Saturday, December 31, 2005

December 31, 2005 11:59:55 PM

5!

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.

4!

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).

3!

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).

2!

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.

1!

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
email.

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.

Hello!?

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

Glühwein

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?