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June 9th, 2021

The Wrecking Ball That Breaks Your Heart One Day, Lifts Your Spirits The Next

Time passes…the universe expands…I’ve lived long enough to see so many of my kidhood haunts coming down. Rockville it seems, is a city that just wants to eat itself all the time. Shortly after mom and I moved there, they tore down the old city center and built a doomed shopping mall they eventually tore down just a decade or so later, and then tore down what they’d built on top of that. A classmate posted that you can’t go home again, and I replied that’s especially true if home was Rockville, because you’ll get lost they’ve re-routed so many of the roads we used to drive down. I’m still stunned that Randolph Road now goes under Rockville Pike. My beloved high school got torn down recently and I’m still miserable over it, but I got a keepsake brick so there’s that. So much of my past is vanishing under the wrecking ball. But it’s not all bad. In fact, sometimes it’s wonderful.

Just heard on another page that this place is going under the wrecking ball next week. I couldn’t be more delighted. It was originally called Fritzbe’s. I have a particularly bad memory…a really Bad Memory…that place played a supporting role in. I have wanted to see it razed for decades.

What Happened:

It was a lovely summer night in 1981. I was in my middle twenties and on the downside of my second disastrous crush. We were close, or so I thought. I sent him love letters from the road while on a road trip with friends in the southwest. On my return it seemed we became even closer. But he was straight. What I learned from it is that straight guys can fall in love with other guys too, but for them it’s a purely platonic thing. For the gay guy who gets that deeply involved with a straight guy it’s a heart wrenching mess.

That night in 1981 he suggested we go to this new place that opened. It would have been at one time an easy walk, nearly a straight line from the apartment I grew up in to Congressional Plaza or the Radio Shack across the street from it. But the new Metro subway system was under construction and my path across the railroad tracks was now forever blocked, so my friend picked me up at the apartment and we went to Fritzbe’s. At Fritzbe’s I learned another lesson.

I was having a night out at a new place with the guy I was still crushing on madly. So I put on my best blue jeans and favorite shirt, got my long hair all washed and blow dried, put on my new Nike’s. But let’s face it, I was a scrawny ugly faced twenty-something no matter how well I dressed, and the summer humidity probably didn’t do wonders for my hair either. We got to the door to Fritzbe’s and there were two doormen standing there. One of them said my friend could go inside, but I couldn’t.

I was stunned. My friend told me he wanted to go in and just look around for a bit. So he did and I waited while the doormen made sure I stayed outside. When he returned it was clear to me that he wanted to spend the evening with the other cool people inside but first he had to figure out a way to dump me without making it look like he was dumping me. My memory of the rest of that night is a bit fuzzy, but I clearly recall saying something on the order of what’s wrong with me that I can’t come in I look okay, and under his breath he said “actually no you don’t”. So that was that. I politely excused myself from the evening and walked back home.

I got put in my place…which, of course I was. What was I thinking when I went out that night? Me? Really? The weird kid from the other side of the tracks. Clothes he bought at Sears or JC Penney…hair’s a mess…crooked teeth…no social skills at all…queer… Oh I know… Falling in love feels so wonderful, until the moment you hit the ground. It was impossible anyway, he was straight after all, but had the positions been reversed I’d have walked away from that place rather than go inside without my friend. I’ve actually done that a time or two. But that night I saw I was disposable. And that’s never just a circumstantial thing. It is what you are. Always.

People who look like that, want people who look like that…

Fritzbe’s eventually folded…I can’t imagine why. Well yes I can. Turn the uncool away as a matter of policy, to cultivate the shallow beautiful people, and eventually they’ll flit away to the Next Big Thing and what’s left are all the customers you might have had if you hadn’t pissed them off. So the name on the door changed but I never set foot in there. I was told not to go in and I don’t need telling twice. And now it’s going under the wrecking ball.

In its place, so I’m told, will be a massive new development of some sort that will occupy the entire block. Until that eventually gets torn down. Rockville just does that to itself. But eventually so does everywhere. The only thing that endures is the reputation you made for yourself. Whoever owned that chain and set its policies and created its theming probably made a lot of beautiful people very happy for a little while, and broke a lot of hearts for much, much longer. And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

I probably shouldn’t blame the poor building. Like Hill House in Shirley Jackson’s novel, some places cannot help but take the shape of their builders souls. And the people who occasionally occupy them. But I am definitely taking one of my cameras down to the old neighborhood and snapping a few shots of the destruction. I’m toying with the idea of taking a few c notes with me and asking the wrecking crew if I can pay them to let me take a few whacks at it myself. But probably I’ll just go watch for a while, snap a few photos, and applaud at inappropriate moments.

I could hope they sow the ground with salt afterward. But concrete and asphalt will do.

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
June 3rd, 2021

Love Your Measly Little Blog…

I know I love mine. This headline was laughing at me this morning…

Trump ends blog after 29 days, infuriated by measly readership

Upset that it was being mocked for low traffic, Trump ordered his team Tuesday to put the blog out of its misery

This cheers me up considerably, and motivates me to take better care of my own measly little readership blog. I haven’t posted to it in almost two months now because I’ve been so plague weary scatterbrained. I do have another episode of A Coming Out Story in the works that I should be able to get up here in a couple weeks. And a photo gig I will hopefully be doing this Saturday for Wayne Besen. I did a political cartoon for him that I’ll post here as soon as he’s got it up on his site.

And a bunch of stuff to talk about that I’ll put up here shortly. Thank you for your patience.

Former president Donald Trump’s blog, celebrated by advisers as a “beacon of freedom” that would keep him relevant in an online world he once dominated, is dead. It was 29 days old.

This blog has been running since 1998 in various forms and on various hosts. I started it when blogs were more of an artistic thing rather than a political and/or commercial thing. It’s a life blog. That is what blogs originally were. People talking about their lives online. If you have no life, there is not much point in blogging. Donald.

 


Posted In: Blog Administration Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
April 6th, 2021

They Spread Disease Don’t You Know

As a gay man who came of age in the late 1960s, endured every filthy lie the righteous could throw at us, which only got even worse when AIDS began killing so many of us, this is from Digby is…just amazing…to read about…

Conspiracy theories in the pews

…there have always been conspiracy theorists among us and one of the most likely groups to fall down a rabbit hole are conservative evangelicals many of whom are ready to believe that liberals are satan worshippers and that abortions are being used as a form of genocide.

Considering their fealty to Donald Trump, it isn’t surprising that they would be among the most vaccine resistant…

She quotes from this New York Times article

White Evangelical Resistance Is Obstacle in Vaccination Effort

Millions of white evangelical adults in the U.S. do not intend to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Tenets of faith and mistrust of science play a role; so does politics.

As I said…for a gay man of a certain age this Times article is absolutely fascinating reading. Let me just quote this one passage…

The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary. But across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity.

The opposition is rooted in a mix of religious faith and a longstanding wariness of mainstream science, and it is fueled by broader cultural distrust of institutions and gravitation to online conspiracy theories. The sheer size of the community poses a major problem for the country’s ability to recover from a pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of half a million Americans. And evangelical ideas and instincts have a way of spreading, even internationally.

There are about 41 million white evangelical adults in the U.S. About 45 percent said in late February that they would not get vaccinated against Covid-19, making them among the least likely demographic groups to do so, according to the Pew Research Center.

“If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,” said Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois.

As vaccines become more widely available, and as worrisome virus variants develop, the problem takes on new urgency…

Wariness of mainstream science?? I think the word you’re looking for is hostility. They’ve been waging an all out war on science ever since Darwin at least. And on any form of government and public education that does not bow to their peculiar institution. It makes them perpetually antagonistic toward the rest of the country that isn’t part of the tribe. And indifferent, completely and utterly indifferent, to the harm the practice of their beliefs may cause others. The teenage girl sexually assaulted by an older male. The gay kid thrown into an ex-gay camp. The gay couple beaten by young thugs hopped up on the righteousness coming from the pulpit. Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. They’re the right hand of god almighty, and gods don’t feel shame.

But never mind that. It is an old, very old, anti-gay trope of the religious right propaganda machine, that homosexuals spread disease…often deliberately.When HIV was killing us they not only turned their backs on us, and insisted so should everyone else, they accused us of spreading it willfully, to the rest of the country. We were a threat to the family, to civilization itself. What had come down on us was merely the fruits of our own abominable sin. We had it coming, the bible said so. Their propaganda war on The Homosexual Menace took a darker, and bloodier turn.

I remember those days. I remember how we took care of each other, and made the country take notice, and doing that discovered a strength and dignity within ourselves that we had been told since childhood was not ours to have. I remember.

Now look at who is spreading disease. Deliberately.


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on They Spread Disease Don’t You Know
April 4th, 2021

Getting Back To Work On It

 

Finally getting to work on the next ACOS episode. This one is also just a two strip installment, so it shouldn’t take long.

This is where the story shifts gears pretty significantly. Remember the subtitle of this story is, The first person you come out to is yourself.


Posted In: Art cartoon Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Getting Back To Work On It
April 3rd, 2021

Disturbed

Surfing my blog archives from a particular time in my life, I came across this one that describes it abstractly, and yet perfectly. 

October 5, 2006… I can see there how it really hit me in a very deep place that hadn’t really been disturbed in a long, long time. There are negative connotations to the word “disturbed” that some of us, usually of the artistic persuasion, recognize aren’t necessarily the case. To be disturbed is usually not a good thing, but sometimes it is an illuminating thing. Revelations happen. Not always nice ones. But it grows you inside. Once you see that, then you find yourself pursuing it from time to time. And people think you’re nuts. And you don’t really care anymore. That day, I was disturbed. And it was amazing.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Disturbed

The Heart Of A Coming Out Story…Not A Person, But A Time And Place

In October 2006 I put episode 6 of A Coming Out Story on my website. That would have been a month after I finally reconnected with the object of my affections in the story. I was probably working on it when that happened. It was over a year before I finished the next one. Before then I had no idea what had happened to him. I started doing the cartoon story in large part to try and process what had happened to me back in high school, and maybe make a statement about how it was to be a gay teenager in 1971. Fact is, I was beginning to believe I would never find him again, never know what happened to him.

He was a class behind mine. His family moved out of the country shortly after I graduated. It was very sudden, or so it seemed to me. I had no idea he was going. I was devastated. For decades I searched for him. I never stopped trying to find a boyfriend elsewhere, but that first love is something that strikes deep into you. I had to know what had become of him. Especially after the AIDS plague hit us. After that first viewing of the Names Project quilt on the Washington Mall, I had nightmares of walking among the panels and suddenly finding one with his name on it. Sometimes, oddly, I still have this nightmare.

So I kept looking. But after the years passed I figured that when I found him again he’d be happily settled down with a much more good looking guy…possibly some beautiful Brazilian guy and they’d be living in something like married bliss and I’d just have to accept it. He was a catch. Jaw droppingly beautiful, decent, good hearted, hard working, always a busy bee. I knew he would not have wanted for suiters. It’s what scared me about him. In the age of AIDS, he could easily  have been taken away by the virus. So many were. 

So I kept looking. When computers and modems and BBSs came about, I would occasionally toss little messages in a bottle out into the cyber void to see if he might reply…

Hello…are you out there…do you remember…

I heard nothing back. Later I learned he was on GeoCities but apparently not out in the larger net. So we never crossed paths that way.

I eventually found him again in a phone directory. He was here in this country, working at Disney World. Anxious, sweating profusely, I gave him a call. Thankfully what I got his answering machine instead of him or I might have just choked and hung up. And I heard his voice again for the first time in decades. It’s amazing how after all that time I knew instantly it was him, even before my brain processed the words on his answering machine, by the sound of his voice. It took me back decades. Suddenly I was that awkward geeky terrified teenage boy again.

I hung up on the answering machine. Then I wrote a script, practiced it several times, and called back. Thankfully I got the answering machine again and I spoke my lines and hung up. And waited. And waited. It was agonizing. On the walk home from work I noticed a call I’d missed on the iPhone and there was voice mail and OhMyGodIt’sHim!!!!  I waited until I got home to call back. He was glad to hear from me. We chatted for over an hour, catching up on this and that. It was the first of many calls in that first couple of years. I talked about my love for him back in high school and he remembered our times in the library and on the walk to his motorcycle. And he coaxed me into coming down to Disney World, a thing I’d had no interest in at all until then. I wanted to much to see him, but I wasn’t into theme parks of any sort. Come on man, it’s your heritage…baseball apple pie and Mickey Mouse…what’s wrong with you.  So I went the following spring. And we laid eyes on each other for the first time in decades, and it was like those high school days all over again. But that…that…turned out to be a two-edged sword.

For some of us, of a certain generation, it will always be a time before Stonewall. I know that a little better now.

It was October of 2006 that we reconnected. I published the episode of ACOS I’d been working on in November. It took nearly a year for me to wrest another one out of me. And it is still hard. The story doesn’t have a happy ending. But I’m still working on it. Because it needs to be told how that magical time of first love and awakening desire was stolen from so many of us, turned into a nightmare, so righteous people could make their stepping stones to heaven out of our hearts. Out of our lives.

I will never forget that first love. I tried afterward to find another. But what I was looking for, what I am always looking for, I would have probably found pretty quickly in a better world, at a church social, or a teen coffee house, or some social event organized by caring adults, where gay teens could meet and you didn’t have to worry about whether the one you were crushing on was straight and just not for you. Somewhere in some better world where I could have met a nice guy. But it was 1971, and all those nice guys were terrified. They didn’t want their families to hate them. They didn’t want God to hate them. They didn’t want to hate themselves more. And so it went.

I will never forget the awe and wonder and joy of that first love. And I will never forgive the ones who stole it from me…and from so many of us. You butchers. We were just kids. There was nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. And you put knives into our hearts so you could be righteous. You monsters. I am an atheist now. It’s nothing to do with religious hatred against me and my kind. It was simply that belief just stopped making sense to me. But if there is a God Almighty, I would rather stand there at Judgement Day a proud homosexual, with every time I ever took another man into my arms laid out before me, than have to account for what you people did to so many innocent and pure hearts. You Monsters!


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Heart Of A Coming Out Story…Not A Person, But A Time And Place

Back Again Are We?

I was reviewing my server logs, as I always do, while I was at Disney. My little website gets next to no traffic, mostly because it probably isn’t all that interesting, but also because I do next to nothing to promote it. If I get a lot of traffic I’ll have to pay extra for hosting it and that could mean making a deal with the advertising devil.

But also, I’ve a weird self consciousness about drawing attention to my artwork, which is what I initially set up the website to be a showcase for. The blog started out as a lot of the early blogs did, as itself a kind of public art. Believe it or not, blogs began as open online diaries and people thought when it all started that the bloggers were crazy to put their lives out there like that. But it appealed to me as a way of getting things off my chest, and since the website didn’t get hardly any traffic I figured it was okay. I used to joke that it beats yelling at the TV.

But it gives me a bunch of joy to see what little traffic there is coming in, and especially when someone randomly hits an episode of A Coming Out Story and then binge views the entire thing. It’s a very rewarding feeling. On the other side of that coin are the readers who start binging it, then suddenly stop…and I go look at the episode they stopped at and wonder…why did you hate that one?? And of course then all the insecurities about my abilities come rushing back out. I have to keep reminding myself that a lot of readers are probably looking for the sex scenes and they’re going to be getting impatient and frustrated when it becomes staringly obvious that it’s not That Sort Of Comic. Oh…you finally figured it out There did you…

It’s the repeat viewers, the regulars, that keep me going though. Mostly those are folks who check in from time to time to see if I’ve put up a new episode (I am SO SORRY ABOUT THIS…). They hit the main page where I used to have progress bars (which I later gave up on) and maybe re-read the last one or two (I repeat: I am SO SORRY ABOUT THIS…).

Then there are the regulars who come back and revisit what seem to be favorite episodes, or at least episodes that are particularly meaningful to them. I really appreciate these, because it means I actually struck a chord. Maybe even the sort of chord that gets a comic strip put up on a refrigerator. Except my formatting of this story doesn’t easily lend itself to that. (I take full advantage of the fact I can make each episode as long or as short as it needs to be since it’s all on the web.) Maybe someday I’ll gather them into comic book form (hahahaha…sure thing Bruce…)

I can’t tell specifically who it is visiting because IPs are so seldom static these days. But I see familiar patterns, ISPs and locals and I think I can make some educated guesses.

And it’s the semi-regular readers like the one that visited from a familiar Florida ISP while I was down there last week of March, and hit several of the more recent episodes, and then a couple out of sequence from further back…especially that one “Conversation With God” episode, like those particular ones meant something to them, that really lift my spirits and make me want to actually finish the damn thing one of these days.

Yes, life did feel so much more wonderful than it did before. Or since. Maybe I’ll go into that a little more in the next blog post…


Posted In: cartoon Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Back Again Are We?
March 31st, 2021

The Trick Is Not To Mind That You’re Dead

 

From The Washington Post: Mr. Liddy’s combination of can-do ruthlessness, loyalty to Nixon and ends-justify-the-means philosophy made him a natural fit in a White House determined to get even with its political enemies.

At the same time, he was viewed by his superiors as “a little nuts,” in Nixon’s phrase. “I mean, he just isn’t well screwed on, is he?”

On Twitter, David Rothkopf tweets: The juxtaposition of the Matt Gaetz story with the death of G. Gordon Liddy story reminds us yet again that the lunatic, criminal loyalists around Donald Trump are of a much lower caliber than were the lunatic, criminal loyalists around Richard Nixon. A coworker replied to my comment on this, that it was strange to think of Nixon’s reputation being redeemed. But the fact is that no matter how far you’ve fallen, even hitting rock bottom, give it time and eventually someone else will dig the abyss a bit deeper.

You see? There’s hope for everyone!


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Trick Is Not To Mind That You’re Dead
March 26th, 2021

Is Anything After All…Real…?

I’m insomnia scrolling on Facebook early this morning, and a set of photographs pops into view. It’s my old high school being torn down completely…the one A Coming Out Story takes place in…


Photos by Christopher Cherry

I thought they were going to do an extensive remodeling, not a complete teardown and rebuild. That’s what the plans looked like to me anyway.

It really feels like looking at the end of life, but it’s worse than I imagined it would be, because it’s not enough that I die someday…it’s that everything I ever loved has to die too.  Not just Woodward…nearly nothing of the old neighborhood exists anymore. Just try to follow some of the old roads and paths now.

Maybe I will sell the house after all and go live in a trailer somewhere in the desert. Did I have that life? Was any of it real? Am I real?

This stabs worse than I could have imagined. I’d rather have seen an empty lot than those pictures. That senior year I had there was one of the best years of my life, difficult though it was in some ways. I had a really difficult time in just about every other grade school I attended, but I felt embraced by the people and the culture at Woodward in a way I’ve never felt anywhere else since. It set me on a path forward in life I wouldn’t have bothered walking otherwise, because there wouldn’t have been anything inside of me to make me believe I could do anything with my life.

So it goes…

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Is Anything After All…Real…?
March 25th, 2021

Everything Old Is New Again…(continued…)

Checking my server logs this morning, I find that someone in Colorado dug up via Google my blog post from ages ago about “The Mormon Gulag”, and promptly went down a Google rabbit hole I probably shouldn’t have here in the Happiest Place On Earth. No I won’t link to it here…no sense in getting everyone else miserable and nail splitting angry again. But you can probably find it in that handy search box to the right.

Besides…that’s all in the To Be Forgotten And Let Bygones Be Bygones past. Seriously. Just try to find out what’s in the lawsuit settlement agreements. They’re probably buried so deep even the Angel Moroni couldn’t find them again. And anyway they’ve changed their wicked ways. Or at least their name. What was once the Utah Boys Ranch is now the West Ridge Academy, with an attached charter school that is in No Way a part of the old and infamous residential treatment center (we give your child the treatment), and now they can take in hundreds of kids instead of just a few dozen. And besides look at our new name. We’ve Changed. Yeah, yeah…and so did Comcast when they became xFinity. And so did Clear Channel when they became iHeartRadio. Because nothing fixes the reputation of a poisonous toxic culture, let alone a pack of child abusers, like a name change. Certainly not accountability.

At least Clear Channel was only poisoning our parent’s hearts and minds, not terrorizing and beating the crap out of teenagers while bragging they could do it without leaving a mark. I stopped surfing when I started wondering what the youngest age is in Utah that a kid can go buy an AR-15.


Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Everything Old Is New Again…(continued…)
March 23rd, 2021

Makes It Easier For Me To Keep Coming Back, This

Made my usual pilgrimage to Biergarten at Epcot. Still the same COVID dining changes I saw since last September. Instead of it being buffet eating, they bring the buffet to your table, and since there’s a plague going on and I’m a party of one I’m the only one at the table. I fear a lot of food gets wasted this way. I’d wondered how they were going to manage having guests at the buffet counters and thought they’d just mark out six foot increments like they do elsewhere in the parks where there are lines. But no…they’ve dispensed with the buffet altogether.

At first the German staff that used to work here are nowhere to be seen. Except the band. The only thing that’s changed with them, apart from a couple members, is when the sing the German drinking song, Ein Prosit, they no longer call out at the end Oans, zwoa, drei, gsuffa!  Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, and the crowd is supposed to reply, hoi, hoi, hoi! and it’s never loud enough so the band leader has us do it again but LOUDER before we get our Prost! I’m guessing that’s so we aren’t all shouting COVID into the dinning area at the top of our lungs, assuming anyone who has it got past the multiple temperature screenings before they got inside. So the band is still there, but I figured it was like last time when all the regular workers were all gone, and worried that they were never coming back. Apart from the Usual Suspect, I’d actually made some friends there and I was worried about them.

But as it turned out some of the usual German staff are here, hard to recognise when we’re all wearing masks, and I talked to a few and got the scoop. Disney is slowly calling them back as things either improve or they get better at figuring out how to do things in the new reality. But they also tell me a certain someone has officially retired. He came back when Disney was calling the workers back, but then he retired. If he did that when I suspect he did, it was because he’d just made it to his full social security retirement age.

The saddest story was another older guy I used to see all the time here apparently came down with Alzheimer’s and can no longer work. I feel badly for him for a couple reasons. He always wore an expression like someone stuck in a job he really didn’t like but just kept at it because he was too old to go anywhere else. I never saw him smile. But also, the way a certain someone used him as a setting off point for a story that, as the story progressed, turned into a confession, the sadness of which I’ll take to my grave. I don’t think this old guy deserved to be used that way.

The staff I spoke with included some new faces, but they knew my classmate and offered to tell him I was there. I told them why that wasn’t a good idea, and then on the spur of the moment I did something that always irritated him… I showed them pictures I took of him back in high school. That was always a big hit with the ladies and tonight was no exception. Oh he was So Adorable!!!!! Squeeee!!!!

Oh yeah…made my jaw drop too…once upon a time. I tell myself that in a better world I wouldn’t have had a chance with him anyway. I was the little dweeb from the other side of the tracks whose clothes never quite fit and whose hair was always a mess. But then maybe in a better world that wouldn’t have been true either. It’s hard to reckon with how that torrent of hate and loathing you grew up under, long before you even began to suspect anything about yourself, cut into the life you could have had, were all of that not there.

I bet he never sets foot in Walt Disney World ever again. It’s how it looks to me like he ducked out the moment he reached full Social Security (I’ll avoid abbreviating it SS in this blog post out of respect). I don’t think he liked his job and I don’t think he really liked his employer much. His co-workers yes, but not the company. Mom did exactly that same thing. She worked for the company that had the advertising contract for the Yellow Pages, back when Ma Bell was a monopoly, for thirty-five years, and the instant she reached her full retirement age she was OUT OF THERE.

I on the other hand, love my job, and I’m still amazed to be working where I do. It’s just so wonderful. If it wasn’t for the heart attack, and then the second heart “event”, plus my legs now starting to give out on me and I’m starting to feel like my body is getting close to its End Of Maintenance date, I wouldn’t even be considering retiring. But I’d like to have at least a few years to spend doing other things, mostly time to spend on my artwork, and being able to have more time in California if possible.

If things ever get back to some semblance of Vacation Normal around here, I can visit Biergarten more often and not have to worry about whether You Know Who had enough peace and quiet that day or not. It’s not everywhere a single person can sit at a table and chat with the other diners there. Plus it’s real easy to get into, even when its crowded, since if you’re party of one you can be filler.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Makes It Easier For Me To Keep Coming Back, This

Sometimes It’s The Little Things Nobody Notices That Make You Fall In Love With A Place

I’m old and decrepit I reckon, but I’ve done the rides, I’ve done the parks and still love them, I’ve done the cute little miniature golf spots, and it’s all okay. But what really enchants me about my Disney World vacations are the walking paths around the DVC resorts. It’s like a walker’s paradise here. I do a slow morning walk every day, coffee mug in hand, when the weather allows, which is usually. You get up early enough and you have the pathways pretty much to yourself.

When I’m staying at Boardwalk my morning routine used to be a walk down the canal path to Hollywood Studios and straight to The Writer’s Stop for my morning coffee and danish. But when Starbucks opened there they closed The Writer’s Stop because I guess Starbucks couldn’t endure even the competition of a little coffee snack and bookshop. So now it’s I make my own coffee in the room and just do the stroll along that lovely canal.


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The Following Program Is Brought To You In Living Color…

Being a little more colorful this trip…


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Budgeting For The End Of Maintenance Phase

Took a brief walk to Disney Springs (formerly Pleasure Island…) to look for a good glass or mug to drink out of, instead of the cheap foam (but plastic wrapped for your safety!) cups we’ve been supplied here in the luxury villas (NOT hotels) since and I suppose because of COVID. Because…I dunno…I think I should be putting Night Train Express into a disposable cup over ice not Grand Marnier. Plus, I had dinner reservations at the Edison then, and I wanted to scope out how they were letting guests in who just walk over from Saratoga Springs. The Edison has a very large interior multi-level eatery with good air circulation. And it’s themed as a 1930s Los Angeles speakeasy that was hidden in an old abandoned Edison electric power plant. I love it.

So they’re funneling us all into a temperature check, but access by foot is still very easy from this hotel (Villa!) and they gave me a room in a really good location for walking to Disney Springs…possibly because I told them on a previous trip that that’s what I wanted for the express purpose of walking over.

I went over looking for a nice Disney souvenir glass or mug. I came back with three. Because I found three I liked and the wallet only started complaining when I kept looking after three. Whenever I go vacationing the first thing is I set a ceiling on expenditures not related to travel (hotels…fuel…food…that stuff is budgeted for before I set out). So I have here what you might call a pot of discretionary money. It’s for shiny things I see that I want to take home with me and all I have to think about is how good is that money pot just then. I keep my register chits and look them over nightly and re-adjust my pot of money to buy shiny things. When I retire that kind of casual spending will have to stop completely because I’m taking a fifty percent income cut.

I’ve already built a pretty extensive budget spreadsheet and run a few scenarios and it all looks good, if not fabulous. I was raised by a single divorced mother and we got along very well on her limited income. It won’t be like I know the drill so much as it got pretty well ingrained into me at a young age how to live within your means. (That Baptist waste not want not thing also helps. At least it helps me be diligent about recycling.) But from that point on I’ll have to think about Everything I spend. I’ve always done that with the big ticket items, but I do a lot of casual spending…within a monthly pot of money I put aside just for that. From retirement onward that pot of money is gone, or at the very least it’s a hell of a lot smaller, and it’ll be I have to think about Everything.

I can do it. Plus, an amazingly Dumb article on CNBC about how folks making 400k a year are only just scraping by gives me some encouragement. (Hey…these families only drive Toyotas, not “Lambos”, have some sympathy. Yes…the writer actually used “Lambo” for Lamborghini…that tells us something about where he’s coming from…) Even allowing for the fact that the writer uses the most expensive locals in the nation as a cost of living baseline, there’s still an ocean of expenditures this man thinks of as necessities that the rest of us could only dream about. As one commenter put it, the people the writer is talking about are measuring their wealth by looking at the people above them who Do drive “Lambos” and thinking themselves middle class because they don’t…the rest of us are ants.

So much so obvious. Fred Clark observed years ago how it is that big city newspapers might have a Business section, but no newspaper has a Labor section. And it’s gotten worse since. Commercial news media is populated, at least at the management level if not totally at the worker bee level, by very wealthy people who live in that world exclusively, believe themselves to be middle class, and just don’t get how the vast numbers of their fellow Americans live. Trips to the country diner to talk with people wearing MAGA hats notwithstanding.

So it was gratifying to read the ants responding to that CNBC article, point by point some of them. Some were struggling on 20k a year or less. Others saying they were comfortable living on 40-50k a year, just not somewhere homes were selling for 5 or 6 million bucks.

I’ll be doing a bit better than that. I’ve a lot going for me when I retire…chief among them the house I bought for less than ninety grand. Yeah it’s worth lots more than that now, but the point is that my monthly mortgage payments will still be well within the week’s take home pay amount I stood firm on back when I started my home search years ago. Plus, the neighborhood is such that I could live a carless life if I had to without any difficulty. Everything I need on a day to day basis is within walking distance of the house. Which is probably a big reason why its value has soared over the years.

I’m treating this Disney vacation as possibly the last one I’ll take for a long, long time…because there won’t be any such thing as a discretionary vacation at Disney World from then on, let alone the discretionary money to pay for it. On the other had I’ll be retired so the entire concept of “vacation” is moot.


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March 22nd, 2021

That Joke About The Man Whose Truck Left Him…

Speaking of that joke about how, with the advent of self driving cars, the day is coming when someone writes a country western song about a man whose truck left him…  It seems the gay mayor of Fort Lauderdale Florida has stepped into it…

Antigay Florida Activist: Same-Sex Marriage Like Marrying a Volkswagen

After Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s gay mayor honored an anti-LGBTQ+ church on its 60th anniversary, an activist who has a relationship with the church has likened same-sex marriage to marrying a Volkswagen.

At Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, Mayor Dean Trantalis presented a proclamation recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and the 50th anniversary of its affiliated private school, Westminster Academy. Both were founded by D. James Kennedy, an anti-LGBTQ+ minister, and are located in Fort Lauderdale.

Kennedy died in 2007, but his D. James Kennedy Ministries continues spreading homophobia and transphobia…

You have to wonder what Trantalis was thinking. Well no…we know what he was thinking because he said it when it hit the gay news networks earlier…

It’s time to build a future based on love and not hate. And it’s time for those who still harbor resentment to let go of it. I know I have. And I know our community is better off for it.

And just who would that community be Dean? Anyone who never walked among the Names Project quilt, terrified of spotting one someone made for their high school crush? Someone who doesn’t bother to read the newspaper stories about gay bashings and murders by young heterosexual males all hopped up on the religious hate fed to them by churches like Coral Ridge, because they know it will never happen to respectible and discreet homosexuals such as themselves?

But it gets better. When the wholly predictable torrent of criticism from the rest of the gay community came rushing in, naturally Coral Ridge just couldn’t keep its mouth shut…

Wright claimed that gay activists are pawns in a socialist plot to destroy marriage and the family, and make everyone dependent on government. “I hate to break it to them, but many of our gay and lesbian friends, they’ve just been used by the left to destroy the historic definition of marriage and changed the criteria to only be that of love,” he said. “If two people love each other, or some guy and his Volkswagen, he loves his Volkswagen, he ought to be able to marry his Volkswagen.”

I know how difficult it must have been for you to break it to us Frank. On a scale of 1 to 10 how painful was it? Less than zero?

I swear there are days when you start thinking that everything old is new again. But no…it’s still old. This is such an old trope among the kook pews. If a man can marry another man, why not let him marry a car…or a TV set…or a toaster…or his dog…? You say you love each other? Well I love my dog but it doesn’t mean I can marry it. I’ve been hearing this one ever since my days on USENET. And never mind how it speaks to their total dehumanization of the homosexual Other. Pull it apart and you find that it’s instructive as to how they themselves perceive marriage. If love isn’t critical to marriage, as it turns out neither is consent.

Automobiles can’t consent. They’re not living things, as often as we owners anthropomorphize them all the same. Yes, I’ve even given my car a name. I’ve given names to all my cars. But…hear me out now…they’re cars. Machines. Machines can’t consent. Nor can any other inanimate object or animal or child. And it seems in that subset of American religiosity, neither do wives. What wives do is gracefully submit to their husbands.

Real men take wives…they don’t do something as sissified as ask for their hand in marriage. That is why love cannot be the central fact of marriage. The central fact of marriage is the authority of the man over the woman. Nothing else matters. Certainly not love.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Joke About The Man Whose Truck Left Him…
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