Thursday, August 31, 2006

Come on... Y-M-C-A!

What is my life coming to? I am afraid I may be letting my people down. Only 3 days left and I haven't even had one rehearsal. Not even a tiny little mini one while in the shower. Of course, I have known this was coming for months and months. Ulco even stood out in the rain to make sure we could go and now as the day approaches, I am afraid I may end up Vouge-ing out of sync. What if when Madonna tells us to to "come on, vogue" I accidentally do the "Y-M-C-A?" And what if I spell it wrong? What if SHE sees me and laughs at me and puts me up the big monitors so the whole stadium can laugh at me? And what if, when I look down I realize I forgot to get dressed before leaving the house? What will I do then? What if I mistakenly shout out the c-word just as the music stops and everyone looks at me with expressions of mortification written across their faces? This Sunday may very well turn out to be the single most horrible experience of my entire life. Ok, maybe the second most horrible, there is still that whole prom picture incident... and then the one involving a gorilla, one of those fruity drinks with an umbrella in it and a Mother Therese impersonator... and then there's that instant mashed potato incident which nearly brought down a low ranking government official... My there does seem to be a few of them... But it will still be way up there... I just hope I live to tell.

But to every dark cloud there is a silver lining... 12 years of living in the Netherlands and finally, finally I have discovered not only good, but great Mexican food. Once again Adam (thanks Adam!) has scored major points in the food department. The Taco Shop in Amsterdam (Amsteldijk and Tolstraat) is Mexican food like my mama would have made had she been born south of the border and named something like Juanita Maria Teresita Sanchez de la Siesta y Garcia.

On The Air

Hiiiiiiiiiii, this is Claire... In case you haven’t noticed, I decided to write in like purple, because it matches my outfit and makes me look like really thin and every time I like wear purple, people are always telling me how like good I look and I tell them like “duh, I know.” Okay, okay, I’m like so ready to take calls now. Omigod, duh, I know they are really like letters but I always thought that I should have like my own radio show because I have a really great sense of fashion and I totally believe I totally have like the voice for it, you know. Okay, so here we go… I’m totally tripping right now… Hi Anonymous, you’re like on the air… Hellooooo?

Claire could you describe yourself a little bit more in order for us to know you better? How do you know each other?

So, see how Anonymous talks like totally in black, that’s cuz I want to keep my like individuality especially now that I am like a totally famous celebutante. Um I have like a totally non PC question for you… Like what kind of name is Anonymous anyway? I mean like where do you come from? Sounds like someone from like the Midwest like from you know, like Pasadena. Not that there is anything wrong with Pasadena as long as it like stays where it is and doesn't move any closer. Oh and I uh I totally don’t get your question, like how does who know each other? I understand that like you don’t have your own show and you are probably like wicked jealous, but you should maybe take a like a class in how to ask a question, I’m sure.

What? Huh? Oooooohhhh duh. I feel like a total airhead now you know. You mean like how do Robb and I know each other? I’m totally spazzing now. I was out shopping at the Galleria and after I bought this like really cute purple belt I was like totally ready to scarf and so I went to Del Rubios to have some, you know, fish tacos and a diet coke and I was totally grazing and this really cute babe was like watching me. I mean he was like totally cute and I thought Omigod, this guy is like totally checking me out and then he licked his lips and I thought gross, like gag me with a spoon, I’m so sure… So I walked over to him and I like said like don’t think your gonna like French me or anything like that and then he told me that he was like trying to tell me I had like a massive glob of guacamole on my cheek and I was so totally embarrassed but he was like way cool and didn’t even tell me to bag my face or anything like. I mean he like totally saved my life you know. Actually, before I met Robb, my signature color was like brown.

Omigod that was soooo bitchen. Okay who’s like my next caller? Helloooooo?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dear Robb...

Hi Kids…

Happy to see me? No need to answer, that was merely a rhetorical question I decided to throw out into the universe. This morning I woke up as I do almost every morning and thought to myself, why doesn’t anyone ever leave comments on my blog? I look at other blogs and they are overloaded with them, drowning even, and then I look back at mine and nothing. I felt instantly lonely, unloved and under adored. Ok, so I have a grand total of 4, but me being me, I want more, more, more.

I ain’t too proud to beg, but prefer to save that for when the lights are dimmed and handcuffs are involved… Hmmm… Is that what is known in some circles as too much information? I just don’t know anymore where that line is. How much of myself am I supposed to place naked and vulnerable before the public for their consumption and how much do I keep for myself? I simply have no idea… And I worry about how much longer I can keep up this one-way dialogue. I feel like Moses speaking from the mountain, only without wandering around the desert for 40 years looking for milk and honey. Everyday I go spelunking through the depths of my mind, looking for golden tidbits to share with all of you.

Sometimes there is just nothing there and then I think perhaps I should sell off one of my lesser organs like my appendix since nobody knows what it does anyway just to have something to do while also supporting black market economics, a subject that is very close to my heart. In a rare moment of desperate and exhausted exasperation I said to myself, “Luigi”, I often call myself Luigi, I said “Luigi, what can I do?” Then I realized that I work in advertising. I do puppets, I do. I work in advertising and so I thought perhaps it’s time I start employing my unsurpassed expertise right here in my very own blog. What I need is a call to action, actionable interest and all those kinds of phrases that we in the ad biz like to randomly pepper our conversations with.

PeeWee once said “I’m a loner… A rebel. I’ve seen things you wouldn’t understand. Things you couldn’t understand. Things you shouldn’t understand” and then I had a brainflash. What I need is an interactive blog. One in which I can employ my borrowed brilliance to help those less fortunate and more needy than myself, those poor unfortunate souls, in pain and in need, searching for the answers to the everyday issues of modern life.

Yes kiddies, I will dedicate a section in my blog to answer and discuss selected questions, so let your fingers do the walking and let me know what’s on your mind. To steal a line from Linda Richmond and make it my very own “Type, ask me a question, no big whoop.” There is no issue to big or too small. Politics? Love? Gun control? Proper use of bondage gear? Bring it on babies.

And in the unlikely event I am unable to tackle the issue myself, I have asked my old friend Claire to help me out. Claire is a, well, she’s a left over Valley Girl, mentally trapped in 1982. Yes indeed, she’s a Valley Girl still searching for the perfect mall and has agreed to take time out of her noble quest to share her insight with all of us. I am sure you will be as stunned and impressed as I. And now without further ado, I will let Claire introduce herself…

Omigod. Hiiiiiiiiii! I just want to say that I am like so totally stoked to like be here, that I… like is this thing like on? Can everyone, like hear me? I dunno… Helloooooo? Huh? What? You mean like I just type and like everyone know’s what I’m like saying? No way! That’s like totally bitchen. Just hope I don’t like you know like break a nail cause I would be like totally bumming to the max. I mean the salons aren’t even like open yet. Anyways, like I was saying, I am so full-on excited to like be here that I totally almost barfed. I know that’s so like gross. I mean like public barfing - gag me, I’m sure!

So no way, I can’t believe I’m like in cyberspace. Does that make me like eClaire? Omigod, I sound like a total doughnut. I mean like dip me in chocolate and cover me with sprinkles, I’m sure. Omigod, no way! The police are like totally ticketing my Volvo and like he’s not even that cute. I’m like so totally embarrassed. I have to like jam to the max, I’m sure.

So, that was Claire and she will be visiting us every now and again to spread her pearls of worldly wisdom. I can feel your excitement and shivers of anticipation already. I do have a few more surprise guests that will be popping in from time to time but don’t want to overwhelm anyone with ecstasy.

Well kiddies, that wraps it up for this episode. Stay tuned for more blog fun with Robb and Claire and let’s have those questions and comments.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


This morning I woke up in a sunny yet now rainy Amsterdam with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and love for all mankind, only to discover that not even I am immune to terrorism. Yes, I have a sordid story involving a selfless victim who thinks only of others (that would be me), a plotting ex girlfriend from the days before I stumbled gracefully out of the closet (that would be Julie - I thought of changing your name, but instead decided to let the court of public opinion pass judgement upon you) and one sweet, unassuming sister (Ava, who has made an earlier appearance here in my little corner of cyberspace)... It's a deeply personal story and I wish to share it with all of you...

Picture if you will, a smaller and much more innocent version of myself living just outside Boston, living my little life and just trying to get through high school while at the same time trying to decipher sentences like "Pahk de cah in Hahvahd Yad en wahk te Johdan Mahsh". Little did I know, but a series of events was to unfold that would haunt me over 20 years later... I, an lowly Junior got invited to the Senior Prom by none other than that black widow in training, Julie. Of course, what at the time seemed to be a simple invitation to her last dance of school was, in retrospect, just one of the many subtle actions taking place in a highly complicated stalking process. Being the selfless person that I am, I said yes and immediately set out to get myself kitted in a tux. Being 16 and not yet aware that the only acceptable colors for men's formal wear are either black for during the day or midnight blue for nighttime, which looks blacker than black does, I decided to go for the tux which would best match Julie's dress. Grey and pink. Pink and grey. a disastrous combination no matter how you say it. I had at least learned from the previous year, when I wore a powder blue tux complete with big ruffled shirt and big, dark blue bow tie - a mistake I have never since made.

The problem with being 16 and having to go formal is that there are always photo-ops, and at the prom you have to get your picture with your date, all decked out with obligatory boutonniere and corsage. As my parents were footing the bill, I spared no expense in the carnations I got for my Julie, who between the invitation and the prom had become something of a girlfriend. She would drive me home from school and we would kiss a bit in her car - she was older - and then I would go home and redecorate my room with my Marilyn Monroe and James Dean posters, making sure my Sophisticated Girls beach towel I bought on my first trip to New York got prime billing when someone walked into my room.

I was a perfect gentleman at the prom. I didn't try to have my way with her... Ok, so I was interested in Joe, but that's bside the point. 16 year olds will go for sex whenever and wherever they can. Don't really care how they get it, just bring it on and keep it coming, baby. I was not like that. I got through prom with my virginity intact - although I'm not sure if I should be proud or not... Why didn't we have sex? Why didn't I get pulled across the threshold, through the door of experience, into the livingroom of life and placed on the sofa of manhood with a remote control in my hand?

Now, 20 years later, Julie is now living in California and getting ready to move to Denver. So once again, I feel compelled to offer my assistance in any way I can. My sister Ava lives in Denver and I offered to introduce Ava and Julie so that her move would be smooth and she would integrate easily... I sent an email to each of them explaining my selfless act of facilitating a potential new friendship and that is when Julie pulls out her grenade launcher and smashes the very foundation of my life...

I open my mail this morning to find a message from Julie to Ava, offering to show her not only the prom pictures, which in my recollection were fantastic and has obviously been airbrushed, but also the day after pictures when I was wearing a toga at the beach.. well, not so much a beach as a pond. That woman has bribed my sweet little baby sister with propaganda and false witness about her loving and devoted older brother (which is clearly in violation of at least one of the 10 commandments) in exchange for bar listings and invitations to parties. Is that what my life and pride are worth? A cocktail at the Paramount?

Julie, I hope you are happy.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Air Travel

The weekend is over and it is back to work on this cold and rainy day that feels more like November than August. Whatever happened to global warming? I have been freezing my buns off at the office, and given the fact I don’t have any junk in the trunk to start with, I am somewhat concerned. Will my small bum eventually make my ass look fat in these jeans? I was awake all night just thinking about it. Many things keep me up at night, like air ravel. Not the concerns of the day that we seem to find in the news on a regular basis, but the whole principle of how it all works. I mean, I know who it works, but when I try to from the 3D model in my head, my brain gets overloaded and shuts down and I am forced to watch mindless TV… Like CNN.

Here is my dilemma… if the Earth is turning toward the east at approx 1000 miles an hour, and San Francisco is 5448 miles from Amsterdam, and I am on an airplane heading west at approx 530 mph, why does it take me 11 hours to get there? I know why this happens, the gravity is keeping me in place above the earth, but that also means I am traveling backwards at a slightly slower speed than the planet, so when I land, I haven’t actually gone west at all, just less east. I just can’t get the model in my head to work. I have seriously spent many sleepless nights in bed thinking about this exact topic. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get obsessed by this problem of physics until after my dad, who was in avionics, passed away. This is exactly the type of conversation that would have bonded us closer than anything else.

This next problem arose the first time I crossed the international-date line while traveling from Beijing to San Francisco and according to the clock, I arrived in San Francisco before I had left Beijing. I had traveled back in time. Does that mean that everything that happened on the flight didn’t really happen yet? And the movies I watched I hadn’t yet seen? And, if I were to fly on a plane in the artic circle and keep heading east in a circular fashion, crossing the date line over and over again, how far back in time could I go? Would I also age backwards as well?

It’s more than my little mind can handle… So, yesterday I decided I needed a break from the sciences and went to the movies instead. I went to see “Step Up”, in which my future husband Channing Tatum has a starring role. I can sum him up in 3 words – De-lic-ous. The dancing and music were great and the film ranks right up here with Poseidon in terms of script and acting. I know, I know, it’s all about finding and fulfilling your dream against all odds, blah, blah, blah, yawn. It's enough to give me the dry heaves. We all know what happens after the credits role. He knocks her up, forcing her to quit school, he ends up working at a gas station for minimum wage only to leave her at home alone for extended periods of time while he goes off breakdancing with some hot muscled and slightly corrupted policeman named Johnny. I’ve seen Brokeback Mountain, I know how these things play out.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Last night I went to Knu, which is a gay alternative club in a snooker hall. Now there is a sentence I thought never would fit into my life, but there it is. Joachim had been mentioning it for a week and at the last minute I decided to cast aside my many initial misgivings and give it a go... After all, I am alway on the lookout for something new to complain about.

We arrived shortly after midnight and immediately I felt old. I seemed to be surrounded by all sorts of people that neded a note from mommy to be out so late, but still, I decided to forge ahead and go inside. Up and up the stairs we climbed, passing all sorts of snooker related grafitti, and yes, snooker grafitti does exist and I was just as surprised as you are. We finally made it to the top floor, paid our admission, traded our jackets for numbered clothespins and then, for the first time in about 20 years I stepped into the alternative world.

All the snooker tables with normally litter the floor, or so I have been told, had been removed and as we walked in, we found a desginated dance space just ahead which reminded me in of the dances we would have in junior high which were held in the school cafeteria. To the left was a big area filled with old sofas and chairs that made a sort of awkward looking chill out area where one could, well, chill out. Directly behind us was the bar and after getting our beed, we settled just inside the chill out area, which put us directly opposite a huge video screen showing film clips of violent lesbians and Barbarella. All the walls were covered in grafitti with images ranging from hip-hop gods to the scenes from Amsterdam and the occasional animal. Looking around I had this strong feeling I had been here and done this.

Nothing, and I do mean nothing has changed in the alternative scene in the past 15 or so years... The messy black hair, the lip rings, the ripped clothes... Ok, we did it with a bit more flair - Flock of Seagulls hair, heavy black Robert Smith type eye make-up, clothes that clashed with themselves - but it still turned out to be a collecton of non-conformists in a conformist society all hanging out with other non-conformists that looked and dressed and danced just as they did. It was touching to see the cookie cutter individuality.

At one moment I went to the men's room and was suddenly confronted by a tornado strength blast of air. I later learned that in the past, so many people were doing drugs in the stalls - whoever heard of such a thing? - that they installed these high pressure fans to blow straight down, so any thoughts of doing a line got literally blown away. Not sure how much good that does when pills are quite popular, but I did have to applaud the originality and enjoyed the cooling breeze.

It was interesting to see guys I had seen at other more upscale and trendy places, and I found it comforting that the same guys that ignore me at those places, also ignored me here. I am all for consistent attitude as I would not want to get confused about when and where I am suposed to speak to someone... or not...

As the night went on, the music took a turn and suddenly I was confronted with the sounds of Dead or Alive, the Eurythmics and Mel and Kim. What joy! What bliss! I was getting fresh at the weekend! I dragged my tired old body out to the dance floor but I did it quite carefully as I am no longer 38 and don't want to run the risk of an emergency hip replacement. It might only take a moment to feel alright, but it also only takes a moment to end up in traction. I also discovered that my cutting edge 80's dance moves, the very ones I perfected to Trans X, King and Depeche Mode were no longer appreciated. Young people these days just bounce around aimlessly with no thought to how it looks. At least when we bounced around we had a name for it... the Pogo. We most definately had the beat. 20 years on and everyone was expressing themselves and communicating their individuality as they all did exactly the same thing.

Individual Lemmings plunging off the cliff of sameness.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


The Dutch cultural season was kicked off in Amsterdam this weekend. The "Uit-Markt" - which lasts for three days - showcases songs and scenes from various theatrical performances that will be in the Netherlands this coming year. So there we were, sitting just a bit away from the stage with the "Musical Sing-a-long" when Joachim says the unthinkable to me... Imagine my shock when he said "I don't like musicals." Me, the very person who was originally destined to becomes the very face of musical theatre. An updated version of Tommy Tune only with style. I thought he was kidding. I thought it was a sick joke. I thought perhaps it was an iced-tea induced moment of dimentia, but he stood by his statement with a conviction I found truly upsetting. Perhaps it's just a phase. Perhaps there are drugs he can take. Shock therapy? There must be a sort of Betty Ford for the culturally resistant. I have decided to make it my very own personal mission to show him the error of his ways and point him toward the light and hopefully he will soon be singing along to the tunes of the Moulin Rouge.

It seems there is nothing sacred anymore, not even the pain one endures while visiting the dark side of beauty. In an earlier post I told about how Kenneth, the guy that cuts my hair convinced me to go for a male Brazilian waxing, telling me it wouldn't hurt and that he himself had laughed through the whole process. So today, I went walking in that very same salon with Ulco and Kenneth starts teasing me about having to stop the process before being completely hair-free down there. I told you I would be laughed at by those with smoother buns than mine and it appears that I was right. Perhaps someday I will write a musical about it... I can imagine the title song now... "I'm gonna wax that hair right off of my buns."

Speaking of down there, that reminds me of an incident that happened several years ago. I went to London for a weekend to visit my friend Ann. She had asked me a few weeks prior to my visit if I was interested in seeing a play. I was thinking "Chicago", "Les Miserables" or something along those lines. What she ended up getting tickets for was "The Vagina Monologues." I asked her if she was aware that this was, in fact, a collection of monologues about "down there" and she assured me she was. Now why a straight woman would think that a gay man would be even remotely interested in topics of a vaginal nature, I am not sure, but like a good tropper, off we went to the little theatre. It was the largest collection of lesbians I had ever seen and the only thought that came to mind was "two drink minimum", so I took four as I didn't want to run any risks. So there I am, sandwhiched between my straight friend Ann and a lipsitck lesbian waiting for the insanity to begin. In the event you don't know what a lipstick lesbian is, lesbians come in a few categories. The larger ones with very short hair that look like they drive lumber trucks, and those that know what eye-shadow is. A lipstick lesbian is one of the latter variety. Don't be fooled, they will still kick your ass, but they will do it in a pair of Jimmy Choos and look fabulous while they take you out.

Just as I started the 3rd glass, ok, plastic cup full of wine, it started. I have to say I was surprised. It was at times sad, funny, political and just plain thought provoking. I did have a hard time imagining Oprah reading one of those as she claims to have done at a performance in NY, but then it is like thinking of one's own parents having sex. It just isn't something that seems possible. I was having an unexpectedly good time when it started.

I hate the "C-word". I personally think it is one of the most vulgar and disgusting words in the English language. Normally, that's not a problem, I just choose not to say it. This night, something happened that I never even imagined possible. The whole theatre began chanting the word. Over and over it was said, each time a bit louder until suddenly women started standing up, hands in the air shouting it at the top of their lungs. I was mortified, shocked, appauled and left speechless. I have seen many things in my life, but several hundred women happily shouting the "C-word" at the top of their lungs is one memory I could do without. Even the lipsticks lost themselves in the frenzy of newly declared vaginal power and not wanting them to out butch me, which the usually do, I forced myself to join in. I shouted it as loud as I could, but as luck would have it, I was too late and the only one that screamed it out at that moment. The lesbian to my left looked at me in disgust, her painted lip brought up in a Billy Idol sneer and I was scared.

That was when I decided to give up vaginas forever, no matter what you might call them.


I Googled myself. And I keep doing it. It all started yesterday when a colleague of mine came up to me and asked how my sister Laura was. I was shocked, a bit stunned but then timidly answered ... "um, ok, I guess..." It seems that in a moment of boredom he Googled me. And not only did he come across my name... I was number 3! I couldn't believe it. I rushed to the nearest browser, typed in my own name, which I misspelled the first time, and there I was. Number 3 on the Google results. Me. Little me. Suddenly I feel a sense of responsiblity. I feel like the male Oprah Winfrey of the internet, destined to be a role model, an inspriation to the peoples of the world... Red and yellow, black or white, come on over to my blog.

Oh no! The world is watching. People will know what I ate. Where I go. What I do. Now I wonder if my hair looks good. If I look older. Wiser. Less competent. Do these jeans make me look fat? I realize I have absolutely no idea. I can feel the eyes of the world weighing down on me, hammering me into submission but I will not give in. I will be a beacon. I will not let down the tired and huddled masses that flock to me for advice, look to me for inspiration and hang on my every word wondering what the underlying moral message is.

I'm a Moo Cow

Red Rover, Red Rover, send Ava right over...

Just when I was looking at this blank screen wondering what on earth I was going to ramble on about this time, my sister Ava came to my rescue. Ava has this thing for forwarding all those emails that make the rounds on the internet... You know, the ones that are designed to make people smile, appreciate mom, and clog up bandwidth. She sent me one all about a happier time, before cell phones, when we all played "ring around the rosies" and money issues were handled by the banker in Monopoly... Yawn, smile , tear... and then I came across the line that read "older siblings were your worst tormentors..." and to use a line from the movie Clueless, "I, like, totally paused" and I do mean totally. Being the older sibling, I take great offense to that sentence and feel the need to use my blog to defend myself, my reputation and put the cards (credit and otherwise) on the table for all to see...

Although Ava has a different mother than Laura and I, we all look pretty much alike... Blonde hair, blue eyes and big ears (thanks dad) only when it came to the ears, Ava won the lottery and for once, I was happy to be the loser. When she was born she was really nothing more than a bunch of ears with limps and two big blue eyes... I adored my baby sister. It was different with Ava than with Laura. The closeness in age with Laura and I made us very close when we were young and we were each others best friends - Partly due to living in the country, in a trailer (yes, there you have it, I lived in a trailer... a double wide, thank you very much... I'm white trailer trash and proud of it. What's it to ya?!) in what can only be described as "Little House on the Prairie" style with no neighbours around - but mostly because we just liked each other. We would sit in the back of the station wagon whenever we went anywhere and keep our mom entertained by fighting. God forbid we would glance out each other's windows. Or cross that invisible line drawn exactly down the middle of the back seat to which I would get myself as close as possible without crossing. Then there was that "stop touching me game" we were so fond of playing which, when I got a bit older I changed a bit. I would put my finger about an inch away from Laura forcing her to tell me to stop not touching her and then I would touch her, forcing her to cry that I touched her, but in my own defense, she had asked me to. Women. Whenever we were given a drink to share in the car, we would split it one sip at a time, each closely monitoring the other and it was war if one of us felt that we had been cheated by as much as a molecule. If I felt cheated, I would simply not touch Laura and she would complain until mom yelled and threatened to leave us by the side of the road. This was all further complicated by the addition of our step-sister Stephanie who was Laura's age. That meant that one of us had to sit in the middle. With no window. No door. No side. What had been fairly divided into 2, was now unequally divided into 3 and being in the middle was the worse thing that could happen to any one of us. All I can say is, thank God for the growth spurt that made the rear-view mirror worthless if I sat in the middle. And so whoever sat next to me, I would guard my window and pass the time by not touching them. When our parents would go into a store, the three of us would be left in the care doing one of 2 things. Playing "Name That Tune" where we would "do do do do do" until someone guessed the song by some stroke of luck or we would beat each other up. Many a bloody battle was fought outside the Piggly Wiggly.

So far, I have yet to see any torment, just the innocent follies of youth.

Ava is 14 years younger than me so we never really played those games that were so important when I was a mere lad. I was old enough to actually do things with Ava... take her swimming, dress her up, do her hair, all the kinds of things that older brothers do with their much younger sisters. She wasn't so much a sister as she was a living, breathing toy that walked, talked and threw temper tantrums when she didn't get her way - Something she shared with Laura, but to the best of my recollection and in somewhat complete honestly, I can say that I never did such a thing - I was a parent's dream.

One of the best things about Ava when she was very young is that she adored me and she was a total sponge. I managed to teach her to inform people that she was no a little girl, but a cow, and being the brilliant little sister she is she would actually say, and she did this all on her own, "I'm a moo cow". I would laugh and laugh and my friends would laugh as well, and Ava would laugh with us and say it some more and the circle would continue until our stomachs hurt. I also taught her to use her hands to flap her ears while she walked around, again cramp-inducing bouts of laughter.

Around the same time, her mom Jan started teaching her simple colors and animal shapes and would get so frustrated that Ava just never seemed to get it. What Jan didn't know until very recently, was that when she was done, I would give Ava a different education. I would point to red and tell her it was blue. I we would see a chicken and I would tell her it was a horse and all the while, she thought she was a moo cow.

Again, tormentor? I think not....

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

We Are Family

Not wanting to be the selfish type, I think it's time I let other people step into the spotlight of my little online world. Next up, my sister Laura who is 5 years my junior. She is going to kill me dead when she reads this, but she will first have to cross a continent and an ocean, so I should be able to receive some sort of warning and evacuate to higher ground...

Of course, this little piece of airing dirty laundry is direct revenge for something she did to me when I was 12. It was a dark and stormy day in Anaheim, California. There I was in class, trying to be cool. Trying to be funny. Trying not to get beat up. Suddenly, the door to the classroom opened and there in the doorway stood my 7 year old sister glaring unblinkingly at me, soaked from the rain outside. She proceeded, in front of all my classmates, to put her hand on her hips, and before it was even the thing to do, she moved her head from side to side like Shanaynay and yelled at me "Rooooooobbbiiiiieeeeeeeee, you got my umbrellllllllaaaaaaa". I was mortified, petrified and shaking with anger. My sister just stood there, hands on her hips and then, in a move that was a definate channeling of our mother's personality, held out one of her hands toward me as if to say "and don't even think about making me walk over there get it myself." I out my tail between my legs, got up and took her the umbrella. Even though I wanted to beat her with it, I handed it over gently. I heard about that for the rest of the year and well into the next grade, so I think a little revenge is now in order...

While I was running around plotting duets with Olivia and trying to exasperate my parents enough to ship me off to NY if for no other reason than to get rid of me, my sister Laura, then 11 or 12 had far greater ambitions. She didn't want to team with anyone, wasn't out to create a career of her own that would have had the critics clamouring for more... Nope. My sister Laura had but one dream, and that dream was to be Olivia Newton-John. She didn't just want it, she was obsessed with it. She went around making us all call her Livvy, which apparently is what Miss Newton-John's inner circle called her. Fortunately this delusional phase only lasted a few months and suddenly and quite without warning Olivia was blown off Laura's radar screen by the hurricane that was Janet Jackson. She took control, called us nasty, told us to wait awhile and we were both obsessed with her. Countless hours were spent watching MTV, waiting for her to ask us what we had done for her lately, all the while studying every move she made and then recreating them in the privacy of our own living room. Our own private pleasure principal. While I had excelled in the dance moves common to high-school musical theater, Laura seemed to channel Janet and much to my dismay, she was doing happy feet and cabbage patching all around me while I could barely move my shoulders up and down. I was definately a hopeless nerd and my sister was putting me to shame. By the time I learned those moves, they weren't even done anymore and the only thing I got was a whole lot of laughs. And they weren't laughing with me.

Even in video games, that until then had been my domain, my expertise, she was ruthless. As soon as she got ahold of Mario or Luigi, she would kick my digital mustached Italian ass all over the place. I, in turn would call her something insulting like "dweeb" or "butt face" to which, she would respond in kind and soon we would be engaged in hand-to-hand combat, each threatening to tell on the other one as soon as the parents came home only to be forgotten about as soon as the next Janet video aired. At that moment, it was time for rehearsal.

I'm Gonna Live Forever!

In my last entry, I shared about how my musical career was sidelined by a certain executive in the music industry, my 7th grade English teacher and a couple of high-school bullies. Well, what I didn’t mention due to the painful memories of the situation, was the involvement of my very own parents. The very people that were supposed to support me and my dreams are the very ones that stomped them into the ground… It’s a very sad story which goes something like this...

When I was 15 or 16, I was finally mature enough to realize that I wasn’t destined to become a recording artist. No sir. Being a mere singer was suddenly passé. I was meant for bigger and better things. Gigantic, lighted marquees on Broadway to be precise. I saw my name in lights even if nobody else did and I threw myself into the world of musical theater and began my journey toward being the toast of New York and the theater world at large. Oklahoma… Fiddler on the Roof… Sweet Charity… I did ‘em all and I can honestly say to the best of my recollection that I stole the show each and every time… Who else would the applause be for? I was one singular sensation.

Around the time that "A Chorus Line" became the soundtrack to my life and I was just waiting for the music and the mirror, Fame became my favorite television show. It wasn't so much a TV show as it was a documentary of the life I was supposed to be living. I remember watching that show thinking only one thing: “I can do that.” Mrs. Grant was my favorite teacher… She knew what I knew. “Fame costs… And right here is where you start paying… in sweat!” I was ready to sweat. I was ready to scrunch down my leg warmers and leap across the floor. I was ready for her to transform me into the star I already knew I was. Doris Schwartz and Bruno became my new best friends. Nobody understood me better than they did. How could anybody else know so intimately the struggles and heartache of forging a career in theater? I was desperate to be discovered. I was desperate to audition. I was desperate for the applause and adoration what I was certain to achieve with my unfathomable talent. That meant that there was only one thing to do. I needed to attend the High School of Performing Arts in New York City. I was going to live forever and light up the sky like a flame.

Now this is the part where my parents, lacking vision and being completely unsupportive threw a brick threw the fragile window of my dreams. They found it unreasonable that I, a full grown 16 year old, should be allowed to move to New York by himself and go to school to learn his craft. Round and round we fought and never did I hear a satisfactory answer. “You’re too young”, “It’s not safe” or as my dad would say “When you are 18 you can move anywhere you want and go to any school you want.” Usually summed up in the short sentence “Hell no!” How else would I truly identify with the lyrics of “Out here on my own?”

Didn’t he know that by the time I turned 18 I would be the has-been that never was? My own parents ruined my career – and on purpose. Not that I am bitter now. Well, not too bitter… I do find it hard to look at old episodes of Fame and think about what could have been… I could have taken Doris to the prom. I could have given Coco the much needed wardrobe and hair advice she so obviously craved. All this I would have done gladly, but was robbed of the chance. Do you know, to this very day my parents still do not see the error of their ways. They have yet to show any remorse. So what if I got mugged. It happens in New York and would have made a great scene in my Tony-Award winning one man show. The only thing to do now is to kiss the day goodbye and point me towards tomorrow… And baby, remember my name!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

At The Copa...

Come closer... closer... closer, I say... I will share a secret with you, but only you...

When I was very young, about 6 or 7 I decided I wanted to be a singer. Not just any old singer, but I wanted to sing the theme songs to my favorite shows. I would watch "The Brady Bunch", "Gilligan's Island" and "Scooby Doo" just knowing I could take those songs to previously unheard of heights. Even "I Dream of Jeannie" was on my list of must-do songs even though it was entirely instrumental... Nobody, and I mean nobody could "" better than I and there never was a greater "whoosh" for when Jeannie came out of her bottle house than the one I created. After I was sent to bed, which was usually just before "Charlie's Angels" came on, I would use my sheets and blankets with their airplanes and cowboy motifs all over them to make elaborate costumes that would have my imaginary audience ooohing and aaaahing all over the place while I dazzled them with my vocal brilliance, singing soundless words into a hairbrush so my mom wouldn't hear me and end my career before it even got started. I also had huge dreams of being on the Mike Douglas Show singing my theme songs as loud as my lungs would allow... And not only that, I was doing to sing them as duets. Yes, I was going to team up with none other than Olivia Newton-John herself. We were going to be sensational together. I would choreograph my entrance, and, of course, she would thank me for making her career such a success... We even had our very own "Solid Gold" dancers. This was before "Grease" was the word.

Occasionally I would let my sister Laura join in the festivities. We would play Donny and Marie and we would always get into a fight over who got to be Marie. Not that I wanted to BE Marie, but she had all the better songs... Ok, Donny did have the the occasional cool song "...and they call it puppy love...." but they just could not compare with "Paper roses, paper roses, oh how real those roses seem to be, but they're only imitation, like your imitation love for me". See? Can you blame me for fighting for that one? Of course, I had no idea what the song was about, but I thought it was real perdy.

Somewhere between being a little bit country and little bit rock-and-roll, I discovered another young talent on the musical horizon that I felt I could team up with and together, we would be unstopable. Yes, I also felt I had been alive forever and wrote the very first song and when I heard the story about Lola and a dress cut down to there - Ok, I had no idea where "there" was, but it had a catchy sound and I would re-enact scenes from the song during my night-time performances, always wondering who actually shot who. Yep, we were going to be huge. Me and Barry. Doesn't R&B stand for Robb & Barry? The term had not yet been invented, but I would be willing to go out on a limb here and claim myself as the very first "Fanilow".

As I got older my musical sophistication also increased and then one day in 1979, the album that was to put gasoline on my career as a performer was released. Xanadu. That wasn't just an album, that was the link to my career. within hours of buying the album, I knew every word and intonation. Olivia and I were back on track to being the dynamic duo of the recording studio and hotel lounges throughout the midwest. One day, while reading the credits, I came across the name of Jeff Lynn, a member of ELO, and decided it was time to stop dreaming and start performing. Fans were waiting. I sat down and wrote Mr. Lynn a letter something along the lines of:

    Dear Mr. Lynn,
    My name is Rob Selander and I am in the 8th grade. I think Xanadu is the best album in the whole world. I want to be a singer and would like any help or advice you can give me.
    Your's Truly,
    Rob Selander

Now, this may come as a surprise, but I never heard anything back from that letter although even now, recalling it from memory, I can see the simple brilliance that he obviously could not. Not being one for rejection, I switched gears and decided to launch my own career. I didn't need him and soon, very soon, he would be very, very sorry. I began holding private vocal performances for friends. Actually, I went back to my original formula... Me and Olivia. I had my own phone in my room which was quite rare in those days and I would put the Xanadu album on the song "Magic", hold the receiver close to one of my speakers that came complete with sound activated disco lights and would sing my little heart out. Holly and Heidi were twins that went to my school and they would phone me every night and I would serenade them until we all decided it was probably time for me to save my voice for yet another day.

Those performances continued until it was time for final exams. I decided that for my English exam I would not give a speech, but I would sing. I had recently graduated from Xanadu to the now greatest album ever made "Paradise Theater" from Styx. I obviously had too much time on my hands and decided that I would woo and wow my fellow 8th grade classmates with my rendition of "Snowblind". Not one to fool with successful formulas, I arranged a record player from the school library, brought in my album which I had to carry around the whole day as it would not fit into my locker, and just after lunch which I did not spend rehearsing as I obviously was talented enough not to be bothered with such a useless activity, I went into my English class. I was one of the last to be called, but that was fine. How would anyone be able to go after me? I was going to raise that bar higher than anyone imagined. I put the record on the player (that was before we called them turntables), carefully put the needle down and waited. I sang like Miss Shug in the Color Purple. When I finished, the whole room was speechless. Nobody said a word. They were so obvioulsy dazzled by my talent, but who wouldn't have been? My teacher told me that he did not in any way see how my performance fit into English class, but he gave me a decent grade for effort and sent me on my way.

The gossip machine, being what it is at that age was in full swing and within minutes the whole school was aware of what I had done. I was one of those nerdy kids in Junior High. Always taunted and teased by the bigger and cooler kids and would often find myself being deposited into one trash can or another and that is exactly where I found myself about 5 minutes later.

To be unappreciated in one's own time is the cross of every great artist. I wonder if Beyoncé has a similar story. In any event, there you have it, the complete history of my brief yet somewhat eventful vocal career.

Now, shhhhhhh... don't tell anyone!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hail Mary

Workers at a California chocolate company have discovered a 2-inch-tall (5-centimeter-tall) column of chocolate drippings that they believe bears a striking resemblance to traditional depictions of the Virgin Mary. Since the discovery of the drippings under a vat on Monday, employees of Bodega Chocolates have spent much of their time hovering over the tiny figure, praying and placing rose petals and candles around it.

First an overflow of Elvises and now this! Why does this never happen to me? I do want a sighting, a vision, a velvet painting that cries and yet hard as I try, the miracles never seem to come my way. I try not to be bitter. I try to stay upbeat, look on the positive side of things but then life throws one cruel blow after another and I am forced to wonder "why me?" Maybe it's time to buy an Anthony Robbins book...

25 minutes later...

What an unexpectedly exciting day this has turned out to be. Here I was, typing away on my little computer when the sounds of sirens filled the air. Not an unusual thing living in the center of the city, but what did make it unusual was that the sirens stopped as soon as they got under my window. I look outside, and across the street is a massive group of people looking toward my building and the collection of firetrucks (complete with required dishy firemen) in front of my house. I reached for my chocolate drippings only to find that I had none and hurried across the street to see what all the commotion was about. I had visions of watching my flat go up in flames which is never a ncie way to spend time on a Friday afternoon. I ended up standing next to a guy in a kilt and suddenly I felt horribly underdressed, but never really sure what one should wear to a fire. It appeared to be nothing major and soon the trucks were packing up and leaving, taking the dishy firemen with them...

I need to start back at the gym soon, but frankly I am bit scared. All that stuff about sports drinks being used to bring down airplanes is just too much. I now wonder what happens if I shake mine to vigorously... Perhaps I will eat the wrong fruit causing an irreverisble chemical reaction. Not sure if I want to take that risk. What good are great biceps if your arms end up in the other room? Perhaps I should just go back for another waxing...

Well, I am off to buy some chocolate to see if I can make a miracle happen...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Just Another Day

I have to confess here and now, I am head over heals in love and have been ever since I looked into those big brown eyes and got a big sloppy kiss right on the lips. Her name is Annie, she's about 6 months old, has a cold nose and runs around saying things like "bark!" and "woof!" a lot... She belongs to a friend of mine and I hope I get to borrow her now and again for quality time in the park. I would like to have a dog, but I have neither the schedule or space for one and I don't like little dogs that can accidentally get flushed down the toilet if one isn't careful.

As much as I was expecting, hoping and even wanting to hate it, I just can't. It pains me to say this, but I actually like the new Paris Hilton single "Turn It Up" - especially the Paul Oakenfold remix. Perhaps it is something I ate, I'm not really sure why. It just happened. And speaking of just happening, according to one of the top news stories on, Britney wasn't planning her second baby, it just kind of happened. How does a baby just kind of happen? Did she forget to jump up and down after sex?

It seems as though I am not the only one to have caught blogger fever, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has jumped on the free speech bandwagon. Anyone interested in reading it (yes, it comes in a variety of languages) can find if here (If you get the arabic version, you can change the language by clicking on the the flags under his photo on the right side). Of course there are also polls you can vote in - The question today is: "Do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another world war?"

I also came across a great commentary by Lou Dobbs which you can find here. All about how great it is to be a superpower. I wish I had written it, actually.

And my video recommendation of the day is: Sorority Girls From Hell

Monday, August 14, 2006

Wax On... Wax Off...

Being a newly inducted 39 year old with one foot on the banana peel to 40, I have decided it is time to experience some new things in life. I can't sit around forever waiting for my very own IRES (In Refrigerator Elvis Sighting) and the Virgin Mary has yet to make an appearance on any of my grilled cheese sandwiches so I have decided that I should probably stop taking midnight peaks into the icebox and proactively seek out new, if not alternative life experiences. Given that this is the first day of the rest of my life, I thought to myself "What should I do to kick it off?" I realized I had no idea, but what I did have was an appointment at a salon for 12:45, which was made after someone told me I would love it and that everyone was doing it. So, being the eternal follower that I am, I decided I should do it too...

This new "must-do" trend that I let myself get talked, if not even pressured into through fear of being left out, left behind or perhaps even pointed at is nothing other than the male Brazilian wax. I was told it wouldn't hurt - I was also told that Santa comes down the chimney bringing toys to all the good boys and girls... Lies, I tell you... All Lies. I really thought it would be a piece of cake. I thought to myself if women do this on a regular basis, how bad can it be? Not that I think women are wimps or anything, but I just can't imagine the women I know offering themselves up for torture... Unless it is a pointy pair of incredibly expensive designer shoes.

I used this same line of reasoning when I got my piercing several years ago in Barcelona. I was scared to get it. I spent years walking in and out of piercing places and chickening out each time. Everytime I would announce "I'm doing it now" Ulco would look at me, nod, and then smile when I came back without any added bling. I finally decided that if Britney could get a piercing, so could I. She was not going to out butch me on this one. And then, after all the fear that it would be incredibly painful, I was a bit disapppointed I didn't really feel it.

Using this logic, I came to the same conclusion. It wouldn't really hurt, and if it did, it would be over so fast, I wouldn't have time to feel it. I have to say, that was probably the single most painful experience I have ever gone through. Half-way through, I was covered in sweat and just wanted the insanity to end. The only problem was that I did not want to go through the next few weeks as a "partial waxer" as I would assume that is what we call people who do stop half way through the process, so I kept on while this woman inflicted emotional scars I don't think I will ever truly recover from. I have been pierced. I have been tattooed. Those things are for sissies. In fact, I am going to book them for all my friends, because I want them to know just how painful it really is.

Even now, sitting here writing this out, I can hear the faint echoes of Jane Fonda "Feel the burn!" and I do baby, I do. And in 3 - 4 weeks, I will be back face down on the table, doing it all over again.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Feel Perdy

Today I woke up, ran to the mirror and counted the wrinkles... Did Mother Nature give me an extra one for my special day? Nope, in fact, I seem to have lost 2.3 of them while sleeping. Better that than waking up with 2.3 children all of a sudden. Especially that 0.3 one - yikes, what's that all about? That was enough to for me, I ran from the mirror to my computer, threw on some birthday worthy tunes - Kylie had me spinning around - Ya gotta lover her lyrics, they are truly amazing...

    "Clearin' this house out of joy that I borrowed
    From back in the day
    Threw away my old clothes (I actually thought it said "threw away my Opals" and I thought to myself "you GO girl, nobody wears Opals these days")
    Got myself a better wardrobe
    I got something to say
    I'm through with the past
    Ain't no point in looking back
    The future will be
    And did I forget to mention that I found a new direction
    And it leads back to me"

I thought to myself, this is MY day, ain't nothin' gonna bring me down... You can't touch this... I went to CNN to see if indeed all the problems of the world had been solved, or at least shelved for a day and suddenly my fragile little opal sheen bubble burst. I am now bitter, confused and angry. I just don't understand how this could have happened. It can't be true, it just can't. How will I go on? Not even sure Gloria Gaynor would survive this one... I have tried for years to get Elvis to appear in my refrigerator, but it never happened. Leave it to CNN to not only rub salt in the wound, but to tear off my skin and toss me into a big vat of the stuff... It seems that Kansas City is overflowing with Elvises (what is the gramatically correct plural form of Elvis?) Why me? Why now? Why today? Have I not suffered enough? Welcome to the perfect storm that is my life. I turn my face to the sky, borrow a line from Gone With the Wind and make it my own, I shake my fist and say "As God is my witness, I'll never give up looking for Elvis, not I nor my kin folk. If I have to lie, cheat or steal a cute little 1950's style refrigerator, I will never give up looking for Elvis"

Oh baby, baby, baby, you know you like it like this...

All The News...

I now know that at least one person is reading my ramblings and I was asked something I thought I would clarify. It was unclear why I was talking about stupid headlines from CNN... The point was, to show the absurdity of it all. With the wars, genocide, dictators, nuclear threats, AIDS deaths, child labour, an environment that is crashing down around our ears and on and on and on, I do not see why items such as Paris Hilton's celibacy decision get labelled as news... And not just any news, I pull all of those stories off the top of the CNN website, where they have been displayed as the main stories of interest. I have long wondered what good we could do in the world if we gave the same amount of time and intensity to poverty or illiteracy as we did to pondering if Janet's wardrobe really did malfunction. Who cares. Who cares if she showed both breasts? Bring 'em on, I say! Nobody was killed, no countries were invaded, no species were extinguished, nobody died of hunger as a direct result.

This first came up for Ulco and I several years ago, when we flipped on the TV, turned to CNN and saw the headline "The World Reacts", which was about Elian Gonzales being sent back to live with his father. The fact of the matter is, the world didn't care. Most people on the planet had never heard of him, and are probably far worse off in their situation than he is.

So, that's where those stories come from and why they are there... I don't go scouring sites for the most stupid stories, these are what the media feel we should be concerned with...

Like the car accident in which 4 penguins and some tropical fish were killed but the octopus was totally unharmed. The octopus has until now refrained from making any anti-semetic comments.

Happy New Year

Today is my last day as a 38 year old, and tomorrow begins the final countdown to the Four-OH! I spent my last day of this year with my old friend Karen Caprenter, who kept singing softly in my ear as I walked around the city pondering the meaning of it all. It was the perfect day to feel sad and lonely - the sky was grey, it rained off an on and was a bit chilly and the sounds of "Rainy Days and Mondays" was spilling into my ears. I, however found myself not feeling sad at all. Introspective yes, but that always happens around my birthday. I realised that I have simply been trying too hard and been way too hard on myself. As much as I hate to admit it, I am merely a human, flesh and bones, a man. I am normally not one for New Year's Resolutions as most people who make them, make them with the intention of breaking them, like saying something you know know someone wants to hear cause you know you will get some sex out of the deal if you do. It's that little game we play with ourselves. We quit smoking for 2 days and then pick it back up because our boyfriend or girlfriend left us, when in fact, we didn't want to quit in the first place and merely spent the two days without looking smoking looking socially responsible and for any reasonable excuse to start again guilt-free and the cycle then repeats itself. (Just for the record, I do not smoke, but yáll know who you are). Tomorrow starts a new year for me and I have decided that I need a resolution. I have decided not to take everything so seriously and to try and find the balance I seem to have lost at some point along the way. So for those who know me, feel free to call me out on this one if I should slip, slide or otherwise not comply. If I make an excuse, nod, smile, tell me you understand and then knock me over the head with a brick until I get it.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Finally gay pride is over and the bulk of loud and obnoxious tourists have either left the city or are in the process of leaving and once again the city belongs to those of us that live here. Prices are back down to normal and the number of loud talking people in white socks, baseball caps and sneakers that refer to a 500 year old building as "neat" is reducing.

Glancing though the headline news off CNN, I was surprised to come across the following information: "Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found." - Hmmmm. Are there any studies that show how preoccupied teenage guys are with sex in the first place? And, to further complicate world matters, Paris Hilton is going celebate (Has she finally swapped 'Lil Kim for Karen Caprenter? Why can't she pull a Greta Garbo and just leave us all alone?) and George Dubya himself is calling for an end to the violence between Lebanon and Israel. Amazing how the very same man who invaded a country based on lies is condemning others for their violence... As Garad would say, "Hello pot? This is kettle...

The term democracy indicates a form of government where all the state's decisions are exercised directly or indirectly by a majority of its citizenry through a fair elective process. When these factors are met a government can be classified as such. I am still searching for words and phrases like "imposed", "shoved upon", "put into power by a foreign government". And then I see that Tony Blair (Paris Hilton, who, when asked about him in an interview said "Who? ... Oh, yeah, he's like your president. I don't know what he looks like." - nice one, girl! - Just goes to show that 300 million dollars doesn't buy a whole lot of brains) said he thinks the Middle East should embrace Western values... I wonder why the rest of the world finds the West so arrogant? I'll be awake all night trying to figure that one out... Or better yet, I'll think about that tomorrow.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I am freshly back from wanting the buy the world a Coke, but I was a couple of euros short of making that dream a reality. Oh what an interesting time gay pride can be. In spite of my many initial misgivings, it was actually not bad. A houseboat party, some wine, bobbing around the canals in the tiny little boat, roof terrace parties and great friends made the day quite enjoyable. I ended the party part of the day around 9 pm and spent the rest of the evening sitting on a terrace engaged in a conversation about all the ills of modern life.

I just had a conversation tonight with someone about gay pride and how much we dislike it and how gay people do themselves and the rest of us a disservice. So many gay people talk all the time about wanting to be treated just like everyone else, want the same advantages and priveleges as everyone else, and then as soon as gay pride comes around, or they get any type of media attention they go out of their way to show how different they are, feeding on the steroetypes they complain about for the rest of the year. Greg and I initially started this discussion with a fashion director for a gay magazine and he became instantly bored and ultimately walked off. Funny how people can be so engrossed and passionate about nothing, yet as soon as you bring up a topic that affects life, those same people lose interest.

With war in Lebanon, Israel and Iraq, and nuclear (or as some of my friends say, nucular) threats in North Korea and Iran, it was a nice distraction to come across the more relevant issues of the day, namely "Will outpatient rehab be enough for Mel?". Well, with Jodie Foster pulling for you, how can it not be enough? Of course she says Mr. Gibson is not at all anti-semetic. I guess Jodie has another name for hateful slurs against Jewish people. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, that obviously doesn't mean it is a duck. Perhaps a wolf in duck's clothing? I am so easily confused...

And in sporting news, I see that TV stars, actors and models are in a World Series of Poker. Silly me, I never realized how much of a sport poker is. If sporting is good for the health and physique, and gambling (the poker game had a $10,000 anti) is considered a sport, does that mean that by playing the slots I'm working out my triceps? And would bending over the Roulette or Craps tables to make bets be considered abdominal work?

How Sweet

One thing that never ceases to surprise me, is when a serial killer, rapist, shooter, or other criminal is arrested and their friends, neighbours, colleagues and grandmothers all come out to say how kind, sweet, unassuming, that person is and how they would not even hurt a fly. Maybe they wouldn't hurt a fly, but seem to have no problem at all with other things. The latest example is this bit from a news item:

Accused 'Serial Shooter' described as 'really sweet'
Friends, neighbors say they are surprised, confused by arrest

To people who know him, Dale S. Hausner simply is too sweet, too timid, to have terrorized city residents in a rash of late night shootings as police said Friday. He was always polite to friends, never rude. A lover of boxing who decorated his room with drawings of his favorite athletes. "He doesn't even look like he would know which end of the (gun) barrel the bullet would come out of," said Mary Ann Owen, a Las Vegas photographer who has known Hausner since 1999.

That just warms my heart. I think I will go out now and buy the world a Coke.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Today is my best friend Ken's birthday. Actually, to say he is my best friend doesn't really come close to how important he is in my life. We met over 20 years ago and for me, it was like finding the part of me that had been missing. He is one of my oldest friends and I can't imagine him not being a part of my life. He lives in California with his wife Charise and 2 incredible children. They are all amazing and I don't get to see them as much as I would like. I could go on and on, but will save that for another time...

The sun is shining and it is a brand new day in Amsterdam. Heading out in a bit to meet up with Nik, Marco and the rest of the guys and just enjoy the day. The city is packed and this afternoon there will be a boat parade along one of the canals, followed by everyone piling into Reguliersdwaarsstraat for drinks, dancing and fun. Even thought the whole pride thing is not my thing, I have decided to put all predjudices and doubts aside and have a fun time. I have great friends (see, I loves ya Porgy!) and we will have great fun... and hopefully I will be back with a whole new batch of stories from the dark side...

Speaking of the dark side... An Iowa man has been sentenced to prison for 50 years for having unprotected sex with 4 people, while knowing he was HIV positive. I find that really disturbing for a number of reasons. Does that mean then, that if he had not known he was HIV positive, he would not have been guilty of any crime? If so, that will most likely prevent people from getting tested - ignorance can indeed be bliss. And, the last time I checked, consentual sex was exactly that, consentual. That means that in order to have unsafe sex, both parties have to agree to it. So wouldn't that make the "victims" guilty of personal endangerment? Where is the responsibility of the other party? Which part of this do they own? It would be different if it were a case of rape or molestation, but these were consenting adults. And, if the women he had sex with were having unsafe sex with him, then they were most likely having it with other men as well, so are they then guilty of the wreckless endangerment of others? This is one issue that can easily spiral out of control.

And in other world news... A convicted killer who sold postcard-size paintings he created with dye from M&Ms and brushes fashioned from his hair (He obviously watched way too much Martha Stewart) broke prison rules by running an unauthorized business out of his cell, officials said. Donny Johnson hasn't profited from his art -- 20 paintings have sold for around $500 each and all the money is being used to start a program for children of inmates -- but prison officials said he was wrongfully engaged in a business without the warden's permission. You will all be glad to know that disciplinary action will be taken. I for one feel safer. Why help the kids when all they really need is a gang to join.

M&Ms anyone?

Friday, August 04, 2006

The India Journals (Part 4)

5 October - Tashkent, Uzbekistan - 02:00

...Still waiting... One of the guys that has been here for 4 months (thought it was 5), translated for us to try to get us some imformation about our visas or changing flights (anything to get out of here). We have been told there is a flight to Delhi at 7 or 8 in the morning. There is no flight information here, so anything we hear is not at all reliable. We also have learned that there is someone else here from the Netherlands that has been here now for 2 days in a similar situation. It is not looking good but still hoping we get to leave soon. The good news is that they just called one of the guys from our flight that is in the same situation so perhaps we will be next. I am tired but can't sleep. The guard's radio keeps going off and the music from the kitchen is very loud. I am also nervous about all of our things being here. We have packed only the essentials and can't risk anything getting stolen. Of course, I doubt that would happen as there is an armed guard posted here and there is no place for anyone to go... We are all in this area of 2 rooms. It feels like being in jail. What was a bit annoying and laughable is now becoming annoying and aggravating. I want to brush my teeth but the water from the tap is yellow. Pierre is trying to sleep on the floor which looks like it hasn't ever really seen any soap or water. At least Pierre and I travel well and we keep trying to find the humor in the situation. The whole time, planes are coming and going and we are here, without our passports or any information. I have just started reading "Frankenstein" to kep myself busy. I want to save the batteries for my CD player in case this turns into a long-term deal. I can't imagine how those guys have managed to live here for several months now. More people are coming in, perhaps some help will arrive as well...

The India Journals (Part 3)

4 October - Tashkent, Uzbekistan - 23:00

Still in the transit area of the Tashkent airport, only now we have been kicked out of the restaurant and are now sitting in the waiting room. Half of the chairs are broken, missing cushions or are almost destroyed. Windows are broken, furniture is broken, all the display cases are empty, the carpet is ripped and rolled up along the seams. There are a few open "windows" which I don't understand at all as there is another outer wall of windows, 2 feet or so further out, which are closed.

We are now trying to get ahold of anyone that speaks English or German, Spanish, French or even Hebrew., but to no avail. I just want to know what is going on and what the status is. The only thing I have learned is that everything costs 3 US dollars. The guys that have been here for 5 months have cornered off a section of the waiting room near the television. They have mats to sleep and sit on and are basically camping here. I was surprised to hear them speak the language, but as nobody seems to speak anything other than Uzbekies, I guess you have to adapt. They are willing to translate for us, but that was only once and I didn't give them any money so they are probably not going to help us again. Perhaps I am wrong.

It is very hot in here and I have started smoking again already. I just want my passport since now I feel very vulnerable without it. There is nothing to do but wait at this moment. I will never again go anywhere without the visa in my passport...

The India Journals (Part 2)

4 October - Tashkent, Uzbekistan - 21:30

Adventure we wanted, adventure we got. We are now sitting in the transit lounge of the Tashkent airport waiting for our visas. Before we left the Netherlands, we had contacted the Uzbekistan embassy in Brussels and they assured us that with a letter of invitation we would have no problem getting the visa upon arrival. We got to the airport here, which looks like (and is actually) a former military base. It is cold, concrete, tiles missing from the walls, the bathrooms smell like old urine and you can't really escape the smell at all and the wallpaper is peeling. We are now in the restaurant of the lounge drinking a beer. It is not the sort of place where I would like to eat, but I am jumping ahead of myself. we got into the passport control area and stood in the line to enter. All of a sudden, a tourguide leading a group of Belgians brings 20+ people to the frint of the line. They obviously thought they could get through without showing each individual passport. They were wrong and held up the line for what seemed like an eternity. I saw a little booth for the consulate and while Pierre waited in line, I went to ask where we needed to be. Of course, we were standing in the wrong line and so we go to the end of the consulate line. After much discussion, we are asked to fill in forma and then told they had a problem with our visas as someone from the airline company was supposed to apply for our visa on our behalf, which, when we inquired in Amsterdam they assured us they had. So, ou passports were confiscated and we were led to the transfer room.

I feel very scared not having my passport, what if it gets lost? There are 2 guys that have been in this lounge for 5 months. I don't rally want to become roommated. Pierre just checke the airline timetable and there is a flight leaving for Delhi tomorrow morning abour 06:30 or so. We may go a day early and not see anyting at all of Uzbekistan. Pierre can't really complain since this is all his idea. I just hope this isn't a premonition of things to come and I can only imagine what we will find in Delhi. We have now been in this lounge a little longer than 1 1/2 hours. I hope it doesn't become 5 months. I also thought I had made a major mistake at passport control... It was so unlike any airport I had ever seen so I took a picture. One of the officials yelled out and motioned it was not allowed. (Perhaps that is why we didn't get the visa???) I had visions of my camera being confiscated or the film ripped out but neither one happened. I just hope we are not here too much longer...

The India Journals (Part 1)

This is part one of the journals I kept for my trip to India about 10 years ago... This se4ries will be partly journal and partly memories to fill in the gaps I did not write about at that time for whatever reason... I hope you enoy them... And without further ado...

Amsterdam 3 October, 1997

It is the night before we leave our tirp to India and we are finally packed an ready to go. Our flight will depart in 12 hours. It is somewhat scary, yet exciting to go to a strange land with no real plans, no hotel reservations and nothing prepared. We were in Nice, Cannes and Monaco only a few weeks ago. The only tning we have managed to arrange is a letter of invitiation for Ubekistan and out visas for Nepal and India. I have no idea what to expect except for a major culture shock. I have heard that Uzbekistan is very beaultiful and I am quite curious. I have alwyas wanted to see Russia, or placed in the former Soviet Union, but I always imagined it would be Moscow or St. Petersburg.

I have heard many things about India, mostly words like "dirty", "crowded", "poor", "fascinating" and "beautiful". I am very curious. I have visions of sleeping amongst cockroaches the size of cats and having major dairrhea within the first few days. We will just have to see. I always assumed that when people took backpacks, they took almost nothing with them. On the contrary, you have to take everything, but in small quantities. We have candles in case of power outages, which are supossedly very frequent, toilet paper as it is reportedly rare, clean needles in case we should need an injection or end up in a hospital, and of course bug repellent and malaria tablets. I could open up my own pharmacy. Everyone I know that has been to India and Nepal, prefer Nepal saying it is much more beautiful. well, tomorrow, it all begins...

August 4

Tonight is the beginning of gay pride, and already I feel depressed. I don't know what it is, but I sometimes feel so invisible that it hurts. I have great friends and a great job, but after being single for a while, I am ready to have someone special and someone that I care about. I just feel so alone sometimes and the emptiness and lonliness is so loud it can be deafening. I wish I knew why things where this way. I am to a point where I find it so completely frustrating. It is not about being spurned, rejected or whatever, it is just about not fitting in and just wanting to be with someone that wants to be with me. I try to stay positive, but is is just so hard sometimes... Perhaps I want too much...

Thursday, August 03, 2006


This weekend is gay pride in Amsterdam. There will be all sorts of parties and Saturday one of the main canals will be filled with boats and scantily clad people all trying the get the attention of the crowds lining the canals or shock the unknowing tourists. I am not really a fan of the weekend, usually preferring to leave the country and leave the partying to others. This year, due to an oversight, I am staying in Amsterdam and will have to brave the crowds of the tourists that pile into the city for the weekend. If tonight was any indication of the way the weekend will go, it is going to be one long and uncomfortable weekend here in the Venice of the North. I am planning on keeping everything low key, low alcohol and definitely low drama. Fortunately for me, I have a couple of great books to dive into and am looking forward to spending some time alone and relaxing... I would prefer to be joining Paul to Tel Aviv, but will have to be content being jealous and waiting for my own turn. '

Today I wasn't feeling well... not sure if it was a touch of the stomach virus that seems to be going around the office or something I ate, but whatever it was, my stomach was not happy. So after my conference calls where finished, I did what anyone in my situation would do, I met up with friends for some champagne. Surprisingly enough, the stomach pains subsided almost immediately and then it was time to go to Envy for some dinner with my new friend (yes, friend with a little f) Nik. Aah, peppers with cheese, sweetbread and asparagus, scallops with thinly sliced beets and turnips, slow roasted veal... and all washed down with some cheap yet drinkable perseco. We had one of those talks over dinner where walls get lowered and our real selves start coming out. He's a great guy and I am happy we are becomming friends. After dinner, we headed to Arc, the local cocktail bar for a last drink before turning out noses toward our respective homes. Now that I am here, my stomach seems to be rebelling again...

Over the years I have had several people ask me to type out my journal for the trip I did through India and Nepal several years ago. I have yet to do it in spite of all the promises to others and myself. I have decided to publish it here, in little installments, hopefully with the first chapter coming out this weekend. I will elaborate on my journal writings with the memories I have but didn't have the time or patience to write about at that moment.

Well, as I am somewhat ill, I should probably tuck myself into bed straight away and get a good nights rest so I am all fresh for another day at the office.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bits of Bears

How many nuns can you fit into a phone booth?

That seemed to be the game we were playing tonight. It was the occasion of Marco's pre-birthday birthday drinks. The guy has no sense of space or people or how the two relate to each other. Actually, while it pains me to say this, it wasn't entirely his fault. The past weeks have been sunny and hot and then in a cruel joke by Mother Nature, the weather changes suddenly from one day to the next, the temperature drops by half (seriously) and the skies are grey and rainy and suddenly it feels more like November than the beginning of August. Perhaps this is just to get me ready for the perma-frost that I will be traversing when I take that train ride. Getting back tot he party on a postage stamp, it was quite fun and a nice mix of people that until recently Marco has kept pretty separate due to personal circumstances. I must say, I like his new friend/boyfriend/paramour/whatever and have decided and also told Marco that if things don't work out between them for whatever reason, I will get rid of Marco and keep Nick as friend. He's just so much more fun.

I have pretty much decided to do nothing for my birthday (that doesn't mean I am eschewing gifts) and just have a low key evening, perhaps sharing it only with Anderson Cooper by way of his new book (I am not so secretly in love with him, but for some reason, he never calls - I'm not really sure what that means). I don't mind getting older at all, and am actually looking forward to next year's birthday when my 30s will be a thing of the past and I will have a new, clean set of numbers to work with. Sheryl Crow says that 40 is the new 20 and Oprah has said that 50 is the new 30, so perhaps by the time I am 50, it will be the new black...

Speaking of black, it is a sad and dark day. I have just seen the news that a Doberman Pinscher named Barney ripped the head off a brown stuffed bear named Mabel, once owned by a young Elvis Presley, leaving fluffy stuffing and bits of bear's limbs and head on the floor. In fact, the dog didn't stop there... it ruined approximately $900,000 worth of teddie bears. The owner of course was not amused, but who knows, perhaps Mabel, like Elvis will start appearing in refrigerators around the world. I for one will think twice before vacuuming up that stray piece of lint...

Book 'em

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears... Not that I have anything important to say, but felt the need to quote some Shakespeare in effort to add a bit of literary credibility to my otherwise futile attempts at recording the random and often meaningless events that find their way into my life. So, having nothing to say right now, onto the next topic...

In the event you're on the prowl for a good book, here is a short list from my personal library:

  • "Naked in Baghdad" by Anne Garrels
  • "The Great Transformation - The world in the time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah" by Karen Armstrong (I have actually just started this one, but am already loving it)
  • "Wicked" by Gregory Maguire
  • "Autobiography of a Face" by Lucy Grealy
  • "The Last Day of a Condemned Man" by Victor Hugo
  • "Wind, Sand and Stars" by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
I am not one of those people that can just read for the sake of reading. I get very bored if I am not learning something. Of course, there are a few exceptions to that rule and one of those is David Sedaris. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and "Dress Your Family in Courduroy and Denim" are great and a good laugh.

Today I spoke with a very dear friend of mine in Tel Aviv and I am considering heading there for a week or so in September. Until now, Tel Aviv has not been playing host to any incoming missles, but that can, of course, change at any time. I did just reassure my mom that I am at a safe distance from Lebanon and Israel, so if I go, will probably keep it a secret until I am back home. The same thing I did when I went bungee jumping the first time. But then again, I think my mom is pretty used to me being adventurous and has been a pretty good sport... but then, while I have gone into some hostile areas, I have never been in a warzone before. That, as the wizard said, is a horse of a different color.

Well, that's it for now... Time to shower, shampoo and shine for my friend Marco's birthday drinks... Hopefully I will return with all sort of stories of scandal and bad conduct.