Saturday, July 31, 2004

Back from the City of Sin!!


Me and the Folies Bergères Girls
Originally uploaded by mrgregoc.

Went to Las Vegas on Wednesday for a company conference. I returned a few short hours ago and have spent most of the time prepping the photos for your viewing pleasure. Or displeasure, as I like to take a lot of pics of just about anything. Except people. Hmm. You can view the pictures by clicking the link to BTS 2004: Las Vegas!!. I'll write more about the trip and my experiences in Sin City tomorrow, but I really need to get back into the swing of being home. Until tomorrow!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Up, Up and Away!

Tomorrow, I'm heading for the bright lights of Las Vegas. Not for pleasure, mind you. My company has decided to resurrect our yearly company-wide gatherings. The last was held four years ago in Montréal, and then the economy took a nose-dive and, to paraphrase the immortal words of 'NSYNC, "bye bye bye" went the gatherings. But, business has been booming so from Wednesday through Saturday, yours truly will be staying at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino.

I haven't ben to Vegas since I was 6 years old. We were on a family trip around the U.S. via motorhome and stopped at Circus Circus on the way back. Their versoin of a "campground" consisted of gigantic parking spaces in their lot, complete with sewer and electrical hookups. Not a tree in site. No grass. Just yards and yards of sticky black asphalt. My brother and I were just so excited to be in Las Vegas! Even though we couldn't gamble, and really didn't have a clue as to what a slot machine was, Circus Circus was the coolest place. The topmost floor was just for us kids. Carnival games, cotton candy, clowns, acrobats, birght lights, loud music, popcorn everywhere. And no adults! It was like a kid's paradise! We ran around trying everything, playing all the games, eating way too much sugar. The first day, I walked out of there with armloads of stuffed animals that I had won.

Now...I don't know. I'm just not that excited about going. Don't know why because everyone tells me how wonderful Vegas is, there's so much to do and to see, blah blah blah. My friend C. keeps telling me that I'm going to see so many PSQ guys that I won't know what to do. (PSQ = Porn Star Quality) But, I can see that in West Hollywood, and they'll actually be porn stars. Maybe it's because of the heat, even though I'll be indoors most of the time. Maybe it's the gambling which doesn't excite me, either. (I tried a bit of the slots in Reno and just never got into it.) Maybe I'm jealous because when my counterpart in San Diego goes to the second half of the meeting in August, she's going to see the Thunder from Down Under and is rubbing it in my face because she knows they aren't performing while I'm there.

Things could change, though. I'm taking my camera just in case.

Nothing like a classic

Since I joined Netflix, I've become even more of a movie addict. But not just for the more modern films. The whole world of silent films and early talkies from the 1930s and 1940s has opened up. I've become a fan of the movies of George Cukor (including such films as Gaslight, The Philadelphia Story and The Women); the superb early performances of Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Joan Crawford; film noir detective Sam Spade; the sheer horror of Nosferatu; early camera technique from Dziga Vertov; the sex appeal of Clara Bow; and the comic genius of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

Last night, finally taking a break from all the new blogs to which I've been introduced, I sat myself down on the couch and watched Chapln's Modern Times. For a film almost 70 years old, The Little Tramps still had me laughing at his goofiness and crying at the sweetness and humanity of the character. (Yes, I admit it! I cry during films. So there!) The film also contains a scene that I'm sure many people recognize: The Little Tramp getting caught in the cogs and wheels of a gigantic machine. (see photo) Once that was finished, I shoved another load of laundry into the washing machine, then inserted another disc into the player, this time to watch Grand Hotel from 1932 and starring Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, and a young Joan Crawford. This one contains that famous Greta Garbo line: "I want to be alone!"

I can't believe all this movie history I've been missing! Sometimes I feel like such a putz for not being more familiar with these movies. But, I am catching up.

I hope they don't take away my pink card....

Sunday, July 25, 2004

"I'm a little bit country"

Weight: 195 lbs.

Not as bad as I thought, considering what I've eaten this week. Lots of fried foods. And cheesecake. And M&Ms. Bad, I know, but sometimes you just can't help it. I just hope I can get through next week while I'm in Las Vegas.

Yesterday, I woke around 6:30 AM. I had arranged earlier in the week to drive to my folks in Laguna Niguel to get my tires changed. My Dad always gets new tires from this little shop by their house. They make a quick job of it and don't overcharge. And, with no problems over the last 7 years, he highly recommends them. But we need to get there before the cars start to line up so I drag my ass out of bed, get all spiffied up and drive the 20 miles to their house.

My folks have a great 1-story house in Laguna overlooking the regional park. No one lives behind them so they have an unobstructed view of the lake and valley. They've lived there for probably 15 years now, moved right after I started college, and have watched the area grow and change from unincorporated hillsides to full cityhood complete with a new liberal arts university, shopping centers and a Wal-Mart. The only problem with the area -- other than the Wal-Mart -- comes during the summer when the summer sun beats down on their backyard. Yesterday remained at a pleasant 77˚F, but it has been known to reach well into the lower 100˚s for days at a time. This always shocks me into remembering that Southern California is a desert, no matter how close to the beach I am. (Hell, I've seen cactus growing along the beach in Laguna and San Clemente!)

But, I digress.... I arrived just before 8, picked up my Dad, and we headed for the tire place. Looking back, we should have called to make sure the place was open, but you think Saturday...many car repair places are open...not a problem. Well, this one was closed for a family wedding. The one and only Saturday that it was closed. Damn those straight weddings! We turned around and drove back to his house. But, to make sure it wasn't a complete bust, we did shampoo the rug in my car while waiting for my Mom to return from her exercise class. The interior still smells like Woolite.

After breakfast, I made my way home, where the boyfriend was all dressed and read to get out of the house. Quite an unusual surprise as he normally likes to lie in bed on Saturday mornings until noon with the fan blowing directly in his face, complaining about the heat. Within minutes, I donned a baseball cap, grabbed a CD (I'm such a Disney geek), and off we went to the Crappiest Happiest Place on Earth. It seems boyfriend wanted to buy a pin case for all the eBay and Disney pins he's gathered over the last few years, but not just any pin case. The one he wanted was faux leather with Stitch wearing a bellhop's uniform embroidered on the front. Those are sold only inside the theme parks. So we made our way to the Tragic Magic Kingdom, parked in the structure, rode the tram to the main entrance, and began our search of the shops.

At the second store on our pin case crusade, we strode into the Premiere Shop in Tomorrowland when a commotion of noise and flashbulbs stopped us in our tracks. At the back of the store, signing dolls and posing for pictures with ecstatic fans was none other than Marie Osmond, looking as happy to be there as the fans were to see her. And we forgot to bring a camera!! She designed a doll called "Adora Belle as Pin Collector and Canoe Explorer," all dressed up in bucksin, a fur hat with a tail, and a lanyard with tiny Disney pins. Yours for just $130. Boyfriend really wanted one, which is unusual as I didn't know he collected porcelain dolls. (I was about to ask him who was going to pay for it, but instead just murmured an "uh-huh" and wandered over to the churro cart outside.) He remained in the store a few moments longer, then we continued our search.

We finally found said pin case in California Adventure. After riding the Tower of Terror, the exit forces takes you through a little gift shop, complete with hotel bathrobes, towels, shot glasses, ash trays, and - lo and behold! -- the coveted pin case! He scrutinized the seven hanging on the rack for about 15 mintues then made his purchase, and we were out of there. It was also 4 o'clock, and I knew he must be starving so I mentioned a late lunch over at Tortilla Jo's. We both had the most excellent marinated chicken breast gorditas ever! Handmade and deep fried corn tortillas stuffed with marinated chicken breast, pinto beans, lettuce, salsa and feta cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about them! We passed on the fudge brownie smothered in vanilla ice cream and hot fudge, though.

We spent the rest of the night relaxing at home: boyfriend tapping away on the computer upstairs; me downstairs watching hottie Gary Gulman become a finalist on Last Comic Standing and reading 30 more pages in my Gertrude Stein book.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Can't get in the mood to blog today. Well, I don't like to leave my 2 fans with absoutely nothing for the day so here is Alien, as interpreted by bunnies.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Where eveybody knows your food order

I decided to have lunch at my favrite little Japanese take-out place over at the Food Court. On my approach to the line, the woman behind the register spied me, filled her order pad (small teriyaki chicken bowl with a medium lemonade to go) and already had my total as I stepped up to the counter. "$5.65, please." I handed her my cash; she returned the change and my medium lemonade. Not a word from me except to say "Thank you."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


My life is rated R.
What is your life rated?


Though, you'd never know it just by looking at me....

I'm not the most vocal person when it comes to politics. Just take a look at my past posts, and you can see that I prefer to talk about the banalities of my gay life in Southern California. But, I found this anit-Bush ad over at Eric's Blog and felt like sharing it with everyone. Seriously.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Surprise! It's a Gay!

Being a book whore, I tend to read almost anything I can get my greedy little hands on. With the exception of those cheesy Harlequin romances. (However, the guys in the cover art can pillage and plunder my fantasies all they want.) And, yes, being gay, I do read a lot of gay-oriented books. What I find surprising, though, is the increasing number of non-gay books that have gay characters in them.

So last night I read a bit more in 365 Views of Mt. Fuji, which tells the story of Yukawa who is hired as museum coordinator by Ichiro Ono to create a museum display for a series of paitings by a ukiyo-e artist named Takenoko, dating from the 19th Century. The paintings are currently owned by the three siblings of the Ono family, but none of the siblings is on speaking terms with the others. It's up to the curator to gather all the paintings any way he can. Ichiro sends him first to his brother Gun, who owns a club, which turns out to be a gay sex club. Through flashbacks and asides, we find out about Gun's homosexuality, some of the obstacles he has faced since childhood and how he came to run the club.

Yes, I was surprised. I didn't by the book because of Gun Ono. His gayness isn't even mentioned in the spiel on the back of the book. But, what a pleasant surprise! We gay people just pop up in the most unexpected places!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Weight: 194 lbs.

A nice relaxing day today. After I walked to the doughnut shop for six rainbow sprinkled, some milk, oj and the Sunday paper, I searched online for a movie to watch while S toiled away at work. We have three rental DVDs from Netflix, none of which S will probably want to see, but I really felt like getting out of the house. I found a 2:20 PM showing of Two Brothers, a film from director Jean-Jacques Annaud. It was only 11 AM so, with plenty of time to kill, I read the funnies (I'm a sucker for Mutts) and roughly 40 pages in one of my novels then leisurely showered. (These slow, sunny Sundays are wonderful!)

After making myself presentable, I pushed another of my mix cassette tapes into the car player and off I headed for the Block at Orange. I zipped up the 22 Fwy, pulled into the parking lot and almost immediately found a spot up front. The Block is packed on weekends, and today was no exception so I performed an inner Happy Dance at my luck. I made my way to the AMC 30 theaters, dodging toddlers, skater punks and a few tourists, and once inside, the air conditioning poured over me like water from a dip in a cold lake. My skin tingled, and if it had been any colder, the usher would have seen my breath. The movie was scheduled for one of the smaller theaters, with seats for about 60 people. When the movie started, I was one of three people in the seats; when the movie ended, I'd say about 30 people actually left the small room.

The movie itself was just as good as I thought it would be. Two Brothers tells the story of two tiger cubs, living in the jungles of Asia, who are suddenly split up when treasure whunters who are plundering a temple shoot the father tiger in self-defense. One of the tiger cubs, Kumal, is found by the expedition leader Aidan McRory (played by Guy Pearce). When McRory is thrown into prison, Kumal is sold to a gypsy circus. The other tiger, Sangha, escapes with his mother. Mother and son are separated during the Prince's hunting expedition, and Sangha is found in a cave by the son of the regional governor who brings the tiger home. But, determined to be a danger to the boy, he is given as a gift to the Prince. The tigers re-unite at a staged fight and manage to escape with McRory hot on their trail.

If you've ever seen Annaud's other animal film, The Bear, it's told in much the same way -- very little dialogue between the human characters. The animal trainers and the director did an amazing job with the tigers so, at times, I could almost tell exactly what was going through the tigers' minds. Also, Annaud films some of the scenes from their point of view to give that additional depth to the characters. Guy Pearce shows some fine work as McRory who is torn between the spoils of hunting and his love of the Kumal. It's just a great film.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

A tiring day at the fair


OCFair28
Originally uploaded by mrgregoc.

As you can see from these tuckered out little guys, the Orange County Fair was fun but tiring. Maybe it was just the 88˚F or the crowds of people shuffling through all the exhibits, or the mouth-watering smells coming from the food bazaar. We had a terrific time, as you can see from (keep your fingers crossed) these pics. We started at a free parking lot provided by AAA of California which saved us the $5 fee and the trouble of having to circle like vultures for a parking spot. This year's theme is "Jammin' It Up At the Fair" so most everything had to do with grapes or preserves or jams. Nothing terribly exciting by way of exhibits except for the Visual Arts building, with great paintings, photography, ceramics and woodworking. Some of the carnival rides in the Midway looked downright twisted. In one of the midway pics, with me in the foreground, there's an orange roller coaster behind me. The cars held four people, with two facing front and the others facing back. Once it reached the top and headed for the first hairpin turn, a lever or switch was released, freeing the car to spin as it went up and down and around the curves. I almost lost my lunch just watching it! We hung around the agricultural section most of the time, though, admiring all the vegetables, including that freakish melting gourd of which I just had to take a picture. And, of course we were fascinated by the huge sows with their equally large litters.


I hope you enjoy the pics. I'm taking a hint from the little piggies and heading for a nap on the sofa downstairs where it's cooler.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Boredom sets in....


Nothing much of interest has been happening lately. Just updated my links, adding The Criterion Collection site because I'm a movie nut and absolutely love many of the classic films they've released on DVD, like Children of Paradise, A Night To Remember, and many Akira Kurosawa films. I also wanted to give a shout out to my cousin's partner's game company, Pendulo Studios. Great animation, graphics and gameplay, but when are they going to be released over here?! (And will they be mac-compatible?)

S and I are going to the Orange County Fair tomorrow. 112 years and still going strong! The fair, not us. I mean, the 112 years thing. Not the...oh well, you get the idea. Each summer this also brings some great musicians to the OC area: The Go-Go's, the Motels, John Fogerty, Hank Williams Jr., "Weird Al" Yankovic, ZZ Top. Unfortunately, tomorrow night's performer is Carrot Top. You know, the annoying guy from the AT&T commercials? We'll probably skip that show. The cloggers look more entertaining.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Family of Max Desir by Robert Ferro

Author Robert Ferro was one of the seven members of the Violet Quill, a group of gay male writers that met in New York between 1980 and 1981, creating the base for what is now known as the "Post-Stonewall renaissance" in literature. His best known work, The Family of Max Desir, was published in 1983, and tells the story of an Italian-American family trying to build a life in the United States. While on a trip through Italy, Max discovers love with another American named Nick. They live for a while in Rome, then move back to the States where Max must deal with his father's anger toward his coming out and the mixed reaction of his family. His mother, Marie, decides to accept Max and Nick for who they are and, for the next 15 years, acts as a buffer between Max and his fahter. Time exacts its toll on Marie, though, and she succumbs to cancer. With the buffer gone, Max must now confront his father face to face.

The Family of Max Desir is a beautiful depiction of a family in crisis -- not simply a father struggling with his feelings about his son's homosexuality, but the family's dealings with the impending death of the family matriarch and the turmoil it creates. Ferro is remarkably sensitive when describing Marie's last painful days and the funeral proceedings, filling them with much warmth and love. (A few times, I found myself crying.) He is equally realistic with the bouts between Max and his father, especially when the family tree -- which includes Max's longtime lover Nick -- is removed from the house. Ferro handles all the characters as if they were real people, and it's easy to think of the events in the novel taking place in real life.

The novel doesn't have a shiny, happy ending, nor is it stereotypically tragic. The gay man doesn't commit suicide and isn't murdered because he's homosexual. Because in the end, the story is about family and everything that implies.

Gay vs. Straight

What's the difference between a gay man and a straight man? Well, according to this informative web site, it's a six-pack. And, I'm not talking abs! (Though, for anyone who's seen Margaret Cho's I'm the One That I Want, there's only one way a man can get a great set of abs....) All this time I thought it was our ability to accessorize.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Wow! I can post my own pics now!!!

GreginLB
GreginLB, originally uploaded by mrgregoc.
Sometimes, owning a Mac has its problems. Such as I couldn't use the Hello program from Blogger to post my own pics as it isn't "Mac compatible." (Kind of funny when you think about it, since many of the people at blogger.com use Mac's, too.) They found a photo program, though, that is friendly toward those of us of Mac-persuasion. If it works, ou should see a thumbnail pic of me taken last year about a month before Long Beach Pride. I'm on the deck of the Queen Mary with Long Beach behind me.

Monday, July 12, 2004

His news is bigger than your news.

Weight: 195 lbs.

Still maintaining the weight. Now that my leg is better, though, it's back to the gym so I can (hopefully) drop a few more pounds. Okay, ten more pounds. At least.

Not that Saturday helped my cause much. We drove to the AMC at Downtown Disney to watch a movie, but were too early -- about an hour and a half. Since neither of us had any breakfast yet, I suggested the Rainforest Café just across from the theaters. The line boasted a 45 minute wait, but instead of turning away, we grabbed a table in the empty bar. Within minutes, we had menus in our hands and drinks on the table. S ordered a Jungle Wrap -- scrambled eggs, sausage and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla and smothered in a Jamaican Jerk sauce and black beans. (I could smell the sauce from across the table!) I ordered Tonga Toast, which is 3 thick slices of cinnamon French toast (or, is it Freedom toast?) smothered in sliced bananas, strawberries and walnuts. Like I said, so much for the diet because I ate the whole thing.


With full bellies, we ambled over to the AMC. The movie? Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy starring Will Ferrell. We laughed the entire time. I even had tears at some points because it was so funny. Ferrell and Christina Applegate are great, but I think Steve Correll as weatherman Brick Tamland stole the show. Plus, the "gang fight" among rival TV stations is hysterical!! I don't want to say anymore so as not to spoil it for anyone else. But watch for the actors playing the rival anchormen.


Instead of hanging around Disney after the movie, we headed straight hom so S could work on eBay listings. I also had plans for the evening. My friend C was given two tickets to see Men Alive, the Orange County Gay Men's Chrous, and asked if I'd like to join him. Neither of us had ever seen the chorus perform, and it was the last show of the season so I said yes. The theme for the concert was "Legends & Divas," highlighting the music of such artists as Cher, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Céline Dion, and Barbra Streisand (of course), among others. The music was incredible, the voices meshing perfectly together, and they even threw in some campy humor with drag queens (the Elizabeth Taylor was hysterical) and dance numbers. Michael Quintos brought down the house with his performance of "Respect," filling it with all the attitude of a pure diva. Matt Jankowski hammed it up as Lola in the dance troupe for "Copacabana" but really rocked when he belted "You Raise Me Up." The whole night was glorious, listening to all those voices in harmony, watching the audience having a ball. (I wish I had continued with singing through high school and college.) Oh, and they performed two encores, the last of which was Madonna's "Vogue" complete with dancers.

Sometimes, I feel so left out of the gay community. I never go to the bars or clubs anymore, and events like the Chorus don't come around too often. Unless you want to trek the 50 miles to West Hollywood, but who wants to continually do that? That's why I enjoyed Men Alive so much, that feeling of community. Men holding hands, hugging, kissing each other. Having that sense of freedom to be themselves. I miss all that.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Results Are In...

I received the call from my doctor yesterday. Test results on the lump came back benign. It was a dermatofibroma so I had nothing to worry about. I admit, though, that I feel better electing to have it removed. And, I feel even better knowing that it was harmless. A big weight off my mind!

My Dad, on the other hand, went for testing on Thursday because he's having difficutly walking and sitting for long periods. His GP thought it to be a small hernia, but to be sure, he ordered a few tests. When I lunched with my folks on Wednesday, they both promised to call with the results. So yesterday morning, while I'm prepping the invoices for mailing, my Dad called, very solemn and quiet:

"Hello, Greg?"

"Yes, Dad."

"I need your home address." Home address? But, he knows my home address.... My mind started to tell the rest of me that something was wrong, that the doctors must have found something and told Dad to prepare for the worst. He's sitting there, on the other end of the phone as calm as can be. So I gave him my address.

"Is something wrong? What did the doctor tell you?" My eyes opened wide. My fingers turned red from gripping the handset too hard. "What happened with the tests?"

"Oh nothing," he said nonchalantly. "I'm going to be fine, but in a few months I may need a hip replacement." A hip replacement.... What a relief!! That certainly wasn't too life-threatening.

"So what do you need all that personal info for? You should have it already."

"I know, but your Mother and I are filling out our forms for The Neptune Society®, and we don't have yours or your brother's addresses handy."


I still felt relief -- albeit it somewhat morbid -- that nothing was as bad as I had thought. But still, I thought it was a bit premature to be talking about death. He's only 70, and my Mom's in her early-to-mid 60s. They both wanted to make sure that everything was taken care of beforehand so that it wouldn't be as much of a financial burden for my Brother and me. The Neptune Society® handles all aspects of cremation from the picking up of the body to the dispersal ceremony at sea. I didn't know it until yesterday, but my Grandparents are both registered for it, also. In fact, my Grandfather's ashes are already somewhere in the Pacific with the exact coordinates on file so that my Grandmother can be with him when it's her time.

For someone who enjoys horror novels and ghost stories, I really don't enjoy talking or thinking about the deaths of people close to me. Our discussing it on Friday, though, made me think about family that has already passed on: My Grandfather on my Mother's side died when I was younger, and I don't really recall anything about it. Just one day, he was no longer around, and my Grandmother lived on in their house in Ventura. My Great-Grandmother passed away a few years later from deterioration caused by Alzheimer's. My Grandfather on my Father's side was killed on the U.S.S. Hancock during WWII. My Grandmother passed away while I was very young, and it's sad that I don't have any memories of her.

It's the whole Cycle of Life. We're born; we live; we die. Sorry for such a downer of a posting. No words of wisdom to live by. Nothing revelatory about the meaning of life. I just want to take a moment to tell my family how much I love all of them, both living and departed.

I think I need a tissue....

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Spam, spam, spam, spam

Being a fan of both the great stage musicals and the zaniness of Monty Python, I was surprised to see this article about a new musical in the works called Spamalot. Can I order my tickets now?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Music in the Pre-iPod Era


Back in college, in those dark days before the invention of sliced bread and the wheel, we never had iPods containing thousands of different songs to chose from. No, we had the Sony Walkman, a bulky player for cassette tapes -- yes, magnetic tapes upon which sounds were recorded for your listening pleasure; descendants of the vinyl LP. (I can hear a few people saying "huh? vinyl?") -- that also tuned in AM and FM stations.So what if they constanly fell from your pants where you had clipped them and broke into a dozen pieces. So what if you lost a radio station with one step, gained it with another only to lose it again. So what if you had to keep a stash of batteries on you in case the player ran out of juice. That's the way things were, and we liked it!

Okay, I apologize for the horrific "grumpy old man" impersonation attempt. I just feel old realizing that a generation is growing up without knowing what such things as dial telephones, VHS tapes and vinyl records are. sigh But, as I was cleaning my closet a few days ago, I also discovered some old mix tapes that I'd made to while away the hours while I studied or took my daily walk after returning home from work. Collections of my favorite songs from my vast CD and cassette tape collection. Some still had their cases. Some even had the playlists stuck inside. All were smothered in dust.

I shoved one of the tapes into a player and listened as my past came back to haunt me. I couldn't believe what I used to listen to! God, I was such a pseudo-intellect back then. And, anyone could have told you that I was gay, even if I didn't know myself.

Side A

  1. St. Valentine's Day by Dream Academy
  2. Hounds of Love (Alternative Mix) by Kate Bush
  3. They Don't Know by Tracey Ullman
  4. Killer by Seal
  5. Message of Love by The Pretenders
  6. Time After Time by Everything But the Girl
  7. Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd
  8. Watch Me Bleed by Tears for Fears
  9. The Mirror Song by Thomas Dolby
  10. UMF by Duran Duran
  11. Nothing 'Bout Me by Sting
  12. Garden of My Childhood by Andreas Vollenweider

Side B
  1. Pharaoh Story from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (British Revival Cast)
  2. Drama! by Erasure
  3. Louis Quatorze by Bow Wow Wow
  4. Nervously by Pet Shop Boys
  5. Bui-Doi from Miss Saigon (Original British Cast)
  6. Hard Act To Follow by Split Enz
  7. It Won't Be Long by Alison Moyet
  8. Swan by Right Said Fred
  9. Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat
  10. Afer Ventus by Enya
  11. Mozart's Dies Irae
  12. Sekoi Fali by Le Mysère des voix bulgares
  13. Nkonyane Kandaba from the movie soundtrack to Sarafina!

I still have some of these albums, too. Well, except for Right Said Fred. I'm too sexy for that CD.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Happy Belated 4th of July!

Weight:
196 lbs.

I've got to get back into my routine. Too many piddly little things keep happening so I use those as excuses to postpone my workouts. STOP DOING THAT!

As for the 4th of July weekend, nothing eventful happened. No wild parties. No riotous bonfires on the streets of Huntington Beach. S was around though his hearing has yet to return to his right ear. He spent much of the weekend in a self-imposed exile, listing items on eBay or watching movies on the upstairs TV. I spent most of my time downstairs with my books, a few DVDs and some laundry. Occasionally, I ventured upstairs but always felt as though I were interrupting something. Occasionally, he tramped down the stairs, into the kitchen for a beer or wine, then back upstairs.

I wanted to go out and do something, maybe see a cabaret show at Main Street in Laguna Beach or a movie at the AMC in Downtown Disney or visit the Huntington Library or anything to get out of the house. But, it would have been by myself. So I sat downstairs and watched Millennium Actress, a beautiful anime film by Satoshi Kon; Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer; and a few old Disney cartoons from their On the Frontlines collection (vintage wartime cartoons and educational films created by Disney for the WWII war effort). I played remote control roulette and found Yankee Doodle Dandy starring James Cagney and a Twilight Zone Marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel. I progressed farther in Dreamcatcher* and The Family of Max Desir. I washed and folded laundry.

Around 9 PM on Sunday, S came down and stepped outside to view the fireworks being shot off a barge in the Pacific. Years ago, the city held its fireworks display off the end of the Huntington Beach Pier, but either because of too many mishaps or too little funding, they steered clear of any major displays. But last night, I guess the new Hyatt that recently opened managed to fork over some money (that's possibly just hearsay on my part) because they put on one hell of a show, from what I read in the paper. Of course, we couldn't see any from the barge except for the color chagne of the sky. Other people set off their own fireworks throughout the neighborhoods -- bottle rockets, Piccolo Petes, those little ones that you light and throw on the ground so they can spin into multi-colored flowers, firecrackers -- which kept us up until about 1 AM. Oh, and not to be forgotten, as we were standing on the curb in front of our house, two young dorks in a white Honda slowed down to call us a couple of faggots then sped away. God Bless America.

Today, however, my friend C and I both had the day off so we met at Disney to watch Fahrenheit 9/11 and to spend a fun day doing nothing of importance. You need those kind of days every once-in-a-while, to kill the cabin fever and to free yourself of the drudgery of daily life. We had a marvelous time riding the rides, admiring the many different plants that were in bloom, ogling (some of) the men, dining on wonderful Italian food, and just enjoying the sunshine. Who can I write to about getting more three-day weekends?

*note to self: add Dreamcatcher to Netflix list. I've got to see how the managed some of the effects, especially the creature coming out of McCarthy. Ew!!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Starting the Holiday on the Right, er, Left Foot

About a year ago, I discovered a lump on my left leg. Raised and reddish purple, I thought that maybe I'd struck my leg against the cedar chest at the end of my bed. Or perhaps it was a pimple or a wart. So I smothered it in neosporin and covered it with a bandage. It never did go away or heal. Then again, it never bled or oozed, never caused any kind of pain or discomfort so I never paid much attention to it.

Kind of a silly thing to do, I know. Especially with my family's history of skin cancer. We're all very fair-skinned, and growing up, spent a lot of time in the Great Outdoors. Now, both my parents have their skin checked two to three times a year and have small cancers burned off frequently. My Mother's had a very malignant skin tumor removed from her cheek. (Thanks to the skill of a plastic surgeon, the scar line follows along the jawline, barely noticeable.) Even I had a keratosis -- a benign skin tumor -- removed from my right cheek last October.

Monday night...I don't know why, but the sight of this lump on my leg started to bother me. Still no discomfort or anything, but I didn't like looking at it. So I started to check the health information on the Web which turned out to be a big mistake. Some of the health sites offer images of various skin conditions, and I sat for hours one night trying to match what was on my leg to one of those myriad pictures. And, as I lay in bed, my mind rifled through those same images, creating diagnosis after diagnosis, and refusing to allow me any chance of sleep. I decided in the shower the next morning to let a doctor examine it.

I scheduled the appointment for 5 PM on Friday and left work at 4 thinking it would be enough time to make it from Irvine to Huntington Beach, just 10 mile separating the two. Silly me, I made the mistake of getting on the 405 N. Just like hundreds of other drivers who were rushing home at the same time to start their holiday weekends early. At 4:30, I'd only driven about 4 miles so I exited the freeway, zoomed across surface streets -- thank you to whomever for making the majority of traffic lights green! -- and pulled into the parking structure at 4:55 PM. (My close friends know that I absolutely hate arriving late, or even cutting it close by a few minutes. It frustrates me to no end! I'm one homosexual who doesn't believe in GST - Gay Standard Time.)

One other person sat in the waiting room. He may actually have been asleep, with his eyes closed and chin touching his chest. He certainly didn't move when I opened and shut the door. I signed in, took my seat and read about 40 pages of Stephen King's Dreamcatcher before the nurse called me back to take my vitals. She jotted the information on my chart, then lead me to one of the patient rooms to wait some more. All this time I'm wondering and worrying about the bump on my leg. Is it cancer? Why didn't I come in soooner? Maybe, it's just a wart. Or a pimple gone wrong. Or an ingrown hair. I stopped these thoughts by reading a bit more of the book. What good was worrying going to do me at that point anyway? I was already in the office so I just needed to wait for the doctor.

He came in, looking a bit haggard. (I guess the day before a long weekend is pretty rough for a doctor, huh J?) He sat and asked about the lump on my leg. I showed it to him, told of its history while he, with hands in latex gloves, examined and prodded the lump, felt its texture, pinched it, then donned an odd visor with magnifying lenses to take a closer look. "It looks benign," he said. "Probably a wart or a dermatofibroma." He explained that the latter was a non-cancerous skin lesion. Not harmful, just unsightly. The only way to know for sure would be with a biopsy, but the choice was up to me.

I opted immediately for the biopsy.

He went over the procedure, telling me that he was going to anesthetize the area, perform a shave biopsy -- removal of the lump with a razor blade then sending the entire mass for testing -- then cauterize the area with an electrical current. This should prevent another growth from occurring. The doctor prepped the area with iodine, then brought out the needle. I didn't watch this part but felt the pin prick followed by the stinging warmth as the anesthetic seeped into my vein. Maybe I'd seen too many shows featuring operations because I watched the lump removal and the cauterizing with a grotesque interest. (Funny -- I couldn't stand the sight of a needle but had no problem with the blade.) I kept expecting to feel something, when the blade cut in or when the hot wire touched my skin. But nothing. It was as if he were workig on someone else's leg, not mine. And, within a few minutes, he was done.

He re-assured me that it was most likely the dermatofibroma, that I had nothing to worry about. Now, it's simply a matter of waiting for the phone to ring.

Friday, July 02, 2004

In other news...

Okay, now I'm confused. Colin Powell as the construction worker from the Village People? He did this in public? In Asia? WTF?