Kenneth Sutton's aide-mémoire

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An exciting development

March 6th, 2014 · Comments Off

Getty images is making part of its collection available for embedding, as demonstrated below. Sadly, this image was the second result for the search term “domestic cat.”

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Symmetrical me

February 15th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Inspired by the creations of Alex John Beck, I decided to photoshop two symmetrical versions of my face. (Click to embiggen.)

P1000570symmetricalRIGHT500 P1000570_500 P1000570symmetricalLEFT500lighter

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Thanksgiving miscellany

November 28th, 2013 · Comments Off

All my shirts and most of my outerwear are from Eddie Bauer and I have to say I was disgusted to find out from a marketing email today that there are Eddie Bauer stores that will be open this evening. I’m grateful for the so-called blue law in Massachusetts that prohibits some kinds of business on Thanksgiving Day. Kudos to Apple Inc., BJ’s Wholesale Club, TJ Maxx, Costco, Nordstrom, and other retailers who have chosen as companies to be closed today.

I reflected this morning before I got out of bed how very fortunate I am to have a safe, warm place to live; plenty (arguably too much!) food; employment that, while sometimes frustrating, is never boring and makes good use of my abilities; good health insurance and medical ailments that can be cured or for which there are effective maintenance drugs; happy memories of a loving mother and a good relationship with an elderly father.

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Palm Springs

November 1st, 2013 · Comments Off

I’ve just had a very nice visit to family in my hometown, and now have an evening in Palm Springs before flying home tomorrow. Sadly, I didn’t know it’s Pride weekend here, or I might have stayed through Monday.

Because of Pride, the last place I stayed was full, so I just went for cheap. The first Motel 6 I checked online was also full, but there’s a second one, which I booked. It happens to be right next to the Ace Hotel (a hipster chain based in Portland), and so I’m currently awaiting a burger (made from a happy cow) and drinking a Babe’s Vanilla Blonde draft beer.



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Mystic River on a Fall afternoon

October 20th, 2013 · Comments Off


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October 16th, 2013 · Comments Off

A satisfying dish made of “Gimme Lean” sausage, cabbage, apples, and an onion fried in a little olive oil. The soy protein gets the sausage flavor right, and the texture is okay. I need to brown it more next time, though.


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The Terrace

October 13th, 2013 · Comments Off

Turkey, avocado, cheddar, red onion, garlic mayo, and greens on sourdough focaccia. At Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square. Yum!

Sandwich is gone, but there’s a nice pattern of sunlight on the flagstone floor:


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Berlioz, Haydn, Respighi, Rossini

October 9th, 2013 · Comments Off

New England Conservatory Symphony (a cast of thousands), David Loebel, conductor

Hector Berlioz, Chasse royale et Orage

Franz Joseph Haydn, Symphony No. 102 in B-flat Major

Ottorino Respighi, Fontane di Roma

Gioacchino Rossini, Overture to William Tell

And you can listen to it online.

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Britten, Verdi, Mozart

October 7th, 2013 · Comments Off

I’m trying to put into action an insight from last year’s sabbatical: I love music, and there’s lots of it here in Boston—some of it even free! First up, New England Conservatory’s “First Mondays” concert series.

Benjamin Britten, Nocturnal after John Dowland, op. 70. Eliot Fisk, guitar Listen here.

Giuseppe Verdi, Quartet in E Minor. James Buswell, Gabriela Diaz, violin; Dimitri Murrath, viola; Laurence Lesser, cello

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Quintet in G Minor, K. 516. Miriam Fried, Paul Biss, violin; Dimitri Murrath, Mai Motibuchi, viola; Laurence Lesser, cello

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What Bert and Ernie mean to me

June 28th, 2013 · 1 Comment

The July 8 & 15, 2013 cover of The New Yorker features Bert and Ernie relaxing together on a couch, cuddling while viewing the Supreme Court justices on TV. Although one can argue that it is ambiguous (and I have, largely as a devil’s advocate), it is a commentary on the Supreme Court decisions this week about marriage equality, and is entitled “Moment of Joy.”

On one level, Bert and Ernie mean nothing to me, because I was too old for Sesame Street when it came along. I have no fond childhood memories. I haven’t seen any of the Muppet movies. I remember watching the Muppet Show on TV, I think, but I’m not sure Bert and Ernie were even on it.

But as an observer of popular culture, if not always a participant, I know that Bert and Ernie are both guys, that they are always mentioned together, and that they are roommates. At some point, I became aware that some people thought they were gay, and that some people started a petition for them to get married, to which the Sesame Street people responded by saying they’re just friends, meant to be models of how people who are different from one another can still be close friends. They also said that they are just puppets, without sexual orientation.

Well, be that as it may, Miss Piggy and Kermit, also “just puppets” certainly have a sexual orientation. I think it’s legitimate to consider that Bert and Ernie may have a sexual orientation, even in light of the Sesame Street people’s protestations.

Puppets are screens upon which we project what we need or want, individually. The creator doesn’t own, and cannot dictate, my projections onto the puppets.

I can see, but do not feel, the objections by some that a universal friendship is being forced to become particular. (I have a long aside about the parallelism of Ruth’s words to Naomi being sexualized by those who use them in marriages, which is actually just a rhetorical feint, so I’ll only mention it in passing.)

What I see is that Bert and Ernie, in the context of the Supreme Court of the United States saying that marriages between people of the same gender, lawfully recognized by the various states, must be recognized by the federal government, finally feel comfortable being themselves, being the people they really are, being the people they have always been. It makes me cry gentle tears of joy.

There is a long, long tradition of the heterosexual majority erasing gay and lesbian relationships. Jonathan’s love of David “surpassing the love of women.” The Roman centurion and his slave. No, we can’t say that all Boston marriages were sexual, but it seems entirely unlikely that none of them were romantic. Willa Cather and Edith Lewis. Eleanor Roosevelt and Hick and Tommy. Decades of couples being “just friends.”

It is in this context that I’m offended by those who resist the interpretation promoted by the cover. The worst of the complaints explicitly condemn gay relationships as other, less, or sinful. But even those who celebrate the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry yet are sad that a “universal” symbol is no longer universal are, from my point of view, perpetuating and defending a heterosexist status quo. I totally get that seeing Bert and Ernie as a universal symbol of friendship is a legitimate projection onto them. But resisting a new, and I would say deeper, liberating, symbol feels to me as though my reality is being made, once again, less than, less real than, less important than the heterosexual majority.

So sure, they’re just puppets. But they’re puppets that I can now see myself in, in deeply satisfying and healing ways, and I refuse to allow anyone to make me anything but delighted at seeing them that way.

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