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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Under the Surface

The other night I dreamt that I was a passenger on a thin sailboat — practically a sailboard. Despite living here in Valhalla (AKA  Sloop Central) I’ve never been on a sailboat of any kind. I’ve done a microscopic amount of kayaking and ridden the ferries from mainland to islands but that’s it.

Boats scare me. Being on one that is. Why? Dunno. I guess I feel a bit trapped. I don’t suffer from Thalassophobia, at least I don’t think I do. I just know that I really don’t want to be stuck in a place that I can’t leave if the need arises. You know — in case we hit an iceberg or some dullard wants to lecture me on the intricacies of golf.

One company I worked for would occasionally host a summer party cruise for us. A truly generous scheme but I couldn’t do it. I need to be able to retreat to home, Honey Pie and cats when the urge hits me.

In any case, there I was on this sail board/boat, cruising over murky green water, when I noticed that, just below the surface, swam a dozen whales and other leviathan-esque sea creatures.

Yeah, I was freakin’ huge but then I noticed that none of these bulky bruisers seemed the least bit interested in me. That and they were magnificently gorgeous. All I could do was gaze and goggle.

Because this is how my brain works, I woke and had to see if there are any sea goddesses. There’re gods a plenty — Poseidon, king of the sea who ruled the Theoi Halioil, Neptune and Okeanos. Where’re the babes? Apart from Poseidon’s mate Amphitrite we seem to be relegated to nymph status.

Naiad1 — John William Waterhouse
Sure, there’s the dangerous Sirens but, for the most part we’re just sweet, tiny bosomed Oceanids and Naiads.

Oh but wait! There’s the Inuit Sea Goddess, Sedna!

In every version of her story and there are a few, she’s cast into the sea for one offense or another — refusing to marry, eating all the food in her parent’s house, being an orphan. Her father or the vile empathy-free villagers (republicans, no doubt) take her out  in a boat, toss her overboard and cut off her fingers so that she can’t climb back in. Yeah, real sweethearts.
As she clings to the sides, he chops off her fingers and she sinks to the underworld, becoming the ruler of the monsters of the deep. Her huge fingers become the seals, walruses, and whales hunted by the Inuit.

From each of her finger joints different sea creatures were born. They became fish, seals, walruses, and whales.
But wait — now she’s a planet! OK — she’s a goddess and a planet. Not too shabby. How long before Disney sugar coats the myth and does the movie?

As for my dream's mean — who knows? Maybe I should bull through my boat angst and go on a whale watch.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sitting Forever 'Neath the Streets of Boston

I took the T into town yesterday. You see, for all its annoyances and they are myriad, it’s way easier than driving in even with my mega easy to park Bix. I may have already mentioned that it’s ALWAYS rush hour in Massachusetts.

Here’s the dealio though — I have to build in a full 90 minutes to get from Valhalla to my destination of Coolidge Corner in Brookline — about 17 miles. Google maps laughably notes that this journey takes, in current traffic, about 32 minutes to drive. More like an hour minimum, not including the parking spot hunt and that’s on a splendidly fab-ola day.

So then, for an additional 30 minutes of my precious time I can leave the driving annoyances to the good folk of the MBTA. The ride involves one bus and two different subway lines. There's loads of sitting, waiting and hoping to snag a seat once my stunning coach arrives BUT I can space, dream, people watch, read and sketch. Sometimes there's even puppy watching!

By the time I reached Park Street Station yesterday, more than halfway into my trip, I had 40 minutes until my three o’clock appointment. Should’ve been PLENTY of time —no?
Ah, not so much.
There are four different westbound trollies passing through Park. The B train goes to Boston College. The D goes out to Newton. The E goes out to the VA Hospital in Mission Hill and the C terminates in Cleveland Circle, Brighton  .

I take the C and for some unfathomable reason they don’t run anywhere near as often as any of the  other three lines. I don’t get it.

As I waited, waited, waited I found that a fragment of Lilli Ann Killen Rosenberg’s brill mosaic mural  still exists. It’s unlit, shrouded in soot and way too easy to miss. What happened to the rest of this glorious, fun, tiled panorama? It's been covered over or replaced by posters advertising New Balance sneakers, Wagamama noodle restaurants, Svedka vodka and cut rate cell phone carriers.

Yeah, that was a real improvement, eh?

I arrived at my appointment with mere seconds to spare. Yea me! Maybe next time I go in I'll allow two hours for the trip so that, if lady luck is with me, I'll have time to peruse the stacks in Brookline Booksmith's Used Book Cellar.

*sigh* I'd be happiest if I could walk or trike (!!!) everywhere that I need to go.

whine, snivle, kvetch.
The Kingston Trio — M.T.A. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Crazy Eyes Rides Again

From Right Wing Watch:
During a Wednesday appearance on the conservative radio show “Faith & Liberty,” Rep. Michele Bachmann accused the “gay community” of pushing “deviancy,” “tyranny” and child rape.
The Minnesota Republican warned that the gay community will “abolish age of consent laws, which means we will do away with statutory rape laws so that adults will be able to freely prey on little children sexually. That’s the deviance that we’re seeing embraced in our culture today.”
Gee, she must have a mole within Big Gay Headquarters who's dishing out all of their nefarious schemes for world domination — because, ya know, who doesn't like a little B&D on occasion. Right? I mean, rilly now, her and hubby You-Can-Wash-Away-The-Gay-Marcus are totes tuned in to what's really goin' down. Right? Right!? What? Huh.
A friend snarked, mightily and trenchantly, onward yesterday:
So, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals today overturned Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. There they go again, those activist judges, legislating from the bench, insisting on dredging up those dubious due process and equal protection clauses. But one woman is having none of it.
One woman is standing firm, the beacon of truth in her upraised arm, the voice of a prophet issuing from her sultry, beckoning, full, firm,fleshy lips, lips that have known strange ... whoops, sorry, always get carried away when that woman is ... Michelle Bachman:
"It may have been multiple women and a man, it may have been something like that, but it was always between men and women.”  
Mmmmmm, multiple women and a man. As for "something like that," well, the imagination runs riot, no? In Rep. Bachman's world, Felliniesque orgies and mad Dionysian romps are a-okay — and I'm certainly not going to argue with her on that — so long as you keep your man-thing away from other men. Sounds reasonable, no?

The most beautiful thing about being Michelle Bachmann — aside from that ample bosom, so cruelly imprisoned behind a plunge-contour underwire bra — is that decisions like the one issued today aren't signs of defeat — they simply confirm the lemming-like descent into moral depravity being led by Harry Reid, the Lord of Misrule, the Sadean  master of unholy revels, a creature whose notion of "something like that" would shock the conscience of a Keith Richards, and further — and rightfully so! — help establish the Congresswoman as a vital leader in The Crusade Against Deviancy. Shine on, my lovely, and call this once great nation, now en-mired in the slough of gay-sex, to repentance!
From Raw Story:
Bachmann announced earlier this year that should would not be running for re-election when her current term in Congress ends. Some have conjectured that the ongoing criminal probe into the actions of her 2012 presidential campaign staff may have contributed to her decision to step down.
 Could it possibly be that Bachmann’s dabbling in the old magician’s trick of psychological misdirection? You know, gin up the masses into a rabid froth of fear, revulsion and prejudice so they’re distracted from her myriad shenanigans:
The Iowa and FBI investigations are centered on secret payments that her campaign made to state Sen. Kent Sorenson in exchange for his support and help in the 2012 Iowa caucuses. The House Ethics Committee is investigating Bachmann’s potential misuse of staff and campaign finances to promote her poorly selling biography Core of Conviction.
 Nah, can’t be — she’s a good Christian woman warrior. Or is she a vilely soulless, corrupt, christianist tool who’s only concerned with her own aggrandizement, lining her pockets with wealth and fucking Christ’s teachings nine ways to Sunday. Or is there a third option? Perhaps she truly believes everything she says and has “right” wing backers who see her shtick as useful for blowing up the uninformed, fact ignoring, fearful squads into frenzied, delirious Corporatist Republican voting mobs.

Possibly I’m being overly generous.

Whatever the case, there’s no way that I’ll ever visit Minnesota’s 6th district — apparently the area’s denizens are all hatters.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Swiftly Fly the Seasons

These summer weekends zoom by all too quickly. As Willy the Shake mentioned “summer’s lease hath all too short a date.“

On Saturday, Jen, Oni and I braved the hellacious late July weekend traffic and voyaged up to visit our pals Steve and Elaine in Beverly. I swear, at this time of year it’s always “rush” hour in Massachusetts. At nearly every moment of the day, or so it seems, the highways are bumper to bumper. Northward traffic is heading to Revere, Crane or Singing Beach. Southward is the even worse Cape gridlock. Heading west are all the folks bound for the Berkshires with its glorious forests, mountains, summer theaters, galleries, art and music fests.

About the only way to avoid the crush is to stay home. No can do — we must soar while the warm beautiful days are on us!

Now, we could take public transportation up to Steve and Elaine’s. That’d involve one bus, two subway lines and the commuter rail — two plus hours each way. Def doable but a harsh way to spend four or more hours on a gorgeous, sunny, July day.

Kvetch, grumble, grouse.

In any case, we got our sea and sand fix at Beverly’s sweet little town beach in Lynch Park and then back to the house for a magnificent feast. They crafted some brilliantly wild salad, grilled salmon, asparagus and more — all topped off with homemade ice cream and some phenomenal Bourbon (whose name escapes me).

We’ll see them again at the tail end of the season, just before the autumnal equinox, when our mutual friends Rick and Julie are here from Albuquerque. Ya know...if it’s a clear night maybe the gang of us can hit the beach, armed with telescopes, and do a bit of star gazing. Wow, that’d be awesome (she notes whilst patting herself on the back for coming up with such a fun scheme).
Jet ~Tony Hoagland

Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel
with the boys, getting louder and louder
as the empty cans drop out of our paws
like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars.
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead,
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish
and old space suits with skeletons inside.
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,
Go read the whole poem — it’s not long and every stanza is a sharp edged beauty.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Race

Derrick Clifton, writing at the Daily Dot mentioned this phrase, popular in some circles:
 “I don’t see race. I only see the human race.”
This may sound revolutionary, so-called color-blindness is actually part of the problem. Not “seeing race” is simply a lazy coded phrase for deliberately ignoring the lingering elements of racism that actually need to be fixed and reinforces the privilege of being able to bypass the negative effects of racism in the first place. As the saying goes, “You can’t erase what you cannot face.”
“I don’t see race. I only see the human race.”
It’s a cute little buzz phrase but all it says is:
“Hi. I’m a bit clueless and insecure but otherwise nice and sane and I really, REALLY don’t want to be lumped in with all those skeevy bigots!”
Dude/Dudette please chill. No one was accusing you of having fitted white sheets with matching hoods in your closet.

Or possibly the expression translates like this:
“Hi. I’ve a deep love and appreciation for my own magnificently, beatific humanity and you should too.”
Yes Dearie — could you make my Grande, Quad, Nonfat, One-Pump, No-Whip, Mocha NOW please and make the espresso decaff — K?

“I don’t see race. I only see the human race.” Such utter snot-twaddled bullshit. OF COURSE the speaker of this look-at-me-look-at-me-it’s-all-about-me flip phrase sees race — we all do! To NOT see race is to deny a large part of our beings. Sure, the color of my skin suit isn’t all of who I am but, ya know, it’s kind of key.

I’ve probably linked to John Scalzi's post, Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is, before. It bears relinking and re-quoting.
Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.
This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.
You can lose playing on the lowest difficulty setting. The lowest difficulty setting is still the easiest setting to win on. The player who plays on the “Gay Minority Female” setting? Hardcore.
What’s the point, the take away of this morning’s post? Life is hard. Go walk a mile or six in another’s sparkly flip flops before you blithely or defensively speak.

You know, today you could maybe go for a stroll in my size nine, late deafened, non-blonde, 55 year old scuffs. Tomorrow you can don some smart, size 10, deep sienna, 40 year old kicks. The day after, how's 'bout we go for a hike in a sweet pair of 30 year old, brilliant scarlet, blind kitten heels?

And this:
 #YesAllBlackPeople know that #NotAllWhitePeople are racist. But we’re talking about a system, not you personally (unless we have to). Get over yourself.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Oh look, It’s Saturday morning!

Last night as The Amazing Bob, Jen, Oni, brother Kevin and I sat out on the veranda, enjoying the day’s fading light, Jen spotted an interloper. I suppose, because our wee grey visitor was respectfully hiding in the tree’s hollow, our Varmint Warriors (Varmint Warriors — great band name, n'est-ce pas?) didn’t feel the need to spring into action.

Or they were off the Rodent Repeller clock. One or the other.
They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the
stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!" 
Jack KerouacOn the Road 
Jen and I met at Froggies the other night. As usual, my brain short circuited when the fab-ola barkeep Wendy asked me what I’d like and, as uzh again, I asked her to surprise me. What’d I get? A Wentini! Dunno all that was in it but there was a lovely hint of grapefruit meandering through it. She’s the Merlin of Martinis, I tell ya!
Now that Rocco’s rockin’ his summer fur coat and cap, his battle scars are much more apparent. TAB and I are still amazed that he survived. That and he just loves to have his head patted. I didn’t for the longest time, figuring that’d be painful. Nope — our former feral warrior just can’t get enough. I hope, hope, hope we can entice him to come inside this next winter.
I just started Charles De Lint's book The Onion Girl. It's a fairy tale about a woman surviving an  awful childhood plus being hit (and run) by a car, becoming paralyzed and losing her ability to paint, to wield a brush. Painting was the core of her being. Now, I've already read the next book in the series Widdershins (found it on the discount shelf at Trident — it was my introduction to Mister De Lint's work) so I know she works, pushes through and is able to paint again.

Like me!
People who’ve never read fairy tales, the professor said, have a harder time coping in life than the people who have. They don’t have access to all the lessons that can be learned from the journeys through the dark woods and the kindness of strangers treated decently, the knowledge that can be gained from the company and example of Donkeyskins and cats wearing boots and steadfast tin soldiers. I’m not talking about in-your-face lessons, but more subtle ones. The kind that seep up from your sub¬conscious and give you moral and humane structures for your life. That teach you how to prevail, and trust. And maybe even love.
Yesterday morning was so gloriously beautiful that I had to run out, camera in hand of course, for an early beach scramble.

Here...just look!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Time Passages

A guest post by my dear friend Steve.
I just realized the other day that 6 months before the 9/11 attacks was about 25% of my life ago.  That’s a lot longer than I would have expected.

How did this occur to me?  Well it started with my sister calling me to try and set up a time to scatter our brother Bill’s ashes along the beaches of Milford, an area he loved so much.

Thinking about tossing your brother’s cremains into the wind and surf will tend to get you thinking about the passage of time and the changes that we all go through as the calendar pages turn.  But in the midst of this conversation, sis dropped the bombshell that she bought a house in Florida and will be moving over 1,000 miles away in a matter of weeks.

What???  My big sister is abandoning me?  Simply to follow her dream and keep a promise she made to herself 10 years ago?  Come on!!

We talked about this for hours, over beers, over dinner, over drinks.  I was in shock and all I could process was that my life was changing in ways I didn’t choose.  Wah., wah, wah; me, me, me.

Then I went home and as soon as I walked into my house, I realized it had happened, another passage of time.  My dog Amy, who had greeted me at the door for years and years had been fading quickly over the past few weeks.  And I knew without finding her, that the fade was complete.  Amy had passed away.
My mother and I had saved Amy from the Bridgeport Animal Shelter in early 2001, about 6 months before 9/11.  Twenty-five percent of my life ago.  A lot of time passed with that dog by my side.

A few years after we rescued Amy, my Mom died.  She had always dreamed of living her final years in the Florida Keys, but time passed and it never happened.  My sister and I took her ashes to one of Mom’s favorite Keys spots (the old bridge in Bahia Honda) and opened the plastic bag and set her ashes free.  My sister turned to me then and made a promise that she would LIVE in Florida, not just be brought there in a bag.

We had a beautiful time the night we scattered our brother’s ashes at the Connecticut shore.  Three generations of our family gathered and we laughed together and just enjoyed each other’s company.  Eventually, everyone else left and my sister and I talked into the wee hours, telling stories about Bill and the rest of our rather colorful family.

Damn, I’ll miss her.  But she will still be on the other end of a phone call, or a text message or an email.  Or a flight.  Or even a train ride.  And she’ll be doing what she promised herself she would do.  That makes it all bearable.

Time continues to pass, each day seemingly quicker than the day before.  Hold onto the best of yesterday and look forward to tomorrow, which will soon be today.  It may be better, it may be worse, but it will be a new day, a new morning.
This must be the day when all of my dreams come true
So happy just to be alive
Underneath the sky of blue
On this new morning, new morning
On this new morning with you
~Bob Dylan
 A quick postscript:  the morning after I found Amy’s lifeless body, I woke up early and headed out back to dig her grave.  She was a big dog, so I had to dig a big, deep hole and needed to take a break after I was finished.  When I had recovered and was able to carry her out to her final resting place, I noticed something sitting on the bottom of the grave.  A closer look showed me that it was a toy, a plastic, purple hippopotamus.  I looked around, but there was no one to be seen.

I don’t know who or what put that toy there, but it rests for eternity with Amy, my dog for the past 25% of my life.
Time Passages — Al Stewart  
Steve and I have been friends for more than half our lives. We met, roughly, 55% of our lives ago.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Leave Them Kids Alone

TAB w/the adorbs yet evil Ralfie
The Amazing Bob is 16.5 years older than me. In turn, I’m 16.5 years younger than him. Neat trick, nicht wahr?

We met when I was 27 to his 44 years on this small blue Earth. Now, I didn’t know that he was that much older — I figured he was, at most, ten years ahead. My most awesome Honey Pie was a free spirited, long haired, trim and gorgeous hippy freak and totes didn’t look his age. By the time I cut him in half and counted his rings (about five days after meeting) I was rockin’ a crush, an obsession, that’d make Orpheus' passion for Eurydice look like puppy love.

TAB wondered, what would a kid want with an old dog like me? For my part, I couldn’t imagine a fabulous, suave, man-of-the-world wanting to rattle and canoodle with a snot nosed brat like me.

Romance happens.

My parents were, naturally, concerned about the gulf between our ages. Hells, TAB’s just six years younger than Vati. That inspired some serious discomfort in the old man.

Here’s the thing though — I was 27 not 15 and had already been through a ringer or six. I surely wasn’t a paragon of maturity BUT me and my lovely battle scars were doin’ OK. I was a sensible-ish, strong young bee and TAB was no Svengali.

Imagine though, if you will, TAB and I meeting when I was 15 and he 32. You know what? We may have been warm for each others forms and enjoyed slingin’ a little conversational hash but I’ll guaran-damn-tee you that it wouldn’t have gone beyond that. Warum? I may’ve looked mature at 15 but I was still a child. My crushes back then were on 17 year old boys who seemed SO much more mature and handsome than my fellow sophomores.

TAB at 32, recently back from Nam and in college, was dating his French teacher. Yep, we were just naturally all over that age and experience appropriateness business.

So, wut up with these dodgy sorts — you know, the wombats in their 20s and 30s who go after young teens? I’ve actually known two men like this. What these two sad miscreants had in common was extreme insecurity. I’m guessing they looked on their young targets as sweetly nonthreatening and nonjudgmental. Predator and prey. Priest and penitent. Employer and employee. Teacher and tenderfoot. Unequal. Unbalanced.

I surely hope Gordon’s young bride eventually embraced herself — became more than a subsidiary of her older beau and then husband. Maybe she did after the seventh or eighth bairn popped outta the chute.

The other King of Insecurity? I believe he ended up marrying a woman around his own age — a fellow engineer even. Possibly his dalliance with predatory behavior was anomalous. Hope.

Stats found on the National Center for Victims of Crime site:
Studies by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that:
1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse
Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized
Sadly unsurprising.

Another Brick in the Wall Part II — Pink Floyd