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 cafĂ©, 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.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Soda, Snacks & Carol

Figuring out what to do with my approaching Saturday night reminded me of what constituted the perfect Saturday night of my childhood: a whole can of Pepsi, a bag of Cheese Curls, and The Carol Burnett Show.

Every Saturday night, 10:00, CBS – I was there. I am not sure when I caught on, but Carol was basically my comic hero and one of my first celebrity crushes (others were Sandy Duncan and Rita Moreno). The show ran from 1967-1978, an amazing 11-year run for a medium where the average run in the 70's was half that time (Laugh In ended after 5 years, Sonny and Cher ended after just 3 years, Cher’s own variety show lasted just 2 years, and Donny & Marie lasted 4 years).

Burnett created such memorable characters as loud, brash Eunice, dim, sexy Mrs. Wiggins, and a high-pitched parody of Queen Elizabeth II. The characters were timeless, quirky and uniquely funny; some sad, some pathetic, all hysterical.
Other famous characters of Burnett’s included her signature Cleaning Lady, and movie parodies such as southern belle Starlet O’Hara, diner owner Mildred Fierce, and sagging silent film star Norma Desmond.

Until Saturday Night Live debuted, The Carol Burnett Show was virtually the only topical satire on television – tame as it was. Interestingly, a spin-off of The Carol Burnett Show, was Mama’s Family, based on the ongoing skit on Burnett’s show. Mama’s Family only lasted a few seasons and featured Betty White as Eunice’s sister, Ellen, and Rue McClanahan as Mama’s sister. When the series was canceled, the creators replaced it with The Golden Girls. So Carol Burnett is indirectly responsible for another personal favourite, The Golden Girls.

After the show ended, Burnett brought her company back to television several times over the years. In 2004, Burnett and her troupe gathered one last time for a retrospective called Let’s Bump Up The Lights, the most-watched variety special in television history.

Every so often, flipping through cable’s 1,000+ channels, I will catch The Carol Burnett Show in syndication. And even though I know the skits verbatim, I will sit and watch and laugh out loud again, just like I do with The Golden Girls. Timeless.

Thanks, Carol. I’m so glad we had that time together.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sick Laptop

Going on the advice of a friend, I decided last night to introduce myself to - a site for exchanging mp3s and other music forms P2P. So I went to what I thought was the appropriate site and downloaded the software and installed it on my beautiful 6-month old laptop.

What I ended up installing instead is what I can only now consider the most heinous virus I have ever seen.

Gone now are all my images and photos that were stored in a folder. Gone now is everything I have ever written, my resume, and the book I was working on. Gone now are all the sites I had bookmarked. Gone now are all the tunes I had downloaded for my iPod. Empty is my iTunes folder (
when I open iTunes, there are no songs listed in the directory). Each time my laptop shuts down, it resets itself so I can't maintain a homepage and all my passwords need to be re-entered.

I have run my Norton to no avail. It tells me I have viruses, but it doesn't tell me how to quarantine, repair or even delete them. Each time my computer reboots, it tells me something about my security settings and how something is no longer readable (
I cry a little each time).

With only myself to blame, I am not sure what to do or where to go (
and November began so promisingly).

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Desperate For Something

I don’t get the attraction to “Desperate Housewives”. Maybe I am just not gay enough (ye gods, I can't believe I actually admitted that).

I’ve seen DH a few times and it’s ... well it's okay. The writing is sort of common and the plots are a bit far-fetched. As a series, it moves too slowly. I missed 5 episodes and felt completely caught up without watching any of the shows in between (kinda like not reading "Apartment 3G" for three years).

Does America just crave women-ensemble cast shows? Is there a real need to have that on television so women and gay men can have something to discuss on Monday at the watercooler while the Mesolithics are discussing football?

Don't get me wrong here, I heart the chick shows. Quite honestly, there is a huge absence in my everyday life of pretty, hip, fun women. I watch televison and I openly wish that I could have lunch at Cafeteria in NYC with Carrie, or go to the Rusty Anchor in Miami with Blanche.

But I think the one thing that Desperate Housewives does is gives a label to all of the shows that have preceded it. Women, especially in groups, are depicted as being desperate ... for something. Be it love, acceptance, or even just acknowledgment, women are almost always portrayed as longing, needing searchers.

First, there was Lucy and Viv, the original desperate housewives. Then came Laverne & Shirley, working-class girls who still had that wanderlust and desire for a better life. Then Cagney & Lacey - two tough NYC cops, one of which being an alcoholic in desperate search for love. But these were just women-duo shows. Not really the genre the "women group" has created.

The pioneer in that group is the original Charlie’s Angels (wildly popular until Kate Jackson was replaced by Shelley Hack which was just sacreligious). The Facts of Life - admittedly hokey - was popular for several years and introduced the world to the first lesbian teenager (hey Jo!). And of course, The Golden Girls (my very most favorite), which will run forever in syndication and remains one of the funniest shows on television (DH Executive Producer Marc Cherry is a GG alum). Then Living Single that showed us Queen Latifah can act, and what Tootie was now doing as an adult. And the biggest of them all: Sex And The City. All of these shows were successful. But all showed women in need, unhappy with life, desperate.

Now, along with DH, there is also Related, brought to us by the creators of the "Sex" girls. And there is also Girlfriends and The Division (hey Jo!), both on cable.

I don’t know if DH is supposed to be believable or not. I am not sure if it is supposed to be Melrose Place-ish or Stepford Wives-esque. If DH is aired because it fills a “type”, then I guess it’s a fun necessity. But I would hardly acknowledge it as clever, smart or even, as I have pointed out here, ground-breaking. A more refreshing show would be called something like "Women Fulfilled" and"Who Needs A Man?"

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hallowe'en Wrap Up

I was pretty certain that I would not go dressed up as anything this Hallowe’en. Dressing up usually isn’t my thing. I like it, I like to see it, it’s fun and I even enjoy a good drag show now and then (there were even times when I dipped my toe in a pump or two, but that’s another story). But Kevin told me that he was having none of that and I would be dressing up this year – like it or not. He had an epiphany of what my costume should be and he said he could create it and make it happen. So I put my faith in him and in two weeks, he created my costume from scratch. When he initially said I would be an Oompa Loompa from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I completely doubted his ability. How wrong I was - see for yourself:

With the exception of the shoes and the wig, everything was made by Kevin: the overalls are made of fleece (as are the gloves), he dyed a white long sleeved tee shirt to be the correct colour brown, he made the collar, the cuffs, socks and the tassles for the shoes, and he styled the wig out of a green bob we found at Beatnik’s. Some orange makeup and VOILA! – instantly recognizable Oompa Loompa!

Kevin’s costume was a bit more cultish – he went as Powder from the eponymous movie. He shaved his head, face and upper body, covered himself in clown white and found the ideal clothes. Kevin was eerie (but his sexy abs got a lot of attention).

Saturday night we went to a house party and were joined by Jessica, who was wearing another Kevin Original. Completely unrelated to my costume, Jess went at Veruca Salt, wearing the red dress with white collar from the original movie, but having attacking squirrels attached to the dress a la the book. We all went party/bar hopping and wound up at Sidetrack to begin garnering support for Monday’s competition. Whereas I was instantly identifiable, Kevin’s costume was not. Either you know about Powder or you don’t. And it seemed almost like an insider thing – people were almost proud of themselves for “getting” his costume. And there were a lot of them.

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Sunday night, Jessica joined us to go to the Haunted Sanitarium at the Theater On The Lake. It was done well. Lots of things popped out of walls and lunged at us. Jess definitely got her scream on. She was dragged through by Kevin and clutched me with her other hand. Shielded by us was no consolation for her. Truly, Jess was far more entertaining than the sanitarium. Kevin and I came home after and rented Hide and Seek. DeNiro is always a ½ beat away from scaring the pants off of me anyway. But Dakota Fanning must secretly be about 68 years old because she has had to be studying acting for like 40 years or something. The kid is, quite simply, good.

Monday night, we put out costumes back on and returned to Sidetrack for the night of drunken debauchery and costume judging. There were some pretty amazing outfits:

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Barker's Beauties and the Wheel

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Scary (and I do mean SCARY) Clown

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Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

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The Corpse Bride (my personal favorite of the night!)

And out of more than 30 entrants, I won second place and $250.00! Sometime before the contest, Kevin and I must have spoken to one of the judges because when I was called back up on stage, they pulled him up too because he had made my costume. I was beaten out of first by a self portrait of Frida Kahlo, complete with foliage, a monkey on her shoulder, and her own spotlight.

This was one of the best Hallowe’ens I have had in my adult years. I was thinking at the onset that I was getting a little too old for this kind of thing. But I guess when you dress like an ageless dwarf, it doesn’t really matter.

By the way, I am just LOVING the move to Chicago!