Friday, August 17, 2007

I "heart" F.N.Y.

Today, the packing boxes arrived, along with a suitably excessive amount of packing tape and about 35 miles of bubble wrap. The bubble wrap comes in its own dispenser and is perforated every 12 inches, like a giant roll of highly ineffective toilet paper.

The bubble wrap is what finally made it all hit home - we're actually moving. If you have industrial quantities of bubble wrap in your house, you're either moving, or you've got a serious psychiatric problem. In our case, both apply. But the moving thing is new.

Having lived in our current apartment for two years and nine months, it's the longest I've ever lived anywhere since moving out of my parents' house at age 17. Like most of us in New York, I've moved often and hastily, as if running away from a Dark Past.

In this town, grown adults in their 20s, 30s and 80s continue to live like college students, shuffling from one unbelieveably crappy apartment to another. But in Manhattan, an apartment the size of my freshman dorm room is called a "FLEX 3-BDRM only $4400!!! WOW!!! Call NOW!!! Won't Last!!!!!" The only difference is that the "Phish" posters have been replaced by wall sconces from Crate and Barrel, which is arguably not an improvement.

But by New York standards, this most recent apartment has been great. Well, except for the vomiting bathtub, and the 10 minutes of hot water alotted daily by the quaint "Pre-war!" water heater, or the time we got locked in our bedroom for so long we had to pee in the litterbox (don't ask....). But still.

The Linda Blair plumbing, like a lot of other "quirks" (a.k.a. Building Code violations) can be overlooked when you're half a block from Central Park. There are high ceilings and beautiful hardwood floors that only occasionally cause Paul to fall and break his arm in 3 places, requiring major reconstructive surgery. And, if you stick your head out the window and strain your neck a bit, in the summertime you can almost - almost - see a real-live tree.

Our New York friends tend to be impressed with the good deal we have. However, our out-of-town guests are typically underwhelmed.

"You pay how much for this place?" they ask. We tell them; they laugh nervously.

"Uh, you know, that's three time more than the morgage on our 5-bedroom house with an indoor swimming pool! But of course, keeping up the stables in the backyard is expensive. Really. Be glad you don't have room for horses! "

Then I throw up a little in my mouth.

Still, it's hard to imagine life anywhere other than New York, even though life in New York is not always easy, or even tolerable. It's absolutely nothing like on Friends or The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or Matlock. Not that Matlock took place in New York. But it might as well have.

Don't get me wrong - I liked shows like Sex and the City as much as the next person, but you'd might as well be watching a Harry Potter movie. I mean, really - who could walk around Manhattan in 5-inch Jimmy Choos without calling on the powers of darkness? But gravity doesn't work the same on T.V., and I'm not just talking about boobs. In the New York shows, it's always Amnesia Season - one of the two or three weeks of the year when you can wear a halter top, in that alternate reality where they never seem tacky.

Fictional New York (FNY) is the urban Lake Wobegone -- a place where the women all wear miniskirts and 4-inch heels to work (as, say, a cardiologist); where the straight men are always fashionably dressed; and the poor black children are always adopted by kindly old white dudes.

In FNY, every 20 or 30-something somehow has a rent controlled (not just rent stablized) apartment, even though they aren't named Bertha or Elmer. There are a lot of high-speed car chases in FNY, but the bad guy is always bad, and not just the wrong color. And he always makes a full, uncoerced confession by the end of the episode.

I don't think I'm going to miss New York as much as I'm going to miss the idea of it; how it looks from a distance when you're on the bridge in a taxi at night, coming in from JFK.

I'm talking about the autumnal New York of Annie Hall, in the version of things where Woody Allen's character actually ends up with the eponymous Annie, and they live happily ever after (or at least with the consolation of shared neuroses). But even in the movie, you know it's not in the fabric of things. The real world is less perfect. In the real world, the "happy ending" is something you get for $50 extra at a seedy massage parlor, and Woody Allen marries his ex-stepdaughter, something that even the French find creepy (we all knew there had to be something).

In Fictional New York it's always early October, when the leaves are changing. It's not too hot, not too cold. People spend their immense free time strolling around, making pithy, yet humorous (if not necessarily "ha-ha" funny) observations before heading back to their phat pads.


Now that I'm moving away, I can pretend that I once lived there, too.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Premier Douche of France

Ah. Back from France.
It was a good trip. Total friggin' awesomeness. Did I mention we were in a chateau with a ping-pong table?
In French, one might say, Ce fut une expérience inoubliable. Which roughly translates into Amercian English as, "A++++++++Great ebayer!!!1!!! Will buy again!!!!"
Now comes the hard part of any vacation, which is the part where you're not on vacation any more. And the part where you only have 2 weeks before moving to Seattle.
Oh, yeah, we're moving to Seattle.


Well, there are a variety of reasons, which include a dream involving a talking salmon (always a sound basis for making important Life Decisions) and a cast of characters that includes, however improbably, the Headmistress of Mrs. Frigidbottom's School for Insufferable Young Ladies of Means, which is our next-door neighbor. Anyway, Mrs. Frigidbottom's -- a school with a tuition of approximately $30,000 per year (not unusual in NYC) ---recently purchased our building and is kicking us out, along with everyone else in our building, to make way for an new addition to the school. It would seem that the Insufferable Young Ladies require a new wing in which to learn to distinguish among the various shades of beige (lest one should confuse Taupe and Eggshell), or to understand the subtle textural differences between Beluga and Iranian Caviar.
Basically, it's the Hogwarts for future Ladies Who Lunch.
The name of the school in question has been changed to protect nobody in particular; in reality, it's called The Nightingale Bamford School. They're already taking legal action against all of us who have committed the egregious crime of living here legally, so I really don't care about being sued by them, as, in a manner of speaking, we already are. However, I still contend that the fictional name more accurately represents the ethos of the place ....
But I digress. Where was I? Talking about our vacation?
Something like that. Oh, and I was going to explain my recent extended abscence from the blog-o-sphere (ASIDE: why is it sphere? Why not a decahedron? Or a rhombus?)
To answer your question, Chris, I wish I could say the time was well-spent; that I was adding the final flourishes to my epic (yet poignant) 900-page novel that will singlehandedly revive the picaresque genre in American literature.
Sadly, I cannot say that this. Well, I can say it, but it would be untrue, at least from a certain perspective, which is to say, the one in "reality." Or, as the White House press office would contend, the fact that I have not written a 900-page picaresque novel is simply "a malicious rumor started by the Liberal-Leaning Media."

In "reality" (which, of course, is relative and open to constant revision - a good thing for us slackers) I spent the past six months feeling sorry for myself and moping about. Because, of course, it's hard out there for a white, happily married Young Urban Professional living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where it's notoriously difficult to find a good laundry service.
And every time I sat down to write anything, it just came out all maudlin and annoying, and I'd rather just spare you, dear reader. And myself.

As you can imagine, I felt rather ridiculous for being in this Vast Pit of Despair, but without any good reason. Or even a massively contrived excuse. Nor even a scapegoat.
But now I've decided, as they say in the psychoanalytic literature, to "get over myself." Which is really, like, 32 years overdue.

Anyway, about the trip. The photo at the top of this post is of Uzès, the small town in in the South of France near the chateau with the ping-pong table. The town of Uzès has a rich history dates back to the medieval period, a time when everyone was apparently very into Ren. Fair. The town motto is "le Premier Duché de la France," which might be translated by as "the Leading Douchebag of France."
In fact, it means "the first duchy of France," but that isn't much better. You see, in the 13th century, the feudal lords of the region took part in various wars that benefitted the kings (e.g., Childobert the Flatulant, or the lesser-known Georges Clovis Bush de Halliburton) and a few of their cronies, but pretty much nobody else. The feudal title of Duke, not unlike the modern-day title of "Head of FEMA", was handed out to the lords who were exceptionally loyal to the king. These men were the kind of gentried landowners who enjoyed nothing more - with the possible exception of quail hunting - than pillaging visgoths at the expense of the peasantry (think: Dick Cheney in velvet pantaloons).
In other words, they were .... well, the leading douchebags of France.

Maybe Babelfish is on to something....

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Les liasons bourgeouises

As I write this, I'm looking out over the French countryside in an 18th-century chateau. It's just like in Dangerous Liasons. That is, except for the Internet access and the hot tub and the Sub-Zero fridge. And without the extramarital romantic intrigue or the period costumes.

So, really, nothing at all like Dangerous Liasons. But I'll take reliable plumbing and a plasma TV over epistlary titilations, any day. Which is why people with cable tend to skip the whole "writing tortured and torturing love letters and driving young women to suicide" thing. Why bother, when you could spend your time watching Kojak dubbed in Turkish, or the French home shopping channel?

We're spending the week at Paul's uncle's winter home near Uzès, a medieval village just outside of Provence. Nobody else is here (it being one of the 10 months the place is empty) except for the Grizzled Caretaker, a gruff older man with arms covered in prison-style tattoos. The only time he even comes close to smiling is in proximity to his dog, a fluffy, yet crotchety little shiit-zu (sp?) named Pralinée. A taciturn man, the caretaker is someone you feel like you've met before, if only in fiction - kind of a combination of Jean Valjean and the old man on Scooby Doo who's always foiled by "those meddling kids!" Apparently, he's a raging alcoholic, which seems like part of the job description.

"Whatever you do -- DO NOT leave any alchohol lying around in plain sight," Paul's uncle warned. But as long as we don't feed him after midnight, I guess we'll be fine.

It's kind of like having our own private Club Med, complete with a pool and tennis courts and le ping-pong. Not that I play ping pong, but it's strangely comforting to know that I could if I wanted to.

(DEEP THOUGHT DU JOUR: Maybe that's the definition of power - having the option to do something you don't even want to do in the first place. Like taking a breeding pair of long-haired dachshunds on a hot air ballon trip across Bhuthan. Or opening a Virgin Megastore in space.)

Here at the Mas de Grézac (an old French term roughly translated as Le Phat Cribb), there's even a young French maid named -- you guessed it --Fanny. Fanny is one of those names kind of like Jeeves; when you put that on your kid's birth certificate, she's going to end up cleaning a chateau. To Paul's great disappointment, she doesn't wear a maid costume, which defeats the purpose of a French maid in his book.

I, for one, could get used to having someone clean up after me. Dear lord, does this mean I have to go register as a Republican?

Excuse me, but I have to go drink some Chateauneuf du Pape to console my liberal guilt ...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Support the Foundation for Cotton Ball and Q-Tip Mental Health

It’s been such a long, depressing winter. Funny that I’m speaking in the past tense, considering it’s currently 39 degrees in New York, which, as I recall in my saner moments, is fcuking COLD. You know you’ve been in New York far too long when 39 degrees seems like a sign to bring out the cabana wear. Today, it’s cold and dismal, threatening to snow. Gray clouds are lurking in the sky, like a weak-chinned guy hovering around a children’s playground . Kinda makes you shiver, just to think about it. In meteorological lingo, I think the correct term for this kind of weather is “shitty.”


It seems like everyone’s been horribly depressed for the past month. Late March and early April are like the last six miles of a marathon, when people are dead tired, and their feet hurt, and in some cases they’ve crapped their pants (no, really – this actually happens; it’s #38 on my list of reasons “Why I’ll Never Run a Marathon,” right before “You have to run 26 miles” and “The dude in the dinosaur costume would almost definitely beat me”).

April really is the cruelest month, and not just because of the “breeding violets out of the dead land,” blah, blah (but that, too). Early spring always gets your hopes up with one or two beautiful, sunny sit-out-on-the-restaurant-terrace days, just to let you remember what you’re missing before taking it all away again. Spring is a big tease. Really. It’s like the lap dance of seasons.

I haven’t written in the blog for a while (I refuse to say “blogged”; it just sounds gross, as if it might involve killing baby seals) , for a few reasons:

1. I’ve (temporarily?) lost all desire to do anything but sit on the couch and read New Scientist and/or watch specials on VH1 and/or E! about former child celebrities who are now addicted to crack and/or hold minor political offices somewhere in the Valley.
2. The universe is going to implode in a few billion years anyway, so, like, what’s the point?
3. The “premarital blogging” concept is a bit anachronistic now that we’ve been married for two years (happy anniversary, P). I meant to create a new blog, with a more relevant theme, but that would require effort (see #1).

To an outside observer, my recent lifestyle changes might just look like pure, unadulterated laziness. But I prefer to think that I’m going through a “fallow period.”

You know, like how farmers sometimes let their fields go unplanted for a season or two, so that the crops come back stronger. I’ve been doing this for a while (about 32 years, now). So far, so good.

According to the cartoon cotton ball in the T.V. commercials, I could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or just plain old Depression (sad, sans acronym).

But if we listen to the animated evangelists for name-brand pharmaceuticals, we could all have everything from terminal nail fungus to erectile dysfunction or Restless Leg Syndrome (finally, a medical treatment for white people’s genetic tendency to do a little disco shuffle whenever we hear “Brick House”).

You really have to wonder how Americans diagnosed their medical conditions before the advent of talking bees and animated toenail fungus goblins. I guess people had to resort to something barbaric, like consulting “trained physicians” about their ailments.

Fortunately, we’ve come a long way in the past 20 years.

The most depressing pharmaceutical spokes-thingy is, by far, the Zol0ft cotton ball. Maybe it’s not a coincidence, but the commercial alone is enough to make you need anti-depressants. You know the one – the cotton ball hops around with a little rain cloud over his head. It rains only on him.

These commercials make me want to quit my job and start a foundation to help depressed Cosmetic Puffs ...

Sally Struthers has nothing on this little guy - his plight is somehow a brief but very concise history of human sadness. Never mind that he/she/it isn’t technically human, or that cotton balls don’t technically, uh .... emote. Still. Only a monster could fail to be moved.

In other ads, we’re supposed to believe s/he/it doesn’t want to play on the swing with the other cottonballs. But maybe all those other cottonballs are a bunch of douchebags? Or maybe our hero thinks it’s creepy for an mature, adult Cosmetic Puff to be playing on a swing?

It’s interesting how some conditions have an animated spokesperson, whereas others don’t. For instance, erectile dysfunction treatments never seem to have animated mascots. I think I speka for all of us in wishing that Viagra or Cialis would have a marketing campaign centered around "Dickie" the flaccid cartoon penis ...
Kind of like Digger from the nail fungus commercials. Heck, I would get a prescription for Cialis myself, just to support Dickie.

My other favorite is the Nasonex bee:

I recently came across a blog pointing out all the inconsistencies of the Nasonex bee, e.g., “the bee in the ad was talking with its mouth. This would be very difficult physiologically, as the bee respiratory system (the tracheal system) is not connected to the mouth at all, and thus the bee could not easily pass air over structures in its mouth to make noise.”

This is all very interesting, but failed to mention out the #1 inconsistency, which is that bees don’t speak with a Mexican accent (many speak with a Swedish accent). Although I guess that’s more of a stereotype than an inconsistency.

(Why are bees always portrayed as Mexican? If it were a the Nasonex Chihuahua, or the Nasonex Burrito, the accent might make sense...)

But I digress. Which, of course, is a symptom of Attention Deficit Disorder, which is another very handy excuse for my recent lack of interest in anything. When I was first diagnosed with Adult ADD a few years ago, I was very excited to finally have a condition that would explain all my horrible behavior. Not that being an adult is an excuse for anything…

Besides, I really don’t like the term Attention Deficit Disorder. It seems to focus too much on the negative of this condition, which isn’t necessarily a disorder, per se. As someone who likes to look at the bright side, I prefer the term Laziness Abundance Condition (LAC). As in, I LAC interest in doing the dishes, or finishing my work. Maybe I can apply for federal disability?

Of course, just because you have ADD doesn’t necessarily mean you’re crazy, lazy, or stupid, as the book title goes. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean you aren’t. When people can have more than one mental or physical condition, they call these “co-morbid conditions.” Thus, you can have ADD and be lazy and crazy. And suffer the heartbreak of toenail fungus.

I have several co-morbid conditions. So does Paul. So between the two of us we’re co-co-morbid. Or does that just make us “morbid”? Paul does have a rubber model of a skull sitting on his desk. That’s pretty morbid. Or is morbidity just another co-morbid condition? If so, does Pfizer make a cure for morbidity?
And most importantly, does it have a cartoon mascot? Maybe Lurch from the animated Addams Family could be the spokes-cartoon?
Or maybe the A.D.D.ams family could become the mascots for Ritalin or Adderall - a very disorganized family with co-morbid conditions. That would be hot.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pow Pow! POW!

As I write this, Paul and his friend Brian are sitting on the couch playing games on the XBox 360.

Yes, they are both in their 30s ...


As background music, the game features some sort of pseudo/electronic hip-hop music (think: what's in Sonic the Hedgehog's iPod...).

It's kind of quaint to watch two ultra-liberal Manhattanites (did I mention "in their 30s?") spend an evening shooting underpriviledged black and Latino kids. Ahem, "gangstas."

"But ... but... my character is black, so it's okay!!! Right? "

(A look of angst as Paul weighs Social Concience against Entertainment Value of game... )

"Oh, for god's sake, I'm a card-carrying member of the ACLU!!!"


Alas, "Entertainment Value," like the Devil, is the victor every time.

On the upside, Paul has promised not to make fun of me for purchasing ridiculously overpriced cosmetics and/or underwear and/or self-help books ... So I guess it's a reasonable trade.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bonjour, y'all!

I'm not sure if anybody's even still reading this (but I guess you are, if you're reading this ...kind of like the virtual tree falling in the SimsCity forest ...). Sorry I've been AWOL for a while - I've been insanely busy at work for reasons that are FAR to dull to go into.

That said, I'll go right into it. Part of the busy season included going to Atlanta to talk about fundraising (which is what I do at Institution Which Shall Remain Anonymous) at a meeting of French school heads (technically, they also had bodies). It was kind of weird to go to my "homeland" to go to a conference in French. Although I'm not from Atlanta per se, it is at the crossroads of where all the various branches of my family are and have been from for as long as anyone can remember: South Carolina (on Mom's side), Alabama (Dad's) and Jacksonville, where I grew up (for the most part).

Sadly, I did not get any grits, collard greens, BBQ or fried okra, which was my secret motive for agreeing to go to Atlanta. At first, I was hesitant about attending the conference, because it required me to face my greatest fear: snakes on a plane. Well, that and public speaking. I HATE public speaking. Being in public is hard enough. As is speaking. But both of them together? Horrifying. Strangely, it's easier to speak to a large group in French, I guess because it's not my first language --which, ironically enough, is Southern. And which I revert to as soon as I am physically even a foot below the Mason-Dixon line. This also happens after 1 a.m. or after two drinks, whichever comes first.

"Bonjour, y'all!" I wanted to say, to make it more democratic; so that nobody - French, Southern or otherwise - would have the foggiest ah-deea what I's tawkin' bout.

I did get bizarre job offers from other French schools. At least, I think they were job offers. Somehow, everything seems a bit seedier coming from a middle-aged French dude. Je vous propose 20 % plus de ce que vous touchez acutellement ...

In French, even a boring job offer sounds a bit like they're proposing something that might be illegal in Georgia.

BUT, on the upside, I have the week off this week! It's Spring Break #1 at the school where I work. Since it's a French school, they have two spring breaks (kind of like how the Hobbits have first breakfast and second breakfast ....). We also have a fall break, and a winter break, not to mention most of the Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Zoroastrian high holidays... The French really do know how to live. Go on vacation and eat some meat fried in butter and duck fat with a big slice of cheese and wash it down with red wine and espresso and a Gitanes - all while having sex. It's enough to let you overlook the whole Jerry Lewis thing. And all those films with "bourgeois" in the title, where everyone sits around and smokes and cries and takes off their shirts/pants for no apparent reason, and then it's over before you can even figure out what kind of existential tightrope they were tenuously balanced over.

There is nothing quite as nice, or as decadent, as the "at-home vacation." I think Travel and Leisure should do a segment on it - "Great Undiscovered Corners of Your Living Room," or "Bargain Adventures in the Backyard."

Today, I've done nothing. Well, next to nothing. I put a bunch of books on Amazon and I woke up and realized that all of our bookshelves are overflowing, and part of it is my unfortunate addiction to books with some combination of "Light," "Quantum" and/or "Healing" in the title. I've decided to go on a Self-Help fast. If anyone's been helped after all these years, it's Random House. Following various mental health lapses, I've probably been single-handedly responsible for the quarterly surge in sales in the Personal Development division.

I was having quite a bit of angst lately, because I don't know what I want to do when I grow up. And then I realized - oh, fcuk, I AM grown up!!! Too late to be a wunderkind, except possibly at the 2039 Senior Olympics. This used to inspire me to head straight for the Self-Help aisle, but no more. I've finally just achieved a level of Zen through transcendental meditation (i.e., lowered my expectations).

There was a time when I would sit around and worry about my lack of "achievements" or "professional accomplishments" or "personal hygiene." But more recently it's occured to me that the many people I know who are hugely successful aren't that much happier than I am. In fact, most of them are downright miserable.

But they do have much better footwear, which is why I still envy them.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Penguin indecency, and other subjects of great national importance

It's far too cold here in NYC.

Far. Too. Cold.

Right now, it's 19 degrees, but "feels like" 7. I love the "feels like" part of the weather. I'm not exactly sure how this is formulated, but I think it involves dividing the wind chill factor by the circumference of meteorologist's ass, multiplied by the square root of the combined digits in the birthday of his/her celebrity crush.

How cold is it? Yesterday, the gay penguins in the Central Park Zoo had to stop threatening the marriages of straight people in Washington State.

Speaking of celebrity crushes, I've let the back issues of InStyle pile up for so long that I didn't even realize that one of New York's top 7 celebrity gay penguin couples, Roy and Silo (above), have broken up. The news is pretty heartbreaking; I really wished those crazy kids the best. You might say they were the Jennifer Anniston/ Brad Pitt of the gay penguin community.

The breakup came after six years together, during which time they incubated a fertilized egg and raised a healthy chick known as Tango. Their story was even told in a children's picture book, And Tango Makes Three, which set off controversy in Indiana among parents who don't want their children to grow up to become penguins.

Roy and Silo demonstrated all of the characteristics of the straight mating pairs of their species - they built a nest (very well-decorated, no doubt), shamelessly nuzzled necks (in front of children!!!), and exhibited something called "ecstatic behavior" (crystal meth is huge in penguin gay bars).

But into this happy domestic tableau, enter Scrappy: a female temptress from Sea World San Diego. You know how those Southern California floozies are.... she probably has fake blubber. Anwyay, you might say Scrappy is the Angelina Jolie of the penguin world. And not just because she, too, was once married Billy Bob Thornton.

This is all very bad news for poor, jilted Roy (who, according to US Weekly, is "just good friends" with Keanu Reeves). However, this team-switching penguin does give some hope for the Rev. Ted Haggard, who, like Silo, has gone back to being "certifiably" straight.

In Haggard's case, it was all just an administrative oversight. You see, he was so busy preaching about the liberal agenda of gay penguins that he simply forgot to go down to the Department of Heterosexual-ness (DOH) to get his license renewed.

This unfortunate clerical error inadvertently resulted in Haggard doing fat lines of crystal meth off the chisled asscheeks of a male prostitute. Repeatedly, over a period of three years.

But, come on - cut the guy some slack. We've all let the tags on our car get out of date. It's practically the same thing.

Besides, who can blame the good Reverend? The DOH always takes forever, and they make you take that stupid "straight test" (written and road). This involves making men listen to the soundtrack to "Funny Girl," and if they actually know any of the words, they have to re-read the handbook and take the test over again. And if a guy notices a woman's shoes and/or personality before looking at her boobs, or if he can tell the diffrence between "Eggshell" and "Ecru" on the Sherwin Williams color chart ... well, he flat out fails.

The sad thing about Roy and Silo breaking up, and about Merle Haggard existing, is that it leads some people to say that being gay is a "deviant" choice, rather than something that is innate (although there are still four same-sex mating pairs among the 68 penguins at the zoo , which means just over 10% of them are "gay") .

But just because something is mutable doesn't make it unnatural. And besides, what if it were a choice? If it involves two consenting humans over the age of 18 (or two sexually mature pengiuns) what the flip difference does it make? I wonder if anyone in the history of EVER has cited "the well-manicured lawn of Steve and Phil down the street" as their reason for filing for divorce?

Most importantly, I wish people would stop looking to flightless arctic waterfoul as a reference for human familial or ethical behavior. On one side of the spectrum, the religious right co-opted the "family values" embodied by those smug Emperor Penguins in the documentary film, The March of the Penguins. At the same time, their cousins in captivity became the unwitting mascot of PFLAG members everywhere.

The poor penguins don't even know they're in the middle of a cultural turf war. Gay or straight, they're neither good nor evil, in the way that a cheetah who eats an antelope is neither good nor evil. He's just being a cheetah.

Adorable as they are, penguins aren't supposed to be our role models. Granted, they're more ethically mature than any of the White House Cabinet members. But still. A penguin's brain is the size of a cashew nut. They're not sitting around their nest discussing the geopolitical ramificaitons of the Guyanese border disputes. They're not even discussing the latest episode of "Top Design." But I'm sure that if they could, they would be.

Especially poor Roy. He really needs something to look forward to now that Cher cancelled her next world tour.