Thursday, September 21, 2006

Anna Nicole Smith

Up until a few days ago, I was in her corner. I figured she was just misunderstood, a product of bad publicity and unfavourable television editing. Actually, I thought she was just getting a bad rap, as fallen beauty queens always do.

And then I read THIS

At first, I couldn't imagine what kind of mental state she must be in - still in the hospital after giving birth to her daughter and her 20 year old son drops dead in her room next to her. The joy and misery combination must be unbearable, or so I thought. But while still in mourning, she strikes a tasteless and almost unbelievable business deal with In Touch magazine for $600,000 to publish the last photo taken of her now dead son, Daniel. Even though she said she couldn't remember him dying.

When she married the 89 year old oil tycoon, I just figured she saw it as her chance to get out of what sounded like a pretty desperate life. I might have done the same thing. So I quietly rooted for her, as I sometimes do for the underdog. She saw a chance and took it without really hurting anyone.

But to find out three days after her son's death that she struck a deal with a magazine to publish what should be the most private and treasured photograph of her life - well, it makes me sick. Rest in peace, Daniel.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

One Last Ride

So Sunday I took what was to be my last ride on my bicycle - unbeknownst to me - because today some asshole has STOLEN MY BIKE, which was chained up outside of the Bryn Mawr "L" stop. AARRGGHH!! I was going to get a new bike in the spring anyway . . . but still! I bought this bike about two years ago right after another asshole had STOLEN MY BIKE which I bought a week after yet another asshole had STOLEN MY JEEP. This makes the fourth bike in 7 years that some asshole have stolen from me. Clearly, I have no luck with vehicles.

But I digress . . .

My bike ride on Sunday lasted several hours, most of which was riding the 47 miles of roadways through Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago. One of the largest (if not the largest) cemeteries in Chicago, it boasts a few famous people (hot dog king Oscar Mayer being one of them) and more than a few odd monuments and tombstones.

This is the Pearce Monument (click on images to enlarge):


which houses a sculpture of Frances M. Pearce and Frances Pearce, a mother and child who died in childbirth. It was more than just a little creeptastic. I swear the woman looked like she was going to open her eyes at any minute.

And there were some other monuments that I thought were kinda interesting, like this one, that I have titled Not Anymore. Check out the name:


And this one I call The Death of Home Cooking:


And this one I call Adolescence in Hell:

Remember when you replaced all your cassettes with CD's? This is where they are buried:


And my personal favourite tombstone:

So now I am a pedestrian again and will have to wait until next Spring before I can once again ride through cemeteries and make fun of dead people. Until then, I will just have to spend more time with The BF who has STOLEN MY HEART - and that's a whole different kind of fun.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trainspotting

On my train ride in to work every morning, I usually sit on the right side and look out the window as my train snakes down through Edgewater and Uptown. And every morning, just south of Wilson, I see two homeless people - a man and a woman - sleeping under a tree on a large piece of cardboard. And what strikes me in the heart is that every morning when I see them, the are spooning each other while they sleep.

They are either a husband and wife who fell on hard times, or perhaps two single people who met one another on the street or in a shelter. Either way, they found each other. And it must be some comfort to them, that even in the worst of time, it's better to have someone by your side to help you get through.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

Back in 1967, a movie was made that shook the fabric of society. It was a comedy about a very serious subject at the time - interracial marriages. The movie was Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. Spencer Tracy (in his last film) and Katharine Hepburn (in another Oscar-winning role) played a couple who's attitudes are challenged when their white daughter brings home her black fiance. It was groundbreaking for sure.

What's truly interesting is how similar yesterday's interracial marriages are to today's same-sex marriages. The same old prejudices arise. But at the end of the film, Spencer Tracy's character gives a speech that is just as relevant today as it was almost 40 years ago. And what a way to end a career.

Read the words below and remember when they were written. They are timeless. Credit goes to writer William Rose:

Because in the final analysis, it doesn't matter a damn what we think. The only thing that matters is what they feel...and how much they feel...for each other. And if it's half...of what we felt...that's everything.

There'll be a hundred million people right here in this country... who'll be shocked and offended...and appalled at the two of you. And the two of you will just have to ride that out. Maybe every day for the rest of your lives.

You can try to ignore those people...or you can feel sorry for them and for their prejudices...and their bigotry and their blind hatreds and stupid fears. But where necessary...you'll just have to cling tight to each other...and say screw all those people!

Anybody could make a hell of a good case against your getting married. The arguments are so obvious that nobody has to make them. But you're two wonderful people...who happened to fall in love...and happen to have a pigmentation problem.

And I think that now...no matter what kind of a case some bastard could make...against your getting married...there would be only one thing worse. And that would be if...knowing what you two are...knowing what you two have...and knowing what you two feel...you didn't get married.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How Big Are You?

The other day in the gym, I was unfortunately privy to a conversation two machines over involving two twinks who, together, could bench 100 pounds. This conversation was not about working out, however. Oh no. It was about sex. And by sex I mean dick size.

Both twinks were, apparently, bottoms. The conversation went something like this:

Twink A: I don't know who she thought she was kidding.
Twink B: Oh totes. Like she could even handle that.

Twink A: She's a mess.

Twink B: Well I need at least - AT LEAST - 9 inches or it's over.

Twink A: You're preaching to the choir, sister. Gimme 10, 11, hell 12 and make me feel it!

Twink B: For real.

And after I shook off the twinkie cooties, I thought to myself, Is that supposed to be a selling point? Is being able to take something that is 12+ inches long supposed to make you more appealing? If you need something the size of a road cone in order to feel sexually satisfied, doesn't that say something about YOU?

I think it should be changed. I think, instead of the bottom asking the top "how big are you", I think the top should now ask the bottom "how gaping are you". Are you kitchen drain size or closer to Holland Tunnel size? Are we talking paper towel holder or The Big Dig? How about this: If we put a potato chip up in there and you competed in a triathlon, would the chip break?

Personally, I don't want to be with anyone who can take me and my five best friends, all at the same time. Perhaps being able to do it is something to be proud of - in private - but I don't think putting it out there is a good thing. It makes you sound . . . well . . . slutty. I'd rather be with someone who could not handle it, as opposed to both of us not feeling anything.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It's All Greek. Or French.

Back in the day (and I am talking as recently as the early 90's), tops and bottoms didn't exist. What's that, you say? How can it be so? Don't worry, dear reader, there was still plenty of "love that dare not speak its name" going on. It's just that, back then, those two terms had not yet been born.

Gay sex has historically been coded down through the years. It all started with the Hanky Code back in the 60's and 70's. If you wore a coloured hanky in your back left pocket, you were "dominant"; if it was in your back right pocket, you were "recessive". Each hanky colour meant something different. These hankies were prominently displayed, so that everyone could tell what you were looking for. That way, you didn't have to waste time with pesky small talk or buy alot of alcohol for someone you wouldn't end up with anyway. I imagine it could get a little carried away if you were looking for a few things at the same time. But by and large, it was a fool-proof system.

In the 80's, men discovered personals columns for sex. Gone were the days when you could just walk up to someone in the park sporting a navy blue hanky in his back right pocket and go at it in the bushes (although that does still happen in some places). Sex was advertised as being more caring, instead of so animalistic. Dominant and Recessive were replaced with the kinder and gentler Active and Passive respectively. And newspapers wouldn't print words like "fuck" and "blowjob", our two favorite pasttimes were nicknamed Greek and French.

Example: in the 80's, a present-day bottom was considered greek passive; a top was greek active. If you liked receiving a blowjob, you were french active; the person who enjoyed giving the "job" was french passive. It would be abbreviated in personal columns as G/P or F/A (if you combined that with real estate and you could have a "G/P w/a 1BR/1BA, WD, HWF, AC, and pvt."). There was no term for a sexually versatile man, so you listed yourself as G/P, G/A, F/P, F/A.

It was all just too much.

Nowadays, its more blatant. Today, we have tops, bottoms, and versatiles (which are really bottoms with hemorrhoids). These terms can still be a little misleading because you can be a bottom but still be on top, and vice versa. Recently, gay men have been using the terms Pitcher and Catcher, which offers more clarity but leaves the versatile guys wondering if they should be wearing tee shirts that say Short Stop.

Either way, gay sex continues its coding system. Eventually a new incarnation of terms will be adopted for general use. Until then, I will remain happily partnered to someone whom I don't need a code to understand, and enjoy watching the others who are still in "the ball game".

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Congress Fights Hollywood - Again

Yesterday it was announced that Congressional Democrats are trying to get ABC-TV to pull a miniseries about the September 11th attacks that makes then-President Bill Clinton and his aides look inept. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats have as much pull with the networks as the Republicans.

Remember, if you will, just a mere three years ago that Nancy Reagan and the Republicans pressed CBS-TV to pull the miniseries, The Reagans, because it "distorted Ronald Reagan's legacy". Nancy and the boys were successful at having it taken off of basic cable television, but the movie aired on CBS affiliate Showtime instead. I, incidentally, bought the DVD. Not because of my love of Reagan (of which there is a sore lack thereof), but because I have always had an interest in the Presidents (current one excluded, of course).

I guess now we will see if sitting Democrats have as much pull in TV-Land as an ex-First Lady with concerns that a movie might tarnish her husband's reputation and contributions? Perhaps Hillary should be the one to give ABC-TV a call instead.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Censorship

It was a sad day, several months back, when my boss blurted out to me, "Oh yeah, I read your blog all the time."

"YOU read my blog???"

"Oh yeah, you’re a great writer."

And instead of coming back with something appropriate like ‘thank you’, all I could think was SHIT!!!! What had I written about work? Who had I cut down? What had I complained about? All these thoughts about what I could have written that might affect me negatively at my job came rushing into my head. I always thought you had to eat too much ice cream to get a brain freeze, but no – you just need to be caught doing something that isn’t illegal but could still get you into a heap of trouble.

So the casual stroll my outer self took back to my office belied the agitated state my inner self was wrapped in. "ShitShitShitShitShit!" I kept thinking to myself. So I sat down and pulled up my blog and proceeded to go through and delete every post I had written that concerned my job.

And then I was mad. I was mad that I was allowing myself to be censored – not because someone told me to stop doing something, but because I thought it would be best to not dig the ditch any deeper. See, I was trying hard to fit into my office; no one there looks like me. That is, in an office of 45 people that is 72% male, I am the only one who shaves his head, has any kind of facial hair, has my kind of build, and sports a tattoo. Everyone else looks like he just stepped out of a Brooks Brothers ad. So in an effort to "fit in", I didn’t want something personal like my blog to affect my professional career.

The sad thing is, there is a TON of stuff I could write about. It’s corporate America, for petesake: where they won’t spend money to hire a receptionist but thousands are spent each month keeping free sodas in the refrigerator. And I can’t write about this stuff.

Perhaps I will start another blog where I just complain about my job. And if I do, I will let you know where that is. You just have to keep my boss distracted long enough for me to do that.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Close Shave

Back in college, I had a little trouble getting stoned. Not sure why, but I would sit with my friends and watch them all ascend to LaLaLand and I seemed to stay sober as a judge. “It never happens your first time,” I would hear. But after time number 8, we figured something was wrong. BF#2 said that I was perhaps thinking about it too much, whatever that means. But we decided that I perhaps needed a little more guidance on the subject. So BF#2 enlisted the aid of the biggest pothead we knew on campus. He said he would get me higher than a kite if I, in turn, taught him how to do one thing...

Shave.

Being as I was one of the few guys in school with a decent amount of facial hair, he figured that I was a pro at this and wanted me to impart my wisdom because he always seemed to be ripping his face apart when he attempted to shave. So I asked him what his procedure was and he told me that he basically just took a razor to his face. I found it interesting when he explained that he was raised by a single mother and no one ever showed him how to properly shave his beard. And I was struck by how many others like him there probably was – boys, raised by single women, who are either too proud or too embarrassed to ask their mothers how to begin being a man.

(Let me flash forward here for a second and say that The BF has got to be shaking his head at this. He thinks I shave too quickly and too dangerously. But I almost never knick or cut myself - its just years of practice and good technique.)

So that following Saturday afternoon, Chris – the stoner dude – called me in my dorm and asked me for a lesson. We were an odd pair as we ventured to the Piggly Wiggly (I went to a southern college) and bought a decent razor, shaving cream, exfoliant and after shave balm. Then we returned to his dorm and I walked him through the process:

  1. Always shower first. The steam from the shower helps to soften the beard area. I personally shave in the shower.
  2. Always exfoliate the area you are going to shave. It gets rid of dead skin cells and softens the face.
  3. Invest in a good razor (don’t use those disposable Bic things) and be sure to use a clean blade. The life of a razor blade is dependent on the thickness of your hair growth. Personally, I change blades about once every other week.
  4. Lather up the face and shave with the grain of your beard. Rinse the razor frequently with hot water.
  5. Rinse your face in cold water to close your pores.
  6. Apply a soothing gel or balm to the area to recondition the skin.

Later that evening at a house party, Chris approached me with a broad grin, a smooth face, and a beer. He thanked me for helping him out and not making such a big deal about it. He said he didn’t have a dad or a big brother to teach him how to do a lot of things. And he appreciated my help. Then he gave me the beer, put his arm around my shoulders and led me outside.

And that night, I got higher than the Empire State Building.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Third Generation

I have some pretty terrific nieces and nephews; eight, in fact. Every time I go home, they are affectionate and friendly, which has surprised me because there have been times when months go by between visits. I have to give alot of credit to my parents and siblings for keeping me present in the kids' lives. It would be very easy for them to be a little distant from me when they don't really know me except for what they hear and the stories my family tells.

But with every trip home, I am greeted with shouts, warm hugs and homemade presents, be them crafts or just pictures torn from a colouring book: I have a small woven basket that serves as my change holder, a coffee mug with bugs drawn on it I use as a pencil holder, a flower refrigerator magnet, countless portraits, and thank you cards for every birthday card or present I have ever sent them.

I talk alot about my siblings alot, but I don't mention their children and how proud I am of them. It is harder to be away from my nephews and nieces now than it was when they were children. They email me now and tell me about new pet turtles, or homeruns, or good grades. Every time I travel home, one of them seems to have grown a foot taller.

Kim has two sons (John 22 and Seth 20), Matt has four sons (Shaene 25, Bjorn 15, Ethan 13, and Liam 9), and Mike has two daughters (ages Jordan 11 and Mikayla 6). Each child is very unique in much the same ways Kim, Matt, Mike and I were. They all have very different interests, so my parents - who used to have to attend games, plays and concerts for 4 kids - now have to do double time for 8 grandchildren.

And as cousins, they treat each other more like brothers and sisters because they are around each other so often. They fight, argue, debate, and laugh together. They all get along extremely well and they are kind to one another. One of the funny things, though, is that each of my siblings has a child that is his/her splitting image; so it's like watching them all grow up again. And as I will never have a child of my own, these are my children in a way. And I think I've done a pretty good job.