Monday, July 30, 2007

Christopher Walken in someone else's kitchen

Christopher Walken, will your talents ever end?

Family entertainment every Wednesday

The Big Bang Boom at the Blind Tiger last week was apparently such a smash success that they're making it a regular gig for a while.

  • What? Kid's music that parents will find themselves humming
  • When? Every Wednesday, from 3 - 4
  • Where? The Blind Tiger (on Walker Ave in Greensboro)
  • How much? $3 for kids over 2 and adults without kids (this isn't one of those weird Chuck E Cheese things - the music is really just that good - but don't take my word for it. Listen here); kids under 2 and parents in free

Thursday, July 26, 2007

SCotSish games

Southern Culture on the Skids added games in its most recent Web re-design - such enduring classics as Greenback Fly, in which you "stop the humongoid greenback flies from taking over the trailer park!" and Hillbilly Hangman, for which you should, "pull out your downward mobility dickshunary."

If only Hillbilly Hangman tracked which letters you already used, it would rival Throw Paper! for potential time suckage. Alas.

Christians United for Israel's annual Washington-Israel Summit

Speak of the dev... er... savior, Max Blumenthal has a captivating post and video on Huffington Post about his recent visit to the Christians United for Israel's annual Washington-Israel Summit. Not surprisingly, Leiberman is drinking the Kool-Aid.

Just for the record, I don't have an Islamic enemy, regardless of what the people in the video may think.

Conversion in the mail

I was sitting on my piano teacher's stoop when his daughter became the first person to attempt to convert me. I was maybe 10, probably a little younger. Being a Jew in the South can become its own informal social experiment, from the people who say anti-Semitic things without once considering I might be Jewish (despite my stereotypically Jewish looks) to the reactions of people who do realize. Of course, the interesting parts are the exception, not the rule. In my experience, people most often fall into the spectrum that ranges from "slightly intrigued" to "doesn't care in the least".

After a recent mention of a new job as editor Shalom Greensboro, though, a reader sent me a magazine called the Levitt Letter, on the cover of which is printed:

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. - Romans 10:1
The editorial content followed suit: extremely pro-Israel and pro-Jewish but with a condescension that is akin to humoring kids who think car washes have magic soap that can clean the interior of the car through the windows.

As I said in my letter to the woman who sent me the magazine, (in a much more polite way... though I may have blown that with this post) it takes some serious chutzpah to think you can convert a people who have resisted centuries of conversion attempts, many of which included a death penalty for noncompliance.

I appreciate that the Levitt folks are trying to love us to conversion, rather than some of the more aggressive tactics taken over the years, but "hugging it out" isn't going to be any more effective than the stuff the KGB threw at us. Sorry.

Nudes in trees

There's a whole lot to love about the Tree Spirit Project photos: beautiful, old gnarled trees covered in nude people, imagined and framed in interesting ways... and yet I can't help but wonder about the logistics of such a shot. Were they hoisted up to the tree robed, and then stripped? Or did they somehow climb the tree in their bare nekkid glory? Did the models spend days picking bark out of places their mamas haven't seen in decades?

I really shouldn't ruin beautiful art with my silly pragmatism...

Thanks for the link, Serena!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Finally, an anti-war leader I can follow

For as long as I can remember, I have looked at the leaders of the civil rights movement -at Martin Luther King, Jr., at Rosa Parks, at the Greensboro Four - and I have wondered: Who can I follow toward justice? Whose vision of America can my generation rally behind to further push our country toward the ideals our Constitution outlined?

I was sitting in a steamy auditorium at Bennett College last week when my question was finally answered by a reverend who began his speech by saying, “I love Greensboro, North Carolina, because this is where the lunch counter moment took place.”

Distracted by budgetary mishaps and accusations of mismanagement, those of us who live in this revolutionary city seem to forget that the former Woolworth’s, a shell of a building on Elm Street, was once at the epicenter of one of the most important moments in American history. The Greensboro Four compelled our country into action but it seems that we need an outsider - a man who, as far as I know, has never lived in Greensboro - to remind us of that gilded feather in our cap.

This man is Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr., CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, a nonprofit, non-partisan coalition meant to inspire and motivate those of us born after the ‘60s civil rights movement. “This is our lunch counter moment of the 21st Century,” said the Rev, as he is known in the antiwar movement. “It’s not a question of equality but a question of humanity.”

The power of the Rev’s leadership lies between the lines of his speech at Bennett and the more than two dozen speeches posted on YouTube. It is the missing element that makes him so compelling: his refreshing lack of dogmatic rhetoric.

I have heard many who attended the Greensboro antiwar rally in April complain of being distracted, and sometimes even repelled, by the fringe politics that rode piggyback on the antiwar message. As a person who fully believes that democracy carries the power to mend itself, I, too, have been turned off by those who would reject the foundations that make our country great. I have gone so far as to wonder if there is a place for me in such a movement, regardless of my antiwar convictions.

The Rev offered me that place last week. “I would like to see more people of faith [in the antiwar movement] but I am glad to stand with agnostics, atheists or anyone on the side of right,” he said, adding that people of all ethnicities and socioeconomic situations must unite if any movement is to be effective.

He stressed the need to put egos and sideline agendas away in order to focus on bringing our troops home and righting our country, and in that I heard my own concerns reflected: that many of the 70 percent of Americans who reportedly oppose the war remain on their couches because they perceive that antiwar forces want to change America rather than repair it.

In Rev. Yearwood, I see Dr. King and their shared gift for being able to motivate people through hope and empowerment and inclusion. When the Rev says “Power to the People”, he does not mean to the poor people or the rich ones, to the people of color or the Democrats or those who share his Christian faith; he means power to all compassionate Americans, all those who are guided by humanity and the belief that together, we can affect change in the best possible way.

Sleeping pup

Rob and I are certainly people of routine and it seems that our pets have followed suit. Cosmo, for example, is the baby of the family. We found him at an adoption fair, curled up in a corner amid the barking and chaos just a week after we were married. As it turns out, that level of calmness is the exception, not the rule.

Be that as it may, each morning, Cosmo shoots out of the bedroom for his morning backyard romp. As soon as he comes back in, he races back upstairs, gets back in bed and sleeps until breakfast. Even with full range of the house during the day, he won't return to his bed after that until evening. And though he is cute without even trying, I can't help but find him that much more adorable when he puts himself to bed.

Despite the temptation to take a picture of him during his early-morning nap, I hate to do anything that might disturb him during one of his rare quiet moments, so instead, a more common Cosmo sight, for your viewing pleasure:

P.S. His foster mom, who rescued Cosmo's mom, said he was born with his nubby tail
P.P.S. Photo by Rob, of course.
P.P.P.S. A hearty "way to go!" for anyone who can guess who Cosmo is named after

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How are your representatives voting?

A friend sent me a link to this rad service (that's right - rad), MegaVote, that sends regular emails letting you know how your members of Congress voted on recent legislation. I received my first email the other day and found out that both Burr and Dole voted against troop withdrawal (big shock) and that Miller continues to use his yes vote liberally (pardon the very unintentional pun... yet I'm going to leave it).

It also provides a list of upcoming votes. For example, the Farm Bill Extension Act is on the docket. This is certainly one of those bills in which reading between the lines is useful. Historically, these are the kinds of bills that encourage agribusiness, like the fencepost-to-fencepost corn that is contributing so greatly to obesity while sucking every bit of life from the earth, while making small, sustainable farming increasingly difficult.

Friday, July 20, 2007

In case you're not angry enough

Just a little reminder that your government really, truly is lying to you. Don't forget that - it's up to us to hold them accountable for these lies.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Big Bang Boom tracks

Big Bang Boom, the amazingly listenable kids' band created by Chuck Folds, has a couple of new, original tracks on their site. I particularly like Why Can't I have Ice Cream?

Be sure to check it out - then take your kids to see them play (or do what I would and borrow nephews, etc):

Linking Greensboro

I'm not really sure what my reluctance was to put links on my blog all this time. I think it was partly wanting to keep my blog really clean and simple, and partly because I had put a links page on my home site (though, admittedly, I've barely updated it since then) and perhaps even a smidge of not being sure how to decide who gets a link when there are so many great sites and blogs out there.

Be that as it may, I have snapped out of my fog and added Greensboro blogs - forgive me if I missed yours (then send me an email). Hopefully, I'll get some beyond-Greensboro blogs and sites linked soon as well. Meanwhile, enjoy surfing these great blogs!

An urban bedroom renovation

A great video from the Greensboro blog, A Little Urbanity:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Blood sucking spider at our door

For the last couple of weeks, we've had a rotating guest roster of spiders at our back sliding-glass door. For the most part, they build in the frame and don't even seem to notice the dogs running out below them for an an-of-evening bathroom break and perimeter check (okay, it's really a squirrel check, but I can dream). In the mornings, the webs are completely gone - not a trace.

Tonight, just after I let the dogs out, a bug with transparent pale green wings flew into the spider du jour's web. In a matter of seconds, it was wrapped into a little bundle and hauled to the center of the web where it seem to be drained not only of blood, but also of air and mass... the cocoon just kept getting smaller, losing the tautness of its wrapping.

I found the whole thing oddly reassuring; Mother Nature goes marching on.

Vote to Impeach

Sign the petition Cindy Sheehan will be presenting in Washington at the end of her Journey for Humanity: We up to over 900,000 signatures - help push it to over a million!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cindy Sheehan, back in Greensboro

That's right - the righteous rabble rouser herself (and I do mean that in the most admiring of ways) has not only reengaged her activism but will be coming through Greensboro on Wednesday, en route to Washington. Her itinerary:
  • 2:00 pm Congressman Mel Watts office, 301 S. Green Street Suite 210 Greensboro NC
  • 6pm Event at Bennett College (Little Theater), 900 E. Washington St.
I have yet to tease out why there are so few people actively protesting - I certainly don't spend my evenings picketing downtown like some of my friends. For me, it is the turn-off of fringe politics tainting my desire to be aligned with the anti-war movement; maybe for you, it is a fear of being conspicuous or putting yourself too far out on the line.

But body mass counts in ending this war, and right now the only body mass being counted are the dead among American military and Iraqi civilians. We are all responsible for exercising our rights as citizens by making our views known.

At the very least, impeachment would show the world that this bully of a president, this fascist law-breaker wearing "compassionate conservative" clothing, does not represent us, the good and decent citizens of America.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My career path sort of meanders

This column was originally published in the News & Record on July 11, 2007

Despite a great deal of thought put into the answer, there is always one question that stumps me when meeting people: What do you do?

It is a straightforward enough question, I know. Many people even have a tidy one-word answer like “teacher” or “astronaut”. I don’t even have a single overarching theme – a fact that brings no end of confusion when attempting to answer the aforementioned question, and no end of enjoyment in my life.

Despite attempting the expected linear path from education to career to retirement, I have found myself as an unintentional practitioner of multiple income sources. People have written books about it, and some have made millions in their various endeavors. I stumbled across it while attempting to earn a few extra bucks during the start-up period of my first business, a personal chef service, then when transitioning from cooking to writing. I joke that I am a job collector, but the fact is that I have an automatic “yes” reflex when it comes to any experience from which I can learn something or work with people I enjoy. Working from home, often in pajamas (as is the state in which this very column is so often written) is the rhinestone bedazzling on the comfy sweat suit of my career.

These days, I’ve abandoned the common analogy of careers as paths in favor of stream imagery, with my career flowing at its own pace, guided by the landscape of opportunity rather than some predetermined set of goals (beyond extremely vague ones, like wanting work that doesn’t feel like work). Consequently, my working hours are divided into four primary occupations: writer, which includes this column and various freelance work and independent projects; co-founder (along with my husband, Rob) and CFO of Jones Computer and Networking, Inc.; copywriter for Lēde Public Relations; and, most recently, editor of Shalom Greensboro, the newspaper produced by the Greensboro Jewish Federation.

The upsides to embracing a career stream mentality are plentiful, including never being terribly dependent on a single means of earning money, exploring a variety of interests at one time, having greater control over who becomes a part of the circle of colleagues, employers and co-workers, and, hopefully, unearthing previously-hidden talents, interests and passions.

Of course, there are downsides as well. Juggling can be stressful and overwhelming when deadlines coincide or different loyalties seem to conflict, such as when I’m promoting clients for Lēde while also courting advertisers for Shalom Greensboro. Also, there is no passing of the buck; whether I am working as an employee at Lēde or as a primary at Jones CAN, it is ultimately up to me to not just complete my work, but to do so while meeting my own standards of quality.

Finally, there is the dreaded appearance of being a jack-of-all-trades but master-of-none. Besides my own desire to be an expert in at least one area (but having to keep my thumb on many), there is my need for those I work with to understand how very seriously I take each of my career streams. After all, in my stream, there is ample room for both serious dedication and the sheer pleasure of embracing opportunity.

Perhaps my forked stream will someday reunite into one, solid river, turning “What do you do?” into an easily answerable question rather than an existential conversation piece. I could wait and find out, or I could wade boldly to the center of my career stream and see where my skills and interests take me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Make you feel better about Chinese products?

China executed the former food safety chief after he was convicted of accepting cash and gifts in return for approving substandard drugs. The drugs have thus far been linked to at least 10 deaths.

"The few corrupt officials… are the shame of the whole system and their scandals have revealed some very serious problems," said their spokeswoman.

Executed. The guy's dead. Which doesn't mean the can of cat food or tube of toothpaste aren't tainted or that there aren't other corrupt officials in those ranks... though I suppose execution is a pretty strong disincentive for corruption...

As uncomfortable as this news makes me (simply because I am against the death penalty), I can't help but compare it to our current situation. Bush et al's corruption has been linked to well over a half-million Iraqi deaths and several thousand American deaths. Think he'll so much as see the inside of a court room?

Monday, July 09, 2007

A warning from the stars

I don't really put a lot of weight into astrology (though it often strikes me as bizarre how closely I resemble my astrological sign, Gemini) but I still like to check my horoscope. Most often, they're the usual random, meaningless jumble of words but once in a blue moon, they really make me think... and therein lies the value.

So, as I embark on a new leg of my journey as the editor of the Jewish community paper, Shalom Greensboro, it seems particularly relevant that my horoscope in yesterday's News & Record read:

Your wacky planets are up to mischief again, giggling as you walk along your path. Expect to make profound mistakes - the kind worth keeping. The kind that could be called "art."

Yup, that's what I was hoping for: artistic and dreadful mistakes. Look out Jewish community...

Rob's horoscope was similarly timely yesterday with his newly launched photographic endeavors:

Prove your belief in yourself by following through with vigorous, enthusiastic action. Even monumental ideas can only get off the ground if you get behind them and start lifting.

Seems that Tarot has nothing on Holiday Mathis (what a sultry headshot she has)...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Jewish/Muslim relations in Greensboro

I was just reading the weekly bulletin from Beth David Synagogue - within the list of those who could use get-well prayers and wishes, my friend Masoud was listed (he is my friend, but I did not submit his name). Masoud and his wife, Annah, are Palestinian Muslims and, even more importantly, wonderful, kind, loving people. Much like the time I walked into their restaurant to find them chatting with Rabbi Koren from Temple Emanuel, this simple acknowledgment of the health of our friend struck me as contrasting so greatly with the state of affairs between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East.

I wish we could bottle these amazing inter-faith feelings here and sprinkle them like fairy dust over the Middle East.

Rehab for GoodReads?

I'm not on any of the social networking sites. I take that back - I have a MySpace account which I have done absolutely nothing with, so that I can search their database freely. I'm not opposed to them - just don't really see how they fit into my life right now.

But last week, my friend Chelsea sent me a link to GoodReads, a site in which you create reading lists and rate the books you've already read. Each day, GoodReads emails a report covering all of the changes made to the reading lists of the people registered as your friends. Also cool is that the site is linked to Amazon, so the cover art of the books appear in your list.

And now I'm hooked. I have been keeping reading lists sporadically since 2001 (at least, that's the earliest I can find) to combat my habit of forgetting most of a book the second the back cover closes. I've spent hours (and hours) in the last week moving those lists to GoodReads, reviewing my friends' lists, considering organization for my shelves. I should really instruct Rob to go ahead and lock me in a room until the DTs pass if I stop wanting to eat in favor of surfing the site (that really would be a sadly shocking sign).

You can see my profile and books here. And you can become my friend (in a book way - though perhaps not in a catching a beer on a Friday night way... unless I agree with your book reviews...) here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Celebrating independence

I woke up this morning with the realization that yesterday was the tenth anniversary of my grandfather's death. It doesn't seem that long. To this day, I'm not positive what he died of, though it seemed to be a variety of things that ended with his body just shutting down. His brother, a man who I hadn't seen in many years, was at the hospital that morning, looking more like my grandfather than the pale, sunken man in the bed. I always thought that being with someone as they died would be peaceful and reassuring but it wasn't - I was left wondering how he could go from living to gone with virtually no change in appearance... not that I really expected one, but the mystery of bodies, souls and life itself were overwhelmingly apparent in that moment.

With my eyes still glazed in tears, Rob and I went to the farmers' market in the hopes of a watermelon and maybe some squash to transform into fritters for tonight's potluck. It was quiet with very few vendors but the atmosphere was joyful and everyone was particularly chatty. One farmer we regularly purchase from tipped us off that he would have the first of his corn crop for sale on Saturday. The Simple Kneads woman appreciated my "Eat Local" tee-shirt.

We sat outside to eat a breakfast of Simple Kneads cinnamon roll (it's all about worthwhile splurges - i.e. Cinnabon will not cross my lips) and a passing woman commented on our happiness. It's a funny thing that Rob and I are often noticed and/or remembered because we are outwardly happy. In a way it's flattering, but mostly it's a sad commentary that we would be noticeable for what should be a common emotion.

Then it was off to the parade to see our friend's creation:
It was the pièce de résistance of the anti-war/impeach Bush and Cheney contingent, along with Cakalak Thunder, of course. I will say that this Mr. Bush received many more cheers and supporting applause than boos - and certainly more than the real Dubya would get these days.

More of Rob's pictures from the parade:

Well, onto more 4th festivities. Don't forget to check out Big Bang Boom at the Children's stage at Fun 4th at 12:15. Go on - if you don't leave now, you'll never make it in time!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Impeach Bush/Cheney Contingent at the parade

Okay, I can't post about World Can't Wait without giving my disclaimer that though I completely agree with their read on the problems with our country and support their desire to fix them, I do not agree with all of their methodology or every detail of their beliefs. That said:

What: IMPEACH Bush/Cheney contingent in the Greensboro "Fun Fourth" parade
When: Wed., July 4th, 8:30 AM
Where: Line up at the intersection of Greene and Smith Streets, Greensboro
March starts at 9:30 AM!

Hey folks...

It's that time of year again...spread the word and build the movement at the Fun Fourth Parade!

Two years ago, the Greensboro chapter of "The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime" made its first-ever appearance in the Fun Fourth parade with a total of four people. We've since grown into a movement that has mobilized thousands of people here and across the state at protests, vigils, concerts, forums, and other righteous activities calling this regime out for its crimes.

Come join us on Wednesday, July 4th as we march in a parade before thousands of Greensboro people with our message of impeachment! Help us get out thousands of flyers along the parade route advertising our TOWN HALL MEETING on Impeachment (to be held Sunday, July 15th at Two Art Chicks Gallery, 609 S. Elm St). Then stick around afterwards at Center City Park at the WCW table to help us sell t-shirts, bumper stickers, and recruit people to help us spread the word about the July 15th town hall meeting!

The movement for impeachment is growing...and though Bush's approval rating keeps dropping, that has not stopped him or his regime from deepening its anti-civil liberties, pro-war, anti-people agenda, with MUCH complicity from the Democratic Party. Only a movement of the people can turn things around...come be a part of it, and have some fun in the sun with us! We promise there will be sweet beats and righteous noise courtesy of Cakalak Thunder, excellent company, and some great street theater!

Contact us ASAP at (336) 574-9088 if you've got some artistic ideas for the contingent, or just join us at 8:30 AM on Wednesday, July 4th at the corner of Smith and Greene on the north side of downtown.

See you there!


Special appearance by the Bush Chain Gang...we still need a couple of people to don these costumes and ham it up for the crowd! Is it you? PM us and sign up...

Cutting up a whole chicken

I have to confess that I sometimes use my blog as an electronic filing cabinet, storing links and videos I might want to reference later...

I've always done a disservice to the souls of chickens I've bought whole (and dead and plucked - don't be gross) and attempted to cut into pieces - a terrible guilt to bear. It was quite the relief when a new friend told me about this brilliant YouTube video in which a community college instructor makes the process idiot-proof... unfortunately, these are among the rarely-seen un-embed-able videos in the YouTube library.

Buying whole chickens is certainly more affordable... and dark meat is not the evil we've come to believe it is - when the animals are raised according to their nature. Pasture-raised animals have been shown to have higher levels of those great omega-3s and lower levels of the scary saturated fat that comes of feeding animals foods their bodies aren't meant to process.

So, buy a whole chicken, then watch these videos to cut it into 8 lovely pieces:

Devoted to the headlines?

My attentiveness to current events is a cyclical thing: I get really into it, compulsive about checking the latest, disappointed if I run out of time to read every story. And then something, or a series of somethings, happens that so disgusts me that I do a cost/benefit analysis: what am I really getting out of knowing all of this? A stomach ache? The dueling desires to protest in the streets and move to a remote village in Spain?

Of course, in the back of my head is Thomas Jefferson and his reminder, passed down through the centuries, that it is our responsibility as citizens of a democracy to stay well-informed so that we can spend our votes wisely and call our "leaders" to the carpet when they've overstepped their bounds... this week... and the amazingly blatant dismissal of Libby's sentence.

Oh, the irony of stomping on the legal system that came of our country's hard-won independence, just days before we are set to celebrate that independence. That freedom?

Further, I have been defending our Democratic siblings in Congress since the beginning of the 110th because I've been listening to C-Span and I've heard them giving great talk about ending the war and wresting back control of our government. But then, from the Huffington Post piece on Libby:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's decision showed the president "condones criminal conduct."

So this is the decision that shows he condones criminal conduct? It wasn't the illegal wire tapping, the suspension of habeas corpus or the completely unfounded war? It was getting one of his lapdogs out of the clink?

As we're eating our hot dogs and shooting off bottle rockets, I hope we are also taking some time tomorrow to consider the country we are celebrating and how to improve so that it comes to deserve the celebration.