Friday, December 30, 2005
These lives we lead are so complex, fragile, precious, fleeting, joyful, hurtful... I am comforted by the gentle and loving twenty-three year union that David and I have had.
Please click on the above link and then click on the video (Sigur Ros). Poignant is a good word.
Monday, December 26, 2005
David and I went to see Brokeback Mountain on the 23rd which, I believe, was the first day it showed in an additional four or five theaters (suburban mall type theaters) after it's very limited release in Denver. After it's inaugural showing in Denver at the new Opera House (not really a movie venue)--which David attended--it opened at the Mayan theater. The Mayan is what I call an "artsy-craftsy" venue where mostly independently produced, small budget films show on small screens with horrible acoustics and--being kind--dated audio.
Let's begin with the short story.
Annie Proulx (pronounced proo) took six months to write the short story of the same name, while she admits on her website that she usually takes only three months to write a novel. The short story was published in The New Yorker magazine in 1997.
While I know a wee bit about writing and do devote my days to the craft, I certainly am not as accomplished as Proulx and I do have to admit Brokeback was the first of Ms. Proulx's works I've read. Two things: I found the story clipped and to the point; it's as spare a short story as any I've read which, in most cases, is a good thing; secondly, I found the characters, Ennis and Jack (in the short story) to be a bit, um--dare I say it--stupid or, at least, a little ignorant. These two characters, Ennis and Jack, seemed not to have a clue about the world other than their very small corner of it. Remember, this was 1963. Jack Kennedy was in the White House (and would be assassinated that same year); the Cuban missile crisis had occurred; Sputniks from the Soviet Union had scared the bejesus out of every god-fearing American (bomb shelters were being dug in suburban back yards, for god's sake). And, Ennis and Jack... Well, even cowboys, even in 1963 watched tv and occasionally read newspapers. I guess I wish that Ennis and Jack had not been so insularly portrayed. I mean, wouldn't it have been neat if, on one clear and starry night on Brokeback Mountain, as they pressed their backs against the good earth and stared into the night, Jack would have said:
"Why lookit there," Jack said, as he pointed to a pinpoint of light that moved slowly across the moonless sky. "I bet that is one of them Sputniks." Ennis propped his head up on his palm with an elbow to the ground and followed Jack's outstretched arm.
Ennis chewed a bit on his toothpick before he said, "Uh-huh. Could be."
The sexuality in the short story was, I believe, Proulx's best moment; it was portrayed so matter-of-factly and natural that it took a back seat to the love story which Brokeback Mountain irrefutably tells.
Now, to the movie.
The movie was absolutely--with a few minor exceptions and enhancements--beholdin' to Proulx's story. She says herself that she was literally "...knocked for a loop..." when she saw the movie and how literal the translation was.
I loved the movie. Please see it. Please read the short story.
Now, ya'll straight men with maybe a little too much blubber around your middle and maybe a little self-conscious about that receding hairline and maybe not likin' even the thought of fulfilling the little woman's needs anymore; yes, ya'll straight men might want to stay away from the movie or you might not want to read the short story. See, I've got this theory that there's a whole lot of hetero men out there who, like Jack and Ennis, had some pretty strong feelings about another man or boy in their lives and they may well have, at one time, acted on that impulse to touch and be touched; love and be loved ... by another man. The other part of the theory is, of course, that the man I've described above is scared shitless to relive anything at all to do with that moment, day, week he may have had with another man/boy a thousand years ago when such things could just be forgotten, hidden, tucked away somewhere in the baggage of that man's or boy's mind. Or, indeed, would that moment, day, week more likely be tucked away where the special things are stored; where, at the end of days, those images become more precious than life itself?
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Once again, there is no fucking war on Christmas.
Anyway, here's what Media Matters put together on O'Reilly's latest absurdity. Video included.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Mary wrote a post on her blog, Drunken Lagomorph, about her beloved friend, Harley, who her father had to "put down" recently due to old age. Here is the link.
Christmas, for me, is time for family: remembering, reliving, laughing, crying through everything that has passed before, everything that has meant something to you during the past year or, yes, past decades. This something does include--for those of us who profoundly respect the lives, the souls of our four-legged friends--the death of a friend.
When I think about the dogs I have loved and lost, I'm always drawn to reread a quote that Barry Lopez included in his book, "Of Wolves and Men." The quote is from Henry Beston and it reads, in part: "For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they moved finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."
The two pictures, above, are two of the last pictures I took of Calvin who passed two years ago from the affects of lymphoma. Mary's post about her beloved Harley has inspired this post which is for all of you who love your four-legged babies; who understand the intensity of respect and devotion that our four-legged friends are due.
From my journal:
Calvin was diagnosed with Lymphoma about four days ago. I had thought he was not "himself" for over a month or more. It's so important to act on first impulses with the children. the lymphoma is apparently a quick killer, in that the internet tells me that, on average, death occurs within one to two months of diagnosis. I was so angry yesterday when we got the referral to the oncologist from Dr. Leach and David called and they said they were so swamped that they couldn't see him until Monday. God, this is my Calvin. My little boy who is dying of cancer. Each day the cancer digs deeper into him. we need quick, definitive action. If chemotherapy will prolong a good life for him, then we need to do it quickly. We cannot wait because the oncologists office is "swamped" after the holiday. Jesus!
Well, I'm really not very good at this. In fact, I'm really lousy at this. Just returned from the oncologist. Basically Calvin has about a month to live. Six months of chemotherapy would result in only a total of nine months of reasonably good life for him. The redness in his eyes is called something like "ovulitis" and it's actually inflammation of the eye and also blood in the eye caused by the lymphoma. Because of the ocular involvement, Calvin's prognosis is worse than if he didn't have it--or so the oncologist said. The doctor also said Calvin's other lymph nodes are enlarged and his liver and spleen are also slightly enlarged. The oncologist said that since Calvin is so large, six months of chemo would cost about $5,000 for only nine months of quality life. Doesn't make sense. Oncologist sent us home with prednisone. They said the prednisone will make Calvin very thirsty, hungry, but may help with his eyes not getting any worse. Riding to the oncologist I was afraid to open the windows of the Explorer; afraid the cold air would be harmful to him. But, Lord, on the way back I opened the windows up and let him have the joy of putting his head out into the breeze--flying like the birds...
David seems to be taking this better than me. Maybe not...
God bless my little boy, Calvin. My sweet, little boy...
Much sadness last night. David said his friend Leesa called him and she started crying when he told her of Calvin's prognosis. She called back shortly after that with another friend, Janet, on the line and they all had a great three-way cry. I cried alone. I have no friends with whom I can share such deep, hurtful sadness. I think about the 30-40,000 people who have died in Iran as a result of the terrible earhquake in the city of B... The grief of the families.... The loss of life and homes and futures. Calvin's imminent loss is, for me, no less than the loss a parent must feel for a child. He is our child. I will do the prednisone today and watch him very closely for side effects.
New Year arrives with Calvin doing well on the prednisone. The hemorrhages in his eyes have cleared up and he's developed a voracious appetite. David and I have decided to do walkies today. Don't know how many more walks we will be able to take Calvin on. We have also acknowledged that we must understand Melissa is NOT sick and must treat her accordingly or as "normal" as possible. Melissa has been very clingy lately in the front yard. I'm sure she understands something is up. Jim McIntyre had to put his 13year old Mason (a black lab, I think) to sleep. Very sad. Also, Marla's pig--Twiggy the Piggy--passed last night. She was twelve.
No, I'm simply not very good at this. Calvin has over the last several weeks begun to weaken. He will play and fool around in the front yard for a while and then he'll just sit down and stare off into space. Then he'll lie down. After he rests a bit, he'll get back up and play a little. Sue wants to have him over to play with her two Goldens. We've decided nto to do that. Too much stress on his system. I even wonder if continuing our "walkies" three times a week in the park is really too much for him. But, he loves it so...especially riding in the Explorer with his head out the window in the breeze. As close to flying as he can come...in this life. Woke up about 2:45 this morning. Very agitated about something. Got up and went downstairs and, as I always do first thing, look out the back door to see if the kids are ok. This was the first time Calvin has been out of his house at that hour (the times I've been up). He was lying on a blanket, just looking around. He was not asleep. I went and got my robe and came back downstairs and gave him one of the huge milk bones we bought last weekend and Melissa got just a rawhide stick. Even at 3am he was absolutely voracious. At times he appears to be doing so well. At other times, it is obvious we're losing him. This is not easy. I have not and do not believe I will ever be able to reconcile the inevitable. I am not good at this.
Well, my boy has made it this far. He continues to tire fairly easily, but still loves the ride to the park and the walk through the park. The other day I was petting his tummy and happened to run my hand over his front leg arm pit. His lymphnodes were as hard as rocks. Does that hurt? For Calvin, pain was defined by his triple pelvic osteotomy (twice) when he was not yet a year old. So, swollen lymphnodes may be insignificant. Today, however, was the first day since he has been on the prednisone that he did not inhale his breakfast. He waited until Melissa was done with her breakfast, he finished off what she had left and then he ate only the few goodies in his bowl, leaving 95% of his breakfast uneaten. I'll watch him through the day.
Finally called the oncologist day, as my boy is moving past his 60 day threshold. I wanted to know what we should be looking for from here on out. Julie called back and was very nice and understanding. She asked if his lymphnodes had gone down with the prednisone. I told her they hadn't. She then said that what we're probably going to see is the nodes in his neck beginning to obstruct his breathing and he will be coughing a great deal. Also the neck nodes may obstruct his throat in such a manner that he's no longer able to swallow food. She also said that the enlargement of nodes in his stomach or intestines may cause problems with his bowel movements. She also said that he will become more and more lethargic. God bless our little boy.
Our boy wouldn't eat his cheese (with prednisone) this morning. So, I tried wrapping the prednisone in bread, his other favorite food. He wouldn't eat that either. He wouldn't touch his food. Melissa seems to be terrified of Calvin. I had to give her her breakfast in her house. Also had to take water to her. She is so confused, depressed. Yesterday I babysat my grand nephew, Aidan. His mom wanted to see Calvin so she went to the back porch. I was holding Aidan and just stepped out on the step to the porch and Calvin leapt up and got Aidan's foot in his mouth. Didn't draw blood, but left a little scrape. Jesus! Don't know if I should continue giving him the prednisone. I think maybe we'll have to make a decision Monday. (Today is Friday.) Have contacted a mobile Vet who will do in-home euthanasia. I don't want him passing in the Vet's office. He is such a strong little boy. He has fought this for so long.
On March 14th, 2004, a Sunday at approximately 11:30 a.m., our boy was euthanized. John Grout, our contractor and dear friend, had done work for a vet and John actually arranged for the vet to come out to our house. Our boy was ready. I only regret that he became frightened by the sound of the electric shaver. David and I held him. He passed quickly.
Hmmm... Tammy Wynette singing "How Great Thou Art," came on just as I worte the last sentence.
Good-bye Harley. You'd do well to hook-up with Calvin who loved to fly. I'm sure he'd show you the ropes.
Dubya's administration has been built on the rock of hot buttons: insidious terrorism, gay marriage, abortion, theory of evolution, pansy-assed liberal political correctness and, yes, the "war on Christmas."
There is no "war" on Christmas. This is a hot button perpetrated by Dubya's running scared administration and the media wingnuts who have bought into this latest hot button non-issue to include Bill O'Reilley, Cavuto, Tucker Carlson, etc. And, of course, the usual Christian fundamentalistic suspects -- Dobson, Robertson, etc.-- are just absolutely giddy with this phoney baloney bullshit hot button.
Dubya's base voraciously feeds on hot buttons like surly curs on the sweet suet of real or imagined (nylabone) meaty appendages.
I understand the transit workers' issues. But, then, I myself spent twenty-three years as a "public servant" and not once, ever--even as bad as things occasionally became during my tenure as a public servant--was there an inclination to strike. Being a public servant--in any capacity--does, I believe, carry with it an additional responsibility beyond that which private sector workers contend. A public servant must first, last and always devote their efforts to the best interests of the city or the state or, indeed, the nation under which they serve. That does not include the shutdown of the transit system of the one of the greatest city's on the face of the earth during the holiday season.
Reminder to Dubya: YOU are a public servant!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
(Note: In 1981, after experiencing more than a decade of what was called "Urban Renewal" in lower downtown Denver that destroyed many of Denver's most significant landmarks, I wrote the following poem, which was published in Denver's "Out Front" magazine in July, 1981. I suspect that no one who is not a native of Denver and pretty close to my age will recognize the references I make. But, in light of my unkind piece on the "revitalization" of downtown Oklahoma City, I thought it only fair to express my thoughts on the sad, sad devastation of many of Denver's crown jewels in the name of "Urban Renewal" back in the '60s and '70s. )
Dear Lady Denver
tell me old girl
does the face lifting still go on?
do those thick-fingered surgeons of
steel and stone
still build up
where your soul was torn down?
hear me out.
I am your native son
(and there are precious few of us).
take some time from your
fancy modern gyrations and
listen to one who remembers.
I am one who remembers
when the Old Prospector
was as untouchable as the clouds
and as curious to a young boy
as a jet plane in a steep climb or
a Colorado Winter's first snowfall.
Now the Old Prospector has come down to earth.
He collects pennies at the Towers and
silently stares as he is touched by tourists
and passed by an endless parade
of fume-spewing autos.
I cannot help but think
his shoulders have stooped a bit.
Do you know Old Girl
that I am one who remembers when
there was no Zeckendorf
where noontime loafers putt
on fake green grass and
there was a time--I know you recall it--
when those long-robed
pony-tailed devotees of Hare Krishna
didn't dance their simple jig
to the tinny sounds of finger cymbals
on 16th Street.
Listen, Dear Lady,
Do you know
there used to be a Windsor
where Hayden Simpson and his friends
in a room where the echoes of your youth
still haunted those
elegant high ceilings and
there was an opera house called Tabor
that was your pride and joy
'til the sleazy cinema
corrupted its foundation and
brought the bulldozers
to rid you of its plight.
there is so much
to remember Old Girl.
there is so much to be sorry for.
All that which used to be
could still be
If only you would have realized
what you were losing.
Excuse me, Dear Lady:
The wine is gone;
The music has stopped;
The fire is out.
I feel that I must be going.
But, Dear Friend,
The next time a high-rise
let's get drunk on the heady wine of our memories,
to the sweet sounds of ragtime.
(NOTE: The picture in the upper left hand corner is the Old Prospector which used to stand atop the Mining Exchange Building, a picture of which is directly below the statue. The Old Prospector now stands outside Brooks Towers. Status of the Mining Exchange Building - gone. The building in the upper right hand corner is the Tabor Grand Opera House. Its status - gone. A picture of the Windsor Hotel is below that of the Tabor Grand Opera House. It's status - gone.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I guess it was inevitable that the Ford Motor Company would cave to pressure from good Christians and stop supporting faggotry by placing ads in gay magazines/tabloids which expose the niceties of Jaguars and Land Rovers. The American Family Association, based in Mississippi (where else!), had apparently threatened Ford with a boycott if they continued to pander to the homa-sex-yall consumers who, most likely, have more disposable income than Bubba with his metallic blue, dual-wheeled 350 that, sadly, he has to hide behind the pile of rusted "classic" cars and old farm machinery in his front yard 'cause he's missed the last three payments on the rig. Here are the details.
I love Ford products. I've got a Lincoln myself and would have a hard time transitioning to GM or Toyota or Honda or, well, one of them 'foreign' outfits. I do find it quite amusing that Ford would find the threats of the Mississippi-based American Family Association more significant than the buying power of gay men and lesbian women who, the last time I checked, surpass mid-stream America's earning power by more than two to one and who, incidentally, are eminently more financially able to buy those Jaguars and Land Rovers.
AlterNet provided a piece on Don Rumsfeld ("....Mad as a Hatter") that was interesting, revealing. You might want to check it out. It reads, in part:
I can't say whether or not he was mad from the start, but I can tell you with some degree of certainty that he is now. And he's getting worse. Each successive news conference he sounds more and more like the character, Dr. Charles Montague, who was head of "The Place for the Very, Very Nervous" in the 1977 Mel Brooks flick, High Anxiety.
Don got so nutty during his weekly news conference last week that Joint Chiefs head, General Pace, had to reel him in; not once, but twice. The first time was when Pace used the accepted term, "insurgents," to describe the indigenous fighters in Iraq.
Rumsfeld interrupted, waving both hands over his head, to announce that over the weekend he had had an epiphany. We've been using the wrong term entirely to describe the Iraqis killing our troops over there, he pronounced from on high. They are not "insurgents," they are "Enemies of the Legally Elected Iraqi Government," or EOLEIGs. (Guess we know now why Donald never made it as a corporate jingle writer.)
Now ask yourself, what kind of person but a nut, would make such a pronouncement at a time when American kids are being blown up by the dozen each week? And to do so with such pompous grandiosity, on TV, and to cynical, hard-boiled reporters! Only a madman, a person so deeply confused in his own mind that he thinks his absurd ruling actually is contributing to a solution.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
In my novel, "A Circle of Magic," I note that: "When I was a child, the Oklahoma license plate expressed to the world that 'Oklahoma is OK.' I don't know if I asked my father the obvious question ('Daddy, why is it OK?'), and I don't remember him explaining it to me, but as I left Copperthwaite's office, I was struck with how gray the city still seemed. What the hell had they--the OK folks of this OK city--been doing for all these years? Where were the trees? Where were the street performers? Where were the street cafes? Were there any OK architects who had managed to imagine anything other than those perpendicular boxes? And where were all those lovely Spandex-wearing bicyclists who roamed most great American cities every hour of the day, every day of the year?"
Our Courtyard by Marriott hotel featured a channel devoted entirely to the exciting specter of a revitalized downtown Oklahoma City. The endless loop of civic propaganda began with a message from Oklahoma City's mayor who began his little happy message with the words, "Oklahoma City is a faith-based community..." Yup, that about summed it up for me and I immediately turned the channel.
The picture you see above is a portion of the water channel that runs through what is called "Brick Town" in lower downtown Oklahoma City. In Denver, this portion of the core city is called Lodo where, decades ago, a redevelopment effort turned what was once a blighted area into an exciting, thriving community of loft dwellers, retail outlets, restaurants, bars, hotels and curio stores.
Sad to say, Oklahoma City's quite recent foray into the revitalization of their lower downtown heritage has--as I experienced--resulted only in a dirty green-watered canal and scads of bars where folks happily tip their brews and watch sports events on stategically located television sets hanging from ceilings.
I guess it's important to report that the OK City is getting ready for the state's centennial celebration that, I believe, will take place in 2007. They've even erected a dome upon their statehouse with an Indian standing atop looking off into a northeasterly direction where, I'm sure, he's awaiting more kindly attention from the politicos in Washington from where all good things--including Indian rights, benefits and an affirmation that reservation gambling joints ain't all that bad--will shortly be forthcoming. Yes, the OK City is gearing up for their centennial.
As much as I'd like to be there, I don't think I'll be able to make it for the celebration.
God bless my Uncle Murlan, who will be 91 this February. He loves Oklahoma and George W. Bush and all things that wreak blindlingly of God and Country and mother and apple pie. That's okay. I don't mind his devotion to the OK City.
But, please lord, deliver me from my Oklahoma ties. No good can come from this. Please, Lord, let Oklahoma do it's thing without me, without me nosing around in the red-dirted swamp of lost opportunities and ill-placed priorities.