Thursday, March 29, 2012

Speaking of Genealogy

My youngest living uncle died this past weekend at the age of 87.  This uncle was my mother's sister's husband.  He and I were not close.  I'm not sure why as I related much more comfortably with most of my other uncles and aunts.  His children, my cousins, were close in age and spent many hours together at family gatherings and holidays.

I went to the wake last evening and funeral today.  As is the custom in our family people visit with one another during the wake and get together after the funeral for a catered lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant.

Weddings and funerals are grand displays of the prominence of family and procreation in our various cultures and ethnicities.

There was a time when all of my many cousins were getting married and having kids.  Their weddings were celebrated and their pregnancies announced and their babies baptized and the kids birthdays commemorated.  Holy Communions, Confirmations and graduations were all excuses for family get-togethers.

These events and ceremonies have a way of defining expectations, rewarding and reinforcing conformity and strengthening ties to extended family.  As one of few who did not conform I had perhaps a heightened sense of the different quality of "belonging-ness" as it applied to my cousins versus myself.

Eventually my relatives gave up asking the dreaded question "So, when are you getting married?" or "Do you have a girlfriend, YET?" We all pretty much went our separate ways.  Many of my cousins got divorced, some remarried, some did not.  We continued to get together for those special occasions, usually funerals, some weddings, a family reunion or a milestone birthday.

I thought I had pretty much adjusted to having a tangential place in our extended family and never gave it much more thought, until today.  Many of my cousins are now Grandparents.  Some had their children and grandchildren with them today and relatives were daunting all over the little ones.  Prayers were said in thanks for family and for carrying on the family.  Those whose grandchildren were absent had photos on their smart phones and were proudly displaying them for all to see.

I had that feeling once again, of that different quality of belonging-ness that procreators get to enjoy by virtue of passing on their DNA.  It is very different for the dead twig on the family tree.

I am certain that even if Leon and I were to marry, and even if the marriage was celebrated by my extended family, it would not be the same.  Neither for them, nor for us.  I'm not sure I can put my finger on it precisely, but I think that that sense has always played a part in my reservations about same-gender marriage.

While I support the evolving definition of family and same-gender marriage for those who choose it, for me, it does not quite equate.  What do you think?

P.S.  Talk about "belonging-ness".  If you have a Catholic/ethnic identity, that adds another layer to the quality of "belongingness" for sure.  At the funeral Mass today, the priest announced before the Communion "We invite all who are Catholic and properly prepared (code for not living in sin) for the Sacrament to please come up to receive Communion."  This was never a standard announcement at Mass and the individual conscience and personal spirituality of congregants was always respected.

Now, as we have seen in the news here and there, priests are likely to refuse communion to individuals who they perceive as unworthy (read living in sin).

This "New" Catholic Church is for Card-Carrying Members in Good Standing - All Cards Will Be Checked for Expiration Dates and Will Be Confiscated If You Are Found To Be Divorced/Remarried, Gay, Lesbian, Gay or Lesbian and Married, Unmarried but Living as Married; a Democrat, Voted for Obama, Practicing Birth Control or Have Sympathies For Any of The Aforementioned.

Monday, March 26, 2012

In Memory of Shaun O'Brien and Cris Alexander

This is the kind of story, while sad, is what Gay Pride is really all about.

Shaun O'Brien died on February 23 and his partner of over 60 years, Cris Alexander died two weeks later on March 7.  The New York couple were married last year after it became legal in New York State.  Both were entertainers in NYC for many years.  Thanks to Towleroad for the story.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Photos and Update With Restaurant Reviews

Race Point
Parking in Front of the Meat Rack
 (Not Much Meat in March)
Fire Pits at the Harbor Hotel 
Lunch at Joe's Cafe - formerly Cup o' Joe

Eating - AGAIN!
DUNE

A Bit Like New Mexico's Piñon

Even the Telephone Lines Are A Bit Gay

Pre-season Restaurant Reviews:

This town is pricy, even in the off season.  One of the reasons we go camping is the price of food in PTown.  We can cook for a week on what we'd spend in two days for meals out.

Joe's Cafe: great for coffee, breakfast and lunch. Outdoor seating.  This place is usually packed during the regular season - you may never get a table.  In March, it was busy, but tables were available.  Dog friendly.  As everything in town, a bit pricier than we are used to. Turkey sandwich with cranberry on multi grain bread, small bowl of soup (chili) and a bag of chips; Leon had a similar selection (with barley mushroom soup) and drink. About $17

Squealing Pig: Pub fare and and bar atmosphere.  The two of us shared a salad, shared a bowl of potato leak soup and shared a seafood platter (cod, 4 shrimp, 4 scallops, fries, coleslaw) two draft beers. Everything was good, but even sharing was a hefty tab (about $40).

Fanizzi's: We were too late for the early bird specials. Bread was good and refilled; Leon had salad, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, diet coke; I had broiled cod with spinach and veggies, water; We each had coffee, apple-berry crisp with vanilla ice cream. One dessert would have been plenty. About $67.

Michael Shay's - a PTown standby for those on a budget: This place has become "complacent" - there is no care taken in decor or presentation. The service was lacking - the gay waiter seemed like he was afraid to come near us. He spent a lot of time chatting with other customers and staff. We had the early bird specials. The "complimentary appetizer" consisted of a soup bowl with a plastic cup of some non-descript dip and about 8 Ritz crackers that looked like they were leftover from someone's party. The salad came in a bowl for two and the waiter gave us only one plate - Leon ate his portion out of the serving bowl. I had three pieces of stuffed filet of sole and water, Leon had three stuffed shrimp and a diet coke. I also had heartburn later. No alcohol. About $36 for two of us - cheap by PTown standards but we would have had a better meal if we'd gone to the supermarket, for a roasted chicken and some salad and eaten it in the hotel room.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Birthday Boys

My honey suprised me with a birthday trip to Ptown this week.  It is also Benni's birthday - he is two years old and lovin' it here on the beach.  I won't tell how old I am, though you can probably guess.
Tuesday - lunch al fresco.
Yesterday the whales were putting on quite a show off shore.  You could hear them bellowing as they breached and spouted and splashed.


Who'd have thought we'd be in short sleeves on the beach, in New England in March, watching whales!

When we got back to the hotel, there were flowers waiting for me.  It brought tears to my eyes.  My honey is too good to me, and it's common knowledge that I am a cranky, crabby old fart who doesn't deserve such a good man.  He is always doing nice things for me.  I cook.

Ptown is under major construction - new water mains are going in and a lot of buildings are getting makeovers.

Today we were at the beach again - in shorts and Leon even complained of sunburn.  This is NOT Florida!
Birthday boy Benni.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why I Hate Baseball

The unseasonably warm weather here has coaxed everyone outdoors to spruce up their yards, go walking or, like the kids I saw yesterday at the schoolyard ball field - out to play ball.

Seeing the kids there, having what appears to be fun, brought back some unpleasant springtime memories for me.

In this "baseball" kind of weather, usually in May and June, at school or at family get-togethers or picnics, some sadistic individuals would always bring along baseballs, bats and gloves and suggest that we all play a game of baseball.

I look back now and wonder why it is I hated baseball and still do.  Call me unAmerican, call me silly, call me a sissy.  But I hate baseball.  I know now it is because baseball has more ways to humiliate you than any other sport or game.  

If you are up to bat, you get to swing at the ball.  If you miss, it is a strike.  Except sometimes it is not a strike, but a ball, and you can't figure out why.  Either way it is humiliating.

If you hit the ball, sometimes you must run to first base, except if it is a foul ball, but you can't tell the difference, because you are so anxious, you don't know which way the ball went.  That is humiliating.

If you do hit the ball and run, everyone starts screaming at you, so you think you are doing something wrong, like running after a foul ball, so you hesitate and get tagged OUT.  That is humiliating.

Or if the ball was good, you hit it right to the pitcher and are called out.  That is humiliating.

Or if you run to first base and the ball gets there before you do, you are OUT and humiliated.

Or you get three strikes and you are OUT and that is humiliating.

Or you get hit with the pitch and that is humiliating.  Or you hit the ball and forget to drop the bat.  Or you drop the bat but actually thew it at the catcher's head.  Humiliated again.

So then you get to pitch.  Forget that.  That is super humiliating.  You first have to figure out how to put on the silly looking glove.  Then you have to throw the ball.  That is humiliating.

You have to throw it at the batter, but not hit the batter.  You can't throw it too far away from the batter or too high or too low.  First of all you can't figure out exactly where the ball should go, and even if you could, you could never throw it there.  As luck would have it you throw it and the batter hits it - and gets a home run.  You're humiliated.

So they take you off the pitcher's mound and you are more humiliated.

No runs, no hits, lots of errors.

They make you play first base.  You are on edge.  Poised, waiting.  The ball is hit.  It is coming your way.  You reach for it.  It goes through the glove and hits the ground behind you.  It's humiliating.

You pick up the ball and throw it toward second base.  The runner is now on third.  Humiliating.

So you get put in the outfield.  Thank God!  There you can look at the bees going from one dandelion to the next or the butterfly floating on air.  There is a dog barking across the street and the ice cream truck is jingling along full of Creamsicles.  You see a jet plane in the sky overhead.  You hope this will soon be over.

All of a sudden you hear everyone screaming because whoever was up to bat has hit the ball out beyond the bases somewhere between left field and right field (is there a right field?).  You think they are yelling at you to catch the ball.  You go for it and the other outfielder yells at you to "get out of the way".  It is humiliating.

Or, you do fetch the ball from off the ground and now have to not only figure out who to throw it to, but you have to actually throw it in that general direction.  The ball lands on the ground about fifteen feet short.  That's humiliating.

Your team loses by a zillion runs.  It is mostly your fault.  How humiliating.  Everyone tosses the ball back and forth while walking off the ball park.  Someone throws it your way and it hits your chin.  Baseball is humiliating even when the game is over.

That's why I hate baseball.  There, I've said it.  And I look stupid in a baseball cap.

Friday, March 16, 2012

This Week's Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

If Michael NiCastro is going to consistently use his column in the Bristol Observer as a sounding board for partisan rhetoric, the editorial board would do well to provide a weekly column for an opposing viewpoint. His column in the March 16, 2012 edition, "Healthcare Reform, The Hidden Tax", Mr. NiCastro legitimately decries the burden the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) may place on small businesses but in doing so he also laments the fact that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will actually require health insurance companies to spend more money on actual medical care for insured individuals. What a radical concept!

It is too bad the the remaining "20 cents on the dollar" for administrative costs will not be enough to cover exorbitantly huge CEO and managerial salaries. (see: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/05/09/bisa0509.htm; and also: http://money.cnn.com/2011/12/15/news/companies/ceo_pay/index.htm) and will supposedly result in the health insurance industry not being a "highly ranked" investment opportunity.

He says it will also result in an average increase of $5,000 over 10 years for families purchasing health insurance on the individual market (about $500 per year). This is not surprising as these corporations will never reduce their obscene profit margin, but will continue to bleed consumers and find new ways to deny medical care in order to increase profits and make stockholders and executives more wealthy.

The Health Insurance crisis that we are now into over our heads was exacerbated by, if not in fact precipitated by, its becoming a publicly traded commodity. The transformation of the industry from "not-for-profit" to "for-profit" status has built-in conflicts of interest: huge profits can be realized for stockholders only by collecting increasingly more in premiums than is paid out in medical care. (http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v1n4/healthy.html)

Over the past 15 or so years we have seen health insurance premiums go up more than any other basic necessity; we have seen huge deductibles introduced when to raise premiums further would just shut too many people out of the pool and reduce corporate income; we are about to see many individuals with high deductibles actually delay needed medical care and end up costing the dysfunctional health care "system" more in the long run; we have seen more procedures, treatments and medications denied by insurance companies who are now apparently in the business of "practicing medicine" - telling doctors how and how much to treat a patient or disease; and we have seen CEOs and executive compensation skyrocket in spite of or because of it.

I wish I could say this was not the case for those health insurers that remained not-for-profit, but even their CEOs must feel the need to "keep up with the Joneses". Some not-for-profit health insurance CEO's are also raking in huge salaries (http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/26/business/la-fi-insurer-executive-pay-20110526) at the expense of those who need medical care.

I am no fan of the current Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It has been labeled "Obamacare" by its opponents (mostly Republicans) despite the fact that they took the very workable and cost-effective "public option" out of the President's proposal and made absolute minced meat of health care reform. You can thank them for the HIT.

It is time for the "for-profit" health insurance industry to get out of the business of practicing medicine (let's talk about death squads) and either start providing real medical care or turn over that role to a single-payer, National Health Care system. Despite Mr. NiCastro's snide quote of the week, if you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when health insurance company profit margins and CEO salaries go even higher.

I am one of the 99%.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Word Verification

Sorry guys, I'm going back to using Word Verification.  I've been getting a slew of spam "comments" from "anonymous" suggesting websites to visit, things to buy and some that are just gobbledygook. Pain in the butt to have to moderate.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Honey Came Home Bearing Gifts






Leon is always so thoughtful. His trip to the Big Apple was fun. He and Bob saw Priscilla Queen of The Desert, ate at the finest dives and spared every expense for souvenirs for me.

No t-shirts, no tchochkes, no delicacies from Little Italy.

What I got was the Hotel Shampoo, Conditioner and Lotion and a few Lottery tickets.

I'm going to dig out a quarter and start scratching...wish me Luck.

I like the $500 A Week For Life.  If I win I will be going on a little (extended) vacation too!

My Honey In New York

Leon has been off to NYC with a friend of ours.  Although it's been a mild winter, it's been winter nonetheless, and we've been a bit stir crazy.  So he took the opportunity to spend a few days in the city.

He sent a few photos through the wonders of modern technology.

I'll be picking him up at the Railroad Station later today.







Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Early Spring

It's early, even for a crocus.  
And the warm weather has me outdoors doing yard work.  
I am surprised that I'm that motivated.  
Because I've been in this funky mood - just blah.
Can't seem to get excited about anything 
- or more accurately - 
Can't seem to find anything to get excited about.
So yard work is a good prescription.
I enjoy the solitude, the sunshine, the warmth.
The dog wanders around while I work.
Coming 'round to check on me now and then.
He doesn't have to say a word.
I just say, "You're such a good boy!"
He's not flattered and runs off.
I hope he doesn't step on the crocus.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Changing My Comments Settings

Stan from Metrodystopia/Gray Gay Thoughts suggests changing comment settings on blogger to eliminate the annoying and cumbersome newWord Verification method that Blogger is now using.  I agree and will try doing without this step.  It still allows monitoring comments and probably has little to do with spam anyway.

So go to "Settings" "Comments" "Word Verification" "No" if you wish to do the same.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Town and Country


Nice thing about where we live, at least when there's no snow, is that even though we are near town we have some of the elements of rural life as well.

We've been visited every morning during the past week by a very nice pheasant  and I got a few pictures.  The dog, Benni, has been itching to get out when the pheasant is strutting around, but we don't think it would be wise to let him get up close and personal with the bird.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gay Popcorn Movie 4 - Welcome to Woop Woop - If You Can Find It

I just have to get away from all the seriousness in the news and blogs.

So....Here's a movie you've probably never heard of: Welcome to Woop Woop by the people who brought you Pricilla, Queen of the Desert.  It is one of Leon's and my favorite fun movies to watch every now and then, just for a little madness.

I'm surprised it has not become somewhat of a gay cult movie - it certainly has a lot of gay sensibility undertones: the hairdresser, segments from South Pacific and The Sound of Music), not to mention the eye candy provided by Johnathon Schaech.

The movie takes place in Australia, in a place called Woop Woop which makes the deep South of Deliverance look like Disneyland.  Here's a taste:





Unfortunately, Welcome to Woop Woop is not available on Netflix, either instantly or on DVD.  And it may be hard to find in your local video store as well.  But if you want to see a wild, crazy, escape-from-the-current-events type movie - go find Woop Woop somewhere.

You'll either love it or you'll hate me for recommending it!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mamma Leone - My Gold Standard

I am going to open myself to all manner of ridicule by posting this, but what the hell.


Whenever we go out to dinner and see a pricy menu - or more to the point - don't go into some restaurant or another because the posted menu is out of our budget, I am reminded of the old Mamma Leone's in New York City.  I remember going there with my parents and brother when I was a kid, sometime in the early "60s, probably around 1962.  (OMG, that was 50 years ago!)  Mom put in her special request, (maybe it was their Anniversary or something, I don't recall) and Dad agreed.

I was probably there two or three more times after that.

People don't believe me when I tell them that dinner, which included Bread, Antipasto, Pasta or Soup, a Main Course, a Cheese Platter, Dessert and Coffee, was $5.00.  And the portions were huge, at least for a kid. 

Mamma's also had ambiance: decor, strolling violinists, and an impeccable, and, I believe, an all male wait staff.  Even then I appreciated certain elements of class and atmosphere of a place. 

Note the "Regular" Dinner Price of $5

I remember Dad checking his wallet to make sure he had enough money for the bill because he was sure it would come to more than $20 for the four of us for all the food they served us.  I wouldn't doubt that Dad was even sweating over the $20 tab plus tip which was quite extravagant and way over his normal budget.  I'm sure it was a healthy chunk out of his weekly paycheck.

$5 in 1960 would be about $37 dollars today.  $20 (about $150 today) could probably buy our groceries for a week back then.    I doubt you can get today for $37 anything near what you could get at Mamma Leone's for $5 in 1962.

So, reasonable or not, Mamma Leone's full, five-course meal and the $5 tab has become the Gold Standard against which I measure the quality, quantity, price and ambiance of a restaurant to this day.  

Needless to say, this precludes my dining at elegant establishments and has gotten me used to the ambiance of McDonald's.  OK, maybe the Olive Garden for a real splurge.

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