Archive for the 'Other People's Stories' Category


A gambler, a pool supplier, and a fashionista walk into a bar …

I am keen to feature a guest post on you blog as it would do wonders for my portfolio. I realized it was time I stopped ghost-writing for others and built an online reputation for myself.

I have received three emails at work pitching stories using this exact (misspelled) phrasing. They are a scam. Or something. Some computer somewhere is churning out these emails and sending them to publishers, or a coach has given scores of would-be writers—fed up with a life of obscurity behind the ghost-writing curtain, desperate for the rush of fresh air in their lungs and the warmth of sunlight on their pale, damp skin—some very bad advice and a poorly written form letter. Continue reading ‘A gambler, a pool supplier, and a fashionista walk into a bar …’


No Matter What

For a months there’s been a documentary in my Netflix queue called For The Bible Tells Me So. More or less, it’s an overview of how the Bible has been misused to denigrate and condemn gays and lesbians (and our abominable ilk) for generations.

I put off watching it because it sounded sort of dry, but last night I gave it a look. It was particularly illuminating, given the recent spate of suicides and the continuing violence and vitriol against the GLBT community.

Plus, it starts with the classic 1977 Anita Bryant pie-in-the-face clip. Who could resist that?

Go, Minneapolis! (And nice jacket, dude!)

The film makes a light examination of about five religious families and how a son or a daughter coming out of the closet has affected them — how both sides reacted to the situation at first and how they’ve gotten on since.

On exhibit are Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson and his family, Dick Gephardt’s lesbian daughter, a lesbian raised by Southern Baptist preachers, a mother whose beliefs lead to a family tragedy (a particularly disturbing and moving story) and activist Jake Reitan and his Lutheran family. Cut into their stories are various commentaries from ministers, preachers, rabbis and doctors on the big-ticket biblical references that get Christian loudmouths so heated up about homosexuality.

What I kept hearing over and over in these coming out stories was how … my parents, my friends, my colleagues, my neighbors love me for who I am, no matter what.

Continue reading ‘No Matter What’


Make It Better

Gays and straights and countless people from the spectrum between are coming out of the woodwork to contribute their voices to the It Gets Better Project. As well-adjusted GLBT folk, we have the power to influence the world around us and the duty to speak up for young people who don’t feel like they have a voice.

It does get better. But anyone can say that. “It gets better” is almost a cliché by now, and a little too simple to say. We have to demonstrate that it gets better or we’re wasting our time. A suicidal kid isn’t going to listen to platitudes. He’s going to want evidence.

With that in mind, a bunch of my colleagues joined up to put this together. These are successful, creative, happy, intelligent people at a gay cable network — in other words, they are all of these things because of homosexuality.

It was inspirational to see so many people wanting to participate, and it was affirming to be surrounded by so much gay (and straight) good will.

(You can see me at about 05:14.)

Bullying doesn’t stop when you grow up. We still have bully neighbors, bully religious leaders, bullies in government, bully coworkers, bullies on TV and radio and online. It doesn’t end. Not yet. But it does get better — because you find the strength and the support and the righteousness and the confidence to push on, live your life.

The best revenge against bullies is our success.


Be Careful What You Promise

This in from the AP: Back in September, when crackpot fame whore Terry Jones was threatening to burn a pile of Qurans, a New Jersey car dealer (and former NY Giant) did a radio ad in which he announced he’d give the Florida preacher the use of a Hyundai off his lot for a year if he backed down.

Apparently he mistook TV news for a game show. Who could blame him, really? So, no sooner had Jones put the lighter fluid away than one of his helpers called up the dealer looking to collect on the offer — under threat of calling him out on “false advertising.”

I guess if it’s in an ad, it must be true… so, a promise is a promise, I guess.

The dealer says he wants nothing to do with Jones — apart from making himself one of the highest-rollers to donate to Dove World Outreach Center, apparently — so he’s telling him to keep the thing. To his PR rep’s delight, Jones has said he’s going to donate the car to an organization that helps abused Muslim women.

I was once offered a car if I would renounce homosexuality. It was a pick-up truck, as I recall. But I stuck to my gay guns and ended up with a great husband. And he has a car. So I guess I’m set.


Telling Tales

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine was recorded for a radio series reading a story he wrote about his exile from southern Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

He’s good at telling stories. Some kind of southern thing, I guess. And he’s earned some renown in the local story slam circuit. In fact, he was on the radio because he was one of a sextet of story slam audience favorites.

My friends and I like to support that sort of thing, so a bunch of us joined him at his apartment on the night of the broadcast.

It was delightfully Golden Age, each of us taking a silent seat wherever we could to listen to a radio in real time. Table lamps cast an amber glow on our expectant faces. There was an old, gray dog curled up on the couch, and it was raining outside. All we were missing was a roaring fireplace and the faint haze of smoldering pipe tobacco. We could have been a pack of kids staying up past our bedtime to catch Gunsmoke on the wireless or to hear what happened last to Little Orphan Annie.

Actually, it was nothing at all like that. We all checked in on Foursquare, and I tweeted throughout the evening. And there was plenty of smoking, but it was all done just outside of the front door. But we did listen to the show on an ancient, crackly radio. The antenna was completely broken off. It leaned against a lamp for vertical support, and naught but gravity held it on its base with the most tenuous of connections. Sharp “s” and “f” sounds came through harsh and distorted. If someone stood too near the radio, we’d lose the signal for a moment. If a footfall shook the floor, the antenna would slip off its perch and the radio would go altogether silent.

It was right near the liquor, so we lost the signal a lot.

Continue reading ‘Telling Tales’


Fear the Schmear

The New York Post can be always be relied upon to deliver the important stories of the day that really make a difference in our harried, overcomplicated lives, such as this nugget about a woman who got tossed out of a Starbucks by the cops after getting into an argument with a barista about the way she was ordering a bagel. (It’s a biggie. It took a team of three reporters to cover it.)

She asked for a “toasted multigrain bagel,” and when the barista asked if she wanted butter or cheese on it, she dug her heels in the dirt and refused to specify or say “neither.” To her way of thinking, there was  no need to use their weird lingo.

“When you go to Burger King,” she told the Post, “you don’t have to list the six things you don’t want.”

No, lady, but when you go to Burger King, you don’t order a flame-grilled quarter-pound hamburger sandwich with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, mustard and ketchup on a sesame seed bun, either. You order a “Whopper.” You use the conventions of the fast-food place you’re in. We all feel like assholes when we order a chalupa, but that’s what Taco Bell calls it. We can’t be responsible for the fool who named it. Just suck it up, and move on. There’s a line behind you.

Continue reading ‘Fear the Schmear’


Sam Clam and Larry Lobster


There’s this joke I love that I heard recently on a public radio podcast, and I love to tell it, but no one ever thinks it’s nearly as funny as I do.

I’m not a great teller of jokes. I tend to improvise too much, I take too long, I mess up the punchline. OK, not funny. But is my new favorite joke itself a stinker, or is it just my lousy telling that clears the room? You decide.

Larry Lobster and Sam Clam are best friends. They do everything together. And they love to dance. So one day they decide to go into business together. They are going to open an underwater disco.

They find the perfect location in a coral reef. They secure their funding, gather their supplies, hire a staff. They begin to advertise. All the fish and mollusks and crustaceans are thrilled that they’ll finally have a place to dance. And Sam Clam and Larry Lobster begin to sense that they’re going to make a killing.

Everything is going perfectly the day of their grand opening. And then Larry Lobster gets caught in a trap and killed.

So Larry Lobster goes to heaven. Saint Peter meets him at the gate.

Continue reading ‘Sam Clam and Larry Lobster’


Going for a Song

A bartender the other day was telling someone a few stools down from me about a regular he served the night before. He was some corporate lawyer drunk who the bartender theorized had a need to subdue his conscience with booze.

“It doesn’t work, but he has fun trying,” he said. And they all laughed.

“You can tell when he’s wasted because he reads the closed captioning.” He gestured toward the TVs stationed behind the bar. “He sings it. He sings the closed captioning.”

I looked up at the television sets. Words scrolled, line by line, disappearing up into a netherworld of text. It just keeps coming and coming, with spelling errors, with missing words, missing phrases. Sometimes it’s just gibberish for a few seconds until something, a computer or a human, catches up.

“He always said the closed captioning looked like Morrissey lyrics,” continued the bartender.

Well, I’m not sure if this says more about the lawyer or about Morrissey.


You Better Work

Start with a strong-woman ensemble piece like the 1980 film 9 to 5. Add music written by gay-fave country diva Dolly Parton. Throw in an orchestra, some sequins and a bit of razzle-dazzle, and you should have a recipe for a little slice of gay heaven.

9 to 5: The Musical,” which opened at New York’s Marriott Marquis Theater last night, comes pretty close.



If You Were In My Movie

If there was ever a movie just screaming to be remade, it is Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Just get a load of the synopsis on Netflix:

After her betrothed died from multiple ax wounds 40 years ago, everyone in town thought Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis) was guilty. But with no evidence to convict her, she walked. Since that time, holed up in a crumbling Southern mansion with her devoted servant (Agnes Moorehead), Charlotte’s been a recluse. But when an ambitious cousin (Olivia de Havilland) comes along to get her hands on the plantation, Charlotte has to defend herself.

It is irresistible.

And check out the trailer:

Magnificent. Thunder and lightning! A shameful affair with a married man! Bloody murder! A madwoman hiding away in a decaying mansion! Shattered glass!

Agnes Moorehead is marvelous as the loyal maid with suspicious motives. (I had only ever seen her as Endora on Bewitched, a role I see now she was clearly overqualified to play, but apparently her masterful if not subtle turn in Charlotte is nothing unusual for her.)

Olivia DeHavilland is the perfect villain, a charming and respected city slicker career woman, and eternally jealous.

And of course the inimitable Bette Davis, well into the creepy autumn of her career, is still on top of her game, capable of both the most grotesqueoverreaction and the highest subtlety of movement. Through most of the film, she (actress and character) is a sad case, in an almost humiliating role, getting slapped around and tricked into madness by the people she trusts most. But she utterly carries the climax of the film and has such a satisfying triumph, that all the cliches of mid-’60s psychological melodrama are enthusiastially forgiven.

A remake of this movie with a slightly modernized point of view could be something really dark and gorgeous. So I got to thinking: Hey — fun party game! Load up on mint juleps, pop in Bette Davis’ cultish masterpiece, and go around the room asking everyone who would play each of the characters if the movie were to be remade today.

My picks:
Charlotte Hollis, the protaginist, a recluse, mad with grief after the brutal murder of her married lover 40 years prior. Did she kill him? Did her overprotective father?
Original: Bette Davis
Remake: Susan Sarandon or Sigourney Weaver

Miriam Deering, the jealous cousin with a long memory and a deep grudge, the outsider, the villain.
Original: Olivia de Havilland
Remake: Annette Bening or Marcia Gay Harden

Drew Bayliss, Charlotte’s cousin and trusted doctor — a little too eager to pump her full of sedatives.
Orignal: Joseph Cotten
Remake: Billy Bob Thornton

Velma Cruther, the faithful servant, looking out for Miss Charlotte’s best interests ’til the tragic end.
Original: Agnes Moorehead
Remake: Shirley Maclaine

Harry, a charming, snooping British writer investigating the true story behind Charlotte’s legend.
Original: Cecil Kellaway
Remake: Ian McKellen or Michael Caine

Big Sam, Charlotte’s papa, who sets off this whole murder business in the opening scene.
Original: Victor Buono (Anyone remember him as King Tut in the 1960s Batman series?)
Remake: Tommy Lee Jones

Jewel Mayhew, the wronged widow with the shocking secret around which the entire story turns.
Original: Mary Astor
Remake: Meryl Streep

Luke Standish, the sympathetic sheriff who has been humoring the presumed murderess for far too long.
Original: Wesley Addy
Remake: Peter Coyote (who else?) or maybe, if you want more quirk, Johnny Depp

John Mayhew, Charlotte’s unlucky lover, who gets hacked to pieces early on. (We just need someone forgettable and disposable.)
Original: Bruce Dern
Remake: Keanu Reeves

the untallied hours