Obscurity Knocks

Earnest, empathetic, industrious, unpretentious, gay Virgo in Milwaukee with a great life, amazing friends, and a wonderful family.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Caroline Kennedy

I'm conflicted about Caroline Kennedy wanting New York Governor David Paterson to appoint her to fill the Untied States Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge fan of the Kennedy family. I wrote my master's thesis on the historical memory of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. With the death of her brother in 1999, Caroline is the sole surviving member of President Kennedy and Jackie's immediate family.

I do think that she has many of the necessary credentials to serve in the Senate: bachelor's degree from Harvard, law degree from Columbia, author of a book about the Bill of Rights, author of a book about the right to privacy, successful fund raiser for the New York Public Schools, President of the Kennedy Library Foundation, member of the Commission on Presidential Debates, and honorary chair of the American Ballet Theatre. Caroline brings the mystique of the Kennedy name and of being the daughter of President Kennedy and Jackie, which means that she would have no trouble raising the money needed to run if Governor Paterson appoints her. The Senate seat she would fill was previously held by her uncle Robert F. Kennedy. Before he was elected President, her father served in the U.S. Senate. She would continue her family's proud legacy in the US Senate. Her uncle Ted is recognized as the "lion" of the United States Senate, and he likely won't live to see 2010 due to his precarious health situation. She took to the campaign trail earlier this year in support of Barack Obama.

On the other hand, Caroline has never held political office, either elected or appointed. In the United States we are not supposed to have political dynasties, but no one ever told that to the Adams, Kennedy, Bush, and Clinton families, plus a host of others. There are a lot of people saying that she hasn't paid her dues, almost the same criticism many leveled against Obama.

While Caroline looks like her father, her personality is much more like her mother's. Jackie was a master at manipulating the media and using the press to her advantage. Caroline learned this media savvy from her mother. She's Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in her private life, but Caroline Kennedy (emphasis on the Kennedy) in her public life. While the two books I mentioned above didn't try to trade on her Kennedy name, she's made a fortune on her books about her family such as "The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis." In other words, Caroline wants the media involved in her life when it suits her, but wants them as far away as possible when it doesn't. This is a page right out of Jackie's handbook.

Caroline's media interviews to date have not been particularly impressive. She says "you know" and "um" many, many times in each interview. You'd think that someone who has spent her entire life in the public eye would be able to speak more eloquently.

In spite of this, I'm still pulling for Caroline. Her brother was the one expected to go into politics, and had John Junior lived, he likely would have done so. But as the sole surviving member of the Camelot family, now it's up to Caroline. As someone who loves the Kennedys (especially Jackie), I hope that Caroline is successful and that Governor Paterson appoints her to the United States Senate. Good luck and bon chance, Caroline!

speaking of chest hair...

I love this article below written by Jessi Klein.

Chest Hair
by Jessi Klein

Jessi Klein is a writer and comedian who has frequently appeared on Comedy Central, CNN, VH1, and the Today show. She is currently writing a screenplay for Universal Studios, as well as occasionally drawing animals for her best friend’s letterpress card company. She also likes to think she has value as a human being aside from her numerous credits in the entertainment industry.

From Mad Men’s Jon Hamm to Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick, torso-fros are (finally) making a comeback.
Ever since Adam caught Eve checking out that snake, men have spent way too much time worrying about the appearance of their manhood. What’s more important, the size of the wave or the motion of the ocean? Well, I’m here to make a bunch of men more neurotic by telling you the answer is none of the above. As far as I’m concerned, the real signifier of masculinity lies in another area entirely: chest hair. And it’s making a comeback.
After many years of drought, during which the only reliable source of manly tuft seemed to be the Baldwin brothers, chest hair has returned with a vengeance as the sign of sex appeal and virility. Mad Men star Jon Hamm (aka Don Draper) is entertainment’s tall drink of testosterone du jour. As much as every woman I know is in love with him, I’ve never seen a male celebrity so many of my straight guy friends openly admit they want to kiss. His profile is beautifully handsome, gracefully arched and symmetrical like the art deco bars he haunts, but he also has a swarthy helping of chest hair, rarely flashed on the show but available for long gawks on the interweb (or…so I hear.)
Clive Owen, the brooding, British Sin City hunk (and my number one personal distraction) has unabashedly displayed his sexily untamed man fur. Aussie Hugh Jackman (the newly anointed Oscar host and People‘s latest “Sexiest Man Alive” pick) is only a hair or two behind his X-Men alter-ego Wolverine, and he is all the hotter for it.
Is this good news the silver lining to otherwise cloudy headlines? In these troubled times of war and craptastic financial news, are we yearning once again for leading manly men with comfortingly warm pelts in which to hide our anxious faces?
Even the Tiger Beat crowd is sporting post-pubescent chest curls these days. Robert Pattison, the delicately anemic looking young star of Twilight, has unbuttoned just enough on the red carpet to reveal a healthy crop of pectoral fuzz. And Gossip Girl fave Ed Westwick, while barely of legal drinking age, has the dark downy appearance of someone who has spent all day frolicking with a black Pug.
Then there are the ubiquitous everyman hunks of the Judd Apatow empire, the thinking woman’s boyfriends: Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and Seth Rogen. All three are endowed with chest hair that could best be described as “enough for a handful” (employing the phrase I’ve heard men use to evoke the ideal-sized breast.) And while they all play man-children with immature tendencies, their resolute hairiness is a reminder of their ultimately full-grown hearts.
For me, a hairy chest has always been my strong preference. As someone who must make regular visits to a very intimidating woman from the Eastern Bloc to keep my own hirsuteness in check, I like to be with a man who’s definitively hairier than myself. When I meet a guy for the first time, I have no problem with his eyes wandering south for a second to check out my rack—that’s when I steal a glance at the little slip of landscape peeking out from the collar of his shirt. Is it heavily forested, gently grassy, or just a desert-like stretch of flesh, with nary a hair in sight to provide shade?
The seventies and eighties were gloriously thatchy time to be alive: Burt Reynolds was almost indistinguishable from the bear rug on which he lolled in Cosmo. The front-pelts of Ted Danson and Tom Selleck practically sprouted through the TV screen. Albert Brooks in Modern Romance was as hairy as the drain in a Greek locker room. When the Daily Beast reached out to Steve Guttenberg, one of the kings of bearing man fur, he was aware of his legacy, exclaiming: “Chest hair? Lancaster, Connery, Guttenberg, need I say more???”
My own obsession with chest hair began with Harrison Ford. I was exactly thirteen when I saw him in Working Girl. I think puberty set in sometime around the end of the first act, right after he ripped off his shirt, revealing a perfect chest drizzled with a wonderfully even hair growth. He had his way with Melanie Griffith, and then ordered her Chinese food. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on torso-fro.
By the nineties, a period of male-pattern chest baldness had entered pop culture. Much is made of women’s hemlines as indicators of economic mood, but the financial upswing that was the bulk of the Clinton years seemed, sadly, to create a taste for smoother, more boyish men. Geena Davis was gorgeous, but when a young Brad Pitt appeared next to her (and then on top of her) in Thelma and Louise, her looks were no match for his follicle-free form. I remember sitting in the audience, baffled: How is this guy prettier than she is? Music offered no relief, as hair-free boy bands like New Kids on the Block and ‘N Sync ascended the charts.
Along came Titanic, and Leonardo DiCaprio took the hairless baton from Pitt; and with these pinkinshly naked men causing mass swoons across the country (DiCaprio was getting so many numbers he had to form a “pussy posse” just to handle it all) a scary thing happened—men started waxing. And shaving. The metrosexual, along with his tell-tale five o clock trunk shadow, was born.
A quick note on the two kinds of hairless men. It’s one thing for guys to be genetically hairless. Women are a very forgiving group (Scott Peterson still gets love letters in prison.) That said, an extremely scientific email poll of my three best friends yielded a unanimous result on this issue: No one had any tolerance for male waxing, deeming it “too vain and feminine.” One friend said her crush on Daniel Craig was tempered by her belief that his smooth chest is the result of salon intervention.
As a chest hair lover, I pride myself on my hair-dar; that is, being able to surmise at a glance who’s packing wool and who’s not. Which is why Barack Obama’s infamous beach photo took me by complete surprise. I’d predicted a light but noticeable dusting; but even upon CSI level zooming, his skin appeared unsullied.
Ah, well. Nothing will put hair on your chest like being elected President of the United States.

Jessi Klein is a writer and comedian who has frequently appeared on Comedy Central, CNN, VH1, and the Today show. She is currently writing a screenplay for Universal Studios, as well as occasionally drawing animals for her best friend’s letterpress card company. She also likes to think she has value as a human being aside from her numerous credits in the entertainment industry.

Photo gallery.

Barack Obama and smoking

The New York Times has an interesting article about the fact that President-elect Barack Obama is a smoker. While some may argue that it doesn't matter if he smokes or not, my take is that it does. Here's why. We know that Obama is obsessive about working out. I read that he's hardly missed a day at the gym in the past two years. For that, I commend him. He's also compulsive about eating healthy. Again, that's good, because I think it's important for our elected officials be in good physical health. But if he's so obsessive about working out, how can he smoke? It doesn't make any sense to me that someone who exercises almost every day and who watches what he eats would smoke. It makes me question his judgment.
I'd compare the health obsession yet smoking to Obama professing to be in favor of gay rights, but then inviting bigot Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration. It doesn't make sense.
On a somewhat related matter, I watched an episode of PBS's "Frontline" this fall about Obama and his history. There were photos of him in college with a fair amount of chest hair. And the photo above of him vacationing this month in Hawaii shows none. Based on that evidence, I assert that he shaves and/or waxes. Odd.

Four films

I've seen four movies in the theater over the past two weeks:

1. "Slumdog Millionaire." I didn't know what to expect from this film, but I had heard good reviews. I was not disappointed. Part fantasy, part fable, part epic, part game show. I don't know how to explain it, but it's one of the most unique and original movies I've seen in a long time. The acting, particularly by the kids, was excellent. It was also great because there was not one actor that I knew, so I wasn't distracted thinking, "Oh, it's X celebrity playing this role." Grade: A.

2. "Milk." I was really excited to see this movie, and it lived up to my expectations. Arthur Miller wrote "The Crucible" about the Salem Witch trials, but he was really writing about the communist witch hunts of the 1950s. "Milk" is similar in that the film is a biography of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in the United States, but it's also about the gay rights movement of today and how our civil rights are being denied. I couldn't help but wonder why there isn't an elected official today with Harvey Milk's passion. It's unfortunate that his life ended so tragically, because we could use him today as state after state passes constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, and there isn't much outrage that citizens are being denied their civil rights. Sean Penn proves once again that he is one of the greatest living actors. Grade: A.

3. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." I wasn't excited about seeing this movie, mainly because I am so sick of both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, I can barely stand seeing either one of them. I can't figure out why so many people think that Angelina Jolie is some deity and that she and Brad Pitt deserve reverence and worship. Neither of them deserve anything, and I'm sick of their over saturation in the media. Nevertheless, I saw "Benjamin Button," and it exceeded my low expectations. Yes, Brad Pitt turns in a good performance. But the true star of this film is Cate Blanchett. Cate's acting is superb, and she proves that she is one of the best actors. I hope that she is nominated for an Academy Award for this role. Grade: B+.

4. "Doubt." I know with certainty that Meryl Streep is the greatest living actor. She proves that fact again in this movie with her portrayal of Sister Aloysius. La Streep has excellent company in this film with Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Viola Davis delivering superb performances. You knew that you were going to see a real battle of excellent acting when Streep and Hoffman went up against each other. But I was particularly impressed with Viola Davis's portrayal of Mrs. Miller. She holds her own and then some against Streep in a truly memorable scene. The movie is a real tour de force, with a compelling moral message about doubt and certainty. Grade: A.

Now I really want to see "Frost/Nixon," but it doesn't open here for another couple of weeks.

Prince William with beard

The British press, even the staid Telegraph, has made much of Prince William's beard. By beard I don't mean Kate Middleton, William's longtime girlfriend; I mean his facial hair. Wills evidently grew the beard to be more incognito on a recent military expedition in the Caribbean. He liked it so much, that he kept it for hunting at Sandringham and Christmas with his grandmother, The Queen. But it won't last much longer, because Wills is going to be a commissioned officer in the Royal Air Force, and the RAF prohibits facial hair. I wonder if he's trying to use the beard as a distraction from the fact that he's going bald. I think that he should do what I've done, and just shave his head. Life is much easier that way.

Ethel and George

Of all my dad's aunts and uncles, just one is still living. Ethel is my dad's aunt, and I think that she's 94 or 95. Here she is holding her great great nephew George (my dad is Ethel's nephew, my brother and I are her great nephews, and George is her great great nephew). Ethel's late husband (my dad's uncle) was named George, so some things come full circle. She was glad to be able to meet the new George F.

a few Christmas photos

A few photos from Christmas:
1. My parents. Every year my dad gives my mom a nativity scene wind-up music box. I think that her collection numbers 35+ now. She is holding this year's version.
2. My parents with George.
3. Dad and Abby playing the piano.
4. Mom, Abby, and Dave having a bite to eat.
5. Abby.


My uncle Tom and I played cribbage against my dad and brother on Christmas. Tom and I won, even though I'm hardly the greatest player. While I can play cribbage, I prefer whist or Shanghai. I wish that I could get my friends to play cards during the winter, but to date, I haven't been able to generate any interest. Plus "the group" is too large for some of these card games, so that could create problems.

Not Vanity 6 or the Timex Social Club

Here's one last photo from Barbie's birthday party of me with Lesley and Dave H. By her own admission, Lesley may have gone a little heavy on the makeup that night, but she looks beautiful. And her "ladies" are looking rather perky, as well. Lesley, Dave, and I had some interesting discussions about Vanity 6 ("Nasty Girl"), the Timex Social Club ("Rumors"), Jermaine Stewart ("We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off"), Lesley's Bat Mitzvah, and other 80s wonders.

More Barbie's birthday photos

1. Me and Lesley (love her new hairdo!).
2. Kitty Kat, Mark, and Ruben.
3. Ed (making an obscene gesture) and Claudia.
4. Ed (behaving this time) and Claudia.
5. Mark and Mandy (our favorite librarian).

Barbie's birthday

Barbie's birthday is on December 23. In past years, I've been unable to attend her birthday dinner because I've been at my parents' house for Christmas. This year I decided to hold off on heading to my parents' house until after Barbie's birthday. This year she had the celebration at La Merenda. Pictured above we have:
1. Barbie holding her new iPhone.
2. Barbie and Chad.
3. John M and Kim.
4. Pregnant Erika and Michelle.
5. Sarah French kissing her English beau Trevor.

One Christian, one white tree, one Jew

After finishing up our sundaes, I asked this gay couple if one of them would take our picture in front of the Bella's Fat Cat white Christmas tree. One of them begrudgingly agreed to take a photo, but he made it clear that he wasn't pleased. The result is pretty good, so I'm happy.

more Bella's Fat Cat photos

I need to remember to not smile so big. I look awful in these photos. Oh well, it was a great night of fun and Vivan Vance-style shenanigans with Lesley.

visit from Lesley

Lesley visited Milwaukee for the holidays. She and I celebrated Barbie's birthday eve (December 22) by going to two of my favorite establishments in Bay View: Classic Slice for pizza and then Bella's Fat Cat for dessert. She's heard me talk about going to both places for years, and now she's had the experience herself. Here she is in front of a mural at Bella's Fat Cat.

Abby and George update

Here's a picture of Abby and George taken earlier this month. I used it on my Christmas card. Abby will be 2 in early February and George is now 2 months old. I gave Abby a Sit 'n Spin for Christmas. The Sit 'n Spin was one of my very favorite toys when I was a little boy. Unfortunately, she has yet to figure out how to use it correctly. She tries to sit on the part that you're supposed to use to turn. I think that she'll eventually figure it out. It was fun to watch Abby's reaction to Christmas. I think that she was a bit overwhelmed by everything, but she seemed to have a good time.

One more Prince Harry photo

Because I can never get enough of either Prince Harry or Prince William shirtless.

Yes, I know that Prince William is going bald, but that happened to me about four years ago, so I can hardly hold it against him. I'd still be glad to get it on with either one.

Prince Harry shirtless on the beach

It's a belated Christmas present: Prince Harry shirtless on the beach in Mauritius. Unfortunately, he was with his slutty South African girlfriend Chelsy Davy. If I knew how to use Photoshop, I would substitute me for Chelsy. Prince Harry is pure perfection. Enjoy the hotness!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

City of Milwaukee propety taxes

This year I was curious about how much my friends who live in the City of Milwaukee pay in property taxes. All of the information is public record and easily available online, so if anyone has a problem with this, too bad, because anyone with a computer can look it up.

$14,417 Jim and Jerry
$7,868 Brad and Anne
$5,366 Me
$4,963 Kelly
$4,395 Scott and Sarah
$3,756 Dave and Kristy
$3,206 John
$3,006 Sarah
$2,916 Dave
$2,790 Ruben and Mark
$1,990 Kim

In looking at just my friends, we make a fairly sizable contribution to the City of Milwaukee.

Fortunately this year, my escrow check was $300 more than my property tax bill, so I already sent it in, and will hopefully receive the $300 refund sometime soon.

The Price is Right

So I haven't watched The Price is Right since Bob Barker retired. I feel like doing so would somehow betray Bob, who hosted TPiR for almost my entire life. Plus I'm not a Drew Carey fan. But I came across this video of a man who has one of the very best showcase wins I have ever seen in many years of TPiR watching. Enjoy!