Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Onion News Network

I just watched the three clips featured on the new Onion News Network. This was my favorite:

The Onion's comedy is much different than The Daily Show. ONN is more heavy-handed and obvious.

At least there's not a horrible laugh track like on Fox"News"' awful TDS-wannabe 1/2 Hour News Hour.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

'Tiptoe Through The Tulips' (photo update)

Scott and I just got back from the Tulip Fest at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm near Woodburn. We were a little apprehensive about whether the trip would be worth it due to it be a little too early in the season and the weather. However, it didn't rain and a large section of the tulip farm was blooming. It will definitely be worth coming out again in a few weeks when the tulips bloom.






UPDATE: Here are some of Scott's photos:

Picture 088
Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Picture 104
Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Picture 480
Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Picture 136
Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

quote tag

Pam (Willful Grace) tagged me for five quotes. Admittedly, I don't often reference quotes, so here are a few that pop to my head:


"'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. . . . "

Marianne Williamson's A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191) (Wikiquote).

This quote is often mistakenly attributed to one of Nelson Mandela's presidential inauguration speeches.


"Ezekiel 25:17: The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the Valley of Darkness; for he is truly his brother's keeper, and the finder of lost children. And, I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers! And, you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!"

"Jules Winnfield" played by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction (IMDB.com). Written by Quentin Tarantino.

I've never memorized scripture, but I've always wanted to memorize this classic quote. Unfortunately/fortunately, Tarantino took extensive liberties in changing this verse. I think I read somewhere that he may have gotten it from someone else's work. The real Ezekiel 25:17 is much shorter: "And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them." (KJV, BibleGateway.com)

"I will have to say this morning, I was the leader of the universe as I knew it. This afternoon, I am only a voice in a chorus. But I think it was a good day."


"Chancellor Durken", played by George Coe, when asked what he would tell his family about his day after learning that the civilization he leads is merely one among many planets. Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "First Contact". Teleplay by Dennis Russell Bailey, David Bischoff, Joe Menosky and Ronald D. Moore. Story by Marc Scott Zicree. (IMDB.com, TrekCore.com).

I know referencing Star Trek is a little geeky, but this line has always had an impression on me. How would we react to the news that we were just one of many civilizations?


"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."

Epistle to the Romans by Paul of Tarsus. Chapter 7, Verses 15-20 (NIV, BibleGateway.com)

I really identified with this passage -- especially during my ex-gay struggle. Back then, I would have sworn Paul was gay (as I have heard some scholars suggest). Its power is that we don't know what Paul's internal struggle was, but he certainly captured the essence of any internal struggle.


Originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Scott's & his roommates' cat, Clare-Bo, rallying cry for anything she happens to desire.

Well, okay, she doesn't audibly say these words, but she communicates these words in every other way. Even for her notoriously self-interested species, Clare-Bo is exceptionally selfish and bullying among the three cats and three humans she commands. We're pretty sure we've accurately translated her intentions: 'I'm going to be the first one to eat from BOTH cat food dishes. I'm Clare-Bo!'; 'Get out of my way! I'm going to sit on the window sill. I'm Clare-Bo!'; and 'I'm going outside. I'm Clare-Bo!' (She then sabotages her own escape by "MEOWING" her cry of freedom out the door). Scott and I have adopted her rallying cry much like "TOWANDA!" in Fried Green Tomatoes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Besen parodies "Dr." Cohen's gay cure therapy on TDS

Wayne Besen from Truth Wins Out tried out Richard Cohen's (Wiki) ex-gay therapy on The Daily Show last night. It was hilarious!

Cohen knew that TDS was going to poke fun at him, so he did what I heard (Fresh Air) former TDS correspondents Rob and Nate Corddry advised interviewees not to do. He tried to be funny. Cohen cursed, burped, "shook it off"(?), and attempted to catch a football to prove his masculinity. He also did his startling punching the pillow "therapy" and creepy holding shtick. He ended up looking like even an unreputable, attention seeker. He is so unbelievable, I sometimes wonder if he was paid-off by gay activists to undermine the ex-gay movement.

Here's my favorite exchange:

Jason Jones, The Daily Show: Welcome back to the program. Like millions of Americans, Wayne Besen suffered from chronic gay. It was thought to be untreatable, but one intrepid doctor found a cure.

Richard Cohen, International Healing Foundation: Homosexuality is not a disease. It's an emotional condition that needs to be addressed.

Jones: Meet Doctor Richard Cohen author of Coming Out Straight and America's foremost gay healer.

Cohen: People who are living a gay live can choose to change and come out straight.

Jones: Thank you for setting the record straight, doctor.

Cohen: I'm not a doctor. I'm a certified sexual reorientation coach.

[audience laughter]

Jones: Oh. Well, you're a psychiatrist?

Cohen: No, I'm not.

Jones: But you're licensed?

Cohen: No.

Jones: Jewish?

Cohen: Jewish? Uh, by birth.

Jones: Which is good enough to get him on CNN. . . .

I checked out his foundation's website. He advertises himself as a "psychotherapist" and apparently created the certification counseling program himself. Also, according to a Wikipedia entry, he was expelled from the American Counseling Association and "avoids State licensing requirements by asking for donations to his foundations instead of payment".

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Exodus president supports Gen. Pace for supporting 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', but he doesn't know if he supports gays in the military. Confused?

On Tuesday, Exodus President Alan Chambers posted a note of support, on his personal blog, for General Peter Pace's denigration of gay and lesbian service members as "immoral". Chambers contrasted Gen. Pace's comments with Ann Coulter's "faggot" remark earlier this month, admonishing Coulter's insult as "rude and unnecessary" and Pace's comments "true" and "respectfully honest".

Ex-gay blogger Jay then asked Chambers what his thoughts were on the actual subject of debate, the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Surprisingly after raving about leaders "who are willing to be respectfully honest about their beliefs and opinions without regard for what is politically correct", Chambers avoiding sharing his opinion about DADT with the politically correct statement, "I am not sure where I stand on gays serving in the millitary.".

Puzzled by Chambers unbelievable "not sure" response, I commented that I found it hard to believe that the leader of one of the nation's only conservative Christian ministries that specializes in sexual orientation doesn't have an opinion about whether gays and lesbians are suitable to serve in the military. Chambers then again responded, "I just don't know how I feel about actually having gays in the millitary."

Exodus' employees, Randy Thomas and Mike Ensley, commented in support of their boss's opinion. Ensley even goes so far as to says:

"On the one hand, I don't at all devalue the sacrifice that anyone makes by serving in our military. Whether they identify as gay or not doesn't detract from that."

Apparently casting out and ending the careers of gay and lesbians service members is a way of showing respect.

Again, it's hard to believe that people who devote their careers to supposedly "ministering" to gays and lesbians, 'don't know' about gay and lesbian service members' suitability to serve in the military. Although Chambers says, "Those who know me or of me know that I don't hold back my opinions on any issues that I feel strongly about.", it seems more likely that he is avoiding the issue because it's a lose-lose situation. If he says he supports the anti-gay DADT policy, it would be just another reason to imply that the president of a controversial "ex-gay" ministry is really just a gay hater since there is no rational reason to discriminate against gays in the military. If he says he opposes DADT, he risks alienating his right-wing supporters many of which are already queasy about recognizing gays and lesbians as anything other than hell-bound sexual deviants. *So, he takes the PC way of "passively" supporting DADT by not opposing or supporting the status quo.

This type run-around from the president of Exodus gave me a little PTSD of my ex-gay experience. Every time I want to believe that ex-gay leaders are reasonable people who are really just want to hold onto the 'old time' religion I was once held, I run into these confusing mix-messages that make me question if even they know what their intentions are.

These mixed messages seem to be part of the "Love the sinner, hate the sin" theology they even admit is the wrong message. Here some examples of confusing messages I believe ex-gay groups promote:

  • We are NOT about turning gays into straights, but we uphold heterosexuality and hetero-marriage as superior and don't mind if the term "change" is misleading.
  • We don't call gays perverts or deviants, but those with same-sex attractions are probably developmentally stunted, sexually abused, emotionally dependent, etc.
  • There is no ex-gay "program" and we don't promise a cure, but we will be happy to sell you a two-year course, live-in ministry, books, and seminars as long as you don't expect an outcome
  • And now: We support gays and lesbians who serve, but don't know if they are moral and suitable to serve in the military and understand if the military decides to discriminate against them.

*03/15/2007 12:36 PT UPDATE: I made some relatively minor changes in the wording and grammar and added this (*) sentence.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

South Park's ex-gay episode

Wow, I just saw South Park's new episode which featured an ex-gay camp. Being lampooned by South Park has to be some kind of milestone of recognition for the ex-gay movement.

In the episode, Butters is sent to an ex-gay camp after one of Cartman's cruel (and really disturbing) pranks gets out of hand. Butters is clueless about why he is there and told that he is bi-curious and confused. The episode portrays the ex-gay Christianist language about using faith to turn straight pretty well. It certainly captured some of the ridiculous, confusing, and hopeless aspects of the ex-gay lifestyle. I have to admit that there were times in my ex-gay experience that I felt like Butters.

Monday, March 12, 2007

ornate house

IMG_4920 copy.jpg, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

Whenever we drive to Tammy's house in SE Portland, Scott makes me slow down so he can look at this notorious house a few blocks away from Tammy's. Among all of the dull, small one-story houses, this house definitely stands out. Behind this house's ornate wrought iron fence (which doesn't appear to be for security) is a yard packed with yard statues, flag poles, and bird baths.

Yesterday, I indulged Scott and drove-by slowly so we could take photos. He had his camera on automatic paparazzi mode so it sounded like we were doing a drive-by.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

300: B

'300' Tonight We Dine In Hell Poster, originally uploaded by nojam75.

'300' Abs, originally uploaded by nojam75.

Last night, Scott and I managed to get into a packed showing of 300 (IMDB.com). Like Sin City (IMDB.com), the movie is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel (i.e. fancy comic book) about the battle of Thermopylae (Wikipedia.org) in which 300 Spartans faced a million Persian army in 480 BC. The CGI was amazing. The music was great. It was very violent, but so comic book-ish that it wasn't that disturbing.

The weakest part of the movie was the comic book dialogue which drifted between sounding like ancient Greek to modern sarcasm. I couldn't tell if the acting was supposed to be comic book acting or just over-the-top. And for some reason, everyone seemed to have different English accents.

At the risk of sounding like a stereotypical lusty gay man, I have to admit that the men were amazing. The men basically appeared like they would in a comic book with little clothing and perfect abs. There was a topless female scene, but the men stole the show.

It seems that King Leonidas has traditionally been portrayed as not wearing much at:

Leonidas at Thermopylae, originally uploaded by nojam75.

Gee, I've got to go back to 24 Hour Fitness -- if only I could remember where it is.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

contrasting ex-gay / ex-exgay stories

Last month after the Ted Haggard gay cure proclamation, the Canadian current affairs show, The Hour, compared the stories of an ex-gay and ex-exgay who were both involved in the Toronto ex-gay ministry New Direction. The video was heavily edited to sharply contrast the ex-gay's and ex-exgay's stories:

The ex-gay, Brian Pengelly, is New Direction's youth specialist (his ex-gay story). Pengelly was frank and honest enough to admit that he still has same-sex attractions:

Since I made my decision to follow God, I have not been sexually active with another guy. Um, that doesn't mean I haven't been really attracted -- that doesn't mean I haven't really, really wanted to."

What I found a little surprising is that a Toronto Baptist church hired Pengelly as its youth pastor. I have to believe that such open mindedness is part of Canadian progressism -- even amoung conservative Christian churches. How many conservative American Christian church would hire an ex-gay pastor who admits to still have same-sex attractions?

The ex-exgay, Darin, (his ex-exgay story) went through ex-gay ministry and counseling, became depressed, disillussioned, and suicidal. Like Pengelly, Darin attended a Christian college. However, unlike Pengelly, Darin says that he was told that he would never be ordained because of his 'gay past'. He eventually found MCC Toronto, progressive Christianity, and has started an ex-ex-gay support group, Soul Survivors.

The stories are so interesting and I relate to both. I remember having Pengelly's optimism about becoming 'sexually whole' while I was in the ex-gay movement. I also didn't think it was a conflict to admit that I had still had same-sex attractions because my focus was on God -- heterosexuality was merely a hopeful side effect. Of course, the fact that my sexual orientation wasn't really changing was a nagging thought in the back of my mind. It often seemed that being ex-gay seemed to be more about attitude and acting.

Of course, I really relate to Darin's story more -- especially the story on his website:

. . . I dove even deeper into the ex-gay world and started attending an extreme charismatic church . . .

. . . In the years that followed, I became what the ex-gay movement taught me was the life of a homosexual – a promiscuous lost soul who was unable to love or be loved – someone outside of God’s love. . . .

. . . In an attempt to find some peace, I tried different churches, and different religions, but nothing fit, and nothing destroyed those teachings of the ex-gay movement that haunted me. Deep in my soul, I knew what I was and I knew that God would never love me. I hated myself … and my sexuality.

Yup, I also dove into pentacostal Christianity because it seemed more extreme, authentic, and action-orientated. I also remember being haunted by the ex-gay and fundamentalist Christian messages when I started to consider other theology and accepting my sexual orientation.

Good times . . ., but really it was so long ago (ten years) that much of that experience feels like a distant memory. And yet, I also have to admit that leaving the ex-gay experience was a defining part of my life, so it's hard not to think about it.

(Hat tip: Warren Throckmorton)

03/09/2007 REVISION: I re-worded and cleaned up my original posting.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Johnny Cash covers and vice versa

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know anything about music. When asked what music I liked, I would say, "I like most music -- except country." Like any dork, my radio is usually tuned to NPR/OPB talk radio, but I do listen to "alternative" rock, generic popularly corporate rock/pop music, and classical music that Scott makes me listen to.

Before the 2005 movie Walk the Line (IMDB.com), Johnny Cash was just one of those country music types that I never knew anything about. I think I even saw Johnny Cash (Wikipedia.org) at a Billy Graham Crusade (Wiki) in 1992 -- although I don't remember anything about it. However, the more of his music and covers (his of others' song, and others' covers of his songs) I hear, the more I like his singing.

Lately, I've had some of these songs stuck in my head:

Johnny Cash's 2002 cover of Nine Inch Nail's "Hurt" (Wiki) -- his last hit. His retrospective, farewell video is heartbreaking. The video also shows his wife, June Carter Cash (Wiki), watching him perform. They both passed away in 2003 within four months of each other.

Here is a Nine Inch Nails video of one of the original versions of the song:

David Bowie (Wiki) also performed "Hurt" with NIN:

Johnny Cash sang "The Wanderer" on U2's 1993 Zooropa album (Wiki). (Montage in YouTube video is unrelated to the song.)

U2's only live performance of "The Wanderer" (Wiki) for a 2005 Johnny Cash tribute.

Johnny Cash covered U2's "One" in 2000 (Wiki).

Cash's 1969 San Quentin performance of "A Boy Named Sue" (Wiki).

There are some hilarious fan videos of this song:

(BTW, I acknowledge the irony of sharing probably unauthorized versions of the music. I do own and plan on purchasing real copies of these songs -- really, I do.)

Monday, March 5, 2007

Council Crest

On Saturday, Scott once again made me crawl out of cozy bed to find some fog pictures. Apparently, fog is a really neat to Nebraskans. We tried OHSU again, but the fog was just as thick up there, so we wondered up the hill further and I somehow found Council Crest Park.

Other than driving through the park, I've never spent any time up there. It has some nice views on clear days, but the water tanks, television towers and low-flying overhead flight path don't really give the park a feel of nature.

Of course, Scott took some amazing pictures. It would be nice if someone printed their photography and hung them on my bare, bare walls. Oh well, . . . .

IMG_3697.jpg, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

IMG_3728 copy.jpg, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

IMG_3847 copy.jpg, originally uploaded by sweber4507.

IMG_3813 copy.jpg, originally uploaded by sweber4507.