Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Great Performances: Sting

I watched Great Performances on PBS the other night, which showcased Sting and his work on the new album, The Journey And The Labyrinth.

I don't know if this will play on PBS again, but it's available on a DVD. If you can watch it, please do since it's beautiful. Sting embraces and explores the Elizabethan songs written by John Dowland - he calls him the first "English Singer/Songwriter." It's fascinating to see the interaction and passion the musicians and singers have for the history and music.

My breath was snatched when I saw the backdrop. It was filmed at Lake House, Sting's 16-century manor house in Wiltshire, and in the ancient gardens of Il Palagio, his home in Italy.

The man has a labyrinith in his backyard!! I never cared too much for labyrinths (can't even spell the bloody word properly!) because I've seen films like "Dracula" and "Harry Potter," which have enforced the eerieness of mazes. These are frightening because you must go forward though you don't know what lies ahead. You feel like a mouse scrambling around a maze, hoping to find a cheese in the middle or at least freedom.

However, Sting is a brilliant man in that he created claustrophobic-friendly labyrinth. It's cut low and is wide and open. He strolls around and around it. If you get tired of the circular walk, you can walk across it and go home. One of Sting's musician friends commented how calming it was to walk behind Sting across this type of labyrinth. He was so inspired by it, he bestowed the lute with the carved labyrinth to him, which led to this new album.

Anyway, it's an absolutely beautiful show - complete with romantic settings in Europe from the castles to the woods, the talented musicians and one incredibly talented Sting.

By the way, I've seen Sting in concert back in the 90's - I think it was "Soul Cages" and "Dream of Blue Turtles" tours. What I used to love about watching him perform live was his passion for music. He'd gather up his band and they'd start jamming on stage. Didn't matter hundreds of people were there - they were having fun. That kind of passion for what you do is absolutely sexy.

I'm also captivated by good lyrics. When I was younger, I had to reach for the dictionary for a line from "Synchronicity" - "Mephistopheles is not your name." I looked up "synchronicity" while I was it. And, I wouldn't have read "Lolita" were it not for Sting saying, "Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov" in "Don't Stand So Close to Me." That line would drive me crazy and even when I was reading it, it kept churning in my head.

Sting's low crooning on these Elizabethan songs gave me chills - his voice oscillates perfectly, swaying from a whisper to a bellow. He commented a few times about being a rock-n-roll singer, but this type of music suited him so well, you forget this was not his forte.

Perfect background music for an evening with good friends, sitting in front of a roaring fire, candles lit and swirling a glass of bordeaux.

If anyone has a 16th century castle, please do invite me.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Lost Clouds

Thanks to SirenSongs, I experienced this beautiful site, "50 Million Missing" photographs of Indian women and girls. This collection is a reminder of the beauty and diversity of the many faces of Indian women.

Sadly, the value of an Indian female has not improved where female infanticide and dowry deaths are still occurring. We hear about the tech boom, the educated classes and modern advances made in India, but when girls and women are still considered a burden, where will society end up? It is the "dehumanization" of women when they are valued with monetary measures. Here are some links to articles about this urgent issue: Missing: 50 Million Indian Girls and India's Missing Daughters.


I had received this poem this morning in my inbox as my Poem of the Day and it seems appropriate for this mood.

A Cloud withdrew from the Sky (895)

A Cloud withdrew from the Sky
Superior Glory be
But that Cloud and its Auxiliaries
Are forever lost to me

Had I but further scanned
Had I secured the Glow
In an Hermetic Memory
It had availed me now.

Never to pass the Angel
With a glance and a Bow
Till I am firm in Heaven
Is my intention now.

Emily Dickinson

For my poetry-phobic friends, the poem speaks about a cloud that was missed, an opportunity to see "superior glory." The moment could have been saved and reused again.

We need to stop and save the images of the Indian women and girls lest they become clouds that fade away with the sun.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On the Job Training: Motherhood - The End of the Innocence

She turns 6 tomorrow, on Valentine's Day.

This morning she was watching Sesame Street while I was racing around getting everything together to leave. Elmo was doing his usual routine with Dorothy the goldfish. Dorothy is Elmo's alter-ego. He masks his questions as her questions. For example, "Dorothy wants to know how you brush your hair." Then, a few children will say, "Dorothy, this is how I brush my hair," as if they're speaking to the goldfish.

So, Annika said, "Dorothy doesn't really talk. Elmo just talks for her."

I said, "Really?"

"Yeah, and did you know everyone on Sesame Street are just puppets?"

I asked, "Did someone tell you or you figured it out?" I started wondering if I should change her bus so she doesn't get exposed to influence from big kids.

"I figured it out. They were singing, and when they finished, they went down like puppets."

My friends had said that 6 is an age of change and a sudden maturity. I didn't think it would be like this. Then how come we still had a meltdown last night before bed?

I have to mourn a bit for those days when Elmo and Ernie were real to her. However, I shouldn't mourn too long because those characters are so alive to adults. I didn't grow up with Elmo (only Bert, Ernie, Kermit and Miss Piggy), but watching Elmo movies with my daughter, I fell in love with him too. I've seen my husband chuckle at a few of Elmo's antics, and he did not grow up on Sesame Street.

I was at the Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC a few years ago. When the Sesame Street float passed by, I was waving to Maria and the gang as if they were old friends and celebrities!

Anyway, the number of the day was 6.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Written Life

Natasha Bedingfield’s song, “Unwritten” is always on the radio these days and her lyrics are intriguing and always stirs a flood of images in my head:

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

First of all, maybe it’s because I’m 30-something I can’t relate to the line "Today is where your book begins." I feel like I’m in the middle of writing my book. I’ve got quite a number of completed chapters. Some plotlines are good, some are interesting, some are bad and there was a lot of times when I was spinning my wheels, but they’re all in my book.

There are some things I may want to forget or wish I could do over, but it’s written with indelible ink. Every paragraph was critical in helping move my story to where I am today. The good part is there are lots of nice clean pages ahead of me. I do have to refer to the past pages to know what to write in the new pages.

If I were in my 20’s, I definitely would have identified with the song. It’s because I felt that my life was always beginning I felt I could take risks and do the things I did.

The second line that strikes me is “No one else can speak the words on your lips.” It’s about personal responsibility. Your life can’t move forward unless you do it. You can read about the benefits of yoga, understand the history and philosophies. Yet, unless you get up and do a surya-namaskar (sun salutation), ain’t nothin’ gonna happen.

I have a great quote taped to my computer monitor: “Winners do what losers don’t want to do.” Yeah, there’s a lot of things no one wants to do. However, if you want to succeed, you will do it. Most likely you will do well if others are refusing to do it.