Saturday, January 30, 2010

One more for the road...

This is "Seasons," which Chris Cornell recorded for the movie Singles, which was filmed four blocks from my house in Seattle in 1991. It gives me chills everytime I hear it, and every time I read the lyrics:

Summer nights and long warm days
Are stolen as the old moon falls
And the mirror shows another face
Another place to hide it all
Another place to hide it all
And I'm lost, behind
The words I'll never find
And I'm left behind
As seasons roll on by

Sleeping with a full moon blanket
Sand and feathers for my head
Dreams have never been the answer
And dreams have never made my bed
Dreams have never made my bed

And I'm lost, behind
The words I'll never find
And I'm left behind
As seasons roll on by

Now I wanna fly above the storm
But you can't grow feathers in the rain
And the naked floor is cold as hell
This naked floor reminds me
Oh the naked floor reminds me

And I'm lost, behind
Words I'll never find
And I'm left behind
As seasons roll on by

If I should be short on words
And long on things to say
Would you crawl into my world
And take me worlds away
Should I be beside myself
And not even stay

And I'm lost, behind
Words I'll never find
And I'm left behind
As seasons roll on by

Love the guy who yells, "Take the sweater off." And thanks again to TenaciousLibbs for recording and posting these. Read more!

Cornell at The Troubador in L.A. 1/29/10

[Thanks to TenaciousLibbs for recording and posting these on YouTube.]

In case you were wondering what we missed, here are a few choice selections. I know now there is a God, because he created YouTube so I could see and hear my man sing my favorite song, "When I'm Down." He also did a heart-breaking version of "Imagine." Check them out yourself...

He explains in the video why he never sang "When I'm Down" on the road before--because it was written with piano in mind. Now on the solo acoustic tour, that's exactly what he has. "This is how it was supposed to be done." He says, as he flips back his ever-lengthening locks of hair.

"Imagine" always gives me goose bumps...

Great story about his daughter, Toni, in this one; and incredible rendition:

Neil Young's "Don't let it bring you down" after the break...

Read more!


Looking for some as I edit these stories. Found some.

Weimaraner or Neopolitan Mastiff? You make the call. I love me a big wrinkled Neo... Read more!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Why do I follow Chris Cornell everywhere?

This is why.

I won't be at the Troubador in LA tonight in body, but most certainly in spirit. Have a wonderful time, Laurie and Steph! Read more!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

R.I.P. J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger died yesterday at his home of natural causes. He was 91 years old and as eccentric as he was famous, according to this AP article.

From the article: "Humorist John Hodgman wrote: 'I prefer to think JD Salinger has just decided to become extra reclusive.'"

'Catcher in the Rye' author J.D. Salinger dies

"Where do ducks go in the winter?"

When asked in my high school class what Holden Caulfield meant by this, my thought was, duh, he was worried about the ducks. Luckily someone else was called on, and he or she answered correctly, that he was wondering about life after death. I still think he was worried about the ducks.

Read more!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

American compassion?

I am sick and tired of reading FB posts and editorials that suggest it is wrong to help Haiti because we have homeless people and hungry children here in America. When we start drawing boundaries around our compassion, we hurt more than those who are truly in need--we hurt ourselves by becoming less human. National boundaries are arbitrary, compassion should never be. That's it. Think about it. Read more!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Avatar: To Go or Not To Go -- The Official Questionnaire [Rated R for Language and Nudity]

[Dedicated with love to my sister Sarah, who "didn't think this would be her kind of thing" but went anyway and loved it.]

AVATAR: To Go or Not To Go -- The Official Questionnaire

1. Would you agree that Ridley Scott’s Alien was one of the best movies ever?
2. Have you ever, in your life, read even one science fiction novel? [You lie.]
3. Have you ever bought—and worn—one of those iridescent necklaces at a rock concert? And were you secretly sad when the light eventually went out?
4. Have you seen any 3D movie in the past ten years?
5. Have you seen the 3D trailer for Alice in Wonderland yet? Don’t you like Johnny Depp? What are you, some kind of lesbian?
6. Have you ever seen a movie with super-cool explosions where you didn’t enjoy the super-cool explosions?
7. Are you a fan of LOST, that series about mysterious events in a magical place with hot actors?
8. Can you safely say that you felt an unhealthy amount of pleasure when the character played by that obnoxious actress Michelle Rodriquez was killed off on LOST?
9. Would you enjoy seeing a movie where the first guy to get killed isn’t “the black dude?” [I may have to double-check this one.]
10. Are you a fan of the actor that played Phoebe-from-Friends’ dopey long-lost brother? Why not?
11. Have you ever resisted seeing a super red-hot movie because you thought it wouldn’t be cool, only to find out later that they weren’t making shit up about Star Wars (the first one) being phenomenal?
12. As of January 15, 2010, 1.8 billion people worldwide have seen Avatar. Even if half of them thought that it sucked, are you really so arrogant to think you have nothing in common with the 900,000,000 that did like it?
13. Do you really want to be the only person for the rest of your life that doesn’t get the cultural references to this movie at the workplace?
14. Do you realize how much it will suck that you have to watch Avatar on a regular TV when the sequel comes out and you can’t make yourself go to the second one without seeing the first?
15. Do you realize how cool you will sound joining the legion of critics who have gone to see the movie and dared to hate it?
16. Do you have something against the color blue?
17. Do you like trees?
18. Kittens?!


Results: Thank you for taking the time to fill out this questionnaire. I’m sure by now you must realize that if you had enough doubt about skipping this movie that you actually resorted to some dumb-ass questionnaire, you really should just suck it up and go see the damn thing.

As for the critics, professional and otherwise, I agree whole-heartedly that this movie is riddled--nay, completely based on--boldly plagiarized portions of more than a dozen critically-acclaimed films and books. As a cynic, I actually enjoyed picking out the plagiarism and matching it to the appropriate source--something James Cameron neglected to do in the final credits. But honestly, there is only one major flaw in this picture that stood out to me above all others:

Samuel L. Jackson is not in this film.

I called Samuel after my first viewing, still somewhat out-of-joint, and I asked him about it.

“Sam,” (I always call him Sam), “I am madder than a bull that just wandered into a Fry Festival because I just paid good money to see a film that you were not in.” I paused to let the weight of my displeasure register with him. I heard him pull hard on his cigar.

“Sam, my man, I have to know. Have you seen this flick?”

“Bitch,” (he always calls me bitch), “not ONLY have I gone to see this brilliant piece of work, I’ve done seen the son of a bitch three motherfuckin’ times!! Sheeeeit.”

Last question: So you think you’re better than Samuel L. Motherfuckin’ Jackson?

I did not think so.

Read more!

An Unlikely Hero

Let's hear it for the underdog--or whatever the hell it is... This had me crying--in a good way. Bad day? WATCH THIS AND BE CURED!

I love it when I can say I told you so. And it's an armadillo. I wasn't sure if it was that or an aardvark. I think the sleeper was the aardvark. Read more!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Where Egyptian Arabians Come From

I don't know how legible this is, but this is a 1993 advertisement for the El Zahraa stud farm in Cairo. I just love the photo they used. The facility is very large and has extremely high stone walls. Child beggars and trash filled the streets around it, while inside, grooms in spotless white uniforms cared for horses that typically sold only to rich Gulf Arabs. Not a speck of litter, and all palm trees trimmed and meticulously white-washed ten feet up from the ground.
Just inside the massive iron gates
Groom and his ward

Young boy and donkey a few hundred yards past Al Zahraa

Every country has its very rich and its very poor, but it is definitely a chasm between them in Egypt.
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Bustan al-Hayawanat (The Zoo) from The Agoraphobic's Guide to Cairo

Samia with her baby, and her daughter in the yellow Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shirt.

Bustan al-Hayawanat The Zoo
[Oct 1993]

I learned quickly that it was not unusual to speak English with Arabs I met in Cairo. What was unusual, however, was to speak Arabic with anybody in Cairo. Apart from my professors, the only Arabs I had really met so far were the cab drivers that took me to and from school each day. Since their daily living depended upon being able to communicate with tourists from all corners of the world, and since everyone in Egypt began learning English in primary school, even when I began a conversation in Arabic, the driver would respond in English. It was great that I was meeting and talking to new people, but since I was trying to get a Masters' degree in the language, I really needed to do it in Arabic. I could see I was going to have to resort to deception.

Being blond-haired, blue-eyed, and light-skinned, pretending to be an Arab was out of the question. (Speaking Arabic with the skill of a preschooler might have been a tip-off, as well.) So one day as I climbed into a cab I turned to my ancestry for a little assistance. I decided to pretend I was German. Brilliant plan. As it turns out, eleven out of ten tourists in Cairo just happen to be German. So when I responded to my cabbie’s conversational English in Arabic, explaining that I was German and spoke no English, he didn’t even pause—he simply switched to conversing in German. Now I was stuck trying to recall my remedial college German to avoid blowing my cover. By the time we reached my destination—which took roughly three years—I had convinced my driver I was unable to communicate in just about any language. Poor little mentally challenged tourist, I could see him thinking as he pulled away.

The next time I jumped in a taxi, I chose a different branch of the family tree. I went Norwegian. I finally had this guy right where I wanted him. It was all Arabic, all the way. Thank God I never ran into one that actually spoke Norwegian, because I sure as hell don’t. After a few weeks of impersonating Europeans I realized I just might be ready to expand my social circle beyond the world of taxi drivers.
As we entered the month of October, we entered the blessed month of gratuitous national holidays in Egypt. October 6 is Armed Forces Day, during which Egypt celebrates landing one short-lived blow on Israel’s nose in 1973. Effective or no, it earned us all a 5-day weekend from the university. With my roommate Emily sequestered by a migraine, I decided to check out the Cairo Zoological Gardens on my own. The zoo was described fondly in my tourist bible, “The Real Guide: Egypt” by Dan Richardson and Karen O’Brien. The entry I read before leaving the house that day read, “Check out the Cairo Zoo—regarded as the finest in the world when it was founded in 1890.” Two sentences later, a distance I neglected to travel before I left, it added, “Try to avoid Fridays, weekends, or public holidays, when the zoo is packed with picnicking families.”

This was something of an understatement. If you are an Egyptian family wishing to enjoy a holiday, there is only one destination—the Cairo Zoo. Thanks to the holiday, admission was free, and the animals were outnumbered at least a thousand to one by vacation-hungry Egyptians. It was a real struggle to work your way up the edge of the exhibits. I barely caught a glimpse of the hairless polar bear, who was suffering from what looked like a pretty uncomfortable skin condition. The brown and black bears had hair, but clearly looked as though they would have been willing to forego it in the October heat. As an added treat—for the animals and the visitors—it cost only a few piasters (about a dime) to feed small children to the wild animals.

Actually, I managed to misunderstand this custom initially. In fact, parents were letting their children approach the bars of the cages to feed little canned weenies to the bears, giraffes, and elephants—with the assistance of some weary-looking zookeepers. The inmates seemed grateful to have something to do, and it seemed to me that more than one of them eyed wistfully the bite-sized people behind the canned weenies. I watched one excited little boy in blue jeans and a red and white striped shirt reach into the open mouth of a hippopotamus with a small twist of hay. It was all I could do to keep myself from running to the front of the cage and throwing myself between the boy and the hippo. Remarkably, he lived. Maybe they only hand-feed the blind and arthritic hippos, I thought to myself.

But for the thousands of locals who turned out that day, the most popular exhibit turned out to be Homo Sapien Americanica. From what I could see, I was the one and only US tourist who had decided that this would be a great day to explore a popular family park. (Apparently everyone else read the entire entry in the guide book.) Conservatively dressed (in my opinion), I wore long khaki pants and a men’s light blue, loose-fitting button-down shirt. I had even made a weak attempt to conceal my light-colored hair under a dark blue baseball cap. I had no way of knowing that by dressing like a man and wearing a baseball cap, I was also wearing a neon flashing sign that screamed AMERICAN TOURIST.

Inexplicably (to me at that time) I was afforded the same level of attention one might give a porcupine wandering loose among the exhibits. The attention was at first amusing, then unsettling, then downright annoying. Later I would feel like a fool for taking it personally that people didn’t know what to make of an American loose in an Egyptian zoo.

As I strolled self-consciously from display to display, I was repeatedly approached by giggling groups of children. What’s your name? Hello, hello, welcome to Egypt! Where are you from? Most of them clearly just wanted to be able to tell their friends later that they had talked to a foreigner and lived to tell the tale. Their mothers always stood apart, watching me with obvious distrust and waiting, no doubt, for me to pounce upon their children and devour them whole. When they saw for themselves that I did no such thing, they would relax a little. As the children ran back to their mothers and assured them I was harmless, my smile was always returned—from afar. I had never suspected I would have this hard a time meeting Arab women. I started to suspect I had chosen a poor location for my first social adventure.

During one in a series of such encounters, one of the mothers grew bold enough to approach me when she overheard me speaking broken Arabic to her children. She wore a long-sleeve black and white patterned blouse and a black, mid-calf skirt. Her dark brown hair strayed out from under a traditional white scarf that reached down past her shoulders. She was carrying an infant on her left hip and dragging her reluctant friends (most of them younger, with hair uncovered) behind her. Her kids called out to her as she approached, “She speaks Arabic! She speaks Arabic!” This was something she had to hear to believe. After a few tentative exchanges between us, during which I tried my best not to scare her away accidentally, she demanded (much to her friends’ initial alarm) that I join her family and friends for a picnic lunch. I agreed, and she put her right arm through mine and led me away. I was beginning to feel a little less like a leper.

Samia led me to a shady stretch of grass nearby where several families had already gathered. As soon as we arrived, the two or three men sitting among them were reluctantly ejected. Within seconds, the crowd of women and children, emboldened by their leader, surrounded me. It was pretty clear who was to be the main course of this meal. All around me I heard the question “What’s your name?” which seemed to be the extent of my new friends’ English skills. I had wanted Arabic, and I got it. Samia proved to be infectiously charming and sarcastically witty, and I soon understood why the others all wished to be near her. I could see she was torn between arranging the cheese sandwiches she had brought along for the occasion, and representing me to the crowd like an enthusiastic Hollywood agent. I had been transformed from social outcast to celebrity in the blink of an eye. To make absolutely sure that no one in the crowd proved to be an undercover English major, I offered no English myself. (Samia would ask me later if I actually knew any. She probably thought I was actually Norwegian. Happens all the time.)

Samia quieted everyone to fulfill the necessary social obligations before the actual interrogation could begin. I was introduced to Samia’s eighteen-month old daughter, and then to so many other children and young women that I soon lost track of every name but Samia’s herself. Samia herself appeared to be about thirty years of age, and had four children—three of which had accompanied her to the park. Both her ten year-old son and her eight year-old daughter wore yellow ninja turtle t-shirts. Her daughter wore a matching yellow headband. It seemed as though every child within twenty feet of me was wearing ninja turtle sneakers. Samia never set down her infant daughter, who wore a lilac-patterned dress and a permanent pacifier. She was about six or seven months pregnant, and her unbridled energy was astounding. Having been properly introduced, Samia and her friends at last allowed themselves to satisfy their curiosity.
My interrogators

Arabic was suddenly flying everywhere, and most of it kept going right over my head. My exposure to the spoken Arabic of Egypt (a far, far cry from the classical Arabic I had studied in the States) had begun scarcely a month earlier. To make sure I was following their friendly line of questioning, certain questions were repeated time and time again.

Why are you here? Where are you from? Are you living here? Where do you live? Do you live here alone? Are you married? Do you have kids? How did you learn Arabic? How long will you be here? What does your family think of your living here? Often times, one woman would ask me something, see my utterly confused look, and another would re-phrase the question in the hopes that I would understand it better. Soon enough, we were all more or less communicating.

I told them I had moved to Cairo to see the country and study Arabic. I would probably be here for a year or two. They were amazed to hear I had learned the little Arabic I knew in such faraway places as Seattle and Vermont. I told them I was from a small town named Madison, WI, located in the middle of the United States, and that my family was all there worrying about me as we spoke. Samia grew concerned when I told her the Cairene neighborhood I lived in: she suspecting immediately that it was terribly over-priced for foreigners. She was probably right. In comparison, she and her family paid less than one-quarter of the rent my roommates and I were paying. They also lived more than forty-five minutes outside the city center, up in the winding cliffs called Moqattam Hills. I told them I lived with fellow students from the States, and then I lied to them.

Everybody is so anxious to give advice when they hear you are preparing to move to a foreign land, with a foreign culture. I was very anxious to do and say the right things, so as to not alienate anyone I met when I got there. The main thing I heard from former travelers was that it was considered highly unusual—and fairly risqué—for a single American woman to be traveling on her own in a Middle Eastern country. That may have been true had I moved to Saudi Arabia, or had been traveling in the 18th century, but it was nowhere near the issue it was made out to be when living in a modern city like Cairo. I was still learning this, so before I had left to go the zoo that morning I had borrowed a cheap ring from Emily, along with a story of a fictitious husband still working in the States. I proceeded to tell Samia and her friends that yes, I was married, hoping this would boost any suspect respectability in their eyes. The moment I had said it I regretted it, realizing it would have made no difference to Samia whether I was married or single. I wish I could say it would be the last time I underestimated a new acquaintance, but it was not. I now realize that Samia was probably not fooled (except for the Norwegian thing). It is to her credit that she appeared to think no less of me.

They asked, “Is your marriage on paper (i.e., legal) or just ‘between you two’?” I now wanted to take it all back, but the fabrication rapidly snowballed out of my control. One of the women asked me, “Aren’t you dying to hold him?” Considering how long it had been since I had a serious boyfriend, this time I could honestly say yes, I was! “Do you have any children?” Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to not make up any children, but felt terrible just the same. “May God bless you with many,” I heard several women say. I told them I lived with two kittens, and this shocked them almost as much as my being in Cairo without my husband. “You have cats that live in the house?!” Turns out that was a bigger taboo in Cairo than living abroad as a single woman. I hadn’t caught that in any of my tourist books, and made a mental note to write to the editor as soon as I got home.

In Egypt, pets are considered unclean, and you must be clean to pray five times a day as a devout Muslim. Some Christians have dogs, but cats are different. In a city with no formal garbage pick-up system (there is—or was at the time—a lower caste who survived on collecting and sorting said trash) not once did I see a rat, not even in the poorest areas where garbage piles were taller than I am. That is because the city is completely filled with feral cats. They came in all flavors and colors, and some of the older Toms looked like they could take down a weak tourist, so I avoided those. Locals were not only frightened of them (as disease-ridden) but disgusted by them. So it took some time to explain that you could both bathe and domesticate the little beasts. To an extent, anyway. I left the topic as quickly as I could.

After more than an hour of answering questions and eating crusty hot-dog buns filled with stale cheese, Samia had made it clear that I could use some serious work in the weight department. I had only been in Egypt a month so I had only had diarrhea about that long, but I told her my mother would probably agree with her that I was a little on the light side. I don’t know how many children went hungry due to the overfeeding I endured that afternoon, but it had to be several.

After all the food and questioning, I was ready to collapse right there under the hibiscus trees for long nap. Samia saw me fading and brought an end to the interview, suggesting that we all get up and walk off our lunch in the park. Walking arm-in-arm with Samia and about ten of the children, I felt at home for the first time since arriving. The perceived barriers between us disappeared as we strolled among the exhibits and watched the children play. More than three hours after being adopted by them all, I reluctantly kissed Samia on both cheeks and headed back to my apartment, exhausted but happy. I had to promise repeatedly that I would soon visit her family’s home. Everyone in the group had insisted upon being photographed when they found my camera, and it was up to me to make sure everyone received their own record of our unexpected picnic. Samia wrote directions to her home on a piece of paper for me, which I prayed I’d be able to decipher later. I gave her my phone number, only to learn she had no phone. She gave me the number of her younger sister, Hanna, who lived and worked in the city, and we went our separate ways.

I was too tired to play word games with my cab driver, and nodded off several times in the short distance home. My roommate and my Siamese met me at the door with a thousand more questions, most of which were still floating through my head as I fell fast asleep on the sofa.

A new friend takes a pic of me, Samia, her toddler, and her son in the yellow Ninja shirt (with the matching Ninja attitude.)
Read more!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan

The info below is from Greg's website for his latest book. The book is extremely timely and an unbelievable read. He has to be the single most inspiring living being I "know" right now.


Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan was released on December 1, 2009. Over the past sixteen years, Greg Mortenson, through his nonprofit Central Asia Institute (CAI), has worked to promote peace through education by establishing more than 130 schools, most of them for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The story of how this remarkable humanitarian campaign began was told in his bestselling 2006 book, Three Cups of Tea. Mortenson’s philosophies about building relationships, empowering communities, and educating girls have struck a powerful chord. Hundreds of communities and universities, as well as several branches of the U.S. military, have used Three Cups of Tea as a common read.

Just as Three Cups of Tea began with a promise—to build a school in Korphe, Pakistan—so too does Mortenson’s new book. In 1999, Kirghiz horsemen from Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor rode into Pakistan and secured a promise from Mortenson to construct a school in an isolated pocket of the Pamir Mountains known as Bozai Gumbad. Mortenson could not build that school before constructing many others, and that is the story he tells in this dramatic new book. Picking up where Three Cups of Tea left off in late 2003, Stones into Schools traces the CAI’s efforts to work in a whole new country, the secluded northeast corner of Afghanistan. Mortenson describes how he and his intrepid manager, Sarfraz Khan, barnstormed around Badakhshan Province and the Wakhan Corridor, moving for weeks without sleep, to establish the first schools there.

Those efforts were diverted in October 2005 when a devastating earthquake hit the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan. Under Sarfraz’s watch the CAI helped with relief efforts by setting up temporary tent schools and eventually several earthquakeproof schools. The action then returns to Afghanistan in 2007, as the CAI launches schools in the heart of Taliban country and as Mortenson helps the U.S. military formulate new strategic plans as a road map to peace. As the book closes, the initial promise to the Kirghiz is fulfilled

Stones into Schools brings to life both the heroic efforts of the CAI’s fixers on the ground—renegade men of unrecognized and untapped talent who became galvanized by the importance of girls’ education—and the triumphs of the young women who are now graduating from the schools. Their stories are ones you will not soon forget.

“ What Greg understands better than most—and what he practices more than anyone else I know—is the simple truth that all of us are better off when all of us have the opportunity to learn, especially our children. By helping them learn and grow, he’s shaping the very future of a region and giving hope to an entire generation.” —Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

“ This week . . . I watched Greg Mortenson, the famed author of Three Cups of Tea, open one of his schools for girls in this remote Afghan village in the Hindu Kush mountains. I must say, after witnessing the delight in the faces of those little Afghan girls crowded three to a desk waiting to learn, I found it very hard to write, ‘Let’s just get out of here.’” —Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times

“ Sometimes the acts of one individual can illuminate how to confront a foreign-policy dilemma more clearly than the prattle of politicians. Such is the case with Greg Mortenson, whose work gives insights into an essential element of fighting terrorism.” —Trudy Rubin, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“ Mortenson’s story serves as a reminder of the power of a good idea and the strength inherent in one person’s passionate determination to persevere against enormous obstacles.” —Marilyn Gardner, The Christian Science Monitor

His schedule is posted on his main site, He has many appearances in northern IL. I attended one in 2007(?) and it was packed beyond capacity.
Read more!

Greg Mortenson on Bill Moyers

Here's a clip of Greg Mortenson talking to Bill Moyers on building a girls' school in Mullah Omar's village and recent troop deployment to Afghanistan. I don't think I've ever seen him in a suit and not in traditional Pakistani dress. He must have felt awkward as hell.

(Well, the link works on my Facebook page. Find me there.)

You can even tell how painfully shy he is--like it hurts to talk. It would be great to see him really getting into a lively discussion in one of the jirgas (councils of elders) deep in Afghanistan, drinking tea and swapping stories in the Dari (or Pashto, etc.) language. Read more!

Heartbreak in Haiti

A injured man carries his dead daughter after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince January 13, 2010. A major earthquake rocked Haiti, killing possibly thousands of people as it toppled the presidential palace and hillside shanties alike and left the Caribbean nation appealing for international help. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
The Huffington Post has a full list of ways to donate with just a text message:
•Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
•Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee
•Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada
•Text YELE to 501501 to donate $5 to Yele
•Text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10 through the Clinton Foundation
•Text HAITI to 864833 to donate $5 to The United Way
•Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation
•Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International
•Text RELIEF to 30644 (this will connect you with Catholic Relief Services and instruct you to donate money with your credit card) is also very involved in restoring sustainable livelihoods to the devastated population.

Very difficult to stop looking at the pictures. And it's nothing, of course, compared to living it day in and day out.
Read more!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help for Haiti

A woman stands in the rubble of her home the day after an earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010.
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

You can text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill. Or you can go online to organizations like the Red Cross and Mercy Corps to make a contribution to the disaster relief efforts.

It worked very easily when I did it and definitely looked legit. Read more!

Monday, January 4, 2010


Chris Cornell on the cover of Louder Than Love

Every year gives us new challenges. Some we bring on ourselves as New Year's resolutions, while others jump out of nowhere. Sometimes it is a combination of both.

I did not formally write down any resolutions (easier to "bend" them that way) but I did make some. Weight and health are up there, of course, but I feel I have a jump on both of those going vegetarian (and cutting back on dairy) as well as a fair amount of weight lost due to the stresses of November and December. I'd just like to keep those both rolling. Writing is also way up there, but that is as daunting as ever.

I noticed several friends on Facebook have decided to cut back on swearing. That made the devil in me laugh, as it never even crossed my mind how I still swear like a drunken welder. So fuck that one. I think the hope of my ever turning into something "ladylike" is quite extinguished, so let's not waste any effort there. As Bette Midler would say, "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke." Or a little profanity.

As for the angel in me (there actually is a small one) I am still determined to find a way to keep helping The Brooke as well as raising awareness (my own, if nothing else) on many other issues, among them women's rights in SO many areas of the world as listed with no blinders in the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. On the American front I have renewed my pledge to help eliminate CAFOs (confined animal factory operations)--or at least convince one or two people that they actually do exist. I am signing on with the Humane Society to help them with that, as they are doing good work in that area.

So what obstacles to charity could there possibly be? Well, money is a big one. Still waiting for B of A's verdict on my mortgage adjustment, and from what I have read EVERYwhere, they let people have the three month reduction then pull the carpet out from under you, cancel the deal, and demand the difference for the three months back immediately. I am bracing for that, and will deal with it when it happens. So there may be a drafty 90 year-old Colonial on the market this spring. I sincerely hope not, since I haven't seen a house sell in Columbus in my neighborhood in two years. If I actually thought it would sell, I would be that bothered about it.

A less typical obstacle came in the form of what a rock music lover would herald as absolutely and unequivacally fantastic news as 2010 arrived: Soundgarden has reunited after 12 years of being apart. (Insert multiple OMG!!!s here.) I last saw them 14 years ago on their last Lollapalooza tour. The show was at the Gorge at George outside of Seattle. Cornell's voice was shot, the set was barely an hour, and my companion and I were about a mile from the stage--but it was Soundgarden.

Since I can never just enjoy good news for what it is, I immediately had three major misgivings upon hearing this joyous news. Misgiving #1--I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed the small, personal venues that Chris Cornell has been playing as a solo artist for the last decade. There is no thrill like resting your elbows on the stage as Chris bends down to serenade you. None. Not even meeting him afterwards, where he and the band go through the motions of yet another boring (for them) Meet & Greet can match the adrenaline rush of connecting with him during a performance.

Now that he and the boys are together again, there is very little likelihood of resting my elbows (comfortably, anyway) on the stage. No, we're going to go back to guard rails 6 feet or more from Cornell's boots, body guards everywhere, and backstage passes are going to be at a fucking premium. So I will treasure my memories of basking in Cornell's spittle and wait until the boys get tired of each other again.

Then there is Misgiving #2. Ticket prices. Not that Cornell was cheap, but again, you got a whole lotta bang for your buck. Now picture minimum $100/day tickets for Coachella (where water is at least $4/bottle), not to mention airline tix to LA if you happen to live in the Midwest. I can't justify it, no matter how I look at it. Even following Foo Fighters to three states in 2008 I was able to do by car and with work-related gift certificates for hotels. So I will have to grit my teeth to nubbins as I watch my SG cohorts follow the boys wherever they go--short of overseas (even they have their limits ;o). Envy will drip from me like sweat at Coachella.

Misgiving #3 is that I can't reconcile spending any penny I raise to see SG when that money--if indeed it could be raised--should go to the charities I say I am so loyal to. How many concerts do Congolese refugees enjoy every year? Let's make it less drastic--how many concerts does the average Egyptian get to each year? OK--still too stiff a comparison. How many movies does the average Egyptian woman go to each year? Not the Westernized woman with money and status--the rural woman who spends all day taking care of children, livestock and crops. You get the point.

So, still being your average self-centered, privileged American, my idea is a band aid for the conscience: Whatever I spend on a musical outing, I must spend an equal amount on one of my charities. If I can't raise enough to cover both--I don't go.

And right out of the gate Rickie Lee Jones decides to stop by our intimate Barrymore Theatre on February 23. $35 (plus fees) for my soft-hearted icon, and $35 (plus fees) to The Brooke. No market for selling guinea pigs anymore, so I'll have to come up with something else. At least I didn't have to START with facing a Soundgarden arena show. I'm going to need a little time to work up to that.

And we'll just see how it goes from there. Read more!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

When The Sun Rose Again

From the new Alice in Chains' CD "Black Gives Way To Blue"

Phrases keep catching my ear as I write...

When The Sun Rose Again

Run, run 'till you drop
Hide, everyone knows
We all trade in never-befores
Selling out for the score

Prey, squeal when you're caught
Cry, it's not my fault
Time to trade in never-befores

Selling out for the score

It seems you prophesised all of this would end
Were you burned away when the sun rose again?

Hate, long wearing thin
Negative, all you've been
Time to trade in never-befores
Selling out for the score

It seems you prophesised all of this would end
Were you burned away when the sun rose again?

It seems you prophesised all of this would end
Were you burned away when the sun rose again?

Glad you are back, AIC. It was nothing but easy, I can only imagine.
Layne Staley, 1967-2002

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