“Angels in America”

Despite the fact we live in the South and despite the fact we live in a rural area, we are very blessed with the amount of art venues here in WNC. From Flat Rock Playhouse to the Diana Wortham Theatre to the Southern Highland Craft Guild, we are far from being unsophisticated hicks.

I’ve just had the pleasure of seeing both parts of the fabulous play, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes written by Tony Kushner. We saw the first part (Millennium Approaches) 2 weeks ago and the second half (Perestroika) tonight. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. We went to NC Stage where our friend Michael MacCauley played the role of Roy Cohn. He did an excellent job of pretending to be a bastard!

We were warned by notices on the doors that there would be vulgar language, sexual themes, and nudity as well as fog machine and strobe lights. We were prepared for most of it. Let me just say it was the first time I’ve seen a penis in many, many years. The first night, it was in full view but luckily across the stage. Tonight, however, it was much closer but turned away (hairy male butt instead!).

The first night was much more serious, very defining in who the characters were and set up the time frame. The 80s were rough and ugly. We homosexuals sometimes think we have not gained much. I say see this play and you’ll remember your roots and the people who went before us. AIDS/HIV took far too many beautiful people and still does. We may not yet be able to marry the person we love but at least we are not still dying like rats with spit on our faces, surrounded by latex and fear.

Tonight’s show was rather funny. Even I laughed out loud, something I rarely do during a live stage performance. It was still deadly serious but the irony and satire flowed. There was a hint of hope, much more than in the first. AZT was just starting trials. The world as a whole was maturing ever so slightly.

If you have not seen this play (it is very long, both parts were roughly 3.5 hrs each), I urge you to do so. Angels in America was made into a a TV mini-series on HBO. If you can get your hands on a copy, watch it. Get a group together. Watch it. Pause often and talk about it. At the end, talk some more. Then go find your local HIV/AIDS group and offer them support. Time, money, both.

Here in WNC we have Western North Carolina AIDS Project (WNCAP). They are the creators of an awareness campaign called “I Need U 2 Know” which is to educate and fight the stereotypes and stigma that still follows this disease. In 1989 I took part in a ‘train the trainer’ session through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in NJ. We learned about a relatively new concept called universal precautions. We covered privacy laws, myths and facts about HIV/AIDS, just what the heck HIV/AIDS is and what the difference is between them. Then we learned how to educate others. My job was to educate my co-workers. Rumors were running rampant and I had the wonderful task of attempting to straighten out the mess. It wasn’t easy and I am sure there were many who let the information just go right by. Telling them they were at greater risk of hepatitis than HIV was futile. Telling them that the AIDS virus was easily killed with a 10% bleach solution while hepatitis remained confused them. Telling them that they were not going to be told which, if any, of our clients had HIV/AIDS nearly got me punched. It wasn’t their fault. The media wasn’t helping any. This thing had been around for less than a decade and it was still very unknown.

I digress like I always do.

It was a wonderful, thought provoking play that took Lorna and I down several memory lanes.

Time Change and Batteries

It’s that time of year again. Time to reset all the clocks. I can never remember which way it goes and the rhyme to help folks remember doesn’t make sense to me so each time I have to look it up.

Daylight Savings Time is when we set our clocks an hour FORWARD. So what was 10am yesterday is 11am today. Which means we lose an hour. Or something like that. A few years ago, the US changed the day that this happened and it caused minor chaos with some computer systems. Kinda like Y2K but on a miniature scale. I know my PC wouldn’t change the time until it was the original day to do so. Annoying as heck.

Our bedroom clock is ‘atomic’ and sets itself (most of the time). All 3 computers set themselves. So do our cell phones and even our iPod Touch. But, alas, our vehicle clocks do not and now we go through the dance of remembering how to set them.

Also, to further the Public Service Announcement, I want to remind you to change the batteries on your smoke alarms and CO2 alarms. Don’t have them? GO GET THEM. Today. Are they hard wired? Push the test button. Go over your fire drill plans. If you have emergency food or disaster grab bags (and really, you should), go through them and change out the food and update the information.

(As a side note, WTF is up with Red Cross site’s URLs? That makes it soooooo freakin’ user friendly, don’t it?)

Kindle vs the ADA

In a round-a-bout way, Kindle just got smacked by the US Govmint. Hopefully they (Amazon.com) will start listening to the complaints they’ve had since the Kindle was first released. But then, a lot of the ebook readers have fallen short of the accessibility issues.

(bolding and underlining of the paragraph is my doing)

Justice Department Reaches Three Settlements Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Regarding the Use of Electronic Book Readers

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced separate agreements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Pace University in New York City and Reed College in Portland, Ore., regarding the use in a classroom setting of the electronic book reader, the Kindle DX, a hand-held technological device that simulates the experience of reading a book.

Under the agreements reached today, the universities generally will not purchase, recommend or promote use of the Kindle DX, or any other dedicated electronic book reader, unless the devices are fully accessible to students who are blind and have low vision. The universities agree that if they use dedicated electronic book readers, they will ensure that students with vision disabilities are able to access and acquire the same materials and information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use. The agreements that the Justice Department reached with these universities extend beyond the Kindle DX to any dedicated electronic reading device.

(…)

A handful of universities participated in a pilot project in cooperation with Amazon.com Inc. to test the viability of the Kindle DX in a classroom setting. The terms of the Justice Department’s agreement with each university become effective at the end of the pilot projects.

The current model of the Kindle DX has the capability to read texts aloud, so that the materials would be accessible to blind individuals, but the device does not include a similar text-to-speech function for the menu and navigational controls. Without access to the menus, students who are blind have no way to know which book they have selected or how to access the Kindle DX Web browser or its other functions. The technological “know how” to make navigational controls or menu selections accessible is available.

Other universities, such as Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, also examined the utility of the Kindle DX as a teaching device and decided that they would not use the Kindle DX until it is accessible to blind individuals.

(source)

Breast Cancer Walk

My brother’s mother-in-law, a wonderful woman named Betty, is doing the Breast Cancer Three Day Walk again. She says in her email:

Yes, I’m doing it again – I signed up for the 2009 Breast Cancer 3-Day! I had such an incredible experience doing the 3-Day last year that I’m going back for more. I’m so excited about this event, even though this year I really know what I’ve gotten myself into.

This event isn’t easy, but I promise you, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t believe 100% that it was worth every muscle ache, weary night and training walk!

And her page on the walk site:

I MUST walk again this year to honor my beautiful daughter, Karen. I again must honor her love, her positive attitude, her wisdom, her courage, her dignity her strength, her humor, and her unquestionable faith in God. Karen continues to fight metastatic breast cancer (liver and bones) daily since being diagnosed at the age of 26. She refuses to give up hope in her personal battle and encourages others to give it all they’ve got. We can only hope and pray that researchers can find a cure for this devastating disease. PLEASE, PLEASE HELP ME in my journey.

So, if you’d like to contribute toward Betty’s fundraising, you can visit her 3 Day Walk donation page. Feel free to tell her Paula sent you.

Gaza Mess

I do not profess to be a learned woman, especially about politics. I know some history, but not much. High school civics class was over 25 years ago. I’ve slept a lot since then and my brain has deleted old stuff like that to make room for newer, more important stuff. Like humorous stuff.

So it should come as no surprise that I have learned some history today from a humor site, Mighty Wombat.

1/5/2009 – New toon is up early. Enjoy. I think I’m recovering from December. The delay is all my mom’s fault. She gave me CoD World at War, and I’ve been playing that instead of drawing silly pictures.

On a more serious note, a couple of folks have sent me emails asking me to sign petitions to get the Israelis to stop whooping butt all over Gaza. So I feel I must sound off.

So listen, and listen close. Firstly, Israel does not give two poops about on line petitions, let alone petitions signed by cartoonists. Secondly, let’s explore the situation from a different perspective, shall we…

What if the people of Mexico elected a government that ran on a “Death to America” platform, then starting firing hundreds of rockets into Texas?

How long do you think the USA would sit on it’s hands before it sent the Army south? Israel waited two months.

No, after day 1 the US Army would be playing catch-up to the Texas National Guard, the Greater Dallas Rod & Gun Club, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and ten-thousand other pissed off Americans.

So please, keep your petitions to yourselves. I have enough to worry about.

Amen, Wombat, amen.