Friday, February 29, 2008

Tagged!

The movers/assemblers actually finished around 3:30 yesterday so we moved the electronics (including the copier which I moved by myself, 'cause I'm butch like that) and our personal items as soon as we could. By 8PM, my knees back legs hands arms neck hurt so I took one last look at my email before closing the office. And what should I find but an email from this blogger informing me that I'd been tagged. "Write a blog with 10 weird, random facts, habits, or goals you want to achieve." Not one to shrug off a challenge, I decided "Why not?" so here are 10 interesting facts you might not know about me.

Because that's how I roll.

10 Facts About Me!

  1. I didn't have sex until I was 26 years old. Yes, I was a late bloomer!
  2. I've had a recurring place in my dreams since my teenage years: a Disneyland/Knott's Berry Farm amusement park. Each dream focuses on only one attraction, and I have visited the same attraction more than once. Over the years, new attractions have appeared, others have aged turning into ruins (but never replaced), the landscape remains the same for the most part. The span between the dreams runs from a few months to a few years, with the last one occurring about two-three weeks ago.
  3. One day, I would like to earn a Pulitzer for blogging. Ok, at least for writing something, whether it be a book or a series of articles.
  4. I write much better than I speak.
  5. I have an irrational dislike of the color purple. For some reason, which I seem to have forgotten, I have always equated it with serious illness.
  6. During a choir performance while in elementary school, the theater (i.e., multi-purpose room) became so hot that I passed out, landing on the boy two risers down, breaking his left arm.
  7. I drank quite a bit in college, once or twice to the point of passing out, but never suffered a hangover.
  8. The longest book I've read (so far) is A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys at 1120 pages.
  9. I have been at my current job for almost 10 years and still enjoy coming to work.
  10. Searching through my family tree, I am related to silent movie cowboy Tom Mix.

According to the rules, I'm supposed to tag 10 additional people to continue this meme, but I'll let you all off the hook.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Moving Right Along, pt. II

The movers arrived this morning to begin the re-assembly of our old work stations. So far, half the office is finished (not including my desk), and the crew managed to drill two holes in one freshly painted orange wall only to realize they didn't measure properly. And some of the carpet shows large glue spots from the workers yesterday, along with a few more brownish scuffs on the white walls.

Do I think we'll be able to move in by closing time today?

No. No, I don't.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Moving Right Along

It's only a temporary thing.

My office is going through a renovation (new carpet, four different colors of paint on the walls, new sign, new chairs) which began last Thursday with the three of us packing boxes and emptying our desks before the movers came to deconstruct our cubicles. Almost everything went according to plan, with only a few hitches such as the phone/cable guy arriving a few hours early to move our phone and network cables to another suite in the same building and the keys to the temporary suite not working, much to the chagrin not only of us but of the property manager who had to call the man out again to fix the locks.

I walked by our old suite this morning, and the walls are painted (orange, dark brown, off white and a blue-green; sounds a bit odd but the colors work together), the carpet's in the process of being pulled up, the floor repaired, the new carpet being rolled out. None of us can wait to return.

Because for now, we're almost breathing down each others' necks, confined to a tiny area of the temporary suite. And since the property manager's are trying to rent the temporary suite, a prospective tenant is coming by today to take a look.

I miss my old office!

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Night with the Movies

Yes, we were some of the low number of viewers watching the Oscar telecast last night. Of course, after hours and hours of pre-show red carpet insanity, endless dishing on dresses and silly, pointless questions from ho-hum "reporters," mindless jabbering about who designed what dress, I'm surprised anyone stayed to watch the 3-1/2 hour show.

I enjoyed John Stewart's antics and humor, the hilarious presentation by Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway, and the few surprises when they occurred, such as Tilda Swinton's win for Michael Clayton, but it was a boring show. We already knew the winners in the major categories thanks to earlier award presentations such as the Golden Globes, the Directors', Producers' and Writers' Guild Awards, the SAG Awards, critic lists and so on ad infinitum. They stole the Oscars' thunder, making for a highly predictable and lackluster broadcast.

I found myself more interested in the winners of the technical categories, cheering inwardly when The Bourne Ultimatum won three statues, beating out supposed favorites.

I don't know...maybe I'm just jaded with the whole Oscar thing. Maybe they should allow the viewing public -- the ones who shell out the $11 - $12 per movie -- to choose the winners instead of people in the industry. Now that would be worth watching.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bookwhore Chronicles: The Counterfeiters
My friend CS and I have been slowly reading through each book on the 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels list, compiled by The Publishing Triangle. Actually, it's two lists: one chosen by authors, critics and others in the publishing industry and one chosen by visitors to the site. What's surprising to me is the lack of overlap between the lists and the fact that I disagree with a few of The Triangle's picks. I felt that to be on the list, the novel or book should have something gay or lesbian within the storyline: a main character or plot motive. since I have no knowledge of their criteria, I gues it really doesn't matter. Both lists, though, have introduced me to some great (and some not so great) authors such as Gore Vidal, Edmund White, Thomas Mann, Jenifer Levin and Mark Merliss.

Last weekend I finished #61 on the Triangle's list (and #51 overall for me), The Counterfeiters by André Gide which has a subdued homosexual relationship. The title of the book suggests money counterfeiting, which does take place within the story, but tends to lend itself more to two characters showing a facade to the outside world, filled with quiet longing that only a few pick up on. And for having been published in 1926, that's quite a feat. I'm glad that the Triangle included it in their list.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don't See This film

During our mutual convalescence, CM and I needed a break from being cooped up in the apartment so we decided to see a movie on Sunday. But not just any movie. Something mindless and funny, to take our minds off our pains. And since I had two free passes, we chose Meet the Spartans.

I should have known better.
In a sad attempt to spoof 300, this film sends King Leonidas (pictured, played by Sean Maguire) along with his massive army of 13 Spartans to do battle against Xerxes. This would have been the perfect opportunity to poke fun at the old Steeve Reeves/Sword-and-Sandal pics from the 1960s, filled with bodybuilders and bad dubbing. Instead, the audience is forced to sit through disconnected MadTV-like sketches involving recent pop culture highlights that seemed out of place: Paris Hilton as a hunchback; Brittney Spears, K-Fed, the cast of American Idol judges and very unconvincing Ryan Seacrest lookalike being pushed into a deep well; Xerxes hopping into a car from "Grand Theft Auto: Hot Gates" and morphing into a Transformer; dueling insults and street dancers; Ugly Betty as an temple oracle; Queen Margo wearing the Venom suit from Spider Man 3 to do battle with Traitoro who becomes the Sandman.

But where Meet the Spartans really failed was with its miserable attempt at spoofing the homo-eroticism of 300. CM and I winced at all the negative gay jokes and stereotypes presented by the filmmakers. The 13 warriors skipping to battle to the tune of I Will Survive; the Spartan men greet each other with long, open-mouthed kisses, much to the dismay and negative looks of not only the Persian emissary, but even Leonidas' right hand man, Captain (played by Kevin Sorbo). One homophobic joke or sight gag after another, and surprisingly very few laughs from the predominantly straight audience.

I still can't believe that 20th Century Fox dared to allow this film to be made. What a piece of crap!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Extract

Friday, February 15, 2008 - 10:15am

"The patient before you ran into some complications," the office assistant said. "It's going to take about 45 minutes to resolve so if you two would like to grab a bite then come back...." I glanced at CM, worried about him walking on his sprained ankle.

"Actually, I'm ready to take the x-rays if you are." The doctor stood holding the door partway open.

"But, the patient --"

"She's all set. Are you ready?" I nervously rose, followed her down the short hallway to a small room with an examination chair, a computer and the x-ray machine: a white cylinder jutting from a small white box, attached to an articulating arm. "Have a seat." She then laid a heavy bib around my neck and chest. "Now, before we start, do you want to do them all? It would actually be quite a bit of trauma to extract all four in one sitting; I usually recommend pulling two, allow the mouth to heal, then take care of the remaining two." A wave of relief washed over my face. Two wisdom teeth pulled would be fine by me. "Okay then. Let me get the x-rays of your right side."

---

"How does your tongue feel?" Thick and tingly, much like my lower lip. I decided against the novocaine at the last minute, the words cardiac arrest and stroke from the medical release form scaring the crap out me. "Good. Okay, what I am going to do is to use this metal probe to create some space between the tooth and the jawbone." The probe looked about the thickness of a pencil. "Then, I'll grab hold with the pliers and pull." I asked how long it might take to extract a tooth. "It depends on the tooth. Sometimes within seconds; other times, I'm still at it after two hours." I almost vomited in my mouth. "Are you ready?" I swallowed hard and nodded. "Okay. Let me know immediately if you feel pain."

I heard the probe grinding against the bone, felt my jaw being pushed back and forth. The pliers entered my line of vision, and I closed my eyes, tried to return my head to the headrest while my jaw fought to leave my face. "First one gone." I opened my eyes, not really believing her. She lifted the bloody tooth still in the vice grip to show me. Just a few seconds from start to finish. I was in awe and told her I was ready for the next one.

Silly me, this tooth happened to sit on top of the nerve. I winced at the dull electric shock as the probe moved tooth against nerve. More novocaine. More probing. The grinding scraping of metal against bone started to wear on me so I closed my eyes, imagined myself seated in the car driving back to Long Beach, my head wrapped in a towel to keep the ice packs in place, unable to open close my mouth for fear of shattering every remaining tooth. "I need your assistance." The click of the office assistant's heels hurried into the room. "I hope you're not squeamish." Great.

After a few more minutes and more novocaine, she finally jimmied the tooth from its socket. She stuffed gauze into my right cheek. "Bite down. You need to keep this in place today. No drinking through straws. No spitting. Nothing that will create suction." She handed me more gauze in a sterile packet. "This is in case you need to change the gauze. But be careful: we want to keep the blood clots in place to help the gums heal." Talking from one side of my mouth, I asked about brushing teeth, what kinds of foods and for how long. "Please brush, just be careful on the right side and let the water dribble from your mouth. Remember: no spitting. You should eat soft foods for a few days."

I scheduled a follow up in a week to check the progress and to decide when to remove the two remaining wisdom teeth. I checked the clock in CM's car; less than an hour had passed. "See? You survived," he said as we headed back to Long Beach.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines
To CM: The third Valentine's Day with the most perfect partner in the world. Thank you for sharing your life with me, and here's to many more to come. I love you so much!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bookwhore Chronicles: Wide Sargasso Sea
I enjoy being able to walk around a library and just browse, not having to decide if I want to purchase something. I get a chance to be adventurous, selecting an author I've never heard of before or pulling a random title from the shelf to take home. A week ago, I found one such book: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. The title caught my attention because I'd heard of it, but as a movie not a book. I slid the novel from the shelf, read the spiel on the back, and held onto it for the remainder of the hour that I walked up and down the rows. And yes, I did check it out and began reading that night.

Antoinette Cosway grows up on the slowly dilapidating Coulibri Estate in Jamaica. She spends much of her time as far from the house as possible, trying to keep to herself but also longing to be accepted by the newly-freed former slaves who see her as lower than they ever were. Her step-father stays away from the estate, much to the disappointment of her mother, and along with his absences and the distrust of the locals, she slowly goes mad. Antoinette's life changes -- for the better and the worse -- when Coulibri is burned to the ground forcing her into a convent while her mother is institutionalized.

Many years later, Antoinette's step-father returns to arrange a marriage for her to a young Englishman. The Englishman, however, wants only a match to bring him wealth and halfheartedly tries to love Antoinette. Instead, he loathes the island, the inhabitants, the house he now owns; he mistreats Antoinette, slowly drives her to madness. Eventually, he packs her up and together they head for his ancestral home in England where he locks her in the attic under the semi-watchful eye of Grace Poole. She manages to steal the door key while Mrs. Poole sleeps, sneaking around the upper floor hallways in the dead of night like a ghost for the rest of her days, sending a rumor through the little girls who live in the house that the place is haunted.

As it turns out, Antoinette is a character from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre: the mad woman locked in the attic of Rochester's house. I enjoyed this possible history for a secondary character in a well-known novel. Why not give her a back story, a glimpse into what may have driven her to live in the attic? Having never read Jane Eyre, I feel more inclined to now, just to see how Antoinette fits with the story. Who knows: Antoinette may turn out to be more interesting than Jane.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Dinner Party

CM and I met my boss and twenty of her friends for her birthday dinner at Sam's Seafood in Huntington Beach. Most of them were in the bar when we arrived, still waiting for the table to be set for our large group, shouting over the too-loud music piped from the speakers and pounding from the live band playing in the back banquet room. We tried to make small talk but wound up talking only to one another. That tends to happen when I don't know anyone at a party; I try to strike up a conversation, but the person in question is already talking to someone else. Eventually, the hostess yelled that the table was ready so we filed into the main dining room and squeezed into the seats.

A large fountain/tropical scene gurgling behind us, complete with tiki idols, full lobster and crab shells set in menacing posing and plastic plants, made it difficult to talk to our neighbors, even after the very brief introductions so once again, CM and I kept to ourselves. I think we were the only gay people in the entire restaurant, too (even counting the guy in drag who stumbled from the back room into a bathroom). Other members of the birthday party slowly trickled in, creating the need for more seats and tables and adding to the loudness. In the meantime, the waitress gave us plenty of time to browse the menu, probably a good 30 minutes before she decided to take our orders.

After that, we sat and talked and ogled the tall, hunky waiter -- about 6'4", dark tousled haird, red dragon tattoo snaking around his right bicep -- handling a group of 15 twenty-somethings. Okay, I was doing all the ogling, but CM thought he was cute, too. Periodically, someone from the kitchen would appear with an appetizer or a salad, asking every single person at the table if he or she ordered it, forgetting one person's order of edamamé completely and even taking a drink back because she couldn't find the person who ordered it. My carmelized Atlantic salmon arrived on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes, and CM suggested that I go ahead and eat. I felt bad because his Udon with Grilled Chicken didn't arrive for almost 15 minutes after that, and I had almost finished my meal. (I heard later form the Birthday Girl that her husband ordered the Udon with Shrimp Skewers. The noodles arrived without the shrimp so they reminded the waitress, who had to run back to the kitchen to put in an order for the shrimp.) The whole dinner seemed like a gourmet comedy of errors with the only bright spot being that food tasted wonderful. Too bad about the poor service.

Much of the night's entertainment came from watching the partyers as they entered and exited that function in the back room. Men clad in kilts and blazers, women dressed to vamp in satiny dresses. Most drunk of their asses. One rail-thin blond woman cautiously walked from the ladies' room back to the party, clinging to the wall, and at one point, turning into said wall and bumping her head. An equally drunken man stumbled to her rescue and tried to console her as she slid down the wall to the ground. Minutes later, they left together along with another drunken couple.

I do think we had an F-List celebrity sighting: Dominic from Make Me a Supermodel. No one's certain thanks to the dimness of the restaurant, but many drunken women from the party in the back ran out to take pictures with him. He only stayed for about 15 minutes anyway.

Friday, February 08, 2008

What a Blast!

My cough wasn't going to deter me from going to the theater last night with RG, SK and CS. I'd purchased my ticket for Blast! a few weeks before Christmas, fondly remembering the abridged show from Disney's California Adventure many years ago. The full show had stopped in Orange County a few times before, but the dates always coincided with some work or family function. But I managed to buy the ticket early enough this time to forestall anything else.

We met for dinner last night at the Claim Jumper, with RG and I saving a table, ordering drinks and appetizers, and finally dinner while waiting for the others. I promised myself to stick to my diet since I was staying away from the gym for a few days but couldn't stop myself from sampling the spinach-artichoke dip. More than once. However, my main meal was a Jamaican Sweet Potato, stuffed with blackened chicken and a tropical fruit relish then drizzled with Clover honey. My mouth was on fire, but the chicken tasted so good! CS arrived just after we placed the order and told us of his tire problems (a nail which led to the tire shredding while on the freeway). AAA swapped the tire with the spare in the trunk so for now, he's driving a lopsided vehicle, trying not to surpass 50 MPH on the freeway. SK made it with about 15 minutes to spare before heading to the theater and polished off the remaining spinach-artichoke dip.

During the walk to the theater, we stubmled upon numerous groups of teenagers headed for the same show. Dozens of them marching over from the restaurants or stepping off school or chartered buses. And they seemed eager to see the show. Back when I was their age, our parents would have had to drag the majority of us kicking and screaming to such an event. So we forced our way through the crowd milling about the entrance and then had to separate: my seat was on the orchestra, RG's on the next tier, and SK and CS were relegated to the tier above that. We planned to meet during the intermission on the first tier's smoking patio.
My seat was almost dead center to the stage, offering a clear shot of the solitary snare drum in the spotlight on stage. As the light dimmed, the crowd of teenagers roared into cheers and applause, then quickly hushed as the first low notes from a bartione floated from the stage. Brass players dressed in black quickstepped, marked time, used intricate foot work to slowly dance across the stage while playing Ravel's Bolero. As the music swelled, percussionists strutted onto the stage, cymbals crashing, timpani booming to the swell and frenzy of the song's end. The crowd thundered applause on them, shouting and whistling, drawing from the energy of the music and enthusiasm of the performers. From that moment on, the show was non-stop energy, from the brass players to the flag/sword/rifle dancers to the very hot battling drummers. In fact, that was my favorite section of the show, the Battery Battle. (The piece is much longer and more involved than this snippet. The segment begins with a solitary snare drummer whose sticks move faster than anything I've ever seen. Soon, another drummer arrives on the scene, challenging him to a mock duel with punches and gunshots emphasized by the drums. Then, the long line of drummers appears in blacklight. Simply amazing!) By the end of the show, the entire cast had definitely earned that standing ovation, and they showed their thanks by waiting in the lobby, playing the drums and shaking hands with the exiting crowd.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

In Sickness....

I fought off a cold last month, thanks to a Z-Pack (azithromycin) -- two pills the first day, one pill a day for the next 4 days. the cough lingered, though, and for the past few weeks, I've felt the tightening and oh-so-slight congestion. But nothing happened until this morning when I awoke to a bried coughing fit and a faint soreness to the throat. No fever to speak of, which I took as a good sign.

At work this morning, as I drank my glass of Emergen-C, a co-worker called in to say that she spent much of last night vomiting and woke with a fever and horrific sore throat this morning. She decided it best to not come in to work (thank goodness!) and instead spent some time at the Urgent Care. When she called back, the bad news was she had a case of strep throat, which apparently her roommate has and some other friends of hers. Those of us in the office wiped her desk down with Clorox wipes and each drank a glass of Emergen-C.

My fingers are crossed that I don't contract the strep. I really don't want to take any more time off from work, especially since I'm having all four wisdom teeth pulled next Friday.

Go me.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Primary
Just before 7am, I walked to the fire station just down the street -- my polling place for today's California Primary. The firemen were still raising the flag and moving their vehicles from the garage to allow pollsters to set up. No voters had shown so I decided to head for my car and move it closer to the voting.

Ever since reaching the age to vote, I chose to use an absentee ballot. Going to college in Humboldt County but having a permanent residence in Orange County necessitated this, and I just became accustomed to it, even after graduating and moving back to my home county. In fact, it wasn't until a local election last year that I finally set foot in an actual voting booth. I remember bypassing the apartment after work, cautiously approaching the tables inside the fire station, showing my ID. This was all new to me: the scantron form to hook inside the laminated voting guide, the special ink pen that covered only the small circle for my selection, feeding the form into a computerized tabulatioin machine and being handed a red-white-and-blue "I voted" sticker (that I proudly wore to dinner at Hof's Hutt) along with my receipt. I did find it odd when they told me that I was only the twentieth voter they'd seen all day.

Today was very different.

I parked a house or two up the street from the station. Walking to the polls, another man quickly darted across the street between traffic to reach the fire station while a lesbian couple strolled hand in hand up the driveway; I followed them inside, clasping and rubbing my hands together to keep them warm. In spite of the cold and the early hour, a line had already formed. And more people slowly stepped inside the station, either in groups still discussing whom to vote for or singularly with well-worn election booklets in hand. Patiently, the pollsters checked each of our IDs as we reached the table, had us sign the registry, handed us the long scantron form, happily wished us good luck. I headed to one of the six voting booths, opened the guide and hooked my ballot inside.

I uncapped the pen but hesitated, flipping back and forth, wondering where the Democratic candidates were. The guide contained only the Republicans. So I moved to another empty booth: this guide listed only Independent candidates. I stepped back, looking for some designation above or on the booths. No such luck so I checked one last booth and finally located the Democratic candidates. I made my selection, then quickly marked my choices for the many propositions. The man behind the tabulating machine tore my receipt (#000009) from the ballot and had me feed the into the machine, then handed me my sticker, thanking me for taking the time to vote.

I think I was smiling as I returned to my car, watching more and more people file into the fire station.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Persepolis

Saturday afternoon we walked to the Art Theatre just a few blocks from the apartment to catch a matinée of the Oscar®-nominated animated film Persepolis. I'd heard about the film but never thought I would be able to see it on the big screen because it wasn't a big budget, studio-driven, computer-generated film. Thank goodness for independent theaters!
>Persepolis tells the semi-autobiographic tale of Marjane Satrapi (based upon her graphic novels), a rambunctious young Iranian girl growing up in the midst of societal and political changes in her country. Through her eyes, we watch the fall of the Shah and the change from a mostly Westernized society to a government ruled by religious doctrine, forcing women into a secondary role, covering their heads with scarves, and much more. Relatives and friends are thrown in jail, tortured, executed. Her parents, fearing for Marjane's safety, send her to a French school in Vienna, where she tries in vain to fit in, finally returning home to an Iran even more unrecognizable than when she left. An adult Marjane begins to question the religious government just as Iraq begins its war with Iran, forcing Marjane to flee once more, this time to Paris where she struggles with having to leave her family behind.

A touching movie, moreso, I feel, because the animation isn't the 3-D CGI visual pablum that's normally out in the market. The animation is very two-dimensional and black & white with varying degrees of grey, which makes the story the focus rather than the effects. And it's an interesting story, depicting a culture that we normally don't see and in a light that changes what we really know about Iran.

As we watched, I kept thinking back to Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. She discussed the same issues as Marjane, yet from an educator's point of view, how society changed from being open to doors being slammed and bolted against the Western world. I couldn't help but wonder if that is how our society is shifting, allowing zealots to tell us how to think and act, curtailing freedom and education in favor of outmoded doctrines. A very though-provoking film.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Flashes
We sat glued to the TV last night to ring in the new season of Lost, their two hour "event" as ABC liked to call it. The first hour, we sat huddled beneath a blanket, eating chicken hot dogs and slice of pizzas while a recap of the first three seasons took place. Very nicely done, managing to keep the tension level as well as not breaking the chronology of events. Okay, no as engrossing as the pop-up-video re-run of the season finale from the night before, but still very nicely done. At 9 PM, we were treated to a flashforward concerning Hurley after leaving the island. The entire episode focused on Hurley moving from the "present" on the island to the "future" of the flashforwards. Also nicely done, adding a new dimension to the story. I won't go into too many details, but something bad must have happened on the island as only 6 survivors (out of the original 48) managed to break free of the island. The season's off to a good start, and with only 8 episodes (thanks to the writers' stirke), I'm looking forward to the bumpy ride.