The End

My boyfriend (which, as a term, is stupid for a man of my age and a man of his age and men of our ages) and I broke up over a month ago. We were together over six years, and enjoyed a mutual-admiration society for each other’s online works and personalities for probably just as long.

To say “breaking up is hard to do” borders on sadism. Do not ever say that out loud to someone who is in the midst of a break-up.

In the case of us – or the former us – there was no cheating, no fighting, no animosity at all. And that was the problem. By the end, there was no nothing, only he was the one brave enough to call a stop to the madness and allow us both to move on.

I still feel miserable all the time. I pretend not to, of course, because who wants to be around that person? Certainly not my ex. (I’ve started using that term, “My ex,” instead of using his name. If I use his name, it feels a bit like we’re still together, and then people who don’t know that we’re not will ask me how he is, and I have no answer for that anymore.) I’m pretty sure it’s the reason for the break-up, but I can’t be sure, because he came over to my place (in the course of our relationship, we never moved in together, for which I made up lots of excuses and lame reasons but in the end, it was because he didn’t want to live with me and I didn’t want to live with me, either) and announced that he thought we should break up and then there were a number of awkward, silent minutes when we didn’t look at each other and he proclaimed, “I don’t know what to do now,” and I agreed with that sentiment and then he left and I have not seen or heard from him since.

Now that, my friends and enemies, is a break-up.

It’s not entirely true. I did hear from him one time.

After he left, it became immensely evident to me that he didn’t want to (for reasons I invented in my head that mostly put the blame on me) or couldn’t (see: put the blame on me) have any further contact with me. None at all. How did I know that?

Here’s the thing about online social networks and friending and following that never occurs to you until it’s too painfully obvious; when someone no longer wants you in their life, you can actually observe the threads of the fabric of your relationship being pulled apart. You can see them un-follow and un-friend you. You can watch them destroy all the ties that bind you virtually. And you know, in that unspoken fashion, that what they want most from you now is never to hear from you again.

I wrote him an email after we broke up and I explained why I didn’t blame him, and how I understood, and I meant every word of it. I half-expected him to delete the email without reading it. Maybe he felt very badly about things. Maybe he wanted to push the pain of our failed relationship and the end of love away from him, hoping the hurt would go away too.

He didn’t delete it, and around a week later he responded saying that he couldn’t respond, that the words failed him, and the sadness was still too close. He wanted to assure me that it wasn’t all my fault, that my stated litany of shortcomings was too grandiose, and that I shouldn’t feel so responsible for failing at everything. Or words to that effect.

And that was that. That was the true death, the end of it all for realsies.

I knew what he meant. I could almost see him sitting across from me not meeting my eyes as he said those words. As I explained, I understood it all. I even agreed with him, that we should be over, and we should go our separate ways, and we shouldn’t be we anymore.

It’s funny (meaning it’s sad) how you never realize what you’re doing when you’re doing it. So I thought I would pass along some free advice to you, if you’re feeling safe and comfortable in your own relationship before someone comes over and downs two fingers of Bourbon in your kitchen and then walks out of your life forever.

  1. Communication is essential. See, me? I’m an internalist. I’m afraid of doing things wrong, or saying things wrong, in case the people in my life will discover how much they should be hating me. I don’t share things, like this, and I don’t show emotions, except when I am alone and frequently, for some reason, standing naked in the shower crying against the tile. But if things are going poorly for you, and you have someone else in your life who loves you in that unconditional share-my-life-including-the-bad-shit way, if you shelter them from it you will never know if they care, or how they care, and what they are willing and capable of doing to help you. I needed a lot of help, but I never asked for it because I was afraid of appearing weak, vulnerable and unworthy. And look what happened, anyway.
  2. Have fights. Fights are important. They don’t need to be (nor should they be) loud and violent and obnoxious. But occasionally you will have differences of opinion, or you will not agree about something important, or you will want something they do not. It’s okay to have differences of opinion and it’s even okay to fight. I never fought. I never even discussed my unhappiness or dissatisfaction. And then I became sullen. And then I became scared. And then I became closed off. And when you don’t have fights, and put a lid on your unhappiness and anger, it’s a pressure cooker that will eventually go off in ways you never intended or could foresee. So be annoyed now, instead of insane later.
  3. Love them. Love them a lot. Love them all the time. Show them how much you love them. Show it physically and in words and deeds. Show it demonstrably all the time everywhere. Love isn’t something to keep in a pretty box and open on special occasions. Love isn’t something to meekly hold on to. Love should be shared and shared openly and all the time. Make them sick of how much you love them. Doing the opposite means you don’t. You don’t love them. And then love dies.
  4. Say everything. Don’t hold back. Kind of the same thing as Point One, but in this case it also means to be foolish and say dumb things. What sort of a relationship is it where you’re scared that your opinions are pointless, or your words are pointless, or you – you – are pointless? Maybe this is just a “me” thing, but as I reflect on the years that he and I spent together, I realize that I just wanted him to be happy, and a lot of the time I thought that his happiness was more important than mine. I wouldn’t suggest things unless he suggested them. I would agree with his desires and leave mine unvoiced, because I knew they didn’t matter. Even when you don’t have the words – or don’t think you do – try to speak them. Try to explain.
  5. Check in a lot more than you think you need to, and also listen to what you’re told in those moments. When he broke up with me, he confessed to feeling “sad and lonely” and that he had felt that way “for a long time.” Did you get that? We were in a relationship, and he was lonely. Sad, I kind of get. Everyone gets sad about things. You can be sad that your work sucks, or you’re having money problems, or life isn’t turning about to be the carousel of unremitting joy you thought it was going to be (my sadness). But to be lonely inside a relationship? My god, that’s just cruel. You’re supposed to have at least one reliable person there for you and with you to not be lonely. You could not be lonely together. I don’t know when I last checked in with him, because the statement that he had been sad and lonely for a long time stuck an arrow into me and twisted it deep. Not because he meant to do that, but because I hadn’t realized it in the first place.
  6. Being supportive isn’t enough. You need to be a cheerleader. I think we failed each other on this count. He failed me because I lost passion in the past few years, and he realized that, but had no idea what he could do to help me find it again. Neither did I. But we both stopped trying. I failed him because I didn’t think he needed it. In my eyes, and compared with what was happening in my life (that I didn’t share with him) his life seemed teeming with success and happiness. But it wasn’t – not at all – and I never even saw it.

I’m still sad more than I am not sad. I miss him terribly, and at the same time I think that if I saw him again I would explode. The hardest part of this whole thing is that I understand completely why we broke up. If I could go back and change things – and this would need a hell of a time machine because I’d need to go back years and erase all the neglect and ignorance and my stupidity and awkwardness about relationships in general, maybe even before we ever met – I certainly would, because I fucked this one up.

But there are no time machines, and you can never go back.

My friends have been very supportive and helpful. I had a bit of a breakdown after he left, and climbing back up from that valley has been and continues to be a struggle. I pretend to myself and to others that I’m okay. I still tweet stupid crap on my stupid crap Twitter account. I still sit down at my computer to get some work done.

And I’m still crying in the shower. Maybe I should switch to baths.

June 29, 2012  6 Comments

The Perfect Perfect Martini

Perhaps you’ve read elsewhere how to make a perfect Martini. The page is linked to again and again as an example of, I don’t know, one man’s obsession with making one thing perfectly.

Friends, I’m here to tell you that it’s utter bullshit and if anything, that page will tell you how to make a cold shot of vodka with an olive stuck into it. And, friends, that is not a Martini.

First and foremost, a Martini is not now nor was it ever made with vodka. You may call that a “vodka martini” if you like, and keep the capital M out of there, because if anything that is a faux-tini. That is a near-tini. That is…vodka. And vodka is vodka.

But it isn’t gin, which a Martini most certainly is. Debate it all you want, but if you find yourself pouring vodka into a shaker and plan on calling that a Martini, I think you can start calling your dog a cat. They both have four legs and fur, and you have to clean up their shit.

But a dog is not a cat, I hear you lament.

Well, no shit.

So, my friends and enemies, herewith I present to you The Perfect Martini, as it is known:

  1. Taking the shaker or container of your choice, pour in one fluid ounce of good dry Vermouth. Now when I say good and I say dry, I mean it. Don’t use some stink-ass yellow crap Vermouth. I’m talking Dolin Dry (my personal preference), or Noilly Prat, or Vya. It makes an important – and noticeable – difference. There is no excuse for bad Vermouth.
  2. Add in two fluid ounces of good gin. Now, I know there are readers who are right now shaking their heads subtly and whispering to themselves, “but I don’t like gin.” Well, that is the utmost nonsense this writer has ever heard and simply will not put up with. You do like gin, you simply have yet to find the gin that you like! Here, let me help you:
    • Hendricks Gin – This has cucumber in it, and rose water. It’s therefore slightly sweet, but retains gins essential edge.
    • St. George Gin – They make three different gins, and one of them is sure to strike your fancy. If you want a “ginny gin,” try Botanivore. If you want something that tastes like you’re drinking a Northern California hillside, try Terroir. If you want something un-ginny gin, try Dry Rye, which also has the benefit of rhyming.
    • 209 Gin – My “go to” gin. It has “drinkability.” It is also delish.
    • The Botanist Gin – Made by the fine folks of the Bruichladdich scotch whisky distillery in Islay, this will impress anyone who goes, “but I hate gin!” Just say, “but look at this bottle! It’s gorgeous!” and they will be suitably impressed.
  3. Finally, I recommend a dash (or three) of orange bitters. Bitters, as a whole, are incredibly popular right now and there are lots to choose from. If you want (or need?) me to recommend one, I’d purchase a bottle of Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6. That’s what’s called in barkeep parlance “a no-brainer.” If you think you’ll never get enough use out of it, I beg to differ. Shake some into seltzer water for a bracing summer drink, or add it to that vodka thing for some, you know, flavor.
  4. Put a lot of ice into the shaker, or container of your choice. This may also be a pint glass for all I care. The container is of little matter, the ice is the paramount concern that should be on your mind. This should only be cold, and have absolutely no taste at all. The ice always goes in last so as not to pre-emptively dilute your cocktail.
  5. Hokay, now that’s you’ve identified “your” gin, take a nice long-handled bar spoon and stir, do not shake. Shaking will break up the ice and make a watery Martini, which defeats the reason you’re making a Martini in the first place. Rule of thumb for burgeoning cocktailers: if it has fruit juice in it, shake that sucker. If it has egg white in it (i.e. a Pisco Sour), perform a “dry shake” without ice first, then add ice and shake again to chill. If it has neither, aka The Perfect Perfect Martini, stir to mix, do not shake.
  6. Strain into a chilled Martini glass. You may also use a coupe glass, but a Martini glass is preferred because, um, think about what you’re making here, comprende?
  7. Add one olive. Add one good olive. A bad olive comes from any jar that is labeled “Martini Olives,” or is stuffed with something that would never be found in an olive tree in the first place, like a clove of garlic or an almond. And for God’s sakes no bleu cheese! I love bleu cheese, but cheese does not belong anywhere near a Martini. Perhaps it’s there to add something like taste to a vodka martini, but keep it the hell away from this one. I use Cerignola olives which are expensive for a reason. Because you’re worth it! Spear that sucker and lie it gently within the drink. Add no juice thereof, making for a “dirty Martini.” You want to get dirty afterwards, fine. There is no dirty before.
  8. Alternatively, a twist (lemon peel only) is perfectly acceptable. To create a twist, just use a vegetable peeler and pull of a long strip of the yellow only from stem to stern on a nice, fresh lemon. They make special tools for this sort of thing, but you won’t need one. Use the same peeler you use on potatoes and carrots. It’s fine. If you don’t even have a peeler, I’d splurge and get the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel, which is sharp enough to peel your skin off, and includes a potato eye extractor. Avoid the white pith, because it’s bitter and you only really want the lemon oil contained in the yellow peel. For best results, twist the twist and run it about the rim of your Martini glass before dropping it inside.
  9. Look at the pristine, clear beauty of your creation, admiring its perfection and the lovely chill in your hand.
  10. Drink it.

I hope I have enlightened you to understand why this is a Martini and the other one definitely is not. Feel free to enjoy both, of course, I am nothing if not in full support of more evenings spent amongst adults enjoying a quaff or a tipple or two.

But do not call that other monstrosity a Martini. It fucking isn’t.

A London Martini Tour

June 19, 2012  3 Comments

Intellivision

Rumor has it, as Adele said, that Apple is on the cusp of foisting upon the world a big-screen iMac that the world will call a television set, but its relationship with what we all think of as a television set is akin to what we’re all doing with television now.

“Television” used to refer to the set, and the things we would watch on the set which were supplied by television networks who provided the programming you couldn’t control supported by product advertising you hated for things you didn’t want. You would watch “television” when you got home. It was a thing you did based on someone else’s schedule and you had to wait a week to see things you wanted to see, and waste time on the things you didn’t, like Everybody Loves Raymond and CSI Miami.

Television, unless you weren’t paying attention and/or still believe you need to sit in front of the screen and wait until it shows you something interesting, no longer exists – or, more accurately, only exists if you want it to. Television isn’t a thing like that, but the programs and entertainment are all still out there somewhere, only now you kind of have to find them.

For an example, the BBC One is currently running series two of its Upstairs, Downstairs┬áreboot each Sunday evening. It’s their answer to the Downton Juggernaut based on a classic series from when no one now alive was alive, and will be appearing on American television in some month’s time. In terms of “classic TV,” that means waiting until Masterpiece Theater shows it on PBS, and you can drink your milky tea and eat biscuits while pretending your own posh upbringing.

To me, that means opening up a Usenet client and searching for Upstairs Downstairs and downloading a multipart file that compiles on my iMac so I can watch the .avi multi-channel audio file using MPlayerX. I see it less than a day after it has aired several thousands of miles away from me on a network that I have absolutely no way of receiving.

This, then, is “television.”

I think Apple knows this, because I think this is how Apple wants us to watch “television.” Not according to someone else’s schedule and not crammed with programs we have no desire to watch. Instead, we watch what we want, when we want, as much as we want. And “television” is a screen that includes an agent that searches for and remembers the things you want to watch, and saves them until you watch them.

But – and this is a big but – Apple cannot simply make it easier for you and me to go find these programs, which cost a lot of money to produce and broadcast, without somehow compensating the producers, can they?

Apple’s TV is, I think, two things. First, a well-designed piece of hardware. That much is certain. That’s what they make. Hardware, that’s well-designed inside and out, streamlined and simple and looks nice sitting in your living space.

Second, it’s finding the things you want to entertain you, and making it easy to subscribe to them or rent them or buy them, sans advertising you do not want. It means buying a season of True Blood from HBO, and watching at your leisure. Or buying a game without buying a plastic case and instructions you never look at anyway. And buying My Week With Marilyn from The Weinstein Company complete with interactive historical footage about the movie on which the movie is based, The Prince & The Showgirl. And buying the Super Bowl from the NFL. And the World Series from the MLB. And the World Cup from FIFA.

On your TV.

All the things you use your TV for, all the things you watch or play – or even when you want to use the screen as a computer monitor for its built-in computer – will be arrayed for you using a simple menu that allows you to sort your entertainments by date, or unwatched, or length, or title, or category, or whatever. Whatever you’re in the mood for right now, and for however long you want to do it. It will know all, see all, remember all.

You don’t really care, do you, what the screen is. It’s Apple, so it’ll be very good, if not the best, screen there is. The hardware part, that is. The glass and silicon and metal bits. You don’t care, as long as it looks good. And it will.

No, what you care about is how it handles all the stuff. The episodes and movies and games and apps. How it knows what you want, because it’s a Genius. How it remembers what you were watching yesterday.

And one more thing. You’re paying for your entertainments, of course. And you’re okay with that, because now you’re only getting what you want to want, and not what the cable companies and networks tell you that you want. The one more thing is that you’re willing to share your viewing habits with those people. And the reason you’re willing to do that is that it kills – absolutely kills – the notion of Nielsen ratings. No more will one family living in Ohio determine what you want to watch. Everyone’s viewing habits can be accessed and spreadsheeted and picked apart, and suddenly (hopefully) quality starts to win.

It’s coming. It really is. Because if anyone can do this, Apple can. And once the suppliers start supplying programs for the Apple television, they’ll do it for Samsung and Sony (who already makes their own entertainment and games) and Toshiba and Panasonic. If you don’t want a big iMac running iOS in your living room, that’s okay, too. All you need is a hard drive and an interface and a store that sells you these programs. Apple already has that, of course, but the others can follow suit.

The networks are already dying, and they know it. Just broadcasting stuff is no longer a viable business. Controlling the product is what’s important. As Bravo TV says, watch what happens.

February 27, 2012  Leave a comment

The Defensive Marriage Act

The Los Angeles Times is this week publishing opinions from far-right and far-left voices explaining why they feel they cannot talk to their opposites. Today’s conversation, conducted between the parties via email, is about the same-sex marriage debate.

Though I would admit that I would side with the liberal view and make many of the same arguments about the silliness of defending the right of the government and, I must assume, the “majority of the people” to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, I think the debate falls short by concluding too quickly without making one salient argument against the conservative’s view that marriage can not and should not be “radically redefined” to include man and man or woman and woman in addition to man and woman.

The conservative voice makes a loud argument about her definition of what marriage is and has always been:

Marriage reflects male and female sexual union and the complementary natures of males and females. Since male and female sexual unions are procreative by nature (if not always procreative in effect), marriage is the social recognition of that union, and the vows of fidelity that accompany it are supposed to guarantee that the children of that union know who their biological parents are and are raised and supported by them. This is something that every human society has recognized since time began, long before there were any laws regulating marriage.

I actually have no argument with that at all. If that is all that marriage is, I’m perfectly happy to allow marriage to be that.

And only that.

The problem is that marriage, as it is defined today in the U.S. and regardless of how it has been historically defined or considered, also includes several governmental issues concerning the rights, both legal and financial, of the partner.

So here’s me counter-proposal to the loud and obnoxious minority of voices scared shitless that a marriage between a loving couple that also happens to be homosexual in nature allow another amendment to the constitution that defines marriage as precisely what is listed above, stripped entirely of any other legal ramifications of the union.

In other words, if their main objection is that marriage, as an institution, may only be used to describe heterosexual unions, marriage must also preclude any other definitions including those concerning taxation, or access to loved ones in hospitals, and insurance or veterans benefits, and so on.

In addition, since marriage is only the union of a man and a woman, homosexual unions may certainly be called something else but must also contain exactly the same governmental issues concerning all those rights that are currently legally denied to partners in a same-sex union.

I’m perfectly willing to allow marriage, as a term or a word or what have you, to be something that only occurs between one man and one woman.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has nothing at all to do with defending marriage, it’s about defending the legal definition of marriage.

Section 2. Powers reserved to the states: No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

Section 3. Definition of marriage: In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

Note, please, that Section 2 of DOMA is very specific about how the laws of the states in regards to rights given to married individuals are not to include anyone in a same-sex partnership. This has nothing whatsoever to do with procreation or children or parenting, and only about legal rights.

Section 3, similarly, limits federal laws concerning those rights, and that they only apply to opposite-sex unions and never ever in a million years to people joined in love who happen to be gay.

What we want – all us homos and lesbos – is legal recognition of the same rights as our straight counterparts when they elect to join into a union. They can continue to call that marriage, as far as I’m concerned. Change DOMA to strip all legal rights that apply to straight partners and I’ll be tickled pink to allow marriage to continue to be owned by the conservatives who seem so concerned about its definition.

But if the real reason they want to deny same-sex couples legal marriage is to deny same-sex couples the legal rights, they should damn well stand up and say it. Because that means they think one set of people should be treated differently than another set of people based upon their sexuality.

And that, in itself, is discrimination.

February 20, 2012  Leave a comment

A Thing About Apple by Someone Who Doesn’t Know Anything About Apple

The largest company in the world announced that they would be releasing a new operating system update this summer, and one that more effectively married their mobile OS with their desktop OS to the extent that it will track and keep everything you’re doing in their half-a-million square-foot server farm in North Carolina, protected by your single login that also has financial access for you to purchase more music, movies, TV shows, “apps” and computer hardware via the Apple Store.

This is not meant to be some alarmist call to arms, it is merely a statement of fact. If you use Apple computer and entertainment hardware, you’re using Apple services to keep track of everything, as well as potentially house everything on Apple’s online servers. And Mountain Lion, as Apple calls its OS X update to 10.8, intensifies and increases that reliance to an extent potentially much deeper and stronger than the relationship that you have with any other vendor.

I’ve seen some equate this on-going evolution as an attempt by Apple to develop its own social network. It is not, because it differs in a very special way with the first and foremost goal of a social network, being that services like Facebook want you to share your everything with them and with everyone else, while Apple is only seemingly interested in getting you to share your everything just with them.

Why are they interested in doing that?

First thing that comes to my head is benign. They just want to, as a business, try to ensure that you’re fully invested in their hardware and services, and a very good way of doing that is to offer to keep all your stuff tied to an account they control. You log in to your Apple account with your Apple ID and then elect to allow them to store your stuff for you for nothing. If you want to use iTunes Match (and, hey, Apple, when are you renaming that little feature, anyway?) you pay an additional fee, but that’s primarily (or so one thinks) so that Apple can recompense the artists whose music you are holding a small fee for holding it. So, hey, nice, I’ll do that, I like artists and musicians and they deserve to get paid for the stuff they make that I like.

But everything else up in the iCloud is yours, and therefore you. Your documents, your contacts, your bookmarks, your games, your scores, your music, your movies, your TV shows – virtually anything and everything that can be digitized, as well as the records of your usage of said digitized data – it’s all up there in Apple’s Cloud.

How I feel about it is this:

Privacy is overrated.

I don’t think we have privacy now, we have the illusion of privacy. What, you don’t think your government is already tracking your whereabouts? Safeway isn’t tracking your spending habits? Google doesn’t know what porn you like by type and frequency? Your car is keeping track of your driving, and how fast, and how far, and where you go so if and when something happens, your car can tell the police. Your phone is constantly telling your phone company about you. And so on, and so forth. You may choose to turn a blind eye towards it, but you know it’s happening.

My P.O.V. on this whole thing is, “So what?”

And the reason I say this is somewhat personal. I think that our secrets destroy us. Both as individuals and as a society. And I base this on being a gay man in a society that would sometimes/often prefer to ignore that about me, or prefer that I shut up about it, so that it can continue to judge me.

Oops, I went there and this was only going to be a thing about Mountain Lion.

Okay, deep breath, regroup, rewind, back it up to the cloud, start again.

For whatever reason, and I have nothing whatever to back this up with facts or numbers, I feel okay about handing Apple these reins even though I’ve made a very direct and cognizant decision that I feel exactly the opposite way about Facebook and Google, though perhaps it is because Apple isn’t interested in broadcasting my facts and figures in the same way I believe Facebook and Google are.

Because they are.

And another thing.

The other thing of (partial, glancing) interest is the retitling of everything from an iThing to a Thing. iCal is Calendar. iChat is Messages. This makes perfect sense as it’s kind of silly/stupid to brand utilities like contact lists and calendars. It isn’t as if you’re doing something extra-ispecial in an iCal that you can’t do in a Calendar, particularly when the experience still sucks so badly.

Honestly, if anyone at Apple is reading this, please for the love of everything holy fix your fucking calendar app. I am so, so, so, so tired of clicking on a date and having the frustrating experiencing of not actually beng able to do anything until I re-click on the date after I’ve already attempted unsuccessfully to add a new appointment. That thing sucks.

Other than that, I’m meh about Mountain Lion. I assume it’ll be another cheap update (particularly after having to spend $90 to get a Windows license for my Bootcamp instance even though I only use my Windows 7 system once on this computer, but the stupid Microsoft servers don’t know the difference.

Oh! And if you’re even considering leaving the world of Apple because you don’t want them all up in your face with Cloud-based services hovering over your shoulder, I urge you to go fire up Windows 7 just once and not start crying like Cinderella’s stepmother when she realizes just how ugly and worthless her operating system is.

That is all.

February 16, 2012  Leave a comment

The F Word

Hi. How have you been? What’s up? Seen Avatar, yet? Pretty, wasn’t it? Though it left me feeling headachey and kind of worried that we’re going to be subjected to multi-million-dollar animated movies starring people who look like puppets, which isn’t too far from what we have now, only with less emotion.

Right, then. There’s that out of the way. Small talk was never my forte and I don’t really do a good job of moving it along, and anyway the reason I’m publishing something for the first time in over a year is hardly because I have very strong feelings about the crap that Hollywood produces because I’ll always have Turner Classic Movies to turn to so I can cleanse my palette and watch something completely drained of color and filled with actual actors actually acting.

No, what I’ve come here today to discuss is the state of the U.S. in terms of the changing attitudes concerning “the homosexual lifestyle” and my disgust, annoyance, frustration and anger about it all. Because “things are getting better,” for sure, but the environment of tolerance and the open dialogs about the rights of individuals to be who they are and enjoy the same rights under the law as others do has also opened up this fresh can of ugly worms – and the fall-out resulting from the can opening and my own reactions and digestion of the resulting tide of scorn and derision and open prejudice that it has taken me until now to finally understand.

continue reading »

February 3, 2010  Leave a comment

Resolved: No More God Pretending

As a gay atheist (gaytheist?), I’ve made my share of compromises in life. Just to get through the day-to-day, you know. It’s simply easier for me to play a game or portray a desire I don’t feel or pretend a holy devotion over a meal or during a wedding, bowing my head and lip-synching to Biblical passages and even softly saying an “Amen” at the end of a prayer to a God or Savior I don’t believe exists.

I’ve been able to stop pretending to heterosexual desires over the last few years. When I’m not in San Francisco or among friends, I still have to remind myself that even looking too closely at a man I might find attractive could result in physical harm, though the chances of that actually happening are very much diminished now that I favor travel to major cities rather than rural townships where cosmopolitan (modern) thinking isn’t widely practiced. I’m not about to start prancing around in heels and a wig and screaming for equal rights, and not because I think there’s anything wrong with that but because heels are extremely uncomfortable and I have no need of a wig — frankly, I have too much hair as it is.

But the other part of my life that sometimes requires disguising, the part where I try to “fit in” with Christians, mostly, but also the occasional Jew or Muslim or Hindu — though I must admit that the latter mingling usually only involves eating regional foods rather than finding myself at prayer with them — the part where I bow my head in prayer and all that? I’m done with it. I’m done pretending. I’m out of the closet.

I am openly atheist.

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December 3, 2008  8 Comments

Democratic Reform

This is not another rant about Proposition 8, per se, though it does necessarily encompass the arguments for and against it, as well as pretty much every Presidential election over the past 20 years or so, and any legislation at a local, state or federal level.

I often hear that “we live in a democracy!” and that “the majority rules!” and that “in our democratic form of government, it’s one person – one vote!” These are phrases used in arguments to assail those that may be in the minority, or who think that in the United States, laws are always passed by the popular vote and depend on getting a majority, however slim, and that’s that. End game. No more discussion.

Friends, we do not live in a democracy and we have never lived in a democracy. The United States is a democratic republic. We rarely do anything based on one person – one vote, which would be true in a democracy. In that case, we would have no need for a congress, or a state assembly, or a town council, or a house of representatives because everything would require a vote of the people to pass.

In a democratic republic, we elect officials to speak for us. We have a representative democracy. We elect the people we believe will best represent our interests or opinions and send them to these other voting bodies and they make the laws for us. We elect the judges who interpret the constitution of our state or country, or we elect the person who appoints those judges. We don’t vote on what is constitutional. We elect other people — who are hopefully better educated and more familiar with those documents — to make those judgements.

A republic is any government that is not lead by a hereditary monarch or dictator or Pope, for example. A republic is a government (like ours) in which the people, or a part of the people, have a say in the government. Things are not decided by fiat, they are put to a vote, even if that vote is not by the general population but by their elected representatives.

So whenever someone’s argument comes down to “it was elected on by popular vote because we live in a democracy!” you are allowed to roll your eyes and smirk and feel slightly superior because you know the truth. This is also why the president is not elected by popular vote, but by the electoral college. You’re not voting for the president, you’re voting for someone who will vote for the president you told them to. The electors are technically free to vote for anyone they want to, so this is why Barack Obama will not actually be voted in as President Elect until December 15th, when the electors meet to cast their votes on our behalf for the next president of the United States, which will presumably be Barack Obama.

We do not live in a democracy. We live in a representative democracy. We live in a democratic republic.

November 12, 2008  1 Comment

The Voices of the Peoples

After Proposition 8, which attempts to inserts a phrase that defines marriage as only between one man and one woman into our state Constitution, passed here in California, my initial reaction was that it was inevitable.

Even though, only weeks before election day, defeat of the anti-gay marriage was as much as 19 points ahead in some polls, by the day of the election the decision was neck-and-neck, and even though California is often depicted as some insane liberal haven filled with wackos, deviants and drug abusers, that really only applies to us here in San Francisco, and more particularly Berkeley. The Yes on 8 bandwagon was bound to gain steam and roll over those of us who were hoping that maybe this time logic would prevail over fear and prejudice, though I, personally, had faith in the tendency of the electorate to say one thing to pollsters, but vote differently once they were in the privacy of the ballot box.

You might tell a stranger who wants to publish your opinion that you’re in favor of freedom and justice for all, but when you’re all alone and it’s time to stamp the ballot, it’s easy to just be yourself. And my faith in the darker nature of us all has not been diminished.

Not long after it became clear that Prop. 8 was going to pass, opponents representing my rights took their case to court in an attempt to overturn and throw out the vote. Frankly, I’m against that tactic. For one thing, they only did that after the vote didn’t go our way. If it really was an illegal proposition, why didn’t they do something like that before the vote? Was it because everyone thought it would be defeated? I also think that, as much as I hate to admit it, the proponents have a point. This has been voted on twice now, and each time the majority spoke. If we’re going to get our rights, I’d prefer to do it in an environment where we’re not constantly under legal threat to have them removed all over again. Not that defeat of Prop. 8 necessarily meant that they wouldn’t get another million signatures in two year’s time and try it again, but if the population of California had voted against it this time, perhaps another proposition would have been harder to come by.

Maybe California, and certainly the rest of the nation (with the exception of Massachusetts) isn’t ready to provide equal rights to every citizen. Apparently, the idea of marriage is chockablock with too many minefields. This particular legal contract, it’s too darned… oh what’s the word? Sacred! Too darned sacred to too much of the population to allow anyone other than “one man and one woman” to be married, and that definition is, according to public comments I read at CNN and elsewhere, thousands of years old. Even as old as mankind itself! Older than, like, anything! And changing it will result in several really horrible things that will destroy all of society, even us gays who don’t know what we’re toying with.

So I’ve decided to try to meet some of those doubts and fears head-on. I’ve taken the liberty of copying verbatim some of the comments in support of Prop. 8 that concerned citizens left in various articles about the subject at CNN.com, and I’d like to address them one by one.

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November 10, 2008  6 Comments

Straight to the Point

How to tell if you’re straight, and what you can do to hide it from others.

With the recent decision by California to strip straight couples of their Constitutional right to marriage — a decision already echoed in one way or another by 29 other states, including GeorgiaArkansas voters’ (sorry, it’s easy to get confused, but since neither state allows you to get married, who cares?) recent approval of denying straight people from adopting children — I feel it’s important now to help those of you struggling with your lifestyle choice, and to help you fit in with those of us who are normal.

I know you may be feeling depressed right now, but please believe that not all of us gay people think you’re entirely sick, depraved, abnormal and not deserving of love. After all, marriage is almost exactly the same as a civil union, accept for some of the things about next of kin and so forth, but since you so rarely stay with your partners for more than a few years and insist on fooling around so much, does that really matter? And this was in no way a referendum on legitimizing prejudice or discrimination with an attempt to place these definitions into the state constitution. We don’t hate you.

We just think you’re not entitled to the same rights as us. I mean, really, how can you possibly argue with that while you’re cheating on your spouses and wearing those outlandish clothes?

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November 5, 2008  3 Comments

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