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  1. Stephen's Health

    Dear Betsy, Through the Forum, Stephen’s exceptional intelligence, passionate nature, and generosity of spirit reached out across the world and touched us all. Through his writings, I came to admire his dedication to principled action and to be inspired by his joyful approach to life. I feel very fortunate to have met Stephen this way and I will miss him. My thoughts are with you, Betsy. I know that your indomitable spirit will see you through this great loss. Alan
  2. Betsy, me, and THE FORUM

    Betsy, Although I have not been active in the Forum lately, I stop by regularly to keep track of the goings-on and for a sometimes much needed dose of rationality and benevolence. I was dismayed on a recent visit to read of your serious accident. I want to join your many other friends here at the Forum in wishing you a speedy and complete recovery. Your indomitable spirit is truly inspirational! Best regards for wonderful 2006. Alan
  3. Unfortunately, the subsequent scripts failed to live up to the promise of that beginning and I have not watched it after those first few shows.
  4. I just finished listening to a CD compilation of arias and songs (and one duet) sung by Bjorling, Caruso, and Gigli. three of the greatest tenors ever. I was mesmerized by their truly spectacular singing!!! Even if you are not an opera fan, this compilation is well worth a listen. The 21 tracks cover a wide range of composers and styles and demonstrate the versatility and mastery of these remarkable artists. Having all three together like this highlights the unique character of each. This Nimbus CD has apparently been around for awhile, but only came to my attention recently. Although the recordings were originally old 78's, from as far back as 1907, the sound quality is quite good. The link here is to an out of stock Amazon listing since it has sample tracks, but Amazon and B&N each have it new for under $10. (Track 21, the only one not sampled, is one of my favorites, the duet from the Pearl Fishers by Bizet. The version of this I like best is by Bjorling with Robert Merrill, but this collection has Gigli singing it with Giueppe de Luca and I think Gigli gives Bjorling a pretty good run for the money). Who's your favorite of the three?
  5. I thought some here might find this of interest.
  6. Shall We Dance (1996)

    Despite my reservations about Richard Gere which I expressed in another thread, based on the good reports here, I decided to see the new version of Shall We Dance. I was particularly interested to see how it compared with the 1996 Japanese original. Both films are enjoyable, but the Japanese film has a broader theme, a more tightly integrated script, superior acting, and a greater degree of stylization. In my view, it is much the better film. ******THERE ARE SPOILERS FOLLOWING IN THIS POST****** Although both films follow the same basic plot structure and the theme of both versions is the importance of self-fulfillment, the American version examines this from the perspective a man’s personal search for happiness in his life; the perspective of the Japanese film is a man’s search for individuality in a regimented, collectivist society. This broader context for the Japanese film is set in the prologue: “In Japan, ballroom dancing is regarded with much suspicion.. . . The idea that a husband and wife should embrace and dance in front of others is beyond embarassing. However, to go out dancing with someone else would be misunderstood and prove more shameful.” For Sugiyama, getting off that train is an act of defiance against a lifetime of rigid cultural mores; for John Clark it is a triumph over self-doubt. I wondered if the American film would work without the same context; if John Clark’s secretiveness would be credible and if the same dramatic tension would exist. I was pleasantly surprised that the script addressed his purpose and his secretiveness in terms appropriate to the theme and that it did work. (The adjustments which were made in the story lines for the secondary characters, however, were a bit forced and less satisfactory). Alas, due to some seemingly unnecessary script doctoring the dramatic tension of the original fizzled in the remake. I thought, in particular, that a critical scene in the Japanese film was when, alone in the dance studio, Sugiyama tells Miss Mai of what dancing has come to mean to him, and she tells him how dance came to be her life. Poignant, touching, beautifully filmed, and sensitively acted. In the American version, this exchange was presented as an almost off-handed discussion on the way to somewhere else and broken up into pieces. Also, the parallelism of events - what happened during Miss Mai’s first exposure to ballroom dancing at Blackpool, the unfortunate collision at Sugiyama’s dance competition, and what occurred at her Blackpool competition - acted as a powerful integrating element in the film. The significance of these events to Miss Mai gave depth and interest to her character. By contrast, this was all but omitted in the remake, weakening the story line and rendering Paulina’s character paper thin. Additionally, although in Hollywood the marquee names are expected to do their big dance together, the tango scene with JL and RG added an element of sexual innuendo which completed detracted from and confused the storyline. By this point of the story, it is about “him” and “her” and dance, not about “him and her” dancing. I was also pleasantly surprised by the ending of the American version; having seen the Japanese version first, I did not expect John Clark to go to join his wife and dance with her. It was the right ending for that film, consistent with the film's take on the theme, totally appropriate, and well-played. Ah! but the ending of the Japanese version - that is beautiful film making. This final scene captures the full essence of the theme in one highly stylized moment. There she stands, solitary, tall, and straight in a shockingly red dress, spotlighted against a grey background. Sugiyama enters in his drab suit of conformity, his symbolic briefcase in hand, slouched, head-down, hesitant, and self-effacing. She walks to him. “Shall we dance?” she says. His eyes alight, a smile crosses his face, he stands erect and proud, takes her in his arms, and gracefully strides across the dance floor... What more need be said?
  7. Wrongfully incarcerated

    I have not given this great thought yet, but my immediate reaction is that if it were myself who had been wrongfully imprisoned, you bet I would expect to be compensated in spades and then some - and I would hold this to be justified morally, and would expect this to be endorsed legally, or any other way you slice it!! It would not matter if this wrong had been perpetrated upon me by negligence, bad judgement, incompetence, stupidity, misunderstanding, or a wrong-headed conclusion based on the evidence available at the time. My greatest value, the days of my own life, would have been taken from me by force without my consent, and the perpetrator of that wrong, the state as represented through its various agents, must be held accountable. Of course, even in a rational society with a proper court system based on objective law, including objective rules of evidence and capable juries, omniscience cannot be the standard for legal judgements. Errors may still occur, but justice demands that the victims of such errors be appropriately compensated. In agreeing to live in a free society, I do not recall it being a conditon of my citizenship that it is okay for law enforcement and the judiciary to wrongfully imprison me, even if the facts at the time may be miscontrued as indicating a high probability of my being guilty. Did I miss that in the Constitution? I think it is important to note that this situation differs from that of “honest errors of judgement” made in voluntary relationships (for example, by one’s physician). When I enter into an agreement voluntarily with my physician, I am aware that I can only expect the full use of his intelligence and his best judgement, and that he will fully inform me of the risks associated with my condition and treatment. It is my choice to seek his advice, to seek an opinion or care from another physician if I think that is warranted, and to give my informed consent to any treatment. If things go wrong, barring overt negligence, he cannot be held at fault and I can not reasonably expect compensation for any loss I may suffer. Nothing here is being imposed upon me by force as it is in a wrongful imprisonment based on an error in judgement in the court proceedings. BTW - Do you think that if the appeals process overturns Martha Stewart’s conviction that she is due compensation for the damage that kangaroo court did to her life and her company (not to mention to all of her employees and shareholders)? I certainly do. Unfortunately, the Federal liability (recently raised in a bill signed by GWB 10/30/04) is apparently only $50K/year of imprisonment and most states pay no compensation for wrongful imprisonment or have marked limitations on the amount of liability. (I did not know that until I looked into it just now in reference to his thread. Perhaps someone with a legal background can clarify this if my understanding is in error). Sort of a double standard for government versus business, wouldn’t you say? Do I hear “tort reform, ” anyone?? (see Subtitle 3)
  8. Jokes

    Thanks, Gideon. I had not heard that before. Very clever!
  9. Jokes

    Okay, here are two old philosophical chestnuts: Sartre went into a cafe and ordered a coffee with sugar, but no cream. The waitress soon came back and said, "I'm sorry, Mr. Sartre. We are all out of cream - how about with no milk." Q: What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor? A: Make me one with everything.
  10. Who's your favorite Founding Father and why?

    I'll second that. If you have not yet done so, become a registered user at the Ayn Rand Institute web site. A wonderful bonus for registered users is that currently Dr. Ridpath's passionate and moving tribute, "George Washington: Integrity and the Founding of America" is available for listening. This is a great lecture by a great teacher about the greatest Founding Father.
  11. The Aesthetic Qualifier

  12. The Aesthetic Qualifier

    If we were to apply your "on my wall" standard to your (or my) bookcase, would that mean that we would have to delete Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dante, Shakespeare, Byron, Ibsen, Shaw, etc. from the roll of the "greats" because their subjects were "yucky?" Anyway, thanks for pursuing this point so doggedly. Your comments inspired me to go back and reread these sections in OPAR and RM and it's been good to go over all this again.
  13. Hello all

    Thoyd, I don't mind at all. I used the name "Daughter of Time" which is the title of one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, Josephine Tey (I will write a post about it and her sometime soon). She took the title from an old adage, "Truth is the Daughter of Time." Think about it. I subsequently realized that the moniker might be mistaken as suggesting that I am of the fairer sex, which I am not. So, here I use my initials. I had joined OO late in the Fall and read more than wrote. I decided I would rather participate here and joined soon after Stephen and Betsy launched THE FORUM. Anyway, glad to make your acquaintance even if you are being way too generous to Schopenauer.
  14. Hello all

    Thoyd, The interest level has already perked up with your contributions (eg today's comments on art). I enjoyed reading your lively comments on OO, although we did not have an opportunity to exchange ideas directly. I was impressed with your sometimes blunt and always incisive sparring with those who warranted bluntness and your lucid, good-humored insights for all the rest. I look forward to getting to know you better here. One thing for now - I am intrigued by your signature statement. Why do you say so?