Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What I'm Watching #289

Just watched the film version of Li Cunxin's autobiography, "Mao's Last Dancer." It's a lovely film, not a terribly good film.

But it's an amazing story, a story that overtakes the faults in the film to leave you amazed and enchanted by his life. It makes Cinderella look pedestrian.

Random Quote 141

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

~ Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948

My First (And Only) Birthday Party

I was in elementary school, maybe 3rd grade. And the really interesting thing is how I can still remember the names of the kids in this picture on my 51st Birthday!

In a rambling left to right order: Julie Somerville and Diane Wren (holding green balloon), Peter Keim, Karen Standhart, Kenny Robideau (shortest kid in the room, held up by others), Randy Taylor (peace sign blue shirt), Kent Miller (glasses), my little sister, Michael McCleery (yellow shirt/no face), Lori Kabosky (front right), the girl behind her's name is a blank, but I remember where she lived), and ME! Half a face behind her.

The venue was the basement of the home I grew up in, the home were both of my parents died. My father in 1986 and then my mother in 1992. The year of the photograph was c. 1969.

Today's Sermon

I Am What I Am

I am what I am,
I am my own special creation
So come take a look,
give me the hook or the ovation
It's my world that I want
to have a little pride in
My world and it's not a place
I have to hide in
Life's not worth a damn 'til you can say,
hey world
I am what I am

I am what I am,
I don't want praise I don't want pity
I bang my own drum,
some think it's noise I think it's pretty
And so what if I love each feather
and each spangle
Why not try to see things
from a different angle
Your life is a sham 'til you can shout
out loud
I am what I am

I am what I am
and what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces
There's one life
and there's no return and no deposit
One life
so it's time to open up your closet
Life's not worth a damn 'til you can say,
hey world
I am what I am

~ Jerry Herman, 1931 -

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Coming Week ~ January 29th to 4th!

Pre-Birthday Celebration!

At the time of my 50th birthday, my dear friend Perri took me to the Kennedy Center to see the Broadway touring company production of "South Pacific." It was marvelous!

Today, for my 51st birthday, we again rendezvoused at the Kennedy Center here in DC for the Broadway touring company production of "La Cage Aux Folles". Everyone deserves such a wonderful friend, n'est pas?

Unlike "South Pacific" I knew virtually nothing about the musical version of La Cage. Sometimes that's the best way to experience something, sans espérance.

The leads were in the hands of George Hamilton and Christopher Seiber. I was a little surprised to learn that George was still alive!--truth in blogging--and I'd never heard of Monsieur Sieber before. The result? George was très charming, managed to hit all of his cues and was actually quite funny at times. I also thought that at times during the second act he was 'tired' in moments when he wasn't doing anything specific in a scene. But Christopher Seiber was dynamite! He rose to and above the occasion without any hint of anything but tenderness toward the older Hamilton. In a word, He was Fabulous! and the chemistry between he and George was very sweet.

The production was held in the Eisenhower Theater which was just perfect. It's a more intimate setting and the production was from the onset very audience interactive. Our seats were in row five from the stage smack dab in the middle. Any closer and I would have strained my neck.

Can my 52nd birthday be better? Peut-être!?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Poster Children For The All American Couple!

A True Horror Story

Rudi van Dantzig -- RIP

The Dutch dancer and choreography, Rudi van Dantzig died on January 19th. I wonder how many of my friends would even know who he was. I know him from his semi-autobiographical film, "Voor een Verloren Soldaat" (For A Lost Soldier). It told the story of his experiences with a Canadian airman who was downed in the Netherlands during World War II and kept incognito by Dantzig's community. A classic war story of courage and unity in the face of unspeakable evil with one twist: The soldier and he (an adolescent boy) shared intimate relations. Filmed in 1992, "For A Lost Soldier" remains a controversial film and properly so. Yet, to experience it is to fully understand the complexity of the situation. His need to share his story, no matter what you might think of it, was an act of profound courage.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Remodeling Project: Basement Lego Heaven!

I have just begun recovering my basement floor. I did the other side of the basement back in 2003. It's held up beautifully, and it was simple to do. On the other side I also had to finish the walls. The walls on this side are vintage pine panelling.

I am also having recess lighting installed and the ceiling drywall replaced. The changes are long overdue. It's time I had a proper Lego Room!!

What I'm Watching #288

"Harvest," or in the original German "Stadt Land Fluss," is a interesting little independent film by Benjamin Cantu. It's the story of two young men who meet at an agricultural training farm and discover in each other the thing that they have been waiting for.

It's a simple story told with an acute eye and some amazing cinematography. At times I was imagining an album cover by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós; stark yet exposed.

It's a sweet film.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Random Quote 140

"My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other's presence, each other's wonder, each other's human plight."

~ Eudora Welty, 1909-2001

Happy New Years!

Presidential Race 2012 - #1

Tuesday Funny

Monday, January 23, 2012

What I'm Watching #287

The Help is an Oscar contender on many levels and as usual, I'm late to the dance.

I enjoyed this film for its' acting and myriad of cameos. In an oscar competition I wouldn't know who to give the award to. Everyone was more than adequate, but the whole story seems so "wishful thinking". Rewarding such racial fantasies seems very un-PC.

So great movie, but not a necessary premise. "Cookie's Fortune" was a better pic in this genre.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Funniest Glee Scene EVER!

VINNIE: Here is your shamwa. Guard it with your life.

FEMALE SWIMMER: Every "guppy" gets one and only one.

VINNIE: You also get a letterman's robe. So you need to think of a nickname to embroider on the back. It should be water themed. I'm "Vinnie the Gill."

SAM: Would "Trouty-Mouth" work?

COACH WASHINGTON: Sam Evans, I'm coach Roz Washington, and you are one strange looking kid. I've never seen lips like that on a white child, and one of your nipples is higher than the other. I bet you had to overcome a lot with those crooked nipples.

Well, I know a thing or two about over coming. When I was growing up, they said that black folks couldn't swim. But I had a DREAM!--that one day I would get to the promise land. So I swam my way, and got my forty acres and a pool.

VINNIE: Coach Roz was an olympian.

COACH WASHINGTON: That's right. I won this damn bronze olympic medal in Beijing, China in individual synchronized swimming. I bet you didn't even know there was any such thing as individual synchronized swimming?

Nod to me if I'm gettin' through to you. Nod to me.

(Sam nods, while concealing his freakishly uneven nipples behind tightly crossed arms)

COACH WASHINGTON: (stepping into Sam's personal space) I'm gonna say one thing to you, Sam Evans. I'm only gonna say it to you once. IF you PEE in MY pool, I will KEELLL you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Maryland's Newest Blue Ribbon School!

RACHEL CARSON ELEMENTARY, Gaithersburg, Maryland, Opened September 1990

(L-R the delegation attending the ceremony and the year we began working at Rachel Carson) Yours truly, Staff Development Teacher (1994); Tami Wisniewski-Dollar, Special Education Resource Teacher (1994); Brenda Bona-Long, Administrative Secretary (1990); Crissi Troilo, Fifth Grade Teacher & Union Representative (1999); Hana Marcus, Kindergarten Teacher & Leadership Team Member (2006), Larry Chep, Principal (2001).

Rachel Carson Elementary School was named a Blue Ribbon School by the Maryland State Department of Education Tuesday. The school will now compete to become the 35th National Blue Ribbon School in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).

“Congratulations to the Rachel Carson staff, students and community for this well-deserved honor,” said Board of Education President Shirley Brandman. “Rachel Carson is doing exceptional work to meet the educational needs of all its students and today’s award recognizes that dedicated effort.”

The Gaithersburg school was honored for its outstanding academic performance, as well as its leadership, professional development and instructional programs. MCPS Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr attended Tuesday’s announcement in Baltimore with Rachel Carson principal Lawrence Chep and other school and system staff.

The announcement of the state’s six 2012 Blue Ribbon Schools was made by Interim State Superintendent of Schools Bernard J. Sadusky.

“Rachel Carson is a shining example of excellence that comes from great leadership, professional collaboration and strong community support,” Dr. Starr said. “This is a great day for the Rachel Carson community and for Montgomery County Public Schools.”

As a state winner, Rachel Carson will now compete in the National Blue Ribbon Awards program. The National Blue Ribbon Schools will be announced in September by the U.S. Department of Education. MCPS has had 34 National Blue Ribbon Schools, the most recent being Highland Elementary School in 2009.

As the announcement was being made in Baltimore, Mr. Chep, Rachel Carson’s principal, shared the news of the award with his staff and students through a prerecorded video that was broadcast in every classroom.

“I am so proud of our students and staff and appreciate the unwavering support we receive from our parents and community members,” Mr. Chep said. “Our staff is completely dedicated to providing every student at Rachel Carson with an outstanding education, while making sure they enjoy learning and have fun.”

Random Quote 139

"Time you enjoy waisting, was not wasted."

~ John Lennon, 1940-1980

Need A Doctor?

I have a new surgeon!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Threadless Is Awesome

I love this T-Shirt Company. They sell high quality tee's with amazing artwork. One of my favorites is a green shirt that has a series of stylized Giraffes on it in shades of yellow and then you notice that the same images are also present reversed in pale shades of green--and the best part of all? A friend commented one day that the character Hailey on Modern Family wore "my" giraffe T-Shirt on the previous night's episode! What do you call it when you are thrilled and mortified all at the same time? Anyway, I love Threadless.

What I'm Reading #44

I am reading a really interesting book by John S. Mbiti "African Religions and Philosophy". I'm finding a wonderful resonance with some aspects as he describes them; even as I see how naive other practices are. A great read full of wonderful ideas.

Another Day....

...another deer!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What I'm Listening To #104

Cat Stevens entered my life in High School and his was one of only a dozen albums that I purchased before college. He never fails to take me to a thoughtful, but happy place.

What a gift.

Today's Sermon

Dream And Poetry

It’s all ordinary experience,
All ordinary images.
By chance they emerge in a dream,
Turning out infinite new patterns.

It’s all ordinary feelings,
All ordinary words.
By chance they encounter a poet,
Turning out infinite new verses.

Once intoxicated, one learns the strength of wine,
Once smitten, one learns the power of love:
You cannot write my poems
Just as I cannot dream your dreams.

~ Hu Shih, 1891-1962
translated from the Chinese by Kai-yu Hsu

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream!

Okay, I'm just spit-balling here, but I think that the ad team that put this one together had at least one proud, gay, ex-Catholic member. Just sayin' And Bravissimo to Antonio Federici for the courage to go here!

The old English script caption reads "We Believe in Salivation" and at the bottom under the image of the ice cream "Ice cream is our religion". It's just all delightful!

Star Wars Obsession-Manifestation #2

Star Wars Obsession-Manifestation #1

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Coming Week ~ January 15th to 21st!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Great Smokey Mountain Camping Trip 1987 (?)

Cleaning the basement I found this stack of photos I took while on a camping trip to the Great Smokey Mountains with my friend Russ. I was fiddling with the dates and now I think it might have been closer to 1987. It was in March and after driving for 6 hours we arrived well after dark to pitch our tent in a spring snow storm.

Russ was one of my friends whose generosity with me helped me to survive a transition in my life that has consumed too many others.

After establishing our camp in the midst of the cold, wet spring storm, we climbed into the tent. First task inside, we shed our wet apparel, before we entered a single sleeping bag. With skin tingly cold, we embraced one another and fell asleep in the warmth of our entwined bodies. I never discovered exactly what that platonic phileo-intimate night meant to him.

The next morning we awoke without consideration to such details. The following nights we slept in separate sleeping bags after days of strenuous hiking and shared experiences in this wonderful park.

What an amazing moment to rediscover.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

What I'm Listening To #103

Rosa Passos is a Brazilian singer of great renown and talent. Her smooth jazz based vocal style is so sweet that you hardly realize that you are also being seduced by it.

Today's Sermon

Love Is Not All

Love is not all; it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink,
And rise and sink, and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want, past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950

Tea Party America

Ever wonder which American elected Tea Party Republicans to Congress? Now you know.