Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Maoy Christmas


I belatedly discovered that the artsy genius who decorated the "Holiday Tree" inside the White House included balls that carried not only the image of a drag queen and of Obama as the fourth president on Mt. Rushmore, but of Chairman Mao.

On the tree. In the White House. At Christmas.

I quote Mark Steyn by way of comment:
If you say, “Chairman Mao? Wasn’t he the wacko who offed 70 million Chinks?”, you’ll be hounded from public life for saying the word “Chinks.” But, if you commend the murderer of those 70 million as a role model in almost any school room in the country from kindergarten to the Ivy League, it’s so entirely routine that only a crazy like Glenn Beck would be boorish enough to point it out.

Which is odd, don’t you think? Because it suggests that our present age of politically correct hypersensitivity is not just morally unserious but profoundly decadent.


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Enlightened despots




It has been puzzling to me to see the role that fabulously wealthy Westerners play in the dissolution of the West via progressive politics. Ted Turner and George Soros come to mind right away, along with all the rich of Hollywood. Why do these people, who have so benefited from Western capitalism and freedom, take such a contemptuous attitude toward it? They are far more likely to have an open ear for and use their influence to support people like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and movements like Hamas and the whole panoply of murderous Muslim jihadis than they are to even have a civil dialogue with their own countrymen on the right.

I am no expert on the French Revolution, but it seems to me that there are historical precedents for this in the salons of Paris which fostered the ideas of the Enlightenment. Were not many of these people aristocrats? And when the French Enlightenment issued in the French Revolution, how many of them were swept away by it?

As well, several very powerful rulers of the time --Catherine of Russia, Franz Josef of Austria, to name two-- combined an affection for the liberationist and anti-traditional writings of the philosophes with a completely traditional and monarchical devotion to their own power. "Enlightened despots" is what they are called. Mouthing the slogans of freedom, they did what tyrants always do, amassed power and wealth.

So maybe our current cultural and political masters, including the superrich, do have a historical precedent.


_____________________

What is that?

Whilst having my morning coffee and a slice of pannetone, I realize that my stomach is tight. I am not sure why.

Is it reading about the endlessly feckless and hapless response of the West to the Jihad? Is it that my guy is away for a few days and I miss him? Is it that I am likely going to be carless? Is it the attendant loss of mobility and money? Is it the work meeting coming up this morning, about which I am pretty well out of good ideas? Is it the sense of fragility and dependence that a lot of these things bring up in me?

Dunno, but the tightness is definitely there.

__________________

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Highmindedness

In the wake of the recent attempt by a Nigerian Muslim to blow up 300 of us, I hear on the news that the TSA affirms that it rejects any form of ethnic or religious profiling.

Why, pray?

PS. Ann Coulter puts it bluntly, as usual.

and PPS. Why do we not take a cue from the Israelis, who have a lot of experience with this stuff?



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Theodicy again

An old theologian friend of mine said that the question of God was not really about His existence. He felt that the existence of God was practically self-evident. The real question, he said, was this: Is He friendly?

Results so far are mixed.

I have been, and am, grateful, very, to have a chance to build a relationship with The Boyo. A major reason to decide for "friendly."

Sed contra, as Thomas Aquinas would say, there's my carma. I have terrible luck with cars. In the last 11-12 years that I have owned cars, they have been involved in a lot of accidents. Two of them were while moving, but I was neither driving nor in the car at the time. My ex was.

All the other mishaps, break-ins, thefts entire, and, most often, body damage came while the cars were sitting, parked on a local street, absent a driver.

Latest thrill. A drunk driver sideswiped my latest parked vehicle, bought used 2 years ago to replace the other one that was stolen and stripped. He also ran away from the scene. While I was waiting for the police report so I could report that to the insurance company, the battery gave out. I took it to a local garage and they had to do some extra work on the breaks and electricals to the tune of $540.

Today the insurance adjuster looked at my just-repaired vehicle's body damage and told me it was likely going to be written off as a total loss.

So I will likely lose my car, one I just threw money at, and get a check small enough to make buying another one unlikely.

A major effing inconvenience which I ascribe to the Deity, along with all my carkarma, and so here He's rates an "unfriendly."

___________________

Only whites can be racist

or not.

One more self-destructive pattern among African-Americans.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Unexpected laughter


I fell asleep on the couch and woke to a hagiographical TV bio of Louisa May Alcott, of Little Women fame. Feisty dame, apparently.

After she became famous and wealthy --much deserved for the incredible amount of work she did, even if not for the quality of it-- she sometimes took part in dramatic presentations for fun. They enacted her doing a piece I found laugh-out-loud funny. As I say, I was waking up from a nap and so I quote from memory and surely inaccurately. Opening the show, she declaims:
I have the honor to present the evil Lord Billious Mudd, nemesis to our heroine, Lady Bodica Battle-ax, who will achieve fame in the one occupation throughout history that has always been been open, without qualification, to women: martyrdom.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Kitchen, before and after

The eternal struggle between chaos and order, Dionysian and Apollonian, cooking and cleaning up, played out on the mundane Christmas plane.

We had spicy shrimp, sauteed duck liver with lemon, and creamy Gorgonzola on Italian bread slices, followed by roast duckling with orange sauce, baked potatoes and yams, broccolini, along with two kinds of champagne, followed up by homemade-from-scratch Nonna's Italian Christmas cookies and Klondike bars. Oh, and a shot of Stronachi 12-year single-malt, for health.

Last night





This morning*




*Buying that portable dish washer was one of the most lifestyle enhancing things I ever did!


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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve




Word become flesh, dwelling among us.






Puer natus est nobis
et filius datus est nobis
cujus imperium super humerum ejus
et vocabitur nomen ejus
magni consilii angelus.

A child is born for us
and a son is given to us
whose rule is upon his shoulder
and his name shall be called
angel of great counsel.

Isaiah 9.6

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Acceptance, or not




A note from a friend reminded me that, back in 2007, for some reason, my mother decided that I was not homosexual.

I was incredulous. I have changed my mind, my attitudes and my behavior about a lot of things, but one thing that seems bedrock true of me is that where sex is concerned, men are concerned.
She refused to give reasons or discuss her pronouncement and I was left to wonder, "What the hell is she thinking?"

Well, it appears that things are back to how they used to be. When I was at home last month, she prefaced a comment about something else with the phrase, "As you know, I am not thrilled about your lifestyle.."

Unless she means impecunity, about which I am also not thrilled, I guess, with The Boyo so clearly in the picture, she's remembered how things are.

________________________

Shrinking

One of my regular reads is Shrinkwrapped, a shrink back East who sees the world in much the same way that I do.

He notes a phenomenon which I have used in arguing about the governmental take-over of healthcare.
Progressives imagine that government workers, free from the evil profit motive, are able to perform their selfless functions for the good of their subjects, unworried by the need to save money to line the pockets of their masters. Why so few Progressives are able to generalize from their experiences at the DMV remains a mystery for another time...
Government health care? Your life will be in the hands of the very same folks who run the DMV.

--------------------

Monday, December 21, 2009

Taste




I am finishing up the bottle of Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey I got as a gift from Himself on his return from Ireland and Scotland in the summer.

Rich, very peaty spirit, strong but smooth on the tongue, lively and dense in the nose.

In many ways, I have lived my life backwards. An old friend mine once told me that I was born an old man, but would spend my life getting younger and younger. Sometimes I think he was right.

One of the ways I feel younger is that I seek refuge less and less in great ideas and grand schemes and pay more and more grateful and focussed attention to the particular, the temporal, the ordinary, the material: a shot of whiskey, the brief smell of the Pacific in the afternoon wind, my lover's left shoulder.

__________________

Query

Is there much of anything in the progressive agenda which is not about the extension of state power over more and more of life?

Case in point: San Francisco.

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Jewish superiority







Jews are good at lots of things. But I don't know if there is any competition for the self-hatred prize. Jewish self-hatred is unique.

A stunning example:

Israeli sociologist condemns Israeli soldiers for NOT raping Palestinian women during battles. A sign that the Israelis are so racist that they think Palestinian women are not good enough to rape...

No, I am not kidding.

HT to Pajamas Media.

On the other hand.

I am interested in how groups survive and how they dissolve or are conquered or replaced.

Part of what has kept Jews a surviving and separate group is their own internal religious laws and the hatred of their neighbors. Halakha and anti-Semitism. In a place like America, most Jews gave up observance, and the benevolent attitudes of this country have produced a massive amount of intermarriage with Gentiles and consequent weakening of Jewish identity.

I watched a documentary called A Life Apart, about Hasidic Jews in America. I used to live in Brooklyn, right on the line between a Puerto Rican and Hasidic neighborhood, so a lot of the images were familiar. I thought the documentary was pretty respectful of the Hasidim, but a few contrary voices were included, of course. What struck me was that the items that outsiders found unappealing were probably crucial to the continuance and cohesion of this religious group: an unapologetic sense of specialness and superiority. It's not fun to be on the receiving end of this kind of smug attitude*, but that's too bad, I suppose. A small value compared to the continuance of a people who were almost wiped out the last century.

Some folks wanted the Hasids to get off their high horse and mix with everyone else. Well, what appears to be egalitarianism (and is) is also a crypto-superiority, the way in which general culture asserts its own specialness precisely by denying it.

One of my big and sad impressions about the West is that we have lost our instinct, our unapologetic sense of our right to be who we are. We do not assert ourselves without explanation. This indicates a deeper loss of will and self-regard. It will be an irony of history that a culture which became obsessed with teaching its children individual self-esteem lost all sense of value as a group.

What groups in history have long survived and thrived without the assumption that they are special and superior?

__________________________

*Mostly pro-Jew that I am, I would still say that Jews have to realize that this necessarily either creates or increases dislike of them by non-Jews. It seems an inescapeable problem: give up your sense of chosenness and you disappear; keep it, and you'll be disliked.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Well, that was quick




The next time I hear someone invoke "human rights", I may be tempted to smack them.

The evils and tyrannies of the various Human Rights Commissions in Canada have certainly attracted my attention but, due to heroes like Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, are on the wane. Now in formerly Great Britain, a secular court has, in effect, taken on itself to define who is a Jew and who is not.

All in the name of anti-racism.

Can you imagine them trying to meddle in the affairs of a mosque?

Cowards all.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

On the other hand

I have drafted a longish unconnected set of curmudgeonly observations on how men walk and talk, on some puzzling and/or unfortunate aspects of Black culture these days, on the nature of gay vs. LGBT identity, on the current unfortunate president of our unfortunate Republic, on how a spiritual guru can turn into yet another bitter queen.

These gems of insight you will be spared. At least for now, and all at once.

Despite yet another bit of auto-related bad luck, I have had some very very nice times with Himself and I am far more aware of how lucky and blessed I am to know him than of how irritated I can be at the world.

________________________

Movement



Something about this picture exhibits for me the angle and flow of the male body, a kind of untiringly happy roller coaster for the eye. Even at rest, eppur si muove!

In banter with My Guy about his angles and flows, I refer to it as his "architecture."

Psalm 8:5. Frank Lloyd Wright, eat your heart out.

____________________


PS. A note on ink. This fella's shoulder tattoo serves the architectural flow. It matches and emphasizes his shoulder, but its shape then moves you along into the rest of the body. Lots of people seem to think of their bodies as billboards and their tattoos are just sorta stuck on like post-it notes, without any thought to the structure of the whole. The most beautiful tattoos, to me, are the ones that work with the form of the body and become part of its dynamism, balance and play of angles.

I tried to achieve that with my own and have had some success, I think. When I was in NY, I came home from the gym and had a tank top on. A distant relative by marriage, who is an Emmy winner in design, noted the tat as well as its placement and pronounced it perfect for me, warning me not to add anything else or it would harm the balance. Hmmmmmm....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Animal spirits




A friend has a new dog, a young male half-wolf he rescued from the pound. Handsome young fella that puppy is, but very mellow, even rather cautious. First time he brought him over to my house to visit, the dog-wolf very slowly and methodically set about smelling his way around. We followed.

But when he got to my bedroom, it was as if someone turned on an instant high-energy switch. Jumping, running around in circles, bouncing off the bed and onto the floor repeatedly, barking, howling, rolling, and when I started in to play with him, that only ramped him up more. We had quite the time and I was covered in gray wolf hair.

Now every time he comes over, he bounds up the stairs and heads straight down the hall to my sleeping chamber.

Can't figure out what it is about that room...

________________

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This and that on an Advent Sunday





My cybersphere wanderings take me to strange places. The power of the hyperlink. You will doubtless share the thrill of the following, to which I will not link:
Many readers will rejoice - fittingly on this Gaudete Sunday - to learn that last Thursday, 10 December 2009, the Cause of Beatification of the Servant of God Zita, last Empress of Austria and wife of Blessed Emperor Charles, was solemnly opened by His Excellency Msgr. Yves Le Saux, Bishop of Le Mans, France.
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Winter here in SF coincides with a very noticeable rainy season, providing the wonderful paradox of colder weather and greener flora. Although really pretty mild for North America, the days can be chilly and wet and dark. And there has been a chunk of that recently. Has an effect on the mood, mine anyway. Easier to veer off into the land of funk.

And The Boyo has had a bad cold the last week or so. He is normally a very resilient fella about the downs of life, but colds seem to take major wind out of his sails. His frequency shifts and there's something like a grey mist or distracted static between him and the rest of the world, including me. Although he does his best, his sunny zing and connectedness diminish, which disorients me. At least that's how it feels. Not appealing, especially in conjunction with the uninspiring weather. I realize both when he and I are physically distant thru travelling or when we are somewhat unhooked like this, how much I depend on him and his abundant vitality to stoke the part of me that is happy and hopeful. I look forward to the return of my regular guy.
I'm sure he does, too.

______

I have a free two-week Netflix account. Been looking at indy films, mostly gay-themed. The majority of them I turn off within ten minutes. Either my old eyes have seen and heard this before, or the plot is too silly or, most often, the characters are so unlikeable. And there is a kind of self-regarding claustrophobic quality there as well.

One film I rather liked was "Defying Gravity". It's about a frat boy's coming to terms with his homosexuality. But the context is not "I like dick", but "I love Johnny." Who, happily, loved him back. The parallel between the male-male relationship and the best friend's male-female relationship set the story in a more human frame. Not about group politics, but about the individual heart. And especially given the interpersonal focus, it made the kindness and acceptance of some of the surrounding characters quite believable.

The moral crisis was about honesty and courage rather than the usual "fucking with someone who is already committed". The minor racial theme was handled in a surprisingly non-predictable way.

Two films I watched included gay characters who seemed to care nothing for the effects of their adultery on people they professed to love. In one, Mulligans, a guy sleeps with his best friend's father (!) and in another, Leaving Metropolis, with his married boss. Marriages self-destruct in the wake. Dramatic, of course, but not edifying.

In The Flesh, shot in Atlanta, of all places, about 15 years ago, is a riff on the intergenerational theme combined with the cop who falls for the male prostitute. Wooden acting, but with several redeeming features, including a lead dyad who are both men, not queens.
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I re-watched "Trembling before G-d", about orthodox Jews who are homosexual. A pickle. And a kosher dill at that. My Unitarian friend, Rev. L, once told me that the only two real religions in the West are Judaism and Catholicism, since once you are in them, you can never really get out.
I sympathize. Observant Jews who are homo have it worse, I think, since the drive to marry and have children is at the religious, not just cultural, heart of rabbinic Judaism (as it is with Mormonism, for example, and there perhaps even moreso.) Catholicism is full of unmarried types who are, in fact, the great icons of the faith. Including Jesus, of course.

Jesus and Buddha have much in common with each other in this respect, as do Moses and Mohammed. Two celibate idealists vs two married lawgivers.

Though I am mostly a pro-Jewish guy, one scene with a bunch of very orthodox men in NY protesting angrily against gays led me to muse that if you gave these fellas guns and they adopted a world-embracing imperialist vision, they'd be Taliban.

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Looking forward to my Santa Lucia dinner with Himself tomorrow. He first invited me for dinner at his house two years ago on her feast day. I was already pretty well entranced with him by that time, but I recall how excited I was, and how handsome he looked. He still doesn't always get it, but sometimes I look at him and think that there is no better view on the planet. He'll just have to deal.
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Irksome

Just saw another, yet another, commercial where the father is a blithering idiot and his wife is superior and contemptuous. They are ubiquitous. (And it's only white fathers that get this treatment, by the way.)

____________________________

Random thoughts on sex





As a species, we are capable of desire for many members of our race. We are also capable of having that desire channeled so that it focuses on just one person. That is mysterious.

One man in good shape is not radically different from another man in good shape. Height, color, size, etc. can all vary, but they are actually more alike than different, at least from my perspective and experience.

But there is that mysterious connection which takes place where only one man will do. If it a matter of fetish --hair color, skin color, certain kind of build, penis size-- it is pretty understandable. But it happens all the time where the reason is, well, the man himself, who he is. Just as compelling, not so easy to define. But only he will do.

_________________


I wonder if the category "gay" is any longer really about sexual orientation, sexual object choice, or if it is about gender variance. If it were about sexual orientation, then something like a gay, lesbian and bisexual demographic would make sense. But with the canonical addition now of transgender, the common denominator is not same-sex erotic desire but deviance from gender norms.

Unfortunately, that makes sense of a lot of gay culture.

________________

Not only do males and females generally experience sexual contact differently, but each individual experiences it differently, often based on their character typology. For some types,
the sexual experience is about physical pleasure, for others about physical closeness. For some, the body's experience is all there is, for others the body is not distinct from the soul.

As well, age and experience bring changes. My affection for men in their 50's comes not only from my appreciation for how a man's life experience shows in his body, his face, his build, etc but from his sense of self. Honestly, I now see faces of men in their twenties, very handsome, unlined, with bright eyes, and they look somewhat like masks to me. But a craggy, lived-in face, with weathering and stubble...to me this is a wonder of nature. And being the type of guy I am, that is not an intellectual aesthetic appreciation; it makes me want to kiss that face.

Preferred pleasures can change, too. There are a couple of things that used to be almost absolute requirements for me that are now matters of indifference. And there are a few things that I now really love to experience that I don't recall being so interested in at one time.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Infamy and destiny

Today is December 7th.
Sixty-eight years ago,
the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor,
brought America into war.
Four years later,
atomic bombs ended that conflict,
which killed so many.

Both my fathers were in that war
and survived to come home.
I had an uncle who did not.

My birthfather, Lee, who died when I
was an infant, was in the Army signal corps
in North Africa, Italy and Germany.



My recently deceased dad,
Jack, who raised me,
was a Naval bomber pilot
in the South Pacific.



I look a lot like Lee. No surprise.
But at Jack's funeral, two people who know nothing
of my history came to tell me
how much I looked like him.
Which I don't at all.
But I was his son, in reality if not in biology.
I am honored
to look like both my fathers.

______________________________

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Type casting


I'm the type of guy who likes typology. I like to use overarching maps of all kinds of things, including people. My favorites are the Jungian-based Meyers-Briggs and the strangely useful Enneagram. It's a kind of shorthand that outlines how a person is likely to perceive the world and themselves, to act and make judgements, etc. I find it useful especially where there are conflicts between people which can be traced to typological styles. It can defuse things if people get the idea that the differences are not aimed at each other but flow from a set of character structures that are almost innate.

The Boyo recently took a Meyer-Briggs test and discovered what I already knew, that he is an ESTJ. He is extraverted, interested in the world and people outside himself. He is sensate, focussed on concrete physical objects and situations in some detail. He is a thinker, preferring to use rationality to assess situations and evaluate them. He is a judger (a peculiar term in MB parlance) who prefers order and predicability. Guardian or Enforcer is a title that fits this type. Empath, for example, does not.



There are sixteen combos of these four items and plenty of descriptions of how each type typically (!) perceives, judges, behaves, etc. How folks act in relationships, at work, etc are included.

I am an INTP, opposite to The Boyo on three out of four items. This stuff is not exact science, so you can find MB websites tell you that the relational pairing an INTP and and ESTJ is both a disaster and that it is a good balance. The fact that we are both T's is a big help. And the other differences are, to me, mostly a source of interest, at least at this stage.

As an introvert, my internal world is more powerful for me than the outside. As an intuitive, I am more concerned with the possibilities of a situation than its concrete details. As a thinker, I, too prefer to use rationality to assess situations and evalute them. As a perceiver (again, this odd MB way of talking) I prefer to let things unfold without a plan. I'm an Architect or Investigator.




I use the typologies to alert me to differences that I might naturally have problems with; the type discourse allows me to see it as simply a normal alternative with its own pros and cons.

Not everyone responds like this.

Mr. ESTJ, for example, recently did something typical of his type and I sent him the following email note (in a form and manner typical of my type):

ESTJ Weaknesses
  • Tendency to believe that they are always right
  • Tendency to need to always be in charge
  • Not naturally in tune with what others are feeling
  • May inadvertantly hurt others with insensitive language

This was the reply I received:

Can you explain how these qualify as weaknesses?
Thank you.



In the end, ya gotta laugh! And we do. A lot. It's pretty typical of us types.

___________

Friday, December 04, 2009

All warm and toasty

Mark Steyn. Hard to top his gift for words. On the antics of Western politicians responding to the "settled science" on anthropogenic global warming...
The science is so settled it’s now perfectly routine for leaders of the developed world to go around sounding like apocalyptic madmen of the kind that used to wander the streets wearing sandwich boards and handing out homemade pamphlets. Governments that are incapable of—to pluck at random—enforcing their southern border, reducing waiting times for routine operations to below two years, or doing something about the nightly ritual of car-torching “youths,” are nevertheless taken seriously when they claim to be able to change the very heavens—if only they can tax and regulate us enough.
The whole thing.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

The minarets of Switzerland




I agree that the Swiss were right to ban the minarets.

Why? Because Islam is not a religion like Buddhism, Christianity or Judaism.

Islam is essentially, fundamentally, inherently and historically an expansionist theocracy.
A theocracy in the literal sense, where the divine law is the law of the land for all, believer and unbeliever alike. There is in Islam no separation or division between religion and the society, religion and the state.

Where Islam has not been an expansionist theocracy is when it is forced to act differently by outside stronger powers or when it has suffered from internal inertia, conflict or corruption.
But when it is true to itself, it is a theocracy on the march. And it is on the march.

Consequently, the notion that Islam is "just a religion" and therefore deserves the protection of the law is mistaken. Islam is a religion the way the World Church of the Creator is a religion. Its natural goal is to conquer and rule the society in which it finds itself.

So the minaret is not like a steeple. It is like a foreign flag. Good for the Swiss.

_____________________

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Relief

Took a contemporary shot of two men making love and morphed it into something that feels a bit more...timeless.











Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cruising




I like to look at men.
They are endlessly fascinating to me, at least visually.
Here in New York, a different demographic from
SF makes for some novelty for the eye,
a thing males especially like.

Now that I am officially not single, do I still look? Yup.
Active testosterone levels and all.

But it has a new kind of pleasure to it:
it's only looking.

When I was still in search mode, looking was the beginning of decisions.
Do I want to do more than look? Would he? What if? Etc. Etc.
It's exciting for a while, to be sure. But then it gets exhausting.
Especially if you are looking for Mr. Right.

But I think I've found him.
(I say "think" not because I am unsure, but out
of humility and a desire not to provoke the gods
or scare the poor fella any more than I already have.)

So now looking is not freighted, or should that be "fraught"?
with anything other than the pleasure
of the eye in the moment.
That's it.
No questions, no decisions, no etc., no what-ifs.

And I like that. It makes the little interactions of pre-flirting--
which is mostly what this consists of---simple and relaxed.

I was not born yesterday and my new relationship is not my first,
so I know that eros, including my own eros, is unpredictable.
My pleasure in mere looking is not an ethical achievement of mine,
just a happy fact.
Some day I may have the urge to do more than look.
(My ex opined recently that, given how I am with The Boyo,
--I believe "pathetic" was his term--
I'd probably start to run out of steam for him in about...ten years.)
But for now, sprung as I am over Himself, these momentary looks or turns
with other guys just make me want to get up close and personal with him.

Are there handsomer men than my guy? Better built?
More "soulful"? More fill-in-the-blanks.
Sure.
And if I stupidly thought I could do better
by looking for "more"
--a syndrome that afflicts too many gay men--
I could mess up something really, and I mean really,
wonderful.

Cause even if I found a man who was, on the surface,
"better"...there'd always be another one even better than him.
That wheel never stops turning. Ask Buddha.

But the truth is,
(thanks to Gus Kahn and Isham Jones)

Some others I've seen
would never be mean,
would never be cross,
or try to be boss,
but they wouldn't do,
cause nobody else
gave me that thrill;
with all your faults,
I love you still.
It had to be you,
wonderful you,
it had to be you.

This was not a rational, cost-benefit decision, anyway.
It was better than that. And God had a hand in it, too,
I suspect.

So I do look. Yes. Up and down.
With appreciation. But it's not much more than that.
It's a relief, a huge relief.
And I like it.

___________________

Kulcha

I have been to two, count'em, two museums (musea?) in two days.

At the Rubin in Manhattan, I saw CG Jung's Red Book,with lots of facsimiles and such. And lots of Jungian types holding forth. For Jungians, the recently revealed and published Red Book is a combo of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Kells.

And at The Brooklyn today, I wandered through two hours of human civilization: Islamic (mostly Iranian), Egyptian, Assyrian, European (15th through 19th centuries), American. Didn't have time for the African and Asian. And I entered a special collection named after a married couple who included their middle initials! And I skipped the Feminist Art section and the one called American Identities. Pomo BS, no doubt.

Three irked notes before an appreciation.

In the Islamic section, the historical timeline referred to "the prophet Muhammad" each time he was mentioned and reported the revelation of the Quran to him by the angel Gabriel not as a claim but as a simple fact. Can you imagine them with a Christian timeline saying, "33 AD, Jesus rose from the dead"? This subtle but constant asskissing of Islam angers me.

And in the entryway, a version of Napoleon Crossing the Alps with a black guy on the horse instead of the little Corsican emperor. We are told that the artist thus "confronts and critiques" the absence of the experience of black urban culture in Western history. What narcissistic adolescent crap.



And after spending a couple of hours with some of the stunning and powerful and beautiful artifacts of a whole variety of human civilizations over the last few thousand years, I got to see some of the "contemporary" pieces. Yikes. Sort of like sanctifying a nervous breakdown.

A couple of pieces in the Egyptian section, a relief that had been (beautifully) blackened by fire and a basalt bust...both of them were old when Christ was born. And here I was, standing in front of them. I wondered about the men who carved them. What they ate for dinner. Who they loved, who loved them, who they hated. Millennia apart and, in so many ways, just like me.

Beautiful and powerful objects, these. From worlds, though, that have passed away into museums. The magical, almost godlike capacity of humans...and the inexorable eradicating power of time. I left grateful, moved and melancholy. But mostly moved at what an amazing species we are.

__________________

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nueva York

New York, Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn,
are ancestral turf for me.
Very familiar.
I also did my university here, Columbia.

But NY does not feel like home.
It was once the center of the universe for me,
but has not felt that way for a long time.
It's where the family lives,
but I do not ever want to live here again.
Being closer to them would be great.
But not here.

Weather, for one. Too cold.
Real winter.
And brutally humid in summer.
No thanks.

We are all supposed to be thrilled with diversity.
But you know what I think of that scam.
As a white man, I am now a distinct minority
in a city where people like me were once the general rule.
Why should I be thrilled?
It's much easier to feel that you don't belong.
And I don't.

When I went to Holy Cross Cemetary in Brooklyn
back in the early 80's to visit the grave of my
father, grandfather and uncle,
I was made to know that I was not welcome
in that now very black part of the city.

And the size and speed of the place, especially after dark,
the rivers of people on the streets,
has a way of inducing a sense of loneliness in me.
Living here would certainly provoke depression.

One final complaint, since I'm in the mood.
An affectation of the local, often Jewish, philanthropic class.
Naming places after husband and wife
with their middle initials included:
The Robert S. and Sadie P. Rosenblaum Pavilion.

I want to go home.

____________________

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lying ourselves to death



Some pungent observations about the spiritual disease of "political correctness" --God, the term itself is soulless!-- from awakened Canadian poet David Solway:

Political correctness is different from what we might call “ordinary lying,” from misrepresenting, exaggerating, or omitting facts to promote our perceived advantage. It is a form of lying to ourselves with the surreptitious purpose of either flattering our presumed righteousness or evading the need to respond to menacing developments with vigor and courage. Political correctness is the lingua franca of what editor Beryl Wajsman calls “an ungracious age filled with inelegant self-absorption.” It is the idiom of cowards who, by refusing to name things candidly and unequivocally, will ironically bring upon themselves precisely what they wish to escape. For to call a thorn by the name of “rose” will not stop the bleeding when we pluck it.

Read the whole thing. HT to Charles Winecoff.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sheep in wolf's clothing



Had a couple of gloomy days this week. Provoked by a parking ticket and a missed appointment.
No need for gory details, but these otherwise trivial events sparked that interwoven string of angers, fears and loathings I keep in my cupboard. They came out to play and made my stomach churn and my brain slow to a cranky grey slush on Wednesday and Thursday. I was whiny, self-pitying and unmanly.

My guy, aka The Boyo, while not really wishing to know what was bothering me --he's not much for talking things through-- knew that I was bothered, and was his typical "salami sandwich" helper. I was taken out for a hamburger at a local high-ceilinged joint jammed with noisy schoolkids. I was walked over to the liquor store that sells the cheap cigars I favor. I was given a can of pasta with sauce, fabulously decorated with FogHorn LegHorn as the spokesman for spaghetti-O's. I was semi-humorously complimented. I was semi-humorously needled. I was not coddled, but I was not left alone.

It did the trick.

Part of what I try to teach my patients is to accept what love and concern comes their way even if it is not in the package that they imagine they want or deserve. I think people miss a lot of goodness directed at them because they have a rigid and pre-conceived notion of what care or support or sympathy "ought" to look like. I am grateful that I have learned how to recognize it in a hamburger, a cigar, a can of pasta and a joke. We did not sit down and go through all the strung-together irritations. He just showed up. It's what he does. Thanks, Boyo.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Theodicy

How can there be a God?

The pilot light for the gas heater down in the garage is out.
It's chilly in the house.

One of the lenses fell out of my glasses and I can't find it because...
I need glasses to see clearly.

My knees ache.

Barack. Hussein. Obama. is still President
of the United States of America.

______________

WTF

First this:



Now this:




__________________

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I must be getting old





Found on line:

Pig.

Do something remarkable.

Inspire

Respect.



Uh, ok.

_______

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wow




A former victim of Bush Derangement Syndrome, gay & Clinton-loving, is healed.

HT to LK.

_________________

Hidden In Plain Sight





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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sprung





Last year, when I was mentioning to my ex the fella who is now my boyfriend, the ex said to me, "You are so sprung." I did not know the term. My ex, African American and way more cool and into pop culture than the Caucasian Curmudgeon, was using a term which, I discovered, is the equivalent of "smitten."

Guilty. The man is not perfect (my heart has the scars to prove it) but I am, like, so sprung on him. He'll back back from his European jaunt in a few days and I am looking forward to it.

Exhibit A.

Working out at the gym yesterday, I was stopped by one of the guys who was last year's coverman and Mr. December on the South of Market Bare Chest Calendar. We normally just nod hello, but he broke off from his workout with his trainer to talk to me. The jist of his comment was that I was looking very good. I thanked him and made some remark about how five or six days a week at the gym is bound to give you some results. He interrupted me, "No false modesty. Let's take a look at those guns." At which point he was feeling my upper arm. "Nice. Very nice." Again, I smiled and thanked him. And he returned to working out, as did I.

What entered my mind next was not Mr December, although he is a man both impressive and attractive. What entered my mind was My Guy. The rest I leave to a discreet silence.

Mr. Coverman flirts and makes a move and this leads me to miss The Boyo.

Yeah, I'm sprung.

_____________________

Monday, November 09, 2009

Externalized homophobia

I stumbled onto a film on the LOGO channel, Mr. Right. Against my better judgment, I watched it, even though it was described as "a vibrant romantic comedy charting the lives and loves of gay Londoners: a TV producer, an aspiring actor, an artist, a model, a rugby player and a soap star."

Narcissistic hunks, histrionic bitchy queens --galore--, fag hags. Haven't I seen this before...and before? If you want a reason to be homophobic, a film like this will give it to you.

________________________

Anglicans in Groups





Pope Benedict has put together an offer for groups of Anglicans who wish to become Catholics and maintain an Anglican liturgy, spirituality and communal structure. The document is called Anglicanorum Coetibus, Groups of Anglicans. It's an interesting set-up and creates something like an Anglican Rite.

It maintains the strong position of Rome that sacramental priesthood was lost at the English Reformation and so will require that all clergy wishing to transfer into Catholicism be ordained again. Currently married Anglican priests will largely be accepted for ordination, but those who wish to ordained bishops must be celibate, as must, in general, future candidates for priesthood.

The basic structure for these Anglicans in Groups is called an ordinariate. In Catholicism, an ordinary is a person with juridical and pastoral authority over a diocesan or diocesan-like group.
Bishops are ordinaries if they are in charge of a diocese, but you can be a bishop without being an ordinary: an auxiliary bishop, or a bishop who works for the Roman curia. And you can be an ordinary without being a bishop: abbots and provincial superiors of religious orders have juridical and pastoral authority over certain groups, but are not ordained bishops.

To allow a former Anglican bishop to stay in his marriage AND to be the ordinary of a group of Anglicans, the document would allow him to be ordained as a priest but to wear episcopal insignia and participate in larger Bishops' Conferences with retired status. Abbots are examples of this: they are only priests, but are ordinaries and wear the mitre and carry the crosier.

As far as doctrine is concerned, unsurprisingly, there is no concession at all. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the norm. And although there is talk of maintaining Anglican liturgical forms, what that would look like is not clear. JPII created a smaller version of this with his Pastoral Provision.

Significantly, other Catholics may not join these Anglican groups unless married to an Anglican who is making the move, and former Catholic priests who became Anglican cannot return to Rome and still exercise their ministry.

Rome, it seems, has made an offer but has stood very firm on principles. Seems to be Benedict's style. Kinda what you'd expect from a...pope.

__________________________

Berlin



My Guy is in Berlin and sent this shot of the Brandenberg Gate. Twenty years ago there would have been a wall there, that symbol of the split between the Communist World and the Free World, aka The West. It marked the divide between West Berlin and the world of the German Democratic Republic, where hundreds of thousands of informants helped the Secret Police, the Stasi, keep tabs, and worse, on fully one-third of the population. All in the name of the greater good.



No human arrangement is without flaw. My Irish grandmother put it this way, "All human things, given time, go badly." Hibernian optimism at its best! Certainly no political or economic system lacks problems. But some, for all their flaws, allow for kinds of human flourishing that others do not.

The West, restless child of Athens and Jerusalem, of Christendom and Enlightenment, has dominated the planet for the last five centuries. Much of the result has been extraordinary improvement in life for many. Have there been costs? Of course. But this is unavoidable on Planet Earth. We are not an episode of Star Trek.

One of the most unfortunate, lamentable and frankly evil developments within the West --one which is both utterly Western and implacably anti-Western-- is Marxism. I have opined elsewhere that Marxism is a far greater evil than Nazism, the convenient whipping boy of so many of our highminded betters. Marx and his children and nephews and nieces continue, despite the failure of the Communist project, to bedevil the West. His ghost is active and the backwash of the dismantled Second World still infects the air.

I have mentioned my idea of the Seven Pillars of "progressive" or "liberal" ideology: multiculturalism, feminism, redistributionism, environmentalism, pacifism, secularism and transnationalism. They all stink of the Gramscian mode of Marx's vile enterprise: for the sake of ideal human equality, to make all humans equally miserable in practice.

The obsession with equality, to the exclusion of almost every other value, marks the political and social landscape of the West two decades after that Wall in Berlin came down. Masquerading as a grand vision of hope and change, justice and peace, it is an ideology born of envy and hatred and leads eventually, as Communism always did and does, to Orwellian tyranny, poverty and soulessness.

PS. Synchronicity? Just arrived home about an hour after posting and turned on the TV to find a story originating from...the Brandenburg Gate, about a Volkswagen called the Phaeton.

PPS. An email from Himself later in the day. Attending the celebration at the Gate, found himself moved by the place, symbolizing, as he sorta put it, the loss of possibility and the refinding of it. I like him.

____________________



Sunday, November 08, 2009

Aside





I don't post much about politics these days because it is so unremittingly depressing and my irritation is major. The feelings about B. Hussein Obama that I expressed during the campaign have remained intact, although I did not expect the serial outbreaks of rookie incompetence, thin-skinned pettiness and --with his responses or lack thereof to the Fort Hood massacre-- shockingly disconnected arrogance. I thought he would at least be able to make believe he gave a shit about the country's military. Like he does about gays.

So posting about that, or the biblically-sized unread healthcare bill on top of the apparently ineffectual hyper-massive bailouts that will make us a debtor nation for generations...what could I rant about that you could not read elsewhere and better expressed?

Hence, I think about sex.



Saw two guys on line recently who fit into my "impressive but not attractive" category. (Pic above is someone else. Both impressive AND attractive. Nice, no?) Some local guy called Rascally Randy, and a gay Italian model and actor named Alessandro. RR is a big, built, furry, handsome bearded Daddy with a killer smile. Very nice to look at. But unfortunately he thinks he's amusing, so he uploads humoresque videos to YouTube. Stick to silent stills, RR. Alessandro is a younger fella, darkly handsome, beautiful build and not, like RR, stuck on himself. But he is almost unreally beautiful and despite evidence of a lot of testosterone, muscle and fur, almost pretty.

Impressive guys, but not material I would fantasize over. I guess there is something about the unique, slightly flawed, lived-in guy that appeals to me. Good thing, because even though I have become handsome recently (!) Randy and Alessandro are way out of my league. Unique, slightly flawed and lived-in guys are not only appealing to me, but available to me.

Take The Boyo --I call him that because of his zest for life; he is a well-seasoned 55 years old.
You'd never find him on the cover of a magazine, and you could easily pass him on the street without turning your head. But if he walks into a store, or sits down at a table in a restaurant,
the clerk and the waiter are his new best friends...instantly. It is really amazing to watch. Something in the way he shouts --and he does shout-- "Hi", with a big grin, makes most people like him in a nanosecond. (Even my ex, who had a hard time getting used to him, told me that he was almost irresistibly likeable). They start smiling and talking and laughing before they know it. I love it. When he leaves, he turn to me with a grin and says, "My new best friend!"

This is an element in sexiness, a joy in life and a pleasure in experience, a magical power of opening other people up, an energetic playfulness centered on the other. Which he brings to almost everything he does. Wink wink. Part of sexiness is a gift for making the other person feel sexy. Damn, does he.

I'd take him over big handsome ain't-I-witty RRandy any day. And Alessandro..well, to be honest...ninety nine days out of a hundred. The Boyo's off in Europe still, so if Sandro were available this afternoon, I'd probably go for it. I'm pretty horny.

My ex and I were discussing our sexual histories recently and both agreed that the best sex we'd had in our lives was not with the best-looking and best-built men we'd slept with. Chemistry rules. Thank God.

_____________________________

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Half Century Men





I'm partial to men in their fifties. Stumbled on a 1975 film with Charles Bronson, Hard Times. He plays a bare-knuckle fighter during the Depression. The movie was made when Bronson was 54. Did his own fighting, no stunt man. He looked damn fine.

___________________

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sigh 2


(see picture in preceding post)

KRON 4 News, typical of MSM, just ran a piece on TV about Nidal Hasan, who murdered and wounded fellow soldiers at Fort Hood yesterday. They showed video of him in a store, dressed head to toe in traditional robes and cap. They mentioned that he had been involved with radical websites and suicide bombers and had argued against the US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not once did they mention the word "Muslim".


PS. A nicely done summary, HT to TakiMag.
A proud first generation American, born in Virginia, Nidal Hasan wanted nothing other than to serve his country. But the bigotry against Muslims that he encountered in the Army, plus the American occupation of Iraq, plus, finally, his anguish at being ordered to deploy to Iraq as part of the U.S. forces there, drove this deeply patriotic son of the Old Dominion to the point where he felt he had no choice but to launch a martydom operation against the U.S. Army and shoot down scores of his fellow soldiers.

__________________

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sigh






A cranky old priest I once knew used to say that one of the unanswered mysteries was how there could be more horses' asses in the world than there are horses.

I was reading the SF Chronicle during breakfast this morning. Not my usual habit, but The Boyo is an avid and devoted Chronicle reader. When he is away, somehow it makes me feel as if I am doing something with him and for him to read it. Buying a copy helps the Chron stay in business, something that the print press has a hard time doing these days. He would miss it terribly were it to fold, so I do my little bit. Silly, huh?

Anyway, I find several letters to the editor. Unfortunately, I read them. The Chron specializes in pithy here. Both were responses to the decision by the voters of Maine to refuse marriage to same sex couples. One fella pronounced that this made America "a failed society." America. A failed society. And another writer stamped his adolescent literary feet and wondered why straight people got to vote on his relationship when he was not consulted about theirs. How dare the world exist before he was consulted...

This kind of childish, uber-narcissistic, catastrophizing histrionic foot-stamping...well, it provokes the question of the cranky old priest. So many horses' asses.

____________________________

Malesoul 33





______

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Feeling good about feeling bad



My favorite guy is away in Europe for three weeks. I miss him. But I am grateful that I have someone in my life to miss like that. And I am looking forward to the reunion. Those are always fun.

And then I know that I didn't make him up after all, that the terrific fella is real. And I am even more grateful. If still slightly incredulous.

Don't get me wrong; he's not perfect. Not at all. Just terrific.

________________

Monday, November 02, 2009

Day of the Dead



November 2 is the feast of All Souls, all the faithful departed. Here in Mexifornia, everyone calls it the Day of the Dead, El Dia de los Muertos.

I guess I am in nostalgic Catholic mode today. I am listening to a variety of performances of the old Requiem Mass sequence, Dies Irae, Day of Wrath. It is a medieval poem by the Franciscan Thomasso Celano and it is a no-holds-barred celebration of the apocalypse, the epic destruction of this world by a just and angry God, from the point of view of a single terrified sinner asking Christ for mercy and protection.

I can recall serving the funeral Mass as a ten-year-old altar boy: especially one day in winter, with a thunderstorm raging, sheets of rain pouring down the sides of the old German Gothic church of St. Boniface, whose larger-than-life ceiling mural showed him in full pontifical dress, huge ax by his side, standing with his foot on the felled oak of Odin; a small but densely decorated holy place populated by polychrome statues of saints, drenched with the smell of incense, the Latin muttering of the priests, the choreography of the rites, the flickering of many candles, and then the power of organ and voice descending on us from the choir loft, flooding the coffin and the mourners with the first eight notes.



It was not the hyper-restrained a capella chanting of chaste French Benedictines, but the local outburst of our forte and tremolo-loving organist with the solo blast of the frustrated opera-singer now consigned to belting out parish requiems. More faithful, I think, to the hymn's origins. A performance somewhere in the middle here:

Dies irae, dies illa
solvet saeclum in favilla,
teste David cum Sybilla.

O day of wrath, that day
dissolves the world into smoldering ashes,
as witness David and the Sybil.

Things only got worse!

When the liturgy was white-washed in the 1960's, this was removed from the funeral Mass, along with the black vestments and the weeping. The modern-world-loving priests who removed it "replaced (it) with texts urging Christian hope and arguably giving more effective expression to faith in the resurrection." At my Dad's recent funeral Mass, not only did the priest indulge in all kinds of unreal and verbose therapeutic sentimentality, but the music had devolved into a soap opera of effeminate pablum. I am not at all sure that that old rites should have been replaced.

You might not have liked Dies Irae's grim view, but you can't deny that it was dramatic, both in text and in melody, and it embodied an archetypal truth. Traditional Christianity's final cosmic explosion has now become the property of Gaia-worshipping eco-fanatics. Theologians became uncomfortable with the ancient hymn, but musicians have always loved it. Along with Mozart and Verdi, there's the contained histrionics of Jenkins, and on YouTube you can find contemporary rock, hiphop anime, and trance mixes of it.

Obviously something there in the Old Religion that the Enlightened Way of "effective presentation" lacks on this Day of the Dead, All Souls 2009.

_________________________________

Impossible cases and hopeless causes



Catholicism is a pretty baroque religion. Not streamlined and simple. It's had 2000 years to percolate. Consequently, it is interesting, even fascinating. And it can be user-friendly to all kinds of people, since it has been shaped by all kinds of people. Just at present there are over a billion. Over the last two millennia...a lot of folks have had a hand in this.

One of Catholicism's pleasures is the patron saint, a specialized advocate in the system, so to speak. Lost something? Ask St. Anthony? Bad eyes? St. Lucy is your girl. Mental troubles? St. Dymphna. Need help in the kitchen? St. Lawrence. Are you an anesthesiologist? St. Rene Goupil. Going on a trip? St. Christopher. Sterile, got an STD or hemorrhoids? St. Fiacre is your guy.

Protestants --who are very strange, compulsive, minority, highly Western and johnnycomelately kind of Christian-- find this stuff hard to take. They have a tendency to mistake the "worship in spirit and in truth" of John's Gospel with worship in neatness and tidiness. Theologically, and humanly, it makes perfect sense to pray to saints. Christians, and Jesus himself, have always asked people to pray for them. According to the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, the organic unity of believers, just because someone is dead to earthly life is no reason to stop talking to them! That is, like, so bigoted and discriminatory against the dead.

The whys and wherefores of these patronage allocations are varied. Some result from official proclamation, but most come from immemorial tradition, often with the macabre and unsentimental logic ordinary humans understand but civilized modern Westerners find shocking. Why is St. Rene patron of anesthesiologists? The Jesuit was tortured gruesomely for two months by the Iroquois before finally being dispatched and relieved from his pain by a few tomahawk blows to the head. Why is St. Lawrence the patron of cooks? He was martyred by being roasted to death on a gridiron.

Anyway, one of patron saints is one of the Twelve Apostles, Judas Thaddeus, St. Jude. (The other Jude was Judas Iscariot.) He specializes in impossible cases and lost causes.

He is the traditional author of the New Testament epistle of Jude (which, by the way, for those of you Dummies who are fans of The Lost Books of the Bibles, quotes the Book of Enoch!). If his image looks a lot like Jesus, it's because they may have been cousins. His shrine in Kerala, India, boasts the biggest devotional oil lamp in the world. Dominican friars specialize in promoting devotion to him. Danny Thomas built a cancer hospital for children and named it after him. (See what I said about all kinds of people and fascinating, etc?) How he got saddled with the lost and impossible is not clear. Part of his traditional iconography is him carrying a club. Maybe someone who needs to get hit on the head with a club is a kind of hopeless case, and so...?

Anyway, part of the piety associated with him is that if you ask him for help, especially if you perform the nine-day prayer called a novena, and your prayer is answered favorably, you should publish your thanks for his help.

So that's what I am doing today. I may be a bad, ex-, nonpracticing or fallen-away Catholic, but Catholic I will always be.

Back in early August, I gave a St. Jude medal as a gift to someone who shall remain nameless. This person, another less-than-party-line Catholic, looked a bit hurt. "Do you really think I'm a hopeless case?" I let the medal speak for me. Next time we met, this lost cause of a person was wearing the medal, pinned to their clothing, right out in plain sight.

In the interim, what I thought was hopeless and impossible has turned out to be hopeful and possible.

Thank you, St. Jude. Really.

___________________________
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