negothick: (Default)
This is the first year that I'm not shouting hosannas (actually that happens at Sukkot, but whatever. . .) because the 8th day of Passover has just passed into history. Why? Because last year (too late for me to alter my eating plans), the Conservative rabbinate decided that 800 years of custom--not law, but with the force of law--could be set aside. That's how long the Sefardic and Ashkenazic Jewish communities had been divided on whether a certain class of foods called "kitniyot" were chometz or not. That is, could we eat beans, legumes, and pulses--including peanuts, chickpeas, cashews, lentils, rice--during Passover. Those who know me recognize these as the staples of my diet and my major protein source. In past years, I suffered through Passover with a protein deficit and carb overload, feeling bloated and unwell and celebrating the end of the holiday.
This year--wonderful! Homemade hummus! Beans and rice! Various stews with chickpeas! Very little matza--ritual only. I felt great.
Since last summer, I've been avoiding bread and pasta as much as possible, eating them only in situations where there was nothing else I could eat. I've lost weight, and I hope to continue slowly losing it.
The result was that this Passover was no hardship for me: I never craved bread, as I had in past years. Where Facebook has been alight with Friends announcing "Pizza time!" or "Pastrami sandwich" or simply "I can eat bread now!" I've been very happy to eat another batch of beans and rice.
Well, OK, I did kind of miss Cream of Wheat.
negothick: (Default)
Until now, I've been importing every so often from LiveJournal. If LJ continues to diminish, I'll have to get used to posting here. I've only found a few Friends who have "subscribed" to me, and I finally figured out how to "subscribe" to them.

My icon is a Tarasque, my heraldic animal.
negothick: (Charlotte)
Most sources agree that Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk missiles launched against one Syrian airfield. The approximate cost per missile is $1 million. (Such a Bargain!). Buy stock in Raytheon, because they manufacture them.
Seriously, the attack cost (not counting overhead for the ships and crews) about $60 million.  It's hard to get an accurate casualty figure --after all, Syria would naturally want to inflate the number, yet even the Syrians are saying 15 died. That would be approximately $4 million per person killed.

By coincidence, someone drove a hijacked beer truck into a crowd in Stockholm, killing 4 and wounding many. As a former prime minister of Sweden said, "Steal a lorry or a car and then drive it into a crowd. That seems to be the latest terrorist method. Berlin. London. Now Stockholm."

Cost to international organization sponsoring terrorist per person killed. Zero. This wasn't even a suicide bomber, since the driver apparently jumped to safety--at least if that IS the driver they have in custody.
negothick: (Charlotte)
One blue sky above us
One ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round
Who could ask for more
And because I love you
I'll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race
It's too soon to die.   --Pete Seeger

Moving outside my usual mode of apocalypticism, a hopeful entry for a change. My band Klezmenschen played the other night for a local K-5 elementary school's "Multicultural Night." The school is located in the town's poorest neighborhood, where a flood of new immigrants have taken over the houses built for millworkers in the 19th century--but without the jobs or paternalism provided by the long-shuttered mills. Where once the only second language was Canadian French, now it's Haitian Creole. The instructions and introductions by the evening's organizer were repeated by a parent in Creole and another parent in Spanish. These represented the majority of the students. No one attempted Chinese or (for one tiny solemn girl in costume) Tibetan. Parents brought food of their lost homes or generic American--all was happily devoured. Folk dancers performed to recorded music. Troupes of Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Peruvian girls danced choreographed and costumed numbers--really well!, and one brave boy from Brazil danced a solo. Several high school girls from Haiti, graduates of this school, gave us trance-like moves reminiscent of Katherine Dunham's stylized dancing in this video--not surprising, given her research in Haiti.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSTuO5E9_1g


I know it's a cliche, but the children gave me such hope for the future. All so beautiful, eyes so bright; they were the best audience we've had--some getting up from tables and plopping themselves on the gym floor to listen raptly to our music, others spontaneously dancing in circles. Respectfully watching and listening to all the dancers and singers of our rainbow race. They seemed really at ease with their teachers, who knew every child's name and their parents as well. I saw happy faces light up as they greeted the principal--a white man who looked like a child to me, though I assume he's over 30.

Yes, I know it was a special night, and everyone may have been on "best behavior," but it was wonderful while it lasted. It is how America ought to be, nothing to do with the dystopia represented by our current government.
negothick: (Charlotte)
More to come on this, but for now, one word about my hopes for Latinos in the Arts Month:

Univision
negothick: (Charlotte)
For the first time in my career as a theater impresaria, I may have an advance sell-out on my hands. I am presenting a revival of the cabaret show "Live From the Stage Door Canteen: Songs of the Homefront in World War II" on July 30, one public performance only (for reasons I'll explain eventually). My collaborator and co-conspirator Diane and I put together this show in 1999, when many of our audience members were WW II vets or had grown up during that time. Today, except for the nursing home performances, we're less likely to have any vets in the audience.

The reason for one performance? Because Diane will be here visiting for a short time, and because we are using the banquet room of a restaurant which has other demands for its use, Prime 82 in Norwich, CT. It seats 64, and I already have 20 reservations--four months in advance. I may not have to advertise this show, since I can't add another performance.

I've got wonderful singers, a great crew, and a handicapped-accessible venue. Now I have to stop thinking about this show and worry about  Latinos in the Arts Month, etc.
negothick: (Charlotte)
I am proud of seeing the following idea into reality: Norwich Arts Center's New Visions and Voices Initiative--my idea, and so I get to chair the first month, dedicated to Latinos in the Arts. Future months will turn the spotlight on Asians, particularly China (next October); The African-American Experience (April 2018); and Under 30: Voices of the Future (Oct. 2018). Here's April's schedule--http://norwicharts.org/ for location and more information

Norwich Arts Center
presents

New Visions & Voices

A month long celebration of the Latino Culture
in Norwich and the surrounding communities
of South Eastern Connecticut


NAC Gallery 4/6 to 4/30 - Latino Art Juried Show
Opening Reception 4/7 6 p.m., followed by Rufus "Baby Grand" Davis and Latin Jazz Ensemble 8 p.m.
NCC Film 4/8 - "Embrace of the Serpent"
Donald L. Oat Theater on Friday April
29
3:30 to 6:00 - Our Stories / Nuestras Historias
6:00 to 7:00 - Hors d' oeuvres Reception
7:00 - Readings by Award -Winning Latino Authors including Carlos Hernandez. Honoring poet and activist Bessy Reyna

negothick: (Charlotte)
As I've always known, if I want things to happen in the arts around here, I have to do them myself. My resume as volunteer promoter of the arts (as opposed to solo performer) in Eastern Connecticut goes back to high school, when I volunteered at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Today, they have interns who pay for the privilege of sweeping the stage, parking the cars, and running errands for the great. And during the summer season, they have professional actors who accept a pittance for taking the nonspeaking or chorus parts that we stage-struck high-schoolers played. There's no doubt that I reached the pinnacle of my acting career when I stood in the background and chanted on the same stage as Michael Douglas and Brenda Vaccaro (who were an item back then). But mostly, I was a gofer.

Skip blithely over 50 years, and I'm back at the O'Neill Theater Center, this time picking up tablecloths for the literature and food tables for  last Sunday's Performing Arts InterSECT, the showcase of local performing arts groups I was helping to run for the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition. I returned the tablecloths (after laundering them, of course) the other day, where I found eager interns who stopped running the copy machine to retrieve the heavy boxes of linens from my car (age has some privileges. . .). Proud to say that I restrained myself from telling them the story I just forced upon you, dear LJ readers. Ah well, still the handmaid (or laundrymaid) of the arts.

Last night I volunteered at the Norwich Arts Center, of which I was the founding president 30 years ago. In addition to selling tickets and giving out programs for the play Naked Mole Rats in the World of Darkness (don't ask), to which I had no other connection, I gave the toilets a swipe, emptied some disgusting wastebaskets, and wiped down tables. In 2003, I had my CD release party in that same venue, and had to swamp out the same bathrooms because one of the same toilets had overflowed. At that point, I asked myself--and everyone within earshot--"How many other recording artists and record producers had to clean the toilets at their own CD launches?"

What, and leave show business?
negothick: (Charlotte)
Authors are not responsible for their readers, and sometimes the authors wish those readers would go away and not let anyone know who they love to read--Tolkien being an example, given that he referred several times in letters and interviews to his most devoted readers by the title of this entry.

Tolkien was far too genteel to do what Stephen King did--immortalize HIS "Number One Fan" as the nightmarish nurse in Misery, who cuts off her favorite writer's foot with an axe and addicts him to just enough pain pills so that he can continue to write just for her. King has said that her behaviors, both the idolatry and the threats of violence, were based on actual correspondence he received from fans--letters, in those pre-Internet days. Misery was published in 1987, and I can attest to the crazed behavior of King's fans in the 80s--I saw him cornered in a narrow hotel corridor at the 1982 World Fantasy Con in New Haven by a scrum of fans waving books, manuscripts (their own, that is--they even pushed them under the door of his toilet stall!), and random bits of paper for autographs. And this is no urban legend--I actually saw someone hand him a grease-stained Burger King bag. He crossed out "Burger" and wrote "Stephen." I believe that may have been the last World Fantasy Con that he attended.

Back then it was fashionable to call him a "post-literate" writer by those who were critical of both his style and the belief that his fans were incapable of reading anything else. These days, King has [insert really large number] of followers on Twitter (which I don't follow) and about 5 million for his Facebook page (which I do).https://www.facebook.com/OfficialStephenKing/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

Only a few trolls, but mostly millions of panting commenters, no more or less literate than the majority of autocorrected autodidacts on the rest of Facebook. What a world!
negothick: (Charlotte)
Looking for the return of these historic institutions, any day now,
Debt slavery
Pauper auctions
Workhouses
Poor Farms
vigilante posses
lynching

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
http://negothick.livejournal.com/408316.html#comments

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. http://www.wfsb.com/story/34615449/bomb-threat-reported-at-west-hartfod-school-fbi-investigating-incident

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 [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving will tell you, that headline is about as unlikely as [livejournal.com 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.
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