Friday, April 29, 2005

Take Me Out!

I love theater that isn’t neat and clean. I love it when characters grow and evolve in unexpected ways, existing in shades of gray the whole time. I love it when conflicts have messy, uneven resolutions—if they even resolve at all.

Which is why I love the Tony-winning Take Me Out, which I saw last night.

The play explores the collision of unapologetic homosexuality and professional sports—specifically what could happen in the locker room and on the diamond when a talented, famous baseball player unexpectedly outs himself in the national media. To stir up the waters even further, it throws in a fundamentalist best friend, a multicultural team roster and a thoroughly redneck relief pitcher struggling to exist with what he so predictably calls niggers, spics and faggots.

But the show isn’t predictable. And—with the exception of the fundamentalist best friend, who talks like a pompous preacher and proudly lives in a religious vacuum—the characters aren’t archetypes. The redneck wrestles with darker demons than his ignorance and bigotry. The business manager is a lonely, self-deprecating gay stereotype who, in a surprise epiphany, discovers in himself a burning (and often comical) passion for baseball. The gay baseball player is both arrogant and humble about his talents—and completely undefined by his sexuality (though his utter lack of demonstrable sex drive smacks of don’t-scare-the-wimmin-and-children Will Trumanism). And his closest teammate seems to be a bastion of good-natured humor and impartiality … until he makes a critical—though well-meaning—lapse in judgment.

The play combines the epic story arcs of Greek tragedy and the bathos of slapstick, bouncing a cast of complex, imperfect characters around each other in a well-paced (though at times awkwardly written) narrative.

Oh, yes. And there’s full-frontal male nudity. Lots of it. With bodies you can’t tear your eyes away from. And while on some levels it’s undeniably gratuitous—Steppenwolf wouldn’t promote the show with this photo if it wouldn’t sell lots of tickets to lots of homos—it’s also essential to the exploration of sexuality, homophobia and locker-room fraternity in professional sports.

And it’s narrated by this handsome fella, whose goofy charms and meaty thighs can keep you distracted for days.

Oh, what the hell. Let’s have one last look at that gratuitous photo, where Mr. Meaty Thighs shares an awkward shower moment with Mr. Jiggly Comic Relief and Mr. Tight Little Yoga Body:
Showers can be SO cleansing, am I right?

Originally scheduled to close this weekend, Take Me Out has extended its run through May 22. Go see it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Gratuitous beefcake shot*

This pic is about six years old, taken back when I was 10 pounds meatier, pierced in three places and slightly astigmatic. And going through my pouty buzz-cut phase.
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*Posted solely to generate comments about the wood paneling in my old basement—in the interest of testing my new Haloscan comment system, of course. This picture was in no way dug up and trotted out to solicit lewd, unseemly propositions or to relive the memories of my younger, beefier days in the saggy, wrinkly weeks after my 37th birthday.

I wonder if is taken

This message was added allegedly automatically to my blog by Haloscan when I tried to enable its celebrated commenting and trackback features:

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

And yet, a full 30 minutes later, my blog remains Haloscan-free.

Stupid technology.

UPDATE! As soon as I added my bitchy comments to the Haloscan post, the new commenting and trackbacking (is that a word?) appeared. As if by magic.

Also—without warning of any kind—Haloscan seems to have erased all the comments I've amassed in the last two years. Every. Last. One.

And with no comment archive, my life is completely without validation.

Stupid technology.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Why do I hate this ad so much?

Is it because it's so butt-stupid retarded obvious?
Is it because there are people out there who might see it as a fun little challenge and actually try to take the test?
Is it because that second theory totally explains the second Bush administration?

The above conundra are just a few of the burdens of my staggering intellect. So to level the playing field—and to demonstrate my considerable PhotoShop prowess (I made these changes in less than an hour, he added modestly)—I've cleverly updated this ad and retooled some of the foils (or did I?) to make it more relevant to 21st century readers ... and to make it more challenging to those of us bright enough to never click on one of these ads.

How well can you do on this new and improved quiz?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Two disappointing movies. All the wrong reasons.

The movies:
Eating Out
The Amityville Horror

The reasons:
Hot. Shirtless. Men.

Matt and Brandon and I wasted spent two precious evenings (well, Brandon wasted spent only one) together this weekend sitting through two of the dumbest movies ever. Since we went solely for the beefcake, we knew the movies would be disappointing—so we have no one to blame but ourselves. But we didn’t realize HOW disappointing they’d be, so I’m still going to find a way to pin this on the Republicans.

Eating Out is a predictable, intellectually insulting Harlequin Romance/gay fable with some of the worst writing, most wooden acting and most ham-handed editing I’ve seen since Clint Eastwood’s last overhyped, overcelebrated cinematic fart. To make matters worse, the Eating Out technical budget was so low (seven dollars and change, I’d guess) that all the dialogue sounds like it was recorded in a Dumpster, and fully half of the footage is so dark I still can’t believe the director didn’t demand his money back from the development lab at Wal-Mart.

The plot in a nutshell: Impossibly hot boy likes wacky girl. Girl throws herself only at gay boys. Impossibly hot boy has cute-ish gay roommate who likes girl’s smokin’ hot gay roommate, who won’t give him the time of day. Impossibly hot boy pretends to be gay and goes on date with smokin’ hot roommate to gain access to girl and maybe steer smokin’ hot roommate in the direction of cute-ish gay roommate. Somehow, impossibly hot boy gets “outed” to his impossibly supportive parents (who want to march right out and join “PFLOG”). Faggot stereotypes are trotted before the camera. Sausages are served for dinner. Hilarity ensues.
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On the plus side, there’s a lengthy soft-core porn moment between impossibly hot boy and smokin’ hot roommate. It gave me a total euphemism. And there is plenty of footage (some of it even with adequate lighting) of both boys in tight shirts … or no shirts at all. One look at the movie poster shows just how pretty their nipples are, and that alone makes the $9.50 admission a whole lot less painful:
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But the movie is nothing more than porn without the fucking. Aside from a few funny moments and enough plot holes to blow the tires on a fleet of Hummers (Get it? Plot holes? Hummers? HA!), Eating Out is just something to fast-forward through until you get to the nipples and abs. And even then, your enjoyment is undermined by a painful reality that can be summed up in four simple words: Porn has real fucking.

The Amityville Horror is a whole different kind of bad. Maybe I’m just not a horror movie fan. Maybe it takes more than gore and ghostly faces in the mirror to scare me. Maybe I’m just too distracted by implausibilities like when the comically named George Lutz, a professional contractor, uses nails to install drywall or when a girl killed at close range with a shotgun ends up with a single bullet wound in her forehead or when the protagonists are soaked in torrential rain in the movie’s last act but (SPOILER ALERT!) the moment they escape the sun is out and the birds are chirping and Charo appears on the hillside with a chorus of hippies to sing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” in six-part harmony.

Granted, the technical aspects of The Amityville Horror are miles of severed limbs above those of Eating Out. And the acting is way closer to Hollywood standards than to those of the Tri-County Dinner Theater. (Get it? Eating Out? Dinner theater? HA!) And the implausibilities are far more palatable—even when they’re dripping with the blood of the innocents. And I’m a total sucker for stories involving (SPOILER ALERT!) ancient horrors bubbling to the surface to destroy the lives of modern characters, so I did enjoyed that part of the movie.

I also enjoyed the reason I dragged Matt there in the first place: Ryan Reynolds in his droopy, low-riding pajama bottoms. The man is built like a brick shithouse and RIPPED like a dress on prom night. In fact, his rippling, bare torso undermines the horror quotient of every scene it occupies—simply because you can’t get scared when his thick, manly abs are staring you right in the crotch eyes, telling you it’s OK and everything’s gonna be all right and why don’t you come here and give me a long, shirtless kiss, you big stud.

Let’s take a moment to contemplate the beauty of Ryan in his PJs:
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WHEW! And now let's take a moment to imagine how much manly musclebutt is showing over that low-riding waistband—and how, if Ryan would just lift his left arm a bit and then turn to look over his right shoulder, maybe we could get a peek for ourselves.

And then let’s take a moment to go find our clippers and chop that ridiculous-looking privet hedge off his face even though it will end up buried in the pillow anyway.

And finally, let’s take a moment to pinkie-swear that we will NEVER pay another $9.50 for a bad movie just to get a fleeting glimpse of a hunky man with his shirt off. We’ll at least have the self-respect to wait until the movie comes out on video.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

How to annoy me

Forget to bring your music to rehearsal.

Ask to look at mine.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bring Your Readers To Work Day!

I’ve had so much fun showing you my bathroom and kitchen and hallway and other home-decorating projects, I brought my camera to work this week to show you pictures of my second home!

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Home is where the crap is. This is my office. I’m not a fan of the orange wall (I’m not much of a fan of anything orange, except the juice), but I love the way the space has managed to decorate itself. There’s an uncomfortable purple velvet sectional couch behind my chair that is used 99% of the time as a credenza. Over the couch is a fishing decoration from a discount store, a map so old it has two Germanies and a toilet-paper dispenser shaped like a bulldog. Hanging from the ceiling is a fluff-ball room divider from Thailand. Or Taiwan. I forget which. (Which makes me sound like an arrogant, America-centrist pig. Go Bush!) And on the front of my desk (which I think looks like my grandma’s deep freezer), there’s a picture of a guy in a banana suit kicking a guy in a cow suit (that’s where that expression comes from) next to a sign somebody found that says RESPECT: Have I preserved your sense of personal worth?

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The front corner of my desk—right behind my computer—is where I keep a revolving display of things I find timely or amusing. The current collection: A squishy eyeball filled with gradually escaping red liquid and smaller squishy eyeballs (on sale after Halloween for only 99¢ last year). A jar of kisses I got for my birthday. A ceramic smoking baby in its original packaging (“REAL babies should NEVER smoke!”). A New Yorker cartoon my friend Margaret (Hi, Margaret!) customized probably 15 years ago for me so it reads “Jake’s Grammar Shop” with signs in the window proclaiming “Gerunds in stock” and “Sentence fragments removed while-U-wait.” (It also says “Ask about our comma splicing rates,” which must be a test to weed out the semi-literate writers in the office.) And finally, there’s a small sign that, for reasons too boring and complicated to explain here, simply reads Pays with goats.

I think this sums up pretty much everything you need to know about me.

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But if not, here’s a closeup of the crap on the wall above my computer: An official-looking diploma from my first skydive. A sign involving trains and toilets. I found it in my house one day about 10 years ago. And I have no idea how it got there. A funky monkey picture a friend got in China to celebrate the year I was born. A tissue dispenser shaped like an Easter Island head. And an Easter (motif! motif!) Barbie wearing a Craftsman pocket screwdriver around her neck and a Kleenex turban with a truck sticker on it.

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Can you stand one more closeup of the crap in my office? (As if you have a choice. Nice try.) This pile is more random, but it does include a few things worth explaining:’80s Prom Slut Barbie (I did her makeup with common, everyday magic markers—there is NO end to my talents) riding an Impressionist cow (I know—it’s such an office cliché). A bowling pin I “stole” to outdo some friends who stole some bowling shoes for real in college. (I really bought it for 10¢ out of a box of broken pins, but to this day my friends think I ran down a bowling lane and actually stole a bowling pin without anyone noticing. These thieving friends are also kind of slow.) A pearlescent duck wearing a cowboy ensemble from Anders draped in Mardi Gras beads from a local Cajun restaurant. And—my most prized possession—a trophy I earned in 1983 when I was named Honor Carrier for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. If I’m doing the math right, that fluffy Scott Baio hair graced my head when I was a sophomore in high school. Hel-loooo, Lay-dees!

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And now for some of the stuff outside my cell personal office space. There’s this two-story orange nuclear reactor in the middle of our office. It houses a kitchen on one floor and a library on the other. There’s a big metal staircase that winds around the reactor. There’s a bridge that hovers in the air next to the top of the staircase. And it’s probably my favorite part of our office’s cool-ass architecture. The whole space here, in fact, is a riot of colors and angles and shapes—it’s really an awesome place to be creative.

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This is a little filing cabinet outside the fourth-floor bathrooms. People often leave things here temporarily—folders, date books, client samples, etc.—as if to say Hey, everybody! I’m going into the bathroom now, and I’ll be doing something that will probably require the use of both of my hands. Never mind why. So I’m just gonna leave my stuff here for a second, OK?

I never stop finding this funny.

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Our bathrooms have this dark purple tile where the little stall dividers are attached to the walls. The purple is dark enough that the light reflecting off its shiny ceramic surface creates a pretty good mirror. And since the stall dividers don’t actually touch the walls, the mirror gives you a perfect view of what’s going on over the bowl in the stall next to you. Which is no big deal, unless you’re doing bathroom things that involve standing up and facing the wall. Which is what guys do about 80% of the time they’re in the john.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to watch my co-workers go to the bathroom—from the front OR the back. (And I made sure the stall next to me was empty when I took this picture, just for the record. My PhotoShop skills are so lame, though, that I couldn’t make a very thick oval to show you where to look. The camera flash made the bowl reflection really hard to see here anyway. But I had to try.)

So that’s the tour! Come back next time—when I’ll show you pictures of the inside of my CAR!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

What do you discuss with your friends?

• The gourmet porn-star orgy you attended last weekend
• The oozing medical condition you brought home from the orgy
• The truth about your waist size/breast size/penis size/big fake implants
• Your actual age/hair color
• Your kids’ truancy officer’s actual age/hair color
• The real reason your mom didn’t run for Tulip Council president
• The role astrology plays in your decorating decisions
• The role astrology plays in your dating decisions
• The role addiction plays in your dating decisions
• The fact that everyone called you “Skid Marks” from third grade through high school
• Your cousin who’s doing time for killing a hooker in the basement
• Your salary

Exactly. Even though you framed your cousin in that basement incident, you still talk freely about how trashy he is and how only a moron would do time for killing a common house hooker—all the while vowing that you will never ever reveal the incriminating details of (Gasp!) what you earn.

And while there are perfectly logical reasons for keeping your salary held close to your big, fake breasts—you don’t want to make your colleagues jealous, you don’t want to find out that Cap’n Moronpants in the next cube can buy and sell you—there are also perfectly logical reasons you feel compelled to ignore when it comes time to discuss your oozing medical conditions, Mr. Skid Marks.

Where was I? Oh, yes: salary. I brought up this salary thing randomly to a friend a couple months ago. He’s a friend who clearly makes a lot more than I do and who clearly enjoys the standard of living he’s achieved for himself. (The man is intelligent, driven, accomplished and hard-working—and he’s very generous with the money he has—so I don’t begrudge him for a second the money he makes. Especially because he sometimes buys me things. Besides, his consumer spending is more about wide-eyed wonder at the treasures of the world than about peacockery or us-and-themery. And he has spectacular taste. And Lord knows you have to nurture good taste wherever you see it growing. Otherwise we’d all be One Nation Under Trent Lott’s Hair.)

Where was I? Oh, yes: salary. I wasn’t fishing when I brought up the whole salary thing to my friend—I have no (legitimate) complaints about my standard of living, I enjoy the process of budgeting for bigger purchases, I like the satisfaction of feeling that I’ve earned the things I have, and I really have no hang-ups about other people’s money. Unless they substitute money for personality. Or they use money to build social barriers. Or they buy $4 bottles of shampoo when Suave does just as good a job for under $1. But that’s a rant for a different post.

Where was I? Oh, yes: salary. So I was really surprised when in response to my salary observation, my friend simply blurted out what he makes.

And that it is almost four times what I make.

Which explains how he can afford to buy brand-name frozen juice concentrate while I’m forced to choke down the store-brand stuff.

Surprise revelations notwithstanding, though, I was also relieved to discover that I still didn’t care about the vast (and now clearly defined) gulf between his salary and mine. I didn’t feel unworthy, I didn’t feel that I hadn’t worked hard enough in my career—and I most certainly didn’t feel guilty about asking for a second glass of juice the next time I was at his house.

But I did feel like Skid Marks my friend and I had grown closer through the bond of a Big Secret—a Big Secret he obviously didn’t have many reservations about sharing with other people, but a Big Secret nonetheless. And ever since I went on house arrest on some trumped-up perjury charge regarding that hooker thing, it’s gotten much harder to develop lasting bonds with my friends.

Where was I? Oh, yes: gourmet porn-star orgies. But that’s a story for a different post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

It's all over but the photo posting

WHEW! What a weekend: three shows, two visiting family members and mountains of birthday fun. And some of it was even recorded on digital film. But not much of it. (Sometimes getting the camera out of the bag and pressing that little button is too much work.)

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Here's the final pose of our opening number. Notice the sweaty black shirts. Notice the homos gasping for air through their smiles. Notice the traditional show choir pose. (Notice the absence of sparkle fingers, though. I have to draw the line somewhere.)

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Here's the final pose of our other big dance number, which wasn't as exhausting as the opener, but it was really fun to dance. Plus we got to mount each other in at the end.

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My family sends a cake to my office every year on my birthday. This year Mom decided to run with a copywriter/editor theme, so there were misspelled words with little frosted-in corrections. And they were delishus.

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A birthday dinner with a small group of friends. Though I think the world of everyone at the table, many of these guys hadn't met each other until last night. So it was fun to watch people from different parts of my life interact with each other.

Look directly under me in this picture. You'll see a piece of chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla gelato next to it. Though it wasn't even mine, this cake was easily the all-time BEST chocolate cake I've ever eaten. And I consider myself to be a bit of an expert on all things cake—and not just because it rhymes with Jake. (Well, maybe just a little.) Seriously, though: You must NOT let another moment go by without tasting this cake yourselves. So get your hungry cake holes to Luciano's on Rush as soon as you can—and leave plenty of room for dessert. You'll want two.

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Six happy homos, working our way carefully out of the restaurant so as not to disturb our blissfully full tummies. And so as not to let the 37-year-old fall and break a hip.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Eight reasons today rocks

1. I got a voicemail this morning from my sister, who led my uncommonly photogenic niece and nephew through a shouting chorus of “Happy Birthday” for me. And while I’m sorry I missed the call (though I’m not surprised—I have T-Mobile, after all), I’m glad I have it saved on my cell phone so I can listen to it over and over and over. Which I’ve already done about 50 times today.

2. My family had a cake delivered to my office this morning. So even though none of my co-workers cared kept track long enough to remember that they should have decorated my desk with $100 bills or thrown me a surprise party or brought in dancing hookers (the bitches), now they can’t escape the fact—because it’s written IN FROSTING—that today is the Most Important Day In The History Of The Universe and they should really bow before me with offerings of aromatic oils and perhaps some gift cards from my favorite participating retailers.

3. The show this weekend kicked ass. We got tons of cheers, tons of applause, tons of compliments … and now I have tons of sweaty, stinky socks and tight black shirts to wash. And I have tons of happy memories from what was perhaps the best show we’ve produced in the three years I’ve been in the chorus.

4. Too lazy to clean my house and throw an actual birthday party for myself, I simply brought a cake to the cast party on Saturday night. The cake was store-bought and can-o-squirt-frosting customized by my mom and me. And it tasted like shit and looked like it was decorated in the dark. But people were having such a good time that nobody seemed to notice. And they didn’t even use silverware or plates when they gobbled it up, so maybe it wasn’t that bad.

5. My family bought me new running shoes and new running shorts. I’ve never had REAL running shorts before, and these have a little underpants-like liner with a horizontal bar of foam padding designed to keep my balls from bouncing around and hurting people. I’m hoping that the little foam bar also includes a bonus tickle factor. I’ll be sure to keep you posted if I find one.

6. It’s gorgeous outside. Simply gorgeous.

7. And there are daffodils and tulips everywhere. I love daffodils and tulips. And not just because I’m a pansy—I like them because they symbolize the end of winter, they carry with them the promise of spring and summer, they’re really beautiful … and they’re usually in full bloom on my birthday. It’s nature’s way of celebrating my thick, luxurious hair arrival.

8. Speaking of my thick, luxurious hair, I still have all of it. Even at the ripe old age of 37. Even though it seems to sparkle with more and more little flecks of gray every time I look in the mirror. But the sparkly gray hairs pull attention away from the fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes and mouth. And in the right light I think I can still get away with 36. And a half.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Got your tickets yet?

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Make sure you don't miss a moment of:
• 120+ gay men singing great music in glorious harmonies
• 120+ gay men singing in tight black shirts
• 14 gay men in tight black shirts getting extra sweaty doing some man-on-man swing dancing
• Beautiful solos with saucy lyrics
• Beautiful solos with beautiful lyrics
• Beautiful soloists
• A handful of big, handsome drag queens
• A chance to hear your intrepid protagonist sing in a jazzy little quartet
• A chance to see your intrepid protagonist doing some man-on-man swing dancing
• A chance to revisit the 1940s from a modern gay perspective
• Did I mention the sweaty men in tight black shirts?

• Friday, April 15, at 8:00 pm
• Saturday, April 16, at 5:00 and 8:30 pm

• In person at the Athenaeum Box Office (2936 N. Southport)
• Via Ticketmaster (312-902-1500)

More information!
• The CGMC Web site

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


A couple weekends ago, I woke up late and had to run to a chorus dance rehearsal, so I brushed my teeth (there’s always time to brush your teeth), threw on something that didn’t smell too bad and reported for duty—without doing my usual glop-of-goo thing that makes my hair stand on end as though in terror from seeing Tom DeLay naked.

And, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I got compliments on my hair. TONS of compliments.

So I went bareback without goo to work that Monday—and from the favorable attention my new ’do got, you’d think I’d just won a Nobel Prize or knocked up Britney or pushed the pope down the stairs or something. I was suddenly the belle of the ball (assuming, that is, by “belle” I mean “guy too lazy to comb his own damn hair” and by “ball” I mean “cube farm place of employment”).

So I stopped using the goo entirely. And after three weeks, I’m STILL getting compliments from people. How come none of you bitches told me my hair looked so bad?

Anyway, I’ve been too lazy busy to take a picture of my new free-n-easy coiffure, so I’m showing you bitches some before-and-after photos using “after” mugshots that were taken late last December when—for reasons so private and personal I would never talk about them on my blog—I hadn’t used any goo either.

Notice the dramatic difference in this first set. My relaxed hair transforms my countenance and softens my features to the point it even makes my shirt look plaid:
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And notice how in this set my new, un-fussed-over hair transforms me from total geek to debonair lady-killer stud:
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It’s especially fortuitous that I got this new look when I did; I go in at the end of this week for my new driver’s license photo, and I’d hate to carry photographic proof that I’m a trend whore hair pig dork in my wallet for the next five years. Three years ago, I got my passport photo taken on a fat-cheeks day, and now I’m stuck showing THAT monstrosity to customs agents around the world for the next seven years. How come none of you bitches told me my cheeks looked so fat?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Things I would have handled differently

if I’d been given the script a couple days in advance (and if my life were an action movie where violence was always the answer)

It’s a cold March evening on a packed 146 bus. The ebbing and flowing crowds have pushed me toward the front door, where I stand pressed against a pole with my nose buried in a Newsweek, trying—as is my usual custom—not to let my bag or my bulky coat or my elbows or my ass be in people’s way as they enter and leave the bus.

We reach a stop not too far from mine when suddenly I realize an angry old lady is yelling at me.

“It’s a DISGRACE the way you’re blocking the doorway. People have to get OFF, you know.”

I look up to see the wrinkly face of a self-righteous old biddy I’d voluntarily given my seat to about five stops earlier when she boarded the bus.

My response at the time: Stunned silence.

What I should have done: A helpful push down the bus stairs. A swift kick in the vagina.

I’m at Sidetrack on a cool spring evening. I haven’t run into anyone I know, so I’m standing against the brick wall in the glass bar, watching the boys cruise each other.

Suddenly, a wispy little Prada queen drifts up to me—dressed, coiffed and polished to the point he’s obviously trying to overcompensate for something (a lack of personality, perhaps?). As he gets closer, I realize his eyebrows have been so overtweezed and overshaped and overpenciled that they look like little felt cutouts perched above his soulless eyes.

“You are so brave,” he intones to me with all the masculinity sincerity he can muster, “to wear frames in a gay bar.”

(Frames? Who says frames? I look around, though, and—oddly enough—I really am the only guy in the bar wearing glasses.)

The man-girl starts to drift away, leaving an effluvium of expensive cologne, hair product and social desperation in his wake.

My response at the time: Stunned silence.

What I should have done: An uppercut to the jaw. A cruel smear of the well-blended concealer. A swift kick in the vagina.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Brandon and I signed up a month ago to play in a summer softball league. Neither one of us is in any danger of being confused with hardcore athletes (at least as far as team sports go), so we signed up for the lowest level of the least competitive division available. And softball isn’t exactly the butchest of sports, so we thought this would be a great match for our skills athletic prowess ability to shop for shoes and gloves.

The league said they’d contact us when we were assigned to a team, and we’d start practicing and playing by early April.

Well, early April has come and gone, the league’s teams are already practicing, and we haven’t heard a word. And we can’t get ahold of anyone who can tell us what the heck is going on.

Which means we were rejected by the nelliest players in the nelliest summer sports league in Chicago.

Oh, the shame.

There’s this fabulous drag queen I often choreograph songs for and sometimes dance with in my limited capacities as a go-go boy. A couple months ago, he asked me to choreograph and dance in two songs for Who’s That Girl?, which for the last three years has been my favorite performance gig in Chicago. I called him last week to start talking about getting music and finding more dancers—and after a couple rounds of phone tag, he finally left me a message saying he’d already started rehearsing his songs with a different choreographer. And if I wanted to “help,” it was too late to get me in the program.

Which means that—after asking me to do this for him, and after I turned down three other things that weekend to be in the show—he’d cast his numbers with other dancers and booked another choreographer without offering me so much as an explanation or an apology or even a heads-up.

I’ve been bitch-slapped out of a drag show. Which TOTALLY trumps the nelly-rejection quotient of the whole gay softball thing.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Time and Tide!

I'm not what you'd call popular a concert-goer. In fact, I can list the big-name concerts I've attended on one hand. And that list is one big mittful of embarrassment:

• The Oak Ridge Boys. 1985ish. I went with this cute boy who sat next to me in band ... and his parents. I saw it as a DATE. He probably saw it as a dorky concert with a big old 'mo.

• NKOTB. 1990. I was in grad school, and I (all 150 threatening, storklike pounds of me) got paid one T-shirt and one free ticket to work "security" for the concert. I spent my evening telling lovelorn 30-something losers female audience members to please stay in their seats and not block the aisles. Even the ones who (and I am not making this up) had "Jordan" shaved into the sides of their mullets heads. (Besides, bitches: Jordan was MINE.)

• Billy Joel. Early 1990s. I went with my friend Dave, my mom and my sister. We were about five rows from the ceiling in a huge basketball arena, and I was literally the dividing person between Those Who Got Up And Danced and Those Who Sat Like Bumps On Logs.

• The Indigo Girls. Late 1990s. I was a free-lance reviewer for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, covering art exhibits, musicals, ballets and symphonies—you know: fag stuff—when the regular rock reviewer got sick and I had to fill in at the last minute. I was used to having at least 48 hours to turn in my reviews, but the paper wanted the Indigo Girls review THAT NIGHT. And the bitches (and I use that term out of love) started their concert so late—as in hours late—that I had exactly TWELVE MINUTES to write my review. Which, thankfully, didn't end up sounding too terribly stupid.

• Chanticleer. At least 10 times since the mid-1990s. Chanticleer is an amazing 12-voice male chorus that performs and records everything from early music to jazz to terribly modern atonal crap pieces. I've seen their concerts and listened to their CDs enough that I know a lot of their repertoire—and I even know some of their names and hometowns (because they always introduce themselves, not because I'm a stalker). You could call me a groupie. A once-a-year groupie.

• And this week: Basia! Remember her? This Polish pop siren from the 1980s—most famous for her jazzy, glorious "Time and Tide"—sang a fabulous concert here Wednesday night that included a lot of new material and a hefty dose of her older stuff. Her voice is just as velvety and luscious as it was in the 1980s, and her trademark tight harmonies with her three backup singers sound extra-spectacular live. The highlight of the evening was hearing her belt her way through "Time and Tide"—a song that has been on my top-ten-all-time-favorite list for two decades. Her opening act, a new-ish band called O'2L, wasn't so hot—mostly because they played rockin' versions of the Windam Hill-type stuff I find so painfully tepid. (And, curiously, though they made a big announcement about how their name is pronounced "O'Toole"—and despite the fact that they were touring with Basia as her freakin' OPENING BAND—she kept calling them "Oh Two El." But who really cares! "Time and Tide"! (I've said it four times already!) Live! Pure bliss.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

How to survive a yoga class

Spring weather awakens my long-dormant compulsion to run. My compulsion to run exponentially increases my potential for self-injury. My potential for self-injury drives me right into yoga class as a stretchy, bendy prophylactic (HA! Stretchy, bendy prophylactic!) to stave off the heartbreak of tendonitis.

And today’s first class of the season brought me stretchy, bendy relief from the pains of yesterday’s run—along with a newfound compulsion to help make your yoga classes more productive and enjoyable:

• Wear something relatively snug-fitting. You spend a lot of yoga time upside-down with your chin pressed to your chest—and after a while you really don’t want to be breathing the stuff that’s trapped inside your shirt.

• Make sure you have clean fingernails and toenails—especially if you’re using yoga class to meet people. You spend the majority of your yoga time with your head near the floor, so pretty much all you can scope out on other people is their feet. And you and your grimy toes never get a second chance to make a first impression.

• Drink a lot of water before class.

• Pee before class.

• Fart before class.

• If you have a sinus headache, SKIP CLASS ENTIRELY.

• There is no shame in staying at Level One when everyone else in the class is pushing through to Level Two or Level Three. Yoga is about exploring your body’s personal limits, not injuring yourself or impressing other people in the room. Besides, people who can do Level Three probably cheat on their taxes.

• Yoga is also about clearing your mind so you can focus on your breathing as you move from pose to excruciatingly painful pose. Do not compose blog posts in your head during class. No matter how award-winningly clever they may be.

• Press your heels to the floor and rotate the top of your pelvis forward in down dog. OH MY GOD does that make the stretch feel good.

Up dog feels even better than down dog. Take extra time to enjoy the stretch it gives you along your abs, the fronts of your hips and your quads.

Dog style is NOT an accepted yoga pose. At least not in a large class setting.

• Yes, warrior one is a dumb-sounding name for a yoga pose. And the pose itself looks pretty gay. Resist the urge to giggle.

• If your sexy, firm-butted instructor presses his body into yours in the middle of class, he’s most likely just helping you find your balance or straighten your pose. Resist the urge to stand up and kiss him.

• People who bring their own yoga mats to class are probably better at it than you. Or maybe they’re just bigger hypochondriacs. In any case, don’t be intimidated when they bend over and pee into their own mouths. That yoga pose is overrated anyway.

• Your instructor will probably end class with a relaxation pose and the word namaste, which is an ancient Sanskrit concept that means—depending on the translation you choose to embrace—“I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Trust, of Light and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.” It is never acceptable to follow “namaste” with “motherfucker.”

• Budget time after class for a shower. Because you will smell like feet when you’re done. Other people’s feet.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


The biopsied moles were nothing. Just as I'd hoped expected. The nurse who took out my stitches even told me my wounds were healing nicely. Which I think would look great on a tombstone:
He healed nicely.
(Except this time.)

So thus ends the 2005 Cancer and Heart Disease False Alarm Tour. And everyone loves things that come with a happy ending.

But there's more! Today was the first stunningly gorgeous day of spring. And since my 4:15 doctor appointment actually started on time, I was home by 5:30—which gave me plenty of time and plenty of light and plenty of gorgeous weather to do my first training run for the marathon.

Now, I've been very good about blowing off my cardio over the last few months—hell, since the marathon last October—so I didn't expect to get very far tonight. But I surprised myself by whipping out five miles without much trouble at all. In fact, the endorphin rush started almost immediately, which made tonight's run quite enjoyable.

In the last mile, though, the age-old Epic Battle did start up again in my head: It Huuuuuuurts vs. The Pride Of Accomplishment. As usual, Accomplishment won out, thanks in part to its ever-helpful sidekick, The Sooner I Get Home, The Sooner I Can Enjoy A Delicous, Ice-Cold Gatorade.

And now I'm in the middle of Epic Battle Episode II: My Butt Stinks vs. I'm Too Tired To Take A Shower.

Pray for rain.

My last day of this:

back moles
My two weeks of Band-Aid yoga come to an end this afternoon. And not a moment too soon.

Two weeks ago today I underwent my triple biopsy to remove two back moles and one thigh mole as a precautionary check against melanoma. I immediately put out a call for a temporary boyfriend (with an option for indefinite contract renewals) to assist in my morning Band-Aid applications (which under my own power have enjoyed as much accuracy as a Tom DeLay voting district) to protect the stitches. And while there may be a promising boyfriend candidate on the DISTANT horizon (which is all you'll hear on that topic until we have something a helluva lot more definite than two very nice dates and a handful of flirty text messages and phone calls under our belts), he was never around in the mornings, so he never got a chance to demonstrate his Band-Aid-sticking prowess. Which is disappointing on many fronts.

Anyway, the stitches come out today at 4:15. And so does the diagnosis, which I'm expecting to be nothing since I was told if there's bad news they give it to you within the first week after the biopsy.

(And while I was strictly forbidden from exercising while the stitches healed, I accidentally went to a few very strenuous swing dance rehearsals last week. And I've accidentally worked out with it's-almost-swimsuit-season intensity every day since Monday. And I accidentally went running on Sunday, but it was cold so I didn't get very far. And my wounds bled only a couple times. But don't tell.)

So, 14 days, 50+ Band-Aids, 50+ dabs of polysporin, one shaved thigh, a couple choice swear words, and 9 tries to get a self-timer picture that showed both back wounds without showing my stray back hairs and back pimples too clearly later, I'm ready for this little adventure to be over.

I'm ready to live life again in my own skin. Now with 1% fewer moles!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Big bands, big fun and big drag queens!

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Spring is here, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus is in the mood to put on a show.

Fortunately, In the Mood IS the show—and, cheap puns notwithstanding, it’s going to be packed with all the great music, subversive fun and dubious taste that audiences have come to expect from the chorus.

In the Mood pays homage to everything 1940s, from saccharine war movies to crooning balladeers to swingin’ big-band standards. It’s all burnished with CGMC’s velvety vocals, and some of it is even slightly tarnished with CGMC’s signature irreverence.

“This is a big show,” warns CGMC Artistic Director Patrick Sinozich. “We’ve packed it with so much music and so many dance numbers that we had to get three choreographers. And we still found room to squeeze in an Ann Miller tribute.”

In addition to a 21-gun arrangement of its title song, In the Mood also features great 1940s-era tunes like “One O’Clock Jump, ” a saucy “Something for the Boys,” a hyper-patriotic “Praise the Lord (and Pass the Ammunition)” and even a sexy “Stuff Like That There,” which was immortalized by Bette Midler in the movie For the Boys.

In the Mood runs Friday, April 15, at 8:00 pm and Saturday, April 16, at 5:00 and 8:30 pm in the historic Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Tickets are available in person at the Athenaeum Box Office and via Ticketmaster (312-902-1500). There’s also a link to ticket information at the CGMC Web site.

The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus has been an integral part of Chicago’s cultural and gay communities since 1983. For the last two decades, CGMC has entertained audiences around the country with innovative musical programming, political commentary and tongue-in-cheek humor. Last summer the group sang the National Anthem for the second time at a Chicago Cubs baseball game, and it released its second CD, I Will Be Loved Tonight, at its holiday concert last December at the Athenaeum Theatre.

For more information about promoting or supporting the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, contact the CGMC office at 773-296-0541.

# # #

ADDENDUM: Since this blazingly clever press release written by yours truly will never see the light of day—because promotional press releases never do—I posted it here for my own self-aggrandizement you-all to enjoy. But come see the show anyway! I'm dancing in three big numbers and singing in a tight-harmonied little quartet—and I choreographed a ton of other stuff. But if you don't want to see the show for me, see it for the oily bodybuilders wrestling in the Crisco pit parade of hugely talented soloists and the naughty twists on the music your grandparents used to love. And the man-on-man swing dancing. And the oily bodybuilders wrestling in the Crisco pit.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hitler and the titties!

Last night I took in a double feature with Matt and assorted combinations of his friends and co-workers. And the two movies we saw could NOT have been more unrelated—except for the fact that a lot of the people in them got royally fucked.

The first movie, which we drove way up to Evanston to see, was Downfall, a controversial film about the final days of Hitler, as told (more or less) by Traudl Junge, his last stenographer. Many have criticized the film for "humanizing" Hitler, which it does. It gives him alternating moments of compassion, warmth, anger and irrational delusion—all of which coalesce to create a character study of a misguided, loathsome, tragic man who might have been forgotten to history as simply a misguided, loathsome, tragic man if he hadn't managed to rise to such an elevated state of power and influence.

The movie also accomplishes something I always look for in the retelling of historic events: Giving me a deeper understanding of what it was like to actually BE there. Before the movie Titanic, for instance, I understood that the sinking of that ship must have been horrible to experience. But the movie showed me the layers of fear and denial and panic and hope the passengers went through as their world disappeared under their feet. It helped me understand how people were forced to see their loved ones crushed by smokestacks, drowned in icy waters and trapped in locked steerage holds. It put me in the middle of the screams and the frozen bodies and the endless silence when the ship was finally gone. It transformed my understanding of the sinking from tragedy to Tragedy.

Similarly, Downfall brings to life the horrors of WWII as experienced (and imagined) from the confines of a dark, claustrophobic, smoky underground bunker. (GOD, it must have been gross down there—everyone smoked.) It shows how Hitler's lackeys struggled to stay in the good graces of a man who was spiraling out of emotional and rational control. It explains basic mundanities like boredom, bathroom breaks and food preparation. It plops you in the middle of the room where Magda Goebbels murders her children to prevent them from growing up in a world without national socialism.

It makes you appreciate what we as a collective society have at the dawn of the 21st century. And how—given the recent political rise of equally fanatic, equally determined, equally irrational religious fundamentalists—we could be in danger of creating another Hitler state here in America.

Here's one thing I really like about the film: The costumes and wigs and makeup are completely unremarkable. They don't call attention to themselves, they aren't exaggerated and self-aggrandizing, they aren't Hollywood. They just are—which pulls you right into the time period and the events and heightens the realism exponentially.

And here's one thing I would change if I could: I'd make the characters call each other by name more often. There are so many similarly dressed, similarly grim generals and sycophants and random soldiers running through every scene that I was often confused about who was whom. And the individual significance of these men's deaths was often lost on me.

But that was just the first movie. After a hearty, way-too-fattening, way-too-delicious, WAY-too-much-food dinner (cajun chicken pasta! molten chocolate cake!) at Chili's, we headed back into Chicago to the always fabulous, always artsy Music Box Theatre for a midnight showing of—and I am not making this up—Deep Throat. As in Linda Lovelace. As in Harry Reems. As in Harry Reems IN Linda Lovelace. As in balls-to-the-cooter STRAIGHT PORN. And it was being shown in the name of Art.

WARNING! GROSS PARAGRAPH! And it was just as disturbing as I'd imagined—and not just because of the straight sex and the terrible acting and the ugly men and the laughable editing and the clowns-in-the-washer soundtrack (all of which were presented in unrelenting VaginaVision). No—that wasn't enough to make this the most culturally influential, bring-porn-to-the-mainstream-and-gross-$600-million smut film ever. There's also a scene where Linda and a doughy mullethead share a very long straw that brings them refreshing sips of Coke from somewhere deep in Linda's flabby vagina. There's a bubbly-farts-in-a-bathtub sound effect that accompanies many of the orgasms. There's a vagina-shaving scene that made everyone in the audience instinctively reach to protect his or her cowering sex organs.

And there was that sinking feeling that I'd just been robbed of $8.75 and two hours I'd never get back.

But the movie does have value as a cultural artifact. Its tacky clothes and false eyelashes and booshy moostaches and home décor selections are a hoot. And I learned that apparently all you needed to work in porn in 1972 was an overbite and a rack that looked like a pair of pantyhose filled with tapioca. And two buckets of blue eyeshadow. And a hoo-hoo shaped like a collapsed soufflé. And cheap shoes.

(Am I being a bitch here or am I just still in shock over how radically our standards of beauty (at least porn beauty) have changed in the last 30 years? I'm probably being a bitch. But Linda Lovelace and her wacky, slutty roommate really did have ugly boobs. And positively revolting vaginas. (At least for this highly prejudiced audience member.) And don't even get me started on the flabby grandma arms the bucktoothed nurse had where her tits should have been.)

Anyway, by 1:30 I was Hitlered and hoo-hooed out. And despite every disturbing minute I'd seen last night, I slept like a baby.

And when I woke up, I still had a full tummy. Urp.

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fool!

I can't think of anything suitably foolish to post today, so I'll let some of my favorite cartoons do the talking for me. (And yes, I save my favorite cartoons in a huge folder on my hard drive for just such an occasion. Which I guess makes me a big dork April fool.)
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