Monday, June 30, 2014

Just a Thought: Sex & Pizza

Works for me.

More later.

Rainbow Ending for Toronto Pride Day

Mother Nature sure knows how to end a party! Rainbow over Toronto on Pride evening after a day of rains & drizzle.

Seen from the Gay Village.
Can't believe almost the whole thing is captured in this one shot.
Wonder what crazy Unca Pat Robertson will have to say about this on his TeeVee Show?

More later.

Happy Pride, Two!

The image I posted yesterday is sooo 2013.  This is the tribute to Pride 2014 via  Empire State Pride in all it's glory.

If you celebrated, I hope it was an experience you'll long remember. Cheers!

Onward and Upward!

h/t: JMG

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Warning: He’s in the Kitchen, Again!

OK, so I went into a cooking frenzy. (May it turn into a feeding frenzy.) It
proved to be good therapy, and more fun than lying in bed reading all day.  Besides, I wanted to tempt my slowly blossoming appetite with dishes that appeal to my dwindling taste buds at the moment.

JIC, I'd get caught short of needed ingredients, I checked the lists before heading out the door for the injection appointment yesterday morning. Everything was in the house - I was ready to roll.

First up was a “Kitchen Sink Baked Ziti” with bulk Italian sausage, mushrooms, black olives, sliced garlic, and spinach. Took an hour to prepare and another 1.5 hours to bake. The finished product weighed in at over 6 pounds.  Yes, there will be lots of leftovers, but it’s worth it. 

That said, I am careful with leftovers due to my limited senses of smell and taste. If not consumed, things usually get tossed after 3 days in the refrig. Can’t take chances eating foods that are a little off.  This is why I rarely cook in large batches that can’t be frozen - like stews and thick soups. There’s no one to eat it before it goes bad.  This was an exception that I’m happy I made.  (This was not to be Saturday evening's supper, it needs to rest overnight, then be reheated to bring out all the flavors.)

Boiled artichokes for salad came next while the Ziti was baking. The whole heads are now marinating in the refrigerator for the next day or two. A little salt, white pepper, slivered garlic, olive oil and vinegar will suit me just fine. Refreshing for a hot summer day, too. My grandmother used to make this dish and it’s one of those all-time great standby dishes that brings back happy childhood memories. 

I decided I needed something sweet and chocolatey, so I made up a batch of Mocha Walnut Brownies. Using fresh coffee for the liquid base instead of water or milk. Again, the pan weighed a ton and took hours to cool before ready to be sliced and served. 

Supper was seasoned, broiled, boneless thighs with roasted new potatoes with rosemary, and brussel sprouts.  After which, I thoroughly enjoyed one of the now-cooled brownies.  Heavy, yes, but oh so worth the day’s efforts.

I don’t know where all the energy came from, but I’m happier for having it and putting it to good use. The apartment always smells better when something is cooking - more like a real home.  At least to me.

I am looking forward to a Ziti supper tonight with garlic bread and a glass of wine. (What? no Whiskey Sour?) Um, No!

And so it goes.

Happy Pride Day

To New York City and the World.

More later.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Whiskey Sour Miracle Cure?

Following yesterday's long day between both the Cancer Center and Hospital, I was delighted to get a phone message from Gwen (my friend’s 90+ year old Mom) demanding asking that I join her for a quick nosh and a festive Whiskey Sour.  Well, the nosh was a fine idea, don’t get me wrong, but after the day I had, that Whiskey Sour sounded like Manna from Heaven.

Remember, these are made from scratch; no tacky cocktail mixes cross her doorstep. Like I said; Manna from Heaven.

Our nosh turned into a full blown dinner (she cooked) and, among other things, we solved the mysteries of the Universe.  It didn’t take too long, only about 3 hours and spritzed here and there with quantities of Whiskey Sour. The meal was probably the heaviest I’ve had in over a year. A slow cooked, heavenly tasting brisket with a dish that reminded me of Bubble & Squeak, but a Magyar version without the leftovers. Finished off with coffee and fresh peach pie. 

Oh, and did I mention there were Whiskey Sours, too!!!

We swapped medical stories (she survived cancer twice!) and she gave me some sage advice - that I am not willing to share right now. Very personal and extremely important, it may prove to be at a later date.

I made it home feeling at peace - no pain - and slept like a baby. Gwen was supposed to hit the road back to NY this morning and since I didn’t get a call, I assume she was OK to do so.  Man, that woman can hold her own when it comes to Liquors. 

There is an odd twist to this story, however.  As I dressed for the Neupogen injection appointment this morning, putting on socks, I suddenly noticed that the swelling in the legs was noticeably reduced. It was then I realized there was no soreness, either. 

Now, you may remember my Gen. Mgr. at Dos Locos, that darlin’ wee Irish Lass, Linda has most everyone convinced that Irish Whiskey will cure most anything upper respiratory problems, sore throats, even cold, winter numbness.  And sometimes her suggested cure has worked for what was ailing me.

Then a thought occurred to me:  I wonder if Whiskey Sours are the “Jewish Penicillin” for Edema.  Hey!  Stranger things have happened. Especially since those cocktails were the only difference in my daily routine of the past week. That in itself is thrilling to contemplate, no?  But, it seems to have worked.

You can believe what you want to believe. If it keeps the swelling down, I believe I’ll have another Whiskey Sour in the near future.


And so it goes.


Caturday Cruise

Kitteh got the moves - but no tighty whiteys.

More later.

Friday, June 27, 2014

More Medical Mishugas

(cue: Happy Days are Here, Again.)

There’s little good news this week from a medical standpoint. CBC numbers in the basement (again) with another full day of tests yesterday and a repeat of more, but different tests today. Including another Ultrasound.

Numbers so low that my tired old body requires not one, not two, but THREE Neupogen injections to kick start the bone marrow into producing more cells.  Endured one yesterday after the Lab results, will receive another today while receiving 2 units of new blood, and one tomorrow morning for good measure.  Yes, the outlook is pretty grim.

A new prescription was ordered that will eliminate the high levels of iron in my system. Seems receiving so much whole blood over these past 8 months has caused iron to become dangerous to my overall health.  OK, stop laughing, ‘cause that’s what I did when they explained the reason. 

With this new med I can look forward to the joys of massive G.I. discomfort as the drug sucks the iron from my precious bodily fluids. Oh stop.  You’re just jealous, I know. 

The Oncologist dragged out the dead horse of a possible marrow transplant again, obviously having no idea where to go next in my treatment and hoping for some miraculous change in my matching status.  He even wants my old biopsy results reevaluated in case he missed something the first 3 times around. Yep, it’s come to this.

As I left him yesterday, he was on the phone with Johns Hopkins discussing my case with the same “specialist” who initially rejected my case in November, 2013.  Like that’s going to change anything?  Um, no!

While all this is going on backstage, I will continue the Vidaza Chemo treatments for the coming 3 months and hope for the best. The next 2-injections a day for 7 days of treatment begins on July 7, and you know how much I look forward to that date, I’m sure.

The problem with the Neupogen is that it make one’s bones actually hurt.  Almost like you have the flu.  We all know those aches and pains, don’t we?  Yes, but this pain is of a stand-alone type with no other underlying symptoms which makes it a very bizarre experience, indeed.

So, here I am wide awake at 2:30 a.m. getting organized for a long day between hospital and cancer center; being poked, prodded, and riffling a lot of paperwork around to be sure it’s legal and (most importantly) covered by insurance. 

I don’t feel terrible, just very stressed, depressed; tired of being tired, out of circulation, and alone most of the time.

And so it goes.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwback Thursday

This is a first for me. There are so few pictures of myself it's almost embarrassing to post this.

Christopher Street Pier,  New York City, 1974.  Age 27.

And so it goes.

Here's to Indiana and Utah!

As if this wasn't enough.  This smack-down just in...

History is being made almost daily.  They’re coming at us fast and furious.  No pun intended. Two in one day.  Truly a “twofer” as it were.

Congratulations to all.

More later.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

We Are Dead Stars

Think about that for a minute. Carl Sagan, in the original “Cosmos” series said “we are all made of star stuff” and he couldn’t have thrilled me more.

I know this scares the bejeebus out of many folks, but it’s comforting and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I like to think that when we die we go back to the stars to bring forth new life in another time and place.

More later.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Goodbye to Pern

I’ve read - or re-read - every one of the dragons of Pern books written by Anne McCaffrey. Also one or two co-written by Anne and son Todd. Haven’t braved reading any additional books written by Todd alone. He might just break the spell for me.

I’ve just finished the Harperhall Trilogy, which for some reason, she wrote as a stand-alone treat.  Truth is, the Harperhall books introduce certain characters already an integral part of the original trilogy. The background stories of these characters are embellished; their interconnectedness dovetails nicely into the entire series making fascinating reading for anyone who loves the world of Pern.


Unfortunately, for some reason known only to the publishers, the Harperhall trilogy (seen above) is not available for e-readers, only in paper cover.  I sprang for them only after checking with the library for possible availability. The library has the original trilogy, but not the others in the vast series. 

It felt awkward reading from real paper after two years of Kindle (now Nexus 7). First of all, the text cannot be enlarged, so I required much more light, to which I found it difficult to adjust. However, I plodded on and made it through.

Hello, New Stuff!

Sad to see the Pern saga come to an end, but all things must pass (now, where have I heard that before?) so I went in search of new material. I am on a mailing list called “Book Bub” that shoots a short list of 3 or 4 sale items right to my inbox 7 days a week. You choose the genre or categories, and suggestions are sent right to your inbox. The books are always offered in Kindle format, but there are occasional options for downloading Apple and Nook version, as well.

Many titles are new, or relatively new, with some oldies, but goodies thrown in to the mix for a brief time (that’s how I snagged the original Dragonriders of Pern trilogy) - usually 24 hours, some longer - and cost anywhere from $2.99 to NOTHING. 

I purchased this series for 99 cents.

And this one was free. It’s book 1 of 6 originally published in 2011, and sounded interesting to me. We'll see. I've been disappointed before...

I just downloaded this one last night, again for free - for a limited time only. Published in 2009, it seems to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity, so I snatched it up. Looking forward to this one alot. 

Once you order books through Book Bub, they are yours.  No hidden charges, fees, or a borrower’s limitation. I can read them, or not, as I feel the urge. Or, leave them in the “Cloud” until I’m ready to tackle one or another.

So, between what’s in the “Cloud” and on the device itself, I would say I’m ready for anything.  Happy reading, all.

And so it goes.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Television: What We Really Watch…

I recently posted an article about the Netflix vs. Verizon brouhaha and then this came to my somewhat divided attention.

As the graphic shows, no matter how much you may pay or how many channels your service boasts - and charges you extra for - this is the reality. More is not always better. Shitty channel content means fewer viewers, not that the providers care.  They look at the volume.  After all, 180 channels must be better than having only a mere 150, amiright? “Just look at all your viewing options!!!”

This is what most people have been viewing over the past 5 years. As you can see, people are creatures of habit. Their favorites, their old standbys, their nostalgia trips. 

When I had service 7 years ago, I too, had preferred channels that I always watched and the rest could rot in Hell for all I cared. And here I thought I was the only fool viewing so few channels with so much being offered. Just shows how wrong one can be.  Oh God, please don’t let me be normal!!!

To my mind, it is stupid and wasteful to spend upwards of $100. for TV service, I don’t care what’s in the package. I am not one to leave the TV on for company or background noise. It disturbs my concentration. To my mind, entertainment is not mindless, especially when paying for it.

Waiting in the doctor’s office the other day I had a deja vu experience. All the same TV shows that were on back then, are STILL on today. Tacky game shows with all their tinsel & glitz, and those daytime soap operas that really need better lighting.  They’re all so dark and sinister-looking. But, that’s not important.  It’s just the same old, same old. 

Needless to say, and as the graphic shows, it ain’t changed much in the last 5 years and that in itself is validation enough for saving my money. 

And so it goes.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Most Unusual Day

(sans Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland)

Woke up at 1 am. Truth be told,  I’d fallen asleep at around 6 pm, thanks in part to the Benadryl consumed to counter the edema in the left leg and ankle.

Still, it was 1 o’clock in the morning and my noisy neighbors were just rolling in from a night of bar trivia or karaoke - don’t ask - and they were far from ready to call it a night.  Instead, they shot the breeze with friends who joined them for the evening’s frivolity, and man were they ever wound up and noisier than usual.  And that’s saying something.

Normally, if I’m already in a deep sleep I don’t hear their carrying on, but last night was different. While they were banging things around in their kitchen, I was soft boiling eggs for a very early breakfast. 

They’re popping wine corks as I’m brewing a coffee in my French Press.  It couldn’t have been more bizarre - point, counter point. 

After a perfectly cooked breakfast- and wide awake -  I snuggled under the covers with the headphones and listened to (for the first time in years - I was desperate) Yanni Live at the Acropolis, which turned out to be loud enough to drown out even the most shrill voices next door.  I was happy.


Following a shower and shave, I took to the road to run a few early errands: fuel up the car and take a walk on the boardwalk. The sun was just beginning to break through the overnight clouds and the sky behind was bright blue. As you can see from the selfie above.

Most of the breakfast shops on the Avenue were open, so I snagged a strong iced coffee and sat on a bench facing the sunrise and ocean. I felt no pain so I walked the entire Boardwalk (1 mile) in both directions.  

I thought how nice it would be to share these beautiful morning experiences with someone else. Oh, I see people I know, but they can’t be bothered, even to say “hello” (which everyone does on the boardwalk. It’s an unwritten law) they simply nod and maybe smile and move on.

Thought I’d treat myself to a full Sunday afternoon dinner at a fave restaurant - and so I tried.  Either they were still serving Brunch (which is a first!) or the  were catering to large families with small children.  For reasons (other than the need or the mask) I wasn’t ready to share my peaceful meal with a bunch of squealing chill’ins with inattentive parents.

I finally came to The Pig & Fish another favorite and the timing was perfect. 
They don’t like small children and strollers are verboten, so I was seated at a small table in the back corner. All quiet and peaceful like. No mask necessary.

I’ve known the manager for years.  He came over and we shared a hug.  He also brought me a glass of wine. I realized then just how hungry I was - having had nothing since about 3:30 am - and ordered my meal with eyes that proved no bigger than my belly. The appetizer was their famous Hog Wings (pork short ribs that look like chicken wings only bigger (O.M.G.!) and for an entree I ordered the Lobster & Crab Mac & Cheese. It is what it is…Out. Of. This. World.

By the time I came up for air, Happy Hour was in full swing at the bar and the noise level was becoming annoying.  Paid the check, shared another hug with my old friend and headed out the door.  Fortunately, the P&F is less than 2 blocks from my place, so the walk wasn’t a problem.

I am paying the price for such a grand, unusually active day and delicious meal.  The left leg has ballooned to an enormous size, so it’s time for another round of Benadryl, and back to bed and more reading. 

No complaints. A good time all round. To hell with tomorrow and beyond. I’m sure I’ll whine later, but not now. As I say, it’s all good.

And so it goes.


Just a Thought: Touch

More later.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

As Luck - and Tourists - Would Have It…

A lone daylily struggling to survive amidst seagrass.
The Ultrasound appointment never happened. Couldn’t find a single parking place at the hospital - lots of handicap and reserved parking for physicians and police though - having driven around for 40 minutes in the 95’ heat being followed everywhere by other vehicles in search of the same thing. The appointment coincided with Visiting Hours, so that may have been the major issue.  When I realized I was already 15 minutes late I gave up, disgusted, called the Center to report the situation and drove home for a good cold shower. 

I’ve been knocking back Benadryl on my own and the swelling has subsided quite a bit, plus my boardwalk strolls seem to help too. Still, staying in bed with the leg elevated while reading seems to be the best of all possible things, at least until they can schedule another ultrasound. 

In other boring medical news…The surgeon cancelled Thursday’s appointment to remove the stitches from the port-a-cath repair.  It has been rescheduled for Monday morning.  When I removed the most recent dressing however, the site doesn’t look promising. Again, the rim of the port is visible under the skin and I don’t think that’s as it should be.  I’ve got a feeling she will have to remove the device, let it heal and maybe (I said, Maybe) try the surgery again. As luck would have it, I may not have to make that decision.

Weather has been pretty crappy these last few days and we all know that such things tend to piss off the tourists. On top of that, I hear the crazies are arriving early this season, more demanding than ever. Still, I wish I was working at the restaurant.  I miss all the fuss and frolic that plays out during the season.

I  walk on the boards and “make groceries”** as early in the morning as possible, so the hard-core grumps are still asleep, or sleeping it off.  Yes, I hear the booze consumption is way up this year, too. Seems there ain’t nobody happy this summer season, and it’s just formally begun today. Not that anyone cares.

I’m also seeing a lot more bumper stickers that read, “Don’t Hassle Me, I’m Local” "Turn Off the F**king Phone" and the most popular, “If It’s Tourist Season, Why Can’t We Shoot Them?”…neither go over well with obnoxious visitors anytime, but this year, especially.

Me?  I stay out of the way; away from crowds, large families with small children, and heavy traffic unless I absolutely must drive in it.

Meanwhile, I am not supposed to drink liquor, but my friend’s 90+ year-old mother is visiting from New York this weekend, and she makes the meanest whiskey sour on earth. She would also shoot my ass if I didn’t have one with her as we chat for an hour or two.  She’s a delightful piece of work and I love her dearly.  She (and the whiskey sour) may be just what the doctor didn’t order as a cure for my immediate depression.  Hey!  Couldn’t hurt!

**An old New Orleans-ism for grocery shopping.

And so it goes.

Courageous Caturday

The face tells the whole story, doesn't it?

More later.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Netflix vs. Verizon

As mentioned many times in the past, I do not have a television service - neither cable, nor satellite service.  It’s just too expensive; a waste of time and money. If I had that extra $65.00 monthly, I'd sit and watch it. If you get my drift.

I get news from the Web, (The Guardian, BBC, Raw Story, NYT, TPM, Think Progress, etc.), watch movies on DVD and enjoy documentaries and music videos via YouTube, and I’m pretty happy with that setup. I also have Amazon Prime, but never used it and never learned how.

Then when I got sick last Fall, some folks suggested that I sign up for Netflix to keep up with all the new TV shows and movies that I couldn’t give a tinker’s damn about. 

They persisted, going so far as to offer to pay for a subscription so I wouldn’t be bored.  I was not bored. I was sick! Besides, the (slow) DSL I have is a standard, set price service for folks like me and I didn’t think the streaming would work to my advantage.  It's slow, but again, I can't afford another $65.00 for the super fastest service, either.

Well, imagine my surprise when I found this in the news this week.  Seems Verizon is pulling their gimme-gimme-greed number and Netflix isn’t taking their shit lying down.  BTW, I didn’t write the headline. 
Netflix Couldn't Give a Sh*t About Verizon's Feelings, Releases Letter Criticizing Their Speeds
Netflix and Verizon have been going back and forth with each other over data speeds on the network.
Just last week, Netflix started posting notifications on their service whenever data speeds starting slowing, with a message putting the blame on the Internet service provider, and not them (see above). Verizon had a problem with this, and the company sent Netflix a cease and desist letter. 
Now, in a letter obtained by Quartz, Netflix general counsel David Hyman had a bone to pick with the ISP (emphasis added): 
Dear Randy,
I am in receipt of your letter dated June 5, 2014. 
Your interpretation mischaracterizes our messaging. The message you cite to in your letter merely lets our consumers know that the Verizon network is crowded. We have determined this by examining the difference between the speed at which the Verizon network handles Netflix traffic at peak versus non-peak times. The messaging is part of our ongoing transparency efforts to let consumers know their Netflix experience is being affected by congestion on their broadband provider’s network. We are testing this type of messaging across the US with multiple providers. 
Furthermore, your attempt to shift blame for our customers’ experience on the Verizon network “squarely to Netflix itself” disregards Verizon’s responsibility to provide its customers with the service it has promised them. Verizon sells residential Internet access to its customers. In fact, it is my understanding that Verizon actually upsells customers to higher speed packages based on improved access to video services, including Netflix. 
Verizon’s unwillingness to augment its access ports to major Internet backbone providers is squarely Verizon’s fault. As an ISP, you sell your customers a connection to the Internet. To ensure that these customers get the level of service they pay you for, it is your responsibility to make sure your network, including your interconnection points, have sufficient capacity to accommodate the data requests made by those customers. 
To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you’re the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour.
Read the rest of his letter and the entire article HERE.

I’ll stick with DVDs and YouTube, thanks.

And so it goes.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New York World’s Fair - I've Got Proof

A while back I posted a piece about reading “Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of America”.  In that post I reminisced  about working at that very same World’s Fair and the fun to be had for those of us lucky enough to do so.

I’ve received a number of comments from disbelievers suggesting that I’m not old enough to have worked at that Fair.  Well, let’s put that puppy to bed right now, shall we.


Above is the employee ID card for the 1965 season.  (Click to embiggen.) This one survived because after the 1964 card disintegrated, I had this one laminated.  One of the few smart things I did during that period.  Oh, and yes, the photos were taken using one of those photo booths like those in Penny Arcades back in the day.  This was 1965, the dark ages of this sort of technology. Mr. Moses did everything on the cheap.

Unfortunately, none of my original photos from that era survive.  They were lost in the settlement of my previous life and never returned to me. But, I have my memories and this physical reminder.

And speaking of photos, I’ll get the slide copies off the old Windows machine today.  I scanned them into the PC over a year ago, and then the PC up and died.  I’ve waited for 9 months for a co-worker to retrieve them.  He remembered when he got back from Romania 2 weeks ago and finally did the deed.

There are few shots of myself - but I’ll post them anyway. I like to think of them as a part of my history.  Others may simply point and laugh.  Hey! Whatever works.

And so it goes.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Random Thoughts and Goings On

Well, it’s over…for now. The last Chemo treatment was administered
yesterday; while trumpets were not physically in evidence, they were certainly blaring loud and clear in my head. No more puncturing (except for blood) for the coming 3 weeks before phase 2 starts it all over again. I am nothing but a mass of puncture wounds, red welts, and bruises.  Truly a sight to behold.  Or not.

Another patient receiving Vidaza treatments shared a relatively unknown aid for the unsightly skin wound side effects.  He uses Evening Primrose Oil which, he insists takes the sting, red, and swelling away in a matter of days. It also relieves the burning and itching which usually begin a few days after treatment.  Needless to say, the Health/Natural Foods Store is on my Gay Agenda today, as well.

Took a sweet walk around town this morning before breaking my fast, and though it was already hot (82’ at 6:30) there was a nice breeze and the air smelled of the ocean. A brief walk on the boardwalk was followed by a mosey around the south end of town where few cyclists ride and even fewer folks stroll. (The above image is at Silver Lake and yes, those are ducks, gulls, and cormorants resting after their own breakfast from the lake.)

I’ve developed some soreness and swelling in my ankles so an ultrasound is waiting in the wings today to be certain there is no clotting.  A real danger with this brand of Chemo, so they’re taking no chances. Personally, I think I’m not walking enough; not getting the blood pumping through the system.  Just lying in bed reading, isn’t cutting it.

Aside from new bone marrow and a fully-functioning body, there is nothing that I need, but I finally decided what to buy with that Amazon Gift Card: a new cotton blanket (not heavy wool), the Mac  version of Print Shop Deluxe,
(unfortunately, there is no Mac version of Paint Shop Pro I’ve used for years, and I wanted a photo editor), and a case of coffee pods for the Senseo.  No one sells them around here anymore, it’s order from Amazon, or the Netherlands.  Stores in these parts (and I suspect most everywhere else) sell only those silly, wasteful K-cups for the worst machines and even worse tasting coffee. Expensive coffee and the machines are unreliable.  So there!

Placed the order this morning with arrival scheduled for next Monday or Tuesday. And there is still a little credit left over for a couple of Kindle books I’ve had my eye on when I finish what I’m reading now.

I’m off like a herd of turtles to the hospital for the Ultrasound appointment, then it’s home for the rest of the day.  What a surprise! Yay, for me!!!

And so it goes.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Small Town Boy: 30th Anniversary

When this tune was released in 1984 I was a caregiver and up to my eyeballs with AIDS, but something about Somerville’s voice and the tune got into my being. Down deep.  Perfect song for the perfect time. The story of gay-bashing, rejections by family, fear and ultimately - survival.

It became a huge hit world-wide, an anthem, and a sort of watch-cry for gay youth. I was in my 30s and still could easily identify with the pain, anguish, and determination of the song. I've posted the original video a while back, so I'll just go with the new one.

So, here we are 30 years on.  Jimmy Somerville decided to record it again.  This time a more plaintive, low-key version.  Nice to note, he’s still got that fabulous voice.
h/t: JMG

And so it goes.


Not Such Good Neighbors

I live in the middle of the city of Rehoboth Beach, better known as “The Nation’s Summer Capital” due to the close proximity to Washington DC. I love living in town. Until I contracted this cancer I walked everywhere. Work was 3 blocks away, the boardwalk and beach, 5. (Image at left is the parking permit residents receive in order to park on the streets without charge during the summer months. Click to embiggen.)

The city boasts Browseabout Books, one of the best family owned Book Stores in the country. I’ve shopped there for years for gifts, cards, and books unavailable for Kindle. The owners are ready to cater to locals and tourists alike (if you want a NY Times or Washington Post, best get there early, or have one held for you) and as a result, their return business is booming, unlike many other such stores these days.

We also have our very own LGBT book store around the corner, called Proud Books. It's got just about everything rainbow-related one would ever want.

The city has some of the finest restaurants to be found anywhere (we’re not talking Cracker Barrel, IHOP, or Bob Evans - those are on the highway), and the most helpful, friendliest people I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with in all my years on this planet.

There’s a small market around the corner from my place, and in the spring and summer months there is a farmers market once weekly a few blocks away. When I was working, I always made sure that my 1 day off weekly was Tuesdays, so I could visit the farmers market for my fix of home-grown fruits and vegetables.

All this is to say that I wish I could do without the car. Yes, that’s what this is about.  The added expense of owning a vehicle. Not so much the maintenance (I drive so little anymore) but the insurance is a killer. Now over $400. semi-annually. Ouch!!!

So, here’s the thing: I own a 2005 Toyota Corolla that has less than 27K miles
on it.  Not that I drove great distances before, but now I need only drive to the Cancer Center, grocery shop, and run errands a few times a month.  I’m trying to think of ways to cut insurance costs (it costs more, I drive less, and I’ve an excellent record) That I drive less than 100 miles monthly, doesn’t matter to the insurance company one bit. No help there. I don’t get a discount because I have only one vehicle. In essence, I am subsidizing drivers that do qualify.

I’m wondering if it would help if I cancelled collision coverage; it is a 9 year-old car, after all. I have to think this through. With my luck, as soon as I change coverage, there’ll be an accident and that will be the end.

Still, there’s a part of me that’s afraid to give up the freedom that a car provides, as well as the luxury of being self-sufficient. I can’t ride a bike anymore, and though I’ve thought of a scooter (very popular here these days), I’m not sure I’d want to challenge a drive on Coastal Highway in mid-summer traffic, or in a heavy downpour.

And, as long as I am ambulatory, I can't imagine using the shuttle transport to and from the Center. They drive to the center and back to your home.  No extra stops along the way.  That’s not acceptable to me. At least not now. 

So, the shuttle isn't an option. If, and when I can no longer fend for myself, I’ll decide if it’s time to make it all go away.

First things, first. Right now I have to figure out how to cut my auto insurance costs, or plan on eating a lot more PB & J.

And so it goes.


Back to Iraq?

Yes.  The neo-cons and war mongers are sure there’s more money to be made by wreaking more destruction of lives and land.  So, they’ll provoke - or create - a scenario whereby the USA must send more of our already exhausted young men and women to save face for said imaginary incident.

I am reading the same disturbing lies comments and phrases that filled the media 12 years ago, just like it was yesterday. Even those already discredited “journalists” who shilled for the war in the first place are back in the public eye. Doesn’t anyone else remember?

Grandpa Walnuts can’t keep his stories straight, pointing fingers at everyone but himself, and I swear, if they drag out supreme asshole Doug Feith, I’m moving to Narnia

Besides, there’s no need to bother with expensive drones when human cannon fodder is all around us? 

We will send our young’s to die to make the rich even richer. We will never learn.  We never seem to learn from the past. We’ll be lied into another war and only years from now realize that we were duped yet again.

And so it goes.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Constant Cravings**

There are no dietary restrictions for this version of Chemo. (If you have an appetite, that is.)  However, due to my compromised immune system, I am not allowed to eat many favorite foods…fresh, raw vegetables.  No lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, mushrooms…No fresh salads, period! (Exclamation point?) No munching celery sticks, broccoli florets with a dip, and no fresh fruit - except for melons on rare occasions.  They are protected by outer rinds.  Grapes, strawberries, peaches, plums, etc are all a no-no. Nope, not even bananas because it’s too easy for them to be contaminated in shipping. That’s what I’m told, anyway.

I know.  Most people crave sweets, or soda.  Not this guy. Give me a pound of fresh baby spinach and mushrooms, and I'll be in total heaven til it's all gone - and likely cry for more.  Well, I am queer, after all...

This has been the bane of my existence since diagnosed last October, and while my blood count has had its ups and downs, it hasn’t been steady for any length of time to allow for the enjoyment of those foods listed above.

I am not interested in canned or frozen fruit or vegetables, though I’ve been buying Dole fruit cups to fill the void when my appetite goes bye-bye. But recently, necessity being the mother-fu… of invention, I’ve been experimenting with various salads using canned and frozen veggies and they have fulfilled my need for something tangy and tart - though I would kill for a crisp Caesar Salad.  Beets, carrots, potatoes, baby onions, black, red, white, and french cut beans, artichoke hearts, chick peas, and even canned whole italian tomatoes have been sliced into various concoctions to ease my achy-cravy body.

Some haven’t been half bad, some quite good, and a few were absolutely awful. And sometimes I’m just too tired to think, let alone use my imagination to produce some semi-delicious salad. 

I didn’t know this before, but the frozen veggies such as I’ve been using, are far more expensive than the fresh variety found in the produce aisle - not to mention far less tasty.  Bother!

**With apologies to k. d. lang.

And so it goes.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Thing of Beauty

I hear Idina Menzel singing "Defying Gravity!!!"

You can keep your shoulder pads and helmets. I'd take this any day.

More later.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The First Five Days.

I’ve made it through the first 5 days of the Vidaza Chemo treatments and have been fortunate so far, the worst I’ve experienced is late night stomach nasties, short-term dizziness, nausea, and soreness at each injection site. Each treatment consists of two simultaneous injections on opposite sides of the body.  Left and right upper arms, for example.  Left and right thighs, etc. This requires synchronized punctures by two nurses.  Great fun!  

The subcutaneous injections don’t hurt initially, but the sites tend to swell, harden, turn bright red, sensitive, and hot to the touch. This interferes with a sound sleep (not that I’ve enjoyed that lately) and even clothing brushing the areas can be painful.

Two more to go and I’m off for three weeks. As I said, the injections are given in duplicate, and I’ve run out of viable places to be poked. Both arms, legs, stomach, and arms, again, have been accessed and remain quite tender to the touch. 

Maybe by Monday, one or more spots will be healed enough for access again. I don’t know how long it takes for the sites to return to normal, but I hope it’s pretty quick. The legs are the worst.

There is only a hint of appetite, and I’ve noticed a change in how certain foods “feel” (for want of a better word) on the tongue and in the mouth. I still enjoy a cup of coffee, but tea has a decidedly strange taste. Of course, I am always thirsty and iced water is the only thing that takes care of that problem.

Jeez!  The things we learn about our bodies at times like these. I guess I am fortunate that I have great medical folks to answer most of my stupid questions - and they don’t find them stupid at all. 

Since I have to don the Mask when in public again, I doubt I’ll be out and about much this weekend.  Maybe just an early walk on the boards to hold on to what’s left of my sanity will be in order.

All said and done, I think things are going as well as can be expected. I am looking forward to Tuesday, the last day of this treatment cycle.  Maybe I can get some rest after that until it starts all over again in July...

And so it goes.


R.I.P. Little Jimmy Scott

Such sad news. One of my all-time fave vocalists with the rarest talent musically, has passed away. I wrote about him previously, even posted a link to a YouTube music video, too. His voice could make a grown man weep. His control, phrasing and overall mastery of his voice kept him going after years of being ripped off.

From the Guardian:
Jimmy Scott, the US jazz singer whose haunting contralto voice won him acclaim over the course of more than seven decades, has died at the age of 88.
Scott's wife, Jeanie, said her husband died in his sleep at his Las Vegas home on Thursday. He had battled health problems stemming from a genetic hormone deficiency and had been under the care of a home nurse. Jeanie Scott said her husband stopped touring two years ago but continued recording. He's expected to be buried in Cleveland.
The vocalist, whose first major hit was Everybody's Somebody's Fool in 1949 alongside the Lionel Hampton Band, gathered new generations of fans during the 1960s and in the 1990s when he toured with Lou Reedand sang on the track, Sycamore Trees, for the series finale of Twin Peaks.
Born into a family of 10 in Cleveland, Ohio, on 17 July 1925, Scott sang in a church choir as a child. His signature high voice came from Kallmann's syndrome, which kept him from experiencing puberty and stunted his growth. He stood just under five feet as an adultand his voice did not change.
Although that trait ultimately helped Scott stand out as a singer, he also suffered from congestive heart failure and had a lifestyle that included heavy drinking and smoking.
Despite his youthful sound, Scott brought heavy emotion to his delivery, often dramatically drawing out lyrics and singing far behind the beat. The technique won praise from Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson and Madonna, who after seeing him perform in 1994 told the New York Times that Scott was the only singer who ever made her cry.
"Jimmy had soul way back when people weren't using the word," Ray Charles once said in a PBS documentary on the history of jazz.
The album Falling in Love Is Wonderful came out in the 1960s and is widely considered to be his masterpiece, although he largely disappeared from view until his 1990s career revival. His 1992 album All the Way sold only 49,000 copies in the United States but earned him cult-like popularity in Europe and Asia, particularly Japan, where he often sold out performances.
A record label dispute prevented Scott from making an album in the 1950s produced by Ray Charles. Scott's previous record company, Savoy Records, said it had an exclusive, lifetime contract with him, and the company blocked Scott's efforts to release new records for nearly 20 years.
Savoy Records dropped the matter in the 1970s. By that time, Scott had returned to Cleveland, where he worked as a hotel clerk and nursing home aide.
Scott performed at Dwight Eisenhower's and Bill Clinton's presidential inaugurations and was inducted into the R&B Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
His wife Jeanie said on Friday: "He was an Earth angel. He was different from any person I ever met. He was kind, humble. Everyone he met he made them feel special. He had a hard life, but he didn't hold any resentment."
Describing Scott to the Observer in 2010, the Amercian singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens said : "He sang in this lilting, odd, almost grandmotherly voice, but it was also so youthful. It was like he was extremely old and extremely young simultaneously.
And so it goes.

Caturday at the Movies

Stop groaning, please. It was better than the original.

More later.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Short Post on Men’s Shorts

Ever since singer(?) Pharrell Williams wore a tuxedo with short pants to the Oscars  everyone seems to be buzzing about this cool (no pun intended) new trend.  Now, his hats are another story!!!

Note: I had such a tuxedo with shorts (satin stripe down the side, and all) purchased in a Mod-shop in London in 1966 that also featured a kilt for a change of “the look.”  Fortunately, that look didn’t last long. At least not in the US.  Although kilts were around the gay community until about 1970 when the “clone” look took over for the next two decades.

I always liked shorter shorts - sort of the old Bermuda length, or shorter - and cannot abide the black-influenced baggy things that pass for shorts today. I don’t think they make any man look attractive, masculine, or the least bit sexy. Like the pants around your ass look, I think it makes white guys look like they’re trying to be cool black guys.  It just doesn’t work that way. When I see guys in baggy culottes  I think of a toddler forced to wear hand-me-downs from an older sibling. To him, it’s just something to grow into. Poor thing.

Not that I dare to wear shorts of any kind anymore, but I do have a few pair of cargo shorts originally purchased for the NOLA holiday last year.  And glad I did.  It was so hot at times, I didn’t care what my legs looked like as long as they were cool and sweat-free. 

Lately, I’ve seen ads for suits with short pants from various big name companies, but they have no style, design, no je ne sais quoi.  They look like suits off the racks, in traditional fabrics and colors, with the legs hacked off at varying lengths.  Yes, these suit shorts come in a Bermuda length, a to-the-knee length, and what I call the peddle-pusher length.  Horrible. 

Thank all the stars in heaven they are not wearing socks or sandals . This is supposedly the “hot, new trend” for summer 2014.  I think I’ll pass, but there’s no guarantee I won’t laugh when I see some fashionista dork trying to look cool in this - whatever it is. 

Now, I could see this look in the deep, hot, humid South in a pink or blue seersucker or white linen, but not on a grand fashion scale.

Personally, I doubt this look will take off within the gay community; we have certainly abdicated our responsibilities in recent years.

I seem to remember when fashion made a statement, now it seems only to ask the question…WHY?

Maybe it’s just my age showing.

And so it goes.


Pet Shop Boys Call For Mass Pardons

Pet Shop Boys To Call For Pardons For Thousands Of Men Convicted Of
Homosexual Acts
From the Independent:
BRITAIN: Pet Shop Boys are to use a new orchestral work about the computer pioneer Alan Turing to call for the “tens of thousands of men” imprisoned or fined for committing homosexual acts to be pardoned.
A Man From the Future, created by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, will premiere at the Proms on July 23 .
The Pardon, the last song, references the posthumous pardon granted to Turing, who was prosecuted for gross indecency and chemically castrated in 1952. Tennant and Lowe will urge the government to pardon others convicted before homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967.
“So very many lives were ruined over such a long period,” said Tennant. “Frankly it rather disappoints me that Stonewall [the gay rights group] has not done more. So we’re making the statement ourselves.”
The rest is behind a pay wall.

(Alan Turing, code-breaker and father of the computer, was finally pardoned posthumously last December, 2013.)

And so it goes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SCOTUS to BP: Pay Up.

BP took their most recent - and slimiest - shot at getting their initial agreement annulled.  Didn't work.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court says BP must continue paying claims from a fund established after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill while the company appeals terms of its settlement with some businesses.
The justices on Monday let stand without comment lower court refusals to halt payments while BP PLC appeals lower court rulings that businesses don't have to prove they were directly harmed by the spill to collect money.
The 5th Circuit and a district court have ruled that BP must stand by its agreement to pay such business claims without requiring strict proof that the spill caused losses.
The order indicates that the high court is unlikely to hear BP's appeal, said Loyola University law professor Blaine LeCesne, who is not involved in the case. BP contends that that the claims administrator is misinterpreting its agreement with many businesses.
"It's obviously a major victory for the plaintiffs, who can now proceed with processing these business economic loss claims," he said. "Given the several months interim before the Supreme Court rules on the appeal, likely many of these claims will have been processed and paid."
Steve Herman and Jim Roy, lead attorneys for businesses and individuals who have filed claims against BP, said in a one-sentence statement that the order "will allow businesses to continue to receive the compensation they're rightly entitled to according to the objective, transparent formulas agreed to by BP."
I wonder how much longer they can stall as they appeal this valid agreement into the ground. I'm surprised that BP's not used the "Panic Defense" thus far. The media has all but forgotten the people and family businesses most harmed - or destroyed - by the spill. Not to mention the still-very-tainted Gulf of Mexico. 

Still, it’s good that the Supremes threw BP out on their slimy ear.

And so it goes.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Treatments - Old and New

Well, it went better than expected. The first Vidaza Chemo treatment left me with few side effects, and I didn’t experience an allergic reaction that was also a fear of the staff at the cancer center. They made me hang around after the injections just to be sure there’d be no trip to the ER in my future. How I'll feel after the 7th day's injections is anybody's guess.  I'll take it one day at a time.

The immediate side effect was light-headedness and nausea that stayed with me for a few hours into the evening, but the drive home was managed without incident. (I’m getting pretty good at being cautious, concentrating on only one thing - the traffic.) I even managed to wolf down a sandwich for the evening meal before turning off the lights.

I did experience the stomach nasties during the night, which wracked my body and disturbed my sleep, but nothing worse than the previous chemo, or even the Prednisone. (Shivers!)

What was disturbing was running into a “friend” from the previous life at the Center who is being treated for breast cancer. She recognized my voice as I chatted with other patients in the lounge waiting area and reluctantly came over to say “hello”. I was surprised because this was the first time she recognized me publicly in the 8 years since the breakup. She treated me in a strange off-handed way.  Very odd, indeed.

We shared recent health issues and other small talk. She raved about how wonderful her partner has been throughout this trying time, then asked me who was caring for me.  When I said “no one” she looked away and stopped speaking. People really are very strange. I guess she assumed that there was someone new in my life, then embarrassed that there wasn't such a person.

A few minutes later we said our goodbyes, wished each other luck and went our separate ways - she to radiation and I to my first Chemo injection treatment. It was a curious and interesting meeting, but I doubt she’d acknowledge me if she saw me again, in public.

Anyway...This drug drains away all energy, so the bed is my bestest friend - again. Six more days of injections, then I am off for 3 weeks.  I learned that this regime lasts for 4 months, so they won’t be looking for much of a change - unless negative - until October.  Much longer than I was initially told. There goes another summer! 

Still, it could have been worse. I am not allergic to this drug, so just holding on for 7 days of injections is not much of a big deal.  Annoying, yes. Because, among other things, I must again don the Isolation Mask when I go out in public.  Yes, the overall CBC crashes almost instantly.  

Not that I’l have the energy to do any exploring, mind you.  (that was last week) It’s just the thought, I suppose. Oh well…

Speaking of thoughts...I wonder if I'll lose my hair?  Heh heh!

And so it goes.


A Dangerous Chemical !?!

I found this on a newsgroup. Funny, but so sad. 
H2O: Dangerous Chemical! 
A student at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair, April 26. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide."
And for plenty of good reasons, since:
it can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
it is a major component in acid rain
it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
accidental inhalation can kill you
it contributes to erosion
it decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients 
He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical.
  • Forty-three (43) said yes,
  • Six (6) were undecided,
  • and only one (1) knew that the chemical was water.
The title of his prize winning project was, "How Gullible Are We?"
He feels the conclusion is obvious.

Yes Virginia, the stoopid, it burns.

And so it goes.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

TMI - Pride 2014

1. Tell me about your first Pride.
June 1970, the first Christopher Street Liberation Day march in NYC. From the Village up Fifth Avenue to Central Park. Stonewall tore the city apart the previous year and things still hadn’t settled down.  There was an uneasy truce with the NYPD and some doubted the first march to commemorate the first anniversary of the riots would happen at all.  It did, it was a mind-blowing experience, (though there was some fear) that so many gay folks came together to make the day happen. 

2. What did that first Pride mean to you?
 FREEDOM! While I was out, it hurt that so many others couldn’t be - but were there, anyway. Masked or disguised, but there. On the other hand it was also “about time” after years of protests and fighting the NYPD, Mayor Lindsey’s City Hall and the mob, who owned every sleazy gay bar in town.

3. How many different Prides have you been to?
I marched in every NYC pride event from the first in 1970 up through 1989 ( a marshal from 84 - 89) when virtually all my friends had died of AIDS. It became too strained, forced, surreal. I marched in Minneapolis Pride in 1982 because I was there on business, so what the hell!

4. Do you fly the Pride Flag and/or stick it to anything?
Used to fly the 4 X 6 size from the house in my previous life. Now there is a small one on my front door, and a sticker on the car. And whenever I write to my elected officials, there is always a rainbow sticker somewhere on the envelope. Just so they know.

5. Do you still celebrate Pride? What does it mean to you now?
I began celebrating again when I moved to Delaware, although their Pride event is an open fair with entertainment, no march or parade, and it happens in September. I don’t spend too much time there. I still get depressed when I remember friends lost and the great times in NYC.
6. Does Pride need improving? If so, what changes would you make?
The only thing I think needs more doing is educating our young’uns about our/their history. Teach them to be proud of who they are every day, not just around friends at a Pride event. A bold step for some here in the tiny state of Delaware, but more and more are choosing to come out.  Makes me proud.

7. How do you give back?
In the early days I was a member of The Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. Later I worked with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. In the 80s and 90s (before moving to DE, my then spouse and I were mentors at P-FLAG, NJ. During the height of the AIDS crisis of the 80s I worked within the Buddy System; was full-time care giver for the younger brother of my then spouse, until his death in 1987. I was spent, burned out.  Could never handle that emotional roller coaster ever again. I’ll be around for others, but only in minor supporting roles.  

What kind of trouble or embarrassing moment have you had during Pride?
Got my head busted by NYPD for pausing in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral - shouting “Shame, Shame” while shaking my fist at the church. Cop must have been a catholic homophobe, because I got busted pretty good. Missed the post-march event (in those days) in Central Park. Instead, I was at St. Vincent’s hospital receiving stitches and ending the evening with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red to ease my pain and ego.

Thanks to Sean over at “Just a Jeep Guy”

And so it goes.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Congratulations Wisconsin

"It is DECLARED that art. XIII, § 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution violates plaintiffs' fundamental right to marry and their right to equal protection of laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

From Freedom To Marry:
“Today’s decision out of Wisconsin marks the twentieth consecutive ruling by a federal or state judge since last year that a discriminatory state marriage ban is unconstitutional. Across the country, the courts agree: same-sex couples and their families need the dignity of marriage, and anti-marriage laws are indefensible. With over 70 marriage cases now making their way through the courts, today's decision in Wisconsin underscores that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry. It's time now for the Supreme Court to bring resolution nationwide.”
And it is good brother.  And it was God-Damned Good!

And so it goes.

Most Interesting Caturday

Forget the Dos XX!

More later.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Learning the Chemo Cha-Cha

I Don’t Know This Dance

Here I thought I was doing so well - no transfusions for 3 weeks running - but
that ended today. CBC lower than it has been in months (without new blood, I guess that would happen to someone with my cancer) I required 2 units today.

The oncologist also decided that I will begin a new, stronger Chemo next week. Injections on 7 consecutive days followed by 3 weeks off. A different injection site chosen each day because the site of the previous day will be sore, discolored and swollen. The side effects aren’t friendly - a far cry from the last Chemo - but he’s hoping this might turn things around by summer’s end.  

I had multiple warnings from nurses today regarding things to expect and if I happen to experience an allergic reaction, not attempt driving myself to the hospital, but call 911, instead.  Charming.  On the flip side, they all think I’ll handle it quite well. I hope to live up to their expectations.

This new turn of events has certainly put a damper on my spirits. It was more depressing than usual as I sat for 6 hours receiving new blood with all the other sick people around me. 

I don’t know what to expect, so planning for the worst is out of the question.  There are far too  many “what-if’s” to be concerned at this point. I’ll take it as it comes. But it sure is a downer after these past weeks of feeling pretty good. At least I haven’t got too much hair to lose! Oh well, it is what it is.

Just in case it knocks me for a loop, I’m going to download a few new books for the hours and days I’ll be spending in bed. It will keep  me busy and take my mind off of everything unpleasant. 

And so it goes.

70 Years Ago

Remembering my uncles Jim and Joe

And so it goes.

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