Posts tagged with "musing" - Faerye Net 2011-12-03T15:54:36+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Frozen 2011-12-03T15:54:36+00:00 2012-01-03T16:52:35+00:00 <center><a href="" title="Polar bear cubs. by USFWSAlaska, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="328" border="0" alt="Polar bear cubs."></a></center> <p>So <a href="">Ryan</a> and I have been watching <a href="" target="links"><em>Frozen Planet</em></a>, and I realize I may be a little obsessed.</p> <p>For example, when describing to a hapless class of high school sophomores the other day how language and the exchange of stories allows us to create continuous culture, I said otherwise we would have to learn everything from scratch, &#8220;like baby polar bears emerging from a snow den for the first time.&#8221; Because, you know, that was the obvious metaphor?</p> <p>Or how I drive along thinking about narwhal traffic jams. Or I look at my friends&#8217; dogs and think about how odd it was someone looked at those terrible wolves slavering along after caribou or bison and thought, &#8220;I want one of <em>those</em> in my house!&#8221;</p> <p>I think it&#8217;s the focused nature of this special that makes it stick so much in my mind: not <em>what</em> it&#8217;s about so much as that it&#8217;s about one thing. The <em>Planet Earth</em> series was a collection of dazzling and fascinating sights, but so different they didn&#8217;t leave an overall impression save that of majesty and variety. This is a symphony with overarching themes. It leaves you looking about you for the cycles in your own life, in humans: the frozen winter that gives way, all of a sudden, to a brief, frenetic period of creation and growth. I think how important it is to seize those moments of sunwarmed opportunity and beauty; but also to know that they will, like the summer sun, always come again.</p> On beauty and bridges 2011-08-11T09:35:03+00:00 2011-08-11T09:35:23+00:00 <center><a href="" title="Marquam Bridge (1966) by poetas, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="333" border="0" alt="Marquam Bridge (1966)"></a><br /> <em>Marquam Bridge, photograph by Dave Feucht</a></em></center> <p>When I was young, I remember reading some opinion piece or quote in the <em>Oregonian</em> about the <a href="" target="links">Marquam Bridge</a>: how ugly it was, what an eyesore, a concrete monstrosity. I turned to my mom and asked which bridge that was. She patiently managed to explain it to me, despite the utter ignorance of which freeway was which that I cultivated in those pre-driving days.</p> <p>She had extra difficulty in explaining because I simply didn&#8217;t believe it was ugly. Yes, it&#8217;s notorious for ugliness, I now know. Just in choosing a photo of it on Flickr to illustrate this post I have come across several comments on that score. But I didn&#8217;t agree, and I still don&#8217;t.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s what the Marquam is to me: once you merge onto the top deck, there&#8217;s a curve and a bank and all at once the horizon opens up around you. The city&#8217;s on your left with a progression of pretty bridges, but on a good day you don&#8217;t care at all because on your right is Mount Hood, and ahead is Mount St. Helens, your friendly local volcanoes fresh in white or burned out in grays and blacks on a blue canvas. On a clear day, it takes your breath away. That is a beautiful experience of a bridge.</p> <p>I thought of that admittedly odd perspective recently when I was listening to <em><a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781596914278'>Medicus</a></em>, a historical mystery set in Roman Britain. A British viewpoint character is being asked her name in Latin &#8212; <em>quid nomen tibi est?</em> &#8212; and thinks about how ugly Latin is. Again, I was shocked. Latin, ugly?</p> <p>Well, yes, I suppose it might be. I have only one year&#8217;s formal study of Latin, in addition to some childhood lessons from my Latin teacher grandma and years of singing liturgical Latin. I understand from Latin 101/102 that the way we pronounced Latin in choir was grossly unlikely to be how Romans pronounced it. The hopefully accurate rendering robs it of some of its dignity: <em>kikero</em>, not <em>sisero</em>; <em>weni, widi, wiki.</em> It&#8217;s full of hard noises, abrupt sounds. I suppose I can understand that to that imaginary Briton, it might be ugly. Unlike some of its Romance offspring, you can&#8217;t imagine it being called &#8216;flowing&#8217; and &#8216;musical&#8217;.</p> <p>But to me, even with my imperfect understanding, its a beautiful language. It communicates so effectively, so efficiently: the endings tell you precisely what the word is doing in the sentence, so that you can move the words about for aesthetic or rhetorical effect and lose no meaning. It has a set of assumptions that clip out unnecessary words. It allows for clarity and nuance. It&#8217;s a beautiful machine of a language, even all these years later. It is elegant. It is awesome.</p> <p>Or, you know, it&#8217;s just a concrete double-decker that gets you from one place to another.</p> <p>I suppose I think beauty isn&#8217;t in the eye of the beholder &#8212; it&#8217;s in where she stands.</p> Art Form 2011-08-07T20:27:51+00:00 2011-08-07T20:41:13+00:00 <p>I was looking through the photographs the <a href="" target="links">Metropolitan Museum of Art</a> put online of their exhibit of <a href="" target="links">Alexander McQueen</a> fashion, <a href="" target="links">&#8220;Savage Beauty&#8221;</a> (hat tip <a href="" target="links">Kate Elliott</a>).</p> <center><img src=",VOSS2001.T.jpg"></center> <p>I&#8217;ve been an admirer of some of McQueen&#8217;s designs for a long time. They&#8217;re audacious and challenging. They often combine an element of the familiar with a leap into the wildly alien. I&#8217;m not hugely well-grounded in haute couture, and of course I can hardly fail to have problems with the fashion industry, but McQueen&#8217;s creations are arresting. On the Met&#8217;s blog, the photographs of objects from the <a href="" target="links">wildly popular</a> exhibit are accompanied by quotes from experts and from McQueen himself.</p> <blockquote><a href="" target="links">“My designing is done mainly during fittings. I change the cut.”</a><br /> <br /> <a href="">“I spent a long time learning how to construct clothes, which is important to do before you can deconstruct them.”</a></blockquote> <p>These quotes really struck me, because something I&#8217;d thought as I looked at the photographs was that you can&#8217;t easily imagine a fashion drawing of these pieces. You often see a fashion drawing which is the purest expression of a concept, and then the realized item, which is just a little descended, a little off. These creations of McQueen&#8217;s, love them or hate them, are the real object, the thing itself.</p> <center><img src="" /></center> <p>You&#8217;d be hard pressed to express the essence of <a href="" target="links">this mossy dress</a> as a drawing, or communicate with a sketch the complexity that defines <a href="" target="links">this dress designed from its fabric.</a> And I think part of the power of these things, whether or not you like them as clothing, is that they were made with deep knowledge.</p> <p>Part of any artist&#8217;s craft is having something to say, but another part of it is deep knowledge, passion and application, immersion. Here was someone who knew the shape of his medium intimately, and that mastery shows in the product: we should all aspire to that, as artists, even if we shy away from other aspects of McQueen&#8217;s legacy.</p> <center><img src="" /></center> <p>I was moved once by a <a href="" target="links">craft talk by one of the poetry profs</a> at my grad school, where she talked about memorizing poetry to learn rhythm. When I sum up that talk, the wisdom she conveyed, I think of it as &#8216;eat poetry so that your body is made of it&#8217;. You are what you eat, right? Eat words, eat art, eat poetry and prose &#8212; think about it, be aware of it, be a mindful mouth &#8212; and you can have that knowledge and love in every sinew. You&#8217;ll still be you, just made of your art. That&#8217;s what I aspire to: to be a story elemental with bones made of words.</p> <p>What are you taking in that you want to keep? Out of what are you making yourself?</p> <p><font size="small"><em>Photographs ©Sølve Sundsbø from <a href="">the Met blog</a></em></font></p> How did we get here? 2011-03-22T12:42:20+00:00 2011-03-22T12:50:52+00:00 <p>Yesterday <a href="" target="links">Ryan</a> and I continued our Peter Weir kick (which has <a href="" target="links">already taught me</a> that Australia itself, not just its fauna, wants to eat you) by rewatching <a href="" target="links"><em>The Truman Show</em></a>. In case you don&#8217;t remember, Truman&#8217;s annoying TV-wife does forced, saccharine product-placement bits and nags him to have a kid to complete their suburban-perfection lifestyle. Her character-within-a-character is incredibly conservative, intrinsically conservative in the textbook sense: she functions to keep Truman the same; she is the caretaker of their retro, confined fantasy of a white middle-class heterosexual utopia.</p> <p>And, trying to smooth over Truman&#8217;s accidental glimpse into a backstage area through an elevator door, she tells him about an &#8220;elevator disaster downtown&#8221; caused by &#8220;those non-union workers. Monstrous!&#8221;</p> <p>I have to admit, this threw me for a moment. The climate has turned against unions so fast that this line, from a 1998 movie, seems nonsensical. Sure, thanks to a tip from <a href="" target="links">Camille Alexa</a> I know that <a href="" target="links">Ronald Reagan said unions were a basic right</a>. But in spite of his conservative canonization, Reagan was a while ago. In just 13 years, we&#8217;ve gone from an artificial shill of corporations and conservatism casually lambasting non-union labor to the <span class="caps">GOP</span> trying to break the back of unions across the country.</p> <p>I like to understand why things are happening. We all do: that&#8217;s why conspiracy theories are so popular, because lack of explanation is primally terrifying. But more, as a history nerd and someone who thinks in stories, I want to know how we got here from there. I&#8217;m going to have to read up on it, because it boggles the mind. It seems like a nationwide revolution has been accomplished by sleight-of-hand within my lifetime. How can the wind change so entirely in such a short time? Why is the history of labor in America so often hidden history, when this is a country built by greed and baptized in the sweat of workers?</p> These are a few of my favorite words, Part XVII 2011-03-01T11:43:09+00:00 2011-09-22T16:19:25+00:00 <p>In the course of <a href="" target="links">bearding the beast of biographical blurb</a> yesterday, I found myself using the verb &#8220;to noodle&#8221;. I used it to describe the way I wrote before I buckled down and got serious. I love this word. To me, noodling is joyous, experimental, and yet also careless. It lacks vigor, but its aimlessness gives it a chance for serendipity, for discovery. The word, with its associations of limp pasta and long strings of wiggly spaghetti, is perfect. But I wondered &#8212; was this a word I could expect everyone to know? As I&#8217;ve previously mentioned, the <a href="" target="links">family dialect of the Shoulders</a> is not always comprehensible to the bystander, and I could even trace the lineage of my fondness of &#8220;to noodle&#8221; to my dad, that inveterate word-bender. I consulted the <em><a href="" target="links"><span class="caps">OED</span></a></em>.</p> <p>The verb &#8220;noodle&#8221;, it transpires, has any number of meanings, including the English regional &#8220;To fool around, to waste time&#8221; and the Australian &#8220;To search (an opal dump or ‘mullock’) for opals&#8221;. In the Southern US, it can refer to a low-tech method of catching turtles and fish. Finally, however, the fifth entry yielded what I sought:</p> <blockquote><strong>noodle, <em>v.5</em></strong>: <strong>1.</strong> <em>trans.</em> and <em>intr.</em> Chiefly <em>Jazz</em>. To play or sing (a piece of music) in a tentative, playful, or improvisatory way; (also) to play an elaborate or decorative series of notes. Also <em>fig.</em><br /> <br /> <strong>2.</strong> <em>U.S. colloq.</em><br /> <strong>a.</strong> <em>intr.</em> To think, esp. to reflect or muse in an unproductive or undirected way; to act light-heartedly (also with <em>about, around</em>); (<em>also</em>) to experiment in an informal, tentative manner.<br /> <strong>b.</strong> <em>trans. <strong>to noodle out</strong></em>: to figure out, work out; to devise. <em><strong>to noodle up</strong></em>: to think up (<em>rare</em>).<br /> <strong>c.</strong> <em>trans.</em> To mull over; to think about, ponder. Also with <em>around</em>.</blockquote> <p>How fabulous that this meaning seems to arise from the musical usage! One of the reasons I love the <em><span class="caps">OED</span></em> is that it includes such a wealth of etymology and reference. This is the stuff a word carries around with it. It carries its own history and <span class="caps">DNA</span>, which may register on a reader&#8217;s brain along with the individual connections and memories that that reader carries in his own personal lexicon.</p> <p>How lovely it is to noodle, to be limp and squiggly as cooked spaghetti, adventurous and light-hearted as a jazz clarinetist, free to wander using only (if you&#8217;ll forgive me) the power of your <a href="" target="links">noodle</a>!</p> What makes a good sequel 2011-01-08T22:07:28+00:00 2011-01-14T16:55:59+00:00 <p>In the movie-watching spree that constitutes the Ryan &amp; Felicity holiday tradition, I have recently watched partial or complete arcs of the following movie franchises: <em>Back to the Future</em>, <em>Star Wars</em>, <em>Alien</em>, and <em>Terminator</em>. (Small spoilers only &#8212; and if you&#8217;re not spoiled on this stuff, welcome to my blog!)</p> <p>Early on in this decadent parade of wonders, Ryan remarked to me that <em>Empire Strikes Back</em> is one of the best movie sequels ever. We talked about that and what it does so well. Then, just now, after rewatching the somewhat lackluster <em>Terminator 3</em>, we watched <em>Terminator Salvation</em>. We had been told it was bad. We decided to try it anyway, out of an unusual completionist urge. (I haven&#8217;t watched <em>Alien 3</em> and don&#8217;t plan to, okay?)</p> <p><em>Terminator Salvation</em> was great. Surprisingly tightly plotted. New Skynet tech and types were logical, part of a burgeoning machine ecosystem. It was well acted, full of ties to the original movie and winks at the entire Cameron oeuvre.</p> <p>This has cemented my desire to think (and therefore ramble) about what makes a good sequel (and in part, what does <span class="caps">NOT</span>.)</p> <p>1. <strong>A good sequel expands the universe of the original.</strong> This should be true of a straight sequel, not just the second act of three. Yes, the viewer loved the first one, but if you rehash the same material, some part of them will wonder why they didn&#8217;t just watch it again. <em>Empire Strikes Back</em> took us to new worlds, showed us a hint of the Emperor we&#8217;d only heard of, brought us inside the Imperial Fleet.</p> <p>2. <strong>It stays true to the original.</strong> This is tricky, but to my English-major self that means it develops at least some of the most important themes of the original. <em>Aliens</em> is a different <strong>genre</strong> from <em>Alien</em>, and some might argue not a true sequel, but it&#8217;s still about the same things: conflict between corporate and human interests, the relationship between human and artificial intelligence, social class, et c. It also means you don&#8217;t add a bunch of extraneous new characters that detract from the ones we know and care about.</p> <p>3. <strong>It deepens the characters.</strong> The feelings between Han and Leia, the risk-taking prompted by Marty&#8217;s insecurity, Ripley&#8217;s motherhood&#8230;these are things that didn&#8217;t exist in the first story, but don&#8217;t contradict it. They breathe new meaning retroactively into the first story while using the increased space granted by success (a necessary condition for sequels) to increase the emotional attachment of the audience.</p> <p>4. <strong>It follows through.</strong> If we were promised post-apocalyptic guerilla warfare, give it to us. If you hung a craft full of alien eggs on the wall like Chekhov&#8217;s gun, take that sucker down and start firing facehuggers. Don&#8217;t promise &#8220;I&#8217;m going to show these people what you don&#8217;t want them to see&#8230;.A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries.&#8221; and then ignore those people to have boring fisticuffs with infinite agents instead.</p> <p>5. <strong>It rewards the audience&#8217;s fidelity.</strong> This is perhaps the riskiest part. See number 1 &#8212; don&#8217;t rehash. The peril of the sequel, especially in action movies, is doing the same thing over, but bigger and fancier. Catch phrases become atrophied, meaningless, a string of checkboxes or gotcha moments. Chases become an obligation, not a thrill. The script serves the formula rather than the story. We didn&#8217;t need to see the T-101 shoot up a bunch of cop cars and smugly calculate 0 human casualties in T3. It was something we&#8217;d already seen, but shorn of the context that made it relevant in T2. A good reference is something that makes sense in the new context to someone who hasn&#8217;t seen the referent. If we haven&#8217;t seen <em>Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom</em>, we don&#8217;t scratch our heads in <em>Last Crusade</em> when Indy says &#8220;Fly? Yes. Land? No!&#8221; Obviously it matters whether he can fly a plane, and his incomplete knowledge creates tension and humor. T4 was full of shots, sets and moments that made devoted fans point and grin, but those things served this movie. Rhyme, don&#8217;t repeat.</p> <p>6. <strong>It surprises us.</strong> Keeping your promises doesn&#8217;t mean being predictable. We have expectations now, and you can play with them. Having the T-101 be the good guy in T2 reversed our expectations. (In T3 it was just a bit tired.) It surprised us. It surprised John Connor. It surprised Sarah Connor into an iconic image of surprise (I know I mentally fall down and backpedal against a waxed floor from time to time.) Set up a love triangle, then knock it down with a relative revelation. Make us expect the repeat, then play against it: a formidable swordsman menaces Indy, he reaches for his gun &#8212; but it isn&#8217;t there.</p> <p>Really, what this all boils down to is respecting the original but showing us something new. The <em>Star Wars</em> prequels contradict the originals and depart from their spirit. <em>Star Trek V</em>, among its other sins, takes us past a Galactic Barrier we crossed in the series and acts like that&#8217;s where no man has gone before. This is simple stuff, really, but I imagine that deep in Hollywood, making something complicated and expensive with hundreds of other people, it&#8217;s easy to forget what you&#8217;re really doing. You&#8217;re gathering the children by the fire to tell them a story. They say, &#8220;Tell us another!&#8221; They say, &#8220;What happens next?&#8221;</p> Dickens on post-holiday blues 2011-01-07T17:41:38+00:00 2011-01-07T17:48:42+00:00 <blockquote>Oh these holidays! why will they leave us some regret? why cannot we push them back, only a week or two in our memories, so as to put them at once at that convenient distance whence they may be regarded either with a calm indifference or a pleasant effort of recollection! why will they hang about us, like the flavour of yesterday&#8217;s wine, suggestive of headaches and lassitude, and those good intentions for the future, which, under the earth, form the everlasting pavement of a large estate, and, upon it, usually endure until dinner-time or thereabouts!<br /> <br /> Who will wonder that Barbara had a headache, or that Barbara&#8217;s mother was disposed to be cross, or that she slightly underrated Astley&#8217;s, and thought the clown was older than they had taken him to be last night? Kit was not surprised to hear her say so—not he. He had already had a misgiving that the inconstant actors in that dazzling vision had been doing the same thing the night before last, and would do it again that night, and the next, and for weeks and months to come, though he would not be there. Such is the difference between yesterday and today. We are all going to the play, or coming home from it.<br /> <strong>-The Old Curiosity Shop</strong></blockquote> <p>I myself have been happily free from post-holiday blues this year. Perhaps such equanimity is the curse of growing maturity, for as Dickens&#8217;s closing figure suggests, the descent into melancholy is the obverse of a glorious ascent into joy. I am sure I do not enjoy Christmas nearly so much now as I did when I was a child, for all I do not grieve its going so bitterly.</p> <p>Oddly, in spite of the Christian (culturally so, for <a href="" target="links">I see that it&#8217;s imputed to a medieval abbot</a>, not to Jesus) image of the road to hell&#8217;s paving stones, this passage reminds me of the Buddhist idea of <a href="" target="links">samsara</a>, as I learned it in high school. This churning rise and fall of desire and disappointment, aspiration and disgust, does seem to be cyclical, a bit sad, and oh so human.</p> A timely reminder: this is what we do 2010-12-03T13:28:18+00:00 2010-12-03T13:29:04+00:00 <p>I love reading James Gurney&#8217;s blog, <a href="" target="links">Gurney Journey</a>. (I think <a href="" target="links">Steve</a> tipped me to it originally? If so, thanks, Steve.) I love Gurney&#8217;s work, and I love learning about art and how it works and has worked. Also, I find a lot of cross-disciplinary pollination in the things he talks about. Sometimes it&#8217;s hard to explain how the stuff he says about painting or drawing seems very apt for writing. Sometimes it&#8217;s not.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">Thursday&#8217;s blog post, &#8220;Mutter and Growl&#8221;</a>, about perennial Shoulders family favorite John Singer Sargent. It&#8217;s about his making a lot of noise as he worked, but here&#8217;s the part that really struck me:</p> <blockquote>Another observer noted that he talked to himself: “This is impossible,” Mr. Sargent muttered. “You can’t do it. Why do you try these things? You know it’s hopeless. It can’t be done.” <br /> <br /> Then: “Yes, it can, yes, it can, it can be done—my God, I’ve done it.”</blockquote> <p>I always feel so grateful when I find that cycle of despondency and triumph in master artists, or hear <a href="" target="links">writers whose work I really admire confess to it</a>. It&#8217;s not schadenfreude, it&#8217;s recognition: oh, this is fundamental.</p> <p>When you&#8217;re in it, you feel like the only one. Whether it&#8217;s a small cycle during one session of painting or a big long-form up-and-down, you feel trapped in the solipsistic agony of it. But you&#8217;re not alone. We&#8217;re all down there, toiling our parallel ways out of our oubliettes to stand heedless and triumphant in the light.</p> Coincidental magic 2010-10-08T16:03:22+00:00 2010-10-08T16:05:18+00:00 <p>I&#8217;ve been thinking recently of the roleplaying game <a href="" target="links"><em>Mage: The Ascension</em></a> (don&#8217;t run, non-gamers!) This game and its fellow supernatural-hidden-under-our-world games were big in the 90&#8217;s (hmm&#8230;do RPGs telegraph bestselling novel genres of the next decade?), and Mage was one of my favorites. The premise was basically that the world runs on consensual reality, and magic is only impossible because most humans have been deeply convinced it is. If a strong-willed magic worker manages to do something obviously &#8220;impossible&#8221; (like turn a vampire into a lawnchair) in front of non-supernatural witnesses, the universe smacks the mage down with the force of humankind&#8217;s collective disbelief. The only dodge is to make the magic seem vaguely plausible &#8212; &#8220;coincidental&#8221;, as the game puts it.</p> <p>Why have I been thinking about this? Because I think the internet is upping our collective weirdness tolerance. I personally have seen zombies, and even had them flail against my car (I think they were mad I was laughing instead of frightened.) and the same day witnessed a band of semi-armored zombie-hunters stalking around 11th and Burnside. Improv Anywhere creates <a href="" target="links">temporal folds</a> that only Mages with advanced Time skills could match, not to mention <a href="" target="links">freezing 200 people</a> in a train station.</p> <p>All I&#8217;m saying here is that thanks to the internet, the collective belief of the people is a little more stretchy. Next time you think you might have to turn bullets into butterflies or punch through stone, have a friend bring a videocamera. When you next find yourself fighting zombies in Pioneer Courthouse Square or disassembling the Man&#8217;s robotic minions in full view of a schoolbus, yell &#8220;<strong><span class="caps">FLASHMOB</span></strong>&#8221; first! If people still seem genuinely freaked out, try doing a little bit of the Thriller dance. That should change any bystander from organ of the collective banality and stodginess of the universe to an embarrassed giggler ready to recount this &#8220;weird event&#8221; to their co-workers.</p> <p>Go out there and be magic, people! It&#8217;s totally coincidental.</p> On making a difference 2010-10-04T17:15:01+00:00 2010-10-04T17:15:57+00:00 <p>I <a href="" target="links">tweeted</a> yesterday about a <a href="" target="links">student teacher being reassigned for admitting he&#8217;s gay</a>. It&#8217;s a story that came to my attention <a href="" target="links">through my <span class="caps">RSS</span> reader</a> but, sadly, is local: the district where this student teacher was originally assigned is the one where I went to elementary school.</p> <p>I wrote a letter yesterday, planning to send it to the Superintendent and post it here, but an attack of cynicism shook that intention. There&#8217;s a lot of easy, feel-good (re)activism that goes on here on the interwebs. You submit your name for an online petition, retweet something, and ta-da! You are an activist! Writing one letter is sort of the same thing: drive-by activism. It&#8217;s shallow, brief, and perhaps accomplishes little but puffing up the letter-writer. Some might say one person picking up a pebble, repeated many times, will move a mountain; but it&#8217;s easier to find historical examples of dedicated mountain-movers pushing boulders over years and decades.</p> <p>But on the other hand, this news story isn&#8217;t coming from another state or another country, the vast hinterlands of Elsewhere that filter through webpages and <span class="caps">RSS</span> feeds into our consciousness. This is where I grew up. This district, thanks to the execrable <a href="" target="links">Measure 5</a> (which my family campaigned against while I was matriculating in that school district, and which is why I ultimately left), is underwritten by Portland&#8217;s tax dollar as well as Beaverton&#8217;s.</p> <p>I&#8217;m not endorsing a proximal approach to morality and politics in general, since all too often that means a cozy sort of privileged insulation. But in this case I think it&#8217;s reasonable: perhaps I can&#8217;t make a difference in every case of homophobic discrimination in the world, or even in America, without devoting my life to it. But this is my neighborhood, this is my home. If I <em>don&#8217;t</em> speak out, I&#8217;m letting this be part of my home without protest: my silence says this discrimination is acceptable. (Just like not voting at all is an extra-effective way of voting down taxes and ruining our schools! That&#8217;s a little <a href="">Measure 47</a> joke for the locals.)</p> <p>Perhaps I look a little foolish, and perhaps I&#8217;m an armchair activist. But I&#8217;m printing out my letter, and I&#8217;ll post it here tomorrow. Because this is where I live, and because <span class="caps">LGBT</span> people live here too.</p>