Monday, October 31, 2005

Growing Pains: Part 3

Growing Pains Part 1
Growing Pains Part 2

It was several months before my father could bring my brother home from Italy. He was in Florence with my brother and working with an army of doctors in order to get him the treatment that he needed to be well enough to travel. I heard through my mother that the doctors in Florence were extremely cooperative and he was probably getting better care there than he would have if he was in the states. My father's mission was completed and he got Doug well enough to travel home for the holidays.

I eagerly awaited my brother's return and it consumed my thoughts. I was very happy that he was going to be home with us for the holidays and I was eager to ask him all about his travels since he left. My mother prepared the house for his arrival. His room had become a sort of make shift hospice, an indication that screamed that although he was well enough to travel he wasn't going to be the man that I saw at the airport when he left for Europe the summer before. My father also had communicated to my mother that he wanted the house to be decorated for the holidays for my brother's return. My parents were determined to not let HIV ruin our holiday.

The day arrived that they were coming home. My mother received a call that they had arrived but there had a bit of an accident. I learned from my mother that the skycap that was supposed to be watching my brother in his wheelchair had neglected to lock his wheels. If you have ever been to the airport in Phoenix you know that there are large ramps that lead to the gating areas. My brother's wheelchair had rolled down a ramp and he had fallen out. My father was livid and engaged in some kind of litigation, my mother and I were worried about Doug. My father said he was fine, a few bruises but nothing major. The biggest problem was getting my brother to stop spewing profanity and racial slurs at the skycap.

Finally my father delivered my brother home. I guess I hadn't really prepared myself for the condition that he was going to be in. I expected him to be ill but not this ill. My father rolled my brother in on a wheelchair. The weather was actually cold that winter in Phoenix and he was bundled in a blue wool parka with wooden catches. He was thin, horribly thin, and his once supple cheeks had deflated and his hair was thin. I couldn't tell if the fatigue in his gaze was from the trip or if this was going to be his normal state, he glanced at me for a moment and managed to crack a smile and mumble, "Hi Adam." I almost lost it when I saw him. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. My father wheeled him further into the house and Douglas suddenly started howling in horror. I didn't know what to do but my father remained calm as did my mother. Somehow the managed to soothe him. I would later learn that the HIV had gotten into his brain and he had severe dementia and he would come in and out of consciousness. His screams of horror were because he had visions of doctors surrounding him around a bed while they tried to suffocate him with pillows. I was naive to expect this homecoming to be any better than this and looking back I think the effort of my parents to make this a normal-as-possible christmas were for my benefit more than for the benefit of my brother.

The days leading up to christmas were dreamlike. My other brother Paul had come in from the holidays from New York. This was a novelty as he is a provincial New Yorker and insisted that my parents house in Scottsdale was designed by Mike Brady. My other brother had moved from upstate New York to Scottsdale with his wife in the summer and my sister came from New York as well, all together for what was most likely our last christmas with the whole family. It was the first time since moving to Arizona that my entire family was together for a christmas, I always thought it unfortunate that we have never been able to get together like this again. My parents had overnight become professional nurses. Every morning my mother and father would care for my brother; cleaning him, soothing him, and give him his meds injectables and all. They were relentless in his care, constantly monitoring his every need to make sure that he was comfortable. This is pretty much the only memory I have of my parents from this time in my life. Their devotion was completely focused on the care of my brother. I was still in shock at the state of my brother and I kept myself at a certain distance.

Christmas day arrived and Doug had actually some improvement. His fits of demetia were less frequent and I think the holiday was really making him feel better. We went to church in the morning all together and we returned home to open gifts. My brother and I were sitting next to each other close to the fireplace and he had a bag at his feet from Florence. Everyone else was busying parsing up gifts from under the tree and my mother started to go into the bag at my brothers feet. Doug slapped my mothers hand and proclaimed in one his moments of lucidity, "I'm not that far gone yet." He started pulling out small boxes. Each one of them stamped with addresses on the Ponte Vecchio. None of them were annotated as to who the recipient was to be but he knew the destination of each one with out any problem. Last came mine, he handed it to me and smiled and said, "Like I promised you." I opened the box and inside was a solid 14K gold cross in the Franciscan style on a gold chain. I had asked him before he left in the summer to buy me a gold cross and he promised that he would get it for me. In all his health problems and fits of dementia he remembered he brought for his family from Italy and he remembered a promise he made to me. I held back my tears and for the first time since he came home I gave my brother and hug and a kiss.

One day my parents had to go out and do something I don't know what. They wouldn't be gone for long and they asked me to watch Doug. He had had all of his medications for the day and he and I sat in the family room watching TV. I was sitting near him and he was half paying attention to what was on the screen. Although I had seen my parents do it many times, I was hoping that I wasn't going to have to calm him from a fit of dementia. Doug grabbed his walker and said, "I want to shower." My brother in health and in sickness wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. I tried to convince him to wait for mom and dad to come home before he took a shower but he didn't want to wait. Usually my parents would have Doug shower in their large walk in double headed shower in the master bathroom and so my brother headed that direction shedding clothing along the way. I knew at this point there was no stopping him. I turned the shower on and adjusted the temperature. Doug was shivering and eagerly awaiting his shower. At this point I thought to myself, "How is he going to do this alone? He can barely stand on his own without his walker." I took off my clothes and had him lean on me while I moved his walker into the shower. I then had him grab my forearms with his hands and I acted as his walker until we got into the shower. I didn't have to coerce or verbally lead him in any way, he understood every move I was making and followed my lead. The water started to mat his thinning hair and roll down his thin frail body and he smiled and moaned in delight, "Thats better." I was happy to see that he was enjoying the water. I took some liquid soap in my hand and rubbed it on his back and began washing his body. I was relieved that I was finally able to do something to ease his suffering. At one point in the shower he began to cry and I was worried that he was hurt or was in some discomfort. I was also worried that if he tried to respond he might not be lucid. He turned and looked at me and said, "I'm sorry that I went and got this way. I want to die soon so that you don't have to do this anymore." I rubbed his back slowly and said to him, "Stop talking like that. I thought we were having a nice shower." He slowly stopped sobbing and smiled a bit. We got out of the shower and I dried him off and got him into some comfortable pajamas. When my parents came home I was brushing Doug's damp hair with a soft brush and watching TV. That was a good day.

The situation deteriorated from that point on. It was now January and a very cold and rainy winter in Phoenix. One night I was woke up by the sound of my brother moving from his bedroom into our bathroom. I thought to myself that I should have gotten up to help him but I slipped back into a deep sleep. I was later woken up by the sound of a body falling to the ground followed by howling. I couldn't move. I lay in my bed paralyzed with fear about what I would see if I got up. My parents heard the howling and I heard them wake up screaming my brother's name from across the house. They ran towards h is room and I distinctly remember my mother screaming through tears, "Not yet." My father reached Doug's room his voice trembling and crying. He turned on the lights and from what I heard he saw my brother on the floor where he had fallen. Somehow the sight of my father calmed my brother quickly and he stopped sobbing and my father asked gently, "What happened?" Doug replied with a tinge of accomplishment, "I went to the bathroom by myself." My father told him that was good but next time he should call for him or me next time he wants to do that. My mother was in the hall hysterical and my father assured her he wasn't hurt and that Doug was more scared than anything. I cried myself to sleep after that. I was disappointed with myself that I didn't get up to help my brother when he had fallen, humiliated that I had let my fear of seeing him dead on the floor prevent me from helping him regardless of his cries.

Doug's dementia was getting worse and his health was failing. The last time I saw him it was the morning that he was being moved to the hospital. I was dressed for school and my mother said to me, "Say goodbye to your brother before you leave for school." I realize now that she was really telling me to say goodbye to my brother. I went into his room and there was propped up on his bed while a nurse was doing something at the foot of his bed. He was in a daze and looked exhausted. His eyes indicated that he recognized me and I hugged him and kissed him on the forehead for what would be the last time.

Some weeks passed. My parents were rarely at home, they spent most of their time at the hospital with my brother. When they were home they were constantly on the phone with relatives calling frequently asking about my brother's condition. One such night my dad was on the phone with his sister, my aunt. He was in another room and I heard him cry like I had never heard a person cry ever before in my life. Even to this day when I remember that moment the sound of his cry is so unlike anything I have ever heard. It was then that I realized how much he loved all of us and how much it hurt him to see one of us in so much pain and suffering. Whenever I hear news that a parent has lost a child I think of how my dad cried that night. For me it was difficult to lose my brother but it is inevitable that brothers and sisters might see their siblings die, especially for me being the youngest. No parent should have to endure the torment it is to see one of their children suffer and die before them.

February 2, 1994 I woke up and was shocked to see my sister-in-law in my house at 7am. After I almost soiled myself after seeing her in the hall she explained to me that she had been working (she is a nurse and then was working the night shift) and my parents told her to come to the house after she got off work to check on me. She told me that my parents were at the hospital all night. The day at school seemed a blur. I was quiet and everyone was asking me if I was ok. I didn't know what to say. All of the events of the past two years were weighing too heavy on me. The rejection, my weight, HIV, my brother, my own sexuality. I walked home from me bus stop. I remember as I got close to my house I stared at the vaulted teracotta tile roof. Somehow I knew that my brother had died and for a moment I thought about not going home. For a split second I thought if I didn't go into the house I wouldn't have to hear that he died. I took a deep breath and walked further towards my house, heart pounding I opened the side door. I walked into the house and my entire family was standing in the family room sobbing. My mother came towards me, face covered in tears, grabbed me tight and cried in my ear "Adam....he's gone."

My brother died of respiratory arrest due to complications from AIDS on February 2, 1994. His birthday was October 31st, 1962. He was 32.

I love you Douglas.

(Epilogue to Follow)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunday Outing

Overcast today in Dallas but we had to get out of the house and the temperature was just right for taking a walk. We live near the Katy Trail here in Dallas. It was an old rail line that was slated to become a mass transit light-rail line but that idea was shot down by the residents of Highland Park. The rail line was moved to underneath Central Expressway.

Highland Park is a part of a two city "bubble" in Dallas referred to as the Park Cities. HP's sister is University Park. All you need to know is that the people that live there have lots of money, most of Bush's largest donations come from people that live in the Park Cities, and they refer to Nieman Marcus as "The Store." Its quite odd because this ultra-rich, ultra-conservative neighborhood is adjacent to the gayborhood. Its an unholy synergy that results in, my opinion, the most fabulous parts of Dallas.

I digress... The trail is now a paved recreational walkway that allows one to walk, bike, run, rollerblade from downtown Dallas through Uptown and eventually up to Knox-Henderson area. Its a delightful walk and is normally more crowded, especialy with the gays. However, being that last night was the big Halloween block party on the Strip most of the gays were probaly sleeping off their Bud Light-roofie-tina-valium-demerol-percoset-vicodin-Red Bull induced comas. It was nice to have the trail empty this one time though.

Right off the trail at Knox street is the restaurant I commented on in Gastronomic Adventures and Tepid Begininngs, Toulouse. We walked further down Knox street and although we had walked this street many times before we noticed something new this time. There is a furniture store called Weir's. I've always thought it was a front for a twisted religious cult that is involved in the mail order bride trade. Brad has always scoffed at my accusation but today I think he may finally come around to my theory. Outside of the store they have a clock, which is not weird, but if you look at it more closely it says on the face "Jesus Lord & Savior." I guess at Weir's all the time is Jesus time!

We made our way down the street and lunched at Wild About Harry's. This is a great place to get hot dogs and some of the best frozen custard I have ever had. There is a wide range of hot dogs, a fantastic cheesesteak sandwich, and the custard flavors are different everyday as they make it fresh daily. Although I love the food here it's somewhat difficult for me to eat here because the proprietor, Harry, has some crucifixes on the wall and a newspaper clipping from the Dallas Morning News when Reagan died. It's just some obstacles that one must endure when frequenting haunts of the residents of Highland Park. As long as I keep my eyes off of the walls I love the food here.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

My Friday Night

Oy! Last night I was at work until about 10:30. There is a big meeting this weekend at the institute where I work and our lab was doing some last minute experiments, analyzing data, and then making it look pretty in Power Point. It was actually kind of fun. My boss is such a great guy. Every hour or so he'd emerge from his office and check on all of us to make sure we were all ok and offer to get us soda, coffee, etc. He bought us pizza at around 9:30 and insisted that we all stop what we were doing and take a break to eat. At the end of the night he was still in his office working and thanked us all for working late on our Friday night.

This is an absolute departure from my previous boss, the evil bitch queen from Brazil. Many times she'd have me stay late with someone to work on some stuff and then leave around 6 and say, "Okay I'm going home. When you get the data email it to me. Call me if you have any questions." No "Thank you for staying late", nothing. I hate her. You can read all about her reign of terror here Thick Animosity and here Emancipation.

While I was at work HM, via her boyfriend, sent me a link to this:

I tried to find out about Shetty Pharmaceuticals but every search led me to Hetracil. Part of me knows this has to be a joke but another part of me realizes that anything is possible in this era of designer pharmaceuticals. Visit the site here. I love how the man is holding a rainbow colored kite and although he is holding his wife's hand he is still not as close to his family as he should be. Now that homosexuality has been cured the government probably wont see a need to fund any more scientific research. I better start looking for a new job.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Uninformed Information

Metroblogging Dallas: What's the deal with Prop 2?

I rarely make two posts in one night but I cannot resist this one. This blogger is so misinformed on this issue that it enraged me greatly that he wrote such a horrid post. Eventhough he prefaced his post with a disclaimer stating that "I’m a pretty disappointing “gay friend” to have when it comes to upholding any sort of gay stereotype, much less being informed on anything that is happening in the “gay news,” but I figured I’d go ahead and check into this one for once, since it is taking place in my own backyard." I think he should have done more homework before making this post.

I had to respond to him with this.

This issue with Prop 2 is not simply defining marriage in the eyes of the law. The real issue behind this proposed amendment is discrimination. Putting it in such reductionist terms would be like saying that the integration of blacks and whites was about everyone being able to drink from the same water fountain. If Prop 2 passes then it will be WRITTEN in the state constitution that same sex marriages are not permitted. This is de facto discrimination, not any different from the Jim Crow laws of years ago.

You also need to know that this measure could put at stake the domestic partner benefits offered by the cities of Dallas and Austin. It could also undermine arrangements that many same sex couples have made for power of attorney. The state already has laws saying that gay marriage cannot be recognized and therefore this amendment would be redundant nonsense; a proverbial bone for the religious base.

I think in light of the recent passing of Rosa Parks it would be a TRAVESTY to allow such a measure to pass. It would certainly be an indication that the spirit of the civil rights movement just may have died with Rosa Parks.

Civil Marriage is a Civil Right! No Nonsense in November VOTE NO AGAINST PROP 2!!!


The most infuriating sentence in his post "Defining marriage is just sparking the debate for me as to how one goes about getting legal documents for all my un-married friends in long-term relationships. But then again, laws get changed." Thats exactly what I imagine a straight person with no insight into how difficult is to be gay in this country would say.


Originally uploaded by adpal3180.

Some of you may have heard of the cameratoss. Basically you take your digital camera and toss it up in the air while its taking a picture. I saw many cool examples and I decided to give it a try and this is what I came out with. I didnt actually toss my camera for this. Its far too precious too me so I put the wrist strap on tightly and kinda let it go into a controlled falling motion. Not too bad. I think its great that digital photography is allowing everyone to experiment with all kinds of things whereas a picture like this would have warranted a groan because it was a waste of an exposure on your roll of $5 film.

If you go to flickr you can see tons of them. They're all tagged with "cameratoss."

I'l like to leave you all with this.
DeLay says conservative politics being criminalized. Thats because conservative politics are criminal, DUH!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tracy Takes on Dallas?

I saw this new reporter on the conglomerate news station here in Dallas last night. Is this Tracy Ullman's newest comic opus?



Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My Own Private Army

If you don't already know I'm a research scientist here in Dallas. My job focuses on immunological research and some of the areas that I study are cellular therapies to combat autoimmunity (i.e. Lupus, Arthritis) and cellular based cancer vaccines. I thought I'd show you one of the technologies that I use at work on a daily basis. Its called Flow Cytometry, commonly referred to as flow.

Last friday at work I volunteered my blood for an experiment I was running. Although I had used flow many times before, I had never use my blood as a control for an experiment and being the nerd I am I could hardly contain my excitement to see my own blood on the cytometer.

So in order to analyze blood an instrument called a Flow Cytometer is used. Basically it sucks up a blood sample and injects it into a fluid stream that carries the cells in a line one by one to a fixed laser. The cells intercept the laser and scatter the laser light. Big cells, like Monocytes, scatter more light than smaller cells, like Lymphocytes. A Picture Share!So the horizontal axis in this graph measures the size of cells. The vertical axis measures the internal complexity of cells, like granularity. Granulocytes have more stuff inside them so they are higher on the vertical axis than Lymphs and Monos. I posted a picture that illustrates this process well. With a flow cytometer I am able to characterize cells in the blood at a rate of 40,000 cells per second.

Okay I know it looks like a bunch of dots but each dot that you see is representative of one of my blood cells. I have circled three populations of cells. Lymphocytes, the one in the lower left corner, are composed of my B Cells (the cells that make antibodies) and my T Cells (Half of these cells kill other cells that are infected with something nasty and the other half helps infected cells kill something that is inside of it. HIV Infects T Cells).

Granulocytes, located kinda above the Lymphs, are also known as Neutrophils. These cells exist solely to eat bacteria and digest them with enzymes. Typically these cells only last about 3 days and I am constantly replenishing them, as you should be yours as well. If I had an infection I'd see a much larger amount of these cells.

Monocytes, on the right, circulate in my blood waiting to be called on. When I get an infection they get signals from other cells at the site of the infection and migrate out of the blood to tissue that is infected at which point they become a Macrophage. They then engulf bacteria or virus, chew it up, migrate to the thymus, and present chewed up nastiness to T Cells or B Cells so that I can have a specialized (adaptive) response to my infection. So you know when you get sick and your Lymph nodes swell up? Thats because you have a bunch of macrophages, and other cells that present chewed up nastiness, flowing into your lymph nodes. The T and B cells wait in the Lymph nodes to be shown chewed up nastiness and then become trained to recognize nastiness at which point they multiply and go out and fight the infection. T cells either kill or help infected cells and B cells make proteins that stick to the nastiness (known as antibodies). Antibodies are like tags that other immune cells can then use to recognize nastiness faster and thus kill it faster.

Training T and B cells results in the production of memory cells so that when you get the same infection again you have antibodies, T killer and T helper cells ready to go immediately. This allows you to fight off infection faster the second time around. Your B and T memory cells are with you for your whole life and eventually you build up a kind of immunity portfolio. Isn't that badass!!! I think so.

To appreciate how powerful the immune system is you have to look at the two extremes of malfunction of immunity. Some children are born without an immune system or the ability to produce one. This condition is called SCID (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency). Without an immune system the life expectancy of these infants is next to nothing. On the other extreme your immune system cannot distinguish foreign nastiness from your own tissue or it thinks that your own tissue is foreign. This results in autoimmune disorders like Lupus or Arthritis. It is quite possible for your immune system to literally eat you alive.

I use this technology every day but it still amazes me. If you have any more questions about this or want to know more about this technology, T cell counts, or how the body fights infection let me know. I'm a big geek and I love talking about my work.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Postmodern Slop

Coulter Admits She's 'Not a Big Fan of the First Amendment'

I ask you how much someone much hate themselves to get to this point? She is like a comic book villian come to life. Most likely shunned and rejected by her native liberal lesbionic tribe on the east coast she was raised by white men with porky jowels on the praries of Kansas. It was there she learned the values of churning butter and cooking slop by sundown so as to please the menfolk. Late at night she would read works by Joseph Goebbels and the Bible. She resolved herself to returning to the east coast and destroying the lesbionics and other liberals that cast her out. Thus out of the vast arid wastelands of the heartland she was forged, Princess Republicunt!!

Thanks to Kody for showing me this site where you can make your own church sign. Here's mine.

In Dallas news, a cab driver has been arrested for drying his feces, grating it with a cheese grater, and sprinkling it on pastries at a local Fiesta grocery store. Fox4 News said, "The FBI, who had originally arrested the man, turned him over to local authorities after they determined his crime was not a threat to national security."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Growing Pains Part 2

Growing Pains Part 1

To say that life was obscenely different after my brother told me had HIV would be an understatement.

A couple days after the Houlihans dinner Douglas ushered me into the bathroom that we shared. He opened up his drawer which I never assumed to go into but was shocked to see that it was brimming with prescription medications. Orals and injectables it was an ad hoc pharmacy. He pulled out several bottles of medication. Some were for nausea, depression, diarrhea, the usual things that people with terminal or chronic illnesses have to have at their side. The last thing Douglas pulled out was a cube shaped bottle with Retrovir written on it. He opened the bottle and put a capsule in his hand. He looked at me and said, "This pill is AZT, it's poison. You are under no circumstances to take one of these pills or even handle one unless you absolutely have to." The moment was so heavy that to this day that etched in my brain is the white and blue capsule with the blue stripe on the center of it and the association of danger.

Next, he opened up the cabinet under his sink which housed boxes of syringes, needles, and a sharps container. He became even more serious, "I have to inject some of my drugs on a daily basis. Do not touch any of these needles and especially do not touch any of my used needles." I was told never to put my hand into the sharps container and that if I saw a needles that had fallen out that I should call him to come and dispose of it. His razor and toothbrush were stored in a drawer and I was told to not use them. For most twelve year old kids at the time the reality of HIV/AIDS was only experienced and understood through the ephemeral and innocuous babblings of the mainstream media. My situation was for more tangible.

After the medication orientation things seemed to return to normalcy as much as could be expected. There were the occasional bumps some upsetting and some amusing. The phone rang one day and it was my grandmother. She was halfway intelligible, in fact hysterical. She had just read the letter that my brother wrote her informing her of his status. The list of questions she howled through her tears were echoes of the ones that flooded my mind the night he told me. Additionally she was pissed that she was the last one to find out. No one was home to take her call but I eventually got her calmed down so that I felt ok with getting off the phone with her. It was the first and only time that I would see anyone else in my family react to the gravitas of the situation until shortly before my brother would die.

School was improving. I continued to excel academically and I was starting to make some friends. Fellow outcasts mostly which oddly seemed to compose mostly of Jews that had some kind of roots in the east coast. My brother started to volunteer at my middle school and church which I always thought was very bold. He was a tutor for students struggling in math and science. He would also donate his time to my school band by driving our equipment truck to California for our band trip. Not that he was never altruistic but seeing the situation that he was in I always thought that he would be trying to fulfill his own needs, filling his last years of life with experiences meant to only benefit him. Instead he chose to donate his time, his most precious asset at this point, to other people. Whether or not it was his intention he was demonstrating qualities that would leave an impression on me.

One of the most amusing things to happen at this time was that my English teacher, Ms. Telesko, had developed an affinity for my brother. A new hire to the district, this woman was simply put a gay man trapped in a woman's body. She worshipped the movie "The Body Guard" and proclaimed it was the best movie ever made. Between class periods when we'd all shuffle into her room she would subject us to the soundtrack of the movie before the second bell rang, indicating that she put away Whitney and start teaching us literature. During the days before the holidays when teachers seem to have no knowledge to bestow upon their students she graced us with an in-class viewing of The Body Guard. One day after class she pulled me aside, "Adam. Is your brother single?" I answered truthfully, "Yes." She continued, "Oh that is so great to hear. He is just so handsome! Do you think..." She stopped herself and realized that she was speaking to a student. I so wanted to tell her that he was gay and what a fool she was making of herself in front of me. I walked away from her classroom quite amused at her behavior. Doug and I had a terrific laugh about the whole situation after I told him that afternoon.

Seventh grade persisted on. In the spring I was socially active attending the many Bar and Bat Mitzvah's of my now many Jewish friends. Douglas coordinated and dressed me for each one bestowing on me knowledge of men's fashion. Douglas would give me my first non-clip on neck tie; an over the top silk print tie from Emmanuel Ungaro which I still have to this day. One time after he got me dressed he removed a plastic garment bag from his closet and unzipped it on the bed. Inside was an exquisite black wool suit and a silk tie with a pattern that matched perfectly. Douglas told me that this was the suit he was going to buried in. My initial reaction was shock but only for a few minutes. This is the first time that I had come to terms that although he looked healthy he was going to die in the next couple of years. Slowly my brother was preparing me for his death so that when the day arrived it wouldn't be so hard. I told him the suit was beautiful and joked that he would be the best dressed person at his own funeral. He looked and me and smiled, "You know I would never have it any other way."

Summer came and Douglas was preparing for an extended stay in Italy. He was to be staying in Florence and take classes on Italian art and literature. I hated that he was leaving but I knew that this was his time. He'd be back in the fall for a few weeks and then he'd be off on a cruise to Turkey. My mother and I took him to the airport. I have a photo of him waving goodbye to us from the entrance doors to the terminal. It would be the last time that I would see him as a healthy man and it would be the last time that he would fully recognize me.

Throughout the summer I would receive many post cards and gifts from Douglas. Every one of them was written in Italian and signed, "Ti amo fratello! -Claudio." My brother always traveled in Europe under his Italian alias, Claudio. The postcards came from Rome, Sienna, Florence, Milan. There were packages filled with gifts of chocolates, notebooks, and Italian comics. It was in this summer that I would have my first homosexual experience. It would be at boy scout camp with my friend and bunkmate whom I had a crush on. The experience didn't amount to much but I felt like I had broken some kind of barrier and I had many questions. I wanted to write Doug a letter and tell him about it but I lacked the maturity and the candor to do so. I would wait for him to come home and discuss it with him then

Summer wound down and the post cards were coming less frequently but still came. I got a photo of Claudio in the Tuscan countryside but he looked tired and his cheeks seemed less supple. My mother saw the photo and started to worry. The postcards stopped coming and my parents informed me that my brother had gotten very ill was taken in by a family in Florence. My father got on a flight to Florence immediately. I had never seen my father like this. Up until this point in my life I had never had much of a relationship with him. Always working for his job or for the house I didn't think that he saw his children as much more than hired help to clean his boat and help him with weekend projects. This facade melted away immediately at the news of my brother and I think for the first time I saw my father in his true form. He was a man who loved his children with an intensity that I could never imagine. Frantic and intent, he dropped his life and rushed to my brother's side. He would go to Florence and do whatever necessary to get my brother healthy enough to come home for the holidays.

(To be Continued)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Proof of Evolution

1970s: Peter Gallagher as Ken

1980s: An experiment gone terribly awry where a He-Man doll, a Jimmy Carter doll, and Ronald Reagan doll were melded into one. Note the plastic hair, quite suitable for the decade no?

1990s: I think Pauly Shore designed this one. Can someone please explain the hair?

2000s: The ultimate symbol of heterosexual men has turned gay metrosexual. Note that he is complete with the obligatory seashell necklace, fishnet tank top, and larger than your face sunglasses.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Laundry List

-Well after last night's post I received a response from my brother-in-law to the effect of "dont put words in my mouth," and "I didnt mean to draw a comparison with the composer of this crap to Nameless Soldier." Okay, If you didn't then maybe next time you should preface your anecdote with "On an unrelated note" so as to avoid any confusion. I think I'm going to be forbidden from their home at this rate. Enough of that.

-Some devastating news today at work. Another lab beat the lab that I joined in August in publishing data that my group have been working on for over a year and a half. It is almost identical work and the really irritating thing is that the people who published this work were in attendance at a talk that my PI (Boss) gave on the research last year. This happens quite frequently in research. It really is risky to present data that hasn't been submitted for review at large conferences.

When I was in undergrad a grad student that I worked with gave a poster presentation at a conference and eight months after the conference a paper was published by another group. She knew who they were as she remembers that they were asking very insightful and detailed questions about her work at the poster session. As we say in academia: Publish or Perish.

-I'm working on Part 2 of Growing Pains. I usually make my postings while I'm slowly deteriorating after a long day but I want to make sure I get everything correct for this story. It is a kind of chronicle for me.

-Although I responded with my own comment, I'd like to respond to something that an Anonymous commentor wrote about on my post Gastronomic Adventure and Tepid Beginnings. My account of Rocket Bar was in no way trying to discourage new gay, or non gay, bars from sprouting up around Dallas. In fact I want there to be more bars other than the usual disneyesque suspects on the strip. I was just stating my impressions of the establishment and where I think it fell short. I would love there to be more variety of society but just because a place is the anti of another wont draw me to it. One such place that breaks the Dallas mold and that I like to frequent is Minc Lounge 813 Exposition Ave. Dallas, TX. 75226 Its a great place that was created with very basic materials but still provides a unique and exotic lounge experience. In any case thanks for your comment Anonymous.

-And on that note: I'd like to thank all of you who have been posting comments. I love to hear back on my musings and what you think or how you disagree or agree or whatever.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Guerra civile nella famiglia!!!

The following is an email thread that bounced back and forth in my family. My Uncle is a die hard liberal living in White Plains, NY. My brother-in-law, an officer in the Navy.

-My Uncle sent this to my entire family in an email:


Mine Eyes have seen the bungling of that stumbling moron Bush;
he has blathered all the drivel that the neo-cons can push;
he has lost sight of all reason 'cause his head is up his tush;

The Doofus marches on.

I have heard him butcher syntax like a kindergarten fool;
There is warranted suspicion that he never went to school;
Should we fault him for the policies - or is he just their tool?
The lies keep piling on.

Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
His wreckage will live on.

I have seen him cut the taxes of the billionaires' lone heir;
As he spends another zillion on an aircraft carrier;
Let the smokestacks keep polluting - do we really need clean air?
The surplus is now gone.

Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Your safety net is gone!

Now he's got a mighty hankerin' to bomb a prostrate state;
Though the whole world knows its crazy - and the U.N. says to wait;
When he doesn't have the evidence, "We must prevaricate."
Diplomacy is done!

Oh, a trumped-up war is excellent; we have no moral bounds;
Should the reasons be disputed, we'll just make up other grounds;
Enraging several billions - to his brainlessness redounds;
The Doofus marches on!

Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!

-Okay har har. Cute political satire right?
-My brother-in-law, an officer in the Navy responded to the entire family with this:

Sorry, I don't find your 'Battle Hymn' amusing.

You might like to know that last week, Nameless Soldier, a Lieutenant on my staff, volunteered to spend the next 18 months of his life serving in the Arabian Gulf area. We were tasked to send someone to augment a Mideast operational staff and Nameless decided he would be the best choice to go. His action is a fine example of someone who understands that we are at war and is willing to do what is required to prevail. I'll be happy to pass along his mailing address when he arrives at his duty station if you'd be interested in sending a care package.

-This is the second time that my brother-in-law has replied to an email from my uncle. The first time he did it, I wrote back and replied to everyone in the family. I of course replied with this:

Dearest Brother-In-Law,

I think that opposing Bush and supporting the troops are mutually compatible stances. It is brave and admirable that someone on your staff has volunteered to go to Iraq for the next 18 months. I sincerely hope that he returns home unscathed and, upon his return, is commended for his sacrifice and service.

However, bringing up his voluntary call to action in the context of the "Battle Hymn" is a red herring. The text of the hymn is in no way pejorative towards the military. It is appropriate for political satire to embellish the faults of elected officials. The hymn, in keeping with political satire, highlights and summarizes the outrageous and embarrassing failures of George Bush and his domestic and foreign policies.

Furthermore, because we are at war it does not mean that freedom of speech is suspended. You can disagree with the hymn and its contents but you cannot insinuate that the person who composed it is any less of a patriot by saying that the soldier who volunteered "is a fine example of someone who understands that we are at war and is willing to do what is required to prevail." It is entirely possible for patriots to either wield the pen or the sword and none dare say that one is better than the other.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Growing Pains: Part 1

One of the most vivid and defining times of my life were my middle school years, grades 7-8. I was 12 and times were damn rough for me. I had just moved from NYC to Scottsdale, Az and resented my father for the decision but I tried to make the best of it. I excelled academically in school but I had few friends and found it difficult to relate to many of my classmates. I had moved from a school environment where I was surrounded by mostly african-americans and fellow Italians with last names like DeSantis, Sicotello, and Fiorello to a place where little girls named Leslie had pot-belly pigs as pets and came dressed to school in pint sized Chanel-like suits with matching sun hats. I was surrounded by a sea of white consisting of Mashburn, Smith, and Connor. To top it all off I had to adjust to another paradigm shift: soda was called pop in these parts. Pepsi had turned clear and the most entertaining thing in my life was how my Hypercolor t-shirt and sweater changed color when I huffed breath onto them. I was miserable.

I had more than a hard time making friends in this new place. In fact, I was outright shunned by a group of people that I thought had some great people in it. Unfortunately they were led by a girl named Lani who would use some kind of oppressive mind game to make all the people in her group "vote" to not allow me to sit near them. The only solace I had was when one of them came up to me one time after a "vote" and told me that everyone actually liked me but was too afraid of Lani. I took it as a backhanded compliment but any compliment at that point was welcomed.

Things were not going well but I had my brother Douglas to come home to. My brother had decided that he needed to get out of NY and moved with my family to Scottsdale. He was 29 and had made a decent sum of money for himself to live on and my parents didn't mind him living with us. I would come home and he would tell me stories from his many travels to europe, his experiences traveling across the country or we'd watch old movies and he'd educate me on how to identify screen legends of the past. He made me laugh, made sure I got out of the house, and he helped me with my homework. In addition to all that he was my highly protective of me. I came home from the doctor from my yearly checkup and I was devastated that I had been told that I was "overweight." It was another thing added to the list of shit caving in around me. My brother saw how how upset I was and immediately came to my rescue. He showed me pictures of himself at my age, a round boy just like me. Doug assured me that I would change and that I was fine the way I was. I learned later that he called the doctor and gave him a fierce talking to.

One night Douglas decided that he was going to take me to dinner at the Arizona Biltmore Shopping center to Houlihans. My brother was fond of junky chain restaurant food, its a penchant that I have inherited. It was over this meal that he would inform me that he was gay, that my oldest brother was gay and that the man he had been living with was his partner, and that he had HIV. For a twelve year old awkward pubescent this news was a lot to handle. I remember being more shocked about the sexuality of my brothers because I had known then that I was gay and felt really embarassed about it. My first words were, "Paul is gay?" To which Doug replied, "Yes. Why do you think he's been living with Alan for so long?" I thought a moment and said, "Well I just thought they were roommates." Douglas smiled widely and laughed. Knowing that two of my brothers were gay comforted me but the comfort was overcome by the news of Doug having HIV.

I knew what HIV was and I was confused. My brother was healthy. He ran in the NYC marathon several times. He wasn't pale or gaunt, in fact he was a handsome physically fit man. He couldn't be dying.

I was silent on the drive home. At a stop light he turned to me and said, "Adam. I know this is a lot for you to hear but I want you to know that I'm not going to die tomorrow. I love you." I remember how badly I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I don't know if it was for lack of maturity or just convincing myself that I had to keep it together so I could think about the situation logically. All I knew was that he was going to die soon. I was so angry. Angry about the move, angry about the people at school, angry at being fat, angry at my brother, and angry about my inability to cry about it all.

(To be continued)

Monday, October 17, 2005

All About Judy

I'm walking down the hallway in the hospital. I stop at a nurses station to pick up some samples that need to be sent to the lab. While at the station I happen to see the medical chart of Judy Miller. I turn and look away because I know that I shouldn't look at it. The nurse comes out and hands me the sample and notices my eyes glancing on Judy Miller's chart. The nurse smirks and says, "Don't you just wanna know what's inside?"

To which I reply, "Isn't that against the law?"

The nurse opens the chart, "No, she told my former fiancee that I had chronic crabs and now he wont return my calls. Sure it was the truth but I was all set to marry him. After what she did to me...look! It says here that Judy was born with testicles but she's scheduled to get them removed a week from today." The nurse looks through the chart some more and notices that the coding on Judy's chart and the code on the blood tube matched the one on Judy's chart. A grinch like smile crosses her lips and she says, "I have access to tons of charts here. This hospital caters to a lot of personalities. If you let what we found out here today slip into your highly read blog and the status of what's in Judy's blood, I'll give you access to lots of secrets and your blog readership will soar!"

I run the sample and discover that Judy has a terminal illness called TraitorousCuntitous. The proposition offered to me suddenly seems more palpable. I thought about the poor nurse and how crestfallen she must have been when she was all ready to marry that man and then Judy had to go and tell the awful truth. Its not like I sought out this information, it was offered to me, I'd just be documenting some facts about Judy and everyone will read my blog!

At this point I am at a crossroads. I can either A.) Be a good citizen and report that there is someone that is sharing detailed, and potentially damaging, medical secrets with passers by in the hospital. Or B.) Write a tell all blog post about Judy Miller's testicles, the surgery to remove them, and her terminal illness TraitorousCuntitous and claim that its freedom of speech. I can defend myself by hiding under the umbrella of "journalism," claiming that I was simply sharing what I knew from a source that I cannot disclose because I would never get any other opportunities, and the large payouts that come with those opportunities, to divulge other damaging secrets given to me by malicious people looking to seek revenge against those who oppose them.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

First Memory

Lead or Follow blog gave me the inspiration for a series of posts. They will be some of the first and some of my most potent memories. I think this is a great activity to chronicle these memories now so as to avoid losing them in the future.

First Memory: 1984 Building Blocks Montessori School Staten Island, NY, age 4.
The memory of this school is extremely vivid in my mind. I think its because I used to love going to this place. It was where I had preschool, it was the afternoon session. My teachers names were Barsha and Claudia. Barsha was Indian and she would teach us about dinosaurs, a topic dear to my heart. Claudia was Spanish and she would teach us about classical music, specifically Beethoven and Mozart.

My best friend was named Jeremy. He and I used to play with the blocks a lot. We used to like to play with certain blocks in particular. They were stored inside wooden boxes with sliding lids on them. We used to arrange the blocks inside their containing boxes and stand them on their ends so that the bottom of the boxes were facing us. We would pretend the boxes were TVs and they would break and we'd go behind the boxes and rearrange the blocks thus fixing our TVs. I remember Barsha and Claudia not liking that we did that and they continually told us to play with the blocks and not the boxes. I never understood why.

I remember during thanksgiving we had a turkey trot competition. The girl who won was named Amanda. She had dressed up as a panda for halloween earlier in the year and we all called her Amanda the panda. Her prize for winning the turkey trot, a Lite Brite. I was jealous and I think I also had a slight crush on her.

The thing I remember very well was when my grandmother used to pick me up from school. She would always be there on time waiting in her cream colored Buick Riviera with a red vinyl roof on the back. I remember the interior was velvety red and comfortable. She drove fast. My grandmother also kept a glass jar of Planter's peanuts under the seat and she'd let me eat them as she drove us home. Some days she would take me to McDonalds for a happy meal and watch me play on the slides. She would always tell me, "Don't let the other kids push you. If they do, you push them back. You're MY grandson!"

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Gastronomic Adventure and Tepid Begininngs

Tonight Brad and I ventured out to two places recently added to the Dallas culinary scene and the lineup of gay bars.

Our first stop was the newly opened french restaurant, Toulouse. I must admit that I was skeptical and recalcitrant of this restaurant. The space that it occupies was once my all time favorite gelato shop and cafe, Talenti. Talenti has since been relegated to the ice-rink level of the Dallas galleria, pathetic. However, Toulouse is a worthy replacement.

The atmosphere is stunning. Every detail mimics the touches of a Parisian bistro. Marble tables, bamboo chairs with rattan webbing, octagonal mosaic tile patio floors all set the stage for an authentic french atmosphere.

We started our meal with a specialty of the house, fresh mussels. Toulouse offers a variety of mussels which can be served either as an appetizer or as an entree. We opted for the Portuguese; mussels served in a tomato and wine sauce flavored with red bell peppers and chorizo. I have never had mussels so tender, they simply melted in my mouth not rubbery, salty, or sandy. The accompanying sauce was well balanced and flavorful, great for sopping up with a piece of fresh baguette.

For my entree I opted for the Duck Confit. The duck was moist and flavorful served on a bed of al dente lentils. The meal was outstanding and very satisfying.

The meal was completed with a chocolate souffle. Imagine a warm hot chocolate mousse with a baked top layer drizzled with a rich thick chocolate sauce. It was amazing. If you order the souffle be sure to ask for it when your food comes to the table, preparation takes at least twenty minutes.

I would certainly recommend Toulouse. The menu is filled with standard french fare but certainly not boring. Entrees range from $17-$30. If you go with your other and order drinks, appetizer of mussels, entree, dessert, and coffee expect to pay $50 per person. Given the atmosphere and the quality of the food, it is money well spent.

Toulouse: 3314 Knox St Dallas, TX 75205

After our gastronomic exploits we ventured to Dallas' newest gay bar, Rocket Bar. Rocket Bar is a venture of David Nieves, a former reality TV star on VH1s StripSearch. David is definitely a hottie but his bar falls short. Dallas gay bars are dominated by a handful of bars on Cedar Springs Rd. (known as the Strip) owned by the entertainment conglomerate Caven Enterprises. Therefore, any new gay bar that sprouts up has to offer something really different to compete. Rocket Bar is doomed.

As soon as we walked in we were greeted by linoleum tiles that must have been recently cleaned by an industrial-grade bleach cleaner. The result is that the entire bar looked and smelled like a freshly cleaned public restroom. The main bar area is oddly lit with shabby fabric couches haphazardly sprinkled in odd placements. Here's a tip: fabric couches and gay bars, or any bar, don't mix. I guess they spent all their money on the large flat screen TV showing HGTV re-runs of Sell This House.

The upper level was a barren open area which one could only assume was supposed to be a dance floor. In one corner there was a small bar with a bored looking boy with his shirt off shuffling some bottles. Off of the empty upper level was the patio, which was just a rotten wood plank overlooking Lemmon avenue.

The piece de resistance of the bar was the stairwell leading from the lower level to the upstairs. It is a narrow pathway ill lit by a plastic lamp placed on a landing that is powered by an extension cord originating from the main bar that is run through a round hole in the wall. Perhaps its an attempt to encourage patrons to grope passers by as they climb the stairs. I suggest a sign at the foot and the top of the stairs that reads, "Climb [Descend] at your own risk."

It is my hope that since this was only the second night this bar has been open that this was a soft opening. If not I would not revisit this locale.

What was sundered and undone, behold the three become one!

I will give massive amounts of respect to anyone, besides Heather, who knows where the title of this post is derived from.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I want it!

This week Apple unleashed the new iPod videos and the new iMac G5s. I am a huge Apple proponent, my first computer was an Apple IIc way back when screens only had eight colors. However I'm a bit perplexed at the speed at which they are introducing new items.

It was less than a year ago that I got my iPod mini and already the minis have been phased out and replaced by the nanos. The iPod photo, with its color screen and ability to display music art and personal photos, was only introduced a little over a year ago and it has been replaced by the new iPods with video capability. As if that wasn't enough the iMac G5 that I got less than a year ago has been made obsolete by a newer thinner version that includes an iSight camera built in.

Truth be told I have tech lust and I always want the newest and latest Apple thing. As soon as the iPod nano came out I began to think of how I could sell my less than year old mini to subsidize the purchase of a nano. Luckily my lust fades and I'm content with my mini and my three year old 600Mhz G3 12'' iBook, a relic in the Apple world.

On a kind of related note: As an avid podcast listener I am very excited to see how vidcasting evolves now that the iPod has video. I think its amazing how blogging, podcasting, and now vidcasting are evolving as mediums that everyone has access to. The flow of information and ideas astonishes me.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Joe, of Joe. My. God. , mentioned in a recent blog post that a topic du jour in the New York architect scene is the demolition of 2 Columbus Circle.

I admit that when I was a young lad this building confused me. As a child I had fawned over the Chrysler building and the Empire State building. Although unpopular because of their ultra modernistic minimalism, the Twin Towers of the World Trade center consumed my gaze as I would journey on the ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan. 2 Columbus Circle however remained an enigma. Joe, on his blog even mentioned that he thought it was an air shaft for the subway. I admit as a child that I had the same sentiment. It was just another old building on my way to the Lincoln Center for the annual Mostly Mozart festival.

Now that there is a debate as to whether or not this building should be renovated to give way to a new modern building, my ambiguity has faded. If this building is to be renovated so that another uninspiring glass rectangle is to go up in its place I say let it stand. Let it stand as a reminder that at point in time our nation was a place where progressive architecture was encouraged and appreciated. Its no Chrysler building but its sure better than most of the spartan, glass blocks going up in New York and far better than the planned development for the Ratner development in Brooklyn designed by the overexposed Frank Gehry; a jumble of buildings meant to look like they are falling. Very tasteful given the context of 9/11.

The last thing that needs to happen in New York is the deconstruction or original architecture when around the world unique and height defying skyscrapers are being erected. Although the New York skyline is iconic it is bordering on becoming antiquated by competition from cities like Hong Kong and Beijing. Its embarrassing that the city that gave birth to the grandiloquent skyscraper is now being populated by muddled or featureless boxes whilst modifying the structures that make it unique.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Gentleman
Deliberate Gentle Love Master (DGLMm)

    Steady & mature. You are The Gentleman.

    For anyone looking for an even-keeled, considerate lover, you're their man. You're sophisticated. You know what you want both in a relationship and outside of it. You have a substantial romantic side, and you're experienced enough sexually to handle yourself in that arena, too. Your future relationships will be long-lasting; you're classic "marrying material," a prize in the eyes of many.

    It's possible that behind it all, you're a bit of a male slut. Your best friends know that in relationships you're fundamentally sex-driven. You're a safe, reliable guy, who does get laid. In a lot of ways, you're like a well-worn, comfortable pair of socks. Did you ever jack off into one of those? All the time.

Your exact opposite:
The Last Man on Earth

Random Brutal Sex Dreamer
    Your ideal mate is NOT a nut-job. He is giving and loving, like you, but also experienced. Avoid the The False Messiah at all fucking costs.

CONSIDER: The Gentleman, someone just like you.

Link: The 32-Type Dating Test by OkCupid - Free Online Dating.
My profile name: claupacious

Technical Meltdowns and Revelations

So there were some issues with the sidebar on my blog and Internet Explorer. I fixed it now so it should work. If is doesn't please let me know. I didn't catch it before because everything looked fine in Firefox and Safari, the only browsers I care to use. I don't understand why in 2005 I have to deal with this kind of shit. I thought HTML was universal but apparently IE is too good for my blog the way it was before.

Brad has shown me something wonderful! Safari is RSS enabled and with it you can use it to view blogs you read often. Its fantastic because it puts all the blogs in the RSS feed with the most recently updated on top. Very convenient no more having to click through all my blog links. If y'all have Safari, or Firefox, try it out.

In other technical meltdowns, I had to get to work early today to start on some things that were time sensitive. I did not have time to get coffee and I realize now that without coffee in the morning I am completely useless. After I got my early morning tasks done I went to lab meeting and presented data. I must have sounded like a complete and utter moron while talking. I basically said, "Here's the data, the controls worked." The irony is that I had all of the meaninful observations and anomolies noted in my lab book that was right in front of me. Coffee or not I usually dont remember to look at my notes so at least that was normal.

Monday, October 10, 2005

How Long Must I Incubate?

A Picture Share!
Although I'm not new to research I'm still pretty new at my current job. Its only been two two months since I've started but it feels like a lot longer. When I was hired it seems like the position was going to be pretty demanding. I remember interviewing with the director of the institute and him saying how, "We work hard here." Now that I'm here I spend more time a week reading blogs and engaging in other web based procrastinations. Only its not procrastination. I sincerely have nothing to do. Its gotten to the point where I walk around asking people if I can help them with anything. Sometimes I wight that someone would come over to me while I'm surfing and out of principle assign me to some random task. No one seems to care enough, not enough to say anything. Most days I get so lost in the blogosphere that I'm shocked to see that it's five already.

Being such a far cry from my previous job I'm starting to develop feelings of guilt. I used to arrive at my old job a little before nine, take a quick swig of coffee, and not stop till about ten after five. Sometime I didn't even have time to take a lunch. Here I am now just sitting around and I get a memo today saying, "The director appreciates that long hard work that everyone does at the institute therefore he is giving everyone four days adjacent to the Christmas holiday for us all to take off without using paid time off." I know you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth but I feel kind of guilty.

Research isn't exactly the most faced paced environment though. It usually comes in fits and starts. Some days you're doing a million things at once and other days you're just sitting around waiting for things to gestate. I guess I should just relax, take it all in stride. Im sure in a few months I'll be bitching about how busy I am at work.

You're Uninvited

Today at the gym a man was waiting next to me while I was finishing up my lest set on the leg press. I got off and told him that I was finished. "Its all yours," I said. He proceeded to talk but I couldn't hear him. I couldn't hear him because my iPod was playing and I have noise reducing headphones exactly for the purpose that I don't want to hear him. I was forced to do something that really bothers me, pause my iPod and leave my happy work out zone to listen to what this man had to say.

"I think you're locking you're legs too much when you extend, it puts extra stress on the ligaments," he said. I politely said thanks and started to walk away then he started again, "Plus I noticed that you just leave a lot of weight on when you do your sets. You should really start heavy and then decrease your weight." I tried very hard to remain acquiescent and said thank you and walked away grinding my teeth while reinserting my noise reducing headphones into my ears and turning up the volume on my iPod as much as I could stand.

I hate to sound like a jackass but I think its important to inform you readers that this man was in no position, nor physical condition, to be offering such advice. Furthermore, I think its rather odd that this man took note of my entire leg press workout and found something to say about it. Thanks for the critique but unsolicited advice is not welcome unless you happen to be a title bearing professional body builder. Even then I'll be a bit leary. If I ever see this man devouring a cheeseburger I'll be sure to give him some pointers on how to best to get the food from the plate into his mouth efficiently.

A prince nevertheless should always take counsel, but only when he wants it, and not when others wish to thrust it upon him; in fact, he should rather discourage persons from tendering him advice unsolicited by him. But he should be an extensive questioner, and a patient listener to the truth respecting the things inquired about, and should even show his anger in case any one should, for some reason, not tell him the truth.
- Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1513), chapter XXIII, How to Avoid Flatterers

Sorry for the two negative posts. I promise I'll have something nice to say soon.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Honestly, we're straight!

Trophy Boys

I found this blog via another blog. It is the work of two men that were on the VH1 show "Kept." The show centered around Jeri Hall and her search for the perfect American Man that she could mold into a proper kept man. These two yutzs were on the show. They spent endless amounts of time in front of mirrors checking their bad selves. In fact when they were booted off the show by Jeri they claimed that she had poor taste and that she would be begging them to go out one day. Keep in mind Jeri Hall was companion to men such as Bryan Ferry, Mick Jagger, and Sean Connery.

In short, these secret fags were so full of themselves, and their masculine charms, that it made for highly entertaining TV. Their heterosexuality is about as real as their careers. Now they have a highly entertaining blog named Trophy Boys (it needs no comment). They chronicle their exploits working the lackluster reality TV celebrity circuit and meeting other wastes of biomass. Here they are pictured with another deluded self-obsessed train wreck, Kathy Griffin.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Visit To The Suburbs

A Picture Share!
Tonight was great fun. Brad, me and our friend Kim all took a trip out to the burbs for some good ol' Texas fun. Although I despise the burbs I sometimes like to venture out on the weekends. I always feel refreshed when we drive back home and I remember why I like living in the city. It was that and the fact that the downtown area where I live had been overrun by UT and OU fans for the annual Texas-OU showdown a the Cotton Bowl at Fair Park.

We drove out to the north-west of downtown Dallas. Past DFW airport where microcosms of cities are defined by the evenly placed clusters of chain restaurants, big box retail stores, and car dealerships. Our first destination: Chili's. Chili's is one of my favorite places to go when I visit the burbs. It is here that you can get a tasty and reliable meal and dine with the locals. Its always fun to observe their customs.

Tonight was special. We noticed a pack of three girls emerge from the restroom all in modest dresses. The one on the middle had a dazzling array of glittering fake diamonds around her neck and ears. It was obviously the night of their homecoming dance and their dates took them to Chili's. We all agreed the scene was pathetic and depressing.

We continued to observe other local color and enjoyed our Jose Cuervo margaritas. Brad ordered a large blue specialty margarita and proclaimed, "Its so hard to drink these things without looking like a queer." What else can a grown man look like while drinking a blue margarita out of a oversized martini glass? Our food came and it is my custom to always tease Kim about her picky eating habits. She usually responds with some comment about how she tries to broaden her horizons but tonight her response was, "Shut up. You dont know about the things that I eat!" She said it kind of loud and we all looked around to see if anyone else heard and then burst out laughing ourselves.

A Picture Share!

After we finished our meal we headed to our next destination: The Main Event (TME). TME is a giant arcade, bowling, pool hall, laser tag place. On our way over to TME we drove by an Olive Garden. Out of it streamed more pubescent teenagers dressed in semi formal wear no doubt headed to their homecoming dance in the school gym. We walked into the giant box and the odor of rented bowling shoes and the sounds of 80s pop filled the air. It was a nice change from the uptight scene of the downtown set. We reservered a lane and got to bowling. It wasnt long before the fluorescent lighting went down and the black lights and strobes got going. We were fully immersed in one of suburbias most treasured Staurday night festivites, Cosmic Bowling.
A Picture Share!
After our exertions on the bowling alley we turned our attentions to the arcade. After several games of air hockey and ski ball we decided we had our fill of suburban nightlife. We took our points that we had earned from ski ball over to the counter and cashed them in for a green hackey sack with a frog's face on it, our consolation prize for having blown $10 on cheap thrills. After attemping to display our hackey sack abilities we decided to make our way to the car and get back to the Big D.

Peer Gynt and Other Disasters

Last night was surreal. I opted to not go to the gym and came home and crashed for an hour or so. Brad woke me up and we went out to go see a play at the Meadows School for the Arts. On our way to the play we had to stop to get something to eat. Our usual fast casual places were overrun with Texas and OU people in town for the game today at the Cotton Bowl.

We were forced to eat McDonalds in our car on the way to the theatre. It was the first time in I dont know how long I ate the stuff. I had the chicken selects. I have to say their neither resembled chicken nor any kind of selectivity.

We arrived at the theatre on time and got into our seats. Shortly after we sat down an older Indian couple came up to us and said we were in their seats. It was impossible since an usher had shown us to our seats and she clearly read our tickets. We double checked and the tickets were identical. While the Indian man went to the ticket office to settle the matter his wife sat next to me and began telling me how they had been going to the Meadows productions for over 30 years. I hate to be rude but I didnt want to hear it.

The play was terrible. It was an adaptation of Ibsen's Peer Gynt. The childhood, middle age, and old age and eventual death of a man searching for his self. The production was horrid, so many bad choices. One of them included the bright Idea of playing the song "Desert Rose" by Sting to indicate that one of the scenes was set in Morocco. You know the song, its the one with the man howling in tongues but he sounds like a middle eastern woman. While this song played, which I loathe along with all other things Sting, they had the female company out on stage belly dancing for what seemed like an eternity.

Bad theatre is so exhausting.

Friday, October 07, 2005

When NOT To Take It Up The Ass

This article is utter bullshit. Its right up there with the article in the Dallas Voice about how Chris Bell would protect the rights of gay Texans because he's against the federal marriage amendment. Thats another story.

Dallas Gay Leaders OK Miers Pick

This article was brought to my attention by a friend who emailed it to me because she found it on America Blog. I responded to the post on America Blog with:

Okay I live in Dallas and I amd gay and I am quite aware of who the "Gay Dallas Leaders" are and none of these names are familiar to me. Who dredged up these log-cabin self-hating fags? The republican party is so adept at deception, we should all know this by now. They retain people of every race, color, creed, and sexual orientation so that when they need them at the appropriate time they wind them up and have them spew their bullshit all over the crowd and make us content by standing in their vomit by crying compassion and moderation.

Upon further investigation I have found that Chris Luna ran in a Dallas City council election in which he faked his home address because he was running against a prominant Dallas Democrat, Medrano.

Craig McDaniel is another nobody in the Dallas gay leadership scene and his opinion is hardly worthy of the headline.
“She certainly knows I’m gay,” Luna said. “She wrote a glowing letter of recommendation for me to the Texas Bar Association.” Wow Craig! My mom always said that I was a really good painter. Maybe my fingerpaintings should be in the Louvre!

"Former council member Craig Holcomb said Miers seemed comfortable when he and his partner encountered her at civic and political events.
“She was always very nice to us as a couple and did not seem to feel awkward or anything,” Holcomb said." Im sure before the Nazi's started erradicating Jews in Europe they were able to appear comfortable around them. I can appear comfortable around people I despise too, its called ACTING!!

"“When she has made the wrong decision she has no problem in doing a 180 and saying ‘I’ve learned more, and now I understand more about the facts,’” Luna said." Oh is flip flopping "in" this November with the Republicans? I seem to remember that last November there was some issue with Flip Floppers.

If you want me to like this devil in a blue dress then she is going to have to come out and say that she does not think that discriminitory language belongs in the constitution and that civil marriage is a civil right. This article is a piece of shit and the "leaders" they have chosen to interview are anything but that. I dont remember seeing these prominent leaders participating in the 2005 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and Rally so how can they be tagged as such when they didnt participate in the most important event in the Dallas gay community.

I am now convinced that there is a conspiracy to make Miers appear as if she is moderate. This is done by #1 the radical right PRETENDING like they dont like her and #2 getting gay people and black people to say that she "might not be that bad."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Disposable Disposability

There are always interesting and often perplexing items in the trash at our apartment building. We live in a part of town where the residents range from liberal gen-Xers, conservative gen-Xers, young neocons, gay preps, and empty nest baby boomers. No matter what classification one might be they all seem to throw away perfectly good items. Furniture, pots, pans, personal pictures, clothes have all graced our dumpster. It would be quite possible to modestly furnish and equip a small apartment with the items left behind at our dumpster.

The latest additions could no doubt be brought to the graveyard by a gay man. Yesterday morning my partner walked down the stairwell to the garage to find the top of the dumpster covered with old gay porn magazines and next to the dumpster, a box of old tapes. He neglected to tell me until we were in bed that night so the next morning I bounded down the stairs to document the excrement but all that was left was the box of tapes that I've captured.

As the day went on I had been thinking a lot about the picture I took. Most of the tapes were in perfect condition, still in their jackets, and fully equipped with their booklets. How could someone throw away perfectly good tapes? Has our culture become so disposable that we don' think twice about throwing away perfectly good items?

Then I realized that they were tapes and that the days of the walkman have been replaced by iPods and downloadable music.

I contemplated the picture again and it a wave of melancholy came over me. I remembered how it felt when I got a new tape. One of the first things I did after getting through the impregnable plastic wrapping was open the box and pull out he sleeve and look at the pictures of the artist or band I had just purchased. It felt like I owned a part of them.

Gone is the tactile sensation of getting new music. The only thing that could closely resemble the feeling is the abstract satisfaction of the "click" when iTunes asks me if I'm sure I want to make the purchase and I choose yes. There's no CD or tape, no booklet with pictures of the artist or band.

I went back and rescued some of the inserts from a selection of the albums: Tina Turner, Morrissey, KD Lang, Duran Duran, and New Order. In some odd and post-modern way I was reliving days gone by spent with my sister parousing the aisles of Tower Records. After all it was only the inserts that mattered. What would I do with a tape?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Longing for psychotropic substances and sleep

Today was rough for me. Lately my sleep has been very shallow and I wake up feeling as if I had just gone to bed.

I have been hankering for a taste of the MJ but I know my indulgence would be ruined by paranoia brought on of thoughts of my employer suddenly doing a random and unprecedented drug test on me. Then I'd be forced to go to some diversion program led by someone that has cutesy pins attached to their employee ID badge with sophomoric words of wisdom like "Hang in There." The thought of having to sit in a room where the carpet runs up the walls is enough to squelch my desire. Sometimes I wish I had a senseless disposable job in retail or some other banal service industry.

After watching the latest episode of Transgeneration I've decided that my trannie name would be Alexis.

In other trans news: Jeff Gannon, the USMC Personal Trainer/Escort/Conservative Pundit Whitehouse Journalist, has gotten really fat and ugly. He is scheduled to have 95% of his brain removed to make the final step in his transformation to a Republican.

"I can literally remember what he was wearing: an Air National Guard flight jacket, cowboy boots, bulletins, complete with the-in Texas you see it a lot-one of the back pockets will have a circle worn in the pocket from where you carry your tin of snuff, your tin of tobacco. He was exuding more charisma than any one individual should be allowed to have."
-Karl Rove on meeting George W. Bush for the first time in 1973

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


CNN is regularly on the screens at my gym in the evening. At the time I am usually there they have CNN Headline News on with the gem of a show, Nancy Grace.

Tonight's riveting topic: Natalee Halloway. Yes the 18 year old middle class, god fearing, white girl who went away on her senior trip to Aruba and never returned. Day 172.

At first glance I wasnt at all interested but I could not resist after reading the captions on and off for a couple of minutes.

I cannot believe the mother of this girl. She is so convinced that her daughter was the most precious and perfect angel on the face of the earth. Mrs. Halloway was going on and on about how her daughter was a dedicated dancer in HS and how she never drank and that she obviously must have been led astray by the evil Dutch boy, Joran Van Der Sloot. Lets get real mom. Your daughter was 18 years old going away on her first trip alone to Aruba. We've all seen Girls Gone Wild. We all know what white, middle-class, American girls do when they go on vacation with their friend to Rocky Point, Cancun, or Aruba. Perhaps Natalee wasn't just hanging on the beach working on her tan while reading the bible like she told her mom she would be doing. Perhaps Natalee was grinding her newly legal ass into some Dutch boy crotch with a long island iced tea in one hand and a tequila sunrise in the other.

This wasnt nearly the best part though. Nancy Grace cued the producers and on the screen was an interview with the Dutch suspect, Joran Van Der Sloot. The reporter was asking him all kinds of questions about Natalee but the best part was when the "jelly shots" were mentioned. At the mention of jelly shots the reporter quickly asked Joran to explain what jelly shots are. Joran began to explain that Natalee laid down on the bar and put the jelly cocktail on her bare stomach and he slurped it off. Thats fucking investigative journalism right there. Now that everyone knows what jelly shots are we now have far more insight into this mystery.

Again Natalee's mom was shocked to hear that her daughter would be behaving in such activities and insisted that Joran was a fork tongued, pot smoking, Dutch rapscallion. (Cue the photos of Natalee).

Ultimately the message of all this bullshit is: Young white middle class girls are our most precious commodity and must be protected at all costs and any man, that isnt her husband, that is suspected of deflowering our nations future mothers must be publicly humiliated and are guilty until proven innocent; especially foreigners from ultra liberal pot smoking nations and black men.

In other news 500 black women have been reported missing from their homes in various parts of the nation. Police say they were involved with drugs and got involved with the wrong crowd.

Almost Famous? Not even close.

In this post-modern era it is possible to make a fine living off of the husk of a once successful showbiz career like many of the has beens and never weres that can be seen on television. Thanks to Ronald Reagan's trailblazing efforts fallen idols like Danny Bonaduce, Kathy Griffin, Kirstie Alley, and past present and future cast members of The Surreal Life have hope for their lackluster careers.

With the advances in modern plastic prosthesis and the progressive efforts of the nations leading plastic surgeons, you can now make a comfortable living impersonating celebrities, hasbeens, and the never weres.


I have to add that I find great amusement that the name of the talent manager is Mulligan Management. For those of you that arent familiar with golf terminology a mulligan is defined as, "a second shot permitted without penalty."

Monday, October 03, 2005

Rome: Then and Now

HBO's new series Rome had some amusing lines in its most recent episode.

After watching her son play fight with a Roman Legionary and remarking on his handsomeness while fighting she proclaims:
"If Ceasar were to see you now he'd put you on his staff immediately."

Atia again taunts her son and his bookishness, urging him into manhood:
"I swear if you don't penetrate someone today I will take your vile books and burn them in the square."

Atia, attempting to make good with an influential Roman woman whom she crossed tries to make good by sending her the gift of man. Her daughter protests at the gift to which she responds:
"Nonsense! Large penis is always welcome!"

Here Here!

I just now realized that all these lines are from the character of Atia. Tongue in cheek humor aside this show is really well done. I enjoy it greatly.

And in modern day Rome....

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Washington

Here is some more quotes that I think we should be aware of. Information about Miers is going to come largely from her tenure in the Dallas City Council and other public offices in Texas.

I have to modify my stance from my earlier blog post. I think this woman is a trojan horse. Her credentials are lacking and her affiliations with the administration are far too close. This nomination is a farce. I know that one need not be a judge before becoming a Supreme Court Justice but you had damn well be a superb lawyer who is distinguished in rulings and writings. Miers' past is neither superb nor distinguished but certainly dubious and clandestine, qualities unbecoming for a guardian of our democracy.

Dont Abort. Sell!

Many luxury cars in Dallas bear a bumper sticker with this image on it. The bumper sticker is this image but flanking it is "We (Heart with children inside it) Kids." In effect, we love kids. The odd thing is that below that it says "Salesmanship Club of Dallas." This sticker perplexes me for three reasons.

#1 The sticker and image have an oddly pedophilic overtone.

#2 What does salesmanship have to do with loving children?

#3 All of the children depicted are white and from a 1950's Stepford Utopia.

Who are you? Who Who. Who Who.

I have no idea what to think of Harriet Miers. I cannot tell if this is a shrewd political move, more outright cronyism, or just plain stupidity. This woman is accomplished but not so much as to earn her a nomination to the highest court in the nation. We'll just have to see how this plays out. I'm sure there will be more on her background as the week progresses.

Two things about her bother me: She was a retained Bush attorney before she ever held any office and her legal background is in litigation for corporations like Microsoft and Disney. If those are her credentials that she's hoping to ride on I cannot see how that can translate into qualifications for being able to interpret the constitution.

Although, it might be a good thing that she doesn't have any judicial experience. Perhaps she might offer a fresh perspective?

Clarence Thomas is to Antonin Scalia as Harriet Mier is to John Roberts? Lets hope not!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Machiavellian Black Comedy

Last night Brad and I continued our pattern of watching a movie that he had never seen before and I thought was a must a must see. The selection was "In The Company of Men."

Here is another movie that when I watched it when I was younger I liked it but I did not get the same appreciation as an adult viewer. What at a terrific movie. I highly recommend it to all. Its not something that you might want to see over and over again but it definitely should be seen at least once.

The portrayal of the American businessman machismo is alluring and repelling at the same time. The viewer is disgusted by the mind games but drawn in by some anthropologic hunger to watch more. You feel sorry for the beta male character, Howard, but at the same time loathe him for his inability to separate himself from the preprogrammed moires of american capitalist masculinity.

The movie's crowning glory is Aaron Eckhart's performance as the ruthless and vicious Chad. What an amazingly despicable character. You have to give credit to the writer for this character because everything that is disgusting about this man is in his language. His tongue is far more forked than that of Shakespeare's most evil villain, Iago.

Some of my favorite quotes from the film are:

"You know if we were in India you could burn that fiance of yours on a pyre in the middle of the village square for what she did to you."
"I get so used to saying what people want to hear I forget sometimes they might just want the truth."
"Women. Nice ones, the most frigid of the race, it doesn't matter in the end. Inside they're all the same meat and gristle and hatred just simmering."

And my very favorite is when Chad is in bed with his girlfriend at the end of the movie and he is feeling so self satisfied for destroying two peoples lives. His girlfriend said she heard voices in the other room but Chad says it was him practicing a presentation for work and he says to her, "You know me, once I get going working I can sound just about like anyone." Watch the movie and you'll see why that line is so great.