Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Pussy Blog: The Double Espresso Edition

It has been an educational and informative week, that's for sure.

It all started with a couple of posts elsewhere. Check them out, then come back here and we'll continue: 1 and 2



So from what I understand, there is from time to time a necessity to express the contents of the anal glands manually, and it can be a DIY procedure rather than a series of expensive trips to the vet, as long as you know what you are doing.

First, it helps to understand where these anal sacs are located. So I have taken it upon myself to locate a handy illustration, as well as some other helpful Q&A stuff. And if you want additional answers, you can find plenty of helpful message boards out there. For best results, make sure you are posting your question on the correct board, otherwise confusion might ensue. If you find this to be unpleasant, realize you are not alone.



OK, looks simple enough. I believe I can find those.

It is probably a good idea to pop on a latex glove, you know.. just in case. I mean, try it bare-handed if you want to, but since this is my first demonstration and I am not familiar with the outcome, I'm going to play it safe.



Now, the next step is to hoist up the feline which is in need of having those anal glands expressed. Oh yes, I believe those swollen anal glands are plainly visible. This should be a piece of cake.



Oops, what I thought were anal sacs might have actually been his balls, or what's left of them. Sorry, Tot; my mistake.



I have a feeling there's going to be hell to pay for this little exercise.






At this point, I'd suggest you stop, have a Girl Scout cookie, and some chocolate, and try again. (It may taste fishy; that's perfectly normal.)




Or maybe seek the instruction of a qualified and trained vet, or anal sac technician before attempting this on your own.

(I ate that cookie, by the way.)




And you dog owners, you are not exempt from this phenomenon either, so stop laughing.

Lesson over. Happy Friday.

$136.29 For Two Movies

Not very economical but enjoyable nonetheless. On Wednesday and Thursday night we watched two films which have been sitting in our living room since July 21, 2007 from netflix.

Last night's selection was C.R.A.Z.Y. -- a gay coming-of-age story with a focus on the boy's relationship with his father. Great acting and a good film. I've had the film so long I totally forget it was a Canadian film, not that it would matter, except it was French with English subtitles which we have to read. Again, no big deal unless you're a bit cross-eyed from tequila consumption. We were, but we got through it.

The film on Thursday night was better though: Brick, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lukas Hass, started off with a bit of violence -- nothing extreme, just a good ass-kicking which was repeated again and again throughout the film. I wasn't sure I was in the right frame of mind for that but the film was amazing. Good writing, good directing, good cinematography, GREAT acting.
This unconventional film noir -- set in the halls of a modern-day high school -- marks a promising debut for writer-director Rian Johnson. Teenage loner Brendan Fry is forced to navigate his school's social network when a secret crush turns up dead and the murderer is anyone's guess. Through intense interactions with thespians, band geeks and druggies (including a grown-up Lucas Haas), Brendan works to crack the cliques -- and the case.

I could easily sit through this one a 2nd time, but not right away. Besides, I'm ready to get these two flicks sent back so we can get two more -- and hopefully not sit on those for 7 months.

Oh, and the 3rd film we have? Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education." That was has been here since March 25. I'll get it watched and sent back before the 1st annivarsary. Promise.

Saving Our Seed

I can scarcely believe the world has come to this. But how refreshing to see an issue of critical importance being addressed proactively.
With plant species disappearing at an alarming rate, scientists and governments are creating a global network of plant banks to store seeds and sprouts, precious genetic resources that may be needed for man to adapt the world’s food supply to climate change.

The Global Seed Vault, on a Norwegian island about 600 miles from the North Pole, received its first million seeds this week.
As of Thursday, thousands of neatly stacked and labeled gray boxes of seeds — peas from Nigeria, corn from Mexico — reside in this glazed cavelike structure, forming a sort of backup hard drive, in case natural disasters or human errors erase the seeds from the outside world.

I am thrilled to see the United States is helping fund this project, even if we are only funding about half as much as Australia -- a country with a population less than 7% of ours.
The vault was built by Norway, and its operations are financed by government and private donations, including $20 million from Britain, $12 million from Australia, $11 million from Germany and $6.5 million from the United States.

US Leads The World.....

(don't get excited)...in the number of Americans incarcerated: 1 in 100 adults are behind bars.
Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

One in nine black men between 20 and 34. It boggles my mind. The next president of the United States needs to ask some questions, and it would be nice if this was a campaign issue right up there with universal health care, and here's why:
In the past 20 years, according the Federal Bureau of Investigation, violent crime rates fell by 25 percent, to 464 for every 100,000 people in 2007 from 612.5 in 1987.

So why are incarceration rates increasing when violent crime in decreasing? I want answers. And so should the states which are increasingly facing a financial burden due to this escalation in prisons.
Now, with fewer resources available, the report said, “prison costs are blowing a hole in state budgets.” On average, states spend almost 7 percent on their budgets on corrections, trailing only healthcare, education and transportation.

In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bonds and the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

The biggest problem is most likely the lengthy incarceration rates related to drugs.
The number of prisoners in California dropped by 4,000 last year, making Texas’s prison system the nation’s largest, at about 172,000. But the Texas legislature last year approved broad changes to the corrections system there, including expansions of drug treatment programs and drug courts and revisions to parole practices.

“Our violent offenders, we lock them up for a very long time — rapists, murderers, child molestors,” said John Whitmire, a Democratic state senator from Houston and the chairman of the state senate’s criminal justice committee. “The problem was that we weren’t smart about nonviolent offenders. The legislature finally caught up with the public.”

He gave an example.

“We have 5,500 D.W.I offenders in prison,” he said, including people caught driving under the influence who had not been in an accident. “They’re in the general population. As serious as drinking and driving is, we should segregate them and give them treatment.”

Aside from referencing drugs in general, the article did not mention the number of those in prison for marijuana-related convictions. And you can bet many of those were not even arrested for driving while high. Possession alone can get you a long vacation in the Big House courtesy of (and at great expense to) the American taxpayer. So the next time you complain about roads and highways in need of repair, or pick any other need for which there is inadequate funding -- there are lots to choose from -- remind yourself of this:
It cost an average of $23,876 dollars to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data were available.

It's time we got our priorities straight regarding who deserves to be in prison.

UPDATE: txrad found this interesting link to Grits for Breakfast (henceforth added to my blogroll) which sheds some light on the issue locally here in Texas.
Harris County sends black folks to prison on drug charges at 19 times the rate it sends white people, while in Dallas the ratio is just 9-1.

Similarly, Travis County (Austin) has an amazing 31-1 ratio. (That is NOT a typo!) While in my experience there's no shortage of white drug offenders in Austin, clearly nearly all the enforcement resources go toward policing and prosecuting drug crimes in the black community, which makes up about 11% of the overall county population.

Whatever the reason, it's not simply because black folks do drugs more often. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2005 illegal drug use rates were 8.1 percent for whites, 7.2 percent for Hispanics, and 8.7 percent for blacks.

We have a problem. I can now safely add "racism" to the tags below.

Leap Year

Yeaaa! A free extra day of political misery and mayhem.

Seriously, aren't we really just forestalling the inevitable?

What are you doing with your extra day?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Confronting Our Phobias Within Our Community

In the past several posts I have blogged about the wind speed, a couple of notable obits, a humorous look at posters/advertising depicting women as dirty, a video composite of my political anger because I could not get it together to put my own feelings into words, and my comical definition of my affliction with "blogalysis."

Maybe I needed someone else to inspire me to write something, even if it is a long winded self-analysis piece.

Sarah in Chicago posted at Shakesville today. It's an extremely interesting self-examination of her own biphobia, titled: There's Something in Me I Don't Like, So I'm Getting Rid of It; I Just Need to Work Out How.

I recommend you read her post, and if you are so inclined, the comment thread. It's interesting as well. You won't get this in mainstream media.

Here is my comment, which I am somewhat reluctant to post again here out of concern that something might not come across exactly as I want it to or that I may not have expressed my feelings as accurately as I could have done. Her piece provoked me to start writing, and pour some things out. And so I did, without planning and without proofreading a dozen times and editing for clarity. Here it is:

Sarah,
First, thank you so very much for writing this. It is one of the more deeply complex and thought-provoking posts I've seen anywhere -- ever.

I think there are a lot of phobias within the LGBTQ community and this is just one of them.

As a gay man who is in year #18 partnered with my soul mate, I will confess I have probably expanded my understanding more in the two years I've been blogging than I have in the past 25 years in which I've been out and comfortable.

Bisexuality was one of the first issues I confronted. I’ve often felt it was merely used as a stepping stone in the process of coming out -- and often a lie, as it was in my case. I was never bisexual and because I knew it, I assumed every other person claiming to be bisexual was just in denial.

That was the first misconception I managed to blow away. And through the years I have learned that there is every conceivable mix of people out there. We do not fit neatly into boxes or categories. (And it would be wonderful if the rest of the world could just come to grips with that fact.)

A lot of the phobias may be rooted in our own selfishness about our desires, and about being accepted by the one we love. It is one thing if I were to be ditched and my partner went to another man. It's quite another if he left me for a woman because I'd feel violated on two fronts. I'd think, "oh, not only did you dump me, but you weren't even gay."

And that's true. He would be bisexual, not gay. I'm really glad he and I had a discussion early on about our identity and got our orientation out in the open. Because honestly, is that any different from a partner in a heterosexual relationship leaving for a same-sex partner? And we have quite a lot of that because of self-suppression and denial.

Could I ever fall in love with a bisexual? Before I read this post, I might have said no. After thinking this through, along with so many other things, the answer is of course.

Being in love is not solely about sex. If it is, that's not love; it's lust. Two people falling in love and remaining in love is a very special thing which transcends all else. We probably won't agree on other people we personally think are hot or attractive, we aren't necessarily going to like all the same foods, or have identical interests in movies, and we may not agree on the ideal thread-count in our cotton sheets. My partner and I chose each other -- that's what matters, not what our other inclinations might have been. And I’m glad we had honest discussions about our relationship and our identies.

I have also spent a lot of time putting this in the perspective of gender identity which is a huge bias we need to overcome, both in our community and society.

There was a time when I felt completely isolated from the trans community. At least with bisexuals we like the same thing part of the time.

Well, lo and behold, after I met a few transgender people via blogging and spent a lot of time getting to know one in particular, and even doing a blog post series about gender identity, I began to think about it in different perspectives.

I've often said that I don't consider myself or anyone else really 100% male or female. It makes it far easier for me to get over my prejudices and phobias if I put it in shades of gray rather than black & white.

Technically, I might be classified as 100% male since I was born with all the male plumbing and was dressed in blue as a baby, and all that, but I recognize that I have a few personality and behavioral traits that aren't exactly what Billy Joe in Alabama would call 100% male. But I'm digressing.

When I've asked myself, could I fall in love with a transgender person, there's a bit longer delay in answering my question than when substituting the word bisexual.

But the answer has to be yes. Physical attraction is not limited to what's downstairs any more than falling in love is limited to how great the sex is, or how lovely their eyes are.

What works for me in getting over the phobias is, first, getting familiar and comfortable with all those in the community are not like me. Understanding from their perspective, what makes them who they are. Then, I have to put aside my rather obsessive infatuation with men and dicks, and think about what it means to bond with someone in a way that can only be described as "in-love."

And while this is not meant to be comical, the L Word has helped me as well. Aside from the exaggerations which make for good drama, it's helpful for me to at least consider the dialogue which I might otherwise not be exposed to while dining out at Taco Cabana.

I've joked about how I think the Max character is hot. But underneath my humor, I know it's true. I'm completely gay by my own definition, and yet I have managed to admit to myself that I could indeed fall in love outside my own sphere -- even to a person who is FTM. I identify as male, and so does he. We work around the other things as any couple would.

Would I fall in love with a MTF if she was straight? Would that also make me straight? I think, but not certain, the answer to that question would be no, and for two reasons.

As a gay man I'm thinking my attraction both emotionally and physically would possibly be predicated on my attraction to her birth sex, and using that to justify the sexual aspect of my attraction. And I’d feel like I was living a lie, as a gay man in a relationship with a woman, even one who was born with the boy parts.

But this is complicated and at least I can admit I spend a lot of time analyzing my feelings on the subject.

Sarah, I don’t know if I contributed anything at all to what you were addressing, or if this entire comment is one long digression. As I said, what you wrote is highly thought-provoking, and that’s just what I did. Thought, and wrote. A lot.

A Mighty Wind

It seems that every other day the wind here is howling. And it's much worse if I leave our house which is nestled in a small valley and get out in an open area. Austin seems excessively windy to me so I decided to do a bit of research and see how we rank.

Much to my surprise, Austin isn't even listed in the top 101 windiest cities with a population of 50,000 or more. Click the map to see the full list.

Windy Cities

This website is amazing and if you are a trivia fanatic for information similar to this, you have to check out the Top 101 Lists.

There's even a list of 101 cities with the most people taking a ferryboat to work.

Buddy Miles is Dead at 60

The music world has lost another great one.

Buddy Miles, the drummer in Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys and a hitmaker under his own name with the song “Them Changes,” died on at his home in Austin, Tex. He was 60.

Mr. Miles suffered from congestive heat failure, his publicist, Duane Lee, said, according to Reuters.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why A Woman President Is A Bad Idea

Duh! They spread diseases!

Unlike men, women apparently have a long history of infidelity. They are cunning, deceitful, and simply cannot be trusted. And males need to be advised: they will cause your dick to rot off if you are not careful. Protect yourselves. They like to "pal around" you know.





"Good Time" Girls! Beware!

I Am Suffering From Blogalysis

blogalysis
1. Loss or impairment of voluntary blogging or sensation in a blog, occasionally as a result of neurologic injury or diss-ease, but more commonly seen as extreme political disgust resulting in self-disembowelment.
2. Inability to blog or function; total stoppage or severe impairment of blogging activity.

Recovery times vary depending upon the individual will to blog. Blogalysis is often fatal if emergency treatment is not sought immediately.

RIP William F. Buckley, Jr.

He was 82.




I honestly don't recall if I have ever read The National Review, but as a teen I watched him with fascination as host of "Firing Line."
Yet on the platform he was all handsome, reptilian languor, flexing his imposing vocabulary ever so slowly, accenting each point with an arched brow or rolling tongue and savoring an opponent's discomfort with wide-eyed glee.

[...]

He advocated the decriminalization of marijuana, supported the treaty ceding control of the Panama Canal and came to oppose the Iraq war.

And those three issues might very well have been the only three in which we were in agreement.

A Few Things On My Mind




The Weather As a Metaphor

Like the weather
my mood swings
Monday it was 92°
This morning was 24°
Right now it is calm
Yesterday it seemed
as if the house would be
blown away
It screws with my Ch'i
I am ready for stability
and some consistency
But I want change

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hold That Thought, Hillary

We have corporations who need to suck our dick.



But those nagging tax returns.

And the Nation of Islam.

God help us.

3rd party? Anyone?

It's not like McCain is on the fast track to victory.

The time has come to reinvent our political process. Because after 47 years, I'm fucking sick to death of this one. It ain't working for me.

Buckle Up!

$4 per gallon by Spring?

Gasoline prices, which for months lagged the big run-up in the price of oil, are suddenly rising quickly, with some experts fearing they could hit $4 a gallon by spring. Diesel is hitting new records daily and oil closed at an all-time high on Tuesday of $100.88 a barrel.

The increases could not come at a worse time for the economy.

Understatement. Frame that one and hang it on your wall.
Oil prices are unlikely to drop any time soon, analysts said. Barclays Capital recently raised its long-term prediction, saying prices could reach $137 a barrel in 2015, up from a previous target of $93 a barrel.

Sorry, that wasn't me you heard snorting. $137 in 2015? That's 7 years from now! I might believe that if there was a slight decrease in US consumption coupled with peace in the Middle East. And a smaller increase in consumption in China and India. Like that's an option.

I'll be surprised if we aren't seeing $137 a barrel before the next president has had time to fumigate the Oval Office.

I suppose Exxon/Mobile and others have decided they want a bigger piece of that economic stimulus check. They'll be damned if Wal-Mart is going to take it all.

The Most Hugest Beans in the World?

I bought these dried beans many months ago. I think they were a lima bean from Peru and I have never seen a larger bean.

New World Order

I like.




Via The Chemist and a meme in which I shall not endeavor to partake.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Vanna, I Can See Your Varicose Veins!

txrad just called me into the living room. He was really excited. We don't turn on local broadcast stations very often and since we have Dish Network instead of cable, and no local package (we don't even have the HDTV package from Dish Network yet), we rarely see HDTV.

Who cares about the 2008 elections now: Wheel of Fortune is now in HD!

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!






You may now resume your normal activities. Ooops, strike that.

Question of the Day:

What is the hidden phrase, person, place or thing?

And no, "fuck you" is not an option.

Are There Any Solar Flares I Need To Know About?

Retrograde planetary motion? Or do the Chinese now control our internets? Come on, enough already!






And maybe go to the mall.



Feeling sick yet?



When blog commenting is down, you can always just go to Facebook and write on someone's Wall for fun.



Photobucket


Just FYI, if there is a large amount of white space between this sentence and my post footer, that means the YouTubes are blown as well.










Factoids From The Deep

Ewwww. Gross.



I woke up this morning without one thing on my mind. Nothing of importance to say and thus it has remained well into the afternoon. Is it a slow news day or do I just stubbornly refuse to pay attention?

I had quite a bit of cleaning to do in the kitchen.

And there was a load of laundry during which time I had an interesting observation.

Would you consider it odd if you did a load of laundry, and as you were putting away the clothes -- several pairs of socks, four or five shirts, and a pair of cargo shorts -- you noticed there was not one pair of undies in the load?

Hey, I'm a free-spirited and liberated minimalist man.

And are you asking yourself this question? "Is this really the best konagod can do for his first post on a Monday -- and in the middle of the afternoon?

The short answer to that question would be yes.

I do wear undies when I'm a man about town, but that's rarely for more than an hour or so per day. So what difference does it make if wear the same undies for 5 or 6 days in a row? At 1.5 hours per day for six days, that's a total of 9 hours which is still less than most guys would be wearing the same pair in a single day.

And it cuts down on the number of times I do laundry which saves water, saves soap, saves wear and tear of the washer and dryer and is therefore good for the environment, not to mention the fact that less time doing laundry means more time for blogging.

Besides, if the skies were blue in your town, and the temperature was 86° 88° on February 25, would you be blogging? Or wearing undies?

Nice!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Best of the West Indeed

I love cacti. Those are one of the things I love most about Arizona. Perhaps I have a dirty mind but this ad from the New York Times Sunday Magazine really got my attention. I usually just skip right over the ads.



It's probably just me. You know us gays guys are always, always thinking of sex. "Just For Fun."

See ya'll later. I'm packin' my bags. I'm gettin' a boner for a round of golf.

Governor Rick "Goodhair" Perry of Texas Is An Idiot

FYI, if you Google "Governor Goodhair" the 2nd match is a link directly to the official website of our esteemed Texas governor. He had this to say in Sunday's New York Times Magazine about the efforts to keep gays out of the Boy Scouts of America:
I am pretty clear about this one. Scouting ought to be about building character, not about sex. Period. Precious few parents enroll their boys in the Scouts to get a crash course in sexual orientation."

He said "period!" I am not kidding.

And it is so refreshing to be reminded that being gay is ALL about sex and nothing else. I frequently forget while I'm out in the world doing normal stuff, or writing a blog post, I'm supposed to be spread-eagle in the bed or perhaps on the kitchen table getting my ass pounded constantly -- preferably by a steady stream of men I don't know who are lined up at my door for their turn. So I'd like to send a big Thank You to the fine Governor for reminding me.

That's really what being gay is all about you know. It's one of the major differences between gays and heterosexual men -- sex is just not a big part of their lives.

Blaming The Victim: The Jamaican Version

Bloody buggery bollocks! What is up with these mobs in Jamaica terrorizing the gay community? Hopefully the Jamaican tourism board will try and knock some sense into the residents of that island.

I have never traveled in the Caribbean but it has long been one of my destinations of choice. Unfortunately the news coming out of the region in the past several years hasn't exactly been encouraging to the queer community. It may be a long while, if ever, before I feel comfortable going to Jamaica and rolling up a big fat one.
One night last month, Andre and some friends were finishing dinner when a mob showed up at the front gate. Yelling antigay slurs and waving machetes, sticks and knives, 15 to 20 men kicked in the front door of the home he and his friends had rented and set upon them.

[...]

Disapproval of gays is an entrenched part of island life, rooted, Jamaicans say, in the country’s Christian tradition. The Bible condemns homosexuality, they say. But critics say islanders are selective in the verses they cite, and the rage at gay sex contrasts sharply with Jamaicans’ embrace of casual sex among heterosexuals, which is considered part of the Caribbean way.

While some other Caribbean tourist destinations have made a point of marketing to gay travelers, Jamaica has notably not joined the trend.

The double standard on the island is reflected in the antigay lyrics of Jamaican dance hall music, the headlines of more hyperventilating tabloids — “homo” is the term most often used — and the fact that homosexuality remains illegal here, with the specific crime called “buggery.”

A nice start would be to remove the illegality of homosexuality. Sadly, even that would be a very small step in what may be a long road of education and overcoming this entrenched religious-based homophobia and hatred. And don't expect the police to provide protection.
A couple of weeks back, a local tabloid, The Jamaica Star, ran a screaming headline when a local police officer, disturbed by the attack on the dinner party guests, decided to disclose his sexual orientation to the paper. He said he had been harassed regularly by his colleagues because he is gay. He said the police did not take violence against gays seriously.

[...]

Mr. Hayden, who has since taken leave from the force, is in hiding out of fear that his colleagues might kill him.

Even a funeral was disrupted when an angry mob attacked a church during a service for a gay businessman. We're talking Fred Phelps-style hatred here.

Of course there is an easy solution for this problem. If WE would just stop acting so gay, or better, heal ourselves, the violence would stop.
The country’s public defender, Earl Witter, later condemned the violence at the funeral, but he also reinforced the common view that if only gays would be less flamboyant, there would be less violence against them. Speaking to the Mandeville Rotary Club last April, he urged Jamaica’s gays to avoid flaunting their sexual orientation.

The article concludes with a quote from a pastor who is working with a gay man to overcome his homosexuality. The pastor doesn't want his name used in the article out of fears of being attacked for "protecting" the gay man he is trying to heal of this "demonic thing."

The website VisitJamaica.com makes it sound like a pretty nice place. Notice the tagline: "No Wonder Hearts Beat Faster in Jamaica."

Yeah, when you are gay and running for your life from a mob with machetes, I suspect hearts beat plenty fast. That's not my idea of a vacation.


Print version of New York Times article.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Marketing Targeted (Very) Badly

I don't like junk mail, solicitations for money, catalogs full of crap I wouldn't dream of owning, and department store flyers with perfume samples. Accckkkk!

Quite a bit of that stuff comes to kona ranch and immediately goes into the trash.

And given the fact that I am about 6 months in default on a number of credit cards saddled with ex-business debt, you can imagine I get lots of lively letters in the mail from salivating collection agencies every week.

It's a rare day when I find something in the mail to excite me enough to blog about it. Lo and behold, today is the day.



Now, I'll admit, I wasn't exactly excited at the prospect of opening this envelope from the County Sheriff. Christ, that makes the anxiety of a root canal pale in comparison.

But here we go:

Dear konagod:

I am writing to you because I believe you are a law-abiding citizen who has worked hard for what you have. I also believe you are tired of people who turn to crime as an easy way to make a living with little responsibility to society.

Right off the bat, we have a problem. Up until just a few years ago, I would have been guilty in the great state of Texas of a felony for being caught in bed with my partner while rubbing our winky-dinks together. So whether I'm a law-abiding citizen is up for debate.

Next paragraph, please:
Almost every day you and I see or hear of the violence and criminal activities of crooks, thieves, rapists, drug pushers, and murderers.

[...]

The Sheriffs of Texas want to see tougher laws for criminals, more meaningful prison sentences, [yadda yadda yadda...], but we need your help.

Drug pushers: "If you don't buy this fucking pot right now I'm gonna blow your fuckin' brains out."

Where are those pushers? (And why can't I find one?) And what if they really don't need to push... at all. What if I am perfectly willing to buy some pot in a very cordial business exchange? Hey, good for the economy! Potmeister gets $500 for an ounce of premium weed. He or she goes out and buys goods and services, thus stimulating the economy. konagod gets some good weed, stays home de-stimulating the economy, laughing his ass off at bad tv, and writing an occasionally stupid blog post. It's all the same in the end. Whether I'm spending the $500, or the "dope pusher" is spending it, the end result is the same. The economy gets stimulated and that's a damn good thing. And if the issue is the pot seller evading taxes, then legalize it! City dwellers will still buy it, the pot sellers can pay taxes to fund the local Sheriff's department in their pursuit of real crime, and those of us living on a little piece of land can grow our own if we so desire, in much the same way I grow my own collard greens, basil and cilantro, thus circumventing a for-profit visit to my local supermarket. But I digress.

I really don't mean to make light of this. I know there are serious problems in this country with manufactured drugs (legal and illegal). But we know where the Sheriffs of Texas are probably going to focus their attention. And why on earth would my unemployed pot-loving ass send money to help the sheriffs in their quest to round up the very guy or gal who might be my next source of entertainment?

And I simply love how they lump business people in a supply and demand situation (is anything more American than that?)with all kinds of other lowly contemptible thugs.

In another paragraph they attempt to appeal to my passions by focusing on their need for funding to improve child safety, stopping family violence, and sexual assaults against both women and children. Oh, and drugs. And the arrest and prosecution of drug traffickers.

Again, I'll say there are indeed some very nasty drugs out there. But only a fool would refuse to believe the vast majority of people involved in this clean-up would be marijuana users and sellers. And my dear friends, the last time I checked, marijuana was a plant that grows from a seed, not cooked up in a meth kitchen with diet aids, paint thinner, and freon, among a list of many unhealthy substances.

So with all due respect to the Sheriff of my County, I will not contribute $25 to your cause. And I'm a little concerned about why you are needing to raise money via a direct mail campaign. And I'm very concerned about why you'd think I'd rather throw my money at you so you could further suppress my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Maybe, just maybe, if you dropped all the wasted resources you pour in the direction of marijuana control, you might actually be able to make a dent in the other heinous crimes without even asking the tax-paying public for more financial support. Just a fucking thought from a worthless and stupid pothead who loves to be equated with scum of the earth murderers and rapists. And as far as crooks are concerned, you might well have a look within.

I wonder if Willie Nelson got one of these solicitations, and if he finds it as humorous as I do.


A Special Delivery Package From The Male Man

This has been one strange week which passed in a blur. I've seen weeks drag one slow day at a time, and I've seen weeks zip by, but this one has to have set a record for speed. Monday morning came and then suddenly it was Friday afternoon.

It wasn't a fun week either. I've had better. In fact, if I had to choose between the week I lost my job and this one, I'd rather deal with a job loss.

Just for the hell of it, I'd like to recap a bit of my history, my belief systems, philosophy, whatever.

Let's start with me being a privileged white male. Yes, that certainly gives me a leg up in society. But it's not as if I routinely run around aggressively taking advantage of it, or smearing it in the faces of others intentionally. And I certainly don't have a plaque proudly displayed on my mantle in the den to remind everyone of just how great it is to be a chest-thumping male.

I have never counted myself as a member of that privileged group of males who have a grip on power. Perhaps that's my first problem. My life would be a hell of lot better of the surface if I had embraced it. On the contrary, it would be safe to say I have done a pretty damn good job throughout my adult life of distancing myself from the patriarchy.

I am still pissed off and have been for about 32 years -- since 1976 when no states ratified the Equal Rights Amendment after a promising start when 22 of the required 38 states ratified it in the first year. Basically, I cite that amendment as the beginning of my political activism. I was/am angry and frankly, embarrassed that in the United States of America we could not pass a constitutional amendment granting equal rights & protections to women.

And the irony of a woman leading the opposition was boggling my mind.
Arguments by ERA opponents such as Phyllis Schlafly, right-wing leader of the Eagle Forum/STOP ERA, played on the same fears that had generated female opposition to woman suffrage. Anti-ERA organizers claimed that the ERA would deny woman’s right to be supported by her husband, privacy rights would be overturned, women would be sent into combat, and abortion rights and homosexual marriages would be upheld. Opponents surfaced from other traditional sectors as well. States’-rights advocates said the ERA was a federal power grab, and business interests such as the insurance industry opposed a measure they believed would cost them money. Opposition to the ERA was also organized by fundamentalist religious groups.

God! Read that paragraph twice and if it doesn't piss you off, then you are probably reading the wrong blog.

The list of unratified states looks pretty familiar when it comes to rejecting progressive causes.

Another notable and interesting disappointment for me was in 1982 when Hillary Rodham made the decision to take the Clinton name. I'm not faulting her or any woman for doing it if that's what you want. It's your business. But, Hillary was seen as taking his name in order to help Bill win an election in which significant numbers of voters felt it was inappropriate for her not to take his name. The unspoken message being a widely-held view that a woman's place is with and subservient to -- or owned by -- her husband. I was appalled then and I'm appalled now. [Read the second blockquote in this piece.]

During this same time, I was coming to grips with my homosexuality, and when I learned that much of the opposition to the ERA was due to the possibility it might grant equality to gays and lesbians, I was even more bitter about the opposition.

Being gay was not easy while living in a repressive environment AND a family with a bias against it. I recall an incident while in my early teens when my parents had some of their friends over and somehow the topic of homosexuality came up. A friend of my mother's had a reaction along the lines of "ewwwwwww." Yes, I may have been a privileged white male in the making but I was a lowly disgusting faggot beneath my skin, first and foremost.

As years passed, I moved on to college and began entering the work force taking part-time jobs here and there both during and after college. One of the reasons why I struggled for nine years getting a very basic degree in liberal arts was because I could never quite reconcile who I was with what I thought I wanted to become. And while the idea of getting a business degree (what my parents wanted) always sounded good, the reality was that I was repulsed by it. It was a man's world, filled with guys in white shirts, dark jackets and subdued neckties. And they all had those perfect, uniformly consistent haircuts too. Men seemed just a cohesive and professionally presentable package of which I wanted no part.

My beliefs and feelings were only reinforced in the sporadic jobs I did have during those years. This may be a sexist statement but I never liked working for a man. I'm not sure I ever tried to analyze it to determine why, but it was uncomfortable for me. I never felt 100% male; I didn't fit the mold of how a 24-year-old male was expected to look, act, dress, or behave. I knew I was never going to marry, have kids, kick back a few beers watching football with the guys, or play a round of golf with the boss. It was not going to happen.

I also felt uncomfortable in the male environment. Men were prone to making sissy jokes here and there. The occasional slur was common. And I never opened my mouth once for fear of rejection, being ostracized, or losing the job I hated anyway. And because I was a sissy, I didn't really relish the possibility of ever getting beat up. So I stayed under the radar as much as possible.

I handled work environments much better if my supervisor was a woman. I was far more relaxed although still not open. But I never felt nearly as repressed around women. One of the more enjoyable and stable work situations I had was in the office of a health care service which provided in-home care to patients. Our office never received incoming visitors so it was a casual and fun climate. Although I was only doing clerical work, typing, filing, etc., it was fun because the other workers were fun and laid-back, and we actually had some common interests.

And guess what? I got fired. Not for insubordination; not for being inept with my work; not for stealing any equipment or violating any company codes. The corporate office sent a couple of senior level guys in (white guys, dark suits) just to check in and see how things were running. Apparently, my attire at the time didn't look acceptably professional -- particularly my orange shirt -- and despite the fact that this office never received clients or guests. I'm sure having a small gold hoop earring didn't escape the notice of this suit either. So my supervisor was instructed to get rid of me.

Welcome to the corporate working world. Nice.

Sure, I could have done with my fashion what I did with my sexual orientation: repress it. However, I decided right then and there, no fucking way. I was not about to live life as a repressed homosexual AND give out the false illusion that I was a normal everyday white male working in a white man's world.

That, in a nutshell, summarizes what my life was like between 1980 and 1990. Hopping around from job to job, city to city, until I could find my place and not feel like I was having to sell my soul for a paycheck.

Women are routinely discriminated against in work environments. That's pretty obvious. I will never know firsthand what kind of feelings or emotions a woman is having while she's "periodically down and feeling sad" but what I can certainly identify with is the feeling of gross injustice in the face of discrimination, and ridicule for being less than a man. I may not hear their dog-whistles, or interpret them the same way. But in the end I believe we have a common understanding of the unfairness and the hostility which often rears an ugly head when we don't conform to the ideals and assume our proper (assigned) place in society.

I try to imagine how I would hear a man in a debate who suggested I turn negative when I'm periodically down and feeling sad. And my actual first reaction is to be pissed off, as a man. It sounds condescending to me. And not having had discrimination for the same reasons as women, I can't say with certainty if I had been watching that actual exchange between Obama and Clinton live, I would have immediately heard it as a low-road dig at being a woman and therefore, less than a man because she has those times of the month.

My objectivity is clouded in that regard by having read many negative reactions to it first. However, if women experience this frequently, it is going to be far more obvious to them than it will be to most men. Experience with routine discrimination does tend to sharpen the senses. If my first initial reaction was a sense of condescension being handed to me as a man, the next level of interpretation isn't a big leap.

Lastly, I'd like to talk about intent. For all the jokes flying around this week on blogs here and elsewhere making comedic use of the word period in all its permutations, we cannot forget the importance of intent.

If it was merely a coincidental slip of the tongue and was heard and interpreted incorrectly, then there was no intent and therefore no real dig or insult. Personally, given the negativity in politics and the subtle swipes in play, I highly doubt the coincidence theory.

I have my own analogy which I humorously posted as a comment on another blog. I often use the phrase "weigh in" as in, "I'd like to weigh in with my opinion." I try to imagine if I were in a heated and spirited debate with a man or woman who was carrying around quite a few extra pounds, if I were about to say something about "weighing in" or worse, "weighing in heavily," would it cross my mind in the split second before I said them to change my words? Maybe. Probably. It certainly would immediately after I said it. Whether it was caught by others or not, in my own mind I'd be saying, "Oops, you just inserted foot in mouth." If I were asked to explain the comment I'm not sure whether anyone would believe it was an accidental coincidence or not, especially if it was perceived to be a calculated insult.

Intent. The example I used is a classic example of a thin-line. It would be difficult to prove or disprove intent in that scenario. We would basically have to rely on our own interpretations based on our experiences in life as well as the atmosphere present at the time it was said.

Getting back to the rough week I've had. I injected myself into a discussion this week pertaining to the "p" word and it didn't go so well. I got into the discussion initially because the negative tone and vitriol in the comments was astounding. Here I was, observing a group of similar-minded progressive leftists (with a few trolls in the mix for extra spice) creating a virtual food fight in a high school cafeteria.

In retrospect, I wish I'd just clicked that little red square with the X that I see in the upper right-hand corner of my monitor. I would probably be cleaning the house right now or out enjoying the beautiful day instead of sitting here writing this post.

My comments had the exact opposite effect from my intent. And that shouldn't be surprising; this has happened before. But my comparing a few of those in the comment thread who were hurling insults at men to some feminist classmates of mine who weren't exactly receptive to a man in the women's history class proved to be received, shall we say, disapprovingly.

I also caught a particularly huge amount of flack for illustrating a hypothetical scenario in which enough feminists in key battleground states, irate over Barack Obama's slur, refused to support him in November with the end result being a McCain presidency and further shifting in the Supreme Court against women. And yes, even as I wrote it, I knew I'd experience a backlash and screams of "blame the victim." The "victim" being any woman whose conscience refuses to allow her to cast a vote for a misogynist asshole. That is one way of looking at it; another way would be to blame it on a noble, if potentially costly, decision by the person casting their vote.

And did we not do the exact same thing to Nader voters in Florida in 2000? Liberals and independents were so upset with the nominee or the lack of attention paid to a closely-held core belief that they flocked in great numbers to vote their conscience in Florida, and at the very least, contributed to that election fiasco. And now we despise them for it, and Nader too.

And how is it any different than if I, and thousands of other gays & lesbians were so angry with the reluctance of Barack Obama to publicly support equal marriage rights for us, that we decided to vote for Cynthia McKinney -- knowing we'd feel good about our vote but ultimately might usher in four more years of Republican control?

There are at least two ways of examining these issues. But examining them and coming to one of two or more conclusions is at worst a differing opinion, not an overt sexist attack.

And yet, I was suddenly a basher of feminists, a troll, a privileged male whose desire and motivation is to throw women under the bus in order to maintain my own feeling of superiority. And in the midst of this passionate epic disturbance, the luxury of time was not really on anybody's side when it came to avoiding a pie in the face, or making the effort to understand my intent, which happened to be contrary to the perception.

For the same reason it's probably a bad idea to go watch a riot in person, I will be far more careful in the future about where I go plop my lily-white male faggoty pro-feminist ass for the purposes of dispensing my political point of view. That is my intent. Period.

Eleven months from now the Bush Administration will be history. On that fact, I know we can all agree.

Peace.

I Am Woman

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Pussy Blog: The I'm Late... Period! Edition

One of these days I may actually get these posts up earlier in the day on Friday.

Rebecca sent me a photo -- a variation on the Cat Yoga theme from last week.



Sissy, looking very grateful for the meal she had just been given by txrad.



Sweet Pea with his beautiful snake tail.



And of course, the Tater Tot, about to start a grooming session after dinner.



I don't know about the rest of you but I'm glad it's Friday, even though I've had nothing but one long continuous weekend since December 21.

Hillary

That's it. More tomorrow.

Update: It is tomorrow.

I've been thinking long and hard about politics this week. Perhaps I have been spending too much time focused on Republicans getting beat than I have on which Democrat may enter the White House. That may have been a subconscious effort on my part to avoid examining the Democratic race because I might realize just how disappointed I am.

Honestly, I was a LOT more excited and focused on the Democratic lineup back in the early days when it was wide open. As with the 2004 race, I immediately threw my support to Dennis Kucinich because he best represents the kind of real change I want in this country. Never mind the fact that I knew he didn't stand a chance; at that phase of the process it's about me getting the most bang from my convictions and principles.

At that time there were two levels of politics playing out in my mind: the ideal and the real. Kucinich was the ideal but John Edwards was the real. At least he had a reasonable chance and even though he was not my ideal, I could at least be very excited at the prospect of an Edwards administration after 8 years of being Bushwhacked.

I clung to Kucinich as a loyal supporter until he officially dropped out of the race and then I began to support Edwards more publicly. His message in the debates was light years ahead of what I was hearing from Clinton or Obama -- at least in terms of issues I most wanted to hear about: poverty, corporate power, etc.

I definitely want to get us out of Iraq and I absolutely want health care reform, but those are safe issues that cover a broad swath of America, and that's how politicians appeal to the masses most efficiently. How many people making $60,000+ a year are really going to be gung-ho about actually doing something to reduce poverty and homelessness in this country? How many of those same people really view corporations as being out-of-control with a greater emphasis on stockholders than workers?

Families with incomes under $30,000 -- and we have a lot of those -- are most certainly interested, but they also stand to benefit from health care reform and universal coverage, assuming we ever have it, so at least that group is being placated by all the candidates with some ray of hope and change.

As I watched the debates in which Edwards stirred me passionately only to see him continue to pull a distant 3rd place finish in primary after primary, I began to resign myself to the inevitable: we are not likely to see the level of change I had hoped we would.

So when I go into the Texas voting booth on March 4 and touch the screen (aackkk!) for the candidate I feel will best bring my causes and beliefs, morals and convictions, into the White House in 2009, I can assure you I will not be mumbling an Austin Powers "Yeaaaah, baby!" as I step away from the booth. Maybe someday I'll have that moment but this year is not the one.

Last night's debate may not have been very exciting, and it certainly did nothing to sway my gut-feeling expressed three weeks ago about the person on whom I'm most willing to gamble the next 4 years.

Who won the debate is a matter of personal opinion. Who seemed more presidential is less so. Obama is a brilliant and electrifying public speaker when addressing a stadium filled with 17,000 cheering fans. I completely understand why he is attracting so much support and why first-time voters are getting excited. I have to ask myself one question: Are we voting for the next president or a rock star whose medium is the spoken word?

As I watch him in a one-on-one debate, I don't feel the same electricity as I do when he's giving a victory speech after a major primary win. Last night I felt no electricity at all. Simply based on my personal observation, he mostly seemed to be in Hillary's shadow rather than the brazen catalyst of real meaningful change.

Perhaps the decisive factor last night for me was when Obama seemed confident in his mind that he is going to be the nominee and began reaching over the line to the more conservative voters by reminding us we are a "nation at war." Gee, where have I heard that one before?

The person we choose to lead this nation is going to be spending far more time in one-on-one debates and addressing smaller groups who will not be the adoring fans currently filling large stadiums.

In a campaign between two candidates where there doesn't appear to be a hell of a lot to differentiate them from one another, it can become a very superficial decision based on race, gender, personality, or gut-instinct. That is unfortunate. I wanted something substantial and I'm not getting it.

When it boils down to who may be most effective, given our two choices, at going into Washington with the required level of anger and burning passion to kick some ass, I am still confident in my choice. It's just my gut-feeling and yet again, I find myself supporting another underdog for what may only last another two weeks.

Regardless of the outcome on March 4th, or later, I am going to support the Democratic nominee, and barring some enormous gaffe or disclosure of unpalatable information between now and November, I will gladly support that person with my vote. I just wish I were more excited about it. Given my contempt and seething anger after two Bush terms, that is saying one hell of a lot in a short sentence.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Great and Mighty Austin Debate

The Democratic debate is right here in Austin tonight.

CNN 8 EST/7 CST


txrad and I went out to get lunch today and were discussing the debate.

He asked: "What can she do to try and pull this off?"

Me: "She's gonna have to pull out all the stops."

Now that we are within the final 2-week period leading up to the crucial Texas and Ohio primaries, I'm expecting no shortage of entertainment.

Amuse yourselves with this primer from the New York Times today.
Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have not met face to face in a debate since their love-fest in Hollywood on Jan. 31.

Given the recent unpleasantness between the two, and Mrs. Clinton’s 10-state losing streak, it seems a safe bet that when they meet Thursday night in Austin, Tex., at a debate sponsored by CNN, the tone just might not be so jolly.

[...]

Check out the body language here and whether Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton acknowledge each other.

[...]

...because Mr. Obama is the front-runner, expect Mrs. Clinton to make full use of her opposition research arsenal.



As neither of us were invited to the debate (hmmm, I wonder why?) we'll be enjoying it from the padded cell comfort of our living room, with a bottle of tequila for added pleasure.

Have fun tonight!

India Poised For Transgender TV Show Host

Although this appeared in yesterday's New York Times, I never got around to posting about it for some odd reason.

64 million people will be able to see India's first transgender TV host later this month. The article offers a fascinating insight into a culture quite different from ours, particularly with regard to some issues which are still considered taboo, aside from the obvious: that transgender people, known in India as hijras, are clearly not accepted by society.
Hijras appear in positive roles in Indian mythology, but modern society has tended to be less tolerant. A majority are shunned by their families. Many find it impossible to obtain conventional jobs and turn instead to begging and sex work for a living.

“Transgenders in India are seen as immoral and evil,” Rose said, calmly leafing through the script of her first show — an interview with a prostitute about her recently published autobiography. “I will break that image by being articulate, intelligent and a bit like the girl next door.”

“This is a radical development,” she added. “There have been transsexuals in Indian movies, but always as the object of ridicule or as villains. This is the first time in the history of Indian television that a transgender person has been featured as a television anchor.”

Interestingly enough, the channel is owned by Rupert Murdoch.
The channel was not searching for controversy, but executives were so impressed by Rose’s screen presence and determination to fight prejudice that they agreed instantly to give her a show despite her lack of experience.

I'm going to be very interested in hearing about how this show is received in a country where discussing feelings about marriage is perceived by her as a bigger taboo than discussing her sex change operation.
Rose said she had no desire to shock, but just hoped that she would be watched.

“As a person, I am very open, but this is a big television channel which goes out to millions of people,” she said. “We don’t want any bad reaction.”

She said she felt it would be fine to talk about hormone therapy and her coming sex change operation. But discussing her true feelings about marriage, for example, would still be too much of a taboo.

I do wish Rose great success with breaking this important barrier and I hope to follow-up in the coming weeks or months with an update.

Video: (h/t Jami.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Brown Norther

I usually keep a pretty close eye on the weather via weather.com and the New York Times weather page. Neither one mentioned a damn thing about a shitstorm this morning. I just came to my desk, started organizing a few things in preparation for blogging, and checked in to see what was going on at a couple of my favorite blogs, and the next thing you know...

Shitstorm



I finally got disgusted with the stench and flying debris. I left, cleaned myself up, and went out to lunch. The day is nearly over and the storm is still churning. I suspect this one might last awhile.... early November is my guess. Hell, I'm not even sure it will end.

But damn it was worth it. I learned so much. I decided to create a true or false quiz just to see how much you know.

1. Divide and Conquer is even more effective than I ever thought possible. Those of us on the left can even do it to ourselves and save the Republicans the trouble. How thoughtful of us.

2. Feminism is way more complex than most people realize.

3. There are categories of trolls. Who knew!

4. If you plan to comment in a thread with an abundance of feminists with differing opinions, it's in your best interest to always say precisely the right thing. Good luck with that one.

5. Rest assured, your comments and opinions will always be respected by one and all, even if there is some disagreement in opinions, outcomes and/or solutions to problems. Rebuttal will be swift but quite cordial.

6. If you fuck up, even unintentionally just by virtue of being like, you know, a stupid fucking male or something, you can always explain yourself and apologize, and everything will be a-ok with all involved.

(6a. Not.)

7. Feminists indeed do have reasons to be angry but you can at least count on them to have a sense of humor, even in the face of adversity.

8. Condescension has been elevated to an art form.

9. Words and phrases like overreacting, you the man!, calm down, you're being irrational, and take some advice from a man are probably not going to be well-received and may indeed result in an expected trip to the emergency room.

10. By simply writing and posting this, I am a de facto sexist pig with no respect whatsoever for women and their struggles. In fact, I am a woman-hating fag; I just don't know it yet.

All kidding aside, if I seem angry or pissed off by the experience today, I'm really not. What I definitely am is hurt and disappointed that people with a common desire to achieve similar goals can't even get along at a like-minded community blog when so much is at stake. Honestly, it has me almost not giving a shit who wins the election, because if I can't count on the left to kinda sorta be united at this crucial juncture, then why the fuck should I bother getting worked up into a frenzy?

And it most definitely evokes a feeling of complete and total disgust with our broken political process and the shameless negativity infused in it.

Lastly, I feel for Melissa. I know she's not having a good week. I wish all the real assholes would stay off her blog and leave her the hell alone. I love Melissa like a sister and I have loved her blog and been an avid reader and Shaker for 2 years going on 3. I have learned a hell of a lot there and it has contributed immeasurably to my personal growth. The vast majority of my bloggy friendships were formed there. It is the only blog I have ever helped out financially albeit in my own small affordable and inconsistent way, because I truly feel it is a voice that must be heard; it is a unique blog, and I sincerely wanted to help.

That being said, I am not going to allow myself to be treated with contempt and disparaging diatribes from anyone for simply contributing an opinion, whether the topic is my perception of an environment of intolerance and hostility generated by other regulars in a thread, or whether I think someone's choice in sitting out the election over a sexist remark in the midst of an overall negative campaign is counter-productive to the long-term causes we value. Because honestly, for all my rhetoric, I really don't want to pack up and move to Canada.

Rather than allow myself to be subjected to that, I'll stay here and tend to my own blog, thank you very much. I have enough anxiety going on in my own personal life right now; I sure as a shitstorm don't need to go searching for trouble.

Aside from all this, McCain may be an infidel.

And with that, I'm going to unwind myself by listening to something relaxing and leave the baggage of the day behind me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Have Flair

I've been thinking of doing this post for awhile and it crossed my mind again this morning. Then after checking out Jennifer’s post today I decided we should start a trend. (You can click to embiggen.)

Show Me Your Flair!


whoooo! flair!



I only have 13 pieces. Clearly I am lacking.

Do you have more than 15 pieces of flair? You do want to express yourself, don't you?

The Innocence of Children

I find it quite odd the things we remember doing as children and the things we should remember but don't, even as we're older. The innocence we all had is fascinating to me. However, I suppose if we had known in detail all the things going on around us we might have suffered trauma.

There was a girl in 2nd grade who would sometimes stick her tongue in my ear. Later she was out for several weeks due to an "accident." When she returned she had a scar across the bottom of her throat from ear to ear. She told us she fell against an open over door and burned herself. We believed it, because we were young and innocent. I often wonder what really happened. Did she try to kill herself or did one of her parents try to kill her? Who knows. Maybe she really did burn herself. I doubt it.

The tongue situation struck me as odd when it happened and I often reflect back on the sexual situations I was exposed to at an early age and wonder if that was normal, or did I just attract it. And there were a lot of sexual situations. In the same classroom there was a small double shelf for books at the back of the room. On one occasion another boy in the class came back there and stood beside me as I was looking at a book. Without saying a word he proceeded to unzip my pants, slid his hand in there and began fondling me. This was going on while the teacher was at the front of the room. I guess she didn't notice what was going on, and since we had our backs to her we assumed she and the rest of the class probably wouldn't be aware.

My parents never talked to me about anything regarding sex, or what would happen when I went through puberty. Without help from outside sources, I’m not sure when I would have figured everything out on my own. I guess it would have just been accidental discoveries, like when I was seven and discovered the pleasure of climbing the tetherball pole at school. I didn’t know what was going on; I just knew it felt good. Aside from that, I had help – lots of it, and at an early age. That makes me wonder what was going on in the lives of my friends who seemed to know a hell of a lot more than I did.

One of my cousins and his family were visiting us from out-of-state when I was seven. My cousin was the same age and we shared a sleeping bag on the floor in the den so the grown-ups could have all the beds. I don’t remember what he and I were talking about, but he reached over and began masterbating me. Either I was simply na├»ve to the ways of the world or else a lot of kids were way ahead of where they should have been.

I remember my mother used to take a bath with me in the tub when I was very young, probably not much more than 2-years old. She would make a guttural noise while mumbling the word "relax" -- only she would stretch it out, like "relaaaaaaaaxxxxxx." This was probably to try and get me to be still so she could relax.

It's odd that I remember this given my young age. I also remember my complete lack of interest in her body. She was my mother and that was the extent of my interest. Sure, I remember seeing her naked body, but I never recall any feeling of shame for being in the tub with her. It seemed natural, as was her body.

I never felt any shame with my own body, even as a few more years passed. I was notorious for playing out in the yard in only my underwear. And often I wasn't even wearing that much.

What a difference a few years can make. Something definitely goes awry in those five short years between 2 and 7. By the time I started 1st grade I was well on the way to discovering all sorts of things. Without a doubt I was aided by friends who had their own set of influences shaping their "values" at the time.

I distinctly remember being in the school yard at recess with a friend and we were taking turns getting down on the ground and looking up the teacher's dress as the teacher was having a conversation with someone. Obviously the teacher may not have known what was going on since her back was turned to us, but the person with whom she was having the conversation most certainly would have been aware.

At that age, I supposed we weren't thinking things through in a logical manner. Our focus was on the teacher and not getting caught, and I'm not sure it ever entered our minds that the other person was surely watching us. Wow.

I know without a doubt this was not something I would have thought to do on my own and by myself. I don't remember which friend it was who instigated this but I have a really good idea. But it must have seemed like fun staring up into that mysterious world where sunlight was filtered through her dress to reveal a pretty clear sight of some panties. Whatever. We were like daring explorers seeking out new adventure. For me, it just seemed like a funny thing to do. I certainly was not getting any other nefarious pleasure from looking at my teacher’s crotch from an unlikely angle. I’m not so sure about my friend though.

Aside from this unsavory incident, I was still pretty innocent about anything sexual but I was definitely reaching a point in my life where I was about to become more aware of my body, and my sexuality. I had actually gotten both of us in a bit of trouble when my family was over at his for dinner one night, and he and I were playing with toys in the bedroom. His mother came in, probably to announce that dinner was ready, and we were both completely naked and running around the bedroom, just playing. I will confess: I'm pretty sure I'm the one to blame for that episode. We both got a spanking and I really didn’t know why. What was so wrong with my naked body now?

He was a bit of a brat. And he is the one I'm quite sure was involved in the aforementioned glancing-up-the-dress incident. It's just the kind of thing he would have done. He also taught me a few new words I'd never heard used before, and I had very little idea what they meant, but I suspected my parents would not approve. Then one day he did something completely unthinkable.

We were playing out on a dusty road in the cotton field and he told me to come and hide with him in the cotton at the edge of the road. He asked me to pull my pants down. Both sets. And he proceeded to put his mouth around my penis. Let me remind you of our age: we were both seven.

This was perplexing to me. First of all, I'd never in my life conceived of such a thing or why anyone would do it, or want to do it. I'm also not going to sit here and lie to you by saying there wasn't some miniscule amount of pleasure involved, but it was far overshadowed by the shock and surprise of his action. I will never forget what I said to him: "You need to wash your mouth out with soap when we get back to the house."

That leads me to question -- where did I get the idea that my penis was dirty? It was probably from my mother always telling me to wash my hands after having a "tee-tee" as she called it.

It would be years before I would reflect back upon this and wonder how he had so much more advanced knowledge of things than I did. I am sure it can be partially attributed to having a sister and a brother just a few years older than him. My only brother was considerably older than me and I'm pretty sure had already moved out by this time, or was about to leave. He would have been 20.

My friend and I remained close friends for several more years. I would sleep over at his house some weekend nights and he would sometimes sleep over at mine. And sexual activity was rarely off the table. It might not have happened immediately after the cotton field surprise, but it wasn't long afterwards.

I became his.... um... bitch for lack of a better term. We both enjoyed fooling around and exploring our sexuality, but he always seemed to have the upper-hand when it came to knowledge of certain things. When I slept over at his house, we had separate twin beds, but we always ended up in the same bed. And he always assumed the dominant role, and it was my job to play the part of the girl.

I'm guessing by this time we were closer to 11 or 12 in age due to the fact that I was now getting erections during this "game" he would play. I was told to lie very still, and he would slide his hand around my crotch area, and then would do some technique with the tip of my penis that was absolutely not pleasurable, sort of like popping a cork off a beer bottle with his thumb. He referred to this as "ripping out the Kotex." And sometimes he seemed to take great pleasure in making it as painful for me as possible. I will note this was probably the only aspect of this game I really didn't enjoy. And I came to dread this inevitable removing of the tampon. I didn’t even know what a tampon was until this experience.

Even more shocking to me as I reflect back upon this is that both his sister and brother would be sleeping in adjoining bedrooms, and they had to have heard some of this transpiring. In fact, when all this first got started I do believe his brother’s bed was in the same room.

While I never blocked any of this out of my mind through the years, I certainly never dwelled on it either until recently. I started wondering why our early lives were so vastly different. Why did he have so much more knowledge than I did? And why did he need to create all these elaborate fantasies when I would have been perfectly happy if we had just rubbed our bodies together?

I'm no expert in child psychology; never even studied it. But I wonder if there may have been some improprieties of some sort on the home front while I wasn't around. Maybe he had suffered abuse from an early age. Maybe there was some sexual abuse from either a parent or his older brother.

His brother was a bit of an unstable individual with a tendency toward violence. Their father was a nice enough fellow around the dinner table, but I suspect he may have had a temper as well. In retrospect, he reminds me of that military character in American Beauty, Colonel Frank Fitts, played with brilliant and frightening precision by Chris Cooper.

My friend and I drifted apart as we entered our teenage years, and went to different schools. Within two years we were scarcely friends. My parents had enrolled me in a private school when I was 12 and that precipitated our drifting apart. By the time I was 14 we were never seeing each other and I was transferred to another school for my high school years.

He was enrolled in the private school where I attended around the time we were 16, but we had completely changed, and barely spoke. He was into the cowboy schtick and hung around the tobacco-chewing crowd, flirting with the girls and being involved in football activities. I was in a different clique entirely.

Eventually we graduated and went on our way in life. From time to time through the years I’d hear about him with second-hand information from my mother. He had married, had a child, then divorced and possibly married someone else. I’m not sure but I don’t think that marriage lasted either.

Apparently he always asked about me and supposedly once said he missed the friendship we had as children, and that he really loved me. That was kind of a strange thing for a macho cowboy to say after ten years had passed, including four years of high school in which we never had one single conversation. I’m sure he wasn’t using the word love in the sense of being in love, but rather the love you’d feel for a close friend or brother. Still, it was strange.

On my recent trip back to my hometown, I was driving around the town, realizing just how much smaller it really is than it seemed back then. As I drove past a few of the now-crumbling and neglected houses where friends and cousins had once lived, I was flooded by memories long forgotten, of events from 35 years ago which seem almost alien to me, and many troubling questions which will never be answered.

Monday, February 18, 2008

konagod: starmaker

Or maybe I was just a catalyst. Or maybe I was just an accessory to a catalyst.
I don't want anyone to think from the title of this post that I'm seriously taking credit for anything; this is a philosophical humor piece.

Last night we were watching an incredibly entertaining Motown documentary: Standing in the Shadows of Motown. In fact it was so good I stayed up until almost 11:00 watching it. That's way past my usual sleepy time.

Aside from dishing out some good history of Motown and the players, there were some very lively performances by Bootsy Collins. Meshell Ndegeocello and Joan Osborne got quite a bit of time on the screen as well as Ben Harper.

Near the end of the documentary though was a performance by Chaka Khan and Montell Jordan, who is probably best remembered for his hit, "This is How We Do It," back in 1995 and earned him a MTV Music Award nomination as well as a Grammy nomination in that year.

Back around late 1992 I was moving into a supervisory position at my advertising agency to lead a department which was responsible for tracking calls and product orders from infomercial 800-numbers and other "direct-response" commercials which also utilized the "order now" approach with a toll-free numbers to push goods and services. We were also hiring new staff at the time to help with the workload and one of the people we hired was Montell.

I was also interested in production and since we had a department dedicated to that function, I managed to get my foot in that door for a brief period. One of our clients at the time was Def Comedy Jam and we were doing a production for several commercials to promote videos of some of their rising comedians. That was probably the only pleasantly memorable experience from my brief time in the production department. I got to dabble in a bit of scriptwriting for the spots, a few lines of which may have ended up in the final creative, give or take a word or two.

It was fun because I HAD to watch a lot of video footage and I was a big fan of those very funny (but not workplace safe) folks. I also got to spend a bit of time in the editing studio as the video footage was being assembled for the commercials. I even got to meet Stan Lathan who was the director of the Def Comedy Jam and was overseeing the production for the commercials.

While the video editing was lovely, the voice-over person was not up to par. I was in the edit bay with a colleague from our production department. I'll call her Miss R. She was supervising the actual edit and I was there as a backup and as a second set of eyes.

Stan asked Miss R. if she had any recommendations for a voice-over talent as we were in a time crunch and needed to get this done soon. Miss R. thought for a second and mentioned Montell. She looked at me and asked, "Don't you think he'd be great?"

I agreed. We got him in there to meet Stan and do some quick auditions. The deal was done. He was perfect.

It wasn't very long after that when Montell left our agency to pursue his music dream. I often speculate about whether that coincidental blip in history which introduced him to the director of Def Comedy Jam helped propel him into meeting Russell Simmons, the co-founder of the hip-hop label Def Jam, and ultimately (and quickly) into an extremely successful record deal less than 2 years later.

When Montell left, we didn't have any idea if he would make it or not. It wasn't until he showed up in the Billboard charts that we knew for sure.

Those coincidental introductions and the proverbial forks in the road have always been fascinating to me. We all have them, but not all of us have such a driving motivation to recognize the right move and capitalize on it. And few of us will ever face a crossroad of such startling contrast. Luck and talent do count for something. So does having clarity and focus -- knowing what you want from life.

Just wanted to share that little bit of history. Now, about that Bootsy Collins...