Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatar: This One Goes to 11

You have heard all the hype: here is Falcon and Dove’s spoiler-free preview/review of AVATAR. Simply put, it is the best film of the 21st Century. It is performance driven, although the world of Pandora is magnificent, reminds Falcon of Roger Dean artwork from all those YES albums over the decades. The world is rainforest, indigenous (including the diverse cast, including Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, and Tsalagi actor, Wes Studi, who played Geronimo in a film of the same name back in the 1990’s), gorgeous. There is so much beauty in this film, you may weep just from its images, but there is so much more that may moisten your eyes in this film, especially if you look at the edges, and pay attention to some of the subtle symbols in every frame.

We didn’t catch a single technical error, which is impressive. We usually see some piece of film with the image spliced backwards, some continuity problem, some special effect that just didn’t work, or some boom in a shot. Not here. Not anywhere on the first view, and we saw it in 3-D IMAX.

The acting is strong, and in a special effects laden film, that may surprise some. The secret is in the three layers that bring authentic action to the forefront: visual effects with motion capture and rotoscoping, along with performance capture technology. If you haven’t heard of third option, that is because James Cameron pushed the special effects teams to the limit, and created a new way of getting the effects in front of the director in real time while capturing the performance of the actors. It is nothing short of incredible, and will change filmmaking. For those of you who missed the beginning of the STAR WARS dynasty, this is your moment-a new dawn has emerged. Celebrate.

You won’t want to miss anything, so get your munchies before the film starts.

There is a lot we could say about the film’s content, but it would give too much away. It is a film nearly everyone can enjoy, although very young children (under 4) may not like the length. There is action, drama, lots of tense moments, and some very thoughtful ones.
‘Nuff said. Simply put, see this film. Everyone else will.

Falcon and Dove

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Golden Globe Nominations Announced!!!

Hello World Family!
Falcon here with an analysis of the Golden Globe nominations. What a broad based list of superb contenders! Small films, independents, and strong Hollywood films all make an appearance. This may be the most balanced, fully-stocked with goodies award season in years. The Best Picture Nominations are: The Hurt Locker, Precious, Inglorious Bastards, Avatar, and Up in the Air. WOW!!! Can’t we just give them all the Best Pic and be done with it?! They are all excellent films, all for different reasons.

The Best Actress category is no easier, with Precious actress along side Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side, and Helen Mirren for The Last Station. The category is rounded out with young actresses Emily Blunt, who was delightful as The Young Victoria and Carey Mulligan in An Education. Three of these five we viewed in Savannah at the film fest and this will be another tough category for competition. I agree that getting the nomination is quite the honor.

Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart was a bit of a surprise, and I am happy to see him there. Colin Firth did an amazing job in A Single Man; Morgan Freeman is my favorite for this category because he plays Nelson Mandela and the film has Rugby-Invictus. The ever-present George Clooney for Up in the Air and Tobey Maguire surprises in the powerful and emotional, Brothers. Every one of these actors is so strong it is going to be tough to narrow down a winner. Can we have a tie?

The most difficult category for the judges? I think best animated feature, which has five of the most visually enchanting and extraordinary productions side by side in film history. Yes, it’s that good: The stop-motion masterpiece Coraline is not only a great tale, but the excruciatingly difficult details and work that shot approximately 4 seconds per week for years deserves a category award all its own. Fantastic Mr. Fox is another impressive work, along side with Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Disney’s new tale, The Princess and the Frog. How do you choose?! How can you choose?! The biggest winners are audiences this year who get to see all of them!

The most interesting nominations? Well, we can start with Robert Downey, Jr. for Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Does this guy have a broad spectrum or what?! He may be one of the most brilliant actors of a generation, and he has a lot of fun while he’s doing it. Matt Damon gets a double dip for noms both in The Informant and Invictus.

More great surprises: Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director, The Hurt Locker. This is an intense, never lets up film that must be seen. I suppose Quentin Tarrantino is dancing in the street after his Best Director nom for Inglorious Bastards.

Woody Harrelson got his Best Actor in a Supporting Role nomination for The Messenger as well he should-along side other nominated thespians Christopher Plummer (The Last Station) and Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones). My mouth is watering already. Yum!

Mo’Nique has a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her brutal portrayal of the worse mommy ever in Precious and she deserves every bit of it.

Other expected nominations of note include Nine (8 ½ gone just a little further with a strong ensemble cast of all my favorites), some attention for It’s Complicated and some music nominations for scores-Where the Wild Things Are and Avatar.

On the television side of things, it all looks good with nominations for productions of Georgia O’Keefe, Dexter, The Mentalist, Mad Men (go Charles Shaughnessy), Wallander: One Step Behind (a nom for Kenneth Brannagh), 30-Rock…all the good stuff. Yes, House and The Closer are in contention again. Love these shows and television movies!

For a complete list of nominees, please go to the Golden Globe website. The awards will air on January 17.

Falcon and Dove

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tiger Woods: Ordinary Man

Hey World Family,
You knew Falcon and Dove were going to have to comment eventually on this issue. We would like to take a thoughtful approach, acknowledging that one day Sam and Axel will be older and able to read about these exploits, and hopefully, there will be some reading material that tries to encapsulate the larger meaning for them and the sport Tiger plays. It is them we have in mind as we pen these comments.

Elin, so sorry that he did this; I know (believe me, Falcon knows) this is hurting you in a way you never felt before, but you are strong, and I know that you are thinking your way through this to make the best decisions for yourself and your children. Do what you have to do; welcome your true support system and give yourself time…lots of time, to evaluate where you want to go eventually; but for now, get yourself to a safe place where you can think and your children can thrive with loved ones around you all. That is the most important thing you can do for you own mental and spiritual health.

Second, make your financial plans carefully. Leave no stone unturned. Get assistance from those with the expertise to assist you. Do not listen to the toxic talk out there. What is true or isn’t true in the gory details is not important, ultimately. You know the broad strokes, follow through from there.

To the Golf World: Wow; this is one of the big ones, isn’t it? Yikes. Football, basketball…they have had their troublesome players, but this one in golf? Unthinkable, eh? Until now…

Not really. Golf has always had its debaucheries. There are some guys on the tour right now that have their challenges, but after all, they are just guys…this was a god.

That seems to have been the problem; a lot of glossed over and overlooked for the mantle of false perfection (why do all these egomaniacs seek ‘perfection’?) and the hope was that the cracks would never show, much less a complete collapse of the false face. Oh well, stuff happens. Someone probably should have thought of Tiger as just another guy like so many and figured that sooner or later his ‘time was gonna come’. Maybe some friendly, sober advice on why and how this might collapse and how it might impact the game and how endorsements and sponsorships are handled in the future would have been nice.

Think this won’t impact future endorsements? Guess again. The party is over, my friends. Over and done. The day of the billion dollar athlete has closed. It has evaporated. If anyone out there thinks that any company will ever put their reputation on the line again banking on the integrity of a single man’s image with respect to alignment with their firm, you are mistaken. Those days are done. Endorsements will now be more modest, more sensible, and more in line with reality. People are human, make mistakes, and can be brought down by controversy that many may not see coming. No company is ever going to bank roll a game to the tune that was done with Tiger again. Not ever.
Don’t worry guys (and we say guys because female athletes never see the endorsement contracts that men do), there will still be plenty out there to be made. If Tiger returns as a strong golf contender, he will get endorsements, but maybe not from the same companies he did previously. We don’t think too many will just cut him off (like Accenture), but agreements will probably be allowed to expire. Tiger should start planning for a future where he will actually have to play to get paid, not just get millions for showing up… like an ordinary golfer on the PGA Tour.

To Tiger: We think it goes without saying that you probably were not ready to get married when you did. You may not be marriage material at all. It is clear your father prepared you to be a prophecy fulfilled, he just didn’t prepare you to be an emotionally mature, spiritually evolved man. He didn’t realize that denying you a proper childhood and feeding into the larger egocentric desires would create a son who was incapable of getting past the oral fixation level of desiring immediate satisfaction from where ever it would come from, regardless of the limitations, moral obligations, or feelings of others. You are not alone; there are so many just like you, so the money and fame are not the only components. Plenty of regular guys are just as screwed up as you are. Take comfort in the fact that you are nothing new under the sun in that respect, and that although your talent for hitting a little ball into a hole is admirable, and your foundation work is striking, we think of you like any other ordinary man-flawed, capable of great strides, and horrific failings. That should comfort you.

Your ego should surrender for the greater course of wisdom. Translation: you should get some help. You need to stop seeing people as simply there for your pleasure or objectification, and begin to see them as allies in your healing. Don’t worry about your golf game right now, it will be fine if your head is fine. Worry about your soul.

Start today working on your ability to forgive those circumstances that exposed you. You need to begin to shift your paradigm to a place that acknowledges the humanity in all-and that no one deserves to be objectified and marginalized the way you did the women you engaged with-not even the willing ones deserve the exploitation. As you evolve, if you allow yourself, you will see why this is so.

Welcome to adulthood, Mr. Woods-spiritual adulthood, which includes karma…and if you allow it, reconciliation and forgiveness. Maybe not enough to save a marriage, but enough to save a career. If you express yourself honestly, and compassionately for yourself and those you used, you may find a feeling of release and renewal for you on the next horizon. This moment is a trial, but it is also a gift. Use this opportunity wisely.

Falcon and Dove

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Copenhagen Vigil Today at 5pm Schenley Plaza, Pittsburgh

Hello World Family,
Falcon here with an event for those of you in the Pittsburgh area. Today at 5, there will be an important vigil concerning the issues being discussed in Copenhagen, and what you can do right now to help our leaders, locally and nationally, make the best decisions when it comes to the environment and jobs.

I know it's cold, but the tent is there, and the hearts are warm. Pittsburgh is often called the City of Champions. I think that applies to more than sports teams; it is about the spirit to perservere during challenges and come out on top by supporting your community, your neighbors, your city and your planet. It is critical that we respond like the champions we are today.

College students, I know it is finals week. Come out bundled up and listen to some voices just like you: young, determined, creative, and focused on making a difference. Be inspired by those just like you, listen to some music and then get back to work. You can afford some time to rally for the environment and jobs that you will one day hold.

See you at 5pm. Cold hands, but warm hearts await.
Falcon and Dove will both be there!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

SUNDANCE 2010 Unveiled!

Hey World Family,
We hope you are having a great holiday season! Both Falcon and Dove are fine and enjoying some holiday goodies. Although some really fantastic films did not get in this year, Sundance looks to be explorative with their new way of showcasing films, and broad choices of subject matter to interesting country funding collaborations on various projects.

Here's the list, courtesy of Variety

SUNDANCE 2010 Unveiled


"Blue Valentine" - Directed by Derek Cianfrance, written by Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis, a portrait of an American marriage that charts the evolution of a relationship over time. With Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John Doman.

"Douchebag" - Directed by Drake Doremus, written by Lindsay Stidham, Doremus, Jonathan Schwartz and Andrew Dickler, in which a man about to be married takes his younger brother on a wild goose chase to find the latter's fifth-grade girlfriend. Features Dickler, Ben York Jones, Marguerite Moreau, Nicole Vicius, Amy Ferguson, Wendi McClendon-Covey.

"The Dry Land" - Directed and written by Ryan Piers Williams, in which a returning U.S. soldier tries to reconcile his experiences overseas with his life in Texas. With America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama, Ethan Suplee, June Diane Raphael, Melissa Leo.

"Happythankyoumoreplease" - Directed and written by Josh Radnor, about six New Yorkers negotiating love, friendship and gratitude when they're too old to be precocious and not yet fully adults. Stars Malin Akerman, Radnor, Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan, Tony Hale, Pablo Schreiber, Michael Algieri.

"Hesher" - Directed by Spencer Susser, written by Susser and David Michod from a story by Brian Charles Frank, in which a mysterious, anarchical trickster enters the lives of a family dealing with a painful loss. Toplines Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Devin Brochu, Piper Laurie, John Carroll Lynch.

"Holy Rollers" - Directed by Kevin Tyler Asch, written by Antonio Macia, concerning a young Hasidic man in the throes of money, power and opportunity who becomes an international Ecstasy smuggler. With Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Danny A. Abeckaser, Ari Graynor, Jason Fuchs.

"Howl" - Directed and written by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, a "nonfiction drama" about how Allen Ginsberg created the eponymous poem and the subsequent landmark obscenity trial. Stars James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels.

"The Imperialists Are Still Alive!" - Directed and written by Zeina Durra, about how a French Manhattanite continues her work as an artist in the wake of the sudden abduction of her childhood sweetheart and a blooming love affair. Toplines Elodie Bouchez, Jose Maria de Tavira, Karim Saleh Karolina Muller, Marianna Kulukundis, Rita Ackerman.

"Lovers of Hate" - Directed and written by Bryan Poyser, about how the reunion of estranged brothers is undermined when the woman they both love chooses one over the other. With Chris Doubek, Heather Kafka, Alex Karpovsky, Zach Green.

"Night Catches Us" - Directed and written by Tanya Hamilton, which focuses on the eventful return of a young man to the race-torn Philadelphia neighborhood where he grew up during the Black Power movement. Features Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Jamie Hector, Wendell Pierce, Jamara Griffin.

"Obselidia" - Directed and written by Diane Bell, about the amorous awakening of a lonely librarian with a beguiling cinema projectionist in Death Valley. Toplines Gaynor Howe, Michael Piccirilli, Frank Hoyt Taylor.

"Skateland" - Directed by Anthony Burns, and written by Burns, Brandon Freeman and Heath Freeman, in which dramatic events in early '80s small-town Texas force a 19-year-old skating rink manager to see his life in a new light. With Shiloh Fernandez, A.J. Buckley, Ashley Greene, Brett Cullen, Ellen Hollman, Heath Freeman.

"Sympathy for Delicious" - Directed by Mark Ruffalo and written by Christopher Thornton, which centers on a newly paralyzed DJ who gets more than he bargained for when he seeks out the world of faith healing. Stars Orlando Bloom, Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, John Carroll Lynch.

"3 Backyards" - Directed and written by Eric Mendelsohn, in which a quiet suburban town becomes intense emotional terrain for three residents on one strange day. Toplines Embeth Davidtz, Edie Falco, Elias Koteas, Rachel Resheff, Kathryn Erbe, Danai Gurira.

"Welcome to the Rileys" - Directed by Jake Scott, written by Ken Hixon, about a damaged man who seeks salvation by caring for a wayward young woman during a business trip to New Orleans. Stars James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo.
"Winter's Bone" - Directed by Debra Granik and written by Granik and Anne Rosellini, which focuses on the dangerous efforts of an Ozard Mountain girl to track down her drug-dealer father while keeping her family intact. With Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Lauren Sweetser, Kevin Breznahan, Isaiah Stone.


"Bhutto" - Directed by Duane Baughman and Johnny O'Hara, written by O'Hara, a look at the life of the assassinated former Pakistani prime minister.
"Casino Jack and the United States of Money" - Directed by Alex Gibney, an investigation into the world of imprisoned super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his cronies.

"Family Affair" - Directed by Chico Colvard, which examines resilience, survival and the capacity to accomodate a parent's past crimes on the road to satisfying the longing for family.

"Freedom Riders" - Directed by Stanley Nelson, about civil rights activists who challenged segregation in the South in 1961.

"Gas Land" - Directed by Josh Fox, which looks at toxic streams, dying livestock, flammable sinks and people with weakened health in the vicinity of natural gas drilling.

"I'm Pat ------- Tillman" - Directed by Amir Bar-Lev, which focuses on the efforts of the family of the pro football star to take on the U.S. government after he was killed by "friendly fire" in Afghanistan in 2004.

"Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child" - Directed by Tamra Davis, a portrait of the celebrated '80s artist.

"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" - Directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, a forthright glimpse into the life and comedic process of the veteran comedian.
"Lucky" - Directed by Jeffrey Blitz, which examines what happens when ordinary people hit the lottery jackpot.

"My Perestroika" - Directed by Robin Hessman, an analysis of the transition of the U.S.S.R. as seen through the lives of five Muscovites who came of age at the time of communism's collapse.

"The Oath" - Directed by Laura Poitras, lensed in Yemen, about two men whose fateful encounter in 1996 led them to Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo and the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Restrepo" - Directed by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, for which the two filmmakers accompanied the Second Platoon in a crucial valley to reveal the soldiers' intense labor, fights and camaraderie as they take on the Taliban.

"A Small Act" - Directed by Jennifer Arnold, which spotlights how a young Kenyan, whose life was dramatically changed when a Swedish stranger sponsored his education, later reciprocates by founding his own scholarship program.

"Smash His Camera" - Directed by Leon Gast, which uses the story of notorious paparazzo Ron Galella to examine issues such as the right to privacy, freedom of the press and celebrity worship.

"12th and Delaware" - Directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, a look at how the abortion battle continues in unexpected ways on an unassuming corner in the U.S.
"Waiting for Superman" - Directed by Davis Guggenheim, which uses multiple interlocking stories to analyze the crisis in U.S. public education.


"All That I Love" (Poland) - Directed and written by Jacek Borcuch, about four small-town teenagers who form a punk rock band in 1981 during the growth of the Solidarity movement. With Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Jakub Gierszal, Mateusz Banasiuk, Olga Frycz, Igor Obloza. North American premiere.

"Animal Kingdom" (Australia) - Directed and written by David Michod, which centers upon a 17-year-old boy who, in the wake of his mother's death, is thrust precariously between a criminal family and a detectives who hopes to save him. Stars Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, James Frecheville. World premiere.

"Boy" (New Zealand) - Directed and written by Taika Waititi, a study of how two young brothers reconciles fantasy with reality when their father returns home after many years. Features Waititi, James Rolleston, Te Aho Eketone. World premiere.

"Four Lions" (U.K.) - Directed by Chris Morris, written by Morris, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, a comedy about some self-styled British jihadis. With Chris Wilson, Kevin Eldon. World premiere.

"Grown Up Movie Star" (Canada) - Directed and written by Adriana Maggs, which spins on a teenage girl left to care for her rural father when her mother runs away. Features Shawn Doyle, Tatiana Maslany, Jonny Harris, Mark O'Brien, Andy Jones, Julia Kennedy. U.S. premiere.

"The Man Next Door" (Argentina), written and directed by Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat, about two neighbors who clash over a wall separating their properties. With Rafael Spregelburd, Daniel Araoz, Eugenia Alonso, Ines Budassi, Lorenza Acuna. International premiere.

"Me Too" (Spain) - Directed by Alvaro Pastor and Antonio Naharro, about the unconventional relationship between a 34-year-old college-educated man with Down syndrome and his free-spirited co-worker. With Pablo Pineda, Lola Duenas, Antonio Naharro, Isabel Garcia Lorca, Pedro Alvarez Ossorio. International premiere.
"Nuummioq" (Greenland) - Directed by Otto Rosing and Torben Bech, written by Bech, a contemporary story of how a young man pieces together aspects of his past and gets on with his life while journeying through Greenland's imposing landscapes. Stars Lars Rosing, Angunnguaq Larsen, Julie Berthelsen, Morten Rose, Makka Kleist, Mariu Olsen. World premiere.

"Peepli Live" (India) - Directed and written by Anusha Rizvi, a satire about the media frenzy created when an impoverished farmer announces that he'll commit suicide so his family can receive government compensation. Toplines Riz Ahmed, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak.

"Son of Babylon" (Iraq) - Directed and written by Mohamed Al Daradji, the tale of a young Kurdish boy and his grandmother as they travel through Iraq searching for the remains of their father/son in the wake of Saddam Hussein's fall from power. With Yasser Talib, Shazda Hussein, Bashir Al-Majid. International premiere.
"Southern District" (Bolivia) - Directed and written by Juan Carlos Valdivia, a look at social change that envelopes an upper-class family in La Paz, Bolivia. Toplines Ninon del Castillo, Pascual Loayza, Nicolas Fernandez, Juan Pablo Koria, Mariana Vargas. North American premiere.

"The Temptation of St. Tony" (Estonia) - Directed and written by Veiko Ounpuu, which centers upon a mid-level manager with an aversion to being "good" who confronts life mysteries as he loses his grasp on his once-quiet life. Features Taavi Eelmaa, Rain Tolk, Tiina Tauraite, Katarina Lauk, Raivo E. Tamm. World premiere.
"Undertow" (Colombia-France-Germany-Peru) - Directed and written by Javier Fuentes-Leon, an offbeat ghost story in which a married fisherman on the Peruvian seaside tries to reconcile his devotion to his male lover within the town's rigid traditions. Stars Cristian Mercado, Manolo Cardona, Tatiana Astengo. North American premiere.

"Vegetarian" (South Korea) - Directed and written by Lim Woo-seong, about a housewife whose strange dreams and resulting meat aversion cause trouble with her husband and attract the interest of her artist brother-in-law. Toplines Chea Min-seo, Kim Hyun-sung, Kim Yeo-jin, Kim Young-jae. International premiere.


"Enemies of the People" (Cambodia-U.K.) - Directed by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, which recounts the shocking revelations that ensue when a young journalist whose family was killed by the Khmer Rouge befriends the perpetrators of the Killing Fields genocide. World premiere.

"A Film Unfinished" (Germany-Israel) - Directed by Yael Hersonski, in which film found in Nazi archives reveals the means used to stage Warsaw ghetto life. World premiere.

"Fix Me" (France-Palestinian Territories-Switzerland) - Directed by Raed Andoni, in which Andoni seeks different forms of help for a relentless headache in his hometown of Ramallah. International premiere.

"His and Hers" (Ireland) - Directed by Ken Wardrop, in which 70 Irish women offer insights into the relationships between women and men. World premiere.
"Kick in Iran" (Germany) - Directed by Fatima Geza Abdollahyan, about the struggles of the first female Taekwondo fighter from Iran to qualify for the Olympic Games. World premiere.

"Last Train Home" (Canada) - Directed by Fan Lixin, which focuses on the ordeals of a Chinese migrant worker who, along with many others, tries to reunite with a distant family. U.S. premiere.

"The Red Chapel" (Denmark) - Directed by Mads Bruegger, about a journalist without scruples, a self-proclaimed spastic and a comedian travel to North Korea under the guise of a cultural exchange visit to challenge the totalitarian regime. U.S. premiere.

"Russian Lessons" (Georgia-Germany-Norway) - Directed by Olga Konskaya and Andrei Nekrasov, which looks into ethnic cleansing in Georgia revealed by an investigation of Russian actions during the 2008 war. World premiere.

"Secrets of the Tribe" (Brazil) - Directed by Jose Padiha, which examines the scandal and infighting within the academic anthropology community regarding the representation and exploitation of indigenous Indian in the Amazon Basin. World premiere.

"Sins of My Father" (Argentina-Colombia) - Directed by Nicolas Entel, which delves into the life and times of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar through the eyes of his son, who fled Colombia to lead his own life. North American premiere.
"Space Tourists" (Switzerland) - Directed by Christian Frei, a humorous look at billionaires who pay large sums to travel into outer space for fun. North American premiere.

"Waste Land" (U.K.) - Directed by Lucy Walker, which reveals how lives are transformed when international artist Vik Muniz collaborates with garbage picker in the world's largest landfill in Rio de Janeiro. World premiere.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gates Foundation Awards $40 Million to Pittsburgh Public Schools

Falcon, here World Family with some exciting news. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has just award the Pittsburgh Public Schools its largest gift ever -$40 million to put in place an $85 million initiative for teachers and to increase teacher effectiveness.

The entire story is in the Pittsburgh Post-gazette online. Please follow this link:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tax Students Tuition at Pittsburgh Universities? No Way!

Hey World Family,

Falcon is about to have a little rant: apparently, no one in the mayor’s office understands how funding for university students works because a plan to tax student tuition 1% is the stuff that comes across as embarrassing as a suggestion to the even slightly informed, much less those who fully comprehend what a region-killer this tax would be.

An overview: the city of Pittsburgh needs to offset some of its pension fund deficits. I get that. Suggestion: tax the TUITION of college students attending Pittsburgh universities-INSANE! Why? One: it’s illegal. Two: the tax funds would end up coming right out of families’ pockets because it is highly unlikely that any student aid in any form would cover it. Three: on principle alone, it would drive students to attend schools located out of the city and possibly out of the region entirely. Four: the tax wouldn’t be even; it would be burdensome to the students who could afford to pay it the least. Let me explain.

Tuition (not meal plans, housing, etc. but just the cost of the education itself) is something that can be covered in a variety of ways. Cash is obviously the favorite, but there are other ways: federal funding, independent scholarships, university merit scholarships, sports scholarships (NCAA, NAIA) and private donations. These are put in place to pay for the cost of a student’s education, NOT a tax on the cost of that education. No one pays the same amount.

At a state funded school, in-state residents pay one tuition, out of state students pay a higher tuition. At a private university, it is the same for all usually. If a student receives a merit scholarship (think discount) from the university that they are attending, then they only pay the difference. The tax would be based on that which is billed to the student and their family. A student who was not fortunate enough to get merit money will pay the full tax amount. Not fair, is it? Further, if they are making ends meet by threads, it is highly likely that the funds would have to come out of their pocket: not federal money (can’t go for something like that), nor private scholarship money, and certainly not NCAA money. That will be family money. Since we already know that there is a HUGE inequity in the way merit money is handed out around here (minority students are at a HUGE disadvantage at certain public schools; private schools are much more generous with merit aid), then guess who pays more money again??? Those who can least afford it.

Out of state students and international students who did not have merit scholarship money would really pay, since their tuition is the highest, yet they come the farthest to attend. Once again, is this remotely fair? Of course not.

Universities in the region may be on non-taxable land, but they also give a lot to the city and the county through bringing in some of the most gifted students from this region and the world to our doors. They help with security in areas of shared space like all of Oakland, and in the North Side during game times, since the football games are played at Heinz Field for the University of Pittsburgh. I would tend to think that they spend a lot more on security than they would if they were an enclosed campus in the country. They don’t charge the city for that.

This shared relationship is sacred, and keeping it in balance is the key to reducing crime, keeping students safe, and giving them an enriching experience in one of the finest cities in the world. All of that gets tainted by the idea that the city wants to tax the tuition of students whose hard working parents’ money pours into the city in so many ways because their son or daughter attends a university within the city borders.

To ask families from Pittsburgh to once again foot a bill in an indirect and illegal manner for a city whose fiscal woes were not caused by them is inappropriate.

Being a solution centered kind of women, I do have some suggestions as to where they can get some additional funding for the pension accounts. Current employees recognize that in order to garner the pension they have worked so hard for, they may need to put more in. The city can cut costs by going greener faster. Instead of just going for the proverbial ‘low hanging fruit’, the city needs to start looking at retrofitting, conservation, and renovation moves that get funding from elsewhere, but will save the capital budget millions. There are brilliant people working in city government in the city of Pittsburgh; let’s get to work on how to make this work, rather than burdening the most vulnerable working citizens one more time.

Oh, and one more thing: education is a right, not a privilege. Americans have the right to be properly educated to qualify their acquired skills for the greatest opportunity for enfranchisement for themselves and by extension, their community. College education should not be enjoyed simply by the privileged, but by all who aspire academically to that goal. It is vile to think someone could come up with an arbitrary tax on the cost of that vision.

Falcon and Dove

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Frick Park is Dog Park

For Locals Only: Ok, Pittsburgh people; I have been saying I was going to write this post for months, and now with all the comments in the Pittsburgh Post-gazette lately, I feel the time has come. Frick Park is a beautiful woodland environment, full of hills and valleys, interesting paths and lost hollows along with small creeks and Nine Mile Run. It is also full of something else: Frick Park is full of people with dogs.

The dogs probably outnumber the people on any given day, since many people have more than one dog. There is a leash law, but like that scene in “Pirates of the Caribbean” it is more of a suggestion than a mandate. After all, who is going to police the park at all times? Mostly, dog owners.

Now, I must say, my dog is always on a leash. This is because my lab would go on a walkabout and not be seen for a week if I let him off the leash. Many people have dogs that are perfectly well behaved; I do not. Mine is over a decade old (around 74 years old in dog years; a dog ages one year for every 52 days) yet he acts as though he is a puppy on his first visit to a park on a leash. He was a farm dog, you see, and has never adjusted to that funny thing around his neck tethered to me. He looks at me funny every time I put it on, and rolls his eyes, but acquiesces to my request.

Some people have complained recently that they would like to see the dogs on the leash, at least until they reach the OLEA (Off Leash Exercise Area-a magnificent space with barrels, tubes, and planks, as well as a large space perfect for ball and Frisbee toss), and that is fine. Others wish that people would clean up the number 2’s left by our 4 legged brothers and sisters in various locations in the park. Some wish they wouldn’t go in the creeks and streams, which they couldn’t if they were on a leash always. Here’s what I think:

Dogs are beautiful beings; they truly love unconditionally, even those who probably have not earned their love and trust. Most are gentle and fun, unless trained or abused to be otherwise. Poop is poop; it’s not fun, and it has germs, and it is messy, but it is not the end of the world. I wish all we had to worry about in the entire world was walking in the occasional pile of puppy poop. The world would be blissful if that was the only thing we needed to concern ourselves with…so here is my compromise suggestion.

People: clean up after your dog…ok, not in the 12 foot pampas grass, but elsewhere; you know what I mean. As far as the streams go, gosh, can’t a dog have a little fun? I wonder about a world where everything has to be put under glass, and we all have to stay on the path. I haven’t let my dog in the water for years, but I love watching when others do. People: stay close to your dogs, don’t let them get a quarter of a mile away, walk up to other people’s children and perhaps frighten them. I love having the dogs of everyone in the East End approach me from the woods, but many folks don’t.

People without dogs who may not like the loose four legged friends: Frick Park is Dog Park. It just is. I think it’s wonderful, even when I am there without my dog. Why? Because I feel safe, always. Dogs are very intuitive, and they sense trust. They innately protect, and that is what I love about them. Don’t like dogs? One woman commented in the editorial section of the Post-gazette to go to Schenley instead. That is not far from Frick, so maybe not walking distance for some, but still a short bike ride. No worries.

Frick Park is dog park; let’s just accept it, and for those who can, embrace it. That is one of the most wonderful urban parks in the world to me. It is full of ancient trees and hidden treasures. Check it out, with or without your dog escort.

Falcon and Dove

Monday, November 2, 2009

Falcon and Dove’s Fall Movie Preview

Hello Everyone,
Well, it's time for the Fall Movie Preview. We tended to avoid writing about films that weren't that interesting, and instead have brought you a batch of what we thought were worth seeing...with only a couple of exceptions. Enjoy!

A Serious Man
The Coen Brothers are at it again, this time looking back at one of my favorite eras of waxing nostalgia, the late 1960’s. A young Jewish man is trying to make sense of his life in a world of Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane and his marriage. He feels he is trying to do the right thing, yet he also thinks his world is changing faster than the world around them is spinning. It is supposed to be tongue in cheek funny, but there will be much too much profoundly familiar in this quirky film.

Act of God
Interesting independent doc involves conversations with people who have been struck by lightening (wow-I wish they would have talked to me!). This film looks at the metaphysical implications and eye witness stories of what these individuals were like before they were struck…and after. This film is by Jennifer Baichwal.

Yes, another version, aka ‘Slumdog’ style; very modern Bollywood film with special effects, wild costumes and lots of dancing. It looks like Xanadu meets the classic Magic Lamp tale. Our take: skip it.

Hillary Swank gets the nod to play the famous pilot Amelia Eckhart on Fox Searchlight. Ewan McGregor, Richard Gere give respectable performances. Great cinematography.

An Education
Alfred Molina stars with a strong British cast (Emma Thompson, Dennis Cooper) in a period piece (aka 1962 abouts) that looks a little like Educating Rita with less of an age gap. Girl gets into Oxford and runs off with a man she met to Paris-more exciting, yet not what she thought it would be, go figure.

As Seen Through These Eyes
Maya Angelou gives a powerful narration to a powerful documentary montage of images of Nazi survivors in photos and artwork, along with their own voices and stories. Magnificent art, challenging stories.

We are all waiting for this. If the story unfolds as well as the trailer does, and the special effects deliver, this will be one of the best films of the year. It looks like moving Rodger Dean artwork with Native American embellishments. We hope the film lives up to the hype.

Broken Embraces
A nice French film with strong performances, featuring Penelope Cruz, beautiful yet a bit tortured since all of the saturation as that 60’s early 70’s feel, deliberately. Good date film.

Capitalism: A Love Story
Michael Moore’s magnificent indictment of greed, lying and the price the average person pays for a system without a moral compass. Includes sending perfectly good children to prison while judges get kickbacks (here in PA, believe it or not), farm families having their homes forclosed upon, and conversations with people who have just had it.

Teen film with Self-self discovery/affirmation film with Sandra Bernhard featuring Emmy Rossum, Zach Gilford and Alan Cumming (who I hadn’t seen in a film in awhile). It breaks out of the typical a bit, and the actors make it worth the trip.

Edge of Darkness
Mel Gibson returns as a homicide detective whose 24 year old daughter was killed on his doorstep. Turns out her world was more dangerous than his. This is a January release, so no one really holds a lot of hope for this one,(January is usually the time for films that are expendable) but it is better than it looks.

From Monterey Media comes a very strong film with tricky filming that doesn’t blink with a highly diverse film of quality actors, including William Hurt. Very, very good.

Extraordinary Measures
True story about John and Aileen Crowley whose children were diagnosed with a fatal disease called Pompe, which is genetic, impacts the heart and usually fatal. They started a business, left their jobs and started extraordinary research to save their children’s’ lives. Appearances by Harrison Ford and Brendan Frazier.

Five Minutes of Heaven
Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt star in an interesting film about an adult revolutionary who killed Nesbitt’s character’s brother as a teen. The two have an opportunity to meet. It is a film about truth and reconciliation. Forgiveness…is it possible? The character’s are deeply well developed.

From Paris, With Love
Starring Welsh actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers and John Travolta, directed by Peter Morrell. Action, laughs, more action, lots of things blowing up.

Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

Heath Ledger has one more hurrah, Christopher Plummer and Colin Farrell along with Johnny Deep (sounds like a dream I would love to have) and directed by Terry Gilliam. Wow. It looks incredible and has all the makings of a spectacular nominee, IF the voting members don’t write this off as just a special effects feast. Shot in Bulgaria, it is visually stunning and magnificent. It is nice to see “Academy Award Winner” before Heath Ledger’s name. It is really sad that he is no longer with us here.

Killing Kastzner
Was he a hero or in collusion with the Nazi’s? A documentary looking at the trial, his daughter, and the questions. Did he make a secret deal? His name brings gratitude and rage to many. See the film and see how you feel.

Lies and Illusions
Cuba Gooding, Jr. along with Christian Slater star in a thriller about a man whose book of fiction has more truth to it than he wishes it did. Cuba, good to see you back; I hope you have a great agent and we will see more of you-such a strong actor. Christian has been on TV lately, and it is nice to see him back on the big screen. This film has some promise; I hope it delivers.

The Lovely Bones
An excellent thriller novel by Alice Sebold filmed in Pennsylvania, directed by Peter Jackson, handled with beauty and sensitivity. Susan Sarandon and Mark Walberg deliver strong performances. Must see it to believe it.

The Men Who Stare at Goats
Yu don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but this is based on a true story. Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, and George Clooney, Kevin Spacey star in this 1970’s tale of ‘remote viewers’ aka psychic Jedi Knights. Inspired by the book by Jon Ronson.
Just go with it…

Paranormal Activity
Produced for a mere $15,000, this film opened at number one for weekend receipts after garnering a million clicks demanding that this film be released country wide. Wow! What a story. The film itself is a fine first film and looks like a couple doing their own episode of “Ghost Hunters”, but it goes badly wrong. That’s the fun part for you! A little “Blair Witch” camera work in spots, but really well done overall.

Peter and Vandy
Relationship movie that is incredibly honest in its portrayal and entertaining. Jason Ritter is warm and loving, and controlling and manipulative-perfect.

Pirate Radio
Already out and fantastic, stars one of my favorite actors, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, along with Billy Nighy, and my absolute favorite, Kenneth Branagh

Every living human begin above the age of 12 should see this film. A Lee Williams film, based on the book, “Push” by Sapphirewith an unbelievable cast: Sherri Shepherd, Mariah Carey, Mo’Nique, Lenny Kravitz. Oscar, can you hear me?

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Extremely well cast ensemble around a central character who is looking at renewing the quality of her life at a crossroads. Alan Arka, Keanu Reeves, Juliann Moore, Winona Rider, Robin Wright Penn are part of an excellent examination of a woman’s personal portrait, exploration, and eventual liberation.

Red Cliff
A strong film by John Woo focus on epic battles during the third century in China during civil war. This picture makes Helm’s Deep look like a little skirmish at a stronghold.
Cinematography great, special effects, strong, period costuming, nice.

Serious Moonlight
Meg Ryan stars with Timothy Hutton stars in this comedy directed by Cheryl Hines. Over the top a bit, but entertaining. See this with the girlfriends, laugh a lot. See it with men, and the guys will be trying to escape the theater.

Sherlock Holmes
Like you have never seen him before, Sherlock Holmes is played by Robert Downey, Jr. and Watson is played by Jude Law. Rachel McAdams rocks! Watson whines a little. Robert Downey, Jr. and Mark Strong deliver the goods. Very nicely done. I bet if this one is successful, like Harry Potter, they will make more. By the way, this is not for the kids.

The Book of Eli
The Hughes brothers have put together a little post apocalyptic film with Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman that looks like a fun little romp in Mad Max land. It’s a January release. You know what that means. Maybe it will be better than they think. The trailer is very cool…kinda video game like, but cool.

The Road
Viggo Mortensen is awesome in this Cormac McCarthy’s unoptimistic novel made into a film. Charlize Theron is also in this portrait of what happens after…
This was filmed in Pittsburgh, and when we ran out of snow, up near Erie.

The End of Poverty
A stunning documentary narrated by Martin Sheen on how we got in such a financial mess, and how contrived poverty is. Some may actually be surprised that ‘trickle down’ doesn’t work, and how deliberate and systematic the atrocities are globally. This is another film I feel strongly about that everyone should see.

The Fourth Kind
Based on a sleep study, complete with footage of the actual sessions included in the narrative drama side by side, this film asks the question: have we had more than casual contact with aliens? Who are they? Why did these people in Alaska have the same experiences? Are they all delusional, abused…or what? This film may have you leaving with more questions than you came in with…

The Messenger
This just opened the Savannah Film Festival on Halloweeen and stars Woody Harrelson (finally in a film that’s actually good) with a magnificent support soundtrack of awesome pieces Ben Foster gives an unforgettable performance. This film will strike a chord with so many as these two men are the messengers of the undeliverable message of the loss of a man or woman at war. Very, very, very good.

As good as the previous movie was: this film is the polar opposite of that one. Let me paint a picture: Roland Emmerich, who I had a ton of respect and support for when he did “The Day After Tomorrow” has completely abandoned his fracking mind and made a film that while the special effects are incredible, has virtually no real plot or character development.

Most films we here at Falcon and Dove thought just plain sucked we didn’t talk about in the Fall Preview. Some we just didn’t get a chance to properly review. Falcon has seen nearly 20 minutes of this film and can’t stand a moment of it. Why? Besides being kind of a downer (end of world on 12/21/12- I won’t mention what time, everything goes to you know where, and the government has secret underground bunkers for the select few, blah, blah, blah) it has some plausibility problems, and not just the obvious ones.

If I were a filmmaker showing the end of the world, with collapsing buildings all around, I would have remembered the people. THE PEOPLE> the ones being blown to bits, thrown around like rag dolls, and falling into the open crevasses in the earth that is now heated and cracking. You barely see any human toll. That would have been an “R” rating, I suppose. The human side of this story is gone. Woody Harrelson (can’t believe he did this film and The Messenger in the same year. Note from Falcon: if he doesn’t get an Oscar for his role in The Messenger, he may have this film to thank for it-memories are long at Oscar time). He plays a character who wants to leave the proverbial building first by setting himself in the middle of the caldera at Yellowstone. He’s on radio, the Net, takes questions and calls, and has a website for you to follow until the end. He wears a long haired wig and a Moroccan style hat-looks great on Dumbledore, on Woody…not so much.

So…where do I begin? First, Roland, you really DON”T understand the prophecy of the Maya; so stop. Not enough of the real feelings of many Native American people are in this film…oh, yeah! I forgot! It’s about the bang and the money. Silly, me…

The hopelessness of this film is so bad, I would not let a child see this film, period. There are children in it I feel sorry for. No one who has had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder should see it either. There is a loss of continuity in this film that is astonishing, but no loss of special effects of destroying many monuments gone wild.

The dialog is occasionally comedic in the most inappropriate times. The moment before all of California is about to go from the inside, there are humorous remarks made by the lead character (John Cusack, who in interviews doesn’t sound like he believes it, either) about the state governor’s acting just moments before the bottom falls out-literally. There are moments that are so confused between comedy and annihilation that I wasn’t quite sure what the director was going for. The film doesn’t take itself very seriously in spots. Maybe we shouldn’t either.

So here’s the supposed science: the earth’s core will heat up and break up all the weak spots when the planets align with the Milky Way and the Sun on the other end. In Native tradition, it is a configuration of the Alligator (a representation of the Cosmic Matriarch) giving birth to the Sun). We personally consider this time a time of birth, higher consciousness and new revelations. That revelation may be that the earth will continue without us, if WE MESS UP. We do have choices, and our behavior is what determines our fate. What is written is change and transformation. It will not be easy, but it is not all doom and gloom unless we succumb to the misery and negativity of things, and fail to rise with courage to change what we can clearly change.

Otherwise, no underground bunker, hermitically sealed with O2 from plants clearly underground in greenhouses and energy from geothermal ( we ought to have plenty of that)can save us-according to their complete disaster, there won't be any fresh air for years, the underground too warm in most places and with plate shift, where are the fresh water aquafirs, or am I over thinking this? Contamination would be rampant, and we would be cooked anyway. The End. Wow...what a fun film!

Twilight Saga: New Moon
Okay, this will be better than the first film; it already looks better. I don't just mean the special effects...THE MEN!!! Look, this is an eye candy story; I am not a teen, I am there for the 'visual effects', you feel me? Yes, there's a bit of a story, and I am not even sure I like it. Dove says it's ok, but I am there for the guys. With an ensemble of men that hot, you tend to ignore weak storylines. Okay, actually generally I do pay attention to plot...who care? It looks great! I'll be there on Nov. 20, watching it with all the rest of the young men and women. The whole vampire thing doesn't really do anything for me...gotta love those werewolves, though! Whew! Is it hot in here???

Alright World Family, there is Falcon and Dove's quick overview of the fall movies. Our Holiday Film Special blog/podcast will be out during the Thanksgiving weekend, as always.

Be strong, stay safe, and enjoy the fall offerings.
Falcon and Dove

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

HFCS Sucks! Industry: STOP using it!!!

Hey World Family,
This is a Falcon and Dove combined rant. We are going to say something simple, yet powerful when combined with direct action: World: stop eating, using ANY products with high fructose corn syrup in it.

Industry: stop making excuses about something that is vile and dangerous where you make gross profits and people (and animals, bees more specifically) are getting sick and dying. There is no excuse for this selfish, morally bankrupt behavior. There are other ways to make money-poisoning people is not the way to do it.

Just to be clear: Falcon and Dove have never embraced this Frankenstein-ian product. There has been study after study (mostly outside the U.S. since food additives don’t have to pass muster with FDA) that shows HFCS compromises liver function, and possibly other organs. How important is this? Well, if your liver isn’t functioning properly (removing toxins and recycling red blood cells every 120 days), creatine levels can rise, and its harder to oxygenate the body. If you can’t get enough oxygen, your entire body suffers: brain, heart, lungs, the full monty. That increases other health difficulties: asthma, diabetes (HFCS is THE contributing factor for this one beyond sedentary lifestyle and simple, non-nutritious white carb consumption), kidney malfunctions (since those who consume a lot of HFCS also don’t get enough water, on average), and other health deficits. When heated (like inside your body), it creates a carcinogen.

In addition to the already ridiculous amount of evidence that this is a singularly awful additive choice, studies have also shown that mercury showed up in 50% of common products tested. This is probably due to the caustic soda that is commonly contaminated with mercury from the chlorine industry (stay with me), and then used as an additive in food products. Although that process is to be curved completely by 2012, we aren’t there yet. Legislation to correct this vile practice was introduced by a young senator who is now our president: Barack Obama.

The fact that the industry actually ran a campaign of commercials asking American to keep using and consuming this filth really shows the lack of human decency that this industry shows for consumers. We all know that cheaper products will be filled with HFCS and other additives that together create a time bomb for the people who consume it. Oh, and by the way, the fact that the health care industry hasn’t climbed all over this and demanded that changes be made shows their collusion in this awful cycle of stupidity.

All this is about profit and sacrificing certain populations as expendable for the sake of profits: people with more money can buy at stores whose food comes from healthier, organic, and sustainable sources. The poor have far less options.



Falcon knows of several companies who have done just that. A lot of products are now labeled: no high fructose corn syrup. Our suggestion is that you work with other companies as consumers and ask…no, DEMAND that they remove this from their products. Buy products without this additive.

World Family, you and your children cannot afford to consume this trash. It’s not worth it. Demand that your grocer, your gas station, your dollar store, etc. get food that is safe for you to consume. Demand it.

This is why every person with the tiniest bit of earth should begin to grow their own food, work with others in your community to grow your own food, and create sustainable networks to get wholesome food.
It is time for a revolution, Brothers and Sisters. It’s been time.

Want more information on this subject? Check out your favorite search engine, or go to the websites below:

Protect your health, World Family. Defend your right to have food without additives known to hurt and kill. It’s your life. After all, what else do you have that’s more important than your life and health?
Falcon and Dove

Monday, October 26, 2009

Somerhill, Charles Constantino on 52nd Grammy Entry List

Hello World Family,
Here's an announcement from our Brothers Somerhill and producer Charles Constantino. It is great news for Falcon, too...I sang backing vocals on both nominated songs!!! Whoo-hoo (Shameless)

Somerhill, Charles Constantino on 52nd Grammy Entry List

‘Free Your Mind (Tara Na),’ ‘Today or Tomorrow’ in categories of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or
Group with Vocals, Best Rock Song

The Recording Academy has selected Free Your Mind (Tara Na) and Today or Tomorrow, both performed by Somerhill, for inclusion on the 52nd Grammy Entry List in the category of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The category of Best Rock Song on the 52nd Grammy Entry List includes producer Charles Constantino and Somerhill members Chad Gontkovic and William Rose for writing Free Your Mind (Tara Na).

Constantino and Rose are also in the category of Best Rock Song for writing Today
or Tomorrow.

Winner of the 2006 Rockin’ in the Valley original music contest held by Our Town, Somerhill was the closing act for American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry in March 2007 in Pittsburgh. In 2008, Core Media House L.L.C. released Free Your Mind (Tara Na) and Today or Tomorrow, both of which were digitally tracked, mixed and mastered at 24 bits/96 kilohertz at Treelady Studios. Members of the Recording Academy vote from the 52nd Grammy Entry List, also known as the 52nd Grammy Awards Nominations
Ballot, for the nominees for the 52nd Grammy Awards.

Visit the Recording Academy at

Visit Somerhill at

Co-Op Scholarships for 2010:APPLY NOW!!!

Hey World Family,
Falcon here with important information for high school seniors planning on applying (or about to apply) to Co-Op Universities in the U.S.: Scholarship applications are now available online:

The National Commission of Cooperative Education (NCCE) have released their new apps and the materials package hit our snail mail this morning.
Here’s what you need to know:

NCCE Universities

Drexel University

Johnson and Wales University

Kettering University

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
University of Cincinnati

University of Toledo

Wentworth Institute of Technology

These are institutions that provide cooperative job training programs 6 months long as an integral part of their undergraduate education. Students graduating from these institutions are prepared for the real work world in ways that sometimes others are not, and have a clear advantage when it comes to getting a job in a variety of progressive fields.


Any high school senior-public, private, charter, cyber, or home school student

3.5 GPA or better on a 4.0 scale

Complete the application materials at the website listed for the partner school you are interested in-yes, you will have to be accepted to the school of your choice in order to receive the scholarship

One page, 500 word essay on why you have chosen to pursue a college cooperative education.

Mail materials to:

National Commission for Cooperative Education
360 Huntington Avenue, 384 CP
Boston, MA 02115-5096

For general questions, please contact:
NOTE: We do NOT require transcripts or recommendations.


Scholarship winners are determined by each partner institution. Notification will be between March and May, 2010.


Scholarship amounts average around $6,000/yr. with a maximum of $30,000 over the span of the undergraduate education (so those with 5 year majors like engineering and architecture will be covered for the full term of their education, provided they can stay on that track).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

'The Greenest Building' by SCAD President Paula Wallace

Hello World Family,
Falcon here posting a link to the Huffington Post blog by none other than SCAD prez Paula Wallace on Sustainability. Yes, Dove attends SCAD and as a SCAD Mom, I am certainly proud of the university, but it's more than that. They have a plan...and guts. They have a vision, and acumen. Here's what following a 'green' plan for the last 30 years can yield you and your community if your vision is bold, courageous, and encourages progressive thinking. Oh, and there's some serious sweat equity in this venture, too. Savannah has done it, so can you.
Read President Wallace's blog below:

The Greenest Building

In the summer of 1978, the city of Savannah, Georgia, was not doing so well. The iconic downtown department store was shuttered. The Art Deco playhouse was empty. The city's oldest high school, an elegant Greek Revival structure with WPA murals, was abandoned. Young people left and never came back. It was a tired, old, and dying city. Savannah needed ideas, investors, people, something.
I had an idea, and shared it with the mayor.

"We're going to start an art school," I said.
He chuckled. "It won't work," he said. "But go right ahead."

The distinctive architecture of downtown made Savannah the perfect choice for students studying art and design, and the first building of the new Savannah College of Art and Design was a dilapidated volunteer guards armory (a Richardsonian, Romanesque behemoth that seemed way too big at the time). We scrubbed it, restored it, painted it, and hauled in my kitchen table for an admissions desk. Three decades later, we have nearly 10,000 students. And nearly 100 historic buildings at locations in Savannah, Atlanta, Lacoste, and Hong Kong. That downtown department store is now a world-class university library. That Art Deco playhouse is now home to the Savannah Film Festival. That empty high school is now home to SCAD's School of Liberal Arts. Out of nearly a hundred SCAD properties around the world, only four have been newly built.

There's a lot of talk about sustainability these days, and that's a good thing. It's good to grab the low-hanging fruit, like hybrid cars, community gardens, and low-flow plumbing. But real sustainability is systemic and seismic. SCAD didn't start out to become a leader in sustainability. I wish I could claim that kind of prescience. But after we restored our first several historic properties for students, we realized that what we were doing had a name: recycling. Recycling on a monumental scale. As they say, the greenest building is the one that already exists.
But just because SCAD stumbled into its own sustainable practice doesn't mean we can't do it intentionally from here on out. That's why we have embedded sustainable design practices across the curriculum. It's no longer an elective; it's in everything we teach.

At SCAD, interior design and architecture students live and breathe sustainable ideas as naturally as they do building codes. Graphic design students don't just think about how to sell a product with package design - they think about what happens to the package afterwards. Industrial design students travel to Hong Kong and other cities in China to tour manufacturing facilities and learn the names of those who actually fabricate the products. Service design students learn to eliminate paper from the customer experience. Historic preservation students learn to preserve cultures, not just buildings. Fibers students create DIY bedding solutions for the homeless, buildable with thrift-store materials. And there's the new Design for Sustainability degree program at SCAD, where students design water conservation systems in post-Katrina homes and laptop prototypes capable of disassembly.

At SCAD, we teach sustainable design because it gets our students jobs. Aspiring artists and designers need to know how to practice sustainable design, especially when there's an entire summit devoted to the life of a Starbucks cup. Or when a recyclable office chair becomes one of Herman Miller's biggest sellers. Or when the AIA is now requiring annual sustainability education for licensed architects.
Teaching sustainable design also has the added benefit of transforming students into rather brilliant thinkers. That's because sustainable design is nothing less than holistic, productive, and imaginative thinking. In other words, sustainable design SCAD students are asking big questions, such as, "What are the philosophical assumptions behind this product or service?" and "Is anyone hurt in its manufacture, use, or disposal?" and "How can we save money and people at the same time?" In short, Design for Sustainability is for the 21st century what a degree in philosophy was for the 18th century, providing a healthy, comprehensive worldview. Oh, and employers are desperately seeking leaders who can think in such a way. Just ask Dan Pink, who said, "The MFA is the new MBA."

Sustainable design is about designing a world that's more beautiful, more functional, more equitable. It's about designing something - a world, a city, a product - that lasts. In many respects, this is what SCAD has helped accomplish in the living laboratory of Savannah, and what we're just beginning to do in other communities around the world. Sometimes we stumble into sustainability, looking up and realizing that the smartest decision was the most sustainable one, too. But the next generation of artists and designers won't stumble into it. They will seek out sustainable solutions with clear, purposeful, and imaginative thinking.

Savannah is no longer tired, old, and dying. It is vibrant, reborn, and alive. The change in the city has indeed been seismic. There are jobs. There are young people. There is joy and community. The old buildings are alive with new ideas. That's lasting change, and that's what sustainability is all about. And that's why it's worth teaching to every student.

Read more at:

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Music Releases that are Must-Haves for Rocktober

Hello World Family,
It’s that time of year: time to look at the best of the best in music and film…and maybe even a few television shows, since some of the new stuff isn’t too bad;)

There are some great releases this fall, and Falcon and Dove have listened to the following ones intently and feel strongly that your music collection would feel bad without these strong tunes in your library.

11: 11-Rodrigo y Gabriel1a

If for some reason you don’t know who these two powerhouse guitarists are, go to their website, My Space, You Tube…Conan O’Brian…anywhere, and check them out.
This album is tremendous. Each song on the CD is dedicated to the guitar style of someone who inspired them in the past. It is a mighty project. “Buster Voodoo” is sweet and was performed on The Tonight Show a few days back. It was inspired by the genius that was Jimi Hendrix, probably the greatest guitarist that has ever lived. Their humble dedication continues with songs inspired by composers like Jorge Reyes to John McLaughlin, to Pink Floyd. “Hanuman” is a strong favorite, and gives kudos to Carlos Santana, one of Falcon’s personal favorites for its inspiration.

1 – ‘Hanuman’ – inspired by Carlos Santana
2 – ‘Buster Voodoo’ – inspired by Jimi Hendrix
3 – ‘Triveni’ – inspired by Israeli Oud three-piece Le Trio Joubran
4 – ‘Logos’ – inspired by jazz-rock master Al Di Meola

6 – ‘Master Maqui’ – inspired by Spanish guitar legend Paco De Lucia
7 – ‘Savitri’ – inspired by John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussian’s ground breaking 1970’s world fusion ensemble Shakti
8 – ‘Hora Zero’ – inspired by Argentine tango composer and bandoneon virtuoso Astor Piazzola
9 – ‘Chac Mool’ – inspired by Jorge Reyes, the Mexican composer who
10 – ‘Atman’ – inspired by Dimebag Darrell, never to be forgotten lead guitarist in Pantera and Damageplan, who was tragically murdered onstage in 2004.
11 – ’11:11’ – inspired by Pink Floyd.

Peter Janson: Compass Rose

Beautiful, powerful, melodic and sensual, Compass Rose is one of my favorite releases of the year. This project is up for Grammy consideration, as well it should be-Peter demonstrates why he is one of the most articulate and influential acoustic guitarists of our time with a CD that has modern influences with classical approaches, contemporary work with Celtic teeth and powerful imagery. He is a joy to see live on his Tippin Guitars. One my favorite tracks is “Sligo Creek” which holds a local point of affection, as there is a Sligo in Pennsylvania; this work has that green, lush mountain feel that you would sense here or in stringed soul and easygoing rhythms that are infused with a transportable flair. Want to hear some? Check out his website:

Beecake: Soul Swimming

Glorious Scottish roots, extremely strong songwriting, and the beautiful tenor of Billy Boyd (yes, Pippin from “The Lord of the Rings”, also in “Trainspotting” among other Glaswegian films). What more could you ask for? “Soul Swimming”, the title track of the new Beecake project (the long wait is over) is a powerful combination of melodies and styles. The band is solid as are the tunes. There isn’t a weak song on the CD. What kind of style, you ask? Well, it’s mixed. If you enjoy the music of The Beatles, Alan Parsons Project, early Genesis, and even some edgy stuff like LIVE, Nine Inch Nails, and Pearl Jam, you will probably love this CD. Boyd wrote every song (and co-wrote “Radio” with bassist Rick Martin), and it shows his range not only vocally, which is outstanding, but also his thematic attractions.

Falcon’s personal favorites include the Alan Parson-esque “Lost Direction” including Billy on harmonica, the profoundly brash and stinging “Radio” that questions the capitalist culture, and my favorite, “This is Not an Exit”, a pro-environment, anti-stupid, introspective examination of what makes us collectively queasy. “Rip It Up” has some of the strongest vocal stylizations on the project, there’s a little Dean Martin on the track “Friends and Lovers” and “Boy” may be in the top ten for most emotional songs ever written, examining a parent’s emotional turmoil after their adult child dies in war.

There are videos on You Tube of Beecake and on My Space:

Beecake is wonderful to see live. I was extremely lucky to see them at Tin Angel in Philadelphia, (where I got some lovely birthday gifts) a fantastic venue with yummy food (especially the tuna!). I have to say that I am working my way through their menu, and although half-way there, I have many more dinners to enjoy and awhile before I can get through their wonderful offerings.

No Look Escape

This band out of southern California has some strong chops in the Alternative Rock genre. The self titled project has some nice tunes with varied instrumental approaches and great vocals. Charlie has a clear, sincere voice, nice range, clean delivery. My favorite song from this project is “I’ll Be There” which has some serious R&B kinda Rockabilly thing going there. “Stand” is a stokin’ rock affirmation that will get you moving; check out the melodic “Home” a modern ballad with a classic feel. This project is available on iTunes.
Check them out on My Space:

I have not had the honor of seeing this group live, but would love to in the near future.

What I am getting in the next few weeks:

A couple of new CD’s and some classics:

Lita Ford-Wicked Wonderland
Cliudan-The Fair
Brother-the first CD “Pipe Dreams” is now available for download. This project has some brilliant songs, including their exceptional version of “Amazing Grace”.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pittsburgh Selected as United Nations World Environment Day Host City

Hello World Family,
What a busy day it has been! Here's one more announcement in the environmental/green news category-get ready Pittsburgh; we are the North American host:

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Commemorated each year on June 5, World Environment Day is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. With thousands of events in UNEP's six global regions, namely, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia and Europe, World Environment Day is considered one of the largest environmental events of its kind.
Since 1972, 36 World Environment Day celebrations have been held around the globe. World Environment Day 2010 in Pittsburgh will mark the 37th annual celebration.
Word Environment Day is designed to:
• give a human face to environmental issues;
• empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development;
• promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and
• advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

On World Environment Day, heads of State, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Environment deliver statements and commit themselves to care for the Earth. Pledges are made which lead to the establishment of permanent governmental structures dealing with environmental management. It also provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions.
But World Environment Day also is a people's event. People around the globe celebrate with colorful activities such as street rallies, city-wide walks, scientific forums, bicycle parades, green concerts, essays and poster competitions in schools, tree plantings, as well as recycling and clean-up campaigns.

NOTE: This event really runs from Earth Day (April 22) through June 5 with the highlight week beginning May 31. The Bayer CAUSE Challenge Film Festival, sponsored by the Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Bayer Corporation will be held at the the Science Center Stage on April 22 as part of this effort. More information will follow as we are given updates.

This is good stuff, world family! We hope we get to see some of you here in Pittsburgh in April!

Falcon and Dove

Live Earth Announces 2010 Global Event-Water is the Word

Hello World Family,
Wow-what a busy day! First the EPA report, and then the GAO announcement right behind it (see previous blog for all the details) and now this just arrived in our box!

As Falcon has said before, water is currency; it's the only one that really matters. Without it, we don't have a world we can inhabit.

We were planning on doing some major posts on water issues in the coming months anyway, but this really puts the exclamation point on it. Some of the things we will be talking about may be controvertial to some, but it is a conversation that must be had-because we all need to pay attention to our water.
Falcon and Dove

Live Earth Announces 2010 Global Event!

Live Earth is pleased to announce the largest worldwide water initiative in history to help combat the global water crisis. The Dow Live Earth Run for Water - to take place April 18, 2010 - will consist of a series of 6 km run/walks (the average distance many women and children walk every day to secure water) taking place over the course of 24 hours in countries around the world, featuring concerts and water education activities, raising awareness and funds to help solve the water crisis. Jessica Biel, Alexandra Cousteau, Pete Wentz, Angelique Kidjo and Jenny Fletcher will lend their names and their time in support of this global event.

Why Water?

Water scarcity is a a major issue affecting countries, communities and families all over the world. One in eight people don't have access to safe, clean drinking water. Communities in Africa, Latin America and Asia suffer 1.8 million deaths every year from diarrheal diseases and the death of 5,000 children each day due to inadequate water infrastructure. In these areas, women and children are forced to walk 6 km (3.7 miles) each day to secure water that is likely unsuitable for drinking. However, the water crisis is not only limited to developing nations. Adding to these existing issues, the affects of climate change are increasingly impacting both supply and quality of available fresh water throughout the world - shifting traditional rainfall patterns, altering water-shaping ecosystems and magnifying the effects of pollution.
In 60% of European cities with populations greater than 100,000, groundwater is being used faster than it can be replenished. By 2025, two-thirds of the world's population could be living under water-stressed conditions.

Falcon's note: it certain industry practices are allowed to prevail in certain places, that could happen a whole lot sooner. More on that later...


Hello World Family,
Here's some interesting news from the EPA. Check out today's press release.
Falcon and Dove

Deb Berlin

October 15, 2009

EPA Administrator Announces Plan to Retool and Reinvigorate Clean Water Enforcement Program

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced today at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing that the agency is stepping up its efforts on Clean Water Act enforcement. The Clean Water Action Enforcement Plan is a first step in revamping the compliance and enforcement program. It seeks to improve the protection of our nation’s water quality, raise the bar in federal and state performance and enhance public transparency.

“The safety of the water that we use in our homes -- the water we drink and give to our children -- is of paramount importance to our health and our environment. Having clean and safe water in our communities is a right that should be guaranteed for all Americans,” said Administrator Jackson. “Updating our efforts under the Clean Water Act will promote innovative solutions for 21st century water challenges, build stronger ties between EPA, state, and local actions, and provide the transparency the public rightfully expects.”

The plan announced today outlines how the agency will strengthen the way it addresses the water pollution challenges of this century. These challenges include pollution caused by numerous, dispersed sources, such as concentrated animal feeding operations, sewer overflows, contaminated water that flows from industrial facilities, construction sites, and runoff from urban streets.

The goals of the plan are to target enforcement to the most significant pollution problems, improve transparency and accountability by providing the public with access to better data on the water quality in their communities, and strengthen enforcement performance at the state and federal levels. Elements of the plan include the following:

· Develop more comprehensive approaches to ensure enforcement is targeted to the most serious violations and the most significant sources of pollution.

· Work with states to ensure greater consistency throughout the country with respect to compliance and water quality. Ensure that states are issuing protective permits and taking enforcement to achieve compliance and remove economic incentives to violate the law.

· Use 21st century information technology to collect, analyze and use information in new, more efficient ways and to make that information readily accessible to the public. Better tools will help federal and state regulators identify serious compliance problems quickly and take prompt actions to correct them.

Last July, Administrator Jackson directed EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance to develop the plan in response to data showing that the nation’s water quality is unacceptably low in many parts of the country.

More information on the plan:


Longstanding Issues Impact EPA’s and States’ Enforcement Efforts

What the GAO Found

In 2000, GAO found variations among EPA’s regional offices in the actions they take to enforce environmental requirements. For example, the regions varied in the inspection coverage of facilities discharging pollutants, the number and type of enforcement actions taken, and the size of the penalties assessed and the criteria used in determining penalties. GAO also found that variations in the regions’ strategies for overseeing state programs may have resulted in more in-depth reviews in some regional programs than in others. Several factors contributed to these variations including differences in the philosophical approaches among enforcement staff about how best to achieve compliance with environmental requirements, differences in state laws and enforcement authorities and how the regions respond to these differences, variations in resources available to state and regional offices, the flexibility afforded by EPA policies and guidance that allow latitude in state enforcement programs, and incomplete and inadequate enforcement data that hampered EPA’s ability to accurately characterize the extent of variations. In 2007, GAO reported improvements in EPA’s oversight of state enforcement activities with the implementation of a state review framework. However, while this framework helped identify several weaknesses in state programs, the agency had not developed a plan for how it would uniformly address these weaknesses or identify the root causes of these weaknesses.

In 2005, GAO reported that the scope of EPA’s responsibilities under the Clean Water Act along with workload associated with implementing and enforcing the act’s requirements had increased significantly. At the same time, EPA had authorized states to take on more responsibilities, shifting the agency’s workload from direct implementation to oversight. In 2007, GAO reported that while overall funding for enforcement activities had increased from $288 million in fiscal year 1997 to $322 million in fiscal year 2006, resources had not kept pace with inflation or the increased responsibilities. Both EPA and state officials told GAO that they found it difficult to respond to new requirements while carrying out previous responsibilities and regional offices had reduced enforcement staff by about 5 percent. In 2005, GAO also reported that EPA’s process for budgeting and allocating resources did not fully consider the agency’s workload, either for specific statutory requirements such as those included in the Clean Water Act or the broader goals and objectives in the agency’s strategic plan. Any efforts made by the agency to develop a more systematic process would be hampered by the lack of comprehensive and accurate workload data.

In 2007, GAO reported that EPA had made substantial progress in improving priority setting and enforcement planning with states through its system for setting national enforcement priorities and this had fostered a more cooperative relationship with the states. Finally, in 2008, GAO reported that EPA could improve the accuracy and transparency of some of the measures that it uses to assess and report on the effectiveness of its civil and criminal enforcement programs. GAO identified shortcomings in how EPA calculates and reports these data that may prevent the agency from providing Congress and the public with a fair assessment of the programs.

Congress enacted the Clean Water Act to help reduce water pollution and improve the health of the nation’s waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers its enforcement responsibilities under the act through its Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), as well as its 10 regional offices and the states.

Over the last 9 years, GAO has undertaken a number of reviews of EPA’s environmental enforcement activities, including for the Clean Water Act. For this testimony statement, GAO was asked to summarize the results of five prior reports on the effectiveness of EPA’s enforcement program. Specifically, this statement includes information on the (1) factors that cause variations in enforcement activities and lead to inconsistencies across regions, (2) impact that inadequate resources and work force planning has had on enforcement, (3) efforts EPA has taken to improve priority planning, and (4) accuracy and transparency of measures of program effectiveness.

GAO’s prior recommendations have included the need for EPA to collect more complete and reliable data, develop improved guidance, and better performance measures. Although EPA has generally agreed with these recommendations, its implementation has been uneven. GAO is not making new recommendations in this statement.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Golf and Rugby Sevens approved for 2016 Olympics

Hey World Family,
Get got back in town, and people are filling our email and various social networks with questions about this Olympic announcement. Here is official word courtesy of the USGA site:

Golf Approved for 2016 Olympic Program On Vote By International Olympic Committee Membership

Competition will be held in Rio de Janeiro, selected as site of 2016 Games

Copenhagen, Denmark (October 9, 2009) – After an absence of more than a century, golf will return as an Olympic sport in 2016 and 2020 along with rugby sevens following their approval by the International Olympic Committee membership during the IOC’s 121st Session.

Golf was approved 63-27 with two abstentions. Rugby was voted in 81-8 with one abstention.

They will be part of the Olympic Program in Rio de Janeiro, which last week was selected as the host city for the 2016 Games by the IOC. Golf was last an Olympic sport at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Mo., when the United States and Canada were the only two competing countries.

“We are elated that the IOC membership has accepted golf as an Olympic sport, and look forward to seeing the world’s best golfers compete for gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” said Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee, which has coordinated golf’s Olympic bid. “We thank the IOC for its support, and also congratulate rugby sevens for its inclusion in the 2016 Games.”

Votaw and Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the International Golf Federation, were accompanied by professionals Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Michelle Wie of the United States and Suzann Pettersen of Norway, as well as 16-year-old (British) Amateur Champion Matteo Manassero of Italy, for a final presentation to the IOC prior to the vote.

“We are extremely grateful that Padraig, Michelle, Suzann and Matteo were able to join us to help communicate the genuine interest world-class players of all ages share in golf becoming an Olympic sport,” Dawson said.

Golf and rugby sevens were recommended for the Olympic Program by the IOC Executive Board in August following an extensive review process involving seven sports that were vying to be added to the 2016 Olympic Games. Although they emerged as the finalists, both sports still required final approval Friday by a majority of votes cast by the members of the IOC.

“In addition to those golfers who will have an opportunity to compete as Olympic athletes, we are excited for the national golf federations that will reap the benefits from today’s decision in terms of growth and support within their countries,” Dawson said. “This is a very significant day for golf.”

Leading up to Friday’s final vote, golf and rugby sevens emerged from a year-long evaluation that included formal presentations by the seven sports, the submission of a Detailed Questionnaire and responses to questions raised by both the IOC Programme Commission and the IOC Executive Board. The IOC Executive Board announced its recommendation of two sports following a meeting in Berlin, Germany on Aug. 13.

“We strongly believed that golf deserved to be added to the Olympic Program and felt that we presented a compelling case to the IOC,” Votaw said. “We have received unprecedented support from international golf organizations throughout this process, as well as from the world’s top-ranked men and women players, which was critical to our success. We also stressed the universal nature of golf, with 60 million people playing the sport in more than 120 countries.”

Based on player feedback, the IGF has proposed a format of 72-hole individual stroke play for both men and women. In case of a tie for either first, second or third place, a three-hole playoff is recommended to determine the medal winner(s).

The IGF also has recommended an Olympic field of 60 players for each of the men's and women's competition, using the Official World Golf Rankings as a method of determining eligibility. The top-15 world-ranked players would be eligible for the Olympics, regardless of the number of players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players would be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15.

Current world rankings from both the men’s and women’s games show that at least 30 countries would be represented in both the men’s and women’s competitions, from all continents, under this proposal

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tsunami slams Samoa islands after 8.0 quake

Hello World Family,
Prayers are needed now for our Family members in Samoa and the region.
UPDATE: Tsunami Advisory for the West Coast of U.S.

This is from The Associated Press:

Dozens reported dead after wave hits following temblor

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa - Towering tsunami waves spawned by a powerful earthquake swept ashore on Samoa and American Samoa early Tuesday, flattening villages, killing at least 34 people and leaving dozens of workers missing at devastated National Park Service facilities.

Cars and people were swept out to sea by the fast-churning waters as survivors fled to high ground, where they remained huddled hours later. Hampered by power and communications outages, officials struggled to assess the casualties and damage.
The quake, with a magnitude between 8.0 and 8.3, struck around dawn about 20 miles below to ocean floor, 120 miles from American Samoa, a U.S. territory that is home to 65,000 people, and 125 miles from Samoa.

Mike Reynolds, superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa, was quoted as saying four tsunami waves 15 to 20 feet high roared ashore soon afterward, reaching up to a mile inland. Holly Bundock, spokeswoman for the National Park Service's Pacific West Region in Oakland, Calif., said Reynolds spoke to officials from under a coconut tree uphill from Pago Pago Harbor and reported that the park's visitor center and offices appeared to have been destroyed.

Bundock said Reynolds and another park service staffer had been able to locate only 20 percent of the park's 13 to 15 employees and 30 to 50 volunteers. The National Park of American Samoa is the only national park south of the equator, a scenic expanse of reefs, picturesque beaches, tropical forests and wildlife that include sea turtles and flying foxes, a type of fruit bat.

Barry Rose, the owner of the Coconuts Beach Club in Western Samoa, told NBC News that his hotel took a direct hit, with several buildings completely destroyed. He said one guest was unaccounted for and one member of his staff was in the hospital with minor injuries. All guests have been evacuated either to the hospital or to other hotels on the island, he said.
He said the wave hit less than a minute after warning sirens went off.

Quake lasted two to three minutes

Residents in both Samoa and American Samoa reported being shaken awake by the quake, which lasted two to three minutes. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a general alert from American Samoa to New Zealand; Tonga suffered some coastal damage from 13-foot waves.

Mase Akapo, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in American Samoa, said at least 14 people were killed in four different villages on the main island of Tutuila, while 20 people died neighboring Samoa. The initial quake was followed by at three aftershocks of at least 5.6 magnitude.

An Associated Press reported saw the bodies of about 20 victims in a hospital at Lalomanu town on the south coast of the main island, Upolu, and said the surrounding tourist coast had been flattened, with the dead including those who hesitated to leave right after the quake.

An unspecified number of fatalities and injuries were reported in the Samoan village of Talamoa. New Zealander Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was leveled.

"It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out," Ansell told New Zealand's National Radio from a hill near Samoa's capital, Apia. "There's not a building standing. We've all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need 'round here."
The Samoan capital was virtually deserted with schools and businesses closed.
Local media said they had reports of some landslides in the Solosolo region of the main Samoan island of Upolu and damage to plantations in the countryside outside Apia.

American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono was at his Honolulu office assessing the situation but was having difficulty getting information, said Filipp Ilaoa, deputy director of the office.

Scene of destruction

Rescue workers found a scene of destruction and debris with cars overturned or stuck in mud, and rockslides hit some roads. Several students were seen ransacking a gas station/convenience store.

Rear Adm. Manson Brown, Coast Guard commander for the Pacific region, said the Coast Guard is in the early stages of assessing what resources to send to American Samoa. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. John Titchen said a C-130 was being dispatched Wednesday to deliver aid, assess damage and take the governor back home. A New Zealand air force P3 Orion maritime search airplane also was being sent.
One of the runways at Pago Pago (Pan-go, pan-go) International Airport was being cleared of widespread debris for emergency use, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said in Los Angeles.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was deploying teams to American Samoa to provide support and on the ground assessment.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of American Samoa and all those in the region who have been affected by these natural disasters," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

Dangerous waves in the forecast

The ramifications of the tsunami could be felt thousands of miles away, with federal officials saying strong currents and dangerous waves were forecast from California to Washington state. No major flooding was expected, however.
The earthquake and tsunami were big, but not on the same large scale of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami that killed more than 150,000 across Asia the day after Christmas in 2004, said tsunami expert Brian Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey in Seattle.
The 2004 earthquake was at least 10 times stronger than the 8.0 to 8.3 measurements being reported for Tuesday's quake, Atwater said. It's also a different style of earthquake than the one that hit in 2004.
The tsunami hit American Samoa about 25 minutes after the quake, which is similar to the travel time in 2004, Atwater said. The big difference is there were more people in Indonesia at risk than in Samoa.