Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou


"Anyway you fix me LORD; I'll be satisfied". Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston: "Your love is My love.

Whitney Houston: Going Home February 18, 2012

The decision by Whitney Houston's family to call their final tribute to the late entertainer a "home going" ceremony in the church where she sang as a young girl, New Hope Baptist Church, Newark NJ,  brought her close to the many devotees who loved her and listened to her music for over 30 years. It is worth mentioning that when Whitney sang, her eyes often looked up to the heavens, to her source of inspiration.

Many of the tributes at the ceremony were religiously inspired in the Baptist tradition, and in the face of an early death were perhaps comforting to those who wondered how a troubled passing could happen to someone so gifted.
From Whitney Houston we have learned that music, was love. When her voice started to fail during hard times, she was left without the instrument of her divinity. Everything about her comeback in recent years had to do with getting back on stage, on screen, making albums and expressing her gift to her fans.
Clive Davis, who Houston called her "industry father", remarked that she was sure to "raise the roof in heaven like no one else has done before". No doubt, she has done that on earth, especially her home state New Jersey where flags were flown today at half mast.

Brother in law Ray Watson, Houston's real bodyguard - “Uncle Ray “ reminded the world, “we don’t need to ridicule artists”.  It is not just about the price of a ticket that counts to an artist, he said, but to be acknowledged with love. He explained how Whitney flew all around the world on a demanding schedule, and that she did it for the love of music and her fans. Houston learned that it was a tough business after her initial successes, which we heard in interviews with Diane Sawyer and Oprah Winfrey in recent years.

Aunt Dionne Warwick read the poem "I'm Free" by Shannon Lee Moseley in honor of her niece. This for many of her fans, family and friends was also of comfort no matter how many would have wanted Whitney Houston here today.
An excerpt:
“My life's been full, I savored much;
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.
Perhaps my time seems all too brief;
Don't lengthen your pain with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and peace to thee,
God wanted me now - He set me free”.

There was time for laughter too at the ceremony. Warwick joked to Houston after she sang the "National Anthem" in such an illuminating way at Super Bowl XXV, "what's next, the phone book?"

According to sister in law and former manager Patricia Houston, Whitney’s love of God was strong: "Anyway you fix me LORD; I'll be satisfied", she had said.
Patricia consoled Whitney's mother Cissy Houston, telling her that she had done her best. Pastor Marvin Winans who ended the tribute with a rousing sermon also comforted "Mama Cissy": "You brought the world to church today".  

The church choir where Houston sang solo performed the introductory hymn "Grateful" by Hezekiah Walker and later accompanied gospel singer Kim BurrellStevie Wonder rearranged his lyrics from "Ribbon in the Sky" for Whitney, and Alicia Keyes sang a soulful ballad to Houston - "Send Me an Angel".

Kevin Costner, co-star and producer of The Bodyguard (1992), where Whitney made her film debut, spoke about holding back production for a year while Whitney was on tour to make sure she would be in it, and later supporting her through the screen test she was terrified to do for the studio. Costner spoke about the background of the title song of the film, "I Will Always Love You" which became Whitney's biggest hit and number one on the charts nationally and around the world. Costner said the song was chosen over "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted". He told the church that he and Whitney Houston shared experiences of growing up in the Baptist church on the movie set.

The "Home Going" was an important closure for Whitney Houston’s fans, family and friends. The streaming coverage on the Internet offset the media commentary we have been bombarded with this past week - rumors, insinuations, criticism and speculation.
The tribute, which as Pastor Marvin Winans remarked "had more celebrities in the room than the Grammys", did not focus on personalities but on the woman everyone came to honor. The camera was placed at the back of the church with no closeups.

CNN also covered the streamed event of the ceremony devoid of commentary until after the ceremony. As expected, the invasive style customary of mass media began. But for four hours, this sober and warm ceremony was a beautiful homage to Whitney Houston, something the public groomed on celebrity news is unused to experiencing.

"Home Going" put the life of Whitney Houston into a loving perspective and allowed us to say goodbye to the artist whose music will live on. As her golden casket was carried out of the church, “I Will Always Love You” took on new meaning for the young girl who was born with the greatest gift of all: the ability to love and express love through music. This song became her goodbye to us all.


Whitney Houston, we will embrace your divinity, always.

This photograph accompanied an article which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday on Valentine's Day, February 14:

Whitney Houston: Her burden was also ours. 

This article made me better understand a woman's comments today. She said she didn't want to listen to Whitney Houston because she was an addict, and didn't live the themes of her songs and made so much money off of them. She had actually never heard that addiction is an illness.  This belief is still widespread and has re-surfaced with Houston's death.

Houston's later financial difficulties despite all her successes was in part due to that she only had "artist" royalties for radio spins and albums. The lion's share went to Sony and the songwriters. She didn't write the majority of her hits, she sang them.* However, she clearly had assets in the millions. The music mogul who brought the young Houston to prominence was Clive Davis. She was in Hollywood to attend his pre-Grammy party at the hotel where she died. Twenty four hours after her death 61,000 albums of her "Greatest Hits" were sold.  Davis helped support her at the end of her life, and it was only right, as she made him millions of dollars.

The phenomenal vocalist was groomed for a role that she couldn't live up to in the long run, or rather chose not to. It was an image that she rejected that many still wanted her to have. We did not want the new one, the one with Bobby Brown, the reality TV shows, the erratic behavior, the using. 

Addiction is an illness

Whitney Houston's early year achievements and performances from the 80's through the 90's commanded national media attention. Drug and alcohol abuse put her health in a downward spiral in the new millennium. This event gathered equally copious vigilance .

"The ride was not worth the fall". 

 "The rapacious creditor" thrives in the music and entertainment industry with fatal conviction: Judy Garland, 46, Michael Jackson, 51, Marilyn Monroe, 36, Jimi Hendrix, 28, Janis Joplin, 27, Jim Morrison, 28, Amy Winehouse, 28, Whitney Houston, 48.  It is a widespread illness that respects no one. 

Many surrounding Whitney Houston "enabled" her -  kept her ill by not properly understanding what it means to be clean and sober (no substances, including alcohol). These actions included prescribing addictive substances, engaging her too quickly in the demanding work of an entertainer when she needed time to recover, inviting her to parties where alcohol was served and offering her drinks.  Recovery from addiction is not about "almost having it all", it's about having it all, with conscientious help.

It is our burden as we watched helplessly, expecting her to get miraculously better on her own, and looking down on her, because she didn't have the "will power" to recover on her own. Reflecting an attitude that even the ancient Greeks understood: that substance abuse is an illness that changes a person, causing them to lose their divinity.

No one can or should recover, alone.

Whitney Houston, we will embrace your divinity, always.

* Songs written by Whitney Houston


Whitney Houston 1963-2012

A beautiful talented artist with sheer virtuosity

Whitney Houston: Queen of the Night, "The Bodyguard"

Special to the San Francisco -
February 11, 2012
by Moira Sullivan

Queen of the Night

The Bodyguard (1992) is a timeless memento of vocalist Whitney Houston. It is one of the few films she made in her extraordinary music career.  Others include Forest Whitaker's Waiting to Exhale (1995) and Penny Marshall's The Preacher's Wife (1996), both where Houston was nominated for Image awards for best actress. Her new film Sparkle will be released this year about drug and alcohol abuse in the lives of three sisters who form a successful singing group. In the beginning stages of production for 2013, was a sequel to Waiting to Exhale where Houston would return to play Savannah Jackson.

At it's premiere in 1992, The Bodyguard  opened to negative reviews. The criticism was aimed at the direction  (Mike Jackson), script (Lawrence Kasdan), and film style --but not Houston, and certainly not her mesmerizing performance in the film. She adapted  Linda Ronstadt's cover of "I Will Always Love You" written by Dolly Parton and together with Clive Davis produced the music for the film.  In her phrasing, Houston shows her virtuosity and brilliance as an artist, in a song emulated by young vocalists for years.

The feature is built around pop diva, Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston), who is being stalked by a sadistic killer. The film features elaborate costume changes and stagecraft. Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is hired by Marron's manager to protect her but soon finds it hard to resist her charm, even though he has been trained to not respond to people with social etiquette. Marron is a vocalist who does need protection and that is what Farmer does.

The claim that the film was considered a breakthrough for interracial dating is inflated. The relationship between the two is limited since Farmer breaks it off before it even begins, and shows little personal attention to Rachel afterwards. She is, on the other hand, eternally grateful to him for saving her life, which is how the theme song "I Will Always Love You" fits with the narrative. The title song has more do with Rachel Marron's unrequited feelings of love for the man who cannot share her life.

On their one date, Farmer takes Marron to the movies to see The Seven Samurai (1954) by Akira Kurosawa, and afterwards to his home where she picks up his samurai sword. Farmer then takes the sword from her and throws her sheer pink shawl up in the air, which the sword slices like butter. This facile detail represents that Marron is no match for Farmer's raw strength, something which is proven the following morning when he calls the date a mistake. This conquest of a great star, who must be totally subjugated in order for him to protect her, endears him to her forever.

Although The Bodyguard is about the buildup and breakdown of Rachel Marron. a powerful woman who winds up falling for her bodyguard, it is more appropriately a showcase of Whitney Houston and her talents. It features the song that has become most associated with her - "I Will Always Love You", who took it to a level that the song writer never did. In her phrasing, Houston shows her virtuosity and brilliance as an artist, in a song emulated by young vocalists for years.

Whitney, Bobby Brown, Cissy Houston,and Robyn Crawford
According to Houston's high school friend and number one assistant for many years, Robyn Crawford, Whitney had already thought about doing a cover of Dolly Parton's song before Kevin Costner approached her. "She did the movie, she did the music [co-writer of "Queen of the Night"], she did everything", said Crawford, "— and when she was done, she was done. She nailed it. The music supervisor brought her Linda Ronstadt's version of "I Will Always Love You" way before Kevin Costner brought Dolly Parton's version — and she always knew what she could do with it. So when Kevin came in and played it for her and told her he wanted her to sing it for the movie, she said, "Fine." She wasn't much for showing off what she had, except when she had to".

Houston was at the pinnacle of her career when The Bodyguard was made, and even if it isn't the best directed or best written film, it was still a popular centerpiece for the artist.

The Bodyguard shows us the strength and determination that is necessary for a beautiful soul with incredible talent to have a successful career at the expense of a fulfilling personal life. Rachel Marron's temperamental personality as a pop diva is driven by the fact that everyone wants a piece of her. We acquire realistic insights about how life can be for a major vocalist in the public eye, like Houston.

The sad news of Whitney Houston's death February 11, 2012 comes twenty years after The Bodyguard was released, when this brilliant vocalist was only 28.


"It's All About Music and the Love": Whitney Houston

This is the best rendition of this signature song of Whitney Houston, clearly showing her artistry and her creation at work in the moment before a live audience in 1999.  Bless Whitney Houston for her gift to us.

This clip shows the amazing collaboration of Whitney Houston and up and coming Mary J Blige..this is a really sad day feeling all this woman gave us and how much a part of our lives her music is. Bless You Whitney Houston, my personal favorite vocalist of all time....


The Final Episode: Xena: Warrior Princess

From the archives of CinéFemme Forum

Mt Olympus, Lesbos Greece
The Xena : Warrior Princess series is classic, and invites viewers to behold it years after the episodes ended in 2001. I watched Xena now and then in Greece during summer vacations when the show was broadcast, dubbed in Greek. But I had no idea that Xena was Thracian and Mt Olympus was located on the very island of Lesbos where I was, the birthplace of Sappho. Women went to a particular souvlaki tavern to catch the show on the TV, and I have finally understood their enthusiasm years later, having recently finished watching all six seasons this week.
Yes, there are still spectators out their discovering Xena for the first time.

I went to my first convention last month and wrote a report for San Francisco Convention 2010: Still Alive and Living in Los Angeles and did a radio interview for Movie Magazine Intl, San Francisco with Steven L Sears featured on webradio this week.
I realize that my experiences are like others who have discovered and will discover the magic of Xena: Warrior Princess. But many things came clear to me about the series in the final episode.

I knew beforehand that Xena dies in the end. My sister told me and I was crushed But knowing this made me pay attention to premonitions of her eventual destruction. I noticed that there was always this cloud of atonement in the air. Xena had died before and came back to life but nowhere as brutal as in the last episode. It is not only that Xena was killed, but how she was killed.

The Greek Fates or Moirae: Clotho (Κλωθώ),  "spinner" of the thread of life,
Lachesis (Λάχεσις) ,"alloter" of the thread of life allotted to each person,
(Ἄτροπος, "unturning"),  the cutter of the thread

Xena: Warrior Princess devotees, this series would never have founds its true momentum. Thank you Xenites, for being a source of inspiration.
I am still feeling a chill about that last episode.....and a lot of sadness....

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed, So Where was Gabrielle?

The relationship between Gabrielle and Xena was carefully established over the years. Watching Gabrielle come into her own power and learn to fight like a warrior was remarkable, but it never ceased to amaze me how skilled Xena was.  She could take on more than several foes at once, and rescued Gabrielle countless times.
In the final episode Xena asks Gabrielle where they should go next. In synch with her question, a monk arrives with a beautiful sword that once belonged to Xena and he tells her that her services are requested in the East.
The soul-eating demon Yodoshi has been snatching people’s souls right and left so Akemi sends for the “Warrior Princess”  to  set things right.   Xena met Akemi a long time ago and followed her presumably to get the ransom on her head from her family. Along the way Akemi stops by her grandfather’s grave. His spirit tells her that Xena needs a better sword. The warrior princess has to fight for a mighty one from the arrogant sword makers who don’t want to make one for a woman. The monk delivers this to her with Akemi’s request. Xena has to go, and Gabrielle must follow:  "where you go, I go".

Akemi’s father Yodoshi turned into a demon after she put “the pinch” on him which Xena taught her. The pinch causes blood to rush to the brain and death in 30 seconds. Gabrielle is astonished that she would have taught this to Akemi. Perhaps now we know why Xena always hesitated to teach it to Gabrielle. She told Gabrielle that Akemi broke her heart and was the first woman to teach her about love. Well, talk about it anyway, as Xena didn’t understand that Akemi’s rapidly beating heart was a sign of passion.  It was hard to figure out  Akemi's  motives from the very beginning. After Akemi puts the pinch on her father, she suddenly commits Harakiri with a sword. Her dying wish is for Xena to take her ashes to a special shrine for protection. This tragic event causes Xena to momentarily become an alcoholic, and stumble through the streets carrying Akemi’s ashes. The villagers have hacked off her hair. When they attack her again, the urn breaks into pieces and the ashes scatter. In defense Xena takes one of their torches of fire, to defend herself, a fire that spreads through the entire village. She learns later that 40,000 people lost their lives that day. And whose fault was that?

On her new visit to the “Land of the Rising Sun” (Japan), the soul-eating demon Yodoshi has prepared a welcome for Xena with a ton of soldiers. They first set fire to a village. Xena asks Gabrielle what she would do in this case, the first time, and  a premonition of the retreat of the Warrior Princess.  Gabrielle suggests using acrobatics to approach the water tower for extinguishing the flames. “Its not what I would have done”, Xena says afterwards, “but it worked”. Xena teaches her "the pinch," and tells her that if there were 30 seconds remaining in her life, she would only feel love for Gabrielle. Tidings of things to come.
Akemi’s ghost lives in a teahouse outside of town with two other ghouls. When Xena visits, one of them alerts Yodoshi who comes running. He warns Xena what he has in store for her and that she will lose her head. Akemi knows what she is in store for too, but doesn’t tell the whole story, and never has. Xena learns hat she must die to enter the underworld and conquer Yodoshi. But Akemi doesn’t warn her there is no way back after her death.

That a manipulative and child-like waif who is a super tease leads Xena to her death is allowed to reek havoc on the warrior’s life is astonishing after so many tests and ordeals through the series. The fire that took so many lives was started in self defense because of Akemi’s sudden death and Xena’s despair, and it was  hardly an act of malice that the fire spread so quickly.  What about the conscience of the villagers for shaming a woman and ridiculing and tormenting her? But should this end the love she experiences with Gabrielle. Isn’t Xena smarter after all of these years to fall for Akemi's games? Isn't Gabrielle worthy of a life with her? Apparently not. Xena buries her copper breast plate, and adorns a royal warrior outfit with silver and crimson trim, and strikes out on her own to conquer an enormous army, without Gabrielle. She does well in the battle. She sets the soldiers ammunition on fire, which creates a huge mushroom cloud, and takes many of them out with her bow and arrow. The Captain instructs his warriors to unleash a barrage of arrows, several which hit her and wear down her strength. The warriors then attack her with swords. Xena cries out for Gabrielle, unable to hold her own alone any longer. Why would she have done this if she didn’t have the will to live?  And why, for once does Gabrielle not appear ? The Captain marches up to Xena and hacks off her head. The screen goes red, and fortunately we don’t have to witness the beheading. A bloody chakram lays on the ground, used only once when it could have saved her life. Later when Gabrielle finds Xena’s naked body hung up outside a shed and we see her devastated and tear stained face, we know the murder has been brutal.

The Captain tells Gabrielle that Xena was a worthy fighter, but she counters that she died dishonorably, was unfairly outnumbered and slaughtered. She asks to see her head, which is propped up on a nearby plank like a trophy. Gabrielle avenges her death by killing the Captain and refusing to cut off his head. She returns to the little teahouse and meets Xena, who has not yet understood she is dead, for when she reaches for her chakram she cannot grasp it in her hand. She tells Gabrielle that death is the only way to conquer Yodoshi. Gabrielle believes her and burns her body. On the second sunset she is to take Xena’s ashes in a magic spring in order for her to return. When the Captain shows up again and attacks Gabrielle, the urn rolls away. After defeating Yodoshi and seeing that the souls he has captured will be condemned, Xena tells Gabrielle to forget about her ashes. She has to stay dead to atone for the 40, 000 dead souls. Gabrielle is stunned and crushed but accepts it, perhaps all too quickly. Most fans did not.

Writer RJ Stewart scripted this problematic narrative.  Throughout the series, and despite subtle hints, it finally registers that the romanticized “friendship” of Xena and Gabrielle truly fits with the ending. Having Xena by her side in spirit should be enough for Gabrielle. They have experienced being soul mates through declarations of love to each other, or when the frequently injured Gabrielle is held by Xena. In the end, Gabrielle attends to Xena’s corpse and must say farewell to her life on earth. Soul mates or not, enduring screen love is not for same sex mortals like Gabrielle and Xena. Xena has died and gone to heaven, the biggest myth of all. The parallels are transparent. "What greater love than he who laid down his life for our sins". For didn't the villagers attack and torment a grieving woman on the streets of their village, who forgave them, and gave them eternal peace?

When commenting on the episode years later, director Robert Tapert does most of the talking in the video commentary. It is his creation. Lucy Lawless looks somewhat glum while Gabrielle is gushing with comments, true to the character they played. In the preceding episode “When Fates Collide”, both Lawless and husband Tapert make a curious comment about Xena’s love for Gabrielle. While hanging on the cross, Xena says, “ I love you Gabrielle”. Lawless frowns, and says the declaration was "forced". "Yes", says Robert,” it was forced”. Did  Lawless mean that she felt "forced" to say this? Or that she should have said it more convincingly? This is in the MAIN TEXT, not SUBTEXT. For is it not appropriate to exclaim love after taking Gabrielle’s place on the cross? 
Sacrifice is the stuff of Greek tragedies. Gabrielle gets to love Xena in spirit for the rest of her life after the final episode, as it pretty much has been all along. And with chakram on waist, Tapert exclaims, “Its Gabrielle; Warrior Princess, but we couldn’t sell it". Was this the plan? Had Lawless decided to quit and pass the series on to O'Connor?

Endings where women atone for their past with their lives, where women are beaten and assaulted after kicking ass with superior skill for more than six years are problematic. It would be more honest to end in a manner more like Lawrence of Arabia and have Xena fall from a horse in an accident far removed from the battlefield.

So Sad to Fall in Battle is the story of the Japanese General Tadamichi Kuribayashi who lost the campaign at Iwo Jima during World War II. He refused to risk the life of his men in suicidal banzai attacks, but to fight defensively. Isn’t a suicidal attack what the Warrior Princess must do in the end? Suicidal missions have happened before in the series for Xena to clear away the wreckage of her past. The rush of adrenalin released in life threatening missions is the same substance that hooks bungee jumpers, ski divers and rally car drivers.
Gabrielle is not allowed to persuade Xena to remain alive, as Xena so many times has done for her.  Must her demise be the same as Akemi’s with confinement to the underworld ? Why is Akemi’s fate intertwined so much with Xena's?. Isn't it more with Gabrielle? Thank "The Fates" for fan fiction like“The Shipper:  7th Season”.

Lucy Lawless previously said that “Xena is not real”.  Perhaps not, but her character was made “real” through countless courageous and daring episodes affirmed by a dedicated following. Episodes speak to that devotee base. Most of us did NOT think this ending was believable. Xena deserved an honorable death, and was not given one: it was this Xena who was not “real”. Last year Lawless agreed: the ending not only hurt "the fans" but went against the grain of the episodes.

One final compelling question: in their adventures, Xena and Gabrielle have met historical figures such as Caesar, Homer, and Hippocrates. Why in heading towards the end of the season did Gabrielle not get to go to a play by Sappho on her birthday and meet her, but only get a piece of her poetry?
It is erroneously claimed that Sappho died for the love of a younger man by Greeks who are ashamed or threatened of the poet who loved women
(this kind of myth making is also at work in Xena in the episodes).  There have been legal battles to change the name of Lesbos to Mytilini, the capital city of the island where Sappho was born and ran a school for women, and for Greeks to have exclusive rights to the use of “Lesbian to designate "an inhabitant of Lesbos" ( Everyone on Lesbos is a "Lesbian").

Sappho should have been in the Xena series. And Gabrielle and Xena should have also experienced corporeal rather than only romantic love.As Sappho wrote, “Aphrodite crowned in gold, please let this piece of luck be mine”.
Sappho was a right on woman....

χενα lives....