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6 entries from February 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Academy...

Working in advertising, one can get terribly cynical about awards. If you stand still long enough, someone will give you an award. I have more than my share.

On a famous Simpsons episode, local news anchor Kent Brockman takes viewers on a tour of his trophy room. "Twelve Newsies, seven Iron Mikes, four Golden Coifs. And this...this is the most prestigious award ever given by the Del Monte Fruit Company!" he exclaims.

Because I work in a creative profession, many years ago a friend asked me to help judge the Australian Swimming Pool of the Year Award. How should I do this? The administrator reeled off a number of criteria, "Innovation, aesthetic qualities, technical challenge, engineering excellence, novel use of materials. And, of course, expensive doesn't hurt."

So, it challenges me a little to respond to an award which I actually value. One which is a sincere compliment from a treasured and loyal friend. The marvellous Arizaphale at Where did I put that flaming sword? has dropped an E for Excellent Award on me. And said some very kind things, which I don't deserve at all.

I am touched. Thank you, Arizaphale, for the compliment. Love back atcha.

Meme hygiene

Now, the idea is to pass this award along to other blogs which are well-written, regularly posted, and rewarding to read. So it's really a meme. I'll take the opportunity to deal with a couple of other memes while I'm at it.

Memes are like awards. If you stand still long enough, someone will give you one.

I have two with which to dispense. Like a winter flu, most of us have caught them.

  • Nominate five posts that show the eveolution of your blogging style, and tag five people. From Godless on the Wasatch Front.

  • Tell the world seven random facts about you, and tag seven people. Also from Arizaphale.
Seven Random Facts.

Let's deal with the second, first. Hmmm... Difficult to find seven things that are interesting, personal and novel, that I am happy to put out to the universe. My Al-Anon training warns me off inappropriate intimacy. But if your blog is anonymous, it's not really intimate, is it? I guess that's where I'll start.

  1. English-Speaking Al-Anon and ACoA changed my life.
  2. There's alcoholism in my family. My father was a dry drunk, and both of my grandfathers died of cirrhosis.
  3. Both my grandmothers were 14 when they married.
  4. The new shelves in the kitchen are terribly nice
  5. I hate surprises.
  6. I love salami.
  7. I should call my mother. Or maybe I shouldn't.

The evolution of the blog.

Here's more than the required five. They come from my old blog, High Maintenance Hags. It still gets lots of hits. Master Right appears as George in these entries.

I will install these on the sidebar when I have a spare moment. Or maybe even re-post one or two.

Mutating the meme.

Now, these memes have been around the block a few times. So let me mutate it, before passing it on. That's how the 'flu survives, doesn't it?

Herewith: The High School Metaphor Meme.

Every year, high-school English teachers submit the funniest metaphors and similies collected from student essays.

A recent list included:

  • It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

  • He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

  • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

  • He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

  • He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
The list seems to have done the rounds of blogs and humour sites. But I have never found its orginal source. I suspect that somebody just made these up and they became an urban legend.

Now it's time for YOU to get in on the act. Make up three of these, post them, and pass the challenge on to three more people. They add to the list, pass it on, and yada yada yada.

Here are the people to kick it off:
  • Arizaphale and Godless. As payback.
  • Ian in Hamburg. He seems to be doing a lot of blogging about blogging itself, so he's ripe for a meme.
  • Dee in Lexington

The meme and the Excellent Award go to the following three women. They are talented writers who have slowed on their posts. Perhaps this will give them some small encouragement?

Remember, it's an honour, even just to be nominated!

I'm a cheaper drunk than I thought.

The second annual NYC Blarg Hop turned out to be a smashing success. Well, I got smashed, in any case, and did so rather early in the evening. Four beers, and I was a train wreck.

Now, there was a time when four beers were just an appetiser. My working-class bohunk liver metabolised alcohol like a blast furnace eats pig iron.

But with the big five-0 a mere five months away, my liver has stalled. Of course, one could opt for lite beer, but that means the terrorists have won.

You can cram a lot of conversation into those four beers. All of it interesting, witty and smart. Plenty of blogging tips to go around (special thanks to futurejunkie for moo). Warm, wet love to all my fellow bloggers for a great evening, and of course to Joe for being the chief catherd. That is, the guy who tried to herd the cats from one bar to another. Get it? No, I didn't think so.

One thing became abundantly clear last night. Obscure jokes just don't work. About one person in five got the High Maintenance Hags joke. And this, in a room full of gay people. (Several had remembered the cross-section of male genitalia, though. It figures.)

Circle in a square confessed that fag hags didn't play a big role in his gay life. "*They're really just wannabe gay men in women' bodies. And personally, I prefer gay men in men's bodies, don't you?" Can't argue with that.

The charming Curly McDimple played vixen's advocate on a number of subjects. Subject one: she's a lesbian who hates cats. "Dogs, I can understand. You pat them, they love you, you feed them, they love you some more. But cats...you never quite know what they're thinking, except you know it's not nice."

I warmed to the theme. "No matter how well you feed them, cats will hunt just for the sport of it. And bring home the little bird's head to gross out Mommy."

"If a cat comes in the room and starts giving me the ol' stink-eye, I'll ask the owner to remove it," Curly admitted. "And cats...it's all conditional love. Withholding affection is their emotional power trip."

"I think that's why straight women love them so much. They're like boyfriends." Curly's quizzical look led me to believe that point needed further clarification. Perhaps she's a bit hazy onthe whole boyfriend thing. "You know, on one occasion in twenty, he's affectionate. And that only makes the woman more dedicated, and she redoubles ther efforts. The psychological theory of intermittent reinforcement..."

On hearing the words psychological theory spring from my lips, I knew I was drunk. Lucky that the petite dynamo Helen Damnation appeared; splendid to meet the woman behind the flirty message posted earlier.

Curly and Helen billed themselves as co-vaginas for the evening, and both were nicely lubricated at this stage. Helen revealed that Curly's parents were Glaswegian, which unleashed a dam-bust of bastardized Scot-speak. I'll doo yeue, Jemmeh! Which, of course, we thought was funny.

Several embarassing pix were pixellated, which all will disown in years to come, should we decide to run for Congress. It wasn't just the pictures many of us would disown. There was an odd vibe in the room: so many bloggers knew the intimate details of each other's lives, yet guarded their public anonymity with care, lest they be dooced.

One of the bloggers who made the decision to publish under his real name was R.J. Keefe, a splendid, erudite man who describes himself as a purveyor of Civil Pleasures. "I made a policy decision early on. It's so easy to discover the person behind the blog, there's no real point. I'm a retired lawyer, so I know where to be careful."

R.J. and I enjoyed some truly civil chat, in the midst of all the drunken petting and beefy go-go boys. To top off an evening that challenged stereotypes, we spent some time agreeing that the French seemed much less rude lately.

George and I spoke on the phone earler that evening. I told him that I intended to go out on a pub crawl , and he warned me. "Drinking with a bunch of people you've never met? Don't get too drunk. Make a good impression. Remember your dignity."

Thanks to my crash-and-burn liver, I couldn't get too drunk. And in its own way, the 2007 Blarg Hop was a splendidly dignified affair. We were only there to blog about it, anyway. Weren't we?

*All direct quotations are from memory, and therefore, at best, approximate. Plus, I just made shit up. Photo lovingly stolen from Curly McDimple.

Smutty bars. And the butts who smut them.

I was discussing weekend plans with a colleague.

"What do you mean, you're going on a pub crawl with a bunch of bloggers?" she asked. "I thought blogs replaced social life."
"Not necessarily," I corrected her. "In my case, melancholy, ennui, self-absorption, business travel, and curling up in the foetal position amongst the bedclothing for hours on end have replaced social life. But I don't have too many business trips this month, so I can squeeze in a pub crawl."


Of course, my fellow revellers won't be short on self-absorption. It's the JoeMyGod New York bloggers' second annual Blarg Hop; a schmoosh-word that combines blog and bar.


I imagine we're only doing it to blog about it later. Yes, blogs do replace life, but a successful blogger needs to keep a few organic processes going, in order to have something to blog about.


You can tell we're mostly gay bloggers, too. Bars include Dick's Place and The Cock. I haven't seen such a list of suggestively-named bars since I left Japan. And they didn't know what the names meant.


Expect a report on Sunday. Maybe. I could be curled up in the foetal position amongst the bedclothing for a few hours.


As ever, a hat tip to Joe Jervis for organising it.


This fetching shot of The Cock was borrowed from their New York Magazine listing, snapped by Ryan McGinley. As is HMH policy, should the copyright owner of the photo (or that spunky barman) wish for me to remove it, I'm happy to do so.

A dicky little ditty


Walking down
the street one day

I swore I heard

A small voice say,

“Unzip those drawers
Or without a doubt
Your great big balls
Will squeeze me out!”

I was amazed.
I was surprised.
A blabbermouth
Between my thighs?

I told myself,
“Don’t be silly.
It couldn’t be…
...a talking willy?”

I whip him out
To order beer
If I think the barman
Might be queer

My dick will shout:
“Give me a sip!”
But he’ll get his
On the outbound trip.

My dick speaks soft
My dick speaks loud
His forehead wears
A little shroud

Sometimes he’s
Politely flirty
Sometimes he gets
Downright dirty

His ditties are held
In high regard.
A veritable
Phallic Bard

During sex
He might complain.
But I answer with
The same refrain

“Shaddup!” I say
As I plunge in deep
“Fucking's precious
Talk is cheap”

Stumbled onto while drinking: Opera.

The Players Club.
(photo sourced from the
club website)

You know, I've thought of giving up the drink, for all kind of reasons.

To preserve health. To preserve a youthful twinkle in the eye, and a white eyeball on which to display it. To preserve several hours of the next day for productive endeavour. And to preserve some semblance of sanity (I've a family history of alcoholism on both sides, so one has to be careful).

But dammit, life's so much more interesting with a drink in your hand. So, when my old pal Mackintosh arrived in town on a junket last weekend, we went out for a few glasses of preservative.

I know Mack through my number one fag hag, Miss Betty Ford. Now, Betty is a woman of enormous capacity. She can juggle several fags at once. Mack and I are two such lucky homosexuals.

We met at The Players' Club, in Gramercy Park. (The Goddess of Love nominated me as a member, by the way.) This grand institution deserves several bloggings in its own right. But later.

For now, you should know that The Player's hosts all sorts of theatrical events. We stumbled onto a rehearsal for one of them; Voices in Our Heads, the public concert of the VOICExperience Foundation's annual Opera as Drama workshop.

Perfect. Wally, Mack's ex-boyfriend, is a tenor of great force and talent. They met through musical theatre; Wally onstage, Mack admiring from the pit. Though he's long since given up music as a profession, with such a history, Mack was curious to eavesdrop.

Callas...isn't that in Texas?

A kind woman invited us into the auditorium to listen--a great privelege, since it was officially a closed rehearsal.

I'm afraid my reply to this kindness demonstrated some very poor New-Yorking skills. I am utterly inept at picking up a dropped name.

"What a great opportunity! " she said to me, "Sherrill Milnes is artistic director, and one of the world's leading Verdi Baritones. Do you know his work?"

"Cheryl?" I stammered. "I think I dated a Cheryl once, when I was young and confused."

"Um...right. And we have secured the counsel of Fabrizio Meloni."

"Ah...Fabrizio. My mother will buy any novel if he's on the cover."

"No, he's the prominent operatic director. Joan Sutherland selected him for her farewell performance."

"Yes! La Supenda!" I cried, relieved that I could say something which suggested that, at least, I had heard of Joan Sutherland.

"He was able to direct her in the style of Callas. You have heard of Maria Callas? Hahahaha...just joking"

"You're not joking by much." I confessed. I know so little about opera, I thought Nessun Dorma was a Japanese campervan.

Around the Block

Embarassment aside, the short glimpse proved fascinating.

We caught the troupe as it blocked out its piece; that is, the surprisingly complex process of managing actors in the physical space of the stage. Entrances, exits, props--what film people would call continuity. "Now, the alto holds the rose in her left hand, so the tenor needs to escort her downstage withthe right hand."

Milnes' wife, noted soprano Maria Zouves, ably co-ordinated this, while Meloni concentrated on the presentation of the singers' performances. Opera places such physical demands on a singer, that combining it with some form of natural-looking posture becomes difficult.

Meloni showed his mastery of this craft, advising singers on stance and attitude. Where a naturalistic pose wasn't possible, he commanded a vocabulary of stage conventions that would, at the very least, read well to the audience.

I learned a great deal in those few moments of observation. Of course, we were treated to some sublime singing, into the bargain.

Mind you, a few moments of the sublime with the aid of a skinful is my ideal way to enjoy opera. Operatic emotions are so BIG, I just want to hide from them.

There's a reason soap operas aren't called soap plays. Lust. Love. Anger. Jealousy. Betrayal. AAARGH! I need alcohol to fortify myself against my uptight, middle-class fear of reckless passion.

Tunes and tuna

The perfect opera experience for me happened at the Sydney Opera House, in the company of Princess Grace.

I mean, when you visit Sydney, you want to go to a performance in the Opera House so you can say you went to a performance in the Opera House, right? We bought $20 door-rush tickets to the peanut gallery and retired to an excellent nearby sushi bar for some sake and salmon. (This place is so good, even George approved when I took him there later).

Half-sloshed, we missed the curtain and had to wait until intermission to enter. Two German tourists found themselves in the same boat, so we had a few more drinks and enjoyed some jokes told by the usher, an elderly moonlighting comedian. We admired a stunning view of the Harbour Bridge over a cocktail or two.

By the time we took our seats, we were three sheets to the wind.

Twenty bucks worth of opera

We couldn't actually see very much from the peanut gallery, which make sense if you follow the tumultuous story of the Sydney Opera House.

The inside and outside were designed by different architects, so the guts and the skin don't quite fit. The upper balconies offer some seats with limited visibility, of which the management warns you. One can see the singers, but no chance of admiring the scenery.

After about 15 minutes, the Princess turned to me and whispered, "I gotta pee."
"If we go out, we can't come back in again," I replied.

"And your problem with that would be...?" She winked at me, and we bid a hasty exit.

Later, we agreed that $20 for 15 minutes of opera probably added up to decent value for money, at rack rates. I just wish I could remember which opera we failed to see. Nabucco, I think.

Our view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, with strains of Verdi in the distance.

He's no fudgepacker.

Can you believe that the Human Rights Commission and GLAAD have spoken out against this ad?

It's created a huge storm of controversy here in the US. Fucking ridiculous discussion. That's my professional opinion, as an adman. And my personal opinion, as a card-carrying, stakeholding marginalised minority. It actually makes fun of homophobia, rather than perpetrating it.

Having made chocolate commercials in my day, I'm more worried about the 20 Snickers bars the men had to eat on camera to get a decent take. Someone should call PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Actors).

Of course, pulling out your chest hair proves you're straight. A gay guy would have used a depiliatory.