Monday, March 26, 2012
Mrs. Colorado America 2012 is Courtney Graham.
Erica resides in Golden, Colorado with her husband Rajiv, and children Priya, Taj, and Asha.
She plans to compete again next year, with the loving support of all of her and her husband's family.
(This post made by Al Cooper's daughter Cindy...proud mama to Erica! As a point of interest, Erica inherited her lovely red hair from Al Cooper's mother Albertina Edrehi Cooper).
Monday, March 5, 2012
Recently, I found myself the subject of an animated discussion in a Wal-Mart check-out line, when the clerk asked for some identification. As I went to comply, another shopper standing nearby challenged the checker with the words “Well you know HIM, don’t you!” When I had the chance, I quietly asked my “defender” how she knew me. “Well I should” she responded, “I hear you on the radio all the time. Nobody else sounds anything like you”. Both a little embarrassed and somewhat flattered, I had to admit to myself that even after 42 years in Utah, my public voice is the product of New Jersey roots, Vermont schooling, and a lifetime of being shaped by a love affair with language and rhetoric. Just as people have fingerprints which are unique to them, an entire forensic science has developed around the concept of “word print” analysis recognizing that each member of the Human race has an aural identity different than that of any other.
Because this is true, I cannot help but think about those voices which have impacted, and continue to have an effect on our history and our everyday life. Even those who were not yet alive during the WWII years, immediately recognize the voice of Winston Churchill urging his nation to “fight on the beaches” and” in the fields” and to “never surrender”, and FDR’s grim reference to “a day which will live in infamy”. A lifelong “audiophile” I thrill to the magnificent sonority of Richard Burton’s voice as he reads lines from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” on my 50-year old Sony tape play-back deck connected to a Harmon Cardon vacuum-tube-powered amplifier system of the same vintage. The late Burton once explained that “for the five hours I play Hamlet, I AM Hamlet!”, and all I have to do today is close my eyes as the tape unwinds and I am there in the audience, breathless at a performance recorded 46 years ago by a voice which has no peer.
Any morning I awaken to a need to be reminded of how much I have to feel good about, I slip on a recording of the inimitable Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World”, in that gravely voice formed in throat chords so as to protect a diaphragm vital to his cornet playing; no other voice in the world could imitate that of the great “Satchmo”.
Another great dramatic voice we all recognize immediately is that of James Earl Jones who – among dozens of other roles – was the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars series, and that of Mufasa in “Lion King”. His deep authoritative voice greets users of public pay phones in the South with his “Welcome to Bell Atlantic”. What few of his admiring public might realize is that Jones, often thought of by fellow professionals as “The Voice”, was born with a stuttering disability which he has had to fight all his life. “One of the hardest things in life”, he has said, “is having words in your heart that you can’t utter”.
One of my all-time favorite voices is that of actor William Conrad, who played Matt Dillon in “Gunsmoke” during its days on radio, and then went on to narrate “Tales of the Unexpected” and “How The West Was Won” in the world of television and film. Altogether, his deep, clear-throated voice found its way into more than 7,500 radio dramas. The late Conrad was one of many talented actors who failed to see their radio roles translate into television because they didn’t “LOOK the part”!
Walt Disney and the cartoons he brought to the film medium brought fame for the likes of Mel Blanc – known as the “man of a thousand voices” – with his invented vocal identities for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Wil-E-Coyote, Woody Woodpecker and The Flintstones’ Barney Rubble. It gave a “second life” to actors like Ernest Borgnine (Spongebob Squarepants) and Jim Backus, (The Nearsighted Mr. Magoo).
Voices must invest the animated characters they portray with the character and personality traits envisioned and embraced by the voice-actor playing the role. A good example is Ed Asner’s voice of the grumpy, curmudgeonly Carl Frederickson in the award-winning movie favorite, “UP!” .
As I finish the final paragraph of each column or essay I write, I hear the voice of the actor Lawrence Dobkin as he signed off after each television broadcast of the long-running “Naked City” drama ringing in my listening ear: “There are eight million stories in the Naked City, and this has been one of them.”
Born into extreme poverty in New Orleans in the early days of the 20th century, Louis Armstrong went on to become the quintessential American musician of the Jazz Era, with a hot trumpet and raspy voice that continue to stir generations. His hallmark rendering of “What a Wonderful World” became the background theme for the movie, “Good-Morning Viet Nam”.
Library of Congress photo
Library of Congress photo
The crusty voice of Hollywood actor Ed Asner painted the perfect character-picture for the curmudgeonly Carl Frederickson in the popular animated motion picture UP!.
There are “tipping points” in history; moments when something occurs which will have far-reaching consequences which become visible only long after the event. A somewhat-forgotten clash of arms which took place near Maumee, Ohio (south of present-day Toledo) on August 20th, 1794 is one of those occasions.
In order to properly set the stage for this story, it is important to dismiss two myths. The first is the supposition that the American Revolution and the loss of the colonies by England was finally settled with the victory at Yorktown and the signing of the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The second is the idea that the ignominious loss of 268 U.S. Cavalry soldiers under George Armstrong Custer at the Little Big Horn in 1876 was the largest single – and most embarrassing – defeat in skirmishes between the U.S. Military and Native American warriors in the long drama of western settlement. Neither is true.
By 1791, the English and their tribal allies in the recent war, (a confederation of Shawnees, Miamis and Delewares) still occupied and defended forts along the Ohio River and throughout what was known then as “The Northwest Territory” of America. With easy supply routes from Canada, the English had by no means abandoned their belief that a weak and tentative administration under George Washington would not last. Add to that the fact that the Indians had not been informed of any new arrangement between the former warring parties, and it becomes even easier to see how Chief Little Turtle of the Miamis and Blue Jacket, leader of the Shawnees could be influenced to take up arms against a force sent by Washington to take over the forts and protect settlers pouring into the land. What followed on November 4th, as General Arthur St. Clair led a force of over 1,000 poorly-trained and badly-outfitted U.S. soldiers against Fort Recovery has come to be known as “The Battle of the Wabash”, and the greatest defeat ever suffered by the United States Army in all of the 100 years of Indian wars. Only 48 of the 1000 walked away unharmed, and 700, including women and children were dead, at a cost to the Indian Confederacy of only 21.
Not only did this shock the young nation, but it sent political and diplomatic ripples across the watching world, threatening the very underpinnings of the new Constitution and the ability of the new government under Washington to defend what it had only so recently attained.
(Much could be written about the arrogant ineptitude of St. Clair, and the downright incompetence of a “War Department” lacking imagination, funding and leadership, but space is lacking at the moment.)
President George Washington, humiliated and chagrined, called Brigadier General Anthony Wayne out of a well-deserved retirement on his Georgia plantation, giving him command of a newly (and imaginatively) named “Legion of the United States”, with the challenge to clean up St. Clair’s mess, and secure the safety of the Northwest frontier. Wayne had emerged from the Revolution as one of Washington’s most talented and successful field commanders, famous for personally leading his men into battle in bayonet attacks which overcame, in sheer audacity, a vastly superior number of “red coats”, winning him the sobriquet “Mad Anthony” Wayne. (On one occasion, the ill General was carried in the arms of his men in such a head-on attack, his legs temporarily crippled by the severe gout which eventually ended his life at age 51.)
“Mad Anthony” began by introducing his men – war veterans and new recruits alike – to a demanding training regimen which may have been America’s first use of military “basic” training. After establishing a base of operations at Fort Discovery, he led his men against the assembled Indian Confederacy of three tribes in an all-out assault at a place strewn with trees toppled by a tornado and known in history as “Fallen Timbers”.
Thus, “Mad Anthony” Wayne put an end to the Indian rebellion, sent the British packing, and successfully fought what some historians believe was the “final Battle of the American Revolution”. On all counts, it changed history by signaling the world that the constitution would stand, and the United States was here to stay.
Hero of the Revolution, member of Congress from two states, constitutional delegate, author of Indian treaties and American patriot, General Wayne might well have become U.S. President had he not died young. Dozens of cities, counties, towns and schools in fifteen states carry his name today, while a 1929 U.S. postage stamp honoring “Mad Anthony” and the Battle of Fallen Timbers is sought after by collectors.