Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sing Out Loud

I love this kid. Why can't we all sing with such passion and innocence?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why Worry

Over the past few days my friend has managed to sit up and actually get her throat to make out words and sounds. Her left side is still quite weak, but through rehab it looks as if she's going to have good mobility. I am grateful.

Why worry?
There should be laughter after pain,
There should be sunshine after rain,
These things have always been the same.
So why worry now?

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Am Sad

The sadness of the past three days has been a tsunami. I am drowning in this indescribable sadness. Catching my breath only makes me grow crazier. I just want to rip all the breathing and feeding tubes out of her body and hug her. I want to take her to get her hair and nails done and make her look like her old pretty self. I want to hear her voice and her laugh. I want my pain to stop. I want to stop crying.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Accident

I have been in a state of shock for the past two days. One of my closest friends in the world was in a major car accident on Friday. I got a call from her secretary asking me to come to her office and help out. Of course. But I couldn't wait to get out of that office and run to the hospital.

11 hours in surgery. I was crying a lot of that time. I get antsy when I have to sit on a plane for 11 hours, but now my dear friend was fighting for her life. When the surgeon came out, he calmly explained. How her brain had been pushed all the way down to her neck. How her neck was broken. In two places. How the metal plates in her neck would stay with her for the rest of her life. The dreaded question. Was she paralyzed? He wouldn't know until the next morning.

I came home and cried. I cried for so many reasons. I cried because of all the pain she must have been in. I cried because she just had a baby. I cried because I could walk. Because I had a neck that was working. I cried because I felt afraid. I just wanted to crawl into a protective hole and never have to come out and face the world again.

I went to see her again tonight. I had to look for the person in the bed, hidden and covered by all the tubes coming out of her. But the nurse said she had movement in her arms and legs. But that the right side wasn't responding as well as they would like. She couldn't speak. I called out my name. She barely opened one eye. I had to turn away.

My beautiful friend. She has a baby and a husband who need her. If I could trade places with her, I would. Life is so sad sometimes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What a Day for Yuna and Michelle!



Straight off the bat, two of my favorite sporting figures won today. Yuna Kim, the figure skater, won Skate America with a world-record performance in the short program and then a disastrous (for her) skate in the long. But the combined score was still 13 points greater than the second place finisher. And Michelle Wie finally won her first title on the LPGA Tour through all the noise and criticism of her detractors. How do I tie these two together?

Yuna has been on top of the world for quite some time now, certainly since last March when she won the World Championships for the first time. Since then, the media and her fans have placed a 100,000-pound paperweight on her shoulders called "PRESSURE". Today she succumbed to it. But still she smiled for the cameras during the interview. Good for her. As I have learned all too well in the past six years, you learn so much more from your mistakes than you do from your triumphs. Victory is great but it doesn't force you to reflect. To look at yourself in the mirror and ask what it takes to make yourself stronger and happier.


Michelle, after having won a USGA title at the age of 13, would find herself winless for six years. Until today. What a monkey she gets to hurl off her shoulders. So many people derided her as a fluke, a fake and even a floozy. (People say the stupidest things on the message boards.) But still she trudged on, and now, at the ripe old age of 19, she has a win on the most competitive tour for women in the world. And she beat the top-30 players on the money list doing so. Tuning everyone else out. Ignoring the crap. About how you ruined your life and are not worthy of love. And that's what Yuna needs to do today--let this loss go and not let it block her energy. And just like Michelle, she'll find herself in a better place tomorrow.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

2nd UGH! Posting In As Many Days

OK, so let me just sound like a middle school girl for a few days here. Today I was supposed to meet up with someone at 2, someone I met online. I waited until 2:15 without so much as a text message informing me that the date was canceled. I duly left.

At 5:30, I get a text message saying "It's not an excuse, but I just slept all day." I canceled with two other people to meet this person, also HIV+. And I thought all HIV+ people were punctual, courteous, brilliant and handsome. Guess not!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Falling in Love? UGH

I can't believe I am this infatuated over a guy I met exactly twice. He doesn't even live in New York City and he has been happily married for seven years, but now I can't get him out of my head and it is bothering me. Crap. I am still communicating with him, but have no intention of telling him how I feel. That just wouldn't be right. The way I'm feeling is not right.

In brighter news, the US will begin to admit HIV+ individuals into the country starting next year. It's hard to believe that HIV+ individuals were ever excluded from entering this country yearning for oppressed people, but it is true. Thank God America will no longer be part of a club of nations, Armenia, Brunei, Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Sudan, that excludes HIV+ people from crossing into their borders.

Even if Korea were to change their laws, I don't think I would ever go back again. I think that part of my life is now buried forever.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Give Her the Gold Medal Already

The Olympic figure skating season started this weekend at the Grand Prix event in Paris. Yu-na skated two nearly flawless programs. The short program had her skating as a Bond girl; in the long program, courtesy of Gershwin, she was the young lady seducing and being seduced on a night out on the town. Yu-na won both the short and the long, setting a new world record for both long program and overall score. Just magnificent!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Sermon on Sunday

"What you have doesn't change who you are. Who you are changes what you have."

Words of wisdom from my minister today. She's awesome!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Help Cheronda, Help Help Cheronda....

Cheronda Guyton, former senior vice president for foreclosed real estate at Wells Fargo, who was recently fired for moving herself and her family into one of those foreclosed properties in Malibu, CA (asking price: $12 million) for several months (for free!) this past summer, this song's (with apologies to the Beach Boys) for you:

Help Cheronda! Help, help Cheronda!
Help Cheronda! Help, help Cheronda!
Help Cheronda! Help, help Cheronda!
Help Che-ron-da, yeah! Get her out of our hearts!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do

I cannot imagine what Caster Semenya is going through right now. This is the South African woman who has been tearing up international track races in recent weeks. Medical tests confirm that she has an intersex condition. How can something so profoundly personal have been handled in such an insensitive manner by governing track authorities and the international media? Most people would go ape shit if you went through their laptop. This incident was an invasion of the most private parts of a person and yet countless people are trampling through her body like a pack of rabid dogs, on the Internet so that everyone in the world knows, for crying out loud. My heart aches for her.

I remember the time I told a "friend" about my HIV status when I had first found out. He was the only one who knew. A few weeks later, an acquaintance walked up to me in a club and asked if I was really HIV+. I felt so vulnerable and violated. I hate what happened to me that night because a part of me would never trust anyone in the world ever again.

Whatever happens to Caster Semenya, I hope she can find it in herself to overcome. And forgive.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Goodbye S

My friend S died last week of a brain tumor. He was 29. I feel so hollow. Life is so random. Last week I marveled at how the smallest things could make my day: a 3 year-old child who decided to bestow a smile on me; a Starbucks barista who refilled my coffee for free; someone who steadied my balance as the subway came to a screeching halt. And today, I hear the news that S is gone.

S ate more than anyone else I knew, relishing every last bite. He could devour four packages of ramen noodles in one sitting. The last time I saw him at the hospital, he gobbled down the hospital food for crying out loud. S was an avid snowboarder and skiier. He loved going to baseball games. When he laughed, he laughed out loud and silly.

If I had known I would never see him again, I would have asked him for his snowboard.

I don't know how to snowboard.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Summer of Writing

Screenwriting, I'm discovering, is like going into a maze and then trying to find your way out. There are lots of dead ends, but the exercise is never boring. Having finished three stories already, I am at this point where even the writer's block feels good because I know I will find the way out. That is a terrific feeling. At any rate, this is the first story I've written where I've had to do a lot of first impression research. I recommend any of the following books and movies that have thus far accompanied me on my journey of vampires:

1. Blood, An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce by Douglas Starr
-----everything you wanted to know about blood, eminently readable

2. Police Procedure & Investigation by Lee Lofland
-----truly fascinating read that will make CSI and Law & Order that much more comprehensible

3. Twilight (yes, Twilight!) by Stephenie Meyer
-----better than the movie, though I did like the soundtrack

4. China, Its History and Culture by W. Scott Morton and Charlton M. Lewis
-----the vampires are Asian

5. Thirst, directed by Chan-wook Park
-----a vampire story that explored vampirism, love and religion (much campier than I thought it would be)

6. Buffy
-----I was never a fan when it aired, but a friend lent me the DVDs and I have to say I can see why Sarah Michelle Gellar was a star in her time

I hope everyone is having a great summer!

Monday, July 27, 2009

One Sickness is Better than No Sickness

I just finished reading Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh. What an awesome little book it is. Where it is written that it is better to have one sickness than no sickness. To have one sickness means to be aware of it and to take care of yourself accordingly; to have no sickness entails the risk of not taking care of your body at all. Being HIV+ has certainly forced me to take a lot better care of myself than I did before I knew. There's a reason to be thankful for everything--even sickness--in life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My 4th Story

Last week I saw Blood: The Last Vampire, mostly because I wanted to take in Jeon Ji-Hyun, aka Gianna in the States. I had seen the trailers quite by chance and was stunned to hear her speaking comprehensible English. This was a girl I had once interpreted for when some Singaporean reporters came to Korea to interview Korean actors and actresses. Her command of English back then left something to be desired, so I was pleasantly surprised to see her really carry the movie. (Roger Ebert, in his review, said that he would watch anything again that featured Gianna.) Unfortunately, the movie itself was far from brilliant. And that got me to thinking, why not write a better vampire story? Right after dinner tonight, I headed to Starbucks and fleshed out the story. After two hours, there it was, on two pages of lined 8.5 x 11 paper--a tragic tale of love, redemption and vampires! I never would have thought that I had this story within me, and am really looking forward to the challenge.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Heart Project Runway Korea

I miss Korea. There's just no denying it, and a show like Project Runway Korea makes me wish even more that I could still be there. I never got to see the waterway that now runs through Seoul. I never got to take a ride on Korea's high speed train, either. But a show like this makes me so proud to see just how far Korea has come since I first stepped foot in the country in the 1970s.

I am a huge fan of the American original. I thought the Canadian version hosted by Iman was, dare I say it, a bit more fabulous, thanks in no small part to what Iman brought to the show. But I have to say I was not disappointed by the Korean version. Hosted by Lee So-ra, one of Korea's premier superdmodels (I think she placed second in Elite's Look of the Year in Korea) (who I also saw trashed out of her mind at a bar in Itaewon one night with singers Uhm Jung Hwa and Koo Bon Seung), PRK showcased some really talented people. Many of the challenges were taken from the American show, but one of my favorites was when the designers had to create a look inspired by a world famous designer. I was so surprised to hear these young Koreans (a few of whom had never traveled abroad) speaking so intelligently and knowledgably about designers like Rei Kawakubo and Dries van Noten and Alexander McQueen.

Unlike the American version, there was very little cattiness. Overall, the atmosphere in the workroom was congenial and cooperative. In other words, the best of what makes Koreans Korean. I suspect that a few of the male designers were gay (not to mention their Tim Gunn-host) but that was never really touched upon. In this show, the focus was clearly on the clothes, not on personal dramas.

For all you die-hard Project Runway fans, here's the link if you want to download some, or all, of the series. It's only 10 episodes, and they're not subtitled in English, but you get a great glimpse into the Korean fashion aesthetic.

http://aja-aja.com/regular/project-runway-korea

Friday, May 22, 2009

10 Pics from Peru

The light playing tricks at Sacsayhuayman, Incan military training grounds near Cusco


From horseback, a view of dogs running wild above the hills of Cusco


Somewhere on Day 2's killer, 8-hour hike to Machu Picchu


Trekking through 3 different ecosystems on Day 2 of the hike


Another glorious view of Peru on Day 2


Putting faith in one of several rickety bridges on Day 2


On Day 3, climbing one of the four imposing ladders, on the way to the top of Mt. Putucusi


At last, on Day 4, a view of the llamas grazing the terraces of Machu Picchu


On the grounds of Machu Picchu


An aerial view of Machu Picchu from Wayna Picchu, a nearby mountain

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Peru

I am back in Cusco tonight after a four day trip to Machu Picchu. In a way I feel I have returned to my hometown. And for that reason I feel sadness at having to leave the city tomorrow to head back to New York. Of all the countries I have visited in this world, I can safely say none match Peru in terms of physical beauty. I will post some of these pics very soon. What I won´t be able to post is the real kindness I received, the genuine affection that I have come to develop for some of the locals. I will truly miss the people at Hotel Ninos. They made me feel like family my entire stay. But there were others, too. Sebastien, who led me on horseback above the hills of Cusco. And the Korean owners of the only Korean restaurant in Cusco. And Victor who helped plan my trip to Machu Picchu. And then there were the people who accompanied me on my journey. 2 Danes, 2 Canadians, 4 Israelis and 1 Brit. Who introduced me to Stieg Larsson and discussed Peter Hoeg with me. Who made me feel like I was much younger than my 40 years. Who taught me that life in Israel is difficult but that hope must prevail. Who hiked every single treacherous trail with me. Who made me laugh so much of the way, made me feel connected to the world. I wish I could bring all these people back to New York.

I am so thankful that I was able to make this trip in this lifetime. The memories of the mountains, of the clouds, of the hot springs where people from all over the world gathered, I will guard these in my heart forever.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Who knew there would be Internet cafes all over Cusco?

And that they would be so cheap? For a dollar you get an hour and a half worth of time! OK, since I am not planning on spending an hour and a half here, I´ll just give some general comments.

1. I am singularly impressed by the gentleness of the locals here. On top of that they look you straight in the eye and smile when you say hola.
2. I am staying in a hotel called Ninos Hotel. You can find it at http://www.ninoshotel.com/. Please check it out if you can. I am so humbled by how much one person can accomplish.
3. Yesterday I hiked to a place called Sacsayhuyman, pictured above. You can read about it at Wikipedia, but you had to be there to experience the vibe it gave off. It was truly electric.
4. Today I went horseback riding above the town of Cusco. I will post those pics when I get back. To see the mountains under such a clear blue sky, dogs and horses running about, to feel the sun beating down, it was all so peaceful. But I also had a personable, adorable 19 year old guide. Between my Spanish and his English, we laughed for three hours. I hope I am not walking like a cowboy tomorrow.
5. Tomorrow I am starting a four day biking and hiking trip to Machu Picchu which will mark the end of my time in Peru. I am planning on coming back again so if anyone wants to join me next time, you´ll have someone as a guide.

I hope everyone is doing well.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Day at the Movies

Well, tomorrow is the big day. I didn't know there was going to be so much work in planning a trekking trip to Peru, but now that it's done I can't wait to get on the plane. And speaking of trekking, I went to see the new Star Trek picture today, desperate to catch it before I left. I don't really see a need to review it because either you already saw it on Friday or aren't planning to see it at all. I loved it! It was everything I hoped it would be and more, on account of all the unexpected humor. A lot of people in the audience were clearly loving it as much as I was, clapping when Leonard Nimoy appeared on screen (how time has flown) and again when the credits started rolling.

During the previews was this little trailer for Pixar's latest, Up!, that stars an adorable sounding, chubby Asian kid!!! How awesome is that. It seems like Pixar really did their homework on this one, tapping into the Asian stereotype of the kid with the book smarts who doesn't always know how to apply his knowledge to the real world. I can't wait to see myself in this movie!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

In My Life

Everyone approaches middle age in a different way. My old boss went out and bought a motorcycle (there really are people who do this) and a Maserati for good measure (not many people can really do this.) Given my HIV, I am fairly certain that I have already passed middle age. That I seem to think a lot about Greg and Doug these days who are already gone seems to be another indicator. My doctors have assured me that I should live out my natural life span, but no one knows the long-term effects of the meds I am taking. On the other hand, it's been five years now and I consider myself really fortunate to have suffered no serious complications or side effects. At any rate, my response to 40 in a few weeks has been to plan a trip to Machu Picchu. It's one of those places I always said I would go to--and then made an excuse not to go because no one would go with me. To be honest, it was scary buying the tickets which in hindsight, was all the more reason to do it. This will be the first time I ever visit a place where I know absolutely no one. Where I will be alone. But I've also heard that Peru is full of backpackers who come alone. Is it that they're more adventurous? More solitary? More middle-aged? I guess I'll have something to figure out when I'm there.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Golden

I was so sad to read about the passing of Bea Arthur this weekend. I only knew her as one of the Golden Girls, but I'm not sure I would have wanted to have known her as anyone else. She was so funny, so witty, with a look, a line. The way she lost her patience with Rose's ridiculously unbelievable St. Olaf stories, the way she shot down Blanche's tales of the lost South was some of the best comedy you ever saw. I loved, loved, loved the episodes where she sang. Impersonating Cher. Mr. Sandman. The Miami is Nice song. And then there were the episodes where she took a stand. Supporting pregnant teen mothers. Dispelling ignorance about HIV. Insisting that there is life to be lived in your Golden Years. I can't believe she's gone. It will be so strange watching reruns of the show knowing she's no longer alive. For many nights last year, watching the Golden Girls at 1 a.m. was the last thing I would do before going to sleep. It was like having a slumber party with some of your best buddies. Why do I get the feeling it just won't be as much fun anymore?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Susan Who?

If you haven't seen this woman sing yet, click on the link!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Duck Beats Tiger

Given that the Masters was played over Easter weekend, perhaps it was only fitting that Argentine Angel Cabrera, 39, nicknamed El Pato (The Duck, cuz he kind of has the walk and belly of one) won the tournament for his first green jacket. Oh, I was aching plenty for Kenny Perry who probably lost his last, best chance to win a major at age 48. But then I remembered Cabrera's back story--the kid who grew up so dirt poor he had to drop out of elementary school to earn money to support his parents. And how could you not love him when after his US Open victory in 2007 he said, "Other players have sports psychologists; I smoke."

Nor was Angel shy about voicing his opinion last year on the LPGA's ridiculous (thankfully, short-lived) policy that would have required the women golfers to learn and speak English or be barred from playing on the tour. Angel, who understands some English and speaks little, was offended. (He gave his victory interview in Spanish with the help of an interpreter.) A player should be judged by her ability to swing the clubs without the threat of an English exam hanging over her head.

I will look forward to seeing Angel year after year after year at the Masters. No, he won't be chain-smoking his way down the 18th fairway the way he did at the US Open, but I'm sure you'll hear El Pato's quack loud and clear in future Augusta appearances.

FELICITACIONES, ANGEL!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

We All Start Somewhere

One of my stories is going to be turned into a film!!! OK, so it's a student film, and it's only going to be 15 minutes, but one of my stories is going to be put on film! It will shoot next weekend, and the student/producer has asked me to be the Script Supervisor, which means I will get free food throughout the shoot and a chance to shadow the director and learn camera angles. I am so excited!

So what's the story? One Good Guy meets One Girl on the street, recognizing her as the girl he has a crush on from Facebook. But she's not the girl he thought she would be. Sad. Tired. With marks of abuse on her face. Her boyfriend, One Bad Guy, makes his appearance. As luck would have it, One Bad Guy and One Good Guy have one bad history.

One Bad Guy and One Girl are in a restaurant. She asks how he knows One Good Guy. One Bad Guy wants to know how she knows One Good Guy. The pathetic, dangerous need to constantly demonstrate power and control culminates in a very public slap across One Girl's face. She gets up and staggers out of the restaurant.

One Good Guy has been observing from across the street. He now runs across the street and takes her hand. The two set off running, with One Bad Guy giving chase. He overtakes the two and gives One Good Guy the thrashing of his life. One Good Guy bleeds on the sidewalk with One Girl kneeling by his side. One Bad Guy laughs and leaves.

One Good Guy and One Girl lie side by side in bed, fully clothed. The blood on his face still drying. The tears on her face still drying. Allowing a bond to form. The knowledge of what it is to be beaten, physically and mentally, by One Bad Guy. A gentle, confused kiss.

One Good Guy and One Girl sit on a bench in the park. Wondering where they go from here. One Bad Guy comes around with a knife. One Girl tells him to put it away. There's no need for violence. Because she'll walk away with him. Leaving One Good Guy all alone with a broken, fearful heart.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

God, I am so sick and tired of all the news about corporate bonuses and greed and mismanagement. Barack Obama, for all his good intentions, has no real solutions. Seriously, how do you fix a financial system that is beyond monetarily broken and well into being morally bankrupt? How much more money can you keep printing before it starts to look like the bills of a Monopoly game? How much of that money can you possibly snort before you realize you are asphyxiating the developing world? How many more rules and regulations can we possibly weave only to see the entire web blown away by a sneering sneeze from the Bankers of the Universe? How many more classes in ethics and compliance can these bankers be forced to take before we rescue them from a coma?

It makes me wonder.

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people, sharing all the world

Part of me thinks there's no way John Lennon could have really believed this. I mean, really. It makes for a nice pop song and a great awwwww.... moment, but who in their right mind would think about giving up all their possessions? If he were alive today, wouldn't he be living with Yoko in their penthouse apartment in Manhattan? Would he really be a man without any possessions? I am not attacking John. I'm just wondering if he could really have relinquished the hundreds of millions of dollars that he would be worth today were he still alive.

Is there a way we could create a world without any possessions? Or would that be a world of sheer animalistic instincts, of survival of the fittest where the weak get gunned down or hacked to pieces with machetes? Or is that the world we're living in right now?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Where Is He?

OK, I know I've said that I liked the cute/geeky type on this blog before, but I must say I would not mind a sports-minded type who could watch baseball with me over a brewski. Korea is dismantling Venezuela 10-1 through the sixth inning in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic tonight. I am loving it. I might be loving it a little more if someone was watching with me. Korea Fighting!

Friday, March 20, 2009

OMG, Look How Kawaii Ryo Is...

I blogged about Ryo Ishikawa before. He missed his first cut playing at Riviera a few weeks ago, but he is well on his way to playing the closing rounds at Copperhead in Florida this weekend. How frickin' adorable is he standing there AKIMBO? And LOOOOOK at his golf club covers!!!!! He has a cover that looks just like HIM!! And he has another one that looks like a BIG, BAD gopher!! I just want to give Ryo a BIG HUG!!! He's so cute I can't stand it! Too CUTE, too KAWAII!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Anoop Dog!

For those of you who have never had a migraine, I highly recommend not having one. The one I just had put me out of commission for half of Saturday, all of Sunday, ALL of Monday and half of Tuesday. My last dose of Anacin wore off 8 minutes ago, and I am praying that I can sleep tonight without it. Last night, I had to cry myself to sleep. Partly from the pain, but I'd be lying if I didn't also say partly from self pity. There is nothing, nothing, nothing fun about a migraine. OK, so what can I blog about tonight that won't require more than 15 brain cells? American Idol!



After not watching for a couple of seasons, I am hooked again. They've just got a great cast of singers. My favorites are Anoop Desai (love, love, loved his rendition of Willie Nelson's Always on My Mind), Danny Gokey, Scott MacIntyre and Megan Joy. But I wouldn't be upset to see Allison, Kris, Matt or Michael win either. I am pretty sure it will come down to Danny and Someone Else. You heard it here first! OK, dear readers, that's about all I have in my head tonight. I sign off listening to Patsy Cline's rendition of Walking After Midnight which Megan sang terrific tonight!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

180 + 180 = Right Back to Where I Started From

A day after Warren Buffett told the world that everything was going to be all right, I feel so comforted. I think that's something that I miss about having a partner--hearing someone tell me that everything will be all right. I don't know if I attribute it to loneliness or desperation--it can't be both!--but the two dates I went on last weekend weren't exactly filled with what Carrie Bradshaw once termed za za zu.

The first guy was last Friday. 5'9, 180, Asian. Face pic only. I should have known, but I dared to hope. I smiled my Botox smile--the one that freezes and doesn't know what to do with itself--when I saw: the most perfectly round, potroasted, pot belly. We had coffee, and covered our common interests over the course of twenty minutes. So... call me, he said. At the twenty-first minute.

The second guy was on Saturday. The one I went to see the movie with. In the pic he'd sent me I could tell he was about 180 as well. What I didn't realize until I met him in person was that he was only 5'5. J.T., meet Steroid Smurf. We walked into the movie theater and all the boys were staring at him. As we settled in to watch the unwatchable Watchmen, Steroid Smurf wasted no time in grabbing my hand and having hand sex with me. Painful hand sex. Steroid Smurf insisted on cracking all my knuckles. Bite down hard. But then. Squeeze my muscles. What? Squeeze. Uh, you want me to squeeze your bicep? And now my tricep. Oh. My. God. As if the movie weren't bad enough, now I was being forced to engage in this bad, bad, bad whispered-cringingly-in-the-dark dialog with a Saturday morning cartoon charater gone terribly wrong.

I want to meet someone reasonably cute/geeky. He should be height/weight proportionate. He should share my love for movies and bookstores and tennis and golf. Please Santa, I can't wait until Christmas.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Questioning Warren Buffett

"Everything will be all right. We do have the greatest economic machine that man has ever created."

"We're in a big war, and we're going to use money to fight it."

"If you don't trust where you have your money, the world stops."

Oh Mr. Buffett. How could you? When I really do like you. You are exactly what a nice, happy, next-door grandfather should look like. I suppose you had to say these things today because that's what everyone expected you to say. But we are in a crisis brought about not through some faulty mechanism in a money-making machine but a human nature that evolved over thousands of years to its present state of Net Worth = Personal Worth. If the greatest economic machine the world has ever known brought us to our current state of dismality, how great could the machine have been in the first place?

Well, let's just use more money to make it great again. So we can all end up where we are at the moment again and again and again? What does it say about the world we live in when the money-making machine says the single greatest thing you can place all your hopes and dreams in are pieces of paper with the words U.S. Treasury Bills printed on them? (By the way, I don't think it's a coincidence the words "In God We Trust" aren't printed on T-Bills.)

Have people become machines that register an error sign when they try to place trust in other people like SEC regulators and Bernie Madoffs and Alan Greenspans? And if we can't trust those people, how can we trust people like our parents and friends and colleagues and even nice grandfathers like you? Are the faces of dead American presidents destined to become the only things humans can plug into and interface with? How can we create a world where money isn't the biggest problem we're always trying to solve?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Watchmen

One reason I love watching movies at the theater in Chelsea is that the seats are comfortable and the crowd is cute, the viewing experience, a quiet one. Tonight, there was something else altogether: chemistry. All thanks, of course, to the movie being shown on the screen: Watchmen. In a word, Don't. (Watch. It.)

The anticipation in the theater was palpable. It was a packed room. We were all there for an experience. At 2 hours and 45 minutes, it better be an experience. Ten minutes into the movie, the guy next to me was fast asleep. I am not making this up. (He awoke on his own.) I expected people would need to go to the bathroom during this movie. I had to go once myself. After an hour and a half, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and made sure that I took time to admire the urinals and wash my hands and dry my hands under the dryer (twice), and check my messages, and grab some water at the fountain (in the hopes that it would make me go to the bathroom again).

Back in the theater. I settled in and waited for the movie to get better. We all did. In the darkness, you could have reached out your hand and felt the confusion. When was the movie going to get better??? No need to look into the eyes of the person next to you. Just reach out and touch. The sense of loss. The befuddlement. Time slowly (very slowly) slipping away. But at last the credits rolled. And still we sat. When was the movie going to get better??? The lights came on. But all you could see were looks of concern. Is your brain still in one piece? Are the muscles in your eyes functioning correctly? Please don't leave me behind in this place.

On the escalator going down the two cute boys in front of me were whispering. Weren't we supposed to like this movie? I summoned my courage and whispered to them. It sucked. They looked behind, slightly startled, the way you always are when you hear the truth. It sucked, I repeated. They murmured, still too shell-shocked by what they had witnessed. As we all left the cinema house, the slight chill of the New York City wind embraced us in one final moment of bonding. Not that it was necessary. We all had the scars to show from our terrible battle.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is President Obama the One... for this Job?

I have no deep thoughts to share on this question. I am simply wondering these days if he is the right person to lead us out of this financial quagmire. Is it just me, or does he seem to be missing from the news these days? Has he been drowned out by the numbers? Unemployment? Retail sales? Home sales? Billion-dollar bailouts? His days of speaking to large crowds in the stadiums seem to be a thing of the very distant past. Today, telling Americans that it was a good time to buy stocks, he sounded, dare I say it, rather ordinary.

(Hilary Who? I don't know anyone these days who's talking about foreign affairs. It's a pity that she was roped into taking Secretary of State. At the very least, I think she should have been given another chance to tackle health care. I think she could have been doing so much more were she still in the Senate today.)

I was not thrilled to hear President Obama recently stake his re-election chances on the success of the stimulus package that just passed. It seemed like a tactically incorrect thing to say. Like he was taking his eye off the ball. You never take your eye off the ball. Unless you can't see it in the first place.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

What's Going On?

Sitting in the barber shop today, I was randomly thumbing through a magazine when a quote came flying off the page like a paintball and splattered itself all over my brain. At the very least you would think it could have gotten my memory going again (I don't know where it is these days), but no, here I am, forced to paraphrase: "A lot of people are on to the emptiness; it takes real guts to acknowledge the hopelessness." My barber was still working on the head of a four-year old, so I allowed myself to ponder.

What does it mean to be courageous in these trying times? Does it take courage to admit we are living in a hopeless world? Are we lying to ourselves when we claim the world can be a better place? Here we are into the 21st century, at the pinnacle of scientific and technological advancement, and yet according to the World Bank, half the world's population, 3 billion people, are forced to subsist on less than $3 a day. The Ivy-League banking brains on Wall Street found a way to trash the world's financial systems, and yet, they couldn't find a way to simply clear away the garbage that rots in mounds in the slums of Mumbai and Nairobi.

I am trying hard not to be cynical, not to be negative. I guess it doesn't help that the HIV clinic I have been going to for the past five years told me I couldn't come anymore because they've lost a lot of their funding on account of the financial crisis. We're bailing out the banks and the insurance companies and the automakers to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, but I can't see my doctor anymore. Will someone please tell me that this calculates correctly? That this all somehow makes sense? I can't make sense of this world anymore. I'd hate to think it took me this long to figure out that it's not supposed to.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

These are my Brother's Doggies...


The one on the left is a Bichon Frise. The one on the right is a Maltese. Aren't they adorable?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Alison Des Forges, Human Rights Activist

Coming home on the train tonight, I gasped out loud. More than once. Stunned into disbelief. I was reading this week's Economist, came across the obituary, and there she was: Alison Des Forges. Alison was a human rights activist who devoted a great part of her life to highlighting the plight of Rwanda, from its days as a European colony to the genocide in 1994 that cost the lives of up to 1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

I was fortunate to have met Alison on a number of occasions when I went to law school. I had helped arrange for her to speak on campus about the Rwandan genocide. You couldn't really call the way she spoke "speaking". She fired off her words. About how Rwanda was too far away, too poor and too black for any Western government to give a damn. I would have sat there completely mesmerized had I not also felt embarrassed to see how few people had shown up to hear her. She later graciously accepted another invitation to speak, this time at a hearing on women's rights violations. She stood on a stage in a darkened auditorium before 200 people. But who needed a spotlight when you had such an aura of moral authority? She was an angel who had been placed on Earth to help and cry out for those who couldn't. Her tiresome campaign to raise awareness of Africa led to a MacArthur fellowship in 1999 and a senior advisor position with Human Rights Watch.

Alison was one of the passengers on the plane that crashed near Buffalo on February 12. All 50 people on board killed. Like everyone else, I saw the story on the news. But had I not bought that Economist at Penn Station tonight, I would never have known that Alison had been on that plane. She was only 66. I still can't believe that she's gone.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Don't Know Anymore

Lost in the hustle of this week's edition of life in New York City was a phone call I received from a friend in Korea last Sunday. He was calling about "H". Some of you know my back story, but for those who don't, suffice it to say when I was deported from Korea for being HIV+ I arrived back in America with the clothes on my back. I asked my friend "H" to clean out my apartment, but all he did was clean me out. Nine years I had lived in Korea, and I never saw any of it again.

Never say never.

My friend was calling me to let me know that he had found H. And that H apparently still had some of my things. My friend asked me was there anything I wanted? Something he could bring back for me? I was stunned. I didn't know what to say. I wanted to say Nothing. Why would I want anything when I'd replaced it all with a perverse pride in being able to ruthlessly forget? It only took me five years to become world-class in this discipline. Even as I pathetically hoped for a cure. A change in Korea's immigration laws. Anything. Something. That would allow me to go back. That would give me a needed reprieve from constantly having to dream at night, only to wake up exhausted. I wonder if he still has my pictures, I muttered. Your pictures, he asked as if to confirm, but his voice was fading, rippling away. I've long acknowledged that I can't recall faces, let alone names, anymore. I've had to find happiness in splintered images. Why would I want to see any of it whole again?

Finding out about my HIV status was a pivotal event in my life. It was the event that marked "the before" and "the after". For some people that event is getting married. Or having children. Or losing a parent. But it's more than an event. It's an event horizon. The point at which even light can no longer pull away from the force of a black hole. The point where it's not supposed to be possible to look backward anymore.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sometimes I'm Glad I'm Not a Girl

I guess I was the stupid one for even bothering to click on the link, but once I did I was blinded by the greatness of the article, courtesy of Cosmopolitan, that bastion of wisdom for the girl who has got it together. I mean, really, how stupid can an article get? (I had to post the link because otherwise I could have been accused for making up this garbage.) It said to ask yourself four questions to determine if your man is a keeper or a tosser. And here they are, the four questions that shed so much insight into the human condition we should all find ourselves evolved into a totally different species by the end of the year:

1. Is he the jealous type?
2. Is he a cheapskate?
3. Is he afraid of commitment?
4. Is he trustworthy?

So what I want to know is how in this mess of a world would this test work? Well, my guy is TOTALLY jealous and he's a TOTAL cheapskate and he's TOTALLY afraid of commitment, but he's trustworthy, so I guess I need to take another test that's so TOTALLY NOT inane.

Or perhaps...

He's SO not jealous (I mean, he wants to share me with his other friend... awwww... how sweet is that?) and he's SO not a cheapskate, but he's TOTALLY afraid of commitment and he's SO not trustworthy so that means.... uh... that means.... he's a keeper? No, wait, he's a tosser, like oh my god! I TOTALLY don't KNOW!!!!!

Is this the kind of crap that American women read on a monthly cycle? Who needs Al Qaida to terrorize us and Religion to save us when we get two for the price of one in this month's edition of Cosmo???

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Guess What I Did For Valentine's Day?

1. I counted all the Valentine cards that I got in the mail. (Did you know that it takes no time at all to count to "0"?)

2. I waited for someone to return my call so that we could go out and have Valentine's Day Dinner. (Did you know that Cold Soup at Home is one of the easiest meals you can prepare on Valentine's Day? I'm going to can it and market it and sell it to recoup my losses. [See next item.])

3. I opened the box of chocolates that I bought to give to that person who never returned my call so that we could go out and have Valentine's Day Dinner. (Did you know that eating twenty chocolates in a row can give you a bad stomach ache?)

4. I bought 2 movie tickets online, you know, one for me and one for that person who I was going to give that box of chocolates to if he had ever called me to go out and have that Valentine's Day Dinner! (Did you know that movietickets.com is the quickest and easiest way to buy movie tickets, allowing you to avoid the hassles of crowds and lines at the movie theater?)

5. I stayed at home and wrote this post. (Did you know that the sound of a breaking heart is quite hard to hear because the rest of the world is shouting out to you, "LOSER!"?)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Drive Away All the Hate

I don't always get the lingo of the younger generation. The stuff that I do get can annoy the hell out of me. Like when young Asian-American kids try to speak ghetto and use terms like "a'ight" for all right. That is so frickin' annoying. It's almost as bad as when, years ago, everyone was saying "word" to express amazement or agreement or whatever it was they were trying to express. THAT. WAS. FRICKIN'. ANNOYING.

One word that I DO love that I hear young kids using is "hater", as in "Don't be a hater." I just love that expression. It beseeches you to not be negative. To stop being a jerk. To make the right choice and start showing a more loving attitude. "He's such a hater" is one of the worst things I could probably say about a person. So what brought about this post? My girl Michelle. That's Ms. Wie to the rest of you. She's the phenomenal 19 year-old Korean-American golfer whose star shone bright early on, fizzled a bit, but now burns strong and true again as she enters her rookie year on the LPGA starting today in Hawaii. In the years she didn't play so well, I'd read the sports blogs and message boards, angered and shocked by the amount of poisonous negativity people chose to dump into cyberspace. How could 50-something male golf writers so publicly mock and humiliate a girl who could just as easily have been their daughter? How could so many bloggers, both male and female, write shit like she had raped Nike out of $10 million for being a slut who could drive it 300? Did it make them feel more manly and secure? Did it make them feel less jealous of the very real things she had accomplished? Whatever it was, there were a lot of Michelle haters out there.

Michelle, now a sophomore at Stanford, is playing at Turtle Bay in Hawaii this week. In her very first tournament as a full-time LPGA member. She just finished her first round and finds herself in a tie for second. She may not win the tournament this week. But I hope she does. But even if she does, I doubt that would stop all those haters out there from hating her. Seriously. Don't be a hater. I love saying that. It makes me sound cool. Chyeah!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Most Gorgeous Guy...

These things only happen in the movies, but today it happened to ME in the supermarket. I totally just bumped into the guy, in the dried seaweed aisle at the local Korean supermarket. (Dried seaweed gets its own aisle, believe it or not.) Anyway, 5'10, 170, totally muscly, effortlessly beautiful hair swept off to one side. I thought he saw me, but apparently he didn't so that's how we ended up running into each other. The thing was, he kind of took hold of me with both arms and then looked into my eyes. Those piercing eyes!!! Oh my god, I was mentally drooling. And then he smiled!!! The most perfect set of white teeth ever. Now I'm melting like a Wicked Witch, absurdly fretting if the supermarket manager is going to yell at me for making such a mess in the dried seaweed aisle. I'm sorry, he said. I'm not, I replied. You're not, he laughed. Did I say that, I gulped. You did, he said. I'm sorry, I said. I'm not, he replied. You're not, I laughed. Did I say that, he gulped. You did, I said. I'm sorry, he said. And so and so on until... do you think I could get your number, he said. My number, I said. Your number, he said. My God, I said. What's wrong, he said. I don't think I can remember my number. Well, in that case, he said, let me write my number instead. And then he took my hand and wrote his number on my palm. He winked one of those devastatingly dark eyes, drew me close and whispered in my ear, call me, I think you're hot. And then I woke up to the sound of my alarm, cursing the world for being so cruel.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ask a Blogger #11

OK, this is a game created by a guy named AJ, at his blog AJ's Ramblings, and here are the rules:

1) Blogger 1 posts a question on his blog. 2) The first person to comment on said Blogger's post needs to post a comment directing readers to his/her blog, and then becomes Blogger 2. 3) Blogger 2 answers Blogger 1's question on his/her own blog (so Blogger 2's blog). 4) Blogger 2 posts a question on his/her blog. 5) And then the new Blogger repeats step 1-4.

(I feel this is so chain-lettery, lol, but I liked the question that Blogger #10 posed, http://gaymaskboy.blogspot.com, which was: Where's the most romantic place you'd like to go with the love of your life? And where's the most exciting place you'd like him/her to take you? Why?

Well, I don't have a BF, so this question really stirs up the imagination. Hawaii was a beautiful place, and I went to the Bahamas a few years ago. I don't think you could go wrong with any tropical island. But I think I would like to go back to Kenya, a country I visited about 12 years ago. Kenya seemed to combine the endless possibilities of romance and adventure and peace. I won't ever forget riding a jeep on the wide open plain, the wind ripping through my hair, the sun beating down, as we chased the zebras, gawked at the giraffes and marveled at the family of elephants. From my hotel window, the sun would sink in a glorious sky of melting colors. In the evenings you knew the Earth was a living creature, as you sensed its heartbeat and were made to feel like a cherished visitor. Good food, mellow wine, the warm night embracing you all at once. All this I would like to experience again with the one that I love.

As for the most exciting place I'd like HIM to take me, how awesome would it be if someone would take me to his parents' home and introduce me as the one he loves. I'd love to be able to sit down to dinner, and have stimulating conversation, and be part of birthdays and anniversaries and family celebrations. To be there in good times and bad times. I think that would be pretty exciting.

The next question I'd like someone to answer is: Who was the last person who made you feel better on a day when you were feeling totally depressed? Please describe why you were feeling sad and what specifically the person did to make you feel better.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Smell Something Foresty Here...


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Eric Roth, the guy who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Forest Gump, has given us a very Curious Case to say the least. You see, he's also the writer of this year's blockbuster Oscar nominee The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Before I saw Button, I'd heard that it was quite a bit like Forest Gump. As I ogled Brad Pitt in scene after scene, the similarities somewhat eluded me, maybe because Button seemed to ring so hollow. It wasn't until I saw this video that I started cracking up.

So what was going through the mind of Eric Roth? Was he consciously plagiarizing himself, trying to catch that storm in a teacup again? Or does a writer, at some level, simply tell the same story over and over again? A curious case, indeed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Where Do You Want to Be Buried?

After all the health problems my father went through the past few weeks, I seriously thought that I was going to be planning his funeral. Thank God I can put that off for now. My mother and I discussed where he should be buried, as my father has indicated no preference. There's a cemetery out in Long Island that many of our family's Korean acquaintances are buried at. But that seemed far away.

My next door neighbor had his wife cremated and kept her ashes over his fireplace for 10 years until he passed away at the age of 88. He said he missed her all the time. I used to think that was kind of creepy until I realized how much I was going to miss my father when he was gone. (Of course, I could die first and then this post would all be moot.)

I think, as a general rule, people want to be buried in a place that they feel close to. For the longest time I thought I wanted to have my ashes scattered over a mountain in Korea, or over Korea's western coastline where I spent some of the happiest summers and winters. But having been away from Korea for over 5 years now, I am acutely aware that my heart isn't as close to those places as it used to be. At the moment I would have to say that I want to be buried next to my parents (which will probably be somewhere around New York City) since they have become my best friends and supporters. I told my brother as much (and I kind of hope I die before he does because I think it would be so sad to be the last surviving member of my immediate family.)

Maybe one day I will meet someone who loves me as much as I love him. Then I think I would want to be buried next to him. Of course, death can come at any time so there's no guarantee where I would end up.

I read the other day that in about 2.5 billion years, our Milky Way galaxy will collide with the Andromeda galaxy and when that happens there won't be any Earth anymore and everything buried on this planet will revert to being the stardust from which we all came. In middle school we learn that the heaviest element the sun can produce is helium. But not many bother reasoning that over 90 elements on this earth--many of which are in our bodies--came from somewhere outside our solar system. I think that's kind of spectacular--that we are all made of stardust that floated in from somewhere far, far away. And that one day we'll be back out there roaming the universe until by some miracle we come back to life once again.

It's The Housing Problem, Stupid

I just don't understand what all these highly-educated people in Washington are doing with all this money, when they really need to be doing ONE thing with all that money: STABILIZE THE HOUSING MARKET! I don't have a degree in finance or economics or business, but I do know that the problems started when average people back in 2006 were no longer able to afford $500,000 houses with $50,000 salaries. In short, the housing bubble burst.

Every day, I read online or watch CNN or MNBC and these so-called experts are trying to offer "clues" as to where the market may be heading, looking at retail numbers and manufacturing numbers and whatever other numbers. The only number that REALLY needs to be watched is HOUSING!!! Until average Americans know what their house is really worth in this market, no one is going to spend a dime. Plans for home rennovations will be scrapped. Maor purchases will be put on hold. College educations may have to wait. For most Americans, the house is their biggest asset, and when there is so much mystery surrounding the true worth of your most important asset, or even worse, when there are so many signs that the value of that asset continues to plummet, there is just NO CONFIDENCE to spend and loan any money.

For example, Obama has earmarked $6.2 billion for home weatherization, claiming that this will put people to work. I'm sorry, but which American homeowner is going to embark on a major home weatherization project in these times? Who can afford to throw thousands of dollars at a home weatherization project that might not recoup its value?

STABILIZE HOUSING!!!!!! A man's home is his castle. In America's case, housing is the foundation on which everything else is built. I remember back in 2005 when real estate was going through the roof, everyone was talking like they were millionaires. Taking out home equity loans to buy that second BMW. Go on vacation. Expand the business. Whatever. Now that homes are worth considerably less than what they were only three years ago (NYC just LOWERED its tax assessment of my house! Seriously, government NEVER lowers these numbers!), people are feeling a lot poorer.

The best thing the government could do with $900 billion is to have Fannie and Freddie buy up all these toxic mortgages and cut off a few percentage points for the borrowers. Force banks to make housing loans so the ONE-YEAR glut of NEW HOUSES still on the market starts disappearing; until those houses go, there will be constant downward pressure on housing. This is 7th grade economics! And then throw the banking architects into jail so that this problem does not repeat itself. Greed is a Hydra with a million heads that refuse to die--actually, even worse, because Greed is not mythological. This is not to say that the myriad of programs Obama wants to shore up are not worthy. They are. But he's putting the cart before the horse in his recovery strategy.

Really, these guys in Washington and on Wall Street are so clueless as to how Joe Six Pack lives and thinks. Stabilize housing. People will get a grip on what they're worth. They'll spend accordingly, and the economy will take off from there. God, it's really not that difficult.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm a Fan of Roger Ebert

Growing up, I was a fan of Siskel. Siskel was the nice man, with the nice smile, the easy way of talking and glints of good nature in his eyes. Ebert, the pudgy one, was of course, the mean one. The sour one. The one liable to be judged based on his mediocre looks. As long as Siskel gave his thumbs up, I didn't really care what Ebert thought.

When Gene Siskel died from complications of brain cancer in 1999, I was living in Korea and shocked by the news of his passing--you never expect someone to die at the age of 53. (He died on February 20.) And I wondered how Siskel and Ebert would continue. But it did. With a number of guest hosts until Richard Roeper stepped in and the show was renamed Ebert and Roeper. I think I saw maybe one or two episodes of Ebert and Roeper.

At some point I started reading Roger Ebert's reviews online. At first, for just the current batch of movies. But then, as I realized how great his writing was, I started reading the reviews for all the movies I had ever seen, and even for movies I hadn't seen. I read them for the insight they provided not only into the movie, but into the human condition and recently, into Ebert's own soul. The reviews aren't very long. Just long enough to say something meaningful and hopeful, and when the movie sucks, comical. And then I started reading his essays. On politics. On the sadness he felt when Siskel died. On how his own bout with cancer made him a lot more human. I began to really, really like Roger Ebert.

Ebert recently wrote an article about an emotion he dubbed Elevation, the feeling of uplift that's created when you see a good person doing a good thing. You hardly see many stories on the news, especially these days, that produce this feeling of Elevation. I wanted to post something today that would have been elevating. But after scouring the Internet, I kind of gave up. Which is how I ended up writing about Siskel and Ebert.

I will reveal a corny dream of mine: I dream of getting a four-star review from Roger Ebert someday for one of my screenplays. He gives out lots of 3-stars, and you know the movie was really kind of mediocre if it gets anything fewer than that. But he doesn't give out too many 4-stars. I think getting 4-stars from Roger Ebert would be even better than getting an Oscar.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Message For Education Secretary Arne Duncan

I doubt anyone was paying attention to anything you were saying today because the only news that made the news was that Wall Street execs gave themselves $18.4 billion in bonuses last year. You know, so they could all buy waste baskets that cost $1,405 and credenzas that cost close to the GDP of Lesotho. But for the record, you did say, "If we want to stimulate the economy, we need a better-educated workforce. That’s the only way, long-term, we’re going to get out of this economic crisis."

Frankly, I'm just appalled by these words. A better-educated workforce? I'm sorry Mr. Duncan, but WHAT THE FUCK PLANET ARE YOU LIVING ON? Have you not been paying attention to the fact that the investment bankers who got us into this economic mess, that might ultimately end up costing $4 trillion to clean up (if you believe NY Senator Chuck Schumer), all went to Harvard and Yale and Stanford and got their MBAs from Harvard and Yale and Stanford? How much better-educated do we need our financial leaders to be to get us out of this economic crisis? Better educated than Harvard and Yale and Stanford? Are we not already in a financial hell hole? Or do you not understand this because you yourself went to Harvard and can't afford to offend your classmates? This economic crisis did not happen because our leaders were POORLY EDUCATED, you idiot! It happened because those Harvard-educated minds got twisted by pure unadulterated greed that obliterated all notions of morality and ethicality and legality.

With the government spending $800 billion on this new stimulus package, you'd think there'd be enough money to buy the new Education Secretary a clue.

Now, if the argument you were making was that a lot of the money in this stimulus package is going to help poor, underserved kids in inner-city neighborhoods and keep their teachers from being fired (never a popular sell in Washington D.C. with the Republican assholes), then have the balls to say so. Don't confuse the American public into thinking that it was a lot of stupid people that got us into this mess. Immoral, unethical and criminal, all yes. Stupid? Definitely not. After all, it takes a lot of brains to cause a $4 trillion mess and then find a way to reward yourself for it to the tune of $18.4 billion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike Is Dead

And with him, goes a piece of me. In all honesty, I can't say that Updike's style of writing ever truly won me over. Too spare, too intellectual, too Waspy, too many things that taxed my average intelliegence. But secretly I admired him for speaking a language I could never grasp. Rabbit Run was one of the first novels that I ever read in high school and did not enjoy but was proud to tell all of my friends that I had actually read. Ironically, "Rabbit" Angstrom, with his constant search for truth and peace of mind, has turned out to be a character I appreciate more as I get older.

We live in a day and age where words seem to count for so little. Where numbers are the new words, and all that matter anymore. How old are you? How much do you make? What zip code do you live in? What's your portfolio worth? Will this $825 billion stimulus package do anything more than recapitalize the banks that got us in this mess in the first place? John Updike stood for the integrity of words. Words that soared, and sometimes sunk, but always captured the complexity of human nature. America is infinitely poorer off without him today. I hope it takes a moment to remember.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Ox!

It is finally the Year of the Ox! And according to the Chinese zodiac, I'm in for a very good year! Looking back on my experiences, I can definitely say that some of the best guys I ever dated in Korea were the Ox boys who were four years younger. The Ox were the slow, but steady ones. Solid and reliable. You make plans with them and they never back out on you. They work hard and laugh easy.

The Year of the Ox is supposed to be one of hard work and reflection. A time of rebuilding. This year I'm supposed to have 10 favorable months and 2 neutral ones. I can say that January has turned out to be favorable. I am enjoying work, and have recently been making exciting headway with my screenwriting. I have met two new guys (a couple) who have been really fun to hang out with. Dad's health is doing much better. Just four weeks ago, none of this was true.

I don't want to say I'm superstitious, but I do know that life has its ups and downs. And if the 5000 year-old Chinese civilization wants to tell me that this year will be full of ups, who am I to throw away that fortune cookie?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

BARACK OBAMA: I WILL NOT RUN FOR SECOND TERM!

Three days into the new administration, President Obama held a news conference stating that he was sick and tired of being the President of the United States and that he would serve out his current term and then retire.

"I will be able to make more than $3,000,000 per speech on the speaker's circuit. Michelle has already signed a half-book deal with Simon & Schuster for over ten figures. If she goes ahead and writes the whole book, she makes thirty figures. Our daughters already have dolls who look just like them. We're working with Miley's people to do a movie, a book, and a television show. We'll be set for life," the President said.

When asked if he didn't think he was disappointing the American public that had worked so hard to elect him, he replied that he would be even more exposed and available to the public if he rejoined the private sector.

"We don't like living in the confines of the White House. It's a nice place and all, but it's really not a fitting environment in which to raise a dog. The dog can't poop freely on the White House lawn, and I was told we'd have to do Easter egg things on that lawn. We've tried and tried to remove the oldpeople-Bush-stink from the air, but no amount of Febreze has been working. There's only so much you can put up with."

Tourists passing in front of the White House were interviewed for this piece. Asked how they felt about the President's decision, they said, "Awesome! That's so great! That's interesting! Yeah..."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bashful Prince

How do the Japanese come up with these nicknames for their stars? I'm sure there's a reason behind the name Bashful Prince for 17 year-old Ryo Ishikawa though I couldn't find it, not in English anyway. This frickin' adorable megastar in Japan is going to be playing at least 3 times in the States this year, on a sponsor's exemption at Riviera on February 19th, on a PERSONAL INVITATION from ARNOLD PALMER in March and then a SPECIAL EXEMPTION to THE MASTERS in April!!! Basful Prince? Try Freakish Phenomenon! The older I get, the more absurd, more beautiful, more inspiring the force of youth becomes. I haven't seen him play yet, but he could be the golf story of the year. I cannot wait...

John Thain is Now Free to go to Hell

Poor John Thain lost his job today. I blogged about him before, but I didn't know how correct my sentiment was when I said that Merrill's CEO John Thain deserved a one-way ticket to a lake of fire. Q4 numbers have just been released for Merrill Lynch, and it turns out they lost $15.31 billion. Billion. Billion. Billion. Say that fifteen billion times and you will start to get a feel for how painful it is. Of course, lots of people at Merrill still got their year-end BONUSES last year for LOSING $15.31 billion. It turns out Thain's office also got a $1.22 million facelift when he became Merrill's CEO. ($1405 for a wastebasket!?!?) I'm sorry, but that borders on sociopathic behavior. With the median price of a home in America hovering at around $250,000 (and plunging), no one in his right mind should renovate his office at a cost of $1.22 MILLION. If this is how we're going to spend taxpayer money, why not just pay off people's individual mortgages?

Bye bye John Thain. The bad news is you're probably going to hell. The good news is you're not going to be lonely there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So What Happens Next?

He said the right words. With all the right tones. But we've always known that Obama could deliver a speech. Now comes the hard part. Delivering on all his promises. The older I get, the more I realize that words are like the waves of the ocean. Ebbing and flowing with the tides. Real, but elusive, and never quite what they seem. Good ol' adages don't get more trite than "actions speak louder than words". They also don't get truer.

My initial reaction to the Inauguration, believe it or not, was one of foreboding. As a student of Russian history, Obama's fumbling of the oath recalled the coronation of the Russian Czar Nicholas II in 1896 when the chain of the Order of St. Andrew fell from his shoulders in an ominous sign. (The Dow plunging below 8000 was another.) The parades, the balls, the luncheons and dinners--all in excess of $150 million--at a time when people are losing their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, their educations seemed a bit, well, excessive. Again, there was a parallel to Nicholas and Alexandra. When hundreds of people, including women and children, died in a stampede at a celebration of Nicholas' crowning, the Emperor and Empress chose to dance at a ball that very evening, giving rise to criticisms of heartlessness.

Obama came to power with a mantra of change. I really want to like this President. I really do. But so far, the only change that I've seen is the way he raised money for his campaign through the Internet, something no other President had done before. I've seen his picks for his Cabinet. They're mostly people from the Clinton era. No change there. He's had to hedge his promise to end the war in Iraq right away. That's not a good change. And now he's about to embroil us in Afghanistan for the next five years, an issue he managed to effectively skirt on the campaign trail, but which endorsement now seems not just a little disingenous. (Did the Russians getting their asses kicked by the Afghanis in 1980 not teach us anything?)

I doubt I'm raining on Obama's parade. After all, I'm just one voice. No one's going to hear this amidst the throngs of cheers and cries of jubilation. But tomorrow those sounds will be gone. And the sounds of the stock market crashing will continue. I remember people genuinely liked Bush when he was elected to his first term. Honest. Approachable. Folksy. Down-to-earth. These were the things people were saying about him. Today he looked like an old, defeated man disappearing into the cold, winter day. I seriously hope Obama gets through his tenure in better shape. As much as he stood for a symbol of change today, I can honestly say that I honestly don't know--nobody knows--what he will stand for tomorrow.