Monthly Archives: May 2014

TMI Questions: Memorial Day Weekend – The Official Start of Summer

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I don’t do these TMI posts from Sean at Just A Jeep Guy every week, but on occasion, I see a topic that I can’t resist. Since I’m looking so forward to this summer for so many reasons, this one was a no brainer. I had to answer the questions. I hope you enjoy my answers.

1. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance but it also signifies the “Official” start of summer. What are your plans this weekend?

Today is the last day of school. We finished our last exams yesterday, and today is just a teacher workday, so not so bad. No students unless they have to retake or make-up exams. Friday night will be a date night with the new man in my life, which will be loads of fun, even though we’ve decided that it’s best to slow things down a bit.

With school out, I will spend the weekend packing for my cruise. We leave on Monday (Memorial Day) and will return to port on Saturday May 31st. What a way to start the summer! I’m not for sure what I will be doing the rest of the summer, but when I get back from the cruise, I plan to continue exploring my new boldness (something I plan to do on the cruise as well).

2. What is your most and least favorite thing about summer?

My favorite thing about summer is…wait for it…NO STUDENTS. No real surprise there. I love teaching, but if the students need a break from school, teachers need more of a break from them.

Living in Alabama, my least favorite thing about summer is the heat and humidity. I hate that when you walk out the door, you break into a sweat. The only relief is the pool outside and the air conditioner inside.

3. What do you think of when I say “Bar-B-Que?”

When I think of Bar-B-Que, I think of the Fourth of July. Each summer when my granddaddy was alive, he barbecued pork ribs over a large pit of coals, mopping it with a blend of butter, salt, vinegar, and water. Inside my grandmama would be making the barbecue sauce. She and my mama disagreed on this, but since mama was grandmama’s daughter-in-law, she deferred to grandmama. Grandmama’s barbecue sauce was a mix if store bought barbecue sauce and ketchup. Mama made hers completely from scratch: ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. She never had specific amounts (Grandmama did with hers), but mama went by taste and instinct, and it was always delicious. However, what made it real barbecue, is that the barbecue sauce has to be added at the end of the cooking process to candy a little on the meat. Adding sauce after, is just not good enough.

By the way, along with Bar-B-Que, you need coleslaw, baked beans, and corn on the cob cooked on the grill with barbecue sauce added at the end just like with the meat. Of course there needs to be sweet tea and homemade lemonade. And there must be myriad of deserts with sometime around mid-afternoon the ice cream churn is brought out for some old fashioned homemade ice cream.

That’s what Bar-B-Que means to me: good family, good food, and good fun.

4. What is your favorite summer food?

My favorite summer food is cold fried chicken. It brings up wonderful memories of family vacations. Mama would get up early on the morning we’d leave and fry a chicken and out it in the cooler. When lunch time rolled around, we’d stop and eat the fried chicken cold with potato chips and a Coke.

As for overall summer foods, I tend to like colder more refreshing dishes, such as sushi or even a pasta salad. There is a particular bacon and ranch pasta salad I love to make with chicken, broccoli and carrots added to it that is so filling, yummy and refreshing.

I also love a good cold sandwich. When I lived in Mississippi there was a little restaurant called the Spicy Pickle. I used to love to get their sandwich called The Med which had chicken, feta, kalamata olives, cucumber, pepperoncini, red onion, lettuce, tomato, Greek dressing served on ciabatta bread (I always requested no olives or tomatoes though). Served with a cold spicy pickle spear, a bag of chips or pasta salad and a sweet tea and you had a wonderful and refreshing lunch. Sadly, the location in Mississippi closed and the closest location is now Houston, TX, but luckily, the sandwich is easy to replicate.

5. Are you is swim suit shape yet?

No, I’m not, but who the fuck cares. We have the bodies we have and we should take pride in them. I plan to work on getting in swim suit shape this summer, but it’s not a quick process.

6. Given the choice, which do you prefer: ocean, lake or pool?

I prefer a pool. Lakes and rivers are full of snakes. I hate snakes. The ocean has sand, which gets in a lot of unpleasant places. The pool is clean and refreshing. So I prefer the pool. Don’t get me wrong though, I do love to go to the beach, but the pool is also much closer.

7. Which summer blockbuster movie are you most looking forward to seeing?

“Maleficent,” the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty,” sounds the most promising. (I’m also hoping to see Captain America and Spider-Man 2.) The description of “Maleficent” sounds like a good movie:

A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.

8. Summer reading: What? Recommendations?

To begin with, I plan to read Country Mouse and City Mouse by Amy Lane, The Romano and Albright books by LB Gregg, and Husband Material and The Accidental Cupid by Xavier Mayne. Once I get those read, I will probably read the Maze Runner series.

As for recommendations, I would suggest the two Brandt and Donnelly mysteries by Xavier Mayne, Frat House Troopers and Wrestling Demons. The Men of Smithfield collection by LB Gregg is also a fun read. I tend to suggest light reading over the summer.

I might read some more serious books over the summer, such as the newest Donna Leon book, By the Book, which I am currently reading. Maybe even a good history or two if I come across one.

9. Vacation Plans? If you can’t, what would you do if you could?

Besides the cruise next week, I am tentatively planning maybe a trip to South Carolina and/or possibly a trip to Orlando. I’ve also considered a trip to St. Louis over the summer. It’s halfway between where a dear friend of mine lives and where I live.

If I could choose anywhere to go on vacation during the summer and money was not a problem, I’d love to go to Europe. I have a friend touring Norway right now, and the pictures he’s sent me back look beautiful. However, if I had my first choice, it would be Italy or Greece. I’d also love to go visit a dear friend of mine in Hawaii. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I’ve only heard great things about it.

10. Did you ever have to go to summer school?

Um, no. I’m The Closet Professor. It should be implied that I never had to attend summer school. However, during graduate school, I did sometimes take summer classes, and I’m officially one of the teachers qualified to teach summer school at the high school where I teach.

BONUS
Sex on the beach?

I think it’s a tasty drink.

And if you want real sex on the beach, you might want to try Pensacola Gay Memorial Day Weekend 2014.

Florida’s westernmost city, Pensacola is near the tip of the state’s northwest panhandle and has long had a reputation as a religiously conservative Navy town as well as a popular family resort area. If this doesn’t sound like an obvious destination for gay and lesbian travelers, it isn’t – at least most of the year. But in late May, during Memorial Day weekend, Pensacola is the site of one of the nation’s larger GLBT gatherings, a combination gay circuit party and regional gay pride event. The dates of the four-day Gay Memorial Day Weekend party are May 22 to May 26, 2014, and as many as 150,000 attendees from throughout the South are expected to attend this year, which features some brand-new parties and events in Pensacola Beach.

Here’s a look at 2014 Pensacola Memorial Day Weekend – check out the official calendar of events for more details:

As it has for many years, the city’s popular – and very fun – gay nightclub, Emerald City (406 E. Wright St., 850-433-9491), hosts a series of Pensacola Memorial Weekend parties, beginning on Thursday night and lasting until Monday evening (these include everything from the opening party on Thursday to an underwear party later in the weekend).

The main daytime events are the Splash Beach Fest celebration, held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am until 7 pm at an 11,000-square-foot pavilion in Pensacola Beach at Park East, a little over a mile east of Portofino Resort and Spa. Admission is free (you must be over 18), and guests are advised to bring tents, cabanas, and beach gear, but food, cocktails, and beer will be available. Each of these three days, there are parties during the day led by top DJs. The biggest nighttime event is be Saturday night’s WAVE Beach Party – it takes place from 10 pm until 4 in the morning. You can purchase tickets to WAVE Beach Party online or in person at the gate or the Memorial Day Weekend welcome center.

Pensacola’s other fun gay bars (such as the Roundup and The Cabaret), restaurants, hotels, and shops fill up with gay folks during Memorial Day weekend. The organizers of the Emerald City parties have GLBT-friendly hotel information on Pensacola (preferred properties include the Hilton Pensacola Beach, Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach, Paradise Inn Pensacola, and Pensacola Beach RV Resort), and you can also find more GLBT information on the region at Gay Grassroots Northwest Florida. Other resources of note include New Orleans-based Ambush Magazine.

For basic travel and tourism information on the region, you can also look to the Pensacola Bay Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. But think of his organization as a general guide to the area, not as a supporter of the event – the organization makes no mention of the Memorial Day Weekend party on its site, nor does it provide any information specifically geared to gay and lesbian visitors.


Tolerance

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The following is excerpted from Suzanna Danuta Walters’s article for the Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Incomplete Rainbow.” Suzanna Danuta Walters is a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University. Her new book is The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions Are Sabotaging Gay Equality, just published by New York University Press. She offers and interesting and thought provoking look at the meaning of tolerance. After reading it, I had to share it. This is not the whole review article, which can be found at: “The Incomplete Rainbow.”

In contemporary times, we speak of a tolerance to something as the capacity to endure continued subjection to it (a plant, a drug, a minority group) without adverse reactions. We speak of people who have a high tolerance for pain or worry about a generation developing a tolerance for a certain type of antibiotic because of overuse. In scientific usage, it refers to the allowable amount of variation of a specified quantity—the amount let in before the thing itself alters so fundamentally that it becomes something else and the experiment fails. So tolerance almost always implies or assumes something negative or undesired or even a variation contained and circumscribed.

It doesn’t make sense to say that we tolerate something unless we think that it’s wrong in some way. To say you “tolerate” homosexuality is to imply that homosexuality is bad or immoral or even just benignly icky, like that exotic food you just can’t bring yourself to try. You are willing to put up with, to tolerate, this nastiness, but the toleration proves the thing (the person, the sexuality, the food) to be irredeemably nasty to begin with.

Tolerance is not an embrace but a resigned shrug or, worse, that air kiss of faux familiarity that barely covers up the shiver of disgust.

But here’s the rub: If there is nothing problematic about something—say, homosexuality—then there is really nothing to tolerate. We don’t speak of tolerating great sex or a good book or a sunshine-filled day. We do, however, take pains to let others know how brave we are when we tolerate the discomfort of a bad back or a nasty cold. We tolerate the agony of a frustratingly banal movie that our partner insisted on watching and are thought the better for it. We tolerate, in other words, that which we would rather avoid. Tolerance is not an embrace but a resigned shrug or, worse, that air kiss of faux familiarity that barely covers up the shiver of disgust.

———————-

Tolerance is not just a low bar; it actively undercuts robust integration and social belonging by allowing the warp and woof of anti-gay animus to go unchallenged. Tolerance allows us to celebrate (hysterically) the coming out of macho professional athletes as a triumphant sign of liberation rather than a sad commentary on the persistence of the closet and the hold of masculinist ideals. Tolerance allows religious “objections” to queer lives to remain in place, even as it claims that a civilized society leaves its homos alone. Tolerance pushes for marriage equality and simultaneously assures anxious allies that it won’t change their marriages or their lives.

And there you see the crux of the tolerance trap: If an ostensible concession doesn’t challenge straight lives, it’s not very radical, and if it does challenge them, it’s not a concession gays and lesbians will win. The marriage assurances are similar to gay responses to right-wing attacks on queer parents: Researchers and advocates argue that “no harm” is done to our kids, that there is no difference between gay and straight parenting. But couldn’t we imagine the strong case? Shouldn’t we argue, instead, that our progeny would/could grow up with more expansive and creative ways of living gender and sexuality? Shouldn’t we argue that same-sex marriage might make us all think differently about the relationship between domestic life and gender norms and push heterosexuals to examine their stubborn commitment to a gendered division of labor?

Difference does, well, make a difference. But when difference is erased in the quest to make us more tolerable to those heterosexuals who get to do the tolerating, when the messiness and fluidity of sexual desire and identity are put into the straitjacket of biological inevitability, when queer challenges to gender rules and regulations are morphed into nuptial sameness, and when queer freedoms are reduced to the right to wed, we all lose out. President Obama’s moving second Inaugural Address links Stonewall to the great lineage of American social movements. But then it modifies that sweep by signifying those rights as marital: “For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” The history of Stonewall and other queer riots and rebellions is then reduced, dulled, narrowed.

Americans are rightfully outraged at Kremlin-style homophobia and horrified by the possibility of death sentences and flogging in several African countries. But we would do well to take a closer look into our own “tolerant” heart. Much has changed in America. Dedicated community activists, gender-bending queer youth, and even some of us retro radicals a bit long in the tooth do often sidestep the (almost) all-encompassing discourse of tolerance and immutability. But the time for easy celebration is not yet here. Anti-gay animus is not a remnant of a transcended past, nor is it the province of passé nations “over there.” It runs through our cultural waterways in pure red, white, and blue. The road to a real Oz is still littered with land mines, and Dorothy’s rainbow seems more and more like a dream deferred.


Sheathed

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“Sheathed”
By Sabrina Miller

Sometimes I forget to breathe.
What will not reach my voice
Shimmers with fury in my eyes.
I open the dusty cupboards
Holding thoughts upon their shelves.
Inward. Incessantly inward.
The fulcrum of confession
Keeps the ingredients in place.
I dare not move them.
It is but illusion.
I start again.

The roots of this emotion
Dig deeper and deeper,
Pooling in chasms of liquid;
Just because I want it.
Just because I let it.
It reaches the very core of me.
I confront the frustration
Of what I cannot speak
As reason imprisons my words.
Not yet…

It takes me by the trembling hand
Teaching me to understand.
It validates the prior view
Before I could conceive of you.
Depth synchronized.
Veiled and shaded,
Over anticipated,
It snapped in loaded tension.
The resplendent flight
Of this will, this light,
Builds a bridge across the fracture.

You crawl upon the chambered web,
Closer – quieter – closer.
What awaits the center?
The silvery fibers;
Distortions of age;
A poet’s cognitions
On an intimate page?
Pointing at my picket fence
While your fortress casts its shadow
Across the untouched valleys.
Inward, deeper still,
I forge my way across the hill.
In constant quest;
My truths – undressed,
Returning silence to its sheathe.
And sometimes I forget to breathe.

About the Poet
Love is the essence of pure thought.
There is nowhere that this thought is not.

Sabrina Miller is a dreamer and a poet navigating the creative waters of inspiration. She grew up in a small, conservative community in Oklahoma, just beyond several gypsum plateaus and miles of desert sand. Miller began writing poetry when she was 11 and never stopped. Words formulated a stream of consciousness that acted as a mental and emotional schematic to help her sort out and understand her experiences. Braving snakes, aggressive dogs, religion, homophobia, isolation and renegade tumbleweeds, she decided to make a major life change. Miller relocated to the Catskills to answer the call of creativity. With a deep sense of appreciation for the therapeutic and consciousness-raising qualities of art, she hopes to help others by documenting her experiences through words and imagery. She has been working with a group called Inspire Art (created by musician, Sarah Fimm) for a few years and am currently expanding poetry into video projects.

You can find more of Sabrina Miller’s poetry at her Tumblr blog, Sparkled Poetics.


The Beginning of Summer

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Being a teacher (and living in Alabama), summer starts for me before the actual date of June 21. In fact, summer will begin for me this Friday. We have exams this week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, with a teacher workday on Thursday. Then I will be out of school for the summer. I will have more time to explore a budding relationship more and see how well it progresses, which I am very excited about. This summer holds so much promise, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Next Monday, I will be leaving on a cruise for five days with my mother. I am very excited. Going with my mother was not my ideal vacation, but she had planned to take one with her sister, but this is the sister who died the day I was scheduled to leave on my cruise back in January. My sister is pregnant and wasn’t able to go (she’s due to have my nephew in July), and Daddy said that he would never go on another cruise. So Mama and I are taking this cruise together. I think it will be a nice way to start my summer.

After that, I’m not so sure what I will be doing all summer, but I’m looking forward to it.


The Way of Love

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Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Real love is not proven through spectacular performances. Rather, it is demonstrated in much smaller things we do in everyday life: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

This is a description of God himself, and this is the life that the Father, Son, and Spirit enjoy with one another. This is the life God wants us to enjoy forever—and the life he wants us to have now, as well.

Love “does not dishonor others,” Paul says. “It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” God encourages us to participate in this life now: freed of selfishness, fits of anger and grudges.

The reason that God wants us to live this way is because this is the way God already is. He does not keep a record of wrongs—he has already forgiven us for everything we’ve done. He does not tell us to do something he has not already done himself.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Unfortunately, we often fail. Paul is describing a way that we, of ourselves, cannot achieve. But Christ in us has already achieved it, and God wants us to participate with Christ in his perfect life by trusting him and letting him live in us.


Moment of Zen: Clothes on the Floor

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Americans Say Yes To Gay Athletes … Until They Kiss

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Americans say they’re ready for openly gay players, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted after Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team. But the survey also found lingering discomfort with gay athletes publicly celebrating in a way that straight athletes routinely do.

According to the new poll, 60 percent of Americans said they would approve of their favorite sports team signing an openly gay player, while 20 percent said they would disapprove. Among NFL fans in particular, 65 percent said they would approve and 21 percent said they would disapprove.

The year has seen breakthroughs in two major American sports leagues, with Sam being drafted by the St. Louis Rams last Saturday and Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay NBA player when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets in February.

But although most Americans approve of gay players in theory, many are less comfortable with the reality. Male athletes kissing their wives or girlfriends is routine territory for networks covering victory and other sporting celebrations, but coverage of Sam’s kissing his boyfriend after he was drafted has generated controversy. Forty-seven percent in the new poll said it was “inappropriate” for networks to show the kiss, while only 36 percent said it was “appropriate.” Seventeen percent said they weren’t sure.

The survey likewise found a major generational divide. Americans under age 30 had no problem with coverage of the kiss, by a 55 percent to 29 percent margin. Those between ages 30 and 44 were evenly divided: 40 percent said it was appropriate; 39 percent said it was inappropriate. And a majority of older Americans said it was inappropriate, including 52 percent of those between ages 45 and 64, and 69 percent of those 65 and older.

The kiss between Sam and his boyfriend may have been particularly heartfelt because they had to wait for it: He was the 249th pick in the seventh round of the draft. But those who said they follow the sport were more likely than not to say that Sam got a fair shake. Thirty-four percent of NFL fans said he was drafted at about the right time based on talent alone. Nineteen percent said he was drafted later than he should have been. Only 9 percent said he was drafted earlier than he should have been, while 38 percent said they didn’t know enough to judge.

However, the SEC is one of the, if not the best, conferences in college football. Since the SEC began giving the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2003, all winners but Chad Lavalais (the first SEC Defensive Player of the Year and also two years older than most NFL draftees), DeMeco Ryans (a second round draft pick), and Michael Sam (a seventh round draft pick) have all been first round draft picks, including Sam’s co-Defensive Player of the Year for the SEC C. J. Mosley. Sam should have been a first round draft pick, yet he was one of the last players drafted, and it’s not because he got a “fair shake” but because he was gay.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning sounded off on Michael Sam’s headline-making news as part of an interview with HuffPost Live this week. As to how his Giants teammates would’ve reacted if Sam had been drafted by that team, Manning said, “We have a great locker room, and I think the most important thing … you’re drafted a football player. That’s all we care about in the locker room.”

Noting that “what you do outside in your personal life is up to you,” Manning added, “I was excited for [Sam]. This is a gentleman who’s been through a lot … I’m wishing Michael all the best in having a successful career.”

Way to go, Eli, you always show more class than your brother Peyton. I think the Rams will be lucky to have Sam as a player as any team would be and should have realized. They certainly need some good players at the Rams.


Changes

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My life seems to be going through a lot of changes right now. I have a new potential boyfriend, actually, I’m pretty sure it’s more than just potential. I have only met a few people in my life that seems to complete me like he does.

There are three men in my life who mean the world to me and help to complete me. There is one man who I have been friends with for a few years now. He lives far away, but has been a life saver many times. He is a truly good man, who I love dearly, even if I don’t get to talk to him but about once a week now. The second man is one that I’ve known about seven or eight months. He’s cute, handsome, sexy, intelligent, kindhearted, sweet, and loving. He’s every man’s dream man, and someone already has his heart. I’m so proud of him, that my heart wants to burst with pride. I love him so much. The third is the new man in my life. Have you ever met that one person that seems to complete you? He makes me laugh, he loves my smile, and he puts me at ease. I’m pretty sure I’m falling in love. I’ve never met someone that I had this level of a connection with.

But things are changing in my life and the lives of these three men.


Dorothy Parker

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As Dorothy Parker once said in response to a letter from her editor asking for more stories during her honeymoon:

I’ve been too fucking busy – or vice versa.

And I will just leave that as that for today, but I will tell you that I’m walking a bit funny.


In Paths Untrodden

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Calamus [In Paths Untrodden]
Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892

In paths untrodden,
In the growth by margins of pond-waters,
Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,
From all the standards hitherto publish’d, from the
pleasures, profits, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed my soul,
Clear to me now standards not yet publish’d, clear to me
that my soul,
That the soul of the man I speak for rejoices in comrades,
Here by myself away from the clank of the world,
Tallying and talk’d to here by tongues aromatic,
No longer abash’d, (for in this secluded spot I can respond
as I would not dare elsewhere,)
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet
contains all the rest,
Resolv’d to sing no songs to-day but those of manly
attachment,
Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing hence types of athletic love,
Afternoon this delicious Ninth-month in my forty-first
year,
I proceed for all who are or have been young men,
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.

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Thomas Eakins’ The Swimming Hole

Thomas Eakins made several on-site oil sketches and photographic studies before painting The Swimming Hole. It is unknown whether the photographs were taken before the oil sketches were produced or vice versa (or, indeed, whether they were created on the same day).

By the early 1880s, Eakins was using photography to explore sequential movement and as a reference for painting. Some time in 1883 or 1884, he photographed his students engaged in outdoor activities. Four photographs of his students swimming naked in Dove Lake have survived (one is at the top of this post), and bear a clear relationship to The Swimming Hole. The swimmers are seen in the same spot and from the same vantage point, although their positions are entirely different from those in the painting. None of the photographs closely matches the poses depicted in the painting; this was unusual for Eakins, who typically adhered closely to his photographic studies. “The divergence between these sets of images may hint at lost or destroyed pictures, or it may tell us that the photographs came first, before Eakins’ mental image had crystallized, and before the execution of his first oil sketch.” The poses in the photographs are more spontaneous, while those of the painting are deliberately composed with a classical “severity”. Although no photographic studies have survived that would suggest a more direct connection between the photographs and the painting, recent scholarship has proposed that marks incised onto the canvas and later covered by paint indicate that Eakins made use of light-projected photographs


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