Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Oh, Nicholas!

The last couple of nights I have been utterly entranced by Bravo's new miniseries, Nicholas Nickleby. Now, I am always interested in period films, especially when they're set in periods of history where men's clothing was particularly this case, the very early Victorian era where it overlaps a little with the Regency era. I just love those close-fitting coats and pants with the high collars and fluffy cravats, puffy sleeves with tight waistcoats, the glossy boots and the tall hats. And the lead actor, James D'Arcy, is an absolute dreamboat! The other young men in the film were pretty tasty, too...and there was definitely a serious homoerotic tone to the whole production. None of those boys actually kissed, but there were a good many moments where it seemed they were just about to.

And the writing...oh, what a pot-boiler! There were enough twists and turns in that plot to keep a soap-opera cast busy for most of a season. Good Ol' Charlie Dickens, what a card! Doing a search just now, I found a place online where I can actually read the entire novel. The world we live in! I don't think I'll be able to read much of it, though. I've often found Dickens fairly slow-going. But then, I haven't tried him out in a while, I've been through a Bachelor of English Lit since the last attempt (I believe it was David Copperfield I tried first...or maybe it was The Pickwick Papers? Deadly tedious either way, if I remember correctly).

Personally, I prefer Jane Austen. But then, there are very few (assumedly) straight male authors I like. I can't, in fact, think of even one off the top of my head. I mostly like women authors, and homosexual male authors. I wonder why that is? I mean, aside from the appreciation of male beauty, why do I always prefer the female and/or man-loving author? I suppose it's because I just don't relate to straight men very well. Aside from the men I'm related to and the guys who date or marry my girlfriends, I don't know any straight men at all. I see them on TV, or at restaurants, out in public, and they are just a total mystery to me. Hmmmm.

I'm going to go ponder that for a while. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, January 28, 2002


Finally someone has answered the call! A sweet young man has taken pity on me and asked me a question...what's more, it was a question I could answer! Okay, he didn't exactly ask me...he asked the general populace on one of my message boards...but after I asked nicely, he agreed to let me use the question here. So maybe the public isn't clamoring for my input...but it's better than ripping off Ann Landers (though that was fun, wasn't it?)

    Dear Miss Marlénè,

    I'm a gay guy who just turned 18 and I have decided that If I'm to have any kind of future on the dating scene, I need to change my look. I'm not particularly unattractive really, I'd say I'm a 6 on a 1-10 scale. But I know that with the right hair and a little fashion change, I could become a 7 or 8. Any advice on how to neaten up my appearance without spending all kinds of crazy money? Just simple makeup or style tips would be appreciated.

    Nubile Newbie

Darling Newbie,

Simple tips? I never do anything simple. But just for you, I will highlight any simple Helpful Hints I write in bold so you can skim for them. In the meantime, I have plenty to say on the topic:

First of all, don't ever, under any circumstance, rate yourself by a numerical code. While it is a good practice to have an idea of where you fit into the generally-accepted aesthetic spectrum (in certain situations, such as Circuit dating and hustling, you do have to "rate") it's not indicative of your eligibility and definitely not one of the things you can really change — despite what the gym-bunnies and fashion-queens would have you think — and it's not the thing that good dating is based upon: I know lots of ugly fashionless people who date plenty, and lots of handsome well-dressed people who date not at all. If you're going to have any future on the Dating Scene, according to my research you need to be completely unafraid of rejection, sexually and verbally communicative, and "emotionally available" (whatever that means). Being cute certainly helps, being in good physical shape is pretty much de rigeur these days, but your clothes really won't positively affect your dating unless you are chasing after shop-boys and style-queens.

However, the rest of your question is more intriguing. Changing your 'look' is one of the most important — and the most dangerous — decisions of your young life. The clothes and haircut and accessories you choose say a lot about who you are. On the one hand, being a slob is not attractive; yet at the same time, being too neat isn't very attractive either — too stylized and you'll look like a freak, no style at all and you'll look like a nerd — too much fashion and it looks desperate, not trying enough looks like an insult. If you're a bookish, stay-at-home kind of guy, dressing up in the latest White Party gear may send the wrong message about you; similarly, if you'd rather dance than think, yet you look like a Harvard MBA, you're going to find a lot of very confused people around you. You want to be yourself, but not so much yourself that you look like you have no idea what is going on in the world around you.

My first instinct is to advise you not to change your whole look. Start small, like with a new and different pair of shoes; then work your way up to a haircut; then maybe try a new style of pants. But don't walk into a store and try to assemble a Whole New You (as we've seen in so many films, from Pretty Woman to Can't Buy Me Love). There's too much room for error, especially if you don't have a rich style-queen shopping with you.

But you're young, you're exploring your new adult life, and you want a new look. So what to do?

The first thing to think about is what kind of person you want to be (a banker, a professor, a dj, a conceptual artist, a porn star, a golfer, etc.); then think about how such a person might appear. How do your favorite characters in movies and television dress? What do your favorite musicians wear? What designers or stores have the ads that turn your crank? Focus on what YOU like and find attractive, rather than what other people appear to can't be yourself (which is attractive) when you're busy being someone else (which is pathetic).

Other than that, any outfit that you FEEL good in will probably look good on you...and by 'feel good,' I don't only mean merely 'comfortable.' Walking around town in your sweats and pjs is just silly and contemptuous. But if you're wearing a fabric you enjoy the feel of, in a color you find soothing or attractive, in a cut that gives you plenty of room to move and grips the parts of your anatomy you want to recommend to people's attentions, then you're doing okay.

Next, listen to your feedback very carefully. If someone says to you "That color is great on you," memorize that color and buy more things in that range; if someone compliments the cut of your shirt or the material of your pants, keep that in mind when buying new things. If your aim is to be attractive, keep an ear and eye open to the colors, shapes, and textures that appear to be the most effective in attracting people to you — and not necessarily sexual attraction...when your Mom thinks you look good in something, when the girls at the office think that your shirt is a pretty color, if the guy behind the deli counter likes your watch, you are attracting positive attention, and that's a good thing.

To turn the discussion back to myself (because, ultimately, it is all about me), I recently became enamored of the Chunky Turtleneck after seeing it on a lot of really hot guys on television, and have been buying them like mad. They really are quite flattering...they tend to forgive figure flaws on me, and accentuate physical perfections on others; the collars frame the jawline nicely and set the face off well; and since I have a really long neck, and tend to get cold very easily, they are absolutely perfect in these chilly winter months. So the general thing goes: I saw something I thought was hot on TV; I bought one to see how it looked and felt; it looked and felt great, so I bought a whole bunch of them; and a new Look is born. The same thing happened with the flat-front chinos (oh, how clearly I remember seeing this one really cute, really hung guy wearing some, which led me right to the Gap for a pair of my own) and the t-shirt/v-neck combination (layers are always the best thing for Northern California...and if it works for Steven Weber, it will work for me) that have been part of my Look for the last couple of years.

As to more specific-to-you advice, Nubile Newbie, I cannot hazard to guess without knowing more about your personality and body-type. However, here are a few things I wish someone had told me when I was your age:

1) In assembling your new wardrobe, go for quality rather than quantity, good stitching over popular names. One good sweater in a neutral tone that won't unravel is better than ten adorable shirts of bright-colored crap; one good pair of well-fitting khakis that will survive thousands of washings and sittings (and yes, kneelings) is worth more than ten pairs of cutesy dry-clean-only slacks that will go out of style about the same time the seams come apart. It's a fairly good rule of thumb to never buy anything in a vivid pattern, or with a large label or memorable writing anywhere on the outside...if you don't have a lot of clothes, people will notice how often you wear your orange "I'm Not Gay But My Boyfriend Is" shirt with your chalk-striped purple drawstring pants. But mostly, when you shop for clothes, examine the material for durability...and more importantly, examine the seams for good stitching. If there are a lot of loose threads, cheap mesh-stitched hems, or irregularities in the material, leave that garment in the store.

2) Invest in good shoes...not expensive brands, necessarily, but solid brands like Rockport or Bass or something equally well-built, with plenty of padding and arch-support...your feet will thank you, and you will save money in the long run. Like with clothing, you must examine the stitching very closely, for it is the loose threads and irregular materials that make the shoe look shabby after a few wearings.

3) Do not EVER color your hair (or get a tattoo or get pierced) when you've been drinking booze, smoking pot, or (more importantly) dropping acid or ecstasy. All the most egregious Fashion Don'ts are made Under the Influence.

4) Low-maintenance haircuts are the only way to go. You can't carry a blow-drier and curling-comb and fifteen kinds of products around with you everywhere (especially if you're planning to get serious on the Dating're going to wake up in all sorts of inconvenient places). Get something that dries on its own or can be fingerstyled. If you have the right shape of head and the right hair-line, a buzz-cut might work for you; if you have very delicate features, a straight-edged geometrical cut might look nice — but most people look better with a bit of softness around the face, some body and bangs or curls or layering. If you don't know what sort of shape or style would look best on you, consult a hairstylist (and if the hairstylist's hair looks odd, funny-colored or extravagantly cut, run like hell to a hairstylist with nice, blah, barely-noticeable hair). And if you don't want to go to that much trouble, Supercuts' standard shag works for most people, it's inexpensive, and no appointment necessary (it's what I have, y'know).

5) Don't wear makeup on a daily basis. A little eyeliner works well in a dark bar or club, but is tacky as crap in full light (unless you're a drag queen, of course, and then it's a different story altogether). If you don't wear glasses, brushing a little Vaseline on your lashes looks great; Cherry Chapstick is also good for keeping the lips a little pinker and wetter than nature might have intended, which looks more kissable. The important thing, though, better than any makeup you can buy, is to take good care of your skin. Drink lots of water, steam your face and neck every morning with a hot cloth (like barbers used to do), and remember: you're never too young to moisturize! Again, you don't have to spend a lot of money. Water comes out of most taps, just get a sports bottle and keep it full; most civilized countries have steaming-hot water on tap, too; and skin-care products don't have to be expensive (St Ives is a good brand and always cheap).

6) If you can't coordinate colors, don't. Either get someone to help you, or buy everything in neutral earth-tones that go together automatically. And for God's sake, don't wear black as if that were the answer to color. Black is a good choice, it's dramatic and it goes with almost everything, but as a 'Look' it's boring as hell. Stick to mixing earthtones (black, brown, tan, ecru, slate, taupe, sage, aubergine, etc.) — it's safer and easier and more versatile.

7) Wrapping up, the following rules should be observed at all times: never wear dress shirts, especially striped ones, unless with business attire, and never ever wear dress shirts with short sleeves (unless you're the vice-principle of a junior high school, and even then it's questionable); never wear tight pants if one can see between your thighs, if your groin bulges beyond the waistband, or if your butt sags in any way (standard lower-body figure flaws that often look okay out of clothes, but not in); the same goes for shirts — if it ain't pretty, cover it up; never ever wear your bangs in a straight line across your forehead (if you have a bowl cut or bob...and those are dangerous must part the hair, even if you have a receding hairline or a huge hideous scar on your forehead); in a related matter, if you lose your hair, do not try to cover up the patches...that never works — either accept your hairline or shave your head; never ever wear white socks with dark shoes, or dark socks with white shoes (for simplicity, I suggest keeping all your socks and shoes in the same color range...otherwise, it's easier to match your socks to your shoes than to your pants); never wear a thin material that is not silk or silk-like (there's nothing tackier than lightweight cottony synthetics); don't show off any part of your body that you don't want people staring at (be it something good, like a nice butt or big basket, or something less-than-desirable like fat ankles or a saggy chest)...if it's there, they will notice.

8) Finally, and most importantly: DON'T TRY TOO HARD. There is nothing in this world so pathetic as begging for approval. Do your own thing, make yourself comfortable, and the rest will follow.

Well, if you're not sound asleep by now, Newbie, you're probably a fashion maven waiting to happen. The very fact that you asked aloud about your overall look bodes well for your future in the world of clothing, accessories, and grooming. It's the people who think they have it all figured out who are most often in trouble. That's why even I always ask four or five people about a new look before I get started on adoption procedures (Shiloh, Caroline, Dalton, my Sister, and the Grandmother...they all have different tastes, and if I can get an article past all five of them, it's a definite keeper).


So, wasn't that fun? Do you have any questions about fashion, grooming, etiquette, color-harmony, trivia, love, relationships, or life-in-general? I'm all ears.

But on the other hand, would you take advice from someone who'd be caught dead in public looking like this?

This was the outfit I wore for the "Lady Marmalade" number at this month's Galaxy...I even surprised myself!

Friday, January 25, 2002

Yackety-Schmackety, Blah-Blah-Blah...

Today seems to be the day for attitude. Every time I answered to phone in the office today, there were people trying to bend me to their wills by force of their indignation and/or sarcasm. Silly fools. Don't they realize I'm a WASP alcoholic drag queen and therefore impervious to such amateurish theatricals?

"Well, why isn't she in the office on Fridays?" queried one member when apprised that Madam Prez (AKA the Boss-Lady) was not in the office today; "Nobody comes in on Fridays except me," I replied with a cheerful smile in my voice (which I did not feel...pure acting); "But I'm a teacher, and Friday's my only business day off," she whined, mistaking my faux courtesy for actual sympathetic concern; "Everybody here is a teacher, too...except me—that's why I'm the only one in the office," I refrained from telling her that I used to want to be a community-college teacher until I went to work for a college teachers' union and found out what an asshole job community-college teaching really is; "Well, can you give me her home phone number?" she presented what seemed to her an obvious solution; "I'm sorry," I prevaricated again with a musical lilt...being in fact about as sorry as a crocodile munching on a baby bunny..."but I'm not allowed to give out home phone numbers"; "But I have to talk to her today!" the caller whined (most unbecomingly, I thought...not exactly the sort of dignified sangfroid one expects from college professors); "I'll leave a message for you on her home phone," I reasoned, "but I can't guarantee she'll get it, or call you back, before Monday"; "Well, if that's the best you can do," she huffed, not at all mollified; "That's fine, then! I'll call in a few minutes and leave the message for Boss-Lady to call you as soon as she can," I emoted some more, enthusiastically reading my reply as if she had told me she really liked my voice, my phone-manner, and my admirable grasp of the situation...which rather took her aback—I think she was expecting me to return her snippiness with more snippiness of my own (which, had she only known, would have been fatal to her); "Okay, then," she continued, not sure how to end the call since I wasn't playing her game; "You have a great weekend!" I trilled, hoping instead that her ovaries would fall out while she was standing in a very long line at a very crowded grocery store, then lapsed back into truthfulness with a fervent exclamation of "Fucking cunt!"...but only after I had pushed the "off" button and removed the headset.

And that was just one of many such calls today. Well, we weren't put on this earth to have fun all the time (or so the Grandmother always assures me). I figure that's not such a bad price to pay for the fact that I had the office to myself all day and could belch and scratch and look at porn all undisturbed. I was working on a newsletter and a flier, too, and needed the concentration.

Well, let's see...what else is going on today? Oh, here's the Friday Five again (I was going to put it in last week, but the questions were all about browsers and newsgroups, and I didn't really find them interesting or, really, answerable).

1. What cologne or perfume do you wear? White Diamonds when in drag, Grey Flannel when out, peach oil when I'm not sure, April-fresh Downy when I don't care.

2. What cologne or perfume do you like best on the opposite sex? I don't have an 'opposite' sex, darling. But I find the smells Obsession and Acqua di Gió very sexy on men, and I love Amirage de Givenchy and White Shoulders on women.

3. What one smell can you not stomach? Just one? Uhm...ammonia.

4. What smell do you like that others might consider weird? Pipe tobacco...especially the fruity-flowery kind.

5. How do you plan to spend your weekend? Laundry. Nothing but laundry! I'm down to bathing suits instead of underwear...things have gotten out of hand.

Well, I guess that's all I have to say today. Back to the to you later!

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Another Milestone...

Well, today I passed two hundred hits on this page...since I got the counter, anyway. That calls for a celebration! Break out the Martinelli's sparkling cider and the good crystal! For my first hundred hits, my dear darling Miss Daisy so very thoughtfully gave me this adorable pin in commemoration:

Isn't that adorable?! So who's going to mark my 200th hit with a piece of jewelry? Anyone? Anyone? Don't make me do it myself. I will, too, y'know. I'll click right there on that eBay link and go get something. Don't think I won't. Don't try to stop me...

And again, since I don't have much of interest to say, here's something yummy to look at. This image is cropped...right below the frame is a glass-top table, through which you can see what he has to smirk about. Let me know it you're interested in seeing the full pic.

Lookie what I've got!

Click to see it bigger...

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Ah gods duh sniffohs

Well, the cold that has been threatening for the last few days has come home to roost. I have used up one half of a box of Kleenex ColdCare with Aloe, and have sneezed seventeen times today (my sneezes are epic and painful, or I wouldn't count them). But worse than the sneezes (which are at least good for the abs and lats, so long as your heart doesn't seize up) are the the drug store earlier, the lady standing in front of me in line edged very quietly away as my face went through a variety of Tex Avery cartoon contortions while trying to get a tickle of dripping snot out of my sinuses.

But then she saw the two boxes of Sudafed Sinus and the big bag of Cold-Eeze, and figured out that I wasn't a demented lunatic but just another poor schmo with a head cold. She wished me a speedy recovery and rekindled my belief in basic human kindness. Doesn't that just warm your heart? It did mine...and now my heart is dripping all over the place, same as my poor nose. That bitch!

Well, anyway, I got a new VCR today, and it is very exciting. I'm reading the instructions, and they're deliciously complicated: the "VCR-Plus+" feature allows me to simply punch in a six-digit number provided in the TV Guide, and it will know exactly when and what time to tape my shows...but only after I program in the channel locations of all of TV Guide's recognized networks and cable stations. That should only take me until Summer, if I'm diligent.

Sometimes having a Manly Man around the house would be so convenient...programming VCRs, assembling cheap bookshelves, knowing what certain domestic implements are supposed to be used for, getting the icky stuff out of the drains, giving a shit about when the oil and brake fluid were last changed. According to my research, only Manly Men know and care about these things. I must remember to get one next time I'm out shopping. I wonder what they like to eat?

Yes, darlings, I'm delerious. I am going to warm up some Campbell's consomme and get my germ-beseiged self into the bed.


Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Would you like some Catch-Up with that?

Another great echoing blogless emptiness has infested my page here. Can it be four days since last I blogged? No wonder I'm getting that anxious, pent-up, blue-balled sort of feeling. So now is the time for sweet catharsis, when I can update you on my endlessly fascinating doings over the weekend.

Friday, if you remember, was a bit dull (see below). But after I left the office, things got more interesting: my sister called and asked me to go with her to our father's place in Concord, there to make dinner for him and indulge in a spot of familial hanging-out. Well, I had planned to take the Grandmother shopping that evening, but I figured she wouldn't mind (turns out that she did mind...not that I was changing plans and having dinner with my daddy, her son, but that I neglected to tell her of the change of rude of me). We drove out to Concord with my niece and nephew in the back seat, the former complaining ceaselessly (as is her wont), the latter teasing the former whenever he could get a word in edgewise (as is his wont). Upon arrival we began the fruitless (perhaps even bootless) Quest for the Rack of Lamb. Seems Albertson's doesn't carry rack of lamb, just chops and legs; Safeway doesn't carry it either; Trader Joe's had it, but it was frozen...and cost around $20 (not that we mind frozen food, but we were already well past 'peckish' and the defrost time would have killed us). So we decided on a nice leg of lamb, which came with instructions, and arrived late, but whole, at Daddy's fashionable prefabricated home in the heart of leafy Concord. We ate lamb, and artichokes and mashed potatoes, and talked of this and that, then I played a rousing game of "Life" with the kids (I lost...badly) while Sister and Daddy hashed over their disparate versions of our communal past (as is their wont).

Well, a good time was had by all, but it was a long night on the end of a long day, and I was quite glad to get back into bed. Come Saturday, I managed to get up in time to catch the Saturday viewing of The Beastmaster (my favorite guilty-pleasures show); then Caroline came over with a big box of Krispy Kremes (she still hasn't dumped the boyfriend whose home puts her on the Krispy Kreme path...the only one in the East Bay lies halfway between Fremont and Oakland); later we went out to pick up a prescription and some groceries for the Grandmother, and while there stopped and shopped a little on Piedmont Avenue (I got a new dress, the cutest purse in the world, a pair of earrings, a large slice of Cotswold cheese, a loaf of rosemary-walnut sourdough, three cocktail rings, and a fashion different stores, of course). The rest of the afternoon, I worked my way through the rest of the Krispy Kremes and watched a lot of mindless television.

Just as I was settling in for the night, Shiloh called and invited me out to see Gosford Park. It just shows how dim I got by the end of last week, that I had quite forgotten about wanting to see it. Well, needless to say, I absolutely loved it! There was no way I couldn't. I think the thing that I enjoyed most was the way film managed to take in so very many characters...some main, some secondary, but none without a role, none without a presence, none without a need to be included. There were no extras: there were just character after character after character. The writing was truly refreshing; I'm not a connoisseur of directing, but I didn't see anything wrong with it; the costumes were absolutely to die; the sets and art-direction superb; the acting...oh, what can I say about the acting? It was almost seamlessly low-key. There were no major emotional performances, nothing that made one character stand out as more well-acted than another. It was really great. Really. I mean it. I do!

So then came Sunday, and I spent most of the morning in bed sleeping. Dozing, really, with a magazine and a book and some CDs, while mentally preparing for the show that night. It was going to be particularly challenging for three reasons: first, I hadn't really memorized the songs I was going to lipsynch, and one of the numbers I didn't know at all, having chosen it the previous afternoon ("South of the Border" by Keely Smith, from the Keely Sings Sinatra album); second, I had three numbers to prepare outfits for, instead of the usual two; and third, the last number was of a style that I had never before attempted in public: elaborate whorishness. The number was "Lady Marmalade" from the recent Moulin Rouge soundtrack, and the part I played in that song was Lil' Kim, that foulmouthed, deep-cleavaged, very short rapstress of current fame. So I dolled myself up in a white lace teddy and a graphite satin corset with knee-high white cha-cha boots and thigh-high white lace stockings, white lace gloves, as many rhinestones as I could get on and still stand upright, and the biggest, curliest, reddest wig in the free world. I looked an absolute sight. And the audience, accustomed to my demure elegance (my other two outfits of the evening included the she-tux I wore on New Year's Eve and later a grey jersey sheath with silver lace overlay and silver lace pumps, both worn with my short matronly Paula Young wig), was absolutely floored...and I will never as long as I live forget the looks on the faces of my friends in the audience who gaped, goggled, and gasped when I shimmied down to the stage floor with my knees pointing both east and west at once. It was definitely a night to remember.

But all such nights must eventually come to an end, and I went home and died into the bed (yes, I meant's not a typo, it's a pun). Monday I had off for Martin Luther King Jr Day; it was also National Hugging Day. But rather than participate in any activities to celebrate the life and accomplishments of one of human rights' greatest advocates and one of the world's greatest orators, or even running around hugging people, I spent the entire day in front of the television watching intensely stupid films starring Brendan Fraser and Patrick Dempsey (both great hotties, and fairly good actors I suppose...but oh, how often I regret remembering the 80s!).

Which brings us up to today. Nothing good happened today. Nothing bad happened, either. Just a nice day...a day full of reading and writing as I frantically try to catch up with all the blogs, email groups, and message boards I neglected over the weekend.

Well, darlings, have to dash: Queer as Folk is coming on, and I have to go see some nekkid man-booties. Ciao!

Friday, January 18, 2002

Another Friday Rolls Over Me

What is it about Fridays that make me so stupid? Is it that I get worn out by the previous four workdays? Is it because there usually isn't anybody else in the office? Or is there some sort of Cosmic Transferrence of Idiocy that converts all of us normally-astute Capricorns into drivelling Aquarians? Whatever it is, I feel just empty-headed today, and I felt that way last week, too.

Now that I think about it, I believe it's because I'm often alone in the office on Fridays, and so don't have anything to interrupt me from going into my computer-induced reality-trances. I spend so much time shopping my wish-lists and looking at porn and writing blogs and emails and looking up links and researching arcana that I simply lose touch with reality; and then when the phone does ring, or some task does need completing, I'm simply not up to the challenge. Plus I do tend to get a little tired after working all week (especially with this new getting-up-at-8:30-in-the-morning fetish). So these two things together make me stupid, flighty, pointless. I guess I should start taking Fridays off and distributing my hours around the other days? It would certainly make sense.

But then, when would I download all my porn? You need a little privacy for that sort of thing...people walking past your desk become alarmed when you drool uncontrollably, or when they go to make copies and get an eyeful of Big-Dicked Twinks; and dowloading at home is out of the question...God knows when the Grandmother is going to come barrelling through (plus the graphics capabilities of my at-home machine suck).

Whatever. While I'm considering these niceties of erotic imagery in the office, I'll leave you this piccie to oogle at.

Don't drop that towel, honey!

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Dream a Little Dream for Me

Well it's day four of the new Life Schedule...or is it three days? Hard to tell, since I started the Schedule about two-thirds of the way through Monday. So should I only count whole days? Maybe I shouldn't count them at all. Maybe I should just pretend I've always been on this Schedule; maybe I should not admit to being on a Schedule at all, that getting up at 8:30 is not unusual or even remotely interesting.

Either way, the whole thing is going pretty well. I get up, I have all this time in the morning to do stuff, and it's not really all that hard to get in bed at 11. But today I don't have anything particular to do, and the temptation to get back into the bed was very very strong. Since it's Thursday, it's not an aerobics morning, and so I should be writing or praying or meditating. But I have a feeling that if I meditate I'll go back to sleep, if I pray I will pray for the proper rationalization to go back to sleep...and so I got dressed, made an extra-big pot of coffee, and am writing. I had intended to write in my dream journal, but that is right next to the bed, which might lead me into I'll write here in the blog, at the computer (can't get drowsy-comfy in an aluminum folding-chair), in the kitchen (which is the coldest room in the house right now, since the architects in their infinite wisdom didn't believe we needed a heater-vent in the same room as the oven that is now preheating to 400°).

So I've been having this recurring theme in my dreams lately: I'm running late, I have to perform in a show, usually a benefit at some strange out-of-the-way place; I have to shave before I can put on my makeup, and not only is my face amazingly hirsute (like with my eyebrows fanning all the way up into my hairline, which is a really long way), but I can't find the shaving things in my jumbled, confused, messy bag; if I ever do find all of the things to get my face put on correctly, my clothes or my music are all wrong, maybe I forgot my hose or my dress is unusually short or doesn't fit or is just gone; eventually I give up and just enjoy myself at whatever event I'm attending. I'm sure this is a textbook dream that Jung or whoever could translate without even looking up from his newspaper, but I'm not so well-versed in these things.

So I consulted The Hidden Meaning of Dreams by Craig Hamilton-Parker (a gift from my good friend David), and tried to make some sense of this recurrent theme. It says that dreams about my face, particularly about makeup, have to do with the face I show the world which may be at odds with the "real me." Dreams of beards and hair in unexpected places can signify virility and male sexuality, vitality—and shaving could indicate a perceived loss of masculinity, or a feeling of being censored. The clothes, like the face, are forms of self-expression...if they're tight, I may be feeling restricted by my own self-representation, just as if they are tattered I may need to discard an uncomfortable lifestyle or outgrown attitude, or if they are failing to cover my 'imperfections' they may need to be replaced or thrown out.

The interpretation that occurs to me is that subconscious is telling me that I am castrating myself with my own self-image, that the false face I put on for the world is strangling my sexuality, and that the struggle between the two (self-portrayal and actual self) are causing my "slip to show"...but that since, at the end of the dream, I am usually accepting the situation and having a good time after all, that perhaps I'm okay with this duality because I don't take it very seriously.

Any dream-interpreters out there? What do you think about it? Do tell!

Well, my darlings, I think I shall go out and run some errands before work. After work I have a meeting and rehearsals, so it may be Now or Never.

Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Where's the Cutting Edge?

Everybody has a blog. Even Wil Wheaton. Remember him? I do. Fondly.

I think those were the shortest sentences I've written all at once in a very long time. I don't care very much for short sentences, I think they are the evil legacy of Steinbeck and Hemingway, those testosterone-spouting he-male hacks. Give me an Oscar Wilde 152-word sentence any day, a Jane Austen clause of dizzying complexity, a Marcel Proust chapter guaranteed to send its reader into a deep and dreamless slumber. Go ahead and use those big words every time you learn one (for today: Formication, the sensation of imaginary ants crawling on one's skin...not to be confused with forNication, which is loads more fun or so I'm told). See how many words and clauses you can link together and still be grammatically correct.

Returning ever so briefly to Wil Wheaton, I went over and read his website today on the recommendation of one of the members of my Gay Chatterboxes email group. It's interesting, since I only know him from his work and never heard or read an interview and had no idea what sort of person he is off-screen. How shocked I am that he is married and has children...or at least I think he's married. He talks about living with someone named Anne, and an apparent son named Nolan who seems to be 10 and plays soccer, and another person named Ryan is involved somewhere, and there's a dog named Ferris. But I'm more surprised to learn that he's not very interested in film anymore and is instead developing new avenues in Improvisational Comedy. And that he's fond of Sarcasm as a form of humor...which pretty much lost me.

I don't care much for sarcasm. It's one of the cheapest forms of wit, and the worst form of humor (no, I take that back, farting is the worst, sarcasm is the second-worst). It can be wildly entertaining in the hands of a master (Paul Lynde comes immediately to mind), but is irritating in the extreme when mangled by an amateur. And most people who enjoy sarcasm are incapable of weilding it.

But Wil seems to do a tolerable job. And he's certainly not afraid of using lots and lots of words. I like that in a man.

So I find myself in a quandary: should I feel good that I, as a blogger, am in such good company? Or should I worry that I jumped in on this trend after it had been corrupted by the masses? Whenever I hear someone ask "what's a blog?" I breathe a sigh of relief. When you can get a laugh by mentioning "blog" on a sitcom, it may be time for Little Miss Me to retire from the field. I don't like to be trendy, and I absolutely loathe being common.

Monday, January 14, 2002

The Sssshhhedule

So I had dinner with my sponsor tonight, and we've both decided that what we each need most in our lives is structure. And I don't mean the overpriced pseudo-Italian mall clothes, either. So aside from setting up a regular appointment for a weekly sponsor/sponsee phone call, I am going to develop a weekly schedule...and I'm going to stick with it, too.

First thing, I have to get up every day at the same time. Not just set the alarm, but actually get my tired naked ass out of the bed and both feet on the floor headed to the, say, 8:30am (nice round number, all circles). On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I will start the coffee, grab a big bottle of water, and do 45 minutes of aerobics before showering and dressing; on Tuesdays and Thursdays I will pray or meditate or write for 45 minutes. Maybe eat a spot of breakfast. Reward myself with a bit of TV. Then off to the office no later than 10:30 (so as to get there before 11). Once there, I will make an effort to eat my lunch at 1pm every day. But I simply cannot plan my workday very closely, since too many factors go into making up my daily workload (or lack thereof). Then out around 5:30, no later than six, unless unavoidable. Eat dinner at 7:30 (or thereabouts...I can't control that unless I do all the cooking...and really, darling, just one major lifechange at a time, ok?) Then free time, of course, until 11 pm, at which time I will get my tired naked ass back in the bed. Hopefully I'll be able to go to sleep within the hour, since the whole getting-up-in-the-morning business is best if I have my full eight hours.

That's the daily thing. On Mondays at 7 I'll call my sponsor. Tuesday at 8 is my regular AA meeting, which is generally followed by going out for coffee (note to self: no more caffeine-coffee after 7:30). Wednesday is my singing class, which will throw dinner off because it's from 6 to 9. Thursdays are "Must See TV"...that's NBC's tagline, but really all of my favorite TV shows come on Thursdays...Friends and Will & Grace on NBC, A&E's Mysteries to Die For (usually Poirot), and generally something good pops up somewhere else later on. Fridays I often go out with Caroline and/or Shiloh for dinner and a movie. There are also good AA meetings on Thursdays and Fridays, so I should make more of an effort to attend these.

Of course, Saturday and Sunday are free-form. I will sleep as much as possible. But everything else will just happen on its own. I have to have some squish-room in my life.

Well, anyway, that's my new thing: a schedule. I have never successfully instituted a schedule in my life that wasn't imposed from beyond (like school)...but sometimes you just get sick of being an amorphous procrastinating mess. And the only way to get rid of a bad habit (like messiness) is to crowd it out with a replacement habit (like neatness). And you can't "try" or "someday" things like have to "just freakin' do it and quit yer bitchin'!" I can at least make myself do it for a week...if that doesn't kill me, I'll do if for a month...and if I survive that, I'll do it for a year. Every level I survive leads to the next level until I drop dead (at which time I will get some rest).

I'll let you know how it works out, darlings.


A Matter of Style

I'm having more trouble with my watch. Regular readers will be wondering why I haven't name-dropped my watch's a Citizen, brushed steel and gold (plated...I don't like real gold, it's so expensive and it just wears away).

Someone once accused me of being a "label-whore." I took exception to the comment and denied it hotly. "So why do you always mention everything's brand name when describing every facet of your life?"

Well, darlings, when you talk about your friends, don't you use their names? My clothes and accessories are my friends, and I like to use their names. I mean, if I talked about my cordovan slipons and didn't mention that they were Giorgio Brutini kiltie mocs, it would be the same as if I was talking about my friend Shiloh and just called him "that red-head." I mean, my Hobé faux-pearl-and-rhinestone earrings are different from my Monet faux-pearl-and-rhinestone earrings.

Granted, I have a couple pairs of unsigned faux-pearl-and-rhinestone earrings, and I tend not to mention them because they don't have names. Why would I go on and on about some guy I saw on the street whose name I don't know, when I can go on and on about Daniel Goddard? I can even give you a link so you can go see if you agree with me that he's the Hottest Man on Television.

But I don't think that one label is necessarily better than another label, except insofar as one might be more recognizeable than another, and may cut down on further description. If I say "Gap chinos" most people know what I mean and I don't have to go into much detail. And you all know how I like to economize on words...

So anyway, back to the watch and it's problems. I mentioned the other day that mine is the kind without numbers, just the four cavalier little dots...the midnight/noon dot being largest so you can remember which part of the watch goes which way when you're putting it on. But the whole lack-of-numbers thing is causing me trouble lately. I don't know if it's a focus problem, or if I'm just getting stupider, but I'm having great difficulty telling time.

Today when I was at Susyn's birthday party, some Program friends were talking about going to an AA meeting at 7:30. I looked at my watch and figured it was a couple of hours until then...I could do a little shopping and grab a bite of dinner before the meeting. So I went to Tower Records on Market, and after buying a few CDs (Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee compilations, plus original cast albums of A Class Act and Wonderful Town), I went downstairs to look through the videos. While perusing a few John Waters titles, I glanced at my watch and thought "Oh, no, it's 7:20 already, I have to dash," so I left the store and absolutely flew to the Catholic high school next to Collingwood Park where the meeting was held (those readers familiar with SF's gay ghetto know that's quite a schlepp to do in ten minutes)...yet when I got to the meeting-room, there was nobody there! So I looked at my watch again...and it was only 5:30! It had been just after four when I'd checked at the party. Oy.

So anyway, I either have to practice telling time without numbers, or buy a watch that has numbers on it. But it took me so long to find this watch! It's a women's model but has an eight-inch while it fits my wrist, it's not all big and bulky like most men's watches (some of which are so chunky that the face is actually wider than my strapping a covered casserole to your arm). And even though I got my Citizen on a great sale, it was not a price that you pass off lightly and throw the watch away when it irritates you.

Oh, well...I imagine it is a concentration problem rather than a no-numbers problem. I mean, any idiot can tell the difference between 5:30 and 7:30, even if there weren't any dots at all. Most people can even tell the difference without looking at a watch, just by the lingering presence of daylight.

I have been having trouble staying focused of late. Shiny objects will actually make me forget what I'm saying. When noting a movement out of the corner of my eye, I totally cut off the people I'm talking with, completely forgetting they're there. I'll stop to look in a shop-window, and when I'm done will start walking back the way I came instead of heading towards my destination. I'll be talking to a passenger in the car and start driving somewhere completely unrelated to where we're going, like the office or my house. I hope this isn't some sort of degenerative brain disorder...I'm flighty enough as it is.

Maybe I'm just not getting enough sleep. I think I'll go get some now. À bientôt!

Friday, January 11, 2002

Scattershot Friday

I'm in the weirdest mood today. For example, I just noticed, after being at the office for three hours, that I'm not wearing my watch. Now, I know what time it is, there's a little clock in the bottom of my computer screen and a clock on the wall in front of me, not to mention three more in my sightlines on the walls of other rooms. There are clocks in the microwave and the coffee pot in the kitchen, a clock in the telephone base, and the radio DJ announces the time every now and again. And my watch isn't as accurate as all of these, being the sort that has only four trés chic dots on it and no numbers or second-hand, so when I look at it I can only guess to the nearest quarter-hour. So why should I care if I have a watch on or not?

Because I feel naked without it, that's why. And to get all the way to the office, do my morning correspondence, transcribe the messages, make coffee, eat crackers — all things that bring my left wrist into plain view — without noticing that a key accessory is missing, worries me. Next I'll be coming in without my glasses or my pants or something. "Gee, didn't you used to have a head?" my coworkers will say to me when I finally forget it.

Well, good thing it's Friday. No coworkers on Friday to see me at my worst. The boss is off-site at meetings, though she doesn't generally come in on Friday, either. I have a mailer to put out, and a couple of phone calls to make, but in general a quiet day. Perfect moment to have a total mental meltdown. To scratch my head and drool. To babble incoherently:

Woo-Hoo! I passed the hundred-hits milestone today! Quel frissonant!

I really want to see Gosford Park this weekend. I think I will. I mean, what more could I ask of a film? Fabulous English country-house, 1930s setting, gorgeous costumes, Dame Maggie Smith on the one hand and Ryan Phillippe on the's better than an orgasm!...not to mention Sir Derek Jacobi and Kristen Scott Thomas!...Stephen Fry and Helen Mirren!...Richard E. Grant and Jeremy Northam and Clive Owen! Mother, fan me with a tulip! And with all these in place, the movie itself could totally suck and I wouldn't care. But since it's a Robert Altman film, its chances of sucking are fairly low. Hell, why wait? I think I'll go see it right now! Oh, stop, I have to work until 6pm. Never mind.

I had a good thrill today when visiting Little.Yellow.Different: go check out the magic!

I just love Mermaniac! Not only does he link me up (it's such a thrill seeing your name in other places), but he points me to all these other great sites and places; he furthermore gave me a great idea for a number to perform at the next Galaxy show...more on that later, but definitely a testimonial to "Better Living Through Show Tunes." You're the best, Bill! Have a virgin mai-tai in HI for me, darling.

I'm not the only advice-spewing critter online. Following links around from my favorites to my favorites' favorites and thence to those favorites' favorites, I find all sorts of fabulous people...who end up becoming my favorites, and then it all starts again. A couple of days ago, I followed links from Philo's blog (another link to me! Thanx!) to Glacier's blog, where I found my new advice-giving heroine, Sarah at Tomato Nation (I would totally link there in my page layout, but today the very thought of HTML makes me want to scream). In her advice page, The Vine, Sarah counseled a young woman who is going through a friendship breakup similar to one I once went through...and gave her the exact advice I would have suggested. And she was a lot nicer than I would have been. The rest of the site is a great read, too. Love it love it love it!

Finally, in my neverending dual passions of whoring out my website and furnishing the world with more information about me than it could possibly want, I stumbled across a link to the Friday Five and decided to link it all up with yet more trivia about Oh-So-Fascinating Me.

1. What was your first job? Aside from baby-sitting and lawn-mowing, my first paid job was in a frozen-yogurt shop, the summer after High School graduation. I was pathetic. The bizarre Korean couple that ran the place always made us eat our mistakes: since I made a lot of mistakes, I put on quite a bit of weight, broke out in super-acne, and probably overcalcified my blood system...and of course I can no longer stand even the thought of frozen yogurt. I also got in trouble for thinking that four $20 bills made $100 (because four quarters make a dollar, so four twennies should make a c-note, right?), and depositing four twenties in hundred-dollar envelopes in the safe for a week. Though I was great with the customers, and caught on pretty quicky with the cash-register, the sandwich board, and the convection oven, they eventually fired me when they realized that I wasn't going to get any better at pouring the correct amount of yogurt.

2. How old were you when you had your first kiss? The first serious mouth-on-mouth kiss I remember was with my best friend Eva in high school...I guess I was 16. The first time I kissed a boy, I was 19...but I remember that one a lot more clearly...taste, texture, tension! Joey Papendik, where are you now?

3. What was your first car? What happened to it? My first car was a 1995 Hyundai Elantra sedan, bright red with a moon roof and a spoiler. I hated that car. What happened was that my cousin and her husband bought this car together, and then they split up; cousin couldn't afford the car on her own (they had a 1-year-deferred payment financing plan at 19.5% interest - and five more years of $350/mo payments); she went crying to our Grandmother, who convinced me (since I wanted a car and had just started working) to take the car and make the payments on it. I had that car for a year and a half, experiencing problem after problem with registration (DMV frowns on registering cars that aren't in your own name), keeping up legally-required liability insurance (insurers are also shirty about people driving cars they don't own), and the Highway Patrol (the car went 0-60 in nanoseconds and would go 90 mph without provocation, but it was bright bright red and therefore a glittering beacon to bored cops). Finally my cousin hooked up with her current husband and could afford the car again, so I gave it back to her and bought a 1981 Camaro (which was even worse, and another story altogether).

4. What was your first concert? This one's kind of embarassing: Donnie & Marie Osmond. My sister and two step-sisters were big D&M fans (remember the TV variety show, circa 1978?), and when the Yodeling Mormons went on tour, they cajoled my rather poor father and stepmother to get tickets. Then, just before the Osmonds arrived, we all came down with the chicken pox. The older stepsister and I got over it pretty quickly, having just enough self-discipline to not scratch, and my sister was healed fairly soon as well...but my younger step-sister could not and would not stop scratching herself, and was practically bound and gagged in a tub of calamine for weeks. And of course you can't take a pink mummified little girl to a concert, so I had to use the leftover ticket. I was bored out of my was, if you can believe it, even more stultifying than baseball.

5. How do you plan to spend your weekend? First, today, I have to get the Christmas storage boxes out of the attic and delete all signs of Yuletide cheer from the home. Tomorrow I have rehearsals with Ivy, Cookie, and Daisy for the upcoming Galaxy 2001 Flashback Show. After that, we're going dress shopping. After that we might go see Gosford Park (spurt, drool, see above). On Sunday I will probably have to go to church, but later on is my friend and co-performer Susyn Eunice Smythe's birthday party. Then another episode of Queer as Folk (disappointing and predictable, but I'll still walk a mile to see a nekkid man on TV).

So I guess I'd better get to it. Finish my work here in the office and get going with the weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Poaching Ann's Land

Well, the response to my Advice Column starter plea has so far been ignored...of course it's only been about a day and half since I posted it. But I'm just itching to advise! I've dumped unsolicited advice on a couple of Comments pages in my blogtravels today, but it's just not the same.

This evening as I was reading Ann Landers on the back of the Comics page of the Oakland Tribune, while eating my Campbell's Chunky Sirloin Steak and Hearty Vegetables soup with buttered white bread, I found myself snorting at the rather lame advice she shelled out today.

"I could pull better advice out of my ass," a voice in my head huffed; "Could you, now?" the other voice in my head sneered (I'm lucky when there's only two voices); "Yeah, I could...granted, Ann has her reputation as a Really Nice Person to protect, and she has a different agenda and priorities, I know she worships the institution of marriage and believes in giving in when it doesn't hurt...but I thought today's advice was really lame"; "Well, what advice would you have given, smartass?"

I wrestled with the idea of plagiarizing Ann's column for you today, but instead I will just pull-quote it with proper credit. The following exchanges, with the exception of my re-interpretation, appeared in Ann Landers' syndicated column as posted today by the Contra Costa Times:

    Published Thursday, January 10, 2002

    Lack of liquor has her spirits down


    DEAR ANN LANDERS: We dine three or four times a month with another couple, either at their home or ours. Our friends serve wine with their meal but no hard liquor. They know that I prefer a single shot of vodka, but they never offer it. They say, "Bring your vodka, as usual."

    When these folks dine at our house, I make sure to have the variety of drinks they enjoy, including things I would not normally buy

    for myself. I am slightly offended they don't do the same for me. What do you think I should do about this? --California Conundrum

    Dear California: Accept the fact that these friends are cheap, and let it go at that. (Focus on their other virtues, if they have any) Meanwhile, the next time you have dinner at their home, bring two bottles of vodka and say, "This should last a while." They will get the message, but don't expect it to loosen them up. They sound hopeless.

Dear Ann & California: Oh, really! Now, Ann, I undertand that you are working only with the information that your correspondents choose to send you, and that you have constraints on your text-space. But CC obviously should have corresponded with Judith fact, though I'm sure you don't chat much with your rivals, you should have forwarded this question to her, as it obviously has to do with etiquette.

First of all, I am concerned about this person's preference for a single shot of preference to what? The wine that the host/ess has thoughtfully chosen to complement the meal? Vodka is for cocktails, perhaps as an aperitif, but you do not drink it during dinner. And what about that "Bring your vodka, as usual" comment? This implies that the correspondent has, in the past, brought his/her own bottle of booze to someone else's house in order to have a drink of the hard stuff. Here's a question: do you routinely bring your own alcohol to social gatherings to make sure you'll have some? If so, you may have a drinking problem. I used to do that sort of thing all the time – and though I'm not very anonymous, I am definitely an alcoholic.

To bring your own booze to a dinner party, not as a gift to your host/ess, but so you'll have your own fave hooch on hand, is incredibly rude. Shame on you, Ann, for criticizing your correspondent's friends. It is California Conundrum who is socially in the wrong. And double-shame for your suggestion that CC bring even more booze next time. That's just twice as rude.

The other facet to CC's complaint is that his/her friends do not reciprocate in exact kind to his/her host(ess)ing style: though s/he goes out of the way to have the friends' favorite libations on hand when entertaining them, they don't do the very same in return. Well, California Conundrum, you never get exactly what you put out – you get what you're given. In a social situation, or a romantic situation, or a professional situation, or really in any situation that I can think of in this life, you do not get exactly the same as you give. If you did, there would be no point in giving or getting, if you're just going to end up with the same thing you started with. See? And you can't expect to get just because you gave, just as you can't give in expecation of getting: that's not giving, it's commerce.

Finally, CC, you started the whole thing by bringing your own bottle "as usual." If your host/ess knows that you're going to bring a bottle of Popov's to swill during dinner, why should s/he bother to get any? It saves some time that could be better spent cooking or cleaning or doing one's own nails. I hope your friends recognize you in the column, CC, and dump your ungrateful ass.

    Dear Ann Landers: I have been married for only two years and have two young children. I am expecting again in the spring. The problem is my meddling mother-in-law. She is overbearing, manipulative and controlling. She has already told me what I must name the baby, how to decorate the nursery, and she even called my doctor and asked if he would tell her the sex of the baby.

    My father-in-law is no better. He drives to our place whenever he feels like it and goes through our mail and bills. I recently found out that our house is in his name; he has made it clear that if anything happens to my husband, the house will go back to him.

    I want my husband to tell his parents to mind their own business, but he says this is "just the way they are." I am about to leave him, Ann. Please help me make the right choice. --Boxed In in Baltimore

    Dear Baltimore: You and your husband are overdue for a serious talk. He must understand that you come first in his life now, and he needs to be more supportive. Meanwhile, change the locks on the doors, and do not give them the keys.

Dear Ann & Baltimore: Okay, I agree that the first thing BIiB should do is change the locks and have a serious talk (not to mention serious psychotherapy) with her husband; and I agree that Hubby needs to have it pointed out that he's a man now, and that his own wife and children come first.

But this is one of those where I want to hear more from the correspondent. Two years married, and already two children and one in the oven – and she thinks her only "problem" is the in-laws? Slow down, girl! You don't have to put out every night, you know...and there's this funny little thing called Birth Control.

Next, have her parents-in-law been this freaky since she got married? Or did they wait through the courtship, honeymoon, and first two children in rapid succession before turning into the Big-Brother-Nosey-Gestapo-in-Laws? Did she not have an inkling in all this time that these people were bad news, and that they had their son completely in their domineering thrall? And how did she allow her own home to be put in somebody else's name without her knowledge? Has she no knowledge of the contents of her own deeds and properties? Can't she, personally, confront her disgusting in-laws without going crying to her obviously whipped hubby to do it for her? How does she think she's going to raise three children without the strength to tell a couple of oldsters to go screw themselves, with gestures and illustrations if necessary?

And the husband! The lamest excuse for other people I've ever heard is "that's just the way they are." Just because you can't change other people doesn't mean you have to put up with their crap. You know, a cobra will bite you and kill you if you get in a small enclosed space with one, that is just the way they are: but you don't have to get into the space. In fact, it would be deemed wise to stay as far away as possible from cobras and "the way they are."

I think, Ann, that your friend in Baltimore should leave her husband as fast as she can...maybe not permanently, but until her husband grows a spine...if not for her own sake, then for her children's: because if this guy thinks his parents' behavior is acceptable, he'll pull the same crap on his kids and their mates. And maybe she can take some time to evolve a few more vertebrae of her own. I am floored that she allowed her husband to let their home be deeded in someone else's name, even if that someone-else bought the house as a wedding gift. At the very least, she can close down the baby-factory for a little while and take a rest.

Finally, if some old lady started harassing my ob/gyn and telling me how to decorate my home and what to name my child, there would be one more bald-headed old lady limping around my town; and if some old man walked into my home and started opening up my mail, there would be a lot of hand-slapping and name-calling and threats of Federal inditements (tampering with other people's mail is a Federal felony, even opening one's own son's mail in a house that's in one's own name). Stand up for yourself, BIib, or get used to being a doormat.

So, Marlénè's prescription to both Ann and Boxed-In in Baltimore: stiffen up and don't take any crap from anybody...not your husbands, not your kids, not your in-laws, not your friendly neighborhood advice columnist, and certainly not pushy drag queens with nothing better to do with their time than tell you what's wrong with your life.


Well, that was fun, wasn't it? Maybe tomorrow I'll go poaching in Dear Abby's domain. But Miss Manners I'll leave alone: I would hate to be even remotely rude to one of my idols, especially since our names are so similar. And Dan Savage I couldn't top (though it might be fun).

Cross your legs, darling...

After yesterday's spew about the march of Right Wing Reactionary Fundamentalism in the world, as represented by Peppermint-Patty Buchanan and the Fox "News" Network, I've been thinking more about population-growth control.

This is something I could get behind as a Cause. It seems to me that there is a huge focus in this and other countries on creating or preserving more and more precious little lives with absolutely no regard for the consequences of what's going to happen when those PLLs grow up and have even more PLLs, who will grow up and...look, I'm not good at math, but I know what an exponent is.

When I turn on the TV and see Sally Struthers crying about these poor little children with distended bellies and penumbrae of tse-tse flies in Africa and South America and Asia and elsewhere, I feel great compassion for them...but then I worry what will happen if their Precious Little Lives are spared (at the mere cost of pennies a day): they will grow up and have more PLLs who will have to be saved, and so on and so forth. Famine is one of Dame Nature's harsh but effective tools for population control: the African veldts or the South American plains (or the Asian grasslands or the North American valleys or the European forests) have X-amount of resources, both naturally-occuring and cultivable; when the population of the area outstrips the amount of resources, famine happens; people die, particularly children, and the population decreases in one or two generations to more supportable proportions.

The same thing happens with wild animals. When the grass doesn't grow, the ibex starves; when the ibex dwindles, the lion starves; when the lion dwindles, the vulture starves...and with all this dwindling, nobody is eating the grass, which gets to grow back, and the whole thing starts over again. The difference is that no washed-up-TV-star American ibex convines a bunch of other ibexes in other countries to send the starving African ibexes some of their own grass, thereby allowing the African ibexes to continue outstripping their own resources, thereby becoming dependent on the foreign ibexes and their ibex governments and the handouts of free grass. Sometimes wild animals are smarter than we are. Not as nice, but smarter.

Disease is another of Nature's tools. Every medical advance that saves lives creates more people on the planet at any given moment: diptheria, polio, tuberculosis, rickets, influenza, measles, and other once-common and once-fatal diseases have been hounded into near-extinction by our fear of death and the technology that has sprung up to pander to that fear...leaving literally billions of people alive who otherwise would have died before getting a chance to screw each other and create more billions of people to grow up and create still more billions of people, et cetera. Even genetic diseases are spread and nurtured by healing the symptoms in people so that they can lead normal lives...genetic tendencies towards heart disease, neurological diseases, phsychoses, and physical malformations are 'covered over' and then passed on to the next generation, where they are covered over and passed on again.

People rejoice that infantile mortality is at an all-time low, thanks to better diets and the miraculous advances of modern medicine. But I worry. Babies that would under other circumstances pass away before passing on their possibly defective genes to another generation are now living long and productive (and fertile) lives; babies who would have otherwise miscarried are kept in utero full term thanks to new drugs, ensuring at least some resource-draining life to millions and millions of infants; couples who are unable to conceive via the terms of Dame Nature are now using drugs and procedures to force reproduction...passing on genes that Nature chose to let languish, as if Nature has no idea what she's doing. Medical science has profited and flourished by responding to our natural and inescapable instincts to survive and reproduce—by making it possible to do both beyond any rational or ethical degree, beyond the dictates of Nature herself: thereby hastening our eventual demise as a species (and knowing our species, we'll take the whole planet with us).

So, what should be done about this? I'm not one to set myself up as an expert, and then change the subject when challenged. But this is a sticky situation. You just can't tell a mother that her baby should, for the good of the planet, drop dead. You can't convince people to refuse medical procedures that would prolong their lives. You can't pass laws preventing genetically defective people from reproducing (because you then have to set up a committee to decide the definition of "defective" and then you end up with genocidal Holocausts). You can't just run out and start wars, which is Man's method of population control...less efficient than Nature's, since it kills off the hale and strong while leaving the weak and deformed to spread their weak and deformed genes (before WWII, flat arches and heart murmurs were fairly they're quite common, thanks to those who stayed home producing more children than those who fought and died). There seems to be no ethical way of stopping all this unnecessary and harmful population growth. There aren't even any really practical unethical ways of doing it.

We can, however, reduce the exponential growth by education, availability of control methods, and diverting financial resources to the problem. Children in schools are taught how to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies (so long as their parents agree to let them be taught), but are never taught about what having a child really means: that not only will this squalling creature take up your entire life, but will also take up all these resources and moneys and services...that bringing a child into the world is a grave responsibility, not a casual right. It is never suggested that perhaps having children isn't that important. That perhaps a life without children is still a full and useful and enjoyable life (not can be, but is). They are futher not taught by example that taking this responsibility lightly or abusing the trust results in serious consequences (which could happen by legislating more severe penalties for such offenses as child abuse, reckless endangerment, and rampant stupidity).

Birth control should be available to all people...not just available, but actually thrust upon them. A little saltpeter in the school lunch goes a long way. Pubescent children should be absolutely snowed with condoms, diaphragms, sponges, pills, and double-locked chastity belts. And more money should be spent on preventing birth than creating it...instead of developing fertility drugs (which I believe should be outlawed), there should be more resources funneled into developing sterility drugs. But when you try this, you get balked by the fundamentalists and the Vatican, who know that poor people saddled with a gaggle of brats who depend on your tax boons for survival can't confront and destroy you as effectively as comfortable people with plenty of time on their hands and without children to protect.

I also think that the Medicare and Welfare systems should be reconstructed to discourage reproduction. As it is, you get more money for more children...though going the other way around would be impracticable (it would be inethical to make the children suffer), there should be severe disincentives for people having more children...and that money could be channeled into incentives for people to adopt children.

Did you know that tubal occlusion is not covered by Medicare? That a welfare mom with two children cannot get her tubes tied if she wants it? I think that she should be able to have that procedure (in fact I think she should get that procedure whether she wants it or not...and that hit-and-run dads should have to submit to vasectomy to get out of stiff fines or jailtime).

But the problem is still bigger than any solution I can think of. I mean, I feel that fertility drugs should be outlawed, but also that people should be irreversibly sterilized automatically after having one child (men and women) whether that child lives or not, that people in famine-stricken countries should submit to systematic sterilization in exchange for aid, and that a worldwide campaign to stop having children should be launched with the financial and cultural support of all nations. That such measures should be kept up until people finally come to the conclusion that having children will not make them complete, that it will not give them immortality, that it will not be fun, that it is not necessary.

But none of that can happen, even in the light of my own's simply unethical to force people to abandon their cultural and natural desire to have children, to forcibly invade their bodies with birth-control devices or drugs, to force them to stand by and let their children die for the preservation of the group. So we are in an ethical dilemma, a quandary and a quagmire. There is a problem that will inevitably grow into future disaster, and there is no effective solution on the horizon.

However, there is still hope. People are beginning to understand that possessing the technology to wipe out entire countries doesn't mean that we should wipe out entire countries; from there, it is a long but possible step to understand that, just because we can prolong our lives and force reproduction, it doesn't mean we should unnaturally prolong or reproduce ourselves to the detriment of the species and the planet. Like the concept of a sun-centered cosmic system or a spherical Earth (which History reminds us were originally opposed and persecuted by the Vatican and other fundamentalist control groups), it starts in one mind, and moves on to other minds, and eventually the truth will set us free. Or else the species will come to an end, starving to death and killing each other over food and water.

But then, who are we to try and stop our own extinction? Every creature, every species, every planet, every star, every galaxy, every universe has its lifespan, which will eventually come to an end. To fight against the extinction of humanity is just as potentially misguided as fighting against my own inevitable death.

Well, now I have to think about that...

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

The Right is so wrong!

This evening after dinner, Grandmother went out to the living room to watch television while I remained at the table ensconced in my two new books that arrived today from Amazon (Gowns by Adrian: The MGM Years and Marlene Dietrich: Photographs and Memories); as I reveled in the glamour and gorgeousness of my big new coffee-table picture books, I couldn't help noticing that Grandmother was indulging in the one vice I wish to get her away from — watching The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Network (I won't provide a link — if I disapprove of Grandmother watching it, I'm certainly not going to let you). Why won't they develop a V-chip that filters out bad journalism? I loathe the reactionary, alarmist, conservative bent of that network, and I really loathe the pseudo-reasonable whining of that balding demagogue Bill O'Reilly. But what really got me was that O'Reilly was tele-interviewing that wild-eyed lunatic who tried to be President, Pat Buchannan, on the topic of his new book (The Death of America or some such tripe).

What really bothered me, besides the fact that this utter crap was being broadcast into my home, over the cable wire that I pay for, is that even Bill O'Reilly, that "No-Spin-(just-Distortion)" shill for the Power-Through-Widespread-Ignorance Conspiracy, couldn't make Buchanan sound like anything but a rube with a thesaurus and a next-day appointment for frontal lobotomy. This man not only ran for public office, but he actually had supporters! The very thought makes me queasy. And to move me from plain queasiness to throbbing heartsickness is that this freaking fool has four books in print while I have to pour out all my brilliant ideas for free in a blog.

In the brief part of the interview I heard before I had to choose between tearing the cable out of the wall or leaving the house (I chose the latter), I heard this moron state that the American Way of Life that we are currently fighting a war to preserve (oh, is that what we're doing...) was going to cease to exist within the next generation because Americans weren't having babies as fast as other people (and by "Americans," Patty-poo implies "Straight White Christian Conservatives"). O'Reilly asked if he had any solutions to suggest for the correction of this and the many other evils he cites in his book, and the old idiot did exactly what most reactionaries and fundamentalists do: he gracelessly changed the subject, hotly defending the veracity of his statistics and citations, as if the information was in itself the answer.

Ooooh, it just makes me so mad!

These people who agitate against planned parenthood, against abortion, against welfare, and against Medicare-paid birth control seem to believe that the answer to all of our problems of overcrowding, poverty, violence, and strained resources is to have more and more children...which the taxpayers should not have to support. Why is this? Do they actually believe that the world should be overpopulated? Do they believe that the poor and ignorant should continuously bear children that will starve to death in the streets of big cities? I would be very interested in hearing what logical train of ideas led these people to this bizarre conclusion.

Personally, it seems to me that if Medicare paid for birth control, abortions, and tubal occlusions (tube-ties), the pressure on the Welfare system would decrease exponentially in ensuing years...and then forty to sixty years later, those savings would relieve the Social Security system. If half the resources we use to inculcate students with skewed facts about dead history and teaching them to add sums that any microchip can do in one-millionth the time (with a million times the accuracy) was spent teaching them that having children is the biggest responsibility any living creature can undertake...and really prosecuting people who take that responsibility lightly or abuse it...then perhaps we'd see a more controlled population increase. These fundamentalists don't seem to realize that new people ("precious little lives") cost a lot money, use up physical resources like food and water, and increase the burden on institutions (such as public schools and hospitals)...and all of that expense comes out of the money and resources and institutions that those of us who are already here need...not to mention that they have to be paid for out of tax dollars that I would personally prefer to keep for my own use.

What I find funny is that Pitty-Pat's idea about third-world population explosions ending the American way of life that he currently enjoys is true: because it's not middle-class white people in the center of the country who are having all the children in America, it's the recently-immigrated, poorly-educated, socially-enfringed, economically disabled brown people who are producing the majority of children. The Minorities will become, by the end of the next decade, the Majority of our population. Those inner-city ethnic girls who the Republicans and Moral Majorities and Pro-Lifers want to prevent from having abortions and tubal occlusions and Nor-Plant on the Federal dime are the same people decrying the decline in the middle-American-white-folk-raised-on-a-farm Way of Life...and the former will outnumber the latter by quite a margin come 2020. Don't they see their own contradictions? And when you point out those contradictions, they usually change the subject.

I would feel overwhelming contempt for these people, but I'm related to a few of them...and there's so damned many of them! It makes me sick in my soul that such irrational and wilful ignorance passes as "down-home thinking" in so much of this country. That so many people point to their "faith" as if it were fact, refusing to question their own religion though they are perfectly willing to question God's will (side track: when you ask God to do specific things, you are questioning His will...God does what He intends to do whether you want it or not). That though Christ is quoted in their own Holy Bibles as demanding that you "Love your neighbor as you love yourself," they find more and more ways of hating, punishing, and hurting everyone that is different from themselves. There's just no rationality in it. And it makes me angry and sad.

Ooh, look at that...this is a very high soap-box I've climbed up onto, and the height is making me dizzy. I'd better step down now and go back to my Adrian book, to revel in the near-perfection that is our human attempts at emulating the Divine.

Do you ever have that not-so-fresh feeling?

Something that I find unusually fascinating, considering that I am a long-term celibate, is an account of the troubles and travails experienced by the sexually active. Today I have spent several extremely enjoyable hours perusing the archives of Seattle's best sex-advice-columnist, Dan Savage.

I've been familiar with Savage's work every since Shiloh bought me a copy of Savage Love for my birthday a couple of years ago (and since I was pursuing him as boyfriend material at the time, I interpreted this as a seriously mixed message) almost complete inability to identify with the questions sent in, along with my total identification with the harsh-but-inevitable logic and the really useful and well-researched information kept me entertained through three readings of this best-of compilation.

I think what impresses me most about this advisor-to-the-horny is that his advice, whether you agree with it or not, tends to cut directly to the nub of the problem, a nub that the advisee obviously hadn't seen. That's the best advice, I think: pointing out what is at the root of the problem, divorced from the personalities and emotions of the sufferer...any suggestions as to what one might do to solve the problem are completely obvious by that point.

I totally want to be an advice columnist. It's a long-time dream of mine to be a professional Advisor, to soothe the sorrows of a troubled world à la Ann Landers, Dear Abby, (the other) Miss Manners, and Dan Savage. Can I practice on you? If you have any questions about anything in my areas of expertise (etiquette, literature, fashion, aesthetics, grooming, and trivia), send them to me at; I'll then post your question and my answer here in the blog (protecting your privacy with my last breath and drop of blood). If I get lots of responses, I'll publish a new page in my homepage area devoted just to advice.

In the meantime, I shall continue my practice of posting beefcake when I don't have anything profound to say. Enjoy this Ken Haak photo of a...peach:

A mind like a steel trap...without the spring

I had something really fascinating I was going to talk about, and when I got home I headed straight for the kitchen and the computer to blog about it...but then I had to take out the garbage, and sort through the mail (new International Male catalogue!), and read my email because that's the window my browser goes to first...and now I can't remember what it was I was going to write about. Something about God and death, and something else about the ethics of pornography. But now I can't remember my brilliant insights. Hopefully they'll come back...they were pretty hot stuff.

In the meantime, rest your peepers on this lovely example of manflesh and photography:

No need to wrap him up, darling...I'll wear him home...

Sunday, January 6, 2002

Please, Make it Stop!

I have a new theory: computer geeks aren't born, they are created...and sometimes against their own wills!

I always thought that geeks were simply drawn to computers because they lacked social graces and the desire for personal interaction, bringing obsessive-compulsive Type-A hyperlinear personalities to a medium created by others of their kind. Now I believe that, while there are certainly many people born with a predilection for codes and sliderules and abstract math, other people are lured into computer-geekdom against their better judgements.

Take me, for example. I've always been a pretty artsy-fartsy, Type-B, left-brained kind of queen. Always interested in history rather than math, languages rather than sciences, arts rather than applications. Well, one day my father, who is and always has been mechanically-minded, bought a computer (1-meg hard-drive, 286-MHZ processor, DOS 3) and I discovered how fun and easy it is to draw floorplans (an old hobby of mine) on a computer with a generic CAD program. Later on, I discovered how much easier it is to write on a computer, when I sat down and wrote an entire novel in a couple of months (a really bad novel, but long and complete, nonetheless...) Then I discovered how much easier it is to do lots of other things, like keeping track of addresses and playing backgammon.

As a freshman in college, I took a word processing class as a form of occupational enrichment; by the end of the semester, I was a teaching assistant in the Business Computers department (not to be confused with those geeky Computer Sciences people), exhibiting a flair for problem-solving and for learning new applications as they came down the never-ending Microsoft slough; I eventually got a job that involved working a lot on a computer, typing and desktop publishing and keeping books and maintaining a membership database (all things I had assistant-taught in college)...

And then I met the Internet. The internet has almost nothing but the three things I love most: reading, writing, and images. I was dazzled! I was seduced! I became an internet junkie almost immediately. First it was email, then it was research, then it was artworks, and then it was porn...and I was completely addicted.

Then there was the little come-on from AOL Hometown...create your own yourself...let others get to know you's's free... So I created my first AOL Hometown Homepage. I loved it! It was like getting published, except I didn't have to go through a publisher or get criticized by professionals (or get paid). And everyone who visited my home page loved it, told me how much they loved it and how clever I was very much like applause! Soon the one page was four linked pages, then five. I updated the pages every couple of months or so, whenever I had the time to devote and something to say. And I continued emailing frantically, and then I got involved in message boards, and then the two collided in the form of personals ads. If I was more than two days away from the computer, I freaked out.

And then along came Rula Planet and her blog website. "Blogging?" I asked, "Sounds dirty, what is it?" Well, Rula told me all about it, and gave me a couple of links so I could investigate (both of which you will find in the column to your right). From those two sites I followed many other links to many other blogs. It seemed that people were writing every day about their lives, in various styles, with varying degrees of exhibitionism. Thousands, perhaps even millions of people were maintaining online works-in-progress. Some were diaries, some were commentaries, some were elaborate comedies, some were just links and references. "Hmmm," I said to myself, "this could be fun."

When Rula launched, I started blogging right away. I loved it! It was so much fun! It was a forum, with an audience even! The website was an instant hit, with phenomenal traffic, becoming a Blog of Note right away...and I got even more positive feedback from even more people than I had on my own homepage. I was hooked.

But being part of a group blog has certain constraints: my sisters weren't as prolific as I, and I didn't like taking up too much room, turning the Galaxy Girls website into my own personal diary. Eventually I decided to create my own blog to take the overflow of persiflage that I was holding back...I mean, every time I logged into Blogger, there was this little icon that said "Create your own Blog"...come's's free...

And that's when I went completely insane. God, it was only a month ago! Less than that, even! First, I had to choose a template. But there weren't very many templates that struck me as attractive, certainly not as attractive as the many other blogs I'd been reading all along. So I opened up the "edit this blog's template" button and encountered HTML for the first time. I was confused. Baffled, even. But then that old logical problem-solving that did me so much good in college came to the fore, and I started figuring it out. When I went to my favorite websites, I would right-click and select the "view source" option, opening the HTML of the page in Notepad so I could figure out what was different in this and that page. Then I started playing around with FrontPage Express, the free software that comes with Internet Explorer, which comes with Windows, which comes with most PCs (which is why Bill Gates is so damned rich, more power to him). I would make a table, or insert a graphic, or change a fontface, then go to the "View HTML" window and study it. Eventually I grasped an understanding of basic HTML jargon.

And that was the end for me. As soon as I understood HTML, the whole thing took on a tweaky-geeky feel. And ever since then, I have been obsessed with HTML and web-publishing. I spent all month futzing with this blog, working between Blogger and FrontPage to get the HTML right, making it pretty and fun for visitors. And once I declared myself finished, did I step away from the computer and find something else to do?


I decided that my old AOL Hometown pages could use a good revamping. So I started futzing and tweaking at those. I figured out how to download my old pages from AOL, then fix them in FrontPage, and upload them again into AOL's secured FTP space server. I spent a good deal of Friday at the office working on the homepage. And then I came home and started working on the Bio page. And today I totally revamped the Gallery page and the Favorites page.

It was this last one that really brought home to me what a total geek I have become. My old Favorites page had a few paragraphs about what I like to do on the web, where I like to go off the web, who I like to read in libraries and what I like to listen to on the radio. Now, however, it is the biggest collection of hard-sought links I've ever seen. Every 'Person' I listed in my favorites page has a website reference that I hunted down with the help of Lycos & HotBot, Yahoo!-Search, and Ask Jeeves. Every Place in my favorites was searched as well, yielding quite a few results before I made myself stop. I was about to start looking up pictures for favorite vacation spots and recipes for favorite foods, when I finally decided that I had better publish it and get it out of my hair while I still had some hair left.

And now, after sitting in front of my home computer for twelve straight hours, breaking only to potty and to eat one meal, I have had it. I am going to go do some serious left-brainy, nonlinear, cool-not-geeky stuff. I'm going to go watch late-Saturday-night television, then get in bed alone and read Lord of the Rings...

Oh, God, it's too late.

I'm a geek.