July 30, 2006

Ship Shape (ish)

What a perfectly lovely weekend. It still twinges to swallow, but at least things are moving in the right direction.

Connie (see multiple references if you need a catch up) arrived Friday night. Always good to see friends from (the previous) home here in the new big city. We were just hanging on Old Compton Street (as one does) watching the cute boys pass by, when I was forced to halt the parading of two especially cute ones. (Hmmm, why can't I find Stair's link?)

Yesterday was a bit of shopping (the clerk at Topman says, "this is quite a good haul"), walking about and the most amazing dinner at Levant. Delicious Lebanese food with a delectable Spanish waiter.

So all this salt water I’ve been gargling has made me miss the sea. What to do? Why not fly to Nice and get aboard a lovely 5-masted sailing vessel for a week-long Mediterranean cruise?

Yup, I’m typing in my lovely stateroom on the Windsurf. That noise you hear behind the curtain? That’s Larry snoring. How cool is it to have a teeny lounge and then a sleeping chamber that’s behind two burgundy velvet curtains? There so needs to be a show in cabin 314. I’ve already played “Drowsy Chaperone” and am working up a couple numbers.

We left Nice about 5 hours ago, had a beautiful ride down the coast down to Monaco, and are now headed on smooth open waters to St. Tropez.

Too tired to deal with any pictures just yet, but trust me. It’s lovely. I have a 7:30am date at the pool in the for my check-out dive, and will be Scuba-doing with the fishes later on in the week. It’s going to be an amazing trip.

Feels so good to be back on the water. Only trouble is the accents of the fellow passengers. I wonder how long it’ll take us to get used to hearing mostly Americans. So loud. So nasal.

The company who booked the charter is based in Ft. Lauderdale, and there’s a big Florida contingent on board. There are only about 250 passengers. So far I’ve recognized two. One from Ptown/Lauderdale (he’s here on the “guest relations” crew) and on who used to do stand up in New York and Ptown that I’d met through a Ptown friend 7 or so years ago. Small world.

Well, one more walk around the deck, just to check out the stars, then I'll join the snore monster. Half seven is just round the bend.

St. Tropez. Sheesh. Who'd have thunk it.

July 28, 2006

I Have to Admit, I'm Getting Better

Headache? Cured.

Earaches? Cured.

Swollen glands? Deflating.

Sore throat? Still there but getting better.

So where's all this sinus drainage coming from? I wasn't really congested (or so I thought). And since it still hurts to swallow, I'd just like to let it all drain out.

Perhaps if I just lie on a massage table, with a bucket under my face I could just let gravity to the work.

Isn't that what they call lymphatic drainage?

July 27, 2006

Zen of Laundry

Thinking about the wash has never made me miss SCUBA diving before. Great ad.

July 26, 2006

More Spit, Less Swallow

I have gargled so much saltwater I'd swear I've been eating out a mermaid.

Sorry, that's the codeine talking.

Still feeling crappy. Doctor says its probably viral and will run its course. 4 days into this, clearly the course was not a sprint. I just hope it's not a marathon.

Was supposed to go to Dublin tomorrow but I'm gonna have to cancel. Grrr.

July 25, 2006

Tuesday 200 - #3

“Mrs. Hollister, I really need an extension on the deadline for my writing assignment.”

She looked up from her papers, flicked eraser crumbs off the blotter, and peered over her turquoise-framed reading glasses. Her desk smelled like White-Out and Sharpies, which was doing my foggier-than-normal head no favors.

“What’s the problem today, Mr. Thompson?” she growled. “Another hangnail?”

I hated when she brought that up. I used that excuse once on a dare. It was never supposed to be taken seriously. Who knew she was regional chair of the Correcting Unclipped Nailbeds Trust?

Of course, things didn’t get any better when that Schweikert kid found out and told everyone she was head C.U.N.T. of Southwest LA. He’d always been such a quiet kid.

“No ma’am, nails are great. Your cuticle oil is aces.” She stuck out her bottom lip and blew her bangs off her forehead.

“Look, I’ll cut to the chase, Mrs. H. I’ve had this really bad sore throat sinusey thing. Mom thinks it’s esophageal cancer. Alleve wasn’t cutting it so I’ve taken a bunch of codeine. It’s nice. Pain’s a little duller, but everything’s in slow motion.”

“Back to your desk. Start writing.”

She’s so mean.

:: :: ::

Last week's Tuesday 200.

July 24, 2006

Marvin's Room

It's on tv right now. Diane Keaton is inspired.

And Scott McPherson's death was a very sad day for American theater. At least he got to adapt the screenplay.

101.6° in the Shade*

No, not the heatwave.

Yes, my temperature.

I guess yesterday's mysterious hangover was really the onset of MSOD.

Sore throat, congestion, snot dripping into my chest.Achey legs and sweats mixed with chills (which are very helpful in the warm weather). Good thing I'm watching Season 3 of 24 (deadly virus, sort of rubbish so far, can Kim get infected and die soon? PLEASE?!?). And I'm having Larry bring home a copy of The Stand.

The boys in harnesses with power tools were hanging outside both bedrooms today. This could, in better circumstances, be an all-points, Titan Man-esque invitation for fun ("Hi guys, how's it hanging? you sure look hot. How about some nice cold lemonade?") Alas, this morning, I wanted was to sleep. They had mini-jackhammers (not a euphemism) and power sanders. Whirrr. Pound. Blast.

My head felt like an exposed, unfilled root canal in a face that was having massive reconstructive surgery.

And here is the aftermath ... what a shame the downstairs neighbors just spent weeks and (no doubt) thousands of pounds having a fountain/garden installed.

I would so much rather be slathered in Nivea by Oliver.

* That's just under 39° C.

July 23, 2006

Inexplicably Hung

I woke up this morning with a hefty hangover and a hint of priapism. Pulling the pillow over my eyes, I thought "what did I drink last night? And who slipped me a Viagra?"

I recapped the evening and realized that not only had I stayed home all night, I hadn't drank a thing, not even the smallest medicinal thimble of red wine (good for the heart and prostate). Really, not a drop all day.

So why the headache? The bleary eyes? The sore, semi-swollen, scratchy, erm, throat?

Maybe I'm drinking in my sleep. Somnambarhopping. It could happen. Larry eats in his. True story. He doesn't just grind his teeth, he chews and smacks his lips, and murmurs yummy sounds. For hours. It's cute for about 2 minutes, but 14 years later ...

So I excused myself from last night's midnight buffet and slept in the guest room. Or at least I tried to. Kept tossing and turning and going in and out of old recurring dream ... the one where I'm scheduled go on stage any minute and I don't know my lines and can't find a copy of the script. If memory served, we hadn't even rehearsed the second act. Hate when that happens.

This was a new show, however ... a big Broadway bonanza. My costume was a snazzy tuxedo but the shirt (with cardboard collar) didn't fit and nobody could find my trousers. A guy I used to wait tables with at Arnaud's was in the show too, frantically running around trying to find me some clothes.

Alas, there was no dead man in the window. (Ask him).

So here I blog, with a headache and a sore throat. There's a kid in the garden who's been screaming bloody murder for the past 20 minutes. If I wasn't so comfortable sitting naked on the couch, laptop keeping my bits (less engorged now, thanks for asking, I guess there'd been no blue pill after all) just a little toasty, I'd go out and have a word with Squealy McShriekerton.

Take the brat home if he's that friggin' miserable, why have him ruin an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning for the rest of the neighborhood?

And we breathe ....

Ah well, this too shall pass. Maybe it's the start of a cold and not a hangover at all. Vitamin C should help ... perhaps a Bloody Mary, some Aleve, and a few cold tablets. Best to cover all my bases.

Now, where did I put that prescription pad? I've got a barbeque in Walthamstow to get to. I'm told I can go naked. Yay.

July 22, 2006

Hot Diggety

I've been thinking about holding a summer party in the garden/square/toddler nudist camp across the way. Not being sure of the rules here, I wanted to make sure it was okay.

Landlord said he didn't know the rules, but he knew there'd been cocktail parties in the past. He wasn't sure about cooking though.

And as if by magic, the precedent has been set. There's a big gathering out there now. The hubbub of Pimms' induced chatter and cackling girls shrieking after too many wine spritzers and alcopops. Amateurs.

Not sure of the date, but it will most likely be a Saturday afternoon/eveining in mid-August. Let me know if you can come play. I really hope we can cook. I haven't made Quail Burgers* in forever.

:: :: ::

*Quail burgers are a culinary treat found by my dad, years ago when he worked in Southern California. Take a hot dog. Cut a lengthwise slit, about half-way deep into the dog. Stuff a dill pickle spear and two strips of American cheese into the slit. Wrap in bacon (that's streaky American bacon, for the Brit readers), which is held in place with toothpicks. Grill. Serve on a bun.

Of course, if they were at Crif Dogs (what happened to their website?), they'd be deep fried, but that would just be decadent.

Mmmm, Crif Dogs + Quail Burgers = Heaven in a Bun

July 21, 2006

Point and Tuck

Season Six of The West Wing arrived yesterday, so I really don't have a lot to say. Today's recommended minimum daily word count has been logged at Valley of the Trolley Dollies, where I'm guest blogging during Derek's rehabilitation post-nuptial holiday. The official honeymoon is later on in the year, this is just some "time off for rest and relaxation." Like I said ... rehab.

So the only thing new and exciting here is that I woke up the other morning to see a couple helmeted guys hanging from ropes and harnesses outside the bedroom window. Hmm, when did the downstairs neihbors were running a mountain climbing school?

Turns out they're tuckpointing the back of the building, getting ready for it to be painted. During the hottest week of the year ... nice planning on their part, et? Oh, the shirtless one is sorta yummy, in a dusty, sweaty, agile, workmanlike, hanging-in-a-harness kind of way. Maybe he'd like to come in for a cool shower. Or something.

Eduardo just called. He's officially on holiday. My liver weeps.

July 18, 2006

Tuesday 200 - #2

"There's nothing to worry about," Hal promised. "They walk in and say 'you're negative' before you even sit down."

He sips his lukewarm Sprite, trying to swallow down another wave of nerves.

The door marked "Staff Only" squeals open. A middle aged black woman reads "WX 4723" from her clipboard. She looks like the cafeteria lady who used to give him extra fish sticks every Friday.

He double checks his receipt, whispers "Bingo," and rises.

He'd gotten the number last week when he and Hal came in for blood tests. His first, Hal's third. Hal lived in San Francisco before moving home to Fayetteville and had learned a lot more about the "big bad world" than Tom had.

She gives him a warm yet practiced smile and motions him into the room. "Hi, I'm Betty."

He musters a half nod and enters. "Tom." So much for the anonymous clinic.

The room's stark. Two plastic chairs, a laminated table, a phone, and a box of tissues. It smells like Pledge and smelling salts.

"How you doing?" Betty asks as she sits and opens a folder.

"Uhm, you tell me."


"So we have your results …"

Everything goes into slow motion.

:: :: ::

Last week's Tuesday 200

July 17, 2006

Monday Morning, Warts and All

We take time out of a suprisingly productive Monday morning to make a few notes:

  • The weekend was a complete success. I've been told I'm guest blogging at Derek's site while he's away, so I'll post the wedding recaps there as soon as I'm given the keys to the kingdom. Suffice to say, we had so much fun that we didn't even think of going llama treking.
  • "Gee Francine! You're the most drinkin'est girl I know." Gee, there were a lot of Francines in Midhurst this weekend.
  • Larry using a wine bottle for a spontaneous I-think-I'll-lip synch microphone is a site to behold.
  • Midhurst is not unlike being in a tiny Hamptons village. That's the first thing I wrote in my journal on Saturday morning, and one of the first things Larry said to me when he arrived Saturday afternoon … long before the lip synching began.
  • The shirtless guys tending to the square across the street could be so much cuter.
  • I woke up this morning from a dream nightmare that I was living with Richard and Grace. It's enough to put anybody off for the day.
  • Given the above, I felt like doing absolutely fuck all this morning. So I made a list of 15 things I dididn't feel like doing and have gotten half of them done already. Yay me.
  • Another one has bitten the dust at Brand This! (his choice, not theirs) so I'm going to Dublin for his going away do next week. One night only. It's all I have to give.
  • Need to get Edinburgh sorted out for mid-August ... it's on the second half of the list.
  • Connie and Christopher are coming to play (different weekends over the next month). The the media has been alerted and is most excited.
  • Logged on to IM for the first time in months and nobody wants to chat with me. Rude.
  • Bette Davis festival at the National Film Institute. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
  • It's supposed to hit 35° this week. I think I might have to give the Oasis a go. Eduardo tells me it's chock full of rent boys, rich men and enemployed. I'll take a camera, a CV and maybe some cash.

And now, I'm off to get my verruca bazooka'd. And that's not a euphemism.

July 15, 2006

And While You're in the Country ...

... why not try an exciting llama trek?

I have a feeling there's a llama farm and the critters need exercising, so the owners have created a way for unsuspecting visitors to walk the llamas, and pay for it.

July 13, 2006

Pack My Quiver and Bow

A weekend in the country — Tomorrow morning, we go.


I'm off to a gay wedding ... gay as in festive as well as boy-on-boy betrothal.

I know it's spur of the moment, but hey ... he's awfully cute and needs a visa to stay in the country.

Just kidding. It's Derek and David's and we couldn't be happier to have been asked to be a part of their celebration. And how fascinating will it be to meet the parents who raised Satan's child as if he were their own?

Charlotte we're going, Charlotte we're going

July 12, 2006

With Liberty and Justice for All Most

I thought I'd take a swig of Americana last night. I had no apple pie and mom's not so easy to get hold of. That left baseball. So I tuned into the All-Star game. It didn't take me long to get irritated and turn it off. I guess the fact that the broadcast didn't start until 1am local time might have been a factor.

What's with the forced military patriotism at the beginning of the game? We just watched a month of football over here. Each game started with the parading of children and a prevailing theme of ending racism. The US starts its "best of" match with a presentation of soldiers and a fighter-jet fly-over.

Baseball is supposed to be the great American pastime. So why start off a game, a show of sportsmanship, with a glorification to war? A war that, according to the media (left-wing commie pinko as it may be), is not what the American people (or the rest of the world) want.

I'm having a big deja vu as I write this, so forgive me if I've blathered on about this before.

It's sport. It's a game. It's not a place for soldiers. It's a place for players. But then I'm reminded of the Americans in the World Cup. "We bled for our country," said one of the squad. It wasn't a game to them. It was a war.

The axiom goes "it's the little guy who always has something to prove." America's not that little. Yes, it's relatively young, but still.

Maybe it's the little minds that have something to prove. We are Americans. We are proud. We believe in Freedom of Speech (unless you're The New York Times or The Los Angeles Times). We believe in civil liberties (unless you're gay or can't afford medical insurance or have won an indefinite stay in a government-sanctioned torture camp). We believe in the separation of church and state (unless you're an elected official cow towing to religious right lobbyists).

But I digress.

Where were we? Oh yeah, baseball. Um, it's kinda boring. Oh sure, tie game, 3 men on, bottom of the 9th with a full count ... that's crackin' edge-of-your-seat entertainment. But overall, it's much slower than I remember. And without being able to drink a beer, eat a half-dozen hot dogs, and make fun of the bad clothes/hair in the stands, well it just left me a little flat. Don't get me wrong, I'd go to a Cubs game in a minute. But those were always more of a big neighborhood block party than a sanctioned sporting event.

What was with all the booing last night during the introductions? It's a line-up of players chosen by the public, right? Are Pittsburgh fans really that angry/bitter over the total suckation of Pirates that they need to boo players from other cities. Excellent sportsmanship. And booing in public? How courageous. Home of the brave, indeed.

Home of the rude and ill mannered.

I know, I know. Zidane's head butt was a skosh aggressive … but he's gonna explain all that later on today.

I didn't recognize but a few of the players. Derek Jeter's still playing? Bless. But my, what athletic prowess. They sure do get paid a lot to stand around and catch the occasional ball, don't they? Much better than having to actually work for two 45-minute stretches without a break. Those stupid footballers ... actually choosing a sport that you break a sweat in.

All that standing around, with the requisite saunter back to the dugout every 3 outs, well it just doesn't make for the fittest looking players, does it? But Steven Colbert sums that up much more eloquently than I could ....

There was something else ... oh yeah. There was a big Republican brouhaha awhile back about the sanctity of the American flag. Now that the government had solved the pesky trifles like Iraq, Afghanistan, illiteracy, oil prices, and affordable medical care, they could move on to the important issues. A Constitutional amendment against defacing the flag. Fair enough. So if that had passed, would it have precluded transforming the last night's giant flag (the one that spread out across the field during the hand-on-heart let-me-grab-a-tissue cavalcade of patriotism) into a map of the United States? A clever party trick to be sure, but not very nice to Hawaii and Alaska.

Lesson learned -- it's okay make a map out of a flag, but not okay for Kid Rock's designer to fashion a matching t-shirt. Thanks, I see the clear delineation.

Finally, the presenters/commentators/bufoons at Channel 5 were cheesier than a case of Kraft Dinner. We'd have seen better banter from a cracked-out Katie Couric and donut-deprived Al Roker doing the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Jonny Gould and his rosy-cheeked American co-schlub (I can't find a credit for him, so I don't know his name) were stilted, scripted and, well, just plain stupid. Then again, according to one website, his hero is Bob Barker. Oh, I see, he's a game show presenter. Well that makes sense, after all baseball's a game. Maybe we can get Alex Trebek to host the World Series (in which the actual "world" does not participate, but we'll save that for the end of summer).

So how was the game? I only made it through half of the first inning.

July 11, 2006

Tuesday 200 — We Begin

My writing class was both shorter and longer than normal tonight. How can this be?

Our 2-hour session was only an hour, but then we met for another 2 hours, drinking wine and listening to "published people" read and talk about writing. Everyone from class was invited to have a go. The instructor, Shaun, read from his short stories. And a lovely woman named Lynne Rees read from Messages, a book she co-authored with Sarah Salway.

Messages was written as a collaborative creative writing project. As the preface states:

Using email, 300 pieces of exactly 300 words were exchanged in total, each one returned within a limit of 72 hours. Links were made creatively – words, theme, character, object, form, or even mood. The project took eighteen months to create.

The pieces she read were fascinating. Some short fictions, a set of lists, as well as poems from a separate collection. There were no boundaries in the Messages project, except to make a link, any link, and get them back to each other within 3 days.

As I was sitting and listening, I got inspired.

Why not do Tuesday 200s? A 200-word piece every Tuesday, hopefully each a self-contained contained tale — or at least a reasonable snippet. I'll make some type of link each week from the previous week's post. I'll do it for at least 20 weeks (I guess 200 would be cooler, but I don't know if I'm ready to commit to a 4-year project).

Let's begin …

:: :: ::

"Why do you sit like a girl?"

I'm at a picnic table, tying knots for a merit badge test. We're in the Sierra Nevadas, on a hiking trip with my Scout troop. I'm probably 10 or 11.

I look up. "Huh?"

Three older guys loom over the other side of the table. I squint to keep the bright sun from melting them into the mountains.

Their ringleader, Dave, asks the question again. He's tall and muscular. Has a driver's license. Shaves with a real razor. I only pretend, secretly scraping Gillette Foamy off my face with the back of a comb. He has thick black hair, on his legs as well. He is, I would learn the term a few years later, dreamy.

"What do you mean?" I ask, honestly having no clue.

"Look at your legs."

I lean back and peer under the table. My ankles are crossed, the toe of my left hiking boot on the dirt and my right ankle resting on the back of my left Achilles tendon.

"Girls cross their knees, not their ankles," I instruct them, and return to practicing my knots.

"I guess you'd know," one of them snickers as they walk away.

July 10, 2006

But You Are Blanche, You Are ...

Ah, the delectable Blanche Debris ...


Long before she wrecked havoc upon the poor Calendar Boys contestants at Oz, there was a charming, funny and possibly insane young (but not as young as me) man named Kevin who I spent 4 years with in New Orleans. Good times.

For better or worse, I would not be the person I am today had I not gone on that date (a Mardi Gras ball) with my friend Renee's (yeah, the one who's now in Ptown -- small world) boss.

It's Kevin's birthday today. Happy Birthday, you big old drag queen.

Feesh and Cheeps

I spent several hours on the phone yesterday with tech support from both with BT and Netgear. As helpful as they try to be (and, perhaps naively, I still like to think they're trying to be helpful), I just can't understand the really thick Indian accents. I wonder if they get as equally frustrated with me channeling Marjorie Dawes, "Sorry, say it again?"

I'm sure the Netgear guy was just about ready to say, "Don't you have any Punjabi friends I could talk to?" We really did need an interpreter.

My broadband went out a few days ago, and the phone line has been wonky for a couple weeks now. The BT guy figured out my modem/router had corrupted, which was in effect shorting out the phone line. Since the BT modem/router was more than a year old, there was nothing they could do.

Fair enough, and easily fixed. I went to the Apple Store and got a new Netgear modem/router that would complement my existing Netgear wireless setup. I set it up in about 10 minutes. Very easy and I'm back up with a wired connection.

So now I know the DSL works, and it seems BT guy was right on the money. So now all I have to do is hook up the wireless, and it was already configured so that should be a snap.

Or so I thought.

When I hooked up the new modem to the wireless, I would get no internet. The problem was, which the Netgear guy didn't tell me until after 45 minutes of fumbling verbal intercourse, was that both Netgear machines had the same IP address and that was causing the conflicd. He worked with me for a while, trying to get me to change the IP addy for the new modem via its brower interface. No go .. not with Firefox, Safari, nor Explorer.

He put me on hold while he talked with his supervisors. I watched Italy win. He came back.

"Italy just won," I told him.

"Yes, I saw." Okay, so he's working hard.

"You're going to have to get a Windows machine to get it to work," he finally told me. "Apparently you can't change the configuration on a Mac."

"Okay, I should just run out and buy a new PC so I can change the settings?" I asked.

He thought that would be a good idea and wished me luck.

Ended up upgrading the firmware on the old wireless router, restoring it to its original settings, changing the IP addy, and then running the setup wizard. Presto, Internet up and running on a new wireless network called "I hate BT."

Now I only had to get the Airport Express to work on the new network. You'd think that wouldn't have been too hard. After fighting with that for about a half hour (reboot, scan with Airport Utility, find nothing, reboot, scan again, etc.), I did a Google search and found that Simon Brown had similar problems. Ten minutes later, my Airport Express has the long-anticipated steady green light and now there's wireless music again.

Other than that, a fairly low-key weekend. Well, except for that impromptu pub crawl with Eduardo to celebrate the end of Rose Tyler (I knew she wouldn't "die" ... never believe an allegedly dead narrator's prologue) that ended up at the White Swan, which is totally my new favorite watering hole. And so conveniently located!

Thank heavens for the Dr. Who-like qualities of our livers ... they just keep regenerating.

July 5, 2006

Not Write

In the first day of the writing class I'm taking, the instructor told us that a lot of the in-class exercises would be autobiograhpical. As such, things might get personal but "don't reveal anything more than you're comfortable with. Try to define your comfort zone, and push your limits whenever you can. Sounds sort of like an S&M party, doesn't it?"

Last night, we had to do short 5-minute freewrite, just for us -- not to be read aloud, on what we wouldn't write about.

I listed some family dramas, secrets I know about other people that would be hurtful, work issues (when I had them), my undercover missions with SD-6, that goat I had to fuck for a fraternity initiation, etc.

We didn't have to read aloud, but we did talk about how it felt to write about the unwriteables. I ended up overthinking (surprise) and saying I'd write about most anything, but not blog about certain things. I'm becoming more and more comfortable with fictionalizing real life unmentionables and turning them into fodder for stories.

One guy in class had no qualms sharing his list. "It's really short," he said. "Celine Dion. I hate her."

And we love him for that.

July 4, 2006

Oooooh, Aaaaaaah

I love a good fireworks show.

The first time I remember seeing them was riding the ferris wheel at Coney Island, but Cincinnati's predecessor to the Island of Kings (you know, the amusement park where the Partridge Family played).

I must have been really little, maybe 4 or 5 years old. Who was I riding with? Uncle David? Uncle Dick? Dad? The legend, at least according to my mom, has it that I held my hands over my eyes most of the time, saying "they're really pretty."

Fireworks were the capper to our annual pilgrimage to Disneyland during the 8 years we spent in Southern California. Once a year, we'd all get in dad's company car (we had "the Pontiac" and "the company car") and drive to Anaheim. There'd be a dime on the dashboard and whoever saw the Matterhorn first would win it. Then we'd run around the park all day, begging for more E tickets. Pirates of the Caribbean and the Matterhorn were my favorite. And I loved the Peter Pan ride, sailing over the twinkling lights of the London skyline. Who knew I'd be here 35 years later. Who knew I'd never really grow up?

After the Electric Light Parade, we'd ooh and ah at the fireworks, and then meander out of the park, trying to talk our folks into getting us more souvenirs before we left Main Street.

The only time we didn't see fireworks was in 1970, when the park closed early because the Yippies had invaded. No shopping on Main Street that evening, as the sidewalks were lined with policeman and CHiPs (long before Erik Estrada donned the uniform).

When we moved back to Ohio (the summer before Space Mountain opened ... what a gyp), the best fireworks were the annual WEBN fireworks at Labor Day. It's now a huge event and is co-sponsored by Toyota I think (haven't been for years), but it really only began in 1977 and was a big drunken mess. I of course, was too young to drink back then .. or at least too much of a goody-goody to drink as a teenager. I made up for it all in spades when I got to college. By the time I was drinking, selling beer was banned), although that didn't stop us. From what I hear, it's still one of the best displays you can see.

I think the best fireworks I've seen, or at least the best time I had at a fireworks show, was the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty. I was on the Hudson River, in a boat sponsored by a group called The Islanders. Kevin and I had come up from New Orleans for Miss Liberty's big birthday and somehow were able to get tickets to the boat at the last minute. It was the most amazing night. Sailing down around Liberty Island, one of a million boats bobbing in the river. When the fireworks finally went off, it was like we were right under them.

That was 20 years ago tonight. Long before I'd even thought of moving to New York. Several years ago, Larry and I were talking about fireworks. I asked him what his favorite fireworks were and he said he'd been at the Statue of Liberty's Centennial on a boat. It was a boat rented out by the Islanders. Six years before we met each other, we were on the same little boat, watching fireworks, drinking beer with a bunch of homos we didn't know. Go on, talk about your destiny.

So to everybody watching fireworks tonight, enjoy and be careful. It's all fun and games until somebody gets a bottle rocket in the eye.

What are your favorite fireworks?

July 3, 2006

Summer Breeze

I've got all the windows open and there's the most amazing breeze going through the apartment/flat (choose your own local terminology). All hail cross-ventilation. If there were any jasmine in my mind, I'm sure it would be being blown.

Apparently the gated garden outside our flat has become clothing optional. While ball games are forbidden, it seems a round of naked tag and then a romp in the pink paddling pool are encouraged.

The naturist 3 year olds have taken over. And they couldn't be having more fun. I'm a little jealous.

What a great day it's been. Apologies to all those stuck in an office, but I spent the day wandering around Hampstead Heath. And, no, I did not get naked. I started on the northwest corner of the park and rambled through various paths for a couple hours. It was a really lovely walk amidst the local flora and fauna.

I came across a familiar species that I haven't seen since my last trip to the Cape. These critters must be relatives of the Provincetown sand dune prairie dogs ... you know, the half-naked men who pop up out of the dunes, looking for similar members of their species (well, they're probably looking for any member). Up they come, their heads swivel left to right a couple times, and then down they go, back into their hiding place. A human whack-a-mole. The creatures indigenous to Hampstead Heath seem to be a little paler than those in Ptown, and their habitats are patches of tall, dry grass which often adjoin bushy shrub-like growth.

Down by the ponds, the sun bathing creatures seem less feral, equiped with bottles of water, headphones and tanning lotion. I didn't come prepared with a towel or blanket, and grass makes me itchy, so I just sauntered about, taking in the local color.

The view from Parliment Hill is much more panoramic than I'd expected. And me without my camera.

I'm sure people will be complaining about the "heatwave" we're having here, but I think it's lovely ... and I don't usually like hot weather. Yeah, it may be 90° (30°+ C), but the humidity is low and it's going to last all of what, 3-5 days? It's nothing like the humid muckiness I've lived through in New Orleans, Houston and New York.

I guess it's all relative (humidity).

To all my friends and family back in the States, have a great 4th.

Happy Birthday to him (and thanks for letting me be a part of the stag hag do on Saturday; spending the day half-hammered with Scotland Yard's finest is a new highlight of my drinking career).