anti-Amendment One

This afternoon two friends and I went out canvassing against Amendment One. This is the amendment to the NC state constitution which says: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."

They sent us to knock doors of Democratic voters, to inform undecided voters about the consequences of the amendment and encourage supporters to turn out. We also had to warn people to turn over the ballot: all the candidates are on page 1, and the amendment is the only thing on page 2. It could be really easy to miss the amendment.

They told us not to focus on gay marriage as a civil rights issue, instead to stress the unintended consequences: the loss of domestic partner benefits for straight couples, the risk to children whose parents aren't married, the damage that could be done to domestic violence laws. I wish that we could have talked more about gay rights -- I wish I lived in a town where I could be confident people would be receptive. But I think they made the right call.

My approach was to start out by saying the amendment is "too broad" and talking about children. If they sounded receptive I would say "I don't think our constitution should be changed to take rights away from people." I talked to several undecided voters, one I think I persuaded for sure. She said she hadn't known what the amendment was about and thanked me for "opening the issue up for [her]." That felt great! A couple of others didn't commit, but said they were going to think it over and sounded like they meant it. We had a flyer to give out (which focused on the harm to children) and they seemed like they really wanted the flyer.

We also talked to a few people who were strongly against the amendment. One has a gay daughter and asked if we could get him a yard sign. One was cagey -- he wouldn't say his position until I told him mine first -- then he talked about discrimination and thanked me for volunteering. One self-identified as a Christian, and sounded like she might be personally against gay marriage, but said she didn't believe it should be in the constitution. She kept saying she didn't think faith should be legislated. She was such a powerful advocate that I encouraged her to talk to her friends, and I hope she talks to everyone in her church!

Of course it wasn't all sunshine. I talked to a couple of people who said they were voting against, but clearly meant "What can I say that will get you off my porch faster." And the other people in our canvas group talked to someone who was strongly for. They said the person talked about the Bible being against homosexuality, and when they brought up the harm to unmarried couples said "You mean people who are shacked up?" Thank you for your time, goodbye!

On the way home my friend S. talked about how much easier the canvas must have been for us than for the volunteers who are gay. How painful must it be to, first of all, face the prospect of the entire state voting on whether you should have rights? And then when you volunteer, you're told to downplay your personal story and how it will affect you, because that might put voters off? I didn't like avoiding gay rights and talking mainly about the impact on unmarried straight people, but at least I wasn't having to pretend like I don't exist. There was a gay couple canvassing in the same neighborhood as us. I hope they didn't run into any Bible thumpers.

The canvas was organized by Protect NC Families. If you're reading this and you live in NC, why not contact them? Their Durham office has volunteer events every day from now until May 8. I think it's mainly phone banking, but I like canvassing better so that's what I'm focusing on.

Oath of Office

I, Sarah Ovenall, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States; that I will administer the duties of my office as Assistant of the 37th precinct, Durham County, without fear or favor, that I will not in any manner request or seek to persuade or induce any voter to vote for or against any particular candidate or proposition; and that I will not keep or make any memorandum of anything occurring within a voting booth, unless I am called upon to testify in a judicial proceeding for a violation of the election laws of this State.

[this isn't nearly as exciting as it looks; it just means I did poll worker training today. We get sworn in during training, I guess so they can get it out of the way rather than expecting each chief judge to administer the oath on election day.]

i am a dj, i am what i play

So, I got hired to DJ a wedding this fall. !!!

It sounds like a great gig. The client is a listener of my show, who wants me to play Divaville Lounge music ("from Tin Pan Alley to the swing era") at the event. The venue is a fun place, I got plenty of notice, and best of all I'll earn enough that I can afford all the equipment I'll need. Which is:

--a big hard drive so I can digitize all my music
--mixing software and a controller, which will let me cue up tracks and fade from one to the next on my computer
--a sound card with multiple outputs so I can play one track through the speakers, and preview another on headphones at the same time
--various cables

I already have good headphones and a laptop, and the venue will provide the amp and speakers. I bought the controller and sound card from a fellow WXDUer who also works as a club DJ. Here's a photo of him showing me how to use them:
Learning how to DJ!

It's a Numark Stealth Controller for those who are keeping track. I ordered the software (Traktor Duo) and while I wait for it to arrive I'm working on digitizing music. It's tedious, but fairly easy to move along while doing other things: just go over to the computer every few minutes and stick another CD in.

I also did some googling for tips on how to be a wedding DJ. I found much more on how to hire a wedding DJ, which is also useful just to see what clients typically expect of a DJ. But I did find one good page for DJs with a couple of invaluable tips:

1. A wedding is not your opportunity to show off your hip taste in music. Put away all your obscure cool tracks and get used to playing Top 40 for a few hours.

The part about Top 40 doesn't apply to me since I've been asked to play Divaville Lounge music, but otherwise I had pretty much guessed this. At a wedding people want to dance and be happy and hear songs they know and love. They don't want to be figuring out music they've never heard before. The night I was offered the job, I said to Georg "At WXDU our mission is to educate and entertain. At this event my mission will be to entertain."

2. Don't ever play a fast song and then a slightly less fast song. This will make people feel sluggish. Each song should be slightly faster than the one before, until you get to something really fast. Then switch to a slow song, and start gradually building up tempo again. That will make them feel energized.

I would never have thought of that on my own, but it makes perfect sense. By "stair-stepping" up the tempo you can build excitement, get people dancing faster with each song, then drop back to a slow song to give them a break. Then start all over again!

I had been thinking that the beat-matching functionality in Traktor would be wasted on me, since I obviously won't be syncing the tempo of jazz standards. But it will turn out to be useful since it shows the BPM of every track. I can use that to make sure the segues have good flow.


I used to have this thing called The Movie List. In which I watched a lot of old movies, and kept a list of them, and wrote a little thumbnail review of each one. Then last year I got a "real job" and didn't have time to even watch movies, much less write them up.

But lately I've been watching some movies again, and sometimes I even have something to say about them! So maybe it's time to bring back the movie list. Starting with today's movie: Conspirator. A post-war thriller starring Robert Taylor as a British military officer/Communist spy, and Elizabeth Taylor as his wife.

This movie falls into a subcategory of thriller which I call "The Dumbest Woman In The World." Because the protagonist of the movie is in fact The Dumbest Woman In The World. There would be no movie if she had even the tiniest bit of sense. But she does not, and the entire movie hinges on her stupidity. When our heroine realizes that her husband is a Soviet spy selling state secrets, does she flee and go to the police? No, that would be way too sensible. Does she stay to gather evidence? That would be courageous and clever, so she clearly can't do that. What does she do? She tells him over and over what she knows, allows him to destroy the evidence, threatens him with exposure, and taunts him in front of people who could arrest him if they understood her. All the while telling no one else what she knows, and doing nothing to protect herself. Why? Because she is The Dumbest Woman In The World.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.


not quite psychic enough

I'm researching a Sarah Vaughan tribute show that's a couple of weeks away. Which means, yay! A reason to buy music! Actually I already have a lot of Sarah Vaughan so I won't need to buy much. Probably just a few songs. But I did treat myself to an album I've wanted for a long time: a live album called Perdido! 1953, radio broadcasts by Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie. We used to have it at the radio station and I loved it, played it all the time, and then it got stolen. Well, I don't know for a fact that it was stolen. It just went missing, years ago. (XDU folks: I'm talking about the album with a green cover and a sexy photo of young Sarah Vaughan in a strapless dress on the cover.)

I saw it used on Amazon marketplace for very low cost, so I bought it this evening. Just after I placed the order Georg came in and I told him that I had started buying music for the show, and showed him the order page. He said it was a good thing I told him -- because he had come into the room to get his wallet so he could order that very CD as a surprise for me!

It was incredibly thoughtful -- and weirdly psychic. I've mentioned how much I loved and missed that CD, but not recently I don't think. Tonight all I said was that I was getting to work on the Sarah Vaughan show, nothing about that particular CD. On the contrary, I said I was going to buy Live at Mr' Kelly's. (Which I may still do, depending on how flush I'm feeling.) Just not quite psychic enough! He knew that was the CD I wanted, but didn't know I had already bought it.

Welcome to the 21st century

Divaville Lounge joined the 21st century today! For the first time I played music from my computer on the air. It turned out to be easy -- i just needed an $8 cable and a little help from the tech-savvy dj who's on before me.

This was a trial run so it was only a half hour of the show. Then I switched back to CDs like normal. I don't plan to do this every week, just when I have a pre-planned theme show. Up to now I've been burning the theme shows onto CD. Which is first of all, a hassle. And second, a waste of CDs. I'm really happy about being able to save the CDs and run the music right out of my computer.

A couple of technical issues: the levels are a bit low, and when the track was also low I had to push the sliders all the way up, which caused some distortion. Next time I'll check the levels and use Audacity to amplify anything that's too low. Audacity also causes some distortion if you amplify too much, but it doesnt seem as bad as doing it on the board.

The other technical concern was that every time the computer went to sleep, when I woke it up there was an audible pop. Next time I'll be sure to set the computer to never sleep. And remember to bring the power cable!

The next theme show will be March 27, a tribute to Sarah Vaughan on her birthday. Which reminds me, I need to search the library website and see if they have a biography of her.

The show was busy aside from the tech stuff: six requests, two from people I haven't heard from before! One was a guy who asked for Spike Jones and said it was for "the guys in the shed." I have no idea what that means. Maybe some older gentlemen who work in facilities? I thought it was cool regardless of what it means so I played two songs for them. The other new caller was someone who clearly hadn't heard the show before, really dug it, and wanted to talk a lot. How did I start doing the show, where do I get the music from, etc etc. I felt bad about cutting him off but there just wasn't time. I think people have no idea what community radio is like. There's no engineer pushing the buttons for me while I sit and wait for the next talk set. It's all me and it can get hectic!

Speaking of hectic, another dj rang the doorbell in the middle of a talk set, which is how i discovered that unlike the old doorbell, the new doorbell isn't wired to the board. Meaning, it just starts beeping really loud, even if your mic is on. And it's too far away from the mic to turn it off, so I just had to let it beep while I finished the talk set. I ran down, let the dj in, ran back upstairs and the ding-danged bell got stuck! It just kept beeping and beeping, and it was over 10 minutes before I had time to go back down and fix it. I'm trying to cue up music while that stupid bell goes BEEP BEEP BEEP. It was insane. I found out later that this happens a lot in wet weather. Speaking of community radio and the way things are.

a month of saturdays

You'd think abortion providers in North Carolina would be targeted all the time. But we must be especially lucky in the Triangle because the apparently the antis only come out for 40 Days for Life. Which is starting up again in a couple of weeks. This time they're targeting the clinic in Chapel Hill. 

Last time I was surprised by how calm and non-crazy the protesters were. No yelling -- well, except for one guy we called "The Angry Man." He was much more aggressive than the others. He kind of shoved me, though in retrospect I think it was an accident. Because when it happened I turned around and glared at him with my hands on my hips (hard for someone my size to appear menacing but I did my best) and he backed off. I think he was just trying to intimidate me by looming over me, and didn't realize how close he was. Later on he started yelling at one of the other escorts. We aren't supposed to respond to them so she just stood there while he went on a tirade that went on and on. She's tough and she didn't look scared, more like pissed off that she couldn't respond. I pulled out my phone and took his picture, and to my surprise when he saw me he stopped yelling. I was worried it might make him angrier, but felt like I had to do it because if anyone was going to cause trouble it was going to be him. And I didn't want to wait until after it happened to get his photo.

Anyway except for the Angry Man the antis were surprisingly calm last time. They mostly just stood across the street and prayed at us. Of course they tried to talk to the clients but didn't say hurtful things to them, just tried to give them leaflets. One of them even pleasantly waved goodbye to me when I left! I'm hoping this time around will be equally low-stress. Though the recent targeting of Planned Parenthood might bring the crazies out this time. 

So I'm volunteering to escort every weekend during 40 Days for Life. Except for one weekend when I already have a commitment. I realized yesterday that in March/April my Saturdays are going to be: abortion clinic, abortion clinic, abortion clinic, baby shower, abortion clinic. I better not get confused about where I am! That could get awkward.

baby names, clothing, cute stories and celebrity gossip

So, I'm cohosting a baby shower in a couple of months. I've only ever been to a couple of baby showers so I've been googling "how to host baby shower" guides for ideas. 

Some of them have excellent ideas, things I would never have thought of (like, ask one of the guests to stay till the end and help load gifts into the mother-to-be's car). What they all have in common is cheery suggestions in appalling taste. Like:

"Have a Baby-Que: A fun idea is to have families come to the baby shower as well as couples and have a cookout or what we call Baby-Que." I'm rather proud that the father-to-be and I had exactly the same reaction: first, "will we be serving real baby?" Then to make a list of all the juvenile animals that could be eaten at a Baby-Que. I got veal, lamb, suckling pig, and of course baby vegetables for the vegetarians. We could also make sugar cookies shaped like babies and bite their heads off. Many years ago I had an All Saint's Day party and made "martyr cookies" -- an angel cookie cutter, and red icing to represent the wounds of their martyrdom.

"Guess Mom's Tummy Size: (Materials- String or yarn and scissors) Have each woman pull the yarn to the size they believe would fit perfectly around the Mother-To-Be's center of her pregnant tummy. After everyone cuts their string, compare the results to the Mommy-To-Be's actual tummy. Give a prize to the woman who is the most close!"
The guest of honor at this party would never speak to me again if we did that. Because she is sane.

By far the worst are the suggestions for co-ed showers. Like: 

It is natural for men to gravitate to their friends and split off from the females. This should be seen as an appropriate behavior and should cause no stress. Use some baby shower games to bring the couples and genders back together for at least a little bit.
There are so many assumptions in there, it's hard to know where to begin.
--Men are not friends with women
--Men thrown together because of their wives/girlfriends will make instant friends with other random men 
--It's okay to invite men to an event you don't expect them to enjoy
--Men can't be expected to make nice at a party for two hours, but their wives/girlfriends will fulfill social obligations for both of them
--The men who hate your party and hate being around the wimmins will be happy to play "Guess Mom's Tummy Size" and "Baby Bingo." 

There will be a different dynamic at the baby shower with a co-ed group. Accept that it will not only be talk about the baby but also may lead to more roastings, practical jokes, politics, and sports. The women will be more focused on baby names, clothing, cute stories and celebrity gossip (yes this is a generalization).

*head desk*

hey baby, wanna kill all humans?

 So I've been working on a variety of knitting projects, most of which I can't write about yet because they're unfinished gifts. I have a hard time working on one project until it's done & then starting on another. It's easier for me to have several things going at once, and turn to whichever catches my fancy at the moment.

Here's a project I can write about because it was finished and gifted a while ago:
BenderA Bender toilet paper caddy! I'm really happy with how he turned out. Made with DK yarn from Knit Picks. Usually I make toys from worsted and use tiny needles. That makes a nice firm knit that holds the stuffing well. But since this pattern had to fit over the toilet paper roll, it seemed important to try and match the gauge.

The pattern was easy to follow, though they have you make all the pieces flat and sew them together. I understand why with the hands and feet -- they have a flat plastic piece inside, and it would be kind of tricky to fit that piece in and then knit up around it -- but the body and head? Makes no sense. If I make another one of these (and I hope I do!) I would knit as much as possible in the round. Less sewing and no seam up the back.

frank sinatra tribute today

frank-sinatra.jpgToday is Frank Sinatra's birthday, and to honor the occasion Georg and I are co-hosting a two hour tribute on today's Divaville Lounge, 2-4 pm est.

By any measure Sinatra was one of the most important singers of the 20th century. We'll play classics from every era of Sinatra's career, including his early years with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey big bands; the Concepts series at Capitol; the Rat Pack years; songs from his decades-long movie career; live performances; radio and television appearances; plus some rare finds like an unreleased theme song to "The Man with the Golden Arm," and a duet with Groucho Marx (really! and it's not horrible!).

The Voice, Ol' Blue Eyes, the Chairman of the Board -- whatever you call him, we'll be spinning two hours of Sinatra this afternoon. Hope you can check it out! 88.7 fm in Durham or webcast at