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February 5th, 2020

A Coming Out Story – Episode 29. . .

In which our hero discovers zipper anxiety…

A Coming Out Story…Episode 29 “Are You Serious?”


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 29. . .
February 3rd, 2020

A Coming Out Story…Please Stand By…

A Coming Out Story, episode 29, is…er…coming out slowly. So I’ve been putting up the strips as I’ve finished them, if you want to take a pre-release peak. This is why I’ve been a bit lax in posted to the blog here. I’ve been spending all my free time in the art room.

I have the last two panels up now, but they’re unfinished as yet. As I add details and such I’ll update them. When it’s all finished I’ll post a link, but anyone who’s been following this story already knows where to go.

I don’t know if I’ll continue doing this posting the unfinished strips as I go along. This particular episode is where the story takes an important turn, and soon the kid I once was will have to deal with a wee bit of self discovery…or more specifically the end of denial. After the heart attack last October I’m feeling some pressure to get this thing finished while I still have time to finish it. And there is still a lot of it left to go. This one has been so time consuming. I’m gonna try to make the episodes a bit smaller in size from now on. This one I could have easily split into two separate ones.

The last two strips in episode 29 involve…boots. 60s, early 70s boots guys wore, with a zipper down the side for getting in and out of them. The ones in question were black leather, and before I started work on this episode I had an idea of how to do them in the monochrome/cross hatching technique I’ve been using throughout the series, but I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Getting a three dimensional lighting effect off a material that’s dark and unreflective to begin with isn’t something I was sure I could do.

This is where my utter lack of formal training really bites me. But I’ve been working with this stuff for decades now, and I had a hunch about how to go about representing it. Plus, and this was a big help, I had a photograph of the incident in question to work from for reference. So I could see what the end result was that I had to get to, I just wasn’t sure I knew how to get there. But I just now gave it a shot and I’m really happy with the outcome. Looks better than I’d hoped. This is how untrained hunt and peck artists get their self respect points.

I’m done with Photoshop and anything basically to do with Adobe. I paid full price for a Windows copy of Photoshop so I could run it on my Windows laptop if my art room Mac crapped out on me in the middle of something I was working on. Some months ago Adobe bricked my copy on the basis that I’d bought a bulk license copy from the reseller and that license had expired…several months before I bought the copy. This despite the fact that Adobe went ahead and activated my copy anyway, and let me keep on using it for two more years. So one morning I start Photoshop and instead if getting my desktop I got a HUGE popup telling me my copy was invalid and demanding I fix the problem. And of course the fix would have been to start renting the product instead of buying a new perpetual license since they don’t sell those anymore. Now it’s all rental software. And I am not the only one by far who isn’t taking that bait. But that’s obviously why they bricked my copy.  It wasn’t a problem when I activated it, and I’ve spent thousands over the years on Adobe software and before now considered myself a loyal customer. But their software rental policy isn’t working out very well for them, judging by the static they’re constantly getting on the social media forums, so they started looking for excuses to turn off anyone’s copies they could, to try and force those of us who were standing pat on CS6, the last perpetual license they sold, to become renters. 

When I called support and complained that I’d paid full price for that copy the corporate droid at the other end told me to feel sorry for all the money Adobe has lost to piracy. At some point I need to make a Sorry For Your Loss sympathy card to send to Adobe for all the money they’ve lost to artists who’ve gone elsewhere due to their software rental scheme. I’ll make it with GIMP.

The current version of GIMP is working out very nicely for my online artwork. In some ways it’s even better than Photoshop. At some point I need to find alternatives to Lightroom. mark my words, sooner or later they will turn off everyone’s perpetual licensed copies because they can. Somewhere buried in all those license agreements you have to agree to, is a clause allowing Adobe to unilaterally change the terms of the agreement whenever they want. When you buy software that can be turned off remotely whenever the maker wants you have bought nothing.

 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story…Please Stand By…
January 14th, 2020

The Life You Fake That Kills The Life You Have

This came across my Facebook stream today. Some days I just don’t know what to make of people….

 

I just don’t get people who make up stories about themselves. You only get one life, don’t fritter it away faking it. Look around…your life is probably more interesting than you realize. And nothing in it is worth more than trustworthiness. You lose that you’ve lost everything.

This guy’s going to have this hanging over him for the rest of his life. It’ll follow him past the grave. Don’t be this guy.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Life You Fake That Kills The Life You Have
January 7th, 2020

It Kills Me The Way You Offend Me.

Via Right Wing Watch…

Robert Maginnis: Christians Will Be Jailed and Killed if Trump Loses Reelection

“The progressives hate us to the point that they would do exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews on Kristallnacht in November of 1938. They would go after them, and they would incarcerate them, and they would kill them if possible.”

Here’s what’s going to happen, assuming (please please please!) that Trump loses: The hated other will have their place at the table restored. Or at least a path forward to that place at the table open again. Black people, hispanic people, people of minority faiths, atheists, gay people, same sex couples will move further along the way to full equality. And Every Step Of That Way Maginnis and his kind will bellyache…Loudly…that all that equality for everyone they loath is as bad for them as if they were being jailed and murdered.

Mind you none of that will actually Be happening. But they will reliably act as if that is what is happening.

 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on It Kills Me The Way You Offend Me.
January 6th, 2020

The Air Was Filled With Phantoms…

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below upon a doorstep. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.

Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded them, he could not tell. But they and their spirit voices faded together; and the night became as it had been when he walked home.

You wonder where it goes sometimes…or at least I often wonder. Is there some place, some spectral land in the twilight between the living world and the world that could have, should have been, but never was, where all the love that never got a chance to be wanders aimlessly, alone, bewildered. Like that scene in A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge looks out of his window and beholds all the poor miserable souls who could have made the world a better place, but chose greed and selfishness instead, now burdened forever by the chains they forged in life, condemned to see everything that needs doing, and unable now to do it, aching to atone, and cannot. I wonder sometimes if all the love that never got a chance to be wanders that place between worlds, aching to fulfil and be fulfilled, and cannot. But those phantoms are doubly burdened for their blamelessness. Love, as Buzz Murdoch said, is a skinny kid that can catch cold and die from just standing outside a locked door begging to come in. These phantoms tried, but the door was shut, and the chains they wear were forged on them by others. Cold, empty others.

This article came across my Facebook stream the other day…

 

It’s a personal hobby horse of mine, how so many gay guys of my generation were terrified into ex-gay therapy and heterosexual marriage as a way to degay themselves. After that first crush I was never ashamed, never doubted that the love between same sex couples could be joyful and life affirming. But raised in the household I was, perhaps it was that anyway, I always found myself attracted to the nice guys…the ones that, in a better world, I might have met at a church youth social or at school, and I’d have brought one home to mom and told her I was in love and had that magical first romance and maybe, just maybe, we’d have made a life together. But when I was a teenager all those nice boys were terrified. They didn’t want their families to hate them. They didn’t want god to hate them. And so it went. And now I’m 66.  And I look at this article and see a guy who is perfectly capable of maintaining a marriage but could bring himself to nothing but random casual sex with other guys and I think it was mostly internalized homophobia that kept him from settling down with a guy, not so much access to legal marriage. In a culture that barrages you with negative images of homosexuality it’s unsurprising that people can’t visualize having a stable fulfilling same sex marriage.

But it isn’t their fault. Don’t be pointing your finger at them and saying they just needed some courage and self respect. If you didn’t grow up then, if you weren’t a gay kid living under that relentless barrage of loathing and contempt, lucky you, you cannot know how it was. I don’t see myself as the better man for not giving in, just stubborn. Love took me completely by surprise. I was lucky. Lots of gay guys of my generation weren’t.

And I can almost look out my window some nights, especially during the holidays, having had my visits with the Ghosts of Love That Almost Was, and see the phantoms outside. Maybe someday I’ll walk among them. What’s missing from stories like this man’s, ghosted, invisible, lost even to themselves, is the guy who could have loved him, and will never know. Like ghosts wandering through a Dickens landscape, true to themselves, living an honest life, yet still having to wear the chains of other people’s hatreds, bearing down upon us just as surely as if we were living in the closet too.

 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Air Was Filled With Phantoms…
December 29th, 2019

Department Of Random Complaints – Hey Biergarten…You Can Do Better!

No offense to the wonderful Disney cast members who work at Biergarten…or even the idiot who told me once that sex is like farting…I love Biergarten…love the atmosphere, the Oktoberfest seating that allows me to have lovely chats with other Disney people from all over…love the band, even though by now I know their routine by heart…But…

Every friggin’ time I eat there I feel an urgent need afterwards to go find a real German restaurant and get real German food. Sweet jasus the schnitzel was horrible last night! And they never get it right. Never. But last night the schnitzel managed to excel at horribility. And they got the brats wrong too. Much too dry and gritty…like they were mostly meat filler. And the red cabbage was limp and watery and tasteless.

I asked classmate once what their chef was most proud of. He replied: “His car.” Figures. Don’t you have any Germans working there??


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Department Of Random Complaints – Hey Biergarten…You Can Do Better!
December 28th, 2019

Deathstyle by Dick Hafer – A Review

 

Possibly the most homophobic comic ever published, apart from Jack Chick’s little tracts. Now a part of the Casa del Garrett library of homophobia. I collect antigay pamphlets, tracts and assorted publications, even or especially when such like appear in the mainstream magazines I grew up with. It isn’t all fringe like this from religious right cartoonist Dick Hafer. Back in the day Everyone threw garbage at us. That was the pop culture environment this gay guy grew up in.

So why would a gay guy want to collect this awful stuff…I hear you asking. Many years ago I read an article about a collection of racist artifacts from the U.S. civil rights struggle gathered by a black gentleman over the years of his life. He kept it all he said, so people would remember what it was like fighting for equality in the days of separate but equal, and to insure that the hatred black Americans faced would not be erased.

That’s one good reason. I have another more personal one. Back in the days when I had my first Internet account, I followed a USENET newsgroup that was basically an unmoderated forum for gays and homophobes to argue with each other. I joined to better learn the methods of the enemy, and test myself against them. What I discovered, like those who would later follow the Proposition 8 trial, is there is no There there. They would lie shamelessly, then deny having lied. They would throw out this or that latest piece of junk science, which was pretty much the old junk science given a fresh coat of paint, demand our respect, then after it was debunked, throw something else equally vapid out…wash rinse repeat…over and over. They would thump the bible, then thump some junk science, then back to the bible. You came to understand pretty quickly that the argument was just an excuse to spit in our faces and remind us that we’re hated.

And yet…and yet…you could also see the gay bystanders being encouraged by the sight of gay people standing up to the bigots. If the bigots were arguing just to spit in our faces, we could call out their myths, lies and superstitions not because we had any hope of changing their minds, but to tell others that these lying conniving runts were nothing to be afraid of…and show them that the moral high ground is ours, and always was.

Why dig up old wounds? Why keep revisiting an unpleasant past? Well for one thing it’s not all in the past. Yes, gay folk have made great progress. But if bigotry and hate have anything going for them it’s persistence. The old beliefs haven’t declined, they’ve dug in for the long war. Resentfully. Bitterly. What’s changed, and it’s only this, is anyone open to the evidence of our lives can see the haters for what they are now. But that’s only because now we’re able to live our lives openly. Thank Lawrence v Texas for that. And because of that, because we can live openly without the sodomy laws hanging over us, people can see the joy and beauty, the honor and the dignity of our love. The Proposition 8 trial, where we fought for the right to marry, all the way to the Supreme Court, opened a lot of eyes; not only to the depth of our commitments, but much more importantly to the utter vacuum of the case hate made against us. There was no there, there. It opened a lot of eyes. But not every eye will be opened.

If you’ve ever wondered how the xenophobic religious right could embrace Putin and his russia screwing with our democratic institutions take a long look at his gay propaganda law. It effectively locks Russian gay people in the closet…but not the voices of prejudice and hate. Now in Russia those voices are free, free at last to throw every filthy lie they can think of at us, at our families, friends, neighbors, while we cannot speak our truths for ourselves without risking prosecution. The Franklin Grahams and Tony Perkins here at home would love to have such a law on the books here. Only that pesky first amendment and the Federal courts stand between their dream and our lives. And given what Trump and McConnell have done to the courts, they may get their wish after all.

The comic book above would be my exhibit 1 in the category of filthy lies about homosexuals…more so than the Chick tracts since, so I’m told, the Hafer comic has been widely passed around among the kook pews. And its essential hate is more polished than Chick’s. Hafer wraps the open sewer of his prejudices with a technique that allows him to present it as though it were the living waters. There’s the usual junk science, but also he employs two foils he can work against…a low class fag baiting bigot and a scarecrow militant homosexual. Between these two he can present what is essentially the same blind hostility toward gay people as the low class bigot as reasoned and measured…and then ultimately as godly and righteous.

Soon after this arrived in the mail, I began flipping through its pages. I’d already seen many of them posted here and there in the Internet tubes, but I was unprepared for the unabridged wholeness of its contempt and hate. If Orson Scott Card was a cartoonist this would probably have been the comic book he’d have produced on homosexuals and homosexuality. It’s deeper in the dark night of the soul than even R. Crumb or S. Clay Wilson ever went. All the feelings of growing up gay while hearing this crap thrown at me over and over and over again came rushing out as I began reading it.

So in the interests of my own sanity, because I just can’t let this crap slide without speaking out about it, and because debunking this stuff is a never-ending chore, and in tribute to Fred Clark’s amazing series review of the Left Behind books, I’m going to do a chapter by chapter series review of this piece of shit comic. 

Fasten your seatbelts and remember…there is no bottom to the human gutter. None.


Posted In: Life Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Deathstyle by Dick Hafer – A Review
December 19th, 2019

Knowledge Or Certainty

There are those who believe that knowledge is something that is received, and others that it is something that is discovered. You can see which are which here…

 

 

The above graphic comes from a Brookings Institution essay I was reading back in 2016. I’m posting it here because it cannot be said too much that it pretty much sums up why democrats have exactly zero chance of winning over republican voters, even if they do throw minority rights under the bus like the concern trolls suggest. The information cocoon they’re in…and it’s not just a Fox News cocoon…simply won’t allow it. But there’s more here to understand.

What this is showing us is that the well educated elite, and by that I don’t mean, and neither do the republicans, Ivy Leaguers, but simply well enough educated that one’s curiosity is nurtured, allowed to function normally instead of suppressed, won’t cluster around single sources like moths to a streetlight. The reason is simple: Our minds, that inner spirit of curiosity and the adventure life is, just won’t let us stay put in one place for very long. Not when there’s another horizon to explore. Even if that horizon is only a book that looks interesting, or an article by someone we’ve never read before.

You find us in all walks of life. And getting us organized is like herding cats. We get an allergic reaction to too much organization. Which is why a state of freedom is such a fragile thing. Everyone benefits from it, but not everyone desires it, and the ones who need it most are the ones constitutionally least equipped to defend it from a well organized and determined aggressor. This despite the fact that we are often the very first to recognize the danger.
 
 
 
 
 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Knowledge Or Certainty
December 16th, 2019

A Christmas Card For Homophobes

Some of you may have been following the fracas over the Hallmark channel censoring an ad from Zola’s, a wedding planner outfit, that showed a lesbian couple getting married. The Zola’s campaign was several ads, only one of which showed a same-sex couple’s marriage, and that one was the only Zola’s ad to be removed, at the behest of One Million Mom’s and other members of the anti-gay industrial complex. The other ads were allowed to continue playing…until Zola’s discovered the censorship and removed all it’s advertising from the channel.

The backlash, not just from the gay community but also the general public not cocooned in the right wing hate machine, was ferocious. Late yesterday Hallmark walked back its decision to censor the ads. But its CEO went even further. This is not your usual boilerplate apology:

“The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused,” Perry said in a statement. “Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision. Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused. … Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences.”

This is good, not just that it is an apology but much more critically that it addresses what bigots deny and want to erase about us: that we also make those heartfelt connections, and want to celebrate them. The mindset among the haters is homosexuals don’t love they just have sex. What Hallmark just did, perhaps not in so many words, but by affirming our common humanity, was to say One Million Moms are wrong about gay people, and that Hallmark was wrong to let their prejudices dictate the Hallmark channel’s content.

It’s got to hurt, way, Way more than simply walking it back.

Now…understand something…if this were Putin’s Russia Hallmark executives (and Zola’s) could all be arrested and thrown in jail for this. And that is why the culture war republicans and religious right figures like Franklin Graham have all become Russian sympathisers, happy to let Putin screw with our democracy.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Christmas Card For Homophobes
December 5th, 2019

Memo To The Kook Pews

Listen to me all you god created everyone as either male or female jackasses: Nature does what it damn well pleases. And if that’s too secular for you, fine. Here’s something god created.

And there’s lots more where this lovely little thing came from. Deal with it.


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Memo To The Kook Pews

The Other Side Of The Door Is A Place Called Freedom

“It felt like a dirty little secret, it felt like I had chains wrapped around me, I couldn’t be who I was, I felt alone and trapped. Just telling one person made me feel so much better, just that one person took a weight off my shoulder. I told Sophie my best friend first as I knew she’d be really accepting of it. She’s been so supportive and there for me. Now that everyone knows, I have nothing to hide, those chains that I felt wrapped around me are gone and I can carry on with my life as normal and be happy. I felt like there was something wrong with me, I didn’t know other people out there felt that way, I felt so alone, so locked away and couldn’t say anything. Tell one person. Tell your story, how you feel. Everything is all pretty new so I don’t see any point in putting a label on it – gay, bi, straight, any of those kind of labels. All that I feel happy about at the moment is that I’m dating a guy and couldn’t be happier, it shouldn’t matter who I’m dating and I hope people can be happy for me.”

-British Olympic diver Tom Daley.

What makes me sad reading this: it was 2013 when he told the world this during an interview. I could see reading this as a message in a bottle from someone back in 1971 when I came out to myself. But…2013. Why was this still happening to young people in love in 2013?
 
Why is it still happening? To any of us in love?
 
 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Other Side Of The Door Is A Place Called Freedom
December 4th, 2019

Dear Apple…Please Stop…

I’m listening to The Warsaw Concerto on the iPhone. It’s lovely Rachmaninoff-esq music (it was actually composed for a movie whose director initially wanted to use Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto but the copyright holder wouldn’t allow it. So he hired composer Richard Addinsell, to do something in the style of Rachmaninoff. The movie isn’t well known, but the piece by Addinsell is now a part of the classical music canon.

Anyway…it’s the sort of lovely beautiful, evocative romantic music I get in the mood for sometimes. Like the other night…and I’m doing the dishes and I’m zoning out to the music and occasionally swiping back to the beginning of the piece and listening to it again (it’s not really a full blown concerto, it just calls itself that…) and then the iPhone makes a sound and I look at the screen and there’s a popup window. I don’t have my reading glasses on and all I can make out are the words…

Your First Love…

Well all sorts of things went through my head and I scrambled around to find my reading glasses and by the time I got them on the popup had vanished. I looked in the notifications center. Nothing. I checked my mailbox. I checked my Facebook app. I checked my Twitter app. I checked every app I could think of that might give me a notification. I couldn’t find it. It began to feel like some existential message from a digital Twilight Zone about how completely I’ve failed in love.

Hello Bruce, here’s a message from Your First Love! Whoops…not quick enough. Now it’s gone. Vanished into the mists of digital infinity. Now you’ll never know what it was. Still the same dweeb you were as a teenage boy aren’t you? Now here’s your daily reminder to fill out your timesheet!

Before going down to the art room bar to pour myself a drink I decided, just on the off chance that it was some weird new iPhone Apple thing, to google “ios your first love”. Jackpot. It’s the damn music app. I must have touched the heart icon whilst rewinding the music I was playing.

That wasn’t nice Apple. #singleoldgaymaleproblems


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Dear Apple…Please Stop…
December 3rd, 2019

Knowledge Or Certainty…Pick One.

An antidote to Franklin Graham’s recent scolding of Jimmy Carter on the biblical truth of homosexuality and sin: Fred Clark on reading the Bible as if it were a children’s book:

To me, stories like this are a reminder that our Bible is an ancient book. If the past is a different country, then the ancient world is a different planet. The ancient stories of our Bible can be inscrutable, impenetrable, and bewildering. An important part of our task as modern readers, then, is to admit and accept that we are bewildered.

We don’t like to do that. We like to pretend that the Bible is as simple, tidy, “perspicuous,” and self-evidently clear in its meaning as our own Arch Books adaptations of it. It becomes merely a collection of stories like that children’s-book version of the story of Josiah — an anthology of facile fables with simple “morals” that no one would ever regard as unsettling or disturbing in any way.

Why would an atheist like myself even care what is or is not true about the bible…I hear you asking? Because in these days of white fundamentalist supremacy and triumphalism it is especially worth keeping in mind, and speaking out about whenever the Franklin Graham’s of the world insist that their interpretation is the only true one. To just sweep it all aside with a shrug about well that’s just religion is to concede not only the validity of the fundamentalist’s own reading as at least a legitimate take on it, but more critically, it is to dismiss the importance of something Jacob Bronowski once said about the importance of knowledge over certainty:

One aim of the physical sciences has been to give an exact picture of the material world. One achievement of physics in the twentieth century has been to prove that that aim is unattainable. There is no absolute knowledge and those who claim it, whether they are scientist or dogmatist, open the door to tragedy. All knowledge, all information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility.

Always and in every important human endeavor we must ask ourselves over and over, what do we know and how to we know it. And we need to treat the answers nature reveals to us with humility. For the absolute perfect god’s eye view of the universe is not ours to have. Science tells us this, but it is also something to bear in mind while reading Any ancient text, even or especially, those that aspire to religious teachings we are being asked to consider as moral guidance. The lessons the ancients may have had in mind may be completely inscrutable to us in the 21st century. We only think we know what they’re saying to us. Their lives and their times are far, far removed from our own. We need to treat their text with the same humility that we do any result nature provides from any science experiment. And this is important: that does not mean we can never know anything, only that what we know exists within an area of uncertainty that is always present. We are not gods, we are human. We must be careful. We have to keep asking questions and acknowledge where we are unsure.

For obvious reasons the fundamentalist does not want us to be careful, let alone ask questions, let alone to know that we do not know or that our knowledge is incomplete. We must simply believe what they tell us, and do what we’re told. But believer or not. Whether or not we accept the religious belief system in question there is still the question of fact as to what the bible says, and the context from which it is saying it. You cannot just sweep that aside with an instruction to just believe from the pulpit, or a dismissive shrug, without discarding your human identity along with it. And this is the struggle…between knowledge that is something we receive and knowledge that is something we discover. Between those who would make us mere empty vessels for their filling, keeping us locked forever in trusting and obedient childhood that is actually servitude, and the childlike hearts and minds within us that are curious, willing to discover and learn and grow.


Posted In: Life

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Knowledge Or Certainty…Pick One.
November 27th, 2019

Howard Cruse Has Passed The Torch…Pick It Up…Carry On…

Last September I posted a link to the most recent episode of A Coming Out Story, that I’d managed to get out while vacationing at Walt Disney World. It’s part of a story arc I’m interleaving with the point in the story where I finally, Finally, come out to myself. The last frame has a shout-out to Howard Cruse in it…something I’d remembered from a one off cartoon he did for The Village Voice titled “Sometimes I get so mad…” It’s about all the static gay folk get from all directions in American culture and how that makes you blow your stack from time to time. You just want to live your life and people who don’t know you from Adam feel free to harass you and it takes its toll. At the end of it is a young Howard, sensing his emerging sexuality, trying desperately to find some facts about homosexuality, nervously looking through the pages of a paperback titled “A Pocket Guide To Loathsome Diseases” by one Doctor Pompous J. Fraudquack, and thinking maybe he’d finally get some facts there.

I knew the feeling all too well, even though I was nine years younger and in 1971 coming out to myself in a theoretically post Stonewall world. It would be decades before the effects of Stonewall and the first ever Pride march a year later would make themselves felt much beyond the confines of the big urban gay zones. For years after I came out to myself, everything I knew about homosexuality and what it was to be homosexual were things I’d been taught by the heterosexual majority. A lot of it was hostile and damaging to a gay teen’s self image. It wouldn’t be until the advent of the personal computer and those first amature computer bulletin boards that we didn’t have to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore and liberation came to the suburbs and the rural zones.

The main theme of A Coming Out Story isn’t so much about what happened to me back then, or the guy I was crushing on at the time, and what happened to us both, but the context in which it happened. I’m trying to tell it in a humorous way, because looking back on it there is a lot there that I can laugh about, thankfully, with an older man’s perspective. But it wasn’t funny then while it was happening to me, and if I’m trying to say anything with this story it’s that the world needs to give sexual minority kids a break. It’s difficult enough at that age to navigate your way through the dating thing with all those emerging hormones percolating through your body. Being the outliers in that dance is harder still. Beating up on the gay kids, damaging their ability to love and accept love from another, only serves the hate filled worst among us…all the little Dr. Fraudquacks who taught us to hate ourselves, or at minimum, distrust our hearts, believe ourselves to be damaged goods, unworthy, never to be loved. It snowballs, all the love that could have been given, and now will never be, on and on and on. And so the world gets smaller, and angrier, and darker. That is what the Dr. Fraudquacks are doing to all of us.

I posted a link to the episode when I finished it and got it out on my website. Then in a comment, I gave Howard a shout-out, as to say Thank You…I remember this little one off you did and it spoke to me and I just want you to know you made a difference. Over the years I’d told him this often. But you can’t thank people like him enough. Trying to make a living at art is a hard, hard path. Doubly so if you dare to be an out and proud gay cartoonist. He never got the commercial success and respect he deserved and I’m convinced that was why, because as a storyteller and draftsman he had very few peers. Seriously…look at his lines. They’re perfect. Every one. Compare his draftsmanship to Any commercial cartoonist you like. The polish he put into everything he did, no matter how small or trivial, is intense.

He was at the top of the art form. And as a storyteller he was among the best. There’s his magnum opus, Stuck Rubber Baby, of course. But look at some of the amazing work he did in Gay Comix. Billy Goes Out for instance. At its surface it’s the story of a young gay man hitting the backrooms for some quick anonymous sex. But look deeper and there’s a heartbreaking story of love found, and lost to hate, and the struggle to go on with life, somehow, after the worst has happened. There’s one panel in it that is I think quintessential Howard Cruse in its surreality while looking life’s bad moments right in the eye and not flinching. Earlier on in the story we’ve seen one of Billy’s older relatives instructing him to keep the gay thing in the closet for the sake of his career, and in another panel telling him off handedly that homosexual love was just mutual masturbation. Billy explodes on him while his boyfriend Brad tries to calm him down. Who are You to tell us how we feel!  Then toward the end of the story we find ourselves looking down on that older relative’s grave site from above, the coffin in the ground being shovelled over by a graveyard worker. But the coffin is open and the relative is looking back up at us as his grave is being filled in, saying that his married life was horrible and he hated every moment of it but at least he has someone to cry over his grave. And, one supposes, he knows Billy won’t. Because homosexual love is just mutual masturbation, and his marriage however much he hated it, was more real than Billy’s love for Brad. The scene creeps you out. Howard gave the chillingly heartless mindset of the bigot its perfect representation in that one single amazingly and meticulously drawn panel.  

So when I posted a link to my newest ACOS episode I waved at Howard, because his example is a big part of why I keep working on it. And as he always did, because he had a big heart, he waved back, and encouraged me to keep at it, that I was making a difference too, just by putting my story out there. You get encouragement from one of your heroes and it really lifts you up.

And now I am more determined than ever. I’m going to miss him. But looking through the tributes he’s getting from the community…cartoonists, activists, family and friends…it does my heart good to know he Was successful at the most important thing of all. By coming out and telling his stories, he made a difference, a real substantial difference, in people’s lives. He was loved. He touched so many lives. And he showed us that we could make a difference too…all of us…whether by art or activism or however…by being our authentic selves, and telling our stories. That is how you defeat hate.


Posted In: Art Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Howard Cruse Has Passed The Torch…Pick It Up…Carry On…
November 14th, 2019

Fascists: Even Crazier Than You Thought

Wow…this is just stunning. I was following this post by Fred Clark on his Pathos “Slacktivist” blog…

Erik Loomis visited the American grave of Wernher von Braun, thereby sending me down a Google hole…

And Fred’s post eventually sent me down into Nietzsche’s Abyss.

Fred’s post was Wernher von Braun and his alleged conversion to Christianity, American style. In it Fred notes a passage where von Braun seems to be a supporter of creationism, which has made him a recent favorite of the creationist kook pews. I commented that the fascists of the period had really strange and screwy ideas about nature and physics and noted something I’d read about Himmler and his proposed academy that would teach that the stars are made of ice, which suggested to me that he was a believer in an earth centric universe.

Then another commenter linked me to this Wikipedia article. Wow. It was even crazier than that…

Welteislehre (WEL; “World Ice Theory” or “World Ice Doctrine”), also known as Glazial-Kosmogonie (Glacial Cosmogony), is a discredited cosmological concept proposed by Hanns Hörbiger, an Austrian engineer and inventor.

Hörbiger did not arrive at his ideas through research, but said that he had received it in a “vision” in 1894. According to his ideas, ice was the basic substance of all cosmic processes, and ice moons, ice planets, and the “global ether” (also made of ice) had determined the entire development of the universe.

Oh lord have mercy…

By his own account, Hörbiger was observing the Moon when he was struck by the notion that the brightness and roughness of its surface was due to ice.

Sounds logical…

Shortly after, he experienced a dream in which he was floating in space watching the swinging of a pendulum which grew longer and longer until it broke. “I knew that Newton had been wrong and that the sun’s gravitational pull ceases to exist at three times the distance of Neptune,” he concluded.

Being an efficiently well organized and hardworking German doesn’t automatically mean you are right in the head. But then the entire 1930s is proof of that.

According to the idea, the solar system had its origin in a gigantic star into which a smaller, dead, waterlogged star fell. 

A smaller, dead, waterlogged star. A smaller, dead, waterlogged star. A smaller, dead, waterlogged star. Reading this Wikipedia article makes me want to put a fork in my brain. Apparently the Fascists, including Hitler and Himmler, embraced this intellectual lobotomy because it stood against Jewish influences in science and astronomy. Not to mention everything humanity had accomplished since our line began walking upright. And how did Hanns take criticism of his master work? Pretty much as you would expect…

Hörbiger had various responses to the criticism that he received. If it was pointed out to him that his assertions did not work mathematically, he responded: “Calculation can only lead you astray.” If it was pointed out that there existed photographic evidence that the Milky Way was composed of millions of stars, he responded that the pictures had been faked by “reactionary” astronomers. He responded in a similar way when it was pointed out that the surface temperature of the Moon had been measured in excess of 100 °C in the daytime, writing to rocket expert Willy Ley: “Either you believe in me and learn, or you will be treated as the enemy.”

Calculation can only lead you astray. Yes. Quite. Bronowski was spot on when he said (paraphrasing), When we discard the test of fact in what a star is, we discard it in what a human is. But that is exactly what the fascist mindset demands. It wasn’t so much the Jewish influence in the sciences that the Nazi’s wanted to erase but the human identity, and not just in the sciences but throughout German culture. So they wouldn’t have to see anymore the empty void they’d made of their own souls staring back at them every morning in the bathroom mirror.

The fascists threatening civilization today are much the same as the ones our grandparents faced back then. Same mindset. Same bottomless hatred of the human identity, trying desperately to protect the void inside themselves where a person could have been.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Fascists: Even Crazier Than You Thought
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