Friday, April 27, 2007

First Line Friday

The answer to last week's First Line, correctly guessed by Garry:
Kiss Me by Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy

He recorded the song three times, releasing it the first time in 1983 then again in '84 and '85. He finally reached the number one spot in the U.K. -- as a song writer for Robbie Williams and would up co-writing and co-producing Williams' Intensive Care album.

Tomorrow, The Boyfriend and I will head for the LA Time Festival of Books, hoping to sneak a picture of an author or two. Maybe even buy a book. (Like I need more.) In honor of the book fair, here's today's First Line:

Don't tell me you don't know what love is
When you're old enough to know better
When you find strange hands in your sweater
When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
I'm a man with a mission in two or three editions

Your only clue: Elvis Costello. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Huntington Beach au crépuscule

Back into my former habit of a walk along the beach. Dozens of seagulls resting on the sand with large, out-of-place pelicans scattered amongst them. A few sailboats and surfers testing the small waves. Random people chitchatting on their cell phones as they walked along the path. Decided to carry my camera with me; haven't taken pictures in quite some time. I uploaded the remaining shots to my photos page, the last six pics in the album.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

2 + 2 + 2

2: bedrooms, each equally large as the other. They should be to fit the Queen-sized beds. And ample space for a dresser or two, and a desk for the computer. A semi-complete entertainment set, including a TV, a VCR, a DVD player and -- eventually -- a cable box, will fit nicley into the master bedroom. Well, they will be made to fit. One room, facing the back of the apartment, hides a door which used to belong to an former apartment when it was two separate dwellings. I could find no trace of where the original wall used to be, though. The second faces the front of the 1920s building, large windows staring toward the ocean, allowing the breeze to blow through and to cool the rooms.

2: bathrooms. One per bedroom, I guess. Roughly the same size, each with a shower/tub combo, sink, toilet, and the usual. I think the counter tiles were pinkish or salmon or some red-like color. Funny to remember that only one bathroom is in a bedroom; the other is down the hall, closer to the living room. That one will definitely serve as a guest bathroom, should any out-of-town visitors show up -- announced or otherwise. Or perhaps the cat may use it.

2: me and The Boyfriend. Moving into a Long Beach apartment sometime in May.

Altar Boyz: The Video

The video shown during the performance we saw Saturday night: The Calling.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Weekend in Brief

- Saturday, while getting my car smogged, my Mom called to tell me all about the ship in Galveston, TX. She and two friends were taking a week-long cruise to Belize, Honduras and Cozumel -- a break she's really needed for a few years. I know she will have a wonderful time, relaxing on the balcony while the ocean slowly glides by.

- 6 of us gorged of heaping platefuls of Chinese food from Chen's in Long Beach, CA. I don't think we realized just how much food would be set on the table after the Wonton Soup and egg rolls: Kung Pao chicken, Mongolia beef, sweet & sour chicken, chicken with snow peas, broccoli beef, and crispy lemon chicken. We still managed to take home three large styrofoam containers of food!
After dinner, we sped to the Carpenter Center to see Altar Boyz. Great cast, including James Royce Edwards, whom The Boyfriend and I had seen eariler this year in Pippin, as Matthew, and a hysterically over-the-top Danny Calvert as Mark. The show varied somewhat from what we'd seen a few months ago in Los Angeles, including such new features as a music video made on the beach and near the CSU Long Beach campus, but the show still managed to have us laughing hysterically, especially when Mark comes out of the closet and finally admits that he is -- Catholic. Some of the actors were better singers than dancers, but considering they only had two weeks to rehearse before opening night, they did a fantastic job.

- Sunday, The Boyfriend and I bought gifts for our friend M's baby shower this coming Sunday. We thought about boxes of wine, but the babies probably wouldn't be keen on that. Neither would the mother.

- Afterwards, we caught the 4pm showing of Hot Fuzz from the creators of Shaun of the Dead. One of the funniest films so far this year!!! Quick edits, sight gags, a great story, quite a bit of blood and guts, lots of action. Do not miss this one!!!

- Oh yeah, we got the apartment.

Friday, April 20, 2007

First Line Friday

Happy Friday to you all! The answer to last week's tune, correctly named by Christian is:
A Love That Will Never Grow Old performed by Emmylou Harris and featured in the film Brokeback Mountain; music by Gustavo Santaolalla, lyrics by Bernie Taupin<

The song earned the Golden Globe for Best Original Song in 2006, yet wasn't nominated for the Academy Award -- even though Santaolalla did win an Oscar for Best Original Score for the same film.

This week's song was chosen simply because I like Robbie Williams' cover of it on Rudebox:

In my young life I have received
Callers as though they were Christmas Eve.
Disappointed and I don't know why.
She gave me laughter and hope
And a sock in the eye.

Tin Tin recorded and released in 1983 the original of this song, then subsequently re-recorded and re-released it two more times.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Umm, What Agenda?

I've heard the term "homosexual agenda" in various news reports, blog postings and websites over the past few years, and was just wondering....

I officially left the closet almost 15 years ago, and no one gave me the "Gay Instruction Manual" which I would assume contains a copy of this agenda.

I volunteered at The Center Orange County for many years before becoming a part-time staff member, and don't recall seeing copies of a "homosexual agenda" in any of the file cabintes or three-ringed binders. Neither was it hidden in any drawers nor left in plain view for visitors to browse at their leisure.

I've attended six different Pride Festivals both on the West and East coasts, even going so far as to be on the Board of one, but for the life of me don't remember seeing any booths displaying the agenda for anyone wishing a copy, or muscle boys wandering about clandestinely distributing copies to random individuals.

None of the bars or clubs I've frequented, in the United States and in Europe, provided copies of this document in the magazine racks by the entrances or by the postcard racks set in the back near the restrooms.

I served as an event volunteer and even walked four times for the AIDS Walk Orange County yet not once was an agenda mentioned or were fliers distributed with notes

A Different Light Bookstore and Equal Writes never sold a copy to me, either online or in the physical stores. No fancy displays with pictures of the author hidden behind a pyramid of stacked volumes.

None of my gay and lesbian friends owns a copy, either, and has ever seen one.

What is this supposed agenda that my friends and I are allegedly infiltrating on an unsuspecting America? I Googled it. I find it interesting to note that the majority of entries are from religious-based groups, yet even on those pages, nothing is said about what the "agenda." I thought for sure they woudl know since they talk about it obsessively.

So...does anyone really know? Is there a "homosexual agenda"?

Would you mind sending me a copy so I don't feel out of the loop?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gooey Goodness

For surpassing one of our goals for the first quarter, my company generously rewarded us with $100 per person for that accomplishment, with the money to be spent on a teambuilding event such as a group dinner or outing to an amusement park or the like, so we used that money wisely by dining last night at a little restaurant called The Melting Pot. It looked like a tiny, hole-in-the-wall store from the otuside, with windows tinted so dark as to deflect any and all light. Inside was dimly lit, but the hostess had no problem winding her way mazelike among the tall booths with us trailing behind wondering if we should have left breadcrumbs in order to find our way out again. She seated us at a table tiled with pieces of granite or slate. Tightly rolled black cloth napkins surrounding the colored handles of fondue forks were set at an angle toward the two steel pots resting on heating platforms at the center of the table. We slid along the black vinyl benches, and the hostess handed us the menu "books" and disappeared.

We browsed in wonder at the complexity of what to order, how many courses, the 6 pages of wines. When the waiter finally arrived, he explained the entire process, the four courses, the 5 different types of cheese fondues for the appetizers, the varitey of chocolates for the dessert. He left us to deliberate our choices, and the four of us decided to order an array of items so we could all sample the different tastes.

The appetizer course began with cheese fondues, and the waiter mixed and melted the ingredients at our table. The first item into each pot before the cheese? Half a cup of beer mixed with fresh garlic cloves. He allowed that to simmer then stirred in shreads of cheddar and fontina cheeses. Into the pot in front of me, he also added fresh salsa and chopped jalapeños for that fiesta flair. Once the cheeses began to bubble, he set bowls of apples chunks and bread and veggie plates along the table, instructing us how to use the fondue forks, not to eat directly from them because they would be too hot. We spent the next 20-30 minutes dunking bits of food into melting cheese, talking and laughing, drinking, enjoying the novelty of the dinner. I thought the cheese was good, but all I could taste was the beer overpowering the sharp cheddar tang that I had expected.

The next course consisted of salads, and for some reason, we each ordered a different salad: one Chef's, one California with walnuts and gorgonzola, one Mandarin and Almond, and one mushroom. When the waiter set the plate in front of me, I coudlnt' see any lettuce for the pile of mushrooms, but sure enough, quite a few leaves awaited, drenched in a parmesan/oil combination. Yummy!

The entrées arrived next, beginning with the waiter mixing the two cooking stocks in front of us. Half the group requested the "Coq au Vin" stock which offered a heaping glassful of burgundy to give it a little kick; the rest of us chose the "Mojo Style," with Caribbean spices and fresh-squeezed citrus juices. As those began to boil, trays of meat and seafood were placed in any open spaces on the table: lobster tail, tenderloin, ahi, chicken, shrimp, potstickers. Platters of red potatoes, yellow squash, mushroom caps and broccoli followed. Then, the dipping sauces, probably about 7 different types in all, followed with cooking instructions. Skewer the meat with a fondue fork, set it in the boiling water for two to five minutes depending on the meat, remove the meat from the fork and eat. We were not, under any circumstances, to allow the raw meat to touch our plates first. So we skewered and set the meat to cook and waited. And waited. And waited. All the activity, the hustle and bustle of dipping into the cheese and the chatter that went along with it, suddenly disappeared as we waited. The food was good, but if I had wanted to cook my own, I would have stayed home or gone to a shabu-shabu restaurant. The whole point of fondue is the dipping, and this course dragged.

But, the evening redeemed itself with the dessert course: two kinds of chocolate fondue complete with strawberries, pineapple chunks and banana slices, bits of pound cake and brownies, and marshmallows. And cheesecake! We sampled both a dark chocolate mixture fondue, and another with peanut butter swirled into milk chocolate. Needless to say, we would have licked the pots clean if the threat of burning tongues wasn't present. Two and a half hours later, we waddled from the restaurant and went our separate ways.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Apartment Reaping

I barely made it in time to Long Beach, resting a few brief moments until the two of us were out the door, walking to view another apartment just down the street before the showings ended for the night. We approached the front of the property as another couple squeezed their way along the small walkway leading from the apartments behind the front house. The Boyfriend took the last flyer from the box out front, allowing the couple time to leave, then we headed back to see the apartment. I won't go into too many details so as not to jinx anything, but we spent most of Saturday in Huntington Beach gathering the necessary information to complete the applications, if that's any indication of what we thought.

Saturday in and of itself turned into a harrowing experience for me, mostly because the application required copies of the two most recent paystubs. My employer no longer mails the paper stubs to us, instead choosing to have the company which cuts the physical checks to keep electronic copies online. Easy to access, to find what was needed, to print. Or so I thought. Maybe If I had logged onto the site within the past two years, I wouldn't have experienced the wonders of trying to remember my User ID and password. But after 15 minutes, I was logged on and immediately found the stubs I needed, saved them to my hard disk. I opened one of the files, prepped it to print, listened as the print heads whizzed along spraying ink on the paper, removed a blank piece of paper from the tray. Nothing printed. I ran the Epson utility. Black ink too low to print. Fine. No problem. I saved the files to a disk and off we went to FedEx/Kinko's. Only to learn that they're one and only Mac had broken a week ago. We had them call another FedEx in Long Beach and confirmed that they did, indeed, have a Mac. We saved them as a last resort and headed to Staples so I could buy another black ink cartridge. I stood before a wall of HP, Epson, Staples generic, Brother and myriad other inks trying to remember for the life of me what model number my printer was. The C86? The C64? The C46? I started grabbing my hair, threatening to yank it from my head, when The Boyfriend talked me into picking one, getting home to see if it matched, and if not, to return it unopened, get my money back. Brilliant idea! We made it back to my place, and I replaced the cartridge per the instructions. Opened the file again, clicked print and out popped -- a blank piece of paper. The utility showed the ink levels at normal, the heads and nozzles were free of obstructions, but not one image or word in black ink would print. I almost burst into tears until finally, one last try managed to print something, very faint but legible enough for me.

Two hours that took! We gathered everything together and headed back to Long Beach to catch a showing of The Reaping. Not a bad movie, with some good B-movie-type scares, but not necessarily a good movie, either. Parts of it were very predictable, and I still have no idea what Stephen Rhea was doing there. Or why Hilary Swank always seems so wooden in her roles. Some good special effetcs, especially the locust swarm sequence. However, unless you absolutely must see this film, wait for the DVD.

Sunday, we turned in our applications and decided to get away from Long Beach and drove up the 110 Freeway toward Exposition Park and the California Science Center. We didn't know at the time about the Star Wars exhibit, or we would have dressed accordingly as we saw many children in Jedi browns or Darth Vader blacks. Anyway, we just needed to get away, to take our minds off the apartment so spending a few hours learning how wind resistance affects cars, what a lung operation looks like, how fish adapt to changes in water current, all the while dodging running screaming giggling children wasn't too bad. I enjoyed the exhibits and turned into a kid myself when I pushed the buttons to light up the oxygen paths in a cockroach or looked through the microscope at green algae. The most interesting exhibit displayed the gestation cycle of a human, featuring real embryos and fetuses floating in a clear fluid to represent the different stages. The tiny fingers and toes, the fragile bones, even a light feathery swirl of hair on the head. Creepy and fascinating at the same time. The only low point turned out to be the BodyWorks simulator which apparently was still stuck in the 80s and moved like a Rose Parade float. At one point, it must have been cutting edge, but that was many a year ago. We wandered through the other exhibits, temptation almost daring us to try the High Wire Bicycle, and finally found ourselves walking through the rose garden outside. We rested a moment in front of the fountain, the soft rosy scent gently mixing with the chlorine. I had never visited this part of Exposition Park, nor the Natural History Museum so after our break we set out on a search for the museum and wound up in the Pavilion of Wings oohing and aahing at all the butterflies.

From there, we drove to West Hollywood for a bite to eat before the trek home on the Southland's freeways.

Friday, April 13, 2007

First Line Friday

Congratulations to Todd over at Postcard from Hell's Kitchen for being the first to correctly name:

Thank U, performed by Alanis Morissette. Music and lyrics by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard

This was the first single released from her Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie album and was written after a 1997 trip to India. And yes, in the video she is naked.

Tuesday marked my parents' 42nd wedding anniversary, but unfortunately, we could not celebrate then as my Mom was hacking up globs of phlegm. So we celebrated last night, my brother and I treating them to dinner at Sarducci's Capistrano Depot in San Juan Capistrano. The Depot was bulit back in 1894 as part of the Santa Fe Railroad and only recently was turned into a restaurant, one of my parents' favorites. A little pricey, but Mom reminded me to bring my Entertainment card for a discount. As we sat down at the table, I placed my card on the table, and Dad reached back to fetch his wallet. Only to realize when he couldn't find it that he had set it on the kitchen counter, changed pants, and then got in the car.

Heads turned as my Mom yelled "SHIT!"

So this week's First Line is a tribute to them, to 42 years of wedded bliss.

Go to sleep,
May your sweet dreams come true
Just lay back in my arms
For one more night

From the film Brokeback Mountain, this song was performed by Emmylou Harris and earned the 2006 Golden Globe for Best Original Song. And wasn't nominated for an Oscar.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bookwhore Chronicles: The Great Comic Book Hunt
To counter The Boyfriend's disappointment at the rental market, we decided to spend some time on a quest for the second issue of the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer series 8 comic book. Barnes & Noble didn't carry comic books, only graphic novels and manga so that proved fruitless. By chance, he found the first issue while browsing through the books at Borders so we decided to move our search over there. We made our way to The Pike, navigating through the road blocks and makeshift walls erected in preparation of the Long Beach Grand Prix. The comic book rack didn't contain the new issue, and when he asked at the information desk, the woman looked at him funny, like a puppy cocking its head at something it doesn't understand. She asked if he'd check the comic books, searched the computer, couldn't find anything, asked another staff member who curtly said "I don't know" before walking away, then politely shrugged her shoulders. As we left the store, The Boyfriend remembered another Borders down in Cerritos so we hopped on the freeway and headed south. That store carried a few comic books, haphazardly displayed in a solitary rotating rack by the magazines. Wonder Woman was filed with Futurama, a few books had torn pages, others splayed across the ground with shoe prints and folds. However, the staff proved much more helpful here; we asked the kid behind the counter if he knew of any comic book stores in the area, and happily listened as he pointed us in the general area of two stores nearby. Back in the car, we ramped onto the 91 freeway, heading for downtown Bellflower. Where we managed to find the two, tiny, hole-in-the-wall stores. The first was located next door to a religious temple, and the clerk gave a lengthy explanation of how the supplier had screwed up the order which was supposed to have been there on Monday but that shipment was missing the comics so they promised to ovenight the books to him but that box had the wrong issues so they were expecting the correct comics by mid-week. The Boyfriend gave the clerk his number, asking him to call when the comics arrived. We drove back toward the other store, contemplating whether or not to just check it out, finally decided to throw caution to the wind as we had nothing else to do. And what do you know? This store offered plenty of copies, plus back issues for my favorite series, The Walking Dead. Two or three hours and 30 miles later, he finally had the second issue of Buffy in his hands.

It took us each all of 5 minutes to read.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Third Time's the Charm

Friday, my answering machine blinked as I opened the door. Pushed the button. "This is _ from Dr. _'s office. Please call so I can go over the test results with you." Again! So I called, and the receptionist immediately put me on hold for twenty minutes. A silent twenty minutes. No hold music. No beep-beep...beep-beep. A few times, I thought she had accidentally hung up the phone, and I fought back the temptation to click the off button and dial again. She came on the line, saying that she knew I had called yesterday, but realized that they had "misplaced" my file and the urine culture had been run. "Negative for any UTIs."

So did the doctor want me to still see the urologist?

"I don't know. Did he tell you to?"

At this point, I wanted to scream into the phone that she had, in fact, told me on Wednesday after giving the results of my blood test that the doctor recommended my seeing a urologist. I edited this a bit, leaving out the curse words going through my mind.

"Well, then, you probably should. Have a good Easter!" Click.

My anger could only be quelled by a nice, quiet dinner with The Boyfriend followed by some retail therapy at Barnes & Noble.

Friday, April 06, 2007

First Line Friday

The answer to last week's song, as correctly guessed by Jef:

Grim Grinning Ghosts from the Disneyland attraction: The Haunted Mansion. Music by Buddy Baker, lyrics by X Atencio.

It appears in various forms throughout the attraction, from spooky organ music in the entrance foyer to an all-out 60s swing party in the graveyard. Incidentally, Thurl Ravenscroft (a.k.a., Tony the Tiger) appears as one of the singing busts as the doom buggies move their way through the graveyard.

For this week's first line, I just wanted to show my appreciation for everyone who commented about my ongoing urological problems and the "urinary malfunction" by my doctor's office. So without further ado....

how 'bout getting off of these antibiotics
how 'bout stopping eating when I'm full up
how 'bout them transparent dangling carrots
how 'bout that ever elusive kudo

This little ditty from Alanis Morissette was released in October of 1998, peaking at #17 in the U.S., #1 in Canada and #5 in the U.K.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Clean Forgot

I arrived home last night around 6:30pm to a blinking answering machine. "This is _ from Dr. _'s office. Please give me a call to discuss your lab results." Beep...4:30pm. Too late to call, and I figured if it had been an emergency, the nurse would have called my office. So I phoned at 9am this morning, sat through hold for about 15 minutes. The nurse told me that the test was negative but the doctor wanted me to schedule an appointment with a urologist. She also said that the results weren't back yet for the urine culture; she or someone from the office would call once those were in.

Fast forward to this evening. I made it home by 5:30pm, the answering machine light blinking as before. Once again, a message from the doctor's office -- not more than 15 minutes after I had called this morning -- to say that the nurse wanted to go over my test results. Good, the results were back from my urine test, I thought, and called. Sat on hold again for 15 minutes, and when the nurse came back on the line, she asked if I had received her message from last night about the results because she didn't call me this morning. I told her about my earlier call, and she confirmed that the test was negative. So I decided to ask which test she meant as I gave samples for both blood and urine. I heard paper shuffling, confused mumbling, then she said that the results were from the blood test. Apparently, someone forgot to send the other sample over with the blood so they won't have any results. She read from the report of my Tuesday visit that they had performed the dipstick test which showed no sugar in the urine but a microscopic amount of blood was present. (Blood? No one mentioned that before.) "Nothing to worry about. It's very commonly seen with the dipstick tests. Now, we can send the sample for testing, if you'd like, or the urologist will probably do another one so why not wait until then?" I said not to worry, that I would wait for the urologist to perform the test. Have a good night.

Then promptly surfed the internet in order to send me over the edge with diagnosis after diagnosis. Before I could work myself into a frenzy, however, I cut myself off from the computer and went to the gym to work out my frustration at the doctor's office for not sending all the samples to the lab and at myself for stupidly trying to self diagnose. I'm going to leave that to the experts.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Gotta Go, Gotta Go, Gotta Go Right Now

About a month and a half, two months ago, I woke up at 3:30am, a nagging urge to use the bathroom. I stumbled with partially closed eyes through the dark, winced as the near blinding light flicked on, did my duty and returned to bed. Falling asleep again was no problem at all, and I slept until the alarm rang as usual. During the day, the urge came back frequently, and I found myself darting to the bathroom more than I usually did.

The problem hasn't gone away -- hasn't worsened, either -- so I spent yesterday afternoon at the doctor's office hoping to find out what's what. We ran through a small battery of tests: pee in a cup (no sugar or blood in the urine), testicle check (no lumps), feeling around the abdomen (again, no lumps), and the ever-popular prostate check (mine's normal-sized...phew!). I mentioned some slight discomfort in my back, the lower left side, and the doctor thumped gently in a few spots, asked if I felt any pain (no to that one). He discounted water diabetes, benign prostatic hyperplasia (or an enlarged prostate), and a bladder infection. He mentioned a few other possibilities, such as my bladder not emptying completely, but wanted to wait until after the results of the blood test to see if an ultrasound of my abdomen was in order.

Personally, I just want to chock this one up to age and move on.

Update 4.5.07: Received the results from the blood test which turned out to be negative. The urine culture results won't be known until Friday, but my doctor wants me to see a urologist. He gave me two names so I will check to see if they're on my insurance and call.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

Everything Really Is Rent...and Pets

We spent more time on Saturday wandering through apartments in the Long Beach area. A fairly decent-sized one not far from where The Boyfriend now lives offered quite a bit: a huge bedroom, an equally huge living room, a kitchen with nice tile work and recently-painted cupboards. Of course, it needed new carpeting and a good scouring with a Comet-filled sandblaster, and the refrigerator really should be brought up-to-date instead of lingering in its rust-filled 1960s past. But the place took small pets and was reasonably priced. He checked it as a possibility, and we headed for the Bixby Knolls area to look at another one. Which, unfortunately, was still occupied and wouldn't be ready for viewing until the 10th. Still, he had walked through a similar apartment just two buildings away, and we both thought it a good idea to at least turn in the application.

Browsing through the lists provided by the different property management companies, I understood The Boyfriend's discouragement at finding anything. The apartments either refused to accept pets at all, or if a small pet were okay, a deposit would be necessary, ranging anywhere from $100 to $400. The managements will hem and haw about fixing a leaky roof or replacing a faulty appliance that came with the high-priced apartment, will risk health code violations in order to cut their own costs, but will penalize a person for having a cat or a dog. So much for Long Beach being "pet friendly."

(On a good note, though, we did seriously discuss moving in together. So we'll be on the lookout for two bedroom apartments, or perhaps even a house. I would love to buy one as soon as I win the Mega Millions Lottery.)

After taking a long break from the search, we walked over to the Art Theatre to catch a movie but detoured into a Goodwill-type store next door to waste a few minutes until someone showed up at the theatre box office to sell tickets. I immediately headed for the used books, found a good deal for 50¢, and added yet another novel to my growing swelling overflowing stacks. The Boyfriend may have rolled his eyes, but it was worth it. We hurried next door and bought our tickets for The Lives of Others, the German film that recently earned the Oscar® for Best Foreign Language Film.
1984, East Germany. The Stasi monitor artists, writers and anyone else they feel to be subversive to the government, and Capt. Gerd Weisler is considered one of the best. Minister Bruno Hempf believes he has found yet another subversive writer in Georg Dreyman, a playwrite who reads too much Western literature and has the wrong friends. Not to mention that the Minister would like Dreyman's actress girlfriend for himself. Weisler proceeds to bug Dreyman's apartment, watching and listening to everything that happens from his command center in the building's attic. But the more he eavesdrops onto the lives of the writer and his girlfriend, the more he finds himself changing, questioning the life he has chosen for himself with the Stasi which leads him in a very dangerous direction.

A remarkable film that was nothing like what I expected. I thought it would be the typical "man outwits the government" story, but watching the events unfold, as a member of the Stasi itself begins to question the government and to see "the enemy" in a different light, I found myself hooked. Ulrich Mühe's portrayal of Weisler was amazing; I started hating him at the beginning but as his opinion changed, so did mine, and I wound up feeling sorry for his predicament at the end. The film also gave a glimpse into a world most of us in the U.S. probably didn't know about or glossed over in high school history: the Stasi regime in East Germany. Well-written, well-acted and eye-opening.