Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tiny Hippo

There is a web address at the end if the cartoon, but if anyone knows who the actual cartoonist is let me know so I can give full credit for the brilliance that is tiny hippo.

Saturday Rendezvous With Doctor Who

The Doctor Who page on Tumblr asked for people to post about their introduction to Doctor Who, so i posted the following:

I was about 8 when I started watching Doctor Who, which I hate to say happened in the late 70's. Where I grew up in America, it aired on Saturday nights at ten p.m. on PBS.  We didn't get the individual episodes, but an edited 90 minute (give or take) movie that those episodes comprised. I had to work hard to convince my mom to let me stay up, since we had church the next morning. At that church was the family who introduced me to The Doctor. We are still in contact after all these years, and marvel at the surreal journey we have taken with this uniquely tenacious show. 

You have to have imagination to appreciate Doctor Who, but in classic form it takes on a whole different meaning than today. With typically no budget to work with, the sets and effects of the classic series turn away the viewers who can't get past it. But I had enough imagination to see past any of that and focus on the story, the characters, and the mythology, a mythology that has only deepened with time. For many years Saturday night was THE night. It was the night I was able to escape with The Doctor and his companions to the far reaches of time and the universe. 

Technically, the first episode I saw was "Underworld", with Tom Baker as The Doctor. I understood nothing, but was fascinated by these people and their situation. It wasn't until the last of the fourth Doctor's adventures, Logoplis, that I began regularly watching. When The Doctor regenerated at the end of the episode, I learned early on the frustration many feel when one actor leaves and another takes on the role, but I also learned how thrilling it is to begin anew, yet continue on from the same point in the story. Our local PBS station did not air any episodes previous to Tom Baker, but I saw the other Doctors at viewings at monthly fan club meetings I attended with the friends I mentioned. 

And so for a number of years it went with fan club meetings and cons, which in the early 80's were intimate affairs. The panel with Jon Pertwee at my first con only had about 150 people in the room. I met companions and Doctors and bought merchandise like the TARDIS key, sonic screwdriver, novels and magazine back issues. I even begged my mother to crochet me a scarf, fashioned more on the one Tom Baker wore in his last series. A scarf i still have today.

After the show went off the air and I lost my video tapes, I almost forgot about Doctor Who. Every once in a while I would encounter someone with a tape of episodes and I would insist on watching. I never, at the time, had an opportunity to see the tv movie, but was leery of it anyway.

Then I heard it was coming back. I was dumbstruck and I was elated. A very familiar and welcome part of my childhood was returning, but would it pick up on what was already done or be a complete reboot? Thankfully it continued on from the original, more than less. I couldn't be more pleased with the direction it's taken. My favorite part about it's return has been in introducing new people to The Doctor. It's a given they will like it, because like The Doctor I choose my friends well, but the excitement I get from watching them discovering the show is a rush.

Typically I have a hard time with favorites. I don't even have a favorite color. I prefer to find favorite things about each Doctor or episode or writer. But I will say that I am most endeared towards Steven Moffat's way of doing things and hope he is in control for many years to come. And when it comes to Doctors, I prefer to pick a favorite from both new and old. Matt Smith is my pick for the new era of Who. He sucked me in early on and along with the excellent dialog he is given it's a hands down choice for me. For the classic series there is also no hard decision to make. Tom Baker, my first Doctor. His ability to be both man and alien at the same time is seconded only by Matt.

I have gone back and watched the Paul Mcgann movie, ordered merchandise I had lost long ago, ordered new merchandise and listened to the licensed audioplays. I wore out those video tapes I had, and not much has changed except for now they're in dvd and bluray formats. I still get the greatest pleasure from watching episodes multiple times, with my 30+ years of memories flooding back each and every time. Doctor Who is back with a vengeance, though it feels like it was never gone, and I think that's fantastic.

Lap Dance To Go

While I'm working on a posting about guilty pleasures, like soap operas (mine) and WWE wrestling (not mine), I thought I'd share with you what our neighbor has been up to. In order to get a good mental picture without using the thousand words, I've included a horrible drawing I did that you can reference.

Our apartments are pretty standard buildings from the 90's and 00's, with 3 floors and two breezeways. The buildings are the things in the drawing that look like brown envelopes. The green is obviously landscaping, and the white areas are the sidewalks. You can see where they enter the building at each breezeway. The gray is the asphalt parking and driving area.

At the entrance of our breezeway you also find the gated entrance to the patio by the pool. There's a red 'X' there which I will get back to later. In the lower left corner you can see where the gated entrance to the community lies, in front of the purple 'X'.

Now that I've laid that foundation I can tell you about our neighbor. We have a diverse little group of neighbors, but oddly have about 4 or 5 Mexicans in wheelchairs. Not that I find anything wrong with that, it just strikes me as odd that they all ended up living near each other. But they're all friendly with each other, so that could have been the plan. I can't stress enough how much that doesn't matter. But it is essential to the story so I have to describe it, but I would be telling this no matter who did it.

So there are different degrees of handicap with our neighbors. The neighbor I am talking about seems to be the most severe, or possibly he has suffered the longest. He's young, like 19-22 young. His arms are thin, but strong, and his hands have drawn up some. I think his chair is motorized. None of them have shown any propensity towards knowing english. Their home health workers that come quite often are latina. And I gave up long ago on nodding and smiling, since even eye contact is avoided. Que sera sera, I say. Live and let live. For the most part.

We live in that first breezeway above the red 'X'. There is a coke machine by the pool on the other side of the patio. One day we decided we would get some cans of coke so we didn't have to walk to the convenience store. When we came down our stairs, our neighbor was sitting in his chair at that red 'X', blocking the entrance to the patio. He was not sitting there alone, though, for there was a young latina with him, but in casual clothes, so not one of his home health workers. And they were making out. I mean they were fucking going to town on each other. Hands wandering and hair whipping and honestly I can't remember if at this point she got on his lap yet or not. but WTF, why would you sit right there blocking the way? Were you suddenly overcome and couldn't control yourselves. I don't think so, because of where we next saw them.

We went the other way out the gate and went to the convenience store anyway. I really don't think anything less than a garden hose would've parted them. At some point they did move, though. You see that purple 'X'? This is on the road, off the grass or sidewalk, right by a parking spot, about 30 feet from the gate. When we came back from the store and first caught a glimpse through the gate I couldn't believe it. Sitting there, FACING the gate was his wheelchair. She was on his lap, with her back turned to him, writhing, and her head was turned kissing him furiously as he groped the front of her body. It was like two kids home from the club just as their ecstasy was kicking in.

My boyfriend says she was a hooker, and while she surely looked like she could have been a hooker, I'm not going to jump to that conclusion because it just doesn't matter. I will say that it was a tad bit creepy. Kind of like they were doing it for us, even though I know it was just coincidence. But I don't think that would be so far-fetched. They were obviously doing it as a display, which is sad. If being smack-dab in the middle of the entrance to the patio didn't tell me then "parking" in the middle of the road did. It was a trashy low-class display that I'm glad he isn't in the habit of doing. I don't care who you are, if you want the neighborhood to know you're seconds away from intercourse, "accidentally" leave your blinds open, don't shove it all up in everyone's business.

We're here. We're getting married. Mind your own business.

Recently,  the New York senate has passed a bill to legalize gay marriage, making it just the sixth state to do so. Now the work really begins. I don't mean all the wedding planners being inundated with calls for a glittery Pegasus to ride down the beach of Fire Island or how to schedule a rainbow for the big day. I'm also not talking about the further work to be done bringing the same change to other states. I mean the road to change I must embark upon so that when I wed I can wear the most fantastic gown possible.

Okay, I'm not really going to wear a gown, but don't dare me because if I could at all find a way to get away with it I would. Something tasteful, of course. A little less Princess Di and a little more Kate Middleton. But anyway, what I'm trying to say is that everyone wants to look their best on the BIG DAY. And right now for me, the term 'fashion victim' is referring to my body's attack on my innocent clothing.

My boyfriend and I have been engaged indefinitely for several years now. With the economy taking a nosedive and finding work in a new city, having a commitment ceremony has been put on the back burner. But times they are a changin', and I need to get a jump on preparing for our nuptials. All of this is assuming he still wants to marry me after all this time, which should be cleared up soon after he reads this. (XO). Which revisits me wanting to get in better shape while I still have enough time. Even Kim Kardashian tweeted about  starting to take Quick Slim  to lose a few pounds for her wedding. My plan is a bit more radical. I plan on using a weight loss secret that hasn't made its way to the Hollywood doctors yet. If applied correctly, this little two-part trick has a 100% success rate.  This is an age-old method that sadly began to be forgotten when supplements and shortcuts galore popped onto the scene. First, you eat right.  Second, you exercise. Whew, there I said it, it's out. Two irrational foreign concepts that come together to create a natural miracle.

While we are on the subject of Kim, I've heard reports that from 1-10 million was spent on this wedding. This wouldn't bother me if it was someone who did good things with their money in helping others, which is usually a trait in the celebrities who are celebrities for an actual reason. This has also begun to bother me more as we have increasingly become a people who treat marriage as a disposable relationship. But in a general way, I'm of the opinion that if you can afford it, go for it. In an interview, Kim's wedding planner said "things will happen that have never happened before." This could mean anything, really. It could mean a tasteful, peaceful ceremony with no family drama or momzilla treating it as her show when everyone knows that minus her family she's nothing but manifested desperation. It could mean a wedding on the space station for all we know, or under a diamond waterfall. But I'm imagining this as something like a mix between cirque de soleil and bareback circus 7. Gypsy wedding clowns, a circumcision tent, a dress with cutout buttocks, the traditional live wedding reception marriage consummation. As if that wasn't enough, sisterpet Khlosquatch may have debuted the soon to be hit single she wrote for the occasion, "Gargle Splech Gurgle Food Me, Bitch." Guess we'll find out when it airs.

I don't need so much of the pomp and circumstance, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want a little. The good thing about having time to plan a simple ceremony is in being able to make a nonexistent budget work. Many things are up in the air, like whether to wait for this change to come to Georgia, visiting one of the six states it's now legal in, or moving to one of those states. The closest we have to a location is the possibility of marrying on a beach, but I for one am open to endless possibilities. A spring garden, high-rise rooftop patio against a city nightscape, skydiving, or even something corny like  Niagara Falls or Vegas. Regardless of the location, we will plan the perfect event to share with our friends, and via blog the world, with a beautiful declaration of our undying, and heretofore forbidden, union.

Naturally, there is so much more to consider than just location. Once again we come to appearance. The easy route would be to find some tasteful fancy robes to wear, or just a nice masculine dress. Something gauzy. But I'm not going to put as much effort as I plan on investing only to take the easy route when it comes to what I wear. However, this will have to be decided when we get closer to the day so I can find something I feel is flattering without feeling like a cased sausage. Hopefully I will be able to regularly report on my successes in this area.

There is another factor that will impact attire, the BIG question. To theme or not to theme. A beach theme is simple if it actually takes place on a beach. But with the gays getting married I can only imagine what type of Lady Gaga inspired tinsel and turd-fest guests have in store for them. And I'm sure you will see some variation of a princess theme where even the double rainbow man would have a heart attack. 

I love my partner more than anything ever in my life. As we grow together and our relationship goes through the endless adjustments over time every couple experiences our plans to wed will probably do the same. The one thing that remains constant is the wish to simply be allowed the same rights as a straight couple has. The right to choose our own partner in life and the ability to call it a real relationship. In a time where less and less have any form of respect for a committed relationship we should be celebrating the fact that there are people who desire nothing more than to live a happy normal family life that's of no concern to people who are trying to preserve the sanctity of marriage that as a society was lost long ago. The only thing stronger than my desire to have a lifelong relationship like my parents had is in wanting to go through it with my partner, Scott. And nobody has the right to take that away from me. What are you afraid of, that we will succeed where your straight relationships have failed?

Coming Soon... More on Doctor Who and some Guilty Pleasures.

Sheridan Sees A Who-Intro To My Doctor Who Blog

I grew up watching quite a bit of television. All types of shows interest me, and I am very pleased with the advancements that have been made in the programs that are coming out now. I must say that I have a penchant for British productions, as I find the quality and attention to detail fits my compulsive personality. As a kid, this mostly came to me via my local PBS station, where just like the Brits themselves I enjoyed commercial free viewing of my favorite shows. And no better night existed than Saturday night at 10 p.m., when Doctor Who came on.

For some unknown reason I have never written about the show, despite it being a major part of my entertainment world, certainly the foundation of my television world. Since the show has been around forever (1963) a large part of my love must come from the connection to my inner child it brings out when I see each new episode. Back then it was all about imagination. It had to be, at times they literally had no budget. I've always felt a person did not like Doctor Who for one of two reasons: They have no imagination or they are not that intelligent. Looking beyond the recycled sets and flimsy costuming the show was exploring concepts that at the best of times required mental gymnastics. Mixing the basic human elements of good and evil with completely fictitious, mindbending, extraterrestrial situations where you not only believe the impossible could happen, but how it would affect life as you know it. The show promotes conceptual thinking and I can think of no better way to escape the mundane evils we face daily. Yet while it weaves it's typical multi-layered storylines, it retains a heart grounded in humanity so you find yourself emotionally invested in how these characters fare, laughing with them, weeping for them.

When I talk about Doctor Who I speak honestly and from the heart, for the show needs little help in being seen as great. I wasn't a film student or a creative writing student so I leave the technical discussions on writing styles and the like to others more suited to this approach. One of the most exciting things about the show is that it is ever-changing. 11 actors have played the main character, companions come and go, a morphing theme tune, and even the production team and writers change on a regular basis. But the foundation is still there. All the previous stories stand as a background to what is happening now. The faces always change but the names remain the same.

As a quick history, the show began in 1963 and ran until 1989, when it was cancelled. A television movie was made in 1996, but we had to wait until 2005 for a proper return, and it was so worth the wait. Instead of a reboot, starting from the beginning, the show's reviver picked up at a point after the t.v. movie while introducing the show to viewers who had never seen it before, drawing them in to the magic and complexity contained within.

Picking up there we meet an alien, but not just any alien, a Time Lord. Time Lords have mastered travelling in time and space in a ridiculously "bigger-on-the-inside" space/time craft called the TARDIS, with the added benefit of being able to regenerate their bodies in the case of an injury, a concept introduced early on when it was clear the show would survive beyond the lead actor departing the show. In this way the Doctor, now in his ninth century of life, brings with him a wisdom and attitude gained through experience, riddled with both wonderous joy and deep tragedy. With practically seasonal companion changes, the mysterious Doctor (name to this date remaining unknown) travels to both the far reaches of space as well as the distant corners of time to thwart the evil factions of the universe who seek to destroy and conquer. It isn't hard to see the marvels of different galaxies and alien invaders through the eyes of the normally human companion as they try to digest what is happening and apply some human logic to their surroundings, usually finding that those basic human elements of good and evil, right and wrong, reach far beyond the little blue orb they left behind.

Doctor Who is a hard show to sum up. I once tweeted a joke Craigslist posting that if you had a quarter bag of weed and three hours I would explain Doctor Who to you. Deeply thought out story arcs, returning nemeses, both tangible and deep-rooted psychological fears, and a habit of questioning the very foundations of humanity are just a few of the ways this show has not just gained an entirely new generation of viewers, but has kept them and the faithful fans of old by keeping the integrity of the shows history with the added bonus of technological advances to production quality.

One of the best things I can say about the new show is how it stands up under repeated viewing. I'm not one to pick apart a show for mistakes, no matter how glaring. These people wear me out and if they don't like it they should stop watching. But if you do try it, and you enjoy it, you will be rewarded by rewatching episodes to catch many of the subtle nuances you may not pick up on in the first viewing. But the best thing is that the show makes me happy. These are characters and situations I have been following for some 30 odd years now, and never more so than now are they taking me to places and emotions that create not just a world on the television screen, but a land of imagination and wonder that has existed in my head and my heart since childhood.

My Doctor Who Blog can be found on the "New Who" and "Who Classic" pages above

Sheridan's Mailbag: "Love, Mark"

We are in the process of moving, so I haven't had much time to work on this, but I just had to take the time to share with you this comment I received from a fan in Massachusetts in response to my AA post. (comment sent as it appears):

"Author: Mark Kelly

Now, while most of my readers are literate, I do not discriminate against those who choose to pursue a path of drugs (and probably prostitution as a result) as opposed to, say, education, when reading my correspondence. If someone who admires me reaches out, who am I to deny this touching spirit a voice? Wait, not touching. Touched. Touched spirit.

On the one hand, this seems to be a cry from someone wronged by a certain "Mark Kelly." I will call him a him" for no real reason, and refer to him by name as lfarris, being that this is his email address, a good indicator that Mark Kelly isn't his real name, but simply placed as the author to make it easily identifiable by Google search. I myself googled Mark Kelly in the towns listed. The only Mark of note is the astronaut husband of Gabrielle Giffords, political shooting victim. The shooter in that case was deemed unfit to stand trial based on mental illness. You can't help but recognize a healthy dose of crazy in this diatribe, but I stop short of connecting it with this other tragic event. My search also revealed the posting of this very same notice on one of the NA 12 step recovery message forums, which has been removed. Clearly this is someone who feels slighted and has a message about it, one that won't be stopped by conventional grammar, spelling, or sense.

But there is also a far more sinister source to be considered. That someone named Mark Kelly wrote this, and is a psychopath who refers to himself in the third person. Perhaps he is someone who trolls the NA meetings for his latest victim. He's certainly angry, typing in all caps, the calling card of the angry, elderly, internet ignorant, and serial killer. A professional might even be able to scour the note for clues in the words, such as "SUEZIE RAY AND ELLEN ARE LOST SOULS" and "THERE ARE MANNY MORE" and "NO NEW COMER IS SAFE AT THAT MEETING." Yes, I can see him now, typing on the computer of his latest victim, lfarris, and sending this message out in hopes that soon the police will come and stop him. He wants to get caught, or he is just taunting officials to try to find him. Perhaps I should send his IP address to the Massachusetts Police and see if they think there is anything in it. I should at least keep it in the event of any future contact.

Maybe he is lfarris, a farsighted, elderly, recovering drug addict out to get the evil Mark Kelly and his sociopathic use of traditions. (Pedophile scout leaders? You have to ask yourself, would I?) Perhaps he's "A PERSON NOT CARING THAT WHAT HE DID AND WILL DO WILL HARM INNOCENT PEOPLE" who is leaving a trail of destruction  and breadcrumbs as he destroys NA from within. I don't care, though, because my fans come in many flavors, and I embrace you all. But secretly I hope the latter is true, since they have internet in prison, but I don't believe they do in the psych ward. I know how important  it is for my followers to keep in touch with me, as it is for me to hear from them.

I am humbled by your messages. But not so humbled as to not share them with the world, so keep 'em coming.

Rich Little Poor Tippers

I need to get a couple of things out of the way before I get to what this blog is really about, which will take up so little space that it will turn out not to be what this blog is really about. But it's why I started to write this, and is the perfect opportunity for me to kill two birds with one stone.
First of all, if you've never heard of tipping your server in a restaurant, or you don't have a concept as to why you should tip, or if you just don't feel a reason to tip, then I have some advice for you: Stay home or hit the drive-thru. There is a reason we tip those that give us a service. These workers get paid, get this, $2.17 an hour. That's it. They survive off the tips they should receive for providing you a service. If you are too cheap or too ignorant to tip your server then you don't deserve to go to a sit down restaurant. And don't you dare complain about the bad service you get when you return, because you will be remembered and your service will suck because you deserve it. It's theft of a service. Thief. Ignorant thief. Slave labor was abolished long ago.
My boyfriend works in a popular Atlanta restaurant. I've worked in several, so I know how it is, but he has honed his craft to where he ends up the best employee wherever he goes. I couldn't make a career of it, but I never got into management. His restaurant has become a favorite of celebrities, as more and more filming is being done in and around town. I could compose an entire blog about what celebs hit the mark when it comes to tipping (Erykah Badu, kids from Vampire Diaries) and who surprisingly seem clueless to the concept (Solange Knowles, Real Housewives). But I'll be getting back to those housewives in a minute.
The second bird in my sights today is the bastardization of hollywood. I won't even capitalize the word anymore. I talk specifically about the growing plague of people who are famous for nothing at all, or worse, for bad behavior. It's even worse with their attitude that they actually deserve their fame and to be treated special. Instead of considering that their notoriety brings any responsibility to be good people and set an example for our youth, they seem to think they have some sort of carte blanche to act a fool. Urinating behind the bar of a nightclub, fistfights, catfights, screaming matches, parading your children for your benefit. These are not the actions of rational, mature adults, but of spoiled brats who crave the most attention.
I think we should have a separate hollywood, hollywood beta or something. There we can put the folks that are really just folks who happen to be on television and will very soon just be folks again. This sets up the return of proper Hollywood with, classy or not, people who actually work to entertain us. The other hollywood is where we can also send all the crazed tabloid paparazzi so they can hound and hunt down and kill in tunnels the wannabes/neverbes.
As I said, celebrities often visit my boyfriend's restaurant, and so do the Real Housewives of Atlanta. On their most recent visit, though, they were filming for their new season. Everyone had to sign releases in case they are in the shot. Soooo, now I have no choice but to set my DVR to record this damn show on the off-chance he will show up in an episode. At least there's fast forward. If you watch the show, come back after the season starts and I'll report on whether or not he made the cut. I can guarantee you one thing you won't be seeing, a server happily counting his or her money after they leave.

Catwoman and the Earlobe of Justice

When I was growing up, there were barber shops for men and hair salons, or beauty parlors, for women and children. My father did quite a bit of travelling, so when it was time for a haircut, my mom took me to see Terri at Audrey & Adrienne's Coiffures. Being gay, it was a treat for me to listen in on the gossip, see the assembly line of wash & sets, and look though the hardcover hairstyle collections that always seemed about a decade out of date. But one of the best things about going to the salon was the shampoo. You always knew a professional shampoo in two ways: smaller size/larger price and the smell. Suave and Pert smelled like piss compared to Redken. The other thing about the professional shampoo lines was that you could only get them in a salon.
Fast forward 15 years or so to find me working for one of the companies I feel brought about a turning point in the availability of the better shampoo brands. With locations in most of the Atlanta malls, this store carried most major lines, all the popular ones at any rate. There were, of course, the additional grooming necessities for hair and nails, even a small amount of expensive makeup nobody had ever heard of. But since you still had to be a working salon to sell these products, there was nestled away in the back of the store a styling chair or two and shampoo bowl. I enjoyed my time there, I learned many things, made many friends. And we partied. Lots of partying.
I worked in several of the Atlanta locations, but when I was at Cumberland Mall I had my closest interaction with a celebrity, an idol to many kids of the day. All of us pretty much did every job, so whoever was not ringing up one customer could help the one coming in. I was hanging about one day, looking disinterestedly available, when I noticed some customers eyeballing a couple who had just come in. Then I saw that a light crowd had not quite gathered, but lingered outside our store. It was what I imagined working in a shop in Beverly Hills to be like. I studied the couple in their slight disguises. He wore a baseball cap and sunglasses, she had on a long dark wig and also wore sunglasses. I didn't recognize either of them. I glanced around and ascertained that it was my turn, I was up to bat.
I used one of our pre-approved variations of "what do you want" to find out he was interested in getting his ear pierced. Now, this was a new process for me, but it was also quite easy. First things first, I coolly handed him the release form and began getting prepped for the procedure. I wore no gloves, for this was in that window of time when we could pierce in the open without as many safety issues. Ready, I took the form from him, giving it a glance as I set it down. I was about to pierce the ear of Atlanta Brave's baseball player, David Justice. He was at the height of his popularity at that moment, and in that moment I knew who his companion was. This was during his tumultuous relationship with rising star, Halle Berry. A brush with fame double-header.
Sadly, there's really just nothing left to share besides the piercing. It went smoothly after a brief discussion in regards to which ear to pierce. Nobody went so far as to mention the dreaded 'gay ear' fear, but he did seem to think Halle's input on the matter was important. I don't remember anything remarkable about his lobe, like a freckle shaped like a smurf or a strange odor when pierced. The couple was very nice in a casual, reserved sort of way, but didn't sign any autographs that I noticed. So, going against the rules and regulations of J.K. Templeton, Inc, I failed to include his release form in the piercing book, keeping it as a souvenir. I've always wondered if this unique autograph was worth any money. That is if the day it would have been hasn't already passed. He did almost kill Halle Berry, though.
I saw him once a few years later at the Atlanta nightclub, Velvet. He remembered me when I reminded him. You never forget your first. To this day I've always wondered if once in a long while he looks at the hole in that meaty lobe and thinks of me. Aaaah, he probably just thinks, "crazy bitch made me pierce my ear."

Watch Out The First Step's A Doozie!

  Before I start, I would like to make it clear that I have never thought that AA fails in it's purpose. I think that AA is very beneficial to a person's fight against alcoholism. Nevertheless I am aware that this post may rub some people the wrong way. But I stand behind everything I say here.

    So what do we know about Alcoholics Anonymous, aside from what, in my experience, is a lack of anonymity? People seem to proudly wear it like a badge of honor, and why not? The program has helped millions to stop drinking. And then it goes even further. It helps them stop drinking again. And again. It never stops helping. And the people never stop needing the help. And the help is always there, or maybe it's never there.

    AA has been around since 1935, always with the primary purpose of staying sober and helping other alcoholics stay sober. It started as a non-denominational movement, but employed a twelve step system of spiritual and character development, a system still in use today. AA states that they desire to "bring about recovery from alcoholism through a spiritual awakening". It is this spiritual element that I feel is one of the reasons AA fails as a long-term solution, as well as going against one of the twelve traditions adopted in 1946, to include all who wish to stop drinking.

    If you are an atheist or agnostic, you cannot even get past the first step of admitting how powerless you are over alcohol, and in the need of help from a higher power as the only thing necessary to recover. Unless you lie to your sponsor, it's impossible to move forward in the steps designed to facilitate a recovery from alcoholism. There are simply no accommodations made for those who have no belief in any type of spiritual being in power over them, the very foundation of the entire organization. Perhaps this is one reason why, by their own data, over half of their members drop out in the first year. Another reason may be a weariness from constant struggles to remain sober. Or it could possibly be that a percentage of them come to the realisation that they do not need the group to succeed. Maybe it's the daily notation of how long it has been since the last drink, like a backwards countdown growing heavier on the soul as time passes.

    When I was in Narcotics Anonymous, there were many times I had to attend AA meetings when those I attended were unavailable. It really doesn't matter, they're all the same. But with minor differences to account for things like substance of choice, social group, or religious inclusion. Even stronger than the higher power aspect, I had objections with the notion that I was, and always would be, completely powerless in this situation. This counter-enlightenment philosophy is the other main reason I feel AA fails as a long-term solution. As long as people believe they are powerless, they will be. But if you teach them that they have the strength and capacity to make these choices by using their own power and reasoning, you show them that with help, time, and determination they will find doing it on their own easier, eventually leading to the loss of the 'crutches' that got them this far. No grown person who isn't handicapped is powerless over controlling their actions.

    AA also has rules that are simply 'frowned upon'. I do not believe these contribute in any major way to what is wrong with AA, but they certainly don't help. The rule about not dating another group member is sane enough for me, but in groups I attended it was strongly encouraged that I "lose" my friends that were not in some form of recovery. In this same vein, it was not a good idea to be found in any place that serves alcohol, going so far as to say "quit your job" if you handle alcohol, such as being a waiter or grocery store cashier. These play into the whole powerless theme, which is a fallacy. Yes, addiction is very powerful, but it is not some sentient beast you battle. Addiction can create a pattern of thoughts or desires in your mind, but ultimately it's your mind that controls your actions, not the desire itself.

    They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, which many times is true. But unless you have severe mental problems, you can't fail to recognize that , simply put, dogs are not people. The human mind is incredible, and it can be used to change negative patterns of behavior, if you have the time and patience to do so. People do it all the time, at any age. Don't you dare let someone, many times a complete stranger, tell you what you're not capable of doing with your mind. I don't know you, but I have full confidence that you can do it.

     One last thing that I felt was very counterproductive to recovery was the fact that all we talked about was alcohol and/or drugs in NA. Constant talk about using, trying not to use, how to use, the way it felt when using, where they got it from, or how many hours exactly it's been since the last drop of sweet nectar/devil juice. The more meetings I attended, the more I thought about it. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. But once I stopped, once I tapped into the inner strength we all possess to simply do or not do something, half the battle was won. Sure, it takes practice, it takes perseverance, but don't believe for one minute that it isn't possible. Your 'higher power' may be there to give you strength, but you are the one that takes the actions. Otherwise we would have groups of people who are 'powerless' over drinking Windex. Perhaps serial rapists, in lieu of  jail time, would find redemption through their higher power in Rapists Anonymous. These are actions, not feelings. We can control them.
Alcoholics Anonymous supports positive thinking and meditation, but where they fall short is in the application of these processes to improve yourself. Instead the repeated message you are telling yourself is that you do not have the ability to do it on your own. And it works. You begin to believe what is being said, causing it to become true. But imagine how effective you can be by turning it into a positive message of strength and control. It starts with one small step: changing the message.

    I would like to sincerely apologize if anyone has been offended by this blog. I am sorry, not for the content, but because I truly do not mean any offense to members of AA. I just believe that those stuck in an endless cycle of recovery  have not yet come to the realization of what they can accomplish. What I write is of my own opinions and experiences with AA and the mental health industry. AA is a great starting point to help you break the shackles of alcoholism, but why replace them with other shackles? Shackles that can still reach the bottle. If you take the time to investigate, I am 100% sure that you will find this entire blog to be true. Well, everything except the first two sentences.

Up Next... A Palette Cleanser.

UPDATE: In a few more posts I will share a reply I received regarding this subject.

Gay Prude

  The other night I was watching the news when Chelsea Handler said that President Obama has designated June as Gay Pride Month or something. That's all well and good, but I really hope it's put to good use. Like bringing awareness to the topics of whether being gay is a choice, gay marriage, and bullying/violence towards those who are gay. Instead, I fear it will turn into a big excuse to flounce around screaming "You must accept me!" Some people will never like gay people because of the militant attitude so many have in regards to expressing their sexuality. As if acceptance of its existence means a person must also agree with and like it.

    Both my boyfriend and I are gay men, but being gay doesn't define us. I feel no need to share my sexual preferences with a complete stranger, and have equally little interest in learning about theirs. But sexuality has saturated our society, and hardly anywhere else more so than in the gay community. I have never cared for the company of gay men because every conversation contained either sexual undertones or overt overtones. Don't even get me started on superficiality. The type of car you drive, shopping at the store "everyone else shops at," what you pay for a haircut, drinking whatever cocktail is fashionable at the moment, all of these things have wormed their way many gay men's brains as something of extreme importance. Many in the gay community are still stuck on the idea that they must have important friends or shiny baubles in order to really be considered someone. But in reality, it's like these guys wearing their pants ridiculously styled below their asses. Their desire to express their individuality remains unmanifest because of the fact that they are behaving the way and doing the things everyone else is doing.

    Thankfully with age comes some wisdom, even for us former club kids. At a certain point we've realised that instead of parading the city with topless saggy-tittied lesbians and tweaking twinks in nothing but glittery feathers and chaps, we are happier showing pride by actually living the normal life we ask of society. Many straight people already think we do nothing but have ecstasy parties and seduce their young sons, and for many they're not far off the mark. Unfortunately drugs played their part in my life, but like I said, with age comes wisdom. So going out to the club five times a week becomes five times a year, and some think you weird for it. Or they find it odd that you watch the news, care nothing about who made the shirt you're wearing, or use the computer for something besides porn and hookups.

    Atlanta holds the gay pride festival  in the fall. I don't usually go, but I may this year. I don't usually go because I can't stand the heat or the crowds. With one of those elements removed I just might be able to tolerate it. I know there will be a fair amount of people there showing their pride in various ways, being seductive, at times down right illegal. But I know there will also be people there who are simply proud to be able to gather in public with their loved one without fear of being judged for their choices. People who are proud of who they are as a whole, not just for being gay. Proud of  even just being able to express the fact that we are gay. Instead of the current motto, "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!" I would like to suggest something less abrasive. Something like, "We're gay. So what?" Adopt the attitude that we are as normal as everyone else, not try to express how unlike everyone we can be.

    I'm proud of myself in a basic sort of way. I've made some bad choices, but who hasn't? I haven't killed anyone and I'm not a pedophile, so I'm doing pretty well there. But I will say this, after having been gay my entire life, and having been to the bars, then the clubs, attended social groups, been on committees, one thing I've never really felt is a pride in being gay. It's not about being a prude, which I'm certainly not, but I just think the community has a long way to go in accepting who we are as human beings, and also in accepting the differences among ourselves. Going even further, in accepting the straight community for who they are, while lobbying for changing laws that suppress equality.

    Well, now I've gotten the whole "I'm gay" thing out of the way, and believe me it's not something I'll drone on about. Yes, I have a partner of three and a half years, and it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Yes, my past is rich with partying and much gayness, but I'm 41 now and my life is so much richer than ever before. As I mentioned, I have been gay my entire life, but I am so much more, and I much prefer to be judged in the same manner I judge those I encounter in my life... by the shoes I wear.

Coming Soon... Alcoholics Anonymous, Shmalcoholics Anonymous!

UPDATE: I did attend the Atlanta Pride parade. It was nice, not hot, and not super crowded. It was a nice day with my boyfriend and our friend Z.