Wednesday, November 21, 2007

STOP! The Insanity!

I stood in the magazine store laughing my ass off. Usually, I don't laugh my ass off - I just kind of giggle or chuckle -- unless I am watching Vince Gatton in the play FULLY COMMITTED -- it's the way I have become. I just kind of laugh... unless it is really, really funny. This was really, really funny.

I love Nicole Kidman. I love, love, love her. She is a brilliant actress and a great movie star. I felt like she was robbed of the Oscar for MOULIN ROUGE but she was vindicated when she got the Oscar for THE HOURS (which she deserved, I felt, even though Renee Zellwegger was robbed of her Oscar for CHICAGO, just as Nicole had been robbed of her). No amount of love for a person can stop me from saying

"What the fuck did she do to her face?!"

The beautiful people of Hollywood make me so angry when they fuck up their faces. Age is a beautiful thing and one which we must all deal with. Just deal with it! Just deal with it.. GRACEFULLY. I know that there are people who have had their faces tweaked... but just tweaked, ok? Recently Jane Seymour copped to having had excess skin removed from under her eyes. Angela Lansbury admitted to having a light lift back in the eighties because she felt like she was looking so old she might lose her husband. Julie Christie has owned up to having her chin tucked. I don't know if she has ever said anything about it but I have heard it said that "Blythe Danner had a good face during the eighties and she stopped there." It happens...GRACEFULLY.

Then there are the people who do it and hate it and talk about it. I read in an interview that Amy Brenneman tried botox -- and then was upset because her face muscles didn't work properly. If I remember correctly, she said something like: "I get paid a lot of money to move those face muscles and if they don't work, I can't work" and finishing up by saying she would NOT do it again.

Last night, we were watching Dancing With The Stars and my favourite actress and the prettiest girl in Hollywood popped up on screen doing a Nutrogena ad. I dont usually operate in absolutes.. I think all women are beautiful. On this issue, I cannot be swayed. Diane Lane is the prettiest girl in Hollywood. She was on my tv, talking, and HER EYEBROWS MOVE! She has not tweaked her face. Neither have Sally Field and her BROTHERS AND SISTERS co-star Patricia Wettig... or Angela Bassett, Diane Keaton, Annette Bening, Joan Allen, Stockard Channing, Alfre Woodard, Kate Mulgrew. I'm not sure ANY asian women have facial surgeries -- my girls don't age like caucasians, look at Nancy Kwan, Jodi Long, Rosalind Chao, Michell Yeoh, France Nuyen -- all asian women of varying ages who look AMAZING. I am not their surgeons, I don't know who hasn't had work - for that matter, I don't know who HAS had work, except for the glaringly obvious. It HURTS me when I look at old Meg Ryan movies. I think to myself "imagine being her child and coming to kiss mommy good morning and seeing a face you don't know". I am a DIE-HARD Melanie Griffith fan and it makes me heartsick, what she has done to her face. It hurts. It burns us.

It's different in Europe. Again, I can't swear to anything but I look at Catherine Deneuve and Jeanne Moreau, Fanny Ardant and Juliette Binoche and I am sure they wouldn't, they haven't. The great and gorgeous English actresses like Dame Maggie, Judi Parfitt, Emma Thompson and my beloved Judi wouldn't -- it might fuck up their ability to act! So what is it about show business in America that makes us mutilate ourselves this way? Oh, I know... don't get me wrong. I know. This is a youth obsessed country. It's all in the magazines and the latest tv shows. I'm a gay man living in New York city, I know about wanting to be young and beautiful. I want to be beautiful every day, otherwise I wouldn't go to the gym as often as I do. I have to be, to fit in with "my people". BUT ... and this is a big but ... I would NEVER let a surgeon near this face. I am not vain. I have had a lifelong relationship with low self-esteem (which I seem to be 90% near conquering, in 2007) but, even so, I have always recognized that I have my mother's face and since I hail her as the prettiest girl I have EVER seen, I would never let someone near my face with a scalpel, a needle or even a chemical peel. IMAGINE someone fucking up on MY face. I ain't about to walk around looking like Bruce Jenner. Besides, I think that the sexiest men in film and tv these days are Tim Daly (age 51), Scott Bakula (53), Blair Underwood (43), Ed Harris (57), Ken Watanabe (48) and the ever-gorgeous Gregory Harrison (57). I don't THINK any of these guys have had any work done - but, like I said, I ain't their surgeon.

This morning I turned on my computer, where TMZ had a link to a story they did about plastic surgery nightmares. I swiped some of their photos to show in this blog. Then I swiped a pic of the prettiest girl in Hollywood to illustrate that aging naturally is BEAUTIFUL. Then I snapped a pic of the magazine cover that had made me laugh my ASS off, alongside the back page of a magazine that, coincidentally, I bought at the same time.

PAINFUL. The laughter AND the cause of that laughter.

Blow a Kiss Take a Bow

My God daughter (who isn't really my God Daughter; we just call her that - she feels like she is -- the truth of the matter she that she is the older sister of my real-life God daughter) is an actress. She is a teenager who sings like she should be on American Idol or on Broadway. She is the daughter of two accomplished actors, so, natch, she should have talent. She is very smart. She is very beautiful. I imagine she has a gift for acting (that is, saying lines and creating a character) - I wouldn't know, not having had the chance to see her perform. I have only had adult conversations with her and heard her sing.

I will GET to see her perform, though, soon.

I got a call yesterday that she will make her theatrical debut (in a play that is not created by a learning institution, but by a regular ol' theater) in a few months. The play is a musical for which she auditioned and got the part, all on her own, and she will be playing a precocious child who is looking out for the best interests of her (rather confused and kind of lost) single mother. The actress who is playing her mother is...

Her mother.

That's right, my dear and beloved girlfriend of over two decades is going to have a once in a lifetime experience creating art alongside her daughter. Can you imagine? What a thrill to get to work with your daughter, doing what you do; to work with your mother, learning her craft. I always wondered what that would be like -- the closest I ever came was working with my spouse and that was heaven enough.

When I got the call, I started to cry; and I had recently promised that I would never cry again. I couldn't help it, though.

This is news worth crying over.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Set Em Up Knock Em Down

Isn't it funny, the things we take for granted in our personal lives? How about the things that we allow to make us angry, even though (in the grand scheme of things) they don't add up to a pile of recyclable tin cans? The other day I heard somebody say that old things about "I was angry because I had no shoes..until I saw a man who had no feet.."; is that the way it goes? I have never bothered to learn it because when I first heard it as a boy, I just HATED the thought of having no feet! Eww. How awful. The things is ... as an adult I am EXTREMELY aware of this philosophy and I live, being bummed out because there are things wrong in my life and I am not allowed to feel bad about them because I know that there are people who have it worse. It isn't the stuff that's wrong that bothers me - it's not being allowed to be pissed off about it.

I hurt my foot. It's my fault. I did it. I am accountable. I lost my temper and I kicked a door. Now my foot is hurt. I can't jump rope and I can't run. I have to join a gym with a pool to do my cardio because I can't do these other things. It hurts most of the time and I want to get mad but I can't; because I know that I did it and because I know that there are others out there with bigger problems. Now... on a regular basis, that would make me mad, the not being allowed to pissed off about it without feeling like a heel. On my last trip home, though, God (good old Obi Wan) sent me a more spiritual, a more uplifting reminder that I have it SOOO good.

And for that reminder, I am grateful. For the fact that I have my eyes open enough to see the things I see that remind me, I am grateful.

I have a kid brother. I call him my baby brother because he is, indeed, the youngest of my siblings - but he is in his late thirties. He is adorable and I love him, dearly. He has been a bright spot in my life since the day of his birth. He's so funny and charming and completely unique. He has this insane passion for sports and for country music. He loves to go to Six Flags but rarely gets the chance; he goes to the picture show every Wednesday (more often, if he gets the chance) and he always gets over excited and talks to the screen. He remembers events from his life and talks about them (over and over) as though they happened just the other day; and he knows everything that is going on with every celebrity in the limelight (my mother says it is because he watches CNN). He is sweet and funny and loving and he is also mercurial and emotional and a handful.

My brother is mentally retarded.

In the seventies, when the doctors recognized that he had a mental reversal, it was the norm to say "mentally retarded". This is not acceptable anymore. The public has decided to use phrases like "developmentally disabled" (and any number of other ways to say it); but when I use the phrase "developmentally disabled" people ask me what it means and I say "he's mentally retarded". You see, even though the term is offensive, even though it is unacceptable, it is still concise. It still tells people what (precisely) my brother's condition is, in the simplest of terms.

The exact nature of my brother's reversal has never been (absolutely) clear. Why he was born this way is not really known (though it is suspectedly related to the foreceps used during his birth). The precise level of his brain's maturity is CERTAINLY not pinpoint-able because he remembers things with shocking clarity and he uses words unlikely of a child's vocabulary; yet his emotional growth is very gray. There are many questions about my brother's world that will remain, forever, unanswered for those of us who love him.

His love of sports is not one of those questions.

My brother can name the teams, their players, the players numbers, even tell you if the players are married and have children. He watches sports of almost any nature; baseball, basketball, football, hockey. He even knows about Olympians and their sports. He does, though, turn his nose up at some sports (though on this occasion, I cannot think of what they are). Our other brother and my parents sometimes take him to live sporting events because he always hints that he craves to go and it is impossible to NOT take him after his hundredth "I wish I had ever seen a horse race" or "I can't believe I've never seen a live hockey game." It can be, simultaneously, charming and maddening. It is, though, who he is and one must choose to love him and all his quirks.

I wish my bro were more ahtletic. When he was young he ran in the special Olympics. As he has aged, he has become less and less interested in actually exerting any physical labour and it has made him a little portly. He could stand to lose a few pounds; and everyone who knows/reads me is aware of how much I love excercise. I wish I could get every single one of my relations to exert some physical pressure. My dad does -- even if it is just working in the garden (which is enormous and DOES require manual labour). My other brother has a gym membership that he uses when his work and home life do not get in the way. My mama hates excercise and just cannot be bothered -- I believe my sister has the same outlook. My oldest neice cannot abide any form of sweat-making activity. Thank God, thank God, thank GOD, her younger sister and brother love to shoot hoops, hit baseballs, play soccer, even just be chased around the garden. I think they may do it for me. My sister's children are a bit of a mystery to me but I believe the oldest plays soccer. I cannot seem to instil in my family a love of good health and it kills me.

My brother, though -- my mentally challenged younger brother LOVES to bowl. When I visit, I occasionally take him bowling (our more regular pastime being the picture show). Every Thursday of the year, my mother takes him bowling with a group to which he belongs. The members of this group are other adults with mental reversals and their supportive parents or guardians. I have never been to see my brother bowl with his friends, though he has asked me, often. During my last trip home, with great happiness and support, I went to see him bowl.

I've been down on myself this year because I have had a series of painful injuries (or not really injuries) like this dangnab foot thing, shin splints, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain... the usual things that a physically active person puts up with. I have not had anything major going on, only setbacks -- and not just these pain setbacks. I have had setbacks due to my decision to diet less strenuously and eat more. I have had setbacks in that my work schedule had caused me to spend less time at the gym, as had my travel schedule. I gained some body fat and I lost some definition and it PISSED me OFF. I'll tell you though... YOU try staying pisssed off while watching a gang of mentally and physically challenged people bowl strikes and spares (with enormous smiles on their faces) for an hour.

It was beautiful.

I had a smile on my face, the whole time, too.

I got to meet some of my brother's friends. I got to see their families cheer them on. It was beautiful. There was a man with a twisted arm (two or three in fact) who bowled with the other arm and got a higher score than I could get. There were seriously overweight women and men who would pick up their bowling ball and lumber like a heffalump to the edge of the lane and hurl that sucker at the pins and get a strike. There was a man as tall as Ichabod Crane who shot that heavy ball at the pins with the force of a catapult and got strikes...repeatedly. I saw people with absolutely no sense of athleticism or grace, people whose autism made it impossible for them to look at you, to take their eyes off of the floor, bowl scores that would impress a professional athlete. These amazing people, through no words but only actions, taught me a lesson (ME - Mr Live-Life-To-The-Fullest!) about cutting your suit to fit your cloth, about not being defined by your limitations, about how to Git R Done! I found my emotions jockeying back and forth between grins and tears. It was a most precious moment in my life; one I will never forget.

An hour of watching the uplifting spectacle was all I got; for one my brother and his bowling partner had finished their game, the partner packed his bowling bag and left, without fanfare. Then, we did the same. I found that interesting, too. When my friends and I have been together and the time has come to an end, there are at least five minutes of goodbyes and hugs and promises to call. When this gang finished what they came to do, they left. No big deal - they would see each other next week. Bowl. Bam. Done. Gone. And life goes on.

I took a lesson from that hour; a lesson about life, about people, about adversity and about overcoming adversity. I learned a quiet lesson (one that already lived within me, to tell the truth) about acceptance and perseverance, about complaining or not complaining; about being happy with what life you are given, about being happy with every moment you are given. I try, every day, to apply the lesson I learned to my own life. It gets difficult at times, I admit, but I try. One day I may succeed at the application of this lesson and all the lessons I have learned. It might be a success that lasts the rest of my lifetime or it might just last for that moment; but that's a lesson that I have, yet, to learn. I am hoping for more teachings that come from my younger brother whose mind is purer and simpler than my own. I don't doubt that there will be more lessons from him and from others - and I will make sure I don't take them for granted; because I love the lessons of my life. There is, and always will be, something new to learn that can assist in one's evolution, one's enlightenment, one's growth as a human being. I think it's great when the lessons come from someone younger, even someone with an IQ that has a number or two fewer than your own.

That's something to look forward to, isn't it?