Thursday, June 30, 2005

"We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality."

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

First Canada joined the illustrious company of the Netherlands and Belgium. Now Spain, of all places.

I think you can safely say that the Catholic Church is reaping the rewards of its collusion with Franco. It just goes to show you that sometimes the church can be a force for good. Unintentionally, of course.

Go, Spain! Go, the gays!

Wait, that's me...

The Swedish words for the day are Kanada and Spanien. They are, of course, what Swedes call Canada and Spain.

- by Francis S.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I wondered how long it would take to come to this: "Military looks to end ban on gay soldiers amid recruiting slump."

When you suddenly can't get anyone else to join up and go get killed in Iraq, it's time to let in The Gays, and let them tell whatever and whoever they want because really they're okay after all.

If you're talking cannon fodder, that is. (I suppose machine gun slash bomb fodder would be more accurate.)

The Swedish word for the day is soldat. It means soldier.

- by Francis S.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Operation Yellow Elephant.

Do your part. Get a College Republican to enlist.

Brought to you by Jesus' own general, JC Christian.

- by Francis S.
Tomorrow, the Swedish year reaches it highest point: Midsummer Eve. The entire nation sits down, mostly in rainy weather somewhere out in the countryside at a country house painted rusty red, chowing down on pickled herring, new potatoes, hard bread and cheese. And schnapps, lots of schnapps, followed by dancing around a kind of Maypole covered in birch leaves and sporting wreaths of flowers. You are supposed to get drunk, and then waltz to accordian music out on a jetty sometime after midnight, the sun waiting just below the horizon and smudging the edge of the sky a rusty orange. You stagger to bed at 2:30 or so, just as the sun is rising.

We're going out to the archipelago, as usual. I hope that through some miracle it doesn't rain. But I suppose it doesn't matter, we'll have fun whether the sun shines or not.

The Swedish phrase for the day is trevlig midsommar. It means happy midsummer.

- by Francis S.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Frank's muscular body blocks the sun from my eyes, and I see Nancy standing about ten feet away, examining a rhododendron with the Gorham Buttercup magnifying glass her mother bought her for her birthday. She won't even need to register when she gets married.

Nancy looks up from her sleuthing, glances at me with pity. And more: anger, jealousy, lust. But what she says when she opens her mouth is, "The Countess de Lave has been here. Those are her tracks. See? Only Bugattis have that kind of axle variation on a right turn."

Bullshit, like most of what Nancy says.

Frank is still leaning over me, but his hand is limp. He whispers, "I know, Joe. I know." I breathe him in one more time and he closes the trunk again.


You know who got me into this whole weblog thing? It was the extraordinary Jonno D'Addadario, who mostly edits Fleshbot these days, writing rarely in his blog anymore. Anyway, I read Jonno's blog and I was filled with the same peculiar jealous longing I had when I was five years old and looking at a photograph of Michelangelo's statue of David in one of my parents' art books: I wanted to be him and have him. Well, not exactly, more like I wanted to write like Jonno, and I wanted to actually know him as well.

Anyway, the above parody of a Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novel was written by Jonno's boyfriend, Richard, proprieter of Sturtle. I read it and I thought: I want to write like that, I want to know him.

The question is, how do you keep your writing so fresh, so funny, so always entertaining, Richard?

The Swedish word for the day is avund. It means envy.

- by Francis S.

Monday, June 20, 2005

"There are those extremists who say that if a gay person were on fire you would burn in hell if you spit on them to put out the fire. But we're not like that. We love the human being. It's the lifestyle we disagree with." Rick Bowers, Defend Maryland Marriage, in the New York Times.

Well, of course God thinks spitting on gay people is a good thing! Rick Bowers and the people of Defend Maryland Marriage do it every day. Metaphorically, at least, since they probably don't get as much opportunity as they'd like to do it literally.

Nothing about this article in the New York Times magazine is in the least bit surprising. Including the citations of Sweden as a hotbed of out-of-wedlock births (will a researcher please look at the number of Swedish children living with both parents, whether married or unmarried, and compare it to the same percentage in the States, pretty please?) and a country where, because of its partnership laws, apparently, marriage has been destroyed.

What I want to know is how many people out there think being gay is bad. Do the majority of Marylanders think it's a good thing that the governor of Maryland vetoed a bill that would have given gay people the right to make medical decisions for their partners? (The reason for the veto, according to the New York Times, was that the bill created a new term - "life partner" - that "could lead to the erosion of the sanctity of traditional marriage.")

I've got to hand it to all these "Christians." They do understand that at heart, this is all about accepting homosexuality as something that may not be the norm, but is a normal part of the range of human behavior, something that their sons and daughters might learn is not shameful and the route to damnation but a part of life, and a good part at that. Sadly, some of these "Christians" are willing to do their own children great harm for the cause, as this poor kid has found out.

The Swedish word for the day is vansinnig. It means crazy.

- by Francis S.

Monday, June 13, 2005

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

I don't know exactly why, but I think that might be my favorite line from a story. Flannery O'Connor, full of grace but so very unsparing, must surely guard the gate to heaven. For those who believe in heaven, that is. Me, I'm not so keen on the whole heaven and hell thing.

Now, go amuse yourselves with something odd, literary and vaguely fun.

The Swedish word for the day is tänder. It means teeth.

- by Francis S.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Last night, moments after I had just drifted off to sleep, the husband woke me up.

"She took it off," he said.

By "she" he meant the little cat, by "it" he meant the Elizabethan collar she had been fitted with to compensate for her newly removed female parts. Well, not really to compensate, more to prevent her from gnawing the stitches away so that she'd need to have a second operation to fix the first.

For good and, mostly, for bad, the husband can hear a pin drop out on Odenplan, the big open plaza outside our window. Somehow, in his sleep he'd heard that the little cat was doing something she wasn't supposed to.

I grunted.

Unfortunately, her owners and our current lodgers, A., the TV producer and C., the fashion photogapher, were sleeping way out in the far suburbs somewhere, so we felt an obligation to try and get the collar back on her by ourselves.

Thirty minutes, three puncture wounds and four scratches, one dollop of catfood and a bloody towel later, the score was little cat: two; Francis and the husband: zero.

Looking at my sore hand, I wondered about that ancient Internet axiom - "every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten" - and thought to myself that there are simply not enough people fulfilling their onanistic obligations.

At 2 a.m., we called A., who told us she would be right over.

So, the husband and I sat in our bathrobes in the dining room, with the chairs pulled out this way and that, an empty cat dish, and two sleeping cats.

"There's something wrong with that cat," the husband said.

When A. arrived a half hour later, with C. at her heels, she picked up the little cat, sat on a chair, and slipped the collar on without even the smallest bit of protest, not even the tiniest softest miaow.

"Beyotch," the husband said. "You should call her beyotch."

The Swedish word for the day is kattunge. It means kitten.

- by Francis S.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A favorite scene from last week's graduation party for the daughter of C., the fashion photographer: Two 17-year-old boys sit next to each other, one of them grabs a camera. "Oh, oh, take a picture of us!" he begs the mother of the other boy. They throw their arms around each other's shoulders. "Oh, oh, with a kiss!" the boy says to his best friend's mother taking the photograph. He kisses his best friend on the cheek. "No, on the lips, on the lips!" the mother says. They kiss rapturously on the lips, even though neither of them has the least sexual interest in each other, or any other boys for that matter. At least as far as I can tell.

This is what happens when your mother's best friends are a pair of dykes, and your father's best friends are a couple of great big homos.

This is what gives the Christian right the heebie-jeebies.

This is what I call progress.

The Swedish word for the day is studenten. It's the word the Swedes use to refer to graduation from gymnasium, and all its attendant festivities.

- by Francis S.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The lilacs are blooming in the dooryards again. White and pinkish and light purple and deep purple, bushes and hedges and even what could rightly be called trees, the air so perfumed it almost sticks to your insides when you breathe in deeply. I've never seen a place that has such a blessing of lilacs as Stockholm.

The Swedish word for the day is syrener, which means lilacs of course, an easy word to remember if one associates it with the original sirens.

- by Francis S.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Last week I assigned a story that involved five reporters in five cities (Buenos Aires, Istanbul, London, New York and Tokyo, to be precise), and I asked them to take polaroid pictures as part of the assignment: I wanted the photos to look like they were taken by the same photographer, and all polaroid photos have that same strange underwater look, the colors a bit thick and not quite right, the depth murky. I love the way polaroids look.

But, it turns out that almost no one had polaroid cameras, and they couldn't even find people to borrow them from. Worse, they couldn't even find a polaroid camera to buy.

The polaroid camera is apparently an endangered species, collateral damage from the digital picture boom, no doubt.

Sad, that. I had no idea.

The Swedish word for the day is försvunnit. It means lost.

- by Francis S.