Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mardi Gras - 10 Years Apart

1950 Duke and Duchess of Windsor share a float in the Rex Mardi Gras Parade.

The Duke and Duchess (Wallis Simpson) at the Ball, being received at court by Rex, the King of Mardi Gras - 1950.

1960. A Duke in Costume for Krewe of Terpsichore. 

And a good laugh was had by all.  I wonder who this person could be?!?

And so it goes.
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Just a Thought: Experience


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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Everything Old is New Again, and Again.

At the Cancer Center for treatment today, I had a sudden blast from the past
Flashback to the early-nineties. Reminding me of when healthy people were first diagnosed with HIV; everything was fine as long as they remained relatively healthy. Friends were always on hand for dinners, parties, movies, or quiet evenings at home playing board games. Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, and cut-throat sessions of Monopoly were always in order.  Remember, I was part of the Buddy system back then.

But at a visible sign of illness (like KS lesions) or hospitalization (usually PCP) those friends, those happy times evaporated, were history.  Never to be repeated. Friends and family vanished overnight. The very time when a person needed someone most was when he/she was deserted, essentially labelled DEAD already. And no one wanted to be a part of that messy time.  Oh, the hospital stories I could tell…

Anyway.

 This is what drew my attention today at the Cancer Center for the first time.  I don’t know why I didn’t recognize it earlier, the ugliness is unmistakably there. Maybe I’m the only one to notice it. I saw a lot of it 25 years ago. 

Many patients are my age and older, but there is a group of younger men and women dealing with the same, or worse, cancer diagnoses  and treatments. Some who used to be transported by friends/family members now arrive by taxi, or assisted hospital van - alone. 

Seems things never change. Folks are squeamish about the seriousness of the illness a friend or loved one is dealing with, and suddenly have other things to do. Sometimes they come back to pick up the patient, but only when called by nursing staff that all treatments are over for the day. 

As usual, the patients buy into the excuses and denial wins the day.  Very sad. Nothing for it, though. I try to chat with these patients about their current treatment and add my own experiences.  It helps relax them a little.  Like, we’re in this together and it’s OK to talk about it.  Especially with the nursing staff.

Still, it makes me sad to see anyone tossed aside as if they’re lives were nothing.  I’m already alone, so no need to suffer such indignities, myself.

We just keep plugging along.  Laughter is the best therapy, and we do a lot of that when I’m around. At least until they drug me, that is.  And sometimes that’s a good thing. 

Besides, I’m still riding high on the energy from last Friday’s Happy Hour shindig. 

And so it goes.


Just a Thought: Stop!


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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: PSB - A Man From The Future

There are few reviews of this performance from last week. A couple I read were written by persons who have no idea who Alan Turing was, or who Pet Shop Boys are.  I found this one to be the most fulfilling, musically honest, and firmly grounded in the essence of the project. It's a 50 - 50 decision here, I think.  But she does know her stuff. The reviewer complains of not enough of Chris Lowe’s synth input in the piece. I’ll wait and see/hear for myself. The fact that the piece was celebrated at all is indicative of the Brit’s love of PSB musically.

I do hope this performance (on my birthday) was recorded for later release, but with PSB, that’s always very iffy, indeed. From The Guardian:
Nomenclature can get tricky when you think outside the box. What are we to call A Man From the Future, the Pet Shop Boys' tribute to mathematician Alan Turing, elegantly premiered last Wednesday at the Proms? A pop oratorio? A classical audiobiography? 
It is narrated by Juliet Stevenson, unkindly housed in a shonky-looking plywood box behind the orchestra. Her steely, authoritative tones remain purposely impassive, a judge passing harsh sentence on an era, even when they describe the death of the Bletchley Park code-breaker's first love from tuberculosis. A lonely bell clangs for this boy called Chris. Later, it clangs for Turing himself, as the piece in eight movements draws to an intense close. We pop heathens do know not to clap in between them. 
Turing died young of cyanide poisoning, an assumed suicide, after the innovative mathematician suffered chemical castration and lost his security clearance in the wake of a conviction for gross indecency. (Some do wonder whether his death was in fact suicide .)  
His tale works as an operatic tragedy and this piece is extensively sung: by the BBC Singers, augmented by Neil Tennant, who frequently refers to a score housed in a large red folder. They function like a Greek chorus, repeating Stevenson's words theatrically, picking out phrases to drum home. "Can you feel what I think? Do you feel what I feel?" they demand, teasing out the elements of Turing's outer and inner lives. The Enigma code-breaker imagined a "universal machine" that could compute, as far back as the war; boxes, now called computers, that could think outside the box. Turing's innermost feelings, of course, ran painfully counter to the law of the day, and the discussion of his gay leanings gets a breezy, almost swinging treatment, full of longing. 
Mainly, though, this tribute is lavishly orchestrated. The BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Dominic Wheeler, is doing the heavy lifting tonight. As the piece is often stirring or sad, the strings out-rank the brass and woodwind; I would have liked to hear more from the less strident corners of the ensemble. PSB synth jockey Chris Lowe is hidden at the very back beside some sound guys, identifiable only by a pair of fat red headphones and a baseball cap. Magnificently diffident, clad in shades and jeans, he comes down at the end and doesn't bow. 
Turing's story is deeply affecting, and the telling of it by an establishment organisation (the BBC, which runs the Proms) in an establishment venue (the Royal Albert Hall) in an establishment idiom (classical) is cause for celebration. We have come far since sodomy and treachery were felt to be synonymous by the state. (Or have we? Gay men who weren't Enigma code-breakers remain unpardoned.) 
But we really could have done with more from Lowe, and modernity more widely. Turing was, after all, a man from The Future. Even given the operatic nature of his tale and the rarefied Proms setting, wrapping this man up in strings seems a contradictory impulse. The very best passages here recall Giorgio by Moroder, a terrific electronic narrative from last year's Daft Punk album, such as when Lowe's vintage analogue sounds, laptop emissions and some unexpected beats (from a man hitting his cello, an excellent touch) penetrate the swell of the classical players.

And so it goes.
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Note: One of the two birthday gifts to arrive without the gifter’s name is a DVD recording of the Pet Shop Boys “Cubism” concert. A gift that I will be viewing this evening for the first time. The first of many more to come, I am sure.

Again, thank you, who ever you are. 

Just a Thought: Price


More later.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

It’s All Good

Homes facing the ocean seen from the boardwalk.
It’s been a first rate kind of day.  Not having to be anywhere near anything even remotely medical was a real joy. I took my walk on the boardwalk at dawn, then sat with an iced coffee on a bench watching the walkers, runners, cyclists (bicycles are banned after 10 a.m.), and groups of friends heading out to breakfast after what appeared to the naked eye to be a very happy Friday evening on the town. 

None the worse for wear from my 2 Dark & Stormy’s last night, I felt in fine fettle, as it were. One of those rare, for me anyway, mornings where everything felt as it should. Everything at peace.  I know reality is far from that, but for a few brief moments it worked for me.

Got into the car and drove to my Silver Queen farmer’s staked out spot and waited for his arrival.  Snagged another 6 small ears and was told that there will be corn for another week, or two.  Then that’s it until next year.  Though the ears are smaller than most corn, I can eat only 2 at a sitting, and I don’t want them to dry or turn starchy. Pigging out on Silver Queen this weekend is a good thing.

Too bad the stuff can’t be hoarded or frozen - it loses it’s fine texture and sweetness after freezing, unless you take it off the cob and par-boil it beforehand.  That ruins the taste for me. I’m grateful for what I’ve had this year. 

Was going to stop for a few bottles of wine, but the car parks at the liquor stores were overflowing and I didn’t feel like waiting, since there were others there ahead of me. There must be something going on in the beach communities this weekend that I don’t know about - which in itself isn’t unusual. I don’t keep track of these things anymore.  Traffic was already bumper-to-bumper as I drove home before noon. I have a bottle each of Chardonnay and Merlot left, so any new purchase can wait until Monday. 

Visited a few fave blogs and caught up on lives and news. I was especially intrigued by Fearsome’s recent posts from Comic-Con.  In the process I discovered what will likely be a future Nexus reading adventure.  I’d not heard of the “Outlander” books before. So I used the Google to learn more.

They sound interesting, so I will definitely check them out. The Kindle editions are available on Amazon, so it will be easy to get started. There’s also a TeeVee series based on the books set to air in the US next month.  Of course, I won’t see it; not having TeeVee service and all, but it looks well done,  interesting.

The nicest part of today was receiving text messages from the usual suspects from last evening, saying how much fun they had and that we really have to do it again in a week, or two.  

Last evening’s event was a reminder of how much these people mean to me. I don’t know if I mean the same to them, but that doesn’t matter. They bring such joy, humor, and a healthy dose of crazy into my otherwise stifled life, that I could never thank them enough. Besides, if I got all mushy like this with them, they’d slap me upside the head and tell me to drink up!  And, I would.

Well, in about 2 weeks the schools and colleges begin opening and that should make parking and getting around town a hell-of-a-lot easier.  So, yeah, Thursday or Friday Happy Hour!?!  Game on!

And so it goes.
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Caturday - Go With The Flow


More later.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Office Visits & A Dark and Stormy…

Thursday morning: Surgeon Office Visit.  New port placement healing well, no irritation or infection detected. (Yay!) previous port site is healing well and required no further stitching. (is that a word?) No future appointment scheduled unless problems arise. Yay, Again!

Friday’s appointment postponed til next week to coincide with upcoming Lab work.  This means I have all of today off. No medical - No nothing!

Just the Happy Hour soiree with old co-workers at the Pig & Fish.  A Dark and Stormy was the cocktail du jour. Linda’s choice. Let me know if you don’t know what it is.  Think lovely Ginger Beer!  Weeee!

A few of my favorite customers from Dos Locos showed up as a surprise to wish me well, and blew me away. Straight couples to boot, and the guys gave me big hugs, one kissed me on the mouth.  I can’t say I was shocked by the gesture. Straight men, at least in my recent experience, are not hung up on showing affection to other men, anymore.  He also happens to be one of the best looking men around and I’ve mentioned him and his wife in past posts. They are amazing people. 

Their parents, kids, and grandkids (if you saw these two, you’d never believe they were old enough to have kids, let alone, the grand variety) couldn’t be here so early on a Friday, so they sent video text messages to me instead.  I cried like a fucking baby, so sue me.  

We ate.  Oh, did we eat! Our Appetizers included hog wings, pulled pork nachos, chesapeake blue crab dip, shrimp and bay scallops with garlic on baguette points. Drool, drool. etc.!

It felt grand to be immersed in such positive energy.  My buddy, Jeffrey, (the guy who is probably responsive for saving my life last year) had this evening off but chose to come by after his shift and lift a glass with us, as well. We both cried just a bit. Maybe he’s as surprised as I am that I’m still here.

Even my friend and sidekick, Debbie was able to attend and create her own kind of chaos and disorder, as only she can. (Like I say, it’s a small town and the crazy runs wide and deep in us all.) Once we got her settled in, it was a sweet, smooth and happy ride.  Think Jabba’s desert glider without Carrie Fisher’s gilded bikini.  I know you can. 

We had our “wing” of the bar - an L that took the front and right side in equal proportions - our joy was infectious,  folks kept coming over to join in our fun, if only for a short time or just to say HELLO and wish me well. I had no idea I had such a reputation…

Having knocked back 2 Dark and Stormy cocktails and all that food set before us, Linda knew it was time for me to call it a night. She was right, of course, and I didn’t argue. I was ready for the ride home and a good night’s sleep, which I will undoubtedly enjoy since I am free of all things medical until Monday.

May life include a few more days like this one. Please.

And so it goes.
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Lawsuit Against Bush Administration Moves Forward

Wow!  Just, WOW! I’ve heard rumors about this story for a while, but this is
the first I’ve seen it in print and that it appears to be of substance.  I can only say - “IF ONLY” this were to come to pass, at least some vindication for others around the globe who’ve been discussing these events and dates for years. The story:
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice, who is defending the six Bush Administration officials, responded to the lawsuit by requesting that the case be dismissed. The Bush tribe is claiming that the planning of the war occurred within the scope of their employment and therefore they have immunity.
Rather than dismissing the case, the Judge asked for additional information. So Mr. Comar filed a 2nd amended complaint back in June. The amended complaint provides more details about the planning of the Iraq war and when it started.
Comar essentially made two points to the court.
The first argument he made was something called judicial estoppel. It prevents a party from taking a position in a case which is contrary to a position they have taken in earlier legal proceedings. In this case, Comar used the Nuremburg Trials as an example.
The Nuremburg Trials, which the United States views as legitimate, held Nazi leaders accountable for their acts of aggression. Comar held that judicial estoppel dictates the Bush Administration and DOJ can’t argue that leaders aren’t accountable for acts of aggression because it runs contrary to the US’s position at Nuremburg.
The second point that was made referred to the Augusto Pinochet trial. In 1999, British Lawyers determined that Pinochet did not have immunity for certain acts he committed while in office such as torture and other violations of international law. These Brits held that Pinochet was not immune because Chile had signed the convention against torture.
Comar’s evidence, shows the Bush/Cheney team started planning the invasion of Iraq as far back as 1997. The amended complaint also explains that the war was motivated by personal enrichment and the war was a “crime of aggression.” and - In light of the treaties and charters that the United States has signed, Comar stated that the defence can’t now claim that acts of aggression are above a leader’s authority. In this case, the Bush Administration.

Could there finally be justice done in this case? Or, will whoever is president when the case is decided pardon the lot of them.

So far, this story has been successfully swept under the collective media’s rug. Let’s see what happens from here.

No pictures of the vermin until they're in Orange Jumpsuits, sitting in the dock at the Hague.

And so it goes.

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Just a Thought: Insecurity



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