Monday, May 29

Skeletor + Connie Chung = Slurp

Greetings from the American Airlines Admiral's Club at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in Texas. Britt and I are hanging out here, and staying away from the mosh pit in the main concourse, until our plane is ready to take us from Dallas to Tampa.

On Friday night, on our flight from here to San Francisco, we were subjected to what might be the most disgusting display of public affection in recorded history. The homely middle-age couple in 18A and 18B were making out and French kissing from take-off to landing. The man, sitting in 18A, looked like a cross between Secretariat and Skeletor: he had a toothy horse-like mouth and pale, almost translucent, skin. The woman, in 18B, showed the entire world what Connie Chung would look like if she became homeless, gained about 50 pounds, and stopped using hair care products.

It wasn't bad enough that we had to watch these two people jam their tongues down each other's throats (we wanted to look away, but we couldn't; it was mesmerizing in the way that automobile accidents are) but after a while, Britt started to make slurping sound effects to accompany the action. I didn't know whether to laugh or slap Britt, so I did both. Britt also shouted "tongue, tongue" when no one was working.

This sad display of utter grossness only proves what I've been saying for years: I don't mind straight people, but why must they flaunt their disgusting heterosexuality in public!

Wednesday, May 24

Meet The גולם

Britt bought me a golem (גולם in Hebrew) from Prague. Take a look:

The גולם

I promise to use him only for good, not for evil.

Sunday, May 21

Cookie Monsters

Take two gay men who like wordplay, a giant cookie that reads "Welcome Home Britt" and a long day of snacking, and what do you get? This:

Me homo cookie

After two more letters were consumed, one of the M's was turned upside down to spell out "meow" in honor of America's Favorite Housecat, Watson.

When Animals Attack

Actual conversation this evening:

Dave: Who do you think would win in a fight: a chupacabra or a shark?

Britt: [Slight pause] Well, I guess it would depend on the location.

Dave: How?

Britt: The chupacabra would win on land, and the shark would win in the ocean.

Dave: What if it were in the ocean, but the chupacabra had a shotgun and a scuba suit?

Thursday, May 18

Job Satisfaction

Being a reporter isn't as glamourous as it sounds. It's maddening with long hours and meager rewards. And the paychecks -- don't get me started.

Every once in a while, thought, you get to go somewhere, meet someone or do something that reminds you of how cool this business can be.

For example, last week, I met my favorite childhood cartoon character:

Dave and Snoopy

And today, instead of slaving away at my desk, I got to cover something at the historic Don CeSar resort in St. Pete Beach:

Don CeSar

Don CeSar

And even though I had to work Saturday, I also got to ride shotgun in one of the NewsChannel 8 vans.


All things considered, it's not a horrible way to earn a paycheck.

Today's Simpsons Quote: Higher Education

I caught this wonderful Simpsons snippet on TV last night. It's good to know that Britt has somewhere else to work if the University of Tampa goes out of business.

Milhouse: What's going on? Where are all the grown-ups?

Nelson: Who cares? With no adults, I run this city. [pauses, looks awkward] Um...carry on. [walks off]

Bart: Listen to this: [reads] "Unexplainable behavior: individuals acting in a secretive fashion are often involved with UFOs or other paranormal phenomena, e.g., telephone explosions."

Milhouse: Jeez...if it's in a book, it's gotta be true!

Bart: Scary, no? [points at author's photo] And this guy's head of the Spaceology Department at the Correspondence College of Tampa!

-- from the episode "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy"

Tuesday, May 16

Must Have MacBook

Apple has introduced the MacBook, the successor to the iBook. It's already at the very top of my wishlist.


On a not-entirely-unrelated note, my birthday is approaching. Hint, hint.

Prognosis: So Far, So Good

America's Favorite Housecat is on the mend! Watson has been through four bouts of chemotherapy, and Dr. Lavalle at Florida Veterinary Services tells me that his outlook is "positive" and "optimistic." What good news -- and what a relief!

Here's what it says on Watson's most recent report:

"Watson is bright and alert on physical exam. He weighed 14 pounds, 8 ounces. Heart and lungs auscult clear. Abdominal palpation is unremarkable. Peripheral lymph notes are normal in size."

Sounds good, doesn't it.

Of course, it would be foolish to get cocky this soon into chemotherapy. It's far too premature -- and I'm much too superstitious -- to use a word like "remission" at this point, as Watson still requires five more months' worth of treatment.

Still, Watson has made real progress. I see it every time he walks into the room, I hear it every time he purrs, and I feel it every time I scratch his head. If that's not reason for celebration -- even a cautious celebration -- then I don't know what is.

It's Like Toothpaste, But For Your ...

I saw this product in Target the other night:

It's like toothpaste, but for your ...

According to coworker Rich Mullins, a dad, "It's exactly what you think it is. It's the same goo you get from Johnson & Johnson, but with a much funnier name."

Monday, May 15

Today's Newsradio Quote: Edward R. Murrow

Dave: You can't just pluck someone off the street and put him on the air.

Bill: Of course you can. How do you think Edward R. Murrow was discovered?

Dave: That is not how Edward R. Murrow was discovered.

Bill: Don't confuse me with the facts.

Out Thought

Will someone please explain to me why a certain hotel heiress is on the cover of this month's Out magazine.

Has this individual (whose name I shall not mention, given the rather precarious condition that reporters face these days when it comes to posting any opinions on the Web) advanced the cause of equality? Has she made a meaningful contribution to the world of arts or letters -- or, more to the point, a contribution that resonates with gays and lesbians? Has she fought for fairness, for justice, for equal protection under the law, for safe schools, for marriage equality?

Perhaps there's some sort of inside joke here that I'm missing. Or perhaps I shouldn't expect some magazine editors to know the difference between notoriety and achievement. Either way, this issue of Out is one I could live without.

UPDATE: Boy, was I wrong. This young lady is an American treasure: a truly erudite, thoughtful, quick-witted intellectual! Consider this quote from her interview in Out: "Gay guys are more fun and they dress better and they're usually hotter. All the hot ones are gay." She's quite clearly a luminary on the same plane as Gertrude Stein and Susan Sontag. How could I have been so wrong!

Sunday, May 14

Never Forget

Britt visited Auschwitz and Birkenau earlier today.

I went there in 1993. I still have nightmares. You can leave Auschwitz, but you can never escape the despair and hopelessness you encounter there, nor the anger and guilt you feel there.

Never doubt that hell exists. It's in a small town in Poland, and its twisted gateway proclaims "Arbeit macht frei."

Saturday, May 13

UPDATED: Meeting Alexis

On Thursday the newsroom welcomed a very special visitor: little Alexis Behnken.

Alexis Behnken yawns

Alexis sleeps in her father's arms

Shannon and Alexis

If all had gone according to plan, Alexis would have been born earlier this week. Of course, nothing went according to plan. Alexis was born 10 weeks premature, spent more than a month in an intensive care unit, and only recently went home with parents Shannon and Jason. I can't begin to express how shocked and horrified I was when Alexis was born so early, nor can I put into words how exciting it was to see Alexis for the first time, doing so well. She's still quite small, but she was much bigger than I had expected. She weighs 6 pounds and 9 ounces now.

It was a pleasure to meet you, Alexis.

UPDATED MAY 14: Check out Shannon's story in today's Tribune.

Ted On Ted

America's Favorite Penn State Fan Ted Jackovics wore his Ted polo shirt to work yesterday. How appropriate.

Ted in Ted
I wish someone would name an airline after me.

Sunday, May 7

Tefillin Fine

I had my first up-close and personal encounter with tefillin (or, as we say in Hebrew, "תפלין") this afternoon at the Israel Independence Day celebration -- which was held, conveniently enough, around the corner from Britt's office at the University of Tampa's Plant Park. Britt got a nice shot of me all wrapped up:

Now, I'm not planning on leaving Schaarai Zedek to join an orthodox synagogue -- let's face it, I can barely read Hebrew with the vowels! Still, I really enjoyed exploring a facet of Judaism that I've never experienced before: to take words from the figurative realm and to make them real, to make them literal, to actually bind the commandments prescribed by the Shema upon my arm and between my eyes.

It was a strangely powerful experience, despite the casual environment. And it is something I hope I get to do again.

By the way, that plastic thing sticking out of my back pocket isn't tefillin. It's a free visor that I had to take off so that I could put the yarmulke on my head. There is nothing in Torah, as far as I know, about visors -- although I seem to remember Maimonides saying something about a baseball cap. But I could be wrong. I don't remember quite a bit of what I learned at Hebrew School.

Swimming Trunks

Tamani, the baby elephant at Lowry Park Zoo, put on quite a show for Britt and me this morning. It was the first time we saw him head into the water:

At first, Tamani just explored the edge of the pool, timidly putting his trunk and front feet into the shallow water. After some of the adult females joined him, though, he seemed happy to wade into the pool.

Not bad for an eight-month-old, eh?

Saturday, May 6

Overheard On "The Daily Show"

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, discussing the lack of food at a recent meeting with President George W. Bush: "During the Clinton administration, we used to have snacks. ... Chocolate chip cookies.

"Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, failing to miss a beat: "Chocolate chip cookies -- that's the way you do diplomacy!

Worst. Reality TV Show. Ever.

There are a lot of horrible reality TV programs out there, but none of them are set in the sewers. Until now.

Worst. Reality TV Show. Ever.

Please insert your own what-a-crappy-idea pun here.

Orinoco-Coca-Cola Flow

And, at long last, we can answer the ancient question: Where does Enya buy her soft drinks?

Where Enya buys her soft drinks

Waiting Room

So, what does Watson do when he's waiting for his next chemotherapy treatment?

Watson checks out the centerfold in

He checks out the centerfold in Cat Fancy magazine, of course.

Tuesday, May 2

At Starbucks

Greetings from the Starbucks coffee shop on South Howard Avenue in Tampa. If I came here regularly, I'd consider coming to Starbucks my pre-work ritual, as I do the same thing on every visit. I order a medium-sized coffee in a large cup, so I can add some milk to cool it down. Then I grab one of the four green feels-like-velvet-but-I-know-it's-not chairs near the front door, unfold my laptop computer, and poke around on the Internet for about half an hour.

Today I also bought a bran muffin. I ate nothing but garbage yesterday, so I figure I should do something nice for my digestive system.

The guy sitting across from me is staring intently at his Toshiba laptop. He's got one of those flat faces and tiny noses you only find on children's dolls and WASPs. Instead of using the touchpad on his laptop, he's using a wireless mouse: the receiver is plugged into the right side of the computer, and he's got the mouse in his left hand on the armrest. I can't imagine that fake velvet makes for a very good mousepad.

I enjoy watching the parade of people who traipse through Starbucks after 9 a.m. These are folks who would be at work if they had normal jobs. I wonder what they do for a living, and what they're paid for it. For example, a tall white man just walked in. He's wearing chinos, a pink Oxford button-down dress shirt, and he's carrying an Stetson hat. I can't tell if the hat is olive green or a shade of brown. He just plunked his cellphone and some kind of pad or workbook down in a chair, and he's heading to the end of the coffee line. What does he do? Why does he have time to hang out in Starbucks in the morning?

Now he's back. He's sitting down and rustling the pages of the sports section. He's one of those people who carries his keys instead of stashing them in his pocket. He's crossing his legs so that the ankle of his left leg rests on his right knee. It is, in fact, the same position I'm sitting in -- although I'm using my raised leg to support my iBook, and he's using his raised leg to support the newspaper.

I feel like I should make some grand observation here to end this blog entry.

Monday, May 1

Giving Birth To A New Playlist

I've started a Katie Holmes playlist on my iPod. So far, it contains:

'Til Tuesday: "Voices Carry"
Björk: "It's Oh So Quiet"
Depeche Mode: "Enjoy the Silence"
No Doubt: "Don't Speak"
Ben Harper: "Crying Won't Help You Now"
Bruce Springsteen: "Code of Silence"
Coldplay: "A Whisper"
Crowded House: "Whispers and Moans"

Anything I'm missing -- besides, of course, "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel, which I don't own and I don't particuarly feel like paying 99 cents for at the iTunes Music Store?