Saturday, May 23, 2009

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier has recently applied for a parole hearing. That hearing is scheduled for my birthday, July 27, 2009.

Leonard Peltier was an activist in the American Indian Movement who had gone to help the Oglala Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation in June 1975 when a shootout occurred with FBI agents. Accused of the murder of two agents, Peltier fled to Canada, believing he would never receive a fair trial in the US. In February 1976, the FBI knowingly presented the Canadian court with fraudulent affidavits, and Peltier was returned to the U.S. for trial. In a controversial trial in which evidence was fabricated and witnesses threatened and coerced, Peltier was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

Facts and details of Leonard's case can be read at the following site:

While in prison Mr. Peltier has won awards for his work and support of humanitarian causes and twice has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Although limited by the prison environment, Mr. Peltier has emerged as a master of Indigenous Art. Leonard’s artwork reflects his beliefs and commitment to Native American culture. It is The People’s struggle to survive and his desire to portray their cultural beauty that inspires Peltier to paint. Art professionals marvel at the number and quality of the paintings Peltier produces.
By donating his paintings to the Leonard Peltier Charitable Foundation, he was able to supply computers and educational supplies such as books and encyclopedias to libraries and families on Pine Ridge Reservation.
This is one of Leonard Peltier's beautiful paintings.

Leonard Peltier has been widely recognized for his efforts and has won several human rights awards, including the North Star Frederick Douglas Award, Humanist of the Year Award, and the International Human Rights Prize.

If you would like to sign a petition for Leonard Peltier's release, you can do so at this website.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh! Oh! Oh!

So, did everybody watch American Idol? I'm just too excited! If there is anyone alive and breathing who didn't see American Idol let me tell you, the two finalists are two of the most talented and likeable fellows you could imagine. Adam Lambert and Kris Allen are fantastic!

Kris Allen is the winner of the competition, and a superb musician and singer. He's an accomplished pianist and guitarist with a strong, unique voice. And cute? Even ol' Simon Cowell said Kris was truly the most likeable contestant ever on the show. And he has that special ability of connecting with the audience that makes his performances heart-stopping and magical.

Adam Lambert, a dynamic singer with a remarkable stage presence came in second.

Can't wait to hear more from these two guys!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Looking for a Few Good Movies ...

Here at The Painted Possum, from time to time I'll talk about some REALLY GOOD MOVIES. If anyone out there wants to make suggestions for future posts, or has comments about my selections, let me know.

Places in the Heart (1984)

Truly one of the best movies ever, a flawless classic. Set in 1935, Waxahachie, TX, Edna Spalding is alone and financially destitute, after the accidental shooting of her Sheriff husband. Living on a small farm in the middle of America's Great Depression, she is helped by a wandering cotton farmer, Moses, and a blind border, Mr. Will, who teach her how to appreciate life, despite tragedy and hardships.

Reasons why I love this movie?

Places in the Heart came out in 1984, and at that time my daughter, whose nickname had been Possum since her birth in 1979, was five years old, about the same age as the "Possum" in this movie.

Danny Glover ... need I say more? He always brings a touch of magic to any film he's in. He's one of the best.

Sally Field, of course, is always funny and believable. She makes the characters she plays seem real.

And John Malkovich ! This was the first time I had seen John Malkovich. His acting was so superb, I was stunned. And I thought, "How wonderful that a blind person can become a great actor!" That's how convincing he is in this role.

(Many scenes are too violent for children)

Crimes of the Heart (1986)

Crimes of the Heart is the story of three eccentric southern sisters, who have all reunited one hot summer at their family home after the youngest, Babe, has shot her husband, and the grandfather (Old Paw) of the three woman is succumbing to old age.

Sissy Spacek, Jessica Lange, Diane Keaton, and Sam Shepard unite to make this movie hilariously funny, touching, and most memorable. I love the humor. One unforgettable line is Jessica Lange complaining about Sam Shepard's "Yankee wife and his little half-Yankee children."
(Southern gothic drama)

A Family Thing (1996)

Starring Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones, this is one of my favorites. Two middle-aged men, one white, one black, suddenly discover that they are literally brothers.

Any other writers handed this premise would probably play it for cheap laughs, but Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson made an earnest drama out of it, one lightened by a few affectionate laughs and much heartfelt sentimentality.

The movie is about the ways Earl Pilcher (Robert Duvall) and Ray Murdock (James Earl Jones) slowly, grudgingly, come to terms with this news and open themselves up to each other.

Funny and sincere.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

One Little Turtle

Look who's back! This quaint little fellow visits my yard in the Spring, and this year he appeared on Mother's Day week-end. What a delightful surprise!

Sir Turtle has the most beautiful designs on his back and face, and is so astute in his demeanor. He seemed to enjoy having his picture made.

Here's Aussie, taking a peek at our visitor.

After visiting with the kitties, who were intrigued by varying degrees, Sir Turtle sat appraising the green plastic yard rake for quite a while.

Mr. Humphreys says "What is it?"

Then turtle headed for cover,
and burrowed into the pinestraw
under our persimmon tree.

This turtle is very talented at disappearing.
When the cats and I searched for him later, he was nowhere to be found.

Aussie says
"Where'd he go?"

Wiley says
"Where'd who go?"

Guess we'll see him next spring!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Folks

My cousin, Chris Isbell, made copies of some old family photos that had been in my Great Aunt Annie's possession for many years. This was the first time I had seen these fantastic pictures of these truly remarkable people.

These sweet folks are my grandparents, Alvetta (Vettie) and Reed Roe Ramey, and their first child, my daddy, Gordy Ramey. Isn't this a beautiful child?

Here's a close-up of Gordy, Gordon Monroe Ramey.

His resemblance to my grandson, Reed Daniel, is remarkable!

Here's my little Reedy with his Easter basket, looking for eggs.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Derby Day Delight

I hope EVERYONE watched the Kentucky Derby yesterday. I'm still dancing a jig over the winner with the funny name, Mine That Bird. What a beautiful horse, and what a stunning victory! With odds of 50 - 1, seems nobody saw it coming. But that horse made it look so easy, winning by 6 3/4-lengths.

And that jockey! Have you ever seen anyone so happy? And he seemed to bear an uncanny resemblance to Red Pollard, who rode the most famous equine ever, Seabiscuit.

You can go here to watch a replay of yesterday's amazing Mine That Bird victory.

Other Derby info: My daughter, India, was born on Monday after Derby Week-end, so now her birthday is always on or near Derby Day. Tomorrow we'll be celebrating her delightful arrival on this planet. Here she is, as cute as she can be, and grinning like a possum, of course. India's paternal grandmother, known to all as Peanut, was a native Kentuckian and lived in Louisville, Kentucky. What a very beautiful, pleasant place!

We had a hard time picking a name when India was born, because (1) the doctor said we were having a boy, (2) a close relative had just given birth to a daughter and used all three girl names we liked, and (3) my best friend Phil Mitchell wanted me to name her Jump Sturdy, a name from a Dr. John song! So we elected to name our little sweetie India from the book Gone With the Wind. A good Southern name for a beautiful Southern belle.

I've tried to find Dr. John singing "Jump Sturdy" from his GRIS GRIS album, with no success. If anyone can find Jump Sturdy on YouTube, let me know. My best advice to everyone is, just buy the album. It's spectacular.