A long, successful career sometimes result in complacency, a sense of entitlement that dues have been paid and there’s no need to push any boundaries. It can also provide some insularity, or protection from retribution for crossing those boundaries.
Nobel Prize winner José Saramago (Nov. 16, 1922-June 18, 2010) has had a long and successful career, but Cain ($24, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, translated from Portugese by Margaret Jull Costa), his final novel, is proof that he didn’t suffer from complacency.
The Nobel laureate draws on the Old Testament to produce a fable that could end up uniting Christians, Jews, and Muslims in protest over this slim novel, something the most powerful nations in the world have been unable to do - ever. It’s heretical and hysterical, blasphemous and boisterous; it’s a new twist on an old story with over 2000 years of fallout, some imagination, and an author unafraid of stepping over the line.
Turns out Im a little bit Chinese.
Amy Chua is making news lately thanks to her controversial new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Chua is accused of promoting the idea that Chinese moms and their techniques are superior to Western parenting styles.
But the truth is, like pesky Christians who believe Harry Potter encourages devil worship, those getting upset and offended obviously havent read the book.
Tiger Mother documents Chuas struggle to raise two daughters according to the strict example of her immigrant parents. In theory, emulating her Chinese parents should be a good idea. After all, Chua is a law professor at Yale and her two sisters are equally successful. The youngest, with Down syndrome, is a multiple gold-medal winner in Special Olympics.
But Chuas young daughters are a blend of cultures, her husband is Jewish, and two generations removed from the homeland. When Chuas youngest daughter, Lulu, rebels, Chua has to rethink her ideas and is ultimately humbled.
I know from experience, writing about parenting issues always offends someone. Lots of shitty parents mistakenly believe they are doing their best and hope just the desire for happy kids means something. It doesnt. A parents intent is irrelevant. Those who raise nightmares for the rest of us should read books like Tiger Mother before they take the condoms off. Maybe it would help. If moms and dads choose to tackle parenting unprepared and half-assed, they should learn to handle criticism.
As predicted, Pensacola-based U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson declared Monday that the federal health care law passed last year is unconstitutional, writing "Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void." Unlike the Virginia judge who ruled that just the individual mandate was unconstitutional, Vinson declared the entire law to be unconstitutional.
Laura Goodhue of the group Florida Chain took particular umbrage at the idea that all activity related to the health care law is now invalid. "Such action is preposterous, and is tantamount to saying that a new house should be torn to the ground because there is a pending question about a permit for its ventilation system."
Former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum first brought the case to Judge Vinson last year, a move that from the start was criticized by Democrats as "cherry-picking" (Pensacola in the Panhandle is considered one of the more conservative parts of the state).
Since his departure from office, McCollum's successor, Pam Bondi, has taken over the case. Repealing the health care law was one of the prime tenets of her successful victory over Democrat Dan Gelber last November, and she hailed the decision. "Todays ruling by Judge Vinson is an important victory for every person who believes in the freedoms granted to us by our Constitution. This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional."
Unless you've been living on Pluto since Barack Obama was elected president, you know that there is a huge partisan divide on this issue, and you can easily learn who supports the bill or not based on their political affiliation. So for every Marco Rubio or Bondi extolling the judge's ruling today, you'll get an equally vociferous criticism from a Democrat.
Scott Arceneaux is executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. He said the ruling was not only wrong for Florida's seniors, kids and small business owners already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, but "this latest example of conservative judicial activism wrongly interprets the Constitution."
The ruling comes just after the GOP-led House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and today Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint, the Senator from South Carolina, announced that all 47 Republican members of the Senate are for repeal, as he and his GOP brethren hope that they can compel Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring the repeal measure up for a vote in that august chamber.
I saw more than 30 films at the Sundance Film Festival, and my favorite feature was Mad Bastards, a small independent gem from Australia. Director Brendan Fletcher had created several videos with the Pigram Brothers, well-known Australian folk musicians. They wanted to collaborate in the development of a feature film exploring a side of Australia largely unknown to most Australians, and completely alien to the rest of the world. They listened to stories from the strongly aboriginal region of Kimberley, Australia, where they'd been working, and a recurrent theme emerged: Many of the men had grown up without a father, and as they grew up they felt unhinged and uprooted and angry. They had become literally what they call locally "mad bastards."
The filmmakers decided to tell the story of a troubled man in search of the son he'd abandoned long ago. To achieve authenticity, they drew elements of the story directly from the lives of the key actors in the film, most of whom had never acted before. The result is fantastic it looks good, the acting feels utterly fresh and convincing, and the music is refreshing and upbeat. What's even better, you don't have to wait to see it, as it was picked up by IFC and is right now available on local cable on demand through its "Sundance Selects" program.
's Certified Permaculture Designer, Robert Segundo, will be leading a four-part, hands-on series of permaculture classes beginning this Saturday, February 5th, at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in South St. Petersburg. Each two-hour course will be held every Saturday in the month of February.
"Permaculturist Robert Segundo will teach sustainable practices and their implementation in the Florida landscape, with a focus on Florida micro-climates and the challenges of growing in Pinellas County," according to Fire of Hope.
Whether a gardening expert or newbie, everyone will gain something from these educational workshops that will educate participants on this method of organic gardening that encourages planting species that will work with the surrounding ecosystem to produce more, consume less, and help neighboring plants thrive without the use of chemical fertilizers.
Across America there are probably more finger foods and appetizers consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day each year. So I thought Id share my favorite Super Bowl party dish thats easy to make and even easier to devour. While I cant take credit for the recipe, I can take credit for the name.
If you take the few minutes it will cost you this Sunday to make this dish, youll see why Ive dubbed it, Jalapenos Gone to Heaven. Now lets get into what youll need.
Streetcars were once the driving force for U.S. cities in the 1940s and 50s, and they continue to make a comeback.
The city of Tampa, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) came together in 2002 to bring back the once revered and historic streetcar to Tampa.
Today in downtown Tampa, HART unveiled the new Whiting streetcar extension located on Franklin and Whiting streets. The expanded route has been in existence since December, but today was the official grand opening.
Previously, the streetcar took riders from 20th Street in Ybor City and ended at the Dick Greco Plaza behind the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel. Now with the one-third mile extension, riders can go to the new Whiting Station located near the YMCA and Hattricks in the heart of downtown Tampa.
The $5.3 million project became possible with federal funds including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
According to David Armijo, chief executive officer for HART, the trolley has always operated at about a 10 percent deficit and he admits it needs more resources. There are a number of options, including selling more advertising, building more ridership or even more naming rights, he said.
In a time when people are looking for more options in face of the rising price of gas, the streetcar may become a more attractive service for Tampa residents. Ridership numbers are already going up. The revenues have started to come back since we opened this extension in December. Our ridership jumped in December almost 15 percent, said Armijo. We projected 8-10 percent more ridership with this station, so were actually ahead of schedule. He said 430,000 people ride the trolley each year.
John Lichman on being the young, white (fake) Armond White.
Like Crazy and How to Die in Oregon win the top prizes at Sundance.
Clips from a few big Sundance films:
Ever wonder what the Creative Loafing music team listens to on Mondays to get us through the day? Heres this weeks selections.
Wanda Jackson, The Party Ain't Over (2011)
Brand new release from the Queen of Rockabilly herself, the always feisty and raucous Wanda Jackson. With the help of White Stripe Jack White, Wanda's new disc is a mixed bag of covers and some new originals. Dipping into the catalogs of Bob Dylan, Amy Winehouse and Eddie Cochran, Wanda proves she's as vital and frisky as ever. Her trademark high-pitched growl hasn't lost an iota of spunk and the clever arrangements and crunchy guitars that Mr. White has doused this disc with make it sound as contemporary as it does classic. Often referred to as the "female Elvis," Jackson proves that her place in rock 'n' roll history is well deserved and that she can still rock! A fun and sassy disc that should appeal to audiences of all ages. Hopefully, White's role in revitalizing Wanda's career will be as commercially and critically successful as his outstanding work on Country music legend Loretta Lynn's 2004 comeback album, Van Lear Rose.
I should've listened when Leilani first mentioned this album a while back because it is absolutely phenomenal. These guys brought some high energy and rocked the hell out of their free show at The Hub; a perfect venue for their deliciously grimy funk rock. Named "Best Indie Band" at the 2010 Austin Music Awards, this is a foursome that you should definitely not miss if you're heading to SXSW. Favorites include the heavily My Morning Jacket influenced "Garden of the Gods" followed immediately by "Rhubarb Jam" with it's blazing guitar lead-in. I have to say though, the entire album is full of totally solid tracks. Highly recommended.
I dont think I listened to this album in its entirety since high school, but Im enjoying it. Panteras classic major label debut gets a slight, but necessary volume boost due to the loudness war of the digital age. Dimebag Darrells crisper and crunchier guitar cuts through an occasionally muddy, yet still mostly improved mix. The remaster didnt do the Domination outro any favors, but Cemetery Gates remains one of the greatest metal songs ever recorded. Bonus material on the three-disc version includes some sloppy live material and demos, with one previously unreleased (for a reason) studio track, The Will To Survive, that I wish I could un-hear.
The Revolve Theatre Company, which premiered in Tampa a few months ago with Caryl Churchills tantalizing Far Away, has now moved to St. Petersburg with an evening of Harold Pinter one-acts called Heres to You, Harold Pinter! The good news is, each of the three plays currently on stage at The Studio@620 Ashes to Ashes, Victoria Station, and A Kind of Alaska is provocative and rewarding, and the first and the third are hauntingly original.
Further, two of the featured performers, Jessica Alexander and Meg Heimstead, turn in work so convincing, youd think they grew up playing the Master of Pause-and-Effect. If Chris Jackson and James Rayfield arent quite as persuasive, both do impressive work as directors of one play or another (David OHara is the third fine director), and the event remains stimulating in spite of its defects. Anyway, how much living-room realism can you take in one lifetime? Smash the fourth wall and enjoy these fascinating one-acts. And lets have more Pinter and Strindberg, Genet, Beckett, Kane....