Monthly Archives: December 2012

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Oh the weather outside is frightful, 
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Y’all know that I live in the South, the Deep South, and we don’t get snow often.  In fact, it snows very rarely here.  And though I know that many in the North hate the snow, I love it.  I am currently reading About Face by Donna Leon about the Venetian detective Commissario Guido Brunetti.  In Leon’s books, Brunetti is either complaining about the heat and crowds in Venice in the summer, or about the cold winters of Venice. In About Face it is the winters.  When I was in Venice, it was October, but it was cold and rainy.  I was a bit miserable the whole time, but I’d love to go back someday.  I was thinking about wanting to be in Venice yesterday, as I was reading About Face. In the book, Leon describes her detective walking through the streets of Venice when it begins to snow.  I thought of the picture above and about watching the movie The Wings of the Dove, based on the Henry James book, because of a scene that takes place in Venice during winter.  Venice is a beautiful city, but it must be absolutely breathtaking when it snows.

Anyone want to take me to Venice, Italy, this winter?

P.S. Hopefully, the world won’t end today as the ancient Maya predicted.  I think the just stopped calculating their calendar assuming they would have time later. Procrastination…it scares the hell out of everyone, especially when a deadline is approaching.

Study Reveals Penis Size Linked To Condom Usage

While one researcher concedes the findings are “politically volatile,” a recent study of gay men in New York City shows the larger a man’s penis is,the less likely he is to use a condom, Pink News reports.

Researchers at Hunter College’s Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training (CHEST) culled responses to surveys of about 500 attendees at local community events. According to Queerty, some respondents in the survey said they had unprotected sex because they couldn’t find the right condom fit, and just 40 percent said they were easily able to find condoms to suit their length and girth.
While larger-sized condoms are available in stores, the one-size-fits-all variety are more readily available — and often free from health clinics in New York City, the study found. (Poor New York City, my graduate school, which is in the South, always had Magnum condoms free at the student clinic.)

The risky behavior revealed in the study’s data appears to go against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s long-held conclusion that “consistent and correct use of latex condoms is highly effective in preventing sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.”

But the findings are in line with a 2009 Indiana University study indicating that men were more likely to have “negative attitudes” about condom use if they had penises that were bigger or smaller than average.

“This type of public health research is very important, no matter how politically volatile,” Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, CHEST’s director, wrote on the organization’s blog. He added that the findings would enable researchers to better meet the health needs of gay and bisexual men.

The study, “Self-reported penis size and experiences with condoms among gay and bisexual men,” will be published in the February 2013 issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.

I don’t care how big or small you are, WEAR A CONDOM!!!

God’s Doodle

Behind the fig leaf
God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the PenisBy Tom Hickman

THE problem with penises, as Richard Rudgley, a British anthropologist, admitted on a television programme some years ago, is that once you start noticing them, you “tend to see willies pretty much everywhere”. They are manifest in skyscrapers, depicted in art and loom large in literature. They pop up on the walls of schoolyards across the world, and on the walls of temples both modern and ancient. The Greeks and Japanese rendered them on statues that stood at street corners. Hindus worship the lingam in temples across the land. Even the cross on which Jesus was hung is considered by some to be a representation of male genitalia.

The story of the penis — a brilliant history of the male member that tells you EVERYTHING you wanted to know but were too shy to ask.

Throughout history man has revered his penis as his ‘most precious ornament’. Yet, ambivalently, his penis has always been the source of man’s deepest neuroses too. Do women find it, in the erect state, inherently ridiculous? Why can’t a man be certain his penis will stand and deliver when he commands? If and when it steadfastly refuses, what can he do to remedy the situation?

And then, of course, there’s the matter of size…

To possess a penis, Sophocles said, is to be ‘chained to a madman’. God’s Doodle examines the schizophrenic relationship between man and this madman — and the joint relationship this odd couple has with the female sex.  God’s Doodle is the tale of the penis and the ups and downs of history — the macabre and the bloodcurdling, the funny and the sad, distilled from myth, world cultures, religion, literature, science, medicine and contemporary life — all told with mordant wit.

Yet the penis has also been shamed into hiding through the ages. One night in 415BC, Athens’s street-corner statues were dismembered en masse. Stone penises were still causing anxiety in the late 20th century, when the Victoria and Albert Museum in London pulled out of storage a stone figleaf in case a member of the royal family wanted to see its 18-foot (5.5-metre) replica of Michelangelo’s “David”. Nothing, save the vagina, which is neither as easy nor as childishly satisfying to scrawl on a wall, manages to be so sacred and so profane at once. This paradox makes it an object of fascination. Tom Hickman, a Sussex-based writer and journalist, tells the story of its ups and downs with enthusiasm and a mostly straight face in “God’s Doodle”, a biography of what the dust jacket calls man’s “most precious ornament”.

Mr Hickman examines his subject from various angles: its physical attributes, its role in society, its vulnerabilities and the “violent mechanics” of its fundamental purpose. Referring to sources that range from parliamentary records to Howard Stern, Mr Hickman goes, like so many men have gone before, where the penis takes him, and in the process answers a number of questions. Did Shylock want to castrate Antonio in “The Merchant of Venice”? Possibly. Is ingesting semen harmful? Quite the opposite. Mr Hickman claims it could protect against breast cancer. (In fact, an urban myth.) Where does Viagra get its name? Through the fusion of “virility” and “Niagara”, as in the falls. “God’s Doodle” is a seminal work.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

A Visit from St. Nicholas
Clement Clark Moore
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house  
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;  
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,  
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;  
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;  
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,  
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,  
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,  
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,  
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.  
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow  
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,  
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,  
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,  
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.  
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,  
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!  
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!  
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!  
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”  
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;  
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,  
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.  
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof  
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,  
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.  
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,  
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;  
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.  
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!  
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!  
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow  
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,  
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;  
He had a broad face and a little round belly,  
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.  
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;  
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,  
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;  
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,  
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,  
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;  
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,  
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,  
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”
It’s a week early, but I have something else planned for next Tuesday’s poem; however, this poem will always bring back fond childhood memories and gets me in the mood for Christmas.

Shirts and Skins by Jeffrey Luscombe

Though I’ve had Jeffrey Luscombe’s debut novel, Shirts and Skins, for several months I have only recently had the time to finish reading it.  It seemed that each time I picked up the book something would cause me to have to put it down again, but recently with a six hour bus drive for a field trip and my recent cold which has kept me in the bed, I was finally able to finish it. And with all good reads, I wish I hadn’t, because I simply want more.

A remarkable debut novel from Jeffrey Luscombe, Shirts and Skins is a compelling series of linked stories of a young man’s coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming-to-terms with his family and fate.

Josh Moore lives with his family on the ‘wrong side’ of Hamilton, a gritty industrial city in southwestern Ontario. As a young boy, Josh plots an escape for a better life far from the steel mills that lined the bay. But fate has other plans and Josh discovers his adult life in Toronto is just as fraught with as many insecurities and missteps as his youth and he soon learns that no matter how far away he might run, he will never be able to leave his hometown behind.

Each time I picked up the book to read, I became engrossed in the life of the main protagonist Joshua Moore.  Each time Josh came close to finding his true self in this novel, my heart would break a little when when his true self found a new hiding place.

Some of us come to find our true selves quickly in life, while others of us take years struggling to find who we really are, if we ever do.  In the snippets of the seminal points in Josh’s life you will find yourself.  Did you make the same decisions as Josh or did you choose a different adventure?

Michael Rowe, author of Enter, Night and Other Men’s Sons wrote that “Shirts and Skins is a novel that will speak to anyone who has ever felt the inextricable bonds of the past, or felt the long shadow of family and home places as they strive towards the light of wholeness of identity and self-ownership. A first novel deeply felt and skillfully told, by a writer with insight, compassion, and talent to burn.”

Jeffrey Luscombe was born in Hamilton, Ontario Canada. He holds a BA and MA in English from the University of Toronto. He attended The Humber College School for Writers where he was mentored by writers Nino Ricci and Lauren B. Davis. He has had fiction published in Chelsea Station, Tupperware Sandpiper, Zeugma Literary Journal, and filling Station Magazine. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the Prism International Fiction Prize. He was a contributor to the anthology Truth or Dare (Slash Books Inc. 2011). He lives in Toronto with his husband Sean. Shirts and Skins is his first novel. 

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Text by Joseph M. Scriven 
Music by Charles C. Converse 

What a friend we have in Jesus, 
all our sins and griefs to bear! 
What a privilege to carry 
everything to God in prayer! 
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear, 
all because we do not carry 
everything to God in prayer. 

Have we trials and temptations? 
Is there trouble anywhere? 
We should never be discouraged; 
take it to the Lord in prayer. 
Can we find a friend so faithful 
who will all our sorrows share? 
Jesus knows our every weakness; 
take it to the Lord in prayer. 

Are we weak and heavy laden, 
cumbered with a load of care? 
Precious Savior, still our refuge; 
take it to the Lord in prayer. 
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? 
Take it to the Lord in prayer! 
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee; 
thou wilt find a solace there.

Someone has well penned this statement, “A Christian’s practical theology is often his hymnology.” Many of us could attest to this truth as we recall some deeply moving experience – perhaps the loss of a dear loved one-and a simple hymn which has been used by the Holy Spirit to minister to our spiritual need. Such a hymn is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Though it is not considered to be an example of great literary writing, its simply stated truths have brought solace and comfort to countless numbers of God’s people since it was first written in 1857. So relevant to the basic spiritual needs of people are these words that many missionaries state that it is one of the first hymns taught to new converts. The very simplicity of the text and music has been its appeal and strength.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is a Christian hymn originally written by Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada. Scriven originally published the poem anonymously, and only received full credit for it in the 1880s. The tune to the hymn was composed by Charles Crozat Converse in 1868.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” has long been one of my favorite hymn.  Some songs you just sing in church, but this one truly speaks to your soul and it is something that I believe in living by.  I hope it gives each of you some inspiration today as well.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” ( John 15:13)

Moment of Zen: Bed Rest

Though not 100 percent better, I think I have finally beaten the comings and goings of the fever.  I’m still terribly congested, but that too is getting better as I am not coughing nearly as much.  Hopefully, bed rest the rest of the weekend will get me better by Monday.

Still Sick

Common Cold
Ogden Nash
Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I’m not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.
By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever’s hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!
Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.
Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne’er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.
A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare’s plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!
Mr. Nash describes very well how I feel right now. This stanza is the best description:
By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever’s hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!
I’m staying at home today and in bed.  There was no way I could make it to,school today.  I knew that when I left early yesterday.  Though I have not had a flu shot, I do not believe this is the flu.


I feel like crap.  I have what seems to be a bad head cold, probably due to the drastic changes in temperature here the last few day. I have a low grade fever, which just makes me feel worse. Hopefully I will get better soon.

LGBT Teens Struggle In Rural Areas

There are certain times when people conduct research, and you just have to think: was this really necessary? didn’t we know this already? this is the case with a new report from GLSEN.  Apparently, they have found that LGBT students living in rural areas are considerably more likely to feel unsafe in their respective academic environments than their urban counterparts, according to this new report.

Produced by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), “Strengths and Silences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students in Rural and Small Town Schools” documents the experiences of more than 2,300 LGBT students attending schools in rural U.S. regions, using data collected from the 2011 National School Climate Survey.

The report states that only 13 percent of rural LGBT students reported that school personnel always intervened or most of the time when they heard anti-gay remarks. A mere 27 percent of students reported having access to a gay-straight alliance at school, compared to 53 percent of urban students. According to the report (as reported in the Huffington Post), “Perhaps not surprising but nonetheless troubling, rural LGBT students who experienced high levels of victimization were less likely to plan to attend college than those who who experienced less.”  I’m not so sure that I can agree with this last bit of data, at least not from my personal experience.  LGBT youth, whom I know, are more likely to attend college and be more successful than their heterosexual counterparts.  Most LGBT youth perceive it as their way out of the rural area where they grew up. I know I did, and so have a fair number of my students.  Some, like myself, end up back in a rural setting, but we do so for a variety of reasons, one of which is to make it better for LGBT youth of today.

Calling the study “the first in-depth look” at the challenges faced by LGBT teens in rural areas, GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard said in an email statement, “These students are frequently the most isolated — both physically and in terms of access to critical resources and support — and our findings require us to both honor their resilience and respond to their needs.” I don’t doubt that rural LGBT youths are more troubled, largely because of the Christian fundamentalist and conservative attitudes that are so pervasive in rural America.  However, I think it often is a catalyst for them to strive to do better things.  I hope that one day it will be easier for LGBT youths thought the world, but it will take time and some hard work to change attitudes.