Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Iron Chef, Loyola Style

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 11:36 PM

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New Orleans chef John Besh has made some high-stakes appearances as a contestant on competitive TV cooking shows, where victory means even more publicity. But on Thursday, he'll be wearing the judge's hat for a different sort of competition involving amateur cooks battling it out for nothing more than bragging rights around campus.

Besh and Loyola University executive chef Marc Main will judge the 2009 Iron Chef competition presented by the Loyola Asian Student Organization, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Danna Student Center’s St. Charles Room, on Loyola’s main campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Competitors this year include teams from the Loyola Asian Student Organization, the Loyola Black Student Union, the Loyola Muslim Student Association and other Asian organizations from Tulane, Xavier and Louisiana State universities. In addition, representatives from the Vietnamese-American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans will also compete for this local Iron Chef title.

The evening includes a silent auction and food available for sale from local Asian restaurants including Hipstix, La Thai, Dong Phuong, China Ruby, Five Happiness and Mikimoto. Proceeds benefit VietHope, a nonprofit supporting education programs for Vietnamese children.

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eGreens

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 9:49 PM

 

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  • I vehemently oppose listicles, though I suppose this would've been a good kickoff for these briefs: From dating to snowboarding and everything in-between, Planet Green serves as a good starting point to learn how to green anything and everything. While we're doing the listicle thing, check this list for the basic no-nos one should avoid in the home.
  • Also at home, New York Times Green Inc. editor Tom Zeller Jr. is chronicling his efforts on the homefront to be more efficient and eco-friendly. His Home Green Home series finds him on the hunt for energy leaks and hiring green auditors to assess his home's carbon footprint.
  • Busy week at the Green House: Obama is supposedly making unprecedented changes at home, surpassing the eco-efforts of the Clinton and Bush administrations. Aside from the vegetable garden on the South Lawn, the Obamas will be starting small with a recycling program and environmentally-friendly household cleaners.
  • Obama signed the Wilderness Bill on Monday, March 30, which guarantees protection for more than 2 million acres. Big chunks in California and Idaho. No dice for Louisiana.
  • But not to worry. The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Miss Teen Louisiana - World Pageant (of Tiffany's Tiara Productions, naturally) have teamed together to set the new platform for the pageant winner. The new Miss Teen Louisiana - World will assume the foundation as her championing cause, all the way to the Miss Teen United States - World competition in July.
  • Reminder: Tomorrow, apart from apparent technopocalyptic armageddon, is April FUELs Day. The Alliance for Affordable Energy and the Gulf Restoration Network will lead a fossil fuel protest march to the steps of the Entergy headquarters. Coal supporters, outta the way.

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Interview: Jack Woodville London

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 9:38 PM

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Anyone who has lived in a small town, particularly one in Texas, will recognize the trappings of existing in such a fishbowl in the lives and characters of Jack Woodville London’s Tierra, Texas, in the first book of his French Letters trilogy, Virginia’s War.

Just like those of everyone else in America, the lives of the Tierra residents in 1944 were wrapped up in World War II. While sons and husbands fought on battlefronts overseas, Americans at home were involved in their own war efforts: rationing, victory gardens, writing to soldiers and waiting for letters, raising war babies and, in some cases, avoiding military service and operating a black market for ration stamps and scarce goods. All these things, and a little mystery as well, were playing out in the microcosm of Tierra.

London introduces us to Sandy Clayton, a typical teenager who views the war through the romantic eyes of a boy trying to become a man, and Virginia Sullivan, a beautiful girl who has kept one of the town’s favorite sons, Will Hastings, on a line for seven years without a commitment to wait for him while he serves in the war. After Will leaves for Europe, Virginia discovers she is pregnant with his child, and her father Poppy — the nonmafia equivalent of the town’s godfather — publishes a story in his newspaper announcing she eloped with Will before he shipped out for war. Will knows nothing about the “marriage,” and Virginia’s vindictive, draft-dodging brother Bart, the town’s postmaster, holds Will’s letters from her, leaving her in the dark about his fate and how to contact him.

There are also side stories: a childish feud between Virginia and her former best friend, Shirley Fleming, over Will’s affections; a lucrative black market controlled by Poppy and a crooked sheriff; a spoiled son’s misguided notion that he is above the law; and a mystery over a fire that destroyed the town’s major economic engine, the cotton gin.

It’s a charming book and gets my highest compliment: a plea for London to speed up the publishing process so I can find out what happens to Virigina, Shirley, Sandy, Poppy, Bart and the guy you love to hate, Sheriff Hastings. London will discuss and sign his book from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, April 1) at Maple Street Book Shop (7523 Maple St.). Read an interview with the author here.

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Book Review: Jack Woodville London, Virginia's War

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 9:37 PM

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Anyone who has lived in a small town, particularly one in Texas, will recognize the trappings of existing in such a fishbowl in the lives and characters of Jack Woodville London’s Tierra, Texas, in the first book of his French Letters trilogy, Virginia’s War.

Just like those of everyone else in America, the lives of the Tierra residents in 1944 were wrapped up in World War II. While sons and husbands fought on battlefronts overseas, Americans at home were involved in their own war efforts: rationing, victory gardens, writing to soldiers and waiting for letters, raising war babies and, in some cases, avoiding military service and operating a black market for ration stamps and scarce goods. All these things, and a little mystery as well, were playing out in the microcosm of Tierra.

London introduces us to Sandy Clayton, a typical teenager who views the war through the romantic eyes of a boy trying to become a man, and Virginia Sullivan, a beautiful girl who has kept one of the town’s favorite sons, Will Hastings, on a line for seven years without a commitment to wait for him while he serves in the war. After Will leaves for Europe, Virginia discovers she is pregnant with his child, and her father Poppy — the nonmafia equivalent of the town’s godfather — publishes a story in his newspaper announcing she eloped with Will before he shipped out for war. Will knows nothing about the “marriage,” and Virginia’s vindictive, draft-dodging brother Bart, the town’s postmaster, holds Will’s letters from her, leaving her in the dark about his fate and how to contact him.

There are also side stories: a childish feud between Virginia and her former best friend, Shirley Fleming, over Will’s affections; a lucrative black market controlled by Poppy and a crooked sheriff; a spoiled son’s misguided notion that he is above the law; and a mystery over a fire that destroyed the town’s major economic engine, the cotton gin.

It’s a charming book and gets my highest compliment: a plea for London to speed up the publishing process so I can find out what happens to Virigina, Shirley, Sandy, Poppy, Bart and the guy you love to hate, Sheriff Hastings. London will discuss and sign his book from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, April 1) at Maple Street Book Shop (7523 Maple St.). Read an interview with the author here.

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Peyton, Eli, and Archie: authors

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 9:28 PM

So says Publishers Weekly:

NFL superstar quarterbacks, brothers, and Super Bowl MVPs Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, along with their father, legendary quarterback Archie Manning, have signed with Scholastic to publish a picture book in September 2009. Additionally, the Mannings will serve as the first-ever Scholastic Book Clubs’ ClassroomsCare Ambassadors of Reading this year.

The book, Family Huddle, is about the Manning brothers and their family. An illustrator for the project will be announced at a later date. “My brother, my dad, and I are very excited to be working with Scholastic, and to be able to put so many books into the hands of young readers across America who might not otherwise have that opportunity,” said Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

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Another sign of the times

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 9:15 PM

red beans

A sweet tidbit of graffiti on the ice machine outside Jimmy's Grocery at Dauphine and France Streets in the Bywater.

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LaBruzzo Knows Best

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 7:36 PM

While state representative John Labruzzo (R-Metairie) has apparently given up on the idea of paying poor women to be sterilized, he does have a couple of new legislative proposals for reforming the welfare system.

     Even though it already costs the state upwards of $4 million to test a small portion of welfare applicants, Labruzzo feels that all adult welfare recipients should be drug tested because “the best interests of a significant portion of the state’s population are served by ensuring that they are free of the physical and mental impairments associated with drug dependence.”      

     Labruzzo is also submitting legislation that would make anyone convicted of a felony, drug-related offense – which includes possession, use and distribution – ineligible to receive welfare benefits for 10 years. If the person undergoes drug treatment, they are only ineligible for two years. In the state of Louisiana, second offense marijuana possession is considered a felony offense.

     No word yet if Labruzzo is considering installing crime cameras in the homes of all welfare recipients.

     

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Jonathan Vilma's Offseason is like a Bad Episode of CSI

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:07 PM

Vilma staring down the QB

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Photograph by Jonathan Bachman

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When Jonathan Vilma was arrested in Miami, Florida thankfully, all it lead to was the prosecution dropping all charges. That was also an arrest that came after a traffic stop, nothing serious. Vilma and Saints fans can rest easy, right?

Continue reading »

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The 2009 Big Easy Theater Awards

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 5:02 PM

Big Easy Theater

Last night, the Big Easy Entertainment Awards committee for theatre announced awards for best theatre productions in the Greater New Orleans area in 2008 at Monday’s gala at Harrah’s Theatre. The complete list of winners will appear in the April 7 edition of The Gambit and will be online at www.bestofneworleans.com. Gambit, Harrah’s New Orleans Casino and Hotel, John Jay, and Coleman E. Adler & Sons return as sponsors of the Theatre Awards Gala.

This year’s host was New Orleans favorite Gary Rucker. Francine Segal, The Honorary Theatre Chairperson, opened the evening in the persona of The Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz.

This was the first year for Best Evening of Cabaret. The winner was He Loves and She Loves: The Gershwin Music We Love starring Amy Alvarez & Jefferson Turner, directed by Ricky Graham at Cabaret Le Chat Noir.

The New Orleans Fringe Festival received a Special Recognition Award for its inaugural year in 2008. Festival organizers Kristen Evans, Dennis Monn and Ben Moren were recognized for their efforts in presenting the multi-day, multi-venue theatre event to present new and emerging theater. More than 40 theatre groups from around the country presented over 120 shows at 14 local venues throughout the city to over 440 attendees from around the state and region.

The Entertainer of the Year award went to our city’s own “Mad Man” Bryan Batt. And the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award went to community icon Al Shea.

There were performances from the nominated musicals: Rent, Assassins, Where The Girls Were, a medley by the four ladies nominated for Best Actress in a Musical, a comedy bit from Speech & Debate, and a couple of showstoppers, Dorian Rush doing a number from Die! Mommie Die! and an unforgettable musical number by the irrepressible Varla Jean Merman.

Proceeds from the Theatre Awards Gala benefit the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education, a 501 c-3 non-profit organization that gives grants and gifts to projects that nurture performing artists and future talent in our area.

Hit the jump for the complete list of winners...

Continue reading »

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Congrats to Lee Zurik

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Zurik brows

All of us at Gambit want to extend our congratulations to our friend Lee Zurik over at WWL-TV, who has received top honors from the Society of Investigative Reporters and Editors for his series that broke open the NOAH housing scandal last summer. Zurik received the group's top prize, the IRE Medal, and was chosen from more than 380 entries. The judges' comments:

Judges' comments: In a rolling investigation of 50 television segments, WWL-TV of New Orleans uncovered corruption in a city agency charged with helping rebuild homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Following a source's tip, reporter Lee Zurik and his team examined New Orleans Affordable Housing records and found that money was paid to contractors to repair homes that never received any improvements—or didn’t exist at all. WWL's investigation found close ties between agency managers, Mayor Ray Nagin, and the contractors doing the alleged improvements. The journalist stuck to the story in the face of public intimidation and strong initial denials by Nagin. In court, WWL forced the city to disclose agency records. The results were impressive: The program was suspended, the employees were fired and a federal grand jury launched an investigation.

It should be noted, of course, that the "source's tip" came from Karen Gadbois and her partner Sarah Elise Lewis and their Web site Squandered Heritage. Maybe in future years the IRE will also bestow laurels on investigative bloggers ... but in the meantime, congrats, Lee, and well-deserved.

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