Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Bluing of America!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The top map shows House of Representative party influence before the 2006 mid-term elections, and the bottom shows the shift in that influence after the election. The spred of Blue is profound in the NE, but is also clear in the upper midwest spreading into the central and southern mountain region.

Death, 17th Century Style

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I enjoy genealogical research and personal histories. Here's a snippet from an article on the BBC that I found particularly interesting.

A manuscript unearthed in Cumbria's archives has painted a vivid picture of murder, mayhem and misadventure in one 17th Century parish.

Deadly duels fought with frying pans, and drunken brawls waged with beer jugs claimed lives in the west county parish of Lamplugh between 1656 and 1663.

The record was uncovered by staff at the Cumbria Record Office and Local Studies Library, in Whitehaven.

It is being used to promote the national Archive Awareness Campaign.

The record also reveals how three women were drowned after being accused of being witches, and four people were scared to death by fairies.

Other peculiar deaths listed in the document include death by gluttony at a party and being attacked by the parson's bull.

But not all residents suffered such surprising ends - 57 residents died of traditional old age.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Our Latest American Hero #48

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Pvt. Reece D. Moreno, 19, of Prescott, Ariz.; assigned to the 92 Engineer Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died Nov. 24 of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident in Balad, Iraq. The incident is under investigation.

"Former BMHS Student Dies In Iraq"

Friends and family describe him as fun-loving and a free spirit traits they now remember most about 19-year-old Reece D. Moreno, who died in Balad, Iraq, Friday.

Moreno spent his entire high school career at Bradshaw Mountain High School, until he transferred to Yavapai County High School at the end of his senior year to graduate early, said his mother Regan Parsons.

"He had the talent to do that," she said.

According to a United States Department of Defense press release, Moreno was not in combat at the time of his death. He was part of the 92nd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.

Right before he left to go overseas, Parsons said he asked his girlfriend to marry him.

More than anything, teachers and friends remember Moreno's contagious laugh. His mother said his smile brought joy to everyone.

"He was tremendously well-liked by all the other students," said his U.S. government teacher, George Ponte.

"He was just a really great person to hang out with," recalled Moreno's best friend since sixth grade, Tyler Schreffler. "The first time I'd ever do something, I'd do it with him. We used to make all kinds of silly movies."

With hobbies like playing guitar, bodybuilding and playing sports, Parsons described her son as a sweet boy and a good teenager who always had respect for adults.

The teachers at Bradshaw Mountain received news of Moreno's death Monday morning.

"I knew he was going into the service. I didn't know he was going to Iraq, so it all hit at once," said Athletic Director Maury Ruble, who had Moreno as a student in his English class. "He took a stand and did things a lot of us can't say we have done."

For U.S. history teacher, Larry Haese, losing Moreno was difficult. He said he had a special connection with his student, an individual who enjoyed life and came to class with a smile every day.

"We got along great," he said. "Just a fun-loving kid you could laugh with, you could joke with."

Shock swept the faces of Moreno's former teachers as they spoke about their lost student.

"I don't know if I had any impact on his life ... but he's the kind of kid that's the reason why you teach," Haese said.

However, Haese said Moreno probably didn't have a lot of direction in life and therefore saw the military as a way to guide him. Ponte recalled Moreno talking during his senior year about joining the military. He seemed excited about it.

"He was going to go to college, but he decided not to. It wasn't really his thing," Schreffler said.

Moreno's mother doesn't know why her son joined the army. She said he enjoyed boot camp.

"When he got to advanced training, it was too boring," she said.

Most of all, she said Moreno had a kind and loving heart. He loved to make everyone laugh.

"You wouldn't want to watch a movie without him," she said.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Art I'm Seeing #16

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Is Photography Art? It's an old question. The answer is "YES". And the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC reiterates this fact with it's current special exhibition: "The Streets of New York: American Photographs from the Collection, 1938–1958"....and a photo or two from 1960 was also included!

Photography as an art form holds so many possibilities and responsibilities. It frames history. It captures moments without prejudices. It creates icons from innocence in a way that no other medium can. And this look at images from New York City affirms each of these principles.

I am personally thrilled by the heightened presence of photography as an art form in museums like the NGA. It's happening all over the place: The Met, The Phillips Collection, the Chicago Institute of Art...places that have traditionally been lukewarm to the concept.

As a medium of expression, photography is in its infancy. But unlike any visual art form in the history of our species, it's also more universally accessible and nascent than even its progenitors could have imagined. What will it's standards look like? How will its works come to be assessed? "The Streets of New York....." at the NGA provide us with clues to how the questions might be answered.

The Works in this Collage are (from left to right starting in the upper left corner: Weegee, "Frank Pape, Arrested for Homicide, November 10, 1944": Lisette Model, "Bud Powell, 1956-1958"; Sid Grossman
"Coney Island, 1947-1948"; Louis Faurer "'Champion,' New York, N.Y., 1949-1950"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Art I'm Seeing #15

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Just open at the National Gallery of Art in DC is "Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych". It's a beautiful exhibit full of amazing works of art. Chief among them is a trio of works by Hans Memling. The Saint John from Munich is reunited with the NGA's own St. Veronica; the Maarten van Nieuwenhove Diptych from Brugge (one of Memlings greatest works); and an odd little portriat of a woman diptych from Rotterdam in which the opposite panel features two horses and a monkey!

Among the various treasures is this depiction of the Christ child by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen. You'll see plenty infant Jesus' in this exhibition, but none where the model was a former midget wrestler on steriods! Sorry, but I just cracked up when I saw it. The good Meister Vermeyen needed to get out more. If you're in DC, get out and see this show, you'll have until February 6, 2007.

Joseph Cornell

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
An additional thought on Jospeh Cornell's work. As delighted as I was by the exhibit at the SAAM, one moment in the museum continues to peck at my mind. I was moving from one set of works to another when I passed a couple in the their mid-50's. The man in tow mumbled to the woman, "So these are Cornell's boxes?"

The comment has made me ponder the hidden power in these "boxes". Take this one, for example, titled "Toward the Blue Peninsula (for Emily Dickinson)". This is not a box, it's a world. It's a world of confinement and of limitations: the cage, the sterility, the cloister. And it's a world of possibility, of hope, and of escape. The wire mesh is broken, the bird is gone. Where? That's your call. The window is open and blue beyond it beckons the traveller to a new world, and new dimension, guided by the ghostly set of Cartesian coordinates suggested by the shadow from the wire mesh.

Cornell was so like Dickinson in ways that must have resonated passionately with the artist. Both never to marry, both to live in their family homes (their cloisters), both to treat "ideas like stars", and create art from the intensity with which they viewed the world around them, the world beyond their windows. It was said that Dickinson lived out the adult years of her life only wearing white, and jotting down her enigmatic verse on small scraps of paper, like the two pieces snipped and resting in the bottom of this "box."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Art I'm Seeing #14

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
There's a wonderful exhibition of Joseph Cornell works at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) which opened on November 17th. The exhibition includes dozens of his "boxes" along with an equal or greater amount of his artifacts and collages. Cornell is a quintessentially American artist, and SAAM is the perfect venue for his works.

I arrived, foolishly, at 10 AM; and the museum doesn't open until 11:30! So I went to the National Gallery and spent a couple of hours "killing" time, before returning to SAAM. As an exhibit, it was very crowded. I was happy to see so many young people and families with children roaming through the galleries. The exhibition obviously anticipated this and provided opportunities to engage a younger audience in the experience. Bravo SAAM.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What I'm Watching #49

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Enigmatic. Russian. Are those redundant statements?

Mildly erotic in places, predominently evocative throughout. The visual trumps the dialogue; except the words, however sparse, are profound.

As a Russian film with sub-titles, this is also a "thinker." You'll enjoy the images, but without a heightened cognitive participation, you have little understanding of this film's essence.

"100 Days Before The Command" is not for everyone.

Blessed Thanksgiving

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Nature Conservancy

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I quick pick for a worthy organization. I have been a member off and on (mostly on!) for the past 25 years. It's approach is simple. Want to save the ecologically sensitive lands? Buy them. And then members work to care for them. If you're ever in the DC/Metro area and see a 1992 Red Nisson pick-up with a "Save Jessamine Creek" bumper sticker on it, wave--it's me. Jessamine creek was a Nature Conservancy project that I was very involved in back when I lived in Kentucky in the 80's and early 90's. One of God's great gifts. And the best part for me about the Nature Conservancy's approach to the problem is it's completely non-partisan strategy that combines capitalism and progressive ideals. Something for everyone! My chapter's website can be accessed at:

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Midterm Election 2006 Redux, part 8

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Okay, like forever, Minnesota was donned a "close" race for the senate between Amy Klobucher and Mark Kennedy. So what happened?

The Democrat, Amy Klobucher, ran away with it. The REPUBLICAN, Mark Kennedy, who as a House Representative voted with Bush 98% of the time; who never placed the word REPUBLICAN in any of his ads, posters, commercials, or statements; who hoped against hope that his name might sway a few confused voters seeking change -- became the poster child for Bush policy/governance road kill.....

Minnesota is a proud state. It really doesn't seem to hanker to politicians who are ass kissers. Amy, keep those lips locked upon the Constitution and away from any leader's derriere!

What I'm Listening To #19

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I have been enjoying the genius of Mary Chapin Carpenter over the past several days. I own every album/CD she's ever made. I've attended all of her concerts at Wolf Trap since 1996. Some of those were in years of plenty, some others in times more sparse to the point of painful. She has no earthly idea who I am! But she's been like a friend to me, and her stories and songs have a place in my heart like few others.

"Come On, Come On" is a relatively early offering in terms of her popular appeal, and yet it's probably her zenith work. It was the album that took her away from her roots in DC and the Takoma Park, Maryland folk circuit and placed her on a more national stage. The songs cheer me, even if none of them effect me as powerfully as her later songs, more recent songs, like, "My Heaven" & Grand Central Station" from [Between Here And Gone], "What If We Went To Italy" & "Ideas Are Like Stars" from [A Place In The World], and "This Is Me Leaving You" & "The Long Way Home" from [Time*Sex*Love].

In the same way she is able to touch my heart and help me make sense of my desires and experiences, she crafts songs that also speak to the greater society and its asperations and realities.

Bless you Mary!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sommersturm Interviews

This interview features two of the leading actors in the film. On the left is Robert Stadlober who plays Tobi the gay friend; and on the right is Hanno Koffler who plays Martin. Martin is a member of a rival gay rowing team who seeks to conquest the most homophobic member of the Barvarian team. Sweet insights into process and a great chance to meet two young actors from the film.

What I'm Watching #48

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The quote from Jan Stuart of Newsday on the DVD cover reads: "They don't come any sweeter or more appealing than this." I concur. This German film about two friends, one straight one gay, who are members of a Bavarian rowing club and who spend a summer at a rowing camp where secrets are revealed is simply wonderful. A great sound track, and some very evocative cinematography embellish the story. It's a film that shows us all how far we've come in the acceptance of gay sexuality and reminds us that we still have a ways to go but "danke Gott" we are where we are.

I would want every gay adolescent to see this film. It will give you hope.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Midterm Election 2006 Redux, part 7

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Another Senate race well worth analyzing is Ohio. Ground ZERO.

At first glance the map would suggest a schism east to west, but the story is a little more complicated. Ohio has been ruled by the Republican party for nearly a decade now. It's a party rife with criminals. The Governor (President Taft's great-grandson) Robert Taft has been convicted of gross crimes against the state; the attorney general, was an insane, minacle man who claimed the mantle of Christ while doing the Devil's work in getting Bush elected in 2004. In the past 4 years, two of Ohio's US Representatives have been sentenced to prison for their illegal actions. Ohio is in a state of raw political confusion.

So back to the map and what it tells us:

1) Ohio is shaking off the dirt. Inspite of the odds against it, Ohio has declared itself a democracy once again.

2) Urban areas have gone for the Dems: Cleveland, Youngstown, Toledo, Akron, Canton, Columbus, Dayton, and Springfield. Even Cincinnati barely posted a majority for Dewine.

3) Rural voters in predominately agriculturally based economies linger with the Republican party.

4) Ohio is once again a player, open to honest and sincere candidates regardless of their political affiliation.

What I'm Watching #47

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Food of Love" is a film based on a story, "The Page Turner" by David Leavitt. It's the story of a young man's coming out. It's the story of an improbable first fling -- the best kind! And it's the story of a mother's love and confusion. And there's were the best performance lies. Juliet Stevenson isn't a name most people would recognize. Most of her work has been done on the stage. She's a joy to watch in this touching drama and it makes you appreciate all the more her comedic performance in "Bend It Like Beckham".

A great cozy Sunday afternoon movie.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Destination: ALBANIA

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Okay, we are only human. We are creatures of intellect and emotion. I've shared these attributes freely on this blog on many occasions. Movies make me happy and sad. The War on Terrorism makes me sad and angry. And this announcement from the DOD (Department of Defense) makes me SO FUCKING ANGRY!

Okay breath though my nose.....count to ten, continue.

I am angry that my tax dollars support torture. I am angry that I am now a target for retribution when I travel overseas because my government has chosen the lowest possible road in the journey to defeat terrorism. I am angry because the lying-sacks-of-SHIT who are our elected leaders claim the mantle of Christianity when committing their sadistic, juvenile, and purely evil acts upon others in the name of our great nation.

And I am reminded of all of this by this press release:

"The Department of Defense announced today that it released three detainees from Guantanemo Bay, Cuba, to Albania. One of the detainees is an Algerian national, one is an Egyptian national, and one is an ethnic Uzbek who was born in the former Soviet Union.

"All three detainees were determined to be “No Longer Enemy Combatants” (NLEC) through a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT), a review process held at Guantanemo during 2004-2005 to determine classification status of all detainees.

"The United States has done the utmost to ensure that these three detainees will be treated humanely upon release. Our key objective has been to resettle these detainees in an environment that will permit them to rebuild their lives. Albania will provide this opportunity."

ALBANIA? A place to find opportunities?

This description of Albania from the CIA's world book of facts:

"Between 1990 and 1992 Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated physical infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents . . .. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure."

Hey, People, don't rush the gates trying to get into Albania! I'm sure there's still plenty of room for people who have been given the opportunity to rebuild their shattered lives after the world's only super power has confined and tortured them for a few years because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.... oops!

Am I the only one who feels really angry about this?

Our Latest American Hero #47

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Capt. Rhett W. Schiller, 26, Wisconsin; died Thursday in Balad Ruz from small arms fire; assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

“Wisconsin Soldier Killed”

WASHINGTON D.C. - The Department of Defense Friday announced the death of a Wisconsin soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

A paratrooper, Capt. Rhett W. Schiller, 26, of Waterford, died Thursday in Balad Ruz, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations. He was the executive officer of the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

"Capt. Rhett W. Schiller was an outstanding young officer," said his squadron commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Poppas in a statement. "Consistently caring for his soldiers and always leading through his own example, Rhett raised the spirits and motivation of all those that knew him," said Poppas. "His humble manner and friendly smile will truly be missed.  He will forever be a distinguished member of this Squadron."

Schiller was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in May 2003. 

He completed basic training and ranger school at Fort Benning, Ga., and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division upon completion. He was a platoon leader in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and later the executive officer for Company A.

Schiller deployed to New Orleans in support of the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in September 2005. He deployed to Iraq with his unit in August.

"Rhett was the epitome of the Army officer and an Airborne Ranger; he always led form the front and gave a 110 percent in all he did," said Capt. John Carson, his troop commander.

Our Latest American Hero #47 In his own words

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
These poems were written by our lastest American hero #47, Rhett W. Schiller in 1998.

I was born in Racine, Wisconsin. It is in the Southeast corner of the state. I was born in 1980 and I am currently enrolled in the Shanghai American School. This is in Shanghai, China where a great deal of development is going on that has attracted many foreign investors. I will be graduating in the spring of 1999. After graduation, I plan on continuing to study. The picture to the right was taken in Beijing, very close to Tianamen square where the massive crackdown in 1989 took place. I am on the right.

Peak Experiences

He packed his bag tight 
and said his good-byes. 
No one thought he could do it, 
He knew he would conquer it 
or Die! 

On his way up 
he nearly perished twice. 
No one thought he could do it, 
He knew he could conquer it 
If his body would suffice! 

Then, when he reached the top 
of that picturesque peak 
Too high for anyone else to see, 
yet still full of ecstasy 
Ineffably lost to the breeze.

. . . A dusty Mask . . . 

Insight grew 
from the light seeping through 
the cracked open door 
at the top of the steps; 
as I progressed. 

Without the intermittent light 
feeding my sight 
I would be disillusioned by 
the monotonous layers; 
of the lifeless stairs. 

But the light keeps me up 
from the hard, cold step 
shining through the layers 
of interminable regret; 
growing on each step. 

And as I shut the door 
with nothing more, 
the echoes of old steps 
scream as they are swept away: 
They say, stay, stay, stay . . .

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What I'm Watching #46

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"9 Dead Gay Guys" is the quintessential murder mystery farce. Stereotypes are abused. Everyone gets offended at least once!

The plot revolves around 2 Irish mates reunited in Britian who find themselves on a quest to solve a murder, to buy liquor, to get the money they need to survive, to come to terms with their own sexuality. What could be funnier? But seriously, it's plenty funny enough. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Midterm Election 2006 Redux, part 6

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Maintaining my analysis of the Senate races I bring us to Maryland. On the heals of my thoughts and map about Pennsylvania, my quip regarding the cultural milieu of Pennsylvania could almost be reversed when considering her neighbor to the south. i.e. Maryland is "Alabama" with "Pittsburgh and Philadelphia" in the center! And in truth the eastern shore and the Appalachian panhandle of Maryland are far more conservative than the urban/suburban I-95/1-83 center.

There are other truths about these regions as well. The ethnic/racial/religious diversity of the center is so completely more dynamic than the white/Christian bookmarks of the state. Conversely the economic dynamism of the center also outpaces the downturns in the east and west. In the west the major city is Cumberland, a languishing municipality who's fate is tied to the rail-transportation industry and coal; and in the east it's a mixed bag: seafood struggles; poultry plods on, and tourism hopes for mostly better days.

Yet the truth that matters most is population numbers. If you add up the margin of victory Republican candidate Steele achieved in the nine eastern most counties combined, you get a total +Republican vote of 32,568.

Compare that to the Democrat candidate Cardin's margins of victory in Baltimore City: 75,298; in Montgomery Co. 98,107; or in Prince George's Co. (America's first majority Black county--oh yea, NOT in Mississippi, not in South Carolina, not Louisiana! but MARYLAND) 99,177 votes. The fringes can be as red as they want, but with a heartland whose population amounts to 75-85% of the state's total, they do not have very much influence on the outcome.

What I'm Watching #45

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
After a day in which I was once again called upon to assist in a child restraint action (this time a kindergartener who is autistic and who "snapped" yet again; this time I was actively involved in restraining his movements to keep him from hurting himself; this time he bit my colleague; this time it lasted 25 minutes and involved screaming at the top of his lungs; this time he didn't hit his head on anything; this time he didn't put anything into his mouth that could have harmed him or upon which he might have choked) I was ready to take a trip.

It happened to be "The Trip". And I really love this film. The male leads are so damn empathetic. The attention to detail (circa 1972 to 1984), and the comic/tragic swing of the narrative provide a compelling watch that will delight your need for authenticity and squeeze your heart. This one requires kleenex! Two thumbs up for both Larry Sullivan (left) and Steve Braun (right); and an enthusiastic pinky for Jill St. John's supporting actor role (how long ago was the "Poisiden Adventure" made?)

This one is time well spent, and when I need a good cleansing cry again, a perscription waiting to be refilled.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

South Africa Joins the Civilized World of the Netherlands, France, Spain, Massachusetts, Canada, and New Jersey!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Okay, the article from the BBC first, and then my thoughts: Batten your hatches!

South Africa's parliament has voted to legalize same-sex weddings - the first African country to approve such unions.

The controversial Civil Union bill was passed by 230 votes to 41.

The legislation was introduced after the Constitutional Court ruled last year that the existing laws discriminated against homosexuals.

The ruling African National Congress ordered all MPs to turn up and vote for the bill, despite the opposition of church and traditional leaders.

The bill provides for the "voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union".

The existing Marriage Act defines a marriage as a "union between a man and a woman".

Three-line whip

During the debate before the vote, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told MPs: "In breaking with our past... we need to fight and resist all forms of discrimination and prejudice, including homophobia."

To wed or not?
Gay marriage around the globe
But, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, president of the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference, said the bill would be a blow against democracy.

"The impression we got is that there is overwhelming opposition to this bill from people throughout South Africa," he told South Africa's Daily News before the vote.

African Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe told MPs that those who voted for same-sex marriages would face divine wrath.

However, some gay rights activists have also criticized the bill, because it gives officials the right not to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies if this would conflict with their "conscience, religion and belief".

In the face of such strong feelings, the ANC had issued a three-line whip, instructing all MPs to vote in favor of the bill.

The ANC has a huge majority in parliament.

Last year, the Constitutional Court gave the government until 1 December 2006 to legalize same-sex weddings, after gay rights activists took the issue to court.

The ruling was based on the constitution, which was the first in the world specifically to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference.

This is unusual in Africa where homosexuality is largely taboo - notably in its neighbor Zimbabwe.


#1 “...controversial Civil Union bill was passed by 230 votes to 41” Controversial? It passed by a margin of 85%! 85 FUCKING percent! 17 of every 20 elected leaders in South Africa supported this simple act of equality..... It may be controversial in some places, but it doesn’t appear to be in Cape Town!

#2 “Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, president of the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference, said the bill would be a blow against democracy.” Catholics are not exactly experts on DEMOCRACY! They live by a system of authoritarian-heirarchy that has sustained the cult for over 2,000 years now. You need a spokesperson on a topic like “authority”, or “hierarchy”, or “pedophilia:” ask your local priest. But “Democracy”?--might as well ask an octopus about life on Mount Kilimanjaro!

#3 “ Africa....homosexuality is largely taboo - notably in its neighbor Zimbabwe.” Not according to my sources. Homosexuality in Zimbabwe is as taboo as Judaism in Germany was in 1943!

Midterm Election 2006 Redux, part 5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Another race for the Senate dissected by county from the 06 Mid-terms: PENNSYLVANIA.

It seemed clear, early on, that Pennsylvania had had enough of Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum as their Senator. Rick is a rabid mysoginist, homophobic, Catholic who had no visible physical connection to the state of Pennsylvania, but who was happy to represent the views of the collective Neo-Conservative movement in the United States as though everybody in Erie, College Station or Levittown was in lockstep with these "values". Shame, shame little Ricky....OR...."Liar, Lair, pants on FIRE!" Power corrupts!

So here's the map. Pennsylvania has often been described in progressive circles as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with "Alabama" in the middle. The results of the midterm election would suggest that while this was once true, there is a definite chink in the armor of "Dixie" in the Keystone State!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Patrick Murphy, PA 8

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The words of thanks sent to me (and thousands of others) from the newly elected House Representative to the US Congress from Pennsylvania's 8th District:

"Dear Friends,

"Thank you. You put your hopes and hearts in my hands - and for that I will be more grateful then I can ever express or you might ever realize.

"For me the journey began in 138 degree heat, on the streets of Baghdad. We were sent to battle without enough troops and without a plan to win the peace. 19 guys from my unit, who never made it home, deserved a government as honest and as decent as they were.

"Now begins the real journey - not just for me, but for all of us here in the 8th district. We are going to bring back optimism. We are going to bring back hope. And, we are going to bring back possibility.

"As your Congressman-Elect I am more humbled, more hopeful and more assured in my faith and in the American people than I ever could have imagined when I began this journey over a year ago.

"Thank you for your support. Thank you for your trust. And I promise you one thing - I will make you proud."

For me, it was money well spent!

A Dream Whose Time Has Finally Come

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Something wonderful happened in DC today. The ground was broken for a National Memorial to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the heals of an election that has clearly saved this nation from the fascist grip of the MOST corrupt, incompitent, and greed-based administration in our imperfect yet perfectible history, this day's event is among the most ironic and amazing I have ever seen.

The King quote in the image sums up my feelings about this day, about our national aspirations, about my faith in them: "With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."

For more information and inspiration, visit this website:

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This World ~ Our Fragile Island Home

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.

I saw above a sea of hills
A solitary planet shine,
And there was no one near or far
To keep the world from being mine.

> Sara Teasdale

Midterm Election 2006 Redux, part 4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Another state of particular interest and the only open-seat for the Senate not to go to the Democrats was Tennessee. An illustration of voter preference by county actually shows a lot more blue than the map of Missouri. And like McCaskill, Ford too, won the major urban areas -- Nashville and Memphis. But what he could not take was the extreme eastern corridor from Chattanooga and Knoxville to Johnson City. As the former mayor of Chattanooga, Corker's hold on that portion of the state seems like a given, and the degree of blue throughout the center of the state says alot about Ford's strategy. It just wasn't enough.

I Took A Little Trip

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Couldn't sleep around 4am and so got up and played on the computer. I went to my blog and then just randomly hit the "next blog" option to see where it would take me. I was transported to blogs from: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Myramar, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Sudan, and Taiwan.

Images of snow falling on Krakow, the view from a dorm room in China, the top of mountain in India. Thoughts from a dad and his newly adopted child on a beach in Australia, a raver boi in Buenos Aries, a seeker of peace in Tel Aviv. The world is getting smaller all the time.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What I'm Watching #44

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Posterboy is an enigmatic, plodding, documentariesque film that demands your attention, but nothing else. No new thing is explored. No old thing is improved upon.

I watched it all...and I give it 2 stars.

Midterm Election 2006 Redux, part 3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
One of my favorite victories was in Missouri. Here's a breakdown of the voter support for Senator-elect Claire McCaskill by county.

The major urban areas (St, Louis & Kansas City) voted for her. But so did the central-western portion of the state (D-Rep Ike Skelton's territory), the southeastern corridor from St. Louis to the Arkansas boarder, AND the extreme southeastern Mississippi Delta (a nationally consistent Democratic stronghold).

Lost regions? The southwest. Joplin, Missouri might be on route 66, but it's clearly NOT on route 06! And apparently citizens of the state capital are also committed Republicans. But notice all the pale red. 5% or less away from being pale wonder, Missouri is such a PURPLE state!

When I Think About You....

powered by ODEO

This from the Scala Girls Choir of Belgium. Delicious!

Autumn Leaves ~ I Shall Die

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Conscientious Objector" (I Shall Die)

I shall die
but that is all
I shall do for Death

I hear him leading his horse out of the stall
I hear the clatter on the barn floor
He is in haste
he has business in Cuba
business in the Balkans
Many calls to make this morning
But I will not hold the bridle while he cinches the girth
And he may mount by himself
I will not give him a leg up

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip
I will not tell him which way the fox ran
And with his hoof on my breast
I will not tell him where the black boy hides in the swamp

I shall die
but that is all
that I shall do for Death
I am not on his payroll

I will not tell him the whereabouts of my enemies either
Though he promises me much
I will not map him the route to any man's door
Am I a spy in the land of the living
that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city are safe with me
Never through me shall you be overcome

I shall die
but that is all
I shall do for Death

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
1892 - 1950

Friday, November 10, 2006

Where were you in November of 1968?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I was climbing my favorite Crab Apple tree!

I was watching the nightly news and listening while Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were telling me about the number of men killed that day in Viet Nam.

I was riding my bike again without fear that the riots that had devastated nearby Detroit would somehow bring terror to my town.

I was thinking about my grandfather, who had died that past July.

I was watching Star Trek on TV and imagining a world where all human beings were equal and only "aliens" were different.

I was in Mrs. Booker's third grade -- perhaps my least consequential year in elementary school, yet the first time that I was acknowledged as an "artist".

Pick a year and image the first 6 things that come to mind for you.

History is not a pantheon from the past. History is your story. This was a slice of mine....inspired by a very historic week.

Our Latest American Hero #46

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army 1st Lt. Amos C. R. Bock, 24, of New Madrid, Mo., died on Oct. 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Bock was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

“New Madrid Soldier Killed In Baghdad”
Camden Bock was remembered as a stellar student and a natural leader.

NEW MADRID, Mo. -- A soldier from Southeast Missouri died Sunday while serving in Iraq.

First Lt. Camden Bock was on patrol in Baghdad when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. Bock, 24, of New Madrid, was a member of the 101st Airborne based in Fort Campbell, Ky.

Family, friends and teachers remember Bock, a West Point graduate, as a dedicated skeet and trap shooter, a stellar student and a natural leader.

"He was very bright, very outgoing, very much his own person. From childhood to a young adult he was always mature beyond his years," said Kate Hampton, who taught Bock in seventh and eighth grades at Immaculate Conception School in New Madrid.

Bock's mother, Jill, is managing editor of the Sikeston Standard-Democrat. His father, Riley Bock, is a former prosecuting attorney for New Madrid County. Riley Bock said the family was "counting down the days" until Camden's homecoming, which was scheduled for Nov. 14.

"To us it's a big personal loss, but it's also a tremendous loss to the community and to the country," he said.

Bock compared the community response to seeds that lay dormant for years sprouting again in the rain. "We've heard from people we'd lost contact with for years, so there is some positive," he said.

Bock was one of five U.S. soldiers killed Sunday in separate gunfire and roadside bomb attacks. That brought total U.S. deaths in October to 85, the fifth-highest monthly figure since the invasion in 2003.

Funeral plans are still pending because military officials have not yet given a date when the body will be transported home.

Bock, an honor roll student, joined the National Guard while still in high school. He was part of the 1140th Engineer Battalion, Company C in Sikeston. He excelled there and in the summer of 2000 entered West Point as one of the Army's 1,200 elite candidates for officer training.

At West Point, he majored in geospatial engineering, a field of geographic mapping, and received his degree in 2004. He deployed to Iraq in late November 2005.

His father said he was a platoon leader in southern Baghdad charged with leading 20 men and four Humvees on patrols. A typical schedule would be three days of active patrol and one day for vehicle repairs.

"They're not allowed to tell you a whole lot, but it was obviously dangerous work. He didn't want to say anything that would make his mother worry," Riley Bock said. "We chitchatted on the phone regularly, mostly about family stuff. He was always upbeat. He just did the best he could to take care of his men and do his job."

Teachers and coaches from Bock's time at Central High School in New Madrid remember a dedicated student who enriched the classroom.

"He always aspired to a certain excellence. I think he looked at military as 'these people have a plan' and he liked a plan, liked the idea of order," said Hampton.

But Bock never shied away from speaking his mind, she said, recalling that even as a youngster he regularly gathered classmate's signatures and petitioned for changes to rules on uniform restrictions or recess time.

"He was very much concerned with what was fair," she said.

In a silent protest about rest-room break rules, Bock constructed a miniature outhouse out of construction paper and set it by his desk.

"He was never ugly about it, but he kept it there to say 'just in case you think I don't still disagree with you, look at this,'" she said.

Arlen Pixley coached Bock as a wrestler in the 125-pound weight class. He remembers a leader and fierce competitor who always put the team ahead of himself.

"He was a very savvy athlete. He was never the strongest when we went into the weight room, but he made up for it with his mental toughness," he said.

Pixley said the news has come as a serious awakening to the school.

"Even the students here who didn't know him have been affected by it. When they put their heads down at night, I hope they remember Camden and just have respect elevated for all the folks that put their butts on the line overseas so we can sit here and pop a soda at the end of the day," Pixley said.

Michael Jensen, publisher of the Sikeston Standard Democrat, said he got an unexpected reminder of Bock while cleaning his desk recently. He found a thank-you note Bock wrote for a gift of golf clubs when he was 11 years old.

"That was him; he was the kind of young man who, because of his upbringing, would take the time to write a thank-you note," Jensen said.

"Words can't express the sadness we feel right now."

Those who knew Bock are in the early stages of setting up a college scholarship in his honor. No memorial events have yet been scheduled.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ticklebox Repair #2

Loved this joke!

A woman came home, screeching her car into the driveway, and ran into the house.

She slammed the door and shouted at the top of her lungs, "Honey pack your bags. I won the lottery!"

The husband said, "Oh my God! What should I pack, beach stuff or mountain stuff?"

"Doesn't matter," she said. "Just get out."

Midterm Election 2006 Redux, part 2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
More history is made. The 110th Congress will have more women seated as Senators than any other in the history of our nation.

The Republicans returned 2 incumbent women, and the Democrats 5. The Democrats further are sending 2 addtional women senators to congress who will replace men (1 Democrat, 1 Republican).

Of all the Sentorial seats chosen yesterday, 9 went to Republicans (All Incumbents), and 24 went to Democrats (16 to Incumbents). The percentage of Republican women elected to the senate from all the Republicans elected was 22%, and the percentage of Democrat women elected to the senate from all the Democrats elected was 21%. The total percentage of women in the senate is 16%: 5% Republican and 11% Democrat.

The percentage of women in the population of the United States is 51%....35% TO GO!

Hats off to: (top to bottom, left to right in the photo)

Barbara Boxer, California
Maria Cantwell, Washington
Hillary Clinton, New York
Susan Collins, Maine
Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina
Diane Feinstein, California
Kaye Bailey Hutchinson, Texas
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
Mary Landrieu, Louisiana
Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas
Claire McCaskill, Missouri
Barbara Mikulski, Maryland
Lisa Murkowski, Alaska
Patty Murray, Washington
Olympia Snow, Maine
Debbia Stabinow, Michigan

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Midterm Election 2006 Redux

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I have never before committed so much of my person funds to electing a progressive slate of politicians in so many places in a federal election. I have never sent so many letters challenging my friends to join me. I have on this blog and many other venues ear-marked and advertised candidates from stem to stern across this nation. And I am happy by the NET results, even as some of the particulars deeply sadden me: Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, and Harold Ford in Tennessee, por exemplo.

Hopefully, you appreciate the photo collage of MOST of the new members. All are Democrats...just a fact.

Here is a review of my last prognostication. And here’s the key to the code: 1)OMGWW - Oh My God, We Won!; 2) FPAWL - Fucking Piss Ant, We Lost!, 3) NSTVY - Never Saw This Victory (Yippy)!; 4) CBSUC - Called, But Still Under Contention; 5) TWSDK - Tonight, We Still Don’t Know.

8th District - TWSDK - [ 0 ]

11th District - OMGWW - [ + ]

5th District - NSTVY - [ + ]
8th District - OMGWW - [ + ]

1st District - TWSDK - [ 0 ]

1st District - FPAWL - [ - ]

1st District - TWSDK - [ 0 ]

4th District - FPAWL - [ - ]
5th District - FPAWL - [ - ]
7th District - OMGWW - [ + ]

22nd District - OMGWW - [ + ]

2nd District - OMGWW - [ + ]

1st District - OMGWW - [ + ]
2nd District - NSTVY - [ + ]
3rd District - OMGWW - [ + ]

1st District - NSTVY - [ + ]
6th District - FPAWL - [ - ]

8th Dristrct - OMGWW - [ + ]

6th District - FPAWL - [ - ]

3rd - District - NSTVY - [ + ]
4th District - FPAWL - [ - ]

2nd District - OMGWW - [ + ]
8th District - OMGWW - [ + ]
9th District - OMGWW - [ + ]

2nd District - TWSDK - [ 0 ]
6th District - OMGWW - [ + ]
15th District - TWSDK - [ 0 ]
18th District - OMGWW - [ + ]

4th District - NSTVY - [ + ]
6th District - FPAWL - [ - ]
7th District - OMGWW - [ + ]
8th District - OMGWW - [ + ]
10th District - OMGWW - [ + ]

19th District - OMGWW - [ + ]
20th District - OMGWW - [ + ]
24th District - OMGWW - [ + ]
26th District - FPAWL - [ - ]
29th District - CBSUC - [ 0 ]

1st District - NSTVY - [ + ]
2nd District - OMGWW - [ + ]

2nd District - TWSDK - [ 0 ]
4th District - FPAWL - [ - ]
5th District - OMGWW - [ + ]

11th District - OMGWW - [ + ]

13th District - CBSUC - [ 0 ]
16th District - OMGWW - [ + ]
22nd District - OMGWW - [ + ]

What I'm Watching #43

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Hmmm... it's "Duetscher Kino-Tag!"

My second German film of the day. Another Gay-themed comedy. The plot: A) Local boy missed a crucial goal and is then outed and kicked out of this team, family, hometown--but before he leaves he accepts the challenge to create an all Gay soccer team to come back and take on his former squad. B), you can figure the rest out, right? It's kinda of like "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," "Bend It Like Beckham," and "Billy Elliot" all go for the same ball and end up joining to score a sweetly satisfying goal. C) 3 thumbs up!

ps- have a box of kleenex on hand!

Autumn Leaves ~ Sparks

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.


When I was eight
I lit a coal stove every morning
staring at the sparks jump and
dance out of flames
as I fanned them with a palm leaf
Mother said they were fairies in exile
turned into diamonds
She knit a crown
to adorn my childhood

When I was eight
I went fishing in a flooded stream
I floated on water
pebbles were my pillows
I looked up at the milky clouds
spreading across the sky
Father said they were angels in exile
turned into waterfalls
He folded a boat
to bear away my childhood

> Wang Ping
1967 -

What I'm Watching #42

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This is a delightful German movie with English subtitles. The story is Romantic farce about a hapless and, at moments, sexually confused police offer and the young, gay, chop shop owner who fate brings into his life as a stranger, and who ends up treating him more like a friend than his friends. It's funny, sexy, and it's predictability doesn't spoil its delivery. A wonderful little film.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stress Buster

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Feeling the pressure of the midterm elections? Needing to unwind and relax those tensed muscles?

I've got an suggestion. Why not get in touch with Mike Jones? Until recently, he was real help to Mega-Evangelist T. Haggard; why he even assisted Brother Haggard in making his prayers come true!

In his last prayer from the pulpit, Rev. Ted asked God to "expose the truth." Little did he know, God had a plan: Mike Jones.

His Advertise from his website:



Voted best massage and personal trainer for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 by readers of the community newspaper Out Front Colorado. Former state bodybuilding and powerlifting champion.

I offer a deep tissue and swedish style massage with the pleasure of the man in mind. If you like a strong muscle man to bring pleasure to you then please call me. I am a muscle stud with a friendly personality and a caring heart. When the Broadway shows play in town the cast and crew call upon me for massage.

I am 5"8 and weigh 190 lbs.
My arms are 18 inches.
My chest is 47 inches.
My waist is 32 inches.
My thighs are 24 inches.
I have brown hair and blue eyes.

My rates are as follows:

In calls at my place in Capitol Hill of Denver: $70.00 per hour $90.00 1 1/2 hrs.

Out calls start at $100.00.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What I'm Watching #41

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A bit of a film afternoon/evening here...

And this documentary from the Czech Republic mesmerizes.

It takes a group of about 20 young men (14 to 19) who are prostitutes on the streets of Prague and allows them to speak. To share their stories. To respond to common themes: What was your first time like? What are you afraid of? What do you want to become?

The answers are both poignant and profound. The furtive glances, the averted eyes, the defiance and the innocence, firmly establishes the correctness of the film's title. If this is my last post, I have sold everything and moved to Prague to establish a safe house to young run-aways.....

What I'm Watching #40

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
NOT! This one sucks little soft bunny fur!

I know that we live in a time when ANYONE can make a movie...and I used to think it was lamentable that ANYONE can make a child, boy was I naive! But just like children, some people shouldn't be allowed to make movies! ~ for the good of society. People like the one's who put this looser together! But unlike children, there is no hope for redemption with movies. Every child has a future as yet unwritten. But film's made without any decernable effort at writing are trapped forever in their dysfunctional digital/celluloid reality. And that's the nicest thing I can say about this one!

Don't let the cover tempt you, don't let TLAVideo's pithy little blurb entice you, this is just a BAD, BAD movie!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Final Prognostication

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
On the cusp of what will be one of the most interesting, potentially corrupted, and therefore controversial midterm elections in the history of the United States, I offer this final analysis of where things stand in the House of Representative Congressional contests. It will, no doubt, be obsolete before anyone gets a chance to consider it as more districts churn in and out of various camps and Americans become both more excited and more anxious about Tuesday's election.

SOME Specific thoughts.

#1) Watch the Mountain West. In recent years far more RED than even the south with the notable exception of 3 out of the "4 corners" districts, and the tide is shifting. The epicenter of change appears to be Colorado, and this week's revelation of the Rev. Ted Haggard's Drugging and Adulterous misdeeds isn't gonna stem the tied. I'm calling for 3 seats to change to the Dems in Colorado. And from there Democrats stand to pick up a seat each in New Mexico and Arizona. Watch closely either the wins or narrow margins of defeat in Idaho and Wyoming. Next, and, of perhaps more important long term effects on the political future, are the governorships: Democrat incumbents in Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming are safe bets to win reelection; and Democrats are leading or completely tied in Colorado, Nevada and Idaho. Finally, Montana's governor is a Democrat who is not up for reelection this year. Can you say, "near SWEEP?" (poor little lonely, Utah....)

#2) Indiana is looking like it's congressional delegation will go from 2 DEMs and 6 REPs to 5 DEMs and 3 REPs. Woo Woo Hoosiers!

#3) Other states on the verge of shift their political majority from Republican to Democrat include: Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Mexico (and afore mentioned Colorado; and Ohio could easily end up split down the middle 9 to 9.

#4) And what is the most exciting aspect of this? The end of tyranny. The return to compromise, consensus and gridlock! Whoever said, "Divided we fall...." wasn't talking about the Federal government.

Our Latest American Hero #45

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Marine Pvt. Edwardo J. Lopez, 21, of Aurora, Ill.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; died Oct. 19 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

There were scenes of finality this week in many towns, where the turned cemetery dirt was still fresh, or where burial ceremonies were being planned inside funeral homes.

In Aurora, Ill., on Monday, American flags held by volunteers snapped in a brisk wind outside San Pablo Lutheran Church as mourners said farewell to Marine sniper Edwardo "Eddy" J. Lopez, 21. Lopez, a lance corporal, had survived duty in Afghanistan but was killed Oct. 19 during combat in the insurgent stronghold of Al Anbar province.

Before he left for Iraq, Lopez had come to the church of his childhood to hear one final service. Afterward, he sought out the Rev. Alex Merlo and asked for his blessing.

"He said: 'If something happens to me, if I die in war, take me back to our church. Make sure I get home,' " Merlo recalled.

The reverend kept his promise. Lopez was back at San Pablo on Monday, inside a flag-draped casket.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What I'm Watching #39

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Neverland" is a very tightly woven allegory based on Barrie's original fantasy "Peter Pan". It is a rich and fascinating film full of wonderfully understated performances which are each a credit to both the director and actors. 4 stars out of 5 for me. And Please, please, please, tackle "Alice In Wonderland" next! Bravo, Damion Dietz (writer and director), Bravisimo!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Poetry In Children's Art #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.

The Sun woke me this morning loud
and clear, saying "Hey! I’ve been
trying to wake you up for fifteen
minutes. Don’t be so rude, you are
only the second poet I’ve ever chosen
to speak to personally
so why aren’t you more attentive? If I could
burn you through the window I would
to wake you up. I can’t hang around here all day."
"Sorry, Sun, I stayed up late last night talking to Hal."

"When I woke up Mayakovsky he was
a lot more prompt" the Sun said
petulantly. "Most people are up
already waiting to see if I’m going
to put in an appearance."
I tried to apologize "I missed you yesterday."
"That’s better" he said. "I didn’t
know you’d come out." "You may be
wondering why I’ve come so close?"
"Yes" I said beginning to feel hot
wondering if maybe he wasn’t burning me anyway.
"Frankly I wanted to tell you
I like your poetry. I see a lot
on my rounds and you’re okay. You may
not be the greatest thing on earth, but
you’re different. Now, I’ve heard some
say you’re crazy, they being excessively
calm themselves to my mind, and other
crazy poets think that you’re a boring
reactionary. Not me.
Just keep on
like I do and pay no attention. You’ll
find that people always will complain
about the atmosphere, either too hot
or cold too bright or too dark, days
too short or too long.
If you don’t appear
at all one day they think you’re lazy
or dead. Just keep right on, I like it.

And don’t worry about your lineage
poetic or natural. The Sun shines on
the jungle, you know, on the tundra
the sea, the ghetto. Wherever you were
I knew it and saw you moving. I was waiting
for you to get to work.

And now that you
are making your own days, so to speak,
even if no one reads but me
you won’t be depressed. Not
everyone can look up, even at me. It hurts their eyes."
"Oh Sun, I’m so grateful to you!"

"Thanks and remember I’m watching. It’s
easier for me to speak to you out
here. I don’t have to slide down
between buildings to get your ear.
I know you love Manhattan, but
you ought to look up more often.
And always embrace things, people earth
sky stars, as I do, freely and with
the appropriate sense of space. That
is your inclination, known in the heavens
and you should follow it to hell, if
necessary, which I doubt.
Maybe we’ll speak again in Africa, of which I too
am specially fond. Go back to sleep now
Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem
in that brain of yours as my farewell."

"Sun, don’t go!" I was awake
at last. "No, go I must, they’re calling me."
"Who are they?"
Rising he said "Some
day you’ll know. They’re calling to you
too." Darkly he rose, and then I slept.

~ Frank O’Hara, 1926 - 1966

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Our Latest American Hero #44

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Pfc. Stephen D. Bicknell, 19, of Prattville, Ala.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Oct. 15 of injuries sustained when two land mines detonated near his Humvee in Samarra, Iraq. Also killed was Sgt. Lester D. Baroncini Jr.

“City Struggles As Another Son Falls”

PRATTVILLE -- Prayer is what Sandra Parker has turned to. So has Bud Anderson. And he finds himself thinking a lot about war -- and sacrifice. Duane Jackson is simply committed to winning in Iraq so that more lives aren't lost in vain.

This town and its 32,000 residents are in mourning again for the second time in just four months. First, before the start of summer, Army Sgt. Carlos Pernell died in a mortar attack on his base in Baghdad. Then, a week ago today in Samarra, Pfc. Stephen D. Bicknell lost his life when his Humvee struck a land mine.

Bicknell, 19, was a 2005 graduate of Prattville High School and a standout on the gridiron. He was a quarterback for the Lions and played in the 2004 state championship game against Hoover. Pernell, too, was a football standout, graduating in 2000. He was 25.

"It's too soon to go through something like this again," Parker said. "I stood on Main Street with my two children when Sergeant Pernell's procession went by. It just tears my heart out, these two young men gone. I can't imagine what their families are going through. All you can do is pray for them. I hope they know we share their grief as well."

Prattville is a good-sized community, but it still has the feel of a small town. City officials are working with Bicknell's family and the military on plans to commemorate the young paratrooper. Mayor Jim Byard ordered flags throughout the city to fly at half-staff until after the funeral, which has not been scheduled.

"I have spoken with Pfc. Bicknell's family daily since we heard the news," the mayor said. "We wrapped our arms around Sergeant Pernell's family when we welcomed him home. ... These two young men are American heroes, and they deserve our gratitude and respect."

Flags were lowered for Pernell. Many homes and businesses displayed flags or black mourning wreaths. Hundreds attended his funeral at the high school, and thousands more lined the procession route all the way to the Elmore County cemetery where he was laid to rest.

Anderson expects the same during Bicknell's services.

"We're a patriotic town," said Anderson, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War. "We can get through this together. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of prayers offered in the churches around here on Sunday. I'm sure there will be a lot of people pausing when they think of these young men. They died for us. They are our best."

Going through the grieving process as a community will help in the healing process, said John Schmidt, a teaching pastor at Montgomery's Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church.

"When someone loses their life in battle, in the line of duty, it is the greatest act of love and service you can give," he said. "It is important to mark that with a ceremony. Ceremonies remind us of the most important things in life. They show us that there are things worth living for and there are things worth dying for."

Melanie Dixon is saddened by the soldiers' death but wonders how many more must die.

"I'm so sorry that these soldiers died, and I honor their service," she said. "But I just have to wonder when we are going to bring our military back from Iraq. It's not worth all this pain."

The job has to be finished in Iraq and the war on terrorism, said Duane Jackson, a high school classmate of Pernell's.

"Carlos wanted to be a soldier. He was going to make it a career," he said. "He was killed during his second tour in Iraq. What I've heard about Private Bicknell is that he was a solid young man who wanted to serve his country. We have to win, for Carlos, Private Bicknell and all the others who have died. We have to win."

Batman, Superman, Green Lantern? Move Over~!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The company is called Class Comics and is based in Canada. And "Class" is its act! The art is stunningly beautiful, the quality is top-notch; and the content? XXX!

These SUPER Heros are not the ones I enjoyed as a youth, but as an adult; well, they're quite compelling!

Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
And in this season of political despair, that means contributions to candidates who are in tough races.

My checks have gone to many. I am just an elementary school teacher; and while single and working for a generous system, I am NOT a wealthy man. So I have made the choice to bite the bullet, and forego discressionary spending to hopefully be part of the growing tide for change in a way that not only benefits my aspirations for this great nation, but helps to counter the corporate mechanisms that render too many votes in other places neuter.

My list?

Nick Lampson - TX22 ~ $50
Nancy Boyda - KS2 ~ $50
Brad Ellsworth - IN8 ~ $50
Tammy Duckworth - IL6 ~ $100
Gerald McNerney - CA11 ~ $50
Patricia Madrid - NM1 ~ $50
Ed Perlmutter - CO7 ~ $50
John Hall - NY19 ~ $50
Michael Arcuri - NY22 ~ $50
Patrick Murphy - PA8 ~ $250
Andrew Duck - MD6 ~ $100
Chris Van Hollen - MD8 ~ $25
Heathe Shuller - NC11 ~ $50
Ron Klein - FL22 ~ $50
Christine Jennings - FL13 ~ $50
Ken Lucas - KY4 ~ $50

Clare McCaskill - MO ~ $200
Harold Ford - TN ~ $150
Ned LaMont - CT ~ $50

Total: $1,325 My Federally mandated cap is $2,100; My Mortgage payment is $1,953..... I have supported 19 candidates for public office in critically important districts and states for less than it costs me to enjoy 30 days in the comfort of my home. All things are relative, but no matter what happens on November 7th; my conscience is clear. I know I have stepped up to the plate and done the research, watched the trends, and made the wisest investments that I can.

Your Turn....before it's too late.