March 2004 Archives

Paper Chain

This week I received a chain letter. Not an email, but and actual postal mail letter. I do not know the person who sent it to me, and the phone book turned up no in service phone numbers for any of the people involved. There was a certain degree of WTF combined with a sort of cheesiness that I would like to share before I toss it out. I've tried to copy his formating as much as I could. <editoral comments in brackets>

Dear Friend and Fellow Christian: <I'm sorry, I don't believe we've ever met before>

I come to you in my time of need, to humby request your help. Due to certain circumstances<What circumstances? Just don't feel like working?>, I will be unable to draw an income, and provide for my family for the next 5 to 7 years. <Well gee, at least it's just a temporary thing.>

So I humbly<double the humble, double the fun> ask you, my friends and fellow Christians<Again, do I know you?>, to look into your hearts and find the care and compassion to help my family, and I, <Ok, this guy abuses commas even more than I do! Yeesh.>in this great time of need.

All I am asking for you to do, <More comma abuse>is to help my family by sending $10.00 to me. Tony Schiffman<Aha. Substituting a period for comma. Let's hear it for variety >, and for you to send out 10 copies of this letter to 10 of your fellow Christian friends. <What if all of my friends are Satanists?> If you are unable to help financially, a prayer for comfort and support would be greatly appreciated. If you could send 10 letters to 10 friends that would be wonderful.<I'm sure. So, they don't have to be Christians, now?>

My family and I thank you for you support, and your loving care and your time, but most of all we thank you for your time to pray for us!<And so that I can sit on my ass and "make money from home" as they say.>




Tony Schiffman

Please make your check or

money order to:

Tony Schiffman

112 Vally Drive
Mount Horeb WI, 53572

The letter was sent to me by Kim Skews, also of Mt. Horeb. As I said before, I don't know either of these people, and neither seems to have a working phone number. Thet whole thing pretty much reeks of scam. I advocate *not* sending Mr. Schiffman 10¢, let alone $10. However, feel free to send him..."prayers".

If anyone knows more about this situation, and can shed some light on it for me, I'd welcome your comments.


It's going to continue to be quiet here for the next few days. Not a lot going on worth writing about, and not much time to write. However, I'm getting in gear for the Wisconsin Film Fest later on this week. There should be a whole lotta reviewing going on soon.

New Mailbox

Ladies and gentlemen, Irving Place now has it's very own e-mail address. Specifically, it has an address for questions and comments regarding the Irving Place photo galleries (comissions and orders always welcome).

photos (at) irvingplace (dot) net

You will notice that I'm neither typing it put directly nor linking it. I am weary of the spambot e-mail harvesting. You are all smart people, and can certainly figure it out.

How soon we forget

I saw something quite sad yesterday. I was assiting in an 8th grade social studies class, and the teacher was having her students fill out a questionaire on the Civil Rights movement, so that she would know how much background they already had, before planning the unit. It was a list of terms. They were supposed to put a check mark next to anything they had heard of at all, and write a few words telling what they knew about it, if anything.

Few, if any, students new what NAACP stood for. "Freedom Riders", "seperate but equal", "Huey Newton", and "Brown vs. The Board of Education" drew similar blanks. A few students even had trouble stating what "civil rights" or "voter registration" meant.

Over half of the students in the class were black. They attended a school named after a civil rights pioneer. Last month was Black History Month. And did I mention that they were 8th graders? All I can hope is that the kids were just extremely lazy yesterday afternoon, rather than that ignorant. If the latter is the case, I do hope they are far less so after they finish that social studies unit.

On the other hand

I absentmindedly put my ice cream carton back into the fridge, instead of the freezer. It was on the runny side of things by the time I found it again. Thank goodness there wasn't much left.


I'm not sure if it was the ranting, or a good night's sleep, but I'm feeling much less bitter today. Still extremely grumpy to be poor, but a little more hopeful at least. So here's to that.

When my ship comes in...

Actually, I'd settle for a canoe. I'm really getting sick of this. Besides my student loan debt and my auto loan, I currently have $5,799.44 in credit card debt, almost all of which is for medical, dental, or auto repair expenses. There are very few expenses I can cut out of my life right now, unless I decide to sell of most of my belongings (including the car) and move into some teeny-tiny place in a co-op or rooming house.

Of course, without the car, I won't be able to substitute teach, and no one else seems to want to hire me right now. But hey, Wal-Mart is hiring!

Sorry to be grumbling at you (the whole three of you that actually read this thing) so feel free to move along to somewhere more fun. I'm just getting extremely frustrated these days. The rich are getting richer, and I'm eating oatmeal for every meal so that I can save money. And I'm comparitively well-off...I don't have kids to support. I do, however, have a cracked filling and a leaky fuel line, both of which need to be repaired ASAP. Say goodbye, Washington D.C..

I get lots of advice from people. "Do some more volunteer work, and it will look good on a resume and lead to better job opportunities." "You should go back to school." "Try looking for an internship or an entry level graphics job somewhere." "You should take a second job, like waiting tables." Well, there are only 24 hours in a day, folks, so what do I choose? Did Dubya ever have to make these choices? Did Dick? I tell ya, I'm getting fucking sick and tired of pulling myself up by my goddam bootstraps.

About the only thing I seem to be good at is scoring free tickets to things. I would gladly trade that in for some luck that was more lucrative. Honestly, I don't need to be rich, but I'd at least like to be out of the red. I can only tread water for so long. Can someone please tell me when it is supposed to get better?


Giselle 1943

Giselle 1943 featured magnificent dancing, wonderful costumes, and powerful sets. Unfortunately, the story did not work very well with the setting changed.

Rather than just being "a nobleman", Albrecht becomes a Nazi officer. Rather than just "peasants", Giselle and her fellow villagers are the doomed Jews of a European ghetto. No one is spared in this ballet, for instead of a group of Wilis (the spirits of young women who died before their wedding nights) the spirits of the second act are the Jewish community, who are gunned down before our very eyes. In light of this, Albrecht's grief seems more like self-pity than real remorse, and Giselle's forgiveness seems strange. Not only did Albrecht betray her (inadvertently, yet coldly causing her death) but he was a part of the appartatus that was brutally destroying her people. I found myself cheering when Albrecht was gunned down at the very end. "Serves you right, you bastard!"

The other incongruity was that after the Jews are gunned down on stage, and then rise up to dance as spirits (or zombies?) the music had some strangely happy sounding moments, that didn't match the action on stage. Certainly no one looked happy, but rather as though they had been sent to a concentration camp and gunned down in cod blood. So where do the tra-la-la themes come in?

However, when I looked past the troublesome plot points, and looked at the dancing on it's own, divorced from any plot or storyline, it was captivating. Traditional ballet with some modern dance type moves mixed in for spice, it was a satisfying visual spectacle. The ensemble was lithe and graceful to a man. The corps de ballet had plenty to do, beyond supporting the principles. The choreography alone was worth the ticket.

If you want another view on the production, Tom Strini provides it in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. A pretty good review, although I had to laugh at this line, "Pink has set his "Giselle 1943" in an anonymous central European state occupied by an oppressive foreign army. Of course the army will read as German and the citizens as Jews, but they are not specifically identified as such." Um, gee. Who else could they be?



Getting to the Pointe

A Midsummernight's Dream at the Madison Ballet was very good. Of course, it rather helped to already be quite familiar with the story. Watching the ballet was somewhat akin to watching a silent movie, but without the helpful title cards to explain the action. Everyone on stage did a valient job of getting the main plot points across, but Shakespeare without the words can be tricky. When Hippolyta and Theseus show up for the wedding, it is the first time we ever see them, and without knowing the play, I imagine it could lead one to ask, "Who are these people? Where did they come from?" (And why is everyone in the woods?)

Comprehension of the plot aside, the dancing was beautiful. The corps of tiny faerie children was sweet and non-annoying, since they were mostly compentent and not just adorable. The adult cast was also a treat to watch. The show, however, was stolen by Elizabeth Schweiger in the role of Puck. And rightly it should be since, hey, it's Puck! She made for an energetic and androgynous sprite, full of mischeif and fun. Granted, in Shakespeare's play Robin Goodfellow is rather a randy little imp, and far from androgynous. However, performing sans dialogue, I think that the slight, sleek physical appearance helped convey the...Puckishness of the character. Had a male been cast in the role, the larger, more muscular physique and the obvious "ballet bulge" would have had him too similar to Oberon, with little to distinguish the two faeries.

The matinee was full of children; many little girls dreaming of becoming ballerinas when they grow up. It also seemed very appropriate to see A Midsummer Night's Dream on the very first day of spring (Happy Vernal Equinox, everyone!).

On question, though. I know it was a matinee, and I know this is Madison, but don't people dress up for anything anymore?



Thank You Dr. Naismith's a beautiful game you've created.

Killer B's

Tomorrow I am going down to State Street Brats to enjoy a beer and a brat (more B's) and watch the Badgers take on the Spiders (NYT) in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Parking will be a challege, because of...more basketball. The WIAA boys state championship is going on this weekend at the Kohl Center. (*sigh* I still have very fond memories of the 1994 WISAA Boy's and Girl's State Basketball Championships at the Bradley Center.)

Saturday will be a matinee of A Midsummer Night's Dream by the Madison Ballet. On Sunday, the ballet binge will continue as a friend and I drive to Milwaukee to see the Milwaukee Ballet perform Giselle 1943.

It should be an exiting weekend, so expect some reviews (after sufficient recovery time, of course).


I really like the idea of the Community Car. It isn't really practical for me right now, but if I were ever to move closer to downtown and get a stable job and/or go back to school, I would definitely go for it.


I'm in the process of getting an order together for the Wisconsin Film Festival. Unlike other years, I was a little slow in getting organized this year, so many of the things I want to see are already in standby. However, I am going to get ticket vouchers as part of my ticket package, and make attempts to get in with the limited number of tickets available at the door. Sure, it will involve a little more standing in line, but that can be part of the adventute. Plus, if you have a voucher and aren't able to get into what you wanted, you may be more likely to see some other gem that you would have otherwise let pass by. Maybe it could be king of zen. (As I abuse that word.)

I prefer mine with lemon.

"We live in a nation of freedom. Participation in the Pledge is voluntary. Those who wish to participate may stand. All others may remain seated."

Every single day. Every single day. There is no escape.

I choose to remain seated. For one thing, I've already pledged my allegience to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands. My word is good, and I don't intend to go back on my word. Beyond that, I've already pledged it over and over. At some point it becomes akin to a married couple that "renews their vows" at every anniversary. Enough is enough.

Secondly, "under God" has gotten under my skin. I am a Christian, and I believe in God, but I also believe in the seperation of church and state, and am uncomfortable with how much that is being eroded.

Finally, in case there are any students in my classes that only stand because everyone else does, I want to be an example of the fact that you really don't have to. In some classes, that isn't even an issue. Jaded groups of youngsters that don't even stop chattering amongst themselves, much less stand and recite. In others, the earnestness can be cut with a knife. I have no problem with people choosing to say the pledge, but I think it is good for the very young to be reminded that dissenting opinions are ok.

And now I'm being verbose.

Molto Animato

I'm sure this has already been seen and linked to be every single blogger on the web, but whatever. This little guy really is adorable. Boogie down, man!

Feeling Generally Angry

I just watched Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls, about the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, and started think about how that sort of thing still happens today. All over the world, people keep deciding that blowing stuff up is the way to address their particular problems. Oklahoma City, New York City, Washignton D.C., Palestine, Karbala, Madrid... It just doesn't stop.

What the hell is wrong with people? And it isn't just the bombings. Every news report delivers fresh tales of horrible things that people do to each other. It makes me wonder how the human race is allowed to go on living. There is something seriously wrong with us.

I really need to seek out something light and heart warming right now, before my faith in humanity is entirely snuffed out.


Today I have eaten nothing but saltines and gingerale, plus a does of Pepto Bismol. I am never going to eat anything from Domino's again!



Right now feels like the calm before a thunderstorm. I feel like Tony in West Side Story, in that it seem like something's coming, don't know what. Hopefully it will be something good, rather than getting gunned down in a gang war. Ya know?

Donut and Beer

Tonight was a Pat McCurdy show at the Annex. It was great, since I haven't been able to get to a Pat show since the middle of October, when there were two days off for a teachers conference.

It was cool to see some old friends and say hi to Pat. I sat onstage for half of the show, so I really had one of the best seats in the house. (The "Max" seat, for Pat oldtimers.) And, since it was at the Annex, I was able to run to the Greenbush for donuts at halftime. As Homer would say, "Mmmm, donuts."

One thing that was odd about the evening was that I seemed to be an odd people magnet. One girl kept talking to me and asking about how long I'd been coming to Pat shows, how well I knew Pat, and if I would be driving to Minneapolis to see the show there and other such things. Another girl asked if I would take a shot to Pat and tell him it was someone's birthday (I suggested she do it herself). And some random guy asked me if I was ok...I'm not sure why he thought I wouldn't be, since I was smiling and singing along, but whatever. I'll just assume the drunkeness factor had something to do with all that.


Today I heard someone on the radio talking about people who where opposed to "gay unions". I knew what was meant, but at the same time it gave me a wonderful visual of something like Homosexuals Local 384.

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