Monday, July 31, 2006

How Homeless Are They?

The other day, I was walking up Michigan Avenue and stumbled across, literally, a man who looked very dirty laying on the sidewalk - or more to the point, reclining up against the building at Water Tower Place. I immediately sized him up as being a vagrant and homeless. And just as immediately, I felt sympathy, as I always do, when I see someone in that situation. "There but for the grace of God go I", I say to myself. After shelling out a little over $15,000 last year for expenses not covered by my insurance company for my surgery, I found that I had to start all back over again. There were times when I was just a paycheck or two away from being that man that I stumbled across.

Or so I thought.

Upon closer inspection of the man laying in the street with outstretched cup for donations, I read the sign he had propped up against himself. It was a cardboard sign, written in black marker, asking for donations to help him out. The last line on the sign read,

"...your helped is appreciated".

And I thought how on earth did he correctly spell the word "appreciated", but misused a first grade word like "help", especially when the word "help" is written so often by those who are in need of it? Every other word on his sign was spelled correctly.

Another block or so up the street was yet another man, assumably homeless, with the word "unfortunate" spelled correctly, and the word "pleese" tacked on at the end. And then I suddenly felt like a fool. And I wondered how many other people who seem to be living on the streets are posers and how many are the real thing.

Of course, seeing this story didn't help matters.

For me, it is admittedly a short drive to the town of Cynical. I tend to NOT believe more than believe. I am not a pessimist -- I have been fooled just enough times to be more wary. I would never give money to someone on the street anyway, because I have volunteered in shelters before and was told to always donate to a shelter or organization rather than give money to a person on the street. For one thing, you never know how your money is going to be spent (I don't want to unknowingly support someone's alcohol addiction or crack habit). I have actually offered food to people on the street before - sometimes it was accepted graciously, sometimes it was taken without so much as a thank you, and sometimes it was thrown back at me.

In the book, Etiquette for Outlaws, it says to never give money to a panhandler, and when approached and asked for money, one should respond with "not today" rather than "I'm sorry", because the latter is too condescending to those who really ARE homeless and in need. But for those who aren't really authentic (be it a sociology student doing a project, a college kid pulling a prank, or just a lazy person who doesn't want to actually work for a living), a condescending word is just not enough retribution.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Corteo

Tuesday night, The BF treated me to another trip to the circus, this time seeing Corteo, another installment of the Cirque du Soleil family, at the United Center in Chicago. Once again, great seats. When we saw the last two shows, we sat near the front, which was perfect for them because of all the intimate acts and the nature of the shows (this would be Ka and Le Reve in Vegas). But this time, The BF chose seats near the back which proved a very smart idea. This show is much more grand with long parades and large props. Sitting too close would have muffled the vision.

He's just really smart.

And what these acrobats do with their bodies makes me ashamed of myself. I bitch about my knees aching when I get up from a chair, and I saw a man spinning a woman around with his teeth, a group of beefy Russian men tossing women around like they were rag dolls, and a woman who was 3 feet tall backwardly molding her body into the letter "C". And with usual Cirque style, it is all accompanied with accordian-playing clowns and lute-strumming lasses.

The premise, I think, is about a clown who sees his own death, and takes the time to look back on his life, seeing old friends and dancing with past loves, before he journies off into the bright light. In retrospect, it was emotional. And I thought of my own journies through life. Last July, I wrote:
"Having lived in DC for the last 10 years, I have found my life to be stagnate and lacking much interest. I was asked recently what my hobbies are, and I didn’t have an answer. So it's time to invigorate myself. And my gut tells me that Chicago is the place to do it."
It has not been a year yet, and so far I have been to 12 theatrical performances, traveled outside the country, and visited Vegas for the first time. And The BF has been the catalyst that has made all that happen. Every day that I am here is another day that I realize that moving here was the absolute right decision. Life is great. Life is magical.

Like a circus.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Glass Houses

Actually, maybe it wasn't a massage after all. Maybe he was trying to choke her and realized the cameras were on. I mean, he is all for killing adults, just not embryos that are a day old.


Sigh. And the Republicans were soooo very quick to call Bill Clinton a pervert. Perhaps they should just keep their noses in their own back yards. Personally, I'd rather my president fondle a 22 year old intern than a 52 year old elected official from another country. "W" can't even do THAT right!

He disappoints me every day.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Don't Die Before We Kill You

There was Slobodan Milosevic. There was Kennth Lay. And now, quite possibly, there will be Saddam Hussein. What do these men have in common, besides being greedy, spiteful, evil men? They have all committed heinous crimes against their fellow countrymen, and then died before they could be sentenced. But I am jumping the gun just a bit here.

Milosevic, the Yugoslav president who ordered the deaths of thousands of Serbs, and Lay, the Enron executive who was convicted of fraud and stole millions of dollars from his company, both died of heart attacks. In Milosevic's case, I do believe he died because of a bad heart.

But in Lay's case, I doubted what I heard the second I heard it. That man had enough money to buy and sell every physician in Texas. Alot of things can look like heart attacks. And for the right price, some doctors will attest to it. Lay was a crooked man and he had to have many crooked friends to help him get where he was. No one succeeds to that level of dispicable all by himself.

And Saddam (I have always been curious why we refer to him by his first name) seems headed towards death as he continues his hunger strike while on trial for his life for crimes against humanity. And now he is playing the part of the spoiled child by not eating because his trial is not going "his way". The bitch about this situation is that rather than let him kill himself, he is being taken to a hospital and fed through a tube in order to keep him alive long enough so that we are not robbed of the sheer joy of killing him. Nevermind that the U.S. and its allies killed thousands of Iraqis in search of this one man. He's not dying until WE say so!

I will admit to being completely torn on this subject. On one hand, if someone commits a crime, he should have to pay the penalty in full. That's basic justice. However, if someone is sentenced to death or even to life in prison, he should be allowed to commit suicide of some kind if there's no chance he will ever be a free man again. Because as a taxpayer, I don't want to have to pay for him to live.

In Milosevic's case, his trial lasted about 4 years. Eventually, he would have died from old age anyhow. Which could be the standard bearer for Saddam's trial also - which has been going on for a little over two years now. I am not sure why it takes so long to convict a world leader of something, especially when we had to go to war in order to bring him to justice. But is justice really served if the convicted die before they live one day of their sentence?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tag, You're It

When is it and when is it not appropriate to tuck someone's shirt tag back inside the collar? Sure, the people close to you (partner, spouse, sibling, friend) but what about in social, or even non-social situations (coworker, cashier, movie patron, plumber)?

If you're standing in line at the bank and the woman in front of you has a tag sticking up, what do you do?

a) tuck it in
b) tell her about it
c) both
d) neither

Does it depend on your gender too? It might seem normal for a woman to help another woman, or a woman to help a man, but what if a man helps a woman? Too smarmy? Or a man helping another man? Gay or straight? Confusing right? Too many question? Does this blog make me look fat?

I was standing behind a woman in the lunchtime line in Nordstrom Rack the other day. She had (not one, not two, but) three tags sticking up (jacket and blouse, and I am assuming the blouse had two). I didn't say anything to her, because I figured it might have just happened if she was trying things on in the fitting room, and someone in her office would tell her when she returned. And then I thought perhaps she actually didn't try anything on and the tags have been sticking up all day and no one in her office said anything to her. Even though a tag sticking up is not the social equivalent to, say, a booger hanging out of your nose, but it's still polite to let people know.
I think.

I've told people in the past if I thought they were cute and wanted to meet them. It's a nice ice breaker. And if you really want to meet someone, you can actually lie and tell them its sticking up and pretend to tuck it in for them. How will they ever know? Those damn tags pop up on their own all the time. A sneeze will throw those things in the air faster than Paris Hilton's legs.

But I digress.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Principled?

Yesterday, "W" used the first veto of his ascension presidency to strike down legislation expanding embryonic stem cell research, even though 67% of Americans approve of this research (including 50% of fundamentalist and evangelical Christians), as do top scientists and majorities in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. But "W", who swore on a Bible (not once but twice) to promote the general welfare "has had a clear principled stand on this issue since August of 2001 and he has made clear from the beginning that if this bill came to him he would veto it and so this is what he's going to do today," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Principled?

It's not ok to use cells from embryos in order to research cures for little things like cancer, AIDS, cyctic fibrosis, sickle cell, and alzheimer's, but it is completely acceptable, apparently, to bomb a nation that was no threat to the United States while sending thousands of Americans to their possible deaths - 2,554 as of this writing.

What principles could possibly back this up?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Project Runway 3

Last Wednesday, I joined friends Jessica and Neil at Crew (that's right, a sports bar) to watch the long-anticipated season premiere of Project Runway 3. And it did not disappoint. The usual suspects are present: stalwart Tim Gunn, uber-German Heidi Klum, and judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia. The producers and casting agents of PR have come up with a formula that works well. While getting to know the cast, it was easy to identify their personalities by comparison to the casts of previous seasons.

Along the vein of Austin Scarlet from Season 1 and Andrae Gonzalo from Season 2, we now have Malan Breton, a talented, flamboyant eccentric who seems slightly off-balanced emotionally, but centered creatively.

Cockey, rebellious, over-confident yet extremely talented - Season 1 gave us Kara Saun. Last season there was Santino Rice. And this season we have Jeffrey Sebelia.

Last season's Nick is this season's Kayne. Last season's Marla is this season's Vincent. Last season's Kara is this season's Uli. Last season's Diana is this season's Katherine. It seems that PR casts not only on talent, but also to fill a niche. Just about every designer in this season has a direct counterpart in Seasons 1 and 2.

But who is this year's Daniel Vosovic - the shy, mousey, hidden gem who coverty grew into stud muffin du jour? I say it's Bradley. For his sake, I hope he is at least 1/2 as talented as Daniel. And while I just want to hug Robert, I don't think he will last the length of the show. Just a prediction.

As far as last week's winner - I was very disappointed. Even though the judges liked it, I had to side with Tim Gunn and say it was a dress made out of a big piece of fabric. And I mean - there is NO way that was the first dress that queen ever made. Repeat for emphasis - NO WAY.

But the REAL dish is the catfight going on between Tim Gunn and Daniel Vosovic. Remember how chummy they were at the end of last season when they went shopping together to pick out Daniel's outfit for the runway showing? Notsomuch. Tim has been quoted as saying that Daniel is a "terrible diva", while Daniel calls Tim a liar, in so many words. Apparently they have since made up - but a runway catfight is still juicy stuff folks.

Watch what happens!

Me As A South Park Cartoon

So this would be me if the creators of South Park decided to add me to the cast of characters. I came across this site and had some fun, although I am not particularly a fan of the show. I remember watching it in a bar with friends once, and out of a sea of people laughing their asses off, I was the only one who remained stonefaced. I will admit to having a sophomoric sense of humour most of the time, but for some reason, this show's humour just escapes me. I might be breaking all kinds of copyright laws here, but check it out. And have fun dammit!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Scandalous*

2001 - Chandra Levy's disappearance
2002 - Accounting and corporate scandals
2003 - Martha Stewart stock investigation
2004 - Steroid testing in the Summer Olympics
2005 - Valerie Plame identity leak


Makes you wonder what we'll be talking about by the end of August, doesn't it?

* This is a rare Saturday posting - scandalous in and of itself.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

This Might Make Me A Bad Mo, But...

This weekend, the Gay Games and more than 11,000 gay athletes will descend upon Chicago to compete in such butch events as rugby, ice hockey, and wrestling, and also other "sports" like darts, ballroom dancing, and billiards (I'm petitioning for hopscotch to be included in 2010).

Personally, I don't support the Gay Games. There! I said it. I own it. I liken the Games to the war in Iraq: I support the players, but not the game. The athletes here, like the soldiers there, have my admiration and, to some extent, my sympathies. But the Games, like the war, just seem pointless. While many will support the athletes by volunteering, attending the events, and snorting happy powder at the inevitable circuit dances, I tend to not support large events or situations that decide to include only certain facets of the population based on race, gender, or sexual orientation.

While I completely applaud the athletes who posess such drive and determination, I have to wonder if their impending victories will not feel a bit, um . . . skewed? That is to say, if you want to compete in an event like diving, do you want to be the best diver you can be, or the just best gay diver who just shows up that day? There are no qualifying tests or preliminaries for the games. I could just show up at the Men's Rowing Competition (even though I have never done it before), and if no one else shows up that day or I compete against, say, a gay quadraplegic, I go home with a gold medal (the winner of the 2002 Gay Games Women's Figureskating Medal won despite the fact that she cannot spin or skate backwards. So I ask you, is that still considered figure skating??). The BF writes about this on his blog, and as he is a nicer person that I, he explains it with more tact.

Other events I don't support include, for example, the Latin Grammys. There are already several awards at the Grammy Awards specifically encompassing the Latin music community, including Best Latin Pop Album, Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album, Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album, Best Salsa/Merengue Album, Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album, and Best Tejano Album. Doesn't winning the Latin Grammy feel just a little tainted, knowing you only went up against a very specific and MUCH smaller competition?

As another example, I also don't support the idea of a monument to African American World War II Veterans. Unless I am missing something, there is already a memorial to World War II veterans (and quite a beautiful one at that) on the mall in DC that pays homage to ALL those men and women who gave their lives and served their country during that war. Is it really necessary to segregate a portion of the population for the same event? Black people didn't fight any harder than white people in that war, so what gives? I feel the same way about the Women in Viet Nam Memorial. There's no doubt that women were strong contributors to that conflict, much like they are today in Iraq and the Middle East. But a separate monument to them in DC - in a city that is so monument heavy they almost don't even mean anything anymore - just seems unnecessary.

But back to the Gay Games . . .

Some will argue that the Games allows everyone to get a chance to be represented. But for regular mass competitions (for example, the Olympics), being gay does not disqualify you from competing in athletic events. Now, being athletic and very open about your sexuality might cause you some trouble, but actually being gay does not disclude you from qualifying.

When you are competing (or fighting, for that matter) alongside your fellow man, does it really matter what your gender or race or sexual orientation is? Don't you strive to be the best at what you do, and doesn't that desire accompany the belief that you want to compete against the best, so that you can be included in the big picture? Perhaps if the athletes who compete in the Gay Games are using these events to better themselves in order to progress to a national or international level, then I do support their efforts. However, if this is the pinnacle of their achievement, I can't help but wonder if they don't feel just a little slighted.

I realize that not everyone gets to go to the Olympics, but everyone gets a shot at it. And if you don't get included because of your ability, then THAT should tell you something.

Plan To Announce?

Riding down 35 floors in the elevator the other day, I read on Captivate Network that some Illinois politician was stepping down from his position on July 31. The headline ended with this clincher: "his chief of staff planned to announce today".

My question was - didn't that just happen?

Can you plan to announce something, or did you just announce it? When reporters on news broadcasts tell us that a spokesman for an organization is planning to announce something later in the day, or week, or whenever - hasn't that already happened, only by the person who just reported it? Isn't that the news? Who wants to wait around and hear it again from someone else when you just heard it?

I'm so confused.

Unless this is a horse's mouth kinda thing, I would rather hear that something had been officially announced or discussed rather than hearing it's planned to be. I already have an agenda for my day, I don't need more added to it by people I don't know, won't meet, or couldn't care less about.

This type of redundacy is unnecessary. I've had more than one day ruined by the gossip that something BIG was going to happen later in the day, that so-and-so was going to do this or say that. And then, the situation become impotent and I'm left hanging - no pun intended.

Okay, it was.

I say we stick to the news that has definitely occured or is occuring as we speak, and let's just not worry too much on news that may or may not happen. Especially something as trivial as a person quitting his job.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Boob Jobs And Clear Shoes

Suffice is to say that it was a great 4-day vacation. We saw the three amazing shows I listed on Friday (The BF managed to score some absolutely AWESOME seats in each theater), plus alot of other fun stuff that only The BF and I would think was funny (like seeing "Borat" and the "Meaty Midget Ballerina Stripper" and bored teenagers on floats and me falling ass over tin cups in the lazy river). All priceless you-had-to-be-there stuff.

Las Vegas has to be THE best place on earth to people-watch. I've never seen so many boob jobs in one place in my life. And the couples we saw simply proved the addage that men grow old and out of shape, while women fight like hell to stay young and thin. Before we arrived, The BF said that the two things I will see most are boob jobs and clear shoes. And he was right.

My first trip to Vegas (and certainly not my last) was a huge success. And I had the ideal travel companion. And with a nod to the last trip we took back in May, "the actor Nicolas Cage" figured into this vacation as well - he was in our audience watching the same performance of Le Rêve. Perfection.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Vegas, Baby!

This weekend, The BF is treating me to 4 days in Vegas, baby (I personally think the name of the city should be changed from Las Vegas to Vegas Baby - it just sounds better). We fly out tomorrow early afternoon and return on Tuesday. While there, The BF is also treating me (I musta done something right!) to KA at MGM Grand, Le Rêve at the Wynn Casino, and Blue Man Group at The Venetian.

We will be staying at the MGM Grand and plan on spending much of one day floating along the Lazy River. I might come back broke, or I might come back rich. Either way, I'm coming back happy. Lucky, lucky me.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Anal Retention

Since yesterday's blog was about farting, I thought I would just go one step further (okay, maybe two steps further). Big news in the world of toilet paper is "luxury toilet paper" . . . which I guess is triple-ply, smells like money, extra soft, lubricated and falls off the roll automatically when you clap your hands.

That's all great, but here's the print ad for Renova (who sells this stuff).

What on earth is supposed to be going on here?

Maybe they're trying to say that, if you're unlucky enough to land up in jail for disrespecting yourself with nasty single-ply - after using Renova luxury toilet paper - cellmate Bubba starts looking like a character from 'Baywatch' and your sorry ass turns into Adonis with feelings. You'll pose uncomfortably like Madonna near a small dirty toilet and get your groove on just thinking about using the facility again. Harsh fluorescent light will dance lightly on your skin as it magically transports you (and Bubba) to the glowing beaches of Tenerife.

Renova - toilet paper and pleasure. I can't wait for it to get to Chicago!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Just Farting Around

Last weekend The BF told me that the average person farts 14 times a day. If 14 is the average, then I guess that also means that there are people who don't fart at all, and people who fart 28 times a day.

Farting 28 times a day. That's like a fart and a toot every hour. Sad thing is, I know some of those people. And they know who they are.


According to Crappers Quarterly (I mean, really, who would know more than these guys?), on average, a person produces about half a liter of fart gas per day, distributed over an average of about 14 daily farts. Whereas it may be difficult for you to determine your daily flatus volume, you can certainly keep track of your daily numerical fart count. You might try this as a science fair project: Keep a journal of everything you eat and a count of your farts. You might make a note of the potency of their odor as well. See if you can discover a relationship between what you eat, how much you fart, and how much they smell.

That is, of course, if you are lonely and have no friends.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Birthday, America!

Today marks the official 230th birthday of the United States.

I am old enough to remember its 200th, being 10 years old in 1976 during the Bicentennial. It was a year full of fireworks, US history, and a sense of renewed hope and faith in America: the Viet Nam conflict was finally over, a Democrat had swept into the White House, and I had my first experience visiting Washington, DC - a city in which I would unknowingly live 20 years into the future.

And now, 30 years later, I am in a new city, but still with the faith that America will once again be the country that does the right thing for its people. Two hundred and thirty years ago, Thomas Jefferson summarized the philosophy of individual liberty into "self-evident truths" and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the British crown.

"that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and
the pursuit of Happiness."

Today, the man who leads the government of our country has shown time and time again that he does not believe in these words - these words that hundreds of millions of men have believed in, and hundreds of thousands of men have given their lives to enforce on battlefields. And along with this one man is his support team, who have habitually spit in the eye of Thomas Jefferson, and the amazing group of men who had the true guts to stand up and say, "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore".