Sunday, March 27, 2011

Libya -- The First Act

Well, good news from Libya today. But, just as you can't judge the outcome of a theatrical play by its first act, you can't judge the success (or failure) of a military action by the completion of its first phase.

After all, if we were to judge the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by the completion of their first acts (the fall of Saddam, the ouster of the Taliban) they would be viewed as rousing successes. But no, it was the mess of problems that came in the Act II to follow that we're now trying to resolve in the never-ending Act Three that forms the basis of how we view these conflicts.

Obama can claim a good First Act in Libya. What follows will be much more difficult to navigate. I'll see how well (or not) he does that before passing judgment on the soundness of his decisions to jump to the rebels' defense.

But I will note one remarkable thing that I think is under-appreciated. On Friday, U.S., English and French patrols over Libya were joined by planes from Qatar and the UAE. There aren't many of them and apparently they won't take part in combat operations. But last year who could have predicted that the West would be joined by the East to oppose the actions of an Arab leader? This is, possibly, a shift from the West vs. East narrative of the Bush years and a real transformative moment. If so, this is one hell of a first act.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Farewell, Old Friend

Buster was with us since June of 1997 and left us today, nearly 14 years old.

He was a small puppy abandoned to the animal shelter in Jacksonville, Florida, where we were living at the time (we were living in Jacksonville, not the animal shelter). He was the second dog we adopted from there. The first left us two years ago. With Buster's death, it feels our last connection to our former home there has been severed.

Buster was a very easily intimidated puppy, and when I would come home from work he would run through the house and in his excitement pee the whole way. He would leave a spaghetti trail of urine on the carpet tracing his path. To help him get over this, the vet told me I needed to be less intimidating when I came home at night. She advised me to get down on my hands and knees and crawl into the house, like a dog, so I'd be closer to his level. I did this and it worked. What the neighbors thought of this I'll never know. Or want to.

Buster was a great trail dog and we spent many hours with him in the Shenandoah, hiking. He loved the water and would splash or swim across streams. The other dog, Ranger, who feared the water (we would have to carry her across) would then bark and scold him on the other side. He didn't care. He was a happy-go-lucky dog who didn't seem to let anything worry him, except food. He was the ultimate food hound and as age and arthritis withered him, that never changed.

When he began to slow down about seven years ago on walks we at first thought he was lazy. Then one night he just collapsed and refused to continue. The vet told us he had serious arthritis in his hind legs, back and tail. We were devastated that we hadn't seen the clues and caught this earlier, although nothing could have been done. Except medicate him. So, for the past seven years, Pfizer has helped him live a relatively pain-free life, although his mobility deteriorated gradually.

But I'll try to remember him as the puppy dashing through the house, leaving a loopy trail of pee. Or the dog who, in his eagerness to get to shore, jumped out of the row boat, thinking he'd land on ground underneath the waves, only to sink. I'll never forget the look of great surprise on his face, right before he disappeared under the water (to re-emerge again, swimming. He was a good swimmer).

A dog's life is too brief. All too brief.

Farewell, friend. If dogs do go to heaven, I hope you are chewing on lots of bones, leaving a trail of pee through God's living room and swimming with abandon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Let Them Have Their App -- The Ex-Gay One, That Is

If Apple wants to let the Ex-Gay crowd have their app on iPhone, I don't have a problem with that (which is not the same as having a problem with people who think you can pray away the gay).

As long as we are free to have pro-gay apps (Grindr, hello?) and the ability to renounce the idiocy of the ex-gay movement, I don't think we should resort to censorship.

Tell me why I'm wrong.

At least Matthew agrees with me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan Animal Rescue

You've undoubtedly seen where you can go to help the people of Japan recover from the horrible events there over the past week. A friend writes that the animals of Japan need help too. The Animal Rescue Site offers a way to help.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Edward Albee in Metro Weekly

Metro Weekly has a great feature interview with playwright Edward Albee this week (well, last week, since they're out with a new issue today). Albee's response to the question "how do you feel about the flops" is a good one:

"One of the things you have to learn very quickly if you're going to survive in the theater...is that the way people respond to you, to what you do, doesn't necessarily have very much to do with the quality of what you've done. Some of your best stuff can be condemned and some of your less ambitious things will sail right through. You can't worry about that stuff. As long as you do your job as honestly and well as you possibly can, you can't be responsible for the minds of critics or the taste of an audience. You can't be responsible for those things because you're not a servant."

I think that's great advice, not just for creative work, but for life. Or, as another playwright put it: "To thine own self be true."

I admit I've only seen one Albee play, "The Play About the Baby." And I'm still confused. But I'm going to add "Virginia Woolf" in my queue.

The MW interview ended on a playful note. Asked "what is the best thing for you, personally, about being a gay man," Albee responds: "You get to go to bed with guys."

Rage Against the Cyclist

This morning I witnessed an all-too-common site: a motorist expressing anger at a cyclist. What was the cyclist doing? He was riding lawfully down the road, on the right side of the lane. The driver, and not just someone driving to work, she was driving a DC Public Schools School Bus, was in full rage, pumping her fist and white-eyed. Now, I suppose it's possible the cyclist may have made an illegal move that I didn't see, but if so, should a professional driver (in the presence of children) be expressing road rage on the job?

But as far as I could tell what was pissing off the city employee (trained in safety, I'm sure) was the mere presence of the cyclist on the road. "Get the hell off the road!" is the thought I'm sure was going through her head -- it's an attitude I experience every time I commute by bike to work.

"Share the road" applies to city employees. At least it should.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Anne Coulter in the Alley with a Maryland Redneck

It was the man with the tattooed arms in the passenger seat of the convertible that drew my attention at first. Then I noticed the Maryland tags. I really couldn't see the driver until I got closer, making my way up the alley on the way to meet my trainer for the usual session that I think should require the sanction of a Bush Justice Department legal memo. As I got closer to the car, I could make out a silhouette of a thin woman with straight hanging long hair.

Then she called out to me. "Hey! Hey! I want to say something to you." My first thought was she was going to bitch at me since our jeep Liberty was parked in the alley behind the garage, partly blocking the alley (though there was still enough room to get through). Bracing, I walked closer to the car on the tattooed man's side, and leaned down. And came face to face with Anne Coulter.

"I want to tell you something," she repeated. I braced myself, not knowing what to expect. Anne closed her eyes, and then silently gave me an air kiss.

I recoiled from the car and quickly walked up the alley toward the gym. Okay, it probably wasn't Anne Coulter and was just another prostitute trying to use our alley as her little temporary love shack. Not Anne, and just another hooker. When we first moved here our garage didn't have a door, we didn't have a car to park in it and many times hookers would drive their johns to our garage, park in it, do the nasty and leave, the only sign of their presence the used condoms and condom wrappers we would find. A garage door was one of our first home improvement projects.

But man, it sure looked looked like her. But she was just another prostitute. Although if you think about it, the two women aren't that different. One makes money for fucking citizens in public, the other makes money for fucking the public civility. But, I'm probably being insulting to the prostitute for the comparison.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Newt

I'm a little late to the story about Newt being so concerned about America that he cheated on his wive(s).

I guess he was trying to say he's a Star Spangled Banger.

More fun with Newt here.