Thursday, December 29, 2005

As The Clock Winds Down...

Okay, so last year's year-end post was called "As the Year Ends." But, with not so much difference between last year and this, what other title is there?

Today's New York Times was pretty full of the mishmosh of subjects I'm thinking about as 2005 ends. Nickelodeon, the kids' network, has launched "sliming" in China, as well as Spongebob. New York's Transit Workers Union are named as victors in the class war following last week's transit strike. In other news, the American Family Association, the ultra conservatives has decided that since Ford Motor Company came to its senses and told them to shove off, they're going after NBC. And I'm listening to one of my all-time favorite CDs, "Red, Hot, + Blue," the first compilation CD fundraiser to fight AIDS, on my iriver MP3 player -- WHO NEEDS AN IPOD!

What's the point? The cultural war is getting crazier. The government admits that spying on activist groups, even by posing as a protester to get footage of lawful protests, is okay. A small group of people is relentless in its attempt to sanitize and homogenize American culture while American culture is rapidly spreading itself across the globe. The game of big business, once played only in the office, has spread out into government, with more and more politicians coming from the billionare boys club -- why run for office on a grassroots ticket when you can buy enough advertising and pay top dollar for the best strategists in the business to guarantee success. And, once in office, run every aspect of government like a business, squeezing revenue out of every little corner, even if it means a few million people are affected. Make people who are willing to be spat on and vilified for standing up for themselves bad guys. Turn the populace against them by reminding them just how inconvenienced their soft, pink, overfed selves have become because they have to incorporate some real work into their lives. China's acceptance of Nick programming is based on the exclusion of things like burping and farting, in keeping with its emphasis on rigor and propriety, as opposed to the slack-jawed, lazy, computer-driven indulgence our kids are intimate with.

It feels like life is becoming more difficult with eash passing year. I'm not trying to be a downer; on the contrary, I have a lot to be thankful for, and I'm still pretty happy. My relationship is great. My foot and ankle are on the mend, and I'm pretty sure my wish for matching shoes by January 1 will be fulfilled. I'm about to soil myself in fear, for I'm preparing a large project, larger than I've ever done on my own, but it's really significant for my other career. The truth, however, is that as grand as my life is, the world is rapidly changing, and I'd like to hold on to the adage that things get worse before they get better.

So, here's hoping that 2006 will indeed be a happy new year, and that things will get better. Here's hoping that all of us have more money than we need, but not more than we want, health that goes past external perfection, joy that is more than material, and love that lives above the waist more often than below. Here's hoping that our government will spend more time preserving the liberty, justice, and well-being of all, and not just the most desirable.

Here's hoping that, in the immortal words of Cole Porter, from this moment on, you & I, babe, will be ridin' high, babe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

SteeeeeeeeeeeeeRIKE!

The MTA has gone on strike. That means no city buses or subways, but commuter trains (Metro North, Long Island Railroad) and Jersey rails are running. About 7 million folks are affected. And I'm sure the nice folks who ride the pretty commuter trains aren't happy about having extra riders glom on to their morning commute.

Yuck. I'm telecommuting, and then I'm on vacation. You just can't keep pissing people off and not expect them to react.

Happy trails, y'all.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Pause for The Cause

Greetings, blogiverse dwellers. Apologies for not posting in quite a while, but I'm about to get chin deep in a major project with an even more major turnaround that I'll encourage you to support once it's done, so y'all won't hear from me for a minute (actually, not until after the first of the year).

Peace & blessings to all. Like The Jacksons sang so many years ago, give love on Christmas (SUBSTITUTE YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY OCURRING THIS TIME OF YEAR HERE IF YOU PREFER) Day.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ho, Ho, Ho, 'ho!

It's the holiday season, and you're about to pimp yo'sef for some Chri'mas gear. I don't usually write about Christmas, but what the hell?

As my gift to you, and hopefully you'll return the favor, here are my favorite Christmas indulgences, in no particular order.

1. Billy Bob Thornton in "Bad Santa." BBT's at his skanky best in this movie, playing a drunk with a penchant for anal sex with fat women who, along with his little person sidekick, travels the country getting himself hired as a department store Santa, along with aforementioned little person as Santa's elf helper. It's the perfect movie for unrepentant Scrooges. Honorable mention goes to "Friday After Next." Surprisingly clever, not really a sequel, this is the third of the Ice Cube-penned "Friday" movies, that aren't all that connected except for Craig, the main character, his South Central L.A./Watts/Compton community, and copious amounts of sticky icky.

2. "A Christmas Story." A young boy wants nothing more for Christmas than a Red Ryder B.B. gun, and each verbalized request earns him the following response: "You'll put your eye out." I won't spoil the ending, but will tell you that one of the funniest moments in moviedom, in my opinion, is when the boy's best friend, on a cold December day in the Midwest, sticks his tongue to a metal pole on a dare, and has to be rescued by the fire department. See it -- I triple dog dare ya.

3. "Love Actually." This is one of my favorite movie types, the British romantic comedy (yes, "Four Weddings and a Funeral" is one of my top five faves). I love the self-deprecating, subtle sense of humor the British have, and that this movie isn't really a Christmas movie; i.e. it isn't about redemption or peace on earth. Christmas is a backdrop for the relationship struggles each character undergoes, and is punctuation for the sometimes unpleasant reality of love. A husband relentlessly pursued by his secretary, his wife relegated to making costumes for their daughter who plays the Christmas lobster (yes, you heard correct), a woman who can't get her freak on with a guy she's been pining after because her brother, a schizophrenic in a mental hospital, keeps calling her cell phone, a loser who thinks the reason he can't get lucky is because he's only pursuing British girls so he sets off to America for Christmas to bonk American girls. And, yes, there are sweet sappy storylines, including the guy whose best friend marries the girl of his dreams -- his, not his buddy's.

4. Classic Christmas cartoon specials, including "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," "Frosty The Snowman," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and the irreplaceable "Charlie Brown Christmas." Everything else pales in comparison for sheer sappy Christmas joy.

5. Christmas in New York's midtown. I have mixed feelings about trying to navigate the streets of midtown (I work across the street from Radio City), working my way through school kids and seniors coming in by the busload for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (honorable mention for the whole live Nativity scene, complete with reading of "A Solitary Life"), but seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center, walking past the animatronics in the windows of stores like Saks just makes even the hardest hard-ass turn to mush.

6. A purposeful pushing together of friends and family. Forgive the cliche, and please don't think me insensitive for ignoring the higher than usual rate of suicide during the holiday season, but it seems that most of us don't reach out to people we love as much as we could, and the warm 'n fuzzyness of the season makes us.

Happy holidays. Don't go into debt over gifts. Enjoy the joy. It's really enough.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

No More Chick Flicks Ever!

I figured out a long time ago that I was no garden-variety chick. I like pedicurres, but hate manicures. I'll only allow my partner to do my hair, and shopping isn't supposed to be an all-day affair, even with rest breaks and a food court.

I simply hate chick flicks, movies that are either marketed specifically to women, or have a storyline that appeal heavily to women. I like the occasional romantic comedy, but it has to be smart, somewhat complex. I like British romantic comedies, but modern stories, not period pieces based on some great sappy classic by a long-dead, pale-faced, sex-starved waif in petticoats. I even like gay romantic comedies, but not because I'm gay, but because there's enough conflict to make the relationship interesting. However, I draw the line at movies that are based on tragedy-as-redemption, mother-daughter vehicles. I saw "The Joy Luck Club" but never have to see it again. Same for "Steel Magnolias" and "The Ya-Ya" hoo ha. I didn't see "The Piano" because facing two hours of a mute playing the piano and a kind-hearted roughhouse love of her life wasn't at all appealing (not to mention the possibility of seeing Harvey Keitel's ass). I fear "Memoirs of a Geisha," no matter how popular the book was, will be another of those tear-jerkers that I just can't do.

I can't watch these movies because I lived my own mother-daughter adolescent hell. I managed to get through it, and forgive my mother for being a raving lunatic (please, God, let it have been menopause and not her being a witch), so that we can have a decent relationship. Not only that, but some of these women deserve a swift kick in the pants, and I'm just frustrated through the whole thing. And my darling Telios watches and watches them over and over again.

She doesn't limit herself to dramas, either. She also tortures me with "Bring It On," "Bring It On Again," "Miss Congeniality," and the ones with Reese Witherspoon playing the sorority girl who becomes a Harvard Law grad. I know it's because she works a demanding job, and likes the escapism, but I need a different kind of escapism. I need material that is so far removed from my own life that I can fully immerse myself in it and escape so far that I need frequent flyer miles to pay for the trip back.

I guess I just have to accept that I'm definitely not a guy, and will happily skip floaters like "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" or the "American Pie" movies. But I also happily boast to the world that I hate chick flicks.

Give me a marathon of "Matrix" movies any day.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Um, Isn't this Illegal?

It has come to light that the U.S. is paying for good press. According to an article, the government is planting stories in the Iraqi press that make the U.S. intervention in Iraq look positive to Muslims who aren't convinced.

Actually, the answer to the question in my title is that it is illegal in the U.S., but we're not talking about a U.S. based action. The current administration keeps portraying itself as a global arbiter of morality, but only talks a good game (and not that well, actually). And if you question the correctness of such an action, you're a heretic, unpatriotic, or worse, a terrorist.

When are we gonna stop drinkin' the kool-aid?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Remembrance

It's December 1, World AIDS Day. Since its recognition in 1981, more than 25 million people have died. Last year, the UN reported approximately 3 million worldwide died of AIDS-related illness, and approximately 4 million became infected with HIV, the virus believed to cause AIDS. I don't want to be maudlin, but there is a serious situation -- AIDS has become the deadliest illness in history.

The face of AIDS changed through the years. When the New York Times first reported a mysterious occurrence of fatal rare cancers, they were seen in White homosexual (that's what we are in the papers) men. When I first had my own introduction to it, it was in 1983, with the still taboo death of one of my favorite cousins, Mickey. As far as we all knew, Mickey wasn't gay or bisexual. He was married with two kids. Mickey weighed about 300 pounds at his lightest. When he was buried, he weighed about 125. And although I knew lots of men who died soon after we learned of their HIV status, I was deeply affected by a woman who died. Doctors didn't immediately figure out what she had, even though her won-through-sobriety honesty made her share that she had been an IV drug user. My partner could tell you many sweet stories about the final years of her cousin's life, a woman infected by a cheating, drug-using husband.

Many of my friends live with HIV through medication. A few could stand to clean up their act; stop drinking so much and doing so many drugs, using a condom every time they have sex, especially bottoms. And many are negative.

Judgment around AIDS has changed some. Referring to a widowed partner of many years as a "close friend" or ignored altogether doesn't happen that much. Blaming the victim from the pulpit during the obituary doesn't happen that much.

I won't be maudlin, and I won't be sad. Sure, I've lost friends. A young man who was part of my wedding is gone. An old choir director is gone. Gifted writers, activists. Talented singers. People who made me laugh. People who lived life to the fullest.

And here in New York, December 1 has been declared Rosa Parks Day. In honor of her bus action on December 1, the seat behind the driver is supposed to be left empty (which has already been ignored on my morning bus ride). Although slightly disappointed that neither World AIDS Day or Rosa Parks Day will get their full attention simply because they both deserve pointed recognition, I'm comfortable blending the two. Mrs. Parks couldn't know that her simple act would be the one (as there had already been arrests of Blacks who sat in the front of the bus) that became the catalyst for change, and that it would take place on a day that would become the one day that we each can think of how a simple act such as protecting ourselves during sex or drugs can become a catalyst for change.

In memoriam and honor, below are the names of just a few people I want to remember.

Winston Michael Mendez
Roger Carroway
Dwayne McKinley
James Moody
Tony Teal
William Cox
Bert Hunter
Rory Buchanan
Craig Harris
Debra DeSeane Isom
Betty King
Jaysane Wright