Rev. Frank Schaefer was, under Methodist church law, sentenced to a thirty day suspension on Tuesday as the result of Monday's hearing which determined he broke his vows by officiating his son's marriage to another man. If, during those thirty days, Rev. Schaefer violates any church laws or breaks another vow, he will lose his credentials. More importantly, the church is calling on Rev. Schaefer to surrender his credentials if he decides he can't uphold all of the church's Book of Discipline.
Before the punishment ruling, Schaefer, who was convicted for officiating at his son's 2007 wedding ceremony in Massachusetts, told the jury Tuesday that he is unrepentant and refused to promise he wouldn't perform more gay unions.
Rather than beg for mercy Tuesday in the trial that has rekindled debate within the nation's largest mainline Protestant denomination over church policies on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the pastor upped the stakes, telling jurors that he has been called by God to be an advocate for the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people.
The church "needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation,'' he said. "We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians.''
Schaefer donned a rainbow-colored stole on the witness stand and told jurors it symbolized his commitment to the cause.
"I will never be silent again,'' he said, as some of his supporters wept in the gallery. "This is what I have to do.''
> NBC Philadelphia's Coverage of the Story
I am miserable, and quitting smoking sucks. I wish I had never started, but now that I have, I must get through the withdrawal that comes with quitting. I physically feel like shit, my brain is rewiring itself as we speak, and it's putting me in this horrible mood that I can't control. How long will this last?
I need support.
I just don't know where to look or who to ask. :(
Last night, I was watching documentaries on Netflix with my boyfriend Corey. One of them was called "Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream," which features clips of Ayn Rand speaking about her vision of Laissez Faire Capitalism. This brought me into research mode, wanting to find out a little more about the Ayn Rand Institute. I have loved Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged" for years, but I never knew that ARI was a political powerhouse. On my quest, I came across an article George Saunders had written for the New Yorker called "I Was Ayn Rand's Lover."
I had known about Ayn Rand's affair with Nathaniel Branden from reading her many biographies, in particular "The Passion of Ayn Rand." It creeped me out quite a bit back then, but now to see that she prowled on more than one innocent young man left me with a sour taste. If you know Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism, you wouldn't be too surprised that Nathaniel Branden was a target on her radar. To hear Saunders recount his having essentially been "raped" by her was a little off-putting to say the least, but his developing jealousy over Ayn having set her eyes on a young Paul Ryan disturbed me. It wasn't his feelings of jealousy that disturbed me, rather her voracious appetite for bedding young men in late puberty is what was particularly disturbing.
So, we now know of three men in their late teens who were successfully pursued by Ayn Rand. There are probably plenty more, but my interest stops there. Seeing Paul Ryan run wild with Ayn's version of Laissez Faire Capitalism as it pertains to our present day economy was like being punched in the gut by Ayn Rand herself. All of her theories sound good as just that -- a theory, but when put into practice as Paul Ryan has done as a congressman, they are truly frightening. I don't know what plagues me more: the affairs with young boys, or being disillusioned by Paul Ryan's crazy plans for American prosperity.
To understand what I'm talking about, you'll have to do a little research. Most of it can be done by watching the "Park Avenue" documentary, reading "Atlas Shrugged," "The Passion of Ayn Rand" (also a film), and then reading George Saunder's New Yorker piece (which is very well-written, I might add). It amounts to a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, I'll bet, because that's what I'm feeling right now. It can all be summed up in one word: UGH!
Watch the entire "Park Avenue" documentary:
Barbara Branden (Nathaniel Branden's wife) on The Passion of Ayn Rand:
Angelo Merendino Documents His Wife's Fight with Cancer
My Wife's Fight With Breast Cancer
by Angelo Merendino
The first time I saw Jennifer I knew. I knew she was the one. I knew, just like my dad when he sang to his sisters in the winter of 1951 after meeting my mom for the first time, “I found her.”
A month later Jen got a job in Manhattan and left Cleveland. I would go to the city – to see my brother, but really wanting to see Jen. At every visit my heart would scream at my brain, “tell her!!” but I couldn’t work up the courage to tell Jen that I couldn’t live without her. My heart finally prevailed and, like a schoolboy, I told Jen “I have a crush on you.” To the relief of my pounding heart, Jen’s beautiful eyes lit up and she said “Me too!”
Six months later I packed up my belongings and flew to New York with an engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket. That night, at our favorite Italian restaurant, I got down on my knee and asked Jen to marry me. Less than a year later we were married in Central Park, surrounded by our family and friends. Later that night, we danced our first dance as husband and wife, serenaded by my dad and his accordion – ♫ “I’m in the mood for love…”♫
Five months later Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the exact moment…Jen’s voice and the numb feeling that enveloped me. That feeling has never left. I’ll also never forget how we looked into each other’s eyes and held each other’s hands. “We are together, we’ll be ok.”
With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, “You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.” We loved each other with every bit of our souls.
Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time.
Throughout our battle we were fortunate to have a strong support group but we still struggled to get people to understand our day-to-day life and the difficulties we faced. Jen was in chronic pain from the side effects of nearly 4 years of treatment and medications. At 39 Jen began to use a walker and was exhausted from being constantly aware of every bump and bruise. Hospital stays of 10-plus days were not uncommon. Frequent doctor visits led to battles with insurance companies. Fear, anxiety and worries were constant.
Sadly, most people do not want to hear these realities and at certain points we felt our support fading away. Other cancer survivors share this loss. People assume that treatment makes you better, that things become OK, that life goes back to “normal.” However, there is no normal in cancer-land. Cancer survivors have to define a new sense of normal, often daily. And how can others understand what we had to live with everyday?
My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness and loneliness that we faced, that Jennifer faced, as she battled this disease. Most important of all, they show our Love. These photographs do not define us, but they are us.
Cancer is in the news daily, and maybe, through these photographs, the next time a cancer patient is asked how he or she is doing, along with listening, the answer will be met with more knowledge, empathy, deeper understanding, sincere caring and heartfelt concern.
“Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino
Published on Mar 30, 2013
The thing Jen loved the most about my camera was when I would hold it at arm's length and make a photo of the two of us. This video is a collection of some of these photographs. Since Jen passed passed from breast cancer, in December of 2011, I have looked at these photographs a countless amount of times. I still struggle to believe that Jen is not here with me. A few years ago I was the drummer in a band called Jonka, a group started by husband and wife duo Jon and Annika. Of all the bands I played in this was Jen's favorite, she loved Jon's quirkiness and Annika's beautiful voice. Aside from the catchy 80's pop hooks and dance beats, Jonka's lyrics make me think. The song in this video, Ever After, could easily have been written for Jen and me and it has become my anthem over the last few months.
1 in 88 children have Autism, but Derek Roach is one in a million!
"More than 15,000 people participated in Philadelphia on November 2nd at Citizens Bank Park in what turned out to be a beautiful fall day. CBS 3 Evening News Anchors, Chris May and Jessica Dean, emceed a great event that featured longtime Autism advocate and Philadelphia City Councilman Dennis O’Brien, Nina Wall-Cote, the Director of the Bureau of Autism Services, Miss Pennsylvania, Jessica Billings, and of course the Phillie Phanatic. Families and friends from across the Philadelphia region enjoyed a day full of moon bounces, face painting, character photos, dancing and more at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies in South Philadelphia.
To date, the event raised more than $610,000 in support of Autism Speaks’ mission to fund research, increase awareness and family services and advocate for individuals with autism and their families."
After putting on our Team Derek t-shirts, and getting our faces painted with Autism awareness puzzle pieces, we set out on a walk around Citizens Bank Park with people on the sidelines cheering us on.
Wawa was on hand to energize the crowd with coffee and doughnuts, and several news anchors were there to say a few inspirational words. Derek, the little super hero in the picture to the right, was the biggest inspiration. He has such a wonderful personality, and is wise beyond his years. Liz and Terry, Derek's parents, were taken aback by the enormity of the crowd and the number of different team t-shirts. There were hundreds of different t-shirts designed to support each team, and the love and care put into them brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
The purpose of this walk wasn't to find a cure, but to raise funds for awareness and research for this fairly new diagnosis. There shouldn't be any kind of stigma attached to Autism, and the children who are diagnosed are proof of that: amazingly intelligent and unique individuals who are unaware that they're different from anyone else.
You may continue to donate to Autism Speaks on behalf of Derek on my official donation page: Donation Page of Nicholas Emeigh for Team Derek. I know that when he's old enough, Derek will appreciate it!
Photos of Team Derek at the 2013 Philadelphia Autism Speaks Walk
CBS Philly's Coverage of the Event
Autism Speaks to Washington
The "Greatest Love of All"
I was shocked to see Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta Mellark in the Hunger Games movies, on the cover of Out magazine's October issue. I remember very carefully concealing the cover of the magazine as I brought it to the cashier at Barnes and Noble before I came out. It was exhilarating and very scary at the same time. Now, in 2013, you have stars appearing on the cover who aren't really gay, but wouldn't rule out the possibility of having love for another man. As is the case of Josh Hutcherson who, in an interview, says he wouldn't kick a handsome man out of bed.
“I would probably list myself as mostly straight," Hutcherson, who Jennifer Lawrence has joked is "in love" with their "Hunger Games" co-star, Sam Claflin, said. “Maybe I could say right now I’m 100% straight. But who knows? In a f**king year, I could meet a guy and be like, Whoa, I’m attracted to this person.”
Josh, who had two gay uncles who passed away from AIDS, seems to be a firm ally of the gay community. He said his mother is an advocate for the LGBT community and he has decided to use his celebrity to do the same, which earned him GLAAD's esteemed Vanguard Award in 2012. I'm really impressed with this 20-year-old actor, who is more open minded than some gay people I know. I'm proud to have Josh on our team. You go, Josh Hutcherson!
I love the Poo~Pourri commercial! I did some research, found that Bethany Woodruff is the actress in the hilarious video, and discovered the blooper reel and interview below. She has made my day yet again. There's nothing like bathroom humor to brighten your day! Enjoy, and happy Monday!
< Queenie Liao, a mother, photographer, and artist, decided to make the most of her son Wengenn's naptime by creating these fantastic dreamscapes around him as he slept. They are beautiful, intricate, and imaginative. She then photographed them, and the collected images were formed into a book called Sleepy Baby. Visit the gallery on Bored Panda for a few more images, and like her gallery, "Wengenn in Wonderland," on Facebook.
Another creative parent, Anna Eftimie, drew chalk scenes and landscapes around her baby as he slept. She called the collected photographs "Blackboard Adventures." She also maintains a website called Cute Moments Photography.
While we're on the subject of kids, mother Lee Samantha plays with her kid's food, forming scenes out of rice, fish, meat, vegetables, and sauces. It's something you have to see to believe. Like the mothers mentioned above, her food art went viral and she has a blog where she posts her daily meal time creations. The memories that these moms are creating show how much they adore their children.
> I was engrossed by BuzzFeed's article "22 Things That Belong in Every Bookworm's Dream Home," and ended up spending over an hour just staring at the photos with envy. My very favorite photo is of the book reading nook to the right, which includes a chair and ottoman, ceiling fan, shelving and storage, a day bed with comforter and pillows, and a beautiful window to gaze through between chapters. I would never leave the house if I had a nook like this. Other items I enjoyed included a staircase made of books, some very clever shelving, a headboard made of open books, and clever seating designed specifically for reading books comfortably.
This past Tuesday, the New York Times featured a New York City photographer named Flo Fox, who has been photographing her urban surroundings for decades. What makes her particularly unique is that Flo is blind in one eye, and slowly but surely losing the sight in her other eye. She is confined to a wheelchair because her Multiple Sclerosis is progressing rapidly, but she doesn't let that stop her! Watch the video and be inspired.
< I was in awe of some of the photographs featured in TwistedSifter's article "18 Striking Images from Space Show Earth's Rich Tapestry." The image to the left shows several perfect circles which are Libya's Al Jawf Oasis. I find it incredible that these perfect dark circles are springs of water, naturally occurring in the middle of a vast desert. Other impressive photos show the Mississippi delta, algae and plankton flourishing in the earth's oceans that put on a beautiful show which is visible from space, and the agricultural structure of Kansas in shades of red which is particularly striking. I don't think I'll get a chance to view the earth this way first hand, so this is the next best thing.
> Everyone knows I adore animals; therefore, I love animated pet GIFs. BuzzFeed compiled the "30 Best Cat GIF Pictures in the History of Cat GIFs," and I was in pet heaven for about 30 minutes. These loveable little cats are caught in the most hilarious situations just being awesome. Some may not consider this art, and even though I am more of a dog person, I definitely do!
Upworthy, an inspirational blog, posted this really odd project coordinated by photographer Richard Rinaldi. He is working on a series of portraits where he poses two or more random people--strangers--together in loving poses. These folks are posed hugging and touching in ways that look like they are lovers, family, or very close friends, but these strangers have never met until now. Subjects say that when posed together, lovingly touching, they begin to feel a closeness that they would only experience with actual friends and loved ones. In a world where we are connected mainly through digital means, this project brings a sense of unity to a society used to minding their own business and keeping a safe distance.
Everyone loves their grandmother's cooking, and we all have a treasured memory of our grandmother in the kitchen preparing her signature dish. Gabriele Galimberti traveled the globe to photograph grandmothers from all cultures and walks of life with their signature dish. It brings back all the warm and fuzzy feelings of standing next to your grandmother in the kitchen, probably in her way, watching her expertly prepare a dish she had been making for decades. I'm warning you, though: don't look at this photo collection if you're hungry. Results may be disastrous!
Bronzer or Blackface? Julianne Hough Dresses as Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black for Halloween. (Pics & Video)
Would I have done it? No, but I don't think dressing up as Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black for Halloween is racist. Apparently there are people out there who think it is, though, because there is a storm of controversy surrounding Julianne Hough's choice of costume this Halloween.
She's pictured left dressed as Crazy Eyes, wearing an orange jumpsuit, prison I.D., a knotted hairdo, and what looks to be an excessive amount of bronzer. Some are considering this to be "blackface" makeup, which it technically is, but I don't think Julianne meant it to be offensive. I think it is her tribute to her favorite character from Orange is the New Black.
Crazy Eyes is one of my favorite characters (OITNB is one of my favorite shows), and if you're going to dress like her for Halloween and you're Caucasian, you'd need to darken your skin somehow for anyone to know who you were portraying. It's a matter of accuracy. If you didn't and went to a Halloween party as a white girl portraying Crazy Eyes, everyone would notice the missing element: dark skin.
What does everyone think? My friend Tom says that Julianne's bronzed face is no different than painting your face green to portray the Wicked Witch character from the Wizard of Oz. If an African-American person whitened their face with makeup or powder to portray a Caucasian character, I would not be offended. I don't see this as a racial issue, but I am willing to admit fault if I am wrong. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Alonzo Clemons was born with many gifts, but society only saw his shortcomings. Mr. Clemons was institutionalized and deemed "bad" or "evil" by people who didn't even know him. This video shows a gifted artist who admits he has to work much harder than most to live a simple life.
This video shows us that we must not herd all challenged individuals into an institution, thinking it's what's best for them. Alonzo is proof that anyone can live the American Dream if they are willing to work for it, and not everyone who needs help is "bad," "damaged," or "evil."
> See the artistic talent of Alonzo Clemons on his website. <
This week's Sunday Art Blog has a theory: less is more. You'll find some really fun and creative things happening in the links below. I'd like to call your attention to the Aldie Counseling Center Art and Poetry Show, which is a page I just made with photos and links to poems that appeared in the art show on Wednesday, October 9, 2013. It is the first art show I was ever in that was geared toward the overcoming of addiction and mental illness. It was truly an honor to be a part of. Another amazing site is Sheen's Portfolio on Behance. You will thank me for linking to it after you've seen it. The skill is astonishing. It's pure perfection, and you will love it! Enjoy this week's Sunday Art Blog, everyone! See you next week!
As you may or may not know, I was quoted as saying that Allison Dufty was the voice of Siri, but I was mistaken, and was told so by Allison Dufty herself. Very nicely, I might add. She sounds remarkably like Susan Bennett (susanbennett.com), who just came forward as the voice of Siri. She says it took awhile to get used to hearing her own voice as Siri, but she eventually became friends with the phone voice with a programmed personality. All this according to the video from the October 8th CNN article about her. Here's a video of Susan Bennett, the real voice of Siri:
Award-Winning Journalist and Commentator Bill Moyers gets right to the heart of what the shutdown and debt ceiling threats are all about. He's right on, and it's very scary. Will the republicans really let us default? Is this the end of democracy? Should we all leave the country and emigrate to Canada? I'm seriously thinking about it, and thank God I'm a Democrat. Here's what Bill Moyers says in the "about" section of the video on YouTube, video to follow:
"This week's government shutdown has consequences for all of us, costing an estimated $300 million each day that the government is closed for business. Many Americans have voiced their frustrations with the fallout from the shutdown on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hash tag #DearCongress. Here, Bill Moyers shares his own frustrations, admonishing the Republican Party for holding the country hostage via an irrational "ransom list" of demands — while sabotaging democracy in the process. "When the President refused to buckle to this extortion, they threw their tantrum," Bill says. "Like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the union before giving up their slaves, so would these people burn down the place, sink the ship." He goes on to tell us where the "reckless ambition" of the Republicans could lead us."
A mom was walking by the bathroom and happened to hear her 3-year-old son scolding himself for eating too much, listing everything he ate while having a bit of difficulty pooping. It is so cute and funny that I had to post it! Here it is:
A poll released by Public Policy Polling reveals a hilarious list of all the unpleasant things that people like more than the current Congress. People were directly asked: “What do you have a higher opinion of: Congress or cockroaches?” And so it went, for 25 questions.
A total of 830 people were surveyed, and said they liked a number of detested creatures and institutions more than the U.S. Congress. In the end, the Washington Times writes, “Congress is less popular than carnies, root canals and colonoscopies, but more popular than the ebola virus, meth labs and gonorrhea.”
According to Public Policy Polling, here is a list of things people now like more than Congress:
I, personally, like a lot of detestable things more than congress, but, being a gentleman, I won't say what they are. ;) Pass this along to your friends, family, and coworkers. It's all fun and games when polling like this takes place, but there is a definite impending doom if the government can't agree on a budget. Please search the net for local petitions, write to your state reps, mayors, and local officials and tell them that you want this to end. Let your voice be heard!
My latest upload to SoundCloud, "Who Can Say?" a poem by Nicholas Emeigh:
My full playlist on SoundCloud "The Poetry of Nicholas Emeigh":
From the collage image above, clockwise from top left:
Listen, I understand the importance of the government shutdown and the roll-out of Obama Care, but that feeling of urgency is secondary to the most important things in my life. I have been blessed with the most amazing friends, family, therapist, and doctors a person could ever have. While I know it is imperative that we settle this impasse in government funding of the Affordable Care Act, I have a treatment team which includes my amazing therapist Nancy, who I can depend on to take good care of me despite the government being shuttered and all the problems surrounding enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.
My therapist would never let me go without care, neither would my doctors, friends, or family. I don't depend on the government to take care of me. I depend on my support system. I just feel so sorry for those Americans who have no one to depend on to take care of them should their health insurance or assistance be interrupted because of the government hullabaloo. I feel even sorrier for those people who have no one to advocate for them, ensuring they receive continued treatment--the best treatment for them--come hell or high water. It is so unfortunate that those people happen to be the most vulnerable: the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill, the addicts, and the minorities.
Many would argue that they work long and hard to receive the health care that they have, but they are the ones who have it and never use it except for the routine check-up. My best advice for those in need of care, in any capacity, is to seek out community assistance and treatment. Most counties, and definitely those in Pennsylvania, have set aside funds to help members of their community in need of treatment and medical assistance. Community or county assistance is among the best resources in the country because they are invested in making sure that members of their immediate communities are well taken care of. Local constituents may also be of help, because they, just like the county, want to ensure that their communities aren't plagued by vagrants and crime. Safe, clean communities ensure these constituents will be re-elected time and time again.
Please, please e-mail me if you need help. I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and would be more than happy to help anyone local to me. Even if you aren't local, I'll help you as much as I can by doing research, making calls, or whatever else you may need. I want to help you just like I was helped when I was in need. I lay awake at night thinking of all the people in the world who die on the streets or alone in their homes because they have no one to care about them. I am here to tell you that I care. If you have a loved one that you'd like to help, but don't know where to begin, let me know. You have my word that I will do anything and everything I can to help. No matter who you are.
I was talking with my friend Michelle the other night about the long abandoned theme park in Beech Mountain, NC called "The Land of Oz." I learned that "Wizard of Oz" enthusiasts open the park once a year for tours of such sights as Dorothy's house, the witch's castle, a real yellow brick road, and tiny munchkin houses.
I can't wait to go this year when it opens next month. I love abandoned things from bygone eras, and this seems like a gem. You can find tons of information on the park just by Google searching it, but here are some links to more information about the Land of Oz theme park to get you started.
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My name is Nicholas Emeigh, but everyone calls me Nick, and I prefer it. I'm usually called Nicholas when I'm in trouble. I'm from the Philadelphia area, work in business, and fancy myself as a freelance graphic designer, writer, and artist. I have a passion for art in all its forms including music, but I restrict my singing to the shower and the car for the good of society. If you'd like to know more, just send me an e-mail. I really appreciate you stopping by.