Saturday, November 8, 2008

Congratulations to President Elect Obama

Well the election has finally come and gone, now we shall see how things fare for the next four years. I am optimistic about President Elect Obama, I think he can help to get our country on the right track. He has an enormous job ahead of him, so I hope and pray that he can accomplish his goals.

It was a bittersweet election for me in that while my choice for President came to pass, a number of important issues failed. Namely, Florida, Arizona and California managed to ban gay marriage. As well as Arkansas passing a law targeted to prevent gay citizens from adopting children. It is shameful that there are still so many people out there who are so very willing to deny civil rights to others. What I thought was curious was the breakdown of voters on Proposition 8 in California. The African/American voters by a very large percentage (over 70%) voted to place a ban on gay marriage. This at a time when the first black man was elected to the highest office in the land. As a group, African/Americans know better than most the detrimental effects of discrimination and have suffered enormously the denial of basic civil rights, and yet they voted 3 out of 4 to deny the civil rights to another minority. What the hell is that about? Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to blame African/Americans it's just that those numbers seemed remarkable to me. Unfortunately bigotry comes in all colors and classes. Our struggle continues.

I should not be surprised though, because every single election the issue comes up to try to deny women the right to privacy as regards Roe vs Wade, and the abortion issue. Abortion and gay marriage are moral issues and as such have no place in the political arena, these things are up to the individual and his or her "God," whatever they may conceive him to be.

A dear friend and I were discussing these very subjects and he told me that at least Obama mentioned gay people in his acceptance speech, stating that he never heard any other President mention them. The thought that went through my head was "Am I supposed to take consolation from the fact that President Obama can pronounce a three-letter, one syllable word." It's not enough. As a gay man I deserve the same rights as any other citizen of the great country. Who I would choose to marry shouldn't be any part of the governments business.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bob's Fabulous Flicks

"Movies from a male point of view"

(2000)Director Jon Matthews, Writer Daniel Reitz

Adapted for the screen by Daniel Reitz from his play Urban Folk Tales. Starring Dan Futterman, who you might remember from "The Birdcage."

Dan Futterman, Charlie, is terrific in this role of a young man desperately trying to cope with the absence of his boyfriend, Chris, played by Matt Keeslar (who oddly enough has never appeared in any CSI episode.)

We follow Charlie as he searchs for Chris and answers as to why things happen as they do. It portrays New York City as a very dark and unforgiving place. We see his encounters with those in his neighborhood, both by chance and by design; a dying friend, a homeless man that lives outside of his building, the couple upstairs that disturb him with their noisy lovemaking, a one night stand, a bartender and Dean (Samuel Ball,) the stranger he seeks out. It is this dark tattooed stranger that Charlie hopes will provide him with some answers to his questions.

All the while, we see woven into the story a number of urban myths, the man who has a kidney stolen after a hot date, the woman that uses a microwave to dry her dog, the hotdog vendor that serves a cooked rat, and many more that make you feel it is all very dark and disquieting. Meanwhile, Charlie struggles through and adds his own stories into the mix. It keeps us intrigued and wondering why Charlie is so melancholy?

"URBANIA mixes comedy, drama, film noir, and gay cinema in new and intriguing ways. A directorial debut from Jon Shears, URBANIA moves expertly from present time to flashbacks and flashforwards, never losing its viewers for a second. " Rotten Tomatoes

This is definitely a movie you should see.

I would like to acknowledge the excellent folks at Simply Syndicated's Movies You Should See as well as El Diablito, Kwame, Sam Coney, Greyson Smith, Kumar, Cecily Zander, Weathereye, SleepySamco, Mek, Robert of "Just a load of pretentious balony," and Dave of "Dave's Thoughts And That." It is all of you that have inspired me to attempt a review of a movie I would like others to see. Thank you all so much.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The 3rd Texas Cavalry C.S.A.

For a time I was involved in Civil War Reenactments locally. It was an incredible learning experience. Not only from the point of view of the research involved but from the actual "hands on" type of activities required in reenactments. We portrayed a Confederate group called the 3rd Texas Cavalry. Everyone had to provide our own equipment and uniforms, this took a bit of research to make sure we had it right. A rancher we were acquainted with was kind enough to provide horses and tack, and the local Bank bought a couple of replica era firearms for us to use, so we were all set. Other reenactors in the area portrayed Union cavalry and infantry. One group styled themselves after a Scottish regiment from Maine, and they even wore kilts. Not only did we get together to reenact battles and skirmishes, but we would be invited to go to area schools and do presentations and talks for the kids. That was a satisfying activity, and great learning experience for me and for the students we talked to (I hope.) The photo above is of myself on the left as Captain and my son is on the right, he portrayed our scout.

Notable Civil War Events

From 1861 to 1865 this Country tried to tear itself apart. It's differences were numerous and profound, without an easy explanation about how such a thing could come to pass. Colorado was a Territory at the time of the Civil war and the sentiment of the population was mixed, the Arkansas River tended to be the dividing line as far as North vs South loyalties. Nearest to Colorado Territory was the Battle of Glorieta Pass, fought on March 26-28 1862, in northern New Mexico Territory, it was the decisive battle of the New Mexico Campaign during the American Civil War. Dubbed the "Gettysburg of the West" by some historians, it was intended as the killer blow by Union forces to stop the Confederate invasion of the West along the base of the Rocky Mountains.

Never before or since was there such a bloody time in our history. During the Battle of Gettysburg nearly as many Americans were killed in those 3 days in July of 1863 as there were in the seven and a half years of Vietnam. At the same time in Mississippi the city of Vicksburg was under seige, and conditions inside the city became unbearable. After 48 days, on July 4, 1863, the Confederates surrendered. It wasn't until 1931, that the residents of Vicksburg celebrated Independence Day for the first time since the siege ended with a Union victory 68 years earlier.

The war was to rage for two more terrible and tormenting years.

The Confederate States stretched from the east coast as far west as Tucson Arizona. They invented a submarine that was used for the first time ever to sink an enemy vessel, even though that act of destruction resulted in them sinking to their deaths as well. There was fought a Civil War naval battle off the coast of Cherbourg France and on June 22, 1865, the Confederate raider CSS Shenandoah fired the last shot of the Civil War in the Bering Strait, more than two months after General Lee's surrender.

The Sullivan Ballou Letter

I include the Sullivan Ballou letter because it has always impressed me how eloquent he was in explaining his thoughts and feelings for his wife, his family and his country. This letter is a perfect example of that and I always find it quite moving.

July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington

My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . .

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt . . .

Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . .

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . . .

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.

Reccommended Reading:
Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
The Civil War, Volumes 1 - 3 by Shelby Foote