Tell The Truth & Shame The Devil

After the show  РImage: Instagram

Well maybe the elephant was only in my room, but I’m going to mention it anyway.

I hadn’t been on the Verzuz ‘battle’ train from inception. In fact, I only became mildly interested when I heard that Monica and Brandy (who’ve had a decades-long manufactured rivalry) were going to duke it out musically, but I gladly hopped on board when it was announced that Ms. Patti (LaBelle) and Gladys Knight were up next.

The lead-up on social media was epic. People couldn’t wait. They were hauling out interviews and guest appearances from years ago in which the two singers were featured. Patti was notorious for throwing down in the kitchen, so people were posting their menus for Sunday dinner – which I imagined they would have been consuming with Ciroc, which, if you lived in the US you could have had delivered to your home in less than an hour.

The people at Verzuz asked you to leave your church clothes on all day, ’cause this was an event – and you would have been glad you did when you saw Auntie Gladys appear in that sequined pantsuit, not to be outdone by – as one commenter put it – Dionne Warwick in the “crispiest” white pantsuit. (Yes, I’m just here for the comments). Snippets from concerts were featured. The divas themselves made promos for the ‘battle’ filled with much love and affection for each other. It was all in good fun, and everybody was looking forward to hearing their favourite songs from both of them, but everybody just knew that Patti was going to wipe the floor with Gladys.

In a classic case of CP time, the event didn’t start exactly at 8:00, and for a bit, we were treated to a view of two empty white chairs atop a brilliant red Oriental rug, flanking a table on which rested a floral centerpiece in a Ciroc-labelled container. In the background were four elegant chandeliers in the ceiling of what looked like a darkened theatre. As we know all too well from our share of Carnival fetes, there’s got to be a hype man to keep you entertained until the main act takes the stage. The DJ began to play snippets of up-tempo songs which he interspersed with queries about whether we were ready for Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle.

Well the expectation couldn’t get any higher and finally the ladies appeared – Gladys in the aforementioned sequined pantsuit in rose gold and Patti in a charcoal two-piece ensemble, completely appropriate for Sunday service. That’s the first thing that gave me pause. The nails were done and the heels were high but…

So as if we didn’t know that they’d been chatting it up backstage already, they both came out and continued the conversation, which prompted someone to comment that it was probably going to be a long night. I looked at the time. I supposed that I could stand to be up a little past 10:00 on account of some good singing. Gladys was the first up to bat and came out swinging. She had a band somewhere in the dark where we couldn’t see, and they were holding her steady. And then it was Patti’s turn and she was singing – but I was hearing her voice on the track too. And like any accomplished artist, she was wasn’t singing exactly like the recording, so it was kind of distracting. And I’m looking at her face to see if she is as upset as I am that the DJ is playing the wrong track because it should be the one with just the back-ups, and I see her still smiling and I say to myself, that’s the professional in her and the song fades and she settles back into her seat to let Gladys do her second song and give them guys in the back time to get their s_t right for her next song.

And there’s a little banter between them again. They talked about their ages, and when they had their children and who was older and how hard they worked at their craft and who was older… . And then it’s Gladys’s turn again and her voice oozes into her second song – again with live accompaniment and we are loving it. She’s not leaving her chair, but her voice is just like we remembered it. Then we heard the introductory bars for Patti’s next song and she begins to sing again – as does the voice on the recording. What the…? And because I hadn’t tuned in to any of the previous expositions, I began to wonder whether this was what everybody else had done. Patti leaves her seat to do a jig – because you can’t really stay seated for the theme song from Beverly Hills Cop and I’m moving too – but by this time my heart’s just not in it. And wouldn’t you know, pretty soon Gladys’s band packs up and leaves her to sing the rest of her set (including Midnight Train), to tracks as well. Clearly, Gladys knew she was well on the way to winning this thing, so she figured she’d make it a fair fight. I never did get to see and hear Dionne join them in That’s What Friends Are For.

The next day I scoured Instagram and social media in general for reviews of the show, thinking that a few people might have shared my disappointment at how the whole thing turned out. I found the many comments from the people who were falling all over themselves in the general feel-good stampede that pertained on the night of the event, but which were surprisingly absent the morning after – save for the comments about their class and grace and longevity in the business.

Which is all true. But if you ask me whether I enjoyed the ‘battle’? I might be in the minority here – but it’s a ‘No’ for me.

Home Work

Work It!

Who are these eight (or sixteen) parents who are going to be homeschooling their children? Apparently, not all of us were anxious to have them return to the petri dishes called schools. The news article, published a few days ago said that eight students had been approved for homeschooling – and seven were pending! (They’re going to have to hurry up though – the term’s already started). But it has to be a set of retired teachers behind these applications! The high number of requests is of course the result of the Covid 19 pandemic, but I gathered from the article that there were literally one or two children being homeschooled before. I’m thinking that these new entrants to the homeschooling game might want to seek out the parents who have been doing this for a while…

We’ve all seen the memes and hilarious videos posted during the lockdown as parents everywhere tried to “help” their children with learning, the overwhelming conclusion being that most parents were out of their depth. Some schools clearly had it together, but the ones who were playing catch up were sorely tested by the younger students whose attention spans were shorter than the already truncated online sessions, and who required a little more hands-on assistance from a parent trying to work a platform to submit the child’s assignment on time.

Hopefully a more permanent learn-from-home situation will be better than the current work-from-home experience some of us are having. The first advantage of course being that since it’s actually face-to-face it shouldn’t matter if the internet decides to play a slow waltz in the morning and a dirge in the afternoon. They’ll be no Zooming, so it won’t matter if the connection is slightly schizophrenic resulting in you leaving and rejoining the meeting multiple times in the hopes of getting better reception. There won’t be any phone calls seemingly made from underwater requiring you to block one ear and concentrate hard to hear what the other person is saying, with the other. There may be a few power outtages, which will likely increase the heat index in your home – but you’ll be on your own with that one. Optimally, learning from home will mean having a dedicated area for classes to be conducted and work to be done, something persons working from home are all too familiar with, since it might mean commandeering the dining table for your monitor and pressing a stool or shelf or two into service in order to hold all manner of other work accoutrements.

One of the major requirements for consideration for homeschooling is the submission of an education plan spanning at least one year, the article quoted an official from the Ministry of Education as saying. That means that successful applicants have already done quite a significant amount of work. Lately, I’ve been saying that I’ll try almost anything, but teaching children – even my own (of course I’m talking way back when they didn’t think they knew everything) – would not be one of them. I’ve been doffing my hat to teachers for years now because theirs’ is one I’d never willingly wear. That’s probably why there are two applications on “hold”, from parents who have “applied to have their children homeschooled, and then for one reason or another they decide No, I’m not going to do it”, the official also said.

No judgement here.

Body Language

Choose your position well

When I rebooted my Instagram page and changed it from a display of random photos to a concentration on this blog, I said that I realized that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I promised not to use too many of them in order to keep my stories short – attention spans being what they are. What I didn’t remember was that besides providing a visual for a story, pictures can also have hidden meanings – if you have one to send, that is.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I received a private message from a viewer who told me in no uncertain terms that I shouldn’t have posted the picture that heralded a previous blog post because it had not one, but two hidden messages. *Looks around* Neither of which I put there. I was encouraged to research for myself, and to consider taking it down because of the message it might send – to the people who were looking for it or who knew what to look for. I appreciated the heads up. I researched as suggested, thanked the person for his/her concern and left my picture right where it was.

My research did mention the meanings the helpful page owner listed, but I also found other innocuous “meanings” that the reader didn’t mention, or maybe didn’t happen to know. I’m aware that there’s history and meanings behind certain actions – like lowered pants with boxers showing, shaved eyebrows and teardrop tattoos, and both my husband and I have encouraged our children to look up the ‘trends’ before they get on board, but I don’t have the time to look for every hidden message that could possibly be lurking in the picture for my next weekly installment. But since I can’t very well insist that the children do it and not do it myself – and I had a little time this week, here’s what I found out…

…That unless I plugged in the actual symbol or action, Google isn’t going to roll out a listing of things that have hidden meanings. However, I did end up getting a crash course in “Body Language” [said in my Ursula voice].

I found out that sitting cross-legged on the floor signifies openness. That the ability to stand on one leg for more than twenty seconds is a good sign that your brain is working well.¬† (I reommend trying this with your eyes closed). Putting your hands behind your back denotes fearlessness, superiority or confidence, but some say you shouldn’t do that because the person you’re relating to can’t really see your hands. And don’t sit on them either. If your hand is under your chin – which is a popular pose in pictures – it can be considered a rude gesture (if your fingers don’t remain under your chin i.e flicking), or a signal that you’re interested in a person (if you wiggle your fingers) or it may simply be a convenient thing to do while taking a picture if you’re looking for something to do with your hands. Or maybe it’s Grace Face…You’re welcome to look that up.

The head tilt, while a winning pose, could mean you’re giving tacit agreement or you’re flirting with whoever’s looking. Are you using a lowered gaze? Is it to indicate modesty or to draw the viewer in? Are you looking over your shoulder in your photo because you think something bad might happen or do you think it makes you look cute? Well, you get the point.

Lest you think that I strayed from the topic at hand, however, Google did give me lots of examples of hidden meanings in popular company logos, sports teams logos, dreams, songs, whole music albums, TV episodes, videos, video games, tattoos, jewelry, paintings, other people’s words and everyday objects. It told me how to find hidden meanings in photographs (by looking for items placed in the photographs), things you shouldn’t do when taking photographs, places where you shouldn’t take photographs and things you don’t actually need to photograph. Even Beyonce’s visual album “Black Is King” is dissected for its hidden meanings…But maybe I just didn’t know what to ask.

In the end, since only ignorance of the law is no excuse, you’ll have to forgive me if hidden meanings and secret messages sometimes pop up in the pictures I present. I’m just hoping that people come for the read. Just in case though, I’ll put a disclaimer in the comments, ’cause you just never know. Some people say that if you’re looking for something you will eventually find it.