Sunday, May 31, 2009


Among all the wonderful performances so far at the 13th Van Cliburn Internationional Competition taking place in Forth Worth is one I found particularly inspiring.

The 20-year-old blind Japanese pianist, Tsujii Nubuki, stole my heart with his preliminary round performance of the 12 Opus 10 etudes of Chopin, Images Book 1 of Debussy, and the Liszt Paganini Etude, La Campanella, a work requiring copious amounts of pianistic "sharpshooting." He made it to the semi-final round, and his second semi-final performance is later today. He played the Schumann Quintet last Friday as his first semi-final round performance.

In the midst of all the pyrotechics, he exposed his beautiful soul in the first of the Images, Reflets dans l'eau. If you don't have time for the entire performance, do stay with it through that one.

It's a bit of an effort to get there, but it's well worth it.
2. "Click here to launch webcast." At this point you may have to downloaded a video streaming plug-in, Silverlight, from Microsoft. Do take the time to do it.
3. At the botom left of the screen, click "Preliminary Archives"
4. At the bottom right of the screen, click the right arrow until Tsujii Numuki appears, then click on his photograph.

And while you're at it, take some time to find his performer portrait as well as admiring the wonderful technical feat the Cliburn people have accomplished with live streaming of the entire competition.
Update later in the day: I just finished watching his performance of Beethoven's Opus 106. I am speechless. This was exquisite, a rare moment in music. And he's only 20 years old. And blind. One does not expect artistry at this level from such young performers. And once again he exposed his soul to us in the most exquisite way possible, a blind man playing a work by a deaf composer. This is the triumph of the human spirit.
Update 2: He was selected as one of the 6 finalists.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Daily Humiliation of Robert Gibbs

Ana Marie Cox does it again.

I would suggest that Mr. Gibbs spend a few minutes at the Truman Library Website reading the Chronology of Desegration of the US Armed Forces. Here's just a snip. (HT/Pam's House Blend)

July 26, 1948: President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." The order also establishes the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services.

July 26, 1948: Army staff officers state anonymously to the press that Executive Order 9981 does not specifically forbid segregation in the Army.

July 27, 1948: Army Chief of Staff General Omar N. Bradley states that desegregation will come to the Army only when it becomes a fact in the rest of American society.

July 29, 1948: President Truman states in a press conference that the intent of Executive Order 9981 is to end segregation in the armed forces.

You Should Be Ashamed, Mr. President

I read about this yesterday on Towleroad and just can't get it out of my mind. It angered me yesterday, and the more I think about it the angrier I get.

This is what caught my eye:

"Shepard told The Advocate that she received the Obamas’ invitation on Monday...Upon arriving at the White House on Wednesday, Shepard first met with the president in the Oval Office. The meeting was short -- 'it was supposed to be 10 minutes, but his meeting beforehand ran long and I only had a minute or so with him' -- but it was long enough for Obama to assure Shepard that he was still a supporter of the hate-crimes bill named in honor of her son...."

Apparently Shepard has concerns that Harry Reid is going to attach the hate crimes bill to a DoD appropriations bill which she believes hurts its chances. She is urging people to call their Senators.

The context of all of this is the harsh criticism Obama has been receiving for what is beginning to look like his throwing his GLBT supporters under the bus. It is obvious to me that Obama simply used Judy Shepard to get the photograph above. Obviously he wasn't interested in discussing anything with her. He could easily have started what he was doing next a few minutes late, just as he was late to him appointment with Judy Shepard.

As much as I love and admire Judy Shepard, I can't stop wondering why Obama isn't talking to any GLBT people about what is supposedly going on. Why did he choose a straight person for this "meeting?" To my thinking, at least, he just wanted to use her and her reputation and her connection with a famous hate crime for a photo op.

Shame on you, Mr. President.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Obama MIA on Gay Issues

Pulitzer Prize winning Eugene Robinson can't help but notice that the self-described "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans" has gone missing in action.
From today's Washington Post ...

Believe it or not, often I can see the other side of an argument. I know that tough gun control laws save lives and make our communities safer, for example, but I also see clarity in the Second Amendment. I support affirmative action, but I realize that providing opportunity to some worthy individuals can mean denying opportunity to others. Thinking about some issues involves discerning among subtly graded shades of gray.

On some issues, though, I really don't see anything but black and white. Among them is the "question" of granting full equal rights to gay and lesbian Americans, which really isn't a question at all. It's a long-overdue imperative, one that the nation is finally beginning to acknowledge.

Before his inauguration, President Obama called himself a "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans." Now, with the same-sex marriage issue percolating in state after state and with the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy ripe for repeal, it's time for Obama to put some of his political capital where his rhetoric is.

Do not miss the rest of this article.

Friday, May 1, 2009