Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Ornament

For years my ex- and I made Christmas ornaments. Each year we'd choose a theme and then make a batch. Our annual advent dinner guests would be given one as mementos. We made little Christmas Trees, Stars, even Tropical Fish. It's been years now and I haven't even bothered with a Christmas Tree for the past few years. So much work.

But tonight I got the itch. And my theme was seahorses! I drew up a little pattern and then set to it, and here's my first creation. I kind of like it. Who knows, if I get a burst of energy over the next couple of weeks, I might even be sending some out to unsuspecting friends...

Today's Sermon #44


When I wake up earlier than you and you
are turned to face me, face
on the pillow and hair spread around,
I take a chance and stare at you,
amazed in love and afraid
that you might open your eyes and have
the daylights scared out of you.
But maybe with the daylights gone
you'd see how much my chest and head
implode for you, their voices trapped
inside like unborn children fearing
they will never see the light of day.
The opening in the wall now dimly glows
its rainy blue and gray. I tie my shoes
and go downstairs to put the coffee on.

~ Ron Padgett, 1942 -

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What I'm Listening to #96

On a cold and blustery night in the first 'burb in Maryland north of the nation's capital, I'm keeping warm with Carmen Miranda!

There's nothing like Carmen Miranda to "pick up" my spirits. In The Man With The Lollipop Song she sings: "We can all be, just as happy as he, just by singing when anything goes wrong...like the man with the lollipop song!" Now, that's what I call sound advice!

My favorite song of her's is South American Way featured in Woody Allen's "Radio Days"; but the entire song has a deliciously naughty lyric that goes, "I-Yi, I-Yi, have you ever danced in the tropics? in that hazy, lazy, kinda of crazy, Sous Amayreekan way. I-Yi, I-Yi, have you ever kiss [sic] in the moonlight? in the grand and glorious, gay notorious Sous Amayreekan way!". And who in their right mind can resist her pronunciation of the song's title line: Sous Amayreekan Way?

It's really the perfect music for trimming the tree. I mean, sure, you'll end up wearing more of the ornaments than the tree, but what the hell? It's Christmas!

Art I'm Owning #11

My latest acquisition from Chicago-based artist, Dean Grey. Entitled "One Is The Loneliest Number," far from melancholy, it absolutely glows with joy. Sometimes we mistake one-ness for the miracle of each thing's unique spirit. I originally purchased it with a gift in mind, but now I'm thinking of just amending my Will and hoping they outlive me!

It's Time

Awaking this morning to discover that last night's forecast low temp of 34˚ had been surpassed enough to form ice on my fountain told me that it was time to drain her for the season. I can't really remove the pump and to have it freeze is a sad thing, indeed. But an empty fountain isn't particularly happy, either! So....

Voila! It is now a holiday fountain of glittery-golden cheer... Or as much cheer as I plan to create this season!

Why am thinking of The South American Way by Carmen Miranda....

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Random Quote 121

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."

~ Albert Schweitzer, 1875 - 1965

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Art I'm Seeing #55

There is currently a wonderful exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery dedicated to an exploration of the present of gay and lesbian portraiture in the pantheon of American portraiture from about 1870 to the present. On one level, it’s a rather modest show, given the full range of portraits created through the many movements and mediums over the past 140 years. More importantly, however; it presents a concept heretofore uncelebrated by art historians on even this modest scale or at such a prestigious venue.

Taken in seven movements, the symphony is titled HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.

Movement ONE: Before Difference, 1870-1918

Here we explore the male centric world of homoerotic art that was clandestinely produced in the half century or so after the first coining of the term “homosexual” back in 1862. Pandora’s Box had been opened, had anything of radical nature been unleashed? By today’s standards it is all rather pedestrian, and yet, back when it was happening, it was either scandalous or deeply draped in code and innuendo.

The image to represent this portion of the exhibition is Salutat by Thomas Eakins. Other artists and images featured in this portion include, Walt Whitman, John Singer Sargent, and F. Holland Day.

Movement TWO: Modernism

Is a section that looks at the lives of gay men and women after World War I up to The Great Depression. It was a time when lavish was not eschewed as sinful, and so excess took on many meanings including those outside of the previously held social norms. Communities developed that were based on homosexuality. Paris, Berlin, and New York were among the major hives of this period. One long lasting outcome was the birth of expatriate-ism as a way of life.

The work to represent this portion of the exhibit is Self-Portrait by Romaine Brooks. Other artists and images featured in this portion include, Marsden Hartley, George Bellows, Charles Demuth, Bernice Abbott, Marcel DuChamp, and Janet Flanner.

Movement THREE: The 1930’s and After

Ironically, it was the return of expatriates like Marsden Hartley and Grant Wood that led to the next phase of gay sensibility in American Portraiture. Combined with the new parameters established by the burgeoning influence of modernism against the constraints of conservative regional mores, an often more complexly coded body of works was created.

The work to represent this portion of the exhibit is Lincoln Kirstein by Walker Evans. Other artists and images featured in this portion include: Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Grant Wood, and George Platt Lynes.

Movement FOUR: Consensus and Conflict

While the post World War II world of the United States was seen as an unprecedented time of peace and prosperity in nation rife with economic expansion, it was also a time of social and ideological strife—not unlike out present situation. Called into question was the essential patriotism of ever American and the easy response was conformity. In a period of scrutiny and “boogey men” under every tenant of free expression, homosexuals were branded under the phrase “Lavender Scare” with the result being a continuation in the struggle for equality versus mere acceptance.

The work to represent this portion of the exhibition is Frank O’Hara by Alice Neel. Other artists and images featured in this portion include: Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Beaufort Delaney, and James Baldwin.

Movement FIVE: Stonewall and After

A gay culture, nay a gay identity, had evolved in the century starting in 1870. What was missing was a gay icon, though many prospective candidates loomed in the world of the 1960’s. In the summer of 1969 the death of Judy Garland and the oppressive and pointless police raid on a gay bar in New York City would combine to ignite a never before seen aggressive action for equality in the Gay and Lesbian community. It was as if the sun rose over a world awash in tears and redefined it with a rainbow.

The work to represent this portion of the exhibition is Camouflage Self-Portrait (Red) by Andy Warhol. Other artists and images featured in this portion include: Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Hujar, Andrew Wyeth, and Susan Sontag.

Movement SIX: AIDS

Every Rainbow dies. And the next portion of the exhibition explores the effect of the AIDS epidemic on the artists who experienced it, as well as, some who fell victim to it.

The work to represent this portion of the exhibition is Unfinished Painting by Keith Haring. Other artists and images featured in this portion include: Robert Mapplethorpe, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and A. A. Bronson.

Movement SEVEN: New Beginnings

The final movement to this amazing symphony explores the world in which we presently life and the choices available to the portrait artists now. It is a world with amazing possibilities for self-reflection and introspection as well as revelation and messaging. One wonders if what we are not able to create isn’t the very thing that all of the other artists in this exhibition were seeking….

The work to represent this portion of the exhibition is Self-Portrait #28 by Jack Pierson. Other artists and images featured in this portion include: Cass Bird, Ellen DeGeneres, Glen Ligon, and Annie Libovitz.

It’s a wonderful so come to D.C. and experience it for yourselves!

Today's Sermon #43


From the remains
of his cremation,
the monks recovered

the seat of Thich Quang Duc's

a bloodless protest
to awaken the heart
of the oppressor

at the crossing of
Phanh Dinh Phung
& Le Van Duyet
doused in gasoline &
immolated by 4-meter
flames the orange-robed

arhat folded in
the stillness
of full lotus

his body withering
his crown blackening

his flesh charring
his corpse collapsing

his heart refusing to burn
his heart refusing to burn
his heart refusing to burn

~ SHIN YU PAI, 1975 -

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What I'm Watching #258

Have you ever read C. S. Lewis' Narnia series? I suppose at one time it was the cat's meow of children's serial fantasy fiction. Written as Christian apologetic allegory, they are, on the whole rather mundane books. So my initial expectation for them via this cinematic incarnation of Disney Studios wasn't very lofty.

However, the first installment utterly captured my imagination. This second has likewise proven itself worthy of a status rarely seen in literary adaptations to the "wide screen": It's better than anything Lewis wrote. The ability of the modern film industry to take words and transform them into images has scarcely ever been more brilliant.

So dear children, here's a bit of advice that I am happily transformed to offer: Screw the books, and long for the films.

That's my bottom line.

Our Latest American Heros #144 - 151

I used to post these randomly selected tributes to our soldiers who have died in the War on Terrorism, but since July have slackened off. I wish I could say that it was because the war is winding down, but the 508 casualties to date for 2010, have already surpassed the 2009 total of 480, and the 2008 total of 489. As November is tracking toward the deadliest month of the year, I offer these in place of the many. Eight soldiers to represent the 197 who have died in the past 4 months.

Army Sgt. Martin A. Lugo, 24, of Tucson, Ariz.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Air Field, Ga.; died Aug. 19 in Puli Alam, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire.

He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart. Martin was a man who had deep faith in God. It is his faith that led him to serve our nation. He loved his family, friends and his Ranger brothers. He was generous, funny, loving, adventurous, intelligent and passionate. He was a strong courageous leader. He embraced life and lived it to the fullest!

Army Sgt. Steven J. Deluzio, 25, of South Glastonbury, Conn.; assigned to 172nd Infantry Regiment, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Jericho, Vt.; died Aug. 22 in Paktya province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire.

Deluzio leaves behind his parents, a fiancée and his brother, staff Sgt. Scott Deluzio, also a member of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team as a member of Connecticut National Guard, who was returning home from Afghanistan, Dubie said.

“He’s a hero, and he’s the greatest son,” said his father, Mark DeLuzio, his voice choking with emotion. “Two sons I have — the greatest you could ever ask for.”

Army Pfc. William B. Dawson, 20, of Tunica, Miss.; assigned to 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Fort Richardson, Alaska; died Sept. 24 while traveling between Ghanzi and Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, when his military vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device.

“He never talked back to his mother or father. He was always respectful,” Joseph Dawson said of his older brother. “He was a perfect man.”

Air Force Senior Airman Daniel R. Sanchez, 23, of El Paso, Texas; assigned to 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.; died Sept. 16 while conducting combat operations in Oruzgan province, Afghanistan.

Friends say Daniel Sanchez was a green-eyed, walking ball of energy who had a knack for persuasion, a passion for skateboarding and playing sports, and a creative streak that showed in his music and sketches.

His mother urged mourners at his memorial to live as Sanchez had, according to the El Paso Times in Texas.

"It's not easy because he took it one day at a time," Yvette Sierra Duchene said. "Get up, go to work, put a smile on your face and enjoy every second of your life."

Army Pfc. Dylan T. Reid, 24, of Springfield, Mo.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 16 in Amarah, Iraq in a non-combat related incident.

Reid was a new and proud father, family and friends said.

“He couldn’t wait to be a dad,” said Dylan’s sister Erika Reid of Lamar. “It’s all he ever talked about.”

Mason Dosey of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., graduated with Dylan Reid from Desert Technology High School in 2005.

“He was a really good guy to talk to,” Dosey said, “He never judged anybody.”

“He pretty much just talked about how beautiful his daughter was,” Dosey said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Lance H. Vogeler, 29, of Frederick, Md.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.; died Oct.1 at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained in Helmand, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire.

Vogeler was on his 12th deployment after seven previous deployments to Afghanistan and four deployments to Iraq.

He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.

He is survived by his wife, Melissa, and two children.

Army Spc. Shane H. Ahmed, 31, of Chesterfield, Mich.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Nov. 14 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.

[Ahmed’s] death occurred during a four-day push called Operation Bulldog Bite to search out militants and weapons caches near the Pech river.

“Operation Bulldog Bite has degraded the insurgents’ ability to terrorize the people of the Pech valley,” Maj. Mary Constantino said.

Army Pfc. Kyle M. Holder, 18, of Conroe, Texas; assigned to the 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment (Reconnaissance and Surveillance), 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Nov. 17 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained in a non-combat incident.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Glee Rocks!

And so does Gwyneth Paltrow. The episode left me singing and looking for a rain storm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What I'm Watching #257

"Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" is brilliant in it's depiction of the novel. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What I'm Listening to #95

You can buy the Beatle's music on iTunes now!

~ Eight Days A Week
~ Yesterday
~ Can't Buy Me Love
~ Penny Lane
~ With A Little Help From My Friends
~ Here Comes The Sun
~ Blackbird
~ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
~ Eleanor Rigby

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art I'm Seeing #54

There is a wonderful little show, 6 modest galleries and a hallway, at the National Portrait Gallery here in Washington, D.C. It's called "Elvis at 21" and is made up entirely of photographs of the young Elvis taken by Alfred Wortheimer. They are magical. The photos create a rich tapestry of the boy who one day will be called "The King of Rock & Roll". They also give you a glimpse of the year, 1956, in a segregated southern United States. There are the inevitable images of Elvis performing and greeting hoards of adoring fans, but there are also moments of intimacy and playfulness.
Moments like this kiss bodacious and yet innocent. Perhaps these are the words to best describe the 21-year-old Elvis we see in these photographs. A real treat!

Today's Sermon #42


If time holds a miracle
we’ll dance together
as two old men:
sunstroke scalps
dropped buttocks, watery thighs.
But our hands
how our bony, veiny, trembling hands
will find their partners
palm to palm, fingers rung around each other
and hold on tight
Dance me
dance me across the floor.
I’ll stay with you
if time holds a miracle.

~ Bil Wright, 1957 -


Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Dishes!

I grew up in a home without any tradition in china. We had a cherished walnut case of silverware (and I have it today without any idea of what to do with it, gaudy, tarnished...), but no plates of distinction.

When it came time to buy plates and bowls for myself, I was fortunate enough to live in central Kentucky where there is an establishment of note: The Dish Barn! It is a Mecca for all who love dinnerware, ceramics, and even concrete statuary. It's a place that is humble, huge, and cheap! So to The Dish Barn I went and bought my first set of dishes. All very common, very solid; like the sort you find in a diner, or local restaurant where the plates are substantial and unadorned. They've been good to me, though a setting of 8 has dwindled through common attrition and banal accidents over the years.

So it happened that today I made an executive decision to buy new. And new that is nothing like the old: if you're gonna change something, make it mean something. My inspiration was a sales advert from Pier One, my resolution was a set of dish ware nothing like the one advertised. The one advertised in reality wasn't very inspiring. The one I chose reminds me of wonderful times spent in Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. The joy of life and the central role that food plays in fellowship and community. How happy to eat on such plates!


With the civilized world tonight as Aung San Suu Kyi is no longer confined to her home like some common criminal. May the freedom that she now has be a catalyst to a non-violent revolution in her oppressed nation of Burma. It remains a great curiosity to me how such a beautiful and gentle people can be so persecuted by their own...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Random Quote 120

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."

~ Carl Sagan, 1934-1996

What I'm Watching #256

With the transition back to standard time coming so late in th autumn as to have little effect on the light I experience in the morning and harsh results with the darkness falling upon me in the evening, it's time to hibernate. Time to draw in and snuggle down and leave the world of the exterior for the world of the interior.

To that end, I have pulled out my complete DVD collection of the series "My So Called Life" which first appeared on ABC back in 1994-1995. There are only 19 episodes, and I plan to watch them between now and the New Year.

Tonight it was the pilot: A tour de force of teenage angst, parental conflict, and youthful insights, confusion, desire, and exuberance. The strengths are in its vulnerabilities. And the insights overwhelm me.

One Gem.

ANGELA CHASE: "My mother's adopted. For a while, she was looking for her real parents. I guess that's what everyone's looking for."

Sunday, November 07, 2010

What I'm Watching #255

Having established that I am a Law & Order fan, the demise of the original series at the end of its 2010 season, was a sad moment. The idea that the series had reached the end of its creative options was not credible. We know that there are always going to be certain thematic shows in a season: the Russian/Italian Mafia, the abortion rights, the corrupt cop, the murdered child, the medical malpractice, the Colombian/Mexican/Japanese Drug cartel, the corrupt politician, the celebrity malfeasance. And on and on. It's NOT the plot, it's the players that matter.

And so it is with Dick Wolf's latest incarnation: Law & Order: Los Angeles

It is characters that stand out. The new detectives are really wonderful. They are interesting, mildly flawed, yet sincere. The Assistant District Attorneys are the same. The stories are based in geographic locations throughout the Los Angeles county basin. I find them intriguing, and hope that this spin-off is successful, too.

What I'm Watching #254

You know I'm a Law & Order fan, and so I jumped at the news that a version was available from the United Kingdom. A version created by Dick Wolf.

Like other spin-offs, I assumed it was an original series. But alas, it was just a rework of original Law & Order scripts tweaked to make sense to an English audience. There are a total of 13 episodes, and I was pissed at the rip-off by the end of the 4th. But then I could see the value in the way the episodes were tweaked from the originals.

Other positives:

1) The actors: I really like the two detectives. The relationship is between an older experienced copper and a young one. (And the young one is amazing eye candy!--James Bamber) The Crown Prosecutor is also very compellingly played by Ben Daniels. And all of the wonderful British actors that are new to me and some that are not.

2) The language: I love the words...Nicked, Brilliant, Result, Mate, Bloke, Governor, etc....

3) The similarities: The "ching ching" at major scene shifts. The dichotomy between the cops and the courts. The actual choices of original episodes to "nick."

It's a interesting concept and I understand that there are 4 seasons. So I'm on board.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

No Matter How The Elections

...turn out today, we still have the Giants of San Francisco as our Baseball World Champions! Take your joy from whence ever it may come!