Monday, September 29, 2008

Tipping in a Foreign Country: The U.S.

I ordered takeout from my favorite neighborhood restaurant tonight. As I stood next to cash register to receive and pay for my food, I noticed something going on before my eyes.

First, I noticed a family of four -- two kids and two adults -- get up and get ready to leave.

As the family started to leave (you know this sometimes takes some time), one of the waiters came to register with cash in his hand, presumably from someone having paid his bill. He kept counting through the bills (I counted maybe $70), as if somewhat distressed.

Eventually, another waiter says to the alpha male of the departing family, "Was everything okay? Did we do something wrong?"

Uh-oh, I thought.

"No, everything was fine," the guy responded.

"Well, I was just asking because you didn't leave any tip," the waiter continues.

Just for the record here, I don't really condone waiters doing this. Whether by oversight or by deliberate omission, sometimes people don't leave tips. I'm not a fan of waiters shaking down their patrons for their lack of tipping skills. It's rude and a bit tacky.

Anyway, the guy didn't understand what was meant by this. "Customarily," the waiter explained, "Diners add an extra 15% to for their waiters here."

"We're from New Zealand," the diner explained. But he didn't reach for his pocket, that's for sure.

"What's wrong?" his wife asked, coming back to the scene while the two kids lingered near the front of the restaurant.

"Nothing," the husband said, firmly.

I wasn't looking, but I'm reasonably confident that the waiter -- whose English skills weren't the best, by the way (I clarified his sentences for him in this entry) -- gave up explaining the concept and waved him off, probably dismissively, in a "whatever, just go already" kind of way.

Then they left.

I couldn't help thinking that any reasonable guide book published by any decent New Zealand company would have described the tipping etiquette in this country. And I couldn't help thinking that when Americans go abroad without bothering to learn the accepted social customs in the destination country, they get slammed with the "Ugly American" label pretty damn quick. Yet here it was, a Kiwi couple who apparently not only didn't bother to learn tipping etiquette for American restaurants, but they didn't even seem open to the thought of learning it when they were confronted with it.

It also led me to wonder how many other servicepeople they've stiffed so far, and how many they will stiff in the near future. I presume they're not cooking during their stay here, so each meal will likely entail a waitstaff who, it seems, are not getting tipped. If they're staying in a hotel, they probably won't leave a little something for the cleaning staff, whether it be on a daily basis or at the end of their entire stay. What if they catch a cab anywhere?

Of course, it's all just a part of the culture here. I couldn't help scripting out in my mind what kind of conversation I would have had with this couple had the opportunity for a civil discourse on the matter arisen. I suppose I would have explained to them the notion here in the States that, just as a matter of course, diners leave more money than covers their bill on the table. "It's a gratuity for the waitstaff and others who make your dining experience enjoyable," I'd say.

Then I can imagine them coming back: "But isn't that built into the price on the menu? They charge $12 for a meal when I could buy the ingredients for $5. That extra is what should be going towards the waitstaff and others 'who make the dining experience more enjoyable.'"

And to that, I suppose my only response would have to just be, "Well, that's what we do around here."

As it is, I know I already have one friend who doesn't tip cleaning people in hotels just on general principle. Like the theoretical Kiwi response above, his philosophy is that you don't pay over $100-200 per night to stay in a room then pay extra for something like cleaning service, which, ahem, is expected when you stay in a hotel. I just tip because it's customary anyway, but yes, sometimes I do wonder where all that money goes if they at those rates they still can't afford to pay their staff decent salaries or wages.

Anyway, it's a little refreshing -- though not in a good way, I guess -- to know that sometimes, the "Ugly American" myth is just as easily transportable to other foreigners visiting our soil.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Still alive....

Is anyone even still reading this?

I'm still here, just horribly delinquent at posting anything. I suddenly developed a worldview which effectively asked "Who the hell cares what I think?" Mine is but a small voice crying out in the darkness.

But now that I've probably alienated the two people who used to come here most (I made that number up; I have no idea how many people there actually are who come here), I feel like coming back once in a while (read: maybe two or three times a week).

Maybe. We'll see if I live up to this pledge.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

To the Death!

Okay, I really just had to vent. This isn't going to be a well-written post, but a totally anger-inspired rant.

Here's a clip from this morning's Meet the Press, with special guest star Harold Ickes, representing Hillary Clinton's campaign.



It's amazing how he can really just close his eyes and ignore the plain facts being thrown at him.

Let me paraphrase:

[1]
Russert: "Clinton herself said Michigan 'doesn't count.' Why are you saying it counts now?"
Ickes: "It just does. La la la la!"

[2]
Russert: "You voted against seating Michigan back when they decided to move their primaries up."
Ickes: "Well [after today] they're in, so they're in."
... but you didn't want them in when it wasn't clear that their votes would help Hillary so much.

[3]
Ickes: "We think the popular vote is a very very strong measure."
... but you have made clear that electorals are the important number.

[4]
Russert: "If on Wednesday morning, Barack Obama has enough committed delegates and superdelegates to put him over the top, will Hilary Clinton congratulate him?"
Ickes: "We will win the nomination."
Russert: "That wasn't the question."
Ickes: "That's the answer. We will win."

Number 4 particularly bugs the CRAP out of me.

Excuse me, I'm sorry, but how can anyone vote for a person as the Leader of the Free World who cannot make contingency plans for things not panning out the way she expects it?

This kind of dig-your-heels-in-the-ground mentality is what makes her more electable? We want a President who doesn't understand that things sometimes don't go perfectly according to plan?

It's hurting party unity. And it's hurting her. If she actually does win the nomination, I'm not sure I could vote for her. I want a democrat in the White House, I really really really do. But if the democratic party, through its superdelegates (because obviously the state delegates won't the ones to make the final decision now) decides to put her on the ticket, it will be committing political suicide. And it will only have itself to blame when people like me sit at home rather than vote that egomaniac into the White House.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Plus Side of Irrationality

I think everyone is somewhat programmed to be "rational," or to at least want to be. It's absolutely clear that many people simply aren't "rational" in their thought processes, but usually when you point it out, they acknowledge it and have to admit that they're not. I don't think anyone goes out of their way to try to be irrational when making their day to day decisions. Heck, the law even bases a good chunk of its caselaw on the assumption that people operate rationally, and substantial deviations from that rationality cast questions on the value of the case.

But I've recently come to think there may be some instances when I kinda wish I were just a little bit less rational, and more completely off my rocker. I shall explain.

Just about a year ago, I was dating this guy. (Let's call him Jack.) [As a refresher for those of you (both of you!) who are reading this on a semi-regular basis (which means I've been horribly neglectful of you for not posting in ages), I pretty much stopped calling him as a chicken-shit way of calling an end to the relationship.) Anyway, point being, while not the best way of getting there, it was a pretty clean break -- I've probably only bumped into him twice since I weaseled out of it.

Jack had met most of my friends during the time we were together, and they all got along well. One of my best friends (let's call him Rick) still thinks Jack was great for me and why did I ever break up with him? I won't lay them out here, but I have my reasons, and trust me, they are very legitimate reasons.

So after I told all my friends I was no longer seeing Jack, the usual sympathies were exchanged, etc. But I do remember being of the resolve that I couldn't tell anyone not to call Jack anymore. I figured it just wouldn't be right to tell my friends who they could and could not talk to. So, I refused to make a blanket proclamation that Jack was now off limits to my friends. If they wanted to contact him, they could, and I would be fine with it.

And, honestly and truly, I am.

The other night, Rick went out with a few other friends; I was tired and broke so I stayed home. The night rolled along, and, apparently, Jack rolled into the bar. Our other friends having already well exceeded the point of non-sobriety, Rick ended up talking to Jack. According to Rick, they chatted for a good part of the night, and they even changed venue at one point ("I'm heading to this other bar; you want to come?" "Sure!").

And really, I'm okay with it.

But a part of me wishes that I wasn't.

A part of me wishes that I was angry at Rick. A part of me wishes that I felt that, if Rick were a true friend, he'd shun the company of an ex. A part of me wants to feel that combination of jealousy and anger, of betrayal and shame, that comes from having your best friend consorting with your ex.

But I don't feel anything like that at all.

I suppose it's healthy that I don't. But what does that say? All I can come up with is that my not feeling anything means I was never really in love. This is a fact that I will readily admit. I know I didn't really love the guy, and that for much of our time together I could barely tolerate him.

But the fact that I didn't love him only reminds me that I don't think I've ever loved anyone. I've never so freely given of myself that I even ran the risk of being hurt were it to end.

The guy I was seeing before Jack dumped me after six months. He looked like he was going to cry as he did it. I never cried once over the breakup.

So a part of me wishes that I did feel some irrationality. A part of me wishes that I did feel hurt that Rick would feel perfectly fine in hanging out with Jack. Because that would show me that I am, in fact, human, and that I am, in fact, capable of loving someone.

But maybe I'm not. And maybe that's why I should be mourning. Perhaps I should be mourning this as proof that I will never find love because I am completely incapable of it.

Even Cylons have love. I don't.

And dammit, now I have Rick Springfield stuck in my head:


You better love somebody
It's late
You better love somebody
Don't wait
You better love somebody
Don't tempt fate
You're gonna pull it just a little too far one night.


(Okay that last couplet makes no sense in this post, but the rhythm gets messed up if you don't quote the whole chorus.)

So I'm incapable of love.

Strangely... I think I'm okay with that.

Random TV Thoughts

Possible spoiler alerts. Do not read on if you've got a backlog of Tivo'd shows you don't want to hear about. Though odds are, I'm not watching anything you are, because my taste in television shows is horrific.

-- The bachelor guy on "Farmer Wants a Wife" is really, really hot. And sweet. I didn't want to get into this show, but DAMN. Then again, I'm not really INTO this show because I fast forward past all the stupid bimbo scenes and concentrate on the guy, and his beautiful eyes, and his winning smile, and his hot bod.

-- I really do hope that Horatio Kaine really is actually dead. David Caruso can't act for squat to begin with, and his character was so far rogue that he really needed to be disposed of.

-- I just started getting into "Robin Hood" on BCCA too. Kinda neat.

-- I'm kinda over both "Two and a Half Men" and "Family Guy." I DVR them, but they're on soooo often, I'm tired of them. And the fact that they're on so often means I'm already into repeats.

-- As much as I love "Gilmore Girls," the fact that it's cycled back to the pilot episode reminds me of how much I hated the first few seasons. Why Rory ever became friends with Paris given what a frigging beyotch Paris was from the instant they met is beyond me; why they remained friends over the years boggles my mind.

-- As much as I love the CSI shows (including NCIS), I always wonder how it is that every single crime scene ever is immaculate before the time of the crime. These guys find one stray hair and it belongs to the killer. I can't imagine that anyone's house is so neat that it has absolutely no stray hairs or other DNA evidence that isn't easily explainable.

-- "Doctor Who" is awesome, but why is the SciFi channel actually ahead of BBCA? One would think that, of all channels to be current on "Doctor Who," it would be BBCA, not SciFi. Also, much as I love David Tennant, I'm getting kind of tired of his whole talking-through-gritted-teeth thing.

I need a life.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Justice Scalia Begs the Question

Today, the Supreme Court upheld portions of the Child Pornography Protection Act.

I haven't read the case so I won't go into detail about it, nor do I have any opinions on it (yet). Basically, from what I can tell from the NY Times, the law prohibits people from offering photos of children in pornographic photos. Even if the photos are fake, or nonexistent. You could offer to send someone kiddie porn and not actually have kiddie porn. But you could be convicted for it.

Here's the rub for me: the following line from the article.

"Offers to engage in illegal transactions are categorically excluded from First Amendment protection," Justice Scalia wrote.


I find this logic circular. The First Amendment doesn't protect illegal speech, he says. So all Congress has to do to escape the reach of the First Amendment is to criminalize the speech.

Okay, that's a little simplistic. It's one level removed. Congress can criminalize any behavior it wants (within constitutional constraints), but talking about committing the crime is not protected by the First Amendment.

But what if, as here, the speech is intertwined with the purported crime? The crime, from what I can tell, includes offering to distribute or share child pornography. Doesn't that mean the speech is the crime? As so, how can you categorically remove that from First Amendment analysis?

Am I missing something here?

Weight Loss Issues

I've had body image issues for as long as I can remember in my adult life. It's awful when I look at my pictures from junior high and realize how thin I look -- yet I can remember that, at the time, I fancied myself terribly fat.

I've only gotten bigger since.

Tonight I watched this BBCA show called "Super Skinny Me," which is a documentary type show where they took two female reporters and put them into the field of trying to lose weight. Mind you, these girls are not huge by any stretch to begin with, but they're both, for the sake of this show, trying various diets, routines, etc. to lose further weight.

One woman is truly going over the edge. She's trying way too hard: effectively starving herself, going on crazy diets, working out excessively, etc. And she's loving her results. She just asked a personal trainer down to absolutely no body fat. The trainer told her that he couldn't, because if she went down to zero body fat, she'd be dead. Her response: "Well then just this close to dead?"

The other woman, thankfully, has a decent head on her shoulders, and she's realizing that she's not enjoying losing all this weight. She misses her "womanly curves" and her boyfriend doesn't like snuggling with her and feeling her ribcage. She met an actual anorexic chick and realizes that she can't see herself thinking that Nicole Ritchie is actually healthy.

I watched this show because I thought it would be interesting to see these perspectives on these women's relationships with food. And I was hoping that it would present a picture of how awful body image issues are and how unhealthy it can be to monitor your food intake so zealously.

But then as I watch this show, it hasn't really done a good job in painting eating disorders as bad things. Hell, seeing this chick go through what she's doing, even though she is kinda miserable, I kinda find myself thinking that the watercress diet seems kinda doable for a week or so.

Because I'm fucking crazy. And I do want to lose weight.

Meantime, I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies tonight to take with me to the office. They taste all right.

Because I'm fucking crazy. And I just love food. I mean, really.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Panic! You Can't Scream Out

I found myself at DAR Constitution Hall last night. To see Panic at the Disco on the Honda Civic Tour.

I confess, I like them. I like the sound of their first album and I find their antics innovative and creative. I didn't like their second album all that much when I first heard it, but it's been growing on me.

What I did not realize to save my life (and really, I should have researched this) was that Panic has a rather sizable fan base that consists of prepubescent little girls. And it didn't help that the opening acts -- Motion City Soundtrack and The Hush Sound -- also appear to be popular among the pre-teen set. Oh yeah, and Phantom Planet. In case you don't know (I didn't), they sing the theme song to "The OC." Yeah. Pre-teen. (Okay, okay, dammit, I admit it, I liked Phantom Planet and just added them to my myspace friends. Grrrr.)

Okay, my characterization of the girls just not fair. They're probably not prepubescent. But they are, I'd guess, around 15. I would hazard a guess that they probably could, in fact, get pregnant if they tried hard enough. Okay, to be fair, there were some boys too, but they we of the Y chromosomes were severely outnumbered. I mean really.

Some were their with their parents. Many, I'd hazard to guess, were not. My only comment on this is: when I was their age, no one was shelling out the cash to let me go to concerts. Let alone spend the hundreds of dollars it likely cost to get the t-shirts and other memorabilia. Let's not forget that pretty much each of these girls had cell phones (and not the cheap kind, we're talking phones with slide-out full keyboards and 5.2MP digicams in them). And digital cameras with which they were either photographing or video-recording large parts of the concert. I have a full-time job and I can barely afford that shit for myself.

Have you ever been in an auditorium filled with prepubescent girls while one of their favorite bands is on stage? I swear I could feel my ears tingling to the high-pitched screams these girls let out. To the extent that one can "feel" sound, I did. My ears were this close to bleeding. My right one still hurts today. I've spent an inordinate amount of time today saying "What? What??"

A few observations, if I may (and since this is my blog, I give myself license):

-- It must be really really weird to be a 13-year-old girl standing next to her dad (who was actually quite DILF-y) when the band sings the following lyrics: "I've got more wit, a better kiss, a hotter touch, a better fuck / Than any boy you'll ever meet, sweetie you had me." That song actually starts with lyrics involving slipping off your dress. I dunno, I guess that's a Family Talk moment in the making.

-- I think it may be a little irresponsible for a band, knowing mode age of its audience, to ask how many of them are single, and to follow that up with, "because I'm sure Brandon wants to take someone back to his hotel tonight." Because frankly, I'm sure a lot of those squealing pre-teens would jump at that opportunity, irresponsible though it is.

-- I also think it's a little irresponsible, when your lead singer comes out for an encore sans the rest of the band, to announce that the rest of the band is occupied in the back stage, "probably doing Jaeger bombs or something." Seriously, folks, can we at least try not to glamorize drinking totally-fuck-you-up drinks to kids who have almost a decade before they can legally drink it?

-- I find it humorous that the Honda Civic Tour touts its environmental consciousness and the fact that it donated a portion of its ticket sales to environmental causes... while all these little girls ran around carrying their souvenir paraphernalia in plastic bags.

Side note: When going to a musical event, do not take as your date someone with no rhythm whatsoever. Especially if he doesn't seem to notice this fact. When the band says to clap with them, it's not that hard... but for some, it is.


But anyway, I still should say that yes, I did enjoy the show immensely. Although I had reservations given how down-tempo their second album as a whole was, they amped it up for the show and it was a really great time. But all I can say is that if Fall Out Boy makes their way out here, I will go to their show armed with earplugs, accusations of geriatric state be damned!

Friday, April 11, 2008

How To Be Hetero.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, How can this self-professed gay guy even think of trying to write a blog entry called "How To Be Hetero"?

Well, here it is.

Okay, I'll have to admit that really this isn't some sort of super-detailed primer on the subject or anything. It's really more of a story of what's been happening to me today.

So I've been at a work conference all day today. Except that I haven't actually been attending the conference. Instead, I've been outside at the registration desk for a good part of the day, watching people come and go ("speaking of Michaelangelo"), helping latecomers and stuff. No biggie.

We have vendors who paid us to let them occupy space at our conference. Decent, hardworking folk who are here to hawk their wares to us lawyers. I have to respect them for that.

This one guy is a little over-aggressive, in my humble opinion. While everyone else is inside, he has been accosting me with questions about the people: "Hey, do you know who this guy is? I've check out his site and want to talk to him." and "This guy had an appointment with me and kinda blew me off. Can you point him out when he comes back out?" I try to be pleasant but noncommittal.

But then, let's face it, the day gets boring sitting around doing nothing. So this guy has started talking to me about stuff that had nothing whatsoever to do with work. He started by discussing his personal life, and asking me about mine.

Hooooo boy.

It started off simply enough. He asked me where in the city I lived, what I thought of certain areas, where I like to go out...

And "where I like to go out" is probably where it all started tanking. Not knowing this guy, I was reluctant to identify any of the bars I tend to frequent, because most of them have big ol' gay flags hanging outside of them. "Around," I told him. Because I live close to the hotel where the conference, I pointed the alarming lack of places to hang out in my neighborhood. (That's actually not quite true, but oh well.) I told him that I walk to Dupont or to Gallery Place sometimes. He told me he likes to hang out at Bar Louie, in the Verizon Center. (Mental note: avoid that place.)

There's a pregnant woman working at the booth about 20 feet away from me. She's got a nice face and is, well, noticeably pregnant. What this means is that she also has a swelled bosom. Let's just say the size of this woman's breasts has not escaped this guy's attention. And let's just say, for the sake of politeness, that he jokingly suggested an illegal course of conduct involving her and some pharmaceuticals.

"Dude, that's not right," I tell him.

"Kidding, man, kidding," he tells me. Sadly, he has that smile that grants him a certain air, a certain charisma, that I'm sure has gotten him out of many a jam in past lives. I have to remind myself that he's being a total ass.

He has just shared with me one of his best secrets to picking up girls: he tells them he can speak some Vietnamese. "Chicks love that," he tells me. (He apparently finds "chicks" to be his mot juste for the opposite sex.)

"You do not speak Vietnamese," I challenge him.

"Sure I do," he tells me, and, to my surprise, he busts out with some actual phrases. Now I don't speak Vietnamese so I can't tell, but at least he has some syllables down adequately. I tell him I'm impressed.

"I guess since you're an Asian guy it wouldn't impress the chicks as much from you," he opines. "It sounds cooler when a white guy can speak an Asian language."

I have to give him some points for that. Just some. Not many.

"Big plans this weekend?" he asks me.

"Eh, I'm going to a movie tonight," I tell him. He asks me what movie, and I tell him: Prom Night. I have to explain to him that it's a slasher flick about a serial murderer as he doesn't seem to have seen any of the hype surrounding it.

"Are you going with your girlfriend?" he asks me.

"..." I say. Seriously, my mouth opened, and I started to speak, but I couldn't pick the words to come out of my mouth. Do I come out? Do I lie? Do I tell the truth (that I'm going with a gay male friend of mine)?

I think he senses my hesitation, but he interprets it all wrong. "Well," he interrupts my floundering, "at least you're taking a chick, right?" I swear he's about to give me that sideways smile-wink-double-point triple threat of treacly charm.

"..." I continue, but he beats me to the punch: "Because going to those kinds of movies with chicks is the best, man. 'Oh, I'm scared, I don't want to go home now!,' she'll say. Or, 'That was so scary, can we go back to your place?' You know what I mean."

Indeed. I knew this theory back in high school. And I wasn't even sexually active then. With either sex.

"I'm just going with a friend of mine," I tell him.

A part of me would not be terribly surprised if he would just come out and ask me point blank if I'm planning on "nailing her." Thankfully, he doesn't do that.

"That's cool, that's cool," he says.

And I let the hallway lapse back into a tersely enforced silence.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Unwitting Time Machine



I was in the middle of a teensy bit of cleaning tonight when I stumbled across an old wallet that I had replaced ages ago. So old was it, in fact, that it contained a "HRC Member" card for the year 1999. Why this wallet has remained on my shelf for this long, I don't know. I chucked it (the wallet, and the HRC membership card).



Also found in the wallet: My old Social Security Card. I had thought I lost it years ago, and thus had it replaced already. Guess what's heading straight for the shredder. Back then I thought it was a good idea to carry the good ol' Social Security card around. Since then I've learned that it's not a great idea.



Also: A tip guide. (That is, how much is 10%? 15%? 20%? How much do you tip a hairdresser? etc.) Not that I need it anymore.



And: Several ATM receipts from Riggs Bank ATMs. This was back when I used to actually reconcile my bank statements with my withdrawal receipts and checks. And when I actually banked at Riggs. (I closed out my account when they were implicated in that big Middle East money laundering scheme. Then they got bought out by Provident or some such.)




And: An old fake ID from my college days. It's tucked away in a compartment that's not meant to hold anything -- it's behind the credit card slots (nice hiding place, don't you know). When I was 19, it reported that I was 25. It was a really really bad ID. Literally, it was taken with me standing right in front of a very large poster board made to resemble a Michigan license. If you look really closely you can see my shoulder extends past the photo area onto the other fields of the card.


(I decline to post a photo of the actual Michigan ID in all its horrificness.)


Funny story about the fake ID, involving my Asshole Uncle (whom I will refer to as "AU"). One summer on my way home from college, my AU insisted that I spend a few days with him in California. I don't know why he insisted, seeing as I had always hated him growing up anyway. But my mom thought it would be a good idea, so I caved and figured I'd endure it for a few days. Besides, I shuttled between him and his wife (on one hand) and another aunt-and-uncle pair whom I liked better.

So on the third morning I'm sitting there at breakfast and AU says to me, "When were you in Michigan?" (He attended the University of Michigan, so I suppose he had some degree of affinity for the state.) "Wha?" I say. He then tells me that he's seen my Michigan driver's license, and when was I in Michigan? Remember now, that license was not only in my wallet, but in a "secret" compartment in my wallet. The SOB was freaking nosing around my wallet!

I tried to call him on nosing around my stuff, but he kept brushing it all off as if he just "happened" to see it. I knew damn well that it wasn't possible to "accidentally" see my fake ID, but I couldn't very well call him on it since he didn't seem to notice that it listed me as being 25 years old. So I also hemmed and hawed about having taken a road trip to Michigan (where I got a driver's license? My uncle isn't the brightest bulb) and just let it go. But I fumed about it for weeks after.

The worst part about that story is that I couldn't then go complain to my parents about AU clearly and thoroughly invading my privacy, since that would involve admitting to the 'rents that I had a fake ID to begin with. So I got to experience the wonderful frustration of stewing in my anger with no outlet at all. And I swore never to talk to AU again.

Anyway, that was a huge digression.

Also in my old wallet: a 3x5 index card, with a locker combination stuck to it. I have no idea what lock that combination opens anymore.




On the other half of the 3x5 are taped 2 quarters and 2 old-school Metrobus tokens. It scares me to think that 2 quarters was part of my "emergency" money. I think they were meant for use on a pay phone in the event of an emergency. (I acquired my first cell phone in 1999.) The bus tokens were, of course, a way for me to get home if I needed to ... on public transport.

And finally: two twenty dollar bills. Score! One of them is a 1996 vintage. Do they even still accept that bill anymore? Damn, it's old. But it's forty more dollars than I had a day ago, so go me!



I'm using them to buy lottery tickets.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Another Swift Kick in the Back.

A while back, I blogged about the single life. In a nutshell, I talked about how I had come to accept my status as a single guy, and that actually finding someone to date and settle down with had actually become low on my priority list. I enjoy my life, with or without someone "special" to share it with.

Later on, I blogged again about the topic, occasioned by a good friend's wedding. In that post, I scoffed at the notion that I -- or really anyone, for that matter -- needed a second person to complement us, to pick us up when we fall, to prop us up when we lack the strength to stand.

I recently had occasion to re-examine my thoughts on these.

And I've reached a slightly modified conclusion.

First, don't get me wrong: I am still single, I still enjoy being single, and I am by no means desperate to find someone to relieve me of my singledom. I still cling fast to the "if it happens, it happens" mantra and refuse to approach life as a one-track minded quest for personal partnership.

Nonetheless, my recent trip home, and my mother's exhortations (spoken truly from the heart) have managed to really pierce me hard-headed mindset.

I went back home for a week recently to be with my family because my mother had been experiencing significant pain in her back for the better part of a year. Finally, she went in for surgery to help her relieve the pain. Back surgery for a woman of my mother's age can be a big deal, and recovery an even bigger deal, so I returned home to spend some time with her. Not that I could really help much (I wasn't lifting her out of bed or anything), but I think my just being there made her happier and thus helped just a little bit in her recovery.

She was in the hospital for a few days after I arrived, first with a morphine drip, then with heavy doses of oxycontin and percoset. (I was tempted to steal a pill or two, but thought better of it.) Walking around was quite difficult for her, even with a walker. Her physical therapy treatments involved ensuring that she walked whenever she could, including the part about getting in and out of bed by herself. If you had to watch her do this, I assure you, it was no easy feat for her.

By the time she got home, she had markedly improved, but she still experienced some pain when moving around, and it's clear that she won't be running marathons anytime soon. But another part about my visit home was just to be at home during the day for those first few days in case she needed me.

One afternoon, as I was preparing some lunch for her while she sat on a stiff-backed chair in the living room, she said to me with all seriousness: "You really still don't have a girlfriend? Really, you need to find someone and settle down. If you should ever wind up like me, who's going to help you? You need to have someone around to help you in times like these."

(In case you're late to this blog, be advised that I have not come out to my parents, who still hold out the hope that one day I will meet a nice girl, get married, and have children. My poor, poor parents....)

Normally I pay little heed to what my mother says. But having seen her all week, struggling through such simple tasks as getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom, I realized she wasn't 100% wrong. What would happen to me if I were to suffer some kind of misfortune?

Spouses or other significant others kind of, by default, are expected to take care of you when you're sick, or when you're recovering from a major surgery. What happens when you don't have one? I'm not the kind of guy who feels comfortable burdening his friends. In fact, the last time I had any surgery at all, I felt bad begging friends to come over and just help me. An excerpt from a 2004 entry:

But the panic attack really started to hit me when I realized that I would be completely unable to feed myself if I got hungry and Tracy wasn't around. How would I be able to find something in the fridge? How would I prepare it? Suddenly, even something as mundane as a peanut butter sandwich, or a frozen pizza, or even a friggin' frozen tv dinner, would become a tremendous effort, involving lots of navigation that I would have taken for granted on any other occasion.

I think not being able to care for myself has quickly become my greatest phobia in life.


So what's a single guy to do? I have no answers, only generalized anxieties.

PS: Leave it to me to take a life event like my mother's back surgery and turn it into a "me" moment. In case you're interested, my mom was doing fine by the time I left; her pain had started to subside and she was able to scale back on her pain meds. She still needs a walker to move around, and probably will still need it for a few months, but she seems okay. And my sister-in-law took her to her follow-up appointment and reported that all seems decent.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Outta Here.

I am taking an unscheduled break from my Washington life.

I'll be heading home this morning for about a week.

Nothing more need be said about the matter.

Back soon!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Family Programming

One recent morning as I got ready for work I turned on the television and found it in the middle of the movie 300. Not having enough time to sit down and watch it, I hit the "record" button on my DVR and went about my way, anxious to watch it later. I certain didn't want to pass up what I'd heard was a movie laced with barely dressed men sporting six-pack abs in various homoerotic fight scenes.



This evening I finally got around to watching the film. So I fired up the DVR menu, scrolled over the "300" and asked it to "Play from beginning."

As sometimes happened, the machine caught the tail end of the show before.

As the closing credits of the movie before ran, my ears were accosted by the sound of "Somewhere Out There."

Yes, 300 -- rated "R" and carrying warnings of "graphic violence, nudity, adult content, and adult language" -- was being run immediately after An American Tail, starring this little guy:



Fivel's a good segue into blood and homoerotic violence, is he not? I note that 300 contained a scene wherein a good number of people were violently tossed into a deep chasm within 10 minutes of the beginning of the movie; an almost-naked woman dances around within 15 minutes from the start; and a rather steamy sex scene (with prominently featured female breasts) takes place within 25 minutes. (All times approximate; after all, my DVR recorded started early.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Stalking

I can't help thinking that CBS is going to have a major lawsuit on its hands stemming from this season's Big Brother.

Seriously, Natalie is a complete psycho-chick stalker, and eventually, she will hunt down and kill Matt, whether it's in the Big Brother house or not. Or at least she'll try to.

Matt's a total player -- hello, he even made out with one of the other chicks (I forget if it was Chelsia or Sharon) just to get a tactical advantage -- but usually that can be written off as part of the game. You can never be sure that anyone in that house is being genuine, whether it's emotions, or alliances or whatnot.




But Natalie, however, has convinced herself that Matty loves her. When he's not near her, she goes looking for him. He tries his hardest to push her away, and she keeps coming back like some puppy dog. He's rude to her and her best response is, "No, I know he still loves me and wants to be with me and wants to sleep in the bed with me."


"Matty why won't you get in the bath with me? Come o-o-o-o-on..."

The kicker for me: when she found out that Matt made out with another girl, it did not immediately shatter her "he loves me" image. It upset her, sure, but in the end, she was "torn." Seriously, she was "torn" the same way a new bride would be if she found out her husband had cheated on her during their three-year engagement. And Natalie's only known Matt for under two months.

I would think that a reasonable person would, after less than two months together and in the face of clear signs that he doesn't want to be with you, take the making out with someone else as firm evidence that he's not as infatuated with you as you thought.

Natalie is not a reasonable person.



Oh, and I cannot be the only one who thinks that, at any moment, she's going to break the tension in the house by calling out "You know what this room needs? THE PERFECT CHEER!" I mean, seriously. She's a spitting image. But then at least Cheri Oteri was funny.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Dear Lady Who Just Left My Office Building As I Was Walking In:

I know you saw me through the glass door. That's not a huge challenge.

I know you could tell I was coming into the building. That's not a huge challenge either.

Perhaps you don't realize that I saw you, too. One of the principles of glass doors is that usually, if you can see me, I can see you.

So I saw you walking up to the door -- yes, the same door I was approaching, from the opposite side -- and I saw that your arm was half way up, getting ready to push the door open.

Then I saw you actually put your arm down when you saw me on the other side of the door.

Uh, hello?

Are you little miss primadonna princess that you can't push the freaking door open yourself? Just because I'm approaching the same door doesn't mean you can't also push the door open too.

If you ever do that to me again, I'm going to open the door, all right... and then I'm just going to walk on through it and let it close behind me.

Just giving you a heads-up.

Smooches,
Dennis!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No Longer Subtle

I used to be really good at subtlety when it came to checking out random hot guys. I have mastered taking cell phone shots with the intended target wholly unawares. I have stared down fetching young fellows as they walk by me on the street, in the Metro, at bars. Usually they don't notice because, well, they probably don't want to, but hey, I have fun.

I seem to have lost that subtlety in recent days.

Never mind that, a few days ago, I was at a (straight) bar with some friends of mine and thought I could be all slick by taking photos of guys (with a freaking flash camera -- with red-eye reduction) without them knowing. (Shocker: they figured it out. I'm going to blame the Smithwick's.)

I offered to give away some items from my home recently and some internet stranger offered to come get it some of them. Great, I thought, I get to de-clutter.

The guy showed up at my office building as I asked and called me from downstairs, where I was to go meet him with a bag of my stuff. When I got to the front of my building, I saw him.

He was on a bicycle. Wearing a unitard bike outfit. You know the kind I'm talking about.



Okay, this guys was fully covered up, none of this spaghetti-strap stuff (though it might have been nice...). But when one thinks of bike shorts, really, one's mind can tend to drift toward other things, like wrestling singlets




and spandex




and even superheroes



but in the end, it all really just boils down to one thing: those outfits can leave very little to the imagination. One time I was sitting at a Starbucks, in the window seat, minding my business when a guy wearing a blue bike outfit walked down the street (where was his bike? I have no clue) and I swear not only I could I tell his religion, but I could get an appreciation for his manscape.

So back to this guy picking up some free stuff from me... try as I might, I was having a hard time struggling not to check out this guy's junk. I mean, really, it was just there, begging to be scrutinized. Not too shabby. I know it was horribly rude, but really now, when you wear that, you're kinda just asking for that kind of attention, aren't you? Especially if you're thin and fit, as this guy was.

Words cannot express how extremely happy I was that this guy was able to pick the stuff up from me during the work day, because if I had to arrange for him to come by my home to get it, there's no telling what I'd be tempted to do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Meow.

My avatar notwithstanding, I'm not a huge fan of cats. A woman in my office absolutely loves hers; whenever she mentions him, I provide a Maynard-G.-Krebs-like response* of "evil." I mean, they can be cute and all, but in terms of personality, I'm truly a dog guy.

But just to butter up you cat lovers who may happen to be reading this, I bring you this video just for you before I get to the meat of this post:



Okay, there.

Aight, so a trailer park community in Chantilly has decided that they're going to round up some 200 (feral, I gather) cats and euthanize them because, well, they're being general pests. Obviously at least one cat-hugger is "sick, sick" over the idea, but I don't care either way, really (which doesn't stop me from mocking the cat-hugger -- I mean, really, those things are evil and ungrateful and you feed them? Geez Louise).

Here's the WaPo article about this situation.

And here's the funny/stupid thing about the article:

By law, the trapped cats must be taken to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, animal control officers said.

***

[Fairfax County Animal Shelter spokeswoman Michelle] Hankins said today that the shelter had not been notified of the management company's plans to begin trapping the cats. The shelter was already running near capacity and not equipped to handle 200 animals, she said.

"Our hope is that the cats aren't brought to us," she said.


I read those two propositions together and my first thought was, "Where else can they go, if by law they have to go to your shelter?" I was thinking just how retarded she was, and did she even know the law which the Post just referenced?

Then I realized what she probably meant was that she hopes the roundup efforts won't take place at all. (I would still call it a combination of unfortunate phrasing and poor juxtaposition of the two propositions, though.)

Then I couldn't help thinking, "How hard could it be to just throw the things into a chamber as you get them?" But that probably sounds even more nasty than necessary, and while I retract that question, I've decided not to actually back up and delete it.

Yeah, just not a cat guy.


* If you know what I'm talking about, two snaps, I'm impressed. If you don't, Maynard was played by Bob Denver (yes, Gilligan) who had a knee-jerk, autonomic reaction every time someone said the word "work" around him. He didn't like the idea.





Wow, Gilligan was kinda cute. In a Shaggy (sans Scooby Doo) sorta way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Idiocracy, Continued

Remember this post? Well apparently she's back for more.

She emailed me again today to ask me to please change her email address in the system. Never mind that you can do that yourself once you've logged in.

So rather than give a woman a fish, I decided to teach her how to fish, and told her to just log in herself and change the email herself. Guess what? No dice.

She asked me to send her her password again. Never mind that just a few days ago, she had asked me to retrieve it previously.

Now, to give just a tiny bit of credit, she was probably have a wee bit of trouble because the only way to retrieve your password is if you let the system email it to you, and she was changing her email address because it had been disconnected. But still: don't you write things down?

Eventually I gave up and changed her frigging email address for her. But I did tell her that if she was changing her address because she lost her freaking job, she should change the rest of the information in there accordingly.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Badass Moron

There's usually no shortage of "interesting" people on the Metro. True, in DC, we have far more than our fair share of stuffed-shirt bureaucratic professional types, but we've also got a pretty persistent undercurrent of countercultural types. Kinda like Greenwich Village wannabe types. Not many, of course, but almost by definition those people don't give a damn what others think, so they can stand out.

Tonight a young man boarded the Metro with what appeared to be a wallet or business card type case dangling from his mouth. It's hard to describe. It looked kind of like this, but the kind with a key ring attached to it too:



Now as I said, this thing was dangling from his mouth. Upon first glance, I thought he had placed a key on the key ring portion of the wallet and simply put the key in his mouth. (Why would one do that? I have no idea... but then I suppose that's what made him him and not me.)

Watching him as we made our way along the tracks, though, I realized my initial conclusion was incorrect. He was not sucking on a key, or on anything that was attached to the end of that wallet thingee.

The wallet thingee was attached to his face as a eyebrow ring would be: he had pierced the lower part of his mouth and placed something through it; through that ring he hung a wallet.

Keep in mind, I'm not talking about a pierced lip. I'm talking about a portion of the skin just beneath the lip. Someplace where beards usually form.

And I thought how comically stupid he looked.

First, as I said, this thing was dangling on the edge of his face. Did he really think this looked cool?

Second, it was attached to his face. Attached. What the hell purpose does that serve? Is there an ID in there? Money? Business cards? He has to reach up to his face to retrieve any of those items. How bizarre is that?

Third, I presume the look is meant to project a badass attitude. "Yeah, I'm not, I've got a facial piercing that's not my ear and there's a big-ass thing hanging from it. I'm noncomformist and that makes me all badass." Thing is, I'm pretty certain that area of the skin isn't that tough. So if Mr. Badass with a Wallet Swinging From His Face were to actually get into anyone's face, I imagine it wouldn't be all that difficult to yank the damn wallet off. Then while he's howling in pain from a huge missing chunk of skin, you could do all kinds of things like kick him in the stomach and/or balls and/or shin, or maybe just run.

There's making a statement, and ... there's idiocy.

Lexicography

I've decided to work some new phrases into semi-regular rotation during my many conversations with random people. Feel free to join the fun.


1. "I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"



I'm not exactly sure in what context I'd actually use this phrase, but I intend to use it nonetheless. Apparently all kinds of other people are already doing it, which puts me behind the curve.

Also, in gay circles, it invites a segue into bringing the boys to the yard, which can into a wonderful pick-up line.

Or not.


2. "What the French, toast?" and "Who are you calling a Cootie Queen, you Lint Licker?" (accent required).

(Bonus two-fer!)



That's some funny stuff right there, yo.

The first one is ready-for-prime-time with immediate usage irrespective of precise context. I suppose someone would have to use the phrase "Cootie Queen" before pulling out the second phrase... or not. I think maybe it would be even more fun to just pull it out of nowhere.


3. Scully-rific.

I'm making this one up myself. To the extent that it's even possible, I used to have a mad crush on Scully from The X-Files, whom I found hot and sexy and smart all at the same time.



(Unfortunately, House of Mirth did not leave me with the same love for Gillian Anderson.)

4. Craptastic.



I don't know where I read this first, but it's the funniest word ever (for now) and I'm going to put it into heavy rotation. Kinda like "ghetto fabulous," it's inherently contradictory and yet everyone who hears it knows precisely what it describes.

And it doesn't even necessarily have to do with bowel movements, contrary to what the photo above would suggest.


5. Anything from Heathers.



I mean, really, the lines were just classic. (Though the cutesy language of Juno will likely provide a run for the money. But they talked a little too fast in that movie so the cool jargon gets kinda lost.)

Examples of my favorites:
- "Fuck me gently with a chain saw!"
- "Grow up Heather. Bulimia is sooo '87."
- "Corn Nuts!"
- "What's your damage, Heather?"
- "Lick it up, baby! Lick. It. Up."
- "Veronica, why are you pulling my dick?"
- "I don't patronize bunny rabbits."
- "I love my dead gay son!"
- "Save the speeches for Malcolm X... I just wanna get laid!"

There's plenty more, but you get my drift.

---

There's definitely more phrases I'm working into heavy rotation, but these are the fun ones I want to start getting other people to use too. Go to it, people!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lawsuits and Death

I may be getting old and crotchety, but this rubs me the wrong way. Apparently, the families of the District girls who died under their mother's care are planning on suing the District.

I will admit that I don't know many of the facts of this case other than what I've seen in the paper. The facts so far seem to indicate that the mother, Banita Jacks, had custody of four girls (fathered by, it appears, at least two different men), and that she, well, wasn't all that fit to raise them. From what I've seen, she withdrew all four of the girls from the schools they were attending, going so far as to tell school officials that she was home-schooling them. She then promptly locked the girls in the house, such that no one ever saw them again.

And then they turned up dead.

Look, I don't doubt that the District could have done a better job in policing this family. They purported to conduct home visits of the house, but never actually saw the kids. And then they appear to have accepted without question someone's assertion that the family had moved.

But what's notably missing from all the news accounts about this case -- including this most recent one -- is what contact the girls had with any of the following people: Mamie Jacks (the girls' grandmother and Benita Jacks' mother); Jessie Fogle (grandmother of the two younger girls); Kevin Stoddard (father of second oldest girl); and the father of oldest girl.

Both of the grandmothers appear to have served notice upon the Mayor that they are planning a lawsuit over the deaths of these children. The father of the second oldest girl (reported to be Mr. Stoddard) also commented, through his attorney, that he plans to sue. But on what basis?

From all that is apparent, none of these people had or attempted to make any contact with Ms. Jacks or the children during the troubling period of time. None of them went by the house demanding to spend some quality time with their kin. Did any of them offer to babysit or take the kids away from Ms. Jacks for any period of time? Had any one of them stopped by or otherwise questioned the strange circumstances brewing in Ms. Jacks's house, perhaps someone could have done something sooner.

Now, apparently not having given much of a second thought to their kin for some period of time, are they seriously suggesting that they should somehow be compensated for their deaths? Just how much pain and suffering could they have experienced from their deaths if they weren't seeking to experience joy and love from them when they were alive?

But apparently, headline-grabbing deaths must, as a matter of necessity, result in a lawsuit. There's gold in them thar deaths.

Idiocracy

In my spare time I serve as a web guru for a professional association I belong to. It's not a huge deal, because mostly all it means is I get behind-the-scenes access to a website that makes publishing content, etc. a matter of typing and clicking rather that coding and posting.

Most of my duties on the site involve troubleshooting for people who are having problems, and that usually focuses almost exclusively on people who are confused about our website structure (and it is a little retarded), and on login issues.

Today I received an email from a member, telling me that it had been a while since she logged in to the password-protected site, and could I please remind her of her password? Or was there someone else she should be contacting for this info?

Answer: Lady, do you see that link labeled "Forgot your password?" RIGHT NEXT TO the password field of the login screen? What do you think it's there for, decoration? It's not terribly cryptic, is it? How is that you managed to root around to find my contact information to ask me this question, but weren't able to see a blindingly obvious link that would answer your question?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Norm!

I returned to my usual poker night last night after a five-week hiatus punctuated by illness, work restraints, and bad weather. I had actually missed my time there; the guys there are fun to play with and they're generally cool. I pretty much suck, and they're okay with that and we all laugh at me together.

I got there just before the game started and didn't even look around to find my friends. Instead, I retrieved my chips and, upon turning around, found a table with a good number of empty seats. "Sit down," one of the guys on the table said. "Sure, why not," I said, a tad disoriented and excited to be back in the game.

Across the room, at a different table closer to the door, I heard my name called out rather loudly, and repeatedly. I truly felt like Norm from Cheers. Turns out there were empty seats at the table where my regular group of friends sat, so I went off and joined them instead. It was too bad, because I wouldn't have minded playing with some new people, but hey, there's comfort in familiarity. Besides, several of the guys on my regular table were kinda hot.

Story of the night:

So I get pocket aces (diamonds and clubs), and the guy before me raises. Because he did my job for me, I just called. One other player called after me.

The flop contained a queen, the 10 of diamonds, and the 4 of diamonds. One player limped in, but the second better put in a humongous raise. It hurt just watching it, because I didn't want to have to lay down my pocket aces. In the end, however, his actions screamed that he had flopped trips, so I tearfully let them go.

I was right, he had a pair of queens in his hand.

But that's not the end of the story.

The second player called his huge raise, and the turn was produced: King of diamonds. That's three diamonds on the board, for those of you keeping track.

Bets ensued. Keep in mind, I'm relatively certain one guy had trips at the time that I folded. We got to the river.

I hadn't even finished saying "If it's a diamond I'm going to cream," when the 8 of diamonds showed up on the river. I had folded the nut flush.

I give myself props for finally having the strength to let go of pocket aces. I only wish that it happened on a hand that I wouldn't have eventually won.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

CNN/AP Loses Its Sense of Humor.

Okay, check it.

I was on CNN.com and saw this headline: "Huckabee overstays welcome on SNL."*

Part of the text of the article:

Even though Mike Huckabee is still battling for the Republican presidential nomination despite long odds, he said Saturday he won't "overstay his welcome."

Then he did precisely that, lingering on the "Weekend Update" set of "Saturday Night Live" despite repeated cues to leave the stage.

* * *

However, he said: "Mike Huckabee does not overstay his welcome. When it's time for me to go, I'll know. And I'll exit out with class and grace."

Then he remained seated at the "Update" desk even though Meyers made it clear it was time for him to leave.


I found this fascinating, just because I thought it would be funny to see how Seth Green handled a big-time politician accidentally missing his "we're done with you now" cues. Maybe they'd just pan away from him. Or do a close-up of Amy and Seth, deliberately pulling him out of camera range.

So naturally I found the clip on youtube. Here it is:



Aight people, who really believes that Huckabee accidentally missed his cues like a moron? I, for one, think it's pretty damn clear that the entire "oops? Am I supposed to leave?" thing was totally planned. I mean, come on, he had just been to try to explain why he wasn't conceding an election he is certain to lose now -- "overstaying his welcome," as it were.

CNN and AP, you are doofs.

PS: Was it just me, or was Amy Poehler unusually far away from Gov. Huckabee? I think she thinks he has cooties.

* I know what you're thinking. You've clicked on the link and found that the headline is not what I say it is. I swear, this is what the link said. It's what the headline said when I got there. Within the past few minutes, they've changed it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Live!

One of the things about being stuck at home for as long as I have been is that I get to watch television which I normally never would. One morning (I forget which one), I woke up and turned on the television, which happened to catch Live with Regis and Kelly.

Normally I would not watch this show. I think both Regis and Kelly are rather lame and their banter boring and nothing I couldn't do. But today was a bit different. Regis wasn't there.

In his place was a hot sexy Latin man who goes by Mark Consuelos.

Mark is apparently Kelly's real life husband (the fact that he's married disappoints me; that he's married to Kelly Ripa even more so) because they spent the first 10 minutes of the show bickering about whether she was given adequate warning about some fancy dinner that Mark had planned. Blah blah blah, the man was whipped.

But he was sooooo gorgeous. He has that smile that radiates and is infectious and heart-melting. And he was wearing a very nice shirt (I couldn't tell the fabric) but let's just say it hugged his very nice chest very very nicely.

Mark previously was in All My Children, where he met Kelly, which appears to be the pinnacle of his career, since he later went on to host that god-awful reality dating show Age of Love.

Some random photos I dug upon the internets (sorry, some just had to come with Kelly):





Honest to Blog!

I finally saw Juno last weekend (before I got sick). It's a cute film despite its rather serious underlying subject matter. Do kids nowadays really talk like that as a general matter of day to day speech? It was cute and off the cuff, but still.

Oh, and I still think Jason Bateman is incredibly cute. And that Jennifer Garner has a smokin' bod, but her mouth is like fifty times larger than Julia Roberts's.

Of course, I was enchanted, as always, by Michael Cera, who pulls off the adorkable thing so well. I love how movies nowadays are willing to put characters who aren't traditionally "cool" in protagonist roles. Cera's character is one of those people who would usually get beaten up without a second thought in some of the movies I grew up with. But here, we're actually expected to like him and cheer for him despite his social ineptitude.

And finally:



I had seen this video on Logo like a million times before. I had never bothered to read the credits to it (if there were any) so I had no idea that the singers Michael Cera and Ellen Page. And I always wondered what the hell was up with those runners at the end. It made just a bit more sense after having seen the movie.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Latest Food Network Crush

A while ago I blogged about my crush on Alton Brown of Food Network's Iron Chef and Good Eats.

I've since developed a new food geek crush.



That's Geof Manthorne, the executive sous chef of Charm City Cakes as featured on Food Network's Ace of Cakes. I love his singing in this clip -- so mellow and soft -- but I really truly admire his immense talent and handiwork in creating those damn cakes he makes on the show. They're huge and look fantastic. I can't imagine actually eating any of it, though, but I think he's totally cute. And he's in Baltimore, which is less than an hour from here. I sense a stalking run is in order.

Of course, while I am now crushing hard for Geof, and now a little less so for Alton, my biggest Food Network crush will always be Dave Leiberman. I mean, come on. He's just too adorable for words.

Being Sick Sucks.

I hate being sick.

This week has been pretty awful in so many ways. After having such a good time with Lorelai on Friday night, I thought I was in for a good week.

I was kinda wrong.

My friends and I went out on Saturday night to BeBar, which was surprisingly straight. After my straight Friday night, it kinda wasn't what I was looking for, but oh well. I didn't drink much but I did hang with my boys for most of the night before we all bailed at around 1:00.

Monday was President's Day. Usually we don't get most federal holidays off, so in the absence of being told anything, I went in to work on Monday. It turns out we did in fact have Monday off -- which I found at around 11:30 a.m. -- so I bailed by 1:00.

I showed up for work again on Tuesday and put in my full day, but I noticed that I had a cough thrown in there that I hadn't had before. I had taken a sick day already in early February, so getting sick again would absolutely suck. But it's gone worse since. I've now taken two days off this week. I've coughed so hard in the few days I've seen stars. My chest is tight. I'm sucking down orange juice and chicken noodle soup like there is no tomorrow.

I'm going to try to get back to the office tomorrow, but my colleagues are kinda paranoid about catching things when one of us isn't feeling well, so I think they'd be just as happy if I didn't show up again.

I don't enjoy taking sick days. I actually get bored at home all day.

I have, however, seen a gazillion movies, some more memorable than others.

Taxi Driver: DeNiro as a young man was hot.
Reefer Madness: The Musical: Christian Campbell is hot. And it's a fun show.
Because I Said So: Except for the fact that almost all the credited men are quite easy on the eyes, the movie has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend: Cute premise, but horribly executed. I just felt nothing for Uma's character or for Luke Wilson's.

Meanwhile, I am also working on a work of short fiction which I plan to submit for publication in a gay magazine this summer. Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekend Escapades

I was supposed to go to the Black Cat on Friday for some 80s party. Some of my friends were going to be there and I wanted to check it out because I'm an 80s dork. Then again, though, because it was the Black Cat, I figured we wouldn't be hearing Debbie Gibson and Roxette.

But in the end, of course, the best laid plans often fail. I had invited my friend Lorelai to go, but she had to stay late at work and didn't feel like making the trek out to the Cat. So I abandoned those plans completely in favor of just meeting up with her at a bar in Cleveland Park.

The place was the straightest bar I've been to in a long time. That really just speaks to me, not so much the bar, which I'm sure was standard hetero-fare. There was a time when I eschewed gay bars in general because all my friends seemed to be straight girlfriends so I ended up just hanging out with them at the straight bars. Then recently I made a new crop of gay friends so I found myself back at the gay bars surrounded by The Boys a lot.

But even when I was hanging with my straight girlfriends at straight bars, I don't think I've ever felt as out of place as I did at this bar. The male-female ratio was pretty even, but it felt ... different. I can't place it, but it did. But I was fine with it, 'cause I'm cool like that.

Lorelai and I met a cute guy at the bar. I don't think he's gay, but he seemed cool enough. We swapped business cards. I've emailed him, but he has yet to respond.



There are sooooo many reasons I want Alek to email me back at some point. I need the contact. (I'll leave that vague.)

Now that I have longer hair... I gotta let it down more often.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Birthday Brunch

I made brunch for some friends a few weekends ago. (This is a delayed post because it took my lazy ass this long to pull the photos off my camera.)



That's eggs benedict, asparagus, potatoes, and bacon. By way of explanation (the eggs look funny), they're not on traditional English muffins, but spelt muffins with raisins. Oh, and that's prosciutto tucked under that.

Originally my plan called for stuffed French toast as well, but the Safeway ran out of Texas toast when I went to look for it. That sucked. Thankfully, there was so much food already that no one missed the French toast.

It took much longer than I thought it would. Here's a helpful hint: just watching cooking shows doesn't make you a speedy gourmet chef. And just because Sandra Lee can create an entire meal in half an hour, here's one word: editing.

In any event, the food did come out pretty well. It didn't hurt that we treated ourselves to mimosas too:



For dessert, a pudding parfait with bananas and raspberries:





Despite the fact that the rest of the meal took about an hour and a half to assemble, the pudding parfaits were the biggest hit. There was also a cinnamon crumb cake involved too.

It was also a slightly belated birthday gift to my friend L.:



See, if you make friends with me, you too could have a homemade breakfast on your birthday! (Provided you have a decent kitchen for me to work in.)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Way to Hit Your Target Audience.



This guy's hawking Bowflex weight machines.

I hate him.

And that means I sure as hell don't want to buy a Bowflex because of him.

What's the worst part of him? Check him out at 1:44.

"I gave all my fat clothes to my fat friends."

Okay, you know what? It's great you lost that weight. But you're an asshole. If losing weight means you get an automatic entitlement to look down on your friends who aren't so hot and thin, then I don't want to be hot-like-you. Fuck you.

And then there's that other commercial (which I can't find on youtube) where the guy thinks he's hot shit because he's an older guy and he's finally in a rock band. No, really, that's his big thing. I just have to say, when you're 40 and your life's ambition is still to have girls throwing their panties at you because you're in a rock band and you have a rock band body, then you've got issues that giving yourself rock hard abs won't cure.

All I'm saying is, the spokespeople these guys pick really don't make me want to buy the product. At all.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oh Yeah, Baby, Just Like That.

Okay, a friend of mine posted this on my Facebook page recently.



I'll let you watch it before I dissect it.

Okay, you with me? Seriously, if the guy thought she was a girl, did he seriously think it would turn her on to lick his popsicle like that? Is that really a turn-on for women? "Oh yeah, man, you're so hot simulating oral sex on a guy. Now come have sex with me." Really, unless you're into guys who suck dick (as I am), I don't think that particular tack works very well.



And just for fun.



Still hot. And finally:





I need a towel now.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

DVR Was Ruining My Life, Then the Writers Went on Strike

In a way, I'm glad the Hollywood writers have gone on strike.

DVR was ruining my life. I was recording everything I was remotely interested in. And because many of those things were reruns that I couldn't filter out, I was recording a lot. For example, I've become addicted to Food Network, but most of their shows are old. They're new to me, but they're old. I can't tell the filter to not record stuff I've seen (the only options are "First run only" or "First run and repeats"), so I end up scheduling hours upon hours upon hours of shows.

With the DVR on as my constant standby, television programming was no longer a reason not to go out. Even though I had no "can't miss" shows in the pre-DVR days, there was always, in the back of my mind, the knowledge that if I attended a particular happy hour, it would be to the sacrifice of watching a particular show. No longer.

Indeed, I stopped watching live television altogether even when I was at home for it. Why watch live TV when you can watch the recording later and skip through the commercials? So now even if I'm home during a good television show, I'll delay watching it, instead watching something from my recorded list (43 minutes instead of an hour), and returning to the "live" show later.

It seriously got to the point where my Netflix queue was stagnant for about two months. I used to have a system where I'd watch all three of my Netflix DVDs every weekend, because they'd get replenished by the time the next weekend came around. Now, though, the sheer number of DVR'd shows I have to catch up on makes it difficult to make time to watch three DVDs on top of that. (Worse, these three DVDs are of television shows (Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls to be exact), so each of those DVDs has run times of about 3 hours (4 episodes), as opposed to the usual 90 to 120 minutes.

So in a way, the writer's strike is kind of good. For me. It means fewer new shows are being recorded, which means substantially less for me to have to catch up on every week. (Unlike Paula Deen shows, for example, I had safely set my DVR to record only first-runs of Bionic Woman and Pushing Daisies.)

A part of me wonders, however, whether the strike is a bit self-defeating.

It's already been noted that the networks are turning to reality shows to fill the void of scripted shows. American Gladiators is returning, and an impromptu new season of Big Brother is starting, to name a few examples. And let's face it, a lot of the American public eats up all that crap with a silver spoon. (I'll readily admit that I was hooked on BB as well -- until it was clear that the Donatos would do really well, at which point my hatred for them both caused me to stop watching.) Game shows like Deal or No Deal and Power of 10 are also stepping up to fill the void, along with some new ones.

Because the American public seems more than content to watch "reality" shows, are the writers really making much of an impact by keeping new scripted television off the air? Or will America eventually become so content to watch "reality" shows that they won't care about the death of some of their favorite scripted shows? And when all the dust has cleared, might networks decide that the reality-to-scripted ratio is better when the scripted shows are limited, thus resulting in fewer opportunities for writers?

Just some thoughts that fleetingly pass through my mind. Just to prove that the Idiot Box hasn't completely dumbed me down yet.

... Or has it?