A Thorn Among The Roses

snoopyI’ve been doing this blog for about six months now. It’s a gratifying experience. Not just the writing. The unexpected pleasure has been the discovery of other bloggers, their endless creativity and forms of expression. Engaging with the people on the other end of those blogs can lead to rewarding and refreshing new relationships. It’s a unique form of friendship, really. Blogging demands honesty, and honesty often requires courage. Bloggers put themselves out there, certainly in front of the folks who follow them – but potentially in front of everyone on Earth with an internet connection. It can take some getting used to, putting yourself on a stage that big. But it gets easier as people begin to like your post on this or that… as they begin to follow your blog… and as everyone comments on each other’s blog posts. There’s a real sense of community – because unlike all the so-called “reality” fare in the media, blogs and their bloggers are real.

One of the real blokes I’ve bumped into in the blogosphere is Margaret Rose Stringer. M-R (don’t call her Margaret) hails from Sydney, and I tend to think of her as the Thunder Down Under. She is smart, snarky, even a bit bawdy. M-R never leaves you guessing, and never fails to make me smile. She seems to have lived several lifetimes – so far. I’ll know more about that once I’ve read her recently published memoir. And Then Like My Dreams is a remembrance of her decades of adventures with the love of her life, Chic Stringer. Their love, their travels, their life together, their work in the Australian film and tv industry… his death, and how she survives his loss. And thrives, as he would want her to. Here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/And-Then-Like-My-Dreams/dp/1922089028

PersonalBlogsofWebFriendsM-R has been in a particularly sharing mood lately, featuring some of her favorite bloggers in daily posts under the banner M-R’s Challenge: Personal Blogs of Web Friends That I Read. Early this morning, I noticed an unusual level of activity on my blog for that hour, and I soon tracked down the culprit. M-R had made me #12 in her Challenge! Now, there may be nicer ways to wake up – but none that involve blog stats and referring links. 🙂

So, it’s an honor from a fellow blogger whom I like and admire. I’ve already enjoyed reading and following some of the other nominees in M-R’s Challenge. And I know that being spotlighted in this way will cause more wonderful collisions in the blogosphere. At the risk of self-promotion, here’s the link to M-R’s appreciation of The End (so far).


I enjoyed reading the comments under her post. Some of the names are already familiar to me as members of the M-R community I’m happy to be a part of. Some new bloggers to check out. And then there was this… the turd in the punchbowl:

“Methinks he has already labeled me and my beliefs with a variety of names I don’t care to read, so I think I’ll have to pass. I can get beaten up enough in other places for being a conservative Christian. Sigh. – Janet”

Hmmm. Srsly? I started tapping out my reply: Janet dear, come down off that cross – your friends need the wood for a book burning! But that would only cause a tempest in the middle of M-R’s teapot. And I wouldn’t want to be so rude in my generous host’s blog-home. Isn’t that considered… un-Christian? So I’ve teleported Janet and her grievance here instead.

Ah, a thorn among the roses… Sorry you feel that way, Janet. Please don’t bear false witness to my blog, though. I don’t care what mythology you follow, if any. You can worship Jesus or string cheese or sunflowers or sea monkeys. That’s none of my business and it shouldn’t affect me. But so many ‘believers’ – especially, it must be said, conservative Christians – seem to want it to affect me, want to make it my business. I don’t “beat people up” because they are Christians or any other ‘faith’ flavor. I do take considerable pleasure in skewering pseudo-pious bigots and all those who would make ignorance a communicable disease, or a qualification for elected office. Of that I am proudly guilty.

Do you believe the universe was created in six days? six thousand years ago? Do you believe Noah gathered tens of millions of species on his wooden boat? Were the dinosaurs on it? Or do you believe that Satan scattered fake fossils around the Earth’s surface to deceive us? Do you believe a zygote is a full-fledged human being? Do you believe marriage is reserved for a man and a woman? Do you believe the civil laws of the United States should codify your supernatural beliefs?

If you understand only two things about me, please understand this: (1) I do not care that you believe such things or anything else; and (2) As an American, I defend your right to believe ANYTHING without any interference from the government. (I do think religious organizations should pay taxes, because they reap the benefits of a functioning society, along with the rest of us. But there is room for disagreement on that. Another time, perhaps.)

Not possessing any psychic ability (beyond the usual Pisces talents), how could I possibly know what things you believe? I could live my whole life in blissful ignorance of your ignorance… except that you tell me. You tell me. You tell everyone. You want everyone to know. You never miss an opportunity. In the street. On billboards. Radio. Television. You knock on doors. In newspapers, magazines. On your blog. In your comments on other people’s blogs. You don’t like the gay, so no one can be gay. You don’t like contraception, so no one can use contraception. You don’t like abortion, so no one can have an abortion. You don’t nevertrust.onebooklike evolution, so everyone must learn your ‘creationism’ fairy tale. That’s right Janet. I don’t care what you believe – but when you try to substitute your bible story for a public school science textbook, then we’ve got a problem. And it’s of your own making. When you try to substitute your twisted, angry, bitter Dark Ages ‘morality’ for our more enlightened 21st century American social mores, then we’ve got a problem. And it’s entirely of your own making.

In my book, that makes you not a Christian, but a “Xian”. Like an Islamist. You are someone who warps your otherwise innocuous personal religious beliefs (god and love and peace, etc) and turns it into a bludgeon, or a sword. Xians are like a virus in American society. The infection began when Reagan’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, saw an opportunity to hitch evangelical passion to the Republican party in the 80s. That’s when – and why – the GOP became anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-gun and pro-god (Xian god). It built on Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” which harnessed the ‘passion’ of white Southern racism. Lots of passionate hatred. Not very consistent with your holy books.

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court made its latest controversial 5-4 ruling (after ‘corporations = people’ and ‘money = speech’): allowing sectarian prayer in public meetings. Translation: if it so chooses, the Podunk town meeting or the New York City Council can legally open with a prayer – to Jesus Christ. (Or to Yahweh or Allah or any of the other 3,000 deities currently worshipped by earthlings… funny thing though, it’s always Jesus.) Now, it doesn’t mean that every public meeting must invoke Jesus before setting tax policy or parking restrictions. Many will continue with the standard (and utterly inoffensive) moment of silence. But the Supreme Court has now permitted this “Praise you Jesus” breach in the wall that separates ‘church and state’.

Xians may be dancing (is dancing allowed?) with joy over this ruling. They should be absolutely terrified. Because it’s not difficult to find examples of nations whose societies are organized with laws based on God Almighty. But not your god. Allah has trumped Jesus in these places. And Christians are just one step removed from having their picture on bags of Purina Lion Chow in places like Saudi Arabia. Iran. Most of the Gulf States. All the -stans. Last week it was reported that the Sultan of Brunei is so gung ho on sharia law that he’s bringing back stoning as a capital punishment for gays and adulterous women.

You think that can’t happen here? Laws based on the Christian bible might not be very fair or kind to non-Christians… but you can live with that? That ignorance will only protect you for so long. Maybe state-sanctioned religion in the United States will never result in Koran-based sharia law. But once you’ve allowed your government to pray to one deity, or to make laws based on one religion, then you’ve also given that government the power to ban other deities, or other religions – or all religion. The wall that we’ve always called ‘the separation of church and state’ was not built to keep Christians fenced in. It was built to keep the government out. Out of your religious faith. Tear down that wall, and you invite government in. History is awash in the blood of those – Christians included – who have had to defend their god and themselves against a hostile government.

Janet, you may feel ‘beaten up’ because I call out Xians on their dangerous ignorance, false piety and bigotry – but I’m not feeding you to the lions. Perhaps a little perspective would serve you better than that silly persecution complex.

religion is like a penis

The End (so far)


Saturday Cartoons | Not always taken lightly

Sharing this from Tom Janus at Queer Landia. The cartoon is too true. The joke (“Mistaken Identity”) is too funny.

[088] See Change

honeymaid.boxTurns out, the revolution will be televised. If you watch the news, though, you might miss it.

Hint:  Keep an eye on the commercials.

Last month, Nabisco’s Honey Maid graham crackers aired a 30-second television commercial. “This Is Wholesome” features a diverse mix of families enjoying themselves and their Honey Maid graham crackers. There are the gay dads… the interracial parents… and the drum-playing-rocker-dad-with-tattoos (huh?)… and the Latino/single dad. Watch:

Clearly, straight-white-nuclear families are no longer consuming graham crackers in sufficient quantities, so Nabisco is going after… everyone else. Which is what you’re supposed to do if your shareholders expect you to sell more of what you make, not less. Honey Maid grahams is a $100M business – and those crafty Keebler elves are fierce competitors in the share-of-crunch battle.

So, on one level, this is just Advertising & Marketing 101. But there’s something else going on here. It’s in the messaging Nabisco chose to sell its graham crackers to an American tv audience:

No matter how things change,
what makes us wholesome 
never will.

Honey Maid.
Everyday wholesome snacks,
for every wholesome family.

Nabisco wants us all to buy more of its graham crackers. To achieve that goal, it is spending millions of dollars to make a little 30-second film about Honey Maid’s brand personality: Wholesome and Fun! And we know that because we can see these different families having good, wholesome fun and eating good, wholesome Honey Maid graham crackers. The something else comes at the end of the spot, where Nabisco wants us all to know that it makes snacks for every wholesome family.

Cue the hellfire and damnation in 5… 4… 3… 2…

1milmoms 03.20.14

The group which styles itself ONE MILLION MOMS (actual number = several thousand) – bless their hearts – unleashes a scalding memo taking Nabisco to task for its “This is Wholesome” commercial! “Nabisco should be ashamed of themselves” scream all the moms! Sadly, @1milmoms haven’t caught fire on the social media. That tweet was retweeted six times… and only four of those even bothered to ‘favorite’ it. Ouch.

Of course, there aren’t one million moms with their knickers in a knot over Nabisco’s ‘shameful’ marketing. There also are not one million dads. These are “projects” of an all-too real organization called the ‘American Family Association’. AFA is oh so many things. Mostly, it is a designated “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the well-respected tracker and opponent of hatemongers in America. (Have a look at their website, and make a donation if you can. They do important work.)

AFA and its thousands of ‘moms’ and hundreds of ‘dads’ are SUPER busy folks though! They’re not just going after your Teddy Grahams. Oh no! They are boycotting Home Depot and Chevrolet and Red Robin burgers and the Air Force Academy and the Southern Baptists, Dodge RAM, Pepsi, NBC, ABC, Disney, the Boy Scouts – all for being insufficiently anti-gay. Oh, and they absolutely do NOT want you to see the new movie “Noah”, a filmed fiction which apparently does not conform to their own version of the written fiction. Whew! It is NOT easy to be a low-information bigot these days!

So, an American corporation or organization or politician does something in the name of diversity or progress, and the Lord’s Idiots scream and moan… and usually, that’s the end of it. But not this time. This time, something really interesting has happened.

Nabisco answered its antediluvian critics. Not in a press release or a tweet – although that would have been remarkable on its own. No, they produced a 2-minute response that says (in the nicest possible way): SHUT THE FUCK UP! It’s called “Love”:


What’s the big deal? It’s this: marketers tend not to get too far out ahead of their customers, if at all. When Nabisco produced and aired the original ad, they already knew it was well within the ‘norms’ of American civilization in 2014. When the lunatic fringe did their hateful song and dance, Nabisco could very easily have ignored them. After all, the Thousand Moms and Hundred Dads and the parent hate group do not get much play beyond their own echo chamber. Who cares? Well, Nabisco cares, enough to stand up and say, your hatefulness was drowned out by vastly greater messages of support. And they went to the time and the trouble to translate that support into a visual representation of the radical concept of “love”. Bravo Nabisco!

The world has changed. The bigots have lost. The anti-gay bigots. The anti-black bigots. The anti-latino bigots. Even the anti-tattoo bigots. Oh, they’re still around, in diseased little pockets, and they make some noise now and then. But no one is listening. America has moved on. Disney doesn’t care. Chevy doesn’t care. And Teddy Grahams doesn’t care. I think I’ll go buy a box of Honey Maid graham crackers and celebrate the continuing demise of the haters.

The End Is Nigh – for the bigots!
Day 088 #100happydays




[030] Colbert

Stephen Colbert (pronounced à la francais: kohl-BAIR) got his start on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show on Comedy Central, which lambastes conservative idiocy in a ‘nightly news’ format. Nine years ago, it was time for Stephen to leave the nest, and a spin-off was born.

Stephen-ColbertThe Colbert Report (kohl-bair rə-por) is satire at its best and most devious. A 180-degree departure from The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert presents the news of the day as an effete fire-breathing, white – male – hetero – christian – racist – sexist – pig. In other words, he takes Fox News and turns up the volume. The brilliant conceit of the show is that the typical ignorant, right-wing American teabagger nutjob could watch the Colbert Report without realizing he is being lampooned. Or, harpooned – to be more accurate.

There is no better example of Colbert’s take on the latest tempest in the Tea pot over Coca-Cola’s “America the Beautiful” Super Bowl commercial. He takes the piss out of the bigots, with a wink and a nod to the wider world.


In all truthiness, Stephen Colbert makes me happy.
Day 030 #100happydays

[019] CCCDIC

If you’ve removed your shoes and are trying to calculate that Roman numeral, relax. And pull up a spoon.

Because CCCDIC = Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.


Hey, the only rule in this game is What makes you happy? (And by ‘you’ I mean ‘me’.) Yesterday I gave you 30 years of Macintosh. Today, it’s a scoop (or four) of ice cream. What kind of ice cream? That’s right: chocolate chip cookie dough. Ben & Jerry’s is a particularly delish version. But they all work for me. Posh or not. In fact, tonight I’m enjoying the Safeway Select store brand. The verdict? Guilty! of murdering my taste buds with joy.

I almost chose my runner-up happiest thing of the day – which had been my happiest thing of the day until 9:32pm, when I remembered there was chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in the freezer. That other happy thing occurred at one o’clock this morning, as I watched Netflix in bed.

“MITT” is a new political/anthropological documentary that spans not one, but two! failed Romney bids for the White House. Be still my heart. The Romney family gave some A/V geek total access (we even see Mittens in his hotel robe at one point, which is just gruesome) for six years of their political lives. Which just proves that they really have no idea what an unattractive bunch they are.


The film opens as it ends, with Klan Romney gathered in a hotel suite in Boston, watching the 2012 election returns. The camera never blinks as it pans the room from one stunned and saddened face to the next. Ann “You people” Romney never disappoints with the trademark death rictus affixed to her matronly mug. No explanation is given for HOW these 10 (20? 750 counting the grandkids?) people were the only ones left on Earth that night who did not know that Barack Obama was cruising to a big victory. Mitt Romney looks positively flummoxed and more than a little lost as CNN calls one toss-up state after another for Obama: Pennsylvania. Virginia. Colorado. Nevada. Wisconsin. Michigan. Ohio. “We’re up by 500 votes in Florida!” chirps one of the goofy-named sons. Tapp or Boff or Dikk or Fugg. Mitt considers that news for a moment, before his face falls. “Oh, that’s not good.” Really Einstein? This is the “brilliant captain of business” who was going to turn around the country?! “What do you think you say in a concession speech?” asks the now forever former Governor of Massachusetts… but no one is really paying attention to him anymore.


“So what do you think you say in a concession speech?” – Election Night 2012

And then the flick skips back to the family council in 2006 that voted to go for it in 2008. That ill-fated campaign can be summed up in two words: Crash. Burn. Which is ironic, since Romney was beaten to the nomination by Mr Crash & Burn himself, John McCain.

The bulk of this RomDoc is devoted to the ups and downs and downs of the 2012 campaign. (Note to progressives: make a double batch of extra buttery popcorn. This is what we live for.) We all know how it turned out. This country really dodged a bullet. And “MITT” inadvertently shows us why, as it fails almost totally in its obvious attempt to portray the Romneys as human beings. I mean, these people – and there are a LOT of them – can’t enter or leave a room without EVERYONE HUGGING EVERYONE ELSE! If you are a bellhop or campaign operative in the wrong place at the wrong time, you better check your wallet if you get out of that scrum alive!

Ann "You people" Romney

Ann “You people” Romney

But there is no warmth. Because these are not warm-blooded mammals. They are mannequins. Plastic. Shiny. WHITE. Unlike his 1950s-era social hygiene mentality, Mitt’s joints don’t appear to be fully articulated – his arms falling dead at his sides whenever he stands. And as he is almost always clad in a dark suit, the only prop that seems to be missing is the coffin.

The few scenes where Mitt encounters actual people on the campaign trail, in a diner or a fast food joint (because that’s believable), the result is agonizing for all involved. It would be painful to watch – if it weren’t so fucking fabulous!

I would also like to point out, as an astute observer of GOP + Xian hypocrisy, that every hotel room and conference room and green room and padded room inhabited by Romneys was also always full of cases and cases of Diet Coke and Coke Zero. And not the caffeine-free varieties. Just sayin’. LDS Sin Squad – you’ve just made your monthly quota. You’re welcome.

In the end, this unintended mockumentary does have something for everyone. If you voted for Mitt, you’ll love “MITT”. You’ll tear up as you see these good, decent, hard-working, god-fearing, tax-avoiding centimillionaires sacrifice themselves for the good of Murrica… only to have the election stolen by that lying, scheming, cheating, community-organizing commie Kenyan in the White House who bought all those votes with promises of food stamps and Cadillacs to the 47%. Yup, you wuz robbed. Group hug. (Make sure your safeties are on.)

BUT… if you cry tears of joy and Schadenfreude to see phony, greedy, nasty, small-minded bigots get their comeuppance in the full glare of the tv lights, as well as behind the scenes in the innermost prayer circles and toboggan slopes of Romneyville… then Christmas came a little late this year. But here it is. Exclusively on Netflix. Search your inbox for the ubiquitous “Free One Month Netflix Trial” offer. Sign up. Click play. And don’t forget the ice cream.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream makes me happy.
Day 019 #100happydays

[007] Indiana

Everything* I know about Indiana I learned from John Cougar Mellencamp songs.

* This is mostly true. I have driven a few times across the northern edge of the state, where Interstate 80 and 90 share the asphalt. Which is grim. Except for the fact that the Jackson Five got their start – 50 years ago! – in Gary, Indiana. And Thom has shared some stories about weekends in the ’80s at his friend David’s beach house in the Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan. (But that’s another post.)

You can imagine how surprised I was when Indiana went for Barack Hussein Obama in the 2008 election. (I remember myself thinking, Damn, he’s good!) Of course, the Hoosiers reclaimed their Red State t-shirts and beer cozies in 2012. But still… we all got an inkling that there’s more to Indiana than meets the eye.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’ve had one too many of those orangetinis (see earlier post Fresh Squeezed!) and I’ve forgotten that this is a #100happydays post. And that would be a fair and educated guess. But you would be wrong. Because I saw two news stories today that made me happy. And they both happened in the Great State of Indiana!

I am, admittedly, pretty hard on Christians. And lawdy lawd do they ever deserve it for all the shade they throw on my LGBT peeps!! But I do acknowledge that not all Christians are like that. Some of my best friends are Christians who are not like that. And there are many others who are Not All Like That. NALT. It’s a thing. Really. Google it. So, I’m not getting rid of my “Jesus! Save me from your followers” button just yet. But I have adapted my language to reflect the existence of Christians who are not filled to the brim with anti-gay hatred. I call them Christians. For the hatemongers, I use Xian or Christianist (after the Bush-era Islamist to help distinguish between the world’s peaceful Muslims, and those devotees of Islam who wear bombs to markets or fly planes into buildings). It’s a useful distinction.

So, I am absolutely unforgiving of anti-gay Xian bullshit and the Christianists who fling that brand of poo. And I’ve never been the biggest fan of “the Heartland”, for many reasons. But I hope we can all agree that no one deserves a midwestern winter, and everyone deserves science textbooks free from fairy tales?

I’m on a deadline here, with only 9 minutes left in Day 007 to post this. So here are the two news headlines (from Raw Story – you should subscribe to their daily newsy email) that made me happy. If you click on either photo you’ll be whisked to the full story. But you get the gist of it. And why these stories are such pleasant surprises – especially coming from the Crossroads of America. Indiana!




Hoosier daddy now, huh? 😀 Indiana makes me happy.
Day 007 #100happydays

Who’d You Rather?

Which one of these straight men would you rather marry? Or see your daughter or your sister or your friend marry?


I just thought that was a nicer way to pose the question than:


This Is Why We Fight The Hate

Alan Turing

Alan was a 40 year old with a bright future. His career was going well, and he had recently started dating a nice guy named Arnold. One night, though, he came home to find his apartment had been burglarized. He reported the crime to the police. And when they learned that he was in a relationship with a man, they arrested him for the crime of being gay. His career was ruined. To avoid jail, he was forced to undergo chemical castration. Shortly after this, at the age of 41, Alan committed suicide.

That was 60 years ago. Alan was Alan Turing, the mathematician who broke the Nazi’s Enigma Code. One of the great heroes of WW2, he is credited with saving countless Allied lives – and very likely saving Britain from a German-speaking future. You’ve already read how quickly England forgot this man’s contributions. Click on the link, below, to read Katie Halper’s excellent piece on this shameful chapter of history.

Yesterday, the Queen of England issued a royal pardon to Alan Turing, erasing the 1952 conviction… that erased the remainder of his life. There are some things that, once taken, cannot be restored. Not even by royal proclamation.

More than 50,000 others were prosecuted by Britain for the same “crime”, their lives left in ruins. And for what? To satisfy the moronic mob mentality that gay is sick, evil and therefore must be criminal.

Sixty years later, and we’ve come so far from those dark days. We dance at the weddings of our gay friends and relatives, and they check the “spouse” box on government forms. The U.K. and much of Western Europe recognize same-sex marriage. America’s states fall like dominos: 18 of 50 now recognize marriage equality (2 more than last week), along with the federal government.

But the same old hatred lingers in the shadows of ignorance and bigotry. As our communities evolve into a more egalitarian and humane society, the haters come out of the shadows and become ever more shrill. The election of a black president brought the most virulent strains of American racism out from under the rug where that had merely been swept, never eradicated. And now, too, the folks who hate “the gays” grow more vocal and visible as they lose every battle on the way to losing the war.

Here come the pseudo-pious douchebags of the American christianist right: from the pulpits to the pols to pathological “God Hates Signs” turds… and these strange duck people who have now crawled out of the swamp. They peddle their noxious, fraudulent “ex gay” persecution of gay kids. As Russia’s economy slumps in the 15th year of Herr Putin’s reign, he turns to the old standby of gay bashing to put a little air under his right wing (and the world rewards him with the Olympics). The murderous anti-gay cabal running Uganda is funded and fanned by the Who-Would-Jesus-Kill wing of the Republican Party. Not to be outdone by the christianists, the Islamic nations keep their people in 14th century chains… and India decides to resuscitate an anti-gay law left behind by its British overlords in the 1840s.

noh8Had Alan Turing lived, he would be 101 years old today. If he could experience the world we live in now, he would likely blink in disbelief at the progress toward racial and sexual equality we have fought so hard to achieve. But he would also be sadly, terribly familiar with the fear and loathing that still exists for sexual minorities, women and people of color.

As hard as it is to take, I prefer the hatred to be forced out into the open, on display, for all to see – because sunlight is the best disinfectant. Disney / ABC / A&E might be confused about whether hate sells… but most people are repelled by it. Especially this time of year. So lather up with the sunscreen, all you duck people, preachers and pinheads. The forecast is for supernova.

Britain posthumously pardons scientist it chemically castrated.

David Kato Was Also Someone’s Son

As ye reap, so shall ye sow…Image