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November 17th, 2021

Life’s Little Regrets. . .

The English word yodel is derived from the German (and originally Austro-Bavarian) word jodeln, meaning “to utter the syllable jo” (pronounced “yo” in English). Most experts agree that yodeling was used in the Central Alps by herders calling their stock or to communicate between Alpine villages. The multi-pitched “yelling” later became part of the region’s traditional lore and musical expression. The earliest record of a yodel is in 1545, where it is described as “the call of a cowherd from Appenzell”

There’s a scene in the 2004 movie Summer Storm (I’m recalling it just now from memory…) where boys from a Bavarian rowing team are lounging on a beach and they see a girl’s team at practice rowing past. One of them playfully yodels out to them and one of the other boys disgustedly says, Oh great, now everyone knows we’re Bavarians. Later I worked up the nerve to ask a certain someone if it was true that Bavarians were considered country bumpkins in Germany. He assured me it was true.

This came across my Facebook stream the other day…

Time was, if I saw this cartoon I’d spend a few days pondering if I should show it to him or not. Would he share a laugh with me, or would he think I was making fun of him. Now I just regret that I never did ask him to yodel. I should have asked him to yodel.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Life’s Little Regrets. . .

October 18th, 2021

Sie…du…dich…dir…I Have No Idea Which You It Is…

Maybe instead of blaming the cultural homophobia he grew up in, I should consider the language he was born to…

Also…

 

Communication between us was probably doomed from the start.

Now if he was reading this, which I know he isn’t because he told me straight up once that he never reads my blog or looks at my cartoons, he’d probably be getting all ticked off now. For as big a tease as he is he has a really thin skin and hated being teased back. And speaking of language barriers…I think it was sometime during one of my 2014 visits I began to see with clarity that we are just not very compatible personalities.

I was struggling with basic beginner level German and bought a t-shirt at the Epcot Germany gift shop that said “Ich Bin”, which in English is “I am”.  Now, I’m the kid who grew up under the icy cold glare of a bitter Baptist grandmother who despised my dad (and his entire family I later learned) with a venomous passion, and there I was bearing his face and handy for taking it out on because he was clear on the other side of the country and I was right there in arm’s reach. So by the time I started my walk into puberty and had that moment of realization that I’m gay, I already knew there would be people in my life who would hate my guts over something I had no choice about and no control over. So that Ich Bin t-shirt tickled a part of me that’s fiercely defensive of my own unique human identity. I Am. But it did it in a kinda fun way. Or so I thought. I am. No, not German. Not my dad. Not your favorite homosexual stereotype. I am Bruce Garrett. Deal with it. Ich Bin.

And…he could not. I wore the shirt into his restaurant and when we met up I pointed to it and said “Ich Bin…I am”, because I was proud to show him that I knew at least two German words and could put them together. German grammar would later kick me in the teeth and I gave it up, but that was to come later.

He looked at me scornfully, like I was somehow making fun of him, and said, “And what’s funny is you trying to teach me German.”

I must have looked at him like he was a total stranger I’d just run into who happened to look like the guy I’d crushed on madly in high school and it was confusing me. What the fuck man…are you Serious? Did you really think that’s what I was doing? 

Wow…where the hell did That come from? You’re not really the person I thought you were…

Most people experience that moment with their first teenage crush back when they’re teenagers, not when they’re in their 60s. You have a good cry over it, take his picture out of your class notebook, and move on. But while my generation was allowed to see the promise land, most of us could not walk into it. We will always live in a time before Stonewall. So geht es… Looking back on it, and the torrent of abuse we all got thrown at us from every direction, I’m surprised any of us found their other half. No…it wasn’t a language barrier. We were just a couple of gay teens who, in a better world, would have figured it out, gone our separate ways and kept looking. But that was not the world we came of age in.

I still have that t-shirt. And I still wear it proudly.

What I am is what I am
You’re what you are or what?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sie…du…dich…dir…I Have No Idea Which You It Is…

October 15th, 2021

I’m Not High Maintenance, You’re High Maintenance…

I am almost tempted today to do a chart, something like that Good/Evil Lawful/Chaotic chart you see sometimes filled out with various characters from movies and comics. It’s regarding a cynical trope I’ve heard, probably we’ve all heard, a bazillion times about how beauty usually comes with high maintenance. So my chart would have the rows from Chill to High Maintenance, and the columns from Beautiful to Plain. It could be hours of cheap fun filling it out. But on reflection, cynics notwithstanding, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and high maintenance is probably just a matter of mismatched expectations.

I know this about beauty because my ideal of male beauty isn’t that of most of my fellow American gay males, who get all hot and bothered over something I wouldn’t even notice. What gets my heart beating is usually disrespected as pretty, and along with that, stereotyped as weak and vain and probably conniving. But that stereotype I’m convinced, is as much about straight male homophobia as it is about gay male sour grapes.

I’ve witnessed all three of my major life crushes get old, and they’re all still beautiful in my opinion, but only one of them is someone I’d classify as high maintenance, and that in retrospect I think is a good example of that also being in the eye of the beholder.

A German chat BBS I tuned into once had a “You Know You’re German When” thread and one of the entries was “Spontaneity is at two weeks notice.” Tell me about it. It’s a German stereotype that they’re all about order and process and being on time but it’s really they’re terrified of chaos and I’m somewhere in the chaotic good section of those charts. So when I crushed massively on a German guy it was probably doomed from the start, even if we had been living in a better world. Expectations. Decades later we reconnected and almost right away, with all that life experience under my belt, I saw it was not going to be easy just managing a long distance friendship. He was probably never late for work a day in his life, and the invention of flextime was a godsend for me. His idea of a good vacation was a trip to a ski resort and mine is jump in the car and find some new roads to drive and see what’s there. Detailed plans quickly make me feel confined and suffocated, and they probably make him feel safe and secure. But I don’t think either one of us were high maintenance. Just tragically out of phase. Lawful Good does not match well with Chaotic Good, even though both are Good.

He called me “a piece of work” once, and a drama queen another time. Well I’ve met real drama queens, people who could summon a spectacle of Wagnerian scale with a mere raised eyebrow. You could hear the thunder in Valhalla whenever they walked into a room and frowned. I am not worthy. But I guess what he was trying to tell me with all that was I was stressing him out just being me, and never mind the elephant in the room with us. But I can’t not be me. I’ve seen what happens to people like this, creatives with, as David Gerrold once said, minds like a web browser with a thousand tabs opened all at once, who try to stifle themselves in exchange for acceptance. Often they end up dead. Best I can do is try to manage it, and not take it to heart when I start getting those blank stares. A little sympathy every now and then would be helpful. 

I am not beautiful…so I’ve been told…and not very chill either. Unless I’ve got a drink in my hands. But that’s okay. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so as it turns out is chill. What matters I think, is how well matched you are. I’ve crossed paths with couples, gay and straight, both of whom were so high maintenance you’d think they’d be at each other’s throats all the time. But they were on the same page and in phase with each other and they got along. It was everyone else they drove nuts.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I’m Not High Maintenance, You’re High Maintenance…

September 26th, 2021

The Double Edged Knife Of The Mind’s Eye

Some weeks ago this Times Article came across my news stream and provoked some thoughts…even some visualizations…

Many People Have a Vivid ‘Mind’s Eye,’ While Others Have None at All

Scientists are finding new ways to probe two not-so-rare conditions to better understand the links between vision, perception and memory.

Dr. Adam Zeman didn’t give much thought to the mind’s eye until he met someone who didn’t have one. In 2005, the British neurologist saw a patient who said that a minor surgical procedure had taken away his ability to conjure images.

Over the 16 years since that first patient, Dr. Zeman and his colleagues have heard from more than 12,000 people who say they don’t have any such mental camera. The scientists estimate that tens of millions of people share the condition, which they’ve named aphantasia, and millions more experience extraordinarily strong mental imagery, called hyperphantasia.

I would probably fit pretty well in the latter category. I can almost completely zone out into a daydream that’s almost like a vivid dream in its detail. And I can do that at will. It’s a two edged knife. And I think I’ve met people who have no mind’s eye at all. They’re the ones that mystify me when they tell me that they don’t dream.

When working on a cartoon, be it a political cartoon or an episode of A Coming Out Story, I do next to no preliminary drawings. I might draw out a figure just to make sure I can actually draw it the way I want it on paper, but I already know how I want it to look on paper. I can visualize it clearly, in detail. I think out a cartoon or a painting, sometimes off and on for days. I can see it vividly in my head. By the time I sit down at the drafting table to actually start drawing it I know exactly what I want to put down on the paper. It’s very rare that I have to change direction once I begin to see it on paper.

In episode 19 of A Coming Out Story, I made reference to my ability to disappear into my own alternate worlds…

My daydreaming really is this vivid…

I used to think everyone can do this. And there are times it’s helpful in a practical way. Like when I’m thinking out a home repair job, or something I want to build for myself. But it can also be a trap. As I point out at the end of episode 19.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Double Edged Knife Of The Mind’s Eye

August 7th, 2021

I Once Was Lost, But Now I’ve Found…Coffee…

Well…and friendships. Serious good if not untroubled friendships that I still hold dear.

One of the Facebook groups I follow is titled You Know You Grew Up In Rockville Maryland If You… It’s a nostalgia group for Boomers such as myself who remember what Rockville used to look like prior to the 80s/90s. A piece of that history, for me, is looking like a smile with its front teeth knocked out. A church actually, that mom and I used to attend back when I was a little Baptist boy. But by the time The Lost And Found opened it’s church basement doors, I was already pretty far down the path toward agnosticism. 

These photos were probably taken sometime in the summer of 1972…

The Lost and Found was a Jesus Kids coffee shop and hangout in the basement of the old First Baptist Church in Rockville on Jefferson Street, a short distance from the old post office. In 1971 the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar was released, and along with Godspell spawned a movement of mostly nice, sincere, longhaired counter culture Christianity. Mom and I were members of that Baptist Church, and I often hung out there back in the day with my camera. In retrospect I should have documented more of it when I had the chance. It was a scene that didn’t last very long in it’s most innocent and pure form. 

The Lost And Found is important in my personal history because of two friends that I first met there, one of whom I still keep in regular contact with, the other, who lived on South Washington Street, I desperately wish I had. (If you ever read this…please say ‘Hi’…)

The Lost and Found was in a strange bit of architecture that connected the old chapel to the newer Sunday School rooms and church offices. There were dressing rooms for the choir and a passageway from there to doors on either side of the choir loft. The basement The Lost and Found settled into seemed a mostly abandoned space. There was an old Coke machine, a small Formica and chrome dining table and what must have been a first of its kind back in the day, electric “monitor top” refrigerators there. Also good people. Very good people. Better often, than the ones sitting in the pews upstairs.

That part of the church is now a driveway…

I don’t know if you can appreciate the shock I felt when I first laid eyes on what had happened to it. But as I said before, Rockville does this to itself. A driveway was probably the least obnoxious thing they could have done to it.

The chapel was torn down sometime ago. The red brick building you see on the right there was built in its place, and is currently up for sale. Maybe they’ll tear it down and build something else there. The only thing left of what once was is the Sunday School building, there on the left, that was converted to offices and given something of a face lift. If you look at the stonework by the entrance stairs and compare you can see where they cleaved it from the part The Lost And Found was in. How they managed that was probably a pretty good trick because there were hallways and stairwells connecting the parts together. Some shoring up had to have happened before they built that wall.

For several years after I met him there, the parking lot across the street served us as a rendezvous. The day they build something there I may never set foot in Rockville again. But that at least looks pretty safe. For now.

A Facebook friend remarked upon finding himself in a town that seemed to be populated with nothing but earnest young Jesus kids, that he’d feel uncomfortable settling there because he could reckon how they would treat him as a gay man. I commented that I could see myself living in a town full of 1971 Jesus kids, except I remembered how it all went down after it became co-opted by the worst humans imaginable…people like Moses David…and I’d be afraid that I’d have to watch it all happen again. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Once Was Lost, But Now I’ve Found…Coffee…

July 17th, 2021

However, Some Things Are Hard To Parody

Some years ago I had a dream one morning just before waking. I was watching some sort of music video channel and it was broadcasting a collection of videos themed as “The Descendants Of PDQ Bach.” So you had PDQ Moby, and PDQ Mantovani, and PDQ Yanni, and PDQ Vangelis and PDQ Horner, and so on and it was hilarious.

Somehow my dreaming brain was able to construct believable parodies of all their musical tropes and it was so funny I woke up laughing. Of course now I couldn’t remember any of the actual tunes, but I still vaguely remember PDQ Mantovani’s easy listening rendering of a Celine Dion song that was itself a parody of something Dion might have sung that cracked me up.

Someone should do this.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on However, Some Things Are Hard To Parody

February 26th, 2021

The Beatles 2525: I Want To Hold Your Robot Hand

Just shoot me now…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Beatles 2525: I Want To Hold Your Robot Hand


Zeno’s Race To The Vaccine

Bunch of friends tried to help me get a vaccine appointment today. I got leads on almost half a dozen possible locations/companies/mass vaccination sites. I love my friends!

Were any available where I was pointed to? Not a single one. It seems by the time knowledge gets to me, however it does, they’re already booked solid. But I really do appreciate the thought.

I’ve had some almost excessively good luck in my life. But there are these recurring situations where I am always falling through the cracks. My love life for example. Mental health not being so great, but not so bad as to warrant any support. Not artsy enough to be taken seriously as an artist, and not nerdy enough to be taken seriously as a computer professional. I tend to bore people and I get talked over a lot. I feel most of the time like I’m some sort of misplaced inventory. Like I’m really not supposed to be here. This seems to be another one of those things.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Zeno’s Race To The Vaccine

February 25th, 2021

Life In A Plague Reality Show…

I’m out for my evening walk as I’m desperately trying to stay active in some limited fashion while trying to avoid the plague, and and I’m thinking that either this plague or social isolation is going to get me, one or the other, and suddenly I realize Firesign Theater only played the last half of that show Beat The Reaper…the part where one lucky contestant has to guess what fatal disease they have, and Beeeet The Reaper!

But the first half is a dozen lucky contestants get to run through a spray mist of some deadly disease and race to get the vaccine. 12 lucky contestants, but only 6 doses of vaccine! But it’s okay dear friends, because the odds of actually contracting this weeks’ disease is only 50-50. Last week it was Ebola and almost all our lucky contestants managed to Beat The Reaper.

Let’s have a big round of applause for this week’s lucky contestants! (music plays) Who knows what this week’s racers will have to face. Maybe they’ll make it to the shots in time! They’ll only find out when they get to the vaccine station and try to grab a seat before the others do. Maybe the rest won’t even catch the disease!

(Clock music plays…)

Oh I’m sorry…you didn’t Beat The Reaper. But aren’t they a swell bunch of contestants. (music plays) Let’s let them see the consolation prize, brought to us here on Beat The Reaper by our favorite sponsor, Ralph Spoilsport coffins…the World’s Largest New Used and Used New coffins here in the city of (deep breath) emphysema.

Let’s just look at the extras on this fabulous coffin…star studded mud guards, chrome fender dents, wire wheel spoke coffin dollies, two-way sneeze through air vents, sponge coated edible coffin handles, fully factory equipped satin cushions from our fully factory equipped satin cushioned factory. Yes dear friends it’s a beautiful coffin with doors to match! Birtch’s Blacklist says this coffin was Stolen, but for you dear friends complete price: only two-thousand-ninety-five hundred dollars in easy monthly payments of twenty dollars a week twice a week and never on Sunday! (music plays…audience applause)

Why isn’t this a reality show we can watch now? It’ll be a ratings hit!

Oh wait…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Life In A Plague Reality Show…

December 16th, 2020

Winter Driving Tip

A co-worker put this up on her Facebook page…

 

Auto-Correct strikes again! But this actually works. Pretend you have a lovely quadruple decker frosted layer cake on the front seat you just spent big bucks on for someone’s birthday…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Winter Driving Tip

November 27th, 2020

Great Deals Are Out There!

Black Friday Shoppers: We’ve reduced the mileage on this fabulous vehicle ONE DAY ONLY!!! Hurry before this offer ends!

 

Stolen from a Mercedes page I follow on Facebook. Black Friday is an Even Better day to stay cocooned at home than either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Plague or no.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Great Deals Are Out There!

June 10th, 2020

From Our Department Of Imponderable Things

Continuing my Facebook Memories from my Disney World Vacation of 2015…this final snapshot flew by this morning…

At least this blog doesn’t throw the past back in my face unless I go looking for it. How do things go from all warm smiles and cheerful carefree conversation to mutually assured friendship destruction in just under a year?

I appreciate that I can be intense and hard to handle from time to time, but by 2015 he’d already know that and we were still good. I have close friends who know me from our grade school days and they’re all use to me. I get exuberant. I get moody. I get quiet. I will talk your ears off. Yeah I chatted with him a bunch in email. But he always answered back. He seemed to like hearing from me. Like when I passed him technical details of the German diesel emissions scandal, or that Youtube of a couple guys drinking German beer laced with helium. He loved it. I geek out about things that interest me. But they interested him too. We had so many mutual interests. Space. Technology. Current events…we were on the same page there. Sometimes he’d tell me to just get to the point. Everybody tells me that. I don’t just explain things, I tell stories. Discovery is the joy of life. The journey is the point too. I wear my heart on my sleeve. He’d seen all that since high school. He saw sides of me that nobody else sees. He knew me. Either he was faking it, and every smile he ever gave me, or something really got to him that spring in 2016.

I can’t believe he was faking it. None of my theories add up. He just blew up at me. And I did too because it wasn’t fair. And that was that. I’ll probably never know what it was. Maybe if he’d told me what it was I would have stayed home that time and let it pass and we’d still be talking. Maybe. But it’s probably for the best.

That’s a really small comfort zone you have there.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on From Our Department Of Imponderable Things

April 19th, 2020

What Pollen Should Have Already Taught Us About Touching Your Face

Wrote a very important letter today, and went to mail it off. Once outside I see that my car is covered in pollen. It’s that time of year here in the Mid Atlantic. I’m thinking as I get into the car that not touching your face and eyes with your fingers should be standard operating procedure during pollen season anyway…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on What Pollen Should Have Already Taught Us About Touching Your Face

March 29th, 2020

I Love My City

Took a socially safe walk around my little Baltimore neighborhood. It’s grey and damp and chilly this morning, but at least for now while we’re allowed outside I need my walks. It’s not hard to stay a safe distance from everyone. Most folks outside these days are walking their dogs.

This was new…

 

My first thought was somebody’s trying to upstage one of Hampden’s neighborhood easter eggs, the legendary David Bowie bust. I’ll keep a watch to see if the window dressing changes.

I love my city..

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Love My City

February 8th, 2020

Smartass Phone

Listening to my iTunes library while doing my cardio therapy workout. I queue up the Swing playlist. While I’m on the most difficult (for me) machine, the iPhone helpfully starts playing Glenn Miller’s take on Song Of The Volga Boatmen

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Smartass Phone

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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