Monday, December 31, 2007

Teenage Pain

The film, Get Real, paints a realistic, and bleak picture of growing up gay in high school. Steven knows he's gay, and he's bullied in his school because classmates perceive he is gay. No place is safe for him, at school or at home. The plot is predictable, but in its complications, Stephen eventually ends us in a sexual romance with one of his classmates, a popular athlete, John. The film has a great sense of the teenage experience, its angst, desperate love, fear of discovery, and violence.

More than that, the film feels realistic. It has the usual stock characters (the bully, the understanding Mom, and the flipped out Dad, the fat girl next door), but the two main characters are played for real. I remember being in the adolescent closet, navigating through a hostile time and place. I remember hiding behind a personality that wasn't really me. The film portrayed those feelings in a nuanced and truthful way.

Being a gay adolescent means being stigmatized. The film captures the (violent) closet, the ostracism, and the head-over-heels delight of teenage star-crossed love.

Looking Back

I suppose it's obligatory to look back over the year and say something grand. 2007 had it's surprises, like I'm not at work today. It's been a pretty good year, though. I don't have many complaints.

I suppose the biggest story in our household is that both of us retired, but close to that was a sailing trip in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and an International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs convention in Denver. On the same trip, Tim, Grace, and I stayed at the Carr Manor in Cripple Creek. It's one of the best B&Bs I've stayed in, and you're 10,000 feet in the air (welcome to the Mile High Club, more comfortable than the toilet on a jetliner).

Other things: I finally joined a gym, and we'll see if I can keep to it. I'm tired of feeling like the Michelin Man. Ron got me over to Balleys, and I'm trying to get my money's worth. Ron's been working out forever. He's cute, happy, unassuming, and dramatically handsome. He attributes it all to his gym workouts. I'm hoping for the same results over the next 40 years.

Tonight, we're going to a New Years Eve party in Arlington. With any luck, we won't be slaughtered by a drunk driver on the Interstate. We've gone to this particular celebration for several years. It's a naked party of several dozen gay men. It's always full of good cheer, and lots of fun.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Charlie Wilson's War

Ron and I went to the movies this afternoon. You should see Charlie Wilson's War (if you aren't offended by the word, "fuck"). It's an interesting political thriller and war movie all rolled into one. Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (no Truman Capote!) give great performances that move the film along at a crisp pace. The biggest criticism I have is that some of the dialogue is muffled or lost.

After seeing the movie, check out Joanne Herring's website. The rich live differently than you and I, and she has way too much money to spend on her pet causes, like U.S. foreign policy.

The First Afghan War

I'm listening to the radio, hearing news of unrest in Pakistan caused by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It's an eerie counterpoint to the film, Charlie Wilson's War. The news also reported a new Bin Laden tape. The airwaves are full of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Ron and I went to see Charlie Wilson's War today. It's déjà vu all over again. The film is a fascinating tale of the life of the rich, the life of the hopeless, and the life of our elected officials. Many scenes in the movie are priceless, including the opening footage showing a naked Congressman in a hottub full of Las Vegas showgirls, and the grilling of the same Congressman by the President of Pakistan and two senior Pakistani officials.

Tom Hanks plays Congressman "Good Time" Charlie Wilson. Julia Roberts plays Texas socialite Joanne Herring. (Check out her web site!) Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays CIA operative Gust Avrakotos. The acting is believable, and the movie, for all of its serious themes, is more a comedy than a historical recounting. It ends up, though, a sobering reminder of how a determined small group of people can (and do) change history, people who are completely unbeholden to the rest of us.

Unintended consequences?

Sex Obsessed

I think it's probably a guy thing. And it doesn't get any better with age, at least it hasn't for me. I have whole weeks when it's nothing but sex on the brain, and this has been one of those weeks.

There's the excitement of expectation, the thrill of the physical moment, and the ecstacy of the little death that sends one to a magical dreamland. It's also the emotional and physical connection with the other guy.

We usually end up sharing a drink or eating a meal, having a spirited conversation about Barack Obama (or John Edwards), then a kiss goodbye. The real problem for me, though, is that it makes me even more eager for next time. So I think about it, and then I have sex on the brain again.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Benazir Bhutto was assassinated yesterday. I heard about it while fixing my breakfast, when only scattered reports were available. By now, of course, it's all over the news.

The air is full of speculation. Some rioting has occurred in Pakistani cities. Partisans point fingers at the government, and the government points fingers at Al Qaeda in Pakistan. What's clear is that democracy is the victim, and many more people will die violent deaths before this is all over.

So why do I mention this on a gay blog? This has a lot to do with religious fundamentalism, social intolerance, extreme conservatism, grinding hopeless poverty, and a hopeless future. None of these forces bode well for our world.

I don't have any words to express my feelings for this event. I can't imagine living in a place where resorting to violence to settle political and religious differences is a daily occurrence.

Animal Attraction

I'm not sure what it is, but sometimes, I can't help myself. Well, actually, I can, and I do.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Own Mystery of Christmas

I realize after the day is over how much a hold this holiday has over me (and everybody else). I'm sure that part of it is being born into a Christian tradition, and habitually celebrating it. Of course, the attention paid to Christmas for the last two months is relentless. You can't escape it.

But there is a deeper kind of meaning and yearing that I don't let go. Ron and I don't celebrate the holiday very much. He's Jewish. Neither of us are religious or traditional believers. Still, the holiday has an attraction and a comfort for me.

I enjoy being on the outside of the holiday. I don't have to be caught up in the gift-giving or the flurry of the holiday. Admittedly, I do send out my annual holiday letter, and I do prepare small gifts for people, but we don't get seized by the season. It magically creeps up on me. I love the lights and decorations, particularly on the dark, dreary nights. I enjoy the tastes and smells of seasonal foods, and I love to prepare those foods.

But it's the fellowship I really treasure. In the darkest days of the year, I gather with my family in drinking, eating, retelling stories, and fitting comfortably into a place and a state of mind that is nourishing, fruitful, and abundant. That's the gift-giving that delights me: the nourishing, life-giving smiles, hugs, and kisses of the people I love.

I am grateful for an opportunity to celebrate their affection and their love, and I hope that I reflect that out to the other people I touch during this season, a dark time of year, but so ripe with light and hope.

Swell Holidays!

I had a very happy Christmas holiday, celebrating with my boyz: Ron, Tim, Perry, and Brian. We got together on Christmas Eve at Tim's and started off with wine, cheese, and pate. We then migrated over to Greystone Grill for a very nice dinner. Brian joined us at the restaurant. Their bartender makes a decent sidecar.

After dinner we moseyed back to Tim's for some fruitcake, and an excellent dessert wine, all mixed in with some wonderful conversation, and Brian telling us about getting all tied up with a former work colleague just before Christmas. We then shared some frank appraisals about Craigs List.

Christmas Day I cooked Donald Duck! I had lots of fun working with Donald. I used Julia Child's recipe, Designer Duck, p. 178, The Way to Cook, Julia Child, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1989.

Basically, you half-roast the duck in a hot oven for a half hour. Skin the bird (reserving the skin), remove the breast meat and slice each breast into a half-dozen medallions, remove the wings, legs, and thighs.

You coat the wings, legs, and thighs with dijon mustard, then bread with dried crumbs, and bake in a hot oven until they are roasted.

You finish off the medallions, by placing them in a skillet, seasoning them, adding a chopped scallion, and a little broth and port and poaching just until the meat is pink.

Finally, you slice the skin into quarter-inch strips and bake in a hot oven until the skin is brown and the fat is rendered out.

I arranged the medallions on greens, added a leg or a thigh to the plate, then sprinkled with the duck skin cracklings. It was a lip-smacking experience. Ron made a red rice pilaf that really paired well with the duck, and we also had some cranberry relish. Perry joined us for Donald's last dinner.

After dinner, I phoned with my sister and my twin brother. Later Ron and I watched Lorenzo's Oil, a sad, but very interesting medical mystery. I ended the day talking with my older brother, and reminiscing about my father's sermons among other thing.

I love this holiday for the connections, the heart, the flavors and smells, the lightness of step, the reflection, and the family that is mine.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What Gay Men Do on Sunday Mornings

We go to the Silver Diner, and we shop at Whole Foods. Yep, the boys were on the prowl on Rockville Pike. We are such a merry crew. I wore my Santa hat, figuring it fitted the occasion. It's a very grey day out with thick fog in Wheaton. But we went out anyway. Ron tried a new item at the Diner: peanut butter and banana stuffed French toast. The concept was great, but it had too much peanut butter. Perry and I stuck to our usual pork products.

The scene at Whole Foods was a little desperate. People clogged the aisles looking for that special something that will turn Christmas dinner into something memorable. I did my desperate shopping on Friday, so I could inwardly gloat at the discomfort of others today.

I finally hung Kat's watercolor of the Palouse Hills in the living room. It is a beautiful picture. The wall behind and around it really needs repainting. I guess that's another retirement project. This time, I measured very carefully before hanging the picture, and I think I did a pretty good job of it. Ron usually complains (with justification) about how badly I hang pictures, but he hasn't seen it yet. On the other hand, the picture always looks better on the wall than sitting on the floor looking very lonely.

Kat's Painting
Kat's Watercolor

Kat's one of my sisters. She's an artist who lives in Moscow, Idaho. I really enjoy her work. This watercolor captures just about everything I love about the Palouse Hills.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hate in the U.S.A. -
I'm Feeling Like a Target

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) publishes a magazine, Intelligence Report. The Report is an unrelenting litany of hate across the United States. I'm amazed at the world views of the haters, bigots, and killers profiled in the Report. These are twisted people with dark minds, small hearts, and no charity. I read the magazine from cover to cover, and came away feeling profoundly depressed.

The SPLC shines a bright light into some very dark corners of America. After reading the publication, I feel like a target: I'm a gay atheist in a committed relationship with a secular Jewish gay man. Much of my family is African American.

The SPLC web site has a Hate Map of the United States. On the map, I clicked Maryland. My state (the "Free State") is home to ten hate groups: two Ku Klux Klan groups, four Neo-Nazi groups, two white nationalist groups, one racist skinhead group, and one black separatist group. I'm betting that every one of those groups hates me.

Donald, Duck!

So today, I went out a bought a dead duck. I've named the duck Donald, and I sure hope he (she?) isn't tough. I know he's dead, because he's frozen. I am always amazed how far removed a duck is from the farm when it's wrapped in plastic, and available in the freezer section of the super market. Donald is now sitting in the refrigerator, thawing out.

I haven't cooked a duck in 39 years. I'm looking forward to the adventure. The instructions on the packaging are straightforward, but I'm going to consult Julia and Craig before doing too much. I thought about Figgy Pudding, but I'm going to put that off to 2008.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Line of Beauty

Ron and I saw The Line of Beauty the other night. It's a three-part mini-series that had been offered on the BBC. We saw it through NetFlix, one of the greatest inventions in the world.

It's the story of Nick Guest, a gay grad student, who is befriended by (a very straight) Toby Fedden, the son of a rich family and the child of an ambitious father who's a member of Parliament. Nick is from the middle class, and is awed by the extravagance of the Fedden household. He quickly becomes part of the household.

So it sounds very much like some other British dramas, but the denouement here is painful to watch as Nick gets undone. It's the Icarus story. But it's a type of hubris that could easily be walked into. Were I Nick, I'm not sure that I would have done anything differently than he.

The most shocking part of the story is the absolute stigmatization of Nick's homosexuality. Throughout the drama, Nick has to account for the closetedness of others, and in fact as a gay man, I cut a lot of slack to other gay men who are closeted. But then, in the end, we're accused of being deceitful, dishonest because we either kept it a secret, or kept someone else's secret.

Of course, the people who accuse Nick of this dishonesty don't want to know he is gay or if they do, they don't want it to be known. Nick, and gay people generally, are forced to collude in this ugly secret, ugly only because straight people persist in stigmatizing homosexuality as degrading, unnatural, perverted, whatever - and because straight people are held captive to this belief, a belief not supported by fact, a belief that is false on its face.

So in the tale, Wani dies of AIDS and to the very end cannot tell his Lebanese Gazillionaire father that he is gay. Leo dies of AIDS and cannot tell his religious mother that he is gay. Gerald accuses Nick (and all homosexuals) of insinuating himself into his family just so he can destroy the family that he cannot have. This story sounds absurd, unreal. Except that it isn't. I know from my own experience that my straight friends don't quite "get" me because of my homosexuality. And I know that they do not value my relationships and my family in the same way that they expect me to value theirs. And I know that they think AIDS is a gay disease. And I know that they think I'm a fucking pervert.

And every gay man and every lesbian and every transgendered person and every bisexual need to get very, very angry. I flout my life so that if "they" (and here I'm being paranoid, but not really) ever come to get me, they'll have plenty of reason to.

Now that I'm Retired

I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.... Today I finished up the Christmas cards. I also need to go to Target and get a pair of jeans. I ripped out my crotch (really!) while square dancing last night. This was potentially far worse than Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. I wasn't wearing any underwear, and I was quite concerned about my equipment. We're talking about a rip that starts directly at my crotch, and proceeds six inches down my right leg. Very scary dancing.

While seeing Tim on Saturday, he and I made reservations at a steakhouse for Christmas Eve for the four of us (+Perry and Ron). We figured all of us could find something on the menu. Perry vetoed a tapas restaurant, and I'm betting that Ron probably had a sigh of relief over that. In any case, I'm sure we'll have lots of fun. You'll undoubtedly read more about it here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's Over!

At 11:23 a.m. on December 14, 2007, I walked out the front door of Fannie Mae. I am retired! To celebrate, Ron and I went to the American Chemical Society Holiday party. It was nice of them to throw one for me.

We had a good time. Because I've been eating so much the last few days (four different retirement meals), I ate sparingly at the party, but Ron sampled some of the other stuff I missed. I live vicariously through him. We saw some of his unretired, former co-workers. I had a grand conversation with Mary who is the wife of Ron's former boss. She's a choreographer, and immediately I began to see how central she is to my ambitions for exhibition square dancing!

We also ran into Cheryl and Paul who are contra dancers at Glen Echo. I think I can talk Tim into a Glen Echo adventure some Friday evening. My retirement is off to a great start!

Monday, December 10, 2007

To Kill a Mockingbird

Ron and I have recently seen a whole slew of movie classics. It's been quite a cinematic education for us. Last night, we watch To Kill a Mockingbird. Gregory Peck is larger than life in this film. I've heard of his performance most of my life. It is one of Hollywood's best. I was surprised how atmospheric the movie is, and how big a role the three children play. It neatly frames the trial.

As a statement about racial prejudice and the miscarriage of Southern justice, the film could not have been a better propaganda piece. I think it's effective because it never overplays the scenes. The story is always seen from Scout's perspective, which leaves us a dispassionate observer watching passionate (hateful) people, then asking her father the important questions.

Christmas Cards

I've been manufacturing holiday cards today. I've been printing out lots of notecards, too. I ran through my color ink cartridge in less than a week. Oh well. It's that time of year, and I'm semi-organized. All I need to do is get the necessary packaging and some postage, then I'll be set.

Not much to report on the gay front. We had a square dance on Saturday, and I looked gay, at least festive. I wish more were happening on the gay front, but it's been pretty quiet, mainly because Ron pulled out his back on Thursday. I should not complain. So, less sex, more cooking. I guess that's okay. We did see To Kill a Mockingbird last night. It was the first time for both of us.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Beginning of My Personal Creed

I believe in a singular beginning before which nothing existed and for which no cause is posited.

I believe in a universe that through its chaos spawned the conditions necessary for life, consciousness, awareness, and autonomy.

I believe in awareness and autonomy that give human beings purpose, and from that purpose human beings are capable of moral acts that preserve life, foster awareness, and temper autonomy. We are impelled in our autonomy to be isolated and alone. We are engaged in our awareness to overcome isolation and find relationships with others.

I believe in love, those physical, chemical, and psychological processes that breach our personal autonomies, and forge our separate lives into shared relationships. I believe this communal love moves us as aware and autonomous beings toward our highest, noblest purposes.

We celebrate each other in our shared consciousness, and when our autonomous, conscious existence ends, our literal existence shall continue until the last proton decays.

Reflexively, He Wrote

I wrote this response to the interrogatory, "Who is answering this question?"

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dancin' with Reindeer
Dancing' with Reindeer
Photo Credit: Tim

Dancing with Rudolph

We're having a square dance tonight. There's a prize for wearing the most red - so I'm dressing as a very gay, red elf. We'll see what Rudolph thinks.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Less Intrigue, Less Mystery

See my entry for October 15. This story in the Washington Post is just sad. It's also depressing. I know Steven Saleh. I know his apartment on the second floor of the Envoy. I've seen Steve's medicine cabinet. I can picture in my mind where the police found each body. The police found no evidence of foul play. Both men probably died from alcohol-related drug interactions.

I read the article. It rattled my head. I'm doing some emotional rubbernecking. I feel sorry for all three of the men, but I don't want to slow down and examine the wreckage. I don't want to see this accident up close. More than drugs are toxic here. What a pointless way for a life to end, twice.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm Behind

Happy, Looking Sage

I have exactly four days of work, then I retire. This is a very strange place for my head. Speaking of which, here is a picture of my head. That shirt is my party shirt, only because of it's holiday colors and its alcoholic theme.

We had a luncheon and party at work today, and it was very nice. I participated in the activities, displaying an amazing ability to gauge, incorrectly, just about any poll on Family Feud. But our team won, anyway. I like being on the winning team. I also took a prize for my presence on the dance floor. I'm not sure whether it was because I was the best dancer or the most improved dancer.

I still have work to do, but I am really over it. I mean, I actually do work, but my mind is no longer focused on the world within my cubicle.

I came home from work today, and Ron was preparing dinner. It was such a domestic scene - it could have been right out of Leave It to Beaver, although he doesn't especially look like June, and I'm no Ward. But it was one of those domestic moments that just hit me.

Finally, for several years, I headed up my work group's adopt-a-family activity. It was a lot of work, but really very touching. We really were helping families that needed help. This year, I bowed out of it. An email came around today from this year's head elf, asking for help with the project. I responded with an email of my own stories about how it had touched me over the last three years. That was one of the things we did at work that really took me beyond work.

Monday, December 3, 2007

An Analysis of All About Eve

Okay, I admit that I'm not much of a gay guy. Until last night, I had never seen All About Eve. One can enjoy this classic in several delicious ways. In a feminist reading, it's a story of two strong-willed women who are put in their place by an implacable patriarchy. Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) will always be at each other's throats. Men set up women to undermine each other. Men want the newer, faster, sleeker models. An aging (badly) Margo knows this, and Eve uses it as her trump card, ultimately to be trumped herself by Addison DeWitt's (George Sanders) own privileged duplicity.

An interesting character is Karen Richards (Celeste Holm). She plays the dutiful wife who is supportive of the other women. She believes in good manners. She's portrayed in the film as being either naive or duplicitous when she plays her "joke" on Margo. At the end, she's dumped by her husband for Eve, the newer model - although it's unclear how Karen's relationship with her husband is finally resolved. In any feminist analysis, though, men ultimately are the actors, and women their objects to be moved about, paraded, discarded, or, in Margo's case, married off and removed from the action.

If Karl Marx viewed this film, he might see it in a different way. I think the telling scene is where Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), the playwright, challenges Margo with the line, "I shall never understand the weird process by which a body with a voice suddenly fancies itself as a mind. Just when exactly does an actress decide they're HER words she's speaking and HER thoughts she's expressing?" Margo replies, "Usually at the point where she has to rewrite and rethink them, to keep the audience from leaving the theatre!".

This is a case of the means of production trying to control labor, and labor revolts. It's Margo's finest moment in the film - a moment when she is truly herself. In some sense, it's the film's climax. Margo clearly understands the power relationship here, even if Lloyd doesn't.

Perhaps the character who sees it all is Birdie (Thelma Ritter), Margo's maid. She understands from the beginning that Eve is nothing but trouble. Margo ignores her advice because of the chasm of class. Birdie knows all about labor, because she is labor. If this film were in color, her uniform would be pink.

Of course, if you're a gay man, you'll enjoy this film for other reasons. Bette Davis is divine. This is camp at its best. Marilyn Monroe in her Claudia Caswell character exudes sexiness, blondness, and the means to control the patriarchy. One glance, one sultry, "All I want is a drink," and men are falling all over her. Margo and Eve should take a lesson. And that dumb blond is dumb like a sly fox.

So fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Small Town Gay Bar

Ron and I watched Small Town Gay Bar last night. It's a documentary about small town gay bars in Mississippi, mostly about Rumors in Shannon MI, but also about Crossroads in Meridian, and the Sugar Shack in another town. Crossroads has since reopened as Different Seasons. The story is not a new story at all, but it pictures the isolation and fear and loathing of lesbians, gay men, and transgendered people is small Southern towns.

It's no joy growing up gay in rural Mississippi.

A couple of themes caught my attention. The first is the fascination with drag. Drag is a big deal in these places. Perhaps one of the most touching lines in the movie was Alicia, one of the drag queens saying, "My partner and I can't have children, but we have five beautiful dogs." That remark is so full of innocence and hope.

The second theme is the context of judgmental religious belief. Even those who don't believe couch their lives in the judgmental terms of "I'm just like everyone else, except...." One of the bar owners interviewed in the film actually did not see life this way, and he gets taken down a notch or two in the film by a lesbian who doesn't want gay people to act that way, and he gets taken down in life, by the small town police force that is out to close a gay bar.

This segment of the film is the only part of the film that explores the desires that gay men have in the midst of an oppressive, invisible existence. The bar owner opened a bar where people could be themselves, and he's clear that meant desire, lust, sex, and fantasy. In Mississippi. He tried to keep his bar open, but ultimately was arrested, jailed, fined, and his property seized.

Fred Phelps dispenses some of his wisdom throughout the film. Fred's theology is so ugly, and even older than the Old Testament. He's captured by the camera so that he looks like a skull talking, spewing. It's eerie watching and listening to him, because it sets off all the little voices in the back of your head.

The film shows the Westboro Baptist Church picketing the funeral of a gay teenager who was brutally murdered in rural Mississippi. The action is such a breach of civility and terrible in taste. This is ugliness of the first order. I wonder why Fred hates this much.

Gay people really are at the bottom of the social order in Mississippi (and most other places, too, although we try not to admit that to ourselves). These small town gay bars provide a community and a lifeline to lesbian and gay people who live in the rural parts of our country. Those of us who live in the city are fortunate, indeed. This film is quite a reminder of where our community has been, and how far it has to go.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

What's up with my Penis?

I post this with some trepidation. I know that guys don't talk too much about their plumbing, which is probably a good thing. So I'm discussing this little event because I'm morbidly curious.

Yesterday, another person and I were having oral sex. As we were proceeding to other types of recreation, I noticed that blood was dripping from my urethral meatus. I certainly didn't feel that much suction down there and no pain, but I wonder if the other person didn't cause me to break a blood vessel or something. We took care of the bleeding, cleaned up a bit, finished the sex, then ended up going out to a Thai restaurant for lunch.

Whenever I urinated throughout the day, I would expel a clot, then the bleeding would start again. By the end of the day, it looked like an axe murder had been committed in my underpants.

Today, it's not bleeding anymore, and the plumbing seems to be back to normal.

So I have this question, do other guys occasionally have bleeding dicks after a blow job? This has happened to me twice before, and I'm just wondering whether I should talk to my doctor or to the Guiness Book of World Records.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


On Monday, this guy on the Metro struck up a conversation with me. We exchanged e-mail addresses. Tuesday he sends me a couple of e-mails. I sent him one today, and he responds to the e-mail, then ends with "I won't be able to correspond with you anymore, but I wish you the best, and I agree with you on MANY points."

That's okay, but it's full of mystery.... I Googled his name, and found what appears to be references to him. Lawyer. Patents. Here's how I parse the last line:

  • "I won't be able to correspond with you anymore" - I initiated these e-mails, I want to tell you my ideas, but I'm not real interested in yours.
  • "but I wish you the best" - BUT I don't want you to think I'm giving you the brush off, or anything, even though I am.
  • "and I agree with you on MANY points." - (but I don't want to ever talk with you about those points, because I don't want to correspond with you anymore!)

Or maybe he just thinks I'm ugly.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Found Out That I'm a Pastafarian

And I didn't even know it. The adherents of the Flying Spaghetti Monster present a curious puzzle. On the face of it, their beliefs seem silly, or idiotic, or unbelievable. But when one digs deeper one sees an odd parallel with any faith-based belief system.

The reason I think I'm a Pastafarian is because I like Buccaneer outfits, and the noodly appendage, as a means of spiritual communication and change, appeals to my inner being.

Season's Greetings

While the holiday season for retailers seems to start shortly before Halloween, for me, it officially begins the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I figure I need at least a day to recover from Thanksgiving before contemplating the biggest, grandest, most expensive, and perhaps ridiculous celebration of all. Christmas is way over the top.

Don't get me wrong, I like family holidays. I like holidays where I can get busy in the kitchen and cook something wonderful for the people I love. But this holiday is out of control. I guess I am a grinch at heart. We've never put up a tree or a Channukah bush. We don't send out a lot of cards. And we try to keep the gift giving under control.

Ron and I went out for breakfast this morning, and quickly found ourselves seated in the Silver Diner. We went to Trader Joe's for some groceries, and again, the crowds were thin. I'm speculating that the masses were tuckered out from their Friday and Saturday shopping adventures.

Of course, the real reason I dislike this season is that our main road west goes right through a junction with the shopping mall entrance. For a month, traffic is pretty awful. Then sanity returns.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Way Too Much to Eat

I remember when I was a little kid, how belly-busting full I could get on Thanksgiving. It doesn't seem to get much better as I get older. I have no self-control when it comes to this kind of down home cookin'.

We had Perry, Tim, and Dave over for a post-Thanksgiving meal. I fixed chicken soup, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and mince pie. Munchies included an excellent St. Andre cheese (triple-cream brie). So I ate too much.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner

So this is the other half of Thanksgiving Day. Ron and I went to Christina's for dinner. It had turkey on the menu, but, it's an Italian restaurant, so we opted for two of the chef's specials: I had ravioli stuffed with crab meat, and he had ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and goat cheese. Both were very good.

We had a delightful meal. Our wine was a Shiraz. He had a cup of minestrone soup, and I had cream of turkey with vegetables, then, the Caesar Salad. We finished off the meal with pumpkin pie, and I also had a cup of coffee.

The food was well prepared, and the service friendly and sincere. We enjoyed it from beginning to end. The meal had hints of traditional Thanksgiving (the turkey in the soup, the butternut squash, and the pumpkin pie), and some nice Italian preparation. We enjoyed a very different Thanksgiving Dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving (hence the title of this posting), and Ron and I are going out to a restaurant for the big meal of the day. We're having Tim and Perry over tomorrow, so that will be our holiday dinner. I made a bunch of turkey stock from neck bones, because I need that ingredient in spades, tomorrow.

I just got off the phone with my brother Frank. He and I don't talk a lot, so when we do, it's a lot to catch up. We talked for about an hour. I really enjoy his perspective. He told me a story about my cousin Jim. Jim's an archaeologist, and I guess a wild man to boot.

In some other family news, Mary one of my daughters, sent me a thank-you note for the Christmas letters (since 1948) that I sent all the kids. It's a way for her and them to get to know my family. She said she was really enjoying them. I sent her an email back with a list of most of my relatives. By the time I got done, it had sixty or so people on it.

So, I'll make a few more phone calls. We'll have dinner at Christina's, and I'll call it a day!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I just finished Longhorns by Victor J. Banis. It's an engaging, delightful gay romance about a crusty old cowboy and a sweet young buck. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Help the Homeless

Today was Washington DC's Help the Homeless Walk. The walk is sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation, so it is a BIG deal at work. I walk most years, and was there today, dressed very warmly because the weather was not.

I always feel a little strange on the walk. I usually walk by myself, thinking each year that I can connect up with some co-workers, but trying to find anyone in a crowd of 120,000 is pretty difficult. I did have the good fortune to walk a short distance with a friend and his mom, but they turned off, because mom was getting tired.

The downside of the walk is that it starts at 9 a.m. That's really early on a Saturday for any self-respecting gay man. Ron and I had stayed up very late last night. So this morning came very early. But I rolled out of bed, and hustled myself through a bowl of oatmeal (no coffee), then out the door. After getting there, I did enjoy the walk. The nature of the event makes me realize how extremely fortunate my own situation is, and I'm grateful for that.

Help the Homeless

Today, I walked in the Fannie Mae Foundation's Help the Homeless Walk. It's always held the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Some years are miserable. This year was chilly. I was glad I had a warm coat.

The purpose of the walk is to help end homelessness in the DC metro area. Each year, for 20 years, that has been the purpose of the walk. And each year we walk, vowing to end homelessness.

Sometimes, I think the walk is simply a gesture to make us feel like we're doing something to help the problem. In the midst of a Free Enterprise ideology that blames the poor for being poor, and the homeless for being homeless. I'm pretty sure that we'll be walking for a good many years. The ideology blinds our society to the problem's solutions.

I suggest the following solutions:

  • Low-cost and affordable housing for the employed homeless. Keep the employed in the jobs, and in their homes.
  • Substance abuse programs for whoever wants (and needs) them. De-criminalize substance abuse. Provide safe alternatives to the street scene. Fund needle exchanges.
  • Adequate mental health facilities, treatment, and care for the homeless. Releasing mentally ill people on the streets is a recipe for homelessness.
  • Active intervention programs for the chronic, homeless substance abusers - the ones that require the most emergency and police resources. Get them into apartments and into treatment.

While none of these programs would be cheap, in the long run, it's cheaper to seek solutions that will actually move people off of the streets into treatment and into housing. Over times, emergency medical care and policing should decrease. Of course, the real way to fight homelessness is to eliminate poverty. That's achievable, too, but only with a truly different ideology that is focused on the dignity and welfare of our fellows rather than the sanctity of our wallets.

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Shoes

My tennies are just about dead - no sole. So I went to the mall to get new shoes. I like free enterprise, but I can't even begin to fathom the fruits of the capitalist system when it comes to athletic shoes: walls and walls of shoes, and no explanation to differentiate the product. The "sales associate" was not a great deal of help, either.

It appears that Nike is the king of shoes. The ratio is about 90:1, and that 1 includes all the competition. This was true in three different shoe stores. Nike has niched its product into several hundred slices, but I can't tell what slice is mine. I finally erred on the side of cheapness. They are ugly but serviceable, and halfway comfy. I can live with it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Saying Goodbye

Today I was out at the Reston office, because I had some meetings out there. Several people came up to me to say goodbye. I'm not leaving for a month, folks! On the other hand, I understand this separation anxiety, because I'm feeling some of it, too.

My boss told me we'd do two retirement lunches - one in DC and another in Reston. I like that idea. Well, I like the food. Time is moving very quickly at work, and I can hardly believe it's all happening.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Harpers Ferry Hoedown

Okay, I realize I'm not Doodle Today everyday. I was in Harpers Ferry this weekend at the Harpers Ferry Hoedown, a square dance weekend in a sleepy town. The drive up was in cloudy weather, but the drive back home was full of glorious fall color. The leaves have lots of red and orange this year that fills me with an excitement and wonder. I love this time of year, when the fall looks like this one. We've had a very late season because of the warm temperatures and the drought. I've heard that the stress on the trees (which must be considerable because of the drought) makes the fall colors more brilliant. This is a very colorful autumn.

The callers were fabulous. Billy Harrison, Sandie Bryant, and Tom Miller moved us across the floor with grace, speed, and not a little mental effort. The level of the dancers was higher than at some fly-ins, too. I was in many excellent squares.

Tim and I had a wonderful time together. I greatly appreciate his friendship. He had booked us a stunning room in Hilltop House, one of the "Tower" rooms, a seven-sided room with a sitting area and a decent bathroom. We immediately booked the room for next year. After six years at the fly-in, we've found "our" room. It was worth the effort.

Each year at the fly-in, Tim and I usually go out for dinner on Saturday night. This year we went to the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown. If you ever want some northern European food in a luxe setting, this is the place to go. I had three sausages (bratwurst, knockwurst, and weisswurst) and two hams with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Tim had goose with a potato dumpling. The servings are way too much food, but the service and atmosphere are terrific.

Hilltop House was recently purchased by a new owner, and the owner is planning to renovate the hotel this winter into a four-star lodging (that's what one of the employees said). Hilltop calls itself "quaint," which is considerable understatement. I'll be interested to see what the renovation does. I hope it preserves the quaintness while improving the comfort level, like more hot water, and not-quite-so-lumpy beds.

Ron was glad to see us when we got in early yesterday afternoon. He and I took a snooze, then he went off to the gym. We ended the day with Perry and dinner at Bombay Indian Restaurant in White Oak. We ate too much, but the company was good, and I love the boys and the food.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Wiggles

I'm not four, and I don't have a two-year old, but there I was this afternoon in Verizon Center at a Wiggles Concert. The Wiggles are an international phenomenon. I'm not sure why, but then, this is a group that is probably competing for the Teletubbies market segment.

It was an interesting afternoon that I spent with Isaac and Amity. Amity fell asleep, and it took some coaxing to get Isaac to sing and clap. I did get him to wave at the Wiggles at the very end. Every day is a cultural adventure.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Welcome back to Wheaton! I got kicked out of a cab at the airport. The cabbie wanted to take the long way home, and I told him no. He jumped out of the cab, grabbed my luggage, and set it in the middle of the traffic lane. The attendant asked me what was going on, and I told him. He immediately got me another cab. The cab that had dumped me was at the next cabstand loading a passenger. My cabbie jumped out and accosted the other cabbie, who pushed his passenger inside his cab, jumped in the cab, and roared off. They got his number, and I imagine he's having second thoughts, today.

Other than that, the trip home was pretty uneventful. The passenger next to me on the Denver-DC leg of the flight is a language arts teacher at Cardozo. This is her second year. She kept track of the time she spent with her 110 pupils in classroom, lesson preparation, etc. and it came to 87 hours a week. She's also in a Masters program at AU. I really do hope she has a life, because the future of America is in her hands. She is America's brightest hope.

Monday, November 5, 2007

You Can Go Home Again, and Again...

You can go home again. But it's not the same home you left. As I get older, everything around me gets older, too. I've known this objectively, but my visits home make the point, tellingly.

Moscow is growing like mad with new houses, but the population stays pretty much the same (those households get smaller as the square footage gets larger). The Methodist Church Annex looks so dated now, sleepily seedy, and I remember it snazzy and shiny back in 1960 or so.

The University Library has a new front. The Classroom Center has been rebuilt. Downtown Moscow has some of the shops I knew as a kid, but many new restaurants and boutiques, a gym or two.

It's the same as I remember in 1974, only very different, recognizably the same and different. Progress decays to new progress. Shiny becomes dull, becomes burnished, becomes a whisper of something past and a harbinger of new progress and decay. Nothing ever stands still. Why am I puzzled?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Just about on the Road

My bags are packed, and I'm about ready to head over to Mom's and go to church, the First United Methodist Church in Moscow. This, of course, floods my mind with childhood images of extremely tall grownups and me dodging a forest of adult legs while being a holy terror at coffee hour in Epworth Hall.

What a difference fifty years makes. The grownups are no longer tall. The ones I knew then are now bent over with age, and crowned with gray and white. During the part of the service where the congregants express thanks, my Mom will introduce me, and carry on over me for a bit. I'll feel like a kid again, slightly embarrassed, but more bemused, grateful for this moment of connection with my roots.

Most of the people I knew from church are gone, out to the cemetery that used to be way out on the east side of town. Moscow has now grown up around the cemetery, a place where my father, mother, and brother now live, without a care in the world.

Yesterday evening, Katherine and Karen came over to say goodbye, and Katherine showed me the watercolor that had she painted for me. It's a gorgeous picture of Moscow Mountain from out near the cemetery on the east side of town.

Yesterday's ham will make a couple of really great tasting sandwiches today for the road. I reserved a room for Grace and me in Seattle. I think we're all set to declare this vacation pretty much over.


Today we were up in St. Maries visiting my aunt and uncle and family. They are very elderly, and I'm always afraid that this visit will be the last one. I had a long talk with my uncle about his life. He's been a farmer and a logger most of his life. He told me lots of hunting, fishing, and logging stories. It's about a life that is so far removed from my own, a different world, a separate universe, and he gave me a glimpse into it. It's a world I recognize and appreciate, because I grew up in it. But I have this sense of loss and awe. I see my history slowly fade away in his arthritic knees, his failing hearing, and bent frame.

My aunt made me her famous Miami Birthday Cake, which is so bad for you, that you know it's going to taste so good! And it did, because it never disappoints. I love her dearly. She has this smile and twinkle that has never faded, and she can call me Johnny, and I won't object. She has some heart problems and osteoporosis. Both she and my uncle are slowing down. They complain about aches and pains, but they never complain about life.

My cousin was there with her husband. She had a stroke seven years ago, and has lost a lot of mobility. She relearned how to talk, and she adjusted from an extremely busy life, to one of more limited horizons and constraints. She's a very wise woman who fiercely loves her family, and she has a husband who cares for her in every way that he can. It's a touching love story.

I'm surrounded by this tapestry of blood, determination, pain, love, and hope. My hope is that as I embark on my own retirement, and confront my own aging and decline, that I can do it with the equanimity and openess of heart of these loggers, teachers, steamfitters, and clerks that are my kin family. They don't love me for who I am or what I do, They simply love me, and that's a gift wrung from toil in these Palouse Hills and mountains. I guess that's why I keep coming back home.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Yesterday's Adventure

Yesterday was pretty full, puttering around Moscow. After taking Katherine to lunch, all of us (Mom, Grace, Katherine, Karen, and I) clambered into the jeep, and set about exploring Moscow. The town's population hasn't increased that much, but subdivisions have sprouted everywhere. I suppose the families are getting smaller as their houses are getting much larger. We also visited Moscow's first (and only) roundabout.

We also went out to Katherine's studio in Uniontown. She's preparing for a show in a couple of weeks. The Barn (where her studio is located) has an exhibition of collaborations among the various artists with studios there. Of course, the piece I really liked cost $3000 and was far to big to fit in the living room. Lucky Ron.

We ended the day at Katherine's. She cooked a fabulous dinner, and we all reminisced a lot. Karen supplied two kinds of ice cream that when mixed together tasted like Girl Scout Samoas.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I've been roughing it in my hotel room. I like steel cut oats for breakfast. My room has a microwave. I have a straight-sided bowl to cook the oats, and the microwave causes the oats and water to overflow (and make a mess) when I'm cooking them. I've devised a couple of strategies. I soak the oats overnight, and they absorb much of the water. It took me two (duh!) days to figure out that I could put a paper plate underneath the bowl, then the overflow would end up on the plate, rather than on the bottom of the microwave. The hotel provides the plastic spoon and sugar, and I'm very happy with my breakfast.

Katherine and I went to lunch today to talk about everything. I'm grateful to have some time with her. Karen, Grace, Katherine, and I went out for a drink last night, and we've spent a couple of evenings just talking, but it was special having some time just with her to talk.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mystery and Awe

The fall colors splash reds, oranges, and yellows with wild bold strokes across the maples and oaks. The beauty catches in my throat, and I have to drink it in to get my breath back. This moment brushes against the inexplicable and the unknown. A botanist would tell me that the chlorophyll is dying, and the other colors of the leaf are showing through. Frost, sugars in the leaf, drought all play a part in the leaf's palette, too. But all I can do is stand and look, in awe, thinking about this mysterious life and death playing out in front of me. The universe (multiverses?) gives me this special gift to ponder and appreciate, and I don't need an explanation, I only need this moment.

Lavender Lunch, Coming Up

I went up to the Women's Center on campus today and talked with the LGBT program coordinator. She told me about the Center's Safe Zone and Allies projects. She also gave me an Argonaut newspaper story featuring a gay male couple. In short, there's a lot more visibility on campus than when I attended, and this is a good thing!

She introduced me to a couple of other staff members, and invited me to lunch tomorrow. It's the Lavender Lunch, and I'm paying for it. The lunch is funded with the money that I give the center. It's proven popular with students, as long as they like PBJs.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Moscow Idaho, Day 1

I like Moscow. I like to come home and visit my Mom. But I have to admit that sometimes I get bored. I do a lot of walking here, and Moscow is a very walkable town. I love to walk around the university campus. It's a very beautiful place, particularly on a crisp fall day. I did that yesterday, dropping by the bookstores, the Women's Center, and the Commons.

Earlier in the morning, Mom and I had a set to about "the Illegals." Mom is afraid that they are taking over America. I'm afraid that she's reading way too many news magazines and listening to too much of Lou Dobbs.

I bought three books, one of which is The Rich Get Rich and the Poor Go to Jail. It's a sociology text. I going to send it to Mom when I finish reading it. Then I'm going to give her a test and ask her to write a term paper....

Last night, I cooked dinner, my famous eggplant (which only gets better each time I make it), Swiss chard, and brown rice. Simple, and if plated appropriately, elegant. Beer.

Growing Older Close to Home

I'm getting older. I think the argument is closed on that. I complain sometimes about aches and pains, but my world seems to be very different from the elderly - the very old. My Mom's world is a very scary place, not only as she constructs it, but in fact. Even those two worlds are radically different from each other, but a product, too, of living to a very old age.

My Mom has these fears, not for herself, but for her friends not having the means to live comfortably. Do I buy food or medicine? The infirmities of age are clearly evident from dentures to broken hips, assisted living to dementia. It's a steady, slow, inexorable decay that ends in the Moscow Cemetery.

Mom plays bridge with a foursome where one of them is in a nursing facility, another is taking care of her husband who is suffering from fibromyalgia, and the other woman suffers increasingly from dementia. This is a world that is growing smaller and more isolated.

Happily, Mom is in good health for her age. She's also in good humor, which probably keeps her mentally young. I hope I'm as gracious when I'm very old.

Mom and her friends are challenged by our (lack of a) medical system, by local infrastructure like transportation services, and by isolation, being far from other family members, and not being physically able to go places. It's not all bleak, and Mom and her friends have many happy moments; nevertheless, growing very old in Moscow, Idaho is a cautionary tale.

Monday, October 29, 2007

On the Road

I've been on the road since Friday. My sister, Grace, and I are visiting the Idaho Homeland, land of Larry Craig. We flew to Seattle and attended a square dance fly-in with the Puddletown Squares over the weekend, then drove across the mountains yesterday, and ended up in Moscow, Idaho.

The fly-in was great. Anne Uebelacker and Scott Zinser were the featured callers, and a whole bunch of talented GCA callers to boot. Saturday featured lots of Advanced dancing, and the evenings were taken up with high-energy, challenging Mainstream and Plus.

Grace has just started dancing Advanced. We got into very strong squares, and she did very well. Her mind got boggled briefly on Saturday afternoon, and she went to the Plus room. But we need another dancer to fill out a square, so we dragooned her back to the Advanced room. Square dancing is hot!

Yesterday driving across, Grace and I had some wonderful conversations about family, childhood, our lives. I'm very grateful for the family I have, and these trips do carry with them a mythic signficance. The weather has been beautiful, and the colors are gorgeous. There wasn't a tree between Seattle and here that Grace didn't want to get a picture. It's genetic.

We got here yesterday afternoon. Katherine was already fixing dinner. We chatted a couple of hours after dinner, then we all went to bed. I'm staying at a hotel in Pullman, and Grace is staying with Mom.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Big Push

Now all I have to do is pack, then get up in time to get the taxi to the airport. It's picking me up at 4:45 a.m. I have a Frontier flight out of National. I'm meeting my sister, Grace, in Denver, then on to Seattle. I'm really not clear on everything we're doing, but I guess that's okay.

The last two days have been extremely hectic trying to get work, square dancing, and my personal life all put together for this. I am not ready yet! Right after work, Ron and I were in Bethesda talking with the Glitter Boyz about retirement, and how we were going to finance 2008. I tell ya - I'm glad that they are handling it! The good part is that we're in good shape and in good hands. I'm very grateful for that, to them, and especially to Ron.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Getting Ready for Idaho

I'm about on my way to Idaho (on Friday). I'm looking forward to it.

I finished the Fawn McKay Brodie biography today. She was a complex person, obsessed with strong men, and herself driven. She chafed under imposed authority, questioned her own repressed sexuality, and tenaciously enlarged and enriched the realm of psychohistory and psychbiography. I thought Bringhurst's biography painted a compelling portrait of her.

I have a lot of square dance odds and ends to finish up before I leave. I tackled some of them tonight, and will finish up tomorrow night. I feel rushed.

Hopper and Turner

They aren't a rock band or a law firm. Instead they are two exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art (Hopper is in the East Wing) that Tim and I went to see on Monday. The Hopper show made me realize he's my favorite artist that I never knew was my favorite artist. His art is American Iconic, and permeates our larger culture sense. The exhibit was eye popping and engaging. Loneliness, alienation, beauty, light, shadow is all on display.

The Turner exhibit is overwhelming, and it's overwhelming with color and light. Maybe overdone. After seeing it, I know where some of the pictures in my head are rooted. He painted and possibly originated some seascape archetypes (which Hopper reimagined - a very interesting juxtaposition). In the end, I felt a little disappointed by the many classic allusions of Turner's work. I guess I'm a Philistine. On the other hand, if you're Irish, you'll love his paintings of the burning of the British Parliament in 1834.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Celery Root?

So what do you think about when you go out on a walk with your Sweetie? I was thinking about all the vegetables in the refrigerator, the celery root, the cooked squash, and the Swiss chard. Because I can chew gum and walk at the same time, I was able to plan dinner while Ron and I walked the neighborhood, a nifty trick....

If you read Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook, it has three recipes for celery knobs (as he calls them), or celery root (as I call it). I found a knobby root in Whole Foods last Friday and decided, hmmm, what the heck!

Celery root is a strange vegetable. It's very gnarly, and a challenge to peel. I fixed it by cutting off the greens, and chopping them up, then peeling the root and julienning it. (You can use a potato peeler to peel it. It's not a pretty operation.)

I fried an onion and the greens, then added the chopped root, cooking it on very low heat. I added some chicken broth, and a cooked small winter squash and continued simmering, then added salt, pepper, allspice, fennel, vinegar, and probably some other stuff.

I pureed the cooked vegetables and thinned it with milk. Ron liked it. It has a distinct celery taste, but some nice sweetness from the squash. We also had the Swiss chard - chard, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

What's Up with Robert Altman

Yeah, I know he's dead, but Ron and I just got around to seeing Gosford Park. Ron thinks it's a yawner, but I liked its humor, and the carefully drawn life of the servants. Class may have its privileges, but their life is arid, rude, and cold. It's about being born into something rotten, tottering, and malignant.

Most of the Altman films I've seen are formless, plotless, and long. His characters are difficult to care about. His storylines are opaque.

Gosford Park is no exception, but I enjoyed it anyway. Although I couldn't understand the dialogue (British accents, anyone), I loved the bleak snobby privilege upstairs, and its effect downstairs. This film is about class warfare thinly disguised as a (very long) mystery. The murder doesn't happen until 90 minutes into the film, so just be patient.

Finally, if you have problems following the film, Wikipedia has a great plot exegesis that sorts everything out. Of course, I couldn't sort out the plot summary. See the film, but don't blame me if you don't like it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Little Bit of Persia

When Ron retired, one of his colleagues on the magazine gave him a Persian cookbook. Tonight Ron gave it a test drive. Other than it took about three hours to get dinner on the table, the results were mighty fine. I hope that the preparation effort doesn't discourage him from trying some of the other recipes in the cookbook. They look very good. We had a chicken stew with sour preserved limes and herbs, and saffron rice.

He was counting the number of steps in the different recipes. A blurb on the back cover stated that "Most take less than an hour to prepare: many require only a few moments...." Do I really believe that?

After Sex

So I'm lying in bed next to Tim thinking, so this is what square dancing is all about. Am I glad I connected with square dancing! At least, that's the fantasy. I slip in and out of conscious consciousness, just vaguely aware of awareness. Thinking or dreaming, I'm not sure, but I could really get used to this. Actually, I am quite used to this, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. He and I get into a discussion about square dance "grippers" (you know who you are) and strategies for defeating them. Finally we get out of bed and head out for lunch at La Tasca. Tapas anyone?

The Joys of Biography

A couple of years ago, one of my co-workers "loaned" me the biography, Fawn McKay Brodie: a Biographer's Life by Newell G. Bringhurst. In preparation for retirement, I've been bringing my personal books home from the office, and I dropped the biography in my book bag.

Day before yesterday, I picked it out of my book bag and started reading it on the train. I haven't been able to put it down since, reading it at every opportunity. I love when a book gets a hold on me. I'm enjoying this book.

It's full of names and incidents that evoke a place and time in my own life. I'm always surprised how strong a hold the Mormon church has on my psyche. Bringhurst's biography of Brodie examines the ambivalent but central role that the church played in Brodie's life.

Brodie, for those who don't know, wrote a controversial biography in the 1940s of Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the Mormon church. Within a year of the book's publication, she was excommunicated. Bringhurst's biography covers all of this but reveals a complex, sensitive, and sometimes conflicted biographer who had her own flaws and her own history (just ask Hugh Nibley).

So I'm enjoying this read. I'm remembering my own struggles in the church, and out. And I do intend to return the book to my friend at work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Waiting and Impatient

I'm a very impatient guy. Like everyone else, I don't have a real reason to be impatient; I guess I just want to stress out. I think it's a lot of the grass is greener on the other side of the fence phenomenon. I'm stuck here, and what you're doing over there looks ever so much nicer.

Today at work, I was stuck in four and half hours of meetings. I was challenged at every turn not to drool or fall off my chair. I wanted the meetings to get over. I wanted the world to start moving again. I felt in the thrall of doom.

Then I come home with good intentions to work on some computer stuff, and up comes the Windows Update. Download Updates! It'll only take five minutes I'm promised. I'm in the depths of Hell. I fret. I play antsy in my chair. I stare at the screen hoping my system will work faster. I take a shower. I wait. I wait. I wait. I wait. Seven downloads, two restarts, and two and one half hours later. Computers updates are worse than mandatory employee training. I'm sure.

And now, I'm waiting for a guy to come over for sex. I hope he's not late.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mystery and Intrigue

I went out with a guy for about a year who is now the center of a mystery. Emergency responders found two dead bodies in his living room four days apart. I was reading the paper, and saw the story in the Washington Post, and then saw a related story in the Washington Blade.

It's really bizarre to read about a guy and a place you know, particularly when it is this big mystery. More than that, the story is reported in a way that takes me back to the whole time and scene I spent with this guy. He's a nice guy, but.... I'm not surprised by the strangeness. I'm not surprised that the man in the middle has ended up in this pickle. The whole thing has a creepy feel.

You never expect a day to go badly, or a life to end badly, or lightening to strike once, much less twice. But it is hard to explain the two corpses in the living room.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Retirement Plans

I must be getting close to retirement, because people keep asking me if I have plans. Yes and no. I don't have a schedule, yet, of what I intend to do and when, but I have a pretty good idea of some activities that should keep me busy for a while.

I want to clean out my office and my bedroom. I'm a pack rat, and I need to be very stern, and throw a lot of stuff out. Ron and Perry have volunteered to help, and I'm going to take them up on it. I'm thinking I want to do this before the New Year. I retire on December 13. I'll have 18 days, then I'll have my whole life ahead of me!

Two software projects have been in my head for a long time, and maybe I'll have a chance to work on them. I want to create or perhaps modify some civic software to make it easier for small groups to keep track of membership, events, newsletters, etc. I've had a lot of experience with small groups, and have discovered that records often end up in someone's basement. I'd like to end that kind of record keeping.

The other project is related directly to retirement. I want to create a virtual gay retirement community to help gay men and lesbians find friends, activities, assistance, and resources close to home. I believe that our community is under served and faces unique challenges and discrimination in retirement services and assisted living. I'd like to develop a network of people who look after and help each other - postponing as long as possible the need to go into assisted living.

So those are some of my projects. I'm going to keep traveling and square dancing, too. Three or four trips are in the planning for next year. I'm planning to attend the Gay Caller Association's Caller School in Cleveland, as well as the IAGSDC convention there in July. No moss growing here.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Senator Craig: U Go Grrrrllllll!

Senator Craig, June 11, 2007, Minneapolis, MN

Senator Craig announced this week that he was not going to resign, and that he intended to serve out the rest of his term. The news filled me with a certain kind of giddy elation: his Republican Senate colleagues no doubt have their knickers in a twist, the boys back in Idaho are stonewalled (as in what former Lieutenant Governor was going to become a U.S. Senator?), and I understand that Minneapolis International is remodeling one of its restrooms.

This whole (I'm trying to be delicate, here) tawdry episode makes me proud (truly) to be an Idaho Country Farm Boy. Senator Craig, a Pillar of Rectitude, seeks solace and understanding in his "I'm not gay" (wide) stance. Those Minneapolis airport policemen deserve special commendation for spending inordinate hours in men's rooms checking out the patrons, then arresting them during the President's War on Terror. Sgt. Dave Karsnia, deserves whatever recognition he gets for the hard work he does in airport restrooms. He's keeping us all safe from sexual terrorists.

Senator, keep up the good fight. Stick it to those mealy-mouthed, double-dealing Republican Senators (and presidential candidates) who deserted you exactly one second after this story broke. Make 'em feel uncomfortable in their hypocrisy. Maybe you and they will learn that under the Constitution there is no difference between "solicitation" and "freedom of speech." Every day you sit in that Senate Chamber, you remind them of that. I hope you beat the rap. I hope you get your own knickers untwisted, just not too fast or easy.

And this isn't even that much of a sex scandal. At least Slick Willie got to stain a blue dress. Republicans and sex are a sticky (and inept) combination.

Friday, October 5, 2007


Installing the Kitchen Window

Ron is busy in the kitchen washing windows - new windows. Today, a crew came out and installed new vinyl windows with argon, or whatever. It's kind of weird looking out of an empty window frame. One window wasn't installed, because the manufacturing company made the window too large, but everything else was installed. In the meantime, Ron is meticulously cleaning every shiny surface (while I'm writing this blog entry).

The crew had a few challenges. The window frame for the kitchen bay window wasn't quite plumb, so they had to shim it, and add some extra insulation (styrofoam) around it. It ended up okay. In the dining room, the window simply didn't fit. They reinstalled the old window (upside down!) and promised to be back with a new window in about two weeks.

(I'm not complaining about the dining room window. For the next couple of weeks, it's a conversation piece. It's also inside out. It looks okay, until you look closely at it. You don't know quite what's wrong.... Then, hmmm, this must be an alternate universe.)

So the home improvements continue.

Friday, September 28, 2007

One Down, One to Go

Dagani Retires!

I went to Ron's retirement party today. One of the gifts he received is a poster of a magazine picture featuring, well, look for yourself. The party was very nice. They serve great food at the American Chemical Society. It's enough to make me a chemist!

He's still at the office, and it's dinnertime. Isn't that weird, that you'd work overtime on the day you retire? I guess he just has a really healthy attitude about work.

I saw many friends and acquaintances from Ron's life at Chemical and Engineering News. Some of them asked me about my plans, and I told them I was retiring in December. Believe me, I don't think my party is going to be like Ron's. Of course, part of the reason is that people really LOVE Ron. The accolades were sincere, and the staff is going to miss him. I'm not sure my colleagues see me in exactly the same light. In any case, they have two and a half months to plan an unforgettable sendoff for me....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Marriage in Maryland - It's Not Gay

Ron and John, Haven't They Suffered Enough?
Ron and John, Haven't They Suffered Enough?

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently decided that marriage is not gay in Maryland. It reminds me of the Michael Shaw New Yorker cartoon. The court admitted that marriage is a fundamental right, just not for gay people, yet. Like Michael Shaw, I'm of a mixed mind about marriage. I'm pretty sure that the relationship that Ron and I have is not what most straight married people have. I'm also sure that the legal relationship that Ron and I have constructed is not as complete or satisfactory as marriage, and in fact has to be enforced by the courts.

Two Maryland legislators have announced that they will be introducing legislation to permit same-sex couples to marry in Maryland. That probably won't get very far considering that the crazies are already announcing that they, too, will be introducing legislation to ban same-sex marriage.

It could get very nasty in Annapolis come January. I don't expect much to happen, though, because it is an election year, and legislators usually don't take risky positions while the voters are paying attention, at least while the straight voters are paying attention. Gays and lesbians getting married - haven't they suffered enough?

Do You Suppose We Could Get Married?
Do You Suppose We Could Get Married?

Taking Offense

President Ahmadinejad is speaking at Columbia University today. A member of Congress from New York said on the news that he was offended that the Iranian president was speaking at Columbia, and that the university was wrong for having invited him to speak.

I think the New York congressman's offense is wrongly placed. Columbia University is only doing what universities should do: encourage diversity of ideas and the freedom of thought so that well-informed citizens can make up their own minds about the issues.

Certainly, much of what President Ahmadinejad says is offensive to me and to many people, but I would rather hear his speech and be offended, then never hear his speech and remain ignorant. Furthermore, if we never meet our enemies we will never stop being enemies. We will never have the means to find (sometimes painful) accommodation with each other.

At least let me hear the President before I take offense. And letting him speak is about the most red-blooded American thing that can happen to this guy.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I come from a small town in Idaho. I live in a big city on the East Coast. Those two places are worlds apart. Recently, I've been trying to reconnect with classmates and family. I moved here in 1983 and left everything behind. I left my roots behind, too, and at this time in my life, I feel rootless. I have some existential angst. If I were not here, would it make any difference, and would anyone care?

So I spent a couple of hours today uploading photos to A lot of my classmates are on it, but most of them have a free membership, which means that getting in touch with them is difficult. I went ahead and purchased a membership so that my email would at least reach them. More than the email, though, I want them to know I'm thinking of life and experiences rooted in an Idaho town nearly 3000 miles away. Nostalgia? Sentimentality? You betcha.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fixing up the House

Back in June, I saw my neighbor painting the trim on the front of his house. So I got a wild hair to get all the house projects out of the way that had been accumulating since 1989. This included painting the front door trim, repointing the steps, and hiring a home inspector to identify other things that needed to get fixed.

In July, I joined Angie's List. This is a great resource. It's a consumer-driven comment site that rates contractors for different kinds of home services. The front steps were in terrible shape, so I looked up masonry contractors, called a highly-rated one, and within a day had my estimate. The steps were fixed the following week.

Well, one thing lead to another. By now, windows and a back door are on order, and the roof has been replaced. Oh, and I had some concrete work done on the patio. The only flaw in my plan is that if the place gets fixed up too nicely, I won't want to leave it after retirement.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Name That Atheist Contest!

I'm sponsoring a "Name That Atheist" contest. I don't like the term, atheist, because it defines a person's belief on what it isn't rather than what it is. But if I tell people that I'm a rational humanist, or a human secularist, or a secular rationalist, they just don't understand. I need a short catchy phrase that tells the world what I am, and the telling shouldn't require a half-hour parenthetical conversation, either. An added bonus is if the new name doesn't cause certain groups to either pray for me, or inform me (sometimes politely, and sometimes not) that I'm going to Hell.

Here are the rules: send me your Name That Atheist entry in an email to: Make your entry short, catchy, and comprehensible. I'll announce the winner when I get around to it. The winner will receive mention in this blog, and perhaps a request to write a guest entry here. Yeah, I know, I'm cheap.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ron Had a Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to You!

All of the boys took Ron out for his birthday last night. We went to Pizzeria Paradiso. It's great pizza, the best in Washington as far as I'm concerned. Ron had a great time, and a very happy birthday.

Brian, Ron, and Perry
Brian, Ron, and Perry
Perry and Tim
Perry and Tim

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Slippery Slope of Solicitation

If any senator were going to be "entrapped" in the solicitation laws, well, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy than Senator Craig. Having said that, I agree with Senator Craig. Indeed, I don't think he did anything inappropriate. He was merely practicing free speech, a right guaranteed to him by the United States Constitution.

If the person he solicited (an officer of the law, in this case) didn't want to have sex with Senator Craig, the officer simply should have said, "No thank-you." I'm sure that Senator Craig would have understood completely, and would have widened his stance on the other side of his stall.

The principle here isn't one of public morality or anything like that. The principle is that speech in a public place should be free, even if people find it annoying or immoral or offensive. Just because speech is offensive doesn't mean that people who engage in it should be arrested, booked, or jailed.

There's also the matter of the double standard that solicitation laws impose. They are only enforced against prostitutes and gay men. They are never used against men hitting on women. If they were, a lot more lawyers, construction workers, and rap artists would be behind bars.

Because solicitation laws prohibit consenting adults from publicly arranging sexual liaisons, you should probably be careful what you ask your girlfriend in the bar or on the dance floor. You may be a felon, and not even know it. Just for the record, Senator Craig has never solicited me.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Larry Craig

Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), what were you thinking? You knew that the Idaho Daily Statesman was investigating rumors about your sexuality. You knew that gay bloggers were trying to "out" you. What were you thinking in that men's room in the Minneapolis airport? And, what were you thinking when you plead guilty to a crime that you now claim you didn't commit?

I'm no proponent of public sex (although you were in a locked bathroom stall). Your explanation sounds contrived and deceitful that you were entrapped and that you had a "misunderstanding" with the undercover cop in the next stall. Your claim, "I'm NOT gay" sounds like a desperate, closeted homosexual. The whole affair smells tawdry and disgusting, although Mitt Romney used the term "disgusting" before I did.

At this point in your political career, I should be gleeful, but I'm not. Even though I disagree with just about everything you stand for, I'm sympathetic to your personal plight. Public humiliation isn't pleasant. I feel sorry for your wife and children, and their public shame that you dragged them through by your incredible lapse of judgment. I feel sorry for you, too, because I imagine that you feel some painful remorse, despite your tough I'm-not-GAY stance.

And I'm angry, angry at you, and angry at the Senate Republican leadership. I'm angry at you because you can't admit that you made a mistake and say that you're sorry for it. I'm angry at the leadership, because it acted like sharks circling in for the kill. The comments of Mitt Romney and Senator McConnell are just as disgusting as your behavior in Minneapolis. The family values of concern, sympathy, and understanding were noticeably absent in their discourse. The Christian values of forgiveness and compassion were forgotten. Romney's comments sounded positively Pharisee-like.

So I leave it like this: I hope you can repair your personal life, finding the honesty and dignity to care for the needs of your family. I think you've been politically shredded, but I hope the people of Idaho see through the hypocrisy of the Republican leadership. Of course, the people of Idaho should hold you to account for your own hypocrisy.


Idaho Daily Statesman Invesitgation

The officer who arrested Senator Craig (he's hot...)

Transcript of man who claims to have had sex with Senator Craig Another men's room tale

Interviews: remember those page boys in 1982?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Short Bus is the Other School Bus

Short Bus really packed a wallop for me. Its frank sex is shocking on the screen, but only because you never see sex like this except if it's pornography. The film has a very clear message about people who are trapped in themselves, and about people who can't talk to the ones they love.

While the context of the movie is sex and sexual pleasure, I think the message is finding the right way to experience and express desire. Love means taking chances, giving up, being hurt, and feeling out of control. Love is a queer universe, naughty and chaste, naive and experienced. It's a scary destination. Short Bus examines the place in detail, and I squirmed a lot.

The movie gets it's name Short Bus for being the other yellow school bus, the one for kids with special abilities and needs. Short Bus is the name of a New York sex club where much of the story takes place. The people who inhabit this world are special, needy, a little off-kilter.

The other thematic context of the film is the animated cityscape that ties the various storylines together. It's childlike and inviting, and the soundtrack for the cityscape draws the viewer into the soul of the film.

I didn't know any of the cast members, but the performances were very strong and engaging. They seemed real, rather than acted. I was especially impressed by Paul Dawson as James, and Sook-Yin Lee as Sofia. Both of their storylines were compelling and mysterious. Finally, Justin Bond as Justin Bond is a fabulous performer.

I cried when I watched this film.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gay Sex, Redux

I spent some time at my boyfriend's, and we watched the movie, Boy Culture, a rather pathetic film about atmospheric gay hustling and domestic troubles in Seattle (and more than a little self-loathing). Considering the weather there, I'm not surprised.

Although the film is not pornographic, I was horny, and decided to hookup after leaving boyfriend. Here's where Manhunt.Net is a useful addition to the gay man's toolkit. For most of the guys on Manhunt, I'm way over the hill, but I figured I could find at least one other desperate, horny guy online. The online experience for older guys can be humiliating and disheartening, but I just tell myself to hang in there, and my luck will change.

Well, it did. And after about an hour on Manhunt, another guy emailed me, and a not so elaborate courtship began, which took about thirty minutes, then I had to go through the "cleaning process" (for those of you who are straight, you don't want to know; for those of you who are gay, you already know), and get the sin bin ready. He wanted me to host, and I wasn't going anywhere for the evening.

M turned out to be a very cute 30s hirsute Latino. His look and manner immediately appealed to me, and I think it was reciprocal (I was afraid to ask...). The glasses were a definite plus. The tank top and shorts were just right. The sandals set it all off, and he had a killer smile. I knew I was going to enjoy this.

You have to understand that it was now 11 p.m. or so, and past my bedtime (I'm an old man!). I was going to give this the old college try. The sex was really good. We both had what the other wanted. But better than the sex was the conversation afterwards. We laid there, talking about guys, about Manhunt, about hooking up, about dreams, dreams achieved, fears, and psychos. This is the moment of sex I like best, an intimacy and connection made real in the words between us. It's nothing earthshaking, although he did say I looked a lot older than my pictures (note to self, put new photos up...), but he quickly blurted, "It's okay, I like older men." I'm not sure that helped my self-esteem that much.

This guy is a power bottom, exciting swirls of hair cascading down his lower back into the cleft between his cheeks. M also knows exactly what he wants, and I'm always willing to let the other guy be a backseat driver. Half the joy of delivering to his backdoor is giving him exactly what he orders, and I'm very good at that.

One of life's mysteries is why nature has seen fit to make such a disparate ratio between tops and bottoms. If you read a guy's profile, and it says versatile, it means bottom. Bottom means bottom. Top sometimes means bottom. In the end though, tops have to do a lot of work. After three times of drilling the well, I was pretty much useless.

The evening included two catnaps, which I think add to the texture of the evening. It isn't quite like a sleepover, but it's very pleasant to snooze wrapped around another guy. I was happy the M didn't scamper out as soon as he had spilled his seed on my chest. I spilled my own seed shortly thereafter.

Finally, it is a religious experience, if somewhat devoid of faith, it certainly has hope. And whenever I thrust forward, he uttered, "Oh, God!" And whenever he descended down to my belly, his eyes rolled heavenward. I heard a few celestial tunes, too.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Devil Worshipers

This week, nearly 300 Yazidis, a Kurdish religious community, were blown up by Islamist insurgents, apparently because the Yazidis are "devil worshipers." Many small religious groups, like the Yazidis, face increasing persecution in Iraq, accused of being anti-Islamist, being government sympathizers or collaborating with foreign troos. Also, some of these communities just happen to be in the wrong place, in a part of the country into which insurgents are being pushed by the US troop surge. The killing and persecution of these religious minorities, though, is more about religious bigotry.

These communities are often insular and isolated. When it comes to religious freedom, an irony of the war in Iraq is that these communities have survived for thousands of years in a very dangerous place, but may not survive the American war, a war America took to Iraq to bring the Iraqi people democracy and freedom.

This Islamist ethnic genocide in Iraq is evil. The American attempt to impose our president's cultural and religious values on Iraq is evil. America has stepped on a hornets nest, and indeed we are being stung. But the pain, misery, and death that has been unleased against Iraq and its religious communities is much greater. It makes me wonder who are the real Devil Worshipers in Iraq.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

My Summer Vacation, So Far


I hope things are going well for you. I'm having a summer that's just flying by. I got a buy-out offer at work, so I'll be retiring at the end of the year. Just your typical summer. Jesus and I haven't done much with each other, but I met a podiatrist who's interested in having a religious experience. I'll let you know how that turns out. The guy is a lot of fun, and I help take his mind off his medical practice. I feel like I'm making a valuable contribution to the medical establishment.

In July, Ron, and I went to the IMEN (International Men Enjoying Naturism) gathering. There were a heck of a lot of naked body parts. Quelle surpise! We stayed in cabins that were not air conditioned. The food was pretty basic camp food. On the other hand, it had a large swimming pool, and cocktails at 4:30 every afternoon. The gathering also had square dancing, very basic square dancing. Some of the guys have been coming to this gathering for 13 years to square dance, but the only time they square dance is at the gathering. Well, you get to know 16 basic calls VERY well. I danced because they needed a body to fill out a square. When they had enough dancers, I helped push other dancers around the floor. It was brutal.

The camp also had a "play" cabin, but every time I would go there, nothing was happening. I was beginning to think that I was wearing (probably up my butthole) a secret radio transmitter telling people, "Warning: Happy's heading for the play cabin." Finally, the last night of the gathering (this thing dragged on for a week...) I went to the cabin, and it was full of writhing, moaning, lubricated men. I immediately freaked, and walked out to the porch. I struck up a conversation with a cute little leather guy who turned out to be a germaphobe. He'd suck me if I wore a condom. He'd jerk me off, if he could wear a glove. I politely declined (although I was really tempted), and he and I had an interesting and engaging conversation about obsessive-compulsive disorder, which he abruptly ended by saying, "On your right...." I turned, and another camper kissed me, escorted me to another cabin, and well, we went off and had sex. A couple of times, we were part of a museum exhibit, and at one time another camper even tried to participate, but it did not dampen the white hot spark of the moment. The cat drug me in very late the next morning.

Oh, please don't think that my life is only one continuous sexual episode. I've even had time for culture. The Corcoran Gallery recently had an exhibit on Modernism. I was thinking that all those clean lines and sharp angles remind me of fascist/stalinist architecture. And sure enough one gallery of the exhibit was about fascist/stalinist architecture. Modernism is really about a radical romanticism that knows too much about what's good for you. It's a lot like chocolate: a nibble here and there is wonderful, but I wouldn't want to drive it to work. Of course, Tim and I went square dancing afterwards. I think he's taken it upon himself to provide a cultural context in my life. (I'm grateful.)

On the other hand, sometimes my life is one continuous sexual episode. On Friday, I went over to Tim's house, and basically f**ked his brains out, then we went downtown to the Hirschorn Gallery to hear one of the museum curators talk about the Wolfgang von Tillmans exhibit. If you get a chance to see one of his exibitions, by all means do so. The exhibit is photographs and photo papers, but that's telling you that the seashore is sand. part of the exhibit was a large gallery space of images of soldiers. In one part of the space is a series of three pictures of a soldier, his weapon, and the uniform he's either getting on or taking off. Another very small picture shows a torso of a hot guy wearing only some very neon blue briefs. Finally, the space has a very large picture of two women soldiers and next to them is a very large picture of two men in a very serious lip lock. So, the curator talks at some length about the formalism of the exhibit. She talks about the structure and the juxtapositions of pictures (and we're talking here about dozens of images). Finally, I can't take it anymore (and maybe it was just because I was so f**king horny), I ask her, "Can you talk about the sexual tension apparent here, and the homoeroticism that is so present in Tilmanns' work?"

She sputtered a bit. I don't think it even dawned on her that the whole exhibition is dripping with a sexual subtext, and with an incredible homoerotic undercurrent. I mean, you really want to jerk off in the gallery, because you'd feel like you are creating art. I'm guessing that the curator is a heterosexual woman who doesn't see the sexual context of the exhibit. And the irony of it all is that she was the person from the Hirschorn who curated the exhibit with Tillmans. It's a giant joke that nobody gets. Very weird. So afterwards, we went back to Tim's house, and he basically f**ked my brains out. Culture is important, and I'm going to do everything I have to do to preserve it in its proper context.

Religion is important too. Like Jesus. And whatever you do with Jesus, it's always feet first.