12.30.2008

Showtune Tuesday: Hello, Dolly!

Confession: I have never seen Hello, Dolly! and know very little about it. But I saw WALL-E, and this song is used with great effect. For all the hopeless romantic robots out there, this one's for you!

(Alas, old links are broken.)

12.29.2008

New Year's Resolutions, 2009

1. Run a marathon.

Didn't do that one yet.

2. Move to Denver.

Also, take advantage of New York.

3. Think before spending, think before eating.

When will I ever learn.

4. Skydive.

YEAH! Let me know if you are interested; I will need support to go through with this one.

5. Practice French and study a new language.

Sign in '09?

12.23.2008

Showtune Tuesday: Meet Me in St. Louis

This one was a no-brainer. Merry Christmas, dear hearts.

12.22.2008

Present

This weekend, I was surprised to receive a free gift with purchase from my supermarket:

That was a nice gesture, I thought, but I didn't see much need for a wallet with my grocer's name emblazoned on it. But the surprises didn't end there. Christmas is a time of miracles, you see. When I opened the wallet to check out the interior...

...it transformed into this stylish reusable shopping bag! Thanks, C-Town!

12.17.2008

Remembering the Hiding Spots

Ideas for project 47 from the 52 projects book: “Remember All Your Hiding Spots.”

We used to play “Monster” with Pop-Pop M. It was the same as hide-and-seek, just that Pop-Pop was always the seeker (the Monster), and we were always the hiders. The time I finally outsmarted him I hid in the space underneath the pullout couch. Mom and Dad would use the pullout couch when Nana and Pop-Pop came because they let our grandparents take the bedroom. I bent open the top half of the bed, climbed into the hollow where the bed was stored when folded, and pulled the top back into position. Pop-Pop passed but never found me. Eventually I got bored of hiding and came upstairs.

My sister and I hid on the pew during Mass. She made up a priest called Father Paypot. I love that name.

I played Manhunt in many of the neighborhood yards: ours, the Sykes, Ferrignos, Logies, Detrolios. Manhunt is what you called hide-and-seek when you grew up and played it outdoors at night. I started wearing a black cape from an old vampire costume. I used it to some success on the Ferrignos’ deck. Another night I remember hiding with Dan in a natural ditch between the Sykes’ and an adjacent yard. There was your heart beating rapidly and cold breath and your friends in jail. The game swung between stillness and violent bursts of action. Sprinting, shouting, flashlights, hugging the ground…

At the beach you always wanted to sit and play under the boardwalk because your mom used to sing a song about it. When you got there, it was cool the way the sand was striped with the shadows of the boards, but everything else was gross. The sand was clammy and full of cigarette butts. It smelled like beer and old carnival food.

In middle school we skied on Friday nights, and love was so shiny like lights on the snow. Two by two they go, up lifts and in buses home, each pair of seats its own hidden universe. I held Jen’s hand and we kissed, huddled under a vast winter coat. I listened while words tumbled from John’s lips about Jeanie. My back pressed against the icy window.

On stage you wouldn’t think there are hiding places, but there are. There are wings, there are dressing rooms. There is the fact that you are not yourself. It’s one big fucking hiding place.

I buried my secret in the body of woman. She played me a song and hid one in me.

In Long Island, a giant vent in the floor let the heat through.

When Pop-Pop C fwas sick in the hospital, Nana would hide sangria in a Yoo-hoo bottle and bring it in for him.

My parents hid the Nintendo I would get for Christmas in the attic.

We slept in the basement. My parents were home.

The place we went to make out? Only one guy took me there: Kelly Drive at evening.

In Boston, a nondescript bridge on Columbus Avenue crosses over the Mass Pike. We kissed there, and what made it so delicious was that besides the onlookers not knowing our names, there was nothing hidden about it.

Other people, who knows where they went. My front lawn, it’s been said. Town parks. We were not very creative.

My lover hid her wedding dress in a FedEx box at the top of my hall closet. She married without it.

Narrow gaps separate the tombs in the walls of the mausoleum where my grandparents are buried. They don’t let you place flowers. You slip things into the gap: baseball cards.

12.13.2008

Prop 8 Protest, Etc.

Last month, I went to the national protest against Proposition 8 at City Hall in New York. It was amusing to be there early and see everyone pacing the sidewalk or leaning against the gate. I thought this band of protestors looked so polite and orderly, waiting for instructions. Finally someone said, "There's a stage THIS WAY!" and mobilization got things fired up.

A lot of people spoke. Christine Quinn, Speaker of New York's City Council, borrowed MLK, and was confident despite the passage of Prop 8: "Always, in our great country, the arc of human history bends toward justice." I thought ANTMer Kim Stolz gave a terrific speech. She started by saying, "10 years ago I realized I was gay. 8 years ago I told my parents. 6 years ago we started getting along again." It was easy to connect with her. One of her main points was to talk to everyone about gay marriage and let them know why it's important, and "Don't assume any particular person or group will not support equal rights."

(I wish some of the other speakers had heard her message, because there were one or two who spoke vehemently about Mormon support for the initiative. Still, make sure you read the Rolling Stone article on how poorly the No on 8 Campaign was run. You can question whether a church can be tax exempt after something like that, but man up and say you ran a shitty campaign.)

It was a good thing for me to hear, especially since I generally don't talk to people about gay marriage, and besides donating to HRC (an action which had questionable impact on helping oppose the Cali measure), I didn't really do anything to help stop Prop 8 from passing. But, as if to drive Stolz's point home, since the protest, one colleague from high school, who is an active Christian, does not support the ban, and another posted a link to the Newsweek story about the religious case for gay marriage. I should talk to these guys more. We should all be talking more.

I saw Milk this weekend, too, so the issue has been top of mind. There is a great scene with Milk and Dan White, and Milk says Proposition 6 (a measure that would have prohibited gay teachers and teachers who supported them from teaching in public schools) is more than issue; "this is our lives we're fighting for."

I posted pics of protest signs on flickr. My favorite, of course, was "Hate makes Baby Jesus cry."

Links

1. I just read about Stick Shift for the first time yesterday and am very happy that Queerty showed me the way. There is a very forceful argument for why the Mini Cooper is not gay. I also enjoyed the search for the best twinkmobile.

2. If I am feeling down, reading this always makes me laugh.

3. Drunk yelping.

12.02.2008

Showtune Tuesday: Moulin Rouge!

(Alas, old links are broken.)

12.01.2008

Assorted Notes

The Philadelphia Half Marathon: The best thing about running in Philly is the eating surrounding the actual event. Reading Terminal Market is a pre-race staple. Sabrina's is for post-race brunch. The weather was cold. I had a cramp for the first few miles, but afterwards was fine. The race was by far easier than the Seaside one last year. I was well prepared. Dre and I ran it in 2 hours and 6 minutes! We laughed ourselves silly with Lisa Dilly.

Thanksgiving: First, good family news; how's that for a change? Second, it is awesome that my aunt and cousin got me a "coming out present." Last, reunions with high school buddies and Livingston contingent!

Songs: If they are good, it's like you've known it all along. How do people write that? Meanwhile, my current pop song:

If all I have is funny,
(It's funny 'cuz it's true),
And I can't make you laugh anymore,
Then what am I to you?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: This one is my favorite so far. Dumbledore galore, plus Horcruxes are a clever twist. Snape in action. The unfolding of events is elegant compared with the previous installment, and the ending chapters are kickass.

Things I've read in between Potters: I've read some fascinating stories from The Best American Travel Writing 2006, notably "How to Sail Across the Atlantic"(only an excerpt is available online), and "After the Fall". Most recently, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

11.25.2008

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Attention: there are spoilers.

My two main problems with this book have to do with feeling a certain sense of betrayal. First, this is a very long book, and yet, to me it really built towards nothing. Thus, after finishing it, I had the feeling of being duped. The ending doesn't have the same power of the others compelling me to find out what happens next. There is a prophecy. Neither can live while the other survives. Did I just read 870 pages to find that out? Did anyone doubt that good and evil must be headed toward a confrontation? What we learn at the end of this book is something we knew from the first page even if we didn't have all the details, and that frustrated me.

(You may point out that there is an unexpected death of a "major" character. I had an issue with that, too. Sirius dies in battle. I think the handling of this death was almost careless. On the one hand, I can see an overall message in the way that the depiction is without fanfare in a chaotic fight scene. The scene is in line with the increasingly dark tone of the series, not to mention one of the book's underlying themes that life isn't fair. On the other hand, I didn't feel much as a result. There hasn't been much development of Sirius' relationship with Harry to make me feel like he is a "major" part of his life. Harry doesn't find out his true identity until the end of book #3, but Sirius is in hiding for book #4 and interactions with Harry are limited. Similarly, in this book, he is basically under house arrest. I think we are supposed to feel something because of the character's loss, but he has essentially been wasted.)

The second way I feel betrayed is by the fate of Dolores Umbridge. Umbridge and her relationship with Harry and Hogwarts overall are given much attention in the book. She is the character we love to hate. (Isn't it interesting that the most evil person we have met after Voldemort is not actually affiliated with him?) I see no reason why Umbridge survives, to the point that I'm angry that she does not die. I would never say that evil characters have to die for me to be satisfied with a story, but I think in this case it prevented me from connecting with the book. If my expectation that there would be a more rewarding ending was not met, my expectation that Dolores would suffer a satisfying demise was entirely contradicted. In earlier books, the unexpected twists and turns (e.g. Sirius' identity and Pettigrew's appearance at the end of #3, the death of Cedric in #4) furthered the story along. Here, there seems to be less method to the madness.

And there is more madness. Grawp? Lockhart? Perhaps some of the untidy threads of this volume will be addressed in the future. Maybe there is a reason for the giants; maybe Umbridge is revisited; I'm no Firenze.

This was my least favorite of the series, but there was enough to keep me reading. Shout-out to the good bits I liked: the woes of Mrs. Weasley (the boggart changing into her dead sons and husband), Hermione's curse on the DA list, the Room of Requirement (I think I just like the name), Dumbledore's escape. Luckily, things rebound in the Half-Blood Prince.

Showtune Tuesday: Fiddler on the Roof

I like a lot of songs from Fiddler, and this isn't my favorite, but I'm in the mood.

11.19.2008

Berlin

After London, I visited Sue in Berlin.

I have never been to Berlin before, so I did do a lot of the sightseeing thing. One of the first things I did was go to the Reichstag, since it is open late. You can walk up into the dome at the top.




On Day 2, I walked down Unter den Linden. I started at the Brandenburg Gate, then headed down to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This was a place that actually made you want to linger. Something about the blocks, the haphazard sizes, the way the paths rise and fall. If you check out my flickr, you can tell I spent a bit of time here just taking pictures.

I stopped at Bebelplatz, the site of the Nazi book burning in May 1933.

I spent a good portion of the day at the German History Museum. I got the audio guide and wandered from the Middle Ages to Reunification. I was in there for a while. In the Middle Ages section, I was drawn to the Augsburg Globe. There was also a disturbing crucifix. The entire thing was made of wood, but there were gaping wounds in the sculpture, so you could see ribs and bleeding arms. In the 20th century, I was interested to see how World War II would be portrayed. You move from the section on WWI, where they talk about how the Treaty of Versailles was harsh to Germany and that they had a problem with accepting full responsibility for the war(confirming what you learned back in World History classes), into the WWII section where they essentially say, "We accept full responsibility; we fucked up."

It was dark by the time I left the History Museum, and I finished my walk at Alexanderplatz in front of the TV Tower. I had some kebab, some coffee, and was going to meet up with Sue, but first ended up getting pleasantly lost on Oranienburger Strasse.

Then I met Sue at The Bird. I got to meet the crew, I went on an ice run, I had a delicious patty melt, and I got drunk. Sue showed us a chimpanzee riding on a Segway. By the time we arrived at Privatleben (no link?), I had already lost count of drinks. At this bar, they had wonderful strawberry + vodka shots that are alone worth a trip to Berlin. I ended up very drunk and concerned about texting gibberish to my boyfriend. I think I successfully avoided this but instead sent myself an e-mail via Blackberry that said, "At private life in stall." Text yourself before you wreck yourself, I always say.

The next morning I woke up late. I had experienced a "typical night out."

On Wednesday, Sue and I biked all around town. It was a beautiful sunny day. We rode by Checkpoint Charlie, the Jewish Museum, and the East Side Gallery, the largest remaining chunk of wall. We had a snack of shawarma. Later, Sue's friend Paula came over. I enjoyed a lesson in how Germans learn, from 4th grade art (kids are thrown into a tizzy if they have to paint a tree blue) all the way to university. Germans, like the French students I saw in Lyon, are meticulous note takers. For example, they have different color pens to take notes with depending on the subject. I think someone must teach them this. How else do you end up with an entire nation of people who pull out rulers to underline words in their notebooks??

We dined at a great Turkish restaurant in Kreuzberg with Paula and Megan. We had a drink afterwards at Franken Bar. I had a Magners, but in Germany it mysteriously had a different name. We talked of self-hating Americans ("Where are you from?" "Everywhere."), the extremely frustrating visa process for entering the United States, what Los Angeles is like, traveling to Asia and South America, sex with teachers, and other teachers with small fingers. Megan told us about a brilliant perk of living in Kreuzberg: in the night, when drinks have been consumed and you start getting hungry, a man with a basket of fresh samosas goes from bar to bar and sells them. She had finished her story, and not ten seconds later Samosa Man was at our table asking us if we wanted some! It was like her story had conjured him! I loved that.

On Thursday, I roamed the Tiergarten and visited the Victory Column. I took a break at a Dunkin' Donuts near Potsdamer Platz. In the evening, Sue joined me for Art Madness: Berlin Edition at the New National Gallery. The top floor had a Jeff Koons exhibit, which looked pretty cool in the space; I got to see another balloon dog this year. The Paul Klee exhibit was great. I tried to dig up the paintings I liked, but not all of them were available. It probably doesn't help that I didn't write down their German names:

  • A Face of the Body, Too: This was early in the exhibit, and I laughed when I saw it. It reminded me of those eternal words: "The nipples are the nose of the breast face BUT the breasts are the eyes of the torso face and the navel is the nose OR the mouth...depending on if a chach is involved. If a chach is involved it can be considered the mouth." (The link is to some essay that has images accompanying it; the one in question is called "A Face Also of the Body.")

  • Fishes in a Circle: Exactly.

  • Snake Paths:I loved the colors and the snake's open mouth. Mehhp!

  • Black Herald: The herald with a giant red exclamation point that makes me smile.

  • Uncomposed in Space:Maybe a little too like an art project, but I liked it.

  • Architecture: Colors and shapes. It made me nostalgic for art class. I haven't had one since middle school.

  • Emigrating Bird: I think this is the one with fading pyramids, but I can't be sure.

  • Architecture of the Plain: The exhibit had an interesting section on Klee's travels to Egypt and other places, and how he developed abstract compositions of what he had seen. This is an example of that style. Personally, I just liked the colors. (It is the second picture in the link to a random blog post.)

  • Rock-Cut Chamber: When I first looked at this, I thought it was stupid. The more I looked at it, the more I liked it. It just seems to calm me down to look at it. I got a postcard of this one and the previous one.

  • Villa R: What can I say? I like that big R.


  • We had pizza for dinner and talked about travel. So many places left to see. Sue is planning more biking adventures. One day I want to do the Appalachian Trail.



    I covered a lot of ground in a short time, but like in London, I had a good time sitting on the couch and catching up. Over the days we talked about mutual friends and our siblings and our shared appreciation of "It's Always Sunny..." (Sidenote: if you have not seen the ladies' night scenes from the "Who Pooped The Bed" episode, go to FX or hulu and download NOW.) We talked about languages, YouTube usage patterns, exes and the health craze, running, and how we really should have taken Small Engines in high school. These foolish things have been lifting my spirits all week.

11.18.2008

Showtune Tuesday: Cabaret

Ah, it's late, but just think: it's so much earlier in Pacific Time.

Berlin much?

(Alas, old links are broken.)

11.16.2008

London

Hello, 'mosketeers! I have much to discuss: London, Berlin, Harry Potter 5, the Prop 8 protest! I'm not sure if I have the discipline to stare at a computer screen long enough to cover all that, but let's talk about vacation first.

This vacation was about visiting friends in foreign lands. I went to London to visit Tini.(Her account of the visit can be found on her blog). On Friday, T had to work for a bit, so I did the touristy things on my list.



I started with Westminster Abbey. So many people who have been a part of history buried there it's unbelievable. I finished at the National Gallery. I wrote down the name of the paintings I liked:

After the National Gallery, I met Tini at work and got the chance to see our global headquarters. We adjourned to the office bar, hung out with Steve, Jim, and some other folks. We discussed the results of the election. ("America's BACK on top, baby!") We enjoyed some titillating music videos courtesy of MTV Dance. Then, Art Madness continued at the Annie Leibovitz exhibit currently at the National Portrait Gallery. It was interesting to go from painting to photography all in one day. There were celebrity shots mixed with family ones; a bunch of family photos with her mom in a black "mom bathing suit" made me smile. Belgian for dinner!

On Saturday it rained. We had a lovely lazy morning at Tini's (very nice) apartment. We watched a rerun of "Dancing with the Stars" and chatted about work. When we finally left, it was to eat and to walk. I was introduced to the wonder that is Borough Market and their on-the-fly raclette. The rain cleared. We walked across the Thames via Tower Bridge, discussing vacation spots. We met up with Tini's friend at St. Paul's and headed back to the bridges to watch the fireworks at the closing of the Lord Mayor's Show. Ah, but our show was just beginning. We stepped into a pub to regroup, drink cider, and play foosball. We tried to have a drink at Gordon's, but it was too crowded. The London American crew went for dinner in Chinatown. Then we barhopped, ending at Bedford & Strand. I did my part to polish off the bottle of scotch.

T was kind enough to go for a run with me on Sunday. We ran from Embankment into Hyde Park, then down to Clapham, then straight to brunch. (Eating is the best motivation for running.) Later in the afternoon we went to the exhibit on Ian Fleming at the Imperial War Museum. In between these events we had some good chai tea and biscuits.

I went into the office on Monday morning to see my London Boyfriend and London Girlfriend for 15 minutes because they were not in on Friday. We agreed to face-to-face meetings once per quarter, although I think they should come to New York next time.

For photos, check out my flickr page here.

11.06.2008

America the Beautiful

Tuesday!

Obama's speech was moving, even though I caught it on DVR. (I left Matt's just before the election was called and was stuck in the subway for the next hour and half.) Wednesday, on the morning walk to work, I was singing the national anthem in my head.

As I leave the country for vacation, I know I can hold my head up high. I'm happy and hopeful.

11.04.2008

Showtune Tuesday: Waiting for Guffman

For this Election Day, oh how I wish that I was either familiar with 1776 or that there was some "Wave the Flag" action from Teddy & Alice. But sidenote to the haters, it does exist. Surely you can trust the combined validation of Wikipedia and YouTube:



Anyway, let's hear it for Blaine, a real American town in the tossup (as labeled by the NY Times electoral map) state of Missouri!

10.28.2008

Scene

"I'm making a list of all the reasons you're bad for me."

"There's only one. I don't think you're as funny as you do."

Showtune Tuesday: Sweeney Todd...

Careful what you eat when you trick-or-treat on Fleet Street!

(Alas, old links are broken.)

10.27.2008

Dear Michael

Dear Michael,

Many months have passed since my last letter. As your courtship of Miss Hancock has grown more serious, I have been pleased to spend time with you. I often think fondly of this summer's adventures: the Renaissance Festival we attended for Andrea's birthday celebration, the hamburgers you grilled to perfection in the outdoor roof garden in Brooklyn, or the simple evenings of your strumming jaunty tunes on a colorful plastic guitar.

Thus it was with a mixture of confusion and sadness that I learned you could not dine with us Friday last. Our companions prepared a delicious meal, but you declined, and for what? Laundry. This is what we were told. Only later did I discover that you were not, in fact, "doing laundry." If you were "doing laundry," perhaps I could understand. Household chores like laundry can consume much time, with the washing, drying, and folding. No! You were sorting and pre-treating your garments. How ashamed I felt that I was not worthy enough to be considered more important than a stain on your collar! You have been false at worst, Michael, and at best misleading.

It is my sincere hope that your absence was not a sign of vengeance. I concede that I have declined several extended invitations to the performances of your improvisational troupes. I hope we are of one mind in the belief that no friendship could survive such tit-for-tat accounting. Search your heart, and you will know my true feelings.

As winter approaches in these troubled times, I long for the comfort of my dearest friends. I only write to unburden myself of these thoughts, so that they do not poison any future meeting.

With kindest regards to you and your family.
Always truly yours,
Brian

10.26.2008

Harry Potter

In the last month, I've read Harry Potter installments 2-4. I don't really remember that much about Chamber of Secrets, but here are a few things I've been mulling over. There are spoilers if you are on the Trig Track like me and haven't read the books yet.

Because I had seen the movie of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I ruined one of the major developments that is revealed in #3. Still, I enjoyed the book. I think it's brilliant that the action centers around a school because any kid (and any adult) can relate to that. In fact, one of my favorite things about The Prisoner of Azkaban is the interactions with teachers. I love that McGonagall is dismissive of Divination as a subject. I like that we have more reason to understand why Snape is so cruel to Harry. I like that they have a real Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher for once. I appreciated some new fantastical items, like boggarts, animagi, and the Marauder's Map.

Of the books so far, I've liked Goblet of Fire best because everything is growing up. I laughed out loud at the "Unexpected Task" chapter chronicling how the kids all end up coupled for the Yule Ball. But more than in the previous books, the danger feels more dangerous. I liked this one the best because V. Diddy is back and bad. We've been through three books at this point, and we know everyone fears Voldemort so much so that they don't use his name, and we have some knowledge of his history, but we have not been witness to much. I was skeptical! He proves himself in his resurrection scene, and you can't walk away from this installment doubting him.

The books are page turners, which makes the reading experience itself pretty fun. I do not like the way that major parts of the story are vomited up through some kind of monologue during the final chapters (Tom Riddle in #2, the Shrieking Shack scene in #3, Veritaserum in #4), but I overlook this because getting to those final chapters has been a good time. (And another point for #4 is that the real climax happens before that stage, so it isn't as bothersome.)

Harry himself leaves me thinking. He's a pretty passive character. Everything happens to him, but how many times does he show initiative? He likes Quidditch and excels at it, and he does get Lupin to teach him to defend himself, but most of the time he is thrown into situations and deals. (How could he possibly have been a potential Slytherin?) Maybe I'm just hating on him because I'm into the fifth book now, and in the opening chapters you just want to tell him to stop whining. In general, I find him likable but not as interesting as his friends. This surprised me in a protagonist.

10.22.2008

Ellen versus Palin

We need to invite her over for Sunday Night Dinner.

10.21.2008

Showtune Tuesday: Ragtime

This song is awesome. Unfortunately I could not find a good video. This is the Broadway recording by Audra McDonald (I don't follow Private Practice, but she is Dr. Naomi Bennett) set to a user-generated photo montage. I'd recommend closing your eyes and just listening.

(Alas, old links are broken.)

10.16.2008

Project Runway

I've been carefully avoiding the Internets all day so I could watch my DVR. Congratulations, Judy Noodles!!!

10.14.2008

Showtune Tuesday: The Sound of Music

Let's get this classic out of our systems. I'm partially going to blame this on hiking near Boulder...


Lake Isabelle at Brainard Lake Recreation Area



10.08.2008

Dirty Pop

On "My So-Called Life" Angela observes, "Walking into someone else's house for the first time is like entering another country." A friend echoed this sentiment when clicking through someone else's mp3 player.

A warning: the list below is highly influenced by songs that a) I listen to while running, and b) I listen to while trying to fall asleep on a plane. Welcome to my country. The top 25 most played songs on my iPod as of 10/8/08:

25. The Rat - The Walkmen
24. Le vent nous portera - Noir Desir
23. Phantom of the Opera Song - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
22. Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson
21. Talk to Me, Dance With Me - Hot Hot Heat
20. Tell Him - The Exciters
19. Once Around the Block - Badly Drawn Boy
18. Ocean Avenue - Yellowcard
17. Heartbreaker - Mariah Carey
16. You Look So Young - The Jayhawks
15. Airport Song - Guster
14. Edge Of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks
13. Total Eclipse Of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler
12. Philosophy - Ben Folds Five
11. Favorite Things - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
10. Dancing In The Dark - Bruce Springsteen
9. Michael - Franz Ferdinand
8. Delicate - Damien Rice
7. Stickshifts and Safety Belts - Cake
6. Toxic - Britney Spears
5. Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado & Timbaland
4. Me Gustas Tu - Manu Chao
3. Why Don't We Do It In the Road - The Beatles
2. Casimir Pulaski Day - Sufjan Stevens
1. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) - The Arcade Fire

What about you?

10.07.2008

Showtune Tuesday: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

This week was tough because I wanted to post something from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but I had a difficult time narrowing down my choice.

So if you feel trapped, go here.

If you're in the mood for a sing-along, go here.

And for anyone who wants to know where love came from, watch and learn:

10.04.2008

Thinking About It

I am an independent voter that leans left. I am voting for Barack Obama.

I believe that some wars are necessary, but no wars are good. I believe the war launched in 2003 was not necessary. It is my prerogative to use my vote to throw the incumbent party out of the White House.

I do not believe my opposition to the war in Iraq in any way reflects on my support for the armed forces. They are two separate issues that should not be confused.

I am impressed by Hillary Clinton and think she would make a good president. I believe she is extremely intelligent. I do not believe, in her heart of hearts, that she thought there were WMD in Iraq in 2003, or that there was any link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein; she is too smart to be misled by George Bush. I think her vote for war was a calculated move that she thought she needed in order to run for the presidency. It is a sticking point, and I could not fully support her candidacy. I hope she has a long political future ahead, though.

I don’t think it’s wise to wage war and cut taxes at the same time.

I believe free markets are not the solution to every problem, namely health care.

I believe that people who are more intelligent, responsible, experienced, educated, creative, and open-minded than me should be running the country. I don’t believe “everyday folks” like me is qualification enough, I don’t believe having children is qualification enough. If that makes me an elitist, I will wear that label happily.

I am conservative in the sense that I don’t believe the government should have a say in reproductive decisions, in end-of-life decisions, and in who-am-I-going-to-fuck-tonight decisions.

I believe abstinence-only education is a pipe dream. I think some studies support this. I believe in birth control.

On education in general, I haven’t worked it all out.

I would vote a thousand times over if I could to counteract the votes of the people who say, "I'm a Democrat, but I could never vote for a black man." They exist. They're your neighbors.

I’m sure we should be investing in alternative energy right about now!

I hope in my lifetime one major candidate can say, “Yes, I believe in same-sex marriage” without cost to their party’s election chances. I believe in same-sex marriage. I believe I do not talk often with friends and relatives about it because I am afraid to hear what their opinions are. I believe no one has offered any convincing argument against same-sex marriage or gays serving openly in the military.

I believe in God. I am not that into Church these days but I still pray.

I believe the economy is going down the tubes, and I trust Obama’s economic team more than McCain’s. In general, I would sleep easier at night with Obama and Biden in charge, not McCain and Palin.

Until McCain’s vice presidential selection, I didn’t have much feeling about him one way or the other. I think he was the best Republican candidate for his party's nomination. The choice of Sarah Palin leads me to question his judgment and whether he actually puts his country first. Sarah Palin’s performance in debate and in interviews with Katie Couric (granted that is not much to go on, but whose fault is that?) demonstrates how blatantly and dangerously unqualified she is for the vice presidency. The possibility is very scary to me. I hope we all seriously considers the implications of our votes next month.

9.30.2008

Showtune Tuesday: Little Shop of Horrors

Wow, it's that time of the week already!

(Alas, old links are broken.)

9.22.2008

L'Update

I finished The Stand. The climax was unexpected and unsatisfying if I take it in isolation, but I still enjoyed the book. Character trumps plot for me, and the Stephen King books I've read to date fit the bill. My next book project is Harry Potter (I read #1 years ago and whizzed through #2 this week), and I have my doubts that it will play out the same way. I like Hermione because I was a geek. I am also fond of Snape because I have seen most of the movies and keep picturing the Talented Alan Rickman.

Recently I read somewhere about a study on food diaries. I've been keeping one for about two weeks now. I have learned that I eat bread, rice, and fat, and should up the fruit and vegetable intake. All of which I knew before, but I thought I would give it a shot. Dre and I signed up for the Philly 1/2 Marathon, which is quite ambitious after a summer off. I'm also biking in the 2008 Bike MS Event NYC in October to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Follow the link to donate.

My dream of tagging along with Hannah to Vietnam has been dashed by ticket prices, but I may rebound by going to London and Berlin in November. If not, Pittsburgh and Chicago it is!

I am going to start another regular entry regarding places or things I like about New York.

I have a few new neighbors, and when I say neighbors, I mean literally within a block of my apartment. It makes me smile, and I told Casey to be ready to see me in my pajamas at the Bagel Mill.

Happy birthday to all the Virgos, and happy equinox to everyone.

9.19.2008

Now That's What I Call A Vacation

Look at this travelocity ad recently featured in The Advocate and Out magazines:




Chicken fight with the gnome, and here's a closer look at the copy:




Given the water sport double entendre, does anyone else think this is the funniest ad ever?

9.16.2008

Showtune Tuesday: West Side Story

Well, why not make it regular thing? How else does one deal with Crappy Tuesday Syndrome?

(Alas, old links are broken.)

9.14.2008

Summer in Mobile Phone Pics

Home run at Shea Stadium in June. I got tickets to a Mets' game for my birthday.

The "Sopranos" picture at my parents' house. Woke up this morning...

Yankee Stadium, trip with the fam for Mom's birthday.

Jeff Koons on the Roof at the Metropolitan Museum. I went here in July with my Hotlanta peeps.

The Cyclone at Coney Island on the day of the Mermaid Parade.

One day on the way to work, De La Vega has a message for me on a discarded box spring on 88th St.

Silver Dodge Caravan, my sweet ride in Birmingham.

Mom, Dad, and Linda on the far side of the table swaying and singing along to "That's Amore" at the baptism "party" in Shirley.

Donkey Bowl, Shirley, NY.

9.08.2008

In The News

Did you not get enough Jersey Devil this summer, dear hearts?

9.05.2008

Currently Reading

I've been reading The Stand for the last month or so. I'm jotting this part down because I like it:

Her place was not to judge God, although she wished He hadn't seen fit to set the cup before her lips that He had. But when it came to matters of judgment, she was satisfied with the answer God had given Moses from the burning bush when Moses had seen fit to question. Who are you? Moses asks, and God comes back from that bush just as pert as you like: I Am, Who I AM. In other words, Mose, stop beatin around this here bush and get your old ass in gear.

9.04.2008

Daily Show

All my loving, Mr. Stewart.

8.28.2008

Happy Labor Gay Weekend

I'm crapping out of writing. I'm skipping town. So you're just going to have to settle for THIS.

8.16.2008

Saturday Sounds

One of my faves.

7.24.2008

Scenes from Weird New Jersey: South Edition

United by whimsy and a joyous respect for the Garden State, four friends set out for adventure in their native land.


Props: All these pictures were taken by Elena or Hannah.

Stop 0: Strip mall.
Typical. We need bug spray and snacks.


Stop 1: Manalapan Diner!
A very good place to start. We strategized and reminisced about North Edition in 2006: Annie, Craig's grandpappy, Midgetville, the true horror of NJ (development and sprawl). Weirdness crept in at this very first stop. A young man with a ginormous Afro entered the diner. The bathroom was ten degrees warmer than the dining area. A Playboy was tucked away behind the dessert counter.



We were a team of two North Jerseyans and two South Jerseyans of varying areas of expertise:


Brian--strengths: misidentifying insects, lookin' pretty; weaknesses: kind of a pussy
Elena--strengths: organizing the trip, driving, belting out Starship; weaknesses: being tempted to laugh at her own jokes





Hannah--strengths: climbing over gates, botany, waking up happy as a Disney princess; weaknesses: thirteen year-old boys
John TGI--strengths: dramatic reading, impervious to static electricity, fluent in Piney ; weaknesses: pizza

Stop 2 : Grave of Mary Ellis


Fearless Hannah.


Gravestone.

My favorite part of this legend:

It’s been alleged that the early 1970’s pop hit "Brandy," was really an ode to Mary. The Looking Glass, the band that wrote and recorded the song, were in fact from New Brunswick, and did record other songs based on local sites. "Brandy," the fine girl, according to the song, was in love with a ship captain who could not leave his true love, the sea, to marry her. Sound familiar?


Stop 3: Gravity Hill, Jackson
Shifted the car into neutral and were pulled uphill. Weird! E spied a shadowy figure in her peripheral vision. She braked abruptly. A thump. Hannah and I screamed. Elena screamed, slammed into drive, and we were flying away. The mailbox that had scared us receded from view. TGI was so frightened he got the hiccups.

"Much to his surprise he was brutally murdered by the stranger."

Stop 4: Trolley Valhalla
Digital props helped us locate the place. Although we found no rusted hulls, there was a lot of wreckage. J told brain teasers to calm E's nerves.




"Where we're going, we don't need roads."


Remnants.


Seat cushion OR the sickening web of a MAN-EATING SPIDER?!?


Toilet Valhalla.


Have they ever seen a chair before?

Self portrait.



Stop 5: Smithville
Come for the abandoned factory, stay for the floating plastic bridge! (No sign of the bicycle railroad, though.)




Look.


Disaffected youth of the Pinelands.


H-bomb.


Greetings from Weird NJ.


Confirmation! It's plastic!


Gearing up for a shock.



Stop 6: Whitesbog Village Annual Blueberry Festival
Not necessarily weird, but 100% Jersey.


Goodies.


Engine running a shower.


Contender for the next state tourist slogan: Jersey makes me wet.


Bluegrass band.


Stop 7: Bamber Lake


Does this state make my ass look weird?

Stop 8: Leeds Point, Birthplace of the Jersey Devil
Truly creepy, quiet, with mammoth flies attacking the car. We did not trespass on private property, but it is an eerie little place. Elena used the spookiness to her advantage by flinging plastic snakes into the back seat.(She bought them at the Whitesbog General Store and was biding her time.)




I'm tired of these motherfuckin' snakes in this motherfuckin' car!

Impromptu Stop 8: Roadside Champagne Bottle around New Gretna



Here's to you, NJ.

Stop 10: Batsto
Ghost town in the Pine Barrens.


Mansion.


Creepy Elena.


Three's Company.


Time lapse photography par excellence: Batsto Post Office Scene

Stop 11: Pete & Elda's, Neptune City
Eat a double extra large pizza, win a free t-shirt. BRING IT ON. And just to make things interesting, why don't we race?




Spirits are high after the car got gay on the parkway--singalong to The Little Mermaid!


The task at hand...


...looks daunting.


Hannah (bottom pizza) takes an early lead.



John (top pizza) is in second.


Hannah's so close she can taste it.



Victory.


Elena (bottom pizza) and Brian overtake TGI and are in a dead heat for second place.


Brian just before taking the silver.


Elena can die a happy woman.


TGI struggles. A variety of psychological tactics are deployed. Positive encouragement. "You're doing great." Orders. "Eat that piece in two bites!" Threats. "I'll just say 'moist panties' until you're finished." Reverse psychology and the assurance that we would shame him for the rest of his life. And the key: insulting his heritage. "We come to your 'hood, and you can't even represent? It just goes to show that North and maybe Central are the true New Jerseyans."


TGI earns his shirt like the rest of us.


Not going back soon.

Stop 12: Asbury Park
How could we tour South Jersey and not stop at the beach? John told a ghost story as we stood in the sand. We resolved to buy some ice cream and watch a scary movie at home base. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" took us safely back to Freehold.