Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tweet Very Carefully.

Twitter trouble is not just for naughty congressmen.

British tourists Leigh Van Bryan, 26, and Emily Bunting, 24, were detained by the United States Customs Service, placed in a cell and grilled for twelve hours upon arrival in America on January 23rd. Homeland Security officials placed Bryan's name on a "One Day Lookout" because he Tweeted he was "coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe" and "destroy America."

His traveling partner Emily said, "I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh's lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe. It got even more ridiculous because the officials searched our suitcases and said they were looking for spades and shovels."

Bryan said officials told him, "You really f***** up with that tweet, boy," before handcuffing and putting him in what he described as a "cage" inside of a van. He said he was then transported to a prison with other suspected border offenders.

He continued, "It's just so ridiculous it's almost funny but at the time it was really scary. The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist."

Well, that is somewhat understandable. His words could be construed as a threat.

The tweets were sent a week before their trip, indicating the U.S. government had flagged the pair well in advance—raising all sorts of thorny social media issues. Bunting claims "destroy America" meant they planned to "get trashed and party." Poor choice of words, Emily.

I don't believe these two intended to dig Marilyn up, and they don't look capable of destroying America as a team. Perhaps they can serve as a cautionary tale for those who throw words around cyberspace a bit recklessly.

Dry humor sometimes gets lost in translation.

Love from Delta.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Hat Is Off To You, Kate.

The Duchess of Cambridge was just named “Hat Person of the Year” by The Headwear Association. Kate conquered Rachel Zoe, Ne-Yo, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars and Charlie Sheen—taking an overwhelming 91 percent of the vote.

The Headwear Association is an organization founded in 1908 that “promotes hat wearing and the headwear industry throughout the world.”

I am not a hat person, though I know some stylish ladies who are. (Marianne Barnebey, are you listening? That means you.)

Tonight I spotted this vintage loveliness for sale and suggested it to a friend who wears chapeaux beautifully (Murray, are you listening? That means you.)

Mariah Nicolle's New Hat

I wish I could rock a hat, but every time I put one on my daughter tells me I look silly. Here are some royal and non-royal people in their millinery. Silly? You be the judge.

You have to hand it to the Europeans. They know their headwear. Philip Treacy, milliner extraordinaire, designed these:

It is entirely possible I might feel silly in one of Mr. Treacy's designs. I cannot afford one, anyway.

Congratulations to Kate, beautiful princess and fashion inspiration. For now, I will stick to unadorned hair.

Love from Delta.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Want One.

If you have fifteen minutes (and most of my fellow Alabamians do, since the weather is dreadful), watch this video about 3-D printing. It is a concept new to most of us, and could revolutionize our lives. Really. Watch.

See what I mean? Cool beans.

Love from Delta.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Happy.

Remember Bobby McFerrin? Sure you do . . . by now, his signature song should be stuck in your head. If not, listen here.

I discovered a wonderful video of Bobby, the consummate musician, interacting with an audience at the World Science Festival in 2009. He sought to point out the power of human expectations with the Pentatonic Scale. Watch him in action . . . it is pretty darn cool.

(When prominent neuroscientists are impressed, you should be, too.)


Love from Delta.

Friday, January 20, 2012

At Last

B.B. King wrote “Sweet Sixteen” with her in mind.

Etta James blazed a number of trails.The influence she had on American popular music dates to a hotel room near the Primalon Ballroom in San Francisco in 1954. The singer Johnny Otis was tired, but he agreed to audition a shy 16-year-old named Jamesetta Rogers for his show.

She was so nervous that she couldn't face Otis and sing. She retreated to the more acoustically forgiving bathroom and sang from afar. The bathroom. Otis wanted to sign her on the spot—but needed parental consent because of her age.

There was just one problem. She'd never met her father and her mother was in jail.

With sixteen-year-old audacity, she faked the call for permission . . . and the rest, as they say, is history.

As Etta James grew, her voice and delivery also matured, allowing her a range that nailed ballads with a two-ton hammer.

“At Last” is the song she will forever be associated with. Written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, the original version was recorded in 1941. It was a life-affirming fairy tale of true love, recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The emotion that James packed into the song was deeply felt. Her phrasing of the first line expressed a Sunday sermon's worth of words: “At last,” she sings, sounding both relieved and overjoyed as a candle-lit string section supports her voice, “my love has come along.” It's one of the great singing moments in American music.

She had few crossover hits and faded from the charts by the end of the 1960s, though her 2003 comeback album, “Let's Roll,” was well received and won a Grammy Award. By then, though, the years of substance abuse and struggles with weight had taken their toll.

Our country lost an icon of the recording industry today. At last . . . here is Etta:

Love from Delta.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tio Tomás?

Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries

Yesterday I wrote about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a voice of reason and eloquent force behind the Civil Rights Movement. And now, for something completely different . . .

Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, proclaims, “We refuse to stand by and do nothing as this immoral law undermines communities, punishes children, perpetuates hate and bigotry and, above all, goes against everything people of faith stand for."

He is talking about Alabama's House Bill 56, better known as the Alabama Immigration Law. And he is way, way off base.

I discovered Mr. Douglas on last night's Colbert Report. Stephen was delivering his usual good-natured grilling, and Douglas was cheerfully extolling the reasons Alabama's law is unjust. According to him, illegal Mexican immigrants are the modern day equivalent of Negro slaves. He says he is trying to incite the black community to rise up and help repeal the law requiring legal status to live and work in Alabama. His hyperbole included the claim that our police officers are overly engaged in immigration work and missing opportunities to prevent and solve crimes.

That is, to put it Southern-politely, hogwash.

Douglas asserts that we should not have fifty separate state immigration laws. We need a federal one. Do we not have that already?

(We do. It is simply not enforced as written.)

One of my biggest problems with this issue is just that—a refugee from Somalia or British citizen with an expired green card will certainly face deportation regardless of consequence . . . but as long as said illegal immigrant is picking crops for small money we say, "Welcome, Pedro. Have a giant dip of queso from the rich melting pot."

Apples and lettuce stay cheap, and big agricultural concerns prosper. In this aspect, Douglas is not wrong to compare migrant workers to the slaves of the nineteenth century. Except these folks are coming here voluntarily. Their children attend our finest schools free of charge. Their medical care is supplied at taxpayer expense. Some live in upscale public housing for little or no cost. Last but not least, a portion of their population seems intent on reclaiming certain parts of our country for Mexico.

(We did not see that sentiment much among African immigrants in 1848.)

Consider this: What if millions of Swiss watchmakers came to the United States illegally and settled without undergoing the citizenship process, draining resources in most of our states? What if they demonstrated, insisting we introduce their native German and French into public signage? Would we keep them here for some cool, cheap timepieces?

Of course not. Granted, it is an extreme analogy—but I am tired of people pretending we are hosting millions of illegal immigrants selectively because we are so touched by their plight. I am more touched with concern over the political refugee the INS will force onto a plane tomorrow, to return to Lord knows what kind of persecution.

There is an interesting alternative under discussion in my state.

With planting season fast approaching, farmers proposed in December that work-release inmates be put in the fields to pick crops. They are pushing the idea to state agricultural officials, arguing that workers are needed to help bring in the harvest.

That is an idea I could get behind, and am following with great interest.

I believe Alabama is on the right track with HB 56, and that Scott Douglas likes the national spotlight. A lot. However, he is no Martin Luther King, and his rhetoric is falling on deaf ears in my house.

Here is last night's interview:

Love from Delta.

Monday, January 16, 2012

He Had A Dream.

I have eaten lunch in a restaurant on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama, a stone's throw from his church. I have heard a thousand differing opinions of him in my life, but am certain of these things: Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior left a positive and enduring legacy of peaceful social reform. He inspired both black and white to do right. He was one of the finest motivational speakers this country has known.

I am proud of the progress he engendered as well as the fact that its infancy traces to my home state. I have observed race relations in many other parts of the U. S. and found more harmony here than most places. My black friends say they feel the same way.
(If you prefer African American, please substitute that term.)

Here is an interesting video contrasting MLK's eloquence with Malcolm X's fiery style. There is some foolishness near the end, but it is worth watching.

His words still resonate.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.

A right delayed is a right denied.

A riot is the language of the unheard.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. 

Love from Delta. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why People Throw Up On Bourbon Street

     I used to have a friend who had an extreme phobia of vomiting. The clinical term for this is "emetophobia." Hers was so pronounced that she avoided New Orleans, because—well—people throw up there a lot. Especially on Bourbon Street and its environs.

     Today there is a whole new reason to hurl on Bourbon, and it has nothing to do with free-flowing devil water. Harvey (I Am A Bama Fan So I Poisoned Auburn's Trees) Updyke was spotted there. He's in town for the big game tonight.

     Ugh. There are a million things-could-get-ugly-in-NOLA-tonight jokes, and Harvey is the perfect punchline.

     He says he is tired of his 15 minutes of fame, but enjoyed being a popular destination for fans Sunday night. Many of them reportedly stopped him begging for autographs and photos while he was strolling up and down Bourbon Street.

     Ugh again. (Really, Tide fans? Really?)

     Updyke claimed he has been approached by several people to write a book about him.

     Are you starting to feel nauseated yet?

     Whether or not the Crimson Tide prevails this evening, I am deeply proud of our team. They represent Alabama well. Harvey? Well, I wish he had stayed at home—better yet, that he would return to his native Texas and inflict himself on a team there.

     Laissez les bon temps Rouller Tide!

Love from Delta.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Sinking Ship?

And the band played on . . . even after the little iceberg problem . . .

It seems a number of Hollywood celebrities are not so supportive of Barack Obama these days.

Matt Damon proclaimed, “I’ve talked to a lot of people who worked for Obama at the grassroots level. One of them said to me, "Never again. I will never be fooled again by a politician. You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better.”

Former Bahamas Ambassador Nicole Avant is returning home to help fix the president's troubled relationship with the entertainment industry. At least three meet-and-greet fundraisers are planned for his re-election campaign.

Nicole is the daughter of longtime music executive and Democratic activist Clarence Avant. She was one of Obama's earliest and most dedicated Hollywood supportersraked in millions for the president's 2008 campaign. 

You know there's trouble in Tinseltown when President Barack Obama's top Hollywood fundraising fairy has resigned the ambassadorship to the Bahamas and returned to Los Angeles. She is striving to restore the incumbent president's image with vocal celebs.

On the other hand, George Clooney has professed his continued support for the President.

"I'm disillusioned by the people who are disillusioned by Obama, quite honestly, I am," the Ides of March director stated. "Democrats eat their own. Democrats find singular issues and go, 'Well, I didn't get everything I wanted.' I'm a firm believer in sticking by and sticking up for the people whom you've elected. If he was a Republican running, because Republicans are better at this, they'd be selling him as the guy who stopped 400,000 jobs a month from leaving the country. They'd be selling him as the guy who saved the auto industry. If they had the beliefs, they'd be selling him as the guy who got rid of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' who got Osama bin Laden. You could be selling this as a very successful three years."

George may very well be spending too much time sunning near Lake Como.

I am feeling fairly apolitical these days, but paying attention to the we-are-famous-and-we-know-so-much race for the lifeboats. It is more entertaining than any movie I've recently viewed.

Love from Delta.