Notepad

Mach 3 dating

Erik Field was visiting friends in Seattle last spring when he heard about speed dating, an easy and nonpressured way to meet other singles. “I’m self-employed and well past school age and am finding myself with fewer social outlets,” he explains. “Speed dating just sounded like so much fun.”

Upon returning, says Field, “I started checking the local papers and the Internet to see if anyone was hosting this kind of event in Asheville.”

But the closest speed-dating events he found were in Greenville and Winston-Salem, so he decided to take the plunge and get something local going himself. The debut event was held Oct. 16, and Field reports, “Over 90 percent of the participants scored at least one match.”

Here’s how it works: An equal number of single men and women (usually 7-10 of each) are invited to the event. After a brief mingling period and an explanation of the rules, participants are paired off at tables for two for a seven-minute “date.” Then a bell rings, and the men rotate to the next table. This continues until everyone has had a chance to meet everyone else. At the evening’s end, each participant indicates on a “scoreboard” which of their partners they’d like to go out with on a more leisurely date. The hosts collect the scoreboards and, whenever two people have indicated mutual interest, get in touch with them the next day to give them names and contact information.

Certain topics are off-limits during speed dates, such as discussing what you do for a living or asking any identifying questions (last names, phone numbers, etc.). Anything else is fair game. A list of “icebreaker” questions is provided in case the conversation starts to lag.

Unlike the personals, video dating and Internet chat rooms, speed-date participants get actual face-to-face interaction with other singles notes Field. “Admittedly, seven minutes is not enough time to really get to know someone,” he concedes. “But it is a good amount of time to get a solid first impression, and if there is not a ton of chemistry, you haven’t spent a lot of time, money or energy finding out.”

Speed dating was created in 1998 by a rabbi in Los Angeles as a way to promote marriage within the Jewish faith. Since then, it has spread across the country and has even popped up overseas. It was featured in the hit TV show Sex and the City and was the topic of discussion on a recent edition of Oprah.

The next local speed-dating event will take place Tuesday, Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m. at the Bier Garden (46 Haywood St.) in Asheville. The event will last from 1-1/2 to 2 hours; Field and Elizabeth Morosani will be the host and hostess for the evening. The cost to play is $20.

This event is open to people ages 28-40. Future gatherings will be held for other age ranges, as well as for gays and lesbians. Anyone interested in participating should e-mail Field with their full name, age, and daytime and evening phone numbers. Reservations can also be made over the phone.

“Do not sign up unless you really intend to play,” stresses Field. “Failure to show is the equivalent of standing up seven to 10 dates in one night.”

If a scheduled participant must cancel, they are asked to give at least 48 hours’ notice, so their space can be filled.

For more information, contact Field at 254-1011 or ashevillespeeddate@hotmail.com.

Meet the writers

How’d you like to meet novelist Jude Deveraux (who has 27 New York Times best sellers to her name, including The Summerhouse and her latest, The Mulberry Tree)? Or how about George Stuart, an expert on Central American archaeology who’s written Lost Kingdoms of the Maya and Ancient Pioneers: The First Americans (he’s also the owner of a converted barn in Barnardsville that houses a 40,000-book research library)? And then there’s Gloria Houston, the author of such Appalachian children’s tales as My Great-Aunt Arizona and The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree (which was adapted into a film and made the 1998 Publisher’s Weekly best-seller list, among other awards).

Those are just a few of the 62 published authors book lovers can meet at the second annual WNC Book Fair and Author Signing on Saturday, Nov. 16, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Woodland Hills Baptist Church (50 Woodland Hills Road) in Weaverville. The authors represent many genres, including nonfiction, children’s stories, inspiration, mystery, romance, cookbooks, memoirs, history, poetry, Appalachian tales and gardening.

The book fair brings the reading public together with authors and books, while raising funds for the Weaverville Library. Readers can meet writers and buy autographed copies of books they’d like to read or give as gifts. Barnes & Noble Booksellers is donating a percentage of the proceeds from book sales to the Friends of the Weaverville Library. Light refreshments will be served throughout the day.

New to this year’s event is a raffle featuring 28 prizes donated by local businesses and area residents. Tickets ($1, or 6 for $5) can be purchased at the Weaverville Library (41 N. Main St.) and The Asheville Pizza Co. (55 N. Main St.) in Weaverville, as well as at the book fair. Ticket holders need not be present to win.

To get to Woodland Hills Baptist Church from Asheville, take Hwy. 19/23 north and exit onto New Stock Road. Follow directional signs from there. The facility is handicapped-accessible. For more information, call 645-3592.

PH3 rides again

The group PH3 (shorthand for “Philosophy, Phun and Phellowship”), explains organizer Dave Guerin, “deliberately produces that rare kind of event which mixes thinking (philosophy) with entertainment (phun) which, in turn, is calculated to result in phellowship. Audience interaction, therefore, is always a feature of the evening.”

“Accordingly,” Guerin notes, “themes are selected which are involving, such as communication, interconnection and community. Even the entertainment is chosen for its relevance.”

A new series of PH3 meetings begins on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m. at Soco Moon Tea House (319 N. Haywood St.) in Waynesville. The topic for discussion will be “The Role of the Newspaper in the Community”; a panel of editors from local papers will be on hand to help get things going. The panelists are: “Buzz” Eggleston of The Enterprise Mountaineer, Scott McLeod of The Smoky Mountain News, Cecil Bothwell of Mountain Xpress and Tammy Jones of the Asheville Citizen-Times.

“It will be a natural follow-up to the previous program, [which addressed] ‘Community and the Arts,'” says Guerin.

The entertainment lineup for the evening is as follows: Mark Mounce on Native American flute, stand-up comic Preston Tinsley, and the Celtic band Celtic Not (with special guest Karen Lyle on Irish harp). A minimum donation of $5 is strongly suggested.

This is the first time PH3 will meet at Soco Moon, which offers beverages, gourmet sandwiches and light fare. Usually closed on Tuesdays, the tea house will open especially for this and future PH3 meetings. “It’s bright, cheery and intimate and lends itself to a flexible arrangement,” says Guerin. “It even has an upstairs loft/library where philosophy devotees may gather to really go at it.”

For more information, call Soco Moon at 456-5133 or Guerin at 452-6211.

A chronicle of spooks

A man spends the night alone in a haunted house. Strange things happen, including numerous unexplained sounds and things that go bump in the night. The man records his experience, both on film and via a small arsenal of high-tech sensory equipment: a Wilmshurst electrostatic generator (which he put together himself), a tri-field electromagnetic-field detector (one of his favorite tools, this device measures natural electromagnetic frequencies), and a laptop computer specially fitted with digital sound equipment for monitoring EVP (electronic voice phenomena).

That’s the story behind Alone in a Haunted House, a new short documentary film that screens Thursday, Nov. 15 at Asheville Pizza and Brewing Co. (675 Merrimon Ave.). Show time is 10 p.m.; admission is $2.

The man is local parapsychologist Joshua P. Warren, the author of Haunted Asheville. He produced the film entirely by himself.

The haunted mansion is a private residence that sits next to the former News 13 building (both are on the grounds of the historic Grove Park Inn). Many ghost sightings have been reported in all three buildings, and some believe that the spirit of a mournful young woman, known locally as “The Pink Lady,” has haunted the property since the 1920s. There’s even been speculation that the ghost is none other than Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of acclaimed author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who stayed at the Grove Park on many occasions and who died in a fire at a local mental hospital.

Warren’s overnight stay marks the first time the mansion’s alleged supernatural phenomena have been formally investigated using scientific methods, and he hopes the film gives viewers a more realistic view of the science of ghost-hunting, as well as being entertaining.

For more information, contact Micah Hanks at 242-8439 or redskelter@msn.com.

Addressing anti-American sentiment abroad

The shock that many Americans experienced in the wake of 9/11 stemmed not just from the attacks themselves but also from the realization that we are so little loved overseas. And as we so painfully learned, anti-American sentiment can prove deadly.

A tri-county luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel (1 Thomas Wolfe Plaza) will address the topic “What is the U.S. State Department Doing to Counteract Anti-American Sentiment Abroad?” The event, which begins at noon, is sponsored by three local chapters of the League of Women Voters: Asheville-Buncombe, Madison and Henderson County. State Department spokesperson James Bullock will be the featured speaker. Tickets are $11, and the cutoff date for making reservations (required) is Friday, Nov. 15.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization dedicated to voter enfranchisement and citizen participation to ensure good government.

To reserve a seat for the Nov. 20 event, call 658-2141.

Do corporate-owned media censor the news?

“Corporate media owners increasingly see using their media outlets to promote their other businesses and the perspectives they favor as simply standard business practice; and advertisers, in a time of recession, appear to feel freer than ever to demand a favorable context for their ads, which are, after all, media’s main revenue source,” wrote Peter Hart and Janine Jackson of the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting in last year’s The Second Annual FAIR Report.

Other sources support these claims. In a poll of 287 reporters, editors and news executives conducted by the Pew Center for the People & the Press in 2000, about one-third of the respondents said that news that would “hurt the financial interests” of the media organization or an advertiser goes unreported. Forty-one percent said they themselves have avoided stories, or softened their tone, to benefit their media company’s interests; and 61 percent of the investigative reporters who responded said that corporate owners exert at least a fair amount of influence on news decisions.

That same year, one-third of the local TV news directors surveyed by the Project on Excellence in Journalism said they had been pressured to avoid negative stories about advertisers, or to do positive ones.

Hart will be in Asheville on Thursday, Nov. 14 to give a 7 p.m. talk at Jubilee! Community Center (46 Wall St.) on “The Myth of the Liberal Media.” Admission is free.

Hart will discuss how the growing concentration of media ownership by conglomerates such as General Electric, Viacom, Fox, AOL/Time-Warner and Clear Channel has greatly reduced the range of news, ideas and political perspectives available through the mainstream mass media. He’ll also advocate for creating an independent, noncommercial media sector that’s free of corporate and advertiser influence.

Besides co-authoring The Second Annual FAIR Report, Hart is co-host and producer of CounterSpin, the weekly media-analysis program from FAIR that airs on more than 125 noncommercial radio stations nationwide. Hart has also appeared on the NBC Nightly News and Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor.

The talk is sponsored by the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network, which serves 14 WNC counties with dial-up Internet access, Webhosting, on-line news and community information.

To find out more about Hart and FAIR, visit the group’s Web site: www.fair.org. To learn more about MAIN, call 255-0182 or visit their Web site: www.main.nc.us.

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