Comedy for a Paws Cause

Ceasar is available for adoption- for the Grateful Web

The recession has begun to affect all areas of society – even those without voices to speak up for themselves. In an effort to raise money for the Maxfund Animal Shelter – a true no-kill shelter – the Bovine Metropolis Theater is hosting an improv show on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 7 p.m. for the shelter.


As the economy continues to worsen it becomes more important for organizations like the Maxfund and the Bovine to work together. The improv show for the Maxfund allows people to leave their economic woes at the door and enjoy an evening of laughter and enjoyment for a good cause. Leave your black tie at home, priced at only $20, this event is one for all ages and economic brackets.


To purchase tickets, please call (303) 758-4722 or visit here.  For additional information, please visit the Max Fund website.

About The Maxfund Animal Shelter

The Maxfund Animal Shelter is Denver's only true no-kill shelter. It is a 501(c)(3) and has received Charity Navigator's four-star rating for strong fiscal management.

Girls & Tattoos

In the last four to five years, the majority of American women who get a tattoo have been putting it in the same place: the small of their backs.

This type of tattoo is often referred to as a "bumper sticker," a "chick spot," a "girl spot," a "California license plate," or a "tramp stamp."  The most popular designs for these tattoos are: butterflies, flowers, tribal designs and Chinese characters called kanji.


- for the Grateful Web

I can only distinguish the months by the he that he has become.  Now, he is an actor who plays a bartender at night and has replaced the mid-town businessman who reminded me of my father.


     It is 4am I am sound asleep dreaming of personalities that take form in other bodies.  In front of me there is a young girl that looks like a child I taught how to ski in Colorado, but she is not her- she is my mother and I am telling her how much I fear losing my hair but she can't hear me over the television show my brother (who looks nothing like himself) is watching – she keeps asking me to repeat myself and I keep forgetting what I've said and say something different though I know its not what I've said before nor what I want to convey.


At the same time he is in a poorly light bar with blue plastic chairs that swivel and large wooden statues hanging on the wall as if on a pirate ship or the insides of a miniature golf course at the New Jersey shore.  He is touching girls' arms, asking them to repeat their drink order – everything is getting darker and darker.


     In the middle of a dream, my roommate gets up to go to the bathroom.  I know this because my mind has switched and I am now in the basement of a ship.  It is old and sterile, everything is metal and I'm having trouble locating the stairs that will bring me up to the top deck.  I find a man who is sitting in a corner looking at his hands.  I tell him about all the times I've tried to deny I had a body but he isn't following and I begin to feel the ship is sinking.


     In the morning around 8am, all of this reverses.  He is now at home in the basement of a two family house, one that shuts out the sun and smells of urine.  He is rolling, falling under the blankets to avoid the light that I am walking through on the way to the subway.  For days it goes on like this – both of us in and out of different conciseness's, different frequencies – two days existing as polar opposites, forming a negative when placed against each other; his white body against my dark sky; my dark hands falling though his white buildings.


     I enter the subway tunnel, no more together then I was above ground.  The train comes and I try to figure out how to contort my body to fit into this vassal.  I imagine unscrewing my limbs, holding them as carry on luggage and venture though the closing doors just before my hair gets caught. 

     When I emerge on the other side of the tunnel, he flips over – realizes the opening in the blacked out window that sends a streak of light across his eyes.  He swings an arm to fix the cut in the curtain and I disappear.

The Pope

- for the Grateful Web


I am the chosen one


the Pope,


the medium for God.


The ultimate activist for the teachings of Jesus


yet, I proclaim the vanity of the devil.


My robes threaded in brocaded gold


intricate patterns of wealth to sell renunciation.


My flock follows


sheared of their fleece by donation of a tithe,


abandonment of all that is superfluous


to gain perfection,


the ticket to the gates of heaven,


a once in a lifetime event,


seats are limited.


My clergy authenticate their tax statements at the door.


Their ability to free themselves from the vanity


of worldly goods become the payment


for the folds of silk and jeweled slippers.


The elaborate robes become my straightjacket ensnaring me


in the powers of vain glory and riches.




- for the Grateful Web

I am invisible one minute and then I am not.  Walking down 8th avenue by the translations of him and his universe and me and what could be connected but isn't over the trains underneath, under ground, under streets.  The M34 bus travels west to east; he is standing facing north, looks over the avenue, past me, past buildings and communication lines.  Back at the office, I could chose to reengage, read his mind as I see it, "get in touch" but touching is limbless and I can only imagine what all this could have to do with me or the clock on the corner of my computer screen that lags in the morning and doesn't catch up to universal time until well into the second half of the day.

He is inconceivable.  Gives only sentence as clues, wears the weather, coated with all the others on the street below from where I work, from where he works, where the M34 bus passes every ten minutes, where the subway reemerges from a tunnel and a train leaves Penn Station every hour on the hour and the half hour.

Mail comes in; I feel him looking. I read it, imagine his handwriting, what it would look like if this were written instead of typed. His drawn lines on the screen that once existed in real time below the offices above and the avenue below and the bus that crosses from west to east and back again.


The trains are under ground still, just as they were this morning when I passed over them.  Now I am going home, arrive in Brooklyn to disengage.  I take a shower and all of the other men in my building watch through the uncovered window.  I watch too, recall all the other bodies I have ever had, the lines that have changed.  If sown together I could cover the floor boards, walk the path of patch together skin.


Another disconnect and he emerges as words – a distorted voice on the other end of the telephone while he sits on the express train heading home – all the noise and confusion that forms a conversation – a call that can't go through tunnels and loud passengers.  His reaching goes only as far the reflections of passing telephone lines – gets redirected by shorts in the network and fallen down power lines. "Hello, can you hear me" he'll say and I'll answer "hello, yes I can hear you." And him again "can you…" space.


8am. The subways are moving still, now weighted down by commuters, my bodies pressed hard up against the closing doors.  Back at the office a transactions has been made and he appears in computers memory, a glitch in the space.  He talks about his time, but at that time I am still caught in the body march, still in a tunnel underground walking from the L train to the uptown local train under sixth avenue.  I'm not sure what now he speaks of or how slow the conversion is, where the M34 is in relation to Penn Station.


When I respond it is in a voice that only partially sounds like me, one that appears in perfectly straight lines I could never recreate.  I tell him about the eyes in my shower; all my bodies I have walked around in.  The message is sent and everything disappears, possibly never existed or is still on its way down the street.  Perhaps it was intercepted, smacked up against the M34 – riding across town along with all the other traffic.  Or maybe the clock on my computer has lagged so far behind that the trains are no longer arriving in the station and the subways tracks are empty - people still pile onto the platforms stacked up against each other, breast bones against spines, hair in mouths and heads leaning over the gaping hole of an empty tunnel waiting for the surfacing of shaking lights.


I am only a mock up in these passings, a digital reproduction.  The clock moves again in the corner of the screen and I appear with his reappearance, a fractured me digested and handed back.  He responds as protocol, a chunky voice that gaps and stutters over long sentences and words.  My hands still falling through the keyboard.


- for the Grateful Web


I lie next to my secret husband one minute and the next he is the shower running, the lights light then dim under the bathroom door.  I roll over to the time bomb, the telephone, my mother asking if I'm okay, and how are you dealing with your disappointment?  She asks if I've heard from my brother, the desert's phantom son.  I tell her he never did throw his golf clubs after a bad shot or bite the Nintendo controller out of frustration.  She tells me I'm tired.  I tell her I'm sick of seeing the marine layer burn off in the morning only to return in the afternoon.  I tell her this ground is only paper-mâché and glue and homophobia.  She tells me she feels safe now and I love her so I hang up.


Emily Crocker

The Connecticut Theory

- for the Grateful Web


By Emily Crocker


Cut into: a girl walking in a dark city, alleyways lead her to, lanes shifting and digging back into, through and around small buildings of Dublin, crammed on twisted streets.  She arrives at an old movie theater the afternoon before she returns to America.






Her father grew up in Connecticut under 200 mile-an-hour winds.  It would rain and freeze under his feet.  He still holds the ice, implants it into their lineage. In thirty years she will watch a movie where a tall thin actor plays him, does him perfectly, better then he ever could.








To dissect the code in her consciousness it will take repeated beatings of films, curtains separating, coke commercials into trailers into, lights. The picture splits, tape flips over and over in her head.  A story cast across the back of her scull decayed and full of holes.








During the winter of 1973 Connecticut's railway stations were shut down along with the highways and bridges.  It rained all day and when the sun set, everything froze.  Parking lots mirrored images, passengers sat stuck in train cars commuting back from New York, trucks in ditches off the sides of the road.








She left the movie theater, took two air planes back home.  Over the counter drugs calm nerves.  She quits drinking three times before it sticks, studies the lines that cross in her head, wave back and forth and spark behind her eyes.  Thinks about uncovering Connecticut.  The provocation of the ice storm makes thoughts separate into line breaks.  Narrator dies on the page, in-between the space.  A story she'll write for seven years until the curtain reopens: screen fades out. 



Calvin breaths the haze

thinks about its engulfment.

What mask to wear

if all of the sudden the air waves clog.

Where will we all run for cover?


Four more days of sun

my arms begin to blister

a dark red rash.

Drench my skin with honey and salt

more like a salve then a train wreck.


To think about

touching in a heat wave

and skin falling off -

a dress unzipped, dropping

wrapped around my ankles.


Calvin and I sleep,

wait for the peace of an air planes breeze.

He's moving towards me

says he can't help being so close,

though his breath burns my skin.


I've misplaced the path,

lost my place in this apartment,

stumble on carpet.

I look for Calvin in the dark

guided by the map of his weather.


More months of swelter

and buildings melting into sand piles.

before the rain comes.

Calvin is a name I am speaking

when found, passed out on the kitchen floor.


Emily Crocker

I Believe

- for the Grateful Web

My earliest memory of feeling connected to spirit (or God, as I call that wonderful force in my life), happened far away from any man-made church.  It happened when the noise of the world was (literally) drowned out by the noise of my motorcycle, and my feeling of peace and stillness was exaggerated by the confines of the helmet on my head.  I felt alone, as if I was the captain of my destiny, setting my course and making my own decisions.  And strangely, at the same time, realizing I was not alone.  That there would be something, some force, some life-giving force that would travel the road with me.  Offering me unconditional love, counsel and encouragement; helping me to understand the paradox of my insignificance and significance, my sameness and my uniqueness.  I began to sing and pray and simply commune with God and have not stopped in my twenty-five years, though I would be challenged with guilt, shame and fear for seeking out my own answer to the question you are asking me now, "What do you believe and why do you believe it?"

Growing up in a conservative Christian environment has been both a blessing and a burden.  I never felt compelled to question the beliefs laid down by that community's interpretation of the Bible, in part because the main tenet that It was based upon, God and His love for the world, has never been something I've questioned because of my epiphany whilst riding my bike in the woods.  But the larger feeling that kept me from questioning the doctrines of the church and whether they were what I really believed was that I had been instilled with the impression that it was basically ludicrous not to believe the way we did. Thus, growing up I was heavily burdened (in addition to my inherent know-it-all-ness) with self-righteousness, harshly and overtly judging others and deeming them not worthy of Heaven (which I equated with the ultimate reward), simply because they did not share my religious views.  I believed in God and His love for the world, and yet felt that love was given more readily and freely to us, His chosen people.  When I prayed and sang at church or in school, my heart would bubble and just about burst with faith in my beliefs.  I was so sure that my beliefs were the RIGHT beliefs (as if there is one right way to believe) that I was smug and insensitive.  Sadly, I was the one suffering.

Thank God I have seen the light. The light that makes me feel happy, challenged, inspired and connected. The light and love of God that allows me to happily acknowledge my imperfectness and accept the grace that is mine, and that my heart has known ever since that moment years ago on a backcountry trail.

I do not concern myself with thinking about things such as the reality of Heaven or Hell, what happens when animals or people die or even bother trying to define my beliefs in any standard terms (i.e. Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim etc...).  I feel that I would be wasting my time, since I've already dealt with the guilt and fear that accompanied the practically sacrilegious thoughts that it doesn't really matter if I believe in Heaven or Hell, lay claim to Jesus or Buddha.  I am trying (and doing) to live fully in the moment, with integrity and in accordance with my moral fiber, which is to say, in truth and love.  On my personal journey I've come to the conclusion that what is most important is to be continually open to whatever lessons life has to offer, to respond thoughtfully and compassionately, and to have an open heart.  Everything else seems superfluous.  Because much of what I did or did not do in my younger years was either for the reward of Heaven or to avoid the consequence of Hell, my actions were for appearances' sake and little else. I feel that I'm now living and striving to live a more actualized, genuine, spiritual life. I treat others well because that is what feels right in my heart. So I guess I've come (in a roundabout way to be sure) to what I believe:

I believe in keeping an open heart and mind, letting things marinate and resonate within my heart (my most trusted friend), letting that be my guide, trusting it will take me where I need to go.

To borrow from the Indigo Girls, "the less I seek my Source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine."

This may seem simple and naive to some, but truth (your truth, my truth and the truth), is never complicated.  And to trust in and have faith in something is one of the greatest blessings in the world.  Children know how to believe; we adults have just forgotten that we know.

Grateful Web Book Club & Review 'The Rice Mother'

''The Rice Mother'' - for the Grateful Web

Original title:              The Rice Mother

Translated in Dutch:         De Rijstmoeder

Author:                      Rani Manicka


Rani Manicka was born and grew up in Malaysia. She studied economics in Germany, where she met an Italian man with whom she moved to England. Nowadays, she divides her time between Malaysia and the UK.


The Rice Mother is Manicka's debut novel and is infused with her own South Asian family history. This book is her way to reawake her grandmother, and to bring her back to a time when she was still proud and strong. The book won a Commonwealth Writers Prize for 2003.


Short summary:


The book contains the history of four generations of a Malaysian family. The story begins with Lakshmi, the rice mother, who has been married off to a man twice her age. Her mother was told this man was rich, but Lakshmi realizes very soon that he can hardly make ends meet. In a short period the couple gets six children, three sons and three daughters. Lakshmi wants her children to have a better life than she had, but she does not succeed in realizing this dream.


A milestone in the family is the capture and killing of their beautiful daughter Mohini by the Japanese during World War Two. Only when Dimple is born, a grandchild of Lakshmi and a mirror image of Mohini, Lakshmi and her husband Ayah's world changes. Dimple is very interested in the family history and records the stories of different family members. After Dimples tragic end, Nisha, her daughter, gets knowledge of this tapes by which she gets to know her ancestors…


Comments on the book:

-         The book is written from different points of view, in that all different characters take the floor by turns. One might find this confusing, but with the clear headings and the family tree in the beginning of the book, it is easy to follow the story.

-         The book is written in a flowing style, and it is easy to visualize the situations described. In this matter, one should be warned for the cruel passages on the Japanese occupation during World War Two.

-         As others have said "Manicka's voice is strongest in presenting the sadness and loneliness of characters, and in the beauty and culture of South Asia".

-         Rani Manicka already finished a second book: "Touching Earth". I am looking forward to read this book as well.


Kelly Bobelijn, European Editor

The Grateful Web