Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spoiler Warning

Today is Wednesday. For those of you who aren't comic book geeks (which may be everyone who reads this blog), Wednesday is new comics day, the day a new shipment arrives at comic book shops everywhere. Today a comic is coming out that is supposed to be relatively important as far as stories in a shared fictional universe go. I'll be heading to Comics Dungeon this afternoon to pick it up. This morning I took a look at my preferred comics news site, as I do several times a day, and saw a story referring to an article in today's New York Daily News that apparently gives away the last-page reveal of this important comic that's coming out today. I resisted the urge to click on the link.

This goes against my nature, and it's hurting.

I knew about the twist at the end of The Sixth Sense two years before I saw it. I enjoyed watching the movie knowing what was coming, catching all the little clues that most people probably didn't notice until the second time they watched it.

I knew about the death at the end of Harry Potter Book 6 before I ever picked up Book 1. Again, it was kind of cool to read the story knowing what was coming. But I resisted seeing any major spoilers about Book 7 before reading it, so I was totally shocked when Harry died at the end. (Just kidding, Cricket. That was for you.)

I must admit, it's not uncommon for me to look at my wishlist before my birthday or Christmas to see what people have bought for me. I wouldn't want them to tell me what they got--part of the fun of ruining the surprise is finding out for myself.

My justification is that I don't actually ruin the surprise; I just experience it earlier. I wonder, though, if by removing the surprise experience from the reading experience or viewing experience or gift-opening experience, I'm missing out on something. This is why, if I can, I'm going to avoid reading that New York Daily News article until after I read my new comics this afternoon. I'll report back on whether saving the surprise makes my comics reading that much more transcendental.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


After eight months of unemployment, I will have a job again in mid-May. This afternoon I interviewed for and was offered a job with a company evaluating web searches. Not only is this something that fits in with my career interests, but it also pays well, is part-time, and is done entirely from home. This means that I have a well-paying job that will cover the gap this summer between the end of my stipend and the beginning of FoxyJ's in the fall, that I will be able to keep said job over the transition from Seattle to Davis (and over the stay in Utah that will hopefully come in between the two), and that next year while Foxy is in school I will be able to be a stay-at-home dad and still contribute to my family's economic survival. Really, this is about as ideal as it gets. (Well, no, as ideal as it gets is Foxy winning millions on Jeopardy! while I sign a five-book contract with some big publisher.)

There have been several points in my life when I didn't know how I or my family was going to pay the rent or buy food in the not-too-distant future, and I've never worried about it because it always just works out. If there is a theme to my life, it is that things always work out, usually much better than could possibly be expected. It's tempting to attribute this good fortune to an omnipotent being who is watching out for me (and probably a more convincing argument could be made for an omnipotent being watching out for FoxyJ and her husband just happens to be in the blessed safety zone), but that raises the question of why said being doesn't provide other equally or more deserving people with the same good fortune.

At any rate, whether it's God or the Universe or simply the people around me who make good things happen, I do notice and I do appreciate it. I'll return the favor if the opportunity arises.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Miseducation of Estelle?

My musical exploration is generally guided by one principle: the quest to find another Lauryn Hill. Except one who still makes music and isn't, you know, crazy. Apparently, I'm not the only one looking for a new Lauryn.

I came across Estelle a few months ago in my Google News update that sends me news articles that include the words lauryn hill. It's not uncommon for female singers or rappers to be compared to Ms. Hill, as the comparison has become just another way of saying "She's good." What caught my attention in this case was that the person making the connection was Ms. Hill's fellow former Fugee, Wyclef Jean. "I have never worked with a young artist that reminded me so much of Lauryn Hill," he said. And there's good reason for the comparison--the relatively new British artist sings and raps over old school hip-hop, jazz, reggae, and r&b beats similar to the ones that made The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill one of the most commercially and critically successful albums ever.

On Estelle's new album, Shine, technically released tomorrow but available as of about 7:30 PDT tonight on iTunes, Wyclef has produced two tracks. On one of them, "So Much Out the Way," the music varies between a doo-wop beat that easily could have been on Miseducation and a riff of a Bob Marley song that Ms. Hill covered on her MTV Unplugged album, while Estelle smoothly transitions between singing, rapping, and chanting reggae-style. Wyclef seems to be beating us over the head with the comparison, as if to say, "Hey! Look! She can do everything Lauryn can do!"

Does it work? I don't know. It's been rumored that Wyclef is trying to put together a new Fugees-like group with Estelle and singer/rapper Akon, and I have to say that if he did, I'd buy the album, and maybe I'd enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying Shine right now. It wouldn't be the Fugees and Estelle is not Lauryn, but I guess there's room in the world for good musicians who aren't.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Heartwarming Teaching Moments with Mr. Fob

The scene: Dinner at the Fobcave.

S-Boogie: Rolls are rolls.

Mr. Fob: Really?

S-Boogie: Yeah. Everything is everything.

Mr. Fob: That's what Lauryn Hill says.

S-Boogie: Who's Lauryn Hill?

Mr. Fob puts The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in the CD player and plays "Everything is Everything," then shows S-Boogie the pictures of Ms. Hill on the CD cover. They share A Moment.

Excuse me while I wipe a tear from my eye.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hurray for Impulse Buying!

I just spent $100 on an impulse buy. You would have too, if you were me and you found out that Erykah Badu and the Roots will be performing in Redmond on June 5th and you had the excuse of a pending graduation to buy yourself a present for and you had a wife who enables you in your impulsiveness. I'm excited--this is only my second concert, as far as I can recall. I think this time we'll get a babysitter.


In my volunteer cataloging job I am working on a donation collection of 8000 videos given to the library by some guy who is seriously into all kinds of film. Classics, Westerns, thrillers, romantic comedies, foreign films, old TV shows, erotica--you name it, he had it, and now we do. Among the things I do when cataloging a video is assign a genre heading from a list controlled by the Library of Congress. Every time I browse that list looking for the right heading, I pass by "Blaxploitation films" and look forward to the day when I can use it.

That day has come. The collection is organized alphabetically by title and I'm in the midst of the B's, which brings me to such great films as:

Black Caesar
Black Heat
Black Voodoo

The titles are subtle, I know, but using my amazing librarian skills I figured out that they are all examples of the Blaxploitation genre. The seventies must have been a crazy time to live.

Don't you wish you had my job? (Except, you know, for the fact that I don't get paid for it.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Velvet Rage

When I came across The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Alan Downs, my first thought was that I didn't fit the bill. What right do I have to claim the rage or pain of being a gay man in a straight man's world, when I live in the social comfort of a heterosexual marriage? I'm not really gay. But then I got over myself and admitted that yes, regardless of where I am now, my experience growing up was likely very similar to that of many gay men.

As I read Downs's description of the three stages of a gay man's* development--the shame of realizing you have a horrible secret that you can never reveal to anyone, the extravagance of compensating for that shame upon coming out, and the authenticity that comes upon leaving the shame behind--I did see myself in a lot of it. Particularly the first stage fits my adolescent self to a tee, the closeted gay boy who believes there is something fundamentally wrong with himself and seeks validation by becoming whatever people want him to be. I find myself still trapped in that mindset sometimes, skillfully covering up the parts of myself I don't want people to see, believing they wouldn't like the true me if they saw it.

The second stage best describes where I'm at now. I am for the most part out and no longer view my sexual orientation as flawed or broken. Like most gay men in this stage, though, I haven't managed to really get past that belief that something is wrong with me, and I try to compensate for that shame by being fabulous at everything I do--whether it's being the best student in a class, being the most efficient employee at work, or being the most thoughtful and articulate writer around, I thrive on excellence and above all the praise that comes with it. Incapable of finding validation in myself, I seek it from external sources. This feels nice when it works but leaves me feeling miserable when the external validation doesn't come pouring in.

I have moments when I feel like I'm approaching the third stage but I'm afraid I'm not there yet. The gay man in Stage Three no longer feels shame because he's learned to confront his weaknesses head-on and realized they really weren't as bad as he thought. This is the man who no longer needs to have the perfect body or the perfect boyfriend, who finds happiness in who he is and what he has. Granted, I've never sought happiness by having sex with lots of beautiful men, but heaven knows I've believed that's where happiness lay--and still do, sometimes.

There are certainly points where my life diverges from that of the average gay man. Unlike most men who Downs would place in Stage Two, I'm not living from boyfriend to boyfriend--I've never even been with a man. But I like to think I also differ from the average Stage One closeted man hiding from his homosexuality in a straight marriage; I'm not hiding. Despite these differences, I think what this book provided for me is a sense that I am on a journey that a lot of gay men have been on and are on now. As Downs points out in the book, the nature of our society keeps men in the three stages from really being aware of each other: men in Stage One are hiding in the closet; those in Stage Two are living the high-flying gay life of nightclubs and bars and gyms; and those in Stage Three have retired from this scene to a quieter life. The most visible are those in Stage Two, and that sends a false message, that that's all there is to being gay. This lack of a cohesive community across the stages creates a lack of role models and road maps, a gap Alan Downs fills with this book. I recommend it to gay men in any stage of life.

*Downs clarifies that while much of what he says may also apply to lesbians and straight men and women, he focuses on gay men so as not to do injustice to the unique nature of each group's experiences with these stages.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Why I (heart) Mr. Bennett

No, not Lizzie and Jane's father, though he is a likable character.

Noah Bennett, from the series that if you haven't already seen you should run immediately to your local library (or Netflix) and put the first season on hold. When I started watching Season One this past Sunday, I found Mr. Bennett attractive, in a well-dressed-and-mysterious-secret- agent-man kind of way, even though he was apparently a bad guy. But then halfway through the season (about Tuesday afternoon my time) he became a good guy and the mild attraction turned into a full-fledged fictional character crush. It helps that I can identify with his motivations. Because believe me, I would totally lie, murder, and brainwash innocent people to protect my daughter.

(Consider that a warning.)

And he was totally crushing on me too. I saw the way he looked at me.

But alas, our short-lived romance ended Wednesday night when FoxyJ and I finished Season One (yes, I bring my wife along when I have clandestine meetings with TV lovers; there's enough of Mr. Bennett--or Noah, as he likes me to call him--to go around). Here's looking forward to Heroes Season Two on DVD.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Yesterday we drove over Deception Pass, a strait that separates Whidbey Island from the rest of Washington. With an ominous name like Deception Pass, we imagined a treacherous story of hundreds of men falling to their deaths or being swindled out of a fortune or forced to eat each other to survive. As it turns out, it's called Deception Pass because it appeared to early explorers to be a narrow bay, which would have made Whidbey Island Whidbey Peninsula, when in fact it was a strait and therefore an island. I'd say the most deceptive thing about the pass is its name.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't Whiz on the Electric Fence

Okay, there was no whizzing involved, but it's such a great title (and board game).

As Little Dude approached the barbed wire separating the cows from us outside the petting farm, I told him not to touch it. Ever since burning his hand on the curling iron a couple weeks ago, he's come to associate the concept dangerous with the word "hot" (and its accompanying sign), so I told him the wire was hot. I didn't realize how accurate this was until he grabbed the wire and I simultaneously grabbed him to pull him away, and a shock jolted through my arm and down my leg. We later found a sign that had fallen into the grass, warning us that the wire fence was electric.

I don't remember enough from my high school physics class of how electricity works; is it because I grabbed Little Dude that he didn't seem to be bothered by the shock? Because the current only had to travel through his short arm and then through my body instead of all the way through his? He did say "Mooooo" very sadly as I carried him away from the electric fence, but I think that was regret that he couldn't get closer to the cows, not physical pain. Or, you know, maybe he did feel the shock but just didn't care. He's macho like that.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Everyone's a Little Bit Racist Sometimes

There's an interesting article in the Seattle Times this morning about how despite the fact that today's generation likes to think we're colorblind, race is still an issue in America.

Since moving to Seattle a year and a half ago, I've noticed a very strong vibe that goes something like "Racism? What's racism? We love diversity. Woo hoo! Go diversity!" In theory I like this, because I don't like racism and I do like diversity, but I think there's a point where both race and diversity can become fetishized.

When I was interviewing for a job during my first months in the area, I was asked about experiences I'd had working with people who were different from me. I told them a story about working with a girl whose personality was very different from mine, and how I learned to work with her despite that difference. "That's nice," they said, "but we meant something more along the lines of racial or cultural diversity."

"Oh," I said. "Well, the truth is I've been living and working in Utah for the past six years, and there isn't a whole lot of diversity in Utah."

"Perhaps age diversity?" they suggested hopefully.

So I told them about working with people who were old enough to be my parents, and how we overcame the generational divide, or some such nonsense.

And then I got home and remembered that in my then-current job I had a black coworker, two of Asian descent, and two gay guys (counting myself)--and that out of a total of maybe half a dozen employees. The thing is, it's not like the diversity among us produced any problems we needed to overcome, or for that matter that it made our work environment particularly rich and textured beyond the extent to which our differing personalities and idiosyncrasies did.

I didn't get the job.

I don't claim to be colorblind and I'm not sure that's really the goal, but I do try not to keep a mental scorecard of how many black friends I have, or how many lesbians. Because that would make them not my friends but my black friends or my lesbian friends. And that's dumb.

So I understand that it's important to recognize racism where it exists, and to address it frankly as such. Problems don't go away by pretending they're not there. But on the other hand, I understand why some people are kind of sick of all the emphasis placed on race and diversity and would rather just talk about people. If we'd start focusing on individuals rather than on groups, we'd have fewer instances like one referred to in the article above, where a man assumed his coworker had grown up in some gang-infested project simply because she was black.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Book Tag

Now that both Th. and Cricket have tagged me in a roundabout and sneaky way, I feel obligated to do this.


1. Pick up the nearest book (at least 123 pages).
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Find the 5th sentence
4. Post the 5th sentence on your blog.
5. Tag 5 people.

"The man needing cables accused the black man of being an Uncle Tom, protecting a white woman from a black man."

From Navigating Differences: Friendships Between Gay Men and Straight Men by Jammie Price.

I will now tag five completely random people who are not I repeat NOT necessarily my five favorite people in the world (sorry to the rest of you; rest assured that you're number six):
  1. FoxyJ,
  2. Scot,
  3. Mama[Mormon],
  4. Craig, and
  5. editorgirl.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I just got home from the grocery store. In my bag: a frozen pizza, tortilla chips, chocolate chips, a loaf of white bread, and a 32-ounce container of Yami strawberry yogurt. Do you think I'm sufficiently prepared for my five days of bachelorhood while Foxy and the kids are in Vegas with her parents?