Saturday, December 31, 2005

December 31, 2005 11:59:55 PM


This year of 2005 could go down in history as being my "annus horribilis(and no, that does NOT mean horrible anus, although I have met one or two of those in my day - but that's another story). The term was used by Queen Elizabeth II to describe 1992 - the year that the marriages of her two sons, Charles and Andrew, broke down and Windsor Castle caught fire (please Lizzie, two divorces and a couple of lost paintings can hardly compare to my turmoil! Leave it to a Queen to get dramatic.)

I think I had alot to stress about throughout this past year: an ended relationship, my nipple ring being yanked out, the heart attack, the heart surgery, the 6-week recovery, my muscles degenerating, the relocation to Chicago, the remodeling in my new apartment and not having a kitchen for two months, leaving my family and all my friends, the new job hunt, and being unemployed for 4 months.


Yeah, my relationship with Ex#5 ended back in the Spring (but I met someone else (The BF) a few months later who entertains me, challenges me, adores me, makes me feel sexy, and makes me smile almost constantly).

So, the nipple ring got yanked out (but it healed, and quite nicely too).

Yeah, there was a heart attack and surgery (but I never would have gotten to spend that wonderful time with my family while I was recovering had it not been for that. That is time I never would have been able to have any other way).

My muscles went soft and I lost some of the hard work I had been doing the last 4 years (but I am able to go to the gym again and it will all come back, probably quickly).


Living in an apartment without a kitchen and partial bathroom for two months sucked (but I did it before back in DC and it turned out fine. This did too).

Leaving my friends and family was hard (but the true friends are staying in touch with me and always will, and I am making new ones here).

Leaving my old job in DC was sad for me (but I found one in Chicago that I like alot and presents new challenges).

And being unemployed for 4 months sucked (but I know of some people who have been unemployed for much longer and have nothing to fall back on).


One of my saving graces in all of this was my ever-fabulous roommate, Ashley. Without him, I would have suffered even more. With each passing day I kept asking the powers-that-be why I was going through test after test? Where was the logic? Where were the answers? Ash made it bearable. He was with me through it all: listening to me bellyache, supporting my relocation to Chicago, visiting me in the hospital, packing all my shit and moving it across country, and then supporting me (both emotionally and financially) while unemployed.

I went through several extreme tests this year - the kind that help you realize who your friends are, the people you can count on, who has your back, who is there for you. If this was to be the lesson, then consider it learned. Thinking back on my annus horribilis, I had it tough - but it could have been alot tougher.


So . . .

Friday, December 30, 2005

Dateless With Boyfriend

Tomorrow night is New Year's Eve, and once again I will find myself without a date at midnight even though I am dating someone. This has long been a tradition with me. I always seem to be single at midnight on New Year's Eve even during those times when I am involved.

It started back with Ex#1, who broke up with me at 11:45PM on 12/31/88 because he didn't want to start the new year knowing that we would not make it to the end of 1989. Dick.

Ex#2 and I had two NYEs while dating. However we were both in college at the time and on winter break so we were never geographically together.

Ex#3 and I just had bad luck: the first NYE we decided to go to Badlands in DC. He arrived before me and the line to get in the door took forever so it was after midnight by the time I caught up to him inside. The following year, we split up on December 28th and he flew to Amsterdam to celebrate New Years (but that's another story).

Ex#4 and I went to Nation in DC together to ring in the new year. But the place was packed and we ended up getting separated somehow - finally finding each other about 10 minutes past midnight.

My situation with Ex#5 was just the opposite: he and I were actually together on New Year's Eve and we actually got to kiss at 12. But he was bartending and I couldn't really be "with" him the rest of the night.

And this time The BF is working at BMG all night.

A friend of mine has been invited to several house parties, so I will probably tag along to one, some or all of those (besides I never really understood having to pay $20 to get into a bar that doesn't charge a cover any other time of the year). I will eventually find The BF the next day. Perhaps it shouldn't be the desire to have that one person at midnight for a few minutes, but the serenity of just knowing he is out there while the world goes crazy the rest of the year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holiday Guilt Derailed

I have a (nasty?) habit of rolling my eyes. I do it alot. I've been called out by just about everyone. Apparently my poker face does not include my eyes, which give me away every time. So if my eyes roll at any slight annoyance, they must have been avalanching while opening the gifts my parents mailed to me.

I waited until Christmas night to open my gifts, as is tradition in my family. Even though the box arrived on the 19th, I waited a week to open it. But I am good like that. A wrapped present could sit within sight for a year and not bother me. I don't shake, weigh, or sniff wrapped packages trying to guess contents. I am a curious person by nature, but getting gifts has never been my strong suit. By and large, I hate getting gifts. I am awkward and completely out of my element when receiving or opening a present from . . . well, anyone.

For this, I totally blame my parents. Over the last 20 years of my adult life, they have proceeded to buy me the most ridiculous presents given to a person. To their defense, I am a difficult person to buy for - every boyfriend has told me this. One Christmas, Ex#4 handed me his credit card and said, "Here, I give up." But I kinda like being hard to buy for. I like that it actually takes some thought in order to pick out a present or gift for me. I'd rather not be the recipient of a present someone bought at the last minute. But in a perfect world, I would rather not receive a present at all. Any gift that I have to unwrap, I probably won't enjoy (98% of the time).

Gifts that people give you will reflect the giver's image of you. And as much as I love my parents, I sometimes wonder if they have any idea who I am, merely based on the presents they have given me:

Three years ago was my "Sam's Christmas". In a last ditch effort, my parents gave me the gift of bulk: a 36-box count of small cereal boxes, a 50-pack assortment of Frito-Lay snacks, and a super-sonic rug scrubber (which was perfect for my all-hardwood floor apartment).

Two years ago, I got a cassette tape of Barry Manilow's greatest hits. 1) I don't like Barry Manilow, 2) I haven't owned a cassette player since 1992, and 3) Barry Manilow?? I also received a sweatshirt with the name of my hometown embroidered on the front.

Eyes rolling.

Last year I got a duffle bag, the size of which is perfect for those random six month ski trips or smuggling five small Asian children into slavery. Otherwise, it's too big for a weekend trip and just a tad too small for, say, covering the backhoe for winter.

This year has been no exception. Among the gifts was a Teddy Bear, to which Mom attached a note that read, "Hi, I am your new friend. I will be here for you to talk to when you are sad or feel lonely." (Apparently she equates Chicago with Siberia and thinks I am 6 years old and living in an igloo.) Mom, if I start talking to this bear, I have bigger problems than just being lonely.

Another gem in the gift box was a small wooden replica of my parents' church. She said I could just put it in a drawer and pull it out when I want to look at it (sweetie, that's called porno, not church). I guess one day I will be laying in bed and think to myself, "You know, I would really like to look at the ole' neighborhood church right now, thank God Mom gave me that plaque. Why, I happen to have it right here in this drawer. Let me sit it on this shelf and just look at it for a few minutes."

Eyes rolling.

I have begged repeatedly for them to stop. I suggested spending the money on their grandchildren or each other. I already own everything I want or need. I don't like clutter and I seldom save anything that doesn't fit in my scrapbooks. I have very few posessions and I like it that way. I have offered the option of just giving me the cash instead, but my mother insists that I open a present on Christmas night. I have argued that I can open an envelope as easily as opening a wrapped box, but to no avail. And I don't really suffer in silence as this has become somewhat of a running joke in my family. So I grin and bear it. And bitch about it to anyone who will listen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Holiday Guilt

I am admittedly having some guilty feelings following Christmas this year. When I moved to Chicago in September, I decided to go home for only one holiday this time, and I chose Thanksgiving.

My decision had nothing to do with being with my family. I know I am a strange duck when it comes to them; unlike many gay men, I actually adore both my parents, and my relationship with my siblings is very close. I actually enjoy being around those people. Missing Christmas with them was difficult for me, especially given the summer I had. When Dad had his surgery (same type as mine) back in 2001, we were all so grateful to be together on Christmas that it made the holiday that much more special. Now I feel like I dropped the ball for my team on this one. In hindsight, I should have made more of an effort to be home so that no one might have the troubling thought of "well, this is what it might have been like had Dop not pulled through" (whether you admit it or not, I don't think you can actually help but have those thoughts, however fleeting).

Part of me still feels a bit guilty for having put my family and friends through my ordeal. I know it wasn't my fault, but I still feel bad that so much of a fuss was caused over me. And now I feel guilty that I didn't try harder to not cause more fuss. It was all about me for so long, that I didn't stop to think about my family, and how it might be important to THEM for me to be around, whether or not it was an inconvenience for me. I should have thought of them as much as they thought of me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

2 No U 2

I am still amazed that there are people out there who check in every few days, if not everyday, to read what I have written on my blog. I mean, I think the stuff I write is kinda interesting, but it surprises me that others think so too.

For those of you who check out my blog often, I would like to know a little about you too. There are people right here in Chicago, some back in DisCo, some from all over the world. If you'd like to share some information about you too, feel free to drop me an

Thanks for staying tuned and have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dop TV

Here's what's playing on the cable channels in Dop's mind:

Discovery Channel: I have decided to close down my website because everything I have on there has wound up on my blog at some point.

BRAVO TV: Santino, on Project Runway, is the devil's spawn.

MSNBC: Rita Cosby sounds like a tranny (have you heard her speak??).

Family Channel: I found out in a conversation with Dad that my great-grandfather won my great-grandmother in a poker game in 1904 (another piece to the puzzle).

HEALTH: Why is throwing a cigarette on the ground or out a car window not considered littering? (Also being shown on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360".)

E!: I don't understand why Bill Murray got such accolades for "Lost In Translation".

Style Network: I finally am able to do a little shopping in my favourite store but they don't have anything I like at the moment.

Headline News: I've got one gay nerve left and Nancy Grace is standing on it.

HGTV: I bought a shag rug for my bedroom floor and I think I might marry it.

Lifetime: I recently finished reading A Separate Peace and I think everyone should read it. Right now.

Food Network: My mom sent me a care package on Monday with Christmas cookies and snacks. Three days later and they are almost all gone.

MTV: I heart Green Day and I am pulling for them at the Grammys. And I can pull hard.

CNN: I believe Saddam Hussein might have been roughed up a bit, but not tortured while in US custody. However, I do find it plausible that a soldier took his watch as a souvenir. I would have.

TLC: We repainted the kitchen a cinnamon spice colour and it looks 100% better. (Sponsored by Home Depot - "You can do it. We can help".)

ESPN: After almost a month absence, I started back to the gym this week after discovering a Bally's around the corner from my office.

ESPN2: I've never seen eyebrows like Nathan Vasher's on a straight man (I'm just sayin').

Animal Planet: I prefer the Labradoodle over the Puggle.

The Weather Channel: I never thought I would ever be excited for 30 degree weather; and consider it a heat wave.

TMC: Last week, I Netflixed "Judgment at Nuremburg". It is brilliantly acted and highly recommended. (Also being shown on TNT, TBS and simulcast on AOL.)

Brokeback Molehill

I wouldn't be a gay man if I didn't blog about THE movie. And I already know I am going to catch holy hell for this and possibly have to return the toaster oven, but I fail to understand all the hype around "Brokeback Mountain". Admittedly, a nice short story. Given, excellent cinematography. Yeah, it's a good movie. But hardly a gay movie. Sex with one man does not make another man gay (I haven't had sex with a woman since I was 28; but if I did it tomorrow, would I suddenly be straight again? Not to mention single, because The BF would dump my ass.). I think more is being made of this than needs to be.

This is a movie about two men who love each other. My brother openly admits that he loves his best friend since high school; both men are straight, married, and have not had sex with each other (that I know of). And even if they had, that would not make them gay. If this is a movie about sex, well I already own seven movies with cowboys having sex, and none of them was nominated for an Oscar (and who out there doesn't expect a porno called "Bareback Mountain"?)

But then, what defines a person's sexuality is as touchy as defining sex itself. For some people, kissing is considered sex, while others think penetration must happen before it can be called sex. My thought definition of sex is "ejaculation with participation" (a handjob without a climax is nothing more than a massage, really). Some say both people have to climax, some say just one. It just depends on your own defintion. Like pornography: "I can't define it but I know it when I see it".

I know the argument already - these two characters in this movie are in love with each other - that's supposed to be the difference. But as I have stated here before, I think we love everyone in our lives the same amount - we just prefer to be with some people more than others. The more time we spend with someone, the more we self-hypnotize ourselves into loving one person more than another.

I've been in a few relationships with men.
Did I love them? Yes, and I still do. All of them, even way back to Ex#1, which was in 1988. And even if weeks, months, or years go by between conversations, I would still drop what I was doing to help them all out. These are men I will love the rest of my life. Lifelong love - isn't that Brokeback's theme? Those characters only had it once. And so far, I had it at least 5 times. Someone write a short story about me!

Don't get me wrong, I am all for this film. I think it needs to be made, because the only way the world will be ready for it is to see it over and over again. I wish, however, that the characters were gay and not straight and married. My fear is that because the relationship in the film/book began so innocently, straight men all over the world are going to be collectively yelling, "What the fuck???"

This movie might help validate the feelings of those gay men who had difficulty coming to terms with being gay. Perhaps it will be good for them to see that other men struggle with the decision to fall in love with another man. I didn't have that trouble, personally. One morning, at 20 years old, I woke up next to my best friend at the time and thought, "Huh. Whaddyaknow?"

Michael Medved was on "Paula Zahn Now" last week arguing that this movie is horrible because these men are nothing more than adulterers, it promotes the gay agenda to destroy traditional marriage, and that the characters should not be glorified or honored.


Remember Gladiator, a story about a man who killed others just for the sport of it? It won an Oscar for Best Picture in 2000. Denzel Washington's character in Trading Day was hardly respectable, but he won an Oscar in 2001. And there's more - based on characters who are far worse than mere adulterers. Maybe we should all just be cowboys now. Perhaps the gay population should actually embrace the NRA. Give the Mo's some guns and let them kill people just for the sport of it, just like Maximus did. Maybe then we will be respected and adored and be given some awards.

But Brokeback is about love, not death. The cowboys don't kill anyone or each other. They represent what real gay men and women experience all over the world every day - fear of ridicule and hate only because of who we love. And just like real people, these cowboy characters are already hated by some of the movie-going public because of what they do and not who they are. Is America ready for this? Probably not. But it's got to start sometime.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Last Friday night my roommate, Ashley, and I coupled up with downstairs roommates, Brandon and Darnell, and held what may become our annual Glühwein Christmas party. Glühwein (Glow wine in German) is a hot, spiced wine also known as mulled wine. In essence, the drink consists of wine and spices heated to just below boiling point before drinking. Admittedly, the first swallow of the stuff tastes a bit bitter and it's easy to put down after that. But it was an acquired taste, and I acquired me some 18 glasses of the stuff by the end of the night.

The party consisted of the four of us, and 152 of our friends. Both floors of the house were open with the downstairs apartment being more party-ish and the upstairs apartment being more loungey. We also had lots of other alcohol and a vodka/cranberry/lemonade drink in pitchers. The party started at 8 and lasted until about 1:30.

Surprisingly, the house didn't get that wrecked. The first floor apartment was worse than the second floor, but all in all it cleaned up quickly. No one threw up and nothing got spilled, which is amazing considering so many people were crammed into the space (the only real mess came when some idiot put a Fresca in the freezer and it exploded). With the exception of one guest who kept insisting I stand on the Vita-Mix blender to prove that it would not break beneath my weight, everyone was nice, normal, and friendly.

All in all, very festive, very Christmas-y, and very fun.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Because It IS A Christmas Tree, Dammit!

First of all, my housemates and I are expecting 152 people in our house tonight, according to the acceptances on the E-vite. I am sure I will have something to say about all this after the weekend. In the meantime - pray for me.

Last week, when W was getting guff about sending out "Happy Holiday" greetings instead of "Merry Christmas" greetings, I had to just shake my head. FAR BE IT FOR ME TO TAKE W's SIDE ON ANYTHING, but it's just gotten out of hand.

As Laura Bush's press secretary put it, "Their cards in recent years have included best wishes for a holiday season, rather than Christmas wishes, because they are sent to people of all faiths." But we all know that W and Laura are born-again, evangelical Christians so why shouldn't they be allowed to send out Christmas cards wishing people a Merry Christmas without someone bursting into flames over it. All the problems in this administration (scandals, corruption, lies, war), and someone picks THIS to be mad at W about???

Is it such an affront to one's senses to be wished a happy and safe holiday even though said one might not celebrate it? Is that really so damned offensive? Is wishing a Jew a "Merry Christmas" such a slap in the face? I am a Christian, but if someone yelled out to me "Yo dude, Happy Hanukkah!", I'd merely say thanks and go on my way.

Some argue that its just the "assumption" that is so bothersome - that "because I am like this, everyone else is like this too". For example, someone assuming I am straight and then me having to make the correction. Truthfully, it depends on who was making the assumption: if it was someone who mattered to me, someone I would see often or someone with personal contact with me, I would make the correction. But if it was someone else, say the security guard in my office building asking if my wife and I had a nice weekend, I would simply smile, say yes and thank him. Then forget about it. No harm. And it was nice he even asked at all.

Religious conservatives have been pissed off because "Christ" is being taken out of Christmas. People use the abbreviated "Xmas" in lieu of writing out the entire word. Everyone does "holiday shopping" now instead of "Christmas shopping". Kids in schools are sent home for winter break instead of Christmas vacation. Now, there is talk about calling it a Holiday Tree instead of a Christmas tree.

A little history lesson: the fir tree was initially chosen by a monk in the 7th century as a symbol of Christmas because of its triangular shape, representing the holy trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). It came to be revered as God's tree. It's been called a Christmas tree for about, oh, 500 years. Martin Luther (not King) decorated the first Christmas tree in the 16th century by putting candles on a small pine tree. Eventually people followed suit, then started buying crafts and decoration to put on their trees during Christmas time and, VOILA - Christmas tree. See, it's called a Christmas tree because it IS a Christmas Tree.

Do some Africans celebrate the "Seven Holiday Principles"? Do the Jews light "Holiday Candles"? Truth is, the Jews don't really consider Hanukkah to be all that. It's the Christians who turned Hanukkah into such a big deal because we felt guilty for grabbing so much attention during Christmas, that we thought the Jews should be able to have a big celebration too. However you don't see the Christians running to church during Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, which are bigger celebrations to the Jews than Hanukkah. And quite frankly, I know a good many Christians who would benefit greatly from a day of atonement.

Maybe all this was started because a school didn't want the one Jewish kid in the class to feel ostracized or left-out. But aren't kids more sophisticated now? I remember in grade school a girl named Terry was a Jehovah's Witness and would sit in class alone while all the other kids in the school would gather in the auditorium to watch Christmas shows (she also wouldn't recite the Pledge of Allegiance which always baffled me - I mean we are just pledging our loyalty to America, not kissing the Pope's ring). Isn't it the responsibility of the school system to explain about different cultures and religions? Should Terry have been left alone in a classroom for several hours at a time? Yeah, she could be back then in the 70's, because times were easier. Today, a teacher might get fired for leaving a child unattended. But that's today. Teachers are more aware, and kids are more savvy.

Why can't we just all have our own separate holidays? We are so busy being politically correct that the whole thing ends up sounding stupid. I refuse to wish anyone a "Merry Christmahanukkwanzaakahs". That's the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. These are three seperate holidays for three seperate groups -and it's ok that they are separate (besides, we dont go around in April wishing everyone a Happy EasPesFreeachterdom). I'd rather just wish someone a "Happy December".

So how about this - how about only sending Christmas cards to people you know? If someone is really your friend, you know if he/she is Christian or Jewish or Muslim or whatever. Those are the people who deserve your wishes and greetings - your friends. Businesses and companies should just stop sending cards altogether. I mean, it's nice that they want to spread a little goodwill but it's mostly just a marketing ploy anyway. I don't really believe they care about me in that way. And I've never heard one of my bosses say, "Well we aren't going to do business with that company anymore because they didn't send us a Christmas card last year." I've never gotten a card from Club Monaco and I spend money in that store like it's my job. For that matter, you think W really gives a hang about all the people who got a card from him? All you have to do is send a letter or email to the White House and you get put on a mailing list, which includes getting a card from the president.

I personally will be celebrating Christmas. If you want to wish me a Happy Hanukkah or a Joyous Kwanzaa, then thank you for the wish. I am wishing you what Christmas means to me - the spirits of goodwill, giving and family, and the joy of new beginnings.

And if that offends you in any way, then bah humbug.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

And Hallmark Vomits

I love my best friend, Jeff. But clearly, he needs help. Allow me to share a few pictures of Jeff's house during Christmas time. And yes, the inside is just as bad. Sigh . . .

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cause I'm A Workin' Man

So I FINALLY got a job last week. I started this past Monday. I am working in the marketing department of an insurance investment firm. The office consists of about 45 people. And true to Chicago-fashion, everyone here is extremely friendly. The staff is primarily young - the 15 or so traders all look to be late 20's/early 30's - so the energy is high and fast.

My new boss is a big football fan. More to the point, a huge football fan. Morer to the point, a huge Steelers fan. Her love of this team borders on the obsessive. Steelers poster, wall clock, drinking cup, mousepad, desk calendar, computer wallpaper, and framed autographs flood her office (and yeah, she hails from Pittsburgh). She even wears a yellow and black rubber wristband and attends the annual one-day training the Steelers do for their fans in June. It's comical, I guess because she doesn't even strike me as someone who would be so into football. Yesterday, after her 8th harangue on the Steelers, I suggested she attend a support group.

But sports is to Chicago what politics is to DC. I went to a Christmas party the other night and tried to talk to some people about Libby, Cheney, Rumsfeld and all the corruption in the administration, and one guy stopped me and said, "Um, we don't really care about that stuff here. But don't you agree that the Blackhawks basically suck no matter where they play?" It has not been easy to discuss my disdain of W or my Rove-loathe with people here. So now I need to learn things (like details about the Bears 8-game winning streak) and I have to choose whether I like the Cubs or the Sox (you can't like both here - it's one or the other).

But I digress . . .

It feels good to be back in the work force again. It will be much easier putting myself on a schedule and routine now. Trips to the gym will be more regulated, meals will be eaten at more specific times, and surely this will only help improve my health in the long-run. It's good to be back.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Gettin' Nippy

Perhaps an answer to the age-old question: Why do men have nipples?

This topic has come up during random get-togethers, drunkfests, and post coital lethargies. I have never understood why men have nipples - I was always just really thankful I had mine.

I have endured a love/hate relationship with my partners in (certain) crime. They have been pierced, ripped, pinched, tweaked, yanked, caught, licked, flicked, bitten, sucked, twisted, kissed, chewed, and spat on. They've had a myriad of things spread on them from wax to honey to nutella. They cast an almost hypnotic spell over the men who are allowed near them.

And my friends - I ain't complaining!

I remember being in my 20's and having men thinking they were sending me up The River Ecstacy by fondling "the twins". Back then, my nipples were nothing more than discolored skin. There was no feeling of pleasure associated with them. I would basically just let the guys go through the motions - not really understanding that there could possibly be some great joy accompanying these actions.

And then after I turned 30, something amazing happened. I began dating Ex#3 and one random night he gave some attention to the nipples and I had to be peeled off the ceiling. It was as if overnight, the sensory nerves clicked in and KAPOW! I had NIPPLES!!!!!

The intensity only increased upon having one pierced. And even though the ring got yanked out (my skin healed almost perfectly, by the way, thanks for asking), the sensitivity never went away. Go Team!

So to those of you in your 20's whose little soldiers haven't stood at attention yet, be patient. It might happen a little later than you think - and it is well worth waiting for.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Have A Blue Christmas!

Borrowed from my friend Rajeev - you might want to check out this site before patronizing some stores or companies while you are doing your holiday shopping this season. It's always interesting to discover who your money helps out.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

You Can't Spell WAR Without "W"

An argument that has been ongoing since the beginning of the war is the fact that W has refused to attend funerals of those service men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan - not in defense of their country, but to promote W’s idea of what democracy is all about. “Do it our way or die” could certainly be W’s phrase for the war. And since fighting began in March 2003, over 2,000 American men and women have left their families, their homes, and all that they know and love to live thousands of miles away because their commander-in-chief has ordered them to do so. And in doing what he has told them to do, they have paid the ultimate sacrifice – and the man who risked their lives in order to promote his agenda cannot seem to bring himself to attend one single funeral.

From Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon during the nation-splitting Vietnam conflict, to Bill Clinton praying with families in a hangar at Fort Benning when caskets of troops killed in action in Somalia returned, our leaders have always paid respects to the dead heroes and consoled the living. Even if they cannot attend funerals, the leaders honor the military on days like Veteran’s Day.

But we all remember that W used this past Veteran’s Day to swipe at Democrats and not to praise those who are fighting in the Middle East. He spoke a lot about his reasons for the war, but not about how to end the war. He failed in his speech to support veterans by calling for a thorough investigation into the way intelligence was used to sell Congress and the American people on the war that they are now stuck fighting (it’s a shame that W doesn’t think he owes that to the people who have been bravely carrying out his plans.)

Attending our soldiers funerals is the least W could do considering when he had a chance to fight for his country in Vietnam, he chose not to go and stayed in Texas where it was safe. To see him pretend to be a soldier now is a disgrace to the American Armed Forces that put their lives on the line every day. I don’t suggest that W attends every funeral. But certainly one a month by random selection or even perhaps the funeral of the 2,000th serviceman who died because of W’s ideas.

His attendance at these services would not show him as a weak leader, but it would certainly send a message back to the armed forces that he cares about them and recognizes their sacrifices. And it's time W assumes his title of commander in chief and everything that goes with that title.

Friday, December 02, 2005

"Bus Stop, Wet Day, She's There, I Say, Please Share My Umbrella" **

One of the reasons for me moving to Chicago was to reinvigorate myself - to recall and to do the things I used to love doing, and to try new things. The list will continue to grow, but the one thing I am doing in Chicago is riding the CTA bus. I never took the bus in DC. I took the Metrorail (subway), but not the bus. I actually don't know ANYONE in DC who took the bus. It seemed to be an unspoken rule that the bus line was a "lower" form of transportation (people actually cringe at the suggestion of taking a public bus anywhere in the city). The Metrorail, DC Cab, bicycle, skateboard and Vespa-esque scooter were the only ways to get around town if you didn't own an automobile or use shoe leather.

But in Chicago, everybody hops on the bus at some point. I live between two major buslines running north and south - #36 Broadway and #22 Clark. The Broadway bus drops me off a block from The BF, and the Clark bus drops me off a block from my house (going to his place I take #36, coming home I take #22 - I'm lazy like that). Both run practically parallel through the North part of the city. The bus has actually been a really great way for me to familiarize myself with the streets between Andersonville and Boystown (roughly 30 blocks or so), and the shopping/restaurant/neighborhoods districts along the way. I take the EL alot too (Chicago's railway/subway system), but that's mostly for downtown or Loop trips.

I have noticed, however, something unusual about riding on the bus. Everyone who sits near me smells either like cigarettes or a burrito (does everyone either exits a bar or a Taco Bell before jumping on the #22?). I also wonder why it is impossible for some to egress the vehicle through the back door, as requested via PSA every so many miles. It definitely speeds things up to have exiters leave out the back while enterers load in the front (if I can fit through the back door - just about anyone can).

Another thing I have found is that the drivers are by and large a pretty friendly bunch. I have seen them offer to wait for commuters who need to get change from a store. I have seen them wait for pedestrians who need to cross a few lanes of traffic to board the bus. One time, I saw a driver politely wake an older man on the bus to ask him what his stop was so he would not miss it. I can honestly say I doubt I would ever see this type of behavior from DC bus drivers. In DC, I saw people chasing buses pulling away from bus stops, pounding on the door to get on as the bus continue to drive away (maybe this is just another example of midwestern politeness).

A bus/EL ride in Chicago is $1.75 no matter where you are going. In DC, the price starts at $1.35 and then escalates from there, depending on how far you are going or whether it's Rush Hour (I love how DC calls its Rush Hour fare the "regular rate" and all other times are "reduced rate", when e'erbody knows that the Rush Hour rates are increased).

God, this blog turned out longer than I expected. In any event, I move forward in trying new things out here. And right now I am late for a dinner date. Rest assured, I will be taking the bus to get there.

** "Bus Stop"; The Hollies

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Who The Hell Is Ryan Seacrest’s Agent?

Today I read that Seabiscuit is basically taking over New Year's Eve from Dick Clark. What is he being groomed for? Admittedly, eventually, Dick has to stop (ahem). But why in the hell are they going with Gaycrest?

Have you checked out his resume? Other than the American Idol gig, and the On Air talk show he had for one season, he is also the current host of American Top 40 AND he hosts a radio talk show on KIIS.FM in Los Angeles where he talks about such important topics as “girls farting more than guys” and “what makes a woman a skank”. Classy. He also has his own clothing line out – that’s right, she designs too – called The R Line (The R presumably standing for “really over-rated”). Are there actually men out there who want to dress like him?

PEOPLE Magazine has voted him one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” (even though I think he looks like a ventriloquist dummy) and one of their 2005’s “Most Eligible Bachelors” (a list he’ll probably be on for quite some time, wink wink). He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Whoever sponsored that should be trampled to death. And then perhaps peed on.

Seawitch has also hosted the Tsunami Relief Concert, the Billboard Music Awards, the Radio Music Awards, the American Music Awards (where he ripped Kathy Griffin’s blouse open on stage – and I heart me some Kathy Griffin), the Emmy Awards, Playboy’s 50th Anniversary, he has guest hosted for Larry King, and been on all the major talk shows. Why? is my question. He’s not that good at what he does.

On the subject of Idol, what did Seacrest have over Brian Dunkleman, his co-host on the first season? Why was Seacrest brought back for Season Two, but not Dunkleman (my guess is Dunkleman showed more contempt at the pathetic one-liners they had to deliver)? Frankly, I thought Brian was a lot cuter than the botoxed, teeth-bleached Sea-urchin (Brian was kind of a grown up Harry Potter after RK surgery). And c’mon – NOBODY has Ryan’s kind of energy (except maybe this woman, sniff sniff).

I mean, I don’t hate the man. I just fail to see what all the hype is about and how he has gotten so far. I guess it comes from blowing off your competition. (Rim shot, please Mr. Drummer?) I tend to cringe when I see him as part of anything and I am almost embarrassed for America that he is touted as Hollywood journalism’s golden boy. I have yet to see his talent although his ambition is quite clear. But he has a face for radio and I wish he would just stick to that.

And by the way, does it get any gayer than this?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

And just in time for the holidays, I want to give some recognition to my hunky friend Dave who drew this great cartoon of me (he added a Santa hat for the holidays), which I also use as the image on my blog. It’s a pretty good likeness of me, I must tell you – even as flattering as it is (Beef in a Jeep is my internet nickname).

Dave lives in San Diego and is one of the most creative people I know. Not only can he draw things like this, he can also paint legit likenesses and portraits, as well as other inspired works. I suggest visiting Dave’s website to see his other work. His art is for sale, or you can commission him to do something for you, just like I did.

I am honored to be included in his portfolio. He also helped me create the picture below that I wanted to give to my friend Kelly for “her birthday/my going away” present. I love this picture – it’s fun, imaginative and definitely unique (however 7 of me in one room doesn’t really leave room for anyone else). More fun orojects to come, Dave!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

November 29th

If you wonder what this blog entry is about, just click here.

2004 – Took the day off; went shopping at Crate & Barrel and Target with my then Ex#5.

2003 – Went to The Melting Pot for dinner and drinks with Ex#4, friend Marcus, and four of his friends.

2002 – Still home on the day after Thanksgiving, and NOT shopping.

2000 – My friend Steve visits from Florida for a few days.

1998 – Had dinner with Ex#3 at Timberlakes in DC, then go to JR’s for drinks.

1996 – Still visiting parents for Thanksgiving; attending a birthday party for my brother Matt; had the tires aligned on the jeep.

1995 – A date with Brian, go for hot chocolate at Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill.

1993 – Attend “Ms. Gay Maryland Pageant” in Baltimore with friends.

1992 – Dinner at Bob Evans with Ex#2, Leigh, Dar, and Meredith; watch the movie “The Accused” at Leigh’s place.

1990 – Dinner with my friend Steve Eames in Dupont at Boss Shepherd’s, then go to Pentagon City Mall.

1988 – Last day of work with Ticor Realty Tax Services in Annandale, VA

1986 – Visit ex-fiance Crystal in her new apartment in Williamsport, MD

1985 – High school best friend Dave, Dayna, Leslie and I go to HoJo’s for late-night dinner.

1984 – Thanksgiving Day

1983 – Celebrated Jason Brode’s birthday after Senior Play rehearsal of “Dust In Your Eyes”

1982 – Teach Cub Scout meeting; evening play practice for Junior Play “A Storm In The Dorm”

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ground-less Computing

Last night at 6:00, before going to a Blue Man Group show (a "must see" by the way), The BF and I thought we would stop into Caribou Coffee for a cup’a Joe to kill some time and just relax. But after entering the coffee shop, I was disappointed to find that out of the 30 or so tables in the shop, none of them were available. And to make matters worse, only one of those used 30 tables was being taken up by coffee drinkers. The other 29 tables served as desks for 29 laptop users.

Caribou is not an internet café, it’s a coffee shop. They might be a “hotspot”, but that is not meant to invite every laptop user in the city to come to their establishment and take up valuable real estate for people who are actually purchasing their product and are being socially interactive. Once more for emphasis - socially interactive.

Laptop users leave their homes to sit in the proximity of people to whom they will not speak to send messages and emails to people who aren’t there.  It is as if they are saying to the world, “See me? I am important. I have things to do. And since there is no one in my apartment to see me doing this thing I am doing, I wanted to come here so someone could see me doing it.” A quick scan of the tables also showed that only 5 of the 29 actually had a product purchased from Caribou Coffee on their tables. The others were just freely using property. It’s like going into Nordstrom and changing into an outfit off the rack, and then wearing it around the store while you shop. Or going to an auto dealership and sitting in a car all day so no one else can test drive it.

Granted, there are plenty of people who legitimately take their laptops to other locations in order to work, play, or chat with friends. I have been one of those people. My apartment is currently a war zone. My landlord decided (two weeks after I moved in) that my bathroom and kitchen needed remodeling. As a result, the dining room is housing the boxes of cupboards, the new dishwasher, and the hood microwave; which means all the dining room chairs are now in the living room. Every surface in my apartment is covered in white plaster dust. And since the contractors show no signs of completing this gig any time soon, I tend to escape my surroundings once every few weeks, but only during the day when Caribou and Starbucks are basically empty.

I guess it would be nice if other laptop users were as aware of their surroundings as I am when I take my laptop for a field trip. Coffee shops might be fine for computer users during the day, but they should be given back to the coffee drinkers at night.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Black Friday

Having spent some time in retail in my 20’s, let me pass on a gem of knowledge to all you shoppers: there is nothing – nothing – that you can buy the day after Thanksgiving that won’t also be available three days before Christmas at a fraction of the cost. Nothing.

Macy’s will always sell that comforter set. Footlocker will always sell the best basketball shoe. And the Gap has bought so many black mock turtlenecks that they will be marked down to $6.97 on December 20th. The great sales that Wal-Mart, Target and Sears use to lure you in to their stores at 5:30 AM will be but mere markdowns when compared to the prices the panicked merchants will be setting just days before Christmas (‘cause they don’t want to be stuck with that crap the last week of December when their spring stuff is coming to the stores in two weeks).

I am not sure where this tradition started, but it invokes insanity with no comparison. After having to work a few Black Friday’s in my time, I always swore to never step foot in a store or shopping mall on that day again as a consumer. People are rude, pushy, loud and abrasive. They yell at you. And the whole “Well I don’t know what my child is going to do if she wakes up on Christmas morning and a “Bluey Chewy” (or whatever the hell is popular that year) isn’t under the tree for her!” Know what will happen? Your ungrateful child might be mad and might even cry. And if she does, you can consider yourself one of the worst parents in the world. Not because you didn’t get the toy, but because you placed so much emphasis on something that has little to no real value and in 5 months will come to mean nothing to your child anyway.

And another thing, leaving the Labor Day picnic to buy a sweater for Aunt Tillie is considered “shopping early”. Picking out a tie for Cousin Mel while paying for little Bobby’s Hallowe’en costume is “shopping early”. Not being able to get a savings bond for the new nephew because the banks are closed for Veterans’ Day is attempting to shop early, however even that is cutting it close. But putting the Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge after lunch and heading to the mall is not considered “getting a jump start”. If you are doing any holiday shopping in a store that is already selling holiday decorations, you are not shopping early. And mobbing the Hallmark store on December 26th in order to get next year’s wrapping paper is just plain pathetic.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Tomorrow I battle the elements, technology, and 40 million of my closest friends on my journey home for Thanksgiving.

In my family, Thanksgiving is a much bigger deal than Christmas. My mother insists that all of us are home on that day. She doesn’t so much care where we are for Christmas, but on Thanksgiving Day she wants all of us around her table. My brother Matt lost a job at Lowe’s during college because he couldn’t work on Thanksgiving. Mom didn’t bat an eyelash. She doesn’t ask much of us, so it’s really easy to give her this one day.

Mom has a large family, with 5 sisters and 3 brothers. All of them are married and all have children and grandchildren. Some of her siblings even have great-grandchildren. And they ALL come to my parents' place for dinner. My mom began hosting Thanksgiving at her house in 1971, the year her father passed away. This year marks Mom’s 34th year of playing hostess.

We traditionally begin eating in shifts at 2:00 around two large tables. First, the men eat so that they can retire back to the living rooms (Mom has one and Dad has one) to watch whatever football games are playing. Second shift is when all the kids eat, after which they all go upstairs to one of the bedrooms (where Dad has put a Playstation in one, puzzles and books in another, a television with videos in another) or they head outside, weather (and God) permitting. Third shift is the women (I know this all sounds horribly Mesolithic) which is actually the best time to eat because then you aren’t rushed or have to get up for the next person. It is also this shift that Mom finally eats and all of us (her four kids) eat with her.

My trip home will take me almost 12 hours. My flight out of O’Hare is at 11AM, but I figure I need to get there by about 9AM to allow for all the delays I would expect (so I am leaving my house around 8 tomorrow morning). I arrive in DC at 1:30 and then catch the train from Union Station at 4:00. I finally arrive near my parents’ town a little after 7, then my folks will pick me up and drive me another 30 minutes or so.

I am anxious to get home. This is my first visit back home since I left there following my surgery this summer. I am anxious for them to see how well I am doing. I think it’s important for them to see me as the strong, able-bodied person I have always been, instead of the frail man they got used to seeing. Besides, who doesn’t want a good dose of parental love, some laughter with your siblings, more food than you should eat, and to be told by 50 people how good you look?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Share The Sidewalk, People!

Today's binge complaint is all about sharing the sidewalk.

I have grown weary of sidestepping into dirt, flowerboxes, tree boxes, and even onto the street so that two other people can walk side by side. This is something I have been noticing and complaining about (to anyone who would listen) for the past few years. It baffles me why people cannot share the sidewalk and expect me to move out of their way. They commandeer the sidewalk like its a runway. Usually when passing two men walking together, one will automatically fall behind the other in order to make a two lane pathway. However, women don't seem to understand this concept, in my experience.

I have said initially that it was only gay men who will form single-file lines on public walkways because as gregarious creatures we are used to crowding in small or close-knit quarters in order to socialize. Lately, I have taken to not moving out of my lane. It's mine, dammit. I have THE right to walk on the right side of the sidewalk no matter who or what is approaching me on the left side (it might not be written anyplace, but we all know it's true). Being an ex-football player, I have no problem with banging my shoulder into the person passing me. I've taken out a few people, women included, who just refused to get out of my right-of-way. I have also had to just stop dead in my tracks so that the oncoming pedestrian needs to walk around me. I am sometimes met with an "oh, excuse me" but more often that not I am greeted with a grunt or some other form of oral explusion.

This is not the ark, people! We aren't escaping a flood or anything. If you are walking with someone on a sidewalk and someone approaches from the other direction, move out of the way. You WALK to the SIDE - hence the term sidewalk. Learn it, live it, love it. Or be prepared to get knocked to the ground if you see me approaching.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Word Du Jour

I love how the media offers up a word that is almost never used in every day vernacular, and then the word is suddenly identifiable with a specific event.

Currently the word is pandemic, which is associated with the catastrophic bird flu that is killing fowl and humans all over the world. The last pandemic was AIDS, but back then it was considered a virus, or at most an epidemic. There’s no difference between pandemic and epidemic, etymologically speaking.

A few weeks back, everyone began using the word cabal to refer to the people involved in the Iraq War intelligence dissemination. The group of people involved with the Lincoln assassination were plotters and conspirators. They weren’t a cabal. But it all means exactly the same thing.

Somewhere, perhaps at the Post or the Times, there is some geek sitting in a windowless office who does nothing but pick words out of a thesaurus in order to associate unfamiliar words to current events to make them seem more sinister. Doesn’t cabal sound more like organized crime than just the word plotters? Doesn’t pandemic sound more cataclysmic than plague?

Last year prior to the presidential election, all we heard about Senator Kerry was his flip flop. You couldn’t turn on CNN and not either hear the words flip flop or see them in the footer on the screen. I think the media - the voice of the people - sometimes fails to recognize that there is a vast majority of the population who is illiterate and would not understand what Wolf Blitzer means when he says cabal or pandemic. And while I am all for improving vocabulary, the news needs to be for everyone, not just the educated or those with a dictionary.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bill, What The Hell Are You Doing?

I’m not sure what upsets me about Bill Hemmer more: the fact that he left CNN in June after 10 years to go to that cesspool Fox News, or the fact that he got rid of his adorable, studious glasses and now wears contacts.

He was a glory boy at CNN, basically getting any job he wanted with a strong following and a solid reporting history. He’s an excellent reporter and commentator and he is one of the youngest reporters to have as much success as he’s seen so far. So far!

But to leave solid, respectable CNN for that Bastion of Bias has just … well I am just going to say it – it hurt my feelings! It made me sad and I actually took Bill’s poster down from the inside of my closet door. Okay, that last part was a lie, but if I had a poster of Bill, I would have taken it down.

And as stated in a previous blog, I have a thing for guys in glasses. And when Bill moved to Fox, he switched from specs to contacts. It was one thing that I would no longer be able to see him on a daily basis (I refuse to watch Fox Spews), but just knowing now that he had changed his look makes me wonder WTF? If he dyes his hair, I will only be able to deduce that Fox has just been a horrible influence on him.

Come back, Bill. Come back to respectable journalism. Come back to quality news reporting with reputable colleagues. Come back to fashionable eyewear. Come back to me. I will still marry you, I am just disappointed. So put on your jeans, glasses, and that green tee shirt with the holes in it and I might forgive you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I'll Take 'Children Beheading Wildlife' For $800, Alex

Does this picture bother anyone else other than me? I mean, I am not a card-carrying member of PETA or anything, but c'mon!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

NEXT! ----->

Flipping through channels Sunday afternoon, I happened upon NEXT on MTV. NEXT is a dating show where one person is set up on 5 blind dates in one afternoon. The minute the dater is either annoyed or is no longer having fun, he/she simply says ‘next” and the date is over. The sullen datee returns to the bus for some good-natured ribbing from the other 4 datees. After 30 minutes or more, the successful datee is given the option of either taking the money and ending the date or foregoing the money to go on a second date with the dater. I’ve seen it go both ways. It was cool though to see some gay date setups (but then again, it was MTV).

What cracked me up was that (on his/her way to meet the dater) a few datees walked off the bus exuding self-confidence and assurance only to be “nexted” as soon as the dater laid eyes on him/her. And of course, the datees were then instantly defensive about how the dater just simply could not handle “all this”. Some dates were ended based on immediate looks, some on political affiliation (I might have to agree with that), some religion, and some based on the fact that the datee was either too pasty white or too orange from tanning (personally I don't mind the pasty white thing, to me it just looks clean; however I too have a problem with dating someone who looks like he should have a 'Sunkist' sticker on his forehead). The pleasure of knowing that there was another datee waiting in the wings if the current one sucked seemed to sweeten the pot, as it should. But the rejected datees remind me of a line from The Golden Girls where Uncle Angelo says, “You mean to tell me I shaved my shoulders for nothing?” Classic.

What also cracks me up (I crack up a lot) is the lengths to which these datees will go in order to score the hopeful second date. One guy shoveled horseshit while the dater just stood there watching. That's horseshit, y'all. Another datee dressed as a rodeo clown and fended off a bull – that’s right, a bull – while the dater hid herself in a barrel. The motivation for staying on the date for the datee is 1) scoring the possible second date, or 2) earning $1 for every minute the date lasts (we are whores at heart, all of us).

On one hand, I kinda love this idea. There have been plenty of dates I have been on that I would have loved to be able to just administer a violent death right in the middle. There have been dates where I would have spared myself a lot of anguish simply by saying “next” before the appetizers even arrived. The date where the guy sent his steak back 4 times before we could eat - could have been completely avoided. The date where the guy decided to join me for dinner instead of staying home to nurse the quarter-sized zit on his cheek - might not have happened. The date with the dude who showed up in a tee shirt that read "Sore/Loserman '00" - should have stopped with the removal of the jacket.

But on the other hand, it’s simply just mean-spirited. And it all goes along with America’s incessant desire to witness failure in action. We watch “Survivor” to see who will be eliminated each week. We watch “Lost” to see who will die. What’s the reason for going into the Astros locker room after the World Series unless its to watch how despondent they all are (and perhaps a few unexpected beefy butt shots!) NEXT is just one of a myriad of these kinds of dating shows on TV right now. Is it any wonder the rest of the world laughs at us?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Screw You, Pat Robertson!

Any day now (and this is a request, not a prediction), the media has got to stop listening and paying attention to what Conservative Christian/Republican televangelist Rev. Pat Robertson says.

In the latest episode of his verbal diarrhea, last week, The Rev told citizens of "a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting 'intelligent design' over creationism and warned them on Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck". Also, God would turn his back on Dover should they ever pray to or need HIM.

I believe in God – the same Christian God that Robertson worships. I don’t seem to have HIS phone number, like The Rev does, nor do I talk to HIM a few times a day or meet HIM for lattes like Robertson. But I am pretty sure HE wouldn't like some mere mortal telling the entire world what HIS plan is. And HE shouldn’t be used as a political tool to promote The Rev’s agenda.

After Hurricane Katrina, Robertson told the media that God sent HIS wrath upon New Orleans because lesbian Ellen Degeneres was going to be hosting the Emmy Awards (New Orleans is Ellen’s hometown).

This past summer, The Rev hit the headlines by calling for the assassination of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, one of “W’s” most vocal international critics. He vehemently denied calling for the assassination, even though it was caught on videotape (apparent work of Satan).

After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Robertson is quoted as saying, "We have sinned against Almighty God, at the highest level of our government, we've stuck our finger in your eye," he said. "The Supreme Court has insulted you over and over again, Lord. They've taken your Bible away from the schools. They've forbidden little children to pray. They've taken the knowledge of God as best they can, and organizations have come into court to take the knowledge of God out of the public square of America."

In 1998, Robertson warned the city of Orlando, Florida that it risked hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist bombs after it allowed homosexual organizations to put up rainbow flags in support of sexual diversity (Disney’s annual ‘Gay Day’).

Why is this man allowed to lead so many people, and have a driver’s license and be allowed to vote and walk the streets? And why do so many people listen to him? And why does his opinion even matter???

Screw you, Pat Robertson! Using God to advance your political agenda against groups you personally don’t like is not only wrong, it’s also not very Christian. The only real shame here is that people continue to pay attention to you.

Kanye: Con? Nay!

What is all the hype about Kanye West? Why is this man suddenly everywhere with people clamouring for him? Granted, I don't follow popular music; I don't listen to the radio or read Billboard Magazine, so I am not in "the know". West might have been around for a few years and I have never heard of him. But still, lately, he is being hyped like crazy.

Was speaking out against Bush during the Hurricane Katrina telethon the bump West needed in the hip-hop community to give him street cred? West has never been arrested for anything. He's never been shot and he's never shot anyone. He didn't churn up from the streets as a drug dealer. All he did was mouth off. And there is no faster way to sell yourself to an audience (interestingly, 70% of the hip-hop buying community is young, suburban, white boys). than to tout out: "The MAN wants us all dead". If that is what's supposed to give you a rep in the hip-hop industry, then I should be opening act for 50 Cent. (Indeed, anyone gay could be.)

If West was trying to boost the sales of his new CD that came out in August by claiming that "Bush hates black people", then I guess he succeeded. In part, I agree that "W" hates everyone who isn't white, rich, straight, and evangelical (one must be all four of those things, not just one). But if sounding off on "W" is the only claim to fame this rapper has, it's pretty lame.

I am proud of him for speaking his mind; he saw a chance and took it. However, hip-hop is based on thug life - the real deal from the streets and not one fabricated in the recording studio.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Did I See Lincoln Get Shot?

Building on my Three Lives, One Soul theme, I think that my first life (remember I consider myself a middle soul) was lived back during the Civil War - specifically living in Washington, DC at the time of April 14, 1865. The reason I think this is because I have an abnormally keen interest in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

No, I don't think I WAS Lincoln. Neither was I John Wilkes Booth, Lewis Paine, Mary Surratt, nor any of the other conspirators. But I do think I was in Ford's Theater the night of the assassination. I might have been an audience member, an actor, a stagehand, or possibly Major Rathbone, the young man who was sitting in the presidential box with Lincoln and his wife (as shown in my highly impressive graphic above).

I have been reading about that night and the events that led up to that night since I was young. One of my favorite reads is The Day Lincoln Was Shot by Jim Bishop. It's the only book I have read more than twice. And at the risk of sounding like a huge fruit loop, the first time I walked into Ford's Theater 10 years ago, I thought out loud, "I've been here before".

I think most people identify with certain periods or eras in history, be it the renaissance, the revolutionary war, even the plight of the early Native Americans (like my mom does). I don't think I am on par with Shirely Maclaine, but I think there is something to this fascination I have, given that I have been studying it since I was 10. Just a hunch.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


One of the reasons I moved to Chicago was that I wanted to invigorate myself, re-challenge myself and to start doing the things I enjoyed doing. I was asked a few months ago what my hobbies are. I didn’t have an answer. Other than working out, I didn’t really do much of anything else. But one of the things I used to enjoy was going to the theatre.

Since moving here 6 weeks ago, I have been to live theater three times, the most recent being last night, seeing “Wicked” at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theater (we saw understudy Kristy Cates in the role of Elphaba instead of SNL alum Ana Gasteyer). For a Tuesday night, the spacious theatre looked sold out from our second row seats (that’s right baby – SECOND ROW!).

I had heard some of the songs now and then at random “show tune” nights and during badly sung karaoke. I had read Gregory Maguire’s book about 8 years ago, but the musical is quite different from the book (and it’s heavily based on the 1939 movie). But “Wicked” is simply magical. It’s a prequel and a sequel at the same time.

“The Wizard of Oz” has long been my favorite movie of all time. The lessons it teaches (acceptance, diversity, strength within, etc.) are tried and true. “Wicked” follows those same themes, with cameo appearances by the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion (it was interesting to see a version of how the OZ triumvirate came into being). Even Dorothy makes a (very) brief appearance.

Glinda was kooky, but likeable, and “Elphie” was a bit bullish and awkward. But together, they were very strong. There are two things I love in live theater: male dancers and female duets. In those two capacities, this show did not disappoint.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Soup and SAW

"We have so much in common, we both love soup..."
- Sherri Ann Cabot Ward, Best In Show

Last night, Kevin (who is now officially The BF) took me on a date. First, we had dinner at Soup Life, a restaurant that serves only soup - many different kinds. You are served bottomless bowls, so the refills just keep on a'comin'. I am sure The BF would recommend the "Clam Chowda". My fave was the "Beef and Pot Roast Vegetable." It's an interesting idea for a restaurant for sure. But those who know me know that I hate large menus. Too many choices tend to, basically, piss me off. So limited choices are good. Kudos to Kev for recognizing yet another of my idiosyncracies.

After dinner, The BF treated me to see the movie SAW II. In short - good! I introduced him to the original SAW movie about three weeks ago (I love Netflix), and when the sequel came out, it became a must-see for us both. Since Hallowe'en and BMG have consumed alot of The BF's early evenings, this was our real first chance to see the movie. I strongly suggest seeing the SAW series.

The original SAW really threw me for a loop. It was one of those time where, as I watched and movie unfolded, I would audibly gasp as "lightbulbs" and "eurekas" would unfold throughout the film. After watching it once, I immediately replayed the DVD and watched it again to see if I could pick up the clues that were dropped in the beginning. So going into SAW II, I knew that I had to pay attention in order to figure out the ending.

I was grossly unsuccessful.

However knowing what I know, I will add SAW II to Netflix immediately in order to watch again. Horror/thriller sequels usually never live up to their predecessors. But SAW II surpasses it - actually taking "the game" to the next level.

Thanks to The BF for such a great night!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Three Lives, One Soul

Contradicting my Christian principles, I believe that every soul passes through this world three times before it is then put to permanent rest. Three times: there is the new soul (created when an old soul isretired”), the middle soul (one that has passed through once already), and the old soul (the one who has passed through twice and is on its last journey home).

I believe this because in order to make the world a better place for future generations, we have to go through life more than once, passing on the lessons we have learned – the old souls teaching the new souls while the middle souls make the world go. The new souls are the ones creating mischief and stirring things up cause they don’t know any better; the middle souls are still learning and making mistakes, but with some solid knowledge of life; and the old souls have seen it all before and are really just going through trying to make it easier for everyone else. In presidential politics, “W” is a new soul, Bill Clinton is a middle soul, and Jimmy Carter is an old soul.

Think about your friends. Aren’t there some who act as if everything is new and exciting, while there are others who act like they have seen it all before?

For example, I will use three friends of mine: Rajeev, Patrick, and my roommate, Ashley. Rajeev and Patrick are a young couple who have been together for several years. They are complete personality opposites: Rajeev is like a puppy – everything is fun and fresh and stimulating: spin classes and cross country road trips and getting to know the barrista who serves him coffee each morning just so he can say hello by name.

On the contrary, Patrick is calm, sedate, soft-spoken. He is an 80 year-old man in a 30 year-old body. He shrugs things off easily with an “I could care less” attitude. Both men are fun and funny and to see them together makes you pause and wonder, “How did these two get together?”

And then there is Ashley, who is a combination of both behaviors. He is adventurous enough to buy a run down house in a ‘questionable’ neighborhood, and to give up everything to start a new business in a new town. Yet he’s not the type to “hook up” when meeting someone, and he’d rather do something himself than delegate the task or wait for someone else to do it.

Go through your friends and you will see these patterns too. Everyone you know will either be a new, middle and old soul.

Which am I? I am a middle soul – I am world weary enough to accept the things that happen to me with a pretty good attitude knowing that everything happens for a reason. But I am also the first to do something impulsive then worry about the consequences tomorrow. Been through one full round already with one more to go after this one.

Which are you?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Job Hunt - And Time - Marches On

The job market in Chicago is apparently closed for the season.

Since moving here on September 25th, I have sent out 60 or more resumes online and have registered with 4 placement agencies. From all of that, in the last 6 weeks, I have scored just three interviews - one from a resume I sent on and the other two through two of the agencies (one of which squandered my chances on my first interview with bad advice).

The second interview I went on was with a commodities exchange company. I interviewed with two people - one of whom REALLY wants me another who REALLY doesn't. They are debating about me as we speak. The one who does NOT want me thinks I can't handle the pressure of the job. I want to walk into his office, unbutton my shirt and say, "Dude, I doubt there's anything you can throw at me that I can't handle". The one who DOES want me wants me to come work for half a day next week. I'm not sure how I feel about this. While I don't mind filling up my afternoon with something to do, I am not real keen on having to convince someone to like me. I'll ask for the job, but I won't beg for it.

The third interview was scheduled through one of the agencies. Great job, certainly perfect for me. However I live in Andersonville and the office is located by O'Hare. For those not in the know, that's about a 90-minute commute one-way on public transportation (2 bus lines, transfer to the blue-line train for two stops, then a 30-minute walk to the office). I might be able to handle that commute since I would just be basically sitting back while someone else drives me, however the office hours are 8am-6pm. Being home less than 11 hours every day just doesn't make sense. But for some reason, I feel guilty for not taking the job.

My ego has been slightly fractured by the fact that I am apparently not as marketable as I had thought. My last day of employment with my last job was August 9th. Granted there was a heart attack and a surgical procedure after that, and with that exception my last day of work would have been August 26th. Today is November 6th. This marks the longest unemployment period of my entire life.

The interesting thing is that when I left my parents' house on September 15th, I told them that I would probably take the month of October off, just to relax and not push myself, then get a job after the first of November. (They seemed to get comfort from that idea.) Then once I moved here, I started looking right away because I felt good and wanted to get back to work. The weird thing is that it is working out the way I told my family it would. Of course I am going to be needing an income soon, but mostly I just want to have a job before Thanksgiving so that when I return home my family can not only see how healthy I am, but that my life is fine and back to normal.

Truthfully, I am just bored now with nothing to do. I find myself staying up until 4AM watching CNN and then sleeping until noon everyday. It's been really hard to get on a schedule without already being on one. I go to the gym but not on a regular basis. I take my laptop to T-mobile hotspots just to get out of the house during the day. I am afraid to get a part-time job because I might have to quit it once I get a full time job in case there are schedule conflicts. I don't like starting things - anything - that I can't finish.

I am scheduled for my 4th interview this Wednesday with agency #3. Time will tell, as time keeps passing.