8/27/2008

Giving Up...

There come times when you begin to wonder whether having a procedure like a transplant was really just a cruel joke. What I mean is, there are times recently when I truly feel that I was meant to die and that by cheating death with a transplant I've now gathered a great deal of bad karma or bad luck.

For months I've been trying to find a job because it's impossible to live on Social Security Disability. So far I've gotten two interviews for legitimate jobs and a number of "emails" for scam jobs.

Finally, I was up for a position with New Life Society which works to help improve awareness of organ donation and assist those awaiting transplant and after transplant. The job involved speaking to school groups about donation and presenting a PowerPoint presentation and taking questions. All things I've done before and are very good at doing.

I went last week for an interview and was told they would let me know something on Monday. Monday came and went with no phone call so I knew that this job had also gone to someone else but I kept hoping. Today I got a little card in the mail telling me I wasn't "chosen" for this project. Despite the fact I've been a corporate trainer, have years of experience working with school groups for living history, and superior computer skills including working with PowerPoint presentations. Still, they managed to find not one other person better qualified than me (supposedly) but 8. Yes, they found 8 people with more experience than corporate trainer, school presenter, computer support, content creation, and public speaking. Somehow, I don't think they really did. If they are anything like places back East the minute the catch on to the fact I am Gay they immediately rule me out for a program like this dealing with public schools. I have a feeling that was the root cause.

So, right now I have no idea what to do. I send out as many as 10 resumes and applications a day. We can't make it on what we have now and I'm really concerned that moving to Arizona was a major mistake. At least back East I knew people and could at least maybe get part time work with friends or something. Here, there's nothing. No one wants to hire someone who's been out of work for 3 years.

Today, a transplant feels like a cruel joke, especially when you aren't even good enough for a transplant program to hire you despite your qualifications. Fate - funny thing - save your life then make it miserable and completely destroy your self esteem and peace of mind.

8/25/2008

Dittohead for President

8/22/2008

Really, a Fake Bigfoot?

I don't usually depart my realm of dealing strictly with the paranormal world to touch on cryptozoology, but recent events in the Bigfoot hoax have made me raise an eyebrow.

As we all know by now, two guys in Georgia claimed to have the body of a Bigfoot on ice. They sold it to some Las Vegas promoter who then thawed out the body which turned out to be... wait for it... a fake. They've now disappeared with his money and he's all in an uproar.

I don't move in the crypto circles so I don't know the players in all this. But an article today at Unexplained Mysteries caught my eye. However, it was the comments following the article by readers that really made me do a double take.

No one commenting seemed to get the obvious facts. Rather, they were all in line with "this guy's done that same kind of thing himself, he deserves to get taken" or "he's only suing them to salvage what little reputation he has."

None of the crypto fans there seemed the least bit concerned that this fraud had caught national attention and severely damaged their reputations as well as this promoters. When the general public sees the hype and hoopla of this and it turns out to be a fake they assume that the whole pursuit of cryptozoology is a field fraught with scammers and frauds.

The facts of this are clear. When someone claims to have a "Bigfoot body" and wants to sell it for tens of thousands of dollars to the highest bidder it might be a good idea to leave your wallet at home. Any normal person would turn over such an item to a zoo, university or natural history museum in hopes of discovering what it really might be. A scam artist will, of course, go looking for someone willing to shell out cash for their costume store monkey suite encased in ice.

When I first heard about two Bubbas from the backwoods selling this thing I pretty much assumed, rightly, that it was an utter fake. I didn't need to see an in depth analysis of photographs and facial topography as compared to commercially available suits. I didn't need hair analysis or DNA. I'm from South Carolina. When two Bubbas from Georgia sell a big monkey for $50K to a Yankee... I pretty much know which way the wind is blowing.

So, instead of the crypto folks saying the buyer got what he deserved, maybe it would be a better plan to work up a little righteous indignation themselves at these guys for sullying their reputations as researchers in the field.

As for me, I'll just roll my eyes and wonder at what point the logic train jumped the tracks on this one.

8/21/2008

Desert Honky Tonk - Book Review

DESERT HONKYTONK DESERT HONKYTONK by Roger A. Bruns

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book in preparation for an investigation in Tombstone. I wasn't sure where to begin in my research since I am new to the area and Western history was never my forte. My background in Colonial American history.

Nevertheless, I picked up this book at the my library and was thoroughly thrilled. It is well written with a fast pace. The details are balanced and Brun dispels many of the myths surrounding not only the Bird Cage Theater but Tombstone as well.

I would very much recommend this to anyone who needs an antidote to the tour guide claptrap sold as fact in Tombstone!

View all my reviews.

8/16/2008

Olympic Sized Poor Sportsmanship


Who said poor sportsmanship was confined to soccer moms and football hooligans? Mike Cavic, an American swimming for Serbia showed poor sportsmanship in his loss to Michael Phelps.

Phelps won the race by the slimmest of margins, beating Cavic by only .01 of a second. Yet, immediately Cavic's coach filed a challenge saying the clock was broken. So, the committee looked at the clock and determined it wasn't broken. Then they looked at the video down to a speed of 1/10,000th of a second. They determined that Phelps had indeed touched the wall before Cavic and the gold medal - and history were his.

While the challenge might have been legitimate it was Cavic's behavior afterwards which shows true unsportsmanlike conduct. Before the event he had made some wild boasts about beating Phelps. He had even said Phelps should loose because he wasn't "good for swimming" because he won so much. Sour grapes? Sounds like it.

Later, Cavic was asked if Phelps was, indeed, the gold-medal winner.

Said Cavic: "Is Michael Phelps the gold-medal winner? If we got to do this again, I would win it."

Or, he might just make you look like a complete idiot instead of making you seem like you're almost as good.

Let's see how a true sportsman operates. In the last Olympics Michael Phelps could have tied this record. Instead, he gave up his place on the relay to another swimmer so that person could receive at least one gold medal for the games! Now, that's a team player.

What does Cavic do? Challenge the results then when that doesn't go his way he follows it up with smack talk and petulance.

What a loser in every sense of the word. Shut up and go home, you wuss, you weren't good enough to swim for the USA where you live and train and you weren't good enough to beat the best. Maybe it's time you used that Serbian passport and went there to eat those sour grapes.

8/15/2008

EMBRACE : Barack Obama campaign ad

Brahms' Intermezzo Op118 No2

What Happened at the Arizona Senate - trailer

A few weeks ago the Arizona Legislature showed us exactly what the decline of Democracy looks like. This happened when the Speaker of the House cut off the microphones of two people debating a property tax bill and turned on the microphone of a religious zealot in the pay of the Catholic Church so he could introduce a bill against GLBT citizens and they could pass it while a Right Wing majority was in the room.

Truly one of the darkest moments in American Democracy.

8/09/2008

The Memory of a Kiss

For the past year nostalgia has played a rather increasingly large role in my life. Sometimes I wonder if the brushes with death over the past couple years have made me want to recapture some of my youth. Michael has even joined my trips down memory lane since we share similar tastes in music, meaning that although we have a 10 year age difference the music I listened to in my youth was actually the music he listened to in his youth.

I suppose there are times when I do want to reclaim those years and maybe be a little wilder. For the most part I was a very good kid until I was in my 20's. Since I was aware that I was Gay as early as Junior High and was much too gay to repress it and date girls, I was pretty much a loner. I did have one friend I grew up with who was also Gay (actually of the six kids in my neighborhood group three of us turned out to be Gay). He and I did carry on something of an on again/off again affair during our high school and early college days. But still, no one knew about that at all. To the world I was the epitome of the studious almost asexual chubby teenage guy.

I didn't drink until I was a Senior in high school. I didn't smoke weed until I was out of high school and even then it was quite rare and much like Bill Clinton I rarely inhaled. The few times I did try to really puff I ended up getting a weird headachy feeling or coughing and everyone laughing.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and redo some of that stuff. Be a little more wild. I was always home at the appropriate hour, never did anything to get into trouble, and basically had a pretty boring existence. Thinking back after almost dying I sometimes feel that I missed out on some experiences. I'm not saying I would want to go back and do anything harmful to anyone - just be a little more of a rebel.

Later on in my 20's I did become a bit more rebellious but by then it was too late. Like a lot of Gay men I had my high school rebellion when I was about 22 because I was finally out of the closet to everyone and really let go. Of course, I went overboard then and had to constantly try to balance rebellion with a career. That's no fun. It's really hard to be a bad ass rebel when you're wearing a beeper and are on call for traumas so you can't drink alcohol. Just doesn't work.

So, maybe it's just that feeling that has been driving me to revisit music, films, and the culture of the 70's and early 80's. Part of that was renting Kissology Volume 1 the other day. This DVD set chronicles the band Kiss from its formation in 1972 through today. I don't much care what happened after '80 because by then I was over them. But, from '76 to '79 - wow, I couldn't get enough of Kiss.

My favorite member of the band was the lead guitarist Ace Frehley. I coveted Ace's Gibson Les Paul. As a kid my neighborhood friends and I would do complete Kiss concerts in my backyard. We constructed a full stage from scrap lumber found around the neighborhood. We even had stairs that went up to an elevated second stage above the first. We set up our "drums" there. The "drums" consisted of a variety of empty containers, boxes, and whatever was at hand.

My friend, Darvin, was a fan of Paul Stanley so he took that role in our little Kiss cover band. Gene and Peter were handled by whomever happened to be around and wanted to play. Usually it ended up being a couple of the girls. But, we did have Jeff who liked to be Gene Simmons a lot and had the tongue thing down pretty good.

Once everything was in place we turned on my record player with the speakers perched in my bedroom window and rocked out. At that time in my life I was extremely skinny and was fully capable of doing Ace's moves laying back to play solos. Darvin had Paul's jumps and dance moves down too.

Thinking back it was quite hilarious and I wish we had movies from that time. One day I was going through things that belonged to one of my brothers and discovered the greatest Kiss Cover Band accessory in the history of mankind - black leather thigh high 5 inch high platform shoes! I drug those suckers out of that box and we fought over who got to wear them for each "performance". I'm amazed that we didn't break our necks dancing around at 11 years old in those things. Maybe, though, that should have been a clue as to how many of us were going to turn out Gay. We took to those things like ducks to water.

For Christmas in 1977 I got an amazing gift from my brother. This was, incidentally, the same brother who had unknowingly given me the gift of the platform boots already. Anyway, for Christmas that year he presented me with tickets to see Kiss live at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, SC. I also got one of those cool velvet pictures you paint in with magic markers of the cover of "Rock 'n' Roll Over". Cleaned up that Christmas!

January 6, 1978 we went to see Kiss in Columbia. Also going was my other much older brother's stepson (same age I am). I should note here that obviously this would not be the stepson of the same brother who owned black leather thigh high 5 inch platform boots. Unfortunately, we were also taking my biological nephew as well. He was 8 at the time. Not exactly the age to go see Kiss. Not that we were mature adults either, but they were "our" band. Of course, because I am 14 years younger than my next sibling I had grown up with a nephew who was more like a kid brother. What I had he had. I had Kiss tickets, he had Kiss tickets.

So, off to the concert we go, when we arrive we're sitting behind the stage almost. Actually it was pretty neat because I could look right down on the band and when they went backstage to touch up makeup I could see them as well. They even tossed their towels up our way (not quite far enough for me though). This was also the first time I'd ever smelled pot. I wouldn't know until much later what that smell was though.

After the first set my 8 year old nephew was crying to go home. He was tired, it was too loud, on and on. After all, what did they expect? He was 8, for crying out loud! So, instead of staying for the encores which went on for another two hours almost as my friends at school informed me the next day, we went home early. My one and only real rock concert until I was an adult (sorry, Rick Springfield and the Beach Boys in High School do NOT count) - anyway my one real rock concert and I have to leave early. No concert T-shirt, no great memories of hearing all the songs off the last album as well as the all the rest, just a long cold ride home.

Another one of those things that I really wish I could have experienced in its fullness. That's also the reason I wanted to watch the DVD the other day.

So I put it in and realized I'd forgotten in 28 years or so just how brutal their music was. Ace was a pretty good guitarist. Peter was a pretty good drummer. Paul was not a great singer and Gene Simmons was a showman and little else. I guess, though, I was trying to recapture that feeling of hearing them start playing at the Coliseum, that tingle of excitement and feeling that this was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. Unfortunately, you don't get to recapture those feelings sitting in your living room watching a DVD. By the end of it I had begun to wonder what I'd ever seen in them in the first place other than the theatrics.

Still, despite how much I'd love to be able to redo that memory it's still one of the greatest I have. I can see the whole scene in amazing detail 30 years later. I can still see Gene Simmons walk backstage during a drum solo by Peter Criss to fix his makeup and get a drink of water. I can see him in that spike studded outfit with the dragon boots raise his hand to us with the index and little fingers extended. I can see him dry his hair with a towel and then toss it to some people sitting a few rows down from us. I can see the faces of the crowd in front of me and I can remember thinking that this is almost the view of the audience that the band has. I remember hearing Ace Frehley's solo on Black Diamond and watching him get down on the floor and lean back into it. I can remember feeling like the coolest person on earth just to be in that crowd.

Somehow that memory seems much better than actually watching them perform again. Strange...

8/08/2008

Creating News

Jon Stewart commented during an interview recently that news organizations had gone from reporting news to simply speculating about news. The anchors and talking heads like to tell us they are doing "news analysis" but really, are they?

Let's look at the news of John Edwards affair. I read the first story and it detailed the facts in the case. John Edwards had an affair, he lied about the affair (shocking, eh), then he comes clean about the affair and one of his staffers tried to pay off the mistress to keep quiet. Pretty simple and pretty straightforward. Happens to lots of people, not just politicians.

Then, I wondered why the page was so long for such a short factual story. Then I figured it out. After the facts the "reporters" had to give us their "analysis" of the situation. They began to speculate about how it would affect Obama, what he would do about it, should John Edwards be kicked out of the convention, what would happen if they did, if they didn't. By the time I got to the bottom I was expecting someone to begin to speculate on why the sky was blue.

It was idiotic. It was not news in any way shape or form. They had reported the story in three paragraphs. Every paragraph after that they were no longer reporting but trying, desperately, to make news. They were manufacturing things out of hearsay, speculation, leading questions, and finally resorting to opinion polls on websites. It was a farce.

The news media who purposely misled us into a war by hanging on every word of a corrupt President and refusing to ask a question seems to fancy themselves Woodward and Bernstein when it comes to a rather attractive rich guy having a fling. News flash guys... it's not news to anyone who is aware of how the world works.

8/04/2008

Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of my two favorite books of all time. TKAM along with The Lords of Discipline reflects my own love-hate relationship with my native part of America. Both books tend to be brutally honest about the incipient racism that still permeates the South.

However, on a deeper level Lee challenges her readers to evaluate their own perspective and level of compassion. One of my favorite quotes about being true to your own conscience comes from this work.

In many ways I consider this a primer for Conroy's work since Lee talks to us about recognizing our own conscience and beginning to act with compassion. Conroy in The Lords of Discipline take us to the next step and challenge us to look at that compassion and root out any selfish aims in acting on it.

View all my reviews.

Shaman's Hand - August 3, 2008

8/01/2008

The Robber Barons Live

A giant company held by a single small family gathers it's employees together and tells them if a certain candidate they don't like is elected President they will all be thrown out of work. In short, vote like we say and work for our candidate or you'll be out on the street come the Wednesday after the election.

Sound like a scene from the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age? You might think so, but this is what is happening right now at Wal-Mart. Employees and managers are being told if Obama is elected they'll be forced to cut jobs and these people stand to be out of work unless John McCain is elected instead. The tacit order - don't vote for Obama and get your butt out and campaign for McCain!

Maybe the best thing that could happen in this country is for Wal-Mart to be outlawed somehow. Their low prices are built on the backs of small business and the taxpayers. Now they're going to insinuate themselves between their employees and the voting booth!

Our Lady of Mary Jane

Here's a novel thought: start a church and use Marijuana as a sacrament. Now, according to all the hands off religion conservatives there should be nothing anyone could do about it, right?

Wrong. The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that there is no religious right to possess marijuana even if it is used in a sacramental nature in a church. They based their ruling on the theory that Religious Freedom is not Freedom of Action.

They said the state has the power to totally ban possession of the drug because of its known harmful nature.

But the judges left the door open to considering future arguments about the religious freedom to use marijuana.

They said, however, a defendant would have to prove that the drug is not as dangerous as the government suggests, something that did not occur here.
How interesting. The defendant must prove that marijuana is not harmful rather than the state proving beyond reasonable doubt that it is and as anyone can tell you that "evidence" is far from scientific and an example of a result being paid for in advance with grant money.


Yet, here's what I don't understand. Every Sunday morning in churches across the state minors are given alcohol. Supposedly this is a religious rite connected to "Holy Communion". But the strange thing is, alcohol is also harmful, especially to children and Arizona like so many states makes serving alcohol in any quantity to minors a crime.

So, if these guys can't say marijuana is a sacrament how come there aren't priests all over the state rounded up every week for breaking the law?

Guess, this, like all things is a case of not having enough clout. After all, the Roman Catholic church is still in business after flaunting laws against child abuse and molestation for years. We just sort of look the other way on all that.

Hypocrisy... the foundation of religion and its relationship with the law in America.

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