Category Archives: Movies

The God Who Wasn’t There

It’s been a rough couple of weeks.  Multiple reasons, none of which I’ll go into on my blog.  Anyway, I’m just being honest.  Shit rains down on all people regardless of…well, frankly, regardless of anything.  Sometimes, some days are just shitty.  And, as I always say, when times are shitty you have 3 options:

  1. Laugh.
  2. Cry.
  3. Kick someone.

It’s one of my mottos for life.  Most of the time it works for me.

Anyway, focus, Tyler.  Bad couple weeks…ahh yes.  Well, you see, over the last Decade or so since I left the Church, I have had a hard time finding community.  It’s something that I really miss about being part of a church.  In fact, I personally believe that that is the number one reason people actually go to church.  Community.  People crave the social aspect of church.  Sure, there are other religious or spiritual reasons people go to church.  But, in my opinion, people want to hang out with like-minded people.  I enjoy diversity, but I also love to hang out with people who think like I do.  Give me a group of former-Christian, agnostic, left-winged, homosexicals and I am set.  Seriously.

I should clarify my position as an agnostic.  I say “agnostic” because I’m not completely ready to say that I am an atheist.  I’m still being just a tad non-committal. And, since it’s my life, I’ll call myself whatever I want to call myself.  When you say that you are an atheist, it’s a bold statement.  Especially if you grew up going to church and then went to Bible College and became an ordained music pastor.  It’s almost like saying “fuck you” to all the Christians that were part of your earlier life.  That’s not how I intend for it to come across.  Many people take my agnosticism as a personal attack on their own beliefs.  There’s not much I can do about that.  It’s similar to the way many feel that their own family is threatened by same-sex marriage.  Or family in the general sense of the word.  If I can call my husband, children, and I a family, well then, that means just anyone can call their family a family.  pshaw. I would hate to be responsible for tearing someone else’s family apart.

To be honest I can relate more to atheists than I can to just about anyone else.  There just isn’t much organization amongst atheists.  I’m hopeful that that is beginning to change.  Slowly people are beginning to accept that it is actually OK to admit that you don’t believe all the crazy things that you were taught as a child.  There are even small gatherings of non-believers popping up around this God-fearing land of ours.  I think it’s great.

This past week I watched a short documentary called The God Who Wasn’t There, which was very interesting.  It was directed and narrated by a guy who, like me, grew up in the Church and, after years of questioning, decided that he was an atheist.  After several weeks of feeling pretty miserable it was just incredibly nice to relax and watch something that was able to put words to what I felt.  I really am not alone in what I believe.  And, when you are having a bad time in life, it’s nice to know who aren’t alone.

Dance Fighting!

Ok, so I am about to acknowledge another lapse in my education as a proper gay man. I am 34 years old and just saw, for the first time, West Side Story. Jeff and I were on a nice Sunday afternoon walk when we noticed that it was playing at the Castro Theater. So, we decided to crawl in, as it was just starting, and catch the film on the big screen of a historic theater (if you’re going to see it, you might as well see it like that, huh?).

Well, of course, Jeff had seen the movie version numerous times and as he proudly puts it, “I am one of the few that can say, ‘I was both a Shark and a Jet.'” Oh yes, that’s right, for one very special summer stock type of performance they painted my dear Jeff’s face to look Puerto Rican. Although, they did that in the movie, too. Baaaaaad make-up. But, gooooooood dance fighting!

I am going to go out on a limb here and just make a sweeping statement that could possibly affect the lives of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Prepare ye for this great revelation…it’s coming…it’s coming. If we would arm ourselves with dance belts, a good solid pair of dance shoes, a tube of ChapStick®, and the choreography of Jerome Robbins, and fight like real men, this world might have a good chance. I mean seriously, have you ever seen dance fighting? It is one of the best things I have ever seen. The only thing that kept me from having a full-out giggle fit was the appreciatively nodding, serious movie patrons surrounding me. To them it was some of the best choreography ever created. To me it was the answer to the question, how do we achieve world peace. Answer: one dance fight at a time.

The single best thing about dance fighting is that you never really even touch the other person. It’s very physical, but it’s all interpretive. Lots of high kicks and theatrical rolls. All this said, actually my favorite scene was after the rumble, where they are trying to “cool” down. It contains some of the “coolest” choreography. Here are the lyrics to the song…

Boy, boy, crazy boy,
Get cool, boy!
Got a rocket in your pocket,
Keep coolly cool, boy!
Don’t get hot,
‘Cause man, you got
Some high times ahead.
Take it slow and Daddy-O,
You can live it up and die in bed!

Boy, boy, crazy boy!
Stay loose, boy!
Breeze it, buzz it, easy does it.
Turn off the juice, boy!
Go man, go,
But not like a yo-yo schoolboy.
Just play it cool, boy,
Real cool!

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Right. So, slightly homo-erotic, huh? Rocket in your pocket? Seriously. I about busted my gut. Which, reminds me. The only part of the movie that my fellow serious movie-going gays laughed at “inappropriately” was during one scene when Maria says to Tony, “Oh, and Tony, when you come, be sure and come in the rear.” There was a whole lot of snickering going on. You have to love old movies that cannot be watched seriously because almost every term or word has new meaning in our present society. Words and terms like “gay” and “come in the rear.”

I know that this makes me a bad gay. Making fun of West Side Story puts me on seriously dangerous ground. And, I hope that I don’t create a division in the gay community. But, if I do, we’ll just have a dance-off. You heard it here first, folks. I challenge all ye who think my joking isn’t funny to a dance-off. Castro Street, Midnight, bring your gear (don’t forget your tube of ChapStick®) and leave your chains, knives, and rocks at home.

Oh, what the hell, here’s the “Cool” video:

The Wide-Eye Squint

Several years ago my friend Jaclyn and I were on TV. It was super exciting. We were roommates at the time, making a routine trip to the store. The camera crew was waiting for us outside with the news reporter pointing a mic in our faces demanding we answer his questions. Once we found our mark and the lighting “sweet spot,” we each began to share our New Year’s resolutions. Being blinded by the fame and glory that surely awaited me once it aired, I don’t fully remember what I said. I think it was something totally cute and adorable, yet important enough to make people question their own resolutions. Jaclyn told the world that she didn’t really make New Year’s resolutions.

I happen to think that I am totally photogenic. The camera loves me. It’s a problem really. Perhaps, a curse. Anytime someone points a camera in my face, I pose. “It’s like a gift from God, or something.” (Thank you, Drop Dead Gorgeous) It just always feels like I should turn my head slightly and pucker just a little. Or perhaps, give the wide-eye squint that I learned from Tyra Banks (ANTM). And, you know, sometimes I should give the camera my right side, it really is my better side. Ok, I am totally obsessed with modeling. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually think that I could or should be a model. I find it totally amusing. I’m just fascinated by the whole modeling world.

Perhaps, it’s the fact that none of it is real or attainable. I mean, seriously, normal people don’t look like models. And who decided that a morbidly thin girl with impossibly high cheek bones and sunken eyes was the epitome of sexy? Maybe, being part of the misfit clique in high school made me the way I am. It would be interesting to see if any of my misfit friends enjoy making fun of the modeling world the same way I do. There is just an arrogance about it that is totally hilarious to me. So, I make fun of it.

Some of my favorite movies and TV shows are based on this subject. Take, for instance, Zoolander. “Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?” It’s one of those movies that I could just keep quoting forever. And then, there is America’s Next Top Model or ANTM, as it’s fans refer to it. It’s funny to me to listen to the judges critique the contestants. It really embraces everything that I find funny about the modeling world. But, my latest obsession is Make Me A SuperModel. There is just something ultra-satisfying about watching pretty people fight over who is the prettiest.

However, the real gem for me this winter has been Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants. This reality TV show/mother-daughter beauty pageant/cat-fight contest has provided me with such laugh out loud moments of glee. I owe it big time for all of the material it’s given me. It puts me in my happy place. But, now I have completely digressed.

Oh crap. This post was going to be about New Year’s Resolutions. I was going to segue from my TV moment into my resolutions for this year. Fuck that. Oh yeah, I wasn’t gonna say fuck so much this year. Oh well, maybe next year.

How do you like my wide-eye squint?

Now, just a tilt…

Ok, now that’s too much…

…looks like my face is about to implode. I totally just cracked myself up with this
“photo shoot.” I seriously need to be on medication.

Me, Myself and I

One of my all time favorite and most quoted lines of all time comes from Jennifer Coolidge’s character (Sherri Ann Ward Cabot, see below) in Best In Show. Actually, I probably quote some line from that movie at least once a day. It’s a sickness. Really. Just ask Jeff.

Jennifer Coolidge in "Best in Show"

Anyway, back to my favorite line. “I’m just going to stand here until I get another message from myself.

My second favorite line to quote from the movie is from the scene where they are interviewing Sherri and her ninety year old husband Leslie: “Leslie and I have an amazing relationship and it’s very physical, he still pushes all my buttons. People say ‘oh but he’s so much older than you’ and you know what, I’m the one having to push him away. We have so much in common, we both love soup and snow peas, we love the outdoors, and talking and not talking. We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.

Love it! But, I’ve digressed. This is what happens when I start quoting that movie, it just leads to another quote. Especially, when my friend Jaclyn is involved. And now, I want to go watch it. OK. Where was I? Messages to myself. Got it. I talk to myself. Ah yes, that’s what this was all about. I talk to myself. Let’s get on with this, Tyler. Ok, Ok, I’m done, really.

So, I guess this is another confession. (I do that a lot in my blogs, don’t I?) I am a self-talker. So as not to be confused with a normal person, I should tell you that I talk to myself…out loud. In fact, I sometimes have full-on conversations with myself. I always have. And just so that you don’t confuse me with someone with multiple personality disorder, I should let you know that it is all me that is talking, not some other persona that I have created. And, finally, so as to set myself apart from some crazy homeless person who talks to himself out on the street where everyone can hear; I only do it in the privacy on my on home.

Now that we have all the formalities out of the way, I would like to say that I find it interesting that people are afraid to admit that they talk to themselves. But, I know you do. And, I think it’s only natural. It’s kind of like journaling out loud. I often do it when I need to sort my thoughts out on something. Because thoughts are different than words. Words are stronger than thoughts. Words are actually very strong. They have the power to hurt and to heal, to tear apart and to bring together. That’s actually why I starting blogging. I wanted my words to be heard.

I originally heard this idea of the power of words from Eve Ensler, playwright/author of The Vagina Monologues, Insecure At Last, The Good Body. I love her work. She taught me that by avoiding words, topics, and issues, you actually give them power over you. Which is the other reason I started blogging. I wanted to talk about issues and topics that have had a hold on me, and therefore disarm them, rob them of their power. It works. Have you ever heard the idiom “elephant in the room?” It’s an obvious truth that is being ignored. When you say, “hello there, elephant, I see you there, how ya doin’,” it’s as if the elephant shrinks just a little bit. The more you acknowledge it, the smaller it gets. The more you ignore it, the bigger it gets.

So, I talk to myself. I’ve been busted many times, too. Mostly when I was a little kid and thought that no one could hear me, even though they were just 10 feet away. I lived most of my childhood in some other world. I was a chronic daydreamer. I still am, actually. I often have to work at pulling myself into the present. And, right now, I am getting a message from myself that says, “End this blog, and go watch Best In Show, you know you want to…” Thank you, Tyler, I believe I will. Talk to me later.

The Real Wedding Singer

Jeff and I were watching TV this weekend and happened to surf past The Wedding Singer, starring Adam Sandler (Robbie Hart) and Drew Barrymore (Julia Sullivan). Oh, that takes me back. You remember the movie, right? You know…Adam Sandler plays a washed up wedding singer whose fiancé walks out on him at the altar. Drew Barrymore plays a catering server who ends up falling for Adam’s character, and dumps her fiancé (whose last name is Gulia, which would have made her name Julia Gulia).

Needless to say, unless you like hearing Adam Sandler doing 80’s covers, this movie itself is washed up. So, we kept on surfing. But, of course, that movie always reminds me of my college days. Not because it was set in the 80’s, but because I was a real wedding singer back in the 90s.

I never did it for a living, though. I was kind of like the girl who is always the bridesmaid and never the bride. I have sang in more weddings than I care to remember. And, I have to admit it straight away…I hate weddings! Here’s why…

I think they are ridiculous. Not in a “oh, bless her heart…can you believe she wants that in her wedding…” type of way, but in a “these people ain’t right” type of way. Seriously, I know what I’m talking about here–these people ain’t right. One of the bonuses of being the wedding singer/musician (sometimes I just had to play the piano) was that I got an up close view of how horrible everything really was, but I didn’t have to actually stand up with the wedding party and pretend to like it. You have to know what I am talking about here–think bridesmaid dresses, gaudy flowers, etc. etc. I got to sit over in the corner and crack jokes or just shake my head in disbelief.

The number one reason that I hate weddings is clear. I can’t deal with the entitlement that goes along with it. It’s this attitude that says, “This is my day! I deserve to get whatever I want!” Ugh. I totally grossed myself out just typing it. I’ve actually seen brides throw temper-tantrums.

The second reason is that because they are entitled, they will put anything that they want in their wedding. And this is where I was always personally affected. If I ever sing at another wedding, there are several things that I swear on my severely sprained ankle that I won’t sing…The Wedding Song (There is Love). No way. No more Peter, Paul and Mary songs! Also, no more Everything I Do (I Do It for You). And, definitely, positively no more Chicago songs. You know…You’re the Inspiration. I just have to put my foot down. Ouch!

Most of the people’s weddings that I sang in were friends, so, I have probably just offended them all. Oh well, they need to know these things for their second or third weddings. Which brings me to the third reason I hate weddings. Freebies. Now, keep in mind, most of these weddings happened prior to my career as a flight attendant. I had to pay to fly everywhere. And, people just love to have their special day at locations that could not be possibly more inconvenient. I actually “opted” out of going to my sister’s and my brother’s weddings because they were too far removed–i.e. waaaaay too expensive to fly to.

But, as for my “friends,” I cannot tell you all of the outrageous things that were expected of me pro bono. I actually had one “friend” in college get mad at me because I told him I couldn’t afford to pay the $600 for the airfare to come and sing at his wedding (for free). The most common thing that people would ask me to do for free is what I call “filler.” Basically it went like this: they would discover at the last minute that their poorly planned wedding had gaps in it. Oh yeah, why don’t we just have the pianist play something there. “Oh, pianist, can you just play a little something while we wait for the bride to get ready?” That’s why I always came to weddings with loads of piano books. Better to be prepared.

Weddings bring out people’s true character. In mothers who may normally appear to be sweet and harmless you see the inner control freak. In fathers who may normally appear to be dominant and controlling you see that they really just don’t give a shit. And, in brides who may normally appear to be totally in love with the groom, you see that they are much more in love with the wedding than with him.

Wow, I just let out some seriously pent-up feelings about this subject. I feel much better now.

I can’t end a blog post about weddings without at least telling my funniest wedding experience. First, I fully support gay marriage. I fully believe that we should have the right to marry whomever and however we want. That doesn’t mean that I actually want to have a wedding ceremony. Especially, after I went to my first gay wedding.

It was several years ago. The grooms decided to incorporate a plethora of cultural practices into their ceremony, in order to honor the diversity of their beliefs, I guess. So, it started with both of the grooms being carried in by the wedding party while the entire congregation repeatedly sang a song entitled He Carried Me. Subtle, I know. At another point the grooms sprinkled rose petals over the entire congregation. This was followed by one of the grooms playing You Are My Sunshine on his violin. And, the highlight was when the grooms got dressed up as pink bunny rabbits for the congregation. I shit you not.

Some people just ain’t right.