Saturday, January 21, 2006

In Memory of . . .

Today would have been my father's 90th Birthday. As I have done ever since I left home, I would have called him sometime today and had a very brief conversation with him. I will not do that this year, nor did I do it last year. My father passed away September 10, 2004. Last year was a strange, melancholy day. This year is pretty much the same. I wonder, though, how long such feelings will last on January 21. Will time erase the melancholy? More importantly, will the day soon hold no significance what-so-ever? I think that is what I fear most, that my life will move forward and soon January 21 will be just any other day. I will not raise a glass that night each year in silent toast to my father. I will not remember that once upon I time I used to call him and wish him 'Happy Birthday' on January 21 each year. January 21 will be just any other day.

I am not psychic nor omnipotent, and I do not know for sure what will happen. I can only hope that I always remember and that a year does not come when suddenly it is the end of January and I have totally forgotten about my father's birthday.

As I write this blog, this entry into my life, and a remembrance of my father's life, I think back to an earlier time - not so long ago - in the Spring of 2004 when I was taking a class called The Psychology of Aging. It was a neat class with a fantastic professor, and I learned a hell of a lot in that class. It was a fairly easy class with only two assignments: a journal and a term paper. The journal was fairly easy because throughout the class the professor mentioned topics that could be included in the journal and each student only had to write ten journal entries.

Below is the first entry of the journal. This entry holds great irony for me, and sadness, for in many ways, I think it was almost a psychic moment.


April 2004 - The Day Old Came for a Visit and Did Not Leave

For the majority of his eighty-four years my father lived a good and active life. At the age of sixty-eight he finally retired (his last child having graduated high school - that would be me) and began to truly enjoy life. He played golf four to five times a week, took long walks on the days he did not play golf, and stayed active at night with his wife in various bridge groups (and even took up square dancing). If you asked him about his age, if he felt old, he would just laugh and say 'no'. He was definitely an active and energetic man and it seemed that age truly had little effect on him.

In January 2000, the year of the false Millennium, my mother and father got a bacterial/viral flu that pretty well put them both in bed for a week. My mother recovered just fine, but my father was a different story. He will tell you today, four years later, that he never felt old until after that strange bout with the flu. From that point on, old came for a visit and would not leave. He never regained his energy and never again played eighteen holes of golf. Within six months of the flu he was no longer playing golf at all. If that was not bad enough, other problems began to settle in - neuropathy of the feet, among other things - that began to diminish his once active and energetic life. He had to have special braces made to help him walk.

During the course of the last eighteen months, my father got to the point where he was barely eating and needed a cane (sometimes a walker) to get around. The children - myself, two sisters and one brother - came in more frequently; sensing, perhaps, an inevitably, a prelude to death. Well, stubborn as my father is, death might be knocking at the door, but my father is not answering. He is currently on prednisone - the miracle drug as my mother calls it - and his appetite has returned and he rarely needs either the cane or walker to get around. He still feels old, will now admit that he is old, and he will tell you that he misses playing golf everyday of h is life, and yet he seems in no hurry to answer that faint knock on the door.

Lastly, in my most recent conversation with my mother she said, "You're father is now looking for things to do. He even cleaned up the kitchen the other night." I guess miracles do happen, and old dogs can learn new tricks, for my father never cleaned up the kitchen after a meal . . . until old settled in and would not leave.


In a strange way, I could not know that I was eulogizing my father in the months before he would die. I wrote the journal entry in April. My father entered the hospital in July and never came home again, going from there to a nursing home and then on to the great beyond. The journal entry became a legacy of sorts, an ode to my father. I could not have known when I wrote the journal how soon death would claim my father. I only knew that the class brought many things to mind and all I could envision at the time was my father's determination to survive. He promised my mother he would make it to their 50th anniversary. He did.

On June 26, 2004 my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage. Within two weeks my brother, sisters and myself, along with our mother, wondered if that was Dad's last hurrah. My father was in the hospital, unable to walk and his mind slipping away. It is a horrifying reality to see a once vibrant person strapped into a hospital bed. It was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life to spend the night in the hospital with my father, trying to make him understand where he was and what was going on. In his mind, he was anywhere but the hospital. It was a strange and terrifying time and one I will not soon forget. He was not the man I saw two weeks before on the weekend of his 50th wedding anniversary.

My father was a more vibrant man that weekend and I truly don't think any of us realized how soon he would be gone from our lives. My mother commented on the day of their anniversary how alert he was that day, and how long it had been since he had been taht alert. The greatest memory I have of that weekend is the afternoon of their anniversary. We were all sitting on the screen porch late that afternoon, having a glass of wine before dinner, and Dad was in his usual spot: the living room getting ready to watch the news. He came out to the screen porch and sat down with us and then toasted my mother and wished her a happy anniversary. Dad was not old that day. He was the father I remembered, maybe not as spry as he once was, maybe a little older looking, but at that moment I could not imagine him not being a part (distant, but still a part) of my life.

Now, more than a year later, I struggle to hold on to the hope that I will always remember his birthday, and that it will not just become another day. I have learned that life is too precious and that most people do not live their lives, but rather exist through the days of their lives. We do what we have to, more often than not, and not what we truly want to do. We put off the phone calls and visits, the invites out to dinner, because there will always be tomorrow. We fail to tell the people that mean the most to us, that we love them. If my father taught me anything, he taught me that life is what you make of it and that you must live life, not just exist through life. He might have failed to do many of these things during the course of his life, more concerned with providing for his wife and children, making sure there were no debts and no worries if something were to happen to him. It was only after the last of his children graduated high school that my father truly began to live his life and do the things he wanted to do. So if this blog serves any purpose, let it be to teach people to live life today and not wait for tomorrow, because there's always the chance that tomorrow just might not happen.

This blog is in memory of my father:

Vernon Smith Mitchell
January 21, 1916
September 10, 2004

Monday, January 16, 2006


I guessthis post today (perhaps a rant, but perhaps not as well) is about the lack of proper editing in books today. In the past six months I have read quite a few books and not one of them was free from an editing error. The main error I am talking about is sentences that do not make sense because the writer typed the wrong word (trust me, a very easy mistake to make) because they were typing too fast and their thoughts moved faster than their fingers could keep up. It is a simple mistake and one easily corrected with proper editing. I cannot begin to tell you how many times that I have typed a wrong word - there instead of their, or any other similar words, or completely left out a word or two from a sentence. It is understandable. It is easy to do. The problem seems to be that neither the author nor the editors are catching these errors. Again, I sometimes read through my stuff four or five times and I still miss an error. It happens, but I am not a published writer. I do not pay editors to catch these simple mistakes. I just think that it is sad that books being published today are coming out with such easily correctable errors.

The main problem with such simple errors is that they disrupt the flow of reading. I have to stop, read over the sentence again, and possibly again, before I can continue my journey through the pages of fiction. It is a speed bump in the middle of a great story. It takes away from the story because my brain has been jarred from the fictional world to the real world. The pace is interrupted. The pace should not be interrupted. Reading a book should be like sailing down a smooth river with clearly flowing water and no rapids whatsoever. The reader should not be jarred suddenly. This is what irritates me most.

Now, as to my second problem with writing today and, again, I can sympathize and understand for I have done the same things myself. I just finished reading an excellent book. From the first sentence I was hooked and had a hard time putting the book down. The flow was great from beginning, through the middle and up until I was 2/3 of the way through the book. It was then that I hit a major BUMP. Not a small bump like a misplaced word, but a major BUMP that grounded the boat. I had to stop reading and flip back to the first third of the book and look page after page for one, simple thing: the name of a peripheral character. You see, dear reader, the author - brilliant as she was - committed a horrible writing faux paux: she forgot the name of a character and renamed him in the last third of the book. I'll grant you this, the character was minor and only took up a few paragraphs in the start of the book, but a name had been mentioned. Fast forward to the last third of the book and the character is mentioned again, but this time the first name had changed. To me, this is unacceptable. I almost put the book down. I almost gave up reading this fantastic story because of this mistake on the author's part. It was more than jarring. It completely stopped the flow of reading. In the first third of the book (I'm changing the name, etc.) the boss of a major character was introduced as Jim Stockman (again, name changed). Later on in the book, a secondary character associated with Jim showed up, but his boss was referred to as Mike Stockman. The characters were one in the same - Jim/Mike was still the major character's boss, but he had somehow undergone a name change. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Was any explanation given? In order of appearance the answers are: I don't know, I don't know, and hell no.

I have changed the name of charcters midstream when working on a manuscript. I have made it through the third draft sometimes before I realized I had not corrected the name in certain sections. It happens, but it is correctable. That's why I re-read my writing time and again to find all the mistakes, though I know I will miss one or two. But when the day comes that my work is published and I'm paying someone, or however the heck that works, than I hope that no errors are in the book when it hits the shelves of the local bookstore.

Okay, my rant for the moment is done. To some, it might seem insignificant, but to me, it is of the utmost importance.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006



I don’t know about the rest of America, or the world for that matter, but I am perfectly capable of making my own choices without undue influence from outside sources. I do not need some alleged do-gooder group to tell me what movie to see or what television show to watch. I am perfectly capable of doing so for myself. If I find a show offensive or boring, I do one simple thing: flip the channel. It is not up to some alleged watchdog group (with their own alleged agenda) to make that decision for me. I am not a child. My days of innocence and naiveté are long since gone; the rose colored glasses have been set aside.

What has started this latest rant, dear readers, some might (or might not) wonder? The Book of Daniel. No, this isn’t in reference to a mysteriously lost for centuries book of the Bible, but rather about a new show on NBC about a “Vicodin-popping priest who talks to Jesus” (Paley et al. 6) . The priest just happens to be named Daniel. Oh, and he has a gay son. What’s the big deal? Nothing, in the Book of Scott, but according to the alleged Book of the Mississippi-based American Family Association the show is offensive and they have mounted a campaign to have the show pulled from the air because of its portrayal of “drugs, homosexuality and other provocative themes within a Christian context” (Paley et al. 6) . So far, affiliates in Little Rock, AR and Terre Haute, IN have caved to the pressure (though they might deny it has anything to do with the alleged pressure from the AFA – actions do speak louder than words) from this group and chosen not to air the show. Isn’t it ironic that the subject matter of this soapbox entry – choice – is a double-edged sword? Well, at least I find irony in the situation and I can give the stations in those areas a slim benefit of the doubt and allow them their choice. My main issue is: who in the hell do the AFA think they are to determine what is right and proper for people to watch?

According to AFA spokesman Ed Vitagliana, the “travails of the Webster family aren’t ‘reflecting any Christians I know” (Paley et al. 6) I feel sorry for Mr. Vitagliana that he does not know any Christians with homosexual family members. I feel sorry for him that he allegedly cannot show acceptance toward reality and lives in a fantasy world where homosexuality does not exist. My mother is a Christian woman. My sisters are Christian women, and the majority of my friends are Christian. Last time I checked, they all loved me and could care less that I was a homosexual. So I have one question for the AFA as a whole: what would Jesus do?

I truly don’t know what would Jesus do. I would like to think he would allow allegedly intelligent individuals to make their own choices rather than apply undue pressure that – in my honest opinion – falls far from the Christian tree. The Christianity I was brought up in teaches about love and acceptance, not hate and ignorance. Choice is a matter of individuality. Choice is not the matter of a group of people deciding that they allegedly know what is best for everybody else in the world. If people do not want to watch a television show, or go to a movie, they have one simple option: free choice. They do not have to watch the show. I personally find the actions of the AFA morally offensive and just plain wrong. There is little I can do about it other than maybe beginning a slow and methodical study of the members of the AFA and just see how Christian they truly are after closer inspection. Hmmmmmmmmm!


All quotes from: Paley, Rebecca, and N. F. Mendoza. "Christian group tries to close The Book of Daniel." TVGuide January 16 2006: 6.


ASK AND YOU SHALIT RECEIVE: Gene Shalit has made peace with GLAAD, which had taken issue with the wording of the film critic's Brokeback Mountain review, in which he characterized Jake Gyllenhaal's Jack as a "sexual predator." On Tuesday, Shalit responded to GLAAD's request for an apology with a statement saying, "In describing the behavior of Jack, I used words that I now discover have angered, agitated and hurt many people. I did not intend to use a word that many in the gay community consider incendiary. I certainly had no intention of casting aspersions on anyone in the gay community or on the community itself. I regret any emotional hurt that may have resulted from my review." As additional penance, Shalit has agreed to see Aeon Flux a second time. (, entertainment news, 01/10/06)

I would love to say ‘kudos’ to Mr. Shalit, but his apology seems kind of . . . forced. I’m not even sure if that is the proper word. I applaud him – really, I do, my sincerity is overwhelming at the moment (as are my doubts) – for stepping up to the plate and issuing an apology, whether the apology is truly altruistic or forced. It just seems to me it is always easier to apologize afterwards rather than give consideration beforehand so that an apology is . . . well . . . unnecessary.

The question that comes to my mind is this: is Mr. Shalit truly sorry for his words? But I guess my question is truly unimportant. I guess that what matters most is . . . drumroll please . . . consideration. I don’t know how many times – abacus and calculator at hand, and the number is too great (has anyone got a spare super computer handy?) – I have spoken before my brain could stop me and inserted both feet into my mouth. Now, some people will say that I have a big mouth, and that getting both feet in is not a problem, but I have made some comments without truly considering my words so that, like Mr. Shalit and countless others before him, I have had to eat the proverbial crow. Life would be so much simpler if people truly considered their words before speaking them.

I guess that is the point of this soapbox session: consideration. Perhaps the example of Mr. Shalit, and the countless others – including myself – before him, will someday affect a change that will make apologies . . . again, the sound of a drumroll please . . . unnecessary.


Friday, January 06, 2006


It just must be my week for blogging. reported the following news piece this morning:

THINGS GET HAIRY: Mustachioed Today show film critic Gene Shalit has drawn fire from GLAAD for his Thursday review of Brokeback Mountain, in which he characterized Jake Gyllenhaal's Jack as a "sexual predator" who "coaxes" Heath Ledger's Ennis into "sporadic trysts." Deeming Shalit's commentary "gratuitously offensive," "defamatory, ignorant and irresponsible," GLAAD is asking for an apology from both him and Today.

Now, here's my general impression. Number 1 - Mr. Shalit obviously did not watch the movie. In my personal opinion, there is no way he could have watched the movie and made the statments he did, unless he is truly ignorant. Number 2 - sexual predator? Please, Jack is in no way a sexual predator. Number 3 - 'coaxes' Ennis into 'sporadic trysts'? Excuse me, I watched the movie and it sure as hell did not look like Ennis needed any coaxing at all. He did not have to respond to Jack's first postcard, or subsequent postcards. He was also the one who literally pulled Jack into an embrace, pushed him back under the stairwell and kissed him at their first meeting after their experience on Brokeback mountain. Had Mr. Shalit watched the movie, he would have noticed all of this; instead, he only allegedly (I just love that word) half-assed watched the movie and made allegedly inaccurate comments. Perhaps Mr. Shalit needs to retire from the movie critic business since he is unable to do a proper job without allegedly inserting personal, defamatory comments into his reviews.

Okay, my rant is done for the moment, dear readers, and I should journey back to my life. You can click on the above link 'asking for an apology' which will take you to the GLADD website and give a more in-depth article about the review.

On second thought, perhaps my rant is not done because I did not address the topic of the rant: ignorance. There is nothing worse than making a statement without all the facts. I made my statement after reading two news items and actually watching the review (also available through the GLADD website). Ignorance helps no one. Knoweldge is power. Before making his statements, perhaps Mr. Shalit should have really watched the movie, perhaps more than once, to truly understand what was happening in the film. Perhaps he should respond not of alleged personal bias and ignorance, but rather out of knoweldge. I do not expect an apology from Mr. Shalit. I truly do not expect NBC to respond. I believe the old saying is: ignorance is bliss. The only problem, mass ignorance helps no one, and hurts far too many. Perhaps 'Brokeback Mountain' will earn every numerous awarded it has so far been nominated for and prove that the alleged ignorance of some was truly that . . . ignorance.


Thursday, January 05, 2006


This post (aka rant) is in response to my recent post called Idiocy. I suppose there is a sense of redundancy in the poster responding to their own post, but . . . such is life. This post is also a response to intolerance and ignorance, and it is a response to many other things. I am a gay man. I am gay, not by choice, but by genetics; though, there is a choice involved because I did not chose to deny who I am, but to accept and embrace that entity, that person known as Scott. I could have lived a lie, married, had children and attempted to conform to rules society seems to demand for humanity. I did not choose that path and do not regret the acceptance of myself.

But this post is about one topic - everywhere. To anyone in doubt, gays are everywhere. We are your neighbors, your waiter, your banker, your lawyer, your real estate agent, your hair dresser, your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters, your aunts and uncles, your cousins and acquaintances. We are walking next to you on the street and sitting next to you on the bus. We are standing behind you at the movie theater and in front of you at the grocery store. We are artists and business-people, we are rich and poor, homeless and non-homeless. We drive Chevys and Fords, Hondas and Hyundais, BMWs and Mercedes, and Hummers as well. We live in apartments and condos, townhomes and mansions. We are the people you try and ignore, but we are not going away. We are a community that understands that the word family transcends the biological concept. We are sometimes shunned by those of our blood, but we are embraced by those of our genetic make-up. We laugh and cry, we bleed and we die. We are everything that you are, no less and no more. So always remember, and never forget (ode to Schnieder on 'One Day at a Time') that the person you're sitting next to on the bus just might be gay. WE ARE EVERYWHERE and WE"RE NOT GOING AWAY!