Thursday, June 14, 2007

Massachusetts: My Homo Sweet Homo

1) I love this state.

2) I am happy that the fact that one is born gay and should not be discriminated against because of it is slowly being more accepted and understood.

3) To the other side: we did not strong-arm anyone. The people did vote. By contacting their representatives. As it should be.

4) There are far more important things we can now focus on like teen violence, poverty, health care, taxes, the economy.

5) May those brought here by their hatred for me go back to their own states and worry about their own morality.

6) Thank you Massachusetts. Leading the way for the nation, once again.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Think My Cat Has A Chair Problem

Four days ago my house-mate moved out and left us his two living room chairs. I put them in the office.

Our cat has not left those chairs in four days. She gets up to eat, shit, and goes back to sleep on them. I moved one into the bedroom to try to get her to sleep with us again, but she just started sleeping on the other one still in the office.

What the hell?

She used to sleep with us. She used to get up and say hi when we got home. She used to hang out in whatever room we were in. But now she just glances at us, rolls over, and goes back to sleep.

I'm jealous of a chair.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Book Game Thingy

So instead of doing the fifth line from the twenty third page of one book, I'm doing multiple books to see how they look together a la The Yak Shaver.

Here's what I got:

I lingered in that tenement, keeping my ears alert to conversations, drifting off to other rooms. That girl was drained. We had to dash back for fear of the filth splashing on our platties, but splussshhhh and glolp she went, down and lovely. "I have more than this, more than you can see: talent, perhaps, and humor of a sort, and I'm a lady and I have pride and affection and delicacy and a certain clear view of life that might make a man satisfied and productive and happy; there's more than you think when you look at me." The face in the motor car will then be known. I concentrated on running away, waiting for the right moment. This pattern of presentation may have certain advantages, and the personality in the wings remains the dominant reality. "Subject and object and the nature of reality," Andrew had said. A couple of the privates in my platoon actually couldn't take it anymore and started breaking down in tears on the first day. For that day we all must labour, though we die before it break; cows and horses, geese and turkeys, all must toil for freedom's sake. I thought we were gentlemen.

In order:

Fade - Robert Cormier
Welcome to the Monkey House - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
The Lottery - Shirley Jackson
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
Stone Butch Blues - Leslie Feinberg
City of Wrong: A Friday in Jerusalem - M. Kamel Hussein
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
My War: Killing Time in Iraq - Colby Buzzell
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead - Tom Stoppard

(my apologies to my fiancee for putting the books back in the wrong places. I'm sure there is some order to that shelf, I just can't figure out what it is.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I'm working on my final assignment for my Aztec class and I had to write an Aztec word I heard pronounced in a lecture. It is pronounced "Shou-co-ot" but it is spelled Xiuhcoatl.

This has bothered me for a really long time: if you're translating a language that does not use the Latin alphabet into Latin writing, why would there be silent letters? Why wouldn't it be spelled out phonetically?

If the language were already written in our alphabet there would be reasons for silent letters (pronunciation changes over time, etc.) but if you're taking a completely foreign language and writing it in your own alphabet why not sound it out?

This was a real problem for me when I studied Tibet because their language is written in the Latin alphabet in such a way that what you see has absolutely nothing to do with how it is pronounced. To read it fluently you need to learn a very complicated set of rules that tell you which combinations of letters say what.

It's not even like we're trying to come up with symbols for sounds that we don't have in our language.

What gives?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

ERA All The Way!

Have you recently found yourself feeling the urge to read a good feminist diatribe? How about a good fifteenth-century French feminist diatribe?

Me neither. But I was assigned one. And my god it was worth reading.

A work that echoes the rhetoric skill of Plato and St. Augustine, but with the passion of Gloria Steinem, The Book of the City of Ladies is the story of the humble Christine (de Pizan) who while reading the great ancient authors' tirades against women is visited by Lady Reason, Lady Rectitude, and Lady Justice. These representatives of God answer questions like, "Why do men say that women make marriage miserable?" and "Is it true what men say that women like to be raped?" Yes, folks, she hits it home on all the tough subjects. From relating the story of the Amazons to Dido and Cleopatra, she sets the foundation of the City of Ladies one strong woman at a time. With her eloquent marriage advice (If you have a good husband, thank God; if you have a bad husband, pray to God) and noble goal of enlightening men while inspiring women, Christine de Pizan has really created a work of philosophic hilarity, brilliance, and balls.

I give it six stars out of five.

The Pillow Book of Bry Bryagon

I love spring. Every day - no matter what the season - I wake up between four and six a.m. and try to get back to sleep. In the spring I can open my window and listen to the dozens of different birds that live in our backyard. The air has that distinct fresh smell that reminds me of springs past. It lulls me back to sleep in the most comforting way. I wish the early mornings were springtime early mornings all year round.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My Gay Comrades

Last evening was the one year anniversary of my asking my Fiancee to marry me. I took her out to dinner at a fabulous little restaurant. We were seated next to a large table with a family of eight or ten celebrating what looked like their mother/grandmother's birthday. Sitting facing us was a woman in her mid-to-late-fifties with very short gray hair, a beige blazer and a red collared shirt. I poked my Fiancee, telling her to check out our lesbian friend (as I always do when I see "one of us" in public).

We forgot all about her as we enjoyed our amazing meal (mussels in a mustard wine sauce, duck for her, lamb for me), but as this woman's family filed out to leave she was the last in line. On her way out she stopped at our table, nodded and said "Evening, ladies" before following her wife out the door.

That is what I love about being gay. Gay men tip their hats to us when they walk by the coffee shop we're lounging at. Lesbians honk at us on the highway, waving excitedly. The butch girl who sweeps out the back of the tiny grocery store in Nowhere, Maine nods and says "how ya doin'?" The gay manager of the Au Bon Pain gives me extra bread for free with a wink. It's like being in a secret club - out of a room full of people only the gays are aware of the silent camaraderie.

It makes me feel like I'm not quite so alone when I drop my Fiancee's hand walking through the common because there are a bunch of guys hanging out by the basketball court. Like if that bitch in the Market Basket parking lot screaming "DYKE" at me really chases me, there will be people around to help. And most of all, like I don't just get snickered at in the mall for being recognized as gay. I get respect from the old school men and women out there who remember switching partners when the red light flashed and running from the cops when the door you had to knock on exactly five times got busted down. They look at us, young, in love, planning our wedding, with pride and pain and hope. I may still get spit on and told I can't see my wife in any hospital outside my state, but I've never gone through what they did.

As much as I fear losing all my rights to a nation-wide ban or on the Massachusetts ballot of '08, as much as I get gay bashed and live in fear of really being beaten while alone one night, I have to remember that from '69 to now, it has gotten better. It really has gotten better.

Of course, we still have a long, long way to go.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Note on Imus

The communication over this issue in all types of media is wonderful. I'm glad to see that America is outraged by racism. Suspend him if you want. But firing a man for saying something racist tells the world that a) he has the power to hurt people THAT MUCH with his stupid thoughtless words b) there is no forgiveness for thoughtless speech and c) there is no "recovering" from being labeled a racist.

Rather than allowing him to continue his show in a slightly new direction after learning the power of his words, reviewing the nature of humor and trying to choose his words better in the future, we're telling the world that if the general public decides you're racist, it's over. If that's the attitude out there, he might as well join the KKK because that's the only place he's going to get any support.

Ignore the Nutjob

If you broadcast a nutjob's manifesto after he murders people, don't you think other nutjobs are going to go for post-humus glory too?

Nutjobs should be ignored. It's the victims who matter.

Occasionally nutjobs lose their shit. Evil is tragic. We need to collectively focus on recovery from that evil.

I am sick and tired of people pushing their gun-control views on the world everytime something like this happens. Just because one nutjob does something horrible doesn't mean we should all lose the right to bear arms, nor does it mean we should all be armed to the teeth.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Sunday, April 08, 2007


Okay, two things:

1) The problem with college students changing their gender is not that they are too young (most trans people realize there's something "wrong" with them before or during puberty), it's that they are in an environment where they become tangled up in a very small, peer pressured community. Trans people feel like they need the surgery to prove themselves. Dress, act, be however you want. But realize that these things are permanent, and a penis or vagina is not going to make you happy, no matter how much you think it will "complete" you.

2) If you enroll in a women's college and realize you are a man, I appreciate the fact that you should be accepted and supported through this difficult transition. But how dare you graduate from a women's college? How dare you tell us to treat you like any other man and then use the fact that you were born with a vagina to go to whichever college you want? Choose. Be a man or don't. But to be a man at a women's college is to be a hypocrite and to take advantage of the institution that has accepted you and supported you. Become a man and then go to a college where men are accepted. But don't tell me you have any right whatsoever to graduate from Smith.

3) Transwomen going to Smith? Maybe. But we have to think the details of the admission procedures through a bit though. We have to figure out what requirements one must fulfill to be a woman.

Supply on Command

I would like to acknowledge the scholars whose work I am totally summarizing here: G. Urton, D. LaLone, T. LeVine, T. D'Altroy.

The Inca Empire was (as far as I know) unique in the world in that there was no major market system. LaLone has shown that there may have been a market economy on the outskirts of the empire, particularly in the north, but at the heart of Tawantinsuyu there was no major commercial system of exchange.

The Andes contain many different environmental zones, each with its own animals, plants, and resources. The way the Andean peoples exploited this environment was with the ayllu system. An ayllu is a family or clan group. Each group would have a "place of origin" where the family was centered, and would send small detachments of members off to live in a different environmental zone. At certain times in the year, groups living along the coastal desert, in the foothills, in the depths of the rain forest, and in the mountains would all gather in their place of origin to exchange their respective resources. Thus without money, without markets, and without bartering, each family is able to take full advantage of the varied terrain of the Andes.

Granted, there was some limited exchange of specialized goods, but ideally each ayllu was more or less autonomous. So how does one run an empire if everyone is self-sufficient? You control their labor.

When the Inca conquered a new territory, they divided up the land into three parts: that of the people, that of the state, and that of the state religion. The people were allowed to farm their land first, but then worked the land of the state and the land of the state religion. Storehouses for state goods and foodstuffs were built by the thousands all over the region, and were so full that they did not run out for more than twenty years after the Spanish invaded.

The interesting part: most of the goods never moved. When the army was in Chinchaysuyu, they lived on the local supplies of that district's storehouses. If they were in Antisuyu, they used those supplies. And when an area was rebellious, the state would take an entire ayllu from an area loyal to the Inca and move them hundreds of miles to "infiltrate" and settle in the rebellious territory. The Inca moved people rather than goods.*

I have never seen a system so "backwards" to our own economy (and that of the entire ancient "Old World"). The most amazing part: the Inca empire only existed for roughly a hundred years before the Spanish conquest. Their elaborate system of labor and population rotation was just getting started. We will never know if their continued expansion would have killed the market systems of the north or if they would have incorporated these systems into their empire.

*Not only did the rich and varied environment encourage this, the Inca did not use wheeled carts to transport things. Goods were carried on the backs of men or llamas, but mostly men. If the capital, Cuzco, needed specialized goods, they simply brought the craftsmen to Cuzco for a few months after the harvest was taken care of. People were easier to move than goods.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Remember when the bomb squads were called in for a glowing Moonanite? I just found this entry, which I forgot to publish. I was fighting with the Red Line that day (and looking under the seats for suspicious packages like everyone else). I wrote this a few days later.

I have read a few people's blog entries on this subject and must say a word or two.

1) I feel very safe in Boston as I think our bomb squads and city authorities can and will respond quickly and successfully to bomb threats.

2) I do not trust our ability to recognize a bomb in the first place and call the bomb squad.

3) Guerilla advertising walks the line between giving me what I want (twenty-somethings promoting ATHF last year gave me free stickers and a poster. I was happy) and being very freaky (companies should not be spray-painting fake art around the city). Art for the sake of advertising drains our souls. But then again, artists have always created what their patrons told them to.

4) Boston over-reacted. Big time. I don't think a LiteBrite flipping you off is very bomb like. But where were the people in the crowd who recognized it? Did NONE of the cops know this show? HELLO? Why was it not called off sooner?

5) The company should pay up and that should be the end of it.

6) Those hired to design a company's idea should not be held responsible for the idea.

7) The two guys talking about hair were brave to flip off the reporters and stupid to put themselves in question/more trouble. Ultimately it was an interesting comment on media interaction with individuals.

8) This has not exposed a generation gap, it has exposed the difference between people who laugh when the authorities chase something silly and those who scream when the authorities have been made a fool.

Ever see Wonder Showzen? They have a game called FUNNY! NOT FUNNY!

Image of Urr, flipping us off: FUNNY!

Image of Longwood Medical Center being evacuated: NOT FUNNY!

Why can't the situation contain both? Lessons for the authorities and lessons for stupid glowing middle fingers?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Feet and Faces

This evening the better half and I received a photo album belonging to her maternal grandfather. Among pictures of his youth and of his children's youth, there were pictures from his tour during WWII. There were pictures of the liberation of Buchenwald.

There is one photo that is haunting me. It is of a stack of skeleton-like bodies. We've all seen them; there are many in the history of the holocaust. Some bodies are facing the camera, others show only their feet.

What frightens me is that I see the humanity, I wonder about the life of, the people of whom I can only see the feet. In the state of starvation at death, the toes of these people were more real and more human than their faces. Their faces are all the same, all blank, all devoid of reality. But the feet - the toes, all different, the feet of all shapes and sizes - I can picture these feet when they were a year old and they sucked on their toes and when they were five and wore their fathers' shoes and when they were twelve and scrunched their toes up in the sand of a beach with their family...

If I were a poet I would write something that captures the wrong, upside-down-ness of the feet and the faces of these people. But I am not. I cannot adequately express this feeling. I can only sit with it. And try to tell you about it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Hard Part

In June I graduate. I receive my bachelor's degree. I attain the goal that has been ingrained in me since the day I was born.

My question:

and then what?

My entire life I have had a structured goal. First it was learning to share and passing kindergarten. Then it was learning to read. Then math. Then doing well in middle school so that I would get into the good high school classes. Then I did well in high school so I could get into college. Then I did well in college so I could get a good job. And that is where the structure ended.

I'm having trouble grasping the idea that this is the part where I From here on out I just try to pay my bills and live. I could do anything. I'm aiming to be a teacher, though my teaching friends and family have been making me think twice about the deteriorating public school system. But I can't just start teaching this fall, I'll be too busy getting married, finding a summer job (probably the same crap I've been doing for a while, depressing as that is) and then I'll sub or get an aide job in the fall, if things work out. But I really could do anything. Which is kind of scary.

My parents didn't figure out what they wanted to do when they grew up for a long time. My father got his bachelor's around 30, my mom worked her way through junior college, college, and at forty-one years old (with two kids, mind you) decided to go to law school. That means to be like my mother I have twenty years to figure out what to be when I grow up.

There is a phenomenon in my age group that I've noticed more and more lately: we all want to be the opposite of our baby boomer parents and have a career locked in at twenty five, own a house at thirty, and have a retirement planned - itineraries for our trips to Kenya at seventy - by thirty-five. Somewhere I read about a CEO lecturer who ran into college student after college student wanting to get their whole lives in line right now. He told them to chill out. The beauty (or curse, depending on perspective) of a capitalist society is that you can have fifteen careers during your lifetime, retire and have two more part-time. You can do anything. At any time. There really is no rush.

I keep telling myself this, but I'm still frightened by the idea that I'm going to "waste" years of my life doing something that I hate or that I will never be able to retire because I didn't plan enough. My future wife is older than me and the idea of working until I'm eighty and alone is really frightening.

But I keep coming back to my friends and family who have all had a few careers apiece and are stable, financially-secure-enough, and even - get this - happy with their careers.

I will chill out.
I will chill out.
I will chill out.

Life is an adventure, and it's time that I throw my head back and scream frigging