Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Joans in San Francisco! or, I Didn't Leave My Heart, But I Did Leave My Sunglasses. A Video Blog, Part One of Three...

To answer first questions first, we're back. And it was amazing. And they loved The Joans. Seriously, I think it's the most amazing out-of-town reception we've ever gotten (granted, our out-of-town experience has been pretty limited, but...)

I took lots of video, most of it pretty pedestrian and inane and "sight-seeish," and the camera work is wobbly at times (since I'm walking and recording at the same time), but this will let you see what I saw AS I saw it--for the first time!

This first part will focus on the journey to, and arrival in, San Francisco. That's because my computer has been very slow to upload the videos. Seriously, only half of them made it up in six hours. My work computer is much faster, so I'll upload the rest tomorrow while I catch up on my work (the joys of multi-tasking!).

I'll post video of The Joan's performance tomorrow (don't get too excited--it's a small video camera with non-professional sound--but you can still see folks having fun! And of course we look lovely...)

So on with part one...!


This is Saturday morning, after Taylor and I have arrived at the airport. We shared a taxi from his house since it turned out we were on the same flight. I was nervous about flying after so many years, so Taylor very kindly gave me one of his thorazapan dexatrim? clorox mother's little helpers. It did calm me down, but didn't knock me out. We have about half an hour before boarding the plane, so I figured I'd give our little journey intro:

Finally, about 9:55, we're boarded. Taylor is seven rows ahead of me, so I can't throw anything at him--so I decide to shoot video out the window instead. Sigh.

This one was taken about an hour into the flight. The flight attendants were very nice and the male one even gave me two of those little bottles of wine for the price of one. I was VERY mellow for this flight.

I'm not sure where we are at this point, but there are lots of hills, so it's probably close to some mountains. I calculate that we're about 1,000 miles from Chicago, but my math sucks--once again, I forget that it's about 500 miles per hour. So this is most likely Nebraska or Kansas. What I do know is that I'm sitting right next to the engine. Yes, that's right. Right next to it:

This is some other hilly place. I don't know where it is. But it was sort of pretty, and I bothered taking video of it, so it must be significant. Here:

Finally, about 12:30, we land in San Francisco, and we're waiting for our shuttle. Here's a view of the airport from outside of the terminal:

Finally, we arrive at our hotel, The Mark Twain. It's a nice place, and although I don't have any video of the outside, here's a brief glimpse of the lobby (and listen as I have trouble getting the camera to shut off when I want it to):

After I unpack, I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood, specifically Market Street. It's got a really gritty urban feel in this portion (which is called the Tenderloin)--there are lots of adult bookstores and liquor stores, and many homeless people and (it appeared) drug addicts on the streets. Somehow, though, it was still pretty. The streets are very wide, and there were always cable cars running (except, it seemed, while I was shooting this video!):


That's all my computer uploaded today. Tomorrow: Aaron climbs the hills and walks to China Town! And don't miss Thursday, when The Joans take Folsom Street! Also some bonus footage of The English Beat...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spreading Our Legs Wings

Chad John
Photo by G. Thomas Ward

I'm heading out the door in a few minutes to go down to Taylor's house, where he and I will catch a cab to the airport. Coincidentally, he and I are on the same flight--which is a good thing, since he may have to actually PUSH me onto the plane. Have I mentioned that I hate flying?

We are scheduled to be in San Francisco around 1:00 this afternoon. I've never been there but have heard it's beautiful. I've heard the Folsom Street Fair is quite the spectacle, too. I heard this from John (kneeling on the right in the photo above--the gentleman on the left is his partner, Chad, who's a member of our theatre company--I know, you thought it was me, didn't you? I get that all the time...)

The Joans are scheduled to play tomorrow afternoon at 12:45. I'm kind of excited--just mostly nervous about flying right now.

The cat's litter is clean, she has lots of food and water, and I'm switching off and heading out the door now. I hope I don't get hassled at the airport about the tiny bottles I put my shampoo and soap in.

What if I'm strip-searched?


See you Monday!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Since You Asked - September 26, 2008

(NOTE: I didn't have time to be picky this week...I'm getting ready to go to San Francisco, so I was in kind of a hurry!)

DEAR ABBY: I just got off the phone with a friend who makes me envious. "Sally" is a nice person with a great attitude. She married an intelligent, confident man who has become successful and has always been crazy about her. She lives in a beautiful home and has never had to work. She has a close and loving family who travels all over the world together, celebrating every occasion.

When she finishes telling me about her wonderful life, she then asks about mine. But, Abby, I just can't bring myself to tell her about my boring job, my unsuccessful husband, my parents who fight constantly and my average children. So I lie and say that everything is "fine," and after I hang up I feel like a miserable failure.

Sally is one of my dearest friends, and I would hate to end the friendship, but every conversation with her makes me feel worse. What should I do?



There are three possibilities here:

a. She’s exaggerating.
b. She’s not telling you everything.
c. She’s rehearsing a Geritol commercial.

Whatever the case, your life sounds pretty normal. Hers sounds like the stuff TV-movies are made of, a lá “Fatal Vision” or “Wife, Mother, Murderer.” Everything is just hunky-dory until one night, there are ambulances and fire trucks all over the street in front of their house when somebody finally flips out.

(I’m not saying that we should gloat if this happens—but who am I to judge if you decide to?)

DEAR MARGO: I am a gay male, single five years and ready for something serious again. My last relationship was not very good, but I made the effort until I could no longer handle the stress of an alcoholic compulsive gambler.

Last weekend I met a really nice guy who is about a year older than me (I am 46). Although he is not really my type, I like the attention he gives me and I really like how nice he is. I am willing to explore the possibilities here. The problem is that 45 minutes into our first conversation, he started talking about "when we move in together," "our relationship," "our future," etc. He is already making plans, tells me he loves me, wants me to spend the night, can't wait to meet my friends and family and for me to meet his. I have known him for only a few days and feel a bit smothered. I told him to slow down because we don't really know each other, and that I will not spend the night until I know him a lot better. The last two conversations left me very concerned because they involved him telling me what is going to happen or what to do.

I know that relationships benefit from a certain amount of allowing yourself to be controlled by your significant other, but I feel this is out of line this early into things, and my first inclination is to cut and run. These control issues and his neediness seem to be huge red flags. So the question is: Do I heed my inner voice that is telling me to end this, or do I see where this goes first?



Where did you meet this guy, exactly? The Glenn Close Fan Club, in the “I Will Not Be Ignored” section? Well, at least you still have the alarm bells going off that tell you when things are moving too fast. Unfortunately, we live in a world of instant gratification: microwave meals, speed dating, online ads and Internet porn. Who needs the complications of dating and emotional relationships when they can just whack off to their computer and heat up a burrito afterwards? This makes for a society of shallow, bitter singles who can’t understand why their world is full of strangers.

But it also leads some people to the other extreme: the ones who see a spark of kindred spirit and latch on like barnacles, claiming marriage after five minutes. The problem with “seeing where it goes” is that we don’t control where it goes—it takes us along for an unpleasant ride to places we’re not prepared to be with people we don’t know well. Also, if we let them control the pace, it sets a bad precedent of making them think they can control the entire relationship.

I think you need to listen to your Little Voice and break this off now—but be prepared that this “nice guy” will start mean-mouthing you behind your back. Hell hath no fury, etc.—but that’s when you’ll know you made the right decision.

DEAR ABBY: Is it me, or do others agree that it's tacky to announce to anyone within earshot how much money someone has spent on an item? I have a friend who brags constantly about the amount she spends on clothing and other things. I also suspect that she inflates the actual figures most of the time. How would you respond to a statement such as, "This new shirt I bought cost me $200"?



“Boy, did you get ripped off.”

DEAR AMY: Several years ago, my father started inviting a co-worker, "Jerry," over to help restore an antique car. Since then the frequency of Jerry's visits has increased.

Jerry (who is single and in his 40s) is strange. He hardly talks, and when he does his conversation is off-topic and bizarre. His stare makes my skin crawl. Unfortunately, when I visit, I can't avoid him. He's at my parents' house morning, noon and night.

I told my mother that as a young woman, I am extremely uncomfortable around Jerry and that I didn't appreciate that he and my parents had become a package deal.

My parents (who are in their 60s) heavily rely on him for everything from computer help to assistance with yardwork.

Amy, as uncomfortable as Jerry makes me, I do not believe that he would take advantage of my parents. In fact, he does help them a great deal. However, I cannot stand the fact that every visit home now includes an omnipresent, creepy stranger. My mother feels sorry for Jerry and thinks he's "misunderstood."

In my angrier moments, I want to tell my parents that if Jerry is there I won't visit. But I also feel guilty for banishing a person whom they think of as a friend and who is a help when I'm gone.



If this guy is one of your father’s co-workers and they’ve known him for years, then he’s not a “stranger,” is he? If he’s a stranger to you, that’s probably because you’ve kept him at arm’s length, Lady Nevershit. Sometimes, people give off strange or awkward non-verbal signals, but that doesn’t make them “creepy,” any more than your haughty attitude makes you Imelda Marcos. You said yourself you don’t think he’d take advantage of your parents, and he helps them out a lot. They're not that old, but they've been around longer than you, so they can probably trust their own judgment more than yours.

And so what if he’s in his 40s and still single? So am I, and people like you make me glad of it.

If you don’t like his being around so often, maybe you could find a way to help out with some of the tasks that he assists with. But don’t expect them to cut him out of their life—he’s their friend, whether you like it or not. That's one of the perks of being older--you get to pick your own friends without your family horning in.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gay Gayken Comes Clean (or at least "out")

Well, the whole blogosphere is abuzz with the news that the tepidly-talented Clay Aiken has opened his closet door. And what was inside? Frankly, nothing we weren't expecting.

But, my gracious, his fanbase is swirling with the vapors! (Thanks to David Cerda of Handbag Productions for posting that link originally on the Handblog.) Their responses range from support and acceptance to petulant foot-stamping and "I-can't-believe-it's-true-I-hope-it's-just-a-dream." (Now they know how their mothers felt when the rabbit died.)

Such a to-do, for God's sakes. How delusional must people be? And over what? Some guy they're never going to meet? If they're this upset about some obvious fruitcake actually "publishing his recipe," imagine how upset they're all gonna be when we're all living in shacks next to a flooded river with no electricity and they can't turn on their stupid laptops with the Hello Kitty stickers on them and post on his fag-hag comment board. It'll be a Tiger Beat Revolution!

(I'm glad I grew up in the era of Dirk Benedict and the Bay City Rollers. They were drool-worthy, but nobody would have started a riot over them.)

On the other hand, it's nice to have all the Sarah Palin supporters on one message board...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chicago AIDS Walk 2008 - A Video Blog (NOW WITH UPDATED VIDEO CODING!)

NOTE: I've corrected the coding on the videos, which I've now uploaded to YouTube. Everyone should be able to access them now...thanks!

On Saturday, I joined the Season of Concern team, headed by the lovely Stephen, for the 2008 Chicago AIDS Walk and Run. It was a great event, a great time and we raised a shitload of money, thanks contributions from the "Wicked" and "Jersey Boy" casts--over $17,000! I brought along my trusty and compact Flip video camera to document the occasion. The following wobbly video chronicles our adventure:

Here, we're gathered in front of the Merle Reskin Theatre at DePaul University's downtown campus, waiting for Michael, the SOC board member who had our team T-shirts. (I keep calling the venue the Merle NORMAN theatre, which of course is incorrect.) A nice view of the outside of the Chicago Hilton and Towers, which is across the street and a sweep of our team members:

9:38AM and we're ready to roll. Here we are walking along Balbo over the bridge to Columbus drive where the race starts. A good shot of teammate Karen, who must have wondered who was in the little box I was speaking into.

10:00AM. The runners have just hit the start line and are starting their trek. as we wait our turn. That's a lotta runners!

10:10AM. And we're off! Here we are crossing the start line and getting on our way down Columbus drive toward the museums. Nice shots of Grant Park and a few skyscrapers. Stephen sings and the brass band plays (but not the same song).

10:40-ish AM. We're a half hour in and approaching the one-mile marker. Stephen shows us the last few contribution checks, which he'd just picked up from the office before the walk, and put us over the goal. Well over, even though not everybody thought he would reach his goal. (It's OK, because the person who didn't think so will be thrilled that they weren't right!)

11:00ish AM. We're at about the 1.5 mile marker--passing the museum campus (which is on the right) and the marina. Sorry for the wobbly video--I was walking! I tried to avoid the "Blair Witch" effect to no avail...

11:20AM. We're now at about the two-mile mark, just passing the Chicago Yacht Club. Near Madison and Lake Shore Drive. The red CMA building is visible in the distance. I expound on the virtues of chihuahuas as we pass the ROTC team and get water.

11:45AM. One more view of the museum campus as we reach the 2.5 mile mark. We also pass Brad, That Juggling Guy and get a brief glimpse of him. Note the hideous plaid outfit. The stuff nightmares are made of!

12:15PM. We're on the home stretch walking back south towards Balbo and the finish line, when we come across Chester Cheetah. Who can resist a plush fast-food icon? Not Stephen and Melissa!

12:25PM-ish. We made it! We cross the finish line to thunderous applause, brass band music and more water. Thank God for the water. After this, we headed to the hot dog tent for our free weenies.

So there it is! Thanks for coming on the journey with me, and I apologize again for the shaky camera work. I had lots of fun doing this walk. It was my first time doing this particular walk, and I recommend it for anyone who lives in Chicago and is looking for something fun to do on a Saturday morning in September.

Thanks again to everyone who sponsored me--we raised $17,000, y'all. $17,000. You're the greatest!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Since You Asked -- September 19, 2008

DEAR MARGO: I'm at a loss as to how to deal with my husband's behavior. He's never been an animal person, and I get that, so when our family pet suddenly died I knew he wouldn't mourn much. What shocked me was his blatant disregard for my grief. I flat-out told him I needed some comfort, I'm in tears, and he said, "I'm not in a comforting mood." Basically, he left me alone to deal with the vet, the remains and the children.

I tried writing him a letter saying that I know he does not understand my grief, but as my husband I expect him to be there when I need him. He ignored my letter and appears to think that if he ignores this it will go away. Is there any hope or any way that he'll see that while we won't always agree on something, sometimes I'm going to need his support anyway? Or should I just find another support system?



To answer your questions in order:



Next time, leave your husband at the vet. You’ll get more affection from the dead dog.

DEAR ELLIE: I'm mid-40s, widowed for four years and together for three with a woman who'd never been in a long-term relationship. I understood that we loved and accepted one another unconditionally.

On our wedding night three weeks ago, she ignored me to spend time with her guests. I paid for everything. I bought the home and she brought heavy debt from traveling the casino circuit. At home with no guests, she adores me. If her friends visit or we go out, I feel I'm "the guy who's with her this time."

There's five to 10 years age gap with myself, my wife and her many friends. We're intimate frequently, three to four episodes weekly. One of our visitors is flirty with her. She basks in it and volunteered that our intimacy isn't always "good." This was startling to me. When confronted, she apologized, then later denied everything.

I can't find the right words for my issues, and our verbal fights escalate. I feel our bond is distorted. I'm trying to stay open to fixing this, but my gut says run for it.



The time to "run for it" would have been three weeks ago. I have to wonder why you entered into marriage—which is a legally binding agreement—with somebody who appears to have gambling debts, essentially buying a “pig in a poke.” “For love” would be a nice answer, but even you couldn't keep a straight face saying it. She sounds like a superficial whore. Her remarks to her friend about your sex life were waaaaay out of line. She had no business sharing something like that, especially with an opposite-sex friend, unless she’d already talked to you. There are some things that a partner has a right to hear first.

Then again, I also wonder about somebody who refers to his intimate encounters as “episodes.” Are you filming those as a TV pilot or something??

There's a reason we trust our gut feelings--yours are quite tardy, but no less accurate. Since the deal's down, you need to try to make it work. And this is serious shit: if you allow her to keep behaving this way, you’ll resent her more and more. And if you ask her to change, she’ll feel that you’re being overly possessive and controlling, since she’s used to doing what she damned well pleases. Why should she stop now, especially now that she’s comfortably kept? Sorry, but that’s what it amounts to.

Try counseling for a while—but keep a lawyer’s number handy and research your options.


DEAR ELLIE: My father makes me feel imperfect, and insecure. He left when I was 4 (20 years ago). Periodically, he comes into my life and tells me everything about me is wrong -- my weight, career choice, etc. He's divorced (again) and wants to see more of me.



Someone (mmm, maybe you??) should remind Delusional Daddy that he forfeited his right to dictate to you when he took that Long Walk for a Newspaper and didn’t come back.

Your career choice is really none of his business at this point, and unless he knows you well enough to suggest something that would make you happier (and I doubt he does, since it sounds like he only comes around when he’s between wives and he “suddenly has time for you again”), he needs to butt the fuck out.

As far as the weight, those things tend to be hereditary. No doubt the world is seeing more of him these days, too.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I raise guide dogs, and I love it. We talk to the public and educate many on the kind of work the dogs do.

While I love talking to people about our precious puppies, I do not know how to respond when someone comes up in a high-pitched voice and says — no, squeals — "Oh, my god, what a cute puppy. How old are you? What's your name!?"

While I realize the sight of a dog is quite rare, I mean, so few people ever get to see one, how should I respond?

I usually just say, "Oh, this is Fido, and he is 10 months old," but I would really like to let them know that they are quite possibly the most irritating people on the face of the planet. Should I say something sarcastic like, "Oh, sorry, I haven't taught him to speak English yet"?


Yes, why don’t you do that? That will convey to the other folks, directly and succinctly, what your letter already proves: that you spend so much time with animals because you have no "people" skills. And you're wrong: they are not "the most irritating people on the planet"--at least as long as you're alive.

You should try horses next. I hear equestrians are just a hoot, so it should suit your personality admirably.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

News Photo of the Day


In this AP photo by San Jang, "Project Runway" host Heidi Klum unsuccessfully attempts to smuggle North Korean leader Kim Jung Il out of the country under her dress.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Since Real Life Is Too Scary to Deal With Right Now, Let's Look at Some of the Bogeymen that Scared Us Back When We Had Nothing Better To Worry About

This movie trailer scared the shit right outta me when I was 9...

I imagine it's probably required viewing in the Streisand/Brolin household. Along with reruns of "Hotel" and "Marcus Welby M.D."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Since You Asked: September 12, 2008

DEAR AMY: I am responding to "Lesson for Life," who reiterates the irrational idea that we "choose" our feelings.

The fact is we cannot "choose" our feelings. In terms of neuropsychology, one "feels" quite intensely long (in terms of milliseconds) before the cognitive ability to "choose" kicks in.

It gets tedious reading this nonsense psycho-babble.

Once you've heard a parent speaking to a 2-year-old about making better "choices" for the umpteenth time, you will probably "feel" as I do.



If you hate “tedious psychobabble” so much, why did you fill your second paragraph with it?

But actually, I, too, get tired of these hippy-dippy-tambourine-bashing parents trying to use “reason” on out-of-control toddlers. They don’t have the capacity to reason, and it doesn’t stop them from screaming and annoying the shit out of the rest of us. But since child services will now swoop in with forms and self-righteous social workers the moment someone gives their kid a single swat on the ass (like WE got when WE misbehaved), or yells “NO!!,” they’ve been reduced to this child psychology shit.

I’m afraid we’ll have to learn to ignore it, as well as the screaming, spoiled kids. Just make sure you’re well-armed when they become adults.

Here’s another one the columnist was too soft on:

DEAR AMY: I love my stepmother, "Hannah." Unfortunately, she is petty, judgmental, cold and stubborn, and I'm sick of her. I see my father regularly, but I only see Hannah for any length of time during happy family occasions, during which she assumes and insinuates things about me and my private life.

Hannah thinks I watch too much TV, don't get out enough and don't act like a normal teenage girl. She very much resents my mother for no good reason, and I'm sick of her assumptions that I have no life.

These remarks make me feel very defensive, but I don't want to bring happy occasions down by slapping her with a much-deserved, "What do you mean by that?"

Hannah will say something, and from that point on, she's in my head like the "Small World" song. I'm not going to put my father in the middle by asking him to talk to her, and I won't let my mother defend me either. This is strictly between us. I need to do something.



The first thing you need to do is explain to me why you “love” this woman. She sounds like a real iron-box, and if that’s the kind of thing that turns your Daddio on, fine, but there’s no reason you should have to suffer.

It sounds like your father is pussy-whipped. There--that’s right, I said it. She probably rules the roost, perhaps threatening to withhold sex, hide his clean socks, or pursue any myriad of life-disrupting tactics that keep him at heel, so he daren’t stand up for himself or even you. I appreciate your not wanting to put him in the middle, but he landed there all by his lonesome when he married a woman who’s NOT the mother of his child and a conflict arose. Tough shit--sucks to be him today.

Tell him you need him to stand by you and explain to Hardass Hannah that she’s out of line. If she wants to be a parent figure, that’s great—I don’t think kids can have too many role models. But someone who only wants to criticize is NOT a parent--it’s a boss. Maybe you should start filling out a time card whenever you visit and billing her for each hour you have to spend in her company.

Failing that, you could try letting a different song get stuck in your head when she starts in. I suggest “Fat-Bottomed Girls” by Queen.

DEAR ELLIE: My daughter's pregnant, yet wants to leave her husband after the baby's born, because he's lazy. What can we do?



I’d tell her to go for it. If he’s as lazy as you say, he’s unlikely to run after her. And even if he does, she’s probably faster (unless she’s had a Caesarean).

DEAR MARGO: When I married "Phil" two years ago, I was in heaven. It was the culmination of several wonderful years of living together. But at the time we were married, my husband was unemployed. He'd had a not-so-rewarding experience in his last position and wanted to take some time to reevaluate his path in life and his spiritual purpose. Being the supportive wife and knowing he had substantial savings, I said fine, take the time you need.

Now, two and a half years later, the savings are gone and there is no motivation on Phil's part to get a job. He says he cannot spend his life being "miserable" in a 9-to-5 job seeing how disappointed I am in my current job, and he feels "something big" is coming up spiritually. Now my savings, the money I had put away for a house, has dwindled by the thousands in an effort to maintain some semblance of the life we once enjoyed. Phil meditates all morning, then walks around town or goes to lunch with his friends while I work to pay the bills. I have no sex drive anymore, which is taking another toll on our relationship.

He says that if I feel that disappointed in him I should divorce him, but wishes I would stick with him through this "tough time." I feel that he is not fulfilling his obligations as a husband, either financially or emotionally. I feel more depressed and alone than ever before, but do I have the right to tell Phil to give up his spiritual quest because I don't have the money to support him anymore?



Oh, I’ll just bet “he wishes you’ll stick with him through this ‘tough time,’” especially as it seems to be tougher for you than it is for him.

“Spiritual quest?” Puh-leeze. It shouldn’t take his body over two years to find a job that at least pays some bills while his head is off with its own little Sherpa on some inner journey. He could work at the post office, for Christ’s sakes.

Tell this lazy dumbshit to get off his chakra and start chipping in, or you’ll leave him stranded in the Gobi. If you don’t want to divorce him, then you need to start scaling back on this “lifestyle” you currently enjoy if it’s putting a strain on your savings. There’s no need to strive for Mr. Topper’s lifestyle on Ralph Kramden’s salary. Chances are, your Dalai Lama’s used to a few luxuries and once he starts doing without, let’s see how “spiritual” he is. I’m sure you’ll find it’s a different story once he drinks generic coffee for a few days.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Since I Don't Have a Flag To Wear On My Lapel, I'll Have to Put Something On My Sleeve...

Today is a sombre day for America, as an infamous anniversary is upon us. It's sort of a festive day for some of my family, as my father turns 63 (and I totally forgot it was his birthday until an hour and a half ago, then remembered to call his cell phone and sing happy birthday, like he did for me a few months back) and our cousin Dee turns 68.

For me, it's a introspective day, as the aftermath of gargantuan events always tends to be, once everything falls into place and you can see the larger picture. I have these moments of contemplation every so often, none usually as bleak as a few months ago just before mom passed, but I'm the sort of person who needs to stand still and take stock every so often. Kind of like a homepage refreshing, I suppose.

I'm at an age now where I look at my life and see that it's now on the decline--how fast or slow depends on me, I guess, and the way I take care of myself. I don't so much pine for my youth--I have plenty of pictures (some even posted on Facebook by college friends) to remind me that I looked exponentially worse back then than I do now, and I was frightened and clueless. Of course, I'm frightened and clueless these days, too, but not in the same way. I own my own home--I'm gainfully employed, I have my own health insurance, and uncertainty is something we've learned to live with--it can bring us both bad and good.

I guess what I pine for now is the time that I had then--like walking through a flat countryside looking out at the horizon, life and time stretched out before me, and the end was never any closer. I could achieve ANYTHING if I wanted to. Or so I was always told. I've since learned that that's not necessarily true.

What nobody did tell me was that you have to learn for yourself what you want--it's not a good idea to fashion your goals according to what's popular or looks good at the time--and make a plan to get there and attain it. I've never been a great planner (at least in terms of realistic plans), and I never knew myself well enough to know what I really wanted. My goals in life were pretty simple. They still are, actually:

* To make a decent living while doing something I love
* To always be surrounded by people I love

For the most part, I think I've attained those goals--I don't make a living BY doing what I love, although the living and the vocation have somehow managed to co-exist for the past few years. I'm not well-connected or prolific enough to expect more at this point, although I do have bursts of inspiration, especially in the Fall, as the air gets crisper and clearer. Those carry me through to the next one, and so on and so on...

I try to keep my loved ones and family close, too, but it's amazing how hard it is to hang on to the things you love...the person I loved most (and loved me most) is gone now, and it's left me feeling a little bit like nobody's on my side anymore. I know that's not necessarily the case, but every time I have to confront somebody, every time somebody takes advantage of me, and every time I have to hear someone talk about how close they and their mother are, it's like having a Band-Aid slowly ripped off of a still-bleeding wound, and I wonder if I'm strong enough to weather it by myself. So I go to the other extreme and come out swinging, usually overreacting terribly. Note to self: must find a way to deal with this more productively. My cousin Jim told me that things will eventually return to normal, but it won't feel that way for a few years, as I go through all the rites of passage--holidays, etc.--without Mom.

I haven't really grieved yet. I still feel a little stunned, like the split second after a car accident, when you spin to a stop in the middle of the intersection, wondering stupidly if it really just happened, even as your lap is like a dustpan full of broken glass (then and you realize your door won't open and you must climb out a window--but that's usually later). It hasn't really sunk in yet. I think that will happen more towards the holidays. It didn't escape my notice that I kept myself very, very busy during the last year, trying not to face what I knew was coming. Now it's come, and there's nothing to run from anymore. And I'm very, very tired. It almost feels like relief in a way, although it's not the kind one usually feels...

I wonder sometimes how long I'll stay in this city. I can't imagine living anywhere else. So many of my friends are here, and I've built such a life here that I can't imagine walking away from it. But I've known lots of people who've come and gone and come back again, so that seems to be an option.

I've seriously been thinking about buying a small home down in my hometown, so I can go there when I want to. The trouble with that is, I don't belong to the "Second Home Owning" class. I think I was born to work right up until the day I die, making a living doing the stuff other people don't want to do. (Even if that wasn't in my original job description, it ends up that way as people eventually encroach, since I seem to send out some vibe that says it's OK to piss all over me--I'm working on that, though.)

Sometimes I wonder how long a single gay man (who's likely to remain that way) should live in a big city. The stereotype is that it's safer to be in a big city where you can be anonymous, but I always liked being a part of my community when I lived in my town. Plus, most of us come to cities (at least in part) since there's a better chance of finding a partner, or someone to share our lives with. Well, I've sown what passed for my oats, and they bore no fruit. It's just as easy to be unfulfilled in a small town as it is in Chicago. And it's cheaper, too!

I guess I've just noticed that I've now passed to the other side without even noticing I was going there. It happened overnight--this year, in fact. All of a sudden I was 40. Time to grow up. Time to lose your mother. Time for all the fun to be over, and if you try to have any, someone will be there to throw a wet blanket on it for you and remind you that that's not for you. Just like that. Shit, that was fast!

So these are just a few of the things that flit through my mind on this day. Mostly, they're pretty irrational, but I didn't have anything else to write about today (and advice day is tomorrow, so that one won't be ready until tonight). I'm sure these thoughts will pass...it's the time of year when things change, and I'm looking forward to making some changes to my own advantage as I get the opportunity.

The trick is to KNOW when the opportunity arrives.

I wish it wore a sign!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

None Bleat Louder Than The Guilty Sheep

McCain accuses Obama of disgraceful smears against Sarah Palin when he refers to same old GOP policies as "a pig in lipstick" and "old fish wrapped in newspaper."

I notice that Palin's name wasn't even mentioned during these speeches, so just WHO is drawing this comparison, hmmm?

And while we're at it, who was the first person to mention lipstick?

Typical Republican projection tactics. Let's not fall for 'em again.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It Pays Its Governor to Stay Home and Do Nothing, Too...

That must be why Sarah thinks it's so great.

Alaska's Better Than We Are

Friday, September 05, 2008

Since You Asked--September 5, 2008

DEAR ABBY: I was taught that a performance receives a standing ovation when it is truly spectacular. When you are especially moved or inspired, you show your appreciation by standing. Abby, every show I go to now receives a standing ovation. I don't always join in. I feel it should mean something, not just be expected at the end of every show.

I'm tired of getting the "evil eye" from people standing around me because I didn't feel an ovation was warranted. Don't get me wrong, I'm still generous with my applause and take into consideration all the aspects of the show. (For example, I wouldn't expect a play featuring 5-year-olds to be held to the same standard as a Broadway show.)

Am I wrong? Should I stand with everyone else, and am I confused about the meaning of standing ovations? Or should I remain seated?



God, paranoid much?! Why should the people around you care whether or not you stand? They paid to see the show, not you. I think the “evil eye” is in your own mind, my friend. Chill out.

That said, I think different people are moved by different things…sometimes, people are in a frame of mind where they incredibly moved by whatever they see on stage, and don’t have to consult the Book of What Mommy Taught Me Was Truly Spectacular (For Dummies) to determine whether or not they should stand. They just go where it takes them. Feel free to do the same. Or not. And stop bothering me with stupid shit like this. There are people needing advice on important things—like breastfeeding in public.

DEAR AMY: I am a 45-year-old man, own my own business, sit on the boards of several charities, and enjoy sports and travel.

I am also gay, and I have been in a committed relationship for more than seven years.

All of my friends, associates and family know about my personal life, with one glaring exception: my mother.

She is a healthy, vibrant woman who will turn 78 next year. She is a widow, in great health and has plenty of money. We have traveled together, and I spend all my holidays with her, my sister and my sister's family.

I am being terribly unfair to my partner who is being excluded from my family. More important, I am not being honest with my mother. This is the only aspect of my life that is making me truly unhappy.

My sister said the time has come for me to sit down and tell our mother the facts of my life. But I am afraid of letting my mother down. I have rationalized this for years by saying that she would not understand because of her religious upbringing.

My mother is not living in a cave. She has had many interactions with other gay people (including some of my friends) with traces of disapproval.

I cannot imagine why she doesn't ask me to my face why I am not married at my age or have never had a relationship with a woman since college.

Do I sit her down and tell her the truth? Or do I let her go to her grave without my "coming out" and confirming any suspicions she may have?



It’s understandable that you don’t want to upset your mother—we’ve all hedged our bets when it comes to coming out to mom. But when you have a partner, you’re playing with TWO lives, and you don’t get to play the “coy and cagey” card anymore. It’s more than unfair to sweep him under the rug, especially if you’ve been in a “committed” relationship for the better part of a decade. He didn’t sign on for the secrecy, and I doubt he agreed to be kept hidden. How do you explain him? As a “roommate?” Get real.

Besides, I’ve got news for you: Mom knows already. She knows your friends are gay, and if you don’t have a girlfriend and have never been married at 45, I think the writing on the wall is in lipstick by now. Believe me, mothers always know—I can tell you this from experience. That’s probably why she doesn’t ask. But you should still have that talk with her, because you owe it to her. As for her “traces of disapproval” and her “religious upbringing,” that’s really her problem. You’re self-supporting and you don’t rely on her for your bread and butter, so she really doesn’t have anything to hold over you, does she? Inheritance? So what--you own your own business. Love and affection? Believe me, she needs it as much as you do.

Moreover, I disagree with your priorities as you list them in your letter: the fact that you’re not being honest with your mother is NOT more important than the fact that you are being unfair to your partner. If your mother’s feelings really come first on this issue, you ain’t ready to have a partner.

Frankly, I’m not sure why he puts up with being relegated to the “closet of shame” where your family is concerned. He’s a spouse, not a dog who has to be shut in the bedroom when visitors come over. You’d better pull your head out of your ass and ‘fess up to Mommie Dearest pronto. What is she going to do, ground you?!

DEAR ELLIE: We married three months ago and my wife began working at a steel mill; after only two weeks, she began receiving calls and text messages from guys at work. She had a lock on her phone, which neither of us had before.

She says they're "friends," but I don't think it's appropriate for male friends to call her at midnight or later. She also said she was too tired to drive and would sleep on the side of the road, though her job's 10 minutes away.

Once, when she said she was working, I went looking for her asleep, only to find her in the parking lot with a bunch of intoxicated guys. I asked her nicely to unlock her phone or stop talking to those guys after work. She refused both, saying she wasn't "my prisoner."
I'm worried she might end up cheating on me if I let this continue.



“Might END UP cheating on you?” What do you think’s been going on while she cooked up that cockamamie “sleeping on the side of the road” excuse?

Grow a pair and tell Norma Rae you’re going to start picking her up after work so she doesn’t hang out with those knuckle-draggers in the parking lot. With marriage comes new responsibility and she shouldn’t be acting like some teenage tramp outside the Piggly Wiggly. If she refuses to respect your marriage, you should set her free—after all, she’s not “your prisoner,” now is she?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: In the subway I ride to work, the cars are frequently very crowded. Occasionally, I will find myself in a position where the only pole that is available for me to hold onto is being entirely occupied by one person, who is leaning against it.

As I have always understood it, leaning against a pole, rather than grasping it, is a violation of subway etiquette, at least when the car is crowded.

In the past, I have usually just grasped the pole as I could, and hoped that the feeling of my knuckles digging into the person's back would cause him or her to turn around and hold onto the pole with a hand, freeing pole space and me from the necessity of touching a stranger. However, this method often doesn't work.

Is there a polite way to confront these violators? After all, it is another breach of subway etiquette to speak to strangers (unless there is an unusual event, of course). On the occasions when I have tried a gentle request not to lean, I have usually been met with hostility.



The hostility you’re encountering is because nobody likes a goody-goody, Sunshine, and even if your admonishment is “gentle,” it’s still an admonishment. Most of us don’t believe our peers have any business telling us what to do unless they’re nuns or police, even if it’s justified. Crowded trains are difficult proving grounds for etiquette. From now on, try simply asking, “Excuse me, may I hang onto this pole?”

You’d be surprised at the range of positive responses you’ll receive to that one.

If they don’t respond, then feel free to grab the pole and tough shit if your fingers dig in. They had their chance.

DEAR MARGO: I'm in an unusual (or perhaps not) situation. Some years ago, my husband had an online affair that lasted for two years. He set up an e-mail account that I did not know about and used it only to contact her. He told me he never had feelings for this woman and viewed what he was doing as a "game" rather than infidelity. He ended the affair on his own when the woman called him at work. I found out about the affair several months ago, when he began using the e-mail account again for something else entirely and left the account open on the computer. All the e-mails and pictures from six years ago were still there, so I saw everything. I confronted him and we just finished seven months of counseling.

Things seem to be better, and we are continuing to work on our marriage. My question is, those around us who know our situation seem to feel that what happened was not really an affair because there was no physical contact. They tell me I'm "lucky" because that wasn't a "real" affair! Margo, my husband received naked pictures of this tramp, and they described how they would have sex with each other. Believe me, I don't feel "lucky" at all. I think the pain I feel is as difficult to bear as if he had actually met with this woman. This is a man whom I've trusted for 20 years. How do I deal with these people who imply that an Internet affair isn't a big deal and should be easier to forgive?



First, I’d send naked pictures to their husbands. When confronted, I’d explain to them that since there had been no physical contact, it wasn’t really an affair, so they should consider themselves “lucky” and cool their jets.

Then I’d ask them if they’d learned the very important lesson about minding their own goddamned business and not making flippant remarks about infidelity.

But that’s just me.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Live Footage of the Party That "Loves America"

The next time I'm tempted to fall for the GOP's line about how much they and theirs love America and want to put America's needs before partisan politics, I hope somebody remembers to show me this again:

On a side note, I sure wish I had a space heater to put in the food tent with those little pies with the Republican logo chocolate wafers in them--they'd have all ended up looking like chocolate Rush Limbaughs...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Few Tidbits About "The Reform-Minded" Sarah Palin

Before we watch her speech in a few hours and become infatuated with the mystery that is still Sarah Palin, let's take a look at how well she and McCain have agreed over the years.

The Republicans are preparing an ad describing how much more qualified Palin is than Barack Obama, which is glaringly obvious, don't you think? I mean, after all, what are seven years in the Illinois State Senate, followed by four years in the U.S. Senate when you stack them up against ten-year mayorship of Mayberry Wasilla, a town of 9,000.

Whoopsie. Oh well. At least she'll look pretty in the suit.

Even other Republicans aren't crazy about her. President Reagan's biggest apologist, Peggy Noonan, was caught on an open mike after a segment on NBC today stating that she wasn't the best pick. The word "bullshit" was used.

Who could resist such endorsement?

Oh well. At least she'll look pretty in the suit.


UPDATE (8:45PM): Apparently, the woman believes that we're in Iraq because it's a task from God.

Yes. That's right. John McCain's running mate thinks she's one of The Blues Brothers.


UPDATED UPDATE (9:45pm): Mike Huckabee says that media coverage of the GOP has been tackier than a costume change at a Madonna concert. Um...does that mean you've BEEN to a Madonna concert, Mike? Is...there...something you'd like to tell us?

He also said that all the media criticism has unified the GOP. And so it is, Mike. Kind of like they were unified in not voting for you.