Saturday, October 30, 2010

Speaking of dudes

While I was working out at the gym today, I heard a "hello" behind me and looked around to see D.  He and I have a casual chat relationship. He's in his mid-forties, about 5'10", with a nice-looking, strong and open MidWestern face and he is an impressive mesomorph. His condition goes up and down, but lately he has worked on losing fat and working hard. And today, against gym rules, he decided to take his shirt off. Cut muscle and fur as far as the eye can see. We chatted briefly in our usual How's Life, Nice Weather kinda way.

When I went to the locker room to leave later on, he had just come from the sauna and was buck naked. The dude is also impressively hung. While I'm washing up a bit, more chit chat. He is usually more reticent. I decide that he likes his latest incarnation and wants to show it off.  He's got a lot to show off, from head to toe, front to back.

But the odd things is that D is not a very interesting guy. In my chats with him over the years, I always find myself having to work at finding something to say. And although he is a nice fella, with no attitude, he kinda bores me. So, against all logic, I find him pleasing to look at, but nothing more.

What's wrong with me?


Barack Obama, the current American President, was on comedian Jon Stewart's Daily Show. At one point, Stewart called him, "Dude."  Where's Barbara Boxer when you need her?  For the first and only time.

I am well aware that I have said way worse than that about Obama here. But what you write on a blog is different from a personal meeting in public, on TV. Even the lamest man, Jimmy Carter, for example, holds the persona of the office, and that office deserves more public respect, even if he may not. Were I in that Stewart spot, I'd say, "I think you have been a disaster for our country, sir."

One writer about the interaction expressed why I dislike Stewart and Colbert: their and their audience's assumption that mere disillusionment grants you moral superiority. It's the ethical stance of a high school kid.

It looks like the Democrats will take a huge hit on Tuesday. If they do --and more than deservedly-- and this gives the Republicans some actual power, I hope against hope that the GOP will not also fuck up. Although this iteration of Democrats has been galactically worse than Bush's Republicans, they were no prize. At all.

There are days when I recall a line from an old Jungian, that "the world is not supposed to work; all it can really do is increase consciousness."

Been mulling over these words from Sam Francis
...when you admit racial and cultural aliens into institutions created by and for people of a different race and culture, you're going to have problems. The newcomers don't feel comfortable... and if they gain power, which eventually they will, they will do all they can to abolish and eradicate those symbols that make them feel like the outsiders they are.

... it's not just fairly trivial symbols like Col. Reb, the flags at the football game, the name of the team, and the songs the spectators can't sing. It's everything—everything whites (not just Southerners) ever created and built, from their form of government, to their religion, to their art and entertainment, to what they teach in universities.

Non-whites of all races and cultures are increasingly aware that they just don't fit in the institutions built by whites, and therefore they demand that these institutions bend to their will.

And the reason they succeed, of course, is that the white leadership of the institutions created by and for whites lacks the brains and the guts to resist.
This dynamic is true not only in matters multicultural, but works as well when feminism transforms things to make women not only comfortable but dominant. True for all the -isms in the progressive agenda. The power of group status in history. Foolish to underestimate it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


An episode of House.

A man's waiting in ER, without being attended to, for a long time. He does not complain.

House asks him why. He says pleasantly that there's no point. House hits him in the foot with his cane. He jumps. The man's wife says, "What the hell was that for?"  Man says to her, "I'm sure he had a good reason, dear.

At this point House yells to a nearby nurse, "Is he Canadian?"
She answers, "He's low priority."
House: "Is that a yes?"


Ads, idiots and lawyers

Largely from lawsuits, I guess, so many commercials contain all kinds of disclaimers about the obvious. You know, Don't jump off a cliff with cardboard wings; carried out by professionals on a closed course.
And the drugs they try to sell you now spend most of their time telling you about side effects. I love the constant notice that birth control pills will not prevent HIV. (Do HIV med ads tell people that they will not prevent conception?)

People must be damned stupid. And/or lawyers make everyone paranoid.

A new medical commercial for an anti-psoriasis medicine contains an animation of little robots under the skin making extra cells on an assembly line. The disclaimer reminds us that this is a dramatization and does not accurately represent the disease process.


I'm waiting for the Mr. Clean commercial to disavow that he will come to your house to clean for you.


Tremors (1990). An excuse to watch Fred Ward.

Guilty pleasure

Enjoyed watching the Giants take Texas last night. Fox Sports --one of my brothers works for them-- does a nice job. Also, and this is the guilty part, enjoyed watching Texas pitcher Cliff Lee. Hot stuff.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Keepin' it unreal

A Belgian.

Six foot six --a Belgian--of very solid and impressive muscle.
A Belgian!
But the mug on him.
Damned damned handsome man.

You have to wonder what it's like to be him, how the world responds to someone so tall and powerful and so striking. Hard to disappear in a crowd.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dog day

Spent the morning out at the VA Hospital. Overlooking the entrance to San Francisco Bay, I doubt there's a VA with as beautiful a view anywhere. My friend Bill, who was in the Army, went out for routine checkups and I was minding his wolfdog, Molly. Molly doesn't handle separation well. Even though the dog and I are very familiar with each other, to him the only important person in the world is Bill. I think it's a part of his wolfishness; humans as a species do not interest him much. So he takes petting and such with an ease which is really a kind of indifference.

So Molly and I went for a walk for about a half hour, but then his anxiety got the better of him and we had to go back and sit by the front door where Bill had entered the building and wait. For about two hours.

God, do Americans love dogs. And this dog is pretty irresistible. Half wolf, half malamute, he is a handsome, handsome fella. So I sat there meeting and greeting all the vets and staff who wandered by to say how beautiful he is, to ask if they could pet him, to talk about their own dogs. A surprising number clocked his hybrid history. Military folks may like dogs even more than the general public. Funny thing is that because I am the right age and I'm there, they assume I am a vet, too. A few sat down for a while and told their whole stories. Illness, family, pets, etc. Had a guy in the canine corps come and talk about the dog that saved his life. Another guy about his son's terminal illness. Regular people, many of them in not great physical shape, signs of wear and tear pretty evident, but able to connect easily around this animal.

When Bill finally emerged, Molly's relief was very visible...and audible. He did his twirling dance, with lots of jumps, and his wolfish howling, over and over. For about five or ten minutes. 

It was a good morning.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Whenever someone expresses shock and horror at some kind of mess in the military, I recall that the acronym SNAFU was born in the military: Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.

It is a bright and sunny morning, pleasant temperatures, and I am feeling Snafu.

Last week was pretty nice. Had a lot of interaction with friends to distract me from the general malaise of 2010. But the structures of life remain little changed. Work, though pretty satisfying, is suffering greatly from the economic mess. And it is a very slow process to let go of my three-year ride with B.
Attachment survives beyond reason and even experience. Only being hit on on the head repeatedly with the unvarnished truth will finally bring about some kind of peace for me.

Bargaining and denial remain significant players in the grieving process. Why Kubler-Ross did not include confusion in that dynamic I do not know, since a lot of the time I feel as if the law of gravity has been suspended. And perhaps what finally brings the whole process to a close is exhaustion. I know that I am very tired of it. So much constant output of energy, for what? To let go of something? Memories, a dream, illusions, hope, pleasure? Exhausting.

The larger world of politics and power and money, etc. Funny how some people my age can be guiltily nostalgic for the Cold War. I watched Thirteen Days, about the October 1962 confrontation between the US and the USSR over the Cuban missiles. Gripping stuff. But from my current POV, almost simple. Like the world of Sean Connery's James Bond. A vanished world of us vs them. Now it is very hard to find the us.

The wasps are still living in the lantern on my back porch, but there are only a handful of them now. With the cold nights and the rain, they should be gone in a few days. Only the queen survives the winter.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New depths in shallowness

Watching the prequel to X-Men, the story of Wolverine's origins. Lots of Hugh Jackman, handsome and hirsute in his birthday suit. As my Irish nana used to say, "Ah but he's a foyne figger of a man."

Ramblings, mostly with the TV

Grey and rainy late October. Prolly see a fair amount of rain for the next five or six months. And as I never tire of noticing --documented immigrant from the Original Thirteen Colonies that I am-- even as it gets chillier, the rain produces the lushest and greenest part of the year.

Speaking of immigrants, I come across a Latino documentarian being interviewed. He related the sad story of an illegal alien from Mexico who does not prosper but winds up in jail and then is deported back home to the poverty he wanted to escape. The filmmaker says he made it so that people like Meg Whitman can learn that undocumented immigrants "don't have any other option". Obscenities from me at the TV. Not our frickin' problem, Jose.

Flipping through the TV dials, I once again note that the fall guy, the moron, the dope, the object of pity in all the commercials is always a white male.

Hence. If you belong to a group with societal privilege, never give it up in order to be "fair". In the end, the poor victim group you are trying to make nice with --who only wants 'an even playing field' or 'a place at the table'-- will take its revenge and seek to supplant you utterly. Group status (which requires subaltern groups) is a powerful force in history.

Black and white films, like black and white photos  --is greyscale a more accurate description?-- have an intensity and clarity that color media don't have. Is the minimal range of color an invitation to fill in with your own imagination? Or does that minimalism allow you or force you to focus your attention?

Jack LaLanne, still selling juice and health in his 90's, asks, "How can you love anyone when your self-esteem is low?" Maybe that was the problem.

BBC America promotes itself by showing clips of its news items. One is of Obama making a speech, "I believe. With every fibre of my being. That we. As Americans. Canstillcometogetherbehindacommonpurpose." Shot of the West Point cadets who were his audience: clearly either bored or hostile. Did no one vet this piece? Or was that purposeful?

Stereotypes are supposed to be a great great great sin in our oh so uniquely enlightened society. Even recently sacked Juan Williams prefaced his firing-offense remarks about Muslims by assuring Bill O'Reilly that he was no "bigot." Watch for a few minutes, if you can stomach it, the LGBT channel's version of Real Housewives, The A-List. Every loathesome skin-crawling gay stereotype that anti-gay types hold is celebrated openly by the gay network: rich, vicious, empty queens. Funny how what is evil lying in the mouth of one's opponents becomes birthright identity at the hands of one's own tribe.

While I'm at it, could the homegrown black thug hip hop and ho culture, celebrated as "authentic", be anymore of a confirmation of mountains of Negro stereotypes? Bizarre.

There's a new version of I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up commercial on. A Southern woman about 60, praising the LifeAlert systems she bought after falling in the tub, only by luck rescued by her daughter, coquettishly tells the invisible interviewer that it even makes her feel "even younger". Creepy.

The invisible and silent interviewer has become a media staple. Like an infomercial, it tries to snooker you into thinking that what is clearly a scripted self-promotion is actually genuine response to an interested outsider's inquiring mind.

(I guess a lot of real life conversations are like that, too. At least my blog's narcissism is clear.)

Forgotten classics

Had a crisis this morning. I ran out of coffee. So off in the rain I went. Back now, safely double-brewed. Checked email, then --something I don't normally do in the morning-- turned on the TV. And there is the 1943 flick Frankenstein Meets Wolf Man.

Feels awful familiar. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The wages of sin

in this case, is not death, but feeling a bit like death warmed over.

My oldest friend was in town this week and yesterday we included two big meals in our schedule. That, plus whatever else was going on, made for a very unpleasant and fitfully sleepy night --lots of gastro discomfort-- and even now, in the afternoon of the next day, I feel like a truck ran over me. Not food poisoning. But really really tired, sleepy and achy in my muscles. Odd.

I have a healthy appetite but I eat less than I used to. My metabolism, after all these years of regular working out, doesn't require it. So gluttony is not a regular part of life. The last day reminds me why it ought not be.

Anyway, for future reference, do not do the following in the same day: Lunch at Old Mandarin Chinese Islamic Restaurant*, sharing Westlake Dumplings, Mandarin Lamb with Rice and Stirred Potatoes. Most of it pretty hot hot hot. Dinner at Lupa: vino, caprese and rack of lamb balsamico with potatoes, carrots and broccoli rabe, followed by mascarpone. Too much.

8pm Sunday night. Can finally countenance food. Aside from toast earlier in the day. Feeling much better.

It was a nice week for friends. Had dinner with my friend G. My ex Thom knows my old friend and so we had dinner together; very enjoyable. And J and I spent a very pleasant afternoon earlier in the week, nice re-connection. We have one more chance before he leaves later in the week. It's been great having him around.

*Credit here to B, who introduced me to that place and reminded me about it. Absent though he be, he is pretty damn present.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hateful haters, hatin'

Why is this kind of stuff any less stupid than Nancy Reagan's Just Say No?


Note to owner of Full Moon Wolfdog Farm.
Coup de grace is not pronounced coop de grah,
but coo de grahs. Thanks, I feel better now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Micro Macro

I was recently informed that I tend to use my "moral compass" on grand issues. Being the character that I am, I will always look for the the big picture, the overarching shape, etc. But I spend a lot of time --moral or not-- on the small things, on personal realities or random incidents.  Back and forth.

I am sure I would do this kind of scanning regardless of my history, but I am reminded of the combination of Grand Scheme and Local Detail that is part of Catholicism. The Catechism from which I learned my religion --and the book was simply a marker for the whole social matrix in which I lived-- contained both great leaps of faith (duh!) on creation, the Triune God and Incarnation, the end of man and the universe, and also gave detailed attention to small matters, say, of ritual and moral law. It was definited not a religion of "don't sweat the small stuff."  As one intellectual priest once said of Catholicism, "sum total of the non-essentials is the essential."

So I wake up and surf the net and see the issues of the day in the news: global this and national that. And then I get a phone call from a friend about the complex situation of another friend. All very particular and local. Both of them affect me. Sometimes the incongruity of scale is disconcerting just by itself, though. One man's life, a man I have known for many years, and then the reports of the great waves of humanity's troubles. It can be dizzying.

Even Juan Williams

is worried about angry Muslims...for which concern, open-minded NPR, the voice of the liberal magisterium, canned him.

He's Black. And he was born in Panama (Juan), so he's also Latino.

So nobody's safe.

The NPR CEO who fired him defended herself:  Speaking at the Atlanta Press Club Thursday, Schiller defended the firing, saying Williams should keep his feelings about Muslims between him and "his psychiatrist or his publicist."

Yeah, if you don't have approved opinions, you must be crazy.

Defund NPR now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Splitting the difference

A universal part of growing out of infancy is dealing with the problem of opposites. Psychologist Melanie Klein is famous for mapping this out. Babies apparently experience their mothers, even their mothers' bodies, not as one but as two: the Good One and the Bad One. The technical term for the infantile splitting is the paranoid-schizoid position. Eventually...if all goes well...the baby realizes that Good Mommy and Bad Mommy are in fact the same Mommy. Apprehending this truth is called the depressive position.

Splitting is a part of life long after infancy. In trying to figure out the meandering and magnetic and frustrating path of my relationship with B, it was --and is-- tempting to split him into two. Not Good B and Bad B, but Possible B and Impossible B.

Possible B responded to me so strongly that it was just some kind of temporary blockage which prevented us from getting together in the normal natural dyadic way that I wanted. If only I, or he, could get past that, we could move on. Impossible B, however, is just not capable of the kind of bond I wanted. Be that out of desire, difference or defect changes nothing. It just ain't there. And my persistent hope that it might be was not only a waste of time and energy, but kind of disrespectful, asking him to be someone he's not, just to make me happy.

I still visit both Possible and Impossible B. Mostly Impossible B in the last few months. But what if, even worse, Possible B and Impossible B are the same guy?

Talk about a depressive position!

The cathedra and the bookworm

Fellow Northern California conservative blogger Bookworm Room has done me the honor of moving one of my comments into the body of her posting.

As bloggers go, I am basically --and consciously-- a self-indulgent ranter. She, who has to manage both a family and a law practice-- manages to be both voluminous and intellectually worthwhile in content.

With liberty and justice for all

Well, no.

It was a long time before I began to see political philosophy in a realistic way. When I was in college, and well beyond, I could discuss aspects of Marxism as if it were not some kind of demonic disease. Which I now think it is. Not one whit more defensible than National Socialism. And because it masquerades as a non-racist angel of light, more dangerous.

But one of the binomials which started to make things clearer to me was the realization that what our Pledge of Allegiance names as allies --liberty and justice-- are in fact very uneasy partners.

It is all to easy to assume that good things cooperate with each other. In this fallen world, they often compete against each other. The French Revolution, father of all failed revolutions, held the incompatible values of liberty, equality and fraternity. Not on this planet.

Justice has come to mean social justice, which means socialism: control of the economy by the state in the interest of creating economic equality. And in its race-and-gender format, the state attempts to engineer ethnic and sexual equality, too. Here, freedom is necessarily lost. And is indeed a threat to righteousness.

Libertarians are a small bunch, with more intellectual than actual power. But for them, individual liberty is the ruling principle. Where you really leave people free to act, as long as they do not directly infringe on others' actual rights, you are going to have winners and losers.

Both of these positions are extreme; in John Kekes' words, ideological, since they privilege a single value as the regulating principle of all the others.

Any decent Western society will have to work out how to successfully relate the often antagonistic values of liberty and justice. And it is not easy.

Looking forward

It appears as though the mid-term elections will greatly reduce the Democrats' power. That is pleasing.

And to the extent that it is a smack to our post-American President, The One, even more pleasing. (Never liked him; can't bear him now.)

But whether the Republicans --both Tea Partiers and traditionals-- will be able to seize the moment...that is another matter entirely. I wonder if, at this point in our history, Washington has become like old Rome, swallowing up in corruption anyone who shows up, even, or especially, to reform it.

Mark Twain wrote that even after a century of national independence, America had yet to develop a truly indigenous criminal long as you excepted Congress.

When people in my ultraliberal San Francisco world discover that I am not one of them, they sometimes gasp in horror, "You mean, you're a Republican?"  "No," I assure them, "Republicans are pussies. Way too liberal for me."

The exchange usually ends right there.

Super superficiality

Eyebrows. Yeah, eyebrows. Guys with thick eyebrows.

And a classic....

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Age or The Age?

My curmudgeonly side interests me. Not because it's original, but because it's not. I am curious about what exactly provokes the disapproving old man in me...aside from my general sense of the decline of the West, for example.

Ironically, I disapprove of television shows and movies which make the human race seem contemptible.

My favorite movie is Federico Fellini's Amarcord (I Remember), in which he unfolds the various loves, ambitions, flaws, quirks, sins and gifts of the people in his Italian town during Mussolini's time. No one escapes without being exposed, but exposure does not mean degradation. You recognize these people --full of desire, fear, ambition, ignorance--see them without romance, but you often like them, or more; at least you don't hold them in contempt. And you leave the film feeling something of the same way about yourself. There's a humanity there, whether it's a personal gift of Fellini or something in the sunny but unblinking Italian soul.

It seems to me that if you are going to expose the flaws in the human race, it ought to be from a moral viewpoint that knows what it really is. Otherwise, what you have is simply nihilism: that humans are trash. And a lot of what I see on television --both in the form of reality shows and of comedy-- simply exposes the ugliness of the race...for no other reason than to make them look bad.

Here's where my age comes in. True or not, I have the sense that comedy used to make fun of people but didn't rob them of their likeability. Now it seems more vicious.

It's not that I am concerned so much about the people so exposed. Whether it be the vile circus of Maury Povich and Gerry Springer or the contrived class-upgrade of the Housewives shows and its new and grotesque gay version, The A-List, they are all volunteers. They deserve what they get. What concerns me is the effect these shows have on the viewers: constantly seeing humans at their worst, for the sake of entertainment. What does that do to your soul? Our media version of the Coliseum games?

(Note: even serial murderer Dexter has more dignity than the humanoids mentioned above!)

So is this the diminishment of humor in an aging man or is this the diminishment of humanity in this age?

Comrades in arms

A friend who is going through his own romantic trials suggests that he and I might take a leaf from this famous duo's book...


I used to have very bizarre but rich dreams. Complex narratives, astonishing images, etc. Over the last several years, I guess my psyche has gotten stuck; most,, though not all, of my dreams show a distinctly obsessive compulsive structure.

Before I left my longtime admin job, they had gotten unpleasantly cramped, anxious and impersonal, almost two-dimensional. Once I made the decision to leave, the OCD structure remained, but the dream space immediately opened up and included people and wide natural landscapes, etc. Whatever task or project I had in the dream still had that repetitive and unfinished quality, but with way less pressure and alienation.

But I still find myself undertaking tasks, part of the time self-initiated now rather than imposed, which include gathering data and coming to conclusions. I go back over the issue but rarely complete the project.

Last night my dream was about recreating the role and meaning of the subdeacon in the Latin High Mass. Hey, it's a dream. Dreams are often bizarre.

There was a certain constraint of space in it, of course. Mostly the sanctuary of a church. And I went over a lot of the material more than once. But it was almost leisurely and it did have an air of pleasurable discovery about it. It involved reconstructing from memory the Latin liturgies of my youth, when one of the priests would dress in the vestments and enact the role of the subdeacon, the third of the sacred ministers at a High Mass. The other two being the priest and the deacon.

There was in the old liturgy --which, by the way, is now "legal" again and is starting to be celebrated in various parts of the world-- a sacred choreography, a complex interactive set of hieratic movements and gestures and words and objects and music and people, the result of almost 20 centuries of evolution. Even HL Menken found its performance moving.

The subdeacon was like a second assistant. Oddly, though, for part of the Mass, he was the most splendidly attired, carrying before his face, itself wrapped in a thick veil, the paten, the golden plate on which the bread of the Mass would be placed.

 Chalice with paten

The subdeacon read or sang the Epistle and he helped fill the chalice with wine and water and presented it to the priest. And in the Latin rite, for some strange reason, the bread was laid directly on a linen cloth next to the chalice for much of the Mass, from the Offertory til the close of the Paternoster, during which time, the subdeacon kept the paten safe in its veil.

Talk about Catholic esoterica. As for what it means...I have the rest of the day to ruminate on that.

Pyrrhic and frisbee

Someone I know managed in one day to use the word "fetid", to reference and refresh, both humorously and pointedly, the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, to propose Marilyn Munster as an archetype, and to be both appealing and infuriating.

Insurance companies make memorable series of ads. Geico has the cavemen and the gecko with the Brit accent.  AllState has the testosterone reverberations of Dennis Haysbert and the metaphorical mayhem of Dean Winters, and now StateFarm has the impossibly overcute Puerto Rican guy with Grand Canyon dimples. Progressive has the female comic with too much lipstick. Progressive lives up to its name: all the dopes in their skits are always white men. 

CSI is much less interesting to watch with Grissom gone. Catherine is the grim humorless androphobic replacement. Never liked her. Laurence Fishburne is an eccentric but solidly interesting addition. Pleasingly, his race is taken for granted and never mentioned, unlike the gender blahblah the show often indulges in. CSI Miami has always been unwatchable. Two words: David Caruso.

Made dinner from a Paula Dean recipe for eggplant casserole with clams. Mediocre results. But the chilled Pinot G was nice. Good for my cold.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Secure at last

The data backup program I installed 11 days ago finally finished backing up my stuff this morning. I am now, at last, secure.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Long ago

Beaver's mom died. She was 94.


The new promo ads for MSNBC. Could they be any stupider? Directed by Spike Lee. Oy.


I have always been fascinated with language. I grew up in an Irish American family, so English was the sole language in our house, with the exception of a few remnants of Gaelic. I learned from my grandmother the following gems, with her sometimes incorrect pronunciation.

Caid mille failte  (Kayd milla fawlcha)
Ten Thousand Welcomes

Slainte (Sloncha)
To your health

An sagart  ('N soggert)

Sassenach    (Sossenock)

prata    (prawtee)

I n-ainm an athar, agus an mhic, agus an sprid naoimh
(Inanya manaha awgus avic awgus shprig naha)

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

and the very useful

Pogue mahon (Pog mahone)

Kiss my ass.

In fourth or fifth grade, to become an altar boy, I learned the Latin responses of the Mass by rote and phonetically, the way Muslim kids learn the Koran without knowing Arabic. The Confiteor and the Suscipiat were the toughest. 
Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis 
ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui 
ad utilitatem quoque nostram 
totiusque ecclesiae suae sanctae.
My dad had been an altar boy, so he helped me with them. 

Since I grew up in New York, with so many Jews around, I assumed that some words I later found out to be Yiddish were just English. When I moved to Ohio, for instance, and discovered Oy vey that not everyone knew schlep schlemiel schlemazl schiksah meshuggah schande or shabbas.

When I was in eighth grade, I undertook to teach myself Spanish, using Margarita Madrigal's Magic Key To Spanish (illustrated by Andy Warhol in 1951!), which I took out from the library. A great way to learn Spanish. In my senior year of high school, I was taking Latin, Greek, French and Spanish. I later tackled Italian, German, Esperanto, Hebrew, Irish and Coptic. Didn't always win! Note: Hebrew is way easier than Irish. Even with the different alphabet. The Irish spelling-pronunciation dynamic is rough.

While I'm at it ("rough" reminded me), GB Shaw proposed an alternative alphabet for English, phonetic. It looked like shorthand. He pointed out the oddness of English spelling by saying that the word "ghoti" should be pronounced "fish". Gh from rough, o from women and ti from nation.

I can often recognize a language being spoken, even if I don't speak it. I can usually tell Mandarin from Cantonese Chinese, and Korean from Japanese. I recognize Arabic when I hear it. Slavic languages are harder to distinguish, though some forms of Russian can't be anything but Russian. Scandinavian tongues are hard to distinguish from each other (except Finnish). I can usually tell Dutch from German.

Part of my attraction to esoteric info is etymology. People love to point out how the history of Chinese word is visible in its ideograph. Well, same is true for languages like ours.

My discovery today --dontcha feel smarter already?--is the origin of the now universal Italian greeting, Ciao. It can be used both as a farewell and a hello. My usual Italian lingo consultant guessed, understandably, that it came from Greek. But it's from Italian itself. The very formal antique way of signing a letter in English, "your obedient servant", had its counterpart in Italian, "il tuo schiavo", your slave. And in Venice this became a verbal as well as a written form, pronounced in Venetian style where schiavo, usually skyavo, becomes shavo. Hence, ciao.

Cool, no? And pretty recherche.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Hamburger with gorgonzola, surrounded with sauteed spinach with garlic and chopped tomatoes. Pinot G for vino. Nice.

Poor girlz

Bill O'Reilly argued on The View that no mosque should be built near Ground Zero and two of the wymyn, Joy Behar and Whoopie Goldberg, walked off stage in a huff. Grin :)))))))))


Two TV guys I like to watch. James Roday as Shawn on Psych. And Hugh Laurie as Dr. House on House.

They're impossible. They drive everyone around them nuts. I like them. QED.

Topsy turvy

We live in a strange culture, where holding incorrect ideas about women, minorities or the poor can get you socially ostracized, lose your job or wind up in court, but you can give aid and comfort to your country's mortal enemies and get help from Congress.  HT to FB friend Charles Winecoff.

A Canadian (!) friend sent me this piece

I'm tired and I'm 63.

I’ll be 63 soon. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce, and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I’ve worked, hard, since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven’t called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there’s no retirement in sight, and I’m tired. Very tired.

I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth around” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy or stupid to earn it.

I’m tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to “keep people in their homes.” Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I’m willing to help. But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the leftwing Congresscritters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them—with their own money.

I’m tired of being told how bad America is by leftwing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the religious freedom and women’s rights of Saudi Arabia, the economy of Zimbabwe, the freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Gay people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of Venezuela. Won’t multiculturalism be beautiful?

I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family “honor;” of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t “believers;” of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery;” of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and Shari’a law tells them to.

I believe “a man should be judged by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin.” I’m tired of being told that “race doesn’t matter” in the post-racial world of President Obama, when it’s all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of US Senators from Illinois. I think it’s very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the emancipation proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less in an all-knowing government.

I’m tired of a news media that thinks Bush’s fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but that think Obama’s, at triple the cost, were wonderful. That thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress, that picked over every line of Bush’s military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his, that slammed Palin with two years as governor for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially the best president ever.

Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News? Get a clue. I didn’t vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004.

I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and madrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America, while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.

I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore’s, and if you’re greener than Gore, you’re green enough.
I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off? I don’t think Gay people choose to be Gay, but I damn sure think druggies chose to take drugs. And I’m tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana. Update: People have written to tell me I'd have more sympathy if this was close to me. It is exactly having seen the destruction of alcoholism and heroin addiction in my own family that makes me pretty intolerant of people who are willing to destroy the people around them to indulge themselves.
I’m tired of illegal aliens being called “undocumented workers,” especially the ones who aren’t working, but are living on welfare or crime. What’s next? Calling drug dealers, “Undocumented Pharmacists”? And, no, I’m not against Hispanics. Most of them are Catholic and it’s been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion. I’m willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person who can speak English, doesn’t have a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military. Those are the citizens we need. Update: A few people have taken this to indicate some bias against Catholics, based on events 400 years ago. While I think they are either too touchy or fail to understand, I was only trying to say that I have zero problem with Catholics wanting to come to the US, but that I have great concerns about Muslims, as a good % of them do want to kill me, or force their religion and moral code on me.

I’m tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people then themselves. Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? Sure. Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years—and still are? Not even close. So here’s the deal. I’ll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we’ll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear. UPDATE: It has rightly been pointed out to me, several times, that I should have included Canadian, Australian and New Zealand troops here. My apologies for slighting these gallant allies of freedom.

I’m tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers—bums are bi-partisan. And I’m tired of people telling me we need bi-partisanship. I live in Illinois, where the “Illinois Combine” of Democrats and Republicans has worked together harmoniously to loot the public for years. And I notice that the tax cheats in Obama’s cabinet are bi-partisan as well.

I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

Speaking of poor, I’m tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn’t have that in 1970, but we didn’t know we were “poor.” The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.

I’m real tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination, or big-whatever for their problems.

Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I’m not going to get to see the world these people are making. I’m just sorry for my granddaughter.

Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate. He blogs at

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Odds and ends

My new data backup program is still uploading. Slowly. 14000 MB in 6 days, 12K left. It slows everything up, but once it's done, I won't have to worry about losing stuff.

A snippet from a romantic TV melodrama. A man and woman arguing at home. The woman gets anxious and wonders aloud if their fight is a sign they are in trouble. Man says, "Babe, I'd rather argue with you for the rest of my life than spend a pleasant evening with any other woman."

I get it. Doesn't make me happy that I do, but I do.

I have not said much about particular politics of late, especially about the current presidential administration. Nothing really new to say. Thought he was a bad bad idea back in 2008. Still do. A very very bad idea. I do not wish him well.

Australian-born conservative philosopher Kenneth Minogue has a new book about the dangers of democracy. He understands democracy somewhat like the Founding Fathers, for whom democracy was not a good thing. They were republicans; they saw that democracies become rule by mobs or by servile clients of a paternalist state. Minogue's POV reminds me of Hayek's Road to Serfdom. He has an elegant parsing of a phenomenon which has puzzled me somewhat: how people in our culture gain status by showing contempt for it. The secularized progeny of the Hebrew prophets. He asks if the anti-Western attitudes of liberal Westerners is a case of cultural abasement or cultural megalomania. His answer: the abasement is collective, the megalomania is individual. Bingo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anonymous and clueless

Got one of those automated comments from an Anonymous named Thomas...

hey your blog design is very nice, clean and fresh and with updated content, make people feel peace and I always like browsing your site.

- Thomas

It was attached to a post of mine called Sex and Violence.

Juris prudence

HT to The Volokh Conspiracy.

Had I been of a different disposition, constitutional law might have been an alternate career.

SECTION 3509-3548

3509. The maxims of jurisprudence hereinafter set forth are
intended not to qualify any of the foregoing provisions of this Code,
but to aid in their just application.

3510. When the reason of a rule ceases, so should the rule itself.

3511. Where the reason is the same, the rule should be the same.

3512. One must not change his purpose to the injury of another.

3513. Any one may waive the advantage of a law intended solely for
his benefit. But a law established for a public reason cannot be
contravened by a private agreement.

3514. One must so use his own rights as not to infringe upon the
rights of another.

3515. He who consents to an act is not wronged by it.

3516. Acquiescence in error takes away the right of objecting to

3517. No one can take advantage of his own wrong.

3518. He who has fraudulently dispossessed himself of a thing may
be treated as if he still had possession.

3519. He who can and does not forbid that which is done on his
behalf, is deemed to have bidden it.

3520. No one should suffer by the act of another.

3521. He who takes the benefit must bear the burden.

3522. One who grants a thing is presumed to grant also whatever is
essential to its use.

3523. For every wrong there is a remedy.

3524. Between those who are equally in the right, or equally in the
wrong, the law does not interpose.

3525. Between rights otherwise equal, the earliest is preferred.

3526. No man is responsible for that which no man can control.

3527. The law helps the vigilant, before those who sleep on their

3528. The law respects form less than substance.

3529. That which ought to have been done is to be regarded as done,
in favor of him to whom, and against him from whom, performance is

3530. That which does not appear to exist is to be regarded as if
it did not exist.

3531. The law never requires impossibilities.

3532. The law neither does nor requires idle acts.

3533. The law disregards trifles.

3534. Particular expressions qualify those which are general.

3535. Contemporaneous exposition is in general the best.

3536. The greater contains the less.

3537. Superfluity does not vitiate.

3538. That is certain which can be made certain.

3539. Time does not confirm a void act.

3540. The incident follows the principal, and not the principal the

3541. An interpretation which gives effect is preferred to one
which makes void.

3542. Interpretation must be reasonable.

3543. Where one of two innocent persons must suffer by the act of a
third, he, by whose negligence it happened, must be the sufferer.

3545. Private transactions are fair and regular.

3546. Things happen according to the ordinary course of nature and
the ordinary habits of life.

3547. A thing continues to exist as long as is usual with things of
that nature.

3548. The law has been obeyed.


says the Hallmark cards, doubles our joy and divides our grief. Really?

Since this is my blog, it concentrates on me and my interest and my responses, etc. I have chronicled parts of my relationship with B here. In the last months, with its limits all too clear, what has mostly shown up is my own sense of loss. But there are two men going through this, not one, each in our own way, but each one much affected by the change. If we hated each other, it would be simpler. Breaking up would be a relief. But the truth is that we both loved each other. And still do. I can say for me and I think it's true for him, in quite unique and even unprecedented ways for us. We've both got criticism and grievances about each other and at times they could be pretty raw. But when they cool down, what you have are two grieving men who are each prisoners of their own hearts.

Left, right, left, hup!

An alternative paradigm of politics, based not on the Left/Right distinction, but on the intersection of whether human nature is innate/constructed and whether the response is individualist/collectivist. Writer thinks that the Tea Party is the descendant of the Hippies...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stepping in it

[Spot where ExCathedra 
would have inserted picture of 
someone stepping in poo, 
were it not for 
ExCathedra's exquisite sensitivities 
to his readers' sensitivities.]

NY Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has stepped in it, into the poo of PC language. The discourse of "homophobia" now rules the so-called discussion. Like all the other phobias and isms, I find them much more useful as rhetorical weapons than as actual purveyors of meaning. But this is also the language of political campaigns, where tribal name-calling has almost always been the order of the day.

As a homosexual homophobe myself, I find the lingo amusing. As I told my ex Thom one night, about the only things I am sure that I like about gay men as a group is that they have sex with other men. The rest of it, not so sure! I am very fond of homosexuality, that is, homosexual sexual activity, but not so fond of the culture of homosexuals, the gay trinity of group victimism, feminist-driven dislike of actual real men, and de rigueur identification with the Democrat party and leftist groups in general.

Mr Paladino does not take kindly to having grade school kids being educated about homosexuality, he finds gay pride parades vulgar and offensive, does not think that equalizing same-sex relationships with opposite-sex ones through gay marriage is a good idea. He likes his gay nephew and would hire homos.

We report. You decide.

Busman's holiday

Happy Columbus Day

In fourteen hundred and ninety two, 
Columbus sailed the ocean blue

...and here we are.

If we were honest and self-confident, we'd name it as Conquering Peoples Day and celebrate the European transformation of the Western Hemisphere, as we used to.

Signor Colombo was in the employ of Ferdinand and Isabella, who had just completed the seven-hundred year old war of liberation of the Christian native peoples of Spain against the imperialist and colonialist Muslim power invading from North Africa...which was itself once part of the Christian Roman Empire, which had then become Muslim due to the imperialism and colonialism of the Arabs' invading and conquering armies.

Grazie, Cristoforo.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In my beginning is my end

Another warm sun-shining morning, door and windows open, with the bells of the local Catholic church ringing ten minutes before Mass. The new crop of lemons on the tree are now out and visible, all green. And the wasps are still alive and well.

I am thinking about origins, with my coffee. On FB, a link to a story that contests the simple Out of Africa theory of human origins, asserting that Europeans are also the result of westward immigration from Asia. (Although I suppose the Asians eventually started out in and from Africa, too?) I apparently means a lot to some people that our species, homo sapiens, had a common and African origin. Is this supposed to make it easier for me to like Hip Hop?

Origins are a tricky business. We live in a Protestant culture where the assumption of primitivity in religion means original purity. Protestantism is always an attempt to recapture the New Testament church, as described in a holy book. But that's just a hermeneutical assumption, that the earliest is the best and purest and that history is always a shabby descent from a Golden Age.

It is funny though, that Jesus' primitive and original choice of 12 male apostles now is treated by Christian liberals as some kind of unfortunate accomodation to patriarchy rather than the golden nucleus of pristine truth. Was the Last Supper the first Mass? Jesus had not yet died on the cross and been raised from the how does that work? Beginnings are always controversial, I think.
And serve an archetypal need.

Founding myths have a lot riding on them. Take the origins of AIDS. The dominant story is that the virus mutated from monkeys to humans in Africa. Many many American blacks believe that it was concocted in CIA laboratories as a way to wipe them out! Tomorrow's Columbus Day was once a proud celebration of "our" civilization, but now "we" have been fractured by multiculturalism into tolerating the deconstructive bitterness of the losers in that battle and the inimical Aboriginal Peoples Day companion myth.

Some AfricanAmericans and their guilt-ridden allies took the African Origins theory to be some kind of racial transformation event. But it soon revealed its limits in white comedians celebrating their roots in Mother Africa. Yeah, right. But even if the species did originate in Africa, it didn't stay there. And one could make the rude but pretty obvious point that the folks who left by and large developed into something far more impressive than the ones who stayed. Origin can also mean primitive in the pejorative sense.

One black preacher took the theme of African origins to assert that Adam and Eve were black. (This is the Black Muslim thesis, too.) Well, if that's so, then we have two black people to blame for Original Sin and the expulsion from Paradise. The sword wielded by the Cherub at the gate cuts more than one way.

The Official Narrative of gay liberation has legions of warrior drag queens at the Stonewall bar fighting the police, thus making drag queens the Adam-as-Eve's of homo culture, untouchable and to be celebrated endlessly. "They were the real men." Maybe, maybe not.

When B and I were doing well, the stories of how we met had, for me, a kind of founding mythology feeling, the Unexpected Stroke of Romantic Good Luck. With the end of our romance, it would be easy just to convert it all into One Big Mistake. My saner self tells me it was and is neither, but the urge to construct an original narrative from the perspective of present need and desire runs deep, about romance, religion, race. And the world itself.

The seven-day creation of Genesis or the fourteen billion year unfolding of the Big Bang? Adam and Eve in the Garden or increasingly clever primates on the African savannah? The alarmed religionists who saw in Darwin's narrative a threat to a settled human identity were not all wrong.

It makes a difference if a people or civilization sees itself as the intentional center of divine and cosmic drama or as one more expression of a random process with a contingent beginning and a dark, if distant, end. That change is still playing out. In the renewed war between Islam and the West (formerly Christendom), for example. It remains to be seen if a culture can remain strong and survive once it abandons its historical sense of divine identity when its rival has rediscovered theirs.

My favorite quote from Eliot, framed by my front door, is from Little Gidding in the Four Quartets:

We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring will be
to arrive  where we started
and know the place for the first time.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Funny + beef = sexy

Comic actor Steve Zahn...

Waking up

I've been awake for a couple of hours. A shot of my kitchen. Floor still shiny. Back door open into the yard. Nice sunny Saturday morning.

Blogger now provides stats as a regular part of its free service. I am confused by them. Excluding my own visits to my own blog, it seems that about 200 pageviews a day are happening. I can't believe this. My most popular all-time posting, however, turns out to be one called Transfiguration, where I put up several pictures of much-tattooed porn actor Logan McCree, starting with him in a business suit and ending with him in his birthday suit. In the contest between angry Muslims and naked men...

A poll on Drudge this morning indicated that Americans now have more fondness for George Bush than for The Lightworker. Although about 90% of blacks still love him. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe for the same reason that 90% of blacks voted for him?

Humans are tribal. Never not so. Since the Sixties, it has been considered shameful by the high-minded to place tribal identity before Higher Values. No one buys this but the shamed high-minded, who are mostly white. But even there, the Liberal Tribe of ideology has replaced regional, ethnic, racial, religious or national tribes. And this Liberal White Tribe grants dispensations to "anyone they deem less fortunate than themselves" to maintain tribal loyalties, a necessity of their oppressed status. Such BS. Like the Norwegian Nobel guy and his assertion that China "as an integrated member of the world community" really should be more accepting when one of their political dissidents gets the prize. Star Trek thinking.

In NYC, a group of Latino gang thugs has apparently serially kidnapped and tortured three men whom they accused of being gay. Sodomizing with an object was part of the scenes for all three, as well as beating, cutting and burning. I was thinking that if any of the men had died and any of the gang scum were sentenced to death, some high-minded asshole would be "concerned" about whether lethal injection made them uncomfortable as they were being executed.  Enantiodromia: how the supposedly most ethical can wind up having no moral sense at all.

The Blue Angels were flying all over town yesterday. I was having lunch and my cat-nephew, blind old Sonny, wandered in from next door and plunked down on my left leg to sleep. I'm a part of his "range." The jets buzzed the neighborhood several times, loudly. He was unmoved. But when I got to the gym, Bill's wolf-dog was freaking out from the noise and took well over an hour or so to calm down after it stopped. Different species sensibilities.

About species. The National Geographic Channel...which cutely calls itself show its own version of Gaian Schadenfreude, Aftermath. A two hour Green apocalypse, celebrating how much better off the planet would be if humanity suddenly disappeared.  One more indication that suicide is the only alternative for liberals, the ultimate secular reparation for our unforgiveable humanity.

Was thinking about the idea of intimacy and my experiences of it. Remembered a moment from my past life when I was accompanying a European cleric on a visit to New York. He mentioned a book he had read, which he called The Divine Intimity. A Spanish-speaker, he had read La Intimidad Divina and mistranslated the noun. When I gently pointed out that he must mean The Divine Intimacy, he was adamant. It was Intimity. That was my first, but far from last, experience of Euro arrogance. When I lived there and when I had to endure some of them back in North America, I was often amazed about their smugness. No wonder the people they colonized --including us--hated them. As far as I can tell, in this respect, whether once imperialist Christians or now trans-national secularists, they remain unchanged.

As for intimacy...another time.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Times and seasons

In my therapy work, I have noticed how varied are the periods of life that different people focus on. I try to follow rather than lead in this respect. Some people talk mostly about the present. Others have times of their pasts that they repeatedly return to. Latency. Or high school. Time in a particular city. I am not sure which parts of my past I return to in thought or narrative. I am pretty sure that high school gets rarely mentioned, for example.

Tonight, though, I am remembering a period of two years or so when I was aware that I was basically bored. All the time. And I was an adult in middle age, not a teenager.  It was not painful and distressing, the way depression can be. I know depression and that was not it. Nothing much really interested me but I was not unhappy about it. I was not exactly content but neither was I actively unhappy. I was aware of what was happening and rather than trying to resist or overcome the mood, I decided to go with it as long as it lasted. Pretty well everything was equally ok with me because I was rather indifferent to it. I am remembering those years tonight because I kind of miss them.

Imagine that

Google has decided that all of us who use it have to know that it's BS artist John Lennon's birthday. I wait to see what they'll do for Columbus Day.

The crooks of the matter

Half-heartedly still looking for wheels. Expanded my search and found a 98 Jeep Grand Cherokee, in my neighborhood, for a price that was...way too good. Copied some of the text from the ad and Googled it. Ta-dah! Turns out this vehicle was being advertized in New Jersey and Alabama as well. Sure sign that if I contacted the seller, I'd be asked to send money and he'd ship the car to me for free. I've run into this scam before. Last time it was supposedly from a guy about to be sent to Afghanistan. Creeps.

Jack and Jean-Luc

I watched some Torchwood episodes recently. Continue to like Captain Jack Harkness. He's unapologetic and he's in charge. (And he kisses guys with gusto. Funny line when faced with a time rift that has folks from the past drifting into Cardiff and he must pacify an angry displaced centurion, "Normally an agitated Roman soldier would make my morning.")   Has no time for sentimental moralism and he does what needs doing. Jean-Luc and his merry band of super-ethical idealists on Star Trek, ceaselessly preaching and pondering from their privileged perch of an unreal utopian world. I'll pass.

Domestic incense

Sun pouring through my open kitchen window, aromatic steam flowing out into the room with the breeze. Mmmmm.

I generally only drink coffee in the morning, with maybe another cup later in the day when I hang out at the gym after workout with Bill. My own brew is half expresso and half French roast. Rich, dark, thick, bittersweet. Very satisfying morning ritual.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

In Italian, it's just one word

Non potei impedirmi.

Strait laced or not

Somethin' about this kind of laced jock does it for me.

Thursday evening

Thank God for the gym. For the last eight years or so, it has become the cornerstone of my mental health. Can't imagine how good I'd feel if, in addition to the other stresses, I was overweight and out of shape. Then I'd be a total mark for the noctural infomercials, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge. I've got crappy knees, so I can't do squats. And I have to watch the lower back; very little concave stress allowed on my old discs. And I have to be aware of my left shoulder. But other than that, I'm ok. And it still surprises and pleases me when I can do my workout, enjoy it, feel good and look good.

At least from the neck down...had my passport photo done yesterday. Yikes. Hello, Boris Karloff. I may ask for a do-over. This image has to last ten years.

My FB friend Leah, from LA, alerted me to something very local that I did not notice:

there's a billboard at one of the gas stations on the corner of Market and Castro announcing a talk by Sarah Palin in San Jose. But, that's me. I have walked past some of the stores on my street for twenty years and don't know their actual names. The liquor store has its own name, but to me it's just the liquor store, etc. I wonder how long the Sarah Palin sign will last here amongst the tolerant and open-minded. One local commentor in the paper said, with no sense of irony, that "we in the Castro are tolerant of everyone except the intolerant, like Palin and the Tea Party and their ilk." Oy.

My sister-in-law's brother is on FB and he noted that their dad had to surrender his driver's license today. He has Alzheimer's and didn't really know what was happening. It reminded me of when my dad had to give up driving, how hard it was for him to lose that independence. In the last few years of his life, one of our routines when I'd visit was me driving us to the town dump to get rid of the recycling. The first time I drove him was strange. A sign of his diminishment. The FB notice brought tears to my eyes, remembering that.

Thank God that this was a sunny day. Helps.

Thursday afternoon

I worked with a couple this morning who clearly love each other but who consistently wind up hurting each other, even when they try not to. It was rough to be there.

My neighborhood. Is it any wonder I'm the way I am?

Uploading to the data storage place is reallllly slow. Could take a week at this rate. But they say that is not unusual. Slow response til then, I guess.

Upcoming weekend in honor of The Genocide, I mean, Columbus Day. Would have been a good couple days to go out of town. Motivation is hard to come by. It's also Fleet Week, with all those beautiful jets flying low and loud (!) over us, annoying the hell out of so many of the hippies.

Time feels very slow moving, shapeless.

Thursday morning

A bit chilly this morning. Some time this month I suspect I'll want to put the heat on for a hour or so to take the edge off.

I don't laugh nearly as much as I used to. But yesterday I told a quirky story to a normally somewhat, well, restrained, friend of mine and he blurted out a reply that was unexpected, outrageous and very funny. As well as having rhetorical balance and punch. I couldn't believe it. A lot of laughing. I miss the laughing.

Backing up my computer to an online service. It'll take days. And although they deny that it would affect current performance, my download speads are at about 25%.

Found an email from November 08 in which the issue that broke up me and B was clear as a bell back then, too. Reading it put a sick grip on my stomach that still has not loosened. Was I dumb? Of course. But I was in love. I plead diminished capacity. I have to give myself credit for hope, anyway. The last evil in Pandora's box.

But hey, my kitchen floor is still shiny!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Strange memories

Last night as I was crossing the street, I found myself reciting a fragment from Calderon de la Barca's Life is a Dream. It was a set of verses we had to memorize when I was first learning Spanish my freshman year of high school. Still remember it, I think. Pardon the lack of proper accents, etc.

Cuentan de un sabio que un dia
tan pobre y misero estaba
que solo se sustentaba
de unas hierbas que cogia.

Habra otro, entre si decia,
mas pobre y triste que yo?
Y cuando el rostro volvio
hallo la respuesta
viendo que otro sabio
iba cogiendo las hojas
que el arrojo.

They tell of a sage who one day
was so poor and miserable
that he just kept himself alive
by picking grass.
Is there anyone else, he asked himself,
poorer and sadder than I?
When he turned around,
he got his answer,
seeing another sage
who was gathering up the blades
that he threw away.

It's an example of how beautiful the Spanish language
can be, even when, or especially when, it is melancholy.
Reminds me of my dad's less elegant line: I was sad
because I had no shoes, until I met a man
who had no feet. I used to roll my eyes when he said that:
Aw Dad, c'mon, please.

Aside from the universal folk wisdom of "It can always be worse",
it reminded me of my teacher. He was a young Puerto Rican monk,
tall, handsome, charming, with an ebullient sense of humor. Always smiling,
and a pleasure to be around, loved by everyone. Because of him I have a slight Borinquen
accent in my Spanish. He died of AIDS in the 1990's.
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