Sunday, 24 June 2007

anything

Anything you write - no matter how high-brow or low-brow, anything at all - is better than not writing anything at all.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

the upper hand

Another one of those coincidences happened today. On my way home from work I came upon this passage in John Irving's memoir My Movie Business. It stems from a discussion on the novel and screenplay for The Cider House Rules and thus on abortion, but the point is, I think, well made:

Let doctors practice medicine. Let religious zealots practice their religion, but let them keep their religion to themselves. Religious freedom should work two ways: we should be free to practice the religion of our choice, but we must also be free from having someone else's religion practiced on us.

Then after I returned home I found this post, Bishop Harry Jackson Takes Out Anti-Matthew Shepard Act Ads, on Joe. My. God.. In a column Jackson describes how a childhood friend of his stopped a guy beating him up by shouting at him, daring him to let him up. Then he goes on to say:

Instead of amending the hate crimes legislation that protects churches in a substantive way, they [gay activists, SK] are simply crying out in a louder, more threatening manner. Gay advocates are not looking for fairness; they are looking for an upper hand.

Doesn't that mean he's saying the gay activists are like his friend and churches are the larger, ferocious bully who had him in a choke hold?

If you have embiggened (phrase borrowed from Joe. My. God. I may or may not return it), you may have noted the phrase "misguided compassion". What would Jesus think?
EDIT: I added a bigger version of the poster. Click to read.

If the loopholes in this legislation are not closed, Christians and Bible-teaching churches could become victims of a strange brand of reverse discrimination. These actions are tantamount to the gay community saying, ”Freedom for me, but bondage for you.” This attitude is just not consistent with America’s ideals.

Which apparently say "Freedom for me, but bondage for you." Calling it reverse discrimination is of course an admission that he supports discrimination of gays. One of my favourite poems springs to mind (I bolded the most interesting - in this context - lines).

The Justice of the Peace

Distinguish carefully between these two,
This thing is yours, that other thing is mine.
You have a shirt, a brimless hat, a shoe
And half a coat. I am the Lord benign
Of fifty hundred acres of fat land
To which I have a right. You understand?

I have a right because I have, because,
Because I have -- because I have a right.
Now be quite calm and good, obey the laws,
Remember your low station, do not fight
Against the goad, because, you know, it pricks
Whenever the uncleanly demos kicks.

I do not envy you your hat, your shoe.
Why should you envy me my small estate?
It's fearfully illogical in you
To fight with economic force and fate.
Moreover, I have got the upper hand,
And mean to keep it. Do you understand?


-- Hilaire Belloc


The memoir was a spur of the moment buy at the American Book Center Yard Sale a couple of weeks ago. I don't regret it, as it has made me realise I have sorely neglected his body of work. Hopefully I shall start reading more soon.

By the way, did you know (this also from John Irving) that:
From colonial times, abortion had always been permitted until the fetus was 'quick'; in other words, until the fetus was advanced enough to make movement of its own that could be differentiated from the mother's movement. Thus, in the first trimester of pregnancy, abortion was legal in the United States, even in the time of the Puritans. Notwithstanding the punitive beliefs of America's deeply religious founding fathers, abortion was nobody's business but the woman's herself.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

the day I joined the beautiful people - part 2

he: “I’ve even made going to the soa [Dutch for std] clinic fun.”

me: “You’ve taken me places I’ve never been before.”

So there I was, waiting in line outside an std-clinic, plain for all to see, looking like I had finally joined the beautiful people.

You see, my friend has this theory, that only the beautiful people go to that clinic, seeing as the popular ones are the only ones that actually got some action over the weekend. The crowd seemed to consist mostly of men of a certain sexual orientation (yeah, my gaydar is pretty good – and they weren’t testing it very hard), women of a certain profession and college kids.

We passed the time texting his boyfriend (who had to be elsewhere that day, he did get tested too, the poor thing had an even longer wait than we did) about a famous singer we had supposedly met in line – I even took it so far as to send him a text message saying I was too embarrassed to ask his autograph – and discussing the helpfulness of having people stand in line outside in plain sight. It’s not exactly something you’re going to endure unless you really have to (unless you’re me) and thus not very helpful in trying to make people get regular checkups.

When the nice guard came back to open the door and let us in we were first directed to a ticket counter much like the booth at a cinema or a theater. The lady there was handing out numbered tickets from different series (marked by letters) acoording to the reason for being there (regular std test, follow-up treatment, results, check-up, you get the idea).

She assumed I wanted one too and my friend thought that was very funny. He was having a lot of fun imagining me trying to convince a doctor that I really caught it from the toilet seat!

And then we sat and waited. And waited. It was another half an hour before they started doing something and even then it wasn’t much. Finally one of the Lithuanian (that’s what my friend decided they were, although he slipped and called them Romanian a few times too) hookers got called. She returned pretty quickly, carrying some papers.

The waiting room had six flat-screen monitors on the walls, giving information and listing the numbers being called, together with the room number they were expected in. This caused my friend – who was already bored after waiting outside – to remark they might have spent less on their IT budget and more on actual treatment. In fact, after a while they stopped letting people in, or rather the little box office was closed and no more tickets were handed out.

I should explain that this clinic opens in two two-hour periods on weekdays and they adhere to a strict full-is-full policy. When my friend got to see a doctor he asked her if there were quieter times so he could keep that in mind. She said that knowledge would be worth a lot of money, if she knew.

All three of the working girls were called in and then returned to the waiting area in quick sucession. Then it seems the staff went on a break. Thanks to the infoscreens I figured out that this was some sort of registration process, which everybody had to go through before being called, but the lull and the fact that they hadn’t been seen for their tests was worrisome.


(I'll finish this later, right now the one glass of wine I had is going to my head, proving I'm much more tired than I thought.)

the day I joined the beautiful people - part 1

he: “Don’t shout bingo.”

me: (as if trying to make sure I don’t forget) “Don’t shout bingo. Don’t shout bingo. Don’t shout bingo. Don’t shout bingo. Don’t shout bingo. Don’t shout bingo. Don’t shout bingo...”

he: (thinks) “Can I should Yahtzee!?”

This is the story of how I accompanied a friend of mine to the std-clinic.

The Friday before he had told me he thought he had a urinary tract infection. “I had a female friend with a UTI and the only thing that worked was cranberry juice. So I drank a liter of the stuff, thinking it must work for guys too,” he said. That was a couple of days earlier, but then on a Sunday he started to get a strange discharge and he diagnosed himself as having gonorrhea. The discharge was an opaque yellowish, brownish color.

He didn’t show me, of course, that would be gross, but he told me about it. What he didn’t realise is that he accidentally left a drop on the toilet seat. I didn’t call him in – I guess I had more reason to than the friend who walked back into the room and yelled “Who was the last person to use the bathroom!” and drummed the poor guy back in there just to put the toilet seat down – I simply wiped it off. (That might actually have been a bit foolish, I don’t know if you can actually get the disease but according to “the internet” if you rub your eye you run the risk of catching conjunctivitis…)

When he realised what was going on, he started calling everyone he had sex with in the last month or so, (he’d been separated from his boyfriend for a while, they’d only just gotten back together, but of course he too was at risk) telling them he was pretty sure what he had and they may want to get checked. I overheard him make several of these calls and he was so tactful, never sounding like he was accusing anyone, just warning them to watch out for themselves. Of course in private we also thought back to try and figure out who did give it to him… At one point he remarked that I seemed to remember his sex-life better than he did – ah… the joys of proxy living!

So, the next day we took a nice trip to the clap clinic. It was a bit of a walk to the free clinic on the edge of the town center, especially in the muggy weather, but quite enjoyable. (My ears started popping, so I told him we’d be going back by public transport because the change of weather was likely to get us wet – it turned out I was wrong). As we were walking through town, he told me I was earning some major fag hag street cred by accompanying him, I could now look any other hag in the eye. Not that I felt I couldn’t already. (I’ve been thinking about writing and drafting this story for some time and this part prompted me to post my eight levels of serious fag-haggery blog.)

As we got to the public health building, all we saw were two security guards, looking like they were having a sly fag. They told us the doors wouldn’t open for another forty-five minutes, but – and it was very nice of them to mention this – the queue would probably start forming half an hour before. There was a sandwich place practically next door, so we split a grilled chicken sandwich and got back to join in line behind three Eastern European-looking and sounding ladies, who, let’s just say I’d be very surprised if they weren’t earning their money in the Red Light District... The other two “customers” ahead of us were two guys studiously ignoring everyone and everything.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

writing

I'm still around, don't worry, I'm just working on a few ideas.

So, I am writing, just not here. (For now, anyway. If things work out, I'll post about it, of course.)

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

holy mackerel!

I'm enjoying a rather nice smoked mackerel. Here's my secret recipe: chop off head and tail (fins should have been removed and it's probably gutted - not at the fin-removal, it's dead, remember?). Remove the central bone and clear out most of the others as you flake it onto a plate. Grab a fork and eat. Be careful, make sure the flakes aren't too big, take small bites and chew properly!

Mackerel is one of those fatty fish with the "good" cholesterol.

But I ate it because it's just damn tasty.

In other news: I bought K a jar of American peanut butter which my rather provincial supermarket* sells, surprisingly, I just put a load of laundry in the washing machine and now I'm going to watch Dr. Who.


* Romaine lettuce? no way. They seem to have a one-variety-of-lettuce-at-a-time policy, rotating between iceberg and butterhead - the last one being the lettuce of my youth. I'll have to remember that the Dutch name for Romaine is "bindsla", although K's local supermarket calls it Romaine too...

Saturday, 9 June 2007

can't sleep

5AM, can't sleep, my throat is hurting and those damn birds outside my bedroom door are awake way too early. I'm turning back in in a second for another try, I promise, but in the mean time. Thanks to Lynette I learned something, though:

WHAT'S A "DRY DRUNK"?

"Dry drunk" is a term describing the state of the alcoholic who is uncomfortable when he is not drinking. "Dry" simply refers to the fact that there is abstinence, while "drunk" signifies a deeply pathological condition resulting from the use of alcohol in the past.

The "dry drunk syndrome" is a group of symptoms that occur together and constitute an abnormality. Since the abnormality of the alcoholic's attitudes and behavior during his drinking career is generally recognized, the persistence of these traits after the alcoholic stops drinking might seem equally abnormal. Therefore, the term "dry-drunk" alludes to the absence of favorable change in the attitudes and behavior of the alcoholic who is not drinking.

"Dry Drunk" Traits:

Grandiose behavior
Pomposity
Exaggerated self-importance
A rigidly judgmental outlook
Impatience
Childish behavior
Irresponsible behavior
Irrational rationalization
Projection
Overreaction

(Source)


That. Just. Fits.

just sayin'

Don't drink sticky juice from a dodgy carton when you're naked after taking a shower.

'night 'night

Friday, 8 June 2007

I just got drafted

to help out setting up for the Democrats Abroad registration drive at the American Book Center in Amsterdam tomorrow. It went something like this:

"Hi darling."

"Hey sweetie!"

"I've had a hectic day. If you could come early tomorrow that would be a great help."

"Hmm... I'll have to set my alarm, what time are you starting?"

"10.30."

"Okay, I'll try to be there."

"I was hoping you'd be here tonight. I've had a hell of a day. I'm not used to driving cars that big."

"What kind of a car was it?"

"A Chrysler Enormica, or something. I met the guy and five minutes later he gave me his keys."

I also asked him to stop me from buying too many books. The ABC are having a Yard Sale: thousands of books for only 3.50 euros each! (Of which EUR 1 goes to good causes.)

these are a few of my favourite things


The sky is grey and pregnant with rain. From underneath the electrically-lit awning of the train station, which itself is pouring out light from two twenty-five bulb chandeliers, it seems like a premature dusk on this late spring evening.

It's June 8th, 6.30 PM.

Whereas on previous days hardly anyone wore anything but shirts or t-shirts, the same public transport commuters have today had to gamble on wearing a coat or getting wet.

The anticipation is growing, there's a nervous energy in the air. People hang around the station entrance and only venture out to their chosen departure bays when they see the bus pulling up. That way, if it does start to rain, they won't be caught in the gloriously insufficient shelters.

The first drops are falling. Like separate entities, feet apart from each other, each with its own identity and trajectory. The huddle under the awning swells. My buss arrives and I walk towards it at a leisurely pace. Three, maybe four droplets catch me, the one that lands on my right bicep must have come in at an angle.

The bus has tinted glass, adding to the already eerie greenish glow of the outside world. Did I see a flash? I hear no thunder. People outside using umbrellas, no drops on our windows. O, but now there are.

The air is completely still, but for the droplets hurtling down from the grey clouds above, picking up speed and moisture as they fall. My stop is coming up. That was lightning. As I step out, I hear the thunder. The electrical storm is still a distance out, to the west I think. There are large drops on the paving stones, maybe fifteen or twenty per square foot, I can also feel they are sizeable as they hit me, but it's only a short walk home.

Ahead of me I see three electrical discharges in short succession. The middle one is very bright and its thunderclap loudly announces the heart of the storm is still about 1.5 miles away. The rain is picking up.

Home just in time.

and the winner is...

Who would dare oppose Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs? If you would, you're a braver man* than I.

So, Gothy won the honour of being mentioned on my blog, which I have to admit does scant justice to his huge vag- I mean, supreme majesty...


* of course this also includes any other genders and/or species.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

doctor, I'm hearing double

I have a very special talent, I hear (and see) double entendres everywhere. Perhaps it's due to being partially deaf (in one ear, it isn't that much of a problem, the worst thing about it is having to plug my ear when swimming). Or perhaps I'm just weird/perverted/*. A recent example: at last Sunday's Unitarian Universalist meeting I asked someone to recommend me some good books to read more about "UU-ism". But I had a very hard time saying "UU-ism" for fear of adding a "j" in front of the "ism".

Of course I can't think of anything else to illustrate right now...

So here are a couple of unrelated "funny" remarks: On the Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam there's a toko (Indonesian/Malay for store) that sells great sandwich rolls with various fillings (K's favourite Ayam Setang, my favourite Ayam Rudjak, Ajam Semoor, Babi Pangang). It's called Toko Joyce but I couldn't help dubbing it Tokyo Rose. (I'm going to have to try their "Ikans", oppposed to their "Pepesan", they seem reasonably priced. These are all mackerel dishes - fatty fish are good for me, y'know.

Another example of redubbing: Café Stevens has always been Cat Stevens to me. (And to bring it right back to UU-ism: the first song last Sunday was Morning Has Broken. Since I felt comfortable singing something I knew it gave me more confidence joining in the other songs, which I didn't know.


*fill in word(s) of your choice

seed

No really:
It's pronounced 'seed' in case you're wondering. Unlike many invented car names, we think it's rather appropriate.

Source: Kia Motors UK

They're talking about the Kia cee'd. Apparently the "ed" part stands for "European design" and was its codename during the design stages. The letters "ce" were added to represent the European Union (formerly the European Community, or "community of Europe". Sounds a bit mangled to me - or perhaps that's frangled...?)

cee'd homepage

Monday, 4 June 2007

I adore this woman!

Believe me, I love her!

Even though she just completely outed me as a crazy obsessed Rufus Wainwright fan on Joe. My. God. (Who was I trying to kid?)

Saturday, 2 June 2007

church

Last month I went to church for the first time. Not that I've never been inside a church before, but mostly because I "had" to, for weddings and funerals. The last time was my grandmother's funeral (actually that was a Latin mass at a catholic church, which I found quite fascinating, but not so much for the substance as the language.)

So four weeks ago I went to a Unitarian Universalist meeting with K and I found it fascinating. This might be the only religion I might actually want to join. And who wouldn't want to be part of a religion that aims to "affirm and promote" these seven principles?

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
They're a very liberal church, everyone is welcome, it doesn't even matter what god(ess) you believe in, or if you believe in any at all. This atheist will be attending again on Sunday

Friday, 1 June 2007

kidney stunt

Am I the only one in the whole wide world who wasn't surprised that the kidney hype was all a set-up?

What happened to journalism? Where are the good old-fashioned cynical hacks?

I applaud BNN for taking advantage of this collective and apparently world-wide gullibility to bring an important subject to everyone's attention. But I shudder what else people could get away with...

On a related note, I happened on an episode of Oprah a few days ago, warning people against internet fraud. You'd think nobody in their right mind would fall for those Nigerian 419 fraudsters who promise you a lot of money if you help them transfer their family millions out of the country. But people still do.

funny finds

Today I had a little stroll through some blogs I visit and some I meant to visit earlier, honestly!

On Gay Men Rule headbang8's "cousin and favourite fag-hag, the Princess Grace of Pittsburgh" asks Now, how does this damn thing work?

I got there through Big Ass Belle's blog, all the benefits of marriage

On The Republic of T. I found this post called Cadillacs, Cocks & Commercials which has a funny title but a serious subject. Among other things it makes a good point (I would say that, I've made it before too) in response to some wingnut complaining about a comercial showing a bunch of men intimidated by a succesful woman:
As I pointed out before, in the minds of some right wing men, anything that upsets the the "ordained" relationship between male and female by suggesting equality automatically raises the specter of homosexuality.
Just as any thought of homosexuality raises the specter of breaking with "gender complementarity". ("Undergirding the concept of gender complementarity is the assumption that men are metaphysically meant to rule over women (ideally in the spirit of love, of course) and women are metaphysically meant to serve men.")

One wonders if Mr. Whackjob understands the meaning of "metaphysically" anyway...