Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Secret Lives Of Cats

Let me preface this post by saying that Jonah and I are weird.

Jonah and I have three cats, each with a very distinct personality. Our oldest, Trooper, is a nurturing, sensitive cat. She is maternal and needs and desires a lot of affection. She likes me a lot even though she was originally Jonah's cat. If she were a human being, I would say she would be our good child - studious, getting good grades, helping around the house, taking care of the the other two kids while we're out, dependable, etc.

Blondie is our second oldest (and Trooper's daughter). She is moody and sullen. She personifies the stereotypical middle child. She, too, needs attention, but tends to be a loner. It takes a lot to get Blondie to purr. She used to not like me, and I think she resented that anybody lived in the house besides her and Jonah, but she's mellowed and warmed up since I moved in. If she were human, she would be the rebellious child that stays holed up in her room listening to heavy metal music. She would break curfew and not do well in school. She would probably whine about how hard her life is (even though it isn't) and complain to us about how other parents let their kids do the things she wants to do.

Chaplin (or Chappy) is our youngest. She has boundless energy and seems to be afraid of nothing. She is a bit of a daredevil and always wants our attention, but never wants to be held. She's extremely curious and mischievous. She's always on-the-go. If she were human, she would be the young kid that's always yelling, "Dad, watch me do this! Dad, watch me!" She would constantly be getting into things and would be our hyperactive child.

Jonah and I play this game where we imagine our three cats have a nightclub act they do when we are away. As soon as we leave the house, they call all their cat friends and set up tables and a stage and perform cabaret numbers. We imagine that Trooper is the leader of the group, but that Blondie has secret machinations going on to figure out how to steal her spot or, even more daring, go solo.

We like to imagine the three of them singing "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" from Company. We imagine Blondie sitting backwards on a chair with a blue spot on her singing "Falling in Love Again" a la Marlene Dietrich or singing "And I Am Telling You" from Dreamgirls.

Trooper likes more traditional music while Chappy is trying to bring more edgy stuff into the act. Sometimes when we hear a particular song on the radio, we try to imagine which cat would sing it. Just yesterday we heard "I'm Almost Over You" by Sheena Easton (Blondie) and "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga (definitely Chappy).

This endlessly entertains us and we're always cracking up about it. I don't know why we think it's so funny.

And then, of course, we come home, and the cats are about their usual business, never suspecting that we know about their secret show business life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No Glee For "Glee"

I should like "Glee." I really should. I love music. I love musicals. I enjoy pop music. I like musical numbers and ones that are well-sung. I was in show choirs. The show celebrates diversity, of which I am a fan. And it seems like "Glee" appeals to a number of gay people, and I am, after all, gay. But I just can't seem to get aboard the "Glee" train. I've tried to board several times, and I just don't seem to connect with the show.

I've tried watching a few episodes, and I've seen clips of musical numbers from the show. While I appreciate the hard work that obviously goes into the show and the talents of those involved, ultimately the show is just too cheesy for my tastes. I find the writing to be a bit weak, and although the show tries to create three-dimensional characters, they more often than not, come off as very two-dimensional and more like stereotypes than real people. Granted, I'm basing this assessment on the few episodes and clips I have seen.

I want to like the show. But I don't. That being said, I am glad people do enjoy it and that it brings them happiness. I'm also grateful for a show, whether I personally enjoy it or not, that celebrates music and dance and tries in its best way to deal with current social issues. I'm glad it's popular. It's just not my cup of tea. My apologies to any Gleeks out there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Those In Need Of A Helping Hand

I had a strangely moving experience yesterday. I'm not one to cry easily, but for some reason this one really touched my heart and caused me to sob for a good five minutes.

Jonah and I were picking up some things at Home Depot, and this black man tentatively approached me as we were getting into Jonah's truck. The man had an enormous stutter and started off by telling me he meant me no harm and that he had approached several people, all of whom were afraid of him and thought he meant to do them harm. He struggled to get his words out and explained that he had a speech impediment. He was trying to tell me what his problem was and really got hung up on some words. He seemed panicked, embarrassed, and desperate. I told him to calm down and just take his time.

Basically, the gist of his situation was that he needed bus fare to get home. I asked him how much he needed. He thought he needed about $1.40 to meet his $2.00 bus fare. I had enough change in my pocket to accommodate him and asked him if he needed more. He said he did not and tears were welling up in his eyes as he thanked me and said, "God bless you." I replied, "Hey, we all have to help each other, right?" He was crying as we walked away, so thankful for what for me was a very small gesture. It broke my heart.

As I got into the truck, I broke down and just started bawling. I was amazed at how deeply this man's predicament and desperation had affected me. What struck me most about this man was how sincere he seemed. It was like I was able to peer into this man's very heart and see that his intentions were pure; that he was simply a man in a bad situation who hadn't been able to get anyone to help him out. I know there are a lot of shysters out there, but I am absolutely convinced this man was telling the truth and was simply desperate to get bus fare home. How he got in this situation I do not know, but I do know he felt helpless and misunderstood and just wanted to go home and that people had been afraid of him because of his manner and had, therefore, been unwilling to help him out. I felt deep in my spirit that this man was a good man in a difficult situation, and I was thankful that my small contribution was able to help him out of his bind.

I admit that when he approached me, my first reaction was to say, "Sorry, man, I can't help you out, whatever it is you need," but within seconds of his talking, my heart softened and I knew I needed to help him.

It took me a long time to recover. He had touched my spirit so deeply that the tears would not stop. It just reaffirmed my desire to help my fellow man when he needs help. And there are so many out there who are in desperate need of help, and if we can help them, we should. Often, it's the smallest thing that makes the biggest difference. My heart just ached for all the souls out there who are in need of help, and how we often (myself included) are too busy or too preoccupied or too judgmental to lend a hand when we can.

It reminds me of an experience I had this past summer. As I was driving home from work, I saw a young teenager at the freeway exit holding a sign that said something akin to "anything you can do to help would be appreciated." Now I've seen homeless guys at freeway exits before and didn't think much of it, but this kid really made me think twice. I actually ignored him the first day I saw him, but he lingered in my head, and I promised if I saw him again, I would do something to help him.

The next day he was there again, and I drove to McDonald's and got some food and then came back and gave it to him along with some money. He thanked me and said "God bless you," and I felt he was sincere. I really felt prompted to ask him how he got here and if there was anything else I could do to help. I keenly felt he needed a listening ear. Sadly, I did not heed those promptings. I always wish I had.

I saw him one more time after that and then never saw him again. I assume he moved on. But I wonder where he is and if he's in a better or worse place than he was when I last saw him. I'll likely never know, but I'm glad God knows each of his children and where they are and what they are in need of. I just hope we can all follow the promptings we get from the Lord when we're asked to help one of our brothers or sisters.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


So on my aforementioned visit to Calico, I saw the following plaque in a gift shop:

In case you can't see it clearly, it's Jesus on a crucifix, and it says, "I asked Jesus 'How much do You love me?' 'This much,' He answered. Then He stretched out his arms and died."

While I understand (and can even appreciate) the sentiment, there was something about it that just seems weird and tacky to me. Maybe it's just me (although Jonah thought it was weird, too).

It kind of reminds me of this time I went to the Festival of Trees during the holidays. One of the trees had a black and white sketch of a family with Jesus. That doesn't sound too bad, does it? What made it tacky to me was that whoever had drawn the picture had most likely taken a formal studio portrait family photo and sketched it and then drew Jesus in the background, so it made it look like Jesus and this family had had their picture taken together at Sears or something.

Again, while I can appreciate the sentiment of a family having Jesus so closely in their lives that He is always present with them, even when they're getting a family photo taken at the JC Penney Portrait Studio, something about the picture just made it come off really tacky.

So what do you guys think?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Fun Diversion

I sometimes drive to Los Angeles to audition for various shows, and every time I make the drive to and from my home, I pass an exit near Barstow, California called Ghost Town Road. There are billboards going both ways advertising the ghost town of Calico, a ghost town that was founded in 1881 as a silver mining town and completely died down in 1907.

Anyway, every time I pass the signs advertising this ghost town, I want to check it out. However, I'm usually in a rush to either get to L.A. for my auditions or to get back home, so I never stop.

Yesterday morning I had an audition for Mamma Mia. The audition itself didn't go as well as I would have liked, but them's the breaks, ain't they?

In any case, I got out of L.A. quite early, and as I was driving, I thought to myself, "Today's the day. I am going to check out this ghost town." I called Jonah, who was still back home, and told him I wouldn't get home until later because I was going to check out the town.

The town itself is only three miles off the freeway, so it wasn't too far to get to. I had no idea what to expect. In my mind, I didn't necessarily picture the town as a big tourist attraction, but more as the lonely remnants of a town that once existed. It actually turned out to be more the former than the latter.

It cost $6 to get in, which seemed reasonable enough. It turns out that most of the town has been replicated from photos of its original structures, so there aren't that many buildings that are actually the original buildings (and even less, I found out, since a fire in 2001 took out some of the original structures); but, still, there are some original buildings (five, I think).

I discovered that 1951, Walter Knott (the founder of Knott's Berry Farm Amusement Park in Anahiem) bought the town and restored it to its original condition using old photographs of the town. In most cases, replica building were built on the foundations of the original buildings.

Still, even if a lot of it was just replicated, it was still a lot of fun. And it was such a nice day (sunny with a bit of a breeze - lovely!). The town was filled with shops, a museum, and some cheesy attractions (such as panning for fake gold, going through a mine, and a train ride). But it was very enjoyable, and I spent a good hour and a half there.

I bought some horehound candy (which I've had before and quite like (Jonah is not a fan)) and walked around the town. There was a cool replica of the original schoolhouse. I talked to one lady who gave me quite an interesting history lesson about the town and some of its inhabitants (its last original resident died in the 1967, but she had lived in the town from the age of ten; left in 1899; and then returned in 1916 when the town was a true ghost town and still lived there when the town was turned into a tourist attraction and often shared stories from when she lived there as a little girl. I thought that must have been quite marvelous to hear a firsthand account of life in a mining town in the late 1800s.

I helped the proprietor of a store that sold wooden items, including puzzles, solve a puzzle a friend of hers had given her. She was so frustrated by it, but I saw the solution pretty quickly, and she was so grateful I had figured it out for her that she gave me a free item called an "idiot box." I thought that was nice of her.

A ranger was giving tours and pointing out interesting sites. There was also a really nice scenic point that overlooked the whole town. It was really interesting and a lot of fun, and I was so glad I had finally taken the time to do it. My only regret was that Jonah wasn't with me. I think he would have enjoyed it, too.

Sometimes you just gotta take a diversion. This one was worth it to me. I had a very fun day.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Horchata - Elixir Of The Gods

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it, but Jonah is Hispanic. A popular drink in his culture is horchata. If you don't know what horchata is (I didn't), it's a rice-based drink with cinnamon in it. Jonah and I were at a Mexican restaurant a few months ago, and he told me I ought to try it. So I did.


How can I describe it? It kind of tastes like a liquid form of rice pudding or custard or tapioca (all of which I love). I can't really explain it. I just know it's delicious.

Trouble is, now I'm addicted to it. (That's all I need. I'm already addicted to ice cream.) And horchata is not the cheapest of beverages. Now I'm drinking it like water. I can go through a half gallon in a day if I'm not careful.

Even worse, it's fattening. (Of course it is! Everything I love to eat or drink is fattening.)

Anyway, I've gotta be careful. I'm already turning into a blimp. I've gained at least ten pounds since I've been home with Jonah. (Sidenote: I ran up and down our stairs tonight to get some exercise and discovered just how incredibly out of shape I am. I thought I was going to die!)

Anyway, I thank Jonah very much for introducing me to horchata and also curse him forever for introducing me to horchata.