September 29, 2009

When Puppy Pukes

Yesterday morning Alfie's morning routine had an extra step. Or two.

The usual - wake up, scoot downstairs, go outside for morning potty break, have breakfast, interfere with dad getting ready for work.

Yesterday - wake up, scoot downstairs, go outside for morning potty break, have breakfast, go sit on landing on stairs, puke, wait for dad to clean it up, watch dad clean it up, saunter back down to kitchen, puke again, wait for dad to clean it up.

Sure, puppies puke. Let's face it, they are basically walking garburators, eating anything and everything that crosses their path as they explore the world. And they can't exactly clean up after themselves.

My favourite part was when Alfie puked then calmly and sweetly looked up at me, as though saying"Okay, Dad, what are you going to do about this?". He is not going to clean it up, he is not going to eat it like a certain beagle would, so there I go, doing what needs to be done. And then following behind and cleaning up vomit number two...

At least one of us is well trained!

Red Yellow Green

Like many people in my generation I tend to time things in song length. Growing up with a Walkman, and now having and loving an ipod, that is how time passes for me. Especially when running.

Which leads to my current frustration...
So why exactly does the programming for traffic lights in Edmonton? And what exactly are they smoking when they do this?

Yesterday I went for a run on a beautiful sunny Sunday autumn afternoon. Shortly outside my house I am crossing a major intersection on Jasper Ave. Yes I am crossing a busy route, but it is Sunday afternoon, there is not much traffic, and there were people already waiting. Time passed. Waves of cars in all directions. People waited on all sides. Another song ended. Some guy furtively hurried across the street against traffic signals. The red light continued. It was four minutes and felt like forty. No traffic, people waiting. More time passes. No cars, people waiting. Time passing. Another person runs across. Finally the light changes, I run across, hurrying although there are no cars anywhere.

So at 2.00 on a Sunday afternoon, there are people waiting on all sides of a road, there are no cars, human nature and efficiency means people will run across the road against the lights --- so shouldn't the city traffic light gurus plan for this? Aaaargh...

September 27, 2009

Going ape for Jane Goodall

Okay I concede -- really bad pun on the headline here -- laziness I guess, as Jane Goodall actually studies chimpanzees, not apes, so should I have called this Going Chimp for Jane Goodall?

Tonight K and I are going to see Jane Goodall speak at the Jubilee. This is an impressive lady - she is a UN Messenger of Peace, primatologist, ethologist, and anthropologist. She is well-known for her 45-year study of chimpanzee social and family interactions and for founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

Goodall has been instrumental in studying the social learning, thinking, and society of chimps. She devotes virtually all of her time to advocacy on behalf of chimpanzees and the environment.

I am really looking forward to her presentation - I'm sure she has amazing entertaining stories to tell, and also feels like one of those educational things we all should do. I know I should do more things like this, expanding my horizons, as the expression goes. What was that old cereal commercial --- "it not only tastes good, it's also good for you?"

September 26, 2009

No little dancer for Elton John

Elton John and his partner David Furnish (pictured) have been denied permission to adopt a 14-month old HIV-positive boy from a Ukrainian orphanage.

The Ukrainian government says it because Elton John at 62 is too old to adopt (Furnish is in his 40s). Really? Not because he is too gay?

The Ukraine also forbids gay adoptions, by the way. They do not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions; John and Furnish tied the knot in 2005, one of Britain's first gay civil unions.
And a spokesman for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church called Elton John a sinner and said "thank God it's impossible under Ukrainian law for (him) to adopt a child."

Angelina Jolie, Madonna, and countless private citizens have successfully adopted children from many countries, giving them apparently loving homes and life chances they would never otherwise have.

I think a family is who you choose as your family. Others have very different ideas. There are lots of great parents out there. And lots of lousy ones. I don't think gay or straight factors in. The American Psychological Association and lots of other organizations believe that having homosexual parents does not negatively affect children.

So the bottom line is because this celebrated couple is gay, even though they seem to have a loving and wonderful relationship, and do loads of humanitarian work -- because they are gay, they cannot adopt.

So the Ukraine believes leaving this child in an orphanage is a better upbringing. Maybe he will beat the odds... live long enough to go through the foster care system. Avoid poverty, drugs, alcoholism. Maybe get an education... Maybe. Better off? Really?

September 20, 2009

Hour 367 of the Emmy awards...

I love TV. And not just the artsy brainy stuff we all say we watch. Yes I watch the news, and CBC (sorta kinda sometimes). And I do love Amazing Race. And Desperate Housewives. And I watch 30 Rock. And Brothers and Sisters. And Big Bang Theory. And Jon Stewart. And occasionally Two and a Half Men. And Greys Anatomy before it jumped the shark.

I like award shows. The Oscars are a ritual (yes, very gay). The Tonys are fun. Plus Neil Patrick Harris is a fantastic entertainer and terrific choice as host.

So why are the Emmy's so darn boring? I am writing this less than 90 minutes into a three or four hour show, a bunch of awards are being given out, the opening number was fine, Tina Fey was dependably funny, the intro of each presenter is clever by naming their most obscure role ever, and then... the presenters do their usual bad chit chat, the speeches go on too long, the clips feature a bunch of TV movies I have never heard of, commercials seem endless, awards go to people I have never heard of, the voice-over talks awkwardly about where these people I have never heard of grew up. And did I mention I watch a lot of TV?

New idea folks -- make this show for the TV audience. Make it entertaining.

Or think back an hour and a half to your opening number, where you chided the audience to "not put down that remote". Because I am looking for mine now.

Oh wait -- there's Dr Horrible -- gotta watch!

Thought of the day...

No government has the right to tell its citizens whom to love. The only queer people are those who don't love anybody.

— Rita Mae Brown

September 17, 2009

The Newlywed Game gets even gayer!

Great news people - we have another benchmark in the advance of equal marriage rights! "The Newlywed Game", which is now on the GSN cable network, said Wednesday it will soon feature its first gay couple on a celebrity edition. George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on "Star Trek," will appear with his partner, Brad Altman.

Is this political? Takei and his partner married in California before Proposition 8 shut down same-sex marriage in the state. Show host Carnie Wilson (yes that Carnie Wilson from 80s pop group Wilson Phillips) insists that this is not political, some conservative pundits disagree. My very gay non-objective opinion? The personal and political often overlap, and this is both. And it is a very good thing.

So does this seem kind of superficial and silly? Sure it does. And not only do I enjoy superficial and silly, I also think this is a small step of some significance. Game shows are part of people's everyday lives, not their political posturing, and having a gay married couple step into the game show world is like having a gay couple step into their living rooms, like Ellen does when she talks about her life. It is true personal stories, which help weave awareness of and comfort with gay couples into the tapestry of people's lives. And it matters.

I have seen George Takei on talk shows and he is charming and sarcastic, so I think they will be funny as hell. More importantly, I sure hope to god they are well dressed - my people have a reputation to live up to!

September 16, 2009

The Keystone Cops do the Calgary Airport

Taking a trip, whether a quick getaway out of town or exotic journey across the world, can be fun, educational, exciting, and relaxing. It can also be expensive, and a great source of profit for the various companies involved. So as part of their business model, why don't airports make the experience smoother and more organized?

Yesterday K and I were coming home from an extended weekend away in Portland, with a stopover in Calgary. This is a 90-minute flight and a 30-minute flight, so not a huge strenuous trip. And then the domino-effect silliness in Calgary began. Overall it added 45 minutes and a whole bunch of frustration to our journey. It's a tough economy out there, why isn't everyone getting smarter? And do airports function along any kind of business model?

Hurry up and wait... rush to get in line at customs and then wait. And wait. See a disorganized mess, with the customs room overflowing with travellers and the agent booths understaffed. What is supposed to be a system clearly isn't, as rather than one line to slowly crawl through the small number of agents, people haphazardly get in lines which move at different speeds. Eager to speed through and make the connection, and with K already zoomed thru the priority line with his super duper NEXUS pass -- gotta get me one of those -- I choose what I think is the shortest line. Five minutes, ten, twenty. It takes 35 minutes, and every one of my peers from the flight has passed me, some assisted by a second officer coming on to service their lines, some simply by having chosen a better (faster) agent. Aaargh!

After customs, we still have to pick up our bags, go drop off our bags, go thru security yet again (who designed this place? why did I have to exit security area?), and find our new departure gate.

Hurry up and rush... we get to gate, which they have just changed to one that would have been closer, so pull a quick u-turn and head back.

So we scurry to new gate, see three agents checking in people for other flights not us, ask at the desk about where we go as they repeat the final boarding announcement for our flight, and are told to ignore the signs, all these agents are taking people for our flight (system, what system?). We are then waiting to board our plane, which is now delayed due to a tire change, and by the time the tire is changed, the ground crew has been re-assigned, and before a new crew can be found the fuel drops below minimum requirement. So new tire, new crew, and refuel. And then load passengers.

System, what system? Aaaargh! C'mon people, stop moaning about how the economy is killing your business, and do something to fix your business!

This made me chuckle, and think.

September 11, 2009

Online dating for straight chicks

There are things in life that just aren't supposed to be understood... How off-shore tax havens work. Why "Transformers" is the biggest movie of the year. Why we care about those "Jon and Kate plus Eight" people. And straight guys.

Now granted as a gay man I am not the target audience for the charm of straight guys. They befuddle me. Last weekend my friend G was in town visiting - smart, cute, successful, good figure, funny, the whole package. Wants to be in a relationship. And still single. So why is she not hooked up with a great guy?

After lots of prompting she is dating online. And her profile is fabulous (I wrote it). And the pic is great (even though I was cut out of it). Still hasn't met someone. Or at least someone who is a keeper. She chats with and meets lots of guys. And most really aren't worth her time. When I was single, the gay dating world often seemed superficial, judgemental and all about the game playing. Isn't the straight world supposed to be more, uh, straightforward?

I know lots of fantastic single straight women. They get fixed up, they go online, they network. And still single. What are straight guys looking for? Brains, trust and charm? Or boobs, hookers and blow? I know there is no one answer here, yet it makes me wonder. I guess perseverance is the key - just keep meeting guys, playing the numbers, and eventually it will happen.

So keep at it. Stay optimistic. Keep an open mind and heart. And look for a tan line on the wedding ring finger...

September 9, 2009

Come Sail Away

I love love love music, pretty much all types, and am playing music all the time - in the house, running, in the car, at work. Lots of new stuff is great, but none of it hits me like the stuff from when I was a teenager. What is it with about the music we grew up with? It has such resonance. And sometimes it just rocks.

The first album I ever bought myself was Billy Joel's 52nd Street. The soundtrack of my early teens was Supertramp, ELO, Fleetwood Mac, Styx, and Elton John. And that stuff is still the best road trip music of all.

In June I saw the amazing Fleetwood Mac "Unleashed" tour. And tonight K and I saw Styx. I was incredibly excited about the show, he came along out of curiosity and because he loves me. And enjoyed the show more then he expected to.

The show was terrific. The band focused on their progressive rock from the 70s (Renegade, The Grand Illusion, Suite Madame Blue) and pretty much skipped their more pop-oriented 80s hits (Babe, Mr Roboto, The Best of Times). OK with me, as I love their whole catalogue, and knew every song, singing along with the crowd at the concert, jumping up and down, knowing all the lyrics.

Styx is five guys including three guitarists, a drummer and a keyboards guy, with several sharing vocals. And and about halfway thru they were joined by group founder Chuch Panozzo, another guitarist. The crowd was on their feet for most of the evening, loving it, feeding off the pounding pulse, bringing the music to life. Everyone totally got into it, especially that scruffy guy with the very unfortunate mullet who is clearly still in 1978 regardless of the show.

Was the magic the music? The shared experience? Or just our collective nostalgia? Probably all of the above. Did I feel like a teenager again? Maybe a little, not sure if that is a good thing. More likely was the comfort of music I know and love, combined with a fresh live exciting show. And damn fine musicians working hard and loving it. Rock on, Blue Collar Man.

September 3, 2009

Ben & Jerry, Hubby & Hubby

I am a big fan of gay marriage, and here are three reasons why:

1) Simply put, equal access to marriage is the right thing to do in terms of all people being equal.

2) Same-sex marriage has been legal in most of Canada since 2003 and nationally since 2005 and hey, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the world has not spun off its axis and burst into flames, look at that!

3) And oh yeah I'm gay and may want to get married some day (say "Tiffany rings...").

And yes I am still shocked that California of all places has repealed marriage equality with proposition 8 (aka proposition hate).

But while California takes a step back in time away from civil liberties, Vermont is stepping forward and legalizing gay marriage, the fourth state to do so after Iowa, Massachusetts, and Connecticut (New Hampshire takes effect January 1st). This is definitely cause for celebration. And why celebrate with a parade when you can celebrate with ice cream, fudge and peanut butter?

Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, known for its support of liberal causes, has created a temporary version of its Chubby Hubby ice cream, renamed “Hubby Hubby,” to celebrate Vermont’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

The down side? We can't buy it here. Hubby Hubby will be available for thirty days and only in Vermont, where Ben & Jerry’s is based. If you live in Vermont, or visit, you’re invited to celebrate the pride-filled occasion with a fabulous union of Peanut Butter Cookie Dough ice cream, fudge and pretzels

Good politics and good ice cream... mmm....

See Kanye write

I am a huge fan of books, always have been. Fiction, non-fiction, history, business, all of it. Love love love art books. Even love cook books, and trust me there is a healthy dose of irony there. So what to make of this news? Rap star Kanye West is publishing his first book. I like West’s style and his outspoken politics. And I think Heartless is a stunningly beautiful song. Yet his book, called “Thank You and You’re Welcome”, is annoying me.

So why does this bug me? West describes himself as "a proud non-reader of books". His book is 52 pages, some blank, some with a few words, of as he describes on his website, "an entertaining volume of "Kanye-isms... the creative, humorous and insightful philosophies and anecdotes used in creating my path to success." Ok so humility is not in play here.  Is this really a good thing? A book written by someone who doesn’t like books? Couldn’t people read something else? Maybe with words and sentences and chapters?

The upside? Maybe this will have the Oprah effect, and drive non-reading Kanye fans into a bookstore where while searching for Kanye’s epic tome, they will trip over another book and buy that one also. Or not...

September 2, 2009

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm ... As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
- Audrey Hepburn

September 1, 2009