Wednesday, December 31, 2003

I said SIT, bitches!

Since I'm always off work on Wednesdays and Thursdays, I always end up camped in front of the TV for a couple of hours. But since I don't have cable, I always end up watching PBS. Over the past couple of months, I've become obsessed with Sit and Be Fit.

The host, Mary Ann Wilson, was just kicking ass today. I'm not sure what got into her, but the routine she was running didn't strike me as overly approriate for people in the later stages of their lives. I kept expecting the senior citizens she has on stage with her to clutch their chests and fall out of their supportive but comfortable chairs.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

My Dad Created the Universe and All I Got Was This Lousy Holiday Celebrated in My Name

I'm having a different kind of Christmas Eve this year.

Growing up, my family went to church every Christmas Eve, where my brother and I sang in the choir (our children's choir rocked, but our bell choir left something to be desired: a bit heavy on the showtunes). I loved the ritual and pagentry of the Christmas Eve service, and everything leading up to it inflamed my holiday spirit to Osmond proportions.

In college, I worked in retail, so the Christmas holidays tended to be hectic, if not downright homicidal. I usually didn't get to go to church with my family, but that was okay. Maybe it's growing up in a capitalistic society, but I loved watching Christmas decorations going up around the mall, and I even loved Christmas music (except for Kenny G and the Beach Boys: some people were not meant to spread Christmas cheer). My favorite part, though was driving home late on Christmas Eve, then sneaking around while my family was asleep, wrapping presents and sticking them under the tree, filling stockings, and running the dishwasher (clean plates for my mom in the morning!).

The last year had really done a number on my Christmas spirit (working for a church and then getting fired tends to kill off appreciation for the religious aspects of holidays), and while I'm back in retail, the only Christmas cds we play in the store are Rupaul's "Ho Ho Ho," the Go Go Boys' "Homo for the Holidays" and some crap from Linda Eder. So as of yet, no warm fuzzy holiday feelings to speak of.

But here's my plan. I'm going to pick Jack up from work, and we're going up to Helios for the weekly Wednesday night reading. Sarah's hosting, and she's promised to bring surrealist word games. While I won't be in church or with my family, I'll have surrounded myself with an extended family of my own choosing, and celebrating this holiday season through appreciation of poetic expression.

Can't think of a better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Is He old enough to drink yet? Cuz I bought Him a brew-your-own beer kit.

Happy Yule from the Zoo.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

And now... haiku (or senryu. Whichever.)

Things I Learned at Age Eighteen

Truck drivers belong
to the open road. I am
not an open road.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Slamming and Squashing and Slamming

I won a poetry slam last night. Granted, this in itself is not headline-breaking news, but it's a small, personal victory. I've competed in a number of slams, made the finals round in some, and usually placed second or third. Which was cool. I've never touted myself as a "slam poet," and while I do admire those who are, it's just not the genre where I do my best work.

Except I won. I cut loose, held nothing back, and remembered all the words (an important element to efficient slam, I'm told). Mainly, I just had much much fun. The coach of the Houston Slam Team said encouraging things about my work, though, and later on in the evening this friend of mine named Scott (an extremely talented poet and phyisically well put together young lad) told me that a poem I wrote a while back about my grandpa's funeral was one of his favorite poems ever.

Compliments like that are even better when they come from a guy who could probably squash a grapefruit with his bicep.

Yeah, a good night all around.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Those five little words

This past Saturday, Sarah and I went up to the Laff Stop to see our friend Robin perform. He's getting wildly popular around town: people have been screaming "Moon Wars!" (one of his best bits) at him where ever he goes, and he's even managed to attract a little gaggle of groupies. He doesn't seem too thrilled about that, though. After the show, whenever one of these girls would hug him, he'd shoot me this pained, uncomfortable glance, and then he'd go hug Sarah.

The headliner that night was ex-SNL cast member Kevin Nealon, and I begged Robin to introduce me. Usually, I'm not too big on meeting famous people, but Kevin Nealon is a representative of the pop culture of my childhood. I asked Robin to help me come up with witty things to say to him, so that he'd remember me and maybe tell all his friends about me; Robin's response was, "Just don't get superdrunk." In retrospect, sage advice.

After the show, Kevin Nealon was hanging out in the bar, chatting with people and munching on Kettle Chips. Robin ushered me over and said, "Kevin, this is my friend [Evn]." "Nice to meet you," Kevin said, then "Would you like a potato chip?" I wasn't that hungry, but how often does one get offered food from Mr. Subliminal? between bites, I admitted that I wasn't very familiar with his stand-up, but had admired his work in movies for years.

"Really?" he asked, eyebrows up.

"I loved you in Jeffrey" I said, mentioning a film that came out about ten years ago, in which he played a telelvision reporter covering a gay pride parade. His part in the movie lasted about three minutes.

"Wow!" he said. This look of surprise washed over his face, and he almost dropped his bag of Kettle Chips. "I can't believe anyone remembers me from that film," he continued. "It was a great opportunity, though, and I really enjoyed it. That's so cool that you saw it. Hey, what say we go grab a couple of beers? Victoria Jackson and Jon Lovitz are in town, so let's go meet up with them..." That is, he would have said all these things had two of Robin's groupies not swept in and started trying to flirt with him.

But he really did say "Wow!" and look all shocked and surprised when I mentioned Jeffrey.

Those Kettle Chips, though. Tastee.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Hair Today, Shaved Tomorrow

I just got my hair cut, which for me is a major event: I'll get a flattop or high-and-tight, and then grow it out for four or five months, and then get it cut again. I don't know why I'm so weird about this. Everyone I know is, like, "Oh my GOD! I haven't had a haircut/been to my stylist/fixed my new growth in TWO WEEKS! Can you BELIEVE IT?!" And I'm standing there looking like an extra on That Seventies Show.

For some unknown reason, stylists don't listen to me. I'd try all these different hair salons, barbershops, even this place downtown that shaves heads for $3, but no matter where I'd go, the hair-cutting-person wouldn't do what I asked.

Hair-Cutting-Person: "And what are we doing today?"

Me: "Just a caesar cut, thanks."

HCP: "Hmmm. No."

Me: "Um, excuse me?"

HCP: "You can't wear a ceasar. Not with the shape of this head."

Me: "But the last person who cut my hair said that a caesar looked really good on me." (ed. note: I have no idea what I actually asked for when I ended up with a caesar cut. Probably a mullet or something.)

HCP: "That 'stylist' was obviously on drugs. Let's see what happens when we feather it..."

So yeah, not too keen on the haircuts. However, I've recently discovered this old-fashioned barbershop, where everyone leaves looking like Johnny Unitus. I popped in there yesterday, and got my hair chopped into a cross between marine recruit and leatherman. So now I won't have to mess with it for months. Happy, happy me...

On a vaguely homoerotic side note:
I was talking to one of the hosts at Helios last night, planning out next week's feature, and in the middle of discussing the pros and cons of slam poetry, he said, "You have a beautifully shaped head."

Take that, wouldn't-give-me-a-ceasar-cut lady.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Home for the Hellidays

I so freakin' hate the Holidays. I used to love this time of year, but for an odd reason: I worked in retail (more specifically, I worked in a mall), and I just fed off of the extended hours, the hordes of customers, 24-hour-a-day Christmas carols... loved it loved it loved it.

Things have changed dramatically, though. I spent last year's holiday season working for a church, getting thrown into a position I never really got trained for and dealing with people I didn't gel with (except for my proofreader. She was and is a diva. I'm thinking of writing her in during the next presidential election). On top of that mess, I had to try to coordinate visits between my boyfriend and my family: I was allowed to bring Jack home for Thanksgiving, but not Christmas. Therefore, I spent Christmas morning at home with Jack, and then dashed across town to spend a few hours with my parents, before zooming back home for dinner with Jack. In trying to make everyone happy, I managed to make everyone feel slightly abandonded and myself miserable.

I'm not sure how I'm going to handle things this year. Jack's and my good buddy Brook is going to be in town by himself this year, and has invited Jack over for Christmas day, in case my family isn't comfortable with him coming over. But then, I don't get to spend time with him, but I do get to spend some time with my family, who'll be pissed when I book back downtown instead of staying over, so argh. Bleh. Humbug.

Next year, I swear I am going to spend the holidays at an agrarian Celtic-style monastery in Arkansas (there really is one there, outside of Eureka Springs: "Eureka! Springs!"), and on Christmas day, I'll exchange small, tasteful presents with the monks before whiling away the afternoon with contemplative prayer and self-flagellation. Then my parents will invite Jack over, if only because my mom always makes too much food, and they'll bond and be happy.

Do monastery kitchens make dietary exceptions for vegetarians? Hmmm... perhaps I should pack some boca burgers and energy bars, just in case...

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Crazy like a Network

Despite my general loathing for all things Reality TV, I watched The Simple Life tonight, and I have to say it is so much fun laughing at rich people. I know that's what Fox wants. I know this show is nothing more than an opportunity for viewers to make fun of spoiled celebrities and redneck yokels. I know I am quickly becoming one of the slack-jawed masses. I don't care. Nicole Richie with cowshit on her face was priceless.

The way I figure it, if I've managed to go this long without getting trapped in the sticky, sticky web of reality television (I am happy to say that I have never watched "American Idol" or anything involving bachelorettes, and I have yet to understand who Trista and Ryan are or why I should care about their wedding), I can watch a couple of rich girls milk cows. Right? Right?!? Oh God, I'm caving to pop culture, aren't I?

*sigh*

Next week, Paris Hilton dances all sexy at a honky tonk. Nobody call me on Wednesday night.

Look Who's Talking Again

Whoah. Kind of weird to be writing in this format again. So much has happened (cliché!) since the last time I bothered to make an entry back in... when? August? That sounds about right. Guess I'll just start from the top:

I got fired from the Cathedral, which was actually a good thing, since I was miserable and hating life and cursing God every morning when the alarm went off. Overall, the Episcopal Church is a beneficial force in the world today, but I was not happy with the part I was playing in it.

Even though I hated the job, getting fired is not a fun, happy thing. What I really wanted to do was crawl into bed, watch cable and pretty much hide from everyone and everything, but that usually doesn't solve too much, so I wallowed in self pity for a week, and then went back to Lobo, this gay bookstore/coffeeshop/discount porn outlet I used to work at when I was in grad school. My job is to sell the porn. And it's odd, but working there has done wonders for my self-esteem. I'm feeling needed, and good at what I do, and so what that I'm only making retail hourly wages. It's fun, dammit, and I wasn't getting enough fun.

I am still looking for more gainful, less porn-riddled employment, and I've had a couple of interviews with communications outsourcing firms, but I'm still waiting to hear back from them. I'm not worried, though. I've got a cash flow, and I'm learning to budget, so I'm comfortable and slowly learning to relax.

Oh yeah, and I stopped eating meat. I'm not really sure what brought this on, but I just started craving soy protein and salads. Jack took this reasonably well, but was a little concerned, mainly because he's had some bad run-ins with vegetarians in the past (Wendy Wilson of Wilson Phillips once called him a murderer at a tony Austin restaurant), but once I assured him that I wasn't going to force him to stop eating pork rinds, he was happy. So now, I'm vegetarian and he's on the Atkins diet. We're just the wackiest neighbors ever.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Of the two non-profts, my favorite is...

The best part about my job is the people... for example, the three people who have to approve any project I complete. Three people with wildly different tastes and design ideas. I'll add a bunch of edits to a particular project and turn in a draft, only to have one supervisor change everything back, then have a different supervisor change all THAT back, etc. etc. It's a vicious circle. A vicious Episcopal circle.

On a happy note, Sarah and I managed to get the first part of one of our radio plays produced. Robin Weinburgh, the Funniest Stand-Up Comedian We Know Personally (tm), read one of the characters, and was just amazing. We're looking to have the entire piece produced and ready to go on Tuesday evening, and then we can move on to our opus, "BBC World Service Turrette's Syndrome News Hour."

Thursday, July 31, 2003

I'm a Host, and He's a Feature

So hosting went really well last night. I was given an official "spot": 4th Wednesday of every month. I've never had a "spot" before. I feel very arrived.

Sarah and I are planning a trip to Austin next week to see our favorite comedian, Robin Weinburg, perform. This is Robin's first feature: the venue booked a hotel room for him any everything. When he found out that Sarah and I were coming to see him, he offered to share his room with us so that we wouldn't have to pay for accommodations. I so hope he gets famous one day, so that I can tell people I slept on his floor.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Alice Has Two Daddies

Only a few major flubs/missed entrances/et al at the show this weekend, and none of them my fault, so that's a nice feeling. After Sunday's matinee, a bunch of us went for pizza, where the director shared various compliments heaped upon him by the audience. Apparently, I have "very nice facial expressions during the dinner party scene." A resounding round of applause for my facial expressions.

Lee, an old friend of mine whom I used to work for in college, came to the show, and remarked to the director, "Hey, I think Mr. Sycamore's gay. Ha ha ha..." This is Lee's Favorite Joke in the Whole World. I could win the Nobel Peace Prize, and Lee would show up at the awards ceremony and go, "Hey, I think that guy giving the acceptance speech is gay. Ha ha ha..." It really shouldn't bother me that badly: after all, I'm pretty much the only gay guy most of my friends know. But it gets old sometimes. Like when I'm trying to be recognized for some kind of artistic endeavor, and all anyone can say is "You sure are gay. Ha ha ha..."

I shouldn't blame Lee: like a lot of straight men, he sometimes gets insecure when it comes to his self-image, like he's got to reaffirm that he is All Man to whatever audience he's facing. I just wish it wasn't so often at my expense.

I used to be highly anti-separatist when it came to the gay community, especially when confronted with gay guys who acted or felt superior to straight people. Sometimes, though, I totally understand the inclination. It's like, why should I bother pandering to straight people who're going to keep me around as the butt of their tired jokes, when I could go back to Lobo (a gay bookstore/coffee shop where I used to work) and immerse myself in an environment where sexuality (at least, mine) isn't an issue?

If anything, I'm sure I'll get a couple of decent poems out of this.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Right Angles

When I was flunking
geometry, my mother
told me to stop dreaming
about girls, and start focusing
on school.

So I stopped dreaming
about girls, and started focusing
on the football players.

I ended up passing
geometry. I figured out
the right angle.

The Shadow Knows

So I've been hanging out at KPFT (Houston's Pacifica Radio affiliate), working on their upcoming Radio Theatre Project, and had two scripts accepted for production. I wasn't sure how my stuff would go over, since I've never written for this medium before, but they really liked my work. Now, Sarah and I have got to cast, direct and produce one of them; and, like the impetuous little goobers we are, we volunteered to produce another show called "Super Saver," adapted from an old BBC radio theatre program, in which Sarah and I are featured. I'm loving the experience, but I'm thinking next time I get involved in a project like this, I'm going to try to wrangle a paycheck out of it (now go support your local public radio station).

Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Hostess with the Mostest

Went to Helios last night, read new stuff, received applause. Fiarly standard, except that at the end of the evening, the host announced that I was going to start hosting next week, and everyone cheered. Big ol' boost to the ego, that.

My buddy Howard Michael was last night's spotlight poet, and he read a series of themed poems "What it would sound like if various other poets had written William Carlos Williams' 'The Red Wheelbarrow.'" We are talking classic comedic and literary entertainment, people. In the Edgar Allen Poe version, the protagonist trips over a wheelbarrow and has his eyes pecked out by chickens... in verse. Brilliant brilliant brilliant.

I think I'm going to write a "Red Wheelbarrow" poem about Sarah Crowder: "I get it now / I know what I am / A wheelbarrow / A red wheelbarrow / For you to carry the things you want planted / All over your frickin' farm / And then you'll leave out in the rain, / Forgotten and rusty / Which one of us is more full of chickenshit?"

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Horton Hears a Sue

There's a 4-piece funk and jazz band in Ann Arbor, MI, called "Roadside Zoo." I was fairly freaked out when I discovered this, seeing as how I thought calling my web site "Roadside Zoo" was incredibly original, until I looked at their web site, roadsidezoomusic.com. Turns out, they got together long after I put up my site; looks like I even swiped the domain they wanted. You gotta be quick around up sensitive poet types.

I feel kind of bitchy saying this, but I totally understand why bands get sued over their names (i.e. "'Nickelback' is a registered trademark of our senior's investor club!" or some such). At the same time, I don't want to squelch anyone else's artistic sensibilities, so I'll just pout. That makes everything better.

Jack suggested that maybe I inspired the name, like, maybe they were sifting through the internet and thought, "wow, that would be a great name for a four-piece funk and jazz band. I think I'll start one! Hey, who wants to be in a band called Roadside Zoo...?" For the sake of my paranoia, I'll just go with that. I like the idea of being a muse.

Right now I'm istening to the music of Visudo, the composer/producer who wants to work with me on a spokenword album. His work is really, really cool: my goal now is to self-produce the album, and then send it out as a demo to a couple of independent record labels and see what happens. I know it's unrealistic, but I relish the thought of Ani DiFranco sitting in her living room, listening to my poetry and thinking, "Hmmmm... I think I'll call this guy up and offer him several thousand dollars and a recording contract..."

Speaking of contracts, I finally got a manuscript submission together and fired it off to Manic D Press. I called their offices to find out who their poetry editor was, and was told by an incredibly friendly secretary, "Oh, just address it to Manic D. No big deal." Lawd, I hope they like me. If I end up published by the same company that puts out Justin Chin, my heart will swell and my head will explode.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Compliments and Curtain Calls

"You Can't Take it With You" opened this weekend, to rave reviews... okay, we kind of sucked, but it turns out many memebers of the cast are skilled at covering other people's flubs, so the show ran smoothly regardless. We had a matinee yesterday, with an audience of senior citizens. They didn't clap until the curtain call, and they didn't react to anything that was happening on stage. I kept thinking, "C'mon guys, this play was written when you were all teenagers! You should at least get the jokes!" Next time I'm on stage and the audience doesn't clap at the end of an act, I'm going to wait until the blackout and then start clapping like crazy, just to nudge the audience in the right direction.

Oh yeah, the big freakin' compliment: My friend Morgan, who I've known ever since she was a freshman in college, told me last night that when she first met me, she had a huge crush on me. Morgan is gorgeous, talented, intelligent, independent... while I am perfectly happy with my sexual orientation/determination/whatever we're calling it these days, it's nice to know that if I ever jumped the fence, I'd have a really cool girlfriend.


Speaking of Morgan, her boyfriend (also gorgeous and talented: if they ever get married and have kids, they'll become the Partridge Family) gave me a CD of various electronic songs he'd composed. I'd made a comment to him a while back that I wanted to put out a spokenword CD with electronic music behind it, and apparently, he's very interested in the project. His music rocks, too: ranges from calm and ambient to toe-tapping, x-dropping mayhem. I was running poems in my head along to his music and thought, "Wow, this could really work."

AND, on top of that, on Saturday I laid down vocal tracks for a local radio station's upcoming Radio Theatre Project, and was invited to come write and direct for the project. While none of this is making me any money, my name's going to be all over Houston. And not just on restroom walls and stall doors...

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Drag, Drama or Dairy... they're all Queens

"You Can't Take it With You" opens tomorrow night. Oy. Oi. It's been a long time coming. According to the director, he's 106% pleased with the cast, the crew, the set... everything except the venue. Actually, the venue's been stressing everyone out: it's several miles outside of Houston, so we're all fighting rush-hour traffic to get to rehersals, and once we get there, we're all fighting with the other shows at the theatre (apparently, the cast of "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" has been stealing our props and costumes). It's going to be a good show, though, and it runs for a month, so we've got a lot of time to tweak and polish.

Speaking of tweak and polish, I am having so much fun with stage make-up. I think I'm maybe one-eighth drag queen or something, which would explain all the fun I had at the MAC store today, buying bronzing powder and oil-control facial lotion.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Two days and counting

"You Can't Take it With You" opens this Friday, and I have to say, I'm actually psyched about it. I haven't done a play since college, so I think it will be a good experience overall.

I decided that I didn't want to have to share stage make-up with assorted grungy cast members, so I went out and bought one of those Ben Nye kits, took it home, had a few beers and tried to make myself look middle-aged. I overshot, though - ended up looking like a middle-aged drag queen who doesn't know how to match a foundation to her skin tone.

The Ben Nye kit also came with mint-flavored fake blood. I just think that's the coolest thing ever.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

The biggest ass on the face of the planet is not Anna Nicole's

Remember how Jack threw out all my Pride beads? And I was pissed and hurt and betrayed? Well, I was tooling around the apartment this morning, and caught a glimpse of something bright and glittery in the cabinet of my nightstand... and there were my beads. All of them. Right where I put them several months ago, when Jack asked me to get them out of the living room.

I am such an ass.
Howard-Stern-drunk-at-a-strip-club type of ass.
Reality-TV-producer type of ass.
Antonin-Scalia-takes-a-wrong-turn-in-Greenwich-Village type of ass.


On a positive note, the reading at the Community Center went well last night: the audience was smaller than I expected, but attentive and energetic, so that made up for it. My bestest buddy Rassul showed up, too, skipping out on a Houston Slam Team weekend retreat to come hang out with me... well, that, and so that a bunch of gay guys could drool over him. He gets such a kick out of that: it would be hilarious, except for I get blamed for it (i.e. "How dare your attractive, boyish, talented friend be heterosexual when you know he's my type!").

One more week of rehearsals, and then I finally get to go back to Helios. I should write some kind of "Welcome Back Whitaker" piece...

Thursday, July 10, 2003

The Dinner Party: a Vignette

FADE IN:

We find our heroes at home, preparing to go to a potluck dinner party. Jack has spent the last three hours busy in the kitchen. Evn is sprawled in the bedroom, watching a B movie on Sci-Fi.

Jack enters the bedroom with a big bowl of hummus.

Jack: "Taste this."
Evn: "Mmmm. That's good hummus."
Jack: "Does it need anything?"
Evn: "Maybe a little lemon..."
Jack: "It's got a ton of lemon in it."
Evn: "Oh. Then it's really good."
Jack: "What's wrong with it?"
Evn: "Nothing. It's really good. I usually prefer creamier hummus, but..."
Jack: "It's very creamy."
Evn: "Fine. It's perfect, then."
Jack: "What else does it need?"
Evn: "Nothing! It's fine!"
Jack: "Are you sure?"
Evn: "A little more olive oil wouldn't hurt..."
Jack: "It's got three cups of olive oil."
Evn: "I'm wrong, then. It's the best hummus ever made."
Jack: "You don't like it."
Evn: "Aaaargh! I like it, okay?! It's FINE!"

Jack leaves the bedroom. Evn develops an overwhelming urge for a cocktail and a cigarette. Jack returns with a bowl of chicken salad.

Jack: "Taste this."

FADE OUT:

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Whiskey on an empty stomach

I got a rejection letter from Gulf Coast Review yesterday. It wasn't even a real letter: it was a strip of paper with the word "regretfully" emblazoned in the text... apparently, they run off a bunch of those, fitting several rejection letters on one sheet of paper. Very economical. I'll always treasure my commemorative Gulf Coast rejection bookmark.

What kills me is that I really thought I had a shot at this magazine. I don't suffer from any delusions of grandeur, but I thought my writing was pretty comparable to what they publish. Jack tried to make me feel better by saying, "Hey, it's no big deal. Just resubmit!" He also pointed out that "maybe the wrong person read it," so I should send in more poems on the off chance that the next editor is a huge fan of sarcastic gay poetry with good one-liners.

I know I shouldn't see this as a setback, but I really, REALLY wanted this. On the St. Mark's Poetry Project web site, it says, "The best poets will never be published," so right now I'm pretending that the Gulf Coast editors are too dull and mundane to truly understand the metaphysical undercurrents of my work. (Note to self: add metaphysical undercurrents to that poem I wrote about Henry Rollins' pecs, just to show up the Gulf Coast editors.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Commissions, without the commission

OutSmart Magazine is doing a feature next month on reflections on the Supreme Court's sodomy ruling, and the editor asked me to contribute a poem. I've been messing around with ideas for a couple of days now, but all I've come up with is, "It is officially legal for Antonin Scalia to go fuck himself." Not sure if that's the angle they'd like...

It just hit me that in less than a month, I take over hosting Helios' Wed. night poetry readings. Much psyched about it... Helios (nee the Mausoleum) was one of the first places I ever read poetry out loud, and I've made a lot of good buddies at that venue, so I'm going to end up getting really emotional about the whole hosting thing (a real Sally Fields at the Oscars moment). Helios usually maintains a stable of about three or four hosts, but almost all of them are ready to give it up, so I'll probably be hosting three nights out of the month instead of just one. As of this moment, I'm hosting a monthly glbt reading called "In Our Own Write" that's really taking off (we're working on getting an anthology together), and I'm starting to enjoy the hosting more than the performing. Color me egotistical, but I feel like I've paid some dues and have moved to a more respected level of the Houston scene, you know?

Yeah, that sounds pretty egotistical. I'll have to summon up my forensics days and practice looking gracious.

Monday, July 07, 2003

On a schizophrenic note...

Chocolate and Caramel Creme Savers make me very, very happy. Like, almost too happy. The seedy underworld of oral fixations is an ugly place, my friends.

Why does my fan smell so bad?

It just hit me that I'm hosting and performing in a reading this Friday, and I've got nothing new, except for one really whiny, childish piece about a waiter:

To the Waiter at the Raven

I don’t like mushrooms.
Mushrooms are not
vegetables: they’re fungi.
I don’t want to eat
mushrooms, or
mildews, or smuts
unless I need to fight
an infection
or hallucinate.
I know the enchiladas
were pre-rolled.
I can deal with that.
What I can’t deal with
is your rationalizing,
tip-draining statement,
“There’s not a lot
of mushrooms in them.”
You just told me
to pick around them.
You just sounded
like my mother trying
to force-feed me dinner
during my militant
vegetarian phase:
“There’s not a lot
of meat in this.”
I didn’t want
any meat.
I don’t want
any mushrooms.
What do you say
to people who
like mushrooms?
“There are more
mushrooms in these
enchiladas than you’ll
know what to do with.
I hope you’ve got
an appetite
for mushrooms,
because, man,
you’re about to be
served some mushrooms.”
It’s not your fault.
You’re the waiter.
You didn’t plan
the menu or cook
the food. Your job
is to take the orders
and make suggestions.
Here’s my suggestion:
when a customer asks
a yes or no question, like,
“Can I get the enchiladas
without mushrooms?”
answer yes or no,
then take my order,
and bring me
my damn dinner.

Okay, so I like it, but I'm not sure it'll read well in terms of how the audience will take it. Will they find it cheeky and off-the-cuff? Or will they let out a collective "What a bitch" and stop listening? I need topics, dammit. Somebody inspire me! Aaaargh...

"Now my pants are chafing me..."

A straight friend of mine hit on me yesterday. Sort of. He's going through a breakup, and was complaining to me about the current lack of sex in his life, and made a comment to the effect of "I'm about ready to ask you to take care of it." Okay, he was joking, but there was a subtle, Dirk Yatesian feel to the conversation; I'm pretty sure that if I had said, "You mean, take care of...this?" I would've ended up with a hell of a lot of explaining to do across the board.

Here's the thing, though: the guy's cute as all hell. We've always flirted in a casual, harmless way (kind of like sorority sisters), but I've always thought of him as quite the catch. So when he made the "porno-movies-start-this-way" comment, my first reaction was, "Why couldn't you get this desperate when I was single?!"

Note to self: find some ugly, homophobic straight guys to hang out with.

Movin' on up, to the Northwest side...

I'm helping Sarah get her first chapbook together (it's called "The Turnip Made Me Do It," because according to Sarah, the turnip is the funniest of all vegetables), and she paid me for doing her layouts and graphic design by buying me a sword. A celtic-style, leaf-blade short sword, to be precise. This has to be the coolest payment for services rendered ever. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, but I'm currently fighting the urge to chase Jack around the apartment while screaming, "There can be only one!"

Speaking of apartments, Jack and I will be moving into a new condo at the end of August. I'm dreading it. The new place is great, and the landlord is a friend of ours, so no pet deposits and affordable rent, which is nice, but I'm just not looking forward to moving. I don't like the area (off of I-10, far away from friends, work, Montrose, etc.), and I don't think it's going to feel like "home." Of course, that's what I say about our current apartment (In the Galleria area, in the same complex Jack lived in before we met), which makes me wonder if I'm just entirely too picky. The condo is going to be overhauled before we move in, and Jack has promised that the second bedroom (well, the study, really) is to be officially My Space, but I feel like I'm slowly drifting farther and farther away from the area of town where I'm most comfortable. A friend of mine summed it up best: people who love living in the Montrose area of Houston can never be happy anywhere else.

We made a stab at apartment hunting over the weekend, but we couldn't find anything we liked in our price range. There was one place I would've sold family members into white slavery over: bottom floor of a two-story duplex, 2 bedrooms plus sunroom, beautiful aged brick exterior with a backyard and everything, but the rent was more than we pay now, so not an option. Sigh. I have got to write a bestseller or something. Or blackmail. I hear blackmail is lucrative.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Straight to the Spotlight

Jack and I were hanging out at a local Irish sports bar with a few of our straight buddies, drinking cheap beer and watching a basketball game, when someone brought up the subject of Will and Grace. For some reason, straight people seem thoroughly compelled to mention their love of the show in my presence, like some sort of example of their personal commitment to progressive thinking and minority patronization. I always expect them to quote lines from “Roots” and burst into a spiritual.

When asked how I felt about the show, I said that I find the series fairly repugnant. It follows the standard format of a straight actor playing a sanitized, sexless gay character, and a gay actor playing an über-flaming slut boy—the traditional Hollywood “gay neighbor”—which gets really tired after awhile, Emmys aside. This segued into a conversation about openly gay actors, which in turn led to a deep discussion of the cinematic career of Anne Hesche.

“I totally didn’t buy her as Harrison Ford’s romantic lead in that one movie,” my friend Darren said. “I mean, we all knew she was dating Ellen. Who was she trying to fool?”

“So basically, no one would really accept a gay actor portraying a straight lead?” I asked.

“No way,” Darren responded. “You’d just keep thinking about how he likes guys in real life, and it would kill the whole thing.”

“So why is it so easy to accept heterosexual Eric McCormick playing a gay character?”

An uncomfortable silence descended onto the table for a brief moment, until someone mentioned that the X-Men movies don’t follow the comic book, and we were off on another beer-fueled debate.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Sensitive Guy, Part the Second

Turns out bagpipers playing "Amazing Grace" during Episcopal festival services also make me cry. Go figure.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Pride, Prejudice and Plastic

Jack and I went to the Gay Pride Parade, and it was just a banner year for beads. Usually, I end up with one or two strands of beads flung from the marchers and float-riders (I tend to avoid the large groups of lesbians who dive at and wrestle for throws, elbowing and punching until they claim the beads as their own, preferring to loiter in the background and surrepititiously pick through the leftovers, much like the wily hyena or seagull), and I take them home and put them with the beads from Gay Pride Parades past. At one point, I had them arranged in a little bowl on my coffee table, until Jack declared it as "tacky" and replaced them with potpourri. I wasn't sure where all my beads went, but felt secure in the knowledge that Jack would never get rid of my belongings without asking.

Anyhow, like I said, I got the bumper crops of beads: I was catching loads of them, and several parade-goers handed me their extras. I commented to Jack that I couldn't wait to add this year's beads to my collection, and he gave me this sickly smile and told me he loved me.

Translation: he threw out all my beads. Why, you might ask? Because he never keeps them, so he figured I wouldn't want, them either.

Under normal circumstances, I am not a very sentimental person. During break-ups, I routinely throw out pictures, presents, jewelry, etc. connected to the now-and-future ex, because why would I want all that crap around reminding me of someone who turned out to be psycho? I've heard the argument "to remember the good times," but again, why would I want to reminisce on good times I shared with someone, when it turns out that that "someone" was just a facade hiding a big, faggoty Mr. Hyde?

Here's the thing, though: Gay Pride is the one day out of the year that I don't feel like a martian. The majority of my friends are straight, and the few gay friends I have a spread out over the greater US Southwest, so I rarely get to see them or spend time with them. While most of my straight friends are cool with my orientation, I'm still the butt of a lot of jokes, stereotypical humor and ignorant comments. In that respect, it's nice to have even just one day to walk around downtown wearing rainbow accessories and holding my boyfriend's hand, and not worrying about whether all my friends are going to say, "Ewww," or "that's so gay," or "I noticed you're wearing boots; why are all gay guys into leather?" etc. Those cheap plastic beads on my coffee table represented that one day of freedom and relief. And now they're gone.

I'm sure I'll get over it in time. I mean, hell, that's what I do: I get over things. But the loss of something I was sentimentally attached to, coupled with the fact that something belonging to me was thrown out based on an assumption, without even asking me... rrrr. Insert huffy, frustrated noises here.

Assorted blehs all around.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Sensitive Guy

I went to a rally on the steps of City Hall last night, to celebrate the repeal of Texas' anti-sodomy laws. I got the chance to meet and hug the two guys who were arrested back in 1998, and ended up explaining the whole series of events and legislation to various bemused straight people, who happened upon the rally while idly strolling through downtown Houston, only to suddenly find themselves surrounded by several hundred ecstatic homosexuals. It was quite an emotional situation: the rally itself, and Mr. Texas Leather telling me how much he enjoyed the article I wrote about him for OutSmart Magazine. There's nothing like a big ol' southern leatherdaddy handing me compliments to get me all atwitter and giggly.

On a side note, I have turned into such a crybaby.

It all started when I finally saw "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." I'm not sure what exactly came over me, but I started bawling halfway through the wedding, and didn't stop until half an hour after the movie was over. Just when I got myself under control, Jack opened a jar of olives, and I started weeping uncontrollably again.

Last night, Jack and I were watching the second Harry Potter movie -- "Harry Potter and the Magical Cashcow" or whatever it was called -- and during the final scene, when Hagrid comes into the dining hall and everyone cheers for him, I started sniffling. Jack asked if I was crying. I replied, "Of course not." Right then, a single tear rolled down my cheek. Much cursing at the sorry state of my natural stoicism ensued.

The thing is, I was a big cryer when I was a child, and I got picked on a lot for it. I finally had enough of it, so right before puberty kicked in, I swore I would never cry again. And I didn't. I stayed dry-eyed for almost ten years, and since then, I've only actually cried twice (once when my dog died, and once during a mindbendingly frustrating argument with a psychotic ex-boyfriend). Sudddenly, I'm tearing up at everything: I spent my morning drive to work struggling to keep from blubbering during a broadcast of a Stonewall Riots documentary on Democracy Now.

I'm sure this is all just stress taking its toll on my psyche, and I know that in a modern progressive society, it is pefectly acceptable for a grown man to freely express his emotions, but I hate crying. Hate it hate it hate it.

Anyhow, back to work. My new boss just called and asked me how to write a press release. Good times... good times...

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Operation: New Job

The Houston Press is hiring editors. I desperately want to apply for a position, but at the same time, I'm terrified I'll get it. Do I give up my current cushy, stressful-but-decent-paying job in an attempt to forward a career in journalism, or do I stay where I am and keep doing freelance writing and monthly poetry readings on the side? Aargh. I hate grown-up decisions.

I'm sure I'd be happier in the long run if I just said "screw it," quit my job and focused on writing, but the idea of no viable income makes me queasy. If Jack gets back into radio and ends up making the kind of money he used to make, I'll think about it. He's already told me he'd be willing to pay the bills for awhile if he got a lucrative enough position, so that I could work on my writing and picking up more publishing credits, but I don't know how well I could handle that. If my job was to stay home and create while Jack earned the paychecks, would I be responsible enough to do dishes and laundry while he was at work, or would I just sit around, chatting on instant messenger and doing online crossword puzzles while the cats crapped on the furniture and strange new disease spawned in the kitchen sink?

This would so not be a big deal if I'd just gone to law school like my mom wanted me to.

The Play's the Thing

So I'm in a play right now: "You Can't Take it With You," at a local (say it ain't so) community theatre, directed by one of my former forensics students/ex-roommate. It's a wonderful script (it's like "Dharma and Greg," but set in the 30's), and Joey's a brilliant director, but some of the cast members are starting to wear on me. Rehearsals feel fairly unfocused... people are getting distracting easily, and there's been occasional "well that's not how I'd do it" grumblings. Overall, I think it's going to be a good show, but I'm not envying Joey having to deal with all of us right now.

Actually, I'm trying to be a good lil' actor this time around. Last year, Joey cast me in a play he was directing as a senior project, and I was quite the little prima donna, if I do say so myself: demanding explanations for every direction he gave me, rolling my eyes a lot, etc. He never said anything to me about it, but looking back on the series of events, I was being a terrible ass to him.

Part of the problem was simply that he was my student, and I wasn't ready to un-reign him, as it were, and let him make decisions on his own. I feel really guilty about this now, to the point where I actually said to a castmate, "Joey is the director, and it is not our place to question his decisions." Heil! Rama Rama!

I'm sure Joey is starting to suspect I'm schizophrenic, but at least I'm feeling less diva-ish. At some point, Beyoncé and I will have to sit down together and compare notes on how misaligned we are.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Omens

According to traditional folklore (Irish, I believe), if a large bird flies in front of you, heading right to left, it's a sign of bad things to come. But what if, instead of a bird, it's a beachball-sized pink flamingo balloon that drifts past your office window? According to my best buddy Sarah, it was a sign of ominously tacky things in my future.

This concerned me. I've got too much on my plate right now: a job, a play, overdue freelance articles, two literary magazines who want me to do layouts for them, a pile of chapbooks to pimp on the unsuspecting public, a 1994 Ford Aerostar Minivan that will crumble into dust if I slam its sliding door too hard... and now the impending threat of the ominously tacky.

On a related note, a friend of mine asked me to teach him how to be gay: it seems a local playwright contacted him and asked him to be in a new show, yet another one of those gay-porn-turned-comedic-romp, "fresh and edgy" theatrical events that seem to be popping up like herpes across the country. He was offered the part of Chi Chi LaRue (a popular gay porn director/drag queen, for those of you who've led cleaner lives), and now wants me to help him "get into" the role.


Could this be what the flamingo was trying to tell me?