Sunday, November 29, 2015

Loose Thoughts

A few loose thoughts:

1.  Be sure to check out my continuing Monday posts on DaTechGuy blog each week.  They go up a little after noon each Monday.  This week my post reflects on the upcoming administration of John Bel Edwards.  Color me skeptical.

2.  Why is Donald Trump still leading in the polls?  Seriously.  I'm not being derogatory about Trump supporters, but I swear I spoke to one guy a week ago who said he likes Trump "because you just never know what he will say!"  It's like reality tv!  SMDH.

Okay, so Rubio and Cruz are trending up and that's good.  Steve will never be on board with Rubio but I can be.  My history with Rubio is very well documented, all the way back to May 2009 on this and multiple other blogs. I'm predicting the nominee will be Rubio (yes, I KNOW conservatives hate his immigration stance; trust me.  The Legal Insurrection readers have flayed me over this).

And by the way, The New Yorker has an interesting profile of Rubio, here.

3.  I think Ben Carson is a very kind, gentle man; he won't be president.

4.  I really, really miss the sane, rational, intelligent voice of Bride of Rove.  Perhaps she will come back in 2016?  *Hoping*

5.  There are some great local activities going on this week:  the annual Candlelight Christmas Service will be this Friday, December 4, at the Brown Chapel on the Centenary campus.  We went last year and it's just beautiful.  I've been looking forward to it all year.  Saturday, December 5 will be the Pioneer Christmas Parade and Trade Days in Grand Cane.  It begins early but is always a good time.

6.  Gertrude Stein once said “It takes a heap of loafing to write a book.”  The revisions to my Cammie book are sitting here, ready to go, but I haven't done them.  In part, I hate to get back in there and mess up what I've done, but I know that in the end it will be better.  In another part, my deadline is August 1.  That's a long way away and I work better under pressure.  So, I'm setting myself a February 1 deadline.  There's a reason behind that date that I don't want to get into right now, but suffice to say that my goal is to have the manuscript ready to go by February 1.  

While I do have a contract with LSU Press, the manuscript still has to get by their panel of expert readers, so I have to get my act together.  Right now I am doing some additional research and reading to round out a couple of thin spots in my manuscript.  I had no idea what a long process this is; but, it will be a better book for it all!

7.  What a screwed-up-dirty dog-cluster-monkey-mess this LSU story has been this week.  The only person that needs to go ANYWHERE is Joe Alleva.  What an inept ass.  Both Miles and the players deserve better than what they got from Alleva this past week.

8.  Have you tried this?  It is heaven.  I can only find it at Sam's Club -- during the holidays.  Stock up.

9.  I am SO ready for baseball season at Centenary to begin.  This is the fastest three months of the year for me.

Have a good week.  I'm back to work this week after Thanksgiving break and we are heading into EOC testing.  We are ready.  Then we get to kill Macbeth.  Awesome!  Then Christmas break!

Leave a comment.  I miss your voices.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Stunning Night With Lennice and the Two Tears

Anyone that knows a thing at all about me knows that I am a music groupie.  Shreveport is a town that has always, always been flush with musical talent and the names are legendary and far too many to list but from Kix Brooks to Cole Vosbury, from Miki Honeycutt to Micki Fuhrman Milom, from Hank Williams to Van Cliburn to Johnny Campbell to Huddie Ledbetter, to Danny Johnson, to Kenny Wayne Shepherd, our area has produced some very fine talent.

Not all of our talented singers and musicians are famous though; some of them work the local scene and have huge local followings.  They are no less talented.  They don't come any better than A.J. Cascio, Jimmy Day, Johnny Vickers, Robin Vosbury, Julia Dunning, Robin Beach Black, and so many more.

Let's add Lennice Bolton, Renada Thomas, and Deidre Malbrough to one of these lists. The trio performs locally at various dining establishments; we first found Lennice performing solo at The Anvil restaurant on Line Avenue.  Then Deidre started singing with him and now they've added Renada Thomas to the group.  They're calling themselves Lennice and the Two Tears now, but I'm calling them fabulous.

I'm sharing a video of Deidre that I made on my phone last night -- the sound quality isn't the best because it's a phone, right.  Headphones help pick up the musical accompaniment but just listen to the purity and nuance of her voice!

Deidre has performed with a couple of local bands and if you search YouTube you can find a stunning cover of "Come Together" that she knocks out of the park.

What impressed me about this song, this performance, was that it was sort of off the cuff.  Everyone had gone, the restaurant was empty except for just us. Steve and I were chatting with them and Renada was simply charming telling us funny stories and joking around.  We were talking about their favorite songs to sing and that sort of thing and someone said Whitney Houston.  Renada sang a stunning rendition of  "Greatest Love of All" and I could kick myself for not recording, and her version of "At Last," by Etta James, will run chills down your spine.  Simply beautiful.  Renada has performed with gospel praise groups under the name Renada Soul and she has done the National Anthem for the Shreveport Mavericks.

When Renada finished her Whitney song, Deidre sang hers.  There was something about the moment, I can't say exactly what it was, but you knew something special was about to happen.  I grabbed my phone, missed the first few seconds, but the rest was electric.

When she finished, Lennice told us, "What you don't know, what you can't know, is that there is a mistake in that arrangement (on his keyboard) that she picked up and adjusted for.  She never missed a beat."

The servers came out of the kitchen to see what was happening, and the room was silent as she sang. It was almost as if she was alone in the room, totally into the moment, as she sang.  No one moved.

It was just one of those moments when you knew that you'd witnessed something rare.

These three people are far too talented to be playing to near empty restaurants. I don't know what their ambitions are with their music, but more people need to hear them.

You can check them out on Sunday evenings at The Lucky Palace in Bossier; the food, service and atmosphere there is wonderful and the entertainment can't be beat!  They also perform on Wednesdays at Ernest's Restaurant, and Sunday afternoons at Big O's on Cross Lake.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Voter Apathy Killed Louisiana

I am disgusted by the apathy in yesterday's election here in Louisiana.  As I understand it, the early numbers show about a 39.7% turnout, only slightly higher than the October primary.  As of this writing, official numbers are not yet compiled.

In general, I am disgusted with the outcome.  Louisiana has returned a Democrat to the gubernatorial mansion primarily based on the fact that the Republican candidate was embroiled in the DC Madam scandal in 2007. Republicans I talked to just couldn't vote for Senator Vitter because he committed adultery and they couldn't find it in their Christian hearts to forgive him or to look at his conservative political record.  They either stayed home or voted for the Democrat.

John Bel Edwards won the election by a 56% to 43% margin.  Edwards campaigned as a moderate Democrat; he is an Obama supporter.  One of the first things Governor Edwards will do is to accept the Louisiana Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare.

Another problem I saw with Edwards is that he is in the pocket of the trial lawyers and would do little to support the tort reform that is contributing to the anti-business climate in this state.  The business climate in this state is dismal...that is unless all you want to come in is more chain restaurants and tattoo parlors.  Not much else is happening here.

Edwards also wants to raise the minimum wage -- another anti-business move.

I also find it unsettling that Edwards seems to have no clear position on whether or not he would accept more Syrian refugees into Louisiana and that he has been obfuscating his earlier positions on this for what is apparently a more popular stance.  The Hayride outlined this word-juggling here.  Initially, Edwards posted on Facebook that he would be an "active participant" in talks with the feds so that "we can be partners in the effort to accommodate refugees...".  Well, if we can forgive Vitter for adultery eight years ago, (as his wife did, by the way), certainly we can forgive Edwards a little verbal nuance, no?  Everyone's entitled to change their mind, except when they lie about it.

Initially, Edwards want to accommodate and assist the Syrian refugees coming into Louisiana.  After his Facebook posts advocating this position, and the grief he took for it in the comments, he changed his mind.  Curious.

Both campaigns manipulated language and positions to enhance themselves; that is the nature of modern politics.  David Vitter was a flawed candidate and it looks like in general, Republicans just opted for the Democrat or else stayed home just to punish the Republican party for such sorry offerings.  The collateral damage of that is that good men like Henry Burns lost their elections.

State Representative Henry Burns was in a run-off with Bossier City attorney Ryan Gatti.  Burns lost that race by less than 100 votes.  That race wasn't in my district and I don't know much about Mr. Gatti; both candidates are Republicans.  I know Henry Burns though, and I know there is no finer, kinder man.  I've witnessed the work he's done for and with veterans and for this area.  He was a small business owner and understands the needs and responsibilities of the working man trying to make a living.  He's had an exemplary record in the House and I've never heard a negative word about him.  The only reason he lost his race is voter apathy.  What a shame.

My district BESE race didn't turn out as I wished either.  We had a choice between an educator and a non-educator in that one.  A choice between a woman who has been in education for 27 years and has been a school principal, who opposed Common Core, and a man that supports Common Core and has never worked in education.  The Tony Davis campaign released a photoshopped picture of his opponent, Mary Harris, with Governor Bobby Jindal in a heart-shaped frame to make the claim that Harris would be a "rubber-stamp" for Gov. Bobby Jindal (who won't be in office after January).  That the Davis campaign took the photo of Harris, which originally was on her Facebook page and was of her with Dr. John Fleming -- not Jindal, and photoshopped it to further their own campaign is just dirty politics.

But that's what Louisiana elected last night.

In the Caddo Parish District Attorney's race, we elected the candidate that accepted the George Soros money.  Judge Stewart may be a fine man and a fair judge, but I couldn't vote for Soros money.

All in all, it's a sad lot of affairs.

Elliot Stonecipher's new article offers a few pinpricks of optimistic light this morning.  We did elect Billy Nungesser as Lt. Governor over the Democrat Kip Holden, and we did elect Jeff Landry as Attorney General.

And by the end of the night, Senator Vitter declared that he won't run for re-election to the Senate which opens that slot up to some excellent candidates such as Rob Maness, Charles Boustany, and John Fleming.  There will be a strong Republican field for that seat.

It was a disappointing night for conservatives in Louisiana, but overall it was the apathy that killed us.  If we don't care about our political leaders any more than 39%, we deserve what we get.  We deserve the Common Core, the Syrian refugees, Obamacare, jacked up minimum wage, anti-business climate, and all of the other liberal dreck that comes with it.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The 1940s Radio Hour is a Hit at Shreveport Little Theater

Photo courtesy of SLT Facebook page
It's been a long time since I've been to The Shreveport Little Theater but we went out today to see Seva May's production of The 1940s Radio Hour which we enjoyed immensely.

Who doesn't love the music of that era: this production was right up my alley!

The story is set during a December broadcast of a live radio cavalcade show from the Astor Hotel in New York City in 1942.  The first fifteen minutes or so are intentionally chaotic as the various characters dash in, brushing snow from coats, studying scripts, making phone calls, and getting ready for the show.  There is a certain degree of audience participation as you are expected to applaud when the "Applause" sign lights up -- this is live radio after all!

The cast for this production is a likable, talented mix of veterans and rookies which was perfect for this story because that's what you probably actually had in such performances.  It looked like the cast was having a great time with each other on stage and it all worked very well, I thought.

Luke Digilormo played B.J., a preppy sort of argyle sweater kind of fellow who nearly stole the show when they sang "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."  The sassy Geneva Lee Brown backed out of the song (she hadn't rehearsed it) and so the hapless B.J. was pulled up to the mike by the other girls in the act. Digilormo's expressive face and tall, thin frame were a natural for the song and dance number.  It was
a real hit with the audience.

Jennifer Jackson played Ann Collier, who sang "That Old Black Magic" and nailed the 1940s look.  She has a lovely voice. Madeline Collier played Connie Miller who was absolutely adorable in her duet with B.J. singing "How About You,"  and you'll have to see her "ad" for Eskimo Pies for yourself.  Barbara Holmes played Geneva Lee Brown, and she was stunning singing "At Last" in a chill-bumps-inducing rendition of the Etta James classic.  She was quite glamorous with her diamonds and her satin dress!

Absolutely precious was young Zoie Swint who played Wanda the delivery girl who just wants a chance in front of the mike.  In her saddle oxfords and bobby socks, Wanda twirls her hair and closes her eyes as she listens to the other, more experienced singers, just waiting for her chance.

Bree Guggenhein played the part of Ginger, a sultry, sexy songstress who has the men all in a tither as she sings "Blues in the Night," shedding her red satin gloves as she goes.

Rick Stovall was a wonderful Johnny Cantone, the boozing, name dropping crooner who plans on leaving the show after the performance for hopefully greener pastures, much to the shock of his fellow cast members.

This production was the SLT debut of Casey Allen who played the part of Biff Baker, a saxophone player who is headed off to be a fighter pilot.  Allen has a little of a Matthew McConaughey look to him, and has a very poignant scene at the end, when the "show" is over and he's taking his leave.  He's a charismatic young actor who fit his part comfortably.

The show is filled with hits you remember from the era and in between songs there are the obligatory radio ads and jingles for refrigerators, scented soap, and laxatives. One of the girls is sipping a Coca-Cola while singing a Pepsi commercial. By the time the entire cast is spread across the stage singing "Strike Up the Band," you simply don't want the show to end.

Overall, the show was simply filled with great cast members who fully embodied the characters they were playing while still putting their own style and spin on each one.  The Bill Causey band was an excellent choice for this production and I loved seeing my good friend Bill Allen on stage with his stand up bass!

Shreveport Little Theater is to be commended for a fun, outstanding production and regular theater patrons will hopefully excuse my ignorance of the original and previous productions of this show; theater reviews aren't my specialty but we enjoyed the show so much I simply hope to encourage you to go.

The show is running through November 15 and if you hurry you can probably still get tickets.  It might even get you into the Christmas spirit a little bit as the cast sings Jingle Bells and Pops places a little Christmas gift under his tree.

We look forward to returning to SLT for a few of their upcoming shows.  I have my eye on "Hot n Cole - A Cole Porter Celebration" coming up in February/March.

On Holding Our Noses to Vote in the Gubernatorial Election

What am I missing here?

In the Louisiana gubernatorial election coming up on November 21 many of my very conservative friends are voting for John Bel Edwards.  I generally consider myself pretty politically astute and so this mystifies me.  Why?

The only reason I am getting is that they can't stand Vitter and believe he is morally corrupt.

There may be more to it, but I'm mystified.

I don't love David Vitter; his voice grates on my nerves and I think he looks smug most of the time, but given a choice between him and John Bel Edwards, I have to go with Vitter.

As far as I can tell, both candidates appear to be the same on some issues:  both oppose same sex marriage although Edwards would allow it because it's the law.  Both oppose Common Core and are against abortion.  Both are pro-Second Amendment.

Where they differ: Edwards wants to raise the minimum wage (a move that I oppose) while Vitter thinks that would inhibit job creation.

Edwards supports medical marijuana, Vitter does not.

Edwards wants to expand Louisiana's Medicaid rolls, and Vitter, while willing to consider Medicaid expansion, wants to be sure the state can afford it.  He wants a clear plan and that those receiving the benefit are actually working.

Vitter and Edwards disagree on education: Edwards opposes charter schools and Vitter is for them.  I disagree with Vitter on this one.  This is my position on "school choice" and I know I'm probably not in the majority here: I think we already have school choice.  You don't like your neighborhood school, then you can go to a private school or move to another neighborhood.  Expensive?  Sure is.  My position is that we should work to improve the schools we have.  Elect strong school board members, work in the PTA, volunteer as a mentor in your school.  Support the bond issues that come up locally to improve your schools such as those to upgrade technology.  There are things we can do to improve local schools beyond government vouchers to pay for sending kids to out of district schools.

I know - I'm going to get blasted for that.  I know I differ from many of my conservative friends on that issue.

But the clincher for me is that John Bel Edwards supports Barack Obama and can be seen in the crowd endorsing him for president in the video below.  My opposition to Obama is well documented and I can't support Edwards based just on that if it comes down to nothing but that.

Add to the list that the liberal Edwards received a failing grade from The Louisiana Family Forum.

And this attack ad from Edwards?  Beyond the pale.

So, the remaining days until the election will certainly get ugly, but I hope we don't end up with a liberal Democrat at the end of the day.  That's the last thing we need in Louisiana.