Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Poor Little Piggy

While rushing to make my bed this morning, I slammed my left foot against the edge of my desk. My little toe is swollen, bruised a wonderful purplish red hue in a long line that runs from the tip to the base of the toe, and hurts like Hell. At least I can wiggle it which I will take as a sign that it isn't broken. Toe and foot -- minus the confining shoes -- are now resting comfortably beneath my desk, with the little toe buddy wrapped to the next toe.

Current weight: 201 lbs. (0 lbs.)

Update 2/1/07: The swelling and purplish hue have slowly started to fade. I can wiggle and bend it without any problems though the squeeze of a shoe still causes a bit of pain. I hesitate to put any weight on my left foot, but I can walk almost normally.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bookwhore Chronicles: Not Another Book Meme!

Someone tagged me with a book-related meme, and I promised to complete it over the weekend. However, I was pleasantly pre-occupied Saturday and Sunday so I'm just now getting to the meme. As promised.

Hardback, trade paperback, or mass-market paperback? Definitely trade paperbacks. They tend to last much longer than their mass-market relatives with covers and pages that separate too easily from the binding and have larger type so I don't need a microscope to read them. Hardbacks, while being nice to collect, are too bulky and inflexible for transport in suitcases and carry-ons.

Amazon or brick-and-mortar? I do purchase hard-to-find titles on Amazon, but love being able to walk along the shelves, browsing through titles, pulling one or two off the shelf to read the flaps. The computer takes the browsability away which, for one, is one thing I enjoy about shopping for books.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Borders. Hands down. Barnes & Noble doesn't have as good a selection as Borders. Nor do they have a separate Gay & Lesbian section, instead mixing everything together so you have to know exactly what you're looking for.

Bookmark or dogear? I use a black leather bookmark that one of my Mom's sorority sisters brought back from a trip to London during the 1980's. I also have a variety of thick paper bookmarks from gay and used book stores. I only ever dogearred textbooks during high school and college.

Alphabetize by author, by title, or random? When I finally buy that new bookshelf, my books will be alphabetical by author (then by published date). Just like myCDs and DVDs. For now, the books lay randomly on slats of wood in a makeshift bookshelf until I can get to IKEA.

Keep, throw away or sell? I only throw away a book if it's been too badly damaged (water, pages falling out, etc.) to donate to the library or Goodwill. I keep most of them -- hence the need for good, solid bookshelves -- but for those which I've read but not taken much of a liking to, I sell on Amazon or donate to the public library.

Keep dust jacket or toss it? I keep the dust jackets. An old habit from book hunting when I learned that the price of one particular used book I found then sold on eBay would have risen $200 if I'd found the dust jacket.

Read with the dust jacket or remove it? I leave the dust jacket on when I read. The dyes from the cloth covering the boards bleed and stain my hands if I don't. But, if the dust jacket is in bad shape, I'll remove it before reading.

Short story or novel? A very difficult question. I enjoy reading both but would have to choose the short story. In a small amount of pages, the author has to createbelievable characters, a climax and resolution. I prefer writing short stories, as well.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? Hmmm.... That depends. Anthologies are great for giving different viewpoints on specific topic, but if I find a particular author that I like, I devour almost everything that author has written. So I guess that I can't choose between the two.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Harry Potter. Only because I've never read any of the Lemony Snicket books.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? Chapter breaks. I can't leave in the middle of the action. I have to see it through to the end (of the chapter) before I can go to sleep.

"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"? "It was a dark and stormy night." This kind of story can go either way, leaving more to the imagination. The other is too fairytale and childish for me.

Buy or borrow? I prefer to buy books because the public library doesn't always carry what I want to read. My friends and I lend books to one another, as well. However, if I'm unsure of an author, I will checkout his/her book from the library first.

New or used? Either one; I'm not as picky as I used to be. Plus, you can always get great deals from used bookstores, garage sales or even thrift stores when it comes to books. (I bought two books on Sunday from a thrift store, paying only 50¢ for both. Can't beat that!)

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations or browse? Browsing is number one, followed closely by recommendations from family and friends. I never read the book reviews because I want to find out for myself if it's any good.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger I prefer a tidy ending.

When do you read: morning, afternoon or night? I do much of my reading in the afternoon, during my lunchbreak at work. I can usually get through twenty to forty pages during that hour. I also read when I get home from work because I'm beginning to find TV a bit boring. Everything's a rerun, a reality show or tacky. Morning reading only happens on the weekends.

Standalone or series? I read more standalone than I do series. But I like them both.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? Best Actress by John Kane. Per my review on Amazon....

"Five interesting women are nominated for the 'Best Actress' Oscar: Fiona Covington, who portrayed a lesbian nanny in a re-telling of 'Mary Poppins' and whose personal life just took a turn for the worse; Amber Lyons, the newcomer with a serious drug problem; Connie Travatano, the sentimental favorite whose run-ins with the law could be a problem; Lori Seefer, who desperately wants to keep her private life - and her lover Maria - a secret from the publicity hounds; and Karen Kroll, a known former porn star with a dirty little secret of her own. All of these women want that statuette. But only one is willing to kill for it. This is by far one of the cattiest, sharpest, most fun novels about the entertainment industry I have ever read! It begins with the morning that the nominees are announced and from then on, it's a roller coaster ride into the personal lives of the 5 nominees. It's chock full of nasty publicists, writers who will do anything to get a scoop, and enough bitchiness and backstabbing to put Dynasty to shame. Author John Kane makes the characters interact with the rich and famous like Goldie Hawn and Liza Minelli to keep things interesting. He's also thrown in enough clues and red herrings to keep you guessing until the very end whodunnit. This book is mindless entertainment, but it's so much fun!!!"

Favorite books read last year? I posted my top reads for last year already, but to recap, they are: The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Sea of Light by Jenifer Levin, Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig, The Persian Boy by Mary Renault and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

Favorite books of all time? Geez, so many to choose from.... One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Like People in History by Felice Picano, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima, The Shining by Stephen King, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.

Now, it's my turn to tag a few fellow bloggers, make them reveal their deepest, darkest bibliophilic secrets. My victims choices: Christian and Mikerzz. Have fun, boys!

Friday, January 26, 2007

First Line Friday

Yep, it's that time again! The answer to last week's:

Leaving on a Jet Plane, music and lyrics by John Denver

This became a big hit for Peter, Paul & Mary, reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard charts in 1969 and became a hit again almost 30 years later when Chantal Kreviazuk covered it for the film Armageddon.

Last night, my brother and I treated our parents to a birthday dinner at The Alley, a great little steak and seafood restaurant in Newport Beach. Both their birthdays are within a week of each other so we've always found it better to combine the celebration into one big dinner or event. And normally, I can make it from my office to the restaurant in about 20 minutes. But last night, as I crested one of the hills on Jamboree Blvd. with about half a mile until Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), the traffic suddnely slowed to almost a standstill. Okay, a little traffic, it's only a little after 5pm and the reservation's for 6pm. I can do this. HA! As I inched my car toward the highway, two fire engines with lights blazing and sirens blaring, shot past, swerving around the cars already stopped for the red light and onto the Northbound highway -- the direction I was headed. A helicopter circled in on spot quite a ways North. My stomach clenched as I realized this was not a good sign.

Fifteen minutes later, I finally turned onto PCH and entered the parking lot of cars waiting to move North. I kept checking the clock as we slowly crawled forward, a few more feet at a time, watching at stop lights as more cars filtered into the already packed lanes. At a quarter to 6, I called my Dad's cell phone and left a message that I might be late. I called my brother's and left the same message. My Dad called a few minutes later asking where I was; I told him about being stuck in traffic going North. He said that they had just reached Jamboree, putting them about 15 minutes behind me, and as we talked, another fire engine passed by and slowed in front of the Balboa Bay Club & Resort. I saw two other trucks with their ladders out as smoke tendrils threaded upwards. North- and Southbound traffic at that point moved even slower than before as a policeman directed us past the flares and the large number of emergency vehicles, but once they were in my rearview mirror, I moved swiftly toward the restaurant.

Which brings me to this week's First Line. Not what I had originally intended, but hey, ad libbing is the new somethingorother:

I'm driving in my car, I turn on the radio
I'm pulling you close, you just say no
You say you don't like it, but girl I know you're a liar
'Cause when we kiss

It's a Bruce Springsteen song, but the cover by The Pointer Sisters is probably the one version most people remember.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Top Ten CDs for 2006

Yes, the first month of 2007 is quickly drawing to a close, but I still have enough time to jot down my 10 favorite CDs from 2006. (That, and I really couldn't think of anything else to post today.) I decided to include a CD or two that I didn't buy but that I listen to quite a bit because The Boyfriend bought it, and I really like the music.

  1. Union Street by Erasure
  2. Lucky To Be Me by Taylor Eigsti
  3. Little Miss Sunshine Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  4. Under the Iron Sea by Keane
  5. Box by Mellowdrone
  6. The Bridge by Elton John
  7. How We Operate by Gomez
  8. Shortbus Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  9. Ta-Dah! by Scissor Sisters
  10. Dreamgirls Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

As The Boyfriend said while we were in Fingerprints, he loves the fact that I have such an eclectic taste in music. Taylor Eigsti is jazz piano. Mellowdrone is alternative/electronic/indie rock. The Bridge falls back on Elton John's classic, bluesy-gospel rock feel -- which I love. Soundtracks (and I have even more movie and Broadway stuff in my collection). All I can say is that I enjoy music. Nothing more, nothing less.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007



I guess The Boyfriend and I do see our fair share of movies, such as the 30 plus from 2006. So a few readers have asked how many films we've seen so far in 2007. Not including DVDs and TV, The Boyfriend and I have seen two movies together: The Queen and Curse of the Golden Flower. I have also seen Eragon with CS on New Year's Day, and just last night, used a Free Pass to see The Last King of Scotland.
And let me just say right now that Forest Whitaker should definitely win the Academy Award for his performance as Idi Amin in Last King. The movie itself is just as good, telling the story of Scotsman Nicholas Garrigan who, while helping the poor in Uganda, inadvertantly becomes Amin's personal physician and advisor. At first, he gets swept up with the charisma and personality of Amin the man, but as he stays on and begins to witness the death and destruction caused by Amin's regime, he struggles to find a means to escape the horrors with which he's assisted. As I said before, Whitaker's performance outshines anything else by any actor in quite a few years. He shows Amin's charisma as a leader of the people, but also his paranoia and megalomania. James McAvoy gives a fine performance as Nicholas, wanting to do something good with his new skills as doctor and learning the harsh reality of what his idealism has cost. Parts of the second half of the film seemed rushed but I think that added to Nicholas' frenetic need to escape at any cost. A very powerful film.

Four movies so far, and from the trailers watched online and in the theaters, this looks as though it may be a good year for movies.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Shopping, Eating, and a Movie or Two

I did something this weekend that I don't normally do: shopping. That gay gene must have passed me by because my version of shopping usually consists of knowing the item I want, getting it, paying for it and leaving the store/mall. I'm definitely not a browser when it comes to clothes. Music? yes. Books? yes. Clothes? Kenneth who? Banana what?

But not this weekend.

Of course, I started my shopping small. The Boyfriend and I stopped by Fingerprints to maybe find a couple of great CD bargains. And we did: he purchased Erasure's latest, Union Street, which we listened to most of the weekend, and the soundtrack to the movie Fame; I found a copy of the soundtrack to Shortbus and an album by Télépopmusik. We went home to rest up for the next day.

Saturday after a late breakfast and the movie Spellbound -- because we were waiting for the landlord to check the fire alarms -- we drove to Old Navy where I ran around like a madman, trying on shirts and jeans. I lost The Boyfriend at one point during my frenzy and found him deciding on a sweatshirt (which really looked good on him). I wound up spending almost $100 on jeans, two shirts, some fitted t-shirts, and a sweatshirt. It didn't hurt that I had a 10% off coupon and that some of the items were also on sale. The Boyfriend had never seen me so into buying clothes. (I think I scared him.) As a matter of fact, neither had I. I couldn't believe the weight of the bag I hefted from the store. Perhaps watching all those fashion-related shows (What Not To Wear, How Do I Look?) were finally starting to rub off.... Or I was just excited about getting the 10% discount. In all seriousness, with my impending weight loss, I though it might be a good idea to get some new clothes, clean out my closet and donate old, baggy ones to Goodwill.

We dined that evening with M&L to check on the progress of the twins. M said that one was very docile while the other kicked and moved like someone in a mosh pit. And though she didn't yet know their genders, that didn't stop her from taking advantage of the coupons and discounts at a nearby children's clothing store. She showed us the onesies, jackets with removable linings, t-shirts, pants, pajamas with the little feet and assorted items she'd bought. We oohed and aahed, but it gave The Boyfriend the idea to check out that store the next day.

Which we did, and he walked away with a cute little Valentine's day t-shirt for his great-niece. We also stopped at The Gap, made a b-line for the Clearance items, and immediately found a great dark blue denim jacket that fit The Boyfriend perfectly. And marked down from $50 to $15, who could resist? I found a grey reversible sweater for $10 (also marked down from $50). I think we both finally tired of clothes shopping for the weekend and decided to spend the rest of the day at the movies. We caught a showing of Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower. Incredible movie! If Shakespeare had written a tragedy set in Ancient China, this would have been it. Chow Yun-Fat plays an Emperor from the Tang Dynsaty who poisons his wife, the Empress (Gong Li), after he discovers her affair with her stepson the Crown Prince Wan, the next in line for the throne. This sets in motion a series of secret alliances, backstabbing, incest and one of the bloodiest battles to hit the screen in quite a while. Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li were wonderful as were the performances by all three of the sons: Liu Ye as the Crown Prince Wan, Qin Junjie as Prince Yu (he offers quite an unexpected twist toward the end of the film), and Jay Chou as Prince Jai. Amazing sets and costumes, too. Some parts seemed a bit long, but the build-up to the finale was well worth it.

Current Weight: 201 lbs. (-1 lb.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

First Line Friday

The answer to last week's First Line:<

Belleville Rendez-vous from the animated French film The Triplets of Belleville; music by Benoît Charest, lyrics by Sylvain Chomet

Here's my review from Amazon:

"From the opening sounds of Under the Bridge, featuring car horns and bicycle spokes, you realize that this is no ordinary soundtrack album. It's full of French-flavored jazz, such as Jazzy Bach and Belleville Jungle, with a pop song called "Attila Marcel" (sung by the incredible Béatrice Bonifassi), some catchy, kitschy songs such as 'Cieco Cieco' Barber, and the infectious, 1920's-flavored Belleville Rendez-vous. Written by Benoît Charest and Sylvain Chomet, Belleville Rendez-vous is the most recognizable song from the film, having earned a deserved Oscar nomination and appearing on the album in numerous versions: French, English, Demo, instrumental and as a theme. The album also includes many samples of Charest's unique score, from the plaintive Bruno's Theme (with a solo, sad accordion) to the use of a refrigerator, a vacuum and other unusual instruments for Cabaret Hoover. It's a wonderful album that evokes the look and feel of the film."

Look at me: trying to be a real reviewer!

Last night, I dropped in on my folks to help my Mom make her first-ever internet purchase: plane tickets. In April, she will be flying to Austin, TX, to meet with girlfriends and then, they will drive to Galveston to catch a Princess Cruise to the Caribbean. She had originally planned to drive to Austin with one of the girls, but her house sold a few days ago and she and her husband are moving to Washington state in a few weeks, effectively putting a damper on the drive to Austin. So my Mom decided to fly and asked for a bit of internet help. I showed her the different flights, we discussed the stop overs and departure/arrival times, then she clicked the select button and soon had the roundtrip itinerary in the Inbox.

In honor of that first purchase, I give you this flight-related First Line:

All my bags are packed. I'm ready to go.
I'm standing here outside your door,
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye.
But the dawn is breaking, it's early morn.

It was written by John Denver in 1967 while on a layover at an airport. In 1969, it was one of the biggest hits for Peter, Paul & mary, reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard chart.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I think to some extent, we all have a little bit of OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Actually, it's a clinomorphised version of it, more like someone who is meticulous or absorbed about an act and not necessarily true OCD. Me? I have this thing about locking doors. Every morning as I lock the front door, I grab the doorknob, twist and shake it a few times while pushing on the door to make sure it won't open. I shut the screen and turn to my car, key in hand, but turn around to re-open the screen and to twist and shake the doorknob again. Two or three more times before getting into the car and heading for work. On one occasion, I even turned my car around, drove back home to check the knob. Even though I know that I'd already checked it many times.

I never used to do that. In fact, it's only since I moved into my little place two years ago that I started the checking and re-checking. The front door opens onto the alley instead of a main street, and I've caught more than one homeless person rummaging through the garbage cans or shady-looking characters driving slower than necessary down the alley seeming to examine what might be the best place to break into. And now that the roof that once covered my carport is gone, my door feels more exposed to the world so I want to make absolutely certain that it's locked.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bookwhore Chronicles: Moon Magic
I usually forgive small typos or grammatical errors in the final copy of a book, such as the improper use, or sometimes lack of use, of quotation marks to let the reader know who is speaking, for how long, when another character pipes up to add anything. I can even understand the occasional unexpected break of a sentence form one line to another. These things happen. But when I'm reading page page 211 -- a mere 24 pages from the end of the book -- and the paragraph ends as it should, flip the page only to jump in midsentence of another paragraph.... I flipped back a page or two, re-read to make sure I hadn't missed anything, then re-read it again to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. I convinced myself that I had indeed missed something, but at that moment, there wasn't anything to do but to continue so I finished that page, moved to the top of the adjacent one and stopped, dumbfounded that the sentence here did not match the sentence I was reading. I again flipped back a few pages and soon realized that the two pages (212 and 213) had been switched. I almost screamed in frustration, but that probably would have scared the neighbors so I instead plodded on and finished the book.

Normally, the only occult fiction I ever read runs along the lines of Stephen King or Phil Rickman, but this novel treats the occult with respect, showing how magic may be used to enlighten and to enrich a person's life and the world itself, rather than as fodder for vampires, mad sorcerers and vengeful ghosts. Plus, it's chock full of great quotes, including this from a discussion between the characters Lilith Le Fay and Rupert Malcolm on the subject of marriage:

"The churches can please themselves. It is no business but their own what conditions they make for admission to their communion. The mistake comes when they use their influence to legislate for people outside their communion. History has never seen any good result come from religious meddling in politics."

Quite an interesting idea, coming from the 1950s when the book was originally published.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Colder Than a Witch's Teat

We are not amused.

Living along the beach in Southern California is not supposed to be this cold. I swear that upon waking up Saturday morning, my testicles slammed right up against my instestines as the near-freezing atmosphere of the house breezed through my sweats. Turned on the space heater, grabbed a blanket and a book, and switched on the TV to see reports that it snowed in Fontucky Fontana and Chino. Snowed. In Southern California. What the hell?!

To conserve heat, I tried to do as little as possible: read almost 200 pages of The Crimson Labyrinth, briefly braved the cold in order to wash my jeans (which I had to do twice because someone left a packet of Listerine strips-plastic thingies in the machine from a previous load), made a boiling hot bowl of raisin oatmeal, stood under the warmth of the shower for twenty minutes. But after a few hours of this, my eyes hurt from the tiny print and cabin fever settled in, so I decided to break in my new Annual Pass for Disneyland while The Boyfriend spent the day with his brother.

Not many others felt as I did because the Parks weren't as packed as they should be on a three-day weekend. And while I walked around with my wool coat buttoned up to the neck and carrying a cup of hot chocolate to warm my fingers, a few foolhardy souls ran from the exit to Grizzly River Run completely soaked and laughing their heads off. I just shook my head and continued walking. But the cold finally got to me. You know it's bad when Mickey Mouse is hugging himself for warmth -- and he was wearing a scarf, a mittens and a possibly thermal underwear. I spent the last hour rummaging through the gigantic store in Downtown Disney. Two mouse pads, a CD and a mini-snow globe later, I hurried to the parking structure and back home. There and back only three and a half hours. Sunday, I met The Boyfriend for lunch and a movie: The Queen. I think enough has been said already about this film, but Helen Mirren gave a remarkable performance as Queen Elizabeth, struggling with royal tradition and protocols against public opinion and expectations. what we both enjoyed about the film was that even though it was a very serious story, little bits of humor managed to sneak their way through in such a natural way, not forced. Michael Sheen was excellent as Prime Minister Tony Blair, as were James Cromwell as Prince Phillip and Sylvia Syms as the Queen Mother. Afterwards, we hurried back to the warmth of his apartment to watch a bit of TV before dashing into the cold once more for hot food at the Park Pantry.

Friday, January 12, 2007

First Line Friday

Congratulations to Joey for correctly naming last week's First Line: Finale from the musical Pippin; music/lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

At this point in the show, Pippin is so at a loss as to what he should do with his life that the Players tempt him into committing one last, final act of spectacular self-sacrifice by setting himself ablaze. The song begins slowly, softly with the Lead Player pointing out to Pippin what his past was like and what his future could be, building and adding the rest of the Players, changing into a joyous rock/dance number. Probably one of the best endings to a show, in my humble opinion.

As for this week's First Line, I found myself listening again and again to one of my favorite movie soundtracks -- the Triplets of Belleville -- while at work this week, to one song in particular. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song of 2003. And quite understandably so as it is used throughout the film as the underlying musical theme and not just the song that runs during the credits:

J' veux pas finir mes jours à Tombouctouuuu...
La peau tirée par des machines à clous
Moi je veux être frippé, triplement frippé
Frippé comme une triplette de Belleville

The album itself is very quirky; in fact, one song, the Cabaret Hoover, uses a vacuum, a refrigerator and various other bits and pieces to creat a unique aural experience.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Magic To Do
Caesar and I heading over to South Coast Plaza to spend some of my holiday gift cards. We spent a few hours strolling amongst the shops, avoiding the two bookstores (because everyone knows that I need more books), checking out snowglobes in the Disney Store in an attempt to find some of Mondo Rick-o's partner's handiwork, and finally rummaging through the sales items at Macy's Mens Store. I found a great dark blue corduroy shirt, half off the regular price, that fit nicely so I whipped out one of the gift cards and paid a mere $0.86 out of my own money. The Boyfriend found a very rugged, flannelesque shirt in dark oranges and browns and finagled even more of a discount because the attached pricetag was incorrect. Worn out and with bags in hand, we headed back to my place for a bit of a snack and to rest before the show.

Just before 6:30pm, we made our way to the Orchestra section of the OC Performing Arts Center and found our seats seventeen rows back, almost dead center to the stage. Not many of the seats were occupied, but they seated us next to the only other people in our row. On stage, the curtain was up, revealing the brick wall at the back of the theater and the Exit doors. A few equipment boxes lay scattered about the stage along with two large light boxes. As 6:30 rolled around and the audience continued greeting friends and chatting, the Stage Manager and a few crew members walked onto the stage with a dolly and started to load the equimpent. They carried crates and equipment offstage and stacked the equipment boxes on the dolly, one atop the other. Then, as the Stage Manager disappeared stage left, the fronts of the boxes opened in unison, and the Lead Player flourished onto the stage to the surprise of the audience. The music chimed in followed by the Lead Players intro, Magic to Do, and we were soon swept away into the world of Charlemagne and his eldest son, Pippin. The musical follows the Lead Player and his troupe of actors as they re-tell the story of Pippin who just returned from the university in Padua. Unsure of what he wants to do with his life, he tries talking with his father whose mind is focused on an impending war. Pippin decides he wants to be a soldier, against the advice of his father, and soon learns more than he wants to about war. Some time later, after hearing the awful stories of how his father treats his subjects, Pippin is goaded into killing Charlemagne by his stepmother Fastrada who only wants to see her son Lewis to the throne. But after Charlemange's death, Pippin realizes that being a King isn't easy, he can't please everyone and soon wishes that he hadn't killed Charlemange. The Lead Player grants his wish and does everything he can to convince Pippin to commit the ultimate sacrifice, bringing the story to a spectacular fiery conculsion. At the last minute, though, Pippin declares that he needs time to think and runs offstage, throwing the Lead Player's plans into turmoil. The Lead Player quickly rearranges his plans and soon Catherine runs across an ailing Pippin in the woods and brings him back to her home. She does everything the Lead Player wants her to do in order to tempt Pippin. After some time has passed, Pippin becomes restless once again and leaves Catherine who realizes that she has fallen in love with Pippin despite the wishes of the Lead Player. With Pippin in this restless state, the Lead Player once again takes advantage and coaxes Pippin into committing the ultimate sacrifice. Catherine intervenes, forcing Pippin to realize what his life truly means and where his heart lies. Much to the chagrin of the Lead Player.

I loved the music for this show, and the cast did a fine job bringing it to the stage, even though the orchestra was a bit loud at some points, drowning out a few of the singers. A few times we had to strain just to hear what was being sung and couldn't hear No Time At All from Berthe, Charlemagne's mother. James Royce Edwards did a find job as Pippin -- a decent voice, which carried across the theater as his microphone was turned off during the finale (not by accident; it was part of the show). And quite a body! At one point, the troupe stripped Pippin to his skivvies, and the couple in front of us each raised his binoculars to get a closer look. André Ward shined as the Lead Player, giving him a very evil, flamboyant touch. Mickey Dolenz -- yes, from The Monkees -- surprised me as Charlemange and was very funny. Teal Wicks gave a wonderful and comic performance as Catherine. The entire cast performed admirably and used the incredible set -- a large metal framework with a rotating circle at the center -- to its fullest. The second act came across much better, funnier than the first -- thanks in part to the rapport between Catherine and the Lead Player.

Who would have thought that a musical about Charlemagne's eldest son could be entertaining?

Current Weight: 202 lbs. (-3 lbs.)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Favorite Movies of 2006

I had planned to jump right in with a simple, quick list of my ten favorite movies of 2006. But after mentioning two films that I saw over the New Year's Eve weekend, a few commenters wondered what I thought of the films. So before I list my movies, here's my (brief) take on those films:

Apocalypto: basically a chase movie set in Mayan times. Colorful costumes and makeup but a fairly boring storyline. Not a terrible film, but not one of my favorites.

Pan's Labyrinth: a stunning tale about a young girl named Ofelia who moves with her mother to a stronghold in Spain during Franco's reign. Trying to escape from the world of her new stepfather's rule, she creates an imaginary realm in which she is a long lost princess trying to return to her father. Imaginative storytelling, striking costumes and special effects, and an ending that caught me off-guard, I enjoyed this film immensely.

Eragon: Mix together a nice story, some good acting by Jeremy Irons, a strange bit part from John Malkovich, some decent dragon-related special effects, and you have an enjoyable fantasy film, probably geared more toward teens. I admit to getting a bit caught up in the whole adventure and flying dragons, but at times, it seemed as if the story were being set up specifically for a sequel.

Okay, now that that's out of the way....

I scoured my posts to check just how many movies I saw during the past year. Including a beautiful restoration of Fritz Lang's Metropolis (with live Wurlitzer accompaniment), I sat through well over thirty films. Breaking that list down into my ten favorites wasn't easy, but I managed, and so I present that list to you:

  1. Little Miss Sunshine
  2. Dreamgirls
  3. Pan's Labyrinth
  4. Volver
  5. Wordplay
  6. Shortbus
  7. V for Vendetta
  8. Monster House
  9. The Illusionist
  10. Running with Scissors

As for bad films, well, I squirmed through a few of those last year, too. The worst film for me I'd almost forgotten about until I found my post mentioning the movie. It's the only one I walked out of -- well, I would have walked out if I hadn't been seated on an airplane. Luckily, JetBlue offered DirecTV so after watching 20 mintues of this film, I switched channels to The Dog Whisperer just to keep my brain from deflating any further. The sad part is, I tried to convince The Boyfriend to see it, and he wisely refused. (I bow to your wisdom!) The worst film of 2006: Date Movie.

Friday, January 05, 2007

First Line Friday

Congratulations to Garry for being the first to correctly name last week's First Line:

Happy New Year by ABBA, music and lyrics by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson

The song was released on the 1980 album Super Trouper, with Agnetha on the lead vocals. Interesting to note is that song's original working title was Daddy Don't Get Drunk on Christmas Day.

On to this week's First Line. As part of our Christmas gifts to each other, we bought tickets for shows: Edward Scissorhands for him; Pippin for me. This Sunday we head for the Orange County Performaing Arts Center for the final showing of Pippin which tells the musical fable of Charlemange's youngest son Pippin as he tries to figure out his place in the world and in his father's kingdom. So for all you musical theater folk:

Think about the sun, Pippin
Think about her golden glance
How she lights the world up
Well, now it's your chance

I've enjoyed this ablum ever since I first saw the show years ago. An ex-roommate of mine happened to be in the cast so I received a comp ticket. The best way to enjoy a show!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mickey, Molé and Merriment, pt. II

So we saw Apocalypto after my cousin and his partner headed for Temecula.

Sunday, I tried to sleep in, knowing that it was going to be a long night. I woke instead at 8am, couldn't get back to sleep, read a few pages of Moon Magic, flipped through the TV channels at least three times, played my handheld sudoku game, and finally showered and changed around 12:30pm. Just in time for The Boyfriend's arrival at 1:30pm. We threw our overnight bags into the trunk of my car and headed for another movie since we didn't have to be in Lake Elsinore until around 7pm.

We drove to one of the few theaters playing Pan's Labyrinth in Orange County, near UC Irvine. Usually with a foreign language film, I can arrive with maybe five minutes to spare before the movie starts, stop at the restroom and the concession stand, then choose almost any seat in the nearly empty theater. Not so on New Year's Eve. We arrived about 10 minutes before the film only to find a line trailing from the box office into the parking lot then around the 24hr. Fitness. After some waffling about what to do, we finally waited patiently at the end of the line and made it into the theater just as the previews started. We stayed at the top of the aisle until our eyes adjusted enough to find seats then sat back and became lost in the magical world of young Ofelia trying to cope with her mother's marriage to a sadistic captain during Franco's Spain of the 1940s.

The movie let out at 5pm so we thought, with traffic and the long drive, the trip would last at least an hour. Wrong again. Surprisingly few cars were on the freeways, and we sped along the 55 N to the 91 E to the 15, arriving near RG and SK's house in Lake Elsinore in roughly half an hour. I exited the freeway and pulled into a shopping center, called RG and nonchalantly asked if he needed us to bring anything seeing as we were so close. He laughed and told us to head on over; we could help with setting up for the party. We stepped inside the Stater Bros. first to get a little snack for the "long journey" ahead.

At RG's, we helped prepare the dinner with both of us grating the pecarino romano cheese for some linguini and chicken dish that RG found on the Food Network's site. by 7pm, the other guests started arriving, and the glasses of wine and Coca-Cola made their way around. The hors d'oeuvres of cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, various cheeses and crackers, cookies, veggies slowly disappeared, but we somehow still had enough room for the incredible linguini followed by Death By Chocolate cake. After dinner, we popped The Devil Wears Prada into the player and settled in until five minutes to midnight, when we switched over to regular TV to watch the ball drop in Times Square. A few people left after the toasts and the kisses; those of us who remained, chatted and laughed until 3am, finally pulling ourselves upstairs to crawl into our beds.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mickey, Molé and Merriment

My New Year's Eve celebration began Friday afternoon, after a half-day at the office. My cousin and his partner decided to tempt the fates and visit Disneyland. An hour before I left work, he called to say that it took them 20 minutes to get through the main parking lot gates for a spot; they hadn't expected so many people but agreed to continue with their planned visit. I told them that I would meet them around 2pm near the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of the castle. So 1:15pm rolls around, and I'm waiting in line in my car, waiting to get close to the pay booths, waiting to get a ticket allowing me to park. 30 minutes later, I sat my butt on a tram and listened to the teen-aged announcer state that Disneyland was sold out: no one-day tickets, no park hoppers, no $35 extra for blocked out annual passes. That meant a capacity crowd, 65,000 people, packed almost sardine tight into 55 acres of attractions, food and shows. What a day this was going to be.

As it turned out, the day wasn't so bad after all. We met at the statue as planned, with my friend CS joining in the fun; rode the important rides, toured the Innoventions building where my cousin tried his skills at hypelrink hopscotch (each letter/square activated a different sound via overhead light sensors); wandered through Santa's Reindeer Round-Up to see the reindeer and turkeys; bumping into Josh Groban and his entourage while heading toward Pirates of the Caribbean; and finally, gorged ourselves on the buffet at the Storyteller's Café. CS and I showed my cousin and his partner around Downtown Disney afterwards, amazed at the different constructions in the Lego Store, the pretty lights all along the walkway, and the wonderful drinks at the Lost Bar.

Saturday, The Boyfriend and I showed my cousin and his partner the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels designed by Spanish architect José Rafael Moneo. I remember the last time they were here as we drove by the Cathedral on the freeway, The Partner attempted to take a picture of the wall of Angels, but the camera batteries died. I thought that this time, he would enjoy walking through the Cathedral itself better than the drive-by. (I added photos from both Disneyland and the Cathedral to the end of this Xmas album.) After a few hours admiring the intricate tapestries, being dabbed with Holy Water by The Boyfriend (and not bursting into flame), roaming through the mausoleum to see Gregory Peck's tomb and the relics of St. Vibiana, the hunger pangs kicked in. My cousin made it perfectly clear earlier in the week that he wanted to try that Mexican restaurant I mentioned so we headed from the Cathedral to La Parrilla in Boyle Heights, and I think my cousin fell in love with the place. He tried the stuffed cactus leaf while his partner devoured the chicken molé; The Boyfriend and I split a parillada with carne asada, chicken and pork chops. We all waddled through the exit and somehow managed to squeeze into our cars. My cousin and his partner sped toward Temecula to meet some friends so The Boyfriend and I decided to take in a screening of Apocalypto.

...to be continued...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


As with every turning of the year, I set down in writing my goals for the New Year. Or, at least what I want to convince myself that I am going to do without fail within the next 12 months. I neglected to make any resolutions last year so I didn't break anything, but I feel the need to make myself a written promise to do what I always tell myself every year to do so that I will actually do it. Therefore, I resolve:

  1. To reach my weight goal of 185 lbs. and to maintain that weight. Each year, I start out well then inevitably by November, I've gained it all back. And with my health problems (i.e., high cholesterol and diverticular disease), I need the constant reminder to drop the gut. Starting point: 205 lbs.
  2. To eat healthier. No more McDonald's or sodas or sugary fatty oh-so-good treats. I think by following this, resolution #1 migh be easier to reach. Boca Burgers for everyone!!
  3. To finish at least half the books I have stacked beside my bed. Perhaps this might be reaching too high as the stack contains about 300 books. I might lower this number as the year progresses.
  4. To publish something in writing, not just on my blog. No, I don't feel that I have the 'Great American Novel' waiting to burst forth from my head, but I would like to see a short story or an essay of mine in a magazine. Or a gay paper. Or a "Dear Abbey" column.
  5. To write better blog posts. After reading through past posts, my style isn't easy to determine. I seem to flit from serious to overly eager to couldn't-write-my-way-out-of-a-paper-bag. I need consistency.
  6. To meet a fellow blogger. (Besides joela whom I've known for 10+ years.)
  7. To learn Spanish. My cousin speaks it. The Boyfriend speaks it. And I took French in high school. What was I thinking? I plan on taking a class at one of the junior colleges around here a.s.a.p.
  8. To refurnish my little house. I've started with my dresser; next is the computer desk, then the bookshelf. Or vice-versa. Ikea, here I come!!

So here's to a better 2007! And may you reach all your goals, too!!