A Great Bunch of Ideas and Many Thanks!

Thanks to all who responded to my plea for some fresh ideas for a weekly feature!  Many cautioned that perhaps I am trying to do too much, and to remember to take time for myself lest I burn out, and these are certainly things I sometimes fail to consider.  But overall, I am happy with what I do, and the weekly features that let me step back from politics into a brighter arena are, in part, what keeps me sane (if it can be said that I AM sane, which some might argue against). If I do a new Saturday feature, it wouldn’t be an addition, but would replace whatever socio-political article I would otherwise write, so really, no extra work involved!

You guys all had some really great ideas!  Music was mentioned at least twice, from JB’s thought of ”videos of different music, maybe some new bands/artist or some old favorites,” to Kertsen’s thoughts of “commenting on some famous song lyrics especially those protest songs that are always around.”  Colette suggested more of a collaborative effort, combining guest blogs with theme weeks, and she suggested some really fun themes!  Emily had the idea of “Snapshot Saturday where you post the most unusual thing you read or saw during the week.”  All great ideas, so I was pondering when …

My friend Bushka came up with the winning idea that lets me combine all of the above!  “How about… ‘Saturday Surprise’! This will give you a tremendous opportunity to respond to ‘occurrences’ that so often slip through your daily life…Opens you up to plenty of options….. ONE PROVISO…… NO POLITICS!!!!  Don’t you love it?  I do!  It gives me unlimited lattitude, yet keeps me out of the rabbit hole on Saturday mornings … or afternoons – I haven’t yet decided which.  And I can have tons of fun using the ideas that ALL of you have given me!

So, Saturday Surprise it will be!  It will not begin this Saturday, but likely next Saturday, as I need to do some thinking yet.  I hope this one will be fun for us all.  And many, many thanks to you all for your help and really great suggestions!

Hugh and Colette also expressed interest in posts about things that are being done to protect the environment, and I DO plan to do more along those lines, just probably not as a scheduled feature, since anything that pertains to the environment will almost certainly lead into the political arena.  But stay tuned … in fact I am working on one now for tomorrow morning!

On another note, I am working with an old friend on a piece that I will probably publish next Tuesday or Wednesday. The friend, to whom I promised anonymity, is a republican.  He is also an extremely intelligent man whom I have known for about 20 years and worked with for more than 10 of those 20.  Although he and I disagree on political ideology, we are both mature and respectful in our disagreement, and most importantly, we listen to one another.

My idea started when I asked him if he would be willing to answer a set of questions I compiled, in order to explain his reason for supporting Donald Trump and his policies, in light of everything that Trump has done or said.  I explained that my goal … my only goal … was to try to gain an understanding, to find some common ground, and that I trusted him to give me actual answers, rather than the standard “because he’s a great businessman” or “because he’s going to ‘make America great’ again”.  My friend agreed readily and said he had been thinking about asking me to do the same.  Which expanded my idea for the post, and I think it will be interesting to get an honest view from both sides of the proverbial aisle.  He is on vacation at the moment, but we plan to collaborate this weekend and I hope to have this post ready to go by the middle of next week.

So, thank you all once again, and I hope we will all have fun with Saturday Surprise!

Music and Politics Meet Once Again

Eurovision is touted as being like the Oscars, Grammys, Tony Awards, “American Idol,” “The X Factor” and “America’s Got Talent” all rolled into one — and then tripled.  Almost 200 million watched last year (even more than the Super Bowl!) from dozens of countries, and this year there were watch parties held everywhere from London to New York.  Eurovision is an annual song contest featuring singers from eligible countries that are members of the European Broadcasting Union.  It is, obviously, a big deal. Celine Dion actually started her now-famous career when she won in 1988 for Switzerland with the song “Ne partez pas sans moi” (Do not go without me).  Predictably, there are sometimes political conflicts that flow over into this entertainment event, such as in 2003 when the UK’s standing on the Iraq war may have contributed to a low score for the UK’s entry, Jemini.

This year’s Eurovision was held May 10th thru May 14th in Stockholm, Sweden.  The winner was Ukraine, which is where this story is leading.  I already mentioned that it can sometimes get political, right?  Well, Russia is apparently quite angry about the Ukraine winning and is threatening to boycott next year’s event!  Now I know you must be shocked to find that Vladimir Putin would lower himself to such levels of pettiness …

Apparently there is a two-fold reason for Russia’s anger.  First, Russia fully expected their singer, Sergei Lazarev, to win, but instead he finished third.  And then there was the song itself.  This year, organizers requested that contestants refrain from getting political with their song choices.  But Ukrainian Jamala, the Crimean Tatar jazz singer won with a ballad about the 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars. Given the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine over the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine’s choice of song and Russia’s ire are both understandable.  In some ways, the whole thing is reminiscent of the controversy over the Grammy’s in the U.S. this year.

JamalaJamala, whose real name is Susana Jamaladynova, pleaded for “peace and love” as she collected her award on Saturday night. She admitted her song was highly politically charged in an interview with the Guardian the day before the contest. She has not been home to Crimea in nearly two years, saying she fears arrest, but most of her family still live there, and she said that although her song was inspired by the events of 1944*, it was also about more recent tragedies. (Walker, The Guardian, 15 May 2016)

Eurovision changed the method of judging this year.  I won’t even attempt to explain the old vs. the new methods, but under the old method, Australia would have won 1st place, with Ukraine 2nd and Russia 3rd. Some comments from Russian officials were:

  • “This is partly a consequence of the propaganda war of information that is being waged against Russia. There is a general demonisation of Russia – that we are all evil, that our athletes are doping, that our planes violate airspace.” (Russian MP Elena Drapeko)
  • “Music lost, because victory clearly did not go to the best song, and the contest lost because political attitudes prevailed over fair competition.” (Foreign policy official, Konstantin Kosachev)


It is a sad commentary of the day when entertainment events, such as Eurovision, the Grammy’s and the Academy Awards, that should focus on showcasing talent and providing beauty and joy to the masses outside the political arena, are so highly politicized.  Sadly, this is the world we live in today.  Perhaps it always was.


*Jamala’s song was titled 1944 and was about the deportation of the Crimean Tatars. The entire population was rounded up, put on trains and exiled thousands of miles away from Crimea, for allegedly cooperating with the Nazis during the war, despite the fact that many Crimean Tatars, including Jamala’s great-grandfather, fought for the Red Army and died at the front. The Tatars were allowed to return to Crimea only in 1989, and the majority of them strongly opposed the annexation of the peninsula by Russia in 2014. While some Crimean Tatars have joined the Russian government, many Tatar activists have been jailed or have simply disappeared; a Tatar television station has been chased out of Crimea and a climate of fear prevails.