Your love fills me with joy…for which I must repent.
Puritan Valentine’s Day Cards! Oh yes…
A friend on Facebook says, “For that special someone you’re willing to tolerate until one of you is dead.”
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February 8th, 2016
Your love fills me with joy…for which I must repent.
Puritan Valentine’s Day Cards! Oh yes…
A friend on Facebook says, “For that special someone you’re willing to tolerate until one of you is dead.”
January 22nd, 2016
To Whom It May Concern…
I guess the thing that really surprised me is I always thought you’d be the braver one. I never considered myself brave, just stubborn.
January 12th, 2016
A Young Gay Guy In The Year 1977
While researching the events of 1977 and Anita Bryant’s campaign, I came across this via a Google image search that turned up this Jack Davis cartoon in the July 1978 issue of Mad magazine…
It might seem surprising now how low class Mad Magazine’s attitude toward gays was…
Mad #145, Sept ‘71, from “Greeting Cards For The
…but this blog post puts it into context: it wasn’t just the times, but also the 50s mindset of the staff. The liberal free spirit I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony mindset of the 60s-70s didn’t usually extend to Teh Gay. Check out the limp wrist in that Jack Davis cartoon. This is the world I came out into.
That summer of 1977 I had to listen to the BBC on my shortwave radio to hear the news from Florida because none of the TV and domestic radio news bothered to say anything about something that was obviously not of interest to decent normal people. Close to midnight sitting by the shortwave I learned that three out of four voters in Dade county had voted to kill an ordinance that simply said gay people ought not to lose their jobs or their housing simply because a boss or a landlord found out they’re gay. The next day as I walked through the city I found myself counting down three people for four I passed…trying to grasp the scope of how much people like me were still loathed.
Then later that December 1977…I watched the Christmas TV special that’s been on my mind the past couple days…
January 11th, 2016
The Social Media Winds Blow…Coldly On Some Of Us…
The Outcasts are grieving today. Not all of us however, for the same reason. But because the tears at least are genuine, I will hold my peace. For now.
It’s true. I have to admit it, finally. Embrace my inner militant homosexual for the militant that he is. Go take a look in the mirror and admit that the completely unremarkable, vaguely distracted longhaired geek staring back at me is actually pretty hard core. Yes…yes I am. I reckon. I’ve said this before: A militant homosexual is a homosexual who thinks there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual, and a militant homosexual activist is a homosexual acting like there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual. It’s not about how many marches you’ve walked in, or protests you’ve attended, or how many petitions you’ve beaten the streets for signatures. It’s the mindset. That is the alpha and the omega of it. Because if you speak up for yourself or act up for yourself like you really mean it, whether it’s on the picket line or the checkout line, whether its facing down the Phelps clan or the boss or that kindly neighbor next door who wonders why teh gays want to destroy marriage for the rest of us, they will call you a militant homosexual. And so you are.
I’ve wandered amidst the quilt panels, remembering faces, hearing voices lost forever now to my ears. I’ve listened to the stories of survivors of ex-gay therapy, read their writings on the wall, surprised the bricks underneath weren’t crying too. And I’ve seen what the closet has done to so many good hearts. That’s the worst. So many good hearts. So many hopes and dreams of love and joy and contentment, never to be. There was nothing wrong with us. There was never anything more than simple, common everyday human prejudice and bigotry laid against us, grinding our hopes and dreams into other people’s stepping stones to heaven, or at least into a tiny shred of self respect they had no hope of earning for themselves. We had to be monsters so other people could be respectable. We had to bleed so other people could be righteous. We had to hate ourselves, so other people could admire the troglodyte they were.
When I was a teenager I fell madly in love with a classmate. I thought he hung the moon and the stars. It was the most wonderful thing I’d ever experienced. It blasted my denials about myself to dust. I’ve never felt a shred of shame since. Decades later, both of us old men now, I listened to him talk about how a life lived in the closet made it difficult some days to tell who he was looking at when he looked in a mirror.
Well I know who I’m looking at when I look in mine. And I have no patience. None.
That’s all I have to say. For now.
December 25th, 2015
I’m Missing A Christmas Card This Year…
Met my old lover in the grocery store
She didn’t recognize the face at first
We took her groceries to the checkout stand
Went to have ourselves a drink or two
We drank a toast to innocence
She said she’d married her an architect
I said the years had been a friend to her
She said she saw me in the record stores
We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to innocence
The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
Just for a moment I was back at school
-Dan Fogelberg, “Same Old Lang Syne”
December 24th, 2015
Age And Wisdom
Regards Kentucky’s new governor, that quote of H.L Mencken’s about democracy being based on the theory that the people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard kept coming back to mind. Whilst looking it up I stumbled upon this one…
The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.
Yeah. About that. There’s this beautiful quote of Issac Newton…that I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. The wisdom there is this: that even if you take care to walk though your life with your eyes open and your mind curious, you will still only see what was there for you to see. And that portion is very small.
Don Juan (I’m showing my generational age group now) said that the second foe was Clarity, and that to defeat it you had to keep in mind that your knowledge was merely a light in the path before you, and you do not see what is on either side of that path. Jacob Bronowski said that all knowledge is bound within an area of uncertainty and we must treat what we know with humility. As people get older, myself included, they tend to put great stock in their accumulated life experiences. But you have to be careful. Yes, it was real. But it was only the smoother pebbles and prettier shells you found. There was a greater ocean around you that you will never know.
That doesn’t mean your life experiences are worthless. It was real. It was wonderful. But you need to keep in mind that it was only a part of the whole. And that greater part is huge. Infinite practically. You learned a lot. Treasure it. Pass it on. But remember: the ocean remains.
December 5th, 2015
Apple: The Cutting Edge On Your Throat…
[UPDATE…] Actually…the Apple “Lightning To Thirty Pin” connector Does provide full iPod Out integration with accessories after all. I went ahead and spent fifty bucks on one at my local Apple Store because I’d started reading enough positive reviews of it to believe it was at least worth the risk. On the one hand were the initial reviews like this CNET one which flat out says the iPod functionality is missing. On the other were comments in various support forums including Apples, which indicated that at least for some folks it was working just fine. One of these said they had a Mercedes ‘E’ Class of the same year as mine. There were plenty of others though, who said it wasn’t working at all.
So I took a chance, bought one and plugged it and the new iPhone into my Mercedes, and as it turns out, everything works just as I would expect now. So either Apple had a change of heart, or the initial reviews got it all wrong, or more likely Apple as is its wont gave out rather limited information regarding its hardware and the media just filled it the blanks however they thought best.
So everything is working now with the new iPhone and Spirit. I have all my menus back, my playlists, the alphabetic searching through things using the dashboard keypad. It’s all there, just as it was with the 4s. Fifty bucks for the adaptor, but that’s how it rolls with Apple.
I’ll say this though. I’m noticing a much improved sound quality out of this new iPhone…even through the car stereo. Bluetooth sound is even a little better…at least as far as streaming Pandora and Internet Radio.
So…(ahem)…as to the bitter heated rant I vented below about Apple breaking things and not giving a flying fuck…
Mostly. I’m Still not happy about how Apple likes to break things. It’s a chronic problem with them. But at least this upgrade turned out to be not so disastrous as I’d initially thought. The angry rest of this post is after the break, if you still want to read it. And I will not this: not one word from Apple in any of the support forums was ever, to my knowledge, heard. They could have made things a lot clearer regarding this adapter and maybe there wouldn’t still be so much angst out there over the new connector. I still stand by my characterization of the Apple Complaint Department. And for any iPhone or iPod accessories that won’t take the Apple adapters because of form factor or because of other issues…well…you’re still SOL…
November 24th, 2015
They Have Always Existed. But Where Did Decency Go?
This came across my Facebook stream the other day, from Jim Wright, who you should follow…
It’s not that these people exist…
That’s it. I mean…the gutter was always visible to us, but in the same way the grotesque carnival sideshow tents were always there to peek into. You could tune in the screaming pulpit thumpers on the radio dial if you knew where to look. There were phone numbers you could dial to get recorded messages from Birch Society crackpots and white supremacists. Every now and then you got a pamphlet handed to you by a man whose stare made you want to stay out of arm’s reach. There were late night talk show on the UHF band, like The Joe Pyne Show, that you might tune in to for a laugh, only to switch channels soon after because you felt like you were suffocating listening to so much hate, so off-handedly spoken into the camera.
Now the gutter is front and center in the national conversation. Only it’s not a conversation anymore because the gutter doesn’t do conversation. It just screams in your face, and then laughs when it sees that it can still shock you in a place you thought you weren’t shockable anymore…
November 22nd, 2015
Sneak Peek. . .
Here’s a sneak peek at something I’m still working on for A Coming Out Story. Only the line art is finished now…and I’ve added the text but not the speech balloon arrows or any of the thought balloons (I really need to figure out a better, faster way of doing the thought balloons in Photoshop…). I still need to add the shadows and texturing and maybe tweak a few things here and there.
But I wanted to show this to you before I disappear for a while during the Thanksgiving week. I’ll finish it when I get back and add it properly to the menu on the ACOS main page.
November 14th, 2015
So soon is it after Veteran’s Day, so many are in a rush to go to war.
I know the feeling. We all do. We’re human. We bear in ourselves the ancient blood of the killer apes that walked upright on the African plains so long, long ago. We are not so far removed from them we don’t feel the pull of it. It is instinct. The hated Other challenges us, and we long to sink our teeth into them. To defend the Tribe. To protect our young. And because killing is an ancient pleasure handed down to us from the long ages of Earth. It’s the one that won’t admit that you should fear, because those ancient terrible lusts might one day take them by surprise. And in an instant, the human identity is shed.
We are more than that. The killer lives within us, but we are human, we are civilization builders, artists, and dreamers, and we don’t have to listen to the killer ape. Let us think before we act. Please.
There’s a poem…The Old Astronomer…I’m sure every astronomer knows it for these beautiful lines…
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
It’s in my will that my ashes are to be scattered in my beloved California, on a hill overlooking the Pacific near the Garrett family lands. So I will have no tombstone, but if I did I would want those words engraved on it.
To the people who planned and instigated this killing…to the people now rejoicing in it, calling for war and more war…war against the infidel, war against the hated Other, war just for the pure pleasure of war…all I can say is, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry you’ve lost your memory of what it is to be human. I’m sorry the killer ape has taken your soul away from you. I’m sorry that hate has emptied everything from within you that could have been decent and kind and noble. There are worse things that can happen to a person than to die. I see them in you now. I wish you could see them too, but you have fallen into a pit I’ve seen very few claw their way back out of. I’m sorry you are lost.
But you need to understand something. We have seen the Pillars of Creation. We have watched the stars being born, and dying, and hurling their flesh back into the universe to began the dance all over again. We have seen the horizons of other worlds. We have harvested light from the first galaxies. And we are not fearful of the night.
November 11th, 2015
The Ones Who Went To War
I’d post a photo of my maternal grandfather Albert (whose name mom gave to me) in his uniform but I still need to scan that one in. He served in the Philippines in the late 1800s…I don’t know if he later served in WWI or not. But oddly enough even though he died long before I was born, I owe much of the career I have now to him. After the Army, he ran his own business building and servicing radios and whenever mom saw something in me that reminded her of her dad she encouraged it…which is why I got a taste early in life for fiddling with electronic gizmos, which led to my building my own computers back in the IBM-PC/DOS days, and why I’m earning a good living now as a systems software engineer (my job title).
But I did scan this photo of mom and her first boyfriend, and fiancé, Morris. Morris was Jewish, and my granddad Albert, according to mom, didn’t much care for Jews until he met Morris. According to mom he came to like Morris very much and approved of them getting married.
But Morris was in the Navy during WWII, and so I was told, his ship sailed into Nagasaki harbor after Japan surrendered. He later told her that his ship was unable to move for a time, due to the number of bodies floating in the water. Whether it was the sight of that, or other things he saw during the war, or whether it was a thing that would have happened to him regardless, he fell into severe mental illness after the war and his family had to institutionalize him. So mom lost her boyfriend to madness, and if the war alone didn’t do that to him, it definitely contributed. Before his family took him away mom said, he used to scare her fondling his big army knife, stroking his face and arms and body with it like he was going to cut himself, talking about the corpses he’d seen with their guts spilled out.
So when we remember and honor our service men and women, let us please also dedicate ourselves to supporting them after the war too, and their widows and widowers, and their orphans, because our thanks are hollow otherwise, and especially to dedicate ourselves to not sending anymore of our neighbors to war, if it is humanly possible to prevent it. The wars don’t end for them merely because the shooting stopped.
November 7th, 2015
Where Did The Fun Go…?
This post may distress some of my friends but such is life, and I have a point I’d like to make for those of us who like to play with guns. Play safely, play responsibly, but play. Target shoot, skeet, blasting away at cans you gather up on your way to your favorite shooting spot in the woods. I have something I’d like to say to all of you.
I’ve owned guns since I was in my twenties and a friend introduced me to the shooting sports. He took me to a place in the country and let me shoot his little Ruger Mark 1. A “plinking gun”, it fired the 22 rim fire cartridges you used to buy by the bricks of 500 or so, and just go out into the woods and blast away at cans set up on a wooden plank. Afterwards I developed a smallish interest in the hobby, and over the years bought several firearms of my own, some for household defense, but mostly just for fun.
For most of us who do this, it isn’t about bloodlust. We don’t want to kill anything. We are not into vigilante fantasies or Red Dawn hallucinations. There’s a primitive, elemental attraction to fire, and things that go bang. We are mostly I think, the kids who liked watching thunderstorms, and playing with firecrackers. Yeah it’s dangerous stuff, but back in the day you were given the warnings, told how to play safe, listened to the stories about what happens when you don’t play safe, and still allowed to have those dangerous childhood pleasures. It’s a different world now.
I haven’t been in a gun store, just to look around, in decades now. Some months ago a friend asked me to drive him to a gun store where he had one of the rifles he inherited on consignment. My hobby as I said, was never more than a middling interest. I can get ammo at most sporting goods stores and some department stores (I refuse to walk into a WalMart), but I don’t often need to. A lot of indoor ranges insist you buy their rounds, I suppose to make sure nobody brings in anything unsafe. I settled on a set of household guns decades ago and haven’t felt the need to buy any new ones since. My camera hobby, and my road trips demand most of my discretionary budget. But just the other day I let my friend take me to a store in my old hometown to buy a part for one of my rifles. It was depressing. And now that I think of it, it’s the same thing I noticed at the other store my friend who had the rifle on consignment took me to.
When I started my hobby decades ago, you could walk into a gun store and see a wide variety of firearms. You saw little 22 plinkers like the Ruger that got me started. You saw professional match grade pistols. There were the usual self defense weapons, but also nicely engraved collectibles and reproductions. I once bought a replica civil war revolver, fully functional if you bought the black powder, balls and caps for it. I loved that gun…it went off with a great big wizard of oz belch of fire and smoke. After about ten shots you had to completely disassemble and clean it because black powder leaves so much residue behind it will jam the gun eventually. But I don’t want black powder in the house anymore and I don’t think any indoor range even allows them (way too much smoke) so I haven’t shot that gun in ages. But some years ago, while visiting Tombstone Arizona, I saw some replica Smith and Wesson 44 caliber black powder revolvers and I was tempted. Back then Colt had started making its old civil war era revolvers again, starting the serial numbers, so they claimed, right where they’d left off. The only difference between the new and the old would have been in the way better steel and manufacturing techniques used. So one wondered if the term “replica” was even appropriate.
You saw collectibles in various finishes, some with fantastically intricate engraving and inlays, in lovely custom display cases made with beautiful woods. Expensive commemoratives you wouldn’t dare shoot. Some of art you saw applied to rifles and handguns was just beautiful. Some of it was embarrassingly hilarious. My friend and I still joke about the nickle plated Smith and Wesson revolver we saw at one store just outside of Washington D.C., with pearl grips and the words “SUPER STUD” engraved in gold on the side of the frame. Just saying the words SUPER STUD is enough to set us both off, even now.
You saw rifles of all kinds, shapes and sizes. One gun store I used to frequent had a Weatherby I longed for, though it was completely impractical for any kind of hunting I could possibly do here in Maryland, even were I into hunting. But the wooden rifle stock…I swear it was the most beautiful piece of wood I’d ever seen, and my mom had a nice German console HiFi that was solid mahogany (and which I deeply regret now not keeping). No need to kill anything with it…just to wield the fire from that rifle at a paper target at a distance would have been a pure pleasure. I am not a big guy, that gun would have challenged me. But mastering it would have been Fun. But no way could I have afforded a Weatherby then, and I am not in the market for such an expensive rifle now.
The point is, you used to see a wide spectrum of stuff in a gun store. That was not what I saw when I walked into one a few days ago.
There is an understandable pushback now against sales of military style rifles. I appreciate that, even if as a gun owner myself I take issue with how the arguments are often framed. A rifle is a rifle is a rifle. It’s not how it looks, it’s how it functions. I have no problem with limiting the functionality of personal firearms to keep them from being used as instruments of mass destruction. I am very much for that. Some sorts of weapons, more aggressive in nature than defensive, are reasonably limited to the police and the military. I see the logic in limiting the number of rounds in a clip. I see the logic in keeping assault rifles, which unlike the ambiguous term “assault weapon” is a specific term for a specific kind of soldier’s rifle, off limits to private sales. If you want to play with them go join the army. But just because you replaced the wooden stock of one rifle with a plastic faux military one, that does not change the fundamental characteristics of the weapon itself. Slapping a large capacity magazine on it Does. Fine. Keep those off the market. If you like, mandate a change in the frames of rifles that take them so only small capacity magazines will fit (although I don’t know what you’ll do with all the rifles already out there…). But a rifle is a rifle is a rifle.
An AR-15 looks and handles very much like an M-16 but it is not an M-16. It’s functionality is limited so it can be sold to private individuals. Yes it can be retrofitted to bring it up to that level of military capacity. That isn’t legal except for the high capacity magazines which in my opinion should not be sold over the counter anyway, and it does not change the fact that functionally it is pretty much the same as any other magazine loading semi-automatic rifle. Or to put it another way, the logic of outlawing sales of an AR-15 would also outlaw the sales of Any semi-automatic rifle, and I think I am reasonably allowed to object to that without being called a gun nut. People mock the argument that it’s only cosmetics that separates the so called assault weapon from the sportsman’s rifle, but that’s what it is if it does not change the functionality of the weapon itself. You’re focusing on the appearance and not the functionality.
But that’s an argument that cuts both ways too. Which brings me to what was so depressing about what I saw a few days ago.
What I saw was almost exclusively military style cosmetics. It was everywhere in that store. Dark plastic stocks and grips mostly. The usual camouflage paint. Various patriotic slogans engraved on some of them. Some red white and blue painted frames no less. There was one rifle painted in a kind of tie-dye scheme that I thought was fun in a flippant way, but even that one could not relieve the dire seriousness of the rest of the inventory. It was all about the military look and feel. I felt like I’d just walked into a tea party open carry convention. Now instead of the shooting sports, you had preparations for some sort of civil unrest that any sane person would hope to god never comes to pass. It all seemed to be about the culture war now…with guns being the totem, the talisman, the fetish of the tribe.
I saw no plinking guns. I saw no match or hunting rifles. The only wooden stock I saw was on what looked like a WWII style combat rifle. There was a great big Don’t Tread On Me flag behind the counter. This was not the world into which I first walked into a gun store many years ago.
Deep down inside I’m a peaceful kinda guy who just likes things that go bang. I understand those things can be dangerous. I accept the responsibility for handling them safely. I accept the responsibility for owning and using those things in accordance with the law. I accept that because they present a danger to my neighbors, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has the right, it has the obligation, to regulate their purchase and use. Our shared public spaces convey shared responsibilities and obligations.
But more than all of that, I accept that a rule of law is what makes civilization possible, and that if you don’t like the outcome of an election, you love your country by respecting the process and working within it to change things. Private ownership of firearms is a right that makes perfect sense in the context of democracy, but they not our defense against tyranny, the ballot box is. And I very much resent being lumped in with a bunch of sociopathic anti-government anarchists simply because they like to babble on and on about their right to keep and bear arms.
I guess it’s hard to nearly impossible for some folks who just don’t like guns to separate the sporting aspect of them, the fun you can have shooting them, from blood and death and destruction. I hear so much from my liberal friends about how guns are designed to kill people and that’s all you need to know about them. Well it isn’t. But that is just what I saw in that gun store too. And that’s what depressed me, and why I sat down to write this longish blog post. Everyone seems to agree now, left and right, that the only thing guns are good for is killing each other.
Now it’s all about war. The fun was gone. The fun seemed long forgotten.
I hate what has happened to my country some days…
[Edited…and edited again…sorry…I just want to make myself clear on this…]
October 26th, 2015
Message In A Bottle… Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Message In A Bottle…
October 13th, 2015
Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket.
Last July a neighbor cut it a tad too close trying to park in the space in front of mine, and hit Spirit’s driver’s side front fender and did some damage. My security cameras caught the whole thing, but he fessed up (he’s a nice guy…very apologetic. His wife, their infant son and his in-laws were in the car with him when he did it and he was just red with embarrassment). Nobody was hurt. He called his insurance company (Erie Insurance Exchange). Eventually the total cost of the damage to Spirit was $1,322 for the body work, which was completed in August (to perfection by Valley Motors), of which I had to pay my $250 deductible. My agent assured me they would try to get my deductible back from the other insurer (which they did).
I filed the claim with my insurance company, State Farm, because after talking with his company I felt uneasy about trusting them to do a proper estimate and not give me any trouble over getting my car repaired. State Farm sent out a very professional adjuster to look my car over and give me an estimate, which I took to my dealer. Later, I got a check from State Farm, and a letter stating that they would now seek subrogation from the other company.
Last Saturday State Farm sent me a letter notifying me they were raising my rate for…get this…”NOT AT-FAULT ACCIDENT, PAYMENTS OF $1,322 COLLISION”
Hahahahaha…you’re NOT AT-FAULT and we’re going to be reimbursed for the money we paid you…so now we’re raising your rate! It’s a NOT AT-FAULT WIN-WIN!
So I went to complain to my agent, (Scott Garvey on Roland Avenue), today, and basically got a bunch of boilerplate smiles and explanations of why I have to pay more even if I didn’t do anything and they are getting the money back from the other company anyway. They gave me a very well practiced performance and a very polite and professional stonewalling. One of the managers looked at me throughout the entire exchange as if he could barely keep from laughing at me. Oh you poor thing…you think complaining is going to get you anywhere with an insurance company? How…adorable.
So my next step is to file a formal protest with the Insurance Commissioner. But since that was the advice I was given on my way out the door my hunch is the reason they don’t care is because they know they don’t have to.
And truth be told I feel somewhat foolish. I trusted them. Why did I do that? This isn’t the country I grew up in once, where big business was at least theoretically regulated against gouging their customers, and accountable to the regulators. When I left the offices of Scott Garvey they were all looking at me like I was some poor imbecile who thought his clean driving record, and monthly payments on the car insurance, plus the other business I do with State Farm, actually meant I didn’t deserve to be screwed over at the first opportunity. But I will at least Try to get some satisfaction about this.
I just today got one of their letters inviting me to invest in their State Farm retirement savings accounts. Let me see if I can explain to the droid who wrote me that why that isn’t likely.
I’m going to need a lot of postage stamps in the coming weeks…
October 12th, 2015
Full text of her speech at The Human Rights Foundation conference Here.
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com