Not just a pretty face…

Wow, what a smile!  Sigh...
Actor Blair Underwood- wow, what a smile! Sigh...
Last Thursday, actor Blair Underwood was in Washington, DC to open a new health clinic, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Blair Underwood Clinic (on K Street near George Washington University Hospital).  Local people can come in and get tested for HIV/AIDS for free, Underwood explained on CNN.  He has been involved with fighting HIV/AIDS for about 20 yrs.  The actor told CNN’s Don Lemon that his life has been directly touched by AIDS.  Two members of his wife’s family died of AIDS, one “after a blood transfusion” and another “as a result of lifestyle choices.” 
Blair Underwood as Alex on HBO's "In Treatment"
Underwood as Alex on HBO's "In Treatment"
Recently, Underwood received critical acclaim portraying Alex, one of the patients of Paul (Gabriel Byrne) on Season 1 of HBO’s In Treatment.  Underneath Alex’s muscular/macho/perfectionist exterior is a man riddled with guilt (about a bombing mission that killed a school full of children) and uncertainty (about his marriage).
Blair squares off against Gabriel Byrne
Squaring off against his analyst, Gabriel Byrne


Alex challenges Paul b/c he refuses to reveal much about himself for the first 2 sesssions.  The ex-pilot wants answers from his shrink, but doesn’t want to put himself in a vulnerable position.  Alex is a control freak; he even buys an expensive coffee machine for Paul’s office b/c he wants things just so.  Later on in the season, Alex becomes involved with another one of Paul’s patients, the volatile doctor- Laura (Melissa George).      



With the wife & kids- awww....
With the wife & kids- awww....

Underwood appeared as a sports doctor and one of Miranda’s boyfriends on SATC.  The actor made his TV debut at age 23 as the ambitious/charming litigator Jonathan Rollins on the courtroom drama LA Law.  Underwood impressed producers with his charisma and maturity.  (And 23 is not even old enough to be a lawyer!) 


The cast of "LA Law" (1986)
The cast of "LA Law" (1986)

Emma on recent news

Murder at Yale
There have been some very disturbing issues in the news lately.  The item that seems topmost in people’s minds is the brutal killing (which may’ve been premeditated) of Yale grad student, Annie Le. One of my younger (female) cousins also attends an Ivy and performs work similar to that of the deceased young woman.  I also have two acquaintances (from my NYC days) w/ connections to Yale.  One of them attended Yale for undergrad; another is currently in the MBA program.  Yale looks like an unlikely place for such a heinous murder.  Many people are wondering why it occurred.  Was the accused, Raymond Clark III, jealous of Le’s superior intellect and workplace success?  They were the same age and worked in the same lab, though Le was in a higher position.  Or did he just lose control, and kill her without intent?  (I highly doubt this!)     
Annie Le was a promising young scientist; she was also petite, pretty, and exuded happiness in photographs released to the media.  Her parents were described as quiet, hardworking people by neighbors in Le’s rural California hometown.  She was engaged to be married to a bright young man, her long-time boyfriend, attending Columbia.  Tragically, her body was discovered by New Haven police on her proposed wedding day.  One of her mentors, Dr. Rocky Tuan, appeared on Larry King Live; he said she was “one of the most intelligent and motivated students” he’d ever met.  Le interned at the NIH during summers under Dr. Tuan’s supervision.  Wow, writing this is choking me up a bit! 
What can we do on a day-to-day basis to decrease violence, especially violence against women?  I know several people involved in non-profits that aid women and children.  But you don’t need to be an expert on this topic to better the situation.  If you have some money handy, why not attend a social event where some of the proceeds go to charity?  If you are a parent/guardian, teach your children (both genders) that sexist talk in not appropriate in any situation.  Teach by example from a young age. There are situations where girls should be treated more gently than boys, as my aunts and older friends often say. 
If you are a teenage boy/young man, don’t ignore nasty comments, jokes, and stories your buddies say about females.  Call them on it- you could change their minds.  What if they make fun of you?  Being considerate to girls will get you further than your buddies in the long run.  As for the girls, you can make a difference by being more observant.  Are any of your friends being treated unkindly by their boyfriends?  Look for clues, both verbal and physical.  Don’t stay silent; acting subservient won’t attract the right kind of man.                    
President’s health care plan
Another news item being discussed is the opposition to President Obama’s health care plan.  First, one of South Carolina’s state reps, Republican Joe Wilson, yelled “You lie!” during Obama’s speech to the joint session of Congress.  Some people outside cheered; in no time Wilson was flooded with campaign contributions and new adoring right-wing fans.  Secondly, Former president Jimmy Carter said that racism is the cause of such vehement opposition to Obama’s plans.  Now, we should respect Carter for the positive things he’s done after leaving office (as my Dad said); he has written many books as well.  It is a well known fact that he grew up in rural Georgia during segregation, and his mother worked as a nurse with African-American patients.   
I’m pretty sure all of the “tea party” protestors I saw last SAT on the DC metro were white; most of them were over 40. There were a few families with kids, too.  But an attractive young couple, who didn’t fit the typical Republican image, stood out in my mind.  Are these people concerned about the state of their health insurance?  Yes.  They feel that if we give coverage to more people, their coverage will do down the tubes.  But they have no proof that yet!  These are middle-class types worried about taxes, not just illegal (or “undocumented” as some prefer) immigrants.  What documents did their (white) ancestors have when they left Europe for America, I wonder?  Are all these people racist?  Of course not!
President’s speech on education
Why were parents/school districts freaking out even before Obama spoke?  What’s wrong with addressing youth, many of whom admire the attractive/cool/youthful president?  I didn’t listen to all of this speech, but read/heard sections.  Pres Obama basically said the same things one of my old friends believed; she works as a money manager in SoCal.  Though she was from a very wealthy/well-connected family, she studied long hours and worked hard to prove herself in college and in the workplace.  Having successful parents motivated her more than many others her age, not less!  Being from a Hindu Indian family made her feel proud, not different; she didn’t believe in peer pressure.  This young lady believed that it was mainly up to her to get the best grades, no matter what the subject was or who the teacher was of the course.  Things didn’t come easy to her (she switched majors twice and settled for her second favorite career), so she had to put in the hours.  The only time she took off was Friday afternoon and evening.  Obama must’ve been like her as a student, I imagine.     

Merchant Ivory’s final film… & more!

Movie Review: Before the Rains (2007)


Tagline: Passion has its price.

My mom saw this movie last month… and LOVED it!  This is the last film produced by both James Ivory (deceased) and Ismail Merchant (his business/life partner).  It is hands-down one of the most (visually) stunning movies out there!  The director, Santosh Sivan, is also a highly respected cinematographer in his native India.  The only other movie that compares (with regard to beauty) is Alfonso Arau’s A Walk in the Clouds.  The natural beauty of southrn India, top actors of Tamil cinema, and the authentic music add flavor to an interesting central story.

TK (Rahul Bose) and Moores (Linus Roache)
TK (Rahul Bose) & Moores (Linus Roache)

British gentleman/planter/family man Henry Moores (Linus Roache, who can currently be seen on Law & Order) has started an ambitious road expansion project in a small village within Kerala in southern India.  He has requested extra funds from the bank, and hopes that the road will hold (after the monsoons).  Moores, a well-liked and generous white man, is aided by his native land manager/”right hand man” TK Neelan (Rahul Bose, one of India’s finest indie actors).   TK is the most interesting person in the film, a bridge between his home village and the British rulers.  Though TK works for Moores, they have a close, friendly relationship. (TK is surprised/delighted when Moores presents him with an English pistol.)

Kerala is a character in the film, too!
Kerala is a character in the film, too!

There are rumors in the village about a couple seen in the woods.  TK realizes that Moores is (dangerously) close to his beautiful/strong-willed housekeeper Sajani (Nandita Das, star of Deepa Mehta’s Earth and Fire; one of India’s finest indie actresses).  Is it love?  Is it mutual? 

Sajani (Nandita Das) w/ Laura Moores (Jennifer Ehle) and son
The Moores' housekeeper Sajani (Nandita Das) tells Laura Moores (Jennifer Ehle) and son a story.

Like Moores, Sajani is married, and a friend of TK’s (since childhood).  But Laura Moores (Jennifer Ehle of Pride and Prejudice fame; an American actress who studied in Britain) doesn’t suspect anything when she returns from London with their young son.  The Moores’ son adores TK and Sajani and is enthralled by their stories.

All smiles at a screening
All smiles on 2 of my fave actors!

TK is VERY engaging, though his face shows subtle expressions and he speaks simply /honestly.  The role of TK is a departure for Bose, Sivan says on the commentary track, because he usually portrays sophisticated/urbane characters (as in Mr & Mrs Iyer and 15 Park Avenue).  Roache does a fine job of  keeping the restraint of an Englishman, but his conflicting emotions come out of his eyes.  The Brit comments that though he has visited India several times, he considers Kerala to be “the most beautiful place in the world.”

Recent iTunes downloads:

Dallas Wayne:  He’s an old-school rockabilly country artist with a sense of fun AND tradition in his songs.  The instrumentals are GREAT!  

3:30 In the Afternoon

I’ll Take the Fifth

If That’s Country: VERY funny criticism of  the modern country scene; some lyrics below…

You can make a star of a teenage girl
But one million dollars won’t make her Merle
Laser beams, navel rings, and a pretty face might be something

But you can kiss my Ozark ass, if that’s country

Now I ain’t denyin’ them suburban moms their fun

But don’t you try to tell me it’s the way Hank wanted it done
You  better keep your money-grubbin’ hands off the poor man’s song

 And make sure Chris Gaines stays the hell offa my front lawn


Mac McAnally:  He’s a singer/songwriter who has been influenced by MANY genres, not just country.  His songs have been decribed as “a piece of Americana.”  The voice is clear, honest, and VERY pure!

If You Hang Around Long Enough

(Nothing Like A) Sunny Day

Until Then