Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy new year!!!

From our house to yours, all the best wishes for a fun, safe, healthy and prosperous new year!!!

See you in 2010!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Lobbyists are funny (not)

From our state capital region newspaper - one of the funniest holiday cards received by staffers - sent by a lobbying firm.

FYI - the "DOT" mentioned in the card's text stands for New York State's Department of Transportation.

Who knew those soul-sucking bastards had a sense of humor?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Deck the Halls!!

As Christmas Day draws near, the stocking are hung, the trees decorated, the gifts are wrapped -  and there's Christmas everywhere you look.

(Click photos for captions or to view larger)

From our house to yours - and to all you wonderful members of my extended virtual family - we wish you a wonderful and warm holiday season, full of laughs, love and friendship.  And may your new year be prosperous and full of hope.



Holiday greetings - a primer

Note:  I started this post last week, but have spent the last few days making the transition from stressed and befuddled corporate drone to a relaxed and truly joyful man of leisure who is enjoying the first prolonged vacation of the year.  I have a couple posts backed up - but wanted to share some joyous and - hopefully - helpful advice, while there's still time.

The holiday season is well and fully upon us.

Oh Joy. Rapture!

Trees are decorated, stockings are hung and that most wonderful time of the year is in full sway.  And you know what that means, don't you?

Christmas cards and annual letters are arriving daily. Ugh.

Now, don't get me wrong - I love Christmas and the holiday season.  The decorations, the lights, baking cookies, watching holiday films that you don't see the rest of the year, but the cards....the cards...

This year promises to be a new low/high and the bulk have not even yet landed.

If you haven't started yours yet, here a few simple rules to follow if you don't want your card recipients to think you are a sad prat:

Personal Ills:

Don't feel compelled to share you or your family's medical travails of the previous year.  This year's batch began with a card from our favorite scotch-soaked elderly gay friends - we'll call them Ben and Dieter.  Now, regardless of the fact that we saw them in person just a few months ago and have been brought up to date on every detail of their tragic year by members of our family, their card arrived early this month - the adhesive literally dissolved by scotch where Ben had licked it and began, "Dear Philip and Brian - Dieter suffered a heart attack earlier this year due to congestive heart failure.  He's better but not at all well...."

Well, Merry Christmas to you, too.  Fortunately, he didn't bother to go into additional excruciating detail about the discovery of Dieter's secret binge drinking problem earlier this year, his stint in rehab detoxing, or the fact that he is now severely incontinent - which is why my mother-in-law has to hide her booze in the bedroom closet when they come to visit.

Call me hard hearted, but I don't plan to begin my holiday cards with things like, "Dear Uncle Jim - Sophie now requires daily medication to prevent her from peeing in her sleep and my brothers-in-law's visit drove our elderly cat insane when they brought their new dog to visit.  The cat now stalks our dogs like it's some episode of Untamed Wilderness on the Nature Channel and attacks them and us at random, frequently drawing blood..."

Spare us the flash

We really don't need to see pictures of your children if they (or you) are not attractive - or, if we are not related to you in any way.  Fortunately, most of our nephews and our one niece are pretty much grown and happen to be generally aesthetically pleasing.  And all of Brian's cousins who have recently bred have produced some pretty darned good looking kids.  However, when former co-workers or acquaintances include us in their family photo card distribution list, the results can be quiet unsettling.

I have one former co-worker who sends us a card each year featuring an updated photo of her spotty offspring who appear to be undergoing the longest, ugliest puberty known to mankind.  And each year, Brian is like, "Ugh! Who the hell are they?"

Photos of your pets are better.

Or better yet, simply resist the urge.

Holiday letters

I don’t even know where to begin this rant.  It seems to me that with today’s technology and everyone you know Facebooking and Twittering their brains out – if you need to write a 2-page double-sided letter (or God forbid the 3-4 page extra postage version) to catch everyone up on what you and yours have been up to all year…you might need to edit your list.

Frankly, if those people you haven’t communicated with since last Christmas haven’t checked in at least once during the year – they probably don’t give a shit that little Johnny had that close call this past summer with the sponge that looked like cheese.

In many cases, holiday letters simply illustrate for others how shallow and mundane our lives have become.  Except in rare circumstances (like us – we simply put my blog URL in our cards since our lives are continually FABULOUS with really crazy, wacky things happening all the time), nobody is really doing anything exceptional between times.

“Bob continues his (dreary and soul-killing) position at Flack Brothers where he just celebrated his 34th year (and is now a severe alcoholic).  The twins just graduated with honors (from their methadone rehab program) and Gary welcomed his fourth (illegitimate) child (with as many mothers) this summer.  With our empty nest (and because we are near bankruptcy from the various rehab programs) I’m thinking of re-entering the workforce until Bob retires (or dies) just to keep myself busy (and maybe then I won’t cut myself anymore)…

For others, it’s a game of one-upsmanship.  I have a former boss who routinely sends out letters that sounds like family report cards on just how EXCELLENT her family is becoming through their various exploits and admirable achievements.

I will confess to having succumbed to this sad practice in the past – but refuse to set digital pen to virtual paper ever again.

Get a Facebook account.  Start Tweeting, if you want others to know what you’re up to.

Or for God’s sake, pick up the phone or write a letter or e-mail once in a while.

Don’t save it up to share in eye-wrenching 7 point type on glittery goddamned poinsettia paper that is going to last about 7 seconds between opening the envelope and the trash can.

That is – unless there is something really juicy to share that you overlooked. 

Then it’s going prominently into the bowl on the coffee table for holiday guests.

 “Scott, Diane -  look – look at this Christmas letter we got from ______.  It’s a scream!”

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Christmas message worth repeating

I love this on so many different levels - I was delighted to run across it again.

And yes. Hell. See you there.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recommended viewing

Everyone has their favorite holiday films, but if you are looking for something to add to your annual repertoire, I can recommend no better or funnier film than A Midwinter's Tale (In the Bleak Midwinter in the UK).

A band of flawed actors attempts to stage a Christmas production of Hamlet - and the cast of characters is too unreal to be believed.  The film features Joan Collins, Julia Sawalha (Saffron from Absolutely Fabulous), and Jennifer Saunders (Edina from Ab Fab).  I'm sure the other actors in this film are better known to their UK audience - but they are all simply wonderful.

Here is an early scene where the director is auditioning his cast:


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Victory in Texas!

Despite vicious and ugly smear tactics by her opposition and right-wing scum, Annise Parker has been elected mayor of Houston, Texas - the largest U.S. city to elect its first openly gay mayor.

Congratulations, Annise!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Feelin' the love

Why, the honors just keep a-rollin' in around here.  I am pleased and proud as gay spiked punch to say that I have been selected for The Circle of Friends Award:

This comes courtesy of the wonderful Kyle at Out Left, who has quickly become another wonderful member of my virtual blogging family (It's so much more fun to choose family sometimes, isn't it?)


Thank you, Kyle - I consider you to be a blogging superstar in your own right and a great, intelligent read for anyone who hasn't yet found your blog. I hope you don't mind, but I was so delighted by this award that I took the liberty of Blingee-ing you up a bit for the holiday season.  I am so weird like that.

Anyway, by the rules of the award, I am honor-bound (like I have any honor left - fortunately, none of you know the boy)  to mention five things I enjoy or like to do and then pass this award along.

I strive to be the hostess with the mostess. But despite having a prodigious collection of etiquette books spanning the last century (my absolute swear-to-God favorite book of all times is a book called "The Rituals of Dinner" by Margaret Visser - you'll love it, I promise!!!), I hate those Martha Stewart wannabes out their in Gayville. I prefer my guests to be comfortable and to feel at home.  I normally serve dinners family style, at the table.  There's nothing I love more than sitting at the table with friends, candles flickering, tummies singing, lingering over an exceptional glass of wine or port, and just having a great time.

Newcomers to our social roundtable (except mine is rectangular - hoot!) frequently remark that they haven't laughed so much in - well, forever.  That's the highest compliment I can ever receive.  Whether it's a game night or checking out a great movie in the living room afterward - or just cocktails and nibbles on the porch during the summer, if we're not laughing and having a great time - well, why bother?

It's always shoes off, full glasses and have a fabulous time when you're here.  I will settle for nothing less.

Food and cooking:
This goes along with entertaining but deserves its own category.  From a very young age, I was surrounded by food.  My mother was a chef in the Stouffer's test kitchens when I was a toddler - and then held a variety of positions where she managed executive dining rooms and food service operations at a variety of businesses including Hewlett Packard, Ford and a  bunch of others.  So I was always surrounded by fabulous people - cooking.

For a time in the 1970s, my mother managed the executive dining rooms at US Steel, Bethlehem Steel and South Chicago Steel.  I was a teenager and I used to work summers doing dishes and cleaning.  Located in mostly African American cities and neighborhoods of the Chicago-metro area, my mom's staff was largely elderly, local women who had worked there forever.  In fact, she and I were usually the only caucasians in the place.  My mom loved these women and, oh man - so did I.  You haven't lived until you've sat and talked to someone who can remember dressing up to step out with her boyfriend and go see Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway or Dinah Washington back in the day. Or been cleaning the dining room with gospel being sung at full tilt in the kitchen.  It was a magical experience.

But mostly, I learned to cook Southern.  And I am not talking that lily-white, frilly-ass 'Southern Living'  bull-puckey - I am talking about ribs covered in so much spice you couldn't see the meat and cornbread, oh cornbread that was perfection - and chicken and fresh biscuits that would make the Baby Jesus weep in envy...and that was just for breakfast.   I routinely gained 15 pounds every summer.

Now - my mom was great cook, but until I worked at the mills, I only knew pretty traditional Midwestern and Pennsylvania Dutch fare - because those were our people.  But Beulah awoke in me something marvelous and unknown - at the time, slightly taboo, even.  And when, a few years later, we moved to Phoenix, I discovered Mexican and South American food.  It only snowballed from there - Moroccan, Italian, Irish, Mediterranean, Indian, Chinese, Japanese...the list goes on.

Since then, I have been in love with trying new types of regional cuisines.  I can remember the hubby coming home from a meal out with co-workers where they had exclaimed over how infrequently they had enjoyed a good risotto and Brian was like, "oh my god, I get that like three times a week at home."  (it was a phase)  And two Christmases ago, he bought me a Tajine.  And I love it. I mean, we once got snowed in for a week and even though we ran out of staples like eggs, bread and  milk, I still had the ingredients to make Tom Ka Gai. That was my fall-back, if you can believe it.

I have even turned my mother on to many regional delights.  She, unlike my steak and potatoes father, has embraced this addiction as well. He has no idea what he's missing.

Spending time with family and friends:
Again - somewhat related to my first entry about entertaining. I love nothing more than hanging out with friends and family, thanks to Brian and his extended, zany Irish Catholic cast of thousands.

It's great to have been so warmly embraced by Brian's family - I give most of my family a wide berth.  My brother and most of my relatives are some of nature's best arguments for population control.

You might have gotten me off cigarettes.  You may one day pry the vodka bottle from my grasp, sustaining only minor injuries.  But rest assured you will never...never take my coffee away.

As you can see by my other entries in this blog, I like to tell stories.  I've now reached an age where I am starting to forget which stories I have told to whom (who?).

And I can foresee that I will be on of those old men sitting around on a bench saying," Did I ever tell you about the time my co-worker hid out at our first house just after we moved in when her unmedicated sister kidnapped and killed their mother in Mexico and threatened to do the same to her?"

See - I have the stories - that's why I love to tell them, because a) my life is weirder than television and b) I'm lucky enough to realize it and appreciate the humor in it.

In conclusion - I am now happily encouraged to pass along this recognition to blogs that mean something to me - whether they make me think, dream, laugh or scream.

So, it is my honor to recognize:

and, of course...

  • Lou and Bob and Larry - but Kyle already recognized you (but you are well worth another mention!!)

Snow Day!

We had our first snow storm of the season over night.  Not a bad one - they had predicted 1-3 inches and we ended up with about 4-5 inches instead

So, I get to work from home - cozy in my pajamas and slippers, sipping tea (not that that's any different from the other 3-4 days a week that I normally work from home).

But Brian is off today - so he's shoveling out.  And we found some teens who for $10 are clearing the heavy, wet mounds of snow left by the plow at the end of our driveway.

Children can be so useful.

It's our first winter with Eddie and Patsy - so we've not had any snow experience with them.  But I'll let the photo speak for itself - we can hardly keep them in.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Secret identities

Interestingly, as I have become closer to some of my blogging buddies, I've been revealing my true name via e-mail because:

a.  it's too complicated to figure out how to mask my name in my e-mail client


b.  fuck it.

After all, they are all guys and potential future ex-husbands.

But for those of you "not in the know," I thought I might reveal for you a little bit of how "DuPree" and the title of this blog came about.

Behold - the origin of Chlorine X. DuPree (as copied from my reply to edder at "I Don't Care for Your Tone"):

Okay - a lifetime ago I was a marketing consultant in San Francisco and was working with a huge international structural engineering company leading the proposal and interview preparation work for a major bridge design and construction project in Charleston, South Carolina.

As part of my role, I communicated regularly with the SC Dept. of Transportation and the City of Charleston's Civil Engineering and Traffic/Transportation agencies.

I don't recall which agency it was - I believe it was the Civil Engineering department - but the secretary/receptionist there was the lynch pin for the rest of my tale.

We'll call her ‘Jewel’ – and Jewel always sounded as if she had the weight of the world on her shoulders and her poor, tired body simply wouldn't allow her to care about a thing. Much like Mary Astor's character - Jewel Mayhew - in "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte."

"Ruined finery - it's all I have left..."

Anyway - Jewel had a southern drawl that was so thick and so slow that it must have been painted on her. And she was a gatekeeper - you know - those administrative people whose job it is to actually prevent you from talking to anyone important unless you are someone important yourself.

So - one day - in complete and utter frustration with trying to get Jewel to connect me with anyone who could answer my question, I slammed down the phone and loudly informed my minions (the marketing team that actually worked for the company but whom I got to boss around) that...

“I am going to fly down to Charleston and I am going to find Miss CHLORINE X. DUPREE and ... (edited – but it involves mild violence)..."

Throughout the rest of the project, my impersonations and rantings about Chlorine X. DuPree - a faded and degraded flower of the South - became legendary. The engineers who had dealt with her got great amusement out of my horrid, campy reports on the latest incident involving Miss DuPree – up to the point where I was making stuff up.

It was decided by popular vote that should my life direction change towards a career as a drag queen - Chlorine X. DuPree would be both my stage name and my muse.

Well - I have never pursued a life on the stage - but Chlorine (in the Gene Pool) continues to be my muse.

And she even has a back story - but that's a post for another time.

And now you know.

What's your back story?

Friday, December 04, 2009

A letter to 24 heroes

Text of an e-mail I sent today to the 24 New York State Senators who voted "Yes" on marriage equality for all New Yorkers:

Honorable Senators:

I wanted to take a moment to write and thank you for the brave and historic stand you took on marriage equality this week.

I especially wish to thank Senator Duane for championing this cause. (pictured above, with his partner Nick)

I also want to extend my special thanks to those of you who spoke your hearts and your consciences on the Senate floor.

You are all heroes.

My partner of nearly 19 years and I chose to move to New York in 2004.  We moved here from Vermont, where we had been joined in a civil union.  It was a hard decision to make - to abandon the protections we felt we enjoyed under that contract, but I work for a company where we enjoy an equal footing with heterosexual married couples for insurance, medical, rights of inheritance, etc.  In fact, when we had our civil union, I was even given the unwritten but traditional "honeymoon week" of extra vacation by my manager. So, I felt secure in that respect.

We also thought that New York could not be far behind.  After all, New York has always been at the forefront on tough cultural issues.  Then marriage equality began to gain a foothold in other states.  We were
so hopeful.  So hopeful.

We had already been discussing plans to get married once the legislation had passed.  We realize that we could get married in a number of other states now, but we wanted to be married in our adopted home state. We love being New Yorkers and we love living here.  We wanted to be married here - to feel like fully realized citizens.

What we witnessed this week has shaken us.  Horribly.

We're still mourning.  We're still angry.  We're still disappointed.

But we're far from discouraged.

And you 24 senators are the reason we have not given up.

And for that, you have our undying gratitude.


Here is the information if you'd like to thank our allies in the NYS Senate:

24 Senators who voted “yes” on marriage equality:

Weird Christmas rituals

Every year, right around this time, we begin to pull out the Christmas ornaments, cut our live tree for the foyer, place the revolving 1950s aluminum tree (with rotating color wheel!) in the living room window, muck up our house with assorted nutcrackers and Christmas figurines, and do something strange on the front porch that make our neighbors wonder how much we really do drink.

We also have other rituals that aren't quite so -- mundane.

The first ritual is that we always watch "White Christmas" while we decorate the tree, which - on the face of it - seems pretty normal.  But I have to confess that every year - I think since I was about 7 years old - my favorite scene ... the scene I would pitch a fit over if I couldn't see... has nothing to do with Christmas. 

It's Rosemary Clooney's "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" number.  Picture, if you will, a 7 or 8 year old boy, lying on the floor facing the TV, eyes glittering, mouth open in wonder.  First over Rosemary and that DRESS.  And then ... gasp ... over George Chakiris.  Every year when I see that scene, I can almost feel myself rolling around on that living room floor giggling.

It's not perfect - I mean, those silver gloves are a risky fashion choice with that standout dress.  And even as a child I knew - and pointed out to my parents - that all brown was an extremely bad look.  Imagine.

When we had the "big talk" when I was 18, can you believe my mother actually said she had no idea I was gay?

In later years, when I had become an adult and Brian and I had purchased our first home - we had a gay couple move in next door.  We attended many dinners and parties with them and oddly, at Christmas time, always mixed in their holiday music CD shuffle was Liza Minnelli's 1989 "Results" CD.

I think we questioned it once, but I don't recall their answer as to why they did that.  Regardless, we received the same CD from them as a gift that first Christmas and it's the only time of year we listen to it.

Strange, no?

But I think our favorite ritual is finding the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of "Jack Frost" being played on TV.

This BIZARRE Russo-Finnish production is hysterical enough on its own.  But when you add the wisecracking robots and host adding to it - it's pee your pants funny.

We own the movie on DVD now - so we can watch it whenever we like.  But it never fails that we always watch it around Christmas time.

I encourage you to check it out.

"Are you freaking out yet?" - LOL.

What are your "unusual" holiday rituals?

Friday Glee fix

For those of you who haven't experienced the, well...glee... of the show of the same name, please enjoy this clip from the latest episode.

The fun really gets started just after the 2:30 mark.

I love it. Each week, Kurt gets gayer, Artie gets more adorable and I fall in love with this show even more.

Season finale next week - how can it be over so soon?!?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Know your cowards

Courtesy of Joe My God:

These are the Democratic traitors in our midst who voted against today's marriage equality bill in New York.
  • Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens) — NO
  • Darrel Aubertine (D- Cape Vincent) — NO
  • Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) — NO
  • Shirley Huntley (D-Queens) — NO
  • Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) — NO
  • Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) — NO
  • George Onorato (D-Queens) — NO
  • William Stachowski (D-Buffalo) — NO
Guess there ain't no gay people in Brooklyn, the Bronx or Queens...funny..I could swear there were.

Do you live in New York?  Have gay family or friends that do?  Then please share this list and let's vote the bastards out.

Dead in the water. Marriage equality in New York

The state Senate just defeated the same-sex marriage bill by a vote of 24-38.

Not a single Republican voted Yes - and way too many Democrats voted No.

I'm so disgusted I can't even speak.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Okay - let the lashings begin...

I went ahead and bought the Susan Boyle debut CD.  Seriously.  I haven't bought an actual CD in years - with the exception of the Vera Lynne CD we bought for Brian's mom for Christmas, everything I have bought musically has been via downloads.

And I'm totally not ashamed.

Granted, Susan is not a trained singer.  She is not Lady Gaga.  She is not Madonna.

But you have to give her props, regardless.

I mean, I have a total jealousy love/hate thing going here.  My father and grandfather were naturally gifted tenors.  Even my indigent, drug-addled, mentally deficient ape-smack of a younger brother seems to have inherited a legitimate voice.

And I did once. I used to have a gorgeous falsetto -  the voices of angels expressed through a spotty adolescent.  I sang with my father in a barbershop chorus.  I used to sing for family - tears were shed over the absolute crystalline gorgeousness of my voice.

Then - puberty hit.

I went from a tenor to a lead to a baritone to a bass - all in the space of about 3 months.

I could belt out an Oak Ridge Boys bass line - but I could no longer achieve those angelic heights of musical bliss that I once could.  I mean, what fun is singing with your lower intestine?

And then I gave up.  If I had one regret in life, it's that I never developed my new voice.

Susan is like a sister to me.  She's an underdog.  She has raw talent - like we all did at one time in our life.

She may not be as technically proficient as today's pop or Broadway/West End stars, but I couldn't imagine being confident enough to stand up against the orchestration of Madonna's "You'll see."

But her rendition of "Who I was born to be" gives you a glimpse of her real talent - strong, heartfelt and real. A natural artist with a gorgeous voice.

Not all the tracks are to my taste, but I'm glad to have dipped my toe in to see what she has.

I predict great things for Ms. Boyle.

If nothing else, she will always have a fan in me.

Holy marriage, Batman!

Looks like the Three Stooges convention we call the New York State Senate might FINALLY get around to a vote on marriage equality!

It's also amusing that regressive Democrat and scumbag, Pastor Ruben Diaz, has fled the clown car to go to his office and pray.  It's also worth noting that he mentions an "agreement."  Diaz was on of the original gang of four rogue Democrats who threatened to take their ball and go home unless they were treated like the pretty princesses they want to be (this includes the now testicle-less Pedro Espada of the failed senate coup earlier this year and the soon-to-be-booted Hiram Monserrate who decided to carve up his fiance's face with a broken glass).

You gotta live here to believe it folks.  Only Texas and South Carolina politics are weirder (sorry Bob).

Poor Ruben.  He keeps making deals and, like Charlie Brown with the football, he never seems to learn when he ends up on his ass (yes - the Kingstonian comment in the article is mine).

Please send all your good thoughts, prayers, chants and positive energies towards New York tonight folks - whether we win or lose, we at least deserve a vote.

I'd really love to be a first class citizen in this state that I love.

Even if the inmates are running the asylum.

Fingers crossed, folks!