Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Shout Out! Part Two

Yay! I joined the YMCA! Yay! I went to the pool for the first time in 10 years! Yay! I can still swim, and I still think it's one of the better zone-outs going. Yay!



So, more blogroll, and it's tasty!

Today's edition finds us with the folks who know me best as Randy Wylde. I adopted the second identity several years ago now; must be at least five or six. I was laboring under a ruthless dictatorship at work, lots o' rumors about online identity-theft were making the rounds, and I'd just become deeply dishearted by Salon's TableTalk (TT) adopting a pay-to-play structure, and even more deeply disheartened when the first exodus I followed away from there folded under internal squabbling and disfunction. So...when I decided to try out PeoplesForum, I was wary, and thought it might be a good idea to experiment with an alias.

Over the years, Boo and I have gone through various degrees of seriousness about having children. I can't really call it a regret that we didn't, but things would certainly have been different. Back in the early days of this discussion, we kicked around names, and I offered up "Randy Wylde" as first and middle. Because it sounds like something every young man or woman should be.... Boo, of course, sensibly vetoed the suggestion, since combining that with my actual last name would be somewhat like naming someone "Arbovax the Conqueror" - it has a bit too much freight for the 21st Century. But I've never forgotten the names, which actually come from two boys I knew and admired in my schoolboy days. And it seemed like someone it would be fun to be. From such stuffs is an online persona born.

I must confess I don't know all of these people equally well. PeoplesForum (PF) was a large place (since developing financial difficulties it's been much diminished; the survivors are mostly at DriveweSaid, a new forum which is still developing). I must confess, also, that I've never met a single one of these people face to face. However, many of them must number amongst my closest friends. We chat every day, we quarrel and make up, we make each other laugh. Some of them know opinions that I've never expressed to anyone else. So.

So. Let's start with the gals! When I started investigating PF as a place to hang out, I was mainly a movie buff. The movie forum was the only one I ever participated in at TT. At PF, I knew the forum host from TT, but due to some bad blood, the number of participants was small. So, suddenly I had time to look around and see what else people were chatting about. It was a short trip to the music thread, and I lurked a while to get the lay of the land. My oldest surviving post (many have been deleted) post is from November 2002, and it's lame, and I don't even have any idea what it was supposed to mean originally, so I won't repost it here.

However, near the top of the forum page was a link to something called "Pants Central - A Place For Pants People." Not having the slightest idea what Pants People were, I investigated. Well, who couldn't fall in love with a place where Pants People were contributing on a thread called "Not Without My Lifetime® Original Movie!" I laughed my ass off, and volleyed in a few suggestions (long gone. probably not that funny, either). At any rate, the rest is history.

The host of the Pants People was the Warrior Queen, a formidable woman whose online avatars sported flaming red hair and thrashin' guitars. The few photos she posted matched in ferocity. Now known as Maggie O, she's still a formidable woman. A web goddess, a gifted photographer, a talented musician, and an opinionated bitch (but in the best possible way), Maggie's What the Hell Am I Doing Here? is essential reading. And buy her CD!

Julie Beth is also Pants People, and a talented musician in her own right; currently she's bassist for The Casting Couch. Her blog is called Ill-Sorted Ephemera, and on it you can find out about her recent marriage to (Dutcher (one of those folks I don't know very well), the current travels of The Casting Couch, and her fabulous Stella Scooter, which, although I have a perfectly serviceable and loveable scooter of my own, makes me think I just may need another. I'm thinking the pink is a must-have for a butch number like myself. If The Casting Couch's upcoming tour brings them to a town near you, go, and give her a hug for me. 'kay?

Also from PF music and Pants - Melpster! Whose Monster on a Rope is a reincarnated blog, and we're very happy she's back. If you want the latest skinny on what you should add to your music collection, Mel's your gal. Well, actually she's Joe's gal, except that probably sounds sexist, and therefore Mel's her own gal. But she and Joe have a house as of last week, so I guess now they're both the bank's bitches. What, me? Jealous?

Spidra Webster has one of the coolest online aliases ever, and is also a talented musician (hmm...get the big fucking clue stick, I'm sensing a theme here...), her blog is on LiveJournal which is not my favorite format, but with a name like The Stream of Conciousness Has Its Headwaters In My Mouth, how can you resist?

We'll continue this later, shall we? It's late, and I'm going to feel like a truck is parked on my thorax tomorrow. Wish me virtual Vicodin, and the will to get back in the water. I'll even settle for virtual Tylenol.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Shout Out! Part One

Well! Big week on the Boo front...Guess who's Minnesota Blog Of The Day? I'm actually very proud, and more than a little jealous! But as Boo has often tended to underrate his writing ability, I'm really happy to see that someone else thinks he's as talented as I do.

He sings too! I worked the assistant stage manager gig for One Voice Mixed Chorus this weekend (with whom Boo sings), which I have to say is about 1001 times less stressful than actually being the stage manager, which I've done several times for this chorus over the years. Instead, my friend Randy (no relation) did the heavy lifting, and I just did what he asked and offered the occasional advice. When asked. It really baffles me, over and over, year after year, how we can take this group on tour to places they've never been, and when it comes to lining up, getting on stage, not getting lost...they do just great! But. Get them home, and put them in their regular performance venues, and getting them to get on stage rapidly turns into a largely futile exercise in herding cats. I had to get out my "junior high school substitute teacher" voice at dress-rehearsal Thursday, and, after their ears stopped ringing (I can shout surprisingly loudly - I subbed in public schools for two years), they tried much harder to attend to what needed to be done. Which is good, because screaming at them when there's a hall full of paying audience is not very professional.

The show went smoothly (enough), they sang beautifully, and I have to say I'm really no closer to loving Robert Frost's poetry or Randall Thompson's music. But it was nice.

So, Andy didn't miss all that much, though we certainly missed him. Andy somehow manages to get this group lined up quickly and efficiently without screaming, and takes a huge load off the stage managers whenever he's around. Unfortunately, he's very far from being around, as he's in Cambodia at the moment. Andy is in year two of a round-the-world trip, and you can read about it by clicking the top link on my blog roll (or his name in this very paragraph). After saving up for several years, he set off on this journey, staying at hostels, eating local foods, taking local transportation. Kind of like he did when he lived here in Minnesota, I guess, but it's not a common way to travel, and I have to say I'm in awe. Though the junior high teacher came out again when I read about that little boat trip young man (22-Nov-05)! What were you thinking! "I trust I need not point out the folly of traveling with out a guide, local knowledge, or even a map" indeed! And the vivid tales of crossing the street in Hanoi? Yikes!

Andy's one of the few people on my blogroll whom I've met in person, and who knows me by another name. The others are Boo, ahem, Mamluke at Late Late Antiquity (duh!), and Grouchbutt at Thank You In Advance For Understanding. The more I read Grouchbutt's blog, the more I realize how much I miss his visits, since he is even funnier in person. He also has great taste in music, and great taste in handsome athletes. Sometime I may even pay attention to what sports they play. Besides, his post with a title I couldn't pronounce on a drunken bet Eu te amo mas eu não gosto de você muito para a direita agora makes me laugh til I pee. Because. Boo. Has. Shelves.

So, the rest of this week, I'm going to post about some of the other people on my blogroll who know me primarily by my nom de Internet, and why you should check them out too.

No, really. More than one post a week. I can do this.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Voice In My Head

All right! That's IT! You're not moving from this spot until you have a blog post. POSTED. Not just written, POSTED, too. (Internal grumbling)

So...uh. What do you want to write about? Dunno. Must be something. New stuff happens every day, and all that. I mean, you've been thinking about doing that "shout out" post where you go down your blog roll and talk about who's who and why you like them? What about that?

Well, kind of a crappy opening for that kind of post. Maybe next week. Because you WILL post next week. No arguments! So what else ya got?

Well, there's the Brokeback Mountain thing....Oh, don't even start. Look, first of all you did LIKE the film. Well... You DID! It's just that you didn't love it, and you wanted to, and you just don't. Well...I could post some of my excerpts from the forum on why I didn't like it... Um, I mean, why I DID like it, but not enough. Or whatever I feel about it. Ambivalent I guess. (Quick drivewesaid.com forum search ensues)

Posted Dec 15, 2005 :

Todd Friel was having a big ol' hissy the other day on his talk show about Brokeback Mountain. Neither he, nor anyone who called in, had either read the story or seen the film. So, basically, they went into raptures about the "glorification of deviance", the subversion of the "macho cowboy image", and the "positive message to sinners" that it sends. Which is a lot for a tragedy of ill-starred lovers to accomplish.

I thought it particularly choice that they basically revile the film and attribute to it all of the things that David Ehrenstein claims it lacks, in his negative review in his Fablog.

Posted Dec 17, 2005:

Saw Brokeback Mountain. Pretty little gift-box of a movie, with very little passion.
Posted Dec 30, 2005:

Interesting post Phyl. I do have problems with the film, though not to the degree that David does. I don't think. I've been trying to articulate them, but I keep getting stuck.
-->Edit - Possible spoilers may follow:

I think in part because I can identify - I know small town western life; hell, for two hours after the movie I had Ennis's stupid accent back. But while I sypathize with Ennis, and Ledger's performance is strong, I don't understand him. These are not the choices I would make, despite our similar backgrounds. Mind you, Ennis is not as educated, nor as culturally advantaged as I was. But damn, man, get a clue!

Part of the problem may be the direction, or maybe it's Proulx's original story, but there are also serious problems with the way the romance and passion is presented. In the end, it's very hard, based on what we've been shown to figure out what exactly is between Ennis and Jack besides sexual attraction. And that, frankly, ain't enough for me.

To me, gay isn't about whom you sleep with, but rather whom you can fall in love with. Whom you can feel passion for. It's an attraction to mind, body, spirit. We're supposed to believe that passion, but we're only shown one aspect of it, and that (referring to the initial sex scene) is frankly ludicrous. The failure is I'm supposed to believe this deep abiding love, but the film only shows its physical manifestations and reactions to its loss - it doesn't do a good job of showing it develop. Without that, Jack's last speech doesn't carry as much weight as it should; Ennis forelorn conversations with shirts don't move the way they should. They got close, but didn't take you there the way they needed to.

I dunno. I'm just not there yet. There's something I'm trying to say, and that's still not entirely it.
Posted Jan 20, 2006:
I do not love Brokeback Mountain. I have Ennis's accent, at least when I'm tired (or, according to Boo, when "tired, walking, cranky, watching TV, or reading"), but I don't feel much else for him that I can connect to, despite a fine performance by Ledger.

The thing is, the bastard has a choice, and he makes the wrong one.This is not society's fault, it's his. He has a choice to live for love or to live for normal, and he chooses normal. Fuck him. That the film chooses him as the survivor at the end speaks the wrong mesage altogether about repression and how to respond to it. Jack is the more interesting character, though even he would have done well to avoid getting married.

Everyone seems to want to bring up the times. Tough decade and all that...Fuck the times. Get the hell out of Dodge, my friend. My great aunt left Iowa in 1927, and lived most of her life with a female companion in Los Angeles. Was she a lesbian? We'll never know for sure, perhaps, but the odds are very good. And good for her - love is worth it. Personally, I think her story would be more interesting.

To a degree, I think that's what David's on about, though aside from his initial blog entry, I have avoided other contentious discussions of it. It's not a landmark portrayal of being gay. It's a landmark portrayal of lassitude and indirection. What I find annoying about that aspect of it, is that it's pretty condescending to us small town boys. "Oh, dear, what options do they have?" Plenty, actually.

Add to that the press emphasis, which discounts some true landmark films, such as Longtime Companion, Prick Up Your Ears, Parting Glances - you want a breakthrough performance? See Steve Buscemi in that - and I get a bit irritated.

And, I get a bit annoyed by the gay press (both traditional and non) reaction to the flick as well - there's at least enough anticipatory panting over Ledger and Gyllenhaal's kissing and love scene (ludicrous love scene - absolutely ridiculous) to earn the "slash" description. Not entirely the film's fault to be sure, but it is somewhat marketed in the same way that Corbin Fisher and Straight College Men websites market porn - "see your almighty dollar convince (or coerce) two avowed heteros into making out on screen!"

However - aside from those quibbles, not bad.

Or...not. I mean, what do you really have to say about the film that hasn't been said elsewhere?

So, barring that, I should probably apologize to my few loyal readers for being so non-communicative. It's largely due to work. I'm doing a huge amount of curriculum development and writing courseware, and after spending all day writing, I just haven't had the urge to spend more time at home in front of the computer. Oh, playing The Sims 2, sure, but not actually typing sentences.

A cop out to be sure.

I'm toying with the idea of posting more frequently, but shorter. Of course, then I'd be so much like every other blog, and I like being different. Special. I wish I were special. You're so fucking special...I should play some Radiohead! Yeah! Or...

I could post about music...

I did get Hypnotize after all, part two of System of a Down's effort for 2005. And it rocketh mightily...I'm still surprised how much I like these guys. Granted I grew up with banger stuff (hell, we played the likes of Highway to Hell and Rock and Roll All Night at high school dances, along with the Alicia Bridges and Donna Summer...Jesus the 70's were fucking insane musically, no?), but it wasn't really in my collection, which largely consisted of disco, Simon & Garfunkel, and early New Wavers such as The Police, Devo, and The B52's, as well as some shit no one's heard of then or since (Slow Children, anyone? anyone?)

So, I don't know how I come to adore this group of grouchy Californian Armenians. Except that they get more musically interesting with every album. And ...and that when Serj screams "Blast OFF! Party Time! And Where the FUCK ARE YOU!" in B.Y.O.B., he manages to perfectly question and answer three lyrical themes at once. It's a clever trick. Clever is good.

Of course, thinking about music also makes me feel like shit that I missed the final Minneapolis performance of All The Pretty Horses. When it came down to it, Jen and Dave and I decided we'd rather go drink beer in nordeast than try to make the show. Which was so crowded we wouldn't have gotten in anyway. But, I feel like I should have made an effort. I did get to see Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle on cable, though, so the night wasn't a total waste. (Did you mean that as a pun? Because...weak, man.)

Should have fun at Flogging Molly in a couple weeks, though. Big fun. Can't wait.

Ooooh, and Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake!

And, of course, there's One Voice Mixed Chorus this weekend. It'll be nice to see one of their concerts again where I haven't already heard all the music. It's been years since that happened.

So, basically what you're saying is nothing's going on right now, except work, and that's both too much writing and not worth writing about. Why don't you try again next week after something happens? Yeah. Good idea. And stop talking to yourself.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Winter White

Driving in snow

I had M and J up for dinner on Friday – it was really nice to see them both. I mentioned them earlier in my post about the choral tour, and we don’t get to see each other as much as I might like, in part because of my decision not to own a car (I should post about that sometime...) Northfield is outside of MetroTransit’s range, and is served irregularly by Greyhound, so sometimes years go by between our visits.

I met J when I was in college, and she was attached to D who was working with Dave at Dino’s – Northfield’s long-gone and much lamented greasy-spoon diner. Dave and D hit it off, and for as long as Dave and I were together, we spent a few holidays, birthdays, and other events with J and D, and D’s large family. (D, a lesbian, had been married to B, a gay man, for several years and they had a flock of children – eight total, I think. As D said often, and with a half-smile, "it seemed like a good idea at the time.") To top things off, several of her children were old enough to have children of their own, so these events were frenetic, crowded, extremely noisy, and just a ball. We always felt like part of the family, and I was always thoroughly exhausted by the time we left.

When J decided to have a baby in 1984, J and D approached Dave and me about providing the necessary chromosomes. Which, after some discussion, we agreed to do. We were living just off campus at the corner of Division and Second, and Dave and D were working often until 3 am or so. I was a college junior, so most days I didn’t have class scheduled before 10 am.

We worked out a protocol for the exchange of body fluids that went something like this: They dropped off a sterilized jar with us (yes, it was a Mason fruit jar. Yes, we did make jokes.) Near the appointed time (usually between 10:30 pm and 4 am), we’d call and say "Uh, shortly…" and proceed to make a deposit in the jar, ideally by the time they arrived in the parking lot downstairs. We’d toss the jar in a lunch bag, run it down the back steps, pass it through the window, and receive a clean jar in a brown bag for the next night. To assure viability, this whole sequence needed to happen in 30 minutes or less. (There's a pizza delivery joke in there somewhere, but I think it would be labored). We lived in fear of being busted by the local police on a suspected drug transaction, only to have the cop open the bag and find not white powder but a far different white substance. Fortunately, this never happened. The first month was a bust, but after the following month, J’s periods ceased and she started into morning sickness. After a long and difficult pregnancy, M was born on February 14, 1985.

It has been a joy to watch M grow up; albeit from a distance (she’s clearly Dave’s offspring, in case you’re wondering). We saw a lot of her when she was a child, but once Dave and I broke up, the frequency dropped, and dropped further when J and D broke up when M was 10. The big family gatherings were a thing of the past, and get-togethers now often seemed fraught and awkward.

Nevertheless, M has really grown as a intelligent, well-adjusted young woman. She’s a wonderful girl, a talented artist, a gregarious and extroverted conversationalist. When they visited this time, she gave me one of her paintings that I had admired at her high school graduation a few years ago. It’s a large abstract work, acrylic on canvas, with three bold luminous whorls floating against an azure background. Silver tendrils lace between the whorls, connecting and unifying them. Two of the whorls are larger and the third floats connected to both. The painting’s symbolism, whether intentional or not, is both simple and beautiful, and I really love this painting.

Coincidentally, I’d been cleaning out a file drawer recently, and ran across some old college papers. Among them is an English paper I wrote in 1985, which is really largely a transcription of D telling a story, lightly edited for sequence and sentence structure. D is from the south, and like most southerners (Boo included) she can really tell a story. In fact, as I recall, the interview wasn’t so much a question-and-answer session as a turn-on-the-recorder-and-nod session. J did not have an easy pregnancy; toxemia set in around her fourth month requiring her to remain almost bedridden for the remainder of the term, and she and D wound up having to drive to Minneapolis every three days to have her condition monitored and see if she would require hospitalization.

As the original composition was printed on an old continuous-feed dot-matrix (I’d grudgingly started using computers only two years before), and was largely faded besides, I retyped it (I think the original file is on a 5 ¼ inch floppy somewhere, so it’s basically useless) and gave it to her. As she turns 21 next month, and the event in question happened 21 years ago this month, I thought she might enjoy a little of her history.

Here it is:

Concerning the Weather on 1-24-85

I hope it’s nice tomorrow night; I don’t want to drive to the Cities like it was Thursday night, ever again. The snow! I got lost, this is the God’s honest truth, I got lost in the Southtown parking lot. Really! You know where that Ward’s is and there’s kind of that “L” shape center and you got that strip that comes up this way and there’s the theater on the corner? We ended up, we were parked in that Old Town Mall, we were parked right in front of the doors that go into that part, and we ended up behind the theater! On the north side of the theater in a place that doesn’t have an exit out. And You Could Not See. There were people in that parking lot, they had cars with people walking along holding on to either side with one hand, and actually walking the cars down the driveway, because if you were behind the wheel, You Could Not See. It was just incredible. It took us 25 minutes to try and find our way out of that parking lot.

And I said "I can’t drive in this, this is awful, this is ridiculous, we’ll die" - so we went over to Target. Well, Target was having a lit-tle troub-le. The snow was coming in through their vent system and it was snowing all over the floor! They were shoveling snow in the bakery and in the customer service section. You’d look around and a little snow would go whee-oooo...flakes drifting by...they were a little distressed about that!

So, we sat there awhile, y’know, and it cleared up a bit? Well, then the newscasters nearly got us. We went out to the car, and J said "Well, okay, it’s cleared up, let’s try to go" and I kept saying "Don’t you think we should spend the night" and she kept saying "No, it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine." So we went out and we got in the car and turned the radio on. And the radio was saying that the storm had passed the Twin Cities and was moving to the northeast. Well, northeast, fine, terrific; Northfield is south right? No Problem. So we got it out on the road, and it really wasn’t too bad, until we got about eight miles from that Northfield exit, and then...well, it took me an hour and 40 minutes to get from Burnsville home. That’s normally, what? Maybe a 20, 25 minute drive, took us an hour and 40 minutes. I kept saying all along "We should just spend the night," but no, they kept saying "It’s moving," and the radio kept saying "It’s moving to the northeast, it’s moving to the northeast" and it was way "up around Hopkins" and you know that’s way out of this range. It was distressing.

Oh, it was awful. There were times when it was just like somebody’d drug a sheet across the windshield; you couldn’t see. You couldn’t tell where you were. You couldn’t tell if the car was drifting; there was nothing to mark with, y’know? So we was going from one side of the road to another. And we’d go off, and the car’d feel kind of funny, and J would look out her door, and say, “You’re off on the right hand side,” and I’d go further and try to correct, and then I’d go too far, ‘cause I had no idea, y’know? And then I’d go off on that side, and I’d look down and sure enough there was grass. We were creeping along with both doors open, so we could see the grass when we ran off the road? Ve-e-ry comforting to look down and see the grass. On my side, means you’re off the the road on the left hand side, right? So I’d go back the other way a while....

At one point we was sitting there, turned sort of sideways I guess, and J said "You’re off the shoulder on the right hand side" and I looked down and I saw grass, and I said "No, I must be off on the left hand side, there’s grass down here," and she said "No. You’re off on the right hand side." I said, "I can’t be, the shoulder is right here," and I said "There’s a big ditch over here, and there’s a car in it just ten feet from us." She said "Nope, you’re off on the right hand side." So, we commenced to have this conversation about "This is the right" and "This is the left" and "The ditch is here" and "I am on the left hand side". Then I had to try and turn and get the car straight, and it was just...ooohhhh. How awful.

And semi’s kept passing us! Now, I couldn’t see a thing, and you know there’s nothing wrong with my vision. I don’t even have to wear glasses or anything, right? And these semi’s were going zoom-zoom-zoom. I mean how could they see? Y’know I don’t see how they could see any better than I could, and they were going by so fast.

Maybe headlights – I only had one at that point, ‘cause one of them burnt out! Just past Buck Hill, I lost a headlight completely, and of course you know putting the brights on is worse, ‘cause then everything glares back at you, right? So there I was with one little dim headlight. And that created something of a problem too, ‘cause not knowing what side of the road I was on, y’know nobody else did either! I’d think I was in the right hand lane, and all of a sudden something’d pass me on the right hand side and I’d go "Aaaaaack!" Then I’d stop, and we’d scratch the ground a little bit and see what was down there.

I drove home every awful, horrible step. Some guy passed us in a pickup on 35, oh, maybe just half a mile from the Northfield exit. So, anyway, he asked us if we wanted a ride, cause we was creepin’ down the road, with both doors open looking for grass, and I said "NO, I don’t want a ride, I just want to get HOME!" So he went up and waited at the exit to mark the exit for us, and then we followed him up the exit and we followed him all the way up 19 home.

And he was stopping at all the abandoned cars, I know there must have been nine, ten times we stopped, ‘cause he was stopping at all the cars making sure that nobody was in them. One of them actually had been abandoned right on the road. I assume they thought they were not on the road, but they were - they were right in the left lane. So he and the other guy that were in the truck pushed the thing off the side, ‘cause it was just sitting there, y’know?

Just incredible! I told J that if she went into labor that night she’d just have to have that baby in Northfield, cause I was not driving back to the Cities, no way, no how. And she thought she’d try not to.

Randy Wylde
English 36
Assignment 6, February 1, 1985

Friday, January 06, 2006

Holy Shit! Boo Has A Blog!

Eh Oh! Boo's on to us!
The blogging bug claims another victim! Boo succumbs to blog fever! Further details to be found at latelateantiquity.blogspot.com.

My long overdue post - today (maybe), tomorrow fershure.