Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Dumbest Christmas Song Ever Written

Now I am as sentimental as the next guy, especially when it comes to the combination of mothers and Christmas. But there is a Christmas song I have been hearing over the last 5 years or so that wins the Yuletide Velveeta Award for its oustandingly cheesy attempt at melodrama (I hate forced sentiment). And it's not enough that it is a crappy song, it's also a book, and a television movie starring Rob Lowe.

Obviously written to attempt a tug at the heart strings, "Christmas Shoes" simply falls way short and lands someplace between hokey and trailerpark. The premise: a little boy in a store on Christmas Eve buying a pair of "Christmas shoes" for his dying mother.

Yeahhhhhhhhhhh . . . . . . . .

If I was that close to death that my spouse would tell my children on Christmas Eve that there's "not much time" left, the last thing I want is a pair of new shoes - especially the kind that my 8 year old kid would buy me. I'm all for keeping children occupied during a crisis, but sending your son out to buy your wife a pair of pumps to wear when she "meets Jesus" is just a little too bizarre for me. The weird thing is that this song sounds alot like the Fruit of the Loom commerical where the Apple sings "You Can't Overlove Your Underwear" (only I like the underwear song more).

Here are the lyrics to "Christmas Shoes":

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line.
Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood.
Standing right in front of me, was a little boy waiting anxiously.
Pacing 'round like little boys do.
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes...
His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe.
And when it came his time to pay,
I couldn't believe what I heard him say.

"Sir, I want to buy these shoes, for my Mama, please...
It's Christmas Eve...and these shoes are just her size...
Could you hurry, Sir, Daddy says there's not much time...
You see she's been sick for quite a while...
And I know these shoes, would make her smile.
And I want her to look beautiful, if Mama meets Jesus tonight..."

He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here"
He searched his pockets frantically.
Then he turned and he looked at me...
He said "Mama made Christmas good at our house.
Though most years she just did without.
Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes."
So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out...
I'll never forget the look on his face, when he said...
"Mama's gonna look so great...

"Sir, I want to buy these shoes, for my Mama, please...
It's Christmas Eve...and these shoes are just her size.
Could you hurry, Sir, Daddy says there's not much time...
You see she's been sick for quite a while.
And I know these shoes,would make her smile.
And I want her to look beautiful,
if Mama meets Jesus tonight..."

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about...
.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Matt

Just a shout-out to my brother Matt, who turns 39 today.

Perhaps because we are just a year apart, Matt and I hated each other growing up. It could have been a rivalry, it could have been that we were just very different and would not see eye to eye. But I know that on more than one occasion, we both denied even being related to each other. I realize now, however, that because of our hatred, I tried harder to excel in ... well ... everything.

And then while we were in our 20's, we lived apart: he lived in Baltimore going to school at Towson State, and I lived in DC, then finished school in Winchester, VA. For several years, we would only see each other on holidays and school breaks mostly. And during that time, something happened to our relationship - we found respect for each other.

These days, Matt is one of my best advisors. Our humour is the same and we bring out the orneriness in each other. And even though we live very dissimilar lives (Matt is married with four sons and lives 1/2 mile from my parents), we seem to have more in common than ever before. I have an older sister that I adore, and another younger brother that I admire. And I am lucky to have all three of these people with me as I journey through my entire life.

So to Matt, at least today, I tip my hat and say "thank you ... for making me try harder." And Happy Birthday.
.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Tale Of Two Dops

I apparently have been cheating those who read my blog out of knowing the real me. There are apparently two sides of me - the "blog me" and the "real me".

A close friend has admitted to me that if he only knew me through my blog - he doubts he would like me very much. After some of my more opinionated entries, he will look at me with a slight squint and a shake of his head and say, "Um, your blog entry today ...." And then we debate about how I fail to see all sides of what I am talking about. These subject matters have mostly centered around things that I take very personally. And I admit that I can be very one-sided at times.

I get this honestly. Both of my parents are very opinionated as well. They aren't judgmental people at all, they just have their opinions and beliefs, many with which I do not agree. My dad seems more opinionated than my mom, I think. Perhaps it comes from his living in a small town all his life? Perhaps it's due to not having his parents for very long (my dad's mother died when he was 16; his father died when Dad was 30)? I say this because my sister and two brothers all live within two miles of my parents, and they all seem to have the same opinions and beliefs. Mine differ slightly. And I don't think it's because I am the gay one, but more due to the fact that I left home, ergo meeting other people who also had left their homes. Leaving home changes your opinion on many things.

The "blog me" is stubborn, sometimes brash, occasionally not very fair. The "real me" is easy-going, sometimes incoherent, occasionally not very serious. The "blog me" is stuffy; the "real me" is goofy. The "blog me" seems loud at times, almost abrasive; the "real me" is shy at times, almost wallpaper.

I am going to make a concerted effort to put more of the "real me" into this blog - not completely, just a little around the edges. 'Cause my friends find the "real me" charming and loveable (thank God!). And I would prefer to be thought of that way, rather than as cold and aloof.

But I still love a good debate.
.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Marketing Victims

Ah, but we Americans are gullible, aren't we? Especially around Christmas when we want to buy what "they" tell us is the best product out there. But how many of us stop to think about what we are are actually buying? To prove the marketing mayhem is not sexist, here are two examples:

The Titanium Turbo T2 Shaver
The ad: "The Titanium Turbo is the high performance electric razor that will give you a close, comfortable shave - the smoothest shave - at a fraction of the cost of other razors. It's small and easy to handle yet is powerful enough to us as your primary shaver! The secret is the razor like design with 24 micro blades in the titanium plated head."
Sounds great right? But what does titanium have to do with shaving? And what is titanium? The only real contribution titanium will make to a razor is that it makes the blades non-corrosive, which means it won't weaken the blades. Not weaken, perhaps. But that's not the same as not dull the blades. Razor blades wear down, that's a fact. Exactly how fast depends on a few other factors. No razor will last you forever. Shaving your face with the same titanium razor 5 years from now will yield the same results as if you were shaving with your titanium watch or your titanium golf club.

Revlon's Age-Defying Makeup with Botafirm:
The ad: "Want younger-looking skin in just 14 days? Try this exclusive patented makeup formula with BotafirmTM- a patented blend of hexapeptides and botanicals- to reduce lines up to 50% in just 2 weeks. Specially formulated for dry skin, this moisture-rich formula helps restore skin softness and smoothness with medium coverage to blend away imperfections."
You do know there is no such thing as botafirm, right? It's just a word created by Revlon to make their product sound more contemporary. And not coincidentally, botafirm sounds alot like botox - the botulism toxin that people have injected into their faces to reduce wrinkles. There is no scientific proof that a product called botafirm even exists. Really.

We all want the best, usually without having to pay the accompanying price, and we want it all yesterday so that it takes effect last week. And even if tissues are laced with copper, or milk contains glue to make it whiter, or toothpaste starts containing stuff called "bleachtex" - we will buy these products. Why? Because it just sounds too good to be true.

And you know what that means, right?
.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

On Notice

Saw this on my buddy Michael's blog a few weeks ago. If you'd like to do this yourself, click here. So here is my official "On Notice" board:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving

This is the first Thanksgiving of my life that I will not spend with my family, around my parents' dining room table, surrounded by about 50 members of my mother's family. Instead, I have chosen to stay in Chicago and have dinner with the family I have created for myself: The BF, my roommate Ashley, and downstairs roommates Brandon and Darnell. We will eat alot (I even cooked a few things), drink alot, and decorate for Christmas afterwards while football games play in the background, occasionally distracting us.

I am very thankful for many things this year, some of which I have already mentioned here: a supportive family, great friends, an amazing boyfriend, my health and happiness. And I wish you all equal measure.

Happy Thanksgiving!

.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

iDeath

In my ever-present effort to stay cardiovascularly challenged, I upped my game and moved from running on the treadmill in the gym to running outside. The treadmill was just driving me crazy and I found that I bored before I tired. Since there was a break in the weather this past week in Chicago, I decided now was the time to start running on trails and such outdoors to enliven my routine.

I stepped outside, inhaled deeply, stretched, and began my run. Twenty feet later, as I fumbled with my iPod, I accidentally dropped it on the sidewalk, then as I tried to sidestep it, kicked it another 50 feet or so.

Oh yeah, it's way dead.

The one time I really needed my iPod while working out and this happened - totally my fault with no one else to blame, too. Curses. I am also glad to see that I am not the only person distraught at the death of my electronic listening device.

Truth is, I've been wanting to buy the iPod Nano for some time now. It's better suited to working out and it comes with all those cute accessories like armbands and the Nike distance chip. And I couldn't justify buying the Nano when I already had the larger, 20g version.

So perhaps my dropping the iPod was subliminal? Doubtful. I am not that deep. But I am that clumsy.
.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Tech Tomato

If you are in Chicagoland (and even if you aren't), and you have a sick computer - I have found your saviour! Joel Mehr at Tech Tomato is a God-send when it comes to fixing/repairing/resuscitating a computer. Last Fall, my laptop, which was only 5 months old, caught a nasty virus. Every day, I would just watch my memory disappear more and more. By February, it was all but dead.

And then The BF recommended Joel, a co-worker from Blue Man Group. I handed my very sick laptop over to Joel and hoped for the best. Within three weeks, the laptop was returned in the same shape as it was when I bought it in May. And I only lost 3 programs which were easily re-installed with software I already had.

Joel also installed additional spyware and virus software to help combat future problems, and since then I have had absolutely no problems.

Not only does Tech Tomato bring the dead back to life, they also teach the community to be more savvy computer operators. Here's an article that appeared about them in last week's addition of the Daily Herald. It's good to see a company that not only fixes problems, but takes the time to help the community combat the problems in the first place. Ultimately, if everyone knew how to correctly operate a computer, Tech Tomato wouldn't be necessary - yet they take the steps to - in a very roundabout way - eradicate themselves for the betterment of the community.

A selfless approach in a selfish world. Congrats guys!
.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Emmitt Smith & Me

The BF called me the other night simply to say that he had just finished watching Dancing With The Stars and wanted to tell me how much ex-Dallas Cowboys Running Back and current DWTS champion, Emmitt Smith, looks like me. "He's big and bald and smiles alot. And he's cute, " The BF said with a giggle.

I cannot tell you the number of times I was told how much I resemble Emmitt, just this week alone. A while ago, I blogged about a face recognition website that would match you up with celebrities who resembled you, or at least the photo you chose to use. Personally, I didn't see a resemblance between me and any of those other people. But after checking out some pictures, I actually do see the resemblance between Emmitt and me. As my co-worker, Amy, said yesterday, "Emmitt is The Black Dop."

Some say it's the beefy build, some say it's the bald head, some say it's the big smile (I wish it was the big wallet). So let's compare some stats:


EmmittDop
Born:19691966
Height:5'9"5'11"
Weight:216240
Super Bowl titles:30
Feb. 3, 2005:
Retired from Pro FootballWatched Catwoman on Netflix


Okay, so maybe we didn't live parallel lives, but here are some comparison pics for you to judge for yourself:

.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Anonymous Commenters

Over a year ago, I was unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some fairly hateful comments posted on my blog by someone who would feel comfortable enough to voice his opinioin, but not adult enough to sign his name to it. Based on his postings (I just surmised that "anonymous" was a male), it was clear that we did not know each other.

Was he an unrequited love? Maybe. Was he a disgruntled postal worker? Perhaps. Was he bored and lonely with no friends? Probably. For whatever reason, this dude hated - HATED - me and my life without ever meeting me in person, or even carrying on any kind of dialogue. He simply chose to voice his opinion and sign his name as Anonymous. Eventually, he went away, off to bother someone else no doubt.

Had Anonymous actually written anything that made sense, I might have encouraged him to continue to post his opinions. I do, after all, inadvertently invite some form of criticism by simply keeping an online journal of my thoughts and ideas which allows others to respond in kind. And while I am the first to admit that I probably don't have the most positive blog on the net, I do hope that what I write is considered interesting, fun, and sometimes offbeat yet thought-provoking.

Lately, another person (I am only assuming that this is a different person) has been offering his opinions (I again assume it's a man) and criticisms about the stuff I write on this here blog. Now, one can disagree with me all he wants, but the one thing I will not allow is to have my blog hijacked by someone else to serve as a vehicle for his own opinions. To that I say, "Get your own effing blog and leave mine alone." And Whitney agrees with me.


I encourage everyone who reads my blog to sign your name. My opinions cannot be swayed by someone with no credentials - or name for that matter. I consider comments to be a form of education, however I cannot respect a teacher who masks himself. This ain't Phantom of the Opera, toots.

So Whitney and I are going to be monitoring the comments a little more closely now. And if those left by anyone signing as anonymous are not up to par, they will be deleted. What is "up to par", you might ask? Well, it's a little like pornography - I can't define it, but I'll know it when I see it. And yes, this probably negates the concept of an open forum, but it should also propogate the creation of new blogs out there that others can choose to read or not read.

Just like mine.
.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Imagine - The Bush Remix

If only "W" really felt this way. It's interesting to hear the words of one of the greatest songs ever written from the mouth of one of the worst leaders there's ever been.


The amount of editing and work that went into this is staggering.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Coming Outs

I am a little late on this, but a congrats shout out to Neil Patrick Harris, co-star of How I Met Your Mother, and T.R. Knight, co-star of Grey's Anatomy, for publicly coming out as gay men!














While it is important for them to publicly acknowledge who they are as individuals, it is equally important for them to do so when they are at career pinnacles. While other actors have had to wait well into their careers and even past them (George Takei, Dick Sargent, Richard Chamberlain), it's so important for young actors (as well as other professionals and athletes) to announce their orientations. It also helps that Harris and Knight are likeable and positive men who are not tabloid fodder, unlike many of their straight counterparts.

And while I am at it - a big hiss to Knight's castmate, Isaiah Washington, for proving to the world that he is a hater and a homophobe; and a rousing Straight Ally Applause for Patrick Dempsey, for standing up for Knight.
.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Just Like The Pilgrims Did It

I love autumn. It is my favorite season. I love the colours, the smells, the temperature. Everyone looks instantly cuddly in their sweaters and scarves. And it's beautiful autumn days like today that remind me of a drive I took one November Sunday afternoon.

It was a beautiful autumn day and my ex-fiance, Crystal, and I decided to go for a drive. We were travelling down Old Route 9 just east of Oldtown, MD. It is an old, winding road with sharp turns and long straight-aways. And it was on one of these straight-aways when in the distance we saw a big clump of something laying just slightly off-center on the middle of the road.

"What do you think that is?" I asked my co-pilot.
"It looks like a garbage bag or something. Perhaps fell off a truck?", she guessed.
"Well there's no room to go around it. The jeep is high enough to clear it."

As we approached the bag, and were about twenty feet or so from driving over top of it, the garbage bag suddenly sprouted a head, a long neck, and wings! It was a damn turkey! I hit my brakes but couldn't stop in time.

"Holy shit!!", we both yelled. And I hit him going about 40mph with the grill of my jeep. His body flew up in the air, hit the windshield and disappeared. We came to a screeching stop and looked out the back window just in time to see this massive blob plop to the earth and remain motionless, feathers flying everywhere.

I looked at Crystal in amazement and said, "I can't believe I just killed a turkey."
.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Drive By Texting

When I ride the bus to or from work, I am amazed at the number of drivers I see on LSD (as in Lake Shore Drive, not lyseric acid diethylamide - although there quite possibly could be drivers on lyseric acid diethlamide, but I digress) who are talking on their cell phones while driving. I've never been one to talk and drive at the same time.

People don't seem to understand the risks involved, especially when driving on something as fast-moving as an expressway during rush hour. But drivers who are just talking on their cell phones are not the biggest safety concern. The other day, I treated myself to a cab ride home rather than taking the bus or the EL. I thought my cab driver seemed to be driving a bit erratically, until I realized he was also texting on his cell phone. (There have been times when I have asked cab drivers to please hang up and concentrate on driving - cab drivers already have reputations for being irresponsible and reckless).

So naturally, I asked the driver of this cab to please stop text messaging on the phone and concentrate on the road. And he had the nerve to get pissy with me. "I can do both at the same time," he shoots back at me. "Not with me in the car, please put the phone down!"

He did as I originally requested - he stopped texting. Only to place a call, probably to the person to whom he was sending the text - and speak in another language, probably about me, because I kept catching his eye in the rear view mirror.

So, then it isn't common sense to not be sending text messages while you are operating a motor vehicle, especially one where you are responsible for a passenger's safety?? Is this what they teach in taxi college??

The driver got no tip - I even asked for the coins back. And I reported him to his cab company, although I am not sure what will be done about it, if anything. This is no worse than a bus driver working on a crossword puzzle or a pilot watching a DVD. I realize cab drivers need to communicate with their dispatchers now and then, but typing into a phone when both hands are supposed to be on the wheel - not to mention both eyes on the road - should cease and desist.

The next great automotive idea? A signal that disables text messaging in a vehicle when said vehicle is in motion. Hey Saab, make that!
.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Kati Gets Married

I went to a family wedding a few weekends ago. I don't go to many weddings. It's not because I don't have any friends, its just that all of my friends seem to be gay men who aren't getting married. The last wedding I attended was in 1994 when my youngest brother Mike got married. Twelve years later, here I go again.

Kati is my cousin-once-removed. She is the daughter of my eldest cousin Cathy. Because Cathy is so much older than I (17 years older) and Kati is so much younger than I (15 years younger), they are more like sisters than cousins to me. Watching Kati get married was the same as watching my baby sister get married. She is the first person who's birth I remember. I mean, I can remember other people being born, but I actually remember the minute she was born. I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news, the same way the Baby Boomers remember Kennedy's assasination.

Kati was an adorably beautiful bride. She looked very happy and very much in love, as did her new husband Mark. It was a Catholic wedding, so there were alot of ups and downs (and if you're not Catholic, that means there's alot of standing and sitting and kneeling. It's like being at a college football game: stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!) And Kati managed to turn it up a notch by wearing a gown that was not entirely white. It was the first time I ever saw red incorporated into a wedding gown. Loved it!

It was a lovely ceremony, and I am very happy Kati married Mark, whom my family adores. He realizes how close Kati and I are, so it meant alot to him, too, that I returned home for the wedding. With this wedding, I feel more of a gain than a loss. I haven't lost a baby sister - I've just gained (another) little brother.
.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Today Is The Day

Get out today and vote! Time to change the regime! All the complaining can end today if we stand up and say WE ARE MAD AS HELL AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! My optimism is very high. And by the end of today, I want to be able to sing,


"I can see clearly now, the reign is gone!"


.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Giving Blood Through The Nose

I used to donate blood all the time. I think in total I donated about two gallons. I remember how disappointed I was when my name was not mentioned in the newspaper when I hit the one gallon mark. I was so proud of that achievement. And then I stopped donating.

Not because of the snub from the Red Cross. And not because I am gay either. I'm sure some people stop donating because of that but I didn't. I figured if they thought they had the right to ask me about my personal life, then I had the right to lie about it. I denied being gay just so I could give blood. I had my blood tested regularly, and I was not a risky person anyway, so I knew my blood was good. So I considered it a white lie for the greater good. My blood would help someone who needed it. So I didn't feel bad about being dishonest to the Red Cross. (Besides, they snubbed me.)

No, the real reason I stopped donating blood occured during a blood drive held at my college. I was in a fraternity and had talked all of the brothers into donating blood as well. I explained that it was a painless process and that it was such a great cause. They agreed to follow me. I checked in and sat down to have my temperature taken. An elderly lady with a name tag reading "Midge" was working that station.

All I can guess is, Midge just wasn't paying attention. Just as she began to put the thermometer in my mouth, someone called her name. She turned her head and instead of putting the thermometer under my tongue, she rammed it up my nose. I reared my head back and yelled. It echoed throughout the gymnasium. All of my brothers got up in unison and walked out of the blood drive.

Flustered, Midge asked if I was all right. "Of course not!" I screamed. So then she tried to stick that same thermometer under my tongue. "Don't put that thing in my mouth, God!" Poor Midge was so confused. My nose hurt for five days after that. And that's why I don't donate blood anymore.

And just because we were so damn cute, here is one more parting shot from Hallowe'en, courtesy of the Giant Panda himself, Will at The [Cherry] Ride:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pasta Can Kill You

I never would have guessed that something as mundane as doing the dishes could result in minor surgery (but leave it to me to find a way).

I was living with a roommate my senior year in college and it was my night to do dishes. The roommate had boiled pasta for spaghetti the night before and some of the noodles had ended up drying to the bottom of the pot. So I applied a little elbow grease with my fingers in order to scrape them out. Well, as I was scraping, one of the noodles broke off and slid under the index finger of my right hand.

It hurt. Like. Hell.

It ended up breaking off under the nail so that I couldn't even get to it. I tried soaking it in salt water, then peroxide, then just plain old hot water, hoping to soften the noodle. Alas, it wouldn't budge. After the pain eventually became unbearable (twelve hours later when I hadn't been able to sleep because my finger felt like the size of a lightbulb), I drove myself to the emergency room of the hospital. The ER physician was amazed! (Somehow he had gone his entire professional career and never once had a patient who had a broken piece of spaghetti stuck under his fingernail. Imagine that!) He said he would have to do a digital block (numb the whole finger from the knuckle down) and scrape underneath the nail. After three shots around the knuckle (and a subsequent warning of a sharp pain from the doctor) I laid for fifteen minutes while the novocaine took effect.

The doctor then came in and proceeded to scrape under my fingernail with a small pair of forceps. But my finger wasn't numb enough and I could feel it. "Wait wait wait wait!" I yelled. He thought for a minute. He scowled. He looked at me. He looked at my finger. He scowled again. Then he said to me,

"I want to do this with the least amount of pain caused to you as possible." "Thank you for taking that into consideration" I replied.
"We're going to have to numb your finger again."
"Okay."
"And it's going to be very painful", he warned.
"Well, I hate to be wimpy about it but it really does hurt."
"Oh, you're not being wimpy at all. Remember, things shoved under fingernails was a form of torture during wartime. What you're not going to like is where we have to inject the novocaine."
"Umm. . . where?"
"We have to inject it next to the injury."
"Meaning ... ?"
"We have to inject it under the fingernail itself. And it is going to hurt."

Ohmigod! A needle going under my fingernail! If I could feel those forceps, how in the world was a needle going to feel? I held onto the bar alongside the bed with my left hand. The doctor asked me to squeeze his hand with the remaining fingers on my right and I braced myself.

Never before in the history of my life had I ever experienced such physical pain.It hurt, and it didn't, both at the same time. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt dizzy. I almost fainted. After the injection, he lifted my nail and scraped the underside of it with the forceps, then flush out the end of the finger with a syringe. He then popped my nail back into place and plunged my finger into an iodine mixture. I was sweating at this point. He then administered a tetanus shot (which I didn't even feel compared to the previous situation), allowed me to rest and sent me to the pharmacy for a prescription of cephalaxin and acetamenophin.

I then went home and, with my other good hand, punched my roommate in the stomach.
.