Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

Maya Angelou
April 4, 1928-May 28,2014

Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author and poet. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, cast-member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Since 1982, she taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.
With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson of black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Although attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou's major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet, although her poems have received mixed reviews.
Maya Angelou was one of the most influential and inspirational women of our time.  My favorite poem, Still I Rise, lyrics:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
Just because I walk as if I have oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like suns and like moons,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my sassiness offend you?
Don't take it so hard just because I laugh
As if I have gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You can shoot me with your words,
You can cut me with your lies,
You can kill me with your hatefulness,
But just like life, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance as if I have diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
A black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling, I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak miraculously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the hope and the dream of the slave,
And, so naturally
I rise.          

Still I Rise, Maya Angelou

Love Liberates, Maya Angelou

Maya even wrote and performed Calypso music.

“Music was my refuge,” the renowned author and poet Maya Angelou once said. “I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

While her powerful speaking voice was instantly recognizable, not everyone remembers that she was a skillful singer as well.

Angelou — born Marguerite Johnson – was a professional calypso dancer in the 1950s, and adopted the stage name “Maya Angelou” to distinguish herself from the competition.

At the age of 29,  she cut the 1957 album Miss Calypso, singing her own compositions over guitar, bongos, and congas. The style was en vogue at the time, thanks to artists like Harry Belafonte (“The Banana Boat Song”). In addition to originals like “Donkey City,” “Neighbor, Neighbor” and “Mambo In Africa,” Angelou recorded songs by Nat King Cole (“Calypso Blues”), Louis Jordan (“Run Joe”) and Wilmouth Houdini (“Stone Cold Dead In The Market”) for the album.

Run Joe, Maya Angelou

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The delicious aroma of barbecue wafted throughout the neighborhood yesterday, Memorial Day, which marked the start of the summer season for parks, pools, the shore...

It seemed everyone were at their grills.  My father's aide and I brought him to the local park Memorial Day.  It was the perfect day for his amusement; the aromas of steak, hot dogs or hamburgers, slivers of sunshine caressing trees in full bloom offering generous shade and comfort, mother's pushing their babies' strollers, children's playfulness and laughter. Everyone came together and knew nothing but happiness and contentment.

Grilling brings back so many fond memories of family and friends huddled at a lake or deck, the bbq working its magic.  I have to admit, I NEVER grilled; wokked, but not grilled though more and more women are flipping hamburgers side-by-side with their husbands/boyfriends who insist on being master of the grill.  And in the background, the music plays, ever prevalent, ever present.

My favorite bbq meal?  A slightly charred steak, red and juicy on the inside, a corn on the cob, a slice of cold watermelon, and a glass of red wine.  Perfection.

Looking forward to get-togethers, none allowing any of us to forget a childhood gaffe or prank; pulling out the guitars for silly sing alongs while my father plays his harmonica or tambourine, living his musical past the best he can. 

Summer's right around the corner.  Happy barbequing everyone!


Summertime, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

Summer Breeze, Seals and Croft

Daydream, John Sebastian of The Lovin Spoonful

Friday, May 23, 2014



"Memorialize, according to the dictionary definition, means to record lastingly with a monument. And pondering that definition brings up an intriguing question of philosophy and psychology. Why do we memorialize things and people? The answer to that question, undoubtedly, seems self-evident to many people. And it is probably because of that self-evidence, in fact, that a quick search of the Internet brings up little evidence that the issue has ever been seriously addressed by scholars or scientists. (Other than, that is, the common observation by experts in psychology that to memorialize a deceased loved-one is usually a healthy part of the typical grieving process. Despite this observation, however, psychologists have seemingly done little research into the question of exactly why it is that to memorialize is such an important part of grieving.) Apparently, it is just simple common sense that all of humanity has an innate desire, even emotional need; to stay connected with itself through the ages. To want to be remembered and to want to remember is, it seems, as natural a part of being human as are eating, drinking and sleeping.

The great Ancient Greek thinker Socrates often made reference to this phenomena when he talked about his ideas regarding education. He said, in a nutshell, that the soul of each man on Earth is an infinite force possibly a part of God that has roamed the universe forever and will continue roaming for eternity. And through this connection with all that is, ever was, and ever will be each soul knows everything that there is to know. The job of an earthly human, therefore, is to simply learn to remember all that his or her soul ever knew. That is the definition of education, according to Socrates. (And, in fact, scholars of English point out that the prefix - which typically means “again” – came to be added to “remember,” probably, because of the worldwide influence of Socrates' idea about education. The word holds Socrates' idea in its very denotation. To say that we are “re” - membering a thing, assumes that we have always known that thing.

So, to memorialize, is the most natural of human traditions besides being the most special."


Tribute to Fallen Soldiers


Saturday, May 17, 2014

"The National September 11 Memorial Museum" will open on May 21, 2014

Ground Zero Museum

Barnes & Noble Books 2002 Hard-Cover 200 Pages
by Gary Marlon Suson
Forewards by FDNY Assistant Chief of Operations Joseph Pfeifer
& FDNY Battalion Chief William Hines

Shipping $11 (USA)

The Rising, Bruce Springsteen

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

As important as exercising the heart and body, is the brain. Spot the difference puzzles are good fun!

This picture puzzle has 14 differences. Can you spot them all?

This Chef in the Kitchen puzzle has ten.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Lola Ridge, 1873

Your love was like moonlight
turning harsh things to beauty,
so that little wry souls
reflecting each other obliquely
as in cracked mirrors . . .
beheld in your luminous spirit
their own reflection,
transfigured as in a shining stream,
and loved you for what they are not.

You are less an image in my mind
than a luster
I see you in gleams
pale as star-light on a gray wall . . .
evanescent as the reflection of a white swan
shimmering in broken water.
This poem most truly reflects my feelings. This will be the second Mother's Day without Mutti
but her love and grace remains with me, us.


Mother Is Gone, Hank Williams Sr.

My Mother's Eyes, George Jessel

Mama, Connie Francis

I Remember Mama, Film Trailer