Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Freaking Out

So I went in for my last preparatory visit for my Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery on Thursday morning. It's all systems go. I had my last meal last night, and I am not allowed to eat anything between now and the surgery. Giving up caffeine was brutal. I was drinking about five liters of Diet Coke a day, and I've gone from that to nothing. I feel like I'm wrapped in gauze all the time. That is, when my head isn't hurting.

Last night was really the first time I was kind of freaking out, losing sleep about the thought of a surgeon sewing up my stomach. I guess a "what the hell am I doing" phase is necessary at some point. I just want the next week or so over, so that I can start the massive adjustment period, complete with vomiting, dumping syndrome, dehydration, and the horror of fast food advertisements.

I'm fatter then I've ever been. Though it shames me greatly to say it, I've peaked at 408 pounds. That's up from 270 about two years ago. My target weight is 220. I'm a big boy, and 220 would be mighty svelte indeed. I'll be working intensively to reach that in the next 18 months. Stay tuned for a regular running tally. Let's call it the Ultimate Blogger Makeover! Maybe I'll take up cocaine...

As for now, I'm just keeping my head down. Nothing will distract me. Not even the take-out Donburi from Mitsuwa.

Wool Eyelids

Welcome to Randolph, Utah, where just about everyone loves George W. Bush!

Sometimes I'm just so proud of my ancestral home.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Eye Of The Beholder

A word of advice.

If you want to design a protest flyer against a new building in your neighborhood, and that building is the kind of incredibly cool design by Scarano Architects that has "instant landmark" written all over it, then at least try not to use a beautiful model shot. How is this supposed to dissuade anyone?

Hat tip to ltjbukem via Gawker.


I feel kinda like a sniper at the Special Olympics with this one, but I just couldn't resist this web page of actual quotes from former Mayor and current D.C. Councilman Marion Barry. Here's my favorite three:

"If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very very low crime rate."

"I am a great mayor; I am an upstanding Christian man; I am an intelligent man; I am a deeply educated man; I am a humble man."

"Bitch set me up."

Left Brain Right Brain

This may be the best description of feedback-loop politics I've read in a long time, and it comes not from a political writer, but from a psychologist:

When presented with negative information about the candidates they liked, partisans of all stripes found ways to discount it, (Emory University psychologist Drew) Westen said. When the unpalatable information was rejected, furthermore, the brain scans showed that volunteers gave themselves feel-good pats -- the scans showed that "reward centers" in volunteers' brains were activated. The psychologist observed that the way these subjects dealt with unwelcome information had curious parallels with drug addiction as addicts also reward themselves for wrong-headed behavior.

Anyone who has gotten into an argument with a true believer will recognize that smug smile of satisfaction' when they find some trick to dispose of an inconvenient fact you've presented them with. Call it the "justification buzz" if you will. God knows that I've felt it myself.

Then there is this no-brainer line:

"If anyone in Washington is skeptical about these findings, they are in denial," he said. "We have 50 years of evidence that racial prejudice predicts voting. Republicans are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks. If people say, 'This takes me aback,' they are ignoring a huge volume of research."

Heh. I was a Republican congressional intern. I could have told you that!

From Now On, We Only Run The Family Circus

Danish citizens all over the Middle East are being attacked because a Danish newspaper ran some satirical cartoons of Muhammad, including this one:

This is so depressing. How do we expect to build a democracy in a part of the world where the idea of free speech is so non-existent? In the Arab world, the individual hardly seems to exist at all as a philosophical construct. Why else would you blame an entire nation and its government for the speech of an autonomous individual or organization like a newspaper? Does the concept of autonomy from the state even exist in the Middle East?

Maybe the only thing more depressing is how quickly some of the Danes in this article agreed with censorship. When the right talks about "political correctness run amok" in America, unless they are standing within the city limits of Berkeley or Cambridge, they are usually full of shit. But one wonders about Europe sometimes. I know it's polite not to offend, and the Danes are usually very polite, but when radicals half a world away are dictating what you can or cannot run in your newspapers, you are giving up something very precious, a very sense of the long tradition of the enlightenment values that should animate you.

Besides, who could really hate the Danes?

Vive Le Shoddy Journalism

There are few things I love more then a really vicious review. I miss the old Dale Peck, the way Pauline Kael could obliterate a movie in one line.

Well, delicious is Garrison Keillor's review of Bernard Henri-Levy's new book, American Vertigo, the road story of the French "public philosopher" as he travels around our country. Keillor eviscerates Levy's use of the tired cliches and easy stereotypes of America so beloved in Europe:

In more than 300 pages, nobody tells a joke. Nobody does much work. Nobody sits and eats and enjoys their food. You've lived all your life in America, never attended a megachurch or a brothel, don't own guns, are non-Amish, and it dawns on you that this is a book about the French. There's no reason for it to exist in English, except as evidence that travel need not be broadening and one should be wary of books with Tocqueville in the title.

Keillor is right to bristle about the tiring way European intellectuals reduce America to a collection of cheap and easy symbols of the id. Sometimes when I listen to the BBC, I get the feeling that there isn't a Jesus-mad cracker in the entire state of Alabama who hasn't been interviewed by one of their dulcet-toned reporters. It's just lazy when you think about it, like writing a book about France that talks only of ennui, baguettes, and the lovely views of Provence. Or as Keillor concludes:

Thanks, pal... Thanks for coming. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. For your next book, tell us about those riots in France, the cars burning in the suburbs of Paris. What was that all about? Were fat people involved?

Great Books Shuck And Jive

Sullivan wonders how Pope Benedict can site Plato's Symposium in his new encyclical on love, and at the same time be so vociferously anti-gay. Benedict reminds me of some of the professors and fellow students I had at my little Liberal Arts college; men who fought valiantly to cloak their prejudices and hang-ups in the haughty language of the traditional liberal arts, to give a veneer of universal wisdom to their own cramped and narrow views. I hated these Straussian tendencies; this idea that through sub-text you can telegraph your own petty agenda, while ignoring the actual obvious meaning of the text. Anyone who reads the Symposium understands that it gives great honor to same-sex relationships. It takes a certain ugly obstinacy to read and re-read and, like Benedict even immerse yourself in such texts, and still hold on to your bigotry. By cherry-picking out of the philosophical classics, men like Benedict think they are clever, but really, they reassemble nothing more or less then Sunday School teachers in some obscure Christian sect like Mormonism or Pentacostalism, carefully selecting the passages of holy scripture that reflects their particular creed, and ignoring the great body of the biblical text that does not. Compelling works like Plato should shake our world up; but rather than accept the consequences of such ideas, smart but close-minded men like Benedict spend their lives trying to avoid betrayal by their own intellect, which inconveniently seems to have an inappropriate fondness, one might even say an Eros, for the truth.

Friday, January 27, 2006

To Park Or Not To Park

LAist finally nails down the broken parking meter conundrum. In Los Angeles, it is legal to park in front of a broken meter. But you still might get a ticket.

I heart L.A.

Wolf In Wolf's Clothing

This Rolling Stone article about Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is terrifying. If you wanted a psychological study of a man obsessed with power, read the passage where Brownback goes over his resume late at night, and then, determining that he had done nothing that would outlast his own lifetime, burns it and commits himself to serving the one path he believes to lead to immortality, God. He so desperately wants the power to change the course of history, that in his lust he has convinced himself that God wants him to have it as well.

Then there is this lovely passage:

It doesn't bother Brownback that most Bible scholars challenge the idea that Scripture opposes homosexuality. "It's pretty clear," he says, "what we know in our hearts." This, he says, is "natural law," derived from observation of the world, but the logic is circular: It's wrong because he observes himself believing it's wrong.

He has worldly proof, too. "You look at the social impact of the countries that have engaged in homosexual marriage." He shakes his head in sorrow, thinking of Sweden, which Christian conservatives believe has been made by "social engineering" into an outer ring of hell. "You'll know 'em by their fruits," Brownback says. He pauses, and an awkward silence fills the room. He was citing scripture -- Matthew 7:16 -- but he just called gay Swedes "fruits."

Here's a man so detached from the world that he sites contemporary Sweden as an automatically negative example. Sure, a modern secular society with a strong economy, a great public health system, and an international reputation as peacemakers must seem like a great blasphemy to the religious right, but they don't seem to even realize how silly they sound when they use the phrase "look at Sweden" in the same way that most of us might say with sadness "look at North Korea" or "look at the Sudan". Sweden ain't it.

But I bet that whole "fruits" pun just kills at the megachurches.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Listen To Me Talk About Why Alito Won't Be Stopped

this is an audio post - click to play

Message To David Drier

Guardian columnist Andy Beckett nails it in this column about the gay political scandals currently striking Britain. It's not that the two recently outed MP's were gay that disqualifies them from leading their party. It's that they deceived folks about it:

But we are fast approaching the point where the electorate and a politician's colleagues are entitled to ask what justifies a politician leading an effectively clandestine life. Any reasonable person will turn away from Oaten's behaviour with some distaste; making a parade of his family for political gain and behaving in a way that is calculated to involve a wife and two small children in a very public humiliation, is simply inexcusable behaviour.

And perhaps the Lib Dems should be asking themselves whether they should really be thinking of electing a man as leader who would clearly prefer still to be keeping these apparently shameful secrets, who gives the impression of regarding his affairs with men as "mistakes", who, until last week, was lying in response to a perfectly reasonable question on the subject and who compares his sexuality to "an albatross round [his] neck". Whatever dubious psychological state of mind these peculiar comments reveal, the suspicion cannot be avoided that here is someone who might have been vulnerable to pressure from some very unsavoury quarters. Is someone who has chosen to live most of a life in shame and shrilly defended "privacy" really a safe person to put in charge of a political party?

Hughes is right: the fact of someone being homosexual should not debar them from holding high political office. But it ought to be someone who regards their homosexuality just as a heterosexual regards their sexuality: unremarkable, uninteresting to strangers, not worth talking about and, for many reasons, not worth thinking about concealing or lying about.

This is my problem with the James McGreevey's of the world, who lie and dissemble, and then claim gay fealty when they are outed. If you are not smart enough or self-aware enough to realize that, in this day and age, openness is the best policy, well, you probably shouldn't hold office until you work your issues out.

New Favorite Word


Use in a sentence:

It's terribly unfair, but Hugh Grant has made a fortune by being both pretty and dithery.

Queer Or British?

A second candidate to lead the Liberal Democrats in Britain gets outed. It just goes to show that if you scratch any British man deep enough, well...

Queer Or British!

Of course, it may well be that it's a Lib Dem problem. After all, the party was founded by the famously self-flagellating Gladstone.

Either way, I think that the queer tilt in British politics is here to stay. Especially given Prince Harry's penchant for fancy dress:

The Zen Of The Photo Op

Robert Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State for Chinese affairs, paid a recent visit to a panda breeding center in China, where he took the most unintentionally disturbing photo I've seen in ages. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with


What on earth is he doing to that poor thing? Look at it's facial expression! That's gotta be "Pandaspeak" for "not the hose again mommy".

On the plus side, it's good to know that our State Department employees are so, well, gay and beautific. The second coming of Saint Francis of Assisi, anyone?

Tips to faux-Wonkette.

Passing Notes

I don't usually post about guys I'm attracted to, because, well, it's a highly individual thing. Attraction is based on chemistry, and either you get it or you don't. It's especially difficult to judge who you might think is hot or not through pictures or video, but we still all occasionally develop attractions to public figures, right?

All of which is to say, I'm totally crushing on Bode Miller.

Any guy who can win a ski race drunk is pretty impressive. Then there was his performance in the last Winter Olympics, when he managed to fall down on his ass at 80mph, get right back up, and still take home the Silver Medal. You add his whole backwoods hippy New Hampshire childhood, and you end up with a total iconoclast who says things like this:

"Look, a lot of the people involved with the U.S. Ski Team—the people that I'm representing—are unbelievable a--holes. Rich, cocky, wicked conceited, super-right-wing Republicans. But because of my morals, my principles, I can't judge them for that. The things they've done for me warrant respect, and I'm trying to pay them back."

God, I love liberal bad boys with skills.

It doesn't hurt that he's exactly the kind of scruffy, round-faced, smiling-eyed guy who gets me hotter than a whorehouse jukebox.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bumper Sticker Politics

“And yet we have brave men and women who are willing to step forward because they know what’s at stake. They’re willing to sacrifice their lives for this great country.

What I am asking all of you tonight, is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country, to fight for what we believe in?”

Rick Santorum, comparing putting one of his re-election bumper stickers on your car to fighting for your country overseas.

Rick Santorum, commanding general of the Chickenhawks.

How does this shit even work?

Thanks to Andrew for the tip.

Fugly, Winter Style

I spent two winters in Park City as a ski bum/resort employee. Whatever virtues Sundance may have as a film festival, we always dreaded it because it was when all the nastiest people came out to pretend to ski. You just got an even more rich and crapulous class of folks, but what really set them apart was their total brazen desire to be noticed. I think that this photo from the Salt Lake Tribune pretty much sums it up:

Holy crap, is that thing trying to devour her? It's bad enough that Sundance already cursed the world with the UGG boot.

That Dog Don't Hunt

You shoot and rob a homo college professor in Alabama, expect the jury to only convict you of a lesser charge. After all, he had it coming:

Defense attorneys Amber Ladner and Cynthia Umstead contended the defendant, 19 at the time, reacted in the heat of passion when the 37-year-old victim tried to homosexually assault him...

(The defendant) Carlisle testified he got into Speigner's car because the man said he wanted to buy marijuana. In her closing argument, Ladner compared Speigner's actions to that of a molester using a puppy to lure a young child.

"They use what they can to get them into the car," she said.

Because a gay man trying to pick up another adult male is the equivalent of a luring a child with a puppy.

Plus, I love her casual employment of "they". It's not like Alabamans have any practice with that sort of language.

It was left to the poor prosecutor, probably a good Republican, to carry out the distastful duty of actually trying to humanize the dead fucking queer:

"He was not road kill," (Prosecutor) Roberts told jurors. "Despite what he did in his private life, Sammie Speigner's life had value. He was shot, robbed and dumped into the street bleeding to death like an animal."

I added the bold because that phrase, right there, shows how deep into the subconscious the hatred of homosexuals is. That's the current state of tolerance for gays in much of America: "OK, they're evil and we hate them, but I guess they probably shouldn't be killed."

Thus it's necessary for a representative of the State of Alabama to actally remind the good folks that all people, indeed, have value (even faggots). I guess it's progress, right? Besides, it's not like Jesus taught us to love one another or anything.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It Hides Her Maidenhood Well

Holy Crap, it's Wholesomewear! What every hip young fundamentalist wants to wear on her properly chaproned beach activity:

Tips to Sully.

The Buttars Givith

Not to sound all one note here, but the more I read about Senator Chris Buttars, the more I love this irascable scamp. Check out this quote:

"If you read the homosexual rule book, you'll find their greatest target is kids...".

Well, let me check. Where'd I put that damned rule book? The thing is thicker then the yellow pages. Oh, here it is. Yup. Chapter Twenty-three.

But lest you think Buttars is a single-issue kind of guy, he's shown his wingnut flexibility by introducing a bill before the Utah Legislature to ban the teaching of evolution. Straight-up, pre-Scopes Trial ban it. Although Buttars does play a little coy on this one:

"It doesn't hinder them about talking about evolution at all," Buttars said. "They can talk about evolution from the Big Bang or life crawled out of the slime somewhere. But what they can't do is . . . tell students, 'This is how it happened, how you became man, you evolved from an ape."

Because, ya know, telling students how things happened isn't really what we pay teachers to do. We don't want them getting all facty on us or anything. The Buttars himself even wrote his own anti-facty op-ed piece in USA Today:

The trouble with the "missing link" is that it is still missing! In fact, the whole fossil chain that could link apes to man is also missing! The theory of evolution, which states that man evolved from some other species, has more holes in it than a crocheted bathtub.

Senator, I'm pleased to announce that we have found the missing link.

Everyone Knows, It's Buttars!

The Company You Keep

A gay rights groups applies to join a think tank that advises the U.N. Their application is nixed on the no vote of five countries:

The United States

Because we really want to be considered in the same light as countries headed by rabid anti-Semitic mullahs and a paranoid gay-baiting tyrants.

On second thought...

Thanks to Andy for the tip.

Buttars Strikes Again!

My new favorite fun and wacky legislator, Utah State Senator Chris Buttars, is at it again:

Sen. Chris Buttars recently stood before the Eagle Forum convention and proclaimed homosexuals more likely to have syphilis, rectal disorders, urinary scarring, acute bronchitis and genital herpes. And where did he find this information? From former 2nd Congressional District candidate Gary Stephens, who said his contact with citizens in 16 Utah counties concerned with "gay issues" has made him "better informed than most about the issue."

Hmmm, "contact" with "citizens concerned about gay issues". In sixteen counties, nonetheless. It sounds like someone's been busy on the truck stop circuit!

Not that Senator Buttars swings that way. No, he clearly delights, I mean CLEARLY DELIGHTS!!!! in the presence of comely and virtuous young ladies.

Everyone Knows, It's Buttars!

The Funhouse Mirror

This is just terrifying. Towleroad pointed to this firewalled interview at Salon with Mike Jeffries, the 61 year old owner of Abercrombie and Fitch, who talks like a teenager, dresses like a teenager, and, well, prepare your eyeballs:

"His biggest obsession, though, is realizing his singular vision of idealized all-American youth. He wants desperately to look like his target customer (the casually flawless college kid), and in that pursuit he has aggressively transformed himself from a classically handsome man into a cartoonish physical specimen: dyed hair, perfectly white teeth, golden tan, bulging biceps, wrinkle-free face, and big, Angelina Jolie lips. But while he can't turn back the clock, he can -- and has -- done the next best thing, creating a parallel universe of beauty and exclusivity where his attractions and obsessions have made him millions, shaped modern culture's concepts of gender, masculinity and physical beauty, and made over himself and the world in his image, leaving them both just a little more bizarre than he found them."

God this is depressing. First, how does a man with such, well, obvious emotional issues end up in charge of a multi-million dollar clothing company? Second, why did no one ever just slap him and tell him to grow old gracefully? Sure, it sucks being the gay kid who is in love with all the pretty straight boys you'll never have, but you get over it. I'm not even against making your personal sexual obsessions into a successful business model (I work at American Apparel after all) but to refuse to see that you've become a sad parody of what you want, a pale golem of unfulfilled desire, well, we should all be a bit more self-aware then that. By becoming this Frankenstein chickenhawk, Mike Jeffries reminds us that we each craft our own version of Hell. I hope he someday wakes up from his.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Spinning Moral Compass

"I love him more for fighting this," she said, tears welling up in her eyes. "He's always said that you need to do the right thing, and sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing to do."

This lovely quote is from Barbara Welshofer, whose husband, Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, was just given a slight reprimand and a sixty day suspension for murdering a prisoner in his care in Iraq. He stuffed the man, a general in the Iraqi Army, head-first into a sleeping bag, sat on his chest, and pressed his hands down over the man's mouth.

Sometimes, the right thing is the hardest thing to do.

The Jacktracker

Gridskipper provides us with this excellent map hack of Special Agent Jack Bauer's fictional movements around the city of Los Angeles on the series 24, Fox's beloved terrorist soap opera.

I'm totally hooked into the series, but like many Angelenos, my reality is frequently un-suspended by the speed at which Jack manages to travel around our traffic-choked burg on the supposedly "real time" show. Last week, I was scoffing at his 17 minute trip from Westwood to the Ontario Airport, which Gridskipper, in it's "Geographic Reality Report", is calculating would require an average speed on the So-Cal freeways of 195 MPH. Not bad for an old Econoline van.

If you are as much of a geography freak as I am, you might enjoy this almost as much as the show.

Everyone Knows, It's Buttars!

So I was reading this article about right-wing Utah State Senator Chris Buttars, the man who sponsors most of Utah's fringe legislation, like the ban on gay marriage, attempts to ban gay-straight alliances, attempts to squash the teaching of evolution, etc. Here's one delightful quote for all you Theo-cons out there:

"A great deal of my political stands come from my faith," said Buttars, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "I represent the values that have always been America's morality."

Never mind that the values of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints include polygamy and polytheism, and that Mormons have a long history of persecution caused by the fact that, well, their values haven't always been the same as "America's morality". What really caught me about this article was the photos of a beaming, round-faced Senator Buttars:

Where have I seen this mug before? Oh yeah:

Everyone Knows, It's Butters!

Like the good Senator, Butters from South Park also considers himself a "Moral Crusader". I wonder if the Professor Chaos outfit comes in a 52 long:


This is almost adorable. I wonder if they put plastic covers on the wall sockets as well?

Props to Sadly No!

Good Timing

And of course on the day that I officially launch Queer or British?(tm) a new poll finds out that an even larger percentage of Brits then previously thought are 'mos. Still, I think that 85% of y'all are lying.

Props to Andy.

Speaking Of Queer Or British

I offer as my first proof this photo of two British men, both supposedly straight:

That's Member of Parliament George Galloway and and former Dead Or Alive frontman Pete Burns. You spin me right round, indeed.

Props to Sullivan.

Queer Or British?

David Morley was a popular bartender who survived a nail bomb going off at the Admiral Duncan, the Soho gay bar where he worked that was bombed by a right-wing terrorist in 1999. So it was some kind of sick irony when, having already cheated death once in his short life, he was beaten to death in a brutal random attack last year. Well, finally a little justice. But just a little.

In far less grave homo-related news from the UK, Mark Oaten, one of the challengers to replace the gin-besotted Charles Kennedy at the head of the Liberal Democrats, has pulled out of the race after revelations concerning his relationship with a 23 year old rent boy. My favorite aspect of the case was that he was only paying 80 quid a pop. They could use that kind of frugality over at the Treasury, no doubt.

Oh, and could there be two paragraphs in the English language that say "Queer or British?" more then these:

One young male prostitute interviewed by the paper described him as a 'regular punter for six months' who had enjoyed being humiliated, adding: 'He's a very troubled man living a very dangerous double life.'

Last night friends said they were stunned at the revelations, including claims of three-in-a-bed sex and asking the prostitute to dress up in soccer kit.

Soccer kit. Heh.

Buy the way, I've noticed that I've unconsciously developed a whole regular theme on this blog of writing about the gay doings of our cousins on their little island. I have long held a secret theory that, in fact, all British men are gay, and that this explains colonialism (Lawrence of Arabia, anyone?). I'm going to provide proof for my theory with regular "Queer or British?" postings that explore the fey goings-on of that country where a fag is something you put in your mouth and suck. I'll use as my inspiration the words of former French Prime Minister Edith Cresson, who asserted that homosexuality didn't exist in France, but by comparison:

In Anglo-Saxon countries men prefer the company of men. In England 25% of men are homosexual.

She's a bit low in that assessment, methinks.

That Sinking Feeling

Bush's approval rating it back down to 36%. Yay!

Talk about your bitter enders.

Mind you Nixon got all the way down to 25% before he resigned, but a girl can dream.

Getting Very Sleepy

I've been a bit slow with the blogging today. I'm having a hard time staying awake. I preparation for my upcoming surgery, I've had to give up drinking my daily average of 4-5 liters of Diet Coke. Can you imagine the amount of caffeine withdrawal my body is currently suffering? I feel like I just woke up, but I feel that way all the time. I think on my lunch break, I'll walk over to that alley where the celebrities are always getting busted and score some meth. You know, for medical purposes.

I promise I'll get around to finishing that peice about the A.L.F. I've been thinking about all weekend. I'm just going to close my eyes for a minute....

Friday, January 20, 2006

This Isn't Offensive Or Anything

If you're gay, and you aren't some city-dwelling, flower-arranging faggot, you make a national icon cry.

What the fuck is happening to the Washington Post?

John Aravosis is correct to wonder.

And I'd be willing to guess that this particular cartoonist doesn't get the Richard Pryor Exemption either.

And They Thought American Tourists Were Hefty

That's a whale in the foreground, a Northern Bottlenose. That's the UK Parliament in the background. All of London is fascinated with the first whale ever recorded on the Thames. It sounds like a children's story. I hope he manages to find his way out.

You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Mormon

Every time I hear someone use the term "natural", I think if the Wigstock documentary and the drag queen Tabboo:

She sings this song where she brays the refrain "It's Natural!" over and over in an obnoxious Bronx accent.

I don't think the City Council of Kanab, Utah exactly had this in mind when the passed a recent resolution supporting the "natural family". They probably meant something more, well,

Here's what the Salt Lake Tribune had to say:

After unanimously endorsing a conservative think tank's resolution supporting the "natural family," Kanab's City Council is coming under fire - naturally.
Gay-rights advocates and even some residents are scolding city leaders for embracing a nonbinding proposal that:
* Labels marriage between a man and a woman as "ordained of God."
* Sees homes as "open to a full quiver of children."
* Envisions young women "growing into wives, homemakers and mothers and . . . young men growing into husbands, home builders and fathers."

Open to a full quiver of children. Insert Neverland Ranch joke here.

Of course, a story like this is never complete without the requisite ironic twist. The headline in the same newspaper today?

AG is pressed on polygamy

It seems that there is an entire population of "lost boys" in Utah, young men who are kicked out of polygamist communties on some minor pretext so as to eliminate the competition for pretty young brides. They often end up homeless, abandoned, cut off from the only families they know.

Polygamy is widely practiced in the Kanab area, so maybe the Kanab City Coucil had something more like this in mind when they decided to support the "natural family":

Yeah, that looks like a full quiver all right.

I'll say it again: Because they once widely practiced polygamy, Mormons were chased out of three states, persecuted, prosecuted, and invaded by the U.S. Army; they routinely saw their leaders jailed, and on one occasion, murdered by a mob. Mormons were, after all, the original "corrupters of marriage" in America, greeted with as much hysteria then as gay marriage is now. Because religious conservatives at the time managed to get reactionary legislators to outlaw polygamist marriage, it continues only as a twisted underground faith, hidden from view and prone to abuse. You would think that such a horrid history might breed a lesson of tolerance into the bone, tolerance earned at the price of suffering. But no.

Historical obliviousness is a bitch.

Occasional Basset-Beagle blogging

Lucretius, Eating some delicious grass.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Good Example Of People Who Don't Have the Richard Pryor Exemption

Chris Matthews and Don Imus:

MATTHEWS (1/18/06): Have you gone to see it yet? I’ve seen everything else but that. I just—

IMUS: No, I haven’t seen it. Why would I want to see that?

MATTHEWS: I don’t know. No opinion on that. I haven’t seen it either, so—

IMUS: So they were—it was out when I was in New Mexico and—it doesn’t resonate with real cowboys who I know.


IMUS: But then, maybe there’s stuff going on on the ranch that I don’t know about. Not on my ranch, but you know—

MATTHEWS: Well, the wonderful Michael Savage, who’s on 570 in DC, who shares a station with you at least, he calls it [laughter]—what’s he call it?—he calls it Bare-back Mount-ing. That’s his name for the movie.

IMUS: Of course, Bernard calls it Fudgepack Mountain...

For those of you who don't know, the Richard Pryor Exemption is what I call the extra latitude people get, to joke about groups to which they actually belong. Thus, I could make this joke, or any joke about being queer, or white trash, or a Mormon, and Chris Matthews and Don Imus, well, they're just a couple of puckered old drunken assholes.

Inventing Himself

Robert George, after listening to Al Gore's barnstorming speech on MLK day, thinks he might have a chance to knock Hillary out of the race for the nomination in 2008, if he wants it.

I totally agree.

Al Gore needed to lose in 2000. It was the best thing that ever happened to him. This was a guy who had been groomed for the presidency since he was a little boy, sitting in Richard Nixon's lap while he presided over the Senate in which Al's father served. Going into the 2000 election, he carried the enormous weight of all those expectations, and it showed. The thing about Al Gore is that he is both smarter and more liberal then he let on during the campaign; advised to reign it in during the campaign, he came across as awkward, condescending, and incredibly fake.

And he still won the popular vote.

Once he had lost, Al Gore started to change. He was able to be himself. He grew a beard, taught college, and began giving a series of speeches; sharp, biting addresses that brought a laser beam of criticism onto the administration. He was funnier, he was a better speaker, and he wasn't afraid to let his real opinions out, be it the endorsement of Howard Dean in 2004 or opposition to the Iraq war.

The thing about Al Gore's campaign in 2000 was that his advisors were essentially right. The country wasn't ready for Gore the liberal flamethrower. After eight years of Clintonian moderation and growth, folks didn't see a need for any sort of radical change. They had forgotten how bad it can get.

Well, they've been reminded. After eight years of George Bush, the Democratic base is going to want a true believer, and the nation is going to be more open to the idea. The party went the cautious route in 2004, and went nowhere. But Gore has an added advantage in that he can run as the fire-breathing anti-Hillary in the primary, but when the big show rolls around, he can bring out that impeccable resume and sell his credentials and experience.

If Al Gore is indeed a changed man, he has a real chance in 2008. Like Nixon after his losses in '60 and '62, defeat has humanized Al Gore, taken off the know-it-all edge and given him an air of a wiser, more humble man, someone truer to himself. Plus, there is a feeling amongst at least a small part of the electorate that Al Gore was robbed the first time around, and that he handled it with grace. If he wants another bite at the apple, and no, he hasn't indicated that he does, I think that Al Gore could be a formidable candidate.

The only advice I'd offer is that he keep his more relaxed manner, that he continue to speak his mind about his actual positions, that he keep his sense of humor, and that he grow back the beard. It's hot.

Gomorrah Always Gets Short Shrift

So I was on this great homo-hatin' site, Aboms.com, which features postings like this:

Sony Music has launched the first major music label dedicated to nurturing sodomites. The label, Music with a Twist, is a joint venture with Wilderness Media & Entertainment, the company led by Matt Farber, who has founded MTV's new sodomite channel LOGO. Music With a Twist's roster will feature sodomites who have mass appeal and hit potential across all musical genres.

Hmmm, Sodomites with mass appeal? What the hell do you think Hollywood was invented for!

The funny thing is that I knew I'd seen this language before. Indeed, this is the ABC news story about the launching of Music With a Twist:

Sony Music has launched the first major music label dedicated to nurturing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender artists. The label, Music with a Twist, is a joint venture with Wilderness Media & Entertainment, the company led by Matt Farber, who has founded MTV's new gay and lesbian channel LOGO... Music With a Twist's roster will feature gay artists who have mass appeal and hit potential across all musical genres.

Yup, they just ripped off the story and, for our convenience, changed every instance of "Gay" to "Sodomite".

That's some hard blogging. I wonder if you can pull that same shit with "Republican" and "Doofus"? And how come it's always "Somodite" and never "Gomorrahite"? If they wanted to be a little more "with it" and "hip to the kids" (and what Old Testment fundamentalist doesn't) they could just drop the whole obscure Abyssinian placenames thing and use the easy-to-pronounce "San Franciscan".

But the best part, in what is a pretty damned obvious case of unintended irony, is that most of the "abominations" on the site are, well, about the fucked-up sex lives of Christians:

Archdiocese Fights to Keep Statute of Limitations On Its Sodomite Priest Cases
Priest Abuse Victims Lose In Court
Gay Priest Gets 111 Years For Molestating Boys
Predator Priest Joseph Byrns Used God As Lure
Pentecostal Pastor Steven Martinez Pleads No Contest To Sexual Battery
Court In London Cuts Sodomite Priest's Jail Term
Virginia Church Leaves The Sodomite-United Church Of Christ
More Charges Expected In Baptist Pastor Molest Case

I think I see a trend here. I don't know, but I just wouldn't feel very comfortable knowing that "one of them" was teaching my kid. Flaunting their bibles and crucifixes everywhere! It's just. Not. Natural...

Talk about your "laying on of hands"!

Digital Dragnet

The Bush Administration has subpeonaed Google in an attempt to revive an anti-pornography law already struck down by the courts. Amongst the items they are asking for:

"A request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period"

So, they are effectively casting a huge random net.

They have decided to put everyone who has ever posted a picture on the internet that could be deemed as "pornographic" by the Justice Department in enormous legal jepardy.

To their credit, Google is fighting the subpeona, but given the way the company has bent to government will in China, how long to you think they will hold out?

Way back in 1984, I remember a number of commentators remarking how the future imagined in Orwell's book had not come true.

Yeah, but I guess that was because they hadn't yet developed the software.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why I love England, Reason 48,217

British sailors get pissed and leave classified documents in a pub in Portsmouth. Upstanding citizen notices the papers and collects them up. Here's what he has to say:

"It didn't click at first. But when it did and I realised sensitive information had just been left lying around for anyone to pick up I thought 'bloody hell'.

"Whoever is responsible for losing it needs to be severely spoken to."

I think that, upon occasion, we all need to be severely spoken to.

Another Argument Against Heroin Use

Yet another faded star comes down to my neighborhood and flames out. Ladies and gentlemen, Leif Garrett:

And to think that my big sister used to have a crush on this man.

Speaking of the ravages of heroin, a very nice article in today's NYTimes on the drug-saturated town of Espanola, New Mexico, and Monica Lovato, the young female boxer who has risen from its desolation. Her grandmother gets the best quote, which I think applies to what is happening in a lot of drug-troubled rural towns across America:

"I think it's getting worse. I don't call this poverty. I don't know what it is. To tell you the truth, I don't really want to know."

Sometimes, when I feel bad about my struggle to control my weight, I'm glad to be reminded of the worst addictions then food there are out there.

BTW, when I lived in New Mexico, I traveled frequently through Espanola, where I saw the greatest bar sign ever. This photographer apparently agreed:

K-Fed Foreva!

I'm just straight-out stealing this from LAist. The new Kevin Federline record is finally out:

Conspicuous Consumption

I've thought long and hard before posting about this. It's intensely personal, but I decided from the beginning with this blog that I would pull no punches. So this posting has nothing to do with snarky political commentary or rants about what's wrong with the world. This posting is a confession.

I have a problem with food.

It started, appropriately enough, with fruit salad. You know, the kind you buy in a can, that comes drenched in a sugary viscous liquid, individual chunks of pear and peach and flattened-out grapes and cherries floating like little embryos in their sack. When I was eight, I would walk home from school by myself, reading my book as I walked, each step etched in memory. When I got home, I would pull a dented can of fruit salad from the top cupboard and pour it into a bowl, eating it while laying with my book on the living room carpet. My dad had bought a couple hundred cans of fruit salad at a garage sale, and through my fourth grade year, I whittled down the pile, one can at a time. It's no coincidence that it was in fourth grade that I first started thinking of how different I was from the other boys I knew.

The problem continued into adolescence. I spent most of the time from thirteen to sixteen in a severe depression, and food was chemical relief, a way to feel better that didn't make me feel guilty or bad or involve a prescription. But it did make me fat. As I fell in adolescent puppy love with a string of mostly slim young men, I continued to bulk up. I was never going to be thin; I'm a big boy, 6'2, with a large chest, a thick neck, and a sturdy white-boy build. It was easy for me to put on weight. It was also a great way to isolate myself, to cocoon off from my sexuality. People didn't ask me about girls because they assumed I had a hard time finding one who could see past my growing gut.

When I was a Mormon missionary in the French West Indies, I lost a lot of weight by necessity. We were poor, we didn't have a lot of food, and we did a lot of walking under the tropical sun. In Martinique, we lived on the fourth floor of an apartment building perched above Fort-De-France, up a wicked flight of stairs from the city below. You don't know what torture is until you've climbed a steep, steamy hillside in the tropics while wearing a tie. But when I came back and went to St. John's College, I experienced the perfect storm of weight gain; depressed by being in the closet, unsure what to do about my rapidly deteriorating faith, insecure about being a white-trash boy at one of the most intellectual colleges in America, I developed insomnia and coped with food. Many nights right before dawn I would trudge through the icy streets of Annapolis to Chick and Ruth's all-night diner, for a burger and a slice of pie. When the sun rose, I'd stand with the early risers, the watermen and D.C. commuters, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as was mandatory for all Chick and Ruth's customers at dawn.

By the time I came out of the closet, I was the heaviest I'd ever been. So I started running, late at night to avoid being seen. At first, I could make it half way around the block. But eventually I built it up to as much as four miles a go. Then I joined the L.A. Rebellion rugby team, and the pounds really started coming off. Hot Sunday morning practices in a shabby L.A. park will do that to you. I lost over 125 pounds.

I was in the best shape of my life.

But old habits die hard. Much of my motivation to lose weight when I came out was vanity; I wanted to look my best, to be able to go out to a bar and be noticed. But this is a superficial reason, and as I started to build a complex life as a gay man, I realized that I wasn't the kind of guy who is willing to spend all my time in the gym, just to hook up with someone slightly better looking. Besides, sex is about confidence. Gym bunnies now appear to me as supremely insecure beings. Hey, we all like muscles, but if you are 35 and your life consists of work and the gym and the bar on Saturday night, good luck having something in your life that matters.

Besides, it was so much work, and food still had its hold on me.

So I started gaining weight again, my good eating habits giving way first to convenience, then to circumstance. I dated a guy who actually liked me being fat (there's a lot of people who do). I was too busy to eat right. I started a new job nowhere near the gym. I was traveling a lot, working on my film, and I just broke my routine. Then last Spring I injured my knee playing rugby, and I could no longer do my favorite exercise, running. Besides, I was getting too heavy again to exercise like I once had.

Of course, this works as a spiral. Having lost weight and then gained it back is far more depressing then having never lost it at all. I slid right back to my worst overeating, and gained back all the weight I'd lost. It started to effect me in telling ways. Stairs hurt. I didn't want to walk the Basset-Beagle. I started driving a big truck, because my little city car was too hard to get down into. I broke up with my boyfriend, and started eating more. How could I have come so far, and still be stuck in the patterns I'd developed as a pudgy eight-year-old? Hadn't I figured out enough about myself that I no longer needed to overeat?

The answer is complex. My relationship with food is emotional, but it's also driven by my biology. Having over-eaten my entire life, my body has adjusted to this level of consumption. I've been able to change that in the short term, but I need a long term fix. So, on February 2nd, I'm going into Cedars-Sinai Hospital for a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.

I'm afraid, I'm anxious, I'm pissed off at myself for not being able to beat this thing through will power alone.

But most of all, I'm thrilled at the thought that I may finally break the hold, the addiction that food has on me. I don't even like to eat anymore; it's not about pleasure, it's about feeding this physical hole in me, a hole that I'm having sewn up.

I know this is going to be a very difficult next few months. My brother had this procedure, so I know how drastically it will alter my life. No more winding down in the pub with a Cornish pasty and a few pints of beer. But I need to make a change. My father is half Muskogee, and few of his Indian relatives over fifty are free of diabetes. My mother's family has a long history of heart disease and stroke. If I don't find a solution to this problem, I'm not going to have much longer to worry about it.

I'm thirty-five years old. I'm in generally good shape. I have led a pretty active life, and I want to be able to continue to do so. But I'm too fat to play rugby anymore, too fat to jog, to fat to enjoy my body. In the next year, that's going to change radically.

We're a nation addicted to bad food, exploding in size, growing heavy with obesity. Consumption is a consumer sport for us these days. I've got this recent history written across my body, but I've had enough. I'm pussying out. In our national eating contest, I'm a quitter. I'll still be jolly if you like, but I'm no longer going to be fat.

I hope the surgeon has a steady hand.