26 January 2010

"Congratulations on Your Marriage"

It was a Sunday in 1980. I had recently moved to San Francisco, and had gone to the cinema with my best friend Steven G. to see the movie "Ordinary People." I am not sure what happened to me while watching that movie, but when it was over I "came out" and told Steven that I was gay. He was cool about it. That was good.

The next day, I arrived at the bank in Berkeley where I had been working nearly a year and greeted all my co-workers with "Good morning. Just to let you know, I'm gay, and if you don't like it, that's your problem, not mine."

Yes, I became a rebel at the age of 20.

Since then, I have never made it a secret that I am gay -- whether at work, with friends, or wherever. I am not militant about it -- I'm not "in your face"; but I also figure it is my life to live and if you have a problem with me being gay that's your issue, not mine.

Sure, I lost friends over this. My mom didn't talk to me for two years after I told my parents -- in an odd turnaround, I thought my dad would freak out and my mom be supportive. It was exactly the opposite.

I met Matt in 1994 and we got married in California in July 2008. We became one of the 18,000 lucky couples whose same-sex marriages were designated by law as still valid after the entire PropH8 mess.

So, we attended a taping of "The Big Bang Theory" on 24 November 2009. That day was a Tuesday, it was the 15th anniversary of the actual day we met (a Tuesday) even though we met on 22 November 1994.

During the taping of the show, there are gaps between scenes when the cast and crew are not filming. To fill those gaps, and keep audience members alert and peppy until the cameras roll again, they have a guy who tells jokes, organizes games, hands out chocolate, etc.

During one of those breaks this guy asked for audience members to step up and tell why they liked "The Big Bang Theory." Of course, being a huge fan of the show, I hopped right up and told the audience I was a fan because it had characters who were people like me (smart and socially outcast). So, we chatted for a while, this guy and me, and he asked me what else was going on.

I mentioned that this day was my 15th anniversary with my spouse, and that we came to the taping as an anniversary present. The audience applauded. The guy asked where my spouse was, and I pointed to Matt and Matt stood up to a round of applause from the audience.

So now I'm thinking: "Here is my chance to put in a plug for the fact we got married," so I said: "We were one of the lucky couples who got married in California last year when it was still legal." As soon as the words left my mouth, I thought: "What kind of reaction is this going to get? They already applauded twice, will they applaud again? Will they be repelled? Will someone throw something at me?"

The audience gave us the biggest round of applause yet, including a few cheers. I was totally floored by the warm and accepting reception.

After the taping, we were talking with a security guard to get directions back to our hotel, because the Warners lot is huge and confusing. A group of five or six young women -- probably college-age (because the minimum age to attend the taping is 18) -- walked by us and one called out "Congratulations again on your marriage. That's just so great!" They were all fresh faced and smiling; and I remembered this group of young women was the source of cheering earlier. I said: "Thank you" and they left.

It was at this point, for the first time, I think, that I understood that gay marriage would one-day become a reality for every same-sex couple who wants it. To have so much genuine and warm support from a group of young people was gratifying and reassuring.

By the way, if you or someone you know is part of a same sex marriage, then visit my other blog site We Are Married Too. We are trying to get every gay and lesbian married couple to add their stories.

24 January 2010

Betty White

If anyone deserves a lifetime achievement award it is Betty White -- and not just for her work in film and on television.

22 January 2010

Oh, and Tornadoes, Too.

As you can see by the photograph (click to enlarge) Phoenix was under a tornado warning last night during our huge storm. Our house got about 2" of rain (that's a lot for a desert) while other near-by areas got almost 4"!

21 January 2010

Yes, They Closed the Airport

I know, I know. The east coast gets blizzards, the south gets hurricanes and the mid-west gets tornadoes. Well, Phoenix gets shit for weather. That's right: shit. Here is the usual weather year in Phoenix: For ten months the weather is: hot today, hot overnight. For six weeks, the weather is: warm today, cool tonight. But, for two wonderful weeks of the year -- right about now, in fact -- the weather forecast includes the word "rain."

So, we're getting three whoppin' ass storms that just left California (number two is hitting today, see image) that our local weather people are characterizing as being of "historic proportions." I know, right? The forecast is that we could get up to six inches of rain today -- just from this second storm. Six inches, big deal. Well, let me remind you that in most years, we get less rain than that during the entire year!

The 60+ mile-per-hour winds accompanying this storm are why they closed Sky Harbor International Airport a couple hours ago. What? Closed the airport? They never close the airport. When was the last time that happened? (26 June 1990, when the temp hit 122 and the airplanes could not take off because their settings did not allow for such a high temp. Seriously.)

Well, here's fingers crossed that our house won't go floating away tonight, or get blown away by the wind!

18 January 2010

Glen Bell RIP

Glen Bell (1923 - 2010), founder of my favorite fast food restaurant (pictured).

16 January 2010

Goodbye, I Love You

Someday, I would really be interested to find out who started the habit of people ending their telephone conversations with the words "Goodbye, I love you." I mean, I understand why people do it: So they can say, during their tear-filled television interview -- and you have all seen them -- when they explain how their loved one died in that terrible car accident, "And the last words I said to him [or her] were 'I love you.' "

And that is important why?

I am pretty confident it is correct to say, in most cases, the last thing going through the head of that loved one is not "The last thing she [or he] said to me was that she loved me." I think it more likely the last thought would be something along the lines of "SHIT! That SUV with the woman [or man] on the cell phone just ran the red light and is heading right for me!"

I know quite a few people (mostly women, interestingly enough) who are members of the "Goodbye, I love you" club. They are usually the same people continually bad mouthing their husband or boyfriend to me. They take what appears to be an odd pleasure in relating to me how they ended an argument with "Fuck off" as they stormed out of the room. At what point were they thinking, if at all, "The last words I said to him right before he died of a heart attack were 'Fuck off!' "?

Sure, just because they curse their spouses does not suddenly mean they do not love them. But it is also true that just saying the words "I love you" does not suddenly mean you do.

Actions, as everyone knows, speak much louder than words. "Love" is something that you show another person (or an animal). It is not just a word you parrot.

Matt knows I love him because of the thoughtful things I do, or the little stuffed kitty I bring home after work just because I happened to see it and buy it for him, or in how I am supportive of him whenever I speak about him to others (either in his presence or not). I know Matt loves me when he runs to the drug store for something and just happens to return with a Reese's Peanut Butter cup for me because he knows how much I love them, or when he sets up the Wii for me so that don't have to.

Does this mean I never say those words to Matt? No. I save them for those times when the meaning is especially important, and those words really mean what they say.

So, in the long run, while I still think it weird, I guess it doesn't hurt to be a member of the "Goodbye, I love you" club. I just hope the people who strive so hard to always say those words spend an equal or greater amount of energy striving to live them.

14 January 2010

Poor Animals!

I love animals.

I understand there are times when experiments need to be conducted on animals to save human lives.

I know that many people are alive today because of the sacrifices made by animals (with no consent from the animals).

What I do not understand is intentionally inflicting pain on ANY animal (including humans).

So, hats off to L'Oreal (the cosmetic people) and Hurel Corporation for their research into creating a way to test cosmetics without having to use animals -- using, instead, human tissue cultures. It is a testament to the inherent good in all humans that computer simulations and tissue cultures like these are being used more and more instead of animals. I just wish we were advanced enough technologically to be able to do all scientific experiments without harming animals. :-(

You can read about the new method here

13 January 2010

Y, Thank You!

I like being a guy for lots of reasons: I can pee standing up, I can spit without people being really surprised, and I am a lot more popular with gay guys than I would otherwise be. Another quintessentially "guy" thing is our "y" chromosome (pictured) -- which stands alone as the only chromosome without a matching mate.

New research is indicating that the male "y" chromosome is evolving faster than any other chromosome in the bunch. Not exactly sure what that means, but I think that's cool, too.

You can read more about this research here.

12 January 2010

This is Going Viral

Hey! Did you know that humans are, it appears, part virus? (The next thing you will tell me is that some sea slugs are part plant and part animal. What a world!)

No, it's true. Recent research has discovered small bits of human DNA that originated as virus DNA. These bits of DNA are not enough to make an active virus, and scientists think humans evolved ways to use partial virus traits to our own advantage.

This is all cool and everything, but they are also talking about trying to recreate these paleo viruses in the lab! I'm not sure that is such a good idea. I was squeamish when researchers dug up the bodies of people who died from the 1918 influenza to study that virus. I mean, do we really want a lethal pathogen floating around -- even if only in a secure lab? I don't think so.

You can read more about these ancient viruses here.

11 January 2010

It's Not Just Opposable Thumbs

You might enjoy this very intriguing listing of the top ten things that most make humans unique. There are a couple that might be unexpected. My favorite on the list is number five. This trait is why we are the only animals that can choke to death on food or water.

07 January 2010

Crab Shortcake?

My spouse, Matt, sent me a link to an article about the discovery of a new species of crab in Taiwan. While it is interesting enough any time a new species is discovered, this crab is interesting because it kinda looks like a strawberry (for the sake of comparison, I am including a photograph of a strawberry, not the actual crab).

You can read more about this really cool discovery -- and see pix of the real crab --

06 January 2010

And the Nominees Are

Isn't it always the case that your favorite movie never gets nominated for a damn thing? We were in the cinema watching "District 9" back in September and I turned to Matt and said something like "I sure hope this film gets nominated for an Oscar for something -- even if only for its script -- because it is so different!" I like "different." I hate "same." "Same" is why I hate most Hollywood films because they all are so much from column A and so much from column B with a touch from column C that nothing original ever comes out.

You can just imagine my surprise when the Producer's Guild of America announced its nominations yesterday and "District 9" got a nod -- not for script, but for BEST PICTURE! Now, I know the PGA awards are not Oscars, but wow! Somebody got it. I am so happy for that picture (with which I have no affiliation, other than loving it).

You can read more about the PGA nominations here.

05 January 2010

Hollywood's Best Restaurant?

It's no secret that I love Musso & Frank restaurant in Hollywood. I've been going there, whenever I am in town, since about 1985. It is the closest thing to classic old Hollywood that still exists -- except, maybe, movies.

So, I've been going there forever. One time, I was visiting my BFF in Hollywood, Shirley Wilson, who has been a mover and shaker in, as she says, "La La Land" forever. I mean, she used to work for Edith Head, for crying out loud. Anyway, so one time in the early 1990's I'm visiting Shirley and she knows I love Musso & Frank, so we go there for dinner and sit in one of the booths in the bar side (shown in the photograph).

One of the servers comes by, and I tell him that I am a writer and I love Musso & Frank because I know all the big Hollywood writers from the 1920s and 1930s used to go there. So, this waiter says to me "In fact, you are sitting in F. Scott Fitzgerald's favorite spot!" Well, I guess he took me for some kinda rube from the sticks and probably tells everyone that EVERY seat used to be Fitzgerald's favorite. Whatever. I know Fitzgerald loved Musso & Frank so probably every seat in the place really did used to be his favorite.

This venerable institution just turned 90 years old, and NRP did a nice little story about it, which you can hear here.

P.S. When you go, I totally recommend the chef's salad. Tell them Christopher sent you.

03 January 2010

Hollywood's Most Underrated Actor?

There was a nice review today of the career (so far) of Patricia Clarkson on the CBS News program Sunday Morning. Clarkson (pictured) is one of Hollywood's hardest working actors -- not necessarily because she works a lot; rather, because she does such a great job with every part she undertakes.

You can read more about this talented woman here.

01 January 2010

Paper or Plastic?

Recently, Matt and I went out to dinner with his parents. They had one of those global positioning devices (GPS) and were tickled pink showing us how well the directions took us from their house to the restaurant. In fact, they offered to buy us one for xmas. "No thank you," I said. That surprised them and I told them I would rather rely on a paper map, thank you very much. That generated quite the discussion about how much better was GPS than a paper map.

I was not swayed. I have used paper maps for decades and they work just well. Plus, who wants the aggravation? I told them of an incident on our Los Angeles trip in October. We were in the lobby of our hotel at Venice Beach and this very odd man was demanding the hotel employee get him an address for Universal Studios because he needed to program it into his GPS. Always trying to be helpful, I explained to the traveler that the studio was just a couple miles away and all he had to do was get on the freeway (just a block or so from the hotel) and follow the signs. The man turned nearly apoplectic. He needed the address and would not listen to reason. I gave up trying to help. In the time he wasted trying to find a street address for the studio, he could have driven there and back again.

People today rely too much on technology -- and this instance is just the tip of the iceberg. Three times this past week came stories of people who relied for directions on their GPS devices and got stranded in the Oregon snow. I mean, seriously, are we so ready and willing to give up common sense and basic skills (how hard is it to read a map?) and turn our lives over to so many bits of silicon and plastic?

Not me, thank you.