Friday, September 28, 2007

The Klutz King

This was definitely not my intended blog topic for today, but yet another combination of my stupidity, frustration, anger, and utterly perverse sense of humor…plus the heat of the moment (the event to be related taking place less than ten minutes ago)… have made me do it.

My bathroom floor is a mess. It is always a mess. I try to mop it fairly regularly (every six weeks or so), but don’t know why I bother because as soon as the Polish & Buff or whatever crap it is I use (it promises “A dazzling clean!”) dries, it still looks like a herd of Wildebeests had used it to climb out of a muddy river.

So this morning, I decided to really, really do a job. I got out a bucket, filled it with hot water, poured in about a half gallon of Pine Sol, got out a stiff-bristled scrub brush, got down on my hands and knees, and scrubbed. And scrubbed. And scrubbed. I couldn’t see one G-D bit of noticeable difference between where I’d scrubbed and where I hadn’t. But I persevered, sloshing hot sudsy water and scrubbing until I thought my arms would fall off. And then I fell over. How I fell over (I was on my knees at the time, which makes falling over difficult under the best of circumstances) or why I fell over, or what made me fall over other than my own incalculable stupidity and lack of motor coordination, I have no idea. Maybe my knees slipped. Maybe I started to get up to move to another spot. Who knows.

So I fell over. And of course I fell over directly onto the bucket filled with Pine-Sol-frothy hot water, which then cascaded across the bathroom floor, out into the hallway, and moved swiftly toward my area rug.

I forgot to mention I was wearing my pajamas, which naturally became sopping wet. I tore them off and tossed them as a makeshift dam between the advancing water and the rug. My slippers, which I’d taken off before getting down on my knees and set in the doorway, were of course carried halfway across the room on the tsunami, and are quite probably ruined. (We shall see.)

I pulled several towels from the linen closet and used them as water-sops. Three towels, one pair of pajamas, and a sponge mop later, most of the water had been picked up, leaving a wonderfully sticky film over everything.

And the floor, after all this? I just checked…it still looks like a Wildebeest crossing.

God, but I have fun!

I’m sure a psychiatrist might possibly have some explanation of why I insist on parading my flaws, faults, and failures in front of the world in general and you in particular. I’ve talked before about my tendency toward self-loathing when things do not go as I want or expect them to go, or as they would go for any other human being on the planet. This is one of those moments of self-flagellation, but since no blood was spilled, I trust your reaction will be more puzzled bemusement than disgust. I have enough of that for both of us.

Another short blog, but so what?

New entries are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Loss is a part of life. We all experience it…some more than others…and each must learn to deal with it in his or her own way. I have never handled loss well, and even though I always manage to get on with my life after one, its ghost joins the many others walking the halls of my mind. I have developed the ability to largely ignore them, but if I’m not careful,…

I was scanning photos of my last house in Los Angeles; probably the nicest house I have ever owned. Perhaps, if I do start the photo blog I mentioned in the last entry, you might have a chance (assuming you might have the desire) to see them. At any rate, in looking at the photos, the ghosts of the time reached out and grabbed me yet again.

That these ghosts grab me is one thing…what really hurts is their whispered tauntings: “You had this once. Remember? Look. You’re almost there again. Just reach out, and…” and then the humorless laughter before they continue: “It is gone, and you will never have it again. You will never sit at the breakfast room table, or look out at the hill behind the house, or spend time with the friends and conquests who came and went with comforting frequency. You can look at these photos, but you cannot have what you had there. Never again.”

While I am given to melodrama, as you may have noticed, I am being sincere when I say that those rare occasions when I allow myself to dwell on the whispers are not only mentally excruciating but actually cause a definite physical tightening of my chest. I had it. I want it! I want to see and talk to and touch all those people who were so much a part of my life. I miss them terribly.

I know, too,, that this dwelling on the past makes me—wrongly, I can assure you—seem ungrateful for the present and all the good things and people around me today, and I apologize for that, but it is simply the way I am, and I can’t change it.

Since I was a very small child, I have been aware that each passing minute brings me closer to the time when I will no longer be here, and that thought is terrifying. And as a perverse result, many of the good times of my life have been tainted by the fact that, even as I am enjoying them, I know they must pass and become more ghosts to wander my mind.

As I’ve mentioned often before, I spend the majority of my time alive storing up bits and pieces of myself for the time when I will be dead. The irony of that fact certainly does not escape me. I consider myself something of a squirrel, gathering up the nuts of my life for the long winter of eternity. My books, my letters, my blogs, all small parts of who this Roger/Dorien person was and is with luck will live on after I am physically gone. Even as I write this, I am bitterly resentful of the fact that my physical body, already far from its best, will at some point simply cease to exist. It’s been a good body, and it has served me very well, and I feel sorrow that it cannot always do so. I still have it, but I deeply miss it already.

Have I perchance happened to mention that I do not like reality? My body is forced to live in it, but my mind refuses to.

Also, as I write these little exercises in self indulgence, I wonder exactly why I expect you, who have your own life, your own losses, to have any interest at all in mine…and the answer is, as always, that I trust you may see in me parts of yourself, and realize that we are not quite as…I started to say “unique,” but prefer to substitute “alone”…as we sometimes feel.

New entries are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Total Blank

I went to bed last night realizing I did not have a blog entry for today. Being an equal mix of laziness and optimism, I wasn’t concerned. I’d just get up this morning, sit at the computer, and dash off yet another classic example of deathless prose. Uh-huh.

Instead, I find myself standing, in my mind, at one of those carnival machines filled halfway with cute little stuffed animals and toys of various descriptions. For 50 cents, or whatever the rate is now, you turn a little crank which is attached to a claw hanging down a few inches from the top of the. The object is to maneuver the claw over the prize you want, drop it down, and pick it up. Except that in practice, it’s nearly impossible to do. The second you drop the 3-pronged claw down and it even brushes against anything, it closes and you have grabbed nothing at all. But you can put in another 50 cents and try again.

Thus far this morning, I have spent the equivalent of about $43.50 trying to grab not a toy, but an idea for today’s topic. Zilch.

Not that there’s a dearth of things to talk about, if I could just latch onto one. But every time I think I have one, the little mental claw just won’t grab it. I’ll get about two sentences written, then get impatient that I’m not saying it the way I want to say it, and I let the claw close and reach for another. I started to write, for example, about coming out, and will undoubtedly do one soon. Just not today.

My friend Gary got a new printer/scanner and gave me his old one, which prompted me to start scanning into my computer some 2,000 photographs I’ve accumulated over the years. A very time consuming project, you can be sure, but a fascinating (to me) recounting of my life. And I’ve been thinking of perhaps, when I have them all scanned and neatly sorted, of starting a blog…yeah, like I really need to do another blog…detailing what would, in effect, be a photo recounting of one individual’s (my, of course) journey through time. And I might do that one, too, when I’m ready. But wondering if anyone at all might be even the slightest bit interested in my life in photos gives me some pause.

Because I’d really like to know what you might think of the idea, that set me thinking of maybe an entry saying how very much I enjoy hearing from people who read my books and my blogs, and encouraging anyone who might think about dropping me a line—okay, you—to do so. I realize that for some strange reason, people seem to be intimidated by writers and hesitate to contact them. (The old “I’m just a reader” reasoning which always drives me up the wall since, yet again, reaching out to you is the reason I write.) But I set that one aside because it smacked just a bit of pandering and desperation.

So I’ve ended up writing this straight off the top of my head, and feeling not a little guilty for not giving you something a bit more well thought out. But since I am usually able to find some small comfort in nearly everything, I console myself with the fact that the whole purpose of writing this blog in the first place is to invite you into my world, messy and disjointed as it too often is.

For me, this blog is, in fact, the Portrait of Dorien Grey.

New entries are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Before we begin, if you are intending to see the Israeli/Palestinian film “The Bubble,” stop reading right now.

I knew going in that the film was about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but I can’t resist movies with gay themes (a hangover from the decade upon decade during which there were no films with gay themes), and I’d read a review which indicated that it had a positive ending It’s a moving film effectively demonstrating the myriad of problems and mutual hostility between Jews and Palestinians. But its emphasis was on a sweetly romantic tale of an Israeli soldier who meets a young Palestinian at a checkpoint between Israel and the West Bank. They fall in love despite the problems all around them, and in effect live in a bubble of their own. On this level, the film is truly moving and uplifting.

I was therefore totally unprepared for the last fifteen minutes of the movie, in which the Palestinian’s sister is accidentally killed by Israeli troops and, in the last terrible scene, he blows himself and his lover up in a suicide bombing.

No! No, no, no, no, no, no, no!!! I’m sorry, but I’m out’a here. I do not need this. I do not need an agonizingly slow-motion close-up of the two young lovers in the final instant of their lives as the bomb goes off, the one looking confused, the other infinitely sad.

I left the theater furious at being cheated out of hope. It’s been several days now, and I’m still furious. I have thought of the film almost constantly since, which is, I suppose, exactly what the people behind the film intended. To that end, they most certainly succeeded but, for me, not in the way they wanted.

It certainly isn’t as though I had no idea of what is going on in the world. I haven’t been living in a vacuum (or a bubble) all these years. I am already far more than sufficiently aware of all the madness in the world, all the pointless stupidity and hatred and cruelty and pain and sadness. They are impossible to avoid. It is simply that I see absolutely no need to run out and deliberately expose myself to more. And while there are undoubtedly many people who somehow have been sleeping through the past 50 years of history who need to be reminded of the harsh realities of the world. I am not one of them, and I truly resent having gone to the film. I am not a puppy who has just peed on the carpet and needs to have his nose rubbed in it.

I cannot live without hope; without the belief that despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there is more good than evil in the world. In a voice-over at the very end of the film, the Palestinian says that someday, perhaps, things will change. And he is right. But seeing him die did little to encourage this belief.

I hope you will excuse the brevity of this post, but I think I’ve said just about all that needs to be said for today.

New entries are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tears of Joy

As I write this, my eyes are misting. But they are tears of utter, total, complete joy…of an elation I seldom have experienced in my own humdrum, boring, meaningless life. I have just learned that Toby McGuire, of Spider Man fame, is getting married!! I cannot imagine anything that may have a more powerful impact on the lives of millions of people around the world. (Can you imagine the joy in Darfur? The jubilation in the streets of Bagdad?) I’m positive I’ll be going to the wedding, of course. I’m sure the invitation is in the mailman’s pouch even as I type. I mean, Toby is such an important part of my life. Maybe he’ll ask me to be his best man!

And I desperately needed this ray of sunshine in my life after the indescribably agonies I have been going through over Lindsay’s and Brittany’s trials and tribulations. That these saintly young role models are continually harassed and hassled just for being fun-loving is unconscionable. And that some people actually dare to suggest they be treated like everyone else! Are they mad? Brittany and Lindsay and all those other wonderful people famous for being famous are not like everyone else. They are STARS whose luminous brilliance lights the dark, hopeless night in which the rest of us are doomed forever to reside.

And the rumors of possible unhappiness in Brad and Angelina’s relationship have kept me awake nights, sobbing into my pillow, or shaking my fists at the uncaring and cruel fates.

These people are my LIFE! How could I possibly exist without knowing that Jude Law threw a punch at some photographer? I’m sure the photographer deserved it for thinking he had a right to take a photograph of Jude on a public street. These paparazzi are totally out of hand and should be soundly thrashed. (But then I realize that without them taking pictures of Prince Harry slipping on a banana peel, I would not be able to feel as close to Harry as I do.)

Oh, dear Lord, what is there in human nature that makes what happens in the lives of total strangers—people whom we have never met, will never meet, and who have absolutely no direct effect whatever on our own lives—so pathetically important to us? Why do we spend millions of dollars which could be far better spent on other things buying glossy magazines filled with the intellectual and emotional equivalent of lo-cal bat guano?

Why do we buy tennis shoes simply because a sports figure shills them? The fact that 99.9 percent of product advertising features pretty people speaks for how pathetically insecure the rest of us are. Think, people! THINK!Envy is a natural emotion, but we have taken it to astoundingly incomprehensible lengths. I suspect one reason why we blindly follow every movement of the rich and “famous” beautiful people is that we truly believe, way deep down, that they are somehow superior to us. We are—thee and me excepted, of course—becoming a nation of pigs eagerly gobbling up whatever garbage those who are obviously superior to us choose to slop into our troughs. And we should be grateful, for by doing so they have all but eliminated the bothersome necessity to actually think for ourselves and make our own decisions.

But in defense of all the beautiful, rich, and famous Tobys and Lindsays and Brittanys and their agents and publicists and personal hairdressers and fitness trainers out there, I must say that if anyone so insecure about their own value as a human being as to need vicarious validation from the lives of others, they deserve a place at the trough.

Well, I seem to be very good at asking questions, but very poor at providing answers. What do YOU think I should think? I’ll be sure to ask Toby at his wedding.

New entries are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Pond Scum

I really don’t know which frightens me most: just how stupid advertisers think we are, or how stupid we actually have to be to believe the fathomless idiocies that we are fed every time we turn on the TV or read a magazine.

I love the car ads that say “0 percent financing for well-qualified buyers.” Do you know what a “well-qualified” buyer is? I certainly don’t, though I strongly suspect a “well-qualified” buyer is one who can afford to pay cash for the car and therefore has no need for a 0 percent financing in the first place. Cash is, after all, 0 percent financing. The rest of us pay full fare, as we find out when we’re suckered in to the showroom.

Advertisers are totally in love with modifiers: “Emerging science suggests that Barfenol may help lower whatever it is that needs lowering.” Five modifiers in that one sentence. “Emerging” means it isn’t proven, “suggests” means the “emerging science” doesn’t actually come out and say anything, “may” leaves them wiggle room in the unspoken implication that it equally well may not, “help” means it won’t do it by itself, and “lower” means it won’t eliminate the problem. And yet we rush to buy it.

Furniture stores going out of business love to say: “No reasonable offer refused!” (Gee, and would you care to make a wild guess as to who determines the definition of “reasonable”?)

Women’s facial products boast they “reduce the appearance of wrinkles.” You will note they do not even imply that the product actually do a damned thing for wrinkles other than to “reduce” the appearance” of wrinkles. It doesn’t matter: it sounds great and thousands of women are stupid enough to go out and spend good money on it.

How many commercials do you see in one evening of television that urge you to “Ask your doctor” or “see your doctor.” I suspect that, at up to $100 per visit to the doctor, the A.M.A. is all for your seeing the doctor to ask about some snake-oil capsule.

I do, however, grudgingly admire the near-to-brilliant wordplay advertisers come up with to con the public. I mentioned some time ago one of my favorites: “No loan application will be refused!” Of course, it cleverly avoids pointing out that just because they will accept your application, there is absolutely no guarantee that you’ll get the loan.

Another of my all-time favorites, which I have also referenced before is: “If unsatisfied with this product for any reason, simply return the unopened bottle for a full refund!” Since one generally has to open a bottle before knowing if the product is any good, that neatly eliminates any necessity to even try for a refund.

Makers of schlock cleverly use that old saw “when you have a lemon, make lemonade” by concentrating their advertising on television and proudly proclaiming “Not Sold in Stores!” Uh...if the stuff was any good, do you really think they’d refuse to let stores handle it?

Offering a “Certificate of Authenticity” for some overpriced replica brings in customers by the ton. And a “Certificate of Authenticity” does exactly what? But, oh, boy, it sounds impressive.

There’s an old saying in the ad game: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak,” and they are experts at just that. Ah, but I once again find myself sliding into my curmudgeon mode, when I should be embracing all these wondrous opportunities with which I am inundated every day. I apologize. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to watch the Home Shopping Network.

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