Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Me And Te-Ve!

After a childhood addicted to Television, I was thankfully given life experiences that helped me get the monkey off my back. It's allowed me to return with a discerning palate and the will to walk away from the general crap. So I follow a rare few set of shows and in the comedy category they are Glee, Modern Family, and The Office. A triad validated by this year's Emmys.

That said, the money was on the season openers for all three and who would return with the requisite BANG. The week one winner? The Office! And both Modern Family and Glee were fine, too.

Now it's week two and where do we stand?

The Office: Kathy Bates is awesome. Steve Carrell has found his niche as an ensemble player, Rainn Wilson is out of control to the point of being distasteful (he's poised for a poignant story line or dismissal as relevant or even interesting), Zach Woods and Ellie Kemper are awesome additions.

Modern Family had a good first week and an excellent second show. The whole "kissing" theme was well integrated and gave the other strands legs, this was Modern Family writing at its best.

Glee opened with lots of stuff to present and as a here's the new lay of the land episode was well tolerated. This week's LONG ANTICIPATED (that is in the works and on the blogs from since Washington killed the poor cherry tree!) The Britney Spears episode was a generation buster. Under 40 you liked it, over 40 and it was inane. It was inane. Will played the fool, Sue played the fool, Santana and Rachel were made to look like foolish dancers against Brittany's AMAZING dancing, Jacob Ben Israel played the mega-pervert (and before the sacred 9pm children's in bed hour), and Terri was a FREAKING ZOMBIE. What the hell were they thinking?

"Praise Cheesus" looks very compelling, and like a bad batch of succotash, the Britney Spears episode has passed without much blood in the stool. Let's hope Glee finds it's feet before much longer.

ps ~ Coach Beiste is a welcome addition.

Truly Amazing!

Photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II between 1909 and 1912. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking at photographs taken 100 years ago - when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun. Here are six of the hundreds of color images made available by the Library of Congress, which purchased the original glass plates back in 1948.

A man and woman posed in Dagestan.

A general view of the Nikolaeskii Cathedral from the southwest in Mozhaisk, 1911.

Emir Seyyid Mir mohammed Alim Khan, the Emir of Bukhara, seated holding a sword in Kuhara (present-day Uzbekistan).

A group of Jewish children with a Rabbi in Samarkand.

View of Tiflis (Tblisi), Georgia from the grounds of Saint David Church.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Today's Sermon #36

In college, I started out as an art major. The last course I took on that track was a printmaking class. It was the only creative experience I had in what became for me a "minor" on my transcripts. At the time, I was working on a horse farm. My parents weren't able to support me, so I worked throughout my college years, and the last 3 were spent at Cold Spring farm.


Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

~ James Wright, 1927 - 1980

Art I'm Owning #10.1

Framing a work of art can be very traumatic. Especially when you want it to be perfect! Most of the art I own is well framed, but there are a couple of pieces that work yet don't really measure up. I've learned to live with them.

For this particular painting, however; mediocrity was not an option. This painting was long sought after, came as a precious surprise, and simply had to be perfectly framed.

My initial concept was an elaborately constructed custom frame that incorporated fabric as an acknowledgement of my relationship with the artist. It would have been adequate. And as I processed it further from concept to execution, it's reality became more and more muddled in my mind. And then, I randomly rediscovered an old frame that I had long kept in the minutia of my clutter.

It's a frame that was my grandmother's and came to me when I raided the junk from her estate. Originally, it held this little oil painting of a landscape--but that had disappeared by the time I got to it. Finding it, I thought, I wonder if this would even fit? Trying it out was like fitting the glass slipper upon the foot of Cinderella. I knew two things that belonged together had been united.

Team Aley! WOOO WOOO~!

We're starting a get healthy initiative at school and it involves forming teams and recording data, mostly around exercise. The four of us affectionately known to ourselves as the "Lunch Bunch" have rallied to the cause and chosen a name that honors our default team captain (I think he was just outnumbered during the vote we took when he went to the bathroom....) In honor of that I have created a Team Aley logo! Voila!

My lunch bunch is a special group of people. T. is the father of two adolescents, and a wizard at all things techy. He takes gnarled and discarded hunks of trees and crafts them into the most amazing and utilitarian things. P. is a person whose heart is strong and deeply loyal. She grew up in West Virginia as a Jew which must have been on some level a cultural roller coaster! And both aspects of her life enrich and define her gifts to others. M. is our "Cheerio" (cheerleader) coach and architect. With three grown kids: one still in college, one just into her first job, and one her husband and local High School coach, she is the quintessential mom. And there's me, of course, gay and single and silly and in love with all of them. I'd like to think that the feelings are myooch.

And that's the thing about friends. You can be what you want, you can share what you will, you can develop trust and understanding and even tender affections, but it never ever ceases to be a source of discovery, or increased trust, and of deepening personhood. Because alone we are pretty much useless. It is only in the context of others that we find our true definition.

No Gaydar Required...

If your boyfriend's underwear drawer looks like's time to have that little chat you've been avoiding!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Grrrr....Call me "Daddy"!

I'm sorry, but people are just so damn greedy that they'll follow anyone who tells them what they want to hear. And they get what they deserve.

The story is about Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of mega evangelical New Birth Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia--A church with 30,000 members and a mission to reorient homosexuals. As it turns out Long is a closeted "Catcher" on my team! The hypocrite bench just got a little longer...oh my.

(Not the photos of the Bishop used in actual church literature--actually the pics he sent to young men and boys to seduce them into having sex)

Now lest you think this is a still some small fish in a little pond here's a quote from Wikipedia: "In 2006, Long was chosen by the family of Martin Luther King, Jr. to host and officiate the funeral for Mrs. Coretta Scott King, wife of the late civil rights pioneer. The event was attended by four Presidents (George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter)."

Furthermore, "CNN has said "Long frequently denounces homosexual behavior." Long has ministered “homosexual cure” programs to recruit gays and lesbians for what he called “Sexual Reorientation” conferences and his church offers an ongoing “Out of the Wilderness” ministry to help convert homosexuals into heterosexuals. In 2004, Long led a march with Bernice King to her father Martin Luther King, Jr.'s grave against same-sex marriage and to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage "between one man and one woman." A 2007 article in the Southern Poverty Law Center's magazine called him "one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.""

And now, my.

In the lawsuit filled by one of the plaintiffs, Jamal Parris, the following points were listed among the allegations:

39. Defendant Long would encourage Jamal Parris to call him "Daddy."

40. Initially, Defendant Long engaged in sexual touching during their encounters and then escalated the activity to oral sodomy and other acts of sexual gratification.

41. Defendant Long would discuss the Holy Scripture to justify and support the sexual activity.

46. On these trips and in private meetings at the Bishop's private office located inside New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Snapfinger Road Guest House, Bishop Eddie Long engaged in oral sodomy, seuxal massages, requested Plaintiff Parris to be nude in his presence, and engaged in other sexual activity with Plaintiff Parris.

All of the plaintiffs stated that they began an affiliation with Long when each was just 14 years old. But that he coerced each of them into a sexual relationship with gifts, trips, and money. So far, members of the preacher's church seem to be denying that he would engage in such an activity, especially since he is against homosexuality, but Long has yet to come forward himself to address the charges.

14!? -- OFF THE TEAM, baby! Who doesn't like to be called "Daddy" after a certain age, but it's a fantasy Bishop Long, not a Biblical mandate!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Manfred Gans R.I.P.

Sometimes a story finds you that you just have to share. This one comes from the New York Times' Obituary Column, and it touched me deeply, perhaps it will effect you the same way.

"Manfred Gans Is Dead @ 88; Combed Wartime Europe For His Parents"
Manfred Gans in 1945.

He was 16 when his parents sent him to England, fearing for his life as a Jew in Nazi Germany, and when war broke out he clamored to join the British armed forces. Finally he was accepted, his fluency in German earning him a spot with a secret commando unit. And with that, Manfred Gans set off on a mission: to find his parents.

Mr. Gans — or Capt. Freddy Gray, as he was identified by the British Army — was assigned with his fellow commandos to interrogate enemy prisoners as the Allies made their way across France and the Netherlands and into Germany.

In March 1945, he helped free his hometown, the ancient walled city of Borken, where he had been born on April 27, 1922. His house, on the outskirts of town, had been used as a Nazi headquarters; the wine cellar was a torture chamber. His parents, Moritz and Else Fraenkel Gans, had been taken away.

Mr. Gans was determined to find them, though he had no idea if they had survived. He asked his superior officers to grant him a leave. They gave him a jeep and a driver, and the two embarked on a journey that would take them across hundreds of miles of German-held territory.

Mr. Gans with his parents and grandmother in photographs from the family.

Because his father, a prosperous merchant, had been the first Jew to serve on the Borken City Council, it was likely that his parents had been taken to Theresienstadt, the “show” concentration camp the Nazis had used in propaganda films. Although it was not a death camp, thousands of prisoners were taken from there to the gas chambers. By the end of the war, thousands would starve at Theresienstadt.

Early in May 1945, Mr. Gans and his driver crossed over the Sudeten Mountains into Czechoslovakia and approached the barbed-wire fences at Theresienstadt, outside Prague.

“There were German divisions manning their guns that could have easily killed them” along the way, said Steven Karras, author of “The Enemy I Knew: German Jews in the Allied Military in World War II” (2009).

Russian troops had seized the camp, and they let Mr. Gans and his driver through.

“There were a massive number of people in there, all terribly crowded; most were too weak to get out of the way,” Mr. Gans told Mr. Karras. “People were practically crawling through our legs.”

At the camp office, a young girl scrolled through the “endless list” of prisoners. Then, Mr. Gans recalled, “she looked up and said: ‘You’re lucky, they’re still here. They are alive.’ ”

The girl escorted Mr. Gans to where his parents were housed. She went in first to prepare them.

His parents stepped outside. “My father was so decimated, if I had met him on the street I would not have recognized him,” Mr. Gans said. “When they saw me, my parents were totally swept up — crying, shocked.”

A crowd gathered and started singing.

“A group of Zionist girls came and gave my mother flowers,” Mr. Gans said.

Mr. Gans died Sunday at his home in Fort Lee, N.J., his son, Daniel, said. He was 88.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Today's Sermon #35

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

~ Christina Rossetti, 1830 - 1894

Friday, September 17, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Sun

On August 21, 2017 a spectacular total eclipse of the sun by the moon will occur along a path that will vivisect the United States from North to South starting in Oregon and ending in South Carolina. It's a spectacular event and an amazing opportunity for Americans to experience this most power phenomenon of nature. And, for one, am already plotting my participation.

The path of the total eclipse is long, but narrow. Beyond it's edges exists a very large swath of partial eclipse with a waning drama the further away from the center of the event that you go. The partial eclipse will be visible across all of North America, Central America and even some of South America.

But lets go where the money shots are.

Beginning at 17:17 hours GMT: Cutler City, Lincoln County OREGON,
17:21 GMT: Antelope, Wasco County OREGON,
17:25 GMT: Bridgeport, Baker County OREGON,
17:29 GMT: Obsidian, Custer County IDAHO,
17:33 GMT: Monteview, Jefferson County IDAHO,
17:37 GMT: Sheep Mountain, Teton County WYOMING,
17:41 GMT: Moneta, Fremont County WYOMING,
17:45 GMT: Glenrock, Converse County WYOMING,
17:49 GMT: Agate, Souix County NEBRASKA,
17:53 GMT: Hyannis, Grant County NEBRASKA,

17:57 GMT: Milton, Custer County NEBRASKA,
18:01 GMT: Grafton, Fillmore County NEBRASKA,
18:05 GMT: Pawnee City, Pawnee County NEBRASKA,
18:09 GMT: Osborne, Clinton County MISSOURI,
18:13 GMT: New Franklin, Howard County MISSOURI,
18:17 GMT: St. Clair, Franklin County, MISSOURI,
18:21 GMT: Gorham, Jackson County, ILLINOIS,
18:25 GMT: Eddyville, Lyon County, KENTUCKY,
18:29 GMT: Cross Plains, Robertson County TENNESSEE,
18:33 GMT: Watts Bar Dam, Rhea County TENNESSEE,
18:37 GMT: Scaly, Macon County NORTH CAROLINA,
18:41 GMT: Saluda, Saluda County SOUTH CAROLINA,
18:45 GMT: Vance, Orangeburg County SOUTH CAROLINA,
18:47 GMT: Bull Bay, Charleston County SOUTH CAROLINA.

West to east, the 2017 total eclipse will also be experiences by people living in some moderate to large cities. So if you live in Salem or Corvalis, Oregon; Boise or Idaho Falls, Idaho; Jackson Hole or Casper, Wyoming; Scottsbluff, Grand Island, or Lincoln, Nebraska; Kansas City, Kansas; Kansas City, Jefferson City, Columbia, or St. Louis, Missouri; East St. Louis or Carbondale, Illinois; Paducah or Bowling Green, Kentucky; Nashville or Knoxville, Tennessee; and Greenville, Columbia, Orangeburg or Charleston, South Carolina you don't have to go any farther than your front or back door.

For the rest of us some planning is store.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Step by Step

Most of my life has been about living in the midst of familiar objects. And I have been exceedingly blessed to have been given access to things from my family--first my parents, and then my grandparents. It's be a comfort on many levels: not having to buy things, adding my karma to the energy stream of the past, discovering a strange connectedness. But life itself intervenes at times, and it's not always a good thing to cling to the past--in spite of all the support that it can provide.

My first lesson at really creating my own space came when my ex- declared his intention to split in 2003. Out of this I defined for the first time as an adult my bedroom. It was in 2005 that I completed this process with my dining room. A room that was so significant in the life of my partnered days, but remained a place with lingering memories that were not free of baggage.

In 2008 is was the renovation of the my sunporch. Previously, a space that had become a de facto storage room helpless against the whims of the weather or the seasons. The transformation gave me a whole new living space.

And now there is this sofa....t was originally purchased by my grandparents in the 1930's. It was reupholstered in 1989. It's solid and comfortable and time to be enjoyed by someone else. And once in the home of another will allow me the opportunity to define my living room as my space, too.

Lego Bus Depot

My latest Lego creation is a bus depot, with incidentals from Lego's newest city set of the same intention, I created a building to give the other pieces a context and then combined and expanded some of those to fit the building. And since my cousin asked what I do with my creations, this photo shows the building on it's piece of real estate in my lego city.


Rafael Nadal Perera becomes only the seventh man in the history of the sport to win the tennis Grand Slam. ¡Felicitones!

But the real accomplishment is his hair. How does he keep it so shiny and together? I've recently let mine grow back out to shoulder length and it's a freakin' frizzy mess!

Rafael, keep your tennis secrets, but please tell me, what conditioner do you use?

Just Sayin'

Okay ladies, hate us because we can pee standing up. But, hey, don't we deserve to feel pretty, too!?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just sayin'

When you look up the word "cute" in the dictionary, this is what you find!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Random Quote 117

Just by looking here, you can tell that this person had accumulated a lot of stuff. It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in a certain sense, you understand what I’m sayin’? Outside, he’s a real descent gentleman, but when you go behind closed doors, that’s when they say, “you never really a know a person, until you know him inside his crib.” You know what I’m saying? But I hope he made peace with his Maker, and he found himself going where he wanted to go.

~ Anonymous rehab worker at the apartment of Sci Fi writer F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre after his death in a self-lit fire there

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I'm Watching #251

"Boy" is the latest film by the Filipino director Auraeus Solito who previously brought us the movie "The Blossoming Of Maximo Oliveros." Unlike that film, this one is far more modest, like a short story compared to a novel. The action takes place over a couple of days (and within 75 minutes) and revolves around the lives of two young men (both 18); one lives with his mother in a middle class home (by Philippine standards) and attends some sort of creative writing workshop where he hopes to become a poet, and the other lives in a cubicle in a slum far away from his family in the country where he works as a macho dancer and prostitute.

The intersection of these two lives begins as a transaction and quickly evolves into a budding friendship; a symbiosis founded in loneliness and lust. When you think about it, as good a set of forces for attraction as any. It's a sweet little film with a nice mix of polish and rough edges.


from September 1, 1939

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

~ W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973

Friday, September 10, 2010

What I'm Watching #250

"La Mission" is the story of a father's journey toward acceptance of his gay son. Benjamin Bratt remains the consummate actor and eye-candy icon in the role of the father. It's a very moving film whose ultimate message of redemption comes through loud and clear, if even through a blur a tears.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

USPS Forever!

First off I love this collection of secular "holiday" stamps for the 2010 Christmas/Yule/Hanukah/Kwanza/Solstice season being issued by the United States postal service on October 10th. Second, they are only the second stamps christened as "Forever" stamps. Costing 44¢ now, they may be used to send a letter no matter how much the rates increase. Is this a USPS holiday gift?

Garden Friend

A beautiful specimen of Praying Mantis, Archimatnis latistyla, 0n the bishop's weed saying None, how fitting.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I Am Lost In A Rainbow

Now a rainbow is gone.......

Overcast by a shadow
as the worlds move on.......

Monday, September 06, 2010

What I'm Watching #249

Have long known of Temple Grandin, the Emmy's brought this movie to my attention. It's a powerful depiction of autism and an soul who overcomes. Every teacher should see this movie.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Lego Result: Gas Station

This is the result of my previous post "Lego Research: Gas Station" (31JUL2010). If you click back to it, you can see the clear influences of the Texaco 1945 station, as well as, the Signal and Magnolia stations. In the end I went vintage rather than modern.

The model is based on the gas station frame that was in the Town Square building set. Created with only partial facades, I fleshed out the full form and shape of the building increasing it's actual size in the process, and then I added the tower and canopy setting the entire structure down on plates tiled to fit in with the detailed architectural models that were inspired by the new Lego Factory series. In the end, I rather like it.

Today's Sermon #34

Vespertina Cognito

Overhead, pelicans glide in threes—
their shadows across the sand
dark thoughts crossing the mind.

Beyond the fringe of coast, shrimpers
hoist their nets, weighing the harvest
against the day's losses. Light waning,

concentration is a lone gull
circling what's thrown back. Debris
weights the trawl like stones.

All day, this dredging—beneath the tug
of waves—rhythm of what goes out,
comes back, comes back, comes back.

~ Natasha Trethewey

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Morning Photo

An exploding caldron of vinca and silvia backlit by the morning sun.

Man In Black

Have always thought that a kilt was hot. May I live to dress so fashionably! Ach, man!

What I'm Reading #32

For several years now, I've looked forward to reading the poems of Natasha Trethewey, and this past week I treated myself to a copy of her Pulitzer Prize winning collection, "Native Guard." She is a poet who embodies the essential nature of American poets from Whitman forward: a freedom to tell their story. For Trethewey that means an exceedingly accessible encounter with a life well examined.

In her own words:


You can get there from here, though
there's no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you've never been....

Yet, somewhere that for me feels like another room in a home that only grows more and more amazing the older I become.

In Our Dreams!

The Washington, D.C. region has had a couple of days of really poor air quality in the past week.
If fixing it were only this easy!
Instead it took a hurricane named Earl to whisk by and suck away all of the crap. Sorry, Nova Scotia.....looks like a beautiful 3-day weekend in store.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Art I'm Owning #10

I have a friend, Barbara, who's a wonderful artist (we're quilting buddies) and from whom I have long desired a work of art. After a another friend posted photographs from his trip to England I shared the picture of a waterway that he posted with her, just because it was so beautiful. Low and behold, on the sly she painted it for me! I hope you agree with me, it's stunning. Joy, joy, joy!