Monday, February 27, 2006

I'm back!

Okay, okay - I know its been an unusually long time between postings, and that my adoring audience (both of you) have been waiting with baited breath. Here's what happened:

The weekend before last Joe & I worked a 1/2 day on Fri and then went to the beach. We didn't have a lot planned, mostly the usual visits to Wal-Mart, K-Mart, the most fabulous Dollar Tree on the east coast - our routine rounds. K-Mart was running a winter clearance sale and I picked up not one but two 100% cotton button-up shirts marked $2. And if that wasn't terrific enough, when I went to pay for them, the cashier took an addition 30% off of the $2., making the shirts $1.40 each! I'm not going to describe what they look like so that readers who see me won't be able to say "Oh, I see you're wearing your $1.40 shirt today..." It will be my little secret when I wear them.

Joe & I went to see "Capote" at the Midway Theatre. We thought it was pretty good. Unlike what I thought, it was not a biography of Truman Capote. It really focused on a few years in the late 1950s-early 1960s when he wrote the book 'In Cold Blood'. The actor who played Capote, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, did a good job emulating Capote's voice and body language. Guess that's why he won the Golden Globe for best actor in a drama.

We also rented three films while we were up at the beach. "The grizzly Man" was sort of a documentary about Timothy Treadwell, the man who went to Alaska to live in the wild and be with the grizzly bears for 13 summers in a row... until he and his girlfriend were eaten by one of the bears. Treadwell had illusions of grandeur, saying he had to "protect" the grizzly bears, who were living in a protected state sanctuary. He admitted in the film that he had difficulty making it in human society and really preferred living in the wild with the bears. Yeah, a few screws loose. Don't bother renting this film if you get A&E on your cable, because its been on A&E a few times.

We rented "Waiting...", which I found to be rather funny. Its about this group of waiters and waitresses that work for a fictitious restaurant called Shennanigans, a knock-off of Bennigans, TGIFridays, Ruby Tuesdays, and Applebees. There are all kinds of antics involving men's genitalia (who wouldn't love that?) as well as server retaliation to difficult patrons. Definitely not appropriate for children or adults who didn't appreciate the TV show 'Jackass'.

Finally, we rented "Must Love Dogs", which I also liked. Its pretty much a 'chick flick' but I thought it had some good moments. John Cusak plays a rather 'intense' character, and the ever-so-handsome Dermot Mulrooney also plays one of Diane Lane's love interests. It was cute.

Although it was a 3-day weekend for us, we headed home Sun evening so we would have Mon to get some things done around the house. We cleaned, put things away, did laundry, and I pulled up the carpet, padding, tack strips and staples from the floor of the vestibule, in front of the bathroom door, TV room door, linen closet door, and guest bedroom door. It felt good to get stuff done.

Then... is when it happened. I was online, checking out some blogs, reading email, and surfing the net when I started getting messages about "critical error" and "your PC has been infected with spyware" and "your personal information such as credit card numbers are extremely vulnerable". Yep, I'd been infected with spyware. It brought my PC, which is on a highspeed cable connection, to a snail's pace. I began by running my McAfee anti-virus program, which removed some stuff, but none of the spyware. I also found some spyware that masquerades as online security features loaded on my PC. For the next several days I ran several free scans, but none of them could remove the spyware. Finally, a week later, I purchased and ran spyware Doctor, which successfully removed all of the spyware from my machine. Fortunately I didn't loose any information, and I also decided to take the time to uninstall some programs I don't use that were taking up space on my machine. So that's why the long time between posts. I believe I am now virus and spyware free.

This passed weekend we got together with the Newlyweds for dinner and to go bowling! I can't tell you the last time I went bowling, but I think it might have been in 1999, as a team building activity with my (then) work mates. Jamie had a coupon and had called ahead to see if there were any leagues. We were told to come anytime after 9. On the way to the bowling alley we called for more specific directions and found that the location printed on the coupon was closed! He'd been talking to someone from another alley in a totally different town. So we scrapped the coupon idea and headed over to the bowling alley we knew. Once inside we were amazed that every single bowler was Asian. It was like someone had declared it 'National Asian Bowling Day' or something. We asked the young woman at the counter about getting a lane and she told us there were none open, and she didn't think there'd be any coming open until 11:30 at the earliest. So we decided to try bowling another time. Somewhat dejected, we thought a consolation dessert was in order, so we went to the Silver Diner. We had our desserts and decafs and discussed careers, success, and how we feel about ourselves. I couldn't believe how quickly the night passed. By the time we got home it was after 1am.

I was inspired by the carpet removal in the vestibule, and decided to take on the last of the wall-to-wall carpet removal: the foyer and hallway. Its not hard or strenuous work, its just uncomfortable. You're sitting on the floor, prying up tack strips and staples, trying not to scratch the floors. Its an uncomfortable position and really made my lower back and legs ache. But alas! There is no more wall-to-wall carpet in our house. After sweeping and vacuuming up the dust and debris for Joe, I talked him into mopping the newly exposed floors. Its really changed the look of the area. The carpet was an dingy off white, which although dingy, gave a light look to the foyer and hallway. Now that the natural colored wood is exposed, its not quite as bright as before. But the wood is real, and gives the house a more authentic look and feel, in my opinion. Our house was built in 1954, so we're fortunate: the entire house has tongue and groove hardwood floors.

Joe & I got together with my aunt for dinner, then went back to her place and looked through a box of old family photos. It was great! Although most of the photos were from the 50s and later, there were some photos taken in the 1800s, of my great, great grandparents. We had a really good time looking through the photos and learning about my long-gone relatives. When we were finished with the box, my aunt said we'd only seen the tip of the iceberg. She said she had at least 5 more boxes, all larger than the one we'd looked through. We decided to save those for another time.

Monday, February 13, 2006

New do

Got my hair cut this evening.

I was about 2 weeks overdue, and feeling a little shaggy, but I'd purposely let my hair grow out while I considered a new do. Finally I decided... on a 'fauxhawk'.

'Fauxhawk' rhymes with 'mohawk', and the cut is kinda similar, but a fauxhawk is far more stylish and far less rebellious. Its not shaved on the sides. Fauxhawks are very "in" right now. I like it.

This photo is not actually of me, but it looks just like my new do.



All day and all night Fri, the only thing you heard on the news and weather forecasts was snow, snow, SNOW!

Typically in the metro DC area we get several predictions of snow in the winter. Most of the time the hype is worse than the storm. The news channels start reporting about "Blizzard '06" and "Storm Watch 9" before the first flakes have fallen. This was no exception.

Originally they said the snow would start in the early morning on Sat, then by Fri evening it was revised to starting around noon. I believe I started seeing flurries around noon, but it was still 37 degrees outside so it wasn't sticking. We went out and ran some errands.

Finally around 4:30 the snow changed from flurries to real snow, just as the temperature went down enough that the snow started to stick. Within a few hours it was gorgeous outside. But when I went to bed Sat night it appeared to be only 2-3 inches on the ground.

Sun morning it was a different story. It must have continued snowing all night long, and with the temperature being near or below freezing, it really began to pile up. I estimate we got about a foot of snow by 10:30 Sun morning when I went outside to join my neighbors who were already shoveling their sidewalks.

It was a dry, light snow that hung in the trees. It was just beautiful outside. I spent about an hour and a half shoveling the sidewalk that leads from our front porch to the main sidewalk, the main sidewalk in front of our house and our next door neighbor with the bad hip's house, and our driveway. It was great to hear the distant laughs and screams of kids sledding and sliding down the hill in the street on the next block up.

But today my back muscles were contesting! They weren't used to that kind of workout. But I'm not sorry. It is the kind of soreness that reminds you its good to be alive and well enough to be able to shovel... and enjoy that blanket of white.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Super Bowl

In honor of the super bowl this past Sun, Mad TV ran this hilarious skit on Sat night. Enjoy!!

Polar Bear Plunge

Fri night we went to the beach. After picking up a few breakfast items at the grocery store, I made myself a mango martini. I saw this great selection of Rose's cocktail mixes at the grocery store, and was drawn in by the ease and simplicity: just mix equal parts of cocktail mix and vodka! So I bought mango martini mix and watermelon martini mix. What a lovely and civilized way to end the work week.

On Sat we ran a few errands and then had lunch at the Dirty Finger. Its not really named the Dirty Finger, but that's what we like to call it. After having a very enjoyable and reasonably priced lunch and dinner there over the summer, we mentioned the place to our friends Doug & Jim. Jim's parents lived in Rehoboth until recently, and Jim told us they'd been there with his folks. Turns out the waitress who served them had dirt under her fingernails, which grossed them out. Jim couldn't finish his meal. So from that point on, we began calling it the Dirty Finger. Just before finishing our lunch, Kerry & Hugh called to tell us they had arrived.

Kerry, Hugh, George, Kelly, Anna, Aaron, Emely, and Javier came up Sat afternoon. Several of them had registered to participate in the Polar Bear Plunge, the annual fundraising event where people run out in the ocean and back. Each participant must pay a $50. registration fee (hence the fundraiser) and many also collect donations from friends, family, and co-workers. Proceeds go to Special Olympics. They tried to convince me and Joe to participate, but we told them we'd love to but someone had to take pictures and film it with their videocamera. (Clever, aren't we?) After several hours of enjoyable chatting and laughing, we ordered pizzas from Grotto's and settled in Sat night to watch "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" It was a hoot!

Sun morning we had a late breakfast, sat around and chewed the fat some more, then headed over to the beach for the Plunge. It was only about 48 degrees outside and it was kind of windy - exactly what you DON'T want when you're wet. But they had a good time. After the Plungers had showers, we had a very late lunch at the Blue Plate Diner, then everyone packed up and made their way home. It was a fun weekend!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Brokeback Mountain revisited

I found the following quotes to be quite curious:

"I don't think Ennis could be labeled as gay. Without Jack Twist, I don't know that he ever would have come out. I think the whole point was that it was two souls that fell in love with each other." --Heath Ledger.

"I approached the story believing that these were two straight guys who fall in love. These are two straight guys who develop this love, this bond." --Jake Gyllenhaal.

Okay, I saw the movie, and liked it. And I know a thing or two about what gay men are and what gay men do, and these two definitely acted like gay men. Let's break this down a bit.

Although Ledger may feel his character Ennis could not be labeled as gay, apparently Hollywood does, because everyone keeps talking about "Brokeback Mountain, the movie about two gay cowboys". Ledger tries to prove his point about not labeling Ennis as gay by saying that without Jack Twist entering the picture, Ennis would never have come out. Well, even WITH Jack Twist in the picture, Ennis never "came out". Their entire relationship was hidden as best they could. Besides, sheep herders in Wyoming in the 1960s-70s probably didn't "come out" even if they had a steady co-habitation with their male partner. I don't think I've ever heard of two souls of straight men falling in love with each other. Straight men have best friends, but they don't have sex with them. A man who's soul falls in love with another man is called gay.

I'm very surprised that Gyllenhaal sees the story as two straight guys who fall in love. If two men fall in love with each other, doesn't that pretty much make them not straight? Once again, straight men have best friends with whom they connect and in whom they confide, but they don't lie to their wives so they can sneak off and have sex with their friend. The idea that they had this great love and great bond is a wonderful idea. I know because I, too, have a great love and a great bond with my partner. And we're both gay.

Remember too, when Ennis & Jack's "fishing trip" is cancelled because Ennis has his daughters that weekend? Jack gets mad, drives across the boarder into Mexico and has sex with a male prostitute. If he weren't gay, wouldn't he have just found a female prostitute with whom to have sex? That's what a straight man would have done.

Then toward the end of the movie when Ennis is visiting Jack's parents he learns that Jack had told his father than he and another man might buy a neighboring ranch and help his dad out. This was the same offer he had made to Ennis many years before. If Jack were straight, why would he fall in love with another man, have sex with a male prostitute, and dream of setting up housekeeping with another man?

Now wait a minute, you might be thinking. Both characters got married to women and had children. That's what straight men do. That's also what some gay men do before they accept themselves and start living authentically. I know plenty of gay men who got married in the hopes of 'curing' themselves, or to please their parents, or to fit into society better. Let's face it, if you CAN be straight, you've got a much easier life ahead of you. But many finally learn to accept that they are gay and stop living a false life with their wife and children. But that is more common for men in the last 15-20 years, much later than the characters in Brokeback Mountain.

I don't find fault with the movie at all. To me it is clear that these are two gay men who did what they could in order to see each other, while living in a largely straight society. The movie is what it is: a story about two gay cowboys. So, why do these two actors (Ledger and Gyllenhaal) think their characters weren't gay, when everyone else knows they were? Could it be because they think Americans are so sophisticated that they can actually understand the difference between gay men and two straight men who fall in love? Is it because they don't want to be stigmatized by having played "gay"? Do they think that two straight men who fall in love with each other is just more palatable a concept?

We'll probably never know the answers to those questions. But here's what I do know: Jack and Ennis were gay. And I should know.