Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"World on Fire" music video worth seeing

A colleague just sent me an amazing music video link -- from Sarah McLachlan's Afterglow album:  "World on  Fire."

It's worth sitting through the 30-second commercial -- (smooth irony in the fact that this particular video opens with a commercial) -- in order to see the video.

The music video juxtaposes the value of the money spent to make the video with the value of what the money can do in the Third World.  If you long for social justice in the world -- take a look at "World on Fire."

Kudos also to Warren Buffett for his decision to join Melinda and Bill Gates -- increasing the power of their philanthropy.

Critics say that his actions may "energize the nonprofit sector and possibly spawn a new wave of philanthropy."

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Over the last three months, I've been working on the screenplay for a short film (25 minutes) that I intend to direct:  Goldfish.  Three former students have helped me create the story.

The film's logline:  A young woman risks her academic future by confronting her father with a choice he made when she was a child.

The completed first draft will be in my producer's hands by Friday.

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During the next few weeks, I will be living in San Diego, working with Myron Fink, the superb composer collaborating with me on the new American opera:  Bloody Ground

The play itself is actually written.  I did that over spring break in March.  Now, all I have to do -- as Hitchcock once said -- is add the dialogue.

Myron and his wife Bonnie have become dear friends of mine.  Myron and I have been working on this story since July 2003, when I finished the staged reading of Tale.

From July 1 - 15, Myron and I will eat, drink, and walk to the story of Thomas Jefferson's nephew Lilburne Lewis, who killed his wife's personal slave in a maddened rage on December 15, 1811.

The question haunting us is not whether or not Lewis did the crime.  That's an historical fact, along with the earthquake in Smithtown, KY, predicted by the great Indian Chief, Tecumseh, that interrupted it.

The real issue is this:  what drove Lilburne Lewis to commit such an horrific crime?

And that's the question our story answers.

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During the last part of July, I will be applying to film schools (to begin my studies in the fall of 2007), and submitting my tax forms.  Yes, I know.  I should have done it in April.  But that extension is so easy to get, and I'm so busy with school in April, and blah, blah, blah.

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On July 30, I will fly to Stark County, OH, to direct a staged reading of Bloody Ground, in one of the local theatres.  Dick Gotschall is producer -- Amanda Swinehart is stage manager.

Auditions:  August 1 - 3.  Evening rehearsals:  August 4 - 9.  Three performances:  August 10 - 12.

To do this, I intend to use the same company members I used to produce the staged reading of A Tale of Two Cities at the Canton Players Guild in July 2003.

Goal:  to have a completed, workable libretto at the end of the staged reading.  Then Myron can get to work

Oh, yes.  Chances are good that a certain Stark County Native, who has made a name for himself as an opera performer in Europe, will be previewing one of the songs from the opera on either Friday or Saturday's performance.  In addition, there will be a Gala before that show.  More details to follow.

A second staged reading is being planned for Los Angeles in the fall.

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In between the reading and the beginning of school, I'm planning to take a much-needed vacation.

How does that line go?  All work and no play makes Steve a dull boy.  Something like that.  Any ideas for a destination?  Someone suggested the Caribbean.

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I received a thoughtful response to my comments about Al Gore's film on global warming:  An Inconvenient Truth.  Since my reader is a scientist and businessman whom I deeply respect, I took the time to click on the links he sent me.  They were thought-provoking -- so I've included the letter and the links below, with the writer's permission.

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I think you may be a little premature in your enthusiasm for Al Gore's movie. The whole global warming concept is not a settled issue in the scientific world.
Several highly prestigious climatologists feel the idea is incorrect, but several other well known climatologists think it is correct.  As reported in the Wall Street Journal, a recent convention on the climate has scientists uncharacteristically at each other's throats -- intellectually speaking (02/18/06 - The Politically Incorrect Science Fair).
Al Gore is a politician and like most politicians that are on the outs, he wants a political comeback. I know that he presents this movie as being free from politics, however, anyone will tell you that Democrats are stronger on "global warming" than Republicans (see attached article on Al Gore and his future plans from the Wall Street Journal). 
I disagree that this is a great lecture by a great teacher. It may be effective but I think he commits the worst sin of a teacher -- that of dishonesty:  Presenting his opinions as facts by not including all the data, and misrepresenting the data he does present.  Any teacher of skill knows how this can be done. The result is that the "students" feel they have "learned The Truth," when in fact they have been exposed to skilled propaganda.
I spent some time researching this area because I was teaching it and I wanted to know the truth.  What I found out is that there are no real scientific facts that you can count on.
This is a very political issue, and people tend to be very emotional about it, thinking you are either a good or bad person depending on what you "believe" about global warming.  Even if you say it is unsettled, you are somehow a bad guy.  Regardless of how anyone feels emotionally, the facts are the facts and science is science and so far there is no real conclusion.
You can read in the newspaper about how this prestigious scientific body has determined conclusively that global warming is a fact only to read in a month how another equally prestigious scientific body has determined just the opposite.
There are politics in science just as there are in any profession, but this is still in the debate stage in the scientific community, and the evidence is not sufficient to change this hypothesis of global warming into a theory, much less a Law.  This is something that needs to be faced and reported accurately by both sides.
In short, it is a hypothesis that is unproven.  It might be correct, or it might be dead wrong.  But to say, as Al Gore does, that it is proven, is to mislead the gullible.
There is a lot of junk and misleading articles on the internet both for and against global warming.  Here are a few links to articles on global warming by reputable scientists (or about them) that will give some balance on this issue.  I have also referenced an article on Al Gore and his 2008 intentions.
If you go through the links I've included below, you will see that this is not a settled issue, and that Gore is oversimplifying and presenting only one side.  
Al Gore might be right, but "might" is not Science. 
http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen.htm  (see the "publications", and "other publications" links)
I recently saw an BBC interview with Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize physicist. He made the comment that because of the success of science we now have many pseudo-sciences and "authorities" who claim to be giving us irrefutable facts just as scientists do.
But these facts have not been subjected to the same rigorous methods that true scientists use, and many people are being misled. This was back in the 1980's. Interesting and relevant to what we see today, not just with Al Gore and not just with one political party.
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Hi.  My name's Steve.  I'm a high school teacher.
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Yes, it's true.  After teaching seventh grade for five years, I'm headed back to teaching high school.  And I'm reading a stack of books to prepare for my new teaching schedule this fall:  four preps, as opposed to the one I've had for the past five years. 
The really good news -- and no one seems surprised at this -- is that teaching high school fits me.
But in order to be thoroughly prepared for the fall (AP Lit is one of my classes) teaching schedule, I'm reading several hours per day -- both primary and secondary sources.  It's a pleasure, and it gets my head out of my own writing -- clearing the palette, as a wine connoisseur would say. 
I'm diving into books I haven't touched for years, and some that I've never read:  King Lear and Othello (Shakespeare), The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway), The Bluest Eye (Morrison), Frankenstein (Shelley), The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Joyce), Midiq Alley (Mahfouz), Wit (Edson), The Bell Jar and Ariel (Plath), Sense and Sensibility and Emma (Austen), Introduction to Poetry (Ed. DeRouche), and A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens).
Yeah.  I don't think I'll be lacking for reading material this summer.
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Last Thursday, I saw the dress rehearsal of the Charlens Repertory Company's Hamlet.  A friend of mine, Chuck Harlander, played Laertes in Al Charlens' minimalist production.
I'm eager to see what they do with King Lear (I'm seeing the invited dress this Thursday evening) -- especially since I'm teaching it this year (Al Charlens is playing Lear).
I'm not going to review the show here -- the LA Weekly took care of that.  Check it out.  Dorie Stage at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 3. (818) 357-7754.

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