Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Prop 8: Why Has Christianity Declared War On Gay People?

It's been a week since Proposition 8 overturned gay marriage in California, and I'm still in shock.  I'm angry too, but more hurt than angry.  I can't understand how supposed "churches" and "men of the cloth" and their followers can spew such hate and still call themselves Christians?  Whatever happened to "Judge not lest ye be judged?" or "Do unto others as you would be done by."
I've been around close to 50 years and still it amazes me the callousness that religious zealots can show when it comes to human rights (and human suffering).  I've read that some in the campaign spread the lie that "Gay marriage would have to be taught in kindergarten."  WHAT?  How can they tell that whopper with a straight face (pun intended)?
Look, I don't live in California, so I have no horse in the race EXCEPT that I thought the country was moving into the 21st Century.  But here's what sticks in my craw:
Any man can impregnate any woman.  No test to see if they even LIKE kids, much less whether they're emotionally qualified or able to provide a stable home.  Straight people get this supposed right without lifting a finger, free and clear.
But gay people, those who helped build human civilization along side their straight companions, have to EARN the right to marry?  Well, then if that's the case, we have ALREADY earned the right, and here's why:
  • Alan Turning - Helped break the Enigma code in WWII, driven to suicide because he was gay.
  • Alexander the Great - You know, conqueror of most of the known world?  Yeah, him.  Greatest general ever seen.  
  • Edward Albee - American playwright who wrote "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
  • Hans Christian Andersen - Children's writer who wrote "The Little Mermaid," "The Ugly Duckling," and others
  • Giorgio Armani - Yeah, the clothes guy.
  • Rock Hudson - The original HUNK.  'Nuff said
  • Clive Barker - Horror king who created the "Hellraiser" series and others.
  • Truman Capote - Wrote the ground-breaking book "In Cold Blood" about the murders of a family in Kansas in the 60's.
  • John "Terry" Dolan - Right-wing political operative who co-founded the National Conservative Political Action Committee during the Reagan years.
And this is just a random sampling.  My point is that we contribute our fair share, and in some cases, more than our fair share.  When the AIDS epidemic hit in the 80's, we pulled together and helped each other because no one was helping us - we were dying and no one cared.
I'm outraged.  What more do we need to do?  Anyone who voted for this measure has no right to call themselves a human being, much less a Christian.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Air Force Academy Chapel

Air Force Academy Chapel
Originally uploaded by CkH~Lovin' Life
I had to add another picture to this post. Lest anyone think that the Academy chapel is just an architectural oddity, here's the massive pipe organ that resides at one end of the chapel. You can notice some of the stained glass that runs between the spires of the roof on the left of the picture also.
The chapel is a functioning church, and as such has everything you'd expect to find in a church - organ, altar, pews, stained glass.

Air Force Academy Chapel

Air Force Academy Chapel
Originally uploaded by gamookie
Today's image, the latest in my American Architecture desktop pictures series, is from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I grew up in the shadow of Pike's Peak and my dad used to take me to basketball games at the Academy. This building has always been one of my favorites, and this is a great picture of it.
I think what I like about it is that it's so clean - all crisp lines and sharp angles. So often in architecture people compromise away the best design elements, but this is all there, precise and looking like a set of razor-sharp teeth!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pete Foster (1963-2008) Rest in Peace

My partner, Pete Foster, who passed away on July 8, 2008, left us very suddenly and without warning.  What follows is a copy of what I said at Pete's memorial.

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our heart and we are never, ever the same."

I came across this quote written on a scrap of paper while I was going through the desk of a co-worker who had passed away suddenly of a heart attack. In order to tell you something about my partner, Pete, I have to tell you about my co-worker.

His name was Bob Streeter, and when Pete and I enrolled in Bryan Career College's travel program, Bob was one of our teachers. Specifically, he was in charge of teaching us the sales end of being a travel agent. Pete, whose step-father had been a used car salesman, told Bob on the first day of his class, "You have nothing to teach me."

But as the class went on, Pete found that Bob did, indeed, have something he wanted to learn. From him, Pete learned how to present himself as a professional and to raise "selling" to something respectable by filling the client's needs instead of just filling a sales quota.

This was a new concept! And Pete, after he left that school, became a very good travel agent. Luckily, I was hired by the school and Bob became a friend of ours.

The post-script to the story is this: When Bob unexpectedly died, I came home to tell Pete about it. He was so upset that he slammed his fist into our refrigerator, leaving a huge dent. More importantly, he broke his hand. I had to rush him to the emergency room all the while keeping him talking so he wouldn't pass out. He spent 3 weeks in a cast, which made it hard to type in reservations!

Pete, you see, cared deeply for his friends and family. And he wasn't above adding someone to his "friends" list that he originally felt "had nothing to teach him." In fact he often adopted people he cared about, calling them part of his “family of choice.”

Pete respected good teachers a great deal. A funny thing to say, perhaps, about someone that punched a history teacher in the face. We later ran into this teacher at the Kansas City Free Clinic, working in the office. Pete struck up a conversation with him and they laughed about the incident.

You see, our Pete didn't know a stranger. To him, all the world was filled with potential friends. He just hadn't met them yet. And when he liked you, he watched out for you.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, he took it upon himself to ask me for the number every time I took a blood sugar reading. When it was too high, he'd look disapprovingly at me and wag his finger. Because of that, I stayed on my diet.

That same level of caring also caused him to take the loss of a loved one very hard. When, in 1999, we lost both his mother, Pat, his brother Michael, and my own mother, Pete struggled to deal with the loss. No doubt he is happy to be with them now.

Pete loved to cut up and have fun. He was a good mimic, and loved to tell funny stories and jokes. His favorite practical joke was the "bink." To bink someone, you find a moment when they're not looking or don't see you coming and you tap them between the eyes, at the same time yelling, "BINK!" Try it sometime. The victim's eyes will go cross-eyed and it looks really funny. The few times I was able to do it back to him, it really confused him, which was the funniest thing I've ever seen.

More than anything, I'll miss cooking with Pete. He made the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. Food was an important part of his life. Just as he didn't know a stranger, he also would never turn you away if you showed up at his door hungry. And if you left his table still hungry, he'd by God know the reason why!

When the Food Network came on the air, he was in cooking heaven. He loved to watch Emeril Lagasse and we often cooked together, trying new things. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they were "interesting." That's what he called anything that didn't taste right or was too tough or burned or salty. I will miss cooking with him. When we were in sync, it was almost a ballet. It had to be in some of the kitchens we had!

When we went truck driving over-the-road, he could never pass a claw machine without trying to get me a toy. He was so successful that I have several boxes and a trash bag full of stuffed animals. And although he always said that he didn't like kids, when a child who had spent several dollars trying to get a toy watched him get not 1, not 2, but 3 toys out of a machine, he handed one to the kid. He told me if I told anyone he'd deny it.

Of all the things he had done in his life, he was the proudest of his involvement with Kansas City's AIDS service organization, the Good Samaritan Project, in the early days of the AIDS crisis. When he worked with them, he had not been diagnosed with AIDS. But having been trained as an emergency med tech, and with a mother who was a nurse at Trinity Hospital, he recognized the need for people with AIDS to get help.

Later, when he got his own HIV diagnosis, he always tried not to use the services of GSP, preferring to leave their resources free to help someone that might be more deserving.

Music was another big part of Pete's life. He was never prouder than the day his mother asked him to give her away and to sing at her wedding. When he sang, there wasn't a dry eye in the place, including his own. Pat's wedding was one of the happiest days of his life.

And I knew that I'd found the right guy when this big, tough truck driver revealed that he loved Disney's "The Jungle Book." He was especially fond of Louis Prima & Phil Harris' song, "I Wanna Be Like You," that had a lot of scat singing. He also loved "The Music Man," especially the barbershop harmonies of The Buffalo Bills and Robert Preston's slick-talking salesmanship in "Ya Got Trouble." He knew every word of all those songs and loved to sing along.

During the 80's he worked as a limousine driver and bodyguard and was blessed to carry Shirley Jones in his limo. He was awestruck. He told me that she was just a beautiful then as in "The Music Man," and that she was very kind. So, he said, was Roy Clark, who gave him a large tip.

However, he noted that, with the exception of Hulk Hogan, most of the professional wrestlers were pigs and that the singer Tom Jones obviously stuffed a sock in his pants, not to mention he stiffed him for a tip.

But his favorite story was from the time when he drove for Dom Deluise. Deluise was so large a man that the first limo Pete brought to pick him up at KCI didn't have a large enough doorway and he had to call for a different car. But even funnier, at the end of the evening when he dropped off the entertainer for his flight at the airport, Deluise, noting that Airport Security was close by, opened the door and then called back over his shoulder, "Thanks again for the cocaine, man. It was awesome." Pete was mortified and amused at the same time.

These are the footprints that Pete left on my heart He was a wonderful partner, friend, and companion. He took care of anyone he could, fed anyone he could, and loved to laugh. And when I remember him, it won't be with tears, but with one of his recipes, one of his songs, or one of his funny stories. And with footprints like these, how could I ever be the same without him?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chrysler Building - Art Deco Icon

Chrysler Building
Originally uploaded by neckarhase
The Chrysler Building in New York is an architectural gem. Started in 1928, it was briefly the tallest building in the world before being overtaken by the Empire State Building. However, it is still the tallest BRICK building in the world!

Built by Walter Chrysler, it not only epitomizes the Art Deco era, it also contains many touches that harken back to the automobiles that Chrysler produced. If you look closely at the building's gargoyles, you'll see hood ornaments from old Plymouths!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The New Immortal, John Amsterdam

I admit it - I'm addicted to immortal characters.  First there was "Forever Knight," then "The Highlander" and "Angel."  I've loved them all.  This season, Fox has a new one, John Amsterdam of "New Amsterdam."  For those that don't already know, 'New Amsterdam' was the original name of New York when the Dutch colonized it in the 17th century.  When John saves an Indian girl from being killed by a fellow dutchman, she saves his life and bestows upon him immortality until such time as he finds "the one" and they are wed.

The show has only shown seven episodes, and I've seen all of them.  They're all good so far, and I'm hoping that Fox will bring it back soon for more episodes.  So far we've seen John as a coachman, a painter, a con artist, and an alcoholic.  His son, Omar, is 65 years old, the offspring of John & a black woman in the 1940's. John's got a sense of humor that other immortals don't usually have:  He stands up in an AA meeting and introduces himself, "Hello, my name is John and I'm an alcoholic.  I haven't had a drink in 15,495 days."  If you do the math, that's 42 years!  He mentions his many wives frequently and he doesn't bother to name his dogs anymore - the current one is "36."

If you haven't caught the show, there are episodes available in iTunes as well as Fox's site.

Why do I love immortals?  I've often felt like one, I guess.  While I'm only 47, I can certainly relate to the idea of outliving all of your friends (most of mine died of AIDS in the last 20 years) and re-inventing yourself over and over.  I think those kinds of experiences have left me feeling older than I really am.  

Give John Amsterdam a try, you might like him.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
Originally uploaded by jimfrazier
Here's a great photo of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge at night. I like this picture because it's not your standard Golden Gate photo of the bridge in bright daylight. Sometimes you also see the Gate surrounded in fog. The bay is often foggy, and I found SF to be chilly even in the summer.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee

Pyramid Arena
Originally uploaded by DiscourseMarker
Here is another great piece of American architecture (suitable for wallpaper). I remember driving through Memphis many years ago on my way to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and the Pyramid is very striking. It's huge!

Sad that the arena is not currently being used. I hope they sort this situation out soon, it is such a waste of a great building.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Empire State Building

Empire State Building
Originally uploaded by Martini Captures
I'm starting a series of posts with pictures of American examples of "grand architecture." The sort of pics I'm looking for will show off the building or structure nicely and also be usable as a desktop picture (or wallpaper, if you insist on using Windows).

My other requirement is that the picture have some nice composition and be licensed under Creative Commons (so I'm not stepping on anyone's rights!).

This is the first in my series, a great picture of a truly American landmark - the Empire State Building. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

MOG vs Last.fm

OK, so remember how I said that MOG was doing better than Last.fm at using my processor and memory?  Well, I was wrong, but it isn't my fault.  The problem is that MOG's "MOG-O-Matic" preference pane hands all the real work off to the System Events application.  So although the MOG software uses almost no processor cycles, it's not true to say that MOG uses less of my system.  In fact, it's the opposite.

I've been in touch with MOG's support team, and they're trying to work with me to resolve the issue, but for now, I've re-activated my Last.fm account and will run it until MOG can fix whatever is going on with their software.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Ten Artists You Need in Your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player

I just posted my year-end list of artists everyone should own over at my MOG page.  The list includes some things you might expect and some that you might not.  Give it a look if you have time.  

Also, MOG's custom skin-handling issues that posted about last time are fixed, so I'm much happier.  I didn't need to sign up with Rhapsody, but am able to listen to music, so that's better too.

In the same post you'll find a link to my homemade album covers for some live concerts that are available from the Internet Archive's Live Music Archive.  If you haven't been over there, check it out, there's lots of free, live music available, some from people you know and some that you won't.  It's rated for quality so you won't waste your time with sub-standard recordings.  I'm partial to 3 of the Grateful Dead concerts and 2 by Smashing Pumpkins, but you might like others.