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April 7th, 2018

The Snagglepuss Chronicles

Recently DC Comics began a Hanna-Barbera “crossover” series and they are the strangest, weirdest things you will ever see in this lifetime. Imagine your favorite old Hanna-Barbera cartoons re-imagined as real people, not simple animated cartoons…the Flintstones drawn as an actual anatomically correct people, experiencing life as real flesh and blood human beings do, but still living in that Bedrock setting, or the Scooby Doo gang as real kids investigating paranormal events in the middle of the Apocalypse…and you get the picture.

I’d been taking a pass…I actually hated what Hanna-Barbera did to animation all through the 60s, 70s and 80s, which didn’t get turned around until Who Framed Roger Rabbit appeared and reminded everyone what real hand drawn frame by frame animation looked like. Even Disney was starting to loose it. But then I saw Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, and had an abrupt change of mind.

It’s actually brilliant…Snagglepuss re-imagined as a kind of famous and closeted Tennessee Williams-esq playwright, coping with the homophobic prejudices of the 1950s and 60s. Yes…they’re actually going there. And it’s not that hard at all to re-visualize that character in those terms…that pink oh so theatrical mountain lion whose tagline was Exit, stage…(right or left as need be). Weird though it is to see these characters drawn as if they were alive in our real world, and interacting with humans and it’s all taken for granted that its normal. And it is very Very weird. And yet…it works. 

Snagglepuss is a famous playwright in the mold of Tennessee Williams, working on getting his latest Broadway play ready for its opening night. But the story is set firmly in the pre Stonewall struggle for gay survival in a world that hates us from every possible direction. I especially like how the writers weave the cold war, it’s blacklists and witch hunts, and the threat of nuclear annihilation into the story. Then there are scenes like this one…where we see that the play Snagglepuss is putting on stage is very much autobiographical…

This is the central theme of issue 4, and perhaps the entire series. Huckleberry Hound is we discover, also gay and in the previous issues came to New York and connected with Snagglepuss again, who introduces him to the Stonewall Inn, where he meets and begins to date one of New York’s finest, a certain constable McGraw. But the Stonewall is raided…not the raid that provokes the riot this time…maybe that one comes later on…and constable McGraw is ordered to be part of the raiding party and ends up gay bashing Huck after Huck says to him “Hello again officer…” in front of McGraw’s superiors. He later breaks down in front of the Stonewall, aghast at what he’s just done. Snagglepuss wasn’t there, he was introducing his own wife to his boyfriend, because he’d grown tired of seeing himself as a coward.

At the end of this issue, Snagglepuss is bailing Huck out of jail, and as the panels wander among the nuclear wreckage of yet another desert a-bomb test, Huck tells him… “You were right, you know a man cannot pretend forever. A man can no more hide his nature than outrun his shadow. The truth is they will always find us S.P., whatever we do, wherever we hide, they’ll find us. We’re fools if we think otherwise. Our only choice in this life is to change the world or be destroyed by it. And God help me S.P., I’m not sure which one I prefer.”

It’s brilliant. There’s more I haven’t touched on…the references to the Blacklist…the government agent angry that S.P. isn’t willing to cooperate with their witch hunt…the nuclear bomb engineer who when asked whether the American public should know the truth that building bomb shelters is pointless says “Oh no! It’s a democracy. The truth is the last thing you want people to have.” and… “…there is no such thing as Truth. Only usefulness”.

For this I can accept the absolute weirdness of seeing the old cartoon characters drawn as if they were real and lived among us and it was all taken as normal. There was a time after all, that we thought Mutually Assured Destruction, digging bomb shelters in our back yards and leading school children in duck and cover drills was normal.

by Bruce | Link | React!

Mercedes Love…

…still in it.

My Mercedes-Benz is a 2012 E350 Bluetec…a diesel…and my dream come true car. It’s the car I’ve wanted since I was a teenage boy and an uncle came for a visit driving his brand new Mercedes 220D. So I take care of it, not just because it cost me a bundle, but because it’s my dream come true car. Actually I’ve always taken care of all my cars, even the junkers I drove when I had no money. The Automobile is a miracle machine, a magic carpet that gives you all the new horizons you can find on every road you’ve haven’t yet been down. You take care of a thing that gives you so much wonder. You love it back.

A religion I’ve had since my first car, the 1973 Ford Pinto, is changing the oil more frequently than the factory says. Nothing kills a good engine faster than not giving it fresh lubricating oil regularly, and no single thing you can do for it will extend its life more than doing it more often. For American cars you take the recommended interval between oil changes as a bare minimum. I changed the oil in the Pinto every 2k. They will tell you it’s a waste of money but it isn’t. When I finally had to give up the Pinto it was because everything But the engine was coming apart. That’s how they used to build them in Detroit. I got 136k miles out of that car and when I watched it go away you could still pop off the top valve cover and it looked factory new in there. The steering wheel was cracked, as were the vinyl seat covers and the dashboard padding, and the shift stick would sometimes pop out of its base like a gecko’s tail in my hand. But that engine, that little 1600cc one barrel carburetor four calendar engine that would even run smoothly on sub regular gasoline, still ran as strong as the day I took the car home.

When I got the diesel I knew it was even more important to stay on top of the oil changes due to a diesel’s high compression and really, I mean Really dirty blow-by. Daimler says change the oil every 10k, and that’s probably reasonable given that they put a nine liter reservoir in those engines, and specify type 1 synthetic oil. I’ve changed mine every 5k and have been told repeatedly that’s a waste of money. My response is it’s cheaper than a new engine. But recently I read a post on one of the Mercedes forums to the effect that the new Bluetecs may need their oil changed as frequently as every 3k due to how the emissions systems heat the oil up to higher than usual temperatures and recent changes to the oil spec. When I took the Mercedes home it specified Mobile type 1 5w-40 diesel blend. Then they stopped making that and MBUSA started putting a 5w-30 type 1 in during routine service visits. I was skeptical. If the engines are running hot 30 weight may not be good enough. Eventually bought my own oil extractor so I could do my own between servicing oil changes, and began buying oil from a supplier who could get me the same stuff they put into them over in Germany, which is still 5w-40.

The extractor allows you to pull the old oil out of the engine from the dipstick pipe. It sounds strange and counter intuitive, but that’s actually the better way to do it on a Mercedes because (so I’m told) the drain plug at the bottom of the engine doesn’t actually allow all the oil to drain out. It’s a bit higher up on the block than would be needed to completely drain the engine, to prevent (again, so I’m told) all the oil exiting the engine in case the plug ever falls out while you’re driving, leaving enough in there to get you somewhere safe when the console display starts screaming at you that the oil is almost gone. Using an extractor gets it all out and it’s easier to use than it sounds. Run the engine until it’s at temperature (I take a quick drive up I-83 and back), then pop the hood and pull off the engine cover. The oil filter is right there and its easy peesy to pop the cap off (you definitely need the cap wrench though) and just let it hang in there and drain. With the extractor you basically thread a plastic tube down the dipstick pipe and connect the other end to what looks like a tank with a pump attached. Then you pump enough air out of the tank to get the oil to start flowing up the tube and into the tank. Once that starts the siphon effect keeps it going so you don’t have to keep pumping. There is a pressure relief button you press from time to time to let air out of the tank.

It’s a nice arrangement. You don’t have to get under the car at all. The only thing is it’s slow…about 20-30 minutes to get it all out. But you know when it’s all out because you actually hear a slurping sound, like sucking on a straw when the glass is nearly empty, and the siphon breaks and the oil stops flowing. By then the oil filter has drained and you can put the new one on. Which is where, more familiar as I was with changing the oil in American cars, it became strange.

See…in the Pinto and my other cars, including the Geo Prism which was a Toyota Corolla under the skin, and the Honda Accord, the filter was in its own can under the engine and you just unscrewed it and screwed on a new one. In the Mercedes, like other European cars, the filter is in a permanent can and you unscrew the cap off the can and pull out and replace the filter inside. And as you might expect (being used to The American Way) the cap is very…strange. Here’s what mine looks like…

If you can picture it, the filter fits over that structure in the middle of the cap. When you screw the whole thing down, a metal tube feeding oil into the filter pushes into the filter and over the part of that structure where it’s narrowed to a tip, up to the mid point where it gets its widest. Oil pushes through that, into the filter and out and back down onto a trough where there’s a drain back down, presumably to the oil pan. But look at that thing. First time I pulled mine off I was completely bewildered as to what the hell that structure at the end, where it narrows to a little tip with a little o ring at the end did (there is another much larger o ring near the top of the cap). It pushes down into a tube within the feed tube and seals it off and I could not for the life of me figure out what it was for. So I did a little digging online and discovered that it’s Yet Another Drain back to the oil pan, for when you are changing filters. The German engineers figuring that having that other drain would make draining the filter go faster. And it’s not a Daimler thing either. BMW does it too. And I know this because when I did my last oil change that center structure came off and I thought I’d broken it but I wasn’t sure. It seemed like it might have been a press fit. So I frantically Googled around for info about whether that center structure comes off and yes, it does and yes it’s just press fitted onto a bunch of tabs at the base. Panic Attack Over. But I mail ordered another cap just in case I ever do break it and now I can’t drive the car anywhere, like to the dealer to get another one.

The engine takes nine liters of oil. That works out to about nine and a half quarts and it’s one of those things that really impresses me about German engineering: they specify a change interval and put enough oil in the engine to make it reasonable, instead of just barely minimal. But the way the process works is after you’ve put the new filter in place you don’t fill the engine up with all nine liters. Put in eight and start it up, let it run for a bit so you’ve got the filter charged, then stop and check the dipstick and top it off. So there’s another little difficulty. Here’s the dipstick they gave me…

Trying to see where the oil level is when you’ve got a fresh pan of honey oil in there is really Really hard because the plastic that thing’s made of is shiny and you can’t tell where the oil actually is on there if it’s completely clean and new. For example…

This is after a week of driving on the new oil. Because it’s a diesel the oil I just put in there is already getting mighty dirty. But look at that. Can you see where the oil level is on that thing? It’s hard, but it’s just shy of the screw on the right. You pretty much just have to trust that the nine liters you bought is exactly right and you really did get all the old stuff out and there wasn’t any extra left in there to put you over the maximum…which is scary because over filling the oil pan can damage the engine.

Anyway…the car has just under 115k on it…next routine servicing is at 120k and I’ll probably tell them to skip the oil change because I’m doing it myself now with the 5w-40 which was the spec when I bought the car, or if they’re willing use the oil I provide.

by Bruce | Link | React!

Boardwalk! Finally!

Woohoo! Just now bought points at Disney’s Boardwalk. It’s a big deal for me because this is the spot I want to have when I go to Walt Disney World. It’s perfect in so many ways. At least to me.

I’ve been going down to WDW at least twice a year ever since a certain someone coaxed me into a visit. It’s one of my favorite stories…the German classmate telling me over the phone after I expressed skepticism about theme parks, Come on man…it’s your heritage! Baseball, Mom, Apple Pie and Mickey Mouse. What’s wrong with you? So I went, mostly to see him again after 30+ years of searching for him, but also to finally get a taste of the Disney park thing. I was born in California, half my family tree is there, and I’ve never visited Disneyland. My thing was the cross country road trip. I had no time for theme parks. But I figured a drive down I-95 to Walt Disney World was do-able.

But I’m old enough to remember watching TV when Walt Disney was still alive, and I’d forgotten what a Mouseketeer I was. I decided to get a room at a middle tier park hotel, and chose Caribbean Beach since it was closest to Epcot where my classmate worked, and which I thought I’d like better than Magic Kingdom, which was as I understood it, just a restatement of Disneyland in California. I thought maybe I could just walk across the street and there would be a conveniently located park gate near the hotel…but no…not that hotel. I wrote about that first ever check in to a Disney Hotel here. It was ten years ago this November. What I missed jotting down was the experience of walking into Epcot for the first time, and that Disney kid I once was all coming back to me in an instant. I was hooked. From that moment on, WDW became a thing I had to have in my life.

Luckily I’m at a point in my life where I’m earning enough to do that. Disney is anything but cheap. That said, if you do the backstage tour you will come away from it wondering why the tickets aren’t twice as expensive. It is a massive operation to make it all work. Soon I got an annual pass, which made the visits less costly per day, and came with some useful spiffs like free parking at the parks and merchandise discounts. I’ve written before about how the annual pass keeps sucking you into renewing it every year Here. The dollar figures are from 2012 so ignor those…it’s way more expensive now, but if you go there regularly you are nuts if you just buy your tickets at the walk up counters. The annual pass saves you tons, especially on the renewals.

A co worker asked me on one of my trips to get one of the Christmas limited edition DVC (Disney Vacation Club) pins at Boardwalk, which is one of their upscale hotels, located around a small lake next to Epcot. There was a second guest entrance to the park that I’d thought only guests staying at those hotels (there are three…Boardwalk, Beach Club and Yacht Club) could use that entrance, but it turns out anyone can, and if they want go enjoy all the restaurants and shops along the early 20th century themed boardwalk. So I got my co worker their pins and did a little exploring and discovered there was a pathway that wound alongside a canal that led to Hollywood Studios, which was by then my second favorite WDW park. But those hotels were the top tier and horrifically expensive. Well out of reach so I thought, which was disheartening because what I was seeing was that staying at one of them meant I’d have walking distance to my two favorite WDW parks…Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

But Boardwalk and Beach Club were DVC which by then I knew was their thing for buying into staying at the upscale hotels on a regular basis. Digging into it a little further I discovered that the DVC rooms, unlike the regular hotel rooms, had complete kitchens…or in the case of the little studio rooms, nearly complete, but still much better than your usual hotel room. It looked very attractive, but I was skeptical about getting locked into something like that. The middle tier hotels like Caribbean Beach were just fine, and about as much as I could afford on a regular basis. 

One year a co worker who was already DVC offered to let me tag along on a DVC presentation for one of their new hotels, Bay Lake Towers which was being built next to the first hotel they built at WDW, the Contemporary. The Contemporary is the one the monorail goes right through and I’ve always found it’s futuristic architecture beautiful. I ran that by that certain someone who coaxed me into my first WDW visit and he told me never to go to a DVC presentation without first breaking both my hands so I couldn’t sign anything. But I pretty much had decided not to join. Too much money and I didn’t want to get locked in.

Then one year I discovered there are web sites that let you buy a stay at one of the DVC hotels using “points” that DVC members were willing to sell for that year. The DVC point system makes it different from what I understood your usual timeshare is. Instead of buying a slice of time at a particular hotel, you buy points you can use at any DVC resort in a given year. The more points you buy, the more time you can reserve. You buy into a “home” resort, but you can use your points at all of them; the only difference being you can reserve up to eleven months out at your home resort, but only seven at the others. You can bank up to two years worth of points, and borrow points from the next year. 

Apparently some DVC members were willing to sell points for a year they could not stay, and Disney is fine with that. I looked at the cost and saw that it was about the same as staying at a middle tier hotel, the only drawback being once you reserved on those second hand points you couldn’t back out of it if something suddenly came up and you had to make a sudden change of plans. I decided to try it anyway, and queried one of the sites dealing in other people’s DVC points about buying a stay at either Beach Club (my preference then since it seemed to be nicer) or Boardwalk. Either one would get me walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood Studios which was what I wanted most. Luckily as it turned out, there were no Beach Club points available for the days I wanted to stay (my birthday week in September). But there were Boardwalk points.

Boardwalk, as it turned out, was ideal. It seriously felt as if they’d built and themed it just for me. When I was a kid and mom had a couple weeks vacation we went to various beach towns along the Atlantic coast, so strolling a boardwalk tapped deep into childhood feelings of joy. And mom, being a depression/WWII era kid, grew up on big band music and so naturally so did I and Boardwalk was piping that stuff all through its in house music system. There was a 30s themed bar with the old leather chairs and radios playing the music and radio shows of the times and at the end of my day I’d take a book I was reading there, sit in one of the comfy leather chairs next to a radio, have a cocktail and read until I was ready for bed and then I’d just go to my room. In the mornings I would walk the path to Hollywood Studios and make a beeline for The Writers Stop and get my morning coffee and danish (alas The Writer’s Stop was taken down when Starbucks moved in. Foo!).

It was all too perfect. So before I left I stopped into the DVC kiosk and asked to talk about buying into the thing. I’m sure they saw me coming. Up to that point I’d been visiting WDW at least twice yearly, spending money with the Disney card my co workers talked me into, and using my hotel keys, and later the Magic Bands to buy things. They must have had my profile down pat because the offering they made me was for fewer points than I was told was the minimum to buy in, but right dead in the middle of my spending comfort zone. I looked at the numbers and they made sense if I was planning on visiting WDW at least once a year. If I did that my costs would end up being about what they would have been if I’d stayed at a middle tier hotel every year, but this was getting me a room at one of the top level hotels.

Preferably Boardwalk, which I asked for. But I was told they weren’t selling Boardwalk points just then and anyway I could use my points at Boardwalk if I wanted to. So I relented and bought what they were selling: Grand Floridian points. It was a mistake. Granted, being DVC gave me a bunch of handy new spiffs, the best of which was I could now renew my annual pass on the Florida resident discount since now that I have property in Florida (the state of Florida taxes me on it as if it’s actual feet on the ground property), plus, unless the republicans really did kill this, I get a tax break on the Florida state tax and the mortgage interest. I’ll find out if I still have those next year I reckon.

But I didn’t really want to stay at Grand Floridian. It was on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop and I wanted to be near Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Plus, I didn’t like it’s The Hotel In Death In Venice theming. It felt suffocating. But to get into Boardwalk with only a seven month window to reserve I discovered, was nearly impossible. By then so many of the rooms were already booked you could only get three or four days in a row. 

It was frustrating, and twice I took out that frustration on the poor DVC customer service folks. But eventually (I don’t know why this wasn’t made plain to me before) I was told I could be put on a waiting list for Boardwalk points, and it might only be a month or so I’d have to wait. It was what I should have done in the first place.

Just now they came through. I will sell the Grand Floridian points, either back to DVC (something else I was told before that I couldn’t do) or in the third party market. Then it’ll just be the Boardwalk points I’m paying off and I can easily sustain that. And with eleven months out that I can reserve it’ll be a snap to get my birthday week at Boardwalk every year now, though I did manage with lots of frustration, to get it this year too. As this post is already long enough I’ll go into that adventure some other time.

Right now I’m just…delighted.

 

by Bruce | Link | React!
April 6th, 2018

Facebook Is To Socializing As McDonald’s Is To Food

Reposted from my Facebook page…which is going silent for a while…

Just a note to say thanks to everyone who reached out to me when I was having a bad time. I haven’t read everything yet but it is all very much appreciated.

I’m still not completely back together, and for now I’m taking a wee sabbatical from Facebook to spend more time on my blog to write more generally about my life and what I see like I used to before “social media” ate all the blogs up, and focus on other areas of my website where I have my artwork. So don’t take it wrong if you don’t see me here for quite a while. I’m not deactivating my account so people can still contact me here if you don’t want to bother visiting me elsewhere.

At some point, on the blog most likely, I’ll write more about what’s been going on with me that made a bad day at work seem like everything was coming apart. Basically the job has been all that’s been holding me together now for well over a decade. I know that isn’t healthy, but it’s the way it is. You can’t spend an entire adult life without finding that significant other, even if just for a while, without beginning to think there is just something fundamentally wrong with you. Logically I know it isn’t that simple. But there it is. I need to see if I can find it in me to see hope in my life again as the individual singular me, apart from the work I do that is for a greater good. Being a part of that has lifted me so much, but there has to be more, and right now there is not. So I’m going to go try and find it now.

Hopefully I won’t be away long, but in the end I really want to put Facebook in the background of my online presence and not the foreground as it has been. This place isn’t all that good for us either. There’s a world out there we should live in more. It’s so easy to socialize on these social media things and it now seems to me so dangerous for those of us who have precious little, if any, human intimacy in our lives. It’s real in that our friends are real and we’re all here, but this world we’re interacting in isn’t real and it’s all text and maybe a few videos and in actuality every interaction we make here is in a sense at arm’s length. That can’t be good. It’s to socializing as McDonald’s is to food. A steady diet of it might just kill you.

by Bruce | Link | React!

Not DTF, But DTL

This came across my Twitter feed just a few moments ago. I think he meant “only” there and just fat fingered the keystroke…

Every single time I’ve been lectured about how sex is overrated, it’s been someone trying to convince me that my sexual orientation is more of an addiction than a just a simple uncomplicated variation on human sexual desire. And it comes from that dehumanizing stereotype about gay males that says Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex. The activist and author Vito Russo put it succinctly when he wrote in The Celluloid Closet that “It is an old stereotype, that homosexuality has to do only with sex while heterosexuality is multifaceted and embraces love and romance.” Everyone who ever talked at me as I’ve defended the normalcy of my sexual orientation about how sex is overrated has been coming from the perspective of that ignorant prejudice. The only time it’s ever stung was when I heard it from my high school crush, by way of defending his own life choices.

GQ Magazine has an article this month that I encourage you to read. Luckily it’s online…

Not Every Gay Man Is DTF

The idea that all gay men fuck like rabbits? That’s a myth.

In part, as the article suggests, a lot of this overlaps with stereotypes about male sexuality in general. And it damages both gay and straight men. We hold ourselves to unrealistic standards and when we don’t measure up we stress that there is something wrong with us. The running gag in A Coming Out Story is how the imaginary character representing my libido is always wearing a fig leaf and a slightly apologetic look on his face while he keeps making me notice that how nice a certain classmate looks…


A Coming Out Story, Episode 1 “Meet Your Libido”

For years I thought of myself as a sexual milquetoast because I Just Wasn’t All That. Then one day on a gay BBS System I frequented, a fellow user posted anonymously to its health forum asking the doctor who ran it if there was something physically wrong with him because he wasn’t as interested in sex as the other guys and needed lots of foreplay to get started. He provided the doctor with details I won’t go into here, and the doctor wrote back, reassuring him that his level of sexual interest was actually more typical of adult males than the popular notions would have him believe, and closed by saying he should enjoy all the foreplay. The exchange was a revelation because that user’s experience with his own libido could have been my own. Since then I’ve read other men’s health articles that have had similar things to say about the male libido. But the GQ article I linked to above is the first one that I’ve seen to make the same point about the gay male libido. We Are Not All That

We get doubly hit by the stereotype. One tune I hear regularly in the kook pews is the reason gay males are so sex driven is we have rejected the moderating influence of females…which applies a different sexual stereotype, that of the matronly sexually chaste women…to the stereotype of the wanton gay man to the homophobe’s trope that men and women naturally complement each other. But it is not so simple. The complement in sex is the what your libido says it is. For most of us that’s the opposite sex, but for some of us it isn’t. The complement in love and romance is the person. Or to put it another way, in the marriage vows it’s not do you take a man, but do you take This man.

At the end of what was a long conversation about why he was not right for me and never would be, after assuring me that sex was overrated, and that it was like farting (“It stinks for a little while, and then it’s gone…”) my high school crush, the one who made me realize, never again to doubt, that being a homosexual was not anything to be ashamed of, and that love and desire were wonderful things, he tried to end the discussion by telling me that when I’m on my deathbed it won’t be all the people I’ve had sex with that I’ll be remembering, but those I’ve loved, and who loved me. As if they were mutually exclusive things. And there you see the second, and most destructive thing the stereotype does to gay men. 

It’s a deliberate knife to the heart. What the haters have been telling gay people for ages is that our sexual nature is actually corrosive to love. If we embrace our sexual selves so they tell us, then we can never love. But the human status isn’t a whiteboard anyone can erase and scribble their hatreds over. We embody the living history of hundreds of millions of years of life on earth within us every moment of our day, and those ancient tides will pull and tug at us whether we acknowledge them or not. When you believe deep down in your gut that your homosexuality is the enemy of your need to love and be loved than your sexual desires, when they eventually force their way out of you because you can’t deny an instinct that is older than the fish, let alone the mammals, let alone the primates, let alone us, will usually have their way with you in highly self destructive forms. It splits you in half, body from soul, and leaves you little more than a shell, desire and the human need to love and be loved ricocheting around inside, wearing you down from within, when they could have made you strong and whole.

That only serves the interests of bigots and hate. Which is exactly why they work so hard to make us believe we are broken. But we are not broken. They are. Anyone who would poison within a person the joy of sex and their human capacity to love and be loved is deeply, profoundly broken.

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

Back To Work On A Coming Out Story…

Back home from Florida, with renewed energy and determination to complete A Coming Out Story, and to tell it like it was. Funny how that always happens lately. 

I’m not naming any actual names except my own (well…and one teacher who was amazing), and I’ve made it clear repeatedly that the story is one third things that actually happened to me, one third artistic license (time compression, reordering / relocating certain events) and one third pure fantasy (such as my libido didn’t actually materialize as a naked but for fig leaf me). Hopefully this allows my classmates some plausible deniability. Teenagers do things that adults wouldn’t necessarily want on their resumes.

Tom Clancy once said that the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. This story is me trying to make sense of what happened to me back in high school when, as the subtitle says, the first person you come out to is yourself. I’ve a new story arc to start soon, A Conversation With God, that’s mostly me trying desperately to figure out why I’m getting myself all tied up in knots over a certain someone, especially when he smiles at me. After that story arc things start getting…interesting.

It was a different world. The best of times, the worst of times, as the saying goes…

by Bruce | Link | React!
March 15th, 2018

Please…No More Doomed Gay Couples…Okay?

Call Me By Your Name DVDs are for sale now, and I’m not at all sure anymore that I want to see this movie. So, like Brokeback Mountain I may end up giving it a pass.

Like Brokeback, and frustratingly, once again we have the tragically doomed homosexual relationship. A tale as old as time you might say. Or as old as Hollywood at any rate. As far as we’ve come and we still get told our love affairs are doomed. But that’s not the worst of it, at least for me. Spoiler Ahead for those who haven’t already seen the movie or read any of the reviews that go into Timothée Chalamet’s stunning performance, particularly in the final scene.

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Time has passed, and Oliver has told Elio over the phone that he’s getting married. To a woman (the story is set in 1983). So the last scene is the poor kid sitting in front of the household fireplace crying but still trying to keep his shit together while the rest of the family goes on about their business behind him. His first love dumped him, not so much for a woman as for respectability. So really…what was he to Oliver?

Just…a little too close to the bone. I just can’t watch this.

I don’t know that I can ever get to the point where I can watch this movie. I haven’t watched Brokeback either, though I did read the Annie Proulx short story. That was difficult enough. I’m not wanting some superficial junk food romance. I don’t want to be told sweet lies about the inevitability of love, or True Romance Comics stories of how perfect it is. It’s just as false. Heterosexuals get their tragedies, but also their triumphs, because their relationships are seen as legitimate, complex, multifaceted. Ours, as Vito Russo once said, are just about sex. What I’m seeing here is that even when Hollywood grasps that it’s more than that, it still can’t fathom it being more than a summer affair. Well at least it’s not the tire iron.

I have gay friends whose couplehood made it possible for most of my adult life to believe that it is even possible to have that kind of deeply felt, body and soul relationship, not just something I read once in a Mary Renault novel. But I’m in my middle 60s now and all I have to look back on is one strikeout after another after another after another, usually via the agency of some hostile third party that needed a righteousness boost. But I can at least live it vicariously in art, if not in life. It gives me a reason to keep getting out of bed and contributing, in a small way, to the work I do at Space Telescope. It allows me to keep pursuing my little efforts at art while sitting at the drafting table, or walking about with my cameras. But the suspicion keeps nagging at me: what does it really matter? Was I really the kid that was never meant to be born? Is this why I always feel like I’m on the outside of life looking in? I don’t need to be told love fails, my entire life keeps telling me that every waking moment of my day. I need art that reminds me the struggle is worth it, even so.

I don’t think anybody who knows me knows how badly I need those reminders. 

Maybe when I’m ready to watch Brokeback I’ll watch this one. In the meantime what I’ve read of the father’s speech was good. I’ll keep that much of it.

by Bruce | Link | React!

My New Favorite Place in DC!

Hahahahaha…

 

…and tacos are their specialty! Tico’s Tacos! I lived to see it! Oh…and at a nice upscale spot on 14th street where they serve pricey cocktails.

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

The Walking Wounded In The Garden Of Paradise

Political cartoonist I follow (including following him to the same web host his site is on, on the theory that if they were willing to host him they should be cool with me too), tweeted out something the other day about it being four months since his life came apart. So I went looking on his profile for all his previous tweets for the last four months and it’s looking like he suffered a breakup. To the point that he’s had to go find another place to live.

I don’t know much about his personal life. But for one recent post selling t-shirts his website has no posts since last October. And he’s been vague booking what happened, but it’s not hard to read between the lines. I don’t know if he was married or not. He was on tour in Europe promoting one of his books and apparently came back home only to be blindsided by whatever it was. But if it was a relationship breakup I wonder how blindsided it could have been. When Keith dumped me for some guy he met on AOL Instant Messenger it was a shock, but deep down inside not an entirely unexpected one.

I’m learning all this just a couple days after I had my nuclear war with my first crush remembrance and dinner. I was eating the premium Kobe Beef dinner at the WDW Hollywood Brown Derby when I got the Hey, Let’s Both Burn Our Bridges And Dance In The Ashes email from him, so I’ve tried to buy myself the best dinner I can afford at a nice local restaurant on that day every year since. But it’s somehow more depressing to see it happen to other people than to me. Maybe that’s because as a barely post-stonewall generation gay guy my expectations were low to begin with. Maybe it’s because after a lifetime of singlehood I’m inured to my own experience. Keith never actually said the magic three words to me, which is probably why I saw it coming deep down inside. He was strike three and by that time walking alone back to the dougout was almost a relief. But seeing the hurt in others can still get to me.

Some folks in my life have suggested that I’ve been better off single because then I never had to deal with this kind of loss. From the inside though it seems to me like I’ve been fighting a two front war all my adult life, not to hate myself, and not to hate the world. Somehow, I’ve really no idea how, I’m still winning that war. But the internal cost…you’ve no idea, and I wouldn’t want you to.

I wish that cartoonist healing and peace. I wish it to all the lonely. We deserved better. Life is good, even so. But goddamn it can cut you just as deep as how high it can lift. So we walk. So it goes.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Walking Wounded In The Garden Of Paradise
February 17th, 2018

Gunshots That Echo On And On And On…(continued)

More dead children. How did it come to this? I ask myself, as a sixty-four year old American male, and also as a gun owner who believes in a democratic right to own your own firearms. Firstly, there is a Scientific American article I would implore you to read…it’s a good one…science is our friend…let’s try using some…

4 Laws That Could Stem the Rising Threat of Mass Shootings

These are good…I enthusiastically support Every One of them, and especially the singling out of domestic violence as an indicator of future bloodshed. Seriously, if the one who loved you, who you took into your arms, is afraid of you, who the hell shouldn’t be? And if a child can’t trust you to at the very least keep them safe from harm then you are not a very well adult, and to whatever degree possible you need to be kept far away from any sort of weapon.

But here we are again. How did it come to this. Well you might say it’s the easy availability of guns, but I’m old enough to remember when they were even easier to get your hands on. Before the assassination of president Kennedy you could buy them in mail order catalogues and have them delivered to your doorstep. You could walk into most any hardware store and put your money down and walk out with one. Mass shootings, especially in our schools, were simply not as frequent then as they are now. Which is not to say they never happened either. There was the notorious sniper shooting spree at the University of Texas in 1966. To my knowledge they still don’t really know why he did it. Maybe I’m not remembering it right in my senior years, but that seemed to be a horrific exception. Now it’s happening almost monthly. What happened? How did it come to this? We are not helpless. And yet…we are…so long as we can’t talk to each other. And not just on this one issue either.

Fox News. Clear Channel and the Talk Radio screamers they promote. Right wing tabloids like the National Enquirer. Stealth propaganda outlets like Sinclair Broadcasting. What you need to understand about them, at long last, is they aren’t specifically trying to promote a policy point of view. They exist to sew discord and make the common working class citizens fear and hate one another. Because that is the only way the hard right can win elections, given how vastly unpopular its policies are. They’re good at it. And we are way too good at falling for it.

I feel sometimes like I have a foot in both these worlds. Most of my friends are liberal democrats like myself. Yet when another mass shooting happens I find I’m mostly just keeping my mouth shut while everyone around me is calling gun owners child killers, ammosexuals, Moloch worshipers, et al.  And even when temperatures cool down a tad I darent speak up when someone starts yapping about this or that devil gun de jour. It’s one of those issues where actually knowing what you’re talking about disqualifies you from talking about it. But if you want to make some actual progress on getting things back under control listening to one of us who isn’t an hysterical nothing else matters NRA single issue voter might be helpful. And since this is my blog let me just go right ahead and put something out here: maybe you’re the one obsessing on guns.

Listen to me. Now it’s the AR-15. Not all that long ago it was the AK-47. Who knows what it will be next time. There are lots of semi automatic rifles that are not functionally all that different in one regard, which is is why banning just that one rifle makes no sense and won’t get any traction: ban the AR-15 and you might just as well ban dozens of others. It’s not just that one gun. But yes, in another sense you’re absolutely right…there is something unique to these sorts of weapons that you can justifiably say puts them outside the boundary of reasonable personal, sport and self defense firearms. And no god damn it, it’s not the military style plastic grips and stock. No it isn’t the semi-automatic mechanism either. No. It isn’t. You Are Paying Too Much Attention To The Gun.

The kid who murdered 17 people last week came to the school, so I’m told, with a backpack full of 30 round magazines and he fired off something like 150 rounds in the space of just a few minutes. Look at that. No…really look at it. How was that possible? The problem isn’t the rifle.

Here’s the problem:

This is what makes the AR-15, and every other rifle and handgun that uses a magazine to reload vastly more dangerous. It takes maybe a second to drop an empty, slam another in the magazine well, drop the bolt, and away you go…thirty more rounds. Or more. Google “AR-15 magazine” sometime and get properly horrified. Then reconsider. It is not the gun. Forget the gun. It is the magazines.

California, my beloved land of my birth, for the past several decades has been trying to address this in various ways, each of which the NRA kook pews have found a too ingenious for their own damn good work-around to. But it’s a good path, and I propose going all in on it; and I say this as someone who owns firearms that take magazines. Go after the magazines. Here’s what I propose:

Firstly: any gun that takes a magazine needs to either have a magazine lock or be retrofitted for a permanent magazine, such that the gun now reloads with an en bloc clip like the M-1 Garand did. Limit capacity to only what a revolver would normally have, which would be five in the magazine and one in the chamber…six rounds total. Make higher capacity magazines illegal to own on the same scale as silencers (yes…I know…republicans…) and sawed off shotguns.

But with rifles like the AR-15, and certain handguns, you can go further. See how in the photo above, the cartridges are staggered, they don’t line straight up and down. That’s one way of stuffing more into the magazine. But it also makes them fatter. With a five round limit you don’t need that, so the magazines could be thinner. I’m showing my age here but I remember when we made the switch from leaded to unleaded gasoline and they made the fuel inlets smaller on cars that only took unleaded to prevent leaded from getting in and trashing the catalytic converter. We can do the same here. Make the magazines narrower and then require all new semi automatic weapons for civilian use to have magazine wells that will only allow the smaller capacity magazines to fit inside them, and require everything already out there to be retrofitted.

Secondly: (re: California and “bullet buttons”) require anyone who wants to manufacture new magazines to get a license from the Federal government and they have to make them to spec. Because sure as shit the NRA kooks will make them that are narrow at the top so they can fit in the smaller magazine wells and fatter below the magazine well. I know how they think…as I said, I walk among them.

This buys us three things. 1) It limits the firepower of semi automatic rifles in a meaningful and practical way. 2) Simplicity. Now we’re not playing whack-a-mole trying to define what is, and what is not an “assault weapon”. It’s moot. If it takes a magazine, it Must be limited as per above, end of story. Plastic faux military do-dads or not, it makes no difference. Every firearm that uses a magazine to reload must comply. Simple. 3) Political. We are not going after your guns, we are going after firepower civilians do not need and it matters not what sort of gun it is. You have a right to own a gun. But your privately owned gun is for pleasure/sport shooting or self defense, not criminal activity, armed rebellion or terrorism. And when they start babbling about how we need our guns to protect us from tyranny, push back, Hard, with, no…the ballot box is our defense against tyranny, and then pivot to a discussion about voter suppression and gerrymandering. Because as long as every American adult can cast an anonymous ballot in a free and open election, and all votes are equal, no government can become too oppressive.

I appreciate this is not going nearly far enough for some, and way too far for others. So I have a final proposal: Show The Carnage.  

Seriously. Show the public…everyone…both sides, all sides, all the grim horrifying pictures of the aftermath. Show Everyone what a bullet does to a child’s body. Show us the dead where they lay, trying to escape. Put the images out in the public view. I appreciate that family and loved ones will not want that because it would reopen terrible wounds all over again and again. Fine. Work with them. Listen to them. Respect their wishes. But surely some will agree this needs to be seen, to be adequately understood.

Then, maybe, hopefully, enough people will stop reflexively digging in their heels and we can work with each other to fix the problem. Please? Because we are not going anywhere, except into the trashcan of history, if we can’t work together, if we can’t talk to each other.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Gunshots That Echo On And On And On…(continued)
February 12th, 2018

So Much Of My Own Life I See In The Stories Of Other Gay Lives

The Internet Tubes have been singing with Adam Rippon’s bronze medal win. Mostly the stories have been inspiring, uplifting, in ways many of us thought we’d never know back when we were his age, and younger. Adam’s own story of how coming out publicly made it possible for him to find his inner place of strength, unadulterated, which was necessary if he was going to have any chance of getting to the Olympics, let alone winning a medal, is especially soul satisfying.

What I didn’t expect reading these stories, was chancing across one that hit me in the gut, deep down in a place still so late in my life, very raw, very tender. This one…

The Bittersweet Beauty of Adam Rippon – How much an out gay Olympian could mean to a kid now—or to a 34-year-old who’s been waiting for it his whole life.

It’s from Vanity Fair, online but not in the current issue. I hope it makes it to the next, because there is something in it heterosexuals need, really need to understand about our lives, and the knife homophobia drives deep into gay hearts. The author, Richard Lawson, writes about his discovery of and fascination about Olympic figure skating with his sister, who was also into it but not in the same passionate way he was. But he had a close friend who was…

We spent what I remember being a whole winter deciding which skater was our favorite (only the women, never the men; even at that age, there was something perhaps too intriguing about them) and gliding around on his hardwood living-room floor in our socks—pretending to do triple axels and salchows, awkwardly mimicking Kerrigan’s beguiling spins—two silly little boys with an appreciation for the graceful things in this rough world.

Time passes…the universe expands…the friends separate as boyhood friends sometimes do…and the boy who loved figure skating grows into an out and proud gay man. Eventually he tracks down his boyhood friend, only to discover he has also come out and proud. I was surprised, and told him as much. He replied, “Surprised? Richard, we used to do figure-skating routines in my living room.”

Heh. It’s a sweet story, especially so in the context of how gay athletes competing openly as the people they actually are, not only makes them stronger as athletes, but how it changes how we all see ourselves, gives us a vision of the possible that lets us find our own places of inner strength. But there was more to it.

On a visit to his parent’s house with some friends, Lawson finds himself talking with his mom about this and that, and she asks about his boyhood friend, and did he ever get married. Lawson tells her his friend is gay. “You’re kidding,” she said. “He’s gay? And to think his father said you two couldn’t see each other anymore because he thought you were gay.”

So the friends hadn’t just drifted apart after all. They were separated, never knowing exactly why, just assuming it was random happenchance, and it wasn’t. It was deliberate.

I am certain nearly all of us, except for the very very lucky, have similar stories to tell of how homophobia took a wrecking ball to what might have become a beautiful thing if it had been left alone. Every Valentine’s Day week for the past several years, I’ve been telling mine. The boy I met in church. The guy I met working in a catalogue warehouse. The guy who helped me try to rescue an injured cat in Rock Creek Park. There may likely be many more that, like Lawson, I had no way of knowing about at the time…gay guys who passed into and out of my life before I even had a chance to notice them, because some hostile bigot noticed them noticing me first.

Most tormenting of all, the guy who was my first schoolboy crush, a thing that felt so wonderful when I finally admitted it to myself, that it allowed me to come out to myself without fear or shame. It was all so amazing…right up to the day we arranged to go on a photography hike together at Great Falls, and that I would call him that morning before I started over to his house. Someone else answered the phone, asked who was calling, and when he finally came to the phone he made it clear that we weren’t going anywhere together, and after that he kept me at arm’s length for the rest of the school year. Like Lawson and his friend, we drifted apart. At the time I was baffled. What had I done to make him angry? Now I understand it better. 

Someday…someday…the knife will lose its power to cut, and hearts won’t bleed anymore, and won’t be imprisoned by closets and loneliness, but will be free at last to sing out their joy, to each other, and to the world. Someday.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on So Much Of My Own Life I See In The Stories Of Other Gay Lives

Openly

News is flashing all across the Internet tubes about Adam Rippon’s bronze medal at this year’s winter Olympics. And the news articles I’m seeing now are all very positive and hopeful that this represents the dawning of a new era, where athletes can be honest about themselves, not just to the world but more importantly to themselves. Because the closet is a ball and chain sapping them of their strength, limiting all they can be, and you can’t accept limits and expect to reach the Olympics. In a recent interview Adam Rippon put it this way…

“Being gay isn’t what defines me, but it’s a big part of who I am and I like to talk about my coming out because that’s when I started to own who I was as a person,” said Rippon, who spoke to TeamUSA.org on the topic in honor of June’s LGBTQ Pride Month. “That’s what’s important, not the being gay part but at some point — gay or straight — you need to own who you are. You can’t be afraid of who you are or else you’re afraid of your own potential, and if you don’t own who you are then you can’t grow.

“When I came out was when I was able to breathe. When everyone knew, I didn’t feel like I was hiding anything. I didn’t feel like I was putting on a show. I was being me and it was easy. It was a lot easier to be me than to be who I thought I was supposed to be.”

In another interview, which I can’t find again now, he relates how, having failed to qualify in prior Olympics, he became determined to seek out and deal with anything within himself that was holding him back, keeping him from finding and owning his place of strength. What he eventually figured out was it was the closet that was playing a big part in keeping him from getting there, and that when he came out, it was not only liberating, it allowed him to grow as an athlete, find his strength.  And he made it to the Olympics. And now he’s a medal winner.

All my life I have watched the closet suffocating people. Good people. Decent, loving, hard working, beautiful people. This is truth: the closet is no sanctuary. It is a prison. Maybe now is not the time for you to come out. But for you to be everything you can be, that time must eventually come. Find a way to make it happen. Don’t accept the half of a life in exchange for security. The security of the closet is an illusion, and we only get one life. 

They’re calling him and Gus Kenworthy the first openly gay U.S. athletes to compete.  Actually according to Smithsonian Magazine that honor belongs to Robert Dover representing the United States in 2004 in the equestrian events. The first out gay athlete to compete in the Olympics was English figure skater John Curry, and he did not come out voluntarily, but was cornered by a hostile press about his sexual orientation after his win.  He acknowledged it, and later gave the traditional victory performance, which allows the media to call him the first out Olympian.  But he operative word here is ‘openly’, as opposed to ‘outed’. In fact Lots of gay athletes have competed at the Olympics. But fear of hostility from officials and judges, both at the Olympics and in their home countries, kept them closeted.

And it still does for many. Already I’m hearing stories about closeted athletes confiding in Rippon and Kenworthy. So it goes. Yes, it’s progress. Yes, every tiny little inch of that progress, every tiny little baby step forward, comes with a torrent of pain stabbing at beautiful hearts that never deserved any of it.

Someday…someday…we will all shine…


Adam Rippon, photo by Rick Bowmer, AP

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Openly
February 3rd, 2018

Moving On…Letting Go…

When it began to look like I could never get the watch I’d worn all the way back to grade school fixed and ticking again…probably because the high end watch shops really don’t want to bother with the mass market watches the hoi polloi used to wear…I reluctantly began looking for a new one.

This…go ahead and laugh…was very difficult. Oh yes…at different points in my life I’ve worn other watches, the most recent of those being a “skeleton” watch I bought online, only to discover when I got it that it was actually very hard to read: unlike in the catalogue photograph, the small blue tinted hour and minute hands just get lost in the background of the watch gears. Lately I’ve been wearing a Soviet Tank Commander’s watch I bought at a flea market ages ago from a gentleman who’d apparently fled the country with a bunch of watches. But that grade school wristwatch, an inexpensive Kingsmark, had a long history with me…more even than my Canon F1 and me…and I get attached to things that have traveled the earth with me for most of my life. But the Kingsmark came back from the last watch repair shop in even worse condition than when it went in, even allowing for the fact that the repairman actually did fix the time setting mechanism. It was like losing a long time friend. 

But I started looking. Is this how people feel when a long term relationship fails and they have to start dating again I wondered. The other two watches I had were okay, but neither one was Mr Right. I started with various Google image searches because what was important to me was the face. Some clock faces are too piss elegant for me, some way too artsy, some just off putting for reasons I can’t explain. When I saw a likely candidate I looked to see if it was a mechanical wind it up watch. That was equally important.

The only electronic watch I ever desired was the Pulsar [Edit…no the Accutron] way back when. But that watch was, of course, way beyond the means of young adult, let alone teenage me, even if the nerd in me thought its mechanism was so very cool. When the first digital display watches came out I bought one because I am of the techno geek tribe and I just had to have one. And it was kinda cool to have that empty black glass on my wrist that magically told me the time when I pressed a button. I even had a Casio calculator watch at one point. But they didn’t last. Setting the date on them at the start of a new month was an even more irritating procedure than setting it on a mechanical watch. And something about that nightly ritual of winding the Kingsmark before going to bed felt right deep down inside. I am not a daily ritual kinda guy by any means…which is why gym memberships never worked for me. But the nightly watch winding ritual feels grounding somehow.

So it had to be a wind up watch, and preferably not a self winding one either. A self winding watch just strikes me somehow as a lazy person’s thing, or something for people who can’t be bothered with the humdrum of life. Some years ago wandering through the web I chanced on a place selling on of those watch stands for self winding watches that slowly rotate and wind the self winding watch for you. It reminded me of an old family joke about one particularly lazy relative whose self winding watch was always stopping.

Eventually Google showed me one that seemed likely. It was a German make and had an odd layout with the minutes predominant and the hours subdued, which immediately attracted my attention. I’d never seen a design like it before and yet it seemed so right. When I read a watch most of the time I’m not wondering what the hour is but the part of the hour it is. Time and I have a tenuous relationship…just ask any of my managers at work. When I’m paying attention to time at all it’s the minutes that matter to me. How many minutes until that 2 o’clock meeting. The light rail comes every 20 minutes…is now a good time to catch one? Is it time to take the french fries out of the deep fryer? There’s a reason why the minute hand is bigger than the hour hand. This watch took that to the next logical step. There was no date window in it, another plus. The Kingsmark had a day window and if you’ve ever had to fuss with one of those on a mechanical watch you know why I just stopped setting mine and ignored what it was telling me. Comrade Soviet Watch also had one of those. I’d rather a watch not have that. And there was something non-verbal about the artwork, the beauty of the face, that just appealed to me.

So I did a little more digging. It was a Laco…a German make. I discovered that what I was looking at was a replica of ones the same company started making in 1925 for the German air force…a pilot’s watch. The company sold several variants of the watch at different price points. The least expensive was, of course, the one with the quartz movement. But they also sold several all mechanical versions. I immediately gravitated to the one that was made in a “distressed” finish to appear vintage…only to discover that one was 2300 bucks. Not nearly as bad as a Rolex I suppose, but still a bit too pricey. I could afford it, but I couldn’t justify the additional cost just for the vintage appearance. And seriously that was a thousand bucks over the same exact model with the German innards. Plus…there was the association, delicately omitted from the sales pitch. 

I had to give it some thought. Actually I had to give the entire line of watches some thought. That “vintage” aged watch looked absolutely lovely…but it was probably worn by pilots bombing the hell out of Poland, France and Britain. Once a friend of a friend I was driving to our weekly happy hour referred to my ‘C’ class as a Hitler Mobile and I almost told him to get out and walk. But that was more about the German someone I’d crushed on madly back in high school who I’d found again after years of searching for him, and probably I over reacted. German cameras, German lenses, beautiful mahogany German cabinet Hi Fi-stereo equipment, German automobiles…back in the 60s and 70s you knew they were high quality items. To buy something specifically for its association with the German air force in WWII seemed morally wrong. But I wasn’t buying it for that. Still…who buys a watch specifically aged to look like it was worn by the luftwaffe? So…a thousand bucks just to make it look vintage, plus the fact that it’s vintage fascist. Even More reason to give it a pass. But I gave it one more longing look anyway as I clicked off it. 

So…back to the base model. Do I spend 1300 bucks for the 100 percent German one or just less than 500 for the visibly identical model made with Japanese made mechanics (über alles!)? But the Japanese innards were self winding, which I didn’t want because it just strikes me as laziness. Then I saw that it could also be hand wound, though I wondered if doing that at the end of every day might not lead to over tightening the mainspring since it’s theoretically also winding itself throughout the day as I’m wearing it. But was just under 500 bucks and as I said, I’m at a stage in my life where frugality is becoming more important.

But also, I am not interested in a watch as a status symbol either. I needed a friend, not a trophy. So I decided to go with one made in Germany, from Japanese gears. If they make their watch parts in Japan like they make their automobiles and cameras I reckon we should walk together for a long time.

I’ve put the watch I wore in grade school away. It’s broken again…I’m pretty sure the last guy who worked on it damaged it, even though he did repair the broken time set mechanism. But setting its time was noticeably less smooth, almost as if the mechanism had grit in it now, and I wondered if he’d done something to further damage the timekeeping mechanism which was what he finally said he couldn’t repair. Shaking it to get it to tick caused it to run for almost a day, but when I wound it again it simply refused to tick at all no matter which way I shook it, and tapping it against my hand caused the second hand to come right off. I was heartbroken, but truth be told it also felt like something telling me to move on.

I like having solid things in my life, and even when I was living a severely low budget life I bought things on the basis of was it built to last. But even the Canon F1 I had in high school, though it still works mechanically, now has an intermittent light meter and I’m afraid to take it in for repairs because all the old skill sets are dying out and I don’t want anybody touching that camera if they don’t actually know how to fix one.

So I have a new watch now, which I’m wearing now. I had to take it to the shoe and leather repair shop down the street from me to get a couple more holes punched into the strap so it would fit on my scrawny little wrist. It feels exactly right being there on my wrist which is a good sign. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Moving On…Letting Go…
February 2nd, 2018

Mine!

December 20, 2011, I took delivery of the car I’d wanted since the summer of 1971 and I was a teenage boy, bedazzled by my uncle’s Mercedes-Benz 220D. Just this moment I finally paid it off. They say I’ll get the new title papers in the mail in a couple weeks, because for some reason even though the bank funds can transfer at the speed of electricity nowadays they still take a couple weeks to complete the process. So it won’t be officially mine until the Maryland DMV says it is, but I’ve made my last payment, and that’s a big chunk of money off my monthly budget now.

A Mecedes-Benz ‘E’ class was more expensive, and truth be told more car than I really wanted to take on. What I wanted was one of the little ‘C’ class diesels. That would have been the right size car for a single guy and it would have got amazing fuel economy. But Daimler wasn’t importing those (and as of last summer and the Germany diesel emissions scandal they’ve stopped importing their diesels altogether) and I figured I had a chance to finally own my dream come true car and so I went for it, and now I’m glad I did. You get one life. If all your dreams can’t come true, at least some of them can.

It’ll feel real when I get the new title. But it feels pretty real now. I want to go somewhere and celebrate tonight.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mine!
January 31st, 2018

When Your Brain Tells You That You Have No Life So Just Die Already

Yesterday I posted a link to a Salt Lake City Tribune article about a Mormon straight/gay couple who are divorcing. A Facebook friend linked me to their own blog post on the matter. It is stunning

Five-and-a-half years ago my wife, Lolly, and I sat together at a hotel in Las Vegas, nervously composing a coming out post that would, unbeknownst to us, change our lives in nearly every way imaginable. We were so, so nervous. But we were sweet and earnest, and we had been feeling the cosmic drive to do this for months . . . we knew, without a doubt, that it was what we were supposed to do, even though it felt totally out of left field, and we had no idea why. Our post went massively viral, and we were featured on shows and newspapers around the globe.

That act of authenticity brought many of you who will read this into our lives. Finally, we were able to live authentically, instead of this life of quiet struggle we had existed in for a decade. Finally we were able to be honest with our community, our friends, our colleagues, our families about our marriage, and about me—that I am a gay man, and that Lolly and I had gotten married knowing this about me. That I always have been gay. That it was not something I had chosen—it just was— but that I loved my wife and my life.

Finally, Lolly and I were out of the closet.

What is especially stunning for me, a gay man, raised in a Yankee Baptist (there is a difference) household, now an athiest, out to myself since I was 17, out to most everyone else by age 30, proud, and single his entire life, is that I see so much of my own internal struggle in this man’s story…

For me, though, it all came down to the people I met with–the actual human beings who were coming to my office. They would come and sit down with me, and they would tell me their stories. These were good people, former pastors, youth leaders, relief society presidents, missionaries, bishops, Elder’s Quorum presidents, and they were . . . there’s no other way to say this. They were dying. They were dying before my eyes. And they would weep in desperation—after years, decades, of trying to do just as they had been instructed: be obedient, live in faith, have hope. They would weep with me, and ask where the Lord was. They would sob. They would wonder where joy was. As a practitioner, it became increasingly obvious: the way the church handled this issue was not just inconvenient. It didn’t make things hard for LGBTQIA people. It became more and more clear to me that it was actually hurting them. It was killing them.

This is how I’ve felt almost my entire life since puberty. I have had my share of life’s joys, especially now in my later years, working for the space program; a dream I would not have dared to dream when I was a young boy. I have had a Good life. And yet I have always felt like I was dying inside. Slowly…bit by bit. A flower becoming a seed. This passage especially, hit me very, very hard the first time I read  it… 

Guys, my life was beautiful in every way. My children, my wife, my career, my friends. It was filled with so much joy. The things I talked about in my coming out post in 2012 weren’t false. The joy I felt was real! The love I felt was real, but something in me wanted to die.

It’s the thing that wants to die in all of us when we don’t have hope for attachment to a person we are oriented towards. It’s actually a standard part of human attachment: when we don’t have attachment—and have no hope of attachment–our brain tells us we need to die.

My suicidality was not connected to depression. That’s how my mind could hide it from me. With no context and no warning, I would occasionally be brushing my teeth or some such mundane task and then be broadsided with a gut-wrenching, vast emptiness I can’t put into words, that felt as deep as my marrow–and I would think in a panic “I’m only 37. I’m only 37. How can I last five more decades?” That thought—the thought of having to live five more decades, would fill me with terror. It was inconceivable for a few moments. And then it would pass.

That’s been me. Almost my entire life. The hopelessness would overwhelm me…and then it would pass and I’d go on with my life. As time passed, and I grew older and older, still never finding that Significant Other, waiting for those sudden bottomless pits of hopelessness to pass became a reflex. I knew they would, because they always did. But I also knew that there was probably one time waiting for me out there, when it would not pass, and I would simply fall in and not come back out again.

Go read the whole thing. These were two deeply devout people, who did everything they thought they had to do to stay right with their maker, and began to realize that they had to stop, for the sake of their lives.

In the end, the correct choice is obvious. We choose the option that makes sure people stay alive.

We should always choose the option that makes sure people stay alive.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When Your Brain Tells You That You Have No Life So Just Die Already
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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