Sunday, December 28, 2008

Connect the Dots, Year-end Edition

Top!Secret G-woman's on top of things for me.

Happy Christmas, Papa Ratzi! Does the Vatican Daily Hat subscribe to the AP feed? If so, you may have noticed an interesting story this morning that probably qualifies as stunning, ground-breaking news to you despite falling squarely in the middle of No Shit, Sherlock-Land for most of the rest of us.

Young gay people whose parents or guardians responded negatively when they revealed their sexual orientation were more likely to attempt suicide, experience severe depression and use drugs than those whose families accepted the information, according to a new study.

The way in which parents or guardians respond to a youth's sexual orientation profoundly influences the child's mental health as an adult, say researchers at San Francisco State University, whose findings appear in today's journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Please note that the parents' response can only profoundly influence the child's adult mental health if said child survives into adulthood rather than taking an early exit in the face of impossible expectations from family and church.

Not the optimal outcome.

So please give it a rest, Joe (Benny? which do you prefer?), and give parents the space to follow their instincts and be parents rather than parrots of your favorite intrinsically-disordered cracker line. You do not have kids. You do not even have sex, except possibly with that hot Italian secretary of yours who has undoubtedly ground his perfect teeth to nubbins from all the clenching of that perfect jaw that would be required to get anywhere near your icy cold nethers. So stuff a sock in it, already, and muse a little about what the Jewish guy with a beard really thought about things.

In somewhat related Wow I Had No Idea news, yet another study has concluded that virginity pledges don't result in much more than pregnant teenagers, or at least a 90/10 split between pregnant teenage girls and teenage girls with really sore asses who think they're still virgins.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

The pope has yet to comment on this, and projecting his scorecard is not the easiest task. Major minus: sex before marriage, minor plus: no birth control, major plus: at least they're doin' it with the opposite gender. So while Ratzi may give a slight edge to the purity ringers, reality scores things very differently.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The Aztecs knew the deal with the end of the year. Their calendar couldn't handle 365 days, so at the end of day 360 they hunkered down for a workweek's worth of days and laid low to keep the world from ending. Coinciding as nicely as it does with our own cultural dead time between Christmas and New Year's, I fully advocate doing the same, with my own personal hunkering involving a comfy chair, a blanket, many hot drinks, the 2009 NY Times crossword calendar, and random bowl games.

Probably not going to happen to the standards set by my rich fantasy life, but so far so good.

In other news, we're busy bribing Afghan tribal leaders to cooperate with us and rat out the Taliban. With something better than guns!
In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency's operatives have used a variety of personal services. These include pocket knives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.

Ew. Sorry, women/child brides of Kandahar province! Just when you thought the old geezer's willy had finally shriveled up and flopped over for the last time, here come the Special Forces and the magic blue pills! And a happy Eid al Adha to you too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In Solemn Stillness

Well, not exactly solemn or still, but waiting for Santa anyhow.

Christmas came for me over this past weekend when my parents showed up for our annual party and my dad, who seven years ago curtly instructed newly-out-to-him me not to bring my girlfriend to his house or mention anything about Teh Ghey to him, bounced into my house with Newsweek's pro-gay-marriage cover story, gleefully told me my Doc Marten knockoffs are so gay, hugged my partner, and generally played the role of father, grandfather, and father-in-law to perfection. He also cheerfully chatted up all 50+ party guests, including his favorite lesbian couple pals of ours. And he made us a birdfeeder for our gift.

We put a rainbow lightning bolt sticker in his stocking. He plans to proudly put it on his Harley and just hopes some punkass tries to give him a hard time.

And that, ladies and gents, is my hope for the future. The rest of it, including the 24-pound turkey and the ham cowering in the fridge until tomorrow and whatever's lurking under the tree are really just gravy. I got my Christmas wish. I hope you get the best of what your season of choice holds for you as well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Well, That Didn't Take Long

What was I saying about being too distracted by Christmas stuff to be able to get riled about goings-on in the real world? Yeah, well, that's over. Obama has made his pick for inauguration invocation-giver. And he picked evangelical megachurch purpose-driven pastor Rick Warren. Rick Assassinate-Ahmedinejad-And-Abortion-Is-Equivalent-To-The-Holocaust-And-Oh-By-The-Way-Gay-Marriage-Means-Ministers-Will-Go-To-Jail Warren.
Pastor Warren, while enjoying a reputation as a moderate based on his affable personality and his church's engagement on issues like AIDS in Africa, has said that the real difference between James Dobson and himself is one of tone rather than substance. He has recently compared marriage by loving and committed same-sex couples to incest and pedophilia. He has repeated the Religious Right's big lie that supporters of equality for gay Americans are out to silence pastors. He has called Christians who advance a social gospel Marxists. He is adamantly opposed to women having a legal right to choose an abortion.

Neat! We voted for change and got an inauguration speaker that couldn't be much Bushier unless he grows the goatee out into a full neckbeard!

Fuck. We've been looking at the Cabinet, we've been looking at the Blagojevich connections or not, we've been looking at the goddamn puppy possibilities and feeling pretty good. Should we continue to focus on the Education pick and avert our eyes from Warren because he just doesn't matter, or does Pastor Prop 8 matter just a little more than that?

Maybe this is simply a craven ploy, a right-wing trump card played to finally negate the Rev. Wright card the Republicans led (and somehow slipped back into their hands to play again and again). After all, most of us who voted for Obama managed to roll our eyes and shrug Wright's histrionics away; shouldn't we do the same with Warren? I do not think so. I do not think so because this was a calculated move to create an association for some incomprehensible political end rather than failing to sever an existing long-term association. I do not think so because Rick Warren does a hell of a lot more to foment bigotry and operationalize it in law than Jeremiah Wright could ever dream of. Wright is annoying. Warren is fucking dangerous.

Or maybe it's not craven politics at all and Rick Warren is the guy Barack Obama really thinks is the best to speak to the nation's soul on the occasion of his inauguration. And that one I don't want to think about at all. I can handle him being an unapologetic politician. I can't handle him being the kind of douchebag who thinks Rick Warren should be pastor-in-chief for even ten minutes.

More howling may be found at FireDogLake, Atrios, Americablog, Washington Monthly, Shakesville, Digby, Bilerico, and Pam's House Blend.

Thanks, Top!Secret G-woman!

Non-politicking at Its Best

I let the Big 3 bailout come and go without comment, not that I didn't have any, and similarly allowed the Bush Revisionist History Tour and Shoe Toss pass without so much as a link to the video (although I did enjoy the mashup with the Three Stooges).

Bad blogger.

Why? Well, mostly because it finally feels like Christmas, or what passes for feeling like Christmas in these parts, with a slight chill in the air and mornings cold enough to warrant long pants and sweaters (and sometimes even a jacket!), and two or three gloomy gray overcast days in a row with clouds draped artfully over the mountains, sometimes spitting rain, sometimes snow way up top, and strings of lights springing up on roofs and trees. The nonstop holiday music finally has some relevance.

Chez Bolt is preparing for the annual holiday bash, this year falling conveniently on the first night of Chanukah/winter solstice (better luck next year, Eid al Adha and Kwanzaa). We are scurrying around cleaning, cooking, baking, and taking on minor construction projects, trying to keep the firewood dry and the flowers alive for just a few more days until the usual 50+ peeps converge on the house for an evening of genuine good cheer.

Until then, of course, I have the genuine flipout over everything that's left to be done to keep me company. Shopping! (even in a year of not buying much at all in the way of presents, I'm still way behind schedule) Christmas cards! (bought? yes. addressed? HA!) Remembering to take a breath or two! And a drink or three? I'm on it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Trial Run

This is post number one with the new Latitude, not that there will be any difference from the reading end of things, but it makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. The keyboard has a softer feel than the Inspiron, indeed going so far as to flex slightly on typing--a feature I dearly hope was designed rather than being a harbinger of cracking in half or some other godawful catastrophe--and makes a quiet skittering sound not unlike several cats zipping across the roof in the middle of the night. The part of the case where your hands rest while typing is slightly textured with an almost gritty feel, where the Inspiron was smooth, leading me to try to brush it off several times before figuring out it's supposed to feel that way. Color saturation is not great, but that's fixable... somehow.

And it's keeping me warm since it's pretty freaking cold in here. Full service machine.


Innumerable small tasks are keeping me down, most of them related to this thing called "job," some related to the upcoming "Christmas party" and super-related "visit by parents." Both of the latter happening this weekend, by the way, with a day shoehorned in there of "drive up to Phoenix for yet another youth volleyball tournament."

Christ. Now that I'm finally at the age where my lack of both energy and patience to deal with unwanted tasks might most justifiably be approached with liberal doses of therapeutic alcohol, I'm too fucking old to be able to drink more than one drink without either falling on the floor, falling asleep, or putting on roughly fifty pounds for every beer.

Anyway. The nice new computer guy at work is setting up my wicked cool new laptop, so I'm sure the blogging quality will shoot through the roof any moment now. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Teh Chrismus spirit, I no haz it.

Meh. Feh. Wev.

Maybe it's a lack of decorations. The lights are up on the outside (eat it, Mario; we beat you again this year) but nothing's going on inside except a weird little manger scene art piece thing (as much as a cast-resin item from the "spiritual" section at Kohls can be said to be art) my grandmother handed me at Thanksgiving. Many many years ago it somehow came up in conversation that I had a few manger scenes knocking around the closet--apparently it was the gift for newlyweds in southern Illinois in the early '90s--and she was so delighted at the thought that I was finally collecting something that did not involve dirt, rocks, or dead things slowly pickling in specimen jars that I have been receiving a new mostly awful manger scene every year. This one's probably the best of the bunch so far, I gotta say, and I made a splendid save when she asked me if I keep them up all year or just put them out at Christmas and how do I display them. Oh, I clear out a few shelves for them, I said. This was the right answer. Of course, those shelves are mostly in my shed and occasionally at Goodwill, but whatever.

Maybe it's a lack of snow. Granted, I live in the desert in southern Arizona, so this excuse is wearing thin after almost 15 years. It's been cold enough in the mornings to be able to wear long pants to work and occasionally a sweater. You can't see your breath all day long, though.

Maybe it's a lack of enthusiasm for shopping. It is certainly exacerbated by the same economy that's shitty all all over the country, even where there's snow and crisp air. Not that I have made it a habit to incinerate cash on overkill presents in years past, but it is simply hard to get too revved up about spending anything, no matter how local I can pride myself on keeping my money.

Maybe it's something else entirely that I'd rather not explore.

Anybody want a drink?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not That Much of a Stretch, Actually

As Much as It Pains Me to Say This...

Where Rachel bunted, Jon Stewart ignored the "take" sign and knocked Mike Huckabee outta the park and past the parking lot.

Stewart consistently gets it, and is the first big-distribution commentator I know of who has had the spine to tell a right-winger to his face that religious affiliation is the most blatant "lifestyle choice" there is. Nice jab also at proponents of a meritocracy dismissing an entire class of people out of hand while assuming that a status uniquely and exclusively qualifies another class of people (straights) for a particular job (parenting).

Thanks as always to Top!Secret G-woman, who consistently points me to interesting things I go to bed too early to notice.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rod Blagojevich Misses Memo on 21st Century Happening, Acts Surprised to See Federal Agents

Jesus, Blago. You are an Illinois politician, but it's not the '50s or '60s anymore. Or the late '90s.
Federal authorities arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday on charges that he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the Senate seat left vacant by President-electBarack Obama to the highest bidder.

Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field, according to a federal criminal complaint. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

"I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain," Blagojevich allegedly said later that day, according to the affidavit, which also quoted him as saying in a remark punctuated by profanity that the seat was "a valuable thing — you just don't give it away for nothing."

Was Jim Edgar the last clean governor we had in Illinois? Lordy. Ethical behavior really needs to not be the sole property of Downstate Republicans.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Daily Star Tucson Love Stories Watch, Part IV

My suspicions that the whole thing is a setup for a moral-of-the-story that marriage is what we make it were further strengthened by Sunday's love story installment about a couple that (1) has three failed marriages between them and (2) is finished with procreation, with six grown children between them.

Plus! The guy is 100 percent disabled, and his wife has stuck by him 24/7 in the hospital and out. Insert obligatory visitation rights nod here.

When is the payoff coming? The big reveal? Move that bus, Daily Star, and show the normal-as-all-these-crazy-straight-people gay people who have been in the shadows.

In Which, Yet Again, We Got Nuthin'

Full weekend of whaaaaaaat the fuck am I doing followed by a similar day at work followed by a perfectly lovely evening watching the boy in a series of single scenes for drama class--he was the best of any of them, truly--leaves the blog woefully ignored.

Stuff went on in the world, I'm sure, including Notre Dame setting themselves for another chapter in the What the Flying Fuck Chronicles they've been compiling over the past ten years by accepting a bid to the *cough* Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. This is fortuitous because it means I'll be too full of red wine and smoked ham to care.

And the downside to having dumped ~15 pounds is that I am now obsessive about keeping track of calories consumed and calories elliptical machined away and weight lifted and weight maintained on a daily basis, and it's driving me fucking insane. When I was tubbier I was unhappy about it but that was about the extent of my emotional investment. Now that I am slightly less so, damn. This is no way to live.

Back to the cutting political and cultural commentary tomorrow. For reals.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Connect-the-Dots Day on the Front Lines of the Big Gay Culture War

Front-page news in southern Arizona's burgeoning Bridal Expo Daily Star! Divorces are down, both nationally and locally! Could it be that all these marriage-defendin' constitutional amendments have finally started to make a difference? Was the passing of Prop 102 in Arizona and Prop 8 in California the bellwether the nation had been seeking for confirmation that marriage is sacred and cool and preservation-worthy again?

Well, no, actually. It's the economy.
In these scary economic times, couples seem to be sticking to the "for worse" part of their marriage vows and deciding their differences may not be so unreconcilable after all.

[Tucson family law attorney Steve Centuori] said people will stay in an unhappy marriage longer during tough economic times, and when the economy gets better, people will file for divorce again.

"It's really interesting," said Centuori, who has been practicing family law in Tucson for seven years. "The two main reasons for divorce are finances and personal differences; finances being the top reason."

Think back with me, for a moment, to any of the comment pages attached to gay marriage stories in the Star, or the Chicago Tribune, or pretty much any paper you may have been reading over the past several years. Specifically, think of all the comments tsk-tsking that our insistence on full marriage rights that include federal and social security benefits, instead of settling for piecemeal civil unions or individually-negotiated contracts, proves that we we're really only in it for the money, not for love. So now it seems that a lot of straight couples are only sticking with it for the money themselves, love having vacated the relationship some time ago, and intend to separate what God hath joined just as soon as they can scrape together enough cash to do so.

Item the next: Jonah Goldberg. Jonah's upset at the gay people who got so upset at upright Californians exercising their democratic right to vote to take away one specific minority group's existing civil rights. Specifically, his shorts are in a bunch over the Mormon home-invasion ad that aired on election day in California.

The argument is that Mormons used illegitimate power, in this case money, beyond their numerical standing in the population to secure victory for the measure. Golly, wealthy gay liberals would never do anything like that!

No, it's just that Mormons are the most vulnerable of the culturally conservative religious denominations and therefore the easiest targets for an organized campaign against religious freedom of conscience.

It's often lost on gay-rights groups that they and their allies are the aggressors in the culture war. Indeed, they admit to being the "forces of change" and the "agents of progress." They proudly want to rewrite tradition and overturn laws. But whenever they're challenged democratically and peaceably, they instantly complain of being victims of entrenched bigots, even as they adopt the very tactics they abhor.

No comment yet from Jonah on his outrage over the blatantly dishonest pro-Prop 8 ads that aired throughout the election season with claims that children would be "taught gay marriage" in school and churches would be shut down and pastors sued when they refuse to conduct ceremonies for same-sex couples, but I'm sure it must be coming. I mean, someone as righteous as Jonah Goldberg wouldn't overlook something like that, would he?


This is already getting very, very old. The Mormons have been intently planning for decades to fight in every state of the union to deny full civil rights to a group of citizens whose only offense against the Mormon church has been simply existing. Decades. They poured money, resources, and personnel into a neighboring state in which they constitute something like three percent of the voting population in a concerted effort to swing the vote their way, a vote that would have no direct impact on their lives in Utah one bit. But when we finally snap back on one day after thousands upon thousands of days of dishonest, deceptive, irrational fearmongering at our expense, somehow we're the aggressors in the culture war.

We're done being complacent and polite and oh so afraid of offending anyone who either intentionally works to deny us full personhood or casually discriminates against us. We're calling bigots bigots. And that bothers sanctimonious blowhards like Jonah Goldberg, and probably scares them more than a little bit. Quake away, Jonah, and save the breath you're wasting on telling me how to behave.

And, finally, our Daily Star Tucson Love Stories Watch: I'm starting to wonder if the whole thing is a brilliantly crafted setup that will culminate with the story of a same-sex couple that trucked over to California to wed apres Prop 8, since I don't think even the Daily Star is capable of this much unintentional irony. Two of the first three couples in the series had previously been divorced, and now this week we have long-lost high school sweethearts who finally got married... in their eighties. So the Star has promptly wiped out both the marriage is sacred and forever and marriage is for procreation arguments in fewer than 30 days. If the next couple weeks bring mixed-religion or, horror of horrors, atheistic couples, I'll only get more suspicious that they're fixing to shatter the hypocrisy of the big heteronormative bubble they've been shoving at us on a weekly basis. A girl can dream, no?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Jan, Janet, What's the Difference?

The difference, unfortunately, comes down to life in Arizona having been mostly tolerable due to Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano's heavy veto pen keeping a rabid Republican legislature at bay, and now having the prospects of being far less tolerable once uber-conservative Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer sails into the seat Napolitano will vacate in January to become head of Homeland Security.
That could result in the state pulling back from Napolitano-backed efforts on climate change, emissions caps, increased health insurance and education spending. It also could push the state forward on immigration controls and penalties for businesses hiring illegal immigrants and abortion rights restrictions, according to officials familiar with Brewer and Napolitano.

“I think we can kiss goodbye to the climate change efforts and any leadership on that,” said Sandy Bahr, state coordinator for the Sierra Club environmental group. “I don’t think much of the environmental progress will stay. With this legislature and Jan Brewer, we are in a world of hurt when it comes to protecting the state’s resources.”

Napolitano vetoed anti-abortion bills coming out of the Legislature, including a partial-birth prohibition that would have piggybacked on a federal ban. Napolitano signed off on some get-tough immigration bills forwarded by the right-wing Republicans but vetoed others.

For a state that is rapidly churning through its few remaining pristine open spaces that are in proximity to urban areas and has local and county boards that roll over for real estate developers on a regular basis, a state that languishes at the bottom of the nation when it comes to primary and secondary education and teen pregnancy, well, this isn't great news. It's spectacular for land speculators and the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association. Saguaros and public school kids in South Tucson? Not so much.

Jan Brewer also vigorously opposed the inclusion of language in the gay marriage-banning ballot measure explaining that gay marriage was already illegal under Arizona statute. And she was happy to bring the lovely Diebold touchscreen voting machines to Arizona, and then called Arizonans who objected to their use--after they had been demonstrated to be unreliable and unverifiable--anarchists and conspiracy theorists.

So Brewer and the Republican legislature get two years to de-fund public education and slash environmental protection in Arizona and make 700,000 East Valley voters deliriously happy to the point that they vote her back in for an additional 4 years, and in return Arizona gets... what? The honor and prestige of having an Arizonan serve as the head of a cabinet-level but really poorly structured department? And what, really, does Napolitano get out of it? If she manages to streamline DHS and get it to do something actually useful, like, say, maybe checking shipping containers and airline cargo, maybe she gets a pat on the head. Will it springboard her into the Senate, if that's where she sees this ending? Not likely.

Impending senses of doom keep me from my rest.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


The boy, reading his history book: Is socialism bad?
Me: Not necessarily.
The boy: Oh, that's fascism.
Me: Yes, fascism is bad.
The boy: I like fascism better. Know why? It sounds like face-ism.
Me: ...
The boy: I get to vote soon.


Confession time. Twitter has me flummoxed. I am not getting my full potential out of it and am, I am certain, depriving the world of all the brilliant Tweets I would put out there if I only knew what the fuck it was really for. Am I really supposed to set it up to run off my phone so I can let all my followers know @Boltgirl: going to Safeway or @Boltgirl: wow it's cold this morning? Is there supposed to be more? Please enlighten me.


Top Chef: Thanksgiving sucked. I know more shows are going to go the product placement route once DVRs kill regular commercials forever, but I do not want to watch the Swanson's Broth Hour. Or the GE Microwave Extravaganza. Also, pop bands should not be confused with food critics, especially when they say things like "I don't like figs and stuff."



Cautiously Recommended: New Old Peking

Old Peking has been bravely dishing out Chinese food at Speedway and Tucson Boulevard since 1975, with a few blips here and there in the form of, oh, going out of business a few times and reopening and reinventing and closing again. They reopened with fanfare and plastic flags a couple of weeks ago, and on the basis of three dishes we can say, what the hell, give it a shot.

Unlike old Old Peking, nothing we ordered looked like it was dumped out of a freezer bag. The crab puffs (a very guilty pleasure which we do not actually feel guilty about one whit, thank you) were tiny and sparsely stuffed, but we got seven instead of the advertised six, and they appeared to have been quickly fried in nice hot oil, and so weren't greasy. The sauce served with them was an unfortunate amalgamation of ketchup and honey, we think, which was maybe not the best choice, but it wasn't half bad and didn't kill us. Sesame beef on the menu equates to a mountain of sesame beef and only sesame beef--not a vegetable to be seen--on the plate, which pleased my carnivorous son to no end. Simple, hot, savory, just a tad sweet, very very very tasty. My Szechuan tofu featured nine kinds of fresh vegetables cut into pleasingly large chunks and, shockingly, not cooked to a homogenous goo! Hooray for new Old Peking! The big triangles of tofu were pleasingly firm; the sauce had a nip to it and, stunningly, did not include worrisome pools of oil floating on top! Unlike old Old Peking!

We got out for under seventeen bucks and had leftovers for one boy meal and two me meals.

Note: if you are the only people in the restaurant, the very friendly waitress will strike up a conversation that will last through most of your meal. Given the economic climate and old Old Peking's last-resort reputation, she is understandably anxious about people (1) realizing they're open again and (2) liking the food enough to come back. She quizzed us on how long we'd lived in Tucson, how often we'd come to the previous incarnation of the restaurant, how we knew they had re-opened, whether three in the afternoon was an odd time for us to be eating, how we thought the food compared to the old version, can you be more specific please, and how we liked the flyers they had just had printed up and if we would make any changes on said flyers to make people more likely to come in. But somehow it wasn't nearly as annoying as it sounds.

10% off through the end of 2008, with killer lunch specials every day and the threat of live Clavinova music weekend nights. Go lonely and hungry, leave feeling full and loved.