Monday, March 31, 2008

Jericho: The Producers are Pumping Iron!

As I stated in my interview on Jericho Monster, from all of my experience in the entertainment industry and in business, I do not believe Jericho is dead in the water if the producing team wants to keep it swimming.

Good news, Jericho fans: the producing team is pumping iron and practicing their strokes!

Here is a recent post on the CBS Jericho message board from the producing team:

The Awesome Fans of Jericho,

What a wild week…. It has been both heartbreaking and exciting for all of us.

Heartbreaking that the show was canceled.

Exciting that everyone is rallying to find us a new home.

The response we've been getting through the mail and on the boards is so moving… We are so proud of these 7 episodes and want to do whatever it takes to keep telling this story for you.

Your dedication and drive continues to blow our minds. We want to thank everyone, specifically Shaun O Mac for being the voice of the Jericho fandom, Schumi for guiding everyone with your kind heart, General Patton for assembling the troops… and so many others that are working so hard. I promise you it isn't going unnoticed by the producers, cast, crew and studio.

This show has made TV history in so many ways… and we are doing everything in our power to help find a new way to show you how Jake, Hawkins and gang lead their way through the Next American Civil War.

Much love from your team,

Jon, Carol, Karim, Dan, the writers, cast and crew of Jericho


Letter to Senators Leahy and Dodd


Dear Senators Leahy and Dodd:

People often address letters to United States Senators using the term "Honorable" before the word Senator. To me, honor is something a person displays through a keen sense of ethical behavior and integrity of character.

Your call for Senator Hillary Clinton to resign the Democratic primary race before all American voters have had their opportunity to cast their vote for their own personal choice on who they want to see be the next Democratic candidate for president is less than honorable as a citizen of the United States, but most especially less than honorable as a United States Senator.

I live in a state that has yet to hold their Democratic primary election. And to the best of my knowledge 6 other states have yet to hold theirs. And a solution has yet to be found on how the votes of the American citizens living in the states of Michigan and Florida are going to be included in this election.

As a United States Senator you should be fighting for my vote to be counted.

As a United States Senator you should be fighting for my vote to be MY vote NOT YOUR VOTE.

As an American citizen, I am appalled by your actions in regard to this matter.

I am appalled that you are not fighting for the voters of Michigan and Florida to be counted.

I am appalled that you are part of a process willing to punish 2 entire voting bases because a smaller number of people in leadership positions made some very bad decisions -- and that includes Howard Dean and Barack Obama.

I am appalled that you are working to manipulate this election process.

Honorable is not a title I can write in front of your names.

Disappointed in your actions,

Citizen of the United States of America

Sunday, March 30, 2008

12,368


All day long I've been trying to write a blog about the brutal, barbaric, horrific, and disgusting seal "hunt" taking place in Canada right now. As my eyes well up with tears and my stomach turns, I realize I have no words to adequately express my feelings.

The actions of the humans grossly killing the baby seals and the actions of the people within the government of Canada who make the decision to continue to allow this gawd awful event are equal in nature. And both carry no honor, no excuse, and absolutely no justification.

The brutal killing of defenseless baby seals is no more of a "hunt" than the slaughter of the bison that step just outside of Yellowstone Park or the aerial killings of wolves in Alaska. These actions are not a hunt and should never be qualified as such.

The image I have carried in my mind all day is from the movie Bless the Beasts and the Children. The bludgeoning of the baby seals, the slaughter of the bison, and the extermination of the wolves is no more of a hunt than rounding them all up into a pen and brutally killing them one by one would be considered a hunt.

12,368 seals have been brutally killed since yesterday morning.

Take action...PLEASE take action.

For more information on how you can stand up for the protection of the baby seals in Canada, please visit www.hsus.org.

Thank you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I Miss Walter Cronkite

For my own sanity, stepping away this past week from the political news coverage has been refreshing. While I remain enthused and dedicated to the positive change, I believe, this election can bring our country, I am also saddened by the extent to which news writers and anchors have become manipulative in their profession. Manipulative speech is nothing new within the big network news players, but when I see it creep into local news delivery, I feel sick in my heart. Words are powerful tools in the right hands. I believe it was Walter Cronkite who used to be labeled the most trusted man in America.

Can we or would we say that about any of the news anchors now? Even those on our own small town news broadcasts?

Where has integrity in the delivery of news gone in our country?

Word choice and usage is extremely important when writing objective news.

When I hear a news anchor deliver the phrase "Hillary Clinton jabbed Barack Obama by..." immediately followed with "Obama responded by..." I lose respect for the integrity of the news delivered by that station. I instantly feel manipulated and that the leadership, writers and anchors of that news broadcast have a personal agenda and it is not to deliver the news with objectivity.

Los Angeles, CA based Eric Spillman of KTLA's early morning news used those words the other day while reporting on Hillary's answer to a question she was asked while campaigning. EXCEPT, Spillman did not include in his report that Hillary was answering a question about how she would have handled the Jeremiah Wright situation if he had been her pastor, instead Spillman's news report made it seem as though Hillary was "jabbing" Barack in a campaign speech. And then went on to make it seem that Barack "responded" in a calm, diplomatic way.

Once a faithful and loyal viewer of KTLA's morning show, I am no longer. This type of reporting is disrespectful, lacks honor, and unfortunately, casts a dark shadow over all of the other anchors and reporting at KTLA.

Sadly, KTLA is not unique to this type of manipulative reporting. News stations all over our country have lost objectivity and responsibility within their profession.

I remember the evening news being an important part of my parent's day when I was growing up. That tradition continued in my life for many years. I grew up watching Walter Cronkite. Occasionally, the channel would be changed to Harry Reasoner or John Chancellor, but most every night, it was Walter Cronkite.

Tom Brokaw was my news anchor of choice for a number of years also.

While I find Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, and Brian Williams all personally appealing, I have lost so much respect for the general profession of news reporting I rarely ever turn on the evening news anymore. And with the way the news media in general has handled this election process, I find myself using the Internet to educated myself on the news.

I miss Walter Cronkite.

I miss feeling trust for the people that deliver news.

I miss watching the news.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jericho: The Talented Speak

Two special items from the CBS Jericho fansite I wanted to share:

First, this spectacular movie poster created by a Jericho fan who goes by the moniker, Rubberpoultry. He did such a terrific job I felt more people needed to see it and wanted to promote his work. The designer is offering free downloads of the poster and you will find instructions for doing so by clicking here.

Second, here is a copy of the message Brad Beyer (Stanley Richmond) just posted on the same CBS Jericho fan site. Very gracious words from a remarkably fine actor.

To all the fans of Jericho,

Thank you so much for all of your love, support and for getting us a season 2. You were the heart and soul of the show. I'll never forget my experience playing Stanley on Jericho, it has been the highlight of my career. I've enjoyed meeting some of you and talking to some of you on Shaun's show. I have never had an experience so personal with the fans, it has been amazing. Thanks again.

With love,

Brad Beyer

Jericho Finale: Nothing Feels Right

So...

Jericho's CBS series finale has now come and gone.

While I am sure some people may be satisfied with the story that aired, I am not.

I feel cheated.

I feel like I was in the stands for a world series game with the every star player stepping up to bat except they were being pitched wiffle balls.

So much talent packed into a stadium and someone decides to short change their performance by taking away a vital piece of equipment and replacing it with cheap plastic balls filled with holes.

Jericho was packed with talent -- from the producers to the writers to the cast to the crew.

As I watched the finale I found myself struggling to stay in the moment, to appreciate what was playing out before me. My thoughts kept traveling down the path of all the things that just didn't feel right.

The Friends finale felt right.

The MASH finale felt right.

The Seinfeld finale felt right (odd, but right).

The Cosby Show finale felt right.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show finale felt right.

Nothing felt right about the Jericho finale.

And that is because the story lines and the characters still had so much farther to go.

OK, the horrible product placement of the Sprint phone didn't help either. As a consumer, the shot of the Sprint phone backfired on me. I did not appreciate that blatant incorporation of a sponsor's product into the story line. If Sprint's advertising contract included a form of product placement, a more creative shot may have blended in with the story line and been less intrusive. And to have held that shot on screen for such a long period of time...well, as a filmmaker, that cheapened the quality of the production for me. It felt like a plastic ball with holes in it had just been pitched to a major league baseball star. Jericho's incredibly talented production crew and actors deserved better than that. And so did the audience.

Jericho was one of the most intelligent, finely written, brilliantly acted, and expertly produced series on television.

All the stars were in the stadium, the game was being played, and then someone cut the game off in the middle of the second inning and told everyone to go home.

Huh? Go home?

Wait a minute there's still 7 1/2 innings yet to play in this game.

No wonder nothing feels right.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Legacy of Bart the Bear

As a member of the Board of Advisors of The Vital Ground Foundation, I invite you to learn about this wonderful non-profit organization by first learning about the inspiration for its beginning, Bart the Bear and its founders, Doug and Lynne Seus. Please enjoy this video and then take additional action by visiting Vital Ground's website to learn more about the importance of grizzly bears as an umbrella species.

Thank you.



from www.youtube.composted with vodpod

Monday, March 24, 2008

Jericho: The Numbers Game


The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Eight years after its release, this film is funnier, smarter, and more timely than ever.

In the movie, Rocky & Bullwinkle work with new FBI agent, Karen Sympathy (Piper Perabo) to prevent Rocky & Bullwinkle's arch enemies, Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro), Natasha (Rene Ruso) and Boris (Jason Alexander), from accomplishing their dastardly plan to hypnotize America using RBTV (Really Bad Television), thus creating mindless human beings, which will allow Fearless Leader to go on TV and get everyone to vote for him as President of the United States of America.

I'll focus on Fearless Leader's tactics to get everyone to vote for him as President in another blog, but for this blog, my subject is RBTV (Really Bad Television or in today's terms, Reality Bad Television) turning America into mindless human beings.
For some people, it wouldn't matter what the programming was -- simply because it airs on TV it is really bad television.

For me, I am not of that belief. Through the years I have enjoyed, laughed at or with, shed tears, and waited on the edge of my seat to find out who did what and to whom. Good storytellers have always made my life better. A good storyteller can teach me, entertain me, and/or take me out of my own life's challenges for a short period of time so that I may either feel a reprieve or gain a new perspective.

I appreciate good storytellers.

That's one of the reasons why I supported the writer's strike.

That's one of the reasons I am disappointed in CBS's decision to cancel Jericho.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, during the writer's strike I dove into the murky waters of Reality TV to see what could possibly be worth watching.

WOW.

RBTV is a reality.

The majority of these reality shows left me numb, dumb, and with a bigger bum. My energy level dropped with each viewing. I actually began to feel depressed and a sense of lost hope in the American public.

Out of the large numbers -- and I was surprised by how many are actually being aired -- I did find a few that were worth watching, but only one in which the contestants/real people were truly inspiring and the show was/is educational (The Biggest Loser).

That said, what none of the reality shows do -- even the ones I enjoy -- is take me out of my own life and into a story the way a good book or a movie can. I never leave the viewing of a reality show feeling like I do when the credits of a good movie roll or when I close the back cover after having read the last page of a good book or when I watch the last scene of a weekly serial drama and am left on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next week.

Close your eyes and remember the first time you saw the Wizard of Oz or the first time you watched it with your children.

Close your eyes and remember the feeling of the first time you saw a movie in a theater on a big screen.

Close your eyes and remember your favorite childhood cartoons.

Close your eyes and remember your favorite television shows when you were growing up.

There's just something about the creativity of the arts that brings people together, that inspires them to new heights, that builds a community, and that can strengthen the collective spirit of a generation.

Reality TV does not hold any of these qualities or abilities.

And the long term numbers show that more people enjoy the creativity of the arts than they do reality TV.

According to Nielsen ratings...

...from 1950 to the present, only 3 reality shows are listed as the top rated TV series during a specific year: Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts (1951), Survivor (2000) and American Idol (2004 - 2007).

...from 1964 to the present, the top 45 primetime telecasts do not include one episode of Reality TV.

...from 1964 to the present, the top 3 network primetime telecasts of all time are MASH (the final episode), Dallas (Who Shot JR?) and Roots (finale).

...Superbowl's 1982 and 1983 round out the top 5 network primetime telecasts of all time since 1964.

...during a 38 year period, the American public has demonstrated its preference for storyline driven television.

Being a part the entertainment industry, I have always been amazed by how an industry that produces creativity on a daily basis functions on many levels with extraordinarily little creativity.

Maybe that's because the most creative thinkers are rarely the top decision makers.

It's not often that directors, creative producers, or actors become heads of studios or television networks. Tom Cruise is an exception to the rule.

Most often the people in the top positions are finance people or excellent deal making people. Most often the top people are numbers people.

And that's what makes all of the numbers on Jericho so interesting.

According to the New York Daily News...

...as of March 8, 2008 the most downloaded television show on iTunes was Jericho.

...and absolutely none of the top 10 downloaded television shows were reality shows.

According to TiVo...

...for the week ending 3/23/08, Jericho is listed in the top 25 most recorded television shows.

...for the week ending 3/23/08, out of 25 television shows only 3 reality shows made it on the most downloaded list.

...for the week ending 3/23/08, America proved again that they prefer storyline driven television over reality TV.

...and America proved again that Jericho is one of their most favorite programs currently on air.

As an MBA, I believe with iTunes and TiVo being much more up to date systems for counting the accuracy of viewers, their numbers should hold, at least, equal value to those gathered by the standard methodology used by Nielsen.

According to The Conference Board...

...more consumers are watching broadcast TV online.

...as of October 15, 2007, more than 16% of American households were watching TV online.

...as of October 15, 2007, the number of American households watching entire episodes/shows online doubled from the previous year.

...as of October 15, 2007, Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Research Center, the number of online television viewers is likely to increase.

...as of October 15, 2007, nearly 73 percent of online households use the Internet for entertainment purposes on a daily basis.

With all of these numbers in mind, I am confused by CBS's cancelation of Jericho.
With the networks just having learned a HUGE lesson in the importance of downloaded material and television shows watched online, I am truly stumped by the "numbers" people at CBS.

During the very short period of time Jericho has had to find its land legs, the show has done remarkably well...

...after its first season (ONE SEASON), a rally cry like none other from all television viewers combined came about.

...after a long writer's strike that disappointed and frustrated much of the television audience, Jericho came in as the #1 downloaded television show on iTunes.

...after a long writer's strike that disappointed and frustrated much of the television audience, Jericho made it into the top 25 television shows recorded on TiVo.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made based upon quality and long term.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be based upon long-term faith in people rather than short-term numbers in a book.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made with courage and belief in a good product.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made with the knowledge that all good things build with time.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made by going back and reviewing the market over a long period of time.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made based upon the value of the product offered to the consumer.

Sometimes in business this consumer needs for network television decisions to be made based upon the value of RGTV.

Really Good Television.

Jericho is really good television.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jericho...So Much to Say


Last night as I thought about Jericho being canceled again, I was thinking I knew exactly what to blog about and what I would write today.

But.

This morning I read a few of the message boards on CBS's web site for Jericho and I began to pull at a few of the threads...you know, I started visiting the different web sites fans had listed on their posted messages.

One thread led to another thread which led to another thread which led to another...

I was blown away. Still am.

Jericho has an enormous number of extraordinarily creative, talented, and well spoken fans. I've never seen anything like this type of loyalty to a television show as I witnessed for Jericho this morning on my trip around the web.

So, I am now back to rethinking my thoughts on the subject of my first blog about the news of Jericho's cancellation. I feel a series of blogs coming on.

Until then, enjoy this clip from last Tuesday's show.



from www.cbs.composted with vodpod

Saturday, March 22, 2008

CBS Cancels Jericho...Again


CBS, once again, cancels Jericho.

I'm stunned.

More on this in another post. Have to really collect my thoughts on this one.

Below is the message Michael Gaston (brilliant actor who plays Gray Anderson on the show) posted on Jericho's web site.

I just wanted to take a minute to, once again, thank all of you for supporting our show. It has a been a very painful week for us as we all got the same word you all got regarding the show's cancellation.

While getting dumped by the same girl a second time may not be as shocking as the first go round, it's often even more painful; if just for the fact that you let yourself hope, in vain, that it would be different this time. But it is the second burn, so as the saying goes, shame on me.

That said, I wouldn't have missed this little season 2 JERICHO novella for the world. It was a golden opportunity to reconnect with all my pals to bring you all at least a little more of the story we had to offer.

It was a gift.

And we have you to thank.

Thank you all. It really was a pleasure.

Michael Gaston

Honda Goes Green!


Honda goes green!

As part of the Global Releaf program, Honda has partnered with American Forests and during the month of April Honda dealers will be performing FREE 40-point inspections.

But, that's not all!

Through Honda's partnership with American Forests, one tree will be planted for every vehicle inspection completed at participating Honda dealers during the month of April.

Well-maintained vehicles can run cleaner and lead to better gas mileage.

So, Honda owners, call your nearest dealership and schedule a FREE 40-point inspection for your vehicle(s) during Honda Car Care Days, April 1 - 30.

Go green with Honda -- maintain your car and American Forests will plant a tree -- all at NO COST TO YOU!

Kudos to Honda and American Forests!

For more information visit www.americanforests.org/honda.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Reality TV Worth Watching


Reality TV.

I can't believe I watch it much less am here writing about it, but with the writer's strike this year, I decided that I'd venture deeper into the realm that many people find so fascinating.

I admit that I was a fan of Survivor when it first aired. I enjoyed the show all the way through the 3rd or 4th season and then it lost its appeal. Much like American Idol has for me now.

Since I tuned into Dancing With The Stars late in the game, I'm still impressed by the ability of the professional dancers to teach complicated steps to, for the most part, untrained celebrities and by the ability of these people to learn them so quickly. The competition between Mel B and Helio last season made for great television. And, of course, much of the enjoyment is when you share your arm chair critiques with a friend. For me, that's my friend Kelly in Calgary, Canada who remains faithful to the show even though she's locked out of the voting process. Last season Helio Castroneves won my heart, this season it looks like it's going to be Steve Guttenberg. While he is not the most agile with his body, Steve's personality and smile are absolutely engaging. Hopefully the show will do for him what it appears to have done for Marie Osmond.

So, I decided to move deeper into the murky waters of reality TV.

Immediate sinkers: Big Brother, The Apprentice, Cops (OMG, people actually watch this show?) , MTV and VH1 shows (been there, done that, learned from it, don't even want to watch anyone else having to learn or not learn the same lessons), Laguna Something or Another, and Survivor.

Those that rose to the top: Along with Dancing With the Stars, three other reality shows caught my attention and have kept it: The Biggest Loser, LA Ink, and Ace of Cakes .

First, NBC's The Biggest Loser. What an amazing transformation these people go through right before our eyes. While I am NOT a proponent of anything containing artificial sweeteners, I do like the other messages this show delivers while helping to transform these people's lives. Not only is this show educational in the way to eat a more healthy diet, but the message of weight loss through a combined change in lifestyle of exercise and eating habits is tremendous. Now, if American parents can just learn that feeding their children a diet of fast food and soda pop is as equally detrimental to their children's bodies as it is to the habits their children will be forced to break later in life, then this show will have really served an amazing purpose. I've never understood parents who feed their small children pop, fast food, and surgery desserts, then punish the children when they can't be controlled, are being loud and unruly, and are bouncing off the walls. Helllooo, how are those little bodies supposed to break down that much garbage and remain calm and well mannered in the process?

For me, the biggest winners on The Biggest Loser are Bernie and Brittany. They both posses the most incredible inner strength, beauty, and joy and they stood out from the crowd simply by the way their personalities shined above everyone else's. Watching each contestant on the show move closer to their individual goal weight is inspiring and heart warming, but both Bernie and Brittany brought me back every week to root most especially for them. With 6 contestants left, who will be the Biggest Loser?

Next: TLC's LA Ink. What a ride this show is! Kat Von D and her crew bring new meaning to artistic talent. Tattooing has been a part of human culture for centuries. Some consider it a desecration of the human body and others see it as a means of expression and beauty. I fall in with the second group. While I do not currently have a tattoo, I know exactly what I want when the time is right for me to get one. And I can't wait!

What I love about this show is that everyone has a story. Discovering why someone chooses the tattoo they do is a great lesson in tearing down stereotypes. And this show teaches that lesson very well. Watching the creative vision and human compassion intertwined within each tattoo artist artistically come to life on this show is cause for a return visit each week. Kat Von D, Corey, Kim and Hannah each posses an artistry that is jaw dropping. And how they take the emotions from stories of their clients and encapsulate them into a tapestry on skin is beyond me. But, it's beautiful to watch.

One important element of the show is no longer at the front desk. Pixie. Will she return? As goes with real life so goes with reality TV. Life is about relationships and this show is no exception. A bitter fight took place between Kim and shop manager and former Fear Factor game show winner, Pixie and Pixie appears to no longer be in the picture. Drama in LA...who knew!? Stay tuned to see if Pixie was meant to be in Kat's life for a reason, a season or a life time.

Finally, Food Network's Ace of Cakes! If the artists of LA Ink bring new meaning to artistic talent, then Duff Goldman's crew at Charm City Cakes are breaking all rules to create an entirely new category in the world of art. With patience, faith, and a personality that makes you want to call him friend, Vespa riding Duff leads this team of low energy, slow speaking, and what appears to be barely moving, mind blowing artisans on one of the funniest, most clever, most imaginative, and most enjoyable 30 minutes on TV. At the heart of the show are Duff and Mary Alice.

Duff Goldman graduated from pastry school and went on to turn the cake decorating business upside down. Wanting the most talented people he knew working for him, Duff tracked them all down, which wasn't too difficult because they all happened to be his friends.

Mary Alice Fallon Yeskey, very much the glue of Ace of Cakes, serves as a type of narrator, commentator, and all around hysterical voice for the show as I'm sure she does within her daily job at Charm City Cakes, Duff Goldman's real business in Baltimore, Maryland.

Charm City's unbelievably talented group of artists who are really more like engineers, inventors, painters, craftsman, architects, and sculptors all brilliantly combined into these individual human bodies are some of the most talented, slow speaking, and yet funniest people on TV today. And they're real people.

Ace of Cakes will blow your mind. This is not your typical food show. Not at all. This is Home Improvement meets Rosanne (as with Rosanne, dry, funny sarcasm reigns on Ace of Cakes) meets M*A*S*H meets Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White's "cooking show" host character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Non stop fun occurs as each of the show's theme cakes take shape, is eventually completed, and delivered to the client.

As reruns of your favorite dramas begin to emerge or if you lost interest in the shows that disappeared during the strike or if you are lost without the return of Jack Bauer or if you are like me, just plain tired of listening to the exact same "best political team on TV" voice their exact same opinions over and over and over again, then be inspired, motivated, and entertained by reality TV's cream of the crop: Dancing With the Stars, The Biggest Loser, LA Ink, and Ace of Cakes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Filtering Barack Obama's Speech on Race



Filters are fantastic things.

Nothing can ruin a nice cup of coffee or tea faster that a mouth full of grounds or leaves.

Blech.

I don't even want to think about what would be floating around in our drinking water without filters in place.

Blech. Blech....blech.

I've experienced how well a car runs without an oil filter in place.

It doesn't.

Proper UVA and UVB filters in sunglasses keep our eyes protected.

Eye cancer is a horrible disease.

Filters block all sorts of bad things and for the most part, when functioning properly they work to our benefit.

But.

What about when we use our own personal filtration system to keep out the things we don't want to face or accept?

Listening to Barack Obama's speech in response to specific messages of racially charged anger delivered from his church's pulpit by his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, I wondered what kind of personal filtration system Barack had in place all those years Jeremiah Wright was his pastor.

Barack stated very clearly that Jeremiah Wright was part of his family. He could not disown Jeremiah Wright anymore than he could disown his grandmother. Barack admits to hearing his grandmother make racially charged comments that caused him to cringe and yet claims that for more than 20 years he never heard Jeremiah Wright (a man Barack says has been his spiritual advisor, a man who was instrumental in developing Barack's Christian faith, a man who very clearly holds strong feelings of racially charged anger toward elements of the American government and has publicly proclaimed these feelings) say one racially charged comment.

For those that really are committed to their church membership, their pastor's teachings, the body of fellow believers to which they belong, we know that church folk talk! Especially if it is something we agree with, don't agree with, or find controversial. Church folk talk.

So, I really am curious as to what kind of personal filtration system Barack Obama had in place to be able to block out ALL the talk that had to have been happening in his church, among the congregation, at the barber shop, in the beauty shop, over coffee, etc.

I couldn't agree more with the words Barack spoke about how race is something all of America needs to address. My own family is similar to Barack's. My family picture looks like a United Nations ad. We are a family with bloodlines that connect the United States, Europe, Puerto Rico, Central America, Mexico, and Africa. I understand fully the importance of the words Barack spoke about race. And I agree. And I was glad to hear the words spoken.

What confuses me is this: Barack Obama clearly loves Jeremiah Wright and they clearly had/have a close relationship. Barack Obama worked a number of years as a community organizer and a civil rights attorney. He then went on to become a member of the Illinois senate, which led to a seat as one of Illinois' United States Senators. In ALL THAT TIME, Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright never had one honest conversation as to how Jeremiah Wright felt about the United States government? In ALL THAT TIME, Jeremiah Wright had direct passage to the ear of a civil rights attorney, an Illinois lawmaker, and a United States Senator and not once, not one time, did this man who has very strong racially charged feelings about the US government take the opportunity to talk to his closest connection to change there could possibly be?

That's some filtration system.

The words spoken by Barack during his speech on race were impassioned, eloquent, and I believe deeply felt. I truly believe he desires that of which he speaks.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Barack Obama is one of the most gifted public speakers of our time.

I just struggle to understand his own personal filtration system. If his filtration system is one that can turn itself on and off when it comes to authority figures he loves, cherishes, respects, and perhaps doesn't want to see the bad in, then I am challenged in my spirit to pause and assess his personal claims of excellence in judgment.

None of us are free from lapses in judgment -- none of us. However, not all of us are running for the most powerful job in the world based upon claims of excellence in judgment. Only one person is.

I understand how incredibly difficult it can be to stand up to those we respect, those we love, those who hold a powerful title in our own personal lives or in our communities or in our church. I truly understand.

The most difficult time in the world to stand up to those people is when we ourselves don't have a title, when we ourselves are the student, when we ourselves are in the lower positions. But stand up we must.

Denouncing the words of Jeremiah Wright was the correct thing for Barack Obama to do.

Telling America how he will work to change all of our filtration systems and yet not acknowledging the need to change his own leaves me wondering if he's the right mechanic for the job.

Filters are fantastic things. Not fantasy things.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Capturing Hope in a Bottle


It's magic!

Ever wonder how those model ships get into the bottles?

Sometimes knowing how something is done spoils the magic and wonderment of the finished product.

Sometimes it's best to just simply enjoy the magic as it unfolds.

And that's how I feel about Prairie Thunder, the latest organic wine created by Missoula, Montana's Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery. Andy Sponseller and Connie Pouten, Ten Spoon's masterful magicians (owners), have not only placed the most magnificent red wine in each bottle, but they've managed to encapsulate the very essence of hope for North America's grizzly bear population within that same space.

The grizzly habitat is one filled with wildflowers, berries, vast landscapes of trees, fresh air, clear running water, and the aroma of western wilderness. Within each bottle of Prairie Thunder, Ten Spoon captures the unique qualities of these elements.

"Prairie Thunder is a blend of Petite Syrah and Zinfendal grapes grown at Redwood Valley Vineyard in Mendocino County. Aromas of raspberry and dried cranberry radiate to the nose, with just a hint of violet and Kirsch. This wine is rich and smooth. The fresh crisp flavors of Bing cherry, brambleberry and raspberry fill the palate and are rounded out with notes of plum pepper, Nutella and spice," writes Kate Murphy of the Missoulian.

With each purchase of Prairie Thunder, Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery will donate $1.oo to The Vital Ground Foundation. Kudos to Andy and Connie for their dedication and commitment to protecting North America's grizzly habitat through their continued support of Vital Ground.

From the Vital Ground web site: "The Vital Ground Foundation is a wildlife organization whose mission is to protect and restore North America's grizzly bear populations by conserving wildlife habitat. While preserving the areas where grizzlies roam is the focus of Vital Ground, the positive impact of their work goes well beyond saving a single species.

Operating as a land trust, Vital Ground believes that the grizzly bear, as an umbrella species, is nature's barometer of a healthy and complete ecosystem. Because the grizzly's range covers several hundred square miles - from alpine meadows to valley bottoms - protecting grizzly habitat protects entire plant and animal communities in the most wildest, most scenic places left on the continent. Human communities will also be healthier, as protecting and restoring natural areas is critical to the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat."

Founded by Doug and Lynne Seus, trainers of Bart the Bear, Little Bart, Honey Bump, and Tank -- 4 grizzlies adopted by Doug and Lynne -- The Vital Ground Foundation thrives as a living memorial to Bart, the Seuses first bear cub and loving companion for 23 years. Born into captivity, Bart never experienced the call of the wild like his nature born ancestors. But each time Doug and Lynne took Bart out into the fresh open wilderness, the mission of preserving Bart's ancestor's habitat grew in their hearts.

In 1990, with their own money, the Seuses purchased the first acres of land to be protected under the newly formed Vital Ground Foundation. Eighteen years later, that original 240 acre seed has grown into a harvest of more than 417, 000 acres of protected grizzly habitat in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada. Included in the protection of those 417, 000 acres of grizzly habitat is the protection of all of the other wildlife and plant life contained within those boundaries as well.

Many of us remember Bart's amazing performances in such movies as The Edge, Legends of the Fall, and The Bear; however, Bart's true legacy is not his performance on the screen, but his ability to reach beyond the barriers of language. His true legacy began with his ability to teach Doug and Lynne Seus about his species. Bart's legacy as a teacher, ambassador, and inspiration grows with each acre of grizzly habitat protected from development.

As Lynne Seus has said, "Where the grizzly can walk, the earth is healthy and whole."

So the next time you think about the quality of air you breathe or the water you drink or the food you eat, think of Bart.

To learn more about The Vital Ground Foundation, the importance of grizzly bears to our ecosystem, or how you can become a member of Bart's legacy, visit www.vitalground.org.

To learn more about Bart the Bear, Little Bart, Honey Bump, and Tank visit www.BartTheBear.com.

To learn more about Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery or how to purchase cases of Prairie Thunder (yes, cases -- you'll want to! single bottles are available, too), visit www.tenspoonwinery.com.

If you are in need of a special wine for your Easter table or a hostess gift that can spark conversation or are simply in the mood for a nice red wine to complete your day, pick up a bottle or two of Prairie Thunder and toast to Bart.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunrise Over the Palm Trees (Part 2)


The 5th mile.

The testing of the spirit, soul, and body.

As I worked my way around the track, my mind, my body, and the devil would tell me all sorts of things. My mind would be telling me, "It's dark out here. Everyone else is still in bed. What you are doing doesn't make any sense. Go home." My body would be telling me, "I hurt. I don't like this and I'm going to shut down. Lungs are shutting down. Legs are shutting down." And the devil would be planting those little seeds of doubt continuously through the 5th mile. "The breakthrough isn't going to come this time. You don't have the endurance for long distance; you were born with heart disease. If you quit now, the pain will end and you will feel better."

It would have been so easy for me to give in to that thinking or those feelings of painful endurance. It would have been so easy to stop running, get on my bike and ride back to the dorm.

I knew how easy it was because there were mornings I did just that. There were mornings I quit at the 5th mile.

On those days, the days I quit, disappointment always seemed to hang around me the rest of the day. I was disappointed in myself, but more than that I was disappointed in what I had missed.

You see, the sky was still dark during the 5th mile, but toward the end of the 6th mile the sun would begin to rise over the horizon. For the next 4 - 5 miles I would see the most glorious picture being painted right before my eyes.

The sun's rays reflecting off the desert would produce pinks, oranges, and reds only God could create. The sunrise would literally light up the palm trees circling the track. There is not a piece of artwork in the world that can compare with the beauty God painted for me every morning. For most people, it would be just another day of school or just another day at work, but for me...it would be a day God painted into my life.

Psalms 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands."

I believe we are three part beings: we are a spirit; we have a soul (mind, will, and emotions); and we live in a body. When our spirit is the strongest of the three is when I believe we are in our most advantageous, powerful, and most fully functioning state.

Faith is found in our spirit. Faith is not in our flesh -- our bodies cannot produce faith. And faith is not in our minds -- our minds work by our senses. Our mind develops logic and reason through the knowledge we take in through our senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch).

As I wrote in Part 1, I could not "feel" patience and perseverance working as I ran around the track. Every day my mind and my body teamed up to work against me. Every day they both worked to get me to quit.

By faith, every morning at that 5th mile I had to believe my breakthrough would come. By faith, every morning I had to overcome the pain in my body and the negative thoughts in my mind.

The mornings I persevered through the 5th mile, my breakthrough always came. And I was always rewarded with a glorious picture of the power of God in the rising of the sun.

The testing and trials of our faith will come.

As Easter approaches I am reminded how there are always two sides to the process of endurance. The first is always the testing and the trial. The second is always the breakthrough and the reward. But just because there are two sides doesn't mean you automatically experience both. The first you are guaranteed to experience. The second you experience only if you choose to.

I look to the Bible for words of strength during my times of testing and trials. Whatever your belief system may be, I encourage you to find words that will build your faith during your times of testing and trials.

In the Bible, James 1:2-4 tells us "Consider it pure joy, my brother, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

One of the qualities I have found many people lack is the twin combination of patience and perseverance. Our dominant thoughts will be the ones we focus on the most. Our dominant responses will be the ones we've trained the most. Our dominant actions will be the ones in which we are the strongest. Good or bad. Positive or negative. Love or hate. Quit or breakthrough.

Patience and perseverance are powerful forces. I encourage you to allow perseverance and patience to do its perfect work in you and in your life. Build your faith through the 5th mile. Do not give in to negative thoughts. Do not give in to negative emotions. Do not give in to a body that may want to quit.

By faith, know that your breakthrough will come.

The 6th mile is just ahead.

For me, I've learned my breakthrough will always come and as Easter approaches I know that I will forever be rewarded with the glorious picture of the power of God in the rising of the Son.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunrise Over the Palm Trees (Part 1)



During my sophomore year of college at Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ) I would get up almost every morning between 5:00 and 5:30 and ride my bike over to the track where I would join the other morning joggers. I am very much a morning person, but this is not the reason I would run so early in the day.

It was just too freakin' hot once the sun came up!

For those of you who run or jog long distance, you are going to understand the feeling I am about to describe. In runner's terms, it's called "hitting the wall."

And that's exactly what it feels like!

I would hit that wall at about the 5th mile every time. Everything in my body wanted to shut down. My lungs didn't want to breathe; my legs didn't want to move; and my mind kept screaming, "Quit! Quit! Quit!"

This painful testing of my body continued through the entire next mile. With every step, I would think, "Why am I doing this? This can't be good for me? Oh, man this hurts. I need to spit."

It always felt as though that mile would never end.

But, suddenly, without fail, that feeling would change.

The breaking through of that wall always came and with it also came a sense of release. What before felt torturous now felt rhythmic. What before felt choppy now felt fluid. What before felt held back now felt free. My stride and pace picked up. My posture was straighter and my mind was clear.

Life is much like jogging long distances. Walls are inevitable.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul refers to running a race frequently through his letters. 2 Timothy4:7 "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith." 1 Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." Galatians 5:7 "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?" Many believe Paul also wrote the book of Hebrews, but whether he did or not we are given another example of long distance running when the writers tells us in 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

I use Paul's words today because they are from my belief system and they speak to me. Whatever your belief system may be, I encourage you to find the words that speak to you.

Every one of us, no matter what our circumstances or situation in life, hit walls that we need to break through. Whether it be a wall called weight, a wall called finances, a wall called personality conflicts with a co-worker, a wall called I need a job, a wall called my child doesn't want to pee in the toilet, a wall called I have talent and need a good agent, a wall called my body hurts from sickness, or a wall called fill in the blank I'm your new wall, we all hit walls in our life.

What I love so much about Apostle Paul's words are his emphasis on the 6th mile instead of the 5th.

Paul understood the power of the breakthrough. Paul understood the power of endurance, patience, and perseverance. He understood the power of these unseen forces to break through walls.

Perseverance is not needed for a 100 yard dash, but it is needed for cross country or a marathon.

The breaking through a wall does not come by giving it all you've got for 100 yards and then stopping. It does not come by quitting at the 5th mile when things get tough.

Breakthrough comes by the power of consistency. Consistently moving forward. Consistently using patience and perseverance. Consistently enduring under pressure to quit. Consistently silencing the negative thoughts. Consistently feeding that which is inside of you that you want to be stronger.

Endurance, patience, and perseverance are forces that can break walls, move mountains, and change paradigms.

Perseverance means to persist in spite of difficulties. At the track, I persevered through the 5th mile even though both my mind and my body were yelling at me to quit. I could not see or hear perseverance or patience working and I most certainly could not "feel" them working, but they were.

As any long distance runner will tell you, testing of the mind and the body WILL come.

I encourage you to run with perseverance the race marked out for you. Your life has a purpose. Don't quit. Don't give up. Be consistent in moving forward.

If you have a dream and it feels like you've been running the 5th mile for a long time, don't quit. Don't give up. Be consistent in moving forward no matter how small or insignificant the steps you are taking may feel. Patience and perseverance are working for you. Don't stop their power because you feel tired or weary or rejected or alone.

Circumstances won't change the power of patience and perseverance, but power patience and perseverance will change the circumstances.

Keep running your race!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Jericho on CBS

Watch Jericho online or on Tuesday nights on CBS -- you don't want to miss this show!

Click on the title to watch a video clip.


Jeremiah Wright is Wrong


As a Christian, I've always been leery of people in ministerial positions of authority who use the pulpit or their "role model" profession as a means for political influence. My skin crawls and my shoulders cringe inward when I hear pastors endorse a candidate or a specific political party in a sermon, during a time of ministry staff prayer, or during an interview.

While I loved my pastor at the ministry for which I used to work in Tulsa, OK, he would speak boldly in support of the Republican party just prior to our staff time for prayer. One would have thought that if they were to admit to being a Democrat they would immediately be fired, if not sent directly to hell. I remember feeling sick to my stomach at times when this pastor would personally rail against President Clinton and then in the next breath ask God for His blessings on this particular church. Feeling alone and small in my chair, I would pray for understanding -- how could this be right in God's eyes?

Republicans = white hats and Democrats = black hats was common place preaching during those morning staff meetings. Working in the church -- a 10,000 member church, by the way -- and also working as an independent contractor for a very popular Christian singer at the time, I saw first hand just how much influence these "mega" pastors and Christian entertainers had over the people in their congregations and/or audiences.

Living in Tulsa, OK gave me the opportunity to see many of the Christian "elite" in person and even get to know a number of them. And while I have many, many good things to say and have enormous respect for those that really, truly are the real deal when it comes to walking the walk and talking the talk, I also have a deep, deep sadness over those that use their positions of influence as a means of manipulation or spreading hatred or fear.

Watching the video of Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright vehemently preaching from the pulpit against rich white people and Hillary Clinton to a congregation of people on their feet, some clapping, some with their hands raised, and some proclaiming "amens" made my heart sink deeper than I thought possible.

Not being a fan of John Hagee, whom I believe to be one of the most divisive preachers around, I didn't think much more could shock me after hearing a number of his sermons, but Pastor Jeremiah Wright has. As I watched the videos of his sermons airing on YouTube and the news, my first thought was these words came easily to him -- this is not the first time he has preached this type of message.

Pastor Jeremiah Wright may very well have a significant legacy of Christian leadership and perhaps the messages airing in the news are the exception to his long career, but sadly, since his church records and sells his sermons, they are now part of history.

Christianity is not about perfecting humans, but about a perfect God. I understand, all too well, that pastors, evangelists, teachers of the Gospel, etc., are human and make mistakes and errors in judgment just like the rest of us; HOWEVER, I strongly believe that the pulpit of a Christian church is for teaching the Word of God -- not the pastor's personal prejudices, political agendas, a separation out of certain sins the pastor dislikes more than others (i.e., homosexuality vs. gluttony -- when was the last time you heard an overweight pastor rail against himself/herself or others who are overweight as sinners going to hell?), or anything else that takes away from the message that Jesus came for ALL people.

Jesus is not a white, Republican, American male; nor is He a black, Democratic, American female. I am a Christian and I've reached my tolerance level with the leaders of the Christian church who feel it is their "responsibility" to endorse political candidates -- Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Green, whatever.

IT IS NOT!

So, to James Dobson, John Hagee, Jeremiah Wright and all the other pastors/ministers of the Gospel out their using their pulpit or ministerial leadership for political purposes: SHAME ON YOU! Your job is to teach about a perfect God, the saving grace of Christ and the truths contained in the Word of God (the Bible). If focusing on Jesus and the Word of God in your sermons is not enough for you, then you need to leave the profession.

Sermons of hate, discrimination, political influence, etc., have no place within a Christian message -- much less one in which you've taken up tithes and offerings.

Strong words, but I believe those ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who use their ministerial positions to influence believers toward their own political party or candidate of choice are ones that will justify their actions all the way to the Kool-Aid stand.

Turn and run. Turn and run as fast as you can if your pastor starts down the political endorsing road.

If you are a Christian, find a church leader who correctly teaches/preaches the love of Christ. Find a church leader who builds you up with the Word of God rather than molds you into a follower of their own.

Find a church leader who puts the focus of influence on Jesus rather than himself/herself.

Find a church leader who knows he/she is a servant of God, not servant of a political candidate or party.

Find a church leader who knows God is no respecter of persons and he/she does not have a unique or special channel into God's thoughts on who should be King, Queen, or President.

Find a church leader who avoids idolatry at all costs.

Most importantly, be strong in the Word of God yourself. Be strong in the love of Jesus yourself.

Form your own opinions based upon your own time of prayer and study.

Make up your own mind based upon your own walk with God.

(PS...I am consciously not posting the videos of Jeremiah Wright's sermons.)

Red Bull


If you live in Washington or are up for a travel adventure, check out Red Bull's wild downhill competition this weekend at Crystal Mountain!

Love Red Bull!

Not only do I love this company and have enjoyed working with them, but their product has kept my eyes open through many a long night film editing, writing papers, or planning an event.

For an exciting around-the-world adventure in extreme sports, outstanding photography, and some of the most imaginative art to be found, buckle up and click on www.redbull.com.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's Your Dream?

What am I?

Need a hint? I was once among the stars, held three men yet never felt burdened by their weight, and am now resting comfortably not far from "Glamorous Glennis."

One of my favorite places in the world to visit both in person and online is the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Treasures upon treasures are housed in SI's 19 museums and 9 research centers.

Not able to travel to the physical buildings? Then visit the Smithsonian online! (Answer to "What am I?")

Established by a gift to the United States of America from a British citizen who had never stepped foot on American soil, (nor to the best of anyone's knowledge did this British gentleman even know anyone in America), the Smithsonian Institution has become one of the world's most significant landmarks.

British scientist, James Smithson loved knowledge. His desire was for knowledge to be shared throughout the world by all men. Why he chose the United States as the destination for his estate and why he believed his dream would come true in the hands of people he had never met continues to be a mystery to this day.

Sometimes we have to take that big leap of faith and trust that God is steering our course.

Sometimes we have to take that big leap of faith and place our dreams in the hands of people we have never met.

James Smithson must have lived his life leading by example. If he didn't in his life, he sure did in his death because the Smithsonian is filled with the results of people's dreams.

From Charles Lindberg's "Spirit of St. Louis" to Russia's Sputnik.

From the bones of ancient mammals to the study of the evolution of butterflies.

From the paintings of James McNeill Whistler to 9th century arts of the Islamic world.

From Dorothy's ruby slippers to Jerry's "Puffy" shirt.

The Smithsonian's collection proves dreams can come true.

So, if you are feeling stuck in a rut, discouraged, dry as a desert, alone in the valley, oh-so-small in a great big world, overcome with disappointment, rejected by the populous, bruised by your own negative thoughts, stymied by temptation to quit, or stalled in your tracks...SNAP OUT OF IT!!

And remember James Smithson. His dream counted on a foreign nation's willingness to believe in, care for, and build upon not just his own dream, but the dreams of countless others.

What's your dream? The world really is waiting...


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Jericho: Bring on Season 3!

Every man worth something has THAT moment.

THAT moment when they stop avoiding confrontation and stand up for what is right.

THAT moment when they discover the only way to truly protect their loved ones is to stand against that which takes away their freedom.

THAT moment when they look evil in the eye and take action.

Stanley Richmond had THAT moment last night.

If you are not watching Jericho on Tuesday nights, you are missing out.

Brad Beyer's portrayal of Stanley Richmond has been one of the most understated in the show...until last night. While all of the characters around him have their moments of extremes, Stanley has always maintained a focus on his family and his farm. Beyer's Stanley has been a unique sense of small-town calm opposite Skeet Ulrich's internally conflicted heroic character, Jake Green, and for the most part, Stanley has been the most disciplined and law abiding character in Jericho.

Until last night.

THAT moment took hold of Stanley and didn't let go.

And last night was Brad Beyer's show.

From the self contained moments as he watches his sister's bloody sheet draped body being wheeled into the hospital, to the gentle and quiet dialogue he signs to his sister as he sits by her body in the morgue, to the growing strength and focus in his voice as he talks with his fiance who survived the attack that killed his sister, to the determined march of confrontation against the man he would not stand up against earlier -- the man that would kill his sister -- to Stanley's shaky, anything but internally calm moment of eye to eye contact with Goetz, to the flash moment when he makes the decision to pull the trigger, to the head held down posture as the Rangers gather to decide what to do next, Brad Beyer's gave the advertisers their money's worth last night. And the audience reaped the rewards.

Kudos to Brad Beyers.

And kudos to D.B. Sweeney. What a ride he, too, has given the audience. His ability to use his eyes to tell a story not expressed with words ranks up there with Robert Redford's performance in The Sting and Kevin Bacon's in A Few Good Men.

Jericho...riveting television and this season's stand out performances in all areas of the profession.


If you are new to Jericho or missed an episode, tune into www.cbs.com/primetime/jericho where you can watch episodes online. Along with full episodes for viewing, CBS has also posted commentaries from actors and an inside look at a table read from this season's first episode.

Friday, March 14, SciFi will be showing four full hours of Jericho season 1 starting at 8/7 c. For more information visit: http://www.scifi.com/schedulebot/index.php3?date=14-MAR-2008&feed_req

Will Jake be forced to align with Constantino to stand up against a corrupt government? When will the bomb Hawkins has been hiding come into play? And when will Major Beck make a move that puts him in danger with the government for which he works?

So many questions so few episodes left.

Bring on Season 3!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

STOP the "Shhh, Don't Say Anything" Cycle

March: National Women's History Month. March 8: International Women's Day.

With the recent shooting deaths of 7 women -- 2 young, beautiful university students and 5 women of various ages and backgrounds innocently shopping in a Lane Bryant store, a sixth woman in the same store that was shot survived -- sending ecards or short "thinking of you" emails just isn't enough when it comes to acknowledging the significance of women.

While these recent killings of innocent women in the United States of America are horrible, tragic, sickening, and senseless, sadly, they represent millions of women all over the world that are the victims of violence who go unnoticed by neighbors, family members, the media, and the world.

Statistics relate important and valuable information, but sometimes when we read statistics it's easy to be shocked, but not necessarily moved to action.

For example, what moves you more:

  1. According to the World Health Organization, one in three women will be victims of violence in her lifetime. OR
  2. According to the World Health Organization, you must choose which one of these three women you will stand by and let be shot, raped, beaten, and/or mutilated: your mother (fill in your mother's name), your sister (fill in your sister's name), or your daughter (fill in your daughter's name).

When we put a face and a name to those "three" women, it brings the reality that violence against women lives closer to home than we might realize. Sadly, the truth is much more devastating. The majority of women who experience violence against them experience it at the hand of a male either in their own family, someone they are dating, or someone they know.

Each one of us can probably name AT LEAST three women we know that have been victims of some sort of violence. Perhaps, our own name can be counted in that list.

The way the world reacts to violence against women is shocking to me. It's a double edged sword that men rarely, if ever, experience. When was the last time you heard a man who has been raped accused of "asking for it" because of the way he was dressed? Rape is awful no matter who it happens to, but for a woman to come forward as the accuser takes an extra gallon of courage. She not only has to face the shame and humiliation of reliving the act all over again, but she also has to "prove" she was not "asking for it."

For both women and men, if the violent offender is/was a family member, bringing the violent actions to light is even more difficult. I know this personally. Two of my uncles on my mom's side are two of the most hideous creatures to walk this earth. As the younger sisters, two of my close female relatives were on the receiving end of very violent, sexual acts from two older brothers. One younger sister was only 5-years-old and the other was only 7-years-old when these monsters for older brothers began their disgusting acts. Both of these uncles are still alive living just outside of Aberdeen, South Dakota and are still as disgusting as ever. And, shockingly, one of these uncles served on numerous Boards of Directors throughout his political and farming career.

My family is not unique.

I wonder: how many of these "upright citizens" like my uncles, who have a past of violence against women, serve out their lives free from charges brought against them because women are intimidated by society and/or other family members to remain quiet about violent actions they suffered through?

When do we stop remaining silent? When do we stop looking the other way?

Violence in the places we should feel safe, our schools and our homes, is reaching record numbers. But when we add on the globally increased numbers in human trafficking, genital cutting, "honor" killings, forced and child marriage, and sexual violence during war or in refugee settings, the result is beyond imagine.

In the early 1900's, a unique and surprisingly small group of women petitioned, demanded, marched, fasted, were imprisoned, and sacrificed greatly for females in the United States of America to have the right to vote. In 1920, their dedicated work won American women this precious right.

88 years later, women of the United States of America have the opportunity to band together and create another powerful force of action: Demand the passing of the International Violence Against Women Act (S. 2279) introduced in October 2007 by Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind).

Amnesty International USA, Women Thrive Worldwide, and the Family Violence Prevention Fund worked together to help draft this groundbreaking federal legislation.

The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) calls for:

  • The creation of a comprehensive U.S. federal strategy to prevent and respond to violence against women on a global level.
  • More than $1 billion over five years to support new assistance programs in 10 to 20 countries and expanded assistance to local groups working to stop violence against women.
  • Development of emergency measures that will enable the United States to respond to large-scale outbreaks of violence against women, such as mass rape during armed conflict, and the development of mechanisms for bringing perpetrators to justice.

At least five Republican senators are needed to co-sponsor the I-VAWA legislation. If you live in a state represented by a Republican senator, CALL and/or WRITE that senator telling them you support the I-VAWA legislation and you want them to sign on as a co-sponsor. Currently, the key states to the passing of this legislation are: Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Absolutely, ALL states are important and critical, but again, people shock the hell out of me...how politicians can put politics above the safety and well-being of ALL women in the world is beyond me, but do I believe it can happen? Yes.

That's why ALL voices are important. Male or female...stand up, speak out, and change the world for your mothers, your sisters, and your daughters -- CALL your senator NOW to urge them to sign on to the I-VAWA bill.

Changing the world's view on violence against women works to change how violence against women is looked upon in our own communities, in our own families, in ourselves.

For more information on the I-VAWA legislation or to see if your senators have co-sponsored I-VAWA (S. 2279) visit: www.amnestyusa.org/ivawa.

Do something to truly celebrate National Women's History Month and International Women's Day. Take action to pass groundbreaking legislation that helps and works to protect all women.

Make a difference.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Adventures of the Mind


To Kill a Mockingbird. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Alas, Babylon. Animal Farm. 1984. The Lord of the Rings. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. The Great Gatsby. The Day of the Locust. Catch-22. The Bourne Identity. Become a Better You. The Grapes of Wrath. Wuthering Heights. Sam I Am. I Love You Forever. Atlas Shrugged. Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. The Outsiders. Moby Dick. Robinson Crusoe. The Firm. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Horton Hears a Who. Interview with the Vampire. The Secret Servant. Tuesday's With Morrie. Eat, Pray, Love. The Secret. Little Women. The Kite Runner. Jane Austin. Treasure Island. Brave New World. The Lord of the Flies. A New Earth. Where the Red Fern Grows.

Books.

From our first years with our parents to our first years with our children, books play a pivotal role in our relationships and our imaginations.

Mark Twain once said, "A man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."

Scholastic book clubs were an active part of my childhood and I still remember the adventure of choosing which books I was going to order. And then when the books arrived and the teacher handed me my collection of books...WOW! It was all I could do to contain my excitement. The paperback covers were so shiny and crisp.

Thanks to Molly Pesce and Barnes & Noble, books have found their way to an Internet version of the Scholastic book club catalogue. Through the weekly online video series, Barnes & Noble tagged!, Molly Pesce draws our attention to the unlimited adventures we are able to take through books. Whether you like mystery, suspense, romance, real life, or history, this show is for you.

Tune in each week to Molly's reviews, buy a book or check one out from your nearest library and start reading. Shiny, crisp covers or well worn ones are waiting for you to open them up and begin your next adventure!

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/tagged/index.asp?cds2Pid=16444

Saturday, March 8, 2008

UNCLE GEORGE BUSH WANTS YOU, but just don't ask for anything in return!


As a Marine, Todd Bowers fulfilled his duty on a daily basis serving multiple tours in Iraq Only when he was injured in Fallujah was he forced to leave his position within the Marines. When Todd Bowers returned from Iraq, he looked forward to completing his college education which he had started before he left for the war.

Unfortunately, for today's returning veterans, the Bush Administration does not feel the same way.


Watch the video, listen to Todd's story and know that he is one of thousands of returning veterans deserving more from this current administration.


Write and call your Senators and Representatives telling them to support the new GI Bill (bill number S.22/H.R.2702). Watch the video clip, learn how this bill will help returning veterans and then call your Senators and Representatives.


For more information, please visit www.iava.org.




from www.youtube.composted with vodpod

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hillary Clinton Ad Featuring Jack Nicholson

Creative ad!!!

Kudos to Rob Reiner, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Cohen (Producer, Pushing Daisies), Chad Griffin (former Clinton White House Staffer) and John Krokidas (Writer/Producer, Slo-Mo) for putting the ad together and then releasing it on You Tube.

Smart use of free media and You Tube! So far, more than 2 million people have tuned in to view this ad.




from www.youtube.composted with vodpod