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I felt like a kid, tonight.  In fact, it felt like I had the excitement of all my birthdays and Christmases all combined.

Quintin and I met Brian Pollock at The Greene to watch the movie I’ve waited several years to see.

The theatre, at 6:30pm, was packed for the 7:00pm showing, and we sat down in the lower tier, or as Brian aptly stated, “laying down in front of the TV on the floor.”  I was thrilled to see the theater packed.  At first, when I saw the immense lines of young teen girls, I was hopeful that LINCOLN-fever had reached their generation; however, I soon learned they were there to see the new TWILIGHT movie.

My bottom line reaction:  BRAVO!

I am sure the historians will find fault with this movie.  Naturally, there were items I knew, or believed to be historically inaccurate, but this is not a documentary.  LINCOLN is a fictional account based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, TEAM OF RIVALS.  Tony Award winning playwright, Tony Kushner, delivered a tight, believable, and emotional script that highlighted some of our country’s greatest individuals set against the backdrop of the Civil War.

Before the movie even hit theaters, folks were complaining about Sally Field being too old, photos of the White House set not being accurate, or a myriad of other picky items.  Folks were concerned the script would not be accurate.  Again, it was a fictional account, based on actual events.  If we were to examine THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE KING AND I, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, GYPSY, and others, we would be appalled at the truth versus the fictional accounts portrayed on stage.  LINCOLN is no different.

Following a robust applause, the credits scrolled upward.  It was an impressive line-up of names!  I asked Brian if there any actors left in Hollywood to film other movies while this was being filmed.  Incredible performances from some incredible actors.

Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field, as President Lincoln & Mary Todd Lincoln, were everything I hoped they would be.  I was not let down.  Hal Holbrook was brilliant, and I did love the fact that a former Lincoln-actor, LINCOLN (television 1974-1975), was included in this list of stars.  There was not one performance that disappointed me.

For me, the most delightful performance was delivered by Tommy Lee Jones, portraying Pennsylvania congressman, Thaddeus Stevens.  Outstanding!  I smell a supporting actor Oscar nomination!

Many have commented on Daniel Day Lewis’ voice in the movie.  I think everyone believes Abraham Lincoln had a booming baritone voice like James Earl Jones; however, Lincoln’s voice was described as “high pitched, thin and reedy.”  It served him well during speeches before thousands of spectators in an era without electronic sound amplification.  I believe Daniel Day Lewis captured Lincoln’s voice.

In the early stages, several colleagues were fearful of Sally Fields being 20 years older than Daniel Day Lewis, and not matching the 9 year age difference between Lincoln and Mary Todd.  I oft reminded the critics that Mrs. Lincoln, at age 44, looked much older, and with the blessings of Max Factor, Sally Field would be right in the ball park.

And, she was!

Sally Field has succeeded a long line of well-known actresses who have portrayed the first lady:

  • Jane Curtin
  • Donna Murphy
  • Sada Thompson (opposite Hal Holbrook)
  • Glenn Close
  • Ellen Burstyn
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • Julie Harris (in the Broadway play, THE LAST OF MRS. LINCOLN, penned by fellow Ball State University graduate, James Prideaux)
  • Lillian Gish
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald
  • Ruth Gordon
  • and dozens more…

When Gore Vidal’s LINCOLN premiered on television, I was horrified by Mary Tyler Moore’s abrasive portrayal of Mrs. Lincoln.  With the combined script, direction and acting, I felt Tyler-Moore’s particular portrayal was just awful.  Sally Field, for me, personally, was Mary Todd Lincoln.  Ms. Field was terribly believable, capturing Mrs. Lincoln’s fire, intelligence, grace, doubts, feelings and frustrations of being left out of her husband’s White House work, charm, political savvy, tender and protective maternal nature, and a Mary that was very capable of holding her own in a world ruled by men!

Were there items I feel should have been included to better round out the character of Mrs. Lincoln?

Of course.  But this movie was not about Mary Todd Lincoln.  It focused on President Lincoln and those who fought to pass the Thirteenth Amendment.  The writing and directing of this particular character was far better than previous attempts, and Ms. Field’s professional, and personal choices pleased me very much.

There were a few scenes that were historically adjusted, but those moments seemed to strengthen Mary Lincoln’s heartbreak and devastation at the loss of her son, Willie, who died within their first year of residency in the White House, as well as the fire and capacity that Mrs. Lincoln exhibited, much to Abraham’s success.

So… go see LINCOLN.

If you are a historian, take off your historian cap, as I did, and simply rejoice in the truly great work, and the fact that the Lincolns are currently a fairly hot commodity in motion pictures!

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Navi, Chief and Flyer were not about to rouse themselves at 5:00am when The Haasienda began stirring as Quintin showered, and readied himself for a 6:00am rehearsal prior to the MEPA/Bellbrook HS competition.

After Quintin left, Mother and I talked most of the morning away over coffee, and enjoying the antics of the dogs who seemed to enjoy having a new audience for which to perform.

Fairmont’s percussion line did an exceptionally good job this morning, and walked away with a win in their newly elevated class.

Not too long after arriving home, Quintin was back, and we ventured to Hibachi Grill for dinner.

We lounged in my bed/sitting room watching episodes of THE MIDDLE, as well as Jerry Lewis’ WHO’S MINDING THE STORE, another movie, and now the end of The 2012 Academy Awards.

It’s been such a pleasurable weekend, and here are some photos to remember Mother’s visit…

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Some will scratch their heads for a second as they try to recognize this lovely lady.  Some will immediately go to the link.

This is the photograph:

If you cannot figure out who she is, go to Mystery Actress

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This morning I happened to view Matt Lauer’s TODAY SHOW interview/reunion with the actors portraying the family from THE WALTONS.  It was refreshing and uplifting to see these familiar, albeit, older faces.  I found myself smiling throughout the interview as though the seven children and Mama Walton were seated right before me.

What a wonderful gift they offered this morning.

As I strolled through my well-rehearsed morning events of letting dogs out to potty, feeding dogs, giving a dog an insulin shot, pouring my coffee, reading my emails, etc., I kept thinking about THE WALTONS.  When I was a child there were two to three television programs on every night that I could not wait to see.  Forty years later, I generally find myself eager to watch ONCE UPON A TIME on Sunday evenings, and THE MIDDLE and MODERN FAMILY on Wednesdays.  That is it.  Nothing else really appeals to me.  Grant it, that allows more time to spend with my son doing homework, or other time-quality items, but I am still a little sad that my son cannot enjoy television the way I did in my youth.

What is more, we watched these television programs as a family.  This is how we do it in The Haasienda, as well.  As noted this morning by Matt Lauer to the WALTONS actors, “You sat down to dinner together.”  And yes, we sit down to dinner together in this house.

My mother did it that way, as did her parents.

Ma & Pa Ingalls did it that way.

Mama & Daddy Walton did it that way.

Mom & Dad Brady did it that way (but, damned if they didn’t have a maid serving their dinners!)

What was good enough for Mother, the Ingalls, the Waltons, the Bradys and countless other TV families is good enough for my family!

The families of the 1970’s had their own share of dysfunction, but it was all about the way they minimaliszed their dysfunction rather than highlighting it.  Grant it, there were those wonderful sitcoms, ALL IN THE FAMILY and THE JEFFERSONS, along with others, that highlighted their dysfunction, but in the end, their values always surfaced.  They also primed their dysfunction to be the comedic focus for each episode.  With the hideous reality programs, which I deplore, there is little resolution but plenty of notification that more sophomoric drama is to come.

I feel blessed to have grown up in an era where television was more value-centered, and less dysfunction-driven.  Those episodes, scenes, characters and theme songs are still with me today.

Why else would I take the time to blog about them when I should be cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, mopping puppy-tracked floors, etc.?

It is Monday, 1:00pm. The end of the restful, and enjoyable holiday weekend is creeping upon us.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were the most perfect days we’ve had in weeks. Saturday was a bit steamy, but not too hateful. Sunday, however, returned with the higher temperatures, and humidity. Today is becoming its evil twin with highs expected to be in the lower 90’s. Tuesday through Thursday we are supposed to be in the mid-90’s.

Friday and Saturday were somewhat peaceful, and relaxing. Jose and I went to see ROBIN HOOD – quite good, and Saturday, Kelley, our delightful neighbor boy next door, joined us for the downtown Dayton fireworks. Several years ago we took a city bus down to watch the fireworks – and it was so simple! We walked out our front door, hopped on the bus, got off the bus downtown, walked several blocks to the river, watched fireworks, walked back to the bus, got off the bus right in front of our house. No traffic. No parking issues.

In 2001, I found a nifty parking place behind the United Methodist headquarters (commonly known as The God Box) next to the Masonic Temple. We were the only ones to park there! I could not believe it. Most years we have been on vacation over this holiday, and I figured our secret parking area would have been discovered by countless others. Nope! We arrived around 9:30pm, parked, walked a few hundred yards to the Masonic Temple’s hill (I always feel as though I am at the Custis-Lee Mansion at Arlington Cemetery), and watched a splended firework display over the river.

Sunday morning, Jose was out the door for work until 3:00pm. I made a cake, and chatted with Mother on the phone.

Cake: yellow cake mix with some lemon extract. Poured some of the batter into the pan and then scattered thinly sliced strawberries; added the remainder of the batter; backed; more strawberry slices, a packet of white icing mix with some almond extract added, along with some liquefied strawberry jam.

At 2:00pm, the cake and I headed next door for a cookout.

As always, the hours escaped me, and it was nearly 6:00pm when I returned home. I love spending time with my neighbors, who have become more like family. Since the crowd was not as large this time, I actually got to spend time chatting with Don who is usually kept busy at the grill, non-stop.

I came home, and began watching some television programs. At 9:00pm, The American Experience on PBS aired the conclusion of HARRY TRUMAN.

Ahhh…. what a unique politician, a giant of a man, and an incredible American was Harry S. Truman. He, along with President Lincoln, is one of my heroes.

This morning I was wide awake, as usual, around 4:00am. By 6:00am, I was retreating back to some sort of sleep, and lingered in bed to watch a great movie, WHITE SQUALL, based on a true story. Great movie!

Now, I am settled on the deck with my laptop. Flyer rests under my chair, and Logan is stretched out under another table across the deck. Jose is swimming with Brandon Tener.

What a great weekend….

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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I discovered this incredible video by one of Dayton’s own young celebrities – Ryan Vallo.

I am adding Ryan’s text for those who may not have Facebook accounts.

“It’s 2010 and change is EVERYWHERE: our government, our environment, our economy, our culture. I’m Ryan Vallo, a 24 year-old from Dayton, Ohio. Join me as we travel around the globe to see how these changes affect our lives, our families, our communities, our nations, and our world. Welcome to…WE THE PEOPLE!”

Recently, Oprah opened a competition in search of a host with a concept for a new television show she will produce on her new network, the OWN Network. Now, I never send out these vote online for this that and the other email requests, however, I firmly believe in this television show concept. If you find yourself with a free moment, please follow the link below to view and vote for my video that explains my concept.

My apologies in advance for the poor image quality – it appears Oprah’s techs were unable to translate the web video file I sent, but the audio is at the least somewhat intact. Hope you are all well, and I SINCERELY thank you for your time and support as it is greatly appreciated!!! Vote for my video online at by 11:59PM on July 3rd!!!

OPRAH LINK:
http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html?request=video_details&response_id=17418&promo_id=1

To view a better quality of the video, please visit YOUTUBE, but don’t forget to vote on Oprah’s website: COMING SOON!!!

Many Thanks,
Ryan Vallo

* A special thanks to my good friend David Sherman – without his assistance this video would not be possible!

As a child, I was never a big fan of ALL IN THE FAMILY. I can remember my grandfather howling at the brash, crass comedy that too often escaped me. The show, even now, seems to exude emptiness, a hollow tunnel where dreams remain dreams, and dead ends. However, the past month or so, I garnered a new appreciation for the show which often airs on TV Land.

The writing was brilliant, and the writers seemed to keep a firm grip on the pulse of 1971-1979. This one particular episode this evening is when Archie Bunker, portrayed by Carrol O’Connor, lost his job and searches for new work. I can remember, all too well, the mid-1970’s when unemployment had sky-rocketed.

The humor is incredible! I could go on, and on about this show, but it would require far more time than I currently have to expel the tons of thoughts I have about this show.

Upon returning from Fairmont’s graduation exercises, and running a few errands with Jose, I curled up in bed with my laptop playing a Netflix instant video on The History Channel’s Modern Marvels – Golden Gate Bridge.

Fascinating!

If you can grab a copy of this DVD, it is well worth it… fifty minutes of reassurance of the American spirit, community, and passion.

Here is a video from You Tube about the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge:

Last night’s rain showers cooled things off beautifully, the morning was crisp, and refreshing.

After Jose left the house to go take two final exams, I putzed around the house with a variety of things before showering and heading down to Miami Valley Hospital for my EMG.

I left slightly early because I never know how the traffic will be around the University of Dayton area. It is either a line or traffic due to regular busyness, or endless road repairs. I easily made it to the area in eight minutes, and decided to drive up to the pinnacle of Woodland Cemetery to look out over Dayton and the Miami Valley.

Here is the new structure at “the lookout”, and a view of Dayton.

I drove a few short blocks to Miami Valley Hospital, parked and easily found where I needed to be.

After filling out a few forms, I was escorted back to a room and asked to remove my shirt. Soon, Dr. Jillian entered, and began asking questions about the numbness, and tingling in my arms, hands, neck and head. And then the procedure began.

Quite interesting!

He used a device on various parts of my hands, arms, neck and shoulders that sent little shocks into each area. It would be a series of shocks beginning with very mild to very strong. After that was completed, he then inserted a fine needle into the various muscles. The muscle right beneath my thumbs was the most painful – but other than that, it was a tiny stick.

Here is a video about the procedure.

As he was continuing with the procedure, Dr. Jillian kept me chatting about what I did for a living, and when he learned I was a music teacher, he admitted that he enjoyed GLEE. At first he said that his daughter was a big fan, and that he felt obligated to spend quality time with her. I raised my head, and said, “Face it, your are a big old Gleek, and don’t try to use your daughter as the excuse for watching it.”

I was right!

When the procedure was completed he said everything was fine, and that there was no carpel tunnel.

Yea!

Lunch is over, Jose is watching television, and I am going to take a nap before teaching.

I now have red impatiens in pots on the front porch, back deck, and scattered in places around the front corner fence. I am behind in getting flowers out, and felt bad since my neighbors next door have this beautiful setting!

I finished up around 3:00pm, showered, ate a salad for my late lunch, and then took a nap for 45 minutes. I taught a lesson, drove Jose to youth group, ran to Meijer for lettuce, bananas, and Wild Berry Aloe Vera Juice.

Finally, I got to catch up with my dear friend, Jeffrey Carter. Jeff is one of my favorite people in the world, and we tend to play hit-and-miss or telephone tag. He has an exciting, full-filling, often crazy schedule, and I am always hesitant to call him for fear I am interrupting a lesson, meeting, or rehearsal. So, I generally send an email, and he lets me know when his open times are.

Tonight was perfect because he was returning to St. Louis via Amtrak from the Conductor’s Guild board meeting held in Chicago. We spent a good hour catching up. He will be out of town the next four weekends – Kansas City, Philadelphia and New York (he will get to see Angela Lansbury in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC), and I have promptly forgotten the other two locations (argh!).

Now it is time to go pick up Jose, and return home to settle in for the fourth installment of AMERICA: THE STORY OF US.

Yesterday was quite nice.

It began at 2:30am when I woke after three hours of sleep – something I have experienced for several weeks. I returned to sleep around 5:00am and barely remember Jose coming in to tell me he was heading to school.

I went for my doctor’s appointment, and the news was good:

  • He was very pleased with my blood work and some of the tests, especially as a diabetic – he said he felt I was in very good shape, health-wise
  • The triglycerides and good cholesterol are good – yes, the triglycerides are slightly above normal but he said that is still very good for a diabetic and that he doesn’t treat the triglycerides until they are over 500
  • The only concern was with my LDL (bad cholesterol) – diet and exercise for the time being
  • The endocrinologist had my A1C @ 7.2, and the doctor’s was 7.4 – he said he would like to aim for low 6’s by the end of summer
  • I am being scheduled for more tests – an EMG and an X-ray – on the nervous system due to the tingling in the arms, shoulders, neck and head
  • We discussed waking up in the middle of the night, and he thinks it might be something with hypoglycemia – my sugar has been low several times in the morning – between 64 and 80. So he said that when I wake up he wants me to check my sugar and to eat a snack and see if that helps.
  • Other than that, I am to exercise more upper body, keep walking 10,000+ steps a day, and keep up with the diet.

Good stuff, I’d say!

Whew!

I returned home, took a nap (my reward for a healthy report), taught some fantastic lessons, had a bite to eat with Jose who brought home a container with fish and potatoes. The previous evening he brought home some ham load which was delicious.

We ran a few errands, and then settled in for the evening – me watching GLEE, and Jose watching something else, all the while joking that he, too, was watching GLEE.

By 11:30pm the Haasienda was shutting down – a little early for us. However, I woke twice (that I recall), but readily went back to sleep.

This morning I was wide awake at 6:30am, feeling somewhat refreshed.

At Noon, Mary Tarlano will visit for an update on my home study.

I hope to get some writing in, as well as an arrangement for a student’s upcoming baccalaureate.

By 3:00pm I will be teaching, and will have late dinner. Hopefully, this evening I will be able to walk around the neighborhood as there is an evening event in Trent Arena that will close the walking track.

Despite the grey skies, the birds are joining in a cheerful chorus!

Very funny!

“Top Ten Signs You Have a Bad Stockbroker”
10. Uses the opening bell as alarm clock
9. Tells you to put all your money in his pants
8. Each time he goes on the trading floor, he gets tased
7. He can guarantee you a billion zillion percent return
6. His advice — buy low, get high
5. Every time you turn on C-SPAN, he’s testifying
4. Your projected retirement age is 97
3. Every time you mention NASDAQ, he says, “Gesundheit!”
2. Your BP Oli stock divdends are paid out in Greek drachmas
1. He says his name is is Bernie and he can only talk for three minutes

Tonight, as I crawled into bed, I discovered one of my favorite movies, PLEASE DONT EAT THE DAISIES is on. This is just a delightful romp with Doris Day, David Niven, and Richard Haydn – best known as “Her Max Detweiller” in THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

As I located the channel, Doris Day was having dinner with her husband, Niven, just moments before she began singing a few lines of “Que Serra, Serra.”

As a child I can remember watching THE DORIS DAY SHOW, and loving the opening credits where Ms. Day sang “Que Serra, Serra.”

I could not find the version from PLEASE, DON’T EAT THE DAISIES, but did find one from the television show.

Agnes Mooreheard!

Correctly, and quickly guessed by my friend, Sue Branson.

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Agnes Robertson Moorehead (December 6, 1900 – April 30, 1974) was an American actress. Although she began with the Mercury Theatre, appeared in more than seventy films beginning with Citizen Kane and on dozens of television shows during a career that spanned more than thirty years, Moorehead is most widely known to modern audiences for her role as the witchEndora in the series Bewitched.

While rarely playing leads in films, Moorehead’s skill at character development and range earned her one Emmy Award and two Golden Globe awards in addition to four Academy Awardand six Emmy Award nominations. Moorehead’s transition to television won acclaim for drama and comedy. She could play many different types, but often portrayed haughty, arrogant characters.

Moorehead was born in 1900 in ClintonMassachusetts, and later shaved six years off her age by claiming to have been born in 1906.

In 1923, Moorehead earned a bachelor’s degree, with a major in biology, from Muskingum Collegein New ConcordOhio, and while there she also appeared in college stage plays. She later received an honorary doctorate in literature from Muskingum, and served for a year on its board of trustees. She then pursued post-graduate studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, from which she graduated with honors in 1929.

Moorehead died at the age of seventy-three in 1974.  She is entombed at Dayton Memorial Park in Dayton, Ohio.

Moorehead bequeathed her 1967 Emmy Award statue for The Wild Wild West, her private papers, and her home in Rix Mills, Ohio, to heralma mater Muskingum College. She left her family’s Ohio estate and farmlands, Moorehead Manor, to Bob Jones University in Greenville,South Carolina, as well as some biblical studies books from her personal library. Her will stipulated that BJU should use the farm for retreats and special meetings “with a Christian emphasis,” but the distance of the estate from the South Carolina campus rendered it mostly useless. In May 1976, BJU traded the Moorehead farmlands with an Ohio college for $25,000 and a collection of her library books. Moorehead also left her professional papers, scripts, Christmas cards and scrapbooks to the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

In 1994, Moorehead was posthumously inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Guess who...

Tonight as I was ending my last lesson, Joyce Carter, the mother of one of my voice students, asked if I would be watching MODERN FAMILY and THE MIDDLE. I learned these are two comedies that are an absolute riot.

So, as I settled down with my salad, and watched the last fifteen minutes of THE MIDDLE, and am finishing up a second episode before MODERN FAMILY begins.

I am sitting here howling at THE MIDDLE – an ABC sitcome!

What a funny show!

Patricia Heaton, who played “Debra” on EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, is in this sitcom, and as always, she delivers a fantastic performance. The children are cracking me up.

Now, I am ready for MODERN FAMILY… am enjoying this evening!

The cast of MODERN FAMILY

Betty White was the host for SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE this past weekend, and was an absolute hit…

Betty White on SNL…

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