May 2003

Tra La! It’s May! The Lusty Month of May!

And so Memorial Day weekend 2003 winds down to an end. For being the unofficial start of summer, I sure do feel soggy. It’s rained and rained and rained.

Rick and Helen came up on Friday night… Earl went to bed early to relieve some work-related stress, so I waited up for them. We ended up b.s.-ing until 1:30 in the morning, catching up on family happenings and whatnot.

Saturday we decided to head to Syracuse to do some shopping at Carousel Center. I picked up some stuff from CompUSA for work. Earl picked up some snazzy new sneakers at “The Finish Line”. Rick looked at quite a few shoes as well but didn’t get any. At Borders, he did pick up the cookbook and BBQ sauce kit for Dinosaur BBQ. We had taken them to Dinosaur last summer and it must have made quite an impression!

After Syracuse, we headed to Casa Too Mucha, Earl and my favorite restaurant. We had never been there on a Saturday night. Not nearly as busy as Friday’s night, but nonetheless enjoyable. Afterwards we watched “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” on DVD. Enjoyed the movie, but I thought it wasn’t quite as good as the first.

On Sunday we headed out to the Utica Zoo. I hadn’t been to the local zoo in quite a while so I was kind of intrigued to see what was going on. Unfortunately, the zoo seems to be undergoing some financial hardship or something. It’s nice enough, but it seems to have a certain feel of neglect when it comes to the grounds. The animals looked very happy and well taken care of, which is the most important part of course.

After a much needed nap, we decided to go see “Bruce Almighty”. Great movie… very funny! I’m not a big Jim Carrey fan, but I didn’t find him too unbearable in this. I thought the movie was well done, and having lived in Western N.Y. a number of years ago, it was a kick to see all the Buffalo landmarks and such (it takes place in Buffalo).

After the movie we went to Turning Stone casino. We haven’t been there in about a year. The place has grown by leaps and bounds! Sad to say that we didn’t win anything, but had a good time nonetheless. I need to get away from the machines and start playing roulette again. Maybe when we go down to Philly next month we can make a side trip to Atlantic City on Saturday night.

Today’s been a lazy day… Rick and Helen headed out this morning – Earl and I have been catching up on laundry and I’ve been messing around with the computer, getting it tweaked to the way I like it. I’m doing pretty well with Mandrake still, though I’m having a couple of issues with my web page maintenance that I’ll work through somehow, even if I have to learn how to code the blasted things by hand.

Wishy Washy

Here it is Thursday already. I have heard speculation that time has actually sped up and has sped up quite a bit since 1987. Something about the frequency of the vibration of atoms like that. It sure has felt like time has sped up.

So I’m writing this blog entry on my computer at home, and I’m using Linux again. I downloaded the latest distro from Manrdake (9.1) and so far I like what I see. Now I know I said I was “Mr. Microsoft” a couple of weeks ago, and I still am at work, but I was dying to see what this latest incarnation of Mandrake looked like. So far, so good. It seems to be meeting my needs well. I’ll let you know if I’m still on the Linux bandwagon in a week. And I have to admit, I’ll probably be running some sort of distro of Linux (probably Debian) at work before the middle of June.

I re-read yesterday’s blog entry about Ruben Studdard, the American Idol winner. I can tell I wrote it in the “heat of the moment” but I still believe everything I say. It’s funny, the American Idol messageboards have been too much fun over the past 24 hours. I have this small mean streak that likes to get people all hot and bothered by my ridiculous comments on the boards. I’m not excessively mean spirited or anything, I just tend to use these reality show message boards as my stand-up routine practice.

Earl and I have been straight out with work all week, so we’ve been eating out quite a bit. His brother Rick (and his girlfriend Helen) are coming up for a visit this weekend, which I’m looking forward to. We haven’t seen them in a very long time, it’ll be good to get together. The weatherman said rain rain rain this weekend, so we’ll be doing a lot of indoor stuff. Earl wants to go bowling during Cosmic Bowling or something, so we’ll see how that goes.

We had a new riding mower delivered today. This thing is a kick. We had one we bought when we bought the house back in ’97, but it was a cheap one and seems to be made of mostly plastic and is starting to show it’s age. I did get the old one running again and have resurrected it, so Earl and I can mow the lawn together now – he on the new mower, and me on the old. It’ll be nice to have assistance with the lawn. We did the childish thing tonight and raced lawn mowers a couple of times. Surprisingly, the old one won both times, no matter who was driving it. I think it’s because it’s lighter.

Well I better catch up on this pile of e-mail I have.


Earl and I just finished watching the finale of “American Idol”. First of all, I’m surprised that I followed it, what with me being all anti-reality TV and all. But, once upon a time I had hopes of being a music teacher and I was the Program Director of a Top 40 radio station for five years, so I kind of get a kick to hear these people sing.

You’ve probably heard. Ruben Studdard won American Idol. Big deal. He wasn’t the best vocalist of the finalists, and he’s a lousy interview. Clay Aiken was clearly the better of the two but as we all know, you don’t really need talent to be a “pop star” these days. If anything, Clay was overqualified for the job. Now he can move onto something good.

Do I sound bitter? I’m not. I’m sure Ruben will have a great career, and with enough computer enhancement he’ll sound like the best of them. Hell, he could even sound like Cher with enough CPU power behind his voice. But when it comes to the basics, the boy can’t hold a note longer than four beats. He’s under the misguided perception that he has to “slide” all over a note. He has to add extra words. The spinning sound you heard earlier in the evening was Karen Carpenter in her grave in reaction to his rendition of “Superstar”. Last night, he sang John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Yoko Ono could have done better than Ruben. (And we all know what she sounds like). But the judges and crowd acted like he just walked across a lake. I must be missing something. Maybe I’m getting old.

Another problem I see… I perceive this boy to be terribly lazy. There’s no way he’ll ever keep up with the mental stress and physical demands of the job. Mark this down – Clay’s CD will outsell Ruben’s 2 to 1. Mark my words. Ruben Studdard will be “Ruben who?” by the year 2005. Clay Aiken will still be Clay Aiken, “Superstar” by 2007.

Mission Accomplished

I did it. I successfully rode “The Ride For Missing Children” yesterday. I rode every mile without incident. My bike held up great and I held up even better.

The day started at 4:00 a.m. – we had to be on school buses to be taken to the starting point at 5 a.m. (We had loaded our bikes on tractor trailers the night before). We were taken out to the N.Y. State Police Troop D headquarters in Oneida. Everyone spent a couple of hours getting organized and such. I had everything together and was sort of just standing there since I don’t know a lot of people in the ride and a guy came up to me as and asked if I had a riding partner. I told him that I didn’t, and he responded that he didn’t either and wanted to know if I’d mind partnering up with him. I didn’t mind at all (in fact I welcomed the company!) so my new friend Paul and I rode the ride together. It was great to make a new friend.

We hit the road a little after 8 a.m., and the ride took us about 105 miles through various communities in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, stopping by elementary and junior high schools for a quick break and to share the importance of safety with the kids – keeping away from strangers, etc. After hearing abduction stories yesterday, it is still unfathomable to me that an adult human being could be so cruel to a child (or to anyone for that matter).

The kids were so full of energy you couldn’t help but get pumped up for the next leg of the ride. We’d hand out pencils and give high-fives as were passing the huge “walls” of kids. Then we’d mingle about, showing them the equipment on our bikes and such I was even signing autographs! They were treating us like olympiads!

Coming up the home stretch around 7:30 last night there were hundreds of people lining the streets of Utica’s “main street” – Genesee Street, with sirens and horns blaring, lights flashing and a state police helicopter doing fly-bys. I rounded the corner for the New Hartford Rec. Center and saw a smiling face (albeit a little teary) – Earl was there cheering us on and taking pictures. All told, the ride was 105.66 miles. And I rode every single inch. I still can’t believe it.

I’m a little sore today (nothing that a few Advil can’t fix), but I’m so happy that I was able to give to something so worthwhile. I’m already looking forward to the ride next year. I’m joining the Mohawk Valley Bicycling Club and am going to start riding on the Wednesday night rides – getting to know people and all. And I’m going to start doing some volunteering with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

It’s good to contribute to the well-being of the world.

For the Health Of It

I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks training on my bike. No, not with training wheels. No, no. I’m training for “The Ride For Missing Children”, which is taking place on Friday, May 16. It’s a 110 mile ride through Central New York and the Mohawk Valley – raising money for the awareness and funds to support the missing children’s poster distribution program. It’s a wonderful cause, and I’m honored to be taking part in it.

I’m also cycling because I need to get a little more healthy. Last year I lost about 30 pounds, but I think I’ve gained five or so pounds back this year. What’s weird is that while I’m feeling better and stronger, I don’t seem to be losing any weight. Earl says that I’m turning the flab to fab (translated to muscle) but we’ll have to see.

So today I participated in a 40 mile training ride for The Ride. I felt really strong during the entire ride, though I have this thing going on with my left knee. I think I need to adjust my shoes.

Last night Earl and I drove down to the Palisades Center in Nyack. We wanted to enjoy a little drive and maybe see a movie – we settled on “The Ghost of the Abyss” in the IMAX theatre. It was our first time in an IMAX theatre and it was wicked cool. Afterwards, we went to this Brazilian buffet place where you have a little salt shaker type thing – you flip it over (with green on top) when you want the staff to stop by and drop some meat on your plate, flip it back to red when you’ve had your fill. Unfortunately, it got very busy and the waiters rarely stopped by. Customers around us were getting antsy (and hungry!). And the staff became a little frazzled and rude. It was not the best of experiences, and to add insult, they plopped a 15% tip on the check without asking. When they asked how everything was, Earl responded with “Terrible”, they smiled and said “Thank you.” Oh well.

The drive home was three and a half hours… getting us home at 1:30. I had to get up at 6:30 for the training ride, so that proved to be an interesting challenge. I snuck in a nap after lunch and now I’m golden. We’re going to go out for supper tonight. It should be fun.

From the land of the missing

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written in my blog (again!). There’s a reason for that.

Observant readers will note that there was a post on April 23rd that was up for around 36 hours and then deleted. Unfortunately, when I deleted the post, I REALLY deleted it and I can’t get it back. It’s a shame, because it was brilliant. It was a tirade about Reality TV, more specifically the cast of idiots on the current edition of Survivor. I’ve watched a couple of shows since, and I can tell you, they’re still a cast of idiots.

So why the deleted post. Here’s the deal. On April 25th, I received a call from a reality television show production company. A perky young casting director was excited to tell me that I had made it to the semi-finals of becoming a cast member on a reality TV show that is scheduled to air this summer. I really don’t know if I can say the name of the reality show because I can’t remember what I signed when I submitted my tape, and being the paranoid boy that I am, I’m just going to hold off on naming the show until it starts.

I had submitted two applications over the past six months. Last September I submitted a tape for this particular show, and then in January, I applied for Survivor 7. Since I haven’t heard anything from the folks at Survivor, I assume that they have no interest in me. My deleted blog entry talked about how if I ever got a response to either of my applications, I was gleefully going to tell them a resounding “NO”, I’m not interested. And quite frankly, that’s how I really felt. And no, I wasn’t a man scorned because they didn’t pick me.

So then I got this call on April 25th. Crow anyone? My heart jumped into my throat, a flock of butterflies attacked my stomach and I was EXCITED, I had made it to the semi-finals. While this was happening, Earl and I were on our way to suburban Syracuse to look at a new house. Talk about emotion overload.

So this perky casting director began to tell me what I needed to do to get ready for the interview that was to be taped in Boston on May 9 at 11:00 a.m. (which, by the way, happens to be right now as I type this entry). We were to become the best of friends over the next two weeks, get to know each other really well so that I would feel really comfortable during the interview and could be myself. But first and foremost, I couldn’t tell ANYONE, and that meant ANYONE that I was going to be on the show. Something about the National Enquirer finding out and printing a story or something and then I would be disqualified. So that night I did some research on the internet. I read the accounts of a couple of people who had made it to this show, and what they went through. The funny thing was, while they were told that they couldn’t tell anyone, they did tell their spouse. So the next day, I called the casting director and asked about telling Earl. Her response was something like – Well, you and Earl have been together for a long time (seven years I reminded her) and you’re not really married (because it’s not allowed where I live I reminded her) but usually we’d tell guys they can tell their wives…. it’s up to you.

You know, that didn’t sit quite right with me. Earl and I have often been accused of being inseparable. I rarely do anything without him and vice-versa. We’re not just lovers, we’re best friends. We enjoy each other’s company. We experience life together. The two of us make a sum of one. That’s the way we operate. And while I had his blessing to be on this reality show and possibly be away for a couple of months, I wanted him to be a part of it. I didn’t want to be all excited about this alone.

So I exchanged further niceties and blah blah blahs with the casting director, in which she told me about the virtues of a pedicure (not my bag quite frankly – just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I like pedicures) and she would send my package to me and we’d get this underway.

So on Tuesday, the 29th the FedEx didn’t arrive and I touched base with her once again, but we didn’t really chat it up a lot. And then on May 1st she called and said the package would be here on Friday, Saturday at the latest and she confirmed May 9, 11:00 a.m. in Boston. (By the way, it’s currently May 9 at 11:02 and look where I am).

I did tell Earl by the way. Actually, I lied to her on the initial call when she asked if I was alone. I wasn’t, Earl and I were on our way to looking at the house, and he was sitting next to me. So he knew about it the whole time.

So I thought about it for a couple of days. Did I really want to be perceived as a shallow reality TV show contestant? Did I want to be recognized in the mall as “the gay guy from Upstate N.Y. who made an idiot of himself on TV” or “Another fool going for his 15 minutes of fame”? For the record, I had my 15 minutes of fame, locally anyways, as “J.P. Marks” Rock 107, Hot 107, Fun 107 and Wow-FM. I’d been through the entertainment horseshit as the program director of Top 40 Wow-FM. (Everyone is your best friend until you no longer fulfill a need of theirs). Did I want to jump back into that world again?

The answer is NO. So on Saturday, May 3, I called the perky casting director. I got her answering machine so I left a polite message saying, no, I’m not interested in going any further, thank you for the consideration, but I have personal obligations to fulfill, charity bike rides to go on and personal goals to be accomplished. Consider me withdrawn.

I’ve never felt better.

Honestly, I couldn’t fathom the thought of leaving Earl for the summer. I couldn’t screw the company I work for by giving them less than a week’s notice and taking off for who knows how long. I couldn’t lie to the faces of my family, friends and co-workers when asked where I was today.

Am I a coward? Hardly. Am I foolish? Maybe. Am I being true to myself? You betcha.

I had originally planned for May 8th and 9th to be an overnight bike ride to the 1000 Islands. Yesterday, I made the trip to Selkirk Shores State Park. After 75 miles (and one flat tire) I got there around 4:00 and set up camp. I ate a little supper and then got a phone call on my cell phone. Earl was en route to bring me some food and visit. Good thing – the temperature dropped into the mid 40s and I was freezing my ass off. We walked around a bit, and then I decided to head home. Oh well. At least I made the ride I meant to accomplish.

Tomorrow is a training ride for The Ride For Missing Children. I need today to rest my knee which is kind of sore today. So I’m taking it easy. And thinking about how great life really is.