Monday, May 26, 2008

Flowers of Memory

Today is a day of remembering, of honoring, and of celebrating the lives and heroicism of the men and women who have fought and served, taking up arms, and dedicating their service to a calling of sacrifice and duty. But as we remember and honor these heroes--both the quick and the dead--we must also remember the forgotten ones, those whose families have all but faded away.

It was eight years ago that a French couple made it their duty to honor and remember our fallen heroes when their own families could not. Les Fleurs de la Memoire, or Flowers of Memory, was created; and volunteers have taken it upon themselves to adopt the graves of the fallen Americans at Normandy, and use this day to honor them with flowers, with ceremony, and with the rightful memorial they deserve.

During the ceremony, a French priest recites the Lord's Prayer, while a Rabbi chants the Kadish. Finally, a French military band performs the "Star-Spangled Banner." Simple as it is, these men and women of Les Fleurs de la Memoire are giving us a gift more precious than we can come to grasp. They are becoming a part of our families, and making us a part of theirs.

May we all take today to remember our family, to honor them, and to thank them for their loyal commitment. But more importantly, may we take their memories with us each and every day, and let them become more a part of who we are. Maybe then, we might just grow into a better people, a people willing to help and to love and to sacrifice for others the way they have sacrificed for us.

To learn more about Les Fleurs de la Memoire, read the article on to learn more.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Dead Poet's Myspace Page

I was remembering one of my literature classes I took at Florida Atlantic University and looking for one of the poets online. I couldn't remember his name for the life of me and then I found him: Gerard Manley Hopkins, an English poet and Jesuit priest. His poems were the highlight of that semester. Just an overwhelming love, a rhythm like no other, and alliteration out the wazoo! In fact, here's my favourite of his many poems: Pied Beauty.

Any way. I was looking him up when I found a myspace page for him. I shook my head in disbelief, that some twit had created a myspace page--a freakin' myspace page--for a dead poet. Well, apparently it's a pretty common thing. Because not only did I find Hopkins' myspace page, but ones for W.B. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, William Blake, Percy Shelley, Matthew Arnold, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, T.S. Elliot, Poe, and so on until I found one for George MacDonald, who is without a doubt one of my favourite writers and novelists of all time. So I had to check out his page.

I saw the comments and it hit me: these pages give people a chance to thank those--like MacDonald--who have helped them in so many ways through their writing. The comments were so moving and just incredibly amazing. Not only are those writers living on through their works, but they are living on through the comments and many displays of appreciation shown by others. To see how one person has touched so many lives, and for someone to create an outlet--like a myspace page--for that person to share their gratitude is one of the most amazing and awesome things I've witnessed in my entire life.

That's all, really. I just wanted to share that.

"He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him."

John Atkinson Grimshaw

Back in the early spring of 2006 I worked the International Fine Arts Exposition at the Palm Beach County Convention Center here in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was the first Union gig I had ever worked, thanks to my friend Tristan, and I was excited to see the expensive art that everyone kept telling me about. The beauty of the works, the history and the depth of it all took an uncomfortable backseat to the number of dollar signs placed next to each frame.

It was during my time here, though, that I got to see some of the most beautiful paintings I had ever witnessed. From Pierre-Auguste Renoir to Pablo Picasso and Sophie Anderson, this art show was deluged with rich art history and talent; and I wanted to drink it in as much as I could.

It was when I reached this one particular area that things really started getting good. It was here that I saw several paintings by the English, Victorian-era painter, John Atkinson Grimshaw.

His paintings were simple landscapes that could easily be passed over. But a second look pulled you into the world Grimshaw created on each canvas he touched. His uncanny attention to detail blew my mind; and though seemingly similar, each piece carried its own depth, cast its own shadows, conveyed its own mood. And until the day that xposition loaded out, I would always stop by and just stare at those paintings.

How do these paintings make you feel? What similarities can you find between the paintings?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

California Overturns Ban on Gay Marriage

In what some will call the most positive thing to come out of George W. Bush's Presidency (though having nothing to do with it himself), the California Supreme Court overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage Thursday, May 15, 2008.

Coming after a 4-3 ruling, and years of debate and controversy, the court came to the conclusion that the state's constitution granted a natural "right to marry" to all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation. Though not without its own controversy, opposing groups are already working on getting an initiative attached to this November's ballot that will address the issue directly, amending the state's Constitution, and banning same-sex marriage in California once and for all.

"No matter how you stretch California's Constitution, you cannot find anywhere in its text, its history or tradition that now, after so many years, it magically protects what most societies condemn," said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, to the Los Angeles Times.

It would certainly be prudent to recall that not fifty years ago most societies condemned the equality of Blacks to Whites, and of women to men. Every injustice that has been overturned has carried its fair share of controversy and adversity. This is certainly no different.

"Our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation," Justice Ron George wrote for the majority. "An individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."

And to those who would dare to strike at the liberality of the California Supreme Court, it should be noted that six of the seven justices are Republicans. Certainly if they can find enough cause and be open enough to change their views, others will see this as a good thing as well.

Even Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has twice vetoed legislation aimed at legalizing gay marriage, has said "I respect the court's decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling."

The ruling, made on the 15th of this month, will be effective within 30 days. This gives same-sex couples wishing to marry through mid-June to make their arrangements. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the "decision a victory for California," stating that he would officiate as many same-sex marriages as possible.

The ruling allows all same-sex couples in California, as well as same-sex couples throughout the entire United States, the opportunity to be legally married. Though the decision grants same-sex couples in California the same full rights as heterosexual couples, it does not include all rights on the federal level, such as granting Social Security to a same-sex husband or wife. Similarly, states that do not allow gay marriage are not legally obligated to recognize the validity of its residents' new marriage.

Many believe this historic event will set a precedent for other states and, eventually, the federal government to make amendments defining marriage as not just between a man and a woman, but as between any consenting adult and another.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Edwards Backs Obama

For months now, the public has waited for the former North Carolina Senator's endorsement of either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But at a rally for Mr. Obama on Wednesday, John Edwards made a surprise appearance saying, "There is one man who knows this is the time for bold leadership ... and that man is Barack Obama." Wanting to begin unifying the Democratic Party, Mr. Edwards also stated that Obama has joined on with him to cut poverty in half within 10 years. Moments later, Obama confirmed that message to the audience in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Some say that Edwards' endorsement comes too late, stating that his backing of Obama could have helped the Illinois Senator earlier on in the campaign trail. Regardless, Edwards support of Obama could certainly turn the tables, possibly bringing Super-Delagates over to Obama; not to mention the possibilities within the remaining primaries of Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota.

Though giving his endorsement of Obama, Edwards also praised Hillary Clinton at the Michigan rally. MSNBC reports Edwards as saying, "We are a stronger party" because of her involvement and "we're going to have a stronger nominee in the fall because of her work."

In response, Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said in a statement: "We respect John Edwards, but as the voters of West Virginia showed last night, this thing is far from over." Indeed, with the race as close as it is, and with Clinton winning three of the last five primaries, the former New York Senator surely still has a viable chance at making it to a nomination.

Clinton herself has said she will continue through the remaining primaries in an attempt to convince the American people that she is best suited to defeat John McCain come November.

John Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, remains steadfast to Mrs. Clinton, stating her healthcare plan as the superior one. She did not accompany her husband to Michigan; neither did her endorsement.

This blog brought to you in part by NPR and MSNBC.
Photo courtesy of Jae C. Hong, from

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jeremiah, This Is For You.

Jeremiah, I know Mary-Anne's let you hear the baby's heartbeat over the phone; but there's just something about seeing it as well that makes it so much better. So I took a few clips with my phone and thought I'd share them with you.

Take care, brother. We'll see you when you get home.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Charlie's Golf Tournament

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the then upcoming Charles R. Rubado Memorial Gold Tournament. Well, the tournament has come and gone, and so I thought I'd share the details of the day's events.

The day began at the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, where a memorial service was held in honor of Charlie. During the service, resident artist and co-founder of the American Ideals Foundation, Inc (Not For Profit) Greg Crumbly of Lakeland, who also works for the group who "put on" the service, presented Charlie's parents and Mary-Anne with an original work, a representation of Charlie's life.

The same artist also unveiled a new piece, inspired by Charlie, dedicated to all the servicemen and -women who put themselves on the line for us so selflessly and honorably.

We then heard the premier of a piece written for piano, by composer and co-founder of the American Ideals Foundation, Robert Moffa. The piece, titled "The Military Hero," also inspired by Charlie, was a "musical portrait" of Charlie's life, his call to duty, and his farewell.

Afterwards, there was a releasing of butterflies, the symbol of new birth.

Lots of pictures were taken once the service had concluded.

Mary-Anne took us to see the ROTC library dedicated in honory of Charlie. There we also saw the bench bought by the Zeta Sorority House in honor of Charlie.

Then it was off to the tournament!

Okay. Let me tell you one thing. The Hollingsworths are not golfers. So we didn't golf. But we had a great time all the same! We stayed in at the clubhouse most of the day, had some lunch at the restaurant there, and just had a good time. Later the players came back in and we had dinner in the clubhouse. Awards were given out, and a check was presented to the Rubado family for the Charles Rubado Scholarship at FSC. This year's total amount given to the scholarship fund was over $4,000, nearly topping the first year's total.

It was great seeing Charlie's parents to happy. It had been a long time since I saw them smile last. We all had a great time. Shannon got to say hi to her soon-to-be nephew, and I got to see my sister. And yes, Mary-Anne is really pregnant! Wow! :)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Publix Green Bags

I know this is nothing new, but this evening when I went to my local Publix Supermarket I decided to buy the re-usable green bags instead of using the now standard Publix plastic bag. In an articale I read about the green bags, one website reports that 1 million plastic bags are used in the United States every minute, and that the average family accumulates an average of 60 bags in only four trips to stores.

Those kind of statistics are quite disheartening. But what's more is that the article reports 100 billion plastic bags discarded each year by Americans; bags that took nearly 12 million barrels of oil to produce.

It really makes me re-think using plastic, especially if not using plastic will not only help the environment, but could possibly cause a chain reaction that would decrease the number of barrels of oil consumed, and thus possibly allowing for a price drop in the cost of oil.

So I'm here to challenge each of you to re-think using those plastic bags. Most supermarkets produce and sell re-usable bags, like Publix Supermarkets. Some markets, like the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods, Whole Foods Market, have even completely rid their stores of plastic bags, asking customers to BYOB (or, Bring Your Own Bag). At both Whole Foods and Publix, their re-usable bags can be purchased for no more than $1.49. Right now, Publix is offering their's for $.99.

These green bags, generally produced from Non Woven Polypropylene (NWPP), though plastic in itself, are re-usable and can most likely be used for years to come. Some bags, like Whole Foods re-usable bags are made from recycled plastic bottles, thus helping the environment in two big ways. These bags are also generally designed to hold the amount of food that would usually fit into 3-4 standard plastic bags, so there's less to carry when you leave the store.

And for those of you who do still use plastic bags, or who plan to continue using them, I say this. Re-use them when you need to take lunch to work (like I've been doing) or when you need to tote something around. But when you finish, or when you go back to the supermarket, take them with you. Most supermarkets offer recycling bins specifically designed for your old plastic bags.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

At work this week I've been working the musical adaptation of Mo Willems' award-winning picture book, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The three-person crew (two of which act as the cast) has been wonderful and spirited during this week's run. It's been a privilege working with them and I wish them all the best, especially CJ (who is to be married this August 16, 2008)!

The books (Yes, there is more than one Pigeon book!) seem funny; enough so that they've won author/illustrator Mo Willems multiple children's books awards. On top of the now six Pigeon books (two of which are board books), Mr. Willems has also written and illustrated the Knuffle Bunny books, the Elephant and Piggie series and other, all of which have become highly acclaimed and award-winning children's books. Mo Willems has also won six Emmys for his writing on Sesame Street, and has done vast work for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

I have yet to personally read any of Mr. Willems' books; but having seen the Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! musical play this week, I can assure you that both children and adults alike will be laughing and learning as they enjoy the crazy shenanigans Mo Willems offers.

Mo Willems' books can be bought wherever books are sold, as well as For the collectors out there, autographed copies of Mo's books can be purchased at

Mo currently keeps up a blog here on, where he talks about his books, posts little doodles, and just generally keeps his audience informed. He also keeps a FAQ blog for people to write him and ask questions.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Birds Eye Steamfresh Vegetables

Recently, my mother-in-law-to-be made the new Birds Eye Steamfresh Green Beans with dinner. It was the first time she had tried them, and it was my first time as well.

Both of us were very surprised with them as they were not only very good, but they tasted remarkably similar to fresh green beans. I honestly thought they were fresh. Never would I have assumed them to have been frozen vegetables.

So we tried the other varieties: corn, peas, broccoli, mixed vegetables, and even a mixed veggies with white rice. All of them have been incredibly good. Everything tastes as if it were just picked, brought in, and cooked.

So here I am writing about how awesome some frozen vegetables are. Do yourself a favor and try them. I promise you you won't regret trying these Steamfresh vegetables.

The Show Goes On... Unfortunately

It is with deep sadness that I announce that Riverdance will continue its run at the Kravis Center, as the owner of Riverdance cancelled their contract with the Kravis Center and hired the union to replace it, allowing them to complete their run at The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.

I guess I should have known this would happen. Babies generally get what they want, right?

There has already been talk of another union strike to take place when the next Kravis-presented yellow card show, Go Diego Go Live!, comes to the Kravis Center on June 18, 2008.

Whatever. I still have a job.

It was interesting to see this the union workers this morning. Sure enough, half of them were on stage working, the other half outside sitting down doing nothing. What else is new?

An article (with a union slant) written by the Palm Beach Post can be read here.

The Cost of Doing Business

Effective May 12, 2008, we will see changes in the cost of stamps as well as other methods of shipping with the United States Postal Service. Though not necessarily a significant increase, as the cost of stamps rise from $.41 to $.42 per stamp, it's rather inevitable that people will have mixed feelings.

On the one hand, even though a $.01 increase is not a large hike, some penny-pinchers will disagree given the state of increase on the cost of nearly every other good or service provided in the U.S. And some may simply disagree with it on the basis of principle. On the other hand, even if you purchased a roll of 100 stamps, it would only amount to a $1 increase per 100 stamps. Surely that's not too steep a price to pay given the business' cost of operation.

Whether or not you feel the cost increase is necessary, the Postal Service has already given you a break. In April of 2007, the USPS released its Forever Stamp. This stamp, at the cost of $.41, will always be good, no matter the present cost of stamps. In other words, even if the price of stamps jumps to $.75 per stamp (purely hypothetical), the Forever Stamps you purchase at $.41 will still be accepted. Now that's a pretty good deal. But you'd better stock up on these stamps now, because come May 12, you won't be able to purchase them for that price.

If you want to see what changes will take place on May 12, 2008, please visit the United States Postal Service website. And if you want to see a price chart comparison of prices now and those effective May 12, visit the Pitney Bowes website.

Stamps can be purchased at any USPS location, the online USPS store, as well as your local Costco Wholesaler.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I.A.T.S.E. Local Bag of Crap

Today I got my first taste of a union strike, something that's been ongoing at my work, The Raymon F. Kravis Center the Performing Arts, for the last 7+ years.

Today we were supposed to load in Riverdance as they gave their farewell performances. That load in never took place.

Apparently the local theatre union, I.A.T.S.E. Local 500, didn't want the Kravis Center working Riverdance, a yellow card show (union show). It makes sense that they would be upset that a show specifically designated for their employees was now being worked by non-union members. Riverdance did, however, sign a contract with the Kravis Center, fully aware of its non-union status. And so this morning, the local union did what it does best: prevent any real work from getting done.

Come on, Local 500, get over yourselves.

As stated above, this isn't our first run in with the union. The Kravis Center used to be a strictly union house, but has since retired its yellow card, hiring its own full-time house crew to take over. With that change comes the influx of ivy-league lawyers and the promise of a long, drawn-out courtship that will ultimately end in an even more bitter divorce than the fighting that brought it there to begin with.

So today ended well for everyone except the theatre-goers. Kravis Center crew got a well needed day of rest; Kravis hired Part-Time Tech (PTT) workers got a free ride today; It was business as usual for the union members holding the picket lines. Looks like everyone got a good deal out of it except for those now having to deal with getting refunds for the show that did not go on.

As it stands now, it's up in the air as to whether or not the show will go on. There are talks of whether the union will get the show or whether Riverdance will say farewell early and dance into their next city fully rested.

Kung-Fu Fighting! Hu!

Living in South Florida--and Palm Beach County at that--I've seen more homeless people than I care to ever see again. I've gotten the bums that come up to your car windows and ask for money. I'll admit, I've purposefully stared straight ahead, pretended to be on the phone or otherwise engaged in order to get them to leave me alone. I'll also admit that I've given more money to them than I'd ever give again. Whether I give or not usually depends on my mood and whether or not (usually not) I have cash on hand. I've heard the sad stories and seen the signs meant to induce guilt in its readers. But never have those stories been quite as charismatic or original as the one above. So I salute you Mr. Homeless-Kung-Fu-Lesson-Needer. For your unending quest for the ultimate cardboard sign, you are unsurpassed in your efforts. So take a bow and breath of that much needed fresh air, for today no ninja can touch you.

I would have definitely given that guy some money. Especially with those smiley faces. Oh yeah.

Friday, May 2, 2008

August Rush

Taken from my old blog:

Having been released on November 21st and grossing a mere $28 million at the box office (As of December 22, 2007), August Rush may not have made an impression as a holiday blockbuster or an epic tale of good versus evil, but it has made an impression seen only in its steady numbers and its stay among the top ten at the box office this last month.

In an age where people speak of the lack or originality of Hollywood with apathy and indifference, as a collective bent solely on the prospective buck, it's quite phenomenal to see a movie such as this slowly creep its way into our lives and into our theaters.

The story in and of itself is a simple one, of an orphan boy whose sole purpose in life is to find the parents he was separated from at birth. The journey, however, is so much more than simple. The boy discovers he has an innate musical ability rivaling Mozart as a boy genius who can [assumingly] pick up any instrument and play it as if he's always been able to. It is now that we begin to hear the music that has been yearning to escape from the young Evan Taylor.

Freddie Highmore, Terrance Howard, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Robin Williams star in this captivating and miraculous film of hope, of love, and of a higher purpose.

Gimme Fuel, Gimme Fire, Gimme That Which I Desire

In the ongoing quest to find cheap gas, I've taken it upon myself to find the cheapest gas (within my normal rounds) in Palm Beach County. From what I've seen, and from what I've spent, I can tell you that, for the most part, your best bet is sticking to one of three stations: Sunoco, BP, or Hess. Generally those three will have fairly similar prices, and you can bet that they're going to be cheaper than most any other station by at least $.04-.05 per gallon. It may not sound like much, but we all know where that got us: "Oh, $.25 isn't too much of an increase. Now $.20 more isn't so bad." Yeah. Right. And if the $.04-.05 savings isn't enough of an incentive, how about this. Both Sunoco and Hess have little to no dealing with Middle-Eastern oil companies.

Also, I found this website,, that will give you the cheapest gas stations listed by city. Take a gander. I filled up today for $3.659 at one of the Sunoco stations listed there. The pricing is accurate (or at least as accurate as I can tell). If anyone comes across any other sites that point out cheaper gas, be a chap, do share.

The Happening

M. Night Shyamalan's latest supernatural thriller, The Happening, is coming to theaters Friday, June 13, 2008. A story about a "family on the run from a natural crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity," The Happening stars Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, and Signs star Abigail Breslin's older brother, Spencer. This will be M. Night's eigth film as director, sixth as producer, and ninth as writer.

Many people were skeptical about taking on this film, what with the relative success of Shyamalan's last two films, The Village and The Lady in the Water. Lucky for us, Fox struck a deal with the brilliant writer/director; and after some re-writes gave Shyamalan the go to start filming.

Personally, I'm thrilled to see a new M. Night film. Since The Village, most have fallen off the wagon, leaving only the true M. Night followers to revel in the depth and richness of his films. I truly am amazed everytime anyone speaks of the simplicity of his recent movies. Maybe it's not the films that are simple, though, but the minds of those who simply do not get it. It's not about aliens, living like the amish, or "those we don't speak of." It's not about a lady in the water, per se. It's about the journey; what part do we play? Do we see signs? Do we understand that an innocent saved innocence, and not the lies of our parents? Do we understand that we can all make a difference, and help to shape and change the future of our own world?

We can all make a difference. At least that's what I get from his films; and that's how I feel after seeing his films, like I can do anything, that I matter, that I can and am supposed to play a bigger part in my role here as a man living on a tiny planet called earth.

Do yourself a favor. Make sure you see The Happening when it comes out Friday, June 13, 2008.