Thursday, January 31, 2013

The question of whether or not same-sex marriage means "the end of gay" came up again on the comment section on a blog I read regularly.  The lead-in subject this time was what to do about last names in a gay marriage.  My reply was this:

"I've always said that when gays marry they make the "rules" for themselves and are not bound by heterosexual customs.  Most of our friends keep their own names as Fritz and I have done.  The husband of a very dear blogger friend of mine changed his last name as his family had treated him so badly he didn't want their name any more.  Another couple of blogger friends joined their last names with a hyphen.  It's all good, it's whatever they felt comfortable with." 

The other question that comes up in relation to gay marriages is monogamy.  To me this is a complete red herring.  It's based on the fallacy that heterosexual marriage is monogamous, something that's been proven quite decisively to be untrue.  To me this is another instance where gay couples decide for themselves the terms of their relationships with no obligation to toe anyone else's line.

It's entirely possible that my take on this issue is due to the fact that I was never a bar guy.  That aspect of gay life never appealed to me.  There was a great deal of smoking, drinking and outright alcoholism in my family.  I saw the consequences.  Health was broken, lives shortened.  If bar culture is held to be the defining mark of gayness, then I guess I don't qualify.

I look at the new gay leaders, the senators and representatives, the writers, media personalities, the vibrant, creative couples like Dan Savage and Terry Miller and I don't see decline or the end of gay.  I see a bright future for everyone, straight and gay, as society becomes richer by our full inclusion.


Gene Robinson, America's and New Hampshire's own first out gay Episcopal Bishop, retired recently and has moved to the nation's capital.  He'll be working with the Center for American Progress, a progressive research and policy organization, on issues of faith and gay rights.

He faced tremendous resistance, rejection by the Anglican Church in England, was slandered in certain parts of the media, and his safety, even his life was threatened.  In what amounted to an exit interview with NPR, he had some revealing comments about his experiences and insights as the object of a lot of rejection and protest.

"The death threats were plentiful, almost daily for a couple of years. And then more recently I prayed the invocation at the opening inaugural event at President Obama's inauguration in 2009, and it was about two weeks later I got a call from the Vermont State Police who had almost accidentally arrested a guy who had been driving through this small Vermont town and was in such a rage that he shot the windows out of an empty parked police cruiser. And when they caught up to him, he had in his passenger's seat, right next to him, MapQuest maps right to our house. He had pictures of me and Mark, and he had scrawled across them, 'Save the church. Kill the bishop.' And he had a sawed-off shotgun and tons of ammunition."

"I think people often come to the synagogue, mosque, the church looking for God, and what we give them is religion. And I think that is a huge mistake, and sometimes we let our fussing around with the institution get in the way of what people came for, which is help in facilitating their access and relationship with God. On the other hand, if you go off by yourself, then it can become a kind of narcissistic enterprise, and you don't have people around you constantly testing your understanding of God.   That's what makes me believe in the church, in the synagogue, in the mosque, because that's the community of people that can help us understand better what our perceived relationship with God is, and test it against all those many ways in which we can try to shape it out of our own personality."

"Here's the part that most people don't know: When I was about 13 years old, this doctor who had delivered me — he was a pediatrician, actually, and became my pediatrician -- always said two things when I went to see him for a shot or a checkup. One was, 'You sure look better than the first time I saw you,' and the second was, 'I had help from above when I delivered you.' And when I was 13, he sat me down in his office and he said, 'I'm going to tell you something that your parents don't know, no one in the world knows this, but I — I want to tell you this. He said, 'I looked at you, and you were a little monster. You were so misshapen and your head was so crushed in that all I could think about was your 20-year-old mother looking at your monster-like face in your little coffin, and I just couldn't bear it. And I was so sure you were going to die that I took your head in my hands and mushed it back into as round a shape as I could make it so your mother wouldn't be so horrified.' He said, 'Had I any notion that you were going to live, I would never have done it, and I just think you ought to know that, that your life was given to you by something far beyond me.' "

Somehow, he survived and he made a great deal of difference.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Comments on Random Pictures from the Web

A new look for Doc Martens as a result of a collaboration with Liberty of London.   It's a little like a look back at the Carnaby Street fashion revolution of Mary Quant and all the others in the 1960s.  I've worn Docs since sometime in the late 80s or early 90s but I'm not sure these are in my future.

This walled and fortified town, essentially the revival of a medieval city with gates and towers, is proposed for construction in Wyoming.  It is meant to be a fortress against the U.S. Government.  Because there is obviously a heavy component of gun advocacy, I looked up John Parker of the fortified city's Green and found several.  There are two, however, who might well be the man to be memorialized by naming the Green after him.

The first, and, I suppose the most likely, was Captain of the militia at Lexington Green when the first shots of the Revolution were fired -- in Massachusetts, be it noted and not New Hampshire as Michele Bachmann believes.  He is recorded as saying to his men, "Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here." The British killed a cousin of his in the skirmish.  Later that day he rallied his men to attack the regulars returning to Boston in an ambush known as "Parker's Revenge".

The other John Parker was the armed guard assigned to stand at the door to the box in Ford's Theater the night Abraham Lincoln was shot.  Mr. Parker was absent from his post, allowing John Wilkes Booth to enter the box and shoot Lincoln.  As one of the arguments of the NRA is that mass shootings can be prevented if there is someone with a gun to stop the shooter, this John Parker  might have been chosen to demonstrate why their argument is valid.  I don't really think he's what they had in mind but his place in history is interesting in this regard. 

Glenn Beck is proposing something similar in Texas with an estimated price tag of $2 billion.  I'm not a gun nut so I'm probably not qualified to comment, but I wonder what the quality of life in these hermetically sealed armed camps will be like.  I imagine that at least some of the population will have to go out to work because I doubt the Citadel can support the entire population with just the gun factory and museum. 

I have no idea who this is but he certainly is in great shape and the pose is quite beautiful in a way.

This was put on the web with this caption: Saudi Woman's Car.


Murphy's Other 15 Laws

1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

2. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

3. He, who laughs last, thinks slowest.

4. A day without sunshine is like, well, night. 

5. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

6. Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't. 

7. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool. 

8. The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong. 

9. It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end, someone from California would be stupid enough to try to pass them. 

10. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it. 

11. The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those, who got there first. 

12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer. 

13. Flashlight: A case for holding dead batteries. 

14. God gave you toes as a device for finding furniture in the dark. 

15. When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of twelve people, who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The snow storm we had earlier this week was very pretty and not overly difficult to shovel or snowblow. A few pictures:

A flock of ten wild turkeys spent quite a bit of time on the property picking through the snow to find seeds or other edibles in our gardens.

The blogger in lined jeans and leather clearing our parking area.  The snowblower is an Ariens and a really great machine.  The dealer told me a couple of months ago that I was lucky to buy it when Ariens was still making high quality machines; currently they're made in China with a lot of plastic parts and he no longer recommends them.

The outdoor portion of the indoor/outdoor tree.

Our solar panels generally begin to clear themselves as soon as the sun hits them but the process can take an hour or so, during which we lose some valuable electrical production.  I generally go up the hill as soon as I can when a storm is over and clear them with a big push broom.  I took this picture just before I began to brush them clean. 

Beech trees keep their golden fall color throughout the winter.  In early spring the leaves are so dry that they make a clicking sound like a baby's rattle when the wind blows through them.  The new buds swelling in mid-spring are what pushes the previous years leaves off in what looks like a shower of gold in the breeze.


I'd ask what's wrong with this picture but it's painfully obvious.  This is a section of the lower wall of the upstairs guest bathroom.   It is also the bathroom I use when I am upstairs working in my studio.  Since nobody ever comes up there when I'm working (Fritz generally wants to avoid any opera I might have playing while I'm there), I usually leave the door open.  As this part of the wall is behind the open door, it took me a couple of years after the house was finished to spot this problem.

This kind of small tile comes mounted on sheets of mesh from the manufacturer, so it isn't the fault of the tiler, except that the tiler should have noticed the problem immediately and discarded the sheet.  So I'm left with a question -- do I leave it alone or do I have the two tiles chiseled out, reset and grouted?  Fritz advocates leaving it alone.  So does a tradition in the weaving of magnificent "oriental" rugs and the setting of elaborate Muslim tile work -- as only Allah is perfect, there must be a small flaw purposely worked into any art so as not to challenge his perfection.

But now I know it's there, and it's bothering me.  It's not the kind of thing that wakes me in the middle of the night.   But whenever I go into that bathroom, I'm aware that there's a flaw down toward a corner of the wall, and that it contradicts the room's visual layout which is very Deco and therefore very geometric.  Also, guests who use the room and close the door can see it very easily as they come out of the shower or sit on the toilet.  On the other hand, nobody's ever mentioned to me so maybe nobody's ever noticed.  But then again, maybe they did and are just being polite.  All of these opposing points keep occurring to me.  Suggestions?     

Monday, January 14, 2013

Every year at our three day New Years party, we have an exchange table where guys can leave books, DVDs, magazines, etc. with which they're finished, and browse for things they don't have but might like.  I generally try to toss more into the exchange than I take out, in a continuing effort to cull out books and other items I really will never read or use again.  This year I came away with just two items: a DVD that was a huge disappointment and may be thrown away rather than subject someone I really like to it next New Years; and the above book which is turning out to be one of the most engrossing gay lives I've ever read and one, moreover, with which I can identify very closely.

Alan (born Albert) Helms was born in a small Indiana town in the mid 1930s, into a household with an alcoholic, abusive father and a subjugated, victimized mother.  In school, just about everything with him was "wrong," his name, his academic excellence, his creativity, his lack of athletic prowess.  Up to this point, he and I had identical experiences except that it was my mother who was the alcoholic.  But he really had me when he wrote that during his high school years he realized he had to grow up nothing like his parents in order to survive and make something of himself.  I remember when I figured that out for myelf and the conflict within me that it caused.

After high school our trajectories diverged radically.  I went on to theater studies in Boston while he went on to Columbia University in New York City, losing his virginity to a handsome senior, being scouted for modeling because he was stunningly beautiful, losing a Rhodes Scholarship because the University had his phone tapped and found out he was gay.  Then he was-fast tracked into the gay demi-monde with marathon parties and sex with celebrities, other models, Broadway and Hollywood agents.  He had parts in some of the plays that established Edward Albee's career and became a good drinking buddy of Elaine Stritch in addition to appearing with her in a musical by Noel Coward with whom he was also involved.   All the while he kept an eye out for the police who took pleasure in raiding gay bars, private parties, anywhere gay men gathered, then arresting them and publishing their names so that their lives and reputations were destroyed. 

I won't -- and can't -- give away anything that happens next as I haven't read past this point in the book.  But I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Helms is a skilled, very engaging writer who eventually became a University of Massachusetts Professor of English in Boston.  He's had an amazing live, he's extremely honest, and he gives insight into gay life before gay liberation that more people, especially younger gay men, need to know.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Footwear as architecture -- or perhaps as torture device?  I'm looking at the points on those antlers and wondering what happens if the wearer steps just the wrong way off a curb or when she attempts to climb a couple of steps -- does she get gored?  Perhaps these shoes aren't really for walking except in fairly small steps on level surfaces.  I remember in the 1950s some highly engineered French fashions became (in)famous because the wearers couldn't sit down in them for fear of ripping out the seams.  Maybe they're fantasy fashion, meant ultimately to sit on a pedestal in a museum's fashion exhibit, fascinating constructions of the "look but don't touch," and definitely don't wear, variety.


Offered without further comment because sometimes there are things that just leave one speechless:

Church Claims Stroking Horses “Cures” Homosexuality
by Jace Peeples,  1/2/2013  (excerpted from

We’ll never listen to the lyrics from Rawhide the same way ever again.  The Gay Star News reports that The Cowboy Church of Virginia is claiming that homosexuality can be cured by – wait for it – stroking horses.

The church’s pastor, Raymond Bell, believes Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) not only helps men to be more masculine, but it can actually make the gay in anyone giddy up and get gone.

Bell says, “The first common misconception is that homosexuality is genetic, or hereditary, or as some say ‘born this way.’ EAP can help any person who is living the homosexual lifestyle or involved in it in anyway.  Homosexuality is actually a type of addiction,” Bell claims.” It is not ‘curable’ as a disease because it is ‘choice driven’ by the person.”

Exactly how does EAP giddy up the gay away?  Bell explains he uses the horses in his church “to identify how a person got ‘involved in homosexuality to begin with. For example, because of rape, abandonment, lacking a male role model, abuse, and having low self-esteem.” He also believes gay teens can overcome homosexual urges by stroking horses.  (This gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘pony play.’)

Clearly Mr. Bell has never seen Brokeback Mountain and needs to be reminded “no one can talk to a horse of course that is, of course, unless that horse…”   


I had hoped that John Boehner would fail to be re-elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.  I'm fed to the teeth with his obstructionism and hostility.  The fact that he has clearly lost control of the lunatic, radical Tea Baggers (who scuttled his own proposal to avoid the "Fiscal Cliff") and that a dozen Republican Reps voted against his re-election, leaves him seriously reduced in influence.  He got re-elected by only five votes which would have been only two votes if three Republicans who originally abstained hadn't switched their votes at the last minute.  One of those changed votes was cast for Boehner, ironically, by Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann, who then proceeded to sponsor the 35th bill attempting to repeal "Obamacare" despite the failure of the previous 34.   Some people never learn.  Weather Boehner has learned anything remains to be seen.  Frankly I doubt it.


There some "rules" in the house about where Starr goes and where she does not.  And one place she does not go is onto the table in the kitchen's dining area.

Now, I have lived with cats for 40 years and I am under no illusions about who really runs the house.  My first cat, an extremely intelligent three-colored tabby named Cornface (because she looked like "indian corn"), was trained not to go into the under-counter kitchen cabinets.  To the best of my knowledge she never did, until one day I brought a manx kitten home with me.  Manx cats are the ones with no tails at all or just a small stump of tail.  The little one wasn't terribly intelligent but was all heart and very affectionate.  There was the ritual three days of hissing and spitting from the older cat, after which she settled down and took the kitten under her wing.

Shortly thereafter, I was sitting in the kitchen having lunch when the two cats came into the kitchen, the older leading the younger.  Cornface walked up to the first cabinet, hooked a claw under the edge of the door and popped it open.  She then turned around and looked at the little one as if to say, "do you understand what you've seen and how it's done?"  She then walked around the kitchen, the little one bouncing around happily after her, and opened every cabinet door in order.  When she was done, she looked up to make sure I understood I was not as much in control as I thought I was, and led the kitten out of the room. 

This year, my elder daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter came here for a couple of days at Christmas.  As they were on Salem, Oregon time they stayed up longer than Fritz and I.  On their last night here, Stephania happened into the kitchen and quickly pulled out her phone to take this piture:

Starr, occupying the geographical center of the table set for the next morning's breakfast.  It reminds me that once I go outside gardening or shopping, or when we go to bed, Starr simply takes over, goes where she wants, does whatever she wants and there's nothing whatever I can do about it.  Law of the jungle.  She's a cat and a very good one.  


Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Wishing all my readers, friends and family a very Happy New Year!

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