Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paper Roses and Banana Cream Pie

Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to KGIL, LA's self-proclaimed, retro AM radio station. You know, Harry Belafonte, Herb Alpert, Lena Horne. And to announce an upcoming song, the DJ said, "Sit back and enjoy Paper Roses by Anita Baker." What? Soulful, smooth-as-smokey-scotch Anita Baker did a cover of the country tearjerker, Paper Roses? Was this before or after Marie Osmond sang it into the top five with her "I'm a little bit country" vibe? As the music was swelling, even before I heard the vocalist, I knew the DJ had misspoken. And I involuntarily winced.

We all have that place in the back of our brains that stores all sorts of ridiculous trivia. Some of which are at the ready for witty repartee, but the more arcane facts are buried deep behind layers of rat turds and cobwebs. And when those buried facts are dusted off and brought to the surface, I am amazed at the mound of crap I know.

It seems at some point in my life I must have slipped my knowledge of Paper Roses away, like a phone number into a brassiere, possibly never to be seen again. Because I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Anita Baker was not about to wow me with her chops. Instead, I was going to be met with the dramatic stylings of Miss America second runner up, orange juice hawker and homophobe, Anita Bryant.

And rightly or wrongly, Anita Bryant always makes me think of the following...



It's odd... I haven't put myself in many positions where I felt like a second class citizen for being homosexual. When Michael and I adopted, I imagined a whiff of discomfort from the social workers or other prospective adoptive parents, but there was none. Both times Michael and I got married (the big church wedding in 2001, and then the legal wedding last year) I wondered if angry evangelicals would show up brandishing protest signs and pitchforks, but no, only loved ones with flowers and confetti. So, personally, I've moved forward, marrying, having kids, taking them to school, gymnastics, speech therapy, what have you, and remarkably I haven't felt the hate. Granted, I've lived in San Francisco, New York and now Los Angeles, but still, that's an amazing admission.

Watching Anita Bryant pray for the men who pied her, hoping to deliver them from their deviant lifestyle really kicks me in the navel oranges each time I watch this video. Her misuse of the Bible is both breathtaking and dangerous. In her hay day, Bryant certainly lit fires with her rhetoric, "If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes, and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters."

Don't sell this beauty contestant short. Her mark was significant. In 1977, she helped the state of Florida to prohibit gay adoption. Sadly, this law was only overturned last year. Then, she successfully campaigned to repeal an ordinance in Dade County which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1998, twenty years later, Dade County repudiated Bryant's campaign, and the anti-discrimination ordinance was once again in place. And even though it seems a no brainer that any type of discrimination should be illegal, in 2002 there was a ballot initiative to repeal the 1998 law! Thankfully, that was voted down.

I spelled out that last bit of Florida history because it shows how tenuous laws can be, voted in one year, repealed four years later. Just look at the mess California has made about gay marriage. There are eighteen thousand legally married gay and lesbian couples in the state, and yet at present it's illegal for homosexuals to marry. HUH? (And peculiarly, we have our own little beauty queen at the center of our controversy.) I understand each state has the right to have a certain amount of autonomy, however when it comes to human rights, we should be united in our thinking.

President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law this week. I may not have experienced any profound homophobia in my lifetime, but I doubt if Michael and I started our family in a different state, one with a decidedly red hue, we would have had the same experiences. There are certain places in this country where we wouldn't even think of holding hands for fear of what might happen. So, yes, this protection is necessary. Our whole country has to move collectively into this millennium even if it's kicking and screaming.

To boldly shift to one of my random thoughts... I wonder if Obama signed this into law before Halloween because he knew the haters cannot abide queens having fun. And when you think about it, what makes a queen more happy then a day that celebrates sparkly costumes and a bit of mascara?

For the record, I didn't change the radio station. I listened to the whole of Paper Roses, and Anita Bryant not Baker really has a beautiful voice. (Definitely not as reedy as Mormon Marie's.) It's too bad though, in the future when I recall Anita Bryant, I will not first think of her singing or her orange juice commercials, but that she spent a great deal of her life trying to do away with the homosexuals and the banana cream pie oozing down her face.

I thought that you would be a perfect lover
You seemed so full of sweetness at the start
But like a big red rose that's made of paper
There isn't any sweetness in your heart.

Shall we pray?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NRA = No Real Answer



The NRA's been calling me. I'm not sure how I got on their list. Aside from squirt, I've never owned a gun, and for the most part am vehemently against gun ownership. Mostly because hot headed gun enthusiasts scare the crap out of me. And if I have to hear one more politician pander to the NRA saying how much they enjoy the wholesome, all-American sport of helicopter wolf sniping, I'm going to puke.

But I digress.

I've turned into one of those people who almost always uses his cell phone. My home phone is becoming a dinosaur. (I'll probably be dropping it off at the Tar Pits by the end of the year.) We'll receive no calls on our home phone all day and then dinner time rolls around and ring! One glance at the caller ID showing me an 800 or 866 number confirms my suspicion: people selling shit. I become smug as I spoon mac and cheese onto plastic plates, letting the call go to voice mail, where a message will never be left. I'm not going to be your survey bitch today, asshole!

When I first saw the letters NRA on my caller ID screen, I thought, "Nah, couldn't be them. Perhaps it's some other organization with the same initials; Niagara Rafting Adventure for instance. Or Northern Rodeo Association. Or Nascar Radio Affiliates." After ignoring NRA's ring for three nights, my curiosity got the better of me and I answered the home phone. A woman with a faux chipper voice, ironically named Harmony, informed me she was indeed calling from the National Rifle Association, and not Nascar. I stood shell shocked as I do when witnessing a gruesome traffic accident or botox gone bad.

Harmony asked if I would listen to a prerecorded message from Wayne LaPierre, one of NRAs muckety mucks, and then wait on the line to answer one survey question. I numbly mumbled uh huh thinking I was a phony for agreeing to this. I hung up on the Policeman's Fund but I stayed on the line for the NRA. I felt dirty.

In his message, Wayne equated guns with freedom. He then pulled out every tactic to inform me that our freedom was about to be taken away because leaders in Washington want to illiminate all handguns entirely.

This isn't my understanding of what the Supreme Court Justices are evaluating, but Wayne was testifyin'. Now it's my turn...

According to you, Wayne, it's my God given right to own a gun, no matter how negligent a gun owner I may be. And my freedom will be stripped if my unconcealed 38 Special is made illegal. Well, Wayne, here's my personal take... I believe my freedom is imperilled as long as psychologically disturbed youth are able to waltz into neighborhood Super Ks and purchase semi automatic guns without too much of a background check. My children's freedoms are compromised when they enter their schools through metal detectors. My husband's freedom is impaired as long as hate crimes are not fully prosecuted. And what about the friends and families of the thousands slain each year by gun fire in this country... Certainly their freedoms were not taken into consideration. But the biggest injustice must belong to the innocent person caught in the crossfire and shot dead. Freedom has been revoked for him indefinitely.

After Wayne finished his fear laden argument, a gentleman with an Andy Griffith accent got on the phone. I thought he was going to ask should we get rid of all handguns in the US of A? And to make sure my voice was heard by the NRA, I was ready to loudly and proudly to give a definitive yes. Instead, this Byzantine question was asked, "Do you think leaders of third world countries and Hillary Clinton should have control of whether our handguns are banned?"

This reminded me when I was a whipper snapper, and some smart ass kid with a shit eating grin came up to me and said, "You have to answer the following with a yes or a no. Do you like being an douche bag?"

Answering with a definitive yes was out of the question. Of course, I don't want third world leaders to decide anything for Americans. And Hillary Clinton... (How did she become the NRA's voodoo doll of hate?) No, I wouldn't want it to be solely Hillary's decision either. Or Newt's. Or Oprah's. Or Howie Mandel's. Or Elmer Fudd's, for that matter. But the presumption is ludicrous. Hillary doesn't have that kind of power. Only the president can sign his name and create national legislation. No one else. Although, Oprah may be close.

But to answer no would only feed the NRA with false statistics, and give Rush Limbaugh ammo to bluster his blather over the airways.

I told the gentleman, who honest to God sounded like he should be hawking Ritz Crackers, that his question was badly structured. He responded in a neutral-as-Switzerland voice that he couldn't sway me towards yes or no, but they were my only choices. I had to try again, "But it's unanswerable." We were at a stalemate. We parted ways. My voice was not heard by the NRA. And I'm pissed off.

NRA = No Real Answer

Friday, October 23, 2009

Balloon Boy Fallout


News stories involving small children in peril always seem to make our insides go kerfloppy. Baby Jessica trapped in a well drew our collective attention for days. The international fight over Elian Gonzales tugged at our heart strings. And the high courts of Malawi finally allowing Madonna to adopt little Mercy sparked all kinds of controversy. So, of course we spent a day last week following the peculiar tale of the Jiffy Pop looking, homemade, hot air balloon perilously floating thousands of feet above the environs of Fort Collins, Colorado, carrying, quite possibly but not certainly, the precious cargo of six-year-old Falcon Heene.

On a completely almost-unrelated topic, I recently found out that decades ago Michael Jackson was a student at my son's school. In commemoration of his vast success the school's auditorium was named after him. After his various encounters with male youth and then subsequent court appearances, his name was removed from the building. Now that he's passed away, the school is thinking about reversing that decision, and I'm trying to figure out where I stand with this. Am I against a non convicted predator's name splashed across the building where my son invariably will play the all important role of Candied Yam for the Thanksgiving Pageant? Would The Michael Jackson Auditorium bother me? Would The Mary Kay Letourneau Youth Center? The Roman Polanski Taqueria and Carwash?

I first heard about Balloon Boy on Twitter. (This was confirmed by updates on Facebook.) And all I could think was, Where the fuck were his parents? Because my son would absolutely want to get into a balloon and release it from its mooring. Sebastian is a boy boy and does stupid boy boy things. And when you ask him why he did whatever stupid thing he happened to do that day, his response is the same. Doesn't matter if he cut the dog's ear with garden clippers or hit his sister in the face with a fly swatter, he will shrug his little shoulders and say in a high pitched voice, "I wanted to see what would happen."

It's what boys do. Even I, on my birthday last week, had a stupid boy boy moment. I had just finished a chilled martini on the beach at sundown, when I noticed a water source flowing from the shore to the ocean. There seemed to be an embankment on either side of this small stream and I couldn't figure out if it was a permanent structure or made of sand. I walked over, put my foot on the edge, applied weight and immediately the ground gave way. Of course, it was sand. I lost my balance and was about to fall into the water and ruin my suede shirt. My only other option was to torque my body and throw myself on the ground, quite possibly causing injury. I chose pain over soaked suede. The "pop" echoed down the beach and my body promptly went into shock. As I write this my knee still hurts like the dickens and my limp is prominent. Why did I do this? I wanted to see what would happen.

So, there's no way in Bikini Bottom I would allow my six-year-old son anywhere near a hot air balloon. As the story unraveled I found out that the Richard Heene, the boy's father, said something idiotic like, "I told him not to go near it," and I about shit myself.

Hey, Richard, some parental advice... You never tell a kid to stay away from something and then think your parenting is over. You have to keep a sharp eye out because boys are stupid. And while I got your ear, what are you doing building a hot air contraption in your back yard where your kids have easy access? Are you that big of a numbnuts? And if you really don't want your kid to go soaring into the sky, then don't name him Falcon! You should have chosen a more earthbound sounding name like Colt, or Prairie, or Peninsula.

Now, of course, we all know the kid was never in the balloon, and the parents probably set the whole thing up as a publicity stunt to get their own reality series. I guess the fame they tasted when they did two episodes of Wife Swap wasn't enough. And since it looks as if Jon and Kate are imploding, I bet the Heenes saw this as a good time to jockey for the next first family of reality TV.

What gets me most is not that they pulled the wool over our eyes, but that Richard and Mayumi Heene thought nothing of including their kids in the hoax. These mini Heenes blatantly lied to newscasters, police and Larry King alike. What's the lesson here? It's okay to lie to the authorities as long as you get air time. When did getting on reality TV becomes more important than one's integrity?

Do you think there was a moment when either Richard or Mayumi Heene thought, "You know, this might be a really bad idea." Perhaps when friends and family called with concern. Maybe when the National Guard got involved and sent two helicopters to search for the poor lad. Or perhaps when the Denver Airport had to be shut down delaying thousands of passengers. But no, neither parent spoke up. They played upon the concern and goodwill of those of us closely watching. Ladies and gentlemen, we were punked. And here's where I sense an incredible disconnect. Let's say this stunt gets Balloon Family their own reality show. Who of us would really want to watch it?

In regards to punishment, I think jail time seems wrong, since it would leave the three boys parentless. Fining them the maximum of $500,000 for conspiracy seems exorbitant, especially when that money could go towards educational funds and Italian sports cars. I think they should be made to pay fifteen thousand dollars for rescue services, and then Richard and Mayumi Heene should be forbidden from ever being on television again. Make the message clear... Hey starfuckers, your fifteen minutes are over!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shit Creek

I am up Shit Creek. No exag. I'm doing what everyone else is doing, running around in my little hampster wheel feeling as if I'm making headway, but in reality I'm in the same plastic habitat with wood chips strewn about. I mean, can it really be October?

This week was picture week at my son's school. We always have to pack an extra shirt in his backpack, because invariably his pics are shot after lunch. I get his teeth brushed, my husband combs his hair. (But really, if his shots are after lunch, what's the point?) We tell him once again what to expect and with an air of professionalism he says, "Will they take only one picture or is this a photo shoot?"

Well, excuse me, Miss Desmond. I didn't know you were so particular about your close up.

Living pert near on top of Hollywood has been a concern. I don't want my kids to be Southern Californian cliches, acting as if they just stepped out of the movie Clueless. I don't want them all knowing about the business, and blase about reality. I want our kids to be normal, everyday, dirt kicking kids. Photo shoot? Where did he get that?

Two weeks ago, my three year old daughter was having a time of it. She'd cry if the sheets on her bed didn't match her pillow case, or her underwear had the wrong cartoon character on it. Stuff like that. Well, one morning, she broke out into huge sobs. Out of her line of vision I raised my eyes pleading, please don't let this episode go on for forty-five minutes. I readjusted my expression to one of ultimate mommy concern and went to her. And she said to me, "My vagina hurts and I need my nails done!"

If this is the problem at three, what can I expect at thirteen? This complaint did two things. It pointed out to me that we had no idea what we were getting into when we wanted to adopt a girl child. And is it too late to give her back? Okay, I admit, that last query was fantasy. And I'm probably projecting the teenage horrors to come. It's just that Maxie isn't necessarily a breezy spring drizzle when she's unhappy, oh no, she's a category five hurricane with a tsunami chaser.

My husband has been putting a lot of pressure on himself. The fate of the world weighs heavily between his scapulae. It's money. It's job. It's lack of artistic expression. It's diminished residual pay for work on NCIS for $56.13. Consequently, he doesn't sleep well. He's a tosser, a turner, a talker, and a grinder. Thus, I wake up as if I've been caned, with neck pains and backaches.

Perhaps we are all going through stages. Perhaps they will pass. Perhaps Bill Maher is the true Prophet. All I know, is that I will escape today. I will finish this entry and drive south on Interstate 5, to a coastal hotel where I will be pampered. It's my birthday and I have a couple of kinks to get rid of.

And when I return, Shit Creek may have receded. Maybe not. Either way, I will be rested and prepared. I will smell of lavender and bring a paddle.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Slip of the Tongue/Slip Me Some Tongue

It may be years old, but please enjoy the following fifteen seconds of foot in mouth...



Poor Cynthia Izaguirre. You can practically hear the egg oozing down her face. After going to commercial, I imagine her slapping her head in an I could have had a V-8 manner, followed by a big Homer Simpson Doh!

Aside from wondering if she received bushels of hate mail from fags, dykes and physically challenged mountain climbers, I had to ask, What was going on in this distracted newscaster's personal life? I mean, it's a peculiar mistake. Gay does not look like blind on the cue cards. Perhaps she just found out her fiance was gay? Or what if he recently became blind? Or maybe he became both gay and blind? And what if he lost his high paying job as a fashion consultant to boot?

I certainly hope Miss Izaguirre was not forced to make one of those uncomfortable, pseudo heartfelt "I didn't mean to receive a hand job from the hooker" apologies. Hugh Grant set the tone for this highly unnecessary, public mea culpa. And lately we've been inundated with Kanye and Serena and Joe Wilson and even good ol' Dave apologizing before rolling cameras. I can't help but judge their hollow words of regret. They end up degrading me with their watered down "the devil made me do it" excuses. From now on I flat out refuse to be the moral compass for anyone. All you out-of-control rappers and moral lapsing Republicans will have to flap your gums to someone else, because I will not take heed. Except for you Mark Sanford. You really fucked your shit up. Soul mate, indeed!

To push forward with the gay slash blind confusion just a little bit further, I had to ask, "Might homosexuality be seen as a disability?" Poor Doug, he lost his vision. Poor Suzette, she's a muff diver. On the same level do you think? Now, I have heard, Poor Cher, her gay daughter is about to become her straight son. But really, that just takes me off topic.

Then, perhaps perversely, I posited what if everything blind became gay? For instance, gay as a bat. (That would both explain homosexuals' fascination with vampires and bats' love of fruits.) Then there's gay man's bluff, gay faith, Three Gay Mice. "...You've never seen such a sight in your life..." And here's a biggie, "Don't masturbate! Hair will grow on your palms and you'll go gay." When you think about it, that, more than blindness, would be more effective when scaring Christian youth.

And then there's that annoying inflection. We've all heard it from various newscasters for years. The juicy catch phrase that keeps us tuned in for the next segment, always delivered with an upward inflection and an exclamation point. And if Miss Izaguirre had trumpeted the word blind as intended, it would have been tantalizing...fluff, but tantalizing. But she didn't. She blasted gay and it sounded strident and shrill. Certainly I have seen news stories about people who happened to be gay: gay pride parades, for example; gay marriage, certainly; Rosie O'Donnell. But I can't think of an instance where someone's gayness was the center of any news story. It's like singling out blackness or femaleness or Jewishness. It's just not done. Could you imagine...

This just in. Anderson Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, Rupert Everett, Harvey Fierstein and Clay Aiken were in a barroom brawl. They were arrested for disturbing the peace and locked up in the county hoosegow. Not surprisingly, they are all GAY.

Yeah. As gay as a gaggle of bats.