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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Five things

Five easy pieces
Last year, we had to scramble each Monday morning for the must-see item for Anna’s weekly show and tell time in kindergarten. She was a bit bummed this year to find out that:

1. No snacks in first grade and

2: no show and tell.
However, Anna was pretty stoked to find out that she would be able to bring in her “Me bag” as part of the class’ get to know you time. A green backpack was sent home with the instructions to find five items that represented the student. Anna picked some interesting items:

1.       A ring bought in Ann Arbor by her mom. She and her sister each have one.

2.       A magnetic princess/doll dress up set bought in Saugatuck when we were on vacation this summer.

3.       An Easter sticker book (still figuring that one out)

4.       A picture of her and Eli on Grandpa McMillen’s John Deere tractor

5.       A book on a girl who has two dads.
She and Tod spent the better part of the evening searching, and then editing her finds. At first, it looked like Winona Ryder’s purse, crammed to the brim with random items from her room and from Eli’s room and various other locales around the house.

There was also a worksheet that asked simple but informative questions such as: Favorite food? Pancakes. Favorite color? Pink, natch. What do you want to be when you grow up? In a band and a Doctor. I have to say that if I were to have this assignment right now, I am not sure what five items would best represent me.

How about you readers?

What five items best describe you?


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Book Week: What's in YOUR library?


Pull out your copy of Lolita folks, it is banned book week!  In our vast collection of books here at home, we have a few that make the list each year. Topping it off is “And Tango Makes Three” the true story of two male penguins who adopt a baby chick. Scandalous, I tell you, scandalous!
It’s hardly worth getting into a frothy mix over this book, but the loonies on the right are having a field day with it. The always sane people at World Net Daily write:
The American Library Association this week is conducting its annual promotion of a “gay”-friendly agenda to school children across the nation through its highly publicized “Banned Book Week.” Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries.org told WND he believes the ALA’s list of books “is intentionally and deceptively false and is being used to promote a political agenda.”Linda Harvey of MissionAmerica.org, who monitors homosexual activism aimed at the youth culture, has called “Banned Book Week” a “smokescreen of hypocrisy.”“It’s that special time each year when some in the library profession point an accusing finger at parents, especially Christians or conservatives, who might dare to question the value or appropriateness of certain materials available to youth,” she has concluded.

Yes, because a book about two penguins who love and care for each other and want a family is really horrible stuff. At no point do they talk about the penguins going off to Fire Island for a coke and poppers fueled holiday weekend or show either of the birds in drag and or leather. WTF people?
It’s a story about two birds that happen to like each other and are, as the story says, “a little different” in the way they go about life. If we ban every book that portrays someone who is a “little different” the shelves would be empty. And yes, Sarah Palin, I am talking about your book as well.
Really, who the fuck lives in Alaska? Even the penguins have said no to that mess.

We took Anna to the Central Park Zoo, the hot bed of male penguin lust, and we checked out the exhibit. No mirror balls, no slings, no throws from Target. It smelled and was pretty much a mess, which would lead me to believe that there are lesbian penguins as well. Anna was thrilled to see the famous birds (which, by the way, have since split up) even though we couldn’t tell one from another. But, it made her day to see these animals that have a family just like her family: a little different, kind of smelly, and full of love.

More on banned book week: http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/about
The hilarious article at Wonkette that inspired this post: http://wonkette.com/453733/banned-book-week-is-wingnut-cue-to-panic-over-gay-penguin-sex

You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Tango-Makes-Three-Justin-Richardson/dp/0689878451 or at your favorite bookseller that is actually still open.
World Net Daily, why bother?


Monday, September 26, 2011

Tell me what you want, what you really, really, want.

The book in question.
To quote Adam Lambert… “what do you want from me?”
I just read an article on my favorite nerd site Boing Boing about how to have a successful blog. The author of a recent book suggested to bloggers that they produce at least 1000 words a day.
Want to be a successful blogger? Every new endeavor requires a period of ascetic dedication. You must write a minimum of 1,000 words a day.
That’s about two pages of text (roughly) for your blog to make it relevant and to make it worthy or repeated visits. This can be in multiple or single posts. I was usually good for about one good, lengthy post a week for a while, but then September came and smacked me on the ass and suddenly I was busy with other things. I know that many of you do not regularly read the countless LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) blogs that I read each day. There are many articles, links that come up that are germane to parenting and to adoption.
Would you want to read articles like that?
Or are you content to have the articles written by me for the posts?
I am committed to making this blog one of the finest for parenting, but I need your input. Let me know what you would like to see and I will do my best each day (children permitting) to make this the greatest blog ever. You can leave comments here, or you can email comments to me at taoakley@gmail.com.
Link to the article here:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

An aging Club Kid speaks

I often get laughed at by my students for my musical choices in the classroom/studio. I won’t lie; it was a tough time growing up musically. I grew up at the end of Led Zeppelin and at the beginning of Abba. My choices were limited for sure. But music was a huge part of me growing up. I loved Elton John and some of the musicals my parents had on vinyl. I remember coming home from camp in 6th grade and my parents had bought “A Night at the Opera” by Queen and it blew my little 12 year old head. Apparently they needed a soundtrack for the bacchanal they had while I was away.
My early years as a young gay male and the world of music that opened up to me in the clubs/bars/discos in Toledo had a lasting effect on my musical tastes as an adult. If I wasn’t sneaking in to the Gay clubs and dancing to late disco/early house, I was at the straight clubs shaking it to the grinding funk and R&B that populated the playlists at such bars like Renee’s, one of the true discos left standing after the 70’s. They tried to update the place with new lights and décor, but it was what it was, an old disco tucked in a shopping mall and it didn’t last very long into the 80’s. I had some older gay friends who tried to turn me on to the various musical genres taking hold and it was an array of music that still has a place on my Ipod today. Cutting edge groups like Kraftwerk, and divas such as Sylvester and Grace Jones still rock my world. But as the 80’s closed up and we moved on into the 90’s, club culture was still booming. Bars were a place of refuge for me and my friends, gay and straight. They were places where we could go and get away from it all. Sure we had the disco anthem “I am what I am” to help us feel good about ourselves, but it was no “Born this way.”  Many of my current students go to the Necto in Ann Arbor, another grey lady from the disco era who has managed to survive into this new century. Of course we knew it as the Nectarine Ballroom, and it was indeed that, it was a spacious and opulent place where the music was amazing and every night, gay or straight, was a show. Money was saved up each week for the nights out in Michigan. If we drove fast, we could close the Nectarine at 2 and drive back to Ohio to close out Buttons or Bretz and continue partying until 4 or 5 am.
I recently caught “Maestro” on IFC and the documentary has been floating around in my head since I watched it. I have watched the opening credits many times, as the narration over the thumping house beats brought back many memories for me. As the credits roll, a voice begins to speak:

“I want to tell you about walking into an oasis.”
“Feeling like I just walked into my family’s living room...it was about being safe from the social restrictions of the outside.”

“Everything the Moral Majority told you you couldn’t do, it didn’t exist anymore.”

“It was a family that had only one rule, to love thy brother, and that was okay.”

“It was you and them against the world, and we survived together.”

I get goosebumps as I read these words, because that is how I felt about going out to the bars/clubs in my early 20’s. It was freedom, freedom from a world of AIDS and HIV, freedom from the crap that was going on in my head as a young man who knew he was gay, but didn’t know how he fit into the world. The last line says that we survived together, but in reality, we didn’t. I lost so many friends from this time that it breaks my heart to think about them and their lives, cut down so quickly.

My nights of going out and clubbing are pretty much over now. The kids know when we are out late, and the later we are out, the earlier they get up. It’s not a winning situation. But I can still jam out with the Wii and dance with Eli as we do the Michael Jackson Experience together. It’s a totally different experience to dance with a 3 year old in your family room to his music and not be in a club. The smell of pot and poppers are replaced with the smell of juice boxes and a not so fresh diaper (on him, bitch.) I can still crank out Lady Gaga with the kids and on cue they both raise their hands in the back of my car as Mother Monster commands them to “put their paws up!”  And I can still put on my headphones, grab my dog, and go out for a walk in the park jamming to the tunes that made me who I am today. The strobes are gone, but the memories remain.

More on the film “Maestro” here:
For the first time Ramos’ documentary puts into perspective the period of time spanning the late 60s into the early 80s when New York City saw the birth of the Underground Dance Music Culture, a musical and a cultural movement that deeply impacted social rules and ultimately set the groundwork for the Chicago House Music scene, the Disco era and present day global DJ Culture. The quintessential elements captured in the DVD on the legendary New York and Chicago clubs like The Loft, the Paradise Garage, the Music Box, the Warehouse, and their renowned DJs Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles, have influenced parties and dance music productions across the world. According to renowned film critic Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times, “Maestro traces the roots of today’s global dance-music culture with a passion, knowledge and insight that is as infectious as the music itself. For the uninitiated it is a revelation and for the aficionados it will surely be a special treat.”

 The opening sequences (as well as the whole documentary) are on YouTube:




Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Parenting at its best.

A coworker posted this on Facebook with the advent of his son’s newfound mobility:

I am in the early stages of planning for the great baby-proofing of the home. Considering baby gates for the stairs (up and down), cabinet latches, door latches, toilet latches, and electric outlet covers. My guess will be that most of this money will be wasted on stuff that either does not work or works too well. If you have any recommendations for products to use or avoid, or if you have

We did it all, and honestly, it saved our butts a few times. I lamented the day we took the babygates down around the house, as Eli had full run of the place suddenly. The kicker (and cheapest) was the chain lock on the front and back door, waaaaaaaaaaay up high. These were deemed necessary after we had a few episodes where the kiddos made it out to the front porch. We need to be careful though when are Moms are here as both are short and can't reach the chain. Hmmmmm...
However, we found this to be the most effective method for keeping the kiddos in line.

What did you do? What did you feel you wasted your money on?


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You're a good man Charley Sullivan

I saw Papa kissing Santa Claus, or is it Charley?
Sometimes our heroes are people we will never meet. Sometimes our heroes are our friends, and I am happy to report that this guy is indeed one of my best friends. Charley is one of the coaches for the U of M row team. While I am legally required to support the Buckeyes since I am from Ohio, I can get behind Charley and his team and cheer for them each season.

Our kids know Charley as “Ho Ho” as he does Santa for us each year, but we know him as a funny, intelligent, and handsome man who is an incredible friend and companion. We are indeed lucky to have him in our circle of friends. Rock on Charley and stay strong. For more on Charley, please check out this link, and please share this link as well, this is a story that needs to be told.