Risi e Bisi, Please-y!

Tonight, we cooked.

We rarely cook together. Sam usually does the cooking when he’s not in school, or I do the cooking, or more likely, it’s pizza or Indian food from a take-out menu or a website.

But we planned this. Recipes from that crazy bitch faaaaabulous creature, Rachel Ray. We watch her religiously, though rarely try out the recipes. Tonight, though, we did:

So picture it: risotto with peas & parmigiano reggiano cheese, chicken breaded in pine nuts & cheese and breadcrumbs, and asparagus tips roasted with olive oil (E-V-O-O!), lemon, taragon and shallots.

From US.

I know!

Today’s serendipity is brought to you by a rainy San Francisco Winter afternoon and by a hot hunky Red Bull of a blogger’s other blog.

Sam curled his puppydog body up on the sofa, his head resting on my lap, as I flipped through stations and landed on HBO Signature, to watch St. Elmo’s Fire. Thankfully I didn’t have to defend the film to Sam as it went on, because I was conflicted, to be honest. It’s a horrible movie. Just dreadful. Mare Winningham is a fine actress. Ally Sheedy eventually became a fine actress. Rob Lowe, well, I think he’s a fine actor, but it’s easy to not care about acting or anything else when you look at the face of an angel.

Mostly it was an exercise in historical place-where, a nostalgic dative case: it was the first movie that I identified with my own adulthood. I was a year behind the Brat Pack, as it turns out. I didn’t realize that at the time, but the wonders of IMDB and a significantly distal point of view allow me to see it now.

So much maudlin message in so shallow a pool of talent. It’s enough to make you weep a little.

And be glad you’ve survived your own youth.

Oscars

So a few weeks ago Sam and I stopped at the Potrero Safeway to get, I don’t know, milk and avocados and emery boards, and on a lark, I ran into the Radio Shack next door figuring I’d spend $50 on an HDTV antenna because it seemed a rather cheap way to try to get a few HD signals into the house.

Of course, as we walked in the door, I remembered that one needs an HD tuner and not just an antenna. So the antenna sat in its box until a couple of weeks ago, when I ordered—also on a lark—the eyeTV 500. I did this because a) we already had the necessary TV & Dual G5 PowerMac and b) after July of this year, you won’t be able to buy ATSC-to-FireWire converter without draconian “copy protection” hardware in it.

RigI also did all this because months ago, my constant tinkering with our DirectTiVo ended up in a working box that could “dial out” over a network, could be programmed via webpage and was expanded in capacity and speed—except that we could no longer get local channels.

And it’s Oscar night!!!!

So I got the antenna, the eyeTV 500 and the PowerMac G5 set up next to our TV, and now we’re watching the Gay Super Bowl in glorious, glorious HD.

Beyoncé looks even more impossibly beautiful, Robin Williams more cuddly and grizzly, and Annette Benning substantially more elegant as she continues to both glow and resist plastic surgery (you GO, girl!).

I think this HD thing is actually going to catch on! Next up, we’re going to try out the TiVo-like features of the eyeTV 500 and its accompanying software.

We ♥ the Big 

Gbnyc2Knowing that this is going on, Sam and I are hoping to get our asses back to NYC to visit our most beloved friends, especially Jennie, Michael, Crash and Walt, my former next door neighbors Bill & Edgar, and a whole bunch of others.

And linking of Homer, by the way, and thinking of late about Richard, I have to say that I miss being in Tucson every now and again. Last time for me was when we moved Sam here back in June. Homer had posted a picture of the Catalina Mountains and it made me nostalgic for the area’s particular majesty. Maybe we’ll make it back to AZ before my brother and his betrothed move back East from Phoenix.

We’re also talking about going to LA for a party, and several other travel destinations. But hell, if my professional situation changes in ways I’m hoping for, I think most of our plans are kaput.

Oh, well. Here’s to hoping. Maybe Crash, et al will keep a couple of seats warm for us at GB:NY2 just in case?

Update: for those non-Safari folks, here’s what this entry is supposed to look like

Waxing Moon

When I’m feeling miserable, especially emotionally, I tend to become circumspect. And abstract. (noticed that, have ya?)

This week, up until Thursday around noon, was the most miserable for me in a very long time, perhaps ever. Then, even though the fog of mind had yet to lift, my spirits did. Intellectually, from the long set of talks I had with incredibly smart and creative people, and emotionally, from the long, slow talk with TOH yesterday, followed by getting home and getting there (hi Jason!), followed by a night out with some friends whose company I don’t seem to value enough.

I’m a tired dog today—we didn’t get to sleep til almost six this morning. But I feel so much better than I have in quite some time.

So to all of you who lobbed emails to me offering support, an ear, a shoulder or other body parts, I thank you so very much.

I Miss Satan

I get accused all the time of being one of those evil, evil moral relativists.

Truth be told (ha, say the accusers, God of Biscuits, you wouldn’t know Truth if Jesus bit you on the ass with it!), I am. I think morals are a personal thing, to be decided by each individual, or, lacking a significant personality, by the Church to which said lightweight belongs.

The irony here—and let’s face it, irony is the sauce that makes the dry, gritty meatloaf of dogma the least bit digestable—is that the Christians out there seem to be the ones who have forgotten their Moral Absolutes.

Yes, kiddies, I’m talking about Satan. Remember him? Remember when he was the Father of Lies?

Evil used to have such high production values. No less than the fate of the Universe Entire was at stake. The good old days, heh?

But the Conservative Christians discovered one of the plays from our liberal playbook—not that we liberals actually have an official playbook and even if we did we wouldn’t hide it cuz we’re just like that—is that we can rightly point out that the Christians’ Absentee God the Father is a convenience for a Host (get it, Catholics?) of Righteously Indignant Party Planks. They can go on and on about God says this and God says that, and give all manner of credit to God for what is actually the hard work of the individuals of His Flock: overcoming adversity, cleaning one’s self up from drugs and alcohol abuse, avoiding any manner of recidivism really.

God gets the Win, or at least the Assist, in all things. This has the interesting added benefit to the Saved of being able to proudly, forcefully proclaim their Humility to all who will listen, and many who won’t.

So Whither the Tempter? Where has Satan gone? Why do you not see the Christians still crediting The Prince of Darkness for all that is wrong with the world?

Why, isn’t it obvious that they’ve belied Belial for the exact same reasons they’ve played up Jesus? The answer is this: credit and blame.

Crediting God for what is really human triumph creates the Saved, the Chosen. Blaming Satan for what is really just the human condition would be a politically wasteful disapprobation!

No, instead, such politically-motivated Christians must turn their backs on the teachings of their Bible and point fingers at far more available targets: humans. Humans are the bad guys—most notably, those who are not of the Saved. The Liberals, you see? Godless humans are Evil, while Satan-less Theists get to have their cake, eat their cake, and rub it on their junk because, dammit, buttercream just feels good.

For if Evil is assigned to the Big Baddy with Horns and Hooves and Tail (poor Pan, dissed by the Church for so long) and the red satin suit and the Perdition and the Flames and the Iraqi Lover, how would Christians build their Earthly Empire?

Speaking of Earthly Empires, didn’t there used to be a Second Coming—darling, that’s a busy night!—somewhere in there, led by the Antichrist? The Antichrist being someone who was believed by the masses to be the Real Savior, but was instead the Exact Opposite?

Naah, that would never happen. Christians aren’t a credulous bunch, really.

Now I must leave, my evil self is taking my evil boyfriend—with whom I live in sin and with whom I carry out perverse, unnatural acts—out to go evil-dancing (Footloose, anyone?) with other like-minded evil-faggots, to dance our E-vil asses off.

Self-acquitting Acquisitive Acquaintances

Northern California is a strange place. Speech is slower, at least a bit, than in other urban areas. The rate of social change is significantly higher in our more rural areas than in other urban areas. Voices are softer, burnished. Talk goes to areas most would deem ‘radical’ with ease, but the gift of directness is an elusive thing.

I have talked often—at at length—about how I’d taken to San Francisco like a fish to water, but there are, of course, aspects of it that elude me. I’m too trenchant, even too brusque, for many here. My expectations, even insistences sometimes, that others cast aside the politesse and just be honest and be candid are serous.

That’s gotten me into big trouble, as one might expect. Gravitas is not always welcomed: I come across as blunt, not direct. I come across as churlish, not candid. I guess too much of my developmental years were spent not in San Francisco, specifically in a more East Coast/Midwest setting.

That’s not an entirely satisfying explanation, either. Perhaps it’s one of those “Is Life too short to put up with shit, or is Life too short to care?” scenarios. I generally come down on the side of not wanting to be the source of that kind of shit, and of generally wanting to keep at a safe distance those who do generate that kind of shit. Maybe it’s an avoidance tactic, but I’m not so sure it is.

I think it’s more of a preventative. It’s about taking care to be a good social citizen, and gathering together with others to provide a sort of nucleation site for good will. And along those lines, it turns out that it’s a pretty good litmus test for gauging friendships. I mean to say, friendships vs. those you just happen to see out and about.

It may seem like a no-brainer, calling this one a friend, and that one merely an acquaintance, but the lines are forcibly smudged here in San Francisco. You meet people you’ve happened to see around a few times at the same times in the same places and a dialog is struck. Pleasantries are exchanged, topics are shallow—it is just at a bar, after all—and a nice time is had by all.

But before you know it, these people are calling you their friend; people are speaking about you in glowingly praising profundities, calling you one of their favorite people.

Uhhhh, what?

Sometimes it feels merely weird; other times it feels forced; still other times it feels like a setup. A setup, as if they’re wrapping up an alterior motive in warm-fuzzies, in wait of some future payoff.

It’s all so tedious, having to set aside the incongruous overtures, having to set aside the quest to uncover the real motives (if any), feeling somewhat a lonely despair that you’re the only one who still remembers the difference between wheat and chaff, between pleasantness and pleasantry, between friendship and base familiarity.

Maybe there’s a quiet desperation that personal worth can only be calculated by external metrics: how many friends do I have, how many people know my name, how many people have I fucked, and so on and so on. Maybe people really are that shallow, or at least only truly comfortable at that lack of depth, that acquaintance and friendship are actually one and the same.

No one is immune from wanting external corroboration at least, most especially myself—I mean, I do have a blog and I am writing here. Different people do have different depths, however, different comfort levels at different depths—and even different comfort zones on the geography of each level. Some of us can resolve the differences, some of us cannot. Some of us choose not to notice the differences.

The vigilance to keep a watch out for the differences isn’t something that can be done fulltime…otherwise, you’d have no time for anything else. So sometimes mistakes are made and the declarations of ‘friendship’ are taken to heart, taken as real. But this comes back, always bites back. That’s an eventuality, a certainty, if friendships (acquaintances?) last for time intervals considered by mammmals to be signficant.

But then again, I suppose, not all mammals are created equal.

There’s a positivity to it all, too: those people who never plant a flag to declare a friendship, whose first utterance of friendship is one of cognizant of an existing truth instead of predictive. Those are the people who value what they already have instead of—or yes, in addition to—despairing over what they may not yet have. Those are the people who make sure you know you can count on them, instead of just assuming they can count on you. Those are the people who are there for you and not just there around you.

Those are the people who talk less and say far, far more.

Those are the only people who I call Friend.

Golden Gate & Tank Hill

Allen's TreeToday was fucking cool. Started off not so great, arguments—old ones—and sullen moments and silent moments, but a nice day and our natural affinity for one another won out. We spent the whole day together, starting off with walking around Golden Gate Park, through the Fern Tree Grove, through the AIDS Memorial Grove. Allen’s tree is there. Back in July of 1996, a year after Allen died, I sponsored a Workday in his name. I was one of two people who had sponsored the day, and after several hours of uprooting cyprus seedlings and blackberry brambles around what is now the western end of the Grove’s Meadow, there was a little ceremony where we planted a seven-foot redwood tree in Allen’s name. I was still in a funk during that Workday, and come to think of it, it was a day much like today. Though since it was July, it was much colder than our February spectacle today. His tree now stands three times taller.

There was a Parks maintenance vehicle right near the Grove’s Circle of Friends monument, and Sam suggested playfully that we steal it. I laughed, said no, then went quiet again. I commented to Sam that this grove was the only real church for which I still had any natural or instinctive sense of the sacred.

Sany0033-3“So I guess I shouldn’t talk about us going into the bushes to do it, huh?” Sam asked.

I laughed again, told him that I thought the place wasn’t so much about being quiet and solemn as it was about still being alive to enjoy it, “so, it’s ok to talk about that kind of stuff.”

Sam wrapped his arms around me and we kissed. Ok, ok, we made out.

We did that a lot today…in the Fern Tree Grove, near a pond. Near the Conservatory. On JFK Drive. Later on top of Tank Hill.

We drove around Golden Gate Park for a while, then headed over towards Parnassus Heights, because it snows there every year, around this time of year, for a couple of days. We were a few days early, though.

I wanted Sam to see a few different houses that I’ve always loved, and we ended up above Cole Valley at the end of Belgrave Street. That’s when we discovered Tankhill Park. Who knew it was even there?

It was good to have found it together; together is good, whether in the park this afternoon, or greased up like pigs going at it in the shower this evening.

Sany0040-2