negothick: (Charlotte)
Looking for the return of these historic institutions, any day now,
Debt slavery
Pauper auctions
Poor Farms
vigilante posses

though probably with better branding:

Earning your benefits
Contract social welfare
Private alternative incarceration
Replacing illegal agricultural labor
Privatized law enforcement
I give up
negothick: (Charlotte)
With all the results not yet in, it looks as though The Netherlands will not go the way of our (not-very) United States. The current Prime MInister "Rutte said his victory halted resurgent nationalism, claiming 'The Netherlands said ‘Stop’ to the wrong sort of populism.'"

The party of their violently anti-Islamic, "Holland First," anti-immigrant candidate did not win a majority of seats,  though Wilders does have a large following.

America has a long history of paranoia, which would be more justified in a country like The Netherlands that was invaded and occupied so much more frequently. I have written--and spoken--often about "Puritan Paranoia," which found such memorable expression in the witch belief. Unlike the early modern witch accusations in Europe, often couched in terms of individual sexual anxieties--witches stole my penis!--the transcripts of the Connecticut and Massachusetts witch trials reveal accusers worried about conspiracies organized by Satan against the state. Friday night in Westerly, RI (there were no witch trials in colonial Rhode Island, whose leader had been expelled from Massachusetts with the same sort of accusation of being an agent of Satan),  I'll be telling the story of Goody Ann Glover, an Irish immigrant to Boston who was executed for witchcraft in 1688, mainly because she spoke her native tongue, Irish Gaelic, and was a Roman Catholic. As Cotton Mather wrote, she prayed to her evil spirits or saints, it's all one.
With some of the original Massachusetts Bay founders still alive, their government is already paranoid about immigrants.

And so it has been in the years since, America welcoming and providing a refuge to immigrants while simultaneously fearing and (in this case, literally) demonizing them. The little we know of the Glover family reveals that they were deported to Barbados from Ireland by Oliver Cromwell, where they did forced labor. Somehow, Goody Glover's husband managed (we don't know how) to move the couple from Barbados to Boston, where the family lived in what's now the North End. America as refuge and trap.
negothick: (Charlotte)
More like "Gothic World," I suppose.
I just received a letter with the enticing words "You are invited to enjoy a complimentary meal." Inside, the details. It's "a seminar with a complimentary meal"--but the come-on is not "learn about our time-share" or "our retirement community." No, it's a much more pemanent change of address that's on offer: a "pre-planning seminar" for "your final arrangements and memorial service."

And where is this exciting event to be held? In the same banquet room where our Chelsea Players cabarets have been staged--and where I will be presenting the World War II home front cabaret this summer. The undertakers who are, um, undertaking this new promotion are also all-too-well-known to me. I thought I might have received the invitation because of my work with the cemetery association and burial society, but no--it's been bulk-mailed to the town.

I can just hear Sir Terry's Death now: THERE'S NEVER A FREE LUNCH.
negothick: (Charlotte)
The only bright spot in this week of winter's wrath returning is that I'm not shlepping to Florida to visit DisneyWorld. Old friends who ARE dedicated disciples of the Rat God are there right now, posting on Facebook. They loved the "Outdoor Kitchens"" in EPCOT which I dismissed so scornfully last year in this entry

Sure enough, they praised the seared scallops and pork tenderloins from those food kiosks (I ask you, how do these food items demonstrate gardens and local produce?). Here's my reply:

Ah, memories. I was at the EPCOT Flower and Garden show last year at about this time, and I, too, visited the kiosks. As your posting notes, they were all, all about the meat and the booze. I couldn't find a vegan item anywhere, though they were supposed to be showcasing the fruits and veggies grown locally. I finally had a meltdown and confronted one kiosk worker who was dumping fresh melon into a blender for daiquiris. "Just give me a bowl of watermelon!" "It's not on our menu." "Back away from the blender. Give me that watermelon and nobody gets hurt!" (well, OK, I didn't exactly say that, though I wanted to, but I was angry enough that a few minutes later I was eating watermelon).
negothick: (Charlotte)

I've spent three hours each morning this week playing the piano along with my dear friend and musical partner Roz accompanying the All-City Elementary School Chorus. This evening is the concert. The selections are not, perhaps, what I would have chosen, but the kids prefer the current pop numbers "Home" (with its endlessly repeated chorus of "ooo oooo oooo ooo ooo ooo ooo" etc.) and "Flashlight" (from Pitch Perfect 2). I've now been thoroughly earwormed by these two numbers.

But the kids have been a delight to work with--their pitch is generally good, and they're fast learners--few can read the music, but they listen to recordings and memorize quickly. They don't always watch the conductor, so entrances and cut-offs are ragged, but these are flaws of many adult musicians I've worked with. And really, their manners are excellent--no divas, a nice change!

Mainly fourth and fifth-graders, so they're not glued to phones--I've been told that the junior high-school chorus can't be separated from theirs. And the boys' voices (in the minority, probably 20% of the 125) are not yet changed.

But these are the best singers from each school--I shudder to think of what the remainder of the classes must be like, the ones who hate singing and have no problem expressing that hatred. My admiration for the music teachers is unbounded--I couldn't have done their job. I did one stint as a long-term sub nearly 40 years ago and knew it was not for me. . .

negothick: (Charlotte)
Since January, there have been waves of apparently robo-called bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers around the US. So far, all have been hoaxes. Occasionally, recipients thought they detected actual humans making the threats, but it doesn't seem as though anyone has been arrested. After each of those threats, pictures showed the same sad subjects, children pulled out of swimming pools, daycare centers evacuated, with infants pushed along in labelled "evacuation cribs" out into the winter cold. I wondered each time whether the haters knew that JCCs are open to all in the community, or that (at least in Connecticut), the childrens' programs and daycare centers were utilized predominantly by non-Jews.

Today, in addition to a wave of JCC bomb threats, a bomb threat was called into a Hebrew High School.

The haters are learning. . .here their targets would be mainly Jews, perhaps a few non-Jewish teachers. It's only a matter of time before we have the metal detectors at synagogues that are standard operating procedure in France today.
negothick: (Charlotte)
As the Washington Post put it, blandly:

"Well that was interesting. Warren Beatty seemed like he was just joking around when he took so long to read the best picture winner. It turns out, he was just confused because he had pulled the envelope for best actress (Emma Stone in “La La Land”). When he handed the card to Faye Dunaway, she announced “La La Land” as the winner, even though “Moonlight” was the real victor."

Conspiracy theories already abound. One claims that it was a last-minute coup by insurgents, triggered by one of the La La Land acceptance speakers mentioning his "Blue-eyed wife." Another that Beatty was given the wrong envelope deliberately to make him look bad.

He DID look confused, as did Dunaway--but to my eyes, they looked that way from the moment they walked toward the mic. And they're not that old: "ONLY" 79 (Beatty) and 76 (Dunaway). The latter (to my eyes again, without conspiracy theories) couldn't have read any card without glasses--she barely glanced at it.

Was there ever such an Oscar mess?
negothick: (Charlotte)

At noon I'll be speaking to the local Rotary Club, so thought I'd warm up by spreading the news right here.

The subject--which I may have mentioned before--is the project I'm chairing in April, Latinos in the Arts month at the Norwich Arts Center, (NAC), part of the New Visions and Voices initiative that will shine a light on people in our community and Southeastern Connecticut who have not been prominent in the 30-year history of this organization. It was my idea, so my reward has been to see it through. [this part will probably not be included. . .we've had enough of the brainstorming sessions IRL and online that go "wow, it would be nice if someone would.. ." or "they really need to do X,Y,Z"--every benevolent organization with a cause from political to environmental to artistic gets the same helpful suggestions without the volunteers to make them happen]

Our mission since 1987 has been to bring the arts--visual and performing--as affordably as possible to as diverse an audience as possible. My personal mission as founding president was to bring the many squabbling arts organizations in the area together. I can say that we've done pretty well at the first mission, but failed at the second--until the past few years, where I've been able to broker peace deals, mainly by dint of being a Board member or an officer in several different groups. Last year, the torch was lifted from my tired hands by the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition, a state arts agency, which has succeeded in uniting venues and groups from throughout the region just in time for the forthcoming dissolution of the National Endowment for the Arts. . .but thanks to their leadership, we may have a chance of hanging together, rather than separately.

So, what is this initiative? A simple idea, really--devoting a full month of events at the Center and in the Otis Library to ethnic groups. My original idea was "to more recent immigrant groups in Norwich," but the more politically savvy officers and Board members of NAC softened that language to "specific cultural and ethnic groups within our community." In fact, though, the first two months, April and October, spotlight Latinos and Asians, who are the most recent immigrant groups, thanks to the largest local employers, the two Indian casinos Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

It's sheer good luck that I know some brilliant Latino writers, several of whom will be the center of a festive event, Our Stories/ Nuestras Historias on April 29. Carlos Hernandez, who just wowed the audience of Medusa Mia! with his poem about his Santeria Abuela, who once sent a giant rooster after her no-good husband, will repeat that triumph. My former colleague Jose Gonzalez from the Coast Guard Academy will share poems from his collection Toys Made of Rock about his journey from El Salvador to Professor of English. These poets and others will pay homage to Bessy Reyna, poet,  attorney, journalist and mentor to a generation of Latino/a poets in Connecticut.

I'm hoping that the flyer for the month will help the audience more than my words--I will attempt to upload a photo--since creating this picture we've made a few corrections and additions, but this captures the spirit--I hope.

negothick: (Charlotte)
As [ profile] nineweaving will tell you, that headline is about as unlikely as [ profile] negothick wins Olympic medal. Nevertheless, it is not an alternative fact. It is the truth.

The odds were somewhat in my favor: it was a contest for vegetarian chili at Temple Bnai Israel. There were only 6 entries, and it was decided by popular vote. Only two of the cooks were themselves vegetarians, which gave us a certain advantage. My chili was quite flavorful, if I do say so myself--and it was among the mildest, too. A two-year-old in attendance fell in love with it, as did his mom, who kept bringing him over so he could hold out his little cup for more. I wish I had a picture. The secret might have been the mole spices, cocoa powder and cinnamon, especially the bit of cinnamon I sprinked in at the end that perfumed the air.

I doubt that this marks my entrance into the world of cooking contests, but it was fun! Next year, I'm thinking roasted veggies in the chili.
negothick: (Charlotte)

Keen readers of this journal may remember my struggles with the Historic Shower in my 50s-era bathroom, culminating in the closing of that shower and the addition of a telephone showerhead to the Green Tub with flamingo tile.

The matching Green Toilet has been in distress for some time, so I've been avoiding its use, reserving it for guests. Finally, though, the chain snapped. And the flapper valve cracked, making it impossible for anyone to use this toilet. Today, the plumber arrived. Luckily, the innards of this toilet are not 62 years old, since it had a transplant, oh maybe 20 years ago. Unlike the Shower, the Green Toilet could be repaired--and it was. It only cost part of an arm and a leg, but I'm hoping to get another 20 years out of it. It's not only Historic but unusually comfy.

negothick: (Charlotte)
I've got lentil soup simmering on the stove, perfuming the house. Another day inside.
negothick: (Charlotte)
Just saw my first commercial for hospice. Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut, on commercial TV, not underwriting of public TV. A husband and wife, walking on a beach, eating a meal. Wife's voice-over "I'm so glad I called hospice earlier, not later. It gave us more time together as a couple."

I don't know--it's not like hospice has competitors for end-of-life care, other than, I suppose, no care at all. . .
Why should they be looking for customers?
negothick: (Charlotte)

Weird coincidence just now. I had turned on the radio, looking for a weather update, and got NPR's story-telling program "Snap Judgment"--almost immediately, I heard a voice that sounded distantly familiar, something about the cadence, the word choice. The story she was telling began in a social services office in Oregon, meeting a man, love at first sight. Nothing I could recognize--until suddenly, she said "I told him 'I have to tell you something. I'm a fugitive.'"

--It's Kathy Power! And so it was. My most infamous Brandeis classmate, stage manager for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, close friend of a casual friend of mine--and member of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List!

All that came out in her story, a brief, factual account of how she became a guerilla warrior while working on the Student Strike, the bank robbery where the police officer was shot, and where she was the getaway car driver, her 23 years on the run, her surrender to the FBI. She didn't talk much about the prison time, which she covers in a 2013 memoir.
Katherine A. Power. Doing Time: Papers from Framingham Prison

Now I really didn't hear her voice that much, 46-7 years ago, so maybe thesubliminal recognition came from one of the many interviews she did while promoting the memoir, but who knows? That stage manager calling "Places" in the fall of 1969, that quiet woman at bull sessions in the dorm, occasionally speaking out. . .that could have lodged in my memory.
negothick: (Charlotte)
This is how I feel about today's Nor'easter

negothick: (Charlotte)

I said no to a gig today, one step to being less over-committed. Of course, in my contrary way, I said "no, thank you" to one that would have paid--at least a token amount--once a onth for 5 months.

For keen readers of this journal, the gig would have been a third season of the SF/ F library discussion group. I thought the library wouldn't want to continue paying me, given that in the second season
1. attendance got smaller and smaller each time
2. the most most faithful attendees were not even CT library card-holders
3. the last meeting had only four people (myself included)

But no--turns out the library was counting on me to do this again. Today, the reference librarian sent a list of recommended titles from the one group participant who was actually a local library patron. I remember her mainly because she rarely commented, and when she did, she usually didn't care for the titles I (and some of you!) had chosen.

I'm still quivering from the list SHE had recommended. I hadn't read any of them, though I had at least heard the name Lavie Tidhar, whose Central Station   looks worth reading.
The others were either YA, romance, or both. I didn't even know that "spaceship romance" was an established sub-genre, though I suppose some Star Trek episodes might qualify, as would much fanfic.  I dutifully looked at their descriptions on amazon  and decided I couldn't stand reading any of them, let alone spending an hour talking about them.

And yet the library had copies of all of them (unlike many of the titles I had chosen).

I urged the librarian to turn this group into a peer-led (i.e. non-paying) gig, and see how things went. Let the list-holder choose one of her recs and start from there. The librarian agreed. I'm out of a job, and so thrilled that I don't have to read the adventures of Nurse Betty in space and its sequels.

negothick: (Charlotte)
And Margaret Atwood, her wonderful poem on February, with its skewered heart in the centre:

Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.
Margaret Atwood, “February” from Morning in the Burned House. Copyright © 1995 by Margaret Atwood. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
negothick: (Charlotte)

In Stop and Shop, stocking up along with other panicky residents for the current snowstorm--which already looks like more accumulation than the lower end of the 1-3 inch afternoon forecast--I met an acquaintance I hadn't seen in a while. Many years ago, I taught her daughter in Hebrew High School, and so interested her in Medieval Jewish history and Medieval literature that she made that her college and grad school major. For several years, her mother wasn't happy with me, since that daughter had joined the unemployable ranks of Medievalists--but she got into college administration, is doing just fine. She made the mistake of asking me whether I was doing any performing, and what cultural events were happening locally.

As an old fannish musical tag line puts it "You had to ask. . ."
Rather than delay the panic buying, I got her email address, put some suggestions together for her in an email, then realized that I hadn't mentioned every one of my projects (all strictly volunteer and unpaid, I hasten to add).

And since almost all of you are out of easy driving range, I'll do you a favor and refrain from listing them here. If anyone is interested, feel free to comment or otherwise inquire.

negothick: (Charlotte)
Only it's just Trump, not an asteroid causing the disruption. We connoisseurs of bad disaster movies (a solecism) laugh at how rapidly the world changes after the inciting incident (plague, approaching asteroid, zombies). I always thought it was necessary for the plot to have (as in The Day After Tomorrow) climate change happen in three weeks.

But the scales are dropping from my eyes: Trump has managed to screw things up in one week. Heck, in one day--Saturday--airports in  chaos, universities losing their international students, families divided, terrorist recruiting soaring, and China pointing missiles in our direction. Every day the news is worse. 
negothick: (Charlotte)
A worthwhile analogy, from Facebook, worthy of cogitation:


As my friend Chris Spurgeon points out today (in his always-insightful Laws of the Universe blog if we can increase the Resistance against Trump, his Current rate of progress will decrease. That would force him to turn up the Voltage of his narcissism, ego, and carping to the press, which could eventually burn out his circuits.


The Scientists March on Washington is in the planning stages--which according to this site had begun before the recent gag orders and Twitter battles over climate change. Right now, it's a Facebook group and a website, no date yet selected, but the women's marches started that way and spread all over the world.
Their manifesto is pretty short--and states what ought to be self-evident.
"There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. The diversity of life arose by evolution."

They ought to have started with "The Earth has no corners" and "There is no Planet B."

Check it out: 1984 is Amazon's #1 best-seller. For the moment, it's still being categorized as "fiction." This may change.

negothick: (Charlotte)

My favorite meta-sign of the many whose pics I saw posted on Facebook, this one, which looked like an old-style blackboard, edged in pink, and in chalk paint:

Look at all the correctly-spelled signs

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