Monday, July 31, 2006

Out games

Spouse and I were talking last night and the conversation turned to new territory for us - coming out to our fathers. It's interesting to me (but admittedly perhaps not so for you) that after 13 years of togetherness, we still have uncovered conversation material.

Serge was about 18 and he and his brother went to visit Dad. Dad lived apart from Mom as they had divorced several years prior. Brother, being a rather hyper problem child, tended to dominate all family conversations. Brother had eyes on a new car and was very excited about it but didn't want to boast outright and, because they had just talked about the car on the way over, prodded Serge, "Tell him. You know, go ahead, tell him."

So Serge turned to his father and said, "Okay, papa. I have to tell you I'm gay."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOT THAT!" shrieked brother, additionally incensed that the focus of the conversation had loosed itself from his power. (Incidentally, I was cracking up laughing when he told this part. I don't think his brother was ever really "down" with the homo thing, so it's even more deliciously ironic that he caused the conversation in the first place.)

Father and Serge agreed to discuss it further later, and in the end, father didn't have any trouble adapting to the news.

In my case, I had waited longer to tell my father, largely because it had gone so poorly with my mother. It was quite the surprise for me when he called me up one day and asked point blank, "So how was the pride parade?" (He was fishing with an educated guess here.)

The previous day, I had gone to the gay pride parade in Los Angeles with friends, and immediately understanding the implications of my answer, stammered "Uh, um. It was really fun, actually."

The bag having loosed its feline contents, I learned that father was more wounded over the fact that I had kept it secret from him than the actual news itself. I was so relieved at how "no big deal" it was.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cursory review of birthday, outgames et al

We just had a short power outage and I lost my whole post! How will I ever recreate the genius that was in this window just a short time ago? Guess it wasn't meant to be.

The day started off all adult like and we met with a real estate agent and looked at a couple of investment properties. We came home, got all juiced up about making an offer on one of them, then slowly talked ourselves down, and postponed all decisionmaking until we have a second look around on Wednesday.

Shortly thereafter, Dan showed up bearing gifts.

Then, just for me and my birthday I am sure, a summer cloudburst!

After taking the video, I went into the yard and baptised myself in it. Wonderful cool drops on such a hot humid day, perfection! Spouse and Dan looked on with bemusement. (I suppose it could have been more like derisive mocking, but I prefer to think of them as bemused.)

Friends and family called and emailed birthday wishes throughout the day. Thanks everyone!

Around five, we went down to the village for some pre-show libations. I forgot about the part where everyone buys you drinks on your birthday. Kind of a double edged sword, that.

The streets are full day and night due to the Outgames. It's really quite a sight.


The sky was doing amazing things too.

I've never seen so many of us together in one place. This picture is from outside.

And this is an idea of what it was like inside the stadium.

At the end of the show, we headed back down to the village and landed in a strip club with some friends who continued this strange tradition of buying drinks for someone's birthday. I don't know what they are, but we had several shooters called "upper cuts". They tasted like Kool-aid to me, and I am of the firm belief that they cause severe headaches the following morning.

We complained theat the strippers were too muscular, couldn't dance, or looked like they were on drugs. As if! Hi, welcome to pissy queen land.

Finally, back out onto the street at 1am to find throngs, and I mean monster throngs of people still shifting and merrying in the streets.

And finally, after all that fun, I come home and see an email from Chunks. She sent me 41 ways to say shit, and I can't tell you how touched I was. A total stranger and a random act of love. What better way to say happy birthday. (I'll make the list the first comment.)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gaiety reigning

The Outgames opening ceremony is tonight at the big O. Spouse got tickets for my birthday. I guess they didn't sell enough, so they are giving them away now. Last night, we took a stroll through the village and they have closed the streets for the entire week so that the boys and girls can take over this part of town.

All the bars and restaurants have extended their properties into the street and you can sit and have a meal or a drink and peoplewatch to your heart's content. We spent a couple hours yesterday evening doing just that.

All I did was grin the whole time.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Vacation Snippets

* During a recent flight, we experienced a little turbulence. Normally, I like the turbulence, but in this case it caused me to spray urine all over the bathroom (and stripe my shoes). Lesson learned - sit to pee in a plane.

* I thought it was funny that Bush said Israel overreacted. I wonder what Bush would have done had Canada-harbored-terrorists gone in and kidnapped US soldiers.

* CNN seemed to think that the utterance of the word "shit" by Bush warranted more coverage than the unfolding conflict in the middle east. (Insert bitter "news" remark here.)

* At the entrance to casino restaurants, we appreciated the sanitizer offered at the entrance to clean our hands with (you know, because we're going to EAT). But I thought that this supermarket version was a little overboard. Remember, if we are never exposed to germs, our bodies will not know how to fight them.

* I miss my friends and family and I always feel like my time is too short with them.

* It seems, more than ever before, that Americans are in love with chains. Every niche has been boiled down to 3 or 4 national chains and this makes everyplace look the same. I couldn't tell which airport I was changing planes in because they all feature the exact same mix of commercial enterprises.

* Speaking of chain infatuation. Starbucks is ubiquitous. They are even in the hotels and supermarkets now. Casinos serve it, as do the flight attendants on United.

* We drove by our house in Long Beach that we sold for 215,000 back in 2001. Imagine the wave of nausea we felt when we saw it listed for $695,000.

* Tomorrow marks 41 years since my womb exit.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A computer is only as good as its operator

So this new camera I've got is really amazing. It takes video with really good quality, and poor spouse is getting annoyed at my constant filming. As for pictures, they seem to be pretty good and much, much bigger than the pics my old camera took. So far, I have relied on the camera's "automatic" setting, and as I understand it, the "camera" analyzes the shot and chooses the appropriate setting. There is also a manual mode where you can adjust the aperture setting, f-stop, white balance etc. If I knew what those things were, I might play around with it. There is also a "scene" mode. This must be for the people like me, illiterate in camera speak but wanting to have some say over the camera settings. So in the "scene" mode, you can choose outdoor shot, sunset shot, twilight shot, etcetera, and the camera will adjust the settings accordingly.

Last night, Australia put on their fireworks show as part of the International Fireworks Competition here. What better time to try out the "fireworks" setting on the scene selection mode? As it turned out, Australia put on one of the most moving shows I've seen- perfectly synchronized with the music, and reflecting the mood and color of each piece. From Pinball Wizard to Aquarius the sky was transformed into a huge work of living art.

Truly, I was blown away, and I predict that they will win this year's competition. They were that good.

Naturally, I took loads of pictures using the "fireworks" setting on the camera. Unfortunately, they all came out like this:

I had no idea my hands were so palsy. (adding "tripod" to the list)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

This is a better souvenir

Last week, when we were camping in Big Sur, I decided to take spouse down to Hearst Castle for a tour. I had taken a tour there about 20 years ago and remembered it being mildly interesting. It was then surprising when it turned out that I didn't really remember anything and that it was highly interesting.

There was a tapestry there that was owned by Louis the fifteenth. The guide pointed out that the Louvre had a copy of the piece, and seemed to gloat over how uneasy that must make the French feel. Apparently Hearst was an art collector and there were beautiful sculptures, paintings, tapestries and other antique pieces, many of which are worth over 10 million bucks a piece.

At the end of the tour, we were invited to watch a National Geographic sponsored Imax film about the castle. So first you tour the castle, then watch a film about the castle. It was quite redundant, especially as they tried to hawk the DVD upon exiting the theatre.

I never manage to get out of a tourist trap without being dragged through the "gift shop". I'm putting quotes because I believe it's a misnomer. Selfishness shop would be more accurate. Or Souvenir shop at the very least. I'll bet less than one percent of that crap is bought as gifts. Keychains, photo frames, t-shirts, yo-yos, snow globes, teaspoons, pennants, crap, crap, crap.

I did see some authentic Pick Up Stix, made out of wood even! For a moment, I hazed over with nostalgia, then looked at the price and slammed it down in disgust. 20 bucks for some oversized toothpicks.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Killing the planet, one amenity at a time

Blogger sure is being persnickety. I had a heck of a time trying to leave comments on blogs yesterday. I was successful about a tenth of the time. I'm pretty much caught up on blogs, if you have no comment from me, blame blogger lol. Now, I can't get any pictures uploaded, so I guess I'll have to actually write today's post.

I was appalled again on Air Canada when I saw the disposable headsets being distributed. These headsets are not recycled and most people give them back to the flight attendants at the end of the flight. The flight attendants throw them in the garbage. Thousands upon thousands of headsets hitting the landfills every day. I don't get it, we have no trouble sharing headphones used by others at the music store listening stations. United makes the economy passengers share headphones used by patrons on previous flights. Maybe because they're cheap, or maybe because they care about the Earth. The Air Canada flight attendant explained that it was cheaper to distribute the one-use disposable kind than it was to recycle the headsets.

How can we put a price tag on the health of our planet?

But then I was confronted by something even more unconscionable - mini shampoo bottles in the hotel room. Why, and I mean WHY do we abide this unbelievably wasteful practice? How many billions of these little bottles head for the garbage dump from around the world. (I know they are cute, and I have even squealed with glee to find an array of them on the counter. But no more.) A dispenser in the shower would be far more ecological. (And cheaper for the hotel! Hey they've convinced us to not make them change the sheets each day, why not do away with the little bottles.)

But we, the people, simply love the cute little amenities in the hotel room. We should all be shot.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The case of the missing poopy wipes

It's official, I have fallen in love with wet wipes.

Vegas cuisine, harsh as it is on one's plumbing, coupled with the desert climate make for some serious anal chapping with regular paper. I tend to forget the ass problems of yesteryear which is why Rebekah (in her infinite wisdom) brought a brand new box with her.

In Vegas, we had two rooms that connected. We only needed the one room, but since we had two, we designated the surplus room to be the pooping room. So Rebekah stationed the box of wet wipes on the top of the toilet tank there. It was wonderful, I must say. I learned what it is like to actually anticipate the cool wetness applied to my sphincter. (plus you can get a good feel for the land down there by slightly rubbing. you can't really do that with regular paper.)

Normally, the Vegas dump would consist of trepidation and wincing. But not this time. In love I am, with wet wipes.

On the second day in Vegas, imagine my horror upon entering the pooping room to find the box of wet wipes missing. Panic quickly ensued.

"Rebekah! Where's the wet wipes? Where did you put them?"

"They're on the back of the toilet, aren't they?"

We both frantically looked all over the rooms and bathrooms to no avail. Nothing. Vanished.

We decided that the maid must have accidentally swiped the wipes, thinking they were trash or something. We were aghast with the prospect of facing the bowl unarmed.

It was Rebekah who took action while I sat in the corner looking forlorn.

"Hi, I'm calling because there is a box of wet wipes missing from the room." Rebekah went on to describe the box in full detail while I imagine the housekeeping representative to whom she spoke couldn't stop rolling her eyes. I didn't think prospects were good for getting the wet wipes back so I couldn't even enjoy the humor of the moment.

A half an hour later, while getting ready to go out to the theater, Rebekah found the wet wipes in her suitcase. She was flummoxed as to how they had gotten there. (I, on the other hand, was not flummoxed at all - she had put them there.)

Rebekah called back housekeeping, and as though written for television, the lady answered, "So, did we find something in our room?"

Nonetheless, we were excrementally relieved, yuk yuk yuk.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

California vacation photos

Serge arrived last Friday and we spent the weekend with family, hanging out here at my mom's house and also at the beach. We stayed at a nice hotel that I scored on Priceline.

Oh how I laughed when I opened the drawer in the hotel room. Spouse was confused as to why I was laughing so hard. He still doesn't really get it. (The "spirit" to serve, get it? Isn't Marriot clever?)

We had a good time at the Martini Bar at the hotel. The girl in the background poured us too many and this made for unremembered phototaking the next morning.

Spouse will surely insist that this comes off the blog when he wakes up and sees it.

Then on Monday, we headed up the coast to Big Sur.

(The 405 freeway didn't want us to get there very quickly though. Can I just complain bitterly for a moment about the torture that is driving on that godawful 17 lane monstrocity. I hate it because no matter the day or time, the promise of fast driving was foiled by TOO MANY CARS. In fact, the whole time I was in the states I felt like it was crowded. Everywhere we went, traffic and crowds. That is, until we got up to Big Sur country.)

A short walk up from our campsite.

A short walk down from our campsite. This was the resident Rock God looking over our campground beach. Oh and me in the foreground.

Stunning beauty everywhere.

Grassy hills and forested valleys with sharp cliffs meet the Pacific Ocean. I thought spouse looked cute in this one.

A nice one of us together.

Em knitted us scarves, and we modeled them for her.

Finally, our group photo from the trip. I think we all had great fun.

There are loads more pics, and lots of snippets in the journal so I'll delve into some of that this week. I missed everyone in blogland and will try to get caught up on blogs over the next few days.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I just got home

And this is what I had to claim at customs in addition to the fabulous new camera.

More to come....

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Almost half way through the trip

Hi there. I am alive and well. Vegas was a blast, I lost much less than I had planned, and Rebekah won buttloads of cash. We stayed an extra day even. The casino loved us and comped us all kinds of food and of course the rooms were free. Plus we got rush tickets for Mama Mia (or is it mamma?) which is a show I've been wanting to see. We were a hair's breadth away from splurging on Elton John tickets, but in the end Pai Gow was the bigger draw.

My new favorite game - Pai Gow poker. Pai gow is when you don't even have a pair your hand is so bad. I'm using it as a curse word now.

I've hardly taken any pics. But it is my mission to take some soon.

What else?

I have topics bouncing around in my head, but nothing has come to fruition yet in the journal.

I'll just leave this for the moment. I've been thinking about the research that's being done into homosexuality. Some very interesting things are emerging pointing to events in the womb; that perhaps the mother chemically feminizes or masculinizes the brain.

Anyway, what I was thinking was, why all the research on the subject? Is the end goal to eradicate homosexuality? If they discover that it is a trait that can be identified pre-birth, would they start testing for it? Would it be something humanity is interested in eradicating?

Frankly this scares me, because I think the answer to that last question is YES.

Talk amongst yourselves, and at the very least, I shall return on the 22nd. Perhaps I'll post a mini update on Sunday though too, we'll see.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I'll check in in a week or so

Thanks for all the well wishing. I adore you all.

As a farewell token, I'm going to leave you with my rendition of "The Aristocrats" (which is not worksafe for the audio, vilest joke on the planet as it is)


Thursday, July 06, 2006


* The farther you travel from home, the more likely you are wealthier than the local constituency.

* It's true, suitcases shrink when you travel. Maybe they are related to time?

* More money is always spent than what has been budgeted.

* Unless you're trekking in Nepal or Africa or some such place, your bank card is all you need.

* The pictures in your mind are always better than the ones in your hand.

* The same fun can be had, be it 100 miles, 1000 miles or 10000 miles away. That's because vacation is, more than anything, a state of mind.

* Sometimes vacation doesn't lend itself to relaxation. That's okay. Go with it.

* The after vacation glow-slash-sadness is one of the greatest things in life. The definition of bittersweet.

* In England, they call it "holiday".

* Permanent vacation is oxymoronic. Like the first throes of passion and falling in love, the intense feelings of pleasure become, by and by, tempered and flattened.

* You can sometimes get a little burst of "vacationitis" by visiting your workplace on your day off.

* Vacation can induce debauchery. Let it!

* Vacations are also memories to be jumped into again and again:

* The smell of tortillas being made in an open air market of Toluca, Mexico. The roast suckling pig turning on its spit in the window of a Toledo Spain restaurant (the baby head and eyes staring at you). The gyrations of the bartender in Hong Kong as he poured the house special into the waiting mouth of a girl spread out atop the bar (this done from his pants in an oh so thinly veiled recreation of ejaculation - and this to a crowd of screaming westerners).

* The snow crab in Gaspé, the date shakes of Indio, the baguette bought in a village shop in northern France (don't ask me which village, there are a bazillion).

* Tours of Hoover Dam, Heineken factory, the palace of Versailles, Havasupai, the Carlsbad Caverns.

* My body covered by bug bites at Lake Havasu, my brother throwing up in the lobby of a fine Spanish hotel, breaking down in the middle of the desert, the threat of jail while enjoying libations in an Ensenada tavern. (Even disasters provide golden memories.)

* Only one day left and I'm outta here!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Stream of conciousnessing

The flow of time they tell me, is constant. Unchanging and unflinching like the gaze of God himself, time carries us through life. But my how the perception of time changes. When you are young, time passes excruciatingly slowly and an afternoon sometimes takes a week to get through. Conversely, as you get older and the quantity of time you (ostensibly) have here diminishes, the more quickly it slips through your fingers. A kind of cruel cosmic irony, that.

Time leaves its mark everywhere: on your face, on the map, in the shops and even in the garden.

One nice thing about getting older is the increased instances of nostalgia. This is similar to wistful memories of camp when you were young. But this is not true nostalgia. No, nostalgia is sweet and rich like a chocolate covered cherry.

My first car got 6 miles to the gallon. Of course gas was only 29 cents a gallon.

Children all over the world were sent outside to play. WITHOUT SUNSCREEN. Yes, sunscreen didn't even exist as a word. If you wanted to block the sun (because you had mangled your nose and lips by repeatedly frying them in the sun) you would use a white ointment called zinc oxide.

If someone said bottled water, you thought Sparkletts.

I remember the first soda I had in a plastic bottle. I was suspect about drinking carbonation from plastic. Prior to that, soda only came in glass or cans. And the cans had a tab that you pulled off and discarded prior to drinking. They were a constant source of cuts to the hands and feet.

Amyl nitrate was sold behind the bar.

What would life be like without remote controls, computers, cell phones, Cd's, airbags, porcelain veneers, liposuction, the space shuttle and rap music? You know what, it wasn't half bad.

Now I sound really old.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I forgot about Rapture

Let's just assume for a moment that the Aztecs and Mayans were right in that there was no use for a calendar after 2012. According to them, this age comes to an end on the winter solstice of that year. Chillingly, the Aztec calendar also predicted the arrival of of a "white god" on the exact date that Cortéz arrived - many believe that this explains why they didn't put up a fight even though they vastly outnumbered Cortéz's men. The Mayans specifically point to the date 12/21/2012 as when this age ends. Finito. Nada mas. Kablooie.

It certainly seems plausible what with the looming possibility and even statistical PROBABILITY of nuclear war, global warming, bird flu and asteroids. All of these things could end the world as we know it.


What do I want to get done?

All I can come up with is "less work, more play".

Even if the Aztecs and Mayans are wrong, it doesn't seem like such a bad life mentality.


Happy fourth of July to all my blood down south! Have fun and eat a hot dog for me!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Giddy pre vacation itis

Gosh summer just makes me want to flake on all my responsibilities, rip off all my clothes and run wild in the fields and rivers and mountains and beaches. It looks like this wish is going to be coming true. This weekend, I embark on my annual tour de l'ouest, visiting family and friends in California for two weeks. It will be another whirlwind visit and my calendar is full day and night with various engagements. Three days in Vegas and 4 days camping in Big Sur figure into the agenda.

What's more is that I have my new camera waiting for me. I decided to go ahead and get this one and had it shipped to California. So this is the last week with my trusty Olympus 1.3 megapixel camera from 1998. Here are a few pics I took yesterday at the Botanical garden. (I've already gone thrice!)

This is not a new hairdo. Spouse said, "hey your hair looks good that way" the other day when I got out of the shower. So I left it. This is post bikeride to the garden.

We toured the greenhouses. I am in love with the orchid house, and tropical garden.

There are several bonsai gardens and exhibits. Bonsai rate high on my cool meter.


I'm a little distracted this week due to the upcoming vacation. In fact, sometimes the anticipation ends up being a better time than the actual vacation. (Well, not if I win ten grand in Vegas.)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Jazzfest weekend

The Montreal Jazz Festival is unlike any other. The greatest part is that most of the concerts are free and play continuously from noon to midnight. A sizable chunk of the downtown core is closed off and 7 outdoor stages are erected. In the evenings there are three or four concerts going on at once at any given time. Plus there are street performers a-plenty. Of course there is lots of food and booze and trinkets to buy if you are so inclined.

Here is Serge near a very tall man.

This is in the crowd during the day. (spouse is making his goofy face just out of frame) At night it is ten times more crowded. We went back to see the Brazilian singer I wanted to see in the evening, but I got too claustrophobic and had to flee from the crowd. If there is one thing they need to do better, it's crowd control. (It started to rain, and the umbrellas went up and people started moving and you couldn't have any individual choice of direction, I felt like flotsam on the water.)

And this festival goes on for 10 days! It's one of the greatest perks of living here. There is no other jazz festival like it, and if you've never been to Montreal, the first week of July is a great time to plan visiting.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cultural Oddity

Today is July first. For many Canadians, this is a day to demonstrate gratitude for the country and to honor it with parades, barbeques and beer drinking. Pretty much like the 4th in the states. But for the French Canadians, this day has a very different meaning.

It's moving day.

You see, here in Quebec, flags are flown and heritages are honored on June 24th. That is when the Quebecers wave their flags, have their barbeques and drink their beer. July 1st is moving day here and up and down the streets in every neighborhood in town, you will see people moving out of and into apartments. It's a huge choreography that began a week ago.

For the last week, as everyone who is moving this year readied their belongings, scavenging has been quite lucrative for the second hand store men crawling the alleys. I used to go out and bring things home (a down jacket! a chest of drawers! a perfectly good pair of leather shoes! a mirror!) but spouse now forbids it. For him, if it has been thrown out by someone else, there's some kind of stink on it that can never be gotten off. It is amazing to me the things that people will throw out that are perfectly re-sellable.

The reason that today is moving day is that the government issued rental agreements are standardized for one year beginning July 1st. Rent control is very strong here and although one can move in or out of a place at any time, the lease always is prorated to July 1st and then renewed annually.

Moving companies charge ridiculous hourly amounts for the trucks today. Some companies burst into existence for just this week and vanish just as quickly, pocketing, I imagine, tidy sums.

You can envision the logistical nightmare this is. Driving is impossible as moving trucks clog residential streets. Moving out and in is all done this day with all the apartments changing hands. Cleaning must be done in between and everyone has to hurry because the people and trucks are booked somewhere else after you.

Quite bizarre, wouldn't you agree?

We don't have to deal with any of that this year. Our renters are staying as are we. The Jazz Festival has begun and there are some good things playing tonight. They've also closed down the village for an art festival. I like it for the people watching. I'll try to get some pics.