Thursday, December 28, 2006

Prez Ford: pro-gay

My first reaction to the death of Gerald Ford was the recognition that he was my "birth president" -- he was president when I was born. Of course, I was too young to remember anything about his era. I do remember learning that he was president (at the time of my birth) when I was in elementary school and wondering who he was since he was sandwiched between better known presidents.

Most of the rememberances I've seen or heard this week attribute his lost election to his pardoning of Nixon. In fact, Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski seemed to almost lament Ford's loss in a report I heard on OPB yesterday:

". . . Kulongoski says history will judge Ford better than voters did in 1976. They blocked him from serving a full term as president.

Kulongoski says Americans chose Jimmy Carter because of Ford's treatment of Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal.

Ted Kulongoski: "And I, probably like a lot of people, I think he lost his election against Carter, because of the pardon. But he did what he thought was best for the people of this country and in the best interests of America, and I don't think there's anybody around today who thinks he made the wrong decision."

While I wasn't politically aware then, I suspect that I probably would have voted the same way (if only one year olds could vote). While I understand Ford's reasons for pardoning Nixon, it was the wrong decision. Nixon should have been held criminally responsible like any other citizen.

I admit that I tend to be shallow and immediately wonder what a politician's gay rights views are before forming an opinion about them. So, I was surprised to hear that Ford joined the advisory board of the Republican Unity Coalition*, a gay-straight organization. While I couldn't find a quote regarding gay marriage or his opinion of the anti-gay constitutional amendment, Ford did support gay couples receiving the same economic benefits of straight married couples. According to

". . . When asked by Price if gay couples should receive the same economic benefits as married couples, such as Social Security and tax deductions, Ford said, 'I don’t see why they shouldn’t. I think that’s a proper goal . . . I think they ought to be treated equally. Period.'. . ."

(Hat tip:
* Isn't it disturbing that groups within the GOP have to strive to unite the party? How can their party unite the nation if they can't unite themselves?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

ancient Portland (well, mid-1900s)

Jack Bog had a link today to Dan Haneckow's blog, cafe unknown, which has several entries about old Portland. The latest entry, December 4, is about the helicopter Oregon's former alternative daily newspaper, The Oregon Journal, had in 1947. Real interesting pictures. I won't steal Haneckow's images, so visit his blog to see these great ariel photos of 1947 Portland.

(Hat tip: Jack Bog's blog)

totally inappropriate sex videoclip. totally politically accurate. totally hilarious.

Here's a sex clip that was posted on John Aravosis' AMERICAblog. As John said: "It's funny, political, and not even close to work safe. . . ."

Couple roleplays the political way

It graphically represents my thoughts of Bush Jr. and Republicans are doing to the nation.

(Hat tip:

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas 2006

St. Andrew Catholic Church (Picture NOT taken on rainy, gray Christmas Day.)
Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

After all of the shopping rush, wrapping, and planning, Christmas was a good day to relax. I shouldn't make the preparation sound like a burden or hassle. It really wasn't -- I just like to complain. The whole weekend was without incident.

Christmas Eve

Last night, Scott, "Tim", and I exchanged presents at Tim's house and then headed over to St. Andrew Catholic Church for Christmas Eve mass. None of us are Catholic, but we do like a good Christmas Eve church service. It's a tradition I've had with Tim for several years now. In fact, in prior years we've developed a church curcuit "crashing" two to three Christmas Eve services, but we limited ourselves to one this year.

I admit that the liturgy and Eucharist of Catholic services fascinate me -- especially since I was raised in fundamentalist/evangelical churches that disdain "High Church". However, to me, it feels appropriate to acknowledge the history of Christianity on Christmas Eve by attending a more ancient ceremony. I also have to admit that Catholic Christmas Eve services are just more interesting and, yes entertaining, than most protestant services.

I feel a little guilty about "crashing" another community's religious celebration. While I know most churches welcome visitors, I truly have no intention of converting to Catholicism. In fact, I strongly object to the Roman Catholic church's opposition to same-sex relationships (obviously), discrimination against women in the priesthood, its celibacy requirement for its clergy, its opposition to birth control/condoms/abortion, its archaic top-down organization system, and its current/prior handling of its child sex abuse scandals. However, if I were to convert, I think St. Andrew would be the church I would join. This is the second Christmas Eve service we've attended there and the community is always very warm and welcoming. The service emphasized the celebration of Christ's birth with dancers (who we fondly call the Solid Gold Incense Dancers), banners, and upbeat songs. St. Andrew just seems like everything I would want a church to be.

Christmas Day

Today, Scott, ma, sis and I met at Aunt Jean's before having dinner at McMenamins Edgefield's Black Rabbit Restaurant. Dinner was great -- although I wished they had turkey on their menu, but the prime rib was very filling. After dinner, we played three rounds of the movie trivia game Scene-It in which Scott mercilessly defeated all of us in.

Overall, it was a great day.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Richard Cizik evangelical environmentalism / gay scandal

Yesterday, Fresh Air broadcast Terry Gross' interview with Reverend Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals about his attempts to have evangelicals recognize global warming. Cizik seems to be one of the more reasonable evangelical leaders. While he and the NAE are anti-women's abortion rights and anti-gay marriage, he is leading an effort to fight global warming. Since conservative Christians wield quite a bit of power in 'merica, it's good to know that there are a few leaders who are trying to steer conservatives on a more reasonable path.

As a conservative Christian lobbyist and relatively recent (2002) global warming convert, he understands the precarious nature of his position. One of Terry's first questions was about the Evangelical Climate Initiative statement that he personally promoted. In January, some prominent conservative Christian leaders, including James Dobson, forced Cizik to remove his signature from the statement and asked the NAE to not take a position on global warming ( In the Fresh Air interview, Cizik hinted that several conservative Christian leaders have since changed their minds about global warming, but he did not name anyone specifically. (He also mentioned that Pat Robertson unexpectedly changed his mind about global warming.) Cizik said he disagreed with the NAE's decision, but agreed to remove his name. It seems Cizik understands that he can be more effective within the NAE and is willing to make compromises, but he continues his effort to change evangelicals' minds.

As a lobbyist, he says he supports more government restrictions on the release of CO2 and he calls on conservative Christians to be more bipartisan. He recognized that conservative Christian values are being used to bring Republican votes, but Republicans often don't deliver (my paraphrase).

Terry also asked Cizik to reaccount how he learned about then NAE's president Ted Haggard's gay sex scandal. He responded that he was shocked, but still loves Haggard and saw the fall as one person's fall. Terry then pressed Cizik on his reaction that three megachurch pastors have resigned due to gay relationships this year (I know of Ted Haggard and Paul Barnes, but I don't know or remember who the third is). While Cizik is unwilling to compromise his biblical beliefs against homosexual behavior, he gave a sympathetic answer. However, Terry did what she is good at, and re-phrased the question in manner that got to the point. Here's my feeble transcription attempt:

Terry Gross: "I don't mean to sound presumptious here, but is it possible that perhaps the fact that three evangelical leaders had to step down from their positions because of gay relationships that they had, is that perhaps reason to reconsider your position on homosexuality? And here's what I'm thinking, you know I don't mean this to be presumptious, I just wanted to like raise this as something we could talk about. It is possible that these are three people who are just gay? I mean they just are?"

Richard Cizik: "Yes, that's conceivable."

Gross: "And that by trying to deny that, they basically drove their impulse -- they repressed their impulse and drove them into this underground world because, on some level there was like no denying what their real sexual orientation was, but because it was so repressed, it came out in this kind of underground, underworld kind of way . . . "

Cizik: "Well that . . "

Gross: "And you could argue, 'Gosh it would have been so much healthier to have like a, you know, an above ground, loving, caring, open, honest relationship that, you know, would be life affirming?'."

Cizik: "Well I'm not willing to go there. I'm willing to say though that as evangelical Christians, we have to speak clearly to say that not just heterosexual affairs outside of marriage as well as homosexual relationships are sinful. In other words, I'm not going to depart from my understanding of the Bible's teaching about immorality which can be heterosexual or homosexual, but I can say that this ought not to be a sin so great that one, people can't be forgiven or can't be welcomed into the church because of it. And but that's the message that millions have gotten. Namely that we are self righteous people who sin not and therefore, 'don't come to church unless you're perfect'. That's a sin in itself. It's called pride."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

'Have you had sex with our pastors?'

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Yesterday, Blogtown PDX posted a hilarious article (NSFW) by Dan Savage about New Life Church, Ted Haggard's former church. New Life Church's "overseers" are basically soliciting information about any other lingering sex and other scandals remaining:

"To assist in both the process of Rev. Haggard's restoration and the protection of the Church itself, the Overseers are open to receiving current information relevant to either Rev. Haggard's recovery process or any concerns about New Life Church staff or its leaders. While they cannot promise confidentiality, the Overseers will handle any such information discretely."*

Apparently the overseers are expecting so many tips that they even set-up a webform to collect all of them.


While I think the "overseers"' efforts are probably sincere, their webform is really awkward. After all, if I had been personally involved in a sex (or other) scandal, I don't think I would fill-out a webform that requires name, address, e-mail, phone, a 500-word limit, and states that information will NOT be handled confidentiality and does NOT promise a reply:

"While the Overseers will review any information submitted, please understand that there are a variety of reasons that you may not receive a response, including the fact that they may already be aware of your concern."*

Who is overseeing the overseers? Would it have it been too difficult to set-up a telephone number or even a person to contact? This certainly confirms my doubts about the ability of megachurches to provide meaningful fellowship and to minister to its members.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. The "overseers" had good reason to expect numerous tips. Over a week ago, a second New Life pastor resigned. According to a press release (PDF) issued last night:

". . . On Friday, December 8, 2006, the Director of New Life Church's 24/7 ministry resigned his position, and the Church accepted his resignation. The 24/7 ministry is a young adult leadership training program. This Director resigned because, in meeting with the Overseers, it became apparent that he had displayed poor judgment in several decisions throughout his tenure. This poor judgment included one instance of consensual sexual contact with another unmarried adult several years ago. . . ."*

While the gender and type of sex is really not relevant, it is interesting that New Life seemed to go out of its way to not refer to whether the consensual sex was same-sex or opposite-sex behavior. However, "unmarried adult" implies that Beard had a heterosexual affair since New Life believes marriage is for heterosexuals only.

BTW, according to, another one of Beard's poor judgments calls at New Life probably occured in 2002:

". . . Beard previously made headlines in 2002, when several law enforcement agencies — including a SWAT team — were put on alert after Beard led a 'training exercise' in the church’s parking lot. . . ."

(* Underlines added to quotes.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Originally uploaded by nojam75. [Image stolen from Kevin Cook as Miss Texas in Triangle Productions' Pageant.]

On Friday night, Scott and I joined his co-workers at Triangle Productions!'s comedy musical Pageant at the tiny Firehouse Theatre. We were all there to see Scott's co-worker, Kevin (aka Poison Waters), perform as Miss Texas, a semi-finalist in the fictional Miss Glamouresse pageant.

The show was hilarious! The show's small venue required audience participation including five audience members posing as pageant judges. In fact, one blond judge/audience member almost stole the show with her banter with the pageant's MC. There was also a drunk audience member who was too enthusiastic about the show. However, the MC did a great job of improv and wrangling the audience.

The show was a great way to end the week. I'm always amazed how a relatively small show (compared to a blockbuster movie or big stage production) can be so entertaining. I really should go to more local performances.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Portland/Seattle sight-seeing

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Scott's sister, Lacey, visited us this weekend. She has visited Portland before when Scott first moved to town, so we decided to go to Seattle. I haven't entertained very many people from out of town before, so I'm not quite sure what is really interesting or worthwhile for people to see. Also, the weather has been rainy, so that kills many of the outdoorsy sighting seeing like the Columbia Gorge. However, I think we had a good time. Here are some of the highlights:

  • McMenamins St Johns Theater & Pub: (see prior post)
  • Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle: We started our weekend in Seattle at Paul Allen's Sci-Fi museum inside the hideous Frank Gehry building at the Seattle Center. Outside of Star Trek and maybe Star Wars, I know very little about science fiction, so much of the museum seems obscure. Although Scott and Lacey were excited to see the alien from Aliens. While not as interesting as Star Trek: The Experience in Vegas, it was neat to see Captain Kirk's original captain's chair. They also had the scale model of the original series sets that were used for planning the production.
  • Space Needle: This was a great time of year to do the touristy Space Needle. There were no lines like when we visited last summer.
  • Monorail: A ridiculously short transportation system, the monorail is still a fun excuse to ride the short distance downtown.
  • Pike Place Market: We were too late to see any fish throwing, but we did spend some time at a comic book store and did see the original Starbucks store. The line was too long at the original Starbucks store, but we did manager to visit two other Starbucks earlier that day.
  • Dilettante Chocolates: In the Capital Hill neighborhood, we made sure Lacey experienced our favorite tiramis. Soooo gooood.
  • Elliott Bay Book Co.: On Sunday morning while we waited for the aquarium to open, we had coffee at the Elliott Bay Book Co.'s cafe which is supposedly the inspiration for the coffee shop on Frasier. However, I don't think they promote this association.
  • Seattle Aquarium: The aquarium fed the octopuses chicken drumsticks while we were there. We noticed that all the kids would scream "Dory!" whenever they saw the familiar blue fish.
  • Sungari Pearl: Back in Portland, we ordered Chinese take-out which allowed Lacey more chopstick practice.
  • Portland Art Museum: Scott and Lacey saw the ancient Egypt exhibit at the art museum.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Illusionist: Grade D

Originally uploaded by nojam75. [Image stolen from]

Scott and I wanted to show his sister, Lacey, one of Portland's pub/theaters. We took her to The Illusionist at McMenamins' St Johns Theater & Pub on Friday. The 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition building matched the film's turn of the last century setting.

For some reason, there are two turn-of-the-century magician movies out this year with promising big name stars. The other movie, The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Cain, I have not seen, but I understand that it is about competing magicians. The Illusionist stars Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel and is a love story about a poor boy who returns to his home town as a traveling magician and reunites with his higher-class first love. The movie was filmed in the style of an early motion picture with a dim and flickering image, bland cinematography and an obvious plot. I hate trying to guess how a film will end, but this film's storyline was so basic and obvious that I could not help but know how the film was going to end. The movie is 1 hour 50 minutes long, but felt like it dragged on for three hours.

Edward Norton came close to making his magician character, Eisenheim, interesting, but his performance confuses being mysterious with being aloof. In the end, I didn't really care about Eisenheim or his love interest. Giamatti's Chief Inspector character helped salvage the film and steals the climax of the film.

Overall, I would have rather spent my evening watching a different film. Illusion is not a very interesting or mysterious subject since we all know the filmmakers cheated through the use of visual effects. Had the filmmakers made some sort of commitment to viewers to use only believable, turn-of-the-century illusionist tricks, I think the film would have been a little more interesting and compelling.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

hate crime in Vantucky?

Yesterday, I saw a KGW report [clip] about a Vancouver, WA, restaurant that was vandalized with anti-Arab hate graffiti and set on fire. The mediterranean restaurant, Galilee Cafe, is owned by a man from Israel.

I was surprised that there was relatively little coverage of the possible hate crime. However, the Oregonian reports that the one of the suspects told the police that the fire was set for "monetary gain". It seems unfair that to let a comment from a suspected arsonist undermine a possible hate crime victim, but it seems the media reports are handling this case carefully.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Fresh Air: Gay in the Middle East

Fresh Air had an interesting pair of interviews today about being gay in the Middle East. It really puts the gay debate here in perspective. Fortunately, there is some hope the burgeoning GLBT communities in Tel Aviv and Beirut.