Archive for the 'exhibits' Category

“I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid…”

Monday, September 18th, 2017
"I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid..."

Monday – 18 September 2017
In alignment with my rationale for #NBNThursday, today has most definitely been “a Monday.” That’s okay, this too shall pass. OK Go said so.

See? Told ya so.

Today started far too early. 5:15 AM early. I was in the office at 6:15. Much respect to those of you who are up, out, and making the doughnuts that early every day. The reason for such an early start was to handle last-minute prep for a week of meetings. In itself, that’s not so bad. It became “not-so-great” on Friday evening when – long after the day had been “done” – I was notified that said meetings were going to start at 10 AM, rather than the 2 PM we had originally been told. In short, our timeline for handling things just had four hours lopped off the top. As there was nothing to be done about it, I simply replied with “We can only do what we can do.” And then, I proceeded to enjoy my weekend.

“Enjoying my weekend” included, but was not limited to:

  • Judging a game tournament.
  • Watching the new DuckTales cartoon (and Star Wars: Rebels and Care Bears) with Team DiVa.
  • Going to the State Fair
  • Playing too few video games.

Fast forward (or would it be “rewind,” in this case) to this morning. We got the prep work out of the way for the influx of meeting participants with time to spare. Yes, there were a couple of glitches, but on the whole, we were done and life was good.

A few minutes after the presenters got started setting up for the day, we were informed that they were changing the configuration of one of the meeting rooms. Okay, fine. Whatever. Then we were informed “why” they were doing it: In the original configuration, only one of the projectors in that room was activated. That was news to me, but it didn’t preclude them from making the room work. As this news was being relayed, a coworker started laughing to himself. Naturally, I asked why. He proceeded to tell us that he knew of this idiosyncrasy.

I’ll pause here to note that he was here last week when we were setting up the room, but said nothing about it.

::: braincramp :::

Mischief managed. And external ire restrained.

The morning wore in afternoon with out much further ado. Thankfully.

And then, I saw this article: Toys ‘R’ Us could file for bankruptcy this week.

I was struck with a sense of nostalgic sadness. One of the first things that went through my mind upon reading the article was the childhood glee of trips to the TRU in Catonsville with either my mother or father. We may not have gone weekly , but there were definitely a lot of trips there. For me, those were the days of The Adventure People, Micronauts, and electric trains (mostly Tyco, when you could buy a decent train set – or just pieces – at your local toy purveyor). I remember asking my father to drive down “the roller coaster road,” a hilly back road ending at the Toys ‘R’ Us parking lot, which – if you went just fast enough – would send rollercoaster-like butterflies into the pit of your stomach. I remember wandering the aisles of the store, while my mother shopped at a clothing store next door. Hell, I still remember the 1970s commercial jingle – the long version.

Roughly a year ago, there were three (3) TRU locations in the Salt Lake Valley. One closed last November, the other closed a few months ago. The lone remaining store is down the street from my house. Yes, I still go there, but it’s not just for me, these days. Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed the quantity of some toy lines diminishing, while others have… not-exactly “flourished,” but at least survived. But it hasn’t felt like the same store that I used to visit as a kid for a long time. I’m sure that a fair portion of that is attributable to having gotten older.

There was no mention plans for the chain to close in the article, but like so many things, perhaps its time is nearing an end.

My inner kid still hopes that’s a long way off, though.

Tuesday Musings

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Tuesday Musings

Tuesday – 25 August 2015
Today is my “Monday,” due to staying home with a sick little girl (and a non-sick one) yesterday. I thought that I might be able to squeeze in a bit of work, but opted to just hang out with them. And, in my humble opinion, that was the best call. We had a fun day. And, last night, we assembled a play castle for them.

The started decorating it last night. And resumed this morning, after breakfast.

Over the weekend, we also took them on their first visits to a trampoline park (for a friend’s birthday) and to the “planet museum,” as they have taken to calling the Clark Planetarium. Both were fairly big hits, although Vanessa was definitely not a fan of the “motion” in the movie – Perfect Little Planet – in the planetarium dome. To be fair, I don’t suffer from motion sickness, but I could easily understand how someone could succumb to it while watching that film.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Miscellany for a Thursday

Thursday, June 18th, 2015
Miscellany for a Thursday

Thursday – 18 June 2015
Today is #NBNThursday, but it is also my sister-in-law, Melissa’s, birthday!

IMG_0163

And, I just found out that she’s coming to town and will be joining us for this year’s Run Through the Lavender 5k. Win-Win. She’s a bit of a runner, so she’s going to make the rest of us look bad not as good. I think I can live with that.

Workout
I really didn’t want to go to the gym this morning. Then I remembered that it was a leg day. #neverskipalegday. So, off I went. At first, I wasn’t going to do the elliptical, but decided to get five minutes on it, to get a little cardio. Then I found that the smith racks were all in use, so there went my squats – I would rather have a spotter if I was going to attempt squats with free weights. Today’s routine:

  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 120 lbs
  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs
  • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 120 lbs
  • Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs

Stray Toasters

  • I think that “threenager” is my favorite Sara-ism for describing Team DiVa.
  • If you have the opportunity to pick up a copy of Long Distance, by Thom Zahler, do it.
  • Tuesday night, I went to screenings of some of the short films made for this year’s 48 Hour Film Project, including the one I was in: Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry. (“Yes,” the misspelling is intentional.)

    Some members of the Cast and Crew of "Dr. Bill's Discount Sychaiatry" at the 48 Hour Film Project screening

    Some members of the cast and crew of Dr. Bill’s Discount Sychaiatry

  • By way of Coworker Brad: The History of the Carlton Dance As Told By The Legend Himself, Alfonso Ribeiro
  • I love the sheer joy of this little girl while flying with her father: First Aerobatic Flight Lea
  • I had an epiphany last night: I could move the girls’ videos off my iPad and onto theirs.
    Why it took me so long to realize that, I have no idea.

Namaste.

Tautology

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Tautology

Wednesday – 18 February 2015
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is also NBN Thursday Eve.

I was going to post something last night, but I got too distracted by The Flash and Firestorm(!)1.

And a RubySnap cookie and a glass of milk.

And Titanfall.

So, I’m posting today.

This past weekend, Sara!, Team DiVa and I took a trip to Promontory, UT to visit the Golden Spike National Historic Site (read: “TRAINS!!!”) and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. (For pictures, click here.) It was only a couple of hours to Golden Spike, which wasn’t as bad as I had thought. The site is way out in the middle of God’s own country, though. I commented to Sara! that for all the time – not really that much – that it took to get there at 65 MPH+, I could only imagine what it must have been like to try to cover that distance via horse, or wagon. Or, slower still, while trying to lay miles of railroad track. The site was nice, but I was a little disappointed that the locomotives weren’t on display. (That just means that I’ll have to head back up there to see the reenactment of the driving of the golden spike in May.)

From there, we headed out to the Spiral Jetty. While the two sites are only 15 miles apart, it took about 45 minutes to get from Golden Spike to the jetty. The water level on the Great Salt Lake was low. Very low. So low that we were able to walk out to the end of the jetty – 1500 feet – and we were still at least 300 feet from water!

Sunday, we decided to tackle a painting project: Our bedroom. Furniture out. Ladders in. Paint on. We moved our bed to the living room Sunday night, which threw Team DiVa for a bit of a loop Monday morning:

Diana: Why is your new bed in the living room?

Me: It’s not a “new” bed, we just moved it out here.

Diana: Oh.

We went on to explain that we did it since we were painting the bedroom; that answer appeased them.

Sara spent Monday morning/afternoon re-doing the baseboard and crown molding paint, while I vacuumed and shampooed the carpet, replaced four electrical outlets… and then tried to suss out why the overhead lights wouldn’t turn off.

*braincramp*

After a quick consultation with my father-in-law, he suggested that I check the old outlets and verify that they had broken metal connectors on the hot side. They did.  I broke the connectors on two of the new outlets and the lights worked in the manner to which we were accustomed once more!

We moved the furniture back in and slept in our newly-painted room on Monday night. Selah. It was a lot of ass-busting and elbow grease over two days, but it was worth it.

Stray Toasters

  • I stumbled across a picture of VP Biden holding/rubbing/whatever the shoulders of the newly-appointed Secretary of Defense’s wife last night and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add a caption:

    Creepy Vice-President is creepy...

    Creepy Vice-President is creepy.

  • Windows Updates. *sigh*
  • Despite the fact that Krispy Kreme UK unwittingly deemed today “KKK Wednesday,” I kind of still want a doughnut.
  • Today is apparently “National Drink Wine Day,” as well. I might have to imbibe a glass or two tonight.

And with that, I think I’m going to get “right on to the friction of the [rest of the] day.”

Namaste.

1Firestorm: The Nuclear Man debuted in 1978. I didn’t really become aware of the character until the second series, which started in 1982… but from then on, I was a fan. I haven’t been as invested in the New 52 version of the character, but I still like the character and the concept. So, when the news broke that he/they would be appearing on CW’s The Flash, my curiosity was piqued. The origin had been tweaked to fit the show, but it was close enough to the original for me. And, it featured all three of the main Firestorm characters – Ronnie Raymond, Martin Stein, and (in a nod to the updated, pre-New52 character) Jason Rusch.

January’s End: Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2015

Sunday, February 1st, 2015
January's End: Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2015

Saturday – 31 January 2014

UPDATE: Of course, when I posted this last night, I neglected to include the link to the gallery of pictures I took. D’oh! So, here’s “take two.”

It’s been a good weekend… and it’s only half over!

Thanks to #BestWifeEver, Sara!, I attended the 2015 Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience, colloquially referred to as “FanX” (pronounced “fan ex”).

slcomiccon2015

I went Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon for a few hours each day. Friday, I went with my coworker, Adam, and wandered the show floor, checking out the event. I ran into a few people I knew and saw some really good costumes, but I mainly wanted to see who and what was there. As I was originally not planning on attending the event, I decided not to go in costume.

Shortly before we were ready to leave on Friday, I ran into Jay Whittaker, who was dressed as Deadpool. Okay, let me amend that: I was talking with Big Movie Mouth Off and Geekshow Podcast‘s Jimmy Martin… and there was someone dressed up as Deadpool. I tried (mostly) to just ignore the cosplayer. Then, he just said: “Rob! You have no idea who I am,” and started laughing. Then I started laughing, because I recognized the voice. He told me that he was enjoying the anonymity of cosplaying behind a mask and noted that he was going to be cosplaying as Miles Morales – the Marvel Ultimate Universe Spider-Man – on Saturday. I jokingly quipped that I would have to show up on Saturday as Nick Fury. He said that I should do it…

Saturday morning, I broke out the Nick Fury outfit and headed back to FanX. My game plan for the day was to catch up with a few friends and to attend three panels:

  1. The Bechdel Test, hosted by Hello Sweetie Podcast‘s Charity O’Haodagain
  2. Comic Books on Television – DC, featuring my friends Jake, Jeremiah, and Jimmy, and
  3. Cosplayers and Charity, hosted by Jay (which I didn’t know until Saturday afternoon).

I’d barely gotten to the main floor when someone stopped me to take a picture. I was a little late getting to the Bechdel Test panel, but I did get there. It was a great discussion and some of the audience questions were insightful. I had some time to wander after the panel, so I caught up with my friend, Jamie. We wandered a bit. I got stopped for more pictures. We wandered some more.

I ran into Josh, Jack and Melody and their son. I’d seen pictures of Mel’s costume, but hadn’t seen the actual handiwork until today. The pictures don’t do it justice. That was an impressive piece of work. (Of course, that’s not entirely surprising, having seen her other artwork.) From there, it was off to the Comics on Television panel, which was just… fun. More wandering. More pictures. Then it was time for the Cosplayers and Charity panel, which featured six cosplayers from five charity cosplay groups (and one independent charity cosplayer). The panelists related stories of how they both got into cosplay and into cosplaying for charity.

After that, I did a little more roaming. I ran into Jamie again and we both ran into Danielle, also from Hello Sweetie. Charity and Sean passed by us on their way out and I took that as a sign that I should probably get on my way as well.

All told, the FanX event was a smaller affair than its September sibling, but that was not a detriment. It was easier to navigate (“Not all asses and elbows,” as I told a few people) and less chaotic. But, nevertheless, it was fun. I’m glad that I went and thankful to Sara! for the opportunity to go.

Namaste.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

Monday, September 8th, 2014
Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

Monday – 08 September 2014
Before I forget to post this… again…

This past weekend, Salt Lake Comic Con happened in… um… Salt Lake City, appropriately enough. I went as part of the Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection cavalcade.

Team DiVa (as Wonder Woman and Batgirl) at Salt Lake Comic Con

Team DiVa (as Wonder Woman and Batgirl) at Salt Lake Comic Con

I even managed to take a few pictures (click here).

Namaste.

Back again…

Friday, December 13th, 2013
Back again...

Thursday – 12 December 2013
It’s another No Bad News Thursday.  (At least it was when I started this…)
It’s also 13 days to Christmas. (12)

Now, it’s Friday the 13th. *cue ominous music*

This has been a less-than-stellar week, primarily because I’ve been sick. Fortunately, I don’t usually get much worse than a head or chest cold, but whatever I had was bad enough to make me leave work Tuesday and crawl into bed. Yeah, many levels of double-plus ungood “fun.” On top of that, Team DiVa has been feverish, as well… which means they’ve been a bit clingy for the past few days. But, the three of us are feeling better. And the Lady SaraRules? Not only did she not get sick, but she managed to nurse us all back to health. Single-handedly. In a snowstorm. Uphill. Both ways. (Okay, there may have been a few medicines here and there that helped, but she did a great job of looking after us.

Speaking of Team DiVa, here are a few shots from the past few weeks:

"We're spreading out our library books so we can figure out what to read first!"

“We’re spreading out our library books so we can figure out what to read first!”

Christmas cookies!!!

Christmas cookies!!!

Team DiVa: Snow Bunny Edition

Team DiVa: Snow Bunny Edition

"Can we stop taking pictures and go outside now?"

“Can we stop taking pictures and go outside now?”

Reading time with Mommy

Reading time with Mommy

Vanessa, trying out the new coat Grammy G got her... and a pirate hat!

Vanessa, trying out the new coat Grammy G got her… and a pirate hat!

Diana, trying out the new coat Grammy G got her... and a pirate hat!

Diana, trying out the new coat Grammy G got her… and a pirate hat!

Stray Toasters

That’s good for now.

Namaste.

Team DiVa Tuesday – 30 April 2013

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Tuesday – 30 April 2013
It’s been a good week with Team DiVa. Here’s just a little bit of proof:

Diana (l) and Vanessa, in the sand pit at Thanksgiving Point's Children's Discovery Garden

Diana (l) and Vanessa, in the sand pit at Thanksgiving Point’s Children’s Discovery Garden

Wait... you mean that we can bang on these? As loudly as we want?!

Wait… you mean that we can bang on these? As loudly as we want?!

Rhyme or reason?

At this point, there was still rhyme and a bit of reason to the label placement. A few minutes later? Not so much.

Namaste.

Father’s Day 2012

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Sunday – 17 June 2012
It’s my first Father’s Day. And, so far, it’s been quite good.

I’d like to wish a “Happy Father’s Day” to the fathers out there, as well.

The day started with Team DiVa waking up at 7:00. It was slightly earlier than I had wanted to get up, but that’s the way it goes with twin-fants. That was followed by breakfast and play time, which translates (roughly) as: “Climb all over Mommy and Daddy Time.” But, they are cute. And learning to walk:

…so that helps make it a lot more bearable. (And, despite the workout, it’s fun.)

I’m not sure what the middle of the day holds, but I’m hoping for a trip to the Garden of Sweden.  This evening, we’re having Sara!’s parents over for dinner. And tonight, there may be some gaming: I’ve had an itch to play/finish LEGO: Batman.

Stray Toasters

Team DiVa will be up from their nap soon, so I should probably wrap this up.
Namaste.

Waypoint

Monday, April 30th, 2012
Waypoint

Monday – 30 April 2012
A new work week begins as April ends.

This morning, Diana decided to wake up around 5:30. I thought it somewhat odd, as she took fairly short naps yesterday and fell asleep fairly easily last night. While she’s been “inchworming” herself backwards for the past few weeks, she’s recently started rolling over in her sleep, from her back to her stomach. When she wakes, this distresses her for some reason. Usually, we can turn her back over and she’ll nod off again. But, sometimes – like this morning – the nodding off takes a while. (Fortunately, she’s pretty good about playing somewhat quietly in her crib.) Still… 5:30.

Meanwhile, Vanessa slept. Until a little after 7:00.


Vanessa (l) and Diana

That aside, this was a good – and busy – weekend. SaraRules’ sister, Meliko, came into town Thursday for Steve’s birthday.

Friday, we went to Pat’s Barbecue for lunch. It was quite good. (Typing that, I just realized that I have leftovers that would have been perfect for lunch today…) Then, it was home for the girls’ nap. Later in the day, we headed over to Steve and Bonne’s for dinner.

Friday evening, I swung by SteamHead Cafe for their grand opening. They had a great turnout. Some of the Clitorati group were there, so there were familiar faces, too.

Saturday was another busy day. I was set to judge the April “Infinity Gauntlet” ‘Clix tournament for Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection. Or most of it, anyway. It turned out that I was double-booked: Red Butte Garden was having a Beginners Bonsai class that coincided with their Bonsai Show and competition (pictures) and I had signed up for the class. It was instructional and informative, but there was not a hands-on component.

By the time I got back to Dr. Volt’s they’d already finished the tournament. So, I headed home… just in time to watch Team DiVa, while SaraRules! fixed dinner.

Sunday, we got up and met the Kelly clan at Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks for breakfast before Meliko had to leave. After breakfast, SaraRules! and I had planned a pilgrimage to The Garden of Sweden, but we forgot that it didn’t open until noon. We got there just after 11 AM.

*shakes fist*

So, we took a leisurely drive around the valley and wound up at Pin-up Girl Espresso. We did make it to IKEA, after the girls’ lunch and all-too-brief naps. And then, up to the in-laws’ for dinner. I wound up the evening with episodes of Firefly, Young Justice and The Legend of Korra.

|| PAUSE ||

He stared at the twin vases on his desk. They were, generally speaking, rather non-descript. Glass. Round. Six inches tall. The only difference between them was that one was filled with glass beads, the other only had one.

“Twenty-nine,” he said to the empty room.

He’d been pondering this idea for a while, almost a month. He leaned forward, grabbing the nearly-empty vase, and turned it upside-down. The lone glass bead dropped to his desk. He watched as it wobbled and finally came to a rest. He reached forward, returning the empty vase to its home. He sat back in his chair, staring at the bead. Not surprisingly, the bead didn’t have much to say.

A lopsided grin crossed his lips. He batted the bead across the desktop a few times before picking it up. He stood and walked around to the front side of the desk. He dropped the bead into the full vase.

“Thirty.”

He inhaled deeply, turned and walked out the door.

> PLAY >

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

It’s Monday again.

Monday, March 19th, 2012
It's Monday again.

Monday – 19 March 2012
Another work week begins and this one has brought snow flurries with it.

The past few days have been good. And a bit busy. Highlights included:

  • Taking Adventure Babies: Team DiVa to Sugar House Park for a walk on Friday. We parked near the duck pond, so they watched the birds before we started our walk.
    Diana (rear) and Vanessa, watching the ducks and pigeons
  • Green Lantern/St. Patrick’s Day
  • Judging a HeroClix tournament for Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection.
  • FINALLY watching the first episode of Green Lantern: The Animated Series
  • Attending Utah Opera’s The Elixir of Love with SaraRules!
  • Corned beef and cabbage!
  • The season finale of The Walking Dead.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Halfway There (Part II)

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Halfway There (Part II)

Thursday – 08 March 2012
It’s another NBN Thursday.
It’s also International Women’s Day (1, 2). And…

Vanessa turned 6-months old today!

Last night was fairly low-key around the house. The girls tried – and devoured – a new food: Pears. So, it seems that the only unpopular food (at least so far) is peas — Diana will grudgingly eat them, Vanessa flat-out refuses to. The girls woke up again in the middle of the night. No crying this time, but there was a bit of chatter in their room before they knocked out again.

Today, as usual: Meetings!  YAY!

And tonight, I’m picking up some material for Saturday’s basement framing extravaganza. And maybe (just maybe), I’ll be able to sneak in a little MW3 or DCUO.  We shall see what the evening holds.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for today.

Namaste.

Finally…

Friday, February 24th, 2012
Finally...

Friday – 24 February 2012
It’s (finally) the end of the week. It’s my working Friday, but it’s also the quiet day in the office; this isn’t to say that the day hasn’t been productive.

Of even more importance: The twins slept through the night again! And… *drumroll* … for the second consecutive night! I’m not necessarily expecting them to do so again tonight, but I wouldn’t be averse to it.

SaraRules! and I postponed Wednesday’s Pasta & Movie Date Night until last night. It was SaraRules!’ night to choose a movie. She picked Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. We had long talked about watching all of Spike Lee’s movies, in order, but hadn’t done anything about it… until last night. And it was good, especially for his first outing.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s person of note is Llewellyn Xavier, artist.


Llewellyn Xavier OBE was born in Saint Lucia on October 12, 1945

Xavier left Saint Lucia for Barbados in 1961, working as an agricultural apprentice for a time. A friend gave him a box of watercolors, and he was soon drawn to art. His first exhibition was a great success, and soon his reputation was established. In 1968, Xavier moved to England, where he became a pioneer in the field of mail art. He enrolled in the school of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1979, and for a time was a Cistercian monk in Montreal. After a time, he left the monastery, marrying and returning to Saint Lucia in 1987.

Probably Xavier’s most important work to date is a large cycle of collages. His intense concern for the environment led to his masterpiece, Global Council for Restoration of the Earth’s Environment; it was first shown at the Patrick Cramer Gallery in Geneva in May of 1993. The collages incorporate all manner of recycled materials, including naturalist prints from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and postage stamps from many countries. They also include signatures of various world leaders of environmentalism and of a number of conservationists.

Xavier received the OBE in 2004 in recognition of his contributions to the art of the Commonwealth. His most recent series to date, also of collages, is titled Environment Fragile, and is meant to call attention to the destruction of the environment; he has sent pieces from the series to various dignitaries around the world.

Xavier’s work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian Institution as well as in various European museums.

Stray Toasters

“Show, Don’t Tell…”

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
"Show, Don't Tell..."

Thursday – 23 February 2012
Another No Bad News Thursday is upon us. Something that makes this day just a little bit better: The girls slept through the night again!

Vanessa (l) and Diana, in new headbands… rocking out with their Sophies and some tissue paper

This more than made up for the atrocious nights’ sleep that I had. More unpleasant dreams and great case of heartburn. YAY!

SaraRules! had another Justice League meeting last night, so her father came over to dote over his granddaughters help me get the girls fed and to bed. And, to be honest, dote a bit. He and the girls played a bit. They took pictures. They told stories about the war.  (Okay, that was just to make sure that you were really paying attention.) Then it was dinner (carrots) time and before too long… time for bed and a story.

SaraRules!, on her way home from saving the world, stopped and got me Chinese food take-out. As it was a bit late for Pasta & Movie Date Night, we opted to finish off the first half of this season’s The Walking Dead. Wow. Some things wound up the way I expected, while I didn’t see a couple of things coming. (Yay for avoiding spoilers for the past two months!)

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s profile is: Madam C.J. Walker, an African-American businesswoman, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Madam C.J. Walker (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919) was born Sarah Breedlove in Delta, Louisiana to Owen and Minerva Breedlove. She was one of six children. Her parents and elder siblings were slaves on Madison Parish plantation owned by Robert W. Burney . She was the first child in her family born into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Orphaned at the age of seven, Madam C. J. Walker moved in with her older sister, and brother-in-law, Willie Powell. At the age of 14, she married Moses McWilliams to escape Powell’s abuse. Three years later her daughter, Lelia McWilliams (A’Lelia Walker) was born. When Sarah was 20, her husband died. Shortly afterward she moved to St. Louis where three of her brothers lived. Her second marriage to John Davis ended in 1903.

Driven by her own struggles with hair loss during 1890s, Madam C. J. Walker began experimenting with different hair care treatments and products. In 1905 she invented a method for straightening African-Americans’ “kinky” hair: her method involved her own formula for a pomade, much brushing, and the use of heated combs. Encouraged by her success, she moved to Denver, Colorado, where she married Charles J. Walker. She promoted her method and products by traveling about the country giving lecture-demonstrations. Soon Sarah, now known as “Madam C. J. Walker,” was selling her products throughout the United States. While her daughter Lelia (later known as A’Lelia Walker) ran a mail order business from Denver, Madam Walker and her husband traveled throughout the southern and eastern states. They settled in Pittsburgh in 1908 and opened Lelia College to train “hair culturists.” In 1910 Walker moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where she established her headquarters and built a factory.

She began to teach and train other black women in order to help them build their own businesses. She also gave other lectures on political, economic and social issues at conventions sponsored by powerful black institutions. After the East St. Louis Race Riot, she joined leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in their efforts to support legislation to make lynching a federal crime. In 1918 at the biennial convention of the National Association Of Colored Woman (NACW) she was acknowledged for making the largest contribution to save the Anacostia (Washington, DC) house of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. She continued to donate money throughout her career to the NAACP, the YMCA, and to black schools, organizations, individuals, orphanages, and retirement homes.

In 1917, she moved to her Irvington-on-Hudson, New York estate, Villa Lewaro, which had been designed by Vertner Tandy, the first licensed black architect in New York State and a founding member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Madam C.J. Walker died at Villa Lewaro on Sunday, May 25, 1919 from complications of hypertension. She was 51.

At the time of her death, Madam C. J. Walker was sole owner of her business, which was valued at more than $1 million. Her personal fortune was around $600,000 to $700,000. She left one-third of her estate went to her daughter—who herself became well known as a supporter of the Harlem Renaissance—the remainder to various philanthropies.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“No, I have not been to Oxford town…”

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
"No, I have not been to Oxford town..."

Tuesday – 21 February 2012
Ugh. That’s how I felt this morning when my alarm went off. Not because the girls woke up in the middle of the night. (Which was fine, as they woke up about 4:15 and were asleep again shortly thereafter.) No, last night’s broken sleep came courtesy of some rather disturbing dreams. Disturbing enough that it took me a while to want to go back to sleep. Yeah, it was that much fun.

The evening, however, was good. It was another bath night for the girls. After last week’s experience with Vanessa (a.k.a. “Splash-O-Matic 5000”), I decided to change into shorts before giving the girls their baths. And, of course, this week, both girls were fairly subdued. Still, bath time was good.

After the girls were down, SaraRules! made a fantastic chicken curry dish (with chickpeas and spinach) over rice. We ate and knocked a couple of episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles and Castle off the DVR. When those were done, we saw that Blade Runner was on AMC. We watched part of it and realized that neither of us had watched the whole film in a while. We plan on rectifying that in the not-too-distant future.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s person of note is: Leslie Uggams, an American actress and singer.

Leslie Uggams was born on May 25, 1943 in New York City, to Harold and Juanita Uggams. As a small child Uggams would sing along to records, exhibiting a remarkably mature voice. The fact that Uggams had vocal talent was not a total surprise. Her father was a member of the Hall Johnson Choir, and her mother was a chorus girl at the Cotton Club.

In 1949, at age six, Uggams sang in public for the first time at St. James Presbyterian Church in New York City. The following year, she made her acting debut with a small part on an episode of the television comedy Beulah, which starred the legendary Ethel Waters. Uggams played Beulah’s niece.

At 9-years-old Leslie, opened for such legends as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington at the Apollo Theater. She also made appearances on Your Show of Shows, The Milton Berle Show, and The Arthur Godfrey Show. After completing the third grade, Uggams left her local public school to enroll at the Professional Children’s School, a private institution in Manhattan catering to children with show business connections.

At 15 , she appeared on the CBS-TV quiz show “Name That Tune,” winning $12,500 toward her college education. The appearance gave Uggams a chance to showcase her vocal skills. Her rendition of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” was noticed by record producer Mitch Miller who, as director of artists and repertory at Columbia Records, was one of the most influential figures in popular music during the 1950s. Miller signed Uggams to a contract, and her first album was released in 1959. Despite increasing career demands, Uggams continued to excel at school. At the Professional Children’s School, from which she graduated in 1961, Uggams was editor of the yearbook and president of the student body.

When Miller got his own television show, Sing Along with Mitch, in 1961, Uggams was asked to appear on it, first as a guest vocalist, then as a regular member of the all-singer cast. She became the lone African American performer regularly appearing on network television. The presence of an African American singer on the Sing Along with Mitch show drew relatively little controversy, although some stations in the South refused to air the program. “Mitch was told either I go or the show goes. He said, ‘Either she stays or there’s no show.’ He loved that show, and he had been trying to sell it for so long that to turn around and do that was heroic,” Uggams told Nadine Brozan of the New York Times in 1994. Uggams sometimes found her position as television’s only African American performer difficult to bear. “It was a heavy load. I was responsible for having a clean image. I wanted people to have respect for black people.”

Uggams later attended the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, where she studied every subject offered except singing. “They said they wouldn’t touch her voice,” Uggams’ mother told Newsweek. In 1963, Uggams left Juilliard a few credits short of a degree.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Uggams acted in television shows like The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, The Mod Squad, Marcus Welby, M.D., while continuing to appear as herself on variety shows. In 1970, she had her own musical variety television series on CBS-TV, The Leslie Uggams Show, and signed a new recording contract with Atlantic Records. In 1972, she made her dramatic film debut opposite Charlton Heston in the MGM film Skyjacked.  However, it was Leslie’s portrayal of Kizzy in the most watched dramatic show in TV history, Alex Haley’s Roots, that won her worldwide recognition as a dramatic actress – including the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1978, an Emmy nomination for Best Leading Actress and coveted Golden Globe Nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

In 1983, Uggams won a Daytime Emmy as “Outstanding Host or Hostess of a Variety Series” for Fantasy.

In 1987, she toured with Peter Nero and Mel Torme in “The Great Gershwin Concert,” for which she received rave reviews. In 1988, she starred as Reno Sweeney in the National Company of the Lincoln Center Production of “Anything Goes” and later reprised the role at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater on Broadway.

Uggams entered the world of daytime drama in 1996 when she played Rose Keefer, a woman with a checkered past, on All My Children. Her portrayal of Rose Keefer earned Uggams a nomination for the NAACP Image Award.

Singing continues to be the mainstay of Uggams’ career, and acting assignments are fit into a busy concert schedule. Uggams would like to do more acting but,”You can’t just sit around waiting for a good script. You can wait forever.”
Information courtesy of Answers.com, IMDb.com, LeslieUggams.com, MasterworksBroadway.com, NPR and Wikipedia.
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