Friday, November 21, 2008

Puck's Gay Love Potion Splashed Across Town

A Note From Alan:

Puck's love potion sprinkled in the eyes of all who voted for Proposition 8 . Might turn this world into a love friendly world versus a hate filled world. (In regards, to California's Gay Marriage Ban.)

Published: November 21, 2008

What teenager hasn’t fantasized about wielding magic to transform an indifferent object of desire into a besotted lover? In “Were the World Mine,” an indie alternative to Disney’s “High School Musical” franchise, Timothy (Tanner Cohen), a persecuted gay student at a private boys’ school outside Chicago, acquires such magic while rehearsing the role of Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

When a purple flower spurting Cupid’s love juice mysteriously springs up in Titania’s bower, Timothy plucks it and later tosses its liquid into the eyes of his secret crush, Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker), the ostensibly straight star of the rugby team. Mutual puppy love is instantaneous and intense.

In Timothy/Puck’s prankish scheme, every helpless target of such magic falls madly in love with the first person in sight, inappropriate or not. And for the next 24 hours Timothy dashes around his small town making unsuspecting homophobes, including the rugby coach, fall ridiculously in love with dumbfounded members of the same sex; before long, the streets are crawling with cow-eyed, spooning gay couples.

This small, endearing film, directed by Tom Gustafson from a screenplay he wrote with Cory James Krueckeberg, has already won a number of awards, including outstanding narrative feature at Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. In its giddiness, “Were the World Mine” echoes “High School Musical 3” right down to featuring balletic choreography on a basketball court.

With original music by Jessica Fogle, and lyrics (some original and others adapted from Shakespeare) by Mr. Krueckeberg, it is an enchanting, mildly subversive fantasia that reconciles sassy teenage argot with Elizabethan. One moment it is this, the next that. Ms. Fogle’s most striking music, especially the title song, sets Shakespearean dialogue in an ethereal Minimalist style that has the entranced intensity of centuries-old sacred music.

The movie doesn’t burst into song all that often. Some numbers are no more than clever asides, played on guitar and sung by Timothy’s sullen friend Frankie (Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin), a self-possessed tomboy who describes herself as “hetero-flexible.” Frankie morosely takes it in stride when Timothy experiments with the love juice on Max (Ricky Goldman), his best friend and her crush.

A subplot involves Timothy’s embattled relationship with his divorced mother, Donna (Judy McLane), who is having difficulty coming to terms with his sexuality. Donna takes a job as a door-to-door saleswoman for the cosmetics line invented by Nora (Jill Larson), the vain, bigoted wife of the school’s stuffy headmaster (David Darlow).

To some degree, Donna and Nora are John Waters-style female caricatures. So is the film’s mysteriously powerful guardian angel, Ms. Tebbit (Wendy Robie), the airy, arty English teacher who casts the Shakespeare production, oversees rehearsals and refuses to shut it down after the town goes erotically bonkers.

Ms. Robie, who bears a strong resemblance to Patricia Clarkson, plays the teacher as a benign sorceress who wears a secretive smile while using “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to impart some lessons in tolerance. In what is shown of the final production, the gawky high school boys playing both men’s and women’s roles have turned into graceful actors comfortable with Elizabethan English.

“Were the World Mine” begins tentatively, but once its tone is established, its charm overcomes the inevitable weaknesses of a musical made on a stringent budget. Like its Disney counterparts, it operates on the assumption that the movie musical is a world unto itself in which ordinary rules of logic don’t apply. One thing doesn’t have to lead to another, and not everything need be explained. Movie-musical magic makes up the difference.


Opens on Friday in New York, San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif.

Directed by Tom Gustafson; written by Cory James Krueckeberg and Mr. Gustafson; director of photography, Kira Kelly; edited by Jennifer Lily; music by Jessica Fogle, adapted and original lyrics by Mr. Krueckeberg; choreography by Todd Underwood; production designer, Mr. Krueckeberg; produced by Mr. Gustafson, Mr. Krueckeberg and Peter Sterling; released by Speak Productions. In Manhattan at Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Tanner Cohen (Timothy), Wendy Robie (Ms. Tebbit), Judy McLane (Donna), Zelda Williams (Frankie), Jill Larson (Nora Bellinger), Ricky Goldman (Max), David Darlow (Lawrence Bellinger) and Nathaniel David Becker (Jonathon).

Love your way... you are Brilliant!

Alan Davidson is the author of the Free report

"Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your

Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a

Sensational Life"

available at

Alan is also the author of Body Brilliance:

Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences (IQs)

Watch the Body Brilliance Movie

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Everybody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

Joe Biden has been a Senator for 36 years. He has vast understanding of constitutional law and foreign affairs, among other topics. But his most important qualification for Vice President is that his wife and daughter were killed and two sons badly injured in a tragic auto accident in 1972. At least that is the impression you get from listening to Barack Obama and other Democrats as they tout Obama's choice for Vice President. By the same standard, Biden's second most important qualification appears to be that in 1988 he suffered two life-threatening brain aneurysms.

And just in case you think he hasn't suffered enough, Biden stuttered as a child.

John McCain is also one of the best members of the Senate and a sterling character in many ways. But if that were all he was, he wouldn't be running for President. Most voters couldn't tell you a thing about McCain's Senate record. But everyone knows he endured five years in a North Vietnamese prison. That fact is the cornerstone of his political appeal.

Back during the Democratic primary campaign, there was John Edwards. He had an ambitious plan for health-care reform, I believe, but I couldn't tell you a thing about it. We all knew two things about him: he (like Biden) lost a child in an automobile accident, and his wife had inoperable cancer. (Now we know a third thing about Edwards, which illustrates the peril of drawing too many conclusions from a candidate's life story as framed by the candidate and his or her campaign.) And, of course, there was Hillary Clinton. She never made an explicit issue of her personal troubles. She didn't have to, since we lived through them with her. Her role as the nation's officially wronged wife (who started out dissing Tammy Wynette and ended up standing by her man) was the basis of her political career.

It is perfectly legitimate for the voters to want to know more about a politician than just a list of his or her positions on the issues. We don't know what issues are going to be really important over the next four years. In November 2000, for example, no one could have predicted what happened in September 2001. We need to make a judgment about who this person who wants to be our next President is at a deeper level. And biography is a good way to do it.

As the political consultants say, a candidate needs a story. And the media seem capable of handling only one story: overcoming adversity. (In fact, they use the same story in profiling Olympic athletes.) This particular story has two morals. First, it says the candidate has the inner strength or the wisdom or whatever it takes to address the unpredictable challenges he or she will face if elected. Second, it suggests that the candidate will be able to empathize with voters and the adversities they face.

But there are different kinds of adversity. One kind goes back to the oldest of all political life stories: the one about being born in a log cabin. Rising from poverty to within grasp of being President clearly does say something admirable both about you and about the country where this can happen. Obama's story is a near perfect 21st century updating of the log-cabin myth.

Putting yourself back together and going on after a tragedy like the death of a child also takes admirable qualities. But, except at the most abstract level, these qualities don't say much about what it takes to be a good President. The truth is that when adversity takes the form of a child's death or a spouse's cancer or a spouse's cheating or even, to some extent, of being tortured in an enemy prison, it is the adversity that moves us more than the rising above it. Making it central to your campaign is more a matter of seeking empathy than offering it. You're asking for a pity vote. Or maybe it's more ghoulish than that. Maybe politicians are now held in such utter contempt that personal suffering is the only way they can prove their humanity.

When the media or a candidate's political allies--or sometimes even the candidate--suggest that a child's death or half a decade as a prisoner of war will make the candidate better able to feel the pain of American voters, this is really an insult to the candidate and to whatever inner strength got him or her through the challenges he or she faced.

Most American voters have never suffered this kind of pain, which is really outside the realm of politics in any event. Or it should be.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obama Affirms Climate Change Goals

Published: November 18, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama, in strongly-worded remarks to a gathering of governors and foreign officials on Tuesday, said he had no intention of softening or delaying his aggressive targets for reducing emissions that cause the warming of the planet.

Speaking by video to a climate conference in Los Angeles, Mr. Obama repeated his campaign vow to reduce climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and invest $150 billion in new energy-saving technologies.

“Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,” Mr. Obama said. “Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”

Some industry leaders and members of Congress have suggested that Mr. Obama’s climate proposal would impose too great a cost on an already-stressed economy — having the same effects as a tax on coal, oil and natural gas — and should await the end of the current downturn. A bill similar to Mr. Obama’s plan failed to clear the Senate earlier this year, largely because of concerns about its impact on the economy.

Mr. Obama rejected that view, saying that his plan would reduce oil imports, create jobs in energy conservation and renewable sources of energy, and reverse the warming of the atmosphere.

“My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process,” Mr. Obama said.

State officials and environmental advocates were cheered that Mr. Obama choose to address climate change as only the second major policy area he has discussed as president-elect. In a press conference and television interview last week he said that his first priority as president will be to revitalize the economy.

The bipartisan summit meeting was convened by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor of California, who has been a leader in state efforts to regulate greenhouse gases, even when it meant confronting the Bush administration over its more hesitant approach. Attendees included the governors of Illinois, Florida, Wisconsin and Kansas, who have also been in the forefront of actions at the state level to act in the absence of a national climate change plan. Officials from 22 other states, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Brazil, China, India and Indonesia, as well as United Nations aides and environmentalists, also are taking part in the two-day meeting.

Mr. Schwarzenegger announced the meeting in September in part to signal to Washington and the two presidential candidates that the states were serious about moving forward with climate legislation with or without Washington’s blessing.

California enacted a sweeping climate bill in 2007 that would have, among other things, imposed strict mileage and emissions standards on all cars and trucks sold in the state. More than a dozen other states adopted the standards, but they were struck down by the Bush administration last December on the ground that the states did not have the legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

“When California passed its global warming law two years ago, we were out there on an island,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in opening the conference, “so we started forming partnerships everywhere we could.”

Mr. Obama said that although he would not attend a U.N.-sponsored meeting on climate change next month, he has asked members of Congress who are going to report back to him on what the United States can do to reassert leadership on global climate policy.

He also told the state officials: “When I am president, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that’s willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America.”

Governor Jim Doyle, Democrat of Wisconsin, said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles that he had been frustrated by what he said was the Bush administration’s timid approach to climate issues. And he said that despite the current economic crisis, it was important to begin long-term efforts to address global warming.

“I think we all wish the economy was a lot better, but I feel very strongly that we can’t back away from progress we’ve made on really important things like climate change,” Mr. Doyle said. “I’m looking forward to having a federal government and a president who will provide real leadership and bring the United States into the world on this issue.”

Love your way... you are Brilliant!

Alan Davidson is the author of the Free report

"Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your

Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a

Sensational Life"

available at

Alan is also the author of Body Brilliance:

Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences (IQs)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Across U.S., Big Rallies for Same-Sex Marriage

Published: November 15, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — In one of the nation’s largest displays of support for gay rights, tens of thousands of people in cities across the country turned out in support of same-sex marriage on Saturday, lending their voices to an issue that many gay men and lesbians consider a critical step to full equality.

The demonstrations — from a sun-splashed throng in San Francisco to a chilly crowd in Minneapolis — came 11 days after California voters narrowly passed a ballot measure, Proposition 8, that outlawed previously legal same-sex ceremonies in the state. The measure’s passage has spurred protests in California and across the country, including at several Mormon temples, a reflection of that church’s ardent backing of the proposition.

On Saturday, speakers painted the fight over Proposition 8 as another test of a movement that began with the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York in 1969, survived the emergence of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, and has since made enormous strides in societal acceptance, whether in television shows or in antidiscrimination laws.

“It’s not ‘Yes we can,’ ” said Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco city supervisor, referring to President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign mantra. “It’s ‘Yes we will.’ ”

Carrying handmade signs with slogans like “No More Mr. Nice Gay” and “Straights Against Hate,” big crowds filled civic centers and streets in many cities. In New York, some 4,000 people gathered at City Hall, where speakers repeatedly called same-sex marriage “the greatest civil rights battle of our generation.”

“We are not going to rest at night until every citizen in every state in this country can say, ‘This is the person I love,’ and take their hand in marriage,” said Representative Anthony D. Weiner of Brooklyn.

In Los Angeles, where wildfires had temporarily grabbed headlines from continuing protests over Proposition 8, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa addressed a crowd of about 9,000 people in Spanish and English, and seemed to express confidence that the measure, which is being challenged in California courts, would be overturned.

“I’ve come here from the fires because I feel the wind at my back as well,” said the mayor, who arrived at a downtown rally from the fire zone on a helicopter. “It’s the wind of change that has swept the nation. It is the wind of optimism and hope.”

About 900 protesters braved a tornado watch and menacing rain clouds in Washington to rally in front of the Capitol and on to the White House. “Gay, straight, black, white; marriage is a civil right,” the marchers chanted.

In Las Vegas, the comedian Wanda Sykes surprised a crowd of more than 1,000 rallying outside a gay community center by announcing that she is gay and had wed her wife in California on Oct. 25. Ms. Sykes, who divorced her husband of seven years in 1998, had never publicly discussed her sexual orientation but said the passage of Proposition 8 had propelled her to be open about it.

“I felt like I was being attacked, personally attacked — our community was attacked,” she told the crowd.

And while some speakers were obviously eager to tap crowds’ current outrage, others took pains to cast the demonstrations as a peaceful, long-term, campaign over an issue that has proved remarkably and consistently divisive.

“We need to be our best selves,” said the Rev. G. Penny Nixon, a gay pastor from San Mateo, Calif., who warned the San Francisco crowd against blaming “certain communities” for the election loss. “This is a movement based on love.”

The protests were organized largely over the Internet, and featured few representatives of major gay rights groups that campaigned against Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote after trailing for months in the polls. The online aspect seemed to draw a broad cross-section of people, like Nicole Toussaint, a kindergarten teacher who joined a crowd of more than 1,000 people in Minneapolis.

“I’m here to support my friends who are gay,” said Ms. Toussaint, 23. “I think my generation will play a big role.”

The big crowds notwithstanding, it has been a tough month for gay rights. Proposition 8 was just one of three measures on same-sex marriage passed on Nov. 4, with constitutional bans also being approved in Arizona and Florida. In Arkansas, voters passed a measure aimed at barring gay men and lesbians from adopting children.

That vote was on the minds of many of the 200 people who protested Saturday in front of the State Capitol in Little Rock. One of those, Barb L’Eplattenier, 39, a university professor, said some of her gay friends with adopted children were fearful of state action if they appeared in public. “They think their families are in danger,” said Ms. L’Eplattenier, who married her partner, Sarah Scanlon, in California in July.

The protests over Proposition 8 also come even as same-sex marriages began Wednesday in Connecticut, which joined Massachusetts as the only states allowing such ceremonies. By contrast, 30 states have constitutional bans on such unions.

At a Boston rally on Saturday, Kate Leslie, an organizer, said the loss in California had certainly caught the attention of local gay men and lesbians who have had the right to marry since 2004.

“You’re watching people who could be you and are part of your community being stripped of their rights,” Ms. Leslie said. “And in some ways that’s why so many people are infuriated in Massachusetts and willing to stand up for a rally.”

In California, a State Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriage in May. As many as 18,000 couples married, some traveling from other states to tie the knot. Such marriages may be challenged in court.

David McMullin, a garden designer from Atlanta, was one of those who made the trip, marrying his partner in Oakland, Calif., in September, in part to let their two adoptive children feel part of a married family.

“We just want our kids to know we’re O.K.,” said Mr. McMullin, who had come to a protest in front of the Georgia State Capitol. “We have rights as people even if we don’t have rights as citizens.”

Supporters of the proposition have repeatedly argued that Proposition 8 was not antigay, but merely pro-marriage.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman,” said Frank Schubert, the campaign manager for Protect Marriage, the leading group behind passing Proposition 8. “If they want to legalize same-sex marriage, they are gong to have to bring a proposal before the people of California. That’s how democracy works.”

Equality California, a major gay rights group here, indicated this week that it would work to repeal Proposition 8 if legal challenges fail.

Such dry approaches seemed a million miles away, however, from the boisterous scene in front of San Francisco City Hall on Saturday, where as many as 10,000 people gathered, carrying signs, American flags and even copies of their marriage licenses.

One of those was Lawrence Dean, 57, who had married his partner, Steven Lyle, in San Francisco in July. It was the fifth time that the couple of 19 years had held a ceremony to announce their commitment, and, of course, accept wedding gifts.

“If we keep this up, maybe I won’t have to again,” Mr. Dean said, looking out at the protest. “I have enough pots and pans.”

Love your way... you are Brilliant!

Alan Davidson is the author of the Free report

"Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your

Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a

Sensational Life"

available at

Alan is also the author of
Body Brilliance:

Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences (IQs)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Military Retirees Call for Repeal of Policy on Gays

More than 100 retired generals and admirals called Monday for the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays so they can serve opnely, according to a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

The move by the military veterans confronts the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama with a thorny political and cultural issues that dogged former President Bill Clinton early in his administration.

While Obama has expressed support for repeal, he said during the presidnetial campaign taht he would not do so on his own -- an indication that he would tread carefully to prevent the issues from becoming a drag on his agenda. Obama said he would instead work with Military leaders to build consensus on removing the ban on openly gay service members.

A sopkesman for Obama's transition team declined to comment.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sister Emmanuelle, Revered in France for Candor and Caring, Is Dead at 99

A Note from Alan: A Great Example of Moral IQ in Today's World. Serving the Poor and Needy.

Published: October 24, 2008

“When you hear this message, I will no longer be there,” the voice, characteristically spirited, confident, just a little bit cheeky and familiar to all of France, said on a tape released this week.

The words were those of Sister Emmanuelle, a nun revered for her work with the disenfranchised, especially among the garbage-scavengers of Cairo, and renowned for her television appearances in France as an advocate for the poor. She died Monday at a retirement home operated by her order, the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Sion, in Callian, in the south of France.

She was immediately praised by the Vatican, her work and achievement likened to those of Mother Teresa. A spokeswoman for her charitable organization, the Sister Emmanuelle Association, confirmed the death. She was 99 and would have turned 100 next month.

But Sister Emmanuelle, who told an interviewer in August that she was not afraid of death, was not quite through with her earthly work. The tape, part farewell and part public relations coup, was released by the book publisher Flammarion as part of the announcement that her autobiography, written two years ago and held for posthumous release, would be published Friday.

“In telling of my life — all of my life — I wanted to bear witness that love is more powerful than death,” Sister Emmanuelle said on the tape, which was recorded at the time she finished the book. “I have confessed everything, the good and the less good, and I can tell you about it.”

And so she has. In the book, mischievously titled “Confessions of a Nun,” Sister Emmanuelle wrote seriously of a life of faith and service. “Remember the simple soul of your brothers and sisters in rags,” she counseled herself. “Do not turn yourself to the ‘beautiful world’ unless it is useful for the slums; do not let your original vanity carry you off to the heights.”

She wrote as well of having to overcome what she described as an early fear of Jews, though her grandmother was Jewish. (Her order was founded, in 1843, to promote the conversion of Jews to Christianity.) But “little by little,” she wrote, “I went from rejection of, to pride in, my origins.”

She also wrote frankly of her lifelong feelings of lust, of masturbating as a girl, of falling in love and having to renounce physical love for the love of God.

As a girl, she wrote, “when desire assaulted me, only some outside presence had the power to stop me; otherwise I was powerless against the avidity of pleasure. A penchant for voluptuousness and an obsession for sensuality developed in my flesh, the intensity of which is difficult to describe. The fact that the needle has not left my old woman’s body is a source of constant surprise and humiliation. I thought that, with the years, its tip of fire would completely disappear. Not at all.”

Such energetic candor always characterized Sister Emmanuelle, who was known to favor allowing priests to marry, who was benignly indifferent to homosexuality and who wrote to Pope John Paul II in defense of the use of contraceptive pills, telling him about the slum-dwelling Egyptian girls who were marrying as young as 12 and having babies every year. It was a characteristic that endeared her to the French; last year, Le Journal du Dimanche named her the nation’s fourth most popular person behind the former tennis player Yannick Noah, the soccer star Zinedine Zidane and the actress Mimie Mathy.

She was born Madeleine Cinquin on Nov. 16, 1908, in Brussels into a family that ran a lingerie business; her father drowned when she was 6. She earned a degree in philosophy at the Sorbonne and expressed a desire to be a nun from an early age, but she was not all work and no play. The stories of her youth create a portrait of a highly sociable and flirtatious young woman.

“I loved dancing, particularly with nice-looking boys,” she wrote in an earlier memoir. “My mother used to say to me, ‘You want boys to like you, to surround you, to admire you.’ ” She added: “And I told her, ‘For God I will leave the boys alone.’ ”

After she took her vows — in either 1929 or 1931, according to varying reports — she taught in schools in Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt. In 1971, when she was 62, she received permission from her order for what had long been her desire, to move to Cairo and live among the poorest of its citizens in Ezbet El Nakhl, a slum whose residents, known as zabbaleen, share space with refuse, sorting and recycling it for the city, and scavenging in it, too. There she lived in a one-room hut for 22 years, while helping to establish schools, clinics and play areas.

The Sister Emmanuelle Association, which she founded in 1980, eventually extended its work to Brazil, Burkina Faso, Haiti, the Philippines, Senegal and Sudan.

She returned to France in 1993 and became an outspoken advocate for the rights of the poor.

On Wednesday, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who called her “a woman of faith with high convictions, but also a woman for whom charity existed through concrete actions,” and Suzanne Mubarak, wife of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, along with thousands of other mourners, attended a memorial service for her at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris.

In 1996, Sister Emmanuelle appeared on the popular television program “Bouillon de Culture,” on which she was asked by the host, Bernard Pivot, to name her favorite word. (Mr. Pivot’s interview technique was borrowed by James Lipton for “Inside the Actors Studio.”) She replied with the Arabic word that, idiomatically translated, means “Let’s go.”

“Yallah,” she said.

Then he asked for a word she hated, and she replied in English.

“Stop,” she said.

Love your way... you are Brilliant!

Alan Davidson is the author of the Free report

"Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your

Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a

Sensational Life"

available at

Alan is also the author of Body Brilliance:

Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences (IQs)

Watch the Body Brilliance Movie

Friday, November 14, 2008

A New You....When I Snap my Fingers Twice You Will...

Published: November 3, 2008

My husband, Richard, smoked cigarettes for 50 years, having failed several attempts to quit on his own. When a friend told him in August 1994 that hypnosis had enabled her to quit, he decided to give it a try.

“It didn’t work; I wasn’t hypnotized,” he declared after his one and only session. But it did work; since that day, he has not taken one puff of a cigarette.

Gloria Kanter of Boynton Beach, Fla., thought her attempt in 1985 to use hypnosis to overcome her fear of flying had failed. “When the therapist brought me out, I said it didn’t work,” she recalled in an interview. “I told her, ‘I heard everything you said.’ ”

Nonetheless, the next time she and her husband headed for the airport, she was not drenched in sweat and paralyzed with fear. “I was just fine,” she said, “and I’ve been fine ever since.”

Like many others whose knowledge of hypnotism comes from movies and stage shows, my husband and Mrs. Kanter misunderstood what hypnosis is all about. While in a hypnotic trance, you are neither unconscious nor asleep, but rather in a deeply relaxed state that renders the mind highly focused and ready to accept suggestions to help you accomplish your goals.

Hypnosis has been mired in controversy for two centuries, and its benefits are often overstated. It does not help everyone who wants to quit smoking, for example; then again, neither do other kinds of treatments.

And the patient’s attitude is critical. In the words of Brian Alman, a psychologist who practices hypnosis in San Diego, “The power of hypnosis actually resides in the patient and not in the doctor.”

Roberta Temes, a clinical hypnotist in Scotch Plains, N.J., insists that hypnosis cannot make people do anything they don’t want to do. Hypnosis can succeed only in helping people make changes they desire, she said in an interview.

In her book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hypnosis,” Dr. Temes points out that success in achieving your goal is the best proof that you were really hypnotized. She also suggests a second or third session if you didn’t quite reach your goal after the first try.

What Hypnosis Can Do

In effect, hypnosis is the epitome of mind-body medicine. It can enable the mind to tell the body how to react, and modify the messages that the body sends to the mind. It has been used to counter the nausea of pregnancy and chemotherapy; dental and test-taking anxiety; pain associated with surgery, root canal treatment and childbirth; fear of flying and public speaking; compulsive hair-pulling; and intractable hiccups, among many other troublesome health problems.

Writing in The Permanente Journal in 2001, Dr. Alman said that “useful potential” for benefiting from hypnosis “exists within each patient.” “The goal of modern medical hypnosis,” he said, “is to help patients use this unconscious potential.”

Dr. Alman described a 65-year-old concentration camp survivor who repeatedly choked when she tried to swallow, though examinations of her esophagus revealed no obstruction. After three hypnotherapy sessions, her problem was solved. “I was liberated from my esophagus,” the patient said.

You may not even have to be face to face with a hypnotist to benefit medically. Dr. Temes said hypnosis could be helpful even if done with a cassette tape or CD, or by telephone, which she offers as part of her practice. She said many helpful CD’s could be found through the Web site

Ellen Fineman, a physical therapist in Portland, Ore., had had five surgeries to repair a retina that kept detaching. Hoping that a sixth attempt would hold, she used a hypnosis tape prepared by Dr. Temes for patients undergoing surgery.

The hypnosis tape “was very calming and reassuring,” Ms. Fineman said in an interview.

“It told me that I would be in the hands of professionals who would take good care of me and that I’d have minimal swelling,” she said. “This time the surgery went superbly — no inflammation, no swelling and no more detachment. The surgeon was amazed and asked what I had done differently this time.”

While not everyone is easily hypnotized, nearly everyone can slip into a therapeutic trance, Dr. Temes maintains. Another of her patients, Dr. Susan Clarvit, a New York psychiatrist, thought she could not be hypnotized — she was too scientific, too rational a person, she said.

“But I was desperate,” Dr. Clarvit said in an interview. “I was pregnant with my second child and too nauseated to be alive. Dr. Temes asked me what I held most often, and I said a pen. She hypnotized me so that when I held a pen I had an overall feeling of wellness. I held a pen all the time, even while driving, and didn’t feel nauseated.”

Under hypnosis, Dr. Clarvit was given a posthypnotic suggestion that linked holding a pen to feeling well. Such suggestions enable people to practice a new, desired behavior after being brought out of the trance.

Someone trying to overcome snacking on sweets might be told, “When you are hungry, you will eat vegetables.” The suggestion to a smoker might be “you will drink water when you want a cigarette,” and someone terrified of public speaking might be told “you will do deep breathing when you feel scared.”

Many patients are also taught to practice self-hypnosis to reinforce the new behavior. Dr. Karen N. Olness, a professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University who is the president of the International Society of Hypnosis, said that “self-hypnosis training in children is an effective and practical strategy to prevent migraine episodes.”

Indirect Benefits

Sometimes patients with well-established illnesses can benefit indirectly from hypnosis.

Dr. Alman told of a woman with multiple sclerosis who was treated with hypnosis for depression that had failed to improve with antidepressants. Almost immediately, he reported, not only did the woman’s depression ease, but her gait and speech improved markedly.

He explained that for many patients the medical problem is so complex that specific directions and commands may be ineffective. The benefit from hypnosis may rely more on unleashing unconscious processes within the patient. He suggested that there exists “a wealth of material in the patient’s unconscious that can be used in healing” but lamented the fact that although medical hypnosis can often produce rapid change even in difficult cases, it is “underutilized as a therapeutic tool.”

As with any other profession, some hypnotherapists are more talented than others. Dr. Temes suggests that word of mouth may be the best way to find someone practiced in hypnosis for the kind of problem you’re trying to solve. Also helpful is the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, at, which maintains a referral list of therapists, both certified and not, by location and specialty.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

They’ve Got Your Number

Published: October 31, 2008

Maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t believe that the kind of person you are can be deduced by an algorithm and expressed through shorthand categorizations like “urban youth” or “hearth keeper.” Maybe I’d agree with you, and maybe we’re right. But the kind of people — “crack mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers” — whom Stephen Baker writes about in “The Numerati” clearly see things differently. In fact, they probably regard such skepticism as more fodder for the math-driven identity formulas they’ve created to satisfy the consumer-product companies and politicians who hire them.

Baker, a writer for BusinessWeek, categorizes the categorizers into seven chapters: some number crunchers seek to decode us as shoppers, others as voters or patients or even potential terrorists. In all cases, the idea is to gather data, use computers to compile and interpret it, and draw conclusions about how we will behave — or how we might be persuaded to behave. “We turn you into math,” one of his subjects declares. Sometimes the data comes from firms that collect it from public records or subscription lists, or that conduct exhaustive attitudinal surveys, concluding on the basis of whether you own cats or subscribe to gourmet magazines which political “tribe” you belong to, and thus how a campaign should approach you (or not). But the most interesting information comes from us, particularly by way of our online activities. Baker’s savants monitor our collective (if anonymous) Web surfing patterns for “behavioral clues” that, for example, help advertisers decide when to hit us with what pitch.

You probably already have a sense that this sort of thing is going on, but Baker uncovers some surprising details. A chapter on efforts to convert the information disclosed by bloggers and users of social networks is among the most interesting. Baker offers an anecdote about a firm called Umbria helping a cellphone company that’s decided to charge more for Bluetooth data connections, a move that “sent bloggers into a fury.” Umbria, which studies bloggers and divides them into tribes, concluded that all the spleen-venting was coming from the “power users,” whereas “the fashionistas, the music lovers, the cheapskates” did not care. “With this intelligence,” Baker writes, the company could placate the power users by offering them “free” service (while raising the prices on headsets) and “continue charging everyone else.” He goes on to describe Umbria’s efforts to teach its computers to interpret blogs and draw conclusions from different phrases, font choices, background colors and even emoticons.

On one level, this is just the low comedy of the profit motive: our finest techno-­wizards and their beautiful machines wrestling with the meaning of “:)” so that some cellphone company can micro-target its fee increases. But Baker also, in effect, offers a counternarrative to the usual story about the digital revolution. While millions of ordinary citizens have been em­powered to express their individuality with a panoply of new tools, a smaller number of people have been working out the most efficient ways to convert those individuals into numbers on a spreadsheet.

We used to go about our business and let marketers try to catch up with us. “Today,” he writes, “we spy on ourselves and send electronic updates minute by minute.”

The most cautionary chapter concerns information-age tools that hunt for terrorists and other bad guys, which risk being “repurposed” in dangerous ways. The most optimistic one deals with data mining and health care, predicting a time when “networked gadgets” will monitor our weight, our physical activity and even our bathroom time to help us live “healthier, happier and longer lives.” Both chapters — all the chapters, really — involve a lot of speculation (many sentences begin “Let’s say . . .” or “Imagine . . .”). By and large, Baker seems to accept much of what the new “counting elite” say they can do now or will be able to do someday, but sometimes their claims and Baker’s credulity are all the reader has to go on. At one point, a data cruncher who is devising ways to improve office-worker efficiency says the underlying stochastic calculus isn’t too hard to understand, starts to explain a formula . . . and then he stops, and Baker lets it drop. Presumably he was simply more interested in keeping up his short book’s crisp pace, but “The Nu­merati” could have used a few more specific and nonhypothetical examples, like that Bluetooth anecdote. Baker makes only passing mention of the application of extensive mathematical modeling that the typical reader is most likely to be familiar with: the Wall Street version, which has proved, shall we say, fallible.

Still, Baker may be right in saying the mathematicians and computer scientists he writes about are or soon will be “in a position to rule the information of our lives.” Maybe you don’t believe in the version of you that some guy is coaxing out of a computer in the nondescript offices of a company you’ve never heard of. But that’s not what matters. What matters is whether that guy, and his clients, believe in it. :(

Rob Walker writes the Consumed column for The New York Times Magazine. His latest book is “Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are.”

Love your way... you are Brilliant!

Alan Davidson is the author of the Free report

"Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your

Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a

Sensational Life"

available at

Alan is also the author of Body Brilliance:

Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences (IQs)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Finally, a Thin President

Published: November 5, 2008

OVER the coming days and weeks, there will be many “I never thought I’d see the day” pieces, but none of them will be more overflowing with “I never thought I’d see the day”-ness than this one. I’m black, you see, and I haven’t gained a pound since college. I skip breakfast most days, have maybe half a sandwich for lunch, and sometimes I forget to eat dinner. Just slips my mind. Yesterday morning, I woke up to a new world. America had elected a Skinny Black Guy president.

I never thought I’d see the day. What were the chances that someone who looked like me would come to lead the most powerful nation on earth? Slim.

Skinny Black Guys of my parents’ generation pinned their hopes on Sammy Davis Jr. His was a big-tent candidacy, rallying Skinny Black Guys, the Rat Pack and the Jewish vote in one crooning, light-footed package. He won South Carolina, but he never gathered momentum. In the end, the Candy Man couldn’t.

No one stepped up for a long time. Michael Jackson was black and skinny, but also pretty weird, and after a while he wasn’t even black any more, although he did retain his beanpole silhouette. We thought we had a winner in Chris Rock, but then he started in with his infamous “There are Russians, and then there are ... Georgians” routine and we decided he was too raw for the national stage. So we waited. Some lost faith. Others gorged themselves on protein shakes, believing that America might accept a black mesomorph. And some of us kept hoping. We were hungry for change, if not brunch.

Like many Americans, I first saw Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic convention. I remember telling my wife excitedly, “This guy is probably stuffed after a cup of minestrone!”

We knew it’d be an uphill battle. America has a long, troubled history. Last summer, The Wall Street Journal came out and said what all Americans felt, but were too afraid to say aloud: “In a nation in which 66 percent of the voting-age population is overweight and 32 percent is obese, could Senator Obama’s skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.” Had he bitten off more than he could chew?

I voted for Mr. Obama, but don’t give me that “you’re racist” line. Skinny Black Guys vote Democratic 90 percent of the time, through thin and thin. Now our day has come.

On the right, there’s been much anxiety over what a Skinny Black Guy administration will look like. Will he paint the White House a warm, Cablinasian caramel, lop off the East Wing for a more svelte profile? Pack his cabinet with Garrett Morris, Dave Chappelle and Jimmie Walker? Such talk is ridiculous, although Mr. Obama doesn’t hide the fact that he keeps Urkel on speed-dial “because you never know.” I’m confident he’ll reach across the aisle to Skinny White Guys, Haven’t Been Able to Get to the Gym White Guys, and If They Were Women They’d Be Called Zaftig White Guys.

He is going to raise taxes on the middle class, though. They were right about that. Skinny Black Guys hate the middle class. No reason. Just do.

What else can we expect from a Skinny Black Guy White House? (I never thought I’d live to write those words!) We’ll turn the corner, or close the menu, as we like to say, on the war on terrorism. The time may come to sit down at the (under-catered) table with the Taliban. The president-elect has a lot in common with these guys. No, not that. It’s hard to get good takeout in the caves of Tora Bora, so you know they’re pretty lean by now. Nothing breaks the ice like, “Is that my stomach growling, or yours?”

There’s a lot of work to be done to get America back on track. There won’t be time for full meals, just light snacking. No problem. With the economy tanking, we’ll to have to tighten our belts. Again, no prob. When Skinny Black Guys say, “I’ll just have the Cobb salad,” it’s not a calorie thing. We’re cheap. It’ll come in handy when cutting the fat out of the budget in time for beach season.

A lot of bigots woke up yesterday to the reality of our modern world. To them I say, just because you have a high metabolism, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a fierce moral vision and the right ideas to fix this country. It just means that you don’t gain weight easily.

Somewhere, the Candy Man is smiling.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our Founding Father's Eternal Revolution

Published: November 7, 2008

BARACK OBAMA’S victory marks the end of another magnificent chapter in America’s experience of democracy. But rather than being seen as a radical transition, it is best viewed as part of an ever-evolving process that began with the election of George Washington in 1789. To interpret it as a foundational change, ushering something new and unknown, is to diminish the past, to unduly singularize Mr. Obama’s achievement and to raise unrealistic expectations about his presidency.

Mr. Obama owes his victory, first, to his gift of leadership and personality: the hybrid cool of his charisma, his cathartic power to mine unity from difference. But his triumph depended on voters, first prone to see his candidacy as exotic, to recognize it as something that could (and would) only happen here. That they did stems in large part from the founding fathers’ clear vision of the ideal makeup of a democracy: an inclusive electorate, political participation and political power sharing.

This was a vision that terrified as much as it fascinated the conservative men who were often amazed at what they had signed on to in 1787: a revolutionary “charter of power granted by liberty,” in James Madison’s nervously triumphalist prose. So they promptly ensured that it would only very slowly threaten the political hegemony of older white men.

Three groups, in particular, were excluded from the process: blacks, women and the young. The history of American democracy can be read in good part as the struggle of all three to become fully included in the process. The 2008 campaign was remarkable in the way all three groups worked together to realize, finally and fully, the ambivalent vision of the founders.

Most important to the Obama victory was the long struggle of black Americans to be incorporated in the public sphere. That entailed not just the dismantlement of Jim Crow but the election of black officers at all levels of the political system. The sheer presence of significant numbers of blacks in positions of political authority was as much the cause as the consequence of the profound change in white political attitudes. Colin Powell’s flirtation with a presidential run was a critical point in this shift in white attitude, effectively priming the nation for the possibility of a black candidate. But so too were the appointments of blacks such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

And while disdained by most social scientists, the cultural dimension of black public incorporation also prepared the way: a white population that venerates Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan, its youth steeped in hip-hop, has already gone a long way toward accepting a black leader in the highest office of the public sphere, even if whites are reluctant to do the same in their segregated private lives.

Of equal importance in explaining Senator Obama’s triumph, however, are American women. This campaign was, in a remarkable way, a condensed re-enactment of the entire intertwined struggle of blacks and women for political inclusion. White women first rejected their confinement to the role of virtuous motherhood in the private sphere of the early Republic by championing the very public struggle for the abolition of slavery. In much the same way, the modern second wave of feminism was facilitated by, and partly modeled on the black civil rights movement.

Black achievement has always presaged female advancement, not always from the noblest of motives: if blacks could vote, enjoy protection from discrimination and run for office, so should women. Hillary Clinton’s forceful campaign, however important, pales in comparison with this historic American tendency in explaining why a female president is now a near certainty and not long off.

But women have always repaid the debt. A quiet but momentous change took place in the 1980s that was just as important as the civil rights movement in explaining Barack Obama’s victory: the epochal shift in the voting behavior of women who, for the first time since enfranchisement, voted in greater numbers, and more progressively, than men. In raw demographic terms, the most important factor in explaining the Obama victory was women voting by a 13 percent margin in his favor, while men were almost evenly split. President Obama would neglect this base of support at his peril.

Finally, there is the much discussed resurgence in the youth vote. Here, again, change is best viewed as a critical moment in a pre-existing process. American youths have long voted at distressingly low levels, although the turnout of eligible voters between 18 and 29 surged moderately between 2000 and 2004, from 36 to 47 percent. While Tuesday’s exit polls are showing only an incremental change in this rate, Mr. Obama had a powerful impact on youth activism, deploying young Americans in voter mobilization ground operations and in the game-changing use of the Internet for voter outreach and campaign finance.

Young voters went 2-to-1 in Mr. Obama’s favor on Tuesday. Their advocacy in the Iowa caucuses was likely the decisive factor in his all-important victory there. The most lasting effect of all this may be a permanent shift of the youth vote toward the Democratic Party, although one can certainly expect the Republicans, who made successful efforts on campuses in the Ronald Reagan years, to mount a challenge.It appears, too, that the intense bonding of younger Americans with the youthful Mr. Obama initiates the transmission of power from baby boomers, who have for so long consumed the nation’s assets and attention, to a younger generation from whom so much has already been taken, in social security and resources.

To view the election of Barack Obama as notable only as an example of breaking through a racial barrier is to misunderstand the greater flow of our ever-more-inclusive democracy. America has, at last, delivered, in creating the most sublime example of democratic governance since its invention in Greece 25 centuries ago.

Orlando Patterson is a professor of sociology at Harvard and the author of “The Ordeal of Integration.”

Love your way... you are Brilliant!

Alan Davidson is the author of the Free report

"Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your

Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a

Sensational Life"

available at

Alan is also the author of Body Brilliance:

Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences (IQs)

Watch the Body Brilliance Movie

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama and the War on Brains

Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.

Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either.

We can’t solve our educational challenges when, according to polls, Americans are approximately as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution, and when one-fifth of Americans believe that the sun orbits the Earth.

Almost half of young Americans said in a 2006 poll that it was not necessary to know the locations of countries where important news was made. That must be a relief to Sarah Palin, who, according to Fox News, didn’t realize that Africa was a continent rather than a country.

Perhaps John Kennedy was the last president who was unapologetic about his intellect and about luring the best minds to his cabinet. More recently, we’ve had some smart and well-educated presidents who scrambled to hide it. Richard Nixon was a self-loathing intellectual, and Bill Clinton camouflaged a fulgent brain behind folksy Arkansas aphorisms about hogs.

As for President Bush, he adopted anti-intellectualism as administration policy, repeatedly rejecting expertise (from Middle East experts, climate scientists and reproductive health specialists). Mr. Bush is smart in the sense of remembering facts and faces, yet I can’t think of anybody I’ve ever interviewed who appeared so uninterested in ideas.

At least since Adlai Stevenson’s campaigns for the presidency in the 1950s, it’s been a disadvantage in American politics to seem too learned. Thoughtfulness is portrayed as wimpishness, and careful deliberation is for sissies. The social critic William Burroughs once bluntly declared that “intellectuals are deviants in the U.S.”

(It doesn’t help that intellectuals are often as full of themselves as of ideas. After one of Stevenson’s high-brow speeches, an admirer yelled out something like, You’ll have the vote of every thinking American! Stevenson is said to have shouted back: That’s not enough. I need a majority!)

Yet times may be changing. How else do we explain the election in 2008 of an Ivy League-educated law professor who has favorite philosophers and poets?

Granted, Mr. Obama may have been protected from accusations of excessive intelligence by his race. That distracted everyone, and as a black man he didn’t fit the stereotype of a pointy-head ivory tower elitist. But it may also be that President Bush has discredited superficiality.

An intellectual is a person interested in ideas and comfortable with complexity. Intellectuals read the classics, even when no one is looking, because they appreciate the lessons of Sophocles and Shakespeare that the world abounds in uncertainties and contradictions, and — President Bush, lend me your ears — that leaders self-destruct when they become too rigid and too intoxicated with the fumes of moral clarity.

(Intellectuals are for real. In contrast, a pedant is a supercilious show-off who drops references to Sophocles and masks his shallowness by using words like “fulgent” and “supercilious.”)

Mr. Obama, unlike most politicians near a microphone, exults in complexity. He doesn’t condescend or oversimplify nearly as much as politicians often do, and he speaks in paragraphs rather than sound bites. Global Language Monitor, which follows linguistic issues, reports that in the final debate, Mr. Obama spoke at a ninth-grade reading level, while John McCain spoke at a seventh-grade level.

As Mr. Obama prepares to take office, I wish I could say that smart people have a great record in power. They don’t. Just think of Emperor Nero, who was one of the most intellectual of ancient rulers — and who also killed his brother, his mother and his pregnant wife; then castrated and married a slave boy who resembled his wife; probably set fire to Rome; and turned Christians into human torches to light his gardens.

James Garfield could simultaneously write Greek with one hand and Latin with the other, Thomas Jefferson was a dazzling scholar and inventor, and John Adams typically carried a book of poetry. Yet all were outclassed by George Washington, who was among the least intellectual of our early presidents.

Yet as Mr. Obama goes to Washington, I’m hopeful that his fertile mind will set a new tone for our country. Maybe someday soon our leaders no longer will have to shuffle in shame when they’re caught with brains in their heads.

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Love your way... you are Brilliant!

Alan Davidson is the author of the Free report

"Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a Sensational Life"

available at

Alan is also the author of Body Brilliance:

Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences (IQs)

Watch the Body Brilliance Movie

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yma Sumac, Vocalist of the Exotic, Dies at 86

Yma Sumac, a Peruvian singer who burst on the American scene in the 1950s in a tornado of exotic publicity with a voice that glided preternaturally across four octaves, leading her to top record charts, fill nightclubs and become a cult heroine, died Saturday in Los Angeles. She was 86.

Her death was announced on her Web site, The Associated Press quoted her assistant, Damon Devine, as saying that she had had an eight-month bout with colon cancer. He confirmed that she was born on Sept. 13, 1922, not 1926, 1927 or any other year that has been variously given, almost always making her younger.

What is indisputable is that Ms. Sumac created a sensation as an otherworldly chanteuse who sold millions of records, appeared onstage and in movies, filled European concert halls and fetched $25,000 a performance in Las Vegas. Most critics and musicians heard four octaves in her voice — compared with two for the average singer — though she claimed she could cover five. But few doubted a vocal ability that many experts thought belonged in opera.

“She sings very low and warm, very high and birdlike; and her middle range is no less lovely than the extremes of her scale,” Virgil Thomson wrote in The New York Herald Tribune in 1954. “That scale is very close to four octaves, but is in no way inhuman or outlandish in sound.”

Her image was pleasantly jolting in what many saw as the staid 1950s. She wore long, heavy braids in her raven hair; traditional Indian costumes; lots of gold and silver jewelry; and exotic makeup. She spoke of jungle animals as musical influences.

The appeal persisted. Many were not surprised at how the Incan Princess became a venerable queen of camp, popping up decade after decade with her unsettling mix of strange sounds, folk roots and a vivacious stage personality. Fans ranged from aficionados of lounge music to rockers attracted by ethereal sounds to lovers of classic pop.

The Tampa Tribune in 1996 suggested that Ms. Sumac’s “tribalisms” were perfect for a “space-age bachelor pad.”

“It’s a South American travelogue scripted by Disney, directed by Dali,” the paper said.

The largest and most persistent fabrication about Ms. Sumac was that she was actually a housewife from Brooklyn named Amy Camus, her name spelled backward. The fact is that the government of Peru in 1946 formally supported her claim to be descended from Atahualpa, the last Incan emperor.

But that was not enough for show business publicists. Her first American album, 1n 1950, on Capitol Records was called “Voice of the Xtabay”; the album’s liner notes said Xtabay refers to “the most elusive of all women,” describing her as “a virgin who might have consumed your nights with tender caresses now seems less than the dry leaves of winter.”

The hyperbole grew. The liner notes say 30,000 Indians rioted when their revered singer moved to Lima to pursue larger ambitions. The actual number of protesters, Ms. Sumac told Collier’s magazine, was one: her mother. “Mama seem like 30,000,” she said in her then-broken English.

The album quickly sold 500,000 copies, and was No. 1 on Variety’s best-seller list at the end of 1950, surpassing albums by Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman.

Ms. Sumac was born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo in the Andes. Different towns are cited in different sources as her birthplace. Her father was part Spanish, her mother a full-blooded Incan.

Ms. Sumac was the last of six children. Incan descent is passed through the youngest child, on the theory that that child most benefits from the experience of others in the family, Fate magazine reported in 1951. She received no formal music lessons.

“The creatures of the forest taught me how to sing,” she said in an interview with Newsday in 1989. Her talent became known to Peru’s national government, which brought her to Lima to perform. She moved to the United States in 1946, and first played in places like a Greenwich Village delicatessen.

Ms. Sumac first used the name Imma Sumack, then shortened it to the spelling Capitol Records deemed more exotic. Her first breakthrough came with a successful concert in Hollywood Bowl. She soon played Carnegie Hall, flanked onstage by two miniature erupting volcanoes.

Ms. Sumac appeared in the Broadway musical “Flahooley” in 1951, and in several movies, including “Secret of the Incas” (1954) with Charlton Heston. Other albums included “Mambo” (1954) and “Fuego del Ande” (1959).

By the 1960s, with her popularity waning, she made a triumphant tour of the Soviet Union, where its leader, Nikita S. Khrushchev, was a fan, then toured in other parts of Europe and Asia. Her later work included a rock album, “Miracles,” in 1971, and a 2005 anthology, “Queen of Exotica.”

She twice married and divorced the Peruvian composer and bandleader Moisés Vivanco. She is survived by their son, Charles, and her three sisters.

In 1957, Brooklyn made Yma Sumac — not Amy Camus — an honorary citizen of the borough. The response of the exalted Virgin of the Sun God: “Must all talent come from Brooklyn?”

Love your way... you are Brilliant!

Alan Davidson is the author of the Free report

"Body Breakthroughs for Life Breakthroughs: How to Peak Your

Physical, Emotional, Mental, Moral, and Spiritual IQs for a

Sensational Life"

available at

Alan is also the author of Body Brilliance:

Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences (IQs)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What else is there left to

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” said Mr. Obama, standing before a huge wooden lectern with a row of American flags at his back, casting his eyes to a crowd that stretched far into the Chicago night.“It’s been a long time coming,” the president-elect added, “but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Do Your Civic Duty: VOTE!

Americans went to the polls on Tuesday to choose the next president of the United States, deciding whether Senator Barack Obama or Senator John McCain was better suited to guide the nation through an economic crisis at home and two wars abroad.

In voting booths in every corner of the land, the people were collectively writing the ending to a political saga that has been unfolding for nearly two years, during a tumultuous, uncertain period of American history in which record numbers of people expressed concerns that the country was heading down the wrong track.

Voters began lining up before dawn at polling locations up and down the East Coast, in what election officials said was an unprecedented level of turnout.

Mr. Obama cast his ballot at an elementary school in Chicago shortly before 9 a.m. Eastern time, and his running mate, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, followed suit soon afterward in Wilmington, Del.

And in tiny Dixville Notch, N.H., which casts its ballots just after midnight, Mr. Obama won 15 votes to Mr. McCain’s 6. President Bush won the vote there in 2004.

In Richmond, Va., the capital city of a battleground state, voters started lining up at 5 a.m., and by 6 a.m., lines were already an hour long. They stood in line through a steady drizzle, sipping coffee and reading newspapers, as election officials offered voting instructions.

Whoever wins on Tuesday — Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee, or Mr. McCain, the Republican — the election will make history. If Mr. Obama is elected, he will become the nation’s first African-American president. And if Mr. McCain wins, his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, will be the first woman elected vice president.

Presidential elections are really 51 state-by-state elections (including the District of Columbia), and for Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain the day was all about trying to win enough of those states to get the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidency. To that end they spent the last days and hours of the campaign making their final pushes in closely contested states from Florida to Virginia to Colorado that could tip the balance in favor of either man.

Looming over the race was the unpopular Republican president, George W. Bush, whose approval ratings are hovering at record lows after starting a war in Iraq that many Americans concluded was a mistake, and presiding during an economic collapse this fall that left millions of people worrying about their mortgages and retirement savings.

Mr. Obama, 47, a first-term senator from Illinois, premised his candidacy on change, arguing that he would turn the page on President Bush’s policies and make the country respected again at home and abroad. Mr. McCain, 72, a son and grandson of admirals who served five and a half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, ran as the most experienced candidate to be commander-in-chief, but also argued that he had long bucked his party and would bring change to Washington as well.

The two men offered starkly different proposals. Mr. Obama called for ending the war in Iraq over a period of about 16 months, and Mr. McCain for continuing it until victory was achieved. Mr. Obama wanted to roll back President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, and to cut taxes for the middle class; Mr. McCain wanted to extend the Bush tax cuts and cut taxes on businesses. Mr. Obama wanted to use government money to expand health insurance for the uninsured, and to require coverage for all children, while Mr. McCain wanted to give individuals tax credits to go toward buying their own insurance.

In some areas, both men promised a break from the Bush administration, even if they differed on the details: both agreed that global warming was real, and promised to take steps to reduce it; both pledged to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and both were outspoken in condemning torture after reports of waterboarding and other abuse of prisoners at the hands of American captors surfaced in recent years.

During the long, grueling campaign, Mr. Obama repeatedly claimed that Mr. McCain would effectively represent a third term for Mr. Bush. And while Mr. McCain has at times been a thorn in Mr. Bush’s side, as a presidential candidate he was proposing to continue enough of Mr. Bush’s policies, from tax cuts to the Iraq war, that the charge seemed to stick. Mr. McCain, for his part, painted Mr. Obama as unprepared, noting that only four years ago he was still a member of the Illinois State Senate, and trying to sow doubts about him by suggesting that he was still largely an unknown quantity.

For all the big issues, there were plenty of fleeting, insubstantial controversies as well. Mr. McCain mocked Mr. Obama as a substance-free celebrity, and Mr. Obama mocked Mr. McCain for being unable to remember how many homes he owned. At times the contest grew ugly, with Mr. McCain all but suggesting that Mr. Obama was a socialist for his tax-cut proposal, and Ms. Palin accusing Mr. Obama of “palling around with terrorists” for working sporadically with a former 1960s radical.

It was a presidential campaign that shattered all kinds of records, from the number of votes cast during the long, bitterly contested primary and caucus season to the huge amount of money raised and spent on the general election after Mr. Obama withdrew from his pledge to accept public financing of his campaign. And during a campaign season that lasted nearly two years, it sometimes seemed that the road to the White House had more twists and turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco.

Both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain went through lean periods when they were considered long shots for their parties’ nomination, only to prevail in the end.

Mr. McCain had entered the race as the presumptive Republican frontrunner by virtue of having been the runner-up in 2000, and by the way he had raised his profile in the years since then by passing a campaign finance bill that bore his name, and appearing frequently on television, often as an independent voice, bucking his party.

But things soured for him in 2007. The Iraq war he had championed grew deeply unpopular, and at a time many were proposing scaling back the American presence there he was calling for adding more troops, leading many to question whether he could win over the independent voters who had always been central to his strategy. Then his support for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws provoked a vitriolic backlash among Republicans, whose support he needed to win the party’s nomination. After spending lavishly but falling short in fundraising, his campaign was nearly broke by the summer of 2007, and his candidacy was all but written off by the Washington establishment.

He scaled back, focused all his resources on winning the New Hampshire primary, and hoped for the best. Then things began to go his way. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who had invested heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire, was embarrassed and weakened when he lost the Iowa caucuses to Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. Rudolph W. Giuliani, who led in many polls for much of the fall, began to fade as the voting neared, and adopted a risky strategy of holding back resources for the Florida Primary. Fred D. Thompson’s highly anticipated candidacy failed to generate much excitement when he belatedly entered the race.

It was against that backdrop that Mr. McCain was able to win the New Hampshire primary, beating a weakened Mr. Romney and putting himself on the road to the nomination after racking up wins in South Carolina and Florida and the many states that voted on Feb. 5.

Mr. Obama entered the race as a long shot at a time when many Democrats expected Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York or former Senator John Edwards to win the party’s nomination. But his campaign quickly inspired a core of committed young people, and his speeches became political events, drawing huge, transfixed crowds. At the same time he proved himself to be a prodigious fundraiser, making the party take him seriously, and cast himself as a change from politics of the Bush and Clinton years.

He was propelled forward by his victory in the Iowa caucuses, which took on an added significance by signaling to many Democrats that if an African-American could win an overwhelmingly white state like Iowa, he could win elsewhere. But Mrs. Clinton went on to beat him in New Hampshire, presaging a long battle to the nomination.

Mr. Obama was helped by two things. As a former community organizer, he placed an emphasis on organizing supporters in caucus states, many of which were overlooked by the Clinton campaign, but which won him delegates. And unlike the Republicans, who awarded their state delegates on the winner-take-all system, the Democratic rules awarded their delegates proportionally, meaning that Mr. Obama was able to pick up large numbers of delegates even in states he lost to Mrs. Clinton.

In the end, she fell short, and he became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Mr. Obama chose a more experienced hand, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, as his running mate, tapping someone with extensive foreign policy experience but a propensity for making the occasional gaffe. Mr. McCain picked Ms. Palin of Alaska, arguing that her willingness to buck her party elders there made her a perfect fit for him. The choice galvanized social conservatives who had long been wary of McCain, but turned off some independents who came to view her as unprepared.

If both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain were chosen by the parties in large part because of their positions on the Iraq war — Mr. Obama for opposing it from the beginning, and Mr. McCain for supporting the surge strategy that was later credited with reducing violence there — the election quickly turned to pocketbook issues. Four-dollar-a-gallon gas prices over the summer provoked outrage, and the worsening economy reached crisis proportions this fall when the nation’s financial institutions teetered on the brink of collapse and required a huge government bailout.

And the family lives of the candidates did not pause for the campaign. One of Mr. McCain’s sons, Jimmy, a Marine, did a tour in Iraq, and both Ms. Palin and Mr. Biden bid farewell to their sons, who were going off to Iraq. Ms. Palin announced on the day the Republican National Convention began that her daughter Bristol, 17, was pregnant and engaged to be married. Mr. Biden’s mother-in-law died last month, and on Monday, the day before the election, Mr. Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him during his teenage years, died in Hawaii.