No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Update

Christmas was a HOOT! It always is when we go to Cleveland. We got some good news too; Wifester and I are going to be new Aunts!! YAY!!! Her brother and his wife are expecting their first baby, and everyone has known since Thanksgiving but keeping the secret from us until we came home for Christmas so that they could tell us in person. Those big meanies! I can't imagine how hard it was for Wifester's mom to keep that hush-hush.

My Christmas loot was splendid! I came away with a beautiful Tahitian pearl necklace! And I always thought pearls were only for old ladies! This one is perfect for a gal like myself.
I racked up on some major art supplies, paints, canvas, brushes, you name it, I got it.

The Wifester finally got her new camera *angels singing* you know, the one she's been wanting for sooooo long. Which means that I regain custody of the old camera, which isn't that old, by the way. She actually got two cameras, and she's all psyched to get going with them!

Oh yeah, I got an espresso machine! YUM! Note to self; Although it may be OK to drink a full 16oz coffee mug full of COFFEE, it is NOT recommended to drink that same mug full of cappuccino! Quadruple cappuccino at 7am = one busy Fortune Cookie and a VERY clean house. That is synchronously a pretty good thing and a veeeeery bad thing...

Cleveland was beautiful and COOOOOOOOOLD.
The second day we were there there was snow everywhere and it was -1. MINUS ONE! The wind chill made it -25, but if you ask me, it was more like -125, and that just so happened to be the day that the Wifester decided she just had to go up to the big cemetary to shoot some photos. Of course the main one she wanted was way up atop the big hill, where the wind was whipping about like a wire coathanger across Christina's back in that scene from Mommie Dearest, and stinging with the same pissuance.
I volunteered to provide Wifester with my jacket for extra warmth while I stayed in the car to keep it running and warm the remainder of the cemetary adventure. She was a trooper, though, she got out there and took way more photos than I would have dared to in those frigid temperatures.
So now I'm back to work, and impatiently awating the weekend so that I can play with my new art supplies! I sure wish I didn't have a full time job.
How was your holiday?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Drumroll Please...



Yes, it's time to announce the winner of the first annual Fortune Cookies Christmas Challenge!
As you may remember, I asked you to donate your time, money, or energy to a charitable origination this holiday season, and let me know so I could enter you in a drawing. You guys came through like the champs I always knew you were!
The blogging community is the bestest, most thoughtful, pro-active community evah! For reals. And I'm not just paying lip service either. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
I appreciate each and every one of you for your willingness to help others, and I know your good karma will come back to you many times over.



OK, OK, enough of the mushy-gushy sentimental stuff...On to the drawing.

I originally planned to vlog this, since vlogging the drawing of the winner of these type things seems to be all the rave in the blogosphere these days, but our video camera only works in the brightest of sunlight, and since it's been rainy and foggy and overcast, we're S.O.L. on that. So you'll just have to accept some photos, sorry guys, a new video camera is on Santa's list for NEXT year...
...For now, all Santa can muster is a double shot of schnapps in my cocoa while I blog this... It's been a doosey of a day! But that's a story for another time.

I had the Wifester photo-journal the process of the drawing while I utilized her scary alien-snowman cookie jar to draw the names from. I'm not kidding, it's scary, and I truly think an alien mated with Frosty to create this atrocity:
Then, against my better judgement, I plunged my pudgy hand into the alien-snowman hybrid
To my complete and utter surprise, I was not abducted and probed, nor was I wisked away into an alternate bizarro-world. Instead, I found this:

Chatty, Come On Down! You're the next contestant... Oh, wait, wrong show...if you'll email me your mailing address, I'll get your prize out to you ASAP!
And thanks again for playing!

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Neices

My sister in law asked me (a while back) for a painting, and I finally got around to it. I hope they like it...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Time Keeps on Ticking Away


Just a reminder:
tomorrow is the deadline to leave a comment here letting me know if you are participating in The Christmas Challenge. If you are a lurker and wish to remain out of the spotlight, email me at nomoreemptyfortunecookies@gmail.com, we'll keep it on the down low.
Remember, you pick a charity orgizization that gives Christmas to the less fortunate, donate to it (money, gifts, time however you can) , let me know no later than Dec. 15, and on Dec. 17th I will put your names in a bowl and draw a lucky blogger (or lurker) and then I send YOU a PRIZE!


It truly is a win, win, win situation!
So what are you still doing here? Go find a reputable charity to help this holiday season...scat! shoow! Go on now, time's a ticking!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Shameless Self Promotion and a Meme from Tink...

I'm so super psyched! I sold my first painting on Etsy! A for real and for true sale, not to a friend or family member who wanted to help me out! Judy Garland, she was posted on Tuesday, or Wednesday, and by Friday she was sold. Thank you so much Etsy buyer, from Orlando! I'm finally beginning to feel like a real artist. Of course, I suppose I'd need to die first, then have all my paintings sell in order to properly feel like a real artist, but that's really not an option for me. I plan on living for a while yet. There's so many places I want to travel and see so I can paint there. I've got plans, you know.
Anyways, I was just so super psyched about that one selling, I had to toot my own horn.
I think I'll hop to it and make some more in similar fashion and see how they do on etsy. Couldn't hurt. At the very least, I hope to make enough to keep me with a supple art supply budget. Wifester says earnings from my art should be spent as I see fit, and I see fit to buy more art supplies so that I can make more art! Is that selfish? I mean, I do have a full time job that pays bills and then some, so really, it's not like I'm letting my family suffer while I buy paint and canvas. It just feels so selfish. Like I could use that money for Christmas shopping, or groceries, or party supplies, but eh...feed the addiction with the profits from the addiction, I suppose.

I started a new piece, it will be a Christmas present for my neices. I hope they'll like it. I received a portrait of them recently, and thought I can make them a FortuneCookies style portrait, bet they'd like that. Their mom had asked me if I could make a painting for them a while back, and I've procrastinated, so here's this, think they'll like?




Now, on to the Meme! I've felt kinda bad for not playing in the WWC as of late, so when I saw this meme suggestion over at Tink's, I had to join in.
Here it is:

Answer these questions here or on your own blog with a link to it in the comment section.

1. What was the best present you've ever received?
2. What was the worst?
3. What is something you really want this year for yourself?
4. What is something you really want this year for someone else?
5. What's your favorite Christmas memory?



1. my new pc from my wifester

2. ugly flannel pj's that my mom later told me I owed her 14.95 for

3. aside from that mermaid mug? a Dyson! or a cappuccino machine

4. There's something I've been wanting for Wifester for a very long time...sure hope Santa brings it!

5. It wasn't really Christmas, but Wifester and I went to Ohio, where her family lives in between Christmas and Thanksgiving a few years ago, because that's when I could get the phone company nazis to give me time off, and her family had a huge Christmas party for us, and we played dirty santa and got drunk and Wifester sang "baby got back" on karaoke ...it was a HOOT!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sick Day

I've had the funk today, so rather than vomit all day at work, I stayed home and painted between puking.
I finally got to finish my Judy Garland that everyone thought was Liza Minnelli. Hopefully now she looks like Judy. If not, oh well, I tried. If you want to see her, you can check her out at my art blog or at my etsy.

Judy Garland





I've had a few people think she was Liza Minnelli, eh, close anyways. So I went back in and added some more texture and details. Reworked her and hopefully now she looks more like Judy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thoughts for Bettie Page

You'll always be a hottie in my book, Bettie...

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bettie Page, a 1950s pinup known for her raven-haired bangs and saucy come-hither looks, was hospitalized in intensive care after suffering a heart attack, her agent said Friday.

"She's critically ill," Mark Roesler of CMG Worldwide told The Associated Press.

He said the 85-year-old had been hospitalized for the last three weeks with pneumonia and was about to be released when she had the heart attack Tuesday. Page was transferred to another hospital in Los Angeles and remained in intensive care Friday.

A family friend, Todd Mueller, said Page was in a coma. When asked to confirm, Roesler said, "I would not deny that," but he would not comment further on her condition.

Page, a secretary turned model, is credited with helping set the stage for the sexual revolution of the rebellious 1960s. She attracted national attention with magazine photographs of her sensuous figure that were tacked up on walls across the country.

Her photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine, as well as controversial sadomasochistic poses.

Page later spent decades away from the public eye, and during that time battled mental illness and became a born-again Christian.

After resurfacing in the 1990s, she occasionally granted interviews but refused to allow her picture to be taken.

Mueller credits his business dealings with Page for bringing her out of seclusion. He said he first met her in 1989 when he offered her "a bunch of money" to show up at autograph signings.

"I probably sold 3,000 of her autographs, usually for $200 to $300," he said. "Eleanor Roosevelt, we got $40-$50. ... Bettie Page outsells them all."

************************************************************************************
My thoughts are with Bettie and her family at this time.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Did You Know I'm the Cookie Monster?

It's the truth. I big pink puffy heart cookies. Chocolate chip, oatmeal, sugar, they're all good in my book. I remember making my first batch of Toll House cookies with my mom, when I was just a young Cookie myself. They made me fall in love with the gooey, sugary, orbs of warm joy.
I was never quite the baker my mom was. She could run circles around Martha Stewart in the kitchen when it comes to baking. Somehow, I missed out on that talent. I think it comes from my inability to strictly follow the recipes, opting to use them more as a guideline, a mere suggestion, rather than the "This is the word of law" ideation that baking recipes seem to necessitate.
That, and I'm entirely too nonchalant and whimsical to accurately measure anything. Baking is more a science than cooking is. Cooking gives the artistic freedom to play with the measurements, add a bit of this and a dash of that at the cook's discretion. Not so with baking, at least not to the same degree as with cooking. So I tend to screw up many attempts at baking. Which is probably good, because If I could successfully bake, on even a sporadically regular basis, I'd be in some serious trouble. Because One thing I did inherit from my Grandma Palacios, if not her black curly hair and long thick eyelashes, I instead received her love of sugar. She liked hers in any form of chocolate, and I take my sugar mostly through cookies. Have I told you how much I love cookies? Hard, soft, round, square, doesn't matter, I love em!
You could probably bribe me out of house and home with the right batch of cookies.
I'm pretty sure that if I've lived my life right, and I've done all that I can to be of service to this world, then when I die, I'll receive a plate of freshly baked, still warm, assorted cookies.

I tell you all of this because it's really close to Christmas and you know what that means...
IT"S COOKIE BAKING TIME!!!!
Wifester and I went to Joann's Fabrics yesterday to get some crafty stuff, we've been making home made ornaments, more on that later, and while we were there, I found some cookie cutters on sale that were just begging to come home with us. And since I bought Easter cookie cutters, but never made Easter cookies, and I bought a dragonfly cookie cutter from our summer vacation, and never used it, I awoke this morning determined to make some cookies.

Now, as I said, I don't usually bake, I leave that to the Wifester. I cook, she bakes. It's a good system we have worked out here. But this was my task to do, so I hit the internet to look up a good sugar cookie recipe. I really wanted a nice sugar cookie that we could make some icing and decorate these with, and I found this recipe that said "The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies", and it said "
Whenever you make these cookies for someone, be sure to bring along several copies of the recipe! You will be asked for it, I promise!!!"
I thought, hmmm that one sounds good, lets go!
So I glanced over the ingredients list, saw what I needed, and began mixing up the cookie dough. My bowl was getting fuller, and fuller, and fuller. Wifester, knowing my history in baking and lack of success, came in to check on me. "Wow, you got a lot of cookies there" she said to me as I continued to add the premeasured flour to the now almost overflowing bowl. "Yeah, looks like it! Could you get me a bigger bowl, please." I responded, a bit nervous, knowing I had followed these directions precisely. After we transfered the dough into the larger recepticle, I picked up the printout of the recipe to see where I'd gone wrong..."I've followed these directions exactly" I protested,
Wifester: "Well, how many dozen does this recipe make?"
me: "Oh, yeah, I didn't look at that."
Wifester: "Don't you think that's important to check before starting a recipe?"
me: "Shut up"
me: "Oh...it says Yeild: 5 dozen"

And the moral of the story is ...
Always read the " Yeild " line of a recipe before embarking upon that journey.

Guess the office is getting some cookies tomorrow :)


The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies
Submitted by: Jill Saunders
Rated: 4 out of 5 by 2067 members
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Minutes
Ready In: 3 Hours
Yields: 60 servings
"Whenever you make these cookies for someone, be sure to bring along several copies of the recipe! You will be asked for it, I promise!!!"
INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2008 Allrecipes.com Printed from Allrecipes.com 12/7/2008



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Challenge!


This has been weighing heavily on my mind, and since blogging is what I do to scratch most itches I get, here it is:

I've been reading stories about how the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program is suffering this year, partially due to the drastic increase of the number of people needing its assistance, and partially due to the drastic decrease in the number of people who are selecting angels from the tree.
That really makes me one sad cookie.
To think of those children waking up on Christmas morning to nothing, or next to nothing...What kind of Christmas is that? Now, I'm not saying all kids should get a Wii, or even a bicycle, but something, even if it's a Dollar Store $1 doll. I know lots of people say
"We struggled through tough times, and never asked for assistance, and don't see why we should help someone else."
Well, that's just not my train of thought. I believe that sometimes people simply catch a bad break in life and one bad break can place them in a situation where suddenly their kids are facing Christmas with no presents and possibly no dinner. To me, Christmas is just another day, but for kids, it's magical. I like to do what I can to preserve that magic for as long as possible.
Illustration by Sheri Doty

Besides, even if it's a case where any of the million and 5 reasons in which the parents were totally to blame for the financial crimp they've found themselves in right now, how is that this kid's fault? And isn't a child who received a Christmas memory, via the donations of strangers, more likely to grow up remembering it, cherishing that memory, and paying it forward? After all, those who receive help are most likely to provide help when their time comes. To me, that's what the Christmas season is about, that's what Christmas spirit is. Not how many gifts I can buy my loved ones, or how many I can get them to buy me. It's a time of giving.

Did you know that in Middle Tennessee, last year the Angel Tree Program provided Christmas to 8,000 angels. This year, they have 14,000 signed up. And what's worse, is that the angels are sitting on the trees at the malls and grocery stores, waiting to be selected, and there is serious concern that many will not. Understandably, with the recession and cut backs and lay offs...but really, come on. We can do better for our neighbors, don't you think? I do. I'm not rich. I don't have bookoos of surplus cash to spend, I've seen the retirement plan dwindle with the failing stock market, just like you. But Wifester and I had a discussion, and here's the plan we came up with. We cut back on some superfluous spending, decided to forgo the salon trip and take our chance with a $10.00 haircut, and opted for some store brands rather than name brands on items that we usually don't already do that with, in exchange we select a couple of angels from the angel tree...It's not much, but what we save by these small measures will provide a couple of someones with some fond Christmas memories, and isn't that what it's all about?
So here's my challenge...

I challenge each and every one of you to make some minor concessions, some small, temporary sacrafices so that you can select an angel to help this year. Are you up for the challenge?
Everyone who does it should leave me a comment, or write about it on your blog, but still leave me a comment so I know you're in... then I'll choose one of you, at random, to be the winner of a prize! Deadline to let me know you are participating is 12/15 and the winner will be announced on 12/17.


How's that sound? Mark your calendars and remember to let me know!
Ready? It's on!




Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Was Your Thanksgiving Present?

I never knew I could juggle! Jiggle, sure, but juggle? Well, with this blog, the art blog, the poetry blog, the recipe blog AND the This is La Vergne blog (which has been neglected by me recently, sorry Lavergnians) I've actually done a bit of a juggling act. One day I hope to combine it all into one place. But for now, I like keeping them separated. A place for everything and everything in its place. Ha! Not exactly, but along those lines.
All of that to say there's another new poem.

I've told you how wonderful my mother in law is, right? I mean, who gets Thanksgiving presents? We do! Why, you may ask? Because we couldn't be home with them for Thanksgiving, and they wanted us to know they were thinking of us! We received a box in the mail on Tuesday and Wifester and I tore into it like kids at Christmas, only to find individually wrapped gifts and a note that said "Do not open these until Thanksgiving!"
With a sigh of disappointment we set the box aside and began guessing what could possibly be Thanksgiving gifts!?
On Thursday, after the carcass, formerly known as a turkey was in the oven and I was at that point where I could relax a bit, we embarked on opening our Turkey Day gifts from Wifester's Mom and step Dad. The Wifester got cool book "Strange but True: 100 of The World's Weirdest Wonders, Mysteries Solved. Hoaxes Revealed."
And I received several pads of palette paper, which is waxy sheets that you can squeeze paints on and use as disposable palettes! I also got a super cute notebook with a sweet note from Mom inside telling me that it is for poems I write on the go. Then it said that Emily Dickinson wrote 1700 poems and only 7 were published in her lifetime and to keep penning! How very, very, very sweet and thoughtful! So the first poem I wrote in it is here.
What did you get for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving
You tease and play
always a jester
While the aroma of
Home, long ago,
fills each room
one
by one...

I looked at you
Standing in the kitchen
and I knew
I would always love
Your smile
Your laugh
Your touch...

Thanksgiving
Gratitude runs thick
like cold, raw oil
And I'm most grateful
to have you
in my life.


Angela J. Schleicher © 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ok, ok, so that wasn't my turkey with the bikini lines. I know you were wondering. (I ripped that photo from another blog, see the caption under it to find it's origins.)
Here's my real bird.

Our dinner was wonderful, we had good company, and a beautiful day. Good food, good friends, good weather...what better turkey day could we ask for?
How was yours?

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Religion on Steroids

The phone ring, ring, rings,

and I ignore the incessant tone

of Patriarchy submerged in Zealotry:

Religion on steroids, I muse

Closing my eyes, I imagine ignorance

Feeling its warm embrace

for too brief a moment...

In a flash, its gone with the ring, ring, ring

of technology's death to privacy

Bringing me back again

To the persistant realization

that you are no longer the parents

I once knew.


Angela J. Schleicher © 2008

Poetry and Cake

I have a new poem, check it out at my Poetry Blog...

and I posted a new recipe at my Cooking Blog

And did I tell you what I did last night? On Thanksgiving Eve-Eve? I bumped into the baker's rack and caused some random objects to crash to the floor, among them was one casualty, only one. BUT... it was my handy chopper! MY HANDY CHOPPER!
Two days before Thanksgiving, I kill my handy chopper! OY VEY!
Guess who'll be hand dicing a ton of celery, onions, carrots, and everything else?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Marilyn Monroe







By Angela Schleicher acrylic/mixed media

Marilyn on My Mind

I woke up this morning with an image of Norma Jean-buxom and beautiful, laughing and teasing the camera, eyes closed in ecstasy with the joy of the moment-perfectly framed in my mind. I dreamed last night that I was painting her. Wifester checked in from the bedroom asking "Whatcha doing there, love?" to which I replied "reviving Marilyn, dear."
It was simple, and matter of fact, just like that, and that's how I woke up.
I knew as soon as my eyes opened what had to be done.
I set out to accomplish my mission, it's Sunday, I've finished my paper for school, and I've completed my tests for the week, today is mine all mine.
I brewed my second favorite nectar of life. Gevalia French Vanilla coffee. Second only to Gevalia's Mocha Java. I turned on some mood music. To evoke the right feeling, the proper mood, I listened to Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin.
I gathered up my paints, brushes, glue, and newspaper, and I created this:



You can visit more photos of Marilyn at my art blog, here

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Should Marriage Be Redefined?


An essay by Fortune Cookies



The one constant in the definition of marriage is simply the joining of two entities to become a combined unit. In requiring marriage to be contingent upon the parties meeting certain gender specifications, the definition is then changed to suit an agenda.


Should Marriage be Redefined?



Are gays and lesbians asking for marriage to be redefined, or are conservatives calling for a redefinition by adding gender stipulations to its constitutional definition? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of marriage is varied, and includes the following:

  1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
  2. The state of being married; wedlock.
  3. A union between two persons: same-sex marriage.
  4. A close union: "the most successful marriage of beauty and blood in mainstream comics" (Lloyd Rose).

(American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000)
Clearly, this dictionary does not stipulate that marriage is only applicable when the two parties are of opposite gender. Dictionaries will vary in their definitions as will personal interpretations. However, the one inference that repeats is "to unite in a close, usually permanent way. " (Webster's Dictionary, 2008, American Heritage Dictionary, 2000, Oxford Online Dictionary, 2008) Therefore, the most logical conclusion to reach is that people who demand a constitutional amendment to define marriage as "one man and one woman," are redefining the word for everyone.

There are many arguments against gay marriage. Here, we will discuss the most prevalent and popular claims against marriage for same sex couples and examine the fallacies behind them. The primary call to action against same sex marriage is the proposition that marriage should be defined as "one man, one woman." Does justice not demand that if the straight community can not show a compelling reason to deny
the institution of marriage to gay people, it should not be denied? (Eskridge, 1996) Such nebulous declarations, without any solid moral argument behind them, are hardly compelling reasons. They seem to be more of an expression of prejudice than any kind of real argument. The concept of not denying people their rights unless there is a proven, compelling reason to deny them is the very basis of the American ideal of human rights.

It is well documented in American history that African American slaves who married were not married "Until death do us part, "rather, "Until death or distance do us part…" (Racha- Penrice, 2007)The American government did not recognize such unions, and allowed slave owners to sell a husband to one man and his wife to another. Families were torn apart at the auction block day after day. Not until after the Civil War, when marriage was redefined, were blacks allowed the right to legally marry in the United States. Thus began the fear based, ideological campaign to protect the white race from marriage to other races. A flurry of states passed laws to outlaw interracial marriages, and some states even banned interracial intercourse. (Racha- Penrice, 2007)

Similar bans, already in existence throughout the United States, did nothing to slow the growing fears of racial mixing. From the late nineteenth century and throughout the early twentieth century, fourteen states, primarily in the West, extended the ban to include marriages between whites and Asians. Twelve states extended these segregationist prohibitions to include marriages between whites and American Indians. By 1913, forty one states or territories had enacted such laws, and had included in them, a prohibition of couples from leaving their home states to travel to other states that did not have such marriage bans. (Zinn, 2005)

In the mid-twentieth century, the tide began to turn against race-based marriage bans. Nazi laws forbidding Jews from marrying non-Jews were discredited along with many other expressions of state racism. The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which cited the "right to marry" as one of the fundamental rights of humankind. (U.N. General Assembly, 1948)

Nineteen years later, in 1967, the historic Supreme Court decision was made in the case of Loving v. Virginia. It proclaimed that the ban on interracial marriage was "designed to maintain White Supremacy" and therefore, unconstitutional. In denying the right to marry the person of one's choice, the fundamental civil right to marriage had been denied. Later, the Court even extended the right of marriage to prisoners, citing the civil right as one that could not be denied to any person. (U.S. Supreme Court, 1967)

Still, the argument is often made that same sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage. This is a contradiction, in and of itself. Allowing people to commit themselves to each other regardless of gender, is not a threat to marriage. When homosexuals are allowed to marry, they are less likely to attempt heterosexual marriage first, just to fit in with society's norm, causing them to be matched with an incompatible partner and possibly raising children in a loveless home, only to end in divorce. Further, studies have shown that children of divorce are more likely to have failed marriages themselves. (Sterkle, 1987) Denying gays the right to marriage contributes to the divorce rate, rather than protecting the institution of marriage.

Gay marriage has been legal in Denmark since 1989. A proposal now exists in the Danish parliament to allow adoption rights and church weddings, which are currently prohibited. Most other Scandinavian countries have followed suit.

Full marriage rights have existed in many Dutch cities for several years, and was recently made legal nationwide, including the word "marriage" to describe such unions. Opposition to the Danish law was led by the clergy, much the same as in the United States. A survey conducted at the time revealed that 72 % of Danish clergy were opposed to the law. (Graff, 1996) It was passed anyway, and the change in the attitude of the clergy there has been dramatic, a survey conducted in 1995 indicated that 89 % of the Danish clergy now admit that the law is a good one and that it had many beneficial effects. Some of which include reductions in suicide, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and in promiscuity and infidelity among gays. (Kendall, 2007) Far from leading to the destruction of western civilization, as some critics have warned, the result of gay marriage in Scandinavia has actually been civilizing and strengthening, not just to the institution of marriage, but to society as a whole.

The argument that marriage is a sacred institution is biased in design and based on the assumption that the state has the responsibility to "sanctify" marriages - a fundamentally religious idea. This is an example of one set of people trying to enforce their religious doctrines upon others. In this instance, it is an attempt to do so through weakening the separation of church and state, by undermining the Bill of Rights. (Sullivan, 2008) Although this is not a new concept in American politics, the attempt itself opposes the foundations, the very fiber of the First Amendment - one does not truly have freedom of religion if one does not have the right to freedom from religion as well. The only marriage affected by two people marrying, is the marriage being entered into by the two people marrying each other.

Historically speaking, the word marriage originally identified a merger between two families. It was a type of trade. Essentially, marriage identified the barter of one man's daughter, in exchange for another man's livestock, crops, or other valuables. It could be argued that marriage was already redefined by churches, to be a sanctimonious event, and again redefined, by corporations to indicate a merger of businesses. It was certainly redefined in the Post Civil War era, in order to grant former slaves their fundamental civil right to marry and be happy. Once again, in the 1960's, the definition was changed to allow persons of differing races the right to marry each other. Without this word's definition periodically being altered throughout our history, our current president elect, Barack Obama's mother and father would not have been allowed to marry. In many states, his mere conception would have been illegal, with a penalty of felony charges stemming in a sentence of one to five years imprisonment.
There are many who argue that allowing same-sex marriage would create an environment in which churches would be required to perform ceremonies for same sex couples against their religious beliefs. This simply is not true. Today churches already have the right to refuse marriage to any couple, for any reason. They can deny marriage to a couple because of a large age disparity, a difference in religious backgrounds, or even for being of different races. There is nothing in any marriage law, existing or proposed, that does or would have the effect of requiring any church to marry any couple they do not wish to marry. Couples would continue to do as they always have: they get married by a Justice of the Peace, in a Mayor's Court, or have a family member or friend who has obtained a license from the state marry them. Same sex couples are simply asking for the same opportunity.

To many people, the word marriage connotes various ideas that are not readily identified in a dictionary. The church sanctions a holy matrimony, while the courts legalize a civil matrimony. Corporations marry each other when entering a merger, to form a larger, more formidable business. The joining of two parties to become one, to be better together, to help each other, and to stay together permanently, is the core meaning of marriage. This basic human right has been sought after in civilization for centuries.

Denying homosexuals the right to marry deprives them of thousands of legal rights that married heterosexual couples freely enjoy. (Kendell, 2007) Among these rights, at the state level are hospital visitation, control of burial and funeral arrangements for a partner, inheritance rights and insurance benefits, just to name a few. At the federal level alone, the General Accounting Office has identified over one thousand provisions that heterosexual married couples enjoy, including social security benefits and federal tax exemptions, that would be granted to same-sex couples if they were allowed marriage.

Our government was set up as an institution whose goal is the preservation of the rights of its citizens. By upholding the ideological or philosophical prejudices of one group, our government is failing to protect another group's basic human rights. Rights which are defined by the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It proclaims, "…No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Is marriage being redefined? Yes, and it matters more today than ever before. There exists a precedent of redefining marriage throughout human history, without which many of today's marriages would be null and void in earlier contexts.

As humans inhabiting an ever changing world, we too must adapt. An engineer will say that the bridge that does not bend with the wind is destined to crumble and fall. So too, it goes with ideologies. Our founding fathers defined our country as a place where all men were created equal, and endowed with an unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. It is an infringement upon this very pursuit, if two consenting adults are denied the right to marry. The arguments supporting gay marriage outweigh the negatives. Strong family units strengthen society. Tolerance for differences diffuses strife and fosters a closer knit community. Church and state separation do not preclude working relationships between the two. The realization that we are all human, all one race and one world brings us to the conclusion that we can all live together in empathy, peace, and with our chosen partner in marriage.








References

Columbia Law Review, April 1999. [Social Norms and Judicial Decision-making: Examining the Role of Narratives in Same-Sex Adoption Cases. Lexis-Nexis 3/27/01]

Eskridge, William Jr, The Case for Same-Sex Marriage, ( 1996). p. 96 The Free Press, New York

Graff , E.J. What is Marriage For?, 1996. [The Challenge of Same-Sex Marriage, Praeger Publishers, Connecticut 1999 p175]

Kendell, Kate. "The Right to Marry, the San Francisco Experience, and Lessons

Learned." In Defending Same-Sex Marriage, volume 1, "Separate Bu Equal" No

More, edited by Mark Strasser. West Port, CT: British Library Cataloguing, 2007.

"Marriage." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Retrieved from www.bartleby.com/61/. downloaded 10/02/2008

Meyer, Cheryl L.; "Legal, Psychological, and Medical Considerations in Lesbian Parenting," 2 Law & Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian & Gay Legal Issues 237 (1992)

Penrice, Ronda Racha (2007), African American History for Dummies, pp. 207-218. For Dummies, 2007

Sterkel, Alisa; "Psychosocial Develpment of Children of Lesbian Mothers," Gay & Lesbian Parents 75, 81 (Frederick W. Bozett, ed., 1987)

Sullivan, Andrew. The New Republic, 5/8/00. ["Why 'civil union' isn't marriage." http://www.indegayforum.org/articles/sullivan4.html downloaded 10/02/08]

U.S. Supreme Court, LOVING v. VIRGINIA, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), retrieved from http://laws.findlaw.com/us/388/1.html , downloaded 11/10/2008

United Nations General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, internet source, retrieved from http://un.org/Overview/rights.html , downloaded 11/02/2008

Zinn, Howard.(2005) A People's History of the United States 1492-Present pp 171-190. New

York: Perennial, 2005.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

ALL I CAN SAY IS

OH. MY. GOD.

read this if you dare...

And you know whats truly disturbing about it? I mean, aside from the bestiality, and believe me, that is a majorly disturbing issue here...it's the fact that even while he's in prison, this guy will have the right to get married, if he so chooses, to a woman should one be willing to marry him, yet Wifester and I still can't! That sick bastard gets more protection under the laws of our government than either of us two law abiding, tax paying, upstanding citizens.

I'm ready to vomit now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gay or Straight, Black or White - Marriage is A Civil Right!

photo by Wifester

The Wifester and I had a blast hanging out with fellow homos, fighting for our rights. The crowd was about 50/50 gay/straight. The ratio was nice and provided a rather eclectic group.
We were on the news and we were interviewed by the adorable and sweet Joey Leslie, of Out and About Newspaper, Nashville's gay news source.
And he took this wonderfuly sweet photo of us:

Photo by Joey Lewis, of Out and About Newspaper

It was chilly cold, and a bit rainy, but that didn't dampen our spirits! We marched around in front of the courthouse, chanting "What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? NOW!"

photo by Wifester

And then everyone decided to take it to the street, so we headed down to the curb side. We were greeted by honking horns, cheers, thumbs up and one homeless guy with a finger up, alright, but it wasn't the thumb. In fact, he was the one and only representative of any opposition. He went so far as to make a gesture that I suppose was his impression of Rambo, with a semi-automatic weapon let loose on us. But he staggered on down the road and finally left us alone when he realized that no one would engage his antics.
Some speakers spoke, some people shared their stories and experiences, and I felt proud to be part of a community that comes together like we do, even in the funky, windy, wet, cold weather like yesterday.
All in all there was about 200 people, or more. A good turnout for Nashville, and bad weather.
Here's a pretty cool video that Val, from Avalon Farmblog made.


I love being an activist! Wifester even got into it, I think I can get her to do some more of these.

Oh, in case you don't know, to all my fellow gays, December 10 will be A Day Without the Gays!

On December 10, 2008 the gay community will take a historic stance against hatred by calling in Gay, to work, and donating love, time, and energy to a variety of different causes. You are encouraged not to call in sick to work. You are encouraged to call in "gay"--and donate your time to service!

December 10, 2008 is International Human Rights Day. CLICK HERE to join the effort, and search or add to the list of human rights organizations that need our help RIGHT NOW.


That's some community action I can really get with.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Poem And a Reminder

it's called Bigotry's Great Divide please stop by and check it out, tell me what you think, but as the great Erykah Badu once said keep in mind, I'm an artist, and I'm sensitive about my shit! :)


NATIONAL PROTEST ACROSS COUNTRY
SATURDAY - NOVEMBER 15th


10:30 AM WEST COAST • 1:30 PM EAST COAST
It will occur across the country simultaneously.

CLICK HERE FOR RALLY IN CITY NEAR YOU!

Bigotry's Great Divide


Standing at the precipice of bigotry's great divide
I watch history unfold before me
Tears drown my eyes

No tears of joy for me this day
No Hollywood sunset to end this play
Do not be fooled by the hoopla
I say

For I have seen the Great Farce of a country swollen with pride
My fellow citizens chant "Liberty and Justice for All"
But the pertinent information
That always gets pushed aside
Is this"All" only applies
If you so happen subscribe
To a particular set of ideas, principals, and lies

Do not be fooled by this color blind election
I say
Because today, as much as yesterday
Hate lives in America
Hate breeds in her belly
His attention having shifted
From the color of our skin
To the choice of our mate
And I say
What worse way to hate
Than to stifle love?

Angela J. Schleicher © 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Epilepsy Awareness Month

Betcha didn't know it, but November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. That's why I'm wearing the purple ribbon. See it up there?
I was diagnosed with epilepsy in my early 20's and since then, life has been a roller coaster ride of finding a medication that controls my seizures without turning me into, well, one of these

I've had some pretty costly medical expenses, ambulance bills, hospital stays,
EEGs, CT scans, MRIs, you name it, they've done it to me. I even once had probes inserted into my jaws, just below my brain, so they could monitor my brainwaves in the temporal lobes, where my seizures seem to reside. All to find out that I am not a candidate for the surgery that many find relieves them from most of their seizures. So here I am, balancing medications, with cognitive functions. Balancing what I can do, with what I'm restricted from doing. Much like so many others out there with epilepsy. I'm not complaining. I'm just happy that today epilepsy is seen as the disease it is, rather than psychosis, mental retardation, or even demonic possession as it was in years past.

Did you know that the earliest references to epilepsy date back to the fifth millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia? That's a few years before Sarah
Palin believes that the earth was even created. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Priests unsuccessfully tried to cure people with epilepsy by exercising the "demons" out of them. Atreya of India and later Hippocrates, both of whom recognized a seizure as a dysfunction of the brain, challenged this absurdity of superstitious thought surrounding epilepsy. But the superstitions surrounding epilepsy continued for hundreds of years.

I actually feel a bit honored to be amongst a rather commendable group of other epileptics. You see, epileptic seizures historically, have suggested a relationship with creativity or unusual leadership abilities. Scholars have long studied evidence that prominent prophets and other holy men, political leaders, philosophers, artists and scientists, suffered from epilepsy.
According to Epilepsy.com, Aristotle was apparently the first to connect epilepsy and genius.



His catalog of "great epileptics" (which included Socrates) was added to during the Renaissance. Only people from Western culture were included, however. So strong was this tradition that even in the nineteenth century, when new names of "great epileptics" were added, they were rarely chosen from among people in other parts of the world. Working from this biased historical legacy, the famous people with epilepsy that we know about are primarily white males.

Eve
LaPlante in her book Seized writes that the abnormal brain activity found in temporal lobe (complex partial) epilepsy plays a role in creative thinking and the making of art. Neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Spiers says:

"Sometimes the same things that cause epilepsy result in giftedness. If you damage an area [of the brain] early enough in life, the corresponding area on the other side has a chance to overdevelop."

We know that epilepsy involves temporary bursts of excessive electrical activity in different locations in the brain, locations which house our bodily sensations and functions as well as our memories and emotions. Psychiatrist Dr. David Bear states that the abnormal brain activity found in temporal lobe epilepsy can play a role in creative thinking and the making of art by uniting sensitivity, insight and sustained, critical attention. According to Dr. Bear:

"A temporal lobe focus in the superior individual may spark an extraordinary search for that entity we alternately call truth or beauty."

What is also clear in the discussion of genius and epilepsy is that some of the most famous people in history had seizures. People with epilepsy have excelled in every area.
The list of famous authors and playwrights whom historians believe had epilepsy is a bit overwhelming. It includes: Dante, the author of The Divine Comedy, who is not only Italy's pre-eminent poet but one of the towering figures of Western literature; Moliere, the master comic dramatist of the eighteenth century whose plays Tartuffe, The Imaginary Invalid and The Misanthrope are still being regularly performed today; Sir Walter Scott, one of the foremost literary figures of the romantic period whose books like Ivanhoe and Waverley remain widely read classics; the 18th century English satirist Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels; the nineteenth century American author Edgar Allan Poe; as well as three of the greatest English Romantic poets, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Charles Dickens, the Victorian author of such classic books as A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist had epilepsy, as did several of the characters in his books. The medical accuracy of Dickens's descriptions of epilepsy has amazed the doctors who read him today.


Lewis Carroll, in his famous stories Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, was probably writing about his own temporal lobe seizures. The very sensation initiating Alice' adventures- that of falling down a hole- is a familiar one to many people with seizures. Alice often feels that her own body (or the objects around her) is shrinking or growing before her eyes, another seizure symptom. Carroll recorded his seizures, which were followed by prolonged headaches and feeling not his usual self, in his journal.

From his writings we know a lot about the epilepsy of the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, author of such classics as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, who is considered by many to have brought the Western novel to the peak of its possibilities.

Dostoevsky had his first seizure at age nine. After a remission which lasted up to age 25, he had seizures every few days or months, fluctuating between good and bad periods. His ecstatic auras occurring seconds before his bigger seizures were moments of transcendent happiness, which then changed to an anguished feeling of dread. He saw a blinding flash of light, then would cry out and lose consciousness for a second or two. Sometimes the epileptic discharge generalized across his brain, producing a secondary tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure. Afterward he could not recall events and conversations that had occurred during the seizure, and he often felt depressed, guilty and irritable for days. Epilepsy is a central source of themes, personalities, and events in his books; he gave epilepsy to about 30 of his characters.

The other great nineteenth century Russian author, Count Leo Tolstoy, author of Anna Karenina and War and Peace, also had epilepsy.

Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia about 2,300 years ago and one of the greatest generals in history, had epilepsy. At the time epilepsy was known as "the sacred disease" because of the belief that those who had seizures were possessed by evil spirits or touched by the gods and should be treated by invoking mystical powers.

Julius Caesar, another brilliant general and formidable politician, had seizures in the last two years of his life, possibly caused by a brain tumour. Caesar was known to have fallen convulsing into the River Tiber. By this time, epilepsy had become known as "the falling sickness" because the kind of seizures that made a person lose consciousness and fall down were the only kind then recognized as epilepsy. (Complex partial seizures were not recognized until the middle of the nineteenth century.) Human blood was widely regarded by the Romans as having curative powers, and people with epilepsy in Caesar's time were commonly seen sucking blood from fallen gladiators.
Napoleon Bonaparte was probably the most brilliant military figure in history. He too is known to have had epilepsy.

Another extraordinary leader of a very different time and place was Harriet Tubman, the black woman with epilepsy who led hundreds of her fellow slaves from the American South to freedom in Canada on the Underground Railroad. Tubman developed her seizure disorder through sustaining a head injury: her slave master hit her in the head with a rock.


Saint Paul's seizure-like experiences are the best documented of the major religious figures. On the road to Damascus he saw a bright light flashing around him, fell to the ground and was left temporarily blinded by his vision and unable to eat or drink. Paul is thought by some physicians to have had facial motor and sensitive disturbances coming after ecstatic seizures; they have diagnosed him with temporal lobe epilepsy which occasionally developed into secondary tonic-
clonic attacks.

Joan of Arc was an uneducated farmer's daughter in a remote village of medieval France who altered the course of history through her amazing military victories. From age thirteen Joan reported ecstatic moments in which she saw flashes of light coming from the side, heard voices of saints and saw visions of angels.

In the opinion of the neurologist Dr. Lydia Bayne, Joan's blissful experiences "in which she felt that the secrets of the universe were about to be revealed to her"- were seizures, and they were triggered by the ringing of church bells. Joan displayed symptoms of a temporal lobe focus epilepsy: specifically, a musicogenic form of reflex epilepsy with an ecstatic aura. Musicogenic epilepsy is generally triggered by particular music which has an emotional significance to the individual. Joan's voices and visions propelled her to become an heroic soldier in the effort to save France from English domination and led to her martyrdom in 1431, burned at the stake as a heretic when she was 19 years old.

Soren Kierkegaard, the brilliant Danish philosopher and religious thinker considered to be the father of existentialism, worked hard at keeping his epilepsy secret.

In the fine arts, Vincent van Gogh is today probably the most widely known and appreciated artist with epilepsy. "The storm within" was how van Gogh described his typical seizure, which consisted of hallucinations, unprovoked feelings of anger, confusion and fear, and floods of early memories that disturbed him because they were outside his control.



Van Gogh also had convulsive seizures; a hospital worker witnessed Vincent having one while painting outside. He was prescribed potassium bromide as an anticonvulsant and ordered to spend countless hours bathing in tubs at the asylum in Saint-Remy. His most troubling seizures peaked with his greatest art in the south of France, where he painted A Starry Night, the extraordinary Self-Portrait, and the famous Crows in the Wheatfields.

There have been a number of prominent composers and musicians with epilepsy. George Frederick Handel, the famous baroque composer of the Messiah, is one. Niccolo Paganini is another. Paganini was an Italian violinist and composer considered by many to be the greatest violinist of all time. The eminent Russian composer of the ballets Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, Peter Tchaikovsky, is believed to have had epilepsy. Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the greatest masters of music, may have had epilepsy as well.

Modern writers who had epilepsy include: Dame Agatha Christie, the leading British writer of mystery novels, and Truman Capote, American author of In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Modern actors with epilepsy include Richard Burton, Michael Wilding, Margaux Hemingway and Danny Glover.

On second thought, boy oh boy, that sure puts the pressure on me to be brilliant. Oh well, I can be one of the not so fabulous epileptics that achieved mediocrity in full force.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'll Be Looking for You!

"We cannot accept the view that Amendment 2's prohibition on specific legal protections does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability on those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint"
        -Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in the decision overturning Colorado's Amendment 2 referendum




So keeping with the theme of my outrage over the same sex marriage issue, I wanted to let you know about a Marriage Equality Rally that will be happening this Saturday, in front of the Metro Courthouse, downtown at 12:30. So far, local organizations supporting marriage equality and equal rights include:
-Lipstick Lounge
-Hustler on Church st
-TN Equality Project
-Americans United for Seperation of Church and State www.au.org

for more info about the Rally, click here.

I am hoping to gather up some more support and some more bodies to stand in solidarity with us to tell our government that marriage is a right, and to prevent people who love each other that right is standing in the way of their pursuit of happiness.

The Arguments:

Marriage is an institution between one man and one woman.
UGH! This is the most often heard argument, and the one that is getting the states' constitutions re-written to re-define marriage as one man, one woman. But as I am exploring in my research paper, Who says what marriage is and by whom it is to be defined? The married? The marriable? Webster's Dictionary? As one essay I recently read on gay marriage said, " Isn't that kind of like allowing a banker to decide who is going to own the money stored in his vaults? It seems to me that justice demands that if the straight community cannot show a compelling reason to deny the institution of marriage to gay people, it shouldn't be denied. And such simple, nebulous declarations, with no real moral argument behind them, are hardly compelling reasons. They're really more like an expression of prejudice than any kind of a real argument. The concept of not denying people their rights unless you can show a compelling reason to deny them is the very basis of the American ideal of human rights."

Gay relationships are immoral.
Again, we need to ask, " Says who?" The Bible? Well, this is precisely the reason that our founding fathers included that pesky little clause, you know the one, tacked in the First Amendment, it discusses freedom of religion. That doesn't just mean you can practice whatever religion you wish, it also means you have the right to freedom from religion as well. The Bible has absolutely no standing in American law, as was made clear by the intent of the First Amendment (and as was very explicitly stated by the founding fathers in their first treaty, the Treaty of Tripoli, in 1791) and because it doesn't, no one has the right to impose rules anyone else simply because of something they percieve to be a moral injunction mandated by the Bible. Not all world religions have a problem with homosexuality; many sects of Buddhism, for example, celebrate gay relationships freely and would like to have the authority to make them legal marriages. In that sense, their religious freedom is being infringed. If one believes in religious freedom, the recognition that opposition to gay marriage is based on religious arguments is reason enough to discount this argument.

Same-sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage.
I've got 5 words for you: Cher, Larry King, and Brittney Spears.
Threaten marriage? By allowing people to marry? This one is laughable. If it is the stability of the institution of heterosexual marriage that worries you, then consider that no one would ever require you or anyone else to participate in a gay marriage. You would still have freedom of choice, of choosing which kind of marriage to participate in -- something more than what you have now. And speaking of divorce -- imagine how the divorce rate could drop if gay people stopped trying heteresexual marriage because that's what's expected of them, only to end in divorce because they have to be true to themselves and their sexuality. To argue that the institution of marriage is worth preserving at the cost of requiring involuntary participants to remain in it is a better argument for reforming divorce laws than proscribing gay marriage.

And the one that got Prop. 8 passed in California:

Gay marriage would force churches to marry gay couples when they have a moral objection to doing so.

Just like in CA, this argument is usually advanced by churches that oppose gay marriage. To be blunt, it is a big fat lie. There is nothing in any marriage law, existing or proposed, anywhere in the United States, that does or would have the effect of requiring any church to marry any couple they do not wish to marry. Churches already have the right to refuse any couple they wish, and for any reason that suits them. Many often do. Some churches continue to refuse to marry interracial couples, others interreligious couples, and a few refuse couples with large age disparities and for numerous other reasons. Gay marriage would not change any church's right to refuse to sanctify any marriage entirely as they wish - it would simply offer churches the opportunity to legally marry gay couples if they wish, as some have expressed the desire to do - the freedom of religion would actually be expanded, not contracted.


Soap box removed, Fortune Cookies climbing down.
I hope to see you Saturday, in front of the Metro Courthouse.
I'll be holding a poster, look for me!