Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Dream Without End: Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle had another fantastic performance of I Dreamed A Dream on the Britain’s Got Talent final. Although she came in second in the competition, beaten out by a dance group, Diversity, she has surely achieved her dream.

“The greatest performance I’ve seen in Britain’s Got Talent history,” judge Piers Morgan told her. “You should win this competition, I loved it."

Word is that judge and music promoter Simon Cowell has big plans for her. Apparently he said, "It's the biggest phenomenon I've ever seen out of any of my shows," in regards to her world wide appeal and her talent.

I feel bad that she will not have this opportunity as winner to perform for the Queen, but maybe she will get a chance at some point in the future to do so. She was very gracious in her losing to the dance act. But heck, she has already won....

America’s Got Talent returns for a new season on June 23rd.

If this video is disabled go to


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Empathy and Justice

American Heritage Dictionary...
Empathy: Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.

President Obama said a couple of years ago while on the campaign trail he wanted a Supreme Court Justice with empathy.

And now, the GOP, and the media, is making such a thing of the word empathy. What I have heard on radio talk shows, and read, is that it is not right for a judge to have empathy and if they do, then it takes away from the judicial ruling. It makes me laugh.

This reminds me of when I was called to Jury duty a couple of years ago and undergoing analysis to serve on a jury, of which I did not want to do, a case of prostitution and arrest by a police officer in a sting, I thought it only right to let the court know I had been married to a cop for 25 years, had other relatives on police forces, and often had crime scenarios going through my head for my writing (I was working on a detective novel at that exact time), and that I was also intuitive. Well, that did not go over well with the judge as he said to me, something to this effect, “I am intuitive, also, and have gut feelings, but for 25 years I have listened from the bench to evidence presented.” He did not dismiss me but the defense attorney did soon after.

It seems silly that someone cannot be fair and equitable while at the same time being a compassionate and empathic person.

This past weekend on C-Span President Obama said in response to his statement about empathy and a Supreme Court pick, "I said earlier that I thought empathy was an important quality and I continue to believe that. You have to have not only the intellect to be able to effectively apply the law to cases before you.”

He continued, "But you have to be able to stand in somebody else's shoes and see through their eyes and get a sense of how the law might work or not work in practical day-to-day living.”

"So, in all these cases what I want is not just ivory tower learning. I want somebody who has the intellectual fire power, but also a little bit of a common touch and has a practical sense of how the world works."

Good for you, Obama. It appears President Obama’s pick of Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a good one. She has a solid background of judicial experience, and has been through Senate confirmation twice in the past, an appointment under Bush Senior and another under President Clinton.

Makes me wonder about these politicians, especially the males, who seem to feel that empathy equates only with emotional...and you know how women are....they get emotional ...they cry...oh goodness... oh goodness....

Here is an example of comments of two political males from an article from Inside Politics Daily by Jill Lawrence:
‘“Empathy,’ conservative columnist George Will said Sunday on ABC's This Week, ‘can be a judicial defect.’ Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., meanwhile, fretted on Fox News Sunday that a judge with empathy would decide cases ‘not based upon the law or the merits, but rather upon his or her emotions or feelings.’"

What a joke. Are some people envious because they don’t have the experience and expertise to be a Supreme Court Judge, and do they really think a woman cannot do an excellent job. Come on men...grow up.

It is so refreshing to have a thinking President who lives in reality.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Matter of Freedom and Love

“It is never too late to give up your prejudices. ~Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

The CA Supreme Court decision today upholding Proposition 8, the Gay Marriage Intuitive was disappointing. In fact, as a native Californian, the vote last November was surprising. The majority of the people I know are in favor of allowing gay marriage. But what I believe, and many of the people I have discussed this with believe, it passed by a narrow margin in November (approximately 525,000 votes) because the political/religious advertising was filled with untruths and stirred fear.

I heard on the radio today that older people are the ones who are responsible for Prop 8 passing and outlawing gay marriage, and the woman said that the younger generation will make the difference in the near feature and it will be allowed. I disagree that older people are against gay marriage. I only know one older person (in her 80s who voted for Prop 8). All the rest of the older people I know, male and female, in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80’s and even 90 years of age, are for gay marriage. And they are all heterosexual. I also know younger people, teenagers and young adults, who see no problem with gay marriage.

Thankfully the Court upheld the 18,000 marriages that occurred prior to this ruling today.

In the past California was often said to be open, and progressive. It was here that one might believe that equality was available, equality in all areas of life. It was here in California that people came to enjoy a life of more equality and freedom of choice that was not, or even may not, be available elsewhere right here in our own country. California is a diverse area, so it has been surprising that other states are steps ahead of California in allowing equality for all their citizens. States such as Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and hopefully soon, New Hampshire, have all moved ahead in allowing their citizens the right to marry no matter their sexual identity.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about our surprise that Iowa was forward thinking. But I discovered it was not unusual for Iowa to be liberal in their laws and interest in civil rights. In doing research on divorce laws in Iowa for my novel on the Civil War period, I learned that in 1851 Iowa considered it lawful to end marriage when the “parties could not live in peace and harmony together.” That was on their law books before the Civil War! But it was not until 1969-1970 that California put in place ‘no-fault” divorce. Instead of treating marriage as an institution that should be preserved at all costs, no-fault divorce viewed it as a voluntary union between two equals that could be dissolved at will. A spouse who wanted a divorce no longer had to prove wrongdoing in an adversarial setting, such as adultery or desertion. "Irreconcilable differences" made divorce possible. Other states quickly followed. And apparently today some form of no-fault divorce is available in all fifty states.

I guess my thought is let’s hope it does not take more than 158 years for California to come around to accepting gay unions. I still cannot figure out why it should matter to anyone that a couple, straight, or gay, want to marry. Hey, it’s all about love. And it seems childish that someone can force their beliefs in denying marriage to another.

I also still believe the real objection is being veiled, and the federal government not wanting to give up an Income Tax category of a single taxpayer (single straight, widowed, single gay or lesbian) to the lesser tax rate of a married couple. So the government may be very happy to have the religious interference and objections taking place, and in turn saving them from giving up billions in Income Tax revenue.

Isn’t it about fear? It takes courage and love for those who not only are out of the closet but wanting equal rights. Gays and lesbians deserve equal rights, just as any straight person does, just as someone of a different race or nationality does, or as someone of a different religion does. Woman have fought a long time for equality, for property rights, for voting rights, for equal pay (not quite there yet), and the same is true of Blacks and minorities fighting for equality, voting rights, civil rights. This is the 21st century and about time we got over it and treat everyone with dignity and respect.

This is really about freedom. Change is coming.

And as singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge said today, “I am hopeful as I see more and more states turn to the inevitable future of equality, California will get there. Change takes time."

“I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms
until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.”
~Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Susan Boyle...WOW!

Again, WOW!

The semi-final of Susan Boyle singing Memory from Cats (one of my favorite songs) on Britain’s Got Talent.

She said, “All my life I’ve always striven to prove that I can be accepted; that I’m not the worthless person that people think I am, that I do have something to offer ... Being on Britain’s Got Talent is a chance to turn things around; to fulfil the dream. I just want that chance to perform in front of the Queen.”


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The New American Idol

Photo Kevin Winter/American Idol 2009, via Getty Images for FOX

Wow Again! Kris Allen is the new American Idol!

What a show that was tonight! Great entertainment, comedy, and talent, and I believe the best finale they’ve had in all eight seasons. Everyone from Lionel Ritchie, Rod Stewart, Santana, Kiss, Queen, Black-eyed Peas, Keith Urban, Cyndi Lauper, and others.

Kris seemed really shocked he won. Adam was very gracious. Obviously these two guys really like and respect each other. They are both so talented.

Almost a million votes. Wow. I’m not disappointed. It has been a very good season of excellent talent this year, espcially with the top four or five.
Kris sang a great duet with Keith Urban, and both Adam and Kris sang "We are the Champions " with Queen. That was really nice. How true it is, they are both champions.

So now that American Idol and Dancing With the Stars are over, what is left to watch on TV? LOL


What a Night, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars

“Music is the universal language of mankind.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Wow! Oh, what a night of television!

It began with the 8th season part one finale of American Idol and Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. Each sang three songs. Adam sang “Mad World” followed by Kris singing "Ain't No Sunshine." Both very good.

The second song by Adam was picked by the show’s creator, Simon Fuller and it was the Sam Cooke song, "A Change Is Gonna Come." Adam was brilliant on that one. The pick for Kris was Marvin Gaye’s "What's Goin' On." He did a fair job on it but it was not the greatest song for him.

Then the last song, “No Boundaries,” co-written by Cara the judge, was not a good pick for either of them to sing, but definitely Adam did a better job with the odd song.

So it is very hard to tell what the final vote will be tomorrow. Four hours of voting tonight....and how many millions of votes will that be?

I still believe Adam has more talent than anyone who has ever been on American Idol. I also believe Kris has a lot of talent. It could be a toss-up as to which of these young men will be the new American Idol. It may not even matter as both of them will have successful careers ahead.

Followed that up with the 8th season finale of Dancing With the Stars. It, too, has been one of the best sessions ever. The top three were all good dancers: Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke, and Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas. Many believed Gilles was the top contender but with the narrowest margin of votes ever, less than 1 % between the top two, Gilles and Cheryl and Shawn and Mark, the surprise came when 17 year-old Olympic gymnast, Shawn Johnson and her partner Mark Ballas won. When Shawn got over her embarrassment and let out her sexiness when needed in the dances, it made a big difference. She worked hard to perfect her dancing.

I look forward to hearing last year’s winner, David Cook Wednesday night on the finale, and we will discover who will be this year’s American Idol.

And as I said,
Oh, What A Night !!

Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Value of Education During Civil War and Today

“Education is worth more to a man than a fortune of gold.”
~Silas Igo Shearer, (1838-1915)

My great-great grandfather, Silas I. Shearer

These last few weeks I have been corresponding with my first cousin Sylvia who lives with her husband Tom in Vienna, Austria. We are making up for many, many years of being out of touch. We’re having so much fun learning about each other and sharing details of our lives since we last saw each other. A lot has happened in both our lives and it is amazing how much alike we are and how similar our interests are. One difference though, is I am not a traveler and international person as she is. She is one year older than I am, and she has been living abroad for most of her adult years. She has just retired from teaching. Sylvia and Tom have been teachers overseas in places such as Pakistan, Germany, and Austria, and more. Tom also has a law degree but apparently most of his career has been as a school teacher. She and I have discussed education: reading, writing, and...haven’t got to arithmetic yet!

Last week she had asked about my husband, Don Pendleton, his writing, education, and reading, and I sent her three quotes by him, which she enjoyed.

This is what Don said about reading, education, etc.

"I have served many long and lonely years aboard ship in war zones, and the only thing that kept me sane during all that enforced loneliness was my access to a good library in which I read, literally, every book on the shelves, even textbooks, and which gave me access to other worlds no way open to me." ~Don Pendleton

"The only true personal power comes from the mind and that mind has to be developed the same as muscles are developed–through use." ~Don Pendleton

And Don Pendleton’s response to a young fan: "As you grow older, you will discover that your mind is the only truly limiting factor in your life. With a well developed mind you can go anywhere and do whatever. But nothing comes automatically and the best things don't come easy."

Then last night while working on my Civil War period novel I came across the written words of my great-great grandfather, Silas I. Shearer, a Union soldier from Iowa, 23rd Infantry Volunteers. He was discussing the schooling of his oldest child who would have been about four years, nine months of age, and his concern that he hoped it was not too early for the child to attend school. He told his wife, Elizabeth Jane Shearer, “I am glad he wants to go but I [fear] it will give him a disliking to it and to study, sending him so young. I want my children to have a good education and if he takes a delight in it and learns, let him go. If I should not get home I want you to give the children a good education if you live.” His letter was written in July 1864 from Union army camp at Morganzia Bend, Louisiana. He also told her: “Education is worth more to a man than a fortune of gold.” ~Silas Igo Shearer, (1838-1915)

Apparently his son in question, Lewis D. Shearer became a barber and lived to be 90 years of age. Silas was in the Union Army from 1862 and was discharged out of the army as a sergeant at the end of the war in 1865. In addition to being a farmer he was Assessor, Justice of the Peace, a member of the Board of Supervisors in Collins Township, Story County, Iowa.

Silas and Elizabeth Jane Shearer

My great-great grandparents

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

American Idol and the Top Three

It’s gotta be Adam Lambert. He is brilliant, and such a talent. He sang One by Bono, U2 for the Cowell song choice and Simon Cowell said “It was a brilliant, brilliant performance.” He then sang Crying by Aerosmith. I believe he is the best talent that has ever been on American Idol. Simon then said Adam deserved it based on talent. So right.

I really like everything that Chris Allen does, and have all season.

I’ve always loved Joe Cocker’s song You Are So Beautiful but I did not care for Danny Gokey’s rendition of it tonight, although the judges did.

All three of them are good but Adam stands so far above the other two with his talent. This is a tough year. The top five have been good, but again, Adam tops them all with his voice, his artistry, his uniqueness, and his stage presence.

I called in votes tonight but my votes will make little if any impact on the 76 million plus votes that will be cast.


photos by American Idol.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Adam Lambert Should be American Idol, But Will He?

Many of us were surprised by Adam Lambert being in the "bottom" two this past week on American Idol. That guy is so very talented. I often see Elvis in his eyes. First time I saw him I saw that. He's a good looking guy.

This morning I was irritated by a Rutgers news article about Adam Lambert's personal life. The reporter, whoever she or he was, (not identified) seemed to have a need to make Adam's personal sexual identity an issue. The title of the news article posted at MSNBC is "Are 'Idol' fans ready for a gay champion?" with a subtitle, "Adam has never confirmed sexual preference, just says, 'I am who I am.'"

First off, I applaud Adam for that answer given to any question about his sexuality. "I am who I am." But I quote from the news article: "With three weeks to go before the 'American Idol' final, Lambert, 27, is favored to win the No. 1 U.S. television talent show and become, possibly, the first gay or bisexual singer to be handed the 'Idol' title by millions of Americans."

Hey, come on. Second, since when did sexual identity matter within the music business ie.; Elton John, or the entertainment business, ie.; Ellen, Rosie, and all the others who most knew where gay whether they came out of the closet in the past or not?

And where has this reporter been. There have been other gays on the show, and an issue was not made about it.

The closet door is open. We know have five states that recognize same sex marriage, and there will be more before long. Numerous states have recognized other gay rights. So all I can say to this reporter, whoever he or she is, get over it. It doesn't matter, and it sure as hell does not matter in judgement of someone's talent.

Although many fans of American Idol are younger, many of us are older. This year is a talented bunch, more so than I recall. I wish all four could win: Adam, Allison, Chris are my favorites, with Danny next. But three will not win. I think all will have record deals, and maybe Anoop and Matt will also. Lil, was also good but not so outstanding, for me. (do I sound like Randy?) Allison is quite incredible for her age, just turned 17 a few days ago. Her unusual voice and style is something.

Here is Adam singing Smokey Robinson's The Tracks of My Tears

and here is Adam singing Come to Me, Bend to Me from Brigadoon, five years ago at age 22. He's a very sensitive and a dramatic singer, with an incredible range, and diverse style. His unique talent makes him the best pick for American Idol. He's worked hard on his music for several years because he loves music. He loves astrology and is an Aquarian, and Aquarians are said to be trend setting and forward thinking. He says this is his favorite quote:

"When the power of love covercomes the love of power, the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

Now tell me that isn't talent!

And tell me if it really matters what his sexual orientation is? If you watch him perform, or if you pick up the phone to vote each week, do you think, oh, wait a minute, he could be gay or bisexual....American Idol...I don't know.

Stupid, huh?