I Get The January Thing, Now

First, I feel like I should remind you about that time I was immortalized in a meme…

“They” even made t-shirts!

Now, while the people who know me consider how likely this actually is to be true, I can explain the January thing to the rest of you. Then we can all regroup and move on to the meat of this post together.

Seriously, social media is on fire – once again – with memes like this.

Apparently, January seems like a long month…

Maybe it’s all the exercise?

Perhaps the no drinking resolutions?

Regardless, I’m witnessing a lot of this type of behavior

For me, January is my birthday month, so I’ve always kind of looked forward to it. On top of that, the last two years, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in November, taking December as a “down month” to distance myself from my project before getting into writing and editing mode again in January.

What I’m saying is that it’s a month I look forward to.

But not this year.

Well, ok, I did look forward to it, but it burned off. The month proceeded apace for the first few weeks, and then the last 9 days have been like boogie boarding in the La Brea Tar Pits.

On top of that, the effect seems to be amplifying on some whack-a-doodle three day cycle.

That realization hit me this morning, on the last day of this fucking year month.

I was driving home from a UA for a new job I start on Tuesday when I noticed someone had won the $350 million Powerball. Now, I’d checked the tickets the Silver Fox had picked up earlier in the week and knew we hadn’t won. Still, there was a shadow of hope that that had been the rule. This provided confirmation that there had, sadly for most, been an exception.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still buy a ticket for $40 mil, but the SF doesn’t like to invest for less than a $100 million potential return.

Anyway, there I was, driving home all mopey in The Fox’s car – what’s that? Why is Pat still at the spa?

Well, they aren’t. Well, weren’t. After a week in the shop and $200 out of pocket, I picked Pat up last Friday to reports of a successful door gasket replacement followed by a dry – my tech stressed it was bone dry – five hour shower test.

I took off from the dealer and went to work my part-time HR gig, excited to do some driving after work that evening.

In true Xtopher fashion, the first person I picked up following work that day was living in an eerily adjacent orbit to mine.

I picked her up about six blocks from work, at a satellite City of Portland building. My part-time gig – as you probably won’t recall – is providing contract staff to…the City of Portland. This has happened on several occasions, so I wasn’t anything other than mildly amused by this occurrence.

I checked her drop off destination: Landmark Ford. Once she confirmed it, I mentioned picking up my car that morning after getting the door seal replaced.

That’s what I’m having done! Although, I hope mine is more successful than yours…

Then I hear squishing and splashing and turn my head enough to see her moving her feet up and down in a pool of water.

To my credit, I didn’t slam on the brakes or vocalize the expletive I was thinking. That would have been something like this…

I called the shop the next day and was told they could get me in on February 3rd…over a week away. I spent the rest of the weekend driving food around instead of people for Postmates, but it just wasn’t the same.

Turns out, I’m that chatty old lady you sit next to on every flight you take. I love talking to people and Lyft gives me that every day social paycheck. The Lyft community is filled with awesome people with fun stories to share…and I miss them. Especially when I’m bored at home.

And they seem to tolerate me pretty well, too. So I’m not just victimizing my Patsengers like that chatty old airplane broad.

How do I know?

I average 25% in tips each week.

Also,

Yeah, I’m gonna be humbly smug for a while after that. As a matter of fact, given the timing, I’m choosing to believe that this was left by Rashida Tlaib, who I got the privilege of driving around earlier that week in my loaner.

Yup. I had 1/435th of the US House of Representatives in my car last week!

She’d been in town for a Coalition of American-Islamic Relations event where she was the keynote speaker. She was a delight and I wished my ride with her had been longer.

Anyway, after a frustrating weekend, I decided to drop my car off at the dealer on Tuesday. I worked my HR gig on Monday and was heading home after a meeting Tuesday morning, thinking about how quickly my financial bridge for February had collapsed and dreading paying to park my car on the street all day – and for most of the rest of the week.

I pulled over and did some stress breathing and text therapy with The Fox. He told me what I wanted to do – which is the validation I wanted that what I was going to do was rational.

I dropped my car off at the dealer and told them they could store it until the appointment on the 3rd.

The Fox picked me up and promised I could borrow his car for work on Wednesday and a Thursday.

Now, for those of you still back on my urinalysis appointment this morning…yeah, I’d gotten a new job. That was the meeting I was at on Tuesday prior to my meltdown that led to me tossing my problems keys at the Jeep tech and abandoning Pat.

I’d been having weird discomfort at my HR gig the last few weeks. I was feeling ineffective. Not because I was being told I was doing things wrong or because the feedback I was getting was lackluster.

It was quite the opposite, actually, but the owner of the company was growing more and more stressed at work and coming in later and later or even less and less.

At the beginning of December, she’d asked me to prepare an end of year memo for the contract staff. Just reminders like updating addresses for tax time, recognized holidays, what to do in the event of inclement weather…pretty basic stuff. I cracked out a first draft and sent it to her. She likes to edit. Either my content or just to put my words into her voice.

She never sent it out.

This isn’t uncommon – I had been told in my first week that she wanted me to edit some policies and add updated information for the Employee Handbook. At first, she wanted to work with me on it. Then she started asking for what I had and I figured out that I should just do it. I submitted my suggestions to her for editing and the employment attorney’s sign off in early November.

Nothing.

What’s annoying about this is that one policy in particular needed some clarity. It’s the Alternative Transportation Benefit.

Basically, anyone who gets to work without using a personal vehicle gets a monthly $30 offset from the company.

The only thing was that there was no process. Every pay period – and I’m barely exaggerating, I think 9/12 of the payrolls I had done included an ATB for one or more employees…and the only tracking was memory.

I’d even included the new process in the year end email she’d asked me to draft so that we could start the new year clean.

But she didn’t send it.

So, I sent my own version out just before Christmas with just the ATB and address update request. I’m pretty sure that was the second point.

People – some, not all, of course – still submitted their ATB for the final payroll run of last year.

Idiots.

Then, on the first run of 2020, the owner decided we should just pay everyone who usually submits for January.

So I did.

Even knowing this would be a double payment for some. At least she was tacitly acknowledged that she knew what I had tried to do, even though only 20% of the usual ATB users complied with the new directive.

Not my circus, not my circus, not my circus…

I even got an “I forgot” email from one of our biggest Problem Child employees this week. I knew we would pay her – even though she wasn’t one of the employees that usually claimed the benefit. At least she’d read my email. When I told the owner about it, she behaved like our Problem Child always used the ATB.

Of course, I checked the payroll database…

Once.

She’d claimed the ATB once in her tenure – which began shortly before my own. And I remember when that was, since it was the first payroll I processed. She was technically not eligible since the policy is one of those “after 30 days of employment” policies.

Of course, we paid her anyway. The owner is just pro-employee like that.

Then the Problem Child claimed the benefit again two weeks later on the next payroll.

Bless her pointy little head.

Sure, in true to her fashion, she’d fucked up the execution, but a writer likes to know he’s read, ok?

Anyway, two Fridays back, I’d asked my handler to look for other positions for me. I like the owner and the recruiter.

And I love the Chief Feline Officer.

But I knew that the owner wasn’t going to change her behaviors that triggered me, nor did I have a reasonable expectation that she should. Well, except that she asked my advice on things and my take there is that peoples behaviors should actually reflect an effort to change if you bug me looking for feedback.

Sidebar: this just came on in my place.

🎼🎼I think a change, a change will do you good🎼🎼

But that’s just my $.02…and if I take the random music happening while I write as indication that the universe agrees with me? So what!

Back to my veiled beyond recognition point…Tuesday afternoon I get the call that the new client wants me.

That felt good, and honestly, I think there’s room to grow not only into a permanent role, but also from simply a payroll position into the open HR position they mentioned during my interview. I wouldn’t complain!

Really, I wouldn’t!

Even though the trade off here is that I have to go back to a five day job.

I went into work the next day with a plan to tell the owner the news. Partly expecting her to revisit taking me from temporary to 1099 employee, which was something we’d discussed in late October. I walked away when she offered me what she had paid my predecessor.

As a company employee.

I was born at night, but it wasn’t the night before that conversation.

Just kidding, I was born during the day.

But still, if I’m taking on the financial burden of city, county, state and federal self-employment taxes…well, it isn’t going to be for less than nothing.

Seriously, it would be a financial step backward.

Meanwhile, she’d be saving about 45% of what she’d been paying my temp agency. I’d gone into the conversation thinking we could agree on a rate that would cover my 27% (minimum) tax liability and still save her 25%.

But I thought versus losing me, she might go back to that table.

Little did I know, my handler had told her about my new gig Wednesday morning before the owner came to the office. I know this because I received an email from the owner at about 10:00 congratulating me and telling me that it was my last day.

Mentally, I pictured a couple more chunks of concrete falling off of my financial bridge for February.

And that’s where my unending and snowballing January ends: with five days off between gigs with zero opportunities to earn money driving between the two jobs.

And it was seeing that someone else had won the Powerball on Wednesday night that finally triggered me.

But as long as the hit I took off my vape last August doesn’t blow my UA out of the water, February will be a better month.

January 2020…you were one hell of a year. Bite me.

I Get The January Thing, Now

The Simple Solution

Homelessness.

Global Warming.

Opioid Crisis.

Politicians & Lobbyists.

Medicare For All.

Potholes.

The simple solution?

Taxes.

AOC proposed – and I think I have this right – an 80% tax on the super rich. The tax would kick in on income earned annually over, let me say that again in bold print, over $10 million.

Pilloried.

That’s what her plan was. Actually, I’m sure the outcry was worse because it was a woman who suggested such outrageousness.

People were incensed that there would be a special income tax for people earning over $10 million a year. Personally, I was surprised at how not surprised I was. In my mind, I bet that there were more people making less – far less – than that threshold that panned the plan because, y’know…the American Dream.

One day, that might be me!

Stupid Americans.

For some context for what “we’re” against.

Robert Downey Jr made $75 million last year, 2018.

He made one movie. Maybe you heard of it? I dunno. Seemed like a big deal at the time.

But, since his payout included backend pay – calm down, Diezel – what he got paid up front for the $2 billion-worldwide-grossing movie was only the beginning. And the small part.

I mention this for two reasons:

First, it seems safe to assume that RDJ didn’t suit up for the sequel to Infinity Wars for a smaller up front or potential total payday. This is important because Endgame made $1.2 billion worldwide in its opening weekend. That’s 60% of what it’s predecessor made altogether in five days!

Second, RDJ also only made one film in 2017. Spider-Man: Homecoming. He was paid $15 million for three days of work!

And people are upset that he’d be taxed unfairly on his earnings over $10 mil.

Hey, everyone…it’s time for a breakdown!

Let’s see how AOC’s progressive tax may have put poor RDJ on the streets.

2017: Let’s assume RDJ would have been taxed at the basic 28% tax rate on his first $10 mil. He’s keeping $7.2 of that. Now, for the $5 mil over the threshold, he’s gonna have to cough up $4 mil at that 80% tax rate, keeping a paltry one mil for himself.

Oh, a paltry one mil on top of the $7.2 that was taxed at a normal rate.

Ok, A) I don’t even have the friggin’ one mil!

<cough, cough> buy my book <cough>

But, then…B) His total after tax annual income was still $8.2 friggin’ mil.

I know, I know…agents and staff.

Whatever.

Those are write offs that could reduce his taxable income so that his 2017 income never even breached the $10 mil threshold.

Again…for three days of work. Out of 365.

Now, 2018: What havoc would a socialist tax plan wreak for poor old RDJ?

On his first $10 mil, we know he’s keeping $7.2, right? That doesn’t change. But on that $65 mil over the threshold? He’s taking home $13 million and coughing up $52 mil to the Pothole Fixing People.

That’s a lot of potholes. Hell, it’s maybe even a small bridge. Anyone need a bridge?

So, overall, he’s gonna be pretty ok with a little over $20 million to get through the year – just the year! He can make more money this year!

I would imagine that’s do-able.

And that’s just one example. There’s a lot of CEOs and people we’ve never even heard of that make $10 million plus a year. I say “a lot” thinking hundreds of our 325 million Americans. Maybe thousands. I’m for sure not even thinking this affects tens of thousands of Americans.

Assuming that’s true, and this affects 9000 Americans – this would only be a factor in the lives of .000028% of Americans.

Benefitting the other 99.999972% of Americans by, y’know…curing cancer.

And if I’m wrong?

I could be wrong by a factor of 36+ and still not be out of the infamous 1%.

And yet, 290-million-ish aren’t demanding this be the status quo. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

Did I say Stupid Americans?

Ok, fine. Maybe it’s hard to stick it to one of our beloveds like RDJ, or Ellen or Oprah.

I get that. American bravery is more of an anonymous thing these days. Looking at you, Internet Trolls.

How about the CEO of Google. Anyone know him?

I mean, if you do…I could use $20 mil (before the tax plan kicks in, plz) or some search engine optimization, so hook a homo up!

His name is Sundar Pichai. And let’s be honest, is there anything that would get Trump supporters to back AOC’s progressive tax faster than that name?

No. Because there’s an overwhelming number of racists amongst his supporters. That number – I imagine – is dwarfed only by the number of closet racists amongst his supporters.

Personally, I’d like to watch them wrestle with their love of Trump versus their realization that a progressive tax would make coughing up $5.2 billion in federal money for a border wall laughably easy.

Hell, tell Trump he’d have enough to build it in gold with a progressive tax and he might forget about how it would affect him personally long enough to sign the tax plan!

Ready for this breakdown?

We know there’s a $7.2 million guarantee on his first $10 mil, so this is really about the remaining $460 million.

$368,000,000

That’s how much tax money one person could contribute annually to our country and its various crisis. Let’s face it, even at the $10 million threshold, these Richie Riches potentially pay more in taxes in one year than I will in my lifetime.

And still this nice Sundar guy would have $99,200,000 to live on personally.

For a year.

For my $.02 – which is becoming starkly literal in contrast – I’m thinking that more wealthy Americans would start to invest more of their super-wealth to organizations committed to solving these problems on a national or international level.

I’m ok with that. I think this country needs a few hundred million citizens with a Robin Hood mentality instead of the current Sheriff of Nottingham dream.

For whatever reason, Americans hate paying taxes.

Case in point:

If people think the government can’t be trusted with that kind of money – they could be right – then Benioff might be their role model. And, hey…it’s another guy we’ve never heard of!

Score!

The Simple Solution

Diversity: Redux

Also, Diversity: Dux, because I’m a lame ass, Forgetful Freddy and thought that I posted my thoughts on diversity in Hollywood specifically, but entertainment as a whole two years ago!

This was back in September of 2016, after Rami Malek won his Emmy for Mr Robot. Look at all that’s happened for our endearing Egyptian heritaged actor in the two years that my OP gathered cobwebs in my drafts.

PS: he has a twin…named Sami – c’mon, twins named Rami and Sami? I’m dying. But as a striking teacher in LA, now someone else in the family is making headlines!

But before you begin thinking that my idea of diversity only extends as far as attraction, here’s a few other bullet points from my 2016 draft:

Laverne Cox and Candyce Cane had both become quite visibly cast trans-actors. Cox for several seasons on Orange is the New Black and Cane on Lucifer.

Empire and Atlanta were emerging phenomenons that showcased largely black ensemble casts. And on the other hand, Jane the Virgin was a soapy sitcom featuring a nearly all Hispanic lead cast and Sofia Vergara was pulling off a major role as a second wife in a mixed marriage on Modern Family.

Modern Family also featured a gay married couple that was presented as basic, mainstream America…y’know, like gay marriage was normal.

All this had me thinking that in 2016, basic white people had just become so passé.

2017 saw an extension of that as the #MeToo movement gave voice to sexual predators in Hollywood, but also empowered everyday Americans to start talking about their own sexual abuse in ways and voices on a scale we had never been exposed to before.

It’s almost like – if one looked at it, just so – squinty eyed and head tilted – we could forget that we had a raging dumpster fire of a human sitting in the Oval.

While he raged about immigrants from “shithole countries” sending us “Bad Hombres” and rapists, murderers and drug dealer, America held Hollywood’s middle aged, white power players to task for their past abuses of their power and their peers.

While he engaged in a do nothing drum circle about a vanity wall – squandering his congressional majority by not forcing the issue when democracy was held hostage by a GOP stranglehold – the entertainment industry continued to publicly call him out on his lack of statesmanship and basic, human decency.

Twitter.

Mainstream Media.

Awards Shows.

Saturday-friggin’-Night Live.

The entertainment industry used its pulpit not to bully, as the President continued to do daily, but to reflect his behaviors back onto him and keep his egregious flaws in the light of day. That’s a fine and responsible use of a pulpit, right there.

I should mention that all the while, Hamilton is still either on Broadway or touring to sold out crowds across the country. For Broadway to send such a cultural juggernaut out into the world…that’s really not something that happens too often. Maybe once a decade you encounter that type of reception for a play in America.

Yet, here was Hilary Clinton, getting a standing ovation from the crowd when she entered the theater to see Hamilton. Conversely, the actors stopped to call our reprehensible vile VP Mike Pence out when he saw the show.

Heartening.

While 2018 started off with a bang – with Black Panther knocking the February box office off the charts – the year was certainly not a lock as far as the trajectory of diversity in our country was concerned. While Black Panther was a strong start, the separation of migrant families at our southern border began shortly after. Children taken from their parents and put in cages without even giving the parents a coat check claim on their offspring.

How abysmal.

Black Klansman came to the box office and kinda drowned in its own quirkily presented message. But then, like a beacon, Crazy Rich Asians closed out the summer box office season and laid way for Bohemian Rhapsody to carry us into the holidays.

But even with all of this headline making diversity in our popular culture, the White House was still ramping up for a budget battle for wall funding. The President couldn’t seem to decide if he wanted to replace the Statue of Liberty’s New Colossus passage with a simple “Keep Out” or something equally literary sounding like “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here”.

And then we got The 2018 Golden Globes, courtesy of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Rami picks up a much expected win for his lead as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Even more exciting, I suppose, is the upset win for the movie as Best Picture – Drama.

I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was good, don’t get me wrong! Not outstanding, but I enjoyed it. Malek was surprising in his ability to capture how Mercury’s social insecurities and discomfort manifested in behaviors that ranged from awkward to offensive bravado. I found myself checking my initial response – which was “this is bad acting” – several times and remembering, “oh, yeah…he did act pretty strange in interviews”. I’m glad that people got it.

Soooo, I’m also glad he won a Golden Globe for his work! I’m quite surprised, though, that the film picked up a best drama award. Most of the world seems shocked that the Foreign Press overlooked the sexual misconduct allegations by the director. I just thought there were better dramas in the category.

It *is* the HFPA, though. I can see where a film about a mixed heritage Brit that fronted a worldwide phenomenon of a rock band would score points with them. The Oscars might be a different story!

But diversity at this year’s Golden Globes wasn’t just about Rami and Freddie.

Crazy Rich Asians and If Beale Street Could Talk we’re both nominated for multiple awards, the latter bringing home several. Beale Street featured a another nearly exclusive cast of black actors, bookending the year that began with Black Panther’s release ten months earlier with almost exclusively black ensembles.

Sandra Oh was the first Asian American woman to (co)host the show – or any major entertainment awards ceremony in this country. Managing to go from a frequent nominee and audience member with only one major win under her belt for her 15 years on series TV

…to host of the show while also doubling her recognition with her lead actor work on Killing Eve.

The snarky observationalist in me wants to say that white actors were so rare in this ceremony that we only managed to sweep the achievement awards. We even had to make up a new one to pad our numbers!

Jeff Bridges was awarded the Cecil B DeMille award for his lifetime body of work in film. His family certainly has the pedigree to back that up. Father, mother, brother and wife of 45 years were or are all in the industry. Watching him receive his award made me a little nostalgic, though. I miss the days when old, white actors won awards and did one armed push ups on stage to remind us they mattered.

That new award I mentioned? The HFPA decided that their awards – presented to equal categories in Film and TV – lacked an achievement award for television to balance out the Cecil B DeMille award for film. They created the Carol Burnett award to balance those scales. Naming an award like this that will become a legacy that recognizes a seven plus decade career after a woman was another heartening sign from Hollywood that diversity was welcome in their industry, even if the country was still schizophrenic about the subject.

Miraculously, they managed to not fuck that action up by awarding it to a man on its inaugural presentation. It was kind of cute to see Steve Carrel spoof the slam dunk nature of the award – since recipients are told ahead of time – by reading off several male nominees along with Burnett. Even cuter was the camera cutting to her backstage with both hands giving crossed fingers as she waited for the winner to be announced.

Hell, maybe someday we’ll even have a Jamie Lee Curti…never mind.

Let’s just give Hollywood and the entertainment industry a deserved pat on the back for both inclusion and self-policing. The GOP could learn a lot from their example over the last few years.

And Rami – or Sami, or both…I could make an exception to my Puritan ways – if we ever cross paths on the street…I’m running you to a corner store for some beer and then we’re gonna get to work proving that old adage about the difference between a gay man and a straight man…

Now, onward to the Oscars!

Diversity: Redux

Crazy, Rich Diversity

I really intended this post to be a lighthearted poking of fun at myself for crying copiously yet again in yet another movie. At least this time, with the movie in question being Crazy Rich Asians, I wouldn’t have to be too ashamed of my emotional dark movie theater melo-theatrics since is was at least a rom-com versus – I dunno – Mission Impossible.

I kid. That’s about the only movie I saw this summer-slash-who-am-I-kidding-year that I didn’t cry at.

…at which I didn’t cry? Yeah, that’s better English.

But then I got distracted and never tapped out the piece. The first thing that distracted me was not all that surprising: Asians were having widely reported similarly emotional experiences, although theirs went beyond just seeing a well executed rom-com starring Asian actors…the first in 25 years in the US, by a US studio.

That caught me off guard.

But I loved reading about the Asian culture nuances that triggered these folks. I didn’t love reading about how white people in America represent 60% of the population and 74% (ish) of the US studio produced movie roles while Asians make up 6% of what sounds like a super low and wrong statistic of the US population but only 4% (again, ish-ish) Of the movie roles in their natural or naturalized home country. Most of those roles are ninja types and silent concubines that provide flavor but no real presence to the films they are in.

So…yeah, I got distracted.

Then the Emmys aired and Sandra Oh became a meme

And I was off to the racist.

Er…races. Really?!? How is this possible?!? Now, I didn’t fact check this assertion that in 2018, Sandra Oh is the first Asian woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Emmy…but I did check my surprise. I think I was more surprised that I wasn’t that surprised after thinking on it for a bit.

The Emmys, like their Oscar counterpart for film, have always been a white persons club. There’s an award show color hierarchy:

Gold: the statuettes

White: the winners

Every other color: token seat fillers

After all, the Emmys vigorously patted themselves on the back for Rami Malek’s Lead Actor win in 2016. But as a person of Egyptian descent, he’s barely in the POC column.

Sidenote: Dear Rami,

Dating your female lead from the Queen biopic? Still not buying your heterosexuality. But it’s cute.

Yours truly,

Waiting4U in Portland

Wanna know what really makes me feel bad about Crazy Rich Asians?

It’s that at some point – before seeing the movie or maybe leaving the theater after – I thought, “Wow. First Black Panther and now this…2018 is shaping up to be a big year for minority driven mainstream movies!”

That’s like the cinematic version of latently racist comments like, “I’m not usually in to black guys, but…” that sound like compliments but are really offensive. Either someone is an attractive person or they aren’t attractive to you, then they are everything else they are.

Either you like a movie or you don’t. The story is good or it isn’t, then there’s everything else about it.

So, for a moment there I felt bad about liking this movie that made me feel good. This show that I liked so much. But after checking my latent racism, I decided that, yeah…I’m a little racist, but mostly because I’m lazy. Kind of like I’m lazy about adopting inclusive pronouns to be more gender inclusive in my conversations.

What can I say? People are still largely oblivious, selfish jerks. And I’m a people, so at least I’m cognizant of the opportunities I have to become better. I think that puts me ahead of the general population – also, I don’t take duck lip selfies for the Instagram and never take pictures of my food in fancy restaurants.

So, there’s that, that and that.

Still, latent racism aside, I’m seriously ready for the Freddie Mercury biopic to come out in November. Not only to see Rami play Freddie, but because it’s a movie about a thrilling pop culture phenomenon who was a minority, played by an actor who is also a minority instead of whitewashing the casting like Hollywood so often does.

Seriously, early considerations for the role in its various early incarnations – that couldn’t be made until Hollywood got over itself about race and AIDS – were:

Ben Whishaw

Adam Lambert

Hugh Jackman?!?

Joseph Gordon Leavitt (swoon!)

Ezra Miller (also, swoon!)

Zachary Quinto

…c’mon! There’s some dark complexions in that group, but the closest we get to diversity is Judaism or being Australian.

Between now and then, I’ll keep myself busy with Searching. It’s a John Cho movie where Cho plays a father looking for his missing daughter by spelunking through her digital/virtual life and learning that we don’t always know those closest to us as well as we think we do.

I’m excited about it because it’s a movie that could have been cast differently. Sure, the Queen movie could have cast a white actor, Crazy Rich Asians was pretty much boxed in with its casting…but Searching could have gone a different direction. It’s a story about a missing child and what a parent will do to find her.

The bottom of my friggin’ glass is covered with the optimism I have that choices like this will become more commonplace in the hopefully not-distant-at-all future.

Crazy, Rich Diversity

M.A.S.H. Up

I had the most realistic dream last night.  One of those dreams that makes you doubt reality.  

The strange aftereffect was further enhanced by a couple tangents.

First of all, the dream was about David Ogden Stiers.

He’s kind of one of my so-called life extras, a phrase I carried away from my time with Sacha.  By the by, Sacha complains that I only write horrid lies about him – basically – so I’m sure he’ll be blind to the fun memories I have of life extras with him.

Alas.

Anyway, DOS was a life extra because of the Pearl District Segue Dude, who whips around the Pearl on his segue – in case you were struggling with the name – looking a lot like DOS, who had famously lived in Oregon.

Giggles reminded me that he had indeed still lived in Oregon at the time of his death when she posited that there might be an influx of M.A.S.H. celebs through the airport for his services.  She was giddy to the point of distraction, which was pretty crazy for someone born within a year or two either way of the show airing.

So, I guess that’s Tangent One, before I really ever get to the damn dream.

Nice pacing, Xtopher.

In the dream, Giggles’ own dream of celebrity sightings during her shift did, indeed, come true.

Except

Alan Alda pulled a Carrie Fisher and dies on his arriving flight.

My dream reaction was so vivid that I woke up.  Then I couldn’t tell if it was something I’d seen as a push alert on my phone when I checked the time or part of my dream.  The two potential realities coalesced that quickly.

I go into my phone and start checking the news.

Some Korean actor killed himself after some #metoo allegations surfaced.  Giggles is a huge K-pop fan, so that tangent just keeps fueling my confusion and distraction.  Not that K-pop and Korean actors share the same spotlight or affections in Giggles’ universe.

The D’Wayne dude that inspired Scott Bakula’s character on NCIS New Orleans died.  I’ve never really liked the New Orleans franchise, nor Bakula’s character…so this news was kinda awkward.

Surely Alan Alda dying would scoop either of those two celebrity-ish deaths.

Still, I google Alda specifically just to be sure.

Still alive.

Phew.

…and he’s been married to the same woman for 60 years!  Amazing!  Then again, he’s one of those people that I just assume is an amazing human based solely on his acting.  I fully admit that there’s no correlation, but there it is.  

Don’t judge my crazy brain.

So, in awesome Pam Ewing style, I’d dreamed it all.  This was not tangent two.

This was.

Of course, I had to tell the Silver Fox about it on the way to coffee.

Of course, he had to scoop my ass with his own DOS story by reminding me that one of his condos – either the one he rented, which I believe is correct, or the one he ended up buying – belonged to DOS’ boyfriend.

Me: Y’know, I don’t think you ever actually told me that!

Which devolved into a brief summary of this guy’s resume and a reminder of DOS’ famed involvement with the symphony community on the Oregon Coast.

Now, that’s a tangent.  As only The Fox can provide.

I was still kinda turning this damn dream over in my mind as I was out running errands when I saw this on Broadway.

Sorry about the crap picture, but I was relieved to see Segue Dude alive and well after the surreality of my morning.  Just zipping down the busiest N/S street in downtown Portland like a damn boss.

M.A.S.H. Up

Celebrity Sighting

A couple months back, I was looking at one of my associate’s phones while she gushed about Carnie Wilson and Enrico Colantoni having come through her store at PDX.  What had really set her gushing was that Carnie had apparently come back through a few weeks after her selfie-session and remembered my associate.

I could see that being kinda exciting for one of us Normies.

Then Fred Armisen wandered through her store being his low-key, awkward self.  He left without making eye contact, buying anything or being recognized by my star struck employee.

Cue inward laughter.

Seriously, how did she recognize someone as obscure as Enrico Colantoni and not one of the stars of the show named for and filmed in the town she lives in?

Oh, well.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

But, championship timing, Universe.  Really, well done! 

Later that week, my parents took me out to lunch to enjoy the last hurrah of Summer.  Well, it could have been the last hurrah.  Turns out, it wasn’t.  In these parts, though, Summer is kinda like a virgin’s erection:  it could finish up without warning.

So, there we were, Mom, Dad, me.  Their dog, Buddy…sitting outside enjoying lunch.

I always enjoy my lunch visits with the parentals.  Even more so when Gus Van Sant is sitting over their shoulders.

It got me thinking about the game Black Sheep Bro and I would play when we went out drinking with our respective mates of the moment.  He was living with one of my employees from Linens ‘N Things – Jackie Jackass – and I was with <gulp> Sacha.

JJ was the one who introduced the game.  She was also – is! – this amazingly vivacious person.  There is basically sunlight pouring out of her eyes.  She also has an amazing ability to connect with people and bond groups of fairly disparate backgrounds.

Me, because of our mutual workplace connection.

Sacha, through their shared creative passion.

Black Sheep Bro…I don’t know what it was. Maybe she has a thing for guys with small johnsons who don’t take too long.  Who knows?

Since Jax suggested it, we were all pretty much game for the game.  She has a gift for making everything sound like a good time.

If she suggested a theme park based on awkward medical procedures, I’ve no doubt that she’d find investors.  

“Let’s get another Colonoscopy!”  Can you imagine the souvenir shop?

And then – poof! – we were playing Celebrity Sighting.

Simple rules:  do nothing but what you’d normally do, in our case that’s chat incessantly and drink obsessively, and when someone with the slightest resemblance to a celebrity crosses your field of vision, mutter “celebrity sighting” and state your case.  I think this is where I developed my ability to resist looking around like a crazy person when someone says, “Don’t look now…”

<Glares at Silver Fox>

Anyway, we had an uproariously good time with this little game.

Everything from <insert ethnicity here> Yul Brynner whenever a bald guy with any minimal degree of sex appeal walked by to Paddignton Bear if someone crossed our paths wearing a yellow hat or blue wool coat.

The more ADHD you are, the more successful you will be at this game.

Oh, and there’s no score keeping.  Your efforts either earn you a “No way, not even close!” type comment or your entry was the best one ever.  

There was really no in between.

And it seemed so familiar.  I didn’t discount the possibility that Jackie Jackass had been exposed to this through some other channel, nor did I find it outside the realm of possibility that she just made it up and living in LA had made it all feel familiar.

How can you ever really know?

Of course, when I saw the movie Kiss, Kiss. Bang, Bang I immediately thought “Native American Joe Pesci” was comic genius.

I didn’t immediately assume that Jax had riffed on the game from this movie, either.  The movie came out well after she introduced us to her version of this game.

Plus, if we made a celebrity behavioral mannerisms version of this game, she’s easily a frenetic personality match for the movie’s star, Robert Downey, Jr. so if she had stolen it from the movie…meh.  Whatever.  That didn’t happen.

The game has just been around.

Shortly thereafter, I saw this Facebook post and was reminded of the time I was getting my haircut at my Stephen’s Salon in Long Beach.  As I’m leaving, I’m walking backwards-ish talking to my stylist as I leave and turn around and run right into the wall known as Dolph Lundgren.

I have too many similar run-into stories like that to credibly deny that I’m not a celebrity hazard.  I bet the union distributes “How to Avoid Galby Injuries” pamphlets like my employers distribute flyers about avoiding Slips, Trips and Falls.

When I was working at FAO Schwarz in the Beverly Center, I came out of the stockroom, finishing a conversation over my shoulder while going through the door.  Stepping on Sally Field as I exited.

She’s so tiny.

Strangely, another time heading into Stephen’s Salon, I was running late and weaving through the courtyard crowd.  Unfortunately for her, Chaka Khan ended up being an unseen obstacle in my path.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t knock her over.

Not all the way, at any rate.  She’s kinda built like a weeble, as it turns out.

My first serious normal boyfriend took me on a date to a comedy show.  It turned out to be a filming of a VH-1 comedy show called Stand Up Spotlight, starting one Ms Rosie O’Donnell.

I don’t remember much about the show, itself…it was – god – almost 30 years ago!

I have to go be old now.  Bye.

I guess that means that I’ve had this t-shirt hanging in my closet for close to 30 years, then.

Now I’m depressed.  That whole time of my life was so sweet and innocent.  I hadn’t yet learned how to be jaded and embittered about my past.  And the few years prior had been a collectively hellacious learning experience.

Ok…more better memories.

I ran into Gordon Sumner – better known as Sting – many times while I lived in LA.  Of course, I’d seen him perform live a couple dozen times, so running into him was somewhat organic.  Have you ever heard the urban legend about the guy that fell off of his bench while eating ice cream in Palm Springs and landed on Sting?  

That wasn’t me.  I doubt it really happened. Total urban legend.

Sacha and I went to Europe a few times during our relationship.  On one trip, I think it was Amsterdam-Paris-Monte Carlo but my memory gets our trip legs confused, but one of us popped off with a Macy Gray non-sequitur that had us both Holy-Shit-Best One Ever-ing.

Except

It was her.

That morphed into us seeing posters for her shows in every town we visited, vis-a-vis, Macy Gray stalked us through Europe.

Ok, jumping around in time, now…

For no reason, D-Slice invited me to go see Elvira, Mistress of the Dark one year after we had both moved into the same adult dorm.  The invite was for no apparent reason, that is.  The reason to go see Elvira is obvious: she’s awesome with a side of awesome.

She was screening her campy self-titled movie, which has the added bonus of containing one of my favorite movie lines ever.

Let me set the scene:

She’s helping her all-American boyfriend (she has an all-American BF, there’s hope for me yet) set the marquee at his movie house.  She’s up on a ladder and reaches down to get a letter from him, hitting her head on the marquee as she stands back up and falling off the ladder.

Classic Slip, Trip, Fall scenario, right there.

Anyway, she falls in dramatic, B-movie slow motion before being heroically caught in the arms of her boyfriend…

BF:  (concerned) How’s your head?

Elvira:  (discombobulated) I haven’t had any complaints.

<and…scene>

I’ve got this blog-entry placeholder just called Thomas.  It’s about a guy I worked with at Linens ‘N Things in Houston.  Maybe I’ll put some legs on that before my Staycation ends.  Who knows?

Anyhoo…also during my time in Houston being a busy worker bee for LNT, I was lucky enough to run – not literally, for once – into Mary Lou Retton while she shopped.  Good lord.  Have you ever heard the idiom/career advice about finding a career that matches your personality?  Yeah, MLR did that, for sure.  What a dynamic personality that lil dynamo had.

Plus, she makes Sally Field look like a giantess.

Speaking of giants – and monsters – Barbara Bush, Sr shopped at that same store.  The first time she was in, while everyone else hid behind drapery displays peeking out at her as she <gasp!> shopped just like a Normie, I got to reluctantly assist her with a tablecloth.

Me:  What size cloth do you need?

BB:  90”.

Me:  Ok, here you go, sweet cheeks.  (That last part is just editorial)

BB:  No, that’s not big enough!  I want it hang to the ground!

Don’t we all, sister?  But that’s not really practical now, is it?

Me:  Ok, well that’s gonna be a custom size, you know.  This cloth will only have about a 12” drop, depending on the actual diameter of the table.  

BB:  (getting agitated) I told you…it’s a 90” table!

Jesus.  She has a literal 90” dining table.

Me:  Oh, well…like I said, that’s gonna be a custom job.  Normal people don’t have tables that big.

Let alone, somewhere to put them.  I’d bet the dining rooms in most homes aren’t even 8’ across.  I’d also bet most wallets wouldn’t afford a 120” diameter tablecloth, nor the table it would go on, let alone the house that has a big enough room for it.

But that didn’t stop this Houston Home Girl from being butt hurt and side-eying me like I didn’t know what she was talking about as she walked off.

At least I didn’t knock her over.

Accidentally.

The next time she came in, I was busy doing busy manager stuff and didn’t see her until she was checking out,  I walked by the register just as my associate was gushing, “Mrs Bush, I just want you to know that my husband and I would take a bullet for you!”

Barf.

Like a bullet would dare even try to mess with Babs.

She saw me walking by as she ripped the check from her book and gave me an impressively withering look.  She’d been working on her side-eye game in her retirement,

That same associate later bought the Former First Lady’s check as a memento.

What the actual fuck is it about celebrities?

I think I prefer Jackie Jackass’ game much more than real life celebrity experiences.  Luckily, Portland provides plenty of opportunities to play Celebrity Sighting.

Even if I’m only playing with myself these days.  You’re welcome, Diezel.

There’s this David Ogden Stiers lookalike that rides his Segway through the Pearl.

The Fox and I see him during our morning coffee excursions and occasionally later in the day while we hang out at Thelonius Wines.  He’s a character, I can tell by the way he corners on that Segway like he just doesn’t give a fuck.

“What are you gonna do, Mail-Truck-I-Just-Cut-Off, hit me?”  If he had a free hand, I’m sure it would be sporting a one-fingered salute.

It’s a nice surprise to see my David Ogden Stiers Celebrity Sighting while we sip wine. The proprietress and The Fox like talking all things Game of Thrones during her downtime.  The Silver Fox is just happy to talk to someone that likes the show and understands what the hell he’s talking about.  He also loves that she casually let slip that she used to go to Bonetown with one of the stars.  

While that led an extra layer of amusement to this screenshot that I’d sent to The Fox

I’m still just not a fan of the show, and without my wreckless segway commuting David Ogden Stiers doppelgänger, I’m stuck with only a skateboarding Captain Jack Sparrow to entertain myself with during their conversations.

Now, that’s quite a Celebrity Sighting in itself, but if I spend too long thinking about him, I can easily talk myself into believing the person behind the celebrity caricature could easily have some of the less amusing pirate traits…

So, I don’t.

Ok, I’ve gotta go.  There’s a t-shirt I need to put up for sale on eBay…

Celebrity Sighting

Who Knew It Was Gonna Be One Of Those Days?

…and I mean one of those weekends, really.

glenne-headly-dirty-rotten-scoundrels-1988I was on my way home from work yesterday when I read the news that Glenne Headly had died.

Say what now?

She couldn’t have been that old.

<opens google>

“62?!?”, I think.

Then – I kid you not – my next thought is, “Lucky.”

What.

The.

Hell?

I’ll tell ya what the hell, I’m staring down 50 this year and I’m conflicted about a long life versus going out possibly early with a high quality of life.

I think I’ve got 50 in my cross hairs like this:aliens-ripley-geared-up

But, I think sometimes it’s more realistically this:sigourney-weaver-as-ellen-ripley-in-alien

What’s a gay to do?  This is not the culture for Oldie Hawns, and – let’s face it – America ain’t getting greater these days.  That doesn’t just impact my patriotic identity…in this case, it’s a factual planet killer.  By extension, a long-lived Xtopher can potentially look forward to some Thunderdome bullshit in his longevity.

Then I think of my parents.

They’ve both crested their eighth decade on this dying rock, call it their early 70s.  They remarried after 20-some years of divorce.  While that’s a story that I’m sure they would say is none of my business to tell, I’m not thinking of that particular life event or even that time in their lives in this particular moment.  What comes to mind isn’t their first marriage or even their second.

It’s the time betwixt.

When my parents originally split up, we were assembled in California.  My father having pre-located there for a job, my mother and the kids joining after the school year ended for her two youngest.  I joined in the move.  For reasons I won’t bore you with here.

Other than:  California.

Being California, and divorce being trendy…Bob’s your uncle – or at least your divorce lawyer – I guess, they split up a year-ish after the SoCal reunion.

Mom took off back to the fairer pastures of Oregon with…oh, every one of her chirrun but me, also because:  California.

What’s an early 20s newly minted gay to do?

It was a decision that was quite beyond my control.

Ironically, I ended up living only blocks from my dad in SoCal, so I had a good seat as to how he stared down his own demons in his 40s.

I’ll be damned if it wasn’t quietly, as is his style.  While simultaneously doing what needed to be done.

He sure as fuck didn’t start a poorly-trafficked blog.  You know, sharing this on your social media pages would hardly kill you people.  I’m just gonna leave that hanging.

I had a chance to change my geographic scenery a few times in my early and mid-20s, be it for the wrong reasons – like a boy – or for slightly less easily judged reasons – like work – and ended up back in Oregon.

The prodigal gay.

That gave me the opportunity to witness how my mother stared down her own adversaries in her 40s.

Well, she’s my Ellen Ripley.  That same quiet acceptance of what must be done that my father demonstrated, but with the additional obstacle of responsibilities like – oh, no big deal – being a single mother.

I don’t know when this turned into some sort of vague-albeit-late Mother’s Day card or a slightly early Father’s Day post…but, well, sometimes my digressions can give you a little insight into the people – the real people – that shaped who I am.

Don’t make it weird, people.

Anyway, my psyche checks me when that unbidden “Lucky” pops into my head over Glenne Headly’s death with a “What the fuck, you little wuss…buck up.  Your shit is nothing like your parents’!”

And, so I buck uply and put dear Glenne out of my head-ly.

Sorry about that.

You know what fuckery I am met with the following day?  The reward for shoring myself up as all things nearly 50 converge on my weak-assed self?

Any guesses?

Here’s a little hint:Launch Party For The "Family Guy" Game

Adam West.

Batman.

Not to mention a killer caricature of himself.

Dead.

Aged 88.

And still cooler than I ever will be.  Just look at that bad ass.

My weak-assed little self’s least favorite counterpart – my self-bullying-snarky-assed self – was right on point to ask the big question, “Do you think your parents hear this news and think, ‘Lucky’?” because he had to live soooo long?

“No.  They probably fucking don’t, because they had to work for what they have:  a comfortable retirement in which to enjoy their family and each other – reconciliation after two decades of divorce is a goddamned gift, albeit an in the moment costly one – they didn’t have their shit handed to them by fame…so buck up, Buttercup.”

Sometimes I just want to punch my snarky-assed self in the balls.  Other times, I’m sure most everyone else does.

Looking at you, Silver Fox.

Knowing my parents, they probably think something more along the lines of, “Poor Bastard” because, while his death will be mourned by the fans accrued over the course of decades of Batman notoriety, they measure their success not in fans or dollars, but rather in their shared pride in the family they built and will leave behind.

Whatever legacy Adam and Glenne leave behind, we – as adoring and appreciative fans – cannot measure or judge the pride they leave behind for their own families; merely in the absence of their future celluloid impact.  What I’ve learned from my family…parents, grandparents, extended family and chosen family, is that that’s the yardstick.

Right there.

The so called wake of your existence.

So, I’ll get up tomorrow and honor the example that real people set for me and set aside this morose nostalgia for people I’ve not met and live a life that will make my parents proud.

Quietly.

As quietly as grumpy, old Xtopher can, anyway.

Who Knew It Was Gonna Be One Of Those Days?