Sunday, January 31, 2010
D' and I just got back from watching Tooth Fairy, starring two Star Trek alums Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Ashley Judd. Johnson's been doing a lot in recent years to change his image to tough-ass wrestling bad-guy to kid-movie star. This movie did a good job of progressing the evolution of his newer image.
All in all, it wasn't a bad movie. Career-stalled hockey player killed one of many children's dreams and ended up getting drafted as the newest tooth fairy for a couple weeks or until he learns his lesson. After a series of mishaps, he succeeds in his wings, gets engaged, and lands a dream job in the majors.
Here are a couple plot points that drove me nuts. First, it turns out that the tooth fairies are on the verge of extinction because more and more kids don't believe in them. With this in mind, I don't understand why they insist on stealth tooth-extraction methods and super-dooper magical gadgets aimed at avoiding detection. Why not let the world know that they exist and solve that major fairy problem?
Secondly, the ending made little sense to me. Johnson's character finally learns his message and encouraging people to dream and believe and aspire to greater things, etc, etc, etc... How is he rewarded? They erase his memories and send him home. How is he to incorporate his new revelations with these repressed memories? Personally, I think that tooth fairy powers-that-be are trying to recruit him again and again in the future by reintroducing previous character flaws. Cheap and recursive labor force, y'know? But that's just me.
Fathers’ day: A growing number of gay men are starting families
By Molly Rossiter
Will Coghill-Behrends didn’t think he’d ever become a father. As a gay man he just didn’t think fatherhood would be part of his future. “I think I knew that I wanted to be a parent before I met (my partner) Andy, I just assumed that, because I was gay, it wasn’t really a possibility,” says Coghill-Behrends, 34, of Iowa City.
Jon Trouten, 38, and Mark Holbrook, 41, of Iowa City, had similar concerns. The two have been together since 1994 and were married earlier this month, but spent the early years of their relationship wondering whether parenthood could be in the cards for them.
Both couples are now adoptive fathers.
They are among a growing community gay men, who despite societal assumptions that women alone have strong urges to be parents, are following their paternal instincts to have families.
Will and Andy Coghill-Behrends have three children — Hannah, 13, Damond, 12, and Quincy, 9; Holbrook and Trouten are fathers to D’Angelo, 9, and legal guardians to Leslie Kennebeck, 16.
It was this strong desire to become parents on the part of gay men that compelled University of Iowa professor Ellen Lewin was to write her book, “Gay Fatherhood: Nar ratives of Family and Citizenship in America.” She decided to dig into the subject deeper after reading an excerpt from another project in which a gay man discussed how much he wanted to have children.
“The thing that impressed me was the intensity of his yearning to have a child,” Lewin says. “In our culture we see the yearning coming from the mother, we don’t think of it with the men.” In researching her book Lewin spoke with 100 gay men about their desire to become a father and the struggles they faced in making that a reality.
“I always wanted to have kids, but I wasn’t always sure it was a possibility,” Andy Coghill-Behrends says.
While not all states allow gay men and women to become foster parents or to adopt children, many states have opened lines to adopting and fostering, including Iowa.
“I was surprised to find out gays and lesbians could be foster parents,” Will CoghillBehrends says. “When we found out, we really started to think about becoming foster parents.” That’s the path both Will and Andy Coghill-Behrends and Jon Trouten and Mark Holbrook took. Both Trouten and Andy Coghill-Behrends are in the social work field; both saw children in the system and the need for foster parents. “I think we vaguely started thinking about it, but it wasn’t until Jon started working with social services that we really started considering it,” Holbrook says. Damond came to the Coghill-Behrends family in 2003, and the couple adopted him and his brother and sister in 2006. Trouten and Holbrook were already legal guardians to Leslie when D’Angelo joined the family in 2005.
Now, the men say, they can’t imagine not being parents.
“I make the joke that sometimes I think I forget I’m gay,” Will CoghillBehrends says. “Parenthood has become so much of my identity.” “These kids have brought a richness to my life that I truly didn’t know was possible,” Andy Coghill-Behrends says. “My life has been transformed in a way that I just feel so incredibly grateful for.”
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Here's the nutshell: CBS refused to air a 30-second television ad for the United Church of Christ five years ago (you can see the rejected ad in the first link). For whatever reason, CBS claimed that it promotes gay marriage, which the president of the USA opposed and which made it an advocacy ad. Granted, there was nothing that promoted, hinted at, or suggested anything close to a wedding ceremony in the ad, but that was their reasoning. A couple weeks ago, it was learned that CBS accepted an anti-abortion advertisement to be aired during the Super Bowl, which was produced by Focus on the Family. People, including those in the UCC asked about the double standard on religious-based advocacy ads. CBS said that their policy has evolved and they now accept such ads. In fact, they said that they would accept the previously rejected UCC ad now. End of the nutshell....
I was reading an interesting editorial from USAToday that asserts that the networks favor evangelical Christianity. You can read the piece here. There was some interesting comments that I'd forgotten about:
(UCC spokesman Rev. J. Bennett) Guess... went on to look at the "arbitrary" way networks make decisions, he says, help foster the...In other words, we should keep our eyes and ears open to see if similar advertisements for the UCC (or the MCC or the Fellowship, etc., etc., etc.) will be rejected again in the future due to CBS' continually evolving standards for religious advertising.... common misunderstanding in this country that all religious people hold a monolithic view on certain issues, such as reproductive choice or same-gender marriage equality, and this is not the case...
... The UCC encountered a similar situation in early 2005 when our church sought air time on the ABC network, only to be told that ABC did not accept any religious advertising. The very next month, Focus on the Family was allowed prime time advertising on ABC's SuperNanny show.
Interestingly, different folks have now offered up Mancrunch -- a gay dating site -- as the counter message for Tim Tebow's anti-abortion message. Their juvenile ad was offered up this week to air during the Super Bowl and has now been rejected by CBS. GLAAD has already complained about this ad's rejection.
Meanwhile, Gloria Allread is threatening to sue CBS if they go ahead and air the FotF/Tim Tebow ad for false advertising. Apparently, he was never at risk for being aborted, as his mother lived in the Phillipines during her pregnancy and abortion has been illegal there since 1930.
As for me, I won't be watching the Super Bowl, but will instead spend my time watching the fourth annual Puppy Bowl over at Animal Planet. I could spend a couple paragraphs talking about what I love about the Puppy Bowl, but the PB's adorable Ref can communicate the show's appeal in one minute much better than I ever could. Enjoy!
Friday, January 29, 2010
DemocRATic Hawaiian House Nixes Civil Union Bill in Secret Vote. But they'll still take our cash donations.
Unsurprisingly, CBS Nixes Commerical for Mancrunch Gay Dating Site During Super Bowl.
Marvel Premiers First Image of its New Heroic Age.
Turns Out Tim Tebow's Mom Couldn't Abort Him Afterall. She Lived in the Phillipines, Where Abortion has been Illegal since 1930.
I'll post something more substantial tomorrow on at least one of these subjects. I may even come up with my own original topic. Hard to tell. Now it's overnight puppy duty. G'night!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
RIP: Zelda Rubinstein.
Woman Dies. Refused to call ambulance fearing the expense.
Joint Chiefs Hating Proposed DADT Repeal; Loving Punishment in Iran.
Family Research Council's Tony Perkins on DADT: "Gay Soldiers Will Rape Your Christian Ass". (headline stolen from JoeMyGod.blogspot.com)
Andrew Marin: Soliciting Questions and Comments re: Bridge-Building between GLBT & Conservative Christian Communities.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
2004: The United Church of Christ initiated a God is Still Speaking campaign and came out with a collection of 30 second commercials aimed at attracting the unchurched. Various church leaders and communities -- including some within the UCC -- found the ads inflammatory, self-righteous, and accusatory, particularly the UCC's 'Bouncer' ad, which featured a church bouncer that wouldn't allow a gay couple and a few others past the velvet rope and into the church. The UCC tried airing this ad and another one during the 2004 Lenten season. CBS, ABC, and a few other channels refused to air the ad, citing policies against advocacy advertising. Apparently, as I recall, this GISS 'Bouncer' ad advocated "gay marriage". (whatever...) The UCC protested and nothing ultimately came of it.
2010: CBS agreed to sell Super Bowl ad-time to Focus on the Family for an anti-abortion message from some football player whose name escapes me, but who could've been aborted for medical reasons way back when. Two factions spoke up. One group generally doesn't want anti-abortion messages aired during a national football game. The other group is really more interested in calling CBS on its conflicting messages. Does it or does it not allow advocacy advertisement? Why is Focus on the Family's advocacy okay, but not the United Church of Christ's?
Actually, in my mind, the real question should be is the Bouncer ad really an advocacy ad?
Well, CBS has finally issued a response to this latest bruhaha:
After CBS sparked outrage by agreeing to a Super Bowl ad featuring college football player Tim Tebow and his mother speaking out against abortion, network
officials are now saying they have new rules allowing "advocacy" ads to run during the big game.
The network has eased restrictions on such ads — as long as they are "responsibly produced," they are acceptable to be aired during the Super Bowl, CBS officials told the Los Angeles Times. CBS will allow other issue-oriented ads to run during the few remaining commercial time slots available during the February 7 Super Bowl. The Tebow ad — which cost between $2.5 million and $2.8 million — is funded by Focus on the Family, a group adamantly opposed to both reproductive and gay rights.
CBS took flak in 2004 for rejecting a gay-friendly ad by the United Church of Christ; network officials say that under their new rules, that commercial would be allowed to air.
So essentially CBS is now fine with "responsibly produced" advocacy ads and considers the 'Bouncer' ad amongst those "responsibly produced" ads.
Now I'm hearing calls for CBS to air the UCC 'Bouncer' ad during the Super Bowl or for CBS to air it for free. I personally think that we should let it rest. The UCC doesn't have the money for national television advertising and CBS shouldn't be blackmailed into airing our ads for free.
Our time would be better served improving the quality of our churches so that those unchurched masses have a reason to check out our churches week after week. Or maybe we could have people work on the whole concept of "advocacy advertising" with the networks so that this doesn't happen again.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
The good news is that I'll be serving as council secretary for the coming year. Basically, I'll take notes and mail the minutes off in a timely manner. I can handle that. No extra meetings. No liassoning between the church council and various church committees.
My first official stint as Sec starts next Sunday at 11 AM.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Here's the gist of the video: My weight's down to 246. That's a six pound loss since last Thursday evening. Not bad. Most of the time, I'm keeping my calories down to 1500 calories. Yesterday was an exception: I purchased a huge family-sized pizza from Hy-Vee to help the boys cope over their icy no-school day. Here's hoping that I manage to lose another six pounds during the coming week! :)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Pretty much all of Iowa's been blanketed by ice and sleet all day today. The schools are closed. The community centers are closed. Many church services are closed. Some businesses are closed. Heck, even our city bus system was shut down for an hour or so this morning. The end result is that the kids were home, so I had to stay home from work most of the day.
Fortunately, Mark was able to be here for a bit, so I got in about three hours of work time before I took over for him. I decided to stop by the Hy-Vee for some grub before returning home and witnessed one of the saddest vocational sights that I've seen in a while.
Some poor woman was standing around in the freezing rain wearing a "Statue of Liberty" costume and waving at the traffic. Her job is to attract potential customers to a nationwide tax preparation franchise, which I won't name, but I'm sure people can figure out if they really want to.
I have seen them out there before. Men and women, dressed like Lady Liberty, braving the cold Iowa winters. I've seen them when it's raining, when it's snowing, and obviously when it's below freezing. Outside of the weather hazards, it's obviously not the most... *ahem* taxing of jobs and I know that it pays at most minimum wage.
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that this woman has a job and that she's obviously dedicated to it. But, I personally cannot imagine how bad things must be financially where the only job you can get is a Lady Liberty gig while standing in an ice storm. And I cannot imagine what kind of employer I might have if they allowed me to stand out in an ice storm with nothing to protect me from the freezing elements but a blue-green coverall and crown.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Five years ago, CBS rejected an ad from the United Churches of Christ, deeming that their message - that the church would accept all people including LGBT individuals - was too controversial. A Boston Globe story about their rejection of the ad in 2004 cites a CBS spokesman, Dana McClintock, who made reference to "a longstanding policy of not accepting advocacy advertising."This new controversy is an interersting one. On the face of it, I really don't care if Focus on the Family is able to air its anti-abortion ad. I question whether its worth their limited resources, given that they've laid off a large percentage of their workforce within the past year.
Now, the news comes out that they will be airing an ad during the Super Bowl from Focus on the Family - a group that firmly stands against a woman's right to choose - featuring Tim Tebow and carrying a distinctly anti-abortion message. This is pretty clearly an advocacy advertisement.
Therefore, this group is asking CBS: Has your policy on advocacy advertising changed?
If not, how is a commercial about a topic that's clearly a matter of public controversy, the question of a woman's right to choose, not considered advocacy advertising while an ad telling people that they'll be accepted at church somehow is? CBS must reject Focus on the Family's ad.
If the policy has changed, integrity demands that CBS offer the United Church of Christ the opportunity they were wrongly denied in December 2004, and give them the chance to buy an ad slot during the Super Bowl to advertise their acceptance of all people.
On the other hand, I never understood the controversy over the UCC bouncer ads. Well, I kind of understood. Different church communities didn't like the inferred accusation that they put up barriers to visitors and members who don't fit the right mold. They also didn't like the assertion that the UCC doesn't have its own barriers to more theologically conservative individuals. I can sympathize with the second concern, but not really with the first one. Spend some time reading the blog comments at Andrew Marin's blog and check out examples of potential bouncers towards gay Christians or non-Christians. Not to spotlight Andrew's readers specifically. It just jumps to mind at the moment. There are many similar examples out there that you can find in blogs or on Youtube. It's their right, but they're certainly church bouncers.
The bigger controversy with the UCC ads was the expense associated with the ads and the long-term dubious results of the gimmicky comma/God Is Still Speaking branding. But that's another complaint for another day.
Truthfully, I doubt that CBS really even considered the UCC's GISS ads when they accepted Focus on the Family's anti-abortion ad. And I certainly hope that they don't turn around and offer the UCC a chance to post one of our GISS ads during the Superbowl, because 1. we can't afford it and 2. I don't believe that the UCC is the counterpoint to either Focus on the Family or anti-abortion advocacy in general.
But I do hope that reconsider their definition of "controversy". And I hope that they express more of a willingness in the future, if offered the opportunity, to accept advertising from the UCC or from similar religious churches or groups that promote acceptance of GLBT individuals and families.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Our adult dog, Ms. Lion, weighs about 8 pounds. Moogie in his prime weighed 10-11 pounds. Mitzy before that weighed about 10 pounds. Cuddles weighed 15, as did Gypsy. Are you sensing a trend?
Nero will be our first big dog. I knew there would be adjustments from what I've done before when raising puppies to what I need to do now. I'm quickly adapting to each of Nero's challenges. Besides the size, he's got a lot more energy and is a lot more bitey. He eats a lot more. He plows through things a lot easier. I'm discovering the joy of Shamwow rags to help with drying off the carpet. I'm learning that Nero naps more and less bitey when I take him to the dog park a couple times daily. He is also more interested is rubber chew toys than any of the other dogs have been. Most of this stuff is common sense, but sometimes the truth (like the walking needs of a 3-month-old pekepoo vs. the walking needs of a 3-month-old standard poodle) really takes hold when you're actually in its presence.
I've been watching a lot of television this weekend during Nero's naps. There's been a marathon of Bring It On movies all weekend. I've seen the first one all the way through and liked it. I even bought their version of Hey Mickey! for my iPod. It seems to me that the Bring It On franchise has covered California. We've seen white vs. black cheerleaders, rival college cheer squads, "West Side Story"-styled cheer camp wars, and now we're getting into ghetto cheer teams. They need to move east, I think. Maybe a Chicago-based home school association's struggle to form its own cheer squad. Or maybe a squad from small-town Iowa struggling to compete against more experienced, better funded urban schools. Just my opinion.
Another program that I've been watching a lot this weekend is The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, an HBO series based off Alexander McCall Smith's series by the same name. It's set in Botswana and details the professional exploits of that country's best (and only) lady detective. It's fresh, entertaining, and humorous. Not only that, but I swear that the series' main character, Precious Ramotswe, is played by Dawn French's African identical cousin. They share so much: body shape, voice, mannerisms, facial features. I really like it and I strongly encourage others to check it out.
Shifting from television, scripture time today during church was interesting. Brian made a video about Psalm 13 about the concepts of Lamentation and Hope. The attached blog entry reflects on the current state of mainline Christianity and the church, but Brian obviously altered the imagery to reflect the horrible earthquake in Haiti and its aftermath. I think he did a good job of creatively communicating Psalm 13's message. I encourage folks to check out his work.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
As noted in the above video, my weight as of Thursday night was 252, which is way too high. I've done a good job of restricting calories and drinking more water. As of 11:30 AM today, my weight was already down to 244, which more than suggests that I was really soaking up fluids. My initial goal was to lose 15 pounds by the end of March. I've altered that to be 20 pounds. I believe that I can do it.
BTW, the weight loss/activity charting program that my co-workers and I joined this month is called Live Healthy Iowa. You can read about it here. Our team is called Movers and Losers.
I'm slowly getting over my bit of blog-lag following the wedding and my return to work. I have a few new ideas for the coming year with regards to this blog, but I wanted to take a moment to reignite the blog and to call attention to a new program that I'm getting excited about: Pit Boss.
Pit Boss does what I believe Animal Planet does best. It takes a successful reality show concept (like Bravo's Sheer Genius or Syfy's Ghost Hunters) and spins it out with a distinctive animal theme (such as Groomer Has It or The Haunted). Pit Boss pulls from much of TLC's reality show line-up (Little People, Big World, etc.) and sprinkles in a bit of dog rescuing.
Here is the show's description:
Former actor, entertainment guru and pit bull rescuer Shorty Rossi has lofty ideals, a tough attitude and an entertainment industry Rolodex to help his cause. And he's gathered together three friends/employees; Ronald, Ashley and Sebastian, to take on the gargantuan task of rescuing, rehabbing and training the most misunderstood of dogs—pit bulls.
Shorty, a workaholic with a devilish sense of humor and quick temper, balances two jobs—running Shortywood Productions, a Hollywood talent management company for little people, as well as Shorty’s Rescue, his pit bull rescue group.
Shorty, aptly named, and his three cohorts happen to be little people with the biggest hearts for these adorable dogs, who often are bigger than they are. From the producers of Millionaire Matchmaker and Blowout, Pit Boss follows the everyday drama and joy of these buddies and business partners as they hit the streets of Los Angeles in their fight to overcome stereotypes — for themselves and the pit bulls they save."
Pit Boss premiers tonight on Animal Planet at 9 PM CST.
Monday, January 11, 2010
It's been a couple days since Mark and I became husbands under Iowa law. I've had a day to crash and now it's time to reflect.
Looking back, there is not a lot that I would have done differently. We spent a little more than we budgeted, but only a little bit more. My mother and most of my siblings were present, as was Mark's sister (my one sister and her family couldn't make it because of the weather). We had several friends and co-workers there to witness the day. The food was (too) plentiful and excellent.
I totally DO NOT regret splurging this time on a professional wedding cake. During our first wedding, Mark and I were given a nice cake by a co-worker as a gift for our reception. It was a generous gift then and I completely appreciated it. But this weekend's cake, prepared by Tip Top Cakes, was out of this frickin' world! There were three layers: Red Velvet, White Chocolate Raspberry, and Pink Champagne with strawberries in the middle. We still have quite a bit of the bottom layer left over and it still tastes fresh like it did on Saturday.
Mark and I prepared our food for our first wedding back in 1997 and this time we decided to have a caterer provide the food. It was a bit too oniony for my taste, but everyone raved about Michael's work and it was nice to not have to slave away late into the night before the wedding preparing food for the reception.
We blew it when it came to taking pictures. We got lots of cake shots, but we have no family pictures and no pictures of the ceremony itself outside of my flip video camera. I haven't yet looked at that film. I'm hoping that it's not too jumpy. D'Angelo decided to take over that role. I'm also hoping that the sound isn't too faint.
The homily was wonderful. I drafted the bulletin and Pastor Bruce took it from there with the scriptures that I chose (Ruth 12: 9-12; Romans 12: 9-12; Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12; & Ephesians 4: 31-32). There were lots of people who commented on the quality of his sermon. Unfortunately, he is leaving our church during the coming year. But it was an honor to have him preside over our nuptials before he left for good.
The boys were both on their best behavior and did wonderfully as greeters and attendants. The dogs were also present and fortunately Nero crashed right before the ceremony. Ms. Lion whined a bit, but not terribly so.
I do have a few pics from reception and I am sure I'll acquire more as time goes by. I'll post them as they arrive and I'll eventually get the wedding film posted. Hopefully it won't make anyone seasick. :)
Monday, January 4, 2010
Anyway, today was probably the most important part of the wedding process: the application for the marriage license. The wedding's essentially fluff. Invite a bunch of folks over for a church service and party, give them lots of food, play a little music, and that's pretty much it. But the celebration and the ceremony mean nothing legally without the license. Mark and I got married nearly 12 years ago. We know we're married, but until today's license application is completely processed and officiated, the State of Iowa still thinks we're a couple of guys sharing a house.
Looking back on the process, I'm surprised how such a mundane application process is treated with such reverance by those who seek to eliminate our ability to legally marry. Mark and I went to the County Recorder office with our friend Laura. We filled in our names and our parents' names. Laura indicated that she knows us. The clerk notarized the form and we paid her thirty-five bucks. We were in and out within fifteen minutes. Give it three days and we'll be able to make it official.
Meanwhile, the social conservatives are aching to let us know how much they LUV our approaching nuptuals. When it comes down to it, their families aren't going to be harmed if couples like Mark and me become legally married. But our family and others like us will be explicitly harmed if their Iowa Marriage Amendment eventually passes.
It's funny. Social conservatives insist that they need to vote on whether or not gay couples can marry. They don't seem fixated on protecting the unborn by popular vote. They don't seem fixated on eliminating easy divorces by popular vote. They don't insist on having popular votes to make the final decision about health care reform or state budget issues or affirmative action or home schooling legislation. They typically take advantage of our representative democracy and turn to the legislators that they voted into office to make these types of decisions. Or they accept that there are some issues that can be left alone, even if they don't agree with them.
But married gay couples is the one thing we can't leave alone. They can tell us all of the bad things that will happen if we're allowed to marry, but they can't really cite any specific examples where those horror stories have come true. No churches have been forced to marry gay couples, despite years of legal marriage equality in Massachusettes for the past five-plus years. No major drops in the frequency of new marriages and no major jumps in the incidents of divorce. All they can do is come up with scare stories about how married gays will affect your kids. It's totally irrational and completely frustrating to me.
For now, we will soon join our friends, family member, and neighbors as a legally protected and responsibly married family.