Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A kitten named Lucy turns out to be a tomcat

You've heard the Johnny Cash song, "A Boy Named Sue," I rather imagine. Well, this is a tale about "A Cat Named Lucy." The bottom line is, I'm a big old mean cat.

I got adopted as a tiny gray kitten by an about-to-be, middle-aged couple whose children were all but grown. I guess they wanted to make sure they didn't wind up with an empty nest in a couple of years so they took me home with them.

The first thing the woman did was squeal, "Isn't she cute. I think I'll name her Lucy." Oh no, I thought. So I smacked her with a paw, but she didn't take the hint.

As I developed into a half-grown cat, the man said to the woman, "Uh, I think we made a mistake with the name." Then it was off to the veterinarian in a failed effort to make me a less adventurous cat.

Things clearly turned for the worse, especially when they kept calling me Lucy. Like any self-respecting tomcat I started acting out my frustration with aggression.

After a fine day of lying on the car roof in the shade, I would go inside and terrorize the man's cow dog and the woman's two silly female pussies that hid every time they heard the door open. They put up with me because I would purr so convincingly when they petted me, and I slept with them at night on the bed.

In my opinion things went swimmingly well for several years, but then one day I overheard the man and woman announce we were moving from the Cedar Creek Lake area to Dallas. The man got a promotion that landed him in the executive offices, and he was all like, "I can't spend hours on the road everyday to go to and from work."

We landed in Winnetka Heights in Dallas' Oak Cliff neighborhood. I must admit it was a fine jump up in the world, and it certainly gave me more opportunities to roam in a beautiful area covered by trees. I discovered a woman living nearby with two cats whom I thoroughly enjoyed scaring.

I would sit by her door waiting for it to open. When she stuck her head out the door and looked around, I would hide behind a bush and jump out snarling when she tip-toed into the yard. It was great fun watching the woman and her two silly wussy cats run back inside shrieking.

Eventually, I would wander home to eat and sleep inside overnight, but mostly I liked to roam the neighborhood. It was a fine arrangement as far as I was concerned, but one day the phone rang.

A neighborhood man called for the scared woman to complain about me. My keepers shook their heads in wonder about someone not knowing how to scare a cat away, but they decided that at the age of 10 I had to relocate. As a city cat, I was a failure in their minds. The woman cried.

The next thing I knew I was in the truck with the man headed back for Cedar Creek Lake to the ranch where the parents lived in the big house and the uncle lived in the smaller house. For days I heard all of this noise about "How did we wind up with a cat" and "We don't like cats" from the people in the big house.

At first the parents, who are really old and fussy, refused to let me stay inside the house. The uncle (who is quite youthful and good looking) said I could go live at his house, but frankly he and that silly white Schnoodle he calls "Queenie" just get on my feline nerves.

Actually, it didn't take all that long for me to get things under control at the big house. Now, they've forgotten about not liking cats and dote on me. I hang out on the car roof in the garage during the day. Occasionally, I'll chase a bird or squirrel out of the yard. I sleep inside at night, and I have a secret hiding place no one can find. It's fun to listen to the old man look for me. He's determined to figure out where I hide, but he doesn't realize I have more than one spot. The old woman pets me, and she wants to know where I am when she doesn't see me.

Things are just fine, and the best part is that they've renamed me "Tom," I'm probably part bobcat considering how big and strong I am, according to the old man. But the real truth is that I'm just a big old mean cat who loves to be petted.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Boston to host gathering of LGBT journalists

What a great time of year for a quick getaway to New England. The Rare Reporter is escaping the unrelenting heat of the Texas summer as he heads to Boston for the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association's 22nd Convention and Ninth LGBT Media Summit.

That's right folks. It's informative, fun and tax-deductible so I'll be saving my receipts for sure.

I'll be joining hundreds of other media professionals at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers, which is in the Back Bay neighborhood near the city's South End gay entertainment district. The four-day event Aug. 22-25 will include 40 workshops, speaker luncheons, social events and dinners out on the town.

I've been to a number of these conferences over the years -- San Diego, New York City and Montreal to name a few -- where I always enjoy seeing journalists I've met in years past and making new friends to look forward to seeing again in the future. The workshops are always interesting, and of course, it's always fun to see big-name media celebrities in person.

This year, I will be honored to participate as a panelist in two workshops, "Boomer or Bust: Serving the Over-50 LGBT Population" and "Gay Press, Gay Power, Ensuring LGBT Media Future by Examining It's Past."

So Boston, here I come. I am so looking forward to visiting you for the first time.

For information, visit:  and


Friday, August 9, 2013

Facebook lays down law to The Rare Reporter; bans him for 12 hours

I had what seemed to be an encounter of the strange kind on Facebook last night when I posted what I considered to be a funny remark I overheard at the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. I included the photo you see above this post as an illustration.

The speaker at the luncheon, who specializes in helping small businesses get up and running as part of the Small Business Administration, shared some startling information. It seems that Americans dependency on the manufacture of products in other countries has reached the point that 90-percent-plus of all the men's underwear sold in retail stories in this country come from foreign countries, mostly Asia.

In response, one member of the audience who likes to crack jokes said, "I'm going to rip mine off right now," which drew a lot of laughter. (And no, I'm not the one who said that, although I admit it does sound like something I might say.)

The speaker pointed out that many Americans are beginning to realize that we probably need to again start manufacturing more of our own products in light of our struggling economy and high unemployment rate.

He noted that one company in the United States by the name of Flint and Tinder had started manufacturing men's underwear for this reason, and it was adding other products to its line. I looked up the website and discovered to my horror that a pair of men's made-in-America briefs cost about $25 each.

I didn't get into all of the specifics of the prices, etc., but I did think I would like to share with my Facebook friends that all of the men's underwear comes from foreign countries. And I wanted to share the guy's joke because I still thought it was funny.

This morning I was shocked to discover that someone had complained about me posting this photo and apparently relating the joke. The people who can see my posts are limited to my Facebook friends so I can't imagine who would have been offended by it.

Facebook informed me I was blocked from posting anything for 12 hours because I had violated the group's "community standards." I assumed that they meant the photo was too racy, but it seems so mild and representative of what can be seen on TV daily and in magazines, catalogs and newspapers that I was confused.

Now, I suspect that the reprimand resulted not as a result of the photo or the joke, but that the post inadvertently came across as a prejudicial statement to someone.

I sent Facebook a message asking for clarification, and within the hour I received an e-mail from someone I don't know who told me I was a "disgusting bigot" and a "repulsive hypocrite." I can't prove the message came from a Facebook employee as it was sent to my e-mail account and only contained the signature of an individual, but the timing seemed suspicious.

I also should mention that I recently complained about a short-lived consumer relationship with because the service failed to work. I noted that I spent two hours talking with seven people in a Philippines call center in a fruitless attempt to resolve the issue before going back to AT&T. Every person I spoke to told me something different about why I couldn't get my phone to work. It was especially confusing at times because of all the background chatter and poor telephone line connections. If the service had worked, there would not have been any problem.

I've still got another couple of hours to go before I can post again on Facebook, but I'm thinking maybe I don't want to be a part of it anymore. I've seen all kinds of pictures posted and things said on Facebook that I would never repeat, but I never complained about it. I just deleted the person who posted it from my group of friends if I found it that offensive.

If someone doesn't like what I have to say, why not just talk to me about it? I'm a reasonable person. If I say something that makes me sound like I am a bigot I would appreciate knowing it because I'm not.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beware those ads offering to cut your cell phone bills in half; you might wind up throwing money away, not talking

"Cut your cell phone bill in half, feel richer," the ad says, but is that really going to happen? Maybe not.

Those plans that offer to save you money on your wireless phone bills are only as reliable as their infrastructure and their customer service. If you live on Cedar Creek Lake, you might wind up throwing some money away if you choose to abandon your current carrier in favor of the "Straight Talk" lure.

The cards and the brochures are prominently displayed in the electronics department of the Gun Barrel City Walmart.

As it turns out, the talk might not be as straight as the advertising campaign claims, but buyer beware. claims in advertising materials it can allow you to bring your own phone and your same number to them, and they can cut your phone bill in half. It might work in some areas, but it sure didn't at my house.

I followed all of the instructions, ordering a SIM card and 30-day unlimited-use call card plan for my Apple iPhone 4 recently only to ultimately realize I had thrown $72.46 right out the window.

I am now struggling to retrieve my phone number that I have had for years back from and re-establish it with AT&T.

Last night when I first attempted to connect with online through those "easy activation steps" I wound up with an error message. As instructed I called the phone number I was given, and I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with three different people verbally giving them the information they needed.

About a couple of hours later the new phone service kicked in with, and I retired for the night feeling thrifty and successful. But that didn't last long.

This morning, my phone wouldn't work. It had a "no service" message on the screen. So back to the phone I went.

To make a long story short, I have spent at least two hours on the phone today with seven people who operate out of a call center office in the Philippines. I was told many different things, ranging from the cell phone tower in this area of Cedar Creek Lake needs attention to there is a problem with my phone.

During the day, the phone occasionally worked and then went back to "no service."

When I told representatives I wanted to go back to AT&T and asked for a refund, I was told the company policy is that there are no refunds for SIM cards and call plan cards. They suggested maybe I needed to by a new phone from them. If that turns out not to work, they will refund the price of the phone, they said.

By the end of the day I feel very foolish. It has disrupted my day and caused me problems with my wireless phone I still don't have resolved.

My mother's words that she used so often ring clearly in my head now, "You get what you pay for." I won't complain about my AT&T bill anymore. The phone always worked.