Monday, January 31, 2011

S.C. to stop non-existent threat of Muslim law

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 4:38 PM

I bet you didn’t know that Muslim extremists are menacing the good folks of South Carolina, did you? Well, listen up, because it appears there’s a good chance that some of S.C.’s laws will be overruled by ... (ominous, vaguely Middle Eastern-sounding music) Koran-based, or sharia, law. Not to worry, though, S.C. Republicans are on top of the situation.

Seriously, Republican conservatives are running more state houses these days, which means we can look forward to new laws specially tailored to the right’s peculiar collection of paranoid notions. It’s about time our lawmaking GOP friends in South Carolina got cracking, too. They’ve spent much of the past two years  fighting each other and calling their own gubernatorial candidates things like “queer” and “rag-head,” so they have some catching up to do if they expect to maintain their role as one of the nation’s strangest legislatures.

State Sen. Michael Fair of Greenville, S.C., has come to the rescue; he introduced a bill that would "prevent a court or other enforcement authority from enforcing foreign law in this state." Fair explains that, "There are some localities around the country that have imposed sharia law in lieu of local laws." Welllllll, not exactly, Michael, although we know the Great Sharia Law Scare is something the far right is riled up about. Fair mentions an Arizona case where an Iraqi man, citing sharia law, is accused of killing his daughter for being “too Westernized.” Apparently, to Fair, this amounts to sharia law sneaking its way into U.S. courts, although the Iraqi man is accused of first-degree murder by an American district attorney, who will try the man in an American court, after which the guy will probably spend many years in an American prison. Some conservatives also point to George Washington University, where the Muslims Students Association successfully lobbied for a weekly women-only swim hour at the pool, as “sharia law” taking over America (or, as TalkingPointsMemo put it, “Out of the pool! It’s filled with Sharia!”). There are other cases where the evil specter of creeping sharia law has raised the hackles and concerns of xenophobes; you  can read about those cases here. Suffice it to say that the cases reveal way more about the complainers' xenophobia than anything related to imposing sharia law.

And get this, because this is especially rich: Sen. Fair says he’s not looking to discriminate against anyone, but in S.C., “We're big on religious freedom, but we also understand that civil law and criminal law in this country and in the state of South Carolina ... is not religious law." That statement is sadly hilarious, considering that for decades, South Carolina was one of the nation’s strictest enforcers of “blue laws,” which impose Christian religious standards, especially the observance of Sunday as a day of worship or rest, by restricting Sunday shopping. Blue laws still mandate that S.C. non-essential businesses not operate before 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, because lawmakers think you should be in church instead of out buying flip-flops or whatever. So Sen. Fair’s picture of South Carolina as a progressive land that’s just trying to protect everyone from religion-based laws is pretty much, well, pure bullshit. But then, that’s the kind of scaredy-cat hogwash you get when you put ignoramuses in charge. We’re about to learn that hard lesson here in North Carolina, too — so actually, we shouldn’t be laughing too loudly at our neighbors to the south. Fasten your seatbelts.

Required schoolteacher garb in S.C., under sharia law
  • Required schoolteacher garb in S.C., under sharia law

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Shocking! Samuel Fuller on DVD

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Shock Corridor_DVDcover
  • Shock Corridor (Photo: Criterion)

By Matt Brunson


DIRECTED BY Samuel Fuller

STARS Peter Breck, Constance Towers



DIRECTED BY Samuel Fuller

STARS Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley

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Theater review: The Graduate at Theatre Charlotte

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 3:22 PM

Over 30 after the classic film, Terry Johnson had the temerity to adapt The Graduate for the stage in April 2000. Would it really be possible for Kathleen Turner and Matthew Rhys to match the legendary performances Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman as the manipulative Mrs. Robinson and the adorably-conflicted Benjamin? If transposing the Calder Willingham-Buck Henry screenplay to the stage were such a natural, it seemed like it should have happened decades before.

Sue and I loved the original London production, probably because we were drawn to it by the story rather than the tabloids’ hysterical fixation on Turner’s nude scene. Turner’s mid-life sizzle extended far beyond the seduction scene, and the script – drawing also from the Charles Webb novel that the 1967 film was based upon – reaffirmed that the power of the storyline and the dialogue could stand on their own without Hoffman and Bancroft. Confounding the doubters and the critics, the London run was a smashing success.

Koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson!

Fast-forward 10+ years and the commanding influence of The Graduate has somewhat faded. But if it was once dubious that Kathleen Turner could make Mrs. Robinson her own or that the Mike Nichols-directed film could be contained by a proscenium, the challenge seemed heightened at Theatre Charlotte, where the local premiere continues through Sunday.

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'No Postsecondary Education/Illegal Aliens'

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 2:03 PM

That’s the short title for HB11, a bill barring college access for undocumented students, which has been introduced in the N.C. General Assembly. The bill seeks to reverse the May 2008 decision that allowed undocumented students to attend North Carolina community colleges under certain conditions; CPCC, for example, will only take undocumented students who pay out-of-state tuition, among other stipulations.

The bill is being met with heavy opposition by those who support the rights of undocumented students. The website detailed an e-mail exchange between a member of the NC DREAM Team and Rep. Cleveland;

“It is saddening that one of our state’s representatives would go out of their way to deny a segment of our state’s population the right to educate and better themselves,” said Ian Smith-Overman, the member who sent the e-mail. “I believe your decision to sponsor this bill is short-sighted at best and vindictive at its worst.”

Rep. Cleveland responded within five hours. “I find it revolting that an American thinks that we should financially support people that cannot legally work in this country through taxpayer subsidized education,” he said. “If you feel so strongly about this issue find an illegal and pay for their education at a private university."

Interested in voicing your opposition to the bill? Come out to Marshall Park tomorrow, Feb. 1, where a vigil to fight HB11 will be held from 6 p.m.-6:30 p.m. You can find more information on the event's Facebook page.

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Other? Check.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Thanks to Keo 101 for the photo.
  • Thanks to Keo 101 for the photo.

We're not just African-American, Asian, Caucasian, Latino and Native American. In fact, I assert most of us are mutts of some sort.

And by "mutts," I mean no offense. I'm simply saying that very few of us are 100 percent anything. Take me, for instance, I'm German, Welsh, Irish and, we think, Creole ... but since one branch of my family tree can't remember being from anywhere other than Baldwin County, Ala., it's difficult to know for sure. My husband? He's French, Cherokee and ... we don't know.

And, really, who cares? As someone said to me a couple years ago, "We're all pink underneath."

Check this article, "Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above," from The New York Times:

Many young adults of mixed backgrounds are rejecting the color lines that have defined Americans for generations in favor of a much more fluid sense of identity. Ask Michelle López-Mullins, a 20-year-old junior and the president of the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association, how she marks her race on forms like the census, and she says, “It depends on the day, and it depends on the options.”

They are also using the strength in their growing numbers to affirm roots that were once portrayed as tragic or pitiable.

“I think it’s really important to acknowledge who you are and everything that makes you that,” said Ms. Wood, the 19-year-old vice president of the group. “If someone tries to call me black I say, ‘yes — and white.’ People have the right not to acknowledge everything, but don’t do it because society tells you that you can’t.”

No one knows quite how the growth of the multiracial population will change the country. Optimists say the blending of the races is a step toward transcending race, to a place where America is free of bigotry, prejudice and programs like affirmative action.

Pessimists say that a more powerful multiracial movement will lead to more stratification and come at the expense of the number and influence of other minority groups, particularly African-Americans.

And some sociologists say that grouping all multiracial people together glosses over differences in circumstances between someone who is, say, black and Latino, and someone who is Asian and white.

Read the entire article, by Susan Saulny, here.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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Taco Bell and the great beef debate

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Taco Bell sign

Did you hear? Taco Bell is being sued by a Montgomery, Ala., law firm that wants to know what's in the company's meat. Here's a snip from Yahoo! News:

"Rather than beef, these food items are actually made with a substance known as 'taco meat filling,' " the lawsuit says. The firm contends that that Taco Bell shouldn't market the taco meat filling in question as beef because their testing shows that it only contains 36 percent ground beef. If that's true, Taco Bell's meat filling product would fall below the already generous USDA standard for it to qualify as meat -- the present standard demands it consist of at least 40 percent meat. This inspired Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz to crack, "Perhaps they should call it 'Almost Taco Meat Filling.'"

Read the entire article, by Brett Michael Dykes, here.

And then ...


It appears that Taco Bell is interested in having a debate over the meaning of the word "beef." The fast food chain, victim of a class-action lawsuit claiming that its taco beef is only 35 percent actual beef, has released a new ad directed at its accusers (as well as its customers, presumably) saying, "Thank you for suing us."

The fact is, Taco Bell is in the unenviable position of defending against accusations that its food is not really food. In the end, I would argue that the damage has been done.

Read the rest of this post, by Tom Laskawy, here.

I'm going to have to go with Tom here. The fact that the company stands accused of using a food substance that's two-thirds filler and only one-third beef is enough to make me lose all interest in eating at the restaurant chain. What about you?

Of course, couldn't we see this coming? As the saying goes, we get what we pay for. Problem is, in this economy, for some people food-like substances will have to do, and this is one restaurant where five bucks will fill an empty stomach.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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Social media: The great 'democratizer'

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Thanks to Dan Patterson for the photo.
  • Thanks to Dan Patterson for the photo.

If you've been anywhere near a television or newspaper lately, you've probably heard about the uprising in Egypt. Mixed in with the news is speculation that social media -- which includes blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more --  has a huge role to play in it, as it has in other uprisings around the world.

It's amazing to witness. Anyone with an Internet connection or cell phone has access to countless readers, allowing them to share their thoughts and ideas with anyone interested in reading — even in countries that actively attempt to stifle such interactions.

Thanks to social media, everyone can wield the power of the pen. We don't have to wait for the paper to be published or the 10 o'clock news to find out what's going on. All we have to do is tune into the Twitter feed of someone in the crowd.

While not nearly to the same extremes, we see this type of thing occurring here in the Queen City all the time. Journalists and citizens alike live-Tweet public meetings, drawing their followers into meetings they may not have known about or couldn't attend.

Anyone who wants to, and has a cell phone or Internet connection, is able to speak out like never before about anything that's on their mind. So, is it time to recognize the Internet, particularly social media, as the great "democratizer"?

From Newsline: Your Hotline to Pakistan:

In a short space of time, new media and social networks have blitzkrieged their way into global consciousness and usage, increasingly replacing traditional media – which is believed to be an anachronistic closed circuit. Today, social networks are being used for social interaction, business, activism, fund-raising purposes or simply voicing one’s opinion. And in the process, they are shaping a new discourse. In fact, as opposed to traditional media defining the parameters of debate and discussion, the reverse is taking place now: the discourse is being set using social media which is then filtering out into traditional forums.

What Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, sites hosting blogs and especially comment forums on numerous newspaper websites have done is allow a steady exchange of views on news. And this has automatically put in place a system of checks and balances. Even the press has started getting ‘bad press.’ A story seems doctored? Commentators will comment. A reporter misinforms his readers; they will make sure they set the record straight. When people in positions of authority – regardless of how high up the food chain they are – do (or say) something unacceptable, there will be blogposts and tweets and status updates on Facebook and endless comments about it.

The social media has not only allowed an exchange of views, but also enabled the intelligentsia to voice its opinions more forcefully.

Read the entire post, by Farieha Aziz, here.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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Today's Top 5: Monday

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Jan. 31, 2011 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

For-Adults-Only Monday Movies: Film screening of Mine at Gaston County Public Library


Lazarus A.D. at Tremont Music Hall

Find Your Muse open mic at The Evening Muse

Hispanic Authors Book Club at Mint Museum Randolph

Monday Night Allstars at Double Door Inn

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Friday, January 28, 2011


Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 7:00 PM

  • Among the artists with works at FABO are Noel Fludgate (above) and Barbara Chadwick (below).

The events at FABO Café began as home parties — what owner Amy Ausseiker likened to that of Mary Kay parties, but of local artists’ goods. Ausseiker traveled from friend to friend's home setting up temporary displays to peddle the wares. Packing and unpacking the works became a cumbersome and potentially dangerous chore for the artwork, so as a trial, Amy was able to experiment and set up shop in Elizabeth as a retail venue. Since then, Aussieker has turned this traveling showcase into a thriving business model on Selwyn Avenue; it’s trademarked and can be set up anywhere and everywhere local artists need support.

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Oscar does OK

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 3:16 PM

  • INCEPTION EXCEPTION: The summer blockbuster earned eight Oscar nominations, but Christopher Nolan (left) was snubbed for Best Director.

By Matt Brunson

Looking over the list of nominees for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, I realized that my initial gut feelings regarding two of the films had been correct. Sobering afterthought: I would gladly have been wrong. Here, then, are some thoughts on this year's slate.

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