Friday, December 2, 2016

Wishing for a Broader Palate

It happened again. Wednesday night I ventured out to a new downtown eatery and came away nonplussed. It's an Indian restaurant, Kohinoor, which only opened last month. To be clear: my lack of enthusiasm is not in any way related to the restaurant, itself. The staff were nice, the service was good, the setting was clean and cozy. No, the culprit is, again, my fussy sense of taste.

Pretty much all my life, I've been a picky eater. Not sure why. Over the years it has become something of an annoyance. How I would love to enjoy a broader range of foods. Alas, the taste buds do not comply. At one point, I chastised my mother, certain in the belief that she had somehow never brought me up with the proper potpourri of dining experiences. She quickly noted that, from a very early age, I'd spit out the vegetable-flavored baby food.

The pickiness, it runs deep.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Looking Forward, Looking Back

"What's wrong with Rock Hudson? He looks ill." Those words were uttered, more than once, by my parents and maternal grandmother (who was visiting us at the time) in our living room one night as we sat around the TV watching Rock Hudson and Linda Evans on Dynasty. "There's something wrong with him," they continued. It was the mid-1980s, and I'd never heard of Rock Hudson, let alone HIV or AIDS. All of that was about to change.

Today, on World AIDS Day, I remember that night from over thirty years ago very clearly, along with the news, not long after, that Hudson was suffering from something called Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It was something not often spoken of publicly. Our own president didn't even utter the terms "AIDS" until 1987, some two years after it had killed his friend Hudson. This would be the old Hollywood friend whom the Reagans ignored when he came to them for help. Rock Hudson's death shone a spotlight on the disease and, since then, there's been no turning back.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hooray for the Holidays

We've just celebrated Thanksgiving, and are on our way to Hanukkah and Christmas, so I thought it would be a good time to bring the holiday spirit together with one of my favorite things -- movies! We all (well, most of us, anyway) enjoy a nice holiday film. They're typically heartwarming reminders of what it means to value friends and family, though of course some of them do so with a twinkle in their eye.

Here, then, are my Top 10 favorite holiday movies:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Searching for Moonlight

WARNING: spoilers for the movie Moonlight are to follow.

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing one of 2016's best films. Moonlight tells the story, over three chapters, of Chiron. We see him first as a young black kid who is befriended by Juan, the drug dealer with a heart of gold who also, sadly, happens to be where Chiron's mother gets her crack from. Little Chiron is often bullied by his peers, and is generally an unhappy soul. Part two focuses on Chiron as a teenager, his mother still addicted to crack, the bullies still after him, but this time he is befriended by Kevin, who shows him attention and with whom he shares an intimate moment.

By far the most powerful and moving portion of Moonlight is its third chapter, where we encounter Chiron as a young man. Now wearing a set of gold teeth coverings and following in Juan's footsteps as a gun-toting drug dealer, Chiron receives a call from Kevin, who is now living out of town and working as a cook in a diner. It's a phone call filled with hopeful tension, as Kevin says how he was thinking of Chiron, and invites him to come see him. "I'll cook something for you," he says, in a matter-of-fact but loving manner.

And so, Chiron travels to see Kevin, unannounced, and Kevin cooks for him and they share some wine and reminisce and then embrace warmly. It is quite touching, and also very Hollywood for such an indie film. Real life doesn't often work out like that, unfortunately.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Night at the Museum

Yesterday I went to opening night for Krannert Art Museum. It was a nice enough affair, with a good turnout of people, catered food, a lively band playing, and lots of newer art work on display. While all of that was quite nice, I prefer the older items in the collection. Some of the Egyptian pieces in the basement were 3,000 - 4,000 years old. The paintings in the curved gallery at the north end of the museum were marvelous.

Looking at paintings from hundreds of years ago, featuring people (adults, men, women and children), going about their daily lives, was quite emotional for me. Some of the works were fairly straightforward: a nobleman posing for a rather boring rendering of himself. Others, like the one set in a darkened room from the 1600s, of a woman paying her servant while holding her baby, really stood out as the closest thing they had to a camera at that time.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thoughts on an Election (reprise)

We're a few days past the November 8th, 2016 presidential election, and I thought I'd offer some ruminations on what happened, how people have reacted, and where we go from here. Take what follows for what you will. You can agree or disagree. That's part of what makes America great.

Donald J. Trump is President-Elect of the United States. Last month, I laid-out how this might happen. He is not who I voted for, and I do not like the man, but the fact remains he will be our president for the next four years. I do not wish him any ill, because it would be hypocritical to preach love & peace out of one side of my mouth, then wish disaster upon someone out of the other side.

Many people -- myself included -- are nervous (to put it mildly) about what a Trump presidency will mean for us. He has, on several occasions, denounced equal rights for gay people. His running-mate has done much in the state where he governs to make LGBT folks feel like second-class citizens. Trump has proposed that Muslims wear badges to identify their religion. He encouraged his supporters to rough-up dissenters at his rallies. This is all recorded and is out there for anyone to find. Some will point to the occasions where he's unfurled a Pride Flag, or said something nice about gay people at the Republican National Convention, but then that means he's lying to someone.

Some on the left have taken to protesting Trump's impending presidency. I understand the motivation, though have not partaken, myself. There are people who have decried these protests and, while they are free to disagree with what the protesters are saying, it is dangerous to want to deny people their right to protest. Heck, the KKK are planning to hold a victory parade next month in support of Trump's win. I find that to be detestable, but wouldn't want to prohibit their right to march, as disgusting as they are. One might also wonder why, particularly, the KKK are so happy about a Trump victory?

Basically, I'm fine with people reacting in whatever non-violent ways they want in response to the election. If you're excited by the prospect of a Trump presidency, more power to you. If you are dismayed, scared and afraid, I understand all too well. But this is the reality we're living in. The vote occurred. The system worked. There will always be winners and losers. How we respond under such circumstances can say much about who we are.