Saturday, July 31, 2004

Run! This movie sucks!!!

Though M. Night Shyamalan's unable to make a visually uninteresting film and though a cast of this magnitude is equally unable to deliver wholly bad performances, "The Village" is an awful, awful experience.

It's got a one-note, unbelievable premise that would barely hold up a half-hour episode of "The Twilight Zone." (Actually, episodes of "The Twilight Zone were far more clever than this movie.) It's got a horrid script featuring no lines spoken with prepositions, plot twists that could be guessed from a million miles away.

To top it all off, the movie's not even scary. Not at all. The ad campaign, which makes this look like it's a HORROR movie about MONSTERS, is completely misleading.

A better movie could be made of this premise if the movie didn't insist on keeping the whole premise a secret. A better movie could be made of this premise if it didn't insist on being so dark, bleak and falsely suspenseful.

The way it's written, the actors are given little to do. The characters have little life, no charisma with one another and feature no one among them who is individual enough to care about.

Don't see "The Village." There is little worth watching in it.

To make the least of it.

I have the day off today.

I slept. And slept. And slept. Then I called some people on the phone and told them, among other things, not to see M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village," because I saw it last night with Poli Sci Guy and we agreed that it's bad. Then I slept some more.

I don't know what I'm going to do with my night.

I have an invitation to crash Vic's blind date in Buford. (She said it was a group thing, so I could just show up in the restaurant, have myself a margarita and "run into her.") Or I could see her after the date, unless the date goes well.

I could go see the remake of "The Manchurian Candidate." Of course, I'm supposed to see a movie with Ron this week ... and I'm not going to see "The Village" again. Awful, I tell you.

Maybe I'll go see "The Bourne Supremacy," since I'm the only person left I know who hasn't seen it.

Or I could watch a DVD and read more Thackeray.

I've not left my apartment yet. I always think the day's wasted if I don't.

But, gosh, um. It's just not happening.

I miss Kacoon, actually. I haven't seen her in, like, a million years or something.

Earlier this week, Ron was praising the blog to me, saying that it read like a really good collection of work.

I hope he doesn't advocate including this one in the retrospective collection.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Break the silence.

A meeting at noon put me on guard. It was my mid-year review, and, whereas the meetings are usually pleasant and boring, this one wasn't boring. And it wasn't at all pleasant. My manager and supervisor used the meeting as an opportunity to tell me their grievances again, and then they tell me about how much I'm expected, no matter what, to continue to do better.

I wanted to run out of the meeting, down the aisle of cubicles, through the doorway, down the hall, toward the railing. And I thought about what it'd be like to jump. I thought about it, though, in terms of how it would affect things like company morale, overall monthly production. I thought about how it would reflect upon their management skills. I wondered if I'd become the subject of an awareness seminar. I wondered if my jump would work itself into the proper, "encouraging" management terminology.

But this job isn't worth sacrificing myself over.

I sat in that meeting, told them once again that I'm working and trying and have shown results. Blah blah blah.

My supervisor Ethan told me confidentially that the problem in the meeting was me. That, when the criticism was done, I should've gotten up and left. But I was in this sort of stunned, silent, frozen state. I hadn't expected my review to be a rehash of "How Benjie Is An Unreliable Worker." I hadn't even expected my manager and supervisor to attend it together. Usually, it's been the supervisor, and the meeting's been light.

It was painful.

And I just damn sat there.

That cast a pall over the rest of the day, unfortunately.

I met Ron's partner Shawn for the first time tonight, and I couldn't get over the case of nervous "I don't know how to reply or explain myself" nonsense that I had at the meeting.

Trying to explain that mood, I told Shawn I was nervous. I think that made it worse.

He tried talking to me about grad school application. I have nothing to say about that. He tried talking politics. I couldn't really formulate an interesting topic. Hell, even talking about London, I couldn't quite verbalize what I wanted to say. Ron praised my writing to Shawn, but I couldn't sound confident about it when I spoke about it.

Do you ever feel like every sentence you're saying isn't coming out the way that you're intending it to?

Ron told me that I was worrying unnecessarily about the impression I was making, that we had a fine evening.

We did. It was nice. Shawn was really, really nice, very smart and sweet to Ron. The food was good. The house was nice.

I just wish I could've relaxed more.

Ron told me to be myself. But I hadn't been myself all day.

Monday, July 26, 2004

I'm allergic.

I saw this at midnight on Friday, and, dude, was it hilarious. Not intentionally hilarious. Just so-awful-it's-amusing hilarious.

The whole thing is just overdone. The acting is wooden, the dialogue is terrible, the plot involves Sharon Stone and invincible makeup ... and Halle Berry can't purr properly.

The look of the film is outrageous, and the editing is so rampant and frenetic that I was afraid epileptics in the audience might go into seizure.

Though not as god-awful as BATMAN & ROBIN, it's really close.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Other people's stuff, as judged by me.

A few minutes ago, I dialed Hennessy's number for the first time in maybe three weeks. And it rang, then bounced to his voicemail. I left a message, saying that I was calling to see if he was out because I was thinking of going out.

Here's the weird aspect of it.

I know he doesn't accept or return my calls. I know, if he saw my number, that he wouldn't answer his phone. I know that it's better not to call, even though he told me the last time I saw him that I could and should call. I know, as well, that I haven't called because, well, that's just how it goes and how it's supposed to go.

If I went out, and his friends saw me before he did, then they'd probably give him a heads up. I mean, when I was on good terms or, to be more specific, any terms at all with him, there was a moment in the bar when one of his friends ran up to him, warned him of "some psycho's" presence and told him to switch bars.

I'd probably be labeled that now.

I called twice after I slept with him the last time, and he didn't return the calls.

I kept his number, though, remembering the initial sweet gesture in which I actually got the number.

Before two minutes ago, I hadn't used it in weeks.

I know I was a trick. It's OK, I guess.

I just think it's amusing to know now that my number is one that raises red flags and dread, even though he told me to call and that I didn't actually ever call too much. It's amusing that the fact that I called at all probably gave Hennessy one of those red-flag moments.

I'm not a bad guy, and he'd probably remember that if I were standing in front of him, in person, when I'm less easy to dismiss or disregard.

And I know he's not worth it and that I shouldn't worry about him ... because this is all about him and his issues, except I'm the one writing it, thinking about it, trying to trick him into thinking of me as something other than a dismissable trick.

We're in game-playing phase now, which seems disappointing to me because I didn't want to play these stupid games.

Oh, who am I kidding? We're not in any phase.

The game ended weeks ago. It was a draw. Both teams packed up and went home.

I should probably just head back to Krispy Kreme, like I did last Saturday, and finish "Empire Falls" over coffee.

My brother Dan's engagement picnic was today, and I got introduced to a couple dozen people that I didn't know who know my brother better than I do.

I volunteered to the bride - who is really, really funny and terrific to me and tries to encourage a bond between me and my brother - that I could take black-and-white photos, like I did at my cousins' weddings. I thought, by volunteering, that I could somehow find out if I wouldn't be able to take them because I was actually assigned to another role in my brother's wedding, like being an usher or groomsman.

I want to be a groomsman in my brother's wedding, like some of his frat brothers are going to be.

This is the most normal, joyous event in my entire fucked-up family's warped existence, and I want to be wearing a tux as we smile our ways past dysfunction.

I mean, I love my brother, even if there are others in the family that I can't stand.

But the bride told me that it would be great of me to take lots and lots of photos of the wedding. So I guess I'm not gonna be in that tux.

The wedding isn't about me and will be fantastic and fun, I know, but, here on my journal, it can be about me.

The engagement picnic, thrown by my mother - who ran around organizing everything in a frenzy while not actually allowing herself to sit down and eat until it was near over, was fun, though.

All of Dan's friends are married or have children.

I tried to imagine what it would be like if my mom threw some sort of elaborate party for me, inviting different sects of my friends and family to mingle together. And I couldn't even imagine that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What to watch.

Incidentally, I've got movies on the brain since Ron and I went to see the better-than-I-thought-it-was-going-to-be-because-Will-Smith-is-butt-naked-in-the-first-two-minutes flick I, ROBOT tonight.

Not a classic, certainly, and not as smart as Asimov. But there were some highlights, and, because Will Smith has apparently been working out, the first two minutes were worth the price of admission.

The previews ahead of I, ROBOT, though, have really inspired me to write some DVD recommendations because I finally got my first glimpse of ALIEN VS. PREDATOR, which I will be seeing opening day in spite of how terrible or great the reviews for it might be. Ever since Jenipher started me on the ALIEN films, I've been a fan.

Stating that, I must recommend my favorite film from the series for those who want a refresher before ALIEN VS. PREDATOR hits theaters.

ALIENS was recommended to me when I was a teen by Jenipher - whose father took her to see it when she was 8. It is the scariest damn movie I've ever seen in my entire life. Seriously. Even though my first viewing was on video in my dark bedroom alone, this movie scared the ever-loving shit out of me.

If you've never seen it, watch it immediately. Watch it in the dark. Watch it by yourself. Try to know as little about it beforehand as possible. It's absolutely horrifying.

Even though it's a sequel, ALIENS is, in my opinion, the best film of the series.

(Of course, I've also seen ALIENS at UGA's Tate Theater during a midnight, weekend screening with 200 heckling fans. Watching it then, it was hilarious. But, the first time I watched it, I was seriously freaked out.)

This HBO miniseries, which garnered about 20 Emmy nominations and received Emmy nominations for all its main cast (not that Emmy nods mean anything, really), comes out on DVD in September. But I've already ordered a copy of it because ANGELS IN AMERICA is great, compelling stuff.

And Patrick Wilson is really hot in it.

Oh, and I bought a cheap used DVD copy of MATCHSTICK MEN tonight on a whim while I was waiting for a haircut. I saw it in the theaters, and you ought to rent it if you haven't seen it. It's a really, really good thriller with a wonderful Nicolas Cage performance and a really great ending.

This concludes my movie buff rant of the evening.

The upside of down.

Ron and I were having ice cream and a really deep conversation tonight. He asked me, at perhaps the most important point of the chat, if I ever forgave myself for things that I believe I've done wrong.

I said no. My memory is long, yet I know I generally, if at all, don't forgive myself.

I apologize to other people. Other people garner my regard and my concern more often than I give it to myself.

With myself, have I ever gone back and told myself that it's all right to have made mistakes?

Reading this, I'm guessing, all sounds terribly self-indulgent. But I honestly can't recall the last time I thought I could actually let a mistake go.

Is there a difference between becoming the sum of all your actions rather than the result of all your personally-held errors?

How do you even go about forgiving yourself?

I, for one, am not entirely sure. Which is probably a good place to start.

But where do I go from there? And if I started denoting memories to forgive, where do I start?

When I was in daycare, I once hit this girl named Jodi in the face because I thought she was being mean to me. Years later, when she was my hairdresser and I was in college, I apologized to her immediately upon realizing who she was. She, of course, didn't remember the slap, but she remembered me being a nice friend of hers in daycare.

She forgot it. I didn't. To her, it ended. To me, it became a part of me. After I'd hit someone, I became, in the resume in my head, a person capable of hitting someone.

I'm digging too deeply. But that's my point.

Right now, I'm the sum of my errors and faults moreso than I am the person who learned from my errors.

How do you change that perspective?

To go darker, I'll admit something.

In my head, I'm more the boy who enjoyed and encouraged sexual activity he knew was wrong with a family member than I am someone who was abused. I feel guilty for the times I sought it out, asked for it.

I remember clearly the doubt I felt about my own role in what was happening to me, admitting to myself that he wasn't hurting me or endangering me moreso than I was doing it to myself, allowing myself to be hurt. If he was hurting me, that I could understand because it was easy to see him as "bad." But if I was letting it happen or asking him to do it or enjoying aspects of it, how could I be "good" or "the victim?"

If I knew what I was doing was wrong, why didn't I stop it?

I can't answer that. I can't easily pass blame for that or accept blame for it. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I wasn't strong. But I wasn't passive. And I wasn't a victim nor distinctly NOT a victim.

It still doesn't make any sense to me.

It's easier to just not think about it, to let it exist inside me without dealing with it and instead letting it slowly creep into who I am to myself and how I deal with people.

In therapy, I build up who I am in spite of what happened. I build up my confidence in spite of what happened. I am someone now in spite of what happened. I am formidable, capable, accomplished, surviving now in spite of what happened.

But I don't deal with how I feel about what happened. Not directly. How I feel about myself and who I was for allowing it to happen to me.

In therapy, if I end up in that place where I have to deal with that solid little dark pit of a thing at the center of all I am, there's nothing I can do but move past it and concentrate on the now.

I feel like there's little way to stop it - and a million other little unforgiven errors - from seeping into who I've become.

When Ron mentioned whether I forgive myself for my own errors, my thoughts went immediately to the core one. The thing I don't forgive myself for. The thing that makes me doubt love a little, disregard myself a little and think I'll be a little more inclined to fail when called to act.

Telling that counselor about the abuse was supposed to give me the courage to stop it. She told me that I could fight the urge, say no to him when it was presented to me in my house, while my parents were out.

But I didn't stop it. I did it one last time, knowing that I shouldn't and didn't have to. Part of me wanted to mess around with him, even though I couldn't figure out why I couldn't stop myself.

So it happened with him. And I got my clothes on, ran outside, jumped in the car and drove to my circle. And the next morning, I walked around a mall in a haze and thought about jumping off the balcony.

But I didn't.

I fear I'm never going to write a book, by the way. Or leave the latest job I hate. Or try harder. Or move faster. Or do better.

Some part of me, knowing what's wrong and bad, does the bad thing anyway.

How do you fix that kind of behavior? How do you start?

Learn from your mistakes. Forgive yourself. Let things go.

Is this ever going to stop haunting me? Do you get the albatross off your neck or just learn how to live with it?

It's apparently not enough to have survived it. Now I have to forgive myself. And take care of myself. And let this fade. And let the good people in. And write a book. And expose myself to the bright possibilities in life. And move on.

But I don't know how to forgive myself this.

The people who "find religion" I think are lucky if they really believe it. For me, outer forgiveness was empty, something that was easy to ask for. Inner forgiveness, after knowing my role in what happened to me, has been the hardest part. Inner forgiveness has allowed me to push away anything else, reject anything else.

It's easier to seek the approval of others than it is to face what I let happen to me.

This is so huge, and there are other things to do. Things that are easier to do, like paying bills or making goal numbers at my small, little job or buying a new poster and putting it in a frame.

I didn't mean to write so much about this. I didn't even know that I thought this much about it, to be honest.

I'll call my therapist in the morning. I'm going to go read a book.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Switch glitch.

And, of course, the first problem with the URL switch is that I can't update the old URL to let people know that the switch was taking place.

This is just great.

My Webmaster Travis, whom I ran into at Krispy Kreme after midnight on Saturday, told me that the only thing I MUST DO before making the switch was POST THE NEW URL on the OLD SITE.

Now, apparently, I can't go back and change it.

Once you go FTP, you can apparently never go back.


From now on, this blog has a new URL:

Please update all links, bookmarks and whatever.

Dear Almodovar ...

Miss Gibson just returned from a week's holiday in Portugal, so I wrote her to ask about the trip. Unfortunately, for some reason, I'd gotten something confused because I didn't know that she'd gone to Portugal. I thought she'd gone to Spain, so I started making all these jokes about Spain and how she'd probably spent nights doing the salsa with sweaty, lustful Spaniards.

"Um, I went to Portugal," she corrected me.

Then, she proceeded to tell me that the trip was fantastic, and now she's bummed about her life.

Since I'm often bummed about my life, too, and had Spain on the brain, I suggested to her that we write a letter to Oscar-winning filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, who discovered Antonio Banderas and has made the great films "Talk to Her," "All About My Mother" and "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," and ask to be in one of his movies. I told her that appearing in an Almodovar film would certainly break our lives out of whatever rut they were in.

Inspired, I wrote Pedro Almodovar this letter, sending it through Miss Gibson for her approval.

Dear Pedro Almodovar,

Please let my friend Miss Gibson and I appear in a movie. We're sorta pretty, and our lives suck. We're willing to do anything, even fund our own trips or pass ourselves off as objects whose sole purpose was to serve you.

As I said, we're willing to do anything, though we certainly have our preferences. Miss Gibson says she'd prefer to do some bullfighting, but she says she can't play coma because it limits her range as an actress. I, of course, am willing to do screen nudity - but only if my co-star in the nude scene is Gael Garcia Bernal.

Here is a photo of him, in case you forgot him since making your latest movie:

We think you're the best. And we think that appearing in one of your movies would allow us a moment of greatness - the very thing needed to add a spark to our otherwise humdrum existences.

We're writing you because we believe that you're far wackier than Woody Allen and thus far more likely to say "si!" to our request.


Riley McCarthy

P.S. Miss Gibson wanted me to let you know that she can "can hablo en espanol too!"

My "Staff Recommendations."

My manager Maureen needed to fill the display at the bookstore, so she asked me to pick out some books that I wanted to put on sale and recommend to customers. I went for one I'm currently reading, one classic I've already read ... and one book Maureen told me to recommend, based upon a review she found in a magazine, because she thought that it would sell. (Reading the review she showed me, I wrote a paraphrased recommendation and bought a copy of the book myself because it did sound good. So I only recommended something I didn't read, not didn't own.)

OK, I'm in the middle of reading this right now, and I like it so much that I've already ordered it in hardcover. It's got excellent characters and great writing, though it's still taking its time finding its plot within its characters and their secrets. It's won a Pulitzer Prize.

Oh, and because my friend Vic told me that I only read books that feature gay people or books that are about to be made into movies, I feel as though I should tell you that HBO's making "Empire Falls" into a miniseries starring Ed Harris, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Helen Hunt. (Yes, Lupo, Helen Hunt. Consider yourself warned.)

"The Great Gatsby" was my favorite assigned book in high school, and I read it my junior year. It's not boring. In fact, it's like this giant trashy soap opera involving obsessives, liars, drunks and murder.

Following Vic's criteria, it's also been made into a movie and a miniseries. And whether it features gay characters is up to the reader to decide. Though the narrator has lovers, though, he spends an awful lot of time paying attention to Gatsby.

I don't know anything about this book, but the review I read of it compared the writer to Nick Hornby and made it sound good enough to buy. And it sounded really funny and really British.

It doesn't fit any of Vic's criteria. And, fittingly, I've not yet read it.

For all of five minutes.

Even though I still had congestion, I went to work at the bookstore today. And I walked around the majority of the day in some sort of Tylenol Sinus-driven haze.
When I started carrying a stack of books toward the back of the store to shelve them this afternoon, I saw Dax in the aisle. I said hello.
I haven't seen Dax in over a year. Our last encounter was primarily awkward, for I went through this whole bitterness thing about him.
(This time, I was friendly, I swear, but I noticed that he's gained weight. I wonder if he'd noticed that I lost weight. I wonder if he was happy to see me. I wonder why I want him to be happy to see me.)
This time, he said hello and then hugged me. He told me that he went looking for me with his friend Addie at my old store. I'd told him that I'd moved to Buckhead back in August and transfered bookstores back in May.
He told me he graduates from grad school - in philosophy, not archaeology - in December.
I got called up to the register before we were able to talk much more. I actually went looking for him when the rush died at the registers, but I couldn't find him.
Dax used to be nice to me. We used to be, if you can believe it, pretty good friends. But I scared him, and he broke my heart, even though we were never really involved in a relationship.
My melodramatic nature, sadly, is why Dax still matters to me. But the whole thing makes me wonder whether I actually have significant relationships, relationships worth worry over.
The first time I saw Dax after he stopped talking to me, 11 months after he told me that he "needed time" because I was blunt when I edited one of his essays, I was so angry with him that I was shaking and rude to him. I was in such a bad mood after seeing him that day that I asked a manager to spend me home early.
This time, since Dax has become one of my "ghosts" who just appears in my memories now and again, it was just a little weird to see him. I wanted to be friends with him again, three years later. I wanted to see if the time and experience we've gained might've made us better able to handle the potential our friendship had.
But I couldn't find him again in the store, and, even though he seemed happy to see me, he didn't say goodbye.
So maybe it's for the best.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

The event of my death.

I died once.

I got hit by a truck, and I got thrown onto its hood. My head embedded into the windshield. My face was all cut and bruised, and blood was everywhere. I lay perfectly still as a crowd gathered around the truck, which had made its way onto the sidewalk near UGA's Soule Hall. The last part of me that moved, as a pretty blonde girl stood over my mangled body and cried, was my left leg, which had gone into spasms as the life drained from my body.

A stream of blood ran down my arm thick onto the pavement.

"Oh Jeremy," the girl cried. "NO-O-O!"

Then, my episode of the local-access college-station soap opera, titled "Roomers," then faded to black.

I got credited as a Special Guest Star because my character got introduced and died in the very same episode.

I played "Jeremy Williams," a visiting, snooty exchange student to UGA from the French Riviera. In the episode, I showed up to visit a friend of mine, which made her boyfriend jealous (even though I was clearly gay), and I died after pushing the boyfriend out of the path of a drunk driver.

It was actually my idea to show up on the show, then die. People'd actually been watching the show that year, and I knew the creators of it. So I suggested to them that I come on and die in one episode, like I'd seen a character do on one episode of "Knots Landing."

The show's directors loved the idea, actually, and wrote me as "Jeremy Williams" into the script. It took two days to film the whole episode, and my death scene was this elaborate, nighttime shot involving the beat-up pick-up truck on the sidewalk and me covered in lots and lots of Caro syrup dyed red. Using Saran Wrap on the inside of the windshield, the director was actually able to make it look like my head had gone through it. It was completely cool.

The director, also, had given everyone this somber "pep talk" before filming the shot where I got hit by a truck. They advised no one to laugh and told everyone to concentrate on something really, really sad.

When I did that, they told me that I could still be upbeat since the only emotion I had to show in the scene was "dead."

The whole thing came out badly acted, overdone and completely comic.

The episode, which also featured a fistfight, a suicide attempt, a character's overdose and a stalker attack (because it had to be fun and campus-relevant), ran during finals week that year, and it aired about 500 times. It was a huge hit.

During finals week, about a dozen people stopped me and asked me about my death, calling it "hilarious."

I called Jenipher in her room after I caught it the first time, since I knew she watched "Roomers."

"Did you see it?" I asked. "What did you think?"

"Oh ... I've already seen it," she said to me plainly. "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?"

"I thought it would be fun," I said.

"Oh, don't get me wrong, it was fun," Jenipher said. "But WHY???"

"Did you laugh when I died?" I asked her.

"Um ... yes," she said. "It was SO melodramatic."

"So I die ... AND YOU GO AND LAUGH ...," I said, pretending to be offended.

Going home after finals, I showed the tape of my death scene to my mother, and she actually gasped in horror at my blood-splattered face. Watching it and her reaction, I doubled over in laughter.

But it didn't end there.

When I turned 21, I was walking up the steps at Washington Street Tavern to get another free drink when these two girls stopped me.

One was Allison, my friend from German class.

"Hi Benjie ... how are you?" Allison asked me.

As I prepared to answer Allison, though, her friend got a good look at me and started screaming at me, "OH MY GOD ... JEREMY, YOU'RE ALIVE!!! ALIVE!!!"

Allison turned toward her friend and, looking embarrassed, said, "No ... this is Benjie. BENJIE."

"NO, IT'S JEREMY!!!!" her friend shouted.

"It's OK," I told Allison. "I know what she's talking about. She saw me on TV."

Allison looked puzzled, then headed down the steps with her friend. I went to get another free shot.

Months later, at jury duty, I ran into Higgins, a high school friend of mine, and he asked me how much partying I was doing at UGA.

"Not much," I told him calmly. "I don't get into much trouble."

Then, as I talked to him, this couple walks up to me and goes, "Excuse me ... we just saw you across the room. Were you that dead guy on 'Roomers?'"

Higgins raised an eyebrow.

"Um, yeah," I said humbly, looking at Higgins.

"OH MY GOD ...," the couple said, all excited. "We KNEW that was you. That was a GREAT episode!!!"

Higgins just watched me and chuckled.

"Um, it's nothing," I explained to him. "I died on a student soap opera."

"Yeah," Higgins said smugly. "It sounds like you lead a real boring life in Athens ..."

My mother and stage nudity.

When I was a junior in college, the UGA Drama Department did a production of "Hair."

Figuring my mother was my age then when "Hair" originally came out, I told her about it.

"Benjie, I know the only reason you wanna go see 'Hair,'" she said to me, blushing. "There are naked people in it."

And, before thinking about what I was saying, I just sorta spat out, "Oh please, I dated a member of the cast. I know what they have to offer. Trust me, that's NOT why I want to go."

My mother looked at me with this semi-stunned expression on her face.

Looking in her eyes, I think I mumbled, "Uhhh...," then I left the room.

Like a record, baby.

A couple nights ago, I called Vic on her cell phone, and she almost missed the call because she's set her ring tone to "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves.

"Hello ... Oh, I'm sorry," Vic said, picking up the phone. "When the song starts, I sing along to it, and I forget to actually answer."

The song that always used to do that for me, though I don't have a fancy ring tone, was "Come On, Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners. It reminded me of Wednesday Night '80s back at Boneshaker's when I was in college. I'd jump up and down in a circle waving my hands in the air when that song came on. It was one of the few I could lose myself in, without care that I was somehow being watched or that my stomach was somehow keeping a rhythmic bounce opposite the rest of my body.

The first time I thought my mother might be OK with me and the whole gay thing was, actually, an '80s music moment.

My mom and I used to dance together in our kitchen, a variation on some sort of swing dance that I now do with my girl cousins at family weddings. My mom, in teaching me, wouldn't really use music. She'd do a step, and she's show me how to follow through with another step. Eventually, you had a whole routine down.

But the best dance I ever had with my mother actually took place a couple years ago. I was out of college, hanging out in the living room and watching VH1. And my mother, who I think was making dinner, came in to tell me that the meal was ready.

Catching a glimpse of the television set, she asked me what was going on.

"Mom, it's 'The RuPaul Show," I said. "Please don't make me change it. Dead or Alive is coming on."

"What?," my mom asked. "What's Dead or Alive?"

"They sang 'You Spin Me Right Round," I said.

"Oh, so they're a band," she said.

"Yeah," I said. "Just watch."

And Dead or Alive, dressed in some sort of off-putting, death-metal regalia so that they looked like an anorexic version of KISS, took the mike from RuPaul.

"Um, I don't know if you should be watching this," she said to me.

Then, Dead or Alive started playing the song. The song.

And Mom recognized it.

"Hey, they play this at the bar Jerry and I go to," she said.

"Yeah," I said, "they play it at my favorite bar every Wednesday."

Then I started dancing. Jumping up and down and shaking my head.

And my mother took my hand, and she started doing the Twist. It was really funny.

And we just sorta rocked out in the living room.

My partially-deaf, former-music-teacher mother and her New Wave-loving, homosexual, dancing-though-disabled oldest son.

No one interrupted us. The song played out until the end, and we laughed as RuPaul came back on the screen.

"Is that a man?" my mother asked me.

"That's RuPaul," I said. "Surely, you've heard of her."

And we stood there, still holding hands from the dance, and giggled.

Cooking fever. Or cooking through fever.

I missed work again Friday. I missed on Thursday because my throat had clogged up for some reason, and I sounded like Bea Arthur. Since much of my job involves me talking on the phone, when I actually get around to doing my job, I don't like sounding like Bea Arthur with a hacking cough when I call people.

I'm scared that I missed work. I'm scared that it will affect my numbers this month. I'm scared that, not just because I was sick but because I was somehow lax at work when I was well, that I'll be booted out the door of my company. Of course, I've been sick there before. And I've missed work because of it before. But things nowadays feel, I don't know, tenser and more urgent. Like any week could be my last. Because I should leave that job. Because I don't care about it. Because the bosses know that, though I can do it, I don't care about it, and that makes me a bad employee to have around.

So Thursday, when I missed work, I called them over and over offering penance and assistance.

My boss told me that horrible coughing wasn't necessary and all I needed to do was rest and get better.

I kept calling them anyway, for I felt like my ass was on the line. And because I felt like they needed me. And because I knew that I was really sick and that I didn't need to be at work, even though I felt like I wanted to work.

A supervisor told me to call my doctor. I did, and my doctor was unavailable. The nurse said she'd try to find a way for me to see him.

It was an odd feeling, being sick and wanting to go to my office anyway.

I couldn't stop panicking about work, in between coughing and in between squawking Bea's solos from "Mame," so I took some Nyquil. It was 11 a.m.

Four hours later, I woke up when a call from Lupo came in, and I found out that I'd missed a call from my doctor's office because of the Nyquil.

So I called the nurse back. Then I dozed off again.

Another four hours later, I woke up, wondered where the hell the day had gone and tested my voice to see if I was sick.

I'd gone from Bea Arthur to, like, Barry White. And it was not smooth. And it was not pretty.

So I watched some "Gilmore Girls," and I read some of "Empire Falls," a book I'm actually getting into.

Then I called work at 11 p.m., gave my supervisor's voicemail an update, took some Nyquil and surprisingly went back to sleep.

At around 6:45 on Friday morning, I woke up, tested my forehead, tested my voice, cleared my throat again, coughed again and realized that I was still sick.

So I called my supervisor, gave him another update saying that I wouldn't make it in, then I slept until about 10 a.m.

Then I called the nurse again to see if I could see my doctor today. Again, he was too busy to see me. So the nurse told me to overdose on liquids, Tylenol and vitamin C, which I actually own already, and call them if I didn't feel better by Monday.

I still felt a little sick, lightheaded and woozy with the occasional cough. People on the phone and online would ask me if I had a fever. I told them I didn't own a thermometer.

But I had to go out to deposit my paycheck. And maybe buy a thermometer.

And I realized that I couldn't feel guilty about missing work anymore. There was nothing to be done about it. I was sick. That was that.

Then I noticed that my illness had afforded me an opportunity to either clean my horrible, atrocious apartment and its bathroom. Or I could cook.

So I went to my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, gathered up a recipe for slow-cooked pot roast and a recipe for a quick beef stroganoff, and I headed to the store when my soaps ended.

(And, incidentally, I left when Kurt stopped talking to me on AOL about whether he should get a sex-change operation. I voted no on the sex-change because it's a waste for someone that pretty to be a girl.)

The pot roast is in my birthday-gift slow cooker now. It'll be done sometime tomorrow, though I'm afraid to go to sleep with a cooking appliance on, even though I know that's kinda the point of a slow-cooker.

Ooh, earlier tonight, I called my dad's house, and, even though he answered the phone, I immediately asked for my stepmother.

"Benj???," my dad asked me, confused after I asked for Cindy.

"I'm making the pot roast," I said. "I need her advice."

She told me that I'd pretty much done everything I was supposed to, though she said she opted for marinade over the merlot-and-Worcestshire-sauce combo I put into it. And she told me to buy some Cream of Mushroom soup and add it to the concoction, for it will make a good gravy.

I think I still have a fever. The leftovers from the stroganoff are in the fridge. It's 2 a.m., and I just put the Edy's Cookies and Cream carton back into the freezer. I'm watching the episode of "Gilmore Girls" where Lorelai and Max make out on his desk during Chilton Parents' Day.

The roast has actually been cooking for several hours now. It will probably be done around 8 in the morning. I'm thinking of taking it, as soon as it's around 11 a.m. or so, to Larry's condo because I can't dare to eat all this by myself. And it smells WAY too good not to share, if I do say so myself.

Besides, I'm feeling a little less sick, though I'm still doing the liquids and the vitamin C and may call in to the store tomorrow to tell them I don't want to push it.

This whole massive cooking thing has been a lunatic move that must've been brought about by fever. There's no way I would've done any of this cooking if I'd thought rationally about it.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

My heart could use some glasses.

Paul Westerberg once sweat on me.

It was funny. I was at the Georgia Theatre in college with my girlfriend, who was this huge fan of his, at one of his concerts, and she wanted to get close to the stage.

So I stayed back toward the doors, listening to the music, and she made her way through the mosh pit.

And Paul Westerberg reached the end of a song, and I think he might've been pissed off or something because he just stormed off the stage, then walked through the crowd, which parted for him and then followed him as he walked past them.

I was in a daze. I didn't notice he was even off the stage before he was right in front of me.

And he walked right up to me, wiped sweat off his brow on to me, then walked out the doors.

His tour bus was parked outside.

Everyone, following Paul Westerberg, just ended up on the sidewalk.

Somewhere, standing near me with his entourage, was Michael Stipe. I said hello to him, since we'd met, and he said hello back.

And that was that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Barbie in Kate Spade.

Jenipher wrote me today to tell me that she desperately wanted the new Kate Spade Barbie. Seeing the doll, though, I sent Jenipher a critique.

That floral print coat is heinous, and I don't know who messed up Barbie's coloring like that - but girl needs a mayonnaise treatment, stat.

And why would you put a mangy dog in a $3,000 handbag?

Is Barbie on her way to the loony bin since Ken dumped her ass?

Jenipher replied, "You're in the world of Barbie. Don't question it."

Monday, July 12, 2004

Those who can't do ...

I want to write a book within the next year. And the book that I want to write needs to be a romantic comedy.

Because I know nothing about love and even less about romance, I think I'm the precise person to write such a book, a book that I would actually want to read. I don't think, as of yet, that I've actually written anything with a coherent plot that people would actually want to read. I only ever write about myself, and I'm, thus far, only successful at keeping a journal or writing a ridiculously silly soap opera.

I thought of writing screenplays, dramatically moving "great novels" and cheesy television shows. I wonder if I could, with any degree of success, actually be able to write funny chick-lit, the sort my friend Jenipher would read about love and shopping. I met this local author Emily Giffin, who's written a fairly successful chick-lit book. She autographed my copy.

I decided I need to write a book in the next year.

I figured out that my latest problematic affair is, funnily enough, one of the most normal problematic affairs I've ever had. I'm doing fine, comparatively. My disappointment hasn't even resulted in a special visit to my therapist.

This whole thing happened because I'm doing what lots of single-yet-dating gay (or whatever) people my age are doing, and it's the sort of thing we're all dealing with.

There were no arsonists in this last affair. No old men seeking young men to go all "Death in Venice" with. No former hookers. No family members. No married men. No illegal massage techniques. No online-dating situations. There were no ceramic clowns. No one had a nervous breakdown. No one sneezed in the middle of a really deep kiss. This time, the drag attack had nothing to do with the actual affair itself. I was awake during all sexual activity. Nothing required a special trip to South Carolina. And no one defecated on more sensitive parts of my anatomy.

There were no overly-attentive, possibly psycho mega-stalkers. (I'm not even one this time.)

This is all a sign, I guess, that I'm learning.

So I'm going to write a romantic comedy. Or try to.

Anyone here know how to write fiction?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Because of the blog.

OK, one year ago today, I started the blog, and I wasn't sure necessarily how to mark the occasion.

Because of the blog, I've written several dozen good essays, maybe a couple of my best ones.

Because of the blog, I've met a couple great people who I wouldn't have met otherwise.

Because of the blog, I was able to iron out my thoughts enough to move out of my crackhouse apartment in Buford.

Because of the blog, some of my friends from high school - and my former math teacher - now know the last time I had sex.

Because of the blog, my friend Larry mentions how I'm wasting my writing talents by giving my stuff away for free on the Internet. So I argue that it wouldn't be published, and he gets mad at me and tells me that I don't know what I'm talking about.

Because of the blog, strangely, I now know the answer to the question I posed to myself in the first entry. I do not go out seeking bad relationships and bad dates just to come up with good stories. The bad stuff is going to happen to everyone. I just know how to find humor in my own situation.

So, yeah, the blog's been going for a year now.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Tricking yourself.

I saw Hennessy at Burkhart's Pub, post-drag attack.

A few minutes after saying hello and hugging him, asking him if he'd gotten an e-mail I sent him, he sat me down on the bricks where we met, touched me on the leg and gave me a "We Need to Talk" speech.

Apparently, I'm a really great guy, and he had a lot of fun with me last Sunday. But Hennessy went on a date on Thursday with someone he really clicked with. And he didn't know what I was looking for but he wanted me to not get hurt or too emotionallly involved.

I told him I wasn't too hurt or emotionally involved. I mean, I know how I fretted this week with the "Will He Call?" bullshit, but I honestly didn't know how I felt about him and was looking forward to finding out about something that seemed promising.

So I said, "I want to have sex with you again."

I had fun having sex with him last week. And, I figured, if he was going to give me the "I Don't Want You to Get Hurt" schpiel anyway, why not try to have sex again?

Hennessy asked me what I wanted, how I felt.

In my head, I'm thinking, "Well, I know what I want in terms of long-term. And I know, in terms of my dick, what I want right now. And, uhh, am I supposed to want anything yet? I've known this dude a week. A damn week. Why the fuck is this all getting so complicated so damn quickly? And how weird is it that I'm not the one currently complicating it? Can't I just decide whether I like someone before I'm TOLD not to like them, even though they liked me last week and still have their hand on my knee this week?"

He went out on a date on Thursday and fell in love. Yeah, that's great. But, by that timing, the entire situation could be different by next week.

"How's he in bed?" I asked Hennessy of the new boyfriend.

"I don't know," Hennessy said. "We've not done that yet."

"WHAT?" I asked, incredulously.

I know melodrama, after all. And I know the "I Don't Want to Hurt You" Speech.

It isn't fair. So I decided not to play fair.

I kissed him. Then I kissed him again. Then, we went to another bar, and he sat in a stool, and I kissed him until his friends came up and introduced themselves. I kissed him, and his roommate bought me a drink. And I thrust Hennessy against a mirror on the wall and kissed him until both the mirror and our glasses had steamed over. And I kissed Hennessy while he pulled me by my shirt on top of him onto the jukebox during a Britney Spears song.

He wanted to take me home with him but said that he couldn't. Then he told me I was terrific. Then he started to cry. Then I hugged him and kissed him because he was crying.

Then I took him outside, told him that the situation he was in was stupid and that my timing always sucked. And I told him that, last week, I thought I liked him. Then he started to cry. Then I hugged him and kissed him because he was crying.

So I went with him to his apartment, telling him that I wanted to talk even though I think we both knew how that actually translated.

We were both in our underwear, and I'd pinned him down on the bed when he started to cry again, feeling "guilty" because I was so "terrific" and "deserved better."

Uh huh. I've heard that before.

In the morning, we talked about all the stuff we had in common. We quoted a Willow-Tara dialogue from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" verbatim to one another.

Fueled by that, I asked him to "a movie," even though I only had a vague idea of what movie I would see with him.

"It depends," he said to me, trying to out-drama me. "Are we going just to hang out ... or is this a date?"

"Which one would you say 'yes' to," I said. "I'm asking that one."

But I can't see him again because, even though he does return phone calls, I shouldn't like him. But I might see him again, for I don't often do what's best for me - even when I know what that is.

If he wants casual sex, I don't want to hear about his boyfriend. If I date a dozen guys, you know, and none of them are serious, committed relationships, they don't have to hear about one another.

Hennessy likes kissing me. Hennessy cries and means it. Hennessy admits he's melodramatic. Hennessy's jerking me around, manipulating me.

But, gosh, having sex sure is fun.


There are other guys.

He was a good guy last week, and this week he's a bad guy. So what does that say for next week?

I can't help thinking, though, that sex and potential romance doesn't have to be this way.

Monday, July 05, 2004

When "Dreamgirls" attack.

I got throttled by an angry, wigless drag queen.

How was your Fourth of July?

I was avoiding my mother on the holiday, which is why I didn't attend my hometown fireworks display. I guessed my mother, first of all, was with those grandkids of hers that I've tried never to meet.

I also didn't want to see my mother because the Fourth of July marks the third anniversary of the night that my Saturn broke and, in neutral, almost ran me down in the middle of a country road - which resulted in my big argument with my stepdad where he called me a faggot and told me to get out of the house, which resulted in me avoiding my mother's house, despite her pleas, for the better part of three years.

Larry and David joined me for dinner at Red Chair on the holiday.

Larry's able to treat Red Chair as though it's just some regular restaurant. He likes the eclectic, well-prepared food, and I imagine he enjoys the gay atmosphere. He's able to sit and have conversations with friends of his, in spite of the blaring techno music and giant, distracting video screens.

I, of course, can't hold a conversation there usually. The parade of men on their way to the stand-and-pose section of the bar and the clothing-optional music videos leave me unable to concentrate.

Last night, I thought I was getting a reprieve, though, because the music videos were gone, though there was still a DJ spinning club music. A makeshift stage was also set up near our table.

"Oh," Larry said. "It must be the night of the amateur drag show that Bubba D. Licious hosts."

I'd only seen Bubba D. Licious at parades or on car commercials. I'd never seen her perform, but I'd heard she's hilarious.

When the show started, a stars-and-stripes-bedecked Bubba D., badly lipsynching to a country version of "God Bless America," made 15 unsuccessful attempts to light the sparkler she was carrying.

Frustrated, she ended the song by throwing the firework and the lighter on the ground, telling the audience never to shop at Walgreen's.

My friend David later came out of the audience to help her by using his lighter on the sparkler, but it still didn't work. Bubba D. had to get one of the staff to ignite the sparkler on the stove in the back before she was able to finish the patriotic display.

Later, Martina, another drag queen, came out, performed a Whitney Houston number and then actually performed her own accompaniment on violin. She, of course, received a standing ovation, and I passed along one of the dollars Larry was giving me to tip them to her.

I was, after all, the one sitting in the aisle. I knew, before what happened next, that you never to sit in the aisle at a drag show. But, um, it had been a while since I'd been to a show. So I guess I forgot.

The performer's name was Brittany Powers, and Bubba D. had announced to everyone before her number that it was her birthday and to be generous. (Bubba D. also added that it was important to be generous, even though Brittany "probably won't be any good.")

Brittany came out in a red dress and a raven-haired wig that kept falling in her eyes. Her eyes, by the way, were designed with layers upon layers of liner and eyeshadow, probably intended to mask the performer's actual age. The pancake makeup on her face, though, couldn't hide the wrinkles. Her lipstick was cherry red. So the total package gave her this Bette Davis-in-"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" look, minus the pigtails.

The song Brittany'd chosen to do was "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from the musical "Dreamgirls." Brittany, in an attempt to channel Jennifer Holliday, mustered every ounce of her inner diva for the number.

And when that didn't work, she basically just through an over-the-top fit with me as her primary target.

The whole thing happened so quickly, but here's what I remember.

She walked by my chair, touching me and grabbing hold of the post I was sitting next to. I, intending to tip her, decided to play along by folding my dollar bill and putting it in my teeth. The butt-ugly Brittany deep-throated the dollar so that it looked like she was kissing me, which Larry and David laughed at.

Then, as the song reached an angrier tone, Brittany pushed her way past me and sat on the table of this guy and his female best friend.

Brittany got a dollar from him, then used him to make a play for the song's theatrics. Soon, Brittany'd taken off her wig and began whipping the man across the face angrily with it.

I turned around in my chair to see Brittany, who was probably about 60 and mostly bald with tufts of white hair on the sides, wailing on the guy with her wig. And the guy started, thankfully, to guard his face.

So Brittany backed up a few steps and started beating me upside the head with her raven-haired wig. And, I'm sorry, but polyester hair flying at your face hurts a little.

I put up my hands, I think, but, since the song got more dramatic, Hurricane Brittany just kept coming at me.

While the audience watched and applauded and while she continued to lipsynch, Miss Brittany knocked me out of my chair and to the ground. Then, she threw the chair across the room. (Larry told me later that it almost hit a really cute waiter.)

I was laughing, in the spotlight and on the giant video screens as Brittany stood over me, alternating between hitting me with the wig and pointing her finger at me.

Then, Brittany got on her knees and straddled me, pinning me to the floor of Red Chair. I didn't really try to get up, to be honest.

And I didn't mind when she took off my glasses in the middle of the song, kissed
both lenses and then placed them squarely back on my face.

Toward the end of the song, she dropped the wig, threw her skirt over my head and proceeded to dry-hump me on the floor of the restaurant. (Gosh, there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.)

Then, she threw face on mine, whispered "Thank you, sweetie," in my ear, helped me up and finished the song in full Jennifer Holliday mode, even though she still didn't have a wig on.

And I stood in the aisle, stunned, as people applauded Brittany.

Looking at me with my glasses smudged with lipstick as I tried to pick the strands of wig hair off of my face, Larry laughed out loud, proclaiming, "Oh my God, this is the BEST drag show I've seen in AGES!"

When another performer approached me with a microphone a couple seconds later and asked me if I was OK, I couldn't say anything because I kept gasping for air.

"BRITTANY," the performer yelled toward backstage, "YOU DONE WORE HIM OUT!"

As the next song started, I headed to the bathroom to wash the lipstick off my glasses, and these two cute club-boys started talking to me.

"Was that PLANNED?" one of them asked. "'Cause it looked like you took one hell of a beating."

I told them no.

"Well, on the plus side, I think you're gonna be in DAVID magazine," the other one said.

"What?" I asked.

"There was a guy taking all sorts of pictures of you," he said. "Didn't you see him?"

I'm guessing that all happened when the skirt was over my head. Larry confirmed to me that a photographer took all sorts of shots of Hurricane Brittany's "Dreamgirls"-fueled assault.

And here I thought I wasn't exposed to enough of Atlanta's gay culture.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Happy Independence Day!

In honor of the Fourth of July, I decided to turn over the blog to someone else's point of view.

I asked my beloved Miss Gibson, who has lived in London since we graduated college in 1998, to write us all a column on why she betrayed America. (Her change-of-citizenship, from what I understand, is still being processed by the Home Office in Britain, from what I understand.)

She applauded the idea, and I think she liked when I called her Benedict Arnold. So she wrote me something, and it's a good one.

Nowadays, when I read one of those bumper stickers that says, "If You Don't Like America, Get the Hell Out," I think of Miss Gibson. Because she did.

by C. Elizabeth Gibson

Another year, another fourth of July going uncelebrated. One of the pitfalls, if you could call it that, of expatriate life is an absence of partying on various national holidays. Much like I wouldn't expect Guy Fawkes' Day to prompt drinkies in Georgia I don't expect fellow Londoners to break out the fireworks and US flags. I could, I suppose, go track down other Americans. Ring up the Embassy, see what's going on. But I don't feel like it.

I've fallen out of love with the 4th.

The last great time we had together must have been in Macon, Georgia, in 1995. I remember my family coming to see me when I was spending time down there in my embryonic days of journalism an intern. We caught a Macon Braves Game, ate some fried chicken (and apple pie). It was all very wholesome - and that's what the 4th is about, right?

Fast-forward to July 4, 2003. I was in, of all places, Lebanon TN (it's my mother's fault - she lives there). I was on my yearly trip home, just hanging out. And that's exactly what we did - hang. Neither of us could be bothered to meet people for a barbecue, or go to another place for beers, or meet up with other people for fireworks. Full blown July 4th apathy. We laughed it off at the time, citing just a general level of crapness, but now, a year later, I realise the extent of my disenchantment. It's hard to sing hymns of praise to the mom-baseball-apple pie trinity any more. An illegal war in Iraq, a stealth war against America's poor (under the guise of states slashing social spending to balance their budgets) and a blind spot on the environmental damage of consumption have worn me out. The anger is exhausting, because it's usually daily. Sometimes just a small dose of a minute or two, prompted by a headline; sometimes a deluge for hours, in heated discussions.

It's difficult these days to swell up proudly at the thought of America's greatness, and it's all to easy to gnash and wail over the latest Bush caper - especially where I am, safely nestled in the warm bosom of Britain's liberal left. But that doesn't mean there can be no reignition of feeling with the 4th. A commitment to human rights would be like chocolates; joining Kyoto would be like roses - and getting the hell out of Iraq would be the big, fat diamond engagement ring. But this won't be happening any time soon. There are many Americas to love and to celebrate, but I fear it is the unpleasant one that is overwhelming the others. I'm American, and will always be, no matter where I live and how many passports I have, and for that fact, and that fact alone, I want once again to have a country - for myself and everyone else - that is worth setting off Roman candles for.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Avoiding any obnoxious Sacheen Littlefeather jokes.

Yes, beyond question, Marlon Brando was a great actor. I mean, STREETCAR, THE GODFATHER, ON THE WATERFRONT and the odd, weird but good LAST TANGO IN PARIS.

But, and I think a lot of the retrospectives might gloss over this, I feel it necessary to remind you all that Brando was a damn nutjob.

I mean, seriously. The guy was freakin' looney toon. He went from method acting to method derangement.

The Sacheen Littlefeather incident at the Oscars. His psychopath children attempting to shoot themselves or one another.

I remember reading articles about ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. How, through "inspiration," he insisted that his title character wear an ice bucket on top of his head throughout the entire film. Check it out. Seriously. The dude's wearing an ice bucket on his head in that freakish, clone-midget piano scene.

Apparently, during filming of THE SCORE, he kept calling director Frank Oz "Miss Piggy" - because he used to be a Muppetteer - and he refused to be on the set with him because of the guy's past with the Muppets.

And Brando was big as a damn house. I mean, look at how good looking he once was. Jeez.

So, yeah, pay tribute to the great performances of one of the best actors of our time this weekend. Watch THE GODFATHER. Raise a glass.

But also take a moment out of your heartfelt goodbye to realize that, you know, Marlon Brando hasn't given a significant performance since SUPERMAN. And he hasn't given an actually good performance since years before that.

Oh wait, I forgot APOCALYPSE NOW. Where he gave a really great performance as a complete looney-toon.

For the past 30 or so years, come on, the dude's been an around-the-bend lunatic.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I didn't mean to offend any friends of actress Maria Cruz by incorrectly stating that Sacheen Littlefeather wasn't a real Indian. She is. She was. I was wrong. I made the error thinking that she was a hired actress. She was an actress, but she is also a Native American.

Charing Cross

My friend Liz, who's known me since we were in a gifted class together when I was in kindergarten, reads the blog and the REUNION soap I used to write more often.

Reading over my London trip entries here, she was reminded of her own year abroad there. She told me a couple weeks ago that she had some Londonesque things she thought I would like.

The parcel, which I'd forgotten was even coming, arrived yesterday.

Reading through one of them all last night, it reminded me of how I used to view London before I actually made it there and how it fulfilled and exceeded every expectation once I did get there.

I highly recommend the books, mentioned below in the e-mail that I sent her, and I thank Liz again for sending them to me.


I just devoured 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD, which arrived only a couple hours ago but proved to be a quick, entertaining read.

It made me nostalgic for London and, beyond that, made me recall the times when I wanted so badly to get there but thought it impossible.

My favorite passage in the book, in fact, is the one that Helene cited twice, that the London you want to find is the one you'll find there. That was certainly true of my trip there earlier this year, and I'm incredibly eager to make my way back to it.

I started THE DUCHESS OF BLOOMSBURY, but I can't quite do it again this evening. I should go to sleep, as I have to work in the morning. I did, in that book, read about Helene's initial meeting with Nora, Frank's wife. And I read that Marks & Co. closed its doors before Helene got to see it. That, more than anything, made me sad.

I love you. And I thank you for thinking of me.

I miss London. I really, really miss it. I was only there a week, but, my God, I love who I was there.

Earlier this week, I aggravated the leg injury I got while I was there, and the pain made me oddly nostalgic. I mean, not being able to walk far in my bookstore reminded me of the day that I was stuck in St. James' Park, both unable to move and thankful that I was lucky enough to be in the one place I wanted to be more than anywhere else.

To be hurt is bad. To be so hurt that you take the time to have an ice cream cone in St. James' Park, watching passersby and Buckingham Palace in the distance, was a blessing.

Anyway, I'm going on.

Thank you. Really.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

Leave a message.

For the record, Hennessy called me back 27 hours after I left him an initial message. And he referred to me as "cutie."

Yes, it shouldn't matter. And, yes, I worry too damn much. You're right. You're absolutely right.

But I've NEVER been able to wade through this well. I know no one does. But, I'm serious, I scare people. And, in trying not to scare people, I usually scare them anyway.

(My friend Lisa at work usually reacts to the news that I've had sex with a facial _expression that rivals someone in Tokyo's as Godzilla approaches. I'm bad news when I date because I panic. It's better that I don't date until I learn to date correctly, but how do I learn the correct way to date without dating?)

I don't know how this works. I also, sadly, don't know how to relax yet.

But I'm working on it. Really, really, really.

It's just hard.

I don't know if it's the abuse or the years and years of bad dates and broken hearts that followed it. It may have something to do with that.

It may have more to do with the fact that the little elements that have added together to make me who I am at this moment have left me with some tools to be happy - while leaving other tools out.

I'm working on it.