Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Allies

Recently I heard about Brad Pitt donating money to help defeat Prop 8 in CA, the ballot bill that would repeal marriage equality in CA.

But what exactly is Prop 8? Ellen DeGeneres exposes the tricky wording of Proposition 8 here.

Then I saw a headline indicating Steven Spielberg and his wife donated money for this, too.

It got me thinking about how, as gay people, we sometimes forget that we are not in this alone. We have allies among the hetero population who are willing to spend money to help us succeed in guaranteeing marriage equality for those in CA.

So I took just a few minutes time to search for other people and companies who believe in equality for ALL Americans, not just the straight ones. Here's what I found.

Newsom, Paterson Host Gay Marriage Fundraiser

Steven Spielberg Donates $100,000 To Gay Marriage Fight

Google Opposes Anti-Gay Marriage Ban

Brad Pitt Donates $100,000 To Fight Gay Marriage Ban

Levi's joins fight to defeat marriage ban

PG & E gives $250,000 to defeat gay marriage ban Proposition 8

And, although not directly related to marriage equality, Pepsi Co. gave $500,000. to PFLAG, which works to strengthen the bond between the gay community and its straight allies.

Its important that we buy the products and services from the companies and individuals who are brave enough to stand up and publicly join us in our struggle for equality. Let's remember that religious groups often threaten and carry out boycotts against such companies for their courageous stand. Just ask Wells Fargo or Disney.

And if you can spare a few minutes, why not write to these companies to thank them for taking a stand for equality. They will appreciate it and will know their efforts are appreciated by us.

Crush du Jour: Eddie Cibrian

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend salvaged

Fri evening Jim & Barb officially rescheduled Saturday's block party due to the weather forecast.
But Fri evening turned out very well because our Fri night dinner with 'the usual suspects' was held at Walt & Tom's house, rather than a restaurant. We didn't know until the birthday cake was brought out for dessert that it was Tom's birthday. So the 'surprise' was on us instead of Tom. We had a nice group show up and a delicious dinner. When we got home Spouse watched the presidential candidates debate while I watched 'Burnt Money' on DVD.
It was good.

Sat morning Spouse & I walked over to the
Blue Plate Diner for breakfast. Owners Mark and Jim, who are also our friends, were there and we talked with them until our food arrived. Spouse had a large omelet with hash browns and I had Belgian waffles. Then we ran a few errands.

Shortly before the
Straight Eights car show was due to start at 2:00, he headed into Rehoboth under sketchy skies. It hadn't rained all day so far so the car show wasn't cancelled. We had a great time looking at all of the lovely vintage beauties. Most were the same as last year, although a few were missing, and there were a few new additions. Just as we had completed viewing at all the cars and were looking around for Rick & Nick, we started feeling rain drops. Suddenly we saw car owners run from their conversations to put up their convertible tops. It was sort of comical. We weren't far from where we'd parked so we just ran to our car and headed home. The rain lasted less than 5 minutes, and Rick & Nick later told us that everyone dried their cars off with towels and the car show resumed.

As Spouse & I were relaxing and channel surfing Spouse stopped on the ShopNBC channel. Lo and behold, they were featuring a fantastic deal on mattresses! We watched the presentation and recalled to each other the prices we'd seen while mattress shopping 2 weeks prior. That day's special was $999. for any size, with FREE shipping, and free set-up of the new bed and free removal of your old bed, so we knew this deal was not to be beat.

So we bought it.

The Serta Bellfield Pillowtop Mattress and Split Foundation should be delivered in about 3 weeks. Its an inner spring mattress with a memory foam pillow top. Its not the TempurPedic mattress I wanted but its less than 1/2 the price. Spouse wasn't as keen on the TempurPedic mattress because he found it difficult to roll over, and also heard from some people that it made them hot at night. So I decided to compromise on the mattress, especially since he compromised on the LCD HD TV.

I also compromised and agreed to 'upgrade' to a king bed. Initially I didn't want to do this because we have 10 sets of queen sheets as well as a queen comforter and bed skirt that I absolutely love. But the king mattress was the same price as the queen, and Spouse really wanted the king, so I agreed. Our queen comforter is oversized so we can probably still use it on the king bed. We have 3 other queens that can use the 10 sets of queen sheets.

Hopefully the king will reduce the motion transfer. On our current bed when Spouse rolls over I bounce all over the place. I tell him I feel as though I'm on a blow-up raft on a stormy ocean.

Sat evening Barb & Jim invited us to join them and a few neighbors for dinner. Jim had made a giant cauldron of Portuguese stew and had grilled up some hamburgers and hot dogs. We ate and hung out for a few hours with some of our neighbors and had a really good time.

Sun morning Spouse & I relaxed with our morning coffee and then got started on the house cleaning. I hate doing it, but I always feel so good once its done. A dirty house makes me feel irritated, and a clean house makes me feel happy and carefree.

Then we drove to Dover with the top down to shop at Value City Department Store. We love this place because you can find great name brand merchandise at close-out prices. We had a gift certificate worth $40. so we bought a set of 600 thread count sheets in king size for $39.99. We also picked up a king mattress cover marked $19.99 that rang up at $4.50 - 75% off! Now we'll be ready when our new bed arrives.

Despite the gloomy, rainy forecast, it only rained a few times and for short periods of time, so our weekend wasn't a wash. It turned out much better than I expected. Now, if only we could find a way to make them last longer.

Crush du Jour: Digo Padovan

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekend cancelled?

For weeks I've been excited by our plans for tomorrow.

First, the annual Straight Eights chapter of the Lambda Car Club's vintage car show from 2:00-5:00.
We've gone the past 2 years and really enjoyed seeing all the beautiful old cars. Click here to see my photos from last year's show.

Second, our neighbor's annual block party from 4:00 until everyone goes home. Jim & Barb grill up a whole bunch of burgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts, ribs, and brats. The rest of the neighbors bring the salads, side dishes, and desserts. Jim plugs his iPod into a couple of huge speakers, and everyone eats, talks, drinks, dances, and enjoys themselves. Last year it was a lot of fun.

Unfortunately it looks like Mother Nature will not be cooperating for either of these 2 outdoor events. Yesterday it rained on and off all day, sometimes hard, and the wind was really fierce.

Today the wind has died down quite a bit and it is not currently raining, but the forecast is for scattered showers today and tomorrow, and thunderstorms on Sun.

I have a feeling the car show will be cancelled. Owners of most restored vintage beauties do not drive them when its wet outside, and with the possibility of showers and/or thunderstorms, I have a feeling many will not show up even if its not cancelled. The car show is held in a tree covered park, and since its been raining since Thurs, the ground will be muddy.

Jim & Barb have already emailed everyone asking for opinions on what folks want to do. It looks like most are leaning toward postponing the block party to another weekend. Even if it isn't raining, the yard will be saturated with rain and the grass will be slippery.

So the weekend I've been looking forward to for weeks appears to be on the verge of cancellation. What should I do to fill my time? Your suggestions are welcomed.

While I'm already down in the dumps about the sure-to-be-cancelled activities, I might as well share with you this video, sent to me by a friend, that really made me feel terrible. I am hoping the driver of that car has some serious mental health issues. I can't fathom anyone with a sane mind acting and speaking like that. But maybe I've just never experienced such hate so I don't know.

Wishing everyone a good weekend. Maybe I can lift everyone's 'spirits' with today's handsome crush.

Crush du Jour: Rocco Dispirito

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dream

I had a dream that left me a little disturbed and a lot baffled.

Normally my dreams include people and places I'm familiar with, but often in odd combinations. You know, a friend from high school joins you for Thanksgiving at your parents house. Only you haven't seen your parents in 15 years, they don't even celebrate Thanksgiving, it isn't their house, and the friend from high school still looks 17 even though you're both 44 now. That kinda stuff. Those dreams don't disturb or baffle me, but last night's did. Here's the dream.

SCENE 1
I am my current age, 44, but I am working at the men's clothing store in the mall where I worked when I was 24. My boss is the same man who was my boss then, only he hasn't aged 20 years as I have.

I find a wallet in the store and open it to see if it contains ID. A man in his 50s sees me with his wallet and thanks me for finding it. I look at his photo ID and understanding the wallet belongs to him, I give it to him, smile and say "No problem".

This causes me to think that perhaps I should remove my wallet and keys from my pockets for fear of loosing them in the busy store. I reach over the sales counter and place my wallet and keys inside a drawer adjacent to the cash register. I see the credit card processor spitting out a charge receipt for $1,561.13 which I think to myself as a 'really good sale'.

As I'm leaning over the counter I feel a hand on top of my head, with its fingers extending down my forehead. Obviously the body connected to this hand is behind me. Instinctively I reach up and remove the hand by the wrist and say "Excuse me???"

But before I can even turn around to confront the invader of my personal space, the man wraps his arms around my arms and torso and begin to squeeze me. Its kind of like a bear hug, only he's behind me. I try to free myself, but he is taller and stronger than me so I stop. Where is the employee who entered the sale into the credit card terminal???

"Please remove yourself from me right now" I say politely but firmly. Out of my peripheral vision I see an African American woman witnessing the situation with a concerned look on her face. I don't know if she is my attacker's wife/girlfriend or if they've ever seen each other before or not.

The man does not release me so I say louder and more firmly "I said take your hands off of me right now!" He presses his body up against mine and says "Now you're gonna get to feel my hot breath on your neck". Under very different circumstances, this would be a real turn-on. But in this circumstance, it is not, so I struggle again to free myself but am unable to get loose.

"If you don't get off me NOW" I shout, "I'm going to yell for help." Instead of letting go, the man begins grinding his pelvis against my ass, and I can feel that he is getting excited by this. Again, under different circumstances I would be like "Yeah!" But in this situation, I call for help.

"SECURITY! SECURITY! HELP - I'M BEING ASSAULTED! SOMEONE DIAL 911 RIGHT AWAY!" I yelled at the top of my voice. Calling for security was just a tactic to scare my attacker, as I knew our store had no security guard. But I could see shoppers in the store retrieve their cell phones from their pockets and purses, and I assumed they were calling the police for me. I figured the 911 dispatcher would contact the mall security who would surely come to my rescue before the police could, coming from somewhere else.

Meanwhile, the woman I could see from my peripheral vision is still standing there, next to my attacker, looking concerned, but doing and saying absolutely nothing. I wasn't really frightened, but was more annoyed than anything else.

I try one more time with the man. "The police will be here any minute, so you'd better get off me before I press charges." The man doesn't let go, and continues to grind himself against my ass, while holding my arms and torso tightly.

SCENE 2
The sleazy store manager (my boss) is standing next to me, and the police officer, my attacker, and the African American witness are standing opposite of us. This is the first time I've seen my attacker, as he was always behind me. He looks like a linebacker, and I feel much better about why I was unable to free myself from his grip. Obviously the woman is with him.

My boss has suggested that I not press charges since I "wasn't hurt", and I ascertain it is because my boss was the employee who rang up the $1,561.13 sale and that my attacker was the purchaser of all that merchandise.

I say to my boss "I am pressing charges. This man assaulted me. I asked him, then demanded he let me go, but he wouldn't. I am pressing charges."

My attacker is smiling the whole time, and then begins to chuckle at my words. I feel obliged to continue validating my actions to my sleazy boss. "If I witnessed him assaulting a customer of this store, I would surely have tried to intervene and then would have called the police. I'm sure you wouldn't try to dissuade the customer from pressing charges."

I look at the police officer and restate my position. "I AM pressing charges."

Despite my refusal to give in, my attacker continues smiling, looking up at the ceiling, down at the floor, and chuckles again. I am imagining that he is a minor league football player and believes the team's lawyer will get the charges dropped. I don't want that to happen so I go in for the kill.

Looking directly at my attacker I say "I see your erection has gone down, now that the police officer is here."

Then, looking at the officer I say "I don't know if this affects the way he'll be charged or not, but you should know that he had an erection while assaulting me, and really seemed to be enjoying it."

With that, the officer handcuffs my attacker and reads him his Miranda rights. End of dream.

What a crazy dream, eh? Knowing that the content of dreams usually comes from fragments of one's life, what baffles me is where this dream came from?

I'm never concerned about my personal safety or being attacked or assaulted, so why was this the central theme of the dream?

I don't recall ever being truly fearful of being injured by my attacker. I wasn't afraid, I was annoyed. That seems odd.

And what's up with that woman with the concerned look on her face who witness my attack but never said a word, either during or afterward? Was she mute?

I don't know, but I'm certainly not going to obsess over it. It was a dream. It wasn't very pleasant, but its over.

Especially for my friend Tony G, I leave you with today's Crush.

Crush du Jour: Alex Baresi

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gay Aiken

Thank god we can all finally sleep at night, now that the big mystery of Clay Aiken's sexuality has been revealed!

Yes, that's right. Clay discloses "Yes, I'm gay."
My comments are in red italics throughout this 'riveting' article.


(Sept. 23) - Clay Aiken is gay.
Duh. But since when has it been about whether or not WE can handle the truth?


After years of dodging rumors and speculation, in a PEOPLE exclusive the former 'American Idol' runner-up gives his Ellen-inspired admission: 'Yes, I'm Gay.'

"It was the first decision I made as a father," says Aiken, 29, who recently had a child through a surrogate mother. "I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn't raised that way, and I'm not going to raise a child to do that."
Hmmm, so let me get this straight (pardon the pun): You weren't raised to lie or hide things, yet you decided as an adult that it was the best way to handle questions about your sexuality? Maybe its me, but I'm missing the connection here.

Aiken says he knows his newborn son will have a lot to process and interpret once he grows up.

"Whether it be having a child out of wedlock, or whether it be simply being a homosexual, it's going to be a lot," he told PEOPLE. "I have no idea if he'll be gay or straight. It's not something I'll have anything to do with, or that he'll have anything to do with. It's already probably up inside the code there ... No matter what the situation you're in, if you're raised in a loving environment, that's the most important thing."
This paragraph contains the only quotation that makes any sense. I applaud his moment of clarity!

Aiken also tells PEOPLE about how he actually broke the news to his mother.


"I started crying in the car. It was dark. I was sitting there, thinking to myself. I don't know why I started thinking about it ... I just started bawling. She made me pull over the car and it just came out," he says.
Why does coming out have to be this big theatrical production, full of tears and melodrama? In this day and age, why can't gays just say "Mom and Dad, you may have already guessed but I want to tell you that I'm gay. This probably isn't what you would have chosen for me, but its not a choice at all. It simply is. Now I don't expect you to treat me or think of me any differently than you did yesterday, because I'm the same person I was yesterday. Only now you know something more personal about me, and you can stop asking me if I'm dating any nice young girls." Wouldn't that be nice? No tears, no drama, no apologies.

Aiken wasn't the first celebrity to come out on Tuesday. After months of speculation, actress Lindsay Lohan finally divulged that she is dating DJ Samantha Ronson.
Really? I heard she was flirting with Rehab.

Aiken had lashed out at Diane Sawyer during an interview just over two years ago when she asked about rumors of his sexuality.

"At some point it becomes really rude," he said to Sawyer. "I don't understand why you want to know. I don't know why it's any of your business."
Once again I will say that any man who won't definitively answer the 'are you gay?' question is gay, because a straight man will just say 'no'.

Aiken had also said constant questioning of his sexuality in the tabloids had affected him deeply.
If he had answered the question honestly and definitively the first time, all this hurt would have been avoided!

"Even though stuff about me that I read in the magazines isn't true, it still makes me lose sleep," he said. "I hurt, not just for my mother who has to watch it happen and who hurts for me. At least when I was in middle school … I understand why they picked on me."

Aiken had also refused to come out of the closet to PEOPLE magazine in an interview done the same week as his sit-down with Sawyer.
Yet another missed opportunity.

"What do you say? It's like when I was 8. I remember something would get broken in the house, and Mom and Dad would call me in and say, 'Did you do this?' Well, it didn't matter what I said. The only thing they would believe was yes. People are going to believe what they want."
People also believe what they see and hear. They saw and heard him avoiding the questions about his sexuality so they believed the accusations were true.

Closeted celebrities, PLEASE! Just come out already. Nobody really cares that your gay. They care that you lie about it or avoid answering the question.

Crush du Jour: Joshua Morrow

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Politics

You may or may not have noticed the lack of political postings on my blog in the last 2 weeks or so. This is certainly not due to a lack of things to post. From Palin's deceptive statements to her decision not to cooperate with the 'Troopergate' investigators, there's plenty to post.

But my decision not to post on political issues for a while is deliberate. I'm just sick of hearing/reading about it, and I imagine you all are, too. So if you want political commentary, you can surely find it on other blogs and on TV.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly feel that all voters should be well-informed. I don't mind that other bloggers and the media are covering every word ever uttered by the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. But with all that coverage out there, you don't need to hear/read it from me, too.

So I will continue posting interesting political articles and my comments about them if they are not related to the presidential election. But no more SNL spoofs of 'Palin and Clinton' here.

Just more stories from my big fat gay life, and hot guys like the one below.

Crush du Jour: Joey Gloor

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend miracle

Well, this weekend sure was a LOT better than last weekend!

For a change, we had no real plans or obligations. It as a 'free' weekend to do what we wanted.

Sat morning as I was making the coffee I heard Spouse yell my name from the TV room where he was watching ShopNBC, a home shopping channel similar to QVC and HSN (Home Shopping Network).

"Come here and see this TV!" he suggested. Now, this was the same kind of thing that got us into trouble the previous weekend; him making me watch a detailed presentation of a big HD TV, getting me excited about it, and then saying its 'too expensive', and 'everything on TV is crap so why do we need a big TV to watch crap'. But I cautiously watched the presentation with him and decided I was not going to act interested unless he seemed interested.

I'm not sure if this miracle was from the heavenly baby Jesus or what, but Spouse actually began to talk about the features of the TV he liked, which by the way was bigger and more expensive than the one we'd seen last weekend. Then he suggested we go to some retail stores and compare prices.

I thought I was having a delightful dream. I mean, this couldn't be the same Spouse! But rather than wake myself from this lovely illusion, I agreed to see if Wal-Mart or K-Mart could beat the price. It took less than 30 minutes to review the offerings at both stores, and our conclusion was that the one we'd seen on ShopNBC was the best TV at the best price.

So we came home and ordered it: A 52" Toshiba Regza HD TV.
Can you believe that? He went from the Grinch who stole Christmas to Santa Claus himself, in the span of one week!

In typical Spouse style, he immediately had buyer's remorse and began saying things like "I hope we didn't make a big mistake by ordering that TV", and "I wonder if its going to be too big". In typical Mark style, I reassured him that the TV seemed wonderful to me, and that if, by some wicked twist of fate, we didn't like it, we could ship it back within 30 days for a refund. As the day went on he seemed less concerned about it, which after 12 years together, I knew would happen.

Later that day we bought some brackets at Lowes and put them up in our storage closet so we could hang our beach chairs and gardening tools on the wall. That night we had pizza for dinner and talked about the myriad of possible ways we could invest some of the proceeds from the sale of our house in VA. Spouse said he found it romantic, the 2 of us sharing a pizza in the dimly lit pizzeria, talking about our financial future.

But what I found romantic was when he woke me up in the middle of the night for some quick, hot man-love! I realize that not everyone (cb) likes this, but I sure do! Maybe because its unexpected. Maybe because you're in that 1/2 asleep, 1/2 awake state. I don't know, and I don't have to know. Okay, so maybe it wasn't particularly romantic, but it was good. And then, back to sleep again.

Sun we went to the craft store to buy some paints. I have 3 framed paintings but do not like them, so I'm going to reuse them by painting over top of them. I've made art before. Here is a series of geometrics I did a few years ago for my office.
Here is a series of landscapes I did several years ago for the office/library in our former house in VA.
When I finish my new geometric art for 1 of our guest bedrooms, I'll post a picture of it.

Then Sun afternoon we met Rick & Nick at the beach. It was pure heaven. The sun was shining brightly, there was a gentle breeze, the humidity was low, the water temperature was warm, and the waves were rough. We had a fantastic time!

Maybe weekends like
last weekend help me better appreciate weekends like this one.

Crush du Jour: Matt Hughes

Friday, September 19, 2008

Saying goodbye

Yesterday Spouse & I drove back to VA to handle a few last items related to the sale of our house. Today the house is no longer ours.

We needed to swap the chandelier out with the one from our current dining room, so we could bring the crystal chandelier, dripping with prisms, back to our current house. We also needed to pick up the lawn mower and various other yard work tools the tenants requested we leave for their use. We also needed to close Spouse's old checking account. Fortunately these things all took place without a hiccup.

But another important task on our to-do list was to say goodbye to our treasured neighbors, Suzanne & George. For years we traded pet sitting duties with them when either of us was away. Many an evening Suzanne would catch us as we arrived home from work, and we'd talk in the driveway about whatever. They were friendly, down-to-earth, smart folks we really liked a lot.

I called Suzanne earlier in the week to tell her we were coming, and we agreed the 4 of us would have lunch together on Thurs. George picked up subs from the Italian Store while Suzanne, Spouse & I sat on her porch and caught up on the goings-on of the neighborhood and each other. We had a lovely lunch outside and talked until we could no longer delay the inevitable. We said our goodbyes and thanked them for a lovely lunch, and for their friendship.

As we were loading the last of our loot into the CRV, I saw Suzanne crossing the yard toward us.

"I know we've already said goodbye, but there's one more thing I wanted to say to you," she began. I really couldn't imagine what it might be.

"I want you to know how happy we are that YOU were our neighbors. You were role models for our two sons. You know, sometimes people say derogatory things about gays, but I know that if my boys hear those kinds of things, they'll know they aren't true. They know that their old neighbors Mark & Joe were gay and that they were fine fellows. So before you left, I just wanted to tell you how grateful we are that you two were such great neighbors and such great role models."

We were truly touched. I thanked Suzanne sincerely for having said such a nice thing, and gave her a final hug.

I've never thought of myself as a role model, and doubt that Spouse has either. But as I thought more about what she said, it struck me that each of us can be a role model to others without knowing it, and without desiring it.

Its tempting to think that if we'd known we were role models, we might have done some things differently or better. But on 2nd thought, why?

Being the only gays on the block (and perhaps in the neighborhood) we just tried to live an authentic life. We never felt we deserved special treatment, nor did we ever feel that we should apologize for being different from our hetero neighbors. We hosted our family for Thanksgiving just like our neighbors, mowed our yard just like our neighbors, and went to work each day just like our neighbors.

But without knowing it, we were role models.

Crush du Jour: David Shillington

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Facial hair

While reading cb's blog yesterday I saw this post on facial hair and learned something new from one of the commenters.

I have been making the very common mistake of confusing a goatee with a Van Dyke.

This is what I've been calling a goatee:
Likely you have, too. But according to this site, its actually a Van Dyke.

This is a goatee:

This difference being the absence of a mustache, or hair above the upper lip.

However, according to this site and this site, a Van Dyke is called a goatee with mustache, so maybe I haven't been completely wrong.

Van Dyke, goatee, tomato, tomato, either way - I am a fan of men with facial hair, be it a full beard, goatee, Van Dyke/goatee with mustache, soul patch, balbo, or manicured scruff. I like them all. You may have noticed that quite a few of my Crush du Jour men have facial hair.

The only two types of facial hair I'm not fond of are a mustache (without goatee) and a scraggly beard.

I think mustaches without goatees just look dated. Think of Tom Selleck as Magnum PI, circa 1980.

"Hello, the 80s called and wants its mustache back."

Back in the day, Tom Selleck's mustache was killer. But now it just looks dated.

Long scraggly beards often look unkempt and make men look old. Think: the guys of ZZ Top, also circa 1980.
"Daddy"? Um, no. More like "Grandpa".

Eeewww.

Crush du Jour: Danny Lopes

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Air car

My comments follow this short article.


A New York-based company plans to produce a car that runs on compressed air and gets up to 106 miles per gallon.

The car's engine would work like a locomotive, but instead of steam, compressed air would move the pistons. When the car hits 35 mph a fuel-powered external combustion system kicks in and heats the air, further increasing its volume.

While experts agree that it's possible to run a small vehicle on compressed air, many are skeptical about whether this system would work for a full-size car. Nevertheless, Zero Pollution Motors is pledging to build the first models in 2010, and sell them for around $18,000.

At first the air would be free, and pumped into the tanks using an on-board compressor. But we're sure someone will eventually figure out how to charge for the air. If you doubt this, take a look at that bottle of water you're drinking.

***********

I think this is exactly the kind of forward thinking we need to reduce our dependence on oil and our negative impact on the environment.

Sure, this won't replace the occasional need for a larger vehicle that can go for long range. But just imagine if most people drove air cars to and from work, the grocery store, soccer practice, music lessons, and the movie theatre instead of a gasoline powered car that pollutes.

They could rent a van or truck to bring home large purchases from Best Buy or Home Depot. They could rent a large SUV or minivan for that family road trip vacation. Or they could keep the one they have, but they wouldn't need to drive those inefficient polluters around every day.

I'm also not saying anyone should be forced into this type of behavior. This is America; the land of the free (at least for the moment), and we should be allowed to drive whatever we want. But it would certainly be a step in the right direction to have alternatives like this available to those who want to use them.

Think about it: 106 mpg, non-polluting, $18K. Personally, I would buy one of these in a heartbeat.

Crush du Jour: Steven Strait

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What were they thinking?

I think its about time for another installment of "What were they thinking?", thanks to my friend John who sent me these great photos. (All may be clicked to enlarge.)

The snarky comments are mine, so don't blame John if you don't like them.

Oh yeah, those stretched-out stretch pants and tight t-shirt are MAJOR "sexy style"!


Everybody loves a bargain, right?


Let's hope this sign holder rides one of those natural gas powered buses. Otherwise he's an idiot.


Everybody knows the dangers of jackhammers on the unborn, but what about cigarette smoking? Perhaps the jury is still out on that.


You might want to check recipes before dining there!


OMG! This had me laughing out loud.


Understandable. Some newborn infants look a LOT like a burrito.


Lazy ass!!!

And they wonder why this particular location of LA Weight Loss has a lower-than-average success rate.


What? I don't see the problem with this.


I bet young Tyler couldn't sit down for a week afterward!


Who knew how much a lighthouse could resemble a man's 'junk'?

Crush du Jour: John Kesler

Monday, September 15, 2008

Frustrating

As I think back on this past weekend, the words frustrating and tense come to mind. It wasn't a 'bad' weekend per se, but it certainly wasn't one of our better ones.

I felt all weekend like Spouse & I were "out of sync", "on different wave lengths", not "on the same page", and this was frustrating.

We've done really well about living frugally since we moved here, knowing that we had not planned to keep our house in VA and therefore remain financially exposed if, for some reason, it didn't stay rented or needed some expensive repairs. So we postponed several purchases that we knew could wait until things were financially different for us. But with the settlement on the VA house this coming Fri, we've been talking about some of the postponed purchases and decided to do some shopping.

We went to 3 mattress stores and tried out a number of beds, as well as got helpful info from the salespeople. I am more sure than ever that what I really want is a TempurPedic memory foam bed, even though it is the most expensive brand. We sleep for about 8 hours every night, so there's no question about whether or not it would get used regularly. Yet Spouse remained unconvinced it is worth the considerable expense. Its not that he doesn't like the bed; he just doesn't want to "spend that much" for it. I don't understand this. You spend more time on your mattress than you do in your car, yet you'll spend 10 times more money on a car than you would your mattress?
And its not that he's waiting for the mattress to go on sale, because they don't. 2 different retailers both told us that TempurPedic does not allow stores to price the mattresses less than what they sell for on TempurPedic's website. They never go on sale, and they are exactly the same price regardless of where you buy them. Spouse's indecision was frustrating to me since I am not undecided at all.

Another purchase we've been putting off is a large, flat screen hi-def TV. To give you an idea of our TV viewing habits, we typically watch TV every night from 7pm until 10:30 or 11pm. We have a 20-year old 19" TV (free) in our TV room, and a 7-year old 32" TV for which we paid $350. in our family room. Spouse has no desire for a larger, hi-def TV. He says "everything on TV is crap, so why do we need a big, hi-def TV to watch crap?" I remind him that although it may be crap, that certainly doesn't stop us from watching it for 4 hours every night. I'm not asking for a huge, 60" TV. I simply want a 37" or 42" hi-def TV. I believe it will make TV watching better and more enjoyable, especially the nature programs we enjoy and the design shows I enjoy.

This weekend we saw a deal on a 46" hi-def 1080p LCD TV on sale 1 day only for $1,299. It was actually larger than what I had been looking for, but thought the price was very good. It would return to its normal price of $1,499. the next day, so a decision needed to be made. But once again Spouse would not agree. He felt that it was still too much money to spend on a TV. The conversation eventually was reduced to his complaint that the HDMI cable was not included, and so I found myself frustrated yet again.

Another possible purchase we've been discussing ever since we moved here 18 months ago is the small vacant not adjacent to our property. The lot is the same depth as our lot, but very narrow. We've discussed the possibility of purchasing it and building a garage (for our use) with an attached living space that would be rented by the week during the summer. There are many non-year-round homes in our seaside town. We are both interested in this possible venture, but the mood became quite tense as we discussed the price for a potential offer as well as the possible circumstances of the sellers. It absolutely escapes me why he would concoct all these various possible circumstances the sellers might be under when he has absolutely no knowledge of them.

Spouse thinks that if we are to make an offer, it should be for the price we feel the lot is worth, regardless of the list price, even if its only 50% of what the lot is listed for. I asked him why he thought the sellers might accept an offer of 1/2 the listing price. Rather than answer that question, he rambled on and on trying to justify his price. I told him there was no reason to convince me of the lot's value, and repeated my question about why he thought the sellers would even entertain an offer of 1/2 the listing price. The conversation did not end well, and I felt so frustrated I said calmly "Fine, let's do nothing. We won't decide on a bed, or a new TV, or the lot. Let's just decide to do nothing!"

Spouse left the house and I sat on the sofa watching the 19" low-def TV. An hour later Spouse returned (from K-Mart) and we decided to go out to eat and then go grocery shopping. Though not quite back to normal, we'd both calmed down and were pleasant to each other. Eating out and grocery shopping are 2 activities we always do together, and really seem to strengthen our relationship. Eating out gives us a chance to talk about whatever is on our minds, and grocery shopping is like a team-building exercise for us; the goal being to shop for the week in an economical manner.

(This isn't us - photo snagged from Google.)

As we drove home from the grocery store Spouse asked "Do you still wanted a divorce?" I never said that I wanted a divorce this weekend or at any other time. That question is Spouse's way of acknowledging the unpleasant conversation that might have led others to shout "I want a divorce!", and checking to see if I am okay now.

In the past I've occasionally answered the question by saying "I'm not sure yet. Let me see if your life insurance is paid up first." This insinuates that, rather than a divorce where our assets would likely be divided in half, I might prefer that he have an "accident" that would result in his untimely death, whereby I would get everything. We both know the steps in this 'dance'.

But this time I decided to say something a little sweeter: "No, I love you too much to give up over something like this." After a short pause he responded in kind: "Good, because I don't want a divorce either."

We will certainly talk about a new bed, a hi-def TV, and the adjacent lot many more times. I believe we both know its not a matter of if, but when. For some reason he's not ready yet, and I can live without those things until he's ready. Its certainly not worth fighting over. As anyone in a long-term relationship can tell you, being in a couple involves compromise. You've got to pick the important battles and not sweat the small stuff.

When your love is deep and your commitment to each other is sure, you know you'll recover from unpleasant conversations and return to being "in sync", "on the same wave length", and "on the same page" again.

Crush du Jour: Tom Everett Scott

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sex, booze, drugs, gifts, and government contracts?

The following news story was sent to me via email by a friend. I was absolutely shocked that I'd not heard of this before.

Does anyone else have a problem with this? Why is it that anything Britney does becomes the lead story on every news and entertainment source, but something like this does not?

Gov't officials investigated for sex, gifts
By DINA CAPPIELLO, Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON - Government officials handling billions of dollars in oil royalties partied, had sex with and accepted golf and ski outings from employees of energy companies they were dealing with, federal investigators said Wednesday.

The alleged transgressions involve 13 former and current Interior Department employees in Denver and Washington. Their alleged improprieties include rigging contracts, working part-time as private oil consultants, and having sexual relationships with — and accepting golf and ski trips and dinners from — oil company employees, according to three reports released Wednesday by the Interior Department's inspector general.

The investigations reveal a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" by a small group of individuals "wholly lacking in acceptance of or adherence to government ethical standards," wrote Inspector General Earl E. Devaney, whose office spent more than two years and $5.3 million on the investigation.

"Sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length," Devaney said.

The reports describe a fraternity house atmosphere inside the Denver Minerals Management Service office responsible for marketing oil and natural gas that energy companies barter to the government in lieu of cash royalty payments for drilling on federal lands. The government received $4.3 billion in such royalty-in-kind payments last year. The oil and gas is then resold to energy companies or put in the nation's emergency stockpile.

"During the course of our investigation, we learned that some RIK employees frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives," the report said. Two government employees who had to spend the night after a daytime industry function because they were too intoxicated to drive home were commonly referred to by energy traders as the "MMS Chicks."

Between 2002 and 2006, nearly a third of the 55-person staff in the Denver office received gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies, including Chevron Corp., Shell, Hess Corp. and Denver-based Gary-Williams Energy Corp., the investigators found. Two oil marketers received gifts and gratuities on at least 135 occasions. One admitted having a one-night-stand with a Shell employee. That same individual allegedly passed out business cards for her sex toy business at work, bragging that her income from that business exceeded her salary at the Interior Department.

Devaney said the investigations took so long because Chevron refused to cooperate. An Interior Department official said Chevron would not allow investigators to interview its employees.

Don Campbell, a Chevron spokesman, said Wednesday that the company "produced all of the documents that the government requested months ago." A Shell spokeswoman said it would be premature for the company to comment on the report until it had time to review it.

The reports also said former head of the Denver royalty-in-kind office, Gregory W. Smith, used cocaine and had sex with subordinates. The report said Smith also steered government contracts to a consulting business that paid him $30,000 for his work from April 2002 through June 2003.

Smith retired from the office in May 2007.

Smith's attorney, Steve Peters, called the claims "sheer fantasy."

"Greg Smith was a loyal, dedicated employee of the federal government for more than 28 years," Peters said Wednesday. "His efforts in running the royalty-in-kind program resulted in one of the most profitable government programs in American history."

MMS Director Randall Luthi, in an interview, said the agency was taking the report "extremely seriously" and would review the allegations and weigh taking appropriate action in coming months. The inspector general is recommending that current employees implicated be fired and be barred for life from working within the royalty program.

House Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said "this whole IG report reads like a script from a television miniseries and one that cannot air during family viewing time. It is no wonder that the office was doing such a lousy job of overseeing the RIK program; clearly the employees had 'other' priorities in that office."

One of the employees named in the investigation, Jimmy Mayberry, already has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington to violations of conflict-of-interest laws. The Justice Department declined to prosecute Smith and former Associate Director of the Minerals Revenue Management program Lucy Querques Denett, who the report says manipulated contracts to ensure they were awarded to former Interior employees.

The findings are the latest sign of trouble at the Minerals Management Service, which already has been accused of mismanaging the collection of fees from oil companies and writing faulty contracts for drilling on government land and offshore. The charges also come as Congress and both presidential candidates are debating whether to open up more federal offshore waters to oil and natural gas drilling.

"This all shows the oil industry holds shocking sway over the administration and even key federal employees," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. "This is why we must not allow Big Oil's agenda to be jammed through Congress."

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., urged Democrats to reopen a House investigation of the Minerals Management Service that was initiated in 2006 by House Republicans. "Looking into and fixing these problems would have meant highlighting the enormous revenues that domestic oil and natural gas production contributes to our treasury. This just didn't fit into their anti-drilling campaign," he said.

While most government royalties for drilling on federal lands are paid in cash, the government in recent years has been receiving a greater share of its oil and gas royalties in the actual product. More of that oil is also being sold on the open market, versus being deposited in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the nation's emergency oil stockpile. Congress earlier this year passed a law halting deposits of oil to the reserve to help alleviate high gasoline prices.

The investigation was prompted by a 2006 phone call from an employee in the Denver office who reported ethical lapses.

Crush du Jour: Forrest Griffin

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chicago mulls high school for gays

My thoughts follow this article.

Chicago mulls gay high school
By 365gay Newscenter Staff

(Chicago, Illinois) Chicago school officials are considering a plan to create a separate high school for LGBT students, but the proposal is not without its detractors - both outside and within the gay community.

LGBT advocates hail the idea, but others warn the school would isolate gay students. Conservatives call the proposal a waste of taxpayer money.

A 2005 study commissioned by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network found that gay-bashing remains a major problem in the nation’s schools.

Three-quarters of students surveyed across America said that over the past year they heard derogatory remarks such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of 10 reported hearing “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay” - meaning stupid or worthless - frequently or often.

Over a third of students said they experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter on the basis of their gender expression.

Nearly one-in-five students reported they had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth because of their gender expression.

The study also showed that bullying has a negative impact on learning.

LGBT students were five times more likely to report having skipped school in the last month because of safety concerns than did the general population of students.

Nevertheless, some LGBT community leaders say a separate school for gay students could give them a false sense of security and make them unprepared for life outside schoolhouse walls.

If we’re going to set up a separate school, let’s put the bullies in the school and not our gays kids,” Rick Garcia, public policy director of Equality Illinois told the Chicago Tribune. “Kids should be able to go to school in a safe environment wherever they are.”

Conservatives call the proposal for the school a misuse of public funds and charge it would require administrators to take a moral stance on homosexuality.

The plan must still undergo a series of public hearings - the first is set for Sept. 18. It then would require approval by a Chicago Public Schools evaluation team with the final decision up to the head of the school system, Arne Duncan.

The earliest it could be up and running would be 2012.

The first all-gay high school in the U.S. opened in New York City in 2003, and is named for slain San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk.

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While I think it would be totally fun for gay kids to be in school only with other gay kids, I don't think it is a good idea to separate them from the general student population because they are the victims of bullying.

Rather than separating gay students to ensure a safe environment for them, the schools need to take seriously the idea of school bullying and implement measure to reduce it.

Too often school officials scoff and snicker at bullying, suggesting "kids will be kids", as if bullying (for any reason) is expected, and therefore understandable or acceptable. They chalk it up to 'hormones' and 'typical teenage behaviors', but I believe this is just an excuse for inaction. They would likely feel differently if their own child was the victim of bullying.

Rather than spending millions on a new school for gay students, why not use that money to install video cameras in the existing schools which will help administrators monitor bullying and take action against it. Students who know they are "on camera" may decided against inappropriate behavior.

I believe schools need to adopt a 'zero tolerance' policy for bullying.

First offenders should be suspended for a day. Second offenders should be suspended and sent to mandatory counseling. Repeat offenders should be expelled for the rest of the term.

I believe that if these penalties for bullying are communicated first and then implemented, students will think twice about beating up an effeminate boy while calling him a faggot.

Crush du Jour: Jason Shane Scott

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mama Mia and other films

Earlier this week Spouse & I joined our friends Dave & Scott at the theatre to see "Mama Mia - The Singalong Version". Its the film "Mama Mia", but with the lyrics of the songs at the bottom of the screen, changing color when they are to be sung, like karaoke. Audiences are encouraged to sing along.

This sounded like a lot of fun, for several reasons. Spouse & I both love Abba music. We saw Mama Mia in Las Vegas (from 5th row seats) on my birthday in 2004. I have sung karaoke several times. See? It seemed like the perfect recipe for a campy, gay ol' time!

Only, it wasn't.

Maybe it was my fault for agreeing to go on a Tuesday night. There were only about 12 people in the theatre, and only 2 of them appeared to be gay, excluding the 4 of us. We should have gotten a big group of queens together and gone to see it on a Fri or Sat night. We sang along to some of the songs, but I didn't hear anyone else singing. It just seemed like one of those great, fun ideas that somehow just didn't turn out.

We still had a good time, but not the campy, gay ol' time I was expecting. Now, about the movie...

All the actors were too old for the characters they portrayed except Sophie and Sky. Meryl Streep is supposed to be this early 40's single mom whose 20 year old daughter is getting married. Only Meryl Streep is 59, not in her early 40's. Same goes for the 3 possible fathers, whom we would assume are close to the same age, early 40's. But they're not, they're 57, 55, and 48.

Normally I wouldn't get all hung up on the age thing, but the songs, dialog, and choreography were all designed for actors in their early 40's, so it almost borders on comical to hear and see these older actors saying and doing this stuff.

And who committed the tragedy against the world of telling Pearce Brosnan that he could sing? Sweet baby Jesus, that was bad. Couldn't they have cast an actor (closer to his early 40's) who could actually sing?

But the music was fun, and the Grecian setting was absolutely beautiful. I doubt this film will win any awards, but it was cute, and I bet the actors had an absolute ball making it.

Speaking of films, I recently came across AfterElton.com's list of 50 greatest gay male films. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that "Brokeback Mountain" took the top spot, although it is not my favorite. The #1 spot on my list would be "Torch Song Trilogy". Other surprises to me were that "Priscilla: Queen of the Dessert" came in at #10, and "Too Wong Fu: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" came in at #27. I would have ranked them both in the top 5.

So if your Netflix queue is nearly empty and you want to restock it with some good gay films, check out the list.


Crush du Jour: Will Fennell








Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gay police and service members

My comments follow this brief article.

Italian gay cops to stage mass coming out
By 365gay Newscenter Staff

(Rome) Gay police officers throughout Italy who publicly have remained closeted are planning a mass coming out after the Milan force announced it was investigating a cop who had won a gay beauty contest.

Fabrizio Caiazza, 33, won the “Sex Factor” online contest organized by the British gay website Gaydarnation, beating out 46,000 contenders from 162 countries and winning a $20,000 prize.
In his submission, Caiazza posed in his police uniform. A spokesperson for the Milan police said Caiazza did not seek permission to appear in the uniform or to enter the contest. The traffic cop is under investigation for bringing “discredit to the force.” If convicted, he could be sanctioned, fined or fired.

Milan’s deputy mayor, Riccardo De Corato, said Caiazza will likely receive a slap on the wrist.

But Caiazza says the entire investigation is tainted with homophobia and will result in gay officers staying in the closet out of fear.

“Many policemen don’t come out because of the enmity they would face from colleagues and the isolation they would be put in by superiors,” he told Britain’s Observer newspaper.

The investigation has prompted the formation of Italy’s first organization for LGBT cops, called Polis Aperta.

The group will hold its first meeting on Sept. 26 and organizer Nicola Cicchitti says dozens of gay cops will come out publicly at the meeting.

“We’re coming out against creeping discrimination,” Cicchitti told the Observer, adding that the organization already has about 200 members.

Cicchitti said the group will seek official recognition from the government.

The idea won the backing of Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender former member of the Italian parliament.
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It really bothers me that gay people in most professions can be 'out' without fear of losing their jobs or being treated unfairly while Americans in the military and Italian police officers can not.
Is it because 'gays can't be trusted with guns'?

I don't think so. In America anyone with no criminal record can legally purchase a gun and not be asked to disclose their sexual orientation. So why can't military service members and police officers be 'out'?

I think it is a matter of trust and respect. Bigots have gotten the crazy idea that gay military service members 'pose a national security risk', so they can not be trusted. Since they can not be trusted, they certainly do not deserve respect and fair treatment.

What about a person being gay would make them any more risky or any less trustworthy? Nothing I can think of. But I imagine that there are lots of things about alcoholics, wife abusers, and drug addicts that make them more risky and less trustworthy, but those things don't seem to matter to the bigots.

Its the same kind of bigotry that allowed the US government to pass DOMA in 1996. Exactly what did marriage need to be protected from? Gays? Hardly, since gays were unable to legally marry in the US in 1996. With the national divorce rate so high, it would appear that marriage needs to be protected from is divorce.

In reality the treatment of Italian police officers and American military service members has nothing to do with posing a 'national security risk', being 'untrustworthy', or 'discrediting the force', but has everything to do with discrimination by bigots in power.

That is why the way we vote is so important. Let's not elect anymore bigots.

Crush du Jour: Pete Sampras