Friday, April 28, 2006

Like Falling off a Wagon

When I weighed myself last Saturday, the red line hovered just around 197 lbs. I'm sure my 24-hour porcelain polka helped matters along, but who am I to begrudge anything that helps even remotely with my diet? Imagine my shock this morning when the scale crawled back up to 199 lbs. I double-checked, no TRIPLE-checked to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. Sure enough, the arrow held fast to its first reading.

Sigh....

Looking back over the meals of the week, I guess I did try to make up for lost foodage: lots of French fries, a couple of burgers (turkey and Boca -- no red meat), my weight in sesame sticks, pre-packaged Jell-o cups, M&M's. I didn't realize just how much I was eating until I stepped on that hideous, cold, white metal scale. A small step backwards from the past 7 weeks, but an easy one to overcome.

Now, if only my stomach would stop growling....

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Effect of Memes on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Just a bit of a slow news day for me. Unless you'd like to read about the dead rabbit in the crosswalk from my walk to lunch about an hour ago. Or the other two movies I've seen since Saturday -- Scary Movie 4 (hysterical! I'll never look at Brokeback Mountain the same way again!) and Ice Age: The Meltdown (okay, but not as good as the first). I can't even muster the energy to discuss how my AIDS Walk team is faring so far (donations glady accepted by clicking the link on the left of the Web page). Instead, I'm following along with A Guy's Moleskine Notebook to complete another book-related meme.

1. How many books are in your collection?
According to LibraryThing, I own roughly 350 books, most of which rest every-which-way on my shelves and along my entertainment center.

2. What are you reading now?

A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett (a young woman becoming a doctor against societal rules during the late 1800's)
A Fable by William Faulkner (struggling with this one as it is such a departure writing-wise from his other works)
Blackbird by Larry Duplechan
A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White
Best Murder of the Year by Jon P. Bloch

3. What are some of the books you want to read?

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
Forbidden Colors by Yukio Mishima
Rhadopis of Nubia by Naghuib Mahfouz
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Frontiers by Michael Jensen

4. What is your most recent acquisition?

Best Murder of the Year by Jon P. Bloch

5. Which five books register the most in you?

Like People in History by Felice Picano
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
Blindness by Jose Saramago
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Monday, April 24, 2006

"Two feet of long, tubular SEX!!"

I spent much of Friday splayed along my couch, the TV murmuring incoherently in the background as I tried to catch up on the lost sleep from earlier in the morning. However, the neighbor's noisy re-modeling of his house put an end to that around 11 AM so I opened one of my books and read the last 250 pages before 3 PM. I ate very little, just a few sesame sticks, some water, a glass of orange juice. Lucky for me, my boyfriend dropped by around 6 PM with chicken soup, Gatorade, jell-o and crackers. He stayed for a while, sitting with me on the couch, watching some TV, talking about books and movies. He's such a great guy....

>By Saturday afternoon, my stomach still hurt but nothing like Friday morning. I gobbled two pieces of toast and some water and felt good enough to drive to Long Beach for some more quality time with my boyfriend. We both wanted to get away from our parts of Southern California and drove north into Los Angeles, having decided to see find a movie worth watching. Our search ended at The Grove, where we found a funny British comedy called Kinky Boots. But first, both our stomachs growled loud enough for a few heads to turn as we waited in line to buy tickets ($12.50 a ticket!!) so we quickly made our way to the Farmers' Market, dodging strollers and tourists, sitting down to some great gourmet pizza and enjoying a bit of people watching.

Back in the theater, I was surprised by the number of people already filling the seats. He found two empty ones -- together -- about three rows from the back of the theater. No sooner did we sit than the three previews began. Three previews. Only THREE previews. It was like Heaven.... I almost thought the movie itself was a preview until I saw the opening credits.

The movie revolves around the Price and Sons shoe factory, which has been creating quality men's shoes since the 1800's. Charlie Price suddenly finds himself in charge after the unexpected death of his father and soon learns that one of their largest clients filed for bankruptcy more than three years ago, though they continue to create shoes for them. Unable to find a new buyer for the shoes, Charlie is forced to fire a few employees. Lauren, one of the unlucky workers, tells Charlie in a fit of frustration that he needs to find a new niche market. And by some accident later that evening, he meets Lola, a six-foot-tall black drag queen in thigh-high, red, broken-heeled women's boots. Inspired, Charlie finds his new niche market and with the help of Lola and Lauren, convinces the crew at the factory that this is the new direction of the company.

Oh, and it's based on a true story.

Nothing unexpected happened as far as the storyline, but the acting and the storytelling made this a fun film, with everyone in the crowd laughing hysterically the entire time. Joel Edgerton's Charlie is meek at first, unsure of what he's supposed to be doing and not quite sure how to handle Lola. Sarah-Jane Potts as Lauren comes across as the perfect match for Charlie, believing in him and what he can do and telling him when he's being a nitwit. Chiwetel Ejiofor's Lola is strong-willed and no-nonsense, and manages to steal the entire film. (Plus, Ejiofor does all his own singing throughout the film, and he certainly has the chops for it!) We left the theater with tears in our eyes from laughing so hard.

Since he paid for the movie tickets and lunch, I treated him to dinner afterwards at the French Quarter in West Hollywood. (It's always nice to eat amongst our people, and living in Orange County, I certainly don't get many opportunities.) While we ate, Angelyne stepped into the restaurant and wandered her way through some of the stores surrounding the dining area. Our one celebrity sighting for the day.

We didn't stay much longer after that, both of us fairly wiped out from the drive and the movie.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Rumbly in my Tumbly

I woke early this morning -- around 2 AM -- with a case of "explosive" diarrhea. For the next few hours, I struggled between trying to fall back to sleep and maneuvering my way through the darkness to the bathroom. My stomach still hurts. Nausea keeps any kind of food or drink as far away from my lips as possible. I may have eaten some bad turkey last night. Or maybe it was the fake cheese. Either way, I called in sick -- I could barely make it through my shower while fighting the urge to jump out and quell my stomach; no way I could drive a car the 10 miles to the office. Why did this have to happen on a Friday?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Path Less Traveled

My last walk to the beach occurred last November, before the temperatures dropped to very cold (for Southern California) and before my skirmish with pneumonia. I promised myself that this year I would make it a part of my weekly routine to walk along the coast instead of sitting inside my little home watching TV or typing a long-winded blog post. Almost four months have passed since, and finally this evening, after dinner, I swappd my work shoes for sneakers, donned my Hard Rock Café cap, slid my camera into a pocket and stepped down my street to the beach.

A few clouds held their positions in the sky, and I managed to take a picture of this unique smoke trail a block or two from my home. This was the first time I had walked to the beach at dusk, and as I neared Pacific Coast Highway, I quickly made the decision to turn right instead of my usual left. The left, or south, didn't offer much in the way of light: streetlights spaced exactly the same distance apart but their orange glow not affording a bit of safety; the occasional headlight from a speeding car; fewer lights along the beachside path. Almost silent except for the soft crashing of the waves and the whirr of a passing bicycle. To the right lay the Pier, downtown Huntington Beach, and hundreds of people eating at the sidewalk restaurants, listening to overly loud music at the bars or in their cars. I usually avoided heading to the right. But with camera in pocket (and cellphone clipped to my belt just in case), I turned toward the Pier.


As the path drew closer to the hub of activity, I noticed sculptures and murals that I never knew existed. A female skin diver sinking into the concrete. A three-dimensional mural of the Pier and the marine life that call the waters off Huntington Beach home. A powder blue whale's fluke splashing into the center of a plaza. International stone surfboards that would more likely sink than catch a wave. The mere fact that they were along the beach, that the city had placed them for the public to admire, declaim, consider or ignore, surprised me. Hidden treasures in my own backyard.

I grew up not five miles from here. I live a scant few blocks away. I drive by these constantly and didn't know they even existed. To think if I had turned left what I would have missed....

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Family That Eats Together

I glanced up from my book as the family walked in -- mother, father and a tall, gangly son with his head permanently focused on the red Gameboy in his hands. The waitress seated in the booth next to mine, allowing me to watch as the father gallantly offered the cushion to his wife before sliding in beside her, both their backs toward me, while the son threw himself into across the seat opposite, headphones probably glued to his ears while his lowered eyes focused intently on whatever game he played.

My attention returned to the tale of Nan, who had just decided to tell Dr. Leslie that she had decided to follow in his footsteps, becoming a doctor. She hefted a small log onto the fireplace and turned to say something to Dr. Leslie, with the hope of gaining his approval, when I heard a soft voice from the family's table. My head still turned toward the book, I raised my eyes to see the mother, her right arm gently rubbing the upper back and shoulders of the father as she spoke to her son. Her head gently nodded as she spoke, as if she needed movement as well as words to get her son's attention.

The boy paid her no mind, choosing instead to continue pressing those little buttons. She whispered something into the father's ear then kissed his cheek and laid her head on his shoulder.

I wondered if this were how she imagined her life after marrying and having a child: sitting in a booth at an IHOP across from the airport. Her form a little thicker, hair a little grayer than a few years ago. A husband -- still cutting a dashing figure, though a bit thicker as well, with a small bald patch where a cowlick once was. A pale, thin son too focused on the imaginary to even say a word or two to his mother while at a restaurant. Would she change things if she could? Make a different decision while in school, follow a dream to be a dancer or teacher or doctor?

Watching her with the father, the faded green of her blouse almost indistinguishable from the muted gray of his polo, they seemed happy. They seemed like a couple. As if she could never picture herself with someone else. The whisperings, the touch of her fingers on his shoulders, the brush of lips against his cheek. This was where she wanted to be.

I closed my book, smiling to myself, and grabbed my check as the waitress approached their table.

Monday, April 17, 2006

On a Clear Day

Easter Sunday turned into a beautiful day, thanks in part to the cold winds blowing the clouds and smog inland toward the mountains. Santa Catalina Island rose clear and distinct off the coast. Flying dragons, Mylar arcs and multi-colored kites danced skyward in the breeze. White-capped waves surged onto the shore in immediate succession, much to the apparent delight of the surfers who quickly charged back into the waters after being carried to the sand. I drove by serenely, windows rolled down as the Future Sound of London beat through my speakers, fingers tapping along with the thump of drum and bass.

I turned the volume down as I made my way through the tract homes to my Aunt and Uncle's house. My parents' car was already in the driveway, and I normally park behind it when visiting for family functions. The neighborhood kids, however, were deep into a game of basketball so I parked a bit farther up the street. (In truth, I didn't want to hear their ball slamming against my car or a window, but we'll keep that to ourselves.) The cold wind blew even stronger here so I scurried to the front door.

My Mother greeted me with an orange kiss on the cheek, then ushered me quickly inside. "Your Grandmother's starving." Grandmother apparently misunderstood something my mother had told her, thinking she would be at her apartment at 10:30 AM to take her to Easter Dinner at my Aunt and Uncle's. She ate only a piece of toast before my parents arrived close to 2:30 PM so by the time I arrived at 4, Grandmother had devoured seven Deviled Eggs. (They tasted wonderful; I can see why she ate so many!) I barely gave her a hug and a kiss before my Aunt ushered into the dining room.

With Grandmother at the head of the table, myself at the other end, and my parents, Aunt and Uncle in between, we dug into a feast of honeyed ham, potatoes au gratin, applesauce with cranberries, and a salad made with spinach, oranges and sliced strawberries. We laughed and talked while forks and knives clanked against the plates. I don't remember what was said, but it was enough to see everyone -- Grandmother included -- laughing and smiling.

After the apple pie, we all settled in to look at pictures from my cousin's re-modeling of his new house and to talk a bit more. Somehow, the discussion turned toward birth, and Mother mentioned that I was an easy birth compared to my Brother's. "He was a month overdue. We all thought that I'd have him in time to be a bridesmaid at your Aunt's wedding, but he just wouldn't come out." With me, she experienced false labor pains on my actual due date. Then a week or so later, told my Father that her stomach was a little upset. He asked if she needed to go to the hospital, but she said no so they went to dinner. On the way back, she mentioned that she should probably go to the hospital, which turned out to be a good thing because about two hours later, I arrived screaming into the world.

So I asked my Grandmother about Mother and my Aunt. She carefully said my aunt was no problem at all, just a easy as could be. "Your Mother, on the other hand. Well! They checked me into the hospital, into a regular room. But soon enough, they moved me to the Isolation Ward. I saw the nurse maybe once or twice for the next few hours. Then, the woman behind the glass next to my bed was talking to me. She said,'You sure don't look good. I'm going to call the doctor.' And, she did, and the doctor came and took me to the Delivery Room. A while later, he's telling me to scream as loud as I can because your Mother would just not come out! So I screamed. And screamed. And finally, she must have let go. But she came out upside down." After a fit of laughter, Mother said that she was a breech baby and suffered a broken collar bone.

We talked a while longer, until my Grandmother started yawning. Mother asked if she was ready to go home, and she briefly nodded. My Aunt and I prepared a few plates of leftovers for everyone, then we walked outside to my parents' car, helping Grandmother settle into the passenger's seat and fastening the seatbelt. We waved our goodbyes as I walked around the corner to my car and sped on toward home.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Dayenu

My boyfriend invited me to my very first seder, to be held at the home of friends M&L. Neither my boyfriend nor I are Jewish so I admit to being a bit hesitant, at first. I pictured a somber room with old men wearing yarmulkes and thick white scarves with blue embroidered letters, heavy pewter wine goblets and a plate to match, and an enormous, dusty, well-worn volume of the Torah at the head of the table. Instead, we walked into a house bustling with activity, with three or four people helping with the cooking, some taking a walking tour of the house, and others chatting and laughing and enjoying the time with family. They greeted us with hugs, kisses and handshakes as if we had always been part of the family, and we at once joined in the festivities.

Two tables had been set up in the dining room to accomodate all sixteen of us, and we commandeered two places at the main table by filling their wine glasses (his with wine; mine with A&W). Just after sundown, one of M's uncles hastened everyone to take our seats so the readings could begin. He handed around pages with the ceremony to everyone as we were all going to take turns reading parts of it. As M was about to sit, she remembered something and found an empty wine glass into which she poured a tiny bit of Manishewitz for the Prophet Elijah.

M's uncle began the reading by explaining the history behind the seder, of the items on the seder plate -- the salt water, lamb shank bone, matzoh, bitter herbs and a hard boiled egg -- and what each item represented, and a bit about the Exodus from Egypt. The pages moved round the table as each person in turn read from the script. A cracker of matzoh passed from plate to plate, with each of us breaking off a small portion as its story was recited to us. For my section -- a Seussian version of the 10 plagues -- we all dipped a finger into our glasses as each plague was described and daubed the wine/A&W onto our plates. M's uncle ended with a list of hopes for the future, everyone chanting the phrase "da'yenu" after each one. By the end of the reading, everyone was laughing and in great spirits.

Then came the incredible food which M had been preparing from scratch for days. Matzoh ball soup, apple kugel with almonds, roasted chicken, some of the best potatoes I've ever eaten, beef brisket so tender it melted in your mouth, carrots stewed in the brisket juices, and stringed beans. I even sampled some gefilte fish which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be after seeing jars of it in the grocery store -- white chunks of fish floating in an opaque whitish jelly. But, I did cleanse my palate afterward with a slice of angel food cake with strawberries.

We assisted with the clearing of dishes and the putting away of tables and chairs, finally leaving M&L's house a bit after 9 PM. During the drive home, we talked about the evening, how glad we were to have been invited to participate. He reached over and held my hand as we navigated through the streets back to his apartment.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Straight Talkin'

I'm not sure when it happened exsactly, but I do remember sitting in the passenger's seat while my friend drove to the Orange Circle. Many years passed since my last visit to that wonderful world of antique stores and kitschy restaurants so I skimmed the Thomas Guide, looking for the quickest route from Beach Blvd.....

"Where do I turn?" he asked.

I flipped a page. "You'll want to go straight through this intersection and --" I would have slammed headfirst into the dashboard if I hadn't been wearing my seatbelt. I turned, ready to demand what the Hell was wrong with him, but that stern, I'm-going-to-rip-you-a-new-asshole look stopped my voice in it's tracks.

"We are gay men. We do not do anything 'straight,'" he scolded. "We will go 'gaily forward' through the intersection." Not a snicker nor a smirk from him whatsoever as he returned focus back to the road and stepped on the gas.

....From that moment on, I find myself stopping as I'm speaking, searching for alternatives to the word "straight" when talking about something other than a ruler or a line. When I'm driving with other gay friends, we always say that we're going "gaily forward" toward such and such a place. Last night on the phone, during the process of telling my boyfriend when I would be heading to his house this evening, I said, "I'll head str--directly to your house once I leave work." We both laughed it off, of course, but I wonder sometimes: am I trying to lessen the impact that the connotations of the word "straight" have on me as a gay man, effectively dis-empowering the word? Or, am I just being silly?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Big 4-2


My parents celebrated 42 years of wedded bliss yesterday. Yes, I should have already posted something about this -- perhaps yesterday? Fret not, as my brother and I treated them to a wonderful dinner Friday evening in the historic district of San Juan Capistrano, and tonight, I'm meeting them after work to shower them with gifts and with love! (to be read as: a DVD and some jewelry. Hey, that's what they requested!) I just hope that tonight they don't ask me to try playing the piano again....

Monday, April 10, 2006

Pilgrimage

I weighed myself Saturday morning before breakfast: 199 lbs. I haven't weighed less than 200 lbs. in over two years!! That enhanced my good mood for the day as I proceeded to eat a bowl of granola, clean up, add brake fluid to the car, and drive to my boyfriend's for the weekend. Along the way, I stopped at a pharmacy to re-fill a prescription and was told by the pharmacist -- who cradled a phone on one shoulder while inputting information into a computer and talking to me -- that the prescription would be filled in 40 minutes. Normally, I would wait, but today, I had arranged tickets for my boyfriend and me to see a show in Los Angeles. At 2 PM. And, I was already running just a tad behind schedule so I told her that I would have to come back on Monday. (The prescription is for folic acid which can be found in mulit-vitamins, grains, vegetables, etc. I felt that I could hold off for a day or two.) I sped up Pacific Coast Highway, parking just outside his apartment by 12:15, with plenty of time to for the trek to Los Angeles.

Next time, I will keep my mouth shut because what would normally be a 30-40 minute drive from the 710 Freeway to the 5 to the 101, turned into almost an hour and a half. Traffic moved at a good pace on the 710 until we approached the split to the 5. We slowed almost to a complete stop, then only moved a few feet at any given time. I am someone who likes to arrive on-time or even early to an event such as a play or a movie. Just imagine my neuroses grabbing hold as the clock raced past 1:30 and still we sat on the freeway just before Chinatown. He exited the freeway, wound his way around the surface streets and back onto the 101 -- a mile or two farther, but the freeway still refused to budge. We couldn't see any accidents or flashing lights nor hear any sirens so we had no idea what was causing the hold up. Somehow -- I don't know when or how -- the traffic started to pick up the pace and soon, we flew along to the Hollywood Blvd. exit, speeding down the street until he let me out in front of The Ricardo Montalbán Theatre at 1:55. I sprinted to the box office, praying that they hadn't released the tickets to someone else, listening to others run up to the window complaining about the horrendous traffic. The attendant gladly handed me the tickets, and moments before the lights dimmed, we found our seats in the mezzanine and relaxed.

>Labeled as "a World Premiere Musical Event," Pilgrim of a future world, in which a city's inhabitants are locked behind the walls built by the Guildmasters. They know of no other existence except that of creating goods for the Masters and to sell at market. Anna, the daughter of a Guildmaster, is forced into an arranged marriage, but runs away and begs a young Tinker form the marketplace to marry her in order to ruin the plans. When the Tinker is thrown into prison, Anna remains true to him, eventually falling in love with him. And while he remains behind bars, the Tinker -- with the help of a lunatic -- battles against nightmarish foes to find the key that will unlock the gates of the city and free his people.

Not your usual fare for musical theater, and I admit when the show began and the actors appeared on stage dressed like escapees from an epsiode of Xena, my first thought was: what if the Sci-Fi Channel decided to write a musical? That quickly changed once the powerful voices and great performances swept me away into the story. Robert Patteri began the show as Hieronymus (a.k.a, the Lunatic), acting as the narrator, of sorts, as well as a main character. Jessica Rush as Anna and Tom Korbee as the Tinker/Pilgrim (pictured) worked well together, bringing strong voices and just the right hint of humor-romance to their characters. My favorite, though, was Eric Anderson as Ten Bosch, a printer whose sole aim is to become one of the Guildmasters by whatever means possible. He plays his character to his mischievous best and makes the villain someone you truly despise. The tinker's nightmare scenes came to life through some very Cirque de Soleil-esque choreography by Josie Walsh, full of stilt walkers, acrobats and a sole female dancer sometimes suspended above center stage by a long, red curtain. The three-story bare--bones set, which consisted of stairs, planks and railings that during one sequence is continually spun while the Tinker and the stilt walker battle/dance, awestruck the two of us. Equally strong were the music and lyrics by John Stothers, though nothing that leaves you humming the tune as you walk away from the theater.

After the show, we debated about what and where to eat and finally decided on Mexico City in Los Feliz, a hip neighborhood Mexican restaurant. We gorged ourselves on the fresh tortilla chips and two kinds of salsa, and I tried to stick with my diet by ordering the Pollo Pibil (chicken breast marinated à la Yucatan, whatever that means; all I remember is how good it tasted!) while he ordered the chicken fajitas. From there, we stopped at an independent bookstore called Skylight then browsed the offbeat wares of Wacko -- everything from Buddha statues, tarot cards and incense sticks to pop culture dolls, books, tiki items, and hula girls.

We made it back to his place around 10 PM and walked over to Rite-Aid for some rainbow sherbert. He turned the TV on, but I think we both fell asleep before 10:45.


Photos from Pilgrim, taken by Michael Lamont

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Le Noël en avril

Many of the films nominated for the Best Foreign Language film for the 2005 Academy Awards finally started making their way around Southern California. South Africa's Tsotsi played for a few weeks then disappeared; I missed that one, but on Thursday, we found a screening of the nominee from France, Joyeux Noël. The film follows divisions of three different armies -- French, German and the Scots (representing Great Britain) -- in 1914, during the First World War. Through a series of sometimes melodramatic events, these three divisions create a temporary truce on Christmas Eve to celebrate the holiday away from their families, to enjoy a bit of camaraderie, and to take care of the dead or wounded.

Writer/Director Christian Carion pays homage to the now-legendary events of that Christmas Eve, showing a human side to all the soldiers from each army. Fine performances by Guillaume Canet as the French Lieutenant Audebert, Daniel Brühl as the German leader Horstmayer and Gary Lewis as the priest/stretcher bearer Palmer also add to the humanity of the film. Some detractors, though, are the lackluster lip-synching by Benno Fürmann and Diane Kruger; they gave fine acting performances but much of the believability disappeared when they attempted to "sing" as opera stars. (Picture watching a poorly dubbed kung fu film, and you'll understand what I mean.) Not a bad film overall, but a bit uneven at times.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Avó

Many thanks to Babs over at Bitchin' & Stuff for this much-needed little bit of grandmotherly humor:

Lawyers should never ask a Southern grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer. In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?" She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?" She again replied, "Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him."

The defense attorney almost died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench, and in a very quiet voice, said, "If either of you asks her if she knows me, I'll throw you in jail for contempt."


My parents returned on Monday from a brief vacation, spending a relaxing week at a resort near Palm Springs. (Their version of "roughing it.") The next day, my Mom spent much of her time with my Grandmother who, in the week since I saw her, seems to have taken a downturn. In speaking with my Dad last night, he realted that Grandma had called on Tuesday morning. He answered and then heard her tentative voice ask, "Who is this?" He recognized her, but after ten minutes of trying, could not convince her that he was her son-in-law, married to her eldest daughter. They visited with her the following morning, and she didn't recognize either of them.

I think that last part frustrates my Mom -- the lack of recognition. Much of her retirement so far has been dealing with her Mom whether it's tracking the finances to make sure she has enough for rent and bills, or making sure she takes her medicines, or arguing with the doctor about the types/number of medications, or washing clothes. Through it all, she hasn't allowed herself to slow down when it comes to her Mother. And now, the disease won't even allow her to recognize her own daughter.

My parents and my Aunt and Uncle began discussing nursing homes, and I cringed at the mention of those words. My Great-Grandmother suffered with Alzheimer's, and her daughter had to place her in a nursing home. An awful place. She walked out the doors more than once, unnoticed until the police called to report that they'd found her wandering around a nearby neighborhood, lost and confused. They didn't manage her medicines well, and she always seemed to be in pain the few times my brother and I were allowed to visit with her.

I don't want that for my Grandmother. But, I also realize that there's only so much that my Mom can take before she has to stop to allow someone else handle things.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"Remember, Remember...

...the Fifth of November"

Saturday evening, we lounged around his place for most of the morning, finally forcing ourselves to get up around noon. The body relishes staying in bed, doing nothing of any importance on such mornings but tries to keep hold of that feeling throughout the remainder of the day. That's how I felt as we languidly walked the few blocks to The Pantry for a late breakfast of egg beaters® omelets and to search the paper for movie times. We decided to catch an early evening showing of V for Vendetta and invited one of his friends -- whose girlfriend was skiing in Denver and wanted us to keep him out of trouble -- to join us.

With a few hours to kill before picking up his friend, we returned to his place to allow our food to settle for a moment, then hopped in his car. The local gay bookstore Equal Writes was our first stop -- even though he swore to cut me off from buying any more books. He needed to find a copy of the next book for our reading group so while he set off in search of A Home at the End of the World, I browsed the bargain books, the mysteries, biographies and science fiction -- and left the store with two more books added to my ever-growing library. "Oh Greg, Greg...." he said, lowering and shaking his head in shame as we wound our way to his friend's house.

The theater quickly filled with people as I saved our three seats while they spent money at the concession stand. Lucky them, missing most of the previews for quite a few unremarkable films. They returned just as the opening credits began and soon, we were all caught up in the tale set in a near-distant future. The tall, masked character of V saves the young Evie from agents of the government who catch her out of doors after curfew. He invites her to attend a special concert with her, to which she reluctantly agrees, following him to the rooftops above London. V stands overlooking the city, raises his baton to conduct a recording of The 1812 Overture as buildings begin to explode. From that moment, Evie's life is forever changed as she becomes linked and entangled with V and his vendetta against the government.

Fine performances from Natalie Portman as Evie and Hugo Weaving as V, with strong backup from Stephen Rhea, Rupert Graves, John Hurt, Steven Fry and the entire cast. The script is intelligent and strong with some clever verbal trickery, such as V's alliterative introduction to Evie, and the story itself is much more than just a depiction of terrorism. V's goals on the surface are to take revenge against the government that turned him into a monster, but underneath, his actions are to incite the people to speak out, to make them think instead of sitting back and accepting what's being told to them as absolute truth, to question what is right and wrong. I found the movie surprisingly gay-friendly, especially with the minor storylines involving Stephen Fry's character and a lesbian couple who are arrested and separated by the government for being who they are.

The three of us completely enjoyed the film, and our discussion on the way home took us through politics, what is terrorism, gay rights, religious freedom and a whole gamut of other topics. In all the excitement and after-movie glow, we forgot entirely about dinner and "reluctantly" chose a McDonald's drive-thru. Not exactly on my diet, but I did order a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a Quarter Pounder. My own minor vendetta against cholesterol rages on.

Monday, April 03, 2006

D for Dan Band

Months ago while searching through the bargain CDs at Tower Records with my sweetie, we found a unique disc. The packaging wasn't all that unusual as far as CDs go, but what caught our attention was the list of songs, including Gloria from Laura Branigan, a medley of Shoop/Whatta Man/Never Gonna Get It, Total Eclipse of the Heart from Bonnie Tyler and numerous other songs about men, all covered by three white guys from L.A. calling themselves The Dan Band. My boyfriend decided to buy it because he'd seen a special on the group some time ago on Bravo and could not stop laughing. On the drive back to his place, he slid the disc into his player, and soon we were both in tears from laughing so hard.

Fast forward to Friday night....

We drove through the rain, hastily trying to make it to Hollywood before traffic could get any worse. Around 7:30, we exited the 101 at Sunset and wove through the rainslicked streets until we hit Hollywood Blvd. Neon lights reflected on the pavement and sidewalks. Tattoo parlors, clubs, bars, the Pantages theater all loomed over the stars on the Walk of Fame as we turned onto Vine St., trying to find a place to grab a quick bite to eat. Neither of us were too decisive when choosing the food, and before we knew it, we found ourselves on Melrose. Turning around to find a place closer to the theater would waste time so we agreed to eat at the first place we passed.

He pulled into a sidestreet alongside a Johnny Rocket's, and we scurried through the rain to take the last two seats at the counter. The young man behind the counter took our order, then my boyfriend and I took a look around. An empty booth waited at the far right, but no one wanted to sit in the mess of plates, napkins, milk shake glasses, ketchup and other food-related ephemera that littered the table and seats. Nailed to the soffit above was a sign proclaiming the pride each and every employee takes in keeping that restaurant clean. A heated debate concerning the state of the film industry took place to my immediate right, the two sides being argued by a young white man and black woman. To my boyfriend's left sat a tranny, dressed in black lace with a black shrug, and her two lesbian friends, contentedly chewing their burgers in between the occasional word to one another. Next to them sat two young girls and their father, who had the bewildered look of someone not quite sure where he was or how he got there. His unblinking stare at us while talking to his daughters was a bit unnerving. He paid no attention to the 5 hispanic men laughing, telling loud jokes and enjoying the night out who sat beside him. To their left, two young skater punks quietly tore chunks of their burgers and tossed them into their mouths. An eclectic mix of people, and yet each group stayed contained within its pocket of space, almost as if no one else were seated at the counter with them.

The groups left one by one as my boyfriend and I ate our burgers. We were the last to leave, and I still wonder if they ever cleaned that booth.

We scouted for cheaper parking as close to The Avalon as possible, but with lots charging $20 for only a few hours of time, we dejectedly drove farther away. The lot across from The Pantages charged $10, which was slightly better, and we jumped at it as the show was to begin shortly. We quickstepped through the rain, across the wet stars of Judy Garland, Lou Costello and Katherine Hepburn, and into the darkness of the theater.

Not sure where to go for General Admission seats, we wandered around the lobby then up the stairs to the balcony. A woman using her cell phone as a flashlight checked the tickets and told us we could sit or stand anywhere in the upper balcony then rushed off to stop some unsuspecting GA ticket holders from inadvertently blaspheming the lower balcony with their presence. We leaned against the wobbly railing and scanned the crowd at the tables below to see if we recognized anyone. No faces stood out thanks to the house lights which bathed everything in a dead blue. Walking talking drunken corpses seated around tables with dots of red candles at the center, shouting to make themselves heard above the blaring 80s music. I glanced at the ceiling, admiring the old plaster work lighting fixture that would have reminded some of the old vaudeville days -- except for the disco ball dangling from its center point.

Around 9 PM the music changed to the theme from Wonder Woman, the lights dimmed, the curtain rose, and soon the crowd was on its feet as The Dan Band danced and sang through their set. We laughed as the lead singer made his way into the audience, asked a rather large man his name, said it was sexy then tore into Shoop by Salt N' Peppa, dedicating it to his new "friend." For an hour and a half, they performed songs that only girl groups should sing: Tyrone, You Oughtta Know, a Genie in a Bottle/No Scrubs/Slave 4 U medley, Nasty Girl, and Kelis' Milkshake, peppering the words "fkn" and "shit" every so often to try to give their versions some street cred. ( I fkn need you tonight! Forever's gonna start tonight. Fkn forever's gonna start tonight...) The choreography for some songs had us in hysterics, as they shook back and forth on stage as if stuck at an 80s Senior Prom. The drunken crowd loved every minute of it as much as we did.

We replayed the CD during the drive home, and I'm quite sure that a few vehicles cautiously avoided the little Honda with the two gorwn men laughing hysterically in the front seat.