to someone you love and who loves you. You probably feel warmth and energy as you fill in the details of your tale to your friend’s delight. Now, imagine telling the same story to someone who, for whatever reason, makes you uncomfortable. The wonderful twists and turns, the fine points and colorful images that unfolded in your mind for your friend probably won’t present themselves. Instead of warmth, energy, and creativity, you will probably feel opposite sensations and a desire to close down. When we feel unsafe, whether we fear being judged, disliked, or misunderstood, our creative flow stops. Alternately, when we feel safe, our creativity unfolds like a beautiful flower, without conscious effort.

Knowing this, we can maximize our creative potential by creating the conditions that inspire our creativity. In order to really be in the flow, we need to feel safe and unrestricted. However, achieving this is not as simple as avoiding people who make us feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we can be alone in a room and still feel totally blocked. When this happens, we know we have come up against elements in our own psyches that are making us feel fearful. Perhaps we are afraid that in expressing ourselves we will discover something we don’t want to know, or unleash emotions or ideas that we don’t want to be responsible for. Or maybe we’re afraid we’ll fail to produce something worthy.

When you’re up against fear, internal or external, ritual can be a powerful-and creative-antidote. Before you sit down to be creative, try casting a circle of protection around yourself. Visualize yourself inside a ring of light, protective fire, or angels. Imagine that this protective energy emanates unconditional love for you and wants to hear, see, and feel everything you have to express. Take a moment to bathe in the warmth of this feeling and then fearlessly surrender yourself to the power that flows through you.

Sadly, many of the students with whom I have worked many years, will be graduating this June. This week is my farewell lesson with quite a few and it is very difficult. I will miss these students, and wish them the very best. Most importantly, I am so grateful for having had the opporunity to work with such outstanding individuals who have touched my life greatly.


















Sadly, many of the students with whom I have worked many years, will be graduating this June. This week is my farewell lesson with quite a few and it is very difficult. I will miss these students, and wish them the very best. Most importantly, I am so grateful for having had the opporunity to work with such outstanding individuals who have touched my life greatly.

Sadly, many of the students with whom I have worked many years, will be graduating this June. This week is my farewell lesson with quite a few and it is very difficult. I will miss these students, and wish them the very best. Most importantly, I am so grateful for having had the opporunity to work with such outstanding individuals who have touched my life greatly.






If prayer is an intention that we announce to the universe in order to create a desired outcome, then our every thought is a prayer. This includes thoughts of worry as well as of hope. All thoughts are subtle creative energy. Some thoughts are more focused or repeated more often, gathering strength. Some are written down or spoken, giving them even greater power. Every thought we have is part of a process whereby we cocreate our experience and our reality with the universe. When we use our creative energy unconsciously, we create what is commonly known as self-fulfilling prophecy. In essence, when we worry, we are repeatedly praying and lending our energy to the creation of something we don’t want.

The good news is that we can retrain our minds and thoughts to focus our energy on what we do desire to bring into our lives. Since most worry is repetitive, it will take more than one positive thought to counteract the energy we’ve created. The simplest antidote to worry is affirmations. When we hold these positive thoughts, repeat them often, speak them and write them and refer to them throughout our day, we are using focused energy to create positive results.

We can start right away, together: I am a creative being, using my energy to cocreate a wonderful world. I know that I create my experience of life from within, and as I do so, I also create ripples of energy around me that echo into the world. My positive thoughts gather together with the thoughts and prayers of others, and together we create enough positive energy to heal not only our own lives but the world we share. I am grateful for the ability to cocreate good in my life and in the world.

A lot of times we have concerned loved ones that worry about us. When this happens they are also sending out a worry prayer to the world. A loving conversation letting them know what is happening is the easiest solution. Also, ask them to send you positive affirmations rather than worry about you. After all, worry doesn’t do them any good either. Explain to them that worry can actually be energetically harmful to you and that wishing good things for you is much more beneficial and much more fun too.

CANTON, N.Y. – A man was charged with burglary and criminal mischief Thursday after he allegedly broke into a funeral home and fell asleep in a coffin.

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Joel Fish, 20, of Queensbury, was arrested after he was discovered at the O’Leary Funeral Home in Canton, 127 miles north of Syracuse.

Debra White, wife of the home’s funeral director Joe White, said she noticed a broken window and open door to the casket display room when she awoke at 6:30 a.m. Inside, she saw a boot and pair of pants on the floor and a pair of knees sticking out of a stainless steel coffin.

Fish, who police said was intoxicated, was treated at Canton-Potsdam hospital for cuts. He was arraigned and released to return to court at a later date.

The funeral home estimates the damage from the burglary, mostly to the coffin, at $4,000.

This weekend was the choral extravaganza at the high school.

Friday was the curricular choirs: Treble Choir, Concert Choir and Symphonic Chorale.






Saturday, May 20th, was the Fairmont Entertainment Company featuring the show choirs – Illusion and Mirage; the two award winning vocal jazz ensembles – Eleventh Hour and Fusion; and selected solos – featuring several of my students.



Sunday, May 21st was the awards ceremony for the choral department.

For more photos, please go to: http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/dljh_dayton/my_photos

Everything in the universe is made of energy. What differentiates one form of energy from another is the speed at which it vibrates. For example, light vibrates at a very high frequency, and something like a rock vibrates at a lower frequency but a frequency nonetheless. Human beings also vibrate at different frequencies. Our thoughts and feelings can determine the frequency at which we vibrate, and our vibration goes out into the world and attracts to us energy moving at a similar frequency. This is one of the ways that we create our own reality, which is why we can cause a positive shift in our lives by raising our vibration.

We all know someone we think of as vibrant. Vibrant literally means “vibrating very rapidly.” The people who strike us as vibrant are vibrating at a high frequency, and they can inspire us as we work to raise our vibration. On the other hand, we all know people that are very negative or cynical. These people are vibrating at a lower frequency. They can also be an inspiration because they can show us where we don’t want to be vibrating and why. To discover where you are in terms of vibrancy, consider where you fall on a scale between the most pessimistic person you know and the most vibrant. This is not in order to pass judgment, but rather it is important to know where you are as you begin working to raise your frequency so that you can notice and appreciate your progress.

There are many ways to raise your vibration, from working with affirmations to visualizing enlightened entities during meditation. One of the most practical ways to raise your vibration is to consciously choose where you focus your attention. To understand how powerful this is, take five minutes to describe something you love unreservedly-a person, a movie, an experience. When your five minutes are up, you will noticeably feel more positive and even lighter. If you want to keep raising your vibration, you might want to commit to spending five minutes every day focusing on the good in your life. As you do this, you will train yourself to be more awake and alive. Over time, you will experience a permanent shift in your vibrancy.

Everything in the universe is made of energy. What differentiates one form of energy from another is the speed at which it vibrates. For example, light vibrates at a very high frequency, and something like a rock vibrates at a lower frequency but a frequency nonetheless. Human beings also vibrate at different frequencies. Our thoughts and feelings can determine the frequency at which we vibrate, and our vibration goes out into the world and attracts to us energy moving at a similar frequency. This is one of the ways that we create our own reality, which is why we can cause a positive shift in our lives by raising our vibration.

We all know someone we think of as vibrant. Vibrant literally means “vibrating very rapidly.” The people who strike us as vibrant are vibrating at a high frequency, and they can inspire us as we work to raise our vibration. On the other hand, we all know people that are very negative or cynical. These people are vibrating at a lower frequency. They can also be an inspiration because they can show us where we don’t want to be vibrating and why. To discover where you are in terms of vibrancy, consider where you fall on a scale between the most pessimistic person you know and the most vibrant. This is not in order to pass judgment, but rather it is important to know where you are as you begin working to raise your frequency so that you can notice and appreciate your progress.

There are many ways to raise your vibration, from working with affirmations to visualizing enlightened entities during meditation. One of the most practical ways to raise your vibration is to consciously choose where you focus your attention. To understand how powerful this is, take five minutes to describe something you love unreservedly-a person, a movie, an experience. When your five minutes are up, you will noticeably feel more positive and even lighter. If you want to keep raising your vibration, you might want to commit to spending five minutes every day focusing on the good in your life. As you do this, you will train yourself to be more awake and alive. Over time, you will experience a permanent shift in your vibrancy.

I can remember eagerly awaiting the premiere of the new sitcom, Will & Grace. I liked the show right off, but Jack and Karen were my least favorite characters. I figured they would be written out before long as they did not seem to fit to me. Karen seemed to serve no major purpose, and Jack was far too flamboyant for my taste.

Before long, Karen was my favorite. Grace, played by Debra Messing, also became a favorite as she reminded me so much of Lucille Ball – especially with her success in physical comedy. But Karen! Megan Mullaly, whom I had seen on Broadway in Grease and How To Succeed In Business Without Even Trying, had a slight character adjustment from the semi-practical rich lady to the alcohol/drug abusing hit. I had several friends from college say, “You know, your sense of humor is so much like Karen Walker’s on Will & Grace.” I do not think myself as rude as Karen, but perhaps the wit. My friend, Debbie and I always called ourselves Karen and Jack – however, I was probably more like Will, as Jack has always been way over the top.

I will certainly miss the laughs, but thanks to my sister, I have several seasons on DVD! And at 11:00am on the WB station, the reruns continue each week day morning!

Reviews form WILL & GRACES’s final episode

Where there’s a Will, there’s a Grace. Until Thursday night, anyway, when their platonic love affair comes to an end.

The award-winning NBC sitcom Will & Grace is throwing itself a two-hour going-away party this week after eight seasons of gaiety, which, while not always groundbreaking, were always loaded with racy double entendres and sharp zingers.

While the series was lauded by GLAAD and publications like The Advocate for prominently featuring not just one, but two, out-and-proud main characters and accurately representing the gay community, Will & Grace mainly stuck to the formula–make ’em laugh.

Because it was a comedy–a pretty raunchy one at that, and it got even more so as the years went by–the show didn’t tackle too many polarizing issues besides ones that apparently are socially acceptable to make jokes about, such as infidelity, single motherhood and death.

But it did also address gay parenting, homophobia and what it’s like to be a member of a minority (if you’ve got oodles of money or rich friends) and in doing that became a groundbreaker.

The poignancy of Will & Grace when it began in 1998 (although it slowly oozed out of the series as the guest stars and cheaper laughs started pouring in) was that the two main male characters who were gay were far more comfortable in their own skin than the straight female lead could ever hope to be.

Sure, it doesn’t seem that risque but the openness of Eric McCormack’s Will and his best friend, Jack (Sean Hayes), may have been surprising to some viewers in the show’s early days. A gay man not trying to hide his sexual preference from someone? What?!

“Eight years ago, a show with two gay guys would have seemed niche,” McCormack told the Associated Press. “The opposite’s happened. Kids watch it, old women watch it. Everyone wanted to know when Will was getting a boyfriend.” (Not quite everyone–after losing its Friends in 2004, the show lost more than 50 percent of its viewership, which topped 17 million a few years ago. Season eight averaged 7.8 million viewers a week.)

And there lies the show’s cultural significance that led GLAAD President Neil Giuliano to issue this statement upon the series’ demise:

Will & Grace has given unprecedented visibility to gay, lesbian and bisexual people. This is a comedy that created an emotional connection between millions of viewers and its characters. Audiences laughed along with characters like Will and Jack, and a door opened for viewers to have a greater understanding of our lives. For many years to come, Will & Grace will continue to open hearts and minds as it lives on in syndication.”

Its further cultural significance, of course, was that the show won 12 Emmys, including one for Best Comedy and acting honors for McCormack, Debra Messing, Hayes and Megan Mullally.

Meanwhile, the series’ title may have been Will & Grace, but it was Hayes’ narcissistic struggling actor Jack McFarland and Mullally’s pill-popping socialite Karen Walker who sashayed and squeaked into viewers’ hearts.

Both supporting players won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and multiple SAG Awards for their roles as the voices of mad reason behind Will and Grace’s zany codependency.

A line from the series finale says it all:

Karen to Jack: “Do you find them exhausting?”

Jack: “I always have.”

After a one-hour retrospective at 8 p.m. Thursday, the season finale presumably will see that the characters are happy as they head into the annals of television.

“I can tell you that it’s funny and, as in the pilot, the episode is about the characters Will and Grace, with the characters of Jack and Karen there to support the Will and Grace story–which I think is the way to end the show,” Hayes said diplomatically, when Tribune Media Services asked him for hints about the show’s send-off. “Jack and Karen don’t need these incredible loose ends to be tied up, although we’ll give the fans some kind of closure for them as well.”

One can assume that the return of Harry Connick Jr. as Leo means Grace will tell her ex he’s the father of her baby and they’ll ride off into the sunset together. Will is about ready to set up house with boyfriend Vince (Bobby Cannavale, who won an Emmy for guest-acting on the show), so perhaps he’ll be able to stop acting mortally wounded whenever Grace experiences an instant of happiness. (Of course, the exact same thing can be said about her.)

As for Jack and Karen, well, put them anywhere with martinis in hand and people to make fun of and they’ll be just fine.

Mullally, 47, is set to host her own syndicated talk show in the fall, but the end of Will & Grace was enough to make even Karen shed a boozy tear.

“There were a lot of snotty, tearful faces all around the set,” Mullally told People recently. “When we got to the very, very last scene, everybody was just a mess. We started sobbing and hugging each other. That was it.”

McCormack, 43, who has starred in The Music Man on Broadway, is currently in New York rehearsing for his lead role in the dark-comedy play Some Girls, which opens June 8.

“My saddest moment was the last time I stood in Will’s kitchen,” he told People. “That was the most colorful position for me, standing there and stirring something. It was my pulpit, the place where I delivered my best jokes. Deb and Megan and Sean I can see again, but not my kitchen.”

Hayes, 35, has a few projects in the works at Hazy Mills Productions, the company he runs with business partner Tom Milliner.

“As sad as I am to leave, to not be able to see these people every day, I’m looking forward to other experiences in life that I haven’t had the opportunity to seek out yet,” Hayes said.

Messing may have gotten her fill of playing a pregnant woman this season, but she can’t wait to spend more time with her two-year-old son, Roman, now that she doesn’t have to say Grace every day. “Since the show wrapped, I’ve been able to just relax with him and go to Gymboree,” she told People.

In the end, no matter how many boundaries the show did or didn’t cross, there’s no arguing that Will, Grace, Jack and Karen were masters of both the one-liner and at taking care of each other.

“I think the humor of the program got people there and I think the relationship got people to stay,” the show’s cocreator, Max Mutchnik, told the AP. “In the case of Will & Grace it’s about friendship. Everybody wants that kind of relationship in their lives. Gay, straight, black or white–that’s second to it.”

…another review…

NEW YORK – It was a funny & satisfying conclusion for Will & Grace Thursday as the NBC sitcom ended its eight-season run by looking ahead more than 20 years.

“You know what’s funny? We haven’t changed a bit,” said a slightly grayer Will (Eric McCormack) to Grace (Debra Messing) and their pals Karen (Megan Mullally) and Jack (Sean Hayes), as they toasted themselves in a neighborhood Manhattan bar.

Go no further if you don’t want to know the details.

Bottom line: The gay guy and straight girl who were so much in love successfully navigated their incompatibilities, ending up bonded by marriage after all: Will’s son to Grace’s daughter.

At the start of the hour-long finale, Will (in the present) was making good on his pledge to care for pregnant Grace. He planned to help her raise the child.

But then Leo (Harry Connick, Jr.), Grace’s ex-husband, unexpectedly arrived from Rome to say he wanted her back — finding, much to his surprise, that she was pregnant with his child.

Flash forward two years: Grace and Leo and their little daughter, Lila, were together and happy.

Will and his partner, Vince (Bobby Cannavale), were together with Ben, their little boy.

But Will and Grace hadn’t spoken in two years. They were angry, feeling that somehow each had deserted the other.

Karen and Jack (as they shared a bubble bath and conversed on cell phones) fretted about this estrangement.

“Sometimes it seems like our sole purpose in life is just to serve Will and Grace,” Karen declared.

“Right,” Jack agreed indignantly. “It’s like all people see when they look at us are the supporting players on `The Will and Grace Show.'”

They plotted to bring the unsuspecting former best friends back together. The plan worked.

“I am so sorry I hurt you, Will,” Grace said. “But I’d be lying if I said I regret what happened. And I don’t think you do either.”

“God, you’re right,” said Will. “Grace, I don’t want to fight with you anymore.”

But despite their having made up, their lives — and respective families — took them on separate paths.

Then, some 18 years further into the future, college students Ben and Lila were moving into dorm rooms across the hall from one another. They met. Sparks flew. Their parents Will and Grace were reunited once more.

“I still can’t believe our kids are getting married,” Will told Grace as they chatted on the phone while they each watched TV, just as they did from the first episode of “Will & Grace” in 1998.

And what of Karen, the boozy, rich Manhattan diva, and Jack, her outrageously gay buddy?

We see them, also 20 years in the future, contentedly living together in luxury.

“Isn’t it funny how we’ve been with each other longer than we’ve been with any of our husbands or boyfriends?” chirped Karen. What’s more, Jack and Karen were caring for — and still trading barbs with — Rosario (Shelley Morrison), Karen’s wisecracking maid.

A sitcom about a gay man and a straight woman linked in every way but physically was a radical idea when Will & Grace premiered. But it quickly caught on and built into a hit, with nearly 200 episodes.

At its peak in the 2001-02 season the series drew an audience of more than 17 million, though its popularity tapered off in recent years (this season it has averaged 7.8 million viewers).

But even at the end, the characters were true to themselves, the affection between this Fab Four was palpable, and the banter remained razor-sharp.

On the phone, Will voiced his doubts about the dress Grace planned to wear to their kids’ nuptials.

“I’m not crazy about the trim,” he said.

“Will,” she shot back, “you never were.”


Thanks, Karen ~ for the memories…

and all the laughter…

1. Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, I think I’ll squeeze these dangly things here and drink whatever comes out?

2. Who was the first person to say, See that chicken there? I’m gonna eat the next thing that comes outta it’s butt.

3. Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

4. Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

5. If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?

6. Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?

7. If the professor on Gilligan’s Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can’t he fix a hole in a boat?

8. Why do people point to the wrist when asking for the time, but don’t point to their crotch when they ask where the bathroom is?

9. Why does your OB-GYN leave the room when you get undressed if they are going to look up there anyway?

10. Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They’re both dogs!

11. If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn’t he just buy dinner?

12. If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

13. If corn oil is made from corn and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?

14. If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

15. Is Disney World the only people trap operated by a mouse?

16. Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

17. Stop singing and read on . . .

18. Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet soup?

19. Why do they call it an asteroid when it’s outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemorrhoid when it’s in your butt?

20. Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride he sticks his head out the window?


Sometimes the month of May is sad as so many things come to an end. The next few weeks I will be bidding farewell to fourteen private students, twelve of which I have known for ten years or more. Tonight, one of my all time favorite television programs came to an end.

For seven years I have been glued to the television screen each week – even during the re-runs, wishing each episode ran longer than its customary sitxy minutes. Many times, I would watch the video the following day, as so many of the episodes were so captivating. For two presidential elections, I wished that Josiah Barlett (played by Martin Sheen) was really on the ballot! Tonight I watched CJ Craig (Dayton’s own Alison Janney), President & Mrs. Bartlett (Mrs. – Sotckard Channing), Josh, and the others I have known for seven years, depart the White House. In Decemeber, one of my favorite actors, John Spencer who portrayed Leo McGarry, the president’s chief of staff, died of a heart attack.

OK – finally – in the last episode, there were things that really bothered me. I have always been critical of movies or television programs with inaccurate White House layouts, but THE WEST WING was always on top of the game, having evolved out of AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT. Tonight, however, inauguration day, was heaped with things that would not have happened.

First of all, Mrs. Barlett and the President discuss the weather for inauguration day, and she asks, “Who determined the changing of power should occur in the cold winter?” President Bartlett said, “Jefferson, Adams, Franklin…” Ugh! The traditional date, beginning with John Adams, was March 4th. It remained this date until Franklin Roosevelt moved it to January 20th.
The traditional parade, which lasts for 3-4 hours following the swearing in ceremony was over WAY too soon and the new First Lady sends a reminder to President Santos that it is 6:00PM and they needed to prepare for the balls. Generally, the parade is still continuing until after 6:00PM, and the balls do not begin until after 9:00PM. Plus, the day was still very light. In January at 6:00PM?

As CJ Craig was leaving the White House, she strolled in front of the White House where people, mostly sight-seers were strolling casually along Pennsylvania Avenue. There was no reviewing stand for the parade (which ended way too soon!) and it is Washington, DC during the inauguration – there would have been no way you could move in the city due to the excessive crowds – and especially not in front of the White House.

Normally, I am more forgiving, but this show has always displayed such tremendous attention to detail, and tonight was such a let down. Very disappointing last episode.

Still, I must say this was still the only television show which has held me captive for seven years.

Here are a few write ups…

NEW YORK – It was an orderly transition Sunday night as President Jed Bartlet left office and “The West Wing” came to a graceful end.

After seven TV seasons (and two terms in his fictional White House), the heroic, quirky, often embattled chief executive played by Martin Sheen was succeeded by Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits). As the Bartlet administration came to its inevitable conclusion, so did the NBC drama.

“You did a lot of good, Jed, a lot of good,” the First Lady (Stockard Channing) told her husband as Inauguration Day dawned.

Bartlet’s mood at that moment must have matched many viewers’: relief, satisfaction, gratitude and sadness that it was about to be over.

And later on, Abbie Bartlet said proudly, “Jed, you made it. You’re still here” — after the assassination attempt, his battle with multiple sclerosis, and the punishing duties of his job.

Sentiment hung heavy through the hour, both for the characters and the audience. In particular, former chief of staff Leo McGarry, who had died suddenly on the campaign trail as Santos’ vice-presidential running mate, was repeatedly recalled (as was, implicitly, the late John Spencer, who played him until his death of a heart attack last December).

“I’m gonna take one final stroll around the joint, to make sure nobody’s making off with the cutlery,” Bartlet told his secretary (Lily Tomlin) after tending to one final presidential task: signing some pardons in the oval office.

Caution: Spoiler alert. Would he pardon Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), a trusted senior adviser who had leaked classified information out of conscience, then confessed; been fired, tried and indicted; and now was facing prison?

Though still torn between feelings of betrayal and affection — well, of course, Bartlet pardoned Toby.

For the episode, a full-scale inauguration platform was erected, where the ceremony would soon begin as, back at the White House, Bartlet staffers watched coverage of it on their TVs and finished packing up.

Then, at 42 minutes into the hour, Santos took the oath of office. An era was over. So, remarkably, was the brief inauguration scene.

“Nice speech,” the former president told President Santos (viewers will never know).

“No JFK,” Santos replied.

“No,” smiled Bartlet. “But you’ve got time. Make me proud, Mr. President.”

“I’ll do my best, Mr. President,” Santos said.

And Bartlet was gone.

In the unseen Santos administration ahead, “West Wing” favorites Donna Moss and Josh Lyman (Janel Moloney and Bradley Whitford) will be part of the team — and presumably will remain an item, a recent development after having been partners for years in TV’s sexiest unconsummated, unacknowledged romance.

“The West Wing,” which premiered in fall 1999, was the vision of Aaron Sorkin, whose genius was reflected in the pilot episode, repeated Sunday night just before the finale aired. Sorkin not only created the series, but wrote all the episodes for several seasons before leaving it.

Although a popular hit as well as a critical smash, the series in recent seasons dropped precipitously from its former Top-10 status and was canceled by the network.

Even so, this season’s episodes have been strong, charting not only White House goings-on but also the campaign between Santos and his Republican challenger, Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda).

Viewers can be cheered that Sorkin will be back on TV: NBC has announced that his new series, “Studio 60 on Sunset Strip” will be on its fall lineup, with stars including “West Wing” alumni Whitford and Timothy Busfield.

And Sunday the final scene of “The West Wing” left the audience on a forward-looking note, too, even if expressed in a wistful tone.

“What are you thinking about?” Abbie Bartlet asked her husband as they flew back home to New Hampshire after the marvelous adventure they had shared with “West Wing” fans.

“Tomorrow,” he replied.

It’s the little things that doom a presidency: the Depression; Watergate; Aaron Buerge proposing to Helene Eksterowicz.

The West Wing leaves office Sunday night having survived 154 episodes, seven seasons, cast and crew departures and the death of a beloved costar, but never having recovered from The Bachelor.

Once a Top 10 hit, the Oval Office drama faltered four seasons ago, when it was up against ABC’s then-new, then-hot matrimonial-minded franchise. In one year, viewership fell 22 percent. And it never got back up. This season, the show was about as popular as such quickly forgotten series as The Book of Daniel and Threshold.

Sunday’s finale, airing at 8 p.m. (ET/PT) on NBC, looks forward to a new administration that audiences will never see, barring a reunion movie or series sequel. Titled “Tomorrow,” the episode takes place on Inauguration Day–Congressman Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) is moving into the West Wing; President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) is moving out.

In real life, Sheen is moving onto Ireland and undergrad studies; among his costars, Bradley Whitford is moving onto West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin’s new Saturday Night Live-inspired series, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, starring Matthew Perry.

Borrowing from Will & Grace, The West Wing has loaded up on guest stars, or at least distinguished alumni, in its final days. Mary-Louise Parker, Marlee Matlin and Tim Matheson were among those who reprised their recurring roles in recent weeks. Rob Lowe, who left the show in 2003 after squabbling over his role and his paycheck, returns Sunday for a cameo as Sam Seaborn, Bartlet’s former spin doctor.

Like the real Washington, D.C., the fake Washington, D.C., of The West Wing relied on a large, revolving crew of steady pros, not flashy stars, to get its business done. Since things tend to run smoother if the president sticks around, Sheen stuck around for the full run, his character having staved off several international crises, not to mention a 2002 campaign challenge from Barbra Streisand’s better half.

Key West Wing staffers Whitford (as Josh Lyman), Janel Moloney (as Donna Moss), Allison Janney (as C.J. Cregg), Richard Schiff (as Toby Ziegler) and Dulé Hill (as Charlie Young) also remained loyal to the cause. Stockard Channing, as Bartlet’s wife Abigail and the nation’s first lady, appeared in more than 50 episodes from 1999 through Sunday.

John Spencer was a West Wing lifer, too, his battle-tested Leo McGarry, Bartlet’s confidante and former chief of staff, was a linchpin of the show and a key player in this past season’s election storyline (his character was Smits’ running mate). When he died last Dec. 16 from a heart attack, it seemed a final, fatal blow to a series already listing. NBC announced West Wing’s cancellation a month later, although the network said the pink slip was being written prior to the actor’s death.

As far as Bartlet and company were concerned, McGarry lived on until April, when he died (off screen) on election night–something that would be called a neat dramatic twist had it not been necessitated by a real-life tragedy.

Spencer’s death was the gravest of The West Wing off-screen dramas, which included the Lowe falling out, the 2001 salary holdouts of Janney, Schiff, Spencer and Whitford, the 2003 exits of Sorkin and director Thomas Schlamme, and most recently, the reputed pay demands of unnamed “key castmembers” over a planned retrospective special.

NBC defused the last one by pulling the plug on the retrospective, once slated to air before the finale. In its place, at 7 p.m. (ET/PM) Sunday, the network will rerun the show’s inaugural episode, originally broadcast Sept. 22, 1999.

Through it all, The West Wing won Emmys, lots of Emmys–24 for the series, including four for Outstanding Drama, four for Janney and one trophy each for Channing, Spencer and Whitford. Its haul puts it sixth on the all-time series wins list behind Frasier (37 Emmys), The Mary Tyler Moore Show (29), Cheers (28), Hill Street Blues (26) and The Carol Burnett Show (25). It’s possible it could claim even more glory at this coming fall’s Emmys–nominations are announced in July.

As a TV president, Sheen outlasted the likes of Geena Davis (of the one-and-done Commander in Chief), Patty Duke (of the one-and-done Hail to the Chief) and the marked chief executives of 24.

Perhaps if Aaron and Helene hadn’t looked so in love, The West Wing would still be flying high–and Sheen would be lobbying for an end run around term limits.

There is an undercurrent of energy thrumming through the Universe. Like the wind or a whisper, we can sometimes hear it and often feel it. Most of the time, we sense this energy unconsciously without any tangible proof it is really there. Thoughts, emotions, and the life force in all living things are forms of this kind of energy. So are creativity, growth, and change. The impressions, images, and vague premonitions we get about people and situations are other examples of formless energy. When you enter a space and feel an “intangible tension” in the air that gives you a sense of foreboding in your gut, what you are likely experiencing is energy.
Energy cannot be destroyed, but it can be transformed or transferred from one person, thing, or source to another. Though energy is formless, it does take form and shape in the way it flows and resides within all things: a grain of sand, a bird, a stone, and an ocean wave. Living things radiate complex vibrations while nonliving things’ vibrations are simpler. Energy is a magnifier that can attract like energies while repelling disparate ones. Many of our reactions to people and circumstances are based on unconscious reactions to their energies. We may even intuitively tune into the energy of a situation we are facing when making a decision about how to proceed. With careful practice and meditation, we can learn to sense the energy within other living things and ourselves. We can also become more attuned to how we are impacted by different kinds of energy. For instance, being around too many energies can leave one person feeling edgy or excited, while another person will feel tired and drained.
While some people feel that energy can be controlled, others see it is as the unknowable force that moves through all things. The combined energy in all things plays a hand in birth, death, growth, movement, and stillness. Practitioners of Aikido believe that all living beings share a common energy source that is our life force. Whatever your beliefs, it is worthwhile to explore the roles energy plays in your life so you can understand it more fully.
The Girl with the golden hair
Already during ABBA’s heydays Björn and Benny had been interested in stage musicals. As part of ABBA’s 1977 world tour they had written a mini-musical called ‘The girl with the golden hair’. Agnetha and Frida played two different sides of a girl who left her hometown searching for fame and success, the story describing her problems and loneliness when she finally succeeds. Songs featured are: ‘Thank you for the music’, ‘I wonder (departure)’, ‘I’m a marionette’ and ‘Get on the carrousel’. It can be heard in an adapted form on their album ‘ABBA – The Album’.
Also on their last album ‘The Visitors’ it is clear that Björn and Benny were heading in this direction. ‘I let the music speak’ is a fine example.

Meeting Tim Rice
In December 1981 Björn and Benny had their first meeting with Tim Rice about a possible collaboration. Björn and Benny were still working with ABBA but the New York theatre producer Richard Vos knew about their desire to write a musical. He is the one who brought the three together. Tim Rice, lyricist of musicals like ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Evita’, turned out to be the lyricist and dramatist Björn and Benny needed to realise their new musical challenge.
Tim Rice had several potential subjects for a musical, but Chess was the idea which most appealed to Björn and Benny. Inspired by a chess match between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fisher which took place in Iceland in 1972, Tim had written a fictional love story about a Russian chess champion who fell in love with the female second (and lover) of the American player. This all with the underlying suspence of the East-West conflict typical of the cold war period.
Three Knights Ltd
In November 1982, when ABBA were in the UK to promote their album ‘The Singles’, a deal between the three was signed.

Hover over picture to see more…
A company ‘Three Knights Ltd’ was formed to handle the Chess project. One of the first things they did was to go on an excursion to Moscow in February 1983, to sample the atmosphere of the world’s Chess capital. Then the commuting between Stockholm and London started. The Chess project had to be fitted into a busy schedule connected to the ABBA commitments that Björn and Benny still had. They had long sessions with Tim Rice during which Tim’s synopsis was worked out in more detail. It was decided where the principal songs should occur and what emotions and plot development they were intended to convey.
Now Björn and Benny started to write the music following this pattern. Dummy lyrics were written by Björn in order to be able to emphasise the rhythmic patterns of the music. Sometimes Tim found them so good, that he decided to leave bits and pieces unchanged.
Album release and concert tour

After two years of hard work they had written all the music and lyrics for Chess. To be able have a grip on the whole project the idea of releasing an album before the show was followed. Unfamiliar with a musical project like Chess Björn and Benny wanted to hear it all first before it would end up on stage. As neither Benny or Björn can read or write notes the orchestration was done by Anders Eljas, with whom they had worked together already during their ABBA period. On October 31th 1983 they started the recordings of the Chess album in the Polar Music Studios in Stockholm. They took almost six months. Only the contribution of the London Symphony Orchestra and the Ambrosian Singers were recorded in London. Besides the English orchestra and choir a Swedish rock band and rock choir were used. The principal parts were sung by British artists Elaine Paige, Barbara Dickson, Murray Head and Denis Quilley. They were joined by the two Swedish top performers Björn Skifs and Tommy Körberg. The double album was released on October 26th 1984.
To support the album release Chess embarked on a concert tour calling at five European cities: starting in London on October 27th, then Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg and ending in Stockholm. It featured the huge ensemble, London Symphony Orchestra and all, that appeared on the album. The part of Svetlana was sung by the Swedish singer Karin Glenmark, backing vocalist on the studio album, as Barbara Dickson had agreed on singing the part on the studio album only. The album generated two smash hit singles ‘One night in Bangkok’ and ‘I know him so well’. Both topped the charts in many different countries around the world. Later a compilation album called ‘Chess pieces’ was released.
Stage version
It was then Michael Bennett’s (the director) task to put it up on stage. Sets had to be assembled and cast auditions took place between August and October 1985. Right from the start they had to deal with various problems, especially with the technicalities of the computerised video wall, part of the set, consisting of 128 video monitors. They even had to look for a new director as Micheal Bennett had to withdraw due to health problems. Trevor Nunn took over in the beginning of February 1986 and on 3 March 1986 rehearsals began to put Chess up on stage in the Prince Edward theatre in London. Chess had it’s opening night performance on May 14th. It was received very well and ran for nearly four highly successful years in London’s West End.
Chess on Broadway
In 1988 Chess was staged on Broadway. The storyline was much adapted to the American taste. In addition two new songs were written by Björn and Benny especially for this Broadway production, namely ‘Someone else’s story’ and ‘Lullaby’. Even an original Broadway cast recording was made and released. But despite all the efforts of everyone and advanced ticket bookings of £ 2,000,000 the New York critics panned it. Within eight weeks after the opening night on April 28th 1988 the public lost interest and Chess on Broadway was forced to close. The original concept album is still very popular though and Chess has been staged in different versions throughout the U.S.A. since its run on Broadway. Apparently Tim Rice is planning to bring ‘Chess’ back to Broadway again in 2000/2001. He is partly rewriting the musical to come up with a new version that will replace the several versions that were available for staging in the U.S.A. Check the ‘Latest news’ section for up to date information.
Chess performances
From 1988 onward Chess has often been staged in concert format in Sweden. After Chess had closed in London in 1990, it embarked on a concert tour through the UK. For twelve months it played to sell-out audiences at numerous theatres throughout Britain. Since then similar tours of Chess have also taken place throughout Europe and the U.S.A. with great success, so the musical is still enjoyed by many people.
In August 1994 six Chess performances of ‘Chess in concert’ took place at a Göteborg venue in Sweden. During these concerts Benny himself was playing the grand piano and accordion. One of the performances resulted in the release of the ‘Chess in Concert’ album later that year.

For Doina Cornea
This was also a so called mini-musical, and was written by Björn and Benny for a special occassion. In 1989 a choir consisting of 120 young choristers from all over the world gathered on stage to raise their voices in the common purpose of ‘Global Unity and Future hope’ as sleeve notes of one of their singles read. On August 17th this choir had a concert in the Stockholm arena ‘Globen’. Alongside music of composer like Theodorakis and Schönberg, Björn and Benny’s ‘For Doina Cornea’ was presented. It was a 20 minute work featuring 3 pieces. Only one piece of this mini musical has ever been released officially. ‘The Conducator’ was released on both a live album of the concert in Globen, and Benny’s second solo CD called ‘November 1989’. The lead on this song is sung by Tommy Körberg who also played one of the leading parts in their musical Chess. ‘For Doina Cornea’ is about the Romanian dissident Doina Cornea who fought against the Ceausescu-regime. ‘The Conducator’ refers to the dictator Ceausescu.

Finding a story
After Chess Björn and Benny wanted to make another musical. They searched for a consice story, dramatic and full of strong emotions; the perfect story to turn into a musical. They both felt strongly for ‘Utvandrarna’ by the Swedish novellist Vilhelm Moberg, but with it’s little less than 2,000 pages it can hardly be called consice. Furthermore Vilhelm Moberg is an author who is highly respected in Sweden, so using his work as a starting-point was a risky business open to possible criticism.
Still, they decided to give it a try with ‘Utvandrarna’ or ‘The emigrants’ as it is called in English. The musical would be entirely in Swedish, as it was most suitable for this typically Swedish project and as they were able to express themselves best in their native language. The epic story revolves around a hard working and devoted couple Kristina and Karl-Oskar in the south of Sweden in the middle of the 19th century. Because of famine and oppression they are forced to try their luck in the so called ‘New World’, as the United States was referred to at the time. The story is multi-layered; dealing with the love between two people, faith, the search for freedom and a feeling of being rootless. Much of which still applies to refugees and asylum seekers of today.
Difficult start
With Vilhelm Moberg’s daughter, Eva Moberg, they discussed the copyrights. It was through Eva they met the dramatist Carl Johan Seth with whom they worked together for a few years. To narrow the 2,000 pages long epic down, it was soon decided to centre the musical around the powerful main female character Kristina. While working on the plot development they had small pieces of paper fixed on a wall in Benny’s studio ‘Tornet’, each paper representing scenes and emotions that the musical was going to contain. With this as a guideline Benny started to compose the music whereas Björn had the difficult task to transform Vilhelm Moberg’s sacred prose into musical lyrics and dialogue. In the meantime Benny had moved his offices and studio to Skeppsholmen. After one and a half years they reached a deadlock. They had a manuscript and some finished songs but they didn’t succeed in creating a unity out of the different scenes. At times they were close to throwing in the towel.
Inspiring co-operation
It was not before 1994 that director Lars Rudolfsson came into the picture. From this point on the co-operation between Lars, Benny and Björn would be one of constant interplay of inspiration. Things really started to take shape. Ideas, lyrics and music were exchanged between them. Benny worked closely together on the orchestration with Anders Eljas again. At the end of that year the cast auditions took place at which Lars, Björn and Benny as well as Anders Eljas were present. The principal parts went to fairly unknown Swedish talents: Helen Sjöholm was selected for the pivotal role of Kristina and Karl-Oskar was to be played by Anders Ekborg. The two other main parts went to Åsa Bergh and Peter Jöback. Rehearsals then started in the beginning of 1995.
Opening night
On October 7th the 3 hours and 20 minutes long musical Kristina från Duvemåla had its opening night in ‘Malmö Musikteater’ in Malmö. This theatre was the only theatre big enough in Sweden to stage such a large production, in which around 160 people are involved, both on and offstage. Besides that the theatre is subsidized and has its own orchestra and choir, which lowered the production costs trembendously. This enabled the producers to keep the tickets reasonably priced. Björn was so afraid of a scathing judgment by the critics that he took precautionary measures by booking a flight to Rome for the morning after the opening night. But he didn’t need to take refuge in Rome. The musical was received exceptionally well in Sweden, both by critics and audience. A more unanimous acclaim is seldomly seen. Then Kristina från Duvemåla moved to Göteborg on April 13th 1996, after which it alternately played in Göteborg and Malmö.
Kristina in America
To sound out the response of the American public to a musical like Kristina från Duvemåla, a concert version of the musical was performed in Minneapolis and Lindström in the state of Minnesota in October of that year. Many Swedish descendants still live in the state of Minnesota and this is also the state where Vilhelm Moberg, the author of the novel where the musical is based upon, pictured the characters of his books as immigrants. The concert version featured the Swedish principal players. Björn and Herbert Kretzmer, who wrote the English lyrics to ‘Les Miserables’, are reportedly in the process of translating the entire musical into English, after which they hope to eventually stage it in the U.S.A.
Album release
During the same month a triple album called ‘Kristina från Duvemåla, den kompletta utgåvan’, was released in Sweden. Five singles were released from the album, of which ‘Guldet blev till sand/Jag har förlikat mig till slut’ topped the Swedish charts for nine months. The music of Kristina från Duvemåla is best described as a mixture of classical and Swedish traditional music with a tiny flavour of pop music.
Kristina in Stockholm
With Kristina från Duvemåla playing alternately in Göteborg and Malmö, Björn and Benny also wanted to bring the musical to their hometown Stockholm. The only theatre more or less suitable for this large production was ‘Cirkus’, but first it needed to be rebuilt. They needed special permission as the theatre is on the list of national monuments and historic buildings. As soon as permission was given Björn and Benny started to invest their money in staging the musical in ‘Cirkus’. Kristina från Duvemåla had its opening night in the beautifully renovated Stockholm theatre on February 14th 1998. Critics said the show had matured and become better since the opening night in Malmö.
Future plans
After 1 million Swedes had gone to see the musical since its first performance in October 1995, the musical finally closed in Stockholm on June 19th 1999. There are rumours it will re-open in Malmö in the year 2001. There are also plans for having it staged by Lars Rudolfsson in London. Check the ‘Latest news’ section for up to date information.
Today, May 8, 1924, my grandmother, Donna Mae Clary-Barmes, was born in Boone Township of Madison County, Indiana.

Donna at age 6

Donna, senior picture, 1940


Donna with her mother, Mary Belle (Jones) Clary; her daughter, Diana (Barmes) Haas; and her eldest grandson, Darin (me), 1964.

Donna, age 64, 1990

Donna Mae Clary-Barmes

May 8, 1924 – June 27, 1992

BOSTON – Lillian Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, has died, a funeral home said Sunday. She was 99.

Asplund, who was just 5 years old, lost her father and three brothers — including a fraternal twin — when the “practically unsinkable” ship went down in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg.

She died Saturday at her home in Shrewsbury, said Ronald E. Johnson, vice president of the Nordgren Memorial Chapel in Worcester, Mass.

“She went to sleep peacefully,” he said.

Asplund’s mother, Selma, and another brother, Felix, who was 3, also survived the Titanic sinking in the early morning of April 15, 1912.

Asplund was the last Titanic survivor with actual memories of the sinking, but she shunned publicity and rarely spoke about the events.

At least two other survivors are living, but they were too young to have memories of the disaster. Barbara Joyce West Dainton of Truro, England, was 10 months old and Elizabeth Gladys “Millvina” Dean of Southampton, England, was 2 months old.

The Asplund family had boarded the ship in Southampton, England, as third-class passengers on their way back to Worcester from their ancestral homeland, Sweden, where they had spent several years.

Asplund’s mother described the sinking in an interview with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette newspaper shortly after she and her two children arrived in the city.

Selma Asplund said the family went to the Titanic’s upper deck after the ship struck the iceberg.
“I could see the icebergs for a great distance around … It was cold and the little ones were cuddling close to one another and trying to keep from under the feet of the many excited people … My little girl, Lillie, accompanied me, and my husband said ‘Go ahead, we will get into one of the other boats.’ He smiled as he said it.”

Because they lost all of their possessions and money, the city of Worcester held a fundraiser and a benefit concert that together brought in about $2,000 for the surviving Asplunds.

Lillian Asplund never married and worked at secretarial jobs in the Worcester area most of her life. She retired early to care for her mother, who was described as having never gotten over the tragedy.

Selma Asplund died on the 52nd anniversary of the sinking in 1964 at age 91. Felix Asplund died on March 1, 1983, at age 73.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Johnson said.

This weekend I got to see one of my favorite musicals, CHESS, on Friday and Saturday. The show was produced by the Cincinnati Music Theatre, a good community theatre, but the production was lacking in certain areas. Still, it was by no means intolerable. I saw this show in NYC, Louisville, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and Wright State University. When Wright State performed CHESS, the director called up lyricist Timothy Rice to work with him on his personal concept of this show which had been drastically altered between the London and NYC productions.

CHESS is a musical with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, formerly of ABBA. The story involves a romantic triangle between two players in a world chess championship, and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the characters personalities are loosely based on those of Victor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer and the oddity of the Merano championship in the musical is based on the similar oddities which occurred during the 1978 World Championship between Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov.

Following the pattern of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, a concept album was recorded and released in 1984, before any stage production was underway. A single from the album, “One Night In Bangkok“, sung by Murray Head, was an unlikely top-40 hit, and the duet, “I Know Him So Well“, by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson, held the number one spot on the UK singles charts for 4 weeks in February 1985.

CHESS premiered in London‘s West End in 1986 and played for three years. A radically-rewritten Broadway version opened in 1988 to poor reviews and closed in just eight weeks. It is occasionally produced by regional theatrical companies, sometimes merging elements from both versions. CHESS-Baltimore, a version that opened on March 19, 2004, is based on the Broadway version.

A new version, in Swedish, premiered in Stockholm, Sweden in February 2002 and ran through June 2003.

CHESS, the British version
Act 1
The world chess championship is being held in the northern Italian town of Merano. The brash American champion relishes the crowd’s affection, while his Russian challenger and Molokov, his second (actually a KGB agent), watch with curiosity and disdain on TV. The opening ceremony features an arbiter insisting on holding the proceedings together, US and Soviet diplomats vowing their side will win, and marketers just looking to make a buck. The American storms out of a rules meeting, leaving his second, Florence, in an argument with the Arbiter and the Russians. She later scolds him, but he insists that she, a child emigre who escaped Hungary during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, should support him. Instead, she reflects that “nobody’s on nobody’s side”. The first game of the match goes badly, with dirty tricks nearly evolving into a brawl. A meeting to smooth things over goes badly and strands the Russian and Florence together, where they quickly develop feelings for one another. As the matches continue, the American flounders and blames Florence, who leaves him. The Russian wins the championship, then defects to the west. Answering reporters’ questions about his loyalties, his “Anthem” declares that “my land’s only borders/ lie around my heart.”

Act 2
A year later, the Russian is set to defend his championship in Bangkok, Thailand. The American is already there, chatting up locals about the nightlife. Florence and the Russian are now lovers, and worry about the situation. Molokov, meanwhile, has trained a new protege to challenge the Russian. The American interviews the Russian on TV and makes obvious attempts to rattle him, even declaring that the Russian’s wife is being allowed to leave the USSR to attend the match. She and Florence both reflect on their relationships with him. The American goes to the Russian with information about Florence’s long-lost father, claiming that instead of being a hero as she believed, he was instead a collaborator. The Russian, and later Florence, dismiss him, unwilling to hear what he has to say. He reflects on his life and his obsession with chess as a way to escape an unhappy childhood. In the deciding game of the match, The Russian manages an exceptional victory, and realizes that it may be the only success he can achieve – Svetlana castigates him for wallowing in the crowd’s empty praise. Both acknowledge they are doomed to care only for themselves. Later, he and Florence reflect on their story that seemed so promising, and how they “go on pretending/ stories like ours/ have happy endings.”

CHESS, the Broadway version
Act 1
The world chess championship is being held in Bangkok. At a press conference, the brash American challenger, Freddie Trumper, relishes the crowd’s affection, while the current Russian champion, Anatoly Sergievsky, and Molokov, his second, watch with curiosity and disdain. During the match Freddie accuses Anatoly of receiving outside help via the flavor of yogurt he is eating, and Freddie storms out, leaving his second, Florence, in an argument with the Arbiter and the Russians. She later scolds him, but he insists that she, a child emigre who escaped Hungary during the 1956 uprisings, should support him. A meeting to smooth things over goes badly and strands the Russian and Florence together, where they quickly develop feelings for one another. Freddie was supposed to attend, but got sidetracked by the night life, and arrived very late to see Anatoly and Florence holding hands. When he later accuses her of conspiring against him, she reflects that “nobody’s on nobody’s side”, and decides to leave him. As the matches continue, the American flounders, finishing Act 1 with 1 win and 5 losses; one more loss will cost him the tournament. Anatoly surprises everyone by his defection at the end of Act 1. Answering reporters’ questions about his loyalties, his “Anthem” declares that “my land’s only borders/lie around my heart.”

Act 2
Eight weeks later, everyone is in Budapest to witness the conclusion of the tournament. Florence is elated to be back in her hometown of Budapest, but dismayed that she remembers none of it, not even what happened to her Father, since he had to leave her in 1956. Molokov offers to help and starts ‘investigating’ Florence’s father’s fate. As Anatoly and Florence listen to a local Hungarian choir, he meets three friends from his hometown, which pleases Anatoly, but local CIA operatives are suspicious…why would the Soviets allow people to leave Russia just to see a friend? Even Svetlana, Anatoly’s wife, has been flown into Budapest to see her defecting husband. She wishes the best for Anatoly, and decides not to inform him that as a result of his defection, Svetlana lost their apartment, her brother was denied access to medical school, Anatoly’s own brother has also been forced to move to a smaller apartment, and back in Moscow Anatoly has been falsely accused of embezzling…all information Anatoly learns from Molokov. Molokov no longer has an ‘official’ role, and is officially in Budapest merely because of his love of chess. Unofficially, he badly wants Anatoly back and has no hesitation in exerting pressure or veiled threats. He also makes an ally in Freddie’s agent, Walter, for unknown reasons. These threats strain Anatoly’s relationship with Florence, and she shares her Anatoly-related woes with Svetlana. The threats also degrade Anatoly’s ability to play chess, so that Freddie starts winning games until they are tied 5-5…the next game will decide the match. Freddie reminisces about his childhood to a sexy female reporter, and eagerly anticipates winning the match, being totally oblivious to Anatoly’s troubles. Molokov then informs Florence that they have found her father and they can see him tonight! While she does not remember her father, and she does not recognize herself as the baby in the photo her father shows her, he still convinces her through a Hungarian lullaby. As the scene rises on the final game, Anatoly is missing, and no one sympathizes…there have been so many shenanigans in the tournament that no one wants to hear any more excuses. All are prepared to concede the match to Freddie when Anatoly wanders in and proceeds to play. He has not slept all night. During the game he realizes that despite all the family that he has brought harm to, by his defection, he cannot hurt his true love, Florence, by depriving her of her father. He chooses to recant his defection, and makes a tactical error. Freddie immediately takes advantage of the blunder and proceeds to win the game…and the tournament, becoming the new world champion. Anatoly returns to Moscow a broken man. Florence is waiting for her father so they can leave for America when she is approached by Walter. He confesses to her that the old man is not her father and her father is most likely dead. It seems that the Soviets struck a deal with Walter, a secret CIA agent, that if they managed to get Anatoly back, they would release a captured American spy. Their initial attempts at getting Anatoly back, by using Svetlana, and other family members had failed, and they had finally succeeded by using Florence. As the curtain closes, Florence has left Freddie, been lost by Anatoly, and lost the father she never had, and she realizes that her only borders lie around her heart.

For more information on this musical, please visit:
http://www.hahns.tv/Musicals/Chess/chess.htm

The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life. Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on earth. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity. We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows.

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on, as we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard but we always keep moving on. Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what’s familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark; instead, water humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than run away from them.

Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.

Yesterday I took Jose to the dentist, and just as they finished the second root canal – on a front tooth he had broken back in Oregon – the tooth came out all the way. He was in a good deal of pain, and the dentist decided to have a semi-permanant tooth made for the open hole… Jose spent the rest of the day on the couch in the basement, watching TV, coming up stairs to remind me he was still happy, and eating fruit slices all day.

To live harmoniously, we need to be supportive and helpful to all people, creatures, and plant life that share this earth with us. While “being of service” is part of being a good citizen of the world, it also feels good to help others. When we do something for others in service, without the expectation of anything in return, we are turning our actions into offerings.

There are many ways to be of service to our community. There are the obvious and much needed volunteer opportunities, such as serving Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter, mentoring our youth, or cleaning up a beach. Then, there is the kind of service that we may not even think of as being acts of service. Learning a new language (perhaps sign language) so that you can talk to more people is a way to reach out to others. Inviting someone who isn’t motivated enough to exercise on their own to join you on your daily walk is a way to give of yourself. Sharing flowers or vegetables from your garden, organizing a poetry reading, offering to babysit for a busy parent, or donating pet food to an animal shelter all are simple ways to offer your services to your community.

There are many ways that you can serve the world. Imagine the impact we would have on the environment if we picked up one piece of trash off the street everyday and chose not to drive our car once a week. Even gardening tactics such as throwing wildflower seeds onto a vacant lot can brighten the lives of others – including the lives of birds and insects. Everyday, you can do something to make this world a better place. During meditation, ask for guidance on what you can do to be of service. This can be a wonderful way to start your day. Smiling at a stranger who looks down in the dumps or teaching your neighborhood kids how to whistle will impact someone’s day or even their life. Giving of yourself is the best gift that you can give.

Yesterday I took Jose to the dentist, and just as they finished the second root canal – on a front tooth he had broken back in Oregon – the tooth came out all the way. He was in a good deal of pain, and the dentist decided to have a semi-permanant tooth made for the open hole… Jose spent the rest of the day on the couch in the basement, watching TV, coming up stairs to remind me he was still happy, and eating fruit slices all day.

To live harmoniously, we need to be supportive and helpful to all people, creatures, and plant life that share this earth with us. While “being of service” is part of being a good citizen of the world, it also feels good to help others. When we do something for others in service, without the expectation of anything in return, we are turning our actions into offerings.

There are many ways to be of service to our community. There are the obvious and much needed volunteer opportunities, such as serving Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter, mentoring our youth, or cleaning up a beach. Then, there is the kind of service that we may not even think of as being acts of service. Learning a new language (perhaps sign language) so that you can talk to more people is a way to reach out to others. Inviting someone who isn’t motivated enough to exercise on their own to join you on your daily walk is a way to give of yourself. Sharing flowers or vegetables from your garden, organizing a poetry reading, offering to babysit for a busy parent, or donating pet food to an animal shelter all are simple ways to offer your services to your community.

There are many ways that you can serve the world. Imagine the impact we would have on the environment if we picked up one piece of trash off the street everyday and chose not to drive our car once a week. Even gardening tactics such as throwing wildflower seeds onto a vacant lot can brighten the lives of others – including the lives of birds and insects. Everyday, you can do something to make this world a better place. During meditation, ask for guidance on what you can do to be of service. This can be a wonderful way to start your day. Smiling at a stranger who looks down in the dumps or teaching your neighborhood kids how to whistle will impact someone’s day or even their life. Giving of yourself is the best gift that you can give.

LOL! Many could get two of the four, especially the first two; however, most could not get the last two. So here they are:

The sweetheart next door… ERIN MORAN who played Joni from HAPPY DAYS

The neighborhood terror! JAY NORTH who played Dennis in DENNIS THE MENACE!

In a movie she got a “book on her backside”
ANGELA CARTWRIGHT who played Brigitta in THE SOUND OF MUSIC

She was always playing someone’s sweetheart, and appearing as the younger sister of the most popular motion picture character.
ANN RUTHERFORD who played Andy Hardy’s (Mickey Rooney) sweetheart, and the role of Careen O’Hara, the younger sister of Scarlett O’Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND

I have been rather tired after this past weekend, but have managed to do a few chores around the house. I have a contractor coming to do some minor repair, fix-up things, as well as adding a ceiling/vent fan to the bathroom.

Tomorrow I take Jose to the dentist for two root canals. I will probably keep him home the remainder of the day. They are not as bad as pulling a tooth, but it is still something for which he should try to rest afterwards.

I had an Email from a former student in New York, basically asking, “What happens when you feel as though you are falling in love with someone and yet you don’t know how they feel?”

UGH! Is she asking the wrong person. That’s the story of my life! I tend to be the one who never utters a word, or shows any interest. Often times we go our own separate ways, and then I hear, a number of years later, “I had the biggest crush on you!” So, I could not provide any former mentor, or fatherly advice on that particular subject. I always tell myself that I will be brave, have courage to tell the other person how I feel, but then I am always afraid of getting shot down. I just lived through one of these particular events with someone who is also in theatre. We are both very similar in our desires to be private and somewhat reclusive, yet, I felt such a strong connection on so many levels. I always enjoyed being in this person’s presence, which for a while was almost daily, and now that we do not see one another as often, I am still slightly drawn in that direction. The right people who have come along before are always in another state, another country, or in a relationship…

The heart – or what ever it happens to be that rules these episodes in our lives – is so peculiar… I wish I could have answered my former student’s question – but I am still trying to figure out the answer for my self. And, then, your sons come to you with the same question – well, Matthew does. Jose, I am sure has no difficulty in this arena.

Maybe I should take advice from him!

I got to do something this weekend that few adults probably have an opportunity to do: I performed in a high school musical with my son and a number of my private voice students. My last time to appear on stage in a high school musical was 1982, and never dreamed that I would do so again after twenty-four years.

The events began unfolding around 2:15PM Thursday afternoon when one of my private students re-ported that the student playing “Mayor Shinn” in Fairmont’s production, The Music Man, was not at dress rehearsal, and would not be doing opening night due to extenu-ating circumstances. My student said that Mr. McDonald (my friend, Brody) had Plan B and Plan C ready to go. I knew that the student teacher would be the most likely candidate. I finished my first two students and as I was waiting my 3:45PM lesson to arrive, Brody called me. After a few minutes of chat, he asked if I would consider stepping into the role. Within ten minutes, the plan for opening night was in place.

I walked over to the school at 5:00PM with a few tux and suit pieces, and Dee Friesenborg, a former parent of Fairmont students who had returned to assist with costuming, assisted me with the remainder of the costume. Brody brought over his cut-away tux coat which set the Mayor’s costume perfectly. After getting fitted with my body mic, a sound check, make-up, a blocking walk-thru with Brody, I was finally ready to look over lines at 6:15PM with a 7:30PM curtain. Thankfully, Becca Childs, the assistant choir director at the high school, assisted me in getting pages containing my lines into plastic sleeves to place into a three-ring binder, and then ran lines with me. Since I had no time, whatsoever, to devote to building a character, the lines seemed to read similar to what I would hear from one of my favorite character actors, Parley Baer, well known for playing Mayor Stoner in The Andy Griffith Show. And it seemed to work very well.

Parley Baer, Mayor Stoner from The Andy Griffith Show

Opening night ran smoothly and I must say, it was somewhat enjoyable for one who does not enjoy performing on stage any more. During one of the opening numbers, I darted to through set pieces to the edge of the stage to see Matthew singing a solo – a solo I did not know he had in the show! Since I figured I would not be going on for Friday’s show, as well as the remainder of the weekend, I went with the artistic team and some parents to Tailgators for drinks and food – staying out much later than I normally would throughout the week (or weekend for that matter).

Friday afternoon, I chatted with Brody and agreed to do the remainder of the weekend’s performances: Friday, Saturday matinee and Saturday evening. By Friday I had 3/4 of the lines memorized, and by Saturday’s shows, I was delivering about 95% without the aide of the script. Whew. Mayor Shinn did not have a ton of lines, but a fair amount which were always funny. This was only my second support-ing, character role to attempt, and I hope it came off well enough that the students, directors and par-ents were satisfied.

There were several downfalls. The student cast for the role could not complete the production, and this is his senior year. And, my son, Matthew, one of the townspeople of River City, had been working two months on the production; I come in and was receiving comments after the show, at church, at lunch after church, at the grocery store, as well as Emails and telephone calls. I understand the nature of this particular beast in performing, but it is still frustrating when you are the parent. But as one friend indicated, “But who would have ever thought you would be in the same high school production with one of your own children?”

Paul Ford, Mayor Shinn The Music Man – motion picture.

Am I glad I did it? Yes and No, but more Yes.

No = due to the above paragraph.

Yes = I was grateful I was afforded the talent and experience to assist in this last minute casting decision so that the students could carry on with their show. It also gave me an apparently to perform alongside some of my senior voice students who will be graduating. However, the best part was being with Brody, Mike Berning (conductor), Terence Kalba (choreographer) and Raymonde Rougier (accompanist), one more time. The five of us were together in 2003 for The Secret Garden, and it was perhaps, one of the most incredible high school productions with which I have ever been involved. All the stars were aligned for that show!

I am so appreciative of the fact that Brody, Mike and Terence trusted, believed in, and encouraged me to do this role. When friends/colleagues trust you with something such as this, stepping in three hours before a show, it is one of the most wonderful compliments one could be paid.

Sue Branson was once again the winner of this week’s Mystery Celebrity…

Susan Ford, the daughter of President Gerald & Betty Ford. Susan’s high school prom was held in the East Room of the White House.

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