Friday, November 30, 2007

Little things that don't deserve their very own post

I finally updated the links on the left. I'd been meaning to do it for a few weeks but forgot how to. I finally figured it out. So if you enjoy what you read here and want to read other blogs that may be similar, feel free to visit those that I read. And if you're a fellow blogger and wish to link to me, please do.

Here's a pet peeve of mine: I hate doors and drawers that are left open about an inch. Spouse does this all the time. He leaves most, if not all, of his dresser drawers open about an inch and it drives me crazy. Just push a teeny-tiny bit harder and you'll close the drawers completely! He also leaves the coat closet door ajar about an inch. To me it just looks sloppy so I push it shut at least 100 times a day.

Since I work at home I usually don't wear shoes during the day. Instead, during cold weather I wear socks and/or socks with slippers. Spouse gave me a great pair of suede slippers with fleece lining for Christmas several years ago and I've been wearing them ever since. I love them! My problem? These favorite slippers have become stinky. Sometimes I'll take the slippers off and smell really offensive foot odor. I remember as a teenager having particularly odoriferous feet, to the point that my mother made me start drinking Acidophilus milk. Apparently some culture, bacteria or something in the Acidophilus milk was supposed to help. As I recall, with puberty I simply grew out of it and haven't had a problem with it since. But what do I do with my favorite slippers? Does sprinkling foot powder inside shoes and slippers work?

In a quandary over what to get for those on your gift list who have everything? Get them an "I Support Gay Rites" T-shirt! Its the perfect gift. What could make this gift even better? Order it online!
And while you're at it, pick one up for yourself to wear proudly... and one for me! Just doing my little part to "make the yuletide gay"!

This evening we're going back to DC. I'm going to sing karaoke at Freddie's tonight, and Sat morning we're going to Kerry & Hugh's house in Manassas to watch the Olde Towne Manassas Christmas parade. The parade passes right in front of their house so the view couldn't be better. They always invite a boatload of people over and have coffee, tea, hot chocolate and enough sugary goodies to put you into a glucose coma. Its great fun and we go to it every year. We'll be back home Sun around noon in order to attend a 'Thank you' luncheon given by our realtor to her clients that have bought or sold during 2007. Hey, who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

Drag Queen name of the day: Leah Tard

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas cards

I'm not sure, maybe its because I didn't start celebrating Christmas until I was 30. Maybe its just part of my personality, and has no bearing on how long I've been celebrating Christmas. Maybe its because I used to write and send postcards from our annual Outer Banks of NC vacation every summer.

I love sending holiday cards. I love the whole process, from picking out boxed cards I think are pretty, to creating my card list, to writing short notes inside each card, to hand-writing the recipient's name and address on the envelope. I just love it!

I've created a bit of a ritual for card writing. I like to put on Christmas music, pour myself a glass of eggnog, arrange my cards on the kitchen table so I can see all the different types, put my card list on my right and my address print-out sheets on my left, sit down and get to it. I pick from my card selection to go with the recipient's personality, favorite color, or some memory of them I've saved. I usually sing a long with my favorite Christmas CDs, which are by The Manhattan Transfer, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Carpenters. It takes several hours so I never finish all the cards in one setting. Two years in a row I had to be out of town two nights in Dec for work, so I took my card writing supplies with me and wrote out a bunch of cards in my hotel room.

I think its important to hand-write the names and addresses on the envelope. To me that says 'I took the time and made the effort for this to be personal for you.' Those computer printed stick-on labels people create from their address books just lack the personal touch, in my opinion. They say 'I like you enough to send you a card, but not enough to physically write your name and address on the envelope'. However, I do use pre-printed return address labels. Nobody cares whether or not I hand-write my own address!

When preparing my card list every year I will invariably add new people we've met and be-friended during the year. So in order not to go bankrupt purchasing cards and stamps, and to prevent needing to start addressing cards in July, each year I also drop a few names off the list. Although I don't like doing this, it is a necessity. If I've sent them cards for the last 3 years and have not received a card, call, email, or smoke signal in return, then I have to edit them off the list in order to make room for the new folks.

Now, I understand that not everyone enjoys Christmas card writing like I do, so I don't remove people from the list simply for not sending me a card. I just expect some kind of acknowledgement. "Hey, got the holiday card. Thanks!" in an email is fine. "Oh, by the way, thanks for that beautiful Christmas card. It arrived yesterday." at the close of a phone call is fine too. Its not that I want to be recognized for sending them. Its just the only way I can think of to edit the card list, since I add new people every year.

I know that some begin their cards on the Thanksgiving weekend. I started that early one year, but held onto the cards until sometime in Dec to mail them. I've not started my cards yet this year, but I have created my list and counted my cards. I've only got 85 left over from last year so I will need to buy about 50 more. I told you I love it!

Drag Queen name of the day: Ida Slapter

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This I believe

A friend sent me this link to this short article, which also aired on NPR recently. My friend sent it to me because the author acknowledges having been raised in the Jehovah's Witness religion as well as being gay, and my friend knows that I was also raised in that religion and am gay.

Upon finishing the article I felt a sense of kinship with the author, not so much because of our obvious similarities, but because I agree 100% with his summation that our capacity to tolerate difference is what will ultimately bring us true liberty. Tolerating doesn't have to mean accepting, although in the best cases that is the end result. Enjoy the article.

Learning True Tolerance
by Joel Engardio

I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. If I ever knocked on your door when you were mowing the lawn or taking a nap, please excuse me. I understand: A kid with a Watchtower magazine on your front porch isn't a Girl Scout with cookies, but, hey, you didn't have to sic your dog on me.

I believe how we treat the people we dislike the most and understand the least — Jehovah's Witnesses, for example — says a lot about the freedoms we value in America: religion, speech and personal liberty. And all of these freedoms rely on one thing: tolerance.

I learned this as a kid when I went door-knocking with my mom. We were preaching that Jehovah's kingdom was coming soon to solve the world's problems. I prayed no one from school was behind those doors. Dogs I could run from. It was hard enough being singled out as the kid who didn't celebrate Christmas or didn't say the Pledge of Allegiance. There was little tolerance for my explanation that we only worshipped God, and that God wasn't American. There was no tolerance when I told my third-grade class that Santa Claus was pagan and a lie.

Still, I didn't have a bad childhood. Our Saturday morning ministry meant sacrificing my Saturday morning cartoons, but our 10 o'clock coffee break was a blessing. That's when we would gather at Dunkin' Donuts, trying not to get powdered sugar on our suits and dresses, while we told stories and laughed. We always knew when you were "home but hiding."

As a teenager, I decided fitting in at school and in life was worth sacrificing some principles. So I never became a Jehovah's Witness. That was the first time I broke my mom's heart. The second time was when I told her I am gay.

Obviously, I don't agree with my mom's belief that same-sex relationships are wrong. But I tolerate her religion because she has a right to her beliefs. And I like it that my mom doesn't politicize her beliefs. She has never voted for a law that discriminates against gay people, or anyone who isn't a Jehovah's Witness. Her Bible tells her to love, above all.

My belief in tolerance led to a documentary film I made about Jehovah's Witnesses, and my mom actually likes it. The message is about being open to letting people have views we don't like, so in that sense, it could also be about Muslims, gay people or NASCAR race fans. The point is the people we don't understand become less scary when we get to know them as real people. We don't have to be each other's cup of tea, but tolerance lets a variety of kettles peacefully share the stove.

I believe our capacity to tolerate both religious and personal difference is what will ultimately give us true liberty — even if it means putting up with an occasional knock on the door.

Drag Queen name of the day: Ann Thrax

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tornado Tuesday

Okay, so it wasn't a bonafied tornado, but it did almost as much damage to my exterior holiday decorations! After spending about 5 hours this past weekend decorating the outside of the house for Christmas, a cold front blew in last night. Today we had hour after hour of unbelievable gale force winds that destroyed all my hard work.

As I looked out my office window I could see the wind howling and the trees bending mercilessly. I could also see the pine garlands dashing back and forth, hanging on for dear life.

By dinner time things seemed to calm down, and as I walked back to toward the house from getting the mail, I saw the garlands had been blown off of 9 of the 12 windows. They're strewn throughout the yard and wrap around porch. Also, 2/3 of the lights lining the porch roof were blown off and lay on the ground.

Damn. Sh*t. F*ck! All that work to put them up, now down the drain. Wasted time. There are few things that affect me like knowing I've wasted my time. I hate that!

Spouse asked me if I was going to pull down the rest of the lights and garlands or if I was going to put it all back up. "I don't know yet" I lied. I knew I was going to put it all back up again but I didn't want him to know proud I was of the 'finished product'. "I'm too mad right now to decide."
Guess I'd better take a look at the weather forecast to see if we have anymore tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, or tsunamis on the horizon.

Drag Queen name of the day: Carmen Dioxide

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good for NH!

New Hampshire Prepares For Civil Unions
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: November 25, 2007 - 4:00 pm ET

(Concord, New Hampshire) Same-sex couples in New Hampshire will be able to apply for civil union licenses in about a week the state agency that oversees marriage licenses has announced.

Civil Unions will be come legal in the state January. The Secretary of State's office said that if couples want to have a civil union on New Year's Day they will be able to do so.

A new license has been created for civil unions and will be available at local clerk's offices in towns and cities across the state.

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said that the state is still fine tuning the software that will allow town clerks to access the state's computer system.

But Scanlan said the system will be fully operational by the first week of December.

New Hampshire is the fourth state to grant civil unions after New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont. Neighboring Massachusetts in 2004 became the only state to allow gay marriage.
The law was passed earlier this year and signed into law in May by Gov. John Lynch.

Couples entering civil unions will have the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as married couples. Same-sex unions from other states also would be recognized if they were legal in the state where they were performed.

At Senate hearings into the bill the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, said that the state should embrace couples seeking civil unions because they value monogamy and commitment.

''Would that we could get all heterosexual couples to take these commitments and responsibilities so seriously,'' he said.

Robinson who is at the center of an Anglican feud over the role of gays in the denomination told senators that he deserves equality for himself and his partner of nearly 20 years.

A bill that would allow same-sex marriage is currently before the New York State legislature but Senate Republicans have vowed to defeat the measure.

In California the state Supreme Court is to hear arguments in a gay marriage case early next year.

© 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holiday decorating

As soon as I returned from the stores Sat afternoon we got to work on the exterior decorating.

I bought 15 foot variegated pine garlands to drape/swag across the windows and deep red velvet bows to anchor the corners. With a step ladder and Spouse as my tools, I attached the bows to the garland and hung the garland from the crown molding above the windows. Since our house sits on a corner we decided to decorate both the front and the side of the house, both of which face the street. We decorated the 6 windows on the 1st floor of the house.

Next we opened the box of lights and stretched them out before winding them around the columns that frame the porch entrance to the front and side doors, as well as lining the entire length of the wrap around porch railing. I connected the end of the light string to an extension cord and plugged it into the exterior electric socket to make sure everything was lit. Success!

On Sun we did some house cleaning, then borrowed our neighbor's ladder to I could get onto the porch roof. I am not afraid of heights, but I am very uncomfortable about being near the edge of high places. I can look out the window of the 3rd floor with no ill feelings, but scooting myself along the edge of the 1st floor porch roof made my heart race.

I leaned over to attach plastic clips to the edge of the shingles, then clipped the light strings into the plastic clips. I repeated this every 3-4 feet along the length of the front and side of the wrap around porch roof; 100 feet in total. It was not difficult work, but it was difficult because of my discomfort being near the edge of the roof. I connected the end of the light string to the same extension cord, and added a timer so the lights would turn themselves on and off.

When the porch roof lights were finished I brought the rest of the pine garlands and velvet bows onto the porch roof and decorated the 6 windows on the 2nd story of the house. Adding together the time spent on Sat & Sun I estimate it took about 5 hours to complete this.

It was almost dark and I was tired so I decided to call it a day. I have yet to fish the wreaths out of the attic and hang them on the front and side doors, and attach the removable hook to the house (inside the porch) for the largest wreath. That will complete the exterior decoration of the 1st and 2nd stories. I'll take and post photos soon.

I'm toying with the idea of placing electric candles in the 2 dormer windows of the 3rd story. I think they look really charming and would definitely match the Victorian style of our house, but I'm a little hesitant because those candles seem to be so 'overdone' here in DE. It is very common to see electric candles in the windows of homes all year round here. 'Candles in the windows aren't just for Christmas anymore' seems to be the motto of my fellow Delawareans. So I will probably leave them out.

I hate to decorate in ways that are too common. Remember when everyone and their brother decided to paint their dining room deep red or burgundy? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. I tend to shy away from expected things like that.

Spouse suggested that perhaps we might pull out the artificial Christmas tree this week and start putting it together a few evenings after dinner. That way when we return from VA on Sun afternoon the tree will be set up and we can put the lights on and decorate it. Decorating our tree is quite a project, as we usually have well over 200 ornaments to hang, but I really enjoy it. I like to put on Christmas music and sing along as we open box after box of ornaments and distribute them as equally as possible around the tree. As cliche as it might sound, to me there is something magical about a lit Christmas tree.

This is our 1st Christmas in this house and I believe its going to be a beautiful one.

Drag Queen name of the day: Barb Dwyer

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Peace and quiet return

Fri morning the whole gang had breakfast at the Blue Plate Diner, then we said goodbye to Louis, Karen, and Evelyn. Now, what to do with the remaining 5 family members?

I went to the salon and got a haircut while Mary, Eric, and the 3 teens wanted to go shopping at the outlets malls. As you'd imagine, they were packed. 'Black Friday' they call it; the day when most of the world goes shopping. Fortunately our group tired of the crowds quickly so when I finished at the salon and called Spouse I met up with him and them in Rehoboth. We had pizza at Grottos, walked along the boardwalk, then returned home.

Spouse & I took Jordan for a walk and the kids watched TV and played their Wii. We warmed up the Thanksgiving left-overs for dinner and enjoyed it all over again.

Spouse played Monopoly with Eric and the kids. The boys got so worked up they were literally screaming! I don't understand this. Why don't parents recognize constant screaming as unacceptable behavior and request their children stop it? I retreated to the 3rd floor to watch HGTV and could still hear them 2 levels up. Later we all watched the family favorite 'Jaws' and the kids giggled over the 1970s clothing and hairstyles, as they do every year.

This morning after breakfast the 5 of them packed up their stuff and headed back to VA. It was so nice to welcome peace and quiet back to our house! I can hear myself think again. I just stripped the beds and collected all the towels. The 1st load of sheets is churning in the washer. There will be many more loads to follow.

After watching those HGTV holiday decorating specials last night I'm really in the mood to begin decorating the house for Christmas. For a few weeks I've been mentally sketching my holiday plan for the outside of our house. Being a Victorian it really lends itself well to Christmas decorating. I printed a digital photo of our house and then drew on it with red and green felt tip markers to simulate the decorations that existed only in my head until that time. Of course, Spouse's initial reaction was that it seemed "too busy", which really means he thinks it looks like too much work, so he tried to get me to scale it back. Rather than compromise my 'vision' or get into an argument over it, I simply agreed that if, while putting it together, it seemed like "too busy" (aka: too much work), we'd scale it back. This makes it look as if I am willing to compromise, when in reality I know it will not be 'too much' so it will all get done.

So, as soon as the sheets are ready to go into the dryer and I fill the washer again with more, I'm off to the Dollar Store and Wal-Mart to pick up the tools for my holiday extravaganza. I'll post photos when its done.

Drag Queen name of the day: Anita Cocktail

Friday, November 23, 2007

The feast

After a breakfast of bagels, cereal, and coffee we sent the kids and their dad to the park so Spouse & I could get started cooking. We pulled the turkey out of the fridge and allowed it to come up to room temperature before transferring it to the roaster oven to warm up. Then we began with the side dishes.

The dressing was the 1st, and my favorite Thanksgiving food. Spouse recalls this differently, but I distinctly remember giving him my special dressing recipe while shopping for our very 1st Thanksgiving together. The dressing includes bread cubes, celery, onion, butter, chicken broth, granny smith apples, golden raisins, pecans, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spouse believes HE thought up this delectable combination but I know better.

At 11:30 Spouse's brother Louis arrived with his wife Karen and Spouse's mom Evelyn. After getting them settled in Spouse & I returned to the kitchen. Once all the dishes were prepared (but not baked) I set the tables and collected the appropriate number of chairs. Then we sat for a while in the living room and visited with the family. The boys and Louis played Wii upstairs.

At about 2:00 we put all the side dishes into the oven to bake, and at 2:45 we added the cooked dishes that needed to be warmed up. Then everything was removed from the oven and placed on warming trays on the kitchen peninsula while the turkey was carved and the biscuits baked. At 3:15 we had a blessing and served up our plates! We had turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, corn, peas, Paula Deen's corn casserole, homemade gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, butternut squash casserole, biscuits, orange pineapple jello, pumpkin pies, brownies, and a pineapple upside down cake. Everything was delicious!

After dinner most of us adults sat and talked in the living room, while the 2 boys, their dad and Louis watched football in the TV room. We'd planned to have a fire in the fireplace after dinner, but it was so warm we decided against it. I actually had shorts on since it was 80 degrees on Thanksgiving day! Then Karen helped me package and put away all the left-overs, I loaded and ran the dishwasher, washed the pots and pans and fragile pieces while Karen dried, and put the clean things away. This was the 1st year I'd had help doing this and it was terrific! Just before going to bed I emptied the dishwaher, loaded it again and ran it while we slept.

At 6:00 we said goodbye to Frank & Liz. I removed the sheets from Liz's bed and tossed them in the washing machine, since that bed would be re-used that night by Evelyn and Frank's bed would be re-used by Louis & Karen. At 10:30 some folks went to bed while the rest of watched TV until midnight.

It was a very nice day and I had no trouble falling asleep that night.

Drag Queen name of the day: Donna Newfrock

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A difficult night

Spouse decided to cook the turkey on Wed night, keep it in the fridge overnight, then warm it up in our roaster oven on Thanksgiving day in order to keep the oven available for baking the side dishes and biscuits, so I helped him prepare the 22.5 lb. turkey and we had it in the oven at 8:00.
Wed night Spouse's oldest brother Frank and his friend Liz arrived around 8:30. After seeing the house for the 1st time, they walked a few blocks to have a bite to eat and a few drinks. Frank is a functioning alcoholic so after having been at work all day and then driving here, I'm sure he was "ready" to get his buzz on.

Liz is quite a piece of work. Frank and Liz dated about 20 years ago. She wanted to marry Frank so badly that she bought her own diamond engagement ring and showed it to everyone (including the family) and told them she & Frank were engaged! This was news to Frank. Sometime later they stopped dating and Frank moved on to other women. Despite this, Liz still feels like she's Frank's wife so she invites herself to our family holiday celebrations. One year she showed up on Christmas eve without Frank and then asked if she could take a shower before joining the rest of the family, since it had "been a few days" since she'd bathed. Now that's class.

When Frank & Liz returned from dinner and drinking we sat in the TV room and talked for a while. Frank decided that whiskey before dinner, red wine with dinner, and a beer after dinner just wasn't enough so he fixed himself a martini while we talked. Both Frank & Liz consider themselves more intelligent than most people, despite the fact that both are over 50 years old and neither of them owns a home. Frank doesn't even have a checking account. He pays his rent in cash. Frank reads a lot, which is likely what makes him feel more intelligent, and Liz was once an attorney. Unfortunately she stopped working for more than 10 years and squandered her inheritance on cars, jewelry, a fur coat, and multiple trips to the farthest corners of the world. I'm guessing that's what makes her feel more intelligent. But since the state finally seized the waterfront home she inherited and now she rents a room in the basement of a house in a crappy neighborhood, you can imagine the stimulating conversations we had while waiting for the other family members to arrive.

At 11:45 Spouse's sister Mary arrived with her husband Eric and their 3 kids, ages 15, 12, and 10. The 2 youngest are boys, and like many others that age, they are very loud. So from the time they got here until the time we all went to bed at 1:30 am it sounded like a 3-ring circus was going on. Do parents just get used to this kind of noise? I can't imagine any other explanation.

Meanwhile Frank continued to fix himself martinis, only he decided to leave out the vermouth and olives, preferring to sip straight vodka from his martini glass. I wasn't paying attention to how many he had, but when it was time to hit the sack he didn't bother to put sheets on the bed or even undress. He just passed out on the bed, fully clothed.

About an hour later (I was still awake, unfortunately) we heard a significant thud that awakened Liz who was sleeping in the room next to Frank. She got up to check on Frank and found him on the floor. He'd fallen out of the bed, so she helped him back in. This happened again later.

I had a terrible time getting to sleep Wed night. My mind just wouldn't stop. I wasn't worried or nervous about anything, so even my inability to get to sleep became fodder for my racing brain. Spouse kept snoring, mostly due to his cold, so I tossed and turned. At 3:10 am I woke Spouse and told him he had to try harder not to snore, as he was keeping me awake. His snoring improved but it did not help me sleep. At 4:15 am I went to the bathroom and took a generic form of Tylenol PM, hoping it would help me get some sleep. Shortly after returning to bed Spouse asked me why I wasn't sleeping, for which I had no answer.

Then around 4:30 am Spouse snuggled up to me, and his hands slowly caressed me. 'Is he serious?' I thought to myself? Not that I was opposed to his advances; just surprised by the timing. Maybe somehow he knew what I needed, for not long after we finished I was finally asleep. Then again, it could have been the Tylenol PM.
We were awakened Thurs morning by the stirrings of family members at 8:30 so we got up. I figure I probably had about 3 or 3.5 hours of sleep.

Drag Queen name of the day: Penny Tration

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving eve thoughts

Okay, this is whack! Today is Nov 21st, the day before Thanksgiving, and its 70 degrees outside. Its cooler inside my house than it is outside. Literally I could open all the windows to warm up the house. My neighbor is outside wearing shorts and sweeping leaves from his sidewalk. Another neighbor is walking her dog and not wearing a coat or jacket.

Spouse's brother Frank called last night to say that he & Liz want to come this evening, stay overnight and spend Thanksgiving with the family, and leave Thurs evening. (He has to work on Fri.) Thanks for all the advance warning, Bro! And then there's Liz. Liz the leach. Liz is not Frank's wife or girlfriend. Frank doesn't even like Liz. But several decades ago Frank dated Liz and she took a real shine to the family, ingratiating herself upon us at every holiday. Liz has family of her own, whom she's alienated beyond repair. So Liz thinks of herself as Frank's wife, even though he openly tells her he dates other women, which entitles her to all family holiday celebrations. One year Liz showed up on Christmas eve, independent of Frank, and asked if she could take a shower before joining the rest of the family. Niiiiiice. So Frank and Liz are coming this evening, which means that when they leave on Thurs evening I will have to remove the sheets and towels from the guest rooms and bath and replace them with clean ones for the actual family members who bothered to give us advance notice that they'd like to stay over Thurs night. When everyone leaves I will have 9 sets of sheets and 12 sets of towels to wash. Ah, the holidays with family (and Liz)!

Spouse has decided he's going to cook the turkey tonight so that the oven will be available tomorrow for all the other foods he and sister Mary are baking. I think its a great idea. When the turkey's done he'll let it cool down to room temperature, cover it and put it in the fridge overnight. Then tomorrow he'll pull it out, let it come up to room temperature again, and then stick it back in the oven for a while to get hot, after the other baked items are done. In the words of Alec Mappa, "Marry well people, marry well."

I suppose I should, on this Thanksgiving eve, share with you gentle readers a few things for which I am thankful. Not in any particular order:
  • My partner and his family to spend the holidays (and the other days in life) with
  • My job, which at times is tedious and uninteresting, but mostly is just fine, allows me to work from home, and pays the bills
  • Good neighbors whom I genuinely like
  • Good friends that make the bad times tolerable and the good times better
  • Living near the beach; a dream for many, a reality for me
  • Netflix, which has saved me from countless hours of reruns and dreadful programming
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Whether you spend it with family, with friends, with yourself, or with your computer, trolling the internet looking for a holiday hook-up, I hope it is exactly what you want it to be. Thanksgiving that is, not the hook-up. Well, okay, Thanksgiving AND the hook-up.

Drag Queen name of the day: Shanda Leer

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Memory of a Christmas past

The other day I read a blogger's story of peeing at a public urinal and discovering that his scarf had gotten in the way, causing a splashing affect that wet the front of his pants. This reminded me of a tender Christmas story I feel compelled to share with you readers, so here goes.

It was Dec 1993 and I had just come out that summer, met the man of my dreams (or so I'd thought), and was looking forward to our 1st Christmas together. My man (we'll call him Bob) had introduced me to a some of his friends over that summer and now we were going to a Christmas party at Gerry & Mike's house.

Bob, Gerry & Mike were all several years older than me, had solid educations and established careers, and made lots more money than me. They were always gracious so I had no real reason to feel nervous or intimidated around them, but I did. Still I wanted to go with Bob to Gerry & Mike's party so we did.

They had a large, lovely, ornament-laden tree in the living room that would put most department stores to shame. The food was catered by Dean & DeLuca's, a fancy and expensive DC gourmet food store, and there was a full bar with a bartender. Yes, a bartender. In 1993. Now, I know its been all the rage in recent years to have a hired bartender at Christmas parties hosted by gay couples, but this was 1993! I felt intimidated already.

So everything is going nicely, Bob & I are chatting with people we've met before, etc when I realize that I need to use the bathroom. Unfortunately it wasn't just #1. I try to avoid going #2 at other people's houses, especially people's houses who intimidate me, but this just wasn't to be ignored, so I excused myself under the guise of getting another drink and found my way to the bathroom.

Once inside I lowered my pants and underwear, sat, and began doing my business. I noticed that these fancy men even had small, tasteful Christmas decorations in their bathroom! Next thing I knew, I felt something warm and wet against my ankle. I looked down and saw that the back of my khaki pants was all wet, and the wetness from the fabric had spread over to my ankle. What the fuck??? Is the toilet leaking?

No, unfortunately, the toilet was not leaking. That explanation would have been preferable to the truth, which I had to tell Bob in order to gain his assistance when I finally returned to the party.

No, the truth was far more humiliating. As I was relieving myself my penis was not pointing down into the toilet enough, so my pee was coming out in that space under the toilet seat but above the toilet rim. It had run down the base of the toilet and soaked into the back of my khaki pants, turning them about 14 shades darker.

Oh. My. God. What the hell am I gonna do? I'm here in these fancy people's bathroom, peeing all over my pants. After the realization of what had actually happened came the truly horrifying questions. How am I going to be able to leave this bathroom? How can I return to the party with the back of my pants all wet? What will all these fancy people think of me? Will this be the thing that finally reveals to Bob, once and for all, that I am not in the same league?

After several minutes of concentrated thought I cleaned myself, the base of the toilet, and then patted my wet pants with tissue to absorb as much moisture as possible. Understanding I couldn't leave the bathroom without wearing my pants, I pulled them up, tucked in my shirt and fastened my belt. Then I looked into the mirror and tried to make an honest assessment of the damage.

"Hmmm... From the front there's no indication of anything unusual." I thought to myself. Then I turned around and looked over my shoulder into the mirror at the back of my pants. Not so lucky there. My mind continued racing as I considered my options, of which there was really only one. I had to walk out of that bathroom.

I turned back around to face the mirror and repeated my 1st assessment: "From the front there's no indication of anything unusual." That was the answer! Only let people see me from the front!

To bolster my confidence I began justifying my decision. "These khakis are 100% cotton. They'll dry in no time. And until they do, I'll just stand against the wall." Really, it was the only thing I could come up with.

You might be thinking 'Why didn't he pull out his cell phone, call Bob, and tell him to grab both their coats and meet him at the car?' Yeah, I'd have probably thought of that too, only it was 1993 and no one had a portable cell phone back then. The closest thing was a 'car phone' that had to be plugged into a cigarette lighter of a car with its engine running in order to work.

I took a deep breath, walked out of the bathroom, and smiled politely at the person standing in the hallway waiting to use the bathroom.

I returned to the party, found Bob, and quickly motioned him to 'come over here' as I stood against the wall and tried to look 'casual'. When he came over I quickly explained what had happened and Bob tried to stifle his laughter. I gave him a look that told him it wasn't even close to being funny so shut the fuck up.

Then he 'wanted to see', and I figured he might be more willing to help me conceal my horrible mishap if I let him, so I stepped away from the wall slightly and did a quarter turn so my back was toward him for a second, then returned to having my back against the wall.

Needless to say, this incident did not help me feel less nervous or intimidated by our hosts. But my khakis did dry eventually and I was able to move about the party rather than try to look 'casual' by standing against the wall.

Ah yes. Good times.

Drag Queen name of the day: Ivana B. Popular

Monday, November 19, 2007


Is it just me, or is anyone else absolutely sick of the media's coverage of presidential race already, still a year away from the election?

Every single night you turn on any of the "news" (and I use that term loosely) channels like CNN or MSNBC you see a program with a panel of people talking about the candidates. Every night! And this has already been going on for 6 months. The election is a full year away. Do we not have time between now and a year from now for all this blathering?

What really gets to me is that none of these panel speakers on these shows has anything new or definitive to say. They blather on about 'Hillary is the front runner' and 'can Obama ever catch up' but none of them have the ability to answer the questions.

Speaking of which, even the candidates aren't answering the questions right now. They know its too soon to tell the public where they stand on the important issues because it leaves too much time for them to possibly contradict themselves between now and a year from now when the election happens. They don't want to 'put their cards on the table' just yet, for fear of alienating some fraction of voters.

I am already sick of it. Spouse seems to be able to endure the nightly blathering but I am no longer willing to do so. I'm going to have to ask him to turn the channel or I will watch TV elsewhere. Its sad to think that politics could come between us!

Work out update: week 11
I had another combo work out (upper and lower body) this week, but Rick had me do several new exercises I'd not done before. I like this because it delivers a better balanced work out and it keeps me from getting bored. However, he upped the weight on some of the regular exercises, causing me to grunt and struggle more than usual. He called it a "good" work out. I was dead tired when I got home.

Drag Queen name of the day: Kay Mart

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Last evening we went to a glass blowing demonstration. It was really fun! There were 2 glass artists working on pieces simultaneously, and as they demonstrated each technique they would explain what they were doing and why it needed to be done that way. It was very educational and entertaining.

We met Rick & Nick there, and they introduced us to 2 other couples they'd invited: Dean & Randy and Craig & Mike. After the demonstration ended the 8 of us decided to have dinner at the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth.

After giving the waiter our orders, I asked Craig & Mike where they'd move from and they responded Woodbridge, VA. "Wow, I grew up in Woodbridge" I replied, genuinely surprised. (Coincidence #1.) Woodbridge isn't a major or well-known city like Charlottesville or Richmond. But after learning that they had moved there in 2000 I told them I had moved away from Woodbridge by that time.

Craig said that Mike was raised in DE but that he had grown up in Philadelphia. "Joe's extended family all lives in Philly" I told them. "He spent a lot of time there as a kid." (Coincidence #2.) Then Mike & Joe continued comparing neighborhood and street names where they'd spent time.

A little later the conversation shifted to work. Craig said he works from home. (Coincidence #3.) I asked Craig what he & Mike did and Craig replied that he did marketing for an insurance company. Mike said he is a stay-at-home dad to the son he & Craig adopted 6 years ago.

As we talked more about work Craig mentioned how exciting it was to have started a new insurance company back in 2001 that was such a success the company was purchased by a larger insurance company. (Coincidence #4.) "Yeah, I know the feeling" I said. "I started working for a small web conferencing company in 2001 - I was employee #5 - that also became successful to the point of being acquired by a larger company."

"What was the name of the company?" Craig asked me. "Communicast" I replied. "Oh yeah, I remember Communicast. My company used them." (Coincidence #5.)

"Really? What was the name of the company?" I asked. "Lumenos" Craig replied. "Oh my god! That is so wild!" I exclaimed. "Lumenos was my first client after joining Communicast!" (Coincidence #6.) "Yes, I remember it well. Lumenos was doing a new benefits roll-out for Intel."

"Yep, that's right. Intel was my first client after helping to start Lumenos." Craig confirmed.

"If Intel was your client, then that means we probably worked together. What is your last name?" I asked.

Craig gave me his last name and I immediately remembered it. His last name sounds common but has a very uncommon spelling, which I remembered, so I spelled it back to him.

"That's right." he confirmed. "You know, Mike worked there too back in those days." Craig told me Mike's last name, but it didn't ring a bell. Throughout the rest of the dinner I suddenly remembered the names of other people at Lumenos with whom I'd worked and would look at Craig and say the names. He remembered them all.

When we got home I immediately went to the computer and logged into my company's contact database and looked up Lumenos. Sure enough, there was Craig & Mike's names, email addresses, and phone numbers.

Out of all the places Craig, Mike, and I could have moved to, I thought it quite a coincidence that we ended up in the same small, summer resort area of Lewes, AND that we would be introduced by a mutual friend!

Drag Queen name of the day: Rhea Listick

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving update

Today Spouse was feeling better so we decided to begin our preparations for Thanksgiving.

First we talked about the food were are cooking, and what the family is bringing. Then we surveyed our tables and chairs and figured out a workable plan for seating 19 people for dinner. Then we decided to (finally) put up the mirror and pictures in our dining room. For some reason Spouse had been reluctant to do so until now, saying he wasn't sure he wanted to re-use all the same pictures and stuff from the dining room of our previous house. But after a conversation with me that included such thought-provoking questions as "If we don't hang these items in the dining room, what are we going to do with them, stick them in a closet? They don't go with the decor of any other rooms. I still like these things. Why don't you want to hang them up in there?" he agreed to helping me put up the mirror and pictures. We did mix them up a bit so they're not hanging in the same configuration as they did in our previous house. When finished we both agreed that they looked great.

Next we moved on to putting things away and organizing. Spouse has a habit of pulling things out of closets and cupboards, using them, and not putting them back. I have the habit of letting mail collect next to the front door. So we went through the house and put stuff away and organized it for quick retrieval the next time we need it.

Then we went to the bedroom where I helped Spouse fold, hang, and put away his laundry. Since I work at home and the laundry room is just down the hall from my office, I often do his and my laundry while I'm working. He never needs to wash his laundry, but he does need to put it away. He's had 3 baskets of laundry sitting in the bedroom for god-only-knows how long. Fortunately he took advantage of my generous offer to help him put it away.

The only thing left to do was actually clean the house, but we decided to do that tomorrow. We have plans to be out this evening and want to shower and rest a little before we go.

Spouse's brother Paul just called and said he and his wife and 5 kids aren't coming for Thanksgiving! He gave some weak, illogical excuses that don't make any sense. I think they just decided to stay home and have his wife's relatives over for Thanksgiving, but for some reason he didn't want to tell us that. Whatever. That's the trouble with having a brother who is a pathological liar. He'll lie for no reason; when there is absolutely nothing to be gained or hidden by doing so. We learned many years ago to never count on anything he says, so we really aren't surprised that they aren't coming. So instead of 19 we'll be 12 on Turkey Day.

Drag Queen name of the day: Luce Change

Friday, November 16, 2007


Spouse has been sick all week. He started having symptoms of a common cold last Fri night, and stayed in the house all weekend long, sleeping and watching TV.

He went to work Mon, Tues, and 1/2 of Wed, but came home at about 1:30 on Wed and went straight to bed. He stayed home from work Thurs & Fri.

He's taking over-the-counter meds which are doing pretty well at relieving his symptoms. I hope I don't catch it!

Drag Queen name of the day: Candy Wrapper

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What was I thinking?

Spouse & I moved in together, into a house where neither of us had lived before, the week of Halloween, 1996. Just 1 month later we hosted our 1st Thanksgiving.

Spouse's parents came, his brother and sister-in-law, his sister and brother-in-law and their 2 kids, and even our 2 lesbian 'housemates' stayed for dinner. Spouse made the turkey, stuffing, biscuits, and veggies, while his sister brought green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, and his sister-in-law brought pumpkin pies. It was warm and lovely.

The following month his sister decided to host Christmas at her house, and his brother decided to host Easter. From that point on there never seemed to be any discussion about who or where the holidays would be hosted. We'd all staken our claim to our holiday, and so it has been for the last 12 years.

The only major difference is that in Jan 07 Spouse & I moved 130 miles away. Its not a bad drive, and can be made in about 2 1/2 hours. When we discussed the holidays in light of our move, I spoke to the family with confidence and told them we had no intention of giving up hosting 'our holiday', and that they should all plan now to come to the beach for Thanksgiving. After all, we live in a house with 5 bedrooms, 4 1/2 bathrooms, a large living room, dining room, eat-in kitchen, and a TV room. "There's room enough for everyone" I said with wide open arms, feeling like Mr Roark welcoming guests to Fantasy Island.

What was I thinking? Now we're going to have 19 people for a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner, and 13 of them are staying overnight.

Part of the beauty of living in the DC area with all of the family was that on Thanksgiving they all came, visited, ate, visited some more, and then went home. Eventually the house was quiet again and we could load the dishwasher and wash pots and pans in our flannel pajamas and fart and belch at will. Now we're going to have 13 people hanging around, wanting to be fed more than just Thanksgiving diner, using up all our clean sheets and towel, making noise, and preventing us from randomly relieving our turkey-bloated intestines.

"Its going to be great" Spouse tells me. "Don't worry, you know my family's not fancy." (What exactly is that supposed to mean?) "It'll be fun" he tried to reassure me when I finally voiced my 2nd thoughts.

I'm sure he's right. It will be wonderful, and I should be even more grateful than most, since these people accepted me into their family over a decade ago with no conditions. I sure can't say that about the family into which I was born.

So if you don't hear from me for a few days following Thanksgiving, you'll know its because I'm washing mountains of sheets and towels and table cloths.

Moral of the blog: Be careful what you wish for.

Drag Queen name of the day: Bessie Mae Mucho

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Work out update: weeks 9 & 10

Looks like I forgot to give a work out update last week. I guess that's because I was so excited about the film festival.

I can't recall anything special or unusual about last week's work out. I do remember that it was a combo work out, meaning we did both lower and upper body.

This week's work out was really great! Rick complimented me on showing 'real definition' in my triceps. He said it was somewhat unusual for a person like me who'd never worked out before and has only been working out for 2 months. After asking him to kindly show me where my triceps were, I thanked him for the compliment and suggested that my biceps needed to catch up. (Yes, I do know what a bicep is. After all, I am gay! What gay man doesn't know what a bicep is?)

So then Rick had me do 2 different exercises to work on my biceps. I was actually a little sore the next day, which surprised me. I've gotten to the point where I'm not usually sore the next day like I used to be.

Then I did some leg work, and ended with the floor exercises. After the dreaded 'legs straight up in the air and reach for the ceiling', Rick told me to 'elbows and knees'.

Usually he tells me to do a specific number of 'elbows and knees', like 40 or 60. I do them, rest for a bit, and then he asks for another set. This week he didn't specify how many, so I just started doing them and he counted them out loud. I did 100 and decided to stop and rest.

He complimented me and asked if I'd been practicing them at home. I told him no, but that I found 'elbows and knees' to be a lot easier than 'legs straight up in the air and reach for the ceiling'. He said its because my hamstrings are too tight, which makes sense.

After the short conversation break he told me to do another set and to keep going until I needed to stop. I pumped out a 2nd set of 100 and Rick seemed genuinely surprised. I was a little surprised myself, but more proud.

Drag Queen name of the day: Bea Reasonable

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Middle of the night

Man, I love 'middle of the night' sex, don't you?

Its 11:00 as you crawl into bed, turn off the light, and bid each other good night with a kiss. You both have to get up for work the next morning so in practically no time you're both drifting off to slumberland.

Then, in the middle of the night you awaken, at least partially. Maybe it was because of a dream you just had but can't remember; maybe not. But you feel a certain carnal stirring. You glance over at the window: still pitch black outside. What time is it? You can't see the clock because its on his side of the bed.

So you roll over to face the inside of the bed and notice in the dimness that he's facing the outside of the bed. Perfect. You slide up behind him in a delicate spoon action and wrap your arm around him gently and allow it to rest on his chest.

Though not really awake, he responds by gently snuggling up against you. Is this his silent way of telling you he wouldn't mind being awakened? You try a little test to know for sure. You slowly and gently slide your hand on his chest a few times. Slowly. Gently. If he reaches up and stops your hand you'll know he just wants to continue sleeping.

But he doesn't. He lightly strokes your arm as it gently glides along his chest. Green light.

You lean in closer and begin gently kissing his neck, ear, and shoulder. You feel his backside begin to press against your hips, and both yours and his breathing starts to become audible.

Your hands are exploring each other's bodies as he turns from lying on his side to lying on his back. You can feel your heart racing inside your chest as if you were running a marathon. You can feel his heart pounding too as he pushes you onto your back and kisses your chest. Then your neck. Then your lips. What time is it? Who cares.

About 15 minutes later you're finished; both of you lying on your backs, your arm somehow tangled under his waist, as you allow your panting breaths to subside. He lifts his hips slightly as you try to pull your arm out from under. More silence.

Finally, in a whispered tone he asks if you're going to get a towel or should he. You think 'How sweet' that he asked. You say you will, and you kiss him softly on the lips as you hand it to him. Now you can see the clock. 4:13 am. That leaves almost 2 hours to fall back asleep before the alarm goes off. That'll work.

It needn't last an hour to be good. Nope, sometimes 15 minutes in the middle of the night is perfect.

Drag Queen name of the day: Jean Pool

Monday, November 12, 2007

Film festival summary: day 5

Following is the film society's synopsis (in italics) and my personal thoughts (not in italics) about the 3 films I saw on the festival's final day, Sun:

10% Shorts
1. Prada Handbag

Always an outsider, a young woman finds her niche when she lands a job at a kooky drag bar and assumes the new identity of Prada Handbag. It’s Muriel’s Wedding meets The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in this glitzy, glam cinematic extravaganza which ravishes the eye and warms the heart.

I thought this short was quite cute and lots of fun to look at. However, the synopsis above is slightly off: the lead doesn't assume a NEW identify of Prada Handbag, that's her actual birth name! There's more glitter, sequins, and make-up than you can imagine, which all add to this 'glamorous' short film. 4 stars.

2. Casting Pearls
A short comedic film which illustrates the difficulties transsexual women face in Hollywood. We see a hectic series of auditions endured by Cassandra, a transsexual actress. Cassandra weathers the horrible, funny and cruel things said by various Hollywood professionals with plucky determination and professionalism, showing that decades of bias can’t hold back the real contributions of transgender people to the arts and media.

This was cute. The entire short film is comprised of these auditions where Cassandra is told in every possible way that she's just not quite right for the part. 4 stars.

3. Airplanes
Airplanes is the story of two teenage girls who secretly hook up one day at a traveling carnival. Although their encounter is brief, like an airplane it’s bound by gravity, and doomed to return to earth. Their relationship is explained through metaphors of flying, yet beauty and simplicity remain.

Maybe I'm too literal, but I did not get the connection between airplanes and these 2 girls who hook-up at the amusement park. Throughout the film viewers are shuttled back and forth between vintage airplane film footage and the girls at the amusement park. One of the girls basically uses the other then kicks her to the curb to be with her 'cool friends'. 2 stars.

4. Kali Ma
When an Indian mother finds out her son is the victim of a merciless bully, she channels the Hindu goddess of creation, preservation and destruction and delivers her own brand of vigilante justice in Kali Ma.

I liked this a lot. The mother might as well have shouted 'Towanda!' like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes as she seeks vengeance against her son's bully. But she's stopped from going too far by her son, the victim, who also happens to have a crush on the bully. 4 stars.

5. Pariah
In this award winning short a Bronx teen unsuccessfully juggles multiple identities to please her friends and family. With pressure from her friend to be authentic, butch lesbian and physical abuse from her father for 'coming out', Leigh makes a choice how to live her life.

This was excellent! Such a contemporary story, full of heartbreak and exhilaration, artfully played out by authentic characters. At times funny, at times gut-wrenching, but always captivating. 5 stars.

6. The Saddest Boy in the World
Timothy Higgins, picked last for the team, is the saddest boy in the world. Friendlessness, suburban complacency and prescription drugs have conspired against the youngster to make this his worst year yet. Musical Chairs and birthday cake can’t save him now—at his ninth birthday party, Timothy prepares for a show-stopping suicide.

I'm still trying to figure out why this film was made. Although occasionally humorous, it was sad and painful to see how "the saddest boy in the world" lives. But I don't think I grasped the message behind this film. What did the writer want us to feel, do, say? Oddly enough, I went to school with a boy named Timothy Higgins. 2 stars.

Spider Lilies
In this 2007 Teddy Award-winner for Best Feature, two lonely young women meet in a tattoo parlor and slowly realize that they share a past connection—as well as a torrid lesbian attraction in the present. Nineteen-year-old Jade looks and acts childish, yet makes her living doing private webcam sex shows for those willing to pay to see it. Visiting a tattoo parlor, she decides to get a spider lily tattooed on her arm, which 20-year-old owner/artist Takeko also has. But beyond their attachment to spider lilies, it turns out that these two women share a deeper connection to one another: they first met ten years ago as children living in the countryside. Back then, Jade had developed a powerful crush on Takeko which endures to this day. Can their love turn into a full-fledged adult romance? Directed by Taiwanese lesbian filmmaker Zero Chou, Spider Lilies sees its love-starved protagonists flirt with one another in the present while, via flashbacks, we learn of the heartbreaking tragedy and pain in their shared past. Further complicating their romance is Takeko’s high maintenance brother and an undercover policeman charged with busting the webcam sex ring that Jade is a part of.

I liked the way the story was told in this film, slipping effortlessly back and forth between the present and 10 years earlier. Little by little the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together revealing to viewers the beautiful and tragic story of the spider lily tattoo. 4 stars.

At her wedding reception, Keren breaks a leg. And bang goes the Caribbean honeymoon. A strange little girl comes out of the sea and follows Batya like a shadow until Batya’s life changes forever. Joy is a maid from the Philippines. She works for a tough old lady and unintendedly reconciles her with her daughter. This is a composite film, made of scraps of humanity, like so many messages in a bottle, verging on the absurd...A portrait of a messy world in which everyone scrapes by as best they can, looking for love, for something to remember or to forget.

This film felt very disjointed to me. I like films with multiple plots running concurrently, but this one just didn't seem to ever come together. There are 3 different stories that didn't seem related to one another in any way. One of them left me wondering if some of the scenes were fantasy or if the character was about to be diagnosed with a mental disorder. And why the title Jellyfish? 2 stars.

Drag Queen name of the day: Tess Tosterone

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Film festival summary: day 4

Following is the film society's synopsis (in italics) and my personal thoughts (not in italics) about the 2 films I saw on Sat:

The Witnesses
Paris, 1984. In a cruisey city park, Adrien, a sophisticated, middle-aged doctor, meets Manu, a buoyant 18-year-old. Manu turns down Adrien’s proposition—then asks him to hold his jacket while he joins an orgy in the bushes. Not the best way to start a relationship, yet Adrien takes Manu under his wing. Manu needs guidance, and Adrien comes alive as he tromps around Paris with this energetic newcomer. Adrien’s friend Sarah worries that he’s being taken advantage of, but Adrien disagrees: “You can ask anything of your friends.” The possibilities of friendship are at the heart of this elegant new film from André Téchiné, whose 1994 Wild Reeds is already a classic. Once again, the French auteur demonstrates the complexity of desire—plus his knack for casting sexy, intense young French actors. In lesser hands, the May/December dynamic would slip into heartbreak and stop there, but Téchiné raises the stakes as The Witnesses becomes a story of relationships tested by the onslaught of AIDS. Like a cinematic string quartet, the film intertwines four fascinating lives. Carefree Manu turns dangerous under pressure. Adrien, a doormat in love, becomes a medical warrior fighting the deadly new virus. Sarah struggles to balance motherhood with artistry, while her macho Algerian husband falls into his first gay affair. The Witnesses takes us through a tumultuous year asking us to bear witness to the lives it portrays.

I enjoyed this film because it showed something I don't recall having seen in any films recently: the love Adrien continues to have for Manu even though he knows they will never be more than friends. Rather than being a doormat for love as the synopsis says, I think Adrien simply lives his life knowing he has a special love for Manu that will remain whether or not he falls in love with someone else. Meanwhile Adrien's friend Sarah finds herself unable to love her newborn baby, leading to lots of tension between her and her husband, who has an affair with Manu. This film was longer than it needed to be and could have benefited from a good editor. 4 stars.

In the Land of Merry Misfits
For any who have ever felt that they don’t quite fit in (or who have a hankering for the strange and off-kilter), this campy romp is a perfect fit. Narrated by, and obviously influenced by John Waters, this madcap film tells the story of a young college graduate who takes a wrong turn on the way to win back his girlfriend, and finds himself stuck when his car breaks down in the wacky, woodsy town of Bethany (not Delaware). Confronted with a colorful realm inhabited by jester-esque junkies, kitschy cross-dressers, would-be knights and other “misfits,” our button downed hero can think of nothing but getting out of this freak-show town. Unfortunately for him, the mechanic has been unable to fix a car for years. With no way out, our hero gets sucked into the misfits’ medieval role play, and in a twisted take on an Arthurian legend, is quickly declared their Chosen One. In refusing to conform to the town’s conservative standards, the misfits have long been tormented and belittled by the White Demons (the cool jocks). With the arrival of the Chosen One, however, the misfits boldly embark on a quest to capture “The Grail of Popularity,” engaging in a battle to defend the unpopular and secure the right to live their lives as they see fit. Writer-director Keven Undergaro creates a world that may seem far off and strange, but the issues within are strangely familiar.

With a description like this, it seems like a sure thing, right? WRONG! This is the worst film I have ever seen in my life. I have never walked out of a theatre while the film was still going on until I saw this. I stayed for 30 minutes, longer than many others who left after 10 or 15 minutes, but I just couldn't possibly imagine enduring this horrible tragedy for another hour. I felt badly leaving while the film was still running since the writer/director was present in the audience! Honestly, it escapes me how this film even got into this festival. Everything I've ever seen at this festival had at least some merit, except this. 0 stars.

Drag Queen name of the day: Della Catesson

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Film festival summary: day 3

Following is the film society's synopsis (in italics) and my personal thoughts (not in italics) about the 2 films I saw on Fri:

The Ten
The Ten is a hilariously archaic, scandalous, offensive and raucous take on Moses’s tablets. So those without a demented sense of humor better stay clear—because The Ten is way less Charlton Heston and much more Monty Python’s Life of Brian. An omnibus, The Ten, co-written by and starring festival guest Ken Marino, features a bevy of stars determined to do damage to their careers. Ten skits are strung together by an initially genial host, Jeff (Paul Rudd) who does his best introducing each segment but is continually sidetracked with arguments with his wife, Gretchen (Famke Janssen), and eventually his flings with both Jessica Alba and Dianne Wiest. Each vignette tackles one of the commandments. Whether it is worshipping false gods (a young man jumps out of a plane without his parachute and survives but is permanently embedded halfway into the ground—attracting media attention and religious zealots); coveting a neighbor’s wife (in a scene set in an all-male prison); or taking the Lord’s name in vain (with Gretchen Mol as a sexually pent-up virgin having a fling in Mexico with Jesus). There is a nude musical number, Winona Ryder in love with a ventriloquist dummy and a jaw-dropping animated sequence about a rhino and crack heads. Rude, crude and putting the insanity back in Christianity, The Ten may not represent the typical offerings of the Festival, but makes for one wild ride! You’ve been warned!

I enjoyed these 10 segments, each loosely referencing a commandment. Some made me laugh out loud while others had more subtle humor. This is definitely not everyone's taste. I heard some exiting the theatre saying they didn't get it or they couldn't figure out how the segments related to the specific commandment. Its the kind of humor you have to be in the right mood for. It was fun to see so many stars in these silly and often 'off-color' segments. 3 stars.

The Walker
Containing an all star cast including Woody Harrelson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mary Beth Hurt, Lauren Bacall, Lily Tomlin, Ned Beatty, and Willam Defoe, The Walker is a DC set political thriller that contains the dry wit and sarcasm only a DC setting can provide. Gay, southern-bred Carter Page III has an unusual job, he accompanies Washington DC’s well-heeled ladies to the opera. These ladies’ husbands have no desire to bother themselves with such high culture, which means that Carter Page III has a steady stream of work. One day, Lynn, a regular client who is married to a liberal senator, discovers her lover murdered. She turns to Carter for help. In order to protect Lynn, Carter claims that he found the corpse. His friendly gesture brings down an avalanche, for now arch-conservative state attorney Mungo Tenant is on the case and promptly pins the murder on Lynn and Carter. All of a sudden, Carter, himself the son of an influential politician, finds himself embroiled in a web of intrigue, allegations and rumor. The man who has always dubbed himself superficial and the black sheep of the family finds himself obliged to take on the good fight—more so when his friends begin to turn their backs on him. Carter and his boyfriend Emek have to make use of all their contacts in order to find out who is behind the campaign. In the end, Carter finds a way to solve his predicament, but at what price?

I liked this film, although I was constantly distracted by Woody Harrelson's horribly fake southern drawl. I kept thinking the part of Carter Page III would have been so much better played by Kevin Spacey. The story line was tight and plausible. It really made me sick to wonder how many crimes and cover-ups are perpetrated by high-ranking government officials who only need place a call to a high-ranking friend. It also made me sick to see how Carter's "friends" (the ladies he escorted to the opera and with whom he played cards and gossiped every Wednesday) turned their backs on him when he was photographed being taken into the police station for questioning. Just like their husbands whom they scorned for such behavior towards fellow politicians, these women used Carter. 4 stars.

Drag Queen name of the day: Lois Carmen Denominator

Friday, November 09, 2007

Film festival summary: day 2

My level of film society membership allows me to purchase all my film screening tickets for the entire festival on Thurs morning when the box office opened at 8:00 am. Since some films tend to sell out and I didn't want to take the chance of missing even one, I arrived at the box office at 6:50 am and was the 3rd person in line. Fortunately for me the 1st and 2nd people in line were John & David, two guys I met during last year's RBIFF, so we got to chat about what films we saw on Wed evening as well as the films on our respective lists. It was only 32 degrees outside and I was happy I'd taken Spouse's suggestion to wear my heavier coat and stick a hat in my pocket.

Following is the film society's synopsis (in italics) and my personal thoughts (not in italics) about the 3 films I saw on Thurs:

Another Woman
French actress Nathalie Mann is captivating as a woman with the ovaries and heart to reconnect with the family she abandoned a decade ago when she was a miserable man. Desperately unhappy, Nicolas left his wife and kids to discover his true nature and never returned. Living under the radar in Geneva, he painstakingly transformed into Léa. Three years after her final surgery, this new woman has the chance to return home to Paris on a work assignment. Reluctant and terrified to face her past, she is nonetheless drawn into the lives of her children. After concocting a ruse to befriend her daughter Emmy, a budding classical pianist, Léa is suddenly back in her old home, meeting her son Lucas, her “widow” Anne, and the new man of the house, Pierre. Overwhelmed trying to juggle the truth, Léa eventually “comes out” to a shocked Anne and declares her intention to claim her paternal rights. Tenuous new connections break as the confused and frightened family closes ranks against the intruder. Legal hassles force Léa to start a more authentic life in Paris, but young Lucas stays curious about her, hoping to find the father he never knew. This inspiring film is a must see for anyone seeking a whole and integrated life. Liberally based on a true story, Another Woman is a lost gem that stays true to the transgender narrative yet transcends to universal themes.

I loved this film. The actress playing Lea was exquisite. You could literally see what was going on in her mind by her facial expressions and body language. She could speak without words. The film showed the agonizing difficulties and decisions made by those who want/need to transition, as well as the difficulties they encounter afterward, illuminating the price to be paid by everyone who wishes to live authentically. Truly a touching, yet not overdone story. If you liked 'TransAmerica', you'll adore this film.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee
Wickedly talented director Jamie Babbit once again has her finger on the pulse of queer culture with this wry romantic comedy in which anarchic punk twenty-somethings vivaciously vandalize patriarchal symbols under the name of the C(I)A (Clits in Action). Fresh out of high school, mundane lesbian Anna has no direction or motivation. Having recently broken up with her girlfriend, she is the maid of honor at her picture perfect sister’s wedding and works a monotonous job at a plastic surgery clinic. It’s not until she meets foxy Sadie as she’s spray painting empowering statements on Anna’s office window that she wakes up and finds a purpose. Intrigued, she follows Sadie down a seedy back alley to her guerrilla girls’ headquarters and meets the other members—angst-laden artist Meat, brainchild Shulasmith and ally transman Aggie. Even though these rebels are a bit slapdash, their down-with-the-man attitude and infectious style has the precocious baby-dyke fired up and joining the fight! As the estrogen flows during a crucial road trip, frolicking friends and alluring glances ignite a steamy romance between Anna and Sadie that could upset the delicate order of the C(I)A. Set to the inspiring riot grrl music of Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, Itty Bitty Titty Committee isn’t your traditional feminist film: instead, it’s an ode to grrl power for the gender-bending queer punk generation.

This film was a lot of fun! As passionate and serious as these anti-male-dominated-society grrls tried to be, they tended not to stray too far from reality and didn't take themselves too seriously. There were lots of hard laughs for me, starting with the name C(I)A and ending with the take-over of the Marcy Maloney TV set! In addition to all the fun and laughter, I also enjoyed the themes of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and purpose. 4 stars.

The Curiosity of Chance
This loopy, unlikely teen comedy tracks the exploits of a charming, queer dandy in the stultifying world of high school during the tacky ’80s. Though it’s set “somewhere in Europe,” Brickland International High School is much like any secondary educational institution: full of teenaged barbarians that just want to drag a guy down. Popular kids, fashionistas and bullies sporting thin ties and mullets make for a grim welcoming committee as Chance glides into school on his first day decked out in top hat and cane. His fashion sense and quick wit are almost all he needs to deflect ennui and homophobic threats, particularly from football jock Brad Harden, who predicts that exposure to fags will soon have all the real men fantasizing about Patrick Swayze and Rick Springfield. Luckily (and naturally?), Chance befriends the school’s other biggest misfits, sassy Twyla and nerdy Hank, who help him through the thickets of high school hell. A “chance” night out at a local drag bar, a little detective work and an unlikely allegiance with straight dreamboat sports jock/wannabe musician Levi, and Chance seems poised to rock both the school and his own world. Brisk, colorful and awash in classic ’80s pop music, this quirky feature from Russell Marleau is a gay bubble-gum delight.

This film was funny and entertaining, with all of its 80s music, clothes, and hair. What I found to be most refreshing about this film was Chance's early self-identification and self-acceptance as gay. Unlike Zach in 'Shelter', Chance knows who he is and what he wants, and feels no need to apologize to anyone. If only more gay teens were able to have such confidence! The film had no shortage of drool-inducing eye candy in the form of Brett Chukerman (a la 'Eating Out 2') and Tad Hilgenbrinck. 4 stars.

Drag Queen name of the day: Georgia Peach

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Film festival summary: day 1

The Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival (RBIFF) designated its first Wed evening film screenings for "locals". Tickets for Wed evening's film screenings were not available by mail, even to film society members, but had to be purchased locally at the film society's office. This gave more opportunities for "locals" to get a taste of the film festival.

I purchased tickets for Spouse & me for 2 films. Following is the films society's synopsis (in italics) and my personal thoughts (not in italics) about the 2 films we saw:

The Bubble
Director Eytan Fox offers a sexy, modern and queer Romeo and Juliet in this story of lovers from two different worlds. Noam is a handsome record-store attendant who serves part-time with the Israeli Army at a checkpoint on the border of the Palestinian territories. An out gay man, he lives in Tel Aviv with his friends Lulu, an aspiring clothes designer, and Yali, a gay restaurant manager. When not commenting on each others’ love lives, the young friends actively support liberal political causes and consider themselves enlightened, distributing left-wing fl yers opposing Israel’s Palestinian policy and organizing anti-occupation raves. Noam’s world is rocked when he meets Ashraf, a soulful Palestinian who crosses through the checkpoint one day, then turns up again on the gay party scene in Tel Aviv. Noam and Ashraf hook up, and soon Noam is arm-twisting his roommates into accepting Ashraf as a new member of the household. The passionate affair flourishes in this “bubble” of liberal sentiment, but the world can only be held at bay for so long, as political and family pressures force Ashraf into cataclysmic decisions that threaten the love he’s found with Noam. Ultimately, each character comes face-to-face with the harsh realities that have fueled their attraction yet also conspire to drive them apart. Stern and unflinching in its mapping of battle lines, The Bubble passionately celebrates the love that brings Noam and Ashraf together, despite the legacy of conflict they have inherited.

We loved this film. The characters were so authentic that I had to remind myself they were actors. It is a realist, truthful story set in a contemporary setting. While there is a strong political message, it is woven nicely into the passion of all the characters. Raw, tender, sweet, sad, funny, shocking. Its all of these things and more. 5 stars. I highly recommend putting this on your Netflix list when it becomes available.

A year out of high school, Zach is stuck in San Pedro, CA working as a fry cook, skateboarding and stenciling guerrilla artwork on abandoned buildings. His bedroom is his oasis —he draws on the walls, in his notebook, in sketches piled up on the floor. But he squashed his dream of attending Cal Arts in order to help his sister, Jeannie, raise her five-year-old son. Enter Shaun, the gay older brother of Zach’s best friend and a writer taking a break from Hollywood to recover from a bad relationship. Zach and Shaun start hanging out, surfing and drinking too much beer, much to Jeannie’s concern. “You’re not a fag,” she tells Zach. Wishful thinking! It isn’t long before Zach and Shaun are falling asleep in each other’s arms. Zach’s slow awakening to desire is at the heart of this gritty, romantic debut from talented writer/director Jonah Markowitz. A sensitive performance by handsome newcomer Trevor Wright anchors the classic story of a young man forced by responsibility to grow up fast—with strong support from Tina Holmes (Six Feet Under and Edge of Seventeen) and sexy Brad Rowe (Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss). With a pitch-perfect emo soundtrack and plenty of guys in wetsuits riding waves under gorgeous sunsets, Shelter is a sensory treat.

We loved this film. Even more than a love story, I found this film to really be about family. Unlike many of the low-budget gay DVDs I get from Netflix, the acting in Shelter is terrific. Each character was completely believable. A very nice 'first performance' for newcomer Trevor Wright. Tina Holmes was amazing, and SO unlike her character on Six Feet Under. I really enjoyed the surfing shots, some in slow-mo, others not. The sunsets, the lighting, and the locations all worked for me. And thank god there were no gratuitous shots of 'clouds rolling across the sky' for no reason. How nice that 'Zack' was cast by an actor who actually looked the right age! So often there are 29 year olds playing high school seniors. Brad Rowe (a la 'Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss') was super-hot with his scruffy face! and the little boy who played Cody was nicely cast as well. 5 stars. Definitely recommended.

Drag Queen name of the day: Flora DaCoast

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I was reading a blog where the author mentioned never having run a marathon as just 1 of his many unaccomplished goals. He wasn't sure if his inability to accomplish goals was because he's just plain lazy, loses interest before completion, is a chronic procrastinator, or many other possible causes.

Since I, too, have a list of yet-to-be-accomplished goals I decided to leave him a comment to let him know I shared his frustration. Then I listed for him some things that have helped me do better at accomplishing goals and before I knew it, I had my own blog post written.

So here are the suggestions I wrote to Billy.

What an honest commentary! I have shared your frustration with having a long list of unaccomplished goals and lamenting over why they remain so.

  1. I found that often the planning/thought of the goal becomes more stressful than actually working to accomplish it. Try not to over-think what it will take to complete it, just starting working on it.
  2. Picking a date is key. Unplanned projects rarely get done. Pick a date and don't let anything interfere with it.
  3. Be realistic with the scale of your goals so they are attainable. "Sort out those 10 boxes of paperwork and file what I save" seems overwhelming. An attainable goal would be "Sort out 1 box of paperwork each week and file what I save".
  4. Remind yourself often of the value of your goal. When you'd rather sleep in or veg out in front of the TV, tell yourself why the goal is important to you, and chances are you'll be more motivated to work on it.
  5. Be sure your list is current. If you put a goal on the list 5 years ago then maybe its just not that important. If its not, scratch it off and concentrate on what's important now and in the future.

Since I articulated these things for Billy it made me aware of the continued need to practice them in my own life. I still have a list of yet-to-be-accomplished goals and tasks so I'm going to apply these 5 suggestions and see how many I can complete.

Now, if I can just find a way to stop saying "I'll start this as soon as ______ happens"!

Drag Queen name of the day: Reba Dircci