Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Waiting (and waiting, and waiting for Superman)

Caught a 10 p.m. screening of Superman last night. Before I go into that - I checked out PitchforkMedia today and caught a shocker: Sleater-Kinney is apparently breaking up.

I may need to rethink not going to Lollapalooza this year since that may be one of their final performances. I saw them last year in Omaha at Sokol hall and it was one of the most incedinary performances I have ever seen.

While I am sad that they are packing it in, The Woods was one of the best "last" albums from a band...ever. Luscious Jackson's and Luna's last albums were very good, but it was pretty much paint-by-numbers for both bands. Sleater-Kinney blazed a whole new trail with The Woods. As for career ending albums, this ranks up there with Abbey Road (sorry, not going to include Let it Be).

So, I saw Superman Returns last night. The audience clapped when the movie started. But not a single person clapped when the lights went up. At 2 1/2 hours, it was way too long. And like many comic book movies out there right now, Superman Returns tries to do so much. There was no cathartic zing that should come in a movie like this, even in the action scenes.

The writers of movies like X3, Superman Returns and even more under the radar comics like Hellyboy and V is for Vendetta are geeks. They have a desire to make sure their product has an artistic legitimacy since comics, until the past ten years, have basically been dismissed as books for kids and adults going through severe arrested development. Unfortunately, that desire to be 'legit' means having to cram a ton of weighty ideas, post 9/11 references and a strong romantic story (usually a relationship that can never be) in a two-hour movie while including two or three whoop-ass action scenes. We've come a long way since Superman II and Flash Gordon. All of this can basically be traced back to Tim Burton's 1989 Batman, a movie that grows in its influence each passing year.

So, without giving much away, we were treated to about 45-minutes of Clark Kent and Superman making doe-eyes at Lois Lane. While Kevin Spacey did an awesome Lex Luthor, I was nostalgic for the humor of the first two Superman movies (the late 70s/early 80s ones). Margot Kidder brought a sass to Lois Lane that Kate Bosworth is sorely lacking. Still, I gotta admit, I'm not much of a Superman guy. As one of my friends plainly put it: "Superman's a fascist." And while I like some of Batman's tortured psychosis, he is a billionaire who pretty much bought his way into the superhero community: the George W. Bush of superheroes if you will.

I definitely tend to favor Spiderman: a genial geek who comes from a blue collar family that is barely making ends meet - and he is pushed into a situation he has no control over. He didn't ask to become Spiderman.

To credit Quentin Tarantino, I formed a new appreciation of Superman in Kill Bill Vol. 2 when Bill dissected Clark Kent's ego. Superman chose the guise of Clark Kent to fit in with humanity because Clark Kent is how Superman sees the human race: weak and feeble.

Overall, Superman Returns is a good way to spend your Fourth of July weekend. And I'm not criticizing the movie for its lack of action. But there have been far greater movies that have been able to marry drama, big ideas and still give audiences the "wham bam" thrill of a superhero movie (read Spiderman 2 and Batman Begins). Hell, even throw in half of Batman Returns (the parts with Michelle Pfeiffer's sexy as hell turn as Catwoman) to the mix.

Preemptive strike
If Superman Returns is a disappointment, many ignorant folks are going to say it's because director Bryan Singer made the character "gay." After seeing Superman Returns, I can concede that maybe the director has a crush on Superman, but the man of steel is alpha-male hetero to his bones. But even the overextended romantic shots of virtually every part of his body is far from abnormal: Superman (late 70s) and Superman II also featured long, loving shots of the caped crusader.

If the gay fear of Superman smacks of homophobia, it's at least as annoying as some members of the gay community who try to co-opt every single comic character as gay. "Oh, Spiderman's gay", " gay." Funny, since I didn't hear a lot of guys classify the bearish Beast from the X-Men as gay, but were far more willing to imagine hotties Wolverine and Iceman as gay. It's normal to want to project your experiences onto your favorite superheroes, but the relentless insistence of trying to make every comic book character gay is grating. We have a Batgirl. We have a Robin (seriously, look at his outfit and his willingness to accept the name of such a submissive bird name). Give it a rest.

Let some straight characters be straight. That doesn't mean we still can't love 'em.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Something to brighten your day

You would think Rush Limbaugh would have learned his lesson about prescriptions, but apparently not...

And of all things - Vigara.

Who knows how he's going to be able to spin this on his radio show.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Random shots - and the return of 'Preemptive Strikes'

I get my stitches out tomorrow. Not looking forward to that since the nurse said the procedure was something 'she couldn't handle.'

With that - whole lot of randomness in this blog - starting with...

Weimaraner SOS
Heartland Weimaraner rescue recently came in contact with two Weimaraners - both were found under a bridge and both sustained broken legs from a hit and run. The Missouri chapter took these dogs under their care and are now looking for donations to pay for surgery for these 12-week-old puppies. Click the following like to read the full story:

Any donations would be appreciated.

Lazy Summer
With an injured toe that needs to be elevated, I've been a slug recently. And without cable, but a membership to Blockbuster online (chose Blockbuster over NetFlix to take advantage of the two free game rentals a month bonus), there's plenty of stuff to keep my ass on the couch (which is something I'm afraid of). I just started watching the great miniseries The Corner and have a serious jones to rent episodes of Deadwood and the Wire, since I haven't seen either series. Still, I would much rather be biking or running, but while the foot heals, at least these series won't rot your brain, unlike such series as According to Jim or any of the new shows on MTV. Still, you need a little cheese in your diet. Which brings me to...

Hell's Kitchen
It's not a classic trash piece like Paradise Hotel, but for a guilty pleasure, it'll do. Only problem with the contestants is that it looks like only two chefs - tops - are qualified enough to run a restaurant, yet alone a multi-million dollar restaurant. My hope is that Heather wins. I am not in the culinary world, but I know enough people who are. The fact that one contestant was bemoaning that Heather was "barking orders" and whined "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" has absolutely no f**king place in a kitchen.

Finally - it's been awhile since I've done this, but this has popped up a few times the past few weeks...

Preemptive strike
The phrase "Oh my god, I said the funniest thing to ..." or "I said the funniest thing."
First off, you're setting yourself up for failure. If you hear this phrase, you're going to be on the defensive, and nine times out of ten, whatever this person said isn't going to be funny. It may be the writer in me, but for some reason, I can see it when people say "I cooked the best risotto," "I had the best workout last night" or "I made the best martini last night." I don't bat an eye. But when people drop the "I said the funniest thing," bomb, I almost want to put these people on trial in front of a dozen peers and have them decide whether or not what they are about to say IS the funniest thing they have ever heard. Good humor, like good food, doesn't need a lead-in. This social abnormality ranks right up there with people who end each of their sentences with 'LOL.'

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Surgery done

Surgery was a breeze. Except my foot feels like holy hell right now. Can't wait for the stitches get out so I can start biking again.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Lift me up...

I'm watching Sex in the City, sipping some vodka tonics and trying to fall asleep. I will go in for surgery tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. to repair some damage to my foot (ingrown toenail). With this surgery, hopefully I can start running and biking on a regular basis and do another triathalon this year.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't a tad concerned. Since they're removing scar tissue (ok, last thing I will say to gross people out), they're putting me under for the invasive procedure. And while I have every intention of spending the rest of the day recovering with a few books and X-Men Legends on the X-Box, I can't help but think ... people die on the operating table. True, you could die just as easily on the road to work than on an operating table, but just the thought of going to sleep - and never waking up.

It got me thinking about stuff - namely what I would want to play at my funeral. If the funeral was decided by my mom, I would hear crap like "Wind Beneath My Wings" and Elvis Presley's "Amazing Grace." This can't happen.

So, hopefully people will eventually discover this blog and see that at my funeral - I want played...

The Verve - "Bittersweet Symphony"
Johnny Cash - "O, Bury Me Not"
Bob Dylan - "Gates of Eden"
The Rolling Stones - "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
and end on a high note with Neko Case's cover of "This Little Light"

Without sounding too morbid, has anyone else thought what they would want played at their funeral?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pup, Pride and Springsteen

My surrendered pup was adopted this week to a loving family. Mom is a stay-at-home mom. She has four kids. They live in the country. The dad has a job that can afford the luxury of enabling the mom to stay at home, so I'm hopeful. It's painful letting go again, since I was entertaining the idea of losing my lease for that dog, but seriously, a big home and a person who can stay at home all day with the dog is what's best for the dog.

Went to Pride on Friday - and without criticizing the volunteers for doing an awesome job setting everything up and running things smoothly, I got bored quickly and wound up at Brother's nursing a vodka tonic. I guess I'm a geek/punk/quirkyalone before I'm a gay.

Went to see Bruce Springsteen in Des Moines on Saturday. Astounding. You hear that a Bruce Springsteen show is a concertgoing experience like no other. I can say that a Springsteen show surpasses any hype you hear about it. I think the show instantly wedged itself in my top 5 best concerts of all-time.

"Jesus Christ Was an Only Child" - Modest Mouse ***
"Lost in Space" - Aimee Mann ***** (thank you, iPod, for playing this today)
"Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp (live)" - Led Zep *****
"Heroin (live - 1969)" - The Velvet Underground *****
"Ruby Tuesday" - Rolling Stones *** (never been a big fave of mine, plus I hate the restaurant)
"The Ledge" - The Replacements ****
"Bath Water Blues" - The Reverened Horton Heat **
"Part of the Process" - Moorcheeba ****
"Meo Bloonasir" - Sigur Ros **
"Giant Steps (alternative version)" - John Coltrane *****
"Slow Fast Hazel" - Stereolab ***
"The Return of Clyde Smith (skit)" - Ghostface Killah **
"Ken Kaniff" - Eminem ***
"Temporary Like Achilles" - Bob Dylan *****
"Edge of the World" - Faith No More ***
"I Got You (At the End of the Century)" - Wilco *****
"No No No" Yeah Yeah Yeahs ****
"Like Suicide" - Soundgarden ***** (pulverizing ending courtesy of Matt Cameron)
"I Wish" - Stevie Wonder **** (damn you, Will Smith for bastardizing this song)
"Today's the Day" - Aimee Mann ***** (two classic Mann songs from the same album)
"Xylophone" - The Magnetic Fields ****
"Glosoli" - Sigur Ros *****

Friday, June 09, 2006

Something lighter for the weekend

iPod mix was especially lively today...

"Countdown" - John Coltrane *****
"Hollywood Ending" - Sleater Kinney ****
"Halftime" - Nas *****
"Stutter" - Elastica *****
"She's a Knockout" - Social Distortion ***
"Crazy" - Gnarles Barkley ****
"Allure" - DJ Dangermouse ****
"Winter Warz" - Ghostface Killah ***
"Computer Blue" - Prince ***
"Forty Six & 2" - Tool *****
"Fire Island" - Fountains of Wayne ****
"Shooting Star" - Elliott Smith ***
"A Passing Feeling" - Elliott Smith *****
"I'm Sorry I Love You" - The Magnetic Fields ****
"Past the Mission" - Tori Amos ****
"The Cloud Prayer" - A.C. Newman ***
"Early Man" - Mark Sandman *** (down from ****)
"Gasoline Dreams" - Outkast *****
"Southern Rain" - Cowboy Junkies ****
"One Thing" - Luscious Jackson ****
"Arc of Time (Time Code)" - Bright Eyes ***
"Disorder and Disarray" - Rancid ****
"Diggin' a Watery Grave" - Moorcheeba ***
"Short Side of Nothing" - Los Lobos *****
"Bikeage" - Descendents ****
"Crack Music" - Kayne West ****
"Statue of Liberty" - Descendents **
"Not the Red Baron" - Tori Amos ****
"The Black Angel's Death Song" - The Velvet Underground ***
"Nicotine & Gravy" - Beck *****
"Five Magics" - Megadeth ****
"Vanity Fair" - Mr. Bungle ***
"Brenda's Got a Baby" - 2Pac ***** (mad deep)
"The Great Curve" - Talking Heads *****
"I Know You Tried" - Luna ** (proof I'm capable of giving Luna less than ****)
"I Just Wanted To See You So Bad" - Lucinda Williams *****
"Love Ghetto" - Neneh Cherry ***
"Hanger 18" - Megadeth *****
"Rub 'Til it Bleeds" - PJ Harvey *****
"Street Fighting Man" - Rolling Stones *****
"Return of the 'G'" - Outkast *****
"My Wave" - Soundgarden ****
"All Stripped Down" - Tom Waits *****
"Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" - Neil Diamond ****
"Door" - Luscious Jackson * (over before it starts)
"You Are The Sunshine of My Life" - Stevie Wonder ****
"E Mac (interlude)" - Outkast **
"Over the Hills And Far Away (live)" - Led Zeppelin *****

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's a lot like falling down...

Going through a major Whiskeytown phase right now. I listened to "Somebody Remembers The Rose" about six times on Whitey today (the name of my iPod). I'll confess - I'm going through some major withdrawl right now from my surrendered pup, especially since he's been sent back to the rescue group.

The lyrics for "Somebody Remembers The Rose" are as follows...

Somebody remembers the rose
While the other forgets how it grows
Would all the dangers
Would all the dangers of love
Lost to a stranger

Somebody remembers the dress
How it was hand sewn
Beautifully pressed
Would all the dangers
Would all the dangers of love
Lost to a stranger

Honey I’m out of service
For a while
Damaged heart’s been manufactured
And everyday this one never works anyway

Somebody remembers the rose
While the other forgets how it grows
Would all the dangers
Would all the dangers of love
Lost to a stranger

Honey I know you
Baby I know you
Yeah I know you

I so want to rescue him, but I know the situation would be the same. I would definitely risk eviction. The situation doesn't change the fact I currently hold two jobs (even though one's freelance). I know there was a powerful reason I surrendered him. It feels like a relationship - and I feel like the ex-boyfriend.

"Look, I know it wasn't perfect, but just give me a chance..."
"I know I screwed up - here's what I'm going to change - I don't care if I get evicted, just so that I'm with you - "
"It's going to be different"

But with most ex-situations, you know where this would end. So, with a major tug on my heart, I'm not moving in to take him. Just praying some family knows how lucky they would be if they picked him up.

Different topic -
Skipping Pride to see Bruce Springsteen.
See - told yah I was bisexual

Monday, June 05, 2006

Protection of Marriage Amendment

It's funny how some amendments are named in a way that it would appear no rational person would vote against it. Anti-terrorism amendment (Uh...I don't like terrorism so, sure), Medicare reform (suppose it could use some reformin'), anti puppy-killing amendment (absolutely). And protection of marriage. Most experts say this amendment is doomed. Still, it's an election year, and what better way to shore up the conservative vote by publicly stating "them gays shouldn't be allowed to marry."

Protection? What about the millions of straights who are ruining marriage with divorce and spousal abuse?

Anyway - just because it appears that the amendment is DOA, don't be lulled into complacency. Focus on the Family and a ton of other religious groups are rallying listeners to flood your senator's phone lines in favor of this amendment. I think it's every rational person's duty who is against this amendment to follow in suit and call senators who are opposing this ban and voice their support of their senator's actions. Opposing this ban means a mark has been made on the senator's record. That takes some serious balls (or tits, depending on your senator). Social conservatives will have this public record to use against them in the reelection. They are taking a risk by voting against this amendment. We should at least acknowledge their efforts and voice our support. Most businesses or offices make some sort of response to complaint calls (especially massive complaint calls). You can bet your senator is getting floods of intimidating calls for this amendment. It's our responsibility to at least counter these calls with our support.

(and if your senator is voting FOR this amendment, just change some of the language of this blog to fit that argument.)

Here's a list of congressional numbers -

Friday, June 02, 2006

Pride memories

Lots of stuff going on in the month of June for gay rights. My city's Pride falls on the same day Bruce Springsteen plays in Iowa. Sorry, but in this case, the Boss trumps parades and watered-down Bud Light. Still, for all of the activism Bruce Springsteen has done, I feel not one iota of guilt seeing him over volunteering at a booth.

Since I've attended Pride, it's been a lot like prom: A ton of buildup, and then the day after, most people shrug and try to find a highlight, but few have a "..and it ended with us totally having hot sex" story to tell friends. Like prom, it's basically "it was o.k., we danced, made out, got drunk, and that's about it..."

A few Pride memories...
2000 - My car's first road trip. I wound up driving down a gay guy with major self-esteem issues (I know, I'm totally shocked as well). He was pining over this guy who we were meeting. I spent three hours cautiously trying to boost his self esteem. When we got to the hotel, he found that guy - who he wanted to hang out with - drunk in bed with someone he just met at Pride. Dude didn't waste any time meeting new folks at Pride. It was Kansas City pride. While everyone went downtown to the Plaza, the entire scene was too loud, too annoying and the music was utter shite. I wound up seeking out a low-key bar that was playing good jazz and wound up talking with a married couple (straight) for the night. I wound up opting to go home a day early so I could listen to NIN's The Fragile in its full two-hour beauty (the first time I listened to it front to back).

2005 - I volunteered at a booth. I would like to say that I got a ton of digits and charmed the socks off of a 20-something geekboy, but no such luck. After my shift, I wound up opting for X-Men Legends on the X-Box over the disco party at Flixx.

IPod list for the day (ratings included)
"War Within a Breath" - Rage Against The Machine *****
"Narc" - Interpol ***
"Old Soul Song (For the New World Order)" - Bright Eyes ****
"Can it Be All So Simple (Remix)" - Raekwon *****
"Boogie With Stu" - Led Zep *****
"Cesaro Summability" - Tool **
"Here Today" - Beach Boys *****
"The Observer" - The Flaming Lips ****
"Doin' the Cockroach" - Modest Mouse *** (not a favorite Modest Mouse song)
"I'm Waiting For the Man" - Velvet Underground *****
"Hey Julie" - Fountains of Wayne ***** (pop perfection)
"Buddy" - De La Soul ***
"Fu-Gee-La" - The Fugees ****
"Love Dance" - Minutemen ****
"Boys Don't Cry" - The Cure *****
"The Tourist" - Radiohead *****
"Nutmeg" - Ghostface Killah ****
"Asking For It" - Hole *****
"Bathtub" - Mark Sandman ***
"Baby, Please Don't Leave" - Buddy Guy *****
"Come to Me" - Mark Lanegan *****
"Sweet Jane (live)" - The Velvet Underground ***
"Spot Rusherz" - Raekwon ****
"Holy Water" - Soundgarden ****
"Shakey Dog" - Ghostface Killah ***** (iPod lovin' the Wu today)
"Hey Boy Hey Girl" - Chemical Brothers ****
"Ed's Lament" - Cowboy Bebop sndtrk. ****
"Atonement (live)" - Lucinda Williams ****
"Jimmy Jazz" - The Clash ****
"Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" - Bob Dylan *****
"Monty Got a Raw Deal" - R.E.M. *****
"Better Version of Me" - Fiona Apple *****
"Ice Cream" - Raekwon ****
"Not About Love (bootled version of 'Extraordinary Machine') - Fiona Apple ****

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A blow to the male ego

My headlight bulb went out a few days ago. Determined to do this repair myself, I bought the bulb from an auto parts store and popped the hood. Of course, the headlight outage had to be on the left side, which you have to remove the battery, which was caked with cotton candy blue corrosion. I also saw one of the screws that was securing the battery had a few nice shades of rust on it. It was 90 degrees outside, adding to the intimidation when I popped the hood. I scanned the Corolla for any leaks, the dreaded cracked head - nothing. So I started to remove the battery, but the bolt to the rusted screw was practically fused.

I toyed with the other headlight, trying to at least GET the rhythm of replacing the headlight. The bulb was stubbornly embedded. I started to go through the scenarios... what if I break the plastic holding trying to get this damn bulb out?

The guys at Car Talk joke that newer cars have done huge damage to the male ego because even the most rudimentary maintenance requires a mechanic to perform. As a guy, it was hell, closing the hood and resorting to going in at a mechanic shop the next day. Going to a mechanic shop to get a friggin' battery replaced is like painting a red target on you. The grime-coated lions at the mechanic place must see me as a gazelle. Change the battery and come out and say that there's something wrong with the oil pan distributor cap going in to the radiator fluid and I'll need a new set of hoses to solve that problem. That'll be $300.

I remained cool. I said I just needed a bulb. I was going to work on the battery corrosion this weekend. I already bought the part. And thankfully, in 20 minutes, I had a bill of $18.

Being raised by a mother and an older sister, I spent more time in fabric stores and trying to avoid fabric stores by playing video games than under the hood of a car or helping someone install a light fixture. As my mom gets older and she demands more and more from my sister and myself, she bemoans "You're a guy, you're supposed to know this!" when I tell her I can't do siding to the rotted side of her garage. As if your genes are automatically wired to tasks like changing oil, laying drywall and installing a ceiling fan.