Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day after Day it Reappears...

I've mentioned before that I grew up as a child of 80s music. One of my all-time favorite songs was "Overkill" by Men at Work. Great song, great lyrics.

Years later, the television show Scrubs resurrected both the song and Men at Work's lead singer, Colin Hay, when they had him sing "Overkill" throughout one episode. It still is stuck in my mind. And now it can be in yours!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Movie Review: "Precious"

Wow. Even with all the hype, this movie still knocked me for a loop.

Precious boasts Oprah Winfrey as one of its executive producers, and this film definitely has an Oprah-like feel to it. But don't take that comment as a disparaging remark.

Clarice "Precious" Jones (film newcomer Gabourey Sidibe) is an overweight, illiterate teenager, pregnant with her second child and growing up in Harlem in the late 1980s. She lives with her unstable, abusive mother (Mo'Nique) and routinely dreams of being beautiful and famous while her life is falling apart around her.

Her pregnancy causes her to get kicked out of high school and sent to an "alternate" school run through Each One, Teach One. And it is there that Precious finally starts to learn, both how to read and write and, more importantly, how to love herself. But her mother isn't going to let her meal ticket go that easily.

This movie packs a tremendous emotional wallop and deals with some very tough subject matter. And while you think you may know what will happen, quite often the film leads you in the opposite direction. Lee Daniels did a phenomenal job directing this film, which is based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

The acting is absolutely phenomenal. In her film debut, Sidibe has an uncanny way of imbuing Precious with a radiant light even as she is dealing with emotionally and physically harrowing situations. And Mo'Nique gives a performance straight out of the "what dream roles are made of" playbook. Nothing you've ever seen her in before can prepare you for the rawness of this portrayal. Mariah Carey eschews her usual, shall we say, glitter, for a subdued (and well-acted) role as Precious' welfare case worker, Paula Patton shines in the somewhat-stock character of the teacher who helps Precious triumph, and Sherri Shepherd and Lenny Kravitz show up in small roles.

I'd expect Precious to show up in a number of Oscar categories come the spring. And deservedly so. This movie is heavy but well worth the emotions you'll feel watching it.

Book Review: "A Friend of the Family" by Lauren Grodstein

I first heard of Lauren Grodstein's A Friend of the Family when Amazon selected it as one of the best books of November. Since I'm a big fan of books about family dysfunction (quiet, you), I was quite eager to read it. And I'm pleased to say that once again, Amazon didn't steer me wrong. I thought this book was terrifically compelling and well-written, and devoured it really, really quickly.

Dr. Pete Dizinoff is an internist living a fairly idyllic life in suburban New Jersey. He and his wife, Elaine, who met in college, have a close relationship with college friends and their families are bound together quite closely. If there's any blip on the screen of their lives, it's their son Alec, who in his teenage years and early 20s struggled with a number of issues, including a firm direction for his future. But Pete is determined that Alec will succeed.

And then Laura Stern, eldest daughter of the Dizinoffs' best friends, reappears, after being gone from New Jersey for a significant period of time following troubles of her own. Laura takes an interest in Alec, who is about 10 years her junior, and this interest troubles Pete a great deal. Pete becomes obsessed with trying to get Alec back on the path he wants Alec to follow, at any cost.

I found this story intriguing because I'd imagine many parents might feel—and act—the same way Pete did when faced with this same situation. And although many of Pete's actions made his character a little less sympathetic, when taken together with the history Grodstein provided for his character, it all seemed very natural. The ripples that a few stones like these can make in so many lives really fascinated me. I'd definitely recommend this book, and I'll check out Grodstein's earlier fiction as well. It will be interesting to see if this one gets made into a movie...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Book Review: "What the Dead Know" by Laura Lippman

It's 1975. The Bethany sisters, 15-year-old Sunny and 11-year-old Heather, head to the Baltimore-area Security Square Mall one Saturday. And they're never seen again. Apart from the usual crank calls and shakedowns, no information is ever found about what happened to the Bethany sisters, leaving their parents at a great loss.

Years later, a woman is involved in a car accident on a Baltimore highway. Disoriented, she flees the scene of the accident, only to be caught by a policeman. And then she claims to be Heather Bethany. But she doesn't want to have to go to jail for the accident, nor does she want to have to tell her story to the media.

This book was a really gripping read. There were so many twists and turns I really didn't know what was going to happen, and I certainly didn't expect what did. Laura Lippman created some fantastic characters and a very compelling story, so even when I found myself confused—or when the multiple narrators and the flashbacks slowed the story down a bit—I definitely wanted to keep reading. I felt she captured the anguish, ambiguity and frustration that parents of missing children feel, along with guilt at wanting to get on with their lives.

I'd always heard good things about Laura Lippman's books, so I'll definitely try another.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I'm Thankful For...

Back in my soap opera-watching days, I always used to cynically chuckle when the various groups would gather together in Port Charles or Salem or Oakdale or Springfield for Thanksgiving, and make melodramatic pronouncements about what everyone was thankful for.

As I've grown older, I've realized how much it means to be thankful for what I have, as well as what I don't have. And while there may not be a crowd around to listen to my pronouncements of gratitude, they mean a great deal to me all the same.

I am thankful for the health of my friends and family.

I am thankful for the love and support of my family and friends. To know that I have others in my corner makes every difficulty a little less daunting.

I am thankful that my dog, Zeke, is healthier than we thought he'd be, and that we can spend yet another Thanksgiving together.

I am thankful for two amazingly adorable nephews. The wonder they experience at life's simple things thaws even my jaded heart.

I am thankful to have found the love of my life 7+ years ago. I can't imagine my life without you.

I am thankful to have people who challenge me and push me to be better than I ever thought possible. I cannot believe I'll be running a half-marathon next weekend, but I am thankful for the health and stamina to do so.

I am thankful for the ability to dream and hope. Far too much of life is spent focusing on reality, so aspirations are magical.

Most of all, I am thankful to have a job and a roof over my head. Especially at this time, there are too many people in this world who have neither or lack at least one.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Musical Gem for You...

I'm an unabashed child of the 80s. There's probably a song that can evoke a memory at every turn. This song, Alison Moyet's Invisible, doesn't necessarily evoke a good memory, but the song is too amazing to shy away from a little awkwardness. (For those of you who are 80s neophytes, Moyet was the lead singer of Yaz, one of my favorite 80s Brit pop bands.)

Check it out. Hopefully it doesn't cause you any particularly evocative flashbacks...


When driving to work the other day, I found myself behind a car with a license plate that read "B AZ U R." (I took this to mean "Be As You Are" and not "Be Azure," as the car wasn't blue.)

Over the last several days I've started to view that as a pretty clear directive.

The other night at my cousin's wedding someone told me I looked "so much better" than before.

Now, over the last 18+ months I've become pretty fanatical about what I eat and I exercise quite a bit. And I'm pleased with the progress I've made.

Could I be buffer? Sure.

I took the "so much better" comment in stride because it was meant as a compliment, but the remark certainly instigated a bit of soul-searching. I know that I was unhappy with how I looked prior to starting my fitness and diet program, but when someone tells you that you look "so much better," you can only imagine how others saw you previously.

I was depressed and happy simultaneously for a while. I knew I should be pleased that someone recognized all the effort I've put in. And I feel better as well as look better, so how can I lose?

But it's like when someone takes you in confidence by badmouthing another person—you think to yourself, gee, if that's what they say about this person, what must they say about me?

And then I remembered the license plate. As bizarre as it may sound, the more I thought about that unconscious message, the more I realized that I'm the only person that needs to be happy with me. And while that chore is sometimes a bit harder than it should be, the path toward self-esteem is a little less rocky than it used to be. So "being as I am" isn't bad at all; in fact, it's so much better than before. That's a pretty good place to be.

A Gift for One Who Has Everything...

So I'm not a gigantic Star Wars fan, but I'll tell you, even I think these movie-inspired adidas sneakers are pretty cool. They come in both Darth Vader and Stormtrooper versions. If you've been pondering what to get for the fan who has everything, look no more. These kicks will be available come January 2010.

Check out the adidas Originals web site for details.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

20 Days 'Til The Race: Why I'm Running

In a little less than three weeks, I'll be doing something I never dreamed possible: running a half-marathon. Unless you've been under a rock or just not paying attention to my constant Facebook updates or Tweets, you know that I'll be running the Rock N' Roll Half-Marathon in Las Vegas on December 6, as part of a team challenge to benefit Crohn's Disease and Colitis.

Even with the race under three weeks away, it seems nearly impossible to believe that I'm going to do this. If you had told me in June that within six months I would have run two 5K races and would be training to run a half-marathon, I would have asked you to share whatever hallucinogen you were taking.

A little more than 18 months ago, I was the heaviest I've ever been. Simply going up and down the stairs in our house winded me. I never really wanted to do anything more strenuous, because I was scared I'd have a heart attack. Shoveling snow, carrying boxes at the office, even dragging my luggage upstairs after a trip put a strain on me physically.

Luckily we decided to start working out. I say luckily for two reasons: first because I remembered how much I liked to exercise and was able to take advantage of the benefits of doing so, and second, because during a routine assessment, they discovered my blood pressure was obscenely high. Like numbers that should never be seen in a blood pressure reading. So starting to work out saved my life in more ways than one.

But why run a half-marathon? I get asked that question a lot by those who know me.

I've never been athletic. Those of you who knew me growing up can attest to that. If there was a way to avoid athletic activities or gym class, I figured it out. My father used to joke that when he coached my soccer team, he was the only coach who never played his kid. I was more content to sit on the sidelines and talk to everyone else. I wrote tons of extra credit papers for gym class in high school to make up for all the times I showed up without the proper clothes. Even as a kid at camp, I spent nearly every day avoiding athletic activities.

But it wasn't so much the exercise I was avoiding as it was the ridicule. I was—and still am—uncoordinated. Big time. Ball coming at me? I'd certainly not be able to catch it. I'd either drop it or, more often than not, it would hit me square in the face. Growing up, I scored plenty of baskets and goals for the opposing team, struck out with the bases loaded or caused more than a few double plays. Try that a few times and you guarantee you'll always get picked last when they divide up into teams.

Don't be fooled; I don't feel sorry for myself about my lack of athleticism. But I will admit that it is one of the biggest motivators pushing me to run this race. (That and turning 40 six days after the race, but who's counting?) I know that when I cross the finish line in Vegas, I will have achieved something I never dreamed possible, a long time after I believed I was capable of something like this. And while the weight of the past may slow me down a little, it's what I need to carry with me through the race, almost as necessary as water or nutritionals.

A Little Musical Gem...

I'm starting to feel that Lady Gaga is way overexposed these days (in more ways than one). But while her music is catchy, the best thing I've found recently is an acoustic version of "Poker Face" that Chris Daughtry performed live on a radio station in Germany. It's a few months old so you may have seen this; if not, give it a listen and you may not want to hear the original version of the song again!

Book Review: "The Book of Joe" by Jonathan Tropper

Sometimes it's not that you can't go home again, it's that you shouldn't. Take Joe Goffman, for example. He left his hometown of Bush Falls shortly after high school and then years later wrote a fictionalized account of life there which left his former friends and neighbors feeling a little, well, angry. The book became a bestseller and was adapted into a movie, so the whole world got to see what Joe had to say.

Joe returns to Bush Falls 17 years later after his father has a stroke. Needless to say, he isn't welcomed with open arms by anyone. As he relives his glory days and tries to come to terms with his adult life, he starts to realize why he wrote the book and how he can move on to a new chapter with his friends and loved ones.

When The Book of Joe came out a few years ago, I remember not wanting to read it because I usually shy away from books labeled by critics as "funny," "heartwarming" or "life-affirming," because they're usually not. But after reading—and loving—Jonathan Tropper's newest book, This is Where I Leave You, I decided to read some of his previous novels as well. And I'm glad I did, because honestly, this book is funny, a little heartwarming and even slightly life-affirming. Sure, it's a little predictable, but Tropper's characters are so interesting and intriguing it doesn't matter. And besides, who hasn't wanted to write a book about where they grew up, getting revenge on those who did them wrong? I know it's not just me...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Forgotten Gem from the 90s...

Dog's Eye View is one of my favorite one-hit wonders from the 1990s. Their hit, Everything Falls Apart is really catchy, even by today's standards, at least IMHO.

What I love about this song most is some of the lyrics. My favorite line:

"I met God this afternoon, riding on an uptown train. I said, 'don't you have better things to do?' He said, 'If I quit my job, what would you complain about?'"

Don't know why, but it resonates. Check out the video for yourself. (I'm guessing Sony won't let this video be embedded for some reason I don't understand.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Questions. I Got Questions.

So here are some things that have been confusing or perturbing me lately. Thought they merited a mention:

  • Why does Joe Lieberman still caucus with the Democrats? The man endorsed the Republican candidate for President and creates headaches weekly for the Democrats. Here's the latest example.

  • Shouldn't schools be more worried about gang violence, pregnancy, dropouts, even the quality of children's education rather than a haircut?

  • So Sarah Palin thinks Katie Couric was condescending, biased and "badgering." Oh, and Palin thinks Katie knows nothing about energy issues. Why is news coverage biased when the person doesn't agree with you?

  • Why is Carrie Prejean still considered newsworthy? In case you don't know who she is, here is a roundup of all things Prejean.

  • What was Bruce Springsteen smoking when he wrote "Blinded by the Light"? "And Go-Cart Mozart was checking out the weather chart to see if it was safe outside..." (Thanks to Kelly for pointing me towards the answer from the Boss himself.)

See? I warned you my mind was a scary place...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The End, or: Whose Fault is it Anyway?

Last night, a particularly scary period in Washington, DC officially ended with the execution of sniper John Allen Muhammad, who along with his partner, Lee Malvo, was responsible for the deaths of at least 10 people in this area. (Muhammad and Malvo are also thought responsible for deaths in several other states.)

I remember the fall of 2002 and how gripped by panic everyone (including me) was. No one knew where or when the snipers would strike next. I (like many others) would put the gas pump in my car's tank while crouched low to the ground and quickly head back to my car to wait until it was finished and I could start the exercise again. I was at the Falls Church Home Depot the day before Linda Franklin was murdered in the parking lot. No one at that point imagined someone would be gunned down after a shopping spree. And we all lived in fear that the snipers might never make a mistake and might continue their spree for weeks, months, even years.

When Muhammad was sentenced to death, my sometimes-shaky faith in the justice system was secured briefly. I had worried that his case might be turned over on some technicality, or that one juror might not believe that even someone clearly capable of the violence he masterminded was deserving of death. And that concern reappeared earlier this week, when I heard that Muhammad's attorneys, in a last-ditch plea to save their client's life even briefly, alleged that he was mentally ill, attributable to years of abuse at his father's hands. One of the jurors who chose to sentence Muhammad to death said she would not have done so had she known what he had gone through earlier in life.

I wonder how it is any action in someone's life, no matter how horrific, could be excused by some because it was "someone else's fault." I am in no way ignoring the horrible effects child physical and sexual abuse can have on a person's psyche and future behavior, but at what point must a person accept responsibility for their own actions? If well into your adulthood you choose to commit a series of horrible actions, taking the lives of at least 10 people in acts of random, emotionless violence, is it really attributable to something that happened years before, or is that just a crutch you choose to stand on when your back is against the wall?

Muhammad's death will never bring those he and Malvo killed back to life, or even ease their suffering. But I also hope it may have sent a message to even one person contemplating such an act of violence that if they get caught, it isn't something that can be wiped away by excuses of abuse, religious hatred, even revenge. It isn't someone else's fault. If you want to cavalierly discard of human lives, at least accept responsibility for your choices. You control your own destiny. Which path you choose is your choice, not someone else's.

Book Review: "Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater" by Frank Bruni

When I make a list of dream jobs, restaurant critic is always near the top. For a foodie like me, to be able to eat at some of the best restaurants in a city (and not have to take out a second mortgage to afford the meals) would be a pretty amazing opportunity. But since no one is beating down my door offering me that chance, it was fun to live vicariously through Frank Bruni, former New York Times restaurant critic.

Interestingly enough, this book hit home for me in more ways than I imagined. While it was fascinating to read about how he went about surreptitiously visiting NYC restaurants and disguising himself from curious servers and owners, and hearing about some of his most memorable meals, that information was included only in the very last part of the book. The majority of the book recounted Bruni's constant struggle with food, his weight and his self-esteem. Growing up Italian, he was always bombarded by food, and it controlled him for many, many years. He'd yo-yo between heavy and thin, tried every major diet (and some minor ones) as well as some very unhealthy habits, and his food-related issues truly affected his mental and emotional well-being probably more than his weight did.

Throughout the book, I kept thinking about how similar Bruni's story is to my own. While I never went to the extremes he did, food has always been one of my biggest vices, and my weight remains one of my biggest challenges even now. I thought this book was terrific, not only for the fat and formerly-fat among us, but for anyone who's ever struggled with controlling an obsession that is controlling the rest of your life. Bruni is self-deprecating, funny, intelligent and insightful. I really enjoyed this book.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Talk about a whirlwind. In the last 48 hours I went from the pseudo-normalcy I call my typical life to complete despair to relief and cautious optimism. Even for someone like me that's a lot of mood swings.

Our dog, Zeke, is 15-1/2 years old. I've had him since he was four months old. We've been through a lot together—work crises, roommate dramas, moving twice in two years, road trips, health crises, relationships good and bad—and through it all, he's been a source of constant unconditional love, as long as there's food in it for him. (After all, this is the dog who actually recognized the phrase "I'd like to place an order for delivery" about five years ago when we ordered Chinese food at least twice a week.)

As he's gotten older, he's slowed down a little bit at times, although at other times he gallops around the house like a miniature horse. Saturday morning started out like any other Saturday—he got his half a bagel (you can take the dog's owner out of Jersey but you can't take all of the Jersey out of the dog's owner) and he was his usual psyched self. And then at midday he started having trouble getting up on the couch, which was troubling for a dog who spends most of his day on the couch. The evening found him getting caught in the bathroom and stuck behind the toilet (as much as I'd like to believe his newfound zeal for toilet training, it worried me) and getting wrapped up in a cell phone charger cord.

And then the pacing began. Zeke kept circling around the ground floor of the house, round and round, never stopping to relax or lay down. After about 90 minutes of this and his refusal to come upstairs, we took him to the emergency vet around 12:30 am Sunday. Following some tests, the vet told us Zeke had something neurologic wrong with him—either a stroke or a brain tumor. Clearly neither spelled good news. They were going to keep him at the hospital until Monday, when he'd be sent for an MRI.

Needless to say, the outlook wasn't good and we were devastated. While when you have an aging pet you know in the back of your mind at some point you're going to be faced with saying goodbye, you're never quite ready to do so. And to have to make the decision is a Schindler's List-ian burden you never want to shoulder.

So today we took him for an MRI, which came back clear, and a spinal tap, which also came back clear. No stroke, no brain tumor, no encephalitis, no meningitis. Great news all. But of course, the question remains: what is wrong with Zeke?

Good question, that. Zeke is remaining at the vet one more night. They'll take some additional tests and try to pinpoint the cause of the sudden pacing and disorientation. But it certainly appears, unless something changes drastically again, that Zeke is coming home tomorrow. And given where I thought today would end, this is a resolution well worth the rollercoaster ride.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Book Review: "City of Bones" by Cassandra Clare

So I'm starting to wonder if I was a tween girl in a past life (shut up, you). I enjoyed the Twilight series a lot more than I expected I would (some books more than others) and now I just devoured the first book in the "Mortal Instruments" trilogy, Cassandra Clare's City of Bones.

Much as I said when I reviewed the Twilight books, are they well-written? Not necessarily. Are they enjoyable? Yes. A little melodramatic, sure, but when you combine teenage angst with demons and the underworld, what would you expect? I couldn't sleep in the middle of the night AND I read really fast, but I read the entire book yesterday.

Teen-aged Clarissa (Clary) Fray is at a club one evening when she sees three young people armed with knives stalking another kid. She witnesses a murder and winds up finding out about the world of the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. And once her mother disappears suddenly and Clary is attacked by a demon, everything gets just a bit more bizarre.

Sometimes the book gets a little overly detailed, as there are a lot of different classes within the shadowworld, but the action keeps coming. And even if you can anticipate most of what is going to happen, it's still pretty enjoyable. I'm headed back to the real adult shelves now, but I'll be back for book 2.

The Randomness of Memory...

It's true confession time: my name is Larry Hoffer and I'm a bit of a savant. For some reason my brain has an excess of room for completely random trivia that has very little value in the outside world, but when it comes time to remember where I left my wallet about 10 minutes ago, or where I was headed when I left my desk, no dice.

For example, I can tell you—no lie—who was nominated for and won every Oscar for best picture, actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress and director. And while this helps me run the Academy Award categories when watching Jeopardy, I rarely get asked in a job interview or by my boss how many times Johnny Depp has been nominated (3) or what won Best Picture in 1973 (The Sting).

Scarily enough, this isn't the only glut of trivia residing in my brain. I discovered via Facebook I can still name nearly everyone in every one of my elementary school classes or all of my bunkmates from the 10 summers I spent at camp. Song lyrics (lots of 'em), movie quotes, even nearly every semi-finalist from the first five or six seasons of the original Star Search. And I don't practice. Well, I will admit to reciting the Oscar nominees and winners when I'm trying to fall asleep or even when driving by myself late at night, it keeps me alert.

Who knows why? I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for the random things you retain while losing the crucial things, but I've probably forgotten it. Once you get over the sheer hilarity of this confession, I'd love it if you'd share the random stuff your mind has retained over the years. Prove to me I'm not alone in my savant-hood, please?

Friday, November 6, 2009

What Do You Get from a Glut of TV??

Sometimes life is so bizarre it even beats television. Of course, my life is like that on almost a daily basis, but this takes the cake.

So it's just a typical night. We're going to grab some Vietnamese food from the place around the corner. As I'm walking to the car I see a strange looking guy trying to flag down passing cars, and then he's pointing at the streetlight. Always the tolerant one, I'm thinking either the person is going to ask for money or kill us. So as we go to drive away, he waved and said there was an unconscious woman in a car parked across the street.

Now, maybe we watch too many crime shows and I read too many PI novels, but I was pretty much convinced this was a set up. We walk over to the car and there's a gray-haired woman passed out in the passenger's seat. I start to call 911 (I'm not one to get my hands dirty) and W goes over to check if the woman is alive. Again, there's a tiny piece of me wondering whether the guy who flagged us down didn't off the old woman, but maybe that was a recent episode of Criminal Minds.

W called her name and when he poked her, she shot up. She said she was just drunk and told us not to call the police, but of course, I was on the phone with them. I had to explain that the woman was just drunk and didn't need help. It turns out she was (perhaps) stalking her lover who lived in the neighborhood, as she told W "I cannot believe this is my life. I'm 64 years old and live in San Francisco, and here I am." (10 martinis or so later, I might add.) We reunited her with her "friend" and went on our way.

But now, a tasty bowl of pho later, come the questions we want answers to: Did she drive drunk to our neighborhood and then pass out? Did her boyfriend leave her drunk in the car to perhaps catch hypothermia? Does the course of love ever run smoothly, even for people in their 60s? (Clearly the question of "will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm 64" hits a little too close to home for this couple.)

Sadly, these questions won't get tidily wrapped up before the last commercial break. But so ends our good samaritan run for the month. Time to watch some manufactured drama on TV.

Book Review: "Invisible" by Paul Auster

Although I try to read a lot of different books by different authors, I certainly have a group of favorites. If I see a new book by one of these writers (if I haven't been tracking them on Amazon), I will immediately by it when I see it. Paul Auster is one of those. The minute I saw his new book, Invisible, I nearly leapt on it (I'm crazy like that) and, of course, bought it.

Invisible is a well-written, intriguing and odd book. It starts in 1967 at Columbia University. Adam Walker is a college student dreaming of life as a poet when he encounters Rudolf Born and his girlfriend, Margot, at a party. Rudolf and Margot immediately intrigue young Adam with their worldliness, and the couple becomes somewhat intrigued by him as well. What happens shortly thereafter is a shocking act of violence that has ramifications for the rest of the book.

And that's where everything gets a little bit hinky. The book is divided into four sections. The first is narrated by Adam himself, the second and third sections are narrated by a college friend of Adam's (through Adam's words) and the fourth is narrated by another character and almost feels tacked on. There are a lot of big issues in this book--murder, incest, voyeurism, emotional anguish--yet not a lot of it resonates. I loved the story Auster was telling even as I felt uncomfortable reading pieces of it, but ultimately I was left somewhat unfulfilled. I guess I'll hope his next one has a bit more for me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How to Find a Masculine Halloween Costume for Your Effeminate Son

Ok, so it plays on every bad stereotype, but it's kinda funny. Thanks to the Onion News Network for this little goody...

How To Find A Masculine Halloween Costume For Your Effeminate Son

Worthy of Equality...

What a difference one year makes. Last year, the day following Election Day was mainly one of excitement, of amazement and of course, hope, although the blow of the Prop 8 decision in California tempered the enthusiasm of Obama's election.

Waking up this morning to learn that Maine's voters had decided to reject the state's law allowing gay marriage was in sharp opposition to the feeling I had last year at this time. I just cannot believe we have a system in our country which allows people to decide the civil rights of others. What gives one person the power over another to decide who deserves equality and who doesn't? We would never have put a decision related to interracial marriage to the votes of the people during the civil rights movement; why is it okay for people in this day and age to decide who can marry whom?

I've seen so much of the press coverage following this vote and honestly, it just depresses me. I cannot believe people--including those from outside the state of Maine--would have invested so much time and money in furthering hatred and discrimination. For what?

I hear constantly how gay marriage undermines the sanctity of traditional marriage.

Well, guess what?

So does divorce.

And so does adultery.

But so many of those people championing the sanctity of traditional marriage have either committed adultery or been divorced. Why is it ok for celebrities to get married and divorced as often as Cher gets her face fixed, yet that doesn't undermine the sanctity of traditional marriage but gay marriage does?

Why does what one couple does in their own home threaten what another couple does in theirs? None of my friends have ever expressed concern that my relationship undermines their marriages. And you know why? Because, plain and simple: it's nonsense.

Sadly, this is going to be a longer and harder fight than anyone even imagined. The discussions related to DC recognizing same-sex marriages at one point seemed like a slam dunk, yet I believe the opposition will be clearly emboldened by the Maine decision. And any time gay marriage gains the upper hand because of a decision made by a legislature or by a court, the action of "activist judges" will be overturned by the vote of a populace filled with hate and ignorance, of the "I'm better than you are" attitude.

Even if I buy the argument that marriage is seen as a religious ceremony and people's opposition is based on religious beliefs, how can people still vote against laws banning discrimination against gay people, or vote against hate crime bills? No person ever deserves to be beaten up for walking down the street, run over a car or left to die hanging from a fence in the wild. Is this really 2010 that we're still seeing this type of violence?

If I am less of a citizen than some, then can I pay less taxes? Can I have less of a responsibility for the world around me? Because from where I sit, it doesn't seem all that fair to be told I can have half the rights at the same price.



Well, it's finally happened. After months, perhaps years of thinking about setting up a blog I finally did it. So thanks for stopping by.

Those of you who know me are fairly aware that I have a lot to say. But there's also a lot I don't say, whether because no one wants to listen, there's no one around or because sometimes it's just not appropriate to say it. And that's why I now have my blog: because typing to myself is a lot more fun than talking to myself!

Over time, you'll see a good mix of things here. Random thoughts, music/movie/book reviews, recipes, gossip, etc. Feel free to let me know what you want to see as well. Oh, and of course, I need to give credit to the amazing Billy Joel for inspiring the title of this blog.

See ya!