Saturday, August 26, 2006

KS Flag Update

As many of you know, Trouble is leaving for the next 5 months, so I'm trying to spend the weekend as best as we can before the big D. Since she's in the middle of her own things right now, I'm taking a moment to fill you all in on an update from the Meade, KS situation. There was a little blurb in a local KC publication (not online unfortunately) that had a story about the rainbow flag from the bed and breakfast in Meade (see 2 posts ago) that had gotten stolen. Apparently a couple of school kids took the offending flag, but their parents made them confess and apologize and agree to replace it. Unfortunately, around the same time that the flag was stolen, a window was broken at the inn (a brick with the word "fag" on it was thrown through it). Nobody has confessed to that part of the crime and that's the one that costs the most money. "Proud to be an American" my butt. Right now I'm ready to move to Canada.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

To buy or not to buy...

I recently saw RENT out at Starlight Theater here in Kansas City. I absolutely love this show (I've seen it before, own the soundtrack and saw the movie, although it wasn't the same) and recommend it to anyone. It's basically a modern retelling of the plot from La Boheme. For you non-opera folks, it's about a group of friends living in the East Village of NYC in the early 90's. They're artists and "fringe" personalties trying to figure out how to survive, namely pay their rent. The music is a little more rock and roll than your usual Broadway musical, but it's also very moving. AIDS plays a big part of the story line, as does sexuality, relationships in general and figuring out what is really important versus what society tells us is important. I've listened to the soundtrack a thousand times (no exaggeration) and for some reason something struck me this time that I hadn't really caught before. Near the end of the show is a song entitled "What you Own" in which two of the main characters talk about their personal struggles with the direction their lives have taken. One of them has "sold out," giving up on his own film making to be a director for a sleazy tv show. The words to the song that grabbed me
Your living in America at the end of the millenium
Your living in America, leave your conscience at the tone
And when you're living in America at the end of the millenium
You're what you own

Now, the concept of consumerism and "buy, buy, buy" mentality isn't new - and I've even touched on the subject in my blog before, but this is different. I'm thinking about buying a house in the next year or two, and for some reason this time watching the show made me wonder if that's a good idea. These characters don't own much of anything in the show - not even their emotions (which is another line in the song) - and I constantly struggle with discerning where the line is between survival and extravagance in how much I own. I have food to eat and a roof over my head, but I'm renting my house. There's nothing wrong with that, but I feel like owning my own home will somehow mark success in my life. Why is this the thing that means I "made it" and am now a responsible grown up? Do you think this is just me or is this a common idea in our society? Is it meaningful or just another mark of consumerism? Should I pursue home ownership or just keep renting? The thoughts continue to tumble...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Standing Ground in Kansas

I got a link to this story in one of my email newsletters and thought it was just too funny (and disturbing) not to share. There are actually two versions of the story - one from a local news channel and one on PlanetOut. Feel free to click on the links and read them for yourselves.

In summary, the story is about a guy and his wife who run a small restaurant and Bed & Breakfast in Meade, KS (between Dodge City and Liberal) and the fallout they're facing for hanging a rainbow flag outside their establishment. The local newspaper ran a story (without talking to them about it first) explaining to people that the flag is a symbol of gay pride, so now the town is boycotting. He had a radio station threaten to pull his ads from the air and a pastor tell him it was like putting a pair of women's underwear on a pole - huh?!?!?!

What makes this story so funny is that the flag wasn't put up to convey any kind of political or social message. It was a gift from the guy's son who got it at the Wizard of Oz museum because it reminded him of the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I don't know how old the son is, and if there weren't other meanings in the gift, but I think it's hilarious that something that could be so benign is causing so much of a ruckus. Ah, small town America. The other funny thing is the way in which this guy is responding. He told the pastor he would consider his suggestion (the women's underpants) and has told people that when this flag wears out, he'll buy another one and continue to replace it like he would his American flag (which is also hung proudly outside the building). He can't believe how much this has affected people and refuses to cave in to their overreactions. Good for him!!

I think the one comment that got me the most was one of the neighbors who said (paraphrased) that hanging the rainbow flag in their conservative town was like hanging the Nazi flag in a Jewish neighborhood. Whoa. I have to think about that. This is America and we all have freedom of speech, so the guy can say whatever he wants, but is it really THAT dramatic?! Most of the townspeople didn't seem to know what the flag meant (or could mean to some people) before the newspaper article. It makes me wonder what will happen when someone in the town comes out of the closet - or if that will ever happen now. Anyway, it sounds like the guy's business has lost a lot of local people but is still doing okay thanks to out of town guests. Perhaps someday we'll take a mini-vacation to Meade, KS....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ft. Lauderdale pictures

Well, since these didn't make it into the previous post, here are some of our pics from Florida.

This was the sunrise on our first morning - we watched it all from our hotel room balcony!

This is the view of the hotel grounds from our balcony. It's a private beach for hotel guests with their own rentals for all kinds of beach equipment. We didn't try anything more adventurous (or expensive) than the boogie boards.

My Uncle Tony (my dad's older brother) "singing" at my grandmother's party. It was not pretty.

Photographic evidence of the cake tester's swipe from my grandmother's cake. I just don't believe some people!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"They say America's got talent.... but it sure ain't here!"

Well, we just had an incredible weekend. I don't mean to rub it in (well, maybe a little bit) but we went to Fort Lauderdale. My grandmother lives down there and was celebrating her 90th birthday last week so the family decided we would all go see her and throw her a party. Of course, this was also our big vacation of the summer (even if it was only for a weekend) so we were staying in a nice hotel on the beach - absolutely gorgeous!! (see picture) We had an ocean view, looking out over the courtyard around the pool, and spent as much time as we could out on the beach. I miss the ocean - there's something spiritual about it for me with the waves and vastness of all that water supporting all that life.

Anyway, Grandma's party was the most interesting part of the weekend - she had said she didn't want one at all and then once we said we wanted to do it, she tried to take over. Gotta love family. She ate up all the attention while we struggled to have conversations with people we didn't know and will likely never see again. It was great to see my relatives - many of them I hadn't seen since my dad's funeral almost 5 years ago - but the strange thing about family (at least mine) is that the relationships seem to work better via long distance. It's like we don't know what to do when we're actually all with each other. Anyway, there were a lot of gifts, much to my grandmother's joy. We girls from the family all pitched in and took her to a spa to get her a massage (a first for her) and pedicure the day before. She probably won't ever do the spa thing again - she admitted she's never go by herself, but I think she had fun in spite of her misgivings about getting undressed and touched by a man. :) Aside from watching my grandmother, there were a couple of significantly funny things from the party.

First, was the cake taster. This one guy was trying to be coy while admiring the cake, but was caught swiping a big piece of frosting off of the cake!! I took a picture and we couldn't believe how big a chuck he took - not even off the corner where it might not be so noticeable!! We took it as a sign that it was time to serve the cake, and moved on to do just that.

Then there was the sing-along. Someone (probably my grandmother, but I don't really know who) compiled a song sheet of about 25 songs from the 30's-ish era. I didn't know most of them, but most of the crowd was older and seemed to enjoy the trip down memory lane - if only of them could sing!! There was a woman with a microphone trying to lead it, but she was horrible - and the people sitting around the room had no qualms about saying anything about it. She then tried to put the mic up to other people as they were singing (such as my Uncle in the picture), but for some reason there was a great shortage of people who could actually find a pitch and rhythm at the same time. Several relatives tried to get me to take over, but I didn't even know the songs so what could I do? An older woman sitting behind me was cracking me up with her commentary on the party in general when I heard her say the line which has now become the title of this post. "They say America's got talent, but it sure ain't here!" I did end up on the mic when they sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and a couple of people thanked me, which I thought was interesting.

Other than the party and going out to dinner, our weekend was spent at the hotel and airports. We tried boogie boarding from the hotel beach rentals (a first for me and A LOT of fun, as you can see in the pics), swam in the pool, sat in the sauna and hot tub, and had breakfast on our sundeck off the hotel room. The hotel room scenario itself was interesting, but now isn't the time to get into it. We had a great time, got sun, watched the sunrise both mornings we were there, and got to spend some good time with my mom and each other before everything changes at the end of the month. Hope you like the pictures...

P.S. I'm having a hard time with the pictures, but this post has been sitting for 2 days, so I'm just posting the text and will get the pictures up ASAP. In the meantime, thanks for the great discussion on my previous post!