Sunday, February 29, 2004

Weight: 199 lbs.

Well, I gained two pounds. But it doesn't feel like it. My close seem a little looser. I latch my belt at a the 4th hole instead of the 3rd. I did eat all those M&Ms, though....

Just a quick note because I haven't had much opportunity to updae my blog. I've been working on a volunteer project for The Center OC's Gala Dinner, the year's big fundraiser. The theme is a speakeasy from the 1920's with each table having a separate designation, a person from the Jazz Age. I volunteered to create the 63 designations: a picture with name and dates on the front, a brief bio and the menu inside, The Center's mission statement and logo on the back. I finished the last this afternoon: Vivien Leigh. I'll go into more detail a bit later as I found some great sites (like The Crime Library, A&E's Biography, American Masters, etc.). Wow!

Gotta go! The Oscars are about to start!! Keep your fingers crossed for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Encouraging News

Monkey's Protein May Block HIV

A great step forward in eventually finding a cure for HIV and AIDS.
Rising Gas

I'm driving Sean's car today as mine is in the shop. The tank is low so I pull in to a local Shell station for gas. $2.11/gallon for regular unleaded. $2.11!! Why is no one making a fuss about this? Last year, when gas prices rose to $1.80/gallon, the news shows made it a top story. "Oh my god! Can you believe how high the prices are?! I'm not going to stand for it! We should boycott the gas companies!!" Today, with prices well over those of last year at this time, what do we hear? Nothing. Nada. Rien. We roll along, silently grumbling to ourselves, filling our takes with over-priced fuel. Can anyone tell me: is there a conspiracy? Is President Bush trying to make it appear utterly necessary to drill for oil in the Northern Slope of Alaska? (Then again, does he really have anything to do with the high prices?) Are any other countries seeing these higher prices? AAGGGHHHH!!!!

My Car

Yep, it's in the shop. I've been mulling over new brake pads for well on two months now. (You'd think the Mariah-Carey-like squeal would have been a good indicator.) The garage said that the front pads were at 30% which means metal touching metal so those are being replaced. The back ones are being cleaned, oil's being changed, front spoiler re-attached. Hopefully, that should take care of things for a while.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Weight: 197 lbs.

I think that I'm more surprised that anyone that I managed to lose pound this week. The rain held me back from walking this morning at the beach so I was only able to walk yesterday morning. Also, we -- Sean's family and myself -- ate at Dave and Buster's at the Irvine Spectrum Friday night so I skipped the gym. I did manage to eat healthy foods and to control my portions which (cross my fingers) helped. Dinner for me on Friday was Lacy's Chicken: two skinless, boneless grilled chicken breasts topped with melted Boursin cheese with a side of steamed string beans and too-die-for mashed potatoes. (The chef must have taken a few stuffed, baked potatoes, thrown them into a pot and mashed them to heck and gone, adding a finishing touch of bacon bits. Yummy!!!!) Afterwards, we spent roughly $40 playing games in the Game Room, winning at least 2500 tickets in the process. We used these to help "purchase" a badminton set for two of Sean's nieces.

Sean's uncle played a virtual golf game inwhich he used real clubs to hit a real golf ball at a projected image of a fairway. $25/hour, but he seemed to be enjoying himself. Even his grandkids got into the act, with the oldest sinking a pretty good putt from about 15 feet away. For some reason, he never sunk one the entire time.... The girls also had fun with the claw/grabber machines, each returning with handfuls of chain necklaces and souvenir coins.

An exhauting end to a long week. Payroll problems up the wazoo at work, mostly thanks to two clients in particular, topped of by a visit from our Regional Manager. She rarely visits so it's an event when she does. I prepared the office by finally hanging our artwork which has been in our storage room since we moved over a year ago. I need to purchase a few more nails and frames, then the office will be complete.

Movies

I saw Mystic River last weekend. Great performances by Tim Robbins (who will win the Oscar) and Marcia Gay Harden (who should win, but will most likely lose to René Zellweger). I enjoyed this movie all the way through until the last 10-15 mintues which threw in a whole new twist on a few characters. Why wait until the end of the film to do this? For me, it ruined what was a fine movie. And, based upon my review on Amazon, a few people tend to disagree with me....

Books

I finished The Elegant Gathering of White Snows and wasn't too impressed with it. My updated list is:
  • In the Land of White Death by David Roberts
  • The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick

Friday, February 20, 2004

What a week!! Sean's grandmothers are visiting from Iowa along with his mother from Citrus Heights, CA, so I've found it difficult to stick with my diet. We've dined (pigged out) every night at his aunt's, and with the whole family there -- including three grandkids, three great-grandkids and assorted spouses -- she makes tons of food. Also, she usually serves 2-3 desserts each night, too. And, I'm a sucker for cheesecake...

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Mercury in Retrograde

I've been wondering the past few weeks if Mercury is in retorgrade: Clark received terrible news during this time regarding both family and his work. Two of our biggest clients have gone nuts with regards to payroll -- expense reports, travel assignments, non-input of work orders, etc. -- causing a nightmare for me. The doctor diagnosed my Dad with borderline bronchial pneumonia -- which I would not wish on anybody, having suffered through it myself many years ago. Joel just learned some potentially disturbing news about his work. G. and his girlfriend continue to walk the picket lines for the grocery store lock-out. The Center is losing sources of funding due to grants being dissolved. Bush is still President. And, I'm having personal issues of my own with regards to my partner.

Alas, Mercury is not in retrograde. If you're like me and have no idea exactly what that means, I learned that retrograde means backwards. When a planet is in retrograde, its orbit around the sun is faster than the planet's rotation on its own axis. Seen from space, it gives the impression that the planet is spinning backwards. In the astrological world, when Mercury is in retrograde, it's taken as a sign of ill fortune: communications are disrupted and life generally seems to take a sour turn for a week or two. However, that's not happening right now.

We're just having a streak of bad luck.

I think I need a nap....

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Weight: 198 lbs.

Wow! I haven't weighed below 200 lbs. since I met Sean. (See what a boyfriend can do to you? ;-)

Friday, February 13, 2004

Hooray for Hollywood!

We took the day off yesterday, and who could ask for a more beautiful day?! The sun was shining, a mild breeze blew through the foothills, blue skies all around...okay, and just a bit of LA smog. But that comes with the territory.

The day started off in Huntington Beach, picking up T. who is one of Sean's co-workers (and the boss' daughter) and taking the 405 N into Los Angeles. The drive lasted 1 hr 30 min., and I left a permanent impression of my right fingers in the hand grip above the passenger door. Too many close calls with people paying more attention to their cell phone converations than the road, which in turn ticked Sean off causing him to drive with a death wish. I can't wait until talking on a cell phone while driving becomes illegal!

First stop once we reached LA was Book Soup, a great independent bookstore. Me, being the book whore that I am, wanted to stay in there for hours because I found so many books from the Top 100 Lesbian/Gay Novels list that I haven't located elsewhere! I only stayed half an hour while Sean and T. snuck away to snap her picture in front of the Viper Room. The next stop was Amoeba Music, an incredibly huge independent music store located on Sunset Blvd. Wow! Talk about sensory overload!!! I have never seen such a huge selection of not only CDs (imports, rarities, indies, used, new, etc.) but DVDs as well. Oh my god!!! I limited myself to only one purchase: the "Music from 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy'" soundtrack. I could have easily spent $500 in there....

By this time, hunger pangs struck so Sean thought it would be fun to eat at Hollywood & Highland, home of the Kodak Theatre and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, as well as many shops and restaurants. Very impressive building, made to resemble old Hollywood. We ate at the California Pizza Kitchen and somehow managed to be seated just as they started filming that day's showing of "On-Air with Ryan Seacrest." A crew was set-up just outside the rrestaurant with a crowd of people mugging for the camera. Looking up from them, I could just make out Ryan in the studio as the show was being filmed. Plus, they displayed the show on a huge screen. Kind of cool.... The food was great, though the service was a bit slow. We were there for probably 2 hours, mostly waiting for our food. Before we left Hollywood & Highland, we did snap a few pics of Grauman's Chinese and of T. squatting beside Elton John's star on the Walk of Fame.

We then headed for Burbank and the real reason behind taking the day off. Sean got tickets for us to see a taping of The Ellen Degeneres Show at the NBC studios. The taping wasn't until 7 PM, but we were instructed to arrive by 5 PM to ensure that we made it into the studio. It's my understanding that they over book the audiences so you may or may not be in the audience. Luckily, the sister of one of my co-workers is a Production Assitant on the show and put us on the VIP List. We weren't exactly sure what that meant, but it made the show seem like more of a treat to us.

Anyway, we arrived at 2:30. Good thing, too, because parking was already scarce. The line was already more than halfway down Bob Hope Dr. almost to the 134 Freeway. (We learned later that that line was for the frist taping at 4 PM. Phew!) Sean found a great spot just across the street, and we headed for the line. We checked in and were told that we were put on the short list, meaning that we would be with the first group into the studio for the 7 PM taping. We could leave but msut be back BEFORE 5 PM, or we forfeited our spot. I told the man with the clipboard that we wer on the VIP list, but he didn't seem to care. So we wandered around Burbank (on foot) for an hour, saying hi to those waiting in line for The Tonight Show, and snacking at the Weinerschnitzel across the street.

Crossing the street was a thrill in itself. The crosswalks don't have the buttons that alert the system someone is waiting to cross the street. They change on their own with the traffice flow. BUT: each direction has its own crosswalk signs so you'll get the go ahead to cross, but for only half the street. You must wait for the second signal to change before you can move. So you're standing on a tiny concrete island in the middle of traffic as cars, trucks and vans fly by.

We made it across safely and back to the line by 3:45 PM. To our surprise, two lines awaited us for the 7 PM show, and no one could tell us in which line we were supposed to be. The person with whom we checked in was nowhere to be found so we moved to the end of one line and waited. An hour later, he re-appeared and told us that we were in the wrong line, directing us to the shorter line. I mentioned the VIP thing again and recieved the same indifference in response. So we waited in the new line. At 5 PM, Victoria, another PA, appeared from the studio. When she was about to pass us, I asked her about the VIP list. She checked our names against her list and told us we were in the wrong line (again). This time, she lead us to the front of the line, giving us pink slips that stated "VIP" in big, black letters. Now, we were getting somewhere!!

The front of the line! We were going to step into the studio first!! Guaranteed seats!! Woo hoo!!!! Okay, maybe not the first, because two others were already waiting at the front with VIP slips. Very nice people, too. Frank lives in New York and Doreen in Long Beach. They've known each other for years, and Doreen even introduced Frank to his partner. When we were finally walked into the studio around 6:15 PM, she insisted that we sit with them, and I'm glad we did. Frank and I talked a lot about theater and music while Doreen and Sean danced to Tony the DJ's music in the studio with T. looking on and having a grand time. We didn't know it until afterwards, but they were taping us the whole time!!!

The studio is COLD. When one of the writer's came out to do the warm-up, he told us it was 60 degrees in the studio. Brrrr!! The set is smaller that it looks on TV, making it very intimate. The audience sits incredibly close, too. If it weren't for the cameras (and the bodyguards), we could almost touch the stage. The guests for our taping were Gillian Anderson from The X-Files, Donald Faison from Scrubs, and the young boy from the Welch's Grape Juice commercials. (He's adorble, by the way.)

But first, of course, Ellen came out to introduce herself and to check out the audience, to psyche us up for the show. (She's the most personable person, incredibly friendly and genuine. I'm so glad she has a talk show!) Then, she heads back stage to make one of her unique entrances, this time playing badminton. From then on, the show is taped in real time so we were seated in the studio for just over an hour. Ellen has such an easy way with the guests, making them feel comforatble (or at least, to seem comfortable). Even so, the little boy from the commercials upstaged her. I didn't thank that was possible.

After the show, she gave each of the audience members a gift bag containing the complete 8th season of The X-Files on DVD, tons of Welch's products, and the DVD edition of Trivial Pursuit. Outside the studio Frank took our picture in front of the studio sign, and we exchanged emails. I can;t wait to see the picture!

The show will air on March 8th. Set your VCRs and TiVo's!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Just a quick note: I updated my theater resolution list from the posting of January 25, 2004 (check that date for the list). One of the smaller theaters in the area is staging Equus in June, and I definitely want to see it, even if I have to go by myself. It's just one of those plays that I've always heard of but never had the opportunity to see, much like Antigone.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Books

I finished The Female Man by Joanna Russ and should have my review posted on Amazon soon, once I figure out how to word it. I enjoyed the book, but it was a bit hard to follow at first, trying to determine who the narrator was. The text jumps from character to character, quickly and often. It's strongly feminist, too, and well worth reading.

My updated list:

  • The Elegant Gathering of White Snows by Kris Radish
  • The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder
  • In the Land of White Death by David Roberts

Antigone

Back in the 4th grade, I entered an educational program at my school called "Mentally Gifted Minors." Supposedly for children who were exceptional in math, spelling, etc., my parents told me that the test consisted of separating different colored marbles into groups. (Public education at work....) To me, it seemed like just another way to make me feel more self-conscious than I already did. Separate the nerds from everyone else.

The one thing that I remember most from the 4th grade is our production of Sophocles' Antigone, the third part of the Oedipus Trilogy. Yes, we actually performed a 2,000-year old Greek tragedy in the 4th grade. Not that we really understood what it was about. We had a difficult time understanding why Creon wouldn't bury Polyneices and why Antigone was being punished for doing what was right. Still, we staged a production of it for the school.

What a humiliating experience! Lucky me, I played the Chorus Leader, and in the version we were performing, the text has the Chorus Leader on stage first to introduce the story and to set the first scene. Out I walk on stage, a white sheet draped around my body, exposing my knobby knees to the entire grade school. They laughed and laughed. I refused to look at them, focusing on a clock hung on the back of the multi-purpose room. And, I didn't move from the stage or say anything until they stopped. I said my lines and so began the show.

What the hell were we doing, staging such a heavy Greek tragedy?! We were in 4th grade, for crying out loud!!!

Yesterday, I finally saw a professional production of Antigone with real actors who understood the play and knew what they were doing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though the staging was a bit like Sophocles meets Stomp. Kind of a post-apocalyptic Greece. Dark costumes, lots of leather, dark atmosphere. Some fantastic acting, especially by Alyssa Bresnahan in the title role, Randle Mell as Creon, and Deborah Van Valkenburgh (from TV's Too Close for Comfort) as a great Eurydice. I'm still amazed that, even though the story is 2,000 years old, the play is still incredibly relevant today, with its themes of famillial ties, observance of the law, and standing up for your beliefs.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Weight: 201 lbs.

Yesterday, Sean and I visited his dad at the L.A. Travel Show, held at the Long Beach Convention Center. His dad is a director at one of the casinos in Reno, NV, and works this show every year so he sends complimentary tickets. It's one of the few opportunities they have each year to see one another. After lunch and chatting with his dad for a few hours, we checked out some of the exhibitors. They offered much of the same materials as last year -- I have a container full of travel brochures for Montréal, Ireland, Alaska and China -- so we didn't stay much longer.

Afterwards, we headed for Disneyland on a very circuitous route that took us too far out of the way. We actually discovered we were on the wrong freeway once we hit East Los Angeles!! (I've lived in Southern California all my life and still cannot make heads or tails of the freeway system....) Eventually, we found our way back to the 91 East, then the 5 South, and finally Disneyland Dr.

Though he has an Annual Pass, Sean doesn't go to Disney that often. (Whereas, I can find my way around both parks blindfolded.) He enjoys some of the shows, walking through Downtown Disney, and the Hearthstone Lounge at the Grand Californian Hotel; the rides and attractions don't do much for him. So I was pleasantly surprised that he wanted to go. We wandered through both parks, window shopping, buying handmade soap at Basin, and generally killing time until Clark joined us for dinner.

Today, I'm seeing Antigone at South Coast Repertory. I have a particular reason for wanting to see this play from Sophocles, but will get into that after the show. Until then!

Friday, February 06, 2004

The Center of OC

Most people find it difficult to accept that there is a gay community in Orange County -- especially people from Los Angeles. (I remember marching one time in the Long Beach Pride parade, carrying a banner for The Center, and many watchers along the route shouted that they didn't know Orange County had any gay people living there.) It's been said by many that those of us down here live behind the "Orange Curtain" because we live in one of the most conservative counties in the U.S. We have no defined gay area, such as West Hollywood or The Castro -- well, Disneyland could be one. We are spread out and, for the most part, blend in with our straight counterparts.

We do have the Gay and Lesbian Community Service Center of Orange County, or "The Center" for short. It began as a small call center in someone's garage, giving advice, directing men and women to the local gay scene, and telling them where to find help if they needed it. A little over 35 years later, it has blossomed into the 3rd largest Gay and Lesbian Center in the U.S., offering counseling sevices, a Youth center, health services, HIV and syphilis testing, numerous multi-lingual outreach programs, and a safe place to meet other gay men and women. When I was questioning my own sexuality, a co-worker directed me to The Center. I've made so many friends, met my first boyfriend there, and served as a staff member a few years ago. I can't imagine OC wihout it.

In the past few years, though, many of the government grants used to fund The Center have been disappearing. Programs have disappeared, staff members let go, and now, the Board is being forced to consolidate from three buildings into two in order to counteract the deficit in funding caused by budget cuts. I hope this isn't a foreshadowing of things to come, what with President Bush's stance on gay marriage and spending on HIV. I thought the government was supposed to protect it's citizens, not cause them even more distress. It's as if our safety net were slowly being dragged out from under us. I don't even want to think about the consequences.....




Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Internet Privacy

I just learned from one of the Yahoo! Groups in which I'm a member that Yahoo! is tracking Group members as they browse the internet. They employ a little device known as a "web beacon." For anyone interested, the info is in their Privacy Statement which also tells how you can opt-out of this.

Just one more way to invade your personal space. Yahoo!
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Oh, the Places I've Been

I saw this on some of the other blogs that I read and liked the idea of seeing where I've been. (Those states are in red.)




create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Weight: 204 lbs.

Okay...so I gained .5 lbs. Not too bad, considering I didn't work out Friday because of my office's new Year's Kick-Off Feast at a co-worker's home in Coto de Caza. I didn't walk at the beach this morning, either. My workout routine is changing a bit starting this week. On Mondays and Fridays, I will do my regular arm and chest work. On Wednesdays, I'm focusing on my legs since I'm going to walk more.