Friday, January 25, 2013

Leadership Styles: Two Different Approaches

The top-down style of leadership — otherwise known as the “command style
- A group is defined by a single, supreme leader who “rules” over all.
- The leader’s main responsibility is direct and command members of a group.
- To carry out these command functions, the supreme leader must possess multiple skills:
Serving as spokesperson for group ( through speaking and writing).
   Functioning as the group’s chief negotiator with other forces.
   Serving as military field commander in struggles with the “enemy”.
   Serving as the group’s political strategies.
   Promoting internal group cohesion and motivating the membership ( interpersonal skills).
  Training one “heir apparent”.

Alternative concept of leadership is "shared Leadership"
A group functions collectively - with a large number of leaders, each able to contribute specific skills, such as:
- Serving as spokesperson ( through speaking and writing)
- Representing the group in negotiations with other forces
- Serving as military filed commander in struggles with the “enemy”
- Developing political strategy for the group
- Fostering intra-group harmony and the concept of teamwork
- Recruiting new members
- Managing tasks and overseeing group responsibilities
- Fostering a “culture”— or atmosphere within the group— that promotes learning, membership development, and fun

The group can be comfortable with having many styles of leadership: no one style is defined as the most important style.
The group should provide a nurturing atmosphere, enabling all members to grow in their leadership skills and to learn new skills

Common Misconception about Leadership:
"There is one-and only one-style leadership for a group.”
“For any group, there is one—and only one—leader. A few members of the group are ‘developing leaders,’ while the rest are “followers”.
“Leaders are born and not trained: a person either has leadership ability or does not.”
Even when people recognize the existence of different leadership styles, they tend to believe that “one style (usually the ‘command style’) is more important that other styles.

60,000 deaths in War on Drugs

Mexican poet, Javier Sicilia, "the War on Drugs started here in America, and we want Americans to take their share of responsibility and help end it. As citizens of world, all of us can stop the war by forcing our states to change to a public health policy, to contol the trafficking of these arms of destruction, to end the money laundering and use the savings from the legalization of drugs to compensate the victims and recreate the social fabric."

Monday, January 21, 2013

UCLA Project College Access Program - Feb 8 deadline

V-SOURCE, a UCLA/EdBoost research project and nonprofit college access program (, is hiring smart, motivated students for part-time positions as virtual student advisors. Pay is $400/month with bonuses. Work at home around your schedule. We will train advisors in all aspects of the college application process, so if you have a passion for helping students, please apply!

Deadline is Feb. 8th - apply online:

For additional information, contact:
Sara Mousavi
V-SOURCE Coordinator
EdBoost Learning Center
3300 Overland Avenue, #202
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 559-2017

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy ?

“I was feeling there is more in this life and that my life should have meaning.  For me my life is like a loan given from God, and I will give it back with interest.” Andy Wimmer, volunteer at the Home For the Dying.

Gratitude, compassion, love, these are spiritual emotions and they make you think of things bigger than yourself.  If you only seek your own happiness, it can be a selfish thing. But once you move to the spiritual emotions and begin to worry about the well-being of the world, life grows.  You care about something bigger than yourself.  You can in a way transcend your own life, your own death by caring about these things that are bigger than yourself.

If each of us spent a smidgen of time each day actually practicing to cultivate “happiness” and also other compassionate qualities like compassion and altruism, the world could be a better place and we would be transforming our brains in very positive way.

It’s not about, “I must change my life and cut off my past, and I’ll be a better person.”  It’s not about that – the trick is that you should be authentically you.  We should look at happiness as a skill, which is no different than learning how to play the violin or learning to play golf.

The formula for happiness is not the same for everyone.  But the good news is that the things we love to do, are the building blocks for a happy life. Play. Having new experiences. Friends and family.  Doing things that are meaningful.  Appreciating what we have. These are the things that make us happy – and they are free.  And with happiness the more you have, the more everyone has.

Happy” A documentary directed by Roko Belic

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rewriting the Past in Pulp

Django Unchained
starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Welcome to alternative History 101 with Professor Quentin Tarantino. In his last class, cataloged as Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino burned down the damn Third Reich, Hitler included. This time, with Django Unchained, he lines up slave traders so a black man can blow their fool heads off. Fuck the facts. Like Sergio Corbucci, who directed the first Django (starring Franco Nero), in 1966, Tarantino obeys the only commandment that counts in exploitation movies: Anything goes.

Who else but Tarantino would choose to target human trafficking in the form of a spaghetti Western set in the Deep South two years before the Civil War? And who else would do it to a wowser of a soundtrack that includes a taste of Ennio Morricone, a mash-up of James Brown and Tupac Shakur, and original 66 songs from Rick Ross, Anthony Hamilton and John Legend?

Django Unchained is literally all over the place. It twists and turns over an unbridled two hours and 45 minutes, giving history (and your stamina) a serious pounding. It limps, sputters and repeats itself. It explodes with violence and talk, talk, talk. Tarantino's characters would be lost in the Twitterverse - there's no end to his tasty dialogue. Not that you'll care. You'll be having too much fun. Django Unchained is outrageously entertaining, an exhilarating rush. You'll laugh like hell at a KKK scene in which the Klansmen, wearing bags on their heads, stumble around blindly on their horses because the eyes on their bags have been cut out wrong. Look out for Jon ah Hill as Bag Head No. 2. Unchain Tarantino and you get a jolt of pure cinema, dazzling, disreputable and thrillingly alive.

The plot kicks in when Django (Jamie Foxx on low simmer) is bought by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German-born dentist-turned-bountyhunter whose wagon still sports a giant tooth. King is a great Tarantino character. Waltz, who won an Oscar for playing Nazi colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, is again spectacular in his blend of mirth and menace. King needs Django to ID the Brittle brothers, varmints worth a huge bounty, dead or alive. His reward is freedom. But Django needs King to locate his enslaved wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington).

The slaughter starts when Django and King arrive at Bennett Manor, where even Big Daddy Bennett (Don Johnson, pimped out and loving it) can't stop the Brittle takedown. Job done, King advises Django to head off for a more enlightened part of the country. But Django won't rest till he finds his love. And so begins the journey, beautifully shot in sun and snow by Robert Richardson.

The final destination is Candyland, the slave plantation run by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio, having a ball as a charming, posturing sociopath who trains Mandingo warriors for sale and sport). Under the supervision of house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), Candie dishes out whippings, brandings, beatings, dog attacks and castration. "Is that a nigger on a horse?" asks Stephen, rubbing his eyes in disbelief as Django rides in. Jackson, the tormented soul of Pulp Fiction, is outstanding at locating the complexities in this Uncle Tom with an agenda.

At Candyland, Django finds Broomhilda nearly dead as punishment for an attempted escape. Django is coiled to spring, but holds back during a nerve-shattering dinner scene in which he listens as Candie and Stephen talk of Broomhilda as flesh for use and abuse.

When Django's revenge does come, it's a gore-splattering doozy. Foxx, giving Django his cool-dude props at last, morphs into a cowboy John Shaft and opens fire. There's something here to offend everyone. Revenge fantasies don't leave much room for moral lessons. Django is out for blood. So is Tarantino, but he doesn't sacrifice his humanity or conscience to do it. In this corrective to Gone With the Wind, he sticks it to Hollywood for a Mandingo Mammy fixation that leaves the issues of slavery out of mainstream movies. He sticks it to Spike Lee, who once objected to Tarantino's use of then-word in 1997's Jackie Brown, by spraying the word like machine-gun fire. And he sticks it to pundits who think he crosses the line by reveling in Django's vengeance. Wake up, people. Tarantino lives to cross the line. Is Django Unchained too much? Damn straight. It wouldn't be Tarantino otherwise.

Review by Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, 17 January 2013

Spotlight: Kerry Washington

She plays the wife of bounty hunter and former slave Django (Jamie Foxx), who sets off to rescue her from plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Diango Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's second rollicking, shoot-'em-up revenge fantasy involving a historical atrocity (see Inglourious Basterds). But please don't tell Kerry Washington the movie looks like "fun." It is about "total fear, and emotional and spiritual imprisonment," says the feisty 35-year-old. At one point during the filming, Washington was so spent that "Jamie leaned over and said, 'It's going to be O.K., Olivia.'" By which he meant Olivia Pope, the sashaying, often ruthless Washington, D.C., fixer the actress plays in Scandal (now in its second season on ABC). "I was going from running barefoot in the forest to wearing platform Gucci pumps," she says. Fabulous footwear aside, the program is the first hour-long network drama to star an African-American woman since Teresa Graves in Gel Christie Love!, almost 40 years ago. "I didn't feel pressure for myself. I felt pressure for this country," she says of the milestone. "Were we all ready to have a black woman be the center of an hour-long drama?" Detect a streak of social consciousness? Washington serves on President Obama's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and has long lobbied Congress to protect funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. When she was "a latchkey kid growing up in the Bronx, the N.E.A. was my third parent," she says. Thanks to the N.E.A., "I was able to go to ballet class and have piano lessons and be in the children's theater company." The image of crack vials on the sidewalk on her way to dance class in the early 80s still makes her shudder for the girl she could have become. If not for the N.E.A., "where would I have been going and what would I have been doing?"

by Evgenia Peretz, Vanity Fair, February 2013

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Champion - An Opera in Jazz

What if your greatest professional triumph – a triumph the world cheered – was also your greatest personal tragedy? In 1962, World Welterweight Champion Emile Griffith claimed his title in a televised match that resulted in the death of his opponent Benny “The Kid” Paret. The fight would transform Griffith into a contemporary tragic hero – a man of strength and courage, consumed ultimately by regret and by the truth of what may have caused his terrible rage that night.

Featuring Denyce Graves, Aubrey Allicock, Robert Orth, and Arthur Woodley. Terence Blanchard, Composer.

Single Tickets go on sale February 23, 2013 - Opera Theatre of Saint Louis performances: June 15, 19, 21, 25, 27, 30, 2013.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

"SILVER RAIN" by Nicole Cabell

Silver Rain, a collection of twenty-one songs by Ricky Ian Gordon with texts by African-American poet Langston Hughes, is Nicole Cabell's second solo album, following her 2007 recital of opera arias on Decca. This new release on the Blue Griffin label shows Cabell in a different light from that first outing, with the soprano's tone now a bit mellower but still intrinsically exquisite and possessing depth, shimmer and a rich-hued dusky quality that thrills the ear and stirs the heart.

The songs - which include eleven selections handpicked by Gordon and Cabell, in addition to the ten-song cycle Genius Child- are strongly American in flavor and jazzily impressionistic, the piano "painting" an aural representation of Hughes's evocative poetry. Accompanied sensitively by the composer at the piano, Cabell spins Gordon's lyrical but wide ranging vocal lines with ease and expresses the texts with crisp diction that rarely sounds forced or unnatural. There are some vocal inconsistencies that creep into the performance - most notably the occasional slowing of Cabell's rather prominent vibrato and moments of inaccurate intonation (such as the last note of "Stars"). However, the luscious beauty of Cabell's voice and the intelligence of her delivery more than compensate for any shortcomings.

As with practically any disc featuring only a single voice and the works of one composer, the program threatens to become monotonous at times; taken in smaller doses, however, there is much to savor. Each of the songs selected for the album's first half is its own small gem, reflecting for the most part a positive view of life and hope for the future of the human race. Particularly noteworthy are Cabell's joyful exuberance in "Heaven" and "Harlem Night Song," her wistful optimism in "Stars" and "Daybreak in Alabama'' (which features a stunning high B), and the playful seduction in "Port Town." The program's second half, devoted to Genius Child, adopts a more solemn tone ("Winter Moon," "Kid in the Park," "Troubled Woman," etc.), and Cabell continues to interpret effectively. Some parts of this cycle are less consistently memorable than the material presented in the disc's first half, but there are magical moments to be found, such as the yearning in Cabell's voice on the final note of "Prayer."

The album has been intimately recorded, but rather unrealistically so, with both piano and voice quite close and fleshed out by artificial reverb. This lack of "air" around Cabell's voice has a tendency to dampen some of its natural overtones, suppress pronounced sibilants and lend a slightly hollow/boxy quality to the voice's lower range. The piano fares better, sounding full yet appropriately crisp and bright on higher notes.

Included in the accompanying booklet are Ricky Ian Gordon's candid remarks about his own compositional habits and inspirations, as well as his collaborations with Cabell and soprano Harolyn Blackwell, for whom Genius Child was originally composed.
Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon. Blue Griffin Recording BGR253

Review by Derek Greten-Harrison, Opera News, January 2013.

Mr. President, End This War

As a teenager, Barack Obama liked to get high in the back of a friend's VW bus. His hallmark: a smoking technique he called Total Absorption. He knows as did George W. Bush and Bill Clinton before him, what we all know: that pot is essentially harmless. Yet the government continues to wage a senseless and costly war on marijuana, treating pot as if it were more dangerous than crack cocaine.

More than 750,000 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges last year - 87 percent for simple possession. The costs are staggering - nearly $8 billion a year wasted on police and prisons alone, with billions more squandered by not taxing pot like tobacco or alcohol. In Mexico - where nearly two-thirds of the pot smoked in this country originates – drug violence has claimed nearly 50,000 lives since 2006. Yet all the while, demand for pot has increased like wildfire: Nearly 30 million Americans enjoyed pot at least once last year.

Mr. President, this war is a sham, a folly, a colossal waste of money and human potential. And you can end it with a few strokes of your pen. Through executive order, you can advance life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and begin to bring another mindless war to a responsible conclusion. All it requires the same courage you displayed on gay marriage. Simply say in your heart - what you know to be true.

by Jann S. Wenner, Rolling Stone, 3 January 2013