72-81-72-65

The title is the ages of each actress in the promo pic for the movie Book Club above.

I went to see it the other day to escape a harsh reality that had crashed down on my Facebook world. Briefly, a friend and former colleague shared a story of an idyllic vacation day he and his wife had recently shared.

Recently, like within the previous two days.

“This has been the best day of my life”, she said.

24 hours later, she had killed herself.

Needless to say, I was shaken by proxy. I literally could not imagine what this family was experiencing.

A loving relationship.

Kids.

Financial security.

Exotic vacations.

But you just never can tell. That’s what shook me up. Well, that and comparing what she leaves behind to what I have…which is super not healthy.

So, I needed an escape.

Book Club was a pretty good lever to pull for that need.

I surveyed the small theater for a quasi-isolated seat near the middle rows and noticed that there were groups on each end of the middle rows. I didn’t want to crowd anyone, nor risk having to walk over people if I needed a bathroom bug out mid-movie, so I planted myself at the near end of the second row of seats.

You know why I mention this?

Yeah, you know.

The three rows behind me as well as the row in front of me were all empty. The lady that walked in after me decided not to risk isolating herself in that vast wasteland of open seating and dropped her girthiness right behind me. I could sense her presence, but being a giver, she decided to make her presence known and announced herself by kicking the back of my chair a few times.

C’mon, lady.

I decamp to the far end of my row, which I hate doing because it’s so obvious, but having this woman kick my seat every time she repositioned herself was not my idea of a relaxing time. Five minutes after the lights went down, three friends joined her. I understood the why of her choice of seats, but was glad I’d decided to move!

It was a bit challenging at first. The characters are in their mid to late 60s and that is obviously not the reality. The other thing that I thought I noticed – and it distracted me, initially – was the random use of green screen. Maybe I was wrong about it, but some of the vistas just looked more real than the action taking place in the foreground.

Obviously, I was having some trouble getting out of my head.

But before me on the screen were four actresses that I love. It didn’t take me too long to relax into the story. The popcorn helped get me there…

My last thought before really sinking in was particularly amusing. The small crowd had laughed at something, I didn’t remember what…just became aware of the suddenness and cohesiveness of the crowd laughing.

I had not.

The sound I heard was decidedly feminine, prompting me to turn and scan the theater’s crowd.

Women.

100%.

I was the only guy.

This made me laugh.

Out loud.

When no one else was laughing.

Which made me laugh more, and soon I was laughing through tears.

The thing that got me laughing wasn’t the realization that I was the only guy in the theater, rather the juxtaposition of that observation compared to the crowd composition of the last movies I’d seen.

Deadpool 2.

Infinity War.

Very heavily skewed toward a male crowd. This was a refreshing change of energy. Plus, when I’m in a nerd movie crowd, I usually joke to myself about how I might be the only non-virgin person in the crowd. Or, at the very least, the only one currently having sex.

I didn’t experience that same snarky thought about this group of women while I laughed at my realization. Thinking back to that moment, it wasn’t intentional, it’s just that getting laid isn’t the modus operandi for women like it is for men.

Right?

Yeah…I knew what this movie was about. I’d seen the trailer. So, I think my crowd profiling amusement just ended up making the film that much more enjoyable for me.

Soon, my laughter was in sync with the rest of the crowd. My disbelief was suspended and my reality was expelled for the next 90 minutes.

Star Trek or Wars.

Thrillers.

Superhero stories.

Murder mysteries.

Those are the movies I typically go in for.

But I freely admit – when it comes up – that a good chick flick is also a movie experience that I really enjoy.

Under the Tuscan Sun.

When Harry Met Sally.

13 Going on 30 – what? It wS good!

That type of thing. None of those How to Lose a Guy In Ten Days stories fall into the good category for me. They are good popcorn movies, but what’s the real bigger picture message?

This movie was definitely not a classic chick flick. As a matter of fact, the Silver Fox had asked if I wanted to see it and I knew he’d be miffed that I went without him. I dodged that bullet by telling him to wait til it hit Netflix.

That said…I did enjoy this movie. It had a message. Not only was it a chance to see some of my favorite actresses, but a chance to see them together. Also, it gave each of them a fun storyline with a solid arc as they rediscovered their sexuality at a time in life where society tells us it should be retired.

To paraphrase what Candy hilariously observes in the trailer, “If nature wanted us to have sex at this point in our lives she wouldn’t do what she does to our bodies”…smash cut to her crawling out of the backseat of her Mercedes with Richard Dreyfus. If this movie helps redefine sexual equality for supposed sixty-somethings, I’m all in. There’s a movement I can support. I just wish it could have been written with Age Pride intact and had Fonda proudly owning her octogenarian sexuality.

To Candy’s point, our bodies as they age fall further and further from the Hollywood standard of beauty. More openly sex positive seniors could help redefine that norm and hopefully awaken our culture to something more inclusive of all and less divisive across generations.

And maybe, just maybe…that gives us all a little something more to look forward to when things today look impossibly dark.

Think anyone would get mad if they hash tagged this as #UsToo?

Get it, girls!

72-81-72-65

Otherwise It’s Just A Bunch of Thursdays Strung Together

So, a couple months back, I was re-watching Rumor Has It, the “sequel” to The Graduate starring Jennifer Aniston with Kevin Costner playing the “real life” version of the college student who was seduced by Shirley MacLaine’s “real life” Mrs Robinson.

Ok, that sentence made my brain hurt.

Just watch the movie if you’re at all curious. It’s worthwhile entertainment. Plus, I love overly complex Dramedy plots. This definitely fits that bill.

In the movie, Kevin Costner compares taking risks in life to fully living a life by dismissing a life without said risk as “just a bunch of Thursdays strung together”.

Ok…that’s a fair point.

However, coming from Costner’s middle-aged millionaire playboy, it is also a cautionary tale.

Take it from someone whose life is essentially a cascading series of Saturday night closing times…

I get the appeal of “taking off for Paris at a moment’s notice” or even just turning a spontaneous dinner into a night on the town and then getting a hotel room to end the night on a responsible and fun note. If you’re a millionaire playboy, I even get that dinner involving a private jet.

However, I think too much of our cultural focus as Americans is invested in the pursuit of those playboy millionaire and Mrs Robinson moments versus pursuing meaningful and lasting relationships. “Too much” being tantamount to losing focus on what a real adult relationship looks like.

So, while I can appreciate the spontaneous humor of a Dramedy like this sorta-sequel to The Graduate, I can also really own the fact that I’m the former (sans) millionaire playboy status sitting alone on his couch watching this movie alone while his murderous feline circles waiting for me to nod off so she can eat my lips. Viewed through that filter, I’d take fewer Saturday night closing times and a bunch more strung together Thursdays – although I’d prefer to spend those Thursdays with a friendlier feline.

Otherwise It’s Just A Bunch of Thursdays Strung Together

The Red Shirt Diaries #20

I get random texts from friends when something reminds them of me. That’s sweet, right? Until you factor in that what usually makes them think of me is usually something Siegfried and Roy would slowly back away from.

My friends know my feline relationship.

Read: peril.

I get asked every couple of months why I keep her if she’s that crazy-slash-mean-slash-bloodthirsty.

The answer is pretty easy, I chose her. That’s a commitment. It’s one that her first three homes failed to honor in the first 18 months of her life and part of why I think she’s so…weird.

The other part is just tortitude…torties are fairly famous for their antisocial behaviors.

Well, and then there’s the other other part: I think I can fix broken things.

That’s on me.

Still, she has mellowed over the last two and a half years.

Who can resist a lap nap with a sweet kitty? Even if it’s just a temporary state of sweetness.

My friends get this.

Hence the pictures.

I get a good chuckle out of them.

But, still…I won’t be surprised if I end up dying in a Myrtle Related Incident.

Whether it’s one of her ankle hunting strikes like the above near miss two years ago or a new, unexpected development remains to be seen.

Right meow, my money is on a bathroom mishap.

I moved into a new unit in my building at the first of the year. The old bathroom was shotgun style, long and deep…everything one after the other from the door.

Sink.

Tub.

Toilet.

The new situation is more of a side-by-side deal. Myrtle is usually sitting on the counter, sweetly when I finish showering. She’s like a stoner, staring in amazement at the swirling steam mixed with airborne cat hair riding the heatwaves my shower generates.

In my old bathroom, she did the same, but from the floor since the bathroom counter didn’t offer the same view of this kitty mesmerizing awesome phenomenon. Myrtle thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever done…moving to give her a better view from her sink top perch.

Still, she catches me off guard: a month or so ago, I was removing some uninvited follicular guests by leaning over the counter toward the mirror. She usually rubs up against my belly and chest, adding hair to my shirt as I’m tweezing. This time, I was wrapped in a towel at my waist.

Little bitch bit my nipple.

I’m so not into that.

So, I try to be wary while being realistic. If Myrtle wants to be on the counter, she’s gonna be. Making an issue of it will just piss her off and she’ll still do it…just not while I’m around.

Cats, right?

So, here’s how that wariness manifested into a Red Shirt situation and I potentially end up dead:

Mistress Myrtle used to rub up against my ankles when I got out of my old shower. My friends all pretty much agree that she’s just reapplying her stank.

In the new place, she upgraded.

I was bent at the waist, drying my legs and Myrtle started rubbing her head on my towel dried hair. It rather caught me off guard and I jerked my head up, just missing the counter.

Here’s how this looks:

This has been a daily ritual ever since. I open the shower curtain and she’s sitting there waiting eagerly.

Personally, I think this is a hygiene upgrade for her. She’ll rub her head on mine and then scrub up against the slate style countertops.

It’s cute.

But about once a week, she’ll try to use her claws to tease my hair up into a better rubbing surface for her favorite cat.

Knowing that jerking upward will result in a bleeding scalp, I quickly duck in order to get away from the claws.

Yup.

More near misses, courtesy of the Mistress.

I really see this being some sort of Rube Goldberg type elaborate death.

Myrtle grabs my scalp with her claws.

I duck to avoid, smacking my head on the counter’s edge.

This causes me to jerk upright suddenly.

I lose my balance and overcorrect to remain on my feet.

…and fall backward into the tub.

Maybe the fall kills me, maybe it just paralyzes me and I end up laying there until I expire.

More than likely, I’m immobilized in the tub until Myrtle the Merciful decides ten minutes later that it’s a lost cause and she begins to eat my face.

No use letting a good meal spoil, right Myrt?

The Red Shirt Diaries #20

Indigo Girls

“Well, that can’t be a coincidence”, I thought as a CD title caught my eye in my local Long Beach music store. The album in question was simply titled Indigo Girls. It was on sale, so being a newly-ish minted gay, I bought the CD in a show of solidarity.

My rationale?

Cyndi Lauper talks about it in her 1983 song She Bop…

“Well, I see them every night in tight blue jeans.

On the pages of Blue Boy magazine.”

Blue Boy magazine was a glossy tribute to twink pulchritude. A gay porn magazine, in other words.

Indigo is a shade of blue.

I’ve apparently been jaded forever. But just the right amount. Maybe it’s just in my head that a gender pronoun and shade of blue equals some gay code – indeed, to hear them tell it, they went shopping through the dictionary for words that resonated…indigo struck gold for them for whatever reason – but in my music store, this CD priced at $7 resonated with me.

I’ve been a fan ever since.

I’ve owned every album.

Committed more song lyrics to memory than I thought I had the capacity for.

Lost my shit in the theater when they showed up as extras in Boys On The Side…embarrassing my friends by frantically whispering, “That’s the Indigo Girls!” in the darkened theater.

Seen them in concert in a half dozen cities on two continents..

My favorite performances being their zoo concerts. I’ve seen five zoo shows here in Portland and two more at the zoo in Seattle. The crowds at the concerts used to skew heavily lesbian, given their sexual identities. Once Lilith Fair took the music world by storm and sent female singer/songwriter types on a never before seen trajectory of success, those crowds started to straighten out.

My concert attendance started to fall off then, too. Where I’d always loved the live music experience Indigo Girls concerts provided, it was also a safe environment for me as a gay man…to flirt. Safe, because other guys there were like minded, both in bed and in musical tastes. It was as good a starting point as any for selecting a mate, right?

Never happened.

Matter of fact, the closest I got to an Indigo Girls concert love connection was attending shows for a few years with Sacha. You’d have thought that the Valentines Day show we saw at the Aladdin Theater would have put me off their concerts, but I was a super fan and after that show where Sacha and I argued through the entire thing…well, I started going mostly alone or with girlfriends.

No, what put me off was the intrusion of straight men at the shows. I’d loved the strong female vibe I encountered at their live shows. It was such a safe feeling.

A generous space.

When I looked up at one concert and saw my handful of musically like minded gay men replaced with straight guys who were canoodling through the concert until fuck time…I was done.

Until

A few years back, IG got together with a symphony.

It was crazy.

Rib and I went down to Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle and saw this show. Indigo Girls backed by the Seattle Symphony.

By “crazy”, I mean AWESOME.

Their music lends itself to the process. It’s always featured eclectic instruments, so switching to classic orchestral instruments wasn’t a huge stretch.

The Girls are storytellers, so watching their show always included an intimate glimpse into their music and personalities. My favorite story of this night was the story about the symphony performance itself.

The symphony had been practicing their set independently. The Indigo Girls, of course, had the material down. But they never practiced together until the day of the show!

The Indigo Girls roll into town – I am pretty sure this was before Amy married a girl from Seattle, so she wasn’t a randomly occurring celebrity in town yet – do a couple numbers with the orchestra and then peace out until showtime, hoping for the best.

Why is this anything important to know?

Well, Today I Learned on the Facebook that there was a symphony album coming out. Twenty-two songs, with a video of Galileo to kick it all off.

I.

Was.

Excited.

I watched the video a couple of times. It’s not their best live performance, but I can only take their word for it when they talk about the humbling experience of putting your voice in front of a giant machine like a symphony orchestra.

Viewed through that filter? This is incredible. If nothing else, it elevates the majesty of the stories their songs have always told.

From almost 1990 to almost 2020…these ladies have been and have made an enormous impact on my life. I jokingly say that at the end of my life, my relationship with my cell phone carrier will be the enduring relationship of my lifetime.

Compared to my musical relationship with Indigo Girls (they prefer no article in their band name) and Melissa Etheridge, the more accurate statement would be that the relationship with these two acts shaped the adult gay man that I became and one of the significant relationships of my life.

Interesting recipe, equal parts family, catholic school and music subculture equals…me. What an arc it’s been for us both.

And I can’t wait to hear this album!

Indigo Girls

The Avengers: Redux

I’m sure I’ll be asking myself why I did this to myself again in abut 3 hours. But, in reality, I’m interested not only in finding out if this movie treats my heart like a speed bag the second time around, but also in figuring out why I feel it so strongly.

It’s not just the movie.

We’ll see…give me a few hours and I’ll finish this up.

I like to answer the question, “How was the movie?” by responding, “They all died at the end.”

But holy shit!

By my count, 13 of our beloved superheroes bite it in Infinity War, 15 if you count the superhero “extras” that ash out during the credits. I don’t, since they don’t actually possess super powers or qualify as gods in the Marvel universe. Still, 13…

Holy shit.

The first time seeing this was a late night date night with the Filipina Fox on the Thursday that this movie opened. You can imagine the nerd quotient of the crowd, but she insisted. I joked that she was the only chick in the crowd, which was very nearly true.

Even though I walked out stunned at the movie’s death toll – not just the 13 lost superheroes, but half the population of the universe – I was glad that she insisted!

The exiting crowd was talking about how Marvel could walk back what they’d just witnessed. How some of the ashed supers had sequels with release dates – valid point – and how “Thanos Will Return” at the end of the credits pointed out the sequel/Avengers 4 that would be needed in order to make either of those last two points happen.

Facebook was having a mild meltdown as people started vaguebooking their reaction to the movie.

I knew the feeling. Two days later, I was still stunned as I walked into Thelonious Wines. One of the owners asked what I’d been up to as I sipped my wine and I told her I’d seen the movie. She told me that her friend was in the movie and I thought “extra” until she went on to say that her friend’s Instafeed had been all about the movie for the last few weeks.

“Who is this friend?”, I asked, reassessing my earlier assumption.

As if running one small business wasn’t enough to guarantee that one doesn’t have time to see a movie, the owners of TW were in the endgame of opening a restaurant just a few blocks away, so I was absolutely unsurprised to hear her say that she wasn’t sure what character her friend played, but that her name is Elizabeth Olsen in real life.

Mentally, I took her hand in mine and patted her shoulder with a look of deep sadness.

Outwardly, I just showed her the whites of my eyes all the way around my irises and said, “Oh, yeah…well, I’m not saying anything about anything!”…which is quite out of character for me.

The nerd stampede at the end of the movie was also chock a block full of blaming characters for what happened in the movie, and they were all pretty right with the coulda/woulda/shoulda talk, but that didn’t change anything. It was kinda fun to listen to as we escalated down to street level from the top story theater.

That said, I left the theater today with my own versions of those scenarios. It wasn’t that I was re-writing what I’d just seen out of denial, but was very amused to catch myself thinking, “What was going through Doctor Strange’s mind when he traded his Infinity Stone for Tony Stark’s life?!? I’d only be hadn…”

Who’s the nerd now, Xtopher?

Let’s just call them obvious plot holes, suspend our disbelief and move on, shall we?

I felt like I was able to really follow the 2D version of this second viewing better than the 3D format that I saw originally. While the 3D version gave me an extra jolt during some of the exceptional action scenes, I lost a lot of the minute details in the non-action scenes.

Amusingly, one of those details was Black Panther’s codpiece. Sweet Jesus, I’m not aroused by men who can be described as blessed, but watching Black Panther and his decidedly not little friend kick ass, I found myself thinking, “That right there is why Wakanda needed a protective shield. I know several people who would have stopped at nothing to tame that beast.

By comparison, Thanos – who is a titan, btw – sports a modest package that doesn’t have enough gravity to drag your eyes to it from the actual movie. No wonder he’s so pissed off.

Then again, you know how I enjoy pointing out stereotypes, good or bad. Let’s just say that the stereotypes involving black men (Black Panther) and body builders (Thanos) were both borne out in this case.

When all is said and done, I’m glad I went to see this again. Definitely a good use of my Regal reward points…way better than throwing them away on I Feel Pretty. But I had to face the reality that when my imaginary boyfriend ashed out, I still nearly walked out in protest.

But, back to the original point…why did it affect me so harshly?!?

Here’s what I came up with:

America.

Also, politics.

Why?

Well, in the beginning, we see Loki die. Seriously, like five minutes in. It was shocking and pretty unexpected, but I moved on quickly because even though this character occasionally does the right thing…still, he’s basically a self-serving shitheel so he got what was coming to him.

Then the movie goes about assembling the cast of superheroes for an hour and a half until suddenly, Gomorrah gets killed. Ok, let this sum up how I felt about that little plot development.

I spend the next hour thinking about how it’s so wrong to kill off a good character like that – not to mention a diversity double whammy of an actress since she’s both black and a she – and then wondering if it was a plot point hate crime or equal rights in action…because I live in 2018 Portland, Oregon and we overthink shit like that.

That kept me busy until the last ten minutes of the film where the amount of shit they threw at the fan shorted the fan out.

It was like the 2016 election.

Bernie goes down.

Hillary gets defeated.

Trump wins…and no one can believe it.

And then, when Spidey dies, he improvises everything that Americans felt at the end of the last election cycle. We kinda knew what was ahead of us, something didn’t feel right, we were scared, and we didn’t want to accept the surreality of what lay ahead for us.

That’s why I felt it so hard.

Parallels.

Leaving the theater, I was in denial about the massive devastation I had basically witnessed. It wasn’t the type of parallel that helped reinforce why I enjoy going to movies: the escape from reality that they offer. Listening to the Nerd Squad hypothesize what Avengers 4 would bring us was a lot like listening to the American electorate blaming candidates for the outcome of the last election and then looking forward to how the situation will resolve itself.

My bet?

Avengers 4 shows Thanos getting defeated by Oprah.

Roll credits.

The Avengers: Redux

Too Soon?

Is it too early for me to be experiencing the Dog Days of Summer?

Regardless, it’s been a lazy day here at Chez Galby. So far, I’ve accomplished two things today:

First) Fed and watered the plants, which are angry about the recent Portland sun…curling leaves and droopy blossoms. Quite a protest happening on my balcony.

My plants are so passive-aggressively Portland.

Second) I made my way to Powell’s. I’d been intending to go tomorrow after the weekend crowds died off, but I read about The Samurai’s Garden on a blog I follow and was motivated to go sooner. Even though their inventory thought they had three in stock, none were locatable.

I rewarded myself with the original reason for my trip, so the swarms of people were semi-worth it.

Oh, and the menses (Chrisism) that were there.

Woof, I say.

Isn’t that picture just an OCD nightmare?

Somewhere in there, I managed to feed myself.

Chipotle.

I think I’m done eating for the remainder of my life.

I went into the weekend pretty excited and motivated. I’d been alternating walks/hikes and rides all week and was looking forward to maintaining that through the weekend. Friday was a 10 mile hike and Saturday I completed a 20 mile ride before having drinks in the afternoon with a new friend.

I went to bed excited about seeing Major Barbara tonight with a group of friends. While I was out and about today, we were able to finalize our pre-show meet up.

Show-nanigans, if you will.

Still, a fairly low key day so far when compared to what my intent was for the day. My original list included:

– Completing a mini-workout at home this morning.

– Afternoon hike.

– Dishes.

– Filing my unemployment claim.

– Perusing open jobs.

– Writing.

I got word from the Oregon Unemployment Division last week that my claim was rejected, which I expected from my employer. I wasn’t expecting it from the state itself, though, but am not surprised based on the lemon of a state employee I got to explain my situation to a couple weeks back. Nonetheless, I’ve put in my appeal and am backpedaling on some future financial plans I had been making…it’s just put me in an ambivalent funk about the whole work thing. It bothers me when inept people have jobs and I don’t.

Sadly, the lottery was no help last night.

There’s a pre-draft-notion I’m mentally kicking around about my departure from my last job. I think I’m not quite ready emotionally yet, so if you’re curious about that…just wait longer.

My laptop has also chosen this moment in time to go tits up, making the job search more challenging since I’m doing it from my phone. Writing is fine on my phone – blogging, I should clarify. I’d just started a new folder on my laptop fleshing out a book idea. I don’t think I could successfully scribble out a novel on my phone, so that’s on hold, dropping $800-1300 on a new laptop definitely is not in my immediate financial future.

I feel like I owe myself more of a blog post for the day than this in order to really consider that last point checked off my To Do for the day. I’ve been kinda burned out on writing lately, I’m up to 20 drafts again and that always erodes my motivation. But then I got some really encouraging praise in a comment on my BikeTown post and my motivation began to stir.

Maybe after this lil missive, I’ll listen to some music to recharge my mojo, knock off the few dishes, do my unemployment claim and take a peek at open jobs while my phone charges and then head out on an extended walk around the Esplanade before meeting up with Little Buddy and the gang.

Wish me luck!

Oh, gawd…the Chipotle is starting to kick.

Better really wish me luck now!

Too Soon?

Hike, Forrest, Hike!

I don’t have time right meow to do a deep dive into this afternoon’s hike, but I’m excited to have the nearby urban hiking paths fully re-opened! On that note, I thought I’d scribble out a fun observation I made after discovering the new bridgework that was completed during the partial closures last Fall.

I promise to write more about the overall experience from today later this weekend when the paths in Forest Park look more like the line for an E-Ticket ride at Disney World than an actual hiking trail.

Here’s another example of the newest bridge installations along the Macleay and Wildwood Trails

These are much more durable than prior incarnations. Instead of the earlier simple wood constructs

these new versions are steel treads with square iron tube lined rails. The only wood on these new bad boys is the easy to replace banister. And for all the durable metal used, they still blend beautifully into the natural surroundings. Blending is good, but not worth raising the ire of OSHA like this bridge example from two iterations back!

Sure, we don’t need no stinking rails, it’s not even that high of a bridge! Obviously, that thought was pre-cell phone and Instagram generation hikers…regardless – since we obviously still have a mix of the three bridge styles in use along the paths – these current bridges are way better than the original versions…

Hike, Forrest, Hike!