Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dental drama: the recovery

Thanks to everyone for their well wishes! My tooth extraction went relatively well, although the recovery was not what I expected. Perhaps I should start from the beginning.
As I suspected, I had to fill out 5 pages of forms (several requiring duplicate info from each other) before being called to the back. My 1st stop was in the xray room for a quick xray of my mouth. Within seconds the xray appeared on a computer screen mounted on the wall. No more developing of xray films. Pretty cool!

Then I was taken back to the room where the procedure would take place. An assistant swabbed my gum with a topical anesthetic so I wouldn't feel the needle when the novacaine was administered. I swear they gave me 6 shots of novacaine, but I didn't mind. I really didn't want to feel anything, if you know what I mean.

Within 10 seconds of receiving the novacaine I suddenly became very hot and dizzy. I started fanning myself with a piece of paper, which clued the assistant that something odd was happening. She looked at me, noted the sweat beads on my forehead, and asked "Are you alright, hon?" I told her yes, but that I was hot. I could feel myself sweating like crazy.

The assistant tilted the chair back so my head and legs were at the same height, while another assistant placed an oxygen mask over my nose. She instructed me to take deep breaths in, and then to exhale through my mouth, which I did. The dizziness subsided and the 2nd assistant began patting my forehead, face, and neck with cool, damp paper towels.

Again I was asked if I was okay and I responded that I was. They assured me there was no reason to worry, and that it wasn't uncommon for people to have a similar reaction to novacaine. The oral surgeon came in and asked if I was ready for him to begin. I said yes.

One of the assistants kept my mouth pulled wide open while the doctor worked at removing the tooth and sewing up the gum. I swear you could have driven an 18-wheeler in my mouth, it was stretched open so wide. It probably took less than 5 minutes, although the tooth did give him a little trouble. The procedure was shorter than I'd imagined, and I felt no pain or discomfort before or during.

The oral surgeon instructed me to bite down on a wad of gauze until I got home, and the assistant gave me an instruction sheet of post-op instructions. I drove directly to the pharmacy (in my sweat-dampened clothes) to have the antibiotic and vicodine prescriptions filled. I almost didn't get the vicodine filled, as I assumed 3 ibuprofen would probably be as good. But since the prescription was so inexpensive with my insurance, I decided to get it filled.

When I got home I read the post-op instructions and removed the gauze. I could tell my gum was still bleeding so I put more gauze in and bit down hard like the instructions said. I had to repeat this 3 more times over approximately 2 hours before the bleeding stopped. I took the antibiotic and watched some TV. I didn't take any pain reliever since I had no pain. Yet.

After watching TV for a while I felt like the novacaine had worn off all the sudden. It was weird how all the sudden I started feeling pain in my mouth, so I took a vicodine and expected to 'get high'. About an hour later I was disappointed that I had not yet felt any pain relief, and I wondered how prescription drug abusers could possibly abuse vicodine. I considered taking another, but decided to follow the instructions on the bottle that indicated 1 pill within 4 hours. Finally the pain began to subside. I ate a small cup of pomegranate apple sauce for dinner.

Before bed I took my 2nd antibiotic and vicodine, and placed a glass of water and another vicodine on my nightstand in case I needed it during the night. At 5:00 am I woke up in pain so I took the vicodine and went back to sleep.

Wed morning I got up at 8:00 and took my 3rd antibiotic, then went downstairs to eat something, figuring drugs on an empty stomach probably wasn't a good idea. I had 2 more cups of pomegranate apple sauce but suddenly became very hot and nauseous. I really felt like I was going to hurl, so I quickly lied down on the sofa in the family room and closed my eyes. I was hot and clammy so I opened my robe to allow the ceiling fan to cool me. I felt wave and wave of nausea. Each time I tried to sit up I felt like I was going to blow chunks.

After an hour and a 1/2 of that, I couldn't hold back the inevitable any longer. I jumped up and ran to the closest bathroom, covering my mouth tightly with my hand. The 1st heave came up but I kept it in my mouth until I got to the toilet, then opened my mouth as the 2nd heave came. I puked a few more times, then cautiously rinsed my mouth out. (My post-op instructions called for "no rinsing or spitting within 24 hours to prevent the clot from being dislodged" and cause bleeding again.)

For a few minutes after puking I felt okay. I fed the dog and let her out in the front lawn to pee. I tried to figure out if I'd lost the antibiotic with the apple sauce or not, and decided I should try and eat something else to prevent my stomach from being empty.

I slowly ate 1/2 a dinner role and tried to drink some water, since the antibiotic label encouraged drinking "plenty of water". But the extreme nausea and dizziness returned, so I returned to the sofa in the TV room for relief. Again I lied there sweating through waves and waves of nausea for another hour, until I could no longer postpone the inevitable.

Since I'd not planned to call in sick, I didn't have my phone handy. It was upstairs in my office. I decided I'd make a 'run for it' up the stairs so I could toss my cookies again and get my phone. It was a much longer distance this time, and I was not completely successful.

The 1st heave came after I'd gotten up the stairs but was still running down the hallway. Again I pressed my hand tightly over my mouth to hold it in until I could get to the toilet. I was just entering the bathroom when the 2nd heave came, and there was no more room in my mouth. I sprayed vomit onto my hand, arm, robe, floor, and wall, then leaned my head into the sink and let 'er rip a few more times.

Again, after hurling I felt better for a few minutes so I rinsed my mouth, quickly wiped up the floor and wall, put on a different robe, and grabbed my phone before returning to the sofa in the TV room downstairs. I called a colleague who's number I had memorized and asked her to notify my boss I'd be out sick today.

This time the nausea and dizziness didn't return. But instead of sweating, I kept alternating between being hot and chilly. I'd open my robe to cool off, then cover myself back up because I was chilly. After a few hours my body temperature seemed to stabilize and I just watched TV the rest of the day and night.

Spouse came home early, and after I recounted to him my morning's activities, he offered to go to the store to get me whatever I wanted/needed. I asked for some chocolate pudding, as I thought it would be easy to eat. He also brought me some chocolate covered wafers that were easy to chew. Although I wasn't having pain in my mouth, I'd been instructed not to chew anything on the side where the sutures were, and my jaw was still sore from being pried open by the assistant.

Bravo was running a Project Runway marathon, showing the complete season I'd missed, with Santino, Daniel, and Chloe so I enjoyed watching that for many hours back-to-back.

Before going to bed I took my 4th antibiotic with a big glass of water. Fortunately this morning I woke up feeling pretty close to 'normal', with the exception of some swelling, which the post-op instructions indicated was normal. I had a cup of apple sauce and took my 5th antibiotic, then got to work. Fortunately yesterday was a rather slow day so I didn't get too behind in my work.

The sutures will disintegrate in 5-7 days and the swelling should go down before then. I'm looking forward to being able to chew on both sides of my mouth again one day soon. I've lost 5 lbs so far.

Crush du Jour: Steve Jones

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hot off the press

So, today is the day I get my tooth extracted. Although I have an irrational fear of all dentistry, I'm sort of relieved this is finally happening today. For the last 9 days I've had to chew all my food on 1 side of my mouth, for fear of breaking off the remains of the fragile shell of a tooth. I've been very fortunate not to have any pain, so that is definitely worth acknowledging.

My appointment is at 2:45, where I will 1st have to fill out countless forms promising to pay any and all charges not covered by my dental insurance. I may get in to see the oral surgeon around 3:00. But I've been told the procedure is pretty fast. They'll numb me with a few shots of Novocaine, extract the offending tooth, and voila - I'm done! Wish me luck.

A friend sent me these headlines from actual press outlets that made me laugh! Enjoy.

Crush du Jour: Ryan LeBar

Monday, July 28, 2008

Greg & Gerry

Our friends Greg & Gerry arrived at about 5:30 on Fri, and we sat and talked with them for an hour until it was time to meet 'the usual suspects' for dinner. Greg & Gerry enjoyed meeting and talking with our local friends, and we all had a good time. Unfortunately dinner was slightly less enjoyable for me since I am still having to chew everything on 1 side of my mouth, thanks to that damn shell of a tooth. It also takes me twice as long to eat. Fortunately tomorrow afternoon I will have it taken care of.

Since the weather was absolutely gorgeous Fri night the 4 of us decided to go for a walk once we'd returned from dinner. We walked into town, then across the canal bridge and down to the bay, stopping at the Dairy Queen for dessert. I didn't order anything, since I am trying not to expose my tooth to cold foods. My tooth doesn't hurt, but I'm afraid that ice cream might make it hurt, so I've been abstaining since last Mon. We sat on a bench overlooking the bay, dug our feet into the cool sand, and the 3 of them ate their ice cream before we headed back home. It was an incredibly beautiful night!
Sat we had breakfast and then caught up on each others lives. Greg & Gerry told us all about the 12 day Mediterranean cruise they went on in May, which reminded me yet again that Spouse & I really haven't traveled together much at all. Both of us have wanted to, but our money always seems to be tied up in real estate.

1996-2000 we spent fixing and painting our 1st house and updating our condo that was a rental. 2000-2004 we spent fixing and painting our 2nd house, selling the condo, buying another condo, and remodeling it before renting it, and furnishing our vintage mobile home at the beach. In 2005 we sold the mobile home at the beach and bought the townhouse at the beach. In 2006 we remodeled the kitchen and bath and and refinished the wood floors in our house. In 2007 we moved to the beach and made our former house a rental. There never seemed to be any money for travelling. Hopefully that will change in a few months!

After lunch the 4 of us went to the beach where we were joined by Rick & Nick. It was a beautiful day! There was a great breeze and the humidity was very low. I couldn't believe how quickly the time passed.

We all took showers and then drove into Rehoboth Beach for dinner at Shag. Shag just opened Memorial Day weekend and none of the 4 of us had been there before. Their tag line reads "Hip Food, Groovy Cocktails". The inside dining area is extremely small but is decorated with wonderfully funky 70s decor. Think Austin Powers meets Saturday Night Fever. The courtyard dining area is likely 4 times the size of the inside dining area, and since it was a beautiful evening we chose to dine outside. They play all the great 70s songs you remember, and some you'd forgotten you knew. Someone at nearly every table was bobbing their head or shimmy-shaking to the infectious disco beats. Being lovers of the disco age, the 4 of us were in hog heaven! Shag's menu contains mostly 1/2 portions so you can order 2 or 3 different things and not be stuffed. The lagostino macaroni and cheese was far out! So were the 'Atomic Age' cocktails I had. (Yes, that was plural, as in cocktails.) The prices were surprisingly reasonable for downtown Rehoboth standards, and we really liked it a lot. I can definitely see Spouse & I returning there.

After dinner we went for a great stroll along the boardwalk, then met up with Rick & Nick at the Purple Parrot for karaoke. However, it was already 10:30 (karaoke starts at 9:00) and the place was jam-packed. Spouse really didn't want to go in since he hates being squished in crowds, so we waited outside while Greg checked to see if there were a lot of people waiting to sing. There were, so we decided not to go in. I was rather disappointed, since I'd been eager to sing all week.

Rick suggested we try the new dance club Ovations, which also opened very recently, since there is no cover charge. (That will likely change once the club is open a while.) Its in the basement of a huge old church, but you'd never know it once inside. Some of the guys ordered drinks, we all danced at some point or another, but mostly watched others dance. It was way too loud to have any kind of conversation. We stayed about an hour, until Greg & Gerry appeared ready to go.

Sun Spouse made a big breakfast and, again, we sat around most of the morning talking. About 1:30 Greg & Gerry left for the beach and Spouse & I got ready to go to a cookout. The sky looked threatening, but it didn't begin to rain until nearly 5:00. We got a brief shower as we drove back home to meet Greg & Gerry. Then at 6:30 after Spouse had taken the dog outside, he informed them they had '2 minutes until the rain was gonna hit'. But instead of heeding his warming, they stood at the door talking to us for several more minutes. Just as they were about to walk out the door to load their junk into their car, the sky opened up and it poured. They left, and it rained rather hard for about 2 hours while I watched TV and Spouse surfed the internet.

Here's the weird thing about Greg & Gerry: They're really nice guys and we like them, but they kind of drive us crazy! Often their 'stories' are full of details that no one cares about, and if 1 of them thinks the other has made a mistake recounting a detail, the other will correct him. Here's an example:

Greg: "...and then my aunt Jean got offended and hit my cousin over the head with her crocodile purse!"
Gerry: "Not over the head, she hit him on the shoulder."
Greg: "I thought she hit him on the head. She swung that big old crocodile purse and hit him on the head."
Gerry: "No, she hit him on the shoulder. Remember? He had stood up by then and aunt Jean was still sitting down. There's no way she could have hit him on the head if he was standing up and she was sitting down. She hit him on the shoulder. And it wasn't her crocodile purse, it was that god-ugly lime green bag."
Greg: "But she always carries that crocodile purse..."
Gerry: "Not this time. She had that god-ugly lime green bag that looks like a beach bag."

Honestly, we really don't care. It was mildly funny to hear that his aunt hit his cousin with a purse. It became less and less funny as they debated where she hit him and what color the purse was. It doesn't matter. But they seem intent on representing the facts (as they respectively recall them) as accurately as possible.

Here's another thing they do that drives me nuts: they start a 2nd conversation while the primary conversation is still in progress. Just the 4 of us were together and Gerry was telling some hideously long story. He looked at both Spouse & me at some point, but then looked at Spouse as he continued. While Gerry is still talking, Greg starts talking and looking at me! He seems completely unaware that Gerry is still talking and that I was listening to him. So although there are only 4 people in the room, there are 2 simultaneous conversations going on, and I can't pay attention to either one of them. I can't imagine why neither of them thinks this is rude or annoying. This happened a few times, and finally I put my hands up in the air and said "Whoa, whoa, whoa - I can't listen to both of you at the same time. You (pointing at Gerry) go ahead." Gerry edited the rest of his story down to just 2 more sentences, and then I pointed to Greg and said "Okay, now you."

Another weird thing Greg did was ask me on Sun if Jordan and Pouncer (our dog and cat) got along. I wanted to say "You've been to our house for birthday parties, holiday parties, and dinner parties many times over the last 10 years, and have interacted with both Jordan and Pouncer nearly every time. You've commented about how much you like the photo on the mantel of Jordan and Pouncer sharing a pet bed. You've seen them both in the same room at the same time and pet them both within the last two days. Why on earth would you ask me now if they get along?" But instead I simply said "Oh yes, they've been buddies for years."

When Spouse & I talked about them we decided that we really like them, but in smaller doses. Ideally we would meet them for dinner on 1 of our weekends back in VA rather than having them stay with us for an entire weekend. But they wanted to go to the beach so it made sense to have them stay with us.

Crush du Jour: Drew Fuller

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday's grab bag of topics

When we go to the beach I normally wear my ratty old flip flops from the car to the entrance of the beach, because the asphalt parking lot can be quite hot. Once at the entrance of the beach I usually kick off my flip flops and leave them off to the side, so as not to flip sand up the back of my legs as I walk in the sand. I've been doing this longer than I can remember. But last Sun someone stole my ratty old flip flops! I couldn't believe anyone would want them. They were 100 years old, and not a fancy name brand. So I replaced them with a pair of navy Crocs knock-offs that cost $6.
Our friends Greg & Gerry are arriving this evening from VA for a visit. We met them about 10 years ago, standing in line at the Reel Affirmations GLBT film festival in DC. They were nice and we chatted until it was time to go in and take our seats. Then about a month later we saw them at a gay couples social event, got reacquainted, became friends, and have been friends since. We don't have a lot planned during their visit, but they want to join us and 'the usual suspects' for our regular Fri Night Dinner, which will be fun. I know they want to go to the beach on Sat so that should be fun, too. Greg likes to sing karaoke, as do I, so maybe we'll invite a few other friends and go to the Purple Parrot for karaoke and cocktails Sat night. That will really be fun!
Estelle Geddy died on Tues at the age of 84. Probably best known for her TV role as Sophia on 'Golden Girls', but did you also remember she played the department store owner in the film 'Mannequin'? She would have been 85 today. "Picture it: Heaven, 2008..."
You've got to check out this video from Jay Smooth! I love his quote: "When we find ourselves believing that killing a man makes us more of a man, but loving a man makes us less of a man, it's probably time to re-examine our criteria for manhood." I couldn't agree more. Check his blog for other good stuff. I think he's sexy.
Phyllis Diller celebrated her 91st birthday on Mon. You GO, girl! I remember watching Phyllis Diller on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when I was a kid. I still think she's among the top funniest comedians. Despite her age she still remains current, as the link to the article above shows. She said "I went to a gay wedding and I caught the jockstrap. In San Francisco, a mixed marriage is a man and woman!"
I read a really sad story about a 53 year old woman who faxed a suicide note to her mortgage company just hours before the auction of her foreclosed home. She also left a note for her husband, who was unaware of the foreclosure, instructing him to use her life insurance money to pay off the house. Obviously there is more to this story than the sub-prime mortgage debacle. This woman apparently had some mental health issues which may have been aggravated by the foreclosure. Be happy if you have your mental health. Others are not so lucky.

Everyone is aware of rainwater collection from gutters. Since our home is a Victorian reproduction it has no gutters. So I recently began to harvest water from our home's air conditioning system. Every a/c system removes humidity from the air and produces water. Some systems vent the water to a drain. Ours vents the water through a pipe to the outside of our home. I decided to put a plastic bowl under the pipe and see how much water was harvested. I was amazed that the 10-cup bowl was overflowing in just a couple hours! I used the bowl of water to water our roses and shrubs. On Wed it was around 90 degrees, which meant the a/c was running more, which meant more water was produced, which allowed me to water the plants 4 times that day. I much prefer this method of watering than dragging out the hose.
Remember this story about the SC "so gay" tourism campaign that got pulled? The State has refused to pay the ad agency for the campaign because the State's Dept of Parks, Rec, and Tourism claimed the campaign had been approved by a 'low-level employee'. This only occurred after Gov Sanford and other politicians began making a big noise about the gay-orientated tourism campaign. As I suspected, that wasn't true. The campaign had been approved at a high level. Perhaps the State regrets its decision to approve the campaign. But in my opinion it shouldn't lie about the approval, and should still pay the bill for services rendered.
Lynda Carter celebrated her 57th birthday yesterday and still looks fantastic. As a young gay boy I loved her tv show 'Wonder Woman'. My friend Billy waited on her as she and her son shopped in the boys dept at Nordstrom years ago. She paid by credit card and he kept a carbon copy of the receipt with her signature (read: autograph) on it.

Crush du Jour: Omar Germenos

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Funny words, photos, and a video

You're probably aware of the psychology of 'taking back' hurtful or emotionally-charged words so they can no longer hurt. For a while there was a big push for gay people to 'take back' words like fag and queer, and now it isn't uncommon to hear or read those words used by gay people in a non-offensive way.

After the hysteria of Sept 11, 2001 wore off it seemed as if people who wanted to get a rise out of others would use the word 'terrorist'. "Why is that sales clerk acting like a terrorist?" "That article must have been written by a terrorist." You get the point.

In an effort to 'take back' the word 'terrorist' and reduce its emotionally-charged nature, Spouse & I have been using it in casual conversations for years. Yeah, we can be a little twisted at times. But last night something went a little awry during a bedtime conversation.

I was tickling Spouse on the side of his torso just after we'd gotten in bed. He squirmed, laughed, and said "Stop that!" Getting the desired reaction, I continued to tickle him. He continued to squirm and laugh, and repeated "I said stop that!" Then I thought I heard him add "You're acting like an anal terrorist!"

"WHAT???" I asked. "An anal terrorist?"

Spouse clarified "No, I said EVIL terrorist." That certainly made more sense.

But as my mind reflected back to what I thought he'd said (anal terrorist) I began laughing hysterically. Spouse just didn't get it, and kept asking me what was so funny. When my laughing subsided enough to allow me to speak, I suggested how funny it was that I thought he'd said "anal terrorist", and I erupted into even more laughter.

After several more minutes of me laughing and him thinking I'm insane, I said "I wonder what you'd have to do to be declared an 'anal terrorist'? Threaten to torture people with your lethal farts?" This caused even more laughter as I continued to conjure up valid actions that would deserve the designation. Spouse finally indicated in a somewhat scolding tone that he would like to go to sleep now, if I would finally stop laughing.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who finds the term "anal terrorist" to be really funny!

Now for a few funny photos. (Photos may be clicked to enlarge.) This one was taken by my friend Michael of the Newlyweds during a recent surprise birthday trip to San Francisco.
'Does Your Mother Know' is a great, kitchy store in the Castro that sells all kinds of fun stuff that appeal to gays and lesbians. The store's name still makes me laugh.

This photo was taken by Q Allan Brocka, the creator, writer and director of "Eating Out", "Boy Culture", and "Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World", of a hair salon in Toronto. Now we know where all the Toronto Hos get their 'hair did'. I think this is funny!

This one was also taken by Q Allan Brocka. The Spotted Dick is a restaurant, believe it or not! How funny is that? I've heard its very popular among gay men, but NOT with lesbians. Huh. Go figure.
Okay, enough of my sophomoric humor for today.

Check out this very clever and funny video about cats. Its great!

Crush du Jour: Thomas Kretchmann

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Options (or, dental drama)

After discovering that gigantic filling had fallen out of my tooth, I didn't sleep well at all. When I woke up Mon morning I felt as if I'd been run over by that renegade trailer with my house on it. I almost felt hung over, even though I hadn't had any alcohol the day or night before.

So Mon morning I located an nearby dentist and scheduled a visit/consultation for 1:30 so I could find out my options. I should probably mention that I have an acute fear of dentistry. I mean, I realize that nobody likes going to the dentist, but I really, really have a fear of it.

About 15 years ago I was at the dentist for an extremely overdue check-up. I hadn't been to the dentist since I was a teenager, and a lot had changed since them. The dentist put on a paper face mask, latex gloves, and protective eye goggles. The dentist hadn't even begun working yet but I was already clenching the arms of the chair as I watched her 'suit up'. When she leaned forward to begin, I asked "I understand the gloves and face mask, but why do you wear those goggles? Is it to prevent this?" at which time I poked my 1st 2 fingers into the goggles!
I'm not kidding! My extreme nervousness obviously got the better of me. And when I realized what I'd just done, I started laughing and laughing and laughing. The dentist began laughing. The hygienist and clerical staff all peeked into the room to see what was so funny.

Then the dentist stopped laughing and wanted to get to work, but I could not stop laughing. I apologized for my earlier behavior and for the laughing, but could not stop laughing. I tried to think of sad things like malnourished children in 3rd world countries, but even that didn't work. The laughter just kept coming out. Fits of laughter. Gut-wrenching laughter. I-can't-breathe-anymore laughter.

So when my new dentist 'suited up' on Mon it was my earnest desire not to do anything that would bring on the giggles.

After an x-ray and quick examination, my new dentist advised me that, indeed, the entire huge filling had come out of the tooth, and that there was some decay in what remained of the tooth.
Then came my 2 options: a root canal followed by tooth build-up and a crown, or extraction.

Naturally I asked for the pros and cons of the 2 options and their respective costs.

The root canal option will basically restore the tooth. It will require at least 3 visits to remove the root, remove the decay in the 'shell' of the tooth, build up the tooth, fit it for the crown, and then install the crown. (I remembered this from the root canal and crown I had 10 years ago.) The cost for all of this is approximately $2,300. - $2,500.

Extracting the tooth (what's left of it) can be done in a single visit. The dentist said they normally don't recommend this because one is left with a space between teeth that will allow the teeth to shift over time, and is unsightly. However, in my case it is the far back tooth so the vacancy won't be seen by anyone, and if there's any movement over time, it will only be the 1 adjacent tooth, not 2 teeth, so extraction was given to me as an option. The cost of the extraction and related anesthesia is approximately $300. - $500.

Fortunately my new dentist did not expect an answer right then and there, and encouraged me to think about it and call her back with any questions. So I thought about it and talked it over with Spouse.

My initial thought was that the extraction might make me look like some gap-toothed hillbilly. My secondary thought was that I was not excited at all about the prospect of clenching my hands on the arms of the dental chair for 3 more dental visits. There's also the huge cost differential. I have dental insurance, but it only pays for a percentage of some of the costs.

So Tues morning I called back to schedule an appointment for the extraction, next Tues. I was heartened to learn that the procedure is rather quick. Basically they numb you up and pull it out. Obviously there is a recovery period as the gum heals, but it is over and done with in a single visit. No one will be able to see that the tooth is gone, and the dentist said I will easily learn to compensate for it when I chew.

In the meantime I was advised not to chew any food on that side of my mouth. The dentist said the tooth is so thin that it might break if I chewed food with it, so I have to chew everything on the other side of my mouth for an entire week. Its only been 2 days and I already feel like I'm only tasting 1/2 of what I eat. But fortunately I am not in any pain or discomfort, so I guess I will put up with only tasting 1/2 of what I eat for several days.

Its also resulting in me eating less, so I may lose a few pounds this week, which wouldn't be a bad thing. Hmm... dental work as a weight loss measure!

Crush du Jour: Jeremy Bloom

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Politician's comic book denigrates gays

Thanks to a new reader, Shane, for this unbelievable story.

Mud-Slinging Comic Book Stirs Up Scandal
Oklahoma County Official Creates Comic Featuring Gays in Togas, Satan
By MARCUS BARAM July 18, 2008

Political candidates looking for an edge have employed all types of cutthroat tactics to sully their opponents, from TV ads depicting nuclear war and paroled murderer-rapists to flyers alleging interracial relationships and criminal fraud.

And then there was the 16-page homophobic comic book featuring Satan, angels, toga-wearing gay people and crude depictions of public officials discussing "anal sodomy" and "Pedifiles."

Read the whole comic book here.

Brent Rinehart, an Oklahoma County Commissioner locked in a tough reelection race, spent two months creating the comic book and is preparing to send it out to registered Republicans in his district.

In one panel, Satan is depicted holding a pitchfork, saying "If I can get the kids to believe homosexuality is normal!"

A nearby angel replies, "Hey Satan, not with Brent around you won't."

The book also attacks Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who filed felony campaign finance charges against Rinehart last year related to his 2004 campaign for county commissioner. Rinehart's trial is set to begin in September.

Edmondson is depicted holding a sign that says "Gay rights now!" while Rinehart's figure blasts the attorney general for his decision to "force the Boy Scouts to accept homosexuals as scout leaders, a pedifile's [sic] dream come true."

Though the book's content has stirred up scandal and been widely condemned by politicians in Oklahoma, Rinehart is unrepentant, misspellings aside.

"I'm proud of it," he tells "It's a novel way to tell a story about the last three and a half years. It's informative, entertaining and a good read."

"That's not the first storm that I've stirred up since I was elected to office," says Rinehart, explaining that "in my opinion, there are a lot of people who in their campaign material, it's the same old 'Blah, blah, blah.' I wanted to do something different."

The book's targets were outraged at their depictions.

Edmondson issued a statement saying, "A drowning man tends to thrash about."

And the attorney general's spokesman added, "That's the nature of being in a prosecutorial office. People don't like it when you file charges against them."

Rinehart defended his depiction of Edmondson, explaining that "it's a way to show his true colors."

He denied the campaign finance charges, calling them "politically vindictive."

"There is nothing to them," Rinehart said. "I abided by the letter of the law."

As for Edmondson, Rinehart says "He is the one bent on vindictive revenge."

Jim Roth, an openly gay member of the corporation commission in Oklahoma City, is depicted in the cartoons, leading a group of shirtless gay-rights marchers.

"He's a disturbed soul and it's disgusting to see him target people like that," says Roth, who says that he often tangled with Rinehart when they served together on the county commission.

"I'm very familiar with his twisted thinking. He has a professional history of doing things to distract from his own bad behavior."

Rinehart admits that the book is "edgy at times" but claims that it is not bigoted or homophobic. "What you do in the bedroom is private, but when it comes to public policy, that's a different matter. When they make it [like adding rules making sexual orientation one of the forms of discrimination outlawed in Oklahoma City schools] public policy, that's where I get a little irate."

And John Whetsel, the Oklahoma County sheriff, who is depicted demanding more taxpayer money so he can buy "more, more and more toys" alongside allegations of abuse of inmates at the county jail, was equally angry.

"Overall, it's a pathetic, bigoted, mean-spirited piece," he says. "It's hard to believe that an elected official would put out some piece of trash like that."

Whetsel said that Rinehart has an anti-law-enforcement reputation, voting against putting deputies in schools and replacing squad cars for deputies.

Rinehart says he targeted Whetsel because "he's one of the good-old-boy politicians. He spent over 40 cents of every dollar that comes into the Oklahoma County general fund."

Rinehart just might be making political history with his stunt.

While candidates have used flyers with crude images and photographs in direct mail campaigns, the use of a multi-page comic book in a political campaign seems unprecedented, says Kerwin Swint, the author of "Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time."

"Cartoons have been used on occasion, usually about gun rights, but not a full comic book," he says, adding that mailing the book to voters is consistent with the preferred use of direct mail to tar an opponent because "it slides under the radar, unlike TV."

In general, negative direct mail consists of personal attacks, such as descriptions of divorces or child custody cases, explains Swint.

Even before the modern era of direct mail, personal attacks were common via flyers and handbills.

Two of the most prominent cases, according to Swint, were the Ku Klux Klan printing up flyers about George Wallace's opponent Albert Brewer in 1970, alleging that Brewer's daughter had been impregnated by a black man. And in 1800, supporters of John Adams distributed handbills claiming that Thomas Jefferson was the son of an Indian squaw.

Crush du Jour: Adam Levine

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wonderful weekend until...

Ron & James and Mike & Clark arrived Fri afternoon and I knocked off work early. We sat in the living room and talked for a while, then we migrated to the kitchen so Spouse & I could finish the dinner preparations and still be in the conversations.

We had everything ready so that when 'the usual suspects' arrived at 7:00 we simply set up the food (buffet style) on the peninsula. There were 13 of 'the usual suspects, plus our 4 visiting friends, plus Spouse & me, totally 19 for dinner. It went off without a hitch, thanks to our keeping the menu simple, but tasty. Since we were celebrating 3 birthday and all 3 are different ages, I decided to re-use the '3' and '0' candles we'd used for The Newlywed's 30th birthday and suggested to everyone what a coincidence it was that all 3 birthday boys were all turning 30. Everyone laughed, and we sang 'Happy birthday'. Everyone said the food and cake were great, and our visiting friends mixed seamlessly with 'the usual suspects'. I believe everyone enjoyed themselves.

'The usual suspects' left at around 9:30. Spouse & I stayed up talking with our visiting friends until almost 1am.

Sat morning we had a simple breakfast of bagels, little fruit-filled pastries, juice and coffee, then sat around discussing everything and anything. It was so nice to get updates on many of the folks we knew from the church where we had been members from 1997-2004. Ron & James and Mike & Clark went to this church too.

We had chicken salad sandwiches and chips for lunch, then went to the beach. There was a fantastic cool breeze coming off the water that made our time at the beach practically euphoric. It was 12 degrees cooler at the beach than at home! We had a great time checking out the 'scenery', walking, and talking with the roar of the waves in the background.
Once we'd returned home everyone showered and dressed for dinner. We still had time for cocktail hour before our 7:00 reservation. I made Blue PomeCosmos for everyone.

Then we walked the 2 blocks into town for dinner at Beseme. Spouse & I had never eaten there before, but Ron had gotten a recommendation for it from one of 'the usual suspects' so we decided to give it a try. The name Beseme ("kiss me" in Spanish) made us think it might be a tapas place, but the food had a distinct French influence. There were many crepe specialties which you don't often find in other restaurants. I had Ropa Viejo, a spicy Cuban pulled pork dish with rice and plantains. It was delicious! Spouse had plantain encrusted Mahi with saffron rice and chunky mango salsa. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals, and Spouse said he would definitely return.

On the short walk home we decided to take advantage of the warm but breezy summer night by going for a walk on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk. Since none of us ordered dessert at the restaurant we felt no shame in stopping for funnel cake and Kohr Brothers frozen custard along the boardwalk. It was really delightful to be at the boardwalk, seeing all the happy people enjoying themselves. There's an amazing amount of positive energy there. It was nearly midnight when we returned home but we sat up until 1am again talking and laughing.

Sun morning Spouse made a delicious sausage/egg/cheese breakfast casserole and oatmeal blueberry pancakes for breakfast. We lingered over our juice and coffee until almost noon when our friends decided to pack up their stuff and head home. When they left Spouse & I tidied up the kitchen a bit and then met Rick & Nick at the beach. Again we enjoyed a fabulously warm but breezy afternoon at the ocean. I didn't want to come home.

I made nachos for dinner and then Spouse was on the computer while I watched Design Star. I liked all 3 contestants' rooms but did feel like Trish's was a little too predictable and bordered on boring. I wasn't sure she'd be eliminated though because she seems to have the strongest hosting ability. But in the end the judges chose design over hosting ability and Trish went home.

It was truly a wonderful weekend, until we got ready to go to bed. As I was brushing my teeth I heard this 'clink' sound, looked down at the vanity, and saw that a huge filling and fallen out of my tooth! Its my #1 tooth on this chart:

I noticed some sensitivity over the last week or so, then last evening I thought it felt like my teeth didn't quite come together when I chewed like they used to. I had no idea that gigantic, old filling was about to fall out. So this morning I checked my insurance and then found a local dentist who was taking new patients and made an appointment for this afternoon. The dentist was on vacation last week and is busy this week so the lady who scheduled the appointment said the dentist would probably just see me today to determine what needed to be done exactly, and that I would likely need to come back for the actual re-filling.

The fact that this happened last night just before bed caused me to have a difficult time falling asleep. Once I finally got to sleep I had a crazy dream about moving our previous house to a different location. The truck pulling the huge flatbed trailer with our former house on it was being driven by these 2 young (21-23 year old) girls and I kept telling them to slow down and be more careful. Of course they didn't, and the trailer containing our house came loose from the truck and sailing down the street. Needless to say that although I was asleep, I was certainly not resting. This morning I felt like hell, so knowing I'd have to take off for a dental appointment anyway, I called him sick today. This is only the 2nd time in 6 years I've called in sick so I don't feel guilty at all.

Crush du Jour: Robert Buckley

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Las Vegas Envy

This article from the NY Times was sent to me by my lovely and talented, straight-but-not-narrow friend Lisa, who made the Big Apple her home a few years back. I agree with her simple assessment of this article as a "nice piece". (And really, don't we all want a nice piece?) Enjoy.

Las Vegas Envy
By Gail Collins

You’ll remember that Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriages, thanks to a court ruling in 2004. Everyone was not thrilled. There were petitions and attempts to pass constitutional amendments. Mitt Romney, who was evolving from liberal Republican governor to desperate Republican presidential candidate, declared his determination to keep Massachusetts from becoming “the Las Vegas of same-sex marriages.”

He grabbed hold of an antique law barring marriages of out-of-state couples whose own states would not let them be wed to make sure that nobody gay snuck over the state line in search of matrimony.

This week, the State Senate voted to repeal the law that Romney liked so much. We would tell you about the dramatic debate, except that it happened on a voice vote with no objections. The bill now goes to the House, which is also expected to pass it.

What changed? Well, with the economy the way it is, becoming the Las Vegas of anything whatsoever began to sound like a good deal. California has been raking in money from weddings of out-of-state gay couples since a court made same-sex marriage legal there.

In Massachusetts, a study commissioned by the state, with the optimism of such studies everywhere, predicted that getting rid of that old law could create hundreds of jobs, millions in tax revenue and tons and tons of local business for hotels and restaurants and party planners. As an advocate predicted reasonably, when a gay person decides to come to Massachusetts and get married, “most won’t come alone.”

The repeal was also about racial justice. In a year when we’ve been arguing about whether women or blacks deserve a presidential nominee more, it’s good to remember that when one discriminated-against group is lifted up, everybody tends to rise. The law against marrying out-of-staters was originally passed in 1913 during a national outcry over the black boxing champion Jack Johnson’s marriage to a white woman. Massachusetts did not ban black-white unions, but the state wanted to make sure that it did not turn itself into the Las Vegas of interracial marriage. Now this kind of thinking is seen as repulsive. As a result, gay Americans benefited.

After four years, same-sex marriage has also begun to feel normal in Massachusetts. It’s not something that comes up in conversation much anymore. There is no greater force against bigotry than the moment when something becomes so routine that you stop noticing it.

One state lawmaker who had originally supported a constitutional amendment against gay marriage changed her mind and voted against it when the measure went down to a final defeat in 2007. She told Pam Belluck of The Times about one of her older constituents who had nagged her to get rid of same-sex unions then turned around and lobbied her to keep them. A gay couple, she said, had moved into her neighborhood: “They help me with my lawn, and if there can’t be marriage in Massachusetts, they’ll leave.”

My 83-year-old mother, who I have always thought of as conservative on matters like sex, has a home helper, Joe Wallace, who is gay. To say they hit it off would be a deep, deep understatement. It gradually became clear to my siblings and me that there were any number of activities that my mother would rather do with Joe than with us.

Shopping, for sure. Having late-night telephone discussions about taking pills was another. Also preparing for bridge parties.

“Joe made menus,” my sister informed me.

My mother has begun to make inquiries about whether anybody is interested in taking her to the next Cincinnati Pride Alive Parade.

Back in 1970, when Americans were still adjusting to the Supreme Court ruling that people of different races had a constitutional right to wed, someone suggested to President Richard Nixon that same-sex marriages would be next.

“I can’t go that far; that’s the year 2000,” Nixon rejoined.

Nixon was a little early, but extremely prescient, especially when you think of the other things people predicted for our current era: flying cars, self-cleaning windows, 20-hour workweeks. An early 20th-century novel depicted New York City circa 2000 as “one huge garden, pierced here and there by slender towers or giant cupolas.”

It is very possible that we’ll be having a number of depressing discussions about gay rights over the next several months. Just this week we learned that California is going to have a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would bar same-sex marriages. And John McCain was unable to come up with a clear position on whether gays should be allowed to adopt.

But the forces of history are only on one side here. There’s going to be a long-term happy ending. Although I’m afraid we’ll never get those giant cupolas.

Crush du Jour: Colin Ferguson

Friday, July 18, 2008

Big ol' time

Our friends Mike & Clark and Ron & James are arriving from VA today for their annual weekend visit. This will be their 6th summer visit with us here at the beach.

They should be rolling into town somewhere around noon and will take advantage of the tax-free shopping at the various outlet stores in Rehoboth.

Technically today is a work day for me but I am planning to finish up the housecleaning and general tidying up of the house while checking my computer for any necessary work items throughout the day. Spouse & I finished the 'big' housecleaning and the grocery shopping yesterday.

We've invited 'the usual suspects' over to our house tonight for our Fri Night Dinner, rather than going to a restaurant, so they can meet Mike & Clark and Ron & James, and because we'll be celebrating birthdays tonight. Spouse baked a turkey yesterday evening and made potato salad last night. Today he'll pull all the meat off the turkey.

We'll serve the loose meat with rolls and 3 different sauces: barbeque, cranberry relish, and mango/apricot/pineapple chutney, as well as the potato salad and baked beans. We bought a decorated birthday cake at the grocery store.
James' birthday was June 30, Mike's birthday is today the 18th, and Spouse's birthday is Sun the 20th. So we're planning to have a big ol' time tonight with our friends from VA and 'the usual suspects' from our Fri Night Dinner Group.

After a breakfast of bagels, juice, and coffee on Sat, the 6 of us are planning to go to the beach, and then out for a fancy birthday dinner.

Sun Spouse is making a big 'Sun morning breakfast' of oatmeal-blueberry pancakes and a sausage-cheese-egg casserole with juice and coffee. We'll likely be too full from breakfast to even think about lunch. I believe Sun will be spent mostly just talking, laughing, and enjoying time with our friends before they leave Sun afternoon.

These are good friends and I am looking forward to their visit!

Speaking of good friends, Bugsy has graciously bestowed upon me a Brillante Weblog award! Thanks Bugsy! Here it is:
My instructions were to receive the award with deep gratitude, display it on my blog, and pass it onto 5 other deserving bloggers, so that's what I'm doing.

Congratulations to Tornwordo of Sticky Crows, cb of The Mangina Monologues, David of David Dust, You of 2nd Person: Tales of the Gay YOUniverse, and Errol of A Rad Homo for always providing me with something great to read, look at, think about, or laugh over.

Happy Friday, and I hope everyone has a terrific weekend!

Crush du Jour: Danny Russell

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Pro-Family Scam

A friend sent me this article which validated what I've been thinking for years. First the article, then my comments afterward.

The Pro-Family Scam
by Wayne Besen

The last few weeks have shown that so-called pro-family organizations are some of the most useless, money-sucking scams in the world. With real families suffering from economic hardship in America, a declining birthrate in Europe and Google doubling the price of daycare for employees, the only thing right wing family groups want to discuss is their bizarre and all-encompassing fagela fetish.

Recently, The Brooklyn Paper, had a huge headline, “SPLITSVILLE: Brooklyn divorces up 30 percent.” The article cited a number of reasons including, “when the economy tanks, so do many marriages.”

One would think this would alarm so-called pro-family organizations and they would be out in force repairing marriages – or at least looking for economic solutions to take the stress off couples. Unfortunately, as I walked around my Brooklyn neighborhood, I saw not one representative from the American Family Association.

Well, I take that back. I did encounter one of the group’s representatives on CNN Headline News as we debated a Heinz mayonnaise ad in the United Kingdom that featured two men kissing. I’m sure the children of these broken marriages in Brooklyn will feel much better knowing Heinz pulled the ad and they can have gay-free mayonnaise at both mommy and daddy’s separate houses.

A new study by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University showed that in 2006, for the first time in U.S. history, a majority of births to women under 30 – 50.4 percent – were out of wedlock. New York Times columnist Bob Herbert points out that, “By comparison, when John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960, just 6 percent of all births were to unmarried women under 30.

One imagines that this report might have startled “pro-family” organizations and they would have put their millions of dollars towards stopping this trend. No such luck. Instead, they are investing huge piles of money and manpower to pass anti-gay marriage amendments in Florida, Arizona and California. The upshot for “pro-family” groups is that if heterosexuals keep screwing up marriage, by the time gay people finally win the right nationally, we won’t want to use it.

"Evangelicals of the older generation have become obsessed in almost a technical psychological sense in opposing gay rights," David Weddle, a professor of religion at Colorado College told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “The irony is that homosexuality is not a biblical theme."

Right wing organizations and their flocks want to be taken seriously, but their priorities and actions are reprehensible. For example, a middle school teacher was fired in Mount Vernon, Ohio last month after preaching in the classroom, refusing to remove his Bible and burning crosses onto the arms of pupils. You read that correctly – he seared crosses on the body parts of impressionable students, as if it were a gang ritual.

Surely, reasonable people can agree that such behavior is inappropriate in the classroom. But, oh no, some of the yahoos in Mount Vernon believe their religion places them above the Constitution - so they are holding demonstrations in the town square. I wonder if these zealots would have the same reaction if a teacher were burning a Stars of David or Muslim crescents on the forearms of students?

A recent New York Times magazine article, “Childless Europe,” explored why certain countries in Europe are losing population. The hopelessly out of touch Pope Benedict chimed in with his typically sunny advice. “Europe is infected by a strange lack of desire for the future,” the Pontiff said. “Children, our future, are perceived as a threat to the present.”

Instead of selfishness, as the Pope implied, it was the traditional values of the Pope that contributed to the problem. In societies that either offered a safety net or where men shared the burdens of child rearing, women were having more babies. However, when educated women were stuck at home and forced to do all the work – such as in Italy - they chose to have less children. Will the Pope now call on men to help out more at home or for countries to ensure daycare for families?

Finally, the Wall Street Wonder, Google, plans to raise the amount it charged for in-house day care by 75 percent. Under the revised plan, parents with two children in Google day care could see their yearly bill increase to more than $57,000 from around $33,000. This crushing blow to the family drove a few employees to tears.

Was the American Family Association in Silicon Valley raising hell and standing up for families? No, they ignored grimacing parents, so they could punish Ronald and Grimace by launching a boycott against McDonalds for supposedly having a gay agenda. Maybe the delusional scolds at the AFA thought they saw rainbow color fries, in much the same way they once accused the cartoon character Mighty Mouse of snorting cocaine.

Right wing organizations can be considered many things – but certainly not advocates for the family. They inhale money, exhale anti-gay pollution and have done absolutely nothing for the traditional families they claim to represent. It seems the more such groups proliferate, the more the family deteriorates.

Mark says:
I added the italics and bolding above for emphasis.

If these so-called "Pro-Family" groups were really interested in supporting familes they would be putting their money and influence into programs that attempt to reduce divorce, unwed mothers, childless couples, and shrinking benefits for families. But instead, they only seem concerned with fighting equal rights for gays and encouraging others to boycot companies they perceive to be gay-supportive.

I believe these organizations are not intersted in supporting familes at all, but rather, they use it as a disguise for their real goal: to prevent gays from achieving equal rights.

Crush du Jour: Brody Jenner

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mobile Home Disaster

I am not a country music fan, so it may surprise you (much as it did me) that I discovered a fun new TV show on CMT (Country Music Television) called 'Mobile Home Disaster'.

Basically, 'Mobile Home Disaster' is CMT's version of HGTV's show 'Deserving Design', where a 'deserving' family gets a make-over on 2 rooms of their house. But on 'Mobile Home Disaster' they take it a step further by doing a complete mobile home make-over; every single room, inside and out.

If you're still reading this you've probably already come up with 101 jokes about 'trailer park trash' and such. This show is really cool in that it is sensitive to the fact that for some families, living in a mobile home or trailer is their best or only option. Just because one lives in a mobile home doesn't mean it can't be attractive and functional.

The host of the show is a funny guy called Cap, which is short for his last name Caparulo. He's kind of a 'good ol' boy' with a great sense of humor. His voice, facial expressions, and jokes with the crew and homeowners usually make me laugh out loud.
One of the carpenters is named Joe, on the left. He always wears a sleeveless shirt, and I think he's kind of sexy.
The other carpenter is Kyle, and he can often be found working shirtless, which makes the show even more fun to watch, m'kay? I'm just sayin'.
If Kyle looks familiar to you it may be because he used to be a fashion model.

They also have a designer, Lori Lynn, who picks the colors and decorates the homes with all new furniture, lighting, TVs, and such.

The mobile home make-overs are really good. They often tear out that old, dark sheet paneling and put up drywall. They replace the tired and dated kitchens with completely new ones, from cabinetry to appliances. In some episodes they even add on rooms.

Another fun element of this show is that in every episode Cap always throws together some kind of food/fun/social event for all of the park residents. Everyone gathers for a cook-out or something before Cap reveals the remodeled mobile home to the owners. I like that they involve the entire community.

I've become addicted to this show and like that they re-run past episodes all the time. Give it a try, even if you're skeptical, and see if you don't like it too.

Crush du Jour: Justin Clynes

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Old/bad habits die hard in the South

As progressive as many states (MA, NJ, CA) have become, it is easy to forget how very different the prevailing attitudes can be elsewhere. Old/bad habits die hard in the South. This articles is a good example of that. My comments follow the article.

Gay tourism ad causes uproar in S. Carolina
State cancels contract, faces investigation after posters plaster London

By Alex Johnson, Reporter, MSNBC

A state employee has resigned and officials have disavowed an international advertising campaign that led to calls for an investigation of tourism posters proclaiming “South Carolina is so gay.”

The campaign, which plastered the London subway with posters advertising the charms of South Carolina and five major U.S. cities to gay European tourists, landed with a resounding thud in South Carolina, where the issue of gay rights has long been a political flashpoint.

The advertisements were timed for London’s Gay Pride Week, which ended Saturday. The posters touted the attractions of the state to gay tourists, including its “gay beaches” and its Civil War-era plantations.

Similar ads were posted for Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Washington, D.C., none of which reported any negative backlash. But in South Carolina, reaction to the posters — dubbed “the gayest ever mainstream media advertising campaign in London” by Out Now, the Australian advertising firm that designed the promotion — was swift.

After The Palmetto Scoop, a South Carolina political blog, uncovered the promotion last week, Republican state Sen. David Thomas of Greenville protested the campaign and called for an audit of the advertising budget overseen by the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

“South Carolinians will be irate when they learn their hard earned tax dollars are being spent to advertise our state as ‘so gay,’” Thomas said in a statement.

The tourism department quickly said it was canceling payment of its $5,000 fee for the posters, which it said were approved by a low-level state worker who did not run the idea by senior officials. The employee, who was not identified, resigned last week, the agency said.

A spokesman for Gov. Mark Sanford, who has been mentioned as a possible running mate for the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said the governor agreed that the posters were “inappropriate.”

The was no immediate reaction from Out Now.

‘Just great to be so gay’
The campaign was designed to “send a clear message to everyone who sees this campaign that it is long past time that ‘so gay’ should be used as a negative phrase of disapproval,” said Andrew Roberts, chief executive of Amro Worldwide, the travel agency that commissioned the ads.

“From where we sit, and for all our many customers, being described as ‘so gay’ is not a negative thing at all. We think it is just great to be so gay,” said Roberts, who called the campaign a success, having reached more than 2 million people in London.

State tourism officials insisted that they had known nothing about the campaign. But when the promotion was first announced last month, the tourism board said in a statement that “it sends a powerful positive message.”

“For our gay visitors, it is actually quite wonderful for them to discover just how much South Carolina has to offer — from stunning plantation homes to miles of wide sandy beaches,” the statement said.

The agency reversed course last week after many South Carolinians disagreed.

Oran Smith, president of the Palmetto Family Council, a conservative activist group in Columbia, the state capital, said that at first he thought the ads were an Internet hoax.

“I think with today’s economy, we have to be really smart with our tourism dollars, and South Carolina’s market, very clearly, is the family-friendly market,” Smith said. “So if we want to spend our dollars in a way that’s wise, we need to go after our market, and our market is families.”

Said Ventphis Stafford of Charleston: “We’re so gay? Nah. Wrong state. Go to California.”

Activist: Right message, wrong place
Gay tourism is a $64.5 billion market in the United States, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association estimates, and more than 75 cities around the world have gay-themed campaigns that create no controversy. But the campaign drew special attention in South Carolina because it emerged only weeks after widespread debate over gay rights in the schools.

Eddie Walker, principal of Irmo High School, in suburban Columbia, announced that he was quitting rather than approve the creation of a Gay-Straight Alliance at the school, one of the state’s largest.

“Our sex education curriculum is abstinence based,” Walker wrote in a letter to the school. “I feel the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High School implies that students joining the club will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes.”

Such attitudes remain prevalent in the state, said Warren Redman-Gress, executive director of the South Carolina Alliance for Full Acceptance, a gay and lesbian advocacy group. He praised the motives behind the campaign but criticized it as poorly thought out.

“I wish the folks at the tourism board had done a little more of their homework,” Redman-Gress said. “I get calls regularly, people want to know before I come and spend my hard-earned money, my souvenir dollars in South Carolina, is it a place where it is OK for me to be gay?

“The answer is yes and no,” he said. “You live on the edge with the simple fact that you can come to South Carolina, spend your money getting here, and someone can come in and say, ‘I’m sorry; you can’t stay here because you’re gay.’”
Mark says: I found it interesting that similar campaigns were simultaneously launched, featuring other cities (not in the South) as being accommodating to gay tourists, yet SC is the only state that experienced a backlash from its residents.

I was stunned to read that a high school principal would rather resign than allow a Gay/Straight Alliance to be formed in the school where he works. I hope he does resign, and is replaced my a principal that is contemporary and modern-thinking. Out with the old, in with the new!

So my opinion is this: If South Carolinians are saying 'we don't want gay tourists', then gay travelers should certainly go elsewhere. There are many US cities (Philly, Vegas, etc.) that have successfully increased their tourism revenues by encouraging gay tourists, so those are the cities where we should spend our pink dollars.

Crush du Jour: Ignacio Figueras