Tag Archives: Tuscaloosa

Spice Up Your Life – Tuscaloosa Chili Cookoff

I can’t believe I’ve lived in Tuscaloosa for nearly 7 years and didn’t know about the annual chili cookoff. Well, this year, I plan to make a big splash.

Today is the 12th annual Asses of Fire chili cookoff, sponsored by WellThat’sCool.com and hosted by Egan’s Bar, located on the Strip. Registration starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 3:45, with judging to begin at 4:15. Now, in my opinion, if you haven’t already made your chili, you’re a bit late for that… though I suppose you might have time to squeeze out a fresh pot before then. I like to let mine sit. I finished cooking my two chilies on Tuesday and am reheating them now to do final taste tests and manipulations. You can enter as many chilies as you like, but can only win once, and I think most that know how I cook chili know which two I’ll be entering… with some slight twists.

Anyway, even if you don’t have a chili to submit for the contest itself, you can still come and partake of the eating of it. Those that submit chili eat for free, but for only $5, you can have all the chili you can eat/all the chili that’s actually there, though chili is a thick, filling food so I don’t expect people to come back for fifths and sixths. Egan’s will also be running drink specials all day… which might be helpful for downing some of the more intensely spicy chilies.

If you’d like to try out some chili or have your own to throw in the pot, come to Egan’s. But be warned… I plan on my chilies doing rather well. Hopefully. …it’d certainly be nice, at least. And I plan on bringing some extra hot sauce if anyone really wants their tongues to be yowling in pain.

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Breaking The Leg – “Coriolanus” By Improbable Fictions

Theatre season in Tuscaloosa is kicking into high gear in February, with several shows opening quite close to one another. I’ll try to see and write about all the shows that I know of, but today, I’m just going to talk about one show I won’t be able to see. Mostly because I’m in it.

Improbable Fictions is putting on a free staged reading of one of Shakespeare’s perhaps lesser known plays, “Coriolanus.” The Facebook event can be found here, and tickets can be reserved on this website. We’re having people get tickets since seating is limited.

“Coriolanus” focuses on a Roman soldier, Caius Martius. Martius is very stubborn and proud, and strongly supports the order of governance: Nobility, via senators and consul, rule the commoners. After a victorious battle in the city of Corioli, won almost single-handedly by Martius, he is given the name Coriolanus to mark his victory. Still, as a soldier and a brash man that refuses to play politics or not speak his mind, Coriolanus finds himself with many enemies.

I like to think of this play as almost in complete opposite to “Hamlet.” In “Hamlet,” Prince Hamlet is fighting conflicts internally throughout the entire show, constantly soliloquizing to the audience and revealing his mind to them. Externally, he often commits to non-action. Coriolanus, on the other hand, very rarely speaks to the audience, closing his mind to them. He is a soldier and fights his wars physically, refusing to even do the sneaky underhanded shadowy games political success requires. He speaks his mind without filter, though the inner thoughts are often closed away.

I really like this play. Not just because I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to play as Coriolanus, my first definitively leading role… I think the play has a surprising amount of emotion attached, surprising because you don’t expect it when it hits you. Politically, it has some interesting ideas presented as well.

Anyway, it’s a totally free show, and I think it’s good to support art when possible. If you’re in Tuscaloosa or Northport, come see us perform “Coriolanus” tonight and tomorrow night at the Kentuck Georgine Clarke Building at 7:30 both nights. Please don’t forget to reserve a ticket, too. I hope to see you there.

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When Can We Talk About Gun Control?

This year, more than any other I can recall, really feels like the year of the gun in America. So many people have died and been injured in high profile mass shootings, with things kicking up heavily in July. Tuscaloosa saw a mass shooting, and then there was about one every week for another month. Even The Onion tried to run a satirical article about how everyone was rejoicing that it had been a week since the nation’s last mass shooting, and mere hours after they posted it, there was a shooting in New York City. Their response? An update to say “Never Mind.”

Just recently, the gun issue was brought back up with a high profile murder-suicide of an NFL player’s girlfriend, committed by Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher. It picked up even more steam when NBC sports broadcaster Bob Costas read from a pro-gun control column about Belcher. And tonight, it’s likely to get another boost of conversation, thanks to a shooting in an Oregon mall, with two dead.

But every time these tragedies occur, we’re told that it’s rude and inconsiderate to talk about gun control. Fox News, for example, just went nuts on Costas. Of course, it’s perfectly alright to stump for lessening gun control soon after a tragedy, like they did on Fox News after the tragedy in Norway.

After all, people that support the Second Amendment to the nearly fanatical point never want to talk about gun control. Because they’re convinced that gun control equals a ban on all guns and the destruction of the Second Amendment. They have painted the opposition as so extreme, they think they know how every conversation will go. And since they don’t want to hear it, they try to play the “cheap” card, the “tragedy” card and keep the conversation muted. A free speech issue, might I add, and people that are fond of the First Amendment are more than happy to have conversations about regulation and why it may or may not be bad, generally speaking. As President Josiah Bartlet from “The West Wing” said on Twitter today, “If we cannot talk about gun control legislation in the aftermath of a tragedy, we will never be able to talk about gun control legislation. Maybe that’s the point.”

In pretty much every single argument I’ve gotten into about why we should try to limit guns or try to regulate them more in some way or another, a few topics always seem to be brought up: Knife deaths, “You can’t stop them all” and self-defense.

See, if I mention just how many gun deaths there are in America compared to somewhere like the United Kingdom where there are far stricter gun laws, they point out how many stabbings there are. If I talk about regulating guns or bullets to attempt to limit the number of homicides, the rebuttal of “Someone willing to kill’s going to find a way. You can kill with [fill in with a far more innocuous weapon here, like piano wire].” And inevitably the idea that we need guns to defend against criminals that have guns gets mentioned.

Well, here’s just a few little nuggets to ponder, not that any proponents of gun rights will listen, because they’ve spent so long trying to get people to stop talking, why bother listening at all? First, yeah, there are a higher number of stabbings in the U.K. than in the U.S. What’s your point, exactly? I’m pretty sure that the percentage doesn’t even come close to the percentage of gun-related homicides in the U.S., so if we could see the percentage drop and become all knife-related, then fine. Second, exactly how many knife-related mass killings are there? How many people can walk into a mall or a church or a school with a knife and slay multiple people before they’re stopped? Third, there was a very recent story about a 7-year-old boy being shot by his father outside of a gun store, accidentally. Exactly how many accidental knife deaths are there every year?

Will gun control eliminate gun violence? Certainly not. Not even close. Would it maybe, just maybe see the number of deaths per year drop, even slightly? It might. So, no, we’re not able to stop it all. People will find ways to kill. But isn’t seeing one less murder enough of a reason to try?

Isn’t the possibility of at least one less gun-related murder, one less death per year enough of a reason to talk about solutions?

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Breaking The Leg – “Godspell” By Theatre Tuscaloosa

I’d like to think that I’m selective with what shows move me to tears. To the best of my remembrance, I’ve only cried during three shows: the University of Alabama’s “Saint Joan” and “Hair,” and now, Theatre Tuscaloosa’s “Godspell.”

What’s interesting is how similar “Hair” and “Godspell” are. Neither has much of a plot, per se, being more of a shared experience between this family-esque group onstage and the audience, though story does crop up at times. Both shows that I saw share two actors, also. So they get the dubious honor of making me cry twice.

“Godspell,” which has four more shows before the end of the run, is a musical by Stephen Schwartz, who also wrote “Seussical” and “A Man of No Importance.” The show is based on the Gospel according to Matthew. As such, Christianity and, more importantly, the philosophies behind the religion are extremely heavily represented throughout the show. If you’ve grown up in church like I have most, if not all, of the stories will be familiar. Even those unfamiliar with Christianity will likely catch onto a few things here and there. But this show is nothing like your average sermon.

In one of the best, most purely ensemble shows I’ve ever seen (to be fair, I think “Hair” is the only other show that even fits that description), only two of the actors represent any characters outside of the prologue. In the prologue, eight of the 10 actors are onstage in school uniforms, sitting at desks. They each sing phrases from specific philosophers and great thinkers, setting the more philosophical tone of the show. After hearing Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Leonardo da Vinci, Edward Gibbon, Frederic Nietzsche, Jeal-Paul Sartre and Buckminster Fuller, John the Baptist (Gerard L. Jones, doubles as Judas) appears, singing “Prepare Ye (The Way of the Lord).” And the show begins in earnest.

The group becomes baptized by John the Baptist. He then talks of the one that will come after him and Jesus (Will Erwin) arrives to be baptized as well. After that’s done, the group returns wearing bright, haphazard colors and clothes, some having done crazy things to their hair, and the teachings of Christ start. The group, akin to the Disciples, acts out and clown around, playing with a huge slide on stage and one another, each one telling different parables while Jesus guides them through the journey, pointing out the lessons as needed.

Those Disciples, as I’ll call them, are played by a fabulously talented and extremely coherent group of young people. They are Eryn Davis, Alex Hawkins, Zacchaeus Kimbrell, Justin Barnett, Diva Clarithyea-LaShaun Hall, Natalie Riegel, Norquina “Q” Rieves and Craig First. They play themselves in the show with no real devotion to a specific named character. They are simply themselves, playing and portraying parables, interacting with one another.

After the fun and humor of the first act, however, the show slides into the emotional heavy hitter. As this does follow the Book of Matthew, I can go ahead and tell you it’s very similar in tone. The first half or two thirds is teaching and parables, education. The last portion is about Christ’s fall, Judas’ betrayal and the crucifixion. And the actors are so fully dedicated to what they grow to be during the show, a quirky family all lovingly devoted to Jesus, that the emotions run very powerfully. Even Judas, portrayed quite sympathetically in the show, truly loves Jesus and seems disgusted with himself for what happens.

The voices in this cast are incredible. They are all so powerful and good at what they do. I saw the matinee show today, which was their second show of the day having done a morning school show. On top of that, at least one or two of the actors has informed me that they’ve been fighting illness. Frankly, today’s performance made me wonder if they were lying to me, because everyone sang beautifully. In a show like this, it’s hard to pinpoint any specific individuals that were “better,” because they all do so well and most songs are heavily ensembled. However, several solos did stand out, including Davis’ “O, Bless the Lord, My Soul,” Hawkins’ “Learn Your Lessons Well,” Kimbrell’s “We Beseech Thee” and Riegel and Hall’s powerful, highly emotional duet “By My Side.” Also, pretty much any time Erwin or Jones had a solo was a fierce song to be heard. The finale, with Christ crucified and singing in a call and response to the Disciples about how he’s dying, was the killer that really hit me right in the feels. Not just because of the subject, but because of the openness and full devotion the actors had to what was happening on stage, and to the beauty of their voices combined.

The set is fantastic, a grafitti-covered concrete wall, broken down at parts, with stairs leading to a massive upper platform and a slide coming down. The set, combined with the lighting, is a powerful addition to the show, perfectly accentuating which parts are joyous and happy and which begin to see the falling into darkness. The designers, Erin C. Hisey for lights and Wheeler Kincaid for set, have done some of the best work I’ve seen of their for this show, I think. The costume designer Jeanette Waterman should be commended, too, for coming up with such wacky, playful and yet appropriate costumes to a show that could easily be adversely affected by the wrong choices of costume. But a big hand goes to the director and choreographer Abe Reybold. I was fortunate enough to experience his directing and choreography on the night of the auditions, and I really wish I had been able to experience more of it, because everything turned out fantastic and I know he was a treat to work with.

Theatre Tuscaloosa’s “Godspell” is in the Bean-Brown Theatre at Shelton State Community College. The show runs at 7:30 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $22 for adults, $18 for seniors and military and $14 for students and children. I strongly, STRONGLY encourage you to go watch this show if you’re in Tuscaloosa. It is simply fantastic. A great time and an amazing theatrical experience.

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Traveling Gourmand – Broadway Pizzeria (Tuscaloosa)

Still catching up. Man, this is a slump.

There are now two places in Tuscaloosa that I will go to for pizza.

Broadway Pizzeria, on Rice Mine Road just across the Holt-side bridge and two buildings down from where I work, is a very tiny, unassuming little eatery. When you enter, you can see the brick wood-fired pizza ovens in the back of an open, small kitchen and dining area. It’s a very casual establishment, perhaps a little low quality, but none of that matters because, ultimately, you go for the food.

Now, in actuality, I’ve never had their pizza. I’ve only been twice, and they serve enough options to let me forgo getting the pizza. The difference between Broadway and my favorite pizza place, Little Italy, is that Broadway doesn’t serve pizza by the slice. That, and Broadway delivers. You can get a 7-, 12- or 14-inch pizza with a decent variety of toppings, 19 in all. I think Little Italy has more, but the selection is still pretty comprehensive with nine types of meat. They also have sandwiches, pasta, calzones… even muffeletta and a hot dog.

The first time I went, I had their baked spaghetti. Meat sauce was extra, but the spaghetti came out in this tin about 6 inches across, completely caked with cheese. And by completely caked with cheese, I mean this looked like crème brûlée, but with a layer of cheese instead of sugar. The sauce was perhaps not as zesty as I prefer mine to be, but it wasn’t bad. The dish also came with toasted garlic bread, and it was some of the tastiest bread I’ve ever had. Perfect crunch to softness ratio, as well as a very wonderful, but not overpowering, garlic, salt and spices flavor.

The second time I went, I ordered the calzone.

Fair warning: The calzones are MASSIVE.

This thing was about 12 to 14 inches across, as though they had just taken a big pizza and folded it in half. The calzone came with some warm marinara sauce, which was delicious. They can have up to six toppings inside, from the same toppings list as the pizza. I had sausage, pepperoni and jalapeno peppers, and that meal was lunch and dinner for me. Still, before I realized how ridiculously big the calzone was going to be, I had ordered a slice of their cheesecake. Now, I find it unfortunate that cheesecake is always a bit expensive… particularly because it’s my dessert vice. If somewhere serves cheesecake, I will probably buy it. I’ve even had cheesecake shipped from New York’s Junior’s Cheesecake. Now, Broadway’s cheesecake isn’t the best I’ve ever had, but that’s because I’ve had Junior’s. If you like cheesecake even a little bit and happen to be in New York City, do yourself a favor and try Junior’s cheesecake. It is phenomenal. So, it’s not Broadway’s fault that it isn’t the best. Broadway’s is really quite good, though. The crust was fantastic and moist, and the cake itself had a good depth of flavor, though not as rich as I tend to like it.

All in all, these guys seem to know how to cook. I’ve only been twice, but I’ve had great meals both times, and neither were their specialty. And I’ve never heard someone complain about their food. I think I might try them for lunch when I go to work this week. It’s definitely not a bad choice.

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Traveling Gourmand – Glory Bound Gyro Co. (Tuscaloosa)

First, a quick note: I’m trying out new themes. I’ve had several people say the coloration of the previous theme was just awkward, and I kind of agree. So, I’m changing it… unfortunately, most of the themes on WordPress lean toward use of pictures, which I don’t do, and require me to pay to change coloration. This current one hosts no color differentiation for links. Which is idiotic. But the coloration is better than grey on black, so I’m sticking with it for now. Likely, I’ll just have to shell out the $30 ($30?! It used to be $17! Ugh.) per year to get access to the CSS customization options and have someone whip me up something pretty. (I may have changed it by the time you read this so this paragraph is pretty pointless.)

…well, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these segments. Possibly because I eat absolutely nowhere new. But I’m bringing it back for this (and hopefully other places once I eat there once or twice). There’s a relatively new place in downtown Tuscaloosa on the corner of Greensboro and University, below the Twisted Martini where Brown’s Corner once sat. They call themselves a Greek restaurant with a Southern twist. They are the Glory Bound Gyro Co., the restaurant that my second place winning chili got me a $25 gift certificate to go to.

Incidentally, I think my two chilis split my votes… but I’m okay with that. This prize was way better.

Owned by the same people that own Mugshots, Glory Bound is a small chain insofar as it has a second original location in Hattiesburg, Miss. As you might be able to discern from the name, their specialty is the gyro, which someone with limited descriptive powers might be inclined to call a Greek taco. Really, a gyro is, traditionally, a lamb and beef seasoned meat mix with vegetables and tzatziki sauce (a sauce made primarily of yogurt and cucumber) wrapped in or held in a folded pita. Kinda like a taco.

While gyros are Glory Bound’s specialty, of which they serve something like 20-plus varieties, they have many other dishes. The first time I went, I noticed they had shawarma. Those that saw the summer blockbuster “The Avengers” may recognize that as the dish Iron Man wanted to try once they took care of business. From what I understand, however, Glory Bound’s shawarma is a bit different than what you might get elsewhere. Where Wikipedia tells me shawarma is actually the meat placed on the vertical spit and carved off, which I’ve seen used to typically create the beef and lamb mixtures for gyros and other dishes, Glory Bound’s shawarma is a bit different. It comes on rice pilaf, which has bell peppers in it I believe, and is covered in their shawarma sauce. I asked today what that sauce was, and I was told it’s a cream sauce of some kind. I forget what specifics the waiter mentioned the sauce had, but it tastes like a creamy cheese sauce of some kind. It’s tasty either way. The dish also came with sauteed zucchini and squash, and eight small slices of pita with a flavor of hummus, of which they have eight (with a ninth served special today).

I feel it says something when I have no idea what I’m eating (shrimp and beef shawarma) and still devour it entirely. Even more so, it says something when I DO know what I’m eating (squash and zucchini, and also hummus of which I ordered the spicy pepper), know I normally hate it and devour it entirely anyway.

Today when I went with my family, I had their most popular dish, the pepperjack gyro. This is a dish where the Southern twist comes out in full force. Their gyros, served with some tasty, flaky and crispy spiced cottage fries, come in a whole bevy of weird twists, such as the Italian gyro. This gyro comes with pepperjack cheese sauce and crispy bacon. And it was delicious. My family being there, they decided to try to spoil me. They ordered an appetizer (which I think was actually my mom spoiling herself as she and dad ate most of it), the cheese rolls. Completely different than what you’re thinking, they’re kind of like fried mozzarella sticks. They’re feta, pepperjack and cream cheese wrapped in bread and fried and served with a tasty pepper jelly that has just a bit of a kick. The cheese is very melty and mild enough to not be offensive while still maintaining a flavor.

They also let me order a dessert, something I don’t usually do. I ordered what I called (from the description) dessert nachos. In reality, they’re the Glory Bound Favorite, which I’m pretty sure is just their Pita Delight dessert with two scoops of ice cream. It’s lightly fried pita chips covered in drizzles of cinnamon and caramel (and sugar, I think?), served with two scoops of some rather delicious ice cream. I think it was vanilla bean, as the vanilla flavor stood out quite a bit. The dessert is definitely one that’s big enough to share.

As for the venue, there are several TVs most often showing sports of some kind. It doubles a little as a sports bar in that way. It offers your typical chain restaurant level of volume, unless there’s a football game on and a fan in the building. Then things can get shouty like they were with LSU vs. Alabama. The only problem I’ve noticed with the venue thus far is the Twisted Martini upstairs. My older sister and mother are both allergic to cigarette smoke, and the stairs leading to the Twisted Martini are open. So, at our original table, we could smell the cigarettes pretty heavily, and we had to move. But the first time I was there, I never noticed any smell like that. I can’t say if that’s a common thing or not.

Service was good and food came out quickly both times, and if you get a to go cup, you’re given a plastic Glory Bound emblazoned cup to keep. All in all, it’s a rather solid restaurant. On Tuesdays, they have a $5 gyro deal that my $10 remaining gift certificate and I will be using at least once. And they also offer a decent military discount (though I don’t know if that was promotional or what).

If you’re looking for a new place with a Mediterranean menu, I’d put Glory Bound at the top of my list.

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I Can’t Stand Modern “Art”

This is a bit of a rant I had recently, and one I’ve had over the years in various capacities… It’s probably the single issue I’m most close-minded about. I hate that I’m so close-minded about anything, but if there’s something to be close-minded about, I guess this is decently innocuous.

It starts with a rant about poetry. I cannot stand e. e. cummings. His total disregard for the standards of the English language itself denigrate the communicative purposes of the written word. But he isn’t even close to the worst offender in poetry, not in my mind.

Back when I was a freshman in college, I took a class called “Arts in Tuscaloosa.” It was an honors class that was supposed to cover my fine arts credit. We met twice a week, once in small groups of 10 or so, and once with the entire class of 50 to 100 kids. My roommate was in the large class with me. That class was very fond of modern art. We had to, as assignments, go and experience art, food, culture in different ways and turn in responses. Those responses could be written, but they had some really ridiculous requirement banning the use of adjectives, I believe, in those responses. They could also be creative. I went for creative and sketched. I’m not the best sketch artist, but I tried. I put effort into it, was clearly creative… still couldn’t get above a B- for my work. Meanwhile, my roommate decided to see how little effort he could put into a response. We saw a dance show together, “Dance! Alabama” in fall of 2006. He went to PowerPoint and created a slide with a light to dark blue gradient, the words “Dance! Alabama 2006” aligned right at the top, and three crappy ClipArt dancers at the bottom. He got an A+, and I refused to return to the class ever again.

Not so great for my grades, perhaps, but whatever. That class annoyed the crap out of me.

As you might guess, they were quite fond of modern art and modern poetry in there. In our large class lectures, we would listen to a guest speaker each week. The only one I remember was Hank Lazer. I remember because I hated his poetry. He told us in the class that, basically, poetry could be just random words you find on the street amalgamated together. As an example, he had a “poem” that had a random paragraph from the Alabama Code of Law every other stanza.

I hated that poetry and I hated the assertion that random words thrown haphazardly onto paper, words not even necessarily your own, could create poetry. That’s not poetry, that’s a word collage, and not even a well done one, not with his descriptions. He didn’t talk about why you used the random words, he talked like you just throw your hand into the hat and pull out something random.

Beyond poetry, modern art annoys me further still. Look at this thing about a piece called “Three Blank Canvases.” Just three canvases, painted white. Or three canvases with what looks like sections of a science textbook printed on them. If these things are defined as art, how does art have meaning and worth? Is this blog I’m writing art? Is a photograph I take of my cluttered work desk art? And what about performance art? If someone burns all their possessions on a street corner, is that art or someone that needs new stuff/therapy? Is it only art if we just call it art? Where’s the line drawn? If a guy rapes a woman in public, but calls it performance art, is it? What if it’s consensual sex, is it art then? Is self-immolation art if that’s what someone calls it?

Part of the problem is that art loses the artist’s meaning in the eyes of the viewer. The audience determines something’s artistic value and meaning. So, some people can find things beautiful and perhaps even “artistic” where I might rant and rail against it. But I think there needs to be a line, parameters drawn. You can find it beautiful or thought-provoking, but that doesn’t mean it’s art. Sitting at the piano doing nothing for four minutes and 33 seconds isn’t music, John Cage, it’s just silence and laziness. I swear, if anyone “performs” that piece near me, I’m jumping on stage to do my own song and dance, and they can’t stop me because I’m part of the “ambient noise” then.

It’s frustrating to me to think of the great artists like Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt… I think of writers like William Shakespeare and Robert Browning and Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath and William Wordsworth… Musicians like Beethoven and Mozart and Bach… Many of these people, these artists, had struggles. Van Gogh suffered from depression that led to his suicide. Plath had the same problem. Michelangelo nearly went blind painting the Sistine Chapel. Mozart had various problems, some of which likely stemmed from his being bandied about at such a young age. Beethoven was deaf.

I’m not saying personal struggle is necessary for artists, but these artists struggled in their own lives and in their works. It took effort, caused pain, took time. Their art had purpose and true devotion poured in, whether you enjoy the final product or not. And that’s something I just don’t see too often with modern art. I know I’m a bit of a heretic among my artistic and culture-loving friends for saying this, but there is so much in modern art that just doesn’t seem like art to me. Maybe Plato was right and there is an objective form for beauty or art. Or maybe I’m just narrow-minded. After all, many of the artists I named were branded heretical for pushing the bounds in their days, going largely unnoticed or deemed unworthy to be considered artists.

But that’s my thoughts.

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On Aid Privatization And Disaster Politicization

So, this hurricane thing… it’s been happening, and it hasn’t been grand. Hurricane Sandy has wreaked quite a bit of havoc on both New Jersey and New York City, with power still out in many areas of both places.

It used to be, it seemed, that when a big disaster occurred, be it natural or man-made (I will include terrorist attacks in this category), Americans could pull together to figure out what to do to fix things, at least for a while. Pearl Harbor brought the nation’s furious wrath into World War II, a war it had no true intention of entering before. 9/11 brought Americans together to aid New York City as much as possible and, for a few months at least, it seemed, brought petty partisan politics and hate to a standstill… well, except for some unfortunate xenophobia and Islamaphobia. Truth be told, we did the same thing to the Japanese-American population after Pearl Harbor.

…so, America doesn’t have the best track record on FULL unity and cooperation and support after massive attacks from a foreign entity… but when the tornadoes ripped through Alabama, severely damaging Tuscaloosa in particular, the nation turned to help. Same for Joplin, Mo. Neighboring states took in refugees after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. When the federal government failed to mobilize responsibly, local and private interest groups stepped in to pick up the slack.

But, apparently, that togetherness disappears a week before elections.

See, when the tornado hit Tuscaloosa, President Barack Obama came into town to view the damage. Obama walked with Mayor Walt Maddox, Republican Governor Robert Bentley and several Congresspeople, many who were also Republicans. During that event, in April 2011 before the real meaty parts of the reelection process began, no one thought anything of it. It was the president doing his job, surveying damage with local government officials, discussing strategies for aid and pledging support. Didn’t matter who was what political party.

But, now, here we are with Hurricane Sandy. Obama has done the same thing he did with Tuscaloosa. He left the campaign trail to focus fully on his duties as president and try to preserve as much life and livelihood as possible. He mobilized FEMA. He called New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie the night of the storm hitting the coast. He came to New Jersey and surveyed the damage. Pledged support. Discussed strategies for aid. Gov. Christie has praised Obama for his speedy and efficient support in the matter, and it can be noted that Christie, a Mitt Romney supporter, has had some less than glowing words about Obama even within the past week or so. When “Fox and Friends” tried to ask Christie about whether he thought Romney would do the same thing, Christie said, “If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.” You can see it here on this “Daily Show” clip about the hurricane.

Of course, Republicans are crying foul over Christie’s words. Human waste pile Rush Limbaugh thinks Christie’s gay for Obama. The Daily Caller columnist Matt Lewis is wondering if Christie could find a way to not look like a prop for Obama’s reelection. And President George W. Bush’s FEMA director during the Hurricane Katrina debacle Michael Brown decided to criticize Obama for reacting to the destruction too quickly.

Yes, there is some political discussion that could be had. For example, what is the benefit of government-assisted disaster relief? Should FEMA be cut or privatized? Those are the conversations that can be had. After we focus on helping those in need, those affected by the disaster.

Yes, Romney suggested cutting FEMA, letting the states handle it entirely. Yes, that would likely leave New Jersey in trouble right now with how it’s been affected. And, yes, Romney has now changed his position on FEMA, saying it plays a key role in disaster relief. So, yeah, we’ve got another flip-flop from Romney, and yeah, the conversation about federal disaster relief v. state disaster relief v. privatized disaster relief is one that we can have, and perhaps should have. I plan to go into it myself at a later time when discussing the desire to have states with more government power than the federal government.

But can we not, for this moment now, just stop playing politics and just help people? Seriously.

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Breaking The Leg – Tuscaloosa’s Druid Dread Night

Okay. So, really quick before I have to head off to the show that I’m about to tell you about.

Tonight, at the Bama Theatre at 8:30 (doors open at 8, bar opens at 7:30), and tonight only, there will be an original Halloween performance and variety show, Druid Dread Night. The event is on Facebook here.

As this is a completely original show plus variety show plus other things, I can’t really talk plot or whatnot much. The night does include a show by the band The Resident Evils (I believe that’s Mark Hughes Cobb’s current band name, a.k.a. whomever talented he could get for the show), a variety show at 9 p.m. with acts from members of the community including, I believe, some Pink Box Burlesque performance? I’m not 100 percent positive on that, though. Pretty sure, but not positive. There will also be a costume contest, so show up costumed for some prizes. And then, at the end, there will be a performance of an original, Tuscaloosa-centered horror story, “In the Bones.”

The show is $5 to get in, and the profits will go to help pay for art supplies in the city schools. It’s also an 18-plus show, so no children. That’s one reason I’m pretty sure we’re getting some PBB vaudeville, but I haven’t seen the variety show yet. Just my bits.

So, booze, theatre, costumes, ghost stories… Fun times! And, bonus, I’m in it! So, you should totally come watch if you’re in Tuscaloosa. In the meantime, I’m off to rehearsal.

8 p.m., Bama Theatre, tonight, $5, 18 or older. Come watch.

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Sing, Sang, Sung – “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” From “Fiddler On The Roof”

Okay. Once again, I find myself not having much time. I spent most of my day fixated on my chili. They took, like, two hours to fully reheat, after which I had to add spices and chocolate and the like to perfect them. Then let it simmer for an hour or so, then off to the farmers market to be part of the competition. In a wholly non-egotistical way, I honestly think both of mine were better than all the rest. The winning chili tasted like a good hot dog chili, but not a great standalone chili. Still, my hot chili, “Trick,” won second place (Which got me the prize I preferred. First place was an overnight stay at a local hotel for two, with complimentary breakfast. I’m kinda massively single, so that didn’t appeal. Second place was a $25 gift certificate to a local Greek restaurant that has some gyros with twists… can’t wait to try it.), and when I peeked at the scores, it looked like my sweet chili, “Treat,” was a vote away from tying.

I then proceeded to spend $29 at the market. They had muscadines! I haven’t had those in years! They’re probably my favorite fruit ever, truth be told. And they had fresh cayenne peppers! I have honestly never seen those. Not once. And I buy a LOT of different peppers. Maybe EarthFare in Huntsville had some, but I’ve never seen fresh cayenne in stores. It’s always powdered. And I also bought potatoes, jalapenos, habaneros, nearly two pounds of ground black Angus beef and a block of habanero goat cheese. You throw that cheese in a pasta dish, it becomes almost an instant cream sauce. It’s delicious. I love farmers markets.

And then there was trivia and we were awful, even worse than usual. It was bad news bears.

BUT! None of that really has to do with the song. I’m just telling you all this because 1) it happened and 2) I need to pretend I have an excuse for yet another rather stupid post. I’ve not been giving very much lately. So, excuses made. The song is simply because a friend tweeted about “matchmaker” earlier today and tweeted some of the lyrics to the song. Which proceeded to get stuck in my head. Which is okay. I like that musical. It’s pretty awesome. I think I could play Tevye, were anyone to ever cast me in anything.

…anyway. Here’s the song, via the film. Not “Mrs. Doubtfire,” although the song appears in that movie, too, albeit briefly. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should go watch it. It’s loads of fun.

“Matchmaker, Matchmaker” – “Fiddler on the Roof”

Well, somebody has to arrange the matches,

She might bring someone wonderful-

Someone interesting-

And well off-

And important-

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
catch me a catch
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Look through your book,
And make me a perfect match

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
I’ll bring the veil,
You bring the groom,
Slender and pale.
Bring me a ring for I’m longing to be,
The envy of all I see.

For Papa,
Make him a scholar.

For mama,
Make him rich as a king.

Chava and Hodel:
For me, well,
I wouldn’t holler
If he were as handsome as anything.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
Catch me a catch,
Night after night in the dark I’m alone
So find me match,
Of my own.

Since when are you in a match, Chava? I thought you just had your eye on your books.

(Hodel chuckles)

Tzeitel con’t:
And you have your eye on the Rabbi’s son.

Well, why not?
We only have one Rabbi and he only has one son.
Why shouldn’t I want the best?

Because you’re a girl from a poor family.
So whatever Yente brings, you’ll take, right?
Of course right!

(throws scarf over her head, imitating Yente)

Hodel, oh Hodel,
Have I made a match for you!
He’s handsome, he’s young!
Alright, he’s 62.
But he’s a nice man, a good catch, true?

I promise you’ll be happy,
And even if you’re not,
There’s more to life than that…
Don’t ask me what.

Chava, I found him.
Won’t you be a lucky bride!
He’s handsome, he’s tall,
That is from side to side.
But he’s a nice man, a good catch, right?


You heard he has a temper.

He’ll beat you every night,

But only when he’s sober,

Tzeitel and Hodel:
So you’ll alright.

Did you think you’d get a prince?

Well I’ll find the best I can.

Tzeitel and Hodel:
With no dowry, no money, no family background
Be glad you got a man!

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
You know that I’m
Still very young.
Please, take your time.

Up to this minute,
I misunderstood
That I could get stuck for good.

Chava, Hodel and Tzeitel:
Dear Yente,
See that he’s gentle
You were also a bride.
It’s not that
I’m sentimental
It’s just that I’m terrified!

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Plan me no plans
I’m in no rush
Maybe I’ve learned
Playing with matches
A girl can get burned
Bring me no ring
Groom me no groom
Find me no find

Chava, Hodel, Tzeitel, Shprintze and Bielke:
Catch me no catch
Unless he’s a matchless match.

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