Friday, December 21, 2007

Carols With a Bounce Beat

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2007 at 1:29 AM

Yesterday, my after-school 'Music Writing' students rocked their big Xmas presentation in the large, reverberating performance auditorium of Behrman Elementary on the West Bank. Compared to Orleans Parish schools, Behrman is great; the kids almost all meet their grade level expectations. I was recently moved to Behrman after mold shut down my former school, Craig Elementary in the Treme. Though I loved the Craig kids, too many of them, regardless of age, read and wrote at a kindergarten or pre-K level. Which is definitely parents' fault. Kids should be semi-literate before entering kindergarten.

Anyway, with only one week to prepare, my Behrman ‘Music Writing’ students programmed the beats, wrote the lyrics and worked-out melodies for a wholly original Xmas song – which we hadn’t even time to title. Per usual, after I’d helped the kids pen the chorus, they were so excited to have something of their own to sing all together, that the remaining elements fell quickly into place. Sarajena, age 11, suggested a slowish Jamaican dancehall beat for said chorus:

Sometimes it snows for Xmas / down here in New Orleans/

But even though / it doesn’t always snow / we still know /

what Xmas means.

It’s about laughing and singing / and jingle-bells ringing

And presents unwrapped in our dreams /

It’s about giving and getting / and never forgetting

What Xmas means!

The aforementioned Sarajeni is sort of a genius, which she sort of knows – I’m very smart / and I’m into art, she rapped my first day at Behrman. Though she shares few words, barely meets my eye when we do speak, and rarely smiles (giving her a false aura of defiance that sometimes psyches me out) Sarajeni always participates in class. When I hopped over to her table to pump her up about performing for 50 or 60 parents (mostly moms), Sarajeni claimed no nervousness -- logical, since today she would blend-in with the background singers, having not written her own solo rap. “I am not a rapper,” Sarajeni had already told me, eyes down.

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City Hall Skirmishes/Protests

Posted on Fri, Dec 21, 2007 at 1:08 AM

by Sam Winston

Thanks Oyster for the link, after watching the video footage of NOPD pepper spraying rowdy protesters, tasering two women, and Arnie Fielkow asking for calm and then "security, enforce our rules," this first hand blog account is really what you need to see. It's what makes blogs great. It puts us right there, unfiltered, to see what was happening inside the building from a first person account.

The comments are also worth reading. On a personal note, watching people get tasered and pepper sprayed made me sick to me my stomach, no matter who was right and who was wrong. There have been consistent calls for finding the middle ground but obviously that didn't matter today. I also wonder since I wasn't there and you can't tell from any of the video, is it true what the media has been reporting all week that the protesters were only about 100 people?

On a sidenote, give the nolablogosphere credit on an issue that they could have easily just taken the anti-establishment nature of the protests' position (blogs being a bit anti-estab in nature), this whole past week they in large part spoke out about how the issue was not so cut and dry and how the agitators on both sides, including the media, were missing key points.

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Playing Chicken, Getting Alligator

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2007 at 12:38 AM

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Today's downpours had a silver lining for me. I was playing chicken with the rain bands and trying to bicycle myself over to the post office near my house to mail out what will be a very late Christmas package. I was nearly there, the grocery bag-wrapped package balanced on the handlebars, when the clouds began spittling again and it looked like worse was imminent.

Fortunately, I happened to be close enough to Parkway Tavern and Bakery to smell the roast beef aroma. The bike was parked and I was in line at the kitchen window before the real rain could do much damage. To my surprise, I here discovered that Parkway is now serving gumbo, and not just any gumbo.

Theirs is made with roasted turkey and alligator sausage. It has a very dark, rich, country-style roux, but it also includes copious amounts of okra and chopped tomato. An unorthodox combination, but it all proved to be an extraordinary gumbo and it just happened to make a perfect snack on a rainy day. Best of all, the rain cleared almost as soon as I found a seat to eat. So tempting fate on a rainy day turned out a little wet but a lot delicious.

- Ian McNulty

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Good News for Edamame-Lovers with Breathing Problems

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 5:27 PM

soy Foods
Those who suffer from asthma may want to try choking down oh-so-good-for-you-tofu and other soy products as much as possible from now on. New research suggests that soy products may help reduce asthma symptoms. According to a study conducted by Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, isoflavones found in soy foods may reduce levels of leukotriene in the immune system, the substance responsible for producing inflammation — airway inflammation is a primary cause of asthma.Participants in the study showed a marked decrease in the level of leukotriene at the cellular level— 1/3 less —after only four weeks of eating foods rich in isoflavones. Also known as phytoestrogens, isoflavones are pretty much found only in soyfoods, so if you want to reap the benefits you better get used to silky soy milk, tofu, or the much more appetizing choices ( I think, anyway), of edamame or soy burgers.Research is currently being conducted on the benefits of soy in other areas of prevention as well, such as coronary heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer. Likewise, soy also is known to lower cholesterol and is a rich source of protein.Many health food companies have jumped on the soy wagon, making it quite easy to find soy products in almost any grocery aisle, from produce and vegetarian products to meat substitutes, snacks (soy chips) and frozen desserts like soy ice cream bars. For more information about the nutritional benefits of soy, visit the SoyFoods Council Web site.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Playing with Fire

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 11:50 PM

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I don't care how many times I see it, the trick the waiters at Galatoire's do with flaming liquor, orange peels and coffee when making café Brulot always proves captivating.

This is no ordinary after-dinner drink – or, as is probably more often the case these days at Galatoire's, an after-lunch drink. It comes with specialized equipment, it comes flaming in portions large enough for at least several servings and it comes with a choreographed tableside preparation sure to temporarily supercede conversation not only at your table but usually at all those within earshot.

In French, brûlot can mean either “highly seasoned” or “incendiary,” both of which prove apt for this singular post-prandial. Most preparations call for an orange peel cut precisely as one long, intact spiral; a lemon peel cut into strips; sugar, cloves and cinnamon; cognac or brandy and hot, strong black coffee. Most importantly, the drink requires fire.

An adept waiter will set the concoction alight and usually play with it for a bit, tracing little flaming trails over the tablecloth that burn out quickly and conveniently cause no evident damage. It's a parlor trick, I know, but when the end result is boozy coffee every step along the way seems a little more interesting.

- Ian McNulty

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Our Goose is Cooked

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 7:34 PM

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There's bad news for John Madden and Turducken fans everywhere. The Brits have not only caught up with our bird-within-bird techniques, but they're way ahead of us. 

British chefs have pushed the envelop and managed to get 10 different fowl varieties inside a turkey. Besides chicken and duck, they've found room for squab, pheasant, quail, partridge and others. 

It's starting to look like clowns going into a Volkswagen. One chef managed to get 48 birds from 12 different species into a single turkey. Massive bird roasts are reaching 55 lbs., feed 125 people and cost more than 650 British pounds.

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The Price of Freedom

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 6:41 PM

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They say that freedom isn't free. They also say that it's priceless. But Sotheby's came up with a workable figure this week. $21.3 million.A copy of the Magna Carta sold at auction for that price (complete with seal of King Edward I who stamped it in 1297 - though King John originally agreed to the basic declaration of human rights in 1215). Apparently the auction house expected to fetch $30 million, but either freedom isn't in demand these days, or collectors decided to wait on one of the 16 other copies. Perhaps the oddest note is that this copy belonged not to a museum or even a Brit, but to Texas billionaire Ross Perot. He had parked it at the National Archives in Washington, where it was on display next to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.There's no telling what those signed originals would go for on eBay or if the Bush Administration might want to find out while they still have value.The Magna Carta copy was purchased by the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm that counted former President George H.W. Bush as a shareholder and advisor until at least 2003 and 2004 respectively. There's no word on how much they expect the item to appreciate in value, or where it will be kept.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CHIPing Away at the Future

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2007 at 8:44 PM

This past Wednesday, December 12, President Bush vetoed Congresses’ latest version of the SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program). Bush vetoed a previous version of SCHIP in October and in a letter , explained that the bill would move children with private health insurance to government coverage. The “move” is commonly referred to as “crowd out.” The vetoed bill, H.R. 976, did contain a crowd-out provision that said any state that covered children with a family income exceeding 300 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) would have to address the issue and implement a strategy to avoid “crowd out.” Additionally, Bush implied that H.R. 976 allowed for more adults in the SCHIP program and “raises taxes on working Americans.”

H.R. 976 called for $61.4 billion over five years, an increase of $36.2 billion over the current SCHIP law, and would have provided 4 million more people with health insurance over the 6 million the program currently insures. The increase in coverage would have been paid for by an increased tax on tobacco.

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Murder Capital U.S.A. 2nd Year In A Row

Posted on Tue, Dec 18, 2007 at 12:20 PM

 by Sam Winston

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There have been 211 homicides in New Orleans according to John Gagliano of the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office on Monday. Do the numbers and it's clear that New Orleans is the murder capital of the U.S.A for the second year in a row at.

Despite having the National Guard, and intensive federal law enforcement assistance to the NOPD from the FBI, ATF, and DEA for most of the year, there is no difference in the murder rate from 2006 when New Orleans outpaced the nation's next closest violent city by 31 percent or more.

This won't be announced officially until sometime next year when all the FBI data is in and the year is so far gone that the announcement has much less of an impact. Until then, "plausible denials" are possible but not convincing.

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Ratty's Reading

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2007 at 2:55 AM

Ratty Scurvics is the most talented and original artist/musician in New Orleans. For true. In his one-man-band, Singularity, Ratty pounds two keyboards perched atop a bass drum positioned beside a snare on the floor – both drums equipped with foot pedals, allowing Ratty to simultaneously play drum-kit and keyboards while singing. Regardless of this spectacle of dexterity, however, Ratty’s songs hold the main focus. Comparisons to more famous one-man-band Quintron are inevitable, but while Q’s musical point is mostly ‘Party! Party! Party!’ Ratty’s music stirs up dance frenzies while remaining pathos-driven and deeply personal. Don’t worry though, New Orleans, you’d hardly notice unless you paid close attention, which you won’t, cause you just wanna drink and dance and party, party, party. Doesn’t that get old for you? Nevermind, I won’t criticize…

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