Saturday, December 29, 2012

So Long To An Awkward Stage

But will it usher in the beginning of a new stage of growth and maturity, or one of angst, rebellion and conflict?

Our century is entering into its teen years. And like all pre-teens, it seems like it's in an awful hurry to get there. And it's no wonder.

In the past twelve years, as a species, we've come quite a way. And so have I.

I've started getting the feeling that I'm entering into my second teenage phase.

Like the rest of the world, I've experienced the wonders and the horrors of this century so far with such robust joy and deep sorrow as I would never have imagined.

I've had experiences which have made me weaker, and those that have made me stronger.

And through it all, I, like the world around me, have persevered. We've made it.

For me, personally, the past twelve years were like my first twelve years of life. I had to learn so much right from scratch.

From 2000 to 2002, I began to become acclimated to my new home state in a very different climate, both in terms of weather and culture. I solidified and intensified bonds with brand new friends while diminishing the influence of friends and family from the old homestead. I was reborn, in my thirties, as a Floridian.

Like all toddlers, I had to endure structure and guidelines in order to learn, but I reacted poorly to appropriate discipline imposed upon me due to childish and inconsiderate behavior. This cost me to lose a lot of what I'd held onto as near and dear. And in order to grow, I had to let go.

From 2002 to 2005, I struggled with the imposition of discipline and the impetus towards selfishness. And though they were rough years, they were ultimately to become the formative years, in the redevelopment and enrichment of my psyche.

Now it was time for some formal elementary schooling. I had to learn how to avoid potential pitfalls during a vulnerable stage, navigate through the rigors of pre-conceptions and expectations, hone interactivity skills to garner favor and prestige and keep ever-prescient the goal to succeed at learning as much as could be.

From 2005 to 2011, like a child going from grade to grade, I moved from job to job, learning new and diverse lessons in each "class". Each one taught me more about aspects of the next one because when it all boils down to it, experience does matter. Frustrations from one year could either escalate in the next or be alleviated almost entirely, but this was just like in school, no two years were alike.

But as in a youngster's transition from elementary to middle school, I soon started to get the hang of things. I was able to play the system to some degree and zero in on areas of interest that pointed towards more long-term goals.

From 2011 to present, it's like I've finally met with my guidance counselor and had a say in the courses I'd be obligated to take. There's still a lot of structure, and discipline is just around the corner, but multi-year plans are more predictable. And so is my response to challenges and adversity.

Much like my previous 12-year old self, I feel ready to take on new tasks with vigor and confidence. This had been lacking for much of the past few years.

And maybe I sense that the world is with me on this. Perhaps we all are ready to embark on our teenaged years together with renewed enthusiasm and optimism?

Remember the first time around? We all wanted to get to our 18th birthday. We just KNEW, we didn't even doubt, that once we got there, the world would be our oyster.

So here's to the dawn of 2013! Let's enjoy the journey and learn from our experiences, good and bad. 'Cause I know, certainly, by the time we reach 2018, we're going to find our shining pearl.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mayan Apocalypse!

It's almost that time, kiddies! The end of the world. Yay!

Ever wonder why the world is ending in a couple of days?

Here's why...

Yup. It's another Koyaanisqatsi Degauss high-quality production.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The End Of A Bad Tradition

Like every single one of the other seven billion people on Earth, I make mistakes.

One of those was the "tradition" I've carried on for the past few years of espousing my disdain for religiosity in the form of over-the-top "shock jock" (as I perceived it) style "humor". Namely, I'm talking about my annual Christmas Day accounting of the tragedies which happen to occur on that day.

I'm not going to link to those posts which exist on this blog, but in the same vain I'll, for the sake of "owning up to it", not delete them either. I have always said that this blog will endure the minimum of hindsight-aided editing in order to bear witness to my life, which, as with all of us, comes with its ups and downs and all the virtual warts and pimples as well.

Why the change of heart? Oh, rest assured, it's no relinquishment of my animosity towards religion and its blind followers. It is still the primary reason this world is as fucked up as it is and I despise how non-religious people are treated as demons by many theists who maintain that there can be no inherent goodness in a person who doesn't ascribe to their version of an almighty god.

But to use acts of random chaos, strife, and disaster as vindication of a godless worldview is stupid and wrong. And yes, today's insane massacre in Connecticut hit home that point good and well, let me tell you. I may not believe there is a God, but I shed more than a couple of tears in light of this unspeakable tragedy like any other human being.

So will death and destruction suddenly not befall the fate of the world on December 25th this year just because I won't post about it? Of course not. Shit will happen as it always does. But I'll recognize that sometimes a bitter joke that isn't funny does more harm than good.

And I think this world could do with a little less harm right now.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The First Gay TV Family?

As stated in this After Elton article, depictions of gay characters are pretty common today on broadcast and cable television in the US. But, as they also point out, that wasn't the case until pretty recently in the scheme of things, 1997 actually, when openly gay characters, thanks to "The Puppy Episode" of the Ellen show, started to literally come out of the screenwriters' closet.

But looking back at some oldies but goodies, I can't help but think that maybe there was a bit o' lavender shading to many classics that never SAID it represented gay life but can arguably be pointed at as being very, very similar.

My Two Dads (1987-1990)
Two young hipster guys gain the custody of a twelve-year-old girl after her mom dies. The girl may or may not be the biological daughter of one of them. They raise her as "her two dads".

The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1969 - 1972)
Young good-looking widower is charged with raising his young son alone. But his son and the Japanese housekeeper try to arrange a new wife to enter the scene. But it never happens. I wonder why?

Family Affair (1966 - 1971)
A never-married bachelor in his 40's with a live-in man-servant takes in his orphaned nephews and nieces and a happy, two adult men/three child family they do make.

My Three Sons (1960 - 1972)
Neat and orderly engineer and his live-in older male relative raise three boys. Not a woman to be found in this household...for twelve years?

Bonanza (1959 - 1973)
Let's face it, this is the longest-running gay family show in history. Wifeless Lorne Green raises his horse-riding, cowboy sons on a vast ranch called "Ponderosa". Ponderosa means "heavy" in Latin, implying that the plot of the show was a lot heavier than many could deal with at the time. Plus, c'mon, "Hoss" ("Daddy Bear"), "Little Joe"("Cub Bear"), "Candy"("Twink")...all serviced by yet another man-servant rice-queen dream "Hop Sing"? Oh please!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Feeling Sunday Morning Fever

Tonite I attended the final Orlando showing of the touring Broadway musical "Sister Act".

I gotta tell you, I was a little surprised.

For one, the show is only loosely based on the plot of the early '90s hit movie of the same name starring Whoopi Goldberg. It diverges in all the right places for a musical though, especially a comedy musical as this most assuredly was. Though the original film was also a comedy, this musical theater version takes it up a notch or two into the realm of light-hearted farce.

Now the jokes and quips were nowhere near as biting or potentially-touchy as those in say, "Nunsense", so it stayed definitely safe for all audiences, but it was tongue-in-cheek satirical enough about Catholic nuns to at least satisfy my tastes.

Also, the time period it was set in was the late seventies, rather than the then-contemporary times of the early nineties as in the film. This allowed for a thematic feel for the music to evoke the disco era. This was yet another surprise as I had expected the songs from the film to be used. Nope, it was all original music. No "My God" (sung to the tune of that Motown fav "My Guy") or "I Will Follow Him". Now these were my favorites from the movie and it would have been great to hear them done live, but you know what, this original music was really, really good!

I was surprised at the talent as well. They were phenomenal!

Tonite's playbill included the inserted announcement that the lead Deloris Van Cartier ("as in Cartier's") would be filled by Rashidra Scott. This wasn't an understudy replacement , it was a permanent replacement of the scheduled performer Ta'rea Campbell who had been with the tour since it began earlier this fall. Don't know what happened there, but Rashidra was flawless! I searched out Ta'rea and saw some YouTube performances of hers and, well, very similar to my experiences with both "La Cage" and "Wicked", I think I saw the better one.

I have to give it up as well, in order of my preference, for Hollis Resnick as Mother Superior, E. Clayton Cornelious as "Sweaty" Eddie Souther, and Lael Van Keuren as Sister Mary Robert. Resnick's solo "Haven't Got A Prayer" was sung a bit too well for a campy production such as this. The song was almost too serious.  We didn't want anything resembling seriousness or even suspension of disbelief...we wanted a hilarious marriage of farce and Vegas. And as the show progressed into more and more campy antics mixed with ever-escalating levels of spectacle and glitz, man we got it! Especially in the finale.

My eyes are still blinded by the sequins...oh the sequins!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

All I Need Is The Air That I Breathe

Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you

The Air That I Breathe - Hollies

I always figured Florida as being a relatively safe state to live in when considering environmental hazards. And when comparing it to places like Ohio or Western Pennsylvania, I guess it is.

But alarmingly, my Floridian sunshine-filled skies may not be as squeaky-clean as they seem.

My home, here in Orlando, apparently is under a constant cloud of nearly imperceptible fine particulate caused by area coal-fired power plants. Some of the biggest in the country.

I did a bit of research this morning after I got curious about one power station very close to my home in the southeastern section of town. Situated no more than a couple of miles from me, as the crow flies, is this facility, Stanton Energy Center with its two ominous-looking cooling towers.

It's kinda out in the midst of, well, nothing, since the area is pretty much just undeveloped scrub brush and swamps so one wouldn't have the frequent occasion to drive past it...unless you travel the Beachline toll highway heading towards Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach. I noticed it looming there as I drove towards my cruise departure port last week. Of course I recognized that I'd seen it several times before when flying in or out of nearby Orlando International Airport. To me it always looked like images of Three Mile Island so I assumed it might be a nuclear power plant.

It's arguably much worse. The two main reactors are coal fueled with an additional natural gas plant and a recent token puny 6MW solar farm.

So after a little research, which was a bit difficult because it seems the local newspaper, The Orlando Sentinel, had little to say about this plant other than this article in July. It sounds to me like they're saying "Well gosh folks, at least they're trying to make things better!" Maybe because this wasn't a public service news piece, it was in the business section which is simply a primer to help rich people figure out how to become richer.

According to leading environmental watch group sites though, they have quite a ways to go in actual improvements. This plant was recently named NUMBER 1 in the nation in coal waste pollution.

And if that wasn't bad enough, the following facilities, all within a 60 mile radius of me, and, mainly to the west - the direction from which prevailing winds come - are cumulatively even worse. I've included the number of anticipated annual deaths attributable to the toxic emissions put out by these guys:
  • McIntosh Power Plant, 5 deaths per year
  • Polk Power Plant, 1 death per year
  • Central Power & Lime Power Plant, 3 deaths per year
  • Crystal River Energy Complex, 76 deaths per year
And my "friendly neighborhood" plant adds another 11 more per year.

Remember these are just the closest facilities to me. There are 8 other coal plants in Florida alone. And the air quality is affected in a radius of much more than just 60 miles...try hundreds of miles.

Here's some more fun facts I found:

Just two of the coal-fired units at the massive Crystal River Complex near Tampa puts out the equivalent of 830,000 automobile emissions per year!

And just down the road, Stanton Energy Center, all by itself, can burn up to 21 trainloads of coal, yup - TRAINLOADS - each at least a mile long carrying about 10,000 tons. How frequently? Drum roll please...EACH MONTH!!!

I'd gasp, but I really don't want to inhale any more than I absolutely need to.