Rob Portman and Michelle Shocked

I don’t own any Michelle Shocked music, save for one great song on the Dead Man Walking soundtrack, The Quality of Mercy is Not Strained.

I’m feeling a bit less churlish than I did initially about the pronouncement by US Senator Rob Portman that he NOW supports marriage equality because his son has come out as gay, even though, previously, Portman usually got zero ratings from civil rights groups on the issue in the past. I know that SamuraiFrog was right:

“I’m seeing a lot of people who are having this very liberal reaction of ‘Well, why couldn’t he have empathy for everyone’s child?’ Well, you know, because humans are like that. They’re self-interested… Sure, it would be nice if conservatives thought about everyone else’s kids, too, but they don’t. That’s as obvious as it is frustrating.

“What I’m saying is, [the kvetching] takes away from the small victory of changing one legislator’s mind about gay people when you say that this victory isn’t big enough… a lot of times it’s just small victories that add up.

“Yes, it sucks that gay civil rights are still being discussed as though they’re privileges and not rights and fundamental to everyone’s equality. But I’m seeing too many people who should know better implying that this doesn’t matter, and I think it does. It’s one more mind changed.”

This brings me to the alt-folk-rock singer Michelle Shocked’s anti-gay screed in San Francisco, a surprising tirade against marriage equality and homosexuality generally. Arthur@AmeriNZ, who, BTW has been documenting the marriage equality fight in New Zealand and in the US in recent weeks, wonders where does that leave her former fans, of which he was one?

(UPDATE: Here’s a bit of the actual audio of Michelle Shocked, March 17 at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.)

There have been a number of these folk, who one might have once admired but end up having feet of clay. For me, Mel Gibson was one. Fortunately, he started making movies I didn’t want to see (Passion of the Christ, e.g.) around the same time he went on his rants. I took Florence + the Machine off my Amazon wish list after a couple of racist videos.

I don’t own any Michelle Shocked music, save for one great song on the Dead Man Walking soundtrack, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained, which I’m sure I linked to in this blog; I’m surely not going to go back and remove it. But, like Arthur, I’d be as disinclined to spend another cent on her, as many comic books fans felt about the homophobic Orson Scott Card writing the Superman comic book, which, I believe, has been dashed.

BTW, I LOVE the paint job across from the Westboro Baptist Church.

Know what IS ticking me off? The damn reports after the two high schoolers in Steubenville, OH were found guilty on Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl. Media apologists for the rapists, who were the quarterback and star receiver for the football team, were not limited to this CNN exchange. It is as though raping someone were like your house falling into a sinkhole, some random act of nature the young men were victimized by. You know, boys will be boys. Moreover, two teenage girls were charged for allegedly threatening the rape victim. I watched on the news when the victim’s lawyer said the victim feared going back to school “on Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday.”

Someone I read recently (can’t remember who) suggested that we have a culture of rape. My US Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand wrote: “According to the Defense Department’s own estimates, there were approximately 19,000 instances of sexual assaults in the military in 2011 alone. Worse still, only 2,439 of those victimized felt they could come forward to report their assault, and only 240 of those cases went to trial.”

In the no-surprise category: Richard Nixon’s ‘Treason’, elements of which I heard about years ago.

While he’s busy harassing [ex-wife Maureen] McPhilmy for asserting the holiness of her second marriage, [Bill] O’Reilly is trying to deny the existence of his first: He is… seeking an annulment of his 15-year marriage, which produced two children. Null and void. Invalid in the eyes of God. Never happened. This hurts my head.
I’d just better watch Billy Joel singing, accompanied on piano by a student. Some of the snark warriors are making the rounds, but I just like this.

Roger Answers Your Questions, Denise, Tom, Shooting Parrots, Jaquandor & dogs

I have no “traditional Christmas dinner menu”. Over the years, it’s been ham, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, lasagna, probably roast beef, even Chinese takeout.

What a great bunch of responses to my request!

Ginger, Buddy and Shadow proving doggie wisdom from Pawprints in the Sands of Time ask the fundamental question:
Alright, here’s for your wish…Why do u want us to play this game of questions and answers this Christmas?

Because I learn so much, both about the person, er, entity, who is asking, and more, about myself as I think about things that might not have otherwise occurred to me. In other words, it’s an exercise in self-reflection.
I “know” Denise Nesbitt – and “know” is such an interesting term for someone you have never actually met, but it’s accurate nevertheless – through her creation of ABC Wednesday. She also can be found at Mrs. Nesbitt’s Space.

OK, What did you buy your wife, mother, and daughter for Christmas Roger?

There was this Medieval Faire every year at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY for about 30 years. And while I was going out with Carol, I sometimes -thrice, she tells me – would buy her a hand knit wool sweater from this particular woman. Then the faire stopped for about eight years. I’d buy her a sweater from LL Bean, and once from this Irish shop across the river in Troy, but it just wasn’t the same. Then last year, the faire was backe…I mean, back! Unfortunately, this particular vendor couldn’t make it, as she had another commitment. Bummer. But this year, she was back, Carol hinted heavily what she wanted, we walked away, but later, I came back and bought. There was also this teddy bear that she lost, that was given to her by her late brother; I found not quite a replica, but close.

Lydia got a lot of things: books, clothes, an enhanced version of the old game Twister, with CDs rather than a spinner; the big thing was this expensive doll she wanted, complete with wardrobe. In fact, her mother and I had purchased SO many items, we held some back for her birthday, three months hence. At that same Faire I mentioned, there was a soap in the shape of a seashell that Santa discovered she wanted.

My mother has been difficult to shop for for years. If you ask her directly, she’ll either say, “Oh anything” or “You needn’t bother.” Unhelpful to be sure. But my sister tells me that she really likes these puzzle books. I ended going to the CVS Pharmacy, found a couple of those, plus a lap blanket and a bathrobe – it’s been COLD in North Carolina lately.
Shooting Parrots, who provides “random thoughts in a random world”, asks:
What was the best ever Christmas present you received? And which was the worst?!
I think the best is the unexpected: my father helping me on my Sunday paper route on Christmas morning in 1966, or our first color TV in 1969, or the free tree my then significant other and I got on Christmas Eve 1991 from Sears, and took home on a city bus.

Haven’t a clue. I mean, I groan when my wife gives me clothes, but it really isn’t a bad gift. Maybe it’s because I’ve mastered the art of regifting, long before I’d ever heard the term.
Tom the Mayor I know from my time at FantaCo, though I actually met him when he worked at the Albany YMCA on Washington Avenue (RIP).
Do you ever feel any bigotry in your neighborhood in Albany? Do you think that Racial attitudes have changed since you first moved to Albany?

Interesting question. I always wonder how it would have been growing up in Albany. But I didn’t get here until I was 26 and already with the receding hairline. And some people know who I am here, a couple recognizing me from my Times Union blog just this week.

I’m not saying that my life in Albany has been incident-free. More than once, people have yelled racist comments, usually from moving vehicles. But that hasn’t happened in at least a decade.

I recall that in the early 1990s I got unsolicited lectures (at least twice) about the problems of miscegenation, not for the adults involved, but for “the children” that might arrive. So I’m curious how this will play out for my daughter, whether she’ll be subjected to that. It was really important for us that Lydia go to a diverse daycare, and she had friends who were black, white, and Asian. I have cautious hope that things are indeed better.
Buffalo’s finest blogger, Jaquandor at Byzantium Shores asks:
1. You are ordered to design a new menu for your family’s Christmas dinner…with the one stipulation that you use none of the dishes that are currently featured in your traditional Christmas dinner. What’s the menu?

Here’s the problem: I have no “traditional Christmas dinner menu”. Over the years, it’s been ham, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, lasagna, probably roast beef, even Chinese takeout. So I would have to go with hot dogs, hamburgers, fish filets, French fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches. What, no veggies? Again, it’s been all over the map, so it’s either a vegetable I’ve had, or do not like.

2. Are there any current “reality” shows that you would actually consider auditioning for?
If by stretching the definition to include game shows, “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire”, maybe. My antipathy for reality shows isn’t just with the game, it’s the editing to make the program more dramatic.

3. If you ran into Bill O’Reilly somewhere on the street on, say, December 19, would you tell him “Happy Holidays!” just to see him get angry? (I know I would!)
Yeah, except it’d be “Happy holidays, Bill,” so he knew I knew who he was.

4. Do you have high hopes, medium hopes, or not much hope at all for Governor-elect Cuomo?
Medium-low. I thought he ran a lousy campaign, he was not very forthcoming – his financials didn’t come out until weeks after the election – and I just don’t much trust him. The only reason he won is that he was running against a nutcase. I didn’t even vote for him. (No, I didn’t vote for Paladino, I voted for Howie Hawkins on the Green Party line, because it was evident that Cuomo was going to win anyway.)

Of course, to be fair, I’m not sure what ANYONE can do about this state and local government crisis. Did you see that 60 Minutes segment? ALL the states are in big fiscal trouble.

Well, next time out: Demeur, Anthony, Gordon, Scott, ChrisJ, and anyone else who wants to play.

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