Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Pic of the Day


Vaccines

I got my first dose of the monkeypox vaccine yesterday. When the vaccine was first being distributed in Vermont, you could basically only get the vaccine if you had been exposed to monkeypox, although I always thought that would be too late, but there is obviously something I don’t understand in that logic. Recently, they started allowing all gay men to get to get the vaccine. In Vermont, the easiest place to get it is at Planned Parenthood, so that’s where I went yesterday. It was a really pleasant experience. Everyone was very nice and the shot did not hurt at all. The doctor who gave it to me was quite impressed that I watched and didn’t even flinch when she gave me the vaccine. Not only do I prick my finger every morning to check my blood glucose, but I’ve also become quite familiar with needles after all those Botox injections for my migraines.if I can take 38 shots all over my head and shoulders, I can take a little monkeypox vaccine.

My arm was a little sore, but not bad. I did have a headache, though whether that was from the vaccine or just my usual state of being, I’m not sure. Anyway, I was not feeling very well last night because of the headache, and I’m staying home today because I woke with a bad migraine. I’m very photosensitive today and basically can’t stand even the slightest amount of light this morning 

I go back in four weeks for the second dose. In the meantime, I need to get my flu shot and the new COVID booster. It seems like every time you turn around, you need another vaccine, but thank God for vaccines. Taking a shot, is much better than catching one of these diseases.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Pic of the Day

Two October Poems

October

By Robert Frost - 1874-1963

 

O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

To-morrow's wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

To-morrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow,

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know;

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away;

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes' sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—

For the grapes' sake along the wall.

 

In “October,” Robert Frost urges nature to slow down—before the leaves fall and the chilly weather begins. Frost has been hailed, and quite correctly in my opinion, as the “the poet of New England.” Like in many of his nature poems, Frost was inspired by New England’s beautiful scenery.

 

As with many of Frost’s poems, it is a simple and elegant poem which in this case describes a beautiful crisp October morning. With his usual graceful prose, Frost sets the scene of a quiet morning in early October, much like this morning was (though it was chilly at 27 degrees here). The air is silent but for the distant sound of crows.  He speaks of the ripened leaves of fall with their multitude of colors-green, red, gold, and brown. It is a simple scene rendered instantly familiar to anyone whose experienced New England in the fall.  You don’t have to look any further than that, but like all of Frost’s poems, it is more complex than simply setting a scene.

                   

In truth, October is a grimly solemn poem, dealing with topics far heavier than a mere fall morning. Simply put, October is about death, a fact that becomes uneasily apparent upon closer inspection. Frost offers us the first hint of this within the first few lines when he references the crows that may “form and go” tomorrow. This works in two different ways. First and foremost, it must be noted that the crows are specifically brought up in order to point out their oncoming departure. However, just as significant is the fact that Frost particularly noted that they were crows, birds that are associated with death.

 

This said, Frost primarily relies on the oncoming winter to represent death, something he then contrasts with day, which serves to represent life. Rather than setting the two as enemies, he is content to ask only that the morning “Begin the hours of this day slow” allowing him as much time as possible before the cold finality of winter sets in. 

 

The Native American poet Evalyn Callahan Shaw wrote a poem with the same title. It’s a popular name for poems. There is one by the African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar; another by Massachusetts native Helen Hunt Jackson who wrote a poem for each month; and Louise Glück, Poet Laureate of the United States from 2003-2004 also wrote a poem titled “October.” I am not going to use the ones by Dunbar, Jackson, or Glück, but I do want to include the one by Shaw. Evalyn (sometimes listed as Eva, Evelyn, or Jane Evylin) Callahan Shaw was born around 1861 and lived in Wagoner, Indian Territory. She was the daughter of Samuel Benton Callahan of the Creek Nation.

 

October

By Evalyn Callahan Shaw

 

October is the month that seems

All woven with midsummer dreams; 

She brings for us the golden days

That fill the air with smoky haze, 

She brings for us the lisping breeze

And wakes the gossips in the trees, 

Who whisper near the vacant nest 

Forsaken by its feathered guest. 

Now half the birds forget to sing, 

And half of them have taken wing, 

Before their pathway shall be lost

Beneath the gossamer of frost. 

Zigzag across the yellow sky, 

They rustle here and flutter there, 

Until the boughs hang chill and bare, 

What joy for us—what happiness 

Shall cheer the day the night shall bless? 

‘Tis hallowe’en, the very last 

Shall keep for us remembrance fast, 

When every child shall duck the head

To find the precious pippin red.

 

In Shaw’s “October,” she presents the month of October as “woven with midsummer dreams.” She says the month brings us “golden days,” “smoky haze,” the “lisping breeze,” and “gossips in the trees.” Shaw talks about how half of the birds have left while the other half forget to sing. For Shaw, October also represents the coming death of the year. The golden days of October give way to the boughs that “hang chill and bare.” But instead of ending with the death of the year, she speaks of the joy of Halloween with children bobbing for apples (the precious pippin red). For me, Shaw’s October is as beautifully written as Frost’s, but where Frost ends with him asking nature to slow down its march to the death of the year, Shaw ends with the joyous festivities of Halloween and children playing. Personally, I like them both. I love a melodic poem that rhymes, and both of these do that, but Shaw’s seem a bit more optimistic in its ending.

Monday, October 3, 2022

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Bros Review

As I mentioned on Friday, I went to see Bros, “A Boy Meets Bro Love Story,” as the tagline says. The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes was that “Bros marks a step forward in rom-com representation -- and just as importantly, it's a whole bunch of fun to watch.” I wouldn’t go that far. It was worth it to see Luke Macfarlane, who I love as an actor. If you look at his Instagram, you’ll see he’s a bit of a “gay bro” in real life. There were certainly parts that were fun, but there was a whole lot of angry speechmaking by Billy Eichner’s character. A little bit of an angry rant on occasion can be funny, but not when it’s 75 percent of the movie. I realize it’s the part he was playing, but give it a rest. I was really hoping for a lighthearted romantic comedy. Yes, it should have a little angst, but that should be between the main love interests, not Billy Eichner vs. the World. There were enjoyable parts to the movie, such as when they are in Provincetown. The actual love story is also nice, but it gets a little bogged down by Billy Eichner’s constant rants.

 

I would still recommend you go see it. After looking at the reviews, I can only assume I am in the minority. Sadly, it also flopped at the box office this weekend. My friend and I were literally half the audience at the theater. The movie sold $4.8 million in tickets, about 40 percent less than expected. As the New York Times said, “There is no easy way to say it: When the reviews are this sensational, the marketing support is this substantive and the theatrical footprint is this wide — and ticket sales are nonetheless this low — it suggests outright marketplace rejection.” I think if the movie had been a less angsty rant and more romantic comedy, it might have done better at the box office.

 

With that being said, I got mostly annoyed with the subplot about the LGBTQ+ Museum. Eichner’s character is supposed to be the museum’s founding director, though his background is not as a museum professional. The real executive director of the American LGBTQ+ Museum is a lovely man named Ben Garcia, who I saw speak at a conference back in May. He is a much more likable person than Eichner’s character, Bobby Lieber. The movie’s portrayal of a National LGBTQ+ Museum is a disgrace. It was meant to be funny but horrifying from a museum professional’s opinion. Then there is one of my greatest pet peeves with LGBTQ+ pop history. They always want to portray Abraham Lincoln as the first gay president (if he was LGBTQ+, then he was bi), but Lincoln would not have been our first gay president. That honor goes to James Buchanan, who no one wants to acknowledge because he, up until TFG from 2016-2020, was considered the most failed and disgraceful president. Buchanan is responsible for letting the Civil War get started and doing nothing to stop it. Yet, he had a well-documented, more so than Lincoln, love affair with America’s 13th Vice President William R. King. A few letters between the two survive, and Buchanan never married. During their lifetime, Andrew Jackson called King "Miss Nancy," and Buchanan's Postmaster General Aaron V. Brown referred to King as Buchanan's "better half," "wife," and "Aunt Fancy."

 

My pet peeve is that Lincoln was very doubtfully gay. Though it is wishful thinking and a historical stretch, it pops up in Bros. It’s a comedic plot, but the whole idea of Lincoln being gay is history taken out of context. The rest of the museum is absolutely cringe-worthy. You’ll know what I am talking about if you see or have seen it. The museum is not the only thing I found cringeworthy in the movie, but it did drive me a little crazy. It might have been more enjoyable had it not been for the museum subplot. At least it did get a little publicity for the coming American LGBTQ+ Museum, but I wonder if it was good publicity. I hope the real museum is nothing like the one in the movie.  As the New York Times wrote in its review, “As a partial answer to these questions, the board creates a Hall of Bisexuals where Amy Schumer and Kenan Thompson play goofy, grinning holograms of Eleanor Roosevelt and James Baldwin. Let scholars argue about the display’s accuracy. It accomplishes what ‘Bros,’ like every other rom-com, aims to do: charm audiences with a spirited, corny facsimile of life.”

 

I hope if any of you saw the movie that you enjoyed it. I’ll admit that I did not go into the movie in a good mood. Going to Olive Garden beforehand was a major mistake. They were out of more than half of the menu. Also, the food and staff were subpar. So, the night was not off to a good start. Therefore, my mood may have influenced how I reacted to the movie. There were a few places where I did laugh out loud, part of that was due to Dot-Marie Jones’s character. For a movie with a nearly all LGBTQ+ cast and crew, it’s a beginning for what I hope will be better things in the future, but with the box office receipts that it got this first weekend, I’m not seeing a bright future for another gay romantic comedy anytime soon.

 

Now that you have read my Billy Eichner-size rant, did any of you see the movie? If you did, what did you think of it? And a question for BosGuy, did you spot Sergio as an extra? 

Sunday, October 2, 2022

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Heaven Help Us: Mental Health and Faith

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 

 

Many of us struggle with mental health. Yesterday, I checked out for a mental health day. I did not talk to anyone all day, nor did I want to. I had some things on my mind and a terrible migraine. The Bible does not specifically refer to mental health; however, it speaks a lot about a person’s emotions, mind, soul, and heart. Mental health is an extremely important topic that all people need to be familiar with today. In the past, primitive beliefs often taught that mental problems were directly related to Satan and were the result of demonic possession. Many people struggle with mental health problems today, but this does not mean we are possessed or are not good Christians.

 

Anybody can struggle with their mental health, whether the individual is young or old, a believer or an unbeliever. If you struggle with mental health, you are not alone. My mental health issues are always associated with anxiety and depression. There is a myriad of mental health issues out there, including eating disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and PTSD. Each of these illnesses can happen to a person for a variety of reasons. Thus, it is crucial that as Christians, we do not judge, belittle, or condemn those struggling with mental illnesses. Rather than condemning those with mental illness, Christians are to help, show kindness, and love them. John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

The individual’s body and mind are both factors of a person’s mental health. If a person’s mind and body are having difficulties, a person’s mental state will suffer as well. Elijah was a prophet who struggled with suicidal thoughts during a difficult time in his life. In 1 Kings 19:4, we learn about Elijah’s struggle, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’” God did not take Elijah’s life but rather gave him the strength to keep going. We can see that God helped  in 1 Kings 19:5-8:

Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.

After Elijah had slept and eaten, he was ready to continue with the work of the Lord. Sleeping and eating are certainly not a cure for suicidal thoughts or any mental illness, but a good night’s sleep and a good meal can help to relax us, mind, body, and soul. If a Christian is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they need to seek out medical help, therapy, and most importantly, pray to God about their feelings. There is nothing wrong with seeking help from doctors, therapists, or counselors. God has placed professional doctors, therapists, and counselors in their positions for a reason.

 

Anxiety is a common thing people struggle with. The Bible does specifically talk about anxiety as 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” God wants us to give Him all our worries, cares, and concerns. Philippians 4:6-7 also talks about anxiety, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Whenever you are struggling with anxiety or fear, pray to God. He can help you let go of anxiety and will give you strength. God is always faithful, and you can always depend on Him. Only Jesus gives the true peace that surpasses all understanding.

 

Depression is very common and can be caused by genetics, internal conflicts, or a person’s environment. God walks alongside us as we struggle with depression. David writes in Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” God is always with us — no matter where we find ourselves today or any day in the future.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:3-4)

 

No matter our issues, God can help us. He may send us the people we need to help us or direct us in a way that we can help ourselves. There is an old saying, though not a Bible verse like many think, that says, "God helps those who help themselves." Yes, he does help those who help themselves, but depression, anxiety, and any number of mental illnesses can paralyze us. We may not be able to help ourselves, and that’s when God comes in. He will provide us with the help we need, but we need to be receptive to it. When things seem bleak, try to remember that God loves us and wants the best for us. All we have to do is believe.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Pic of the Day

Movie Night

Tonight, I’m going with a friend and coworker of mine to see the new movie Bros. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a gay romantic comedy that was released yesterday. I don’t go to the movies a lot, so this is a rare treat. We’re also going to do something that neither of us has done in at least a decade (and keep your eye rolls to yourself); we’re planning to have dinner at Olive Garden. Some people make fun of Olive Garden, but I like their salad and their Zuppa Toscano. I haven’t decided on an entree yet.

Anyway, I’m not just looking forward to Olive Garden, I’m also really looking forward to see Bros, mainly because Luke Macfarlane (the one in sunglasses above) is in it. I have such a crush on him and always have, even before he came out. The rest of this post is just a Luke Macfarlane appreciation post.











Is anybody else planning to see Bros?

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Pic of the Day

Slowing Down

After several very hectic weeks at work, things are finally slowing down and returning to normal. I’ve been able to catch up on some of my work on various projects that have fallen behind while I was busy with other duties at work. One of those projects will probably make my life a bit hectic again, but I’m hoping like all the teaching I was doing these last several weeks, it will be enjoyable. Now, if I can just get other people to do their jobs, it would make my life much easier, but I seem to have to keep hounding people to get things they owe me done. Eventually, it will all even out. My job has always been what my mother called “hurry up and wait.” It’s either feast or famine with either too many things going on at once or I’m waiting on other people to do their part and in the meantime there is not much for me to do. Thankfully, the weekend is almost here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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Regrets


I don’t think you’re fully human if you don’t have some regrets in life. Sometimes, it’s just things you wished you knew or understood when you were younger. I try not to dwell on my regrets in life, but sometimes I look back and think, “I wish I’d done this instead.” One of those things is that I wished I knew how happy I’d be working in a museum, though it’s my experiences of trial and error in life that led me to my present job. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still wish I had chosen the museum field earlier instead of working all those years on a PhD or that I wish I’d gotten a dual masters in history and library science when I had the chance. The other thing I wish I could change is that I wish I’d gone further away to college and had been able to come to terms with my sexuality sooner. Teaching so many classes these last few weeks and interacting with so many college students, I can’t help but think of how much fun I could have had if I’d just accepted I was gay back in college. I probably would have been an absolute slut in college if I had, but it could have been fun. However, hindsight is 20/20. There’s nothing that can be done to change what happened in the past, and I think that’s one of the main lessons to be learned in life. No matter what we’ve done or didn’t do in our past, we can’t change it. We just have to accept it. We can only learn from it and strive for better in the future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Pic of the Day

Nothing Gold Can Stay


Nothing Gold Can Stay

By Robert Frost - 1874-1963

 

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

 


About the Poem

 

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” is one of Robert Frost’s very simple seeming poems, but holds much greater depth than you might think at first glance. However, it’s a beautiful poem for fall, especially as the leaves are beginning to turn to those beautiful autumn colors that the state is known for.

 

When it comes to understanding this poem, there can be a lot of pretentiousness in the analysis. Take for example these excerpts of reviews that are included on Wikipedia:

Alfred R. Ferguson wrote of the poem, "Perhaps no single poem more fully embodies the ambiguous balance between paradisiac good and the paradoxically more fruitful human good than 'Nothing Gold Can Stay,' a poem in which the metaphors of Eden and the Fall cohere with the idea of felix culpa."

John A. Rea wrote about the poem's "alliterative symmetry", citing as examples the second line's "hardest – hue – hold" and the seventh's "dawn – down – day"; he also points out how the "stressed vowel nuclei also contribute strongly to the structure of the poem" since the back round diphthongs bind the lines of the poem's first quatrain together while the front rising diphthongs do the same for the last four lines.

In 1984, William H. Pritchard called the poem's "perfectly limpid, toneless assertion" an example of Frost demonstrating how "his excellence extended also to the shortest of figures", and fitting Frost's "later definition of poetry as a momentary stay against confusion.“

In 1993, George F. Bagby wrote the poem "projects a fairly comprehensive vision of experience" in a typical but "extraordinarily compressed" example of synecdoche that "moves from a detail of vegetable growth to the history of human failure and suffering."

I have almost always found literary analysis to be mostly pretentious with the experts using “big words” to say something (such as paradisiac) that could have been said in simpler language. It’s a fault with most academics. If they can use $100 words and sound smart, they can fool people into believing that they really are smart. While a lot of them are, it’s still a whole lot of pretension. I had a literature professor once tell our class that William Faulkner stopped a sentence in one paragraph of the book we were reading and picked up the sentence a hundred pages into the book. How he knew this, he could never explain, nor could he actually make the two sentence “fragments” actually make sense together.

I’ve always believed it was much better to say things in plain language so that more people could understand. Education and academic pursuits are not meant to see how smart you can sound while trying to show your audience just how dumb you think they are. If you’re ever in an art museum in which a group of art historians are in front of you (this actually happened to me at the MFA in Boston) each trying to show the others that they know more than the next. It was a constant game of one-upmanship in which they all just came off as pompous asses.

With that rant being given about pretentious academics, I will say that “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is one of my favorite Frost poems. As the leaves turn a myriad of autumn shades in the next couple of weeks,  they’ll soon fall to the ground and turn brown before being covered in snow a few weeks later. Autumn is beautiful in New England, especially Vermont, but it doesn’t last very long. One good rainstorm at the peak of the season can end the season in a matter of hours, not days or weeks. Back in Alabama, the leaves won’t begin to turn for many more weeks, but even then, there is not the rich variety of collars found in Vermont.

Monday, September 26, 2022

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Not Long Enough

Since I had to work on Saturday, I had an abbreviated weekend. It’s back to work today. It wasn’t a particularly relaxing weekend, since I have had a migraine since Saturday. I blame it on the rain that started Saturday evening and lasted until this morning. Usually, my headaches get better once it starts raining. This one did not, and I still have a headache this morning. I went to bed last night around 8 pm, before I wrote a post for today, so it’s one of those rare times when I wrote my post in the morning instead of the night before. I’d love to stay home sick today, but I have an important meeting this morning. If this migraine doesn’t improve, I may have to call in sick and join the meeting virtually. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

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Endurance

But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
—Hebrews 10:32-35

 

George Orwell (1903-1950) said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Orwell also reportedly said, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” With American politics the way it is right now, everything conservatives don’t like is “fake news” and political ads for Republicans are filled to the brim with lies. Orwell could have just as easily said, “The further Republicans drift from the truth, the more they will hate those that speak it.” I’m afraid if the Republicans regain a majority, there will be persecutions and retribution against all those who tell the truth and try to do what’s right.

 

Paul the Apostle describes persecution with an eternal perspective in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Paul explains in 2 Timothy 3:13-17, “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

 

At times in each of our lives, we have had to endure hardships. Whether it’s money issues, relationship woes, loss of a loved one, or hating our job, no matter the reason for would pain, God will get us through the toughest times. How matter how good we are, or how godly a life we live, we will still face hardships. As many of the people who call themselves Christians increasingly embrace hatred, greed, and sinfulness, we have to fight even harder to preserve the loving relationship that God has for us. We can’t let hate drive us away from God. An increasing number of people consider themselves non-religious. Even those raised in a Christian household are turning away from God because of the bad example that many people set in the name of Christianity.

 

Jesus warned in John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” Although it is often suppressed by the news media, the persecution of true Christians is proliferating throughout the world. In times like these we need endurance. People who claim to be Christians are the ones causing the most harm. They are driving people away from religion by their own intolerance and hateful views. They turn their backs on Christians who actually follow the teachings of Christ.

 

We are tempted to become weary in well-doing. Galatians 6:9 reads, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Life may look hopeless, but there is always hope. God offers us hope, love, and eternal life. We may have times that are so bad, we don’t think we will ever get out from under that dark cloud, but we will. God will shine his light on us and show us our path, our destiny. Things will work out in the end, we just need the endurance to get us there.

Friday, September 23, 2022

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Tired

Yesterday as usual, Isabella had me up before 5 am to feed her, and I had to work until after 6 pm. I am so tired, I can barely move, or write a post for today. Enjoy the weekend everyone. I’ll be working tomorrow also. Sunday can’t come soon enough.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

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Fall Is Here

I had a migraine yesterday, so I went home from work at noon. I wouldn’t have gone in at all, but I’d been off on Monday and Tuesday and I had some work I needed to do. I’m teaching a class this morning and I need to prepare for it. I won’t go into work today until 9 am because I’m working this evening until 6 pm for an after hours event. I hope my headache will be gone when I wake up this morning. Otherwise, it’s going to be a really long day.

Today is also the autumn equinox, which begins my favorite season, autumn. I love seeing the leaves change here in Vermont. The views are breathtaking this time of year. It also means cooler weather, but not cold weather, at least not yet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

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Lafayette Escadrille

I was off work yesterday, so I decided to watch a movie I’d DVR’d. A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to DVR some Cary Grant movies on TCM when I saw that Lafayette Escadrille was going to be on. Some of you may know that the First World War is one of my historical specialties, especially Americans in World War I, so when I saw that a move about the Lafayette Escadrille, a French Air Force unit composed of American volunteers, was coming on, I knew I wanted to see it. Besides, it stars Tab Hunter, who, in my opinion, is one of the sexiest men to have ever lived, and he looks really good in a French Air Force uniform and an American Army uniform later in the movie. Of all the military uniforms I’ve ever seen throughout history, the WWI era American uniform is my favorite, but I’m getting off track.
Tab Hunter came out as gay in his 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential, which was also made into a documentary by his husband Allan Glaser. Hunter had long been rumored to be gay and was basically outed in 1955 when his agent fed a story about him being arrested for disorderly conduct at what the magazine called a “limp-wristed pajama party.” His agent had been Henry Wilson, who also represented Rock Hudson. It has always been believed that Wilson leaked the story to Confidential in order to keep a story about Hudson being gay out of the magazine. However, Hunter was such a heartthrob and was also protected by Jack Warner, not to mention “dating” Natalie Wood, that the story had little impact on his career at the time. Lafayette Escadrille was made three years later.
Lafayette Escadrille is no cinematic masterpiece, but it was mildly entertaining since the movie stars some very handsome men, including Jody McCrea, known for playing Deadhead in all the seventies Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach movies,  and a young Clint Eastwood. It was worth it just to see Tab Hunter in his prime. In nearly every movie he was in during the 1950s, Tab Hunter is seen shirtless at some point, and his beauty will take your breath away. After I watched Lafayette Escadrille, I watched the documentary Tab Hunter Confidential. Hunter passed away in 2018. Even as an older man, Tab Hunter still had a beautiful smile and was still good-looking. He spent his later years focusing on his beloved horses.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

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Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice

By Robert Frost - 1874-1963

 

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To know that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

 




About the Poem

 

"Fire and Ice" was written by Robert Frost and published in 1920, shortly after WWI, and weighs up the probability of two differing apocalyptic scenarios represented by the elements of the poem's title. The speaker believes fire to be the more likely world-ender of the two and links it directly with what he has "tasted" of "desire." In an ironically conversational tone, the speaker adds that ice—which represents hate and indifference—would "also" be "great" as a way of bringing about the end of the world. There are two reported inspirations for the poem: the first of these is Dante's Inferno, which is a poetic and literary journey into Hell written in the 14th century. The other is a reported conversation Frost had with astronomer Harlow Shapley in which they talked about the sun exploding or extinguishing—fire or ice.

 

According to one of Frost's biographers, "Fire and Ice" was inspired by a passage in Canto 32 of Dante's Inferno, in which the worst offenders of hell (the traitors) are submerged up to their necks in ice while in a fiery hell: "a lake so bound with ice, / It did not look like water, but like a glass...right clear / I saw, where sinners are preserved in ice." In a 1999 article, John N. Serio claims that the poem is a compression of Dante's Inferno. He draws a parallel between the nine lines of the poem with the nine rings of Hell and notes that, like the downward funnel of the rings of Hell, the poem narrows considerably in the last two lines. Frost's diction further highlights the parallels between Frost's discussion of desire and hate with Dante's outlook on sins of passion and reason with sensuous and physical verbs describing desire and loosely recalling the characters Dante met in the upper rings of Hell: "taste" (recalling the Glutton), "hold" (recalling the adulterous lovers), and "favor" (recalling the hoarders). In contrast, hate is discussed with verbs of reason and thought ("I think I know.../To say...").

 

In an anecdote, he recounted in 1960 in a "Science and the Arts" presentation, the prominent astronomer Harlow Shapley claims to have inspired "Fire and Ice." Shapley describes an encounter he had with Frost a year before the poem was published in which Frost, noting that Shapley was the astronomer of his day, asked him how the world would end. Shapley responded that either the sun will explode and incinerate the Earth, or the Earth will somehow escape this fate only to end up slowly freezing in deep space. Shapley was surprised at seeing "Fire and Ice" in print a year later and referred to it as an example of how science can influence the creation of art or clarify its meaning.

 


About the Poet

 

Robert Frost most likely needs no introduction, but in case you don’t know, he is one of the most celebrated figures in American poetry. Frost was the author of numerous poetry collections, including New Hampshire (Henry Holt and Company, 1923). Born in San Francisco in 1874, he lived and taught for many years in Massachusetts and Vermont. Frost is one of my favorite poets. The simplicity of his poems often hides a much deeper meaning. He wrote some of America’s best-loved poems: “The Road Not Taken,” “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” “Birches,” and one of my personal favorites, “Mending Wall.”

 

Frequently honored during his lifetime, Frost is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America's rare "public literary figures, almost an artistic institution". He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont. Frost died in Boston in 1963.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Pic of the Day

Don’t Rain on My Parade🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

It almost did rain on our Pride parade, and it did a little bit. We got an outside table at one of the restaurants on the parade route. As we were waiting for the parade to start, it rained slightly off an on, but the rain stopped once the parade started and held off until just after the parade finished passing us by. Then, it began to rain in earnest. My back was just outside the umbrella above our table. I was getting soaked as we waited for our waiter to bring us the check. By the time we paid, I was wet enough that I could feel the cold rain water runny through the crack of my ass. The back of my shirt and shorts were soaked. We decided that with the rain, we would not be going to any of the post parade festivities since they were all scheduled to be outside.

Even with the rain, the parade was as fun as always. Vermont’s sole congressman, Peter Welch, who’s running for Patrick Leahy’s Senate seat, marched in the parade as did the Democratic nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and the open House of Representatives seat. All of the local television stations had a contingent along with numerous LGBTQ+ organizations. Actor and comedian Alec Mapa was the grand marshal. Saint Michael’s College (Vermont’s only Catholic college) and Champlain College had large groups marching in the parade. While the University of Vermont may have been represented, I did not see them. Saint Michael’s is run by the Society of Saint Edmund, aka the Edmundites, one of the smallest (24 members) and most liberal Catholic orders. The Edmundites are only found in Colchester and Swanton, Vermont and Selma, Alabama. Saint Michael’s is always the largest group of marchers in the parade, which includes the men’s and women’s hockey teams.

The first pride parade I ever attended was in Paris in 2005 while I was on a study abroad trip. The only other pride parades I have attended have been in Burlington. When I was growing up, there were no pride parades nearby. I don’t think I could have ever imagined being able to attend a pride parade. Because of this, pride parades always make me a little emotional. I get a little choked up watching the parade go by. My life has come a long way since that first pride parade seventeen years ago, especially since I moved to Vermont seven years ago. I know a lot of people may take pride parades for granted, but for me, they give me hope for a better future for LGBTQ+ people everywhere.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Pic of the Day

What Is Our Authentic Self?

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

— Exodus 20:16

I was trying to come up with an LGBTQ+ Pride topic for this week's Sunday post. I decided to write about being our "authentic self." Isn't that a large part of coming out? We want to be true to ourselves and to stop lying to others about who we really are. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" is the ninth commandment (the designation varies between religions) of the Ten Commandments. According to the New Testament, Jesus explains that obedience to the prohibition against false testimony from the ten commandments is a requirement for eternal life. According to Jesus, false testimony comes from the sinful desires of the heart and makes people unclean.

 

However, when I googled “the bible and authentic self" most articles are about how Christians should resist being their authentic selves. One piece said, “To those who are of the world, ‘be yourself’ means speak your mind, don’t hold anything back, love yourself more than anyone else, and openly reject anyone you just don’t like. The advice to ‘be yourself’ can quickly turn into an excuse to be unfriendly and overly blunt." The problem with this is that this statement is only valid if you are a terrible person. "Love yourself more than anyone else, and openly reject anyone you just don’t like.” While that sounds like a lot of Christians I know today who reject those who aren’t like themselves, it is certainly not in the spirit of the Bible. 

 

Another article Sue Bohlin, a speaker/writer and “webmistress” for Probe Ministries, lays out precisely why so many Christians fear authenticity, “In today’s culture, coming out and admitting you’re gay is applauded as ‘being authentic.’ Claiming you are a man trapped in a woman’s body, or vice versa, is ‘being authentic.’ But refusing to accept such labels means you’re inauthentic.” The Bohlin goes on to say:

More and more Christians are throwing in the towel in their fight against unholy sexual and relational temptations, claiming to follow their “authentic self.” Even worse, a growing number of churches are doing something similar by embracing same-sex marriage. I have a question for them. If God really created them to be gay and blesses that identity today, what will happen a hundred years from today? Will there be homosexuality in heaven? There will be no sex in heaven because the only marriage will be between the Church and the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. If one’s identity is wrapped up in same-sex attractions, as it is by those claiming to be “gay Christians,” who will they be when all sexual and relational brokenness is a thing of the past, a mere memory of earthly life?

 

I suggest that a believer’s true and real and lasting “authentic self” is all wrapped up in not who we say we are, but who God says we are: His beloved child, redeemed and purified and made holy as He is holy. Chosen, accepted, and included a citizen of heaven and a member of God’s household. Belonging to Jesus because He bought us with His very lifeblood. Sealed with the Spirit, made brand new from the inside out. 

There is a MAJOR flaw to her argument. When she says, “A believer’s true and real and lasting “authentic self” is all wrapped up in not who we say we are, but who God says we are,” is her fatal flaw. Our authentic self is who God says we are. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image.” John 1:3 says, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” God made us. He made us in his image. Therefore, if we are gay, God is also gay. God is also straight, bisexual, transgender, asexual, etc. He represents all things because he created everything; therefore, he is every part of every aspect of the spectrum of sexuality.

 

The most significant issue is that most Christians are closed-minded and narrowly focused on their beliefs. They pick and choose what Bible verses they want to follow and ignore those inconvenient for them. For example, they condemn LGBTQ+ people, but they do not condemn divorce of which Jesus does condemn in the Sermon on the Mount. Yet, what is most curious is that if homosexuality was so wrong (an abomination), why did Jesus never mention it, not even once? Furthermore, LGBTQ+ issues are not discussed anywhere by any of the New Testament authors. Yes, there is a verse that is often misinterpreted in Leviticus to condemn homosexuality, but if Christians follow that one verse from Leviticus, then shouldn't they also follow all of the other prohibitions from Leviticus?

 

Leviticus 18:22 prohibits male same-sex intercourse, and Leviticus 20:13 prescribes the death penalty for violators. But Christians have never lived under the Old Testament law. The Old Testament contains 613 commandments for God’s people to follow. Leviticus includes rules about offerings, clean and unclean foods, diseases, bodily discharges, sexual taboos, and priestly conduct. But the New Testament teaches that Christ’s death and resurrection fulfilled the law, which is why its many rules and regulations have never applied to Christians. Romans 10:4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Colossians 2:13-14 says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Hebrews 8:13 says, “In that he saith, A new covenant [New Testament/Jesus’s Teachings]*, he hath made the first old [Old Testament/Laws of Moses]*. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”

 

Even greater than cherry-picking verses from the Bible, many heterosexual Christians often still claim that sexuality is a choice. Because of their close-mindedness, they cannot understand that LGBTQ+ individuals are born this way. They were created by God in his image, in all the various degrees of sexuality. They are often so small-minded that they cannot imagine being born anyway other than cisgender heterosexuals. They do not want to open their minds to God’s true words because then they may have to look at themselves and see their own flaws. The only choice we have about our sexuality is whether or not we choose to be our authentic selves the way God created us.

 

As members of the LGBTQ+ community, so many of us for so long have been taught to be ashamed of who we are because we do not fit the predominant image and standard profile of acceptable persons. We have been taught to look at ourselves through lenses that cannot see our true beauty and essence as citizens in society, as people of God, and as children of the greater universe. When we look at ourselves, we must try as best we can to see everything there, but this is sometimes hard to do without a genuine desire to take a hard look and see what's there, to view ourselves clearly, squarely, and freely. The beauty and goodness of what we see sometimes give way to the not so beautiful things that we see, say, and do. We must cast aside all fear in taking that honest look if we are to grow into a greater awareness of who we really are and what we can ultimately become as genuine persons of promise and value. 


*Added for clarification.


This post is a repost from June 2021. I’m reposting it today because today is Vermont Pride.