Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blog Intermission no. 23 - Time goes ... where?

Judith Viorst is an American author who has written many books for children and adults - fiction and non-fiction, as well as books of poetry.  She is also a newspaper journalist, a playwright and psychoanalysis researcher.  She was born in New Jersey on the same day as my husband, February 2nd (Ground Hog Day) but several years before him - she was born in 1931.  Below is her poem "As Time Goes By" which describes well how quickly time passes.  In French the word "time" is "temps" - which also means the weather by the way.  (The 1890s illustration above is by Henri Boutet, French 1851-1919.)

Painting by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Italian 1290-1348

As Time Goes By

I wake up on Monday,
Eat lunch on Wednesday,
Go to sleep on Friday
And next thing I know it's
The middle of next week

And I am shaking mothballs
Out of the winter clothes
I stored for the summer
Five minutes ago.

Because snowstorms follow
The Fourth of July
Faster than faxes,
Faster than e-mail,
Faster, maybe, than the speed of light.

You want to slow down time ?
Try root canal.
Try an MRI.
Try waiting for the report on the biopsy.

Or try being a child on a rainy morning
With nothing to do,
Wishing away the hours, the days, the years,

As if there will
Be more.

- Judith Viorst

1931 painting by Salvador Dali, Spanish 1904-1989


Note:  Post pre-programmed.  After five years of blogging I am placing this blog in a holding pattern - this blog is on "spring break" (en pause de printemps.)  It is a known fact that, as we get older, time accelerates, at least it appears to go by faster and faster.  Too many tasks have accumulated - spring cleaning, memory cards to be downloaded, books to sort and many given away, trips to be planned, flowers and herbs to be planted into pots, music to listen to and so much more - busy, busy ...  In several weeks this blog will come back.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cher in Concert in Nashville - Part 2

This is the continuation of my post of April 15, 2014.  As the Cher Dressed to Kill Concert started there was a montage of video clips on a large screen on the stage.  In addition two large television screens were hanging up on each side of the stage, also zooming the scene from the stage.  When the curtain dropped, Cher, wearing an elaborate peacock inspired feather headpiece, was standing on a giant pedestal and started singing "Woman World" from her latest CD.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

She sang a second song "Strong enough" without her headpiece.  I took pictures with my new small Nikon Coolpix S9700 - it has a wide angle lens and a 30X zoom.  I tried to take some videos with it, for the first time, but I moved the camera too much, only a small video is acceptable and I'll show it later (if I can figure out how to do it.)  But the 30X zoom worked very well as you can see from the close-ups below.  The picture in the center is from the video screen above the stage.

It is hard to sum up a two hour show with singing, dancing, acrobats, video clips and more.  It was not a concert really.  It was a spectacle as performed in Las Vegas.  Cher sang 19 of her hits and changed outfit ten times with assorted wigs.  It was an electric atmosphere with people standing, jumping, clapping and making noise between sets - a non-stop sensory show.  I had never seen anything like it.  She sang "I Got You Babe" in front of a video feed of Sonny Bono, her late ex-husband.  It was very touching.  Then it was a circus style stage where she appeared as a gypsy in a colorful dress, all the while smoke, lights and dancers were moving all around her.

For her song "Half Breed" number she appeared in a glamorous native Indian costume complete with floor-length headdress around a nude body stocking - a great visual effect.

In between sets there were video montages illustrating her life and performance both on the screen and on the stage.  Next came the number for the song "Welcome to Burlesque" but this was my favorite, so I'll show it at the end.  A dramatic set, with bonfires and drums was next.  Aerial acrobats performed high over the stage.

A giant gilded Trojan horse was pulled to the stage.  Cher emerged from the horse wearing a gold mini dress aka gladiator armor with blonde curls gushing all around her head and singing "Take it Like a Man."

Next came a salute to Elvis Presley in a video clip showing Cher as a child, in an Elvis-like costume, and going with her mother to an Elvis concert.  Cher then emerged on the stage wearing a black jumpsuit and singing "Walking in Memphis" with gospel style sounds in the background.

The audience stood up to watch Cher wearing an outlandish biker leather jacket, thigh-high boots and a sheer body stocking, looking like a reincarnation of her 1989 video.

In her penultimate number she burst on the stage wearing a very revealing outfit - a dress made of diamond-encrusted fringes over a nude colored body suit complete with nipple pasties.  She let the audience sing along her hit "Believe" with her and her backup singers. I took a small video and will try to place it on this post, below.


In between numbers she would talk to the crowd, entertaining them with stories - such as the time she was almost arrested in Nashville, and the crowd loved it.  For her last number she appeared on a platform, similar to a religious figure with her circular gold headpiece, strapped into a harness that slowly went up and glided over the arena as she was singing "I hope You Find It."  The audience was standing and most were taking photos with cell phones, cameras, and videos.  It was quite the theatrical gesture and very "Cher" - her fans cheered widly.

Along the years I have attended numerous live shows - the last ones were operas and jazz concerts.  I also attended symphonies and tango shows in Paris.  Years ago I saw live concerts in Paris too - Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour and Georges Brassens.  But I can't recall a show like this one.  Even the Joan Baez or Bob Dylan concerts I attended were more reserved, and the Monterey Pop Festival of June 1967 now seems so sedate.  This is not the type of shows I usually go and see but I found it quite fascinating.  This Cher concert was a non-stop sensory feast and a two-hour extravaganza.

Her contralto voice sounded better than on her CDs.  Cher is certainly a professional performer with great talent and a strong presence.  She appears to have found the secrets to eternal youth - her voice and looks seem frozen in time.  It had been a fast-paced, colorful and fabulous performance.  As we were leaving the arena I could hear fans exclaiming with enthusiasm at how fantastic, amazing and awesome the show had been - more adjectives than I can remember.  It certainly had been lavish, fast paced and camp.  We were energized as we went back to the parking area, passing numerous limousines.

I almost forgot my favorite piece, which was the "Welcome to Burlesque" number.  I don't know why I preferred it - maybe because the tune is catchy, and the backup musicians have the right sound, or maybe because as I was growing up we lived close to the naughty Pigalle area of Paris and Cher wearing a corset and pink satin-lined jacket among scantily clad dancers remind me of France.  As a teenager my parents took me along several times to the Folies Bergeres and the Moulin Rouge when they were entertaining friends from out of town or cousins from Egypt and Syria.  I did not make a video this time, but Steven Hannah of Nashville made a good one.

 Show a little more, show a little less
Add a little smoke, welcome to Burlesque
Everything you dream of but never can possess
Nothing's what it seems, welcome to Burlesque

Oh, everyone who's buying, put your money in my hand
If you got a little extra, oh well, give it to the band ...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cher in concert in Nashville - part 1

First I would like to thank all my blogging friends who visited my last post on my 5th year anniversary of blogging.  I appreciate your comments - I do not answer each comment on my blog because I rather spend the time going to your blogs and read your posts.  I know that "virtual" friendship is not the same as traditional friendship and that it takes commitment and time to stay connected so I am very appreciative of your visit.  This is an eclectic blog - it is easy with a virtual friendship, when one reads a remark not to our liking, to click to the next blog, so I am pleased that many of you have kept reading my blog and I am grateful.  The 5th year anniversary of my blog coincides with my birthday.  It was for my birthday in 2009 that we visited our eldest daughter in California where she helped me create this blog.  This year, for my birthday which is March 26, our youngest daughter bought, as a birthday present, tickets for the March 31st Cher Concert  "Dressed to Kill Tour 2014" in Nashville.  Below is the poster for the Concert.

So we drove to Nashville, Tennessee, and first we enjoyed the birthday cake ...

Then on Monday March 31, 2014, my daughter, husband and I drove to the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville.  On the way there, while she was driving down Broadway, I took photos from the car window.  We passed the historic Union Station, opened in 1900 and now a hotel.  Then we passed by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts which is housed in the historic US Post Office, opened in 1930 to serve as Nashville main post office.  Finally we drove by a massive building - the historic Customs House and old post office built in 1898.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

As my daughter was driving it was difficult to take the whole buildings, I was only able to take snippets of them.  Below are vintage postcards of the same buildings.

It was a lovely evening, warm with a beautiful sky.  You can see the roof of the arena below.

There is a large indoor trade show area around the arena.  My daughter (below in the white dress) waited to buy some water and we stopped to look at the Cher souvenir booth.

I remember watching the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour on television in the early 1970s - Cher already wore outrageous costumes.  I found out then that, just like me, Cher is half Armenian - her father, Garabed Sarkisian, was the son of Armenian immigrants.  She was born Cherilyn Sarkisian on May 20, 1946.  Actually my Armenian childhood friend in Paris looks a lot like her but not so tall.  The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, a variety show, was broadcasted from 1971 until they divorced in 1974.

In an interview, an Armenian reporter from Massachusetts said to Cher "Eench bes es?" which means "how are you?" (one of the few Armenian expressions I know.)  He was totally amazed when she answered in fluid Armenian.  Her large Armenian father family in Fresno, California, taught her the language and the cuisine.  She likes Armenian food and can cook specialties like "kufta" and "sarma."  Below, as a blonde, Cher is interviewed by Lusine Shahbazyan for US-Armenia TV. (Photo courtesy US-Armenia TV.)

Cher did travel to Armenia on a humanitarian mission - she was surprised to find that many women looked a bit like her - I think she was her natural brunette then.  My father had cousins named Sarkisian, but then many Armenians say that they are all "cousins" as they believe they are related through ethnicity.  The country of Armenia has less than 3 million inhabitants, which is less than Metro Atlanta, Georgia, with over 5 millions.  Below is the map of Armenia - I made a circle around it, below Georgia and adjacent to Turkey.

Cher has been a red head, platinum blonde and uses many wigs.  I like her in the 2014 photo below, on the right.  It is hard to believe that on May 20, 2014 she will be 68 years old - she seems ageless.

In addition to philanthropy in Armenia she has been involved in anti-poverty initiatives, veteran rights and charities, and Habitat for Humanity.  She actively support children with craniofacial conditions and is the National Spokesperson for the association CCA.  She supports the Peace Village School in Kenya and many other charitable programs.  Cher has been in the public eye since the late 1960s.  She has been successful on television, on Broadway (with Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean) in the movies, with an Oscar for Moonstruck and as an exercise video guru.  She also sold her line of perfume and skin-care products and diet guides.  Between 2002 and 2005 she performed a record-breaking 325 concerts for her "Farewell Tour" - which was not a farewell tour after all.  She is the only recording artist to have a No. 1 hit in every one of the past six decades.  She has sold more than 100 million records and her latest 25th studio album "Closer to the Truth" was sent to each person upon the purchase of a ticket to attend her 2014 Dressed to Kill Tour - here is mine below.

My daughter had purchased good seats, on the side, not too far from the stage.  It looked like the Nashville Bridgestone arena was full - as a stage concert hall it can seat about 20,000 people.  All the cities on the Tour so far have been sold out.  The Dressed to Kill Tour or "The D2K Tour" (named after a song in her latest CD) started in March in Phoenix, Arizona, and is stopping in 50 cities across the US and Canada.  The show opened with Pat Benatar and her husband, guitarist and pianist Neil Giraldo.  It is their 35th anniversary tour and celebration of their 32nd wedding anniversary.

Benatar and Giraldo went through some of their 1980s classic rocks with a high-energy sound.  The crowd loved the two performers - Giraldo, playing his guitar in the Jimi Hendrix style, went well with the four-time Grammy Award winner Pat Benatar's strong and crisp voice.

After this first hour of hard-driving rock we waited for Cher.  It was fun looking around at the audience which was a diverse group of all ages.  Some were wearing Cher-type outfits - sequined, feathered, etc.  There was a large gay audience as well.  I was surprised to see teenagers next to seniors older than me.  When Cher show started many on the ground floor stood up, and stayed standing up - I was happy we were seating on the side with a perfect view of the stage.

This post is becoming too long, so I'll finish it next time.  More to come ...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Five years of blogging ... already

Last Sunday, March 30, 2014, was the fifth year anniversary of my blog.  I published my first post on March 30th, 2009.  First, I had written an Introduction then the post which was called "Rancho Los Cerritos."  This post was short, just two paragraphs and one collage.  I received 4 comments on this first post.  Rancho Los Cerritos was close to our daughter's condo.  Here are some more photos I took that day and did not publish.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

At the time I wrote that I wished my two little grandsons could read about my past and now I have 4 grand children!  Now I also publish more pictures in my posts.  Unfortunately I have noticed that many of my pictures have been copied without my consent, some are even being sold as computer screen backdrops, and so I try to mark some with my name.  I really enjoy working with my photos, and that is this love of pictures, painting and postcards which partly started me in blogland.  This past year we visited our eldest daughter, who had moved from Long Beach, California, to Memphis, Tennessee.  We accompanied her to Jackson, Mississippi, on a business trip.  There we visited the house of Pulitzer Prize author Eudora Welty (1909-2001.)  Ms. Welty lived in this house for close to 80 years.  I'll have a post on it in the future, but for now I wish to show you some of Eudora's quotations which echo my feelings.

During my last few years at work I was transferred to a different department in a large building with no windows.  I would come about half an hour before work and drink a cup of coffee while looking at pictures on my computer.  I found a site showing a new photo daily - and this would start my day with a beautiful image.  The site had many different sections, such as landscape, animals, flowers, cities, etc.  They could be downloaded.  The site was called Webshots.  It still exists but has been sold.  Here are some of the pictures I watched, in 2006.

Looking for French pictures on the computer during lunch I had found a site by a man called Jean, who had a "Blog" called "Le Blog de Jean Couleurs."  (I think he stopped the blog in 2010.)  He published one picture on each post usually with little or no text.  Below are some of the pictures I saw on his blog in early 2006.  I printed the photo of the garden gate and placed in on the file cabinet facing my computer so I could look at it and imagine that I would walk through that door into a romantic garden.

At about that time, April 2006, I read an article in the New York Times, under Retirement, about "Elderbloggers."  You can read it here.  That is when I started to look at blogs.  In the fall of 2006 my daughter had also started a family blog.  When we visited her in Long Beach in March 2009 to celebrate my birthday, she persuaded me to start my own blog and helped me create one.  We called it "Recollections of a Vagabonde."  By May 2009, I had three followers already, who still read my blog today.  I thank them heartily for having been reading my posts for these last five years.  Thank you Elaine of Arctic View ,  Friko of Friko's World and Djan of Djan-ity .  I appreciate your friendship.  Now I won't show pictures taken these last five years, as this post would last 10 pages or more, but I have picked some photos from this last year of blogging, since March 2013.  Some of these images were in posts, some not yet.  These below are from last spring.

After a long winter spring flowers are always an exciting sight.

This past year I was able to photograph a variety of subjects, including animals.  In March 2013 I took a picture of our new little kitten, Mitsuko, a Korat female, who was about 2 months old then.

During the course of the year I was able to photograph more animals.  Don't forget to click on pictures to see better.

In May 2013 we welcomed our latest grandchild, a little girl (after 3 grandsons.)  I had been busy knitting baby blankets.

Then when we came back to Georgia we drove to New Echota, the former capital of the Cherokee Nation and attended the service commemorating the 175th anniversary of the Cherokee Trail of Tears.

In 2013 we visited three of my favorite cities - San Francisco, New Orleans and New York.  In June it was San Francisco (I still have several posts coming relating to that visit.)

We also visited some interesting museums and exhibitions during the year.

We ate some delicious meals.  I made up a new cake recipe - an upside down fresh fig cake.

This last year of blogging I took so many pictures again that it is hard to choose which ones to show here - birds, or cats, or interesting shots or scenery - the selection is large indeed.

We rode the train they call The City of New Orleans and loved it - more posts on New Orleans will be coming up.

In New Orleans, Memphis and other towns, we stopped to listen to musicians.

We also stopped to look at flowers and read meaningful quotations.

Our warmest day might have been in Key West, Florida or the Bahamas.

Our coldest was in New York City - but it was warm in the Public Library.

It was cold one day only for us in New York, and then the weather was temperate for the rest of our stay.

This last blogging year saw much activities and beautiful images.  I still have many photos that are not downloaded.  It has been a pleasure to share my pictures here on my blog.  I thought that once I retired I would not meet many people, but with this blog I have met and become friends with many talented, kind and interesting people from all over the USA and many parts of the world.  Some I have met in person such as Naomi in Hollywood, California of the blog Here in the Hills and others several times, such as Frances in New York of the blog City Views, Country Dreams .  We even went all the way to Oslo, Norway, to attend a Blog Gathering!  I know that I now look at the world with a keener eye, looking for the right picture and trying to absorb all the information so I can share it on my blog - the picture can be of an attractive person, or appealing color combination.

The picture can be of a glamorous bird or just an old pot in a window,

or it can be a photo taken from the wall of a local historic railway station,

or just a gorgeous sunset on the Mississippi River.

My life has certainly been enriched by this blog.  I have learned so much from all the creative bloggers I read.  I wish to say a heartfelt "Thank You" and "Merci" to all my readers.  I appreciate that they have taken some of their precious time to leave a comment and I also appreciate the readers who just look at my pictures.  These five years of blogging have gone by very quickly and I'm looking forward to many more.

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