Thursday, January 28, 2010

Passenger rail finally coming to Madison

Yes, yes, and a thousand times yes! Mayor Dave broke the news late last night via his blog:
High speed rail is coming to Madison. President Barack Obama's White House made the announcement Wednesday night. The Madison to Milwaukee route is the fourth largest of the many projects announced as part of the $8 billion investment in rail.
I could not be more ecstatic. On the selfish side, this means far easier access to Milwaukee, which I just don't visit often enough, without the headache of maneuvering their insane interchange system. I can sit back, relax, read a book or just watch the scenery fly by on my way to museums, festivals, concerts, meetings and more. Of course, it will be another few years before the system is actually up and running, but I don't plan on going anywhere.

On the less selfish side, I know people who currently commute for work from here to Milwaukee (or vice versa, or from some town in between, etc.) and I can't imagine what an incredible boon this will be for them. Plus there are the jobs this project will help to create, and whatever economic benefits form down the line as a result of the increased connection between cities.

I'll have more about this development, plus some thoughts on the recent State Supreme Court decision allowing judges to stay on cases that involve their major campaign donors--and more more more!--in the next Emily's Post blog on Monday over at The Daily Page.

(photo by thomas.merton on Flickr)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Chapel: The Series" starts now

One of the (many, many) projects I've been working on as of late is the creation of a monthly web series. Based on three short films I've helped make for three separate Wis-Kino Kabarets over the course of the past few years, as well as that there book I wrote, "Chapel: The Series" is probably one of the most ambitious undertakings I've ever had the good fortune to take part in.

Our goal is to make one of these every month until we hit episode Z, probably with one break in there to divide things into two "seasons" (and to give us a breather at some point).

I'm excited about this not just because I get to play the title character--that's a new thing for me--but because the other people involved are all lovely and talented and a great pleasure to work with. We'll also be traveling a bit for future episodes, including a couple that will take place in New York and New Jersey and involve some similarly lovely and talented people who live out there.

Anyway, let's get to it, shall we?

Quick synopsis of the series: "Chapel is a drug dealer. Not a very good one. Mostly she'd just like to make it through the day without having to borrow someone's gun... Based on the short Wis-Kino films by Rob Matsushita and the book by Emily Mills, "Chapel: The Series" is a new, monthly web series that includes a cast and crew of Madison's finest that will make you laugh, cringe, fist-pump, cheer, and maybe even shed a single tear."

Episode 1: "Audited" (NSFW for brief language, some violence)

Get caught up -
Episode 3: "Complicated" (NSFW for brief language, heavy violence)
Episode 4: "Distracted" (NSFW for brief language, some violence)
Episode 5: "Extremed" (NSFW for language, heavy violence)

Friday, January 22, 2010

On 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I trust women

NARAL Pro-Choice America is sponsoring a "Blog For Choice" day on this, the 37th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The case affirmed a woman's right to choose to have a legal, safe abortion if she saw fit.

Our nation was fighting over the issue long before that day in 1973 and the argument certainly hasn't died down since. In fact, the debate has probably only grown more heated and, in some tragic cases, deadly.

But today, NARAL is simply asking you and me to answer one question: What does Trust Women mean to you?

And this is my answer: To trust women means to leave up to them all decisions pertaining to their own bodies and minds. Whether that decision is to terminate a pregnancy or to see it through, we as a society must trust each other to do what is right for ourselves.

We must also work to provide the kind of education and support necessary for informed decision making and healthy living.

That means comprehensive sex education (can we please hire Dan Savage to help write the curriculum?) from an appropriately early age. That means good, affordable access to contraception and general medical care. That means well-funded child care programs both in and out of the work environment, as well as better maternity and paternity leave policies.

Because you can't have real, lasting, meaningful choice without a healthy, supportive environment in which to make it.

The first element in this process, then, is trust. And you don't build trust by screaming in each other's faces, passing swift judgment, assuming that you know what's better for someone than they do, or painting your opponent as evil.

Once we get that through our heads and really learn to trust one another, everything else will follow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The children are our future

On this, an otherwise pretty awful and grim day, I would first encourage you to lend your support to one of the aid organizations working to do some good after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Then, because we all need a little good news to balance the bad, check out the following clip:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Gaywatch - Peter Vadala & William Phillips
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

(the really good part starts around the 3 minute mark)

Young Will was just recently voted "Hero of the Year" by the readers of and the resulting email interview is pretty cute, too.

In the midst of the ongoing struggle for full GLBT rights and equality, with all of the various setbacks and triumphs, it can be easy to get bogged down, worn out, and cynical. So it's especially refreshing and encouraging to see things like this. Because the truth is, with each successive generation, homophobia and discrimination are more and more seen for the awful dinosaurs of thought that they are. Progress may not always be as swift as we'd like, but it's happening, and there's no stopping us now.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Quit your day job

I've been planning for this day, officially, for the last 6 months. Unofficially it's a move I've always wanted to make, but the stars have only recently aligned themselves so that the decision could be slightly less stupid than normal.

I've quit my day job.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I've gone against the oldest advice cliche in the book and given up a perfectly good, stable desk job at an incredibly decent company in favor of the rather terrifying unknowns of life as a freelance writer and musician.

In the middle of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

I think this may nullify any future rights to give advice to anyone about anything, ever.

But regardless of whether time shows this to be the best or worst decision of my life, there was really no getting around it. I simply don't have the temperament or aptitude for a 9-5 desk job. I was going a little mad. Plus, I can think of no better time in life than now to leap into such uncertainty, since I don't have kids and don't own a home.

The enormity of the move is not lost on me, mind you. Not a day has gone by in the last several months that I haven't wrestled with the decision, wavering between excited determination and abject horror--sometimes all in the span of mere minutes. What about paying the rent? What about food? What about health care, for cryin' out loud?

Actually, I've managed to plan things out in advance enough that the only serious question lingering now is the last one: Health care. I am about to re-join the ranks of the uninsured. Look ma, I'm a statistic! And sure, there may be some real progress made on that front in terms of the national health reform bill now being debated in Washington DC (by a bunch of jerks who don't have to worry about health insurance themselves). And yes, thankfully Wisconsin does offer a family planning waiver that covers my lady business for free.

But my prescriptions? And dental care? Any unforeseen accidents or illnesses? Fuggitaboutit. My country just doesn't do health rights. It prefers paid privileges. So I'll likely be lacking--for a while anyway--crossing my fingers that nothing pops up in the meantime to bankrupt me. We'll see.

On to the more exciting stuff:

I now get to focus almost exclusively on my writing and music. That's seriously awesome. And as part of it all, I'm going to focus this here blog a lot more clearly, chronicling the trials and tribulations of what it means to be a freelancer while also attempting to provide useful tips and tricks to those thinking of doing the same. So you can follow along out of curiosity, schadenfreude, or whatever tickles your pickle, really. I can pretty much promise that it's going to be an interesting ride.

Wish me luck!
The Lost Albatross