Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This 4th of July Experience the Freedom of Flight!

A couple of weeks ago I took my first flight lesson. Yes indeed I was in the pilot seat and the instructor was in the co-pilot seat. It was thrilling, memorable and I highly recommend it. Currently I am working on putting together a 30 second video of my experience to share with all my readers, friends, and family.

In the meantime, Miami Fly is offering a special this 4th of July weekend! If you purchase your certificate by Sunday, July 5th, you can choose a flight lesson or aerial tour (always with flight instructor) for full thirty minutes for $80 or full hour for $130. Ladies--this is not just a man's sport.

Take advantage of this special offer and visit Miami Fly or call Eusebio Valdes ( you can call him Valdez) at 305-255-5519. He has a perfect record and has been flying for 26 years and teaching the last 20 years.

No matter your plans, I wish you all a safe and patriotic 4th of July!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson Defined Universal Language

The look of Michael Jackson that I will remember

When I heard the news, at first I believed that it was rumor. The King of Pop dead at the young age of 50? So suddenly? It couldn't be true. I was too young to understand the icon of Elvis Presley and his death at the age of 42 in the year 1977. Questions are pounding in my head--what caused the cardiac arrest of Michael?

Last night as I watched the ABC News special report on the life of Michael Jackson, unexpected tears trickled down my face. At the age of 14, only a year after my family left small town Titusville, FL to the wondrous big city of Columbia, MD (outside of Washington DC), I had won a pair of tickets on radio station to see Michael Jackson in the Victory Tour where he reunited with his brothers. The year was 1983.

Ten years younger than MJ, he influenced my life as a teenager in many ways. From a fashion standpoint, he influenced the trend of corduroy to sparkly black and white outfits to red leather to sequined everything in the 1980's.

But his music was more than a short-lived tune on the radio station. He accomplished what no other politician or world leader had set out to do. The musical genius of Michael Jackson moved, uplifted and joined an entire world. People of all backgrounds, cultures, races celebrated life through the music of Michael Jackson. An avid aficionado of the music and the arts, thanks to my mother, music motivated me and I loved to dance. For years I performed ballet but at home and at parties, I danced freestyle, my style to an upbeat Michael Jackson song. Michael sent an underlying powerful message-- it's OK to be different. And if you didn't liked my dance moves--well then "Beat It!".

His moonwalk and robotic gestures was his signature dance style that was a constant in all his videos and performances. He was different and he capitalized on it rather than shy away. His way of being "different" eventually boomeranged with a vengeance.

Personally I never believe that he harmed any children. On the contrary, after a lifetime of hardwork since a tender age of five, and having everything in the world, clearly the only thing missing in his life was his childhood. Listening to his interviews, I choked back tears when he said he would hear other children playing in the park across the street from the studio. But his father's disciplined regimen for the Jackson boys, meant studio practice everyday after school. There was no time to be a child. I can relate as I recall learning Algebra and how to play chess on a Saturday when other kids were playing outside. But that was once a month, not my entire childhood. I'm grateful for my father teaching me math equations and strategy at a young age. There was still plenty of time to play dress up, hopscotch, climb trees, and play with my Barbies.

Thus when the King of Pop opened Neverland, I knew Michael was living another dream he was forced to give up. An estate full of amusement park rides, Michael even welcomed groups of handicapped children to enjoy the rides. He loved children and just wanted to be one of them. Michael Jackson was a performer on the outside but a big child lived within. He longed for games, rides, sleepovers--anything related to happy children. Odd? Yes. Understandable? Put yourself in his shoes and imagine not having any childhood.

Michael broke so many barriers. Billie Jean was the first black video to be featured on MTV. His fashion was a template for a generation. Just when you thought his songs, dances, videos, and concert performances couldn't get any better- he surpassed them. Rewatching his music videos--he gave 200% of his burning passion in every single choreographed move. He was a phenomenon.

His Thriller album launched in 1982-- the same year I experienced the thrill of high school graduation and went away to begin college life. Thriller launched Michael Jackson into orbit and he never came down. He took the music video and turned into a mini motion picture. Below is the entire music video for Thriller. Warning: It's 13 minutes long. To appreciate his talent as artist, understand that in 1982 music videos were just that. Music Videos.

In the end I will always remember Michael Jackson as pop icon before the "transformation". When he underwent minor cosmetic nose surgery--he was still the same Michael to me. As he gained more fame and riches so did the toxicity of stardom, and he struggled with his inner identity and now I learned that he had a form of lupus that can cause vitiligo. Is it true? Who am I to judge. All child stars suffer beyond painful growing pains. Some who get out of the engulfing black hole, can survive. Will Smith did it. Most are not so lucky. But I believe Michael Jackson was ready for a comeback.

The King of Pop died a long time ago, and just when he was going to resurrect, death beat him to it. But like all larger-than-life figures, his music and life will be celebrated forever. That is the power of the arts! The power of music and dance--the universal language of love and celebration.

What does my Blog Sister, Alicia, have to say? Read her blog.

For his biography and view a gallery of his photos and peruse listing of all his songs, click here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is Facebook a Fading Fad?

Recently I read an article where author claims that Facebook is dying. Really?! I just joined this year. What do you think? Here are her reasons AND my comments:

Eleven Reasons Facebook Is Really Dead
By: The Frisky
A new Vatican Web site, Pope2You, has launched, and on it you’ll find an application called “The pope meets you on Facebook.” Yes, the pope is on Facebook. The Vatican is using social networking tools in an attempt to reach young believers. But you can’t “poke” him or write on his wall, so what’s the point? Lately, we’ve been asking the same thing about Facebook in general. After the jump, eleven reasons why Facebook is really dead.

1. The Pope is on it. [Christine says: Since when does the Pope's involvment in an issue lead to death? On the contrary--I think it indicates the growing popularity and the power of social marketing via the Internet].

2. And so are your parents and relatives you’d rather not know. [ Christine says: Hey--I only accept those friends and family that I want to include in my circle of contacts. If you're related to a black sheep, you don't have to add them, or do you?]

3. Facebook viruses are rampant. [Christine says: this could be true but I only have time to check Facebook once a week. I'm too busy with other priorities. More important--I STUDIED the privacy conditions and adjusted setting to my safety preference.]

4. The photos are too common. [Christine says: who has the time and money to afford a professional photographer to escort you to every event? Let's be real. I think the candid shots are the best. If one only adds photoshopped photos then it gets boring b/c it's not real].

5. Holocaust-deniers and other offensive groups have profiles. [Christine says: The power of Freedom of Speech. All voices are heard. Sounds like a reason Facebook is becoming more popular, even if we disagree with the delusional Holocaust deniers. ]

6. Stupid quizzes are annoying—the “What Is Your Secret Fetish?” test puts a cup of urine on your page if your result is “urophilia”—TMI! [Christine says: Agreed. They are annoying. But the quizzes are optional. No one is forcing you to take the quiz].

7. It makes online stalking too easy and we’re trying to break that habit. [Christine says: Then be responsible and accountable--study the privacy statements. ]

8. Your partner can dump you just by changing their relationship status. [Christine says: True, but then you move on. And if your next partner does the same thing--you're dating losers and need to reevaluate standards].

9. Twitter has made status updates obsolete. [Christine says: True. But Twitter is hardly overtaking Facebook. Twitter is annoying.]

10. No one actually reads your Facebook invitations. [Christine says: True. but hardly a reason that Facebook is dying.]

11. It’s the very definition of a fad. [Christine says: definitely true but I would say it's not anywhere in the decline stage. It's at peak! My mother just joined--if senior citizens are joining then Baby Boomer generation could launch Facebook to new level!]

My overall assessment of this person's opinion that Facebook is dying--clever marketing to get visitors to read their blog! It definitely worked. I read it!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Loving Frank

A scandalous love affair that stems from an attraction of the mind between a married man and woman, in an era where the woman's movement was broiling into national arena, Loving Frank, is the latest book about famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his love affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney. (Note: Mamah is pronounced "May-muh")

Our book club selected this book, at the recommendation of Dorothy Ann. So here is my review of this historical fiction.

An aficionado of non-fiction but also a good love story whether it's fact or fiction. Loving Frank is both which is also frustrating for me at the same time. The houses he designed, the love affair, and the tragic ending are all factual. However, the author theorizes about the character's interaction and personalities and I'm always left wondering, "was she really like that?".

Growing up in the 197o's and 80's I had heard of Frank Lloyd Wright. His designs were considered "modern" for their minimalist, organic characteristics. As a child, I thought he was an architect of recent period. Until I read this book, I had no idea Frank Lloyd Wright lived in the early 1900's. Once I learned this fact and read about the designs, I was amazed and have to agree he was a genius.

The book does an excellent job in describing the houses he designed and therefore revealing Wright's light-years-ahead thinking and vision. A non-architect, one can appreciate the inspiration and thought process.

Mr. Wright is way ahead of other architects. People just think 'prairie house' when they hear his name. But he's so much more than that. If you listen to what he says about organic architecture, you can go build natural houses anywhere in the world. People don't understand that now, but they will someday. What I'm trying to say is, he's a prophet. He's going to change the way architecture is praticed. Period. [from his loyal apprentice Taylor].

The author and journalist, Nancy Horan, craftfully portrays the professional and personal life of the most famous US architect, Frank Lloyd Wright; the influence of a married but highly educated, like-minded, forward-thinking woman who struggles to break the glass mold of traditional mother bound to house and children; and how society both hounded the couple in a media circus and ostracized them from everyday mundane affairs.

In the beginning of the book, after leaving their spouses, the pair flees to Europe, finding delight in a less-disapproving continental society, as well as an outlet for their cultural pursuits. Mamah, the independent spirit, refuses to tag along and drown in boring business conversations and taps into her talent as a polyglot to translate works of Swedish feminist Ellen Key.

'She says that once love leaves a marriage, then the marriage isn't sacred anymore. But if a true, great love happens outside of a marriage, it's sacred and has its own rights. She says each fresh couple must must prove that their love enhances their lives and the human race by living together.' Frank was slicing the bread. 'You mean we're doing this for the human race?'

Mamah, a mother of two children, was in constant conflict with her decision to leave her children behind. There were moments of reprieve and she clung to them "for the greater good".

In approaching Paris by train to meet up with Frank and surveying the damage by a torrential flood, Ellen realizes her worries are minimal compared to the miseries of the desperate Parisians.

Alarm rippled through the train as passengers moved about to get better views. But the calm that had possessed Mamay in Nancy persisted...She felt clarity, even more than before, as if she were viewing everything, even herself, from a distance. How small we human are. All our srambling around, trying to buttress ourselves against death. All our efforts to insulate ourselves against uncertainty with codes of behavior.

How ridiculous it all seemed, when life itself was so short, so precious. To live dishonestly seemed a cowardly way to use up one's time. For all the troubles life had meted out to her, she thought, it had given her more extraordinary gifts, Martha and John were that [her children]. And then, quite by chance, and in the wrong order, life had bestowed on her another kind of love that was both erotic and nourishing. To embrace Frank, to accept the gift, seemed to be an affirmation of life.

How to reconcile the deepest loves of her soul? She tried to imagine a time in the future when she would explain to her children this understanding. They would have to be adults to comprehend it. But she believed they would see that her choice to leave their father was not meant as a cruel self-indulgence geared to make them unhappy. Rather, it was an act of love for life.

So who was this man that raptured Mamah's heart and uprooted her life, leaving a comfortable lifestyle (an old maid sister who took over the rearing of her children, a nanny, and housekeeper) and adoring husband for a life on the run?

Wright is a brilliant architect but also erractic. He was lauded and vilified in equal amounts. Horan's extensive research provides substantial underpinnings for this engrossing novel, and the focus on Mamah lets readers see her attraction to the creative, flamboyant architect but also her recognition of his arrogance. Ironically, he is demanding of his employees and vendors yet at the same time he is grossly irresponsible as a businessman failing to pay his loyal employees for up to a two year period and mounting debts for his luxuries to maintain an image. When his faithful lover, Mamah, discovers the latter, she denounces him as a liar and fraud and leaves him. In shock, Wright genuinely makes an effort to undo the damning damage. The reconciliation and glimpse of a happily-ever-after turns suddenly tragic.

Despite the tragic ending, the book is well written in a natural, lyrical prose. This book is thought provoking and offers plenty discussion for a book club! The values of marriage and fidelity vs. true happiness, the feminist movement, the pressures and consequences of media intrusion on the personal lives of famous people.

Do you think Mamah was selfish or courageous in her quest for expression of self, and true happiness in the long run? Share your comments below!

Home and Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright in Illinois