Thursday, July 31, 2008

The San Francisco Treat®

I was listening to Morning Edition this morning, when I heard the Kitchen Sisters do a Hidden Kitchens episode about Rice-A-Roni. It brought back fond childhood memories of watching television, and hearing the clang-clang of the San Francisco Cable Cars on the Rice-A-Roni commercials.

Check out the Hidden Kitchens' Rice-A-Roni episode. It is a compelling story that has drama, love, food, and San Francisco all rolled up into a seamless American icon. This particular story really struck a chord with me.

Most Americans of a certain age probably know (or could at least hum) the Rice-A-Roni jingle, which may be a low comment on American culture. For me, it evokes long summer days in Moscow, Idaho, watching television, and endlessly hearing the commercial. Cable cars were a long ways from Idaho. As far as I can recall, my mother never served "The San Francisco Treat," although we did sometimes eat out of a box.

Mostly, the commercial and the product remind me of summer days that we hoped would never end. Most afternoons, we would trek off to the swimming pool in West Park, which was a couple of miles away. It was a long walk for us since we lived on the very east side of town. We would sometimes play in the neighbor's barn, building forts in the hay. Another favorite activity was to build dams across the little stream that ran along the bottom of the yard. We often had major road construction projects going on with our toy trucks and other heavy earth moving equipment.

Of course, Dad would want us to weed so many rows of green beans in the garden. Or we would have to work on the wood pile. I was always allergic to work; I would rather read or watch television. Sometimes, my twin brother and I and the neighbor kids would get on our bikes and take off into the country. We had a million things to do, and an eternity in which to do it, until parents came home or school began.

I'm still not sure that I've ever eaten Rice-A-Roni, but it will probably make an appearance on our table shortly, or even better, I can fix Pailadzo Captanian's Rice Pilaf, the dish that started it all in San Francisco.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Remaking of American Culture, the Rattle of the Cocktail Shaker

Once, I was stirred to do important things, like work for lesbian and gay civil rights in Maryland. Now, I'm shaken. One of my friends asked me if I had a drinking problem. Of course not! Unless I've run out of alcohol!

Yes, in my retirement I've come to appreciate the cocktail hour and its tools: the cocktail shaker and the bartender guide. The very best, in my humble opinion, is the Field Guide to Cocktails. This book has just about every obscure mixed drink that you can imagine, and it sets the intrepid mixologist on a voyage of discovery and experimentation.

Each day at 4:30 p.m. I think, hmmm, the Cocktail Hour approaches. What should I mix? Sometimes I try the oldies: a Margarita or a Caiparinha. But sometimes, undaunted, I grab my shaker, I muddle my lime (I'm really into fru-fru drinks), and I go where no bartender has gone before. For example, today's following an old Serbian urge, I mixed a Vodka Knockout. The Serbs use different ingredients, but the end result is remarkably similar, a warm fuzzy feeling.

Vodka Knockout

1/2 lime, cut into sixths
2 t sugar
1 oz peach schnapps
2 oz citrus flavored vodka
2 oz pineapple juice
Angostura Bitters

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the lime and sugar. Add ice to the shaker, then add the other spirits and pineapple juice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a large glass.

Did you know that if you eliminate the salt around the rim of a margarita, that you have a heart-healthy beverage? Isn't that a powerful message for personal responsibility? Of course, you can leave the alcohol out of all of these drinks. You'll be drinking a lot of tonic water, cranberry juice, lime juice, and coke. No I don't have a drinking problem. My cabinet is well-stocked. Now, where is my shaker?

Straight Talk Express Derailed

John McCain has publicly stated that he doesn't question Barack Obama's patriotism, but McCain's campaign attacks on Obama over Obama's cancellation of a troop hospital visit in Germany aims to do just that. McCain alleged on Larry King Live (7/28) that "I know that, according to reports, that he [Obama] wanted to bring media people and cameras and his campaign staffers...."

That charge is untrue. In fact, Obama cancelled the hospital visit because the U.S. military at the hospital told Obama that the visit would be viewed as a political visit, and Obama didn't want the visit to have that perception. What has not been widely reported is that Obama visited wounded troops in Iraq.

The Republicans, and McCain's campaign are doing their best to portray the cancellation of the hospital visit as a big character issue that shows Obama to be nothing but a political animal, that is, he won't do anything if it isn't on camera. John McCain is leading the charge, making the public lie in spite of the facts.

The real question here is who is telling the truth, and who is the political animal? The facts refute John McCain's charges, but he keeps lying to the American people, and questioning Barack Obama's character. John McCain's Straight Talk Express is off the tracks and in the mud. His attempts at character assassination are the worst kind of mudslinging. He's attacking Barack Obama's character because he's losing on the issues that really matter to the American people: the economy, medical care, and Iraq.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This President Disgusts Me

Today, the Washington Post published an article about how political operatives of the President politicized the appointment process of U.S. Attorneys and Immigration Judges. I read this story, and was disgusted. The President and his cronies seem to think that the weight of the law applies to terrorists, but not to their own dismantling and subversion of our justice system. These evil people hold themselves to a completely different standard than everyone else. They think they are beyond the reach and judgment of the rest of us.

Monica Goodling and D. Kyle Sampson should be criminally prosecuted for what they did. It appears from evidence and witnesses within the Department of Justice that these two knew that they were breaking the law. Former attorney general Alberto Gonzalez claims that he had no idea (or maybe he forgot!) that this kind of criminal activity was going on. This administration knows no principle of accountability. It makes no apologies for engaging in criminal activity.

In other blog entries, I've advocated the impeachment of the President. Nothing that was printed in the Washington Post today has changed my mind. This man, his vice president and his coterie have got to go, the sooner the better. I really think that January 20 is too late.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Things Go Bump in the Night

Mikey came over last night. It had been about four months since I had seen him. We had a delightful evening.

He and I met about six months ago on ManHunt. He is much younger than I, so I did not even notice him until he emailed me online one evening in February. As a rule, I don't look at profiles of guys whose age divided into mine yields two and a remainder. We met up, then saw each other a couple of times after that. In the spring, he moved away and left a wistful memory in his wake.

He was in the neighborhood last night visiting (in his words) his parental units. I answered the door, and he had a very bright smile on his face that pretty much flooded the hallway with its brilliance. Don't get me wrong. I'm not worshipping youth or beauty in that last statement. It's simply the truth, he had this bouncy, happy, excited look that was infectious, and I'm certain that I was also smiling and quite happy to have him pay a gentleman's call to my door.

He wore me out. I slept well last night, smiling. What I enjoy most, though, is the connection with Mike who lives in a totally different world. When I catch up with him I get to glimpse this twenty-something world that is alien, fast-paced, and social - full of cultural references about which I'm clueless. I'm guilty of indulging myself in the vicarious thrills of listening to his story and thinking, "I remember when...." I bite my tongue. I wouldn't want Mikey to think I'm an old man.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The "Barbeque" was Fabulous

At least, I'm going to claim it was barbeque (even though it was technically a cookout). About 20 guys showed up with lots of food, and everyone seemed to have a good time. I enjoy hosting these parties but I'm glad I have Sunday to recover.

Tim came over a couple of hours before the party began to put finishing touches on the preparations. Every time we'd get finished with something, I'd remember one more thing that had to be done. Tim was very gracious and cheerful, and has plenty of experience dealing with a very blond Happy.

Guest started arriving in significant numbers around 4:30. As always, they gathered in the kitchen. I started the charcoal in the grill, and about ten after five started throwing the meat on. Jim offered to help, and Jim's Tim rolled his eyes and came along to supervise. It turned out that Jim and Tim were quite the culinary team, and never were there more perfect hamburgers or sausages (as well as the Korean short ribs that Charley brought along). Such excellent help these days!

We had the sailors in the kitchen, the intellectuals in the living room, and the hungry boys (mainly square dancers) downstairs waiting for meat to come off the grill. The evening had a very interest social ecology going on, with guys moving from group to group, but each group maintaining a lot of its own integrity throughout the evening. The great coming together was over the dining room table, and most guests made multiple trips to the spread, all the while being very social, so that everyone pretty much had an opportunity to talk with everyone else.

The cleanup was quick after the last reveler left, and I was in bed watching South Park shortly thereafter.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

News (or Lack Thereof)...

Today is a bright summer day here in Wheaton, just outside our Nation's Federal City. Ron is in Memphis visiting his mother. I am here at home getting ready for a cookout this afternoon. The cookout started as a joke from Tim who said, why don't you have a cookout next weekend? I sent out the invites, and quickly friends, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends indicated that they would be attending. I'm making Happy's Famous Potato Salad, and I'm doing some cursory cleaning. I still need to mop the kitchen floor and sweep off the back patio. I feel so domestic today.

Ron sends his greetings to all of you. Just for your information, he recovered from his tick fever incident and has gone to even greater success. I hope he's checking for ticks in Memphis. I understand those urban ticks can have a real mean attitude, nothing like those hospitable (even lovable!) western Rocky Mountain ticks. Ron's big project for the summer has been to keep the ants under control. Wheaton had a very wet spring, and ants have decided they like our home, too. Ron put ant traps on the shopping list, and last week, he struck back. After surveying the kitchen battle zone, he strategically placed the traps in ant-friendly places. I've seen a few ants since then, but their numbers have greatly diminished.

I guess you all know that my sister Grace and I were in Cleveland three weeks ago at the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs annual convention. I have a new name. Many dancers at the convention now call me, "Grace's Brother." It is a worthy and wonderful honorific. Since everyone else calls me "Happy" or "Doodle," Grace also has a new name, "Big Cheez Doodle." Grace roomed with another straight woman from my square dance club. The two of them, and a third straight woman had dinner with Tim and me on the last day of the convention. It was vastly interesting and amusing to hear about the differences between straight square dancing and gay square dancing. Tim and I had a jolly time listening. Juanita and Tonja had definite opinions about the style of dancing, the jokes that callers tell, and the culture difference between the two square dance worlds. I wish I were a sociologist.

Also in Cleveland, I attended a callers school to learn how to call square dancing. It was about the most intense learning experience I've had in many years. It's a little daunting, and I don't have the filler patter that makes my calling smooth, but I've been working on putting together call sequences, and I've called a couple of tips at convention and here in my home club. I've decided I want to be a competent caller so that's my next career (just kidding!) I guess. I've also had a couple of aha experiences about square dancing. It's a dance form that is in danger of disappearing. It's the type of activity that is fun for a group. It brings people together. It's physical. And I'm coming to think I want to do my part of encourage it and to keep it on the American Folk Scene.

After Cleveland, Ron and I spent a week at gay summer camp. It was hot and humid and no air conditioning. But the afternoon cocktail hour made up for a lot of deficiencies. Each cocktail hour had a theme, and the best-dressed camper won fifty dollars. Ron is a couturier of some merit - he won $100 over the course of the week. He looked fabulous. One evening I lead the Doodle family to victory in a Family Feud contest. We were remarkable, and again, it was Ron who clinched victory out of the jaws of defeat. His intimate knowledge of late night television saved us.

Odds and Ends: For those of you who know Perry, the neighbor who lives across the way. He and his cat are doing well. Yesterday the roofers came and installed a brand new roof and shutters. Perry was following our fine example, and used the same roofing company. Ah, life is so sweet in Wheaton! For those of you who know Brian, the guy who lived in our basement for five months three years ago, he came over, and we went out to a new Thai restaurant in the neighborhood. The pad thai was marvelous, and the cashew chicken had a nice spicy kick to it. I hadn't talked with Brian for months, and we had a delightful evening catching up with each other. He's a computer geek and voice teacher. I'm probably going to take some lessons with him for my square dance calling. It's wonderful to get together with old friends.

To end this epistle, I'm starting a square dance troupe. I have some excited dancers, and all I need to do is find a caller and a choreographer, and some rehearsal space. The club I dance with, DC Lambda Squares, often gets requests for dance demos, and they are usually pulled together at the last moment. So I thought, maybe we need a group of dancers who are ready to go dance. We had our first meeting, and we want to incorporate different dance forms within the traditional square dance idiom. It's exciting and a little daunting, but maybe you'll see us on YouTube someday.

It's a good thing I retired!

Friday, July 25, 2008

National Harbor

Tim and I went on an adventure today to National Harbor next to the Wilson Bridge in Prince Georges County, MD. We took the Beltway to the Baltimore/Washington Parkway, then drove down the Parkway to I-295, which ends just before the National Harbor. The trip takes about 40 minutes from Wheaton.

The National Harbor is a brand new development across the Potomac river slightly south and east of Alexandria and north of Mount Vernon. It's a full-blown convention center, marina, and tourist trap all rolled into one. When the dust settles on all of the construction, the National Harbor may be an actual tourist destination.

Tim and I checked out the piers and the marina. State flags whip in the breeze along the promenade. There were no huge crowds today, but I think that will be different a year from now. It has a lot of upscale shops and some upscale hotels including a Westin and a Marriott, as well as a Hampton Inn. We walked into the Gaylord Convention Center. I like the look of the building. It's meant to impress and overwhelm. The center has a huge atrium, a glassed-in wonder. It also has a couple of restaurants as well as its own hotel.

Convention crowds crowded us out of the convention center restaurants, so we headed over to the Westin. The Westin has a nice California design to it, modern, lots of wood accents, and eclectic. We ate at the hotel's restaurant, Sauciety. The service was spotty, the food was good but not special; however, the appetizer dips served with breadsticks were delicious. The menu is limited, and the restaurant was out of several menu items. In spite of that, the view is fabulous and I always enjoy Tim's company at lunch. I think I'll check back in a year or so to see if all the kinks are worked out.

So that's Happy's Great Adventure. I'll be back. I love the water, and the view of the river is nice. Maybe I'll find a weekend package at one of the hotels, and explore Washington's newest.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

False Advertising

I'm guilty of false advertising, no not on my ManHunt profile, on my Evite invitation for Saturday's barbeque. I lied. I told the guys it would be a barbeque. It's not! It's only a cookout, and I betcha that they won't even notice!

Oh, there will be plenty of beef and pork products. And for the delicate or environmentally inclined (or just diet conscious), I'm featuring veggie burgers. I love shopping for these things. So much stuff I can buy in the store! I'm excited about this picnic. And guys just keep on responding to the invitation. I'm looking forward to this. It features a mix of dancers, sailors, old flames, and men that I do not know.

Of course, I dragged Tim and Perry into this, too. Tim's coming over to help me set up, and Perry doesn't know it yet, but he's going to be an official hostess, since Ron isn't available to fill that role. Besides, Perry's bringing dessert, possibly the most important part of a cookout.

So why did I advertise this thing as a barbeque? I think that in my addled brain I confused cookout with barbeque, and I plainly know the difference. Well, you can fake it somewhat by adding obnoxious barbeque sauce to the meat while cooking it, but it ain't barbeque just because it has sauce. Any Idaho Country Farmboy can tell you that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stop the Madness!

One of my friends has just discovered thespianism, and it has proceeded to take over his life. He eats thespianism, drinks thespianism, and meets fellow thespians several times a week to talk, rehearse, and just hang out. His life has new passion, new friends, and it's like everything is new again; he sees his world in a different way.

So what does this have to do with me? I'm discovering that my commitment to square dancing borders on the same kind of obsession. Yesterday, I spent three hours working on square dance sequences, two hours reviewing Challenge 1 definitions, and another two hours dancing. That's nearly a full-time job. Ron thinks I have Compulsive Dance Disorder (CDD), while Tim think that my behavior is rational and perfectly normal.

I believe that CDD has given me more empathy to sufferers from related maladies. Anytime one experiences a true life-changing experience, the resulting changes do border on compulsions - to learn more, to experience the change more deeply, to recontextualize one's life around the change. This usually disrupts sleeping, eating, and work schedules.

Do you have a passion? Did it radically reconstruct your life? Were you touched and moved in ways that turned a drab existence into a colorful, rich journey that brings purpose, resolve, and joy to your life? If you haven't discovered a passion, the day is not too late. If you're a driven, joyful person engaged on an exciting journey to a new place, you're one lucky person!

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's been too long...

I'm seriously thinking of retiring this blog, and just putting everything in Doodle Today. I suppose I should just go ahead and do that, but I like this blog, too. In my mind I can clearly separate the mission and content of both blogs, but when I get to writing a blog entry, both blogs sound pretty much the same. I haven't done a very good job of brand differentiation.

And maybe I don't want to. I've enjoyed having both blogs (as well as the other two or three that I write) because they mean something very personal to me. It is not easy for me to write in one of my blogs on a consistent basis, but I have been doing that now for about a year. For me, that's a big achievement.

So I probably won't retire this blog anytime soon, and it probably will continue to look at lot like Doodle Today, its evil twin. I can't even remember why I started Doodle Today, but it took off, and this blog languished. Maybe I should aspire for two blog entries each day, one in each blog.

Actually, what I really want to do is to have a blog that full of nothing but salacious, pornographic sex and irresponsible rhetoric about Republicans prostituting themselves to corrupt corporations while screwing over the American public. I'd also devote a few (well, more than a few) entries to twinks who want to get done often and keep begging for more. But that sounds like a bunch of Republicans, too.

Church Ladies

The backbone of religious America is the faith of its women. I'm sure this is what Todd had in mind when he got out of his car, waved at us, and shouted, "Hey Girls!" I attended a faith community yesterday, the Pioneer Day Picnic sponsored by Affirmation, the officially apostate group that provides a safe place and a needed voice for Lesbians, Gay Men, Transsexuals, Bisexuals, Queer and Questioning, and their Families, Friends, and Neighbors (LGMTBQQtFFN) who are part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) universe. Affirmation has an inclusive mandate.

The picnic featured more than dogs and potato salad. Affirmation recently requested a meeting with LDS authorities, and Affirmation leaders will be meeting with church officials on August 11. Dave and Olin asked the rest of us what message they should take to church officials. We talked about it for the next hour and a half, while eating our dogs and potato salad. Several of the men recounted some of their own stories. Apparently, I'm the furthest out of the church. Several of the men remain members in their wards, and some are active members. But trouble is brewing in Zion.

The men at the picnic were seriously concerned about the church's letter that was read over the pulpit to California congregations about the referendum to overturn gay marriage in California. The letter appears dishonest, in that it talks more about the sanctity of family, rather than about the actual substance of the referendum: gay marriage. The church is diverting attention from the real issue of the referendum.

What still puzzles me about the church is its need to stamp out any diverse opinion or thought in the church. I have to ask, why is the church leadership so concerned about homosexuality? It's only a big issue because the church, and other denominations make it a big deal. Even the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Book of Mormon really have nothing to say about homosexuality as it is practiced in America today. It's more like the church uses the issue as a hammer to keep people in line.

This hammering is painful. It takes a toll on individual members of the church, on their families and wards, and on the doctrine of the church. I pray that church leaders comprehend in their hearts and in their Courts of Love that taking action to remove gay people from the church is not a loving act, but is an attempt to rob gay people of their spiritual birthright, and to deny gay people the legitimacy of their spiritual life with their Heavenly Father. In fact, these hateful acts of these Courts of Love are sinful in that their excommunications effectively harm the relationship that gay people have with their Heavenly Father.

Of course, the toll goes far beyond the individual. Every gay person grows up in a family. The stigma of homosexuality in the church is very sticky and gets applied to family and friends. The sense of isolation and abandonment are great. Families feel forced to forsake their family member or to act against the church. And what's more perverse is that this is done in the name of Love - Hate the sin, love the sinner. I have news for church leaders, it's really hate the sin, hate the sinner.

And danger runs deep. Many gay church members contemplate suicide, and more than a few follow through on their resolve. Their blood is on a church that cannot reconcile its gay sons and daughters, and that blood is on the head of a leadership that refuses to recognize the problem and do something about it. Their blood cries out as a testimony about the failed mission of the church's broken dialogue with its gay members.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Okay, it's cute. Wall-E is another adorable Disney/Pixar film that has a lovable lead and some positively startling animation. I'm not going to spoil the story, so you can read this review with confidence that I won't reveal the ending, except to say that love conquers all.

Even though this is a kiddie flick, I believe that the story should have presented a clearer, more factual vision of the future on which the movie is premised. This movie is science fiction, but it's important to present that fiction in a plausible way, and certainly within this love story, the narrative could have included a lot more science, and a lot less implausible unscientific crap that many a six or eight year-old will carry into school. In fact, the woeful state of our education system is such that many of the adults viewing the film won't know the fact from the fiction.

Here are some of the biggest bloopers: Scraps of sheets of paper are blowing in the wind. Consider that hundreds of years after earth has been abandoned, where is all of this paper coming from? Within weeks of abandonment, this paper would begin to break down and be absorbed into the environment. I don't think the bacteria that break down organic material are going to disappear.

There's that pesky cockroach. It's alive and well. How come the robot from the mother ship didn't detect it? Presumably, the robot was looking for DNA, and the cockroach is full of that.

How did the plant that the robot ultimately discover survive in what looks like a refrigerator all these (700) years? That same plant gets thrown outside a space hatch into the cold vastness of outer space, but it continues to survive. All I can say is, "Kids, don't try this at home, or on the space shuttle."

Perhaps the most disturbing scene for me was the space ship disgorging its waste into space. Mind you, this ship had been out in space for 700 years, but was profligately discarding "waste" rather than recycling everything. After all, that space ship is a closed system, and discarding anything means that it has less to work with. That Waste Chute should have been relabled "Recycling Chute."

Okay, there's a hyper-jump in there, too, but we've seen that on Star Trek. I liked the scenes of outer space. They captured on the screen its vastness and beauty. I enjoyed Wall-E's ride into space. Again, it's improbable, but the plucky little robot held on for the ride, and for true love. I was disappointed in his love interest. She wasn't nearly as lovable and endearing as that hardworking, trash-hauling, bighearted, bug-eyed Wall-E. You gotta love 'im!

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's all about Dump Trucks

I was on my way over to Tim's this morning to exchange some bodily fluids. At Norbeck Road, I saw this dump truck branded with "AccuBio". It all seems like a strange juxtaposition: dump truck, accu(rate?), and bio(graphy, ology, nic?). I did a Google search on "AccuBio" and "Accu Bio." It didn't net me very much. It's all a mystery to me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Humble Pie

I'm rethinking about how I think about square dancing. I was at gay nude summer camp, and it always features (what I ironically think of as) square dancing. I attend the "square dancing", because I'm almost always needed to fill out the square, or to help the caller. In past years, I've hated this activity because it doesn't challenge me, and these guys have been dancing the same fifteen calls for the last fifteen years. They dance badly, they don't know right from left, and they have no sense of rhythm. I had a bad martyr complex.

I wanted these guys to have a different experience. I wanted them to learn some more calls, to dance to the beat, to get more proficient. In short, I wanted them to learn how to square dance and all they wanted to do is get out on the floor and dance.

I realized this about the second night of dancing, and I changed my bad attitude, and ended up having an enjoyable time dancing with the other guys. Was it challenging me? No. Was it building my skills? No. Instead, I was dancing to be sociable. I was enjoying the experience for what it was: dancing with friends.

Last night I was over at Kent's talking about our square dance convention that's coming to town next year. Our conversation drifted off, and Kent asked me if I had heard of ABC Square Dancing. ABC square dancing offers a very restricted list of calls that can be easily learned in a very short period of time while dancers are dancing. It's very similar to the dancing I was doing at camp: it gets people on to the floor to dance, and they begin dancing immediately.

There is a special joy in dancing, body movement, music, and rhythm, and you don't have to learn the whole Mainstream, Plus, or Advanced program to appreciate it, and derive a lot of happiness from the experience of dance and from the people you dance with. Maybe I've come so far in my dancing that I've forgotten the simple joy that it is. In any case, you don't have to know how to square dance to square dance. You just need a caller and a group of people who know just enough to really have a lot of fun.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Navel Gazing

I trimmed the hair around my navel. Do straight men clip hair in their hidden places, places that get covered up by shirts, pants, and other apparel? I figure I keep the hair on the top of my head and on my chin trimmed, so it doesn't seem too odd that I would trim other hairy parts.

I hadn't done a thorough trim job in several weeks, so today seemed like a good time to do it, and I actually enjoy shaving off the hair. After the week with a couple of hundred gay men, I know how unruly a long tangled thicket of crotch hair looks, not tasteful at all! The hair on my chest was beginning to get in the way, too, this from a guy who had no hair on his chest until he was nearly forty. Well, the hair is growing, and spreading, too. Eyebrows, don't forget the eyebrows. I used a comb and some barber scissors to trim them back; no Andy Rooney look here.

It never seems to end. Hairiness is a continuing maintenance issue. Understand that I don't mind hairy men at all; in fact the furry touch can be very comforting. I think it was my breeding - I'm striving for just the right amount of hair for me: not too much on my head, enough on my chest so that I don't look like I was born yesterday, some swirls across my stomach, because I really enjoy furry stomachs, and a well-trimmed bush because I don't want my penis to get overheated when I go out in the summer sun.

All of these observations bring me back to my original question about straight men and hair grooming. Some guys at the gym are pretty unkempt, but I've seen some very fastidious guys there, too, and I'm pretty sure that these guys are not on my team. I suspect lady friends in their lives influence their hair choices. I'm guessing that straight guys probably don't trim their pubic or chest hair, unless they are extremely hairy. They are probably even less inclined to shave their scrotums or places south. I don't shave there for looks, I just like the feel of it. I don't talk to straight men about these things, but I'm very curious.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm Back in Wheaton

Ron and I drove back from Camp Ramblewood this morning, getting back home shortly after noon. It's good to be back home after fourteen days away. I'm doing lots of laundry.

I had a good time at the gathering. Both of us have decided to go back next year. I really didn't do a lot at camp except square dance every evening. I hung out with one of the dancers, and he and I usually hit the disco, the Play Cabin, and the campfire after square dancing. So I was usually getting back to my cabin about 2:30 or 3 a.m., which might explain why I was feeling like a zombie part of the time.

I helped out with keeping the various coolers full of sodas, water, and beer. One of the board members and I went around every morning restocking, and then today we went around gathering up all that was left in the coolers. It took an hour or less in the morning, and it was one of those little jobs that makes a big difference in how people enjoy the gathering. I enjoyed the time with the board member. We had some interesting discussions about life, cosmic stuff that you can talk about this year, then bring it up again next year.

Oh, and yes, I did play around with a couple of the other guys. I had been hanging out around the massage room, waiting for one of the other campers, when two of the guys hauled me off to the Play Cabin yesterday morning. They touched my inner being in a thoughtful, efficient, and thorough manner that left me and them sweaty, sticky, and satisfied, at least for the moment. I'm pretty certain, I'll be seeing more of those two next year, too, at least that's what they told me. That's what friends are for.

Finally, two men from my past were also at camp. Brian's ex, Jim, attended with his partner, Tim. It was very nice seeing Jim again. Ron and I hadn't seen him for several years. I also was happy to meet Tim. Certainly, other campers enjoyed meeting Jim and Tim, too. Jim's as bubbly and fun as ever. Tim's a little shy, but he'll get used to us....

The other blast from the past was Bruce. I knew him when I lived in Richland, Washington, twenty-seven years ago. We picked up where we left off a quarter century ago. From what I could see, Bruce definitely made an impression on several campers, and he went home with some memorable experiences. I hope he can wipe the smile off of his face.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday at Camp

The new meat arrived yesterday afternoon. I have heard a lot of interesting conjecture (DIRT) at the pool about some of the recent arrivals. Is the young fellow who is pushing the elderly gentleman in the wheelchair a nurse or boyfriend? He did not appreciate me talking to his companion. The Bigg Dogg here turns out to be a complete pussy bottom - likes to bareback hhhmmmmm. Which S&M top savaged an engaging DC consultant's hole last night in the "Play" cabin?

We again had twelve guys out for square dancing. John gave me an opportunity to call, and I' m very grateful for that. I'm working on some additional sequences foe tonight.

In other news, one of the guys played a CD of a recent piano recital. I'm not much of a music critic, but I enjoy listening to pieces with which I am not familiar. Afterward we had about a 15-minute discussion that helped me better understand both the music and the performance.

The evening show featured a puppiteer, John Foreacker. He had some great jokes and music. His puppets had rather delightful (filthy, really) pottie mouths. The humor did not cause me to pee in my pants - I wasn't wearing any - but there were a few "I can't believe I heard that" moments. We should all be gay.

While I was at the pool this morning, one of the Canadians indicated that he wanted to do more than have polite conversation with me. We left singly, then met at the Play Cabin for an intimate experience punctuated by very impolite conversation. I'm recovering, writing this in my cabin. I think my Mountie could give my proctologist a few tips.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In the Company of Men

I'm at gay nude summer camp. Sometimes I wonder why I come here. For what I'm paying for this week, I could stay two nights in the Omni Shoreham and wouldn't have to worry at all about deer flies, poison ivy, sun stroke, or venereal disease.

Don't get me wrong, the rustic setting has a lot to recommend, including a lake full of pond scum, meatloaf(!), and lots of less-then-Basic square dancing in the buff by the less-then-buffed. I have to admit truthfully that the dancing is emotionally painful, but Curtis, Rick, and John make it much more pleasant.

Of note: Sal is here. I haven't had much opportunity to talk, but he's as handsome as ever. Rick and I were up talking until 3 a.m. I enjoy the friendship

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fun Badge Tour

Tammy Whynot?
Tammy Whynot?

More convention highlights, here. I just got back from the Fun Badge Tour. Tammy Whynot was our guide. She told our bus more about Lois than you would ever want to know. I suspect that Lois was telling her busload some stories about Tammy, as well.

For those of you who don't know, a Fun Badge Tour is when some crazy queens of the host city load up 300 square dancers on buses and take them to "sights of interest" (emphasis added) in the host city. We saw some interesting crumbling neighborhoods along Euclid Avenue, and several examples of rusted manufacturing faded glory. We also got lost somewhere near the lake (Erie) front. These tours always feature high adventure.

The tour featured four stops. The first stop was the aforementioned lakefront park. The Cleveland crew also fed us breakfast (because we left the hotel at 7 a.m.). Tammy provided a lot of rich humor and commentary, mainly about Lois, her topography, and bodily functions. After the park, we bused over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Each of the stops had us clambering out of our motor coaches ("Number Blue, color Blue, if this is not your color, or if you do not recognize the people on this bus, you may be on the wrong bus. Please count the empty seats"). The RaRHoF is an I.M. Pei building, not quite the Louvre, but kinda cool in it's own way. We danced out front to the calling of Anne Uebelacker.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Thinker
The Thinker

After the RaRHof, we headed out to the Cleveland Art Museum, and traveled through some pretty desperate neighborhoods. Parts of Cleveland have not aged well. Loss of manufacturing jobs has meant the decline of neighborhoods, too. The city is slowly recovering. We danced in front of Rodin's The Thinker at the museum. The statue was damaged by a Weathermen bombing in the 70s, but the museum chose to not restore the sculpture, and it serves as a comment on culture and chaos, not to mention ugly political struggle, violence, etc.

Our final destination was Public Square in front of the hotel. It features a statue of General Moses Cleaveland, who after founding the town, skipped town and died in Boston. The square also has an imposing Civil War memorial.

And that was our tour of Cleveland. I got my Fun Badge Tour dangles and my kerchief. Next year, we'll be touring those monuments in DC.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cleveland, Cleveland!

I finally got out of the hotel yesterday afternoon, that was five days that I was holed up in the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland. I won't have much opportunity to see the city. Strangely (or not), the downtown is dead in the evenings and on weekends, as in nothing happens down here. The setting is like what Washington, DC was when I moved there twenty-five years ago.

The Renaissance is a very nice (Marriott) hotel. It's a large pile of bricks, and has the dowager empress (how appropriate) faded glory feel to it. She's never going to be young again, but she's certainly going to be majestic on her way to obscurity!

The dancing has been fun. Challenge 1 still scares me, but I've been dancing it an hour or so at a time, then going back to Advanced or Plus. That works for me. I've been in meta mode for parts of this convention, trying to pay attention to how things are done, and listening carefully to other dancers to find out what they like and don't like.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I guess I'm now official

Today, I called my first square dance tip at a public dance. Of course, I was nervous, but it really went quite well, according to several people in the audience. I actually enjoyed it, and am already getting ready to register for next year's caller school in Washington, DC.

Caller school was intense, but I'm glad I did it. The school materials provide a wealth of information, and I have the opportunity to work with our club callers. I should be having a busy square dance year between now and next year.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Caller Crazy

Here at GCA Caller School, I've been having a lobotomy performed on me the last couple of days, in addition to heavy doses of caller Kool-Aid, and a couple of Cosmopolitans (we're talking Spin Chain and Exchange the Gear kind). My brain is fried, but I'm understanding a couple of basic notions, that if I applied them, would have me working with basic square dance choreography in fairly short order. I ask myself, though, do I want my life to be taken over by square dancing, doh! it already is!!!

The school has been good. We've all been given some experience behind the mic. I get extremely nervous up there. Dancers shout out, "Happy, smile!" And that probably more than anything else illustrates my angst. I'm shy. Down inside, I don't like to do anything that isn't perfection, so I have a very difficult time practicing in front of other people, because I'm afraid of making an ass out of myself, even though that is perfectly all right. Performance anxiety, here, but I hope to get used to it.

Well, I'll quit complaining. I have some sequences to write before I hit the sack.