Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Daughter is Present: A JH2D take on Modern Art

The Daughter is Present, August 2011.

Hello dear readers and welcome to the new academic year! While most people mark time and celebrate the New Year in January, we teacher folks look at August or September as our new year. One of the traditions that I have is the yearly photo on the first day of classes. I have done it for some time now, and here are the pics from this year (and a few from years past). It’s a goofy thing, but it’s fun and it challenges me to think about a new pose and scenario for each passing year.
This year, I took on the amazing Marina Abramovic and did our take on her “The Artist is Present.”She sat in the museum in her red gown and stared at the folks that dared approach her in the sparse setting in the gallery. It was both a battle of wills and a rather contemplative moment as she and the public faced off.
For me with Miss Anna, it was a battle of the giggles and getting her to keep the gown on and in place for the shoot. Thanks to Tod for doing the wardrobe for the shoot. While it looks like a Snuggie, it is not. You can see the inspirational piece here:
And pics from the past 5 years. Please to enjoy.

The professor in me insists that you click this link and read more about this woman and check out the multimedia section on the MOMA site to see more.

You can also check out the Artsy link for more work...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A comment from the other side

A friend of ours on Facebook posted this as his status update this evening:

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.

And I (the one with kids) responded: And they withdraw from the vaults of our sanity.

Snarky? Yup.
True? Yup, yup.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Adventure Time on Cartoon Network: OH MY GROB

The Gays have always been known as early adopters and have jumped on trends and technology way before the straights can get out of their Snuggies and get on the internets. I will admit though that I was a bit behind the times when it came to Adventure Time on Cartoon Network. Our daily television viewing is Nick, Nick Jr., Sprout, or Toy Story 1, 2 or 3 for the 1000th time. However, I was trolling around Tumblr and found this guy:
I would totally put a ring on this.
I wasn’t sure what he was doing, he was at Comic Con, and yeah, who knows what goes on there. Many of my friends have gone (I didn’t know I knew that many virgins) so I asked around discretely so I didn’t look like a total noob. Turns out he is dressed as one of the lead characters from Adventure Time, Finn. I love the name (waves at Finn!) and love the surreal vibe of the show. Finn is accompanied by his trusty dog Jake and together they go on some pretty wild trips.

Anna and Eli haven’t got behind the show yet, but I have set the DVR to capture its goodness. One of the characters if Lumpy Space Princess, who is a basically a cloud, a badly drawn cloud who has the voice of a Valley Girl, watch and you will understand. In one episode, she tells one of the characters: “If you want these lumps, you gotta put a ring on it!”  And then there is baby Jake singing about punching your buns.  So, find Cartoon Network on your provider and check this shit out. It’s the best.

Yeah, just watch it. I’m not flipping kidding.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Parenting & Imparting Life Lessons, from another perspective

This is Brad... really, it is.
My amazing on line buddy Brad posted a link about a family’s hijinks and added this rather insightful and entertaining addendum to the post. Brad and I have never met, but we are in a few  on line communities together. We're total BFFs even though we live on different ends of the country. I asked him if I could share and he obliged. Warning, salty language (salty? who the fuck am I kidding?) ahead, just sayin’.

From Brad:
I think anyone for whom this resonates will get it, and can find the commonality we share with those who would do such stuff to make a point to their children. Or rather will, as is our collective fate, do this stuff to further terrorize our children into learning the most important life lessons the only way we are certain to know how. We're just wired that way; we'll sink your fucking ship in a minute with an epic prank when your ego gets in your own way. It's just who we are, there wasn't much choice in the matter beyond how we communicate all that. It got me thinking about the kinds of life lessons we should be imparting in our children, so that we send respectable, trustworthy, capable, and intelligent people out into the world when it's their time to fly.

I would like it known that while I read that Failblog article with the hilarious pictures, and while I'm writing this down, I'm thinking of and channeling my beloved friend and phenomenal single mom, who does this kind of shit to her son Jake ALL. THE. TIME. The beauty of it is Jake is an awesome guy with a fantastic sense of self, sense of humor, and empathy for others. That is a direct correlation between who he is as a person and who has dedicated her life to raising him and sweating how she does it by kicking her own ass to make sure she's doing right by her son. For which I adore her - and then there's her WICKED sense of humor. I understand her in fundamental ways, because she loves her baby boy as much as I love my babies..

Here are a few of those important life lessons for our children, Biscuit style. Feel free to add more, or gank these and make them your own if you like.

1. LIGHTEN THE FUCK UP. I respect and appreciate your intelligence and temperament, but you have to know that other people are just going to do what the fuck they want most times, as is their right, whether or not you like it or care, AND YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THAT. Get right with that now, for the same reason you got over expecting to get a new toy each time we passed Toys-I-Lust, and it was okay. I believe in you - the POWER of you - to know when it's time, when it's just over and when it's just broken.
Also, can we agree, Smart Child O' Mine, to cut the shit with the "OMG, I ALREADY KNOW THIS, LIKE, UGH, BOOOORIIING, LIKE... blah blah blah Kardashians blah blah h.i.m. best EVAR blahbitty blah blah blah" bullshit, please? Beautiful child with the gorgeous everything, consider ME for a moment. Train thyself to consider who I am and what I've studied and debated before reacting as though you know more than I do. Being fair, yeah - you might know a thing or six that I don't enough to speak with some measure of authority on the subject, I just know more THINGS than you do, so lighten the fuck up and show some respect. Also, so I won't have to verbally bitchslap you so fucking hard you'll be stunned for the first 10 minutes after before you even feel it.

2. I will always be the softest place you'll ever need or want to land on. I will also be the one who walks into the mythical fires of Hell itself, simply to grab you by the hand and pull you out and into my safety. I will respect the boundaries of your privacy as is age appropriate for you, specifically for you, because you're not a child - you're not even MY child - you are a completely unique individual. I just ask to be included in the things that affect you, so I can best encourage you to be the best YOU you are capable of. I will never lie to you - but so help me, if you ever lie to me willfully and intentionally, the wrath that will come down on you will be so epic that intelligent alien life approaching Earth from space will see it and say to each other "UH-UH, OH H A I L naw, we're not stopping and getting all up in that shit - keep going." Be told, and don't think you're clever enough to test me on this stuff. I know you think it's crafty of you to think you're getting over on me, but let me tell you, that ain't SHIT. Any time you try to manipulate me, I'm only pretending to buy it because I'm hip to you and secretly thinking "OMG, look how cute you are right now with this, you really think this is working!" Unfortunately or you, *I* know how to take Mom's car out of the driveway and go joyriding at age 15 on a Tuesday school night, and get in all kinds of potential trouble, without ever getting caught. I was getting in bar fights at 17. Trust me boo, you ain't shit - I can smell deception like a fart in a car, and worst of all, I'm able to seamlessly go from 0 to fucking CRAZY before you even catch on. I'll buy into it like I have no idea what's really going on, and then come out of the ether like the fucking Batman and wreck your whole week - and you KNOW this. My point here is just don't, because this is what the consequences are, and you really don't want to be bringing the redneck out of me. Every sense I have as a parent is finely tuned and driven by pure will and determination, so I'm in your head and heart and will die before I willingly allow harm to come to you - including your own self-harm.

3. You have to decide what you believe about religion and faith for yourself, and I will cover everything I can sans personal bias, even if it is contrary to what I believe. Because it's not about me, it's about you. It's insulting to a person's intelligence to foist an entire life design upon them, to say nothing of disrespectful - but there's a LOT out there, and you must self-educate before you're in a fair position to make those kinds of decisions. Don't believe what I believe because it's easy - in fact, follow that rule closely in most areas of life - believe in something because it makes sense and isn't constructed out of glass when it should be the strongest steel. There is no such thing as one true god, that's something religious people use as a safeguard. As many possible gods as there are throughout time and the history of mythology, there is absolutely no way to be sure which god or which religion is right - so if you go there, go with humility. Faith is a fine thing and I make no argument against it - it's when faith gets a manual that has to be treated with skepticism for the nonsense it is that problems arise. You CAN have faith without religion because the two are not mutually exclusive as long as you keep your ego in check and are not hypocritical because I will not tolerate that or suffer it. You'll never find morality in religion, you find it within. Morals are a choice, you'll figure yours out as you go along. Just remember - morality is doing what is right no matter what you're told; religion is doing what you're told no matter what is right.

4. No, you cannot go off with so-and-so, because I haven't spent any time with them OR their parents. It's not that I don't trust you, unless of course I have reason not to, or that I think you cannot make good solid decisions and choices in your own best interests. It's just that peer pressure is a fucking bitch on the worst rag ever, and I do not take on faith that you WILL make the best decisions and choices possible every time, so I'm pre-screening for riff raff. Remember, I am a fair man - what I am not is a naive, gullible man. As your parent, it's not the easiest thing mastering that fine line between parent and friend. Anyone you try to fly under my radar is going to result in you being REALLY unhappy with me for a while, and I absolutely will sit beside you when you're mopey and complaining about how unfair I am and begin singing "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen..." no matter where we are. Choose the people you surround yourself with wisely, and reject the notion that you are always the company you keep when it's inappropriate. That's insulting, and not very respectful of one's own intelligence and ability to see people for who and what they are.

5. It pays to be smart, humble, and free of ego. It's also not that difficult to just NOT be a dick to people for no valid reason. YOU decide who you're going to be in this world; set your standards high and your goals within reason and what is realistic for you - and be who you fucking ARE. Because who you are is awesome, and even if I weren't your parent, I'd very much want to be your friend. My wish for you is to be wise enough to recognize the love of your life when you see them, and stick it out when it gets rough, because they are so worth it.

6. Please remember that it's damned near impossible to embarrass me, and don't ever make the mistake of acting out or thinking you're a bad ass and disrespecting me, no matter where we are or who's watching. I ask this of you for any future instance where, say, we're in the mall or something and your friends are around and I settle your hash in front of the entire planet because you had it coming. I'd just as soon not do that, but we both know I will, so take some responsibility for yourself and don't open that door. You really don't want that. I hold everyone to the same standard and I expect you to as well. Don't make me sky-write your shit and make stencils to graffiti the whole state with.

7. The person you're supposed to be is the person you know you ARE - period. You have a responsibility to that person to be your authentic self. Let's face it - if you're not telling yourself the truth, then you're lying to every person you come into association with. That's no way to live. Why else do you think I came out as gay, liberal, and atheist at 15 - in Alabama, in the 80's, in the face of people who hated me for it? Because FUCK those people, THAT'S why. I don't owe them a fucking thing, least of all respect that hasn't been earned. If you want to hate me that's fine - I only ask that you do it on merit. Let people decide for themselves how they feel about you because you have the courage and will to be yourself without restraint or apology, because that is how character is made. At the end of the day the people who don't accept you as you aren't rejecting you - they were never worthy of you to begin with.

8. Darling now-teenaged-male-child, I know things are frustrating and taxing on your nerves and a lot of the time you're just mad and you don't know why, and inadvertently take that out on other people. Sometimes deliberately for no valid reason, which simply will not fly with me. Lo and behold, there is a solution, and an awesome one at that. When you start feeling all edgy and aggro, go to your room and beat your dick like it owes you money. You're not going to damage yourself by doing it too much - trust me, I'VE TRIED. It's not sex, it is maintenance - just like eating, breathing, and sleeping. It's what we do so we can be balanced and calm and not climb a clock tower with a rifle. It increases circulation and assists in oxygenating the blood, it releases endorphins, it's very self-validating getting yourself off FOR YOU, and then the main reason - IT'S FUCKING AWESOME. Everyone does it, including those who lie about it, so don't appropriate any guilt or shame about taking care of your body because that's just stupid. Don't be surprised when I call you out on your attitude by saying to your face "DUDE - go rub one out of get choked the fuck out, make a choice, because I'm having none of this." Just don't do it in the shower and run up the water bill, and everythang be everythang. Girls, I'm not ready for you to be teenagers, so cut me some slack while I'm navigating what you need from me so I'll know who and how to be with you. ;-)

9 - and then I'll stop for now. Once I watched in complete awe as a dog took a shit - while walking in a circle and not stopping at all - and made it into the shape of a heart. I am not kidding. It was an amazing experience that taught me to pay attention to all of the life going on around me and how truly fucked up I was and how much I needed my own ass kicked. I was 17 years old when it happened, sitting in the park, just completely wreck by something or other, because I had no clue where my limits and boundaries were. Then it happened, like it was totally normal, and the dog wasn't even smug about it. In fact he really didn't take much notice of me. I'd been institutionalized for a clinical nervous breakdown and diagnosed as bipolar that spring and it was now October, and holy fuckballs, this just happened. Right in front of me, HAPPENED!!!. What choice did I have but to interpret that as the dog's way of saying "You know what dude, fuck off - just FUCK OFF!!! You're not getting out of this alive, so get on with it for fuck's sake" in that heart shaped, steaming gift? What would YOU have thought if you saw that happen? Would you listen to everything around you long enough to pay the moment the respect and attention it deserves? You should, because that's all you've got. Find out who the hell you are and do not be afraid of who that is, because I love them already and want to hug them more than anything and shower them with protection and the best care I can manage, permanent press, it will not wash out. There is a bounty of amazing people for you to search out and find, learn to recognize them when you see them. I know who I am and I am content with that.

Do you really know who you are, my love?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer time fun!

Swinging into Fall.
Well readers, summer is coming to an end for me here in less than a week. Next Saturday has me back at work gearing up for academic year 2011/12. Part of me is saying "Meh!" and part of me is very excited.
We have a few more weeks before the kids are back in school so we're going to take full advantage of the time and do some family type things weather permitting.

I just found out that a publishing house in Marshall, MI is interested in working with me to publish my book. I have asked this before, but what are your favorite bits on here? What do you want to know more about?

Enjoy your week, whatever you do.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A JH2D Warning: The Princess and the Pony

The Princess and the Pony is playing on Netflix on demand for the 900th time. I won’t bore you with the plot or details, but I will warn you that the film is crack for kids. Since we signed on for Netflix on the Wii, this film has not left our recently watched folder. I’m not sure if you can actually block kid’s films on this platform, but you need to make sure your kids don’t find this. I am warning you now, you can thank me later.

I hate it. I despise it. I want to puke every time it graces our TV screen.
I want everyone involved in this film’s production to die a slow and horrible death. The writers themselves need to be drawn and quartered by the very horses used in this film. The cast is a bunch of newcomers (according to IMDb) and let’s hope they stay that way. The acting is horrible and the script is barely above that found in a high school creative writing class. I have seen pornos with better developed plots and acting in them, even the ones that are quickly made while their cinematic counterpart is playing in the multiplex (Shaving Ryan’s Privates, Bareback Mountain, et al). Which I find completely ironic, as the parent company of the company that released this (TheAsylum) does the very same thing to major releases  “Snakes on Train?” Really?

The only person I give props to is the cranky old woman in the final scene of the film. This is where she makes her very first appearance in this piece of trash and shakes her head in knowing disgust. She doesn’t speak, nor does she act, aside from shaking her head. I whole-heartedly agree with you unnamed person at the end of the film who was probably cut from the final edit, this film is disgusting.
This pony should have been put down a long time ago.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Justice vs. Injustice an anniversary

That's us, in 2001. So young, so fresh.
I recently finished Nassim Taleb’s “The Bed of Procrustes” an entertaining and enlightening collection of political and philosophical aphorisms.  In the section entitled “Preludes” he writes: If your anger decreases with time, you did injustice; if it increases, you suffered injustice.
I read this at 10 in the evening one night, and it made me sit up and take notice. I get some grief from some who think I protest too much about gay marriage, but at the heart of it, it’s an injustice to all who strive for equality. Back in 2004 when Michigan passed Proposition 2, the ridiculous law defining marriage, I felt like a second-class citizen. I thought with time, I would get over it and it would get better.

It didn’t.

 As time marched on, many more states piled on with similar laws and each time I read the headlines, my blood began to simmer. In 2008 we finally thought that we would be able to be legally wed somewhere. The state of California had opened its doors and we went west to do what our own state would not allow. In our minds we knew it was a risk but deep in our hearts we hoped that it would get better for us.
It didn’t.
Within months of our nuptials, our marriage was sent to the voters for approval, and with the help of some well-funded religious organizations (fucking Mormons and Catholics)  and a zany collection of assholes, Prop 8 passed and all that we had done to secure our family was in limbo. As time moved on and the trials started to repeal this atrocity, I thought I had finally gotten over it and I could relax.
 I was wrong.
I sat at my computer watching the live feed from the very building where we were wed and my jaw clenched as I watched the false accusations fly against me and my family from a variety of alleged sources on marriage. Calmer heads prevailed, but there was still an injustice, as those of us who got married, were still married, but those who wished to, but didn’t get married in that window could no longer wed.
I get comments from our friends who live in more tolerant states all the time. “MOVE!” “Come join us where you are welcome!” and I wish we could, but we can’t. We have made our lives here, a life that we cemented in sacred vows ten years ago today in our backyard in front of our friends and family. Those vows were not legal, but remain dear to us to this very day. We made those sacred vows legal in California on the 7th anniversary of our initial Commitment Ceremony, but instead of a ton of family and friends we had our daughter, some family, and a handful of friends.
On this, the tenth anniversary of our initial ceremony, I am thankful for Tod and all he has brought into my life, and I couldn’t have done it without him. I don’t need a ring on it to make it legit, but it helps. I know that it does get better, and deep in my bitter, stone cold heart, I know that love conquers all but until it does; I will continue to live and feel this injustice of inequality.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some good news.

Long time readers will know that I have had my issues with the church for quite some time now. Each week I am bombarded on the various LGBT blogs that I follow with stories of organized religion at their worst confirming my decision to leave the church for good.

However, there are bright spots. The charter school that is across the street from us closed this year due to politics and enrollment issues. On the property is a play area constructed right after we moved in. NASCAR hottie Tony Stewart was there with his obnoxiously loud car and in the matter of a day, the play structure went up with the help of hundreds of community members. Anna and Eli have played there countless times and love it. We love it as it is right in our front yard. However, the sad trombones started playing once the school year was over and demolition began on the play area. The border and mulch were stripped out and yellow tape was strung to keep the kids out. We were okay with this as we had built the play area in our back yard and the kids seem to like it, however, it was a loss for our already blighted neighborhood. In checking with a neighbor who had worked at the school, the owners didn’t want it as a liability now that the school was vacant.
We left for camping last week and the yellow tape was still up, upon our return, the tape was down and things look spruced up. A few conversations in the SoHI (South of High) ‘hood uncovered the fact that a woman from our old church (and the first person to give us a gift when Anna was born) raised a stink with the school’s owners and the wheels started turning and the park is now open again. A quick conversation with the minister in the parking lot confirmed all this and uncovered even more info: the church is leasing the tract of land and supplying the liability insurance to keep the park open. The church had a mentoring program with the school, so their investment in the kids is going beyond the weekly support/mentoring meetings by putting up the cash to keep this park open. I am happy to hear this, as our city is so poor they can’t even be bothered with this tract of land and have basically removed it from their parks and rec programs.

Is this enough to make me go back to church? No. I am done with organized religion. I am done with the emotional investment and the lack of denominational support on many levels. However, I do recognize that a small group of people can make a difference and I applaud them for that. To the fine people of Trinity United Methodist Church, my hat is off to you.

God bless.