Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hogwarts professor

I spent two days in a row on the Hogwarts Express with Lori on Tuesday and both her and Polina on Wednesday. Tuesday I came into the city and met up with Polina at the Macy's Herald Square, where she needed to exchange some shoes. As a result of her ongoing wardrobe overhaul, she showed me some of the clothes she purchased earlier in the week with her sister. Afterwards, we had a bite to eat at a deli and then she caught an express bus back to Staten Island, while I continued to Lori's office to meet up with her so we could go to a lecture at the New York Public Library.

The lecture was titled "Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures" by John Granger, author of the book with the same title, and most recently The Deathly Hallows Lectures: The Hogwarts Professor Explains the Final Harry Potter Adventure.


The lecture was quite good, and of course, to a very involved and interested audience. Mr. Granger explained how J.K. Rowling borrows from many of the greatest works of English and world literature, most notably Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Dante's Inferno, as well as several different established literary genres, such as gothic romance, mystery, and English schoolboy fiction. He also confirmed that he is not actually a relative of Hermoine Granger's, as some people have asked him.

As longtime blog readers know, I'm relatively new to the Harry Potter phenomenon, having read all seven books for the first time in 2008 (since the Twilight Saga was done and I needed more stuff to read, so my family got me the box set of hardcovers for my last birthday - "Birthday gifts" - July 16, 2008). But even to a Potter newbie like me, the talk was very interesting, and will certainly enrich my future reading of the books.


After the talk, he signed books and Lori bought a copy of Harry Potter's Bookshelf. I said hello with her, and Mr. Granger explained why he was making a lot of eye contact with me, because he was using my reactions as an audience barometer of sorts. When I smiled and looked interested, he would take that as a cue to continue on that topic, and when I looked bored, he would move on. I was wondering throughout the presentation why he was looking at me so intently.

On Wednesday I had a very nice interview at a boutique (read "small") PR agency near Grand Central Station in the city. I met with the president and chief operating officer, and we seemed to hit it off very well. He even indicated which office I'd be sitting in if I were hired (which unfortunately doesn't seem to have a window that I noticed) but of course, this is dependent on them getting some new business in the door. The gratifying part for me was that he had called one of my former senior colleagues at Agent K and they had spoken highly of me, which is always nice to hear.

After the interview I went down to Union Square in the pouring rain to meet up with Lori and Polina at the Whole Foods to grab a bite to eat before heading to the movie theater to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Polina liked it all the way up to the end, but was peeved that the defense of Hogwarts against the Death Eaters was omitted. Also, she's still steamed about how Sirius Black met his end in the last movie. Lori was just shocked at the death of a major character in HBP, as she hasn't read the book yet. As for me, I still liked the new movie, but it doesn't surpass Order of the Phoenix as my favorite of the series so far.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Karaoke virgin no more!

Guess it's time for an update before the next round of activity starts again tomorrow, since it's been a week since my last post.

Friday I drove into the city and met with Polina and her friend Reiko near Union Square. I met Reiko on New Year's Eve, but we didn't get to talk very much, so it was like our first meeting. However, she is planning to go with us to Great Adventure next week, so we'll have plenty of time to get to know each other. We chatted for a bit over frozen yogurt treats, then she went home while Polina and I went to Brooklyn to see the Adventure Quest play at a venue called The Brick.

The play basically started as a live-action version of an early text RPG (e.g. Zork) with actors playing the roles of the Hero (who reminded me of Dirk the Daring from Dragon's Lair), Guard, Peasant Girl, etc. But as the Hero goes from scene to scene, talking to people and getting the same answers over and over, and figuring out what he needs to do, it slowly turns into an existential parody where he questions why he has to kill everyone in order to achieve his goals. Plus he falls in love with the Peasant Girl instead of the Mayor's Daughter whom he's supposed to rescue. There's an omniscient female computer voice giving instructions which adds to the realism (i.e. "You can't do that") and a points counter projected on the background goes up every time he does something right. It was a very clever and funny play, and a must-see for computer game geeks.

We met up with two new people at the play - Rob, a guy Polina and I met at the last Poly Cocktail Hour ("Deep fried pickles" - July 14, 2009) and Kevin, a bloke she met on the bus back from Otakon in Baltimore. After the play, we went to a diner for a bite to eat, then trekked back to Manhattan to find a karaoke bar in Korea Town, an area around 32nd Street and Broadway. Believe it or not, it was my very first time in a karaoke bar - since I grew up with karaoke machines in the house, there was never any reason to go out for that kind of entertainment.

So here is me singing Linkin Park's "In the End" - I sang Chester Bennington's part, and Polina rapped Mike Shinoda's lines, so we did it as a duet. We also sang "Attack" by 30 Seconds to Mars together, but that was a hard song to sing!


There was a lot of multilingual singing, as Rob is fluent in Japanese, and Kevin in Chinese. Polina also sang a few songs in Japanese. However, none of us were familiar with Korean, which made working the Korean remote control somewhat of a challenge. Kevin and Polina sang "Tribute" by Tenacious D together, Rob sang "Don't Look Back in Anger" by Oasis and "Beautiful Ones" by Suede (among others - he's a really good singer). Kevin and I sang "Sweet Home Alabama" together, and we all sang "Phantom of the Opera" together, with Polina and I singing Christine's part and Kevin and Rob singing the Phantom's part.

One cool thing that we realized near the end of the night was that the four of us were each from a different decade in age: Polina in her teens, Kevin in his 20s, Rob in his 30s, and me in my 40s (biologically speaking). I have to think that's a pretty rare thing, and further proof that age is just a number, not a limit at least when it comes to having fun. From left to right, here's Polina, Rob and Kevin:


After a couple hours of singing, we parted ways and Polina and I headed back to her place for the night. The next morning we had Shabbat breakfast with Penny's parents before her grandparents, older sister Sofia and her husband Robert came over for a visit. Sofia and I spent a couple hours going through Penny's closet and critiquing her wardrobe before I left for home for Saturday night dinner with my family. After dinner we watched "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

The irony of monogamy

There is a very balanced and thoughtful essay on the irony of monogamy on today that is worth addressing. You can read the full article here.

The article asks the pointed question: how did we as a civilization come to idealize lifelong monogamy as the primary, if not only, form of loving relationship? How and why did this become our modern-day reality? Were we biologically predestined to be this way? Or are we the living in the shadow of historical accidents?

After much discussion about human biology and the patriarchal usurpation of goddess-based religion, the conclusion is that monogamy may have its roots in the control of female sexuality so that men could keep track of their lineage, thus historically linking monogamy with women's oppression throughout human history. And in a final huge ironic twist, the modern stereotype requires that women have to nail men down and make them commit to monogamy!

However, the article does conclude in a balanced way, saying that none of this means that monogamy, as such, in necessarily bad - only that these conclusions should give us pause for thought. The writer asserts that some people (maybe even a majority of people) are best-suited for some form of a monogamous lifestyle – whether it be life-long monogamy, or serial monogamy.

However, he also makes the point that people (especially women) might do well to seriously consider the roots of their own desire for monogamy and if they do, they might find that the best path for some people is some form of non-monogamy. Living as we do now, with the option of genetic paternity testing, it could be that the original motivation for the widespread social endorsement of monogamy as the "one true path" for a spiritually rewarding and socially fruitful life is now gone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Relationship talks

I just got home from a nice visit with Polina on Staten Island over the last day and a half. She has been busy working at her job in Manhattan, and was out all weekend in Baltimore for Otakon 2009, a huge anime, manga and Asian pop culture conference. She cosplayed as Duo Maxwell, a character from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.

Duo Maxwell

And she wasn't the only person playing Duo - there were at least three others at Otakon (but she was the only one who bothered to bind her breasts for added fidelity). Polina is at the far left:

Polina at Otakon 2009

She got back from Baltimore late Sunday night and slept over at her grandmother's place near St. Marks, and I picked her up from there Monday afternoon to bring her home with all her cosplay gear she had to carry. We hung out and read books together for a couple hours, making plans on Friday to see a show in Williamsburg called Adventure Quest with some of her new Otakon friends. Supposedly "capturing the style and spirit of the Golden Age of home computer gaming, Adventure Quest is both a nostalgic treat and a glimpse into the yawning Void." I expect that Penny and I will chuckle at different things in this play, considering that I was playing computer games that were state of the art almost a decade before she was born.

Afterwards we drove to Lori's place about 10 minutes away on Staten Island and she made us a nice dinner of spicy fried eggplant, pan fried vegetable dumplings, fresh green beans and onions in a curry sauce and rice. Then we watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which neither of them had seen yet. We'll try to watch the new Harry Potter movie in the city next Wednesday. Lori's boyfriend Erik came home soon after the movie concluded and we chatted for a while before saying goodnight to them and going back to Penny's house to watch an episode of True Blood on Penny's MacBook.

I called Tara for goodnight around 1 a.m. to tell her I was staying overnight, and we had a decent chat, all things considered. Penny and I stayed up until almost 4 a.m., talking about very personal things that we've not shared before. I am encouraged that we continue to break new ground in our developing relationship, showing that we can trust each other and communicate about things that are sometimes uncomfortable to speak about.

The next morning we made an omlette for breakfast and continued watching True Blood. We got a pizza for lunch and had another good relationship talk in the car as I dropped her off at the ferry terminal on her way to visit with other friends over the next couple days.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fifth birthday at the Guggenheim

Wednesday was the fifth anniversary of an event that I celebrate as my birthday. My family came over in the morning and we drove into the city to visit the Guggenheim Museum, a very special place in my personal history. I first visited there by myself back in the early 1990s on my first trip to New York City, and it was probably the first time I'd ever been in a modern art museum. Looking up into the famous structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, I began a tour of contemporary art that expanded my conception of what art could be, and I've been a fan of modern art ever since. It was an honor to share this special place with my family.

Here's a photo that Tara took from the lobby - which incidentally is the only place that photos are allowed:


We came home and had an early dinner at Burger Deluxe, a gourmet hamburger diner near my apartment that we've been meaning to try ever since it opened last year. Then we came back to my place for a quick rest, watched some TV, and opened presents. As always, I got some wonderful things - the landmark DC event comic Final Crisis, a new Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper story Dust and Shadow, Marvel Comics' Thor! Ages of Thunder, Terry Moore's follow up to Strangers in Paradise titled Echo: Moon Lake, and a new Vertigo title called House of Mystery: Room and Boredom.

I also got the first season of HBO's True Blood, based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels of Charlaine Harris, which I have been reading after getting caught up with Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. The show so far is extremely faithful to the books, which is nice, and although Sookie is not as cool a character as Anita, the later books do start to capture some of the vampire and shapeshifter political structures that Hamilton brings to life so eloquently. Sookie is much more innocent than Anita, and unlike Anita, generally succeeds in staying that way. Other DVDs I got were the limited edition CD/DVD of Jeff Buckley's Grace Around the World and Peter Gabriel's Still Growing Up - Live and Unwrapped.

After presents we had some cake and went to the movie theater to stand in line for the 10:45 showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Out of respect for blog readers who haven't seen this yet, I'll refrain from saying anything about the movie, but I will say that I enjoyed it.

On Thursday I was supposed to have a job interview, but I woke up to find out that it had to be postponed due to a client emergency. I went into the city to have lunch with my friends Erika and Brigitte, who I'd last seen at Erika's birthday party in May ("Happy Birthday Erika!" - May 16, 2009). We were talking about their ideas for new business ventures that we'll probably continue to discuss in the coming months.

Afterwards I went to my friend Simon's apartment for a Vortex Healing session, something he's giving me in exchange for some PR work I'm doing for him. It was a very interesting experience, and it gave me some insight into how I might improve my life in the coming year, so I will see if I can follow-through on what I received from him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Deep fried pickles

Just a quickie update because I have to get to bed for my big birthday celebration with my family tomorrow.

In preparation for my job interviews on Thursday, I went into the city Monday for a hair coloring, and got some rather bold red highlights done. I just wanted something a little more dramatic than the boring - albeit natural - color I've been wearing the past six months or so.

Afterwards I went to China 1 Restaurant for the monthly Poly Cocktail Hour, where I saw my friends Buck, Kyle, Lyndell, Simon and others I knew. Barbara and her partner Joe came for the first time since I've been coming, so it was nice seeing them. Polina showed up about an hour after me, and we met several new people, including a couple of dancers/choreographers named Anthony and Kristen, who are exploring the possibilities of opening up their long-term relationship. This meeting also marked the first public meeting of Open Love NY (which I unfortunately missed because my hair appointment ran long).

Polina and I left at 11:30 p.m. since she was coming home with me to do some shopping the next day. And just like last time ("Firefly marathon" - June 10, 2009) we seemed to attract an undue amount of attention on the train ride home. First there was a U.S. Army staff sergeant visiting home from his post in Italy telling us war stories from his time with the 82nd Airborne Division - he was on his third or fourth tour of duty and getting ready to go to Afghanistan. Once he got off at Newark, another man took his place in the seat across from us and continued telling us stories about Operation Desert Storm. We'd pretty much had enough at that point and started playing a game on Polina's iPod Touch so he'd take the hint to leave us alone.

The next morning, after a bit of a rough start upon waking, we headed out to do some shopping. As I did with Tara when we were actively dating, I offered to get Polina some things to make her overnight stays with me easier and more comfortable - a toothbrush, change of clothes, pajamas and toiletries, so we got those at Target. Then we went to Paramus to look for some boots that Penny has been trying to find for her anime-con costume this weekend in Baltimore. We found them at Nordstroms Rack, my favorite place for bargain shoe-shopping, and also found her a pair of jeans at the Marshalls in the same shopping center. Her old jeans were definitely ready for the recycling bin.

Then we went to a wig store so she could buy some conditioner/detangler for the wig in her costume. Afterwards, we had lunch at the nearby Hooters, the first time I'd been to one since I left Houston. I've been missing their super-spicy chicken wings, regardless of who is doing the serving. Naturally, we were the only two women in the place on a weekday afternoon. We also tried the deep-fried pickles, which I thought were pretty tasty:

After lunch I drove Penny into the city and dropped her off at work, and came home to visit Tara. We had a nice chat, and then in the evening I went out to the free movies and saw Public Enemies. I liked Johnny Depp's performance, but the movie seemed to lack focus and was a little difficult to follow for me. Not Michael Mann's best work, unfortunately.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Film screening

I had a nice time out last night with Polina and Afiya for a screening of Polina's short film, "Learning to Lead" at this year's class of A Different Take, an annual summer program that sponsors LGBTQ youths to make films about their lives and experiences. Polina participated in last year's class, and her film was shown at the MIX 21 Festival last October, where we went for our first date.

I was a bit early getting to Bluestockings, the queer bookstore where we were to meet. While waiting, I met and chatted with some people from Austin who were reading Julia Serrano's book Whipping Girl. Once Polina and Afiya showed up, we went to nearby Katz's Deli for a bite to eat. Katz's is the famous deli on Houston Street (pronounced HOW-stun) where the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally was filmed - in fact, we sat one table away from the exact place where Meg Ryan demonstrated her acting chops (it's marked by a hanging sign). Here's a picture of my pastrami and chopped liver on rye, something I saw Anthony Bourdain order on his show, "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel:

Pastrami and chopped liver on rye at Katz's Deli

After eating, we strolled over to Le Petit Versailles, a public garden in the East Village maintained by neighborhood volunteers. Polina got reacquainted with her former teachers and colleagues, and we started the screening as soon it got dark enough.

Polina and Afiya

Polina had also invited Marc, a guy she met while in Argentina, and his boyfriend Xavi, who were visiting New York together, and they showed up midway through the program, just in time to see her film. Marc and Xavi are both journalists who live in Barcelona, Spain, and are traveling the world, working on research for a book and other projects.

After the screening, some audience Q&A and socializing, we decided to find a place to get a bite to eat. Polina invited me to stay over at her house so I wouldn't have to bail on the group in order to catch the last train back home. We made our way to St. Marks Street and found a Japanese restaurant where we had a late snack and chatted until about 1:30 a.m.

Marc kissing XaviPolina hugging me

After walking Afiya and the guys to their respective trains, Polina and I headed to Staten Island, and got home about 3:30 a.m. She showed me her shiny new MacBook Pro and some YouTube videos on her new iPod Touch before we turned the lights out. In the morning, we had Shabbat breakfast with her parents and grandmother and played around with the MacBook some more until I started to make my way home.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Age gaps

Some old business before I get into a new update - here's a photo of the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park, where I played my cricket game. This stainless steel artwork is 140 feet high, 120 feet in diameter, and weighs 700,000 pounds. As Marty McFly might say, that's a lot of DeLoreans. The empty pool surrounding the base was filled with skateboarders and cyclists taking advantage of the smooth surface that is normally underwater.


On Wednesday I ran a bunch of errands during the day, including setting up another job interview for July 16 - I have two scheduled for that day, both PR agencies in NYC. One of them is a smaller agency near Grand Central Station, and the other one is a Top 5 agency a few blocks from my last job at Agent K. I'm also still waiting to hear from the agency in Cranford, NJ, but from a purely logistical standpoint, I'd much rather work in the city than have to drive through rush-hour traffic every day.

In the afternoon, Polina came over to my place after spending the previous night at her friend Laura's house in nearby North Haledon - Laura was part of our first Firefly marathon last month ("Firefly marathon" - June 10, 2009). We drove into the city to meet with Lori at my monthly Women's Poly Meetup Group, which includes my friends Barbara and Sylwia, who have been mentioned before ("Midsummer update" - June 23, 2009). We had nine women total at the meeting, a record high for this group, including a new woman also named Michelle, who is of Japanese descent. She was kind to take this photo of the rest of us - Barbara had to leave early, and Lori didn't want to be in the photo since she's not technically part of the group yet.

My Women's Poly Group

From left starting at the top, the women pictured are Adele, Polina, then myself, Sylwia, Oxy and Tamara. Lori actually knew Tamara as a friend and was pleased to reacquaint with her.

One topic of discussion, not surprisingly since Polina and I were there as a couple for the first time, was talking about age gaps between partners. Adele and Lori both have older male partners with age gaps similar to the one between me and Polina, and a few others were struggling with smaller, but still significant age gaps between themselves and younger men.

Although I constantly crack wise about the age gap between me and Polina, I've never considered it a serious obstacle to our relationship. Obviously, my personal history makes me unlike most women of my biological age, and it's not entirely in jest that I celebrate my 5th birthday next Wednesday. There is no doubt I skew very young in my appearance, my demeanor and my outlook on life. Polina, for reasons of her own, skews older than her tender age, so from an outsider's perspective our age gap seems unremarkable. In fact, many of the women last night commented that we seemed a lot closer in age than we actually are. Perhaps part of that has to do with the way we are slowly finding our feet as a couple. At least we have the advantage that no one will ever mistake me for being her mom.

On the rare occasions I think about our age gap, I consider the reasons that many people make age an issue in relationships. The most practical and objective one would be having children - a couple who are both in early childbearing years are probably going to be more successful at conceiving and raising a child together. Then the more subjective reasons have to do with social stigmas, inequities in education/income/career development, and generational attitudinal differences. Finally, there is the inevitable issue of not having the chance to grow old together, barring an early departure (morbid, I know, but it's true).

For Polina and I, believe it or not, we have talked about children, and natural childbirth is probably not in either of our futures, together or separately. Obviously social stigmas aren't much concern to transgender polyamorous pansexuals - what's one more log on the fire that social conservatives want to light under us? As for the inequities mentioned, her exceptional intelligence and my careful separation of my work and my private life keep those in check, while generational differences are something we have both always thrived on, even before we ever met one another. With the circles she travels in, Polina tends to have older friends (she has two older sisters), while mine tend to be younger than me (e.g. Pearl and Amy from my old life, and practically every close friend I have today).

As for the issue of mortality, I simply turn to one of my three core tenets - live for today, live in the moment. We don't know what tomorrow will bring. If we are happy today, that is enough. It would be a shame and a waste to spoil a chance at love today because we worry about what the situation will be decades from now. As I've said before, I'm not looking for the one "perfect" love that may or may not cross my path. Love is too precious to me to turn away because it doesn't meet some arbitrary standard or requirements. If two people feel that connection and spark between them, it should not be ignored. If there is no room in your life for more love, then you must be a very lucky person.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My first cricket game

Yesterday I played in my first cricket game, something I've wanted to do for almost 15 years. I fell in love with the game when I visited the U.K. back in 1997 and watched some games on the BBC. When I was visiting the City of Bath in England, I saw some kids playing on a school field and something about the sport just clicked with me. The sound the ball makes off a bat made of willow is somehow very appealing to me. I bought a couple balls, a set of wickets and a bat from a store in Bath and brought them home, along with a book on how to play the game.

My 15-year-old cricket bat has survived two fires and I had to replace the grip in 2006 after the first fire melted the original grip off. This was the first time it has had any opportunity to be used in a real game, so I brought it along on the bus ride into the city.


I went in early to have lunch with Polina at a barbecue place in Times Square before taking the subway out to Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. This is the location of the USTA National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, which starts in a couple months. It's also nearby Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets.

The group consisted of six young men of Indian descent and myself. The guy who was supposed to bring the wickets (a set of three wooden stakes in the ground with two small bails perched on top of them, each about the size of a Mars candy bar) couldn't get away from work, so we improvised by dragging a 55-gallon trash can barrel to one end of the pitch, a strip of hard-packed dirt where the ball is bowled to the batter. This made the game easier for the bowlers, because the wicket target became a lot larger. We each took turns at bat, and each player bowled six overs (analogous to pitches thrown for strikes in baseball) to the batsman.

We scored the game as follows - if the batter makes contact with the ball and hits it far enough, he scores runs by running the length of the pitch as many times as it takes for the fielders to return the ball, each length counting as a run. If the ball went past the field boundary before it is touched by a fielder, it's an automatic four runs; if it leaves the field on the fly, it's an automatic six runs.

There are also several ways for the batter to make an out, which results in a deduction of five runs. First, if the bowler manages to get the ball past the batsman and hit the wicket (which in our case resulted in a loud "BONG" when the steel barrel was hit) that's an out. If a fly ball is caught by a fielder (who don't wear gloves, by the way) that's an out. Or if the fielders return the ball to one end of the pitch before the batsman gets there, then the batter is "run out." Any of those events causes a loss of five runs.

Even though I've never bowled an over in my life, I acquitted myself quite well, bowling three or four outs by striking the wicket. Unlike baseball pitching, the bowler is allowed to run up to the line where he (or she) releases the ball, and the elbow must be straight once the ball is brought higher than the shoulders. I usually keep a cricket ball around my desk and practice my grip and toss in my idle moments at my computer. Everyone was most impressed with my technique, especially when I told them I learned from a book, and it was my first game ever. Most of the guys I was playing with have been playing cricket since early childhood, so that was pretty high praise.

On the batting side, I came in last in scoring with a +1 run result, but the next best guy was only +2, so I wasn't too far back. The best guy scored more than 50 runs. I wanted to use my own bat, even though it was heavier than the other bats. Next time I'll use a lighter bat. In the field I had one decent play stopping a fast ground ball, but let a couple of fly balls drop because I misjudged the flight of the ball, or I got nervous about catching a hard-hit ball with my bare hands. The cricket ball is harder and heavier than a baseball, so this is definitely not a game for the faint of heart! I had one ball jump up and smack me on the forearm, but luckily did not leave a bruise.

We played until the light got so low I was having trouble seeing the ball, since cricket balls are dark red they don't show up very well in low light. When I got home, I was so exhausted from the play and just from being out in the sun so long that I felt a little sick and had to go to bed at midnight, which is really early for me these days. Consequently I woke up just past 4 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep until 7:30 a.m., then I slept until 12:30 p.m. Now today I'm just sore all over and it's painful just to move about. But it was totally worth it, and I'm looking forward to playing again.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Buffy vs. Edward Cullen

As a fan of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight, this has to be the funniest remix I've ever seen! In this brilliantly edited clip by Rebellious Pixels, Edward Cullen shows up at Sunnydale High and tries to put the moves on Buffy Summers, who sees right through his sparkly facade, shutting him down at every opportunity, leading to an epic final battle between Slayer and vampire.

I've been ripping a lot of music from DVD today, taking advantage of an unusually stable computer. I completed two of my favorite Crossroads episodes - Taylor Swift and Def Leppard, and Sara Evans and Maroon 5 - plus the Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live concert and started on Yes: Live From House of Blues. For those of you who don't know, Crossroads is a show where country music artists pair up with rock or pop bands and do a mash-up of sorts - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss was one of the most well-known and successful pairings. I especially like this song "Love Story" by Taylor Swift which works wonderfully as a duet with Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott. Plus any song channeling Shakespeare can't be all bad, right?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Kubrick and Concrete Blonde

Yesterday I watched a documentary on one of my favorite film directors called Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures. It was a fascinating portrait of his life, told through people close to him and those who worked with him - actors such as Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Modine, Malcolm McDowell, Shelley Duvall, and others. I wrote a paper on Kubrick for a film studies class in college, so I've been a fan for a long time. Among great directors, I think only Alfred Hitchcock comes to mind as similarly influential and congruent with my cinematic tastes. Of course modern directors like Steven Spielberg (who collaborated with Kubrick on A.I. Artificial Intelligence), Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, Woody Allen and David Fincher stand out as auteurs in their own right, but only time will tell if they achieve the immortality that Kubrick will be remembered for.

I went to the record store today and got an old CD I've been thinking about, Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde, a dark, goth-y work that was definitely the high-water mark for this band. Probably most people have heard their hit "Joey" from this album, or their cover of Leonard Cohen's song "Everybody Knows," which was on the soundtrack for the Christian Slater movie "Pump Up the Volume", another CD I used to have. I also used to have a CD single of the song "Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man" that included both "Everybody Knows" and an extended version of "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)" that included some nice atmospheric effects like a distant clock tower and footsteps on a wet cobblestone street that evoked images of the Whitechapel District of London in Victorian times. Cool stuff.

Today I also went to the Verizon store myself (a day after taking Penny to the one in Staten Island) because my phone was starting to malfunction and it was time for a replacement. I opted for the Samsung Alias 2, which has a cool E-ink keyboard similar to those used on electronic book readers like the Kindle. It allows the phone to display both vertical and horizontal keyboards, depending on which way you open the phone. I like it because it doesn't have an exterior touch screen (which I don't trust to remain undamaged) and the keyboard is easy to use for text messaging. I also finally got a texting package so I don't have to pay for every message like I used to.

All for now - back to watching my collection of Kubrick movies.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pride video

This is an amazing video and song done for Pride 2009 in the style of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire." The lyrics are below - thanks to Polina for finding it!

The job interview went well today, so now all I can do is wait and see. Afterward, I went to visit Polina for a bit, and help her deal with her dying cell phone by taking her to the Verizon store. I'm going to need to replace my phone soon too, but hopefully it will hold out for a bit longer.

I drove home from Staten Island in a tremendous thunderstorm, which was stressful and exhausting. I took a bit of a wrong turn on the NJ Turnpike because I couldn't read the signs clearly with all the rain, so it took more than two hours to get back. Plus I had to pee really badly the second hour in the car! So when I got back, I took a three-hour nap before Lori called and woke me up for a chat.

Now I'm going to shower and watch movies until the sun comes up.

PRIDE 2009
Music & lyrics by Jon Gilbert Leavitt

Silk top hats and button shoes, erotic tintypes, midnight cruise, Berlin gay society 1903
Sigmund Freud's Vienna's hype, identifies the homo-type, The Intermediate Sex and Heterodoxy
The gay wave moves across the sea, hello there Miss Liberty, Betty Boop is hot and hooch is out in the cold
Greenwich Village, Bloomsbury, gays in high society, Harlem nights, Chicago fights, Leopold and Loeb...

[CHORUS]: Pride, gotta have pride - we've been around too long to keep it inside.
Pride, can't sit back and watch from the side, pride is power and power is pride.
It's time to celebrate all the colors of the rainbow, get out into the streets, follow the tide...

The Captive hits the Broadway stage, The Fleet's In, Cadmus' all the rage, and The Well of Loneliness appears on the stands
Depression, bread lines, Crystal Night, Adolf shows Olympic might, put on your pink triangles and put up your hands
A-Bomb, 50's keen, the Kinseys shake the cocktail scene, James Dean, Mattachine, Doris Day and Harry Hay
Donald Webster Cory writes, Joe McCarthy picks a fight, J. Edgar, Roy Cohn shame on you, what else do you plan to do?

Christine Jorgensen's reborn, Daughters of Bilitis form, Ginsberg, Naked Lunch, Giovanni's Room.
Marilyn, the Beatnik scene, Jackie's in her Cassini, Vatican II and something's coming soon...
Summer 1969, the heat is rising all the time and over the rainbow Judy Garland sleeps
Stonewall Bar, men in blue, heads were broken bottles flew, "out of the bars and into the streets..."


Boys in the Band played, Bette Midler sang, those bathhouse days, Lance Loud, gay and proud, Oscar Wilde Bookstore
...Sister George, Doonesbury, Tales of the City, Anita Bryant, Village People, Studio 54
Harvey Milk, rough trade, Aaron Fricke's prom date, GRID, Torch Song Trilogy, Boy George, GMHC
HIV identified, Rock Hudson, Liberace died, Bowers versus Hardwick's heard, Reagan finally says the word…

Barney Frank, AIDS quilts, ACT-UP, Randy Shilts, Queer Nation, Mapplethorpe, AZT
Amendment 2, Cracker Barrel, "don't ask, don't tell," Angels in America, March on DC
Greg Louganis, Elton John, George Michael, what is going on? Lilith Fair, riot grrls, spend a day at Disney World,
Cunanan scare, the McVeigh case, Ian, Ellen, Will & Grace,
Matthew Shepard- God bless you, what else can we look forward to...?

Gay-dot-com, VaxGen, another Bush in Washington, Millennium March, Mary Cheney, Queer as Folk
Dr. Laura's evil ways, bug chasers, ex-gays, 9/11 – Mark Bingham, Father Mychal Judge.
Holland starts the marriage trend, Beanie Man and Eminem, L-Word, Dubya's back, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Executions in Iran, no same-sex marriage ban, linguists discharged in Iraq, one step forward, two steps back...

Logo, Rosie, crystal meth, PNP, Mark Foley, Jim McGreevey, John Amaechi tells all
Doogie Howser, Lance Bass, Brokeback, Superman, Rufus does Judy at Carnegie Hall
Larry Craig - vice squad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - Dumbledore, Nutmeg State, Obama wins, so does Prop 8 -
Forty years ago who knew, when Miss Rivera threw her shoe –a raid became a movement – and our Fourth of July…