Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Alexander the Lame

Let me be brief and to the point: if you are thinking of seeing this movie, don't. Save your money and your time. Really, I nearly walked out before it was over and historical epics are normally the type of thing I enjoy.

To expand: While some of the actors have some charisma, it is all buried in confusing, alternatingly hectic then boring scripting and editing. Great chunks of plot and meaning are removed to make way for histrionic and nonsensical dialogue (and monologue) we thought when the was of 1950s B movies (seriously, I and others in the audience laughed out loud at several "dramatic" moments particularly since for some unknown reason Oliver Stone decided to make all Macedonians echo Farrell's natural Irish accent, and direct Angelina Jolie to come up with the most ridiculous evil-Russo/Slav accent since Boris and Natasha). Characters come and go and yell at each other without us ever knowing their motivation or even who they are in the first place. No one is likable, even Alexander, despite Colin Farrell's attempts, because why they do what they do is left a mystery.

The most impressive and bracing scenes are probably the battles, but even they sometimes seem filmed as if from the point of view of someone who just stumbled into the middle of them and had no idea what was going on. Sure, there may be interesting points(ever see angry elephants facing a legion of pikemen?) and a good deal of gore, rushing about and and noble posturing. But more often than not, both within and without the battles, you will find yourself thinking "the who in the what, now?" as we skip inexplicably along to a completely different plot point, time period or area.

And what of the "gay" sub-plot? With all the smouldering glances and manly hugs, you get, again, about as much action as you did in a 1950s B movie - maybe less. Alexander seems not so much gay, straight or bisexual as just asexual. He does what is scripted, the filmmakers try to feel good about themselves, and we get nothing if not a step backward in the depiction of queers.

What's good about it? Well, they tried. I mean, you can see the millions of dollars stuffed into it. There are great masses of extras, impressive sets, a lot of pretty cinematography and one extremely beautiful horse (I would have rather watched Alexander's steed running about for a couple of hours, if I could). One of the baffling and sad things about it is, that they so clearly did try to make this a good movie. You can see the earnestness dripping off the screen, and particularly flowing from Colin Farrell as he tries to portray this historical giant among mean. But, ultimately, it is not nearly enough.

So, I say again, don't bother. The only other good thing about it is that it might make you curious to find out more about just who the holy hand grenade Alexander really was, and what really happened. I don't know about you, but I'll be trying to clear up that confusion elsewhere.

Conversation of the Week

I was getting my blood drawn for some tests at the Callen-Lorde Center (for those of you who don't know, it's a medical center for the Lesbigaytranswhatever community) yesterday, when one of the nurses started looking at me like she smelled something nasty.

Nurse 1: (waving paperwork around) Is this you?
Me: Uh... (glancing at name on paper) yeah...
Nurse 1: (shoving a paper under my nose and pointing) Is this right?
Me: (scanning) Uh, yeah... (noticing an error) oh, wait - no, I'm not a male.
Nurse 2: Never?
Me: (wondering how to react, as they probably see lots of transgendered and transexual patients) Um, no.
Nurse 1: I thought so! Who put that in there? Who did your paperwork?
Me: Er...
Nurse 1: A male or a female?
Me: A guy.
Nurse 1: Umm-HMM. And you seeing Dr. W-. Well, after we done here, you just go down and wring his neck!
Nurse 2: Serious. How you going to see a GYNECOLOGIST when you are a male?
Me: Heh. Actually, you'd be surprised how often that mistake is made with me...
Nurse 1: Oh, NO! I took one look at you... you're BEAUTIFUL! What kind of fool is going to make that mistake? "Male"... hmph! When we done here, you go right down and make him correct this.
Nurse 2: For real. You look at her, you make a mistake like that? I was thinkin', "Damn! Who your surgeon is?"

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Darfurian Women Face Rejection After Rapes Make Them Pregnant



From Meteor Blades' diary on Daily Kos:

In the Darfur region of western Sudan, where the U.N. has proved incapable of protecting refugees from government-allied militias and continuing violation of the Abuja agreements yesterday spurred aid workers to flee, rape has been used as a tool of “ethnic cleansing.”


Read more here.

And to help, join Amnesty International here.

Beatify Me

I took this test to find out what world leader I most resemble: Naturally, Mother Teresa was a Virgo, too...

What leader are you?

R.I.P. Margaret Hassan

There is a special place on the other side for Margaret Hassan.

Hassan's sister has stated to the press that she believes Margaret's death was a result of the invasion of Iraq.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Friday Cat Blog on Wednesday

Because I'll be busy during the Thanksgiving holiday...

Yo ho! It is The Maya, looking most noble!

Monday, November 22, 2004

OCD - Ornament Collecting Disorder

I have a problem. Some of you may know that I tend to get a little... obsessive about whatever sparks my current interest. The interest may continue in a more latent form thereafter, but for a while there it gets all-consuming. There was the researching biblical apocrypha period, the PEZ dispenser collecting period, the Googie-Tiki period, and, of course, the e-bay period. Well, now the e-bay mania has reared its head again, but this it's in the service of a new fixation: Christmas tree decorations.

There's a valid reason for all this. After all, this is the first year that M and I will be celebrating the Winter holidays together in our own home, and thus we'll be decorating our first tree. We don't have much in the way of ornaments lying around, so we have to get some.

Then there's the fact that decorating a homey tree just makes me feel good. My family had the same types of lights, the same heirloom ornaments and the same beat-up pre-WWII wax and gold-foil angel for most of my childhood, and the older I got, the more my Mom made it my responsibility (and usually a welcomed one) to put on the lights, hang many ornaments, place just the right amount of tinsel just so and, as the youngest child, place the angel on top of the tree. Memories of doing this while listening to holiday music, sipping cocoa and munching on cookies are some of my fondest, and never fail to give me a warm, cozy, delightful inner glow. So, why not try to reproduce that in my own home?

Now, the thing is, they don't always make 'em like they used to, and if they do, they're expensive. I can live without modern tinsel so as not to have a bunch of cats using it as digestive tract floss. But I cannot countenance a tree with tacky cheap contemporary plastic ornaments, mini-lights and garland. Some tackiness is allowed, as long as it has a sort of retro-fabulous feel about it, but the over-all effect must be old-fashioned, diverse, warm and eclectic. So, I have settled on finding some Diamond Ray tin icicles to replace the tinsel, and will try to find some more modern C-7 indoor lights (to assauge M's fears about burning the house down... but I may have to buy some older ones if I can find the reproductions). But the ornaments - there's the rub. How to at least nearly duplicate a family collection that spans multiple decades of piece-by-piece collection in one fell swoop?

Well, I can't. The family collection will always be the family collection, and sacred enough in my mind that I cannot see myself raiding it for selected pieces and breaking up, much less without consulting with my mother and siblings (who might not actually give a rip, but I like to think it matters to them somewhat). And the best, most meaningful family collections are those that are chosen over time, with each piece having some emotional significance, aesthetic spark or story behind it. The stick-and styrofoam elf my sister made as a tot, carefully hung every year even as it is decomposing, the hand-painted pears and partridges my mom put together, the glass indents from way back when, even the snowflake made out of film-school outtakes I made cannot be replaced. Plus, to try to do so could be exceedingly time-consuming and expensive. So, I will do what I can.

First off, there's the ebay solution. While it is possible to find modern traditional blown glass ornaments, they tend to be expensive. Thus, I can really enjoy returning to Matt McGhee on Christopher Street year after year to bask in the twinkling reflections of hundreds of hand-made ornaments while humming to Handel's Messiah in the background, or even peruse the the designs of the diabolical Christopher Radko, who seems to have become the name in flashy, classic-style ornament "collectibles", but possibly find actual vintage ornaments in those styles at a much lower cost.

Secondly, there's the make-your-own option. My old roommate S and I had a great time several years back throwing a pajama party where everybody made ornaments out of crafts materials we provided, ate holiday treats and had a generally festive time of it. We don't think we'll have time to set up a party in time this year (plus there's always the friends-who-are-allergic-to-cats issue), but I do have some ideas in mind for a few arts and crafts of our own. I won't go into them here, because then M might read about them and I want them to be a surprise, but they could be fun. The question is will the combination of these two solutions be enough to satisfy my bring-back-my-childhood-with-glass-and-wood jones?

Maybe not. Living in the city, I can't exactly pour over local garage sales, and antique shops charge an arm and a leg, but I do think these two approaches will get me started (and, at the very least, amuse M and me as I utter a carol of exclamations and groans while trying to win an auction on particularly coveted pieces). Anyway, I do already have three things in my favour. An understanding partner (as always), a relationship that will, barring any unforseen circumstances, last the years and decades it takes to amass a truly spectacular collection and the fact that I have already purchase the Holy Grail of tree toppers. Are you ready to bow before its majesty? Here it is...

Happy Holidays!

Inside Iraq

Kevin Sites is a freelance combat correspondent who has recently been involved in some controversy over tapes he sent to NBC news. For an inside look on the issue and what it's like to be among the US soldiers in Iraq, check out his blog.

Cats, Ahoy!

The Carnival of the Cats is up, featuring Ms. Quan Yin and Ms. Maya.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Like Dominoes

… everything has been falling. WNET, the long-beloved NYC public television station, has rejected promotions for the movie Kinsey on the grounds that the film is too “provocative.” Clearly they are running scared in the face of the conservative right. Read the article here, and then write them an angry letter. Here’s the one I sent them this morning from their site:

As long-time viewers and previous supporters of WNET, we were appalled to learn that you have refused to air promotions for the movie "Kinsey" based on the "provocative" content of the film. Although we have never been a huge fan of the promotions that have crept into public broadcasting, we understand their necessity due to the current woeful lack of funding for stations such as yours. However, it is a sad day when WNET, the public television of New York City - the most open and diverse city in the world - becomes staid or afraid of the conservative complaints of a few on the far right of the political spectrum.

Are viewers and supporters supposed to sit through annoying car commercials to watch tepid, majority-approved fare? Or can we trust you to bring us what PBS has been known for: thoughtful, broad-spectrum treatments of diverse topics we can't see on network television? Your choices as to which promos you will air reflects the direction of your programming and, what's more, it suggests a creeping retreat in the face of prejudice against a demographic that has long been supportive of and contributed to your programming - the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Shame on you.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

What I'm Watching

Since the introduction of M's new TiVo, we've been recording programs like fiends. The TiVo is mostly overloaded with exercise programs from FitTV (we're trying to work off that after-vacation flab), but other than the occasional football game and movies we want to re-watch or catch up on (The Maltese Falcon, Into the Void, Camp, Aileen - Life and Death of a Serial Killer, Paris is Burning and the camp classic 70s version of Flash Gordon), a definite pattern of our current most-watched programs has emerged. Certain changes may come into play when shows like Six Feet Under, The L Word and Carnivàle return from hiatus, but here are my recent top picks:

1. The Amazing Race - Flat out the best "reality TV" show ever and the one we most fantasize about appearing on. Basically a haul-ass race around the world with 11 couples in various relationships (boyfriend/girlfriend, father/daughter, best friends) competing for a million dollars. With a bunch of exhausting extreme sport and brain teaser challenges thrown in, it never fails to be entertaining, frustrating, enlightening and superbly edited. The recent up-tick in selecting model/actors for the teams is irritating, and the Brooklyn team lost in the first round this season, but I highly recommend it. You can also find awesome recaps by the inimitable Miss Alli at Television Without Pity here.

2. The Daily Show, with Jon Stewart - Just what is all the media hub-bub about? Comedy gold, my friend. A satirical fake news show with just a dose more reality than The Onion, Stewart and his cohorts hit just the right note of humour mixed with actually useful political information, often with more than a soupçon of "can you believe what those numskulls are up to now?" incredulity and resignation thrown in. I tell you, my friends, I have been long known for my immunity to television comedy, but this one gets me laughing every time. How much do we love this show? M & I once waited in line in a NYC blizzard to sit in the audience. Just watch it.

3. Lost - An interesting take on the stuck-on-a-desert island scenario, wherein a group of plane crash survivors try to stay alive and understand the mysteries of the possibly magical jungle island they crashed on. While it has its faults, such as the usually too-pretty leads, horde of unnecessary line-less extras and sometimes ill-used and too frequent flashbacks, at it's best it can be almost as intriguing and foreboding as Carnivàle (only replace Anti-Christ-Sorcerous-Geek heebies with Creepy-Island- of-Dr. Moreau-type jeebies). This past week's episode was particularly riveting, as a former Iraqi Republican Guard officer faced a mysterious torturer. (Shiver...)

4. The West Wing - I know, I had actually given up on this show a while ago. Just as quality suffered when Joss Whedon went bye-bye from Buffy and Angel, TWW started a descent into awfulness with Aaron Sorkin's departure. But you know what? It seems to be back. The latest storyline, with former Press Secretary C.J. Cregg (played by smart-talkin' hottie Allison Janney) becoming the first female Chief of Staff, has been great fun. I don't have absolute faith in the show, but it is a bit of a balm to at least see a fictional president with humane, liberal values.

5. CBS News Sunday Morning - watching this is a venerable tradition I picked up from my dad. The rare television show that explores a range of stories from art exhibits to personal portraits to hard news with a deft and lyrical touch, it's almost as good as listening to NPR - and it's not even on PBS! Plus, the end portion nature scenes are so soothing...

6. Dead Like Me - technically, this isn't on our TiVo, as we've been watching it on Showtime On Demand, but it's one we really like. It's had some bumps in quality and continuity (what happened to gravelings being hard to see, the alternate faces of our reaper friends and only handling accidental deaths?), but this quirky, often snide dramedy with a heart of gold about people who die and have to stay on Earth helping other souls cross over is engaging and thought-provoking.

And that's the top 6. I'm not including Queer as Folk because M programmed that in, and I actually find it rather atrocious.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming...

We Are The World...

It seems some folks in Europe discovered sorryeverybody.com and decided to answer with this site. Awww...

Meanwhile, Back in the U.S....

12 Million families went hungry in the last year, according to a study by the Agriculture Department. Should we really be more worried about the chances of being hit by an airplane or experimenting with forcible nation-building when we and our government aren't feeding our own people?

“A Freedom of Killing”

A horrifying report from Baghdad by Dahr Jamail on the violent entry of US soldiers into a mosque during worship services.

I'm sure the military will claim this didn't happen, or that the mosque hid an "insurgent"* cell.

*FYI: in·sur·gent (in-sûrjent): adj.
1. Rising in revolt against established authority, especially a government.
2. Rebelling against the leadership of a political party.
n. One who is insurgent.
- doesn't there have to be a valid, recognized established authority or government to rebel against to be an insurgent?

Man on Hobbit Relations - Illegal in 50 Sates?

or "You Give Love A Bad Name"

In the "What the...?" moment of the week, I stumbled across the site of the Theban Band, a group who makes disturbingly realistic slash homoerotic pictures of movie and television characters (minus all that messy body hair, of course). Some of it is a bit pretty, in a romance novel cover kind of way, but I have to draw the line at say, Gimli getting down or some of the underage and incestuous stuff. If you are not faint of heart, or if you always wanted to see what a Sonny/Rico from Miami Vice sex scene might look like (and haven't we all, haven't we all?) check it out. It's guaranteed to give you a few uncomfortable moments and laughs.

Dude, You Are So Gay… I Mean, Such a Kinaidos

Word has it that the new Oliver stone pic about Alexander the Great actually depicts him as bisexual (quelle horreur!). Despite Warner Bros. insisting on cutting out many of the more provocative scenes (and a bunch of macho Greek lawyers trying to sue - nice try, macho Greek lawyers), it still remains to be seen how the public will react to it. The target audience for this sort of ancient-war movie is generally young hetero males. Will they go to it if they find out Alex plays for both teams? Or will the Warner trailers that avoid the subject fool them into a surprise?

I'm skeptical, but I'll probably go see it. Now let's see what Hollywood does with Brokeback Mountain...

Republicans Call for Privatization of Next Election

This would be funny, if it didn't seem all too plausible.

Retroactive Abortion Offers Hope

A painful-yet-funny rejoinder.

Negotiators Add Abortion Clause to Spending Bill

Fuck. What else can I say? Roe v. Wade is dying. God or whatever Higher Power bless Barbara Boxer, though.

Full story here.

Friday, November 19, 2004

"Heh" of the Day

Have you seen www.sorryeverybody.com (and the conservative version I won't post here)? Well, check this out: http://www.isfullofcrap.com/oldcrap/013715.html#013715

We All Are Anime

So, I found this odd Website where you can create little graphic "dolls" of different kinds. Despite being very limited in skin tone and body shape (it's made mainly for Korean girls), now you can see what you might look like as a fancy anime character.

Here's my beloved M and yours truly..

Symbolism carefully worked out!

Yes, I got work done today - why do you ask?

John Kerry: Not Just Sitting on His Ass

Whatever my criticisms of his campaign, good for him for keeping up the good fight.

Oh, Grow Up!

An interesting take on what's wrong with the administration: they're all emotional infants!

Bush's Echo Chamber

Dear Bushies

The administration you voted for is now going to reduce airport security and continue to destroy US economic power. Unconvinced? Check these out:

Dollar Dump Accelerates


US Airports Heart Terrorists, or, "Have They Forgotten?"

Friday Cat Blog

Got a black magic kitty...

After this photo, Quan Yin caught up on her reading.

"What do you mean you can't find the remote?"

Maya says "I have no idea what you're talking about - or why the TiVo is set to record all bird shows all the time."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

TiVo Mania!

Well, we celebrated the lovely M's birthday this past weekend, and it was a great success. Brunch was great, the company better, and Marci was delighted with her gifts, especial the group-funded TiVo unit with a year's subscription.
Let me tell you folks, she hasn't stopped doing the happy dance yet, except to get in a wrestling match with me for the remote control. I made sure to get her an 80-hour model, but we're going to fill it up very shortly with all the stuff we're recording (try 4-7 workout shows a day, to begin with - such abs we'll have!). I'm sure the excitement will slow to a simmer and we'll better prioritize as time goes by, but in the meantime it's a party with every "boop-boop!" or "bong!" the TiVo utters.

Next stop, I'm sure, will be getting a new cable modem so we can connect the thing to our cable line (and remove the phone connection we keep tripping over) and then, who knows? A DVD recorder? Note for Christmas...

Anyway, thanks for all who came and/or contributed, and we missed those who couldn't make it. M had an awesome time, and loves her presents. You rock! She loved the red velvet cake, too. I rock! We all rock! WHOOOOOOO!

Alright, that's enough of that, now...

So, What's New?

Alberto Gonzalez is a right-wing guard dog, Condi Rice is a liar and Tom DeLay gets a free pass.

So... very... tired...

Overheard Conversation of the Week

Strolling down 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, I passed a local comic shop. A little girl was peering in the window and pointing something out to her dad (or other male caretaker).

Dad: "...Robin? Who's that?"
Little Girl: "Yeah."
Dad: "He's Batman's partner. They fight crime together."

He may have meant partner in fighting crime, but the way he said it? Sounded like a different kind of partner to me...

Monday, November 15, 2004

Question of the Day

Does Colin Powell have any dignity left? Discuss.

Dept. of Disinformation

Bush has ordered a purge of anyone in the CIA deemed "disloyal" to the administration or a "liberal democrat." Why should the leader of a "free" nation be accountable for what's going on in Iraq? Heck, why should anyone know about it, when he can just keep it under wraps and rev up the propaganda/spin machine? This is not good, kiddies. Leaks and questions from the CIA are one of the few ways we know the truth of what's going on over there. Next thing you know, he's going to be commanding them all to goose-step...

Lace Up, Gran'paw...

The military is getting awfully desperate for bodies to throw at Iraq...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Dean in 2008?

"Dean again sounded very much like a candidate in proclaiming 'We don't need two Republican parties, and as long as I'm around we won't!...Some say we must move more toward the middle...if we move any further to the middle, we'll fall off the edge of the flat earth', he declared."

READ THIS NOW!

I dare you to read this article without declaring "Bill Moyers for president... AND pope!"

Democracy in the Balance
How do we nurture the healing side of religion over the killing side? How do we protect the soul of democracy against bad theology in service of an imperial state?
by Bill Moyers

Dear Shrub

An oldie but goodies that's been floating around the internet...
Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said, "in the eyes of God, marriage is based on a relationship between a man a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. I have heard that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. What do you think would be a fair price for her? I'm pretty sure she's a virgin.

3. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

4. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him, or should I ask the police to do it?

5. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there "degrees" of abomination?

6. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room?

7. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they be put to death?

8. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean. May I still play football if I wear gloves?

9. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging. It must be really great to be on such close terms with God and his son,
...even better than you and your own Dad, eh?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Friday Cat Blog

An oldie but a goodie...

... or "why can't I be home & cozy, too, right now?"

“Callous Conservatism"? We Can Do Better Than That...

The Rockridge Institute, a thinktank that includes in its goals the reframing the terms of political debate, has come up with a theory that the right uses "Orwellian language" because it is weak. That is "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain - we are the great and terrible Oz!" Or great and chummy-enough-to-have-a-beer-with Oz, as the case may be.

It's an interesting article, but their alternative suggestions for replacing wingnut catch phrases like "compassionate conservatism" and "Clear Skies initiative, " fall a little short, IMHO. Using something like “Dirty Skies initiative" only sounds like a peevish rejoinder your prepubscent brother would use in a backseat argument. ("I said Adam Ant is cool!" "You mean 'Adam Ant's a fool!' <Snicker-nyark-nyark!>") And irony doesn't always work, either. Trying to make the SDI sound far-fetched by calling it "Star Wars" only made it sound cool. So how about we just call "Clear Skies" "Life-Choking Bullshit" and be done with it? Or are we still trying not to "go negative"? 'Cause that worked so well in the last campaign...

Go Away, John Stossel Dept.

Apparently, ABC's 20/20 is planning an investigation of Matthew Sheppard's murder that airs his killers' new claims that it was just a "mugging gone wrong." So what happened to the "gay panic" defense they used in their trials?

What's more, according to the NY Post:
The interviews apparently violate the plea agreements the two men signed at their sentencing. According to reports, the men agreed never to talk to the media about the case as part of the agreement that spared them the death penalty.


So what the holy hand grenade is going on here?

ABC News is totally irresponsible for giving these cold-hearted killers airtime on a subject that is not only no longer relevant to their cases (except in that it should result in further punishment for them), but can only whip anti-gay types into a furor over the "homosexual agenda" and the use of hate crime laws. Their claims that "Exploring and re-examining the facts around that murder in a very thoughtful and in-depth way is the very essence of responsible journalism," ring hollow. This is right wing yellow journalism at its most heinous. In masking their agenda by implying that they are just trying to give Aaron McKinney and Russell A. Henderson a voice - a voice which they could have used in their initial trials, if they didn't think the gay panic defense was more expedient - and expose some sort of Laramie "drug underground," they are just trying to put a pretty face on sensationalism.

Is this what it's come to, now? After 11 anti-gay marriage ballots passed and the Republicans' gains in the election, is it now fair game to pick apart the murder of Matthew Sheppard, an innocent victim who united the country in our shock and sympathy and opened middle America's eyes to the lethal ubiquity of homophobia and hatred?

Dark times, indeed. I hope to see the clouds someday lift.

Oh, and John Stossel? I'm not sure if he's involved in this one, but doesn't it sound like just his speed? Even if he isn't, I'll take any opportunity to tell him to go away.

Last Letters Home

In addition to the link in my last post to the soldiers' letters printed in the NY Times, here's a link to the HBO documentary on the same subject.

M & I watched it last night. It is guaranteed to make you cry and, for those of us who believe sending our troops over there was a mistake, doubly torturous for the feeling that these young people may have died unnecessarily.

As painful as it is to watch, however, I would recommend all Americans take the time to see it. For us left-wing peaceniks, it may help us to better understand and commiserate with the soldiers and their families, and why they participate in the military. For those right of center, it might bring home to them to terrible costs of this war, even while the administration does its best to suppress information about how badly it is going.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veterans Day

They didn't have to be there - they didn't have to die. Read their words in the NY Times.

I Demand a Recount!

Or, at least, Nader does, in NH. Here's a fuller scoop on what's going down in OH (apparently, the new hot target for "the terrorists") and NH.

I Can Sing a Rainbow...

For those of you who were kvetching, I've brightened the colours for my links and headers. Hope this helps.

January Surprise?

The Kerry folks are looking into the votes in Ohio and the Greens and Libertarians are trying to get a recount.

Hmmm...

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

And Now, Back to the Raging...

Think the right wing only wants to end abortion? Think again.

Do You Know What Today Is?

As the song goes, "it's our anniversary." That's right, today (and tomorrow, there's a running debate about this) is the anniversary of M and my first date - the beginning of our life together. We've been through so much together, but it's still hard to believe it's been four years. I am so grateful for our relationship.

When M discovered me (and stalked me, but that's another story), I had come to a point in my life where I was so discouraged that I felt I was probably just "not meant" to ever have another person love me in the way she does. I had long been a romantic, but after years of hurt and disappointment I began to question whether healthy, loving, respectful, long-term, monogamous and stimulating relationships were possible. Well, now I know they are.

So, thank you, Universe, and thank you, my beloved Marci. I'm not feeling very eloquent right now, but I hope this will help to convey my feelings:

For her gait if she be walking,
Be she sitting I desire her
For her state's sake, and admire her
For her wit if she be talking:
Gait and state and wit approve her;
For which all and each I love her.

Be she sullen, I commend her
For a modest; be she merry,
For a kind one her prefer I.
Briefly, everything doth lend her
So much grace and so approve her
That for everything I love her.

- William Browne

An Open Letter to Canada

Dear Canada,

Please invade us. The USA clearly presents a threat to you as our neighbouring nation, a threat that has already begun to spread to the rest of the world. Our megalomaniacal leader has attacked sovereign nations and occupied lands, killed, tortured and held prisoners in violation of the Geneva conventions and set up a fundamentalist regime through intimidation and subterfuge. His plans include further subjugation of minorities, women and the poor and escalating production of the most lethal weapons of mass destruction - weapons which we already have more of than anybody else in the world. Clearly, we are a dangerous power and force of terror.

However, there is some good news. We're weak at home right now, with our troops strung out in extended deployments overseas. A sizable number of our people might welcome you. We may be willing not only to submit, but even to symbolically topple any statues or monuments to the tyrannical party in power.

So, come on down, Canada, and "democratize" us. We cannot be a free country without the basic benefits and rights you enjoy, like universal health care, multiple party representation and marriage for all citizens regardless of gender - not to mention free speech and free elections! The only reasons not to do so are the bloodshed, death and horror it would cause, the condemnation of other nations you would face and the fact that to invade another country for your own purposes while professing to represent its population's best interests would be the wrong thing to do. But hey - details, details. If we can do it, why not you?

Yours sincerely and in hope,

49% of the Population of the United States

See? They Don't Want Us, Anyway

Check out the right-wing call fore a "Declaration of Expulsion."

Is Shrub the Antichrist?

You know, I was idly toying with this idea this morning, and now have discovered that, of course, somebody has created a website - and even a book! - about it.

Of course, some fundamentalists probably wouldn't mind the idea. Hey, whatever brings armageddon closer...

Scatological Humour Dept.

Last night we discovered that Queen Maya, the High and Mighty, must have found and ingested some rubber bands. How did we know this? Because she suddenly came skip-hopping through the room yowling and twisting with a turd attached to her rear end in a fashion much like this:


After we'd recovered from the explosive laughter and the comical chase and removal bit, M asked me to have a talk with Maya sometime. I'm not sure warning her she could choke will be effective, but we are willing to compromise. She will be allowed to lick plastic and give herself that ugly chacne as much as she likes without us taking if from her if she agrees not to ingest any further foreign objects or wake us with the crinkling. I am arranging a space at Camp David for us to begin our negotiations.

Thus we amuse ourselves.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Have You Seen This?

More irreverent, sometimes over-the-top humour at whitehouse.gov. The acceptance speech and posters are highlights.

Now, That's Not Very Nice...

It may be funny, but it's not nice...


"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
--H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

The Holy Trinity

Not everybody knows it, but I loves me some breakfast cereal. I am not kidding. I. LOVE. IT. The only person who may rival me in this aspect is Jerry Seinfeld. Nevertheless, in our carb-condemning times, I have done my best to limit the amount of cereal, and pre-sweetened cereal in particular, that I consume. However, once in a while you've just gotta have it, and a little over a week ago was one of those onces... in a while.

Why a little over a week ago ? Because it was Halloween, my friends. Not only was it a time for sweets and chocolate, but it was a time when all the monster cereals they still make were available. So, I got me some Count Chocula, the most classic of the monster cereals, and thoroughly enjoyed it, both for breakfast and dessert. There's something about the combination of chocolate, not-quite-"marshmallows" and a goofy cartoon vampire that just gets me right where I live. I've had a fascination with vampires, cartoons and chocolate since I was a kid (especially since Mom didn't let us have sweetened cereals), so I guess that all figures. Ol' Chocula may have changed a lot over the years, but he is still the cereal mascot closest on the borderline to eeeee-viiiiiilll.


Unless you count that crazy Kaboom clown, I guess.

(shudder...)

Anyway, I enjoyed eating my cereal, and playing the game that came on the back of the box, but little did I know there was more out there. Yes, that's right, I give you the sweetened cereal Holy Grail.

I was so upset to learn this existed, yet was not stocked in our local stores, that I nearly wept. Steve's C-Town C-Town C-To..? Are you listening to me? Next year, I'd better see this majestic combination in effect or there will be a protest.

That is all.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Go Big Blue! ... or ...Not.

So, I went to my first professional football game last night. Thanks to my pal Cathy, I got a free ticket to go with her to the Giants/Bears game at the Meadowlands. Needless to say - but then why am I saying it? - I was pretty excited.

Now, some of you may know that I enjoy watching pro football on TV, and that the Giants have been my home team from way back, even if I haven't always loved the roster at the time. (Kerry Collins? Puh-lease.) But you probably don't know what a bummer it's been since my friend Lee left the big city, and I discovered that NOT ONE of my friends had the slightest bit of interest in football. In fact, most of them harbour an active dislike of it. Including my beloved M, who, thankfully, has grown to be at least accepting of my need to catch a game now and then.

So, you can imagine how stoked I was to find out that not only did Jessy's gf Cathy, who I haven't had a chance to get to know very much yet, not only likes football (she did come to watch the Super Bowl with us last year, although Jessy and M were blatantly bored with the whole thing), but had free tickets to see the Giants! As my dear friend the Kool-Aid pitcher once said, "Oh yeeeaaaahhhh!"

Anyway, we met at Port Authority, which has been cleaned up considerably since the old days, and boarded the bus for the stadium. Let me just pause to tell you that the ride to and from Giants stadium on NJ Transit? Cheap, clean and unbelievably fast. If you are thinking of driving out there, don't do it. You may have to wait on line at the end of the game to catch the bus back, but unless it's pouring or freezing out, it's totally worth it.

At the stadium, although other people were getting patted down, I was deemed non-frisk worthy (should've brought them chickens, man!) but card-worthy for a beer, which is not surprising, having caucasian skin and a face like a Cabbage Patch doll. That beer, like everything else, was woefully overpriced, though that didn't stop me from buying way too many artery-clogging snacks. Not that I expected anything to be cheap - I know how these things work. I just didn't expect to get so damn ravenous. I think that screaming and being outside, combined with the smell of frying grease, just overstimulates the hunger center of one's brain. That, and maybe being out from under the eye of my semi-vegan, healthy significant other for a few hours. And subliminal messaging. Yeah, that's the ticket.

So, we settled in for the game with some refreshments and a bit of banter with the folks around us, including Giants and Bears fans. Everyone was quite friendly, no matter what side they were rooting for - probably because if you can somehow get tickets to the usually-sold-out-for-generations Giants stadium, you're feeling pretty good. Or maybe it was the MSG. Anyway, our view looked something like this:


Except for, like, a lot more people in it. We actually could see more just by, you know, turning our heads, but you get the idea. I had thought from watching television that we'd be so far back the players would look like little ants, but it was a surprisingly clear and close view of everything we needed to see, especially with binoculars and jumbtrons as back-up.

I took a minute to take in the stunning sunset over New Jersey that streaked the clouds bright red, and watch the 9 million gulls soar by (all gathered there to raid the tail gate parties or the stands afterwards - glad I'm not Tippi Hedren), and then called up my brother to gloat.
"Hey, Andy. Guess where I'm calling you from?"
"Uh, I dunno."
"Giants Stadium!"
"You suck!

He tried to show me up by saying he has DirecTV NFL season pass and TiVO, but I'm not buying.

After that, we watched the players run back off the field only to make a big show of running back on the field (who started all that?), listened to a Marine core officer Whitney-fy the hell out of the national anthem, and then began the game. Which went pretty much like this:


I mean, I'm used to it. The only pro games I've been to in the past featured the NY Liberty, who also tend to lead in the beginning and then fail miserably, and The Mets, which...you know. Still, I couldn't help wondering if I hadn't brought my own little piece of bad luck there to the home team. I mean, Kurt Warner looked blind out there. I don't know what happened. I'm telling you, I'm not the kind of person to say "I could have done better than him," because I couldn't. It's obvious I'd be killed or maimed for life. But somebody could have. Or, at least, Warner on a good day. Maybe. Sigh.

Of course, my beloved Tiki looked like this.

Oops! I meant, like this:


And yes, I think Jeremy Shockey is an over-rated redneck, why do you ask?

So that was my experience. Not so good for the tummy, but a really great time. It's true what they say, that you just can't duplicate the feeling of seeing the game in person elsewhere. Heck, if I could sit through the Mets... well, you get the idea.

So, if anyone else gets any tickets to another Giants or Jets game and wants to take me, I'm there. In the meantime, it's back to hiding my snacks and watching games on televsion by myself. In the corner. In the dark.

WTF Link of the Day

I don't know who this guy is, but he cracked me up.

Monday Link Mania!

For your convenience, cherry-picked articles of possible interest (at least to me, anyway).

1. Revenge of the Maps
I may be verging on having more map links here than National Geographic, but what can I say? They present so many ways to interpret the election in brief. Here's one of the best yet - and quite pretty, as well.


2. Pretty self explanatory
...although he didn't include a good grilled cheese sandwich.
17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists...by Michael Moore

3. Not That I Am One, But...
This one is interesting. An exploration of what it means to have strong Christian beliefs but not support the right wing administration.
No Longer a Christian

4. War Games
This will not only interest those of us who have a modicum of computer experience, but our friends who are conspiracy theorists, as well!
Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked

5. It's Alright to Cry...
Mourn and Organize

6. They Sure Know How to Support Our Troops Dept.
Here's one where the Army's trying to ship out a guy who's been out of active duty for 13 years, and yet another case where the U.S. military has been punishing a woman for having the nerve to get raped.

7. Back to Slitting Your Wrists, Again?
Okay , let's take a break with the Carnival of Cats - this week featuring a member of my own feline family!

Cheers...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

What's In A Pronoun?

OK, as Bill Maher would start, New Rules:
All animals, particularly home companions, should be referred to as "him," "her," "who" and "whom," rather than "it" and "that." For people who truly love their animals, this should not be a difficulty, as they already regard them as thinking, feeling individuals - much of the time, anyway. However, many people who do love their pets, to a degree, still think of them as vastly mentally and emotionally inferior to humans, and those who do not care for animals at all generally see them as little more than objects. Let's face it, as soon as we find out what gender even a fetus is, most of us define it as "she" or "who", and the animals in our lives have at least as much cognizance as a zygote (unless you are of the opinion that only humans have spirits or thought processes and animals are purely mechanical/instinctive, which theory I may address further later).

If we are to promote fair and humane treatment of animals, changing peoples' perspectives just a little by making this simple switch could do a lot towards making them perceive all creatures as just a little bit more "human", and thus worthy of consideration. Even the act of having to pause a moment and consider what gender an animal might be in order to say "he" or "she" switches one's train of thought towards differentiating them from others of their kind, as well as towards seeing them as living beings rather than objects.

A small thing, perhaps, but try it. Let's see what happens.

Go Back and Live in Your Log Cabin

Oy! So, Trio, aka The Gayest Network Ever, is showing an original documentary on gay republicans. I just caught about a half an hour of it and, mercifully, had to go do some work before it was over. My question is: are these people mentally ill?

I know that sounds derogatory, but in the light of the recent agendas that won out on Black Tuesday, it's actually a serious and valid question. People may put forth that they are Republican because it is supposed to be the "fiscally conservative" and "small government" party, but if you're looking at how the government has been run and how the deficit has exploded during das Regime des Strauchs, you have to be seriously delusional to believe the GOP still represents these "values." The "values" they do represent are now social conservatism - i.e. down with faggots and up with the fundamentalist oligarchy - and helping big business get bigger and rich people get richer. Even if you are a rich gay person, how can you ignore the fact that the Republican leaders have not just been "taken over" by the right wing Christian conservatives, but embraced them? And, if you are a gay person and you just do not care that the majority of the party you're in thinks you're sick and should be cured, killed or disappear? You, my friend, clearly have some self-loathing issues to work on. Please start expressing your masochism with good old-fashioned B/D and S/M and stop taking it out on the rest of the country, mmkay? Thank you.

Man... I think we're going to have to officially rename Autumn as "Season of the Rants"...

Why Edinburgh?

One inventive American lass advertised for asylum on craigslist edinburgh. Heh.

Friday, November 05, 2004

How Much Is The Shipping On That?

One fed up NYer tried to sell his citizenship on ebay.

Make Love To The Camera

If you like evocative photos of my beloved NYC like I do, check out this site. Good stuff.

Mass Exodus

Are the piddly% of Republicans in New York City going to wake up one day soon and echo that famous commercial line, " where is everybody?"

(Thanks to J'Ang for the tip.)

Fall Reading

I actually woke up feeling a little less apoplectic today - or at least more resigned. I'll now turn my attention to something other than Black Tuesday.

As the chill winds blow most of the leaves away (and I pout over the disappointing lack of vivid colours in the foliage this year), a young woman's mind turns to reading. There's nothing I like better than snuggling up with a good book on a blustery day, unless it's snuggling up with a good book, several cats and my naked girlfriend, with a crackling fire and a glass of mulled wine close at hand. I'll take as many of those at once as I can get.

Anyway, the only problem with this is that I often have far too little time to devote to this indulgence. Usually I have a pile of magazines I'm working through (copies of The New Yorker, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Natural History and Wildlife Conservation that I receive regularly, in addition to individual editions of The Nation, Harper's, the NY Times Magazine or assorted others M or I pick up), not to mention occasional newspapers, preofessional newsletters, Television Without Pity recaps and multiple blogs and Internet sites and groups I try to keep up on. Combine that "light" reading with two jobs, a relationship and a NY lifestyle, and there's not a lot of time to dedicate to luxuriating in a fine novel. I am hoping to shuffle my priorities as Winter approaches, however, and give myself a little more allowance to engaging in the pastime I so enjoy.

Now, for those of you who have seen my Amazon wish list, I'm not lacking for entertaining books, graphic novels and games I'd like to peruse. But, as it is, I have a pile of books by my bed that I'm working on reading. As of this writing, it includes:

1. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
I just started reading this one, and I have great hopes for it. Being a fantasy buff and having grown up on 19th century English tales, this is just the kind of book I like to escape into on a dark, cold day, and it's received great reviews. We shall see if it lives up to them, but so far so good.

2. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
I've actually been poking through this on and off for some months. It is quite a fun read, despite the overwhelming intended scope and what I feel is the misleading nature of the title (it's really more a short history of old white male scientists and their theories). The difficulty is not only that it is not as engaging or distracting as a novel, during a time when I really need to be engaged and distracted (what with Black Tuesday, and all), but that there are parts of it where my mind is so filled or terrified that I need to put it down for a spell. You try reading the statistics on how very likely it is that a giant meteor could destroy life as we know it at any moment and see if you don't have to wander off and watch I Love The 80s for a while.

3. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus
I actually gave up on this one a while back. It was interesting at first, and seems like it could be really engaging, but... it fizzled. It's unusual that I actually put down a book part-way through and don't re-open it, so it's bit disconcerting. I keep leaving it there, stumbling over it and thinking "should I give you another chance? Nah... not right now." Then I leave it there to stumble over later.

4. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
I was stuck in a train station late at night and in a very grim mood when I bought this, but I'd also heard it's terrific . I do like this sort of morbid, semi-scientific investigative prose, but I have to be in the right mood for it. Some days I'll find it intriguing and funny, and others, just creepy and depressing. We'll see when the mood hits.

5. Magical Thinking : True Stories by Augusten Burroughs
M bought this one and found it wonderful. I have to say I did enjoy his first two books, but not as much as she did, and I liked the first one better than the second. I do find Burroughs to be a little too desperate for attention at times - like David Sedaris as an NYU drama student, if you will - but he can hit a groove now and then. I do plan to read this one soon.

6. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight : An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller
Been meaning to read this one for months. Again, heard it was great, was intrigued by the subject matter, but a little afraid that the dramatic moments might catch me on a sensitive day.

7. Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts From the Heart of America by Garrison Keillor
My dad sent me this one, but I was curious about it anyway. I really enjoy A Prairie Home Companion, although I've found some of his fiction a bit disappointing. He was very good on Bill Maher's show, so I have high hopes.

8. Learning Their Language: Intuitive Communication with Animals and Nature by Marta Williams
I keep poking through this at various times, mostly for professional reasons, although it never hurts to pick up a few pointers. I'm finding I'm having trouble slogging through yet another book on animal communication, though. Not because I think it's bad - just because I've read so many and spend so much time actually doing animal communication! I'm sure there's some buried jealousy in there, too, lurking about. People keep suggesting I write a book on AC, and I think to myself "do we really need yet another one out there?" Who knows, though. Maybe Maya will make me do it.

9.Exporting America : Why Corporate Greed Is Shipping American Jobs Overseas by Lou Dobbs
Another one my dad gave me. I'm not so gung-ho on this one, because I have mixed feelings about the whole job-exportation controversy, but I'll give it a shot. Maybe it will help me understand the situation better. As it is, while I'm not pleased about giant corporations exploiting other countries' workers and taking away American jobs, if those other workers can do just a good a job or better and it's going to improve their standard of living, I can't argue that it's not fair just because "Americans deserve better than they do," waah-waah-waah, boo freakin' hoo. We'll see what it says.

So, that's my current list. What do you think it says about me? More importantly, what are you-all reading? Send me your lists, and discuss.

Hangin' By A Chad... (2004 Remix)

For those of you still wondering what's going on in vote counting-land...

Keep hope alive?

Friday cat blog!


Maurice, of the glowing eyes

I am coming to get you - with my cuteness!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Old Grey Lady

MoDo and Friedman sound off.

And this article demonstrates what it feels like to be a NYer after the election.

See? We're Just One Big Happy...

This graphic and explanation found here shows how off the "red and blue states" monikers are...


This is consoling, in a way (except that, in light of the recent wave of anti-gay-marriage voting, most of the country would rather not be portrayed as purple). It looks as though the majority of the country is more centrist than divided.

However, the truth lies more in concentration of population. As the other map the article links to shows, Kerry's wins amounted to very small land areas packed with the most people - i.e. urban areas - whereas rural counties overwhelmingly voted Shrub.

So, we're still stuck in city mice vs. country mice, are we? The small farmer is not dead - in fact, he should be rubbing his hands and cackling, considering these figures - he controls the government.

However, with the right wing's environmental and birth control policies, it won't be too many ages before our population is so high and spread out that everywhere will be an urban strip mall, so maybe the pendulum will swing! Or maybe we'll all be dead. Keep watching...

Ooh, I Hear Laughter in the Rain...

Go read The Onion. It'll make you feel better.

They Really Hate Us, Part II

More proof that the Bush win was less about national security and the economy than kicking some faggot ass.

Hypothetical survey for Middle Americans:

Would you rather?
a) kick Osama bin Laden's ass
b) kick some faggot ass
c) kick Jane Fonda's ass

Discuss.

Top Ten Ways the DNC Can Stage a Comeback:

10. Move Howard Dean down to Texas, where he develops a funny accent and swagger. Run ad campaign insisting he's just a good ol' regular boy from down home on the ranch. Teach him about ten words in Spanish and do a photo op at a NASCAR race. Must utter the word "God" at least twice in each speech.

9. Start "disappearing" key fundamentalists. Instigate rumours that the rapture has begun. Hire a guy who looks like Jesus to appear with special effects. Tell the followers that The Kingdom is somewhere in Siberia.

8. Recruit candidates from reality show contestants. Country may get behind "President Rupert" or Dennis Kucinich - EXTREME MAKEOVER!

7. Campaign to replace American Eagle with Coors Twins.

6. Release "discovered" video from "hotel cam" of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove engaged in homosexual acts.

5. Ditto Osama bin Laden and Ashcroft.

4. Free gun and Bible with every vote!

3. Two words: Mind Ray.

2. George Soros buyout of Walmart and Cracker Barrel.

and the number 1 way for the DNC to stage a comeback:

Tell the fucking truth about what the administration is doing to to our country!!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I Might As Well Have Saved My Breath

Because a friend emailed me this, and it pretty much says it all.



Heh.

Okay, we now return you to your regularly scheduled thoughtful pacifism...

S-E-C-E-S-S-I-O-N… Secession!

Come on, some of you must have been thinking it, looking at that electoral map. Isn’t it interesting that our country still seems to be divided roughly along similar lines as during the civil war?

We – meaning us left-to-center Democratic Northeasterners – are the evil cultural élite to them, and they – the right-to-center Republican Southerners and Midwesterners - are the backwards Podunk County Players to us. A generalization? Yes. But just look at the divide: the right, and by this I mean cultural, economic and religious, tends to look at the left as pathetically ungodly. The left tends to look at our Southern and Western fundamentalist brethren as pathetically ignorant. In all seriousness, are ever the twain to meet?

I don’t know. And maybe that’s part of “what makes this country great”: the allowed variance of opinion and expression. But more and more it seems like another civil war is going on, this time ideological, and the struggle is less to understand and compromise with one another than to wrest the power from the other side and wield it over them as effectively as possible. What’s more, this civil war has spread to the world, allowing a government endorsed by perhaps half the people (or voters, anyhow) to invade countries and kill in the name of “our values,” which seem neither particularly shared nor ethical at this juncture. The Bush administration took a loss by popular vote and turned it into an unquestionable mandate last time. What will they do now? Imperialism at home and abroad?

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day outside today in NYC – the world (if not my heart) does go on. Even though I’m feeling mighty low right now due to the election results, I recognize that I am still fortunate and I can still, as this excellent missive points out, fight another day. Still, as I noticed the stunned silence that pervaded the subway crowds this morning, and then tried in vain to comprehend what an extremely animated Russian cabbie was trying to explain to me about how it was a good thing that Shrub won (something about nuclear arms in Iran? and cowboys in the old West? or maybe it was that the results of further escapades by the right wing administration will finally turn the country hard to the left? but only God can save us? I honestly don’t know), can you blame me for wondering if the majority of people will ever truly understand each other? And honestly, are these states really united?

I’d move to Canada, but then I’d have to take a position on a free Québec.

The Morning After...

... still in fetal position...

They Hate Us, They Really Hate Us

Well, gay marriage bans have won out, at this time, in 10 of 11 states. I’m not sure what more there is to say. Most Americans hate gay people. Love the sinner but hate the sin? I think not. Even those who say they support civil unions but not marriage for gay people, what does that mean? That we can have all of or most of the same rights, but not use the word “marriage”? Does that make any sense? That we can’t force churches to perform our weddings? That, despite the fears of the ignorant, was never a possibility or the issue. The issue is that even these folks simply think of us as defective, if not evil, and want us to go away. Despite any professions that they have gay friends and think it’s okay for us to … you know… as long as we keep quiet about it and don’t get to have the same marriage license that they do, it clearly means that they think we are less than they are, and that somehow the existence of our relationships is sick and a threat to their own, somehow. Pathetic.

So, they still hate us. After all the giddiness of Canada and Vermont and Massachusetts and San Francisco (whoops, not any longer!) and Hawai’i (well, it never got that far) we now have to recognize that if gay marriage is going to become a reality in the US of A, it’s not going to come quickly or easily. Not that I’ve given up hope. I truly believe that it can happen – by court rule or social sea change – within my lifetime. But I’m beginning to despair that if it does it won’t be before I’m looking at life from the other side of middle age.

We shall overcome… someday…?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Ulceration... I mean, Democracy in Action

M & I took the day off today to try to get some freakin' rest and relaxation. All morning I felt like I'd been run over by a sanitation truck and dragged - just dog tired, sore all over and super sensitive and cranky. After saying goodbye to our houseguests and catching some extra Zs, we exercised our consitutional rights (or 19th amendment, anyway) at our new polling place. I expected to work myself up into a froth, since M said that the new place was a church and had Jesus swag right up front when you were trying to vote, but after some encouraging polital discussion with some locals we know who were coming in, my mind was on other things. I will say this, however: that church, on 12th between 4th and 5th? The gymnasium would make an excellent loft. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, one of our acquaintances outside had mentioned that she'd heard reports of people going in and out at some polls and voting several times under the names of people they knew who were not voting, and looking at the folks who were hired to run this shindig, I was not surprised that people could get away with it. Besides the usual elderly ladies, there were a couple that seemed a few pegs short of a Lite Brite picture, if you know what I'm saying. Nevertheless, they are civil servants, and are working long hours for very little to help us carry out our rights, as M pointed out, so Buddha bless 'em.

Am I the only one who checks that I pushed the right levers several times and kind of freaks out when I pull that big handle and everything disappears with a big ka-CHUNK? No? Moving on...

I noticed M was in there a long time, and when she got out I told her how my Dad used to joke "I don't want to see any dancin' in there," and how this referred to voter intimidation in past decades, whereby party bosses could tell if you were cherry-picking cross-party if you shuffled around in the booth. M told me she was checking her votes over and over (a-HA!) and also talking with her Poppie, who passed earlier this year. She said she used to talk to him every election day, as he was the one who had taught her how important it is to vote. I'm sure he's smiling on the other side at her every day.

We took a lovely walk through the park, which was showing off some spectacular Fall colours, despite the passing of grey clouds fairly often. It sure is nice to be able to take a day off and just walk amongst the falling leaves, stopping to watch the ducks or listen to a waterfall in our own mini-forest. We both agreed that we are truly, truly fortunate. Then I hugged a tree for a while - yes, literally - and headed home, gathering leaves to put in our kitchen table centerpiece on the way.

So here we are, some private time and some nice napping later, and M is starting to freak out. It's nigh about 7 PM, and the first results and predictions are starting to come in. I am still trying to hold on to the relaxation, refusing to turn on the television or concentrate on what are way too early returns to invest my emotions in. Fortunately, we stopped and picked up the new Star Wars trilogy set, so we can distract ourselves with the epic story of the noble rebels defeating the evil empire. Appropriate, yes? But I'd better get in there, because M is inching towards the television, and saying things like "maybe we can only watch just a couple of the extras... the short ones... and then turn on the news."

My bile is starting to rise already. It's going to be a long, long night.

Keep the faith...

Monday, November 01, 2004

I Miss Halloween

...not because it just passed, but because it has changed so much. First of all, things are very different here in da big city of the aughts than they were in my 70s-80s little city and suburban youth.

When my age group went trick or treating, we went from door to door (with an occasional cut through a park, alley or cornfield), and although the old "watch out for razorblades in the apples" rumour had already come into fashion, by a certain age we were allowed to go by ourselves. Here in NYC, that's generally not done. As in much of the suburbs, parents have become too paranoid to let their kiddies beg from anonymous strangers in unknown apartments or houses by themselves, so the children are accompanied by adults. This seems to be true even for kids who, on most late, dark nights, are allowed to run through the streets yelling their fool heads off and buying as much junk food and candy as they can find. Odd.

Secondly, not only are they escorted, but kids do not visit other buildings on their street. They either visit pre-approved apartments in their building whose residents have signed up for giving out candy (and more and more this is becoming too "inconvenient" for many adults to participate in, making one wonder when Halloween is going to earn a literary equivalent of Scrooge to personify this stinginess. I mean, since when is it NOT FUN to give out candy?) or they go to the local strip of small merchants and trick-or-treat there.

Now, trick-or-treating at pharmacies, bodegas and 99-cent stores has always struck me as a little weird and sad. I mean, there's a big difference between getting a homemade cookie and some quality chocolates from the nice little old lady down the street and getting some crumbly, bottom-of-the-barrel gum from the pimply-faced plumbing supply cashier. But, even worse, this year I witnessed increasing incidents of children trick-or-treating without wearing any costumes at all. That's right, kids in their street clothes, without so much as a mask or cheap plastic smock on were walking into sneaker stores, holding out their plastic bags, and getting candy for nothing. No effort, no creativity, not even a threat of egging. Some of them weren't even saying "trick-or-treat!"

My friends, it is time for this to stop. I don't know if it is in the name of respecting diversity, religious intolerance or even related to low income, but the bar has been lowered too far. The rule is, and shall ever be: NO COSTUME, NO CANDY. I don't care if it's a bit of face paint, a schlocky store-bought plastic mask or you throw a floral sheet over your head and call yourself the ghost of bad interior decorating, you must do something to get a treat. And no, I didn't tackle any offending children and berate their imbecilic parents, but I had half a mind to. And I may do it next year.

Finally, although I find the local Halloween parade adorable and charming (and here I speak of the Park Slope event, not the hellacious, drunken-asshole fest of impending riot that the Village one has become - another sad change from days gone by, when it was centered around a bunch of fabulous drag queens strutting their stuff down once-very-gay Christopher Street), I have a word of advice: if you are not a parent accompanying a child and do not have a costume, do not march in the parade. And no, a hair band with ears on it or an LED toy is not a costume. Put some effort into it, or get out. You look nothing but misplaced and surly, and you should be on the sidelines with the rest of us who are misplaced, or surly, or both.

As for me, people seemed to enjoy my costume, which was nothing more than some signs affixed to my body and used as a mask. I went as the missing explosives, and a lot of people seemed to get and enjoy the joke. In my usual OCD fashion, I put a lot of effort researching what the authentic labeling for such explosives would look like, complete with Arabic translation, but then had to make a few less esoteric signs as well, so the average observer would easily understand what I was meant to be. Not my most detailed or labour-intensive costume ever, but I think it served its purpose.

Thanks to A, S and J'A for coming over to play games, make Halloween treats and carve a communal pumpkin. Here's hoping you weren't killed by gingko fumes, and that our next Halloween doesn't require such snide political commentary.

On to the Thanksgiving... and, oh yeah, the election... I was trying to block it out...