Rants & Raves

Monday, October 13, 2014

If you love rape, slaughter and slavery: Happy Columbus Day.

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 11:10 AM

SCREENSHOT VIA LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER
  • Screenshot via Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Happy Columbus Day, ya'll, the day old Cristóbal Colón discovered ... uh, well ... Anyway, to understand how this very reasonable holiday came about, consider the history. (Speaking of, Wikipedia says Colorado became the first state to recognize Columbus Day in 1906.)

First, I want you to imagine that you're trying to find a house in Denver which you heard had an iPhone buried in the basement. With this goal in mind, you unknowingly drive to Pueblo, stop at the first house you find, break into it, kidnap the wife as a slave; cut the head, arms and legs off the husband and parade them through Pueblo; and watch all the children die from the flu you brought. (But hey, you actually found an Android phone, so that's pretty great.)

Then somebody else moves into the house to help you sell the phones you found, and you say, "Welcome to Denver!" Then they honor you with a day recognizing that time you were the first person to discover Pueblo.

Er ...

Actually, to be more accurate, the Pueblo family would've first had to have welcome you by giving you everything you wanted: "They took anything, and gave willingly whatever they had," Columbus says in his journal.

Naturally, he kidnapped some as slaves. "I believe they would readily become Christians; it appeared to me that they have no religion," the Italian wrote. "With God’s will, I will take six of them with me for Your Majesties when I leave this place. ..."

Then there's this fun bit of history: "Later, Columbus sent thousands of peaceful Taino 'Indians' from the island of Hispaniola to Spain to be sold," writes the History Channel. "Many died en route. Those left behind were forced to search for gold in mines and on plantations. Within 60 years after Columbus landed, only a few hundred of what may have been 250,000 Taino were left on their island."

Or consider Last Week Tonight with John Oliver's take on the explorer: "In school, American children learn about Christopher Columbus' life," says a voiceover. "Of course, what they tend not to learn are the parts of Columbus' life where he kidnapped Native Americans and sold them into slavery; had his men slice them to pieces; and, through disease and warfare, killed roughly half the population of Haiti.

"But, in fairness, none of that rhymes with 'In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two.'"

So do the right thing, Colorado Springs, and follow Seattle's example — unless you're into that sort of thing. (Which, considering the conservative comments here, you might be). I mean, hey, you can't make a golden God omelet without committing a few genocides, amirite?

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Opinion: Setting it straight

Posted By on Sat, Aug 2, 2014 at 8:29 AM

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Praise the Lord and pass the Dom Perignon! The law to ban same-sex marriage in Colorado has finally been declared unconstitutional! While an appeal from Attorney General John Suthers will likely make it to the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals, given the ruling in Utah, we can pretty much predict the outcome: a long and exhausting trip to the Supreme Court which will more than likely result in it upholding the previous court’s ruling. (Please, John, get a clue and stop cluttering up the system at the cost of taxpayers.)

Though I am absolutely thrilled about the ruling in Colorado, I must confess there’s a part of me that’s just a tad annoyed at having to always rely on straight people to give LGBT people what’s rightfully ours.

I don’t want to sound “heterophobic,” but it is very clear to me that our successes have predominantly been, and perhaps always will be, at the hands of straight people finally waking up from their homophobic delusions. While I’m truly delighted that’s happening, I have to admit I’m kind of resentful that so much, if not everything, depends on them and not us. Yes, we’ve done an awesome job by organizing, getting bills passed, raising public awareness and generally just being ourselves, but all of that success relied heavily on convincing the heterosexual population that we’re not the monsters they’ve been raised to think we are. Just sayin’.

It should make sense that by virtue of being human, LGBT people are automatically endowed with the same inalienable rights as straight people. But since straight people outnumber us, and pretty much control the planet, we have no choice but to wait for them to shake off their conditioned aversion to the Rainbow Tribe. Since we’re dealing with thousands of years of indoctrination, it could take a while.

That’s the reality of being queer on Planet Hetero. It sucks that straight people wield such control over of us, but then again, it’s also pretty cool that more than 300 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued in Colorado since the 10th Circuit struck down the Utah ban. There seems to be no end in sight, so I’ll stop bitching.

I would like to express my sincerest thanks to Will Perkins and Kevin Tebedo for getting the ball rolling, though. Remember them? They’re the right-wing, evangelical whack jobs largely responsible for the passage of Colorado’s Amendment 2 in 1992.

If it weren’t for them, and their cronies at Colorado For Family Values, we probably wouldn’t be where we are right now. The passing of Amendment 2 really lit a fire under the asses of the Rainbow Tribe and we rose to the challenge! Lawsuits abounded and four years later, the amendment was struck down by the United States Supreme Court. That first taste of victory emboldened and inspired us to keep fighting, and the tribe marches on.

Thirty-three years ago, drifting aimlessly through the halls of General William Mitchell High School in my hermetically sealed closet, it never once occurred to me that there would be a day that I was not living in constant fear of being “found out.”(If you were out in high school in the '70s and '80s, you might as well have hung a sign around your neck saying, “Kill Me!”) Now, a mere 30 years later, LGBT people around the globe have gained a power and status that was beyond comprehension. In Colorado, it all started with Amendment 2, so again I thank you, Will and Ted, for your truly divine intervention and for helping advance the cause of the Rainbow Tribe, though I know that wasn’t your intention.

The Lord works in mysterious ways indeed.

Christopher Curcio has lived in Colorado Springs for over 35 years and is employed by Colorado College at Tutt Library. In his spare time you will find him sleeping, napping, dozing while reading, napping while dozing and nodding off while watching America’s Test Kitchen.  
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Grocer X: Fear and loathing in the checkout lane

Posted By on Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 7:10 AM

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The quality of time you spend at the checkout counter can make or break your grocery-shopping experience.

The good times have you whisking to the front of the line, welcomed by the warmest of smiling faces offering a friendly chat — maybe even tipping you off to some additional savings — and getting you back to your car with no remorse for spending vast amounts of money. Consider yourself lucky if this is your usual experience.

The bad times, obviously more notable, have you waiting in long lines snaking haphazardly around the front of the registers as distress calls for “checkout service” ring constant from the overhead speakers. Your mood worsens as you watch the register clerks leaving their posts to check price tags at the other end of the store, and again when the elderly gentleman in front of you realizes he left his wallet in the car, scoots his walker across the floor, and assures everyone he’ll be “really quick.” By the time you’re finally out the door, you’ve sworn to never come back more times than you can count, and told several employees you plan to have them fired, while your expensive cuts of beef sit stewing at room temperature and beads of ice cream run down the sides of the container. Terrible.

Those of us on the other side of the conveyor belt see it little differently. There are hardly any good times for people tapping in hundreds of produce codes and scanning handfuls of crumpled, illegible coupons, but there certainly are plenty of bad times. It should be noted that not everyone working a register loathes the thought of being there; it may be that I’m not what you call a “people person” in the traditional sense.

Take the opening lines from an old journal entry I wrote after a particularly awful day at the register:

Face to face with a six-foot Gila monster, I find myself alone in my predicament and past the point of no return. Lashing its tongue in an unrecognizable dialect and flailing its arms — claws gripping a stack of clipped paper savings — this one is ready for a fight.

Harsh, I know. But the truth is, we never know what kind of monstrosity we’ll have to deal with after handing the receipt over to the last customer.

Of course there are shoppers we all love to see, those friendly, familiar faces asking about our days off and more than willing to talk about anything other than groceries — a shining few — but I’m not talking about them.

I’m talking about the jerk holding up the line by adding random items to his order just so he can sneak his way to another gas discount, even though he doesn’t know how the promotion works. I’m talking about the “multi-tasking mom,” cranium-deep in a call on her cell and failing to cognitively answer any of my questions while her children wreak havoc among the candy displays, and to the coupon-issuer starting off the transaction with, “I hope you do this right.” These are the monsters I’m talking about.

It makes sense, I guess, that we checkers suffer some of the most abusive forms of human interaction; we’re essentially just bill collectors. But why is it my fault that all those frozen dinners you bought didn’t net you the free gallon of ice cream they did last week, or that the printed ad you brought along is two weeks old and none of the prices match? I don’t care how long you’ve shopped at the store — we have policies, and those coupons are three months expired. Is it really something to throw a fit about?

If only you could see yourselves, in all your glory, lambasting me over the promotional price of a candy bar, or because we stopped carrying that obscure item that literally no one else but you will buy. Maybe then you’ll recognize the predatory nature of your behavior. Maybe you’ll recognize that 9 times out of 10, the customers, you, are actually wrong, and your reasons for taking it out on me would baffle even the most immature of 5-year-olds.

Believe me, I really do try my best to get you in and out the door as quickly and happily as possible. The last thing I want is to spend more time with the ticking time bombs waiting in my line. But I need your help. Or, no, just some common courtesy.

Looking down the row of faces in my line I see more of them; coldblooded creatures walking upright, talking on cell phones, even handling money. How has it come to this? Who let this happen? This is a grocery store, not a goddamn reptile sanctuary.

Thanks for shopping with us.

— Grocer X

The man behind the apron is Craig Lemley, digital content coordinator here at the Indy. The Colorado Springs native spent nearly a decade working in grocery stores across the Pikes Peak region before retiring his produce knife for a surprisingly less-stressful media career. Follow him on twitter (@_CraigLemley) or send questions/comments to clemley@csindy.com.
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Apply red lipstick, conquer the world

Posted By on Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 4:00 AM

BRENDA FIGUEROA-GONZALEZ
  • Brenda Figueroa-Gonzalez
“Your lipstick is so pretty. I wish I was brave like you” — the first of many compliments I paid to Irma Sandoval (@DangIrms) during school at Adams State University. She was a sophomore when we met and had the kind of strong, exuberant personality I envied. With her fair complexion taking on all the most a-muh-zing colors of makeup a girl could dream of, she had the ability to take over the room from the moment she walked in, most often with her red lipstick.

At the time, I was used to the same make-up routine and it was very minimal, so I was immediately drawn to this exuberant woman. I’d been bold with my outfits before — hair accessories, nails, jewelry, etc., too — but there was something about wearing red lipstick that just scared me.

My head would swirl with insecurities thinking It would draw so much attention to my mouth, or that I’d surely get it all over my teeth and it wouldn’t look good with my skin tone. All it took to confirm those insecurities was my friend calling a fellow classmate Bozo the Clown, and I was off red lipstick for a few years.

Then, one day I was a 24-year-old woman no longer afraid of lip color.

I was standing in the make-up section of Walgreens, gawking at the endless rows of lipsticks. I thought to myself, "They do this in movies, right?" grabbing three shades of red and drawing lines on the back of my hands, comparing each and trying to picture the bold colors on myself. After standing there for a few minutes I thought, "Screw it. I can handle a little color."

I purchased all three and strutted to my car.

I spent the next hour Googling how to apply the damn lipstick. “Exfoliate your lips; apply up to three layers; blot with a tissue between layers; use lip liner—JK, FORGET the lip liner.” It took some practice, and A LOT of tissues, but as I looked at my first-ever scarlet pout in the mirror, I went from doubting myself to embracing it entirely. I proved to myself that I could be bold with my beauty, and had a feeling I would see a huge reaction from others as well. I mean, the former queen of nude lips and tinted Chapstick, strutting into the room wearing a red lip would be a shock, right?

Wrong.

I was astounded by the lack of surprise. I expected shock and awe at the thought of such a daring move. But the great debate over my ability to be bold with my beauty was all in my head. I had finally caught up with everyone else, and couldn’t have been happier. The red lipstick stigma among black and Latina women may always be there, but I encourage all of my fellow women, especially those with fuller lips and darker skin, to be bold and beautiful.

Lupita Nyong'o has been a huge inspiration. She is a stunning balance of embracing vivid colors, looking absolutely fantastic, and breaking down a common trope that dark-skinned women cannot wear those colors. Not to mention she won an Oscar, HELLO! Don’t let thoughts of feeling child-like, or looking like a harlot, or Bozo the clown, stand in the way of feeling powerful and confident; they don’t apply.

Wearing a bold color is guaranteed to give you a boost of confidence. Remember the first time you wore heels and actually learned how to walk in them? Or entering a room in your favorite pumps and thinking, “YEP, I’m here. Take a damn good look at this”? Red lips will give you a similar feeling. They draw attention to your mouth — especially from the opposite sex — and as for any judgments or inherent curiosity, you look fabulous and confident so who cares, right?

With seemingly everyone policing the bodies of women so closely and viciously these days, it’s easy to give up on defining our own beauty standards. There’s always an article, a rap lyric, or a debate about how we should look. If we choose to wear a daring color, others expect a reason other than us wanting to look and feel good for ourselves. Screw that! Ladies, it isn’t just about being fashionable, it’s about being confident, loud, and empowering.

So don those red lips!

Brenda Figueroa-Gonzalez returned to Colorado Springs after graduating from Adams State University with her Bachelors in Mass Communications and is usually roaming the Internet, and often found downtown. Follow on twitter @loveliestladyyy, chronicling random thoughts on TV shows or cute animals and her crossing into the deep underbelly of food, fashion and craft beer.
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Somethings to be proud of

Posted By on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 7:00 AM

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Sometimes I attend the Pride parade and sometimes I don’t (depending on the heat and whether or not I can fork out 10 bucks for a burger and a Coke). But this year, I’m definitely there — I’m really feeling the need to get off my dead ass and connect with the people in my community. The past year has seen so many changes happen to the Rainbow Tribe around the globe, and they need to be celebrated (or mourned, as the case may be).

Let’s get the bad news from Uganda out of the way first.

What a goddamned nightmare. Just as so many doors have been kicked open and it seemed the human race was finally waking up, Uganda decides to pass a law, the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, making homosexuality punishable by life in prison. True, it’s hardly news that homosexuality is against the law in most of Africa, but the harshness of the punishment is what makes the law so draconian.

Perhaps the worst part of this story is that the law wasn’t designed on a whim. If you dig a little deeper you’ll see the ground for that decision was being tilled years before it came into existence, and the people working the soil coming from the good ol' U.S. of A.

But while Uganda appears to have taken a giant step backward, things are looking up for transgendered persons in South Asia, more specifically India.

In April, the Supreme Court of India ruled that hijras, the name for transgendered people in India, be classified as a third gender on all official documents, and that opportunities that had otherwise been off-limits to them, such as placement in government jobs, elementary schools and colleges, must be made available.

Despite this change in Indian law, many hijras remain less than thrilled. Rather than be classified as a third gender, they’d like to be identified with the gender they have chosen, be it male or female. And considering that homosexual acts are still illegal in India, trans people see this ruling as a token gesture. But, the court insists it is committed to ending the social stigma attached to hijras in India.

Now let’s focus on our own backyard.

Last month, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous ruling that Utah’s gay marriage ban is indeed unconstitutional. Of course, the state is appealing the decision, but in other states that have tried to ban gay marriage, such appeals have failed. The next stop for Utah’s fight against marriage equality will then head to the Supreme Court.

SCOTUS has made it quite clear that it would rather leave the issue of gay marriage to the states, but public opinion has always played a part in their decisions, and a Gallup poll conducted last May found that 55% of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples.

Two baby-steps forward, one giant step back. That just seems to be the pace — it feels like it could take forever for the human race to mature at this speed, especially when you’re living in such a conservative, God-fearing town like the Springs.

But the times, places and people are changing. There are more places on the globe where it’s legal for same-sex couples to marry than at any other time in human history, with more being added every year, and, If that isn’t enough, many employers are adding transgender-related healthcare to their insurance plans. That’s friggin’ amazing!

True and lasting change is a generational thing — when I consider my niece’s generation, and her baby’s generation, I see a lot of hope.

Since I chose to come out, my nieces and nephews have grown up to see that being gay is quite natural and not really a big deal. They don’t understand why I’m denied some of the most fundamental, basic rights that they enjoy, and they just don’t get what all the fuss is about. And did I mention they’re voters? Things will change rapidly once their generation comes into power in a few short years — you can bet on it.

I’m usually not what you would call “a glass-half-full” kind of guy, but I truly believe that in the not-too-distant-future, sexual orientation and gender issues will be a thing of the past. We’ll be flat-out amazed there was even a time when we needed to fight. We’ll just shake our heads and say, “For real?”

We’re not there yet, but still, the LGBTQ has done a lot to be proud of. So throw on that sari, lace up those Doc Martens and get your ass out there and march!

Christopher Curcio has lived in Colorado Springs for over 35 years and is employed by Colorado College at Tutt Library. In his spare time you will find him sleeping, napping, dozing while reading, napping while dozing, and nodding off while watching America’s Test Kitchen.
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Grocer X: Violence in the produce department

Posted By on Sun, Jul 13, 2014 at 8:28 AM

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The next time you find yourself in your favorite produce department or farmers market take a moment to revel in the innocence. Look at all the shelves and tables stacked neatly with bright-colored citruses and aromatic soft-fruits, or the wetted vegetables set glistening in front of mirrors and flowering from the wall racks. It’s a serene landscape of staple culinary ingredients, offering visions of a healthier lifestyle with the richest colors Mother Nature has to offer.

A produce department is a symbol of innocence, but unequipped to handle the barbarous assaults subjected to it day after day, leaving it broken, battered and beaten, all in the name of perfection.

Who would wreak such havoc on this unsuspecting utopia of agricultural wonder you ask? Of course the answer is you — though I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming it’s unintentional.

Think about it: How many tomatoes do you pick up, squeeze, then set back down before finding the one you want? How many ears of corn do you peel and toss aside before choosing the “best” one? How often do you excavate the salad cooler just to find the “freshest” date on a bag of salad? How many times have you left a bag of spinach on top of the fresh spinach, just because you changed your mind?

Based on my experience, I’ll say that nine out of 10 shoppers NEVER end up buying the first apple, head lettuce or bunch of bananas they pick up — it’s like a motor reflex. You pick the first one up, sometimes you’ll take a quick glance, but for whatever reason that first pick is never good enough, ever. Then, it’s just a matter of how many picks you’ll make before you finally decide, and where you'll stash the items you don't want.

Why did you pick them up in the first place? What exactly is the reason why it isn’t worthy of making it into your basket?Is it too much to ask of you to put it back where you found it? Do you even realize you’re doing this?!

What’s left at the end of the shopping day is a derelict mass of rejected first picks, strewn across the shelves and racks where they don't belong, patiently waiting for their last ride on my produce cart to the trashcan. I’m left with the guilt of discarding all the would-be kale apple salads, banana breads and eggplant parmesans, and the ominous task of re-stacking their counterparts to face a similar demise the next day.

What I’m saying is plan your picking: no more of this "don’t pick first pick" nonsense when it comes to your produce. I’m not saying to never inspect your produce — of course you should — I’m just asking that you do so with a less-critical eye. And, for heaven's sake, put things back where they belong. 

Imagine if you were poked and prodded by unfamiliar faces, examined with critical eyes and dropped off in a strange location to await the nightly culling, just because you don’t meet unrealistic beauty standards. Apparently, the whole “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” mantra doesn’t apply when you’re picking produce, but it should.

I doubt you’re eating tomato heels on a regular basis (at least, you shouldn’t be) so the slight discoloring at the stem shouldn’t turn you off, and so what if an outer leaf of lettuce is broken, or dented; chances are the inner leaves are still to your liking. Those cantaloupes that “don’t look too good” to you very well may be the sweetest on the display, and what difference does it make if there’s a scar on the peel of an orange? Do you eat that too?

Unless your daily meals are on the cover of some food magazine, or for some reason none of the filters on Instagram are good enough, there’s no reason for you to be scouring the displays in search of the perfect peach or that quintessential kiwi. You may not notice the damage caused by doing so, but the carnage in the market left in your wake is like that of a conquered village; a battered skeleton of what it used to be.

Thanks for shopping with us.

— Grocer X

The man behind the apron is Craig Lemley, digital content coordinator here at the Indy. The Colorado Springs native spent nearly a decade working in grocery stores across the Pikes Peak region before retiring his produce knife for a surprisingly less-stressful media career. Follow him on twitter (
@_CraigLemley) or send questions/comments to clemley@csindy.com.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A full-fledged Kinsey 6

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 7:00 AM

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Hi everyone and welcome to my blog, The Kinsey 6! Originally, I was going to call it “The 10%," referring of course to the percentage of the human population identifying itself as LGBTQ. I thought that title would be just perfect since this blog will address issues directly related to that community and my own experiences as a single gay man, a full-fledged “Kinsey 6” (Google it), living on Planet Hetero. However, I found that that statistic, much to my surprise, was completely erroneous.

The assumption that 10 percent of the population is LGBTQ comes from an enormously outdated study conducted by Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s. He calculated that 10 percent of the men in his study were homosexual. Decades later, we now know that he oversampled the gay community for his study and that all participants were white men, and mostly from large cities — not really representative of the total human population, wouldn't you say?

According to Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist specializing in relationships and the psychology of sex, more recent studies show the overall population of the rainbow tribe is actually much smaller. And one curious statistic reveals that the number of people who identify as LGBTQ tends to be less than the number of people who report having had sexual experience with another member of the same sex — very interesting, no?

So, how many of us are out there already? Well, according to the study, The social organization of sexuality: Sexual practices in the United States, conducted in the U.S. in 1994, only 2.8 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women identified themselves as homosexual. However, in the second study conducted in 2010, Sexual behavior in the United States: Results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94, (also in the United States), 8 percent of men and 7 percent of women identified as either gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

So, in the span of 12 relatively short years the number of gays, lesbians and bisexuals just tripled? Not exactly.

Dr. Lehmiller believes that in the '90s many of us still felt it a bit too risky to reveal our sexual identity. However, as the world gradually became more accepting and tolerant of our existence, we became more relaxed and more willing to tell the truth, thus the resulting higher numbers in 2010.

That sounds plausible, but if these studies didn’t include transgendered and queer people — something inside me is screaming that they didn’t — they too are hopelessly inaccurate.

Perhaps we should be asking ourselves if knowing the number of LGBTQ people even matters? And, seeing that you can’t really guarantee folks are going to answer honestly in any study at any point in time, is it even possible to accurately calculate one?

Maybe we should look at it this way: there are 7.2 billion human beings on the planet and even using the lowest percentages as our guide, that means there’s still a hell of a lot of us out there! I, for one, feel an enormous amount of relief knowing that.

For me, the bottom line is this; regardless of our number, we belong to a burgeoning LGBTQ community that is gradually gaining acceptance and making huge strides in the world at large. And maybe, just maybe, if we pull together, we can make the same strides in this beautiful city and state we call home.

Wow. It was so totally not my intention to get lost in a numbers rant. Normally, I couldn’t care less about statistics — leave it to the PhDs, I say. But when I started writing this post and got a glimpse at the percentages, I came to a startling awareness: I am indeed a member of a minority class — that’s such a weird feeling, almost impossible to describe.

Sure, I’ve always felt like I was on the outside looking in, but now, even though they may not be the most accurate, I have numbers to back it up. Strange.

Anyways, I invite you to join me as I make my way through this implausible existence, and this town, as a full-fledged Kinsey 6 (have you Googled it yet?). And while it won't always be glamorous, or even particularly attractive, I'll strive to make it interesting and informative. Maybe even fun.

So, until next time, "keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” (Yeah, I know — that was tragically lame.)


Christopher Curcio has lived in Colorado Springs for over 35 years and is employed by Colorado College at Tutt Library. In his spare time you will find him sleeping, napping, dozing while reading, napping while dozing and nodding off while watching "America’s Test Kitchen."

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Sociable self-discovery

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 7:00 AM

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Silver-haired Porsche drivers generally get all the credit on this one, but I’ve discovered that none of us are ever safe from the ever-looming identity crisis. At the tender age of 30-something-or-other, I’ve found that most of my friends are just now reaching the conclusion that they’ve, so far, done everything wrong. “What am I doing?” They ask me, “Where am I going?”

Look, I’ve got my own problems: I’m in the middle of planning a wedding I can’t afford, I practice yoga like a dying cat on a ventilator, and I’ve never managed to brew a cup of tea that doesn’t taste a little bit like feet.

But if I understand the majority of the Tao Te Ching, you have to just let it go. Or perhaps, go your own way, as Fleetwood Mac has sagely advised us all since 1977. I know my Fleetwood Mac lyrics; they replaced my psychiatrist in 2003.
I think the easiest way to live the teachings of the Tao Te Ching — or the equally compelling musical stylings of certain aforementioned Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees — is to get to know yourself really, really well.

Enter Buzzfeed!

You’ve seen the quizzes reposted on your Facebook feeds, I’m sure. Your friends, perhaps grappling for a steadier sense of self, click on links to find out which Hindu God they may be or — arguably more relevant — what kind of pocket.

Thanks to this seemingly endless cycle of self-discovery, the previous balance of my Facebook feed has been upended. I’ve gone from 80 percent pictures of babies I don’t know, 15 percent pictures of babies I do know, and 5 percent strange public queries from my mother to 75 percent Buzzfeed quiz reposts, 10 percent posts from friends turning their worlds on end due to results of said Buzzfeed quizzes (i.e. "I’m Marie Curie?"), and holding steady at 15 percent pictures of babies I don’t know. (My mother has resorted to just showing up at my door.)

Anyhow, given the undeniable popularity of these quizzes, I decided — for research purposes — to take a few. Here are the results:

1. I like pizza! In fact, my “devotion to pizza is real and my love for pizza is both true and beautiful.”

2. The super power I should actually have is “the power to melt into a puddle ... zooming around town like a liquid champion.”

3. I’m not a hipster. I like “normal stuff” and I’m “not a jerk." 

The pizza thing is no secret. I carry an extra three pounds with me at all times as a near constant reminder. Not a hipster? Agreed. I have Justin Bieber on my iPod, and not ironically. The power to melt into a puddle, though — now that’s something to think about. Should I quit my job, knit a waterproof cape, and corner the market in water-based heroism?

I remain hopeful that one day, one of these quizzes really taps into something meaningful — so I can share the results with all of my online acquaintances and strangers.

Oh, wait a second … Is this an ego thing? Is Buzzfeed getting us all to click on quizzes with names like: “Are You Holy Enough to Receive Communion?” (I got a resounding “no” on that one, by the way) because, scientific validity aside, we’re all just maniacally obsessed with talking about ourselves?

I don’t know. All I know is, I’m an Air Pocket.

K. Ring, a writer with extensive experience in news and communications, has been bottoming out in various potholes around Colorado Springs for seven years. She lives in Hillside with a handsome husband and an emotionally erratic dog. You can follow K.'s musings on the lighter (and weirder) sides of local life here and on Twitter (@SinghRing), or email questions and comments to RingKKS@gmail.com.
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Sunday, July 6, 2014

An open letter to you, the consumer

Posted By on Sun, Jul 6, 2014 at 7:00 AM

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I am Grocer X.

I am every smiling face and friendly greeting welcoming you to the register at your neighborhood grocery, and I am the disgruntled, tired and tormented soul hiding underneath.

You’ve seen me before, stocking the aisles with your favorite foodstuffs, arranging apples and shucking ears of fresh corn. I’ve even guided you happily through the darkest corners of the condiment aisle in your futile search for mango chutney, mopping floors and looking for “that thing” you bought one time. I’m the one who’s been up since 1 a.m. — seven days in a row — and whose vacation was canceled due to whatever-parent’s-day weekend.

I am the teenager holding a summer job, the middle aged working-class American and the “lifer” closing in on retirement.

I know you, too. You’re one of our “regular” shoppers; chatting it up with all the employees during your daily trips to the store. You’re the extreme coupon-isseur; reviewing your receipts, item by item, making sure all the hours you’ve spent clipping paper savings weren’t in vain. You’re the poor soul sent to the store for an item you’ve never heard of, wandering aimlessly in your search but too proud to ask where it is until the frustration is too much to bear.

Our time spent together during your weekly shopping trips, your in-and-out stops and your daily routines has been civil, consistent, sometimes even a little pleasant, and I expect that will continue. I know I’m difficult to deal with from time to time with my confusing receipts and seemingly foreign pricing language and promotion rules and restrictions. And I’m sorry we stopped carrying your favorite flavored Kool-Aid packets, and that the prices at my store are so much higher than the (insert store name here) down the street.

But I forgive you too, for all the times you’ve told me how beautiful it is outside and “it’s too bad [I] have to work” (I know), for all the items you’ve wedged into any place except where they belong, and for all the times you’ve dropped a packet of blueberries on the floor and didn’t tell anyone about it.

Let’s put all of that behind us.

We HAVE to spend time together so why not make that time a little less frustrating, for all our sakes?

I come to you now not to attack or belittle you, or to beg you to make my job a little easier, but because I believe we can find common ground.

I believe we can live in a world where grocers can understand the buyers’ need to purchase five gallons of milk — to get two free — and that there may be a time when customers realize why all the clerks are unhappy during the holidays (it’s because we’re working every holiday).

In the coming posts, I’ll bring you insights from my years of experience working in the depths of the grocery aisles. I’ll walk you through your holiday and special event shopping trips, ease the suffering of those dreaded visits to the customer service counter, and help you overcome your fear of buying the ugliest of cantaloupe and pineapple (they’re the sweetest).

I am not a wholesaler. I’m not selling you clothing, toys, or electronics. I am the middleman between you and one of your most vital necessities: your groceries. Let me guide you through the aisles and help you help me, help us.

Thanks for shopping with us.

The big reveal: The man behind the apron is Craig Lemley, digital content coordinator here at the Indy. The Colorado Springs native spent nearly a decade working in grocery stores across the Pikes Peak region before retiring his produce knife for a surprisingly less-stressful media career. Follow him on twitter (@_CraigLemley) or send questions/comments to clemley@csindy.com.


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Saturday, July 5, 2014

The first impression is always the hardest

Posted By on Sat, Jul 5, 2014 at 7:00 AM

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My name is Brenda Carolina Figueroa-Gonzalez. I’m a 25-year-old woman who maintains that life is a fragile bit of luck in a world based on chance, vodka should be a beverage a girl can marry, that we all secretly dress like hipsters and that nobody’s grown a decent tomato since 1963.

I’m from Mexico City and migrated to the United States when I was 12. I graduated from Adams State University in 2012 and now I’m in debt, eating cup-of-noodles while doing nothing with my degree like everybody else in my generation. After returning to the United States, and graduating college, I found myself living in Colorado Springs, a large-ish city surrounded by beautiful mountains and endless craft beer.

I never thought I’d be happy in the Springs, mostly because it never felt big enough. Mexico City was exciting, familiar, and comforting. I remember the mercados (markets) every Sunday, running through the colorful streets and sneaking leftovers for the stray dogs. I thought that was a good deed, but my parents hated it since the strays would end up following us home — I was also a child so what did I know?

Since then, I’ve learned an entirely different language, I adapted to the one-foot-radius bubble of protection that Americans are fond of, and I’ve learned to constantly forgive people for mispronouncing my last name (Fee-guh-ROE-ah). I mean, really? It’s not that difficult.

I’ve spent the best years of my life growing out my bangs, searching for a good bra and finding ways of traveling around the world. The bangs came and went, and I have Zooey Deschanel to blame for setting unattainable standards for women. (C’mon Zooey, there is no way the average gal can have those perfect bangs every single time.) To this day, I repeat the mantra: “I’d have to marry a hairdresser to have bangs like that every day” while watching "New Girl" — ugh. Bang envy is the worst.

I use to think the world wasn't that complicated; just add water and live. Then, along came Diet Coke, Channing Tatum and the cancellation of "Pushing Daisies" and "Firefly" and I guess I just had to grow up. I’ve learned the hard lesson of not becoming too attached to any TV show you love; it will undoubtedly be canceled or somehow “improved upon,” much to its detriment.

After everything I’ve been through, all the experiences I’ve had, and all the wonderful people I’ve met, I don’t think I could adapt to living in a metropolitan city outside of the United States again. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my culture and country and encourage everyone to visit and experience it, but let’s be honest, no one takes Mexico very seriously. It’s either seen as an overwhelming, polluted and dangerous country or a touristy party land, ideal for spring break or bachelorette parties (yuck). Many would be surprised to discover a truly beautiful country. Mexico City itself is relatively easy to navigate, with lots of museums and neighborhoods worth exploring, and offers amazing food at all levels from the endless street food to world-class restaurants.

As a Mexican-American who is a little bit more Mexican on some days, and slightly more American on others, I hope we’re able to find some common ground. I, like many of you, am not defined by just one aspect, such as race or where you are born. I’ll tell you why the Internet makes me insecure about my eyebrows, how overrated those twenty-something lists actually are and fill you in on my personal vendetta for the word “chica.” (Yeah, some A+ topics here.)

Am I a proud Latina? You bet! I’ve embraced my heritage and language, but that’s not all there is to me, it’s just a shade in the color-pencil portrait of my life.

So, let’s get acquainted and have some fun.


Brenda Figueroa-Gonzalez returned to Colorado Springs after graduating from Adams State University with her Bachelors in Mass Communications and is usually roaming the Internet, and often found downtown. Follow on twitter @loveliestladyyy, chronicling random thoughts on TV shows or cute animals and her crossing into the deep underbelly of food, fashion and craft beer.


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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Blame it on chemtrails

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Every six months or so, we'll get calls or receive packages here at the Indy pertaining to an array of what is most easily categorized as conspiracy theories — folks urging us to investigate everything from the paranormal to the seemingly paranoid.  

Around five years or so ago, I recall a thick stack of paper mostly concerned with the Illuminati, but also making many implications around the secret symbolism of area landmarks and military installations. Of course you've got the occasional UFO or alien-themed reach-out as well. 

But this morning, I took a call from a concerned citizen who was at the time down in Ivywild, urging me to go outside and look up in the sky, not for an unidentified flying object, but for the easily identified and quite controversial chemtrails

Cue Alex Jones link here. Or disinformation link here

A look Southward around 9:30 a.m. this morning: chemtrails galore! - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A look Southward around 9:30 a.m. this morning: chemtrails galore!

As you can see, I indulged the gentleman by snapping a quick photo from outside of our offices. Yeah, it's a pretty busy sky, whatever you make of it. 

If anyone has his or her own theory behind these supposedly sinister streaks, feel free to post it as a comment to this posting. 

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Really, Mr. Mayor?

Posted By on Tue, May 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Steve Bach
  • Steve Bach
I don't usually take to the blog to vent, but I'm going to make an exception today.

Here's why: After months of asking about the mayor's homeless plan, and multiple promises from city staff that I'd be "the first to know," I found the story detailing the plan on the front page of the Gazette today. Really?

Later in the morning, I received an e-mail from city communications announcing a meeting on the homeless initiative would take place tonight. Listen, I expect a last-minute press conference on a gruesome murder or a natural disaster. But a plan that's been months in the making, to address a problem that's been around for decades? Surely, they could have told us about this days, or even weeks, ago.

Of course, this is hardly the first time this has happened. Mayor Steve Bach rarely returns our requests for comment, and when he does, it's usually in an e-mail. While the communications office is the "official" information source for all city business, the mayor himself seems to be the main source of tips for the media outlets he likes. Bach has acknowledged to our reporters on multiple occasions that he feels his relationship with the Independent is strained. He says he feels like our paper attacks him.

For the record, yes, we have been critical of the mayor. But we've also praised him at times. And we've invited his input into stories that concern him, whether or not he's bothered to respond. That's called being fair.

That said, I can see why Bach must have liked the story in the Gazette today. It portrayed him in a very favorable light, and failed to quote anyone who objected to his plan to create a campus setting for homeless services. The critics exist. In fact, they're obvious: Many homeless service providers have openly said in the past that they're happy at their current locations and don't feel moving is the answer.

It's up to the Gazette's reporters and editors how they want to cover the news, but at the Independent, we feel we owe it to our readers to tell as well-reported a story as possible. It'd be nice if our city government respected that.

I'd guess I won't be getting a call from the mayor anytime soon. But hey, I'd love to be proven wrong.

Sent today:

NEWS RELEASE
May 7, 2013

Community Meeting with Mayor Bach

Please join Mayor Steve and Suzi Bach for a Community Meeting on Homeless Solutions TODAY on Tuesday, May 7, from 6:30 — 8:00 p.m. at Hillside Community Center, 925 S Institute Street Colorado Springs, CO 80903.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Michelle Morin: 'Now I'm a "bigot" :)'

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 3:21 PM

For those Republicans who wonder why they are losing the battle of messaging, this might be instructive.

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Michelle Morin, a local blogger who writes at mom4freedom.com, is a darling of the local conservative movement. Look here at all the famous conservatives she's stood next to.

It would appear, from this post on her Facebook page, that she is insinuating that gay couples like to rape children, and that by allowing gay marriage to become a normal facet of our culture we're also opening the floodgates for such abuse.

Of course, this would just be a guess (as her post is so rich in snark as to be nearly indecipherable), if she hadn't made her point abundantly clear in a response to someone in the thread.

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Armed only with snark and a single link to a story of alleged child abuse, Morin has declared that not only do gay couples enjoy raping children, but that one day, thanks undoubtedly to the liberals, society-at-large will learn to view this horrific perversion as an acceptable quirk.

Morin doesn't even attempt to use data to back up her first claim, because there is no unbiased, legitimate data to support it. And, as for her second claim, it is beyond reason to assume that people who support the marriage of homosexuals would eventually come to accept child abuse — it's simply a baffling leap of illogic.

The Facebook posts were brought to our attention by Elliot Fladen, a well-known conservative-libertarian activist.

"I criticized her in an attempt to have a more tolerant conservative movement," Fladen states. "My goal is to have a GOP/Conservative movement that is welcoming to groups like the Log Cabin Republicans."

We have asked Morin for a comment, and will post a response if we get one.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hey, got a relative at Guffey Cemetery?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 1:48 PM

The mountain town of Guffey pops up on the Indy’s radar every now and then. The most involved coverage has come in relation to the horrible 2000 killings that former editor Kathryn Eastburn wrote about for the paper, and then in her nonfiction book, Simon Says. But we also run listings for its controversial annual Fourth of July Chicken Fly, and occasionally slap a photo from there on our Slice of Life page.

Anyway, with the town only 70 miles or so away, it has plenty of connections to Colorado Springs. And Bill Soux, perhaps Guffey's most prominent citizen, is pretty sure that some Colorado Springs residents have family buried at the historic Guffey Cemetery.

He’s also pretty sure that some of those residents won’t be happy about what's happened up there.

Guffey cemetery
  • Courtesy Bill Soux
  • A product of the committee's work.

A couple months ago, a now-defunct group called the Guffey Cemetery Committee headed a “cleanup” project that included cutting down trees and tearing down battered fencing. Soux (who lost a favorite tree in the project) says the committee had no right to do this; a notably in-depth story in the Fairplay Flume explains, among other things, that no one even knows who owns the land.

While aesthetic judgments on the above may be left to the beholder, there’s no doubt that ATV tracks were left in the workers’ wake, and Soux says some grave sites were desecrated.

Anyway, here’s where you come in: If you indeed happen to have family buried in the cemetery of this “small friendly mountain town,” and would like to work on restoring the land to its more rustic look, Soux invites you to contact him at 689-3291, or through guffeycolorado.com.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

No celebration for the standing ovation

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2012 at 2:43 PM

As those who have caught performances at the Pikes Peak Center, World Arena or anywhere that involved anybody doing anything in front of anybody can tell you, there are too many standing ovations. Ben Brantley at the New York Times presents the new alternative:

I would like to make the case, officially and urgently, for the return of the sitting ovation. Because we really have reached the point at which a standing ovation doesn’t mean a thing. Pretty much every show you attend on Broadway these days ends with people jumping to their feet and beating their flippers together like captive sea lions when the zookeeper arrives with a bucket of fish. This is true even for doomed stinkers that find the casts taking their curtain calls with the pale, hopeless mien of patients who have just received a terminal diagnosis. ...

Or, to put it in cruder and more extreme terms, it’s like having sex with someone on the first date, whether you like the person or not, because you think it’s expected.

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