Sunday, January 27, 2008

Let your hair down

This song makes me wish I was a girl with long hair and records.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I'm totally diggin' Pandora right now. It's a great free music listening site. After a free and ad free sign up, you start identifying artists that you like. Pandora then plays songs by that artist and similar artists. You're allowed to rate the songs as they come on, the more you rate the more you tailor the music. Also, adding more than one artist allows you to create "stations" that play a mix of music you like. Very cool and very free. How is this different than other internet radio you ask? Well, you certainly have more control over what you listen to and there are no commercials ever, unless you count staring at the website, but all you have to do is create another tab in your browser and let Pandora play in the background.


Monday, January 14, 2008


I was at a workshop today with librarians from all over northern Indiana. We'd come together to view the best children's books of the year and to pick a "winner" from out of all of them. I got up to stretch my legs and take a break and so I walked out into the hallway. I said to hello to one of my fellow librarians who was out in the hallway and it took her by surprise. She had a flight or fight response moment and did a nervous laugh. I said something like needing a break from all of the books and she said "yeah and probably from all those women too. Now you know what it feels like to be a minority." I looked at her for a moment and then said "I've had that feeling my whole life, trust me I know what it feels like." It took her a moment to realize what I meant and she avoided me the rest of the day.


I saw a great show on dogs on PBS the other night. It was about the origin of man's best friend and it made me think about all of those fundamentalists who want to teach Intelligent Design in school. Scientist know that dogs and wolves are pretty much the same animal, they can breed and create viable offspring. However, it is the dogs ability to co-exist with man that sets it apart. How did we dogs from wolves?

There was a segment on Russian foxes being raised for all of you fur coat lovers out there. The farmers wanted a kinder gentler fox (who was willing to unzip himself from his coat and hand it over I guess) so they got a geneticist to breed for this behavior. He picked the foxes that showed the most tolerance towards humans and bred them. He did this repeatedly over several generations and as the foxes became friendlier they started changing physically. Their fur began to change color and their ears started to fold down. Soon these foxes were even responding to names.

This experiment reinforces the idea that it was the more tolerant wolves that became dogs, possibly within one human lifespan (that's pretty fast), and why dogs can still breed with wolves, but get along with humans. I know this isn't definite proof of Evolution, but come on you doubters, something is happening here.


I was walking through Farmer's Market the other day with Gloria and my brother, his wife, and their baby. I was disappointed that the meat guys weren't there. I don't know their names but I'm not talking about the Italian deli folks or the poultry people. I'm talking about the butchers who have that corner display. Anyway, I was upset because they didn't have the headcheese out. Headcheese is one of those old school things that once it disappears, we've lost a connection to the past. If you haven't had headcheese, you should go out this weekend and buy some. It makes a great sandwich.

And speaking of the Farmer's Market, Gloria and I hit that giant one out there in Elkhart and we were not impressed. Where were all of the farmers? It was like an Amish Walmart or something. There were tons of crafts and hokey health remedies, there was a food court (Buffalo burgers), and stands that sold "stuff". Maybe a couple of produce stands and a couple of butchers, everything else was cholesterol for your life. I know what you're thinking, the South Bend Farmer's Market has a bunch of stuff sellers too, but come on, you have a beautiful new facility and you're going to fill it with flea market/festival crap? We didn't see the greatness that others see. Sorry.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Did I scare you?

K, Gloria thinks I may have scared some a ya good folks with that last post. I think Tay is weird, but that's ok. I totally dig what he represents, not his "talent", but that anyone can broadcast themselves across the netverse. This guy has been seen by millions of people, got a Dr. Pepper deal, has been interviewed on t.v., all because he is BRAVE enough to share his unique talent with the world.

Don't hate. It isn't healthy.

I'm thinking of starting a new blog (instead of screwing around with my Youtube account) where I post all of the videos I find quirky, fun, brave, etc. There are alot of folks out there with unique talent that aren't picked up by the mainstream media. I'd like to do my small part and expand their borders beyond Youtube. I don't know when I'll do this, but it should happen within the month.

Monday, January 07, 2008

God given right!

I love Youtube. I love it. People like this guy get to do their thing, and if they're lucky, find a bit of fame.

To paraphrase Shelby from "Hustle & Flow": Every man has got the God damned right contribute a verse.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Michael, Row the Boat Ashore

DDL has been posting pix of churches on his blog after he started thinking of them as vessels; ships that transport the soul to some other place. In an earlier post on my own blog I mentioned that I might have a response. I thought I was close to one, but I'm still not satisfied with it. I guess I was looking to the vessel idea to help me somehow shape my own memories into something worthy of being read. But the more I try to write about my childhood church experience, the more I find myself being distracted by some other memory; some other story to tell.

I don't have a reason not to write about my experience. I wasn't molested by a priest or beaten by nuns. I wasn't trapped under a statue of the Virgin Mary and scarred for life. My experience is nothing like that. I loved going to church every Sunday and being surrounded by smiling faces. The atmosphere was so clean and calm. Sure, there were many Sundays that I was bored out of my gourd listening to the priest give his homily in broken Spanish. I didn't understand what he was saying most of the time, figuratively and literally. But I had so many good times.

I loved the Sundays when babies where baptized because after the baby was presented to the parish, we all got to clap. Most of the time we had to be quiet in church, but on this occasion, we got to make noise. And for a kid like me, making noise was great. I also loved the Sundays when my mom, who was a Guadalupana (some magical order of superwomen, kind of like the Superfriends I think) was in charge of serving coffee and pan dulce in the church basement for one reason or another. That usually meant I'd be in the basement before mass ended, and as we walked down the side aisle, I'd grin at the kids who had to stay in church longer than me. I also got first pick of the sweet bread.

What I loved most of all about going to Mass on Sunday was going to my Grandfather's house afterward. Most folks have family reunions on Holidays or summertime, for us it was every Sunday. We'd feast on peasant food: tortillas, frijoles, huevos, cafe and spend the rest of the day celebrating life. My grandfather would tell us stories both fantastic and heart-breaking. If it was a hot day, we'd all pile into a couple of vehicles and head to the beach. Sometimes we'd walk down to Pulaski park and pick blackberries and come back home with purple everything. Most Sundays, all the cousins played until dark, until we smelled like sweat and dirt, and our throat were sore from shouting.

About 6 years ago, a long time after cynicism had set in and religion (Religion is the opiate of the people! and all that) was nothing but a phase, I was told by mother that St. Stephen's was going to close. Not only was it going to close, but it was going to be knocked down. I gave a shrug; c'est la vie. Sometime after that, Gloria and I were driving through the west side of town and as we drove down Western Avenue I happened to glance over at the church and realized I could no longer spot the steeple from over the trees. I slowed down and drove towards the church and saw a wrecking ball. I had never seen one in real life and the scene took on a surreal feel. They were knocking down the church. Memories flooded my mind and I sat there dumb founded.

The church was cordoned off, workers in orange work vests and yellow hard hats swarming the site, the wrecking ball made slow, sweet arcs. Others had stopped to look also. Some took pictures and some took video and some took bricks. Kids who had never attended that church rode by on bicycles or played tag in the dust that filled their street. The first feeling I felt was anger. I wanted to jump out of my truck and run up the wrecking ball operator and pull him out of the cabin of that destructive machine. I wanted to take peoples cameras and smash them on the ground. I wanted all of those silly kids to see what was happening. My happy Sundays were being wiped out one swing at a time. A whole childhood spent creating memories wiped out in a couple of hours.

As the church fell, I was pushed over the line I'd drawn for myself. From being agnostic to nothing. No religion. Until that day I had secretly desired to return to the church after my long absence. I wanted my children to attend Sunday Mass like I did. I wanted my kids to be baptized there so I could fill that old church with clapping again; I wanted my kids to make their first communions there, for my boys to be altar boys like me, and for my girls to have their quinceneras in that place.

A crucial part of my identity was formed there. A lot of what is good in me comes from those Sundays. To be Mexican was to grow up Catholic. Now I wouldn't even have a place to show my kids were I came from. Now they would grow up that much more removed from their Mexican selves.

As you can tell from my writing I was becoming irrational. After I slowed myself down a bit I realized that what I was really reacting to was the fear of loss. I needed to take a long look deep inside and make peace with the fact that I would not get to relive those days. Everyday I got further away from those good times, everyday I was getting further and further away from the present. I needed to grieve the end of my childhood.

I wish I could tell you that this whole experience made me Catholic again. It hasn't even made me agnostic again. After much introspection I came to realize that my time spent in the church was about making others happy. Coming to church every Sunday put a smile on the priests face, making my first communion put a smile on my mother's face, becoming an altar boy put a smile on my grandfather's face. And all of those things put a smile on my face. For one day a week it was all smiles and life was good, the rest of the week I was reminded how poor we were. The rest of the week I was witness to my mother's suffering as she tried to make ends meet, I was reminded of what a loser my father was, hunger of all types was a constant. On Sunday...opiate of the people indeed.

I can tell you though that I believe. I believe in the power of faith. I believe in the power of belief. My mother's faith in God got us through those tough times that many others fall victim to. I am not a victim. I am a believer in the power that each of us holds.

So DDL, yeah, churches are vessels. They're filled with passengers hoping to arrive to some kind of paradise. These passengers believe in their captain, believe in his power to look towards the heavens and navigate them to their destination. These churches float on faith and fill their sails with optimism.

I bid them bon voyage with both feet planted firmly on terra firma. I hope they find what they are looking for.