In January 2011, President Obama convened what he called the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Comprised of business leaders and economists, it was ostensibly set up to offer up ideas on how to get real economic growth and job creation going. Of course, it was all done for show, since A) it only met a handful of times over two years, B) the last time it met was a year ago, and C) in order to get meaningful growth and job creation, you’ve got to reverse literally every single Obama economic policy. Which was clearly not in the offing.
While Secretary of State-designate John Kerry’s nomination hearing last week was pretty much a lovefest (it was before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs), this week’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Chuck Hagel for Defense should be anything but.
It’s freezin’ outside. . . hence the time many of us travel to warmer climates, or at the very least, fantasize about an exotic locale on a beach or under the stars. The Calendar Girl, Colleen McHugh, takes us on that journey from sandy Havana to Mexico, Shanghai and beyond in her show, “Wish You Were Here.” She even includes Mackinaw Island, which she compares to Bermuda in Michigan. Her once monthly show at the Duplex in NYC is constantly changing. Her January offering was the best of her travel song repertoire — “Mackinaw,” “Shanghai,” “Red Sails in the Sunset,” “When Will You Come Back To Me?”
Filling in for Linda Eder at 54 Below this week, the exceedingly talented Marin Mazzie, a familiar figure on Broadway stages (“Next to Normal,” “Passion,” “Kiss Me, Kate”), made a striking entrance dressed in pink sequins. She invited everyone back to her house in Rockford, Ill, when she was ten. That’s where her personal music chronology began. Her parents would dance and she shadowed their every move.
Bridges take many forms; some are more functional than others. They vary in strength and aesthetics as well. The multi-talented Ann Hampton Callaway expanded the meaning of this concept in her new show, “Bridges” at Birdland. Just as all bridges are not equal, neither were all of the selections. Although Callaway’s voice is incredible, she was not at the top of her game in some of the numbers chosen to meld with this theme. But her musical message was loud and clear: how “bridges” help us connect with the world. Brazilian composer Milton Nascimento’s song inspired this singer/songwriter’s show. Hampton Calloway declared 2013 “as the year of building bridges.”
Scene: West Hollywood office, studio exec sitting in his oversized leather chair, smoke from his cigar wafts past a small sign on the wall that says, “THIS IS A SMOKE-FREE STUDIO”. Gazes at the Pacific outside his window as he thumbs through a screenplay with the working title, “The Manti Te’o Story: Me and My Notre Dame”. The bottom of the title page reads “Based on a true story”.
The newest Jewish commemorative institution scheduled to open in Europe this year is The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, built on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto According to Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblett, the director of its Core Exhibition, the museum will honor the memory of those killed during the holocaust and other pogroms by remembering how Jews lived in Poland for 1,000 years. The governments of Warsaw and Poland have contributed much of the funding for this venture but Jewish philanthropists have given many millions of dollars to this 200 million dollar project and luminaries such as Elie Wiesel have affirmed its importance as an exposition of the full and varied lives lived by Polish Jews throughout the centuries.
The Islamists in Egypt are evidently going full bore after the country’s Christians, and perhaps using the same blood libel-style ploy as has been used for millennium to such stunning effect against the Jews.
Life is hard, as the philosophers love to remind us. Besides being hard, life is also complex, as biology students soon learn when they begin studying how living organisms are classified. A University of Illinois professor, Carl Woese, a giant in the field of biology, who died recently, revolutionized the science of biology and contributed a glorious chapter to the complexity of life.
Let’s be clear about this: the point of those examples has nothing to do with whether the GOP is being obstructionist on fiscal matters, whether Tom Brady can quarterback the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl, or if the president can cajole Congress into meaningful gun legislation. The issue is the phrase “need to” and how the use of that phrase has gotten completely out of control.
Armies move on their stomachs, they say, which may help explain why the Russian army forgot all about its soldiers’ feet for several hundred years.
Associated Press reported that Russia’s new defense minister recently realized the country’s soldiers have been using foot wraps since the 17th century and no one gave a second thought to this since.
Called “portyanki” in Russian, these rectangular strips of cloth are carefully wrapped around bare feet to prevent blisters from the soldiers’ tall, heavy, lace-less boots, the story says. I’ve seen these in movies, but never in person, and actually didn’t realize until now that these guys were using these instead of socks on purpose.
Czar Peter the Great evidently adopted the custom from the Dutch army in the late 17th century and then never looked back.
Now, though, this Russian official says “it’s time for the nation’s soldiers to switch from foot wraps to socks,” the story says.
The official, who took the post two months ago, reportedly said he was surprised to learn that some soldiers are still using “portyanki,” and told them to use socks instead.
At a televised meeting with military officers recently, he reportedly said, “In 2013, or at least by the end of 2013, we must forget the word portyanki.”
I suppose, if the wraps were considered the best alternative because of the lace-less boots, changing to socks would only be a better alternative if the boots have improved since the 17th century, which I suspect they have, though you never know.
Not earth-shattering information in any way, but interesting, I thought.
For more than 20 years, a self-confessed monster lived among us here in Vallejo, and only, it seems, by the grace of God, probably didn’t kill anyone until he apparently recently murdered his 90-year-old mother.
In an interview with Joshua Oppenheimer in this week’s Forward (Filming the Killing Fields), reporter Sheerly Avni asks why the director chose to focus on the killers instead of the victims in his new film, “Act of Killing,” about the massacres in Indonesia in 1965:
After Team Obama’s horrid handling of the terrible tragedy in Benghazi, does anyone out there really cling to the left’s quickly unraveling yarn that this administration has a strong record on foreign policy and national security?
In an unbelievable display of chutzpah and/or a spectacular example of irony, a new Muslim Brotherhood official “called on Egyptian Jews to return to Egypt and leave Israel to the Palestinians,” JTA reported.