Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm Peach

I was just reading my previous post in which I wrote about Tom Tancredo calling Sonia Sotomayor "a brown woman" who thinks she's better than "white men" like himself, and I commented that Sotomayor's skin is actually whiter than Tancredo's. This got me to thinking...

I think it is so absurd, this system we have set up describe people by color. Whites and blacks are of course white and black, even though neither are white nor black.

Latinos and Asians? Brown and yellow.

Asians, yellow? Last week I met a Korean with skin as white as milk, and last night, I met a Filipino with skin and brown as a caffe latte.

Latinos, brown? First off, Latino isn't even a race. It is simply the Spanish (and Portuguese and Italian) word for "Latin", and while the peoples of Latin America speak languages derived from Latin, and are a part of a culture which is highly influenced by Latin Europe, a great many of them have no Latin ancestry at all (especially when you consider that Latin comes from the Italian peninsula).

Latin America is a place with people of many different races... Amerindian (Aztec, Maya, Inca, etc.), African, European, Asian... some people are of 100% Amerindian ancestry, and even speak the native language at home and in the towns where they live. Some are of 100% African ancestry, some are of 100% European ancestry... and so many are a mix of some or all of the above, which is where the Spanish words "mestizo" (mixed Amerindian and European) and "mulato" (mixed African and European) come in.

To call Latinos "brown" is insulting to me, NOT because there is anything wrong with being brown, but because to say that Latinos (or Hispanics or whatever euphemism you prefer) are all one color, is to ignore the racial and ethnic diversity of Latin America. It's like saying that everybody in the USA is white, just because they speak English and are raised in an Anglo society and culture.

I am not brown. And here's how I know:

When I was a child, I used to love to draw pictures of myself with crayons. I remember one day, maybe I was 6 or 7-years-old, I was trying to find the right color to color in my skin in a drawing of me. The paper was white, and so it was too light to be my skin, and had to be colored in. I tried the color brown, it was too dark. I kept testing colors on the paper and then putting my arm next to it, to see if the color matched the skin of my arm.

Finally, I found the closest color to my skin tone: "Peach".

I'M PEACH, I thought.

And from that day on, I always colored my skin in with the peach crayon. If I was at school, and the box of crayons I was using didn't have a peach crayon, I would walk around and ask the other children if I could use their Peach.

So this has given me some inspiration.

People always ask me where I'm from. I always say, "Originally from the suburbs of Houston, Texas, although I was born in Newark, New Jersey." I say this, because the look on their face afterwards always betrays their disappointment at my answer. What they reeeally want to know is what my ethnic background is.

They want to know this, because there is a weird curiosity in this country of trying to discern what is the ethic background of an otherwise "white" person who has black hair, brown eyes and dark skin, as if having dark features throws a boomerang into the Caucasian race.

After all, this question is rarely asked of an American with blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin. It's not as if blond Americans are always asked, "Where are you from? Because I can't tell if you're Dutch or Swedish or German or Estonian or Polish..."

Well, I'm always asked this "where are you from" question, and after I throw them for a loop by telling them where I was raised, I often say, "Oh, you want to know why I have dark hair and skin! Okay. It's because my family is from Cuba."

Then they usually say, "Ooooh! Because I wondering. I didn't know if you were Hispanic or Italian or Greek or even Middle Eastern..."

(Did you give a shit where he/she "was from" the last time you saw a blond?)

Sometimes, I am even asked this: "What are you?"

What AM I?

And this is where my inspiration comes in; the inspiration that I draw from the simple wisdom that I had as a child.

From now on, the next time somebody asks what I am, I'm going to proudly say,

"I'm Peach."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Hispanic Chick Lady": RACIST!

In my previous posting I wrote that I suspect that some of these Republican talking heads on the TV are really paid Democratic operatives.

I wrote that they are either that, or they are being supremely stupid by belittling the academic and career achievements of the first Hispanic nominated to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor (or, as Glenn Beck referred to her, "Hispanic Chick Lady").

I wrote that the GOP desperately needs to improve their numbers with Latino voters to remain a viable national party, and for them to say that a Puerto Rican woman who graduated as the top undergrad at Yale, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from there AND Harvard, and ran the Yale Law Review, and is one of the most renowned and esteemed appellate judges in the country.... to say that she was picked because she is Hispanic, is basically like saying to Hispanics, "Achieve what you will, but no matter how impressive it is, if you get a great gig, it's because your ethnicity, not your accomplishments".

This is not the way to get a greater number of Latinos to join the Republican bandwagon.

In recent days, the right-wingers have been becoming even MORE moronic, if that were possible. Now, she's not just unqualified, she is also A RACIST!


Here's the Judge Sotomayor quote that has the right-wingers calling her a Latin American version of a Ku Klux Klan grand wizard:

"I would hope that a wise Latino woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Wow. That comment is so flagrantly racist, that I can't help but imagine her with a little square moustache under her nose, speaking to rally full brownshirts, in a room bedecked with swastika-covered bunting.

Seemingly everybody on the right is right is calling her comments racist, or calling her a racist herself... Tom Tancredo, Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter, G. Gordon Liddy, and the grand poubah of them all, Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh compared the Democrats nominating her as being as outrageous a nomination as the Republicans nominating David Duke, the notorious former KKK member turned aspiring politician. He called her a "reverse racist" and "a bigot". He also said, "How do you get promoted in the Obama administration? By hating white people."

Really? Sonia Sotomayor hates white people? Rush was able to glean that from that one quote? Hmm. Like George W. Bush was able to do with Vladimir Putin, Rush is able to get a sense of Sonia's soul, without the help of any concrete evidence.

Tom Tancredo, a total whackadoodle, started to stir up the ethnic pot by morphing his belief that Judge Sotomayor is a racist, to implying that the members of the popular Latino political advocacy group La Raza are racists, because he considers La Raza to be, "a Latino KKK without the hoods or nooses".

G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate whackjob, said basically the same thing. In addition to saying that he hopes that she won't be participating in any key conferences while she's menstruating, he also said, "Miss Sotomayor is a member of La Raza, which means in Illegal Alien, 'The Race', and that should not surprise anyone, because she's already on record with a number of racist comments."

So La Raza means "The Race" in Illegal Alien. I never knew that I spoke Illegal Alien. All these years, I thought I was speaking Spanish, that romance language that comes from the Castile region of Spain. Huh. So my mother and father's native language is Illegal Alien! I had no idea. King Juan Carlos of Spain speaks Illegal Alien. Miguel de Cervantes spoke Illegal Alien....

Oh wait. Sorry. I got side-tracked by my offense of hearing the language of my ancestors referred to as "Illegal Alien". Back to Sonia Sotomayor.

So now not only is SHE a racist, but the members of La Raza, and those who like and support that group, are racists too. That's a wonderful way to get Latinos into the Republican fold, Tom! And re-naming their lanuguage in a really insulting way will really win them over. Smart move, G.!

Hey Tom, another bit of advice, you should keep calling her "a brown woman", too. Her skin is whiter than yours, Mr. Perpetual Fake 'n Bake Tan, but keep calling her a person who thinks she's better than you white men because she's a "brown woman".

Keep it up! I WANT a permanent Democratic majority in Congress.

But anyway, let me wrap this up by showing why her comment was not racist.

"I would hope that a wise Latino woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

She said, "with the richness of her EXPERIENCES" not of her race or ethnicity. She was not saying that a Hispanic is superior than an Anglo by nature. If, for the last 232 years, black males had been at the top of the political and social hierarchy instead of white males, then she likely would have ended the sentence with, "a better conclusion than a black male who hasn't lived that life".

It's about hierarchy, not race.

But since I did bring up black males, let me end with this:

In the notorious 1857 Dred Scott case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that African slaves and their descendants, whether they were freed or not, were not legal human beings and could never be citizens of the USA.

They were chattel under the law.

Now: do you think that case would have been ruled in same way, had the members of the Supreme Court been 9 black men, instead of 9 white men?

"The richness of experiences"


Friday, May 29, 2009

"Hispanic Chick Lady" and Other Offensive Comments

Sonia Sotomayor is President Obama's first Supreme Court pick.

It is my hope that she will be his first pick of many (because it is my hope that Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts and Samuel Alito will all retire within the next four years. Please please pleeeeeeeease...)

"Sonia Sotomayor". Do you find that Spanish name difficult to pronounce? That's okay, because you could always call her, "Hispanic Chick Lady". After all, this is what Obama calls her, according to Glenn Beck. He reduced Obama's choice of a new justice to this: "Hey! Hispanic Chick Lady! You're empathetic. You're in!"

She has worked as a district attorney, a corporate attorney, a district court judge on the federal bench, and as an appellate court judge, but according to Glenn Douchebag, she got picked because she's an empathetic Hispanic chick lady.

Pat Buchanan made basically the same assertion, albeit not with such douchebag language as Glenn Beck. Pat called her "an affirmative action pick", and compared her to Harriet Miers.

Remember Harriet Miers? Wasn't she George W. Bush's secretary or something? a person who had never studied Law? a person so unqualified for the job that her nomination had to be withdrawn? someone who was chosen just because she admired her boss and supported him adoringly?

Judge Sotomayor has 17 years of experience on the bench, but she's another Harriet Miers. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton and Yale, but she's another Harriet Miers. She ran the Yale Law Review, but she's another Harriet Miers. She has as much, or more, judicial experience as anyone ever nominated to the top court, yet because she is a woman of Latin American heritage, she's another Harriet Miers... or another Anita in West Side Story.

"I want to be in Amer-i-ca, I go to Yale in Amer-i-ca, I be a judge in Amer-i-ca, on Supreme Court in Amer-EEE-ca..."

If that weren't insulting enough, on top of being a personal favortism choice, a la Madame Miers, she is also "an affirmative action pick".

Pat Buchanan is not the only Conservative saying this about her. Rush Limbaugh, Fred Barnes, Bill Bennett... all of them said she was an affirmative action pick, with Bennett going so far as to say that she got into Princeton by affirmative action.

Do you want to know who really DID get into a prestigious Ivy League University via affirmative action? George W. Bush.

That slacker George Dubya only got into Yale because he was a legacy. "What's 'a legacy'?" you may ask. Well, a legacy is AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR RICH WHITE DUDES.

Then, in addition to belittling her achievements by calling her an affirmative action pick, they also doubt her intelligence!

Let's hear again from Mr. Douchebag extraordinaire, Glenn Beck: "She's not that intellectually bright, she's almost a bully; she just likes to hear herself talk."

Karl Rove didn't say she was not intellectually bright, but he did say that she was not "intellectually strong" and doubted that she had the "broad, intellectual powers" to be an influential Supreme Court justice.

I wish Karl Rove had cared so much about a strong, broad intellect when he shoved the mediocre-minded Texas governor George W. Bush down the country's throat.

I'm starting to wonder if people like Limbaugh, Beck, Bennett, Barnes, Rove, et al, are paid Democratic operatives. Here's why...

Republicans these days are looking with worry at the statistics. They are way down in the polls with Latinos, Blacks, Women and Youngsters. But it is the Latino numbers that should really have them crapping in their pants, because Latinos are the fastest-growing minority group in the USA. It is my belief that by the end of this century, they may be the majority. Unless Republicans can improve their numbers with Latinos, they are "jodido". Do you know what that means in Spanish? Go look it up: "Jodido". I'll give you a hint: in English, it starts with an F.

The GOP desperately needs to improve its image with Latinos. So what do these geniuses do? When the first Latino Supreme Court nominee makes history by BEING the first, they say she's an affirmative action pick BECAUSE she's Latino. She was picked just because she's Puerto Rican... or from whatever of those countries to the south.

Her qualifications? Screw those. She studied her ass off at Yale, graduating as the top undergrad in the entire university? So what. Harvard, too? So what. Phi Beta Kappa? Taco Burrito Enchilada. Ran the Yale law review? "No importa para nada".

What these old elephants are saying is, no matter how hard you study, no matter how you excel, no matter what your impressive accomplishments are, no matter what hurdles you jump over... poor immigrant family, father dead in childhood, raised by a single mother, raised in a housing project in the Bronx... yet you become the top student at the Ivy Leagues, then later a nationally renowned, esteemed appellate judge...

None of that matters, because you are a Latino. A Hispanic. THAT's why you got picked.

Arrrriba! Ole! Ay caramba!

No matter WHAT you achieve, if you get picked for something really important and prestigious, it is because of your ethnicity, NOT your accomplishments.

Wow. This is quite a way to win Hispanics over to the Republican party, amigos. You guys are muy inteligentes. As a person of Cuban heritage, you are reeeeeally tempting me to become a Republican. Muy muy mucho.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

It Wasn't a Booking

That on avail that I wrote about yesterday... well, I was right. It wasn't a booking. Today's the 28th. I found out what I predicted I would find out: it wasn't a booking.

Is my name Larry, or Cassandra?

Once again, the on avail was just that: an on avail.

See? It's not that I'm a pessimist. It ended up being exactly what I thought it was... what it ALWAYS is... which is why I was happy, but not excited. Smart me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On Avail

Oh, that word: on avail. Actually it's two words. Actually it's a word and a half, because "avail" is half of the word "available".

For those of you who are wise enough not to be in the entertainment industry, "on avail" means that you, the actor, have virtually booked the job, but you haven't YET, or you may not AT ALL.

Confused?, it's between you and another actor, and they want you, but not totally (because you might be the back-up choice) OR totally (because you could me the primary choice) OR you could be the back-up choice and they change their minds and make you the primary choice. Make sense?

As usual in biz, you are powerless in this choice, and you just have to wait for a call from your agent. You're on hold to actually book it. I think it should be changed from "on avail" to "limbo".

TELEPHONE limbo. You need the phone to ring, and to tell you that the avail has become a job. As usual with actors, you are powerless, and all you can do is wait for that PHONE to RING.

I am writing about this because today, I got a call from my agent telling me that I was an on avail for a commercial that I auditioned for yesterday.

When I first started to audition for commercials, I thought that getting an on avail was good news. Well, it IS good news. It's more than a callback. It means that you booked the job (but you haven't yet or you may not at all).

However, I have never had an on avail that has turned into a real booking. Every commercial that I've ever booked, I had the callback, and the next day or the day after, my agent called me and said, "You booked it!" they've never said, "You're on avail" and then I get the job. So perhaps it's just an illusion that has been created by my own experience, but an on avail doesn't excite me, because it's not a real booking.

A real booking. You know... me getting fitted by wardrobe... showing up on set... sitting in the makeup chair... killing time in my trailer... pigging out at the craft services table... shooting the actual commercial... waiting and waiting to shoot some more... shooting some more... and then hopefully in a month or so, I'll realize that I haven't been edited out of it, or that the spot has been dropped... rather, I'll discover that it had aired, with me in it, and, the grand hope of all, that it airs nationally.

I have had many on avails, and my agent gives me the avail date, which, hopefully, is not too far off in the future, so that you won't be left hanging and hoping for too long.

I'm lucky. My avail date for this most recent on avail is May 28. That's tomorrow. At least I won't be in limbo for long.

I'm not remotely thinking that I will actually film this commercial. I'm not the only one who feels this way...

Last night I was at a protest march in West Hollywood with my friends Jana and Matt, both actors. I told them that earlier in the day I had had an audition which was a callback, and Matt, who has booked many commercials, brought up on avails.

"Have you ever had an on avail, Larry?"

"Have *I* ever had an on avail? Uh, ya. Quite a few. Whoopee."

"They never become real bookings, EVER!"

"I knooooow!"

"You too? I've never had an on avail that meant me getting the job. Ever. I don't even care when I get them anymore."

"Matt, you're preaching to the choir. Believe me, if my agent calls me tomorrow and tells me that I'm on avail for this job, I won't get remotely excited. I'll be happy that I got it, but I won't get excited."

So imagine my surprise when my agent calls me today and tells me that I'm on avail. What a coincidence, after last night's conversation. And what excitement. Whoopee.

But please don't think that I'm bitching, or that I'm a "glass half empty" kind of guy. Even though I'm 98% sure that tomorrow I'll be released from avail with no job actually booked, I am glad that I got another on avail.

I'm happy because I got called in to read for this commercial by people at a casting office that I really like. I like the people that work there, because a dear friend of mine used to work there, and I've seen them socially, at parties outside of work, and they are really terrific people. The fact that THAT casting office called me in to read, and I got an on avail from it is great. I want them to be glad that they called me in to audition, because I have such a high regard for them.

An on avail also shows to my agent that I am auditioning well, and that's never bad.

So I'm happy. I'm just not excited. I think it's good that I'm not excited, because if tomorrow I discover that I actually booked it, it will be a pleasant surprise, and if I don't actually book it, it will not be a let down.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Memorial" Day

Today was Memorial Day, and it was a long day. First I went to a barbeque in Sherman Oaks, then I went to another barbeque in Los Feliz, then I went to a dinner in Koreatown.

Not once, at all these social events, were the fallen men and women of our armed forces ever mentioned. No one mentioned the troops, no one mentioned anything armed forces-related, including me.

There was nothing "memorializing" about this day, at least not from what I saw and did.

I'm not being judgmental, I'm just making an observation. I had a really fun day, but it dawned on me when I got home: "Hey wait, WHAT was today about?"

I wondered if anyone I hung out with today knew that today was about our troops, and not about having the day off and eating barbeque.

I knew, but I also forgot.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

To Catch a Predator in the Colosseum

Today I wasn't feeling very well, and spent most of the day lying around watching TV. While channel surfing, I caught on MSNBC, an episode of Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator". Lucky me, it was a To Catch a Predator "marathon", and I could watch hour after hour of men's lives being ruined before my very eyes.

I didn't watch hour after hour, though. I watched for two hours only. I wouldn't have watched even 20 minutes, because I have seen the show before and many of the men whose lives were being ruined, I've seen before.

"Oh, that's the rabbi who tried hook up with a 13-year-old boy, the one with the desperate, horrified eyes", I thought, "And look, I know that guy. He's the Baptist minister of tried to make it with a 14-year-old girl, the one who wept like a baby... Oh, there's the Iraq War vet who thinks he's gonna do it with a 15-year-old girl, the one who got on his knees and begged to be forgiven..."

It was like catching a rerun. Well hell, it WAS a rerun. The Best of Predator! I imagine what these busted men must feel, knowing they will be playing in perpetuity via reruns, as though they were Lucille Ball or Dick Van Dyke.

The reason I watched two hours' worth was because I became fascinated by how this show is so successful. When I say "successful", I don't mean in catching online predators (which it eminently is). I mean successful as a popular TV show, as entertainment.

I'll first make it clear that I am all for catching men who try to hook up with young kids online. There should be more sting operations, because the more there are, the more men will think twice before driving out to some 14 year-old girl's house to commit statutory rape.

I just have an issue with the public spectacle of it, the idea of being entertained by seeing some man realize, as he's confronted by Chris Hansen on camera, that his life as he knew it is basically over. This country does not tolerate sexual offenses towards minors. Once you've done it, it's the scarlet letter that you wear until you die.

I think that To Catch a Predator is a form of public entertainment that is somewhat reminiscent of the Colosseum in ancient Rome.

Granted, it's not bloody and savage. Nobody is being fed to lions, but they are being fed to the viewers, who can then say, "Oh, look at that pathetic pervert. He's sick. What a loser." In an off-hand way, I think the appeal of this show is that it makes the viewers feel better about themselves: "I may not like my job and be trapped in an unhappy marriage, but hey: at least I'm not driving 3 hours to hook up with a 9th grader and get busted on national TV for it."

I cringe watching this show. Sure, I don't cringe as dramatically as I would were I watching two gladiators slicing each other open, but I cringe just the same. It's a slight cringe, but it's a cringe. Often I have to look away from the TV set, because I feel so embarrassed for these men.

If you've never seen the show, the set-up is basically this:

There's a group called "Perverted Justice" and they chat online in certain chat rooms where men looking for hookups are usually found. The decoys pretend to be a girl (and sometimes a boy) who is between the ages of 13 and 16.

These decoys chat with men and let them know that they are willing to have sex with them. They give the men the address to their house. The house is actually a house which is loaded with hidden cameras, as well as a full camera crew from Dateline NBC, and Chris Hansen, the show's host, and also, an armed police squad at the ready.

The always unattractive and often butt-ugly man then shows up at the house, usually carrying condoms and alcohol, and sometimes with porno DVDs, marijuana and lube. A young-looking 19-year-old actress is there at the door when he arrives, holding a laundry basket full of clothes and saying the same line almost every time in an innocent, girlish voice:

"Hi! I've got to put these clothes in the dryer, otherwise they'll get all wrinkled! Come on in to the kitchen! I made you some sweet tea! It's on the table! Pour yourself a glass and I'll be right out!"

I'm actually surprised they keep using this line, because this show has been on TV for a long time and many people have seen it, and if I were one of these guys, the moment I see a girl holding a laundry basket and offering sweet tea, I would run away like a gazelle.

However, the man never suspects, and always goes directly into the kitchen and heads straight for that pitcher of sweet tea. As he pours his glass, Chris Hansen comes out and says, "How's that sweet tea?" or "How was your drive?" or "Making yourself at home, huh?"

The men always look at Chris with a look of complete and total shock. They don't think he's the host of a TV show (the cameras are hidden). They almost always assume that he's a police detective, and sometimes, the girl's father. The moment they see him instead of the girl come out of the supposed laundry room, it almost always looks like their life is flashing before their eyes. It's actually really hard to come up with words to accurately describe the expressions on their faces, because the look of humiliation and fear and realization, and DREAD, is so complete and palpable, that it often makes me look away in embarrassment.

So Chris asks, with a fraternal yet paternal tone, "What're ya doing here?"

The man will feebly reply, "I came to meet ____."

"What for?"

"Just to meet her. Hang out. Maybe watch some TV and talk."

"Really? Because I have your chat log right here. Didn't you say, 'Babe, I'm gonna spread your soft legs wide, get out my strawberry-flavored lube and---' "

"PLEASE. There's no need to keep reading it. I know what I wrote."

" may hurt the first time, but I got experience with virgins, I'll soften you up 'til you--"

"PLEASE. You don't need to keep reading it. Please."

What then follows is the man trying to convince Chris Hansen that having sex with the kid was not his intention. Some platonic reason is always given for the visit, to which Chris will say,

"Then why did you bring these condoms? Trojans. EXTRA SENSITIVE..."

The excuses continue, and they are always so ridiculous, such blatant, desperate attempts to win clemency, and so often spoken with such a plaintive voice, so feeble and imploring. Many times what they implore is that nobody else needs to know about this, to which Chris will say,

"Well, there's something you should know: I'm Chris Hansen, the host of Dateline NBC's 'To Catch a Predator' "

At that moment, the camera men come out, pointing their cameras to the pervert, who gives a look of utter horror or humiliation and covers his face, ignorant of the fact that he's been already filmed on hidden camera.

Chris asks, "Is there anything else you'd like to say?"


"Then you're free to go."

At which point the man high-tails it out of there, thinking he's free with just the humiliation as his punishment, but nope, because the police squad is out there ready, pointing their firearms at him, and shouting, "FREEZE! ON THE GROUND! FACE DOWN! HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK!"

As the man is face down on the grass being handcuffed, you can often hear him wailing with utter despair.

But that's not the end, because the on-camera questioning continues with the police detective asking things like, "Why did you write in the chat, 'I want to pop your cherry'?" and "Why did you bring this: AstroGlide Lube?"

Then after that, we are treated to seeing the incarcerated guy in his striped jail pajamas, sitting before a widescreen TV, on which is a judge who is in another room, charging him with his crimes.

One pervert charged, cut to the NEXT guy approaching the house and being offered sweet tea, and the whole process begins again, man after man, show after show. Another man enters the arena of the Colosseum, to be destroyed for the audience's entertainment.

Yes, destroyed. Many of the men are married. Their marriage is over. Many of them have kids the same age as the supposed girl they are going to meet for sex. Their relationship with their kids is damaged. Many of them have jobs which they will now lose. A couple have been school teachers.

I'm not saying that it's bad for them to lose their job if they are a school teacher, but I do think it's wrong for these men to be put on TV if they have kids. I remember what it was like to be in Intermediate school. School is tough enough without having your dad on TV starring as a pervert.

As I mentioned before, today on the show, I saw a married man with a daughter, an Iraq war vet, ON HIS KNEES before Chris Hansen. He literally kneeled before him, and the whole interview took place with this man pathetically on his knees as though Chris were the King of Siam.

We don't need to see this.

We don't need Chris trying to understand these men later, saying to the camera for the umpteenth time, "This man drove three hours for this encounter. Why?"


"Here's a man with a good job and a stable life. Why would he risk so much for this encounter?"


And what is really repulsive, is this show, because it's about schadenfreude, it's not about justice. If you want justice, then do the sting without it becoming a reality TV show. Why have the spectacle of it on TV? So that we can delight in the misfortune of others? So we can feel better about ourselves? So we can be like the crowds in the Colosseum, feeling superior to those condemned men in the arena?

That truly is "Perverted Justice".

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Desi Arnaz: Cuban or Pakistani?

One of the great things about internet social networking sites is that you get to meet people on other sides of the planet whom you otherwise would never know existed. In addition, the online chat makes it possible to converse with them, without costing you a fortune in long-distance telephone charges. You can chat with them every day, and it doesn't cost you an extra penny. During these chats you can learn new things about them, their culture and their country.

I started meeting people online after I moved to Los Angeles, because I was finding it hard to meet people, and to make and maintain friendships here. Before I came here a little over 3 years ago, it never crossed my mind to put up an online profile anywhere.

Many of the people from other countries that I have met, surprisingly, have been from Pakistan. They live in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and a couple of them live outside of Pakistan, in the United Arab Emirates and Canada.

It has been very interesting for me, because I never thought much about Pakistan before getting to know these Pakistanis online. To me, Pakistan was just a Muslim version of India, except with a closed society, but with the same overcrowding and poverty. Pakistan to me was just a dangerous place, prone to dictatorships and military coups, where western journalists like Daniel Pearl are kidnapped and beheaded by Muslim extremists.

It never dawned on me that Pakistan is full of ethnic and cultural diversity, that it has lots of bohemians, progressives and intellectuals who are savvy and sophisticated... that there are people there who are modern and stylish, and strikingly good-looking, with stunning faces and swirling social lives, who are totally in tune with western pop culture.

I'm ashamed of my former ignorance, really.

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a Pakistani friend, and I asked him if there was a word for people from Pakistan, India , Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the way "Latino" is a word for people from the various countries of Latin America. He said that there was a indeed a word: "Desi". A Pakistani is a Desi, and so is an Indian. The word is "Desi".


THAT's the word to describe the peoples of the Indian subcontinent?


To me, Desi is a word that I would imagine would be used to describe ME, a person from a Cuban family. The reason, of course, is Desi Arnaz. You know, Desi Arnaz, a.k.a. Ricky Ricardo on "I Love Lucy". Before Gloria Estefan came along, Desi Arnaz was the most famous Cuban in Anglo America. He WAS Cuba, years before Fidel Castro hit the world stage.

Before this month, if someone had asked me, "Who is your favorite Desi singer?" I would have probably said Celia Cruz. If the question were, "Who is your favorite Desi actor?" my likely answer would have been Andy Garcia (I certainly would not have said Feroze Khan).

So I've been having some fun using this new, weird word, and another one of my Pakistani friends, noting how I would insert the word in conversations whenever I had the chance, suggested that for fun, I go online and look at some of the Desi websites. He suggested one, called "Desi Rater". I googled it, and in doing so, also found another called, "Rate Desi".

Hmmm, I thought, Desi Rater and Rate Desi... what could this be about?

Well, I discovered that on these sites, Desi men and women who consider themselves attractive, post photos of themselves, and above their photos is a rating scale, from 1 to 10. You click on the number that you think their looks merit, and that number is tabulated into their average rating. The men and women with the highest average ratings are the Top Desis, and as you scroll down, the Desis will presumably get less attractive and less attractive, because their rating is lower.

I immediately formed the opinion that the people who frequent this website have a strange idea of what beauty is, because both the men and the women who were rating a 6 were generally more naturally attractive than those who had rated a 10.

In any case, this got me wondering. Is this just a Desi thing? This practice of putting yourself online just so that you can get your looks rated by strangers, so that you can see how you compare to the other people with photos on the site?

I found it strange, especially because all the people on the site were of the same race or ethnicity or whatever. I mean, it's rather like The Westminster Dog Show, where, in course of competition, the dogs are rated by breed. But these aren't dogs on these websites. These are human beings... human beings who aspire to be rated "Best in Breed".

Again: Is this just a Desi thing?

Curious to find out, I googled "Asian Rater", "African Rater", "Euro Rater" and "Latino Rater".

Well, it seems like Africans, Europeans and Latin Americans have no desire to be rated online, because I found no websites like the Desi ones. The only thing I found was a Euro Rater, but it was a financial website which rated the new European currency, not the Europeans themselves.

I DID find a website that rated people and not money, and that site was called, "Rate This Asian", and the first photo I saw was of a pretty young woman who looked like she could be a successful geisha. So it looks like not only Indians and Pakistanis are the only ones into being rated, but the Japanese and the Koreans are, too. Okay, this is an Asian thing then, since India and Pakistan are technically in Asia...

Well, now I'm curious... how would *I* rate on one of these websites? Granted, I would never pass for Japanese or Korean in a million years, so "Rate This Asian" is off limits to me, but I COULD pass for Indian or Pakistani. In the summer, I can get extremely tan. I bet I could find some summer pictures of me in which I look Desi-esque. A few times in Europe when I was super tanned, people would ask me if I was Middle Eastern.

Actually, I wouldn't even need to find photos of me in which I look darker. There are lots of light-skinned Desis. Actually, in India, it is considered an asset in sexual attraction, being fair-skinned. Sadly, people bleach their skin there. Also, I remember once a friend of mine showed me the personal ads section in an Indian newspaper. Almost every ad in the personals said,

"Alliance Wanted. Fair-skinned man seeks fair-skinned woman."

"Alliance Wanted. I am light-skinned. U.B.2."

"Alliance Wanted. Fair-skinned woman for fair-skinned man."

I cringed when reading those ads, but now I see that the favortism towards lighter skin could actually work in my favor on, and many would be eager to "ally" themselves with me. I could change my name from Larry to Arshad or Sameer or Wasif or Bhagat.

How would I rate among my fellow Desi men? I want to know. I'm such an attention whore anyway. Okay, I do it! I'll get Desi rated! I'm gonna start looking for photos of me to upload ASAP. After all, there's really no downside to it. If I rate a 10, I could say, "Hey, I'm a Top Desi and I'm not even a Desi!" and if I rate a 1, I could say, "Of course I got a low rating. They could see that I'm not a real Desi, that's why."

Above all else, if someone accuses me of being an impostor, I'll have a good excuse. I'll just say, "What? Hold on a second... you mean this isn't a website to rate CUBANS? I'm Cuban, so naturally I thought a Desi referred to us. You know, because of Desi Arnaz. DESI ARNAZ, the Cuban who played Ricky Ricardo on 'I Love Lucy'. He was married to Lucille Ball; her CUBAN husband, not her Pakistani husband. How was I supposed to know that a Desi is a guy from Pakistan and not from Cuba?"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Time Has No Meaning in L.A.

Today is yet another sunny day. Sure, there were a few clouds this morning, but of course, they are starting to disappear, and by 2:00 in the afternoon, the sky will be completely clear of everything--but the sun. The sun.

The sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun.

It has a megalomaniacal dominion of the sky. I can't escape it. It is constantly stalking me, the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun the sun...

Don't worry, I'm not going all Edgar Allen Poe on yo' ass. This posting won't go postal. I'm not going to write a cheap imitation of Poe's deliciously psychotic poem, "The Bells," renamed "The Sun."

It's just I feel that 9 months of pure sun, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, with no real change in the weather, with no seasons... well, it gets oppressive.

I never dreeeeeeamed I would ever be complaining of such a thing when I lived in Manhattan.

In NYC, the weather almost always harasses you... tempting you to endure the meteorological bullshit no longer, and move back to wherever you came from. It's oppressive. You freeze in the winter and sizzle in the summer. Spring and autumn are very brief. They come and go in the blink of an eye, giving you hardly any respite from the temperature extremes. The humidity is often at steam room levels. The rain can come at any time. Even if you wake up and the sky is completely blue, you had better take a compact umbrella with you, just in case... it may hail by rush hour. And did I already mention the winters? Don't make me start on the winters...the 5-month winters... the snow, the sleet, the ice, the sludge, the bells the bells the bells the bells the bells the bells the bells the bells the bells....!!!

Am I coming across as, not only a Poe wanna-be, but also as someone who is never satisfied?

Look, I don't want the weather to be hideous, like New York's. Honest I don't. I'd just like a few cloudy days. Some completely gray days. It doesn't have to rain. Just a change in the sky's palate to remind me that time EXISTS, that it has meaning, that each day is unique, that it's not one long day separated by 280 nights.

I just don't feel that I'm very productive here. I'm not as industrious as I was in NYC. I don't get as much done. And it's not just me. I am certain that it's not just me.

This was solidly confirmed a few weeks ago when I met a Lebanese filmmaker, a very talented young director. He divides his time between Beirut, Paris and Los Angeles. He told me that he loves Los Angeles, but after 6 months or so, he feels the need to go to Paris "Where it can rain sometimes."

(Ah, what a life... to be able to escape to Paris whenever you want a little rain)

In L.A., he said, the constant sun and lack of seasons makes him less productive, and less likely to meet deadlines, his projects don't get completed as efficiently here as they do in Paris or Beirut "Where there is weather."

Like me, the constant sun in L.A. gives him the illusion that he has more time to get things done, and he tends to procrastinate. The whole time he was telling me this I was saying, "Yes! YES! I know EXACTLY what you are talking about! You are precisely phrasing how I feel! Thank God I'm not alone in this!"

I know I'm not alone, because it's not just productivity that is affected. People here are major flakes. They forget about dates they have with you. They stand you up. They arrive late. You'll be sitting in the cafe, wondering where they are, because you were supposed to meet for brunch at noon and it's now 12:45, and you call their cell, and they'll say in a lackadaisical voice, "TODAY was the brunch? Aw, sorry, man! I'm in my car right now, on the way to Vegas!"

This has happened to me TWICE, by two different people. I kid you not (well, the other person was on his way to San Diego).

I guess I just have to accept that this goes with the territory when living in SoCal. Everything comes at a price: the weather is pure paradise, and the payback is that you are less productive, and people flake on you.

But hey: I'm working on MY part of the problem. I made a vow that I would be more productive with my writing, and write in this blog EVERY DAY. And so far, I have, from my first posting, on May 13. And so far, it has been sunny every day since May 13.

So now, instead of quoting Poe, I will quote Shakespeare: "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

The fault, dear Larry, lies not in the sun, but in thyself, that thou art a slacker. So stoppeth complaining about the gorgeous weather, and get thy L.A. ass in gear.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Last night was the final episode of American Idol, Season Whatever This One Is. Chris won, Adam lost. America is in shock.

I am not one of these American Idol groupies. I find the whole phenomenon to be... well... a phenomenon. Everyone seems to love Idol... children, teenagers, young adults, the middle-aged, the elderly... and I don't understand why.

From the outset I never watched it, then, two years ago, I started to watch it in the middle of the season. Reason being, there was a show that I used to watch on MSNBC called Scarborough Country, and in addition to 45 minutes of politics, Joe Scarborough would invariably do a segment on American Idol. The topic: SANJAYA.

Sanjaya was a cute, skinny Desi kid with crazy hair and a mediocre voice. Yet he kept advancing in the competition, and Joe would say, "Is this the end of Idol? Are voters purposely voting for the worst singer? Can Idol survive the sabotage?" Joe would have talking heads on the show, talking with great expertise about The Sanjaya Question.

So one day I started watching American Idol to see if this Sanjaya kid was so hideous as to trigger the downfall of the mighty TV franchise. And... I didn't see what the big deal was.

Sure, he wasn't as good a vocalist as the other contestants, but they weren't SO much better than him that it seemed absurd that he was sharing the stage with them. I mean, does Ashley Simpson have that strong of a singing voice? Does Britney Spears? Could you imagine Britney Spears singing, "And I Am Telling You, I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls? Sanjaya, with the proper props, could make good money as a performer.

But I'm getting off-topic. That one and only season that I watched, I have to admit, was rather engaging. I mean, the actual show itself was total cheese-ballery. The staging, the lighting, the visiting celebrities, the backstage documentaries, the way the kids seemed to do nothing but sing a famous song as well they could, usually by mimicking the voice of the song's original singer.

And the audience! The audience who had swallowed the magic of Idol-- hook, line and sinker. The ecstasy with which they would watch these amateurs sing, the giddy energy, the emotional involvement, the way they would boo when a judge made a criticism that they disagreed with, and cheer when a judge would praise a singer that they liked. Then there was the anticipation of the eliminations, the prognostications... It fascinated me.

Yet despite how awful and tacky the pageantry and spectacle and hype was, the show kept me engaged. The main reason was that I got to know the kids in contention, and grew fond of them... just these unknown kids with good voices who are now household names to millions of people. It had a nice Cinderella aspect to it.

Of that half-season that I watched, I thought Melinda to be the most talented, but suspected that it would be a showdown between Jordan and Blake. I was right. I thought Jordan would win. I was right. I had done my duty. I had watched half a season of American Idol. I became involved. I invested. And I have had no desire to watch another season again.

This year, like last year, Idol was completely off my radar screen. I HAD been hearing talk of Adam Lambert here and there, but that's all.

Adam Lambert Adam Lambert Adam Lambert Adam Lambert.

The mysterious name appeared on my friends' Facebook statuses. I heard people speak of him as I was waiting in line at the post office or the supermarket. A old friend of mine was visiting from out of town. Like me, she is 40-years-old, yet she talked about Adam Lambert as though she had a Tiger Beat centerfold of him thumb-tacked to her wall. This friend of mine is no ditz. She's a thinker, a reader, a well-traveled, worldly woman. But Adam Lambert brought out the teeny-bopper in her. He seemed to me the second coming of Christ for the music world, and I had no idea what he looked like or how he sounded.

So yesterday evening, I was on Facebook and saw some of my friends' statuses...

"It'll be Adam tonight!"

"I heart Adam!"

"I'm betting on an upset"

"I think Adam will make a great Idol after tonight"

"I'm betting this'll be the best season finale ever"

With that, I decided to forgo Anderson Cooper 360 and watch the season finale of American Idol.

I watched it from start to finish. IT WAS SO BAD.

Look, I'm really not a snob when it comes to entertainment. I love Broadway musicals, for example. They are hokey, but I love them. I even like Brigadoon. I'm susceptible to schmaltz. I'm not some armchair William F. Buckley. But really, come on. Last night's show was just a wee bit horrible, don'tcha think? In addition to being horrible, it was terrible, and in addition to being terrible, it was dreadful.

It was such an over-the-top variety show. It reminded me of that Love Boat episode where Carol Channing, Ethel Merman, Ann Miller and Della Reese put on a variety show in the ship's theater. I love each of those old broads individually, but having all four of them hamming it up at the same time was such "show-horse overload", that I felt like slitting my wrists.

Last night's finale contained so many gaudy musical acts, one after the other, relentless, illuminated with bombastic lighting and pyrotechnics, the performers dressed ridiculously, cheered on by a frenetically revved-up audience. Most of the musical numbers began with two or more of the top-13 finalists of the season singing a well-known song, then the original artist (often a has-been) would appear to complete the song with them.

Oh I have so many bad memories of last night's show...

It began with the top-13 finalists all dressed in white, singing a really insipid song from a group whose name is "Pink". The choreography was almost as bad as the song. The audience was in ecstasy.

After a few more bad numbers (I want to stress that the voices of the singers were good, but the musical numbers themselves were bad), last year's winner, David Cook, came out and sang a ballad. It was a beautiful song sung by a beautiful voice, but the horrible green lighting, and the audience members near the stage waving their arms ruined the song for me. Did they TELL the audience to do that, COMMAND it? for them to all, uniformly, en-masse wave their arms to his singing? Or have those people drunk THAT MUCH American Idol Kool-Aid? I really wanted to chop all their arms off.

There was only one completely untainted musical number all night long. It was when the female who made it the farthest in the competition beautifully sang "True Colors" with Cyndi Lauper, who was playing a dulcimer. Soulful, simple, heart-felt and real.


Adam Lambert appeared dressed as General Zod.

A few words about Adam Lambert. I finally saw what this guy looked like last night. My first thought when I laid eyes on him at the beginning of the show was that he looks like the Wonder Twins.

"Wonder Twin powers: ACTIVATE! Form of: an ICE ROCKET! Shape of: a MORAY EEL!"

I'm not kidding here. It was the very first thing that I thought when I saw his powder-white skin, his jet-black hair, which was oddly sculpted and cut into that unnatural 'do. His perfectly-shaped eyebrows, his elfin eyes, his notable height when standing next to his diminutive rival, Chris Allen.

Adam Lambert looked like he needed to be in lavender tights, turning himself into a form of water or an animal, saving people in need.

My second thought was that he was gay. I have pretty excellent gaydar, and it went *beep*beep*beep*. I said to the TV, "I don't know how to break it to you, America, but this one is gay" (today I found out that America already knows this, because he is OPENLY gay... and there I was, thinking myself so ahead of the curve).

Well, he reeeeeeally looked gay dressed as General Zod. I closed my eyes and thought, MY GOD, THIS SHOW IS SO TERRIBLE.

I opened my eyes again. That black leather outfit, those boots... "Rise before Zod. Now, KNEEL before Zod...." The guy was dressed for the homepage of a gay S&M website.

Then he started to sing the song "Beth" and I thought he should have renamed it to "Seth".

"Oh Seth what can I do? Seth what can I do...?"

But then it got worse. Kiss appeared.

KISS?!? Are they still together and all alive? It was hard to tell, because they were all wearing their makeup and so I couldn't tell if those were 65-year-old faces under all the greasepaint. They could very well be new, younger singers. Who could tell? Anyway, NOW I understood the General Zod costume. I had forgotten that "Beth" was a KISS song. I thought it was David Soul.

The moment Adam started singing "I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night and Party Every Day" with those old campy, costumed creatures, it dawned on me that I--as a child--I had no taste in rock bands, and I went into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of straight tequila. Gran Centenario. Anejo. 100% Agave.

THIS SHOW IS NEVER GOING TO END. Drink. Pour second glass. Return to sofa.

It got even worse. Adam and Chris, dressed in white, started to sing "We Are the Champions" (Get it? They are the two champions of Idol this year?). Then QUEEN appeared behind them and started singing. Is this a TV show or a time warp? Am I back in 4th grade? I got up, went to the kitchen, and poured myself another tequila.

But the climax of horribleness was when all the male finalists, like eight guys or so, came out dressed like they were on the poster for the movie Reservoir Dogs.... or The Blues Brothers. Standing in a line, they sang, "If you want my body, and you think I'm sexy, come on sugar let me know..." Sexy? You guys? Dressed like the Blues Brothers? Sexy?

I clutched a throw pillow on my sofa and prepared for what I knew was to come: the appearance of Rod Stewart behind the guys to complete the song. I knew the drill by now. And out he came. Rod Stewart. He looked embalmed. Seriously. It looked like Rico from Six Feet Under had done his makeup. His voice was weak compared to those of the black-suited boys who were now singing backup.

THIS CAN'T GET WORSE, I thought. How can this show get worse? LIZA. Liza Minnelli. LIZA MINNELLI will come out, all bloated and slurring, and she will sing with all the female finalists next. They're gonna sing "New York, NY", dressed in red sequins, doing a kick-line as though they were the Rockettes. I need some more tequila.

Luckily, Liza didn't appear, the show was wrapping up, the moment of truth came. In a scene reminiscent of the Miss USA pageant, the two finalists stood together, arms around each others' backs, waiting to hear who won. But unlike Miss USA, it was two dudes.

I hadn't watched the show all season, but I knew that Adam would win, because I hadn't heard the name Chris Allen before that night, whereas the name Adam Lambert seemed to me the musical world's equivalent of the name Barack Obama.

And, the new American Idol iiiiiiiiissssssss.......... Chris Allen!!!!!!

Shock. Surprise. Jaws dropped. Eyes widened. Adam lost? America is astonished.

Okay, so NOW will this god-awful show end??

It did.

The irony of the awfulness that is American Idol, is that Simon Cowell presides over it all. I know there are other judges, but it is Simon who is the ringleader of this circus. The Englishman whose tastes are so refined, whose ear is so delicate, whose standards are so high, who is such an insufferable sophisticate, that he often reduces young aspiring singers into blood pudding with just one withering comment. He's the Christopher Hitchens of the entertainment world, and at the same time, he's the Dan Brown.

I admit that the show is engaging. It's like a Dan Brown novel: a real page-turner, full of great cliff-hangers, but the prose is atrocious. For me, to see this Brit who portrays himself as such an AESTHETE, to see him lording over this hodge-podge, this farrago, this stewpot of musical miscellany... is...

...well... I don't know... this is long, what I've written... what's the point of it?

I guess there is no point. What I've written is a pointless medley of thoughts, just like last night's show was a pointless medley of songs. So who am I to judge?

Sorry. Never mind. Tune into Idol next year. I know you will, and that's okay.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What the Wind Took Away

I realized this morning that today is Cuban Independence Day, May 20th.

Feliz 20 de Mayo!

It's a weird thing to think of, because really, the independent Cuba went from U.S. occupation, to the Magoon governorship, to the Machado dictatorship, to the Batista dictatorship, and finally, to the most durable dictatorship of the 20th century: Castro Bros., Inc.

But I don't want to write about Cuban politics today. It seems futile even at the best of times, and I'm not in a good mood today. Instead, I've decided to type here excerpts from one of the entries of the journal that I wrote when I first visited Havana, in May of 1998.

When I made that first trip to Cuba, I was 29. I wrote a journal that consisted of 350 hand-written pages. For the sake of brevity, I'll only include two of those pages below.

Let me give some background on what I was writing about.

My maternal grandmother's brother, Nestor, was the family's historian. Before I left for Cuba, he gave me a list of addresses of houses that the Sabi family had owned (Sabi is my grandmother's maiden name).

The most important address however, was that of the Sabi bakery. He told me that my great-great grandfather, Salvador Sabi, was born in 1848 in Barcelona, and immigrated to Cuba from Spain as a young man. He opened up a bakery at Calle Brasil 63 in the Old Havana section of the city. It made him a fortune, and he founded other businesses from there. He died a rich man, in Havana, in 1921. His immigrant success was quite evident to me by the huge Sabi houses that I had been looking for and photographing while I was in Havana.

So one day, I set out looking for my great-great grandfather's bakery. I highly doubted it would still be there, but I went looking for it just in case. This what I wrote in my journal at the end of that day...

Friday, May 15, 1998--

"...I walked until I got to the beginning of Calle Brasil, where it meets the Capitol Building. I remember that Tio Nestor told me that it would be there, and I checked on my address list. Yes, Calle Brasil, where my great-great grandfather started his first business in Cuba, no sooner than he had gotten off the boat from Spain.... I doubted very much when I talked to Nestor that the bakery would still be there, and now, after a few days in crumbling Havana, I doubted that the BUILDING would still be there...

"I walked and walked along Calle Brasil. I could tell that it would be at the very end of the street almost. The address is #63. By the time I reached the 60s, I had arrived at La Plaza Vieja. I suddenly got distracted from finding the address, because I was agape at this massive plaza, in TOTAL RUINS, which is in the process of being rebuilt.

"It must have been such a lovely square when my great-great grandfather had arrived from the old country. It's weird: today people emigrate TO Spain FROM Cuba. Back then, people came TO Cuba FROM Spain, for a better life. You can still see some faint traces of THAT Cuba on the remaining buildings of La Plaza Vieja, especially this magnificent Art Nouveau hotel, El Hotel Palacio, which is in one of the corners of the square.

"Man, the noise of the sawing and hammering...this is RECONSTRUCTION (as in post-American Civil War reconstruction). It reminds me of the scene in Gone with the Wind, where Scarlett and Mammy are walking through the streets of Atlanta (during reconstruction), Scarlett wearing that green velvet dress made of her mother's curtains, the 'portieres'...RECONSTRUCTION... the Havana after Castro will be like the Old South after the Civil War, and you can bet that there will be a lot of carpetbaggers invading Cuba, too.

"It's funny, because one of my cab drivers called Havana, or what WAS Havana, 'Lo que el viento se llevo' '--which is the Spanish title for Gone with the Wind. And Cuba itself is the Tara plantation for for most exiles... Scarlett coming back to Tara in the dead of night, dragging that dying horse, and Melanie, the baby, and Prissy with her. It's dark at night. She peers through the moonlight upon returning... 'Is it there? Is Tara still standing??' The full moon comes out from behind the clouds. She sees. 'It's still there! The Yankees haven't burned it down! Tara's still there! '...Oh, it's still there all right, but it's in rotten shape.

"Pedro Almodovar says that Scarlett O'Hara is the quintessential Manchega (a woman from the La Mancha region of Spain). But I disagree with him. Scarlett is the quintessential CUBANA. What's more, she's the quintessential HABANERA... her spitfire ways of coming out ahead and surviving, regardless of the disasters that are thrown her way.

"Anyhow, the building where #63 used to be has been knocked down, and a new building has been built. The Sabi bakery is definitely out of business."

And a page later, I wrote:

"...I thought about the telephone conversation with Mom Wednesday night, when she asked me about her lovely childhood house on Calzada 608. I didn't know how to break it to her, how ugly I thought that block was now, and how the interior of her house has been turned into a showcase for Che Guevara paintings on one side, and a low-budget apartment complex on the other. She had painted for me a very vivid picture of that charming street and house from her girlhood. She couldn't accept that it could be THAT ugly now. Even with the revolution, how could it disappear, the beauty, so quickly?

"I thought of La Plaza Vieja... I thought of the cab driver's comment... I thought of what I would tell my mother. 'I have the answer, Mom. Here it is in plain Spanish: ES LO QUE EL VIENTO SE LLEVO'. It's gone. All gone. Gone with the wind that swept through Cuba'.

"In Spanish, 'lo que el viento se llevo' ' does not literally mean 'gone with the wind'. Rather, it means, 'what the wind took away'. And that is why, I am sorry to say, that I don't like Havana. In a strange way, I hate it. Why...?

"Because everything that I would have loved about Havana, is what the wind took away."

Happy Cuban Independence Day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Wonder I Look Great in a Beret

I just took an online quiz, and this was the result, copied and pasted below...

"Larry completed the quiz "What is your Euro-persona?" with the result French. You have an artistic, emotional personality and you prefer peaceful protest to violence. You are a natural romantic at heart, though you can have a highly critical personality at times. You like your humor sharp and cynical. Slice off a hunk of cheese with your whine, because you most closely resemble the people of France."


I have never been so accurately analyzed in such few words... and such well-chosen words, because whine and wine are interchangeable when it comes to me.

And what is scarier is that this accurate analysis of me was done from my having answered just 20 multiple-choice questions. I thought these quizzes were bullshit, but now I'm not so sure.

Funny, when I took the quiz, I thought I'd be found to be Italian or Spanish, but French is close enough. The three countries are Latin, so ce n'est pas une grande difference.

Francais, moi? C'est bon.

Twin Bathtubs Are Not Sexy

Those Cialis bathtubs are driving me crazy.

Do you know what I'm referring to? I'm referring to those Cialis commercials that I see on CNN and MSNBC all the time. I always feel very young when I watch those two channels, because a lot of the commercials are geared towards people that need some sort of prescription medication for one malady or another, that the young never experience.

I don't need Cialis, nor any of the other drugs featured in the commercials (yet), so it makes me feel younger than I am (I'm 40). Watching a 24-hour news channel is like taking a dip in the Fountain of Youth for me. After all, you don't see Cialis commercials on MTV or VH1.

Cialis is a drug used by men who have erectile dysfunction, which explains why it's on CCN, because if it were on MTV, the drug in-need would be an erectile inhibitor.

And to give you an idea whom these commercials are geared to, there is always a subtitle that says, "See our ad in Golf Digest".

The Cialis spots always show a middle-aged or borderline-elderly man with an attractive woman whom we presume to be his wife. They smile with each other, hold hands, link arms, do some light dancing, maybe they're walking through an open field, hiking in the hills, or strolling barefoot on the beach.

No matter what geographical setting they may be in, they always end up sitting next to each other in separate, but equal, bathtubs. Side-by-side bathtubs. Big, claw-footed, white porcelain bathtubs. Like the ones that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert likely sat in to get themselves in the mood for some hot Victorian sex. How sexy. THAT will get my erection in gear.

Every commercial is a tad bit different... the twin bathtubs could be sitting on the edge of a cliff, offering the couple a panoramic view of a canyon... or they could be on the dock of lake, offering a view of the water... or they could be on the shore, with waves approaching the clawed-feet of the tubs. Last night I saw one where the bathtubs were actually IN the water, like, in a very shallow pond, if I recall correctly... perhaps in the marshlands of Louisiana.

That was really aggravating. Why be sitting in bathtubs when the bathtubs themselves are IN water?!? What's the use? That's like playing in a sandbox in the middle of the desert. It's unnecessary. Why then? Because it's sexier? More romantic?

I mean, last October, I was in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, on the beach, swimming in the water as the sun was setting. It was beautiful, like a Cialis commerical (because it's always sunset on the beach in a Cialis commercial).

However, never once did I want to get out of the warm water of the Pacific with its soft undulations, and get into a BATHTUB on the shoreline. And I was alone. Had I been with someone I loved, I would have wanted to be in the open waters, touching and caressing and embracing as the sun set, not separated by porcelain. Doing it in the open waters, with close bodily contact would make me go from flaccid to erect much more quickly than sitting separately in a tub.

Come to think of it, maybe these fictional men in these commercials don't have erectile dysfunction at all. Maybe they can't get it up because they are really hapless and lacking in good sense when it comes to creating a romantic atmosphere for their wife.

You see, I've taken a bath in a bathtub before, and I know that very soon, the water goes from being very warm to lukewarm, and then to room temperature, which to the body doesn't feel like room temperature, it feels COLD. This can be remedied though, because little drain below the faucet always lets a little water go away, so I keep adding more hot water in the tub to keep the water warm.

But even with doing this, staying in the tub for a long time is not desirable. My fingers and toes start to prune, and the residual soap in the water covers my arms and chest with an unpleasant film. Soon, I open the drain, and wash the soapy water off of me by standing up and turning on the shower. None of this is sexy to me.

Not that having sex in a bathtub with someone is NOT sexy. It can be very sexy, if both of you can comfortably fit in the bathtub. But: you must both be in the SAME BATHTUB. After all, you never see people making out in separate jacuzzis. They are in the same jacuzzi.

But forget romance. Let's talk logistics.

I look at these couples in the commercials, sitting in their bathtubs, out in the middle of Nature, far from any plumbing. Somehow, they must have lugged gallons and gallons of piping hot water to the top of that cliff, or to the middle of that field, or to the edge of that lake, to the shore of that beach. The water HAD to have been piping hot, because once you pour it into the porcelain tubs, OUTDOORS, the water's heat will slowly be taken away by the breeze (or quickly taken away by the wind), so the water will need to be boiling, in order to remain lukewarm for more than 20 minutes.

But let's say these married couples DO somehow transport gallons of boiling water into the great outdoors. Did they at the same time transport the bathtubs? Do you have any idea how much a 6-foot long, 3-foot deep, porcelain, claw-footed bathtub weighs? I don't, but I imagine it weighs a lot. But you don't only have to transport one, you've gotta move TWO out there, along with the water...

...the whole ordeal reminds me of those documentaries about Stonehenge and Easter Island, where the experts try to figure out how those ancient peoples were able to transport those heavy slabs of stone from the quarry to their location. I always feel like the archaelogists in those documentaries. I always think, "How did that ancient couple manage dragging those bathtubs out there?"

And then what? I mean, once you've avoided a hernia and third-degree water burns, then what? You sit in the tub next to your lady love, and look at the ocean... or the lake... or the pond... or the field... or the canyon... or the marshlands... and in 30 minutes, the water is freezing, your fingers look like raisins...

...and your penis is shriveled up.


Monday, May 18, 2009

I Really Need to Learn How to Indentify an Earthquake

Yesterday evening I was in Long Beach, with my friend Alexis and a new acquaintance whose name I've already forgotten.

We were leaving a bar, and heading towards my car, because it was time for me to head back to Los Angeles. We were walking on a sidewalk on Broadway, a main street of Long Beach, and yet a very quiet one, once the sun sets.

As we were walking, I saw a beauty salon, and admired its name, "Flaunt Salon". I thought that was a great name for a beauty salon; I liked it. Just then, the locked double doors of the closed salon started rattling. Then they started to shake. They were glass doors, so the shaking made a lot of noise. We stopped in our tracks just as were were in front of the doors.

It's amazing how many thoughts can pass through your head in just a few seconds.

At first, I thought the doors were shaking due to the wind, but there was no wind. The air was perfectly still. So then I thought that it was a poltergeist, even though I don't believe in ghosts.

I said, "Is that a poltergeist?!? Look!" and pointed at the glass doors.

Alexis said, "It's an earthquake. We having an earthquake!"

I focused on my feet, trying to discern if I could feel any trembling or shaking or rolling beneath them, but I couldn't. The concrete sidewalk seemed solidly still to me.

The three of us just stood there, watching the glass double doors of the salon until they stopped shaking.

"It's over" Alexis said, and I noticed that the three of us had big smiles on our faces... not smiles of nervousness, but smiles of excitement.

We started chatting about it... "Did you feel it?" "I didn't feel anything." "I felt a little." "Did you see the way the doors were shaking?" etc.

"I thought it was a ghost", I said, "what a relief that it was just a quake."

After walking another block, we saw a woman on the sidewalk who was holding a little girl in her arms. The little girl was wearing pink pajamas and had her blond hair tied back in a pony tail. She was resting her head on the woman's shoulder. She looked upset.

We asked the woman if they were on the sidewalk because of the quake. She said that inside her house, the quake felt very strong, that the house was shaking and things were rattling on their shelves. She had taken her little daughter outside because she was afraid to be in the house now.

"Awww, it's okay, nothing happened," we told the child soothingly, " it's all over now. You're gonna be just fine."

And we kept walking. I thought to myself how mean it would have been had I told the little girl, "Awww, don't worry. Your house wasn't shaking because of an earthquake. It was just a ghost. An angry ghost. Your house is just haunted, that's all."

As we crossed the next block, we saw a man out on the sidewalk, and he told us the same thing, that inside the house, it felt very strong.

I said to him, "Not outside. I didn't feel it at all. If it hadn't been for the doors of that Flaunt salon shaking, I wouldn't have even known it had happened."

This isn't the first time that I haven't been able to identify and earthquake.

Last July, I was in Santa Monica, at Ocean Park Casting, auditioning for a Chrysler commercial. I had lost my bar code, and had to go to the computer to print me another one. The computers are in a corner in which the walls aren't walls but windows... floor-to-ceiling windows.

So I'm sitting at the computer, and the windows next to me start shaking, and the floor was swaying. It took a few seconds for me to even realize that something unusual was happening. I asked the guy at the computer next to me why the windows were shaking, and he said, "Because it's an earthquake!" and just then, everybody started coming out of all the casting studios en-masse. We all stood around doing nothing, with bizarre smiles on our faces, just waiting for it to stop, which it did, shortly thereafter.

Well, that was my first earthquake ever, my very first. So perhaps I had an excuse not to know that it was a quake.

But what was my excuse last night? I am not a superstitious person. I do not believe in ghosts, or phantoms, or angels, or demons, or poltergeists, or haunted houses... much less haunted beauty salons.

Yet last night, when I saw those glass doors shaking, even after having seen the casting center's windows shaking during last summer's quake, what did I think?



Who am I? Carol Ann?

"They're heeeeeeere!"

I have lived in Southern California for 3 & 1/2 years now. I really need to learn how to identify an earthquake.

"Because Nostradamus told me so"

Yesterday I was in Long Beach attending a big Italian luncheon at the house of a friend of a friend of mine. There were like ten of us there. Afterwards, all of us went to the back patio so that some of us could have a post-meal smoke. We started talking about various topics.

At one point, the conversation drifted to the AIDS epidemic, and how it is believed by many, that the HIV virus entered the USA in the summer of 1976, during the time of the bicentennial festivities, and that for 5 years, people were having unprotected sex and unknowingly spreading the unknown HIV virus, which started to transform into AIDS in 1981, thus making its presence known to the world.

Well, a guy sitting across from me stated that the HIV virus was created by the U.S. government in an attempt to wipe out gay people. It was created by using the Hepatitis virus, and it was done purposely, ordered by Richard Nixon, most likely.

This brought an awkward pause in the conversation. I ventured to speak.

"How do you know this?" I asked.

"Because Nostradamus told me so." he said.

A long pause. I looked in his eyes, as did the others. His eyes told it all: he was totally serious. Another pause. I proceeded with caution, and delicately asked him,

"Nostradamus? He died in the 1500s, didn't he?"

"Yes, but he still speaks to us today."

"He speaks to you? Nostradamus speaks to you?"

"Well no, not to me. He speaks to a woman that I know. She's a medium. He speaks to her, and she tells me what he says. He speaks to the world through her."

"So you think that the U.S. government invented HIV purposely, because a psychic woman you know told you that Nostradamus had told her so?"

"Yes." he said

I said, and left it at that.

I decided not the press the topic. I mean, the guy looked to me like someone who, over the course of his life, has smoked enough marijuana to de-forest the Amazon. Enough said.

But I will say this: In the future, if anybody ever asks me why I believe something, I'm gonna say, "Because Nostradamus told me so."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Gods Are Wonderful and They Also Suck

Yesterday I got into a religious back-and-forth on Facebook with a really smart and nice guy who lives in North Carolina and has a deep and devout faith in God.

You know, one of those people who, when using pronouns for God, writes He Him and His, instead of, he him and his... as if pressing the Caps Lock key for the letter H is really going the extra mile to show respect for God... as if a capital H is needed to show how important God really is... I mean, He supposedly created the universe, and He controls everything within it, but that capital H... well, we need it to stress His importance.

I don't mean to mock this Facebook friend of mine, though. He is a really cool guy. Very bright. Kind. A thinker. And he didn't invent this capital H tradition, so I'm not knocking him personally.

The reason we got into the topic was that he saw what I have written on my profile under the Religious Views heading. What I wrote there was: "If there's a God, he doesn't know who Larry is".

I stole that line from my aunt Maria. When I first heard her say it about her own views on God, I laughed out loud, because I feel the exact same way, and that one line expresses so many things so compactly and efficiently.

Well, this guy (whom I've never met in person) sends me a message offering me the good news that even if I don't think that God knows who I am, that He (note the capital H) really does know who I am, intimately. He cares about me, He loves me, and He is involved in my life.

As an Agnostic, I asked him what I always ask Believers: "How do you KNOW this?" Well, this guy told me what Believers often tell me: that God has revealed Himself to him. He has a personal experience with God. He feels His presence. To which I wrote:

"How do you, a mere fallible human being who hasn't lived in this teeny-tiny corner of this 15 billion year-old universe for more than a few decades KNOW this about God? Because you FEEL it. You feel his presence, right? Well, how do you know that you're not self-manufacturing that feeling?
For example, just to take a famous case, just because Joan of Arc heard voices from Heaven doesn't really mean she was actually hearing them. She was honest and sincere, she believed they were voices, she felt them in her heart and soul, but that doesn't mean those voices were real.
I simply don't know about God, whether he exists or not, and I don't presume to think myself wise or perceptive enough to be able to make statements about such profound and incomprehensible matters."

I then asked him what I have asked many religious people, and no one has ever been able to answer it to my satisfaction. It is the age-old question asked to people who believe in a single, loving, compassionate and OMNIPOTENT God:

"If God is loving, and compassionate and omnipotent, then why does he allow so much pain, suffering and injustice in the world?"

Well, this guy answered with a very loooooooooong written reply, which was actually very cogent. I could copy and paste it here, but he hasn't given me permission to do so. LET'S JUST SAY HE HAD ANSWERS. Lots of them. He wrote with such certainty, giving me examples, telling me what God thinks, what God's perspectives are, His desires, why He intervenes at certain times and doesn't intervene at other times, why He lets the good suffer and the bad be rewarded, what His scheme is in doing so, why He lets children suffer, what God expects from us, etc. etc. etc.

My head was spinning at this guy's hubris.

Again, he is a very nice guy. From what I know about him, I like him.

But Oh, the HUBRIS!

To think that you've got God figured out!

To be so goddamned CERTAIN and self-assured!

So I wrote to him:

Man, I just looked on your profile. You are 23 years-old! At the ripe old age of 23 you've got God and his workings and perspectives all figured out, huh?
Please don't think I'm being dismissive or belittling of your opinions and your age, but really, think about it. You've been on this planet since **1985** (the year I got my driver's license) and you've already got God understood with a personal knowledge and self-assurance that would make me think that you and God hang out at Starbucks every day, discussing the great questions of eternity over a double soy vanilla latte."

(We both belong to a Facebook group called, "I Am Fluent in Sarcasm", so I knew that this sarcasm on my behalf wouldn't offend him)

I then went on to tell him what I've thought for a long time:

The ancient Greeks were religiously more logical and sophisticated.

The gods of the ancient Greeks were not totally benign and compassionate deities. They were vain, they were jealous, they took sides, they settled vendettas among themselves using human beings as pawns... they were fickle, at times irrational... as well as being loving and generous and rewarding.

In my opinion, the pagan Greeks didn't have this conundrum that Jews, Christians, Muslims and other present-day religions have. Their gods were imperfect, so they presided over an imperfect world. It made sense that they would allow, and even CAUSE, pain, suffering, catastrophe and injustice. Their gods often lacked compassion. But they were also marvelous. Just like Nature: often lacking compassion, but also marvelous.

I think that if I had lived in ancient Greece, I would not have lost my faith and become an Agnostic, because a lot of the intellectual questions that bar me from believing in the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam would have been answered to me satisfactorily (and I wouldn't have had that pesky thing called MODERN SCIENCE to debunk all the myths).

Yes, I would have been a practicing pagan. The world is wonderful and it also sucks, because gods are wonderful, and they also suck.

Questions answered. Faith intact.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

You Can't Pick & Choose Your Sins

Okay, so this morning (well, not technically morning--I woke up at noon) I'm drinking my coffee and eating my oatmeal and watching CNN, and it's nothing but incessant coverage of President Obama's speech at the University of Notre Dame's commencement ceremony.

Lots of good Catholics are up in arms that a president who is pro-choice is going to speak on their sacred campus. The Catholic Church is pro-life, and many devout Notre Damers don't want a man who goes against so important a doctrine as Abortion Should Be Illegal, to speak at commencement. Abortion is a sin. Obama supports abortion rights. Therefore, Obama should be persona-non-grata at graduation.

People: you can't pick & choose your sins.

Case in point: George W. Bush.

Bush spoke at Notre Dame's commencement ceremony, and no one batted an eyelash. Bush? Totally cool. No problems. No protestors. Welcomed with open arms.

However, Bush was (and is) pro-death penalty. I mean, that man practically had a conveyor belt of executions running full-time when he was governor of Texas. The Catholic Church is against the death penalty (and against torture, which includes water-boarding). It makes sense that they FINALLY are, considering that their savior and redeemer was himself executed (and tortured). Also, Pope John Paul II was totally against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And which country did Bush invade..?

Neither Bush nor Obama are Catholics, but both as leaders went against the wishes of the Catholic Church, albeit in different ways.

So why is it okay for Bush to go against the Vatican and still get to speak at Notre Dame as a welcomed guest, but it's not okay for Obama to go against the Vatican. He's going to Notre Dame as a person of controversy. That's all CNN can talk about today... the controversy!


Catholics say the pope is infallible, but they pick & choose among what he says. Protestants say the Bible is the direct word of God, but they pick & choose which biblical admonitions to obey and which to ignore.

Case in point: Carrie Prejean, a.k.a Miss California 2009, and the lady in waiting to Miss USA 2009 (because if something happens to Kristen Dalton of North Carolina, Carrie, as first runner-up, will be our new nation's representative in the beauty department).

Carrie, when answering her final question the night of the Miss USA pageant, about legalizing gay marriage, said that she believed that marriage should remain only between a man and woman.

That's cool. Whatever. It's her opinion. That fact that I disagree with her is irrelevant. It's her opinion and she's entitled to it. No biggie.

But THEN, she starts making the media rounds because her answer started a hub-bub. She goes on Sean Hannity's TV show and says that it was more important for her to be "Biblically correct" rather than politically correct. This comment, "biblically correct", made her the darling of conservative Christians.


What is she referring to? To the book of Leviticus? The book that says two men can't have sex, because it is an abomination and they must be put to death? Because that same book of the Bible says that if a man has sex with a woman, and also has sex with her mother, well, the three of them should be burned alive 'til they die. Imagine the movie The Graduate under those rules... Benjamin, Elaine and Mrs. Robinson, all three burned at the stake. What a fiery final scene THAT would have been.

Ah Leviticus... a woman who gives birth to a boy is defiled and impure for 7 days, and a woman who gives birth to a girl is defiled and impure for 14 days. She of course is impure and can't be touched when she's having her period. The furniture she sits on can't be touched either. Also, you can't eat rabbit meat, pork... no shrimp, no crab, no lobster... no garments made of two different fabrics may be worn (a fashion faux-pas AND a sin!).

The Bible has instructions for keeping slaves... for selling your daughters... it proscribes the death penalty for a myriad of "crimes" which today are routine behavior, even among practicing Jews and Christians.

So Miss California says she wants to be "biblically correct"?

What does she think the writers of the Bible (including the New Testament) would have done had they seen her traipsing around in a bikini in public, as she did on national television the night of the pageant?


Maybe, if she was lucky, Jesus would have strolled by, noticed the stoning, and stopped it. But after the rock-throwers had dispersed, he would have told her, "Go, AND SIN NO MORE" (in other words, "compete in the swimsuit competition no more... pose for semi-nude photos on the beach no more").

Biblically correct.... GIVE ME A BRRRRREAK.

I am so sick of relgious hypocrites picking & choosing... whether they be a bishop at Notre Dame or a 21 year-old girl in the Miss USA pageant.


Friday, May 15, 2009

"It's a turn-off for me, so it's wrong"

Today I was listening to the Randi Rhodes Show on A.M. 1150, and she made a mistake. She said on the air that the California supreme court had declared that same-sex marriage is legal, that Proposition 8 had been overturned. "Great!", I exclaimed. Then after a commercial break, she said that she had read the wrong news flash, that it was a news flash from 2008, and she apologized for getting her listeners' hopes up.

Too late. Dudes were already calling. Randi's audience is primarily liberal, but the gay marriage thing gets the straight dudes a callin'. The first straight dude said that he doesn't like being called a bigot just because he's against gay marriage. He said that he was in favor of civil unions, but not for marriage, because male-female marriage is a tradition that goes back for thousands of years.

For some reason, that reasoning doesn't irk me so much, especially since he said he was for civil unions. I disagree with his reasoning, but it doesn't irk me at all. He wants to keep the tradition he values. Not that letting gays marry would keep him from partaking in that tradition, because he can still marry a woman, but fine. It makes no sense to me, but fine. To him, it's a tradition that he does not want altered.

What DOES irk me, big-time, is when he said that he thinks that homosexuality is wrong, that the behavior of it is wrong, that it's just, by his standards, WRONG. He claimed that he is not a bigot just because he thinks that gay sex and gay relationships are wrong. And the reason he is not a bigot is.... because he's for civil unions! He thinks gays should have civil rights, even though he thinks that being gay is wrong, so he CAN'T be a bigot!

Now: why IS gay sex wrong, according to him? I didn't hear him quoting the Bible or giving other religious reasons, so here's my theory: because it doesn't MAKE HIM HORNY. The idea of two dudes getting hot 'n heavy under the sheets is a turn-off for him. The idea of performing fellatio, and kissing a man, and having anal sex with a man is repulsive to him, so it's wrong.

Randi kept asking him WHY it was wrong to be gay, and he kept talking around her questions. He should have just been honest with himself and said, "It's wrong because I think it's gross." That would have been a good reply. This one would also have worked: "It's a turn-off for me, so it's wrong."

I don't understand this way of thinking. I don't think that any sexual activity that two, sane, CONSENTING adults do is wrong. As long as they are both adults, and no one is being coerced, or being taken advantage of for whatever reason, it's okay. Above all else, as long as it brings them both sexual gratification, then it's not wrong. It may be DISGUSTING to me, but it's not WRONG simply because I find it gross.

This made me think of my previous post here, about the Wall Street men who go to a dominatrix to get sexually aroused by her insulting them and humiliating them and abusing them. They get turned on, for example, by having her brush their hair severely, until the hairbrush makes their scalp sting and burn.

Do I think it's bizarre to get turned-on by getting your hair brushed until it causes scalp pain? Yes. Do I think that getting flogged is a weird way to get an erection? Absolutely. Does the idea of getting tied up, gagged and blindfolded make me shudder rather than make me horny? You betcha. And I won't even go into sexual defecation, because I may vomit. But I don't think it's wrong.

Whatever turns people on, turns people on. Whatever floats your boat. Just don't force someone to do it. Do it only with someone who is really willing. Do it in private if you think it'll scare the horses. And don't do it with kids. That's all. Otherwise, it is not wrong.

So why do these straight dudes think that homo sex is WRONG and hetero sex is RIGHT? Other than the fact that they are turned-on by hetero sex, I think...'s because they must feel a bit god-like, subconsciously.

I mean really, they DO, no? Deep down inside, I mean. They may not REALIZE that this is the reason, but it IS, isn't it? If you think your standards are universally right, then you must think yourself to be a bit god-like.

I was thinking this as the NEXT straight dude called the radio show and told Randi that gay sex is wrong because it's not natural. She told him that it's perfectly natural, that there is homosexuality in Nature, that many non-human animals have gay sex, and that people who are gay, are gay by nature. He said, "No, it's a FREAK of Nature".

Well, Randi went off on him for using the word "freak", and I started thinking, "Hmmm... this guy thinks he can proclaim what is a freak of Nature and what isn't. Subconsciously, he must fancy himself to be a bit god-like, too, huh?"

You know, I think that homosexuality is SO natural, SO a part of Nature. I think gay men and lesbians are Nature's way of trying to slow down population growth. Really. I do.

The population of the world doubled from 1960 to 20o9. Think of it. In a little less than 50 years, we produced the same amount of people that it took from the dawn of humanity all the way to 1960.

In 50 years, we did in population growth what took 400,000 years. WHOA.

So maybe Nature will produce more and more homosexuals as the years progress, in an attempt to slam on the brakes on over-population, and as a by-product, make the world more FAB-u-lous! As Rosalind Russell said in Auntie Mame, "What could possibly be more natural than that?"

Hmm... but maybe I'm subconsciously thinking myself to be a bit god-like, too... to think that that's case in Nature, just because I believe it. Maybe I'm no different than those bigoted dudes calling Randi's show...

Men: We're incorrigible.