May 29, 2010

Today On Bilerico: Lubricants and HIV

Two preliminary studies were presented this past weekend that indicate some lubricants may increase the risk of HIV infection. Two lubes were labeled "problematic" and two were recommended as safest. Read about it here.

Polka Boy

It’s race weekend, and the city is packed with hundreds of thousands of visitors. The traffic is nuts and everyone wants to rev their engines. It’s time to party.

Abe was too tired, so my neighbor and party bud Dee joined me Friday night downtown. She brought a co-worker along and we cruised with the top down in the warm night air. As is my custom—honest!—I got rock star parking smack in front of the entrance to the club. Life is good.

Polka Boy was playing at the Rathskellar Biergarten, which was built over a hundred years ago and modeled after German clubs of the time. We arrived early enough to barely catch a seat at one of the picnic tables spread in front of the bandshell on the outdoor patio. Six men well into their cups allowed us to sit with them. They made awkward attempts at conversation, but they were friendly enough. They invited us to join them at a “titty bar” later. Somehow we found the fortitude to decline.

But then the band began to play. Polka Boy is a fourteen-man polka band, complete with tuba, three accordions and lots more brass (two of the three meanings apply here). This band is awesome. They played polkas, of course: Polish, Italian, and German. They may have slid in something Russian; we weren’t sure. But they took those accordions into new realms and played Tom Jones, Irish drinking songs, zydeco, Johnny Cash, rock and roll, Franki Valli, and the national anthem. Yes. And all of it was just great. The crowd was singing along with every song.

We left early, but the last song before their break was funk from the Average White Band. While you play this video, picture three accordions backing it up, swaying and playing and rocking out. That, my friends, is Polka Boy. They’ll be back July 9.

May 16, 2010

Furniture Takedown

Ben was eleven when he earned his black belt in Tae Kwan Do. I think he was ten and still a red belt when we had a friend come over to help us with handyman tasks. (Actually, we had won four hours of his very talented time in a Christmas gift exchange. Is that great or what?)

Our friend “Don” is a whiz with tools and we were thrilled with our prize. Don fixed the kitchen light, repaired a broken drawer, and came into the living room to remove the tambour doors from our entertainment unit.

We have a five-piece entertainment unit, a very nice set from my days of working for a furniture chain. The center unit isn’t wide enough for large TVs, and those doors took another inch of width. Back in those days, flatscreen TVs were only for the wealthy. But I could afford a really nice 32” CRT TV to replace our dead one. The problem was that this new Sony would fit only if we removed the tambour doors on the unit. We never used those sliding doors anyway, so that was okay with us. But how to get them out?

The way the unit was built, the only way to remove those doors would be to break them and pull them out of the track groove in which they sat. Don’s plan was to use his jigsaw to cut them in half horizontally and lift them out.

We were discussing the game plan when Ben wandered in to listen. He had an idea.

“Mom Mom Mom! You want to break the doors, right?”


“You don’t care what happens to the doors, right?”


“I could kick the doors and break them.”


“Yeah!” Ben demonstrated by turning sideways and placing his heel against the middle of the tambour door. “See? One or two kicks and it will give way.”

“Wait a minute. There are glass doors above this space and flanking on both sides. Those doors could shatter if you don’t hit it just right.”

Ben spent a few minutes explaining how, with his well-placed foot, this would not happen. Don was just about speechless.

“You’re actually considering this?” he asked incredulously.

“If he does it just right, he could do it without breaking the glass.”

“You’ve got more guts than I have.”

I asked Ben to demonstrate his placement once again. I finally agreed, but he was to wear something to protect his foot from splintered wood.

He returned with a snow boot on his right foot. We stood back while Ben took his stance, practiced once very slowly, and then POW POW CHOP CHOP CHOP—two kicks and three punches with his fists—and those doors were sufficiently broken to pry out of their tracks with ease. The unit never moved and the glass doors didn't even rattle.

Not bad.

Don cleaned up the doors while shaking his head. Ben grinned and went back to playing computer games.

That night I told Sheba and her friends how the new TV came to be in its rightful place.

“I’d put Ben up against any piece of furniture in the house. I feel quite safe.”

“I dunno. I’ve got a sofa I think can take him,” quipped a teenager.

I related this tale to a number of my friends over the next week. One mom put it in a way I like to remember.

“You let him kick in your entertainment center? YOU are the World’s. Best. Mom.”

May 11, 2010

Overheard: The Sound Of One Boy Sinking

Ben is on the phone with his girlfriend of two years. He speaks calmly.

Ben: “You’re telling me about your shopping day. How do you expect me to react?”

The boy has a lot to learn.

May 7, 2010

Everyday Normal Guy

Courtesy of my daughter, this is the only rap song I've actually liked. The language is totally not safe for work, but it's hilarious.

Money quote: "My parents are really nice people, mothaf**ka!”

May 6, 2010

The Mind In Neutral

I was talking with “Father Tony” Adams the other day about his recent South Florida Gay News interview with Mark King, owner/operator of the blog "My Fabulous Disease.” The disease so described is HIV, for which Mark tested positive in 1985. (Check out Mark’s website, which is filled with information and links on HIV/AIDS with an unusual take: humor and gratitude. He pulls it off, too, with intelligent and hilarious commentary. It is refreshingly honest.)

Anyway. Tony repeated something very interesting from his interview with Mark that struck me and stayed in my head. Mark was talking about his years doing drugs and said, “My mind in a neutral state wants drugs.”

The mind in neutral: this is when there is nothing pulling on you but yourself, no outside influences until you pursue them. Where does it go? My mind today is in a totally different state than even a couple of years ago, but left to my own devices—as is often the case, much to my delight—I want to read. I want to know more. There isn’t enough time in the day when I’m reading.

The desire to know more sounds so, I don’t know, noble, doesn’t it? But it can create problems if you can’t get out of neutral. I don’t hear anyone or anything when I’m reading; it’s angered plenty of people who thought I was ignoring them. And my reading material vacillates from primarily nonfiction—science and religion—to trashy nonsense—no, I’m not telling. My mind in neutral can successfully keep me from interacting with my environment with astonishing ease, leaving my family and friends a distant second if I’m not vigilant.

Is the mind in neutral always a negative drive? I’m not certain. Sometimes I’ll put down the books and computer and go looking for a new experience, like the parks I discovered in my city last year. (But that was due to fellow bloggers’ writing, so I guess I’m back to square one.)

What about you? No one’s around, you have no immediate needs to meet, your mind goes into neutral. What do you do?

Image from somewhere on

Update: Look what I found.

May 1, 2010

Two Years Old

"Strelitzia" is two years old today. Two years since I took the hint that my comments were bigger than the posts on which I felt I must share my wisdom. I can't believe it's been only two years; it feels like forever, since so much has happened in the interim.

What's next? Who knows. I'm so glad for your company. Have a cupcake but watch the crumbs.