Thursday, January 31, 2008

Our Latest American Hero #112

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Maj. Alan G. Rogers, 40, of Hampton, Fla.; assigned to the Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died Jan. 27 of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was conducting a dismounted patrol in Baghdad.

“Army Major Remembered As Gator”

HAMPTON - A former Hampton resident who died in Baghdad on Sunday is being remembered as a kind son, a reliable worker, a pastor and a Gator.

U.S. Army Major Alan G. Rogers, 40, died of wounds he suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near him while he was on a foot patrol. He was serving his second tour of duty overseas. Rogers was a military intelligence officer working with a military transition team when he died.

Rogers moved to Bradford County from New York City in 1977, according to Margaret Wadsworth, a longtime teacher's aide at Hampton Elementary School.

"He was an only child and his parents moved here to help his grandmother who lived in Hampton," Wadsworth said. "He attended fourth and fifth grade here before going to the middle school and high school in Starke."

Brenda Thornton said Rogers graduated with her and the rest of the Bradford County High School Class of 1985. He enlisted in the Army and served in the first Persian Gulf war before returning to the area to enroll at the University of Florida using his GI benefits. Rogers joined the ROTC program at UF and worked as an administrative assistant at Trend Realty, according to former Trend owner Donna Pitts.

"We got close to him when he worked for us and he asked us to attend the ceremony at Kanapaha (park) when he received his commission as an officer," Pitts said. "We realized that he was an only child of older parents and had led a very sheltered life."

As an example of the sheltering, Pitts said that once she asked Rogers to drive some other employees to and from a social event on the Atlantic Coast and discovered Rogers had never been to the ocean.

Following his graduation from UF in 1995, Rogers returned to active duty with the Army and began ascending to the rank of major. Those close to Rogers said he was divorced and had no children but is survived by cousins who still live in Florida. They could not be reached on Wednesday.

Family friend Thelma Green said Rogers was well-grounded in Christianity. Green recalled attending Ebenezer Missionary Baptist church in Lincoln City with Rogers and his mother. Green said Rogers joined the church as a youngster and served on the young adult usher board for several years.

"In his later years the Lord called him to preach and he was ordained under the leadership of the Rev. O.E. Harris," Green said. "He always came back to visit us on leave."

Former neighbor Joyce Mitchell said Rogers was called home frequently as his parents aged, usually because of medical emergencies involving his mother, whose kidneys were failing.

"A mother couldn't have asked for a better son. Anytime they called, he would get here if he could and he became like a parent to his father and mother," Mitchell said. She also said that after many trips home to care for his mother, Rogers' father died suddenly. His mother died within a few months.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Me!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Yup, I'm a year older. 47 to be specific and lucky.

This image is from a postcard that one of the art teachers at my school made for me. It's a collage of magazine images, and one of the nicest Birthday Cards I've every received.

This Is The First Day Of My Life

This is one of the sweetest, more endearing videos that I have ever seen. Enjoy!

Monday, January 28, 2008

P. S. #02

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Three more anonymous postcards from the website:

Top: "I work out because I know you will probably leave me if I'm not in shape". (Those are words to live by! Trust me.....)

Middle: "I spy on my cousin by reading her blog" (Not a problem here -- this is an open book!)

Bottom: "The taste of cinnamon roles gets me sexually aroused." (I love cinnamon, too! And sex, but who doesn't?)

Happy Birthday LEGOs!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The little brick that could was born on January 28, 1958...50 years ago today. Google honored the event by transforming it's logo into lego blocks! And according to a new's report: there are 62 bricks on this planet for every man, woman, and child alive today!

Heaven knows I've contributed my part in this statistic.


Sunday, January 27, 2008


A freaky little video from two amazing artists. As? As if!

What I'm Watching #132

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Brother to Brother" is one of the most ambitious independent films ever made around the subject of being both black and gay. It is a film that tells two stories: the story of a contemporary black man, Perry Williams, who has been rejected by his family and who befriends a faded giant of the Harlem Renessaince, Richard Bruce Nugent. The second story is a flashback to the Harlem Renessaince and the friendships and radical politics of Nugent, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman and Aaron Douglas.

The movie explores black cultural contemporary views of homosexuality by reflecting them off of the experiences of a group of black creative geniuses who fought to realize their vision of a freer, more open society.

There is only one moment in the film that bristles me. When Perry ends a brief affair with a white man after that white man expresses his appreciation for Perry's physicality in racial terms. It just doesn't ring true to my experiences as either the giver or receiver of such compliments. You can't pretend that you're not what you are, and if someone from another race with whom you've been intimate says that the color of your skin is beautiful and a turn on, why the hell would you be offended?

It's a brief moment in an otherwise amazing film.

Orchids in Winter

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
My winter gardens are primarily in my sunroom. And this winter, orchids are reigning.

Sunday Funnies #17

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
As my birthday approaches, I am reminded of Lucy's line to Charlie Brown at Christmas, "I never get what I really want!"

But unlike Lucy, I'm less enamored with real estate....

Sunday Funnies #16

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Now money with these sorts of images might encourage some of us to save more.....and, on the other hand, it might drive others to spend, spend, spend!

But in either scenario, money would be a lot more interesting than it is today!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What I'm Watching #131

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
So today was a trifecta.

And in the third race "Saturday Night At The Baths".

When I was 11 and in the 6th grade, my friends and I wrote and filmed a movie! It was on 8mm film with the help of a teacher's aid's husband, Mr. G. The final production was coherent and enjoyable, yet "jumpy" and off-focus at times.

I thought of this as I watched this film. It's sincere, and sensual, and well acted in that 11 year old sort of way. It's an anthropological treasure trove of 1970's gay city life. And it's not sappy story telling: no football caught, no puppy saved at the end. I would think that it would make a good experience for any GLBT studies class.

What I'm Watching #130

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The second feature was "Sordid Lives." Originally a stage play in four acts. As a movie, it often plays like theatre where dialogue trumps everything else. As a movie, it's low, LOW, budget (there's a scene early on where the boom mike swims across the top of the screen!) The cast is almost the same as the stage actors with four additions: Bonnie Bedilia, Beau Bridges, Delta Burke, and Olivia Newton John.

And here's the other thing, It's really funny. Amazing performances by Beth Grant and Leslie Jordan cap the fun. My ex- recommended this film to me, and I'm so glad he did. It's supposed to be about Texas, but I swear I can see these people from my days in Kentucky, too!

It's a great set a character's, an actor's tour de force!

Check it out.

What I'm Watching #129

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
It was a cold and greyish day so what better way to spend the afternoon than sprawled out on my porch swing with a couple of funny movies?

The first was an old friend, "Trick," about a sweet and slightly repressed boy's night out with his new boyfriend, the Go-Go Boy. It's funny, witty and full of great little "scenes". The lead is played by Christian Campbell, Nev Campbell's little brother and he is the sweetest looking thing. Tori Spelling plays his best friend and has a wonderful meltdown scene over cheese fries. Clinton Leupp as the drag queen Coco Peru plays another memorable scene in the bathroom of a gay dance club.

It's a funny movie with a fresh cast.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Hour

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Kudus to Mark, the owner of Bonefish Grill, who invited the staff of my school to a completely free happy hour at his restaurant in the Kentlands Shopping complex this evening. Everything was gratis. And Everything Was Fabulous. There were house wines, specialty martinis, and a wide range of mixed-drinks (and even my diet coke with lemon!). The buffet was in constant rotation: Cajun Spicy Shrimp, Shrimp Scampi Mediterranean, Blackened Crab cakes, Rockfish with a Mango Salsa, etc....

All due according to the owner to his promise to his mother who was a teacher to use his success to give a little something back to teachers. The event was absolutely one of the most well attended and appreciated by my school's staff. It reminded me of the way such events are more routine in China where I first taught: evidence of their more culturally pervasive appreciation of education and its role in both individual and societal success. And certainly deeply appreciated by my staff for it's uniqueness.

What I'm Watching #128

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
This out-and-out mainstream gay-themed comedy is as funny now as it was the first time I saw it.

(My husband has three testicles, indeed!........)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

May Light Perpetual

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
shine upon you!

Why? What about your life was so repugnant that you would seek to end it? No blame or anger from me, just a nagging question...the one that such deaths always leave resonating in the minds of the living.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Whenever an art museum is renovated there is reason for celebration. And nowhere is this truer than at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery. Prior to its multi-year face-lift, SAAM/NPG was definitely a backwater of DC museums.

Since the renovation, it's a freaking hive of activity and visitors. Before, when I went there, it was like going to the library, now it's like going to a shopping mall! How wonderful is that?

The final stage is complete. Like so many of the block-sized structures in DC, the actual building wraps itself around an inner courtyard. With the renovation, that courtyard is covered in a geodesic canopy reminiscent of those at the British Museum and The Walters Collection, both in London. It's a weatherproof enclave with planters containing full grown trees and ferns, a cafe, and two extremely shallow reflecting pools that you can as easy walk across as discover your image in.

Visiting DC? Go to SAAM/NPG and experience it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

Art I'm Seeing #27

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
A great holiday weekend to spend time in museums.

The show is a John Alexander retrospective at the recently renovated Smithsonian American Art Museum. I had never heard of this artist before visiting this exhibit. And it really was enjoyable. His works run a wide range of subjects and he has both great competence in oil and watercolor.

His oils tend to lean toward garish, colorful subjects full of spontaneity and wit. This top image is an excellent example: "Go Jesus Go". In it we see the flaming skeleton of a crucified individual. All around are the illuminated suggestions of a garden with a trinity of flaming bunnies.

In direct opposition to his oils are his watercolor/drawings. They are often images of flora and fauna with an almost scientific exactitude. It was this area of his work that convinced me to purchase the catalogue.

I love finding new artists and it's to the credit of the SAAM that they choose to expose the public to retrospectives of living American masters.

Mid-winter Poem

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I went to bed early last night only to awake around 1:30 A.M. this morning. Alert, I read a slim volume of poems by the classic Chinese poets Li Po and Tu Fu.

And then this.....a new poem.


I awoke in the middle of a night
too quiet for sleep.

The three-quarters moon revealing
a lonely, indifferent world

Where only last night the bitter wind set
the chimes to dancing with a raucous joy!

Who's to say what miracle
tomorrow may bring?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What I'm Watching #127

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Red Dirt" is one of those films that I've known about forever and knew that on the strength of Karen Black's participation alone I would eventually end up getting it. And here it is; time to share a thought about it....hard to know where to begin.

The ensemble is talented and plays like a group of actors in a stage production. In the time honored homage to the only southern classic it desperately seeks to channel Truman Capote with mixed success. The performance of the afore mentioned Ms. Black is particularly enigmatic. In her crazier moments she's absolutely bat-ass loony and not always in that enthralling Blanche Dubois way, but more like that fingernails on a chalkboard way. And in these scenes she drags her co-star, Dan Montgomery, into the vortex with her.

On the bright side, most of the movie is better played. Co-star Aleksa Palladino is a actor to watch and when the Adonis, Walton Goggins strips down to take an impromptu shower while discussing the finer point of life in Pine Apple, Mississippi with his love interest (Dan Montgomery)...well, get out the optical insulin, cause this eye candy will toss you into diabetic shock without a second glance.

Do I recommend it? If you're a Karen Black fan, get it, get some friends together, open a bottle of wine, order a pizza, and sprinkle liberally with witty commentary.

Art I'm Seeing #26

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I don't know what it is with me a timing lately. This is the third art exhibit that I've intended on seeing and finally end up there on the final weekend of the show.

"Going West! Quilts And Community" at the Renwick Gallery is a collection of 50 quilts from the mid 19th through the early 20th centuries around the theme of migration westward. The works run the gamut of quality and creativity. Considering that the quilt is first and foremost a utilitarian form of artistic expression, the works in this exhibition also cover the spectrum of wear and tear.

As a body of work, the history of the fabrics, motifs, and techniques were far more interesting than the actual designs with one notable exception: embroidery. Many of the quilts feature some of the finest quality hand embroidery that I've ever seen.

If you missed the show, there is a fine catalogue which will continue to be available after all the quilts are safely returned to the myriad of tiny museums and historical societies scattered across the plains states.

Sunday Funnies #15

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The caption reads "Shake that Ass," and while the image catches your attention, I'm not sure how it really helps to sell washing machines! Those wacky Europeans....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Random Quote #82

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
~ Jorge Luis Borges, 1899 - 1986

What I'm Watching #126

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Party Monster" begs an essential question: Why make it a movie?

Why is this story worthy of the time and energy that it takes to make a movie? The question comes from a paradigm that expects movies to leave their viewers somehow enlightened. This film just leaves you wondering, why?

Not that the performances aren't wonderful, the costumes fabulous, the basic movie protocols tight and well executed. It's a good piece of film making, with four phenomenal young actors: Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Wilmar Valderrama, and Wilson Cruz. They are all to be commended for hitching their talents to this wagon...even if the wagon seems capricious and enigmatic.

What I'm Reading #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Gay Travels in the Muslim World" is a series of essays and memoirs written by gay men from the west of their experiences and encounters in countries where Islam is the dominant cultural paradigm. The stories run the gamut from tame observations to more explicit sexual liaisons. They are poignant, humorous, sobering. And what they illustrate is the myth that homosexuality is not a part of Islamic societies.

My dear friend K., did a stint with the Peace Corps in Morocco in 2000-2001. He has lots of stories and was never without an opportunity for a "play date". And what the tales in this collection confirm is that for men in the Muslim world, sex with other men is just that, a play date. And as long as they marry and maintain their obligations to family and tribe, it's quite possible to live an unencumbered duplicitous life.

And so when Muslim leaders assert that there are no homosexuals in this country or that, what they are actually saying is that men don't leave their tribes to live exclusively with other men in a manner that expects let alone would ever demand respectability. Those men are at best ostracized and relegated to live in urban shadows as lepers, or are simply eliminated as in the resent spate of hangings in Iran or the lashings and long prison sentences in Egypt.

And what is there to fear? The book is interesting and because of the nature of its contents, very easy to pick up and put down having read a piece or two without worrying about getting back to it quickly.

Friday, January 18, 2008

What I'm Watching #125

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Is a sincere, delightful, and at times clever comedy in the mocumentory style called "The Big Tease". It's a must see for any Craig Ferguson fan. It's also worth the time if you've never even heard of Craig.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A New Season For Primaries

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Here we are on the day of the Michigan Primary elections and the Democratic Party has stripped the state of it's delegates (and Florida the same, who's election is in a little over a week). How Absurd! You can't disenfranchise such large and important states. And bravo to both of them for the courage to play chicken with the party and stick to their guns -- it's the only way to give both Iowa and New Hampshire a reality check and the larger national parties the bitch slap they deserve for maintaining a system as capricious as this one.

Others have forwarded a proposal in which the present system would be replaced by a rotating regional primary approach. This is certainly better than the unruly status quo. However, it also advantages candidates by virtue of their birth town, their chosen district/state of public service, even their venacular form of the English language. And so "fairness" suggests a better solution.

And this is my proposal. Structure primaries around the populations of states. The smaller states to the larger with multiple states occurring on any given Tuesday. This will build the competition over time. It will graciously acknowledge the voices of the lesser players, while still permitting candidates to strategize based on the numbers of electoral votes.

The actual calendar might look like this (however, as populations shift, so would the calendar -- a diecennial readjustment based on the census results.):

The third Tuesday in January of an election year primaries are held in: AK, DE, DC, MT, ND, SD, VT & WY
= Electoral College Votes 18

The first Tuesday in February of an election year primaries are held in: HI, ID, ME, RI & VT
= Electoral College Votes 20

The third Tuedsay in February of an election year primaries are held in: AR, KS, MS, NE, NV, NM, UT & WV
= Electoral College Votes 41

The first Tuesday in March of an election year primaries are held in: CT, IA, KY, OK, OR, & SC
= Electoral College Votes 44

The third Tuesday in March (The MARCH BREAK) Teritories hold primaries: Puearto Rico, Guam, etc.
= Electoral College Votes 0

The first Tuesday in April of an election year primaries are held in: AL, AZ, CO, LA, MD, MN & WI
= Electoral College Votes 67

The third Tuesday in April of an election year primaries are held in: IN, MA, MO, TN & WA
= Electoral College Votes 56

The first Tuesday in May of an election year primaries are held in: GA, NJ, NC & VA
= Electoral College Votes 58

The second Tuesday in May of an election year primaries are held in: IL, MI, OH & PA
= Electoral College Votes 79

The Third Tuesday in May of an election year primary are held in FL & NY
= Electoral College Votes 58

The Fourth Tuesday in May of an election year Primary is held in TX & CA
= Electoral College Votes 89

What do you think?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tattoo Dreaming #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Another excellent use of this artform.

A Recommendation From The Times

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Anyone who knows me, knows I care deeply about the cost of our War on Terrorism. And it's NOT the money, stupid. It's the lives lost, and the lives wounded, and the lives broken and left to fend among us for their sanity and survival.

The article in the New York Times entitled "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles" and found online at: ts.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin is an eye opener and a heart breaker, and it expresses just one aspect of my profound consternation with the way we as a nation care for our own.

In a related thought, let me say this: the NYTimes is by far the best newspaper in the country; and this exposé on vets who return home only to continue the carnage of the war is an excellent example of why that is true. I read it almost every day, and you should, too.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Art I'm Seeing #25

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
“Impressionists by the Sea” is an exhibition at The Phillip's Collection here in D.C. that focuses on assembling paintings created from 1860 to 1890 by leading artists of the Impressionist movement of subjects in and around the environs of Le Harve, France. The content of the show really speaks to two subjects: 1) the antecedent works of seascapes in the region and across Europe, and 2) the paintings of the super-stars of Impressionism depicting the Brittany coast’s beaches and towns from Villers in the west to Les Petites Dalles in the east.

The early works failed to inspire me, let alone interest me; However, the actual paintings from the Impressionist school did. I found several Monet's very interesting for their unfamiliar subjects: The image here included is a case in point. And one image entitled “Etretat, Rough Sea” was so an atypical Monet, that I swear it could have been a Van Gogh. And there were paintings by Renoir that were also interesting, and in particular “Low Tide, Yport” which read like a seascape on acid! But my favorite image was by Caillebotte.

“Villers-sur-Mer” is a landscape painting depicting the village from above looking down on the sea. It is an astute rendering of a rather common image. And as a Caillebotte, it's a tight, well-executed composition...which is to say that not all of his paintings can claim this.

The show ends on Sunday and then moves on to the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Worcester, Massachusetts for it's third and final venue. If you missed it here, by all means, plan to experience it in Worcester.

Album Portraits

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I happened upon this phenom this evening as I was waiting for my image conduit website ( to return online after maintainance activities. It’s called “Album Portraits” Of the four presented here (Terence T. D’Arby, Madonna, Daddy Yankee, and Willie Nelson) the lamest one is mine! Yea, it’s “Daddy Yankee” placed over a favorite photo of me taken at a Baltimore Orioles baseball game back in 2005.

As to the choice of albums, Daddy Yankee was a natural. I really love reaggeton. And no artists of this genre are more famous, prolific, or talented than the Borico Boys known as “Daddy Yankee”. Furthermore, my recent trips to Nicaragua have not only introduced me to an amazing people and a beautiful nation, but also a nickname. I am “Daddy Yankee” to half-a-dozen beautiful young men in Managua.

It’s a playful and generous monocre from men whose inherent joy, courage, intelligence, and beauty I admire deeply.

"Une Image: Quel Beau"

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
This is a photograph by the German artist Ingar Krauss that is currently on display at the Marvelli Gallery in the Chelsea District of NYC (until 02 FEB 08). I discovered it in a review of the exhibition in the New Yorker back in December. And it's just too radiant not to share.

The artist is known for his choice of unusual subjects vis a vis portraits. In 2003/04 he photographed juvenile inmates in Russian prisons. If you want a reason to contemplate such things, a google search of these photographs will take your breath away. This image comes from a series of photos taken of migrant farm workers. Of these images, Krauss explains, “Every year thousands of harvest hands come and go like birds of passage. The portraits of migrant seasonal workers show the internal dynamics of a recent migration. They have traveled long distances to work in Germany. The photographs are taken in the fields or in the evening in front of their shacks. They are the people who facilitate our affluent society and who contribute to it in a fundamental way." How much Germany (and Europe) is becoming like California (and the United States) is an ironic under-current in this exhibition.

Contemplate the image offered here: “Untitled: Klaistow”. It could as easily been “Untitled: Barstow,” or “Fresno,” or “Marshalltown.” And yet it is essentially even more than merely a social statement. It's a work of art. Peer into the subject: his face so angelic and his stare almost demonically transfixed upon us. His shoulders are muscular and youthful, while his hands display the swollen deformations of a pitiless manual life.

And consider his attire, particularly the apron. Its pattern of stain and filth seem to form an almost abstract landscape worthy of Turner or Moran -- a work of art within a work of art, a curious echo of the whole image. It's really one of the most stunning photographs I've seen in a long time.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Our Latest American Hero #111

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Sgt. James K. Healy, 25, of Hesperia, Calif.; assigned to the 703rd Explosive Ordnance Detachment, Fort Knox, Ky.; died Jan. 7 at Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Maj. Michael L. Green.

"Hesperia High Graduate Killed In Afghanistan"

Sgt. James K. Healy died trying to make Afghanistan safer for its citizens and U.S.-led coalition in the country.

Healy, 25, a 2000 Hesperia High School graduate, was a member of the 703rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment. His unit locates, recovers and dismantles improved explosive devices (IEDs).

Healy was on his way to disable an IED in Laghar Juy when his Humvee struck a hidden explosive. Healy and Maj. Michael L. Green, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, died at Jalalabad Airfield of wounds suffered in the explosion, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

Healy's unit was deployed to Afghanistan in August as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the military operation in Afghanistan launched in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The 24-member unit had previously been deployed in Iraq and suffered two fatalities there.

Healy is survived by his wife Shannon and a 13-month-old son.

[And George Bush has just committed another 3,000 U.S. troups to join the 26,000 (less 2) already in Afghanistan. When will this nation rise up and whip its own ass? ~ randuwa]

What I'm Watching #124

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Not often first in line when it comes to popular culture, I finally found the time to watch the 5th Harry Potter movie. The occasion was a raging sore throat this morning that precipitated a sick day spent mostly in bed or reclining on my porch swing in the new sunroom. Rest and herbal tea....and a DVD.

This is the first Harry Potter movie that I've seen before reading the book. I actually tried to read this book; and gave up on it about 60% of the way through because it was just too dark for my tastes. J. K. R. can thank her lucrative stars that my sensibilities are more sensitive than the average 11 year old!

But be that as it may, I found the film rather enjoyable. My greatest fear was that the character of Delores Umbridge would be lacking, and this certainly was not the case. Imelda Staunton's performance was devilishly contrived and executed.

Since the next film in the franchise is due in theaters in December of 2008, it may be a safe assumption that the final member of the septology will hit Theaters in late autumn of 2009. I sincerely hope that this is the case. The amazing fortunes of this enterprise have, with the publication of the final volume, passed their zenith -- yet, if a growing number of fans, like myself, have opted to "wait for the movie," it hopefully presents enough of an incentive to make what has been seen as the inevitable, the actual.

And who knows? I might even buy the 6th book now....

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What I'm Watching #123

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I'll keep this short: "Outing Riley" is an infectious, quirky, imaginative comedy about a gay man's impact and catharsis with his siblings after the death of his father. It's sweet. It's sincere. It's a wonderful movie.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday Funnies #14

Originally uploaded by Randuwa

Sunday Funnies #13

Originally uploaded by Randuwa

Can I Get A Witness?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Err...a Jehovah’s Witness! And thus, I spent an enjoyable 15 minutes this afternoon chatting with a pair of amiable proselytizers for the JW cult. A Mr. Martin, and his silent sidekick, Terrence, approached me while I was fixing the glass on my recently installed lamppost. How ironic is that?

I never mind such encounters, and in fact, no doubt due to their training, JW’s are really among the most engaging raconteurs of religious dogma. After meeting their initial questions with comments that clearly took them off guard, including the fact that I was a member of an established church; Mr. Martin, in his precise West African accent, asked me what an Episcopalian was, asserting that he understood us to be American Catholics. So I gave him a very brief history of ECUSA emphasizing the fact that our faith was based on three principles: Tradition, Documents (like the Book of Common Prayer & the Bible), and Reason.

His first line of questioning then went to the notion that God was forming a Kingdom. He asked me if I knew the Lord’s Prayer. I said, "of course."

"Do you believe it?"

"Believe it?" I replied. "It’s not about belief; it’s about Tradition and Community. We recite the prayer at every service, because we understand that we are part of a worldwide communion of believers and that in doing so we express our commitment to being members of one body in faith."

"So you believe in a kingdom," he continued, and I cut him off post haste by explaining that such concepts reflected past understandings that were both misogynistic and based on the idea that God was simply a bigger, badder version of our earthly fathers: the refuse of a Patriarchal social paradigm. He smiled.

Okay, time for some flattery then.....

Next, he thanked me for my lesson, and then whipped open his Bible and quoted 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching....” Ergo, did I believe that the Bible was God’s infallible word?

[Never mind that the JW’s arbitrarily alter the indefinite article throughout the Bible where it says that “Jesus is THE Son of God” to “Jesus is A Son of God.” to support their own doctrinal peccadilloes -- and without the slightest indication from the original ancient languages.]

I said absolutely not, inspired is not infallible; and, of course I pointed out the fact that his overcoat made of wool with a cotton/polyester blend for the lining was, by his own argument an abomination to God. This he glossed past with a chuckle and a smile and then said, “Look, if God can make something so wonderful as yourself, can He not have His exact thoughts recorded in the Bible?”

I pointed out that the question he was asking was simply capricious, that it’s answer was a) impossible to know, and b) if answered in the affirmative presented us with a God that was both all powerful and yet nefarious beyond our most sadistic imaginings. He was asking me to believe in a God with the grace to create life, the over arching need to write a book, and then with all of this exact-power to stand by silently while one genocide after another was perpetrated upon the weakest and most defenseless members of his/her creation with nothing more than feelings of sadness and the promise to clean up his/her “mess” in the end.

Nervous laugh, and comment, “You are well informed. And did you know that we have a prophecy? God is planning to unite the world under His Kingdom very soon.*”

When you’re not making sense, it’s time to move on.

“I see,” I said, “Well, good luck with that. And a blessing upon both of you.” And with that I shook hands and bid them farewell. And for both us, the goal was the same: To save the other from themselves. Neither side scored a point. But I did enjoy the opportunity to sharpen my tools.

* For the record, the Jehovah Witness cult was founded upon the premise that the return of Jesus Christ as prophesied in the Book of Revelations was imminent back in the 1920’s when the sect was first founded. They’ve periodically re-announced this event; it’s their shtick. Now it’s set for sometime in 2008. Don’t hold your breathe.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Our Latest American Hero #110

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Pfc. Brian L. Gorham, 21, of Woodburn, Ky., died Dec. 31 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, of wounds suffered on Dec. 12 in Afghanistan when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Camp Ederle, Vicenza, Italy.

Article #1: After the initial attack and injury

"Kentucky Soldier In Texas Burn Hospital After Afghanistan Attack"

WOODBURN, Ky. -- A soldier from south-central Kentucky suffered severe burns when the Humvee he was riding in rolled over a bomb in Afghanistan, his father said.

Army Spc. Brian Gorham, 23, of Woodburn, suffered second- and third-degree burns to his face, legs, arms and hands, said his father, Toney Gorham.

He was serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy, his father said. He had been in Afghanistan for six months before the Dec. 13 incident.

Brian Gorham is being treated in an intensive care unit in San Antonio, his father said. He recently had his first set of skin grafts on his arms and legs and looks better, but "he's still got a long way to go," Toney Gorham said.

Residents of Woodburn, a close-knit community of just more than 300 people in southern Warren County, were saddened by the news.

"Knowing Brian and his mind, if he can get it set, he'll come through this and won't think anything about it," said Frances McKinney, a neighbor. "Everybody's been real sad because most everybody knows him because he pretty much grew up here."

Stephanie McKinney, 19, described Brian Gorham as "like a big brother" to her. "He was doing what he loved. He loved being a soldier," McKinney said.

Toney Gorham said his son could be in the hospital for a year to treat the burns, which covered 51 percent of his body. But Gorham said the doctors and his son are keeping a positive attitude.

Article #2: After the soldier's death

"Kentucky Soldier, Hurt In Afghan Blast, Dies"

WOODBURN, Ky. -- A Kentucky soldier who suffered severe burns when the Humvee he was riding in rolled over a bomb in Afghanistan has died, his father said yesterday.

"My son was a fighter," said his father, Toney Gorham. "He fought the whole time."

He was being treated in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, when he died. Gorham was remembered as a likable man who was always willing to help his neighbors.

"If you were around Brian for very long you would like him," Jack Wright, a Sunday school teacher at Woodburn Baptist Church, told the Bowling Green Daily News. "I'm proud to have known him."

Frances McKinney, who lived across the street from Gorham and his family, said he was like a big brother to her daughter. "When my dad was sick, Brian and his mother would come over and help him … get around the house," McKinney said. She said that when her family moved into their house 15 years ago, the Gorhams helped welcome them to the community.

McKinney's husband spent eight years in the Army. So when Gorham enlisted, he was able to talk to someone who had military experience. "I remember him coming over and saying he was really excited about doing something meaningful," McKinney said.

Debbie Brown, a secretary at Woodburn Baptist Church, said Gorham would often arrive at Wednesday church services wearing his Army ROTC uniform. "I remember that he looked very distinguished and I'm sure he was proud to wear that uniform," Brown said.

Gov. Steve Beshear directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff in Gorham's honor

What I'm Watching #122

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Boy Crush is a collection of 7 short films about boys falling in love with boys. They come from the U. S. , the U. K., Germany, France, and Australia. They are sad, humorous, hopeful, and by-and-large ambivilent.

It's hard to say which one I enjoyed the most, 'cause honestly, none of them stood out to me. But I guess "Summer" from the U.K. was merciful and sweet, and "Running Without Sound" from the U. S. was tender and, well ambivilently real.

"Oedipus N + 1" from France was the most polished of the films and the saddest.

Glad I have them for my collection.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Where Is Thy Sting?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I got a letter today, inside a belated Christmas card, from my longtime friend, B. B. grew up in my hometown. She and her family attended the church that I stumbled into in High School. A church that I, independent of my family, became of a member of -- and then it had a major influence on the college I attended as an undergraduate. It was a college at which B. was the assistant to the financial aide director and then the F. A. D. before retiring.

My need introduced me to her. My hometown ensured that we would become friends. Her spirit of joy transformed mere friendship into something truer.

The letter in her card told of the death of her sister, C. When she retired (a decade ago now) she returned to our hometown and moved in with C. and her husband. Like dresses cut from the same bolt of clothe, B. & C. were so much each other’s mirror images -- i.e. best friends; and C.'s husband E. is one of the most tender and generous men you're ever likely to meet. I'm sure they made a wonderful household for one another (and now, I have learned: a gracious hospice for C.'s final days.....)

Which brings me to this remembrance of B.

In August of 1986, I was preparing to begin my second year of teaching. I had been hired to teach 6th grade at an elementary school the previous year with the clear understanding that the county was moving to the "middle school" concept, and the local Junior High was to become a Middle School. Therefore, my colleagues, and I would find ourselves in a "new" building and a new configuration, as all 6th grades in the county were being smoushed into the new middle school.

On the Saturday, before the first Monday of school for me, I received a phone call from my sister informing me that my father had died suddenly in his sleep. Without any expectation, and he was only 65 having retired just 6 weeks prior....the news hit me like the proverbial "ton of bricks". I hardly knew what to do. Somehow, I found the where-with-all to call B. and ask her to contact local friends for me to share the news. She gladly accepted the role and then just before I hung up, made me promise to stop be her place before I left town. Numbly I agreed.

When I arrived she presented me with a bologna sandwich, an apple, some crackers, and a mason jar of water. Knowing that I was about to drive the 6 hours between our town in Kentucky and our hometown in Michigan, she made me promise to "eat something" acknowledging that I would not either think of that pedestrian activity or likely want to stop long enough to take care of this need.

In my entire life, I really can't imagine a nicer act of grace. And I've had my share of tender surprises in moments of distress.

May Light Perpetual shine upon C.!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What I'm Reading #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
This finale in a chronicle of stories and characters long beloved.

It was a holiday gift from J. my ex-, and so it was very thoughtful.

It's A New Year!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I hope that I am not being premature in this pronouncement. After some of the darkest days of the war on terrorism in Iraq, there is a shift in the US casualties that is as dramatic as it is long-desired.

The graph compares the months of the year 2007; and the colors compare each month to each other month like it since September of 2001. 2007 saw 6 months with the worst casualties during those months in the long prosecution of this conflict. 2 others were the second deadliest months. And then in September the trend began to move downward. October and Novembers shared a casualty count of 49 US troops each; and then December has ended with 28 deaths.

Clearly 28 too many, but when you look back to last December's 112 casualties, you can't help but be thankful for all of the possible men and women who could have joined their ill-fated comrades.

May this be the harbinger of better days for the Iraqi people, and the change on the ground that will finally permit a quick withdrawal from this nation by our occupying troops.