Sunday, January 31, 2010

Random Quote #110

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -- Anais Nin, 1903 - 1977

Today's Sermon #22


Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played
At wrestling in a ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

~ Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886

This evening I'm listening yet again to the Hope For Haiti Now concert and realizing just how transcendent and important it is to keep this moment alive in my heart. It is the only way it will change me.

Marriage is a Civil Right

The church can bless whomever they want. Who really cares anymore? The meat of Marriage is in the civil rights and responsibilities it conveys. The Iowa State Supreme Court gets this. The Legislatures of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont get it. The City Council of Washington, D. C. gets it. Even the Coquille American Indian Tribe in Oregon gets it.

When will the majority of men and women of goodwill finally come to get it? What will it take? A tragedy and travesty like this one in Missouri?

What does it matter to anyone anywhere who anyone anywhere marries? Who among us knows with certainty the status of all of our neighbors, cares one way or the other, or is in any way harmed by this?

To me, the whole thing is just a way for some small minded people to wheeled power over others. And the pretense that somehow such acts of love and commitment would offend or anger God only demonstrate how backward and ignorant some people still are when it comes to God. Rather than a rallying point, such views should be seen as pitiable at best and blasphemous at worse. For a fallen, corruptible, finite being to spit in the face of a God who is marketed as having unconditional love and demonstrating grace (which is by definition forgiving beyond natural human limits) is simply such a contradiction in terms as to be patently atheistic on its face.

Either God is or isn't. You can't tell the world that God is a God of unconditional love and then support a theology of rules and systems that have limits and end.

Yet, here we are. And here those religious among us remain to support and rejoice in injustices like this one in Missouri.

What I'm Listening to #77: Help Haiti Now!

You can buy this album from itunes or on Amazon. com and in doing so, you give to the relief of the suffering of the people of Haiti. The music is at times haunting, at times uplifting, throughout amazing. Come on people, let's just do this.


Are just so damn cute!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What I'm Watching #228

I can't remember when I started watching Law & Order. And if you watch TV at all, you're likely to run into some aspect of the show somewhere. But I love it. It's a great concept and the cast and stories have been consistently compelling for nearly 20 seasons.

I just got the recently released seventh season of the show. While the franchise releases it's other series, (Law & Order CI, Law & Order SVU, and Law & Order Trial By Jury) like popcorn as quickly as they can get them there, they've been very judicious with the original series. Before now, the series has only been available in seasons 1-6 and 14. Season 14 was released out of order as an homage to the actor Jerry Orbach after he died in 2004.

Watching it all the time on the TNT network, I bought this season fully expecting just to have it for my leisure. Imagine my delight to discover that of the first 5 episodes, 3 were brand new to me.

The seventh season was the first for actor Carey Lowell as ADA Jamie Ross. She joined the cast with Benjamin Bratt, S. Epatha Merkerson, Steven Hill, Sam Waterson, and Jerry. The first five episodes of the seventh season include amazing performances by guest actors like Pamela Gray, Karen Allen, Michael Willis, and Jeff Edwards, as well as, one of my all time favorite little cameo spots by Lynn Cohen as the Countess of Alto-Perugia. She made me laugh.

As a child I was trained upon the likes of Cannon, Kojak, Columbo, McCloud, McMillan & Wife, The Snoop Sisters, The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones, and before that it was Mannix, Ironsides, Hawaii 5-O, and Mission: Impossible. I gave up TV in the 80's and much of the 90's. It was a cop show that brought me back: Homocide: Life on the Street. And perhaps it was it's demise that led me to discover Law & Order. Everyone is entitled to their opium. Hooked as a kid, I still need my fix. What can I say? There are worse things a guy can do!

What I'm Drinking

I have a new love! Paldo is a Korean company and this drink made with aloe vera and pome- granate. Low carb. Full of little chunks of aloe. It's delicious!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the dramedy "Hesher" from the director Spencer Susser, who, after directing a variety of commercials and music videos, makes his feature directorial debut at Sundance. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come so far from "Third Rock From The Sun" on TV, that it really amazes me. I love this actor.


The 2010 Sundance Film Festival runs from Jan. 21-31 and opens with the Allen Ginsberg biopic "Howl," with Aaron Tveit and James Franco. Looks like a another must see film in the new year.

Advice Is Free

A great moment of clarity from John Mayer in Rolling Stone magazine. Tiger, are you listening?

"I have masturbated myself out of serious problems in my life. The phone doesn’t pick up because I’m masturbating. And I have excused myself at the oddest times so as to not make mistakes. If Tiger Woods only knew when to jerk off. It has a true market value, like gold bullion. ....I do it because I want to take a brain bath. It’s like a hot whirlpool for my brain, in a brain space that is 100 percent agreeable with itself.”

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Same Sex Families

This is another wonderful article from the New York Times. I guess I'm gonna have to bite the bullet and pay for the online version when it comes to's certainly been a good run free, my turn to step up to the plate.

Check it out at:

What I'm Listening to #76

If you like the dance mix genre, than Dance Extravaganza by Tom of Prague is a must book blog. Tom posts mixes which you can either listen to online or purchase. This one is typical of his style and frankly very hot. I don't think anything in my home would ever get dusted without music like this! Now you know my secret.

This mix was posted on January 20th, the mixes are posted and listed by date as well as name. This one is entitled "Get Some Culo."

Check it out at:

Haiti in Context

On January 12th the world was held captive to the tragedy of the 7.0 earth- quake in Haiti. It was a major shift of a minor fault line in an impoverished nation. Tens--if not hundreds--of thousands of people died and suffered life altering injuries. But this is not the entire story.

The world is a shacking.

The Washington Post described an incident were upon at the beginning of the temblor students from a Virginia Community College in Haiti on a study mission witnessed women tearing off their clothes and crying out to God in the belief that the quake was the apocalypse. Can you even imagine such abject ignorance? Yet, the world is a shaking.

In the last 30 days there have been several earth quakes that have occurred in the range of 6.0 to 6.9. And another even more powerful 7.1 quake.
December 23 - 6.0 - Indonesia
December 24 - 6.3 - Russia
December 26 - 6.1 - Banda Sea (off the coast of Indonesia)
December 31 - 6.0 - Pacific Arctic Ocean (most quakes occur below the oceans)
January 1 - 6.1 - Mariana Islands
January 3 - 6.6 - Solomon Islands
January 3 - 7.1 - Solomon Islands
January 5 - 6.8 - South Sandwich Islands
January 5 - 6.8 - Solomon Islands
January 5 - 6.0 - Solomon Islands
January 9 - 6.2 - Solomon Islands
January 10 - 6.5 - Pacific of off Northern California
January 14 - 6.0 - Mariana Islands
January 17 - 6.3 - Drake Passage

The World is a shaking.

Haiti shook on January 12th to the toon of 7.0. And then kept shaking....

January 12 - 7.0
January 12 - 5.9 (7 minutes later)
January 12 - 5.5 (12 minutes later)
January 12 - 4.6 (55 minutes later)
January 12 - 5.1 (5 minutes later)
January 12 - 4.8 (15 minutes later)
January 12 - 4.5 (8 minutes later)
January 12 - 4.5 (12 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.8 (36 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.0 (20 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.2 (16 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.6 (6 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.1 (11 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.6 (8 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.3 (8 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.4 (4 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.9 (19 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.4 (2 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.0 (14 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.6 (6 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.7 (9 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.7 (17 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.5 (11 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.6 (23 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.7 (14 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.8 (1 hour & 31 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.2 (16 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.9 (6 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.7 (25 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.6 (35 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.5 (24 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.5 (10 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.0 (1 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.5 (5 hours & 5 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.7 (13 minutes later)
January 13 - 5.3 (2 hours & 2 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.6 (4 hours & 11 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.8 (2 hours & 32 minutes later)
January 13 - 4.9 (55 minutes later)

And that's what life is like in Haiti. The World is a shaking.

I've only been in one earthquake in my life. A 4.5 quake in Costa Rica back in 1984. But it tossed me off of my bed and sent all of the residents of my apartment building screaming and scrambling into the street.

And then on January 20th a 5.9 quake -- a quake on its own, not an aftershock.... The World is a Shaking.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kate McGarrigle RIP

Kate McGarrigle, half of a popular sibling folk duo in the 1970s and mother of musicians Rufus and Martha Wainwright, died of cancer Monday. She was 63.

It's a quirky remembrance in the present age of steel and techno. And certainly her son learned well the lessons of his childhood without remaining locked to them. Perhaps that's her greatest legacy: Rufus. He holds the burden, even as he shares the gift.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Congratulations Massachusetts!

You have a new Senator -- and God knows he's a better naked centerfold than Barbara Mikulski any day of the week (hell, millennium!) I hope that everyone who voted for this bimbo gets exactly what you deserve.

Art I'm Seeing #42

Even though it was supposed to be off exhibit on January 10th, this beautiful Triptych was still available to be viewed by the public in the grand rotunda. It's on loan from the National Museum of Abruzzo, Italy. Known as the Beffi Tritych, it's exhibition came after the 5.3 earthquake in L'Aquila back in April. The work suffered a few minor scratches which were conserved at the NGA, and in appreciation the Abruzzo museum allowed us to appreciate it for the first time in history. It's a gorgeous work of devotion and art.

What I'm Reading #25

Picked this up yesterday, it's Tracy Chevalier's latest novel (think, "The Girl With The Pearl Earring"). It's the story of the friendship between Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Mary was the source of the children's rhyme "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" in the early 1800's one of the most prolific discoverers of fossils in the world. She is (along with her brother Joe) responsible for finding the first Ichthyosaurus, and Plesiosaurus off of the beach of their native Lyme Regis in the south of England. Little is know of her in actuality. It is know that she was friends with Elizabeth. Tracy takes that fact, the pursuit of fossil's and the era and weaves a compelling and marvelous story. I've only read the first three chapters, but can't hardly put it down.

Great Interview

There was a really wonderful interview on Fresh Air today with Patti Smith. I highly recommend that you check it out at the Fresh Air website. Toward the end they had this, my favorite exchange.

GROSS: My guest is Patti Smith. Her new memoir "Just Kids" is about how she became a poet, songwriter and performer. It's also about her relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe, who became her soul mate when she moved to New York in 1967. He died of AIDS in 1989.

You say that one of the people who you were with when he died was Allen Ginsberg. And in your memoir, you mentioned some advice that Ginsberg had given you. After your husband died, he said let go of the spirit of the departed and continue your life's celebration. Having experience as much death as you have, is that a good advice, do you think?

Ms. SMITH: Yes. I mean, I think that, you know, there - the idea that time heals all wounds is not really true. Our wounds aren't really ever healed. We just learn to walk with them. We learn that some days we're going to feel intense pain all over again and we just have to say, okay, I know you. If - you can come along with me today, in the same way that sometimes we start laughing out in the middle of nowhere remembering something that happened with someone we've lost.

And, you know, life is the best thing that we have. We each have a life. We each have to negotiate it and navigate it. And I think it's very important that we enjoy our life, that we get everything we can out of it. And it doesn't take away from our love of the departed. I mean, I take Fred along with me in the things that I do, or Robert or my father or my mother, you know, whoever wants to come along, they can be with me. And, you know, and if I want them, I can sense them.

You know, we have our own life, but we can still walk with the people that we miss or that we lose. And I think it's very important to not be afraid to experience joy in the middle of sorrow. When my brother died, my sister and I sat with his body, our beloved brother, and we wept. And then I don't know what happened, one of us triggered laughter in the other. My brother and sister and I used to laugh so much that we would get sick. And my sister and I started laughing, sitting with my brother, as if he had infected us.

And we laughed so hard that we were scolded by the funeral director. And which - you know, my brother, who was so mischievous, I'm sure caused all of this. But it's all right. You know, we knew the depth of our sorrow. So it was all right for us to also, you know, experience some joy in his presence because, you know, that's what our life is - you know, it's the fearful symmetry of Blake, you know, joy and sorrow. You don't want to just feel one of them. They're both valuable to the spirit.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Art I'm Seeing #41

At one point in the morning I trotted over to the Hirschhorn Museum. Haven't been there in a long time. And it's frankly a lousy time to visit there. Much of their gallery space is closed for renovation or transition of exhibitions. The only way to access the lobby from the first floor was to take the elevator. With their escalators such a prominent architectural feature, who even knew that they had an elevator? And for the record, it would take more saliva to cover the average postage stamp from 1990 than the floor surface of the Hirschhorn's public elevator.

And yet, there was one little shining star. The exhibition of artist John Gerrard entitled "Directions" was a powerful burst of light. The Irish born artist does this really amazing thing with photographs and video described here from the Hirschhorn website: "...[his videos] present actual scenes from desolate corners of the American landscape and unfold in real time so that patient viewers can experience the progression of the day from morning to night in each setting; however, what looks like a live shot is, in fact, a manipulated, fabricated image. Gerrard photographed every site from 360 degrees and then animated the stills into seamless cinematic panning shots." The final effect is simply mesmerizing, beautiful, and transcendent--and these are my words.

Cafe La Ruche

My 1st semi-annual check-up done on MLK Jr. day, I left my doctor's office and drove on up into Georgetown. On a quiet holiday morning with a warm sun like today, it was the perfect place to go strolling and treat myself to a wonderful brunch at one of the most wonderful little restaurants in the world. Cafe La Ruche is a quaint and cozy French restaurant with all of the charm of a Parisienne sidewalk cafe. I first dined there in 1994, and I confess I do not dine there nearly as often as I should. Today I had the most divine Eggs Benedict with Spinach (instead of ham). The golden cream of the poached eggs melted into the hollandaise sauce with every yummy bite. It came with a side of roasted potatoes, and I used the little spuds to capture as much of the yokes and hollandaise as I could slather upon them.
Visiting D.C.? You won't be disappointed by a meal at La Ruche! Also check out their website. It includes sample menu items, monthly recipes, and music selections from bands who occasionally perform there.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Reminder: Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Of just how far we've come in a year. Don't let the nay sayers divide and conquer us. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream is becoming a reality.

Snow Flakes 101

The next time someone tells you that snowflakes have six sides, you can reply, "Not all of them." This one is called a "Hollow Column."

This one forms a Hollow Column and then like wheels, spins off two hexagon plates on either end. It's rather like those large wooden spools that power lines and other cables are spun around before being attached to the poles.
Of course, many snow flakes do come with six sides, but even here they also form with distinct qualities that give them several separate names. This one is a "Fernlike Stellar Dendrite."

This one is a regular "Stellar Dendrite."

This on is a "Stellar Plate."

Here's a really interesting one. It forms open cups some of which continue to form lips. They're called "Bullet Rosettes."

And where there are six, there are also twelve sided snowflakes.

And there are triangular crystals, too. Infact, there are well over 30 different categories of snowflakes. Who knew?

You can check out dozens and dozens of these beautiful images and learn more about snowflakes at:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti Moment #1

As the images continue to flood in to our news sources, we are all left wanting to do something for the people of Haiti. It's a tragedy of nearly unimaginable proportions. Hurricane Katrina is our closest benchmark, and yet the death tole in Haiti threatens to easily surpass Katrina by 10, 20, 50, EVEN 100 times.

Today, when I visited my local Giant Supermarket, there was a table set up outside of the door where two women in Caribbean dress and speaking with crisp accents were asking shoppers for food donations for Haiti. I avoided them, because I thought, how are they planning to get this food to Haiti? There is no mechanism for individuals to send this sort of aid to Haiti. I was being truly cynical in my heart. There is such a need. And I feared there are people willing and eager to exploit that need. But why did I think that these women were any part of such a wicked plot? Why weren't they just two people who had to do something to express their desire to help?

I remember when I lived in Costa Rica back in 1984. After school, I would typically go into the heart of San José to retrieve the mail for the other teachers from the United States working at my school. Afterwards, I would often drop into the only McDonald's in the country at the time and grab an hamburgesa con queso, papas fritas, y una coca lite. Eating my lunch while sitting in the store front, I'd watch this pair of filthy little children beg for money and offer to sell us rich people pictures that they had torn from discarded magazines. It broke my heart. Then one day I saw those kids turn to the beaconing of a man in a suit. They responded by running over to a shiny black limosine and jumping into the back seat. It was not a solicitation, but clearly and obviously a call to end their "work" day--an "Oliver Twist" moment, if you will.

Ever since, I've been unwilling to simply accept things like this at their face value. It's hasn't stopped me from being generous. If anything, I'm more generous year in and year out (It grows with my financial capacity and my belief in the need to give to others (I'm not a Republican)--but that's not my point. The point is just exactly how I'm generous, and how I look with such suspicion on supporting random individuals, no matter how worthy the cause.

"You Can't Always Get What You Want, But....You Get What You Need"

Like some blast from the past I happened upon these photo- graphs tonight. The man in the white shirt and I had a lovely fling back in the Spring of 2005 when he was living in D.C. and studying English.

The spoken language may have been a challenge, but the ability to communi- cate was not an issue. He's a little bunny, and I know that, which is why I was so content to simply connect, even if for only a little while. Every encounter is a gift, and his gifts to me were so generous.

Here he's leading a symposium on body painting--his art form--in Singapore. Seeing him again reminds me just how good life is.

In fact, the photo of me on this blog was taken by him during that affair.

What I'm Listening to #75

You know I have a thing for the divas. Ernestine Anderson, born in Houston in 1928 is my current obsession. This generous collection of standards and ballads recorded in Sweden in 1956 is an excellent introduction. Every song is a sing-along. She still performs at age 82, but hear you'll experience her supple younger voice. Like all things worth knowing, begin at the beginning.

What I'm Watching #227

Just finally watched "Milk". Sean Penn is an amazing actor. He deserved the Oscar, no doubt about it. And what a wonderful supporting cast: Like a reunion of "Law & Order" guest actor's alumni (Alison Pill, Victor Garber, Denis O'Hare, Joseph Cross, Stephen Spinella)! And it was great to see Diego Luna again and imagine that his star is still rising from "Y Tu Mama Tambien". As to James Franco...oh to be Sean Penn's lips! Yadda, yadda!

Finally, kudus to the writers for taking us through such an amazing and historic time with the very icon of gay rights in America without twisting our emotions into a shredded knot. Well, played.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


One hardly knows where to begin, and that's largely why I haven't even tried until now.

Today someone finally had the courage to estimate the death tole at 50,000. Frankly, I find that so optimistic as to be pitiful. 2 to 3 million people had their homes, stores, schools, churches, hospitals, hotels, office buildings--WORLD--come crashing down upon them. If only 250,000 were killed, that would be a miracle. And like all natural disasters, the dying has only just begun. Examples in our own nation's history as desperately different as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and hurricane Katrina have taught us this.

They are two moments in history that are actually very applicable to Haiti. The scope of the devastation is Katrina-esque; while the quality of the infrastructure in that nation aligns with San Francisco's from a century ago.

As an American, I am very proud of our president and his administration for stepping up with words of support and promises of aid within hours of the initial tragedy. As a citizen, I intend to both thank him and hold his feet to the fire to make certain that in my name and with my tax dollars, the United States follows through on those commitments.

Furthermore, I will encourage President Obama to extend to the illegal immigrants of Haiti currently residing in the United States the right of "Temporary Protected Status". I have no doubt that if this would have happened, say, in Ireland, that the illegal Irish amongst us would have been granted this status even as I type. No nationality of illegal immigrants from any other country in this hemisphere has faced more consistent, vehement, or racist persecution by our government than the people of Haiti. That even in a moment of such humanitarian need, this discrimination should be allowed to continue is simply without any justification, and only demonstrates how enormous the hatred of black people still is in this nation. In the past half century alone we've welcomed and justified the influx of significant populations of persecuted and disenfranchised people from Cuba, Colombia, and even El Salvador, which demonstrates that the motives are not based on socio-economic demographics, but the color of a person's skin.

If Minneapolis/St. Paul can become a new home to the impoverished persecuted Hmong people of Cambodia/Kampuchea. If Atlanta can welcome record amounts of refugees from Somalia and the conflicts throughout Africa's Maghreb region. If New Orleans and other Louisiana coastal communities can integrate vast numbers of the Vietnamese boat people to such an extent as to actually elect one as a congress person to the United States House of Representatives. Then we as a nation, can not only help to rebuild what remains of Haiti's urban metropolis, but we can welcome those who are already living here now as vital and contributing members of our United States of America, and remove from them any fear of deportation during this tragic catastrophe in their nation of origin.

And in a final thought, I need to respond to the ignorant, truly evil, racist bigots amongst us like Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh, may I simply offer this blessing? "May what you wish unto others happen to you"--my version of the "Fools Golden Rule". People like these only trivialize the life that we all should see as miraculous.

The French Revolution

The older I get, the more I appreciate history....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Miep Geis RIP

From time to time we've all learned of someone's death and thought, "I didn't know they were still alive." And that happened again for me this morning when I learned of the passing into ancestry of the Dutch woman, Miep Geis. And it would not surprise me in the least if you didn't have any idea who she is.

I think, in fact, that she would like it that way. Born in 1909 in Vienna, she immigrated to Amsterdam and established for herself a life there. By the time of World War II, she found herself in the employment of Otto Frank as his secretary. When the Nazi's invaded Holland and began persecuting Jews, she gave safe shelter to the Franks for nearly two years. And after they were discovered and sent to concentration camps, she discovered the tattered remains of the diary that Otto Frank's youngest daughter had kept during her concealment.

As Miep tells it, she was too gracious to even read it, but tenderly saved it. And after the war and liberation when only Otto Frank survived the Nazi tyranny, she gave Ann's diary to her father. In 1947, he first published "The Diary of Ann Frank" which has become one of the most translated and published books in the history of the human race.

When asked about her status as a hero, she was always quick to deny it. She said, "I don't want to be considered a hero. Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary."

She is a hero to me, because she inspires me to be just as committed to do the right thing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Today's Sermon #21

Imagine there's no Heaven.
It's easy if you try.
No Hell below us,
Above us, only sky.

Imagine all the people
living for today.

Imagine there's no country;
It isn't hard to do--
Nothing to kill or die for;
No religion, too.

Imagine all the people
living life in peace.

You may say that I'm dreamer,
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join me
And the world will live as one.

The New Kid In Town

The local Safeway called it quits back in October. The store was an anchor of a shopping complex on the corner of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue. Granted within a mile radius there are lots of grocery stores: Red Apple Farm, Aldi, Atlantic, Maxim, Shoppers Food Warehouse. Don't be alarmed if you don't recognize most of these chains. Aldi is German. Maxim is Filipino. Red Apple Farm is, well, just really odd. Atlantic is Canadian. And now enter ExpoEmart (an Indian based food chain) in the former Safeway store.

I visited it today and purchased some really fresh green beans, some of the best oyster mushrooms I've seen in a long time and a few more atypical items: Kimchi, Coconut soda, and baby boc choi. The things that impressed me? The Meat: Cheep and very fresh; more seafood than I've seen anywhere outside of the Korean Market on Viers Mill and Randolph Road. The Produce: sketchy, but abundant and varied reminding me of open markets I've been to in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Managua, Nicaragua or Tai'chung, Republic of China. The carrots were other worldly...if only I knew that they were also organic.

At any rate. I'm totally planning on returning. The musak was Latino. The chance to live in another country in my own backyard? Priceless.

Sunday Funnies #27

Okay, so I went to this absolutely wonderful little Evangelical Christian college for my undergraduate degrees--yeah, I got TWO of them...and TWO minors! Anyways, I was surfing recently when I happened upon this photo of some underclassmen posing at some homecoming event. And well, I'm just ownry enough to turn it into something else (something Funny, I hope). My inspiration? The New Yorker cartoon contest, of course! Bon Appetit~

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sam Tsui

Friends, Here's a hyper achiever named Sam Tsui. He's capitalizing on "Glee," but darn it. He's very talented.

Judge for yourselves and ENJOY! (Full-Disclosure: I was born just south of Detroit)
"Don't Stop Believing"

Lady Gaga Medley

Check out his YouTube series titled: "College Musical" and posted to YouTube.

YEEE HAW!----Ride 'em Cowboys!

And now for something completely different! There's a new web-based reality dance show in town. D.C. Cowboys and partner it's a horse worth saddling, and a trail worth scouting.
Episode #1

Episode #2

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Racism 101

I work for the Montgomery County Maryland Public Schools. And I have to say, it's one of the most rigorous, diverse, and cutting edge school systems in the United States. Witness the very fact of my job. I am the Staff Development Teacher in my building. A position that all schools have. A non-classroom based position given to a master educator in which we become the mentor/catalyst/bringer of innovation and initiative disseminator in the building.

On Thursday I attended a half-day training part of which was dedicated to creating racial awareness. Something we are charged to do at our buildings sites in order to foster a deeper awareness of the pervasive ways race effects student achievement and instructional practices. The multi-year goal of MCPS is to eliminate the racial gap between student achievement. And, perhaps, to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind the data scrutiny of student performance includes differences in gender, socio-economic status, English language proficiency, and Differently-abled/Mentally-challenged students. But most of our work vis a vis our trainings concern race. At one point, the 120 participants were encouraged to share from our personal stories; our counter story, i.e. a story which could be seen from other perspectives, but which we saw with a meaning that came from our cultural perspective uniquely. Most of the participants were white, a few were black, a few hispanic, a couple bi-racial, there were 4 men in the house.

After a couple people shared, I offered the story of a trip that I took with one of my students back in 1980 when I was teaching at an English Academy in Taiwan (I was 19 at the time....for the record!) We drove to a very rural area where the children in the village ended up surrounding us as we sat perched upon his Vespa. They were pointing and calling out something. When I asked Ho what they were saying, he replied, "They are children. They are calling you "Big Nose". They don't mean anything by it...all Americans have big noses."

Racism isn't an American invention. It isn't even a European (read white) invention. It is one of the ways that the world's people have come to see themselves against the backdrop of others. It can be as silly and innocent as those beautiful children's raucous chant or it can be endemic and poisonous to the very core of our humanity, a bringer of enslavement, a justifier of genocide. In all of it's dimensions it must be recognized. We must see it as clearly within ourselves as we see it in others. There are no clean hands, and whether innocent or incidious we must choose to be better than those who went before us.

I am so glad that I am working for a school system that recognizes the need to shift the paradigm that pervades our social network.

What I'm Watching #226

Just started to watch "Glee." Bought the first season and have watched the first two episodes. OMG~This is some really good shit from FOX; I mean, besides "The Simpsons" it's shows don't rank on my must see list. Quirky, compelling; over-the-top performances and all full of angst and innocent fun. It's genius.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Ken Noland RIP

Kenneth Noland 1924-2010

In a nutshell from an article in the New York Times: Kenneth Noland was "Born in Asheville, N.C., in 1924, he studied art at the adventurous, short-lived Black Mountain College (conveniently located just outside his hometown) from 1946 to 1948, was inspired by the stain-painting technique that Helen Frankenthaler deducted from Jackson Pollock’s drips, and had his first exhibition in New York in 1957, at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.

Mr. Noland’s signature motif was a radiant target made of rings of pure color strained directly on raw canvas, with that canvas contributing a wonderful sense of breathing room between each band of color. The power of the colors, their often discordant interaction and the expanding and contracting rhythms of the bands of paint and the raw canvas, could be stunningly direct and vibrant. Mr. Noland’s work was championed by Clement Greenberg and other formalist art critics, but in the beginning it was also greatly admired by more wide-ranging critics, including Donald Judd."
Mandarin, 1961
acrylic on canvas
209.9 x 209.6 cm (82 5/8 x 82 1/2 in.)

And as I recently saw this, the most amazing of his works at the Meyerhoff Collection exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, I am particularly sad about his passing. Perhaps there will be a period of reflection and renaissance of his ouvre as a tribute.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Say, "Cheese"

A completely Lego polaroid camera. Sent to me by my friend T. Leave it to a librarian to discover such a cool thing!

Monday Funnies

A couple of funnies to get the week started.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Precious Things

I spent the bulk of today on a trip to visit, Marie. It began when I met my ex- after he attended church, and then we drove to Columbia, Maryland to meet our friend, L., after she attended her church, for lunch. From there the three of us drove up to Towson for our visit with Marie. Marie is my ex-'s grandmother, and though he ended our relationship in 2003, the end of that unofficial marriage did not end my friendship with Marie. Marie is a gem. Come spring, she'll enter her 91st year of life. (I know, she barely looks 70!) And every visit with her is a gift.

She once described me as her 4th grandson--and she already has 4!--I dare not imagine which one of them I replaced in her mind at that moment. Born in the same year as my father, and a year younger than my mother; I think of her more as a second mother than a grandmother. And such connections are so superfluous to the essence of our friendship.

Today's Sermon #20


Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?

May Swenson, 1913 - 1989

Saturday, January 02, 2010

I Did It!

Kind of like Giancando in the movie "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" when he summoned up the courage to insult the Holy Roman Emperor as he entered the town of Perugia is for me the summoning up of the courage to once again start from scratch with a new computer. Today I bit the bullet and bought an iMac 27-inch 3.06GHz with 6GB memory. It's kind of like going from the "Wizard of Oz" to "Avatar" to keep the movie references going.

The guys at the little Mac Store in the woods in Gaithersburg out by NIH were practically beside themselves with enthusiasm as I neared the moment of the actual purchase. It was almost creepy how they looked at me when they shook my hand--like a kid brother who'd only beat off until now, and now he was going into the tent of the hottest madame in the oasis. Having spent 30 minutes working with it...I get where they were coming from!