Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Years 2007




I went out this afternoon for a walk and got to see the preparations for the big night. The media, funny hats and of course, what is New Year's without... French Fries and Fried Dough? Did I not get the memo?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Purse

I was talking with friends and we were swapping stories about P'town. It reminded me of what has always been one of the quintessential P'town experiences for me. I was spending the summer working there, this must have been '79 or '80. In tourist towns, if you work there, you tend to pick up casual friendships pretty easily which are tried on, worn for the season. So it wasn't surprising that I was with a large group of people when we went to the White Party at the Boatslip. I don't particularly remember the party. It was pretty much of a piece with the other blowouts of that time, and Provincetown was a much funkier place. After a lot of drinking and dancing and drugging, the party ended and people began the trek down Commercial Street, either off to Spiritus or to trysts at a guest house with the flavor of the evening. It was one of the summers where there had been a lot of trouble with the local teenage boys bashing gay men.

As we moved down the street, trying to decide whether to attend the fire sale at Spiritus, or just head off to our respective homes we were checking out the other people straggling on ahead of us. Directly in front of our group was a drag queen in full Diana Ross. Big johnny mop wig, green sequin mini dress, matching clutch bag and 3 inch heels, girlfriend was magnificent. Ahead of her were a couple of LaCoste queens, all summer slacks and polo shirts with upturned collars, holding hands.

Miss Ross was an object of much more fascinated interest to us and we were vowing that if she stopped for pizza that we were going to have to talk with her and pay homage to her fabulous ensemble.

A pick up truck that was cruising slowly up the street stopped just short of the LaCoste boys, and 4 teenage boys leapt out and attacked the LaCoste's. It was so sudden that for a moment we were frozen in out tracks. Not so Miss Ross. With a wild battle cry and an amazing turn of speed for someone in stilettos she began swinging her evening bag like some avenging fury, a battle crazed Walkure, and laid waste to the enemy downing them with blows to the head from her bag and then kicking seven kinds of shit out of them with her fabulous pumps!

By the time we made it there to offer any support, Miss Ross had already subdued the ruffians and the cops had, surprisingly, already shown up. The LaCoste's more shaken than injured were comforting each other, one of them crying and Miss Ross the avenging angel stood there eyes blazing, chest heaving as if waiting for anyone to challenge her. The cops had asked us all to stay, so that they could get everyone's version of what had transpired, so we stood there not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Finally, my pal Paul leaned forward and gently touched Miss Ross on the arm. "Honey, what ARE you carrying in that bag?", he asked timidly. "Baby", she said haughtily, "I got my brick in my purse. I'm from New York, and a girl does NOT leave the house unless she has a brick in her purse."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Weekend reading

I am planning a quiet New Year's. New Years Eve will be an early dinner with friends, per tradition, Chinese take-out. Otherwise I will be reading, I will probably finish "From Boys to Men" which is an anthology of coming of age, not to be mistaken for coming out, stories by gay men. It features pieces by Joe Jervis, a.k.a. Joe.My.God and Alexander Chee. I have really enjoyed it so far and can honestly say that half way through, there hasn't been a clunker yet. I also would like to try and get through "The March of Folly", by Barbara Tuchman. I have loved all of Tuchman's other books and find her histories engrossing and entertaining. She is able to take a moment in the past and make the events and the prime movers live again for the reader. "The March of Folly" seems like a timely read, since it's focus is on 4 different historical events where governments pursued policies that were clearly not in the best interest of the countries. Sounds all too familiar for anyone who has not been stranded on a desert island or living under a rock for the past 4 years. Food, friends and books! What could be better?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bad start

I got up this morning filled with determination. I have been letting my workout slip the past couple of weeks, between a cold and holiday malaise. This morning I arose at my usual obscene hour made coffee and was out the door by 5:30. As I walked out the door a few snowflakes hit me just as I was beginning to wonder if this was going to be the snowless year, and began my walk downtown.

I made it as far as the block between Berkeley and Arlington when I spotted someone pulled over trying to change a tire. This young guy had obviously never changed a tire before. He had already jacked the truck up and was trying to loosen the lugs. I almost walked on, but my better impulses stopped me. I asked if he wanted some help, and he gratefully accepted. I lowered the car, broke the seal on the nuts and jacked the car back up. Things would have been fine after that except for the spare. A curse on General Motors and on all engineers. Some genius had come to the conclusion that mounting the spare under the car was a good idea. I have had to struggle with similar arrangements before but never with a tire that was suspended by a single bolt. A single bolt I might add that was rusted solid after a few New England winters of road salt. So, taking further pity, I went to CVS which I knew was open and bought a can of WD-40. This in itself was an adventure, since I was in line behind a woman having an altercation with the cashier because he wouldn't accept her credit card without further proof of ID, because she hadn't signed her card. If that wasn't enough fun. There was a couple in front of me and the woman was tweeked out of her mind. Jumping up and down and back and forth. Jumping forward grabbing things out of the displays on the counters and then putting them back. All the while accompanying this with a loud running commentary on how long it was taking. The first woman at this point has become thoroughly if unjustifiably offended and is demanding to see the manager. She is being dissed and doesn't have to put up with this. At this point the manager actually walked through the door and got to have her turn with being haranged. Finally, one of the store slaves opened the self-serve and tweeky and boyfriend leapt to the machine, which she had no idea of how to operate. Fortunately, some kind soul moved in and helped her process her purchases, and I, who could feel the milk of human kindness curdling in my breast, swiped my stuff and headed back to the stranded motorist. I once again crawled under the truck and this time sprayed the hell out of wing bolt and spent several minutes whacking at it with the tire iron. Finally, I admitted defeat and asked the kid if he had triple A. As it would happen he did. Now some of you may be saying to yourself, why didn't he just call AAA right off the bat. I asked myself the same question, but at the same time, it is hard for me to fault anyone who is making the effort to solve a problem by themselves. Still I left feeling frustrated and as though I hadn't done enough, or had somehow failed. By this time it was too late to go to the gym and make it to work on time, so I walked to the nearest T stop and took the next train back to my neighborhood. Once home I was placing my faith in the efficacy of hot water. A hot shower would make the world right again. This was when I discovered that I had ice cold and ice cold running water. I did my best with a chilly sponge bath changed into clean clothes and went off to work.

I guess what I am wondering now is why I persist in believing in luck and fate and karma. In spite of having a run of what could be considered ill luck, what real significance does it have? It wasn't luck, it wasn't fate or karma. It was brownian motion in action. I was merely being propeled through my little part of the universe by forces of time and motion. I am not controling my life and neither is some great cosmic force. Sometimes faith in the nitrogen cycle bites down hard.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Feast of Stephen

Ah the post holiday let down. I am beginning to understand why other countries take the day after Xmas as well. It gives you a chance to recover from a certain amount of enforced conviviality. I suppose that there are those who would also like to have one day where they could gloat over their Xmas swag. My holiday was pretty gift free, which as I get older is something of a relief. My niece sent cookies and she and her boyfriend gave me an Amazon gift certificate, which is even now speeding 3 books to me. A collection of short gay fiction, one of the few things of Barbara Tuchman's that I haven't read, "The March of Folly" and a replacement copy of "Our Mutual Friend" which somehow disappeared off the bookshelf and hasn't been seen since. I also indulged in a new cell phone. The old Nokia was actually perfectly good. A solid cheap phone that took a great deal of abuse and kept working, but was unfortunately the size of a brick. I got one of the new slim candybar phones from Samsung. I am assured that as long as I don't carry it in my back pocket (how stupid do have to be?) that it is pretty darned sturdy. While the jury is out on that aspect, I have to say that it's a nice phone and so far I am happy. Other than that, I have not felt any burning need to add to all of the crap that I have in my house. I really would like to find a way to get rid of about 60% of my possesions so that I can start streamlining my existance. What ever possessed me? It is past time to purge. Maybe that will be my new project for 2007. Clearing the house until there is only what I really need left. What would that leave me with? In the end what would it say about me as a person, if I had only those things I really needed and valued? What would those things be? Well I will have to overcome some of my natural inertia to see what that would be. Still who knows, I never thought I'd loose weight and I did it. I never thought I'd escape from my old and hated job and I did that as well, the new day can always bring a suprise, whether you're ready or not.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Merry Little Xmas


I spent the afternoon with friends. Wah-bags once again outdid himself. Roast goose, red cabbage and chestnuts braised in red wine, asparagus, wild rice and snap peas. Oh, yeah, and several bottles of Veuve Cliquot of which all partook liberally. One of the guests brought her partner, who being jewish had never actually taken part in a Xmas celebration. I explained to her how Santa used Rudolph's nose to guide the angels to baby Bejeezus and then had a three way with the wise men. That's why they brought along the incense and the oil. It also explained why Santa is so jolly. She said, yeah but Xmas only comes once a year. I said, what the hell do you think he's doing with all those elves up on the north pole the rest of the year. All in all it was a very nice day and I am now drinking copious amounts of water so that with any luck I will not drop a dumbell on my head while I am attempting tricep extentions tomorrow. This is why I don't drink any more. Merry Xmas to all and to all a good night!

The Godfather of Soul

I tuned into NPR this morning to some sad news. James Brown, the hardest working man in show business has died. Controversial, outrageous, love him or hate him, James Brown was probably one of the most important figures in music in the past 50 years. You think of James Brown and you think of someone who put everything into his show. I know I will always think of the time that he dropped to his knees so hard during a show that he limped for the rest of the performance. We seem to be loosing a lot of the figures that loomed as giants in the music industry during my youth. So put on your copy of Santa Claus, Santa Claus and pause for a moment in remembrance of the godfather of soul.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Red toy car

One of my earliest Christmas memories is playing with a red and white toy car. It was a 1958 Ford convertible that the top went up and down on as you rolled it across the floor. My Uncle Burt had given one each to my brother John and I.

Burt was my mother’s brother. He came up from Connecticut every weekend to spend the weekends with us, as well as holidays. He was divorced and I think had pretty limited access to his 2 sons, who he adored. The visiting arrangement was not one I think my father was very happy with. In later years talking with my mother, she told me of how as children, Burt who was older than her had always looked out for her, so as adults she felt she had to look out for him.

Burt had served in WWII as a radioman on a bomber. He had been stationed in England and flew some impossible number of missions over Germany. One night he was pulled off of duty because he had a cold that was affecting his middle ear. If you fly in a marginally pressurized airplane you can’t expect to be able to hear if your Eustachian tubes are blocked. That night the crew he had flown with every mission was lost over Germany. My mom said after that he was never the same.

According to my mother, before the war Burt had been “full if the devil”. He was someone always ready to go out dancing and have a good time, funny and with a wicked sense of humor and always ready for a joke. I would not have recognized this man. My Uncle Burt was to be succinct a bit nuts. He was so full of tics and rituals that it is a miracle that he ever made it through a day. Among the childhood memories my brothers and I share are Uncle Burt hogging the bathroom while we were hopping outside the bathroom door in desperate need of relief. He had the same toothbrush for years. “The bristles on new toothbrushes are too stiff. They’ll just wear the enamel right off your teeth, this one I have broken in just right.” Once when Mike and I were in the kitchen peeling oranges he came in and flew into a panic. “Always use a spoon to peel an orange! They are just full of acid and if it gets under your nails it will just eat it’s way right down to the bone!” He was as eccentric as a cage full of monkeys on hard drugs, and yet an incredibly kind man and he loved us. I think if he were diagnosed now, he would be described as suffering from PTSD and obsessive compulsive disorder. Back in the 60’s he was merely nutty. Among Burt’s obsessions were, an encyclopedic knowledge of every automobile ever manufactured by Ford Motor Company, the big bands and Gilbert & Sullivan operas. In short he was the perfect uncle for a young homo.

In a lot of ways Uncle Burt was my savior. My father loathed me as a child. I was not a real little boy. I liked to read, draw and watch movies My interest in wildlife was to study it or try and draw it, not blast it off the landscape with a gun. I was more interested in the musicals of the golden age of Hollywood than any sports. Probably the only male interest I had as a kid was automobiles which fascinated me, but since my old man didn’t share that obsession, it didn’t count. All in all I was a thorough sissy, which ultimately resulted in my serving the purpose of emotional and physical punching bag for the old man. Dad was an alcoholic and a bully. If he spotted a weakness, he would exploit it. His idea of a joke was to expose you to something which terrified you and then laugh at your reaction. If you didn’t think it was the funniest thing in the world you had no sense of humor, and if you continued to be frightened, you were just a big sissy. Either way, he became angry with you and it was your fault for making him angry. I managed to earn regular thrashings over the years in this way. I know that a lot of kids that grow up like this spend their entire childhood trying to win the love and approval of this kind of father. I don’t know if I had a shallower learning curve than most, but by the time I was 11, I hated my father as much as he hated me and spent the next 7 years of my life trying to avoid contact with him as much as possible. The fact that avoidance was an option became clear to me because of the boat.

One of my father’s friends had a boat that he kept all summer at the lake. He gave Dad the keys and permission with the boathouse so that the old man could use the boat any time he wanted when Mr. Bran was not using it. So every weekend during the summer we would go out in the boat. I hated it. I am still not comfortable around water. It probably goes back to the time that my older sister pushed me off a diving board and if my cousin Buster hadn’t pulled me out, I probably would have drowned. I am not a strong swimmer and tend to sink like a rock rather than float. Whatever the reason, I, did not then and to this day, do not like being on the water. But as I was saying, after downing a 6 pack, the old man would load the family into the car and off to the lake we went, and then Mom, my brothers, more beer and I would get into the boat for a relaxing afternoon of my father attempting daredevil stunts with the boat and me clinging face down to the deck whimpering and on occasion screaming. Among his favorite things was on days when the lake was rough, to turn into the waves and gun the boat eventually getting it to skip from crest to crest. Then the cycle would begin. Having reduced me to near pant wetting terror because he found it so funny, he would then become infuriated with my cowardice. Finally, my mother couldn’t stand the conflicts any longer and she made arrangements for me to be dropped off with grandma while they went off to the lake.

Around 1962, Uncle Burt bought a house about a mile away from us. He moved my much loved grandmother and my very scary town drunk of a grandfather into it and after that, continued to come back to Vermont from Connecticut every weekend, but now to his house, though at least for us kids it was never Uncle Burt’s house it was Grandma’s. From then on after the mandatory 6 pack, the rest of the family went off to the lake, and I was dropped off at Grandma’s. Those were quiet Sundays, and I remember Grandma having me read poetry aloud from her collection of books in her little bookcase, but what I also remember was Uncle Burt taking me up to his room where he had his stereo and playing music for me. Why I am not now an expert on the bands of the 40’s I don’t know. I heard more Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bennie Goodman and Glenn Miller than probably anyone born after the end of the Second World War. If that portion of my childhood had a sound track, it would feature “String of Pearls”. He was always buying more music, adding to what in the end was an incredible collection of the music from that era. Now in case some of you are slow on the uptake, my Uncle Burt was a closet case. If you are waiting to hear a lurid tale about how he took advantage of my youth and innocence you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Burt’s tragedy was perhaps even sadder in it’s own lonely way. He was, I think, so repressed that he completely sublimated any sexuality he had and put all of that pent up energy into his obsessions. In a way, while we were small children it gave him some means of communication, because he was one of those people who knew how to talk to little kids. If he provided a safe haven for me, then we boys gave him some hold on the world, a human contact that most people have with other adults in a harsh real world. Burt lived in a world of his own construction and it hadn’t changed since he had gone dancing with his little sister and his friends to the big bands playing at the Casino out on the lake before the war.

Time however marches on, and the 60’s steamrolled over us all. The ramifications of assassinations, the Viet Nam war, and social upheaval were felt everywhere, even in our sleepy little part of the world. Adolescence hit the Pelletier boys at the same time and if the world seemed to be going up in flames our family also was in an upheaval that none of us survived unscathed. Uncle Burt was good with small kids, but was clueless about teenagers, and had no insight into how to deal with the churning emotions that make up that transition in a persons life. So it was that we started to grow apart. And so it was that Burt began to retreat more into himself. Then his younger son was drafted, shipped off to Viet Nam and returned home a heroin addict. Burt didn’t have the emotional equipment to deal effectively with the crisis but he tried. His older son, always a bit of an emotional basket case, started to turn into a pale and even sadder form of his father. So his children slowly at first, then quickly and deliberately began to drift away from him. Burt’s reaction was to become even more obsessive and for lack of a better word crazy. I somehow made it through the 4 years that was a combination of bullying and boredom that was high school. I went to college for a year, dropped out and moved to Boston. As I began to bloom in more fertile new ground, Burt went into a downward spiral. The drug addict son kicked his addiction, found Jesus and excluded his father from his life. The other son went on his way, only maintaining contact with his father when he needed financial assistance.

In those sad years my mother fell into more and more of a role as caretaker of Burt. Things finally reached their nadir when my mother received a call from a mental institution in Connecticut. Burt who had become increasingly erratic had been sending letters to his boss. They were as it turned out odd and rambling, but the boss had found them threatening. I am not entirely sure about the content of these missives but whatever they contained they got Burt dismissed from his job. Burt then sent the boss a letter telling him he would be coming to settle matters. Whatever was in the letter, it was enough to convince the police that they would be there to meet Burt when he arrived and take him off to the booby hatch. So it was that Mom got a call from Burt, telling her where he was. It took a few phone calls and some threats on my mothers part with legal action to get Burt sprung. The situation was further hampered because Burt was determined to stay put until he convinced the doctors that he was not disturbed. If ever the adage that a lawyer who represents himself has fool for a client was applicable this would be an outstanding example. I have to hand it to Mom, she got him out and that was the beginning of Burt’s retirement. After that he moved to Vermont premanently and began life driving my poor grandmother crazy on a full time basis.

After that things quieted down a lot for Uncle Burt. He spent more time with his siblings, and his cars, and fretting about his health and everyone else’s, dispensing crazy advice and making pronouncements on the best way to treat or avoid illness. Grandma went into the hospital to be operated on for stomach cancer, had a stroke after the surgery and never went home. After she died, the house, which I think Burt kept against the day when he hoped his mother would return, began to seem too big. He sold the house and moved to a retirement community which had been developed only about a 10 minute walk from my parents and he would come to visit even more frequently to advise my mother on the error of her ways, which was anything that she happened to be doing at the time that Burt felt with his greater experience of the world, she could be doing in a manner more acceptable to him. It drove Mom sort of crazy, but she also would laugh about it. His ideas and rules had developed into such an arcane fetish, that there was no way to take offense, or at least to stay angry for too long. Then Burt, who had never drunk or smoked developed stomach cancer. He had one surgery, and then another. During the ordeal Burt remained the same. As his illness progressed he developed theories about the accuracy of his diagnosis, his treatment and whether his own cures which he developed by a means and reference known only to him would be more efficacious than anything medical science had developed. It was a cruel death after such a hard an unhappy life. As the disease reached it’s late stages Burt started to waste away and became even more difficult. My mother, never the most patient of people somehow managed to maintain her patience with Burt. Selfish as Mom can be, she truly loved her brother and he was probably one of the few people she has ever allowed herself to be close to and she at the end was all he had left.

When he died the funeral arrangements and burial were left to my mother. His sons came, cleaned out his place and left, and that was the end of Burt. My mother is now the only one left in her family and I think it has turned out to be as lonely of a life for her now as it had been for Burt. I rarely go to visit, though when I do more often than not we will talk about Uncle Burt. If Mom is having a good day, the conversation will turn to when they were young and what they did. How they would get into and out of trouble and it will be all sunny summer days in a world of radio programs and boys who wore short pants and Christmas trees that had real candles on them.

As for me, every Christmas I think of this man who must have struggled every day to get on in a hostile world, but who was able to give me a red toy car which after nearly 50 years I still remember with such joy and who for a while anyway provided me with a safe place to be.

Early a.m.

It is Xmas eve morning. Alice dragged me out of bed to get her breakfast. It's amazing how sounds of kitty destruction around the apartment will get you up. I have made myself an apple breakfast dish, that Clint gave me the recipe for. It is as yet untried, so I am volunteering as guinea pig. I will have to let Clint know what it's like. I am also going to try to finish a story I am working on about my Uncle Burt. He was a strange and rather sad man, who when I was a child gave us the best Xmas presents. He is one of my earliest childhood memories of Xmas and a happy one. I am not sure how it will turn out, and I don't think there is any way to put some sort of uplifting spin on the end of the story. Life may imitate fiction, but it is rarely the Disney version.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Anti Claus


To get myself into the holiday spirit I decided to wear black, but with a Santa hat. The Buttermonkey told me I look really good in this outfit. I told the Buttermonkey that I look like a 2 dollar whore, who's having a fire sale. I should have waited till his mouth was full of coffe though.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holy Cow






Clint wasn't exaggerating! I just feel that the photos don't do justice to the display, and display seems like a pale word for this extravaganza. I haven't seen this many Christmas lights since Playland closed down. Actually, it was fun. There were lots of gawkers and everyone was, well just being nice. Folks made and effort to not get in the way of people taking pictures and we even got to perform a good deed. Clint found a cell phone. He gave it to me, as though it was some sort of venomous snake. He has never owned a cell phone, knows nothing about them and treasures his ignorance on the subject. I figured I would call T-Mobile and see if I could get the phone traced, but as I walked through the door of my apartment, the phone started to ring and the name Mom came up on the caller ID. After a brief conversation, I gave directions to my place and the college student and his phone were reunited. A happy ending for a fun and silly evening.

Xmas tech


Getting new office equipment is always risky. Especially if the boss isn't around. We got a new copier that also functions as a printer and more importantly a scanner! A full color scanner. A full color scanner to be misused by bored support staffers. Anyhow, don' it just say Merry Xmas?

It is probably a good thing that word came from on high that the office is going to close at 1:00 tomorrow. I hate to think what we could have been reduced to by 5:00.

Gettin' in the holiday spirit

I am sooooo... excited! My pal Clint is picking me up after work and we are going out to West Roxbury. Now West Roxbury may not seem like an exciting destination, but we go with a purpose. There is a home owner on V.F.W. Parkway who has managed to enrage all of his neighbors to the point of their trying to get a court order out against him because of the excessive manner in which he has decorated his house. Clint went out once this week already and had to report in, knowing my fascination with over the top tackiness when it comes to any holiday decoration. From what he said this display would make a Mardi Gras float of drag queens look like a coming out party designed by Martha Stewart. I am going to bring a camera and a tripod, so I hope to be posting later this evening. Latest word is that the electric company has had to go out there and upgrade the infrastructure because he is creating to heavy of a load on the existing lines. I'm not kidding.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sorority House

The next new thing is on it's way in Boston. Gay only condo's. I'm not sure how I feel about this having been exposed to so called inclusive organizations. The ongoing cat fights that would come brimming to the surface will probably be heard all over the city. While I can understand the desire to live among like minded people, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a fellow Vermonter when she was questioned as to why she lived in a very mixed neighborhood instead of a "nicer" area.

"If I wanted to be around people that were just like me, I would have stayed in Vermont."

It'll be an interesting story to follow, and I will be fascinated to see how things shake out. I forsee all sorts of housing discrimination problems dogging this.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cookies!!

I love my niece. Aside from being funny and smart and witty and just generally a lot of fun to hang out with, she sends me cookies every year at Xmas. I went to the post office yesterday to pick up this years offering. I gained 20 lbs. just opening the box! Inside were, eggnog cookies, candy cane cookies, 2 kinds of fudge, biscotti, macaroons among other lovely fattening treats and just for me nut brittle. I am the only one of the folks that she sends these care packages off to that actually likes the stuff. Actually likes is a bit of an understatement, and this year I get to rot all of my dental work out with cashew brittle. It doesn't get much better.

Every year I am hugely impressed by this expression of generosity. If you've never baked cookies, I have to point out it's not something that you can do in 10 minutes. This takes time. Literally hours. I also should point out the girl is a busy professional and so this is a real sacrifice of time and if you've been to the grocery store recently you will also realize this ain't cheap. The only insight I can offer as to why the niece takes the time and puts the energy into doing this is, that like me she loves food. One of the things I enjoyed about having my daughter live with me when she was in high school was that I had someone to cook for. I think that is a big part of it, at least from my point of view. Food is for sharing, it is a way of communicating. You know, communion. That said, there is a lot to be said for guilty pleasures as well, which more often than not are best enjoyed in privacy. I will probably spend a good share of my time over the next couple of weeks with my nose buried in a book and one hand in a bag of delicious homemade cookies. Hey, I have the rest of the winter to work them off at the gym.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holiday giving

Over on JoeMyGod there is a good piece on homeless gay youth. For those in a charitable frame of mind there is a link to a homeless shelter for gay youth, the Ali Forney Center. If you are thinking about a way to spread around some of your Xmas swag this is a good cause.

Check out Joe's post.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'll be homo for Xmas

Okay kids, let's try another open thread. I will spend Xmas day at a friends house eating myself into a coma. What are your Xmas plans?

The morning news

I was clutching my coffee mug this morning, listening to NPR, when I heard a report on a couple of Baptist ministers that have gotten themselves in trouble for doing naughty things with little girls. At this point the sexual misconduct of the clergy is sort of a yawn. The biggest recent splash was everyones favorite born-again homo, Ted Haggard.

It has got me thinking though. Mostly about how things are perceived in this country. Prior to the new scandals about protestant ministers getting up to hijinx with members of their congregations, I can't help but feel that the country had come to consider this type of behavior as the sole province of Catholics! I actually, during the height of the shitstorm that surrounded the Boston diocese, had friends inform me that this type of thing would never happen in other sects because the pastors were answerable directly to their congregations and not to some centralized bureaucracy. In vain did I try and tell them stories that I had heard from friends in my youth about what the local pastor was doing with the boy scout troop.

I have to admit to a certain amount of smug self satisfaction. As a former Catholic, I am not very sympathetic to the mother church, but I have noticed here in Boston a very strong anti-catholic sentiment, and I hear some pretty strange ideas about what it is that Catholics actually believe, and how they practice their faith. Admittedly, a lot of Catholics give people some pretty strange ideas themselves. I guess what I am pointing out is that it is simply by virtue of the otherness of Catholics that leave them open to suspicion. Somehow, like Jews and Islam, you really can't trust those people.

Well, now everyone gets to join in the fun. Choose your perversion. You can be a televangelist, who has a thing for call boys and meth, or a small town pastor, who likes 8 year old girls and you too can wind up in the news. Frankly, I find this new story about these dirty old men in the south as news worthy as "The Hag" and his misbehavior. However since these guys had not had the forethought to bilk a larger audience out of millions of dollars for their ministry, all the while getting their butts plugged by muscle boys, I am not sure how much attention this is going to get. Besides it was just a bunch of little girls! What's to get excited about?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

You bug me baby

I often try to explain to people about my mother’s inability to let anything go, and how that even though her children are all grown and by and large into middle age, she is incapable of treating any of them as though they are any older than14. So I usually fall back on this story to demonstrate my point.

This story starts back in 1967. My older brother was in the full flush of a newly minted drivers license and pride of ownership in his first car. The car in question was a rather scabrous, gold, 1957 VW, but for John no more beautiful car could have existed.

It was one of those beautiful summer days that only exist in the recollection of childhood and my brother was performing one of his least favorite duties. Watching my brother and me. Aiding and abetting him in this was his best friend Pat, who was also drunk on ownership and driving privileges. They were having one of those teenage bragging contest that runs on excessive testosterone and the topic of course was who was the better driver. The discussion managed to move from an ad hoc pop quiz from the Vermont State Drivers Manual, to their innermost familiarity with their respective vehicles. While Pat was explaining the exquisite oneness he had achieved with his Rambler Ambassador, John was countering with the intuitive, nay spiritual understanding of every rattle, creak and flatulent backfire emanating from his Bug. This heady braggadocio only ended with my brother making the fateful statement, “Oh yeah, well I know my car so well that I could drive it blindfolded!” Pat seized this flung gauntlet, and at an age where word is close to action, John, Pat, my brother Mike and I as well as 3 of Pat’s brothers were packed into the Volkswagon and almost before we knew it were maneuvering our way out to the back field.

The property that my parents bought in 1960 was an acre of land, complete with a house, carriage barn, well house, wood shed and privy. All of the structures took up about 1/3 of the property and the rest was a field at the back of the property. Running along one side of the property was a thick patch of raspberries and milkweed and on the other side a hedgerow of trees at the center of which was an enormous and ancient oak. The field itself had been innocent of anything other than tall grass and wildflowers until John bought his car, and then for a short while, until John got his license, it had been the home and driving track for the VW. There was by then a well worn, roughly oval track out in the field that bore witness to John’s experiments in mastering the art of driving so it was on that familiar route that the Bug bounced past the barn and the outhouse and the old man’s garden to its appointment with fate.

Once the car was positioned at the head of the field, John was blindfolded and after a certain amount of argument over whether he could actually see or not, John put the car in gear and we, acting as navigators, all began to shout instructions as to whether he should be turning left or right or going straight. John actually made it about ¾ of the way around the field before the shouted directions and the distinction between left and right got blurred and the VW sailed slowly and with as much majesty as an ancient VW beetle could manage, into the oak tree amidst a frantic chorus of stop, stop. Now admittedly we were only doing between 5 and 10 mph, but it made an impressive crunching noise and jolted us all in good shape. We piled out in a wild state of excitement to survey the damage, John certain that he had totaled the car. Actually, it came out of it’s confrontation with the tree in pretty good shape, except that the front bumper was bent in the middle and almost touching the body of the car. For those unfamiliar with the old style bug, the bumpers were set out away from the body of the car by a good few inches. The bumper which was ordinarily one smooth curve, now described 2 arcs joined in the middle like a child’s drawing of a bird in flight. All we could think of was what would happen when our parents got home, in particular the manner in which indiscriminate justice would be dealt out by the old man. Action was called for and if the Pelletier boys were anything, it was resourceful.

Now, among the many hats my father had worn in the work world before he finally found the rut he was to occupy for so many years working in facilities at the local college, he had worked as a steeplejack. Luckily for us, my father is one of those men who are incapable of throwing anything away.
Therefore, neatly coiled in the carriage barn was the steeplejack tackle my dad had used while working at a job that required climbing telephone poles, trees and from what I can gather anything else that was vertical. What was best about this was the rope that he had used, which was very, very long and about 3 inches in diameter. We went up to the barn and dragged the rope back down to the scene of the crime and proceeded to wrap one end around the tree, which had a diameter, that if it had been cut down, you probably could have parked the car on. The other end was tied around the center of the bumper. Very slowly, and with lots of yelling and wild hand signals, John began backing the car up. After a lot of “just a little more, no, no, NO, STOP, the bumper was finally bent back into shape, the only evidence left, a small dimple about the size of a dime in the center. It was in a much more sober frame of mind John drove the car back up to the front yard and parking the car in front of the house. We then waited for my parents to come home. I don’t remember John even having to threaten us with painful retribution. I think we all realized that if the old man ever found out about this it would not have turned out pretty for anyone involved. The parents eventually made it home and as far as we could tell my father, who for a man who rarely drew a sober breath was incredibly observant, never noticed it. And that was about it. It was a rare moment of solidarity between my older brother and I, who generally were always on the look out for any excuse to rat one another out. If for no other reason than this unspoken truce this incident would have stood out in my memory.

Now, flash forward 30 years. I had gone up for one of my rare visits to my parents and as it turned out both of my brothers visited that day as well. We sat in the living room and as the conversation turned, we boys began remembering all the things we had done that we had somehow never got caught at. Among the stories were tales of bad teenage behavior with cars and John remembered about the VW. Between the three of us we started piecing the story together and my father who has grown a lot more easy going, was laughing like anything about it. My mother on the other hand just started to purse her lips. Mom is one of those people that the angrier they get the smaller their mouth gets. By the time we had about done with our story, Mom’s mouth had entirely disappeared and she had gone bright red.

“You God damned kids!” she finally yelled, and proceeded to harangue us with what would have happened if she had only found out at the time. This only got us laughing harder, which only seemed to make the old lady angrier, and go into greater detail about how she would have made our father beat the 3 of us to death, which only made us laugh harder making her angrier. It was as though we had done this 30 minutes, not 30 years before. If she could have she would have sent her 3, now middle aged sons, to their rooms. This is my mother all over. She has nursed every offence against her to her bosom like a sick kitten. I think that she was most vexed because she had been deprived of 30 years of dragging this crime against parental authority out to beat us with whenever the mood moved her. As you can gather, our mother is difficult, and over the years we all have finally gotten to the point of just rolling our eyes and saying “She means well.” Though that will be a terrible thing to have on her headstone. I think for our part, this childhood memory has become even funnier, because there is the event itself, which is a sterling example of youthful stupidity, then the long overdue aftermath that gives us yet one more example to exhibit when trying to explain our mother to others. It’s also a good prod if we are feeling mischievous, and want to get the old girl going! Now if we could just remember some of the other things we got up to…..

Monday, December 11, 2006

Great line

Overheard the other day:

Oh my God, HIM! He's like a combination of Nora Desmond and Al Pacino.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Field trip


I went on a field trip this evening. I took a couple of grad students and our undergrad office assistant for a walk up the Commonwealth Ave. mall to look at the lights. Unfortunately, my camera is not very fast so most of the photos came out blurry. I will have to get out my tripod and go out on my own. I wanted to show the fabulously tacky display on one of the townhouses. I am sure it sends the Back Bay Association absolutely crazy and they put it up every year! I don't know who these people are but I love them. I promise I'll drag out the tripod and get some good shots.

The nicest thing I've heard all week

I was in bed with a humpy nice looking young man this weekend.

How old did you say you were?

51.

God, I hope my ass looks that good when I'm 51.

Sometimes life is kind.

(It was pointed out to me that I forgot to mention I was wearing chaps at the time, oh and boots and a cockring.... that's all.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

QOTY

There is a fun poll going for the "Queer of the Year" on JoeMyGod's blog. People are suggesting candidates for an award for the person that they feel has helped move forward the gay movement in the past year. Currently I am voting for the country of Canada, who have dismissed conservative PM Stephan Harper's call for a referendum on gay marriage in Canada. It's nice to know at least in Canada they don't think it's a good idea to take peoples human rights away from them, once you've signed them into law. I can only hope that Massachusetts will follow this sensible example

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bells are ringing

Ah, listening to the news in the morning. It's always good for a laugh. Life just gets better and better. Now aside from being protected from our self destructive impulses to sit down and eat a plate of margarine and Crisco in a restaurant somewhere, we can talk ourselves into a state of imbecility without worry. After all of the studies that have shown that talking on cell phones will cause our brains to leak out our ears, because of the low level radiation they emit, surprise, surprise, there is a new study showing that, no, in fact you can gabble inanely as long as you want with no side effects on your new RAZR or whatever hip communication device you choose. What are all of those folks that have pissed away money on bluetooth devices, so that they could have the sound quality of 2 dixie cups and a string going to say? Probably not much, since there is the whole, "I am so much cooler than you are, because I have my wireless earpiece that glows blue." factor. I have become much more in favor of handsfree add ons as of late, even if it does mean that you walk down the street looking like you are talking to yourself like a crazy person, but I'll stick with the wired earbud until they finally get the bugs out of the wireless sets, thanks all the same.

I guess the point of this whole rant is that, in spite of being warned, cajoled and frightened with specious theories loosely based on science, the fact is that all of the experts are self styled and really are only spouting theories on dangers that have all of the substance of swamp gas. Somehow, suggesting that people exercise common sense just doesn't have that same thrill of suggesting whether you are talking on your cell phone or eating a donut that you might as well be bungie jumping into a pit of vipers with your pockets full of bricks. But don't worry kids, by the time another week roles around there will be some new percieved danger out there that will be adding a soupcon of danger to what would ordinarily be an everyday activity. God only knows what chemicals that keyboard your typing at as you cruise the web is leaching out into your system.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Oh Lardy, lardy

The food nazi's are winning. New York has just enacted a ban on transfats! What is worse, it may be coming to dear old Boston. It would seem that Boston, not to be out politically corrected is now considering similar legislation. It really is time to move out of this benighted country. Don't get me wrong. I am all about eating in a responsible and healthy way. I have managed to diet and exercise myself into pants that are 3 inches smaller around the waist and I got myself off of cholesterol medication. I, however did not require the assistance of the state to do it. I simply convinced myself that there was a difference between being hungry and being bored. However self discipline and personal responsibility are sooo 20th century. So start pounding back those Dunkin' Donuts honey, they may not be around much longer. The only hope is that all of this frankenscience that gets spouted, like oatbran, green tea, ginko and god only remembers the last food fad, will turn out to be yet more poorly thought out research. After all, not that long ago chocolate was so, so bad for you. Now, lo and behold it is just chock full of antioxidents. So hang tough America. In a few years they will discover that donuts and cheese doodles are the key to longer life.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Pearl Harbor Day

It is Worlds AIDS Day. I had wanted to write a piece about my best friend Larry. It won't come. I cannot seem to write anything that in my mind does justice to him. I can tell you that he was born on May 25, 1945 and died December 7, 1984. That in those early days of the epidemic, when hysteria ran high and people were abandoned by friends and family, Larry's friends and family rallied around, arranged care rota's and there was always someone with him and caring for him. Those are only facts, what I can't seem to write about is that he was the best friend that I ever had. How he made me feel loved and valued in a way I never felt before I met him, and never have again since he died.

I can tell you that there is a six and a half foot tall whole in my life that will never be filled and will never really heal over. I think about Larry every day, and miss him. Occasionally I will still cry when I think about the fact that I will never see him again, and about all the things we never got to do over the past 22 years and all the things that we will not be able to do together in the future. Life goes on for the living, and I know Larry would not want me to spend my life grieving it away because of his absence and I don't. But on this day it will be hard not to feel sadness and longing bite down a little harder. I'm just happy that I was wiser than I knew at the time, and always let Larry know how much I loved him. I still do.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Age appropriate


Today is my first open thread. I will be asking the question, is it all right for me to be seen in public dressed like this? I was inspired by a conversation I had yesterday with a visiting faculty member. We were talking about people of a certain age wearing clothes that were designed for people younger than themselves. So, should I be wandering around like this, or should I be keeping myself decently covered?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What a waste

Waste has been in the news for the past few days. If it hasn't made the headlines, it has at least been on NPR. I heard a report first on food waste, appropriately enough, on the day after Thanksgiving. It would seem the average American throws out 600 lbs. of food a year. They tracked people who did not consider themselves to be wasteful. Among the top items to be thrown out were fresh fruit and vegetables. It seems that these are people who like to think they eat healthy, so they buy fresh fruit and vegetables, because that is what healthy people eat and then wait for them to go bad and throw them out. Part of the problem it seems is overbuying. The other is the days on which people shop. It seems that I, who consider myself to be fairly thrifty, shop on the best days. They advised people to do their shopping late in the week. The other item was the portions that were prepared. Plan your meals and only prepare what you are going to eat. That doesn't work so much for me, since the people they were working with have an aversion to leftovers. I, if I am cooking more food than I will eat in one sitting, do it on purpose so that I will have something that doesn't require preparation the next day. Roast chicken and meatloaf, just to site a couple of examples of how I try to get out of cooking meals every day, especially on work days. I am in a minority, but I kind of like leftovers. If I am going to cook, why not make something I would be willing to eat 2 days in a row.

The other item was consumer electronics. We are being overburdened with electronics that are designed to wear out, something the manufacturers admit, so that we will go out and buy the replacement. The real problem with the electronics is disposal. Once you make these things, you have to find some responsible way to dispose of something that is chock full of hazardous materials. Some environmental groups are trying to get the designers and manufacturers to plan their products so that the components can be recycled. The reasoning is that companies would save money on the production of these ephemeral consumer goods and would at the same time be a lot friendlier for the planet. Needless to say, these businesses are very resistant to the idea.

If you think about it we throw things away constantly. I know that my office is far from paperless, though most of my work is done on a computer. We receive packages all day long, and the boxes that they arrive in have to be disposed of. Then most of the products in the box are in boxes, quite often with blisterpack on the actual item in the box. Germany has very strict packaging laws, and vendors there would never get away with the excessive and difficult to dispose of packaging solutions that we embrace in this country.

It seems like a pretty simple equation. Stop buying so much, and stop buying things you don't need, stop buying products with the life expectancy of a mayfly. It seems simple, but after a lifetime of exposure to my fellow creatures and several years in retail, common sense never prevails and so we are going to continue to waste things until there is nothing left to waste. The only things left on the planet will be waste. Humanity had better hope the space program moves ahead with plans to start settlements on the moon and Mars, cause we're gonna' run out of room down here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Funny hats

I have learned something interesting. If you want some attention, wear a silly hat. Among the activities I pursued during my week off from work, I updated my Manhunt page. I have had an account with Manhunt for over a year now, and to be frank, it hasn't been all that successful. I was innocent of some conventions, so my first mistake was to list my actual age. I have learned subsequently that you automatically add 5 years to anyones profile. So in Manhunt years I am 56 years old, which is rushing things a bit. While I can see 60 looming on the horizon, it's not quite that close. I have also learned that home naked shots are not as easy to take, even with a camera with a timer, as one might think. All I can say is that it's a good thing no one can see into my apartment easily, when I am taking new photos for the add. Then there is the profile itself. Some people, most of them delusional I might add, manage to toot their own horn. The list of people and things they are not interested in is staggering. I have also had to learn a whole new shorthand of 3 letter acronyms, a.k.a. TLA's. I never knew that so many men are VGL (very good looking) and it would seem that all of the men in Boston are hung like horses. I had also been hitherto unaware at the number of men in Boston that had access to professional photographers. (Either that or scanners and a staggering collection of pornography) I have had to struggle along with my digital camera and all of my physical faults. All in all, after a few months I have come to view the whole thing more as a source of entertainment, rather than an alternative to the bars for, if not dates at least some cheap sex. I did meet my FB Flip through the site so it wasn't a complete waste, but it is not the bottomless well of sexual gratification that it has been touted to be.

Having developed a sense of humor about the whole thing, I decided on Black Friday to do a holiday posting, so I put on my Santa hat and a cock ring and posted a picture of myself. I have, it would seem discovered the better mousetrap. I have had more men hitting on my site than even I know what to do with! Now, honesty compels me to admit that most of the hitters are not exactly prize winners. I think it must be the jolly fat man thing, because the vast majority of the hits have been from, well, ample guys. But that seems to be my fate usually anyway. I am a magnet for the overweight. I am not just talking about bears here either. One of these boys profile stated 5'8", 230 lbs. Yikes! There have also been some guys that have been pretty nice looking and at least in chat, don't seem to be suffering from any bizarre psychosis, other than being attracted to men in Santa hats.

For me there are a number of reasons for trying dating sites. I really don't enjoy going to the clubs anymore. Even on nights when I contemplate the virtues of going out, I usually fall asleep before I make it out the door. On the increasingly rare occasions that I do manage to go out, I never spend that much time at the club before I get bored and leave, after having had a couple of very expensive bottles of water. So online dating is the answer. Sort of. I also get bored with that and will go weeks, and during good weather, months without signing onto the site. Usually because, like the bars, I don't enjoy all that much success and if the weather is nice and the days are long, I'd rather spend my time out in my garden.

Which brings us back to silly hats. Have I found the secret to success? Is what has been missing from my life all this time been silly hats? Maybe a whole holiday theme motif for the future. Little wings and a bow and arrow perhaps for Valentine's Day? I'm not sure, but I have New Years and Valentines Day coming up to do further research on my theory. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to write back to a nice young man who wants to sit in Santa's lap.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

later that afternoon

Well, I can say that Daniel Craig is a great Bond. I cannot say that Casino Royale is a great Bond movie. I spent far to much time squirming in my seat wondering if they were just going to get on with it. Don't get me wrong, it was well cast and acted. It was just long. Too long. Still if over the holidays you find yourself with some downtime you could do worse. Just go to the cheap matinee.

On the other hand, I have been playing Robbie Williams album "Rudebox" like a 14 year old. It is rude, funny and you can dance to it. Perfect music for the gym and a nice antidote to the bland offerings on commercial radio.

So, I can honestly say I am starting to wind down. I could get used to this taking time off idea. Think I'll listen to Bongo Bong again, just for the hell of it. Hey, I'm on vacation.

Time off

I am on day 2 (officially, weekends don't count) of some much needed vacation time. So far, so good. Though I do have to admit it is a bit of a struggle to not try and schedule everything. I have managed to have dinner with the niece and niece v.2, who was up from Georgia for a visit. I got to give my FB Flip a rather vigorous send off before his sojourn out to the midwest for family Thanksgiving. I am seriously sore from working out at the gym as well (hyuck, hyuck) having the luxury of taking as much time as I want to exercise.

Right on time I got a shipment from Amazon. Neil Gaiman's "Fragile Things", Barbara Tuchman's "The Zimmerman Telegram", which I had read years ago and loaned out, and never got back and promptly went out of print. It has been reissued and is an exciting read. Tuchman takes the final event that brought the U.S. into WWI and makes it read like a spy thriller. It is exciting and Mrs. Tuchman's asides about major historical figures are very funny. I also got "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" by James Abbot McNeil Whistler. Another loaner that never came home to Poppa. Whistler was a talented essayist as well as painter and I can suggest to anyone who has every wanted to air an opinion to read this book to get an idea of how to do it with style.

I'm headed off to see the new Bond film and then lunch with a my pal Clint. Ah the joy of not having to do anything.

Oh, BTW if you switch over to Blogger Beta, you have to go into settings to allow all comments, it automatically defaults to "members only". WTF is that about? More later.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Home on the range

Okay, this is too good, even if it is at my expense. Our student worker was late and I said something to the effect that as long as she blamed her tardiness on George Bush, I would accept it. This led to me ranting about everything that I find unfair being George Bush's fault. "Yeah, I said, and when I was young, chocolate wasn't fattening, that's George Bush's fault too. Buttermonkey looked up.

"When you were young honey, nothing was fattening. You were wandering the plains."

I'll make a queen outa' that boy yet!

I like Mike

As most of you, who haven't been living under a rock know, Mike Jones is the hooker who blew the grotesque Ted Haggard out the water with his revelations about Haggard the homophobe's meth fueled love fests with said call boy.

What you may not know is that the so called "gay community" or those claiming to represent us, have been offering their loving support by covering the pure guy in little round bruises by touching him with 10 foot poles.

However, one of my favorite bloggers Joe.My.God has set up a paypal account for Mike Jones. The guy is unemployed, probably unemployable for the near future and in legal trouble. I don't care if you agree or disagree with the choices Mr. Jones has made about how he made his living, but if the organizations that are suppose to be working to safeguard the rights of gay people are too tight assed to offer assistance to someone who was willing to put themselves on the line, and expose a hypocrite like Haggard, then I invite you to go to Joe's website and pitch in.

I realize approximately 3 people read this blog, so if you know anyone who you think would like to contribute, email them Joemygod's link.

Thanks,

Tony

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I just can't get tired of saying it...

Donald Rumsfeld resigned....Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned,.... I just can't say it enough, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Sorry, it still hasn't gotten old. My head is going to explode, okay! The only thing that might be even better is that Nancy "San Francisco Liberal" Pelosi will be the speaker of the house. Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, don't mind me, this is just going to go on for the rest of the day.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It's nice to be wrong

I stopped at my usual morning coffee joint this morning to grab a cup of joe, before catching the train. There was a short line, and while I don't like waiting in line any more than anyone else does, it did do my heart some good to see that a Mom & Pop is able to keep up a clientele. In front of me were a couple of student types. They weren't being particularly obnoxious, actually they were seeming fairly human and good natured. They put in their order, ponied up their money and were waiting for order as the girl started flailing around with her purse at the counter. In her wild gyrations trying to balance cell phone, wallet and god knows what else, she managed to send the tip jar on top of the cash register flying, change sailed through the air, tinkling around the floor behind the cash register. They looked at each other in embarrassment and they both started to apologize.

Okay, so I am an old crank. Considering how people behave these days I should have been satisfied by the fact that they at least said sorry. All I could think of was that they should watch what they were doing. The man who works behind the counter is very nice and just shrugged it off, saying not to worry about it. He handed them their order and they went off to cream and sugar their coffees, the guy giving his girlfriend a good natured hard time, and continuing to apologize as they went.

I moved up to give my order, when the couple came jinking back up to the counter, dashed in behind it and began to pick up all the change and put it back in the tip cup. They scrambled around on the floor for a few minutes, while the proprietor was assuring them that "No, really it was fine." But bless their little hearts, they gathered things up, and the young man took the tip jar and but it back on the counter, saying "I think I'd better be the one to put it down." As they headed out, he told the patrons waiting in line that they had to help fill the jar back up, since he was sure some of the money got lost under counter.

So, I was wrong. I'm a big enough man to admit it. There really are some people left who are not entitled to screw up and then excuse themselves, or place the blame elsewhere. It was a small thing, but it was consideration, which no matter how small, is always a big thing. Maybe that is the way we can start to fix the mess we're all in, in this big and bad world. Taking care of the small things, and if we keep it up maybe, after we have got the hang of fixing the small things all the time the big things will start to look do-able.

Slave to the Rythmn

I was talking to an old friend, Rick, who is now living out in Long Beach. Rick has worn any number of hats over the years, among them was spinning records at dance clubs so he is always on the look out for new sources of music. Let's face it most stations are pretty bland these days and the quality of popular music, or at least that which gets air play is pretty disappointing. So I was surprised that he recommended a radio station. So for those of you who stream music, can I recommend KCRW as and alternative to the musical malaise. It really is pretty great. I know it's going to make me sound like an old fart, but the way they program the music is pretty much the way I remember music programing from when I was young. There is no real agenda, it's just the DJ's playing music they like. No play lists! So you might hear Beck, then Nina Simone and then Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. There is never any telling. Dance, electronica, latin, pop. You have to love a station that has a program called Morning Becomes Eclectica. Give it a try and happy listening.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh Mary!

There is always a certain amount of amusement to be had working with people who's first language is not english, especially when it comes to idiom.

One of the faculty members who's French, was in the office this morning and was asking about some repair for his office. He asked if I had heard anything about progress from my project supervisor Mary. I told him that Mary was no longer with the department and so for the forseeable future that he should let me know about any problems and I would take care of it. We discussed his problem, and I assured him I would put in a request with facilities and try and have the repair made in a timely manner.

As he was walking out the door, he said, "So you're Mary now."

The reply came before I had a chance to think about it, "And not for the first time either."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fuller Brush Man

Last night my FB Flip who I have not seen for some time came over for fun and games. It was the first time he had seen me since I have had the rather luxuriant facial growth and he commented that he liked it. The jury has been out as far as I am concerned. It is, well it's white. Grey hair is one thing, white is another and I have to wonder if it makes me look like Santa Claus with a dirty mind. At any rate one thing led to another, and as the British say, "I didn't know where to put my face", so put it everywhere.

Afterwards, Flip was commenting on how soft my beard was when it was down in the southern regions and said something about Fuller brushes.

"So it's a Booty Brush?" I asked.

"Booty Brush? That's not exactly what I was thinking, but I like it."

I think I'll be able to deal with the beard this winter if I keep thinking of it as a Booty brush instead of a Santa beard. Ho ho ho!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Domestica

It was, all in all, a nice weekend. Saturday I spent eating and reading. Sunday I amused myself by forgetting to turn the clock back and cleaning the house. I suppose starting to clean the house sounds like a good idea if you accidentally get up at 4:00 a.m., and you think it's 5. It also is much nicer in theory, but starts to loose some of it's gloss when you realize after getting off to an all too enthusiastic start and only to realize there are some places in your apartment that haven't been ministered to since you moved in.

I am also coming to terms with the idea of having another major purge. You know how it is. You live anywhere long enough, and all of the junk that you remember bringing into the house meets, falls in love and starts reproducing. There is some stuff that I will be willing to swear that I never brought into the house. I have to wonder, does Alice go out on shopping sprees while I am at work, hitting flea markets and bringing home shopworn items of doubtful usefulness, or do my neighbors just break in, and dump all of their unwanted crap in my place because it's closer than the dumpster?

The long and short of it is that I had planned on virtuously spending a day cleaning the house and that would be the end of it. As with all the best layed plans, it has turned into something of a long term project that is going to, in the end I believe, involve my own personal dumpster and possibly a backhoe. How one small man and one large cat can generate so much mess and extraneous garbage I don't know. I would also like to know where all these clothes I am certain I never bought which I am now going to have to take to Goodwill, convert into dustrags or simply throw out, came from. For some reason, most of the stuff I am finding is not lost but loved possessions, but more like finding that homeless drunks or raccoons have taken up residence in my closets and all clothes drawers.

Let this be a lesson to you, housekeeping should consist of giving the place a sweeping glance.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Weather report

It feels like a real October day out, though a little warm. It has been overcast, and rainy and the wind seems to be taking down a few branches. They had predicted the possibility of thunderstorms this afternoon, though those don't seem to be manifesting themselves. Still all in all it is a pleasantly dismal New England day in late October. A perfect day for staying in the house curled up with a book, eating too much fattening food that I will regret, and spend all next week working off in the gym.

That's next week and for now, I am happy just to have an excuse to behave in a slug like manner and hunker down with some tea, a book and too many snacks. Tomorrow is suppose to be sunny and pleasant and will exercise it's siren call with the urgent knowledge that there won't be too many more days that I will really want to spend the day wandering around outside until spring comes and the good weather is back. But just for today it's nice to coccoon.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Update

I really haven't been keeping up with my blogging lately and I have to say it is starting to get on my conscience! So much to write about too! Things at work are going through a shake up, major dental work with more to come, every muscle in my body aching because of the new work out and a topic of special interest, an ingrown pubic hair.

How can I have been neglecting my small but adoring public with so many fascinating topics to bitch about. I am a bad little man. I will just have to get the bit back between my teeth and get writing. Don't give up on me yet, I will make myself sit down and start writing about this, that and the other thing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Weekend

Saturday morning I through sheer force of will dragged myself over to my garden and started getting the autumn cleanup underway. What a mess! I have been avoiding the garden for a few weeks now, and to the casual observer it didn't look all that bad. Lots of black eyed susans and marigolds still defying the cooler temperatures. On closer inspection the weeds had been propigating like white trash, and much creeping vineyness in the form of bindweed and morning glories that seem to have naturalized themselves in the gardens. So, with sinking heart I commandeered an wheelbarrow and started yanking weeds and deadheading perrenials. To my surprise the time actually flew, and before I knew it, it was noon. So off to home for lunch and a disco nap, so that I wouldn't fall asleep during symphony.

The afternoon sort of flew by and before I knew it I was meeting Clint in front of Symphony Hall. Symphony has has a recent face lift and the renovations are very nice. It had the last time I had seen it still looked like some grand lady in reduced circumstances. However with all of the gilding, painting and carpeting no one in the organization, in their infinite wisdom has seen fit to replace the butt deadening seats in the auditorium. As I observed to Clint, this is New England, so you probably can't properly appreciate culture unless you are benumbed behind. The perfomance itself was very enjoyable, Peter Serkin gave a wonderful performance of Brahms Piano Concerto #2 and Levine as usual was up to his high standard conducting both the Brahms and Schumann's Symphony #2. There were no big surprises since both pieces are warhorses, but they are the type of music that regardless of the number of times you have heard them, they are always enjoyable. Afterward it was off to home and my chaste (damnit) bed.

Sunday involved more gardening. I wound up planting about 150 spring bulbs, which will probably end up feeding the neighborhood squirrels over the winter. Regardless, it was good to be up and doing something instead of sinking further into my seasonal funk. Around noon it was time to go home and start making myself beautiful for Warren and get to the theater. The opera was very good. I was impressed by both the singing and the orchestra. I had not been in the Majestic in a long time and they too have been busy bees,renovating and it is quite the grand Victorian chocolate box now. The only sour note in the whole opera came not from the stage but from the chatting, giggling cellophane rattling idiots sitting in back of us. Against all expectation, they were not young. Not even remotely young! After the performance when we were having dinner, Warren told me that last year he had gone to an afternoon series at Symphony and it was all pensioners and that they were the worst audience he had ever encountered. His theory is that they are not so much interested in going out to listen to the music as they are looking forward to some break in their routine.

All in all I have to say it was a very good weekend. I enjoyed the company as much, if not more than the actual events. I think it is all a part of aging, I am finding it all too easy to climb into my own small personal space and not come out and look at the world around me, or make time for friends or activities that occur outside of the bounded space I create for myself. It was good to get outside of my own head and notice that there is indeed a big world out there with a lot of things to see I have not seen before and things to do I haven't done before.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The cost of war

I think like a lot of people, when Pat Tillman died in Iraq I gave the story rather short strift. Even after the revelation that Tillman was the victim of "friendly fire" the media and the Bush administration seemed intent on using this young man's death as a PR opportunity to promote the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Yesterday I came across this story by Kevin Tillman. It asks some serious questions about American policy and what a complaisant public has been willing to tolerate from a questionable government.

I have nothing to add other than to offer my sympathies to the Tillman family.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Rough week

It has been kind of an off week for me. I have not been feeling all that well, involving tummy upsets and "the dire rear". This also meant some lost work time and general feeling sorry for myself and grumpiness.

It has left me feeling a little guilty, because I have been feeling pretty self absorbed and not paying attention to what is going on with my friends. A good example being that my co-worker and friend Buttermonkey is in the middle of home buying hell and I don't feel like I have been as supportive as I should be. God knows he has an equally if not more dreadful family than I do, and they are not being of any help at all. I think if I was buying my own place, my own family would be taking the opportunity to share every home buying horror story they could think of and in general letting me know I was making the biggest mistake of my life up until this date. At least they'd take an interest!

I just need to cheer up. Aside from wondering why the top of my head hasn't caved in, since I am sure I shit my brain out a couple of days ago there are things to be cheerful about. I am going to symphony tomorrow night and I will be going to the opera on Sunday for "la Clemenza di Tito", an opera I have not seen in years, and which I quite like. Both I should add, at the largess of friends, since theater tickets are not in the budget currently.

I should also think about doing some work in my sadly neglected garden this weekend. I have been very lazy about things, and so last weekend went out and bought some spring bulbs. I am trying not to think too hard about the fact that there is a very good chance that all of the tulip bulbs will wind up feeding squirrels over the course of the winter. Not that this is a promising weekend for bulb planting. The weather is still too warm to plant. It is the 20th of October and the temperature is suppose to be up in the 60's! How they hell did this happen?

So, onward an upward. Besides, I get to do some charity work next week. I have a very expensive visit at the dentist and I am sure that will help him pay his mortgage! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that my cavity ridden teeth are in their own small way, making life better for someone.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Avast!

On our Friday coffee break, Buttermonkey, Boyflex and I were joined by the babacious Michele. We went outside so that the sinners could have a nicotine fix, and after we had finished, Michele announced she didn't want to go back. "Let's run away with the circus. We could do it, they're in town." Buttermonkey, who worked for Ringling Bros. once upon a time, vetoed the idea.

I piped up with, "Let's just tell people we were captured by pirates!" This was met with a certain amount of enthusiasm, especially after I added "Yeah, I could say I was abducted by pirates and they did terrible things to me! They didn't want to, but I made them."

Hey, Poppa?

I left the gym a little earlier than usual this morning, and decided to indulge in my 2 remaining vices, caffeine and nicotine. After walking out of my morning spot, I went across Tremont to sit on a bench in the common and watch the garbage and pigeons fly around. It is a beautiful fall morning and the sky is fading from a pale silvery blue in the east to brilliant aquamarine in the west, the air is cold enough that I was wishing that I had put on something warmer than a jeans jacket. As I was just sitting there getting lung cancer on the installment plan, I heard someone saying, "Hey, Poppa?" Looking up, there was a pretty disreputable homeless guy. "Hey, Poppa... could I have a cigarette please?" I looked at this guy who I doubt has seen a shower for quite some time. Where his skin wasn't red, it was blue from the cold. I couldn't tell you how old he was. He had obviously been living rough for quite a while and he could have been 70 or he could have been my age. I pulled out the pack and gave him a smoke. He lit up and thanked me a couple of times, and as he was getting ready to walk away he said, "Nice hat."

I'm not sure why this has struck me so much. Maybe because the way the world is working these days, I like a lot of people am only a paycheck or 2 away from the streets myself. Maybe it was because this guy who hasn't got much of anything else left, has unlike so many who have so much, has managed to keep courtesy.

I read an article yesterday about the McNews culture and how the media keeps us entertained with celebrity news, distracting us with the hijinx of the rich and famous and ignoring real issues that are just too hard to think about. One of the issues sited in the article was the growing population of the homeless in the land of plenty and the growing disparity of wealth. I don't know what it will take to make people realize that unless we do something, make some effort to be a little more selfless, that we too might wind up asking some older guy for a handout because having made bad choices or just because of bad luck we are out on the street, hoping someone will give us a handout, because the society we live in won't give us a hand up.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Few Of My Favorite Things

In an attempt to get myself out of the cranky mood that I have been laboring under for the past few weeks, I have been trying to concentrate on some of the good things that have been making themselves available to me. Among them that Terry Pratchett has a new book out, as well as Neil Gaiman I also recently bought Raul Malo's new album, "You're Only Lonely, which if it is not one of my 5 star choices still gets 4 if not 4 and a half stars. Last but not least, Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome is in print again. If you've never read "Three Men in a Boat" I suggest that you run out and get a copy, and prepare yourself to be embarrassed by laughing out loud, if you are reading it on your commute. There, I feel better already!

I'll have my regular


Everyone has their routines. To the horror of my friends I have my own which involves getting up at an ungodly hour and heading off to the gym before work. I like my gym because it is small and unpretentious. I also like the fact that the early morning crowd tend to be like myself, older and no one is going to win the Mr. Universe contest. Then after an hour and half of self inflicted torture I head off to work. On the way to the train I stop here for a cup of joe. Everyone talks about how much they hate Starbuck's, the Gap and all of the other chains but they all wind up shopping there. I like my new coffee stop because it is a Mom and Pop. I have been going there a couple of months now, and as I walk through the door, the guy behind the counter is already pouring my coffee! It takes me back to when people had their regular places, knew the name of the propriator and the more social types knew the other regular patrons. I doubt my consumer choice is going to start a trend, but it's nice to know that it is still possible to have a regular place that isn't annonymous, and if you are still just a face, at least you are a familiar one.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Couple of Views



I was walking down Mass. Ave yesterday and as I was going past the Christian Science Center, I thought I was having a hallucination. The bells started ringing and I had to stop in my tracks, because against all common sense the carillon was playing "Home On the Range"! Was it one of Mary Baker Eddy's favorites, or is it unbeknownst to the rest of the world a Christian Science hymn?




Then walking home this evening, I was treated to what I think of as "hand of God" skies, where the sun is behind some clouds and the light really does come out in rays. Fortunately, I had my camera for a switch, so here it is folks.

My final slightly odd sighting was a pair of red-tailed hawks, having and aerial quarrel over some critter that one of them had in it's talons. They were swooping and screaming over the park and nearby apartment buildings. It has to be 20 years since I saw the first red-tail that had decided to make the Fenway neighborhood its home, but somehow seeing them just never gets old. Unfortunately, my digital camera isn't good at stopping motion, so you'll just have to take my word for it. It was a sight to see, and after a slightly tough day it did my heart good.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Yo ho ho

I have had a couple of interesting experiences with people commenting on my appearance at work recently.

A couple of weeks ago, Buttermonkey and I were sneaking out for a cigarette and were joined by one of our favorite straight co-workers, Boyflex. As we were walking down the hall I was ahead, and suddenly Boyflex pipes up, “Have you ever noticed that Tony has a really nice ass?” While having some straight guy comment on my moneymaker was a little out of the ordinary, I am willing to take a compliment wherever it comes from these days.

Then a couple of days ago I was chatting with one of our visiting scholars. She had just received an express packet from her school and was a little put out. They were asking her to write a letter of recommendation for someone, and she is on sabbatical and is suppose to be excused from these chores. As we were talking I jokingly told her maybe I could get on a plane and go down to her school and beat up the person responsible. Just as I was saying this, her husband who is also a visiting scholar walked up. He said, “ I hope you don’t mind my saying this, but you look like someone for the job.” I am pretty used to this and said something to the effect that I know that I look like a thug. He looked surprised and said, “ Oh! No. You look like a pirate!”
So, Pirate.

Pirate booty.

Dry spell

I have been in mental limbo recently. My job which I like has been a little funky and my situation there as someone who works on a contract basis as opposed to a regular employee has been causing some concern.

There was also the wedding event, which actually went much smoother than could have been hoped for, though it brought up some issues dating back to my childhood due to a conversation with my older brother which I have been working through. All of these things are worth talking about and more. But I feel as though I am still digesting them. Also, it is autumn in New England which is somehow always a bit melancholy.

However it is time to get back in the saddle and start looking at the absurdity that is life in the world. To help remind me of that I have had yet more bald encounters. I saw a wonderfully bad toupee on the train the other morning, and as a morning for contemplating the chrome domes of the world I saw 2 adds addressing the worries of the follicelarely challenged from 2 different angles. The first, for those who miss their glory days of having a flowing mane was regrow in case you want to give regaining your lost youth the old college try. The second was for baldguyz which is a product I would be much more likely to give a try.

All of this could just mean that I am a little too obsessed with my own gleaming pate, but hey, finally it might be fine to try to be happy with yourself as you are. It doesn't mean that the market place isn't going to try and exploit your new found peace of mind, and sell you products to make you feel even better because you are bald or older or less than the ideal of the moment, but finally there might be some hope that you can get through a day without feeling like you have to make some superficial change to yourself in order to feel like you have a right to be alive.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Photographic proof


I have been neglecting my duties as a diarist. So until I get a chance to chronicle my experiences at the wedding here is a picture of the niece and I. Yes, I wore a suit.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Take me out to the ballgame?

I saw this news item this morning. I guess they've never been over in the Fens during a Red Sox game. All those ball fans out for a little extra entertainment. Gives a whole new meaning to "take me out to the ball game".

Saturday, September 16, 2006

More reflections on bald heads

I was talking with Buttermonkey the other day. We were continuing our convestation about the "bald phenomena". He had been polling friends and they were pretty evenly split between inspirations. Patrick Stewart and Michael Jordan.

Buttermonkey was suggesting that either had a fairly limited audience, but I pointed out that both were real cultural phenomenon. Non Trekkies were in front of the set watching Next Generation, and even a sports ignoramous like myself knows who Michael Jordon is.

Maybe it's both, maybe it is some even stranger curve of cultural consiousness, but whatever the reason, I'm keeping the razor out.

Friday, September 15, 2006

D-Day approaches

I have been relict in my documentation of the upcoming wedding drama and so much has gone on I hardly know where to begin.

Among the generalized stupidity that has been transpiring is the trials of my poor niece. She of the hotel reservations. After throwing a shit fit about the cost of the hotel, her mother decided to go and represent the family at a competing wedding that is happening on the same day. My sister-in-law has chosen to continue to believe that niece v.2 was not invited to the wedding of my younger brothers daughter. Firmly holding onto this belief she is now viewing her oldest daughter as a class traitor for attending the wedding being held in the enemy camp.

The upside is that my older brother freed from the control of his lovely spouse is going to go to the more expensive hotel so that he can avail himself of all that lovely free booze at the reception and get chauffeured back to the hotel in whatever state he manages to get himself into.

The downside is that he offered to let me share the hotel room with him so that I would not be imposing on my younger brother and his wife. Not that being considerate is a bad thing, but proximity to my entire family is a rather questionable enjoyment. He told my mother about this plan, which led to a frantic day of phone calls last Saturday, which went a long way toward running up my cell phone bill. The upshot of all of this was that my mother thought this was a great idea because it would mean uninterrupted access to me whereby she could latch onto me and monopolize my attention for the entire length of my stay.

As I said there is nothing wrong with being considerate, so I called the mother of the bride to see if it would indeed be easier on her and my brother if I stayed at the hotel. I wound up as usual having a nice conversation with my sister-in-law, and got her take on all of the drama that has been transpiring. She had her own twist to add to the situation. It would seem that the happy couple have been married for almost a year now. My brother and his wife it appears were not enlightened about this course of events until last Memorial Day! Once the cat was out of the bag, the happy bride announced she wanted a “real wedding” with all the trimmings. From what I can gather, the bride and groom who were already engaged decided to move things along because the fiancĂ©, who is not an American citizen was having visa problems and they hoped that getting married would make the problems go away. Fat chance with the new immigration laws. Why the bride never told her parents is still something of a mystery, but I congratulated my sister-in-law on her daughter carrying on the Pelletier family’s fine tradition of odd-ball behavior. She just laughed and said that once they had heard their daughter out, my brother just looked at his wife and said, she takes after my side of the family. The final upshot of our conversation was that my brother and his wife were counting on my staying with them and looking forward to a chance to visit, as much as I was looking forward to the opportunity to escape from my mother. Having cleared that up, I apologized to my sister-in-law for being related to her husband and I got off the phone.

Then it was a quick call to my older brother to beg off the invitation to share the hotel room with him and then put in a call to the niece to catch her up on the newest wrinkle in the proceedings. We marveled over the strangeness of the behavior of the bride, and the niece caught me up on my mothers latest wheeze. Mom had decided that my older brother, who lives an hour and a half away from his parents should drive up to my parents house and then drive them all to the wedding.

Now the folks are pretty superannuated and it would be unreasonable to expect them to make the drive themselves, but they have my younger sister who is a good driver living with them. Why the old lady decided that they should all have to travel together or why my brother should be expected to drive half way across the state and add in essence 3 hours to his trip is a logic that is only known to my mother.

Therefore I was very pleased to hear that my brother, who usually knuckles under to my parents told the old lady that he was taking the Miata to the wedding and mom v.2 would have to drive them.

There is more to tell but with the wedding, and some photo documentation to come, I will continue to catch up on as much of the story as I can.