American Elephants


The Clancy Brothers: “Carrickfergus” by The Elephant's Child
March 17, 2015, 6:00 am
Filed under: Entertainment, Humor, Music, YouTube | Tags: , ,

They Celebrate Themselves and Sing Themselves… by The Elephant's Child

awards-2015-background-full

In spite of the theme that the most important thing happening in the world yesterday was—the Oscars— viewership was way down. The awards went to movies that no one had seen, and pointedly ignored the really big hits. It was the most political Oscar party in years. But the glitterati of Hollywood can never get enough of  red carpets, being photographed and getting awards—which they do with ever increasing frequency.

  • The 72nd Golden Globes Awards
  • The 25th Screen Actor Guild (SAG) Awards
  • The 57th GRAMMIES
  • The 87th Academy Awards (Oscars)
  • The 69th Tonys
  • The People’s Choice Awards
  • The Kid’s Choice Awards
  • The Webbys
  • MTV Movie Awards
  • Teen Choice Awards
  • MTV Video Music Awards
  • The 67th Emmy Awards

Beyond that, there are at least 50 major film festivals, the most notable being Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Venice and Berlin, but most other major cities have one as well.

Can you spell n-a-r-c-i-s-s-i-s-m?

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. …
—just a random few lines from Walt Whitman


The Dark Ages? They Really Weren’t That Dark! by The Elephant's Child

Professor Anthony Esolen for Prager University. We’ve been told that the Middle Ages, also known as the Dark Ages, were characterized by oppression ignorance and backwardness in areas like human rights, science, health and the arts? We have been misled.



“Can’t Stop the Cavalry” by The Elephant's Child

I’m a sucker for tuba music. This song comes in many versions, this one was made seven years ago for the troops.



Merry Christmas from the United States Air Force by The Elephant's Child

Last December, the United States Air Force Band did a surprise performance at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I loved this one. Enlarge to full screen, you’ll enjoy it. I’ve never been flash-mobbed, but the people who are there clearly love it.



Quarantine or A Time for Contemplation? by The Elephant's Child

Had I been to West Africa treating Ebola patients, I would surely understand the reason that I might be quarantined. I can’t imagine many things worse than having to live with the knowledge that I had caused someone else’s illness or death.

So, faced with being quarantined for 21 days, what could you do about it? Can I assume a laptop, a phone and a TV, a bed, a shower and a bathroom? I could knit a sweater, take a couple of online courses, call friends to chat, watch movies, build a model, read the books I have been wanting to have time to read. I could write a diary of my quarantine, real or imaginary. Most of us complain about not having enough time for the things we want to do, and ordinary life intrudes.

A phone, a laptop and a credit card will get you exactly the materials you need, and the gift of free time gives you the time for study or contemplation. Is that really all bad? Boredom is a choice, not a given.

On the other hand, when members of the military are quarantined on their return, are they quarantined together, when one exposed person could expose the whole group or separately? Has anybody thought that one through?



Thirteen Year-Old Truant Forced Out of D.C. Public Schools by The Elephant's Child

Avery Gagliano has been playing the piano since she was five years old. She was a straight A student at Alice Deal Middle School, and the Jack Kent Cook Honors Scholarship recipient at the Levin School of Music. She was chosen to join 11 other musicians from around the world to play in Munich last year at the Lang Lang Foundation Junior Camp.

Avery’s parents tried to persuade the school system to excuse her travels, when she was chosen by the Foundation to tour the world as an international music ambassador. Her parents created a portfolio of her musical achievements and academic record, and drafted an independent study plan for the days she would miss while touring the world.

In March, Avery traveled to Connecticut for a piano competition. She won the Grand Prix award for her performance of a Chopin Waltz and when she returned to school —a truancy officer was called. D.C. bureaucrats label any student with 10 “unexcused absences” as a truant. The truancy law gives school officials the option of deciding what an unexcused absence is. Not for a very young piano prodigy.  Rules are rules and all that. The truancy office and the school wouldn’t budge. Here she is in Munich last year.

Avery has been forced to spend her eighth grade year as a homeschooler, and the Gaglianos are not happy.

“We decided to home-school her because of all the issues, because it was like a punch in the gut to have to face the fight again this year,” Gagliano told the Post. “We didn’t want to do this. We want to be part of the public school system. Avery has been in public school since kindergarten. She’s a great success story for the schools.”

Avery’s accolades include studying in the Inaugural Lang Lang Junior Music Camp in Munich, Germany, as well as under Dr. Veda Kaplinsky at the Aspen Music Festival. She was also featured in a NPR broadcast program “From The Top” and a two-hour PBS documentary titled “Arts and the Mind” that was broadcast nationwide. All the awards would not convince the D.C. public schools to recognize or reward Avery’s talent. But a little publicity did.

After a column about Avery was published in The Washington Post, Chancellor Kaya Henderson issued a statement saying the column was wrong and they would like to have Avery back at Alice Deal Middle School. They claimed they had excused Avery’s absences for international travel. But during summer vacation the family received another letter telling them their daughter was truant, and enclosed a helpful brochure on the possible police and Child and Family Services intervention for students who are truant.

We have all been reading and clucking over the idiocy coming out of our public school systems. It hardly seems a week goes by without another case being reported. What is clear is that school administrators need some remedial training in plain old common sense. It seems to be missing. Political correctness and mindless adherence to regulations  is the order of the day—from children who are suspended for chewing a pop tart into a gun shape (or the state of Idaho) to punishing prodigies for their excellence. It goes on and on.

Let’s hear it for home schooling and charter schools. If the public schools cannot do a decent job of educating the next generation—fire them.




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