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Photo I Like Uncategorized

‘Til Death Do Us Part

I’ve long been fixated on the idea of ending up in a coffee can somewhere–if I don’t succumb to dementia, in which case I’ve instructed some reliable folks just which corner of the Grand Staircase I’d like to be left in, to dry up and fade away.  Ashes, or dessicated skin cured dark and stretched over bone, or sustenance for beasts, all seem like good enough finishes– but I have to admit, this might be just be tempting enough to the silly romantic inside of me to consider an as earthy alternative….

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Photo nabbed from Pinterest, via twitter, via a couple of other pages but it seems to it’s a shot from a cemetery in Nong Khai in Northeast Thailand, orginated by Peter Kelly Studios.

Categories
Commentary

Indiana State Codifies Hate

Indiana_no_gays_allowedIn a shocking (to civilized human beings) development, Indiana Governor Mike Pence flourished his burning cross ballpoint pen and signed Senate Bill 101, the ” Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” a so-called “religious freedom” law which forbids state or local governments from “substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion–unless the government can show it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it.”

Just what the hell does that mean?  In short, it means that as of July 1, any business in the state of Indiana can deny services, employment, or acknowledgement of anyone based on their religious beliefs.  Practically speaking, it is a license to practice bigotry.

Senate leaders say conerns just a "misunderstanding."
Senate leaders say conerns just a “misunderstanding.”

Governor Pence, denying that the law does any such thing, said “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”  Leaders of the Republican-controlled senate called concerns nothing more than a “misunderstanding.”

But Eric Miller, the Founder and Executive Director of Advance America stated, a leading supporter of the legislation, said  “It is vitally important to protect religious freedom in Indiana.  It’s the right thing to do.  It was therefore important to pass Senate Bill 101 in 2015 in order to help protect churches, Christian businesses and individuals from those who want to punish them because of their Biblical beliefs!”

Because the 85% of people in the state of Indiana who identify as Christian suffer daily at the hands of the overbearing, rights-denying, freed0m-hating, gods-damning unwashed 15 who haven’t been bathed in the blood of the lamb, so to speak.

A press release from the ironically titled Advance America continued “Churches, Christian businesses and individuals deserve protection from those who support homosexual marriages and those who support government recognition and approval of gender identity (men who dress as women).  SB 101 will help provide the protection…Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!”

The bill passed despite loud public outcry from citizen groups, celebrities (including Indianapolis Colts Punter Pat McAfee, who grew up about half an hour down the road from my home–good for you, Pat!), businesses, the NCAA and the sponsors of several major conventions that bring millions of dollars to the state have expressed serious concerns, not only for the economic impact of this bill but for the safety and welfare of conventioneers, business persons, employees, and others who might suffer the soon-to-be legal wrath of Christian extremists looking for payback after losing their struggle against equal marriage rights last year.

CBB7BK6UgAAFfXcIt is telling that Pence signed the bill during a private ceremony, which was barred to both public and press, in his Statehouse office just before 10 a.m. Thursday. He was joined by supportive lawmakers, Franciscan monks and nuns, orthodox Jews, and some of the state’s most powerful lobbyists on conservative social issues.

While this bill is aimed at punishing and denying civil rights to homosexuals, I’m curious what happens the first time, say, a Muslim store owner denies service to a Jewish patron, or perhaps a Hindi restaurant owner refuses to seat a Muslim–or, for that matter, a southern Baptist hotelier denies lodging to Catholic?  It is a slippery slope, once we step away from the ideal of equality–I mean, what are the Scientologists going to do with this law?  I shudder to think.

It’s going to suck to live in some corners of Indiana for a while, but supporters of equal rights should take comfort in the absolute surety that bigoted business owners in all but the most insular communities will quickly feel the financial effects of their discriminatory practices.  Indeed, the main reason that shameful laws like this pass is because it requires the average person to sit quietly by and let the professional hate-mongers who make careers of sewing discord do the dirty work.

I very much hope that a network is quickly formed to call out the hidden bullies who will pick and choose when to use religion as a cudgel to wield against their neighbors. In fact, I’d love to see someone call out businesses in the State of Indiana who intend to adopt discriminatory policies because–you know what?–most of them are going to be too cowardly to actually see it through, let alone admit it publicly.

And, once again, I offer this old rhetorical chestnut:  WWJD do, brothers and sisters?

And by the way, fellow Pennsylvanians–get off your high horses, we’ve got one of these laws too.

Categories
Funny and/or Strange

Let Electricity Do It

What do we think we’re talking about here?  Something subtle, like an electric blanket and a leaky waterbed–or just the usual, mundane film noir toaster tossed in the bathtub?

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Uncategorized

My All-Time Favorite Christmas Decoration

My daughter made this way back in elementary school–we didn’t date it, so I can’t say exactly when, but it had to be first or second grade.  Or earlier.  I keep thinking that I should try to have it laminated, but my wife thinks that doing so would ruin it and we should just “let it run it’s course.”

Me, I want to save it forever–quickly summing up the differences in our perspectives.  I am a soppy sentimentalist, she’s more of an in-the-moment realist.  The mix has worked out pretty well for the past twenty years–and, hey, without her I’d never have this cool decoration, nor the countless great Christmas memories we’ve accumulated over those years.
My favorite Christmas Decoration by cbmanges

Categories
Commentary

“I Love My Husband, But Here’s Why I Want to Cheat”

I was reading the news from my aggregator, and stumbled upon this article on the Huffington Post, which can always be relied upon to annoy me with petty fluff the perpetuation of which I inevitably encourage by clicking and reading.  It’s the old “can’t help staring at a car wreck” thing, except that I don’t stare at car wrecks. I once saw a dead body laying in the middle of the road, and it haunted me a little.  Lesson learned.

I won’t make you read this article,–but here’s the gist: the by-lined author, Elloa marriage-cheating-signs-to-look-for_87638490.s300x300Atkinson is “happily married” to her best friend, Nige, but there’s a caveat: “Today, my secret is this: I love my husband, but I often want to cheat”.

She found herself attracted to this man, the mysterious “K” whom she met at a dog park.  Though she pledges that she wasn’t attracted to K physically, she thought about him a lot, changed her schedule to bump into him more often, and occasionally thought hammerof him while having sex–er, “making love” with her beloved.  In her mind this became a big deal, which I suppose makes it a big deal–especially since she’s confessed real, tangible betrayal in a blog entry elsewhere--and after a stranger mistook “K”  for sweet, innocent perfect beautiful Nige, guilt bludgeoned her with the sort of giant hammer Wile E. Coyote wields, and she went skittering back home. To confess.

Now keep in mind: she didn’t do anything destructive except allow her imagination to roam.  No torrid bodice ripping, no kissing or groping or rubbing or groaning.  There would be no witnesses to report back to Nige, no whispers of innuendo, no children of questionable parentage and no need for large, quietly procured doses of antibiotics.  Because NOTHING HAPPENED.

But, as I learned from Ms. Atkinson’s website profile, she is “a facilitator of truth who helps women + men navigate their internal and relationship struggles with love, honesty and a willingness to be transformed.”  Indeed, after knowing Nige for four years they finally made a connection because “somehow, my honesty made way for love to enter.”  Whatever the hell that means.

I fell in love with my wife because she’s cool, smart, beautiful, selfless and tough as nails–and when I hugged her one evening at the end of a platonic night out, and after knowing her for half of my life, I felt electricity sparkle like fireworks inside my spine.  My first thought: huh, that’s new.  My second thought: another fine friendship ruined by that intoxicating soup of testosterone and female pheromones. I haven’t seriously considered another woman as a partner since that moment, 22 years, 10 days and roughly 14 hours ago.  I notice attractive women.  I’m pleased when they smile at me, but I don’t require the affirmation of flirtation. My confidence is more than sufficiently buoyed by the beautiful woman who, like Nige is to Elloa, is my best friend.

I guess Ms. Atkinson does it differently, but at this point, I need to step back for a second and give her a little slack.  She’s more trigger than target in my shooting gallery today, and while I’m obviously–and rather callously–sniping in her direction, I want to be clear that she’s symbolic of the conceit, and I don’t want to be petty.  What I do want to do is offer an alternative take to what I believe to be a very bad example of how to stay in love.

She clearly went into her relationship with some heavy issues, and ultimately she’s got to do what she feels like she needs to do. It’s not personal, but I think her essay is silly.  Of course, I didn’t like The DaVinci Code or most of the bible much, either*, so my perspective may be skewed when it comes to literary taste.  I’m sure she’s really nice, and always goes back to McDonald’s when the pimply kid at the register gives her too much change, but when she confesses “…I had learned to practice radical honesty…” I can’t fully stifle the snicker chewing at the back of my throat.

It’s because I hate that precious touchy feely thready-breathed new age mystical blah blah.  I’m sorry, but I do. I hate it a lot.  It’s a time-tested cliche, especially in television and romance novels, for a person to do something they ought not to have done then suffer under the unbearable guilt of their actions until, in a moment of presumed (ultimately false) clarity, they realize they must be honest about whatever it is.  Maybe Ashley put her tongue in Chase’s ear–or just thought about it–or maybe Kaiden is secretly a bag man for Hamas, or perhaps Zane–well, you get the idea.  In this cliche, Zane knows he’s got to be honest with Delaney (before Bianca spills the beans, that bitch).  You know what comes next: Delaney dumps Zane, at first, but then Bianca tries to sabotage the blueprints Delaney drew up for the new headquarters for the family’s fashion magazine that doubles as a cover for Vampires.  In the end, Delaney forgives Zane.  Melodrama.  Yech.

In real life, “radical truth” is a real sonofabitch, cold and sharp as surgical steel, and things don’t get tied up neat and tidy in a set narrative time frame.  What the hell kind of person drops that pile of shit on the person who loves them more than anyone else? On principle alone, I despise the idea of people who confess their minor, transgressions–particularly transgressions of the mind and heart, wispy and non-corporeal–transgressions of the imagination!–to unload and relieve themselves of the burden of their own guilt.  So one partner slips the chains of guilt and finally sleeps free and easy, but at the cost of the other partner, who now lies awake, staring at the ceiling, wondering.

This business about working through her desire to avoid the compulsion, handed down like an old doily through generations of women in her family, to sabotage happiness, is melodramatic claptrap.  As I implied above, there is a chemical element to love, but establishing a relationship and maintaining a marriage is a matter of commitment and (ask my wife) sacrifice–that’s why they call it, uh, “a commitment.”  Like in the phrase, “we’re in a committed relationship.” It’s about will.  I would argue that Ms. Atkinson’s “confession” and honesty has as much to do with her inclination towards sabotage as her attraction. She’s likely compelled to her admission by the deep-seeded need for validation, the desperate desire to hear her partner to tell her he loves her still, even after kicking him in the metaphorical shins.  Better not to hurt the one you love to begin with.  Better to carry your own weight.

Remember that other night, when I let you do that thing, and well the truth of it is that I was thinking about my secret crush the whole time.  I felt really bad about it, so I thought I’d tell you, and you know what?  I feel much better.

The caring, appropriate response is to take that guilt, suck it up, swallow it, then shut up and live with it.  Suffer your guilt in silence–you earned it, you live with it.   Unloading it on a loved one is an unforgivably selfish act akin to water boarding that person because you waded into the deep water and nearly drowned.  Don’t want to feel guilty?  Then follow the goddamn rules.  Don’t punish your lover for your own weakness.

I should be a relationship guru–publishers, I’m open to offers.

*I liked the parts when they’re shoveling folks into furnaces and lion dens until those seven brothers who all look alike eat all the lions, drink all the water, and spit out all the water to put the fires out and–oh, wait….

Categories
Commentary Poetry

National Poetry Month Celebration: Ai, Twenty Year Marriage

 “All the best poetry is about ‘-ing’s’: eating, drinking, eating, sleeping, wanting, loving, hating, fucking–you know, thinking and feeling, and living, and dying.”  This has been one of my very favorite poems since the first time I read it, decades ago, and it seems the older I get, the better it works for me.

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Twenty-year Marriage By Ai

You keep me waiting in a truck
with its one good wheel stuck in the ditch,
while you piss against the south side of a tree.
Hurry. I’ve got nothing on under my skirt tonight.
That still excites you, but this pickup has no windows
and the seat, one fake leather thigh,
pressed close to mine is cold.
I’m the same size, shape, make as twenty years ago,
but get inside me, start the engine;
you’ll have the strength, the will to move.
I’ll pull, you push, we’ll tear each other in half.
Come on, baby, lay me down on my back.
Pretend you don’t owe me a thing
and maybe we’ll roll out of here,
leaving the past stacked up behind us;
old newspapers nobody’s ever got to read again.
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Uncategorized

Belated Congratulations: Hawaii, Illinois and….

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Hawaii and Illinois recently moved on legislation that will make them the 15th and 16th states to end discrimination against same-sex couples who wish to marry.  To them I say, “congratulations–it’s about damn time.”

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t wish politics to intrude too heavily on this blog–not that I’m shy about my views, which pretty much amount to conservatives thinking I’m a godless liberal, and liberals thinking I’m some sort of–well, they don’t know–like a Kraken or something, a beast from the deep eager to eat up (sacred) cows and the village children whole and raw.  The thing is, marriage shouldn’t be a political topic. It’s a human thing.  We live in times of war, violence, and hatred across so many lines–social, ethnic, religious, political–who are we to deny the full measure of whatever love others might squeeze from our shriveled husk of a society?

For half of my life I didn’t give much thought to homophobia beyond a sort of smug, thoughtless disdain, but a series of acquaintances with gay folks gave me pause to consider their lives beyond the general.  I don’t know what I expected, but I quickly realized that most of their lives were exactly like mine, except for the part where a small but loud segment of the population despised them for no other reason than who they happened to love.

And that made a lot of sense?

One day I asked a friend of mine what she thought about the whole “homosexuality is a lifestyle choice” argument that was then the rant du jour of conservatives, particularly Christians.  She laughed bitterly, “the last time I went home, my parents prayed for me to find my way back from sin. At the dinner table. In high school I was Most Likely To Succeed and Valedictorian, now I’m the lesbian.  People point at me in the grocery store.  If I took someone I loved back there, it might not be safe to walk down the street holding hands.  She surely wouldn’t be welcome in my parents’ home.  I’m not ashamed about who I am, but there are times when I feel like I was seeded at the back of the pack, you know?  That’s nature–but would I choose it?  Are you kidding? I envy straight people, you put your arm around your girlfriend and walk down the street and everyone smiles and thinks: ah, young love!  How sweet!  I get obscene and demeaning catcalls and McDonald’s milkshakes thrown at me.”

phyllis-lyon-and-del-martin-in-2004This shot of the wedding of  Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin is one of my favorite pictures, not only because deep beneath my scaly, misanthropic crust I’m a romantic who cries at the end of Miracle on 34th Street and Love, Actually every god-damned Christmas, but because–hell, I don’t even need to say it.  Look at the way they look at each other!

And yet, by conservative ideology, these two are a grave threat to “traditional” marriage–like the three sacred, holy matrimonies Newt Gingrich has enjoyed.  Now, I can’t speak for those conservatives, but my wife and I aren’t afraid our marriage will be undermined by a GAY MARRIAGE OPPONENT HOLDS SIGN IN PROTEST OUTSIDE STATEHOUSEcouple of old women with matching rings.  I’m not even afraid of those leather people at the Folsom Street Fair.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I live in rural Pennsylvania and had to look that up on google–but doesn’t the reference make me sound, I dunno, uh, worldly?) I am, however afraid of this guy to the right, mostly because he reminds me a lot of what I’ve heard from these guys:

kkk

They thought God was on their side, too.  In fact, here are some quotes for you:

“Nature’s law, which is a creation of YAHWEH, dictates that kind reproduce after kind. The different people of the world were never supposed to mix. Even the different animals and species of our world practice natures law of reproduction “Kind after Kind”…

(Our) belief on homosexuality is not homophobic, but like all subjects, it’s based on our biblical beliefs. So what does the bible teach us about these perverted lifestyles. In Leviticus 18:22 we read “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind it is abomination.” Also in Leviticus 20:13 “If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death, their blood shall be upon them.” In Deuteronomy 23:17 we read “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.”.

Its extremely clear what our Father in heaven has to say about homosexuals. Other Old Testament verses on the subject can be found in 1 Kings 14:24 and 15:12, II Kings 23:7, Isaiah 3:9 and Jeremiah 23:14. There are more verses in the Bible on this subject, but I think I have made my point. Some say the New Testament does not address homosexuality at all. So, let us read 1 Corinthians 6:9 “No ye not that the unrightous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” Also in Jude 7, Romans 1:22-32 and 1 Timothy 1:10. By the way, for those that don’t know the meaning of the word effeminate it means a man that takes on the characteristics of a woman.

So, as you can see, if any Judeo-Christian minister does not preach against homosexuality, he is a liar and a deceiver. Homosexuality, like a cancer, must be cut out of our society or it will grow until it kills the body, like a cancer. This is not the words of (this essay), this is the word of Yahweh.”

Sound familiar?  I hope not, because it is lifted directly from a KKK propaganda tract–though I just read some very similar words from a Baptist minister whose church is 10 minutes from my doorstep.

So, with that in mind, to the remaining states, I say:  Who’s Got Next?