Thursday, September 28, 2006

Elton John alter call?

One of the thoughts that hit me during Sunday night's concert was how much it reminded me of the evangelical/pentacostal worship services I used to attend during my crazy holy roller days ten years ago -- especially when Sir Elton broke into his soulful extemporaneous singing (tongues?). Like any worship service, there were moments that the arena was singing a familiar song and the event was intended to provoke a musical (or spiritual?) experience. And there was an alter call-like moment before the encore when the standing crowd before the stage was allowed to seek His autograph (and blessing?).

I haven't been to any rock concerts recently. In fact, I think the last arena concerts I attended were a Christian concert, Newsboys with Jars of Clay (I think), and Live in the mid-1990s. I assume similar experiences can be had at other concerts. I'll know next week when I go to a rock concert, Muse, for my sister's birthday.

Rock music's heritage can probably be traced to American Christian worship music. I think "secular" rock is a little more genuine to me than contemporary worship music -- especially in light of the profitable contemporary Christian music industry. This is my own bias, but worship music in pentacostal/evangelical services is too manipulative. Instead of enjoying the music for its own sake, there's an assertion that a spiritual moment or God connection is taking place and that the music is merely part of the setting -- rather than acknowledging the fact that the music is provoking the feeling. This is especially apparent when a worship service's music fails to connect with worshippers (Is the Holy Spirit not present or are the musicians just simply having a bad day?).

I do have to admit that I sometimes miss some of the more manipulative contemporary Christian worship music since I've attended liberal churches (MCC, UU, UCC) for the last ten years. While I do enjoy the music these churches use from The New Century Hymnal, hymns just are not as blantantly, emotion-provoking as contemporary worship music. It may be because "liberal" churches are more analytical and careful about their beliefs and don't have an evangelical motive to market their beliefs to unbelievers. While I'm sure there are many (if not most?) commercial/professional musicians who share common beliefs as liberal faiths, they don't feel the need to brand their music or market it to liberal believers.

I'm not sure what the point of this post is or if there is a point. I'm not a musician, music expert or even a daily music listener. I guess the concert just made me reminiscence about old times. Not sure if it would qualify as reminiscencing about good times or bad times. In fact, I feel a little embarrassed to think I tried to be a pentacostal, hand-waving, Bible-thumping Christian. I one observation I have is that there doesn't seem to be an equivalent version on the liberal end of the fundamentalist-liberal religious spectrum. However, I can find some similar spiritual/meaningful experience within what fundamentalist Christians would describe as "secular" music.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Elton John!!!

Elton John Concert

Just got back from Elton John's concert at the Rose Garden. It was terrific! I was a little concerned that he would pull a diva and have a long opening act and a short 40-minute concert. But there was no opening act. He just came out started playing almost three hours worth of songs. He did all the favorites and a couple from his new album, The Captain and The Kid, which I got yesterday. He ended with Bitch and after he milked the encore ovation by signing autographs he closed with Don't Let the Sun Go Down(?) and he dedicated Your Song to us (although I didn't hear him say "Portland", so he may not have known what city he was in). Either way, it was an incredible concert.

Scott was a great sport. I know he's not a fan of pop music, but he accompanied me anyway. He was happy the only song he familiar with Your Song was finally played.

We ran into his co-workers at the concert who seemed to have reluctantly got free tickets through work -- whereas I excitedly paid for mine months ago (like the old queen I'm becoming).

Also, Tammam texted me and said he was there too. He didn't mention that he was going when we mentioned during brunch today, so I assume he got tickets from someone.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

McBreakfast All Day? / Coffee People sells out, again

Although I may have to turn in my WalMart-hating, blue state, gay, liberal/progressive Democrat credentials, I will admit that I do like Egg McMuffins. However, McDonald's only serves breakfast in the morning which doesn't fit into my usual breakfast at 1:00 PM weekend schedule. However, according to Fox"News", McDs may actually give-in to customer demands and serve breakfast all day. Unfortunately, McDonald's corporate-speak is about as appetizing as nawing on a circuit board:

Speaking at the Bank of America 36th Annual Investment Conference in San Francisco, McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner said the company was implementing a new restaurant operating system that would finally make selling breakfast all day possible.

"It's not compatible with our current operating system," Skinner said about offering its breakfast menu all day. "But with this system, that could be possible."

The so-called flexible operating platform will make McDonald's food preparation processes more transparent to customers and "offer more variety with greater ease," Skinner said.

"Restaurant operating system"? Mmm-mmm good! Now, if only they can do something about the excessive calories and indigestion their operating system produces.

(Hat tip:

Coffee People Sells Out to Starbucks

In what was inevitable, Coffee People has finally sold out to Starbucks. In the 90s, I was a loyal Coffee People customer. Coffee People tried to distinguish itself from Starbucks by promising to keep its pricing lower than the 'other big espresso shops' and discouraging use of the ridiculous venti, grande, tall terminology. The Coffee People I frequented was decorated with large photos of bean farmers and promoted its social responsibility long before Starbucks was forced to answer such criticism.

In 1999, the couple that founded and operated Coffee People sold it to an out-of-state corporation, Diedrich Coffee. The hope was that Coffee People could retain its identity and survive by merging with the second largest coffee chain. However, Coffee People seemed to struggle since the 90s. The memorable stores at Lloyd Center, NW 23rd, and Hawthorne have all since closed, so it was inevitable that Starbucks would swoop in and finish the job.

Not that I think Starbucks is a horrible company. In fact, it deserves credit for leading the espresso trend (lifestyle?) and although it's still a corporation -- it could be much worse. What I dislike about Starbucks is its tactics of targeting local stores and it's limited menu. No, I won't forgive Starbucks for closing my favorite ma and pa breakfast/lunch counter and or taking Irish Creme syrup off their menu. But I will probably go in and order my usual 16 ounce, non-fat, Irish latte. Why? Because I'm a consumer whore like everyone else.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

TDS: Tangled Up In Bleu

Hilarious segment from last night's The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Anti-gay activist/Family "Research" Institute chairman Dr. Paul Cameron fails miserably in defending the US military's anti-gay policy. Humor aside, TDS once again exposes ridiculous conservative, right-wing ideology that even undermines the nation's security.

YouTube upload by Good As You. Official version available at Comedy Central's Motherload.

Favorite line:

Jason Jones, TDS Correspondent: "I know I would rather die in a terrorist attack than suffer through an uncomfortable shower with a gay. Know what I'm saying?"

Dr. Cameron: (speechless) "Yes."

(Hat tip: ExGay Watch)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

R.I.P. Petrie 1991? ~ 2006


Petrie, the cat that received most of my family's public displays of affection, passed-away tonight at the vet's office. It felt awful and surreal for ma, Scott, and me to make that trip tonight, but we felt it was right time.

We'll miss you, Petrie. I hope you'll forgive me for unknowningly giving you a ride in the clothes dryer when you were a kitten. You'll always be a princess.

Blogger Beta

I switched to Blogger beta last night. The main feature I was looking for, labeling/tags, is finally built into the new Blogger. I labeled about half my posts last night. I also need to re-enter my links and now I can put up my RSS feeds.

09/12/2006 update: I labeled all the posts, but still debating whether I should add some more labels. It's a bit tricky balancing between too broad and too specific. I'm thinking about adding a "religious right" label, but pretty much all the "ex-gay" posts would fall into that. There were a few posts that really didn't fall into into anything, so I just added them to Portland and/or blog.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Mt. Angel and St. Paul, OR

Scott having one of his beautiful buildings picture orgasms in front of St. Mary Parish in Mt. Angel
Scott desecrating graves at Mt. Angel cemetary (haha).
Political grave marker at Mt. Angel cemetary: "In loving memory of all the precious babies lost through abortions". Are those aborted lambs?
Scott taking even more church pictures this time in front of St. Paul Church.

What was originally intended to be trip hiking trip at Silver Falls turned into a tour of two small Oregon towns with Catholic church beginnings.

The St. Mary Parish in Mt. Angel was very impressive. Although Mt. Angel strives to maintain a German village image, it is interesting that much of the town is Latino. Even the church's sign welcomes worshippers in English, German, and Spanish.

Since we ended up on a church photo binge, we drove the 20 miles west to St. Paul which is even smaller. The St. Paul Church is perfectly aligned at the center of town in a meticulous kept park setting.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Banks-Vernonia State Trail

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Scott and I loaded the bikes and drove out to Vernonia, OR, today. Finding the beginning of the trailhead in Vernonia was really tricky. We did not find any signs or a designated parking area. We used the directions from the brochure we downloaded from the state's website. However, the directions were not very detailed.

Only the first seven miles of the Banks-Vernonia State Trail from Vernonia are paved, but the 14 miles round trip was plenty. The trail is on a former railway so there were no steep hills. As seen from the photo, the trail cuts through some beautiful wooded areas.

It's a really good first ride trail. However, I'm really out of shape. A grey-haired, retired couple kicked our butts.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

AICN has Star Trek: SE promotional clip

Merrick at Ain't It Cool News has a clip from the new Star Trek: Special Edition remastered episodes. ST:SE will replace the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes that are still in syndication. I wonder if G4 will still run its Star Trek episodes?

The clip appears to be promotional footage which compares the quality of the old versions versus the new HD, remastered versions. The SE footage is much clearer. One thing that I noticed right away was the greasy make-up technique. Apparently in the 1960s, Shatner's shiny face was suppose to look healthy.

Apparently last week's announcement was a such well-kept secret because Paramount only recently made the decision to remaster the episodes. Merrick previously reported that Viacom/Paramount/CBS is using their in-house CG department to remaster the episodes. Now, there are concerns how can the studio keep up the one episode per week pace and whether the quality will be sacrificed. Although everyone understands this is business decision, you think they would be careful not to screw-up the series that's given them 40 years of re-run income.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Blackmer's pathetic spin on the loss of taxpayer's money

OPB reported this morning yesterday* that the City of Portland has finally located Emilie Boyles who stole -- er, illegally used taxpayer funds in the City's poorly conceived voter-owned election cash give away. Not surprisingly, Boyles moved out of state and owes the city 92 THOUSAND dollars -- which is probably a greater amount than what is gained through most armed robberies.

The City's elected auditor, Gary Blackmer, bares some responsibility for crafting, advocating, and overseeing our VOE cash give away system. Now he is responsible for getting the money back and is trying to positively spin the loss of taxpayer cash. According to's report, Blackmer said:

We are hoping that she can get a good job somewhere and start earning some money and pay us back. We wish her good luck where she's living now and hope that she will remember Portland when she starts getting money in a paycheck.

"We wish her good luck"?!? Uh, she stole the City's money and made you look like a fool.

According to previous reports, Boyles has no high value assets and probably has no chance of landing a well-paying job. Also, her new non-disclosed home state may have a paycheck garnishment cap. So, realistically the City will not get a significant portion of the money back in Boyles' lifetime and taxpayers will be called upon to cover the loss. As the City's auditor, one would think he would be more honest about the chances of the City ever seeing its money again.

* I first heard the report during this morning's news radio broadcast, but their website dated the story yesterday.

Apparently I was irritated when I wrote this. I underlined corrections.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Battlestar Galactica 3.X news

Ain't It Cool News posted some season 3 spoilers yesterday. Actually, the author Hercules was careful not to give away too much information and kept most of the specific details vague.

I know it's child-ish, but I can hardly wait for the new season!


I just saw the first of ten webisodes on Battlestar Galactica website. This is such a great, original idea and a real gift to fans.

Previously, I thought these webisodes were set during the one year jump of the second season finale. However, today's websides is set a short time after the season 2 finale. So, it's like a mini-premiere.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Tanya Erzen's Straight To Jesus

As I mentioned previously, I finished Tanya Erzen's book, Straight To Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-gay Movement, last week. This is the second recent book on the ex-gay movement I've read in the last few years. The other, Wayne Besen's 2003 book, Anything But Straight, was written from a critical activist's perspective and focused on the many ex-gay scandals. Erzen takes a more ethnographic approach that tries to understand ex-gays' perspectives. She spent over a year studying Frank and Anita Worthen's New Hope ministry, its 15 live-in male participants during 2000 and 2001, and the 2000 Exodus International conference.

Here are a few of the interesting and entertaining things I learned from Erzen's book:

  • New Hope drop-outs and drama: Ex-gay ministries rarely release statistics or discuss success rates. So it is very unusual for New Hope to allow Erzen the ability to personally witness the progress of their live-in participants and interview past participants. Seven participants did not make it through the program [page 217] who either voluntarily left or were asked to leave after confessing some violation. I don't believe the book explained all of the departures, but I may have lost track of all the people Erzen named.

    In addition, "Curtis" the youngest participant and frequent subject in the book purposely overdosed on Vicodin so he could be hospitalized and temporarily get out of the program. He claimed it was not a suicide attempt [page 102] and did complete the program; however, Erzen reveals early in the book that he accepted his gay identify after leaving the program.

    Disturbingly, another participant and leader in training, "Paul", was found dead in his hotel room while on a business trip. Paul was a former drug user who followed his ex into New Hope. While Frank and Anita Worthen claimed his death was caused by a heart attack, there was no autopsy. Erzen seemed frustrated by the lack of details regarding Paul's death and puzzled by New Hope's muted reaction. [Pages 123-124]

  • F.A.G.: Exodus International was originally named Free All Gays but "was quickly scrapped after the organizers realized the potential contradictions of its acronym" [page 33]. I have a hard time believing this, but Erzen doesn't seem to be joking. (This too-good-to-be-true naming mistake reminds me of the Film Actors Guild in the movie Team America).

  • "Lots of Action": Frank Worthen admits that Love In Action and Exodus experienced many sexual scandals in the 1970s and 1980s. He even joked that LIA meant "Lots of Action" [page 27]. Erzen does mention many of the early ex-gay scandals such as Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper's affair [pages 34-35]. She also notes that there were media reports claiming men that promoted ex-gay change "had sex with each other at night during Exodus conferences" [page 163]. Erzen questions Worthen about Exodus' early problems: "Frank [Worthen] was vague and uncomfortable talking about this period in Exodus's history. 'We had a terrible time the first few years. One of the reasons I wanted Exodus to become an organization was because I wanted to set a standard of ethics for that kind of ministry. Most of the people were in it for their own needs. They were lonely, they felt guilty and stayed on the fence and started ministries that should never have been started. We had a terrible time--a terrible time, initially'." [page 35]

  • Smid Abruptly Moved LIA: In 1994, while Worthen was building ex-gay ministries outside of the country, Smid abruptly relocated the ex-gay ministry Worthen founded, Love In Action, from San Rafael, CA, to Memphis, TN. Worthen returned to the U.S. and continued the San Rafael ex-gay ministry under the New Hope name. Understandably, Worthen and Smid's relationship was strained after the split [page 38-40]. Now, as LIA's current executive director, Smid is infamous for another heavy-handed tactic: forcing gay teens into ex-gay programs like Zack Stark [page 50].

  • Worthen Was LIA's Landlord: In re-counting LIA's abrupt 1994 relocation, Erzen explains that Frank Worthen personally owned the LIA live-in program properties and lived off the rents. Erzen doesn't explore this unusual arrangement or how Worthen came to own the apartment complexes. While Worthen stresses the importance for ex-gay ministries to have oversight and standards, it's hard to believe any nonprofit or church board of directors would allow an organization's executive to also act as its landlord. This could be a contributing factor to Smid's decision to relocate LIA out of Worthen's control. [pages 38-39]

  • Spitzer Admitted to Skewing 2001 Study: Erzen met Dr. Robert Spitzer in 2000 while he was working on his 2001 study of ex-gays. She recounts: "Over lunch, he had admitted to experiencing difficulties in finding respondents for his study, and he had warned ex-gay leaders that if they did not refer more people, he would be unable to write a positive study for them" [page 130, bold added]. Erzen also echoes many of the criticisms raised about the study's methodology such as: "Inevitably, Exodus had sent him the names of men and women who direct ministries, which raised questions about how people represent themselves if they feel a responsibility to legitimate the ex-gay movement" [page 131]. While I've heard (and expressed criticism) about Spitzer's study's methodology, bias, and significance, this is the first I've heard Spitzer blatantly admit to fixing his own study's outcome.

  • Spitzer's view on homosexuality: While she acknowledges Spitzer's leadership role in removing homosexuality from the DSM in 1973 and his support of gay civil rights, he also did not believe that homosexuality was normal and called it "suboptimal" [page 142] even after the landmark DSM decision.

  • "homodysphilia" and "dyshomophilia": Spitzer coined a new term that would seem to describe "ex-gays": "In 1975 Spitzer developed another term, 'homodysphilia', that applied to homosexuals who were distressed by their sexual orientation . . ." [page 142]. Spitzer later changed the term to dyshomophilia "lumping it with fetishism, zoophilia, pedophilia, voyeurism, and sexual sadism" [page 142]. I'm surprised the Religious Right and Exodus have not yet adopted these terms. Since no one on either side of the pro-gay/anti-gay debate seems to really think "ex-gay" is an accurate term, homodysphilia or dyshomophilia would seem to solve some terminology issues.

While Erzen does mention many ex-gay scandals that have occurred since the ex-gay movement's origins in the 1970s, these are not the book's main focus. So if you're seeking a book about ex-gay scandals, you may be little disappointed. Rather, the book tries to convey what it is like to be in an 24/7 ex-gay ministry, and the history, psychology, religion, and politics surrounding the ex-gay movement.

The book did remind me of my own ex-gay experience and provides a glimpse into the internal conflicts of ex-gay life. The ex-gay lifestyle is certainly confusing, frustrating and humiliating while at the same time there are spiritual moments and camaraderie. I certainly empathizedd with the participants described in the book and Erzen seemed to as well.

As an ex-exgay, I admit my own bias against the ex-gay movement. So, I was a little frustrated by Erzen's seemingly objective approach. That's not to say the book was naive or did not question ex-gay claims and methods, but it didn't demand answers to the questions I would have asked. Overall, though, I think this book provides probably one of the most objective and accurate views inside the ex-gay movement.