Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Geopolitics’ Category

Just Trying to Get By…

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As the blog title says, the mood around Chez Caffrey tonight is exactly that: trying to get by.

I can’t ignore the stresses in the world. They bother me. And I can do so little about them.

For example, I hate it that the people in Hong Kong, who are protesting for democracy, are not being backed up by the United States in word or deed. (I don’t want the U.S. to go to war with China. But this is a situation where diplomacy might’ve done some good. Yet the Congress, as well as the President, remains for the most part eerily silent.)

I also am unhappy by much of what I’ve seen and heard regarding the impeachment inquiry in the U.S. Congress. Everything I’ve read (and I have read the entire 300-page report put out by the Congress yesterday) shows that President Trump seems to believe that Presidents are like Kings, and can do whatever they like. I can’t abide that. And I don’t understand why others can.

Mind, I believe in the rule of law. If the Senate, which probably will get the impeachment from the House sooner or later (the House hasn’t taken a vote yet), refuses to carefully ponder the evidence, I will be extremely unhappy. And if they do what Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) has already said he will and refuse to even read the evidence, that will make me furious.

These people are not being paid to duck the evidence. They are being paid to do what is in the best interests of the country.

Not their party. The country.

Anyway, I mention all of this because it does weigh on my mind. And I can do so little about it.

What I can do, mind, is write about it. (Which you see, for what good it does.) I can register people to vote when my health is strong enough. I can also weigh the evidence, when it fully comes out, in my own mind, with my own knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, and decide for myself what I’d do if I were in the Senate.

(Hint, hint: I do not believe in party over country. I believe in what John McCain did. Country over party. Or as John Quincy Adams said, “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone.”)

Mind, if the evidence ultimately isn’t there, then it’s not. (Though it’s hard to believe right now there won’t be enough evidence to show that. And if you doubt me, go read that report and put “Obama” in there instead of Trump. Would you think this behavior is OK then? But I digress.)

The evidence should be heard, should be weighed, should be measured…and if the folks in the Senate who are apparently blinded by Donald Trump’s cult of personality can’t figure out that what the current president has done will be used as a measuring stick for all presidents to follow, then they are idiots. (And should be voted out of office forthwith.)

Anyway, I see all this, and wonder what in the Hell the point is. There’s so little I can affect. And it bothers me.

But all I can do, from day to day, is be my best self.

(And so should you, even though it may seem completely pointless to try.)

So, I’ll keep on trying to get by. And as I do that, I’ll continue to work on my writing, my editing, my music, and whatever other abilities I have that can do some people some good somewhere…as that’s all I know how to do.


P.S. We still do live in a free society. I am grateful for this. I am able to say what I feel, in a way I feel is right, and not be hauled off to jail for doing so.

May it continue ever so.

Pianist Van Cliburn Dies at 78

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Very few classical musicians ever become known worldwide.  Van Cliburn was one of those few.

Cliburn, who died at age 78 of bone cancer earlier today, was the first American ever to win the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow (then part of the Soviet Union) in 1958 at the age of 23.  He was a Cold War hero ever after, as well as being a symbol of how powerfully music can communicate when, seemingly, nothing else can.

Here’s a link to the Associated Press article about Cliburn, written by Angela K. Brown (courtesy of   It gives further information about Cliburn’s life, career, touring and popularity, and is an excellent overview of what Cliburn was all about.

But to musicians, Cliburn was about much more than mere symbolism.  He played in an extravagant, romantic way that nevertheless effectively communicated any style of music he cared to play.   He believed that people should be able to tell if music made sense whether or not they were trained classical musicians, because music was and is intended to move others — and it’s been that way ever since we lived in caves and played prehistoric instruments.

Cliburn played so well that nearly all of his “signature pieces” were recorded. has a list of his recordings, including a compilation of all of his known albums.  Mostly, he played well-known pieces from the Romantic period — composers like Brahms, Beethoven, Schumann, and Lizst — but he also enjoyed Debussy, Ravel, and some 20th century composers.

The Washington Post obituary for Cliburn reveals more information about why Cliburn rarely played in public after 1974.  Apparently fame was quite difficult for him to bear, as was the constant touring of his chosen profession.  Cliburn needed time to rest and recharge his batteries.

After that, Cliburn’s talent was still apparent, but his playing wasn’t as sharp or clean.  He sometimes forgot passages, which proves how human he could be (all pianists must memorize their pieces, and when you’re memorizing three or four pieces of at least twenty minutes in duration for a concert, even the most brilliant person with the best memory can make mistakes).  He was still a great pianist, but no longer in his prime — yet he continued to play, and give the audience excellent musical experiences, which was a testimony to his professionalism.

See, even a musician past his or her prime can still thrill an audience.  We tend to forget that, as a society, because we celebrate youth, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.  But Cliburn was able to prove that a musician of great gifts can still give something back in his performances, even into what most would consider to be an advanced age.

Cliburn’s recordings should help everyone remember just how much talent a young man from Texas had, once upon a time.  And how he did his best to convert upon that talent, even if not all music critics believed that he’d fully lived up to his potential.

Cliburn leaves behind many friends and a long-time male companion, as well as many people who adored his music and couldn’t get enough of it, to honor his memory.  Thanks to the magic of sound recording, we’ll be able to remember Cliburn and his major musical talent for decades to come.

Really, all any artist can ask for, upon his or her death, is that people remember him and what he did.  That’s the standard of success, when it comes right down to it . . . and Cliburn met that.

May his eternity be ever-bright.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Check out the Politiwhat blog’s story “The American Imperative”

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Folks, if you like my blog, you almost certainly will like the Politiwhat blog as well . . . a good friend of mine writes this and came up with a very scholarly and erudite post about the killing of Osama bin Laden and how it should not be the impetus to precipitously pull people out of Afghanistan.

Here’s a link to his very interesting blog post:

Go read it, and educate yourself.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 8, 2011 at 9:47 pm