Thursday, March 31, 2005

Drivers are Stupid

Okay, as promised, here is my non-comprehensive list of why drivers are stupid.

First, many of them seem to have this belief that leaning on their horn during traffic jams will help the situation go a little better. Let me tell you folks, it doesn't. All it does is contribute to noise pollution.

Second, many drivers are a bit unclear on the concept of a "STOP" sign. You are, in fact, supposed to STOP at a "STOP" sign. "Rolling" stops, a/k/a "California" stops, don't cut it. This is especially true where I'm approaching the corner and am about to exercise my right of way by stepping into the crosswalk. Your job in that situation is to STOP and let me cross in front of you. Capisce?

Third, what is the deal with drivers in the left-turn lane who try to make that turn just when the light turns green, because they're too impatient to allow oncoming traffic to permit him a break first? That's retarded. It's even more retarded when these drivers make such an impatient turn, only to be faced with pedestrians in the crosswalk, forcing him to stop. Then the motherfucker's basically blocked at least a lane, usually two, of oncoming traffic. Smart move, dickwad.

Fourth, and quite related to the third, is when drivers move head into the intersection in an effort to beat the red light, only to find themselves completely stuck in the middle of the intersection -- "blocking the box." They are usually spurred on by the idiot honking drivers (thus putting them on stupidity par with the idiot honking drivers) and now face the wrath of the idiot honking drivers on the cross-traffic. Worse again is when they do this and effectively block a crosswalk, forcing pedestrians to walk around their car. I love it when the driver wants to move, but can't because a steady stream of pedestrians keeps him from doing so. They tend to get pissed that all these people are blocking his way, but I just think to myself, "Well ya should have thought of that before you fucking blocked the box, huh?"

Yeah, I'm rapidly becoming a hater.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

On Asseveration and Fiefdoms

For work, a good friend of mine found himself a city called "Fife." This IM session took place this afternoon.

Dennis!: isn't a fife something like a feudal plot of land?
Friend: I thought it was a flute.
Friend: As in "the drum and the fife"
Dennis!: like you're some vassal allowed to live in it upon conditioned upon your servitude to your feudal lord?
Friend: you're thinking Fief
Friend: fiefdom
Dennis!: you're right.
Dennis!: on both counts.
Friend: well duh
Dennis!: it's been ages since i've had occasion to use the word "vassal"
Friend: so?
Dennis!: i dunno. some words are just fun to use. i think i'll try to incorporate "vassal" into conversation sometime this week.
Friend: You're an odd duck.
Dennis!: i am not a duck!
Friend: quack then
Dennis!: some friends and i decided that "asseverate" would be a cool new word to assimilate into our vocabularies.
Dennis!: and other words too, but i seem to have forgotten them.
Dennis!: ... which defeats the purpose of trying to assimilate them into my vocabulary.
Friend: uh huh

I think my friend thinks I'm high or something.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Whither Comments?

Okay, I'm not a "comment whore" or anything (really -- I'm not!) but I do admit I do feel a slight flash of jealousy when I browse some other blogs and find that the number of comments they receive is consistently really high, especially compared to mine. (To wit: I've only hit double-digit comments once on this blog.)

But then I stopped to think what purpose comments really serve, and whether this little flash of jealousy I get makes any sense.

Let's face it, on some small level, comments can somehow serve as a barometer of popularity -- the more comments you get, the more concrete proof you have that you have a readership, and there are people out there who actually read what you say and actually think about it. Comments do something that site traffic statistics can't do: they tell you what some of your readers actually think. For example, I get a lot of hits from BlogExplosion, apparently, but none of those hits usually stay on for more than the requisite 30-second surf. It's the comments that tell you someone's paying actual attention.

But then when I started thinking in more detail about the comments left on some other peoples' blogs, I realize I have no real cause to be "jealous," per se. (This is how pathetic my life is: I spend my free time thinking about the social implications of blog comments.)

I like sites where the comments appear to be a somewhat interactive experience between the blogger and the readership. On some of the blogs to the right, it's evident (I think) that many commenters have never met the blogger in person, and the comment section is really a "get-to-know-you" through the usually not-highly-personal world of the internets.

Other blogs, however, appear to be a victim of their own success. Very highly trafficked blogs -- the ones which generate upwards of 40 to 60 comments on each new post -- don't have that give and take. While I still enjoy the material on those blogs -- whether because of a particularly evocative writing style or due to fascinating substance -- the comments sections bore me to the point that I have come to stop reading them. If there are 50 comments on a post, and all of them say "You are such a great writer!"... well, that's boring. Similarly, blog entries that really are nothing more than a picture of the blogger, with all the comments running along the sycophant lines of "Wow, you are so hot/gorgeous/handsome/pretty/studly/doable!" While I'm sure that's a great ego boost, that's not something I generally feel the need to be envious about. (Not that those words would properly describe any photo of myself I could choose to put up.)

I tend to only take the time to post a comment when I really have something to say. If I can't say anything too different from comments already posted, or if I can't contribute intelligently to an ongoing discussion, I'd rather not comment at all. I don't usually contribute to long chains of "You're so great!" -- I presume by the time I get there, the blogger knows it from his other comments. Another blog I check frequently is usually loaded with comments from regular readers, most of whom know the blogger personally, and whose comments are generally inane. (Why would you leave "Get well!" or "Good luck!" in the comments section when you know the blogger's phone number?) In which case "comment envy" looks rather silly.

Which leads to my last random thought: there's one blog I check -- again, a nameless one -- in which one commenter shows up often, but not so much to comment on the blogger's posts, but to send "private" communications to the blogger: "Call me this weekend!" or "I had fun last weekend. We should hang out again!" This only leads me to wonder why the commenter can't just pick up a frigging telephone. I know that if my friends knew about this blog and came on here just to post messages to me, my first reaction would be "Uh... you couldn't call me on my cell phone?"

Friday, March 25, 2005

Two Questions

My last Terri Schiavo post, I promise... at least until Terri Schiavo actually dies. (Previous posts can be found here and here.)

I have two questions for those people out there opposing Michael Schiavo's attempts in this matter based upon religious beliefs. Even though I doubt that any of them actually read this blog, I figured I'd toss the questions out anyway.

First, if you believe that good Christians go to heaven upon death to join God and the angels, then why are you fighting Terri so hard against Terri's journey there? If it's such a great place, why are you fighting tooth and nail to keep Terri in her corporeal form down here on earth where she has slim to no chance of actually developing brain function? All I know is if there's a real choice between heaven and being imprisoned in an ethereal form over which one barely has control, I would choose heaven. And I would sure as heck resent anyone who grabbed my arm and held me back from running there as fast as I could.

Second, if you argue that keeping Terri alive is The Will of God, have you stopped to consider Who caused the heart attack that put Terri in this position to begin with? Perhaps God was trying to take her back into His fold, and now our mortal feeding tube is what's actually thwarting God's plan. Since none of can ever actually speak to God to determine His intentions, we're all just guessing here. So how can you be so freaking sure that you aren't the one thwarting God's intentions? Who's the one "playing God" now?

An Homage

I miss Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I read this parody back in college, and it's still so hilarious it can bring tears to the eye. Unfortunately, I don't know who wrote it, so I can't properly attribute it, but there appears to be attempt to place its origin at the top of the linked page.

Pedestrians Are Stupid

Here's my latest pet peeve: pedestrians. Okay, I know I am one too, seeing as I don't own a car, but some people are idiots.

First, I can't stand people who feel like they're so important and in such a rush that they can't wait for the light to change at a crosswalk even if they can only safely make it halfway across the street. So they step out into the sidewalk and walk to the double yellow line, where they then stand like morons while opposing traffic keeps going right on by. Come on people. I have nothing against crossing against the light if you know the traffic patterns and you can safely get all the way across, but you look frigging retarded when you cross halfway then have to wait for the light for the second half of your journey anyway.

Second, I hate pedestrians who cross against the light, but then saunter in the face of oncoming traffic. Uh, hello... you're crossing against the light. At least have the decency to act like you're going faster than you normally would instead of holding up people who have the green in front of them while you take your sweet ol' time walking. If you can't jaywalk at your normal pace without slowing down cars who have the light, either don't cross, or speed up.

Third, I hate pedestrians who don't make way for other pedestrians on the sidewalk. I swear, lately I'm invisible, even on the sidewalk. I'll be walking along and a group of, say, three people will be on the sidewalk approaching me, taking up the entire length of the sidewalk, and yet none of them will begin to make any move whatsoever to provide me with some sidewalk space! There have literally been times recently when I've had to step into the street or the grass to avoid these people. Next time I'm just putting my head down and headbutting my way through, inconsiderate sons of bitches. I'm not a ghost, and if you think I am, I will SHOW you how corporeal I am.


Later installment will probably read "Drivers are Stupid." 'Cause, trust me, I do have a load of gripes about them as well.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

O Pungency!

I just came back from a quick trip to the men's room, which confirmed:

Yep, I did have some asparagus with my lunch today.

That is all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Purely hypothetical post. One of those "I have a friend who..." posts. No, seriously.

I'm soliciting the advice from the random community of strangers that make up this corner of the internets. Are the following things weird?

1. Considering dumping a nice enough certain someone because s/he's just too nice. Examples: s/he's too accommodating ("What do you want to do?" -- "Oh, whatever you want to do..."), and/or too easy to walk all over ("Yeah, we had plans last night, sorry I didn't show up." -- "Oh, that's okay, it was just a quiet night here watching television....").

2. Continuing to date someone who has wildly different taste from you. Examples: music (popular/MTV versus jazz), television shows (popular culture mind rot versus PBS junkie), leisure time activities (bike riding versus popular culture mind rot), weekend sleep patterns (sleep until noon versus up-and-at-'em by 8 am).

3. Continuing to date someone even though you are physically incapable of sleeping in the same room (let alone bed) as them (light sleeper versus heavy snorer).

4. Continuing to be with someone even though the sex is a bit unsatisfying.

5. Keeping in mind #4 above, considering breaking up with someone even though the naked cuddling is quite nice.

6. Insisting on a condom even for partnered masturbation sessions. What about for solo masturbation sessions?

Just a few questions going through my head. I know the first response everyone will come up with is "Well, does the asking party LOVE him, or at least REALLY LIKE him?" Answer: Undetermined at this time. (And to stave off further questions: About three months, no explicit discussions of exclusivity.)

If you're a lurker here, please pipe up now! And if you're still here looking for the unedited lyrics to that "Milkshake" song, I still don't have them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

¡Hasta Mañana!

I was getting a cup of coffee on Saturday morning at my local coffee shop. Having placed my order and handed over my money, the guy behind the counter handed me my change, saying, "Your drink will be at the bar in just a minute. Here's your change. Thanks and see you tomorrow!"

I was only half paying attention and was halfway to the bar when I realized that he had said "See you tomorrow." Suddenly I was afraid I had been rude. Did I know this guy? Were we going to be hanging out the next day?

I turned to look at him. He was cute. I certainly would not have minded a date with him. But did we have plans? Maybe he knew where I was going to be the next day (I was doing some volunteer work) and he would see me there... but that seemed unlikely.

As I stood there pondering what this guy said, another guy went up to the counter and placed his order. "Thanks, see you tomorrow!" the clerk said, handing the customer his change.

I suddenly felt much less special.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Fanning the Flames of My Faggotry*

* Bonus points if you recognized this reference from one of Margaret Cho's concerts.

I saw this on Drew's blog, and had to try it out myself:

I'm a Hunky Faggot!

I'm a Hunky Faggot! Oh hello. I am completely gorgeous. You may touch me for a nominal fee, although I’d prefer that you were at least as hot as I am. I was genetically engineered for pleasure. Mine.

What kind of Faggot are you?
Brought to you by Pushing Through

.... and upon seeing those results, I fell out of my chair with laughter.

So I went back and tried it again, and this time:

I'm a Fabulous Faggot!

I'm a Fabulous Faggot! I’m the epitome of over the top breathtakingly extravagant faggot chic. I dance like a big queer demon, although I am more concerned about being seen than actually enjoying myself. I probably wear feathers. Jesus Christ.

What kind of Faggot are you?
Brought to you by Pushing Through

... and again, the results couldn't be more inaccurate. Undeterred, I tried again:


I'm JASON! Whilst not really a faggot in the true definition, this is only a minor technicality. I love to burrow in the jiggling corpulence of the morbidly obese, and I have an unhealthy attraction to ginger hair. My sexuality is constantly being questioned and science will probably never be able to discern exactly what it is that I suffer from. I smell a bit like onions.

What kind of Faggot are you?
Brought to you by Pushing Through

Who the hell is Jason? One last try before I give up and decide this quiz is not for fags like me:

I'm a Macho Faggot!

I'm a Macho Faggot! There’s nothing I like more than a well polished codpiece, some leather chaps, and a place to park my beast. I probably watched too much Full House when I was younger. Also I have a strange penchant for misshapen moustaches. MACHO MACHO MAN. I WANNA BE A MACHO MAN.

What kind of Faggot are you?
Brought to you by Pushing Through

All right, that does it. I clearly don't fit any of these descriptions. Clearly the guy who came up with the quiz deals in narrow stereotypes into which I do not fit. I am unique! I refuse to be neatly categorized! I am a hole without a peg! Wait, that one sounds totally wrong....

Schiavo Redux

Okay okay okay, I know I've blogged about this before, but I'm still so worked up about this situation I feel the need to come up with yet another post on this, expanding my thoughts beyond just the "marriage" question to multiple issues of Republican hypocrisy in light of newer developments.

First, a recap of the newer developments: After attemps to delay the removal of Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube at the legislative, judicial and executive branches of Florida's state government failed, the U.S. Congress has taken it upon itself to pass a bill permitting a federal court to further review the case -- the case is now effectively in front of a federal judge in the Middle District of Florida. Indeed, those crafty lawmakers even attempted to subpoena the woman in hopes of invoking Congressional prtections against interfering with a witness under subpoena.

When will the madness end? And what happened to Republican core principles?

"State's Rights"

For a party that rallies behind the mantra of "state's rights" as much as it does, the Republicans in Congress sure don't seem to want to let the State of Florida handle this one on its own. Perhaps that's just beacuse they so vehemently think that the State of Florida simply got it wrong. Never mind that, according to otherwise traditional Republican dogma, each State is entitled to its own autonomy over its own citizens, and in fact such autonomy is mandated by the Tenth Amendment. "Let the States decide for themselves!" they cry... generally omitting the caveat that this only applies if the Republican party likes the outcome.

"State's rights" is also often used as a rallying cry with respect to the issue of gay marriage. Those few Republicans who are against amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage -- as well as those Democrats who also oppose amending the Constitution but who don't support gay marriage rights -- usually do so under the banner of allowing the States to decide the matter. Of course, they can do so safely, because so far state after state has pretty much voted to amend their Constitutions to deny gays the right to marry. But what would happen if any State voted in favor of gay marriage? I fear that Republicans would suddenly feel the urge to strip that State of its autonomous powers with respect to the issue and decide that issue for them.

"Smaller Federal Government" / "Less Governmental Intervention"

Again, apparently this is a great Republican tenet to live by if the underling masses were capable of reaching the "right" conclusion on their own. There's absolutely no basis in law for permitting federal intervention in Terri Schiavo's case -- none. And yet the Party Of Small Government is more than willing to pass legislation to allow the Government to stick its nose into the Schiavos' personal business because they don't like the result.

Essentially, the Republican party appears to treat the unbridled masses much as one would a recalcitrant adolescent: We'll give you just enough personal autonomy and discretion to make you feel like you've got some control over your life, but we'll slap you down the moment we disagree with you. Sure, go to the college you want -- as long as it's Harvard or Yale, otherwise we'll yank the purse strings. We ain't payin' for no Oberlin.

"Sanctity of Life"

I read all kinds of arguments that Terri wants to live. No one can say for sure that that's true. She can't express that desire on her own. The "reactions" she exhibits to her parents may simply be involuntarily bodily ticks, and doctors have testifed to as much in court. Indeed, my understanding is that the courthouse file on this matter contains hours and hours and hours of footage of Terri lying in her bed, exhibiting these involuntary "reactions" from time to time, even when no one's there.

The argument that people seem to put forth is that there's simply too much doubt here. Because no one knows for sure what Terri's wishes are, and there's a chance that she's respoding to stimuli and exhibiting a desire to emerge from her persistent vegetative state, we should err on the side of keeping her "alive."

But these same people who argue that we must "err on the side of life" have no problem with the death penalty. In fact, death penalty proponents -- mostly Republican -- care not about the inherent uncertainty in the system, and that there frequently is a pretty good chance that a convicted felon is, in fact, innocent. In fact, Republican lawmakers appear willing to turn a blind eye to these flaws in the capital system of punishment, limiting appeals of death row inmates even when new exculpatory evidence is available. Where is the "err on the side of life" argument now?

According to Republican thought, if a man sits on death row and new evidence surfaces that might prove him innocent, tough luck. He's already been through too many appeals and he's annoying us now. If a woman lies in a persistent vegetative state and her husband decides she would rather not live in that way, we must invent new avenues of appeal for her because her life is just so valuable.


"The Sanctity of Marriage"

Although my last post dealt with this subject in a broader sense, the point remains the same: You can't claim on one hand that marriage is the gold standard of relationships, wherein you give yourself completely to your spouse, while fighting tooth and nail for the right of government to come in and interfere with your decisions made in the context of that marriage. It's just fundamentally irreconcilable.

Every time gay marriage comes up, proponents seem to bring up one fact more than others: hospital rights. Spouses are "family" and therefore presumptively allowed to see loved ones in the hospital; many gay partners are denied this ability. Spouses are legally presumed to be the decisionmaker for an incapacitated partner.

But apparently this rule of law only really works when the spouse makes the "right" decision. Otherwise, watch out. The slippery slope his is immensely dangerous. If the will of the spouse can be ignored here, in what other contexts will it be thrown out the window?

"It's Inhumane"

I see arguments about how this action is actually inhumane. Truth be told, I can somewhat see their point: Terri's eventual death in this matter will come not from a lethal injection or other death acceleration process, but from starvation. Her feeding tube is being removed, but her breathing and heartbeat remain functional.

But to focus completely on the "death by starvation is barbaric" argument misses a pretty important point as relates to this post: Who was it who removed death acceleration (lethal injection, etc.) from the table? Take a guess as to which political party doesn't want to see euthanasia as a viable personal (private) choice in America, and one which doesn't hurt anyone except the person whose choice is being affected. When Oregon voters passed the "Death with Dignity" Act, permitting doctors to assist in the death of terminally ill patients, John Ashcroft responded with a directive stating that such assisted suicide would result in federal penalties under the Controlled Substances Act. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals shot him down; the case is now slated to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Don't think that the same liability wouldn't result under this Administration in a different jurisdiction.

So whose fault is it that the only way that Terri can be permitted to die with dignity is through the removal of a feeding tube? If lethal injection were an option, I'm sure Michael Schiavo and Terri's doctors would have considered it -- but it's effectively been removed from the table.

Finally, at least one person commented on my previous post that "we don't even treat our dogs as badly as they want to treat Terri!" Fact is, though, we do, and it's better that way. When dogs (and cats, and horses, etc. etc.) become so crippled with pain and disease that their quality of life is no longer good for them, we put them to sleep. It happens all the time. We decide, on behalf of our pets who can't speak for themselves, that it would be more humane to put them to "sleep" than to allow them to continue to endure life in an undesirable state. In my view, that's what Michael seeks to do for Terri.

"Control Freaks!"

The commenter to my previous post also said that people seeking to remove Terri's feeding tube were simply "control freaks" who want to decide Terri's destiny for her. Frankly, that's an idiotic argument because it's basically a swinging door, going equally in the opposite direction as that in which it's pointed. The Schindlers are seeking to "control" Terri's life as much as Michael is -- the only difference is the result they each reach. And someone has to exercise control over Terri's life, given her inability to do so for herself. And the point of my last post was that legally, the person entitled to exercise control over her life is presumptively her husband (see "Sanctity of Marriage"), and it didn't happen here.

"He's an Adulterer!"

I see this argument all the time. It's not so much related to the Republican hypocrisy point of this post, but I'd like to address it anyway. The argument is basically that because Michael has another woman in his life -- and has in fact fathered children by her -- he is somehow no longer capable of thinking in Terri's best interests.

Terri's been in a persistent vegetative state for fifteen years. I find it incredible to believe people who are basically arguing that the man should lock himself up somewhere and pine over a wife who no longer is capable of loving him back. I don't fault Michael at all for attempting to move on, and I don't think it has any bearing at all on his love for Terri.

I ask anyone who disagrees with me to try the following exercise. Think about your significant other: spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, life partner, whatever have you. Think about why you fell in love with him/her, and what memories you will carry of him/her after s/he's gone. Think of what's great about your relationship and why you treasure it as much as you do. Make a list of those reasons that starts with "I love my partner because..."

... and I bet that no one who has performed this exercise has a list that begins and ends with "I love my partner because s/he has a pulse and can breathe on her own." No one. It really does take more to sustain a relationship. A smile, a sense of humor, a personality, something. Terri has none of these. She has a heartbeat and is capable of independently drawing breath. That's all she has. Yet some out there would argue that Michael should have remained 100% committed to this woman who by now has none of the original traits that he fell in love with.

Yes, standard marriage vows say "For better or for worse, in sickness and in health," but when there is nothing to hold on to in the present, perhaps it's time to accede to the future. It doesn't mean Michael loves her less; it means he's accepted a reality that her parents aren't yet prepared to deal with.

I think I've made my point. I know there are people out there who disagree with me. I think we all agree it's a damn tough choice all around, and I certainly wouldn't wish it upon any of my loved ones to decide whether I live or die (hence my intention to draft a living will ASAP). All I ask is that everyone who reads this approaches this post with an open mind toward the arguments contained. Informed, civil dialogue is good; ad hominem attacks, bad.

PS: For still more (and better) analysis of Congressional hypocrisy, check out Terrance's post at Republic of T. And for an analysis of how the Republican majority here is completely out of step with mainstream America, check out Christian Grantham.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Patience is a Virtue, People!

Two stories:

Jessica. As I've mentioned before, my friend Jessica and I periodically get together for dinner just to catch up and chat. Usually, arranging this gathering consists of one of us sending an email saying "When are we getting together?" which begets a one-line email response of "I dunno. Next week?" This continues back and forth until we finally pin down a date.

I initiated the emails this time around with the following (non-one-line) email: "When are we getting together again? I have a funny story, and stuff I should probably give you." The "stuff I should probably give you" is a reference to the fact that, having just developed my film from my trip to Madrid -- yes, I am a troglodyte who still uses 35 mm film as opposed to a digital camera -- I realized that that beginning part of the first roll contained pictures from Jessica's wedding -- which took place on Memorial Day weekend 2004. Yeah, that's what happens with me and rolls of film in my camera. So I was going to share some of the pictures with her.

Her response: "What stuff? What story? How's next week?"

See, doesn't it defeat the purpose to tell you the stuff and the story now, over email, when I'm presently making plans to meet up with you so that I can share this stuff in person in due course?

Ignoring her questions, then, I write back to her: "Next week is good - Weds or Thurs?"

Her response to me doesn't pick either one of those two days. Instead it just says: "What stuff?"

There's something to be said for delayed gratification, people. It's what separates us adults from the six-year-old-and-under set.


My Sister-in-Law (hereinafter, "SIL"). We return to my trip to New York for this anecdote:

SIL, Brother, and I were walking through Soho on my last day there, having just eaten in Little Italy. We were making our way back to the subway so that I could return to my B&B, pick up my stuff and hit the bus, and they could head back to their hotel for another few days. As we were walking along the streets of Soho, where I had lived for three months the summer after my 2L year, I remembered this noodle shop I had seen around there somewhere. I had never eaten there, but I remember that it featured in their window prominent pictures of Mel Gibson dining on their food. I remember it distinctly because there were literally something like ten shots of Mel with his bowl of food -- each time with various employees posing with him. It reminded me of those wedding shots the photographer always dictates ("Okay, now just the bride and bridesmaids! Now just the groom and groomsmen! Now the couple with his side of the family! Now the couple with her side! And the couple with the kids! And the couple with the crazy old aunts they will never see again!....") Mel looked exceedingly uncomfortable with having all these pictures taken of him. I felt kinda bad for him. He was just kinda looking for some food, and instead his soup probably got cold because of all these damn pictures being taken. Seriously, he wasn't even smiling.

Now keep in mind, the point of the story is not just that Mel Gibson was there, but that those photos looked retarded and made the owners look more like fucktards (thanks, Steve) than anything else. And they probably made it for damn sure no celebrity was ever going to set foot in that restaurant ever again.

Anyway, I decide I want to relate this story to SIL and Bro, so I say, "There was this noodle shop somewhere around here, and it was so funny, 'cause they had these pictures of Mel Gibson...."

I had forgotten that the instant you drop a big-time celebrity's name in SIL's presence, she becomes deaf to all else. Her brain experiences a tunnel-like lockdown, and she will hear of nothing else.

"Where?" she asked.

I made the mistake of ignoring this interruption. "... and it was all retarded, 'cause..."

"Where?" SIL piped in again, this time more urgent. It was like she was thinking, If we run over there now, maybe we'll see him! Despite the fact that I saw the photos some nine years before.

"... 'cause he looked so annoyed...."

"WHE-E-E-ERE?" she interrupted yet again. Man, her voice can get whiny. But really now. I mean seriously. Who the fuck cares where? It's a noodle shop with a horribly inappropriate display of a celebrity eating there in the window. It's not all that important. And besides, it's fucking rude to interrupt so much!

"I! DON'T! RE! MEM! BER!" I finally respond, exasperated. The story never got finished. By that point, all desire to share the pitiful "get-me-the-heck-out-of-here" look on Mel's face had evaporated. I was annoyed.

I felt bad for my outburst; really I did. Particularly since this was literally the last hour I would be seeing my brother (and his wife) for a while, since I have no current plans to go back and visit home again for a while. But that really did work my last gay nerve.

All I'm saying is, most people would have waited until the end of the story to politely ask, "Oh, so this shop around here? Where?" which would not have involved interrupting the story, and could have facilitated a more polite, "Oh, somewhere around there-ish; I really don't remember since it's been so long."

The moral of this post: Sometimes, you can wait for just a little bit before you get the answers to all your questions. It's more fun that way. And a lot less annoying.

Now, patience when it comes to BLOGGER not loading correctly or quickly, that's a whole different story... though I might blog about that as well in a soon-to-come post.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sugar or Vinegar?

So here's my pet peeve of the day: People who demand things rather than ask for them. Seriously, have we really totally eliminated "please" and "thank you" from our collective vocabularies?

At my first "real" job, my "receptionist" who doubled as a "file guy" was around my age. Fun to talk to, but we didn't socialize much outside the office. Asking him to do something would be kind of strange, just because I never liked -- and still don't like -- acting like I'm big boss man telling the guy without the law school education what to do. But from time to time I did it anyway, but I'd do it nicely: "Hey Tony... can you do me a favor? Could you make folders with these labels on them and then sort through the correspondence accordingly? Thanks."

Tony, on the other hand, liked to phrase things using a more imperative voice. If I needed to sign a document before it went out, he'd approach me with it saying, "I need you to sign this...." His tone of voice wasn't abrasive or anything, and he was polite as you can be, but it always somewhat irked me that he would phrase his request as "I need you to..." rather than the more polite, "Could you please...?"

Maybe I'm just being petty.

By the way, this also applies to situations where people get paid to take orders. I'm talking restaurants, fast food joints, etc. When I place an order at places like that, I like to say "Yes, could I have a #3 combo please?" And I definitely say "thank you" when the transaction is done. My peeve: When people place their orders by saying, "Yeah, I want a #3" or "I'll take a #3" or "Gimme a #3." That's annoying. Ask for what you want. Yes, I know you're paying for it, so politeness isn't going to score you much in terms of extra points, but it certainly would go a way toward making this world a nicer place, don't you think?

Yeah, I'm definitely being petty.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I'm Glad They Clean These Things Up

The transcript of my first deposition looks innocuous enough. My client claimed he was injured on the job; he needed time off to recover. His injury was the result, apparently, of the bad luck of him being on the wrong side of a very heavy door when a colleague came barrelling through it, painfully hitting his shoulder. I was deposing the woman who opened the door.

Q: Where was Mr. C-- at the time you came through the door?
A: He was kneeling down behind the door fixing an electrical socket or something.
Q: Did you know he was behind the door when you came through it?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did Mr. C-- say anything to you when you came through the door?
A: He said, "Ow."
Q: Let's take a recess, please.
[Whereupon a short recess was taken.]
Q: Back on the record. Did Mr. C-- say anything else?
A: No.
Q: Let's take another recess.
[Whereupon a short recess was taken.]

Looks fine, right? Well, except for the fact that I appear to have taken two recesses with exactly one question in between them. There's a reason for that. If the court reporter hadn't been nice enough to leave out the gory details what actually happened, the transcript would look much less professional:

Q: Did Mr. C-- say anything to you when you came through the door?
A: He said, "Ow."
Q: [Dennis! bursts out in completely uncontrollable and definitely inappropriate laughter for approximately three straight minutes. He literally loses his breath as he chokes out the words:] Let's take a recess, please.
[Whereupon a short recess was taken.]

[Whereupon Dennis! leaves the room in a vain effort to compose himself. His breath is the least of his concerns, for he has now lost his professional dignity. He is thankful that the deponent is represented by junior counsel, approximately his age, and not lead counsel, aka $500/hr. bigshot attorney. He replays the scene over and over in his mind, laughing anew each time, hoping that at some point soon he will get over it and find it less funny. He goes to his colleague, who asks him, "How's it going in there?" which only obliges him to rehash the entire story and burst out laughing all over again.]

[When Dennis! finally thinks he has a grip on the situation, he takes several deep breaths, smoothes out the wrinkles in his suit jacket, and re-enters the room where the deposition is taking place. Off the record, he apologizes to the deponent, to opposing counsel, and to the court reporter, and says, "Okay, I think I've regained control now. Focus."]

Q: Back on the record. [Whereupon the giggles resurface with alarming power, and Dennis! again has to choke out his question:] Did Mr. C-- say anything else?
A: [.... Thinks "This guy's so totally on crack."] No.
Q: [Gives up] Let's take another recess, please.
[Whereupon a short recess was taken.]

(Generosity of court reporter indicated by italics.)

[Okay, actually I had to plead with the court reporter that it would be cleaned up. My exact words: "That's not going to all show up is it? Like, it's not going to actually say 'Dennis! breaks out in uncontrollable laughter, necessitating a brief recess,' will it?" I don't think she would have done that anyway, but I just wanted to make sure. After all, my boss would eventually be reading this transcript.]

Like I said, I am SO glad she didn't put all those details in.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Look Sook

.... or "My First Vivid Memory That I'm Simply Not Like Other Boys."

I don't remember when it all began. The closest I can come to pinpointing it was the time I found a second grade friend of mine attractive. He was so slender and fit. Of course, I had no idea what sex was, let alone homosexual, so I convinced myself that what I was thinking wasn't gross or anything; really it was just that I, a not-quite-so-in-shape kid, wanted to look like this sleek thin guy in front of me. I told myself that what I was thinking was aspirational, not sexual.

Of course, by the time I was seven, my (older) cousins were talking about naked women. One afternoon, we found a stash of Playboy magazines somewhere in my uncle's house – why does every family everywhere seem to have a "secret" stash like this? And why is it that said stashes are never as "secret" as the stashers seem to believe? – so we started going through them. I knew I was supposed to find those images appealing, but, frankly, they really weren't appealing at all. I found myself looking through them with a detached disinterest, like it was a science experiment or something. Big boobs weren't making me all hot and bothered. (Truth be told, there's also the fact that I was seven at the time; there wasn't a lot that would get me all hot and bothered). Even stranger was the "between-the-legs" area: sometimes shaved, sometimes not, but definitely missing something, and thus incredibly funny-looking, goofy even, perhaps even unnatural in appearance due to the conspicuous absence "down there."

As we were flipping through the pages, my cousin John asked me (in his typical oh-so-subtle fashion) "So is your dick hard?"

"No," I responded, "but show me more, and I'll get there!" (I was well-schooled in how I was supposed to react. Confused, I was. Stupid, I was not.) He explained to me that it was called a "boner" and that's what happened to guys when they saw naked hot chicks.

I never did get a "boner" that day.

But the bigger event, the truly gargantuan misstep, took place at the tender age of eight, at my grandmother's house. My family, including some extended family, were there for dinner. As usual, I finished my dinner early and began horsing around in the living room. After a short while, my Uncle Stewart, having also finished his dinner already, approached me and asked me a few questions pointedly calculated to pointing out my fagginess.

"Do you know how to use a dictionary?" he asked.

"Yes," I cheerily responded, for I was a smart kid, and one of the reasons I knew I was smart was that I was adept at using a dictionary when few of my peers were. I was ahead of the dictionary curve for my age group. (Trust me, I'm not bragging -- my elementary school peers really weren't the sharpest knives in the drawers.)

"Do this for me," he suggested. "Go to 'm' and look up the word 'MASK-yoo-lin.'"

I dutifully took up the dictionary (a bigger tome than the kiddie versions I was used to using at school) and sounded out how to spell the word. After a false start at mask-, I had little trouble finding the masculine in the right place. I read the definition: "Of or relating to men." I ignored the rest of the definitions because, frankly, they didn't make sense to me. Heck, I barely understood the "of or relating to" definition structure I had already come across so many times, so the fact that masculine also related to the final stressed syllable (huh?) meant nothing whatsoever to me.

"Okay," continued Stewart. "Now you know what that means, right?" I dutifully told him I did. Of course, I didn't; not really. It was just a little white lie, but I didn't want to look stupid. I had just looked the word up. When you've done that, you're supposed to get it already. So I said I got it.

"Now go to 'f' and look up another word for me."

Of course, Uncle Stewart led me to the word feminine: "Of or relating to women." Again with that "of or relating to" thing. Just a little confusing. I prepared myself to fake it in case there was a pop quiz. How would I fenagle "of or related to"? I truly didn't know what the heck that definition structure meant.

"Now," Uncle Stewart asked me triumphantly, "now that you know what those words mean, here's the question: Do you want to be more like the 'm'-word, or more like the 'f'-word?"

I was confused. Was this a trick question?

Thoughts were racing through my mind in rapid fire, like a automatic weapon unloading the entire nine yards. I was a boy, and eventually I would (presumably) become a man; I knew that much. So what exactly was he asking me? Did I misunderstand the definitions I had just read? Did I want to be "of" men, or did I want to be "of" women? Did I prefer to "relate to" men, or did I want to "relate to" women? I wasn't sure I understood.

Thinking quickly (because this obviously wasn't one of those questions where thinking it through too much was a good idea), I decided that every boy, every man, every male person wants to be with a woman. They most definitely want to be "of or relating to women," because men and women were meant to be together. So of course men wanted to be "relating to" women, right? "The 'f'-word," I responded.

Even at that tender age, I knew that there was supposed to be a "right" and a "wrong" answer to this question. But I was confident that I had provided the "right" answer.

"The 'f'-word?" Uncle Stewart was incredulous. After all, I had understood the definitions I had just read, had I not? I had told him so! And yet I responded in all honesty and with minimal hesitation that I strove be a feminine little boy. It had been a 50-50 shot, and I had blown it.

My uncle's reaction was more powerful than the BZZZZT! sound from Family Feud or, more time-appropriate, the big bad "lightning" from the gameshow Bullseye. I had given the "wrong" answer. My instinct for survival (and acceptance and approval) kicked into high gear, and I immediately attempted to backtrack furiously from my position: "No! No, no, the 'm'-word!" I cried. "I meant the 'm'-word! Really! I was just confused just now, that's all!"

It was, of course, too late. I couldn't take it back. I had just professed my desire to be a nancy-boy, an Abba-esque dancing queen, a rubber-wristed fairy. And I was eight years old. I had, with a prescience theretofore unknown, stated categorically that I related more to Wonder Woman than to The Fall Guy; that I was more Charlie's Angels (mostly Sabrina) than T.J. Hooker; that I wanted to be Jaime Sommers more than I wanted to be Steve Austin. I had effectively come out of the closet before I even knew what the closet was, or even what sex was all about.

It's no wonder that he was not terribly surprised that I eventually came to realize that I like men and I'm a homoqueerfag type.

Ah, family. The ties that bind. Not unlike a noose. Or that receptor site on a red blood cell where oxygen should bind to get itself transported to the vital organs of the body, but where carbon dioxide sticks instead, resulting in CO2 poisoning.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I'd Sacrifice My Personal Integrity for a Date

From time to time, I enjoy watching really trashy, awful television shows if for no other reason than to make catty, stupid comments about them, as I'm about to do now. On with the show!

Room Raiders. So bad, it's fun to watch. The premise: three people who have previously signed up for this adventure are basically kidnapped from their homes on some "random" day by an MTV crew, and secluded somewhere or another. While the three of them are sitting there waiting, they start making out and stuff watch from remote video feed as another person -- someone who will eventually win a date with one of these three kidnappees kidnapees canapes persons who were so recently kidnapped -- goes through their rooms. MTV provides these nosy neighbors with little "investigation kits," include a pair of tongs (so they don't have to touch dirty underwear, yet can still pick them up to show to the camera) and a blue light kit (to check for evidence of "stains"). All in all it's pretty nasty and prurient -- which is why I suppose the show does as well as it does.

The point is that the Raider knows nothing about the person whose room they're investigating until the end of the show. All physical depictions of the room's owner are removed from the room by the MTV crew, so the Raider never knows if the room owner is supermodel hot (not me), or math team geek/nerd (me).

The Raider is encouraged to make stupid comments about each of the rooms she's surveying.* Many times these comments are completely retarded and make the Raidee look like a total asshat more than anything. The assumptions some people make are astounding. Other comments are merely idiotic.

One chick I saw walked into the house (the room owner lived in the basement) and loved loved LOVED the living room. The couch was a nice color, she proclaimed, as was the fabric. (Personally, I didn't think it looked all that comfortable, but I have an Ikea couch so what do I know?) "This shows that this guy has taste and knows how to decorate," she proclaimed. "That's a big plus." Of course, she seems to have completely overlooked that the house clearly belonged to his parents and he was dollars-to-doughnuts** completely without voice as to any interior design choices. How the heck did she expect that a 23-year-old boy would come to own an entire house all to himself? And if he did, why would he choose the basement of all rooms as his bedroom? Get a grip, stupid chick.

Another chick I saw raided the refrigerator at the house she visited. "Ew," she said, "this guy's got -- I think it's lamb in the fridge, and it looks like it's gone all moldy. Okay, that's really gross, and a big thumbs down." Cut away to the guy watching her, and the guy is heard to respond, "Uh, that's seasoning. It comes that way so you can just open it and bake it without going through extra hassle." Ooops. How ignorant did that Raider sound when she's here dissing the guy for keeping "moldy" lamb? (I think it was rubbed with pesto or something.)

And I really can't get into why you would ever really want to break out the black light. I don't know about you, but I don't want to know whether there are residual bodily fluids on anyone's bed, even if I'm about to date them. That's just ew. Like hotel sheets, you just have to take it on faith that bedrooms are clean enough for your purposes.

Elimidate. Wow. This show gets worse each time I happen to catch it on the tube. The premise: One girl (I'll call her "TMG", for "The Main Girl" -- it'll double as "The Main Guy") starts the day with four guys. After a certain time, she has to choose to get rid of one of the guys, then another, then another, until she has chosen just one guy to have a "date" with. (Of course, there's also the converse where one guy starts with four girls.)*** Frankly, the only time I'll stop to watch this show is when there are four guys, because odds are high that some of them will remove shirts, and I have to admit, the guys they find are usually pretty hot.

Theoretically, the show is about the four guys vying for the attention of TMG. Strangely, though, the show seems to always degenerate into a "my dick is bigger than his" competition. Not literally, of course.**** But there's actually very little focus on wanting to get to know TMG as a person. It's all just about winning. Do any of the guys really want to be with TMG because of her stunning wit and awesome personality? Not really. Heck, even if she's not supermodel gorgeous, these guys just want to win, if if it means winning a date with a two-bag ugly chick. They'll probably get laid by the end of the night anyway.

If you think that this it's a machismo male competition thing, you're wrong. The chicks do it too. Then it's all about calling the other girls "hos," "sluts," or "trash," and also accusing them of having, uh, surgically enhanced body parts. They'll take the guy just to show up the other girls. Many times that involves inappropriately and rather abruptly leaning over and tonguing the guy. Shockingly, very rarely does the guy ever recoil at a girl randomly shoving her tongue down his throat.

Funny thing is, there doesn't seem to be any "escape clause" for poor TMG. What if s/he doesn't like any of the contestants? S/he doesn't seem empowered to elimidate them all. Does s/he just go out with the least objectionable when the night is over? Or perhaps those episodes just don't air.

I've only seen one episode where one of the "contestant" voluntarily excuses himself. I'll give him credit though, he wasn't shy about what he was looking for. In the Round of Three, it was revealed that TMG was a virgin and planned to remain that way until marriage. She still knew how to have fun, she proclaimed (read: able booze it up and probably even take it up the butt, but still hymenally intact),***** but she wasn't going to give up that one sex act to anyone just yet. Our Horny Humble Contestant decided to relieve TMG of her obligation to select a man to elimidate after the second round; he excused himself, leaving her with two men. His reason? "I'm looking for a girl who has more experience" (read: I don't want to have to break you in). Heh.

And now, the last show of the night, the creme de la creme of dating shows, yes, Blind Date. [Aside: Roger Lodge is a hottie, but of course as the host he has no reason whatsoever to take his clothes off. This is a waste of a hot host.] Need I really say more? Check out that web site. (Okay, it's broadband only, and otherwise kinda sucks, but hey.) The "Unseen Scenes" is hilarious. I personally love their snarky little thought bubble comments they put up during dates.

Do people really believe they'll find good dates on this show? It's fun to watch and all, but it's a train-wreck fun. I'll give them props, they've actually had a few gay date episodes (not many, but oh well) which were just as awful as any other. Quote from one gay show: "If I wanted to date a girly girl, I'd date an actual woman." Quote from same show: "How does it feel to be emasculated on national television by your gay blind date?" Ouch, and ouch.

In the end, no, I would not sacrifice my personal integrity for a date. But it sure is fun to watch.

PS: Do you think this entry would make a good application essay for a stint on "Blind Date"?

* The Raider is not always female; I'm just using that pronoun. The Raidees are selected based upon the sexual orientation of all concerned, though I've only ever caught one gay-male episode of this show. Of course, that's the one where I most expected the canapes to make out in the video room.

** I do not know the origin of this phrase. In fact, it sounds stupid. But it's catchy. Kinda like that stupid "Milkshake" song.

*** Normally, I would consider being upset that there's really no gay episodes of this show, but I really don't think a gay Elimidate would work. You'd have Main Guy surrounded by four other guys. What's to keep two of the "other guys" from hooking up and leaving Main Guy without any lovin'? I'm just sayin'.

**** Oh, but that it were. I wouldn't mind seeing the "show proof" segments spawned from that dramatic device.

***** Woah, was that overly vulgar?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Fast Food Frivolity

The following events transpired as I went to a local fast food restaurant tonight to pick up some food to take to a potluck.

The Players:
Cashier Nos. 1 and 2, and to a lesser extent, 3.
Unknown other customer.

I placed my order with CASHIER NO. 1, paying him in bills. Obviously running into a problem with the level of change in his drawer, CASHIER NO. 1 broke a single into loose change through CASHIER NO. 2's till and handed me $0.85.

And now, our play:

CASHIER NO. 2: Can I help the next person please?

[Other Customer approaches her.]

UOC: Yeah, you guys have a special....

CASHIER NO. 2: [to CASHIER NO. 1] Did you... [to UOC] I'm sorry, excuse me. [to CASHIER NO. 1] Did you raid my till?
[Note that through this entire time, CASHIER NO. 2 does not actually turn her head to look at CASHIER NO. 1. Instead, she continues to look forward, pretty much at UOC, while talking to CASHIER NO. 1.]

CASHIER NO. 1: I needed some change.

CASHIER NO. 2: I don't care if you needed change. I TOL' you before not to be raiding my mothafuckin' till! Don't GO coming into my motherfuckin' till!
[Yes, she used the word "motherfuckin'" twice, in front of customers.]

[I continue to wait for my food. UOC places his order and hands over some money. CASHIER NO. 2 starts trying to make change for UOC.]

CASHIER NO. 2: [to CASHIER NO. 3, though again without really turning her head] Yo, give me four cents.

[CASHIER NO. 3, however, is a little busy, and is unable to help CASHIER NO. 2 with her request demand.]

[CASHIER NO. 2 takes a nickel from her till and walks over to CASHIER NO. 3's register. CASHIER NO. 2 presses a button on CASHIER NO. 3's register, obviously with the expectation that CASHIER NO. 3's till open in response. It does not.]

CASHIER NO. 2: Damn!

[CASHIER NO. 2 walks over to CASHIER NO. 1's till, presses a button, and proceeds to break her nickel down to pennies.]

ME: [starts giggling uncontrollably]


Friday, March 11, 2005

You're Only Married if Republicans Agree With You

Inspired by Matt's recent post -- which is an interesting discussion and which has spawned some interesting back-and-forth -- I thought I'd share some of my own thougts about Terri Schiavo's case. My thoughts aren't as deep as Matt's -- my brain can't handle such weighty issues today -- but I thought I'd share my opinion on that morass down in Florida.

Quick factual recap: Ms. Schaivo is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), and she has been for fifteen years now. Her brain stem is ruined, the result of a heart attack, and really the only thing keeping her alive now is her feeding tubes. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, is trying to have her feeding tube removed, arguing that she would not have wanted to remain in this vegetative state. Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, are fighting tooth and nail to prevent this from happening, arguing that she exhibits signs of higher brain activity and that there is still a chance that she could come out of her PVS. They also argue that Mr. Schiavo -- who after during the fifteen years of his wife's illness has taken up residence with another woman and indeed fathered children by her -- does not have Terri's best interests at heart.

The Florida state government has gotten involved as well. After the court system decided that Mr. Schiavo was entitled to have Terri's feeding tube removed -- a decision that took years and years of litigation and several trips up through the appeals court process -- the legislature passed a law that by its own terms expired in something like one day, granting the governor permission to intervene in all cases with facts shockingly similar to Terri's. Unsurprisingly, Gov. Jeb Bush ordered the feeding tube reinserted (Mr. Schiavo had ordered it removed). Also unsurprisingly, the case was taken back to court and, again after a bitter series of court fights between Terri's husband and her parents, the court rebuked Gov. Bush's actions, and again held that Mr. Schiavo has the rights to decide what happens next.

Of course, the Schindlers continue to fight, filing a new series of motions with the trial judge. The trial judge finally recently decided that he was not going to grant further extensions on the matter, and, very soon, Mr. Schiavo will once again be permitted to order the removal of Terri's feeding tube.

My thoughts on this matter run not so much toward the gist of Matt's post about "playing God" or the innate sanctity of human life, etc. My thoughts run more along the lines of Republican hypocrisy, which I've noticed very little commentary on throughout this debacle.

With gay marriage making headlines around the country and the world, Republicans lately harp on and on about "the sanctity of marriage." It's a bond between a man and a woman, they cry, it's sacred, not to be messed with, sanctified.

But it appears to me that, at least in Florida, the bonds of matrimony are only meant to be honored when it's most convenient for the party's political ends.

Michael Schiavo, under the law, has certain automatic rights when it comes to his wife. These are, in fact, the very rights which gay couples want so badly to have, and which Republicans are so determined to deny them. These rights include the right to make life-or-death decisions on behalf of their spouse. If Terri were indisputably dead, with no brain function whatsoever, Michael would have full rights to dictate the manner of her final disposition (burial, cremation, etc.), to have her organs donated, etc. etc. He could make all those decisions for her. If she were suffering from Alzheimer's or some other disease that robbed her of her mental competence, it would fall upon him, her legal spouse, to determine whether she should be institutionalized, or cared for at home, as well as to decide whether or not to subject her to certain medical treatments.

Yet in this particular case, Republicans have decided to carve out an exception to their precious "time-honored" institution of marriage. Here, instead of Michael Schiavo being able to speak on behalf of his wife -- and he insists that she had previously expressed her desire not to be kept alive in circumstances like the one she's in now -- the Repulican legislature and the Republican governor decide they know better than the woman's husband what her desires are. Let's face it, they're using Terri Schiavo as a poltical tool to affirm their so-called "pro-life" stance (unless you're a capital criminal, in which case killing someone is okay).

And this is not the first that Republicans have tossed aside the "sacred bond" of marriage when they disagreed with the decision of the legal spouse. Remember Elian Gonzalez? Elian's mother died while trying to illegally transport him from Cuba to Florida. Elian made it to Florida shores and eventually he was placed in the custody of relatives in Miami. Not his father, by the way -- we're talking cousins and grandparents. His father was in Cuba, and indeed was unaware of his mother's attempts to bring him into the United States. Eventually the Justice Department determined that Elian had to be returned to his father, even if it meant that his father would take him back to Cuba.

The outrage from Republicans was blinding. You would have thought we were sending the boy to fend for himself in a Australian outback instead of sending him home with his freaking father. Where was the respect for the institution of marriage then? Where was this sacred bond then? Where were the automatic rights accorded the father of the child over all others then? They were shot out the window in favor of the political capital that comes from supporting the Cuban-American community in Miami by condemning Cuba's system of government. Elian was a convenient political tool, the same way Terri Schiavo is now.

Michael Schiavo presumably knows best what his wife would have wanted under these circumstances. Those feeding tubes should be removed and Terri should be permitted to die with dignity, not have her life unfavorably compared to a sack of potatoes.

** UPDATE: I've posted a subsequent entry about this matter here if you're interested.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


A good friend of mine from high school came to town to visit recently. We hung out for several nights of his visit; it was really quite nice to see him again. At some point over dinner I mentioned "my blog". Uh, oops.

"You have a blog? You have to give me the URL! I wanna read it!"

"Uh... no."


"Yeah... I don't want my friends reading my blog. Seriously."

Thankfully, I don't think he was hurt by my refusal to disclose the URL of this blog, because he's just that kind of guy. And I really don't think he's the kind of guy who will actually go out of his way looking for it now that I've told him I'd rather not have my friends reading it.

And thankfully, I just did a search on "Dennis blog" and, although my blogspot profile does appear on page 2, it's rather inconspicuous, and there's ample interference on page one to lead anyone to believe that this will be a needle in a haystack.

I just don't want to have to censor myself if I talk about my friends, you know?

Previous thoughts on this topic: Click here. Great, I'm so unoriginal, I'm even plagiarizing myself now.

Happy Belated Anniversary to Me!

I missed it.

My first blog entry ever was written on February 23, 2004. I forgot this anniversary date until just now, over two weeks later.

Happy anniversary to me.

Good thing I'm not in any kind of substantial relationship.

Wait, now that I think of it, I think my fourth anniversary of working for my current employer passed without notice this year too. Hey, we usually have some kind of lunch or cake or something for that!

Anyway, on the auspicious occasion of my first anniversary, I want to thank my regular readers (all, what, eight of you?) and a special shout-out to Randy -- even though he seems to have lazed off of his blogging of late, he's the guy who introduced me to this thing to begin with. And I would be all the more boring without this outlet. So thanks, Randy. When the hell are we going to grab that drink or dinner or whatever?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Still Shakin'

A surprisingly large number of people visit this blog as the result of a Google search for the lyrics to the unedited version of Kelis' "Milkshake" song. I don't know those lyrics. I don't even like the song all that much. And yet it's annoyingly catchy.

[Completely unrelated: It unnerves that anyone would actually run this search to begin with, let alone find my blog through it. Okay, I know there's a legitimate controversy, but the phrasing of that particular set of search terms skeeves me out.]

Eartha Kitt was in town this weekend. I had no idea she was still alive, let alone performing. Some friends wanted to go see it, but we missed the chance to buy tickets. Other friends actually went. As a result of hearing her name so much, I have a different song stuck in my head:

From the moment you walked in the joint
I could tell you were a man of distinction, a real big spender!
Good looking, so refined
Wouldn't you like to know what's going on in my mind?
So let me get right to the point:
I don't pop my cork for every guy I see.
Hey Big Spender!
Speeeeeend a little time with me.

The worst part about it is, I don't think Eartha Kitt is the actual artist who sings that song to begin with.

The Ten Commandments

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments on whether public displays of The Ten Commandments is constitutional. The situation has received enormous media attention of late, but I first caught wind of the widespread nature of the situation when Judge Ray Moore launched his now infamous fight to keep large stone monuments of the Commandments in his courthouse. A decent timeline of those events is contained here.

The Washington Post editorial on the recent Supreme Court arguments is here. And the Post's news article on the cases is here. (I like the Washington Post because their links basically never expire, unlike *cough* the New York Times.)

By now the arguments about separation of church and state are well discussed, so I won't touch upon them again. I do, however, have a few residual questions -- nonlegal ones -- about the whole discussion of the Ten-Commandments-on-Public-Property issue.

First, the question of whether the Commandments are really non-religious. Proponents of the Commandments try to tell their opponents that the Commandments are simply codifications of simple rules (like "thou shalt not kill") which all of us observe anyway. But here's what a lot of people overlook: The First Commandment (in all the versions I've seen, though I'm told there are differing versions of the Commandments) is "I am your God, your only God, and thou shall have no other God above me." Holy crap, dude. If this isn't an endorsement of one religion over any other, I don't know what is. This is clearly a religious document. And as such it has no place in a public position where it can be construed as indoctrination or endorsement.

By the way, there is some delicious crow-eating to the whole "it's actually a secular monument!" argument, especially when it has to be made by fundies. It's basically denying the importance of the Commandments in order to further the cause of proliferating their display. Isn't that basically turning your back on your religion just so that your religion can be advanced?

Second, another of the Commandments that I see is a prohibition against "graven images." I've generally understood this Commandment to be an indictment of ostentatious statues and representations of heathen gods, like Baal. Wouldn't a large monument of the Commandments constitute some form of a "graven image"?

Similarly, in C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, Lewis made reference to those Christians who elevate form above substance. In a series of letters among a set of underling fallen angels, we see devils laughing at humans who think their souls are saved when really they're not (according to Lewis's understanding of his religion). One of the letters had a demon laughing at one particular human, because although that human professed to pray every night before bed, she pretty much considered her God to be actually located in an upper corner of her bedroom. She was praying to a corner (complete with spiderwebs) instead of to an actual spiritual source. As such, Lewis argues, she wasn't actually a good Christian; she was just going through the motions and fooling herself at the same time. Because true faith in your religion needs no outside validation. Is this much different from ultra-right wing religious wingnuts who insist on erecting huge monuments of the Ten Commandments on public property? Are they elevating form above substance? Especially when "being a good Christian" means erecting these monuments but still supporting the death penalty (in contravention of the anti-killing Commandment), working on the Sabbath, or maybe even committing adultery.

Third, somewhere or another in the Bible -- I forget where -- doesn't Jesus condemn people who wear faith on their sleeve? Doesn't He say something comparing people who outwardly and gaudily profess their faith unfavorably to those who simply lead honest, good Christian lives, without the "I'm so much better than you because I go to church" air about them?

If I'm right, then isn't insisting on putting up ginormous displays of the Ten Commandments pretty contrary to those teachings of the Bible? If these people live their lives according to Christian teachings, why then do they feel the need to outwardly display their faith so much, shouting it to the world?

I personally find it ironic that when gay people hold hands or otherwise display affection for each other in public, far-right conservatives will recoil and scream about how gay people are so "in-your-face" with their sexuality. (Even though hand-holding and mild kissing is of the same caliber as heterosexual couples would engage in.) Even the more moderate conservatives profess to be "okay with what gays do behind closed doors" so long as they don't "flaunt" their sexuality in public. Yet large ostentatious displays of the Ten Commandments is acceptable to these people. Aren't large displays of your religious mandates "flaunting" your religion? I have no objection to Christians, but why do they have to flaunt their Christianity at me?

So yeah, I have an issue with the Ten Commandments. First Amendment considerations aside, I still have objections to the exercise of that religion where it serves to oppress others. It's not just Christianity. It's any religion that would impose their beliefs on anyone else.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Mi Viaje a España, Capítulo Dos: Madrid

Okay, so here's a quick rundown of my time in Madrid.

First, let me provide some (more) background to my trip. Although I love European travel, I've only ever been three times now: Paris, Rome, and now Madrid. Unlike Paris and Rome, at least in my personal experience, Madrid doesn't have the obvious tourist sites that major European capitals have. When you go to Paris, there's clearly touristy stuff the first-time tourist has to do: the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Cathedral at Notre Dame (among others). Same with Rome: the Vatican, its museums, St. Peter's basilica, the Trevi Fountain, the Collisseum. When thinking about Madrid, at least for me, no big landmarks spring to mind. So research is essential.

But Madrid is great after you read some books and figure out what you want to see.

And it doesn't hurt if you know people who know people who live in Madrid and speak English.

Day One. After spending the night with a cute boy (not in the way one would have hoped), I caught the next flight out, 24 hours late, to meet up with Elizabeth, who was there now a full day-and-a-half without me. Luckily, she had friends of friends who lived in Madrid, so she had people to hang out with. I got there and almost immediately set to work seeing the city. Elizabeth and I explored Plaza Mayor and the Puerta del Sol before meeting up with one of Elizabeth's friends. We then walked around the Jardin Real -- the Royal Gardens, kinda like New York's Central Park -- and eventually had tapas for lunch. It was pretty fun. The gardens were gorgeous, and just soaking up the city was a good exercise for me.

Later that afternoon, Elizabeth and I went to check out El Rastro, reputed to be a well-renowned flea market. Everyone says to go visit it and find some great deals on cool stuff. Elizabeth and I were, frankly, bored by it. There was nothing there worth purchasing, frankly. And it was crowded and not terribly fun. So we quickly gave up on it.

That night we went out to a party held at someone's house. Elizabeth and I were the only Americans there and thus the only people who were not fluent in Spanish. Thus, we spent most of the night standing off to the side feeling kind of antisocial. This is not a good thing for me where there's a party involving free flow of alcohol. I ended up upending a Jonnie Walker bottle repeatedly into my glass. Although it made for a loosened tongue -- I started talking to random people in my crappy-ass Spanish while they responded in their relatively decent English -- it did make for a messy evening. That's particularly bad when the hostel you're staying at doesn't provide toilets in every room, but down the hall. Yeah, I think you know what I'm getting at.

Day Two. Elizabeth's last full day, we took a day trip to Toledo, a city about an hour by bus from Madrid. It's a beautiful, cute little town which everyone says you have to visit. It's cute and quaint -- and the landscape is beautiful because it's on a hill -- but frankly, I didn't find it to be all that exciting. Perhaps that was because we got there relatively late on a Sunday, when a lot of stuff were closed in general, or closed during the siesta. So we wandered around, did some light shopping, ate quickly, then split.

That night, as it was Elizabeth's last night, we weren't so much up to going out and partying. Instead, we decided to take a walk around the city. (The city feels remarkably safe, so walking around at 11 pm wasn't such a big deal, even in parts of the city where the restaurants weren't so bustling.) Elizabeth decided she really wanted to find this bridge -- the Segovia bridge -- because one of her books dubbed it a great-looking bridge in need of a river. (I don't understand that, personally.) We didn't find it that night. But the walk was fun.

Day Three. After having breakfast with Elizabeth and seeing her to a cab to the airport, I walked around on my own. The weather was delightful. Madrid is a very walkable city; from the Puerta del Sol (literally the center of the city and of the country) you can walk almost everywhere. So with the weather outside as nice as it was, I decided to dedicate this day to be an outdoorsy day. (Besides, it was Monday, and most of the museums are closed on Monday.) I saw the outside of the Palacio Real, a lovely royal palace, but opted against going inside and checking out the museum in there. Instead, I walked over to the Jardin Sabatini (Sabatine Gardens) and took a few quick pictures there. Then I walked all around checking out other general sights. Boring and generic, I know, but hey.

That night, I tried my hand at the gay bars. First of all, there's a pretty lively gay scene in Madrid. The city never sleeps to begin with (many of the guides I read basically lists bar hours as "open 10 pm through 4 am" -- including weekdays), and gay bars for some reason don't start hopping until around midnight. (Don't these people ever work?) I spent a little time in one bar with a hideously overpriced nonalcoholic drink before someone actually hit on me. Flattered, I was chatting with him for about ten minutes before it became abundantly clear that he expected me to pay him for the pleasure of his company. I backed off of him real quick.

Day Four. I remember this day well. It rained most of the day, which made indoor visits ideal. I was shopping near my hostel for a man-bag (love those things!) when I started chatting up with the sales guy. At first it was about how the bags I was picking out were more for girls than for guys (I really didn't agree with him, but he still somehow managed to dissuade me from buying certain bags for that reason), but then we started to talking more personally because he was of Chinese extraction. We spoke a little Chinese to each other, then reverted back to Spanish, which both of us were better at. It's kind of surreal to me that on each of my three trips to Europe thus far, I've had the opportunity to break out the skills (again denying myself the temptation to use a "z" there) in several different languages. This kid, Stephane, grew up in Paris, where he graduated high school before his family moved to Madrid. So basically he really knew Spanish and French better than Chinese.

The coolest part about our conversation was that he told me about a (fairly belated) Chinese New Year Celebration going on at Plaza Mayor that very afternoon. I was pretty stoked about that. Seeing as I was a lazy ass who never made it to the Chinese New Year celebration right here in my own back yard, I made sure I attended this one in Madrid. Again, it feels surreal to me to be (I know I'm weird) to be in Spain surrounding by Chinese and Spanish speakers at once. Score still more for diversity. I'm all about that.

Anyway, it was on this day that it started to rain. Pretty hard. I called it an early night and hit the sack after dinner....

But not before I watched some tv in my room. First, I should comment that there are some fun-looking game shows in Madrid. I say "fun-LOOKING" because I couldn't understand what they were saying. But they looked kinda fun. (And it didn't hurt that one of the contestants was really hot.) One basically focused around the city and its subway system: "Where would I be if I needed to go from A to B?" Kinda fun. But my fave just in terms of excitement and gimmickiness (is that a word?) was "Pasapalabra" (something like "Pass on that Word" -- NOT "Password"). Basically, the key is to come up with a word starting with the right letter given a definition. Handy for those of us who don't really speak Spanish. Oh, and for those people who say I speak English really fast (and I do), man, I ain't got nothing on Spanish speakers. The number of syllables they utter in a second is insane!

Anyway, after the game shows -- I kid you not -- my hostel featured free porn. Porn! I think it was infomercial-type porn though, where you'd get interrupted every so often for things like "Text this message to 7777 for hot live girls!" There was even a running text "chat," where I think you could text messages in, and it would get displayed on a running screen, and you could keep running along with responses and everything. Did I mention there were variants of this on THREE DIFFERENT CHANNELS? So basically I saw more than enough lesbian porn on one station, followed by the nastiest woman doing things that made me want to hurl with a bunch of men (at the same time)... Anyway, I digress.

Day Five. My last full day in Madrid. I had made plans to take a second day trip into a city called San Lorenzo de El Escorial. It's another cute little town with cool old stuff to see.

I woke up on this day (remember, it had rained the day before) to find out that it snowed the night before, and was continuing to snow during the day. Snow. The most snowfall Madrid has seen in a single day since something like 1985. Niiiiice. I have no snow boots with me. This will be fun.

However, I decided to trudge throught it anyway, because, well heck, I could by new shoes if I had to. Made my way to a remarkably insane and not terribly well-laid out train station and, after some difficulty, found my way to buy a ticket (from a machine) and get to the right rail. Found myself opposite a very affable old man who was born in El Escorial and was visiting his family. Remarkably, our conversations in Spanish weren't completely retarded. He told me how to get to the monastery after I got off the train (catch a bus then walk from the bus terminal), and was quite nice.

The monastery itself (there are still monks in seclusion there) was gorgeous, probably because it doubled as the royal palace of King Phillip II back in the day. So the palace grounds were awesome, as were the state rooms and antechambers. The basilica literally took my breath away, just because I'm such a sucker for the awesome grandeur of a church even though I'm totally not religious. I snapped quite a few pictures then trudged back out into the snow.

Lunched in El Escorial (again, managed to survive without any English-speaking, although it did mean basically ordering stuff without knowing what it was and assuming that it would be palatable). Trained back to Madrid and spent the rest of the day just milling around the wet little town. Indoor activities were key, so of course this was the day I finally visited all the museums I had meant to see, like the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen. I even took in a bit of the Museo de la Reina Sofia. I was all museumed out by the time it was all over.

Day Six. Not really a full day in Madrid, but I caught the subway to the airport, and that's worth discussing real quick. Madrid has an awesome subway system. Similar to Paris's, but Madrid's is much more extensive. You can get anywhere! And they run well and fast. At one point, the train I was planning on getting on literally ejected all its passengers due to some malfunction. So the platform was filled with passengers from the train, plus those who had wanted to get on. Me with all my carryon shit for the plane, I was not going to shove myself on the next train. But I kid you not, the next train came by not more than a minute later, and suddenly the platform, so recently crowded, was no longer so crowded. The next train following was also less than two minutes in coming, so managed to get on without any problems at all. Oh, and the train that runs to the airport appears to be "dedicated," in that it has little luggage racks that the rest of the subways lines don't.

Anyway, there's much much more to say about my trip, but a lot of those boil down to "you had to be there" moments which would be insanely boring otherwise, so I'll spare you all the details. I do so love European travel. Now I just need an E.U. passport. I hear Spain is moving toward legalizing gay marriages. I need to find me a European sugar daddy....

PS: Because I'm lame and don't want to take the effort to post pictures on this site, I found this other website of a couple who went to Spain in 2002. In the summer. So the pics would look much better than mine. And, well, I look nothing like either of the pair that went. And I was only in Madrid, Toledo, and El Escorial. But still, you get to see some pics.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Oscar Followup

I've done a bit more reading since my last post about Asian-American representation in Hollywood. (Thanks to those who commented on that post.)

The following articles are also of interest with respect to Asians and their place in mainstream media/Hollywood:

"The Only Yellow at the Academy is Oscar" (AsianWeek.Com)
"Hollywood's 25 Worst APA Blunders" (AsianWeek.Com)
"Hollywood's Resolutions for 2005"

With a shoutout to Angry Asian Man for his continued great work in putting together a blog with developments along the Asian-American cultural divide.