My previous employer always has a presence at Pride, too, but in ten years, it never crossed my mind to volunteer to do anything that might have made the company look as though it were an especially gay-friendly (or even a relatively decent) place to work. It's neither.
Oh, by the way, the dreadful company in question was U.S. Bank. (Aha! At long last he spills the beans!)
On the occasions I went to Pride, I always made a point of stopping by the bank's booth, just to reassure myself that they were indeed giving out some of the chintziest, crappiest freebies in the whole park. I was rarely disappointed.
Care for a US Bank-branded Band-Aid dispenser? "How many stars does YOUR Band Aid have?"
Get bent, you cheap bastards.
Now, though, for the first time since I entered the corporate world, I can actually vouch for the fact that my company is a good place for gays to work. For example, during my day-one orientation, the gay employee group was mentioned prominently as an important resource for employees. I even got a handout!
By way of contrast, in my orientation at U.S. Bank, the HR rep actually bragged that all real plants had been removed from the building in a genius move to cut wasteful spending that didn't improve the bottom line. "Plastic is just fine with us," chirped the dull-witted orientation lead.
Believe me, a company that sees live plants as wasteful frippery is not going to provide a holiday party specifically for its gay employees.
It's amazing how much loyalty some
chicken wings, beer and a night of bowling can buy a firm when compared to a self-proclaimed "employer of choice," who spent not one thin dime to show a homo a good time in the ten years I worked there.
Another reason I'm happy to represent my company at Pride this year: I have gay friends at work. That may sound simplistic, but the fact is that I had no gay friends at my old job. Zero. As in not one.
Nor did I know how to make any gay friends, because the bank did nothing to promote networking among its employees, gay or straight. (Why waste your time making friends or forming personal connections with other professionals when you could just be staring into space in your cube, silently screaming into the void of your own mind while you wait for the agonizing minutes to tick by?)
(Full disclosure: There was a queeny guy I noticed at lunch occasionally, but that was about it. I once heard him use the word "supposably," which was enough to tell me that we didn't need to meet.)
In contrast, I've been at my current company less than a year, and I've made a dozen gay friends. Even more amazingly, I originally met them all through activities sponsored and funded by the company. That's pretty damn cool.
So, sure, I don't really care that much about the Pride celebration itself, but I'm happy to tell other queers they should think about working where I do. I used to complain to Darren all the time that we had fewer gay friends than any other gay couple we know. That may still be true, but we have a lot more than we used to, and my job has been a huge part of that. (Along with the knitting--let's be real here.)
If you're one of my local pals, look for me tomorrow. You know the company. Come by and chat for a while. I promise not to give you a Band Aid dispenser.
Pride weekend was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Pride--upon which the entire queer year revolved.
Yes, this is the weekend that we gay boys and girls of the Twin Cities let down our hair (or put on our teased-up, sky-high wigs) and take to the streets and parks to celebrate our rainbow-hued fabulosity in the nation's third largest Gay Pride celebration.
I know it makes me sound like a party-poop (Darren pretty much called me that when I told him what I was writing about for this post), but I've never been a huge fan of Pride. I have nothing against it, but it's just not my cup of tea somehow. I feel the same way during Superbowl weekend.
I'm like the Charlie Brown of Gay Pride: "I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Pride is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel."
Unlike Charlie Brown, I don't need Linus to stand in a spotlight and explain "the reason for the season." I'm enormously grateful for the huge gains the gay community has made since the 1969 Stonewall riots that Pride hearkens back to. That social progress is definitely worth celebrating, and I never take it for granted.
Look, I certainly don't begrudge anyone their wild fun this weekend; it's just that I personally have never really enjoyed the event itself all that much.
As an out gay man, I feel obligated to attend the festival in Loring Park at least every few years for an hour or two. I make a desultory loop around the park with Darren and a couple of friends, but I quickly grow bored, footsore, and sweaty, and I want to hit the road to have drink someplace where I can use real money instead of obscenely expensive festival tickets.
As un-hip as it makes me sound, I'm always relieved to return to the 'burbs, to our happy little terrier, and the comfortable, sequin-free reality of a gay lifestyle that doesn't feature men in leather chaps, or tweaked-out shirtless twinks parading about in body glitter, or dykes on bikes.
All of that gay revelry is fun to see for a couple hours, and though I am invariably impressed and heartened by the sheer numbers and types of queer folk who turn out to enjoy their weekend in the sun, I've always felt like just a non-participant observer at Pride. It's kind of like I'm at "Gay Country Safari."
Naturally, I recognize that I lug my own considerable collection neurosis and baggage to the park with me, and these don't do me any favors.
Given my reticence about Pride, it may come of something of a surprise to you (it certainly surprises me) that this Saturday afternoon I'll spend two hours at Pride stationed in my company's booth.
How did that come to be?
I'm afraid you must wait until tomorrow for the answer...
The socks I showed off on Tuesday are a hit with their recipient. I ended up sending them to my good pal EWAC, since he has big feet had expressed interest in the socks.
(Darren, who also has big feet, got first dibs, but since he didn't have a burning desire to wear my handiwork, I figured the socks should go to a fellow knitter.)
Here there are, being modeled by my favorite male model.
I'm already two inches into the cuff of a yet another new pair. This time I'm knitting them on size zero needles. I want nice snug socks that don't slide down into my shoes or bunch up around my ankles.
It's good to know that these blue beauties have founda loving home!
Just about anyone who bakes and has a web access has read the recipe for No Knead Bread. I've made it many times, and love it every time.
Not long ago, the foodies at Cooks Illustrated subjected the bread to their typically rigorous testing process, and the result was a slightly altered recipe that I agree tastes even better and has a better texture than the original loaf. I've made the new (Almost) No Knead Bread recipe twice now, most recently for dinner guests Sunday evening, and it has been a rousing success both times.
In case you feel like giving it a try, here's the recipe.
Almost No Need Bread
Prep time: About 1½ hours plus 18 to 24 hours’ rising
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf. Serves one. (Or more if you're feeling generous.)
I'm sure for the past three days you've been on the edge of panic as you waited to hear how Sock Two turned out.
If you recall, when we last left our hero, WG, he was face-to-face with the deadly kitchener stitch. Would he end up with a nice neat toe, or would another sock be added to the wall of shame in WG's cube at work?
Well, miracle of miracles, everything turned out just swell. I present to you the finished pair of socks.
The sock on the left is the one I just finished.
Feeling that I was on something of a roll, Sunday I also turned out a simple little cap, as modeled below by a pasty fellow you may recall from previous posts. (Like a deer in the headlights he is. Ghastly sight, really.)
So, all's well that ends well.
At least this time.
Well, here we are again. Danger time.
With twenty stitches left on the needles, it's time to graft the toe of Sock 2.
Ooh, I'm so nervous. I've worked on this sock for a week and a half, and I might be about to ruin it in the next ten minutes of work.
Be sure to tune in next week to see how things turn out...
[HA! That's right, I totally went there! They taught me at Princeton that you can't beat a good old fashioned cliffhanger! Good luck sleeping this weekend! The suspense, oh dear God, the suspense!!]
No, I'm not doing kegels.
I'm just sitting here watching my left calf do its annoying little spastic dance. It's been going more or less non-stop since yesterday afternoon. It's not painful, but I find it very disheartening to see that big lump of muscle jumping incessantly in a little syncopated rhythm all its own.
I'll try to distract myself by thinking pleasant thoughts. Hmm. Let's see:
Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze,
(Okay, those last ones were kegels...)
In sporting news, DAMN, SHIT, and HELL.
Yesterday morning as I swung my feet out of bed at the luxuriously late hour of 5:02 (thanks, Hudson--who needs those last 18 minutes of sleep anyway?), my habitual offender left calf muscle contorted itself in an extraordinarily painful spasm.
I tried to keep my yelps and curses from escalating to the point that they would wake Darren. I hopped on one foot into the bathroom, gritting my teeth along the way.
I closed the door and did my best to loosen the knotted muscles by stretching them in a couple of the ways my physical therapist showed me. After a minute or so, the calf was loose enough for me to put my weight on it, but it hurt like a son of a gun.
A ate my breakfast (a bowl of Special K and two Aleve gel-caps) with my calf resting on a heating pad, and by the time I left for work, the muscles were just aching, not throbbing.
Five hours later, I went for a walk at lunch with my pal Jay, and when I got back to my desk I was dismayed not only by my overburdened Outlook inbox, but also by a persistent series of muscle spams in that accursed calf. They continued on and off all afternoon. The calf had been sore at the gym on Monday, but I didn't expect a full-on flare-up.
On the way home from work I bought myself a six-pack of consoling Erdinger Hefeweizen, and as soon as I walked in the door, I called Park & Rec and canceled my enrollment in the evening tennis league that starts tomorrow. Since the first session hadn't started, I was able to get all my money refunded.
That's small consolation, however. I'm really discouraged today. I was so looking forward to playing tennis again this summer, and right now I don't know if I'll be able to. My biggest fear is to take the court, play for a few minutes, and then hear that sickening pop as my tendon tears loose. That would pretty much spoil the rest of the summer.
At least this way, I can keep exercising, even if my routine at the gym is boring me to tears. The last thing I want to do is end up with sitting around with a gimpy leg and gaining back the five pounds I've shed this spring. (Plus an additional ten.)
I suppose I could consider adding--I can't believe I'm saying this--swimming to my routine. I'm pretty sure that no one at my gym is prepared for the ghastly sight of me in swim trunks, but the elliptical machine is slowly driving me mad. I may need to test the waters, as it were.
In conclusion, BUGGER!!!
Darren and I have been asked that question more often that one might expect. It's always an awkward moment, and it gets even more so if our standard reply of "Neither" doesn't nip things in the bud.
"Oh, so just friends?"
Yeah sure, whatever, we're just friends. Now, can you please just finish bagging up our goat cheese, fresh pasta, and mojito mix and let us leave??
I mean come on. We're both stocky Nordic-looking boys with sandy blond hair and dazzling blue eyes. I could maybe see that someone might think we're cousins, but twins?
Right, we're twins separated at birth--by six years and two different sets of parents! It's a miracle, watch for us on Oprah!
Darren's mom recently sent us some childhood pictures of Darren, and even when you look at us as kids, the resemblance is hardly uncanny. (In case you need help, that's me on the left.)
The most annoying game of Are You Guys Twins? that we ever played took place on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis about six years ago. The plane was just a few minutes from landing, and two flight attendants had just sat down in the jump seats that faced the first row of coach where we sat.
The younger of the two women started the game off.
"So are you guys twins, or just brothers?"
"Really? Because you look SO much alike!" She turned to her coworker, a matronly woman twenty years her senior, and said "I mean, don't they look like twins?"
"Not really," replied the second woman, clearly more interested in the huge bunch of tulips she had bought at Schiphol airport.
"So you're just friends?" continued the young one.
No, not just friends. [This, I hasten to point out, is the point where the game REALLY should have ended.]
"Oh, so you don't know each other? You just happened to sit by each other?"
"So you're coworkers traveling to Europe on business?"
No, um... [Won't this freakin' plane ever land? Or explode? OR SOMETHING?!?]
Finally, the older woman stopped admiring her flowers long enough to intervene.
"Geez, Cathy," she snapped, in voice that carried back at least three rows, "Get a clue! They're obviously GAY!"
The game ended there, which is fortunate, because even though he hadn't said a word throughout the entire painful exchange, I knew Darren was ready to choke the life out of both of them. (Not that he's a violent man, mind you, but who could blame him? Enough is enough.)
Okay, the annoying grocery bagger who used to ask us if we were twins gets a pass, because she was mildly retarded.
But flight attendants? Hello? Honey we own that profession!
Man, some people's kids need to be smacked.
Since returning from Germany, Darren and I have been serving our friends (and ourselves) more than a few caipirinhas.
Mmmmm, mmmmm! That's some tasty Brazilian cocktail!
Caipirinhas are made with cachaça, a close cousin of rum that's produced by fermenting sugar cane juice. Cachaça sort of tastes like a cross between rum and tequila, and at 38-48% alcohol by volume, it packs a hefty punch.
The first time I ever heard of a caipirinha was while watching the delightfully odd cooking show Two Fat Ladies. Clarissa and Jennifer stopped at the Brazilian embassy in London, where a bartender served Jennifer what is known as the official drink of Brazil. We got to watch him muddle the limes and sugar, and then top if off with the powerful liquor.
It wasn't until nearly ten years later that I first tried a caipirinha. I was on vacation in San Francisco with Darren, and we went to a very cool restaurant called The Slanted Door in the Ferry Building. (Oddly enough, The Slanted Door is featured in the video demo of Apple's new Mobile Me service. I love Apple.)
Anyway, I saw the drink on the cocktail menu and remembered it from the Two Fat Ladies, so I ordered one. I liked it so well that I ended up ordering three over the next hour and a half. The rest of the night is something of a blur.
The next time I had a caipirinha was last month in Berlin, where the drink is so common and popular that the Berliners even have a shortened nickname for them, "Caipi." We guzzled them from one end of the city to another.
Once we got back to the USA, we quickly turned our attention to finding a liquor store near our home that sells cachaça. To our surprise, that proved very easy. Since then we've tinkered with perfecting a recipe, trying different types of sugar and different brands of cachaça.
Last week, Darren perfected the recipe (at least in our humble opinions), and I'm happy to share it with you today.
Darren's Knock-You-on-Your Butt Caipirinha
Place lime and sugar into old fashioned glass and muddle (mash the two ingredients together using muddler or a wooden spoon). Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the cachaça. If the drink is too strong for you on its own, top with a bit of club soda or 7-Up.
Dazzle and intoxicate your friends with this tasty treat. A few years from now, when caipirinhas are being sold in nasty canned versions like mojitos are today, you'll pity the common folk who don't know any better.
Have a great weekend!
PS. And yes, I'm drinking one now. At work. And it appears that I've misplaced my pants.
I imagine that many of you recoil at the notion of jiggly eggs in the morning or any other time. I'm untroubled by your reaction.
Either you enjoy soft yolks or don't. I realize that there's little middle ground on this point. One of my good friends gags at the mention of even an over-easy egg, and I'm sure that the words "soft-boiled" would send her into a light coma.
I, in marked contrast, can barely choke down an egg if the yolk is hard cooked, and scrambled eggs have always sickened me. (I do make the rare exception for a good breakfast burrito, but there has to a lot of guacamole and gooey cheese in there to hide the horrid dryness of the eggs.)
But I digress.
In Berlin, each morning our friendly server would offer us an egg to round out our Continental breakfast. We could have it fried or boiled. Darren always declined, but I went for the soft boiled egg every time. It arrived under a little crocheted chicken cozy. (No, I never asked for the pattern.)
In the fifteen years since my previous stay in Berlin, I had lost the knack for cleanly decapitating my egg, but even if I did have to discretely spit out a few bits of shell as I ate, I still loved the combination of the hot, soft egg on top of the fresh crusty German bread, cheese, and pepper bacon. That's some good eatin'. Mmmmm, köstlich!
As our European trip was nearing its end, I found myself making my usual list of the things I'd miss when we got back home. Somewhere on that list, I won't say how high, were those morning eggs.
On the last leg of our journey home, while we sat in the Newark airport at trusty old gate 41B ("my" gate for the seven years I flew back and forth between New Jersey and Minnesota), I hopped online and ordered myself a set of egg cups. No big deal, really. Just $5 for four brightly colored plastic cups.
Yes, spending $60 on that gizmo was kind of crazy. I have no problem admitting as much.
But as a lifelong lover of kitchen gadgets, how could I resist this marvel of engineering? Simply place the bell-shaped end over the top of the egg, pull back the spring-loaded black ball as though starting a game of pinball, and let the internal steel peg smack down on the egg. The impact creates a perfect crack around the bottom of the bell that makes it easy to neatly lift off the top of the shell. No muss, no fuss.
It, too, is a spring operated affair, with a sharp little steel needle that pricks a tiny hole in the bottom of the egg before it goes in the boiling water. In theory, that little hole lets steam escape from the cooking egg and prevents the shell from cracking. Well hey, sign me up!
Perhaps I didn't need an egg pricker (yes I bought a German model), but could I really take that chance? And hell, it was only $8, which was dead cheap after the topper.
So now, on some nights when I think I'll need a special treat to start the next off on the right foot, I'll set my alarm to wake me ten minutes early so I can pull out my silly egg gadgets and make myself a nice breakfast before work.
Now if only I could find someplace in the 'burbs that sells those crusty Brötchen covered in all kinds of toasted seeds to go with my eggs...
[Homer Simpson drool sound.]
So, that's my story. Strange yet still comfortably mundane.
PS. A shiny Euro to the first commenter who can tell me where I got the title for this post.
Not in a soul-destroying "How did I end go from teaching at Princeton to this??" kind of way like my old job used to suck, but more in a "I can't handle ALL THIS STUFF AND ALL THESE PEOPLE AND THEIR INCESSANT DEMANDS right now and oh Christ I just made a really stupid mistake and thank God my amazing über-chic boss caught it and I don't need to apologize to 5000 people in London or look for a new job and oh by the way I cut the living shit out of my upper lip just under my left nostril while shaving before work and now it looks like I have a booger under my nose but it's just a scab that I keep forgetting about and rubbing so it bleeds again and stings and makes my eyes water and then after lunch I felt migrainey and anxious and fat and puffy and then I made another bad mistake that I didn't find out about until 5:30 but once again didn't result in humiliation and self-abasement thanks to dumb luck that will let me redeem myself tomorrow without anyone being the wiser and when I finally was able to stop panicking and checking my email and end my day and was fixing dinner I cut the shit out my right middle finger on the serrated edge of the tin foil box while preparing vegetarian corn dogs for supper" kind of way.
Yeah, put succinctly, work--hell, my whole day--day sucked in precisely that way.
Still, I'm looking forward to going to work today because my job rocks, I love my coworkers, and I have made so many new friends at my company in the last ten months I truly can't believe it, and I feel amazingly lucky.
I'm just really glad that yesterday, which sucked, is over.
Now, the climb up the top of Hump Day!
I've signed up for the same city park and rec league that I enjoyed last summer, and next week is the first session. (To my annoyance, I just noticed that the evening classes have been trimmed from 90 to 60 minutes. The cost, though negligible, remained the same. Nice.)
I'm both excited to get out on the court again and nervous that the first time I sprint after a ball with my gazelle-like grace, I'll hear/feel the sickening pop of my tendon busting loose. So, geriatric though I'll feel, I guess I'll put a heating pad on my calf for a while before I go, and then do some more stretching.
(Since I have a one-handed backhand, I suppose it couldn't hurt to cross my fingers on my left hand while I play.)
I wonder if the same hottie who taught last summer, Justin, will be back. Oh how I used to bask in his praise for my well-formed strokes. (It's easy to look good when half of the members of the class can't even manage to get their strings to connect with the ball.)
I've also registered with park & rec for four one-on-one sessions for the rock bottom price of $100. (In total!)
I could have joined my company's summer league, but I decided it wasn't worth signing up for more tennis if I wasn't sure about my ability to move. Plus, the dreaded (P)Rick always looms...
Anyway, in your spare time, send good vibes to my left sub-par COUS. I''ll be in your debt. Honest.
I'm tempted to create an elaborate fantasy about how this young bloke and I were vacationing together in Mallorca the afternoon I took this picture. I'd tell you how we spent hours on the beach drinking caipirinhas, until I started to get a little to much sun, so he took me back to our beach-side luxury suite for a cool sponge bath and some other tender ministrations.
But that never happened.
Because our hotel room only had a shower.
Sometimes I love YouTube so damn much.
When I was a freshman in college, I had a videotaped recording of a Sheila E. concert from 1986, and I watched the last ten minutes until the tape literally wore out.
The day of the concert, Rolling Stone magazine had done an interview with Wendy & Lisa for a cover story called "Prince's Women." They, along with Prince and the rest of the Revolution, were in San Francisco to shoot a video.
Just as a point of ironic trivia, in their interview, Wendy or Lisa (I can't remember which, and it doesn't really matter) said "This is a band that's going to be together for many years to come."
Prince fans recall that the dykey-funky duo were cut from the band a month later. Oops, guess they spoke to soon. (Wendy did perform with little Princey when I saw him last summer, though, and yes, I cried. I couldn't help it--they sang Sometimes it Snows in April together. That sad song kills me.)
The Rolling Stone writer followed the band all day and watched them shoot the video for Mountains. That night, he also tagged along with them to the Sheile E. concert that the footage below comes from.
During Sheila's second encore, Prince and the Revolution surprised the audience by joining her band to perform A Love Bizarre, which was a number one hit that spring.
It's a kick-ass performance. (And if you can't tell from how the two of them interact on stage, this was during the time when Prince and Sheila were a couple...)
Enjoy it this blast from the past while you can before Prince's lawyers force YouTube to take it down.
Wishing you all a high-kickin', splits-doin', funky-face-makin' weekend.
As longtime readers of WoolGatherer know, I don't like watching movies in the theater. Too many morons run their mouths non-stop; too many parents think their collicky babies might be soothed by a night au cinéma.
Nope, give me a wide-screen HDTV, theater sound, a batch of cosmos, a hunky blond Wisconsin boy to snuggle with, and a sweet terrier napping on my lap, and I'm in hog heaven. (Which, as I was taught growing up in the shadow of the Hormel meat-packing plant, is a really wonderful place with rivers of slop and endless mud-wallows.)
So, even though there's no chance in hell I'll go see the new M. Night Shyamalan movie The Happening, which we're reminded is his FIRST RATED R FILM (meaning, one assumes, more gore splashed across his typical formulaic plot and SURPRISE ENDING), this image from the trailer did sort of catch my eye.
Sometimes, when Hudson has eaten too many treats at daycare, I could use a get-up like this when I do my knitting.
"Really," you ask, "this whole post was just the set-up for a lame joke about canine flatulence?"
I admit to being somewhat surprised myself. But here we are.
"...when you wear these socks, or they're going to slide right off your feet."
That's what I may have to write on the note that accompanies these socks when they go to their recipient, and I'm not pleased.
I know the sock looks fine, but when I tried it on, it was distressingly loose. Here's the problem area.
I don't understand what prompted me to make the heel flap a quarter inch longer than I usually do.
Actually, I guess I do know. The Yarn Harlot says just knit the flap until it's square, and then start turning the heel. So that's what I did, even though the recipe I've devised for my socks suggests that smaller flap is just right.
But who am I to question the Harlot?
I'll tell you who I am--I'm WoolGatherer, dammit! I shouldn't have doubted myself. Now I have a Sasquatch sock.
I suppose it could still all work out. I'll make the mate to match, and if the socks prove too big, I'll justt find a friend with bigger feet and he'll get a surprise.
Then I'll start another pair. My way.
Wearing my happy face (and gritting my teeth),
As the title of this post may suggest, I am not a fan of the Russian shriek freak, Maria Sharapova. So, quite honestly, I'm tickled pink that she got beaten yesterday at the French Open by Dinara Safina.
I'll admit that when Maria won her first Wimbledon at age 17, I was happy for her. (Well, more specifically, I was pleased to see Serena take a beating that she well deserved.) It is always nice to see a young pro win their first Grand Slam tournament, too. New faces, etc.
Four years down the road, however, Maria's act has grown increasingly grating. To wit:
I could go on, but I think you get my point.
Tellin' it like it is,
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All opinions expressed on this blog, no matter how ridiculous or perverse, are solely those of the author.