grrgoyl: (Bad Jesus!  Very Bad!)
My, my, my I've been quiet. TOO quiet. Which is good news for everyone, because instead of writing a hugely epically long post, I'm forced to reduce it to key highlights from sheer lack of memory. So I have those, plus a large number of mini-movie reviews.

First, to wrap up the Parade of Homes 2011! I've been back to MyFriendDeb's to go on an unrelated outing. She wasn't exactly ready when I arrived, however, her pace of preparing to leave could be described as "hustling" if not "frantic," and we walked out the door five minutes later rather than twenty. If you knew Deb like I know Deb, that right there is as good as an apology, my friends.

In fact, Ryan was supposed to join us that day, but bailed at the last minute because he was spending the previous night with John (translation: drinking). While I'm not thrilled he's regressed back to him after more than a year's break, hey, whatev, I'm not his mother. But as I told Deb, I just knew it would be followed by a Facebook pity party about how much his life sucks and bemoaning being surrounded by losers all the time.

Sure enough, that night Tery was checking her page when she read it to me: "Last day off for 8 weeks and I didn't even do anything fun -- laundry and Facebook. Yippee." My first impulse was to comment "Awww, too bad you don't have cool friends that invite you out to an awesome day in the mountains." But I knew he was probably hoping for/expecting something from me, so I gave him stony silence instead. Because I'm done. And if you know me, it takes a lot for me to be done, but I'm there.

~*~

Tery FINALLY gets mountain biking. She lowered her saddle by two inches, and that has made all the difference between feeling like she was in control and feeling like she was going to pitch over the handlebars any minute. It also helped her feet reach the ground for dabbing, something she couldn't do before and something I was unaware she couldn't do. I wish I could take credit as her mentor, but the suggestion was made by an older woman hiker on the trail who noticed Tery sitting too high. Consequently we returned to Little Scraggy and, as predicted, she loved it--though probably wouldn't have without the adjustment. She is putting together a little video of our adventures that might be published here. Turns out she's quite the Steven Spielberg, because there wasn't much to work with.

~*~

Oh right, so I'm on the pill! Which still sounds weird to say a week later. I'm happy to say it was simply a matter of going to the clinic and asking for it: No intrusive questions about why I wanted it or lectures on the moral implications, etc. (Of course I did go to Planned Parenthood which might have had something to do with it). Didn't even have to lie about only wanting it until November and that was all, just "how many packs would you like?"

Tery's first reaction to the news was "Great. You're free to sleep with guys now," as if her only objection was with unwanted pregnancy (it certainly is not).

I spent the second day researching possible side effects, which include headaches, nausea, breast enlargement (PLEASE GOD NO), weight gain and mood swings. This last one worried me the most (not helped by [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana's reassuring "You're about to turn into Queen Megabitch") -- I'm unsettled by the thought my mood can be artificially affected (control issues), and I spent the day imagining that a mood swing was gestating inside me like a chestburster alien. Tery isn't concerned about it; she thinks it's not something I would consciously notice, and anyway she's holding out hope that I'll be nicer, as if I'm so mean now there's nowhere to go but up (I really don't think I am).

There was one incident when we realized twenty minutes too late that the new "Office" wasn't recording, but I'd like to think that would have happened with or without chemicals. Other than that I've experienced a few episodes of random and extremely intense horniness, which I might blame on the medication. But if that's the worst that happens, I can certainly live with it.

~*~

In biking news, I think I've seen the guy whose picture you find when you look up the word "dickhead."

On my route I have to cross traffic three times, which is only a big deal during rush hour, as I've stated before when people don't care about anything but getting to work (or home) and God help anyone that gets in their way. One of these intersections is by far the worst, and that is where our story is set.

In fact this was afternoon, so the traffic was (mostly) returning home. I waited on the curb with a fellow lady biker and a male pedestrian. At one point the traffic cleared, no cars coming, so we all started across (it wasn't just me taking liberties here). We had almost made it to the opposite curb when traffic started coming over the hill. Let me explain that from the top of this hill drivers have clear visibility all the way to the intersection, a good 100 yards or so. Plus there were three of us in a big cluster, not one lone hard-to-see person. In theory, should be plenty safe for everyone, right?

As we were all just about to reach the opposite curb, the guy whose lane we were crossing (an SUV. Act surprised) suddenly slammed on his brakes so they would let out a dramatic ear-splitting squeal, as if it was a blind turn and he had just noticed us and came within inches of hitting us. You know damn well he saw us from the top of the hill, and you know damn well he deliberately avoided braking until getting right on top of us (in fact might have even accelerated a little) just so he could do that. Really? You want to be That Guy? Because no one likes That Guy.

Dick. Head.

I've found forums about traffic laws featuring bitter arguments in the comments over who the bigger idiots are, cyclists or motorists. Obviously it's a case-by-case basis, but I think motorists are by far more careless and dangerous -- most of the time they barely notice each other, let alone someone not driving two tons of death-dealing steel. And I include myself in this category: I'll admit I've almost hit people in the crosswalk because I wasn't paying attention. And conversely I'll admit I've done some stupid things on a bike because I made an incorrect split-second decision. But a cyclist's bad judgment will get themselves hurt more often than a motorist, whereas the converse isn't true.

I think one solution would be a mandatory day on a bike for everyone (I'd actually love a week, but let's be realistic), so they can get a tiny taste of how scary it is trying to negotiate traffic with people who either don't see you or who don't think you deserve to be on the road. And I nominate That Guy to take the first shift.

~*~

Now, movies! Oodles and oodles of movies! So many that these are mostly mini reviews. No spoilers really, except maybe for one or two you've never heard of/couldn't care less about. I've bolded all the titles so you can skim easily. Behind the cut: 127 Hours, Wrecked, The Reef, Trollhunter, Shiver, Piranha (1978 and 2010), Insidious, The Last Airbender, and Paul.

::I have too much free time:: )
grrgoyl: (snowcake scrabble)
The good news is I FINALLY have my Parade of Homes posts sorted. I'm dividing them into five days so I don't deluge you all at once. You're welcome.

The REALLY good news, in case you missed my previous post, is I got tickets to see Rickman on Broadway!!! They went on sale at midnight (10 pm to me) and I was on the site at five minutes of. I got front row seats in the most expensive section we could afford, which unfortunately is the rear mezzanine, but still, front row!

My excitement over this development is only slightly (okay, pretty heavily actually) marred by my morning-after realization that the date I chose is the precise date of my period that month. I was so prepared three months ago that I got an app to plot my periods (don't roll your eyes at me -- they're not always the same length and I'm still not exactly clear when you're supposed to start counting the 28-day cycle, and anyway my last day isn't as well-defined as my first as they just sort of gradually taper off, and gentlemen, I apologize at this late juncture if all of this is TMI). Then in the heat of the moment I panicked that all the best tickets would get bought up quickly (you can imagine how Tery snorted at this) and the thought of my period just evaporated into thin air. Ironic, considering I'm actually on it right now.

So on my sister the nurse's advice, I'm seeing a gyno for medication options, because I'll be damned if I'm spending the day traipsing all over New York with a backpack full of maxipads and needing to find a bathroom every two hours. Dear Alan Rickman: I'm willing to chemically mess up my hormones for you. Call me!

~*~

Okay. Without further ado, the Parade of Homes 2011!

Sorry. A little more ado. Because I've been promising [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana for so long, the tale of standing up to MyFriendDeb: I've complained about this before, but as a refresher course, Deb has this peculiar habit of never being ready to go on time. I mean ever. And I mean I'll call to say I'm on my way right now (this is usually after calling 30 minutes previously to establish that I was starting to get ready). She lives ten minutes away. She KNOWS she lives ten minutes away. And without fail, I'll knock on the door and be greeted by the sight of her lagging woefully behind in preparations. Like, with no shoes on (big deal, you say. Well it wouldn't be if it didn't take her ten minutes to get shoes on, and don't ask me what in God's name she's doing that whole time to draw it out like that). Or still finding a coat. Or in this instance just starting in on what appeared to be lunch (and the woman eats like a bird. She can make a meal last 45 minutes).

I would estimate over the course of our 15-year friendship, I've spent a solid month standing at her front door watching her get ready (keep in mind we only hang out once a month or so). It's inconsiderate and selfish, and I doubt she's even aware she's doing it.

This time I had even deliberately stalled after making the "on my way right now" call, KNOWING this would happen. I sat in my car and fiddled with my phone's mp3 player a good ten minutes before leaving. I knew she would still make me wait, and I thought of what I would say if I had the balls.

Well, it turns out I DO have the balls, although I swear I hadn't made the conscious decision to actually use them. I took one look at her starting her meal when she knew I would be arriving at any second, and my mouth opened and I heard myself say, "Don't take this the wrong way, but my dream is to one day show up and have you actually be ready to go when I arrive."

She took it exactly the wrong way and I could feel her bristle. She mumbled some excuse that she had been ready, but she sat down and lost her momentum, which of course didn't explain why a loss of momentum would involve initiating a meal, but whatevs. Her excuse is she has no excuse, other than the fact she's lived alone for so long she's forgotten how (or perhaps never cared in the first place) to accommodate other people even minimally. This is Deb, and I doubt my statement will make a bit of difference next time, but at least I got an iota of anger off my chest.

I diffused the tense atmosphere with an observation that there was a single sneaker sitting on top of the carport outside, we laughed about it and the fight (and believe me, for us this was a fight) was forgotten.

So, NOW without further ado ::Parade of Homes 2011; Day One:: )

Coming soon: Days 2-5
grrgoyl: (kitten in clocktower)
I know no one else wants to hear this pseudo-complaint, but today is the first day Denver went above 95 degrees. For awhile there I was wondering if summer was ever going to come! But I was a good girl and went for my bike ride at 8 am, before the heat started pressing me down and changing my mind. I rode for 2 hours, and decided to head home when even my iPod earbuds felt too hot and heavy to wear.

I took another picture of my brook: I know I said it was "off limits" to bikes, but there's still some controversy (in my head) about that. Deb (who is a big hiker and knows all about state parks) says budget contraints meant they could only afford one sign, and so were hoping to keep half of the bikers off the trail at least. I'm not so sure -- other paths have just a tiny road marker on the side with a "bikes banned' symbol that I respect. I can't believe those cost so much they can't put one up if it's really that crucial.

So I reached a compromise and instead biked in on the big, wide gravel path that leads straight to the stream, ignoring the lovelier, smaller side paths that wend through the meadows.


Couldn't resist adding some digital saturation to improve on nature's beauty



This one, however, is completely untouched, from my drive to work Saturday. I like how the street lights look like demonic eyes


Sunday MyFriendDeb and I again hit the annual Chalk Art Festival downtown. Perhaps it was because it didn't rain so there was no sense of tragic urgency, or perhaps the artists weren't as good, but not nearly as many pieces really impressed us.


Cute! With a message



This was wild; you had to look at the reflection in the cylinder to see the undistorted result of this Daliesque piece



This was Deb's favorite. I thought it was just a phoenix until she pointed out the BP symbol in the upper left. I thought the message was that BP would rise from the ashes of this disaster, an uncharacteristically optimistic view for an artist. She just thought it was supposed to be an oil-covered bird.



My favorite was a bit less profound -- the DIA Mustang stands atop the "cash register" building (the only distinctive landmark of our skyline) and shoots planes out of the sky with his devil laser eyes. Cheeky and locally topical!



My first celebrity sighting in Denver! This is Kirk Montgomery, who not only has acted in several soap operas but who currently does the entertainment segments on our local news, which is the only thing I know him from



Can't have a chalk art festival without chalk



This pic might not look that special, but I actually took it in the process of lifting my phone up and hit a button accidentally. Check out that composition!



This by contrast is the result when I try to be artistic. Denver has a new bike rental service set up. Good for tourists, kind of pricey if you already have a bike here
grrgoyl: (Donnie frankLOL)
Soup:

In traffic on my way to the hospital my eye was caught by a GMC Jimmy with all of its doors off. Imagining itself to be a war-time Jeep? I'm not sure, but it looked pretty damn silly. I thought I'd give the driver the benefit of the doubt -- perhaps he'd lost them all in an accident. The way some SUV owners drive it wouldn't be impossible. Then he moved ahead of me and I saw he had one of those scrolling marquee signs over his license plate, reading "Show me your boobs!!" Oh, just an ass then. An ass mistaking Denver for Ft. Lauderdale.

~*~

Appetizer:

I realize how pathetic it sounds, but getting mail is the highlight of my day. This is why I compulsively order stuff online, so I have an almost constant flow of mail to look forward to.

So maybe you can appreciate why my world came crashing down Thursday when I realized the lock on our box was broken. The tab inside that latches it closed was missing the nut holding it on the bolt.

"No problem," I thought. "I'll just replace the nut." After fishing around I found one that seemed to fit, except wouldn't hand-tighten properly. "No problem," I thought. "I'll just get a ratchet wrench." It seemed to be going swimmingly until suddenly the whole damn bolt snapped right off in my hand. Okay, THAT was a problem.

This was at 7 pm, so no hope of calling anyone. First thing Friday morning I called our post office and described my situation (leaving out my attempted DIY). His first (and second) question was did I know who did it? "No one did it, the bolt was really old and just snapped," I answered. Choice B was "I suppose if anyone 'did it' I did." Choice C was "Even if it was a criminal act, how the hell should I know? It's not like I monitor the mailbox (most of the time)."

Once I convinced him there were no suspects he could bring in for questioning, he said only, "Okay, I'll send Maintenance out today." Oh, cool. That was easy.

Except of course it wasn't, because I'm still me and they're still a government agency. After neither of us did anything more about it all day, I called again at the end of my shift to find out the deal. I spoke to someone else, who told me I had to come in, fill out a lock change form and pay a $25 fee. Huh. I wish I had known this 8 hours earlier. I also felt slightly less nervous about covering up my vandalism since I would be paying for it.

I rushed in before they closed to jump through their hoops. Fortunately the clerk was really friendly and funny, or it could have gotten ugly. As it was, I couldn't resist asking why guy #1 couldn't be bothered to give me correct information. "I hate to say it, but he was probably a supervisor. They don't know what's going on." I snorted. "So how did he get to be supervisor?" He shrugged. "If you can't do the job, you get promoted?" We both had a chuckle at The Man and I promised I wasn't taking his name or anything.

Nice guy told me 2-3 days, might even be done Monday. That wasn't bad, even if I had to suffer a weekend of essentially two Sundays.

Except it wasn't Monday. Or Tuesday. Wasn't in fact until Wednesday. But let's not be too hasty, I didn't actually get the call until this morning Thursday. I wish nice guy hadn't raised my hopes falsely. But hey, what's the point of complaining? It's not like I can threaten to go somewhere else to get my mail delivered.

~*~

Entree:

About two weeks ago Ryan invited me to a downtown thing, "La Piazza," some kind of pavement chalk art (I at first thought it was trompe l'oeil, but no); well, I should say he forwarded me the ad, and when I asked about inviting MyFriendDeb, he copied me on the email asking John permission (when if you ask me it should've been John begging us to be included. Thank god they broke up for good before we had to deal with THAT bit of awkwardness).

It took place this past weekend, and Ryan at the last minute sprang the idea of bringing Lucy along (you remember my pal Lucy?) It didn't thrill me, but I couldn't really say no.

I worked all night and got up to meet Deb about 10:30ish. Ryan texted me because he was having a hard time getting going, they'd be a little late, sorry. Whatever, Ryan, Deb and I were on the train halfway there already.

It turned out to be full of awesome:


Just after seeing this we passed a guy wearing a Max t-shirt in the crowd. We asked if he planned that. He laughed nervously because he hadn't seen the piece yet (then 15 seconds later put it together)


::More over here -- slightly bigger cuz they're purty:: )

We sort of regretted lingering respectfully over every little piece in the beginning, especially when it became obvious that the threatening rainstorm was no longer a question of "if" but "when." As big fat drops started plunking down, two guys with a ladder and a camera were dashing madly through the crowd, desperately trying to capture the masterpieces before they were washed away. Heartbreaking, but Deb assured me that was the point of the medium: the transient nature of beauty. (Deb's favorite was under a makeshift canopy so hopefully most of her survived.)

Did I say rainstorm? It began as a torrent and turned into hail. Kerrrazy. The kind of cool thing was the rain only washed away the loose chalk dust, leaving a subdued but perfect glassy image underneath:


Sad washed-away Bear.


We joked that such an event would be impossible in a place like Seattle, unless the pieces were all postage-stamp sized. I said a 4" x 6" piece would be the height of ambition. She laughed as I mimed frantically finishing a Polaroid-sized square before the rain hit.

Ryan never actually showed, instead bothering me with a stream of increasingly anxious texts asking about the weather and whether there was any point in them leaving the house. There wasn't, and I don't know if it was because I didn't have to see Lucy or because of my new self-protective, do-what-you-want attitude I've had to adopt towards Ryan, but I really wasn't that concerned.

Same thing with working out yesterday; Ryan teased me with an email asking if I minded if he rejoined me. Of course I didn't. Then he texted me all apologetic that he'd had a bad day and couldn't make it. Oh, Ryan, Ryan...I don't know what's sadder, the fact that you still think I'm actually counting on you for anything or the fact that I have to refuse to do so to avoid having my heart broken time and time again.

~*~

Dessert:

We've had just about all the foolishness from Tracey's dog(s) that we're going to take. Out there 24/7 barking their heads off at EV.RY.THING (which I grant you isn't as annoying as when they bark at NOTHING). Our only recourse is to keep fining her, and her only recourse is to keep paying the fines (presumably) and still not do anything about the underlying problem.

So I turned to Amazon, in search of a bark-stopping device you can put on your own property and not rely on your neighbor doing the right thing. It emits a painful (?) whistle only the dog can hear whenever they bark. The hope is that they're smart enough to make the association and think twice before barking again. Which is not at all a given here -- if these dogs had any trace of intelligence, surely they could learn after five years of watching the same people march back and forth twice a day that we aren't intruders or a threat (unless they can read our minds and see the murderous BB gun fantasies therein). But better get Board approval first -- they'd rather have a vicious dog barking at all hours than a bleeding eyesore of a radio device (it looks like a tiny birdhouse).

In addition to the numerous and occasionally humorous horror stories in the reviews that make us think maybe we don't have it that bad, there's a fair share of people expressing concern over punishing the animal when a bad owner is to blame. Fuck that. Until someone invents something that lets me inflict pain on Tracey without being prosecuted (voodoo doll? ski mask and a baseball bat? Doesn't need to be high-tech), I'll happily take it out on her dog(s).

Yes, I "love animals," but some animals need to work a little harder to earn it. Dogs most of all.

~*~

Aperitif:

I saw S. Darko. Being such a huge fan of Donnie, how could I not? Despite the massive online fan protest (which I wasn't aware of. Hell, I'd probably watch it even if I was).

Immediately afterward I had a detailed, thoughtful review planned out, most of which I have now forgotten. I'll cut anyway in case of inadvertent spoilage, and because after-dinner cocktails should be optional.

::What do you think God's farts taste like?:: )

In conclusion, it's obvious this was a labor of love (the screenplay was written by a guy who calls himself "Donnie's #1 fan"). But in his attempt to stay unswervingly true to the laws of Donnie's universe, he became too fearful to bring anything new to the table. I don't think it deserves the vitriol being heaped upon it by the faithful -- it should be seen by Donnie fans perhaps to satisfy their curiosity. Anyone else will probably leave hopelessly confused and wondering what all the fuss with the first movie was about.
grrgoyl: (max elevator)
Another slow news week, but when has that stopped me?

First, some gym characters. As I've said earlier, I am refreshingly nonjudgmental at the gym, not least of all because I've hardly reached my goals either, despite going three times a week religiously. Like my good friend Dan Savage says, if I see a really overweight person there, my first thought really is "Aw, good for them." In fact my inspiration is a kind of heavy guy who plugs away on the ellipticals for 30+ minutes a day without ever pausing. After 10 minutes I'm seeing stars and wondering if it would really matter if I stopped early (however, this is up from 5 minutes back when I first joined, so that's something).

But these two people caught my attention on my last visit because they were so odd. First was a doughy woman I'd never seen before on the ellipticals. I normally wouldn't have given her any thought, except for the fact that she wore a Camelbakā„¢ hydration system, which is a bit of overkill when you're using one machine that in fact provides the user with a cupholder for a water bottle. And Camelbaksā„¢ ain't cheap either, so this was clearly someone who enjoyed shopping for their workout more than working out (not that I'm one to talk, having just bought my third iPod case, not to mention the $30 or $40 I blew at Goodwill on a whole new gym wardrobe).

But she was nothing next to the guy I watched during the rest of my workout (well, there aren't a lot of exciting things to look at to break up the monotony of an elliptical). He was built, obviously serious about weightlifting. Again, at first there was nothing unusual about him, until I noticed what he was doing. He was slowly collecting weights from other machines and putting them onto the machine I assumed he intended to use. He'd ponderously retrieve one weight, haul it to the machine, hoist it up onto the bar, then stand there looking around. He was also wearing earbuds so he'd occasionally mouth some words and wiggle his hips a bit (which looks really silly, I don't care how in shape you are). Then off for another weight, repeating the process tediously and laboriously.

After doing this for about 30% of my workout, to my surprise he suddenly marched across the gym to use one of the machines that I use all the time, the ones I think of as considerably more girly than the free weights. After three or four reps there, then it was back to his original machine, where he began removing all the weights, moving just as slowly and painfully (with frequent pauses to lip synch some more). He never actually used the machine he had loaded (and unloaded). It was crazy. Either he just liked creating the impression that he was going to lift all this weight, or his secret weapon to body building had less to do with actual weightlifting than weight stacking. I'm not sure. It was crazier than the guys who do like two reps (actually LIFTING the weight, mind you) and then spend fifteen minutes staring off into space.

He sort of reminded me of my coworker, Debbie at the warehouse, who was also fond of dancing and singing next to her desk when she was supposed to be working. Debbie thought she could do whatever the hell she wanted (i.e. only actually work about 10 minutes out of an 8-hour shift) and then cry discrimination if they did anything about it. She eventually discovered she was mistaken, after many long (long, long, frustrating) months of me secretly documenting her every move and reporting to HR. So I guess that's when my real career as a snitch began.

~*~

I've caught some comings and goings of Tracey on my spycam, most notably one video where she looks to be carrying an armful of something that resembles the suspicious aluminum tubes that started all this nonsense:


Breaking Update: Apparently those things that look like tent poles are just that; Tery discovered her selling a tent to an older couple in the parking lot this morning. However, this doesn't eliminate the possibility that she's just using Craigslist to offset her drug sales.


Tery wonders if she hasn't already spotted the camera -- where she used to tiptoe quietly up and down the stairs (which would make her the perfect neighbor if not for, you know, the meth lab), now she explodes out of her door and hurtles down the steps like Secretariat leaving the gate at the Preakness. I can't worry about it. Maybe if she's aware of it, it will be enough to keep her honest, or at least move her lab somewhere else, which is all I really want. I'd love to get her put away for good, but a close second would be making it difficult enough for her to conduct business three feet from our front door that she finds alternative accommodations.

The beauty of it is, even if she does find the camera, she can't do anything about it. Recording public areas is perfectly legal; she should know, she's had a camera trained on the parking lot practically since moving in. Plus I believe the only people who are bothered by being videotaped are people who have something to hide.

~*~

In case anyone is wondering why I haven't ranted about the California Supreme Court upholding Prop 8, it's because after my initial outraged reaction to what seemed like a completely nonsensical legal ruling, I searched long and hard on the intraweb until I found an article that explained it in simple enough terms. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, well that just proves what my good friend Dan Savage says -- that gay rights headlines are like a dog whistle, only noticeable to teh gays and the nutjob bigots.

Basically, the court voted that Prop 8 outlawing gay marriage in CA and its method of passage was perfectly legal; however, lacking any retroactive wording, so are the 18,000 gay marriages that were conducted between the Court legalizing them and the voter-approved amendment.

So currently gay marriage is legal for 18,000 couples in California and no one else. Just when you thought the state couldn't get any wackier.

It's not the resounding victory I had hoped for, but I understand it was the best the Court could do after being put between a rock and a hard place. I expect Prop 8 to be shot down completely after another vote, after the fence-sitters have some time to get accustomed to the idea and realize that the sea isn't boiling and it isn't raining blood, which is what the zealots want us to think.

No, what angers me is the attitude of MyFriendDeb, who is otherwise wholly on our side.

She had a rough childhood; not rough enough to make headlines or require therapy, but enough to sour her on the whole idea of marriage, for anyone. For me, it's only partly about legalities. The bigger principle is the fact that people think they have the right to decide how other people live. That my relationship with Tery, 17 years in July and still doing better than a lot of straight marriages, is less worthy of legal recognition.

And I guarantee that if it was Deb's rights on the line (or being subjected to popular vote), she'd agree.

But she'd rather spend her energy getting worked up about the REAL injustices of life: getting a tax refund check (Uncle Sam held her money unjustly for a whole year), the fact that her 6-button mouse doesn't work with Windows Vista, and potential employers who do mandatory drug testing (violation of privacy, despite her being even more straight edge than me). Yep, 10% of the population treated like second-class citizens, and these are the things that have her panties in a bunch.

~*~

Enough of all that unpleasantness. I snapped this photo of my Mitten who appeared to be engrossed in the program on TV:


She'll ruin her eyes sitting that close


My Otta May question was too easy (JeffyJeff answered me privately in an email. It was of course Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost). How about this? Name the scary movie Kitten is watching.
grrgoyl: (ferrets are love)
Christmas was a smashing success this year for us. In spite of the Great Blizzard, we had a really fantastic day, materialistically speaking. Here's a list of my booty, cut because I'm aware that lists aren't very interesting to read (though there is some commentary that's not to be missed):

::You know that we are living in a material world:: )

But of course only half the season is about receiving. I did more than my share of giving as well.

::The luscious Tery got:: )

Before you think me a capitalistic pig, keep in mind that last year we were so poor that Christmas was spent with some crusts of stale bread, a bottle of lukewarm water and a flickering candle stub, and we considered ourselves lucky.

But, holidays wouldn't be holidays without family. My older sister called from California and did her usual talking AT me for a solid hour. The problem is her stories blend so seamlessly into each other (by dint of never taking a breath, not because of skillful segues or anything) that there's no contributing anything of your own until the subject has long been abandoned. Not for lack of trying -- at one point I started to tell the tale of the bloodied hospital, but was interrupted so many times that Tery walked by and said exasperatedly, "It's YOUR story!!!!" as my end of the conversation was reduced to, "So I unlocked the front door and....uh-huh.....oh....right.....really?"

Yep, hectic weekends at the kennel, record-breaking snowfall and even Polo's death registered barely a blip on her radar screen. Not compared to story after story about her exciting life inventorying Home Depot. The good news is because of her, my sister Amy and I are hell-bent against turning into her and have become twice as thoughtful listeners to compensate. The other good news is her birthday is New Year's Day, so one phone call around this time of year covers two occasions. Am I a bad person to think this way?

MyFriendDeb came over for dinner, and we were later joined by Ryan and we all watched Little Miss Sunshine. The boys got their Christmas baths, so when Xandir emerged, he got his picture taken with everyone.

Deb and XandirBathtub BoyzRyan and Xandir
For being a shy boy, that Xandir does get around.


Happy New Year everyone!

Edit: Guess what? It's snowing again! Why does God hate Denver so?
grrgoyl: (mars who I am)
MyFriendDeb and I returned to the Parade of Homes this year. The parade this time was not held in a "community" like last year's Pradera, but rather it was hosted by "Reunion, CO." I put it in quotes because when I asked Tery where the hell Reunion was, she told me it was one of these new fake towns going up everywhere on the outskirts of Denver and Aurora.

Ahhhh, Reunion, CO (which is actually a township or something in Commerce City, CO, best known for its foul-smelling industrial smokestacks). What a welcoming name, with streets like "Heartland Drive" and "Unity Street" (I'm not making this up). All they need is for John Cougar Mellencamp to move in to complete the image. It doesn't get more American pie, good old family values than this (except that the town is built on what used to be farmland and is about 5 miles from Denver International Airport). It does look like Main Street, USA. Sadly, the houses on the parade this year were just about as nondescript.

So nondescript that, despite finally remembering a camera after taking the tour two years in a row, I ultimately took pictures mostly of the bizarre kooky things that rich folks are putting in their houses these days. ::won't you join me on my walking tour of the houses of people with more money than brains?:: )

Those wacky, wacky rich people.

Finally a picture post wouldn't be complete without some critters. I won't bother cutting these because they're tiny and cute and I want everyone to see them.

Blackjack!!!!
Blackjack, the Sheltie that could power a small city with his excess energy.


Mr. Beanzy
My Beanzy. Who could ever think he was nasty?


Xandir and anonymous boytoy
Finally, my gay, gay Xandir. While in the hospital overnight for an infection (he's fine now), he didn't have Gideon to lick so he settled for this Petco baby instead. We might have adopted the baby if Petco hadn't picked him up.
grrgoyl: (XenaKiss)
Last night finally, after hardships unnumbered, I got to see Brokeback Mountain. Trying to get there was unnecessarily complicated because a.) it opened in Denver in only one theater, b.) this is my last week of freedom before the insanity that is RGIS January begins Dec 26, c.) all my companions that wanted to go with me were being flaky and refusing to pin down an actual date. Ryan really wanted to go, but alternated between pleading poverty while maintaining the charade that there still might be a chance (three conversations later I FINALLY got him to come out and admit that he really, really had to save his money. Apparently for drinking with Tabby. Don't get me started). Tery was pretty ambivalent. *SIGH* I really have no problem going to the movies alone, I do it more often than not, but after inviting so many people it only seemed fair to try my best to include them.

Ultimately it was Deb and I yesterday afternoon at a matinee. "Don't worry," I assured her. "Who goes to the movies at 3:30 on a Monday?" Ha ha, you can see where this is going. When we got there at about 3:10 the line was already down the sidewalk to the next block. I loved seeing all those people there, though. I want this movie to do really well. I want the religious fascists to realize they damn well aren't the only ones living in this country, and that plenty of people can deal with the sight of a couple of guys kissing just fine. (The answer to "Who wants to see guys kissing, ew?" is "Oh, me, yes please.")

We got to the ticket counter at about 3:35, so opted for the 4:00 show instead. With plenty of time to spare, I took a picture of the screen:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

This is the historic Mayan theater, built in 1930, restored to its former glory in 1986, one of 3 movie arthouses in Denver. You can't tell from this crappy photo, but the wall sconces are little Aztec idols. It's got a lot of character.

For the most part, the theater was full of considerate people, foremost of which was the woman who sat in front of Deb but offered to scrunch down for her. This is my reasoning...people who wait in line for a half hour in the cold are there to SEE the movie, not chat through it, a refreshing change of pace. And I didn't even have a kicker, astounding considering the seats had all the leg room of coach class on a plane. Also being on the end we had to stand up a few times to let people in and out, and every time they were extremely apologetic, not that we minded at all.

(I suppose it goes without saying that there were many gay boys and girls there. Lots of flamers, a couple of stone butches. I wonder if anyone assumed Deb and I were a couple.)

Which isn't to say everyone had such impeccable manners. There was a woman directly across the aisle who opened up her cell phone about 30 minutes into the film, and kept it open so long I swear she was conducting an entire text message conversation with someone. People, it doesn't matter how hard you try to shield your phone - in a dark theater that light is like the fucking sun peeking in, okay? She kept opening it at regular 15-minute intervals until I was ready to thwack her on the head with it.

Which was still better than the guy a few rows behind her who had some kind of snack in a plastic bag and just COULD NOT LEAVE IT ALONE. He rustled that bag CONSTANTLY through the entire movie. This is a very quiet movie. No big action scenes, not even any music to speak of. And the theater, while boasting stunning architecture, is not equipped with stereo speakers, so all the sound was limited to the screen. The woman behind us commented on Mr. Bag loudly, which frankly was more disruptive than the bag itself. "What is that NOISE?" she asked no one in particular. Later, "Jesus Christ!" she exclaimed. Finally, she turned to the guy and asked, "Will you give the damn bag a rest???!!??" Unfortunately she did it at a moment when people were laughing (I missed what they were laughing at because of her outburst) and I doubt the guy even heard her. I was hoping she'd get up and tie that bag around his neck but she didn't. Is anyone working on developing movie food and containers that are a little quieter? Perhaps this is my calling in life?

Matters weren't helped by the fact that the Mayan sells beer as well. Not a good idea, in my opinion, which I feel was supported when at a particularly touching, still moment, someone dropped their bottle and it rolled noisily all the way down to the front of the theater, while some people twittered. Jesus Fucking Christ on a bicycle. I hate you. I hate you ALL.

But enough about that. ::The movie:: )

I wondered why Heath Ledger was nominated and not Jake, but after seeing the movie it's pretty obvious. His performance was nothing short of powerful. This nomination isn't just an obligatory sympathy vote for gays. I never thought the sight of simply a man buttoning up a shirt on a hanger could reduce me to sobbing tears, but he did it. God, I'm crying a little right now just remembering it. For the final 5 minutes of the movie there was plenty of telltale sniffling throughout the theater, and mercifully they didn't bring the house lights up right away, leaving people to stumble out in the pitch black. Deb and I sat there, dabbing at our faces with tissue (which she thoughtfully provided). The closing credits rolled to two songs, Willie Nelson doing "He Was a Friend of Mine" (you can imagine how perfectly the lyrics fit) and something by Rufus Wainwright, neither of which was doing anything to help us pull ourselves together. As we walked out of the theater, we noticed the line for the 7:00 show again stretched down the sidewalk, and around the building.

This is a 5 out of 5, undeniably. Go see it and deliver a one-two punch to the wingnuts.

ADDENDUM: Hateful people (who haven't seen the movie) whose kneejerk reaction is to think the hype and nominations are only because the movie is "gay" are every bit as bad as the alleged award-givers who they believe are handing out nominations as a kneejerk reaction to the movie being "gay." Does that make sense? I came across one bitter blogger who actually said something like, "Maybe King Kong should have been a gay love story so it would do even BETTER at the box office." Oh, shut up. You, sir, should have your blogging rights suspended until you can pull your foot out of your mouth. Or your head out of your ass.
grrgoyl: (Donnie)
It's August so it must be time for Denver's Parade of Homes again.

This year's Parade was held at a development called "Pradera." Its tagline, according to the official program, is "Live where you belong." Which sounds pretty unapologetically classist to me. Might as well call it "Pradera: Priced to keep out the undesirables."

Just like last year, we thought we'd be clever and start with the last house working backward. This also made more sense because the last house was at the very top of the hill, and who wouldn't rather work down rather than up a big hill? Unfortunately it seemed that a lot more people had the same idea this time, but what can you do? Apparently no one works on Monday mornings anymore.

The first one we saw was "Dolce Vita," a house that was the most remarkable because an accidental fire had burnt it to the ground just as it neared completion. The builders worked 24 hours a day for 79 days to rebuild it, finally finishing it a second time 15 minutes before the official judging began (or so the informational pamphlet claimed). For this reason we could forgive the fact that the basement wasn't finished and most of the doorknobs were a little loose. Being the result of such hard work and dedication it was indeed an architectural marvel, but didn't really make much of an impression on me. It swept most of the awards, but only in second place.

First place went to "Synthesis," a house devoted almost entirely to an Asian decor. My sister Nancy would have bought it the minute she stepped in the front door. It had lots of nice touches, like shoji screens on the windows and fountains and waterfalls almost everywhere you looked, not to mention a beautiful tear-shaped copper sink in one of the bathrooms. But the lines were a little too clean and the color themes a little too stark for MyFriendDeb's tastes. She put it best when she described it as "aggressively Asian." The only reason we could see that it was called "Synthesis" was because of a couple of art pieces in a bedroom that were aggressively African just to shake things up a bit, and glaringly out of place. The problem with the house, we decided, was that the decor was so uniformly and overwhelmingly Oriental that decorating or furnishing it with anything slightly more Occidental would be hopelessly at odds with the rest of the room. And our hodge-podge stuff, barely a step removed from a dorm room, simply wouldn't do at all.

Third place went to what I consider to be my dream house, "The Outlook." I'm kicking myself for forgetting my camera, but I LOVED this house. It was done in the Arts & Crafts style, which I adore. Mission furniture, oak, stained glass, that's what I'm talking about. It was one of the smaller homes at a paltry 6200 square feet, but that's what I liked about it. The rooms were cozy, warm and inviting, and didn't echo like the vast spaces of the fancier homes. They also felt like rooms you could live in, not just keep in suspended animation to show off for guests. The color theme was autumn leaves, all burnt reds, golds and browns, but brought to life with the generous use of primary-colored glass accents everywhere, like in the tile, or the risers of the staircase made of concrete embedded with glass blobs, or the artwork, or the stained glass windows. I really can't do it justice with words, WHY didn't I bring my camera?? The only pics I can find online are these: The wall outside the master bedroom and A sink, which doesn't give you much of an idea what the rest of the house looks like. Trust me, it was simply perfect. Tery liked it too, but in a sad commentary on how she views living spaces, her only remark was, "This is a house I feel like I can clean myself." At $1.8 million, we'll be making an offer on it about 4 lifetimes from now.

Not all the houses were impressive though, despite all having million-dollar-plus pricetags. The "Villa Della Viste" was decorated with horribly uncomfortable-looking French furniture and had an exceedingly silly name. The "La Chiripada," the only house that was sold when we looked at it, seemed nice enough but the floor plan was awkward and made very little sense. For instance, it boasted a detached building in the front yard that was set up as a free-standing office. Nice, except it had a clear view of the master bath and the lady of the house's spa tub, which itself also overlooked the driveway and front entrance of the house. Huh? There was a little girl's room directly off the kitchen, Tery explained for the stepchild that had to get up every morning and stoke the fire. The workout room was huge and consequently mostly empty, with a putting green and driving net stashed in the corner almost as an afterthought. Bleah. Behind the wet bar in the basement was a small room with an elaborate, wrought iron door with twisting vines around the bars. Can you guess what the room was? You don't have to, because it quite unnecessarily had a huge stylized sign above it declaring that this was the "Wine Cellar." It was downright insulting, I tell you. I joked about an improvised wheelchair ramp leading from the great room to the patio outside, a piece of plywood painted safety orange and thrown down, how it really didn't fit in at all with the granite in the kitchen. Hee! I went from room to room declaring my intense dislike of the house, and a passing old man agreed with me, "It's too dark!" he added. $2.2 mil for this, you must be mad! I would have viciously crossed it off my list even if it hadn't already (inexplicably) been sold.

But by far the absolute worst was unfortunately the last one, and therefore the one I remember the best (besides my darling "Outlook," that is). "The Aldwyn." You can tell from the name already that it's a real winner (I'm joking, you probably can't). The first thing you see when you enter this house is the formal dining room, a room which I consider practically useless in any house and hardly the first thing I want to come home to. But it gets worse. From there you entered the kitchen, a hideous work of design with 50's-esque tiles in a repeating retro (but not cool retro) ornament-shaped pattern, and "pre-distressed" farmhouse style cabinets. Ugh. Off to one side was the library with artwork depicting -- I kid you not -- the apostles exploring Christ's wounds. THAT has wide appeal. And nooks in the shelving with big, heavy devotional books propped open and illuminated with museum lamps. Creepy. Off the library was a bathroom with an embroidered poem, something about bad little boys and girls being attacked by "ghoulies" and ghosts and pray for Jesus to save you, children. Nice. Throughout the house were these huge, obtrusive wooden beams obviously designed to resemble a gothic cathedral. Fuuuuuuugly. Over the stairway was a normal-sized window that was set 10 feet up the wall. I wouldn't have a problem with this except for the shroud-of-Turin-colored drapes flanking it that cascaded all the way down and pooled onto the floor. I'm sure when they were drawn closed it created the illusion of a massive window behind them, but opened as they were they just looked retarded. And I tripped on them. The house also had a 4-foot high room accessed by a 4-foot high hallway, clearly meant to be a kid playroom, as well as another room with a kiddie stage and a treehouse built in. If you ask me, this is two rooms too many to devote to only children. I also didn't care for the little girl's room that featured a small writing desk turned diagonally, CEO-style. The only other thing I clearly remember about the house was the master bath. It had a large, centrally placed tub like all the others, except this one looked like a person-sized vegetable sink, perfectly rectangular except for a 5-degree slope on one side for luxurious reclining, because everyone knows that bathtubs with rounded, curvacious edges are nothing but an invitation to sin.

Gah. If I'm going to shell out $1.6 mil for a home, I'd like one that isn't so aggressively preachy. The whole house seemed to scream "FAMILY VALUES!" and "FAG, GO HOME!" (okay, that might have been a bit of paranoia on my part). I was gratified that the judges seemed to agree, as the house deservedly did not win a single award. Burn it to the ground, I say, and salt the earth. I hated it that much.

Some overall observations: I don't much care for the new trend of making all the bathrooms but the master these dark little rooms. And I don't understand the tendency to stick the commode into its own little hallway off the main room. Most of them feel like prisons, and like Tery said not even any room for a magazine rack or some reading material (don't laugh, if it weren't for this multitasking I wouldn't get any reading done at all these days).

Tery doesn't see any wisdom in putting what is obviously meant to be a teenager's room in the basement with its own door out to the back patio, for ease of sneaking in (or out) late at night. I agree.

Finally, while sitting on one of the four patios at the "Synthesis," I told Deb how hard it was for me to wrap my mind around the idea of people being able to afford these homes without having to work 24 hours a day. This is because I myself work two jobs just to be able to afford our measly $800-a-month mortgage. I just can't imagine buying a million dollar house and not worrying night and day about paying for it, no matter what my job was. You can take the girl out of the working class, but you can't take the working class out of the girl. Luckily, I don't foresee this being a problem in my lifetime.



My Crackwhore update really isn't terribly exciting. We STILL haven't heard the dogs since last Thurs night. It's as if they've evaporated into thin air. We don't know what she's doing to keep them quiet, or if they are even in the unit, but the silence is breathtaking. It makes me really, really, REALLY glad I didn't follow the Alcoholic down her path of vindictiveness. She did take the screen a step farther and cover the sides as well, taking the pressure off me of staying on top of the poop (so to speak). This also is an indescribable relief. Not to the Alcoholic of course, but she can at least drown her pain.

Finally, Kay. She couldn't wait to tell Tery a "really funny story" at work the other day. She's planning a trip to Africa to help build a hospital for the locals. During the final week they get to take a safari. Before you start admiring her selflessness, she told Tery about her father's pricelessly amusing reaction to the news, which was "Africa....isn't that country full of Negroes?" Oh, what a knee-slapper. Yes, Kay, racism is hi-LA-rious. Again, Tery didn't know what to say. If nothing else, I think it sheds some light on why Kay is as tactless as she is. Like father, like daughter. Like hell.
grrgoyl: (wall)
Every year it's the same old question: Where to go to see good fireworks in Denver? When we first moved here and lived in the foothills, we just went up behind our apartment complex where every city from Westminster to Aurora was laid out before us. One year while in Boulder we went to Folsom Field, a spectacular display, but watching it pressed up against 53,000 of my fellow humans was a bit more than I could bear. A few years ago we ended up in a park in the middle of Cherry Creek, our only companion in the audience a homeless guy sleeping under a bush.

This year MyFriendDeb's big scheme was to go downtown to watch the display at Coors Field. There were two glaring flaws with this plan, both of which we obviously ignored or there would be no story here: We had to go downtown, and the commencement of the celebration was heavily contingent on the conclusion of the baseball game. But MyFriendDeb was insistent, so off we went.

We boarded the Light Rail out in the 'burbs and it was already standing-room only. A nice-looking crowd, but for a tiny preponderance of American flag-themed sportswear (which to me is the fashion faux pas equivalent of wearing a band t-shirt to that band's concert. It's just kind of silly).

Then, the Insane Clown Posse got on, or more accurately, a group of teenage "Juggalos" (the name given to hardcore ICP fans, I learned); full facepaint, punked out hairdos, ICP t-shirts and bling, 4 guys and a girl. I don't know much about the Posse beyond appearing on the cover of over-the-top heavy metal magazines. While searching for images of them on the Web, the first thing that jumped out was that they are only two guys, and I'm not entirely convinced that two people can be considered a "posse." For all I know, Mr. and Mr. Clown might be fine musicians. As for the "Juggalos," far be it from me to condemn people for dressing like individuals (if you could call dressing exactly like your favorite pop icon being "individual") and expressing themselves so brazenly. However, I do take exception when personal expression crosses the line into obtrusive, obnoxious, quasi-violent behavior. These kids thought they were bad-asses, and they didn't care who knew it. It was physically impossible for any of them to utter a sentence without using "fuck" or "fucking" in it, preferably loud and often. We sat and stared at one with a shaved head except for a dozen little tiny pigtails sticking straight up from the top of it, his face obscured with two bandannas that formed a slit for his eyes. Tery murmured to me, "His parents must be so proud." One of the kids also carried a cardboard box with five 40-ounce bottles of beer, as if any of them came close to looking as if they were drinking age.

Whatever. We got off at Union Station where Deb immediately had to pee. This involved walking a considerable distance out of our way into the depths of the train station (my reasons for mentioning this will become apparent later). Then we walked forever back the other way to Confluence Park, our destination. There was already a sizable crowd gathered on the park's one hill, and we selected a spot with a perfect view of Coors. Deb had brought a tarp for us to sit on. I had worn a long-sleeved shirt, but Deb and Tery were in lightweight tees, and we all had shorts on. There was a blustering, steady wind blowing up the hill into our faces. The tarp proved to be excellent shelter from the breeze, however later it died down and was replaced by a more pervasive, insidious chill that the tarp was absolutely no match for. Intermittently, sprinklers would start up at inconvenient spots, forcing large sections of people to relocate quickly, and the tarp again redeemed itself. It was nice of the city of Denver to shut those off for the night -- judging by the throng, this couldn't have been the first year people thought of coming here for fireworks.

We arrived at about 7ish, so we had a good amount of time to huddle under our tarp, trying to ignore our feet and our butts falling asleep on the hard ground. It was just at dusk when I was looking around at all the people, chatting amicably with their neighbors and having a good time doing nothing. Little kids were playing together without bothering anyone, there were puppies and ice cream trucks and picnic baskets and wine. I was infused with a sense of warmth and community about humanity in general, and Denverites in particular. So I blame myself that just at that moment the Juggalos returned, plopping themselves down within a foot of us. Tery and I looked at each other, and I burst into hysterical laughter. Partly at the absurdity of it -- what were the odds? -- but mostly because I really wanted them to know I was laughing at them. The one nearest to me did look at me quizzically, but since I was looking at Tery he couldn't really prove anything.

They were even more annoying than they were on the train, which I wouldn't have thought possible. Since they were in the middle of the downward slope of the hill, they had a nice, big audience. They started in with their cussing, their posturing, their rough-housing. They were guzzling their 40s, screaming how they wanted to see "fuckin' mortars" instead of the smaller explosives being lit, talking very loudly about wanting to kill some guy or at least tying him to a bed and raping him, all with infants and toddlers sitting right there. Yeah, explain to me again why homosexuals are the biggest threat facing our society? These kids must be the product of those "family values" they want to protect so badly. No one else did a thing to shut them up. I prayed for a cop to come by. If I had a cellphone, I would probably have been sorely tempted to get one there myself. I really, honestly wondered what would be more offensive to the crowd, these goons or the sight of Tery and me holding hands (which we did often, as well as hugged a lot to try to warm up. Take THAT, Middle America!)

At one point another sprinkler went off, this one far down the hill, not really reaching anyone except for a light mist that blew off of it towards us. One of the Juggalos flew into a rage (or a pseudo-rage, as I'm sure it was only to demonstrate how bad-ass he truly was), charging down the hill at it and trying to kick it to make it stop. He only succeeded in drenching himself (and looking like a moron), and Tery said loud enough to be heard by them, "Your makeup will run." Again, the one closest turned to look at her but didn't say or do anything. Pussies.

Fortunately after the sun went down they got bored and wandered off and I forgot about them (temporarily. It was all saved up for this post, obviously). Lacking their brand of entertainment, we had nothing to look at except for the far-off displays that had already started. At Coors, however, the game continued stubbornly. It must have been doing it just to spite us, because Denver is normally a town that shuts down at 10 pm. At around 10:15 Invesco Field started theirs up. I suppose they were pretty, but because they were behind the hill and everyone stood up to turn around, we could only see glimpses through the gaps in the crowd. By now I was less concerned with seeing pretty lights in the sky than I was with fighting thousands and thousands of people to get back home on the train. We could see that Coors Field was packed, and there were easily a few hundred people just in Confluence Park alone.

Invesco's display ended and we stood there eyeing Coors balefully. 10:45 and STILL no sign of starting. Stupid baseball. At 10:50, Deb suggested we just call it a night, to my immense relief. We started hiking back to the Light Rail stop. We all had to pee, but Deb advised against using the park's restroom. We had to walk all the way back to the depths of the train station (remember?), walking right past a mostly empty train waiting to take off, which irritated me greatly until Deb finally explained that the facilities at the park didn't have any doors on the stalls, and people just came and went while you sat there, sounding for all the world like a favorite recurring nightmare of mine. Well, put THAT way... When we got into Union Station, apparently there was some problem with the men's room and they were all using the women's. I wouldn't have minded so much if not for the fact that the guys were leaving the seats up. When Deb tried to enter a stall a guy was leaving and not exactly zipped up all the way. Guys? If you're going to use the ladies' room, there are a few rules of decorum we try to follow in here. Pigs.

We got out and boarded the train, pleased as punch that we got seats this time. We kept craning our necks to see Coors, but STILL no action. We tiredly chatted a little as the train reached the next stop. I wasn't paying much attention, so it came as a big surprise when a tide of people burst through the doors, filling the aisle to overflowing in seconds. This was Invesco's stop. I looked out the window and the sidewalk as far as the eye could see was just a mass of churning humanity, all pushing desperately towards the train doors. I watched as an RTD security guard pulled people off the train because you aren't allowed to stand in the stairwell. Deb said she imagined it looked like the view from the last helicopter leaving Saigon.

The ride back was uneventful, if not a little sweaty from all those people. I was mildly disappointed that we didn't see the Juggalos one last time. After all that, we never even got to see what we came for. I think next year I am going to insist on a blanket, a more secluded vantage point, and a lot fewer gangsta rappaz.
grrgoyl: (trent)
I'll never forget the first play I went to see. I couldn't have been more than 8 or 9 when my mother took me to the local community theater's production of Hamlet. Small troupe, small stage, small audience, enormous impression on my young mind. I was absolutely entranced, and begged her to bring me back to every subsequent show left in the run (which was about three more). It was also my first introduction to Shakespeare, and even at that tender age I don't remember having any trouble understanding the play (but having taught myself to read by the age of 4, this is hardly surprising). To this day it remains my favorite (besides Romeo & Juliet).

The only other play I can remember seeing before the age of 10 is Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and again wanting to go back (this time only once more). I was bitten by the theater bug, though not hard enough to ever want to be an actor. In high school I attended Godspell, then worked backstage for Fiddler on the Roof and our church's yearly Passion Play. I was lucky enough to have a best friend whose father's employer offered tickets to Cats, once at the Winter Garden and a second time in Hartford. The third year we got to see Les Miserables. Then it was on to college and a world of theatergoing opportunities (love that student discount!)...Sweeney Todd, Equus and best of all, Jesus Christ Superstar (all amazing beyond words). Then I met Tery and saw her sister perform in Runaways in Boston. I saw Mump and Smoot in "Ferno", Canada's premier "horror clowns," at the Yale Repertory Theatre (still have the program). Since moving to Denver, we've seen Stomp!, Blast! (Stomp-like, except with drums and bugles), Rent and best of all, The Lion King (which comes with its own enormous ticket-buying saga, too lengthy to describe here).

I don't know why live theater is so enthralling to me. Perhaps it's the artifice, the clever, low-budget designs used to simulate a real environment. Perhaps it's the naked vulnerability of the actors, up there with no safety nets, no camera tricks or editing rooms to fine-tune their performance, baring their souls night after night. Perhaps it's the immediacy and the in-the-moment feeling of a live show. Probably it's just a combination of all of these. But each and every performance I have seen has left an indelible mark on me, like a tattoo on my brain. While the rest of my life blurs by, all but forgotten, these magical nights remain like bright little archipelagos in my memory.

I only mention all this because last night I was invited by MyFriendDeb to see Big River, the story of Huck Finn told with a half deaf/half hearing cast. She won the tickets from a radio station, so all the better. The play itself was excellent, with inventive set designs and a unique collaberation between the hearing and deaf actors....for example, Huck's "Pap" was played by two actors, dressed identically, although the deaf one was noticeably skinnier than the other. With no explanation given or necessary, both actors shadowed each other, sometimes with comic and sometimes with creepy effect. Huck himself was deaf but his voice was provided by Mark Twain, who never left the stage. Deb was impressed that he could speak and sing with such emotion while appearing to stand detached and still. I was more impressed by a different speaking actor who belted out his deaf counterpart's lines while stretched out on the floor in front of him. The big ensemble numbers looked very cool with 10 people signing the words simultaneously, especially at the end when the music cut out but they kept "singing" silently.

Apart from the play itself, the journey downtown was equally filled with highlights. I agreed to drive to the train stop and backed out of the parking spot at Deb's complex...straight into the trash enclosure behind me, with a bang so loud I swore my bumper had to be totally crumpled. I reluctantly got out to assess the damage, but not so much as a scratch. Have I mentioned how much I love my Honda? At the train stop as we waited and chitchatted, a scruffy, shifty-looking fellow wandered around us in a circle with his bike. I was talking about getting roped into donating to the policemen's widow fund by phone, hopefully at least in exchange for a sticker to put on my car. I was sharing my ex's theory that when stopped by the police, that sticker might buy you a little leniency.

"Nope, nope," he loudly cut me off. "They don't give a damn about them stickers. I had one and they still threw me in jail." Well, I was thinking more along the lines of a minor speeding infraction. I don't imagine they make much of a difference in the case of say, vehicular manslaughter or outstanding arrest warrants. I don't mean to judge someone before knowing them, but I'm sure there's a very good reason he rides a bike now. Thank goodness after imparting this bit of wisdom about dealing with The Man he got bored and returned to shaking his fist at every train that whistled by marked "Out of Service," as if the RTD was deliberately mocking him.

We got into the city without further incident and into the theater. I was feeling a little underdressed in my semi-dressy black short-sleeved shirt and jeans, until a guy walked down the aisle wearing a greasy trucker's cap, faded black Harley t-shirt and jeans. After seeing two (much better-dressed) guys together that left an obvious trail of gayness in their wake, Deb started to tell me about a new guy at work. In her words, "He's really funny and interesting, except he's gay." What she meant was, "I might find him attractive if not for the fact that he's gay," but I chose to interpret it as slightly more derogatory. I wryly thanked her for tolerating me all these years and we both had a good laugh. As the show's start time began to draw closer, we realized that something was going to happen that never would have if we had paid for our tickets: the rest of our row AND the entire row in front of us was completely empty. Which sort of made up for the fact that the seats weren't really that terrific for being won in a radio contest. And, wonder of wonders, we even had people behind us who somehow fought the urge to kick our chairs the entire time. Is it possible that civilized, courteous folk DO still exist?

Our seats were perfectly positioned for intermission, however...close enough to the back of the auditorium to get to the restroom before the lines started forming. The ladies' room was obviously carefully engineered to discourage lingering. Ample seating (for a change) but only three mirrors for cosmetic touch-ups (more importantly nowhere near the sinks), and the motion-activated sinks actually cranked the heat up automatically to uncomfortable temperatures if you tried to scrub too long. The message was clear: get in and get out, ladies. Deb and I were both quite thirsty after the first act, so agreed to split an extortionately-priced bottle of water from the bar. Call me crazy, but when I pay $3 for plain old Aquafina, I expect it to at least be cooler than room temperature. Deb quipped, "So where do we go to buy the ice?"

The train ride home was equally uneventful, except Deb was facing two women speaking in sign language and confessed she felt like she was eavesdropping, even though she can't read sign language. According to our program, Wicked is coming in Oct, and Little Shop of Horrors after that. As Deb said, "Good. That gives me plenty of time to sell all my stuff to buy a ticket." *sigh*
grrgoyl: (buffycorpse)
On Sunday Tery and I went with OurFriendDeb to Denver's Parade of Homes. I figure it will be challenging to produce an entertaining journal entry about walking through houses, but I plan to mock the fabulously wealthy at the same time (not out of envy, mind you. What on earth would I do with money beyond reckoning? I'd much rather stay where I am, keepin' it real for my homies.)

The Parade of Homes is a chance for poor shlubs like me, up to our eyeballs in debt, to tour million-dollar homes without involving security personnel of any type. Last year was my first experience of this phenomenon, and just like I can't get enough of watching HGTV's myriad of decorating shows and getting a peek into other people's houses, it is oddly satisfying and entertaining to walk through homes that I could probably never afford even if I did give up such luxuries as food and heat in the winter for my entire life (even retroactively). These houses aren't filthy rich like the Newport mansions, just stinking rich, like families with incomes of $100,000 or more might live in. I feel more than a little bad for the people standing in each room waiting to sell their wares (as the homes are a showcase for builders), forced to give their spiel to our ragtag little group, knowing damn well that we can't even afford the property taxes on such a spread. Deb had the idea that people like us should get a big red stamp on our foreheads, like a big "L" for "looking," or perhaps "loser," so they can save their breath.

We went on Sunday for a reason. Last year Deb and I went on a weekday and there were about 20 other people also taking the tour, and our biggest annoyance was one exceptionally loud, pushy woman that seemed to turn up everywhere we went. This year to accomodate Tery's schedule it had to be on the weekend, so we figured first thing Sunday morning perhaps all the churchgoing people would be going to church and thin the herd. Apparently there are a lot more godless sinners in Colorado than we thought, because by the time we were half done with the first house there was a crowd of what seemed like 100 people there, none of whom had any regard whatsoever for the concept of personal space. My stress level goes through the roof in situations like this; I intensely dislike being touched by strangers, even an accidental brushing by, and being stuck elbow-to-elbow with no escape route is just intolerable to me.

So I had the brilliant idea of hiking down to the last house on the tour and working our way backwards. Thankfully (and not surprisingly) no one else caught on to this and we were relatively unmolested for about three houses. Inevitably we caught up with the throng in the second house, which naturally was also the smallest, a paltry 4400 square feet. I was dealing until I walked past a woman who somehow managed to full-on grab my right breast as she passed. I'm sure it was accidental, but I prefer to at least be on a first-name basis before someone gets to second base with me. I told Tery and Deb about it in the car and Tery jokingly pretended to reach for my chest and exclaim, "I love the textures in this house!" But enough about my sexcapades....onto the houses.

There were only five homes this year (last year there were eight), and they all had their nice little features, but one stood out heads above the rest. The judges agreed too, as it won 11 of the 12 awards presented. It was the "Eureka!" house, designed with a Colorado mining/motorcycle theme in mind. It's called the "mining house," but the first thing we saw as we entered the front courtyard was a garage just for your motorcycle (apart from the standard 3-car set apart from this). Motorcycle decor runs throughout the house, including an awesome ceiling fan with translucent blades affixed to a chrome motorcycle headlamp in the gym. The courtyard fountain was water running down a rusty motorcycle gear chain and the railing of the main staircase inside was a thick rope cable. But these weren't the award-winning features, not by a long shot. When you entered the front door, the first thing you saw was a gorgeous, outdoor living room looking straight out to the mountains, unimpeded by windows or walls of any kind. There was a huge, telescoping glass wall that could be closed in the winter obviously. In the middle of this was a copper bowl (LOL I typed "bowel" first) fountain that extended through the floor to the downstairs patio. There was a similar, smaller fountain that the main staircase wrapped around. In addition to the main spiral staircase were two others, a hidden back stair that came out in the wine cellar behind the bar, as well as one between the his/hers (or hers/hers) upstairs/downstairs walk-in closets. There was a room called the "jewelry box" that was lined 100% with red velvet so you felt like you were inside a jewelry box. Everything else was similarly expansive and gorgeous, with a greatroom incorporating the open kitchen and living room area done tastefully in all oranges and reds (mining theme), a 2-floor master bedroom with a small loft sitting area with a perfect view of the mountains, and a billiard room with built-in loveseat, cafe tables and 3 flat-screen plasma TVs on one wall (so you never have to miss a single sports event, ever). The gym wasn't as nice as the one in the second house with its attached sauna and walking lap closet (I kid you not! Looks like a closet, but it's just a corridor that goes in a circle to walk or run laps!) but still beats my Bowflex that has to be packed up out of the way after every use.

But enough of the descriptions. I feel the urge to mock. Mostly it is just impossible to imagine the lifestyle required to live in a place like this. First and foremost, with over 6,000 square feet (compared to our barely 1,000 we have now), we could conceivably go days or weeks without ever seeing one of our ferrets, or even each other. Secondly, I can't imagine when I would find the time to enjoy my "sky lounge" in my bedroom suite, just sitting and admiring the countryside, without getting restless pretty quickly. Rich people are busy too, aren't they? Third, I see absolutely no use whatsoever for a full bathroom just for the den. There I am, working away at my desk, when suddenly I am overcome with such an urgent need to shower that I can't even make it to the main bathroom to do it (which granted in this house is about a mile and a half away). I mean, come on. A common scoffing point in these houses is the placement of bathrooms, full, 3/4 or half. Rich folk must have small bladders indeed to want to make sure they never have to walk more than 10 feet to get to a bathroom. The wine cellar was nice, but the racks easily held close to 200 bottles. I can't picture ever owning 200 bottles of wine, but I am sure Tery could. Naturally the house has a sound system with speakers in every room and out on the patio. Unfortunately, the console for it is down in the basement. You'd have to be pretty committed to your CD choices before leaving them so far behind (but naturally I would have a 100-disc player in that case).

I realize most of my jokes about the impracticality of the house would be moot if I could actually afford to buy it. I can't help picturing where I would do my transcription work if I lived there, but of course I wouldn't be working that $7-an-hour job at all. Maintaining such a place is a daunting task, until remembering that if I lived there I would no doubt have some kind of hired help. Where would I put the computer in such a huge house? Easy, silly, I could afford 10 laptops and just scatter them about the house, perhaps one in every bathroom. How would you pay to heat such a place? I would be like my father, obsessively closing off rooms and only using a third of the living space. The lifestyle I have right now would be extremely difficult to work into such a structure, so I suppose it is fitting that the lifestyle I have now all but ensures I will never have to worry about that particular problem. There just seems to be such an enormous, gaping chasm separating me from that world, I might as well be living on a different planet.

Of course the downside of this little adventure is having to leave and return to our lower-middle-class existence. Don't get me wrong, our condo suits us just fine and we love it the rest of the year. It is the perfect size for two people (and two ferrets...and two cats...and a bird now) and has lots of nice features that give it character while being comfortable. We don't need walkie-talkies to communicate. It is virtually impossible to get lost in. True, I do have to go all the way downstairs to pee, but we only have one bathroom to clean. But that's how we live, chillin' and keepin' it real.....

(My apologies to anyone who does live in a million-dollar home reading this who might be offended. But a substantial monetary donation would go a long way towards changing my attitude, I'm sure....)

-=Lainey=-

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