Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Salvation Army Donation

Right. So, full disclosure: I am a Christian. More accurately, I am a follower of Christ's teachings and believe that Jesus was, as John Fugelsang puts it here, was arguably the most liberal guy ever, who, if he came back today, "wouldn't be heard over the sound of Christians calling him a socialist."

I was struck by a post by my friend, Michael, expressing his frustration in seeing the Salvation Army, an evangelical organization, on every corner around the holidays as a constant reminder of the organization's actions to limit the rights of the LGBTQ community.  If this is news to you, John Aravosis wrote a comprehensive post in 2012 about it here.

As with any discriminatory action, my heart breaks not only to see this agenda but also to hear the effects of the regular reminder of it to a direct recipient of that bigotry. It occurs to me that this must be like having to regularly interact with an abuser or someone who has assaulted you that hasn't been convicted of their crime because someone deemed it wasn't violent enough to warrant action.

Another friend of mine came up with the brilliant idea of putting these in the Salvation Army donation buckets instead of cash, and I'm shoplifting it. Thank you, Carla!

Here you go, a link to a pdf of the below. Print, cut, hand out. And happy holidays.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Disabled Student Left on Outskirts at Concert

{CORRECTION - Since Alex's last name was not published in his mother's writings or the interview referred to, I wrongly assumed they shared a last name. His correct full name is Alex Pollard - I've changed it in the post throughout. My apologies for the misinformation. I will write an email to the administrators below explaining my confusion and correcting the info...no need to do it yourself if you've already written in. 4/6/12 9:48pm EST}

I'm beside myself.

I grew up singing and playing the French horn and trombone (hot). Being in choir gave me scads of confidence and joy. Band taught me how to read music and let me literally blow off steam. These were two things in the insanity of middle school that were a constant source of fun and relaxation. Not only is music important in brain development (as encapsulated in this review of Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks on Save The Artist) it is a limitless landscape for the heart and mind...especially those who might be limited in other ways.

 From grade school through high school in Montana my teachers Jackie Perry, MJ Linne, Dean Peterson, Carl Smart, and John Combs were all remarkably patient (okay, they were saints, cmon, kids making music?!) and nurturing with totally appropriate balances of discipline and allowing us to be, well, kids.

Being a musician growing up was a major factor in choosing to pursue a career in the arts and, more importantly, why I am a confident, creative, grounded person today. 

A friend of mine on Facebook shared the photo below, originally posted by Mom-troversial on Wednesday, April 4th. It shows young Alex Pollard, a sixth grader at Cooper Middle School in Austell, GA , being sidelined during the singing of two songs at a choir concert.

His mother, Arla Jan Wilson, wrote: "As Mr. [Grevstad] directed the children into position, Alex waited patiently on the sideline to be positioned with the rest of the group. All of this took about five minutes. As the chorus began to sing I realized that Alex would not be placed with the others. The picture that you see was taken after the first song was over and the second began, I assure you Alex was in that location the entire time his class performed." Ms. Wilson has started a page dedicated to this issue where she has explained the situation in detail. And Duffie Dixon, the reporter from Cobb County's NBC 11, did a wonderful report here.

That a child would be excluded in ANY way from a middle school choir experience (c’mon, we all had that tone deaf kid sitting behind us singing The Rainbow Connection with all his heart, and he had every right to be there!) but especially because he does not fit the physical ‘norm’ of the others in the group is reprehensible. One of my high school classmates was in a wheelchair and was in choir with me for, I believe, all four years. He was never treated like this.

It is clear from the TV story and Ms. Wilson's writing that this choir director is being negligent or even actively exclusionary. Not only is he denying responsibility and saying that a student aide should have brought him over, Ms. Wilson writes that "for the previous concert (which was also to be graded), the children lined up on the risers as normal and Alex was positioned out of sight behind the piano accompanist." [emphasis mine]

Cooper Middle Schools Mission, Vision, and Beliefs statement purports "to promote respect, foster individual responsibility, inspire academic, artistic and physical excellence, encourage creativity and resourcefulness, and enhance self-esteem." This treatment does not seem to be in line with any of that. Alex dutifully sang along from the edge of the risers in both songs.

It's time to write some emails, y'all. This is the county in Georgia that my amazing mother was raised in. I'm about to go Southern Belle on their asses (as only my mother could have taught me!).

You could write a letter, but I'm going to suggest you move a little faster and write an email to these people:

Principal Dr. Vanessa C. Watkins: Vanessa.Watkins@cobbk12.org
Deputy Superintendent of Leadership and Learning, Alice Stouder, Alice.Stouder@cobbk12.org
Area Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Angela Huff, angela.huff@cobbk12.org
Director of Special Education, Susan Christensen, Susan.Christensen@cobbk12.org 

Please be respectful in your communications. If you need a template to start with (or just plain copy), see the below.

Dear Dr. Watkins, Ms. Stouder, Dr. Huff, and Ms. Christensen -

I write you today to express my concern for the treatment of Alex Pollard at a recent choir concert where he was stranded at the side of the risers as his classmates were in the center. For Lars Grevstad not to place Alex with the rest of the choir and then to blame it on "a student aide" who was to be responsible for helping Alex is unacceptable.  There are numerous solutions to this hurtful and damaging situation which instantly occur: moving the choir to one side of the risers or taking a moment to help Alex to the center, for example.

This event and the fact that Alex has been placed behind the piano, according to his mother's reports, for two other concerts, make it clear the Mr. Grevstad is unfit to be an educator.  I urge you to to reconsider his position or take serious, disciplinary action; a letter of reprimand and/or sensitivity training is not a strong enough reaction to this situation. The example he has set for the audience, the other children in the choir, and your school is one of prejudice, negligence, and insensitivity. 

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

[Sign your name here]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Packing avoidance

Right, so I'm in the process of packing for subzero weather and need a quick break. Trying to remember that I'm really going to be wearing the same jeans and fleece the entire time and not overpack. Wish me luck on that!

So, I stopped by Ann Taylor and got 2 items at a ridiculous 60% off. Thanks, recession! One is a cute sweater dress and I really need a slip for it. I went to the Kohl's website to see what they had and this was it:

Does this mannequin need to stop doing so many chest presses, or is it just me? It's not like she's bowed in because of the weight of her tremendous bosom, or anything. Is she malnourished? Is that the problem? Maybe she's overwhelmed by the plainness of this slip...would it have broken the bank to add some lace? I have a feeling it feels like being wrapped in a cheap, waterproof slicker. (heh, I said 'slicker')

I'll keep looking.

Back to packing.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Watch this

My awesome sister has written, produced, and posted an hysterical short on Funny or Die. If you have kids and can't remember what it's like to have a moment alone, you'll love this. OR if you're like me and all your friends have kids, ditto.

Watch this!

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

2nd Horseman

There are often really creepy applications or ads that pop up on Facebook, but this one takes the cake.

We're in so much trouble.

Has anyone else seen this application? http://www.new.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=38703062348

"Create your Mr. Right: Why look for Mr. Right when you can make him yourself? Design your Mr. Right now and start your virtual relationship." If you click on the application, it takes you to this page:

And He's STARING at me...staring! Like the creepy droid that He is, with His big feet and...baguette? You can buy yourself gifts that 'he's' giving you? Listen, the only reason He's buying you chocolates is so He can hide sleeping pills in them so you won't hear Him slip out to meet His male lover(s) in the middle of the night. Every night. For always.


Wow. If you aren't single, I don't imagine this is popping up in your feed, but it sure is in mine. I feel like this represents all that is wrong in the social world. Why bother going out to meet men when you can just create a two-dimensional, anime-esque 'boy' to...look at? To write copy for? Could 'he' be more disturbingly androgynous or child-like? Probably. He could be Goofus or Gallant, the charming duo from Highlights magazine...no, they'd be better. Actually, Goofus is pretty butch, maybe I need to 'date' him...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Towels! That's right, towels.

I think I've found The Perfect Towel.

Do you have those things you're super finicky about? There are some things I could care less about, clothes, for example. If it's $0.99, sort of fits, and serves a purpose, I'll wear it until it it falls off my body. I'm not a fashionista. Don't get me wrong, I have some great pieces, too, but if something doesn't fit perfectly, I'll still wear it.

Towels can make me crazy. If it's too soft and doesn't absorb anything, leaves huge amounts of lint that pills up when I apply lotions, is too small to wrap around my, ahem, non-petite frame, or snags on a hangnail and unravels...irritating.

Recently, after realizing I really needed to upgrade some things to make my apartment more fit for massage clients, I decided to get new towels for the bathroom. Now, standing in the towel department of Bed, Bath and Beyond, is my version of hell. Talk about sensory overload! Add the fact that, in Manhattan, you are literally hundreds of feet underground, no outside world ascertainable, looking up at a wall of towels. Blegh.

Also, I'm a Libra, I can't make this kind of decision. Give me two choices, even three, I might be able to choose something in under an hour. Maybe. Faced with an infinite number of price points, types of cotton, colors, sizes, looks...come on.

After a lovely customer gal noticed my glazed look and helped me, I bought a few of these Wamsutta Hotel Towels. After using them for a day, I went back and got a full set. Thick but absorbent, very little lint (and I haven't washed them yet), great weave that looks and feels high quality.

Go get 'em.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm ba-ack

So, I had all these plans to blog my ass off while in Colorado on my summer gig. I was partially so disappointed by the town (not in the mountains, air pervaded with eau de derriere du vache, terrible paycheck shenanigans, all sorts of professional merde) that I couldn't bring myself to write about it. Then, after a time, my computer got stolen out of my locked room in housing.

I will describe my experience in a nutshell: I have been hit over the head, about the neck, and smacked on various extremities with the ruler of wake-up-and-smell-the-last-time-you-work-at-this-level-dodohead. I have several girlfriends who are instructed to punch me full in the face if I start to hem and haw about taking more work like this.

I did get the chance to play an amazing role I will play roughly 40 more times in my life for the first time, made some wonderful new friends who will be on Broadway in a matter of years, and be close enough to my family to make a much needed trip home. Yay that...and scene.

Soooo, I'm back in The City. Today, I jumped back into things by being a reader for a Broadway workshop. I'm the person people act with when they come in to audition. In this case it was a musical, so people come in and sing one or two songs, then do sides (portions of the script) for the character they're auditioning for. I read the other character(s) in those scenes, usually while sitting in a chair. Often I'm playing up to 3 different people in the scene, male and female. My job is to give the actor something to work with, be as present as possible, and make them look really good.

There are many wonderful things about this gig. First of all, it's like an audition workshop. Even when it's not everyone on Broadway coming in, like in this audition today, I witness some fascinating behavior, see some great pieces (which I totally write down and use), and remember that no matter how talented you are, you still have to bring it when you're in the room. This is a musical, fairly broad although it still has some good meat to it. They were asking people auditioning for ensemble to bring in a short, comic monologue in addition to the two songs they ask everyone for. One guy came in with two dark songs (even the up-tempo! I wish I could remember what it was, but it's hard to find an angry up-tempo) and his monologue was even more so. After he left, the book writer deadpanned, "I can't imagine a better monologue choice for a musical comedy."

Another woman sang a really cute up-tempo and the director asked what it was from. She told him and he asked who had written it. "I'm so bad," she said, "I just can't remember!" She had probably gotten the song from the actual score of the show, so the composer and lyricist weren't listed at the top.

"I wrote it." The book writer said from behind the table.

Ho. Ly. Shit.

Now, luckily, it was low-key room, fairly good spirits, all egos stealthily cloaked. He wasn't pissed or making a point, just stating a fact. The poor actress handled it well and even sang another song but, seriously, I died a little.

Second, it's a great reminder that even if you're fantastic, sometimes you're just not right for the show or role. The lead role in this show is a nebbishy, Woody Allen type, except translate that to musical theatre. One man came in, I'll call him the Jewish Clark Kent, gorgeous black hair with, seriously, a curl on his forehead, great horn-rimmed glasses, khakis and a button-down. The kind of guy you knew was ripped underneath his Arrow shirt. He had a great voice, was a great actor, but was too serious and understated. A legendary film actor, who was in the original movie the show is based on, came in and was brilliant, but may not end up being as broad as they want. Totally honest and amazing, but not it.

[I just remembered something else. The director regularly asked people about their special skills. One guy had "Yanni-esque" piano playing listed, for example. Well, Jewish CK had "Old English pronunciation" down. Damned if he didn't give the first 4 lines of Canterbury Tales in a perfect, Old-e English-e accent. Of course, his rendition was somehow romantic and hot, unlike the priggish hilarity of my junior English teacher - the same teacher I talk about here. I did get a little hysterical but managed not to embarass myself or anyone else. JCK also listed Greek pronunciation, explaining that he had to choose between acting or linguistics. He sure chose the more lucrative career... Mind you, the director's sister is the head of the Medieval Literature Department at the University of Edinburgh. Do. Not. Lie. On. Your. Resume.]

Third, you experience some amazing stuff you would never see anywhere else. A huge Broadway star rocked an R.E.M. song that no-one else would have done. Another Broadway regular did an amazing up-tempo where he did cartwheels made other choices no one else could have pulled off. One guy sang a song called "Marry Me" directly to me. One man sang a Maury Yeston song and, at the end, the door to the hallway opened and Maury Yeston poked his head in. "I just heard my song being sung so beautifully and I had to see who it was!" He was down the hall having a meeting and happened to pass by. "I'd have to say that's a first." The auditioner said after the composer left.

Fourth, I have a 6-hour audition for something I would never, ever get seen for right now. I just don't have the credits. I get to play 4 characters, and do some fabulous back acting, since I'm sitting front of the team. At the end of the day they asked me to sing. I rocked it. Correction, the pianist rocked it because I didn't have my book because I'm a complete spaz. I never, ever go to one of these without my book of audition songs, I just spaced it. I did have a headshot but a lot of good that does me. So the pianist asked what I wanted to sing and just played it with me. Now, my second one was a standard, but the first was not. I marked through it and she just followed when I sang it (a good 7th below where I normally do, but whatevs). Un-freakin-believable.

So, I'm back.