:: Ray's Periodic Rantings ::

Political blurtings, personal notes, musings and more from a Chicago area Mac guy, neon artist, Burner, remarried widower, and now father.
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:: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 ::

Baby steps toward history

I had lunch at a food court on Tuesday. As I ate, fuming over our "war president's" kowtowing to the religious right announced earlier in the day, my mind wandered to the strains of the muzak version of Yes's I've Seen All Good People, and a humorous thought occurred to me. Wouldn't it be a delicious irony if Dick Cheney's daughter and her partner went to San Francisco and got themselves hitched?

It's pretty simple. The Constitution prohibits discrimination against classes of people. Men and women get rights with marriage that are being denied to gays and lesbians. This makes them second class citizens. It is unconstitutional and it must not continue. The government has no business telling us which consenting adults can be our legal partners and which can't.

The word "marriage" complicates things, but not really. Religious bigots claim to believe in a sanctity of the word, though it seems that a lot of heterosexuals have less value for it than homosexuals. Britney Spears sure didn't take it very seriously. So fine, don't call it marriage. In fact, if marriage is to be a discriminatory exercise, let's get government out of the business altogether, and into the civil union business instead. Let churches do marriages and let them marry whomever they wish...separation of church and state, remember? Marriage or not, if anyone wanted their union to be legal, however, they'd have to go down to the county clerk and get a civil union license, and no civil union would confer any more or less rights than any other.

Do I think this is realistic? No, but I do think that some form of marriage or civil union for homosexuals, is necessary. Whatever we call it, the status quo of institutionalized discrimination against a significant percentage of the population must end.

It will take time and it won't be easy, but people like our brave leader, George, who oppose allowing homosexuals the same human rights that heterosexuals enjoy will eventually go down, just like another George did taking a stand against equality 39 years ago: George Wallace.
:: Ray 1:24 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, February 21, 2004 ::
Squirrel Battle III

This past Wednesday, I discovered that my squirrel nemesis had chewed her way through last year's patch. Undoubtedly, a winter of exposure had weakened the 5/8" wood, but it sure took a determined jaw to do this. Unwilling to play host to another litter of rodent pups, this morning saw me back up on the ladder, installing a new cover made of aluminum sheet that my neighbor gave me. If my friend chews through this, it will be time to borrow a trap and relocate her to the forest preserve. Ahhh, the joys of home ownership! You'll read the play-by-play action right here.
:: Ray 4:48 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, February 19, 2004 ::
Suicide Girls

Imagine a few girls with lots of tattoos, but no choreography or stage experience, got together and said, "let's put on a show!" They went to a thrift store and bought some lingerie and feather boas, gathered together some props like a chair, a cane, a gun, and some cans of beer. Then they made up a few skits that were all sort of the same, involving one or more of them strutting around the stage to music in the league of Joan Jett's I Hate Myself For Loving You and clumsily stripping to bra and panties. Then they took the result on the road to a few dozen cities, and actually sold tickets for money to see it.

That's what I walked out of on Thursday night...the unsexiest burlesque show I hope to ever see. I can't overly emphasize how bad it was. What's really shocking is that they've been touring with this show for a few weeks now, and either they haven't gotten any better, or, well, I can't imagine it was any worse when they started. Plus I had to endure a loud, lame, two-guitar band before the show. I'm glad I brought earplugs.

The only thing the Suicide Girls have going for them is a website where they take their clothes off. They don't get naked on stage, though, and sadly, it seems as if they just aren't good at doing much else.

The Suicide Girls show is an insult to all the people that are working really hard across the country to revive burlesque as an art form. If you live in a city where the Suicide Girls tour hasn't played yet and you were considering seeing them, don't go! Save your money and support a local burlesque effort!

Among the highlights of the evening was that I got to meet both Jason Pettus, whose journal I have read off and on for a few years, and Toots L'Amour and Franky Vivid, of Lavender Cabaret. Toots and Franky are very cool, and as I have written here a few times now, their show, FemmeTV, is burleque at is finest.
:: Ray 11:54 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, February 15, 2004 ::
They're up!

At last, Burning Man 03 pics are up! Get them while they're hot.
:: Ray 3:53 AM [+] ::
Another V-Day

Someday this will be a holiday that I look forward to again. This year, the best thing I can say about it is that it was uneventful. That, and my second bacon of the month club package arrived on Friday, so my V-Day breakfast was cheese grits and sugar cured bacon from Swiss, Missouri. Yum.
:: Ray 12:30 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, February 12, 2004 ::
New battery! and burlesque update!

After hemming and hawing for some time, I finally ordered a new battery for my iBook. After three years, my battery life was in the toilet, rendering said iBook almost useless for mobile applications. Now, with its life once again measured in hours instead of minutes, I have been using my time on the train to edit Burning Man '03 photos, and I plan to post them soon. Following close behind will be Italy photos, burlesque reviews, and a navigational revamp of this site. Woohoo!

About burlesque, I have become quite an afficianado. I wrote about a couple of shows that I saw last year, most notably Femme TV. At the time, I thought it was closing, but I am happy to say that it is now in open run, Friday nights at 10:30pm at the Lakeshore Theater. I saw it a second time a couple of weeks ago, and it my experience there once again confirmed my fondness of and gratefulness for women who aren't afraid to be sexy onstage. No nudity, sexy as hell, go see this show!

A few weeks ago I saw another show called Flirt Cabaret, and two weeks from tonight I will see the nationally touring Suicide Girls burlesque show. As I mentioned above, reviews are forthcoming...stay tuned.
:: Ray 4:58 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, February 08, 2004 ::
Auto Show

Saturday I went to the Auto Show with the kid and his new foster parents. It was the first time I have seen him since his big move. I am happy to report that the parents are great, and they all seem to be getting along famously.

I am not a car guy -- at least, I haven't been since my early 20's. I don't find most new cars very exciting, and having attended a school with an auto design program, there isn't a concept car out there that can surprise me. Sure, I have my favorite dream car, the early 70's Lamborghini Miura (its lines are pure sex, and it makes any American sports car from the era look like the work of an amateur), but if I had a choice, I'd be driving a VW Lupo, a subcompact similar to the Golf, but it's smaller and it gets about 70 mpg. I am conflicted about cars and the unsustainability of our culture that they exemplify, so I try to avoid celebrating them. It turns out, however, you can't spend a few hours around every production car available in the US without forming some opinions. Here are a few of mine:

- Most amusing new vehicle Avanti, the folks that have carried on and updated the tradition of Raymond Loewy's Avanti, a sports car originally produced by long-since-defunct Studebaker, have entered the tragic ultra SUV category. They are going head-to-head with the Hummer folks, introducing a big, stylish brick called, I kid you not, the Studebaker SUV.

- Big new trend More and more manufacturers are introducing hybrid car/SUVs, some of them quite nice and innovative. When I say hybrid, I don't mean it has a highly efficient gas/electric motive system, I mean it is half car and half SUV. As I walked through the show I imagined the marketing campaign: "It's a car, it's an SUV, it's an S.U.C.!" ...OK, that probably wouldn't go over so well.

- Most amusing concept car name Mazda Ibuki! I want to say it over and over with a Japanese accent..."eeeeeeeeeeeeboookee!"

- Most interesting new car maker They make cheap ($15,000!), cool looking (the xA and xB models) cars already available on the West Coast, coming to the midwest in June. They are Scion.

- My pick of the show It wasn't in the main hall, but I was tickled to spot it at a Volo Car Museum exhibit on my way out of the building. It is, of course, the namesake of this website.
:: Ray 1:01 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, February 06, 2004 ::
Wish I had a zoom lens

This entry is not what it sounds like...get your mind out of the gutter! I was walking across the Michigan Avenue bridge today, when I looked down at the ice and wished I had a camera in my pocket, and then remembered I did! It was my cheapo digital and I wish the resolution was better, but for the fleeting image before me, it was better than nothing. I took some pix looking down at the ice.

Don't study them up close, but instead back away and let your mind wander a bit. I found looking at these holes in the melting ice to be a bit like gazing up at the clouds. All manner of nipples, navels, and some, um, sphincter-like bits of anatomy appeared to me. OK, maybe my mind was in the gutter a little bit. If yours is any more pure than mine, what do you see?
:: Ray 11:06 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 ::
Bush Envirofi$cal Follies

When I wrote last night, I was tired and not in the mood to cite a specific example of Bush action that imperiled the budget or the environment. Then, this morning on NPR, I was handed an instance where both occur simultaneously. It seems that the proposed Bush budget, hemhorraging red ink as it is, relies on income from oil drilling in the ANWAR [link to Alaska newspaper article on subject is broken]. How's that for counting your environmentally tragic eggs before they are hatched?

It's also a prime example of the Bush technique of justifying what you want as many different ways as it takes until you find one that convinces enough chumps to accept it. Last year's bleating of "energy shortage!" didn't convince the Senate to authorize drilling up there, so this year they will cry "we need the revenue!" I hope, for all our sakes, that sanity prevails over this idiocy.
:: Ray 9:55 AM [+] ::
Politics and other tragedies

I haven't written much about politics lately. The scene has been awfully depressing. I still support Howard Dean, but if he doesn't win the nomination, let's just get an electable democrat selected, so we can bring down President Smirk. It astonishes me how much damage he is doing to our economy and our planet, and another four years genuinely frightens me. What little I watched of his State of the Union address two weeks ago left me shouting obscenities at the TV.

But if George and his cronies and their follies don't already have you sad and frightened, this little tidbit will really make your day. It seems that fresh water melting from the polar ice cap could shut down the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean, which keeps Europe and North America warm. The result could be another ice age, with only a few years warning of its onset. A 1,000 year long winter would sure put a damper on Republican delusions of our mastery of the world and the unimportance of global warming, not to mention crimping civilization as we know it. It ruined my day just contemplating the idea.
:: Ray 12:09 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, February 02, 2004 ::

I was inspired to shoot this photo on a dreary day last week. It's a pink buddha from this project created by my friends, Jeanne and Tony, for Burning Man last year. The wonderful irony of this piece is that after giving away all 90 buddhas at BM, the sculpture was accepted into a show late last year, and Tony had to cast an addition 90 of them. That's a lot of buddhas.
:: Ray 11:48 PM [+] ::

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