June 2010 Archives

The Joys of Impotence


I remember with affection, satisfaction and pleasure the sexual relationship I had with a man who, while we were together, experienced quite a bit of erectile dysfunction.

I can guess what most of you are saying now: "Huh?" or "WTF?" with an emphasis on WT, since there wasn't that much F.

But I'm serious. It was great. It was fun. There were quite a few things I liked about this relationship, the first being that the guy was a generous, curious, inventive lover, and the second being that we were forced to depart from "the script."

A Totally Cool Artist I'd Never Heard of

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I had to pick up a book at the SLC Library this morning and while I was there, partly out of envy for a friend who's currently doing the museum scene in NYC and partly on a whim, I headed up to the library's art gallery to see what was on display. I'm very glad I did, because what's there is super cool.

It's the work of Edie Roberson, who has been a Utah artist since she moved here to teach at the UofU in the 1960s. Back when I was taking poetry writing classes, a term of vague praise that got tossed around a lot was "whimsy." There is considerable whimsy in these paintings, and I absolutely dig it. I liked all of it, but I was particularly charmed by Out on a Knight Like This.

The coolest thing for me personally about this display is that I caught it in time to find out that there's a reception for the artist this Saturday at the library at 4 p.m. Before that, from 3 to 4 p.m., you can meet and talk to her. I have to go.

it's part of the SLC Arts Festival; the Tribune had a write-up of it, here.

If you're in northern Utah and you don't already have plans for the weekend, you should check this out.

The Shocking Omission in "8"

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8: The Mormon Proposition was one of the hotter draws at the 2010 Sunstone film festival this past January. I should know: I showed up at Sundance's Salt Lake City box office well before dawn one morning in the hopes of getting my hands on a day-of-show ticket, and, when that didn't work, queued for over three hours outside the Tower Theatre in the wait-list line. All I got for my efforts was extremely cold feet and a new Facebook friend.

I finally managed to see it, this past Friday, when it opened in theaters across the country. I was at the very first general admission showing in SLC.

There wasn't much about the general contours of the movie that surprised me, largely because I've been paying attention to Mormon anti-gay sentiment since the late 1970s. As a teenager I fell in love with the poetry of Frank O'Hara, and discovered to my surprise that no matter how I worked at it, I really couldn't bring myself to care who he slept with. That was when I started to think that homophobia was just plain weird, and found myself puzzled when others expressed it.

Some of the details of the movie, however, were shocking, and much of it was upsetting--I admit I cried a lot. (I wasn't the only one crying, though.) But the most shocking thing about the whole story is, I think, something the movie misses.

I've got a piece up at Religion Dispatches discussing this shocking omission. I'm not going to link to it, because as I've said, my blog is semi-anonymous, meaning I don't link to my last name. But I hope you'll head on over to RD and check out my essay. It should be easy to find: it's currently the lead story. (Go me!)

this upset me so much that I had to stop it twice and put my head between my knees.

Watch this. Pay attention to this. The oil from the leak could coat the entire east seaboard--and then reach the beaches of Europe.

Dirty Little Secret (Or, Intimacy vs. Loyalty)

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You remember back in April when I wrote about an online forum devoted to helping people deal with the challenges of living their lives in a closet? One discussion in this group involved people remarking with wonder and astonishment that when they finally "came out" to their spouses, even though it was really, really hard, especially in the immediate aftermath, eventually it brought a new level of closeness to the marriage--sometimes it even improved their sex lives! (This at least in the cases where incompatible sexual orientations weren't an issue.)

I didn't comment, but I wanted to shout, "You mean that when you finally began to be emotionally intimate with your partner, the intimacy in your marriage increased? You mean that when you finally stopped lying and withholding, both of you felt more trust and were better able to share what really mattered? You mean that when you became a more authentic person, your relationships were more authentic as well?"

I couldn't see how these people couldn't see that refusing to be intimate with one's partner would damage the intimacy of the partnership. But over the weekend I happened to pick up Fascinating Womanhood again, and read this:

When you see the sensitivity of a man's nature, you know how careful you must be in conversation. You cannot permit yourself to have an unbridled tongue and say anything you please. You cannot pour out your heart to him as you would to a a mentor. you must withhold feelings and confessions which would wound his sensitive pride. (183)

The Darkness Behind the Paintings of Light

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OK,first a correction: I assumed, because of his popularity in Utah and his horrible aesthetic, that the so-called painter Thomas Kincade was Mormon. He's not. He belonged to the Church of the Nazarene. My bad.

Second, turns out he's a complete asshat: mean, crazy and prone to substance abuse! We're talking someone who peed on a Winnie-the-Pooh statue in Anaheim and then declared, "This one's for you, Walt."

When I posted the link to the Salon story on Facebook, one of my friends provided a link to this site spoofing Kincade's work. It's all pretty great, but you must check out the third one down on page 7. The closest I've been to ROFLMAO in a long, long time was after I saw that.

It's just so nice to see this guy, the Ayn Rand of painting (meaning, ridiculously popular despite the fact that they're soulless hacks who produce nothing but the most revolting crap, both ideologically and aesthetically speaking), getting the sort of attention he deserves.



I recently came across an email address that announced its owner's religious rigidity and intolerance. Of course the person has the right to have such an email address, but they are active in the world of interfaith community building and use it to conduct intellectual business--even with people who do not share their beliefs.

Imagine getting a message from someone who claims to respect intellectual inquiry, verifiable evidence, academic freedom and scientific consensus, but has the email address sciencehatingredneck@yahoo.com? Or someone who claims to care about gender and sexual equality but has the email address feministandfaghater@gmail.com? Or someone who worked for understanding between races but had the email address nazisympthizer@hotmail.com?

OK, it's possible if not probable that any such address is a joke, designed to express not how the bearer sees him/herself but how s/he is seen by others. But would that make it a funny joke? Or one that's likely to help the person's cause of building bridges across different belief systems and intellectual approaches?

It's one thing to write a blog entry or comment joking about the worst way you might be seen by others. But to use it as a way of introducing and identifying yourself in the world at large? When there are so many other choices out there, like my.name@gmail.com? Or myinitialsplussomenumbers@hotmail.com?

Your Own Personal Jesus?


Remember a month or so ago when I wrote about awful, horrible kitschy Mormon art? Well, via Salt Lake City Weekly, I discovered a type of Mormon, erm, visual image (I dare not call it art) that makes all that stuff look downright classy.

blog3740nal.jpgThat's right: a painting of YOU with your own personal Jesus.

I hardly know where to start.

On Facebook I posted a link to the City Weekly piece, but I didn't bother to click on the link to Kay Paintings, the studio responsible for these images--some impulse of self-preservation stopped me, I guess. But a friend clicked through, and pointed out that the studio had certainly figured out something important about making money in Utah: the more children you want in the picture, the more it costs. (I love the line at the bottom about "For 11+ children please call for a quote.")

I figured if my friend checked out the website and could still produce coherent prose afterward, I should be OK, so I screwed up my courage and clicked through to the gallery. At which point I began a low, pained chant of "oh my god, oh my god" as my horror mounted.

Who's Your Daddy?


Well, this is interesting: the NY Times reports on Studies Showing Jews' Genetic Similarity. There is so much shared genetic material among Jews that "members of any Jewish community are related to one another as closely as are fourth or fifth cousins in a large population, which is about 10 times higher than the relationship between two people chosen at random off the streets of New York City."

Not only can the geneticists who conducted the studies determine how closely the various communities are related, they have also

developed a way of timing demographic events from the genetic elements shared by different Jewish communities. Their calculations show that Iraqi and Iranian Jews separated from other Jewish communities about 2,500 years ago. This genetic finding presumably reflects a historical event, the destruction of the First Temple at Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C. and the exile of many Jews there to his capital at Babylon.

Why am I writing about this, given that I'm neither a geneticist nor Jewish? Because the Book of Mormon claims that Native Americans (or, in Mormonspeak, the "Lamanites") are descendants of Jews who left Jerusalem in 600 BC shortly before the destruction of the temple, traveled to the sea, then got on boats and sailed to the American continents. (Where they arrived is shrouded in mystery; where they ended up is, in Mormon belief, uncontested: upstate New York. 'Cause that's where the golden plates the BOM is translated from were buried.) And accepting the Book of Mormon as a factual document written by those errant Jews detailing their history is a linchpin of Mormon belief and orthodoxy.

The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) is always trying to find scientific or geographic or whatever kind of evidence to "prove" that the Book of Mormon is what Joseph Smith said it was, and not just something he made up. Well, if they really think the people living in North and/or South America when Columbus showed up are another offshoot of the children of Israel, they should commission a study adding Native Americans to the mix, to see how genetically close they are to these other communities.

But they won't, because they don't really believe it--they just know it, which is not the same thing. And when there is irrefutable proof that the indigenous (insofar as one can be indigenous of any continent but Africa, which is where we all came from originally) people of the Americas are not actually related to Jews any more closely than they're related to, say, Celts or Gauls or Romans, they'll find some way to dismiss it, and to say that all the logical, scientific evidence in the world is trumped by their emotional reactions to Mormonism, aka "personal revelation," which "proves" to them that everything they already believe is true.

Double Double

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this is fucking genius, and interesting for so many reasons, including Ramirez's embodiment of gender duality, and the way everyone is so bilingual that they can all switch languages in mid-sentence.


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