Edible Brownie Santa Hats for your Holiday Party

While looking for some fun ideas to do for holiday parties this year, my catering team and I came up with a very simple idea to do with strawberries, icing and brownies.  We made little Santa Hats with the ingredients and presented them a few different ways to show them off.  As normal, I took all the shots with my iPhone.  If you need the recipe for any of the items, let me know.  I’m happy to share!

Do Unto Others…According to Bears

Immediately after Chic-fil-A decided to remove the Jim Henson Muppet promotion, the moved up The Berenstain Bears promotion of giving out free books with purchase.  The Berenstain family has posted on their website a distancing of the promotion and saying they have no say in this promotion.  It was decided to move forward with it well before this whole anti-gay thing started.

The book being distributed is heavy on the Golden Rule…which seems a little ironic given the situation.  I’ve always loved bears…now I love them even more!

Brother Bear says…Bullies can point out what about you is wrong, but a good friend can show you what about you is strong.

Our Marriage…

Our Marriage...

I love this picture…it’s very brave and I appreciate the couple who took it. Thank you for sharing yourselves this way! I love you guys!

The definition of marriage has changed two times in American history to accommodate changing views and culture.  It can…and will…change again.

It’s only a matter of time…

Of Chicken, Shadows and Roger Whittaker…

I think I’m beginning to get a little better understanding of what is happening on the planet at this time.  All of this talk of gay rights, Christianity and chicken got me so upset over the last week that I seriously began to doubt that we, as a species, would ever really find a way out of this.  It felt hopeless.  I have never felt the level of despair and hopelessness I’ve felt recently.  As bad as it has ever gotten for me and my life, and believe me I’ve had some rotten times mixed into the great stuff, I’ve never ever lost hope that it could get better.  Until I saw how people treated each other this past week.  The things that were said were hurtful on both sides.  All of a sudden you either believed in Jesus Christ and his selected bible passages…or you were a total heathen and deserved death, hatred, or at the very least, to be vilified.

I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life for the most part.  I didn’t have the same experience of coming out as a lot of teenagers and others have had.  My parents accepted me the minute I told them I was gay.  That was at 11 years old.  At 9 years old I remember telling my dad that I was different than the other boys.  I didn’t know why I was different…I just remember liking my boy friends and loved being with them.  My dad and I sat on the floor in my parent’s bedroom and talked about it.  He assured me that there was not a thing wrong with my feelings nor about my feeling different.  He told me it was normal and that it may change, but not to worry about it…just be myself.  Then we listened to music together…Roger Whittaker to be exact.  The song I remember from that time is New World in The Morning.  The lyrics went like this:

Everybody talks about a new world in the morning.

A new world in the morning so they say.

I, myself don’t talk about a new world in the morning.

A new world in the morning, that’s today.

And I can feel a new tomorrow comin’ on.

And I don’t know why I have to make a song.

Everybody talks a bout a new world in the morning.

New world in the morning takes so long.

I’m very appreciative of my parent’s love and acceptance of me.  Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t experience that kind of love like I did.  Whenever I did experience being called a fag or other hateful words intended to hurt me, I paid no attention.  I embraced it for the most part.  If you were going to call me fag or gay, then I’d be the best fag or gay you’d ever met.  It was the ultimate in revenge really.  In Junior High and High School I went so far as to wear makeup to school and dress in crazy clothes.  Luckily it was the 80’s so you could pretty much get away with crazy stuff like that and everybody thought it was cool….mostly.

So here we are in 2012 and arguments are being started, wires are being crossed and a few people are stirring the pot for whatever reason.  It reminded me when I read Plato’s Republic.  The metaphor of the cave in particular, I believe, applies to this situation.  There are a group of people in a cave.  (cave could be interpreted to be life here).  The people inside the cave can only look upon the shadows cast upon the wall of the cave before them. Light comes to them from a great fire burning behind them, higher up, and at a distance. Located between this fire and the people of the cave is a road at a higher level along this road a low wall has been built. Here other people have puppets, which they use to cast the shadows upon the cave wall.

These shadows are given names by the people in the cave, and they consider them to be real things. However anyone outside of the cave in the bright sunlight would no longer see the shadows (or be under the illusion manifested by the puppet show). The people inside the cave cannot stand the bright light of the sun outside, and so always avert their eyes back to the shadow wall.

These are the people who seem to be asleep to the spiritual world, dreaming a dream of worldly consciousness, and afraid of waking up. The process of ‘waking up’ or turning away from the obsession with ego, and the mundane awareness, away from the shadows and back toward the light, is Metanoia – the transformation of the mind from that which is worldly to that which is the light of true consciousness.

People, at any time, can choose to not be enamored by the shadows in the cave.  The shadows have names…freedom of religion, the right of a business to operate however they want, the right to be married, the fear of God’s wrath when we say we know better than Him.  All of this is just a temporary distraction from what is really going on here…there is a brighter place that we have feared to go to together.  There are puppets used as distractions so we stay in the cave.  There is fear that you will wake up and stop believing all this.  But it’s really hard to save face and change your mind.  There is an art to changing your mind.  Christian’s can change their mind and stand on higher principals of love and acceptance.  But if they did they would have to accept love in all it’s forms.  My gay brothers and sisters would have to have a lot of compassion and understanding while we all grew together and come out of this cave.  And we’d have to remember that there are going to be those who are SO committed that we stay where we are that they will use any means necessary to keep us there…including dividing us, killing us and separating us inside our communities.  If there is a devil…surely this is it.


So what now?  We are on the cusp of something big…I can feel it.  All the distractions and smokescreens that will be thrown our way cannot take us off course from our journey together.  But they will try.  Chic Fil A is a distraction/shadow.  Sarah Palin eating at their place and flaunting it is a distraction/shadow.  Hate groups aren’t anything new…but they are also a distraction.  The KKK was a distraction.  It’s ALL a distraction.  It’s nothing but shadows.  So let’s get our head back in the game here and look for a way to bring this together.  There is a new world coming…and a new world in the morning, that’s today.

Be kind to each other.  For everyone (all of us) is fighting a hard battle.

Thank you dad (and mom) for the inspiration for this.  You did a great job with me and I love you for it.

Harold

Flicking Channels…See a movie you love…gotta watch it again…

I’m such a predictable person.  As much as I’d love to think I play life off the cuff, I am a creature of habit.  This morning I was changing channels as I’m prone to do on Sunday morning.  I was looking for a good movie to watch..but truthfully I was looking for one of the same old movies I have to watch when I see it on tv.  We all have them…those movies you’ve seen a million times but for some reason when you see them on tv or find them on Netflix, you just HAVE to stop and watch.  It’s a strange phenomena.

Here’s my top list of movies I have to watch when I see they are on TV:

1.  White Chicks

I consider myself to be a smart man and have some good taste.  But this movie is my ultimate guilty pleasure.  Two heterosexual men have to go undercover as two bitchy, snarky white chicks who are spoiled and rich.  The lines in this movie are PRICELESS.  I seriously laugh out loud to every one of them…even though I’ve heard them so many times!  You can read some of the best lines here.

 

 

 

#2 The Matrix

I love this movie so much I can barely stand it when I see it on TV.  It’s usually on one of those channels that broadcasts it as a 5 hour movie, with 3 of those hours being commercials…seriously hate that.  But I’ll watch it anyway because I love it so much.  It’s hard to believe it’s been out for so long…over 10 years ago.  But this movie literally changed my life.  It made me question if the reality I lived in was really real.  Did I have a choice in who I was going to be in life…or was I just acting out some predetermined hallucination?  Very powerful stuff.  I can quote all the lines from The Oracle and it usually drives everyone crazy who happens to be sitting in the same room with me while it’s on.  Seeing Neo become who he really is is simply the most moving experience I’ve ever had at the movies.  I loved it so much, it helped redefine who I think I am for myself and others.  I’m very grateful for this movie and it’s subsequent sequels.  But this one started it all.

3. Planet of The Apes

I was born in 1968, when this movie came out.  By the time I was old enough to see the movie there had been a few sequels to it like Beneath the Planet of The Apes and Rise of The Planet of The Apes.  Anything that involved time travel, apes, space and cute guys garnered my attention immediately.  The first time I watched Planet of The Apes was on a late night movie broadcast on a local channel in Houston.  I couldn’t sleep…I was so thrilled that I literally could not sleep.  I thought about the movie over and over again.  And since this was so long ago and there were not rebroadcasts of the movie or even VCR’s nor DVD’s, I couldn’t watch it again until many years later.  This movie opened up a level of creativity and critical thinking in me that I had not experience before.  I actually felt different as a kid, being gay and all but not knowing that’s what it was.  I identified with every character in the movie at some point in my life.  I appreciate the forward thinking this movie provided.

#4 Logan’s Run

Wow…how do I explain my love of Logan’s Run?  It was made in 1976.  I was 8 years old but I’m not sure when I first saw it or where I was.  I only remember the profound impact it had on me.  I would often joke that I don’t know what my life would be like after 30…but it didn’t matter because I wouldn’t live that long anyway.  Before I got sober nearly 15 years ago this year, I remember thinking to myself how fast and hard I lived my life believing that I wouldn’t be alive past 30 anyway…just like the characters in the movie…so I decided to live life full-on!  The only problem with that was that the drugs I used didn’t really allow me to live life full-on…it wasn’t nearly as glamorous as it would seem…lol.  Logan’s Run inspired me in art class one year as I remember drawing transport tubes for people to travel inside from city to city.  Science Fiction made such a huge difference for me while growing up.  This movie was an important part of my development as a young man and I’m forever grateful for it.  There was a version of the movie called The Island (with Ewan McGregor) that I loved also.  It’s a little different premise than Logan…but just as exciting!

#5 Girls Will Be Girls

OK…how do I explain this movie.  Three actresses at various places on the Hollywood food chain navigate the minefield of love, aging, and ambition. Oh, and they’re all played by men!  This movie is hilarious.  The lines are incredible.  The humor is amazing and so sharp.  The characters, all played by men, are so well written and thought out.  This started out as a little internet skit video and turned into this little masterpiece that isn’t broadcast too often on television.  But it is on Netflix and that is dangerous because I have to watch it every freakin time I see the movie poster.  I see something different in the movie every time I watch it and laugh louder and think how did I miss that?  This isn’t a gay movie…the characters aren’t gay men…they are actually playing women in the movie…actually there are no women in the movie at all (a little bit of trivia).  It helps to have the subtitles on so you don’t miss anything.  This is one of my all-time favorite movies and I find it intoxicating and amazing.  The sequel is on it’s way soon and I’ll be there watching it for sure!

There are many more movies I could tell you about…but these are my absolute favorites.  They continue to delight and inspire me on so many levels.  They make me think.  They make me believe that life is going to work out after all.  And they remind me that there is a future and it is bright and love works out all in the end.  Thanks for reading.  I’d love to know what your favorite movies to catch on television or Netflix and why.  So how about it?  What’s your movie??

UPDATE:  I just found this incredible Advanced Screening Preview that was made for theater owners to hopefully select Logan’s Run to play in their theaters.  It’s got some pretty amazing unseen before scenes.  Check it out for a blast from the past and super treat!

This made me miss Heath Ledger…

There’s a video out there that’s been really pointing to a possible inspiration for Heath Ledger’s character performance of The Joker in The Dark Knight.  It is uncanny to watch Tom Waites interview…and while I originally went to see what all the fuss was about, I stayed to watch the whole interview because it is fantastic.  Take a look at the video…what do you think?  I think it’s pretty amazingly similar.  It really made me miss Heath Ledger and wonder what his role would have been in The Dark Knight Rises…given some of the older characters who showed up…Rest In Peace Heath.

Special thanks to towleroad.com for reminding me how great he was…

Alanis Morissette, Guardian

Oh how I love Alanis. Her lyrics are so amazing. Here she sings of moving into being a guardian not only for her new child…but for herself. So amazingly put in her song that I wanted to share it. She’s taking care of her child…but she’s taking care of herself so she can do that. I love that! Her new disc is coming out soon…

 

How Inspiring is this 10 year old…

This little boy wrote a speech on acceptance and about people loving whomever they want.  He sounds so amazing and loving.  His speech was originally banned from his doing it in school so they brought him to New York City Council to give it.  It’s really amazing and beautiful and so well spoken.  I hope more kids grow up like him!  Great job!!

You can watch the video by clicking here.

The real boycott on August 1st…

The long and short of it– on 8/1 (the day Mike Huckabee wants Chick-Fil-A supporters to patronize the restaurant) go to Chick-Fil-A. Ask for a large water and nothing else. See if they adhere to Proverbs 25:21 and give it to you. If they do, yay! You took a few cents from their hate fund! If they don’t, well…I guess they’re proving their principals aren’t so “biblical.”

Watch the video and if you’re in, pass the word on, please and share this post! #Proverbs2521

The Formula For Power… (a message for all the gay teens out there)

About a week ago I was commenting on some photos on InstaGram.  Someone had posted a really horrible comment about gay youth and how they should just go ahead and do everyone a favor and end their lives.  They also said some crappy things about the suicide rate rising among gay youths was a good thing, that it was taking care of a problem in society.  These comments were coming from another teenage girl.  It was hard not to get angry at her.  And her friends were equally disgusting.  They freely quoted the bible as the justification for their comments and reasoning. My first reaction was to bombard the posting with comments of my own, which a lot of people seemed to be trying to do.  But these girls were armed with enough information to hurt others, which is what most people do when they don’t understand something.  And most disturbing…they learn this from people in charge.  Parents who say things and people from their church who spew hate while preaching love and tolerance.  I’m not the first person to post something about this so this isn’t anything new.  It feels hopeless to ever try to change their minds or their thinking.

But then I remembered something that I had made a huge difference for me!  I remembered that I don’t have any control over their speaking and thinking.  I don’t have any power over the adults who will continue to pray for us but spew hateful things while singing hymns.  I don’t have any control over any of that.  But….I do have control over me.

I don’t believe I was born any certain way.  I don’t know if God made me this way.  I don’t know if my upbringing, my friends, my baby food, my medicines, my clothes, our financial status when growing up, or having all sisters made me gay.  And in the long run, would any of that really matter?  Would it really matter if any of that was the source of my sexuality?  I love being gay and I thank God every day I got to be the man I am.

So, No.  It wouldn’t matter.  Because here I am now.  Lady Gaga sings Born This Way.  I think it’s something bigger than being born this way and so we can’t help it.  It’s not our fault…we were born this way.  I think Mother Monster actually meant something bigger.  (I love you Lady Gaga!!)

10 years ago I actually chose my life.  I chose the life I have.  I chose to embrace who I knew myself to be and gave my self permission to choose to be gay.  That’s right.  I said I chose to be gay.  I chose everything that is including in that choice.  I am responsible for my life and who I am right now.  Not the people who think they can pray for me or hope I change or ask God to forgive me for my “ways.”

I remembered this while those little girls where saying what they were saying.  I remembered thinking to myself “they don’t have a choice.”  They didn’t have a choice to be accepting or not.  They are being fed this constant stream of out-dated thinking toward other people.  They are baby girls with futures in front of them just like every other child out there.  And their future isn’t any less bright than any other child’s future.  And our job is to educate them that they have a choice, too.  They can choose their life, exactly as it is, and exactly as it isn’t, but they don’t know that!  And when you can choose your life this way, you have freedom.  You have the freedom to be whomever you want to be or not to be.

So, my response to the InstaGram stream was simple.  I hope it makes a difference for anyone out there struggling with this.  Being born this way (any way you think you might have been born) plus choosing the life you have, equals amazing power and freedom.

So to all the teens out there struggling or wondering if something is wrong with you….no matter what anyone says….no matter what anyone in charge may say…no matter what your parents say…no matter what your pastor says….no matter what your family says, you are perfect.  And you are fabulous in every way.  But don’t take my word for it!  The best way to find out if this is true is to go live life so fully and fabulously that even the dirt on the street says how fabulous you are!

Go…live life and be fabulous!  And choose life every time!  If for any reason you, or someone you know, is struggling with their sexuality or thinking they are not worth living life fully, it’s our job to remind them how awesome and amazing they are.

I love you and honor you and wish you nothing but the best in life.  You can email me or comment here if you need any help!  Click the picture below to be taken to the Born This Way Foundation that Lady Gaga and her mom created or you can go to BornThisWay.org.  Thank you for reading and I love you!

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