Sunday, August 30, 2009

Late August Gardens #1

The container plantings off my kitchen door continue to delight in every way!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What I'm Listening To #58

As usual, late to the table, but still loving Flo Rida's "R.O.O.T.S." CD. From start to finish this collection flows with rythym and bounce that gives your heart a sense of syncronicity. Flo Rida's creative nexus typifies the urban groove/Rap ethos of self-revelatory narrative. It's a telling of stories that reveals a world that anyone with half-a-heart can embrace. Flo Rida extends this genre by doing it with a quality of delivery that distinguishes him from the hordes of wannabe's. If you like sex, relationships, family, partying, precision lyrics and kickass music, this is the CD for you! Not to put too fine a point on it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Massachusett's Kennedy Conundrum

With the passing into ancestry of Senator Edward Kennedy, a critical void has been created in the United States Senate. Republicans are playing pure politics when they suggest that this is NO time to talk about his replacement--because what they don't say is that NO time is appropriate in their playbook. I will step out of the pack of reverent apoliticism and say this; the BEST way to honor one of this nation's consummate politicians is to speak about the political future of his very and deeply vested seat. I do so here with reverence and without apology.

The IDEAL: Massachusetts deserves a full compliment of senators, which reflect the state's progressive majority ethos at a time when every senator matters to the nation as a whole.

The REAL: Because the majority of the citizens elected progressive Democrats to make their laws, those elected officials created a scheme to protect their interests from the possibility of being represented by a conservative appointee sent to the senate by a former Republican governor.

How to proceed? What's the bottom line? Here's my perspective: The people of Massachusetts elect legislators whom they feel will protect and promote their interests. The law to deny former Republican Governor Mitt Romney the ability to appoint a conservative politician to the Senate did that. And now their imminent reversal of that law simply does the same thing: it represents the will of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You can dislike it, you can pooh-pooh it, but it ultimately boils down to something South Carolina's Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, most recently reiterated during the confirmation hearings of Sonya Sotomayor to the Supreme Court: "Elections have consequences. Period."

So I predict that Massachusetts governor Duval Patrick is about to have the opportunity to appoint Senator Kennedy's replacement, and this is my suggestion. Appoint someone who will on-face commit to only fulfill the five months between their appointment and the special election. Appoint someone who will exemplify the legacy of Senator Kennedy's life of service. Appoint someone who represents Senator Kennedy's commitment to diversity and justice.

Therefore, APPOINT the retired Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, the Right Reverend Barbara Harris. A black woman of impeccable progressive credentials, whose life's mission has been to serve all of the people of Massachusetts without prejudice in the pursuit of a more perfect union, with liberty and justice for all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our Latest American Hero #136

Army Pvt. Keiffer P. Wilhelm, 19, of Plymouth, Ohio, died August 4 in Maysan province, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.

The body of an Army private who died Tuesday in south- western Iraq arrived late Thursday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The non-combat shooting death of Plymouth native Kieffer P. Wilhelm is under investigation, Army officials said. The 19-year-old infantryman landed in Iraq about a month ago.

“We’re all beside ourselves,” Shelly Wilhelm, his stepmother, said Thursday. “I loved the boy.”

After enlisting in December, Wilhelm went to Fort Bliss, Texas, via Fort Benning, Ga., and served in the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. His division left for southwest Asia in May 2009 to prepare for operations in Iraq, the Army reports. 

Department of Defense officials said his death from a gunshot wound was in a “non-combat incident,” but a Pentagon spokeswoman gave no other details Thursday.

Shelly Wilhelm, 39, of Plymouth, said Kieffer Wilhelm had lived with them for about a year. He graduated from Willard High School in May 2008. She said his father, Adrian “Shane” Wilhelm, 40, last spoke to his son via text message in late July. They last saw him May 7 at his brother’s wedding in Arizona, where Kieffer was best man. 

The Wilhelms are a military family. Shane is a Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm. Kieffer’s older brother, Shannon, 21, serves in the Air Force.

Shelly said the family got the news Tuesday afternoon,. Shane Wilhelm left for Dover on Wednesday, she said. He is expected to return to Plymouth in a few days with his son’s body. A memorial service will be announced.

FOLLOW-UP article:

Four American soldiers have been charged with cruelty and maltreatment of an 19-year-old soldier who committed suicide after being in Iraq for 10 days, the U.S. military told NBC News Friday.

The four Multi-National Division-South soldiers are accused of hazing Private Keiffer P. Wilhelm of Ohio. They abused Wilhelm with excessive physical fitness, said Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a military spokesman.

One defense official told NBC News that Wilhelm eventually stopped going to public areas to avoid being harassed repeatedly for being overweight.

Olson said the period of time over which the alleged acts took place was under investigation.

The Fort Bliss soldier locked himself inside a portable toilet and shot himself with a rifle on Aug. 4 in Maysan Province, military officials told NBC. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Military officials identified the charged officers as Sgt. Enoch Chatman, Staff Sgt. Bob Clements, Sgt. Jarrett Taylor and Spc. Daniel Weber, all of B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment from Fort Bliss, Texas.

The four soldiers also are accused of abusing other male soldiers, Olson said.

The accused are part of the first brigade to deploy to Iraq for the new Advise and Assist mission, whose job is to train Iraqi security forces to be better soldiers.

Chatman, of West Covina, Calif., was charged with four counts of cruelty and maltreatment, one count of making a false statement and one count of reckless endangerment. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 10 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of pay, the military said.

Clements, of Eastland, Texas, faces four counts of cruelty and maltreatment, three counts of making a false statement, one count of impeding an investigation and one count of reckless endangerment. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 25 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge, the military said.

Taylor, of Edmond, Okla., was charged with two counts of cruelty and maltreatment, one count of making false statement and one count of reckless endangerment. He faces up to eight years in prison, if convicted on all charges.

Weber, of Frankenmuth, Mich., has been charged with three counts of cruelty and maltreatment, one count of reckless endangerment and one count of impeding an investigation. The charges together carry a nine-year maximum sentence upon conviction.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Random Quote #107

"A loud voice is not always angry; a soft voice not always to be dismissed; and a well-placed silence can be the indisputable last word."

~ Gloria Naylor, 1950 -

New Pocket Magnet Version

God, I love Scrabble, but I never imagined that I would face the possibility of asking, "Is that the new pocket magnetic version of Scrabble? Or are you just glad to see me!?"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Calendar Time?

Looking for a 2010 Calendar? Skip Barnes & Noble and Borders, and support the South Florida Firefighter's Charities. The link will give you all the information you need.

My Quilting Ways #18

My latest quilt continues to evolve. I've worked out the arrangement of the twelve fabrics. This model doesn't actually reflect the much more subtle patterns or effects of the actual fabrics' interactions with one another. It just give me a guide to follow as I plot it out. From the first triad (My Quilting Ways #17) I have now completed 4 of the 12. I'm liking this one a lot.

Thangka Friends

Got a postcard from a friend with this beautiful image of the Medicine Buddha Thangka from Tibet.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Town Hall Meeting 101

Recently Representative Barney Frank was attacked at a Townhall meeting in Massachusetts by a bat ass stupid little tool of the ReTHUGlican party, and he cut the crap with her like any self-respecting sentient being would without fear, without hesitation, and with a grace that strikes like lightning--a bold bolt of truth-telling.

I sent him the following response in the form of a post card. 28¢ to support him and be an activist! Who among us can't afford that?


Dear Representative Frank,

I know you are a busy and important person. So, I won’t beat around the bush: I thought your response to that young lady who spoke of Obama and Nazism in the same breath at your recent townhall meeting was BRILLIANT! I’ve never been prouder to call myself a Democrat, a Progressive, a Gay Man, or an American! YOU ROCK, sir.
YOU, fucking ROCK! THANK YOU!--I can shout, too....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Quilting Ways #17

No sooner do I finish one quilt, than I start the next. This is the first of 12 patches featuring a triad of intertwined spikes against a charcoal background. The finished quilt with feature 12 different fabrics used in equal measure with one being donimant in each of the triads...perhaps the 12 tribes of Isreal? It's still evolving.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Quilting Ways #16

I shared a couple of the circle patches from this quilt earlier; here, the finished product.

It's a work about diversity: Circles in vibrant colors appliqued against a criss-cross background of white on point squares under a grid of an off-white fabric with a pure white pattern. Subtle versus brilliant. Rigid versus organic. Bland versus vibrant. Conflict drives everything toward resolution, the difference gives everything energy, the journey deeper discovery.

And it's just kind of pretty, too.

TV Stamps

Have you seen the latest US postal commemoratives?

"TV Early Memories" with 20 images from early TV personalities like Rod Serling, Milton Berle & Lassie. 4 favs here: Red Skelton, Dinah Shore, Fran Ållison (Kukla & Ollie), and Raymond Burr. You look at these images and wonder how anyone survived nacent TV and remained straight! The memories are pleasant, even as the post office and stamps may soon become memories in their own right. Modernity is a heartless mistress. And we live in times where story boards for shows of my youth like "Twilight Zone" seem less scary and more inevitable. Great stamps!

What I'm Reading #19

Reading is not really true, here, and yet it is.

Like everything David Sedaris has ever written, it's best when he reads it to you! "When You Are Engulfed In Flames" is no exception. He's such a gifted story teller. Skip the hard cover, go for the 8 disk audio version.

What ultimately makes David Saderis so delightful is his non chalant, intimate accessibility. You can only fully appreciate that when if comes from his own voice, and once there, you'll never read anything that he's written without hearing the cadence and tembor of his voice in your mind. Why waste the brain power? Just buy the DVD's, you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What I'm Watching #210

"Denied is a Canadian film from 2004 about the angst between a becoming self-accepting gay former high school football star and his sexually ambiguous artsy slacker roommate. And the movie is all about the angst. I could have sworn that I knew both of the principle actors, Lee Rumohr (Troy) and Matt Austin (Merrick), but a quick visit to IMDB proved me wrong; though both had short/reaccurring roles on the US version of Queer as Folk, a TV series I've never seen. I think at least for Lee Rumohr the false recollection has everything to do with his uncanny resemblance to French actor, Stéphane Rideau.

In a way this movie reminded me of my own college years when I still wasn't ready to own my sexuality and so kept falling into intimate mostly unrequited liaisons with straight boys (it's surprising how far two young men will go with each other when they are both "straight")....interesting film, not at all what I expected.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whole Foods Market, Inc. -- My Response!

Whole Food Markets, Inc.'s CEO, John Mackey has come out in a pronounced and passionate way against national Healthcare Reform. As a consumer of his business, I cannot accept this blindly. He has every right to take a stand, and I have not only a right, but an obligation to respond. Here's my response, in the form of a letter.

John Mackey, CEO
Whole Foods Market, Inc.
550 Bowie Street
Austin, Texas 78703-4644

Dear Mr. Mackey,

I'm going to keep this short and to the point. Your stance against healthcare reform is surely ill informed and simply unacceptable. As a corporate business owner, you of all people ought to realize the value of a national healthcare system that provides affordable, efficient access to doctors and medicine for all Americans.
We live in the richest nation this planet has ever witnessed, and yet our citizens receive only the 37th best healthcare behind places like Costa Rica, Andorra, & Cyprus! This is simply unacceptable. We have given our new president a mandate to make right in this area what has been for way too long wrong. Your right to oppose this initiative is your sacred option; however, as the corporate leader of a company that I have long supported with my hard earned dollars, it comes at a price.
After years of frequent and regular patronage at your stores in Silver Spring and Gaithersburg, Maryland; I will no longer spend another dime at either. Furthermore, I will do whatever I can to educate my family, friends, co-workers, and church community about your opposition to healthcare reform in the hopes of convincing them to take the same stand.
I sincerely hope that you come to your senses and recant your opposition to healthcare reform.

Civily yours,


A similar letter was sent to each of the members of Whole Foods Market's board of Directors. They are:

Dr. John B. Elstrott
Gabrielle Greene
Hass Hassan
Stephanie Kugelman
Jonathan A. Seiffer
Morris Siegel
Jonathan D. Sokoloff
Dr. Ralph Z. Sorenson
William A. Tindell, III

Here's a copy of the letter that I sent to each of the them:

William A. Tindell, Member of the Board of Directors
Whole Foods Market, Inc.
550 Bowie Street
Austin, Texas 78703-4644

Dear Mr. Tindell,

I'm going to keep this short and to the point. The stance of your CEO, John Mackey, against healthcare reform is simply unacceptable. As a member of the Board of Directors at Whole Foods, you deserve to be informed when your CEO’s actions jeopardize the bottom line of the company you are charged with shepherding.
As I told, Mr. Mackey in a separate letter, we live in the richest nation this planet has ever witnessed, and yet our citizens receive only the 37th best healthcare behind places like Costa Rica, Andorra, & Cyprus!1 This is simply unacceptable. We have given our new president a mandate to make right in this area what has been for way too long wrong. And while I will defend Mr. Mackey’s right as an American citizen to speak his truth, as the corporate leader of your company --a company that I have long supported with my hard earned dollars, his right to an opinion comes at a price.
After years of frequent and regular patronage at your stores in Silver Spring and Gaithersburg, Maryland; I will no longer spend another dime at either. Furthermore, I will do whatever I can to educate my family, friends, co-workers, and church community about Mr. Mackey’s opposition to healthcare reform.
I sincerely hope that you can help Whole Foods discover a more humane stand on this issue.

Civily yours,

What I'm Watching #209

Just saw this film about the staging as a musical of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" at a backwater boys school, where the kid playing Puck is gay and gets his revenge on all the bullies with the help of a little fairy magic. "Were the World Mine" is a veritable train wreck of ideas. With some really wonderful moments, but an overall lack of an adult in charge...kinda like AMND, come to think of it.

Past Time for Truth Telling!

You Go Bill! You Go!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Crafts "MAN" ship?

Take a seat, er, gentle- men....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What I'm Watching #208

"Good Boys" is another film out of Israel. It tells the story of a night in the lives of two male prostitutes in Tel Aviv. It's a no frills look at life on the streets.

Interesting, well directed and written with simple and believable dialogue. I'm glad I watched it. I'm ambivilent about recommending it.

Deer Out! Indeed!

I may have found it--El Dorado, the lost city of gold!

Well, gold. But something just as precious to this frustrated gardener: a naturally formulated spray that repels dear from using my gardens like a smorgasbord. It's called "Deer Out" and can be purchased via the Internet. After a month where all of my hostas, phlox, violets, begonias and roses have been decimated, I asked my neighbor how his garden had managed to fair so well. And he introduced me to this product.

It has a menthol, pepper-minty smell and is absorbed into the leaves where it claims to protect the plant from consumption for up to 3 months. Here’s hoping!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

What I'm Watching #207

The poster for the movie reads like some military recruitment campaign with the question: "Do You Have What It Takes?" And believe me, it's no coincidence as we witness Julie Powell's attack on the recipes in the seminal cookbook "The Art of French Cooking" by her idol, Julia Child (Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle), paralleled against Child & Company's own heroic offensive in creating and getting the original work published. As ad campaigns go, this one seeks to counter-act the movie's real strength and I suppose broaden the innocent appeal of the movie -- a movie that is not about drama, but in the best sense and execution of the genre: relationships.

A mon avis, this is the best film Nora Ephron has ever made. Meryl Streep is stunningly endearing as the irrepressible diva of all things "au sujet de la cuisson." The performances of her co-conspirators in the project: Linda Emond & Helen Carey (both familiar to those of us hooked on the "Law & Order" franchise for their varied and reoccurring roles) are delightful. Stanley Tucci delivers such a restrained and beautiful performance as Julia's beloved husband, Paul. Tucci is the epitome of an actor, because he knows exactly what not to do in a scene to make you forget that you're watching a reenactment of anything. The scenes of affection and romance between he and Meryl brought tears to my eyes every time. The costumes and settings were just as much characters in conveying me to the 50's and Julia Child's amazing world.

The story of the here and now was Amy Adams alone, and she carried it with an at times innocent aggression that gave what could have been a sidekick in this film the presence of an equal. This is one I look forward to adding to my DVD collection.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Mi Maduro Burro

I've named my new truck! And it's just come in with it's first gas milage stats: 28.97 miles per gallon. 29 mpg is good enough for me! Someone should tell the government, and it would have cost me $4,500 less than it did.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Exponential Times

I posted an older version of this video over a year ago. It's very thought provoking and so here's an updated version, again.

Shocking - Information Age

What I'm Reading #18

The memoir of recently passed-into-ancestry writer E. Lynn Harris is making for some very compelling summer reading. He starts his tale with his 1990 suicide attempt, and then takes you back to the events in his life that led him to that point, and then the journey to wholeness and fulfillment. It makes his untimely death two weeks ago all the more poignant. At times his story is tremendously painful to read, but you're never that far away from grace, from goodness.

He says of memoir himself, "The lessons I have learned are not limited to race, gender, or sexual orientation. Anyone can learn from my journey. Anyone can overcome a broken heart."

I would love if every teacher at my school would read this story to increase their empathy quota.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Apple as Art, as Lore

Love this clever little image. Reminds me of Michael Pollan's book, "The Botony of Desire" and all of the history and facts about apples included therein. Tidbits like the origin of apples being the central steppes of Asia. The nation of Kazakhstan to be specific, who's capital Alma Ata literally translates as "The Father of the Apple". Long way from there is its transformation into America's most patriotic fruit!

The apple is very much like us in that the seeds of every apple contain a unique genetic code. The offspring can be as much like or as imaginably different from the parent as our children. This is called, "heterozygotism," and apples exhibit this characteristic in the extreme. In an apple core this means that the ONLY way to get a replica of an existing variety is to graft it. Err, that would be the old-fashioned version of cloning.

So this particular apple carved into the world came from a progenator that appeared in the field of an Iowa farmer in the 1870's. It wasn't something he anticipated and so in plowing his fields, he wacked it back. But as anyone who owns an apple tree can testify, they are as tenacious as any weed. So for a couple of years, Jesse Hiatt, wacked back this obnoxious plant, but eventually he let the tree grow and thereby discovered the amazing fruit it produced. In 1880, he entered it in a competition which it won, and then sold the rights to a commercial interest who named it Red Delicious and began it's journey into the pantheon of all American apple history. Every single Red delicious apple ever eaten, admired, turned into cider, whatever, since then is a clone of a clone of a clone of that scrappy little volunteer apple tree on that rural Iowa farm. And now someone carves one into a map of the world--how fitting.

Merce Cunningham RIP

Another artist has died. Merce Cunning- ham was one of the most influent- ial and innova- tive choreographers of the twentieth century. He created more than 200 choreographic works in his lifetime. He was to dance, what a host of abstract expressionist artists were to painting and/or sculpture, but he did it on his own. A lover of the human body, he demanded his dancers to embrace movement and physicality for it's own value--unhindered by music, lighting or other theatrical trappings. His passing into ancestry on Sunday, July 25th, has forever marked an end to era in dance. In accordance with his will, his dance company will disband by July of 2011, but his influence will forever extend into the future.

Merce was a member of the cast of many who's ideas and influence pushed the rest of us into modernity. Too many people live life as serfs tending the soil of their meager lives never imagining for a moment the power of the present, let alone the possibility of the future. Merce's life expressed a profound desire to live as if the possible were the present, and the present was always reaching out for more...what a compelling witness to our potential.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Cash For Clunkers Fever

I visited a local Nissan dealer today after exploring possibili- ties online last evening. It was a hot day, sun and humidity past my comfort zone. I stood a good while on the lot until a grey haired, copper skinned gentlemen approached me and began the transaction process as my salesperson--how random life is for those who work on commission.

I quickly discovered, he was this wonderfully congenial Jamacian-American. We bonded around the teaching thing: in a former life, he taught at an elite high school in Kingston. At 62, he still remembered with genuine nostolgic affection his role as track coach there, and his students whom he'd guided to inter-American first place trophies back in the mid-70's. After emigrating to the United States, he coached at Arch-Bishop Carroll high school in Washington, D.C. for a time and took a few of the kids there to international meets, too, where they prevailed. I love stories. Older men and women possess amazing ones. I went there to explore the possibility of buying a truck, and I walked away owning the gift of another man's world.

On the particulars, I can get $7,500 off the sticker price. The truck I'm looking at is a Nissan Frontier; appears to be available and the monthly payment is cake for me. I'm planning to return tomorrow to close the deal. Having not purchased a new vehicle since 1992!--my current truck, a.k.a. "clunker," doesn't even show up on the Nissan website for trade in quotes (which only goes back to 1995)! And it's engine is still purring like a kitty!

What I'm Listening To #57

Pulled out this amazing album and have been listening to it over the better part of the last couple of evenings. There's a reason why it was the all time best selling album prior to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Produced in 1971, I didn't discover it until 1985. As a result, all of the ground breaking songs embraced by the feminist movement on "Tapestry" largely remained obscure from that vantage point, and the album was free to take on an intensely personally role in the soundtrack of my mid-20's. It’s the backdrop to unrequited love, existential angst, incredible friendships, and some of the most profound moments of personal revelation in my life.

Listening again is like opening up a locked box of intimate memories, blunted feelings, and nearly forgotten moments. The risk of melancholy is still ameliorated by Carole King's forceful message of empowerment that is the foundation of this amazing album.