Wednesday, July 20, 2005

On Tolerance…

Recently, I refused to tolerate intolerable behavior and, being known as one who preaches Tolerance, was called a hypocrite.

I'm not kidding.

This made it necessary to ask myself if the person was correct. Does a belief in Tolerance necessitate Tolerance of all things?

Obviously, this is not true. If it were, we would have cheered the Nazi's for genocide… and that certainly didn't happen. That the person's accusation was specious, at best, did not set me free from this line of inquiry, however. I wanted to know about Tolerance, not just "what" but "why", and what limits it was held within by reason.

Let's start with a dictionary (dot com) definition. Tolerance is the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others. Therefore, Tolerance is not the permission to do whatever you like but, rather, a responsibility to accept those around you. The phrase "within reason" is implied here, which is easy to see if you apply it to any extreme. Someone gouging your eyes out with an oyster spoon is not something I would suggest anyone tolerating.

Tolerance is a means but what would the end be? As I can see it, the end that most people can agree upon is the spread of peace and harmony. Tolerance is a means to that end. So, when we talk about tolerance, we are talking about a road to peace and harmony. It would seem reasonable, then, to assume the inverse true, that anything that does not end in peace and harmony would not begin with Tolerance.

Let's test this. The Nazi's genocide did not end in peace and harmony and were not started with Tolerance. True. The work of Martin Luther King helped promote peace and harmony and began with Tolerance. True. I could go on and on but I won't. I'll leave that to you.

Let me try a couple other kinds of tests. It's safe to say that most people support equal rights for homosexuals. It's also safe to say that most people wouldn’t support the right of two men to fuck on the hood of your car in broad daylight. Gay rights promote peace and harmony, which applies to most people and is within reason. Most people, however, would find it unreasonable for anyone to have sex on their car in broad daylight. Let's say I asked your opinion on this. You could reply with, "I disagree. I think Gay Rights are not tolerable and here's why…" or you could say, "I fucked your mama's asshole last night and she said you have a small cock. If you like fags, suck my cock! You're gay, mother fucker!" Which of these responses promotes tolerance?

There are such things as intolerable acts. For the most part, we agree as a society on what they are. When the lines begin to gray, however, and it's possible to promote peace and harmony, that's when it's important to remember to be tolerant. It's not a sign of weakness to do so. Nor is it hypocrisy to say that you won't allow intolerance. This is clearer to me now.

Monday, July 11, 2005

A little business…

I've received a few emails this past week about how I haven't been posting that much to My Side lately and I figured I should clarify things.

For those of you who asked, yes, My Side will be ending its run very soon. In the next few weeks, you'll be seeing less and less posted to this site. One last one will be posted at the end of August and, then, that'll be it. A new site will be opening in October, however. If you're a new reader or anyone who wants to know where the new site is going to be, click the email link and let me know. I'll be sending invitations to the new site once it's up.

Yes, the new site will contain "anti-flaming" measures. This is not meant to stifle anyone's freedom of speech but, rather, to enforce a little common decency. In a friendly atmosphere, I've never thought that would be necessary. But I have learned that is not the case. "Flaming" is not simply disagreeing. It is not debate. It is contrary and counter-productive to debate as well as insulting and hurtful.

Before I wrap things up, though, I'm planning on writing a few essays on general topics, which means you won't have me here to keep you informed. You're going to have to work on that on your own, and I hope you do. I also have something in the works for mid-August. I won't mention it until then - so please don't ask - but I will say that it will signify the end of a few things.

Lastly, here's some news on the novel front. Does my return to novel-writing signify an end to my acting or play writing? Not at all! Let that be clear! Vicky and I have sat down and talked about this. After the wedding, I'll be doing another show. (How soon really depends on when I get cast but the humiliation of auditioning will begin shortly after returning from the Bahamas.) Then, in spring, I'll be returning to Cal State Fullerton to continue my educational journey. This will take up a lot of my time but I should still be open for a little acting and writing. All work and no play and all that…

But about the novels… Vicky and I have started marketing Vampire Society. Vicky's helping a lot and I can't thank her enough. As much as she's protested becoming "just another fan", I'm beginning to think her will is weakening. (And, anyway, being a fan of Ken La Salle really includes you in a very tiny, er, ELITE group…) This week, I'll also begin working on the rewrites to "A Grand Canyon". Providing I finish that before the wedding, I'll then forward it on to my step-mom, Blanche, for her take on it. This being a very personal book, I wanted someone who I knew I could trust but would also see the material with a fresh eye. Blanche is that person.

But wait! There's more! I'm now 15,000 words into my new book - yes, ANOTHER ONE! Still unnamed, this is a sci-fi/horror/mystery, three genres I never in my life thought I'd be writing. But the idea is too good NOT to write and, so, here I am.

In a word: busy.

So, those of you who thought I was sitting on my laurels can be assured otherwise. Anyway, I need new laurels and can never find good ones at the store...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bandoo Lelala (1996-2005)

You can usually tell when I’m making up a name.

Even if it’s not a name for a fantasy novel, I’ll usually sound it out, testing both the sound, the shape, and the feeling of the words. I want them to fit just right. So imagine, if you will, a far younger Ken, sitting at a desk, creating a name for the magical creature made of palm fronds and assorted junk who would show the protagonist something about his humanity in A Hex Upon Rynia.

I couldn’t go with “palm” as a root for the name but “bamboo” right. Bamboo. Bamboo Be… something. No, not Bamboo… Bandoo! Bandoo Le… and the words people write for generic singing entered my head – the phonetics of singing – “la la la”

Bandoo Lelala!

There hasn’t been a person yet who, upon reading “Hex”, wasn’t taken by the little monkey. Of course, I was.

So, I guess it was inevitable when, in 1996 and only about half a year after we bought our house, I would give that name to someone else, someone not of my imagination.

Rosa and I had gone to the vet for Chloe and were drawn to the kittens in the lobby, for which they were trying to find good homes. The little gold one was my favorite. He was so calm and loving and would come right to my hand. It was like he knew me, that bond we are always seeking that is probably the sole reason why people get pets at all. I wanted him.

But when we came back the next day, he was gone, and I was asked to pick another.

There was this white one who’s legs seemed to big to balance on and who’s tongue couldn’t be kept in his mouth. He was perpetually licking, a strange attribute for a cat. But Rosa loved him so we took him. Which is when they found the little, gold one in the back. To this day, I’m sure it was a scam to get us to take two cats home. But they’d “fix” him for free and his shots would be very cheap. We even got a free cat carrier and some free food and – Okay! Fine! I’ll take them both!

On the way home, I help their carriers on my lap. “What are you going to name them?” Rosa asked. I’d always named the pets. I had a flair. There was William Artemis Winky. Francois Manhattan. My names were appealing for their oddness. And, anyway, Rosa had her dog, little Chloe. She didn’t care much about the cats. To the end, she would refer to them as “Your cats”.

On to the naming. For the white one, I used an old pun: Alacrity Fitzhugh. Alacrity, after all, means “cheerful willingness”, and this guy had so much bounding enthusiasm, I was sure he’d be cheerfully willing to jump off a roof! So, it certainly fit him. The other one, the gold one, was sort of magical, in a way. I could sense that about him. What better name than Bandoo Lelala?

Later, he evolved into Bandooli or Bandoo Lee, the ninja cat, which is less a reflection on him than a statement about my weirdness.

That Bandoo was extraordinary needs no mentioning to those who met him. For those who didn’t, however, here are a few comments. After Jazz, the cat we had when we picked up the kittens, passed away, Bandoo went to Jazz’s favorite spot, the spot where she sat every day, and cried for several days straight. This not only showed a connection and intelligence beyond words but also gave me someone with which to mourn Jazz. After a couple of days, when I was ready to do this, I held Bandoo in my lap and cried with him. Maybe just being held quieted him down but I also like to think that mourning together helped him as well. The downside was that he picked up, very quickly, Jazz’s natural distrust for people. Over the weekend, he went from being very trusting of everyone (just as Alacrity was with his huge tongue) to being exclusive to me and those he trusted. This exclusivity proved to be a necessary part of my life after Rosa and I split up. I would judge people by how Bandoo felt about them; he was a fine judge of character. When Vicky came along, and we walked right up to her, offering his side for her to pet, I knew she’d be okay.

You can’t deny his athletic acumen. I saw him race the entire length of my back yard once, leap 10-12 feet in the air, and fell a large bird in mid-air one summer day while I worked on my garden. His attitude was keenly feline. He was not above stealing food from his fatter brother or sitting on my lap at any time with that “You know you’re going to pet me” look. Bandoo and Alacrity were inseparable from the first day. They’d play very roughly, causing me some concern, but that would always end with one of them (usually Alacrity) dominating the other and then start giving the other a bath… I’d call them my gay boys.

When we moved into this house, however, something happened to him. I can’t explain what it was but he did lose some weight as a result. He was still eating plenty, though, and I tried to chalk it up to his return to outdoor play. (Now that we could let them out, Bandoo and Alacrity would run up trees, fences, and pretty much anything.) And, anyway, he did seem to put a little of the weight back on. After Alacrity got sick a couple of months ago, I used all the credit available to me to get him better. Then, earlier this week, Vicky and I noticed that he’d thinned out again. But I couldn’t bring him to the vet. I had no money.

Then, he stopped eating. Yesterday, he crawled into a space beside a counter. He wouldn’t come out. When he tried to move him, he didn’t cry out. He simply looked at me and moved further into the space. It was obvious he wanted to be left alone.

Vicky was gone. It was just him and me. I knelt beside him and said, “Bandoo, what’s going on?” He was breathing heavy. His eyes were barely open. “You’re dying, aren’t you?” My hand on his side was visibly irritating. I pulled it back. I couldn’t take him to a vet. I couldn’t take care of him at all. I felt so fucking helpless. I felt about as shitty as you can get. “I’m going to let you stay there, Bando. You sleep.” He wasn’t crying; he simply looked like he wanted to sleep. So, I’d let him sleep.

But I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to get drunk. I spent the next five hours having a couple of drinks per hour and, of course, I’d also picked up smokes. When Vicky came back (she’d been at a wedding), his breathing was very shallow.

Eventually, I passed out.

She woke me and said that he sounded like he was in pain. She was bringing him to the emergency vet clinic and maybe they could put an end to his pain. But he went in his own way, on his own schedule, before they could insert the needle.

The Buddha tells us that all life is suffering. From the moment we are born, we are faced with the loss of having that life stripped away from us until, eventually, even that life is taken. It is by acceptance of this loss, by learning to let go, that we can live in this world. I didn’t drink because I couldn’t accept that it was Bandoo’s time. It most obviously was. I drank because I could not ease his suffering and I felt very small as a result. Not only that, I drank to his memory, too… but, in typical Ken fashion, there were a whole lot of memories there…

He was the finest feline I’ve ever known. Though he was only a little over a foot tall, he had a majestic stature. He carried himself with grace and refinement. His capacity for love was without equal.

I was incredibly fortunate to have known him, to have had the opportunity to love him, and to have been loved by him. He lived very well and very comfortably and was truly cherished.

He will be missed.