Monday, April 30, 2007

A Homegrown Delight!

This past Saturday night, in celebration of my 22nd birthday, a couple friends and I went to Cafe Montmartre here in Madison to see this fantastic artist perform. I first discovered Martha Berner on Mspace (which is the best way to discover musicians as it turns out) about a year ago. She has been to Madison a couple of times since then, but for some reason I always missed her. I was thrilled to finally get the opportunity, and it was well worth the wait! She is amazingly talented, and the best thing is she is a Wisconsin native! She hails from the town of William's Bay on Lake Geneva, which just so happens to be the town in which my grandma grew up! The style of music is very indie folk and enjoyable. While performing, she switched it up between the acoustic guitar, tambourine, harmonica and even trumpet! (I don't know why I'm so impressed by the trumpet, but I am). She has been getting great reviews from all across the country. I won't be surprised if we hear more about her very soon! You can get her CD ... this side of yesterday or her EP Ten Tiny Little Pieces on iTunes.

So go! Listen! Go now!

Monday, April 23, 2007


I was just forwarded this e-mail tonight from the UW Social Work LGBT Student group:

Dear LGBT Social Work/Welfare Group ,

As you may be aware, April 18th is the national Day of Silence in support of GLBT community. The Day Of Silence is meant to bring attention to anti-GLBY harassment, discrimination, etc. in schools. In its 11th year, it is one of the largest and most wide spread student lead actions in the United States.

A group of my friends and I, some of us bisexual, some straight, some questioning, all decided to participate in the Day of Silence. It just so happened that April 18th was also the day that our school was scheduled to go to a local play, Anne Frank.

Well, as soon as the teachers found out that we were taking part in this national day of GLBT support, they immediately told us that it was "stupid", and that we should "just give up now" because there was no way that we would be able to do it. Undaunted, we stuck to it, refusing to speak. All was well until our science teacher, Mr. Rohl, heard that we were planning to remain silent for the whole day. Mr. Rohl told my friend Holly that she was to get everyone that was choosing to participate in the Day of Silence and report to the office. So me and two of my friends went to the office like we were supposed to, only to be shoved aside while Mr. Rohl and the principal, Mr. Johnson, left for the Anne Frank play with the rest of the students.

Eventually, Mr. Danke, our vice principal, called me into his office. He told me that I was "working against the school" in my actions, that he "didn't support the cause", and ended by telling me that I was going to be given in school suspension (ISS) of the rest of the day, seeing as to how I was refusing to speak. He also said that it was my choice to skip the play, though no one ever asked me if I was wanted to go or not. I am not expected to reimburse Mr. Rohl for the money he spent on the tickets for the play, because of my "bad choices".

My friends all got the same treatment, and when we tried to communicate with Mr. Danke through writing, he refused to listen to us unless we were willing to break the silence and speak.

The irony of the situation wasn't lost on my friends and me, either. The rest of our class was going to see a play based on promoing tolerance, which we were being forced to miss because of a very intolerant teacher.

Even after the Day of Silence, teachers are still making fun of us, telling us that it was stupid and that we had made a bad choice.

So pretty much my friends and I are being persecuted for standing up for what we believe in. Our rights are being infringed upon-the first amendment-the right to speak, or not speak, as we choose.

Anything you could do would be greatly appreciated. Even if you could just email the teachers that were involved, i would be very happy. Mr. Danke's email address is, and Mr. Rohl's email address is


Maggie Tuveson

8 Blue, Meyer Middle School

River Falls, WI

While the actions of the vice-principal and the teacher did not necessarily surprise me, I still couldn't help but be appalled. It is especially ironic to me, as the young woman writing the e-mail pointed out, that they were going to see a play that very day about the extreme effects of intolerance, oppression and silencing of minority voices. Obviously I know that there is still plenty of intolerance throughout the country, but it is still upsetting to me each time I hear about it. It is especially upsetting in school settings, where I think teachers and administrators are exercising an extreme abuse of power when they allow their own moral viewpoints to guide them in their disciplinary actions. No matter what the teacher's view on homosexuality was, he has an obligation to keep the school a safe space for all students. I'm all for freedom of speech and difference of opinions, but a classroom is a place where no student should feel threatened or silenced because of some type of innate aspect of their identity. I think that people who are close-minded and intolerant have no business being educators.

That's all for now. Just wanted to share. Anyone else who feels upset about this is welcome to use the information provided.

Again with the fantasy thing...

In my last post I talked about the show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and how it seems that science fiction and fantasy is rarely taken seriously in America. Quite frankly I'm shocked that Lord of the Rings won the 2003 Oscar for Best Picture. Anyway, I was just thinking about this subject again after seeing the film Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno) for the second time. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Lanugage Film, but lost out to the German feature The Lives of Others. So I haven't seen The Lives of Others, and I probably should before I go and rant about any injustice. But after seeing Pan's Labyrinth two times in the theatre, I have to say that I just cannot imagine another film being better than this one. Of all the films I have seen in the past few years -- foreign language and English language included -- this one tops them all. It was incredible. The cinematography, the storyline, the acting, the score, everything was beyond compare. It really says something about a film when you leave the theater for the second time feeling just as touched and exhilarated as you felt the first time.

My feeling is that a fantasy film just does not have as good of a chance against a regular old drama about a war or something like that. Fantasy is equated with children and that is not something that can be taken as seriously. Unless it is a film done by some big Hollywood name, it probably won't get the recognition it deserves. Many adults are afraid to appreciate or enjoy fantasy films because they think it makes them seem less mature. I think that says something about the imaginations and creative brains of "grown ups." As I mentioned in my last post, fantasy often serves as a metaphor or an allegory for real situations or issues. Most of us are obsessed with realism -- we don't like having this artistic dimension put onto something. But isn't it more exciting and more challenging to see the world through different eyes?

The plot of Pan's Labyrinth is a little girl named Ofelia and her mother move to the rural army base of her stepfather, who is a sadistic military Captain for the Spanish Army. This takes place in 1944 in Spain, when Franco is in power. Out in the woods a group of revolutionaries is fighting against the fascist dictatorship. In the meantime, Ofelia tries to escape into her fairytales. One night she wanders into a labyrinth that is on the outskirts of the army base. There she meets the faun, who tells her that she is really the reincarnated daughter of the King of the Underworld. She must complete three tasks to prove that she has not become too "mortal." As Ofelia completes the tasks, there is a lot of other stuff going on with the army and guerilla fighters, etc. Ofelia's fantastical world serves as a metaphor for the world that she has seen disappear. It is her way of surviving the terrible and gruesome reality that surrounds her.

I would obviously recommend that everyone go and see this movie. As a warning, it is pretty tragic and there is also a lot of violence. And it is rated R. It's promotes as a "fairytale for adults", so don't let your little kids watch it!

Here is the trailer for the film and also the beginning sequence: