Saturday, June 30, 2007

What I'm Watching #90

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Today is a day to watch movies! No specific reason except that I am in the mood and I have a backlog of DVD's to get through. So it's a mini international film festival at casa randuwa~!

I started the day with "Bathhouse." A Filipino film written in Tagalog with English subtitles. It's really hard to know what to say about this one. Well, that's not true in one sense. I could easily tell you that it's a dog! But I don't think that that would be exactly fair in this instance, and so I'm going to take a stab at being more culturally sensitive. Clearly making a film about gay issues in the Philippines is not the same sort of undertaking as it would be in the United States, Canada, or Mexico for instance. So something must be given to the people behind this film for their desire to tell a story.

What isn't really theirs to claim in any sense of the art of story telling is original or believable themes and/or dialogue. Or Nuanced, plausible, sympathetic acting. OR Inventive, supportive, even interesting cinematography. EVEN, Consistently legible sub-titles! I could go on and on, but there's no point: the 76 minutes of the film was plenty LONG enough! Even the temptation of wondering what this film could have been with the right technical and financial expertise and support is only a fleeting wisp of a thought quickly and mercifully squelched by the phrase, "Why bother?" So much for sensitivity!

What I'm Watching #91

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The second selection of the day was an Italian film shot mostly in Istanbul. "Steam: The Turkish Bath" is the story of Francesco, a twenty something interior designer whose marriage is more about arguing than love-making. Enter an inheritance, a property, a "hamam" (Turkish Bath) left to him by an estranged Aunt who he never knew. So off to Istanbul he goes to find someone to buy the property.

However, when he arrives, the lure of Istanbul begins to awaken in his heart a deeper sense of life: what he feels, what he desires, who he really is.

The movie's production values are very powerful in their simplicity as they are combined with a naive sense of the exotic. Eventually his wife arrives to discover things about her husband that both unravels her world and, then through a sudden twist, completely redefines it.

This is a powerfully written and deeply moving film. It left me with an affirmed desire to see Istanbul for myself one day. And in a final thought, the actor who plays the lead, Allessandro Gassman, is absolutely one of the most beautiful men I've ever seen.

What I'm Watching #92

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
My final film comes from the Netherlands. "Antonia's Line" is a Dutch film that's sort of like "Chocolat," "Forrest Gump," and "Our Town" all rolled into one! And it's absolutely one of the most female centric, life affirming films ever made. It's like a Dutch version of "The Color Purple." In other words, it's prototypical in an excellent way.

The story is that of Antonia (and her daughter, Danielle); who returns to her childhood home at the end of World War II for the occasion of her mother's death. They find a town dull from war, filled with souls living in quiet desperation and because they will not compromise their own powerful beliefs in life, they become catalysts that awaken what is best in the majority of those around them, and provoke the worst in a few who's souls are not willing to accept grace (and therefore find their rewards in judgement). And like "Our Town" the joys of life are tempered by its tragedies; but always there is the sense that a woman's touch brings healing. Not perfect restoration, just a grace-filled place in which to continue the art of life.

I saw this film in a local theater in Dupont Circle when it first came out. My life was different then, and like the characters in the film, I found myself reaching out to Antonia for wisdom and grace. It's just that kind of amazing piece of filmmaking. No wonder it was chosen as the Best Foreign Language film of 1996 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. You will be glad that you took the time to experience this film, so do find a way.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Deer, Deer, ME: A Conundrum

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Or is it?

For years now I have intentionally worked at creating a yard that was natural. Overall, I have planted perennials to reduce my efforts and have allowed them to invade spaces as the available light, moister, and nutrients beckoned them on. I have also allowed "volunteer" trees to take root and grow: to that end, I have juvenile Dogwoods, White Oaks, Northern Red Oaks, Red Buds, and even Sugar Maples now reaching for the sun at 6 to 16 feet around the postage stamp-sized range that really is my backyard.

So how can I be surprised when animals join the mix?

It's about 5:45 PM, and from my upstairs bathroom window, I have just taken this photo of a deer. She's both beautiful and quite pregnant. And for the last week or so she's been very interested in eating plants in my backyard. And believe me, there are plants in my backyard that I would love to have her consume, however, most of her preferences don't include them. She's eaten my impatiens; she's topped the flowers from my Phlox and my Primrose. She's munched on my Hosta, my Geraniums, even my Christmas Cactus. And my tropical plants? They are her exotic palate's favorites! She's consumed hundreds of dollars of potted plants and annuals! And until I met her, I hated her with a passion.

And now?

Now, I'm just conflicted every which way but loose!

She's pregnant. She's living in a strange world -- i.e. not the one her ancestors freely inhabited. So she's a refugee. She's got her instincts, but not a clear vocabulary for negotiating her world. She does what she needs to to survive, and my gardens are not being violated maliciously. They are simply a gift to her, whether I offer them or not. If I begrudge her the opportunity to treat herself to my largess: it's more a statement of my humanity than hers. And all of these mental machinations are moot in her mind's innocent eye.

But what is it in my mind?

Is this just an opportunity to protect my "land"? A chance to exert my authority over nature?

Or, a celebration of my success at blurring the limits between the forest and my home? A creation of a haven for wild animals within the boundaries of suburbia?

I really don't have an answer yet. But I really do think she is beautiful.

And I've seen enough dead deer along the roads around Washington, D. C. to know both the difference and the odds of her survival without a haven.

Like a French movie, this post just ends....

Racism Fact #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
In light of the US Supreme Court's reversal yesterday negating the efforts of both the Seattle and Louisville public school to create more equitable systems of public education, I feel compelled to do something. So from time to time I will offer facts and ideas that illustrate why we as a nation have so much further to go in achieving an equitable society. Clearly, I speak from a place of privilege as a white male, but I will not allow that to stop me from speaking out on this issue. The guard is no less the prisoner because he holds the key.

FACT: White males who drop out of school are 5 times more likely to be employed than black males who graduate from high school. FIVE TIMES!? In other words the unemployment rate for white male high school dropouts is 5%; the rate for black male high school graduates, 30%.

SOURCE: US Representative Artur Davis, AL 7th Cong. Dist.

Go Green, America!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa

A Recommendation

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
If you're looking to buy DVD's and you're interested in films with Gay/Lesbian themes, no place I've found is a better source than TLA Video out of Philadelphia. You can find both obscure independent titles and foreign films. And they offer a wide variety of other movies, as well. I've ordered from them online for years now, and usually my purchases arrived with two days, sometimes even overnight. I may not always love the films, but I have nothing by praise for TLA. Check them out.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Paradigm Swings

Originally uploaded by Randuwa

What I'm Watching #89

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Sometimes you can wonder if we really do move forward as a people. In the midst of this insane administration and our present malaise as a nation, it might be easy to believe that progress is fleeting, at best; and impossible at worst. If you ever feel that way, I have a suggestion: watch "Our Sons".

I picked this one up on sale, and I have to admit it was primarily because of the actor Zeljko Ivanek (whom I've loved since his role in Mass Appeal")--He's the one on the cover of the DVD that you can't name! I'd never heard of "Our Sons" until I saw it in the TLA Video catalogue, and I have no idea were it first aired or why it was produced. It was made in 1990. I'm sure it was a well meaning attempt by veteran actors (Julie Andrews & Ann Margaret) and young up-and-comers (Hugh Grant and Zeljko) to participate in a meaningful and empowering film about AIDS. And that's the nicest thing I can say about it.

The writing is sophmoric, the production values kind of like 70's TV, and the portrayal of Arkansas as Ann Margaret's character's home (especially her "trailer park" neighborhood) is so HORRIFICALLY stereotypical I shudder while typing this. (Ann's own chain smoking character ought to have learned how to smoke before pretending to do it and calling it acting!) I can't imagine any movie today offering such stereotyping as a serious attempt at portraying anything, let alone poor maligned Arkansas.

Zeljko I love, but sorry, zero stars for this one.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gay Hair?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I hardly know where to start.... Leonardo Fibonacci di Pisa role over in your grave! And how does what hemisphere (northern/southern) contribute to the genetic/magnetic swirl of one's hair? So it's a gay thing, too!

Yowsa, yowsa, yowsa! -- who knew? Fascinating reading....

"The Science of Gaydar"

(If sexual orientation is biological, are the traits that make people seem gay innate, too? The new research on everything from voice pitch to hair whorl.)

EXAMPLE A: Hair Whorl (Men) Gay men are more likely than straight men to have a counterclockwise whorl.

As a presence in the world—a body hanging from a subway strap or pressed into an elevator, a figure crossing the street—I am neither markedly masculine nor notably effeminate. Nor am I typically perceived as androgynous, not in my uniform of Diesels and boots, not even when I was younger and favored dangling earrings and bright Jack Purcells. But most people immediately read me (correctly) as gay. It takes only a glance to make my truth obvious. I know this from strangers who find gay people offensive enough to elicit a remark—catcalls from cab windows, to use a recent example—as well as from countless casual social engagements in which people easily assume my orientation, no sensitive gaydar necessary. I’m not so much out-of-the-closet as “self-evident,” to use Quentin Crisp’s phrase, although being of a younger generation, I can’t subscribe to his belief that it is a kind of disfigurement requiring lavender hair rinse.

I once placed a personal ad in which I described myself as “gay-acting/gay-appearing,” partly as a jab at my peers who prefer to be thought of as “str8” but mostly because it’s just who I am. Maybe a better way to phrase it would have been “third-sexer,” the category advanced by the gay German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld 100 years ago. The label fell into disrepute, but lately a number of well-known researchers in the field of sexual orientation have been reviving it based on an extensive new body of research showing that most of us, whether top or bottom, butch or femme, or somewhere in between, share a kind of physical otherness that locates us in our own quadrant of the gender matrix, more like one another than not. Whatever that otherness is seems to come from somewhere deep within us. It mostly defies our efforts to disguise it. That’s what we mean by gaydar—not the skill of the viewer so much as the telltale signs most gay people project, the set of traits that make us unmistakably one.

The late psychologist and sexologist John Money famously called these the details of our “gendermaps,” which he believed are drawn primarily by life’s experience and social conditioning. Money planted some of the earliest flags in the nature-versus-nurture war by claiming that dysfunctional parents, not inborn biology, is what produced “sissy boys,” tomboys, and other gender variants. But today, the pendulum has swung just about as far in the other direction as possible. A small constellation of researchers is specifically analyzing the traits and characteristics that, though more pronounced in some than in others, not only make us gay but also make us appear gay.

At first read, their findings seem like a string of unlinked, esoteric observations. Statistically, for instance, gay men and lesbians have about a 50 percent greater chance of being left-handed or ambidextrous than straight men or women. The relative lengths of our fingers offer another hint: The index fingers of most straight men are shorter than their ring fingers, while for most women they are closer in length, or even reversed in ratio. But some researchers have noted that gay men are likely to have finger-length ratios more in line with those of straight women, and a study of self-described “butch” lesbians showed significantly masculinized ratios. The same goes for the way we hear, the way we process spatial reasoning, and even the ring of our voices. One study, involving tape-recordings of gay and straight men, found that 75 percent of gay men sounded gay to a general audience. It’s unclear what the listeners responded to, whether there is a recognized gay “accent” or vocal quality. And there is no hint as to whether this idiosyncrasy is owed to biology or cultural influences—only that it’s unmistakable. What is there in Rufus Wainwright’s “uninhibited, yearning, ugly-duckling voice,” as the Los Angeles Times wrote a few weeks ago, that we recognize as uniquely gay? Does biology account for Rosie O’Donnell’s crisp trumpet and Charles Nelson Reilly’s gnyuck-gnyuck-gnyuck?

“These are all part and parcel of the idea that being gay is different—that we are different animals to some extent,” says Simon LeVay, the British-born neuroscientist who has dedicated himself to studying these issues. “Hirschfeld was right. I support the idea that we’re a third sex—or a third sex and a fourth sex, gay men and lesbians. Today, there’s scientific documentation behind this.”

Richard Lippa, a psychologist from California State University at Fullerton, is one of the leading cataloguers of the many ways in which gay people are different. I caught up with him a few weeks ago at a booth at the Long Beach Pride Festival in Southern California, where he was researching another hypothesis—that the hair-whorl patterns on gay heads are more likely to go counterclockwise. If true, it will be one more clue to our biological uniqueness.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Many Heros

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
There are many heros all around us. I have high-lighted several (and yet only a small fraction) of the men and women who have died in this nation’s behalf in the War on Terrorism, for example. And now I offer you this portrait of the fire fighters who paid the ultimate price in the line of duty in Charleston, South Carolina last week. No greater sacrifice exists, and the risks so many in this nation take on behalf of others and the greater good form the foundation of our ethos. We owe them our respect and prayers.

May we find the power within ourselves to receive such gifts.

(Top to Bottom, Left to Right) Charleston Fire Engineer Bradford "Brad" Baity, Charleston Fire Firefighter Brandon Thompson. Charleston Fire Firefighter James "Earl" Drayton, Charleston Fire Capt. Mike Benke, Charleston Fire Capt. Louis Mulkey, Charleston Fire Assistant Engineer Michael French, Charleston Fire Capt. William "Billy" Hutchinson, Charleston Fire Firefighter Melvin Champaign, Charleston Fire Engineer Mark Kelsey.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Random Quote #75

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you."

~ Elbert Hubbard, 1856 - 1915

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Morning Garden

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Every year my gardens deliver a few surprises. This year it is a cluster of tall and lush yellow flowers that I believe are called Evening Primroses.

The unique thing about this plant is that it blooms at dusk and remains open throughout the night, but with the first rays of the morning sun, the radiant yellow flowers collapse upon themselves like so many suttered umbrellas and die, only to be replaced by the next row of buds on the following evening. If you want to enjoy them, it's best to rise early!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What I'm Watching #88

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Etienne, a budding competitive figure skater, is given a present of a video camera and thus we enter into his "life on ice". An interesting companion video to my last review, "Edge of Seventeen". Both films deal with 17 to 18 yo boys who are discovering their sexuality and that it is not their parent's version.

But that's really where the comparison stops. "My Life On Ice" is, afterall, a French movie! French movies are rarely anything like those made in America where a plot rides to a climax and then resolution. Add to that the fact that the entire film is shot through Etienne's camera, and you have a really interesting film from many aspects.

The cast is very voyueristically attractive, and the young actor who plays Etienne, Jimmy Tavares, is not only a credible actor, but also an accomplished skater which really is another key to the film's compelling believability. The "home video" ambience heightens your awareness as you seek out every bit of information that each moment provides into the lives of Etienne, his family and friends. All the while his secret broods and reveals itself in both the choices of his video subjects, as well as, his own actions when the camera is handed off to one of the other characters and turned back upon himself. It's a wonderful 100 minutes of cinema.

Written and directed by the real life couple Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, it is a follow-up of sorts to their previous collaboration, "Adventures of Felix." I hope that theirs is a long and fruitful partnership.

Je recommande ce film å chacun.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #90

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Staff Sgt. Michael A. Bechert, 24, of New Castle, Ind., died on 14 June in San Antonio, Texas of wounds suffered when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device on May 30 in Baghdad, Iraq.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

“Soldier's Family Speaks Out Over His Death”
Indiana soldier dies of injuries sustained in Iraq

New Castle - For the 85th time, the military reports that a Hoosier soldier died from wounds suffered in Iraq. Now, the family of 24-year-old Michael Bechert is beginning to come to terms with their loss

The Army called Michael Bechert a "Staff Sargeant". His young wife Daneila called him "husband" and "father."

"He was a great father, husband. A young, fresh young man. He fought for his country and died for it," said Daneila, Bechert's wife.

The couple met in Germany where the Army had Bechert assigned to the First Infantry Division. They had a baby boy 20 months ago.

"When he married me, he said he needed someone that he could take care of, and then he married me, and then he actually had two peoples," said Daneila.

Bechert suffered his fatal wounds May 30th when his vehicle hit a bomb in Baghdad. He died in Texas where Army doctors were trying to save him.

"Why did we go into Iraq, explain this to me. Why did we go in there when there was nothing there? The whole world told us to stay out. Why did we go in there?" said George Bechert, Michael's grandfather.

Along with his wife and young son, he leaves behind the grandfather who raised him. His grandfather doesn't understand why he will have to plan a funeral rather than a triumphant homecoming.

"Why are we doing this? Why are we killing off our young men? It's not worth it, not worth it," said George.

Michael Bechert was serving his second deployment in Iraq when he suffered his fatal wounds. The army awarded him a Purple Heart for wounds suffered during his first tour of duty. His funeral arrangement are not complete.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What I'm Watching #87

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Edge of Seventeen" is a smart film about one teen's sexual awakening as a gay man. Chris Stafford plays the lead, Eric Hunter, with an understated tenderness and a tension between the two worlds vying for his citizenship (his middle class straight family versus the fringe world of the GLBT community). Set in Sandusky, Ohio (of all the places in this world!) and opening at a fictitious summer amusement park on Lake Erie (a.k.a. Cedar Point--one of my teenage haunts), the film's creators takes the story one further step away from the mainstream of contemporary sexual mores by landing it in the middle of the 1980's.

Thus it's not really a film that speaks to contemporary teens, but one that reminds us forty-something’s about what it was like WAY back then~! All the performances are spot on and I especially enjoyed those of Tina Holmes as Maggie, Eric's best friend, and Lea DeLaria, as their summer employer and later Eric's earnest confidant and tour guide into the gay sub-culture of rural northwestern Ohio.

In one scene that was both brief and profound, Eric asks his mother, played by Stephanie McVay, how she knew when she had fallen in love with his father. She replied, "When I thought about him so much it hurt." Been there, done that! And the rest of the film finds a voice that is just as authentic, whether it's dealing with friendship, sex, family, love, betrayal or forgiveness. Like life, not every loose end gets tied back up, yet still there is way forward.

One complaint? The DVD cover! Once again, completely misleading, and I think trivializing when it comes to the gem that waits within the case.

#1 Bishop's Flower

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Two views from my garden of two relatives of the butterfly friendly milkweek.

#2 Butterfly Weed

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Like a blaze of fire in the garden, and one that has spread nicely around my backyard.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #89

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  They died June 16 in Rashidiyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when the vehicle they were in struck an improvised explosive device.   They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Ft. Lewis, Wash.
  Killed were:
  Army Sgt. Danny R. Soto, 24, of Houston, Texas.
  Army Spc. Zachary A. Grass, 22, of Beach City, Ohio. 

"Another Local Soldier Dies In Iraq"

SUGAR CREEK TWP. On Father’s Day, Frank Grass, wasn’t able to celebrate even though he is a proud father. He was barely able to speak at all.

His sad, blue eyes wet with tears, Frank and his wife, Patty, equally distraught, confirmed the death of their son — Army soldier Zachary Grass.

Grass, who turned 22 on May 22, was killed in Iraq Saturday morning, said Frank Grass. He said his son was in a vehicle that was hit by a roadside bomb.

“We had gone to a car show (Saturday),” Grass said, his voice low and trembling. “When we returned home, that’s when the military was here.”

Grass family members gathered this afternoon to console each other on the front porch of their ranch home just north of Beach City.

Zachary Grass was a 2003 graduate of Fairless High School where he played basketball and baseball.

“He was a kid always willing to do whatever it took to help the team, a pretty selfless kid,” said his former basketball coach Matt

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What I'm Watching #86

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Fresa y Chocolate" is a Cuban film about a trinity of "types" who gradually become real people and fall in love, sort of. There's David, played by Vladimir Cruz, the young university student full of ideals about the Revolution; Diego, played by Jorge Perugorria, who's character is both immersed in and starve for culture, and Nancy, played by Mirtha Ibarra, the apartment buildings state vigilante with a carefully managed capitalist streak and suicidal tendencies.

The glue that holds them all together is that of sexual tension. David's frustrated virginity, Diego's frustrated flamboyant gay sexuality, and Nancy's frustrated promiscuous sex drive. In the end two of the three find satisfaction; and it was made in Cuba, so don't strain too hard to guess which two!

The Quote on the box (visible in the image) says the film is "Funny." And while there are laughs, there are also tears, and frankly the world poignant was the first one that came to my mind to describe it.

An interesting film from Cuba and a chance to see some very good Cuban actors, a rarity unfortunately.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #88

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died June 3 in Thania, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.
One who was killed in the incident was:
Army Sgt. Tyler J. Kritz, 21, of Eagle River, Wis.

“Eagle River Soldier Laid To Rest”

EAGLE RIVER, Wis. -- Flags across the state were at half-staff on Monday in honor of Sgt. Tyler Kritz, who died in Iraq.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral in Eagle River, WISC-TV reported.

Kritz, 21, died on June 3 while serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Three other soldiers were also killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

Kritz was serving with a field artillery unit out of Fort Lewis, Wash.

Kritz enlisted in the Army following his 2003 graduation from Northland Pines High School.

Sfc. Glen George called Kritz a hero and said his parents are very proud of him.

Pastor Bill Trosien, of Our Savior Lutheran Church, said that Kritz wanted to be a soldier all his life. He said Kritz loved his country.

The funeral service ended with military honors, including "Amazing Grace" and "Taps."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Four of Disks

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
A little bored tonight I reached for my Tarot Cards and cut the deck to discover this one. Isn't it beautiful?

The work of Stevee Postman, this deck is particularly impressive.

So the 4th card in the house of Disks -- What does it mean? It's a card of gratitude. It says, "Appreciate yourself for all you do to support others in your world. Recognize all the ways you contribute to the success of others through your strength and generosity."

Wow. That's a really good message for me this evening as I have just wrapped up a very potentially contentious meeting at school that actually turned out to be the most amicable sessionin determining this outcome in my tenure in participating in the process.

I know Tarot is used to predict the future; but this little chance encounter with the cards has only affirmed the past.

Praise God and Punt the Atheists OUT of America!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Or so says one, Alice Shannon, in her local Soldotna, Alaska newspaper. I honestly could go in about a gazillion directions with this one. For example, I've always wondered what type of person (besides the Albanians) still supports President Bush, I guess I may be getting closer to an answer for that question! And the fact that she lives all the way up on the Kenai Peninsula of our distant 49th state does provide a margin of comfort. I'll not likely run into her in the parking lot of my local Safeway. But honestly, the poor thing just really needs to find God. Or at least read her Bible --

"Treat one another with the same spirit you experience in Christ Jesus." from the letter Philippi, chapter 2 and verse 5.

The Body of her letter:

"It's time to stomp out atheists in America. The majority of Americans would love to see atheists kicked out of America. If you don't believe in God, then get out of this country.

"The United States is based on baving freedom of religion, speech, etc., which means you can believe in God any way you want (Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, etc.), but you must believe.

"I don't recall freedom of religion meaning no religion. Our currency even says, "In God We Trust." So, to all the atheists in America: Get off of our country.

"Atheists have caused the ruin of this great nation by taking prayer out of our schools and being able to practice what can only be called evil. I don't care if they have never committed a crime, atheists are the reason crime is rampant." ~ Alice Shannon, Soldotna

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Amen for Adages

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"You do the crime, YOU do the time."

I've avoided commenting on this chorus of pathetic rich white girl privilege, but a pole from Planet Out has caused me to offer this post.

The website asked A question and gave two responses to choose from of its predominantly Gay viewer-ship.

THE QUESTION: How do you feel about Paris's early release from jail?

THE 1st RESPONSE CHOICE: It's an outrage and an abuse of the American justice system. Throw her back in!

THE 2nd RESPONSE CHOICE: I think Paris is fabulous and I'm glad she got out early. Go, girl!

THE RESULTS: It's a 9 to 1 thang! 90% of the respondents are glad she got thrown back in! And only 10% want to see her out and loose in the general population! It feels good to have my vote counted and in the majority for a change. Cheers.

Our Latest American (Samoan) Hero #87

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Pfc. Timothy R. Vimoto, 19, of Fort Campbell, Ky., died June 5 in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by insurgents using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Camp Ederle, Italy.

"Kentucky soldier in Afghanistan dies"

A Kentucky soldier died this week from wounds he suffered in battle in Afghanistan, the Defense Department confirmed late today.

Pfc. Timothy R. Vimoto, 19, of Fort Campbell, died Tuesday from injuries sustained when insurgents hit his unit with small-arms fire in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, officials said.

“He was not assigned to Fort Campbell, but he was a military child who considered Fort Campbell his home,” said Cathy Grambling, a spokeswoman for Fort Campbell, home to the Army's 101st Airborne Division.

Vimoto’s home base was Camp Ederle, Italy, and he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

This is the same brigade in which his father serves as a high-ranking officer.

Vimoto, who is of American Samoan ancestry, was the eldest son of Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia T. Vimoto, according to Samoa News, a daily newspaper in the U.S. territory in the South Pacific. His father was formerly the senior adviser to the commander of the 101st, Grambling said.

Isaia Vimoto is now senior adviser for the 173rd Airborne Brigade commander, Col. Charles A. Preysler.

Samoa News reported that Timothy Vimoto is the 13th soldier of Samoan ancestry to die in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Samoans die at a higher rate per capita in Iraq and Afghanistan than residents of any other U.S. state or territory, according to a March 10 Chicago Tribune report about Samoans in the military.

A True Leader

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
In this time of war on an idea, when the man responsible for it is so busy trying to restart the cold war and/or world war III, that he has never yet found the time to attend even a single funeral of a soldier who'se given his or her life in that war's execution, I found this photo very moving.

It's from the funeral of Army 1st Lt. Keith Heidtmen in Norwich, Connecticut. The woman on the left is his mother, Maureen Robidoux. The woman on the right fighting back tears is M. Jodi Rell, the Governor of Connecticut. Now that's a true leader!

An age old Question....

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Do clothes really make the man? Dutch photographer Ewoud Broeksma provides us with some food for thought in this study of Tim. In the project, Broeksma photographed several individuals and groups attired and au naturale. Check out his website by googling his name (I have it on some translation pathway and the IRL is unbelievably long....). It is Dutch, but translated or not, it's not difficult to navigate. These photos may be found within the "projecten" link.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Adam, Cast from the Eden of The Creationist Museum: Who Do They Think Adam Is?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Will we EVER learn?

"Creation Museum Actor Owns Porn Site"

The man picked as Adam by a museum based on the Bible's version of Earth's history led quite a different life outside the Garden of Eden, flaunting his sexual exploits online and modeling for a line of clothing with an explicit mascot.

Registration records show that Eric Linden, who portrays Adam taking his first breath in a film at the newly opened Creation Museum, owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat. He has been pictured there, smiling alongside a drag queen, in a T-shirt brandishing the site's sexually suggestive logo.

Linden, a graphic designer, model and actor, also sells clothing for SFX International, whose initials appear on clothing to spell "SEX" from afar and serve as an abbreviation for its mascot, who promotes "free love," "pleasure" and "Thrillz."

The museum's operators, informed Thursday by The Associated Press of Linden's online appearances, acted swiftly to suspend airing of the 40-second video in which he appeared. The clip is one of 55 featured on tours of the museum, in Petersburg, Ky., which tells what organizers call, the Bible's version of Earth's history.

"We are currently investigating the veracity of these serious claims of his participation in projects that don't align with the biblical standards and moral code upon which the ministry was founded," Answers for Genesis spokesman Mark Looy said in an e-mail statement.

Linden told the AP that he is no longer affiliated with the site. He described it as "from my past."

"It's a different story when you grow up a little bit," said Linden, 27. "I'm a Web designer and I was trying to think to the future and capitalize on different domain names, just trying to be clever. I handed the domain name off to somebody, so I really don't know what's going on with it."

Ownership records available through the NetworkSolutions database show Linden registered the site 18 months ago.

Linden, who now lives in Los Angeles, said his modeling work for the clothing line is just one of the many jobs that make up his career. "They're just like a kind of hip, trendy clothing line," he said.

He said he learned of the opportunity to play Adam through a childhood friend, and has great respect for the founders of the Creation Museum and their vision.

"For the Creation Museum, I did what I did as an actor. It doesn't necessarily mean I believe in evolution or a believe in creation," Linden said. "I'm hired to get a point across. On the flip side, if I was hired to play a murderer, that doesn't mean I'd go out and kill somebody. It's make-believe."

Linden said he was selected for the role from a lineup of contenders because his looks were sufficiently generic.

"I'm very proud to be Adam," he said. "But just because I'm Adam on the screen, that doesn't mean I'm Adam off the screen. What I do shouldn't have anything to do with who they think Adam is."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Random Quote #74

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

~ Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel) 1904 - 1991

Monday, June 04, 2007

Random Quote #73

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

~ Thomas Jefferson, 1743 - 1826

Random Quote #72

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"The church says the earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence in the shadow than the church."

~ Ferdinand Magellan, 1480 - 1521

Random Quote #71

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

~ Galileo Galilei, 1564 - 1642

Sunday, June 03, 2007

May Casualty Statistics

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
They say in the news that May has been the 3rd deadliest month in the War on Terrorism in Iraq. I've seen a total number of casualties given as 122 soldiers killed. However, the War on Terrorism is not confined to Iraq. My count of 140 includes troops killed Afghanistan, and in this month, Kuwait. Since the beginning of the year, we've also lost troops working in Bahrain, the Philippines, and in the south Indian Ocean on the USS Batanga. A ship used to render and interrogate detainees that has been deployed in international waters off the southern coast of Africa.

I find these numbers unacceptable. They are deaths without purpose. I continue to find our tactics in this never-declared-war abhorrant and the antithesis of what we as a nation ought to be doing.

A darkness was visited upon us, and we have met that darkness with darkness. But the dark is only defeated with light. Our efforts thus far have not been driven by this understanding. It's as if we are all held in the grasp of a bunch of syncophantic frat boys playing "risk" and guzzling beers in their exclusive little frat house. It's nearly enough to make one feel paranoid....

Friday, June 01, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #86

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
On Wednesday a Chinook helicopter crashed on a mountain-side in southern Afghanistan killing all aboard. The incident occurred as the helicopter was leaving it's intended destination. It arrived with approximately 40 troops on board, and it was destroyed by Taliban fundimentalists killing the 7 soldiers who were taking the return flight. The pentagon has yet to release official information on the Americans on board. Of the seven men killed, 5 were Americans, one a Canadian and one a British soldier.

Some information has been given to the press by family members who have been informed of their sons', husbands', fathers' deaths. One of the Americans was a military chaplan from Lake Toxaway, North Carolina. Another was a father with three young daughters from Omaha, Nebraska. The one I am featuring is from Utah, and also a father with young daughters. May light perpetual shine upon each of these young souls.

"Utah Native Is Killed In Crash Of Helicopter"

SOUTH JORDAN — A Utah family learned early Thursday that their 25-year-old son had been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

By afternoon, flags waved in the family's yard to honor the life of Sgt. Jesse Blamires, who had served with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. Red, white and blue posters also were duct-taped to the family's home. "Land of the Free, Because of the brave," one glittering poster read. "Thank you, Jesse," read another.

Blamires was one of seven people killed Wednesday when an Army CH 47-Chinook crashed after it was apparently shot down by Taliban militants, an attack that killed everyone on board — five U.S. soldiers, a Canadian and a Briton, NATO officials said.

NATO said troops going to the crash site in southern Helmand province were ambushed by enemy fighters, and the unit called in an airstrike "to eliminate the enemy threat." NATO officials did not say if the troops were from the U.S.-led coalition, NATO's force or the Afghan army. One civilian was injured by gunfire.

Blamires, a Skyline High School graduate, had recently been promoted to crew chief and hoped to one day go to officer school and become a pilot, his father, Craig Blamires, said Thursday.

The military, for Jesse Blamires, was a way of leaving the nest to grow up and become a man, his father said.

The son was well-respected by his fellow soldiers and his commanders, and was known to take extra shifts and help others in need, Craig Blamires said.

Jesse Blamires, who grew up in Sandy, leaves behind a wife, Kim, and two young daughters, 5 years old and nine months. The family is living in Fort Bragg, N.C., where Jesse Blamires was stationed.

Jesse Blamires' Afghanistan tour was his second deployment. Between 2005 and 2006, he served in Iraq, family members said.

Sandra Blamires said the last time she embraced her son was during summer 2006. Since then, the family has contacted him by mail and occasionally by telephone.

They had hoped to see him during the holiday season, but his Christmas leave was canceled and his tour extended, his mother said.

"We're just very proud of him and the man that he became, how he wanted to go from mechanic to pilot," she said.

Jesse Blamires was one of six children. He had four brothers and one sister.

Craig Blamires said some of his fondest memories of his son revolve around Scouting. The father and son would often go into the wilderness to ponder and relax.

While members of the press talked with the grief-stricken family Thursday, neighbors gathered nearby to talk and cry. Neighbor Becky Pugmire, who was gathered in the evening light with her family and a group of girls, said she knew Jesse Blamires his entire life.

The soldier was always very energetic and hard-working, she said. He always held firm to his beliefs and was very excited about his family and serving in the military.