Bruce Garrett Cartoon
The Cartoon Gallery

A Coming Out Story
A Coming Out Story

My Photo Galleries
New and Improved!

Past Web Logs
The Story So Far archives

My Amazon.Com Wish List

My Myspace Profile

Bruce Garrett's Profile
Bruce Garrett's Facebook profile


Blogs I Read!
Alicublog

Wayne Besen

Box Turtle Bulletin

Daily Kos

Mike Daisy's Blog

The Disney Blog

Disney Gossip

Brad DeLong

Dispatches From The Culture Wars

Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia

Envisioning The American Dream

Eschaton

Ex-Gay Watch

Hullabaloo

Joe. My. God

Made In Brazil

Peterson Toscano

Progress City USA

Slacktivist

Slacktiverse

SLOG

Fear the wrath of Sparky!

Truth Wins Out Blog

Wil Wheaton



Gone But Not Forgotten

The Rittenhouse Review

Steve Gilliard's News Blog

Steve Gilliard's Blogspot Site



Great Cartoon Sites!

Howard Cruse Central

Tripping Over You
Tripping Over You

XKCD

Scandinavia And The World

Dope Rider

The World Of Kirk Anderson

Ann Telnaes' Cartoon Site

Ted Rall

Bors Blog

John K

Penny Arcade

Friendly Hostility

Downstairs Apartment




Other News & Commentary

Amtrak In The Heartland

Corridor Capital

Maryland Weather Blog

Foot's Forecast

All Facts & Opinions

Baltimore Crime

Cursor

HinesSight

Page One Q
(GLBT News)


Michelangelo Signorile

The Smirking Chimp

Talking Points Memo

Truth Wins Out

The Raw Story

Slashdot




International News & Views

BBC

NIS News Bulletin (Dutch)

Mexico Daily

The Local (Sweden)




News & Views from Germany

Spiegel Online

The Local

Deutsche Welle

Young Germany




Fun Stuff

It's not news. It's FARK

Plan 59

Pleasant Family Shopping

Discount Stores of the 60s

Retrospace

Photos of the Forgotten

Boom-Pop!

Comics With Problems

HMK Mystery Streams




Mercedes Love!

Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz TV

Mercedes-Benz Owners Club of America

MBCA - Greater Washington Section

BenzInsider

Mercedes-Benz Blog

BenzWorld Forum

April 12th, 2018

Next Big Train Adventure

Bought my tickets for another train ride to the land of my birth and my brother’s house therein for Christmas. And as experience is the great teacher I’ve sprung for the full bedroom on the two night two and a half day trip from Chicago to Los Angles so I can have my own bathroom and shower, and that lovely extra space and that lovely wider bed to sleep in. If you buy your tickets this far in advance you get the best price, and since I’m over 62 I get an additional senior discount.

Below is a better, if somewhat distorted view of an Amtrak full bedroom. It’s a bigger, nicer room, but there isn’t a lot of space to maneuver a camera to get a good shot of the inside. There is no place to back up and take a shot, so you need a super wide angle, or in this case, a fisheye…

 

The curtains on the right are over the door to the room. There is a small closet to the right of it, where you can hang coats. Above it the second bunk bed is folded up against the ceiling. To the left is a sink, mirror and cabinet for holding your shaving stuff. There are electrical outlets against the wall. The doors below it are service access that don’t open for passengers, and in the middle a trash can flap. The door further to the right opens into your own private bathroom and shower. The mirror and the chair in front of it are hanging on a door that Amtrak personnel can open to make two bedrooms into one larger room for families. It’s the one weak spot in the whole affair: that door is flimsy and if your neighbors are even slightly loud you will hear everything. So I will take my ear plugs and white noise maker, just in case. 

For an overnight, a basic roomette is just fine for me, a solitary traveler. But the two night trip from Chicago to Los Angles on the Southwest Chief is more than I want to spend in a roomette without its own sink and toilet like the Viewliner roomettes have. So I spend the extra money. The saving grace of it is I can probably have it paid off by the time I actually take the ride this December.

 


Posted In: Life Travel
Tags:

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

Donald Trump Republicans

Stolen from Digby…Ron Brownstein assesses Paul Ryan’s pathetic legacy:

No one in the GOP was better equipped, by position and disposition alike, to resist Trump’s racially infused, insular nationalism, or to define a more inclusive competing vision for the party. Instead, Ryan chose to tolerate both Trump’s personal excesses and his racially polarizing words and deeds as the price worth paying to advance Ryan’s own top priorities: cutting spending; regulations; and above all, taxes. The result was that Ryan, more than any other prominent Republican, personified the devil’s bargain the GOP has signed with Trump. And his departure crystallizes the difficult choices Republicans face as Trump redefines the party in his belligerent image.

From the exhaustive reporting of Politico’s Tim Alberta, who was first to telegraph that Ryan was likely to retire, we know that the speaker, expecting a Trump defeat, planned to deliver a speech on Election Night in 2016. He intended to denounce Trump’s racially polarizing agenda as a political dead end and a betrayal of conservatism’s ideals. Instead, when Trump won, Ryan folded the speech back into his jacket pocket—where it has receded deeper ever since.

Throughout his career, Ryan has presented himself as a disciple of Kemp, the ebullient former pro-football player and Reagan-era Republican congressman who sought to expand the party’s appeal to non-white communities. Ryan idolized Kemp and even worked for him: The future speaker was a young staffer at Kemp’s think tank, Empower America, in the early 1990s.

But after Trump took office, Ryan blinked at confronting the president’s appeals to white racial resentments. Pressed for reaction to comments like Trump’s reported description of African nations as “shithole” countries, Ryan managed to mumble the bare minimum of plausible criticism: “The first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful.” For most people genuinely distressed by Trump’s remarks, “unfortunate” and “unhelpful” were probably not the first words that came to mind; “racist” and “xenophobic” were.

Even more consequential was Ryan’s refusal to challenge Trump on behalf of the young undocumented immigrants included in former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Though the speaker repeatedly promised the “Dreamers” that Congress would protect them, he has allowed the legislation that would have preserved their legal status to wither, after Trump and House Republican hardliners insisted on linking it to poison-pill provisions that would slash legal immigration.

“I worked with him back in his days of working for Jack Kemp at Empower America,” Frank Sharry, the executive director of the pro-immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice, told me Wednesday. “He was one of the most committed pro-immigrant, pro-immigration libertarians I’ve encountered in my three decades in D.C. Then, after ascending to one of the most powerful positions in the nation, he talked a good game and did nothing—except front for Trump’s nativism.”

On Trump’s excesses, Ryan followed a similar pattern of denial. Those who imagined he would defend the law-enforcement institutions that Trump has subjected to unprecedented attacks were invariably disappointed. At a critical moment in the standoff between the Justice Department and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes—over access to highly classified surveillance warrants—Ryan intervened to support Nunes. He was, by extension, supporting Trump, whom Nunes was hoping to assist by raising doubts about the initial justification for the investigation into Russian election interference. On Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation itself, Ryan has mouthed the right sentiments about allowing the inquiry to proceed without intervention. But he’s resolutely refused to consider legislation to ensure that it could.

Month after month, Ryan signaled that as long as Trump provided a vehicle for advancing the speaker’s own goals of retrenching government—especially by cutting taxes—he would be willing to defend (or at least minimize) almost any presidential outrage. Ryan was hardly alone in broadcasting that message—every other major Republican congressional leader did, too. But it was especially powerful coming from a speaker who had fashioned himself as both a champion of inclusion and a policy wonk motivated more by ideas than partisan maneuvering.

The result of all this inaction has been the transformation of the GOP majorities into the see-no-evil Congress, with rank-and-file Republicans and their leaders repeating the same mantra: Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.

Digby adds…

Ryan may be one of the best illustrations of just how supine the GOP has become in the face of a demagogic white nationalist the voters they’ve primed to respond to racist appeals love.  Some of them, like Ryan, may have been a tad uncomfortable with it. But not enough to try to save the country. 


Posted In: Life Politics
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Donald Trump Republicans

Rupert Murdoch’s America

I was reading an article a few years back, about how the writer’s elderly father used to be someone pleasant and sunny to be around…until he started watching Fox News. Unfair as it is to pin our current national nightmare on any one individual (there is lots of credit to go around), if I had to pick one name as the icon of the American gutter now in power, and its hysterical babbling angry all the time grass roots, it would actually be an Australian. His name is Rupert Murdoch, and he became a citizen of our country just so he could own TV and radio stations here, and transform the American Dream into his personal sewer. Do not blame Donald Trump for the fire burning down our democratic institutions…

…the Reality Show President, like the writer’s father I mentioned above, is an avid follower of Murdoch’s venomous anti democratic propaganda mill. Here’s what Trump was applauding just last night…

Once upon a time feverish nutcases like this, moral runts who’d burn to ashes our democratic institutions rather than let their festering resentment at everything fine and noble that they could never be just stew in their own private sewer, were limited to late night public access channels, private shortwave stations and dial-a-nazi phone numbers (any of my Washington readers here remember “Let Freedom Ring“?). Murdoch gave them a national television network to spread their poison on. 

That’s led us directly here:

I say a lot of shit on TV defending him, even over this. But honestly, I wish the motherf*cker would just go away. We’re going to lose the House, lose the Senate, and lose a bunch of states because of him. All his supporters will blame us for what we have or have not done, but he hasn’t led. He wakes up in the morning, sh*ts all over Twitter, sh*ts all over us, sh*ts all over his staff, then hits golf balls. F*ck him. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town.

That’s from a blog post by Eric Erickson, who runs the Redstate blog, which I will not link to here. Erickson is as hard right as they come, and he’s upset at the damage Trump is doing to the movement. The post is a conversation Erickson had with a “conservative” member of congress at the local Safeway grocery store and it is a stunningly blunt, profanity laced, diatribe that the congressman was grateful to Erickson for letting him finally get out of his system.

But look at that. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town. This is Murdoch’s doing. And the idiots at Clear Channel who gave a nationwide radio network home to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. And now Sinclair Broadcasting, turning local TV stations into stealth rightwing propaganda media. All so the angry fathers of America can stay angry and fearful all the time because that gets them to the polls which is the only way Murdoch republicans can stay in power. And keep giving those lovely tax breaks and treasury money to the very rich and powerful, and gut the New Deal protections for workers and the elderly that they despise. And now republicans, even hard right republicans who would love nothing better than to take this country back to the 19th century, can’t stop an out of his depth manchild from destroying their party, let alone plunging the world into nuclear chaos, without losing their seats in congress because Murdoch’s angry old men would be livid if they so much as spoke a word against him. 

But…let it be said…they’re not any different in substance from those angry fearful Murdoch grass roots if they’d rather let America burn than losing elections to democrats.

And…let it be said…here’s the man who let Rupert Murdoch into our airwaves…

 

 

…the guy whose first act as president was busting a union. Who began his presidential run in 1980 with a speech about state’s rights seven miles from where three civil rights workers were kidnapped and murdered for registering black citizens to vote. Who laughed at the rededication of The Statue of Liberty when Bob Hope joked that she may have caught AIDS from the Staten Island Ferry (Fairy) or the mouth of the Hudson. He knew exactly what he was doing when he gave Murdoch our airwaves.

[Update]…Tom Sullivan over at Digby’s blog links the Hannity outburst of crazy with an upcoming ABC interview with Comey…

ABC plans to air an interview with former FBI director James Comey Sunday night. The promo spot above teases pretty hard what we might hear, including that Comey believes our sitting president operates like a mob boss (although George Stephanopoulos may be putting those words into Comey’s mouth). Axios claims a source present at the taping:

According to the source:

  • The Comey interview left people in the room stunned — he told George things that he’s never said before.
  • Some described the experience as surreal. The question will be how to fit it all into a one-hour show.
  • Comey answered every question.
  • If anyone wonders if Comey will go there, he goes there.

“There” being the question of whether Trump should be impeached, presumably. Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty,” arrives in stores on Tuesday.

So Hannity was prepping the kook pews on what to think about the Comey interview. We’re not a bunch of crooks, he’s the crook!  It’s like Al Capone accusing the FBI of being the mob, not him.


Posted In: Life Politics
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Rupert Murdoch’s America
April 11th, 2018

City Life

Baltimore used to be a lot smaller than it is now. The little neighborhood I live in now was once a collection of small villages nestled outside the city. Hampden, Medfield, the old mills gathered by the Jones Falls river that sprang forth in what was once a settlement delightfully named Happen Chance. Eventually the city extended its borders outward and engulfed them, but the history of this place is visible to anyone with an eye to see and a mind that asks questions. Why does this street curve and bend like it does on its way down to the river? What are these old stone houses in the middle of the block? It should embarrass me that I haven’t explored more of my walking neighborhood than I have. But it takes a boy raised in the suburbs a while to suss out where it’s safe to walk alone in the city, and when.

This afternoon after work I decided to stroll down to the light rail station. But I was divided about whether or not I wanted to actually go anywhere out to the suburbs. It was coming home late after margaritas at Texas Roadhouse or Bar Louie’s I wasn’t interested in, though I like the food and drinks at both places. I took an aimless walk down streets I’d never been down before, that I’d been curious about for quite some time now. And I was rewarded.

There was an old narrow street I’d gazed down many times before while walking back from a night on The Avenue, that went straight down the long grade from Falls Road toward the river. I took a detour and walked its length for the first time, noting the randomness of the houses there. Some were stand alone homes on very narrow plots of land, next to which were one or more blocks of rowhouses. There was a low stone wall embracing a stone drainage gutter that went down into some underground darkness. I wondered if it connected to an original brick and stone drainage tunnel from back before the city borders changed. I turned this and that corner, wandering a section of the neighborhood I’d never walked in before. You could almost point to each block and tell when the houses on it were built. Some looked recent, some like they’d been there since the mills were alive and full of workers making cotton duck for the shipbuilders in Fells Point.

Up ahead of me I saw a block of new construction, new “luxury” townhomes advertised at a starting price of just  under 400k, and took another detour to examine them. I suspect nobody actually gets the just under 400k price once amenities are added on. They are four floors with roof decks and garages in that ugly new style that festoons the front with a confusing collage of different treatments to hide the fact they’re just little boxes. I wondered what the people buying them did for a living to be able to afford the mortgages. Some might say they’re out of place in this old working class Baltimore neighborhood, and yet they aren’t: the neighborhood like a lot of old city neighborhoods is an aggregate of whatever suited the times things were built in. Its history in row after row after Baltimore row with the pages all shuffled randomly. I could turn my head slightly and see a house that was probably built in the 1910s side by side with a 1940s one. A man and his son passed by gazing at the news houses in wonder, the boy telling his dad that he’d been told those houses went for a thousand a month. Oh no dear, at those prices the mortgages are likely to be several thousand a month. 

I took another detour, down another old narrow street that looked like it went all the way down to the river. Along the way I chanced on a restaurant and bar I’d gone looking for when I saw a random flyer for it posted somewhere on The Avenue, but couldn’t find because as it turned out I’d got the street number wrong. It was Chuck’s Trading Post, and the flyer said they served breakfast and lunch, and had a full service bar. The great thing about living here are all the local eating and watering spots and none of it is corporate franchise chain blah blah blah. Well…we do have Starbucks. But then, who doesn’t?

Chuck’s was located in an old building that once served as the local general store it seemed. The entire street was rich with the visible history of the place. Not too much further down was the old Clipper Mill and the Union Mill…now housing upscale industrial style apartments and a couple Very upscale restaurants and coffee shops. Gentrification. And yet Chuck’s immediately struck me as warm and welcoming, despite the vaguely city trendy feel to the inside.

I walked up to the front door just to take a peek inside. I wasn’t interested in coming in at that moment, I was in an exploration mindset. But the people inside immediately began motioning me in. They may have thought I was apprehensive about the two large dogs because when I opened the door the first thing I heard was “They’re friendly”. But so were the humans…

…and for the next hour or so I had a wonderful time chatting away at the bar with the people inside and the young woman working the kitchen behind the bar. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at home in a spot than I did there. You really felt the energy in the place and its people, and yet they and their shop were thoroughly Baltimore and Hampden and unpretentious.

This is what I am coming to absolutely love about city life here in Baltimore. Out of nowhere you find these things and they are just amazing. I’m getting spoiled to it. I may never eat at a chain restaurant again.

Afterward I took another wander down to the road by the river. Here interstate 83 runs elevated along and over the Jones Falls river. I found more local camera candy and at some point when the weather gets warmed I Have to take a camera stroll down those roads. Then back to Casa del Garrett. All within walking distance. I stumbled into an amazingly nice place to live 18 years ago and I’m still discovering how amazing.


Posted In: Life
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on City Life

Time To Bring Bert The Turtle Out Of Retirement…

Seeing this in my newsfeed gives me all the warm fuzzies…

Trump Has Told Syria And Russia To “Get Ready” For A Missile Strike

All those Duck and Cover drills I did in grade school might just come in handy after all…

 

All you people who mocked the rest of us with those the lesser of two evils is still evil memes…I’ll be thinking of you when the missiles start flying…


Posted In: Life Politics
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Time To Bring Bert The Turtle Out Of Retirement…

Free Advice From Someone Who Hates You

At the top of my Google US News Section this morning…

Oh my…the National Review is worried about democratic messaging and just wants to help. This my friends, is a textbook example of what they call Concern Trolling.

 

 


Posted In: Politics
Tags:

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Free Advice From Someone Who Hates You
April 9th, 2018

The Healing Power Of Love…At Least If You’re Gay…

This comes across my Google news feed today…

How romance can protect gay and lesbian youths from emotional distress

A recent study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology finds that being in a romantic relationship can help gay and lesbian youth like Pegues feel less mental distress — even more so if they are black or Latino. This contrasts with the fact that, in heterosexual teens’ lives, romance is generally found to cause distress rather than alleviate it.

In fact the study seems to suggest that being in a romantic relationship causes stress for Everyone but gay folk. I’ve no idea why that would be so, unless it’s we have to work harder for it and cherish it more because so many people want to take it away from us.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. -Lao Tzu


Posted In: Life
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Healing Power Of Love…At Least If You’re Gay…
April 8th, 2018

Don’t I Feed You Enough??

Feline love. I have the front door opened and the outer storm door closed to let more sunlight in. I look up from my lunch to see the neighborhood calico on my doorstep looking in. So I walk over thinking she would like some food and maybe some fresh water. But…no. She’s presented me with another offering of dead bird…the fourth one in two weeks. Feathers are everywhere on my front porch, and the fresh kill right on my doorstep. 

As I open the door she fixes me with that unnervingly steady cat gaze. Where’s all that cat food coming from…how come I never see you kill anything…here, let me show you how it’s done…

Yes dear…I know you love me. Another one I have to give a proper burial to in my garden. As I wrap the bird up I wonder if Klingons leave the dead bodies of their enemies at the doors of their boy/girl friends as a token of love…

 


Posted In: Life
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

Funny How Shadows On A Silver Screen Can Thoroughly Destroy You…And Yet Lift You Up…

Also on Twitter the other day…

Bright Wall/Dark Room? @BWDRFollowFollow
What’s the very first movie that broke your heart?

Oh gosh…not even slightly hard to recall. For lots of folks my age it’s Old Yeller. But my first serious movie heartbreak was The Yearling. I was maybe 9 or 10 when I watched it on TV.

Broke my heart twice it did…

 

…but then I went and read the novel anyway and got my heart broken all over again. But that was the book that gave me the insight into how multi-layered stories can be. I was in elementary school and pulling books from the big kid’s side of the library where I was told I was too young to really appreciate them. I nabbed a copy of the novel with the amazing N.C. Wyeth illustrations and devoured it. As I read that tragic end I suddenly realized that the title of the book referred to the boy, not the deer, and it felt like a revelation. Suddenly the world of books became larger, infinite even. 

So when it came time to write my book report on it I put all that into it, and the demented bully of a teacher I had for that class accused me of having my mom write the report for me and gave me an F, because how could a boy my age possibly understand that. Mom was furious and brought to a teacher-parent meeting the radio I had just built from parts to show her I was smarter than she thought. But no…I was the child of a single divorced mother and that made me by definition a problem child and both of us had to be punished for it.

Third heartbreak then. But I never gave up the joy of reading. That epiphany was too much to let go of. I’m 64 years old and my house is full of books.


Posted In: Life
Tags:

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

I Know The Feeling

On my Twitter feed this morning (if it looks like I’m merely substituting one social media addiction for another…you may be right. But Twitter isn’t as comprehensive a snare into your life as Facebook is and…one step at a time please…) I see the following…

Rainbow Rowell @rainbowrowell
One of the great epiphanies of my lifetime was realizing that I disliked so many female characters because they were created by men who didn’t like women.

I can empathize. Lots of gay characters I have absolutely hated too…cute as a few of them were…

I don’t even know if the character of Francis Amthor was even in that Chandler book, let alone if she was written as the quintessential big predatory dyke, but she well could have been. I was in my twenties and into my detective novel phase and heard Chandler was the gold standard, so I picked up a paperback copy of one of his novels in a bookstore and randomly opened to a page in the middle to see if I’d like his style of writing. There I beheld a scene with Marlowe roughing up a gay guy who takes a swing back at him but, as Chandler observed, girly-boy bones just can’t land a good punch. I put it back. The only reason I watched (and still love) Farewell My Lovely was for the amazing cinematography and recreation of 1940s Los Angles, and Robert Mitchum’s definitive hard boiled detective. But it’s like nearly every other Hollywood movie when a gay character appears onscreen and I just have to wait it out while the straight boys get their kicks kicking Teh Gay around.

I could add all the faggots that even the sexually liberated underground comic books cheerfully waved in my face, but you get the picture. I had my epiphany when I read Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet. If any one thing turned me into Teh Militant Homosexual it was reading that book.


Posted In: Life

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Know The Feeling
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.


Posted In: Life
Tags: ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Snagglepuss Chronicles

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.


Posted In: Life

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mercedes Love…

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.

 


Posted In: Life
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Boardwalk! Finally!
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.


Posted In: Life
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Facebook Is To Socializing As McDonald’s Is To Food

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.


Posted In: Life
Tags: , ,

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Not DTF, But DTL
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


    What I'm Currently Reading...




    What I'm Currently Watching...




    What I'm Currently Listening To...




    Comic Book I've Read Recently...



    web
stats

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

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