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Walter CronkiteThis is one of those times where something so moves me (yes, tears in my eyes) that I head right over here and put forth my thoughts, not really caring if they make sense to anyone else, if there are typos, or what others think, but just feeling the intense need to put them out there. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m coming out of blog hibernation (yikes, over 4 months!) to see if any of you reading this have a negative memory from childhood which still burns as vividly in your mind as if it happened just yesterday?  Ever wish someone had done something about it or had let you know things would be okay?  If so (or even if not), PLEASE take the time to follow the links I’ve included and DO SOMETHING about this most atrocious story I just heard about this morning.  I honestly could NOT believe there was a chance ANY of it could be true–but it is.  Instead of going into all of the details myself, the story/video link takes you to an in-depth interview with Harry Smith (CBS news) and the mother of Alex,  the kindergartner who was “voted out” by 14 of his 16 classmates.

I do have to say that as an aunt to two nephews I could NOT love more (one of which has been dealing with emotional/behavioral issues for most of his young life–at one time having been considered to have Asperger Syndrome such as little Alex is being tested for), and as someone who is still hoping to one day complete her teaching credential (two more classes ;)), it disgusts/shocks/saddens me to see such a ridiculous and cruel event be inflicted on such a young child, especially by a teacher who is entrusted to care for, educate, and nurture our children.  Not only will it more than likely have a long-lasting effect on Alex, but it sends the most intolerant of messages to the classmates involved that they do not need to understand and embrace the differences amongst us, and can instead simply “vote” someone out of their surroundings.  If we are teaching this to kindergarten children, imagine how they will think they can deal with those they don’t care for as they get older?  Don’t like that person because of their sexual orientation, religious affiliation, skin color, then “vote” them out.  And trust me, folks, “voting” will NOT be the way they handle it; violence will be.  Sigh.

I hope you’ll all take the 6 minutes needed to watch this video (if anyone finds it on YouTube, please let me know so I can post it here…thanks!), then also please, PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to click the photo of Alex and send a card to the address listed to let him know he IS uniquely special, beautiful, and loved just the way he is–we ALL are!  Feel free to re-post this blog or to contact me regarding how to add the links/photo to your blog or email, and by all means do all you can to get the word out about this situation and the card campaign. 

Thank you for your time. 🙂

PS I hope to get back to a “somewhat” regular routine of blogging again.  Goodness knows there’s enough going on in the world today which I definitely have opinions about! 😉 

Not sure how many of you caught “My Night at the Grammys” on CBS Friday night (rub it in that you all probably have much more exciting social lives on a Friday night than I have right now! ;)), but I watched it and have to say I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the show. Only bummer is that they rarely showed the entire performance being showcased, but they showed enough to get me motivated to seek the videos out on YouTube. (Man, I sure do love YouTube! :))

The show gave me some serious flashbacks (feeling old since I remember actually watching Michael Jackson in ’88, Babs and Neil in ’81, Marvin Gaye in ’83!), and instilled in me an even deeper appreciation for the immense talent of the artists on the show. What I wouldn’t give to have an ounce of the energy Beyonce had in her duet with Prince; the ability to belt out a tune like Melissa and Joss did in their duet; or the coordination to come even close to ANY of the moves Michael made look so easy. Ain’t gonna happen!

Watching Michael’s performance of “Man In The Mirror” reminded me of how much I love the lyrics of the song and how much they’ll always ring true. It also brought back vivid memories of (gulp–gonna show my age here) his “Off the Wall” tour (white gloved hand and high water pants) being the FIRST concert I ever attended–with my high school boyfriend AND his entire family at the San Diego Sports Arena (not sure how I survived THAT adventure). The Sports Arena had the WORST sound on earth, and more than likely still does. Another concert at that venue was brought to mind when Tina Turner performed “What’s Love Got To Do With It” , since I’d seen her open for Lionel Richie (stop laughing at me…I also saw The Commodores a few years earlier!) there when she was launching her big comeback. Prince’s performance reminded me of the ridiculous scalper prices we paid for tickets to see him in Long Beach for the Purple Rain tour.  At least I think that was the tour…all I remember is the seats sucking and us having to walk around the arena all night to get better views.  Was a nice view of his, um, uh, ‘lower portion’ in the see-through type pants he was wearing. 😉

I was made aware of Joss Stone and Mary J. Blige, thanks to the Grammys, and what powerhouses they both are. (I kind of feel like Mary’s “No More Drama” should be my theme song for this stage of my life. ;)) And who wasn’t impressed with not only Melissa’s singing that night with Joss, but the fact that she was so strong despite dealing with cancer–what a role model.

One of the other fun parts of the show was being reminded of some of the wild fashion crazes we’ve gone through over the years by way of what the performers were wearing, but also via the audience shots; shoulder pads, big hair, huge earrings! It was also nice to see performers on stage or in the audience, who are no longer with us.

Here are a few of my favorites from the Top 25 shown on “My Night At the Grammys”…enjoy!

Mary J. Blige “No More Drama” Grammys 2002

Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone “Cry Baby” and “Piece of My Heart” Grammys 2005

Prince and Beyonce “Hits Medley” Grammys 2004

Michael Jackson “Man In The Mirror” Grammys 1988

 

“Man In The Mirror”
I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

 

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer’s Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man’s Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya’ Know
‘Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That’s Why I Want You To
Know

 

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change)
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah)

 

I’ve Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It’s Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They’re Not
Alone?

 

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody’s Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya’ See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That’s Why I’m Starting With
Me
(Starting With Me!)

 

(Chorus repeats)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFriday night I was lucky enough to catch the story of 86-year-old stick-to-her-guns Edith Macefield during a Steve Hartman segment on the CBS Evening news, and what a character (what we got to see/hear of her) she is! This gutsy lady has steadfastly refused to sell the tiny Ballard (neighborhood of Seattle) home she has lived in for over fifty years, despite a lucrative deal from area developers, and is now surrounded by intense construction which will ultimately result in her home being enveloped by five-story high office buildings. For those who have seen the movie Stuart Little, the small Little home, sandwiched between enormous buildings, is to me the fictional version of Edith and her real life abode. Talk about your David and Goliath!

I certainly hope that when I have lived as many years as Ms. Macefield has, I will have at least a fraction of the tenaciousness and gumption that she has exhibited. Perhaps it’s that independent spirit Pacific Northwesterners are known for, and something I hope is in my genes since I was born in Seattle. Regardless of what it is, or how one gets it, I think we all could use a healthy dose of the fortitude Edith Macefield possesses. Kudos to you, Ms. Macefield–you go girl!

The Cliks are everything they are billed to be and more! I have seen some high energy acts in my day, but what The Cliks put forth in their show at The Knitting Factory (8/22/07) is incomparable (100_2136_edited.jpgespecially considering the miserably hot and humid conditions in the venue), and to have been witness the next day to seeing them taking the small, quiet Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson studio (before Craig had even come out) and INSTANTLY turn it into the most rocking, electrified space you could inhabit in a matter of merely one or two hits on the drum by Morgan Doctor, and the first lyrics by Lucas Silveira–well, it was nothing short of miraculous and memorable. I certainly hope you all got to catch their fantastic Late Late Show performance, but I’ll keep my eyes open for a replay for those who didn’t. (Craig is on hiatus for two weeks and they have a tendency to repeat the most recent shows, so maybe, just maybe it will air again soon!)

My best buddy Sheryl (who interestingly enough is also my ex-sister-in-law ;)), and I headed off for our 1 1/2 hour drive to Hollywood last Wednesday, with The Cliks blasting on the sound system and excitement brewing for seeing not only them, but also another band I’d just discovered that morning, Tanner Horn and the Astronauts Before Breakfast. Sadly the infamous Los Angeles traffic kept us from arriving at the venue until the last minute or so of Tanner and crew’s final song “Hole in My Soul” (sigh), but the 60 seconds that we did see made me realize we had missed out on one heck of a unique, exhilarating (and sweaty! ;)) performance. (For any of you in the LA area, Tanner Horn and the Astronauts Before Breakfast will be having their CD release party at 14 Below in Santa Monica, this Friday (8/30/07), with their CD being included in your $10 cover charge.  You can also get their 6-song EP on iTunes for $5.94!)

Can I just say again how unbelievably freaking-sticky-hot the Knitting Factory was?! I mean what the heck was the deal with folks having to feel like they were stuck in the middle of “Humidity Hell”? If we were sweating buckets, I can only imagine how the band felt, and that was actually pointed out by Lucas when he mentioned a couple times knitting-factory-hollywood.jpgduring the show that he had sweat in his eyes. The stickiness really left a bad taste in my mouth for driving all the way out to that venue again. Thankfully Sheryl and I did find what appeared to be the ONLY fan in the place (hence, the “heavy breathing” sound on the videos I taped…wasn’t me, was the fan :)), and camped out in front of it for the better part of the night. The only time we moved from it was to get some really good drinks from the bar (only $5 AND the cup was overflowing–woo-hoo!), or to head into the humid swamp known as the restroom…ick. Thankfully The Cliks were so amazingly powerful in their performances that you were almost able to forget about the beads of sweat finding their way down your body.

100_2137_edited.jpg

To say Lucas, Jen (Benton), Nina (Martinez), and Morgan had the crowd wrapped around their collective little finger would be an understatement. I think Lucas could have asked the crowd to do more than sing along to “Oh Yeah” (not that anyone needed any enticements to sing along–just came naturally) and everyone would have done whatever the request, without batting an eyelash. This concert was truly one of those times where the musicians, the crowd, the music, and the energy all organically combine into one incredible force that just can’t be put into words—something you had to be there to experience for yourself. I’m so thankful Sheryl and I were there to share in it, and hope that all of you reading this and viewing the videos, get even an inkling of what a Cliks concert has in store for you.

Here’s one of the videos I took, but unfortunately the sound at the venue wasn’t very good, and the lighting was horrific. That being said, it’s the freaking Cliks, folks, so deal with it! 🙂

The Cliks “Back In Style” to “Oh Yeah” at The Knitting Factory 8/22/07

I also taped the encore of “Nobody Else Will”, but kept getting my shot blocked by the dancing head in front of me, and for some reason the middle part was really blurry (think I tried to zoom in too much under poor lighting conditions), so I opted to remix the 3 shorter videos into one using YouTube’s remixer. Unfortunately, despite SEVERAL attempts over the past 3 days, the YouTube remixer will allow me to create the video, preview it, then publish it–but no video ever shows up! ARGH! Went over to100_2150_edited.jpg Photobucket and used their remixer (basically the same one YouTube has by Adobe) and it worked. Sadly WordPress doesn’t allow for Photobucket videos to be embedded, and the Adobe remixer doesn’t allow you to save the final product to your hard drive, so if you’d like to see the video you’ll need to click here for “Nobody Else Will” on my Photobucket account. Again, it’s not the best image quality, but Lucas’ vocals are absolutely out of this world. The lyrics are as heartfelt as they get in the first place, but add Lucas’ intense, raw, sexy vocals and hot damn, one heck of a good performance.

the-cliks-rosie-self-pic-8-22-07.jpgJen, Nina, Morgan, and Lucas were so accommodating and kind with their fans after the show, as was Rosie from Tommy Boy/Silver Label records who jumped right in and took a couple pictures for us when the camera was acting up. As a matter of fact, Rosie snapped an overhead shot of herself while she was waiting for the band, my friend, and myself to pose. Wish it would have turned out better because it was pretty funny when she did it.

As if seeing The Cliks at the Knitting Factory wasn’t enough, Sheryl and I also had tickets to their taping for the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson the next day. So back into the car we went (diabetic dog at home, so couldn’t stay in LA for the night…the things we do for our poochies :)), facing even ickier Los Angeles traffic on Thursday since we were traveling during the day. We did finally make it to the studio, and were pleasantly surprised to land a spot in the CBS studios parking lot–usually not an easy task! We made sure to get in line more than an hour early since there was no way we were taking any chances that we wouldn’t get in, especially after driving so far. Thankfully there were no worries late-late-show.jpgon that front, and when we did finally get into the studio, we were only about 4 rows back on the aisle (hey, a gal with long legs just HAS to have an aisle seat…plus I wanted a better view of the band!), but of course we wished we were even closer. For those of you who have never been to a taping of the Late Late Show, it’s in a fairly small studio with an audience that Craig doesn’t want to exceed some odd number like 113. We were told the reason he likes to keep it so small is because he likes the feel of a comedy club atmosphere, and the connection he can have with a smaller audience such as ours. I went to a taping of his show last October and the intimacy of the studio does lend itself to having you feel like you really are an important part of the entire show. “Audience Enhancers” is what Chucky B. (the warm-up guy) calls the studio audience.

So we finally get into the studio, everyone is seated, Chucky B. is cracking jokes, videos of some previous musical guests are playing on the monitors scattered over the seating area, Craig’s desk is pushed off to the side, and the band equipment is set up already. (Sorry to burst the bubble of anyone who didn’t know this, but segments for the show are not taped in sequence, and quite often are taped for airing on subsequent days, hence Craig hadn’t even been on stage until long after The Cliks were…his loss!) Then a few minutes later, out of nowhere and without much ado, Jen, Morgan, Nina, and Lucas walk over to their equipment and start testing it all out. It was really quiet in the studio, so Chucky B. starts whispering, saying “This is what bands do, they tune up their equipment. I think I see them checking me out. Apparently they don’t see this.” (He then flashes his wedding ring to everyone.) Um, apparently Chucky B. knows diddley-squat about The Cliks since wedding ring or not, chances are slim-to-none any of them would be interested. 😉 So the other Cliks fans that were there (probably about 15 or so of us throughout the audience), Sheryl and I, are all on the edge of our seats, just waiting for something…anything. Then BAM, out of the blue, and with a not-very-enthusiastic introduction of, “The Cliks”, the band jumps right into “Oh Yeah”. Well, despite the apparent lackluster enthusiasm on the part of the Late Late Show‘s folks, there was no way in hell I was going to not show my excitement, so I was rocking out the whole time, as were the other Cliks fans, clapping, shaking our asses in our seats, hollering out, and hoping we were letting the band know just how much we enjoy and adore them.

(***Video below ADDED 9/6/07: Thanks to Silver Label for making this video available!***)

The Cliks on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson 8/23/07 (First TV appearance!)

I have to say it all seems like a blur, totally surreal, and WAY too short of a time to have the band play, but the short time they did was absolutely the most energized four minutes or so you could ever ask for. From the overhead lights to the microphones near our feet, and from the phony Los Angeles cityscape backdrop on stage to the bustling real-life LA streets outside the studio, there was NO WAY anyone within earshot could help but feel the energy and enthusiasm the band was putting out. When it came to the last notes on the guitars and Morgan’s last drum hit, the sudden silence was incredibly deafening and made your realize how much The Cliks had filled up that short time and space with most intense rhythm, vocals, and music possible. Talk about living in the moment! WOW!

I really do believe that those in the audience who had no clue who The Cliks were beforesnakehouse.jpg their performance (unfortunately that would seem to also include the majority of the Late Late Show staff), were definitely impressed with them afterward. A CBS page made sure to tell us (Sheryl and I were both wearing our The Cliks black t-shirts, so it was pretty obvious who we were there for ;)) how hard The Cliks rocked and that they were off the hook (or something like that), so we know they made at least one new fan–especially since we saw him a bit later at Barnes & Noble in the “C” section of the CD area, obviously looking for The Cliks “Snakehouse”.

Side note…Morgan’s parents were in the audience and were so morgan-the-cliks.jpgcute! After the band was done and they’d left the stage (after some seriously long and loud applause and hooting and hollering from the audience!) an older couple started walking down the stairs toward the stage, Chucky B. made some comment, then someone on staff said they were the parents of “the drummer”, so Chucky B. made nice, and we all clapped for them. When Morgan’s parents hit the stage, right before slipping behind the wall to find the band, they faced everyone and waved, and boy could you tell they were Morgan’s folks–especially her mom, who she really looks like.

Alas, the good times had to eventually come to an end…sigh. It goes without saying that I am beyond anxious to see The Cliks again and am going through some serious withdrawals in the meantime. There is just something so pleasing about finding a band that is so vested in not only their music, but also in their fans. Jen, Nina, Morgan, and Lucas, could NOT have been any nicer to everyone during and after their shows, and I think that speaks volumes about the kind of people they must be–very sincere and caring. This was especially evident when I explained to Lucas after the Knitting Factory show, that one of my best buds, who had actually met them a couple of times in Vegas and at True Colors, was unable to make it back to LA for the show. Lucas was kind enough to tape a short, sincere message to Jackson–something I will never forget. How unbelievably cool of Lucas to do that!

Thank you SO MUCH to The Cliks, for all you give to your fans, personally and musically. Now get your asses back to SoCal ASAP! 😉

(***UPDATE 8/29/07:MUST SEE: Our “The Cliks” Adventures at The Knitting Factory and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Videos, Pics)***)

Am so excited about FINALLY getting to see The Cliks live tonight! My buddy Jackson got me hooked on them a few months ago when “Snakehouse” just came out and I’ve been dying to see them since then. Guess I’ll be going from one extreme to another because I’ll not only be seeing them tonight at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, but also at a taping of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson tomorrow. I believe there are still tickets available for tonight’s KF gig, but alas the tickets for the talk show taping are gone. You can catch The Cliks on this Thursday’s (technically early Friday AM) showing of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in most markets at 12:37 AM on CBS. Definitely check your local listings (and set you VCR or DVR!) since times do vary in some areas of the country.

Only thing that could make these two days perfect would be if Jackson were able to join us as planned, but sometimes life throws you a curve ball just to keep you on your toes. (Doesn’t life know staying on your toes gets tiring? ;)) You already know you’ll be missed like crazy, my dear friend, and that it mostly definitely won’t be the same without you, but in your honor I will dance my ass off and make lots of noise–as usual, on both counts. LYB

MySpace pages:

  • The Cliks
  • Maxitit (The Knitting Factory calendar has them listed as opening for The Cliks)
  • Tanner Horn and the Astronauts Before Breakfast (Their web site states they are opening for The Cliks even though the KF site doesn’t say so. I hope they are performing since I’m now hooked on them after discovering their music yesterday morning!  Get their 6-song EP on iTunes for only $5.94!)

The Cliks

Maxitit

Tanner Horn and the Astronauts Before Breakfast

The following Action Alert was obtained from the FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) website (after first hearing about it from a Health Care For All/OneCare Now.org bulletin) via their use of a Creative Commons license. I’m including below a couple of additional video links relating to the news report mentioned, but if you’d like to read the transcript or see the video of the CBS News report in question first, click here. And if you are so inclined after viewing and reading, please take part in FAIR‘s Action Alert.

Action Alert

CBS’s ‘Sicko’ Spin
Americans Don’t Want Single-Payer Health—Except They Do

6/25/07

On the June 22 broadcast of CBS Evening News, reporter Jeff Greenfield’s critique of Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko relied on a single premise: that the U.S. public and its political leaders do not embrace Moore’s preferred solution (a single-payer system, where medical care is provided by private doctors and hospitals but paid for by the government). But that argument is at odds with the available evidence.

While noting that Moore’s film “features affecting stories of personal suffering at the hands of indifferent corporations,” Greenfield argued that even though presidential candidates “have all talked a lot about changing the health care system…no one, Democrat or Republican, has come close to advocating the kind of government-run national health system Michael Moore proposes.” This is incorrect; Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D.-Ohio), a presidential contender, supports the very same approach, as do dozens of congressmembers who have co-sponsored H.R. 676, a bill that would provide single-payer coverage in the United States. Ironically, Kucinich appears on the screen next to Moore as Greenfield made this false claim.

Greenfield elaborated on this storyline, claiming that the U.S. does not have universal health coverage because “Americans are just different.” He went on to quote Paul Ginsburg of the Center for Studying Health System Change: “We’re much less willing to have government make decisions for people than is the case in Canada and Europe. It’s a cultural difference.”

That assessment is contradicted by recent polling. In a recent CNN poll (5/4-5/6/07), 64 percent of respondents supported the idea that “government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher taxes.” And a recent CBS/New York Times poll (2/23-27/07) found 64 percent support for the idea that the federal government should “guarantee health insurance for all,” and 60 percent supported paying higher taxes to provide such coverage. Additionally, 50 percent believed “fundamental changes” to the healthcare system were necessary, and another 40 percent thought the country needed to “completely rebuild” the system.

If Greenfield meant to say that political elites are slow to act on public opinion, he’s surely correct (and this would apply to many other political issues as well). The same is true of elite media outlets, which have dismissed and maligned single-payer healthcare for years. Imagine what the polls would like if there were a serious discussion of the issue, instead of dismissals from the likes of Jeff Greenfield.

ACTION: Tell CBS Evening News to correct Jeff Greenfield’s assertions about public opinion and single-payer health coverage. You could also point out that Dennis Kucinich—a proponent of such a system—is in fact a presidential candidate.

CONTACT:
CBS Evening News
(212) 975-3691
evening@cbsnews.com

Also send your comments to CBS Public Eye:
publiceye@cbs.com

CBS First Look with Jeff Greenfield “Will SiCKO Have a Political Impact?”

CBS EYE-To-EYE with Jeff Greenfield and Michael Moore

I got the following bulletin from Planned Parenthood’s MySpace folks and after shaking my head in dismay I contacted them to get the okay to publish it here. PLEASE take action and let CBS and FOX know that if they are willing to advertise products and television shows which promote sexual activity then they need to also take some responsibility in advertising products which help prevent/protect against various health issues which may result from sexual activity. Yes, I realize businesses have the right to choose who/what they advertise/promote, but we also have the right to let them know that we absolutely do NOT agree with their choices.

 

From: Planned Parenthood

Body: The New York Times reported this week that FOX and CBS are refusing to air a condom commercial. The reasons? FOX believes that ads for condoms should not focus on pregnancy prevention. In a letter, FOX writes, “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.” Meanwhile, CBS defended its rejection of the ad, stating that it “did not find it appropriate” for the network. Call me crazy, but in my mind condoms are used for two reasons that are equally important: to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections and to prevent unintended pregnancy. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that preventing unintended pregnancy IS a major public health issue.Tell FOX and CBS executives to stop the hypocrisy and air ads that protect public health. Take action here:http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/condom_adIn 2005, 70 percent of all television shows and 77 percent of prime-time shows contained sexual content. FOX and CBS shows are no exception. From Temptation Island and The O.C. (a show that broadcasts an average of 6.7 sex scenes an hour) on FOX and Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on CBS, both of these networks have been making millions on sex. It’s the height of hypocrisy that FOX and CBS routinely broadcast erectile dysfunction ads and sex-saturated, prime-time programming, but refused these condom ads.

Preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are top public health priorities. Television networks that pride themselves on public service should take every opportunity to educate the public about safer sex. By rejecting the ad, FOX and CBS have made the wrong move for public health. As major networks, FOX and CBS have an obligation to promote responsible decision making and commonsense public health solutions, including using condoms to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Tell FOX and CBS executives to stop the hypocrisy and air ads that protect public health. Take action here:

http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/condom_ad

We need as much support as we can get — please repost this bulletin!

Totally disturbing. Totally disgusting. And who knows how long this has been going on. Read on–if you dare.

Will China’s Practices Hurt Food Sales?: Melamine May Be Banned, But Rampant Pollution And Lack Of Inspections Could Deter Buyers-CBS Evening News-CBSNews.com (Accompanying video)

“Melamine is a cheap way to fake high protein levels in wheat gluten. The Chinese government — moving to protect its multibillion-dollar exports of fruits and vegetables — has now banned melamine and shuttered plants that may have used it.”

Chinese businesses say animal feed commonly laced with mildly toxic melamine-(AP)-Canada.com

“The mildly toxic chemical melamine is commonly added to animal feed in China, a manager of a feed company and one of the chemical’s producers said Monday, a process that boosts the feed’s sales value but risks introducing the chemical into meat eaten by humans.”

Melamine in big demand in China-News24.com

“Melamine is so popular as a protein lookalike feed additive that at least one Chinese manufacturer is believed to have torn down buildings to get to leftover scraps, industry officials said on Monday”

A look at the additive Melamine-(AP)-Chron.com

“Melamine can serve as a fertilizer, since it’s high in nitrogen. Typically in the U.S., however, Kapin said melamine is used to make melamine resin, a polymer similar to plastic and used to coat countertops or cabinets because it is hard and largely heat resistant.”

Poultry farms in Indiana given contaminated feed-Reuters.com

“The U.S. government said on Monday 38 poultry farms in Indiana were given contaminated feed in early February containing melamine, with some of the chickens likely to have entered the food supply.”

Here is the FDA news release from today (4/30/07) tracing the tainted animal feed to poultry farms:

FDA News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2007

Media Inquiries:
FDA Media Relations Office, 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries:
888-SAFEFOOD

Joint Update: FDA/USDA Trace Adulterated Animal Feed to Poultry

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2007 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have learned that byproducts from pet food manufactured with contaminated wheat gluten imported from China have been used in chicken feed on some farms in the state of Indiana. This information came to light as part of the continuing investigation into imported rice protein concentrate and wheat gluten that have been found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds.

At this time, the investigation indicates that approximately 30 broiler poultry farms and eight breeder poultry farms in Indiana received contaminated feed in early February and fed it to poultry within days of receiving it. All of the broilers believed to have been fed contaminated product have since been processed. The breeders that were fed the contaminated product are under voluntary hold by the flock owners.

As with exposure from hogs fed contaminated pet food and for similar reasons related to the dilution of the contamination, FDA and USDA believe the likelihood of illness after eating chicken fed the contaminated product is very low. Because there is no evidence of harm to humans associated with consumption of chicken fed the contaminated product, no recall of poultry products processed from these animals is being issued. Testing and the joint investigation continue. If any evidence surfaces to indicate there is harm to humans, the appropriate action will be taken.

Because the poultry being held have been fed adulterated products, USDA cannot knowingly approve products derived from these poultry for human consumption. USDA is offering to compensate producers who euthanize this poultry. USDA is also offering the expertise and assistance of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) personnel in carrying out depopulation activities, to ensure adherence to Federal and State laws.

FDA and USDA anticipate that as the investigation continues additional farms will likely be identified that received contaminated feed. As indicated in previous updates, FDA and USDA have also traced contaminated feed to swine farms in several states. The same procedures are being followed in relation to both swine and poultry; animals are being quarantined by state order or voluntarily held by the owners and USDA is offering compensation for depopulation and disposal of both swine and poultry that have been fed contaminated products.

USDA and FDA continue to conduct a full, comprehensive examination to protect the nation’s food supply and will provide updates as new information is confirmed.

Government: Hogs That Ate Contaminated Pet Food Will Not Be Recalled-(AP)-FoxNews.com (yes, I actually am using a Fox item…shocking! 😉)

“The government said last week that 345 of 6,000 hogs that may have the food are believed to have been placed on the path to slaughter, but that almost all are still on farms in California, New York and South Carolina.”

Here is the FDA news release (4/28/07) regarding the hogs who were fed melamine-tainted feed:

FDA News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2007

Media Inquiries:
FDA Press Office: 301-827-6242
USDA Press Office: 202-720-4623
Consumer Inquiries:
888-INFO-FDA

Joint Update: FDA/USDA Update on Tainted Animal Feed

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue their investigation of imported rice protein concentrate which has been found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds. Based on information currently available, FDA and USDA believe the likelihood of illness after eating pork from swine fed the contaminated product would be very low. The agencies are taking certain actions out of an abundance of caution. As announced on April 26, swine known to have been fed adulterated (contaminated) product will not be approved to enter the food supply. (Because the animal feed in question was adulterated, USDA cannot rule out the possibility that food produced from animals fed this product could also be adulterated. USDA cannot approve potentially adulterated meat.) This update provides additional information regarding the ongoing investigation.

As reported on April 22 by FDA, the Agency determined that rice protein concentrate imported from China was contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds. The product was imported by Wilbur-Ellis, an importer and distributor of agricultural products. Although the company began importing product from China in August 2006, the company did not become aware of the contamination until April 2007. As part of the ongoing investigation, FDA has determined the rice protein was used in the production of pet food and a portion of the pet food was used to produce animal feed. The ongoing investigation is tracing products distributed since August 2006 by Wilbur-Ellis throughout the distribution chain.

At this time, we have no evidence of harm to humans associated with the processed pork product, and therefore no recall of meat products processed from these animals is being issued. Testing and the joint investigation continue. If any evidence surfaces to indicate there is harm to humans, the appropriate action will be taken.

The assessment that, if there were to be harm to human health, it would be very low, is based on a number of factors, including the dilution of the contaminating melamine and melamine-related compounds from the original rice protein concentrate as it moves through the food system. First it is a partial ingredient in the pet food; second, it is only part of the total feed given to the hogs; third, it is not known to accumulate in the hogs and the hogs excrete melamine in their urine; fourth, even if present in pork, pork is only a small part of the average American diet. Neither FDA nor USDA has uncovered any evidence of harm to the swine from the contaminated feed. In addition to the dilutional factor and the lack of evidence of illnesses in the swine fed the waste pet food, we are not aware of any human illness that has occurred from exposure to melamine or its by-products. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention systems would have limited ability to detect subtle problems due to melamine and melamine-related compounds, no problems have been detected to date. To further evaluate any potential harm to humans, the FDA is developing and implementing further tests and risk assessments based on the toxicity of the compounds and how much of the compounds consumers could be expected to actually consume.

The ongoing investigation and product reconciliation and testing have led to certain farms. We expect the investigation will continue to find more places where product may have been distributed. As of April 26, sites in the following states are believed to have received and used contaminated product: California, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah. As we confirm additional sites that have received and used contaminated product, we will provide additional updates.

USDA and FDA continue to conduct a full, comprehensive examination to protect the nation’s food supply and will provide updates as new information is confirmed.

***Latest pet food recall “firm press releases” from the FDA***

Blue Buffalo Company, Ltd Issues Nationwide Recall of “Blue” Canned Dog Foods, “Blue Spa Select” Canned Cat Foods and “Blue” Dog Treats Manufactured At American Nutrition, Inc.

Sierra Pet Products, LLC Issues Nationwide Recall of “Harmony Farms” Canned Dog Foods, “Harmony Farms” Canned Cat Foods and “Harmony Farms” Dog Treats Manufactured at American Nutrition, Inc.

(***UPDATE:MUST SEE: The Cliks at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood TONIGHT(8/22/07) AND on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS TOMORROW(8/23/07), also MUST SEE: Our “The Cliks” Adventures at The Knitting Factory and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Videos, Pics)***)

“I think there’s something really sexy about feeling comfortable in your own skin.” ~Lucas Silveira

Time for us all to take a wee break from the never-ending pet food catastrophe, wouldn’t you say? Mind you, I’ll still be doing my best to keep folks updated while I’m back to full-time student teaching (one week down, seven to go…LOVE being back with the kids! ;)), but I figured an upbeat, fun post was in order, don’t you? And to help me with that, I’ve enlisted some help from my dear buddy Jackson, who is not only the man responsible for turning me onto the band we’d like to introduce you to, but also quite a musician himself. I knew he’d do a much better job using his musical background and writing prowess to get you hooked on the band than I would, so here’s what he has to say:

There’s a certain band that’s up until now kept rather quiet and under the radar of the mainstream music industry. With the release of the astonishing album, “Snakehouse,” hitting stores on April 24, the little-known foursome are captivating new fans of all types. And why should they not? This band has it all.

The pace is kept at a steady rate for the majority of “Snakehouse,” allowing a multitude of infectious melodies to seep into your mind and will remain there on some level until your next listen. The music is kept simple and is very much the definition of rock ‘n’ roll, timeless pieces nearing the style of Joan Jett but driven more so by the enthralling and powerful voice of Lucas Silveira. Fan favorites such as “Oh Yeah” and “Complicated” are just a fraction of the excellence to be heard. You might find yourself thinking you know how the specific tune over the speakers might develop, only to be amazed by a melody that’s not only completely different but instantly pleasing to the senses and intoxicating in its severity. Never once does Lucas shy from the microphone and never once does the album seem slow, despite the gentle ninth track, “Nobody Else Will,” which breathes an intense beauty in our ears before charming and impressing us one last time with the closer, “Back in Style.”

The band is The Cliks. Give them a try.

Thanks, Jackson! And I totally agree with giving them a try. After some arm-twisting from him, I hit their MySpace Page, liked what I heard, then headed over to iTunes and bought “Snakehouse” for $9.90. Have to say I have been listening to it for most of the day and still can’t get enough! “Oh Yeah” and “Nobody Else Will” are instant favorites of mine, but honestly there isn’t one song on the CD that didn’t grab me. The energy and intensity put out by the band, the incredible strength of Lucas’ vocals, and the honesty and raw emotion of the lyrics just has me entranced. I LOVE it when I run across music that affects me in that way.

Here is The Cliks web site, some short clips on YouTube, their management page, and a really good read about the winding path that has brought Lucas Silveira to where he is at now. Also got the okay from Kelly Davidson (Etched on Film) to link to her blog page, where you’ll find a link to a gallery of some incredible pictures she took of The Cliks on April 26, 2007. The only video out so far is “Oh Yeah”, which I’m including below. I dare you to not play it over and over again! Enjoy the music, everyone. And mark my words (okay, they were Jackson’s words first), this band will be HUGE in no time at all.

The Cliks-“Oh Yeah”

I just watched the 11 o’clock news on CBS2 in Los Angeles, and unfortunately found answers to the hog farm questions I posed in my earlier post tonight. I tell ya, if this excerpt won’t get you to read the entire story, and sit up and take notice that this situation is NOT just an issue for those with pets, I don’t know what will.

“State officials believe the melamine came from rice protein concentrate imported from China by Diamond Pet Food’s Lathrop facility, which produces products under the Natural Balance brand and sold salvage pet food to the farm for pig feed.”

If this melamine contamination of wheat gluten, rice protein, and corn gluten, has not directly entered the human food system already, this story is an indication of how it can make its way there indirectly. Tip of the iceberg, people, tip of the iceberg. I also find it quite bothersome to discover that this is what is happening with the recalled food: being sold as “salvaged” food. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

(4/20-Updated story here.) 

Interesting, eclectic mix of news on the pet food contamination situation. As for the CBS story, I think anyone really following the developments knew long ago that the wheat gluten in some pet food was “food grade (suitable for human consumption products), so it wasn’t really any stretch of the imagination for the same situation to have occurred with Menu Foods. Also sad to see that the pet food has reached other continents such as South Africa. And maybe it’s just because I’ve been so consumed with this tainted pet food mess and reading so much on it, but I have a hard time believing the survey stating that most Americans aren’t changing anything with the diet of their pets on the heels of this scare. Then again, I suppose we’ve earned our “Lazy American” title for a reason, right? 😉

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POSTS for 3/17-8/22:

  • 3/18/07: Science Diet has added some of their foods to the voluntary recall list. Pets HAVE died and others are suffering severe health problems, so PLEASE check this new list AND the ones I listed above. Thank you! Science Diet Recall (On 3/30/07 Science Diet recalled feline m/d)
  • 3/18/07 10:15PM PST: The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is even posting information which shows just how far-reaching this has become. They even have a web page with information on how to register adverse reactions/consumer complaints. I appreciate that so many of you are reading as much as you can about this and staying on top of the situation. What wonderful owners your pets have! 🙂 And PLEASE continue to spread the information to AS MANY folks as you can, and have THEM stay on top of it as well. I’ll definitely continue to add information as I find out about it.
  • 3/19/07 11:10 AM PST: Looks like Menu Foods has another press release, which interestingly enough says it’s not for US newswire services, whatever THAT really means. It’s in PDF format and can be accessed from their main recall page.
  • 3/20/07 11:20 AM PST: It is disconcerting to hear that in February, Menu Foods apparently was notified of the problems with pets eating certain Menu Foods produced food, did their own testing in which approximately 17% of the tested pets died, yet it wasn’t until March 16th that the recall was announced?!?! I am obviously no expert on how these things work, but it sure seems to me that the motto of “better safe than sorry” should have been in place LONG BEFORE March 16th! Menu Foods recall notice states:

“We take these complaints very seriously and, while we are still looking for a specific cause, we are acting to err on the side of caution” said Paul K. Henderson, President and CEO, Menu Foods. “We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that our products maintain the very highest quality standards.”

Seems to me that “acting to err on the side of caution” would have meant alerting consumers about the problems MUCH sooner than they did. According to news reports, Menu Foods was alerted by pet owners about deaths and renal failure on February 20th, Menu Foods began their own tests February 27th where between 15%-20% of the pets they tested died, yet the recall was not announced until March 16th, THREE WEEKS AFTER they were first alerted of the deaths and health issues?!?!

I certainly hope to hear SOME type of logical explanation SOON from Menu Foods, but until then all I can assume is that $$$$ (especially since in their initial press release on 3/16/07 they repeatedly mention how much the recall could cost their company) and probable financial loss is what had Menu Foods dragging their feet, while their consumers were unknowingly feeding their beloved pets food which could possibly kill them, if not leave them with painful health issues and enormous veterinary bills which many owners cannot truly afford. I worked in the veterinary field for nearly 7 years and know the high cost of health care for pets, along with having had expensive medical situations with my own pets. But that is what pet owners do, they care for their pets as if they were members of their family, which they are (just four-legged instead of two-legged), and will put themselves into debt just to make sure their pets get the best care possible. Unfortunately there will be pets whose health care costs related to the issues from the tainted food will be too high for some owners to absorb, and they will then have to make the heartbreaking choice to have their beloved pet euthanized.

Come on Menu Foods, let’s get cracking on finding some solutions here. I think everyone understands that “accidents” and “mistakes” do happen in life, which might possibly explain how the food became tainted in the first place, but the part I’m having the hardest time understanding right now is why the recall took so long to be announced to consumers. What do you have to say Menu Foods? You have countless pet owners looking to you for answers.

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Gee, someone who THINKS about the consequences of his words, who SPEAKS from the heart (also seen when he eulogized his father) without regard to ratings, who is willing to BARE his soul and expose his own past frailties (which we all have in one form or another), and who has the ability to still keep his extraordinary sense of HUMOR all along. Whodathunk it? Oh wait, anyone who has been a follower of Craig and his The Late Late Show, isn’t the least bit surprised by this. It is precisely what we’ve come to expect from him. Kudos to you, Craig!

…of your hair before you head out the door. You might not have noticed it dropping today when the blog went over 1,000 hits, but tons of confetti and many balloons DID drop on ya. Yup, that was me. Hey, I’m ALL about the party atmosphere, kids, so let’s see what videos I can dig up on YouTube to celebrate. (Read this all as my way of being swamped with life/school right now, BUT wanting to acknowledge this little milestone. 🙂)

Oh come on, you just KNEW I’d have to go old school on ya and put this one up since it IS a “Celebration”! Hey, we ARE talking old school here–they played at my Grad Nite at Disneyland…along with K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Yup, WAY old school, my dears! Now come on, kick those legs as high up as the band members do. Get a little cardio action going on!

And to get in a tummy work-out from laughing, here’s a little Craig Ferguson for you from the night we were in the audience back in October. Can you tell which laugh is mine? No, it’s not THAT one. 😉

Yes, I think Craig Ferguson (The Late Late Show on CBS) is one of THE funniest things on TV, and most definitely THE funniest late night talk show host. His monologues are, much more often than not (okay, 99.9% of the time!), gems that will have you laughing harder than heck. (You might want to borrow one of those NASA diapers from Lisa Nowak. ;)) His rapport with “big name” stars to the “who in the heck is that?” guest, is down-to-earth, enjoyable to watch, and full of off-the-cuff comments and humor.

I had the opportunity to be in the audience for one of his shows and am pleased to say that Craig is as welcoming with his studio audience as he is with his on-screen guests, spending the break time coming over to chat with us instead of getting primped and coiffed. Watch the show for any length of time and you’ll also see that this is a man whose humor is rivaled not only by his intelligence (he is quite articulate on just about everything!), but also those devilishly handsome good looks! (There, I’ve said it.) Plus, the guy’s a San Diego Chargers fan so OF COURSE he’s got my support. Yup, humor, intelligence, Chargers fan, AND good looks…sigh. 😉

Here are a couple clips of his. The first is called “Bad Hair Day” and is his take on…um…uh…hair. Yeah, that’s it–hair. The second is of him talking about going to his first Chargers game. Enjoy!

***UPDATE: CBS posted a couple more that you MUST watch–they’re hilarious! One is “Playboy Bunny Craig”, the other “When Connery Met Sally” All of these videos, except for the Chargers one, were from the same night. So WHY is it that you aren’t watching the show?!?!***

Sniffin’ out the info

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