I slept the sleep of the tortured: fitful, broken, and too short. And when I awoke, I knew that not enough time had passed, and so I tried to sleep more, but it never came. ~ L. Liwag

Flower Shop in Paris 

  

“The page, the page, that eternal blankness, the blankness of eternity which you cover slowly, affirming time’s scrawl as a right and your daring as necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch but touching it nevertheless, because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut; the page in the purity of its possibilities; the page of your death, against which you pit such flawed excellences as you can muster with all your life’s strength: that page will teach you to write.” ~ Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

On Saturday, I finally made it into the pool. The dogs have been swimming for a few days, but I wanted sun. The air was filled with the sweet smell of my gardenia bush in bloom, and there was just enough breeze to fool me into thinking that it wasn’t that hot. I was lulled into a wonderful feeling of comfort, arms flung wide, staring up into the clear blue sky, just a few cumulus puffs dotting the sky here and there. 

Silly me. I didn’t even think about putting on sunscreen except for my face. I really don’t know what I was thinking. I stayed out for hours, just enjoying the water, the breeze, the dogs . . . I got sunburned on my arms and chest. 

Beh. 

I never used to get sunburned. Ever. I would give my friends a hard time whenever they burned, taunting them with my olive skin. I suppose this is payback. The other thing that I got from the sun was a migraine, a killer migraine, one that has only this afternoon subsided into a tightness in my forehead. Poor, poor, pitiful me. 

I remember endless summer days spent in the sun, lying on the beach with my friends, or on the catamaran with my friend John, or water skiing with the guys. Good times. Never burned, just browned. When I worked at the newspaper, I finished at 3:30, still early enough to catch some afternoon rays. The summer before I got married to my ex, I worked and sunned. Last summer of my life in which I was able to be carefree and careless with time and money.

an orchid’s scent
its incense perfuming
a butterfly’s wings ~ Basho
Flower Shop in Kuala Lumpur

So today, it’s 75 degrees, almost 20 degrees cooler than this weekend. There were a few thunder boomers last night, but nothing major. 

Last night I watched the movie Memento, with Guy Pearce, Joe Pantoliano, and Carrie-Ann Moss. Wow. What a puzzle, but very deftly done. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the movie combined two different timelines, one ongoing and one flashback. Lots of visual clues, riddles, a few red herrings. The plot revolved around memory, what is real, what is thought to be real, what is imagined. The main character, Leonard (Pearce), suffers from anterograde amnesia: he cannot make new memories. 

I would highly recommend this movie if you liked The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense. That being said, Memento is not as easy to discern as either of those two, not that either of those films were straightforward in any way. Nolan directed the movie in 2000, followed by a few movies with which you may be familiar: the two new Batman movies, The Prestige. If you are interested in an analysis of the movie, Andy Klein wrote a thorough deconstruction for Salon.com. 

Memento had been on my list of movies to see, and I find it very rewarding when I finally see something I’ve had on that list and it turns out to be worthwhile. The other movie that I watched was Valkyrie, with Tom Cruise. This was another one that has been on my list, and unlike many people, I liked it. No, Cruise does not attempt a German accent, but that didn’t bother me, better no accent than a poorly executed accent. 

The plot, in case you don’t know, is based on the July 20 plot to kill Adolf Hitler and real-life Operation Valkryie, which was a plan to call up the German reserve army to maintain order in the case of an emergency. The historical drama depicts the plot, led by Claus von Stauffenberg, the last of 15 failed plots to assassinate Hitler.   

The 2008 movie had quite a cast; aside from Cruise as von Stauffenberg, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Eddie Izzard, Terence Stamp, and Tom Wilkinson all had roles in the Bryan Singer (X-Men) film. I remember that there was a big controversy in casting Cruise because of his scientology beliefs. 

“Life is like Sanskrit read to a pony.” ~ Lou Reed

 


Flower Shop in Bath, England 

 

Alexis came by on her way home from work today. I helped her to find some information on patient assistance with some of the medications that she takes. Having filled out numerous forms for myself, I am fairly familiar with the process. She will not be able to get health insurance at the thrift store as they do not offer it to their employees, even the full-time people. Yet another reason to hope for some kind of healthcare reform. 

I know that I’ve been featuring more political posts than usual, but it seems that every time I sit down to read the daily news, I come across yet more inanity, something that I find very hard to ignore. Ignorance, racism, sexism, hate-mongering—it’s all so disconcerting. 

What is happening to us, to American society? Has the election of a man of color caused so much unrest among those who oppose him—or liberals, or Democrats, or blacks, or whatever it is—that seeing conspiracies and promoting fear have become the societal norm? Has the so-called American way-0f-life been imperiled by putting a black man in the Oval Office, in the same way that electing a Catholic in the 1960s threatened the very fiber of our being? 

I see a lot of similarities to the 1960s, and that’s not a good thing. Yes, the unrest of the 1960s caused major social changes, changes that were desperately needed. But the 60’s also saw discord elevated to levels unparalleled, discord that morphed into senseless violence (race riots, Ohio State), attempts at oppression (Hoover’s FBI). Chillingly, the war in Iraq has now surpassed the Viet Nam War as the longest American war (eight years, eight months, and counting). And the country had a young, idealistic president who many feared just because of who and what he was. 

Remember, the 60’s led to the election of Richard Nixon, gave power to men of questionable scruples, such as Henry Kissinger, and led to a political climate that fostered the events of Watergate. Remember?

“Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash, your picture in the paper nor money in the bank, neither. Just refuse to bear them.” ~ William Faulkner
Flower Shop in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

I know. I am still a starry-eyed idealist in many ways, but that is balanced by my stark realist side. I believe in equality for all peoples, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, or creed. I don’t understand why that is such a hard concept. I also believe that children should not die of hunger or dysentery, that there is no difference in the capabilities of the sexes, and that there is no such thing as a good war. At the same time, I know that people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Steve Blair—who thrive on discontent, who cultivate a fear of otherness, who opine loudly as if the tone and timber of a voice is all that is needed to make it right—people such as these have millions of followers. 

And quite frankly, that scares the hell out of me. It also frightens me that I sometimes self-censor on this blog because I do not want the crazies to find me. In essence, I am allowing myself to be repressed out of my own unwillingness to cater to confrontation. Bearing that in mind, I do not apologize for my political posts, even though this is not a political blog. I do not apologize for who I am, for what I believe, or for where I stand on the issues that are important to me. 

I’m certain that I will continue to have political posts because people will continue to amaze me with their brazen bigotry. People will continue to astound me with their asinine declarations. As long as events continue to occur that make me stop and say WTF, I will continue to opine, and if you find my posts offensive, then exercise your Constitutional freedom not to read me. 

I won’t hold it against you. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Mazzy Star, “Take Everything” 

“The 700 Club and The Weather Channel”

 gay-marriage-sticker1

Stephen Colbert Takes on the National Organization for Marriage

National Organization of Fear-Mongering

gathering-storm-slide-cropped
Image from "Gathering Storm": Woman on Left represents physician; woman on right is "afraid"

On April 8, 2009, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) released a $1.5 million ad (using this term very loosely) called “The Gathering Storm” to be played in certain market sectors of the U.S. The ad was set to run on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. The ad is set to air eight times per day in New York (which is considering lifting the ban on gay marriage), Connecticutt, Rhode Island, and California (which banned gay marriages with Proposition #8).

In this ad, a seemingly diverse group of people talk about a “coming storm.” That storm is . . . wait for it . . . Gay Marriage. Quick, hide the children and the dogs (ToTo, too) before they get ideas in their heads.

These seemingly everyday people are standing around hither and yon, with body posture akin to the people in The Invasion,with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, you know the ones, the ones who have been vomited into, hence causing a psuedo-catatonic state of well-being.

One woman purports to be “afraid” by saying, and I quote: “I’m afraid.” Another woman says that she is a doctor who must choose between her religion and her job;another woman is a parent who must stand idly by while her children are brainwashed in public schools about alternate lifestyles. Ultimately, the message is that straight people will lose their rights if this rampant gay storm thingy isn’t stopped.

Teeth gnashing and hair pulling from the viewing audience. “What are we to do? Oh no. They are among us.”

They being the LGBT community.

Now, I’m not trying to make light of an offensive commercial that tries to scare people into opposing same-sex unions. Okay, well maybe I am, but only because the video is so terribly preposterous. The video doesn’t even really tackle the issue of same-sex marriages, instead focusing on issues of how homosexuality affects people of faith.

wicked-witch-of-the-west
Wicked Witch of the West . . . and flying monkey!

A “storm” coming? (Insert Wicked Witch of the West music here.) What happened to the North Koreans and Iran and nuclear weapons? Aren’t those bigger storms that would affect everyone? How about the man-made economic disaster facing the globe? I don’t remember seeing any trance-inducing videos taking on that really large problem.

Or Mt. Hood? Now that was a real storm coming: an ash storm. My god. Think of the innocent plants that suffered in that layer of sooty sludge.

Or flying monkeys, perhaps?

Okay. I’ll stop being silly.

“Pursuing a mission on behalf of a conjugal conception of marriage” . . . Excuse me, as opposed to a non-conjugal conception of marriage?

NOM was co-founded in 2007 by Princeton professor Robert George and Maggie Gallagher, both formerly of  The Institute for American Values. According to Gallagher, who says that she is “personally very proud” of the ad, NOM “pursues its mission mainly by public education and advocacy on behalf of the conjugal conception of marriage as the permanent and exclusive union of husband and wife” (from an interview with the Prince in September 2008). 

The video includes the following statements made by the 14 individuals (actors) who are supposed to represent everyday, albeit straight, citizens:

“There’s a storm gathering. The clouds are dark. And the winds are strong. And I am afraid. Some who advocate for same-sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same-sex couples. They want to bring the issue into my life. My freedom will be taken away.”

“But some who advocate for same-sex marriage have not been content with same-sex couples living as they wish,” the ad continues. “Those who advocate want to change the way I live. I will have no choice. The storm is coming.”

equal-rights-for-all-american-buttonThis video has caused such a stir that spoofs of it went viral on YouTube almost immediately. Personally, I like the one by Stephen Colbert, which I have provided for your viewing enjoyment. This spoof is not a supposed anti-gay attack as I read on one site. Rather, it’s a very clear case of satire.

You know, satire? That rhetorical device that employs irony and sarcasm to hold up for inspection some kind of human folly, or lampooning, my favorite form of satire, which is specifically political in nature and takes no prisoners in revealing, usually through broad humor, weaknesses in opponents—something at which Stephen Colbert is particularly adept.

After airing the original NOM video, Colbert declared “I love that ad. It is like watching The 700 Club and The Weather Channel at the same time.” He then presented his own take:

 

 

“I’m a homophobe and I’m okay.” Now everybody sing . . .

But let’s look at some facts, shall we? The video uses actors to send this message of bigotry and terror. What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

Instead of paying people to look wooden in a badly-written segment, if you truly believe in something, why not use real people who share your views. We saw from the recent presidential campaign just how well that tactic worked. Who can forget Joe the Plumber sticking his nose in front of the camera at every opportunity in support of the GOP’s ticket?

Or what about delusional lady who McCain had to take the microphone from because she was on a toot about Obama being an Arab? Now these were people you could believe in. They were real. They hadn’t been paid to say the things that they were saying (well, maybe Joe was, but who really cares because he was such a good source for liberals to heap outrage upon).

All of that being said (in my roundabout way), I still contend that given the ad’s purpose and message, real people should have been used, you know, real homophobes. For example, if the female actor was representing a real doctor who was upset about choosing her profession or her religion—and we know that she was because I’ll give you the case in just a sec—why not let the real doctor speak out on the subject? Is NOM protecting her (the doctor’s) right to privacy by insisting that gay marriage is not private?

After all, this physician chose not to give treatment to a patient because of that patient’s sexual orientation. If this doctor is such a staunch believer in her faith, give her the forum to allow her speak for herself. I say, stand up for your homophobic rights. Put up or shut up, as the old saying goes.

(According to the Human Rights Campaign, the video character of the female physician refers to the Benitez decision in California, determining that a doctor cannot violate California anti-discrimination law by refusing to treat a lesbian based on religious belief. http://www.hrc.org/12470.htm. And then there’s little thing called the Hippocratic Oath, but that’s probably just a technicality now.)

LIFE GAYSBut my real point is—and I do have one—the message in “Gathering Storm” isn’t just about gay marriage; it’s also about the imposition of  gay rights’ issues against people of faith. It’s a tried and true political tactic: scare people with misinformation, and for good measure, threaten their faith.

My freedom will be taken away.” Which freedom, specifically? And how will that freedom be taken away, specifically?  These generalizations do nothing but cause anxiety among people who fall prey to fear-mongering, accepting as facts statements that are opinions, and not in an humorous, ‘we’re being silly’ kind of way.

As Gallagher states: “[Gay marriage] is not a private act . . .You change the legal definition of marriage, you change the meaning for everyone, not just the gay couple down the block.” Gallagher’s statement directly mirrors the information on NOM’s website, which contends that “gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose, [but] they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”

I’m not really sure what Gallagher and NOM mean by that. Not in my neighborhood?  Not down my block? Or probably something more insidious, like, ‘they have a right to live as they choose, but we don’t really want to let them choose.

But there I go again, making assumptions. More later. Peace.

Separate But Equal

Proposition 8

This is the actual wording of Proposition 8:

ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME–SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

  • Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
  • Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

On November 4th, this nation took a giant leap of faith and voted to elect the first black president into office. On the same day, California, Florida, and Arizona banned gay marriages in their states, with the passing of California’s Proposition 8 largely seen as the biggest loss of gay rights in the country. Arkansas also passed a measure preventing gay men and lesbians from adopting children.

California has long been viewed as a barometer of the nation’s acceptance of gay marriage. The state will still allow civil unions or domestic partnerships, which have many of the same rights of marriage; however, for many gays and lesbians, a civil union is hardly the same thing as a marriage. It is akin to that old “separate but equal” standard that many minorities used to face before desegregation: You can have this kind of union, and it’s just as good as a marriage. Sure, but not quite.

But even Arizona and Florida will not offer civil unions. To date, thirty states have passed bans on gay marriage. Only Massachusetts and Connecticut remain as states where same-sex marriages are legal.  More than 40 states now have Constitutional bans or laws against same-sex marriages.

The irony of the loss of civil rights for one group of people coupled with the tremendous gains of civil rights by another group of people cannot and should not be ignored. Gays and lesbians are taking the defeat hard, as well they should, just as their black brothers and sisters are rejoicing at finally winning a place at the head of the table.

As Julius Turman, a chairman of the Alice B. Toklas L.G.B.T. Democratic Club, a gay political group, said when he called his mother in tears when Mr. Obama won the presidency: “It is the definition of bittersweet.”  “As an African-American, I rejoiced in the symbolism of yesterday,” Mr. Turman said.  “As a gay man, I thought, ‘How can this be happening?’ only to be crying over the same-sex marriage vote in a different way not much later.” (NYT)

Why does it have to be this way? Why does there always have to be a great divide?

Funding From LDS

Religious organizations that supported Proposition 8 included the Roman Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, and especially, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), who publicly supported the proposition and encouraged its membership to donate time and money to helping the initiative pass. The LDS provided about 45 percent of out-of-state contributions (Utah Daily Herald). An estimated $35.8 million was spent to help Proposition 8 pass.

When asked, students of BYU in Utah stated that they believed that their work on helping to pass Proposition 8 was “needed” and “important.” According to one student, “I think it was needed for people like me. I’m not really into politics and I don’t know that much, but to be informed by the leaders of our church I think was needed by us.” (http://ldsfocuschrist.blogspot.com/2008/10/2008-byu-idaho-students-reaction-to.html) 

Reaction From the Community

Following passage of Proposition 8, mass protests took place across the state in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco. Opponents of Proposition 8 included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with twenty other members of the 53 member California congressional delegation and both of California’s U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Ten of the states largest newspapers editorialized against the proposition, including The San Diego Tribune and The Los Angeles Times.

The Human Heart

All of the facts and statistics above notwithstanding, the really egregious aspect of Proposition 8 is the fact that it exists at all. Why does it matter? Why should you care what other people want to do with their lives? How many of you out there don’t even know that you have gay or lesbian children because your children are too afraid to tell you? What business is it of ours who someone loves? Love is such a scarcity in this world—real love that is. When a person finds love with another person, we should rejoice, not condemn.

What two people share in moments of quiet togetherness, it is theirs and theirs alone. Who are we to intrude and impose upon them our beliefs? Who are we to say what is right and just? Who are we to say who and when they should love? Why is love between a man and a woman, which usually ends in divorce one out of every two times, better? 

When you look upon the face of true love, is it not incredible to behold? Are you not better for having seen it? Do you not find yourself feeling more alive, more vibrant, if only for a moment? Consider yourself lucky to have been included in its circle, no matter who the participants are. Because those who love, always enrich those around them in some way.

At least, that is what I have found to be true, especially of my gay friends who have been denied the basic rights that straight couples have enjoyed for years—the right to own property together, the right to share family insurance policies, the right to be named next of kin, the right to visit in an intensive care room—seemingly mundane rights that we take for granted. That is what Proposition 8 denies. The right to fight over holiday dinners, the right to argue over whose mother is more of a pain, the right to have in-laws: Everyone should have to have those rights if straight people have to suffer them, then so should gay people.

But seriously, those of you who would be so small minded that you cannot look past a person’s sexual orientation are no better than those who could not look past the color of a person’s skin. You have just traded one bigotry for another.

Special Comment by Keith Olbermann

 

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

– Lao Tzu

 

More Later. Peace.