You Got to Accentuate the Negative

August 19, 2016

What will the most memorable  story to come out of the Rio Olympics?

Swimming superstar Michael Phelps, the all-time medal winning Olympics champion, ending his Olympics career with even more gold medals?

The gold medal winning athletes who tear up when their national anthems are played?

The sportsmanship displayed when winners and losers hug each other after a competition?

Or, some allegedly miscreant drunken American swimmers who are accused of causing a ruckus at a Rio gas station and charged with making up a story about being robbed at gunpoint?

Unfortunately, it appears it will be the latter, but maybe not. As many reporters have said a lot at the end of a story, only time will tell. How’s that for hedging?

 

Hopefully “Pete’s Dragon” and “Florence Foster Jenkin’s” are Positive Bellwethers

August 18, 2016

Maybe those two films signal that the summer drought of quality photoplays has ended. They are, in my view, both worth our time in a movie house.

“Florence” is for grown-ups and “Pete” is for everyone. I’ve already reviewed “Florence” glowingly,  so this is about “Pete.”

Not only is the computer generated lovable dragon named Elliot stunningly realistic in this live-action computer animated film , there is an engaging story. It’s  multi-level, both kids and adults can enjoy it. We certainly did.  It should end up making a lot of money and have a long movie life. It’s Disney at it’s best.

 

 

The Music is Back!

August 15, 2016
Professor of Music  Joseph Golden, University Organist, Director of External Relations and Director Opera, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University

Professor of Music Joseph Golden, University Organist, Director of External Relations and Director Opera, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University, at the Allen Theater Organ.

The summer music drought is over, and the Schwob School of Music kicked off its concert season Sunday with Dueling Organs.

We  enjoyed the classical opening session featuring Naples, Florida organist Dr. James Cochran at the Jordan Concert Organ playing duets with five local organists at the Allen Classic Organ. But, to be honest, we enjoyed the closing pop section with Professor Golden at the Allen Theater Organ even more.  I mean, how are you going to beat “Over the Rainbow,” “Embraceable You,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” Cabaret,” and “I Got Rhythm?”

The Allen electric  digital organ which is both a classic and theater organ, depending, I guess, on which button the organist presses. It was trucked in from Atlanta and set up on the stage of Legacy Hall. The million-dollar Jordan Pipe Organ is permanently installed.

The Allen, with its many speakers, sounds very much like a pipe organ.  The theatrical mode really stood out when it was used to provide the music for Charlie Chaplin’s 1916 silent comedy “The Rink.”  The big movie theaters of the silent movie era all had theater organs to supply the music and sound effects for the films.

Professor Golden improvised the score. His performance was truly impressive.

The Fox Theater in Atlanta still has its huge theater pipe organ,  as does the Rylander Theater in Americus. Those organs are almost a hundred years old, and they sound great.  Of course, they have had a little maintenance over the years.

 

“Florence Foster Jenkins” is Laugh-out-loud Hilarious and Sad

August 13, 2016

Critics aren’t being kind reviewing a movie that isn’t that doesn’t portray them as a kind lot.  When informed that  the review in Friday morning’s Ledger–Enquirer  panned “Florence Foster Jenkins,” I informed my informers that a critic’s review is simply one person’s subjective opinion.  I can judge for myself whether I enjoy a movie or not. I found the film very entertaining.  A friend who I ran into in the theater after the movie said he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I told him I did both. He admitted that he did, also.

Meryl Steep being in a movie is enough to get me in the theater. And she didn’t disappoint in this one about a wealthy Manhattan socialite who a 1944 New York Post critic called the “world’s worst singer.” Streep, Hugh Grant, and Simon Helberg all turn in the great performances.

Not only did I get caught up in the emotions of the film, I found the depiction of 1940s Manhattan very entertaining. I love really good period pieces, especially ones using a lot of antique autos.

Do I recommend it? Definitely.

Oh, and we enjoyed the recliner seats Carmike has recently installed in some of its theaters.

Whatever Happened to Ciivil Discourse?

August 3, 2016

Whereas, because they wanted their children to see democracy at work, many parents in the past wanted their young children to watch presidential campaign speeches,  but they now don’t. The uncivil behavior sets a poor example for their kids. That was one of the points made by the Rev. Ed Helton when he spoke to the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, Georgia.

Helton, a former Baptist minister who is now Director of the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, in making his case for civil discourse, cited the Unitarian Universalist 1st Principle,  which says that Unitarian Universalist affirm “the inherent worth and dignity of  every person .”

He said that people should treat one another with respect even when they disagree.

Since I mentioned the Principles that Unitarian Universalists affirm, I may as well give you all of the them.

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement in  spiritual growth in our congregations;

4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the Democratic process within our congregation and in society at large;

6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;

7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus is located at the end of Heiferhorn Way, which, heading north,  is the first left turn off Whitesville Road past the Williams Road intersection. Sunday services start at 10:40 a.m., and everyone is invited. Coffee,  snacks, and conversation are available before and after the service.

 

 

 

 

The Largely Unknown Story of How Georgia and Alabama Creeks were Shafted

July 12, 2016

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When William “Billy” Winn, Columbus historian and former journalist,  finished his presentation to Columbus Unitarian Universalists about his history about Creek Indian Removal from Georgia and Alabama, I asked him about the fact that very few people know anything about what really happened to Native Americans during that period. I told him I was taught almost nothing back in the 1930s and 1940s about Native American history in elementary and high  school.

image

He said, in effect,  that’s because those who profited most from Indian Removal didn’t want it taught or even talked about. It was a shameful episode. To make a long story short, Indians were forced off their tribal lands in order for white settlers to operate cotton plantations, which led to importation of  African American slaves to do the work. I won’t get into the details because there are many. However, you can get the whole story by reading Billy’s impressive history The Triumph of the Ecunnau-Nuxulgee: Land Speculators, George M. Troup, States Rights, and the Removal of the Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama, 1825 – 38.

Chatthoochee Valley Writers Conference Set for September

June 23, 2016

By Elaine Johnson

For ten years, the Chattahoochee Valley Writers has offered an annual writers conference. It’s inspired a lot of success!

T.K. Thorne was about to retire from the police force when she came to the conference years ago wanting to write. She entered the short story contest, sat in on the workshops, and went on from there to writing novels. Rev. Charles Cox retired from the ministry and went to a workshop on writing a memoir. He now is working on his fourth book of historical fiction and one of his articles, honoring his father,  is in the current issue of Georgia Forestry Today.  We think of writers working alone in an attic, but that just doesn’t happen. Every book and movie credits many people. The Chattahoochee Valley Writers Conference tries to offer support and guidance to writers at all levels.

Each of the past 10 writers conferences has been great, but this year’s promises a lot. Columbus native Billy Winn will deliver the keynote speech. Ty Manns, founder of CME films here in Columbus, will present a workshop on developing strong characters. Michael Bishop, an award-winning author from Pine Mountain, will discuss fantasy and science fiction. There will be workshops on memoir writing, teaching kids to write, translating intangible feelings into precise and powerful poetry, and reviewing what written success actually looks like. We will offer one-on- one mentoring from a book agent coming from NYC and a workshop on how to market books in the 21st Century.

So enter a poetry or short story contest, network with fellow members of the writing community, and get the guidance you need to take the next steps in your writing journey. The 10 th annual Chattahoochee Valley Writers Conference will be held Sept. 23 & 24. Go to www.chattwriters.org for more.

Elaine Johnson is President of Chattahoochee Valley Writers

Campaign 2016: What’s in a Name?

June 11, 2016

     Juliet:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

     By any other name would smell as sweet.”

     Romeo and Juliet (II,ii, 1-2)

Hillary Clinton is a “crook.” ” Donald Trump is a “fraud.”  ABC reporter Tom Llamas is a “sleaze.” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is an “idiot.” Donald Trump is a “jackass.” Bernie Sanders is a “communist.” Donald Trump i s a “pathological liar.” “Bernie Sanders is a “maniac.” Donald Trump is a “nutcase.”  Marco Rubio is a “clown.” Donald Trump is a “con artist.”

Those are just some samples of name-calling in the 2016 race for the White House.  While this election seems particularly notorious when it comes to name-calling, there have been some in our nation’s history that could rival it.

It started with our Founding Fathers.  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had hatchet men do their dirty work.  Among other things, John Adams was called a “fool.” “hypocrite,” “criminal,” “tyrant,”  and Jefferson was called a  “coward,” “weakling,” “atheist,” and “libertine.”

When Adams’ son John Quincy ran against Andrew Jackson in 1824, things really got ugly. Adams was called “pimp,” and Jackson’s wife was called “slut.”

So, name-calling in presidential elections is nothing new.  Too bad that sometimes it appears to work.  I’d really prefer to hear more from the candidates about the important issues facing the nation at this time and how they would deal with them.

 

Georgia Plays Auburn in Columbus and Almost Nobody Comes

May 15, 2016

About 40 spectators turned out for the historic game, historic because it’s the first time Georgia has played Auburn in Columbus since 1958. The Georgia-Auburn football classic was arguably the biggest sports and social event of the year in Columbus. (I thought it left Columbus because it outgrew Memorial Stadium, but a comment listed below says otherwise.*)

Georgia--Auburn Football Game,, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, 1895. The claissic switched to Columbus, GA in 1920, leaving in 1958 and now alternates between Aubiurn, AL and Athens, GA. They first started playing in 1892 in Atlanta.

Georgia–Auburn Football Game,, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, 1895. The claissic switched to Columbus, GA in 1920, leaving in 1958 and now alternates between Aubiurn, AL and Athens, GA. They first started playing in 1892 in Atlanta.

There was a major difference in the 1958 and 2016 game,  college football and college Ultimate Frisbee. Columbus media ignored the USA Ultimate league’s Southeast Regional Tournament that was held April 30th — May  1s  at the Woodruff Farm Soccer complex in Columbus.  There were sixteen teams from major Southeast universities, including Georgia Tech. 
Georgia beat Auburn in the final game and, along with 2nd Place Florida State and 3rd Place Auburn,  goes to the National Championship Tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina May 27th through 30th. ESPN3 does stream the championship games. 
The only reason I knew about the Columbus tournament is that Georgia’s star player Parker Bray is the grandson of my friend Julie Bray. We were among the very few who saw him make some spectacular plays in the Alabama and LSU games. (I didn’t make the Auburn game.) 
Perhaps media ignored the event because Ultimate Frisbee is a stepchild (club) college sport. The teams pay most of their expenses.  I enjoyed the games because I’m into  lifelong learning.  Like most folks, I knew almost nothing about Ultimate Frisbee. Now I know that a team scores when a player catches a disc in the opposing team’s end zone. It’s billed as non-contact sport, but Parker ended up in a hospital for more than a week after one game. When two fast and strong young men are racing to catch a disc, collisions will happen. A  player can’t throw a disc while moving, but must pass it within 10 seconds. There are no referees in college Frisbee. The honor system is used. A game is over in an hour and a half, or when one team scores 15 points first. It’s fast and fun to watch. The players are amazingly accurate when they throw those floating discs, and it’s not unusual for them to make diving catches.
It appeared that Georgia and Auburn had the largest groups of spectators. (I saw no spectators at a Georgia Tech game.) Auburn even had a ‘band!” Well, actually, one trombonist who played the National Anthem before their games. For the championship game, the Georgia team also sang “Amazing Grace.” Really.   The teams are very spirited and do their own cheers after scoring a point. One of the Jojah – that’s the logo name of the Georgia team- cheers is “Jojah, Jojah” followed by barking like a bulldog four times. Those kids have fun and it’s fun to watch them.    
There is also a women’s division. Maybe we can get their Southeast Regional Tournament next year. 
*When I ran a post on the Georgia-Auburn football classic in 2012, I recevied this comment on the reason the game was moved in 1958. I had always heard it was because the crowds outgrew Memorial Stadium, but I got this comment that says otherwise.
Jesse C. Gordon III Says:
Nice commentary, but the reason the series was mover to home and away was Auburn wanted another home game.Columbus(my Grandfather,Auburn graduate, was involved in the politics of the situation at the time) offered to expand Columbus Memorial up to 70,000 capacity. Auburn said no.And that is the long and the short of why the series went to home and away. In 1959 Neither Auburn nor Georgia seated more than the 35,000 Memorial Stadium held.Somewhere in city hall one may find the plans submitted showing an expanded Columbus Memorial with a complete second tier, still horseshoe shaped.Would have been the 2nd. largest stadium in the South behind old Tulane Stadium.

*

 

The Move South

April 2, 2016

TEXAS AND FLORIDA NOW HAVE LARGER POPULATIONS THAN NEW YORK.

No doubt it’s mostly a generational thing that I only sample American Idol. A lot of the singing is way too much over the emotional top for my tastes, and much of it sounds like tortured yelling to me. However, I do sample the program, and I did watch it more when it would feature a night of standards from the Great American Songbook. That’s was when I could really tell whether which of the  kids could actually sing, and some definitely could, in my view.

The thing I noticed most when I sampled it this week is that all four of the finalist are from the South. (As you probably know, the winners are finally determined by viewer voting.) That could mean that it really doesn’t matter from which section of the country a contestant comes, and there is reason to believe that is now the case. However, it is interesting to note that the South is now the most populous section of the United States. A Google search reveals there are now more than 114-million people living in the American South.  California is the most populous state; however, Texas and Florida now come in second and third, both ahead of New York. My own state of Georgia is now 8th in population.

A check of internal  migration in the United  States shows that up until 1861, when the Civil War started,  the move was from the east coast to the west. From 1861 to 1929, when the Great depression started,  from rural areas to cities in the North and South. From 1929 to 2009 generally from the Northeast to the South and West.

No doubt there are a number of reasons for the population shifts; however, weather certainly has to be at or near the top. Northerners fleeing the cold simply could not take the long hot summers of the South. That changed with  the advent of air conditioning. So, probably the number one reason for the shift to the South is the advent of air conditioning.

 


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