Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinco de Mayo/Kentucky Derby Day

I had no idea the Kentucky Derby was today--but that just means I know as little about horse racing as I do about every other sport. But after visiting the official Kentucky Derby web site, I now know what's actually *in* a Mint Julep. I've never had one, but evoked the image of some sort of frothy blender drink. Possibly green. Um, no...

The Early Times Mint Julep Recipe

* 2 cups sugar
* 2 cups water
* Sprigs of fresh mint
* Crushed ice
* Early Times Kentucky Whisky
* Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
And today is Cinco de Mayo, which I also don't know a whole heck of a lot about, except that it gets the Pico de Gallo song by Trout Fishing in America in my head.

Except, having just visited their videos page, My Hair Had a Party Last Night has taken that song's place as the tune playing in my head over and over and over again.

Unrelated to Cinco de Mayo or the Kentucky Derby, but something I wanted to be sure to mention on the front page that I have added a widget for the Pretty Bird Woman House shelter fundraiser. Click here to read about the battered women's shelter in South Dakota and efforts to save it.

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Pajama Party with Hillary

Originally posted at the Independent Bloggers' Alliance. Bringing it here this morning because I thought it would be preferable to another open thread quite so soon. (Today is, incidentally, the last Saturday I will be working for a while.)

The other night on Daily Show, I saw a clip of Hillary Clinton's appearance on The Insider.

Hillary: Those are the greatest shoes!

Host: I got them on super sale at Sax.

Hillary: Boy do they look fabulous!
Hillary: I am the woman on more diets that don't last. ... Ration your chocolate so you don't go overboard...
Omigod! I totally want to have a pajama party with her! We can talk about boys, and share secrets, and do each other's hair...

In all fairness, I didn't see the whole interview. Nor am I likely to, so I'll just allow that it's possible the interview also contained some non-gag-inducing moments. But from what I saw there, I've got to think this was part of an attempt on HRC's part to connect with voters as "one of the girls".

And maybe that was an effective way to connect with some women--but it sure doesn't work for me. I haven't worn high heels in almost a decade. I do *not* use the word diet, as I am trying to raise my daughter to see a balanced, sane view of eating and exercise as the norm--rather than *expecting* to forever be on diets.

Oh, and Hill--you know what would really help me connect with you as a woman?

You not acting like such a freaking hawk! That's something that matters to me as a a mother. One who is trying to help teach the next generation that there are better ways to solve problems than with violence and threats. And, as much as it would be nice to finally have a woman president, I'm willing to hold out a little longer until we can have one who shares those values.
But I loved Jon Stewart's response to the clip...

Jon: Oh my God--Hillary Clinton is running as Cathy.

I guess that explains her new slogan: Aack!

"I can't put on a bikini--AACK!"

"Oh my God, we've been attacked by Syria--AACK!"

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Kicking the "war on terror" habit

I saw this headline a couple days ago while on a break at work, but didn't get a chance to look for the story until now. Thought this was worth sharing--from Time Magazine...

Edwards rejects the "War on Terror"

At last month's Democrat (sic) debate in South Carolina, moderator Brian Williams asked the eight candidates: "Show of hands question: Do you believe there is such a thing as a global war on terror?"

Senator Hillary Clinton's hand shot up. After hesitating noticeably, Senator Barack Obama joined her. Edwards did not, even though he has used the phrase himself and a policy paper on his Web site refers to "winning the war on terror." And now, in his first interview to explain his turnabout, Edwards tells TIME that he will no longer use what he views as "a Bush-created political phrase."

It's about bloody time. More like this, please, Dems? 'K thanx.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Open Thread

Seemed like about time for a new thread.

Some new story links in my shared items here.


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Predatory Payday Lending

That's the issue that B.R.E.A.D. (our local church based social justice group) is taking on at next week's meeting. According to George, our rector, this is the first issue the group has taken on where there are actually lobbyists working against us.

Unfortunately, because I'm working these 10-hour days this week, I don't have time to research and put together a good post about the issue. Hopefully George will find the time to e-mail me the sermon he gave about this issue a couple weeks ago, because that was a good summary of what we're dealing with, and why it's important.

In the meantime, the Wikipedia page on payday loans has a good overview of some of the controversy around these businesses. There is also an overview on the Center for Responsible Lending web site and more information at Policy Matters Ohio.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

From the candidates

Originally posted at the Independent Bloggers' Alliance

These links provided as a public service, because you shouldn't have to shop at Blogmart to hear from the candidates.

From the Obama campaign, by Joe Rospars: Our MySpace Experiment

From the Edwards' campaign, Watch the ad: We the people by Tracy Russo

From Fight the veto

He's not a candidate? We'll see. He certainly seems to be acting like one...

Please feel free to e-mail me at ohiorenee(at) if you see a post on a candidate blog that might be of general interest. A lot of us are not ready to support a candidate just yet, and don't care to be added to yet another mailing list, but, as politically active and aware citizens, would like to be kept up to date nonetheless.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The "main thing"

Originally posted at My Left Wing on Sunday, and I would have posted it here too, but we really didn't need a new thread at the time. And then I got kind of busy and it slipped my mind. But I still think it's worth sharing, so here you go...

The other day, as planned, I attended the ordination and consecration of Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal. Well, I didn't attend all of it--sort of left at "half-time". But I was there to see them "do the deed", as it were. Having attended the youth event, where Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was a special guest, the night before, I didn't really think I needed a whole ordination on top of that. Bottom line, I was tired, and I needed some "sabbath" in my weekend.

But I stayed long enough to hear the sermon, and that's been on my mind today as I think about the goings-on in this corner of blogtopia. In particular, Rev. Epting talked about the tension that sometimes exists between doing justice and maintaining unity. Sometimes those principles seem to be at odds with each other, but they are both part of the vows our new bishop was about to take--and they're part of the baptismal vows of all Episcopalians as well.

Now, I know that we vary here in our beliefs, and it's sometimes a challenge to convey the essence of some truth without the actual words I choose managing to obscure my meaning. But there are some commonalities that I think go beyond labels--at least the labels we're used to using. Maryscott, for example, does not describe herself as a person of faith, while I do. And yet, there is something we have in common. You know what I think it is? I think it's that we're both "believers". We don't believe in all of the same things, but we believe in something, and that something is more important to us than just "winning elections". So, I'd like to share an excerpt from the sermon
The important thing to remember, my dear brother Tom, and my dear sisters and brothers, is to try to keep the main thing the main thing. Try to keep the main thing the main thing in the midst of all our busyness and our confusion and even sometimes our near-despair, nothing must get in the way--
Okay, that wasn't the best place to cut that sentence, but it got pretty explicitly Episcopalian at the end of that sentence, and I didn't want those words to become the focus. Rather, I wanted to point out the similar struggle we sometimes deal with--in fact, we could pretty much use the same words. From the sermon:
We often hear said, "You're sacrificing justice for unity!"
Hmm...yes. I have heard something like that--but not just in the church. We've also struggled with this issue in the world of political activism. Calls for "unity" are sometimes used in an attempt to silence any criticism of the current Democratic leaders. Yet we often feel that we must make these criticisms when we see that someone or some group is being denied justice.

Tonight, I don't really have a conclusion, but wanted to put this out there for reflection. What is the "main thing" for you? And how do you keep from being sidetracked by petty crap, or from getting too discouraged?

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It's May!

Click here for Alexandra Lynch's diary about Beltane.

Every time this month rolls around, without fail, I get this song in my head:

It's May! It's May!
The lusty month of May!...
Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes,
Ev'ryone breaks.
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes!
The lusty month of May!

Couldn't find it on YouTube though. Phooey.

Still want some tunes, so I'm going with What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Open Thread

A few odds and ends before I turn in for the night (looks like more overtime this week, by the way).

An article in the Washington Post that gets at, in a nutshell, the reason there was a Take Back the Blog virtual march this weekend.

The sermon from the ordination/consecration I attended this weekend, and my essay at My Left Wing--which was inspired by that sermon and Maryscott O'Connor's banning at Daily Kos.

And finally, an amusing picture courtesy of I can has cheezburger?

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Influence Peddling

A post by Subway

Many years ago, around the time I started performing in the subway, I began an experiment to see if I was able to have any effect. After all, I was playing music in one of the the world's great cities, and thousands of diverse people from all over the world were hearing me every day. In fact, a fellow performer noted to me once that just performing three hours a day downstairs, one could easily be heard by a million people a year.

When I heard this I began to see this street music thing as something that could make a difference. To test my theory, I would close each set when the trains arrived by saying "Have a wonderful day." Several years later, Dan Rather was saying it at the end of his nightly newscast. I have no way of knowing how the phrase made it that far up the food chain, but I was floored when I heard him say it.

My work often has me in diverse parts of New York City. From the financial district of Wall Street, to as far North as East 96th St in Manhattan, and as far south as Park Slope and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. Prior to 9/11 I performed at least once a week at Prince St in Soho. Many times over the years folks have come up to me and declared that my performance 'made their day' or that I had sung their favorite song just when they needed to hear it.

I'll probably never know the extent of the influence I've had on my audiences over the years. However, while playing with my new Gizmo this week, I discovered that the heart adjusts its rhythms to the tempo of whatever music a person is listening to. I've probably known this on some instinctual level all along, but it was fascinating to see it proven right here on my computer screen, and it affected how I view the work I do. For now I know that just by singing Love songs I've changed the rhythms of millions of hearts from all around the world, if even for a couple of minutes.

When Pope John Paul II visited here and said mass in Central Park, he quoted St. Augustine when he said, "To sing once is to pray twice."

To quote Dan Rather quoting me, "Have a wonderful day!"

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