Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas!

That might come as a surprise to some, atheistic radical homo that i am., but i effing love Christmas. I love it all. Christmas carols, the decorations, Santa Claus... other than Halloween, i think it might be my absolute favorite holiday.

Some of my friends find something incongruous about my love of Yule and my lack of interest in the nativity of Big Baby Jesus, but for me this is a time that transcends religion. It is a time for community, and family. And a time when i get to spoil the people i love in lots of little ways. But the best part is the time i get to spend with my mom.

Every year on Christmas Eve (or sometimes the night before, depending on ticket prices) I fly down to Palm Springs; my mom picks me up from the airport and she fills me in on the latest family drama while do my best to pay attention to stories about aunts, uncles, and cousins i haven't seen in a decade.

When we get back to my mom's place we crack open a bottle of wine and hang out talking and listening to christmas music until dinner time. Every year we have cracked crab, garlic bread, ceasar salad, and cold asparagus (dessert is always provided, but actually eating it after the mountains of crab bred and butter is usually a task i'm simply not up to). After dinner we stay up until midnight and open presents, a hold over from the days when i split Christmases between my mom's house and my dad's, and then we call it a night.

Christmas Day is all about watching holiday movies and drinking wine until we're stupid. My mom has a soft spot in her heart for schlockey, Lifetime Network, made-for-teevee movies where every third actor is a once-was who hasn't had a paying gig since The Facts of Life. My tastes tend to run a little... different.

Here are some of my favorites:

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians:

The story goes like this: Martians kidnap Santa (and, inexplicably, two obnoxious apple cheeked little kids who by all rights should have been shoved out an airlock way before reaching the Red Planet, no one would care) because Martian children have no one to bring them presents... seriously. You'd think they could just hire somebody... I feel it's only fair to warn you that it's really, really bad unwatchable. But the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version is a classic (though as always with MST3K, a little weed goes a long way).

Mixed Nuts:

This priceless little gem from the early nineties takes place at a suicide prevention hotline on Christmas Eve. It's got a (90's) all star cast, including  Steve Martin, Rita WilsonAnthony LaPagliaGarry Shandling and Adam Sandler. Critics hated it, audiences hated it, and when i made my brother take me st see it in the theater, he hated it. Why should you watch it? Two words: Madeline Kahn.

The Nightmare Before Christmas:

I don't think that that there is anyone from my generation who hasn't seen and been deeply affected by Tim Burton's dark fairytale about Jack Skelington (King of the Pumpkin Patch) and his obsession with Christmas.

You've seen this movie. And if you haven't you are probably in your sixties. Get into it.


I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it. This is the best film adaptation of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol ever next to which all others are a steaming pile of crap (you here that Muppets?! I'm looking at you.). The always genius Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a modern day (well, 80's modern) Scrooge in the form of a heartless television executive. His gradually building nervous break down as he's tortured by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, along with a Danny Elfman score make the movie. Also it's fun example of how accepted ruthlessness and base ambition were in the eighties.


Okay. So if I had to pick a favorite movie based solely on the number of times i've seen it, it would have to be Go! Not only did my friend Amy and I see it thirteen times in the theater (honest) but i have owned 4 different copies of the DVD. It follows three interrelated groups of characters oe Christmas Eve as they (knowingly or not) navigate the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong. It is fast paced and hillarious, with possibly the best soundtrack of any 90's movie.

A Christmas Story:

This movie doesn't really require any explanation on my part. If by some strange turn of events you've never seen it (perhaps you were launched into space in the early eighties, and are just now returned to earth?) just wait until next year; TBS plays it back-to-back for 24 hours every Christmas.

The Lion in Winter:

You think your family is effed up? I promise you look like the Cleavers compared to these people. Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn star as  the King and Queen of England, King Henry Plantagenet and Eleanore of Aquitaine, respectively. They along with their children and the king of France gather one Christmas to plot with and against one another for the future of the crown of England. PLEASE don't let the fact that this is a historical drama dissuade you from seeing it. The characters are rich and the dialogue is so fast and witty it will leave you with blisters. This one earned all three of its Oscars.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Music In The Morning: PJ Harvey

This album is all tied up in you.

(In me and you.)

Why can't we let each other go?

When will we stop pushing one another away?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today (December 1st) is World AIDS Day. If you didn't get me a present, don't worry about it. Lots of people who have HIV/AIDS don't even know that there is a World AIDS Day, let alone when it's observed. But basically it was thought up in the late eighties by a handful of United Nations bureaucrats in an attempt to focus a little more attention on the AIDS pandemic. They picked December 1st for the special day because it falls between election season and Christmas, a dead zone in the news cycle. And I suppose it has been effective as far as these things go. Health officials recite statistics, presidents make speeches, and popes pray for healer and sinner alike. But as to how the rest of us can best observe this awkward semi-holiday... I have no useful suggestions.

Some of my friends are doing really useful stuff, like volunteering with organizations such as Project Open Hand. Others suggested i pack a picnick basket and spend the day at the Memorial Grove, and spend the day remembering those who came before. At least one of my friends told me he plans to host a small orgy for a few of his HIV positive friends and work out a little sexual healing (to which I was not invited.). All fine ways to spend a day, but I'm finding it very difficult to do anything but brood.

A few evenings back i was experiencing... (despite a thorough racking of my brain i can't think of a classy way to say 'horniness,' all i came up with was 'certain urges' which sounds really creepy and unwholesome) and i decided to log on to one of the approximately 10,000 gay cruising sites to be found on the internets. The specific site is unimportant, none of them are in any way classy. Suffice to say it is a fairly main-stream one that is very popular amongst my peers. Not long after stepping out into the digital meat market i got hit with a chat request from someone who's handle was something to the effect of PozCuriousStreamofnumbers. He was handsome enough, though not really my cup of tea. And the conversation pleasant, if not thrilling. I was just about to beg my leave of him when, apropos of nothing, he asked me to infect him with HIV.

I was without words. All i could think to type after staring blankly at my screen for a very brief eternity was 'are you serious?' He assured me that he was, in fact, very serious. He said that he was tired of being afraid of catching HIV and he just wanted to 'get it out of the way,'

My face exploded. All. Over. The. Internet.

In retrospect i could, and should, have reacted differently. I should have taken him by the metaphorical hand and tried to walk him back from the very bad idea he had talked himself into. I should have reasoned, and cajoled, and given him the benefit of my experience. I should have helped him. Instead i cussed at him and called him names. I told him that he was a moron and an asshole and a stupid cowardly son-of-a-bitch. I told him that he was trading the true freedom of a healthy body for the illusionary freedom of sexual wantonness, and if he was too stupid to know the difference then he deserved to get sick. I said things and then worse things. I unleashed a stream of vitriol that would have made a biker blush, and before i even had time to register the tears streaming down my face he was gone. Soon his profile was too.

I wish that i knew this kid. I wish that i could talk to him and convince him that he is better being negative. That dealing with the fear of infection is so much easier than the endless doctors visits, and blood tests, and pills upon pills upon pills. I wish i could tell him that having HIV is an epic responsibility. A sacred fucking duty to never let that virus get past you. Because as much as getting HIV sucks, its fuck-all compared to the soul-crushing knowledge that you've failed and fucked up someone's life forever. I know how much it sucks

I've done things in my life that i'm not proud of. Some very bad things.

But I never really knew what Regret was until i failed in my responsibility. And I could never do that again. I couldn't live with myself.

I wish i could tell him that.