Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The umbrella statement.

This regular customer of mine, the Bald Spaniard, comes into the music department last night while I was talking to Manager Chuck and starts to chat with me, even though Chuck is mid-sentence and was in his cute, smiling, playful, talkative mode.

"Have you seen my umbrella before?" the Bald Spaniard asks me, holding his umbrella out for me to see. "One of my faggy friends gave it to me."

Chuck, at that, took off. I didn't see his facial expression or anything. Chuck just walks away.

Hoping I misunderstood him, I asked the Bald Spaniard, "One of your what?"

"Fagoli," the Spaniard said.

So I'm thinking I misunderstood him.

But then he said, "See, it's a rainbow!"

"Oh," I said.

And I walked away from the Bald Spaniard, not eager to talk to him about that or anything.

The last time he was in the store, the Bald Spaniard complained to Matt that he felt like he was the only Republican inside the Perimeter.

When Chuck came back, after the Bald Spaniard was gone, I asked Chuck if he'd heard the same "inappropriate thing" that I had.

Chuck said he thought so, that I wasn't crazy.

I can't believe The Bald Spaniard would do that. Or that anyone would say that to me.

Kick the ballistic Santa Claus.

For some reason, a New Kids on the Block holiday rap song echoed in my head over and over last night.

I was sitting at Steak 'n' Shake around midnight, having myself some cheddar fries (which I should never, ever eat, no matter how good they are), and I realized that they were playing songs on the loudspeaker from my favorite Christmas album ever: "A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector."

The album is filled with '60s pop-rock Christmas classics from people like Darlene Love and The Ronettes, and songs from it play routinely on the radio this time of year. The song playing last night was "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," featuring a solo from, I think, Ronnie Spector, who has one of the greatest, most distinctive voices in pop music history.

Even if you've never heard of the album, you've probably heard several of the Motown-ish songs on it.

Washing down the cheddar fries with a fountain-made, syrupy "Diet Cherry Coke," which is delicious and is TOTALLY not diet at all, my mind started to wander.

"Wow, a Christmas gift from Phil Spector used to be such a great thing," I thought to myself. "Nowadays, a gift from Phil Spector would involve a bullet to the head."

Then, I started to think about bad Christmas pop music that's no longer available - and how we can all be thankful for that.

And I remember when I was in eighth grade and was under the impression that "This One's For the Children" by New Kids on the Block was a good song. Seriously.

What horrible thing was done to my generation? Why, why, why would we embrace a Christmas power ballad sung by eunuchs?

The B-side of that cassingle, now likely gathering dust in my mother's basement, was the NKOTB Christmas rap song, "Funky Funky Xmas." That was the song stuck in my head last night.

It is, in all likelihood, one of the worst, most egregious, self-indulgent, ridiculous, badly conceived, badly performed and badly written holiday songs ever, ever made. Ever.

Here are two verses of the rap, conveniently featuring the names of every one of the New Kids (except Donnie, who delivered the rap) and some unique holiday sentiments:

Have a funky funky Christmas, have a funky funky Christmas.
New Kids On The Block, let's rock, it's Christmas time.
We're gonna celebrate it with a rhyme.
Danny D, are you ready? - Ready as I'll ever be
Steady - you know, Joey Joe is ready
Jordan and Jon, yeah, come on, we got a funky, funky Christmas going on.

Have a funky...
Funky Christmas and a funky new year, I swear we got ourselves a party here
Girls on the floor. North Side Posse at the door.
Should I stop - nah cool - here's more of this song, a funky Christmas melody
'cause Jordan K feels so Christmasy
Throw your hands in the air - pause - kick the ballistic Santa Claus

I used to put this song on dub tapes for people every holiday. No one could believe that I would actually own up to having it in my collection.

It helps for me to remember buying it when I want to mock someone buying Kenny G or Lou Bega.

Which happens a lot when you work retail over the holidays.

Monday, November 29, 2004

This weekend, I did ...

* Write a character sketch and determine a basic plotline for a new short story. I also discussed my long-in-my-head "Consequences of Falling" project. (No, long-time readers, it is not yet dead.)
* Make the sweet potato souffle for guests at Larry's Thanksgiving, and it was, as reported, a rousing success.
* Edit out some of the phone numbers I no longer call on my cell phone, but I didn't edit out the numbers I shouldn't call.
* Work at the bookstore on Friday until the cold I contracted kept me from being able to do much work. I also attended a Sunday "holiday" meeting that was confusing and ran a bit long.
* Spend a little more than I usually do and shopped a bit. But I also didn't spend more than I have, and I paid off my American Express card and cut it up.
* Did not refill my prescription for Luvox yet, but, on a night that I couldn't sleep, I did manage to watch about 12 episodes of THE O.C. on DVD - getting me from their Thanksgiving episode to their Passover one - AND I cleaned my apartment up a bit and took out the garbage.

* Did listen to the U2, but I did not listen to it over and over. The album I listened to over and over this weekend was "69 Love Songs, Vol. 1" by Magnetic Fields, which my friend Lupo had already touted to me before Andy raved about it at Thanksgiving. I also got Damien Rice's excellent album, "O," which you must get if you have not already; and I bought The Killers' "Hot Fuss."

* Did read a short story from a notable author, though not John Cheever or Graham Greene. I reread J.D. Salinger's "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," which was quite satisfying.

* Did not read WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, though I did read a portion of Ian McEwan's AMSTERDAM.
* Discovered that I'm on track to make my production goal at my office, even if my quality numbers this month are bad. And I also found out that I hate corporate-speak. I said something this morning about 9:15 being the latest acceptable time-of-arrival - but that it was strongly preferred, though not required, that I arrive sooner, and my friend Ash said that I sounded like a character from OFFICE SPACE.
* Did call him briefly. I did not hook up with him. I, instead, spent an evening with someone else, and that was nice.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Larry woke me up a half an hour ago by walking into the office here and nudging me on the futon. Apparently for the second time. I'd been asleep for two hours.

"The meal didn't have that much effect on you, did it?" Larry asked.

All that food. All that wine. So little sleep. Yes, it did.

Larry came in to tell me that Dr. Brodeur and Andy had moved on.

Larry, having only slightly gotten me awake, moved into the other room to watch "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" on HBO with his partner David.

"What movie is this?" Larry asked David.

"It's that one with, um, Steve Martin and Danny DeVito," David blasphemed.

At that, I woke up completely and stormed into the room.

"JOHN CANDY!" I shouted. "Danny DeVito's NOT in that!"

At that, Larry laughed, saying that the clear way to wake me up is to make mistakes on movie trivia.

Larry said he'd tried to wake me up to say goodbye, even placed his cat on my chest.

"I put Murray on top of you," Larry said. "But he got bored."

"Don't put Murray on me," I said. "I'm allergic. No wonder I'm congested."

"Oh whatever," Larry said.

Then, we all finished watching the movie, which I last watched last Thanksgiving.

Then, I swear to God, Larry, who once tortured me over my suggestion of Velveeta Shells and Cheese - and today suggested that Velveeta was part of the Works Projects Administration or something, said the following thing.

"That sweet potato casserole was very good, and I don't just say that lightly," Larry said to me. "I'm going to need that recipe."

Then Larry turned back to the book he was reading, which was one that I brought over in the hope that one of the two of them would like it.

It's called THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG AND THE NIGHT-TIME, which I've not read yet. But now Larry's told me that it's completely brilliant.

It's the small victories, I'm finding, that taste best of all.

All about stuffing.

Once again, people went back for seconds on my sweet potatoes, the sole recipe that I pride myself on and question people about (to an annoying degree) every Thanksgiving.

This year, serving it at Larry's, it was a hit alongside the turkey and muffin-pan individualized servings of crisp stuffing, which also was quite good.

I'm tired and drunk right now.

Last night, I drove to Vic's house while they were cooking, and I stayed there until 4 a.m., working as an unofficial taster of the ham and sampler of the cornbread stuffing, of which they had three pans.

I love stuffing. I love it. It's my favorite. Earlier at dinner, I got into a discussion with a doctor over the health merits of putting it inside the bird or not. I'm for stuffing the turkey. He is not. He's a doctor. Maybe you ought to not listen to me, but my idea is, in my defense, tasty.

I've been tempted to watch a Frank Capra or Capraesque movie. That's the mood I'm in right now.

Oh dear, Dr. Brodeur just called to me from the living room, and he told me to look up the meaning of "fascism" on the Internet. He and Larry are discussing President Bush again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

This weekend, I will ...

* Begin a short story to present to my friends for review.
* Make the "sweet potato souffle" from my mother's recipe for the meal at Larry's I'm attending.
* Edit out the phone numbers I no longer call in my cell phone.
* Work at the bookstore late, and sleep in as much as possible.
* Try not to overspend or overshop.
* Read the children's sci-fi novel that I picked up over a week ago but still haven't gotten through the first chapter of, much to my embarrassment. (I also found out that Kacoon and Vic are reading it right now.)

* Listen to U2 over and over.

* I will not call him. I will not hook up with him. I will not go out looking for him or looking for trouble. He is not interested in me, and he's made that abundantly clear. I would do best to keep that basic assertion in the back of my mind at all times.
* I will try, as well, to read one short story by a notable author from a collection of stories that I already own. Either the Cheever or the Graham Greene.

* I will refill my Luvox prescription at the Wal-Mart pharmacy.
* I will not worry about how much work I have to do at my office, for I will recall that I stayed REALLY, REALLY LATE today to get stuff done.
* I will relax a little.

Happy Thanksgiving.

"Wait, we cannot break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf, and eat hot h'ors d'ourves. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller. And for all of these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground."

- Wednesday Addams' Thanksgiving Pageant speech from ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES

Members only.

Last night, I called my friend Marley in Los Angeles because I'd read her review of ALEXANDER on her blog. I called her not so much to ask about the movie but to ask about one of its specific parts.

"So you found it boring?" I asked her.

"It just didn't think it fulfilled its potential," she said.

"Oh, OK," I asked Marley. "But I'm just really curious about one thing, really."

"What's that?"

"Is Colin Farrell naked in it?" I asked her.

"Yes, he is," she said.

"What do they show?" I asked. "Is there any frontal? Can you see anything?"

"They show him disrobe before he gets into bed with the eunuch," Marley explains. "Essentially it's just a shot of his back at first."

"Do they show his butt?" I asked.

"Yes," Marley explained.

"Is it a nice butt?" I asked.

"Yes, very nice."

"That's it," I said. "I'm seeing the movie."

Marley laughed.

"Is that all they show?" I asked her.

"Um, no, they show more than that," she said. "It's essentially a shot of him disrobing, but then he, you know, turns and gets into bed with the eunuch, and, for like a split second, you can see his dick."

"I'm SO seeing this movie," I said.

"He's turning, and you just see it - for like a second - against his thigh when he's stepping into bed," she said. "And, you know, he gets into bed like anyone would get into bed, so it's really fast."

"Really?" I asked.

"Yeah, you kinda want it to go in slow motion, or you want them to freeze-frame it for a while, but they don't," Marley said. "But that's why I'm going to get the DVD."

"So you don't really see it?" I asked. "Do you really have to look for it?"

"No, you can see it," she assured me. "And ... um ... it's really big."


"Yeah ..."

"I've heard," I said. "I can't believe they cut that shot out of A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD."

"Oh, I know," Marley said.

"I mean, it was so clear in the movie that they cut it out," I said. "I mean, they filmed it and threw it out. But, like, in the movie, they take the camera, they pan it down, his fly gets undone ... and then nothing."

"I know," Marley said. "I was so mad. I just wanted to, you know, reach into the screen and move the camera myself. Pan down. Pan down."

"How gay is ALEXANDER?" I asked her.

"I don't know why they're all making such a big deal out of his bisexuality in this one," Marley said. "I mean, he did gayer stuff in A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD. Here, he just, you know, gets into bed with the eunuch, but they don't show anything. And Jared Leto's the one he's supposed to be in love with, but all they really do is exchange longing glances."

"In A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD, he, like, kisses that guy a dozen times," I said.

"I know, in that one, Colin was completely getting his mack on," Marley said. "In ALEXANDER, he barely even kisses the eunuch."

"I'm so glad they kept in the nudity," I said.

"Yeah," Marley said.

"I'm SO there this weekend," I said.

The long and short of it.

The movie SIDEWAYS led me to wonder how I wouldn't end up like the character Miles, a fortysomething, insecure, depressed, divorced, unpublished author courting alcoholism. It was a very, very good movie, and I really, really identified with Miles, which scared me a little. I drink socially, though, so I don't think the alcoholism was the thing I feared. I think I'm more afraid that I'll just keep doing the same things until I'm in middle age, wondering whatever happened to my life.

Clearly, I thought to myself, I need to write something just to prove that I can do it. (I love it that this thought only occurs to me as a whim, usually so late into the evening that the only thing I really want to do is go to sleep.)

But this time, instead of saying to myself the cliched "Oh, OK, I'll finally start that book," I thought I should maybe write a short story, just to prove to myself that this is not some hopeless, unaccomplishable dream.

In the movie, the character Miles has actually already written his book, but he still can't seem to get it off the ground.

I loved SIDEWAYS the way I loved WONDER BOYS a couple years ago. In that one, Michael Douglas played the frustrated, middle-aged, drug-addicted, depressed writer courting suicide. And Tobey Maguire, in that one, played a frustrated, young, insecure and depressed writer courting suicide. It was a really good movie, one of my favorites of that year.

Of course, in WONDER BOYS, they'd both already written their books.

So my goal of the week is to come up with a character. To write a story of a moment, a singular, emotional moment, the sort I usually can touch on in the journal, but I want it to be about the character, not about me.

Of course, SIDEWAYS and WONDER BOYS were both books first. Written by frustrated authors.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Lupo: An American Boy Watches TV.

On Wednesdays, Lupo and I usually dissect the previous night's episode of GILMORE GIRLS, which has become our latest mutual-favorite show.

But, since it's not The WB tonight, Lupo e-mailed me with an alternate suggestion.

I've italicized Lupo's e-mails in the following exchange:

LUPO: Since there is no GILMORE GIRLS tonight (though there is one this afternoon, in which Emily and Lorelai go to a spa together), I think we should do a pretend recap of SAMANTHA: AN AMERICAN GIRL CHRISTMAS, which is taking the place of GILMORE tonight.


My favorite part was when Samantha said, "Christmas is not a day of the year, but a wish that your heart dreams."

I also liked it when Mia Farrow, who played the rich grandmother, remarked to Samantha, "Stay away from intellectual Jewish guys with glasses."


RILEY: I really liked the part where the beggar girl with the tousled hair looked out from her orphanage window to find that, alas, it was snowing on Christmas - and that if you truly believed in your heart, then something you wished for would come true. And I love how she wished for something cool like snow on Christmas, instead of, you know, parents or a home with heat or something.

Samantha was a true inspiration to those girls. Though I don't know if she should really kiss that boy under the mistletoe like that, for it seemed awfully forward of her and sets a bad example.

I gasped, as well, when Samantha got thrown from the horse on the country road.

My favorite part, though, was when Angus started to cry during Samantha's speech.

"Because Christmas is a time for warmth and hugs ... a time to belong."

Mia Farrow was a delight. Although it seemed jarring when she walked into that house and said, "Damn, this is no PEYTON PLACE. I'm tempted to make a deal with the devil in order to get us some better real estate, Samantha."

LUPO: You make me laugh....I especially love the part about being thrown from the horse, and Angus' tears. He was truly crusty but loveable.

....did you notice the cameo by two-time Christian music award winner Amy Grant as the fiddler's wife?

If I had to rank SAMANTHA, I would say that it was better than RACHEL: A GERMAN GIRL'S HOLOCAUST but not as good as SOPHIE: A FRENCH GIRL'S DESCENT INTO WHITE SLAVERY. I just couldn't buy Dakota Fanning's accent.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Stanford admissions.

Last night CJ annoyed me while we were watching SEX AND THE CITY by telling me repeatedly that I reminded him of Stanford Blatch.

I look nothing like Stanford Blatch. I don't really act like him.

I think CJ - who is prone to the expression, "Oh, that's so GAY!," and uses heterosexual buffer seats at the movie theater - is daring to suggest that I'm like Stanford only because I'm gay.

"I think your friend Kevin's more like Stanford," I said. "He wears brighter colors and doesn't have any hair."

"Yeah, but Kevin's very masculine," CJ said.


It reminded me of when well-meaning friends told me that I reminded them of Jack from WILL AND GRACE, which is not a compliment.

I'm tempted to tell CJ that he reminds me of "Insert Random Heterosexual Male Character Name" here because, well, they're both straight.

And, you know, very masculine.

"Hey, you know, you remind me of Ted Bundy from that serial killer movie," I would say. "You and he are both into girls."

I ran CJ's comparison by my friend Lupo.

Lupo, comparing me to Stanford, said, "Well, you're both gay ... and you both are prone to talk in quips. And that's it."

Late Lunch at Tiffany's.

My friend CJ has been doing hardcore studying on Sunday for his law school exams, and a couple weeks ago he asked me if I minded spending the day with Solenn, his girlfriend who recently got here from France. He called it a favor, but I reminded him that I like talking to Solenn - so spending that Sunday with her wouldn't be a problem.

And it wasn't.

Last Sunday, Solenn and I headed to Buford to catch THE POLAR EXPRESS on 3D IMAX, and it gave us an opportunity to have Chinese food at my favorite childhood restaurant, Lee's Golden Buddha. It ended with me learning a new card game from CJ called Sequence - and teaching Solenn a few swing dance steps.

Yesterday with Solenn was even better.

The day started early because I found out that my old film professor, Dr. Neupert, was coming to town to speak at the Sunday Key Cinema Club, which meets at 10 a.m. The club is cool because they don't tell you the name of the not-yet-opened feature that they'll be screening until you walk in that morning.

Since Neupert is the state's best speaker on French cinema - and because he last spoke at the screening of AMELIE, one of my favorites, I took a guess that we'd be watching a French movie and asked Solenn if she wanted to come along, even though it was so damn early.

The film we watched was the World War I romance I mentioned here before, A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT, which was directed by the same guy who made AMELIE and starred the same actress from AMELIE and looked a lot like AMELIE and seemed like it really, really wanted to remind us of AMELIE. But A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT is darker and way more complicated than AMELIE, and, to me, it was confusing and a lot less satisfying.

A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT is beautiful to look at, first of all. It gives us beautiful shots of Brittany - and it features some amazing battle sequences from the trenches of World War I.

Its love story features two young, innocent kids named Manech and Mathilde, who have loved each other since they were very small. Mathilde caught polio as a child and, in the film, walks with a limp. (In the novel, she's in a wheelchair.)

The movie begins by showing us that Manech, sent to the front, goes crazy, tries to get out of the war, gets convicted for treason and sentenced to a horrible, horrible death. He's sentenced to walk out onto the battlefield unarmed with four other men, where the enemy will attack at morning.

A few years later, Mathilde, who has been told that Manech was killed, refuses to believe it and investigates the intricacies of what happened on that battlefield that day.

As details pile up and characters from the trenches start to reveal layers of secrets, the film becomes a confusing, twisted puzzle involving dozens of characters, some of whom are hard to keep straight.

A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT is another story from Jeunet featuring complications of fate and how a plucky, moon-faced girl chooses to navigate her way through it. You still cheer for Audrey Tautou and want her character to find what she's looking for. But it doesn't "work" the way AMELIE does.

Solenn and I both agreed about A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT, though Solenn didn't like AMELIE and couldn't figure out what all the fuss was for.

Solenn's good at speaking her mind, and she impressed me several times yesterday.

After the movie, we went to Phipps Plaza for lunch, then we did some browsing at the haute couture boutiques.

Outside of the main ones, Solenn saw the Phipps Plaza Santa Claus, and she began to coo because, apparently, he didn't just look like some fake, store-worker Santa. He looked like the REAL Santa Claus, she said. I asked her if she wanted to see him, but she said her devotion didn't run that deep.

My favorite, Giorgio Armani, was as fun to look at as ever. I did my usual examination of all the ties.

Solenn, looking at the women's clothes, told a salesgirl that this one mink wrap looked like it had a bunch of cat tails sewn onto its edges. (Solenn was right. It did look like that. And it was kickass of Solenn to say so. But the salesgirl tried her best to be "unflappable" in the face of adversity.)

At Versace, Solenn and I tried to find the gayest, most elaborate shirt there, and it was a toss-up between several of them. One of them, though, had a hot-pink lining and looked like an Oriental rug from my mother's house, so that one got Solenn's vote.

At Gucci, Solenn and I looked at shirts and accessories, picking out some really good things, but we spent the majority of our time there checking out how damn hot the salesmen were.

I asked one of them where he got his haircut, and Solenn told me that I was flirting with him. I denied it, not convincingly.

Then, we ended up at Tiffany and Co., which Solenn had shockingly NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE. Not "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Not the Tiffany's boutique in Paris. She'd NEVER HEARD OF TIFFANY'S BEFORE.

I was so stunned that I ran the girl immediately to the diamonds.

Looking in the cases, Solenn told me that she likes simple jewelry made of silver. Diamonds - the beautiful, sparkly, beautiful-from-a-mile-away, oh-my-God Tiffany's diamonds - didn't impress her in the slightest. Not the slightest. Which was really, really great.

"What is a big diamond supposed to tell me about the man I'm seeing?" she asked, in her cute accent. "That the man I'm dating is rich? Am I supposed to be bowled over by how much money he has?"

I remarked, in the diamonds' defense, that they were pretty and sparkly.

"It's not practical," Solenn exclaimed, looking at the display. "Just save your money, get me a simple ring with faux diamonds and buy me a car!"

Another lady browsing the Tiffany's display counter, overhearing Solenn, widened her eyes and gasped in horror.

It was great.

The heart necklaces didn't impress Solenn either. She doesn't like anything with hearts or crosses.

A salesman came up to us, and he got Solenn to try on a really pretty, thick-yet-simple silver bracelet. We didn't ask how much it cost.

Solenn later found this porcelain egg with a design painted on its outside that fit in the palm of her hand, and she opened it up, then closed it.

Curious, she looked at the price, and I think it was around $500.

"Wow, $500!" Solenn said. "You should really put something important and expensive inside that. Like cocaine or something."

Then, she carefully put it back on the counter.

Then, we went to the Gap, where we found more sensible, smarter and simpler clothes. It was a lot of fun. At one point, I took a tied fur stole, put it on my head and asked Solenn if I looked like a character from DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, something that I wouldn't have DARED to do at Armani.

The night ended back at my apartment, where we watched episodes of SEX AND THE CITY with CJ until they had to go grocery shopping.

After they left, I ended up back at Phipps Plaza to watch FINDING NEVERLAND, which made me cry.

Everyone else in the theater had people with them. I was, like, the lonely guy in the fifth row with tears streaming from his eyes. But it's not the first time I've been that guy before.

Solenn and CJ should see it. She's plucky, and she has a thing for Tinkerbell.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Without a net.

I've been unmedicated for about two weeks now. There's no real reason why I decided to go off my Luvox, and I don't think I'm in any long-term withdrawal effects at this point. I think that takes about two months to happen.

I'm having difficulty sleeping. I'm having weird changes in mood, but I'm mostly constant.

I'm tempted to cry on occasion, which is bizarre. I don't think that I've bugged anyone more than necessary, but, if I've sent you a lot of e-mails or called you a lot - to an even bothersome degree, let me know.

I wonder if it would be possible to, you know, stay off the pills and stay fine, although I'm not sure if I should risk it without consulting a doctor.

I'm not panicked about it.

Whore for money.

I'm indulging moreso in advertising for the site, in case you couldn't tell, because I occasionally chat up products and stuff. (Hey, I'm a salesman in one of my actual jobs, so why not make the most of it?)

You'll see the usual Amazon links replaced by little, boxed advertisements. I hope no one minds. (And if you do mind, I hope you feel comfortable enough to say so.)

I figure by being straightforward about my use of advertising that it softens the blow of it.

Of course, if you think that I'm a blowhard jackass and that I shouldn't use my blog for such purposes, let me know. I'm persuadable.

This message has been brought to you by Amazon.com.

Our little corner of the world.

Miss Gibson and CK are currently, in all likelihood, at the airport, and I'm at Larry's - where I was supposed to do laundry but instead headed directly over after sorta seeing off the travelers. (I saw them as they departed in our mutual friend Crystal's car for Hartsfield-Jackson.)

I wore a tweed jacket to go see them, and CK, following my lead, put on a jacket. Then, Crystal's boyfriend Teague put on his tweed jacket, and we all looked like variations on a theme. It was quite nice.

Our time together was spent having pizza at Slice, exchanging gifts and seeing an M.C. Escher exhibit at a local gallery.

Crystal and I spoke of "Buffy." I spoke to Teague about his parents' upcoming visit. CK and I spoke of food, Escher, the plot of "Gone With the Wind" and of impossible-to-open Walmart security cases on compact discs. CK told me that I need to come back to England.

I spoke to Miss Gibson of how I was so genuinely happy to see her that I almost cried at one point. And we spoke about the blog.

At one point during lunch, I mentioned the odd thing I found out yesterday.

A porn film star named Johnny Rahm, a nice-enough guy who I once ate a strawberry off of while he was dancing naked at my friend Larry's Pride Party - and who later helped my friend Lupo up off Larry's bathroom floor when he was a bit worse off, died this month. He hung himself at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

"Wow, that's an ironic way to go," Crystal said during lunch.

"Yeah," I said. "The porn star's hung."

Crystal's cool. We segued from the topic of porn suicide to the Chihuly Exhibit at the Botanical Gardens, and neither one of us has seen it yet. I think it's there until Christmas. I've heard it's phenomenal.

Miss Gibson was a vision in black, wearing a long string of faux pearls that looked just fantastic.

The Robbie Williams CD she brought me had a better, sexier photo of Robbie than the one I'd seen on Amazon.

As a means of repayment to her - and because I won't see her for the holidays, I got her a copy of the National Book Award winner for fiction, THE NEWS FROM PARAGUAY by Lily Tuck.

I also got CK a Miles Davis album because, well, I figured out that CK is pretty hip and culturally tuned-in that night I slept on the floor of his flat, surrounded by his freakin' impressive DVD collection - which featured, I think, some David Lean, Stanley Kubrick and Fellini.

(I would've bought him the movie his nickname comes from - since he still hasn't seen THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, but it's not available on European regional DVDs. The disc would only play in America.)

I figured Miles Davis was a way to buy him something that maintained the proper level of cool that CK should likely be accustomed to, and I think he liked it.

Seeing Miss Gibson made me miss being able to see her all the time, even though I e-mail her constantly. We didn't have enough time, this time through, to really break the ice and get to talk about stuff of deep psychological and emotional resonance, though we did have moments.

She's one of my favorite people in the entire world, and I love when she comes to America. She raises the quality of the real estate.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Slow burn.

Last night after the movie, Edmondson came over to my apartment for the first time ever. He immediately called the apartment "spotless" compared to his own house, which I have never seen, and he also called it surprisingly small.

"Gosh, man," he said. "How much are you paying for this?"

Edmondson lives in Stockbridge and commutes. He owns a three-bedroom house, even though he lives with two cats. Apparently our space needs differ.

Edmondson also proclaimed that he cannot cook. He proclaimed this at the point where I pulled the lid off the slow cooker to show him the pork roast that I'd started preparing, oh, about a day before.

Getting it out of the slow cooker was fun because the roast kept falling apart on the fork we used. Edmondson, impressed by that and impressed by the smell of my cooking, waited for the food while I quickly made some spinach on the stovetop.

The only things I had to drink in my refrigerator were grape juice and tea, so we had the juice.

The roast came out great. Really tender - and only a little bit greasy. Even though it had been in the cooker for about 18 hours or so.

Next time I make it, I should put vegetables with it, for that really adds to it - and provides an immediate side dish.

Edmondson ate more of the roast than I did, saying that it was awesome and proving once again that the slow cooker, a gift from my stepmother, may be the best, most practical gift I've ever, ever received for my kitchen. (Wow, I really qualified that praise, didn't I?)

So I made dinner for a friend. And it wasn't even a holiday.

I'm thinking Thanksgiving, whatever I end up doing, is going to be awesome.

Everlasting gobstopper.

I saw this poster up yesterday outside the theater where I saw KINSEY.

Considering Tim Burton's more recent track record (his Helena Bonham Carter period), I'm not sure whether this is going to be good or not, but it's usually a good thing when he teams with Johnny Depp, whom Marley says is just awesome in "Finding Neverland."

Of course, "Planet of the Apes" was terrible, and this is another remake.

Still, the poster's cool. And I loved the book - which this time has the same title as the movie - when I was a kid.

Read it if you haven't.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The dam breaks.

I had lunch with my father yesterday, and it was not as charming and funny as it usually is. Well, it was funny when I was eating my mashed potatoes, and he kept telling me that I needed to "build a dam" for my gravy - which I think he first said to me when I was about 5. He kept looking at my food yesterday, and he said, "Oh no, it's leaking ..." over and over. Eventually, I just broke the dam.

It took a turn for the worse when Condi Rice appeared on a television to accept the nomination for Secretary of State, and my father started to talk about how the Democrats would hate that they weren't the first party to nominate an African-American woman.

He called the Republican Party the party of "tolerance and moderation," representing the values of "mainstream" America.

I got upset.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Marissa is my beard.

The following is an e-mail exchange between me and my friend Jenipher, discussing THE O.C.

RILEY: I got THE O.C. DVDs at Target on Saturday, and I've already watched, like, five episodes. That show is beyond awesome.

JENIPHER: Hello? What do you think I’ve been talking about for the last year?

R: I'm sorry. In matters of culture, I'm not used to being a follower. But, OK, Seth is BEYOND gay, as is Luke and maybe Ryan a little.

J: Did you see this season’s first episode? Seth becomes gayer as the season progresses, even when he is caught in a love triangle. He can’t make up his mind b/c he loves Ryan most of all. I don’t think Ryan is gay at all.

R: Um, OK. Ryan's not gay acting. But seriously, there's the fact that he's the rebellious, vague, muscle-armed tough guy in a tanktop. And that he walks into every scene in the first four episodes and attracts the attention of every man in the room. Including an older attractive lawyer who wants to keep him in the pool house, a overcompensating rich jock, a bicurious and thin geek boy, a muscular, violent Mexican convict in juvenile hall AND a high school water polo team. The fistfights are there instead of foreplay. The whole thing reads like porn.

J: Yes, I will totally give you all of those things. But I certainly don’t think Sandy [Peter Gallagher, the lawyer] is interested in him. That’s icky. Kirsten put him in the pool house, not Sandy.

R: If it were Peter Gallagher from his SUMMER LOVERS period, then THE O.C. would be a different kind of show.


R: It's a softcore porn movie he made with Daryl Hannah in 1982.

J: I looked it up. Why do couples in movies have these wild, random trysts when on vacation in exotic places? I have been to somewhat exotic places (Orlando does not count), and have never even been tempted.

R: Maybe nobody sees you and immediately thinks of having an affair with you. Maybe some wild, Latin man would look at you and immediately want to play UNO or something.

J: That is not flattering at all.

R: What would you have me say? "Oh Jenny, I'm sure that someday you'll be lured away from your happy marriage for some sort of hot, clandestine tryst with someone while on a vacation on some tropical island." Or maybe this? "Oh Jenny, you've surely caused sensual thoughts in dozens of men, the effect you used to have on those Mexican construction workers when you worked at that store Small Things, but they likely know that you're pure and decent. Try though they might, they know they cannot have you." What do you want? I think it's more accurate to say that you inspire the average-thinking man more of "fun card games you'd play with your favorite aunt" than of "hot desire."

J: That’s not what I meant. I meant Gabe and I have never even thought of having some hot, EMMANUELLE-type wild tryst with foreign people, much like Peter Gallagher and Daryl Hannah in that movie you mentioned.

R: You haven't. I bet Gabe has.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Where it's at.

Poli Sci Guy asks me routinely how my attempts at writing a great novel and getting published are going. Every time, I reply, "Fine. It's fine. The blog is good, at least."

But I'm not writing anything outside of the blog. I'm not. I wish I were. Or, no, I mean that I wish I'd already written a good book so that I wouldn't have to settle down and actually have to write one someday.

I logged on to the blog just now intent on writing whatever came into my head, thinking that I might find an answer to Poli Sci Guy's challenge in what I wrote. I'm just not feeling the whole writing-a-book urge right now. It concerns me that it's only an urge I feel occasionally.

Lately, I've just felt tired. I'm trying to open myself up a bit. At the same time, I'm finding new things in my everyday life that amuse me or keep me fascinated.

Like how Chuck the bookstore manager has started talking to me more than he has to, as though I'm someone he enjoys talking to.

Or how people react when I wear a sportcoat into the office, which I did yesterday after last week's reactions.

I'm still inside my own little world, though, and it's still all about me in my head. Lupo's suggested I find a way to branch out, and I'm looking into that.

I don't want it to be a whim, though. I don't want any good thing I do to be on a whim. Or motivated by my own desire to be someone who does good things.

It's weird. I don't know if I'm talking about this the way I wanted to.

I feel like having a sandwich. And chocolate cake. And seeing my friend Edmondson. And seeing a movie with him. And having that be that.

Often I'm waiting on the one that maybe won't come.

Three years after buying it, Sarah Harmer's YOU WERE HERE is still - I swear to God - the most relaxing, folk-and-guitar-infused, genuinely good and touching albums I've ever owned. The fact that you can barely find it in stores anymore is really, really sad, though you can find her second album from time to time.

You've probably never even heard of Sarah Harmer, but she's awesome. Several of these songs would play on the soundtrack of my life, were I ever to make one.

I love this album. Love love love it. If you are a fan of the Lilith Fair style of music, buy this. If you liked Sarah McLachlan's stuff in the late '90s, take a chance on Sarah Harmer. Really. If you like Indigo Girls. Nanci Griffith. Dido. Am I speaking to you yet?

I mean, look, you can get a used copy on Amazon for about three bucks. Take a chance. It's worth far, far more than that.

Go for it. Do as I say. Buy yourself this album. It will make you feel better. It will provide you with evocative mood music for when you're alone, maybe driving in your car. It even has a wedding song. And about five good songs about how to cope with a breakup.

My personal favorite song is "Weakened State," but yours may differ.

Found money.

It's been a really, really rough week for me financially. Seriously. My account was overdrawn sometime last week due to an error I made while checking my spending against my online balance, so I've barely been getting by all week.

It's been stressful enough to keep me from checking my mail, for it's usually all bills.

But last night, it was different.

A couple months ago, a woman hit my car. A couple weeks ago, my car spent two weeks in a body shop getting repaired, and, during that, the insurance company decided to total my car. But I wanted to keep my car, so I used the payoff from the insurance company to fund the repair, a situation that worked out after I stressed about it for about a week.

I forgot that they told me that whatever funds didn't go toward the repair would be sent to me.

So yesterday, there was a check in my mailbox from the insurance company.

It wasn't much. But it's enough to help me out. It was enough to cheer me up about the situation.

So I'm going into the weekend on the plus side of my bank account with a cleaner apartment, a job I like, a job I don't like, great friends and a decent-enough sex life. I feel like seeing a movie.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

What I'm (not) reading.

I can't get started on a new book lately. I'm trying to find something to read among the hundreds of unread novels that I have in my apartment - now that it is decently clean - but I can't quite gauge my mood right now. I mean, I tried BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON, in preparation for the movie, but I got 100 pages into it, read to the scene I've always heard about featuring Bridget's interview with the real Colin Firth, then saw that there were 200 more pages and just ... couldn't ... do ... it.

The movie's coming out this weekend, too, so it's not like I have to read the book now. It's like I've run out of time and patience for it, but what I read of it was just fine.

It was the same way I treated THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE - which I started, got decently into and then just stopped reading.

With that one, I was interested up to a point, for I'd forgotten a lot of it from when I was 11. But once I'd satisfied my curiosity about it, I just couldn't keep reading it.

I'm tempted to try JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL again, for I feel as though I'm guilty of "plugola" for hyping it up and not reading it myself.


And I wish I could read Sebastien Japrisot's A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT on the first try, for the movie's coming out in a couple weeks. And I want to see the movie really, really bad.

I feel most tempted, though, to read A FAN'S NOTES by Frederick Exley. Because it was hilarious. And brilliant. And challenging. And sad. And complicated. And the only thing that really held me back from reading further was that it had 40-page chapters that I couldn't come to a stopping place on or digest easily before going to sleep. Instead, I'd just keep reading it and reading it, staying up WAY TOO LATE to try and make some headway. It's still next to my bed. I just haven't done it yet.

It's really hard to read about a smart man with a tremendous wit having the most difficult, sad, horrible life ever. But what I read of it was genius. Complete genius. The first page made me laugh out loud.

I recommended it to a lot of my friends, and only Vic was able to finish it. Black got further than me, but told me that he had to stop. Everyone who read even a portion of it said it featured some great, great writing. It's just, at times, really hard to take.

But I still recommend it, if that makes any sense.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Testing the birthday mood.

I just e-mailed Hennessy and told him that I was thinking of getting him a birthday card. I asked him how that sort of thing would go over.

He replied:

I know I am a freak, but you don't have to be scared of me that much!

So I wrote him and explained that I was just trying to respect his boundaries.

I wrote this:

You set a boundary early. I'm just trying to (and this is going to sound like OPRAH) grow into a friendship with you while respecting that boundary.

I like you. I don't know why I like you or the facets of how I like you or how you're going to react to reading this. But I do like you. And, because I like you, I don't want to scare you too much or push you too much or call you too much or annoy you too much.

Besides, of all the people I've hooked up with in the last six months, you're the one I've known the least. Which, by default, makes you my new favorite.

So I'm going to get you a card.

I thought it was funny.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The year without a Very Kacoon Thanksgiving.

Kacoon's mother-in-law wants Mike, Kacoon and the family at their house this Thanksgiving, and she's not seen them all since the Fourth of July. Since their family ties - which were strained - are now a bit better, Kacoon feels that they really can't say no to Thanksgiving.

So I'm not making a turkey for them this year.

And, because I work retail, I can't do the Thanksgiving weekend in Ohio, which is the only time that I get a chance to spend time with my mom alone over the holiday. My brother Dan and his fiancee are going to be there with them, but I've been cleared to work.

I can make other plans. But, argh, this is disappointing.

Friday, November 05, 2004

No one's getting a scarf from me this Christmas.

This is Isadora Duncan. She was a famous American dancer at the turn of the 20th Century. She died a horrible, horrible death.

I found out about it from reading Roger Ebert's review of THE INCREDIBLES, which I really want to see this weekend.

Will there be A Very Kacoon Thanksgiving?

Kacoon and I don't talk as much as we used to, though we do have tentative plans to eventually see SAW and have had some basic discussions about Thanksgiving this year.

Kacoon and her husband Mike, apparently, want to de-stress this year and not feel so constrained. So, instead of the traditional Thanksgiving meal that allows me to oil down and cook up a turkey, Kacoon and Mike mentioned - and this was months ago - making the whole thing a "breakfast food"-type meal.

I asked if I could still have my sweet potato souffle, and they said yes, though again they, um, "waffled" on the topic and again suggested breakfast food.

So, um, I don't know what's going on with Thanksgiving.

I've been invited to other dinners. (Heck, I even got invited back to Wes and Travis's Thanksgiving - in spite of that one holiday's sex-on-the-washing-machine incident.)

And there's always my mother's house. (OK, no, that's not gonna happen.)

Or I could make my own turkey and eat it all by myself or something.

Or maybe there will be another Very Kacoon Thanksgiving.

It's all up in the air.

No tubs were soiled during the making of this film.

Last night, Ron and I went to see the new David Gordon Green film, UNDERTOW, which Roger Ebert gave four stars.

I thought it was pretty good, though it didn't really have a third act to its story. It just had its characters run and run and run, not really giving them anywhere to go.

Ron, though, hated it. Hated it. Hated hated hated it.

"I thought Dermot Mulroney was OK in it," he said. "But everybody else was just boring. And I kept getting tired of seeing dirty people in dirty places everywhere. I mean, did they not know anyone CLEAN?"

"That's a David Gordon Green film for you," I said. "Everyone's usually poor, kinda dirty, and there's always a broken-down car in someone's yard."

The film also has a 10-year-old actor, who looks like Milla Jovovich in the face. His constant need for a haircut becomes distracting.

After watching UNDERTOW, I felt like seeing something predictable, Hollywood, feel-good and pretty. Since SHAUN OF THE DEAD doesn't fit that bill and ALFIE didn't come out until today, I opted to watch SHALL WE DANCE, which Marley had said was OK.

And it was just OK. It was exactly what I expected it to be.

I'm one of the few people in the world who still likes Jennifer Lopez, I think, although I miss when she used to do movies that actually required deep acting. If you want to see a good J. Lo movie, your best option is still the completely awesome OUT OF SIGHT.

I love my children equally.

Yesterday at lunch with my dad, I told him that all the people at my bookstore that I initially had a problem with now get along well enough with me. I reiterated to him that I take some getting used to - but that eventually I'm found valuable.

He said the weirdest thing back to me.

"Yeah, I've always told you that," he said. "You used to come to me and say that I loved [your brother] Dan more than you, and I used to tell you that I loved you both equally. Dan was just easier to love."

"Huh?" I asked him.

"Well, you know, Dan's cool ... like my brother Dwaine was," my dad said. "He's just always so cool about everything, nothing phases him ... If he knows stress, he doesn't show it. You're more like me."

"Oh?" I asked.

"I always said Dan was born 40," my dad said. "You and I tend to maintain the same mental age of about 13."

I let him continue, and my dad said that he has only recently processed things in his head the way a regular adult would.

"You know, until I hit about 40, I didn't know how to deal with people," he said. "And people always find me difficult to deal with - and kinda an ass - in the beginning, but they like me and understand me once they get to know me."

That brought us back to the sentence that started the conversation, and we continued from there.

In front of the Costco cashier, I told Dad he always forgets my birthday.

"I do not," he said, incredulously. "It's June 20!"

"21st," I corrected him.

The cashier started to laugh.


There was a meeting with the president of our division and the head of our region this morning, and my boss wrote the region that cleanliness and punctuality would be highly appreciated.

So I cleaned my desk as best I could, and I got ready for work an hour before I usually do, showing up on time for the meeting and wearing a more professional outfit than I usually do.

Usually, I look like I just rolled out of bed.

Today I'm wearing the glasses, a tweed sport coat, a navy-blue buttoned-down shirt, a black leather belt, black leather shoes and khaki pants.

I was gonna wear a tie, but apparently my neck has swollen since I last wore this shirt.

So my boss, upon seeing me this morning, said, "Good morning. Wow, you're ... um ... FIXED."

I felt like asking him if I'm usually broken, but I didn't.

This outfit's getting me a lot of compliments. Some people from the other divisions, who only ever see me at these meetings, came up after the meeting to tell me that they didn't recognize me.

Seeing me in my attire, a co-worker stopped, stared at me for a moment and said, "What's going on? You look like Clark Kent."

Thursday, November 04, 2004

True presidents, false presidents.

Today for lunch, my dad and I went someplace other than our regular restaurant. He took me for hot dogs at Costco in Dunwoody, and we went browsing.

While we were eating the hot dogs - and I'd loaded mine up with relish and onions -and sitting on the crowded benches, I asked Dad if he had heard anything about the new Philip Roth book. I figured, even if he didn't seem the type to read Philip Roth, he'd enjoy the revisionist history aspect of the new book. My dad, in college, was a history major and taught high school history at one point.

"You know Philip Roth, right?" I asked.

"No, what'd he write?" my dad asked.

"Umm, PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT and GOODBYE COLUMBUS, back in the '70s," I said. "He won the Pulitzer Prize for AMERICAN PASTORAL or THE HUMAN STAIN just recently. I forget which."

"PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT sounds familiar," my dad said.

I didn't tell him that PORTNOY's the only Roth I've even attempted to read. But I couldn't do that one. Too much awkwardness, psychoses and obsessive masturbation. It reminded me of real life. I didn't talk to my dad about PORTNOY.

"Anyway, this new book is weird," I said. "It takes place in the 1940s, but, in it, Charles Lindbergh defeats FDR for the presidency. It goes on from there to explain how life would've been different."

"Did Lindbergh ever run for the presidency?" my dad asked me.

"I don't think so," I said. "The book just suggests he was popular enough to have won it."

"No, I think he sought a nomination at one point," my dad said. "And I think he actually, um, was pro-Nazi in some of his speeches."

"Yeah, that's why the book has a swastika on it," I said. "It's about a Jewish family trying to live during the Lindbergh presidency."

"Well, that definitely would've changed history," my dad said.

"Oh, and apparently it's got a big, twist, shocker ending," I said about the book. "It's gotten really good reviews."

At this point, a woman sitting down the long table from us looked over at me and interrupted us.

"I'm sorry, but that book that you're talking about sounds really good," she said. "You know a lot about it."

"Oh, well, um ...," I said. "I work at a bookstore. I'm good at talking about books."

"Actually, you have me interested," she said. "I'm going to go check and see if they have it in the book section right now."

"It's called THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA," I told her. "We keep selling out of it at my store."

She thanked me, which made my dad grin at me. Either out of pride or amusement.

Then, before leaving to look for it, she stopped and asked, "Didn't Philip Roth write the RABBIT books?"

"No, that was John Updike," I told her. "He has a new book, too, and they just put his collection of short stories out in paperback."

"Oh yeah," she said to me.

Then she winked and said, "Wow, you're good."

I felt like I was in an ad. As she walked away, my dad looked at me like I was nuts.

To be honest, I had an Updike discussion with someone a couple days ago who was downright appalled that I'd never read any of his Rabbit Angstrom books. So I'd gotten an Updike refresher.

Anyway, when that lady left, I talked to my dad about the election. And he told me that Bush (whom my dad supported) shouldn't bother me so much.

My dad said our everyday life, thus far, has been affected very little by whomever happens to be in the White House. Maybe some policy changes. A tax cut or a tax break. But nothing really major.

I think he's right, in general, and I know that the institution of the presidency and the nation on the whole can survive a bad president. But I fear that someday someone will prove that not to be the case, affecting a profound change.

Like in that Philip Roth book.

Think Becky Thatcher in Manolo Blahniks.

Reading some blog essays, my friend Brad just paid me the funniest compliment.

"You're like this weird concoction of Mark Twain and Carrie Bradshaw."

I'm trying to figure out exactly what kind of book a Twain-Bradshaw hybrid would write. A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN MANHATTAN? TOM SAWYER AND HUCKLEBERRY FINN: THE EROTIC ADVENTURES? SEX AND THE 'SSIPPI?

Sounds fun.

Some points.

Slept very well. Feeling better.

* A friend who hadn't read my London blog entries just e-mailed me and complimented me on them, telling me to make them into a book.

* Hey, this is a fun website. Any company want to sponsor me?

* My mom said she'd try to help me clean my apartment this weekend (for I'm really going to need some assistance because apathy and exhaustion keep me from doing it myself). And it gives me some time alone with her, so that's cool. I can talk to her about her new job.

* Last night's episode of LOST was good.

* I'm supposed to attend a screening of UNDERTOW tonight with Ron, and it's gotten really good reviews. I'm choosing to see it above BEING JULIA and ALFIE. (Yeah, I'm choosing to see a David Gordon Green film above a movie where Jude Law probably takes his shirt off about a million times. Thus, I'm more "film geek" than "gay man.") If you guys don't know David Gordon Green's stark, Southern movies, you really ought to go to a highbrow video store and rent some stuff.

* I sold some DVDs, which should alleviate some financial woes until I get paid again ... and should help me fund my prescription refill.

* Vic's reading some new books I had sent to her, so that's cool. But I can write a more complete post on those later, for those of you who like me when I'm a critic and salesman here.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Upset beyond reason.

My mood, because of the election, my finances and my lack of both sleep and anti-depressant medication, is lousy today. I went to the bank on my lunch break, and Kevin-the-Happy-Guy-Who-Wants-Me-to-Set-Up-a-Home-Loan asked me how I was doing.

I glared at him. If I could've beamed deadly lasers from my eyes, grinning Kevin would've been split in half.

I'm not moping. I'm not sulking. But I'm frustrated with myself and complaining a whole hell of a lot. To a melodramatic degree.

The election has upset me far more than is reasonable. And I've been alienating friends all day, so I think this funk might be medication-related.

Jenipher, discussing the possibility of someone's sham marriage with me, mentioned that marriage was sacred and meaningful. And she incurred my election-anger wrath for that, then called me the most cynical person she knows.

I wrote her about struggle and darkness being at the center of adult life. She told me to read Thomas Hobbes.

Lupo heard about some of my latest shenanigans and suggested that we talk about it over the weekend, but I told him that I didn't want to frustrate him with an analysis of my behavior and lack of general motivation. I told him instead that he should work on his dissertation, which sounds like it's going to be really good.

Another friend, incidentally, tried to cheer me up about the election, as if me being cheerful were somehow going to happen today. I told her I wanted to leave this poor excuse for a country, which upset her. She voted for Bush.

My mom told me that she was sorry she missed me at her house yesterday. I went there for five minutes after I voted to check my cell phone's messages. My stepfather, in that time, got her on the phone and told her that I was there. So she headed to the house with my brother's fiancee Samantha in the hope that we could all get something to eat.

But they missed me. After checking my messages, I hit the door and didn't even say goodbye to my stepdad - which shouldn't surprise anyone.

My time watching the election results was actually fun. I went to my friend Wes's house in Buford (since that's where I'm registered to vote), spent time with him, picked up food and watched things unfold until 11 p.m.

Then I drove back home and realized I'd not taped "Gilmore Girls." (I'm not having good VCR luck this week.)

My stomach is feeling a little woozy right now, maybe because my meal with Wes consisted of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, something from Cinnabon and two bottles of fat-free NesQuik. So I called in sick to the store.

(I'd like to be able to rest, but I'll probably head to the used DVD store to sell some stuff so that my rent check won't overdraw me.)

I'm NOT AT ALL fit to deal with the public. So I called in sick to the bookstore.

I've been saying for two weeks now that everything in my life feels compromised and that I'm not focusing on my own happiness as a goal.

I keep saying that. And saying that. And saying that.

I really fucking hate myself right now. I probably should take a nap.

When is my own fucking happiness going to matter to me?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The big cheese.

Larry just wrote me in reply to the blog essay, "The Velveeta Incident," which I called and told him to read.

I should not have sounded non-commital about the blog essay -- I really enjoyed it. You did do what you often accuse me of doing -- exaggeration -- it was not mostly goat cheese -- if you had read the menu you would have found 1 goat cheese, 3 cow cheeses and 1 sheep cheese :)

Here's to Velveeta!

The menu - for the record - had a history of all the cheeses featured in the seven-course meal, and it was printed on this designer, imprinted paper. It was very nice. I meant to save one and bring it home.

Poli Sci Guy asked me about the wine-and-cheese dinner last night at the store. I told him that he'd probably have thought that the most pretentious moments came when Larry performed one of his original music compositions after Duncan and one of the Davids read aloud sonnets from a book of gay love poems.

(OK, writing that down just now, it sounds way more hoity-toity than it actually seemed while it was happening.)

Accustomed to your face.

The first thing I said to Juan Pablo at Larry and David's wine-and-cheese party Sunday was that he looked familiar. I'm fairly sure it sounded like a line.

"Have I met you before?" I asked him. "You look really familiar."

Juan Pablo moved to Atlanta from South America about seven years ago to go to Georgia Tech, so I knew I likely hadn't met him at school.

(I recall the night I kissed the beautiful Latin man wearing a dress at the Boybutante Ball when I was 20, but that was not Juan Pablo. That beautiful Latin man in a dress was the same one I walked up to in a cafe weeks later and asked, "Hey, didn't I kiss you?" And he blushed, then turned back to his book. I'm never smart in those situations.)

So I thought maybe Juan Pablo was that guy or the guy from the sweaty T-shirt photo that I downloaded over and over and over years ago from Planet Out. But he wasn't that guy, either.

Anyway, last night I was working at the cash registers of my bookstore when Juan Pablo walked up to the counter with a copy of Dan Brown's ANGELES Y DEMONIOS.

"Juan Pablo!" I said a bit loud, and he looked at me and smiled. "So THAT'S why you looked familiar!!"

Juan Pablo is the guy who sits quietly at a table in the Linguas en Espanol corner of my bookstore two or three nights a week, the one whom I walk up to on occasion and ask if he wants me to shelve any of his books for him.

It's amazing how different a regular or semi-regular bookstore customer can look in a different setting - particularly when the customer is seen by candlelight, wearing a good smile, tighter pants and a more open shirt while speaking frequently and eloquently and holding a glass of white wine.

Juan Pablo apparently hangs out in my store after his regular trips to the gym.

He was surprised to see me. We spoke for a few minutes. I rang up his book, shook his hand twice and wondered to myself why I hadn't put mousse in my hair yesterday morning.

When he left, I'd forgotten to deactivate the security tag in his book. So it beeped when he went out. (I hope he doesn't hate me from now on. I was just so distracted that he was there.)

I knew he looked familiar.

Monday, November 01, 2004

A reminder.

Vote tomorrow. I don't care who you vote for, though I know who I'm voting for and have been very vocal about that. (And some of my friends have been WAY MORE VOCAL.)

Just vote.

Bring a book, stand in line and vote. Find a way. Vote.

The Velveeta incident.

Last night, after catching a screening of "Vera Drake," I headed to Larry and David's condo for their fourth annual Halloween Wine and Cheese Celebration. I probably had too much wine and some really, really exotic cheese, most of it goat cheese though I think the capper was an extremely harsh bleu cheese. I also preferred the white wines to the rather tart darker wines of the evening, though I had a bit of a good port while I was there.

Larry and David had set up a banquet table in their living room to allow for 16 people, though only 15 were there. (The opera guy was a no-show.)

At the center of the banquet table was a bouquet intended to mock me. There was a cornucopia of flowers, knick-knacks and, in plain view, a box of Velveeta Shells and Cheese.

Last week, coming there for dinner, I brought two boxes of Velveeta Shells and Cheese that I thought I could make to compliment Larry's attempt at Shepherd's Pie. I mean, I was in the mood for Shells and Cheese, and I didn't think that it was going to be a big deal. I mean, it's Shepherd's Pie, so I thought it would be all right to make side items. (Besides, I was going over there to watch "Desperate Housewives," a show that almost merits Velveeta.) When I came in with the boxes, Larry threw a fit, refused to allow me to make my damn pasta, suggested that I was some philistine and made jokes about it all that evening.

So coming into the wine-and-cheese party, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to know that mocking my Velveeta was going to be a running joke, which it was.

The centerpiece was out of my reach, so I was staring down the "macaroni of my discontent" all night.

My place at the table for the seven-course meal was between Andy, the quiet, pensive, fiercely intelligent performance artist/drummer who's working on his latest album, and Duncan, the fabulous, scene-stealing, all-that actor/performance artist/drag queen pictured above who has a performance at Eyedrum scheduled this week.

I told them I wasn't doing a reading this year, and Andy, who said he enjoyed last year's reading (even the part when I started to lose it and ran from the room), asked me if I was still writing. I told him that I'm generally stuck and feel like I'm making too many compromises in every aspect of my life.

Andy told me to work until I found myself unstuck.

Anyway, on to more interesting things, Duncan and I entered into what became a heated discussion about the new Anita Baker CD.

When I told him that what I'd heard of it was a bit weak, Duncan gasped and went into hysterics. And when I told him that it's generally regarded around my store as a boring piece-of-work and that her voice has gotten weaker with age, Duncan threw himself into some sort of brilliant, hand-waving fit, as though I'd just spoken out against the goddess.

"For your INFORMATION, we saw Miss Baker at Chastain last year," he intoned. "And she sounded just like the CD I have at home. Of course, that wasn't new material, but I think she's still able to hold her own."

From that, I went on to praise the new Queen Latifah CD, and Duncan seemed to react as though I'd redeemed myself somewhat.

He asked me who I liked, so I mentioned Annie Lennox. And that redeemed me in his eyes, too.

Unfortunately, then Duncan and I came to verbal blows over what we thought of Barbra and Diana Ross.

"You pay Mary what she's worth," I said, speaking for Diana. "You do not take two girls who were Supremes AFTER YOU LEFT THE GROUP and claim to be the Supremes."

Duncan said that I was being unfair to Diana, that all assertive black females in the music business end up with the "bitch" label they don't deserve and that her reputation and her rumored backstabbing wasn't her fault so much as Berry Gordy's.

"You take three teenage girls from the ghetto, and I mean the GHET-TO, and you put them in front of an older, powerful man, and you see what happens ...," Duncan said, explaining the downfall of Motown's best girl group. "He was married, and she was a teenage girl. But he was the boss."

As for Barbra, Duncan told me that I wasn't old enough to "get" her. I said that my first impression of Barbra came from "The Main Event," "Yentl" and "Nuts," so I'd caught her in the wrong era.

I also talked to Duncan about what's going on in my life. Duncan, upon hearing that friends had suggested that I drop my jobs and concentrate solely on writing, told me that living like a starving artist was bullshit.

"Honey, there's nothing wrong with being able to pay your bills and have a roof over your head," he said.

Everything Duncan said was punctuated with attitude, and I was lucky to be sitting next to him.

Other people, at other corners of the table, were having their own good conversations.

Occasionally, I would look over at other people to see what was going on.

The single one of the Davids (for there were seven people named David) was having a nice, long chat with the new guy Juan Pablo, who was one of the hottest men I've ever seen in my life. Juan Pablo lives in the complex with Larry and David.

And I'm thinking Larry was being strategic with where he had everyone sit, for the plates were marked. Single David and Juan Pablo looked like they were having fun.

And I know this because I looked at Juan Pablo - and his hair, his eyes, the top two buttons of his shirt undone - over and over throughout the night.

In the middle of my conversation with Duncan (who was with his partner David) and Andy (who was with his partner David), I mentioned to Duncan that I was probably being too superficial when I kept glancing in Juan Pablo's direction.

So Duncan told me it was more than all right.

"Honey, you're a gay man," Duncan said to me, indicating Juan Pablo. "And if you're gay in front of a man who looks like that, you're expected to ... FEEL something."

The night ended with me having a long conversation with Brad, my old friend from college. A long conversation. But it was so late, and I'd had so much wine. So I'm just going to pretend that I don't know what things we discussed on the couch while I had my arm around him.

I came home late to find that I'd not reset the time on my TV, so I ended up with the full episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and only 15 minutes of "Desperate Housewives."

It was a good night, although I think I'm more a Velveeta guy than a goat cheese one.