Saturday, August 26, 2006

What A Difference 15 Years Makes...

I accidentally unearthed this photo while transferring content from one storage box to another this week. This was me on stage at a music event in Dallas in October 1991. The rock and blues band was called The Killer Tomatahs.

I was such a different person then. I was 22, single, free to travel with the band while I lived at home. I was never a cigarette smoker but I played in smoke-filled rooms every week (and nowadays, I can't be anywhere near cigarette smoke or I start coughing profusely). I drank occasionally and smoked pot regularly. We did eventually get enough sense to decide as a group that we needed to perform sober. That was quite an accomplishment for us!

I will admit, this was a time in my life that was creatively and professionally productive for me. I had a lot to prove to myself as a musician. I was the youngest member of a 4- to 6-member band. The majority of my bandmates were near or over 40. But I held my own and made the transition from a rhythm bass player to a lead bass player. I also had my first experience learning to sing backup vocals while playing bass, which I'd never done before.

Skip ahead 15 years. I'm still playing music but with a Christian band with people of different ages and races. I am a Christian now. I don't drink, don't smoke, I'm married, have two kids and a steady job. It's a world of difference, I am happier and I have purpose in my life.

Today's my birthday. I don't mind saying I'm 37 years old. Today is also my wife's birthday. She's five years younger than me. The first time we met, we learned we had the same birthday. It's worth noting that our kids' birthdays are two days apart (they're 10 and 7 years old). We have an interesting little family.

I know that all of our experiences define who we are and shape us for the future. We have highs and we have lows, we have triumphs and we have tragedies. We make mistakes and (hopefully) we learn from them. It's all about growing into who we are and who we're meant to be.

I thank God that I am who I am. I wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's.

Best Wishes,

Friday, August 25, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week we will look into the lives of the actors who play an interracial married couple on tv and in a movie: Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk, also known as Zoe and Wash from the short-lived series Firefly and the movie based on the series, Serenity.

First, Gina Torres...

Torres was born at Flower Fifth Avnue Hopital in Manhattan, NY, the youngest of three children in a Afro-Cuban-American family. Her family lived briefly in Washington Heights, but later moved to The Bronx. Her parents were both natives of Cuba and her father worked as a typesetter for "La Prensa" and "The Daily News". Gina began singing at an early age, immersed in the Latin culture of her parents and her neighborhood. She attended high school at the High School of Music and Art. She applied to and was accepted to several colleges, but could not afford to attend([1]).

Torres is a gifted mezzo soprano who began her performing career as a singer, attending New York City's High School of Music and Art. Torres also trained in opera and jazz, and she performed in a gospel choir.

Torres is best known for her roles in science-fiction and fantasy. She has appeared in many television series, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (as Nebula), Xena: Warrior Princess (as Cleopatra), the short-lived Cleopatra 2525, as well as Alias (as Anna Espinosa), Firefly (as series regular Zoë Washburne), Angel (as Jasmine), and The Shield. She portrayed Julia Milliken in several episodes of the third season of 24.

In 2001 she won the ALMA Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Syndicated Drama Series for her role in Cleopatra 2525. In 2004, she was nominated for the International Press Academy's Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Drama, for her role as Jasmine in Angel.

Her film appearances include The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.

She reprised her Firefly role as Zoë in the film Serenity (2005).

Also in 2005, she voiced the character of Vixen in numerous episodes of the animated series Justice League Unlimited.

She met Laurence Fishburne while filming The Matrix Revolutions. Torres and Fishburne were engaged in February 2001 and married in September 2002 at The Cloisters museum in New York City.

Source: Wikipedia: Gina Torres

Next, Alan Tudyk:

Alan Tudyk grew up in Plano, Texas. After high school, Alan attended Lon Morris Junior College from 1990-1991, where he studied drama. While there, he was an active member of Delta Psi Omega. In 1991, he was awarded the Academic Excellence award for Drama, as well as Most Likely to Succeed and Sophomore Beaus. In 1993, he continued his studies at Juilliard until 1996, when he left before earning a degree.

Alan's most prized possession was a 1964 Mustang, which he named "Old Sock."

Threw a "We Don't Work for FOX Anymore" party for the cast and crew of the short lived TV series "Firefly" upon hearing of its being cancelled.

Portrayed the robot "Sonny" in the 2004 movie I, Robot.

Source: Alan Tudyk

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Not In The News Friday (Late Edition: the Sequel)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

Sorry things are a day late but I had something to deal with at the apartment yesterday involving accidental flooding. All is dealt with now and okay again.

This week, we feature Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols.

In her role as Lt. Uhura, she participated in the first interracial kiss on U.S. television, with Canadian actor William Shatner (as Captain James T. Kirk) in the 1968 Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren." The scene provoked protest and was seen as groundbreaking, even though the kiss was portrayed as having been forced by alien mind control. The episode was not telecast in some Southern cities as a result of the protests in those states; nevertheless, it caused many viewers to contact the broadcaster and the majority of the feedback of the incident was positive. It was over twenty-five years before it was broadcast on British television.

After the cancellation of Star Trek, Nichols volunteered her time in a special project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel for the space agency, which proved to be a spectacular success. They include Dr. Sally K. Ride, the first American female astronaut and United States Air Force Col. Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, as well as Dr. Judith Resnik and Dr. Ronald McNair, who both flew successful missions during the space shuttle program before their deaths in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986.

An enthusiastic advocate of space exploration, Nichols has served since the mid-1980s on the Board of Governors of the National Space Society, a nonprofit, educational space advocacy organization founded by Dr. Wernher von Braun.

Always interested in space travel, Nichelle flew aboard NASA's C-141 Astronomy Observatory, which analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn on an eight hour, high-altitude mission. She was also a special guest at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California on July 17, 1976 to view the Viking 1 soft landing on Mars. Along with the other cast members from the original Star Trek series, Nichelle attended the christening of the first space shuttle, Enterprise, at the North American Rockwell assembly facility in Palmdale, California.

In 1994, she published her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories. In it she states that she had a lengthy love affair with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Source: Wikipedia: Nichelle Nichols

Friday, August 11, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

She's one-half of a fictional interracial couple who got married in the movie "Napolean Dynamite." This week's topic: Shondrella Avery (LaFawnduh)

Avery is married, to a Nigerian-born banker named Adenrele, whom she met at a restaurant in Beverly Hills. "I saw him from across the room and I said to my friends, 'That right there is the man I'm going to marry,'" she said with a laugh. "They thought I was crazy. But I walked up to him, introduced myself, asked him out on a date, and before long we were making plans to tie the knot."

Today, the couple live in Los Angeles and enjoy many mutual interests, including skydiving, going to the movies, tending to a koi pond and home decorating. It was Adenrele who introduced Shondrella to art and objects from other countries (especially his native Nigeria, and Mexico). Shondrella, by contrast, grew up in a rough and tumble section of south central Los Angeles.

But that's not to suggest she had a shielded or deficient upbringing. Avery has nine siblings (the youngest is 9) and her mom has been a foster parent to nearly 200 other children, many of them crack babies and the products of abused or neglected families. Shondrella witnessed much of the human condition, if not the world, on her way to adulthood. She is rich in ways money can't buy.

Source: Shondrella Avery Collects Objects From Africa and Mexico

She has created a one-woman show titled "Ain't I Enough," based on her experiences growing up with her enormous family, which has aired on HBO.

Source: Wikipedia: Shondrella Avery

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Why You Should Meebo Me

I recently became a fan of the Meebo instant messaging service. It's very much like Trillian, that allows you to simultaneously connect to multiple IM services, such as AIM, Yahoo, MSN Messenger and ICQ...but it's all through a webpage interface instead of separate software.

Meebo recently introduced a new widget, called Meebo Me. Meebo Me is an IM interface that can be inserted into blogs or webpages. If the webmaster or blogmaster is logged into Meebo, he/she can see how many people are on their page and have live chat capability with their site's guests. I thought that was pretty nifty-sounding, so I added it to IR Haven.

If you need some more info on using Meebo Me, here is a good article.

So, you'll see if I'm online and you can send me a chat! I'd love to hear from you. Let me know what you think of this new feature!

Best Wishes,

Monday, August 07, 2006 My Opinion

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you really want something to measure up to your expectations -- and it doesn't? is a great idea, it's long overdue -- a web portal dedicated to mixed race couples, individuals and ideas. Unfortunately, after some initial consideration, I decided I didn't have a good experience there.

It reminds me of what I blogged about concerning Asian Avenue in June. As I said for AA, this will probably be very nice for some people and I personally have no animosity against the makers of I'm sure they've put a lot of hard work and effort and thought into the site.

But it's essentially very much still in beta and lacking any moderation whatsoever. As a result, there are a lot of offensive usernames, profiles and content. Not racist stuff, per se, but it could turn off a lot of potential users of the site.

Oh, and the use of the N word (pretty much entirely by African Americans) abounds, completely unfettered by moderation. Some people would probably be delighted by the "freedom of speech." Again, maybe in the proper context of defined sections ("Urban Expressions," for instance), it might work. People would be properly warned and have some idea what they're facing. As it is, you get what you get and that's that.

Another element that could deter users: popups. Who uses popup advertising anymore? There are much better alternatives out there that are site friendly.

I like the built-in weblog feature but it also kind of demands the user know a bit about HTML and site design, which the average internet user doesn't -- and shouldn't be required to know. This was a downside to AA, too.

The articles and bulletin board features were probably the most interesting aspect to the site. It also has a "Hot Or Not" for community members who were vain (or foolish) enough to submit their actual photo. There's lots of dating stuff woven in, too.

Another sign of beta-dom: don't open a web portal if you haven't enabled or finished all the sections, including the HELP section. People usually don't wait around for sites that are "still under construction."

I wanted to like this site, I really did. And in all fairness, in a year's time, it may be significantly improved (most sites do get better over time). Time will tell.

Best Wishes,

Friday, August 04, 2006

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This interracial marriage doesn't come up in the news too often but they do make a cute couple. This week's topic: David Bowie and Iman (pictured with biracial daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones).

Here's an interesting excerpt from this interview in June 2003:

Before Reality, Bowie had put out "Heathen" (2002), a record that reflected a spiritual crisis brought on by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Bowie, his wife-- the model Iman--and their daughter, Alexandria, who was born in 2000, live less than a mile from Ground Zero. He spoke movingly about the impact of that day and its aftermath.

"Of course, it had one foot astride that awful event in September. So that was quite a traumatic album to finish. This one hints at that, but it's not really trying to resolve any trauma. [September 11] did affect me and my family very much. We live down here."

Were you here on September 11?
"My wife and child were. I was up in Woodstock making the album. It was just unbearable that day--well, actually the next two or three days, coming back down and coming up against the cordon around that part of town. I had to get my wife to come to the barricades with a passport, so I could show the guy that I lived there. He said, 'I'm sorry, I know who you are, but I have to see...,' and all that. It was really weird. And that fine silt dust everywhere."

I never had seen New York so off its axis. What do you feel has been the aftermath?
"I think there's a new awareness in New York about our isolationist stance in the rest of the world. There is a realization that even though this is one of the most important cities in the world, others are watching us. I don't think we ever felt that before. There's a slight unease. We really felt freewheeling and that 'tomorrow belongs to us,' anything can happen. Now, there's not quite that swaying surge of hopefulness.

"I still love this town. I can't imagine living anywhere else. We've been here now, my wife and I, for 10 years. I realized the other day that I've lived in New York longer than I've lived anywhere else. It's amazing: I am a New Yorker. It's strange; I never thought I would be."

You always seemed rootless, a citizen of the world.
"I kind of thought I was. But, frankly, that changed when I met Iman. We got nesting!"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

No Other Gods...

I recently mentioned Loving Day (in NITNF) and how interracial marriage in the United states used to not only be frowned upon but actually was illegal until 1967. Over the years, perhaps even centuries, certain religious elements/people used to use the Bible to support their arguments to discourage or condemn interracial marriage. Often, those people will say God directed the Hebrews not to intermarry with "the heathen" tribes from outside the land of Egypt and that this means God didn't want the races mixing.

This, of course, is ridiculous....but people believe it, wholeheartedly.

Like any debate, though, the best way to resolve a dispute is to look at the original source and the facts. In this case, the original source is the Bible.

When God made the Ten Commandments, He warned Moses what would happen if the Hebrews did not do as He commanded: they would intermarry AND start worshipping the gods of those tribes and peoples. God didn't hate the ethnicity of those people -- He made those people! And as I blogged before, Moses was interracially married to an Ethiopian woman and God highly honored Moses' marriage.

I know some people still use the Bible to justify their prejudice and ignorance but the Bible itself does not condemn or discourage interracial marriage; in fact, it supports it! So, remember that if/when someone throws that package of baloney at you.

Here's the actual Biblical reference:

Exodus Chapter 34, 10 - 16 (King James Version)

And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

Best Wishes,