Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Vatican Has a New Dome

And I thought the Catholic Church had cornered the market on pedophile cover ups. From PageOneQ:

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) issued a statement Saturday in which he said that he had informed Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) of allegations of improper contacts between then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and at least one former male page, contradicting earlier statements from Hastert.

GOP sources said Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February GOP leadership elections. Hastert's response to Reynolds' warning remains unclear.

Hastert's staff insisted Friday night that he was not told of the Foley allegations and are scrambling to respond to Reynolds' statement.

Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL), resigned yesterday after it was discovered that he'd been involved in sexual electronic exchanges with minors, in this case congressional pages on the Hill. Though he is a gay man, he was not a favorite of gay rights advocates. As a closeted gay Republican, Foley voted for the Defense of Marriage Act. Anything to stay in office, right?

I won't publish his e-mails to Hill pages (too graphic for this site). Here is ABC's video coverage. They mention some of the tamer but still incredibly creepy parts.

And here (from the St. Petersburg Times) is what Foley had to say about Clinton back in 1998.

"It's vile," said Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach. "It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction."

UPDATE:Now it appears that it was known Foley had a thing for underage pages five years ago and no one did a thing to protect them.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Colorado is Starting to Look Pretty Good

If/when John and I leave Indiana we still want to be near family and friends. Colorado has been on our radar screen for some time as a potential destination.

Here are some reasons:

1. My sister Christie is quietly determined to move there someday in the not so distant future. Living in Colorado has been a dream of hers for a long time and in my experience, quiet determination is all my sister needs to get most things done. I assume that Kevin, my brother-in-law, will have the good sense to go with her when the time comes.

2. John's brother Ben and his wife Lise also are looking at Colorado. They are athletic and politically progressive. Colorado's open-mindedness and lifestyle ops appeal to them, as they do to John and me, however unlike Ben, we won't be competing in any triathalons anytime soon. I did once dream of organizing an alternative to the Iron Man competition called the Tin Man. The Tin Man would include timed bike races to nearby donut shops, but that is as far as I've gotten with an event description.

It has been 18 years since my sister and I lived in the same town. John loves his brother as much as I love my sister. We think all of us living in the same state would be a blast.

Then there is this kind of shocking news from the The Baptist Press:

A proposed constitutional marriage amendment in Colorado is supported by 52 percent of registered voters, according to a Rocky Mountain News/CBS 4 poll of 500 voters Sept. 10-12. Forty-two percent of voters oppose the amendment, which would protect the natural definition of marriage by preventing state courts from legalizing "gay marriage." It is known as Referendum 43.

Meanwhile, Referendum I, which would grant same-sex couples many of the legal benefits of marriage, is supported by voters by a margin of 58-38 percent, according to the same poll.

Nearly one in five voters plan to vote for both initiatives, the Rocky Mountain News reported.

So what would this mean for a family like ours?

Well, once you steer around loaded terms like "*natural definition of marriage" you'll notice that many of the same benefits of marriage are likely to be awarded to same-sex couples who request them. The term marriage would not be applied and it is unclear to me which protections would still be denied.

It turns out that while many straight people in Colorado are squeamish at the thought of calling what John and I have a marriage, they don't really want to leave us hanging when times get tough either. By the way, some gay people (not us) also squirm at the use of the term "marriage" to describe their long-term commitments, but not for the same reasons as the Focus on the Family crowd. Some same-sex couples balk at the word because of its association with what they perceive as shallow, unbalanced, and sometimes opportunistic heterosexual commitments, about half of which don't last. Still, I suspect that even these gay couples would appreciate having the same chance to protect their unions.

So while Colorado is not likely to offer full equality any time soon, their solution is a sight better than we are likely to see here, and, of course, you also have the Rockies, which while not quite as wonderful as the Ozarks, would offer some really nice scenery. People probably think I'm kidding about my bias toward the Arkansas hills, but what the Ozarks lack in stature they make up for in magical character. Anyway, November will prove whether or not the West will be won.

*Marriage doesn't exist outside our species and is not a biologically determined state. Besides, if marriage was truly "natural" like say the law of gravity, protecting it would be unnecessary since it could not be changed-- sorry for getting off topic, but BP's use of the term "natural" here bugs me.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

True Confessions

Duane forwarded me a tip on former New Jersey governor James McGreevey's new book, The Confession. Duane knew I was obsessed with this story when it unfolded last year--popular governor, married to a woman, actually divorced one woman and then married another. Then threatened with what sounded like extortion by his former male lover, an Israeli national, McGreevey announced on TV that he was gay and would resign from his governership.

Matt Lauer's interview with McGreevey, which you can view at Pageoneq here is a shining example of the poor decisions that gay men married to straight women make-anonymous sex in parks, bathrooms, etc. Did you ever wonder who would be insane enough to have sex in parks? Well, there are the young straight couples, and prostitutes and their Johns, and then gay men who are so uncomfortable with their sexuality that their only recourse is to find people in the same boat.

McGreevey's story is a sad but common one. In fact, did you read about the recent New York health department study that found 10% of 'straight men' in NY are having sex with other men?!

From 365gay:

And of that 10 percent, almost 70 percent of them were married.

Say what? you ask. Read on:

Compared to men who identified themselves as gay, the "straight" men who had sex with other men were more likely to belong to a minority racial or ethnic group, be foreign-born, have a lower educational level, and live outside Manhattan...Most worrisome the group was less likely to have been tested for HIV infection during the previous year and less likely to have used a condom during the last sexual encounter than men who identified themselves as gay.

Single women should realize that not all men who are attracted to men think of themeselves as gay. Often this is because in their head 'gay' means dressing or acting a certain way that doesn't fit how they see themselves. When I came out I remember telling an older gay friend of mine, "I don't know how to be gay." He told me, "Troy, being gay doesn't mean acting a certain way. It means being yourself." This is not always the message the media sends.

In any case, it is not enough to ask a potential spouse if they are straight or not. Maybe ask him to tell you about the people he has had physical relationships with, or even if he has had sex with men. The shame that certain social environments, family structures, religious beliefs place on same-sex attracted people is powerful. Often people living within these systems will stay in denial unless pried out. McGreevey's former wife says she had no idea her husband was gay. She's lucky to be alive.

When society stops shaming, demeaning, and devaluing people for being gay, when the families of gay people decide to support rather than ostricize their gay children for something they cannot change and did not choose, this kind of risky behavior is likely to diminish.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Don't Hit Animals or Humans

I'm still mulling over the sandwich incident. There was a time, before I’d taken in over 1300 hours of animal shows on The Learning Channel, that I thought spanking seemed like a perfectly reasonable option for dogs. I know; I’m the devil. These days, however, animal behaviorists are pretty certain corporal correction hurts dogs more than it helps them. By the way, if you are someone who still disciplines your dog with physical punishment, I'll let you in on a little secret: people probably assume you also run Pit Bull fights out of your garage on weekends to support a nasty meth habit-- just so you know.

So I don’t hit animals (or humans in case you’re wondering). I feel the need to be clear on this point since somewhere along the line I have acquired a reputation for having a violent temper. A temper? Guilty. Violent, only if you happen to tap into the 39 year-old reservoir of angry gay man, which, by the way, is just down the street from somewhat disillusioned evangelical and across the road from mildly irritable selfish second sibling.

I clarify my temperamant because once I relayed news of an earlier food snatching to my friend Dave, who has, in my view, an unhealthy need to be the sole object of Claire’s affection to the point that he lays down with her on our furry floor to spoon, repeating over and over to me as I watch that Claire has no love for anyone greater than her adoration of him. Isn’t this just what the religious right fears will happen if you grant the gays marriage rights?

My memory's a little fuzzy, but he wasn’t spooning with Claire during my retelling of her earlier smash and grab. He was making a fall wreath. Upon word of her transgression, Dave gingerly placed the hot glue gun he’d been using to attach red and orange berries to the wreath on the table, turned to me and with a drawn back accusatory glare that would have made Norma Desmond proud, shrieked, “You didn’t hit her, did you?” I told him that the nail-studded driver I normally use to discipline Claire when she makes a “poor choice” was at the pro shop.

I don't hit animals or humans, but I'm starting to realize that even when I'm tempted to club something the gentlest response is likely to be the correct one. Claire's walks are an example. They are typically peaceful, occassionally jaunty affairs. She ignores most dogs. I can tell when she sees a cat that she imagines chasing it down, but these are fleeting fantasies quickly dismissed. If a squirrel, however, so much as picks its nose in a tree three blocks away every muscle in Claire's body starts to twitch and twinge. Sometimes she'll flip her body and walk on her two hind legs while trying to pry the leash from around her nose. Since autumn is turning our streets into a squirrely Klondike full of fallen acorns her behavior has gotten increasingly problematic. I lie to alarmed passersby and tell them she suffers from Turrets.

I tried ignoring her behavior, pulling her through the episode like the good pack leader, saying with each tug of her leash, "we don't have time for this. We have to migrate to food, which happens to be at the house we just left 30 minutes ago." I tried holding her face in my hand to break the squirrel spell. No luck.

Finally, this morning I asked myself, "What if she can't help this? I know she's supposed to be ready to do whatever we as her pack leaders ask at any time, but what would happen if I just followed her lead on the squirrel thing?" So when we came upon our first squirrel who was sitting on a tree limb 15 feet above us I gave Claire the slack in her leash. She raced to the base of the tree, sat down, stared at the squirrel for 5 seconds and then stood back up to move on with her walk.

I felt ridiculous. Three weeks of incessant doggie mind games trying to figure out how to get her to move through the squirrel fits, and all she needed was to look at one for a few seconds. I wonder how many other challenges in my life have such simple solutions.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Dog Shouter

John went to Bible study, so I was on my own for supper tonight. I fixed a couple of peanut butter sandwiches. This shouldn’t impress you. But in the time it took for me to walk from the counter where they lay to the cabinet that holds our plates Claire had snagged one of the sandwiches and eaten half of it. Two, three seconds tops from grab to drop. Now that’s impressive. Even more impressive is the nerve she showed when I turned to catch her red-handed. She looked me in the eye, dropped the mauled sandwich and pranced out into the living room as if her nonchalance might convince me that I hadn’t seen her eat half my dinner. All of this happened only minutes after she’d eaten an entire bowl of her own food.

Claire and I have discussed before that all of her paws should be on the floor most of the time. Acceptable exceptions are when her belly needs rubbing or when she’s located some especially wretched mess to coat herself in during our absence. Additionally, I’ve mentioned to Claire, frequently in fact, using many words that begin and end with hard consonants like “don’t” and “dammit,” that her feet accomplish nothing of value when propped up on cabinets. Now, as slow waves of deep disappointment erupt from my bowels, hanging in the air like thunderclouds, Claire stares past me, ears twitching back and forth with a level of disinterest equal to that of an eye-rolling teenager. It is a response I’ve seen from her before.

No matter how earnestly I explain all the reasons why the same tongue she uses to lick her ass should not be licking my food, nothing in my nonsensical blahbity-blah-blahs convinces her that a clean sweep of the counter when given the chance isn’t a good idea. In fact, quite the opposite has proven true for her in the past. I must confess that, like Claire, I too find doggie dialogue ridiculous. I know she doesn’t understand a word I say. She knows she doesn’t understand a word I say. I can’t be the only one wondering what the point of all the noise is. So, what to do?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ann Richards: A REAL Texas Politican Gets Her Wings

I lived in Texas back in the early 1990s when Ann was governor. She was honest, clever, brave, and worked hard to do the right thing. All traits lacking in G. W. Bush, the man who replaced her as governor. He made it very easy to leave Texas, but then he became president, and well, its been difficult to avoid his ravaging lack of skills ever since.

Ann made Texas government for everyone, opening it up to women and people of color:

From the Indianapolis Star:

She grabbed the national spotlight with her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention when she was the Texas state treasurer. Richards won cheers from delegates when she reminded them that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, "only backwards and in high heels."

Richards sealed her partisan reputation with a blast at George H. Bush, a fellow Texan who was vice president at the time: "Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

Sins of the father I guess. I miss humor in politics. It is a completely underutilized tool in the Democratic party. Oh for a world where Democrats could come out shootin' with fact-based smacks and still win!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Number of Families with Children Headed by Same-sex Couples

From Reuters:

There were 161,000 families with children headed by same-sex couples in the U.S. as of 2000, the first year this statistic was recorded.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Let Us Remember 9-11-01"

That was the quote on a sign in front of St. Michaels and All Angels church, which John and I walked past last night during a walk with his mom. The sign irked me, but I'm not sure why.

Is it because the phrase "let us," is typically reserved as an invitation to prayer in the English language. So let us pray what about 9-11? For the still grieving familes? Absolutely, but then Let Us Remember 4-19-95, the date of the Oklahoma City bombing, as well as 12-7-41. Did those immense tragedies translate to plastic letters on church signs, those pithy distillations of "Christian" values, five years later? And are we really in danger of forgetting 9-11? Memories of that day are as clear for me as those from last week.

The cynical part of me (my friend Marc said he wants to create bumper stickers that say "cynical is the new happy"), suspects its author means, "Let Us Pray that God Smokes 'Em Out and Kills Every Iraqi Insurgent." This prayer will be said in unconditional love, of course, and despite the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. Or perhaps for the more informed its "Let Us Pray that God Helps the U.S. Capture Osama Bin Laden and His Kind" or "Let Us Pray that Whoever Dares to Commit Heinous Crimes on American Soil Again Be Brought to Justice."

I'm fine with those last two, and that one about bin Laden still needs answering, for sure and should be expanded to include the legion of Osama wannabes coming up behind him. Too bad the majority of our troops and an increasing amount of our military resources are tied up in Iraq in ways that detract from those efforts.

Now ABC/Disney wants to air what Pam Spaulding calls the "factually inaccurate, Bush-stroking terror porn, Path to 9/11." ABC admitted that it has dramatized some of the events in order to make them more dramatic. Yes, let's do remember 9-11, but let's at least try to remember it accurately, because one thing I do remember is that "factual errors" in the days after 9-11 led us straight into Iraq and a quagmire that is quickly bleeding America dry.

But maybe I'm wrong about the sign makers motives. Could it be that this is what the author of the sign at St. Michael's had in mind?

"Lord, we are still hurting from all of the things that happened on 9-11. Death came to our doorstep and claimed scores of us at once in a way that we could not imagine before. Calling home in one violent day a chunk of America--people of all races, religions, political leanings, sexual identities, rich and poor--a small world. We can hardly believe it happened even today.

Help us to remember that the United States--still beautiful, unique, and strong--is now officially as vulnerable as any other place on this planet. Please let our more clearly articulated status as a world citizen fill us with humility, not fear; compassion, not suspicion; wisdom, not revenge.

Give us the grace to make choices that reflect the highest of our values, not knee-jerk reactions and ignorance. Let us know you as the balm of Gilead, patching us up, strengthening us, helping us to live on in calling and in love. Amen."

Even if it wasn't the sign maker's intent, this is my prayer, and I guess I have St. Michaels church to thank for encouraging me to get on my knees.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Utilikilts Deconstructed

As I explored the boring side of men's fashion over the last few days I ran across Utilikilts, their homepage is here. The photos below are from their site.

I gotta tell you, they work for me. I don't necessarily mean for me to wear, but at least for me to admire. Why do they work? For the same reason they worked for Egyptian pharoahs, warriors in the Congo, and, though I'm no big fan of his, Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

Stylistically, I think they work the way that a guy wearing a towel or shorts with a long-sleeved shirt wrapped around his waist do. Utilikilts typically produce an inverted 'V' from the waist down that mirrors the 'V' formed from a guy's shoulders to his waist.

One should give the same attention to what Utilikilt to wear as one would any lower-body covering. For instance, though I like the fit of the green one in the first photo, the color doesn't appeal to me. I'd like to see him in a brown or khaki one. And if you look at the little guy behind him, you see how wrong things can go. The pattern, probably his family plaid, in that cut (too high above the knee) makes it look like a man's torso has been placed on the legs of a Catholic school girl. The plaid one is not a Utilikilt I don't think.

The desert camo look in the second photograph is kind of interesting. As with the utilikilted man above, a wide belt is a must. I hope these guys are twins. Otherwise, there's really no excuse for the matching boots (and socks).

Evidently, Utilikilts are here to stay for awhile. They were born in Seattle about six years ago. They are supposed to be very comfortable and practical. Cool (grunge scene standard issue) and geeky (popular at Renaissance fairs) at the same time, I enjoy looking at them in the right setting. What do you think?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Growing Sense Enters the Terrible Twos: Bad Seed Born

Can't believe its been two years already. I thought I'd share some of the random thoughts that have run through my head about this blog since its birth.


You're too angry. People don't want angry. Be funny. It's a blog, not Scarborough Country.

It's my blog. I'll be angry if I want. Writing about rage is more interesting than tapping the bumper of that Hummer that just cut me off.

Is it though? The missing paint on the Grand Am screams 'Nothing to lose.' And the look of terror in that soccer mom's eyes has to be worth something.

God is not the author of fear.

If it's good enough for your president, it's good enough for you.


Jenny is so nice on her blog. And funny. And she has all of those cakes. I should have more cakes on my blog. I love cake. Even when I eat a LOT of cake, like maybe half of a big one, I don't feel guilty. That was one of the best things about being single, wasn't it? Someone would give me a cake and I'd take half of it home and have it all to myself. Cake for breakfast, cake for lunch, then for dessert. Cake, cake, cake. Feel bad? Nope, no shame about food. Wasn't that one of the lessons I learned in the 90s? That and how to buy clothes for the "husky" guy. I can't breathe or walk too well when I eat half a cake, but I can sit down and eat more cake.


'Highheels'? Who is that? And why is she ripping into me because I don't know the difference between body building and 'figure competing.' She's never even commented here before. Figure competing--I bet she just made that up. What is it, tiny, bulked up women posing in spaghetti straps and then hoofin' it to Smoothie King? I should tell her to come back when the 'roid rage passes. Hmm...I wonder if she could track me down. I could probably take her. She said she was only like 5' something. If she does come here, she'll be pulling a stiletto out of her behind. "'Figure' this, Highheels! You don' know me." John might have to hold her. Better check the batteries in the alarm system."


No one's commenting on that post.

So? I don't write for comments. I write for myself.

Sure ya do.

It's true! The minute you live for comments you start editing yourself too much to be interesting.


Oh Thank God, someone commented.