Tuesday, November 20, 2007


There are things to be thankful for this holiday season. Maybe they require thinking about, some searching for--but if we don't count our blessings every so often, they threaten to disappear when we're not looking.

Be thankful you are employed. Regardless of the supposedly improving unemployment figures (like you BELIEVE any of the numbers they're putting out in D.C. these days!), I am finding more and more people in my, er, age range with a lifetime's experience no longer employed in the jobs they trained their whole lives for and for which they are eminently qualified. I am happy to be back for a long-term assignment at a certain leading financial journal where, if the data is not up my alley, the professionalism and friendliness of co-workers is delightful.

Be thankful you are healthy. After nearly a MONTH of the flu and respiratory distress, I am finally on an even keel. This flu starts as a cold and then zaps you--chills, aches, fever, stomach distress. You don't want it--just avoid the x-million fellow New Yorkers who already have it and are willing to share.

Be thankful for friends and family. Yes, no man is an island, misery loves company, yadayadayada. But in truth, we ARE all in this thing together. Sometimes lending an ear to a friend is actually more of a "cure all" for you then whining about your own situation--there's something positive to be gained in being positive for someone else!

Be thankful for your imagination. Yes, that very creature that makes you neurotic and self-absorbed with fantasies of doom is also your salvation. Why not imagine something positive? It's just as easy as the opposite. And for those who are creative, the imagination engaged through art (writing, painting, performing) is a wonderful therapy, a way to work out all the frustrations that a currently out-of-whack world can provide. Creativity is not only the key to sanity, it is perhaps the only way to keep it.

Be thankful for dogs, cats, avocados, and chocolate. (Because really, how can you not be?!)

Be thankful that being a pampered neurotic is your worst problem! It could be much, much worse.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2007


Queen Latifah has created a pleasant follow-up to her "Dana Owens" album, another collection of pop, jazz & blue standards entitled TRAV'LIN' LIGHT. The Queen is somewhat omnipresent these days on screens big and small (not to mention her appearances on the concert stage, presuably promoting the album). Her warm, smart presence and honey-toned vocals are inspiring without the smug, self-righteousness displayed by some of the other major "icons" of the day. Sometimes, the parts are greater than the sum of the whole--not all facets of her talent easily fit together. While a sucessful rapper, a talented actress AND a easy, glossy singer, she is not always the most protean of performers. (For example, "I Know Where I've Been," an added bonus from the HAIRSPRAY soundtrack, shows that she is not a lead gospel singer likely to raise the room off the church. Her casting as Motormouth Maybelle in the film is great fun, and she has the commanding stature and presence for the role as an actress; yet her vocalization is not stirring and spine-tingling, and her voice doesn't rise above the chorus, remaining comfortably with the pack.) Yet on a cover of "Poetry Man," she shows great skill with an intimate Phoebe Snow classic, a silky wistfulness and a lightness of touch. "I Love Being Here with You" is a jazzy club number and shows her skills as a bouncy chanteuse, and "I'm Not in Love" shows her R&B influences. You could picture a really delightful evening in a jazz club: you and the Queen and 50-100 nicely dressed, smart and classy folks sipping drinks in sophisticated stemware. This may be just a pose, but vocally its a convincing one. (You want your guts ripped out, play Jennifer Hudson.) TRAV'LIN' LIGHT is an easy, enjoyable listen--but perhaps not a life-altering experience (not that it needs to be). It's the Queen having fun and inviting you along for the ride.