Friday, September 4, 2009

Michael Jackson Caricature Art

Michael Jackson Caricature Art

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why is the Video of Singer Susan Boyle an Internet Phenomenon? By []Harriet Hodgson

Why is the Video of Singer Susan Boyle an Internet Phenomenon?
By []Harriet Hodgson

"Have you ever heard of a singer named Susan Boyle?" my husband asked. When I replied negatively he retorted, "You will." He asked me to come and look at the video of Susan Boyle singing on Britain's Got Talent television show and, as he expected, I was stunned.

I was stunned for the same reason the talent show judges were stunned, the same reason the audience was stunned, the same reason Internet viewers were stunned, and the same reason bloggers were stunned. None of us expected this magnificent voice to come from a (sorry to use the word) frumpy 47-year-old, soon to be 48, unemployed woman.

Susan Boyle's choice of song, I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables was brilliant. Her song exemplified her life's dream of becoming a professional singer. This choice also showed her amazing range of voice. I have watched the video 15 times and each time I pick up on a different nuance. Look carefully at Susan's face just before she starts to sing and you see a fleeting smile, a smile that says "I have something special to share with you."

Her rendition of the song is a "grabber," to say the least. But I think there is more to this story. I think Susan Boyle exemplifies hope -- hope for the person who has lost a job, hope for someone who is getting a divorce, hope for caregivers who face daunting tasks, hope for parents with dreams for their children. Daniel Goleman writes about hope in "Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ."

Goleman sees hope as a motivator. "From the perspective of emotional intelligence," he writes, "having hope means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks." Susan Boyle said she applied to the talent show in the hope of becoming a professional singer. Though I cannot speak for the show judges, I think they felt the hope of Susan's song.

As the camera pans the faces of audience members, you see astonishment in their faces and, it seems to me, you also see hope. Judith Viorst writes about hope in "Necessary Losses." As Viorst notes, people with all kinds of fatal ailments "hang on to hope." We hang on to hope when loved ones die, Viorst continues, and when we are terminally ill ourselves. I searched for hope after four loved ones died in the span of nine months. Thankfully, I found hope again. Because I found hope I cried when I heard Susan Boyle sing.

Bloggers have cried, too, and I think hope is behind these tears. We all have dreams we dreamed. Susan Boyle was living her dream as she sang. Perhaps she sang for all of our unrealized dreams -- dreams we have worked for, waited for, and hope will come true. I am grateful to Susan Boyle for sharing her voice, her dream, and herself with the world.

Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 30 years. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of Health Care Journalists, and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from Amazon.

Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska has published her 26th book, "Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life." The company has published a companion resource, the "Writing to Recover Journal," which contains 100 writing prompts.

Please visit Harriet's website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.

Article Source:

Friday, May 1, 2009

"Role Model," Soul Men," Madagascar" Film Reviews By []Marty Meltz

"Role Model," Soul Men," Madagascar" Film Reviews
By []Marty Meltz

"Role Models" (quality rating: 7)
Director: David Wain
Screenplay: Paul Rudd, David Wain, Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Jane Lynch
Time: 1 hr., 35 min.
R (crude and sexual content, vulgarity, nudity) (1:35)

A fairly funny comedy considering its overload of foul-mouthed gaglines, this has a suprisingly high laughs level which blind-sides you with comic capers when you hardly expect them.

"Role Models," one is reluctant to admit, gets a lot of mirth out of inventive locker room humor that has a way of making you laugh even though you don't know why. The ongoing theme is that boys of any age just never grow up and it turns out, in this plot, to be the kids, not the grown-up guys, who get the most laughs.

The film has an amazing flow of serviceable chuckles based on caricatures who, although fitted into a very formula flick, maintain a peppery consistency all the way through. Generally, in fact, the movie strides with such lively energy, with never an unattended moment of comedy, that one must admit that profane dialogue can actually find a place, if force-fitted, in our complex society.

Misanthropic Danny (Paul Rudd) and doofus buddy Wheeler (Sean William Scott) try to get kids off drugs by selling energy drinks to school systems as they drive their delivery route in a novelty monster truck. But while on their own energy drink binge, Danny, stressed out over family problems and, having been rejected by longtime girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks) because he's so morose, goes nuts and gets both himself and Wheeler in legal trouble. Beth, a lawyer, deals with the court to get them off if they'll put in 150 hours with "Sturdy Wings," a big brother kind of public service outfit for troubled kids. It's run by Gayle Sweeney (Jane Lynch). who's pretty much an off-balance neurotic who mixes discipline with explosive spunk.

So here's Wheeler, a sex-obsessed party animal by nature whose only thoughts are toward rolling in the hay, assigned to a filthy-mouthed, hard-tempered pre-teen, Ronnie, who loses no time in jerking Wheeler around into a situation in which he can have him arrested as a pedophile. That resolved, it's clear that Ronnie needs a father figure. All Ronnie does now is wave wooden swords with his other geek pals. Danny's also got his special problem boy to guide, Augie, who has no idea what growing up is about. So what we've got here is two immature misfits on a project to guide younger misfits.

As to character development, if you care about that at all, one notices that this happens only up to the point where the two guys get into the Sturdy Wings settings. After that, the kids take over the screen, Danny and Wheeler being relegated to backboards to bounce off. The really rudimentary situations and plot are turned, by the kids, into generators of lots of laughs.

The ending, suggesting that they're all humans who really want to relate to each other, is obligatory, but OK.

"Soul Men" (quality rating: 7)
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Screenplay: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes, Sharon Leal, Jennifer Coolidge
Time: 1 hr., 43 min.
Rating: R (nonstop vulgarity, sexual content, nudity) (1:43)

Is it possible to view profane language as a verbal art form in itself? Well, let's do it ,says "Soul men."

This is a deftly assembled movie which marches to a hard beat and in which the river of vile verbiage actually gets integrated into the film's whole design, making itself even indispensable. The particular brand of black putdown banter, inexorably evolved over the decades, is humor from the gut, a no-nonsense "vulgarity" which actually transcends the conventional way in which dirty words are used and flows naturally as its own tongue, smoothly and expressively instead of in the nasty, intrusive way of films which often seem to drag in obscene words just because the writers and directors think we expect them.

This is an unintentionally ironic title, with Bernie Mac having actually died tragically in August.

It's actually hard to categorize this film in terms of genre. It's definitely drama but its substance invites comedy at a crude but colorful way and lets it flow organically. Most delightful is the perfect pitch performance of Samuel L. Jackson, easily one of Hollywood's most versatile stars. Of no lesser impact is a vigorous job done by Bernie Mac.

In this memory lane road film, the two key characters had been back-up singers of a long-ago popular group, now aged and of no more use to the modern media world. Seems that promoters are urging them, now 20 years later, to rejoin in order to offer tribute to their once lead singer who has just died. This will be dicey because the two men bear mutual resentment, this stemming from a love rivalry over the same woman.

First of all, Floyd (Bernie Mac) is morose anyway, living a life of aimless leisure as an insomniac with a hip replacement. And Louis (Samuel L. Jackson), now a pauper, has nonetheless retained his pride even though he's an ex-con living in cellars.

So they set out from L.A. in Floyd's vintage chartreuse Eldorado convertible for the great musical reunion at Harlem's Apollo, all the while chasin' skirts as they pop into town after town with Floyd poppin' Viagra. They'll partake of the fast musical life of Memphis as they stop in cowboy roadside taverns and anyplace else where they can do a gig and bring down the house, all the time viewing each other with shared antagonism. A significant plot turn comes when the two men stop at the home of lovely Cleo (Sharon Leal), whom we gather is the daughter of one of them, probably the bone of contention for both.

Strangely, you will find yourself chuckling again and again at the two guys' digs at each other even though you sense a vital relationship here. It's not easy viewing, but then, almost immediately, you sense that you wouldn't want that.

"Madagascar:Escape 2 Africa" (quality rating: 6)
(All-animated feature)
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Voices: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin
Time: 1 hr., 29 min.
PG (some mild crude humor)

Wacky but not witty.

Good kiddie flick, folks. Take the tots. All ingredients of the original have been given new attention in an effort to maintain its appeal. The pace is peppery and the whole design seems to be to mesmerize the kids with a parade of eye candy. For you as an adult? Well, it's probably an underachiever.

Amidst the slapstick comedy in "Madagascar:Escape 2 Africa" there are some new characters, including a zesty old grandmama from New York who does karate. The film's colors are ever more vivid and the rhythm of camera movements is enhanced, with shot length at a median length of three seconds. Talking is mostly loud and urgent. There's also some adult-oriented funny stuff, like having to negotiate with the monkey union for health benefits.

Various themes are pulled in from environmental material and many other movies but the flat-out observation is unavoidable that this just comes down to an endless series of visually catchy images that are madcap but often monotonous. The dialogue is more noisy than funny, seemingly struggling to balance between grown-up references and kid stuff. The music is totally forgettable.

In this sequel to "Madagascar" all the charming animal characters are back: light-footed Alex the lion (voice: Ben Stiller), sensitive Melman the giraffe (voice: David Schwimmer), smarty-mouthed Marty the zebra (voice: Chris Rock), big mama Gloria the hippo (voice: Jada Pinkett Smith), zany King Julien (voice:Sacha Baron Cohen), his sidekick Maurice (voice: Cedric the Entertainer) and the penguins.

We recollect that all these mislocated New Yorkers from the concrete and steel zoo had been, by nutsy circumstances, stranded on the island of Madagascar located off the East African coast. They really wanna get back. But what resources do they have? Well, there is that crashed plane. And there you go -- the ingenious penguins, with military precision, and mainly digital magic, actually make it flightworthy.

Umm . . . kind of. Seems that, with its engines smoking, it'll go just so far, which is, like, over the great savannah of Africa where they crash land. So you'd think they're now in their natural home, right? Well, they are, but they are not natural in their "natural" home. They've been raised by the rule and animal interactions of the zoo, not the communities of the jungle.

So while they discover their roots, they also must confront a whole bunch of real conflicts. And that's going to involve relatives of so long ago, romance intrigues, a deadly drought, and a self-styled medicine man who wants a rain god sacrifice for the volcano. Alex will be recognized as the long-missing son of the local pride's chief, Zuba (the late Bernie Mac). Ah, but the evil egomaniac Makunga (Alec Baldwin) wants the throne for himself and he will humiliate Alex to get it. There will also be some conflicts with tourists and hunters pointing up their crassness.

The usual obligatory themes of self-esteem, self-confidence and learning your identity and independence are there.

Generally, the film will work modestly as holiday fun for the tykes. If you got nothing out of the original, you will do no better here. It's very lively.

Marty Meltz

Article Source:,-Soul-Men,-Madagascar-Film-Reviews&id=1680347

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

John Travolta and His Dance with Princess Diana By []Anja Merret

John Travolta and His Dance with Princess Diana
By []Anja Merret

There is this lovely little story in the British Daily Mirror where John Travolta is quoted as saying that he had some help when he was experiencing a real dip in his acting career. In fact he is even prepared to say that it was like being reborn.

In 1985 Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited the USA. During this trip a gala dinner was held for them in Washington, hosted by President Reagan and his wife Nancy. The dinner featured entertainment celebrities, which would have been ex film-star Ronald Reagan's way of hosting an event such as this. Bring on the equivalent of American royalty - entertainers! Guests included Eastwood, JohnTravolta, Tom Selleck and singer Neil Diamond as well as politicians and businessmen.

During the gala, First Lady Nancy Reagan took John Travolta aside and informed him that Princess Diana wanted a dance. It took some courage, but Travolta went for it, asking her to dance. Of course nobody else was going to dare steal the limelight, as the rest of the guests looked on. Princess Diana looked particularly good in her midnight blue velvet dress and sapphire and diamond choker.

Travolta's words of encouragement to a nervous Princess Di were, 'We're good. I can do this'. The subsequent photographs of the glamorous Princess and romantic lead of such movies as Saturday Night Fever and Grease, made the front page of every newspaper and magazine in the world.

For John Travolta who had been experiencing the rejections of the film industry, this spot light on him and the fact that Princess Di would consider him important enough to wish to dance with him, revived his self-belief in himself. He attributes his resultant soaring film career to this moment in his life. It certainly is true that luck plays a part in ones life and in ones successes.

However, hard work and immense courage are also right there on top of the list with luck. John Travolta's hard work as a dancer, singer and actor paid off when he was asked to dance. His courage to take the opportunity presented to him, made it happen. How often do we face an opportunity which at the same time is fraught with the possibility of failure and the fear of making a total fool of ourselves. And we don't take it. We freeze up and it's almost like Bambi in the headlights. How often do we then regret that decision for the rest of our lives.

The ability to overcome that fear, is what leads to success in whatever you are trying to achieve. I am sure that John Travolta never in his wildest dreams realised at the moment he went to ask Princess Diana to dance, that the photographs of these few minutes of dancing, would propel him back into the limelight. It certainly did, and by thinking 'I can do this' he won more than just a dance with a Princess.

Anja Merret lives in Brighton, UK. Her personal blog allows her to voice opinions on issues that interest her and observations she makes.

She has started a new blog that deals with observations on self development and personal power. Her recommendation for self help tools may be found on

Article Source:

Howard Stern Getting Uncensored By []Bob Maines

Howard Stern Getting Uncensored
By []Bob Maines

Once the king of over the air shock radio, Howard Stern is now available only on Sirius radio. Howard Stern's move helped make Sirius more competitive with its chief competitor XM radio. If you were to subscribe to Sirius only for the Howard Stern radio show, do you think it would be worth the cost?

You would if you like Howard stern. For right around 50 cents a day, you can have the Howard Stern show on Sirius for four hors every day. The show features irreverent and, in some cases, off the charts funny, humor that will keep you in stitches. Whether you enjoy hearing Artie Lang talk about his many addictions, or porn stars talking about their careers, there is never a dull moment on the Howard Stern show.

One of the best things about the Howard Stern show being available only on Sirius is that the show doesn't face the same sorts of scrutiny and pressure to keep things clean. Howard can be as raunchy as he wants to be, deeply entertaining, and never too serious. The lack of having censorship to the Howard Stern show on Sirius provides a certain freedom that Howard and his guests wouldn't experience if they were still on traditional over the air radio.

Obviously, if you're put off by foul language, raunchy topics of discussion, and blatantly honest talk about everything from sex to bowel movements, the Howard Stern show on Sirius is not going to be for you. In fact, if you didn't care for the Howard Stern show when it was broadcast on terrestrial radio, you probably won't care for it on Sirius, because this version of the show is more raw, more edgy, and, frankly, just more Howard than the previous incarnation of the show. But, if you liked Howard Stern before, you are probably going to love him even more on Sirius.

Another big bonus of the Howard Stern show being exclusive to Sirius satellite radio is the fact that there are just six minutes of commercials each hour. This creates an unbelievable flow to the show that you just didn't bet when Howard was on traditional radio. All of these things together add up to an A+ review of the Howard Stern show on Sirius. []Hughes Net has consecutively ranked as the #1 choice for satellite Internet across the nation. With speeds up to 50x faster than dialup, powerful tools at your disposal, simple lease options and even free standard setup and installation, it's easy to see why []Hughes Net satellite Internet is the best choice for your family.

Article Source:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blues Guitar - A Brief History

Blues Guitar - A Brief History
By []Griff Hamlin

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, blues guitar players like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Robert Johnson, and Lonnie Johnson were the influential performers of the day. They used a slide which was often made out of a knife blade or the broken or sawed off neck from a bottle. Most of the music was improvised, and unaccompanied. The form of the songs were loose, and were rarely, if ever, played the same way twice.

As the 1940’s came, the jump blues style characterized by big band music sequestered the guitar to the rhythm section primarily. The primary influence of this era on blues guitar is that it heavily influenced the development of what would later be known as rock and roll, or rhythm and blues.

After World War II in the 1950’s, blues guitar became electrified and amplified. Starting in Chicago, this new electric blues was characterized by the sounds of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Jimmy Reed. All of these players grew up in Mississippi, but migrated to Chicago. The bands typically had, in addition to the electric guitar, harmonica and a rhythm section of bass and drums. Sometimes there would also be a saxophone, though it would be relegated to a rhythmic support role.

B.B. King and Freddie King were also making names for themselves at this time. They were somewhat unique at the time because they did not make use of the slide to play the guitar. B.B. King has long been considered one of the greatest blues guitar players of all time. Freddie King has often been called the King of the Boogie Woogie guitar.

While Chicago had it’s own sound in the 1950’s, some other artists such as T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker were creating what some call the California Blues style. T-Bone Walker was born in Dallas, while Hooker was born in Mississippi. The California Blues Style that they helped to forge was smoother than the Chicago Blues and is somewhat of a melting pot for Chicago Blues, jump blues, and some jazz swing.

Starting in the 1960’s, Caucasian audiences gained more interest in blues guitar thanks in part to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and what was later to be called the British Blues Movement. Bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Cream, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, the Rolling Stone, and the Yardbirds were performing classic blues tunes in addition to their original tunes. Many of these artists inspired American blues-rock artists like Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, and Johnny Winter.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Albert King, Buddy Guy, and Luther Allison where creating what is called the West Side style of Chicago Blues. Their bands were dominated by the amplified electric blues guitar and heavily influenced later artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Lang, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

Since the early 1980’s, the blues has enjoyed quite a resurgence in America. The Texas Rock-Blues Style of Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds brought the blues to American rock radio stations. Eric Clapton, who originally gained his fame with Cream and John Mayall, continues to make great blues guitar albums and even recently recorded a set of old Robert Johnson classics. Many famous, legendary blues guitar players such as Buddy Guy and B.B. King continue to share the stage with the new generation of blues guitar players like Robert Cray, Joe Bonamassa, and Walter Trout.

Griff Hamlin is a professional guitar player. He has just released Playing Through The Blues, a book on learning to play []blues guitar

Article Source:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sarah Palin, Hockey Mom, Super Hero, Action Figure

Sarah Palin, Hockey Mom, Super Hero, Action Figure
By []Mark Doyle

Whether you like her politics or not, Sarah Palin is quite a story. She is the governor of Alaska and the Republican vice presidential nominee in the 2008 presidential election. She was on the Wasilla, Alaska city council from 1992 to 1996 and mayor from 1996 to 2002.

She chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2004. She was elected governor of Alaska in November 2006, becoming the first woman and the youngest person to hold the position in Alaska.

All that is very impressive but now she has become something she can be really proud of. That's right Sarah Palin has been immortalized with her own action figure.

Move over Obama and McCain posters and campaign buttons. This may be even bigger than the "I like Ike" campaign button.

Yes the Sarah Palin action figure has arrived. The dolls are the latest in a line of American political candidates who have been immortalized including John McCain and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The Sarah Palin action figure comes in two different styles. The super hero ready to take on Washington, And the business style with a skirt so short it could get her thrown out of any board room.

The doll is made of high quality plastic, it looks just like her, and will no doubt become a collectable. The Sarah Palin action figure may go down in history as the most popular political campaign item of all time. Congratulations to Sarah Palin on her new action figure and place in political memorabilia history.

By Mark Doyle
Go to to enjoy free comedy clips from top headliners and "Funnier Than Famous" Comics and see the new Sarah Palin Action Figure along with other fun gifts.

Article Source:,--Hockey-Mom,-Super-Hero,--Action-Figure&id=1509229