Sunday, November 30, 2008

Is Winona Thievin' Again?

Convicted of shoplifting in 2001, embattled actress Winona Ryder is in the headlines once again. This time, it involves the whereabouts of a diamond encrusted bracelet and ring loaned to her for a Marie Claire event.
Ryder says that she handed the items over to staff at her Madrid hotel for safe keeping. According to The Daily Mail, the hotel denies any involvement in the transaction, stating that they have no surveillance footage of the actress handing over the jewels to staff.
Bulgari, the company who owns the diamonds, allegedly called the police when they learned that the diamonds were missing.
Ryder appeared the picture of health at the Marie Claire event, a stark contrast to the state she was in upon arriving at London's Heathrow Airport a day earlier. She collapsed twice on the flight, due to an apparent tranquilizer overdose.
Oh, Winona.

Real Food Daily in L.A.

One of the restaurants we got to try on our short trip to L.A. was Real Food Daily, a vegan restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard.
All of the menu choices are vegan, including the beer and wine list, which was quite extensive. I had a California-brewed Santa Cruz Pale Ale, a hoppy high alcohol concoction.
For appetizers we started with the Better With Cheddar Nachos ($11.75), which consisted of crispy housemade chips piled high with beans, vegan cheese and sour cream, and the Nori Maki sushi rolls, made with sweet brown rice, avocado, tempeh and collard greens (10 pc. $10.95). Both were very delicious.
For my main entree I decided to try the Salisbury Seitan ($13.25), their version of the salisbury steak. It came with hearty mashed potatoes coated with cream gravy and a divine Caesar salad. I also sampled the BBQ Tofu Chop Salad ($13.95). With small cubes of flavorful barbeque tofu, various vegetables, cashew cheese and ranch dressing, this was a clear winner.
Salads seem to be Real Food Daily's strong point. Another person at our table had the Mexicali Chop ($12.95). It had pinto beans, avocado, vegetables, tortilla strips in a lime-cilantro dressing. It was very good.
The Club Sandwich ($15.25), with seitan, tempeh bacon and avocado on sourdough, was a hit with the big meat eater at our table. He said it tasted better than a traditional club.
The deserts were not as good as the rest of the meal, but they still held their own. We sampled the Chocolate Birthday Cake ($6.00) and found it to be a little dry and not very flavorful. The Pecan Pie ($6.00) was pretty good. The best dessert we tried was the Fudge Brownie Bowl with soy vanilla ice cream ($6.00).

OU Heads to the Big 12 Title Game.

It looks like the BCS computers have determined that Oklahoma will go to the Big 12 title game, regardless of the fact that they were beaten by Texas in October. I have to say this time that i'm happy with the confusing BCS computing this time. I know this will get me tarred and feathered in these parts.
I'm from Oklahoma. Don't want to live there. That's why I moved here. But, i've always been an OU fan, and I can't shake that loyalty. I will root for Texas against anybody else but Oklahoma.
If Oklahoma beats Missouri in the title game, it will guarantee them a berth in the national championship game. If they lose, Texas may still have a chance to play for the championship. And in that case, I will be behind them 100 percent. But for now?
Go Sooners!

The Getty Museum

Perched atop a hill overlooking the city of Los Angeles, the Getty Museum offers more than just beautiful panoramic views. It also features a diverse collection of art, incased within intricately designed buildings surrounded by sculpted gardens and landscaping.
I had the pleasure of visiting The Getty Museum while in Los Angeles this past Friday on an unusually cooler, windy day.
We rode the shuttle bus on the way up, skipping the line for the train, which offered a more spectacular view, but promised a longer wait. We decided to save the train ride for the trip down the hill. What I first noticed, besides the sweeping vistas, was the architecture of the museum. Built from travertine, a beige colored, textured, fossilized stone, the immense buildings absorb the morning sun, making the stone emit a warm glow.
As you move through the museum grounds you find that the landscaping is the crown jewel of the Getty Center. Gardens of many varieties surround the museum. With a huge swath of prickly pears, aloes, and countless other cacti species, the cactus garden, located at the south end of the museum is impressive. But most impressive is the huge Central Garden, a 134,000 square foot wonderland featuring over 500 varieties of plant material. The path leads you down through a winding stream, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, ending as the stream cascades into a reflecting pool with a floating maze of azaleas.
Some of the permanent exhibits that are housed at the Getty include ancient illuminated manuscripts, sculptures, photography and oil paintings. I must admit that most of my time was spent admiring the outdoor areas. Next time I visit, I will spend more time exploring the many galleries.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The canals of Venice.

Venice, California, that is.

Today we took a pleasant walk through the canals. Staring at all the nice houses that I wish were mine, I took in the uncommonly cool air, wishing we didn't have to leave so soon. Boo. Why do vacations go by so fast?

Exhausted from a long, fun day. I will post some highlights tomorrow.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I have lapsed into a food coma from a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Why do we gorge ourselves into oblivion on this holiday? All in good fun. The diet starts tomorrow.

I Should Never Grow So Old Again

My grandparents when they first were married.
My mom as a child.

It's Thanksgiving, but also my mother's birthday. She passed away last August and I wanted to post a piece of her writing as a tribute to her life. She was always a great writer and wrote amazing poems. One day I hope to be as good a writer as she was. She had her own blog and even designed her own web page. She was quite tech-savvy. This was one of her posts about her mother, my grandmother. I thought it was fitting.

Happy birthday Mom.

To Never Grow So Old Again by Rosa Willis

Today is the anniversary of my mother's death. Eleven years ago today, at 4 in the afternoon it was a brilliant October day much like today, filled with the light that never comes at any other time of year, that liquid amber, almost preternatural glow, that seems to shine through the windows from another world, a brighter, more perfect, more real place than this. A day when the turning leaves and even the trees themselves glow like jewels with that same light, when the sky is an impossible shade of lapis lazuli that one would think occurred only in some artist's vision, when the wind seems filled with a fragrance like a life-sustaining Breath, meant to remind us that the loveliness here is only a shadow of the beauty of our Home and Destination.. It was an eternally beautiful autumn day and my mother lay dying in a hospital bed of end stage COPD. My father, her soul mate, had preceded her in death just over a year before, and we knew that she was swiftly on her way out that Door to join him - and so did she.
My mother was probably one of the most wonderful, strange, frightening, beautiful and wise souls I will ever know. She loved to read, and taught me to love books - my earliest memories of her are of her reading and reciting poetry aloud to me - real poetry, Keats and Shelley and Wordsworth and Frost and Millay and Auden and cummings, not just nursery rhymes, though Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verse was one of the first books I ever owned. She was an "emancipated woman" - at least in her own mind, before there was a term for it, and even though society forced her into the mold of a "stay at home" fifties wife and mother, she never fit it well. My father was equally wise and unique, but he was less verbal, less outspoken and vehement than my mother, so he rarely spoke of the things that stirred his heart, the things he believed, the things that were important to him - he didn't need words as much as she did, he was content to know, and to know that we children knew that he knew. There are four of us, I'm the eldest, my only sister is four years younger than me and our two brothers are six and twelve years younger. And I know that we four and our parents (and our children and several others we have met and recognized on our sojourn here this time, including my sister's husband and my baby brother's wife - who are, themselves, brother and sister) comprise a Circle which has existed for aeons, bound by ties forged in the Heart of the One at the beginning of Time, taking countless turns at one role or another, together in one form or another over and over again. One thing that makes our Circle so strong is that we know this and one of the reasons we know it is because our parents knew it and taught it to us. They were both Pisces, born within two days of each other, three years apart. Try growing up as a child or a teenager and trying to lie to two Pisces parents, lol! It was usually Mom who caught us and spoke up, but if she didn't - Dad had a way of making us realize much later, after the fact, that he had known the truth of the matter all along.

My mother was a nominal Catholic - and she "believed" in all of the sin and guilt that seems so inevitably to attach to that faith for a woman, especially a woman of genius and independence who dared to rebel against authority in any way. But she also read Tarot and told dreams that came true, and saw and talked to spirits and believed in Atlantis - and was firmly convinced that we had all lived many lives before and were destined to live many lives in the future. Don't ask ME how she reconciled all of this with her belief in Christ the Lord, the Virgin Mary, the Saints and her idea of Purgatory - and her fear that it was her destination for her sins and failures in this life - I wasn't privy to her intimate religious philosophy - I just know that reconcile it she did and that she taught us that we were free to choose our OWN religious philosophy, just as she had. My sister's middle son was two years old one night when my sister and I were driving my mother home - probably from a Bingo game, lol....she loved to play and, of course, she nearly always won, and she DID always break even.. it was knowing how to pick the cards, she'd say. We were having an ordinary conversation about how long we'd lived in various places, saying things like "Well, I lived in such and such a town for seven years but I've been here for thirteen..." etc. when my two year old nephew broke into the conversation - looked at Mom and said "Oh, Grammy, you're REAL old - you've been here for many, many, many, many, many times...." We looked at each other over his head and my sister said "you mean many years?" and he said, in the frustrated voice of a child whose adults haven't understood him "NO, I said TIMES!"
And there was no need to ask him to explain, because we all knew it was true. My mother (and my father, too) were both very ancient Souls, just as we four children were (and my nephew too, how else had HE known, lol). My mother had started in reinforcing our bond very early. We could all repeat by rote, her standard speech whenever a couple of us would get into a sibling squabble (or try, she usually stopped those cold in their tracks well before they ever got to the "nyah, I hate you" stage). "Your family is all there is in the end , kids. That is the only sister (brother) you will ever have and you must stick together. When I die if ever any one of you turns their back on the other when they need you, I promise I will come back and haunt you forever!" She was raising us for an ideal world though, one that didn't exist as yet - a place of harmony and equality and tolerance, where, if you meant well, all would BE well, where violence of any kind was unacceptable, where if you just LOVED someone or something enough, it could be redeemed. Our teenage friends all adored her, because that was the way she treated them - especially the lost and struggling ones, the ones who were fighting with their own parents or marked by some terrible hidden tragedy in their own homes. She was the one I came to and in whose lap I wept when I saw the little black children (my age!) being spat upon and called "bitches" by women the age of my mother as they walked with a police escort to their first day of school....she was the one of whom I asked "Why...?". And when an old movie we were watching on tv once showed a little boy with a tattooed number on his arm, she was the one who dealt with my awakened horror when I turned to her and asked what it meant and she floundered trying to explain the Holocaust to an eight year old. In the end her explanation was this "They just didn't understand...." and, if you think about it, that is just about the most concise definition of bigotry ever heard - people fear what they do not understand and fear leads to hate and makes them do terrible things; which, if they truly understood and knew their victim, and saw them as a person like themselves, they could never do.
Understand, I am not painting a picture of a rosy idyllic childhood - far from it. Both my mother and father had problems with alcohol abuse and our early lives were filled with all of the terrible consequences that scenario engendered (my mother used to say wryly that they were both a couple of drowning Pisces, pulling each other down trying to stay afloat). But they both conquered many of their demons later in life, and through it all, the ample demonstration and evidence of their undying, and accepting love for each other and for us was something that we could never lose sight of - and we never did. And as we grew up and grew older and began to see them as fallible human beings, with lives and feelings and griefs of their own in which we had no part (my father suffered all his life from the same bipolar disorder I have been diagnosed with and my mother lost her own mother to pneumonia when she was 7 years old and her father became a drifter who abandoned his family [my mom, her two sisters and a brother] to be raised by different relatives all over the country and proceeded to drink himself to death), we were able to see them whole and to forgive whatever scars they had dealt us unaware in the depths of their own pain. But my mother suffered, felt that she had done us harm, and that perhaps she had some time to do in her Purgatory - or what we called the place between the worlds - because of it. At her request we even had a priest come to take her last confession and administer her last rites in that hospital bed on that day....
That day, that October day - my mother had been admitted early that morning to the hospital with extreme shortness of breath which nothing could relieve. Her admitting diagnosis was ARDS - adult respiratory distress syndrome - secondary to advanced COPD, and as a nurse, I knew that meant...this was IT. She knew it too. The doctors asked her did she want to be placed on a machine to help her breathe and she emphatically told them no, that she had a living will and that in the event she became unable to decide it would be up to us and we all knew her wishes. So, with just an oxygen mask (she had always used a cannula before and the mask so that they could give her a little more oxygen than was possible through her "nose hose", as she called it, was her only concession to any "life saving" procedure) and "reasonable" comfort measures as her doctors orders - she and the four of us, who had gathered during the year she lived after my father died to live within blocks of each other in the same town and who had been scattered over three different states before, prepared for her Crossing.
It took a little time to assemble everyone in that hospital room. My sister and I were the first and each of us went and got our brothers (and my sister's husband and brother's wives) as soon as each was able to get off work, get to the hospital....but Mom hung on, still conscious, still able to squeeze hands and nod when she was no longer able to talk, until we were all there, around her bed. We told her goodbye, told her to kiss Dad for us, told her it was alright, that we would stay together, that we would manage...that the Circle would be unbroken (that was, by the way, the only song played at her funeral services, by her own request, years and years before). I held one hand, my brother (he was her 'favorite', it was unthinkable for it to be any other way) on the other side held theother, and each of the four of us kissed her. I asked "Can you hear us, Mom? Do you know we're all here now? Do you understand?"..and she squeezed my hand firmly once, in reply..yes. Then she smiled, smiled in the midst of those agonal respirations - we all saw it - and breathed one last time and that was all. My brother leaned over, pulled the oxygen mask from her face (so that we all saw the smile even more clearly), and said "Won't need THIS damned thing any more now!" and threw it in the trash.
Later that night at her wake - again, one of her requests, "When I'm gone I want a real Irish wake, everyone in the Circle, and everyone who loved me and knew me, get together and party down! Play the music we love, talk about me, raise your glasses and your beers and say 'she was a hell of a gal!'" We had the picture of her and my father that I have reproduced here sitting on a table wreathed about with white candles. My daughter was in charge of the music and she was putting in CDs of the music my mother loved, early blues and rockabilly like Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash, mixed with classic 60's music like Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan.
There is an album by Van Morrison called Astral Weeks. Its title song has some lyrics which I have used as my personal quote on just about every profile I've ever filled out and which have been emblazoned on the inside cover of every bound journal I've kept since I first heard the song....and in the years I was nursing they became like a mantra, because, well, it's what I do.... "If I ventured in the slipstream, twixt the viaducts of your dreams..could you find me, would you kiss my eyes, and lay me down in silence be born another place, with another face...ain't nothing but a stranger in this world, got a home on high...." My Mom loved this song, knew its significance for me, loved the whole album and a lot of other music by Van Morrison too, but that album was her favorite. So it wasn't a surprise when my daughter put that CD in. What was a surprise was that she didn't start it at the title track. She started it at another track called Sweet Thing. Some of the words in the chorus to that song go "and you shall take me strongly in your arms again, and we shall walk in talk in gardens all wet with rain..and I shall never never grow so old again..."
As I listened to that song looking at the picture of my mother and father on their wedding day, young and beautiful, never so old as they became later (we all did, my daughter had gone immediately to the picture as soon as she put the song on and gazed at it) my eyes closed and I saw them (and I found later that all of us had seen the same thing, and had smelled the lilacs) , not in the photograph but real, standing together, looking as they did in the picture, and beginning to walk up a wooded hillside - rather like the mountainside in Arkansas where my father's childhood home had been and near the old pine tree haunted cemetary where his grave and my mother's lie - except that the trees looked like the trees in Lothlorien might have looked (we all agreed on that, though the movies to give us the picture of what we had imagined when we'd read the books were years in the future) - when my parents reached the crest of the hill, they turned to us and waved and then walked over it and I smelled lilacs, the way they smell after a rain, that intense green, powerful yet fragile fragrance, that you just catch a breath of as you walk past them. and I knew that, at least for a while, they had begun to walk in those gardens all wet with rain and that they had vowed to each other - at least for a time - to "never grow so old again".
And today, eleven years later to the very day - I am playing that mp3 on my computer and writing this down and remembering that glorious October day and that glimpse we had of them, that glimpse that all of us in the Circle were granted, that there was an eternity ahead and behind us all and that we would be together for all of it....again and again and again. So mote it Be.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Here Comes the Sun.

"Lil darling. It's been a long cold lonely winter. Lil darling, it seems like years since its been clear. And I say it's alright. Here comes the sun." -The Beatles

After some intermittent showers, the sun finally made an appearance just in time for us to take a nice bike ride up the beach from Santa Monica to Malibu. We rode into the sun, witnessing a beautiful sunset in Malibu. If I lived here I would make that trek every day. It is good for the soul and the body. Tonight we will head back up to Malibu, by car this time, to a nice seafood restaurant on the beach.

We had lunch at The Blue Plate, a cute little restaurant on Montana. Supposedly there have been numerous star sightings outside of the restaurant.

We also checked out some shops along Montana Street in Santa Monica. I gazed at clothing and shoes I couldn't afford and sipped a yummy Peet's latte. Tasty!

Sunny Santa Monica?

We are here to spend Thanksgiving with my partners family. Her mom rented a very modern condo in Santa Monica proper within walking distance to everything. Her brother and his wife live about a mile away, 2 blocks from the beach. We rolled into LAX last night, to be greeted by thousands of early holiday travelers like ourselves and rain... wait a second, rain? In Southern California, where the sun always shines?!? Oh well. We are happy to be here nonetheless. The agenda? We are going to ride bicycles to the promenade, a popular shopping destination, then we will head down to Montana Street, for shopping and a bite to eat. Then after that we will take a beautiful drive to Malibu to have dinner. Yay vacation!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Top Trends of 2008

1. Vampire themed books, movies and TV series.
2. Artists independently releasing their own music.
3. Raw food: Not just for hippies any more.
4. YouTube videos for everything you can imagine.
5. Consumers not consuming.

Get Your Skate On!

Whole Foods will open its yearly ice rink "Skating on the Plaza" this Friday. The temporary outdoor rink, which is located atop the Lamar store, will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m through January 11th. $10 will get you access to the rink for one of their 50-minute skate sessions and a skate rental. Tickets can be purchased at the guest services desk up to an hour before each session.

Prince on gay marriage.

"God came to Earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out," he said. "He was, like, 'Enough.'

This is allegedly a quote from the man of purple himself, the artist formerly known as Prince, now known as Prince again.

Confused? Me too.

This is coming from a guy who marched around, scantily clad in bikini breifs and outlandish costumes, who wrote the controversial sex filled songs "Dirty Mind," "Head" and "Do It All Night."

This quote and others are from a piece in "The New Yorker," where Prince was asked about abortion, religion, politics and Proposition 8. Some, including blogger Perez Hilton, have said that the Purple one was misquoted and some of the article was made up. "The New Yorker," a highly respectable publication, stands by its story.

Red River Bar District

I was asked to provide a brief summary of the Red River Bar District by Michael Barnes, my Entertainment Journalism instructor, who also happens to be an entertainment writer for the Austin American Statesman. They are compiling their annual bar guide, and our class was asked to help with the research of the various districts. I immediately picked the Red River District, being fairly familiar with it. Here is my summary:

The Red River bar scene is interesting because its bars represent a wide variety of cultural differences. First, I think that this area is primarily recognized as a live music destination.
You have your metal heads, old skool Red River scenesters, indie hipsters,
goths and gays and let's not forget the crackheads hanging in the alley by
Room 710.

Here's a breakdown of the bars in that area starting at E. Sixth and Red
River and ending at Tenth and Red River.

1. Emo's: A name synonymous with live music for many years now. In addition to a small indoor dive-y venue, Emo's also has a large outdoor venue that attracts many big-name artists. They also have a lounge next door, but I heard that they were closing it to put in El Sol Y La Luna (a
restaurant on Congress). Not sure when that will happen or the details.
Also known for the nastiest bathrooms in town (It's rumored that they have
never been cleaned).

2. Spiros: A dance-y, frat/sorority club with loud thumping beats bleeding out into the street. Crowd more akin to Sixth Street crowd. College kids. No live music, except during SXSW. Mainly dj's.

3. Plush: A lounge club that specializes in dance, hip-hop, primarily dj-based music.

4. Elysium: Goth-y dance bar straight out of the 80's. You will see people clad in black with tons of eyeliner looking like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They also have a good 80's night, where old people like me can dance to all the favorites from high school and
junior high. They also have a strong gay/lesbian crowd. Elysium features live
music from time to time.

5. Beerland: Dive bar featuring live music. Usually punk-y bands, with a good mix of indie and garage thrown in. Bad sound if you happen to be playing there. Love the name.

6. Red-Eyed Fly: Another dive bar. Has good-sized stage and bar in outdoor area. Think that this bar is mostly metal and hard rock, with a few butt-rock (hair metal-ish) bands thrown in for good measure.

7. Room 710: Live music. Metal, metal, metal! Used to be a little more diverse in its musical tastes, but seems to be steering towards the heavier bands these days. Gutter punks and aging metal musicians (the old
skool Red River crowd) are at home here.

8. Headhunters: The name says it all. Another bar that caters to old skool Red River crowd. Usually the same mix of people. Metal and hard rock.

9. Stubbs BBQ: Premier live music venue. Music featured outdoors and indoors. Outdoor area showcases touring bands that have achieved a larger measure of success. Indoor is more local bands and smaller touring acts.
I heard that they were doing a renovation of the outdoor area to make the stage
more accessible and expanding to make the capacity higher.

10. Club Deville: A hipster hangout. Great outdoor area that now features bands often. Indie-rock is the main staple at this joint. Mostly local bands, but sometimes touring bands are featured.

11. The Mohawk: Another hipster hangout for the late twenties/thirty-something set. Owners have been successful in turning
this formerly cursed location into a crucial component of the live music
scene. Indie-rock/pop/dance touring acts frequent the outside stage,
while the inside stage keeps it mainly local. Transmission Entertainment,
which features Graham Williams, the former booker of Emo's and local booker Rosa Madriz, is the main reason this bar is so successful.

These bars embody the Red River feel but aren't located on Red River

The Jackalope: Same grungy old skool Red River feel.
Beauty Bar: Hipsters on cocaine. Live music, mainly dance, dj and indie acts.
The Side Bar: Cool little hangout bar with stiff drinks.
Creekside Lounge: Also a nice little low-key hangout spot. They also feature some live music.
Casino El Camino: Old skool hangout. An oasis on Sixth Street. Delicious burgers if you don't mind waiting a while.
Red 7: Metal, metal and more metal! Sometimes featuring emo and punk bands.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Instrumentals for Relaxation and Studying.

If you're like me, you like to listen to music constantly, but get easily distracted by music when trying to complete schoolwork (assignments, blogs, papers, etc.). I have an annoyingly short attention span and get distracted easily. Some may call this A.D.D. My solution to this? Instrumental music. There's a lot of good stuff out there, some yet to be discovered. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

1) Air
I love anything from this French electro-pop group, but some of my favorites are "Moon Safari," "Talkie Walkie" and "Pocket Symphony."

2) The Album Leaf
Not all of their songs are instrumental, but I particularly love the ethereal, soothing instrumentals on "In a Safe Place."

3) Ratatat
I just recently discovered this dance rock combo. Love it. I really like their self-titled debut album. It makes me want to dance while doing school work!

4) Sigur Ros
I know that this band is not entirely instrumental, but singer Jónsi has invented a new instrument with his voice, not to mention a new language called Hopelandic. Beautiful music. One of my favorite bands. I saw them at Bass Concert Hall not too long ago. Amazing.

5) Explosions in the Sky
This Austin band plays hauntingly beautiful melodies equipped with intense crescendos and echoing guitars. I love everything they have put out, but "The Earth is Not a Cold, Dead Place" and the soundtrack for the movie "Friday Night Lights" are my favorites.

6) Booker T. and the MG's
Old school all-instrumental soul band from the 1960's and 1970's. Several members were part of the legendary house band for imprint Stax records, backing Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Wilson Pickett, among others. This music is soothing and fun. You can sit back and enjoy the exceptional musicianship and soulful sounds. My favorites include the seminal "Green Onions" and Beatles cover album "McLemore Avenue."

7) The Bad Plus
Avant-garde jazz trio that likes to infuse jazz with pop and rock influences. They've done jazz covers of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana and "Heart of Glass" by Blondie, among others. My favorite album is "These Are the Vistas."

8) The High Llamas
Also, not an entirely instrumental band, but I do enjoy their instrumental songs, especially off of their 1996 release "Hawaii." With its lush sound, borrowing a wee bit from the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds," "Hawaii" is a classic on its own.

9) Mogwai
This Scottish post-rock band has been making beautiful and frightening music for some times. With slow, reverb-drenched soundscapes that sometimes abruptly burst into loud distortion, this band doesn't disappoint. My favorite albums? "Young Team" and "Rock Action."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Proposition 8 Passes in California

As we bask in the glow of the election of our first president of color, clearly a momentous occasion and a victory against discrimination in our great nation, I find myself saddened by the events in California and other states in regards to gay rights. As most of you know, Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state of California, has passed by a fairly narrow margin. This bill, primarily financed by religious rights groups, including the Mormon church, is championed by these religious groups as a necessary move in "defending the institution of traditional marriage," which is being eroded by gay people getting married.
Please! Why do these people care? Because this country is ruled by the religious right. We are supposed to be a democracy that practices a clear separation of church and state, as clearly specified in our constitution.
In addition to creating a bond of love and commitment, most of these gay couples seek marriage primarily to protect their rights legally and medically. If I were to get sick in the state of Texas, somewhere besides liberal Austin, would my partner be allowed to make the necessary legal and medical decisions? If we did bring a child into this world, would the non-biological parent be able to make decisions regarding their own child? If we wanted to adopt a child, considering that there are millions of unwanted children in the world, could we? Not in Arkansas, where they just passed an amendment banning non-married couples from fostering or adopting a child. Bans on gay marriage were also passed in Florida and Arizona.
I personally think religion, especially the intolerant evangelical Christian version, practiced by a large number of Americans, is eroding the national fiber of our country. We live in a country where even our liberal politicians have to profess a religion, a Western religion that is, in order to be elected. Proposition 8 and countless other acts of intolerance and injustice, are making the United States a laughingstock around the world.