Bruce Garrett Cartoon
The Cartoon Gallery

A Coming Out Story
A Coming Out Story

My Photo Galleries
New and Improved!

Past Web Logs
The Story So Far archives

My Amazon.Com Wish List

My Myspace Profile

Bruce Garrett's Profile
Bruce Garrett's Facebook profile


Blogs I Read!
Alicublog

Wayne Besen

Box Turtle Bulletin

Daily Kos

Mike Daisy's Blog

The Disney Blog

Disney Gossip

Brad DeLong

Dispatches From The Culture Wars

Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia

Envisioning The American Dream

Eschaton

Ex-Gay Watch

Hullabaloo

Joe. My. God

Made In Brazil

Peterson Toscano

Progress City USA

Slacktivist

Slacktiverse

SLOG

Fear the wrath of Sparky!

Truth Wins Out Blog

Wil Wheaton



Gone But Not Forgotten

The Rittenhouse Review

Steve Gilliard's News Blog

Steve Gilliard's Blogspot Site



Great Cartoon Sites!

Howard Cruse Central

Tripping Over You
Tripping Over You

XKCD

Scandinavia And The World

Dope Rider

The World Of Kirk Anderson

Ann Telnaes' Cartoon Site

Ted Rall

Bors Blog

John K

Penny Arcade

Friendly Hostility

Downstairs Apartment




Other News & Commentary

Amtrak In The Heartland

Corridor Capital

Railway Age

Maryland Weather Blog

Foot's Forecast

All Facts & Opinions

Baltimore Crime

Cursor

HinesSight

Page One Q
(GLBT News)


Michelangelo Signorile

The Smirking Chimp

Talking Points Memo

Truth Wins Out

The Raw Story

Slashdot




International News & Views

BBC

NIS News Bulletin (Dutch)

Mexico Daily

The Local (Sweden)




News & Views from Germany

Spiegel Online

The Local

Deutsche Welle

Young Germany




Fun Stuff

It's not news. It's FARK

Plan 59

Pleasant Family Shopping

Discount Stores of the 60s

Retrospace

Photos of the Forgotten

Boom-Pop!

Comics With Problems

HMK Mystery Streams




Mercedes Love!

Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz TV

Mercedes-Benz Owners Club of America

MBCA - Greater Washington Section

BenzInsider

Mercedes-Benz Blog

BenzWorld Forum

December 9th, 2018

Train Ride!

By this time next Sunday, if all goes well, I should be in my Viewliner roomette on The Cardinal, now past DC Union Station and the engine swap (electric to diesel) and somewhere in Virginia, heading to Chicago by a circuitous route through Charlottesville, then to Charleston West Virginia, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. A friend will be house sitting and cat sitting while I’m away. It’s a strange route but it gives me a roomette the moment I step on the train in Baltimore, all the way to Chicago. They say when the leaves turn in autumn it’s one of Amtrak’s most scenic routes.

I’ll have a five and a half hour layover in Chicago, which given how nice Chicago Union Station is it won’t be a hardship at all. And I’d rather have a buffer of many hours between trains than the less than an hour I have in LA to get off the Southwest Chief and onto the Pacific Surfliner. A late train could make me miss that connection. I’d still have options, but I really want to take that train just to watch the California coastline pass by. Also, that line runs right past the ancient ancestral Garrett homeland so it’s a nostalgia thing too.

Really looking forward to it. On the two night two day trip on the Southwest Chief I sprang for a full sized bedroom compartment with its own bathroom and shower. I did that at the last minute on the trip back last year and it’s the only way to go on a multi night journey. But last minute tickets are at the max price. This year I bought mine back in April and that put the cost over a roomette at half, or in other words I get it round trip for the one way price I paid last year.

Below is the layout of the Superliner sleeper cars. The difference between Viewliner and Superliner is the Superliners are double deck cars whereas the Viewliners are single level. Viewliners are used between Boston and Washington DC because the double height Superliner cars won’t fit through the tunnels in the northeast corridor. This is why the Cardinal, which runs from New York to Chicago, is a Viewliner. Nice thing about the older Viewliner sleepers is the roomettes all have their own private toilets and sinks. But that is awkward for couples traveling together so the next generation of Viewliner cars won’t have toilets anymore, but I’ve heard they still have their sinks. I’m hoping my car on the way to Chicago next week is one of the older ones. It’s a pain in the neck to have to get dressed in a tiny roomette to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. This is why I’m paying extra for the full size bedroom on the two night trip from Chicago to LA. That and my own shower. Plus the beds are a bit wider.

 

The train is still Very pricey if you get a sleeper, versus just riding coach. But overnight in coach is not fun and the sleeper cost is about what I’d be paying for a road trip anyway. It’s the motels mostly that drive up the cost. On the train I’m carrying my room with me and meals in the dining car are included in the sleeper price. Plus I’m not doing any of the work (and neither is my car). I can relax and watch the scenery go by. I still love the road trip, and want to do more of that when I get a chance, probably not until after JWST launch and commissioning. Maybe. But if I’m just wanting to get from point a to point b and it’s a vacation the train is now my preferred way to travel.

Until at least, the current Amtrak CEO makes travel by passenger train just as miserable as he made it for the passengers on the airlines he used to be CEO of.

I did this last year, more or less, and it was Wonderful. Last year I took a local from Baltimore to Washington DC Union Station, and from their picked up the Capitol Limited to Chicago, and there I got the Southwest Chief. The Chief runs the same route as the legendary Santa Fe Super Chief and it is the fastest route from Chicago to California. Hanging out in the lounge car with a drink and snacks and watching the southwest scenery go by was definitely the way to go. Like Biergarten in Epcot Germany you get communal seating in the Amtrak dining cars, and as a solitary traveler I’m basically filler so it’s never hard to seat me. And just like Biergarten now I have fellow travelers I can chat with and trade travel stories with. When you’ve been single most or all of your life, you tend to treasure those modes of travel and dining that give you opportunities to socialize, which a table for one does not.

It’s not for everyone, especially if you get motion sickness. But mom used to take me on the train when we went on vacations to Florida and it brings back memories and the motion of the train at night actually helps me sleep. Except I can’t because I am always looking out the window at the passing scenery.

 


Posted In: Life Travel
Tags:

by Bruce | Link | React!

Well…That Was A Very Nice Dream

…wish I could tell anyone about it. 

 


Posted In: Life
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
December 1st, 2018

Eulogy For The Dead

What I’m starting to see in various online forums following the news of George HW Bush’s death, is that disconnect I and my gay and lesbian neighbors lived in throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s…that world where we understood clearly what was happening to us, because it Was happening to us, and because we had a fairly well developed GLBT news media, but beyond which almost nobody else, except those who passionately hated us, knew or cared. AIDS was the gay disease and we were the love that dare not speak its name, the dirty secret family newspapers tactfully omitted from their pages, except when we rioted or danced half naked during Pride marches. Back then homosexuals didn’t love, they just had sex, and were best left unspoken of in polite company. In a lot of places that’s still true today. What’s changed is now we have a degree of social visibility we didn’t then.

It was a different time. Between FidoNet and the Internet. Between USENET and Facebook. Between the personal computer and the smartphone. When this man was president we no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore, but you might have had trouble seeing us unfiltered through the media, speaking to you in our own voices. Keep this in mind if the anger you might be seeing now among us surprises and maybe even shocks you.

So the eulogies are coming now, expressions of sympathy, and yes, compared to the soulless lump of conniving trash that occupies the white house now he was a good man. But that is an abysmally low bar to set for anyone, let alone a president of the United States. Let us not speak ill of the dead because one day we shall die too. Yes. And so many did during his administration, and what little was done about that barely involved more than pointing a finger at Teh Gay Lifestyle, when it wasn’t vigorously enforcing the fact in both law and custom, at the hospital and the gravesite, that our relationships didn’t exist.

There’s a blog post I wish I could dig up now, about someone (I think…I’m recalling this from memory) visiting a friend in a hospital and hearing singing coming from behind the curtains separating the beds. It turns out to be the spouse of a gay man who’d just died of AIDS related complications. The patient’s family refused to let him be with his beloved during his last minutes, so there the man was, singing their favorite song to an empty bed, and the nurses didn’t have the heart to ask him to leave. What tells me that this memory is probably from a time after the Bush I years, is that little detail about the nurses. In the time of Reagan and Bush they’d have most likely kept the man out of the hospital entirely and felt not a whit of remorse. What on earth does a homosexual want with this dying man? Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.

That was the world your gay and lesbian neighbors lived in during the Reagan years and into the first Bush presidency. He did exactly zero to lead the nation out of its fear and loathing of The Other and to a better place where our lives mattered too, and our grief was our neighbor’s, and also our hopes and dreams of love and peace and joy. I appreciate there was another side to this man, and that is more than I can say of Donald Trump. I appreciate that he had his base, which was also Reagan’s, and that perhaps he might have wished to do more, but found it politically difficult. I appreciate that he was a man of his time, and we should all be careful to judge, lest our own ignorances come back to haunt us in our old age. But if you find your LGBT neighbors keeping a cold silence while the rest of the nation mourns, if you see the icy stares as he is praised by the likes of Mike Pence and various other religious right figures, or one of us suddenly begins venting the bottled up decades of anger they’ve kept inside for so very long, and it surprises or even shocks you, remember…you weren’t there to see it with our eyes.

 


Posted In: Life Politics
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | React!
November 25th, 2018

Those Little Books That Have A Big Impact

Whilst wandering Google searching for a quote I found this…

“A popular cliche in philosophy says that science is pure analysis or reductionism, like taking the rainbow to pieces; and art is pure synthesis, putting the rainbow together. This is not so. All imagination begins by analyzing nature.”
-Jacob Bronowski, Science and Human Values

I still regard this book with something akin to awe. In it Bronowski showed me the likeness between science and art that helped me a lot back when I was a teenager and my science geek side and art geek side were at war with each other. Also, how the practice of science is at its core a profoundly moral endeavor.

It’s short…just three essays on the topic, “The Creative Mind”, “The Habit of Truth”, and “The Sense of Human Dignity”, which combine to make a very powerful whole in such a slender volume. You can read the whole thing in under an hour. But it will stick with you long after.


Posted In: Life
Tags:

by Bruce | Link | React!
November 24th, 2018

Even Gay Boys Get The Blues

A classmate embarked long ago on a career as a blues keyboardist and singer. These days he goes by the stage name Reverend Billy C. Wirtz and last night I got to catch his act live for the first time, along with another classmate I hadn’t seen in ages. First of all, the Reverend is Amazing. He does a great blues keyboard with a side of comedy and servings of blues history. I would definitely go see him again when he’s in town, and I think you should too.

The spot I saw him at was a small restaurant bar venue in Bowie Maryland, and it turned out that Reverend Billy was the between sets act for the main event which was an almost big band blues group named The Rick Jones Music Emporium. I would definitely go see them again too, but with a set of earplugs because their sound guy likes it LOUD. They played a set of blues songs, some of which were pretty risque to an older and obviously heterosexual crowd that just ate it all up. They were having a good time. Meanwhile I did what I always do in those situations, mentally swapping out a pronoun here and there to make it something I could relate to.

There was one song in particular that gave me some ideas for sexy drawing, along the lines of the one I did following California Rep Ted Hickman’s crack about skin tight short-shorts and go-go boots…

I was going to get down to it today, but first I wanted to read the lyrics again. What I discovered was it was a Randy Newman song. I came to know and appreciate Randy Newman through his wonderful movie scores for Avalon and Pleasantville, but I knew he also did pop songs. I would not have recognized this one as one of his, but then it was hard to hear the lyrics in that venue because the room was small and their sound guy just blasted us with it.

When I read the lyrics I saw a passage that spoke to me as a gay man and I didn’t expect that. So I re-read the lyrics again as if they were speaking directly to me. Well…not Me specifically since I have no boyfriend and never have. But to something I actually thought I might have someday when I was a younger man. And yes…actually reading the lyrics you could see it was a Randy Newman song. And it could just as easily have spoken to a heterosexual who’d found their other half despite what the rest of the would thought of it. Or anyone in a variety of sexual and romantic spectrum. Which I think is what really made it a Randy Newman song. He isn’t about shutting people out of life’s joys. People who got pissed at “Short People” weren’t paying attention.

I’m not going to name that song just yet…if you already know which one I’m talking about, fine, but for those of you that don’t I’d rather let you discover it just the way I did. I thought I was just going to do a one-off sexy riff on this song, mostly on its title. But now I have to do another one-off multi-panel cartoon on it. Probably can’t post it to my Facebook page when I’d done because as I said the song was kinda risque. But that’s why I still maintain my own website. And I’ve been wanting to do more of this sexy guy anyway. I’m thinking it along the lines of a page Robert Crumb did, that so I’m told he hates now because it’s been copied and misunderstood for decades…that Keep On Trucking one. Each panel of it is captioned with a single line from a song by Blind Boy Fuller. Something along those lines. Not the entire song, just maybe four panels with a line or two from the song and a drawing above it that says how the song made me feel about the joy of love and sex and life that lots of us of my generation might have had in a better world that never was. You can loose yourself in a song, in the world it spins for you, and believe for a moment that it was real.

This may take a few weeks. Let you know when it’s done and posted. I might even post some of the pencils while I work, like I did for that retort I made to Ted Hickman.

 


Posted In: Art Life
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | React!
November 23rd, 2018

A Minor Advantage To A Gender Nonconforming Life…

Once again I find myself having to go to the women’s side of a shoe store to buy a pair of shoes I wanted on the men’s side. Same style, same everything, just I have small feet for a guy and they don’t usually carry my size on the guy’s side. So I have to wander over to the lady’s side of the store and find the same damn shoe over there. But I can do this because I’m a gay guy and I have no masculinity to be afraid of loosing. Almost always I get the one I wanted over on the guy’s side in the first place. The only time I didn’t was because for some reason the shoe maker decided to put glitter on the women’s shoe and I am not a glitter kinda guy. I’m geek tribe gay, not fabulous peacock tribe.

That conversion charts exist for this calculation tells me that lots of other people, men and women, probably have this difficulty. I take a 7 1/2. That’s a 9 1/2 in a lady’s size. But near as I can tell, if it’s tennis or walking shoes you’re looking for, it’s the same damn shoe. This also works for hiking and snow boots. Ask me how I know. The only issue is width. When they deign to carry a men’s 7 1/2 the default width, which is ‘D’, is always right for me, but the default in women’s is narrower. So I have to ask for a 9 1/2 ‘D’. A women’s 9 1/2 ‘D’ fits me exactly the same as a men’s 7 1/2 ‘D’. 

At least the salesguy at the store I was at didn’t ask me to at least try an 8 this time.


Posted In: Life
Tags:

by Bruce | Link | React!
November 10th, 2018

Why The Blue Wave Still Evokes Sadness

We did it. Yes, not every election fell our way, but we did it. A Blue Wave happened. Were it not for republican gerrymandering and voter suppression it would have been a tidal wave. But it was enough. And the victories are still coming in as the early votes and mail in ballots are being counted.

But…do you still feel a bit…anxious? Disturbed? Maybe even a little terrified…still? Ed over at Crooks and Liars gets why

You’re also not sad because Beto lost, or Andrew Gillum lost, or any other single candidate who got people excited this year fell short. They’re gonna be fine. They will be back. You haven’t seen the last of any of them. Winning a Senate race in Texas was never more than a long shot. Gillum had a realistic chance, but once again: It’s Florida.

No, you’re sad for the same reason you were so sad Wednesday morning after the 2016 Election. You’re sad because the results confirm that half of the electorate – a group that includes family, neighbors, friends, random fellow citizens – looked at the last two years and declared this is pretty much what they want. You’re sad because any Republican getting more than 1 vote in this election, let alone a majority of votes, forces us to recognize that a lot of this country is A-OK with undisguised white supremacy. You’re sad because once again you have been slapped across the face with the reality that a lot of Americans are, at their core, a lost cause. Willfully ignorant. Unpersuadable. Terrible people. Assholes, even.

Yeah. That. The 2016 election shouldn’t even have been close, let alone a Trump victory. And where was that women’s vote that was supposed to help sweep democrats into power in those deeply red states? This, from The Guardian, might help you with that…

White women’s identity places them in a curious position at the intersection of two vectors of privilege and oppression: they are granted structural power by their race, but excluded from it by their sex. In a political system where racism and sexism are both so deeply ingrained, white women must choose to be loyal to either the more powerful aspect of their identity, their race, or to the less powerful, their sex.

There’s something that democrats, liberals and progressives reliably fail to get about this country: There’s a hell of a lot of racist, sexist, bigoted fascist scum here. And while some of it may simply be opportunistic and persuadable, a lot more of it is the simple rotten to the core being of the voters. They vote for racists because they are racists. Nationalists, in the sense de Gaulle spoke of…

Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism,
when hate for people other than your own comes first

And it takes all of us pushing back against them to keep the American Dream alive. All of us. They win, by suppressing our votes, by any and all means available to them. And a big part of that, is convincing us that we are helpless, that our votes don’t matter, that the democrats are just as bad so why bother.

And as Ed over at Crooks and Liars says, these people are not just one intelligent, reasoned, conversation away from changing their votes. The America of liberty and justice for all was never their country. Many of them grew to adulthood before the civil rights movement made it possible for their black neighbors to drink from their water fountains, before wives could have their own bank accounts, before the gays could live their lives outside the closet. That was the America they feel they were promised. When you hear them speak of wanting their country back, that is the country they mean. They hate us for taking that America away from them. They hate us for taking the Dream of liberty and justice for all to heart, as an obligation of citizenship, not a slogan to paper over white supremacy. They will always hate us. Always. And there are a Lot of them.

So the next time you hear some pundit yap, yap, yapping about bipartisanship and reaching out across the isle…

Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick…

And if that’s not enough, remember the damage they’ve done to this country. All the lives lost to their bar stool ignorant prejudices and hate. Jewish worshipers gunned down by a man driven mad by Fox News/Talk Radio hate propaganda. Unarmed black men and teenage boys gunned down in the streets, reporters tear gassed, arrested, jailed, for covering the protests. Remember the children separated from their parents at the border, many of whom will never see their mothers and fathers again. Remember all the broken hearts. Remember how the Trump voters laugh…their chants of Lock Her Up. Look at the faces in the crowds at Trump’s rallies. Happy faces. Exalted faces. Tomorrow belongs to them…

Remember when they speak of reaching out to the other side, as they surely will come January when the new congress is seated. There are times when reaching out isn’t respectful, it is depraved…

 

There’s a scene in the TV mini series The Winds of War, where Pug is with FDR in the president’s private rail car, discussing Pug’s recent trip to Germany. The president tells him he hopes there will be no war, but that the Germans are difficult to understand. And Pug replies “The only thing we need to understand about the Germans is how to beat them.”

That. About our homegrown fascists.

 

 


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | React!
November 9th, 2018

Compatibility Is Not About How Much You Like Each Other

Facebook sometimes torments me with that See Your Memories thing…

That was posted back in 2009, shortly after I’d started visiting Walt Disney World, which is significant and I almost grasped how significant even then. I should apologize to the boyfriend because it turned out not to be him after all. It was my first crush, posting under an alias, trying just then to get me to stay away from crush #3, and then some years later trying to get me to go somewhere else besides WDW on my vacations/road trips because (I’m making a wild guess here…) my presence in his life was causing him some closet angst. And nobody does angst better than Germans.

Hell…they invented the word. 

I figured out who the anonymous commenter here was after he used an odd turn of phrase that he’d also used in comments to my blogposts (there were several) and I pegged him on it and I reckon he got pissed. But by that time we were pretty much pissing each other off. When we weren’t getting all sweetness and light and touchy feely. When there is no middle ground it’s a sign that compatibility may not be within your grasp. Here’s why: 

I’m not an angry kinda guy, and neither is he, but pushing back we tended to amplify each other’s annoyance. Instead of making me take a step back his barbed edged teasing would bring out my inner brat…which would only piss him off more, which would only make my inner brat more bratty. At the end he said I was creeping him out and if I could I’d have laughed right in his face instead of via emails and blog posts and hey are you still using that AOL account and were you this closeted on GeoCities too? It was Boys In The Band level bitchiness. And if he could read this now he’d tell me I was still living in the past and I’d throw back at him that he was still running away from his.

It’s not how two people get along with each other that matters, it’s how they don’t get along. Is the chemistry to retreat to separate corners and cool off or does it hoist the Jolly Roger and get out the knives. Different combinations behave differently in the fire.

Life imitates soap operas sometimes. But I have those comments he posted under an alias in my blog to look at whenever I get to thinking I should have handled it differently. No… I handled it exactly right. If the only way you can speak your mind is behind a mask you are not right for me.

And there is the eternal problem for gay guys of our generation. We couldn’t talk it out with our friends, let alone our families…especially your Bavarian families…

Of course, I couldn’t exactly come out with it to my Baptist folks either…

 

But what all that meant was gay kids back in 1971 couldn’t date. You might be able to manage a secret angst ridden tryst or two, but all that tells you is how compatible your libidos are and a teenager is all hormones and hot blood in an instant anyway. Gay kids need to be able to date just like anyone else, because it’s dating where you find out who is right for you…and who isn’t. Two people can both be good, decent, trustworthy people (the inner damage ex-gay therapy later inflicts on a person notwithstanding…), thoroughly twitterpated, thoroughly hot for each other, and still not be right for each other. And where you really see it isn’t so much in how fondly they gaze into each other’s eyes or how combustible the sex is, but in how combustible their tempers are.  

Wish I’d seen that back in ‘71 what I see now. If gay kids could have dated back then I might have saved myself a lot of…well…angst…


Posted In: Gently Tapping My Pulpit Life
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | React!
October 26th, 2018

Atheism, Religion And Morality

This article from The New Yorker came across my Facebook news stream the other day.

I’m a subscriber and I need to make some time to sit down and read it. But just seeing this post stirred some thoughts. Specifically, it reminded me of this quote of Penn Jillette’s…

“The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me
from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want.
And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want,
and the amount I want is zero.
 The fact that these people think that if they
didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing,
raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine.”

I think there’s probably a little more to it than they don’t act on the every urge of their id because they know God wouldn’t approve. The fact is sometimes God does approve…or they think so anyway…

“You must be eliminated. God doesn’t want you anymore.”
Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, the head of Rwanda’s Seventh-day Adventist Church,
who stood trial for luring Tutsi parishioners to his church and then turning them
over to Hutu militias that slaughtered 2,000 to 6,000 in a single day.

He got ten years for his crime, and upon release from prison had the good decency to die the following month. I don’t think so, I’m an atheist, but it is a bit pleasant to wonder if perhaps God almighty had a word or two with him at the gates of eternity, about who and what He wants. Or even better still, The Ghost of Christmas Present…

“Man, if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant
until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is.
Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die?
It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and
less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child.”

There’s someone who knows how to preach. The scenes with The Ghost of Christmas Present have always been for me the highlight of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Because it’s there Scrooge is taken out of his own life and presented with the lives of others, and the way his life has touched theirs. It was not for the better. And now that he has seen it, he has to know it. There is where he begins to walk slowly, tentatively, toward his salvation. Because there was still some small something within him that we all need, lest we fall into the Pit.

Here’s the thing about morality and all of us atheist or not: Whether or not a God Almighty exists, we know our neighbors exist. We know the poor exist. We know the sick and the infirm exit. We know the refugee exists. We know those fleeing from persecution exist. We can see them. We can talk to them. We can listen to their stories. Belief in God stopped making sense to me some decades ago. But I know my neighbors exist. In my entire life I have never once seen faith turn someone away from the Abyss, or melt a heart of solid ice. But I have seen the tiniest little spec of sympathy awaken the better person within, finally, long after I was certain they were done for. I have seen it turn lives around.

It isn’t faith you need, it’s sympathy. Even if it’s just the size of a mustard seed, it will save your soul.


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Atheism, Religion And Morality
August 21st, 2018

Responsibility

This came across my Facebook news stream just now…

Let me say first, straight up, I am not setting the religion of my childhood over anyone else’s. For one thing, I’m an atheist now, and for another, even the religion of my childhood would have frowned on that. My bitter Baptist grandmother would say we’re all good for nothing sinners who had better spend every minute of the day repenting and asking for forgiveness…

I was baptized at a pretty young age and I remember mom getting static about it from the other church members. It wasn’t until I got older and learned that one thing setting Baptists apart was we didn’t do that because children aren’t old enough to make those kinds of decisions independently. A kid wants to please parents, family, and teachers. A kid will recite the words without really knowing what they mean, because they’re told to, and they want to please. Yeah we had to go to Sunday School and yeah we took part in communion. But Baptists probably seem weird about all that stuff too. Baptists don’t believe in sacraments. Communion is a remembrance, Baptism a rite of passage, an embrace of the faith. But it has to be wholehearted. Roger Williams, who founded the first Baptist church on American soil once declared that “forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.”

As I said, I’m an atheist now, not because I have any particular grudge against religion, Capital ‘R”, but simply because belief just doesn’t make any sense to me now. Your mileage may vary and that’s fine with me. And given the wave of “Me Too” spreading through evangelical pews these days I’m not even going to try to make Baptists sound any intrinsically better on sexual predators. But I still deeply appreciate how it was a thing, or used to be a thing, how strongly Baptists or at least northern Baptists felt that you can’t compel belief, and you can’t push responsibility onto a child who by nature cannot understand what that responsibility is.

How hard is that for an adult to understand? It just boggles my mind. Perhaps it’s true that predators tend to gravitate to authoritarian religions. Maybe this is something the pews in those faiths need to be especially watchful for. Or perhaps more likely that what Mary Renault once said, that politics and sex are merely reflections of the person within, and that if you’re mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics, when what really matters is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that, is the bigger truth here. The Baptist boy still inside of me can easily understand shrugging off and walking away from a creep like this man, because that boy was taught in the pews that the only authority that matters is the Creator and this man isn’t that. And also, that how others of other faiths can sit still for all this, or not, is up to whatever spirit moves within them.


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Responsibility
July 29th, 2018

Loosing Weight Is Less About Food And Mostly About Staying Active

When I initially get my weight down to under 150, and my body shape back to my liking, the effort shifts to not blowing it and blasting back into the 150s again. In the summer that’s usually not a problem because I can walk to work and back, and otherwise stay active. But this summer with all the rain that’s been difficult. The trick is I have to stay active, and not just break completely free of the bland food diet.

This weekend was just gorgeous. Not too hot, bright and sun shiny all day. So I was able to get outside, take my morning and evening walks, and do a bunch of work in between. That allows me to go back to eating food I actually like once a day, and drinking those Godfather margaritas in the evenings again (alcohol calories, like sugar calories, are the worst; they generate fat in an indirect way allowing the body to store the energy in the food you eat instead of using it). Last night I went to Bar Louie’s and had their lovely chicken quesadilla and a godfather margarita. This morning when I got up and weighed myself I’d lost another pound and was down to just over 148. It was the work I’d done on the house.

My ideal set point is between 146 and 148. Any lower then 146 and it becomes the hellish struggle other people talk about when dieting. That’s probably not good for my health. But in my idea set point I have the hourglass and I can get into blue jeans and shirts that look nice on me, hit the water parks and feel good in square cut trunks. I will Not wear those baggy knee length Fred Mertz shorts the kids wear at the beach nowadays.

This morning was so lovely I wanted to take a short road trip somewhere. But the rain has kept me from doing yard maintenance and front and back were overgrown and badly needing attention, and the weather for next week looks like more rain, rain, rain, rain, rain. So today instead of going anywhere I did basically two days of yard work in one, mostly by not taking my usual breaks between stages. Now I’m Beat, but I still have enough energy to take a walk to The Avenue and have a nice end of weekend dinner and drinks and not worry about gaining all the weight I just lost back again.

I’d go out to Bar Louie’s again but the light rail here is broken between Woodberry and Falls Road…something all this rain we’ve been having apparently did to it…and it looks like it’ll be down for a while.


Posted In: Life
Tags:

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Loosing Weight Is Less About Food And Mostly About Staying Active

The Loneliness Of Older Gay Men

This came across my Facebook news stream yesterday…

Study shows gay men over the age of 45 are more likely to be single

There’s an obvious take on this…that the gay club scene, much like the general pop culture scene, is mostly youth oriented and there are few opportunities for older gay men to have fun and socialize.

But there is a less obvious, until you look at the history of the gay civil rights struggle, reason for this. Probably the biggest reason. Us older gay men lived out most of our young adult lives in a climate of nearly pure unadulterated hate. When our peers could begin taking their own tentative steps into the dating and mating cycle, our hopes and dreams of love were routinely dashed on other people’s fear and loathing. We couldn’t date. Our love lives had to be paced out in the shadows. While the other kids got their proms, we got a few seedy bars and hookup spots. While the other kids got their songs and stories of love and romance and happily ever afters, we got every filthy lie people could think up about homosexuality.

By the time gay liberation made enough difference that a gay kid could ask his first crush to the prom, and dream a realistic dream of going steady, and even marriage, we were middle aged, weighed down and heart weary from all the wounds dug into us when we were young, many of us still too afraid to peek out of the closet for enough time to find a boyfriend. Even those of us who managed to avoid being trapped in a cycle of self loathing and bitterness, still had to find partners from the same peer group that had suffered so much damage.

I could tell you my stories, in fact I have. Most years around Valentine’s Day I repost them here on my blog. Stories of guys I met when I was younger, who made my heart skip a beat.  And they either broke it off with me because they were afraid their families would hate them, or that god would hate them, or hostile heterosexuals would see what was developing between us and sabotaged it because our hopes and dreams had to be their stepping stones to heaven.

So I’m single. I’ve never so much as had a steady boyfriend in my entire life. And I reckon now I’m done with it. I accept it. I will die a solitary gay male. I think I could have been good for somebody, but I will never know. I don’t blame youth culture. I blame the cloud of fear and loathing we all had to live under back then, and which many of my generational peers are still living under.

Below are few links to some of those Valentine’s Day stories I’ve posted here about being a young gay man in the 1970s and 80s looking for love. Read them and don’t wonder why so many older gay males are single.

Do You Believe In Love?

No Rescue For The Rescuers…

The Boy I Met In Church…

 


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Loneliness Of Older Gay Men
July 24th, 2018

Magic

I was having a conversation with a fellow guest at Walt Disney World a few years ago. He was a middle aged man there with his wife and kids and we were sitting at the Tune-In Lounge bar. I must have mentioned something about ticket prices, and how I keep renewing my annual pass simply because the cost of Disney without one is even more hugely expensive. He told me a joke that keeps coming to mind.

“They always talk about magic here,” he said. “You want to know how the magic works? It’s like this. You walk into the park with a hundred dollars in your pocket and maybe you walk back out with five. The magic is they make you want to do it again the next day.”

So it is. I just renewed my annual pass, yet again, because pricy as it is, because of the way they structure ticket prices it’s still way less than what only two three day weekends would cost if you bought the tickets alone. I know this because I keep doing the math. Renewing is less than starting fresh. Plus the discount I get for being a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member takes another 200 off. It’s still expensive, but I get another year to wander all around Walt Disney World and not stress over where and when and for how long.

I have a birthday week at Boardwalk coming in September I’m really looking forward to. I’ve enough DVC points I can go and stay in the nice top tier hotels whose rooms have built in kitchens and your own balcony twice a year. I can do Boardwalk in September which gives me walking access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and then I can do Saratoga Springs in March which gives me walking access to Disney Springs. I keep forgetting what a mouseketeer I was way back when, and then I get these little flyers and magazines from both my annual pass and DVC memberships and it all comes back for a little while as I flip through the pages and I start thinking about my next visit.

After I got off the phone with DVC with a confirmation number I felt a bit like a kid again without a care in the world. I’d just spent several hundred bucks. The magic is they’ll make me want to do it again next year.


Posted In: Life Travel
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Magic
July 18th, 2018

Getting Back Into My Summer Clothes…Finally Wanting To Look Nice Again…
 
I resumed dieting again a couple weeks ago. It’s not the painful thing for me that it is for others. By sticking to a basically bland food intake and no sugary treats I can get back down to a weight and shape I feel good about, and which my body seems to naturally like anyway. Just today managed to get the hourglass is back. It feels nice. Now I need to stick to the plan for at least another couple weeks, but seeing this reappear is a big ego boost and encouragement because I can start feeling good about my appearance again. The age lines in my face notwithstanding. It’s important to me, solitary though I am. Maybe more so precisely because that. 
 
So…from the neck down anyway (people who look like that…) it’s…pretty good again. Gay otter body though it is. I need to stick to the plan for a while longer so it takes for the rest of the summer and autumn. You get to a point where your body is accustomed to a summer intake and then I’m always apologizing to the servers when I go out to eat for all the food I left on the plate, unless I remember to ask for small portions ahead of time. I can maintain a 148-150 weight and the hourglass pretty easily through the summer and fall. It’s when the holidays come around and everyone is waving cupcakes and cookies at me that it all comes unraveled. The past decade or so I’ve been in a cycle of gaining waistline during the winter holidays and shedding it in the spring. This year I just didn’t feel like it…for some reason. But somehow…somehow…I managed to roust myself out of it and decide liking how I look was worthwhile again, even if only to myself. 
 
I’m really not a very big guy and I never needed a lot of calories. What happened was I started making a good income and suddenly I could escape the bland diet of my youth. And then the waistline grew, the hourglass vanished, and appallingly my chin started disappearing along with it. I’ve written before about how I was at 160 heading for 170 and 33 inch bluejeans heading for 34s. I just put it down to middle age…mom was a thin little thing herself until she hit her 40s and I figured that was my fate too. But then I reconnected with my high school crush and he asked for a photo of me, and I started looking at what I was eating and adding up the calories and it shocked me. 
 
Call it empty vanity if you like, but being single and at the end of any possibility of dating at my age, it matters that I can still look in a mirror and like what I see. 


Posted In: Life
Tags: , , ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Getting Back Into My Summer Clothes…Finally Wanting To Look Nice Again…
July 17th, 2018

Desert Hiking Safety Kit

There’s a joke I heard once on the Johnny Carson show late one night. It was one of those 1960s lounge lizard sort of jokes and Ed McMahon was telling it. So it went: one way to never get lost in the desert is to pack along stuff you’d need to make a good martini. If you find suddenly that you’ve lost your way, just unpack the martini fixing and start making yourself a good martini. Sure enough someone will come along, tap you on the shoulder and tell you no, no, that’s not the way to make a martini.

As I said, a lounge lizard joke. But nine year old Baptist kid me still thought it was funny, and I still do. You can alter the joke in many ways and still get the same punchline. Take your laptop computer with you out into the desert. If you get lost take it out and begin typing out a vigorous defense or brutal criticism of The Last Jedi. Sure enough someone will come along, tap you on the shoulder, and begin arguing with you about it.

Which brings me to the perfect margarita. For me that’s what I first heard was called a Godfather Margarita. I first tasted one years ago at a place in DC called Alero. It was Wonderful! From then on it was my go-to margarita. But all I knew about it from the menu was it had Amaretto in it.

For years off and on I’ve been trying to figure out how to make one at home, and failing miserably each time. Several weeks ago, at Bar Louie’s, on a hunch I asked the barmaid if she could make me a margarita but swap out Cointreau for Amaretto. She did…and that was it! Perfect! Good thing I was taking the light rail that day.

So I went back to work, fiddling with classic margarita recipes, and failing miserably. Nothing I did at home seemed to work. When I tried just swapping out the Cointreau for Amaretto they all tasted horrible.

Long story short, what I finally figured out is most bars don’t make you a classic margarita, which according to the Received Knowledge is just tequila, lime juice and either simple syrup or agave. They’re using sweet and sour mix instead because that’s what they have mixed up for making drinks. So I tried using sweet and sour sauce and it clicked. Finally. My perfect margarita.

Here it is:

2 parts tequila. I use Tres Generaciones blanco, but any good top shelf tequila will do. I am convinced now that the reason tequila has such a bad reputation in this country is Cuervo. No Steely Dan, the Cuervo Gold does not make this night a wonderful thing. Treat your fling a little better and they might come back for more.

1 part Amaretto. Note: Disaronno is NOT Amaretto. They seem to be really good and obtaining shelf space at the liquor store, but they don’t make Amaretto. Amaretto is made with almond infusion. They can’t even call it Amaretto on the label anymore, probably because some Italian rule says unless it’s made with almonds it can’t be called that. I use Lazzaroni, and drink that by itself on the rocks from time to time and it’s Very nice. Try a real Amaretto once and you’ll see the difference immediately. Way more flavorful.

1 1/2 parts sweet and sour sauce.

Ice.

Combine in shaker, shake well. Serve over ice.

Is this a strong drink? Yes it is. So…no driving afterward, please. Have one at home with a nice cheese plate.

And if enough people object that this is not the way to make a good margarita, I will definitely take the fixings with me when I go hiking in the desert.


Posted In: Life
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Desert Hiking Safety Kit
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


    What I'm Currently Reading...




    What I'm Currently Watching...




    What I'm Currently Listening To...




    Comic Book I've Read Recently...



    web
stats

    This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

    This blog is powered by WordPress and is hosted at MomoWeb. Some custom design was done by Winters Web Works. Some embedded content was created with the help of Adobe Photoshop for MacOS and/or The Gimp. I proof with Firefox on either Windows, Linux or MacOS depending on which machine I happen to be running at the time.