Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy Pride Day 2017

Today marked NYC's annual LGBTQ Pride Day parade- here's wishing a happy pride day to all of my readers. Significantly, this year's pride parade was televised for the first time, furthering the goal of LGBTQ visibility. One theme that has been covered in the local news is the importance of trans-acceptance, another is the importance, in the post Pulse nightclub massacre and Trump/Pence election, the need to resist attacks on LGBTQ people, both physical and legislative.

I learned long ago that people who belittle, demean, and assault LGBTQ people are bullies, plain and simple. As a teenager, I witnessed a friend's family disown her when she came out... they destroyed their family, favoring small-minded bigotry over love and loyalty. Two gay friends of mine in high school tried to kill themselves... thankfully, neither one of them succeeded. I value equality, and I value authenticity- nobody should have to live a lie, or to live in hiding. The same regressive, authoritarian forces that want to curtail LGBTQ rights are the same ones who want to roll back women's rights and civil rights for minorities. In a very real sense, the LGBTQ pride movement is on the front lines of the culture wars, and the rest of us in the progressive community need to be thankful of them.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Current Fuzzy Earworm

If you were to ask me what the best album released in the 1990s was, I would unhesitatingly say Hedningarna's Trä... I just didn't really care for the 'grunge' scene, it was just slow, sludgy riffs on a style perfected by the Pixies, a band I have always loved, but devoid of the Pixies' humor. I did, however, love the slew of guitar-heavy bands fronted by female singers, such as Velocity Girl and Belly.

Another similar band was Boston's Fuzzy, who put out some great music, but didn't achieve monster hitmaker status. I listen to a lot of college radio, and Fuzzy's 1994 single Flashlight came up on a recent WFDU 'New Music Smorgasbord' playlist:

Sweet vocals and crunchy guitars... what's not to love? The band recently played a benefit for NARAL Pro-Choice America:

Resistance sure has a great sound.

Friday, June 23, 2017

So Proud of My Country

I've only kept a nominal watch on the news this week, so it was with some dismay that I saw the footage of the Capitol Police, so soon after they covered themselves in glory for stopping a mass shooter, ejecting disabled protestors from Mitch McConnell's office. I figure that, if you are evil enough to slash medical benefits for poor people, you are evil enough to manhandled disabled persons.

On a personal level, I am truly pissed off at some of the responses to this event from Trump supporters. Tengrain linked to NBC's Twitter coverage of this story and one asshole claimed that the protestors were pawns, and when called on it, claimed that they used their disabilities for 'the optics', as if they weren't confronted by their challenges daily. Christ wept, these people are disabled, but they are intelligent people with agency and dignity.

It's not surprising that a Trump supporter would have such a retrograde, bigoted attitude toward disabled people... he's just following the horrible example set by his Creep-in-Chief, who thought nothing of mocking Serge F. Kovaleski:

While Mr Kovaleski has a disability, he's a hell of a lot smarter than Vulgarmort, and would make a better president. At the very least, he wouldn't be slashing the very medical benefits who allow people with disabilities to work and to study and, yes, to protest.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Going to Have to Think of Ginger as a Solo Act

I've been a bit behind the news this week, being preoccupied with the final days of my beloved Fred. For the record, I spent a half hour with Fred in the predawn hours this morning, bidding him goodbye. This morning, he sat under the apple trees onsite with his sister and a bunch of two-legged co-workers until it was time. At 10:45AM, my friend and co-worker Rob, the manager who is the cats' primary caretaker, accompanied by our co-worker Iris, took Fred to the veterinarian's office for one final time.

The company e-mail system is full of eulogies for Fred, and pictures of the handsome beast... it has been one long outpouring of love for this cat who has been a part of our lives for the past seven years:

The real weird thing is having to talk about Fred and Ginger in the past tense. The two cats were a package deal and a matching set, though they had widely divergent dispositions- Fred being a mellow beast (sorta like a Labrador retriever trapped in a cat's body) while Ginger is mercurial. They were complementary- their interaction never failed to amuse me. It'll be strange thinking of Ginger as a solo act, without her calm, steady foil:

I saw Rob tonight at shift change and thanked him for taking on the burden of bringing Fred to be euthanized... I've been in that position before, and it's not easy. I haven't checked in on Ginger yet, but I'll be poking my head in on her soon. She was clingy last night, tonight I'll let her cling as much as she needs to.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Friends of Fred

This evening, three of the contractors who work on our major Fall fundraiser stopped by to bid adieu to Fred. Over the years, these good folks have become friends of mine, and friends of the cats. They have logged many hours in on the site, and they came to love Fred and Ginger. Tomorrow, one of our managers has the unenviable duty of taking Fred to the veterinarian's office for the final time- he has had the task of taking the cats for their quarterly checkups ever since we got them from a former co-worker, and his devotion to Fred is second-to-none. I have been getting the sad news out to former co-workers and seasonal contractors who have become attached to our dear cat.

I came in early to work, and the co-worker I was relieving and I waited for our friends to arrive. My co-worker had to euthanize his 15 year-old pet cat only a month prior, due to kidney problems. My brother Vincenzo is facing a similar situation with his beloved 18-year old marmalade cat, Orange Juice. We are all cat people, so there was a melancholy mood to our sendoff to Fred. Petting Fred, my friend Ali noted that he 'looks fat, but feels skinny'... he's bloated from the medicine as well as the tumor, but his spine stands out. I took one last picture of my beloved sibling feline comedy team:

This picture really catches the essence of the two cats- there's Fred, looking regal and composed as he sits on the ground, while Ginger is a blur of motion. My friends took a few pictures of me with the cat, mementos of our final night together. Our friends stayed with us for a good two-hours, commiserating with me and fussing over Fred. I am fortunate to have such good friends, both two-legged and four. Thank you for the outpouring of sympathy, sharing the sadness makes it more bearable.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Downside of the Deal We Make With the Kitties

I have some sad news to impart to longtime readers... my beloved Fred has been diagnosed with a cancerous mass in his belly. It's probably only a matter of days until he shuffles off this mortal coil. See, there I go with my Shakespeare again...

Fred came to us seven years ago, a package deal with his sister Ginger- both of them offspring of a feral cat which was being cared for by a two-legged former co-worker. At first shy around people, three months after his arrival he grew into perhaps the most loyal and devoted cat I have ever met. I fell madly in love with this cat one night after our major Fall fundraiser, when he trotted at my heels as I traversed a half-mile course from one end of the property to the other over the course of an hour, shutting down lights, locking doors, and making sure that everything was ship-shape.

Fred is one of those cats that acts like a dog- he has always been a calm creature, not prone to the jumpiness that characterizes a lot of felines. As I made my inspection tours of the property, he would be on my tail, while his sister would rove around us, checking out everything and occasionally stopping to give her brother a sniff or to get an ear-scratch from me. It grew to be a bit of a joke, I had two orange-and-white shadows which would follow me around the site.

Over the course of the years, Fred matured into a large, strong cat, an accomplished rodent-slayer and defender of storage areas. His was a handsome figure, a perfect representation of feline beauty and power:

He was unfailingly affectionate with those fortunate people that he favored, and he'd often bump my hand in order to elicit a good scratching:

I am sad that Fred, who I believed I'd have years of future fun with, is on his way out at the all-too-young age of seven, but what really has me concerned is the reaction from his sister. The two have always been inseparable:

The two cats have been quite the comedy team, with Fred playing the mellow straight man to the boisterous, mischievous Ginger. Even today, Ginger caused havoc when a school group visited the site- instead of locking their bag lunches in the school bus, the school group brought them onsite, and Ginger got into a bunch of them, eating the Principal's sandwich and necessitating the hasty purchase of pizza by our shop manager. When they were younger, the cats had a knack for squeezing out of a small vent window and roaming the site until I'd put them back inside- typically, I'd put one of them back inside and the other would get out... a revolving door effect that I found more amusing than annoying. I never failed to laugh when I'd see a pair of tiny golden orbs bouncing towards me as one of the cats would bound over to join me.

A week ago Sunday, one of our managers brought Fred to a veterinarian's office when he appeared to be lethargic. We all thought Fred was merely overheated, but a follow-up visit to Fred and Ginger's usual veterinarian revealed that Fred had cancer. The vet prescribed Prednisone to bring Fred out of his torpor, but indicated that the prognosis wasn't good. Fred hasn't much of an appetite, and his activity level is way down. I have made it a point to stop by and give him attention on a regular basis, because I don't know when our last time to be together will be. I took this picture last night, Fred playing a bright spot in a darkened room:

Four years ago, when I posted about the death of another of our storied mousers, the wise Smut Clyde commented: "It's the downside of our deal with the kitties." I knew the day would come when I would lose Fred, but I didn't think it would be coming so soon. Everyone on the job is sad at the prospects of losing our 'good' kitty... I just hope our naughty kitty can cope with the loss.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Et Tu, Covfefe?

I've had my beef with Shakespeare, albeit a fake conflict which depended on a familiarity with the Bard's works and with the history which inspired them he distorted. Despite the fact that Slick Willie 1.0 did a hit job on Lady Macbeth and her husband, Good King Macbeth, I just can't stay mad at him. I have long suspected that my father (Happy Fathers' Day to all of the dads out there) was a frustrated actor- he was the sort of guy who would dart a glance at you at dinner and intone: "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look." As a treat, he took the three eldest of us to see James Earl Jones as Othello and Christopher Plummer as Iago, with one proviso... if we wanted to see 'Darth Vader' live and in person, we had to read the play. For the record, he also took us to see Derek Jacobi as Cyrano de Bergerac with the same prerequisite. In the 7th grade, my English teacher, who was big on public speaking, made us memorize and recite Marc Antony's eulogy of Caesar. Like most educated persons in the anglophone world, I have a long relationship, and a pleasurable one, with the Bard of Avon.

They key word here is 'educated', as there has been a lot of outrage, poutrage, and fauxtrage over this year's Central Park 'Shakespeare in the Park' production of Julius Caesar , in which Caesar is portrayed with a blond combover like Vulgarmort's. I'm going to pause here to indicate that Julius Caesar, while being self-promoting, power-hungry and ruthless, was hypercompetent and a fine literary stylist... much unlike Vulgarmort. There's no real comparison between the two men. Also, as numerous pundits have pointed out, the play underscores the dangers of political assassination, and the chaos which results from using violence for political ends. The play is most definitely not a glorification or endorsement of political violence... but try telling that to the dumbasses.

Last Friday, two alt-right idiots briefly disrupted the performance of Julius Caesar- a demonstration of, well, a demonstration of their ignorance, or more likely, a rube-fleecing, as these hack-tivists launched a fundraising site for the stage-stormer's legal defense... hours before the 'protest'. The crowning glory of this stunt was Posobiec'e goober garbling Goebbels response to the tresspasser's removal from the stage. By the way, nice job, jackass, for making 'the girl' take the risks. The whole sad affair was followed up by the saddest protest in the world.

The real tragedy here is the fact that the people who claim to be the defenders of Western Civilization are people who are totally unfamiliar with it. These people are proud ignoramuses, the sort of people who believe that the Western Canon refers to Fort Apache. Growing up in the Northeast, I grew up thinking that the American ideal was a population in which even the working class was educated, a nation of literate farmers, longshoremen, and factory workers. I believed in a nation which values free productions of Shakespearean plays, which sees itself as a continuation of a classical tradition which Shakespeare, a true Renaissance man, referenced in certain of his plays.

The two alt-right knuckleheads, or grifters as the case may well be, who engineered this stunt should be sentenced to actually reading Julius Caesar, and perhaps writing essays on the themes presented in the play. It really would be a shame if a bunch of idiots could truly declare "Show's over Shakespeare."

Maybe somebody could come up with a 'King Lear' themed monster truck show, maybe a 'Tempest' themed WWE storyline...

ADDENDUM: Or perhaps better called an 'addendumb'- these idiots aren't even familiar with 20th Century American literature or 17th Century colonial history.

ADDENDUM SECUNDUM: This might be my favorite right-wing tweet ever- some guy who is completely ignorant of Roman history and English literature thinks he's going to save Western Civilization.