The Broadway for Children’s Theatre Actors

Once upon a time….I was lucky enough to be a student of theatre and communications at IUPUI. The exhausting short-speak known as “Ooey-Ptooey” by the naysayers was known in one class taught by the extraordinary Bruce Waggoner as “Yippee!” Bruce was so right. He has passed on now but his excitement about what IUPUI was and could be has been borne out.
IUPUI means, in practice, Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis. It is an astonishingly well covered place in so far as education is concerned. One can learn ANYTHING there!
I attended IUPUI for a couple of years after leaving the University of Evansville, known for its nursing program and it’s lucky acting alumni from the theatre program. Most notably these days the actor Ron Glass whose long career eventually landed him a job on the cult TV failure/hit Firefly.
He came to speak to us in Evansville one day while flying from Hollywood to NYC and back to shoot the opening sequences of his yet-to-air TV remake The Odd Couple.
He was mostly upset that he had to do this shoot for NO PAY. Also he refused the coffee offered him because he said, “Coffee makes me shit.”
Apart from that I learned nothing from him. He liked money and coffee made him shit. SHIT! Of all the words he uttered during his brief moment with rapt acting students awaiting his words of wisdom and encouragement I remember most, “SHIT.”
Students of the arts. Look within! For without is to find self-involved “shit”.
The time we spent huddled in the theatre with Ron Glass that day was the most useless I have ever spent in pursuit of my truth, my art, my craft. Truth be told, it was heart-rending. Full disclosure, I cannot HELP MYSELF. I still adore his work. That shit!
In short order and for various reasons I left U of E and landed back in my hometown of Indianapolis. At IUPUI.
There are many stories I could relate including meeting the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in person who left us and went on to a successful career on General Hospital as a lead character! But since this is MY blog and not hers…she can write her own story.
They say that “Broadway” for a children’s theatre actor is to have one’s name appear in a published script. If that is truly the case then I shot directly to the top of my profession in the Summer of my 22nd year.
Aurand Harris, the most produced children’s playwright of all time whose plays are numerous and whose plays have been translated into innumerable languages across the globe, had been hired by Indiana to write a typically Hoosier play for children AND to teach children’s playwrighting at IUPUI.
Aurand saw me that year in another children’s play entitled Hallelujah Hopscotch, play a 12 year old against a 9 year old and another 10 year old child. He was so impressed by my talent, his words at the time, that he had me in mind while he wrote the play RIDE A BLUE HORSE, the life and times of the great Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. He wanted me for the role. And thank goodness he got what he wanted.
The character of Riley spans his entire life from 80 to literally 2 years old. I was in Heaven. Working with many of my friends from the school as well as actors hired-in for their Straw Hat Summer Theatre jobs for that Summer’s White River State Park Arts Festival and performing in the state of the art Indianapolis Children’s Museum theater we all had a very fulfilling experience.
Theatre for children is important. Lessons are taught and learned because live drama in a professional setting helps focus the child’s mind. Theatre for, and also BY, young people must not be lost!

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An Open Response To Marriage Equality and The Traditional Civil Rights Movement

First let me say that I am not angry. I’m happy that you have taken any time at all to consider the topic of marriage equality. My only concern is that you don’t have all the facts. The facts are out there. And the correlations between the African American fight for equality and the fight for LGBT rights are more numerous than you think although there are some very basic differences.

POPULATION
Your claim that the LGBT community only comprises 2% of the population is incorrect. It is a widely held belief that the LGBT population percentage is approximately 10%. It’s interesting to note that a Gallup poll taken in just October of 2012 indicates that 3.4% of the 120,000 respondents to the question “Do you identify as gay or lesbian?” answered in the affirmative while more people, 4.4%, refused to answer or said they didn’t know!
If we made a graphic of the United States, according to this poll, and put a smiley emoticon on the map where every LGBT person was and a smirk emoticon where all the undecideds were…there would be more smirks than smiles staring up at us. The headline should have read, and I mean this literally, More Americans Than Not Do Not Know WHAT the Fuck To Do.
However I fail to see why any percentage of the population having the same rights as the majority denied them is a reason for continuing discrimination. If there were only two of us we should be afforded the same rights to happiness, shouldn’t we?

RELIGION
Nowhere in any discussion of marriage equality has it ever been stated that LGBT people want religions to be forced to marry same-sex couples. We want and deserve to have our relationships and families recognized by the government in the same lawful manner as any opposite-sex relationship. We deserve it because we are Americans. We don’t need any other reason.

JIM CROW
Marriage by any other name does not smell as sweet. It also does not make any logical sense. Separate but equal? I should not have to explain this at all so I am not going to.

PREJUDICE/HATE/VIOLENCE
The sad truth about the difference in hate crimes committed against people of color and the LGBT community is that people of color are obvious targets for bigots but the LGBT people who are attacked need to declare themselves in some way. Hate crimes against the LGBT commuunity have risen over the past few years while all other hate crimes have declined. That’s the FBI statistics. The Southern Poverty Law Center published a page you can read which concludes The bottom line: Homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crime.

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR and HARVEY MILK
Both of these men fought hard for minorities at a time when, as hard as it may be to believe some times, the vocal majority of Americans decried their communities. I am white. Dr. King spoke for me as well. He spoke for all Americans. And yes, he was motivated by his own community’s struggle but Dr. King was so much more than a voice for one community. He was the voice of a true, free America. And while his own voice was silenced by hate, his spirit and objectives were continued by millions of other Americans including his friend and confidant Bayard Rustin who was openly gay.
Harvey Milk was a voice for equality not just for the gay community in San Francisco and for gay teachers all over the state of California but for the elderly and for immigrants. He was the very first openly gay elected official in the nation. He was murdered by firearm as was Mayor George Moscone inside city hall in San Francisco in 1978.
If you are truly interested in the history of minority rights in the United States I urge you to read Randy Shilts’s excellent book The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk or see the brilliant documentary The Times of Harvey Milk which is largely a film of the book in documentary style.

CONCLUSION
When all of these factors are stacked neatly next to one another with racial equality on one side and LGBT equality on the other there is an obvious correlation between the struggles for equality of all Americans. African-Americans in particular should be standing with their LGBT brothers and sisters in the fight for equal rights for all Americans. When the similarities of the work required by different communities to gain equality is pointed out shouldn’t people say, “Really? I should learn all I can about those people!” Instead of, “OH NO! I am not like those people!” I believe the former should be true but the fact that the latter was your reaction proves your argument’s fallacy.

On a personal note, I am glad you are thinking about the issue. Now please take the next step and educate yourself with verifiable facts. Indianapolis is my hometown too. One of the reasons I moved was because of anti-gay hatred and bias. Indy is filled with it just like it’s filled with bigots who don’t like blacks. I know where you come from. I know the devastating effect the Indianapolis Public School system has had for decades on the urban community there and how whole communities have been uprooted by “Urban Renewal” and “Gentrification” downtown. Please take some time and learn about my struggles.


I Got The Music in Me (Feel funky, feel good, WHOOO!)

Every morning I wake with a song running quietly in the back of my brain. A double-edged sword to be sure. Guns N Roses can rarely be termed “quiet”.

SIDEBAR: My brain runs random thoughts and memories through my consciousness continuously. From a sunny boyhood day in 1974 buying penny candy with my friends while on another bike-riding adventure through Troy Manor Trails to me and Danny Brewer walking home from second grade through the snow and joking about being Keith and Danny Partridge to driving in Evansville, Indiana with my college crush Mark Davis and talking about this “gay cancer thing” I never know exactly where I’ll end-up next…oh “End-up” triggers the stripper bar in Tales of the City where Michael/Mouse stripped in a contest. The flood of memories is constant and I don’t know how normal it is on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is memories triggered only on purpose and 10 is James Whale who had no control and had to be medicated. I’m probably a solid 6.

Behold my bold segue: ANYWAY!

This morning’s tune was Antarctica by Midnight Oil from their 1990 album Blue Sky Mining. I love this record. I saw these guys in concert in Indianapolis when they toured the States in support of this album. Right before Desert Storm.

SIDEBAR: I have never met an Aussie I didn’t like. Midnight Oil is an Australian band. Both statements are true.

ANYWAY!

I have Blue Sky Mining on my iPod so I put it on when I got on the bus to work this morning. And it made me wonder how many, which and if other people have whole albums they listen to from start to finish. Feel FREE to comment, add your own lists and to steal my recommendations. The more brave among you may even try some you’ve never heard of before! IN GERMAN! Yes, two of these are in German and at least one is a misogynistic romp through vaginal ownership. Gird your loins!

My partial list, partial because something is sure to crowd out parts of my list with a memory of the Autumnal winds of Indiana, includes:

Blue Sky Mining, Midnight Oil 1990

Nunsexmonkrock, Nina Hagen 1982

 

Einzelhaft, Falco 1982

Bloodsugarsexmagic, Red Hot Chili Peppers 1991

Lonesome Jubilee, John Mellencamp 1987

Uh-Huh, John Mellencamp 1983

Any Smiths Compilation, The Smiths 1984-87

Kick, INXS 1987

Shabooh Shoobah, INXS 1982

A Thousand Suns, Linkin Park 2010

Trapped in the Body of a White Girl, Julie Brown 1987

The Real Thing, Faith No More 1989

Kissing To Be Clever, Culture Club 1982

Colour By Numbers, Culture Club 1983

She’s So Unusual, Cyndi Lauper 1983

True Colors, Cyndi Lauper 1986

Sisters of Avalon, Cyndi Lauper 1996

Dream of the Blue Turtles, Sting 1985

Turtleneck and Chain, The Lonely Island 2011

Incredibad, The Lonely Island 2009

Synchronicity, The Police 1983

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles 1967

Space Ghost’s Musical Bar-B-Que, Space Ghost et al 1997

Hotel California, The Eagles 1976

The Point of No Return, Kansas 1977

As Nasty As They Wanna Be, 2 Live Crew 1989

The Innocents, Erasure 1988

The Greatest Hits- It’s My Life, Shirley Bassey 2000

I Robot, Alan Parson’s Project 1977

Pyramid, Alan Parson’s Project 1978

Sign o’ the Times, Prince 1987

The B-52s (yellow album), The B-52s 1979

Bouncing Off The Satellites, The B-52s 1986

21, Adele 2011

Back To Black, Amy Winehouse 2006

Alright, Still, Lily Allen 2006

It’s Not Me, It’s You, Lily Allen 2009

Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters 2004


Confessions of a Gamer

Bless Me Torgo, for I have sinned.

OK. Sin shmin. I just wanted to type that. But I do have some stuff to say about games I don’t like and a bit of my backlog logic and where I see gaming in the context of my life. That last one seems THRILLING, no? Let’s start there then.

First, my definition: Gamer, one who plays a host of different video games from various genres.

Just because one owns a gaming system, particularly any new Nintendo system, doesn’t make one a gamer. There are game fetishists out there who own a system for playing only one game. FIFA is a good example of this. The world is full of FIFA fetishists who wouldn’t know an FPS from an RPG if they were looking over Storm’s shoulder, walking down a predetermined path, and complaining endlessly on forums about it.

I do not understand these people although they exist in my personal life. I was very disappointed when a friend told me he wasn’t interested in anything other than Warhawk. ON PURPOSE he ignores all other gaming experiences available to him playing only Warhawk. Warhawk is an awesome game but it’s FIVE YEARS OLD. Of course this will likely get him invited to the closed beta of the follow-up game, Starhawk. Which he will eschew for not being Warhawk. He is not a gamer.

I am a gamer.
I played Final Fantasy XII for 105 hours before moving on from it. I have played Warhawk for over 300 hours. I currently have over 50 million points in Beat Hazard Ultra. I loved Wario World and Luigi’s Mansion. That’s an RPG, a shmup (SHoot’eM UP), an on-line multiplayer, a platformer and a puzzle game.
I recently upgraded the hard drive in my primary PS3 to 500G because I filled-up the 120G with which my slim model came.
Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the N64 in 1998 is what started my love of console gaming at home as opposed to endless token dropping in arcades. (You can read about the beginning of me-as-Gamer in my post “Jason Specland Birthed a Monster”.)
Currently I am hunting down odds and ends in Batman: Arkham City and also tinkering with InFamous: Festival of Blood, Ugly Americans, Beat Hazard Ultra and with tempered expectations DC Universe Online gone FREE-TO-PLAY.
I own several gaming consoles. An original NES, the aforementioned Nintendo 64 console, Nintendo Game Cube, Play Station 2 and 2 PS3s. For the PS3 I own the Move controller and accompanying navigation controller and PS Eye camera, several dual-shock 3 controllers- one is red!, a Sony blue tooth headset and the Sony wireless 7.1 surround sound PS3 head phones.
I may seem like a braggart from listing all the above. What may not be known about me is that I am 48 years old. I am ancient in the world of console gaming. I should be happy with a nice game of Euchre or pinocle, right? I shouldn’t be as excited as I am to be getting Saints Row the Third tomorrow so I can beat people to death with a giant purple dildo as a crazed, scarred bodybuilder in a skort.
Age is a funny thing. People who act elderly choose to do so. People who act like they have arthritis HAVE arthritis. I have carpal tunnel so maybe I stretch my arms during play but I can still kick ass.
And FYI, the picture of me associated with this blog IS recent. I still look good, bitches.

Clearly not created by any god!

Having said all that I am ready to divulge my secret gaming peccadilloes.

I did not enjoy Assassin’s Creed because even riding a horse slowly past enemies who were not supposed to suspect me made them attack en masse and murder me. I wanted less time HIDING IN HAY-WAGONS than that. Also I HATE to die cheaply.
I HATED Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Talking heads voiced by Patrick Stewart: not as fun as you’d think. Finally get out of the dungeon and get killed by a random cat-headed guy because I got NO idea of the next objective. For Fallout 3, same thing with inconsequential variances. Both games by Bethesda.
Borderlands. Gorgeous game. Great AI characters and sound design. Fun multiplayer interface. BUT. Repetitive implementation of  levels making grinding the main event. Starting at the same camp every time no matter where one saves. No thanks. I’ve killed those fracking dawgs 15 times already. Bored now.
And Red Dead Redemption. Another meandering open-world game that was really promising. Not long after beginning I couldn’t find my objective OR a list of objectives I needed to accomplish to continue. And I looked through every menu page. Eventually one tires of skinning animals.

Someone might think that I am just clueless in open-world games. I really loved InFamous both Hero and Infamous play-throughs and I’d have a platinum if I could just find the LAST TWO SHARDS! I finished Batman: Arkham City story and am working out the last of the side missions and such after which I will spend my time in challenge mode.
I do not enjoy backtracking or other redundancies. I don’t mind dying as long as I can see the way to victory. I don’t mind stealth as long as the mechanics aren’t broken. I don’t have fun wandering aimlessly, repeating the same actions for the same results. Yet I don’t mind grinding because I can see the goal.

I’m not all complaints however. I have some backlog games I both hope to finish and like to have at arms length. I think of these as my “collector” games.
Killer 7. That insane, impossible-to-understand Japanese shooter. Light the candles?! Uhh…but the wind…..um. Huh. And the sound design! Wow. I might have to be buried with this one.
Dead Rising 2. Banana hammock beat-the-clock. So much crazy content.
Dead Space. Scared Shitless. The premise is undeniably dumb…go here, go there, go to Bioshock? If it wasn’t so totally pee-your-pants-worthy I’d have finished it long ago.

This 1000+ word essay is just the tip of my gaming iceberg. It’s a taste of me-as-gamer. I hope someone finds it interesting. But I have to go now so I can work on my score in Beat Hazard Ultra. I’m skipping around my music collection a lot for levels but ultimately as a huge challenge I’d love to be able to play through both discs of The Wall LIVE in Berlin which is 2 60 minute tracks. Now THAT would be epic.

PSN ID: son_of_ottie

Sing It, Shirley Bassey!


Stephen Tobolowsky is my Guru.

I have always enjoyed the performances of actor Stephen Tobolowsky. Even when he was “Hey! It’s THAT GUY AGAIN!”
There something so comforting in his persona.
A few weeks ago I began listening to his personal podcast “The Stephen Tobolowsky Files”. I think I understand why I always feel so good watching any performance of his. He is me in a parallel dimension. And I do not mean that in a creepy way.
We have both had similarly quirky experiences. We both have unusually long memories stretching back to before most people remember anything, like pre-VERBAL memories. We are both character actors, he far more successful than I but life’s adventures don’t care whether you got paid or not. You still have the experiences.
He went to grad school in Champagne Urbana IL and I went on a rotten date there once. And we both know a lot of dead people.

Folks, if you aren’t listening to this amazing story-teller’s podcast and listening to him weave a web of real-life with reel-life…you just don’t care about people, acting, kittens or talking dogs.

GO HERE: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-tobolowsky-files/id339001481

The Guru

Stephen Tobolowsky Acts Again


Stephen Tobolowsky is my Guru.

Stephen Tobolowsky is my Guru..


Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark (a love note…shshshsh….pass this down….)

Through no small feat of the Theatre Gods it just worked out that my friend Paul Bellantoni had a pair of tickets to bestow for last night’s performance of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.
He was hoping to trade them for tickets to The Importance of Being Earnest playing next door but alas for him no one could oblige. Not alas for me, I got one and the other went to our mutual friend Jason Griffin. Amazingly we were the only two who responded to his offer on Facebook. Silly people….silly people.
The show’s predicament is well known; several injuries, one quite severe and possibly career-ending and one which left the actress playing the villainess too afraid of flying to continue in the show.
I have been a vocal proponent of closing the show because I was afraid none of the parties involved had been working to keep the actors safe. And I still say that it’s unforgivable for a director to not demand double and triple checking of harnesses for this extremely dangerous brand of high-velocity wire-work in an enclosed space. (PS The Stage Manager should ALSO be on the hook for this as well as the Equity rep! No pun intended.)
But I have no intention of further flogging this issue in this post. I want to talk about the play. The musical version of the Spider-Man origin tale.
Think back to when you were a kid of about 10. Especially if, like me, you lived far from New York City, loved musicals and would rush off to the record store every Friday to see what new cast albums were out.
Imagination was everything to me. Listening to the cast albums I’d imagine what the show must be like. Always opulent and remarkable, of course. Eva Peron before a crowd of thousands! Cats doing amazing choreography!
Ever see Evita? Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina will send you to the doctor with ghost images of Eva burned into your retina by a blinding spotlight and immobility. Cats? CATS?! The leg-warmers did not FOOL ME! And the choreography was lame. LAME.
But Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, all my 10-year-old dreams of the perfect musical theatre experience were realized in you.
Ever sit in a theatre and feel like you’re about to topple onto 34th street from the top of the Chrysler Building? Holy Crap. Ever see a piece of paper blow across the stage, with no visible means of locomotion, and insist to be read? How’d they do that? Seriously. I looked hard to see how. I did NOT see how.
I am not going to go on and on because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. I suggest my readers also stay as ignorant of specifics as possible and go in fresh and wide-eyed like their 10-year-old selves.
This show is the dream of Broadway made real. Now, how do I get a life-sized Swiss Miss to use as my Xmas tree next year? That would be so HOT!

Like the knife not the beverage!

Sharp!


Jason Specland birthed a MONSTER!

Once upon a time I didn’t have any experience with home video gaming. In 1998 I couldn’t imagine spending money on a machine that played games on a TV! I was there for Pong and it wasn’t that special!
Then my roommate Jason Specland’s parents sent him a new Nintendo 64 console bundled with Princess Zelda: Ocarina of Time for Hanukkah. It was remarkable! How did he know where to find all that loot and how to kill the enemies and save the princess and travel through time and….my mind boggled.
Jason let me play it. I wasn’t very good and truth be told, I still jump a bit where I sit when my character jumps while platforming…hehehe. The Uncharted games are a workout!
Long story short, Jason moved on to MMOs and played Ever Quest online and when he moved from Hoboken to Manhattan he sold me his N64 and all his games for the next-to-free price of $45. Which really WAS like a HUGE gift to me at the time.
Sitting on the floor of our giant apartment in sweats and looking up at the TV perched on the fireplace mantel, listening to the YYYYAA! of the attacks and the incredible music in the game, Ocarina of Time sticks in my memory as one of the cornerstones of what I now know to be my second childhood.
Along with my superb new friends and roommates Jason and Duncan Pflaster and my very first taste of Indian food, OMG!!!!! IT’S GOOD!, and midnight strolls to Bagels on the Hudson, video games gave my brain a rest from the fear of AIDS and who was dying next that was the constant of my life in Indianapolis.
Time marched on and in a couple of years I bought a new Nintendo Game Cube! I actually had the model capable of “progressive scan” to make the picture better! But that model was discontinued because according to Nintendo, their players don’t care about graphics.
It became clear the the cube was dying a slow death of ignore-ance and attrition so I bit the fan-boy bullet and got a used PS2. A big FAT Ps2, which I took online by buying a special attachment, was my first foray into online multiplayer gaming…and I was terrified I’d be pounded into a pulp by far better players than I. Sometimes I was and sometimes I wasn’t.
About this time I began to pay attention to specs in consoles. I also started reading gaming magazines and reviews of the new breed of consoles and the PS3 beat Nintendo by a mile and Xbox360 by 2 miles given Microsoft’s red ring of death issues.
I got my first PS3 console about a year after it was released when I bought a 60G model in 2007. The ONLY model with PS2 backwards compatibility. The price had dropped because the model was being discontinued…it was $400. By the time I left Game Stop I had dropped about $550 total for a second controller and a game or two as well…About 2 years later I bought a new PS3 slim for $299 because the disc drive of my first one died.
I also own the Playstation Eye camera, the Move controller, Move navigation controller, a new RED controller and the PS3 Sony bluetooth headset for online play.
I have bought and downloaded about 35 games from the Playstation Network store. I have bought and traded many games from Game Stop on disc.
Carlos and I have added Netflix streaming, Hulu plus and VUDU clients to the system which have allowed us to downgrade our cable bill from $170 a month to $100 (with boosted cable internet speed up to 32G DL). The Netflix & Hulu are about $31 each month for unlimited access to streaming and 3 blu-rays on disc at home at a time. VUDU is pay per view.
AND then there’s Playstation Plus. For $50 per year we get access to premium and FREE content including the pre-game release beta tests for Killzone 3, DC Universe Online (the first console-based MMO), Dead Space 2 online multiplayer, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood online multiplayer, and Little Big Planet 2. LBP2 and DCU Online are both running NOW.

Right now I am playing Killzone 2 campaign and multiplayer, Infamous to trophy ho it, Dead Rising 2, MAG with Move control, Batman Arkham Asylum plus the 2 betas I mentioned now running.

AND I AM ADDICTED TO THE NEW PAC MAN CHAMPIONSHIP DX!!!

I have a subscription to Game Informer magazine and the following five podcasts: Sarcastic Gamer Blue show and SGUK, IGN BEYOND!, PSNation & Joystiq Podcast.

Yeah….I’m a gamer.

In the beginning...

Just one part of super hero creation for DCU Online.

Needs More Chainsaw

True!


Knockin’ Around The Ol’ Place

Well, here I am the day after Thanksgiving.
My partner Carlos and I trekked all the way to his sister’s house, over two blocks away, with some Jim Beam and a six-pack of Coors Light in anticipation of a psuedo-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. “Psuedo” because it was ham and not turkey. But we all love some good ham and OH boy were we not disappointed!
This was no hunk of ham-type porkish meat. NO! This my friends was H. A. M.
There was a big ol’ bone sticking out of it. This ham was farm ham, kids!
This bitch was pig. And this pig was good.
And there was football! I sat on the couch and watched football with Eriel, my brother-in-law, and cheered-on the Jets with a belly full of pig and a brain full of Jim Beam.
THANK YOU! Thank you, you bunch of racist pilgrim bastards. Thank you.

So today I decided to blog a bit. Knock around. Look for a new graphic theme. Add some links. Spruce up the place a bit.
Carlos started his knitting blog today and it was way cooler than mine so I had to do something.

I am enjoying tinkering about.

Plus, it’s keeping me from putting-up the Christmas tree. I want to put it up. I love sparkly, flashing pretty-in-the-dark. It helps reboot my brain and wards-off the December chill. Still, unboxing all the stuff is a chore.

Best get to it then!


The FACEBOOK Notes Vol 1

Before you get stuck-in reading these next few bits and bobs, a word. The first few are not the most recent. They do come from my Facebook notes of 2010 but I realized that if a reader began with my most recent post about my father’s death they might get the feeling I’m a real downer. So I took some other posts/rants and moved them up to the front.
In any case, ENJOY!
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Sleeping Cuties…a valentine’s day tribute February 11, 2010
There’s a young gay couple who take the same NJ Transit bus to and from work every day as do I. I first noticed them a year or two ago because they always slept cuddled together on this crowded, too-hot bus like two puppies.
They also fight like two nasty brats sometimes… “How dare you tell me to get over it” and “I don’t care what YOU do, I’m gettin’ off here!” kinda stuff. They do this very quietly. I only ever heard them because they sat behind me a few times on the way home from work.
But what I’m sure of is that they love each other.
The sleeping is heaven and the fighting is hell and in between is all the cleaning house and making meals and playing video games….and criticizing each other’s video game playing…and getting that tingle in the pit of yourself when a random thought brings their face up on the HUD of your mind like a common destination on each Quest to slay that next Big Bad Boss.
So. With Valentine’s Day nearing I present to you all a symbol of what it really means to me. 

Bus 123 Sleeping Cuties
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And The Masai said, “Swing Me ‘Round Olapa!” April 29, 2010
NASA failed to launch a multi-million dollar telescope project into high altitude from Alice Springs, Australia today.
INSTEAD they did get a balloon to bounce the delicate, painstakingly prepared equipment around an outback (not Outback) parking lot from atop a 40 foot well…. ladder….basically…and destroy years of work by loving and dedicated scientists who probably want to strap themselves into the next balloon ride.
I ask you, gentle reader, why not just hook it up to Cletus’s pick-up truck in Tennessee somewhere and attach a kite to one end of it and hope that will work?!
Billions of our tax dollars for this waste of time and dedication and work!
You’re all fired!!! From the guy who gassed the car of the guy who unlocked the doors that morning in Alice Springs to some researcher who said, “Yeah! That’d be NEAT!”
FIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*FLASHFORWARD TO 2089*

 

HEADLINES READ:

Masai Moon Goddess Olapa Answers Prayers! Swings a crew of 3 Masai from Kenya into orbit around Mars!

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Wasting my Time-Wasting Time May 3, 2010
Y’know, I like video games. I like them a lot! Many quarters were spent in mall arcades in the 80s by me. Now, because I’m a grown-up I get to play at home on a bangin’ gaming console, the PS3! Which, due to my low wages, took time to buy. I also don’t own many games for the same reason, I mean, they’re $60 each!
So with bated breath I awaited Final Fantasy XIII. And because of reviews, I played through 45 hours to get to “the good part”. Alas, I forgot “the good part” was deemed so by fat, home-working couch-potato slackerheads who’re all virgins and smelly.
The difficulty seemed to LEAP over the moon…and YES, I had leveled all my characters and upgraded my weapons and accessories. I’d been kicking butt or at least been able to manage my battles but no more. It didn’t even seem like the same game anymore! PLUS…I’m supposed to RELAX not get PISSED-OFF!
I only have a few hours a week to play…not a few hours a DAY.
So if I am dying over and over during the hour I get to play then I have made zero progress and I consider THAT a wasted hour. A wasted wasted hour!
I play for FUN. If I’m not having FUN then it’s time to stop.
Thank goodness for Gamestop! I’ll just carry this game around now in my man-bag until I’m near the store again and trade it for something more playable…I hope.
Y’know what USED to be fun? Here’s my list of most fun games on whatever system: 

All 3D graphics Zelda from Ocarina through Windwaker (brilliantly calibrated difficulty, awesome play)
Metroid Prime and Echoes (immersive and beautiful)
Final Fantasy XII (Brilliant battle system and leveling)
Conker’s Bad Fur Day (toilet humor and great game play!!!)
Okami (Zelda meets RPG also gorgeous in every way)
Viewtiful Joe (side-scrolling BRILLIANCE!)
Resident Evil remastered, Zero and 4 (Creepy atmo and great play)
God of War I & II (Great graphics and music, mostly great gameplay)
Wario World (fun platformer withOUT Mario!)
Sphinx (great music and graphics, fun gameplay)
Luigi’s Mansion (silly ghost vacuuming game but great design)
Uncharted (insanely well made and fun!!!!)
Warhawk (steep learning curve but very fun because u can stay away from the online douche-bags by running your own server!)
InFamous (awesome sandbox with rewarding Trophy-Ho potential)
Zen Pinball (It’s PINBALL!)
Super Stardust HD (zoning out is easy!)
Little Big Planet (RIDICULOUS FUN)
Devil May Cry 4 (button mashing glee)

That’s not a lot of games over the years.

My reject list includes:
Ninja Gaiden Sigma (first boss difficulty is stupidly hard)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (online douche-bags)
Prince of Persia (PS3) (remedial and boring)
Battlefield 1943 (online douche-bags)
Borderlands (VERY repetitive and boring)

I think some people SAY they like a game because it’s the game to like. But I’m not 14 any more, I just wanna FEEL like it.

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Laws? Bah Humbug! June 9, 2010
I seem to be havin’ one of those “cause” days.
And NOW John Stossel wants businesses to be free to discriminate based on race. He won’t go to them but he wants them free to choose. Why stop there? I want rampant sex and nudity and NO restrictions on language on public airwaves then too! And bigamy should be legal! The law of the land should just be “If you don’t want to then don’t do it and don’t complain and don’t infringe and don’t Drive 55!” Now I’m off to have a wank on the subway platform. Don’t like it? Don’t fuckin’ look. [Be aware: the preceding was extreme sarcasm.]

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Death and The Cling Peaches November 5, 2010

On November 6th 1971 I was recently eight-years-old and living with my first cousins, once removed, Bea and Nook Malone in Indianapolis, IN. They were my parent’s age so I called them aunt and uncle but in truth my father was raised with his cousin Nook in Terre Haute. He was probably placed with Aunt Lottie, my grandmother Fanny’s sister, because she couldn’t handle raising twins.

My dad was Ottie Herman and his identical twin brother was Offie Sherman.

By this point I’d stayed with Nook and Bea for several months off and on and for a few different reasons. Initially I went to stay during that Summer because my mother had had another relapse into uncontrolled paranoid schizophrenia and was back in The Seven Gables at Central State Hospital. My father wasn’t capable of taking care of me and working. Not if he wanted to get drunk every night, I guess.

It was during this time that the infamous “favorite shirt” incident occurred.
My dad brought mom over to see me on a furlough from the mental hospital. She brought me a painting she made in therapy. She was a passable artist and the picture she made for me of a tree was very nice. But I digress…
I was excited to get to see my parents again so I put on my favorite new shirt that Bea had bought me. It was a long sleeved red shirt with a longish collar and a black diamond pattern sewn into it. It was a great shirt, I thought! As I came down the stairs there were my parents! Sitting on the couch together. I was so happy to see my mother. A seven-year-old boy can only go so long without his mommy! But before I made it down to the foot of the stairs my father chimed in with, “Where the hell’d you get that nigger shirt from?!”

I don’t remember anything else from that visit really. I know my mom showed me her art-work and I got lots of hugs. From her.

Eventually she was discharged and deemed fit to go on out-patient therapy so home I went as well.

Then my dad got sick. Doctor said pneumonia. He couldn’t work for months and sat eating soup and coughing uncontrollably until just before Halloween 1971 when my brother Chris took him to the hospital. I remember him waving bye at the back door. And back I went to Nook and Bea’s.

Man did I LOVE Nook and Bea’s! My cousin Kitty Sue was only five but I don’t remember thinking, “She’s such a BABY!” or anything like that. We played together well. Living there was like being at a hippie commune with Vicky and her husband living in a trailer on the back of the property. Lots of peace signs and black light posters and brownies. GOD VICKY’S BROWNIES! The best I’ve had even to this day, and NO they weren’t pot brownies! I have SO many stories I could tell but I’ll stick to my point.

Eventually on November 6th, which was the day of the first snow that year, Aunt Bea told me I’d be going home. I was a little disappointed because I was going to have to play all alone again but it’d be easier to get to school and stuff. Besides, I was used to bouncing around at this point.Then there were some odd occurrences.

Aunt Bea filled my little suitcase with candy! I liked that idea! She didn’t give the candy to me or explain it, I just noticed it when she was packing me. The other thing I remember vividly from the perspective of an eight-year-old  is over-hearing a conversation between Aunt Bea and Uncle Nook about a funeral as they towered over me. They completely ignored my question, “Who died?”. But that was OK, I just shrugged and went on playing.

My cousin who drove me home and I were about a block away from my house when I realized something with certainty and I would have asked out loud the question bonging in my head like a gong but I also thought it would freak her out: “He’s dead isn’t he?” The “he” being my daddy.

When I got home to a little house full of people everyone braced themselves and my mother told me as she stood in the kitchen door and I stood in the front room, “Keith, your dad passed away this morning at 6AM”. (Pneumonia had proven to be cancer.) And then I crawled into my brother Chris’s lap as he sat in Dad’s chair and cried for about five or ten minutes. And that was the only time I cried about it.

All In The Family was on that night, first run. It was the episode entitled Edith’s Accident when she loses control of a shopping cart full of cans of cling peaches and it crashes into the car of a Catholic Priest. And there was Archie shouting his bigoted beliefs for all the world to see.

Many in the house that night laughed in the recognition that my dad had been just like Archie Bunker. And he had been. But Archie’s only funny because the rest of the show can counter him.

My dad wasn’t actually very funny. He was just a sad, angry, scared Irish-American drunk. He didn’t do either of my older brothers any favors as a father and he was about to not do me any too. I’m sad that his life was such a bitter disappointment to him. I wish there was some way to know why, because his cousin Nook was his opposite in about every way. A kind, big-hearted bear of a man.

Anyway, here I am on the eve of the 39th anniversary of my father’s death. I am glad he died when he did. I was just old enough to know, looking back, why I was relieved instead of sad. I am 47 years old now. I am a mere six years away from being the same age he was when he died. My perspective on him is changing again. But it’s not changing the truth. He was a rotten father. I mean, ROTTEN.

Ottie? Is that you?

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Goal Schmoal! October 6, 2010

From the Children’s Miracle Network site:

This year alone, Children’s Miracle Network hospitals will provide charity care worth billions, yet these children’s hospitals depend on community support to help fund their vital services.

To ensure children’s hospitals have the resources they need, Children’s Miracle Network’s partners conduct thousands of special events and grassroots fundraisers year-round. Corporate partners sell Miracle Balloons, radio and television stations broadcast stories of medical miracles, and college students hold Dance Marathons—just a few of the programs generating millions of dollars each year to provide the life-saving care and crucial services kids need.

The Extra Life gaming marathon I’m participating in is one of those fundraisers!

It’s also important to note that funds raised also go to research in areas like pediatric AIDS and cancer.

The basic monetary goal for every Extra Life participant is $96. Just $24 from 4 people. I thought that was a really low number so I decided to try for 10 people and a goal of $240. I have received donations from 8 people totaling $303!Those awesome people are:

Alex Raskin, Film Director

Merry Pettyjohn, Microsoft Brainiac (and my first girlfriend!)

Paul (Pablito) Richardson, bon vivant and fund raising swapper (I sponsored his AIDS Walk and he my Extra Life!)

Eric Lanpher, My nephew (25% same DNA!)

Soroj Hansraj, co-worker

Chandra Frank, Florida’s ass-kickin’ babe!

Robert Finnerty, Red Dwarf aficionado

Melanie Hauser, high school pal, wife, mother and sometimes she scribbles a large number of words and sells them.

Goals are nice. They give focus. But goals don’t give meaning.

Donate now because you can. Donate now because if you need these services someday they’ll be there for YOU as well.

But don’t hold back because I’ve met MY little goal. Don’t think, “Well….job done”.

Donate now because it’s not much money but it’s necessary!

Thanks All!

My Extra Life participation will be 8am to 8pm on both Saturday and Sunday, October 16th and 17th. Got a PS3??? Send a friend invite to: son_of_ottie and we can play online together in Little Big Planet, Killzone 2, blur, GT5p, Borderlands, Red Dead Redemption, Warhawk, Zen Pinball (with video chat), PAIN, Bioshock 2 or Spit In The Can….which I just made up. (Also MAYBE MAG and Mod Nation Racers)

I also plan to ustream my Saturday participation….which AIN’T gonna be pretty.

PLEASE DONATE:

[LINK REMOVED AFTER EVENT]

My nephew Brandon with his wife Katharine (Betsy) and my great-niece Lacey. My dollars are going to a hospital near them! I hope they never need it.
My great-niece Lacey blowing bubbles.

(Addendum: I raised nearly $650.00! THANKS ALL!)

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(For those who don’t know, Crispin Glover sends me an email annually regarding being booked into a Jersey City movie palace because a few years ago I emailed him to tell him this place existed and it’d be a great place for him to screen his own films. Films for which he has both directed and starred. Somehow he got the idea I had anything to do with booking him. And I can’t make him stop.)

My Email To Loews For Crispin Glover September 30, 2010

Dear Loews Folks,

I am forwarding this email on to you.

As you may be aware, Crispin Glover has been making the rounds of art houses and the like for a few years now to screen his personal film projects.

If you find you are so inclined you may contact him via the info included.

He and his films, those he personally wrote and directed starring himself and actors who have Down’s syndrome, always attract attention and good will.

I am involved only insofar as I wrote telling him of your amazing facility.

I live in hope that you will now contact him personally with an aye or nay or some further negotiations regarding any possible booking at the remarkable Loews Jersey City.

Mr. Glover is always eager to share his work and now abides on tenterhooks in anticipation of your reply.

Looking forward to my next visit to your historic movie palace,

Keith Patrick Dunn

Union City, NJ 

Crispin Glover, auteur

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The Truth About Arts Awards
or Don’t Let The Bastards Ruin You September 21, 2010

WAY back in 1983 I played the role of Chuck Baxter in Promises, Promises at a community theatre in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was quite young and it was my first leading role outside the comfort of children’s theatre, which for me began with a leading role and was followed in high school by more leading roles. This was not my first time at the rodeo.

I auditioned for the part. The audition pianist, the late and very great Jean Cones, was a friend of mine and a great comfort to have at the piano that night. Short story short, I got the part.

I kinda thought I would because so much of Chuck’s speech pattern and attitude were similar to my own. I understood the humor and rythm of the piece right away and so apart from the basic blocking, the director, the never-to-be-late and always, mostly, awesome Ron Spencer didn’t give me any direction. He never gave me one piece of acting direction and some of the numbers he told me to just do. So I did.

Then came the Encore Award nominations. I received a preliminary nod…yeah, everyone does…but then no actual nomination. And when I was so disappointed, I was told the reason I didn’t get a nomination was because the panel thought I had OBVIOUSLY mimicked EVERYTHING from Ron Spencer, the director, and had of course, being a lad of 19, not the depth of talent necessary to pull off a role like that! This I was told by someone I considered a friend, and still do, but friends can get away with so much with me.

I don’t know if it was worse coming from the grinning face of someone I trusted or the fact this person KNEW it to be untrue and didn’t stick up for me. But it still hurts. And then two years later I was finally nominated for an actual Encore Award for Best Actor in a Drama for playing the title role in The Elephant Man for Buck Creek Players!

I was SO excited. I had worked very hard on the posture, the accent with accompanying speech impediment and the character’s emotional core and vulnerablility. This was a more difficult role by far than Chuck Baxter had been but it was also very rewarding. I worked with an impeccable local cast and the directors, yes both of them and sisters, did a wonderful and heartfelt job. My overarching direction was “don’t ever get angry”. And I managed to pull that off…every time save for one when I turned to John Lampson’s Treves and asked heatedly, “WHY NOT?!?!” (oops) But it was in the moment and I recovered and that was that.

Something many people may not know or recall (or care about) is that I was a terrible hayfever sufferer then and this was Autumn. My nose ran non-stop the whole time the show was up. My Merrick had a handerkerchief on him at all times and used it frequently if clumsily.

Back to the point, I was up for the award against two men who were older and had a larger and more established reputation than my own. Deservedly so. They were truly wonderful actors who always gave as a good a performance you’d find on any Broadway stage or in any film you’d see. Their names are Brad Griffith and Don Barnes and they starred TOGETHER in a very techie K2. Now, K2 is a tech show no matter what with mountain climbing, repelling and an avalanche right before your very eyes. Still none of the tech took away from their brilliant performances.

And now come the awards. Clearly, my friend who blithely belittled me during award season would say, I couldn’t possibly win. Clearly the competition was better than I was. Clearly I was just Keith Dunn the short, slightly (then) overweight kid whose limited talent would soon show me to be no better than chorus material.

But I did win.

I won the award for Best Actor/Drama 1985 for the role of John Merrick, the title role in The Elephant man.

But HOW could THIS be?! Surely repelling down a styrofoam cliff takes more work than learning to stand on stage all crumpled up for 2 hours!

Well…it had to have been this: THEY CANCELED EACH OTHER OUT! Yes. She was certain I had won ONLY because they canceled each other out leaving little nobody ME in a position to win by a whole single vote. (Of course no evidence of this theory ever surfaced but if someone you trust sneers it at you enough in front of other people and then everyone spreads the rumor….it becomes fact.)

Now let’s say for argument there were 10 voters. If the other two actors got 3 votes each and I got 4 then I win with a minority of the total votes. But I still won. I STILL got to stand on a stage and thank people…and later go up and thank people when I accepted John’s award FOR him because he didn’t come…..hmmmm….seems like the whole show was celebrated that night. But I’m sure if that were the case then my win was a result of an Elephant Man FRENZY of emotional support. In the service of the sufferers of deformity everywhere.

Couldn’t POSSIBLY be because I deserved it. I couldn’t possibly have worked for it.

That was now almost precisely 25 years ago. And I am still diminished by the comments and attitudes of the people, my peers, who so methodically strove to make of me what they were; amateurs.

The award that I clearly won is in the hands of someone who didn’t have to endure the sniping and jibing about its validity and who therefore can be proud of me for winning it, my beloved older brother Chris.So here is the truth the title of this ramble promises: If you won it then you WON it. If people voted and you got the highest number of votes of ANY SINGLE PERSON then you won. And if anyone tries to take your joy from you then you let ’em have what’s coming to them. Be proud of yourself! And NEVER give control of your happiness to someone who, at the time, has none of their own and so will work day and night to be sure that YOU don’t have any as well.

This was a dress rehearsal. I didn’t have the streak during performances. It was the 80s!

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Labor Day Teenaged Get-Away September 7, 2010

So…Carlos and I woke-up about 11am on Monday, Labor Day.

He made coffee. He sat at the computer and began to tinker and wrestle with iTunes and his iPod, like ya do if you don’t have a Mac. I took the chance to play my new favorite video game, blur, since we weren’t using the TV to catch-up on Supernatural Season 4 for a little while.

I leveled up in online multiplayer a few times. It’s much faster to do when you’ve leveled to 50 (Legend) once and know how to play. Then I went back into single player Career Mode and beat a couple of bosses and got a couple swanky cars for multiplayer use! At some point Carlos talked to his sister Lisa on the phone and I interjected comments while driving like the wind and shunting and being bolted….

For those who don’t know, peeing during LIVE, ONLINE PLAY is a nuisance. You gotta RUN during the 45 seconds between matches….same with soda refills! And it distracts from the obsessive mindset! Ugh.

Yeah so, he’s doin’ his thing on the computer and I’m playing and leveling and filling/emptying my bladder and then it’s 9:30 PM!Carlos spent the day doing what he loves…playing music and singing and talking with Lisa and being near me. I got to do what I love…playing video games compulsively and being near Carlos. We were like teens!And THEN we ordered Chinese food and watched the first 4 episodes of Supernatural before bedtime.

Soooooooooo nice.

“Don’t you threaten me with your mines, BITCH!”

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I Have Opinions About Everything August 27, 2010

blur Changed The Way I See Racing Games

Reviewed By: son_of_ottie    Date: 8/27/2010     Favorite Category: Action

I am an open-minded gamer. I play every demo I can get my grubby paws on. But when it comes to racing games, I just don’t get it. “VROOOOOM!” , big deal, I always think. I mean, where’s the excitement in NASCAR circles or Indy car wall-bangin’? Where’s the challenge other than staying awake? So I was prepared to play the blur demo for about 2 minutes and then DELETE. Cut to me, a few days later, reaching the end of the 10 level demo. (I’m a busy guy. I didn’t get to play it through. OK?)I guess it was the cars which interested me to begin with. A crazy-wild variety of real cars from a beat-down drifty VW Beetle to the Megane Trophy hugging the surface of the Earth like smooth grass. Really FAST grass.In online multiplayer of up to 20 racers, customizations for cars come by racing a certain car a certain number of times and by winning. Cars and mods are earned by ranking-up.Ranking-up is earned through a variety of challenges so numerous as to include “Bullying II” and “Nitro Ramming” which earn extra “fans” speeding the rank-up process EVEN if you never win a race.The mods are equipped at the beginning of each race except hardcore which is a race-only, no power-ups mode. The mods can affect the effect of your power-ups and those of other’s who would dare slam you with their own. The power ups include shield, bolt, shunt, nitro and others. (I hope they’ll be coming at us with DLC for many more power-ups and mods! Can you imagine the MOO POWER-UP which drops a cow on the road? Well how about the MOO MELT MOD which makes the cow into a burger and adds health! I know…I’m a genius!) Back to reality….There are LOTS of courses varying from inner-city Brooklyn to London and Hollywood and the dust bowl with different ways to race in each course of each locale. The variety is fantastic because if you lose the online vote and have to race in less-than-your-favorite venue just GO FOR IT because it may thrill you anyway!And then there’s career mode!Bottom line about blur is the nature of variables makes every moment of gameplay different from the last and as exciting.A month ago if someone had told me I’d be on the road to racing game aficionado I’d have laughed in their face! But my opinions have been blurred!

Get it? Huh? See what I did there? See that?

PLAY blur!!!!!! 

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WARNING: COARSE LANGUAGE August 5, 2010

I added my own thoughts on this bigot’s comments. They are in parentheses. And I didn’t hold back my language…you are warned.

“You’re stripping 7 million people of their right to vote,” said Brian Brown, of the National Organization for Marriage.

(ACTUALLY, the Mormon church and activists of the extremist “Christian” right wing used demonstrable lies in a fear and smear campaign to terrorize otherwise sane Americans into once again believing gays were all Catholic priests. Wait…that’s unfair…but basically accurate.They even cobbled together a recording of snippets from Obama making him seem to tell everyone to vote FOR Prop 8 and then robo-calling MILLIONS of people with it. Obama opposed Prop 8. So tell me you right-wing mother-fucker, how does THAT sit with Jesus Christ?)

Brown argues that Walker’s ruling assumes those 7 million people were driven by deep-seated bias and irrationality. (Nope. Fear…SEE ABOVE)
“They say we’re just like the Ku Klux Klan. (You fucking ARE. By definition, people who hate other people for reasons dealing solely with superficial issues like skin color or sexual orientation are sister-mother-brother-fucking bigots.) What they don’t get is Americans are overwhelmingly for traditional marriage,” Brown said. (Nope. Most Americans don’t give a shit what other Americans are doing. They wanna watch TV, fuck and eat.) “Those of us who believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman are going to be treated in law as if we’re bigots and deprived of our right to vote. That’s just not going to sit well.” (Justice never sits well for the wrong-doers…you lying cunt. If I were you I’d be worried about what your God is gonna say when you get to the Pearlie Gates because if you really believed in Hell you’d know yours is gonna be an eternity getting ass-fucked by Dan White in a Harvey Milk mask. Wait…you don’t believe in God…not really. If you did you’d KNOW better.)

I warned ya about the language.

Dan White, murderer of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, is pictured here in a snapshot…looking quite gay. He killed himself in 1985 after his ridiculous 5 year sentence ended. He is the anti-Matthew Shepard.

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