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Blurred Lines

Posted on 2015.05.19 at 12:37
Recently, I was chatting with a friend of mine about an incident that left another friend feeling very upset. Long story short, she wore a rather slinky outfit. Pictures went up. And then the comments came in. Apparently, several men made comments that, in their minds, were funny. But to her, they were really rude, sexist, and hurtful. And a number of the men took the stance of, “I’m sorry, but I was just kidding, so lighten up, ok?”

The specific people and details of this scenario really are not important in terms of what I am about to post. After all, I’m sure many (if not all) of you can probably recall this very type of situation happening either to you directly or in front of your face at some point or another. And most likely, in one way or another, you have probably found yourself on either side of this situation. So to those of you reading this, I pose this question: Who is in the wrong? Is it the woman who is taking offense where none was intended? Or is it the fault of the guy who made the inappropriate comment?

I might raise some eyebrows with this answer, but truthfully I don’t think there is a clear-cut answer to this question. I don’t. Why? Well, let me try to clumsily explain.

For the guys making the comments – I honestly do not believe any of them mean anything intentionally rude. There is a big difference in my mind between INTENDING to cause someone upset and that person BECOMING upset. In my own life, I have run across some people whom I would have to categorize as INCREDIBLY PRICKLY and to be perfectly honest, there is just about no way to say anything at all to them in any way in any tone of voice that will NOT bring about some sort of a negative reaction, drama, or crazy-ass-freak-out. And in those cases, I just have to roll my eyes, take responsibility for what I actually did (as opposed to the drama they are trying to create), and move on. In a few cases, I have just completely distanced myself from the Crazy because it really isn’t worth the drama.

But then there is the flip-side where, regardless of intent, sometimes real damage and hurt DOES occur and in such cases, it is the Adult thing to recognize it, accept responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions, and try to repair the damage. And I think in the case of the guys making comments to the woman, that’s pretty much what should happen.

But before we all jump too brutally upon what sounds like some sexist good ol’ boys, let’s remember something – they are a product of our culture – OUR culture. It isn’t like a group of guys just suddenly developed this behavior. It is something that, unfortunately, has been ingrained in our very culture pretty much for my entire life.

Let’s use a cultural example, shall we? Y’all seen episodes of Mad Men? One of the things that strikes the audience of this show is JUST how incredibly misogynistic the characters are. Business is a MAN’s world. And how DARE a woman even THINK that it is her place to do anything beyond be in the Secretarial pool – unless of course she can score her place as wife/mother. The show almost seems over the top compared to today. But that is because the American culture of the 1960’s was very different. I think as a culture, we are evolving. But there is always something we notice as adults that drives us NUTS – yet it is something that we have all grown up with for our entire lives. Heck, take the topic of school bullying. Nowadays, it is a hot topic, and bullying culture is being recognized, and there are more and more safety mechanisms set up to help kids who are victims of bullying. That is FANTASTIC and a sign of growth. But yah, I sure wish such a thing existed back in my day. I was “different” than the other kids. Sure, I was a young gay boy. I didn’t know it yet. And I don’t know if my classmates knew it. But yes, they picked up on the “different”. And “different” is BAD! I was bullied – a LOT. And there were times when I was nothing less than terrified – terrified to walk down the hall – terrified to get on the bus – terrified to go to school. But culturally, we have created – CREATED – it as a norm, if you will, for bullying to exist. At least until now. We are just starting to recognize it as a problem and starting to try to correct the behavior. It is much easier to correct it with people when they are young kids. But for the rest of us – old habits die hard.

So how do we change?
How do we grow?

I think the first step is to really take a close look when you find yourself in a conflict with someone. If that person is upset at you, and you don’t feel that you did anything to deserve it, take a great big huge step back. Is the person just being a total whackadoodle? Or do you think there is a legitimate reason that the person could have felt upset by what you said or did? If your answer is, “all I did was tell the person that I love how blue the sky is today”, then yes – that person is probably whackadoodle. But if your answer involves something to the effect of, “I was just kidding around with him – just like I did with my buddies growin’ up,” you might have scratched the surface of a problem. After all – just because digging or vicious commentary or behavior might have become your norm growing up (unfortunately), doesn’t mean that everyone else is programmed that way or familiar enough with you to take it the way you meant it.

In a way, we are in a whole new time of social awareness. We are beginning to realize and recognize that there are parts of our society that really DO feed into the concept of there being a Rape Culture or a Bully Culture. It is an ugly truth, but a truth nonetheless. So what can we all do to try and make things better?

Very simply – spread a little kindness. Just because people have been unkind to you in the past does not give you the right to perpetuate that onto others. When your humor makes someone cry, it is NOT humor – regardless of intent, regardless of what you were or were not thinking. And you shouldn’t necessarily feel like you are a bad person – especially if you didn’t mean anything by it – but you SHOULD apologize for causing the unintended offense, and use it as an opportunity to modify your behavior. For my part, I make no excuses. I’m gonna try. But old habits die hard. I am a product of my upbringing – my own bullying past. And it is hard to get past completely. But I’m gonna try. So go easy on me, just as you should for anybody trying (but occasionally failing) to correct a life-long learned bit of bad behavior.

How ‘bout you?

Strange Fruit

Posted on 2015.05.18 at 12:49
I absolutely adore Annie Lennox. I remember vividly the first time that I turned on MTV (back when MTV actually played music videos), and I was struck by the crewcut redhead with the gorgeous crystalline blue eyes singing “Sweet Dreams are Made of This”. From that moment onwards, I felt as if we struck a bond through her music and artistic vision that has without question, stood the test of time.

Earlier this year, I stood in line at the checkout of a grocery store, and there at the register I noticed a few CD’s. I can’t say that I really make a point to look for CD’s anymore, but when I saw her older but familiar face on the album, “Nostalgia”, my eyes flew open in excitement. “Oh SWEEET!” I thought to myself. “Annie has a new album!” So with absolutely no idea what it would sound like, I added it to my purchase. And I’m so glad that I did! Nostalgia contains several American classics covered by the incomparable Mz. Lennox, who puts a strong and soulful spin on many of the familiar tunes.

Of all of the songs that she sings, I was very surprised to hear that she covered “Strange Fruit”. First recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939, this highly controversial song has been sung by many artists over the years. Yet, I was rather surprised to hear this version. Not surprisingly, her cover was met with mixed reviews, which really leads to the crux of this post. In reading various people’s online comments about the song, some people focus on how beautiful her voice is, with such strong soul and emphasis. Yet others seem to take insult at a modern white Scottish woman covering a tune about black American persecution and very real pain and suffering.

Now, let’s be honest here. There is no comparing Annie Lennox to Billie Holiday. We’re talking two different women, two different countries, two different personalities, two different time periods, two different cultures, and two different political and social climates. To expect Annie Lennox to really understand the pain and suffering that Billie Holiday knew would make as much sense as expecting Billie Holiday to be familiar with the Eurythmics. And no, I don’t believe there is anything about Annie Lennox’s version that really communicates the same style and personal connection of Billie Holiday’s. But is it wrong or insensitive or inappropriate for her to cover the song?

Absolutely NOT, I argue.

For those of you unfamiliar with the song, “Strange Fruit” comes from a poem written about a lynching – something that was all too common in the American south in the 1930’s and beyond:

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit.
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root.
Black bodies swingin’ in the southern breeze.
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees.”

The fact is, (fill-in-the-blank)phobia still exists in the current ages, and I think it is something that we all need to know about and talk about on a regular basis. And if a modern successful pop star wants to take the opportunity to cover a song that highlights the issue, bringing it forward to a new young audience, I’m all over it. Why? Because there is a whole new generation out there who may never have heard the song before – and they SHOULD! Whereas Billie Holiday does not enunciate clearly when she sings, the pristine and clear voice of Annie Lennox highlights every single disturbing word of the song – and as uncomfortable as it can be to hear the ugly truth, it is something that on occasion, we all need to do. Why? Because (fill-in-the-blank)phobia isn’t someone else’s problem. It is our problem – everyone’s.

Prejudice of any kind, whether it be based on religion or age or skin color or sexuality, is an ugly and malignant growth on humanity. And as long as we feed it, it will continue to grow – not unlike the strange fruit that so many strong and powerful women have sung about for nearly 100 years. If you haven’t heard the song before, I advise that you do. And whether you listen to the original, or one of the newer versions, I challenge you to think about it – really think about it – where do you see this still happening today? Where do you see these dark growths in your own life? What can YOU do to help stop the strange fruit?

“Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.”

Mommie Dearest

Posted on 2015.05.11 at 12:44

So, in many ways, this past weekend has been a massive pain in the rump! Having discovered termite damage in the house, we had it inspected a few weeks ago, only to learn that we had both subterranean as well as swarming termites. Oh joy. There was no avoiding it. We had to have the house tented. There was no way in hell that we were going to have that done during Barons’ Feast, so instead we opted out a bit. Timing-wise, it wasn’t bad. Our roomie would be out of town. And I had Friday off.

Well lemme tell ya – even with these advantages, it was still a massive pain in the rump in terms of preparations and thinking about all the details of the weekend – all the things to be bagged up, all the stuff that we would need for the various parts of the weekend (and Monday), and oh yah… the cats. The cats were the biggest pain, not just in terms of finding a pet-friendly hotel for the weekend and packing up All The Things, but in dealing with the kitty drama of putting them in their carriers and heading out. Oh dear LORD, you would think they were being put through a sausage-grinder tail-first the way they carry on!

All in all, the weekend wasn’t really bad. I got some work done on an art project, and did see friends. But still, my nerves were just utterly frayed. Yet, on Sunday, the most relaxing (And unexpectedly fun) activity snuck into my life, thanks to the campy production of one of our locally restored theaters. On none other than Mothers’ Day, my hubby and I joined by our buddies Scott and Robert went to the Wursthaus for some beer and brats, and then headed to the theater to watch Mommie Dearest.

OK, honestly, I would have been happy just watching the film in all of its horrific campy glory. The mommy juice (mimosas) in the lobby were a nice tough. But having “MovieChat” was just nothing short of hysterical! If like me, you had no idea what MovieChat is, it is a phone app that effectively allows you to tweat and have your snarky comments appear on the big screen in a feed box right under the picture. OMFG, I was ROLLING!!!!!! Between all the bitch comments, the worries about where Christopher was, and if he still liked to wear a harness, Hit her Again, Joan; etc., I was laughing so hard that it hurt!

But it gets better!

Enter two drag queens who approached the stage right at the scene where Joan went to inspect Tina’s closet. Armed with none other than a wire hanger, one queen began to viciously beat the other while the entire audience rolled in laughter.

OMG, we MUST keep an eye out for future campy movies at this theater and make a point to attend. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages! And here in this weekend of homelessness, I really needed it.

Once again, I found myself randomly reading through Facebook only to see on a Friend's page, somebody making another statement about being opposed to seeing same-gender couples rule together in the SCA because it "just didn't happen in history."

Honestly, I don't know what annoys me more - the fact that that once again, people make this a sticking point in a club that is notorious for NOT following history when it comes to choosing our leaders?

Or is it the fact that I can totally understand why someone would make such an incorrect statement - because that is what 99.9% of the history classes in the US teach us.

In all honesty, I would have to say the latter. Why? Because, believe it or not, there was a time when I too was dead set AGAINST the idea of same-gender pairs because I too believed that there just was no historical precedence. Boy was I wrong!

Just because I don't believe there is such a thing as sharing knowledge enough, I am here going to cross-post some information from a document on the Inspirational Equality list compiled by my dear hubby. This is not a complete list. But it presents different times, different cultures, and different scenarios where yes indeedy, we would see cases of same-gender rule. Please feel free to peruse, distribute discuss...

Same-Gender Rulers In Europe:
In Medieval France a paréage or pariage was a feudal treaty recognising joint sovereignty over a territory by two rulers, who were on an equal footing, pari passu… On a familial scale, paréage could also refer to the equal division of lands and the titles they brought between sons of an inheritance. Such a power-sharing contract could be signed between two secular rulers or, most usually, by a secular and an ecclesiastic ruler, as in the case of the most famous, the Acte de paréage of 1278 that founded a legal basis for the Principality of Andorra, signed by the comte de Foix and viscomte de Castellbo and the Bishop of Urgel. The Count and the Bishop were to receive taxes in alternate years, to appoint local representatives to administer justice jointly, and should forbear to make war within Andorra, where each might levy soldiers, nevertheless. (from , citing Whittlesey, Derwent (June 1934). "Andorra's Autonomy". The Journal of Modern History 6 (2): 147–155. JSTOR article available via

c. 971 - 931 BCE Realm: Judah & Israel Rulers: David & Solomon

RowNumber Year Country Rulers Notes
1. c. 971 - 931 BCE Judah & Israel David Solomon At least one coregency is explicitly documented in the Bible: the coronation of King Solomon occurred before the death of his father David. David ordered the crowning of Solomon, and after the coronation said “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it.'”1 Kings 1: 43-48 David continued to reign for some time, and counseled Solomon prior to his death, recorded in 1 Kings 2: 1-10
2. c. 700 BCE – 221 BCE Sparta Agiad king Eurypontid king It was also found in Sparta with two Kings. The state was ruled by two hereditary kings of the Agiad and Eurypontids families (Sparta and Lakonia By Paul Cartledge), both supposedly descendants of Heracles and equal in authority, so that one could not act against the veto of his colleague.

3. 238 Roman Empire Gordian I Gordian II Proclaimed emperor, whilst Pro-consul in Africa, during a revolt against Maximinus. Ruled jointly with his son Gordian II, and in opposition to Maximinus. Technically a usurper, but retrospectively legitimised by the accession of Gordian III. April 238 AD. Committed suicide upon hearing of the death of Gordian II.

4. 284 - 305 ad Roman Empire Diocletian Maximian Proclaimed emperor by army after death of Numerian, and in opposition to Carinus; adopted Maximian as senior co-emperor in 286 AD. … neither Diocletian nor his co-emperor, Maximian, spent much time in Rome after 286, establishing their imperial capitals at Nicomedia and Mediolanum (modern Milan), respectively.

5. 161 ad – 169 ad Roman Empire Lucius Verus Marcus Aurelius Adopted son and heir of Antoninus Pius; Co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius until death
6. 161 – 169 Roman Empire Marcus Aurelius Lucius Verus Adopted son and heir of Antoninus Pius; Co-emperor with Lucius Verus until 169 AD
7. 177-180 Roman Empire Marcus Aurelius Commoddus joint emperor with Commodus (his Natural son) from 177 AD
8. 198 – 217 AD Roman Empire Caracalla co-emperor with his father Septimus Severus from 198 AD; with Severus and Geta from 209 AD until February 211 AD; co-emperor with Geta until December 211 AD
9. 238 AD Roman Empire Pupienus Maximus
Balbinus, later Gordian III
Proclaimed joint emperor with Balbinus by the Senate in opposition to Maximinus; later co-emperor with Balbinus and Gordian III

10. 249 – 251 AD Roman Empire Decius Herennius Etruscus

11. 251 – 253 AD Roman Empire Trebonianus Gallus

12. 930 - 933 Norway Harald Fairhair
Eirik Bloodaxe Norway: Eirik Bloodaxe was the co-monarch with his father Harald Fairhair from 930–933 (

13. 1278 – Present Andorra Bishops of Urgell
Counts of Foix (later Kings of France, then Presidents of France) The Principality of Andorra, in the Pyrenees Mountains on the French–Spanish border, was established in 1278 by the Treaty of Joint Suzerainty between the Catalan Bishop of Urgell and the Occitan Counts of Foix, whose descendants inherited Navarre in 1479 and then the French monarchy in 1589. These Princely rights and the duumvirate have been continued under the executive heads of the various monarchies in France, most recently under the French Republics. Hence even today, France's elected head of state also becomes the Co-Prince of Andorra, the other Co-Prince still being the Bishop of Urgell. (

14. 1243-present San Marino Captain Regent Captain Regent The Captains Regent (Capitani Reggenti) of San Marino are elected every six months by the country's Grand and General Council. The pair serve as heads of state and government. Normally the Regents are chosen from opposing parties. They serve a six-month term. The investiture of the Captains Regent takes place on 1 April and 1 October every year. The practice of dual heads of government is derived directly from the customs of the Roman Republic, equivalent to the consuls of ancient Rome. (

15. 939 the Italian principality of Capua-Benvenuto The New Cambridge Medieval History notes, "On one occasion, very briefly in 939-40, this meant that there were no less than four persons using the princely title: Landulf I, two of his sons and his younger brother, Atenulf II.")
16. 688- c. 988 Cyprus Justinian II Abd al-Malik In 688 the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II and the Arab Caliph Abd al-Malik reached an unprecedented agreement to establish a condominium … over Cyprus, with the collected taxes from the island being equally divided between the two parties. The arrangement lasted for some 300 years, despite the fact that in the same time there was nearly constant warfare between the two parties on the mainland.
This agreement lasted until 965 when Emperor Nikiforos Fokas regained Cyprus completely for the Byzantines.
17. Valdemar Denmark 1218 – 1231 Valdemar had a son, Valdemar, whom he elevated as co-king at Schleswig in 1218. Unfortunately, Prince Valdemar was accidentally shot while hunting at Refsnæs in North Jutland during 1231.

18. 1010-1012 Norway Eiríkr Hákonarson Sveinn Hákonarson from Eiríkr Hákonarson was the co-regent with his half-brother 1010–1012 .

19. 1012 - 1015 Norway Håkon Eiriksson Sveinn Hákonarson
Hakon co-regent with his grandfather from 1012–1015 .
20. 1045 - 1047 Norway Harald III Hardrada Magnus the Good co-monarchs

21. 1067 1069 Norway Magnus Haraldsson
Olaf III the peaceful
co-monarchs; sons of Harald III Hardrada

22. 1093 – 1094 Norway Håkon Magnusson
Magnus Barefoot
23. 1130 – 1135 Norway Magnus the Blind
Harald Gille
co-monarchs (

24. 1136 – 1161 Norway Sigurd Mouth
Øystein Haraldsson (til 1157) and Inge Hunchback, (till 1161) Three brothers; shared the throne after their father's death in 1136. Each brother was on the throne until his death.

25. 1170 France Henry II Henry the Young King Henry, the second (and then oldest surviving) son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, was crowned king by the Archbishop of York. He is generally known as Henry the Young King; since he died before his father, he never reigned alone.
26. 1183 Jerusalem Baldwin Baldwin Guy was removed from the regency and his five-year-old son, King Baldwin's nephew and namesake Baldwin, was crowned as co-king in November.

27. 1017-*1025 France Robert II Hugh (II) Magnus of France (French: Hugues le Grand) (1007 – 17 September 1025) was co-King of France under his father, Robert II, from 1017 until his death in 1025.

28. 1326 - 1330 Germany (Kingdom of the Romans) Frederick I the Fair of Austria
Louis the Bavarian
coregency of the Kingdom of Germany (cited in and )

29. 1165-1493 Friesland Counts of Holland
Prince-bishops of Utrecht,
Countship of Friesland (West Frisia), since 1165 under Imperial administration, was from 1165 to 1493 a joint condominium of the Count of Holland and the Prince-bishop of Utrecht, then again till 25 October 1555 under Imperial administration (Mentioned in Wiki Coregency article; unable to find other documentaton.)
30. 1200 – 1499(?) City of Maastricht bishops of Liège
dukes of Brabant
Co-dominium : Shortly after 1200 the city received dual authority, with both the bishops of Liège and the dukes of Brabant holding joint sovereignty over the city. The city of Maastricht was under the joint jurisdiction (parage) of the duke of Brabant and the prince-bishop of Liège.

31. ?? – 814 Denmark Reginfrid Anulo, Hemming,
Harald Reginfrid or Ragnfrid (died 814) was a co-King of Denmark from 812, when Hemming I died, to 813, when he and his brothers were ousted by the sons of the previous king, Gudfred.[1] He was probably a son of Halfdan, a Danish leader who became a vassal of Charlemagne in 807, and brother of Anulo (died 812), Hemming (died 837), and Harald Klak (died c.852). He was probably related to the Danish king he succeeded. On Hemming's death only Reginfrid and Harald were present in Denmark and they had to recall their brother Hemming from Francia. In 813 the sons of Gudfred invaded the kingdom and drove out the three co-rulers. Only Reginfrid tried to regain the kingdom, but was killed in an attempted invasion in 814, as recorded in the Annales regni Francorum.

32. 345 - 361 Iberia Rev II Mirian III Rev II was a prince of Iberia who functioned as a co-king to his father Mirian III, the first Christian Georgian ruler.

33. 787 Mercia Offa Ecgfrith Offa had Higbert consecrate his son Ecgfrith of Mercia co-king with him. Ecgfrith (died December 796) was a King of Mercia who briefly ruled in the year 796. He was the son and heir of King Offa of Mercia and his wife Cynethryth. In 787, Offa had Ecgfrith crowned as co-ruler. He succeeded his father in July 796, but despite Offa's efforts to secure his son's succession, it is recorded that Ecgfrith ruled for only 141 days. Since Offa died either on July 26 or July 29, this would mean that Ecgfrith died either on December 14 or December 17. Ecgfrith was the first Anglo-Saxon king to receive a Christian consecration as part of his coronation

34. ?? - 664 Tara Diarmait Colman Diarmait mac Áedo Sláine, Co-king of Tara, died 664. Áed Sláine himself is said to have been High King jointly with Colmán Rímid of the northern Cenél nEógain branch of the Uí Néill, following the death of Áed mac Ainmuirech.

35. ? - 529 Thuringia Baderic Hermanfrid,
Berthar Baderic, Baderich, Balderich or Boderic (ca. 480 – 529), son of Bisinus and Basina, was a co-king of the Thuringii. He and his brothers Hermanfrid and Berthar succeeded their father Bisinus. After Hermanfrid defeated Berthar in battle, he invited King Theuderic I of Metz to help him defeat Baderic in return for half of the kingdom. Theuderic I agreed and Baderic was defeated and killed in 529. Hermanfrid became the sole king.

36. 1151 – 1155 Italy Hugh William At Easter 1151, Hugh crowned William , son of Roger II , co-king at Palermo

37. 1147 Germany Conrad Henry Conrad named Henry as co-king in March 1147 and had him crowned on 30 March in Aachen. Henry was groomed for the succession.

38. 813 - 814 Acquitaine, HRE Charlemagne Louis Charlemagne crowned his son Louis the Pious as co-emperor of Francia (

39. 891 France Sigifrid Godafrid An 891 entry of the Annales Fuldenses mentions Sigifrid killed along with his co-ruler Godafrid. Their deaths are also mentioned in the "Gesta quorundam regum Francorum". The name of the co-ruler suggests he was also a member of the family line. [2] (

Pictish co-kings (can’t find any documentation for these)
‎510 - 522 Galan Arilith / Galanan Erilich
728 Alpin I & Drest VII of Atholl

Post period:
Ivan V of Russia born Sept. 6, 1666, Moscow, Russia — died Feb. 8, 1696, Moscow) Nominal tsar of Russia (1682 – 96).When his brother Tsar Fyodor III died, Ivan, a mentally deficient chronic invalid, was proclaimed coruler with his half brother Peter I, with Ivan's sister Sophia as regent. After Sophia's overthrow in 1689, Ivan was allowed to retain his official position, though he never participated in governmental affairs, devoting the bulk of his time to prayer, fasting, and pilgrimages.

Social Progress in a Massage Studio

Posted on 2015.04.29 at 11:54
So having survived another Barons’ Feast (yeah!) I treated myself to a recovery day on Monday. I took the day off (so extravagant!) slept in later than normal (how excessive!) and even scheduled a massage for myself (somebody STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP me!)

Sitting in the lobby of the massage studio, I listened to the trickling water fountain and the overhead music, reminiscent of the stuff they must play in purgatory, while the receptionist checked me in. Having filled out all of the paperwork that identified any medical concerns, injuries, and the names of all of my various chakras and spirit guides, she came over to do a pre-massage interview, asking me about my life and various forms of stress. I told her that I work for government, and she began to furiously write things down. I told her that I have always had a sit-down desk job, and she again furiously began to write. Then she asked me if I had a wife and kids. Initially, I thought that was an odd question until I realized that she was considering stress-factors, and I can see how that would play in. I told her, nonchalantly, “No. I have a husband, and no kids.” “Oh,” she said without batting an eye. “Why don’t you guys have any kids?” And in that split-second, my overthinking mind went on hyper-drive, reacting in several ways to that question.

On the one hand, I found that to be a VERY inappropriate question – not because I am gay, but because I find such a question to be highly personal for anybody, gay or straight. I do not believe in the least that she meant anything bad by it. She was probably in her very early 20’s, and had most likely not yet provoked a negative backlash from somebody for asking such a question. Someday, she will probably ask a young woman wearing a wedding band that question and see the woman break down in tears on her because the woman is unable to have children, or some such sad scenario.

Yet on the other hand, I found that question to be a sign of very interesting progress.

In a different time and place in this country, an employee responding to my answer might have reacted either awkwardly or in a down-and-out negative way. But that was not the case here. In no way did she show even the slightest discomfort or upset or negativity. If anything, she just wanted to dive in to getting to know me just a bit more, and seemed very friendly and supportive. And I have to wonder why that is.

More than anything, my hope is that it is because she is young and that is how our younger people are growing up today. As America faces a daily struggle with things like racial injustice or religious intolerance or discrimination based upon sex or gender, it appears that the loudest voices seem to be the older generations. The younger generations, for the most part, seem to be much quieter. Why? Because frankly, they aren’t the ones with the problem. The younger generations don’t seem to take issue with same-gender couples. We are just couples like anybody else. They don’t seem to take issue with people of different cultures or races or religions. They are just people. I can’t say that I have any idea what it is that the younger generations DO concern themselves with, but I’m seeing more and more that they concern themselves less with items such as this – and that thrills me to no end!

In a lot of ways, I find it kind of sad. When I was a kid, I was taught that it was really important to respect one’s elders – something that I found very hard to do then as well as now. Perhaps it is arrogance on my part, but I don’t believe in just handing over respect freely. One should always be polite, I believe, unless given reason not to be. But respect, I believe, is something that someone has to EARN from another person. And given the horrible behavior and not just distasteful but down and out hurtful attitudes expressed by many of our older generation, I see no reason whatsoever to reward them with even the slightest bit of respect. I don’t CARE if somebody is the matriarch of a family or the CEO of a large corporation – if she expresses loud bigoted statements or hateful commentary, I will tell her she can get her ass out of my house! As a case in point – right now the rights of same-gender couples countrywide are being debated by the Supreme Court. Have you read some of the things said by Justice Scalia?! OMG, what an asshole! I don’t care what his education. I don’t care what his experience! He is uttering some absolutely fear-mongering scare-tactic statements that make my skin crawl! In one report that I read, he complains that if same-gender marriages become legal nationwide, priests will be “forced” to conduct marriages for same-gender people even if it is against his religious beliefs. BULLSHIT!!!!!! That is absolutely a lie, and he knows it! But it scares people who are on the fence or conservative. I really hope that the younger generation is able to look at someone like that, see through his vitriol and attempted manipulation, and recognize him for the asshat that he is.

While today, my hopes rely upon the other justices of the Supreme Court, my hopes for tomorrow rest upon the younger generations who, hopefully, are more advanced, more tolerant, more understanding, more educated, and more evolved than the older generations who are not being the best role models.

Let’s hear it for equality, politeness, and learning how to just live and let live!

As for the gal in the massage studio, Paul and I don’t have kids because we have cats, and that takes enough work and expense as it is. Have you seen the prices of cat food lately? Outrageous!

I can’t brain!

Posted on 2015.04.21 at 13:25
Over the years, at various times, I have gone off on a tirade about the New Moon and what it does to me. I can’t help but get frustrated! VERY, VERY, VERY frustrated! I’m so used to going zoom-zoom-zoom on a regular basis, multi-tasking, doing a bunch of projects, etc., only to have the New Moon come along and rob me of all the things that make me the person that I am. I lose my energy. I lose my drive. I lose my enthusiasm to do All-the-Things. And I become so utterly unable to concentrate that, well, that I Just Can’t Even…

Take this morning, for instance. It really took a fight with my internal self to even get out of bed and start the day. I felt so unrested (despite a full night’s sleep) and unable to concentrate, that I seriously debated making it a sick day. But ultimately, rationality kicked in. So I grabbed my bathrobe, stumbled downstairs to the desperate howling of the ever-starving kitties, and began my breakfast routine. Making an egg scramble just seemed Way Too Hard to do today, so I went for something easier – oatmeal. You can’t get much easier than that, right?

Well, it wasn’t until I sat down to read the morning paper that I realized I messed breakfast up. I forgot to add sweetener. I forgot to add raisins. I didn’t add cinnamon. I made… oatpaste.


I absolutely hate it when I can’t brain! As the morning progresses, I can start to feel a wee bit of my sharpness returning (which I would expect now that the new moon has passed). But man! Each month seems to get just a wee bit worse. It’s almost like an early-prelude to senility. But I have gone through this sort of a thing for as long as I can remember.

I know that women cycle, so this question is directed just to the men out there. Guys – do any of the rest of you go through this? Do any of you bounce on the full moon but get depressed or lethargic or feel dain-brammaged (or any combination of the above) on the new moon? If you haven’t really ever thought about it, try to note it. See if you go through this as well. I can’t believe I’m alone in this.

Plan Kidnapping

Posted on 2015.04.16 at 12:56
Some might call me uncompromising. Others may say stubborn. And yet others may say I am non-social or just not chillaxed enough. Personally I disagree, but not strongly enough to argue about it. If that is what someone is going to think, then I can’t change that. But when it comes down to it, I do NOT appreciate it when somebody kidnaps my plans.

I’m sure you must know what I mean when I refer to “Plan Kidnapping”. That is what happens when you make a plan and ask someone else if they want to participate in the already-established-plan, and the person then proceeds to actively alter your plan without your buy in. Still confused? OK, let me provide an example.

Let’s say that I have Sunday evening free. Paul is out of town and that means I can finally see that movie that I have wanted to see that he would never be interested in. For my schedule, the 7:00pm showing is perfect. And it just happens to be showing nearby. So I call a friend of mine to ask if he also wants to go. That friend says it sounds like fun, but wants to also invite other people. Over time, the plan begins to change. The other friends also want to go to a movie, but they don’t want to travel so far and recommend a theater closer to where the majority of them (who were not involved in the original plan) happen to be. Well, because that theater isn’t close to me, I won’t make it to that theater on time. So they suggest doing the later showing (which is not what I wanted to do). Oh, and did I mention that the movie I wanted to see in the first place isn’t showing later? So they instead suggest that we watch a different movie.

Um… NO! I didn’t WANT to travel far! I didn’t WANT to stay out late! I didn’t WANT to see that other movie. What DID I want? I wanted to see the movie I initially proposed in the plan whether anybody else wanted to go with me or not. An alternative plan was never on the table. Frankly, it was a yes or no question. Do you want to meet me at a particular place and a particular time to see a particular movie? If you don’t want to, that is 100% fine. Really it is. I don’t even mind if you want to list POSSIBLE alternatives if I so choose. But to take it upon yourself to start changing the plan that I proposed without regard to what I wanted in the first place? Oh HAYULLLL no!

When people do things like this, I don’t think they are intentionally being rude. But MAN do they push my buttons! It is just like the person who sees me working diligently on a particular project, comes over to stand near and then out of nowhere offers up their opinion in the form of, “Ya know what you should do? You should….” I swear that make my blood BOIL, and it takes almost everything I’ve got to keep from turning around and telling the know-it-all, “No, but I know what YOU should do! You should keep your suggestions to yourself unless I ASK you what you think I should do on MY project.”

“But Joe,” you might be thinking. “That person is just trying to help.” Yes. I know. I get that. And I know a lot of people who consider themselves “helpful”. But frankly, I know a lot of people whose “help” is anything but. And there comes a point where it is not incumbent upon me to be polite when 99.9% of the time, the know-it-all-who-always-tries-to-insert-themselves-into-my-project doesn’t know what he or she is talking about, and is anything but cute or funny or helpful.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate good advice. And it isn’t that I don’t like to socialize or even compromise on social activities. But there is a time and place for everything. Sometimes, the priority is socializing. I don’t care what we do or where we go – the focus is on us all hanging out together. But then there are times where the focus is the particular plan, whether other people are involved or not. And part of being a socially-adjusted person is knowing the difference. Unfortunately, some of the people I know have not made that leap yet. And yes, it drives me NUTS!

I try my best to be polite in these situations and to spell out the difference if the blundering person is Just Not Getting It. But sometimes when they don’t pick up on the first clue, or the second or the third; I have little choice but to pull out the clue-by-four.

- NO, I do NOT want your input on this project, thank you very much. It isn’t a group project. It is my project. But thank you for your interest.

- NO, I do NOT want to dine at a different restaurant! I referenced this particular one for a reason. And if you don’t want to eat there, that’s fine. I’ll just see you later.

- NO, I do NOT want to change our manageable group of 4 to a larger and more difficult to cat-herd group of 10. Yes, we are all friends. But we do not all need to be joined at the hip, or my phobia of larger groups is going to come out and I will either need to medicate myself or I will start snapping at people as I fight off a panic attack.

Sorry if this sounds rude, but again, if you didn’t pick up on the first several clues, then I have little choice but to really spell it out.

Don’t kidnap my plans!


Posted on 2015.04.13 at 12:49

It sounds like something you say when you have just finished pouring yourself a perfect cup of coffee and you realize that you are out of creamer. But no, kittens. Pahrump is actually a place in Nevada, as I discovered this past weekend as I headed to Starkhafn to celebrate their baronial anniversary.

Heading out mid-morning on Friday, my journey took me northeast for a unique trip through the desert and Death Valley. While the journey does indeed make me a little bit nervous, at least this was the best time of year to go – the outdoor temperature did not rise above 80, and I hit absolutely NO traffic heading out. The desert has such a crazy stark beauty. On the one hand, it seems so lifeless – stretches and stretches of rock and sand just like the deserts of a Star Wars filming. But on the other hand, there is a serene beauty to an area not touched by people, and just left in its natural bleakness. The strata of the rock outcroppings and jagged mountains made for a never-ending plein air portrait as I wended my way to the event.

Quite literally just as one exits Death Valley, there is Pahrump in all of its dusty glory. And there, just as the map showed, I found the park/community center where the event would be held. Throughout the course of the day, the people of Starkhafn simply could not be more hospitable or more kind. Everyone greeted me with a smile, and offered help when and where it looked like I needed it. As for me, once I got set up, I almost felt a little uncomfortable – I didn’t have anything that I HAD to do – which is exceedingly rare nowadays. But on the other hand, I didn’t have anything I HAD to do! So I cracked open the cooler and commenced to “hydrating”.

Throughout the course of the event, I found myself laughing so hard at the rapid-fire stories and one-liners of my friends that my abdomen hurt! And despite the nighttime chill, there’s something about sitting around a fire, while wearing a cloak and toasting with Barenjaeger that life is just at its finest.

I’m very happy that I got to attend the event, and regret that the calendar just doesn’t allow for enough visits. Too many places I want to be with too little time to do them all. Thank you everybody in Starkhafn! You made for a very fun time!

Humor Barbs

Posted on 2015.04.02 at 12:45
I realize that I am navigating some potentially dangerous waters here, but I have something I need to just get off my chest right now. I’m gonna take a little break from all the politics going on in the US right now and vent about something personal.

I have a quirky sense of humor. I know it. I own it. And to be honest, I really like it! It is one of my qualities that I am actually pretty pleased with. Just like any class-clown out there, there are times that my puns or jokes make the audience laugh (while some uptight critic rolls his or her eyes in annoyance), while at other times the joke falls flat (but somebody in the back corner who really was the intended recipient laughs his ass off). OK, fine. Just as one cannot please all the people all the time, not every off-the-cuff comment is going to be gold. But they are always intended to make people laugh.

I consider my sense of humor to be “snarky”. Now… what does that word actually mean? To me, it just means mischievous. Sometimes it is more deadpan, but often it is just playful and impish. But never, never, NEVER is my intent to use humor to be mean or hurtful! If I have something unpleasant to say, I’m not going to mask it with humor. I will say what needs to be said directly to the face of the person that I want to say it to. And that is really the point of this post. Why doesn’t everybody do that?

Now, before I go any further, I want to make something very clear. I am NOT writing this about any one particular person or about any one particular instance. This is just something I have run into from time to time in my life, and it annoys the crap out of me! It doesn’t happen a lot. It’s pretty rare, actually. But when it does happen (again), it feels like an old wound being reopened, and I get really annoyed.

Every now and again, I run into somebody who appears to be just as playful in their humor as I am. So we trade barbs. Just like bratty siblings, “Bob” will say something snarky to me, and I will respond in-kind. In a lot of ways, I think that such exchanges are healthy. They help people who are overly-sensitive (speaking as a former fat kid cry-baby here!) to become a little less sensitive to words (which no matter what anyone says do NOT break bones like sticks and stones). But I digress. Back to Bob…

The exchanges with Bob go back and forth, and I don’t think anything of it other than to snicker at Bob’s zingers and to try and come up with something clever in response. This is all fine. But then every now and then, something Bob says crosses the line in my mind. So what should I do? Rather than go into attack-mode, I contact Bob rather seriously and just ask him what’s up? Was he just being playful? Or did he really mean to cross the line in an attack? The vast majority of times, it was just playfulness or a misunderstanding and all is good. We take a time-out and then go back to our relationship the next day. Exchanges like this are, in my opinion, actually healthy. They help two people to figure out the lines and boundaries for their relationship.

“So Guppyman… what’s the problem?” you are probably wondering.

The problem is when Bob (who has been playful with his humor with me for ages) all of a sudden goes into full-on attack mode. After I pull him aside to ask what is going on, I find out that all along he has been upset or angry at my humor thinking (mistakenly) that I was seriously and maliciously making fun of him or attacking him or being passive-aggressive towards him.


I don’t know what is worse:

A. the fact that Bob has been so passive-aggressive as to be saying half-kidding/half-serious things about me either privately or publicly;
B. that Bob (who has known me long enough to know that I’m NOT a bad guy) actually views me as being an intentionally hurtful person; or
C. that Bob is being a complete hypocrite! After all, he was upset thinking that I was intentionally trying to upset him by throwing barbs. So what does he do in response? The very thing that he has accused me of doing. AAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!!!

Seriously, I do not consider myself a confrontational person whatsoever. But if I am unsure about someone’s intentions or behavior, I WILL pull that person aside (privately) to find out what is going on. I cannot believe that some people just can’t or won’t show me the same courtesy. What are we – seven years old? When an adult becomes annoyed or upset by the actions of another adult; or even questions the actions of the other adult, the proper thing to do is to reach out to that other adult to see if there is perhaps some misunderstanding. In my experience, the vast, vast, VAST majority of times, it really IS just a misunderstanding. And by identifying it right then and there, it prevents what could become a very unnecessary Great Big Huge fight later on that might even end the friendship and make others feel like they need to draw lines in the sand. Is that always the easiest thing to do? No. But it is the RIGHT thing to do. It is the RESPECTFUL thing to do. And it is the adult thing to do.

I do not make excuses for my actions. I own them. I recognize that regardless of my intentions, sometimes the words that I use might result in someone feeling hurt or picked on. After all, Bob cannot help how he feels when he hears my words. My INTENT is to make him laugh. But who knows? Maybe without meaning to, I will strike a negative cord with him that triggers some deep-seated insecurity. If Bob comes to me and talks to me about it, I do my best to have a grown-up conversation with him and resolve the situation. After all, if my original intent was to make Bob laugh, obviously I will want to turn that frown upside down as quickly as possible. But if Bob does the wrong thing and decides to intentionally inflict upset upon me, I’m not going to be as willing to be the rational and calm one – especially for a problem that he is actually creating.

To the Bobs that I have run into in my life. Act your age! If you have a problem with me or with anybody else in your life for that matter, talk to them like a grown-up. If you want to work with me to problem-solve, I’ll work with you. But if you are more interesting in creating drama where there is none, I’m just going to change the channel. I’m a busy man. I am loved. I have a lot going on in my life. I know a lot of people and lead a fantastic life. I simply don’t have time or interest to buy into your seven-year-old behavior.

I left being seven behind forty years ago.

The Organicals Haunt my Dreams

Posted on 2015.03.30 at 12:54
I don’t know if it was the flu medicine, an overactive imagination while I was stuck cooped up all weekend, or if it is just my own natural bizarre brain, but…


While I have never actually been in a grocery store in Portland, I am pretty sure that that is exactly where my hubby and I were. Paul and I were grocery shopping. But the situation was odd. Since Portland is, well, weird – they naturally had a ban on plastic bags in the grocery store. OK. No problem. But as part of their metal recycling and earth-consciousness program, they also didn’t allow shopping carts. So everybody was driving through the store in little cars. This didn’t seem to be a problem for most people, who were zipping along in these little itty-bitty electric smart-cars. But no matter where we turned, we got really dirty looks as our 1972 VW Beetle (don’t ask me why!) was belching thick black nasty smoke everywhere we went.

I was driving, and I was terrified because our car was wider than most, and I was afraid that the side-mirror (held on by duct tape and love beads), would knock over one of the displays. Of course, it really didn’t matter much because we already managed to annoy the crap out of every tree-hugging, earth-loving organical who was shopping/driving around the store.

Next, enter “Angry Woman”.

Angry Woman was this rabid feminist/environmentalist who was absolutely furious with – well - everybody for destroying the planet, not juicing enough, and wearing clothes made of fiber other than hemp. She had the coolest little space-age electric smart-car, and she tore through that store like Speed Racer. Oh, did I mention that in my dream she was played by Sarah Silverman?

Paul kept reading through the grocery list, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Everybody around us seemed so angry because our little Bug was making so much smoke, and I didn’t blame them. Oh, the shopping lanes also started getting smaller and smaller. Finally, I stopped the car, turned it off, and told Paul that out of respect to everybody we really should just push it out of the store rather than pollute the air more. OK. No problem. How hard is it to push a VW Bug through a grocery store? It worked fine up until we neared the exit when we realized that all of the aisles were just too small for us to fit through. Upset, frustrated, and fighting back tears, I just yelled at the person behind me honking his horn because we couldn’t move.

Just then, a voice came over the intercom stating that there was an emotional meltdown going on in Aisle Three, and that a hug-session was needed. So slowly, all the hippy-dippy shoppers got all doe-eyed and started moving towards me for a big hug session. It was cute until I realized they all had a super-glazed look in their eyes. Wait… were they hippies? Or zombies? The next thing I heard was somebody saying, “braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains…. Natural, organic, and pesticide-free.”

The alarm clock woke me, and I said out loud to nobody in particular, “What to the ever lovin’ f*%& was THAT all about?”

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