Category Archives: Current Events

A few random emotions…

stupefied – I am astonished by the crash of US Airways flight 1549. I have had several bird strikes while working–albeit never to the engine, both times were the landing gear. I never feared it would bring down the plane. This could have been catastrophic, but instead, truly is a miracle. What are the odds that there would be a bird strike in both engines, on takeoff, incapacitating both engines? Then to have to land in a busy river like the Hudson, in January, with no obstacles (ice, ferries, boats, bridges), airplane intact, with only serious injuries to one person? I’m stupefied.

electrified – With only 3 days left until the inauguration of President-Elect Obama, I am as giddy as a schoolgirl. Clearly, Obama has many seemingly insurmountable issues to address. The issues of the war in Iraq and the awful economy alone could take years to resolve. Still, I am exhilarated by the prospect of change.

nonplussed – A) I just love that word. B) I wonder if President Bush is as perplexed by his 2 terms as I am. Judging by his final press conference and national address, I doubt it. I still have an incredibly difficult time understanding how he was elected…twice.

aggravated – I saw a clip from CNN of Rick Sanchez. He was giving commentary on the whole Joe the Plumber/reporter situation. Initially, I thought, “Oh, I like this guy (Sanchez, not the fake plumber/reporter).” Then a day later I watched as Sanchez “interviewed” a survivor from the US Airways crash. It wasn’t so much of an interview as it was Sanchez talking over the poor guy. He would ask him a question and immediately talk over the guy, basically giving the answer that he was trying to get out of the interviewee. I am so tired of that kind of shit. So, for me, Rick Sanchez and I are through. It was a fun two days, after all he is strikingly handsome.

Advertisements

Tyler’s Favorite Things

I cannot begin to tell you how sick I am of Oprah. I’m sorry, especially if you think she is the best thing to happen to humanity since Gandhi. This is not the first time you’ve heard this from me. But, it bears repeating. Surriously. I’m tired of her…retire already. I really should be honest, though. I’m fiercely jealous. I can only dream of having her influence on pop-culture. Hell, she has a god-like influence on culture in general. I’m screwed.

So, I’m just going to take an extremely pretentious approach to this situation. Listen up! I, too, have a list of favorite things. I won’t pretend that you’ll get excited about anything on my list. Frankly, that’s your problem. And, don’t expect to receive anything from me in the form of a gift. The only thing you are only going to receive from me is a link to Amazon or Wikipedia or wherever the fuck I decide. You can buy my favorite things yourself. So here they are in no particular order…Tyler’s Favorite Things:

**The Flip. Oprah also included this on her list. But let me be clear, I was first. I saw a review of it in the New York Times and bought one. She was way behind the curve on this one. Simply put, The Flip is a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use video camera. It’s tiny and you can pull it out of your bag and start recording in seconds. There are only a few buttons on this very hip device. Don’t forget to also check out all of the very cool accessories.

**The iPhone 3G. Really, enough said. I absolutely love mine and wonder on a daily basis how I ever lived without it. I will admit that the 3G had a rough start. I can tell you from personal experience that the cell phone service and device’s bug issues have improved immensely over the last 6 months. It still may not be perfect and may not be for everyone, but I am in love. It’s cool and it’s got like 1,000 uses.

**Eva Cassidy. I am embarassed to say that I didn’t even know who Eva Cassidy was until I started to investigate David Archuleta (American Idol runner-up, Season 7). He performed a cover of “Imagine” that was very similar to Eva Cassidy’s version. I stumbled upon her and ended up buying every available recording. She is no longer alive, but left us some incredibly amazing music.

**Skagen watches. I accidently discovered these amazingly thin, yet sturdy, watches while I was looking for a new Fossil watch. They are made by a Danish company and are very sleek. I love my Skagen watch.

**Ketel One Dirty Martinis. mmmmmmmm. Do I really have to tell you why I love Ketel One Dirty Martinis?

**Twitter. If you don’t like it or don’t get it, this one is definitely not for you. Twitter is a social-media website in which you answer the question “What are you doing?” For those of you who have a Facebook page, Twitter’s function is similar to the status update feature. The uses of Twitter have broadened immensely over the last year, however. All kinds of businesses, websites, bloggers, etc. use it to share important updated information. The personal aspect is still there, but the site has grown beyond its initial “tell me what you’re up to” purpose. I actually use it to update my Facebook status as well as to keep current with numerous friends, blogs, and businesses that I follow.

You may not be rushing out to buy or sign up for my list of favorite things. But, I had fun thinking about the things I have discovered over the past year that really made me happy. Check them out.

A semi-final word…

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an announcement to make. I am in a relationship. It’s something really special. No, we didn’t make a mad rush to the courthouse to get married before election day. But despite the devastating outcome of California’s Prop. 8 (same-sex marriage ban), my relationship is still valid. I guarantee it is real. I’m not just pretending. Jeff is a real, live person. He and I have been together for over three years. He is a man and I am a man. We are a couple. No amendment to the state constitution can change that.

I first came out about 10 years ago. I came out to friends and family about 8 years ago. Yet, after all this time, I am amazed at how many people still don’t take it seriously. Folks, I’m gay. Sure, I went to Bible College and even “dated” a few girls, but, let me be clear: I am gay.

In reflecting over the last 16 years since I went to college, I felt like many of my friends from that time deserved to know what happened with me. After all, I spent a lot of time in college lying to myself and to them. We all deserved some honesty. Why did I leave the Church? How could I be gay? Over the last several years, I have spent a lot of time explaining myself to my friends from Bible College. For the few that actually read this blog, let me say: I’m moving on. No more apologies for past lies. No more sugar-coating things to make you more comfortable. With the passing of Prop. 8, I’m officially done. I tried to do the right thing and apologize for any hurt I may have caused. I’ve realized that you cannot always trust people to do the right thing. Now, hopefully we can trust the court system to protect us.

I realize that very few of my college friends actually live in California and couldn’t even vote on the proposition. But, many have made their feelings clear anyway. They don’t want equality. They don’t even want to validate gay relationships. They do this every time they call Jeff my “friend,” every time they suggest that I “date Jesus.” Whenever someone whispers “gay” as if it’s an inappropriate or dirty word only to say it loud and clear when they are using it to mean “stupid” or “dumb,” that is offensive.

Please understand that we will eventually have the right to marry. One day it will be considered completely normal for some people to be gay and society will not force that same part of the population to make unrealistic and devastating decisions about their sexuality at such a young age. I hope that when it happens and you feel for the 1,000th time that this country is falling apart; I hope that you remember you contributed to those struggles. I hope that you look up and see your weapon of choice, the Bible, aimed aggressively at me. Maybe then you’ll realize that you can’t make everyone see the world as you do.

Actually, I’m not asking for your acceptance or support. You don’t even need to agree with my beliefs. I’m just asking for you to cease fire. Stop attacking in the name of God, country, and, family. I can’t think of anything that would be more productive to your cause.

I should mention that some of the most supportive and loving people that I know are friends from Bible College. I am so thankful for those few. You right the wrongs with your love and kindness toward the gay community. Thank you.

Please take 6 and 1/2 minutes and watch Keith Olbermann’s eloquent, passionate, and powerful commentary on the passing of Prop. 8.

My Plea

Alright folks. I’ve been a well-behaved blogger this past month. I haven’t wanted to get all political on you. There, quite frankly, is more than enough of that already, everywhere. If you want to read about the presidential campaign, you could go to just about any website. And chances are, there is nothing that I could really say that would get you to change your mind. But, this is my blog and so I’ll write what I think. And, I have to say at least something about the election.

Please don’t vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Seriously. Don’t do it. If you are doing it because you think that Obama is a Muslim, first of all, shame on you, why would that matter? Second of all, um, get a clue, because he has repeatedly said that he is not. If you are voting for McCain because he is white and Obama is half-black, again, shame on you, why does that matter? If you are voting for McCain because you are uncomfortable with the name “Barack Obama,” I have this to say, shame on you, really? If you are going to vote for John McCain, I can’t stop you. You need to vote for the candidate who best represents how you feel on the issues. But I can say this: Please don’t do it. If you are unhappy with the direction George W. Bush has taken this country, please don’t do it. We deserve better as a country. The world deserves better from us.

Please vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Barack Obama is better for the economy.
Barack Obama is better for the future of this country.
Barack Obama is better for the equality of all people.

OBAMA Pictures, Images and Photos

That about sums it up for me. I’ve said it, and now I’m done. I’ll be back to business as usual after I say one more thing to all Californians…

Please vote NO on Prop. 8.

For Californians, Proposition 8 proposes to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. We currently enjoy this right. The state has not fallen into the ocean since marriage became legal for gays and lesbians. God did not send wrath upon the state of California. Please. Regardless of your beliefs about marriage, everyone should have the right to marry. It is wrong to say that two people do not deserve to get married because they are the same sex. Equality, folks. Gays and Lesbians getting married does not give marriage any less value. It does not tear a family apart. It allows a family to be validated. Please vote NO on Prop. 8.

Well, that’s it. That’s all your going to get out of me this election season. I had to say something. Remember to vote on November 4.

no on prop 8 Pictures, Images and Photos

Disconnect to Reconnect

It’s been several weeks since I read a very interesting and thought provoking NY Times article by Ben Stein. The article really grabbed my attention and gave me an idea. This happens sometimes, I get an idea and need to let it simmer for several weeks until it is cooked to perfection. Sometimes I have so many ideas simmering that they start to blend together and form a disgusting murky stew of thought. This time around, however, I’ve been very focused on one thing. Like a series of kitchen timers going off at random moments, its bells have kept me focused on every call, every text, every email, every thing my iPhone keeps track of. It is constantly demanding my attention, and I have mixed feelings about it.

We, as collective group of technologically driven people, like to think that our portable electronic devices have minds of their own. We take great joy in using the adjective intuitive to describe them. A good software program knows what we want before we even know what we want. It can even give us choices if we want. These devices enhance our lives and help keep us organized, connected, and entertained. However, they also do a really good job of sequestering us from the world around us. They distract us from a distracting world.

Cell phones, in particular, are this way. If we aren’t talking on them, we are texting on them. I think that in our efforts to stay connected, we are actually being disconnected from our immediate environment. This is acutely evident when people drive, talk, and text; and it’s why there are so many cell phone related car accidents. Not to mention train accidents, in San Francisco alone this year I know of at least three train accidents that involved a conductor and a cell phone. We are the ones in control, though. We have to choose to turn those devices on, although in some cases our devices know to turn themselves on. We can most certainly, however, choose to turn them off. Or, even more simply, let the call go to voice mail.

I witness this struggle that occurs when one tries to “disconnect” from their world on a regular basis. At work, every time I make the announcement to “turn off and stow all electronic devices” there is a collective state of denial that permeates the entire airplane. I guess that before they can officially enter denial I must first get their attention. And that is no easy task. Sometimes I have to stand directly over them and speak to them personally, since they missed the numerous and repetitive PA’s. That’s really when the denial sets in. I can almost hear them thinking, “Oh, he’s not talking to me, I don’t need to turn it off,” or better yet, “maybe if I just ignore him, pretend not to hear him, I’ll be OK.” Even some of my co-workers have an extremely difficult time with this moment of disconnect. I see them struggling to get that one last test message out before we take off.

I witnessed the cashier at my grocery store attempt to text on her phone and scan groceries at the same time. It was a multi-tasking sight to see. It got me thinking that maybe I don’t want to be this kind of person. I don’t want to be kind of guy that walks down the street and texts at the same time. Maybe I don’t even want to be the kind of guy that is always wearing his iPod headphones. I want to be more present than that. I want to notice the changes in the world around me. I want to be open and engaging to people. Not off in some electronic world of distraction.

Granted, I’m obviously not opposed using to cell phones and iPods and laptops. But we need to take back the reins. We are the ones in control of our devices. We need to make them work for us. We need to know when to turn them off, or to ignore them. If we can’t grasp that, then we are being controlled by them. In many ways electronics are the modern drug of choice. We use them to medicate and detach. It’s easier to deal with the world if you are detached from it. And, as a society, we are addicted. Fortunately for us, unlike most drugs, we can quite literally just turn it off.

Tree Hugger

I love plants. Don’t forget, I have nine of them. Quick side note here–the baby of the family, Wendla, is blooming! God, they just grow up so fast. OK, so I love plants. Growing things is one of the few talents I developed while growing up on a farm. I also developed my talent for cursing, which I’ve previously blogged about. Even as a kid I loved to plant flowers and watch them grow and bloom. I also love to be in and around nature. Camping, to me, is the best form of relaxation.

So, I have to admit that I am part tree hugger. Not fully a tree hugger, just partially. And, actually just the part that likes trees. I am a firm believer in the use of deodorant, as well as taking regular showers. Basically, I just like to look at trees, not look like I live in the trees.

As you can imagine, I’ve been following the Berkeley tree climber saga. If you are not aware of the situation, here it is. Almost 2 years ago a group of “tree sitters” climbed up into a grove of Oak trees on the UC Berkeley campus when they announced they were going to be cut down to build a sports complex. Since that time they have literally lived in those trees. They’ve built a whole little community up in those trees, complete with pulleys and ropes to lower their feces down to the volunteers on the ground. Yes, I know, those ground volunteers are the real heroes.

All of this to save a few beautiful, old Oak trees. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m all for saving beautiful, old Oak trees. But there are certain ironies in this situation that I can’t ignore. For instance, these climbers obviously don’t have too big a problem with cutting down at least some trees. They are using wood platforms in their little Swiss Family Robinson style of community. Those boards look like they were purchased from Home Depot, so I doubt they went out into the forest and found a few fallen trees to cut up. Second, they are decimating those trees by living in them. I’m not opposed to a well-designed tree house–loved The Swiss Family Robinson! But, come on…really?

They have wasted so many of the resources of that community by trying to save a just a few trees. And, when it came time for them to be forced out of the last tree, they tried to make demands. They wanted to just walk away peacefully. OK, now that part is totally laughable. After costing the city of Berkeley and UC Berkeley millions of dollars, they wanted to just walk away. There must have been some serious weezing going on up in those trees.

So, I guess in conclusion I just wish these tree huggers would have better spent the money that was spent on keeping them up in those trees. I know that the millions spent on them by the city of Berkeley could have planted thousands of new little Oak trees.

The Final Days of RENT

I originally wrote this post at the end of May. The amazing and legendary Broadway musical RENT was scheduled to close June 1 and, due to good ticket sales, was thrown a life line until this weekend. It’s now time for RENT to close after 5,123 performances on Broadway since it opened on April 29, 1996. That makes it the 7th longest running show in Broadway history.

RENT is closing on Broadway on September 7, 2008. This may not seem that big of a deal to many of you, hardly even “blog-worthy.” But for me it is the end of one of the best musicals to ever perform on Broadway. You see, RENT was my first Broadway show. I saw it in November of 1997 and it’s the reason for my love of musical theater. My friend Cathy and I went and saw it at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas. I was working several weekends a month at a church in Texas. I would drive an hour and a half to Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Joplin, Missouri, and then fly to Dallas for the weekend to work at a church where I was the worship leader. I’m not sure why a church would pay to have a college student come so far, but they did. The escape from Bible college and the sense of being a jet-setter were amazing. The church was hoping I would come there full-time after graduation. In reality, the whole experience not only introduced me to my current employer, but it also gave me the flying bug.

Anyway, my point is that this was a transitional time for me. I was finishing up my six years at Ozark Christian College and dealing with all of the gay issues I’ve previously written about. At this point in my journey, I hadn’t come out of the closet. Going to see RENT was like giving me a peek into a world that I didn’t even know existed. A beautiful world of drag queens and queers (I mean that in a good way), a world where it was not only OK to be gay, but fabulously OK. It was a world in which people broke into song and dance for no apparent reason. This was my world. Stunned and, frankly, a little giddy, I sat on the edge of my seat for most of the performance.

I don’t know if Cathy ever knew that I loved it this much because as soon as we left the Majestic I had to get back into “Christian Music Pastor” mode. But, the seed had been planted. And that’s why this musical has been so important to me. It provided me with something I had been longing for–gay life–in all of it’s vibrant color and spectacular diversity. For several years RENT was the only ingredient in my musical theater diet. It was the appetizer, the main course, and the dessert.

I remember the following months in the Bible college dorm as other music students began to discover this musical. You could hear “Seasons of Love” floating out of their rooms. You could also hear the abrupt change in volume when the phrase “mucho masturbation” was supposed to be shouting from “La Vie Boheme.” Some songs really could never be played–at least through speakers. I suppose there is a very strange irony in a bunch of Bible college students drooling over a musical not just filled with sex, but sex with the same sex. And, don’t forget all of the colorful language and the topic of HIV/AIDS that permeates RENT.

But we couldn’t help ourselves. This was an amazing piece of work. I wanted to be Mark, one of the lead roles. And in some ways, I developed his sort of quirky, bohemian sense of style. All in all, I’ve seen RENT three times on stage. That hardly makes me a “RENT-head,” but I don’t think it diminishes my love for the show. When the movie came out, I paid to see it three times. When I bought the DVD and watched the accompanying Jonthan Larson documentary, I cried so hard that I thought I was going to hyperventilate. My love runs deep. So I’ll always hold a very special place in my heart for this musical that means so much to me. We have history.

goodbye, love, goodbye…

RENT links:

Original New York Times review of the show

A Photographer’s journal of RENT from the New York Times

RENT’s website siteforrent.com

Wikipedia’s RENT page

The original cast recording on Amazon.com