Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Handsome Is As Handsome Does

A small, good thing.

Yesterday, we went out for my mother's birthday; dinner. On the way home, we engaged is various crazy discussions and in an elevated level of goofiness that actually left me hoarse from repeatedly doing a silly voice.

At one point, for some reason, the conversation lead to my son, who is twelve, asking my mom: "Grandmom...who was the actor you had a crush on when you were younger? Tom Cruise?"

"No," my mom said. "He was after my time. It was Charlton Heston."

"Who's he again?" my son responded.

"The guy from Planet of the Apes," I chimed in. "Taylor."

"Oh, yeah," my son said. Then, he thought for a minute. "He was a pretty good-looking guy. I could see why girls would like him."

What was cool was the ease with which my son said that. If I am geing honest, as a twelve-year-old from a different time, I would have hesitated to have even mentioned that I thought a man was handsome. I would have been afraid of what it would have "sounded like." I might have thought it (in fact, I actually remember having thought it watching the movie as a kid his age), but I would have refrained from saying it.

I think it is cool that my son has a such a level of comfort with his own sexual identity (one that has been comically clear since his youngest days -- the lad has clearly loved the ladies since preschool); I think it shows an exceptional level of maturity, even in a time of apparently (though maybe exaggeratedly) shifting perceptions.

That's it. I just like when people (especially my sons) are, as they say, "comfortable in their own skins."

Monday, April 14, 2014


Sometimes, more words equal more confusion.

Sometimes, more words equal more clarity.

Sometimes, words are not meant to lead us to clarity, but to the confusion that leads us to the path toward clarity.

Sometimes we are ready to walk that path and sometimes we are not.

Sometimes a lack of readiness is own our fault, and sometimes it is not.

Either way, clarity lies there, at the end of the path. Waiting.

We will either find it, one day, or we will not -- that much is clear.

Pissarro: 1879

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Last Ship Has Finally Come In

I finally got Sting's first collection of original songs in about ten years: The Last Ship. I love it. (Don't worry -- this is not going to be a record review. I hate those.)

I haven't "loved" one of his albums in a long time -- maybe ever since 1993's Ten Summoner's Tales. My enjoyment of his work declined with every album since that one...until this one. Yet...I never got bitter.

Sting, doing a character from The Last Ship --
which will be a broadway play in September.
You know what I mean? Did you ever witness people who get downright mad when musicians they like put out albums they don't agree with or enjoy? -- as if it is a personal affront?

It is hard, granted, when one makes a personal connection with an album, not to look for that same level of identification out of everything after. Those albums become dear to us. I wouldn't be who I am today without Rush's Moving Pictures; Genesis's Seconds Out; Sting's Soul Cages and U2's Achtung Baby, just to name a (very) few. In the case of each of those artists, there have been scores of records that I disliked deeply or that I thought just didn't stand up to the "gems."  (I use only rock albums here -- it is a particular thing, the "album of songs" that cannot be compared to the mountains of other types of music I love.) But, though I might have disliked the directions these artists took, I never, as I said, got bitter. And I went right on buying their stuff.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Child Logic

A few days ago, I picked up my sons from something after school. As we were driving home, they asked me to put in the CD of a recording my friend Mark and I had just finished -- one that I posted about a few days ago.

They both like it, but my younger son (10) loves it -- wants to hear it over and over. After it played, he asked me:

"Dad, can we play this song this year while we are decorating Easter eggs?"

I told him that of course we could. Then, I wandered down the sun-flooded path of unraveling the logic of the small one. What connection, in his little head, made him say that? Is he a synaesthete like his dad? -- does the music suggest the bright colors or Easter egg dye to him? -- is he reacting to the closing section of the song with its use of the word "rise," whose phrase is lifted by choir chords and airborne strings?

Who cares? It made my throat lump up and it made my heart about seven minutes younger. And, you  know, for the first time, I am looking forward a process that I usually despise but that I smile through anyway:  dyeing Easter eggs.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Bully Society

Some people have watched the film Bully and come out of it with inspirations -- ideas about how to end this sort of horrible mistreatment of kids by other kids in American schools. Some have seen it and gone through tissues by the box and have left screenings with temporary feelings of sympathy -- or maybe even of empathy. Others, like yours truly, walked out of it in an existential tailspin.

It is a documentary that chronicles the bullying of a few young people in a few towns. There is no narrator. What we get is a series of clips, images and statements by the people involved: parents who have lost children to suicide; parents who have children who are being bullied and the children themselves, who, for whatever reason, are being tortured by their classmates.

You know what I saw? First, I saw stupid adults who are the maintainers of a system that encourages kids to categorize one another and whose actions in response to bullying were so moronic that it was all I could do to keep from clawing the cushioning off of the sides of my seat. Second, I saw kids behaving in a way that causes me to question the very worth of mankind.

I watched a principal chastise a kid who was being tortured by another. The bullied kid didn't want to "shake hands" with his tormentor (of course, the bully was all too eager to "make up" in front of the principal). The vice principal told the bullied boy: "You're just as bad as he is." This same professional educator told the parents of a bullied kid that when she, herself, rode the bus on which bullying was taking place, the kids were "good as gold." (Thought bubble above moronic principal's head: Kids are bad. I ride bus. Kids are good. Therefore, problem solved.) These are some of the people to whom we are entrusting our kids.