Friday, December 30, 2005


Someone has done a study of the relative funniness of the justices of the Supreme Court, according to a NY Times story. To no one's surprise, Justice Antonin Scalia was been found to be the funniest, based on the number of times "[laughter]" appeared in the court transcripts of the 2004 term. Scalia is known to be a quick wit, and many feel he deliberately plays to the crowd. (He's a bit behind Breyer this year, but he's got plenty of time to catch up.)

Personally, Justice Scalia provokes more tears than laughter. I guess it's too much to hope that after seeing this study he'll resign from the Court for a career as a comedian. "Here come da judge, here come da judge" (warning: you have to watch a commercial before viewing the clip).


'belem brazil blog holiday "we stayed"'

I know the day is young, but I think this might hold up as the weirdest to reach this blog today.


Someone has come up with chocolate-covered clementines.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


I was up at the corner of Amsterdam and 96th St., not an area I frequent, when I saw a very handsome building with three story columns flanking similar height windows--and noticed it was a CVS Pharmacy. A very impressive building for a drugstore, I remarked to my companions.

Of course it wasn't built for CVS. A close inspection of a copper plaque near the roofline disclosed that this was originally an East River Savings Bank.

Banks used to build such structures so people would be assured their money was in a safe, solid institution. Today people realize their bank deposits are just electronic entries in some computer, and seldom even see their bank, unless they go there to use the ATM. Now the banks are grabbing storefronts left and right, so people don't have to go more than a couple blocks to do their banking--at least the part they can't do from their home computers.

So the banks have gotten rid of a lot of their big, solid, expensive, obsolete buildings--with all the bank mergers, there were a lot of unnecessary branches anyhow. This one became a drugstore, with a private school upstairs. The East River Savings Bank across from the World Trade Center became part of the Century 21 Department Store. A former New York Savings Bank with a huge dome is becoming the new Balducci's gourmet market--after being a carpet store for a while. And the original Bowery Savings Bank, designed by Stanford White, is now a catering hall.

Even smaller bank locations change functions. I get my menswear from Rothman's on Union Square, which features a number of former banks. I am always amused by the fact that the changing rooms are the little rooms people used to look at their safe deposit boxes in--and the expensive Hickey-Freeman suits are kept in the safe, with its 18" thick door! My wife now shops where she used to have a safe deposit box--the former Manufacturers Hanover branch is now a Gap store--though it still has the original magnificent bronze entryway.

A quick Google showed I wasn't the first person to notice this trend. But it always seems a bit sad to me to see one of these monumental edifices put to such mundane uses.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Shootout at Ga. Wal-Mart Injures Suspect

I've said it before: Wal-Mart is a dangerous place. Avoid it.


"Did you know that Rasputins penis was 30 cm?"

And look where it got him.

Monday, December 26, 2005


After hosting some friends for a holiday luncheon we braved the crowds at the Metropolitan Art Musuem to see the Fra Angelico exhibition. Before we went to that, though, one of our friends wanted to see the little one of Antonello da Messina: Sicily’s Renaissance Master. I think she said she had once done a paper on him for an art history course. Frankly, I had never heard of him before.
We were stopped for a while by the Museum staff so they could convey part of the line of people waiting to get into the Van Gogh drawings, but it was worth the wait. Though there are only a handful of Antonello's works in this exhibition, I was very impressed. The expressions on the men in his portraits were wonderful--not the very serious-looking way people usually want themselves to be seen. His Virgin Annunciate showed a real young woman, not the idealized figure so often seen. Antonello's drawing of her hands was amazing, way ahead of his time (ca. 1430-1479)--but I do have to wonder if the women of biblical times were actually able to read.

Eventually we made our way downstairs, stopping to let our friends get a quick view of the Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche. Then it was on to the Fra Angelico. Him I had heard of, though that was about it--I really didn't know any of his work in particular.

He preceded Antonello only by a bit: he was born sometime between 1390 and 1395, and lived until 1450. He entered the Dominican order in about 1420, and most of his commissions were for altarpieces for his own monastery and other Dominican houses.

Thus most of his work is too large to transport for an exhibition like this--though some of what was on view had been cut from altarpieces back in the nineteenth century. Most, however, were small scale works. Even though some were only a few inches square, he was able to portray faces rather realistically. Some of his faces just stared off into space, but others seemed very engaged in the scenes being portrayed--I was very drawn to one of John the Baptist almost leering.

I don't think I'll ever like painters like Antonello da Messina and Fra Angelico as much as Van Gogh or Matisse, but I can enjoy exhibitions of their works. It was not a wasted two hours by any means.


'blind date "doing splits"' found this blog. Someone from Poland.


Because the earth has slowed down, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service has decided to add a leap second to the end of the year. This will be the first one in seven years.

What this means is that, unless they are careful, people will be celebrating the start of 2006 a second too soon. Here is the U.S. it's not that difficult to get it right, because the extra second will come at right before 7:00pm EST on December 31. So we just have to reset our clocks after that.

The people in the UK, and anyone else in that time zone, will have it more difficult, because the extra second will occur right before midnight. They'll just have to wait a second to celebrate.

The international pact controlling all this allows leap seconds to be put in on June 30 also. But instead they insist on doing it the one time of the year when people really care when midnight is. I really think they are sadists--they're doing it just to torture people.


Food Tax Sends Tenn. Shoppers Out of State read the headline, and I was amazed. I didn't think food was taxed anywhere in the US, but I see I was wrong. I'm shocked that the people of any state tolerate such a retrogressive tax.

And just a couple days ago I was listening to the Beatles' "Taxman" and thinking how things were never really as bad as in the song. I guess I was wrong. At least in Tennessee.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Last night we went to see Pride & Prejudice, the umpteenth remake of Jane Austin's classic novel. It's the ninth, according to the Internet Movie Database, but maybe I'm confused because I get all of her novels mixed up: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Emma, Mansfield Park, all of which I've seen in the last decade or so. Maybe it would have helped if I had actually read any of them, but I haven't.

I try to avoid the reviews of movies, etc. before I see them, so I won't be, er, prejudiced. But even so, I had heard the buzz that Matthew MacFadyen was no Colin Firth, the Mr. Darcy in the much-acclaimed 1995 BBC miniseries. Well, as an actor MacFayden did just fine, but as a handsome hunk...let's just say that I can't see anyone swooning at the sight of him. But he's good-looking enough that the 10,000 a year income made his Mr. Darcy's attraction understandable.

On the other hand, I thought Keira Knightly was too attractive to portray Elizabeth Bennet. I kept wondering why all the men weren't swooning at the sight of her. Director Joe Wright thought so also at first, but then said her tomboyish attitude was perfect for the part. Well, maybe the attitude is tomboyish, but the face isn't, particularly when it is enhanced by the very light but still noticeable make-up she wears in the film. She was drop-dead gorgeous, as far as I'm concerned, and her beauty always seemed at odds with her role in the film.

All that aside, the movie was quite good. Emma Thompson did an uncredited re-write of the script (though there was a note of "special thanks" to her at the end), and everything flowed quite nicely--right up to the end, when a scene that was added that most certainly was not in the book. Jane Austin never wrote such a gooey, "they lived happily ever after" episode I'm sure. It stuck out like a sore thumb.

The acting was excellent. Brenda Blethyn, who I liked so much in Secrets and Lies, was splendid playing a mother of a completely different era here. Judi Dench was appropriately outrageous as Lady Catherine de Bourg, and Donald Sutherland handled the role of the father of five marriageable daughters in a rather understated way--even his accent wasn't noticeable. Only the odious clergyman cousin, Mr. Collins, fell short. He did not seem quite odious enough to me.

The sets were great, the cinematography excellent, though I'm not too sure of the costumes--Austen wrote the novel in 1797, and I'm not sure the men's fashions of that year were as advanced as the film depicts. And I think I caught a continuity error when Darcy's boots changed from all back to black and brown in one scene.

Nevertheless I enjoyed the film very much. I wonder if they'll ever show it as a double feature with Fiddler on the Roof--both have five poor sisters trying to get married.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


"Spermamax can get pregnant even a man."

Now that is really big news.


My friend Betty has perpetuated the Meme of Fours over in her blog. I can meme-itate her:

Four jobs you've had in your life: donut shop clerk; advertising salesperson for a college newspaper; civil service attorney; mainframe computer programmer

Four movies you could watch over and over: Star Wars; A Night at the Opera; What's Up, Doc?; Klute

Four places you've lived: Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin; Greenwich Village; Upper East Side

Four TV shows you love to watch: Masterpiece Theater; Mystery!; Law and Order; World Series of Poker

Four places you've been on vacation: Constanta, Romania; Sark; Martinique; Berkshires, western MA

Four websites you visit daily: (en)gender message boards; New York Times; 1010WINS; PlanetOut

Four of your favorite foods: ice cream, bread, pasta, potatoes

Four places you'd rather be: there's no place I'd rather be

Friday, December 23, 2005


This appeared in my inbox:
Congress today announced that the office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to India as of December 30th, 2005.

The move is being made to save the President's $400,000 yearly salary, and also a record $521 billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead the office has incurred during the last 5 years.

"We believe this is a wise move financially. The cost savings should be significant," stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-WA). Reynolds, with the aid of the Government Accounting Office, has studied outsourcing of American jobs extensively. "We cannot expect to remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay", Reynolds noted.

Mr. Bush was informed by email this morning of his termination.

Preparations for the job move have been underway for sometime. Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India will be assuming the Office of President as of December 30th.

Mr. Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, thus making him eligible for the position.

He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month but with no health coverage or other benefits.

It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without a support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily at night, when few offices of the US Government will be open.

"Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the American Express call center" stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview. "I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be President someday."

A Congressional Spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of President, this should not be a problem because Mr. Bush was not familiar with the issues either. Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most topics of concern. Using these canned responses, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issues at all.

"We know these scripting tools work," stated the spokesperson. "President Bush has used them successfully for years." Mr. Singh may have problems with the Texas drawl, but lately Bush has abandoned the "down home" persona in his effort to appear intelligent and on top of the Katrina situation.

Bush will receive health coverage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment. Following a two week waiting period, he will be eligible for $240 a week unemployment for 13 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid, as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit.

Mr. Bush has been provided the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Mr. Bush may have difficulties in securing a new position due to limited practical work experience. A Greeter position at Wal-Mart was suggested due to Bush's extensive experience shaking hands and phony smile.

Another possibility is Bush's re-enlistment in the Texas Air National Guard. His prior records are conspicuously vague but should he choose this option, he would likely be stationed in Waco, TX for a month, before being sent to Iraq, a country he has visited.

"I've been there, I know all about Iraq," stated Mr. Bush, who gained invaluable knowledge of the country in a visit to the Baghdad Airport's terminal and gift shop.

Sources in Baghdad and Falluja say Mr. Bush would receive a warm reception from local Iraqis. They have asked to be provided with details of his arrival so that they might arrange an appropriate welcome.


"R.I. Couple Finds Rare Pear in Clam"
caught my eye. But it was a typo. "Pear" was missing an "l" at the end.


Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish were joined in civil union under the new law in the UK yesterday. I believe that the wife of a knight is called Lady xxx, but what title does Furnish get?

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I just started a new half gallon of "non-fat" milk. It tasted good. It definitely had some fat in it. I wonder what the rules are on that sort of thing.

I'm sure there's been a little bit of fat allowed in "non-fat" milk for a long time. When I was a child skimmed milk, as it was called then, had a bluish tinge around the edges, but you don't see that anymore.


"Sides Try to Prevent London Subway Strike"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


I think once every generation there has to be a transit strike in New York City--maybe just so the newer transit workers will no longer have to listen in silence to the old-timers talking about the last one. Since the Metropolitan Transit Authority seems to have money to give away, with its holiday discount fares, it's as good a time as any for the workers to go out.

Personally, I'm trying to avoid the whole thing as much as possible. We cancelled the CDI open house for this evening, and the next thing on my calendar is a dinner with friends in Brooklyn on Friday. Otherwise, I'm staying home, or at least going no further than I can walk in the cold.


Saturday, 12/17: Eleven hours after leaving the Ax-Stoltzman concert we were back at the Metropolitan Museum to see the Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings exhibition. Because it is so popular, museum members are allowed in at 9:00am to get a head start on the crowds. Though most of the drawings are good-sized, and could be viewed from a distance, it was nice not to have to jockey for position when I wanted to see them close up. Even by 11:30 it wasn't too bad, at least in the last room. (It was also nice not having very many little children in the galleries, making noise and getting underfoot.)

Van Gogh has been my favorite "modern" artist for a long time--though lately Matisse has been giving him a run for the money. So I was looking forward to this exhibition, despite that the drawings would not have van Gogh's colors, which is one of the main things that makes me like his work so much. There were a few paintings in the exhibition for comparison, however.

Van Gogh worked very quickly. He did over 1,100 drawings in his slightly over 10 year career as an artist, which did not start until he was in his late 20's. He was largely self-taught, and it was interesting to see his development with the chronological display of his works.

The most interesting thing to me, though, was when he did drawings after finishing a painting. Most artists use drawings only as preparation for the painting, but van Gogh frequently did them afterwards, as a means of showing people in other cities what he had just done. This was long before the days of faxes, scanners and digital cameras. Often he would send off drawings to a number of people--but the drawings did not always look the same. He varied them depending on the recipient. What he sent to his brother would not match what he sent to a possible patron. He also sometimes wrote in the colors he used, especially when writing his brother--it reminded me of the Paint-By-Numbers kits of my childhood.

I enjoyed the exhibition, though I must admit I spent more time looking at the few paintings than at most of the drawings. It was worth getting out early for it.


After the van Gogh we were hungry so we went down to the new cafeteria in the basement. While it is a strictly utilitarian space, unlike the beautiful cafeteria/restaurant/bar the Met used to have, the food was much, much better. But it wasn't cheap. The salad bar is $9.60/lb.

After lunch we did the obligatory stops in the restrooms. As usual I finished first, so I wandered into the mini-gift shop conveniently located nearby. I got a very nice CD (that's compact disk in this context), called "Painters in Paris," a Museum Music compilation that was created as a "companion" to the Painters in Paris: 1895-1950 exhibition. I was really interested in the two Josephine Baker songs. I had seen silent movies of her, but I had never heard a recording. It turns out her voice was quite different than I imagined--much lower-pitched.


That evening we went and saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It was cute, though I'm not sure I like the new Dumbledore. I guess the death of a sympathetic character necessitated the PG-13 rating.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


"Man, Girl Shot at Wal-Mart in New Mexico"

Yeah, Wal-Mart is a dangerous place. Stay out of them.


Friday, 12/16: We went to a nice concert at the Metropolitan Museum by Emanuel Ax and Richard Stoltzman, playing the piano and clarinet respectively. Debussy, Brahms, Bernstein, Beaser and Foss were the composers--the last two present in the audience.

The clarinet is not my favorite instrument. It usually has a very shrill, unpleasant sound to my ears. Only the most skilled players can make it sound good to me, but Stoltzman is one of the best I've ever heard. He was always in total control of his instrument, which was really necessary in Debussy's Première Rhapsodie, which was used as an examination piece for aspiring clarinetists.

Stoltzman preceded some of the pieces with short remarks, usually humorous. After one, Ax whispered something to him causing him to laugh uncontrollably. They were having fun, and the audience was, too. They both played wonderfully.

Ax was looking good--I think he's lost some weight recently. Stoltzman always presents a very slight figure--I think he must get his clothes in the boys' department. His boyishness is heighted by his haircut--sort of the old Beatles' cut--except Stolzman's hair is gray. It really looks silly.

I had never heard of Robert Beaser, but his pieces were quite good. The last of the four they played, "Ground 0," was the single somber one. This was Beaser's reaction to 9/11, and ended with Stoltzman slowly walking off to the rear of the stage as he played the final bars. Octagenarian Lukas Foss' "Three American Pieces," some sixty years old, ended the program. Stoltzman thanked Foss for allowing them to perform them, since he was sure Foss would have preferred them to play something he had written the previous week.

A Gershwin piece was the encore. They brought Beaser and Foss up to the stage to join them in receiving the audience's appreciation.

The only thing that marred the evening was the couple behind us. She wore a jangling bracelet she could not keep still and refused to remove, and they brought along their grandson, who sniffled throughout the first half of the concert. And there was a guy a few rows back who should have been in bed with his cough.


Thursday, 12/15: While I might have had more fun at the Stonewall Democrats' holiday party down at the Girlsroom, the "hot new lesbian nightclub on the Lower East Side," I answered the call of spousal duty, put on a jacket and tie, and went with my wife to the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) Members' Holiday Fête. It was held at the French Consulate on Fifth Avenue--a just slightly fancier address than the Girlsroom's. Of course these days the Lower East Side is not exactly the hellhole slum it used to be.

Actually, the FIAF party wasn't bad, once you got past the perfunctory security check at the front door. (The guy asked me if I had anything in my pockets!) Also, once you navigated the horribly laid-out buffet table. (I really think culinary schools should include some lessons on elementary systems analysis: sequential vs. random access, entry and exit points, bottlenecks, etc.) The food was very good, if you could get to it. The champagne was quite nice, and they had enough for most of the evening. When they did run out though, there was still plenty of regular wine. It was served in large glasses which they filled completely. I was feeling the effects of the alcohol by the end.

There was a traditionally-costumed woman strolling around playing a French accordian, which was almost inaudible in the din. I'm not sure the costume was totally authentic, though--did Frenchwomen traditionally wear leopard-print tights?

I did experience a rather interesting bit of gender dynamics at one point. We arrived a bit late. A friend had already been there a short while, and she told us there was this guy following her around bothering her, paying her ridiculous, exaggerated compliments. She had tried to get him to stop, but he wouldn't listen. Sure enough, as we were standing and talking, he comes up and asks me, "Isn't she the most attractive woman here?" I said, "No, she is," pointing to my wife. He dismissed my response and started going at our friend again directly. She asked him if he knew the French phrase, "Laissez moi seule?" (I think that was it)--this was the FIAF party, an organization dedicated to French learning, after all. It was pretty obvious he didn't understand it, so I said, slowly and forcefully, "It means 'leave her alone.'" He took one look at me, and disappeared. I didn't see him again all evening. It's really sad that he wouldn't leave her alone until a man told him to. And it was really weird having to "act like a man"--something I really haven't concerned myself with for the last few years.

The truth was, our friend did look very attractive, wearing a great scarf that was just perfectly arranged on her shoulders. There were a good number of women with great outfits there--and a few gorgeously dressed little girls, also. But the hands- down winner was this tiny woman "of a certain age," as the French say, wearing this stunning gold, bubbly top that continued up to become a head-dress. I'd be willing to bet this piece graced a model on some Parisian designer's runway some number of decades ago.

At one point there were a few remarks from the French Consul Général. He pointed out the ambassador was in attendance--I assume this was the French ambassador to the U.N., not the one to the U.S., who is normally in Washington. The head of FIAF also spoke, and eventually the door prizes were awarded. The grand prize was a pair of round-trip tickets to Paris, courtesy of American Airlines (not Air France--hmmm). But we didn't win it, or anything else for that matter--the basket of goodies from Fauchon would have been very nice, also.

After a couple hours it was over, and we joined the long line to reclaim our coats. The checkroom operation was close to chaos. Several people were working there. They tried to get ahead by going up the line and collecting tickets. The problem was, we were still a distance from the actual checkroom when one took the ticket, so when the coats were retrieved we weren't yet at the checkroom to get them. When we did get to the front of the line, our guy was working on someone else. Presumably he just put the coats down when he couldn't find us. My wife lost her patience, went into the checkroom, found our coats and took them herself.

I wonder if they'd consider subleasing the coatcheck operation to the German consulate.


We went home, had a little dinner, and watched the final episode of the costume epic/soap opera Rome on HBO on Demand. It's the Ides of March, so you may have some idea of what happens. They have announced there will be another season of the series. I wonder how they will explain Mark Antony and Cleopatra, since they never showed her coming to Rome where she met him--at least that's how Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor did it.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


I see this blog is number one on MSN search for "caprice naked." Dream on, guys.

Friday, December 16, 2005


A number of people have been eagerly waiting for this post, so I won't keep them in suspense any longer.

As I previously explained, last week I won a "Date with a Straight" in a silent auction to benefit a Monster Bar bartender savagely beaten a few weeks ago. The "straight" was Seth, a manager at the bar, whose clientele and staff are mostly gay. I thought he might enjoy coming to the Crossdressers International (CDI) Holiday Dinner, which was held on Wednesday. As for me, frankly I really wasn't the least bit desirous of a traditional date à deux. I'm not interested in dating anyone, being happily, monogamously married for 17 years. So a big group dinner seemed just the thing.

We left voice mail messages for each other, eventually actually talked to each other, and worked out the logistics. He would go directly to the restaurant, El Quijote in the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street at 8:00pm. I would have had him come to the CDI apartment first, but on dinner nights the place is already overcrowded with people changing. I told him I might be a little late. Since I take a long time with my make-up, I'm usually one of the last ones ready (this was particularly true when I was coming directly from work). So it's generally my job to lock up the apartment and bring the stragglers to the restaurant.

As it happened, this time I wasn't late. Since I retired I am able to start dressing earlier, and I only had to wait for one person to finish. She was done at 7:45, so we went out, found a cab fairly quickly, and were at the restaurant five minutes early. (Curiously, we arrived right before the group that had left CDI 10 or 12 minutes before us--they couldn't find a cab near the apartment, and after 10 minutes walked up to a busier intersection. We were much luckier.)

Seth hadn't arrived, which was understandable since I told him I might be late. I saved us a couple of seats, and then went around greeting some of the people who had come directly to the restaurant. When it was a few minutes after 8:00 and he still wasn't there, I decided to call him to see if there was a problem. I had just gotten my phone out when I saw him making his way past the bar--it helped that he's very tall. He made his way to the room we were given in the rear, and I made introductions.

We sat and talked for a bit, as the restaurant staff worked to accommodate our overflow crowd. I think we had told them we expected 20 people, and they had arranged seating for that number plus a couple extra. But that wasn't enough. Twenty-six people showed up in all. (Despite our asking people to RSVP, we never really know how many are coming. My rule of thumb is to take the number of people who RSVP, multiply by two, and pray.) There was plenty of space in the room, but they had no empty tables to put there. Eventually some people finished their dinners, and the restaurant staff did their furniture moving.

I've been going to the Monster for years, and Seth has worked there for years, but I still didn't know him. He is usually off on Wednesdays, when I usually go. So I started with the inevitable question: How did a straight guy end up working at a gay bar? (It was very inevitable--I heard someone else ask him that when I got up for a few moments to do my duties as CDI treasurer.) He said it was just an accident. He was going around from place to place in the Village leaving his resumé, and the Monster had just opened when he arrived. There were only a couple of guys at the bar. It was only on his way out, after an initial interview downstairs, when he noticed that the place had filled up with men. He said it was an advantage being a straight guy managing s gay bar, because no one could accuse him of favoritism.

Eventually, the waitress came and took our drink orders. Seth ordered a Coke, while I had my usual apple martini. (I thought perhaps he might not drink alcohol (probably another advantage for someone working in a bar), but later events proved that false.) We did the usual blind date talk, where are you from, what did you do before, etc. etc. We established that I am twice his age (sigh). Seth is an actor. He has done dinner theater in Alaska, and (I think he said) Arizona. (Dinner theater in Alaska??!! It's connected to the cruise ships that stop there.) We talked about his work schedule: 10-5 weekdays, 8-5 on the weekends. That's 10pm-5am!! Sometimes he doesn't see the sun for weeks. Which makes up for his summers in Alaska, where it never sets.

There was a DJ in the next room, and while we waited for the food some of the CDIers did a sing-along. We also noticed that a lot of the guys from there took the long way around through our room to get to the men's room. Hmmm. Maybe I should have brought along some CDI membership applications to pass out.

Dinner proceeded. We both had the white bean soup to start. Seth had the salmon, I had veal scallopine (though El Quijote is a Spanish restaurant, our limited menu only included one Spanish dish--paella, which was too much for my corset). The food is good there (and they treat us nicely), which is why CDI has had its holiday dinner there three years in a row. I finished with a nice flan. Seth, watching his non-existent waistline, passed on dessert.

About 10:30 or so things concluded. I paid the checks, both the main one for everyone's food, and the separate one for Seth's and my drinks (it's so nice when the restaurant will do separate drink checks--it's always a hassle when I have to try to collect from people at the end). We reclaimed our coats (it was the first time this year I hauled out my fur--faux, of course: an awful lot of polyesters had to die to make that coat). At the door Seth pointed out the statue of Don Quixote (as I'll spell it). He said it was his dream to play that role. He wanted to do it when he worked in Arizona, but they said he was too young. He did get to understudy it, though.

Seth had promised that at the end of the date he would take the winner back to the Monster for a drink, and several other people wanted to continue the evening there. So we divided into fours for the cabs. But 23rd between 7th and 8th is always a difficult block for cabs, I've found, so we went over to 7th where we found one pretty quickly.

When we got to the Monster, Seth was back on his home turf. The staff was surprised to see him dressed up, and some kidded him a bit. He got us drinks, getting a very potent margarita for himself. He also got one for another off-duty Monster staffer, one of the MenVogue group from the benefit show last week, I think. We (by then a about 10 people from the dinner) went downstairs and got tables by the stage. Seth went off to find someone with a camera, to immortalize our date (I don't think anyone took a picture of us at the dinner--drat). Tommy did the honors. I hope I can get a copy.

Eight of us, including Seth and me, got up and danced. We filled up the entire central area of the smallish dancefloor, and drew a bit of an audience. He remarked about how unusual a sight it must be for them, with so many women on the dancefloor, but it really wasn't that much. Most Wednesdays we're out there, though usually not quite so many--he's just unused to Wednesdays at the Monster.

We danced for a bit, then returned to our tables to wait for the show. It was the week for the monthly "Peoples' Choice" talent contest, instead of Jesse Volt's regular show. This was actually the fifth one, but I had somehow missed all of the previous ones (I'm not there every week). We waited, and waited. Many of the other people from CDI left--it was getting too late for them. Seth asked me if I wanted another drink, but I opted for just a diet Coke. I was already getting sleepy. He told me a bit about the MenVogue act from the previous week. I was surprised to hear they had only rehearsed twice--I guess they were fast learners. He said one of them was really uncomfortable in drag, and was out of his dress the moment the show was over. The others were partying at the Splash Bar in their finery later.

Eventually, 40 minutes late, the show started. Jesse did an introduction, and Monica Monroe performed first. Then came a series of very similar acts: very thin, fairly tall, African-American drag lipsyncers wearing long blonde wigs. They all danced quite athleticly, most doing splits. (Later someone remarked that she thought it was a spoof, the same person coming out again and again.) There were only a couple significant variations: one guy who sang a song with his own voice, and one who came out in African garb, who eventually disrobed to show a highly surgically-enhanced body. The scars on the undersides of her breasts were quite visible. A couple of the performers had a pair of women-born-women back-up dancers. I think Seth and I were both more interested in them than in the main performers--remember, Seth is straight.

After, I think, 12 contestants the three top ones (as determined by the loudness of the applause via a sound meter) were announced. Two were blonde clones, one actually had dark hair. Jesse presented them with their prizes, and the show was finally over. Twelve contestants is too much, especially if they are going to start so late. I guess they can't do anything about the similarity of the acts, other than to have fewer of them.

Seth and I, and the one remaining person I had to get back to the CDI apartment, went upstairs and got our coats. He got us into a cab and said goodnight. Thus ended my "Date with a Straight."

It was fun. Seth is a good conversationalist, and it was nice having someone new to talk to at dinner--I've heard most of the CDI members' stories many times already. So if there are any straight women-born-women out there looking for a tall, twenty-something actor/gay bar manager, check out Seth. Tell him Caprice sent you.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


"With our Super Viagra you can fuck even in the bathroom for hours."

Wow! Even in the bathroom! I can't wait for a type that will let me fuck in the kitchen.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


It's December, which means it's time for a host of holiday traditions. I've pretty much rid myself of most of them, but one that stubbornly refuses to leave is the P.D.Q. Bach concert which somehow always sneaks itself into my calendar between Christmas and New Year's. This year it's "P.D.Q. Bach: A 40-year retrogressive--An overview of classical music’s underbelly," on the 27th.

For 40 years "Professor" Peter Schickele has been "discovering" the works of P.D.Q. Bach. Johan Sebastian Bach had 20-odd children, and P.D.Q. was the oddest, according to the "Professor." He most certainly was the worst composer.

Forty years ago Juilliard composition instructor Peter Schickele realized that his job wouldn't give him the time he needed to compose the music he wanted to write. The problem was, it was practically impossible to be a full-time classical composer. It just didn't pay enough. He came up with a solution. He and his friends had been putting on little classical music satire shows to the great delight of the Julliard students. He figured he could put together a full-length concert and tour with it around the college campuses. A six-month tour would bring him enough money so he could do serious composition the rest of the year. Thus the entirely fictional P.D.Q. Bach was born.

And thus I first encountered "Professor" Schickele as a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967--when he slid down a rope from the balcony and ran up on to the stage, just as it was being announced that he was missing and the concert would have to be cancelled. I roared with laughter, and I've been roaring at his jokes ever since--at least when I'm not hissing at the bad ones. It's part of the fun.

In fact it's most of the fun. The music is silly, and a two-hour concert of it would soon get quite boring. But Schickele's joke-ridden introductions to each piece make the evening very enjoyable.

So this year it's the "40-year retrogressive," with selections from the various decades of concerts. It's been a long time since Schickele slid down a rope, let alone since he swung on a rope à la Tarzan from the box seats to the stage of Carnegie Hall, (he's 70 years old now), but I'm sure he'll be as late as ever. Just as I'm sure his "Manager of the Stage" will be hissed by the audience, and his shirt-tail will be flapping outside his pants.

If you want a preview, listen to WQXR this Sunday at 11:00am. 96.3FM in the New York area, around the world on the web at But order your tickets fast.

Monday, December 12, 2005


The internet is a marvelous thing. I don't know if I would ever have found my true gender identity without it. I pay my bills on it (though I actually did that online for years before the internet), order my groceries, and do all kinds of shopping. I get most of my news from it.

But what I'm enjoying right now is listening to the radio broadcast of my college's basketball game from back in Wisconsin. If I wanted, I could listen to the opponent's hometown broadcast of the same game. This weekend there will be 85 college games broadcast over the web by Yahoo, counting both men's and women's--not to mention a few hockey games--and a wrestling match. It's not quite free, but for only $4.95 a month I can listen to all the Wisconsin games. And I'll unsubscribe in the spring when they stop playing.

The internet is a marvelous thing.


From Reuters' "Oddly Enough News:"
Man loses bet by staying alive
Dec 12, 12:26 PM (ET)

LONDON (Reuters) - A 91-year-old British man who staked a 500-pound bet that he would be dead by the end of the first week in December lost his stake by staying alive, a bookmaker said Saturday.

Arthur King-Robinson said he put the bet on at odds of 6/1 at the start of the year because his wife would have faced an inheritance tax bill of 3000 pounds had he died in the intervening period.

"I thought I'd heard most things that people want to bet on after 30 years in the business," said Graham Sharpe, spokesman for bookmaker William Hill. "But one asking literally to place a dead cert was unique. I'm glad Arthur has lost."

King-Robinson had feared that his wife Cynthia, 85, would have to sell the home they had lived in for 50 years in southwest England if she had been hit by the tax bill.

"I lost my 500 pounds -- but it gave me peace of mind," he said.

I don't know what they call this kind of bet in the UK, but over here we call it "life insurance." More precisely, "term life insurance." Thousands of such policies are taken out every day, I'm sure. The only thing odd about it is the age of the buyer, and the business of the seller. I wonder if he could have gotten a better deal by going to a real life insurance company. Of course, they probably would have had him take a physical exam.


TUESDAY, 12/6: My wife and I went down to the LGBT Center for the monthly (en)gender (formerly MHB) couples discussion group, run by Helen Boyd, author of My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser. There were about 20 people there, including about 7 couples--almost too big for a discussion.

After that I went (sans wife) for a quick drink with some of the people at the nearby Art Bar (which we like to call the Aardvark because someone had mis-heard it that way.) We were in a very nice rear room, which I didn't know the bar had.

Then four of us walked down a few blocks to the Perry Street Theater, where Eddie Izzard was trying out some new stand-up comedy material. Izzard is a crossdresser, though he wasn't crossdressed for this performance, and I don't think he mentioned anything about it. I had quite a bit of trouble understanding his British accent--I kept wanting to get the remote control and turn on the closed-captions. Since I didn't understand a lot of what he was saying, I tended to doze off. One bit I think I did hear was how the story of Mary's virgin birth of Jesus was based on the possible mistranslation of a word in Classical Greek, the original language of the "New Testament." Izzard said that the word could mean "virgin," but it could also mean "young maiden"--changing "the virgin Mary gave birth" to "the young maiden Mary gave birth," which is a very different thing.

Unfortunately, I think Izzard got his facts a little confused. The verse he quoted uses a Greek word that could only mean "virgin." The ambiguous word was in Hebrew, in the Book of Isaiah--which many Christians believe is a prophecy of the coming of the messiah. It is there where the possible mistranslation occurred.

WEDNESDAY, 12/7: In the afternoon I went to a meeting of a delegation representing the NYS GENDA Coalition with Dan Conviser, the counsel to the NY State Assembly Central Staff. There we gave him some background on the bill (my part was to outline some of examples of the discrimination gender-variant people have encountered), and answered some of his questions. Lisa Mottet, from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, joined us to explain what other states and localities had done in this area. She also presented a list of the Fortune 500 companies that had added gender identity and expression to their non-discrimination policies--with the ones that are headquartered in NY State highlighted. We also wanted to find out if the rumors that the Central Staff had some objections to the wording of the bill were true.

After the meeting I went shopping for a bit, and then I returned to the Crossdressers International (CDI) apartment for the usual Wednesday open house. Wendi made split-pea soup and pepper steak for dinner. Both were very good. I changed out of my skirt suit into a less formal outfit. After the open house some of us went down to the Monster Bar in Greenwich Village, for some drinks and Jesse Volt's drag show. This week, however, Jesse's show was replaced by a fundraiser for Kyle, the Monster bartender who had been viciously beaten by some homophobes on his way home from work a few weeks ago. Jesse did hostessing duties for this also. It started with a group from the NY Gay Men's Chorus, who not only performed but presented $250 which they had collected for Kyle. A couple of individual acts followed, and Ariel Sinclair did a number. Jesse returned to the stage with her signature Cher lip-sync impersonation. Finally four of the Monster bartenders, calling themselves "MenVogue," did a drag number. They looked great (well one did look rather guy-ish). (One of them told me later it was only his third time in drag--though I suspect they may have gotten some amount of help from Jesse and Ariel.) They danced quite well--obviously they rehearsed a lot.

There was a silent auction for some paintings which was announced. Wendi put in a bid on one of the Wicked Witch of the West--she said it reminded her of her aunt. They also announced an auction for "A Date with a Straight." One of the Monster managers, Seth, said he wanted to help out Kyle by auctioning off a date with him--except he was straight. Jesse asked him how far he would go on the date. Obviously it was something Seth hadn't thought about. I decided I'd try to get him out of his predicament (and also help Kyle, of course), by bidding for the date. I got outbid, and had to bid a higher amount, but I won! Seth will be my date for the CDI Holiday Dinner next Wednesday. Tee-hee.

We hung out at the bar for a while, and I got a bit smashed. Then some of the Monster people said they were going out to the Splash Bar, and I tagged along. That was my big mistake. They started doing shots (Jagermeister--yecch), and I joined in. I got totally smashed. Eventually I got myself into a cab to get back to CDI. I remember the cabdriver talking to me to keep me awake. When I got back in the apartment it was all I could do to take my coat and shoes off, before I fell asleep. I woke up at 7:30 in the morning, still a little drunk.

THURSDAY, 12/8: After changing back to boy-mode I went home and slept a couple more hours. Then I got cleaned up and shaved and went back to the CDI apartment to dress again. This time is was for a dinner of the VegOut Meet-Up group, at the Organic Harvest Cafe.

I'm not a vegetarian, but I this is another way I try to put the "T" in "LGBT." I went to one of these dinners a few months ago. It was about eight people, the group was pretty quiet, but I had a nice time. As I expected, I was the only TG person there--though the group leader said her partner was FTM, and they had attended Southern Comfort together.

But I knew that Alex, the leader, would not be there this time, as she had RSVP'd "no." In fact, I was only one of three "yes"es, plus there were four "maybe"s. But I was coming with fellow CDI member Madeline, who actually is a vegetarian. As it turned out, it was good that I brought someone, as only one other person showed up. As for the restaurant, it was more of a take-out place. They used to have a few small tables, but they had recently been replaced with a narrow counter around the perimeter--not very conducive to conversation. The food was good, though.

After we finished eating Madeline and I went down to Lips for a drink. We stayed for the show (and watched Jesse Volt try to deal with a very sullen customer). By then I was very tired, after what I had done the evening (and morning) before. So we called it a night.

FRIDAY, 12/9: I had an afternoon doctor's appointment for my quarterly check-up (my bone scan was improved, except for my wrists--he wants me to add hand weight exercises to my recumbent bicycle/rowing machine usage. And I got a flu shot.)

In the evening my wife and I went to a performance of the New Amsterdam Singers. A friend of ours is a member, and we go to a lot of their concerts. This was their best I've heard. Called "Voices Alone--A Century of A Cappella Classics," it included the Mass in G Minor by Ralph Vaughn Williams. Even though some of the pieces were recent, all of the music was melodic. We got there early, and sat in the front row, where we could distinguish the individual voices. The soloists were very good--some have beautiful voices. After the concert we returned home with another couple we know (she sings in a different chorus) for dessert and coffee. It was a very enjoyable evening.

SATURDAY, 12/10: After a quick Japanese dinner we went to the New York Philharmonic. Before the concert we went to a coffee and cookies reception with a few of the orchestra members. We were invited as "Friends" of the Philharmonic, i.e. we made a significant donation beyond the cost of our subscription. It was held backstage, in what is really the orchestra's lounge. In fact, Principal Violist Cynthia Phelps (who still looks very much like the California high school cheerleader that she used to be) was in the corner wearing jeans, having Chinese food with her children--she hadn't known the room was going to be used for the reception. We had a nice conversation with Erik Ralske, one of the orchestra's French horn players. He told us about how new members of the orchestra are chosen, and what exactly the principal hornist does.

After about a half hour there, we were escorted through the orchestra's executive offices to the main lobby. We checked our coats (where the extremely handsome but somewhat befuddled coat checker gave me $30 change for the $20 bill I used to pay our $9 total. I had him correct it.), and went upstairs. The concert was conducted by Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, who certainly cuts a distinguished figure, as a 70-something conductor should. After two orchestral excerpts from Wagner, they played Camille Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 2, with Andre Watts as soloist. Watts has fully recovered from his cervical disc problems of last year, as well as the burst blood vessel in his brain in 2002. I've never heard him play better, and I've been enjoying his playing since I first heard him when I was in college nearly 40 years ago. The final selection was a pair of suites from Manuel de Falla's ballet El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat).

I enjoyed all of the music very much. The Wagner excerpts (from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Tristan und Isolde) were quite familiar, as was the Saint-Saëns, particularly the second movement. The Falla work was new to me, as far as I can remember, but I liked it very much. Frübeck led it all with great energy, and the orchestra obviously liked him also--they refused to stand with him to receive the audience's ovation, letting him get all the applause.

We went out and reclaimed our coats--where the still-handsome but still-befuddled coatchecker confused the bag and coat check numbers and tried to give my wife someone else's coat.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


"The awe and dread with which the untutored savage contemplates his mother-in-law are amongst the most familiar facts of anthropology."

Friday, December 09, 2005


Brazilian: Nun's Death Was Self-Defense
Dec 9, 4:36 PM (ET)
BELEM, Brazil (AP) - The man accused of killing American nun and rain forest defender Dorothy Stang told a jury Friday that he acted in self-defense after mistaking her Bible for a gun.

That's certainly an understandable mistake. You really have to watch out for those nuns--their Bibles can be deadly. No wonder he emptied a six-shot revolver into her.


"China Clones Threatened Gazelle Species" is what the Associated Press headline said. When I read it, I thought "threatened" was the verb. I wondered how a clone could threaten a species--maybe it could overwhelm it genetically. But when I read the article it was obvious that "threatened" was used as an adjective, and "clones" was the verb.

English can be such a pain.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


No, I'm not changing the name of this blog again. Last night I went down to the LGBT Center to be a volunteer lawyer at the monthly West Village Trans-Legal Clinic Name Change Project. We help people, almost all of them transgender, to complete the papers they need to get their names changed legally. I don't do this every month, but it works out that I do it about half the time.

Every three months the director, Tom Hickey, sends out an e-mail, asking who is interested in volunteering for which months. Then he works out a schedule with four lawyers per month. Experience has taught him that one or two will fail to appear, but he fills in, especially if only two show up. November was a surprise for him, though--all four volunteer lawyers showed up. And as luck would have it, only six clients came. I handled two of them, and left after 90 minutes.

I was scheduled again this month. When I arrived there were already several clients waiting. Then Danny Shaffer, the administrator from LeGaL, the LGBT Law Association of Greater New York (co-sponsor of the Clinic), told me I was actually the only lawyer who was there. Cynthia Kern was not scheduled--she was actually there to do some filming for Dyke-TV. The other person, whom I did not recognize, was just there to observe, so she could volunteer in the future. And Tom was home sick.

Cynthia said she'd try to return after the rest of her filming, but otherwise it was just me, and a growing group of clients. I plunged in. Fortunately none of them had any unusual cases. None, in fact, had any of the usual complicating factors, such as spouses (ex or current), or minor children. But it still took time to fill out the forms and tell the clients what they had to do next--while the Clinic assists with the paperwork, the clients still have to file the papers at the court themselves.

After three clients I took a bathroom break. When I got back I was delighted to see Cynthia had returned. Otherwise there was no hope that all of the clients would be taken care of. I went back to work, and I think I saw three more (I lost count), when it got to be close to 9 o'clock, our normal ending time. Danny said there was only one more client, and asked if I could handle her. He also said we had to vacate the room at 9, but the Center had another room we could use. I said OK, and the client, a Center staffer and I went off to the other room. Eventually we got someone to unlock it, and I did my last case.

After answering a question from Danny, I was done. It was 9:45 and I think I had seen seven clients in just over 3½ hours. I think the most I had ever done in an evening before was four. I was exhausted. I hadn't worked so hard since I retired. In fact I don't remember working that hard anytime during my last job, which started in 1998.

But at least I helped seven people get names that reflect their true gender, and that made me feel good.


"The world is getting bigger; your penis has to get bigger too."

Monday, December 05, 2005


Saturday night I attended the Metropolitan Opera's 1,175th performance of Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème. I haven't been to quite all of them, but I have seen it a good number of times. It's my favorite. If anyone is unsure of whether to go to the opera, I would suggest La Bohème.

The story is pretty straight-forward (a rarity in opera). It's your basic boy gets girl, boy loses girl, girl comes back to boy and dies. (It's the basis for the story of Rent, now playing in a theater near you.) Set in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840's (the East Village of its time), its characters are "bohemians"--young, penniless artists, poets, musicians, etc., not the usual upper-class movers and shakers who customarily populated the opera stage even in the late 19th century. The music is uncomplicated, I'd even say unsophisticated, compared to most of grand opera. The critics hated it, the audiences loved it--the Met has been filling the house and boosting its coffers with it since 1900.

Filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli did the production, which the Met has been using since the '70s at least, when I first saw it. His sets are spectacular, but I was surprised that only one of them got applause this time--audiences must be getting used to them. I remember when all three sets would get ovations, plus sometimes an additional one when the interior of Café Momus is revealed. There is much to delight the eye: a little pony or donkey pulling a vendor's cart, and a beautiful horse actually trotting across the stage, pulling a carriage bearing Mussetta for her grand entrance. A troop of soldiers preceded by a marching band parades down a huge flight of steps (stairways are a Zeffirelli signature--he puts them in every possible set).

The cast was more than adequate: Mimi was sung by the excellent Hei-kyung Hong (my wife took an extra copy of the program to give to her manicurist, who is always proud of her Korean heritage). The rest of the cast sang well, if not quite at Hong's level. And none of the starving artist bohemians was noticably fat, all too common among opera singers. Both Hong and Alexandra Deshorties, who played Musetta, are beautiful, easily making their attraction to the male characters believable.

As always, Mimi died in the last act, and as always, my eyes teared up, as Rodolfo cried out her name. Yes, it's a tear-jerker, but I love it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


"With our new Viagra Soft Tabs you will be able to open a bottle of beer with your penis."

Why in the world would I want to do that?


Suddenly yesterday I noticed several people reached this blog by doing searches for "caprice bellefleur." I've gotten plenty of hits from people looking for just plain "caprice," or "caprice naked," (and one for "caprice prunes!"), but never ones that were actually looking for me.

I can't figure out why people are suddenly looking for me. The searches came from all over the world--one was from Singapore. Would any of you searchers care to leave a comment and tell me why?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

SPAM OF THE DAY (well, yesterday)

"You are a businessman and have no time for a long sexual stimulation."

Friday, December 02, 2005


Wednesday night my friend Wendi and I went to a screening of Transamerica given by GenderPAC. The invitation said it would begin at 6:00p.m. PROMPT, so we wanted to make sure we were there in time to pick up our tickets. I hurried my make-up and skipped the nail polish. We found a cab pretty quickly, and zipped down the West Side Highway (or whatever it's officially called), down to the Tribeca Screening Room in Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Center--where the guard told us we were way too early, and we'd have to wait outside. So much for rushing. Either that, he said, or we could go into the Tribeca Grill, conveniently accessible through a door behind his desk. A real tough decision--wait out in the cold, or have a drink inside.

We went through the conveniently located door into the conveniently located restaurant, went up to the conveniently located bar, and saw GenderPAC's executive director, Riki Wilchens, along with some other GenderPAC people, conveniently sitting there. Actually, they saw us first. Gina Reiss, their managing director, said hello, and asked if we were coming to the screening. We said yes, and they said they'd be getting things going in a little while. We settled onto a couple of barstools that were separated from them by a pillar, and ordered drinks. My apple martini was very good. Only $11. Plus tip. Better than standing out in the cold. I think.

We talked for a bit, paid our bill, and returned through the conveniently located door to the guard, who told us we would still have to wait outside. So we put on our coats, and joined 25 or 30 people lined up under a conveniently located construction walkway in front of the building next door. Reiss came down the line and checked the names off her list. It was clear there were a lot of people from IBM there--someone was jokingly admonished for talking about IBM business after hours. We stood around for a while, as the line lengthened behind us. Fortunately we were properly dressed for the weather. Wendi had worn her fake fur coat (she had worried she'd be too warm in it--ha!) and I was OK in pants, a leather jacket, and a nice thick scarf.

Eventually we filed in and went upstairs to the screening room. It had 72 very comfortable seats, and maybe two-thirds were used. Wilchens and Reiss made a few remarks, citing IBM for their support of the event, and the screening began.

Transamerica is the story of Bree, a transsexual woman, just about to have her final surgery, who finds out she has a 17 year-old son. She bails him out of jail and sets off on a road trip from New York back to California with him, pretending to be a Christian do-gooder, hoping she can dump him at his stepfather's on the way. He wants to go to California in part to find his father--who is sitting right next to him. On the way they visit both of their home towns, where they encounter their broken families.

The hype about this film is that the TS is played by Felicity Huffman, one of the stars of the hit television series, Desperate Housewives. In fact, last year she won the Emmy for best actress in a comedy for her role in it. Now she is being mentioned as a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination, ever since Transamerica started hitting the festivals last spring. She already won the best actress award at the Tribeca Film Festival. I'll get to the choice of her for the part later, but I will say now that she deserves all of the hype, and the awards she has and, I hope, will win for it. She makes the film.

The movie industry has not done well by transgender people. There are few films not based on a true story that really portray us (I consider myself one) very realistically. Boys Don't Cry is fact-based. Perhaps Priscilla, Queen of the Desert qualifies. Maybe Ma Vie en Rose, which I haven't seen. Usually we are shown just as clowns or crime victims, when we're not serial killers. I haven't seen any totally fictional film where a TG person is realistically depicted in any great depth. Transamerica is a great departure from all that.

Huffman's character is quite believable as a transsexual. There are a few things here and there that don't ring true (a person in her position would not have to be told what "GG" means). Perhaps she is a bit more femme that the average TS, but on the whole Bree is quite realistic, based on what I've learned from the TS's I've known. The only thing about her I couldn't quite pin down were her religious beliefs. The movie's publicity describes her as a conservative person, which could account for her taste in clothes (she wears skirts the entire trip) and her easy adoption of the Christian do-gooder persona. But as the film went on I saw less and less of that, outside of the wardrobe.

Part of the film's hype, of course, is that Bree, a not-so-beautiful, genetic male, is played by a beautiful, genetic female. What struck me was that Bree details a whole list of facial surgery that she has had--yet she still is not particularly attractive. I don't think she got her money's worth--the people I've seen who have had such surgery look far better. I guess the contrast makes for better publicity. (Still more about the choice of Huffman for the role later.)

But it's the plot of the film that's its weakest point. Bree's motivation for going to New York and dealing with her son, a week before her surgery, is rather questionable. The device of having characters thrown together on a cross-country road trip has been done to death. The ending is thoroughly predictable. It's the characters that make this movie worth seeing. Outside of Bree's therapist, they are real. Toby, the son, is played with proper teenage rebelliousness by Kevin Zegers, grown up from his Air Bud days. Fionnula Flanagan almost steals the show as Bree's mother.

Along the way, Bree and Toby stay with Mary Ellen, a TS Bree knew somehow--I assume from the internet. I was shocked to see in the credits that Mary Ellen was played by Bianca Leigh. I did not recognize her at all--perhaps I was thrown off by the thick Texas accent. I only knew Bianca as a singer, and lately as the Monday bartender at Lips. In fact Bianca was serving me drinks just two days before the screening! I had seen her performing in Jesse Volt's show at the Monster Bar several times since I started going there in 1999, and I knew she sang at various other clubs. (I remember how she had to interrupt one show to stop an increasingly loud argument about her at the front of the audience--she settled the dispute by saying that she was "a woman of transsexual experience.") I had had a few conversations with her, but had no idea she was an actress also.

Mary Ellen happens to be having a little party when Bree and Toby arrive--a room full of TS's (and the aforementioned "GG"). I knew beforehand that the fiddler was played by Calpernia Addams. But who I did recognize as one of the partiers, to my great surprise, was Melissa Sklarz. Melissa is the president of the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats here in Manhattan, and I've worked with her on a couple of things. We are both on the Steering Committee of the NYS GENDA Coalition, and a couple of weeks ago I went up to White Plains with her for a Coalition meeting. I had also seen her on Monday, before seeing Bianca. I attended a panel discussion on increasing the term limits for NYC councilmembers at the LGBT Center, organized by the Stonewall Democrats. After it was over, before I walked the couple of blocks to Lips, I had a little chat with Melissa, who was there also. I had no idea I would be seeing her in Transamerica.

After the screening Wendi and I went to the reception at the Bubble Lounge, a couple of blocks away. We walked with Michelle Miles, who had been a keyholder at CDI when I joined back in 1998. Today she is the treasurer of GenderPAC. On the way she pointed out the building where she had lived back in the '80s, when Tribeca was the frontier as a residential area.

At the reception there were maybe a couple dozen people. Nice hors d'oeuvres were served, with free beers courtesy of Coors, another sponsor. I tried a Zima, which I had never had before. It was good enough to merit a second--which was enough to require an unusual trip to the ladies' room later on. Usually I can get through an evening without having to go--but I usually don't drink beer. We mingled for a bit. A couple of the actors showed up. One was Bianca, the other was the sole transman from the party scene, David Harris. Also there was one of the producers, Rene Bastian, I think. Duncan Tucker, the writer/director, was supposed to be there, but he was "delayed."

After a bit we were called to order and the three were formally introduced. A short Q&A followed. The producer spoke about the selection of Huffman. He agreed it would have been great if a TS actress could have played the part, but they really needed someone at least somewhat known to make the film marketable. Originally they approached actresses they thought had some masculinity, but they all declined. None wanted a role that would emphasize something they preferred to hide, I suppose. Finally they just looked for actresses who were "transformable"--ones that could meld themselves into a variety of appearances. Eventually they found Huffman, who was very enthusiastic. She did a lot of research into TS's. (Her husband, William H. Macy, the film's executive producer, has quoted her as saying she "felt the responsibility to get it right." Bianca commented that she was still asking a lot of questions the day they shot the party scene, which was well into the filming.)

I think the producers made the right choice. An unknown TS actress would probably have ensured the film would be seen by few--assuming the money could be found to make it all. With Huffman it got made, it got hype, and it got a big name distributor: The Weinstein Company picked the film up as its very first acquisition. (This is the new multimedia venture of Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the founders of Miramax, which is now part of the Walt Disney Co.) With their backing, and Huffman's popularity, Transamerica has a chance to be seen by more than a few people on each coast. If Huffman actually wins the Oscar, it could be a lot of people. And that's good in my book, because I think Transamerica shows a quite realistic picture of a transsexual who is not a clown, a victim, or a criminal.

They auctioned off a Transamerica poster autographed by Huffman et al. (getting $1000 for GenderPAC--maybe a little more). But nobody bid on a meeting over coffee at Starbucks with writer-director Tucker--perhaps people were apprehensive he wouldn't show up there, either. Or maybe they just started the bidding too high.

Wendi was getting hungry, so we ducked out at the end of the presentation. We cabbed it up to the Bistro at the Stonewall, only to find it closed for renovations. So we went across the street to the Riviera Cafe. There we noticed that the Bistro had changed its name to Gianni's. Hmmm.

After dinner we walked over to the Monster Bar for Jesse Volt's show. On the way in we ran into was Howie V., our friend the Cher impersonator, who was on his way out. He visits us at CDI occasionally. A couple of the people from the CDI open house joined us, and then I ran into Ivan Dominguez, the chair of my LGBT Committee at the New York County Lawyers Association. He bought us drinks (thanks again, Ivan), and we chatted a bit. He had to go home (couldn't bear to miss Nightline). So we went downstairs to wait for the show. Eventually it started--and I fell asleep for its second half.


Transamerica has opened up, at least here in NYC. It's playing at the IFC Center, the old Waverly Theater in the Village, on two of its three screens. The writer/director Duncan Tucker is supposed to be there in person at the 7:20, 8:20, and 9:25pm shows on Saturday. And if you go to the last show you could stick around and make it a transgender double feature--the midnight show there is Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


My friend Helen Boyd, author of My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser, has a wonderful blog, (en)gender, focusing on gender and trans issues (when she's not posting pictures of her beloved cats). In it she has a feature, "Five Questions With...," which are short interviews with various people in the trans community. She has started a series of these with people who run local trans groups, and I'm her first victim, er, subject. She asks me about my work with LGBT groups, and with Crossdressers International in particular, the compromises I've made with my wife concerning my crossdressing, and my fondness for drag queens. Read it here.


"You have heard that pouring your sperm into her tea is the best way to attract her."

Um, no, actually I haven't heard that.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Saturday evening I got an e-mail from, saying my order had been shipped, and the estimated delivery date was December 9. This was rather amazing, since the package had already been delivered before I returned to New York on Friday afternoon.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


We exchanged our tickets for La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera, so we could see Arlo Guthrie at Carnegie Hall last night. It's his Alice's Restaurant Massacree 40th Anniversary Tour. 40 years!

Apparently he has been doing Thanksgiving weekend concerts at Carnegie Hall for many years. I've never been all that much into folk music, so I was unaware. My wife saw an ad, and decided she wanted to try something different from our usual classical music. So a couple of weeks ago when we were at Carnegie Hall for something else we stopped and got tickets. All that was left were balcony seats. I'm not sure the little plane we flew on the day before got as far off the ground as these seats--but with binoculars it was fine. The sound system was quite good, even up there.

The concert was really a family affair. It started with one of Arlo's daughters, Sarah Lee Guthrie and her husband, Johnny Irion. They were OK. They were joined for one song by The Mammals, who later did their own set. I'm not sure their combination blue grass/rock and roll sound really works. The drums really seemed out of place, even with the shortish drumsticks that were used.

After the intermission Arlo came out, backed by his son Abe on keyboard, and Gordon Titcomb on a variety of instruments, but mostly on pedal steel guitar. Arlo is just as much a storyteller as a singer, and his introductions were every bit as entertaining as his songs. He described how Bob Dylan showed up on the Guthrie doorstep when Arlo was 13, before doing an excellent rendition of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." "House of the Rising Sun" and "Coming Into Los Angeles" followed. Titcomb did a song from his new album.

Eventually he got to "Alice's Restaurant," his 15 minute song/story of his getting arrested for illegally dumping garbage he had cleaned up from Alice's home, and his subsequent draft physical (yes, they are connected). Curiously, last summer I was in that home, a former church that Arlo later bought and which is now the Guthrie Center. I heard an Oscar Brand concert there, sitting right in the room where the garbage had been stored. Anyhow, Arlo sang/spoke it, with only slight updating from the recorded version, and it eventually turned into a sing-along. Most of the audience knew every word already.

All the other musicians joined him for the last few numbers, including "This Land is Your Land"--where they brought out all of the musicians' children to join in. Arlo's remaining big hit, "City of New Orleans," was done with him playing the piano.

Arlo Guthrie's music is not particularly challenging--the contrast with the Dylan song was jarring. He certainly can sing heavier songs (his rendition of "Mr. Tambourine Man" was the best I've ever heard, including Dylan's own), but he can't write them--at least judging from the ones he sang in this concert. It was a nice concert, all in all, but I'm not sure we'll be making this an annual event.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


We're back in New York. No wonder the flight was so expensive--there were all of seven of us on the flight, in a plane that seats 34 or so. Of course, there was a plus to this. All seven of us were there early, so the plane left 20 minutes ahead of schedule!

Thursday, November 24, 2005


In a few minutes we'll be heading off to my sister's for Thanksgiving. There has been a little bit of snow here (I wonder how I'll clean off my rental car), but it's mostly stopped.

What I'm mostly thankful for is having my mom here. She needs a cane now, but she has come through her medical problems these last few months pretty well. She can still cook up her spaghetti just fine. Last night we had it, just like I had it 50 years ago (except she didn't put in the Italian sausage back then). Yum.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I'm now up in scenic Lowell, Massachusetts, visiting my sister and sister-in-law for Thanksgiving. This year we decided to stay in a hotel, and except for a distinct lack of easily accessible electric outlets, it's quite nice. We control the bathroom usage, the television usage, the thermostat, and even the computer usage--the WiFi in the hotel works just fine with my wife's new laptop (and we really didn't even have to bring that, since we could get internet access through the television--it has a keyboard).

Sunday, November 20, 2005


"The biggest mistake the [record] labels are making is, they're letting their lawyers make technical decisions. Lawyers don't have any better understanding of technology than a cow does algebra," Leigh said.


We're going out to dinner to celebrate soon. Maybe I'll get a chance to blog a little when we get back.

Friday, November 18, 2005


VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.

The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."

Wow! I hope this doesn't get him in trouble with his superiors in the Vatican. They don't exactly have a great track record with astronomers. Giordano Bruno embraced the Copernican theory, and they burned him at the stake. Galileo was forced to recant, and they let him off with life imprisonment.


Someone just did a web search for "wife of crossdressers helps" and got my blog. I was sandwiched between Shirley Ann Sometimes, whom I remember from years ago on the and Usenet boards, and, sadly, Jerry Leach's horrible site. He thinks "sexual addiction, gender identity disorders, homosexuality, marital infidelity and addiction to pornography" should be addressed "from a sound Psychological/Biblical basis," "holding you accountable to the Scriptures and your personal destiny as intended by your Creator" so they can be suppressed. He has set up a counseling business to get people to pay for his advice. This was after he was involved in an "Ex-Gay Ministry."

Well, he's wrong, at least about the gender identity and homosexuality. These are natural traits that some people have. There is nothing wrong with having a gender identity that does not conform to the one society has traditionally assigned to people of your birth sex. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to people of the same sex. (And there is no connection between gender identity and sexual orientation.) People may need help adjusting to these traits (mainly because of society's attitudes toward them), but there is no need for anyone to try to suppress these traits. For most people it would be a very unhealthy thing to try to do, and most likely will be unsuccessful.

It's sad that Leach's garbage will come up for a web search like this. I assume this search was done by the wife of a crossdresser, or perhaps by a crossdresser looking for help for his wife. They need to know that crossdressing is not something that can be suppressed ordinarily. They need real information from a sympathetic but knowledgable source. I most heartily recommend the book "My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser" by Helen Boyd, particularly the first 4 chapters. They recount what Helen (she is a friend of mine) learned when she discovered that the man she loved, and eventually married, was a crossdresser.

Helen also runs a message board, (en)gender, where crossdressing and transgender subjects are seriously discussed. There is a special section where only the partners of CD/TGs can post, and the wives of crossdressers are always welcome to post their questions there. She also runs a Yahoo group exclusively for partners.

Having a crossdressing husband is not the end of the world, and it should not be the end of a marriage. It certainly hasn't ended mine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


just too busy to blog. When I do get some time, I'll start posting on my current activities. If I try to get caught up on everything I'll never get current. When I get a chance I'll post the highlights.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


"Spermamax will give you so much sperm that you can open your own sperm bank."

Saturday, November 12, 2005


"classy make over for classy crossdressers"

Oooo--this is my hundredth post!


Thursday, 10/27: Started with a conference call meeting of the Steering Committee of the NYS GENDA Coalition. We firmed up the plans for our first Regional Training/Education Session, which will be held at the Loft in White Plains on Nov. 19. Our liaison with our website developer promised that our website will be up by then (but I've been hearing such promises since last summer--or was it the spring?)

Then I went down to SOHO to a different Loft for Unveiling The Butterfly: An evening of entertainment by Asian American Women to benefit the feature-length film Tie a Yellow Ribbon. I really went to hear Wendy Ip, who has recently started to call herself Just Wendy. I used to hear her on Mondays at the Stonewall Bistro when I could make it, but she's not there any more. When I asked at the Bistro about her, they just said, "She hasn't been here for weeks." (More on this later.)

Despite my arrival a bit late, they weren't letting people in. I stood out on the sidewalk with a small but growing group, mostly young Asian women, about half in business attire, half in casual clothes. I was overdressed for the event, trying to straddle the line between this event and a more glam later one--a similar outfit to what I wore to the "Get Drag Racy" event, except this time my top was pink, and the fishnets were hot pink/black two-tones. At this point the top was invisible under my jacket, a fitted black leather one with silvery buttons and epaulettes, which someone has said makes me look like a dominatrix. But I softened it with a fuzzy pink scarf.

After a few minutes they let us in, and we crowded into the elevator. Upstairs there was a table where they took my $20, and a coat rack where I hung up my jacket and scarf. It was a big, high-ceilinged, mostly empty loft. There was a small bar, a couch and a few chairs. Bowls of snacks were scattered here and there. A small stage was set up in the corner. I recognized Wendy's keyboard (and its wheeled case lying on the floor behind the stage.) A projector put stills from the film on the wall. An opening in the wall behind a low bookcase led to another large room, which appeared to be the "backstage" (it wasn't). There was a long table with a dozen or so silent auction items--yoga sessions, a small silvery evening bag, a Leger art book, nothing I was terribly interested in. Since the way to win fixed-time auctions (including eBay) is to be the last bidder, not the first, I knew I had little chance, since I knew I'd be leaving well before the bidding ended.

I bought a drink from a disorganized amateur bartender, as the room filled up--several dozen people after a while. I knew nobody. Only two or three of the women besides me were dressed up.

At some point I realized that I was doing something unusual, at least for me. I was the only crossdresser at a non-LGBT event. I've been to many LGBT events where I was the only one, and occasionally I've been to non-LGBT events with other CDs. But this was different. No one seemed to take any particular notice of me. Did I just pass? I don't think so--I never believe I pass, despite what people tell me, and I certainly did not blend in that evening, with my overdressing. So I'm going to assume that everyone was comfortable with a CD in their midst. Which is good.

Eventually I found Wendy. She showed me a plate of egg rolls, which were actually quite good. We had a long conversation, with more drinks and egg rolls, waiting for the program to start. She also knew no one else there, except for the film's producer who had invited her, and he was quite busy running the event. So I pretty much had her undivided attention. (She did know some of the other musicians, but they hadn't arrived yet.)

I had seen Wendy only once since last June, performing at the Bistro, so there was quite a bit to get caught up with. First I asked her about her boyfriend status. She had been in this long, on and off relationship with a guy that ran very hot and cold--so cold that she had to call the police to get him out of her apartment, more than once I think. Even when I was seeing her perform regularly I never knew from week to week if they were together at the time. She told me that it was all over with him, and that she was going to marry her UK manager--"He's the one." He's going to move here. The engagement is not yet official (they have no money for a ring). Wendy also said that her old boyfriend was calling and text messaging her several times a day, asking her out, saying it couldn't be over, etc., etc. I wish her well, but I have a feeling her love life will not be sailing a smooth or straight course.

Then I asked her why she was no longer performing at the Bistro. She said it was due to a "three-way sexual harassment" problem, I think her words were. She said one of the bartenders was harassing her (and I thought they were all gay), so she sent a complaint to the manager. Another woman who worked there heard about it, and wanted to see Wendy's complaint, because she had already filed a similar complaint against the bartender--but he had filed a counter-complaint charging her with harassment! The management had rejected both of those complaints. At that point Wendy just decided to quit. The gig had never worked out the way it had been originally planned: a lesbian-oriented night, with a lesbian bartender.

I've never been overly fond of the Bistro. While most of the staff there are quite nice, I sometimes sense from a few an undercurrent that says crossdressers are not, shall we say, their favorite type of customer. When CDI has tried to arrange an event there, people aren't in, calls aren't returned. Nobody ever says no, but nothing ever happens. The Wednesday night entertainment--old show tunes and standards--is not particularly to my liking. I go there only because my friends want to. With this latest brouhaha, there's one more reason not to go. Two actually: the sexual harassment, and the absence of Wendy.

Eventually the producer of the film got up to the microphone, quieted the crowd (somewhat), and made a few remarks. He introduced the director, and then showed a brief clip of the movie. It could be interesting--three young Asian teenager/women in white America. They're still trying to find the money to finish it--hence the fundraiser.

Then the entertainment started. First was a Yellow Rage, a pair of young Asian-American "female spoken-word poets." Their "poetry" was so filled with vulgarity it lost any validity as criticism of the way Asian-American women are viewed, as far as I'm concerned. If I want to hear vulgarity, I'll ride the subway.

Next up was folksinger Annie Lin. She's got a nice voice, but the sound system didn't deliver it clearly enough over her guitar, so I really couldn't say how good her songs are.

Then it was Wendy's turn. After they hoisted her keyboard up on the little stage, she did about four songs, including "Just Wendy" and (I think I remember) "Take Me Away." I'm pretty sure I had heard all of them before. She was as good as she always is (I've never heard her sing badly). The people seemed to like her.

After she finished I went and congratulated her and said good-bye--I was already running late for my next event--Kevin's Birthday Party. I'm not really sure how Kevin knows me. He's worked at a couple of places I go to. He has worked at Lips on the weekend--but I've never been there on a weekend, and I don't remember him from there. He's also a bartender at the Townhouse, an upscale gay bar I've been to with friends a handful of times. (I think some of the clientele is none too happy to see crossdressers there, so it's not exactly at the top of my list of places to go to.) Maybe I met him there, but I really don't remember. Anyhow, the last two years he's invited me to his birthday party.

This year it was at the O.W. (for Oscar Wilde) Bar, across the street from the Townhouse. O.W. is a less fancy gay bar, with regular drag entertainment. The "Girls from Lips" were scheduled to perform, and I'd made arrangements to meet Ginger at Lips, and we'd go up to O.W. together. But I was running late, so I went to O.W. directly, and I actually arrived a few minutes ahead of her, and the rest of the "Girls." Most of them I see regularly, but some, like Paulina, I hardly ever see, since she only works at Lips on the weekends.

One of the people from the O.W. staff asked me if I was going to perform. No, thank you. I've done exactly one lipsync number in my life, and that is enough for the rest of my life. I did it at the Monster Bar as part of a birthday celebration for Jesse Volt (is there a pattern here?) a couple years ago. It was a lot of work to learn the song, which you still have to do even if you're not really singing it. Between that and the stage fright, it wasn't a whole lot of fun. Afterwards Jesse said that now that I had heard all the applause I'd get the bug and want to do it more, but I just said we'll see--while thinking thank goodness that's over.

Laid out in the back room there was some decent food (pasta, salad, veggies and dip) and someone gave me a couple of free drink tickets, and I stood and talked with some of the Girls. Kevin breezed through a couple of times, on his way to and from the smoking patio out back. Ariel Sinclair asked me how I did my cleavage--I was amazed (and flattered) that a professional drag performer like Ariel would want my advice.

Eventually it was show time, and I found a seat at the bar. Unfortunately there were a few people standing between me and the tiny stage, so my view was somewhat obscured. First up was P.J., a very diminutive performer I'd never seen before. He did Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach, I'm in Trouble," dressed in a home-made nun's costume. He pulled some sort of doll out of it--I couldn't really see, but those who could roared with laughter. There were three or four other numbers, interspersed with little "interviews" with members of Kevin's family. One of the numbers was a trio they do (or used to do) at the Sunday Brunch at Lips, which I had never seen. But my favorite was a lipsync duet by Rajene and P.J.: "I've Got You, Babe," by Sonny and Cher. Cher is a speciality of Rajene's that I've seen her do many times. P.J. came out in an excellent Sonny costume, with a furry vest, and an accurate wig and mustache. Now the real Sonny was a bit shorter than Cher, but Rajene is very tall, and P.J. barely came up to her chest--he was actually singing to her navel. It was hilarious. And somehow, by the end of the song, the mustache ended up on Rajene.

The show ended, and it was time for me to go home (or, more accurately, to go back to CDI and change so I could go home). I said goodnight to the Girls (most of whom were ready to party a lot more), and found a cab.