Thursday, May 31, 2007

Portrait of two

Anna just presented me with this picture - it's our portrait. Notice that my hair is both brown AND gray - especially on the sides where it is certainly the most gray.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Good boys never win

Heidi said something to me tonight that really rang true. A bit (just a bit) of back story. Work is stressing me out a lot these days - and as a consequence, I feel tired A LOT of the time. And frankly, I'm tired of feeling tired. I'm tired of feeling like that passion has been drained out of what I do and that life is a series of motions that one must go through to be rewarded at the end. I am not certain where my passion is - I mean, I know that I can't write a blog and get paid what I get paid being a pharmacist even though I do feel rather passionately about this little space on the internet.

But what she said was "You spend a lot of energy on maintaining that good boy shell that you think everyone wants to see." And you know what? She's right. I have spent my whole life being a "good boy." I have expended vast amounts of energy in my life toward not getting in trouble and doing the right thing and not making waves. I would like to say that I'm ready to say "Fuck that! Let's have some fun." But I am me, and of course I can't just do that. But that's not to say that there isn't a compromise in there somewhere.

Me being me, I immediately thought of the Blondie song "Good Boys" from their criminally underrated The Curse of Blondie. Especially the chorus.

Good boys never win
Good boys always follow
Good boys never win
They all fall away and you remain.

And there's some truth in those incredibly simple pop music lyrics. The good boy is a shell - there's so much more beneath it. And if I could just get that to fall away, there's something else pretty amazing under there. I have spent a good majority of my life trying to figure this out, and I'm sure that this is not going to be the end of it - I'm a work in progress, after all - but it is something to bear in mind anyway.

Perhaps if I spend less energy being the things other people WANT me to be, I won't feel so tired.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

*sigh* Yet another zombie post

I know that the real honest-to-God blogging has been light these last few days - but I figure this is better than nothing. Heidi sent this link to me this morning with the subject line "I ain't blogging this" but followed with the text "but you can if you want to" in the body of the e-mail. And of course, I must.

Personally, I think they should have used the Tiffany version - it would have upped the camp factor. Although honestly, can zombies be campy?

Yes Virginia, they can.

RuPaul and zombies - now there's a match made in heaven.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Because you know I can't resist

And besides, I'd hate to disappoint MLW (my lovely wife):

45%Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

My biggest problem was no firearm experience.

Ryan, I fully expect you to do this and comment on how you did!!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New Debbie

Deborah Harry is one of those artists that I wish could record forever - and certainly more often. I was thrilled with her duet with Moby that was released late last year, and was even more thrilled when I found out she was going to be on the True Colors Tour with Cyndi Lauper and Erasure (among others) this summer - a show I will actually be attending in Chicago come June 12th.

But perhaps the best news of all is that she's releasing a new solo CD in August called Necessary Evil. It comes a full 14 years after her last solo album - the underrated Debravation. While Debbie's solo stuff is very much an acquired taste, I think it is simply divine. The best $3.88 that I ever spent was on the Def, Dumb & Blonde CD in the cut out rack at Camelot. Combined with Erotica, it made for some great musical memories from the fall of 1992. Debravation took a little bit of time to get into, but ultimately, I think it's a great record as well and also one that never fails to remind me of my undergrad at U of Iowa.

The kickoff single is streaming at her myspace page - it is very catchy and will hopefully be performed on the True Colors Tour. The most amazing part of all this is she is SIXTY ONE years old! That's only one year older than my mom and dad. That seriously blows my mind.

So between this news and the new Kylie Minogue leaks, I'm a very happy man. It removes the bad taste in my mouth that was left by "Hey You."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pomp and circumstance

Today was Anna's preschool graduation day - actually, it was the first of two, since she's in both the Monday/Wednesday/Friday class and the Tuesday/Thursday class. I switched into the evening shift today at work so that I could go - it's another in my long line of one shot things having only one child so I wouldn't have missed it for the world. A preschool graduation may seem like a trumped up event, but seriously, it isn't. Not after having been through one.

Honestly, we couldn't possibly have been luckier in a preschool experience for Anna. The teachers have been great and over time, I've seen her develop both intellectually and socially, the latter being the biggest part of why we sent her to preschool in the first place. I'm not all that worried about her academically - she's always been a smart cookie, but we really wanted her to start to learn how to interact with other kids before she gets thrown into the culture shock of preschool.

We showed up for the graduation at about 10:30 - running a bit late as Heidi's yoga class ran a bit long. They were singing songs and performing for the parents but it wasn't long before the graduation ceremony was set to begin. They had hats and tassels and diplomas and the whole nine yards. Anna comes out from the back after getting ready and I couldn't get her to look at me so that I could take her picture - this is odd as she's not usually camera shy. It didn't take us long to figure out that something was wrong - especially when the tears started to flow like a river. It was so bad that she couldn't even stand in line with the rest of the preschoolers. I finally talked her into accepting her diploma if I went up and held her hand, which she did, even though she cried the entire time.

Had life given me any child other than Anna, I might have been frustrated and even embarrassed that my child who will be going to kindergarten in the fall was reduced to a pile of tears and emotion by something that she couldn't even name (the only thing I've been able to get out of her was "I was afraid to go up in front of hundreds of people" which was poppycock because there were probably 20 people there!) But instead, I took a page from my father's playbook, since he had a kid like me. When I was a kid, I used to stand up in the front of the church and while the rest of the kids were singing, I was up there crying. He just smiled and said "That's my kid all over."

And that is my kid all over. She is her dad's daughter in many ways and I think the biggest gift I will be able to give her as she gets older is the gift of "it's okay to feel sad and cry, even Dads cry sometimes." As much as I bemoan her growing older - as she's growing up so much faster than I ever though she would - I see nothing but good times ahead. I'm no fool - I know that there will come a time that I stop being coolest dad ever and become dorkiest dad ever, but hey, I'm already a cool mix of that already.

But this post is not about me, it's about my daughter of whom I could not possibly be prouder. Anna, your Dad loves you very much and will always be there for you, even when you don't want him to be.

(And yes, the outfit was picked by Anna herself - you do not get in the way of the Indigo child's fashion choices.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

There's a first time for everything

I have never once blogged about American Idol - well, that's not entirely true because I did blog my complete and utter surprise at how much Taylor Hicks' CD totally surpassed my incredibly low expectations, but I have never blogged the actual show at all, which is amazing because it seems like all my blog friends watch it religiously. I mostly can't be bothered to remember that it's on, but thanks to Yuri who posted Blake Lewis' performance of "Mack The Knife" a while back, I took more than a passing interest in Idol this season. I have decided that it is not a sad thing that I have all of Blake's mp3s from this season - while he's certainly not the most vocally gifted contestant on the show this year, there's more to the performance than just the vocals (as this fan of Madonna's live shows knows.)

Anyway, I ACTUALLY WATCHED THE LAST 20 MINUTES OF THE FINALE tonight. I know, I can hardly believe it either. Mostly, I can't believe that I remembered it was on. In any event, as everyone knows by now, Blake did not win. But really, I think that will serve him well. Jordin Sparks might have been a more powerful singer, but Blake is the better pop star, which really, in my world is all that matters. And he also won't be subject to the years and years of Idol slavery that the winners seem to have to endure. Finally, wasn't coming in second the best thing that ever happened to Clay Aiken. (And before you ask, yes, I have Clay's debut and yes, it's better than it has any right being - and my sister agrees with me on this point.)

I look forward to buying Blake's CD when it comes out, which we all know it will. I'm sure that he'll land a record deal before the week's out and hopefully, he'll get to work on an album before all that much longer. And at least I won't have to worry about that truly dreadful "This Is My Now" being on there.

(PS - can I just say how glad I am that Blogger automatically saves drafts now?! I nearly lost this by inadvertantly navigating away from the page - in the old days, I'd have had to recreate it but not this time!)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Let's go to the movies, let's go see the stars

Anna went to Shrek the Third with a friend yesterday, thus sparing me the necessity to sit through that movie (at least until it is on home video) Anyway, she got all dolled up for the event. Witness:

I think my favorite accessory is the spider ring which was sadly lost on the floor of the theater (I tried to tell her!)

Anyway, when she got back from the movie, and I asked her how it was, she summed it up like this. "Shrek was going to be king, but Arthur was and the baby barfed." I don't know if that spoils anything or not, and if it does, you understand my 5 year old better than I do.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The more things change

Every week, the Ames Tribune prints a picture from the archives - kind of a "down memory lane" feature. And some of these photos are just terrific. About 6 weeks ago, they published this one, which just floored me. It's a shot looking across what is now Lincoln Way in Ames and up Welch Avenue - aka Campustown in these parts.

What's amazing about this picture is that even though it was taken nearly 100 years ago, you can still the modern day Campustown in the picture. But don't take my word for it - see for yourself. I took this picture today. It's not exactly the same vantage point, but it's the closest I could get.

Not even a hundred years have passed between those two photos - the first was taken around 1911 - but just look at the change. It boggles the mind if you think about it too hard.

Of course, doing this reminds me of this photo essay showing Chicago then and now.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

For the love of blogging

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I really do adore my blog. Not to put out my shoulder while I pat myself on the back, but I am so proud of it. It's something that I have made completely by myself - there are no other authors, and while I have clearly been inspired by others, what I choose to write about is always driven by what I want to write about, not by what I think others want to read. I've been keeping this blog for nearly 4 years now - it'll celebrate it's 4th birthday in September - and there's been a lot of changes in those 4 years. Looking back through the archives, you can see evidence of that. That and discussion of some of the most fucking fabulous music on the planet.

As a blogger, I'm probably not the most interesting writer in the world, nor do I update daily like so many others do. I have a small but die-hard group of readers (hi guys!) and, as Paul from thezapping so frequently says, I'm amazed that there's anyone out there that even reads this stuff, let alone takes the time to comment on it. And for that, I am very grateful. This blog started out as just for me, and then it expanded little by little. And no, it won't ever reach the upper echelons of Technorati or whatever, but I don't really want that anyway.

Blogging has become a very important thing for me - something I think about at various times during the day. Events are deemed blogworthy (sponge-worthy?) or not blogworthy. Some things that are blogworthy never end up being blogged. The ship sails so-to-speak. But I do enjoy being able to write and have a small audience. I journaled for years and years - and I never dreamed that I would do something similar (note: journaling DOES NOT AND SHOULD NOT equal blogging) in such a public forum. Sometimes I get nervous about stuff being on the net for all to read. But mostly, it just keeps you in check - you don't say anything on the blog that you wouldn't say in real life. That's a pretty simple rule. And never ever blog about work in specifics. And sometimes, even generalities could get you in trouble.

Heidi bought me a shirt that I saw on the back of Wil Wheaton's absolutely great book Just A Geek. When I saw him wearing it, I knew I had to have one. Here, have a look (the pic is a bit blurry, but that's life.) Beware if you're around me - you just might end up here.

So tonight, I'm listening to the fantastic new Sophie Ellis-Bextor album thanks to XO. Go here to read his review.


I have read And The Band Played On... twice before, and I picked it up again this morning before I took Anna to dance class. And this is a bad thing because I have a book on hold at the library and a book that I only just started but am abandoning. This is to be expected, as this book grabs you from the very first page and doesn't let go of you until you finish it. I know that I have blogged this book before, but I just don't think enough can be said about this book.

The book opens by describing the death of Rock Hudson from AIDS and how it became a demarcation in American history - before that was America before AIDS and after that AIDS became a part of American history, for better or for (mostly) worse. Of course, this is completely wrong, as AIDS had killed thousands of people before Rock Hudson gave it a popular face and woke the rest of America up to a plague that was killing young people in the prime of their life. The difference is that before, instead of killing a famous movie star, it was killing what was perceived by most people as killing a part of the population that most would have rather had go away anyway.

Reading this book for the first time in 1995 marked a demarcation in my history as well. Prior to reading the book, AIDS was a casual interest in the way that I listened when it came on the news. After reading this book, I was appalled at the lack of action early in the epidemic when something could have been done, the criminal negligence of the blood industry and the unforgivable ignorance of the Reagan administration while people died by the thousands. It marked the first time in my life that I was truly passionate about something and while that passion may have faded over time, it's being resurrected big time these days. I am more convinced than ever that this is where my calling is and I am going to find a way to make it happen. I cannot move from where I live at this point in time, but it gives me something to aim for - and it also helps me deal with the daily drudgery that is what I do sometimes.

As that Post Secret postcard said so many months ago - Fuck convention. I want to make a difference.

This book never fails to get me fired up - mostly because it paints such a vivid picture of the early days of the epidemic. I get almost a visceral reaction to it - I get mad, I cry, I am overjoyed at times. No book that I have ever read has been able to do that to me time and again. (I would have said that John Irving at his best could accomplish that, but I am so over Irving that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to read him again.) What makes this book so powerful is that it is REAL and it actually happened. There is a lot of criticism of the book as being left-leaning and biased and this is inevitable - a human being cannot write about something like this an NOT be biased, especially someone like Randy Shilts who was so enmeshed in the gay community at the time. Shilts suffered hatred from his own community, with his work being characterized as "internalized homophobia." His description of Gaeten Dugas as Patient Zero has also come under considerable fire. But in the end - it's the history of the time period that he documented that remains. And it's a roller coaster ride.

If you haven't read this book, read it. If it doesn't make you outraged, check your pulse.

To say this book changed my life is not an overstatement. It's the truth.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday 13: Peer pressure edition

Because Heidi and Caryle have done it, I am going to do it as well. I chose to do it from my iPod as it has a smaller pool of songs to pick from and is less likely to come up with exceptionally obscure stuff.

13 Random Songs from my iPod

1) Teenage Hustling (Tori Amos) - A track from Tori's new CD. I'm not really what you would classify as a Tori fan, but I can appreciate her work. Her last album was best described to me by a friend as "a great album, only you have to find it amidst 23 songs." There are some really strong tracks on this CD, and "Teenage Hustling" is one of them.

2) When You Walk Away (Cher) - This was from Cher's most recent album Living Proof which was an unforgiveable 5 years ago. Come on, Cher! Get with it and record again! What I love most about this song is that it kind of marries Cher's disco diva persona with the bombastic song style of the faux metal era. I love it even though it's Diane Warren dreck - Cher redeems it, as only Cher can.

3) Am I The Only One (Dixie Chicks) - One of those songs from the Chicks' debut that Heidi has completely forgotten about. I love Martie's fiddle - I think it's probably my favorite thing about the Dixie Chicks. Plus there's something really raw about their major label debut - as calculated as it may be - that is appealing. Ah, the days before their name became synonymous with political controversy.

4) Touched By An Angel (Stevie Nicks) - This is one of those odd soundtrack tracks that Stevie has done throughout her career - this one from the film Sweet November - which Jeff likes and as far as I know, is the only person to have liked that movie. I love Stevie's vocals on this track - especially in the chorus - I have a whole blog post that I'm going to do someday regarding recent Stevie Nicks (i.e. everything post 1989, if that qualifies as recent) but that is still being written.

5) Once Upon A Summertime (Blossom Dearie) - Oh, I just love Blossom, with a voice that was once described as not being able to reach the second story of a dollhouse. But I love it. I've blogged Blossom before, but she just bears repeating. She is 81 years old and still performing in New York City and London. She is on the short list of people I must see before I die (or more likely, before she dies.) From what I've heard, she still sounds like she did all those years ago.

6) Something About You (Level 42) - This is a defining 80s single for me. Although it also has a dual memory for me because I remember listening to Level 42's best-of set at a friend of a friend's house in 1995 and it led me to purchase it myself. So many 80s songs have that dual memory - the original one associated with the initial release, and a corresponding memory to being out at a bar on 80s night.

7) Rain In Spring (Casey Stratton) - Just prior to the release of The Crossing, Casey released a motherlode of B-sides from his 1997 project Lily Sleeps. And...sssshhh!...there are a lot of songs on here that I like better than the ones on The Crossing. But that's just me. This is a gorgeous song. I love how the chorus seems to change key - almost from minor to major, but I could just be dreaming there.

8) Alive Again (Cher) - Geez, another one from Living Proof? Really, Living Proof got the short end of the stick. In many ways, it's a better record than Believe. But when you think about it, "Believe" (the song) was kind of a novelty despite the fact that it is a great dance track. The fact that Cher had to be dragged practically kicking and screaming to record a dance record is really amazing to me. Honestly, what's left for her to do in her career? And have I mentioned that she needs to be recording again soon?

9) Come Back With My Heart (Bananarama) - For years, the only copy of this I had was one that I had converted into an mp3 from the cassette tape of WOW! Now that all the Bananarama albums have been treated to a remaster, I finally have this song in pristine quality again. Honestly, Bananarama have always been much more of a singles act than an album act - a little bit tends to go a long long way with me.

10) Solitude (Casey Stratton) - This is yet another track from the Lily Sleeps B-Sides project. Casey's ability with a lyric always gets me - as I've detailed here numerous times - and this one is no exception. "Yesterday's baggage is drenched by the power of our hurricane/Something is dying." A bit over the top, but I think that's one of the things I love most about Casey. This song also uses the lower end of Casey's register on the first verse, which is so nice to hear as we so rarely hear it.

11) Hole In My Head (Lucy Kaplansky) - I first knew this song via the Dixie Chicks, but I almost like Lucy's version better. Whenever I listen to Lucy Kaplansky, I think of two things: that she is a freaking Ph.D. in clinical psychology and gave it all up for music (go Lucy! for chasing your dream!), and how Heidi inadvertantly wrote "Lucky Kaplansky" on the CD-R we made of stuff of hers we bought from iTunes.

12) Only In My Dreams (Debbie Gibson) - OK, go ahead and laugh, but you know you like it.

13) The Highwayman (Stevie Nicks) - This song is the fabulous closer to Bella Donna. And it's a perfect closer to this list of 13 songs. He the glory, she the love, and still they try again.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In place of a proper blog post

I have all these blog posts that I keep meaning to write, but every night after work I am just too fried to compose intelligent sentences and paragraphs. I have 100+ posts in Google Reader to read and aside from friends' blogs, not much is getting read. So this will have to do in the meantime.

1) I listened to Fergie's version of "Barracuda" which is on the soundtrack of the upcoming Shrek the Third. I pretty much agree with Popwatch's assessment of it. Honestly, it makes me want to go listen to Ann Wilson belt it out, even though Fergie is practically channeling Ann Wilson on the track. It's probably one of the most unnecessary remakes ever, as it adds nothing to the song and the song was practically perfect in each and every way already. Plus it was used to great effect in Charlie's Angels. But perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that in the comment section of the post over at Popwatch, there are people who haven't heard the original. Seriously, these people have been deprived.

2) Anyone who has not seen Anna and Heidi's haircuts simply must go here to view them. According to Heidi, one of the dance mothers looked disapprovingly at it today and even suggested extensions for Anna's hair for the recital. Get real.

3) I talked to the famous Mike on Sunday for the very first time (cue Madonna's wo-oh-oh-oh-oh-OH!) and it was a fabulous time! Skype was free all around the world on Sunday (most likely in honor of Mother's Day) so we called and talked for an obscenely long time about everything under the sun.

4) That Zodiac review is still coming. One word: fantastic. Now I have to go read the book, blast it all. Good birthday idea.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Here's the story...

...but not of a lovely lady bringing up three very lovely girls. It's the story Anna made up this afternoon with some of the horror/pop culture figures in my basement office. Meet the players.

For those of you that need help, from left to right it's Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, a random stegosaurus, the Alien Queen, Flyboy Zombie and the King of the Dead. Notice how Mulder and Scully are ramping up the sexual tension by being wrapped up together by the tail of the Alien Queen.

The story, per Anna, went something like this. Mulder and Scully were trapped in a room filled with these monsters. The stegosaurus was the baby of the Queen Alien, the King of the Dead was blocking one of the exits, and the Nerds that had been spilled on the floor were filled with electricity such that you couldn't touch them without getting shocked. My job was to play Mulder because, of course, I had to be the boy. Mulder was required to negotiate their release from the Alien Queen by talking to the stegosaurus who would then plead with the Queen to release them. This was not about to happen, as the steg was also bad as well. Mulder was shocked by the Nerds several times, but eventually, they escaped back to the office by walking carefully around the Nerds.

Once they got back to the office, there was Flyboy Zombie blocking their way. This was when Anna asked me the question that I've been waiting for..."Daddy, how do you kill a zombie?" Well, my dear, I answered, you shoot them in the brains!! So she tried to do this, but she said that she didn't have enough power (as Scully) so it fell to Mulder. It kind of fit in with the whole Scully-in-jeopardy theme that is prevalent in many X-Files episodes.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Movies, movies everywhere

Zodiac is at the dollar theater here in town, and I am bound and determined to get to it. I missed it in its initial run (as I think most people did) but it did intrigue me. It has all the right ingredients for me - a serial killer, late 60's/early 70's period piece and favorably reviewed psychological drama. I guess it just never intrigued me enough to plunk down 8 dollars for it. A dollar and a half is a completely different story, however. I'll see just about anything for that price - and based on some of the movies I've seen there (i.e. Robots, Silent Hill) that is pretty much the truth. So hopefully, at some point in the day tomorrow, I'll make it out there for that.

We met up with Caryle and Kathy today in Des Moines, and apparently they all went to see Spiderman 3 last night. Of the four of them that went, not a one gave it a good review. That was the final nail in the coffin for that movie for me - if I see it in the theater at all it'll be at the dollar theater. From the sounds of it, what the first two Spiderman movies did right, this one does all wrong. And that's too bad, because there really isn't a better comic book movie than Spiderman 2. I loved that movie so much when it came out - but I'd already been thinking of taking a pass on this one based on the exceptionally negative reviews I've read and heard.

And 28 Weeks Later came out this weekend. It's a zombie movie (well, sort of - zombie purists don't think so) so you know I'll eventually see it, and the only thing keeping me from going right away is the fact that IT'S ONLY 91 MINUTES LONG!! If I'm going to pay 8 bucks for a movie, it has GOT to keep me in the theater longer than that. I will probably see it at some point, but that is just a lot of money to spend.

There was a time when Heidi and I went to about everything that came out - now it has to be a very special movie for us to go see it in the theater. Part of it is because I simply cannot stand how rude people are in theaters these days - talking through the whole movie with no regard for the people sitting around them is the worst part in my book. I think it has a lot to do with the home video generation - people just always think that they're at home and they can do a MST3K commentary with no repercussions to anyone else. I'm not even that excited for the next Harry Potter movie - mostly because I really didn't like the 5th book at all - but because I know that the audience will be awful! I know that's just heresy to not be excited for that movie, but it's true.

And while we're on the subject of heresy, I really couldn't possibly care less how Harry Potter ends. Honestly, someone could just tell me and save me the trouble of reading the book and I'd be fine with it. I'm with Heidi - I'm convinced she's going to screw it up anyway.

I'll be sure to post a mini-review of Zodiac once I see it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Follow your bliss

The late, great Joseph Campbell was always fond of saying "follow your bliss" and the ginormous rewards that come from doing so. As he said (via the Jospeh Campbell Foundation site):
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are -- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.

I always have a hard time believing this, even though on a gut level, I know it to be true. We are never happier than when we are doing what we want to do - what we have a burning internal desire to be doing, that about which we are truly passionate. We have had two people quit at work this week, both to go and do other things that will hopefully make them happier, and I have been the one of the first people to, rather than bemoan their loss, to tell them that they need to do what makes them happy, that I was happy for them for taking control and doing what they felt they needed to do in what may (or may not - who knows?) be following their bliss.

However, I am completely shitty at taking my own advice. There are many days where I do not feel a connection to a well of energy in what I do on a daily basis in my work. Sometimes it's the job, sometimes not. Mostly it's an internal thing - nothing to do with the rest of the world. There are times that I just know that I'm not doing what I was placed on the planet to be doing. And it frequently gets to me. A lot. Especially recently, as the weather's gotten nicer and it's harder to be cooped up in a job when all you want to do is be outside.

I just can't get the image of that pharmacy in Boystown, Chicago out of my head - the one that offered comprehensive HIV care. For some reason, I'm drawn to that kind of work. I have no practical experience in it, but for so many reasons, I feel like working with the gay community would be so satisfying. Not only do I have a lot of gay friends (and I don't say that to show how progressive I am - it's just that so many of the people I have come across online that I am proud to call friends happen to be gay) but I also feel like, oddly enough for a straight man, they are my tribe. I have a feeling that the last thing in the world a gay man needs is a straight man telling him that he understands how he feels, but in many ways and, in the interest of brevity, too complicated to go into here, I sometimes feel like I do. And I think that providing that kind of care to those who have unfortunately contracted HIV - regardless of orientation - would be a provide my life with a bit more purpose than I sometimes feel.

So many times, I'm willing to give up everything for someone else or something else - but isn't it time that I started looking out for myself? Didn't I vow in January to be braver this year? Notice, that was braver, not dumber - things still have to fall into place a little bit before I could do anything as crazy as contemplate a job change. I mean, I'm not *seriously* thinking about a job change, but don't most people my age and of my generation always have a feeler out there, just testing the waters, so-to-speak.

The feelers are out there, and I'm testing the waters. I don't know - I know that I can be more fulfilled in my work, but as Annie Lennox says so eloquently, it won't show up in the pavement cracks.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I see London, I see France

Today started off rather poorly - it was an early morning and I dreamt like crazy which always leads me to feel like I didn't sleep at all. So I got up and was kind of cranky and tired while I got ready. I was running late as it was, and I couldn't stop focusing on how tired I was and how I was going to look back on this period of time in my life and all I'll be able to remember is how tired I was all the time blah blah blah *insert boring melodrama here*. So I left the house in a supremely cranky mood, and as I walked down the street, I was just sure this was the start of a bad day.

I'm walking down 9th Street on my way to work and before you hit the main drag that runs north/south through the middle of town, there are lots of very nice houses before hitting a stretch of rental properties occupied by and large by Iowa State students. And in the immaculately kept lawn of one of these very nice houses was a large pair of men's white cotton briefs. Underwear. On the lawn.

I took this as a sign from the universe - as if it were daring me to have a bad day and saying, as we frequently do to Anna when she's cranky, "don't laugh or anything" which inevitably leads to peals of laughter. I wish I had had a camera phone or something, because now, looking back on it, I almost don't believe it happened. But I swear that it did!

The underwear was gone by the time I walked home at 3:30 today. And my day had been so much the better for that pair of lost underwear, whose story I really wish I knew.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

All right already! I'm mowing!

I know that I've mentioned on numerous occasions how much I can't stand mowing. It is so worthless because all the grass does is grow back. We're rapidly heading into the season where things just don't stop growing, which just serves to irritate me because the backyard can turn into the forest moon of Endor overnight. My brother, oddly enough, has the opposite problem - nothing grows in his backyard no matter how hard he tries. Granted, he does live in a desert, but who's keeping track of that.

So tonight was the inaugural mow, and while I can't say that I enjoyed it, it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be. The smartest thing I ever did was stop bagging the clippings. Now, I just let them shoot out all over the yard, and yeah, sometimes when I go a long time between mows, you could seriously use a baler, but who gives a shit, right? I'm not one of those mindless suburban dudes that obsesses constantly over how long the grass is. Anyone who has an issue with the length of the grass in my yard (which is never all that bad - I mean, it's not like the beginning of Little House on the Prairie or anything) can come and mow it themselves thankyouverymuch.

If I seem cranky, it's because mowing is the last goddamn thing I want to do after I've worked all day. I know that some people get a huge amount of satisfaction out of an immaculately kept lawn. Not feeling that here, folks. I get much more satisfaction out of cleaning the kitchen (which is an equally Sisyphean task, for as soon as you're done doing all the dishes, someone inevitably comes into the kitchen and sets a dirty dish by the sink.)

As a reward to myself for a job well done, I put on Lisa Stansfield who I haven't listened to in an age. I picked up her CD Affection from the library this week - I had purchased that on cassette back in 1990 when "All Around The World" was hugely popular and inescapable on radio. I forgot how good that album was!! I think it's likely to be in heavy rotation this week - I may even have to save up a little bit of money for her best-of set of which I have several songs already, but you know! I'm really grooving on it - and as a special treat, here's the video for one of my faves, "You Can't Deny It." I remember walking around Swan Lake listening to this song - too bad it didn't chart nearly as well as "All Around The World" did.

And with that, I'm going to give "All Around The World" a listen and hit the sack.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Oh Babs!

I can't decide if this is the worst or the best recent picture of Barbra Streisand that I have seen. On one hand, it's a candid paparazzi shot, so it's not like it's posed with Barbra in full makeup and wardrobe, and I'm relatively certain that the airbrush (which is applied quite liberally to photos of her these days) has not been utilized. Barbra has also rather obviously gained some weight since the mid 90s, so it's definitely not her at her most glamorous.

On the other hand, what I think I do love about it is that it's very much the portrait of a woman that is comfortable with getting older and is no longer interested in playing the Hollywood glamour game. She's 65 years old for Pete's sake and certainly can't keep up with the young starlets now. I think that I kind of admire her for not doing that, for recognizing where she is at this point in her career. As she has so frequently said, there she is flaws (and double chin) and all.

And besides, these skinny anorexic (in some cases, they really are anorexic) things that try to pass as beautiful really don't do much for me. Give me a real woman any day over those stick insects (oops, went all Bridget Jones there for a second!)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Love, Sex and Marriage

I know it's odd to say, but had it not been for Madonna's Sex book, I might not be married - at least not to the fabulous woman to whom I am married today. Back in 1992, when the Sex book came out, 50 bucks for a book was just too much to spend - even if it WAS Madonna. I was a poor college student and actually, was a bit on the outs with Madge at that point - having truly hated "This Used To Be My Playground" and been underwhelmed by "Erotica" as a kick-off single. I vowed that I would not be immediately purchasing Erotica when it was released and would certainly not be purchasing the Sex book because of its exorbitant price tag. Well, all it took was a clip of "Fever" and "Deeper & Deeper" on Entertainment Tonight and I was hooked. I had to go purchase the album the next day - which I did after class and spent most of the rest of the weekend drinking it in.

But no Sex book - although Jeff did buy it and I ultimately saw it thanks to him. And I was able to live without it for many years. Camille Paglia is, unfortunately, right - it has all the production values of a high school yearbook. We had all seen Madonna naked before, and while there are some absolutely fabulous pictures in it, most of them are not the greatest and as far as being erotic goes, well, it mostly isn't. And in addition to all this, there's the VERY IRRITATING tendency for the spiral binding to break and the book to fall apart. Pretty shoddy workmanship for a fifty dollar book, I daresay.

Flash forward to 1996. I had a part time job during Christmas break working as a pharmacist at a small rural clinic near my hometown. I was making money like I had never made money before, and I decided that it was high time that I procure a copy of Sex. Now, bear in mind, this was in the days before eBay, so I went to and the Madonna listserv that came out of Michigan and put up an ad on there saying that I was looking for a decent copy of the Sex book - it didn't have to be sealed as I was going to open it anyway, but I did want the Mylar wrapper and the CD single of "Erotic" that came along with the book. I got some replies, but not many, and most of the people told me that I wasn't willing to pay near what the market was demanding for the Sex book at the time. Finally, I struck a deal with a guy - I'd pay 150 dollars for a sealed U.S. version of the book which was pretty standard at the time (and apparently now as well, given a quick eBay search.) Well, as it turns out, the guy ended up calling me at home and saying that he was sorry, but he THOUGHT he had the U.S. version, but what he really had was the French version - he told me he'd sell it to me for 75 dollars and call it a deal. Me, I didn't care - I just wanted a copy of the book, and plus, with some of the text in French - what a cool bonus! It showed up on my doorstep about a week later (along with a money order for 75 dollars refunding me the difference - what a man of his word) and I was so glad to finally have this piece of Madonna memorabilia.

Now what I've so far left OUT of the story is that Heidi and I had just started dating at the time - we were maybe two months into our relationship and since we were moving as slow as a glacier, we were still in the very early stages of our relationship. In any event, my naive self asked her one night - "hey, I just got the Sex book, would you like to look at it?" Now, had cooler heads prevailed (or at least ones not clouded by the giddiness of new love) I would have known that that that was probably not the best thing to say to a girl you had just started dating. Well, fortunately, I didn't have to worry about that with Heidi. As Whitney Houston once said, it wasn't right, but it was okay.

As it turns out, Heidi told me later that my procurement of the Sex book and resultant excitement in sharing it with her was one of those things that started sealing the deal. I guess she thought that I was just a little too much of a "nice guy" and to know that there was this whole weird undercurrent in me - one that was totally unexpected and did not fit in with the "nice college educated boy to bring home to mother" was exciting and put me in a whole new light. And it's funny, that undercurrent in me mirrored and complemented the weird undercurrent in her. The fact that we can be weird together is something that we frequently take solace in. And besides, what is marriage and true intimacy if you don't know your partner through and through?

It's funny - I get similar reactions from people when they find out I'm a Madonna fan, as if it doesn't fit with their preconceived notion of who I am or who I should be. That used to bother me, but now I revel in it.

I still have the Sex book. I don't bring it out very often - except when we have company and someone is interested in seeing it. And yep, the spiral binding is in the process of breaking, but it was still a VERY wise 75 dollar investment. If you're really interested in seeing it and NOT paying 150-200 dollars, go here.

Je m'appelle Dita.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Get ready to jump

Anna's preschool talent show was on Wednesday night. She had two talents - her first was playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on the piano (exclusively on black keys in the lower register of the piano with the damper pedal on even!) and then there was the following, documented for all time via YouTube.

The 50% of Anna that is made up of my genes is definitely on display in the choice of music. But exactly where she gets the nerve and fearlessness to dance like that in front of 40 people leaves both Heidi and me scratching our heads because neither of us are like that. Perhaps it's a recessive trait and she got both recessive alleles. (Suddenly, pea plants and Punnett squares are rushing back to me.)

And apparently, that little boy against the wall is either too scared or too enamored of Anna to even so much as move.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The coolest guy in the universe

I'm a bit more prone to tears than most men are, I think. But that's been part and parcel to my experiences with depression, and so, being so strong and stable for so long, I haven't really had much need for them - no time for tears, as Jo Dee Messina would say (egads, when was the last time I thought about THAT song!)

But work has been uber-stressful and it's caused a whole raft of emotions to come bubbling to the surface. Today I was better, I found my zen and stayed there. It also helped that I called Heidi and had her bring in the iPod stage so that I could listen to it since I was kind of doing my own thing today anyway. But nonetheless, I've found myself sad for reasons I can't articulate and just basically a mess from time to time.

Then I got home from work today and I read this.

And the tears, except this time tears of "I'm so lucky!" instead of those awful crap ones that go along with feeling horrible.

I love you too, honey. In the words of the L'Oreal ad, you're worth it!

So straight out of the True Blue liner notes, I'm the coolest guy in the universe. Let's hope we end up better than Sean and Madge did. I have a feeling that we will.