Friday, December 30, 2005

Things to do with the jackpot question in advance.

- The Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta, which I've attended once, is a crowded, uninvolving trip downtown. Still, the city needed to rip off someone's grand tradition in an attempt to give locals something to do. In 2001, I was in New York for New Year's, but I didn't go to Times Square because, to see the Ball drop, I would've had to stand behind a barricade for eight hours with 3,000 of my closest strangers. Last year around New Year's, I went barhopping in Virginia Highlands with some friends. This year, it looks like I'm going to a party.

- MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, unseen by me thus far, is still playing in theaters, and, since no new movies are opening wide today, I may go see it in all its "broken English, pretty scenery" glory. I never read the book by Arthur Golden, even though I've owned it for years, but I've heard good things about it. To be fair, the cast of the movie is really good and really pretty, but none of the main cast is speaking their native language in the film, which seems like a real hindrance to me. We'd never make, say, Brad Pitt perform HAMLET in Portuguese. Director Rob Marshall was on "Charlie Rose" over the holidays, talking about the movie like it was some masterpiece. Critics, alas, have not done the same.

- THE PRODUCERS is also playing in theaters, though few of the reviews have been good. Unlike the storm it brewed on Broadway a couple years ago, Der Fuhrer is not causing much of a furor at the box office. The original movie is really funny, particularly "Springtime for Hitler." I'm not sure how the new movie's going to translate.
- Several critics have now published their Top 10 Films of 2005 list, and I'm finding my favorite is A.O. Scott's at The New York Times. My personal Ten Best list, not that anyone cares, is half written and should be posted here on the blog this weekend, if not sooner.
- I'm not going to make any New Year's Resolutions, for I don't think I've ever made one that stuck beyond a week. Granted, my mantra for the next six months is going to be "I'm fine with turning 30 ... I'm fine with turning 30 ...", so maybe I just have enough stress on 2006 already.
- I've been thinking over how I did this year, keeping score in some way. I lived with a boyfriend for a couple months. I introduced a guy to my parents for the first time ever. My brother got married and is gonna have a baby. My best friends had a daughter. I managed to extricate myself from a troublesome affair, only getting a little bit burned. I kept my jobs and my apartment. I was almost crushed at a Weezer concert. I saw Ben Folds in Savannah with Lupo. I made a couple new close friends. I got a paper accepted at academic conference. I ventured into a corn maze. I got my photo taken more than usual. I started reviewing puppet shows. The writing class I signed up for proved to be a rather good idea. I started watching VERONICA MARS instead of LOST. And I came up with the "Things to Do" lists for my blog. All in all, pretty good year. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What was 2005 like for you? What were your favorite parts? What parts of the year are you happier leaving behind?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Holiday redux.

- My brother and his wife, married in April, announced that she's pregnant during the gift exchange at my dad's house on Christmas. So yay. Really yay. As a plus, they waited until everyone had opened all other gifts so that my dad still really appreciated the DVD I bought him. Of course, I bought him BULLITT, and my brother gave him his first grandchild. Guess which gift he liked more?
- This weekend, I saw BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, SYRIANA, MUNICH and RUMOR HAS IT. I saw SYRIANA and MUNICH on Christmas Eve, one after the other. Both of those movies have scenes in Beirut. So it felt, at the time, like I was spending Christmas in a really violent Lebanon.

- My stepdad said racist stuff over Christmas dinner at my mom's - like usual - and spoke of how much he loved MY NAME IS EARL, which probably reminds him of his youth. The son-of-a-bitch expects some gift from me every year, even though he knows I hate him, so I always buy him something cheap and throwaway that I know he'll hate. This year, I got him a book of Sudoku puzzles, which cost me four bucks and should be too difficult for him to figure out.

- At my dad's Christmas party, I argued with this wannabe English teacher named Jessica about the new movie version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. She's a Jane Austen purist, so she, of course, hated it. Her version is, quite obviously, the Colin Firth version. I said that her dislike of the movie came from her devotion to the original text and that the movie was actually really good. She called me an idiot. I called her "such a girl." Everyone in the room thought this was exceedingly funny, including the stepgrandparents who now think that this girl is my soulmate. I heard my stepmom's dad walk up to Jessica after the party and say, "You know, I've never heard anybody else talk to him like that before." Upon hearing this story, Kacoon asked, "What, has he never met you before? You argue with everyone."
- My stepmom's dad told me that I kept growing and that I looked like I'd been "well fed." My stepmom bought me Extra Large sweaters. When I told her that I didn't wear Extra Larges, she said, "I did that because they shrink when you wash them." The fuck she did.

- Also, at my dad's Christmas party, I ended up in this long discussion of books with a cool friend of my dad's named Mel, short for Melody. Mel talked me into buying ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand. I told her that I'd never read Rand because I thought it would make me ruder and more selfish. She said that it made her feel better about her perfectionist tendencies. I bought the book yesterday. I don't think I'll ever actually read something that long. It's intimidating.
- The stepbrother I don't speak to - and intentionally avoid seeing at all on Christmas by coming after he's gone - bought me a Simon Mall gift certificate. My mom, who knows why I avoid him, gave it to me as I was walking out the door of her house. She didn't want me to freak out in front of her. I haven't bought him gifts in years. I wish he would stop trying to be social and nice with me. I really would rather reminders of him didn't keep showing up every year. I have very good reasons for not wanting him around. Instead, at family gatherings, I look like I'm the rude one holding a grudge. It's stupid.
- Yesterday, I went to Kacoon's house and gave her children their presents from me. Then we ended up playing Risk again for hours. I don't know how to win that damn game.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Things to do as Mrs. Robinson tries to seduce you.

- Here's a bit of obscure movie trivia. In one of my favorite movies ever, Robert Altman's THE PLAYER, the very funny actor-writer Buck Henry shows up as himself for a movie pitch meeting with a top-level film executive named Griffin Mill, played with vicious glee by Tim Robbins in one of his best performances. Anyway, the movie that Henry pitches - in 20 words or less - is THE GRADUATE, PART II. In this proposed GRADUATE sequel, he suggests that Ben and Elaine have a daughter as a result of their romance, and Mrs. Robinson is still around to harass them. Of course, when THE PLAYER came out 15 years ago, the whole "GRADUATE sequel" thing was a really good, completely absurd joke. I mean, how pointless would a sequel to THE GRADUATE actually be? This weekend, of course, RUMOR HAS IT, with Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner and Shirley MacLaine, is hitting theaters, and it's, more or less, the movie that was pitched in THE PLAYER. Of course, THE PLAYER suggested casting Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross, the incomparable Anne Bancroft and - as the daughter - Julia Roberts. I don't know what to think of RUMOR HAS IT. Its reviews have been pretty good. When I see the previews for it, I can only think that they've finally made a movie out of that PLAYER joke. And if you haven't seen THE PLAYER, well, then you're really missing out.

- Robert Altman, who made THE PLAYER, NASHVILLE and M*A*S*H, is maybe my all-time favorite movie director, yet I've not seen all of his movies. Most of them I either love or really like. Some of them - like BREWSTER MCCLOUD - I hate. A couple weeks ago, I bought 3 WOMEN on DVD, and it's supposed to be one of his best. It's based upon a dream Altman had, and it stars Shelley Duvall and a really weird Sissy Spacek.
- Every gay man in Atlanta - except me - has seen BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Twice. I went to the movies last night to see it, and I couldn't even get into the parking lot. If another person tells me how good it is before I get to see it, I might just hurt them.
- No one has, as of yet, come into my store and asked for a CD of THE CHRISTMAS SHOES, and I'm thankful for that. I fucking hate that song. Someone did come in a couple weeks ago and ask for BUTTERFLY KISSES, and I think I made fun of them when they left. Anytime I'm at a wedding reception that plays goddamn BUTTERFLY KISSES, I have to leave the room before I start laughing.

- Continuing tradition, I sang "O Holy Night" for my co-worker Quaye out in the hallway at my office yesterday. She appreciated it, even though I was a bit off-key. Other people walked by as I was doing it and asked me if I was in a choir. So that's always cool. I mentioned my personal favorite Christmas song, Joni Mitchell's "River," to someone yesterday, then promptly listened to it four times in my car yesterday. I love that song in all its sad, true beauty. Now it feels like Christmas to me. Maybe I'll watch Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis in THE REF tonight, if I can't get in to see BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Tis the season.
- I realize there are certain movies I have to see before I come up with my "Ten Best" list, but I'm sorta dreading actually sitting through them. SYRIANA is one. I just can't get into the mood for it. The other is Steven Spielberg's MUNICH, which just looks so damn heavy. I feel like I'd rather watch a documentary on the topic, anyway, like ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER.

- On the other hand, I can't wait to see Woody Allen's thriller MATCH POINT, which just looks wicked and delicious. (Of course, it doesn't open in Atlanta until mid-January.) Woody apparently loves London and Scarlett Johansson now. Watch your back, Soon-Yi!

- I wish I could watch Michael Apted's documentaries, collectively called THE UP SERIES, and learn something about myself. The series has a simple premise. In the '60s, a British documentary film crew interviewed this group of 7-year-olds about how their lives were and what they wanted to do when they grew up. Then, seven years later, it followed up with them to see how they'd changed and how they'd stayed the same. Then, in another seven years, they did another movie to show their progress. The last film made, thus far, is 42 UP, which shows how the kids are coping with middle age. The question of the series is apparently this: If someone had met you when you were 7 or 14, would they have found hints of who you'd become? Who were you, and who are you - and what was the journey between? (The picture above this is some girls from the movie at 14. The picture below is the same girls at 42.)

- Finally, I just want to thank all of you who've read me once, twice or regularly. Thanks to those who consider reading this list a 'Thing to Do.' (Yeah, that's me being hokey, Lupo.) THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What are your holiday plans? What are your favorite traditions?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

90210: The Musical!

A couple years ago, my friend Jenipher and I wrote an unofficial musical version of BEVERLY HILLS, 90210. Today, I read an article that mentioned how THE O.C. is going to do a tribute to the "Donna Martin Graduates" protest episode of 90210, and I asked Jenipher to dig up the scene from our musical that also paid tribute.

Here it is.

From 90210: THE MUSICAL! by Jenipher Sohn and Riley McCarthy


Stomping, dramatic percussions...very "Les Miz" at attack time coupled with
"The Music Man."

[Scene: West Beverly on one side of the stage, a courtroom on the
other...the two sets will both participate in the song.]


(Hey everybody, let's get out of here! We're gonna fight for
(Let's go!)
(Come on! I love Donna!)
(She's got the coolest clothes!)


We live in America
The land of the free
If you want to drink and puke out your guts
That's ok with me!

The commies on the school board
Whose lives are full of hate
They told us to take tests today
Hell no! Donna Martin graduates!


Donna Martin graduates!
Because she's a friend to you and me!
Donna Martin graduates!
With the class of '93!

[Meanwhile, in the courtroom...]

SCHOOL BOARD OFFICIAL: (Donna, do you know why you're here?)

DONNA: (Yes, sir, I do.)

SCHOOL BOARD OFFICIAL: (Well, tell us why should be allowed to stay in


I'm just a simple girl
With expensive designer clothes
I have a learning disorder
And a large unattractive nose (but I'm getting a nose job!)

I went to prom and had champagne
I truly meant no offense
And now everybody's telling me
I can't graduate with my friends.

My mom is usually mean to me
And says sex really should wait
I've been so good and raised my grades
Why can't I graduate?


Listen school board official
Or you'll realize a horrible fate
Should Donna be punished for bad acting?
Hell no! Donna Martin graduates!


Donna Martin graduates!
That's the way it's going to be!
Donna Martin graduates!
From West Beverly!
With the class of '93!!!

SCHOOL BOARD OFFICIAL: (Well, Donna, you've convinced good, stay
off drugs, and graduate with your friends!)

[DONNA and BRANDON hug and skip off the stage.]

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

PRACTICE FLIRTING: A play in one scene.

NOTE: I wrote this to show examples of self-deprecating humor. Observe.

(MATT stands at bar. BENJIE approaches, using his walker.)

BENJIE: So, baby, what's your sign? You seem hot and groovy.
MATT: Excuse me?
BENJIE: I would ask you to dance, but I've not danced since the telethon.
MATT: Um, who are you?
BENJIE: My name's Benjie, like the dog from those '70s movies. Wanna pet my fur?
MATT: Ew, gross. Go away.
BENJIE: Whatever, baby. This is the ride of your life. And if you date
me, we get all the good parking.

(MATT leaves bar.)

I am a leaf on the wind.

SERENITY is on DVD today. So now it's possible to own all things FIREFLY.

Monday, December 19, 2005

High risk behavior.

I went over to Kacoon's apartment Saturday to spend time with her while her husband Mike did Christmas shopping and she was alone with the kids. Of course, I was late getting there, so, by the time I arrived, Kacoon's mom and Mike were both at the apartment, too. I'd bought the wooden-box "nostalgia" board game RISK on my travels since I mentioned it to someone last week - and I got an extra 10 percent off my store discount until yesterday. I brought it in with me to see if Kacoon and I could figure out how to play it. Well, Mike had played the game before, and he wanted in. So did Kacoon's mom. So, even though I had somewhere I was supposed to be, we played RISK for ... six hours, like megageeks. It was so much more fun than expected. It felt kinda weird to be so entertained by a board game, but we were all fiercely competitive about it. When the game started, Kacoon's mom immediately came after me. But I held her off. Then, I took an early lead and called myself a "benevolent dictator." So, of course, everyone came after me until I was fighting a two-front war. After one of their dice-based battles, Kacoon yelled at her mom and called her a bitch. It was great. Mike, in the end, annihilated his mother-in-law's European stronghold to win, but I'm going back there for a rematch. I want to conquer the world. Everyone else on the board must die.

The last worthless evening.

All this weekend, I was in the mood for a damn good steak. On Sunday night, because I'd just worked a long shift at the bookstore and because I was hungry, I avoided spending time with friends of mine at BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - which I want to see by myself so that I won't be overcome by other people's reactions to it, which happens to me - and instead headed to the new Longhorn Steakhouse on Piedmont, right near my apartment. I didn't require classy steak, after all. I just wanted a piece of meat prepared medium well by people who understood what "medium well" actually was. I figured the Longhorn would suffice.

I drove to the parking deck outside the MARTA station, which was mostly deserted of people, and walked through the newly-designed, also-empty City Center development, another manufactured community setting with nice buildings and nice sidewalks in the middle of a neighborhood of rundown buildings and littered walkways. The new restaurant, the new benches, the new sidewalks all felt antiseptic and false. I carried my collection of short stories with me to the restaurant.

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely, and I think I sorta knew that before I watched the episode of SEX AND THE CITY where Carrie addressed "embracing her single self" a couple years ago, the one that ended with her eating comfortably at a sidewalk cafe all by herself. I figure I'm actually pretty good at doing things on my own, except cleaning my apartment or washing and folding my laundry.

In 1998, when I was in Augusta and regularly seeing this guy named Greg, I discovered to my dismay that I was seeing Greg just so that I could see "someone," so that I could have that "boyfriend" slot filled and then concentrate my energies on other things. When I figured out that, like Garbo, I just wanted to be alone and learn things about myself from myself, I dropped him, and poor Greg was really upset, saying that just wanting to be alone wasn't a good enough reason to break up with someone. Still, being alone is, at some points, the right thing for me. If I'm keeping someone's company just because I need "someone," then that's not fair to me or to the "someone."

I can go to a movie by myself and usually prefer it that way, which is more than some of my friends can do. I can go to a restaurant, sit down with a book, chat up only a waitress, eat my food and be OK with the whole thing. I can fill time watching DVD box sets of television shows, only eventually realizing that it's past any reasonable bedtime.

I'm a capable person socially. I can hold a conversation pretty well with a stranger or balance an exchange with a friend. I don't think that I'm in danger of becoming a hermit. If I'm alone most of this week because of Christmas, it's not because I'm lonely. There are plenty of people who like me that I can choose to see. If I only spend a couple hours at Mom's house this week, it's because I don't relate to some relatives there and would prefer to be at the movies.

Last night at the restaurant, while sitting alone, a number of gay couples were seated in the tables all around me. Over the speakers, the restaurant played Linda Ronstadt's "It's So Easy (to Fall in Love)." And I chuckled and buttered my loaf of wheat bread. The waitress at the table next to mine answered a guy's question about how to eat carb-free there, telling him that he didn't look fat. His date snickered at him. The music changed to Don Henley's "The Last Worthless Evening." With that, it became harder to read my book, to eat my dinner without making eye contact with people. The song, and I nearly complained about it to the waitress, almost put a damper on me, switching me from alone-and-fine to contemplative-lonely with each punishing verse. I thought, "Maybe I'm not fine with eating alone. Maybe I shouldn't be fine with it. Are people looking at me? What if no one ever looks at me? Maybe I should worry about my carbs. Maybe I'm getting too round. Maybe I shouldn't even be eating this. I should do something with myself. I can't sit like this forever. Maybe when I do whatever it is that I'm supposed to do on this earth, then the guy who's supposed to be The Guy will come along. And then I'll be settled. But, then, will I be doing all I do just to find The Guy? What happened to doing it because it was right or doing it because it was for me? I think too much. I think too much. I think too much and go nowhere."

You're done thinking like that until you're not done thinking like that, and sometimes a stupid Don Henley song will set you off for a moment, even though you never have liked Don Henley.

At the same time, I felt like the whole thing was funny, for it was just a song in the background, scoring the scene. My situation hadn't changed at all and didn't have to change. It didn't have to be mood music, so, adjusting, I didn't let myself be too lonely. I left myself alone, though. I reminded myself that I'd chosen to be alone, and I reminded myself why. The song ended, and another one came on that had nothing to do with love or loneliness or despair. So I smirked. And my mashed potatoes were really good, so I gave them my attention until they were gone.

On the way back to my car, I couldn't do it by myself. I had to call a friend and tell her about it, about the song, about the atmosphere of the restaurant. I had to remind myself that I have people in my life, just not in that moment. I had to remind myself that I'd gotten an invitation that night, an invitation that I didn't use. I had to tell her and remind myself that I just wanted to relax and think for myself. I'm good at being alone. I just wanted the steak.

I went to the multiplex, picked something off the list of movies I want to see and sat where I could have an entire row to myself. I sat in the center of the row and looked to the screen, losing myself in it for some hours.

White elephant.

Midway through my day's "work" (wherein I foolishly spent time online and on e-mail, rather than actually working), my supervisor came over to my desk to let me know that this year's holiday luncheon had started in one of the downstairs conference rooms. I received no notice of such a party this year, which I thought was an odd oversight considering how much planning had apparently gone into this year's semi-elaborate shindig.

My boss sat with me to eat after saying aloud to the group, "I'm going to sit in the unpopular section."

I shouted, "HEY!," when he said that, but he said to me that it didn't look like anyone else was fighting to sit with me. I guess he was right, and I didn't mind eating barbecue across from him and the other regional manager. (We comprised three of the five men in the room. There were about 25 people in the room total.) We talked about restoring classic cars, which I only know a little about because my dad does it, and we talked about movies. I told them that KING KONG didn't impress me as much as I wanted it to.

Anyway, I celebrated my status as the remaining token gay in the office during the White Elephant Gift Exchange, which I neither knew about nor submitted a gift for. Someone else gave up a turn and offered it to me.

So, if you know how a White Elephant Gift Exchange works, I had the chance to pull a wrapped gag gift off a table or snatch away a gift that someone else already won, and I used my turn to steal a White Elephant gift taken from one of my friends and right a previous wrong.

My turn came, and I sauntered across the room and snatched up the pretty, black patent-leather purse that the new, unsuspecting girl Tiffany had taken away from my friend Quaye, which led the ladies in the room and my bosses erupt in laughter.

"BENJIE!!!," Tiffany yelled at me. "WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO WITH MY PURSE?"

"OH GOD," my friend Ron said. "Please don't answer that question."

Yeah, like I don't have outfits it would match.

During the holiday photo, we were all told to pose with our White Elephant gifts, and I took the purse out of its box, put my arm in the strap and posed for the photo, working the new handbag to the best of my ability.

After the party, of course, I gave the purse to my friend Quaye. But I did look nice holding it in that photo.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Things to do while you should be shopping for gifts.

- BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, the "gay cowboy" movie and the winner of several critics' awards, opens at the Landmark today, and you better believe that, after reading that Annie Proulx short story and talking about this movie for weeks, I will try my damnedest to see it this weekend. For those of you who missed my first 100 mentions of it or don't happen to know me personally, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is about two cowboys who, while hired to watch a herd of sheep during the summer of 1968, find that they just can't keep their hands off each other. Though years pass and they both enter into marriages and go on with their lives, they never quite get over each other. Ang Lee directed the movie from a screenplay by Diana Ossana and LONESOME DOVE author Larry McMurtry. If you're gay, see it. If you're straight, see it. If you're a man, see it. If you're a woman, see it. From what I hear and expect, this movie is very special.
- The book we can't seem to keep in my store this holiday season is THE SILVER SPOON, a catch-all cookbook originally from Italy with 2,000 basic recipes. Reviews compare it to THE JOY OF COOKING, and I have a feeling that it's as good as that one, if not better. I want a copy, and I can't find the damn thing anywhere.

- My friend Lupo, who loves all things Diane Keaton, would consider me negligent if I didn't mention her new movie THE FAMILY STONE, which opens in theaters this weekend. From the previews, Sarah Jessica Parker looks like she had a lot of fun playing the uptight, bitchy girlfriend of Dermot Mulroney, who comes to meet his family one Christmas. Rachel McAdams, as well, looks like she's particularly good in this movie. One thing I can't figure out, though, is why the ads ignore Claire Danes, who you wouldn't know from the trailers is also in this movie.
- I'm trying to figure out what movies I have left to see before coming up with my Top Ten Films of 2005. I don't know how I got into the habit of doing the list each year, but it's a good, albeit entirely false, motivator to get me to all the serious movies before the year ends.
- I have done no Christmas shopping thus far. None. Well, I bought one thing, a gift for my dad. But I had it shipped to my house, and I've not seen it yet. So it feels like I've done none of my Christmas shopping. Everyone should expect gift cards from me this year. Working retail, my heart's just not in Christmas this year.
- I feel like I've been avoiding writing, too. I should write something soon, something fun. This week's been an odd mix of paranoia, bad memories, stress and work, and I want to be able to relax again soon. Someone suggested I return to therapy, but I miss my writing class. Sign up for it, if you want, at the website for the Margaret Mitchell House.
- This week, a couple friends of mine asked me if I knew that this blog was linked on ATLANTAboy - a blog dedicated to Atlanta gay tourism, culture and nightlife. The link's been there for months now, if not a full year, so I was surprised that it was mentioned to me twice by separate people. But, apparently, Jordan and Matt, the authors of the ATLANTAboy tourism guide, had a fantastic Christmas party at piebar this month, and that got everyone's attention.
- I'm tempted to rewatch A BRONX TALE, the Robert DeNiro movie based upon Chazz Palminteri's life story, because Lillo Brancato, the one-time child actor who played the lead in it, was just arrested and charged with an NYPD officer's murder - which is way worse than anything Dana Plato ever did. A BRONX TALE, from what I remember, is a pretty good movie. That movie taught me that, whenever someone giving you a ride lets you into their car first, it's good manners to unlock their door as they walk around to the driver's side.
- This week on NIP/TUCK's third season finale, the identity of The Carver, a serial rapist, a knife-wielding attacker and an occasional murderer, will finally, FINALLY be revealed to the audience. Viewers have been trying to figure out who the killer is for two seasons now. Because it's NIP/TUCK, a show that's completely outrageous on a regular basis, The Carver could be anyone - man or woman. I expect, when the two-hour episode ends on Tuesday night, that my jaw will be on the floor in disbelief. I have no guesses. None. I've dismissed all my previous theories, and I now admit that I have no idea what's going to happen. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What's been your favorite mystery? Was it a novel, a movie, a TV show or a real-life puzzler? Any lesser-known mysteries that you guys would recommend?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lost and found.

Yesterday, using Google, I was able to find a blog from PG, a guy I knew in college.

His blog is Zauberwelt. It's very well-written.

Monday, December 12, 2005

We're halfway there.

Tempted as I am to write something a little more meaningful here on the blog, I just don't know if I can muster it. I've been really tired lately, and most of my "deeper" thoughts haven't really featured some new, real insight.

*Lately, I've realized that I worry more about love and relationships than I do about anything else because worrying about love and relationships won't damage my credit report, break down my car or overdraw my bank account.

* I know that, even if every job feels the same and that I'm always going to want more, I should apply for other, better jobs anyway because it'll get me out of this seeming rut that I feel, but I just can't wrap my mind completely around it.

* I realize that one of the reasons I've been arguing with my friends more than ever lately is because, of all things, we literally have different ways of looking at the world and how/whether it provides for us. These arguments are unresolvable, but we have them anyway. After spending the evening with one such friend, I called him to tell him I arrived home safely, then said to his voicemail in the moment, "The only thing constant is change, and the only truth is that everyone lies." I repeated that to another friend of mine, who told me that he now understood why I didn't have a boyfriend.

* Roger, Shalewa and I went to Star Bar and MJQ this weekend, even though I had a sore throat. At Star Bar, a guy in a bright blue gorilla suit played a bass, and Shalewa and I went into the photo booth and cuddled. (I've got those photos somewhere ... ) At MJQ, I danced a little, even though common wisdom suggests I should not. When they played Bon Jovi's "Livin' On a Prayer," I waved my hands in the air and shouted along with the lyrics. God, that was fun.

* I'm puzzling over the identity story more and more. Does this mean I'll actually ever write it? I don't know.

* This book is good.

* This DVD set has such good dialogue that it affects how I've been speaking to people. Of course, I'm like that. If I watch a really great Merchant-Ivory film, I end up affecting a British accent for a week.

* I want to go home.

When I'm annoyed, I blaspheme.

I saw THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE this weekend with my friend Steven, and the only thing that I didn't like about it was that there were three little girls in the seats behind us who were shouting out questions to their mother - who was in the row BEHIND THEM - about Jesus throughout the movie.


I walked out of the theater, looked at my friend Steven and said, "I hate Jesus." Then, I reasoned that Jesus indirectly tainted my moviegoing experience.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Connect the dots.

Athens, Ga. 1996. I went to this play at the UGA drama department that was mostly a bust. However, all through it, this somewhat cute guy was staring at me, and, at intermission, I chatted him up. He was Finnish. His name was Sampsa. I thought he was flirting with me, so, after the play, we went to coffee at Blue Sky on College Avenue.

We got to the coffee shop; Sampsa ran into people that he knew, and I ran into people I knew. Something was going on downstairs in the basement with the fountain. It was a concert for some new group - just a girl and a guy of about our age. They called themselves Soul Miner's Daughter, which I thought was a clever name. It was their first official "concert," and they'd attracted a decent crowd of about 40 people.

That Sampsa guy kept flirting with me. The whole night seemed serendipitous. So we went downstairs and watched a bit of Soul Miner's Daughter's first show. Good sound. It got Soul Miner's Daughter a couple opening gigs around town.

That Sampsa guy held my hand. After a couple songs, we left the show to go to the Founder's Garden, where I kissed him. Then, we went to his dorm room, and I kissed him a couple more times.

Then, I left him in his room. And I saw him again that summer, after having not seen him for months, and Sampsa told me then that he happily allowed himself the indulgence of kissing me in that moment - but that afterward he was so plagued by guilt over the kisses that he forced himself back into the closet. He told me, during this explanation, that the guilt forced him to study more and more that quarter. Though I would've appreciated maybe seeing him more than that one evening, Sampsa instead credited me with helping him get on the Dean's List. After he said that, I decided I was finished with the Finnish.

Anyway, a couple weeks later, Soul Miner's Daughter was profiled in my paper, and I told someone, "Hey, I think I saw their first concert." There were many, many concerts after that. After a few years, the duo, having reached a notable status, broke up. The girl from Soul Miner's Daughter was named Jennifer Nettles. She took her act solo. Then, she founded a group called the Jennifer Nettles Band.

And now Jennifer Nettles is a member of a country group called Sugarland. Their major-label album is called TWICE THE SPEED OF LIFE, and it's a crossover hit that won an American Music Award last week. And the group was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy yesterday.

I've never met Jennifer Nettles, but I think I was at her first concert.

Things to do with lions in winter.

- It's finally here. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, based upon my favorite book from when I was in the fourth grade, is getting a full-throttle film, LORD OF THE RINGS-scale release from Disney today, and I'm excited about seeing the film. I remember, when I was reading the books as a kid, that I always tried to find myself a doorway to Narnia, like Lucy does through the wardrobe. I would climb into cabinets and try to knock out the back wall. I would go into closets (Yeah, I know ...) and try to dig my way through the dry-cleaning bags into Narnia. I read all of those books, paying specific attention to how the kids got into Narnia each time, and I tried to find out my entryway. It wasn't until much later that the whole Christian allegory thing even occurred to me. I was just eager to find a new world, even if I had to endure a 100-year winter or battle the White Witch.

- Speaking of cool British cats, it's time once again to watch Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins and Peter O'Toole battle each other in THE LION IN WINTER, perhaps the greatest dysfunctional family Christmas movie ever made. It's what my family gatherings are like, except the Plantagenets have dungeons, secret homosexual affairs, doctrines with France and crowns to fight over. My family just fights about how my stepdad's a racist, ignorant asshole and whether the King James Bible is the official, endorsed word of God, as my stepbrother believes.

- Oh my God, my store has a copy of HE-MAN AND SHE-RA: A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL on sale, and it was all I could do not to buy it, for I remember when it originally aired. From what I recall, after Orko encounters some clean-cut kids from Earth celebrating Christmas, the floaty faceless one encourages He-Man and She-Ra to bring the holiday season to Eternia. Of course, Skeletor and Hordak have HUGE problems with this, not just because I'm not sure if the whole Christ thing applies on Eternia, and He-Man and She-Ra have to battle them to save Christmas. (This likely isn't as good as Princess Leia singing Life Day carols to Bea Arthur and Chewbacca in THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, but you can't find that thing anywhere.)

- Writer-director Stephen Gaghan's SYRIANA, starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and a dozen other people, is getting great reviews for its look at how corruption allows the world's oil business to function. Some reviewers are saying that it's even better than the Gaghan-written TRAFFIC, which I find encouraging. TRAFFIC was a great movie.

- Ann over at Practically Harmless drew my attention to this new holiday CD, CHRISTMAS SONGS by Diana Krall. I've heard the full album in my bookstore, and Krall's voice nicely compliments the terrific songs she's chosen. In addition, as one of Ann's readers first pointed out, Krall's pose on the cover seems almost inappropriately sexual. She's leaned way back in that chair, hair somewhat mussed while her high-heeled shoes are spread apart just a little too much to be innocent. It's a terrific shot, one that my friend Roger and I have since mocked openly in my bookstore. Krall, an excellent singer and beautiful woman, is actually Elvis Costello's wife. But, in this photo, it looks like she was given too much to drink, then gangbanged at her office holiday party.
- I read the Time review of Steven Spielberg's new movie MUNICH, starring Eric Bana and Daniel Craig and set for release in the next couple weeks, which has been shrouded in secrecy since he started making it. It's an account of what Israel did after the Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed at the 1972 Olympic Games. Apparently, Israel gathered together a group of assassins to track down and kill the Palestinians who were directly responsible for the massacre. It should be topical, hard-to-watch and interesting, though Spielberg films have been a mixed bag lately. MUNICH is based upon author George Jonas's book VENGEANCE.
- Peter Jackson's KING KONG, set for release later this week, is a more direct remake of 1933's excellent, original KING KONG, and the early reviews suggest that it's a rollicking good movie. I'm really excited about it. Of course, the last time someone tried to touch King Kong resulted in 1976's horrible KING KONG with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. In addition to changing the story too much and setting it during the '70s, that version also put King Kong on top of the World Trade Center. Jackson's version, thankfully, returns the story to the 1930s and returns our favorite ape to the Empire State Building, where he belongs. Of course, this leads me to ... THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Name a remake that you thought was as good as the original. Why did you like it better? What are your thoughts on remakes in general?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I don't think that much of you.

My ex called me last night to give me his new cell phone number. He also let me know that he cheated on his latest boyfriend with some teenager, so that relationship's over. (So far as I can tell, the ex didn't cheat while we were together, but we weren't together long.)

Then, he asked me to join him for karaoke.

I told him I was busy, that I had to go to trivia because "I want to meet new people."

The reasons to leave Atlanta and not look back are piling up.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sometimes you just need a change.

Last week was difficult. This week hasn't been as intense, thus far, and I'm grateful for that. I have this whim, though, that maybe I should run away from home, so to speak. Maybe I should try something new, pretend as though something catastrophic has happened that I should run from. That way, I could maybe start over from scratch, rebuild, meet some new people and have some new experiences.

I don't think I've ever really done that. Every departure I've made has had some sense of familiar to it, you know.

When I moved to Augusta, I would venture home to Atlanta every weekend to commune with my friends and see art movies.

My senior year at UGA, I stopped going out most weekends and instead started coming home to hang out with my friend Vic. It was like I was no longer interested in what Athens had to offer me, as though I were just outgrowing the town.

All of my changes-of-location have been gradual, never abrupt.

I don't know what I'd be like in a new setting. I don't even know what happened to make this one feel sorta tired. But I want something new.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I just wrote this in an e-mail to someone.

Here's maybe what's wrong with my social life, from my own words:

If I rid myself of guys I met on the Internet, other people's boyfriends and crushes from when I was 19, I would never date.

Things to do after a particularly tough week.

- This week at my office has been really stressful. I think I've screwed up my left knee. My car's having trouble, too. A bank error that the bank refused to acknowledge looked like it was going to screw me over. So it would be really, really nice for me to be able to do something relaxing this weekend. Maybe catch a couple new movies or something. Unfortunately, the only thing that opened wide this weekend is AEON FLUX, which I'm not exactly jazzed about seeing even though I like Charlize Theron and liked the original cartoon on MTV. In the cartoon, the title character died at the end of every episode. I wonder how many times they'll kill Charlize during the movie.

- I've tried over and over since college to read a book by Walker Percy, a National Book Award-winning author who came recommended by several members of my college literary society. I own three of his books, even: LOST IN THE COSMOS, THE LAST GENTLEMAN and, considered his masterpiece, THE MOVIEGOER. Still, I've never been able to read anything by him, other than his introduction to THE CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES. I've been tempted lately, upon reading other Southern writers, to give Percy another try.
- Of course, I could also look to the New York Times for recommendations. One of their "Best Fiction of 2005" is Mary Gaitskill's VERONICA, which sounds like it's twisted and fun. Also recommended was Zadie Smith's ON BEAUTY, which is Smith's modern take on HOWARDS END. (Of course, I should probably also read HOWARDS END, a book I already own.)

- Lupo e-mailed me this morning to agree that the new film version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is one of the best movies of the year, for it's really enjoyable. Of course, Lupo admitted that he never saw the Colin Firth-Jennifer Ehle miniseries, which I also heartily recommend. It's romantic, it's funny and it's fun.
- I work a lot at the bookstore over the next couple weeks. But I have got to find time to clean my apartment. Seriously, it's past time.
- Last night on THE LATE SHOW, Oprah Winfrey granted her first interview to David Letterman in 16 years, declaring an official end to their unofficial feud. Dave, in turn, was respectful to the point of worship regarding Oprah, and he spoke to her about her humanitarian work and the positive effect she's had on mankind. The best moment, to me, came when Dave held Oprah's hand and walked her off his stage, down the street and to the opening night of her musical, THE COLOR PURPLE. It was a sweet LATE SHOW episode, though Dave seemed defanged. But the whole thing has me thinking about grudges and feuds, even moreso than before. This week's question: What's the longest time you've ever given someone the cold shoulder? Beyond that, what's the dumbest argument you've ever had?

Monday, November 28, 2005

My new Friendster profile.

Hee. I like it.

A child in a store, as I walk by, will grab at his mother's pant leg and then whisper to her that I walk funny. Sometimes I clarify the situation, and sometimes I don't. But, here, I'll tell you that I was born different. I walk funny. Not just the post-fucked walking funny, either. I have an uneven gait that the corrective surgeries didn't fix. So, because of that, I adjusted to the fact that not everyone was gonna be keen on what I had to offer. Except maybe fetish-ists. My odd walk, incidentally, is not severe. I'm just saying it first here so that, well, we're all on the same footing. Because of the disability, I've seen little use in attending a gym. Sure, it would help my health, and that's the upbeat, admirable motivation I suppose I should have - yet I don't think most people go to the gym for upbeat, admirable reasons. Because of the disability, as well, I built up my personality. I'm funny. I'm smart. I'm a chatter. I can talk art, movies and music. I like to argue. I'm good to have on a trivia team. I write essays about my big, funny upbringing and my big, funny outlook. My essays are good. No lie. I try not to be sunny. I try to be open and honest. I don't trust happy people because I think they're either up to something or drinking the Jim Jones Kool-Aid. I used to wonder if I was dating weirdos just so that I'd have good anecdotes to share at parties. My friends tell me that I can do better at my jobs, in my relationships and in how I manage my life than I do, but many successful people I know still buy self-help books, which leads me to think that maybe we all are seeking some idealized version of how we want life to be and that maybe we aren't supposed to stop. I try too hard to get people to like me, even assholes that I shouldn't care about who I know deep down aren't worth my time. Haven't we all? I practice my Oscar speech, just in case. I was once asked how I can be arrogant yet have self-esteem issues. I don't fit in. I stand out.

Notes on something I might write.

* Are you who you say you are?
* Do you compromise what you want more than you should?
* Do you hold grudges?
* Do you take risks?
* Are you happy?
* Are you genuine?
* How much do you lie to others?
* How much do you lie to yourself?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Things to do at Thanksgiving's end.

- Nicole Richie is coming to my bookstore, the Barnes & Noble in Buckhead, on Monday to sign her new book, THE TRUTH ABOUT DIAMONDS. My friends and I are intended to go and worship at her altar. Additionally, we intend to keep an eye on the snack table to see if she swipes anything.
- Currently, a group of my friends is waiting on me in the other room to carve the turkey for A Very Kacoon Thanksgiving, but, for some reason, I thought I shouldn't break the tradition of posting a "Things to Do ..." list, however abbreviated it may be, again this week.

- Saw RENT last night, and, sorry, but I walked out of it. It works as a stage show, not as a movie, kind of like THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA last year. I felt sorry for Idina Menzel and the unfortunate shot composition used in her cow-suckling scene. Menzel deserves better.
- I also saw at the movies, because I wanted to leave my mom's house after my stepdad announced to me that he was a proud racist, THE ICE HARVEST and HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE on IMAX. The HARRY POTTER movie was great, but THE ICE HARVEST felt like a retread of better-done noir comedies that I've seen before.
- Anyway, people are here. So I have to go. The question of the week: How was your Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Two thumbs up Oprah.

This news, from OPRAH this week, is too funny to me. Lucky for all of us, they didn't get married.

I mean, picture it, Oprah and Roger Ebert holding hands. Oprah and Roger Ebert sharing popcorn. Oprah and Roger Ebert having hamburgers. Now, Oprah and Roger Ebert making out. Oprah and Roger Ebert having sex.

It's creepier than thinking about your parents doing it.

Things to do with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

- HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, which has received excellent reviews, is the movie to beat at the box office this weekend, and I will, of course, be among the many who head to the cinema to catch it. In this one, if you haven't read it, Harry gets enlisted into this magical Olympics-type event called the Triwizard Tournament, and things get really, really dangerous and really, really scary for him. This book, for awhile, had the best ending of all the books. But then, of course, the sixth book came out this summer, and its ending is jaw-dropping amazing. Anyway, yeah, so go see HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Because you were probably going to already.
- As expected, THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion won the National Book Award for nonfiction this week. The fiction prize went to William T. Vollman's EUROPE CENTRAL, a gigantic, footnoted novel about Europe during World War II. I've never even heard of EUROPE CENTRAL, though I suppose I should've looked into it when it was nominated. It's just that I thought E.L. Doctorow's THE MARCH was going to win, even though I've not read THE MARCH either. (THE MARCH is, of all things, about Sherman's March to the Sea during the Civil War, and the Southerner in me just can't read something like that.)

- There's a new Robert Sabuda pop-up book out called WINTER'S TALE. That should be all you need to know about the book before running out and buying it, for Sabuda is an unparalleled genius when it comes to pop-up books. If you've never seen his WIZARD OF OZ, then you're in for a treat. Sabuda books are good gifts for kids, but they're best for adults who recognize the skill involved in art this glorious. These are the sort of pop-ups you dreamed of having as a child.

- WALK THE LINE, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, also comes out today, and, though it's likely not as good as RAY, any Johnny Cash biopic is bound to be interesting, for Cash was an amazing musician and damn interesting guy. Personally, I've found Joaquin Phoenix, as an adult, to be a bit creepy. Even his work in TO DIE FOR, a movie I loved, is just a little creepy. And in interviews, he's hella creepy. I liked him better as Leaf Phoenix in PARENTHOOD.

- BEE SEASON, which has been getting excellent reviews and strong notices for Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche and newcomer Flora Cross, opens this week at the Landmark. From what I've heard, this story of a girl unnoticed by her family until she shows a talent for spelling - perhaps tapped into Jewish mysticism - is one of the best films of the year, though I've not seen it yet. What I've read of the Myla Goldberg book it's based on, though, is excellent.
- The Thrashers game I went to this week was fun. Seriously, I need to go to another Thrashers game.

- I still haven't made it to the High Museum to see the new exhibition space, even though my brother was the project manager for the concrete company who helped lay the foundation on the expansion. The new galleries apparently show the permanent collection in an entirely new light. I really, really want to see this, and I want to see this soon.
- Kacoon and I have been speaking, and our third "Very Kacoon Thanksgiving" in four years is set for Friday. I love Thanksgiving. I'm breaking out my recipe for sweet potato souffle.
- Finally, after going shopping last weekend and getting lectured this week on my lack of professional focus, I proudly wore a whole bunch of new clothes several days this week. The impact new clothes always have on my mood and attitude is profound and surprises me. (Of course, usually, I don't have time or inclination to do laundry, and I can't afford dry cleaning. And I usually fall into bad habits, so I only end up dressing well on special occasions.) Still, I'm going to try, once again, to develop a favorite, feel-good outfit. This week's question: So what's your favorite outfit to wear? How does it make you feel when you wear it? And why do you love it?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ease on down, ease on down the ice.

Last night, my friend Steven and I attended a Thrashers game at Philips Arena. And we had fantastic seats, too. We were, like, 10 rows from the ice.

Still, neither one of us know much about hockey, and the Thrashers were behind almost from the beginning of the game.

Nonetheless, *I* knew that the best moment of the game was when the Islanders' goalie ended up hitting the ice face-first and his mask went skidding away. Hockey's at its best, for me, when there's blood on the ice.

Of course, Steven's favorite moment, which led to him saying the gayest thing EVER said during a hockey game, happened when the Thrashers scored a goal.

Whenever the Thrashers score a goal, you see, the giant bird's head atop the scoreboard opens its mouth and shoots out a stream of flames.

It looks a bit like this when it happens:

Anyway, Steven saw the flames shoot out from the giant bird's head and said, swear to God, "Oh wow, it's just like in THE WIZ!!!"

Not to be mean to Steven, but I don't think I've ever rolled my eyes more in my life.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Things to do when you hate to love Mr. Darcy.

- It fascinates me that the movie receiving the most praise from critics this week appears to be PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, based on the novel that most everyone's read at least once and already made into an instant classic miniseries. Still, the praise that's been heaped upon Keira Knightley for her performance as Elizabeth Bennet is difficult to ignore. And too much PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, to be fair, isn't exactly a bad thing.
- Sorry for the delay in posting this, but I just found out that one of my creative writings was accepted for presentation at the 2006 national conference of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association in April.

- Though the movie's gotten lukewarm reviews, I've been interested in seeing THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO for personal reasons, for my parents grew up in towns neighboring Defiance, Ohio, during the time this movie was set. In fact, Terry Ryan, the author of the book on which the movie was based, went to the same college as my parents, graduating a couple years ahead of them. (The movie, incidentally, was filmed on location in Defiance.) Now, my parents didn't know Evelyn Ryan and my grandparents probably didn't know her either, but this movie, starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, gives me a chance to see a glimpse of what it might've been like for my parents as kids, who traveled the same roads as the Ryans and looked at the same billboards and probably attended the same movie theaters, for Defiance was the go-to hangout town for my parents.

- The one thing that would get me to the Out on Film Festival, which begins tonight, is that the fest is opening with TRANSAMERICA, a new film starring DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES' Felicity Huffman. In it, Huffman plays Bree, a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual, who discovers that, years before, she fathered a son, who now needs her help. There's been strong, strong Oscar buzz for Huffman.

- I saw THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, which stars Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, earlier this week at the Tara, and it was a very good movie about two writers who get divorced in the 1980s and the odd impact it has on their two sons. Daniels is brilliant in the movie as an arrogant author past his glory days who, when his marriage ends, sees himself as the victim in the situation and declares a passive-agressive war on his ex-wife. Linney, as usual, is good. Though the movie didn't completely bowl me over, it contains strong performances and good writing. I recommend it.

- I mentioned THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING a couple weeks ago on this blog, but I didn't pick up Joan Didion's grief memoir until this week. From what I've read of it, the book is a great, powerful work about how the author coped with several shocks that blindsided her: the sudden death of her husband John Gregory Dunne, her daughter slipping into a coma due to what seemed like a minor illness and other things. The book reads with an urgency, for you sense what Didion was feeling in startling moments when her life changed. Even though the subject matter is notably bleak, how she addresses these changes is affirming. It's fantastic.
- I'm a little behind on my moviegoing, and I should really catch up with stuff. I've still not seen NORTH COUNTRY, JARHEAD, WALLACE AND GROMIT, CHICKEN LITTLE or a dozen others.
- It's a couple weeks until BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN hits theaters, though the early buzz is that the movie is a masterpiece. The soundtrack, though, is in stores already, and it features an eclectic, strong mix of country legends and modern folk artists. Willie Nelson sings a Bob Dylan song. Rufus Wainwright duets with someone on "King of the Road." And the brilliant, always welcome Emmylou Harris appears on several songs. I'm guessing that this soundtrack, perhaps moreso than the ones for RENT and THE PRODUCERS, will be getting Oscar nominations.
- This week, I discovered that, in 2002, a friend of mine was able to lose 90 pounds. Since I'd met him after 2002, I just assumed that he'd always been fit, and the revelation actually surprised me a little bit. He said that the trick was that you just had to find the right motivation to get started, the right goal to inspire you. Now, that I'd heard before, but my motivated friend then put it in a different light. He told me that what drives you can be petty, selfish, greedy or superficial, just so long as it gets you started. Instead of losing weight for health reasons, he told me he did it primarily because he wanted to get laid more. So I'm trying to come up with something that'll motivate me to do any one of the number of things that I keep saying I should do. (I'm talking more than just weight loss, here.) What petty, small, superficial thing have you found to move you? Do you have any reasons you don't say out loud for sticking with good behavior? What's the silliest, most selfish reason you've ever had for doing the right thing?