Tuesday, September 19, 2006

big news.

i have some very exciting news for all of you. well, maybe not for all of you, but at least for me.

as of, well, now, the reluctant receptionist has a new home:

dearest readers, i give you reluctantreceptionist.com.

Monday, September 18, 2006

i hope this works robbi

test 1 2 3, "anything but that!" sorry robbi, i needed to pop in a test post cause blogger is giving me a very hard time. :-)


phong was in town this weekend for a friend's wedding, which was an all-weekend affair: cocktail hour in midtown saturday evening; ceremony at st. ignatius loyola; cocktails rooftop at the yale club; reception until 11:30 last night. absurd. i can't even explain to you what this wedding must have cost. thousands and thousands of dollars. vera wang bridesmaid dresses. couture gown. it was extravagent but tasteful. i was at the reception last night, grand central in view from the window, and thought to myself, they've thrown themselves a dream new york wedding. i said to the girl next to me that when i get married someday it'll be cheez-its on paper plates. or a backyard luau (ten points to who gets that reference first).

among all of this nuptual splendor, i met all of phong's close friends from college. on top of trying to explain who i was (do i live in san francisco? if i live in new york, how do i know phong?), i didn't feel like also telling these people that i was a classical singer whose day job is in research at mt. sinai. it's too complicated. i find myself doing this more and more lately: i completely edit out the fact that i have a masters degree in classical singing. strangers that i meet in bars or at weddings just think that i do research at mt. sinai.

why? because as soon as i tell them that i'm a classical singer (my spiel when i first started my day job: "well, i have a masters in classical singing, but my day job is ___."), they ask, "oh, wow! so what kind of stuff do you do in new york?" and i have to tell them, "well, i've auditioned for a couple church jobs." because i haven't had a professional singing gig besides church since, um, fall of 2004. so what kind of stuff do i really do in new york? asthma research at mt. sinai.

of course, they then ask where i went to school and i tell them peabody conservatory i have to go through the whole rigamarole. but it's at least a little delayed.

i know, all of my musician friends, that you're going to tell me to get back on the horse. that i have to do dozens and dozens of auditions before even one person will say something encouraging. and, really, it's my own fault that i haven't gotten a real gig in two years. it's my own fault that i'm using a headshot that a friend took of me in college; that every day i wake up and think, "i'm going to call so-and-so for an audition!" and then i go to bed, having gone to work and gone to the gym and cooked dinner and read.

i just have to figure out which horse to get back on. :-)

Friday, September 15, 2006

happy friday!

"i can't smoke one stick of marijuana.

i can't snort one snort of horse."

jerri blank lives.

Baby Steps

"So who's this new guy?" my mother asked me recently. I hadn't called her in about two weeks; I'd been busy with work, with plans, with living in New York City. Anyway, we'd discuss innocuous things that didn't involve politics or George W. Bush. Or, God forbid, me being gay. Hearing her ask about a new guy in my life sounded completely foreign, like she'd just asked me what I thought of some party drug or the latest Madonna album. In the nearly ten years since I came out to her I'd grown accustomed to talking about safe subjects, having conversations that could be typed out and read verbatim every week, as if we were reading a script of the world's most boring sitcom: "How's work?" "Oh, it's fine. I'm really settling in. Boy, it was rough going there for a while." "I know, I'm so glad that you got that job." Every week was the same, but with subtle differences: my health would be better, or worse. Her hip would be giving her trouble.

I'd recently decided to push the issue with my mother. I wasn't going to edit out anything I told her. I wasn't going to continue living the life that I'd created for her over the last few years: that of a neutered, gay uncle; that of a man with a roommate or companion or friend. I had two options, as I saw it. I could either stop calling home altogether, just call it a loss, or I could try to speak with my mother as a human being, as I would with any of my friends, albeit cursing less frequently and completely avoiding the topic of sex.

I chose the second option and decided to lay it on the line. Our conversation started out following its usual trajectory: Yes, I'd been sleeping enough; yes, my roommates were just fine. When, every Sunday, my mother asked me what I'd done that weekend I'd usually give her the edited-for-mother version: gay bars became bars; dates never happened.

"So, what did you do this weekend?" my mother asked, predictably.

"Well," I told her, "my roommate and I went out to dinner on Friday night, and then I went and hung out with this guy that I've been dating." I waited for her frazzled response, waited to hear how she was going to deal with this new slant in our weekly conversation. I only heard the crackling of static in my cellphone as cars whizzed past. "And then I went out with Scott and his boyfriend Chris on Saturday," I hurriedly finished.

"That sounds like fun," she said, simply. I'd left out that we'd gone to a tiny, dirty bar downtown where I'd been told to look for a half-asian go-go boy named Dennis because he had the most amazing ass my friend had ever seen. You know, baby steps. And then, to my surprise: "So who's this new guy?" I realized that I hadn't really thought out what I was going to tell her; I never really expected her to ask. Who was this new guy? How did I explain to my mother, a woman who's married to her high school sweetheart, that things were still casual between us? How did I explain to her that in New York City people carry their neuroses around with them like sacks of rocks, that everyone in this town is slow to trust another person, slow to commit?
"Oh, he's just a guy that I met. He's pretty great, but we're taking it slowly." There, that's that. My mother made a noise that said, Yes, I know how that goes or Dating's a tricky thing and went on to the next subject.

So we weren't best friends. I never get it when people are best friends with their parents, anyway. But maybe I'd started to shine a little light into the part of my life that was real: not work, not money, not auditions or rent, but my relationships with people. And maybe it was something that my mother wanted to see.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

the roundup

first of all, the gossip last night at irving plaza: a-ma-zing. amazing amazing. exactly what i expected: beth ditto screaming her tits off, spitting on the stage, starting out in 4-inch silver heels and a dress and stockings and being nearly naked by the time the show ended. dripping sweat. if it'd been a shitty week (it had), last night's show turned all that around.

so here's the thing. i know that you're all chomping at the bit since i wrote my last extremely long music-i've-been-listening-to-the-last-two-weeks post. this is all fine and good, i imagine you thinking, but what records has robert acquired recently!? well, dear readers, stop your guessing. so, at long last (and if a single one of you cares)...

Basement Jaxx: Crazy Itch Radio
ok, so the last basement jaxx album, kish kash, was, in my opinion, a masterpiece in electronic music. it blended punk and dance and was organic and made you need to move. it had cameos by siouxie sioux and me'shell ndegeocello. it still blows my mind, three years later. this new cd...hmm. it just seems a little sloppier. it seems like the jaxx lost focus: the beats are still there; the sassy black girl lead singer is still there. but it's a disparate collection of weird, latin/south asian rhythms and songs that are too long and don't really go anywhere. good gym music? yes. pushing the envelope of electronic music and what it can mean? ah, no.

John Mayer: Continuumi just got this record yesterday from stefanie, my coworker, but it's already impressed me. i don't share my love for john mayer with many people, much like i keep my love for (two songs by) dave matthews band hidden. sure, it's a little adult contemporary. it's a little breathy and a little bit like bb king on downers. but, hey. the songwriting's earnest; he picks up a lot of how it feels to be a (late) mid-20-something. and his guitar solos are good. thumbs up.

Justin Timberlake: FutureSex/LoveSoundok, so i'm not exactly sure that i have any business reviewing this record, because i've never made it through the whole thing. the first few songs, most notably "futuresex/lovesound" and "my love" are pretty great. i don't agree with some lame p.r. people who try to claim that this is "electroclash," mainly because it's nothing but familiar timbaland beats with some extra synthasizers. the only downside to the first few tracks are timbaland's insistence on actually being in every track he produces. i don't need him to tell me to "take it to the bridge" or "take it to the chorus" every time the bridge or chorus comes up. shut the fuck up, timba. it'd be a better song without you. now please don't find me and cap my ass. the rest of the album, i'm sad to say, i've never heard, because he places two 7-minute-long songs back to back in the middle of the cd and i turn it off halfway through the first one. my jt saturation threshold is very low.

Liz Phair: Whip-Smartnow, i know what you're saying, readers. um, robert, this cd is about twelve years old. yes, readers, i know that. but i was busy listening to boyz 2 men when this cd came out the first time, so i didn't have time to get into it. and then i got distracted by her last two terrible cd's. but this cd is basically what exile in guyville, one of the best indie cd's of the 90s, could have been with a lot of money for production. all of the searing riffs are there; all of the bratty attitude of girliesound tapes and exile. but with really high production value. besides, the lines "Your kisses are as wicked as an F-16/And you fuck like a volcano/and you're everything to me" are worth the price of the cd.

My Brightest Diamond: Bring Me the Workhorse
imagine that pj harvey listened to a lot of edith piaf. imagine that patti smith lived in the weimar republic. put them both through a heady liberal arts education, where they not only study classical singing but also read a lot of 20th century american lit. now throw in a clean, loud electric guitar and a string quartet. there. it's shara worden, aka my brightest diamond. the cd's dark, moody, perfect for early fall and early sunsets. do you know that feeling in about the first week in october, when it's still warm during the day but when the sun starts to go down your arm gets goosepimples and the air is clear and crisp and you can feel the coldness in your nostrils? it's about the time that you see all of those creepy patches of fog at night in the cornfields in indiana. that's when to listen to this cd. my favorite lyric?
So I left her alone & I went on my way
& I was dreaming of Paris & Pierre Boulez
But she called to me with a beat of her wing
She called to me & said free me
yeah, it's good.


two words, people:



(thanks, george.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

today's gossip

it's a big week, dear readers, and i'm exhausted. not to mention a lil' broke. don't worry about me, though, i'll eat just fine. hot dogs and ramen are cheap, right? and i have protein shake so that i don't lose weight. yeah, i'll be good. hot dogs, ramen, and protein shake. it'll be just like when i was 21 and spent that summer here with scott. only i'll do less drugs. and by drugs i mean tylenol. yes, that's the ticket. tylenol.

we had to go to out to dinner last night with the visiting bigwigs at this place that i would've never chosen to go on my own. mainly because the cheapest thing on the menu was what i ordered: a cobb salad that cost $23. that's right, $23. it was one of those irritating midtown restaurants that cater to businessmen on expense accounts and idiot tourists who don't know any better. all the people i was there with ended up ordering $50 pieces of fish. a la carte. i'm sorry, and it may just be because i'm southern, but i feel like for fifty bucks you should get an entree, a side, a salad, and some bread. not some piece of overdone fish sitting in the middle of a huge plate with "aioli" drizzled over it. we weren't on expense accounts, mind you--this was "dutch." did i end up spending $40 on a salad and coffee? yes, i did. is $40 the entire sum that i allow myself to spend in an entire weekend? yes, it is.

ramen noodles, hot dogs, protein shakes.

in better news, i'm going with amanda, scott, caryn (who, ahem, writes for MTV news), and paul to see THE GOSSIP at irving plaza tonight. now, i've written about this band just a couple of times before. because they're pretty incredible. hannah, their drummer, is killer. beth, the lead singer, blows her tits off like no one i've heard in her generation. and she's this big, fat lesbian who throws herself around the stage with more soul than sunday morning in black church. scott made me promise that we wouldn't be in the mosh pit because he's never been to a rock show before. he's been to madonna, sure. but this is kind of a different situation.

i just chuckled and told him what i've said for the last couple of years: my mosh pit days are over. now i get to venues and head straight for the balcony seats and watch all those crazy kids bumping into each other.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

that's trashy

well, dear readers, it's a day for an afternoon post because we're having bigwigs from the NIH inspect our study site today. i thought that just maybe it'd be better if i looked like i was doing actual "work" instead of "blogging" (please note the unnecessary air quotes. it's my new thing.). i think, however, that they're in the conference room eating their lunches. and so i've snuck onto blogger.com. see how dedicated i am? yep, i'm willing to risk my job for you people. okay, so maybe not. if my job was like, "you have to stop blogging or you'll be fired," i'd be like, "ok." because i talk a good game but i'm actually a pussy.

speaking of horrible things happening at work, i have to share a story that happened to amanda's boyfriend yesterday. none of this is fabricated or exaggerated. lemme just say that. and, for those of you whose stomachs weren't strong enough for the cockroach story, you might wanna go here.

apparently, amanda's boyfriend (who will remain nameless but whose name starts with an e and rhymes with schmeddie), who's the facilities manager at this big lawfirm (as a day job, of course, because he's a writer.) gave orders to throw out a bunch of paperwork that he thought was trash. and apparently this paperwork wasn't trash; it was sensitive documents that shouldn't have been thrown away.

did he have to go to the trashcan to fish out the papers?


did he have to go down to the trash compacting room in the building to fish out the papers?


did he have to go home to astoria, where amanda met him to buy coveralls and boots and a mask, and then go back into lower manhattan at 8:30pm, to wait on the garbage truck's arrival and then follow it into new jersey, where it would dump the trash off at a landfill, and then climb into that landfill and see if he could salvage any papers he could find?

yes, he did.

now, dear readers, i thought about it. and i don't know if i've ever heard of something so horrible happening to someone i know, short of them having someone in their lives die. next to death, this is about the worst. that guy i knew who went to prison for statutory rape...that's pretty bad, too. but this: sifting through a landfill in new jersey, a landfill that looks like this......yeah, i think that's the worst thing i've ever heard happening to another human being. and i know him.

Monday, September 11, 2006

the long ride

i feel like i should write something about it being the 5th anniversary of what the newsmedia immediately named "9/11." it's 9/11 in new york and i think that it's weighing on everyone's minds more than they're outwardly willing to admit.

don't tell anyone this, but i was secretly afraid that another attack would happen this morning. i got out of bed right when my alarm went off so that i could be ensconced at mt. sinai before 9 o'clock. i didn't want to be in the queensboro tunnel, the tunnel that a doctor here never fails to remind me "freaks him out every time he goes through it," when the fifth anniversary of the world train center falling down happened. i wanted to be at my desk, just in case.

this plan was foiled, however, when my train stopped on the tracks between my house and queensboro plaza. for thirty minutes. stopped. as we all stood there, having no idea what was going on, all of us repeatedly glancing at our watches as we became late for work, i bonded with a girl, my age but much more nicely-dressed. when we finally pulled into queensboro plaza, the crowd outside the train was four people deep. "why don't we move to the center," i told her. "i think that this is going to get really ugly."

"you're right," she said. "i just wish that they'd tell us what's going on when the train stops like that," she said, as our train once again ground to a halt in the middle of queensboro tunnel. the doctor would not have been pleased. "i mean," she went on, "we all know what day it is. just come on the loudspeaker to say that there's a train in front of us. you know, just to let us know that it's alright."

8:46 passed, and then so did 9:03. and the train started moving again and the girl and i got off at 59th street and we went up the stairs, without saying anything else to each other. and it's five years later, five years after i watched the news from my new house in greencastle and then tried to call scott because he lived here and worked close to downtown. and now i'm a new yorker who, like all of the rest, tries to pretend like this 5-year anniversary didn't make him nervous.

Friday, September 08, 2006

the hunt's over.

in a move that's a big deal to me but probably won't be a big deal to anyone else who reads this blog or, really, even to anyone who knows me, i deleted my manhunt.net account this morning. that's right, i emailed manhunt.net from work to tell them to get rid of my account. to delete the account, my pictures, my "snappy" headline. all of it.

granted, i made a few friends on manhunt. and i did a lot more chatting with people than i did hooking up. but:
  1. it's an incredible waste of time. i didn't stop watching as much television so that i could sit on my ass in my room chatting with strangers who are probably fat while staring at a blue screen, "messages waiting" flickering in the corner. i stopped watching television so much so that i could have time to figure things out; to be creative; to just be.
  2. it leads to nothing but trouble. it's easy to say that you're going to stop hooking up online. until you log on and you start to have all of these people propositioning you, some of whom are actually very hot. then your resolve falters. i'd log on, just to kind of look around and see who was on--not that i even knew any of these people in real life--and suddenly conversations would start, plans would change.
  3. i'm sick of meeting and/or sleeping with people who don't give a shit about me. not that i gave a shit about them. i'd started to feel a little bit of disdain for people who would proposition me online, even more for people i'd meet. being adversaries with sex partners? yeah, there's something wrong with that.
  4. i've recently discovered that sex with a random hookup is actually worse than just getting off by myself. and it's a lot bigger pain in the ass.
ok, so there are four good reasons to cancel my manhunt.net membership. all of those reasons had already started to weigh on my mind a while ago. i decided a few weeks ago to cancel the membership, before i even met this guy that i'm pretty into. ok, so very into. and even though we haven't ever talked about being monogamous, and, since we live in new york, i assume that he's sleeping with other people, that doesn't mean that i have to keep wasting my time on manhunt. so, yeah. it's over. done.

don't look for my profile. it's not there.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

simply recipes

since i'm not only a big ol' homo, i'm a big ol' homo who really loves to cook, one of the RSS feeds on my google homepage is simply recipes, a wonderful recipe blog. seriously some good shit goes across the pages of this woman's blog. and you can imagine my delight when she posted the following picture of italian sausage, like none of us know what it looks like:

yes, friends, that italian sausage is packin' a true 8 and a half inches. if only i could say the same of all those queens online...


though i generally consider the new york times a stodgy affair--who really wants to read about two extremely wealthy 30-somethings tying the knot in east hampton?--sometimes they really try to reach out to their younger audience. yes, bitches, i am still considered their younger audience. they've been doing quite a few stories on gay life lately, too. it makes sense, when you consider that new york city is roughly 65% homosexual. the rest are straight (10%) and puerto rican (25%).

anyway, the times just wrote a story on online ettiquette--specifically, when it's time to change your status from "single" to "in a relationship" or "it's complicated" on myspace. it's really scary that we all think about these things, but let's be honest. we do. when you're starting to date someone it's inevitable to look at their myspace profile, where it still says "single," and think, hmm, i wonder when or if he's going to change that. and then, mostly because these online sites say that we have to name whatever's going on, you have The Talk. so you're in a relationship, which means your myspace page has to reflect that.

something they don't address in the article is something that our little 44reception is guilty of: checking their match.com profile to see when they've logged in. what!? he's still looking for dates!? i can't really point fingers, however, since i'm guilty of doing the same thing on a website much more clandestine than match.com. let's just say it rhymes with schmanhunt.com. and it never leads to any good.

all of the things i'm saying here are said better in this article. go read it fast before the times tries to make you pay for it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

robyn, amber, deborah

i've been spending the first part of my mornings lately in the office next door, chatting with two of my coworkers. we work in the same office, it's just that the offices are separated by a wall. so it's...well, it's two different offices. but part of the same office. fuck it, work semantics are boring.

the point is, i was chatting with my two coworkers and mentioned to them how much i hate gay dance music. in truth, i hate any dance music, but pretty much all dance music is gay dance music, right? unless, of course, it's like jamaican "dance hall" music and it talks about burning faggots. then it's another animal entirely. anyway, when i told my coworker how much i hated dance music, she said, disbelievingly, "why!?" as if dance music had been sent to us from some higher power. as if shaking our groove things (remind me never to say that again. ever.) to a thumping beat would lead us all to nirvana. now i know that a few of you out there, especially certain members of the cabinet, will disagree with me when i say this, but: dance music is repetitive and boring. there, the i've said it.

that being said, i've spent the last two days making a gay dance remix of scott's song "most of me." he's a musical theater writer who has a penchant for, let's say, sometimes-corny ballads. not that these ballads are at all bad; he just knows what an audience wants to hear. and every show needs some kind of uplifting ballad number. every year at the end of pier dance they play one of these songs remixed into a gay dance number. the lyrics always involve loving ourselves, loving each other, working together in harmony, and pride. at the end of pier dance this year, scott and i decided that we were going to have our own gay dance song, absurd enough to be played during the fireworks at pier dance.

so i've spent the last two nights after dinner (using all of this time i discovered when i turned off the television and stopped watching programs i didn't care about) taking this vocal track of our friend shanna singing and making it a gay dance song. and, if i must say so myself, it's definitely pier-worthy.

so look out paul oakenfield! er, um, oakenfold? whatever. look out, i'm comin' for your job.

if you feel like battling rapidshare, you can download the world's hottest new dance track here.