Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Phenomenal !!!

Yesterday was a busy day. I wanted to write about my visceral response to Ahmadinejad’s speech at Columbia University and the U.N. I wanted to comment on how it feels to be experiencing the supposed end of the Post WWII Era. Reading through various blogs and newspaper websites, I worked hard at rounding up plenty of weighty material to use in support of my own general theme which is ‘Blech!’ (said with a shoulder shiver and a long drawn out emphasis on the ch at the end of blech, you know, lots of phlem rattling…) I was in a serious frame of mind and wanted to add my voice to the blogosphere’s din of condemnation and overall horror and disgust.

But, as that famous optimist, Scarlett O’Hara was wont to say, “Tomorrow is another day!” So, when I woke up this morning I decided that instead of retyping portions of the factual evidence proving Ahmadinejad is danger to society of worrisome proportions and off his nut in general, I want to focus instead on what Iran is missing out on, specifically, GAYS.

No gay people, you say, little Mamoud? Too bad. I have been thinking all night about a world without gay people and I realize that here is just one more reason I wouldn’t want to live in Iran; a country, where, this phenomenon has not yet occurred. It made me reflect on all my own experiences with gay people, and I was struck by the sheer amount of pleasure my life would be lacking if they had never existed.

I met my husband while on a mock date with my dance partner from my summer stock days in Estes Park, Colorado, immediately following my graduation from college. My dance partner’s name was Scott. He was definitely gay. He was also the best dancer on the planet. You could say he was phenomenal dancer. I, however, was not such a good dancer. Luckily, you would have never known it if you had seem me dance with Scott. Oh my, the way he twirled me around to the strains of “Macarthur Park” (this was, after all, 1979 the disco era!) and Donna Summers’, “Last Dance!” I had never danced like that before or since!

Often, we went on ‘mock dates’ following our show each night. There was a nice little pub down the road from the lodge where we were performing six days a week and we spent nearly every late night there.

Once seated, we would have a few drinks, and discuss various good looking males sitting at the bar. To our delight, we found, we were attracted to the same type! Once we had reached the desired state of happiness, we would take to the dance floor. Each evening, when the dance contest was held, we would do all of our dance routines from the show; blow everyone away and win. We had an unfair advantage, but hey, we were young and carefree!

One night, my future husband happened into the pub and caught that evening’s dance contest. There we were, whirling and twirling. My husband asked me to dance and the rest is history; the ultimate result being the existence of our beautiful and smart daughter. Without Scott’s smooth ability to lead me around the dance floor, Dan and I would have never met. No, I hate to think of a world where the phenomenon of Scott never existed.

Years later, when I was taking voice lessons for fun, the director of the music academy I was attending for my lessons, popped his head in to the studio I was singing in and asked me if I would join his church choir. Feeling flattered I joined, naturally. I became a part of the brief Camelot that was Ivan’s (that was his name, Ivan) excellent church choir.

Ivan was so talented. He had a DM in organ performance, everyone raved about the phenomenal way he play Widor’s Toccata in D. Butt he also played the violin like an angel and was the best choral conductor I have ever had the privilege of performing under. Choir rehearsals were the highlight of my week. I couldn’t wait for Wednesday night. Not only did we work on challenging music (this is where I first sang Vivaldi’s Gloria, Faure’s Requiem and learned about John Rutter) but we had FUN. Ivan was witty and handsome and charming and … gay. We laughed our way through choir rehearsal, and I can guarantee most of us hated to see it end each Wednesday night.

When he announced to us that he was dying from AIDS, we wept and couldn’t rehearse, until he told us we were partially the reason he had survived as long as he had. The choir ultimately became part of the large group of care givers who tenderly ministered to him as he left this world. I was privileged to hold his hand and wipe his brow. I like to think he now plays 1st chair with the angels. A light went out in the world when Ivan died. There is a blank place to this day. Thank goodness God saw fit to lend us Ivan for awhile.

These are only two examples of what gay people mean in the world. I feel sorry for the country of Ahmadinejad. What a barren, joyless place it must be - lacking people like Scott and Ivan. Mr. Ahmadinejad is wicked for supposing these people can’t contribute to society. He is wicked to deny their existence. He is wicked to reduce them to the definition of mere phenomena.

Which brings me to this: Mr. Ahmadinejad is a dangerous, tiresome, pompous little stick figure of a man. Part of the reason I have always voted Republican is to keep meanies like Ahmadinejad far away, stuck in their rigid, barren, gayless, wacky world of flying 12th Imams. There is also the phenomenon of the single issue voter. I might be one of those single issue people... So be it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Voting With My Inner Betty Crocker

I have not been able to get very excited about the race for president. Those of you who know me well can appreciate how odd this is. The problem is, no one “jars my pickles” as my 10th grade French teacher, Mr. DeFore, would say.

But yesterday, as I was skipping merrily through my favorite blogs, I saw off to the right side of the screen this wonderful retro circa 1950 coffee cup ad that said, “Wake UP America! VOTE FOR FRED, and smell the coffee!” It was so, well, the only way to put it is, it was so ME!!! It might as well have said, “Wake up DODY!”

I have been convinced for most of my forty…, most of my years on earth, that I am a re-incarnated housewife from the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. I watch old black and white films and feel as if, like the sirens of old, they are calling to me. There is a niggling feeling in the furthest reaches of my brain that tells me I watched these films in the Roxy Theatre back in the good old days of the Depression and World War II.

I still cook from the 1950’s version of the Betty Crocker cookbook. I own an original. I love the quirky pictures of Baked Alaska and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I serve my family Lemon Sponge Pudding with Soft Custard at Christmas. No one makes soft custard anymore, with the possible exception of Martha Stewart, and if she is making soft custard, it has probably been updated with cilantro.

But I digress. Seeing Fred’s clever ad (which certainly plays off of Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America theme) I felt a faint stirring of interest. I wouldn’t call it commitment but I started to imagine an excel spreadsheet in my head to help me organize the candidates. In my mind, I put a gold star by Fred’s name simply for his logo. Logo’s are important. We are a logo society. We love to label ourselves with quick, clever clues telling who we are. Just check out Facebook if you want an example.

So- Fred’s ad tells me that he understands my inner 50’s housewife. You see, I have to confess, it is my inner 50’s housewife that can’t get excited about some of the other guys and here’s why:

Rudy – It’s not Rudy I have trouble with, IT’S Judith! This is probably very catty (remember, this is my inner 50’s housewife) I have a problem with all people over the age of 40 who remarry in the same wedding attire firsties are hitching up in. I think this should be a rule. Only newbies get a train. But what really sends me clues about Judy is the fact that she wore a crown when she and Rudy were wed. This tells me two things: A. She is tacky. B. She wants to be the queen. And how does one become the queen here in the USA? She marries the president. I think this is pushy. I don’t want Judy to be queen. Plus, I read recently that her purse gets to sit in a seat by itself on airplanes. This is pretentious and weird.

Mitt – I am not sure about Mitt. He looks exactly like a Ken doll. Not the original Ken dolls who quickly became bald because their peach fuzz hair wore off from the sweaty palms of enthusiastic six year olds, but the molded plastic haired Ken dolls of the seventies. He has shifted some of his core believes a little too quickly for my way of thinking. I know that you can change your mind about abortion and such, but a gradual 25 year shift is more believable than a lightening bolt hitting you just as you are filing your papers to run for president while you simultaneously close the door of the governors office in what might arguably be the most liberal state in the union!

John McCain – I think he is getting too old. My inner 50’s housewife thinks he should be fly fishing in Montana. I know that sounds like discrimination, but I need to know with absolute certainty his brain cells aren’t going POOF! at an abnormally high rate. I have always secretly liked him. He is a tough guy who will probably irritatingly straddle the fence on most social issues but he will make sure the meanies don’t get us. I am all for meanie deterrence. The meanies really cause me to worry; and not so much for me, for my descendants. I am sure in 1922 most 65 year old Jewish couples had never dreamt what the meanies would end up doing to them in 1937. This is my primary talking point when I blather on about security. It is the long range stuff that worries me. I want my daughter to have grandchildren.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm feeling ya, Moses

I have been writing a paper this week for my class “Who Wrote the Bible?” Our first paper is supposed to be a summary of the first few books of the Old Testament, ending with 2 Kings. Our paper is not supposed to focus on interpretation. This is, after all, a graduate class at a large public university, not a “Bible” class.

We have been asked to identify any themes, especially an obvious overriding theme. We are also supposed to pay close attention to the geographic references.

I have never read the Bible on my own before. I started the New Testament last year and found it very, well, very interesting in a tricky sort of way. The Old Testament isn’t nearly as tricky.

Basically, the theme is obedience. They throw a lot of meaningful numbers around, 7’s and 12’s and 40’s, but the message is, be good, stick to these principles and everything will be hunky dory.

This has made me consider the Republicans. It could be just the effects of finishing up 2 Kings and all those BAD, BAD kings but I can’t get the parallels out of my mind. I keep experiencing Elijah like visions of the deportation of vast swaths of Republicans from Congress back to the lands from whence they came. Sure, there have been some good guys who have tried to pull the fiscally misbehaving bad boys back to reality, but mostly, everyone has just gone along with the big spenders. Frankly, it’s just more fun!

As I read about one bad king after another, the exact phraseology is “and he did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God,” it really gets annoying. One after the other after another insists on doing that which is not right. I felt like I was reading about Mark Foley, David Vitter and Larry Craig! Geez!

I couldn’t help myself, but it just feels like the walls of the temple are beginning to shake and all because (the way I see it) Ted Stevens wanted his bridge to nowhere (I guess so he could drive off on his way back to Alaska when they FIRE him) Tom Delay just had to have his K Street project and fat old Denny Hastert had to back it all up, oink oink. If there is one thing I am, it is honest. I call a spade a spade and there have been some duzzies!

Unfortunately, just like Moses being denied entry into the promised land, the rest of us rational conservative types are going to have to be punished for the behavior of a few out of control power charged wackos and that really irks me as I prepare to slink off into what I am sure is the coming exile.

I just hope it doesn’t last for 40 years and that God decides to go with no more than the number 7 when deciding our punishment…Unless I live to be old in Abraham years, (135 or so) a forty year wilderness will leave it up to my descendants to save the USA from politically correct suicide. By then, it might be too late…

Saturday, September 15, 2007


My husband and I recently drove our daughter to college for the third time. She is beginning her junior year at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. This ritual has become a favorite one for us. We purposely drive the scenic route even though, according to Mapquest, it is about 2 hours longer. I am not sure this is actually so. I prefer to think that it all comes out in the wash, since traveling up 95 would expose us to traffic jams and other delays.

We travel instead on Interstate 81. Yes, yes, I know, there are a lot of trucks on 81. Truck Alley I suppose you could call it. But it really isn’t too bad and for interstate driving this is a beautiful trip. Once we hit Binghamton, NY we switch to Interstate 88 – this is a breath taking ride! I think it is the most enchanting bit of interstate I have ever driven. Pastoral and quintessentially American, it rivals the Switchbacks in Montana and Wyoming. Where the Switchbacks are bold and daring, I- 88 between Binghamton and Albany is the epitome of Norman Rockwell.

The first time I drove up to Massachusetts, we were conducting our tour of colleges during our daughter’s senior year in high school. We did this in the fall, smack dab in the middle of “peak” season for fall colors. I am originally from Illinois, and while fall is my favorite season in North Carolina, I was transported by the dejavu I felt upon seeing the vibrancy of the leaves as they turned on the trees in Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

The area of South Hadley, which includes the charming townships of Amherst and Northampton, looks just like a movie set. I refer you to Hocus Pocus and the Witches of Eastwick for visual clues.

We always stay at the Quality Inn in Hadley, MA, because it is pet friendly. Happily, we never leave home without our conversational Bassett hound, Taffy Apple Sweetness, and as it turns out, choosing this hotel was a crucial part of the karma we experienced when Sweet Child of Mine (SCOM) made her decision to attend Mount Holyoke.

This serendipity was made manifest most particularly because of the route we stumbled upon when trying to locate the college. We ended up using state road 47 between Hadley and South Hadley. The first time we were in Hadley, we had no idea where we were going, so we just followed the arrows: South Hadley - 4

This is about an eight mile stretch of the most glorious, winding, picturesque road in the country! You travel through a valley dotted with houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, not to mention charming farms that put me in mind of the illustrations from my childhood Golden Books. Think: Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm. I couldn’t stop sighing rapturously. Had we chosen to turn right, instead of left, we would have driven through the classic drek of American stripmalls and Target shopping centers.

Rounding the final curve on 47, you come upon Mount Holyoke and all its loveliness. Okay, I know MHC is probably a bastion of liberalism, but my daughter tells me that she does hear both sides of an issue in most if not all of her classes and so far, no one with three heads and green toes spewing garbage has tried to indoctrinate her. She is, from all appearances (and from reading many of her papers) receiving an incredible education.

That is not to say the area isn’t decidedly left of center or progressive in sentiment. One of our favorite places to eat is in Amherst. It is a Deli called the Black Lamb or Sheep or something like. They sell “Republican Party” Cookies. The ingredients for these cookies are listed as being “full of fruits and nuts.” Naturally, being us, we bought several (fruits and nuts are healthy, nez pa?)and enjoyed them thoroughly, proving that ingesting anything made from Republicans is wholesome and very good for you!

I suppose this is long enough. I guess the message is, VISIT NEW ENGLAND. It’s a lovely area – a national treasure.



Words to Live By

" desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil - widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower."

Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) Middlemarch

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