Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Heralding A New Era

Cable TV is swarming with coverage of President Obama's inauguration ( they still address him as "President-elect", but I think it's irrelevant at this point! :)). Just finished watching We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration on HBO, and was most inspired by Obama's short speech ( he's a master orator ) and Beyonce's closing performance of America The Beautiful.

As I sit waiting for President Obama to be sworn into office ( 4 more hours to go ), I share Americans' overflowing excitement, especially those who've braved freezing temperatures to congregate at the Lincoln Memorial and witness a great historical moment.

I just find it strange that the self-proclaimed "world's greatest democracy" took a longer time to reach this point, compared to other developed -- and even developing -- countries. I, for one, expected the U.S. to elect a President from either a minority group or of a female gender sometime in the 1990s, but the only frontrunner in the former category was General Colin Powell, who pulled out at the last minute, reportedly because of fears about his personal safety.

An article cum interview with President Obama in Time magazine ( the Person of the Year issue ) highlighted the many hurdles he will face in the near future, but he has already commenced preparations ( he attended a meeting the night he won the election, rather than take a few days off -- something George W. Bush would've done, I'm sure ), and perhaps enjoys the additional benefit of youth and energy, as aides and close friends express their admiration for his boundless stamina.

I feel privileged -- as do my parents, who're following this event closely -- to be able to be part of a new era, as the next leader of the free world inevitably brings to mind a darker period in America's history, yet also demonstrates how the nation has taken the final leap in overcoming any doubts it may have had about an African-American shepherding the country through crisis.

The last President who impressed me greatly was Bill Clinton who, despite the Monica Lewinsky scandal, was an otherwise excellent commander-in-chief.

Likewise, President Obama instills great hope in me, and I wish him a smooth transition, followed by a very successful term ahead.

A verse from America The Beautiful goes:

"O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!"

May President Obama restore his nation's glory and be remembered not merely for making history, but as the harbinger of a brighter future as well.

The Last Lecture

Picked up Randy Pausch's book on a whim, but am enjoying it more than I imagined I would.

Aside from his simple yet effective writing style and memorable anecdotes, I'm most surprised by the similarities in our opinions, be it about relationships ( the "brick wall" theory ), cars ( "utilitarian devices, not expressions of social status" ) or the importance of integrity.

Chapter 48 -- my favourite -- is short but wise:

"People lie for lots of reasons, often because it seems like a way to get what they want with less effort. But like many short-term strategies, it's ineffective long-term. You run into people again later, and they remember you lied to them. And they tell lots of other people about it.
That's what amazes me about lying. Most people who have told a lie think they got away with it... when in fact, they didn't."

Speaking from personal experience with a number of scumbags ( the worst 3 of whom are from the medical profession ), this statement brought a satisfied smile to my face, because I realized how right he is, and that yes, they actually didn't get away with it after all. :)

The Week So Far

Has been terrific!

2 days in, I'm already feeling rejuvenated, as I spend time at home doing what I love, and begin to sleep soundly again.

Just hope the next 5 days pass by a little more slowly.

More Video Clips

Raul Esparza singing a Latin-flavoured O Holy Night -- a very novel ( and sexy ) approach. Yow. :)

Another song from Company that is becoming a huge favourite of mine. I've tried playing a saxophone before, which almost killed me. I admire any female who can do so, especially while singing and prancing around on-stage.

Best of all, Esparza's unbelievable performance of Being Alive. Looks like he's playing in E flat major? Imagine him doing this every night for months -- typical duration of a Broadway run, at least for an original cast. Watch his face when he gets to the bridge and sings "mock me with praise". Wow.

Yes, I love this musical. :)

Some bonus material for Pushing Daisies fans ( they're cancelling the show after 2 seasons, argh! ):

Esparza as travelling salesman Alfredo -- just realized I've seen this episode ( season 1 ) and remember him quite well, though I didn't know his name at the time. Am very pleased about that. :D

Another hilarious scene. Enjoy.

Am going to miss the show's intelligent humour and whimsical storylines. DVDs from Amazon? Heh heh...

And of course, something from Kevin Spacey -- the finale from Beyond The Sea. He is SO fabulous!
There's a segment at the end with the real Bobby Darin doing the same piece. First time I'm hearing it -- the similarities are startling!

More next time...

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