Sunday, January 30, 2005

Priceless

Photoshop software: $649

Image server: $25

Exchanging sexy, furtive glances with Brian Urlacher: ...Priceless

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Detour

If Brian and I were on The Amazing Race, I would have to be the navigator and he, the driver.

This is because I’m too jumpy a driver and apt to make rash decisions. Once, while I was driving, he suddenly yelled “Turn left!” and I ended up moving in with him.

I am generally not a big fan of reality shows because I hate all the fake drama. I mean, what’s so real about seven strangers lounging in jacuzzis, rec rooms and each others’ tonsils? It’s about time they throw in some real issues, like death and taxes. Or a grenade.

And I hate the subtle humiliation that America's Next Top Model or American Idol dishes. These shows are supposedly giving constructive criticism based on some so-called industry standard. Oh, come on. Let’s have some reality TV with some honesty you know, like outright humiliation. In fact, let’s call the show “Humiliation.”

But I love The Amazing Race.

The only problem I have with this show (and others) is that they tend to cast what I call the “slash models.” I’m sick of the couples who are Christians/models/dating or Models/College roommates or Raving/Psycho/models who are constantly telling us how perfect they are for each other, and how when the show is over, they are going to get married and vomit happily ever after.

This is probably because the stupid-head network executives think that we can relate more to these people like the way Melissa Rivers is related to the plastic body that used to be Joan Rivers, which is to say, not at all.

In fact, the teams I rooted for were like the father/daughter team Gus and Hera and the dim-witted, married pro-wrestlers Lori and Bolo. And I was really on the edge of my seat when sixty-nine year-old Don was pushing gigantic bales hay for the Roadblock challenge. I was really worried that he was gonna have a heart attack before the popcorn was ready.

TiVo, with its ability to pause live TV makes this show more interesting for us.

When the Detour or Roadblock is announced, we pause the show and make a decision on what we, as a potential team will do before we see what the tasks really are like. It’s just like being there except that i'm in my pajamas and having a grilled teriyaki chicken sandwich.

A Detour is a choice between two sets of tasks, each with its own pros and cons. One is usually harder and may involve using physical strength, but is pretty straight-forward. The other is usually an easy task but may take a potentially long time.

An example of the tasks could be a choice between “Gay” or “Straight.”

In “Straight,” couples will go to a straight bar and try find a woman who will have a three-way with you. It may take longer, but once you find the right person, the only thing you have to worry about is that when you wake up, your husband may be missing.

In “Gay,” the teams will go into a gay bar, try to find a gay man who will have a three-way with you. It may be significantly easier to do, but when you wake up, your priceless collection of Limogés china may be missing.

Then there’s the Roadblock, which is a task that only one of the couple can perform, you know like, the laundry or oral sex.

On our way back from San Francisco, Brian and I had an Amazing Race moment.

We used miles to buy our plane tickets, so we could not get a direct flight back to Chicago. We had a layover in Salt Lake City that would have added 3 hours to our trip. I was afraid the Mormons would make us marry the Osmond Family.

At the airport, we saw that there was a direct flight back to Chicago leaving in 20 minutes. We could try to exchange our tickets.

As I ran towards the counter, I yelled over my shoulder to Brian to hurry up while he carried all our heavy, emotional baggage.

The plane was fully booked. We asked to be put on standby and ran to the gate, arriving just as they announced final boarding. I felt like this was the event I have been training for all my life on the treadmill.

Wordlessly, I turned in our standby tickets. I held my breath as the guy checked his computer. Then he printed our boarding passes. We were on our way home.

In my mind, I ran through the list of things that the producers of the show will probably want from prospective contestants.

Interracial couple: check.
Controversial views: check.
Annoying, loud and shrill voices: check.
Tendency to argue over inconsequential things: check.
Ability to ignore festering issues in our relationship: check.

I think we’re ready.

-----
Other posts about this trip to San Francisco:


Part 1: Wedding Party

Part 2: Boystown USA


Part 3: A Haunting

Part 4: Detour

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Monday, January 17, 2005

Nice and Easy

You should be glad that you are not gay. Being gay is tough. It’s a never-ending game of one-upmanship with the queens down the street: who has the nicer house, the better wardrobe, the more glamorous crystal meth overdoses.

I agree with people that say that homosexuality is an evolutionary dead end. I mean, straight men have evolved away from such frivolity as fashion and grooming. If we gays applied our energies to more practical pursuits in the hard sciences, maybe Christopher Lowell would already be a Nobel Prize winner in Home Economics and Culinary Physics. We could turn towards spirituality by meditating on the glitter forever stuck inside our navels.

Like this weekend, I felt like I wasted so much time and effort coloring my hair black to hide the gray. I mean, in a dark, smoky bar, nobody notices anyway—well, at least not until 2am. And at 2am, gray isn’t gray, it is ‘distinguished’ or whatever our inebriated minds will use as an excuse to sleep with someone.

Anyway, the only people who can really see my gray hair are those people at work, and I really couldn’t give a damn about them unless they brought Krispy Kremes to share, then I am Mr. Chatty and Friendly. Most of the time, I just stick to myself, not revealing any personal details about myself because otherwise I might be accused of rubbing my gayness into peoples’ faces. Homophobes really can’t stand it when gay people talk about their latest decoupage project.

I usually use Clairol’s Nice and Easy #122 or Natural Black, the thirtysomething Asian’s best friend. I went blonde one summer in a fit of gay midlife crisis which strikes every homo at ripe old age of twenty-five. I thought it made me look exactly like blond Colin Farrell in “Alexander” if he were Asian and went to circuit parties.

Of course they didn’t have circuit parties in the 310 B.C. It would take so long to travel from city to city by horseback, that by the time you get there, you’d be over thirty and centurion bouncer won’t let you in the door.

And a “White Party” would be impossible, although a “Dusty and Grimy Party” would probably be a hit.

However, one would not have to worry about one’s toga in the long journey, it will still be fashionable as long as it is asphyxiation-inducing. Circuit parties are not known for fashion innovation anyway; everyone goes shirtless as soon as they walk in--clothes just gets in the way of showing off muscles. Investing in servants to pan for gold is probably more apt, body glitter would still be de rigeur.

After I applied the black gooey gel to my hair, I set the egg timer which I normally use to boil an egg. My scalp sure felt like boiling an egg.

I used some baby oil to prevent staining my ears and forehead. I am not sure why it is called “baby oil,” probably because it is supposed to be gentle. I can’t wait for Nair to create a gentle version of their product--it really burns my crotch when I use it. However, I don’t imagine they will be calling this product “baby depilatory.”

A black scalp is a side effect. It stays like that for a few days; when you scratch your head, the dye gets lodged under your nails making it look like dirt, which I think makes me look butch, like I’ve done manual labor like a construction worker, a farm hand or a manicurist.

For a few weeks anyway, I look maybe five years younger. Or maybe I’m just fooling myself.

Aging is an accelerated process for gay men. In a couple of years, I’ll be looking at gay retirement homes which I hear now have many amenities that appeal to the gay sensibility: luxe décor, haute diet-restricted cuisine, lowered glory holes.

I just don’t want to end up a sixty year-old with a balding head of jet black hair. I don’t want to end up a sixty year-old period.

But then again, I didn’t really think about being on this side of thirty either. I don’t know if anyone ever does.

I don’t think ‘old’ is something you grow into.

I think ‘old’ is a four-car pile-up that happens to you while driving on the freeway of youth, singing your favorite song at the top of your lungs.

-----
Is a circuit party a party for electricians? No.
Play with Homestarrunner's hair
Wanna get rid of hair? Get advice here.
You need a depilator for this (NWS)
A 'baby version' of your product is not needed here
Try on a new hair color virtually
Bleached blonde and Asian

When I googled "Blonde Asian," this was the only site out of hundreds that wasn't porn. So to all you asians out there thinking of going blonde, people will assume you're either in porn or this guy. Think about it.

More about decoupage
They would've gone to the White Party
Got something political to say - the Freeway Blogger
Make your own Freeway Sign
Gay retirement homes
Final Acres - a retirement home for the loved ones you don't want back

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Stays Together

click here for the REAL family dinner

I don’t remember the last time I bawled my eyes out while in the process of eating dinner. Consuming food and crying is a very odd, incongruous feeling, sorta like going on a date and paying for it.

Brian and I were watching a re-run of an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition we had recorded on TiVo while we were having dinner last night, which is the time we usually catch up on TV.

When I was growing up, one of my dad’s rules was that when we were having a meal, we could not watch TV. I guess my dad thought that with no distractions, we would all be chattering away, talking about our day, what we did at school, having a gay ole time.

Maybe this would be the case if my dad was not the type who would take an innocent remark and blow it out of proportion. He could take a discussion on why you hate broccoli and turn into a lecture on how this would ruin your life, make you homeless and eat out of garbage cans. I can’t imagine what would happen if we talked about sex or drugs.

Because of this, dinner was mostly a silent affair interrupted only by the sound of clacking of silverware on plates, the occasional squeak of the lazy susan and the shuffling of feet as we excused ourselves from the dinner table.

Nobody lingered at the dinner table. We ate quickly, efficiently and then escaped as fast as we could, back into our rooms, back into our own partitioned lives.

I still eat my food today as if I only had five minutes left before the fuse runs out and the bomb detonates.

Maybe this was what my dad wanted all along. Maybe he wanted us to be silent so he can imagine us to be the perfect family: respectful, well-behaved, happy.

After I moved out and lived on my own, I ate dinner in front of the TV every night.

Despite my gruff, tough exterior, inside, I am a mass of soft, wet tissues ready to cry at any hint of cinematic tragedy, no matter how cheesy or clichéd.

I found myself tearing up when Hilary Duff’s father died in a freak earthquake and had to bus tables at her wicked stepmother’s diner in the movie A Cinderella Story. So you can imagine what a mess I was watching the scene in Steel Magnolias where Sally Field, after burying her beloved daughter in the cemetery, was hysterical with grief asking why her daughter had to die: Shaaalby! why did my Shaaaalby have to be taken before her time? Boo hoo hoo... I had to rewind the scene a few more times so I could cry some more.

The episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition we were watching was a re-run of the Vardan Family, a family of four, with two deaf parents and two young teens. Fourteen year-old son Stefan, the ‘normal’ one, is basically the family’s conduit to the hearing world. Stefan wrote to the show to ask them to help build a safer home for his younger brother, Lance, 12, who is both blind and autistic.

Normally, in this show, when a room is presented to a family member, they jump up and down and scream and cry. I may tear up a bit, but that’s it. The family is getting a brand new house, new furniture, possibly scholarships—it’s like winning the lotto. So while I am glad for their good fortune, I’d rather save my tears for somebody else more deserving, someone whose life is really going to change, like maybe someone who’s getting a boob job.

But in this episode, the deaf parents could only wordlessly sign their gratitude, a furious flurry of fingers, or trying to form a simulacrum of words which sounded like someone swallowing each word or the Wookiee language, depending on whether you were a nerd or not.

When the EM team presented Lance's room, the father speechlessly tried to describe the room to blind Lance by signing into his son's hand. Then, shedding tears that would have swept away a small village, he thanked the EM team as he held his son, who was rocking back and forth in his arms, “hhenk yoo, hhenk yoo ho muhh...”

That was when I really lost it. I sobbed uncontrollably as I ate my grilled chicken, marinated in a mesquite barbecue sauce. I looked over at Brian, who was wiping his wet face with his t-shirt, a piece of spinach stuck in his front teeth.

I thought of my own stoic father and I wondered, if a family that eats and cries together is a family that stays together...

-----

buy the book here"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon is a book about an autistic kid that I really enjoyed. Check it out.

Crying While Eating
Virtual Makeover Solutions
Memorable quotes from Steel Magnolias
Learn to communicate with the hearing impaired: a basic dictionary of ASL

Love Wookiees? The Star Wars Ultimate Guide
John Kerry & George Bush in a Galactic Star Wars debate
Trailer for Star Wars III: Rise of the Empire done entirely in Lego
Star War tattoos, including our favorite Wookiee, Chewbacca

Win your own TiVo here!

Monday, January 03, 2005

...and a 'happy new year'

My dad and I don't talk on the phone; we grunt, we hem and haw. It is a contest to see who would be the first to make up an excuse to hang up. We don't have conversations, we have a series of non sequiturs. When we sit together, the room is too big/not big enough, our lungs in a tug-of-war over the air we breathe. I cannot relax in his presence because he is there.

Also, because he's a serial farter, but that's beside the point.

I think that being comfortable with someone means that you don't have to think about the other person, you can just be. It's kinda ironic that all the effort you spend to get to know someone is so that you can get to a point where you are comfortable enough to ignore each other completely.

I remember when Brian and I first started dating, we would spend hours just talking on the phone about growing up, our first crushes, where my right hand was at that minute. We had long conversations on what movies we've seen and what books we've read. I remember once Brian told me he loved Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. I excitedly said that I loved it too. Then after I hung up, I ran out to buy the book so I can finish reading it by our next date.

All my dad's friends would probably say what a great father he is. I remember many times when we visited relatives or friends of his with small children, how playful he was with them. He would chase them around, tickle them, make goofy faces or noises. The children's laughs would fill the air, their parents beaming. I do not remember him doing this with us at all. I do not remember one single instance of him tickling me.

Opposing counsel would probably stand up in court and point out that my father did not finish college, married my mother at age 22 and had three children within two years. Counsel would approach the jury and tell of the long, hard hours my father spent driving a taxi cab so that he can bring home enough money to pay the rent on the tiny two rooms we lived in and feed three squalling babies.

Later, after a fourth child--a little girl, my sister--he had scraped up enough money to start his own business. His own father and brother, already prosperous and wealthy, were miserly with their help.

My mother told us of the time when my uncle, my father's brother, broke into my father’s office and took back the calculator he lent my father. Calculators were expensive back then. My father had borrowed it from my uncle because he could not afford it himself and needed it support his business. My mother then sat all of us down and told us a brother should always take care of a brother.

(I heard those words mother, and took them to heart; my brothers are my lifeline)

Years later, when my father had built up his business, I was already a sullen teen. He had missed the playful years of our childhood. We had moved to a bigger house, the four children installed in our own spacious bedrooms--but we had locked the doors tightly against him.

It was nothing he did, or maybe the nothing he did, that we teens rebelled against, I don't know. I don't the 'why' of things I did then, and they are unknowable now. Those were just years of roiling emotions only becalming twenty years later. I don't know if I had been tickled but once in those early childhood years whether things would have been different.

When I called him yesterday to wish him a 'happy new year,' you'd have thought that by his surprise that he forgot that he had two other sons who are living in Chicago. It was like he didn't expect that his son would call him up just for a quick hello.

Moving away from home has given me the opportunity to reconsider our strained relationship. The distance between us, these miles numbering in thousands, has helped me come to terms with my feelings, my past.

And much as I hate the Hallmark holidays--the commercialization of sentiment and the wholesale cultivation of guilt--I am glad that I can use it as an excuse to give my father a call, even if it is only to attempt to communicate my respect and love through the grunts, the hem and haws that is our only language now.