Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Most Filial Son

After the Battle of Bugzilla Saturday morning, I finished cleaning the house just as my Mother arrived. At the beginning of the month, I purchased tickets for the two of us to see a play as my Mothers Day gift to her. Unfortunately, my parents spent much of May out of town so May 28th was the only date available to see the play. I heard her unlatch the gate into my brother's backyard and stepped outside to meet her. She looked a bit haggard, due in part to my Grandma's hospital stay earlier in the week and to my Dad's falling down and spraining his knee. I asked if everything were okay, and she proceeded to tell me that Grandma's retirement home called. Grandma's symptoms returned -- shallow breathing, elevated blood pressure, very weak -- so they needed permission to send her to the hospital. She gave it and was about to head for the hospital when my Dad instructed her to keep our meeting. "Get out of the house. You need a break from this. Your sister can take care of everthing with your Mother until you get back tonight. Enjoy yourself!" Mom reluctantly left and here she was. I asked if she wanted to cancel and was emphatically told "No!" And with that, I followed her to her car and off we headed for Fullerton to see a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song.

Neither of us had ever seen a stage production, though we both knew songs from the show and had seen the movie. This version, according to the Fullerton Civic Light Opera's web site, showcased the 2002 Broadway revival with a new book by David Henry Hwang. So instead of the generational war concerning arranged marriages, the updated version pits older Chinese traditions against the newer Chinese-American culture with the focus on a young woman escaping Communist China. Same music, though set in a different order.

We both absolutely loved this production. Wonderful acting and singing by the entire cast. Colorful costumes. Superb choreography -- espcially all the work with fans in the Fan Tan Fannie number. Perfect comedic timing. Oh, and who could forget Harvard, played by Samuel Chen. Yes, Harvard was a gay stereotype (a costume designer/make-up artist?), but even I laughed at his antics. We left the theater smiling and headed for an early dinner in Orange at P.J.'s Abbey.

P.J.'s used to be the First Baptist Church of Orange way back in 1891. In 1994, the cost of operating the church became too much so the Mead family purchased the building, converting it into a restaurant with the city's blessing. The food was incredible, and my Mom savored every bite of her poached salmon. All I can say is that it felt a bit odd eating grilled rib eye smothered in gorgonzola cheese while sitting in an old pew. And having those kind of thoughts about the waiter while seated across from my Mom in a converted church -- well, that was downright blasphemous. I'm sure that I'm going to Hell now.

Before getting into the car for the ride home, Mom checked in with my Dad. They moved Grandma from the E/R to a room and were monitoring her; she didn't tell me the rest, but I could tell she was upset with her Sister. I didn't press for further details. During the drive back, we talked of the play and the dinner; I think she enjoyed that brief respite.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Someone Hates Me

Or enjoys playing tricks on me. I just swept the third -- yes, folks, I said third -- potato bug from my house! Ick! Ick! Ew! Ick! Ew! This encouter occurred while straightening the slip cover and blanket on my sofa. I snapped the blanket in the air to make it easier to fold when a large brown object flew through the air and thumped onto the carpet. I turned just in time to see that accursed creature right itself and just sit there, contemplating the tiny space in the baseboard, perhaps planning its escape. After stifling my girlish shriek, I ran into the kitchen for the broom. Killing it was the farthest thing from my mind; no, as hideous as that insect may appear, I decided to sweep it out the front door.

Two problems: first, we were about 15 feet from the door with carpet as the only floor covering. Second, the front door was shut - and locked. I quickly swept the mutant toward me, but he she it spun and made a b-line for the baseboard gap. More frantic sweeping as I slowly maneuvered it across the carpet, inching closer toward the door. I reached to unlock the deadbolt when the damned bug scurried onto the linoleum in the kitchen. "Shit!" With one broom-laden hand, I continued sweeping the bugzilla toward me, finishing with the deadbolt and the lock on the doorknob, swung open the door and flung the creature.

Right into the closed screen door. "Dammit!" I hurriedly thrust open the screen and caught the insect in the broom's bristles just as it headed for my socked foot. One quick sweep, and it was sliding into the darkness beneath my car.

I think I need a drink.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Moving Is Stressful

My Grandma lives in a Senior Assisted Living community in Laguna Hills. They serve three meals a day, schedule dozens of events and outings for their guests, provide transportation to medical appointments, have a huge pool and a good sized putting green. But it's not exactly a new place. When I visited with her on Thursday last week, she was in the stages of packing a small suitcase and emptying her fridge of perishable foods -- all in preparation of a temporary move on Monday so the Property Owners could tent the entire complex for termites. I helped with a few things, but we mostly sat and talked about our trips to Hawaii, the family, and other anecdotal stories about old friends of hers. After an hour, I could tell she was getting tired so I hugged and kissed her goodbye.

Yesterday, my Mother called to tell me that Grandma had been taken to the hospital early in the morning. Grandma's move had been uneventful though the hotel to which she'd gone wasn't completely prepared for so many elderly guests. The showerhead hovered too high for my Grandma and Mother to reach. The toilet sat incredibly low to the ground making rising from the seat quite difficult. They still offered the transportation to and from medical appointments and other events so on Tuesday, my Grandma headed for the hotel bus when the bus driver noticed her shaking and walking funny. He left the bus and helped her to a bench then called for someone from the hotel staff to get a nurse. They took her blood pressure which was 160 over 70 and steadily rising. The hotel phoned my Mother who quickly arrived and gave Grandma another pill for her blood pressure. But it continued to rise, finally reaching 190. An ambulance arrived, taking her to the hospital where, at 1:15 in the morning, her blood pressure topped at just over 210.

Blood and urine tests came back clear, as did every other test the doctor-on-call could perform. No signs of stroke or heart attack. She was terribly waek, though, and the three times between midnight and 1:15 that she needed to use the restroom, my Mother had to carry her. She was terribly dehydrated so the hospital quickly got that under control. No one -- not even the doctor -- could tell what was going on and could only wait.

I checked in later in the afternoon. Grandma's blood pressure had finally dropped closer to normal. From what my Mother learned, the doctor believes that the stress of packing and moving may have been the root of the problem but to make sure, they were keeping her until at least Friday morning. So far, she seems to be doing well and can't wait to return to her old place.

UPDATE: I spoke with my Grandma yesterday, and she's doing fine. The hopital released her, and she was going to spend the night at my folks'. The doctor still believes that stress caused this episode, and I storngly agree, knowing how stress has wreaked havoc in my own life. Thanks for all the nice comments!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Pride in the LBC

It's that time of year again -- time for gay boys and girls to gather together for a weekend of all things gay. And in Southern California, the kick-off to the festival season begins with Long Beach. Saturday afternoon found CS, RG, SK and myself wandering around from booth to booth in the hot sun, adding our names to lists for potentially free theater tickets or a gay cruise to the Bahamas. A man wearing a black leather vest and matching chaps (and nothing else) stood before the Leather Tent, luring men and women behind the white tent flaps to learn more about fun with electricity. A woman held onto her girlfriend's hand as they walked the grounds, receiving many compliments on the breast-shpaed balloons (complete with nipples) trailing behind them. Men strode about shirtless, displaying their tanned and muscled chests with the hopes of meeting a boyfriend or a one night stand. Or simply because they enjoyed showing off. A drag queen strutted by wearing a flowing pink gown, golden knee high boots and an afro to shame Phil Spector. Many couples maneuvered strollers in between and around dozens of festival goers.

Men and women of every shape, size and race walked through the festival gates to enjoy being with others just like them. And, we were among them. We perused the many clothing booths, checking out the latest in Utilikilts, t-shirts, hats, baby clothes. (SK bought another kilt, whereas I opted for the WOOF! baseball cap.) Some booths pumped loud music; others enticed us with a few porn stars in the flesh, so to speak - sad to say that I didn't recognize any of them; the food booths charged way too much for a cheeseburger, but I ate one anyway. At one point, the heat finally started getting to all of us so we bought bottles of water and plopped ourselves down on the grass to listen to one of the musical acts - Bad Haggis, a great combination of alternative and celtic music, complete with bagpipes.

Taking a look around the festival grounds, I noticed something a bit disturbing. Ever since my first festival all those many years ago, they had been filled with not only clothing and food vendors, but many community groups: gay/lesbian centers, clinics, churches, counseling centers, doctors, community activist programs, etc. Not this year. Long Beach was definitely lacking for such groups. Oh, they were there, but were relegated to the other side of the fence, away from where the crowds were filing through. Fewer people stopped by their tables. Has the community changed so much that such groups are needed less and less in the community? I doubt that. The need for such groups will always be there. I've since learned, though, that many of the community organizations that should be there, couldn't afford the $1,500 (that's what I was told) space fee. Federal and state budget slashing have taken away the ability for many to even get the word out about there services; to overcharge these groups for what amounts to a folding table's worth of space just riles my blood.

Taking a look around the festival grounds, I see how much the festival is changing from a community event into a swap meet. Shirts. Caps. Food. Clothing. Sex toys. Porn. Beer.

Maybe I'm a bit jaded from the whole festival scene. I think the rest of my group was, too. We left early to grab a bite at Hamburger Mary's instead of hanging around to see Macy Gray. HM was packed wall to wall with men and women, yet we didn't have to wait long for a table. We sat on the porch, enjoying the view (porn star Thom Barron and his partner), the drinks and the burgers. Afterwards, we headed to Laguna Beach for a little quiet time at Bounce, just to unwind from the long day.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Thanks for the Fish

I met CS on Friday evening at Downtown Disney to finally see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The trailers dazzled with nifty special effects but not an iota of the story, and not being familiar with the series of novels, I worried that the film wouldn't be more than just a special effects vehicle. Hesitation kept me from wanting to see it -- that, and lackluster reviews. Curiosity won in the end.

Now I know why it killed the cat.

I didn't exactly dislike the film. The trailers proved correct: dazzling special effects. The character Humma Kavula and the planetary construction segments definitely impressed me. The acting turned out to be better than I thought, especially Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent and Mos Def as Ford Prefect. However, while I really like Sam Rockwell, his Zaphod Beebelbrox became one of the more annoying elements of the film; so did Martin the Manic Depressive robot, whose sparkling personality grew tiresome as the movie progressed. The story never quite gelled for me, and the humor fell flat for the most part. It also seemed as though the movie wasn't geared toward the entire movie-going public, just the fans of the novels or who had at least read one or two of them.

I left the theater unimpressed with the film and wondering what the heck the Hitchhiker's Guide had to do with the film since the characters only rarely referred to it.

Although, that inane song keeps running through my head.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Picture Within a Picture

Sunday, I visited Disneyland for the first time since they commenced their 50th Anniversary celebration. The above picture is just one of many photo collages that are scattered throughout the park, each being made of pictures old and new submitted by visitors. Kids decked out in Geranimals; the Astronaut who roamed around the first incarnation of Tomorrowland; cast members past and present; families enjoying the day. I submitted about 9 pictures of family, friends, and various other things around the parks, and, surprisingly, they used at least four of them. When CS and I arrived early, before our official meet with the Disney Gay Passholders Group, we located a kiosk that provided copies of where to find your pics through the park. In the picture above - the scene from Fantasmic - one of my pictures is used twice: in the flame shooting from the dragon's mouth and in the cliff upon which the dragon stands. One of the most interesting locations for my pics happened to be in the Toy Story collage. I scanned that collage, shouting to CS, "It says I'm located in Jesse's Pants, but I can find it!" The look I received from a woman seated next to the collage....

We finally wandered over to the group and spent the rest of the day checking out all the new things around the parks: the piranha in The Jungle Cruise, the new air canons in Pirates of the Caribbean, the new parade/show with animatronics, acrobats, a really cute blond guy as Prince Phillip (Sleeping Beauty), and the amazing fireworks show. I've never been so impressed with pyrotechnics before, but all I can say is "Wow!"

The group chose The Blue Bayou for dinner, and we were fortunate enough to have tables along the water. The Director of Guest Services -- I think that's who he is -- dined with us, as well. Good thing, too, because we made reservations for 6:30 but weren't seated until 7:30. Each person at the table -- that's 19 people -- ate a complimentary dessert. Fried cheesecake resting in a pool of warm caramel sauce for me. Nothing tastes better than a free dessert.

The group also surprised me with a $120 donation for AIDS Walk, bringing my total raised so far to $1220. Yea!

I finally left the parking structure around 11:15 PM and crawled into bed at 12:30 AM.

P.S. If you clicked on the link to the Disney Gay Passholder's page, yes, that is me in the picture, kneeling on the bottom right. Just in case you wanted to know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Reality

I find myself reading more and more non-fiction lately. Not that I'm giving up on fiction. I still heart my volumes of Stephen King, Yukio Mishima and Ambrose Bierce, but books concerning real events are clandestinely working their way into my reading list. Just this past Saturday, instead of spending the gloriously sunny day at the movies, the beach or Disneyland, I locked myself in my little house to finish The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Something about the juxtaposition of true stories - of the architect Daniel Burnham and his struggles to design and build the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago and of the serial killer H.H. Holmes who used the fair as a ploy to lure young women to Chicago - captured my interest and wouldn't allow me to stop reading. Burnham faced the daunting task, once newspapers announced that Chicago had earned the right to hold the fair instead of New York, of mustering up interest by his architects of choice, finding a suitable location, working under the enormous time constraints (the fair wasn't completed when it opened), fighting unpredicatble weather, and, of course, dealing with the constant pressure of trying to top the more recent World's Fair in Paris that introduced the Eiffel Tower. I admit to smiling when I learned that thanks to Chicago's fair, we now have shredded wheat, incandescent light bulbs, and what surpassed the Eiffel Tower: a 250-feet in diameter iron wheel with Pullman cars spaced along its arc - the Ferris Wheel, named after its inventor George W. Ferris. But this particular fair also had a darker side, thanks to Dr. H.H. Holmes and his World's Fair Hotel. Many young ladies in his employ disappeared, and he created elaborate stories of them leaving town to wed or to visit family. When he was finally captured, he had come to believe that he was becoming the Devil.

I made Saturday a marathon reading session, and immediately after closing the covers on The Devil..., continued with In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This novel recreates the brutal murder of four members of the Clutter family from Holcomb, Kansas in November of 1959, then follows the paths of both law enforcment and of the killers until they are caught, senteced and executed. The novel gripped and held onto me, with its depictions of the Clutter family, the townsfolk, the police and even with Capote's development of the two killers. I knew they were real, but the came across on paper as more than two-dimensional. I forced myself to put the book down when my body finally reminded me that I needed to get some sleep. I left the remainng six pages for the next morning.

I've read many a fiction book that can't hold a candle or my interest as these did.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Mr. Oblivious

Friday, I decided that I needed a break from the straight world so I called up CS and asked if he wanted to grab a bite to eat at Hamburger Mary's. A few hours later, he was at my house, raring to hop on PCH and to drive us to Long Beach. We could have stayed in Orange County, trekking down to Laguna Beach for some cabaret at Main Street Bounce with the Diva Karen Cobb, but we've done that so many times that we both felt a change was desparately needed. Plus, I had a coupon for Hamburger Mary's.

We arrived at 7 PM to find the parking lot full, which isn't that surprising on a Friday night. CS dashed through the surrounding neighborhoods and found a free spot roughly two blocks away. Back at the restaurant, I was surprised at how many tables stood empty considering the parking situation; we easily found a table and seated ourselves. All the TVs played 80's videos: Thompson Twins, Wang Chung, OMD, Blondie, even a remix of music from Grease. Then, Our LIps Are Sealed by The Go-Go's appeared, and I sadly remembered when I first heard that song on the radio while I was a freshman in high school -- over 20 years ago. 20 YEARS! God, I felt old. But still, we both sang along - as did most of the patrons. Our waiter - a very hunky young blonde by the name of Jeff in his tight black HM Crew t-shirt and white pooka shell necklace - brought us menus and took our drink order, but before he could place the drink order, the owner arrived at our table with a pitcher of (cheap) beer and two glasses. "Congratulations! You're at the 13th table on this Friday the 13th!" CS and I looked at each other, then back at the owner who started pouring a glass. Jeff tapped him on the shoulder and told him that we were at table 22, not 13, and in fact, that no one was sitting at table 13. The owner's face reddened as he picked up the pitcher and glasses, returning them to the bar. He avoided our table the rest of the evening.

We eventually ordered and ate our burgers, listening to the ever-changing music styles, commenting on the cute waitstaff and some of the well-built customers, and simply enjoying an evening out where we could be ourselves. We talked about plays that we wanted to see (such as Wicked and a new musical version of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir), the upcoming Long Beach Pride Festival and if we were going this year, and, of course, books and movies. At 8:30, Jeff asked if we wanted anything else - dessert, coffe, a drink - and CS ordered a dry Grey Goose martini. Jeff then looked at me, and I couldn't decide so I asked what he thought would be good. He suggested a glass of Southern Comfort mixed with cranberry juice. He'd tried one a few nights ago and thought it was delicious. I'd never tried whiskey before, and I love cranberry juice so I decided to try one. As he walked away, CS shouted to add a bit of 7Up to cut the alcohol. Jeff smiled and winked. Well, when he finally brought the drink, it was a glassful of whiskey with the juice of maybe one cranberry squeezed into it. He saw me wince with the first sip and asked if he should take it back. I thanked him but said that I would drink it. But I did order a glass of cranberry juice which dulled the alcohol quite a bit.

We left Hamburger Mary's around 9:30 and started for home, but for some reason, we really didn't want to leave Long Beach just yet so we swung back around on Broadway and searched the neighborhoods around The Mineshaft and The Brit for a parking space. We drove around for a good 15 minutes, winding around neighborhoods on both sides of Broadway, before I spotted a space just about a block from The Falcon. The night air was cool and pleasant so we made our way up the street just to enjoy the evening. We passed by the blinding neon green near The Brit, swerving through people smoking and loitering around the entrance, glanced in, and moved on to The Paradise. Lots of good-looking men crowded around the inside of the door, at the tables and along the bar listening to the soft voice of the man at the piano singing Broadway melodies. I followed CS as he weaved through the crowd to the end of the bar. We conferred for a moment and chose to stop here for a little while so CS ordered a Coke (for me) and a cranberry juice (for him). One of the tables close to the piano player opened so we quickly sat down to enjoy the show. The place was filled with beautiful men of all ages - both in front of and behind the bar - and from our vantage point, we could see them all. Of course, I found the piano player the most handsome - named Saif Eddin, tall, trimmed goatee, hairy chest poking through his dress shirt, soft hazel eyes, a beautiful voice - the kind of guy who makes you melt when he looks at you. He played/sung the entire theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show to the delight of everyone. He kept glancing over and smiling at me (I'm sure that I was just imaging that, as he wore a good-size silver band on his "wedding" finger, and he probably does that to everyone in order to get more tips. But it's nice to imagine...).

At one point, an attractive young man set his beer down on our table while talking with his friend. He finally noticed that CS and I were sitting at the table and asked if it were alright for him to set his beer there. We both said that was fine, and then he went on talking with his friend and soon left. CS said to me, "See what he did to get to talk to you?"

Now, I have only been "out" for maybe 10 years. I didn't date at all during high school nor college, in large part because I wasn't sure of my own sexuality. I didn't want that to interfere with getting a degree, but looking back, I missed out on so much. I never experienced much of what I read about in gay books: having a first fling with someone from high school, the sex, the partying, the dealing with who I was. It's not as though many places existed - that I knew of, anyway - to gain experience, especially in such a repressed location as Orange County, CA. Not being that exposed to it - to guys hitting on me or flirting with me, to socializing with other gay men - I never know now when it's happening, how to respond or even how to hit and to flirt myself. So when CS says something like he did, I never know whether to take him seriously or not. That night, I shrugged it off.

But, it just makes me wonder if I've missed so much more.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

L'insomnie

For the past two months, I've had the worst time staying asleep. I'll wake up at 2:30 - 3 AM then lie in bed either staring at the ceiling or tossing and turning, trying in vain to force myself back to sleep. I tried lsitening to soft music and reading before bedtime; opening my window to allow cooler air into the room - that resulted in three spider bites on my face; covering extra light sources such as the glowing blue alarm clock or the red light on my optical mouse; stretching on the couch instead of the bed. I re-started my gym routine hoping the exercise would force my body to want a full night's sleep. I stopped drinking iced tea with dinner so as to keep the caffeine from my system. One web site suggested that when I awoke early to read something until feeling sleepy again; I stayed up until time to prepare for work, finishing a 150-page novel.

The first appearance occurred about two weeks before my colonoscopy so I assumed that I was worried about the procedure and that once it was over, the sleeplessness would disappear. No such luck. I slept well the first two nights but think that was in large part to the aftereffects of the Demerol. Then, I thought Elton John was the problem because I would wake up hearing lyircs from Holiday Inn playing through my head in a non-stop loop. This past Tuesday, though, I experienced a mini-epiphany.

CS, joela and I were standing in the parking lot of a Hoff's Hutt across the street from the Crystal Cathedral, talking about men, when it dawned on me that my sleeplessness began after I received an email from my Ex, the one who decided in August to move back to Reno, NV. Well, he only stayed a few months and wrote to tell me that he's living in the family's cabin in Big Bear, hoping to open it up as a Bed and Breakfast. I hadn't thought about it until standing there in the parking lot, but that's when my sleep troubles began. I mentioned this to CS and joela, and they both agreed that might be the real casue of the insomnia. Wow...pent up agnst about my Ex. Who would have thought....

Yes, I do have some anger toward him and the way in which he left. I started writing some of those feelings down in a paper journal on the advice of CS and joela.

I also slept 7 hours last night.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Why We Never Danced the Charleston

Two weeks ago, I came across two gay novels while rummaging through the For Sale books at the library. Not very unusual, but someone had jokingly mixed them in with the religious and inspirational novels. How did I know they were gay (and what the hell was I doing looking at the religious novels?!)? Well, next to a copy of The Bible stood the bright yellow cover of Rupert Everett's Hello Darling, Are You Working?, and it struck me as funny that those two books were side by side. I immediately picked up Everett's novel and in its space fell a slim book by Harlan Greene. The picture on the cover - of a beautiful young man holding a large magnolia blossom - caught my eye, and after reading the blurb on the back, I decided to buy that one, as well. Plus, it was only 25¢.

In this remarkable little novel, Why We Never Danced the Charleston, the unnamed narrator recounts the love triangle between himself and two other men in 1920's Charleston - a very repressive time when even a new dance was considered shocking enough to have people arrested. The young narrator meets Ned Grimke, a shy, club-footed boy, when just a child and begins an unusual friendship. As they grow older, the narrator tries to distance himself from him, not liking the unusual attraction that Ned has for him; he soon learns that he himself has such strange urgings for other men. He begins to haunt the secret places where such men meet: a waterfront area known as The Battery and the Peacock Alley Bar.

One night, the narrator meets the handsome Hirsch Hess, a brooding Jew who seems bent on self-destruction over his homosexualtiy, trying to find someone else to blame for it. They share a short-lived affair until Hirsch accidentally meets Ned. The two form a strange, very close bond that both the narrator and societal pressures attempt to break with disatrous results.

Why We Never Danced the Charleston offers a unique glimpse at homosexuality in the South during the 1920's - a time when sexual expression was just beginning with new dances and other forms of culture. Greene depicts a very repressed society, in which everyone knows that the love between two men is wrong, where such men are taught to loathe themselves and others like them, and yet they survive, live and love despite what society says. His characters and their reaction to the time and societal norms with which they live come across very realistically. And, even though the ending is typically tragic for a gay novel, I still enjoyed reading it.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Able Was I Ere I Saw Elba

You may recognize that odd sentence as a palindrome, a word or phrase which reads the same forward or backward. I mention this only because I watched a very odd film last night written and directed by Todd Solondz titled Palindromes. It tells the story of a 13-year-old girl named Aviva who, more than anything in the world, wants a baby. While visiting with family friends, she convinces Judah - the son of the family friends - to have sex with her. Her parents find out later, only after taking her to the family doctor to learn what could be causing the mysterious bouts of vomiting. Her mother forces her to undergo an abortion. Aviva is so distraught afterwards that she runs away, determined to have a baby one way or another. Her journey takes her into the strangeness of the Sunshine family and their view of God and the world.

The previews made this seem like such an interesting film, mostly because the character of Aviva is played by eight different actresses of varying ages, sizes, and races including Jennifer Jason Leigh and a fine performance by Sharon Wilkins (as the Mama Sunshine Aviva). Unfortunately, I've learned that many movies don't live up to their previews, and this happens to be one of them. The performances of the eight Avivas and those of Broadway veterans Debra Monk and Walter Bobbie as Mama and Mr. Sushine were the only things I enjoyed. The film bogged down with its bizarre tale of pedophilia and abortion, and I left the theater feeling dirty and a bit confused as to what I had just witnessed. I think it tried to be funny in parts but came across sophmoric. I hate to say this, but whenever Ellen Barkin tried to emote on screen, her face had the same flat expression - probably due to Botox or plastic surgery*. I found it difficult to take her seriously when she seemed to be constantly smiling during her tears of pain.

I admit to being suckered into the film by the idea of eight different people playing the same character, and for the most part, it did work. When Aviva changed - even though her name gives the idea that she's constant and unchanging because it reads the same forward and back - I liked that her family and those around her didn't notice the change. Life just continued. Kind of like the two Darrens on Bewitched only with a more dramatic flair. Also of note is that Solondz used the eight actresses much like a palindrome: starting with Emani Sledge, working to Jennifer jason Leigh as Mark Aviva, then working backwards in order to end the movie with Emani Sledge. Nice concept, however, that wasn't enough to sustain the film. Which is probably why only two of us were in the theater.

It's films like these that make me tilt my head and say "Huh?"


* I don't know if that's true or not, but I thought I'd put in this disclaimer in case Ms. Barkin should ever read this blog. You never know.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

This Is How I Should Feel...

After re-starting my gym routine, isn't this how I'm supposed to feel? Pumped up. Energized. Big and strong. Waiting for everyone to worship my pumped up muscles.

If it were only that simple. Every part of my body aches: arms from the weight machines; legs from the treadmill and calf press; lower back from the crunch machines. My eyes hurt from too much sweat dripping into them. My entire body sits poised to revolt against me or to sleep. It hasn't decided yet. Only one other time have I felt so wasted after exercising: when I attempted a spinning class last June.

The gym has become a necessary evil in my life, especially since my tummy problems. I stayed away and put on about 7 pounds until given the all clear by my doctor to return. My goal is to reach 190 lbs. -- eventually. My diet's already changed to one with more fiber (salad, grains, a horsefeed bag tied around my neck) and more Metamucil. I just need to get back into the habit of walking and exercising regularly.

Or find a doctor who can perform a full-body transplant....

Monday, May 02, 2005

Catharsis

Throwing away those old, negative journals that I mentioned in my previous post was very cathartic for me. Once the pages hit the can, my entire weekend seemed brighter, and I enjoyed lazing about the house on Saturday and spending the day outdoors on Sunday. Some highlights:

-- staying up until the wee morning hours Saturday to finish The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin, then proceeding to sleep for 7 hours straight (something I haven't managed to do for almost a month)

-- nothing beats a brisk walk on a sunny day to the Ruby's at the end of the Pier and returning home with a Rubymelt (and fruit cup - no fries) to watch Evan Farmer on While You Were Out

-- getting a haircut and having a tall, handsome fireman make eye contact via the mirror and smile at me

-- wandering around Disneyland taking pictures of flowers just for the heck of it (see them HERE)

-- riding The Tower of Terror twice in a row without having to leave the elevator car (sorry, CS!)

-- noticing that I've already raised a little over $700 to walk in the AIDS Walk this year, and there's still a month left!!!

I need more weekends like that.