Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Might Post about The Facebook Too Much

I'm pretty sure everyone gets anxious. It's just a fact of life. But because of the glut of social media that connects us these days, I get anxious about some really stupid things. The stupidest of which is birthdays.

And it's all thanks to you, facebook.

It used to be that I had a few very good friends whose birthdays I was expected to remember. And my family members' birthdays, of course. But even that usually involved writing things on a calendar as a reminder. And that made it all the more special when someone with whom I wasn't particularly close remembered to call me on my birthday (Thanks, Dan Schwartz!) or vice versa.

But now we have facebook. And every day, at least two people pop up on the side of my profile, reminding me that their very special day is today and if I were really their friend, I'd be acknowledging it. Sometimes it's as many as 6 or 7 people. And sometimes I just forget to check that little side bar, so I won't know to send a happy birthday wall post. Or I'll be reminded that a dear friend has a birthday because everyone and their mother (often literally, these days) has shown up on my newsfeed wishing them a happy birthday, but then I don't want to seem like I only jumped on the happy birthday bandwagon because everybody else reminded me, so I'll wait to post MY happy birthday wish later, as though I'm only just now getting on facebook for the first time that day and OF COURSE I knew it was your birthday but then sometimes I forget to go back and then it's the next day and everyone else has shown me up and now it's NEW people's birthdays but what if I wish them a happy birthday and it shows up on your newsfeed and you get offended that I wished someone else a happy birthday today but didn'twishyouahappybirthdayyesterdayandthen ALL MY FRIENDSHIPS AS I KNOW THEM WOULD IMPLODE.

While taking the FacebookBus to Crazytown, I passed this cozy little cul-de-sac!

So I've just stopped wishing people happy birthday on facebook. I'm sure I'll pick it back up again when I realize that my fears are TOTALLY INSANE.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I wrote this post three times and deleted all three drafts.

Each one was radically different than the others, despite trying to say the same thing each time. Each time I looked at it and said to myself "wow, this is straying really far from my original point."

Because my point, the only point I want to make, is that I used to believe in John McCain and now I don't. Up until this point I've ignored or excused his erratic behavior, but I've hit my limit of what I can tolerate. He's not a good man, he's not a good public servant, and he's not the person I thought he was.

The breaking point was, of course, McCain's continued filibuster of the move to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Because when you see on a hiring line that the government enforces a policy of non-discrimination regardless of race, gender, ethnic origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, physical disability, or age, they're holding that standard to everybody but themselves. You can't serve in the military and be openly gay. I had really hoped McCain was above this. It turns out he is far below.

Looking back on it, I've probably been fooled by the man's persona for a long time. Like many, I believed he took a strong stance against the things he believed to be morally wrong without caring about the consequences to his career. After all, he sponsored McCain-Feingold, which went against the conservative grain and tried to reform campaign finance. He's come out time and again stating that he believes in climate change and our need to combat it. He voted against the Bush tax cuts which squandered the Clinton-era surplus long before the war ever started. I really thought we had a guy here we could count on. I thought, given the chance, this guy would honestly change things.

If I had been paying better attention, I probably would have realized that he was more than a little duplicitous when he stuck so strongly by President Bush's side despite the fact that during the 2000 primaries, Bush was totally a dick.

I mean, seriously.

I might have thought more about it when Bush decided in 2006 that while signing McCain's bill on torture, he'd decide personally what did and didn't constitute torture and McCain didn't raise a word of protest. It might have stuck out a little more when he voted against a bill which would ban same-sex marriages in 2005, and then had on his website in 2008 that he believed marriage was only between a man and a woman and would appoint judges who felt the same if elected. If I hadn't been so taken with the idea that this guy was a reformer, a real, honest-to-God bi-partisan centrist who was concerned with doing what's right instead of what's easy or good for his career, I might have found it more than a little strange when he marched down the streets in Iraq and proclaimed them "safe," neglecting to mention that he was with an escort of over 100 U.S. soldiers at the time.

But it's hard. This man was my hero.

I don't have a lot of male role models in my life. Up until I was 16, if I needed guidance on what kind of man I wanted to grow up to be, I had to look either to my Uncle or Spider-Man. In 1999, the only thing I knew about politics was that Clinton was leaving office after giving America a lot of money and new definitions for "sex" and "is." Then John McCain shows up and wants to be President, and it seems to me for all the right reasons. Bush to me had the charisma of a goal post, which made him roughly twice as charismatic as Al Gore. I didn't care about them - I wanted this guy. He was passionate, driven; he really wanted to speak to my generation and make sure America, and its government, kept working for us.

In 2004, John McCain said this during an interview with MTV regarding Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

"There's many of us who are not comfortable with this issue, and I'm one of them. Primarily because I hate to see legislation and government involved in people's lives. ... But society is changing. We now have a don't-ask-don't-tell policy in the military. When I first came into the military, that would never have been possible. Society is evolving. Whether it's evolving for better or for worse, I'll let someone else make that judgment."

This gave me hope. Because when you're a public official, you don't have to like a policy - in fact, I'd say it's not part of your job to agree with everything sent your way. You just have to assess if it is what the people want. Vocal opponents of Don't Ask, Don't Tell would probably jump on McCain for not condemning the policy outright with this statement, but you know what? He shouldn't have to. What he's saying here is regardless of how he feels, society is changing and, whether he thinks it's right or wrong, it's his job to serve the American people, and the majority of Americans are against the policy.

So even as an old man, presumably set in his ways, he was not going to use his position to exert his wishes over those of the American people.

And now he filibusters the vote to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He filibusters not because he's trying to support the troops, since there are obviously tens of thousands of armed servicemen and women he's distinctly not supporting. Not because he thinks it's the will of the American people, they've clearly spoken out in favor of repeal. He's doing it because his Senate seat is up for grabs and he wants to make sure he earns the Republican nomination, so he's sticking up hard for the party line.

In 2008, when John McCain had a chance at becoming the President, I stood behind him. I believed in him, and whenever anyone pointed out his dramatic shift in tone, I brushed it off. "He's just pandering to the conservative base so that he'll get elected," I would tell them. "Once he gets into office he'll go back to his old self." Even though he lost, largely, in my mind, due to his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate, his concession speech seemed to confirm everything I thought. Obama won, he lost, now it was his job to help the President any way he could, because that was the will of the people.

I was wrong.

The reason I deleted my other drafts is that I spent so much time trying to dig up all the good McCain had done that I meandered completely away from the point. I did this because I wanted to balance what I was saying with examples of how he was a great guy before. But his filibuster finally makes me wonder if that was ever really the case.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell violates the first and fifth amendments of our Constitution. And remember, this is a step forward from pre-Clinton years; Reagan described homosexuality and military service as "incompatible." Why would anyone stand up in support of violating an American's rights, especially a member of our military? Why would anyone stand up to prevent such a violation from being repealed? And asking those questions inevitably leads me to more questions.

Why would McCain suddenly support a fence along the border, blaming illegal immigrants for home invasions and murders? This completely reverses years of opposition to rhetoric which blames immigrants for our problems.

Why would McCain not make a comprehensive statement on his plans to protect Social Security during his 2008 campaign, when he did during 2000?

Why would McCain support an anti-abortion agenda, and then vote No on a bill which would have given $100 million to reduce teen pregnancies through education and contraceptives in 2005?

Why would McCain attack a plan to cut Medicare and Medicaid spending by $491 billion in 2009 when his own 2008 campaign ran on a platform which would have cut over $1.3 trillion?

Why would he pledge to vote "No" on Obama's stimulus plan unless the tax cuts from the Bush era were made permanent - the same cuts he voted against in 2000?

Why would McCain emphasize so strongly his desire to work with the President, support the President, and help make America stronger with the President, healing the red/blue divide in this country, only to become his most vocal critic and opponent?

Because . . .

Because he's not a hero.

He's not an arbiter of change.

He's just a politician, doing what politicians do. Trying to appeal to his base of solid voters to make sure he keeps his job for a few more years. And now that is actively hurting the troops he's claimed to support so actively all this time.

And I have to ask myself, in the midst of all this, what if it was unpopular amongst McCain's base to be Jewish? What if they demanded Jews not be allowed to serve openly in the military? Would McCain stand in front of Congress and say that it's for the good of the troops that no one who's Jewish be allowed to observe while in the armed forces? If that was the party line being taken, would I watch John McCain on the Senate floor filibustering an attempt to enforce the first amendment?

Like he's doing right now?

And in answer, yeah, I probably would, because there's no reason to think McCain would be any different in anti-Semitic America than he is in homophobic America.

I thank John McCain for his years of service to this country during Vietnam. That is where my gratitude for his work ends. Because now I can't tell if all the work he did in the Senate was legitimately for the good of this nation or just the good of himself. Shame on you, McCain, for failing to support our troops in favor of supporting yourself. Shame on you, McCain, for choosing to oppose the rights of Americans because your Senate race was a little tougher than usual this year. Shame on you, John McCain, for costing me my role model.

I wanted to be just like John McCain. I wanted to stand in front of Congress and demand we do the right thing. I wanted to be this dynamic persona who reached across party lines when he needed to because as much as he believed in his own convictions, he believed in helping America more. I wanted to be the one who changed things, who made a difference, who never backed down from what was right even if being pushed down upon by a sea of wrong.

So thank you, John McCain. Because I've decided I still will be. I'll be everything you pretended to be, everything you are not.

And one day in the future, when some young boy or girl looks to our government for a hero, I will not let them down.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Makes Up For It, I Think

I am exhausted, and sick, and went home early from work today. My brain is a sloppy bowl of mush that is beginning to harden around the edges from being left out too long, and thus I have no words for you this week, our darling readers.  I do, however, have a picture for you.  And you will thank me. Because WTF.

picture courtesy of 

Father: Honey, the operation was a success! You have a brand new working leg! Unfortunately, it's still attached to me, and they had to put your right foot on your left leg. And someone else's foot is attached to our shared leg. And my other leg is now a coat.  But we'll do just fine!
Daughter: Hooray! Let's get some ice cream!
Father: If only we could figure out a way to get off this table...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Virgin Mobile FreeFest

I went to Virgin Fest of Freeness and Mobility on Saturday and had a pretty good time.

In my many years of going to concerts, festivals have been a regular occurrence. In the beginning it was HFStivals and Tibetan Freedom Concerts and now it's Pitchfork and Virgin Fest. The situation is always less than ideal. The food is overpriced and undercooked. The bathrooms take a turn for the worse before the sun has even gone down, and getting there and back can be a hassle. But Saturday's show was relatively pain-free. Parking and escape was easy, the food was good, and it was easy enough to get from one stage to another.

Now I must note. I'm one of those people (or suckers, capitalists, realists, choose your term of preference) who paid for a VIP ticket. So my experience was perhaps a little better than others but really it mainly meant I got a free t-shirt and a better view during some of the bands earlier in the day, and for Pavement and LCD Soundsystem I was able to get a very good seat.

The bands were largely excellent. I didn't attend specifically to see Jimmy Eat World or Joan Jett, but both put on very solid sets. And Neon Indian were pretty good, although they (or he) need to work on their (or his) set flow, as the energy came and went. There were a few mysteries which remain unsolved - why do people love Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Thievery Corporation? I'd like to think I can come at some music from a more objective sense and see why people enjoy it (for example - Jimmy Eat World are loud and enthusiastic and rather emotional and I can see the appeal) but I can't for the life of me figure out why Edward Sharpe can now sell out 930 Club in the blink of an eye. It's just tired hippie shit. Polyphonic Spree do it a hundred times better.

The heavy hitters that I saw all delivered. Chromeo are on top of their game. For a duo that relies heavily on samples they have mastered live performance. They were tight and funny and engaging and the new material sounds just as good as their first two albums. Pavement were still Pavement. Flubbing an intro here or there, but still extremely crowd pleasing. I have a complicated relationship with Pavement and chose to forgo seeing them in NYC this week, but hearing "Range Life" and "Summer Babe" were real highlights.

That leaves us with our headliner - LCD Soundsystem. I saw them tour with MIA a number of years back when both has just released their first album. Both acts were still working things out, but based on current albums alone, it was obvious I was going to see LCD rather than MIA. And I was rewarded with one of the best sets I've ever seen. Right from the beginning, when "Dance Yrself Clean" really kicked in it was obvious that they were on a level that very very few bands are on right now. Over 90 minutes the band hit a number of highs. "You Wanted A Hit" and "Drunk Girls" were excellent and old classics "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" and "Losing My Edge" still sounded fresh. It was hard to say beforehand if they were the proper headlines, but by the end there wasn't a hint of a doubt. The entire crowd were ecstatic throughout the set.

Was it worth the VIP price? That's hard to say, and it might have been nice to just have had a free ticket. Plus there could have been more port-o-potties and a bit more information beforehand for the VIP tickets, and perhaps even something to cover the dirt and dust in front of the dance forest stage, but those are minor quibbles. Virgin Free Fest was an excellent way to spend a Saturday.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Very Sexy Round Table

These Gentlemen are happy to announce the return of a perennial favorite feature - The Round Table! Round Tables won't necessarily be posted on the site with the regularity of our scheduled posts, as we'll be writing them as inspiration for a question strikes, but anytime we do have a Round Table to share, we'll be doing so on a Saturday. Just think of it as an added Gentlemanly bonus to spice up your weekend.

And speaking of a little spice - we'll be easing our way back into the Round Table by unearthing a question to which many of our original members responded back in the spring that got lost in the shuffle of our evolving site.

It being spring, love was in the air, and sex was on our minds. (Well... it was on my mind at least.) So in the spirit of keeping things classy in the bedroom, I posed the following question to These Gentlemen: What is your ideal sex playlist?

Find their alluring (and varied!) responses below:


"Entrance of the Gladiators" - by Julius Fučík. If that song is not immediately available, "Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30" - by Richard Strauss.

Matt Lindeboom

Okay, so I like to transform sex into a spectacle of light, sound, and orgasmic revelations; which is why I bought a dual light and smoke machine and placed it directly at the foot of my bed. These sexual events, as I call them, have been criticized by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "gaudy examples of how the act of making love has degenerated into the arena of baroque Enya light shows that one sees all too often after a night at the bar." The blood-red satin drapes, I believe, are what the reviewer was referring to when she said "baroque." So I've told you about the light and spectacle, how about the sound? Music must be carefully coordinated to garner a certain effect, much like the soundtrack to a movie.
  1. It’s important not to come on too strongly or predictably -- both are equally devastating to any aural quality your sex event may take on. Chuck the Marvin Gay. Scuttle that Isaac Hayes and watch to make sure it sinks to the bottom of your fish tank. I suggest starting with Robin Thicke’s “Sex Therapy.” Just subtle enough to get things started.
  2. After the initial mood is set, push the play button on “Your Sex is on Fire,” by Kings of Leon just to let your partner know that you appreciate his or her particular brand of sex. (N.B. I would not recommend this selection of either you or your partner have an STD.)
  3. Now that roller coaster is building, you will want to sprinkle in some rap to keep a beat to. This is especially smart for you guys and gals who have a hard time finding a rhythm. I’m partial to “Alphabet” by Blackilicious. But you should do you.
  4. By now the spinning lights and smoke that’s filled the room have left you completely disoriented; its time to slow it down and recompose yourself -- maybe plan your next killer move that you read about in Elle or Maxim. The sex-mix usually is playing “Oh Danny Boy,” by now. I'll just as soon not go into it.
  5. Let’s skip to the climax. Once the peak of ecstasy is inevitable, let the theme to “Jurassic Park” take you over the edge. Please -- someone, anyone -- tell me how John Williams wouldn’t make sex more epic than ever thought humanly possible?
  6. Finally, when you both are good and collapsed and talking about Paris in the winter, discreetly switch to the last song in the sex-mix: Queen’s “We are the Champions.” Let fly your barbaric yawp, and sink into whatever bed good, American electric rock has made for you.

Max Nova

As unlikely as it sounds, my past experiences have been music-free and I wouldn't see a change in that in the future. I think having something like Barry White playing at the time would just induce a wave of giggling.


Ask Adam- he controls the music.

Maybe The National?


To be super honest, I don't prefer to have music going. Probably just cause I'm ADD and want no distractions. And if the CD or playlist runs out suddenly it's awkward. And it's equally wierd (in my opinion at least) to either go along with, or against, the rhythm.

That said if there are people around music is good for privacy. Not only because it isolates you in a sound-pocket, but also because it sends a clear message of "we're trying to be private and discreet." In which cases I like something with a female vocalist, that's kind of dark, keeps a pretty steady beat, early-90's-ish... My Bloody Valentine, Garbage, Portishead. Which suggests I'm having some kinda like seriously goth-y sex, but what can I say, the traditional Led Zeppelin just doesn't do it.

Anything in 5/4 time, not that it's kinky or anything.

David Pratt

I don't really listen to music that often when having sex. I can't honestly say I have any kind of preference one way or the other. I'm sure there is plenty of music that would take me OUT of the mood, but I 'm hard-pressed to think of any that puts me IN it.

So instead, I'll just submit this playlist of what I feel is acceptable doing it-time music.

1) "Face Down, Ass Up" by 2 Live Crew
2) "Smack My Bitch Up" by Prodigy
3) "Hate Fuck" by Mount Sims
4) "Violent Pornography" by System of a Down
5) "Buch dich" by Rammstein6) "Put It In Your Mouth" by Akinyele
7) "Fuckin' You Tonight" by The Notorious B.I.G.
8) "Still Getting my Dick Sucked" by DJ Paul
"I'd Like to Fuck the Shit Out of You" by David Allen Coe
Anything by R. Kelly.

Of course, it's strictly a matter of opinion.


Jon Stewart answers for me, between 1:20 and 2:30.

Adam Z. Winer

Apparently I've been designated to answer this question?... so I will.. but it's going to be disappointing because I don't really have "mood" music. I think it generally needs to be something with steady tempo, but also something that can be ignored. Usually play it safe - something reliable.

Some artists I've played: Sondre Lerche, the Beatles, Broken Social Scene, the Beatles (NOT Sgt Pepper), Spoon. I'd probably play some low-key hip hop or Red Hot Chilli Peppers if I knew what was good.

B(ootylicious) Graham

In my humble opinion there is no sexier, more sensual, more romantic music genre than R&B. However, my chosen life partner is not at all interested in what that genre has to offer, so when I listen to KC and JoJo or Usher or Luther Vandross or anyone else crooning in those smooth milk chocolate hug voices about their ladies, the ambiguous romantic fuzzies I get have nothing to do with him. And since it takes two to tango, so to speak, it just doesn't seem fair not to bring him into the equation.

As a friend told me when I asked her advice on answering this question, "you have more important things to worry about than changing CDs every 40 minutes.... music is like the
garnish on the dish, it isn't the main course."

And besides, I am myself, which means that something completely ridiculous would switch on my ipod and we would just laugh.

ali d

I very rarely plan my sexual encounters, and when I do, I'm much more focused on the impending dirty deed than I am setting any kind of romantic mood. (I am, in fact, a huge fan of silly, giggly sex. Because let's face it, sex? Kind of ridiculous.)

I did, however, once have the extremely convenient pleasure of dating a gentleman who lived in a not-so-big apartment with three other guys. When we wanted to have some modicum of privacy in his room, we'd throw some music on, and my band of choice quickly became the British electronic band Zero 7 - particularly their album When It Falls, although I do also really enjoy "In the Waiting Line" off Simple Things.

It's mellow. It's sensual. And most importantly, it's understated. The music has enough of a rhythm that you don't get thrown off your game, but it's not so overpowering that you feel like you need to be keeping time. The vocals glide around the room as an accompanying accessory to the prevailing carnal act, and your attention can slide in and out of the music as it's appropriate. My personal favorite tune is "Home," so if you're looking for something new to add to the bedroom (or wherever you so choose to have a romantic interlude), I'd highly recommend starting there.

So there you have it. We hope that we have offered you some new ideas when it comes to creating your own mood the next time you want to share an intimate moment with a special someone. But remember, above all else when it comes to matters of the flesh: A true Gentleman never kisses and tells.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Is A Jew Supporting the "Ground Zero Mosque" A Traitor?

Mr. Mark Williams,

In your article here and in your response to Mr. McMorris-Santoro quoted in his article here, you apparently decided that Jews who support the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" should be called Judenrat.

(For those unfamiliar and who didn't go and read the linked articles, before I go on, the Judenrat were the Jews living in the Nazi ghettos who snitched and reported on their fellow prisoners, and essentially sold out their neighbors to the Nazis. Also, I am myself a Jew, although my argument has nothing to do with that fact.)

Mr. Williams, this is an inaccurate comparison, because it makes one assumption:

It assumes that the Muslims building the "Ground Zero Mosque" are our enemy.

They are not.

(As it has repeatedly been pointed out, <LindaRichman> the "Ground Zero Mosque" is neither at Ground Zero, nor really a mosque... discuss amongst yourselves </LindaRichman>. The official name is Park51, since people raised a stink about calling it "Cordoba House.")

The problem we have, and have been having, on a large scale and for the past several years, is that we equate the radical Muslims with all Muslims. The radical Muslims - they are our enemy, they are anti-Semitic, and murderous, and all those other bad things. But first of all, they are hardly Muslims; the Koran preaches peace and goodwill just like the Christian Bible (and assuredly has some less-than-modern morals just like the Christian Bible). Islam is not vastly different from Christianity or Judaism in the grand scheme of things; it just has some different wallpaper. The differences between radical Muslims and moderate Muslims are greater than those between moderate Muslims and moderate Christians and Jews. If we could get beyond our prejudices - the natural reaction of "That's so foreign!" whenever we see Muslims with their strange, alien prayer methods and forms of dress and their typically differently-colored skin - we could see that.

We should not be shunning and spitting at the Muslims founding this Center. They are our friends. What we should be doing is embracing them, saying, "Hey, radical Muslims of the world! Look here! Here are the true Muslims, and we are proud to call them friends. You see, it is we - the moderate, peace-loving of the world - who are united against you, the hate-mongers and the opportunists."

This is not what we are doing, or at the very least, this is not the message we are sending out because the All-Muslims-Are-Bad folks scream the loudest. This is counter-productive. Radical Muslims and moderate Muslims are not a hair's-breadth apart. Suggesting they are barely distinguishable is like saying you or I are barely distinguishable from the Unabomber or the Oklahoma City bomber because we are all Americans. We are vastly different, we just happen to live within the same nation. And so with the Muslims - the moderate and radicals just happen to be within the same (metaphorical) nation, and it's one considerably vaster than America, for that matter. It does nobody any good to lump all those moderates in with those few extremists; all this achieves is driving the dispossessed and unhappy moderates into a state where they can swallowed up by the extremists.

We should want to hug close the vast, moderate mainstream of Islam, that wide swath that includes the likes of the liberal Iranians whose secular lifestyle is almost identical to the typical American middle-class one (remember the Twitter thing?) and, of course, the many good-citizen decent-folk Muslims living in America, who, again, would be indistinguishable from typical Americans except for some differences in skin color and cultural heritage.

There is no way to justify lumping all the Muslims together without resorting to racism and prejudice. And here is the important part: There is also no way to justify saying the Center should be scrapped because its in "bad taste" without implying that we are incapable of distinguishing honest, true Islam from radical, in-name-only Islam. This should be, as they say, a teaching moment. We should be teaching the world, each other, and ourselves that love of peace, community, education, communication and tolerance are better umbrellas under which to lump together disparate peoples than the name and minimal trappings of a vast religion.

In other words, this would be an excellent opportunity for we, Americans and Jews, to re-define our concept of Muslims - to perhaps even invent a contrasting pair of terms more specific and simple than the generic modifiers "moderate" and "radical" - such that we can talk about either group of Muslims without having to spout disclaimers all the time. Imagine if we referred to the extremist so-called Muslims who are more interested in power, oppression and control of the legacy of the Koran as "Jihadists." (This would not be accurate given the definition of the word within Islam, but it's evocative for Americans, at least, and I can't do any better at the moment.)

It was Jihadists who attacked the World Trade Center - not Muslims. Muslims, like any regular Christians or Jews, are merely interested in practicing their own religion and living their own life and being, you know, normal - they don't attack people. Jihadists attack people, and they did. Jihadists caused 9/11 - Muslims want to build a Center nearby. Wait, where's the problem there? It's Group A and Group B.

We have everything to gain from doing our best to separate and distinguish the totally fine, normal everyday Muslims from the out-there violent evil quote-"Muslims"-unquote. Our aim should be to extricate the Muslims from the complicated universe of ties that connect them to the Jihadists, not to treat them as tainted.

I am not a Judenrat because I support the foundation of Park51. You, Mr. Williams, are giving more comfort to the enemy than I, by doing everything you can to drive a wedge between peace-loving peoples. The nerve you have, trying to de-legitimize the opinions of your fellow Jews by calling them such a loaded word (which very nearly evokes Hitler and thus loses your argument by Internet Law anyways). And if you would read this (I'm sure you won't, but I have to assume you will given the nature of an open letter), I am sure you would call me naive - but you are naive, to believe it possible for a religion with X million adherents worldwide to be so monolithic that to support one (moderate) member of it to be equivalent to supporting the most distant and extremist member of it.

And since I'm on a roll, responses to a couple other common anti-Park51 arguments:

"They should have known people would react negatively to it, and so not have done it." (A slightly differently worded version of the "bad taste" argument.) Yes, and the lawmakers who passed the civil rights bills in the 60s knew that people were going to react negatively. But they did it anyways, because it was right, and because those people who reacted negatively needed to grow up and learn better.

"Oh so NOW they want to build a Mosque right where they killed people on 9/11!" and any similar arguments that mean the same thing, but are worded more diplomatically. You can't make this argument without suggesting there is some Muslim committee that makes all the decisions. That use of the word "they." There is no "they." There is no monolithic Islam. There are Jihadists and there are Muslims, and even amongst those two groups, there are no steering committees. This isn't Catholicism with the Pope we're talking about. The "they" who are building Park51 are not the same "they" who flew planes into the towers - nor the same "they" who launch rockets at
Israeli civilians, for that matter.

I will conclude by saying that the choice often lies with us as to whether we identify an Other as either enemy or friend. (The key word being "often" - if someone is literally pointing a gun at you, they are probably not your friend - but this is not the case, is it?) So if we have the choice of having one more friend or one more enemy, why should we make the choice that leaves us one ally fewer and one enemy more?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Open Letter

Dear Directors of the World,

I understand that your lives are big and important, but if you tell me that I'll be hearing from you by a specific date about whether I was cast in your film/play/ghost tour/interpretive dance, it's only polite for you to let me know by said date whether I've been cast in your film/play/ghost tour/interpretive dance. If you never intended to tell me that you decided not to cast me, that's fine, but please be up front with me about it. I'd much rather hear that you'll only be notifying the people you've cast and that the rest of us can go fuck a pig than to expect an email that never comes. Especially if I'm expecting said email because you specifically told me that you would be sending it. It's rude and annoying, and I'm frankly getting rather sick of it.

Love and Kisses,
ali d.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Terrible Writing That Needs to Be Discussed

These Gentlemen have worked our way into an excellent groove of late, bringing you wordy goodness five times a week. But there is a reason that I want to post today. Well two reasons. Two of the worst columns I've ever read (worse than the George Will one about never wearing jeans, or the George Will one about how global warming is bunk, or the George Will ... well you get the idea.)

Courtland Milloy is very liberal. Super liberal. And that's great, and he can be an insightful metro columnist. But he's on a two column streak of writing the kind of stuff that an editor, ANY EDITOR, should have politely advised against. First he tore into Mayor Fenty in a way that would make Michelle Malkin blush. But today's was worse. He wrote a column which had the following crux: "People who supported Fenty and post on Wash Post columns are terrible people, far more terrible than supports of Gray who also write vile things, but those are okay and not as bad because I have interpreted what is in their souls and I know their ethnicity." It could have been just a "Get Of My Lawn" column, but it really just betrays Milloy's complete lack of understanding of the internet and ignorance with regards to the comments on Washington Post columns. Is this the first time he's ever looked at Wash Post comment sections? Nothing is moderated, every column is followed by dozens or hundreds of vile uninformed commentary that generally include the words "sheeple," "DIMocRATS" and "Hitler."

Kathleen Parker is pretty conservative and has won a Pulitzer. Her column today would be an embarrassment if published in a college paper. She talks of how moved she was by an ad that lays basically the entire economic downfall on Obama. It's called "Mourning In America." Get it, because Obama is not Ronald Reagan? I could go into the many many fallacies in the article, but let's just go straight to the next to last paragraph:

"Nevertheless, it is probably fair to say that Obama's ideas were too big for America's appetite. It would have been nice had he made a few incremental repairs to the economy and left the transformative events for a less stressful time."

Wait, what? We're in the worst economic situation and you wish he had tweaked things a bit and stepped aside? For zombie Reagan to save us all? I think I can safely say this is the worst paragraph I have read in a newspaper all year.

David & Jason Go to the Comics

In the great tradition of people who imagine others will value their opinions, we will be starting a critic segment here at These Gentlemen. Since former Gentleman Adam Winer already has movies handled, it seems fitting that we should instead tackle that finest of literary mediums - the comic book. And few are better suited to handle the task than myself and former/founding Gentleman, Jason Heat.

A few years ago, Marvel Commander-in-Chief Joe Quesada decided that Spider-Man needed to return to his roots - being a the greatest super-hero of them all in his secret identity, and a lonely loser in his civilian one. The problem was that Peter Parker was married to Mary Jane Watson, a supermodel/actress wholly devoted to standing by her man. Peter and Mary Jane have been in love since the 70s, and were married in 1987. Some people were unhappy with this decision, saying that it was rushed in response to Stan Lee (writer of the Spider-Man newspaper comic) marrying them in his strip. However, even before this happened, Peter had already proposed to Mary Jane twice - he really wanted to marry this girl.

So Quesada decided that the kids of today were being robbed of the chance to experience Spider-Man as he was written from 1963 until 1987. An Amazing, Spectacular, sometimes Sensational super-hero with no luck whatsoever as a regular guy. So in making Spider-Man accessible, in his mind, to the kids of today, he took away the Spider-Man everyone who's been reading the comic for the last 20 years grew up or grew old with.

But to his credit, the stories which emerged from the storyline which split them apart, One More Day, were actually some of the best Spider-Man stories in years. Unfortunately, One More Day hinged on Peter and Mary Jane making a deal with the devil to erase their marriage in exchange for saving Aunt May's life. So, if you ever need a solid example of what the expression "pillars of salt" means, there you have it. Readers were just starting to get over the embarrassment to the characters and story-telling in general that was One More Day when Quesada had another great idea - let's show everyone exactly what happened that caused Peter and Mary Jane to never get married. We'll call the storyline O.M.I.T; One Moment in Time.

Below, I and my compatriot will critique this story - like Gentlemen.

Jason: What is this BULLSHIT.

David: So that ruins two characters in one story. Well done, Joe Quesada.

Jason: This whole thing is ridiculous for so many reasons. One, this whole story is just a giant justification for One More Day.

David: So it's more for making the writers - or writer, as the case may be - feel good about himself rather than actually tell a good story.

Jason: It's a terrible story! Why would Spider-Man make a deal with the devil? That doesn't make any sense! And this is how they resolve what happened? She's not strong enough to be with him.

David: Yeah, at which point one has to point out that Quesada has said that everything which has come before is still canon.

Still canon.

David: So if nothing has changed except for the fact that they weren't married, they still went through everything - including Mary Jane getting pregnant - together. All the toughest times they endured which proved time and time again Mary Jane was the perfect woman for him were all made moot by . . . what? That they weren't actually married? That makes her not strong enough suddenly?

Jason: No, of course not. It's stupid - it's the worst, most inept attempt at storytelling because there were so many ways to bring us to this point. If you really wanted to break up Mary Jane and Peter there are a dozen ways to do it, but to have him make a deal with the devil? How did that even get considered as an option? And this story was just told to try and put a spin on it; "oh, you see, they were both flawed the whole time, this marriage could never really survive."

The mask hides the loathing.

David: Which is just . . . I mean, come on, Quesada.

Jason: And here's the thing; Joe Quesada has obviously made some really good - even exceptional - moves as head of Marvel. The company is doing really well right now because of his choices. But he wanted to move Spider-Man back into the stories he knew growing up, of Peter Parker as a down-on-his-luck loser. So he's going to move him out of his marriage, because being married to a model is just too much luck for poor 'ol Peter . . . and have him sleep with a bunch of gorgeous women instead.

David: And how is Spider-Man dating around moving him back into his old persona? How old are we talking here, anyway? Mary Jane has been around since 1966. Between Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, and the Black Cat the last 50 years have been a whole lot of committed relationships.

Jason: Exactly! This isn't even going back to anything! J. Jonah Jameson's the mayor? The Daily Bugle got blown up? Spidey's an Avenger now? How is any of this the same as before the wedding? How could none of these stories be told without Mary Jane and Peter still being married?

David: Alright, wait. Let's focus just on this as a story.

Jason: I'll try.

David: So - we're filling in the missing chunks of the story. One More Day breaks up Mary Jane and Peter, One Moment in Time fills in all the gaps.

Jason: Which didn't need to be filled.

David: Que?

Jason: Okay - One Moment in Time wasn't bad. Until the end - the ending was complete garbage. Like, the worst trite I have seen in a long time. "It feels like a Brand New Day?" Come on. Come on! You have to have the character say the title of the series? I hate that. It's so lazy, it's so trite. "Brand New Day" is the theme of all the post-One More Day stories. I get it. I'm not an idiot.

David: We're getting off-topic.

Jason: Right - okay, the story didn't need filling in. Most of the important stuff has already been talked about; how Harry Osborn came back, where Mary Jane has been, and so forth. Mephisto broke up the marriage, some things changed, that's really all we needed. We didn't need an essay describing why it all still makes sense. We're comic book fans - we're willing to accept a certain amount of story "just because."

David: Yes, I agree. This whole thing started out well enough; it shows exactly what happened at the wedding so they never got married. The thing that changed was a bird - whom I think we can assume was Mephisto - flew in to a cop car and hit the door latch, releasing a crook Spider-Man had just captured. That crook goes on to be in just the right place in just the right time to make Peter miss the wedding, and MJ leaves him.

Jason: I mean, stood up at your wedding - that's pretty big. I can agree with that justification. But then they KEEP GOING. And it doesn't make any sense. The whole story, operating on the premise that everything which came before it still happened - just gets worse as it goes along. And then the explanation of how they got rid of everyone's memories . . .

David: Yes, because the two most iron-clad excuses in comics; "it's science" or "a wizard did it."

A wizard did science - THIS EXPLAINS EVERYTHING.

Jason: Ugh.

David: What really bothers me the most is that some really great stories came out of One More Day, whether or not we want to admit it. People were just about ready to forget about it and move on, and then they bring this up again.

Jason: And Quesada for some reason thinks this is brilliant.

David: He had broken them up earlier, too, and the very first thing J. Michael Straczynski did when he took over the title was put them back together: because Peter Parker NEEDS Mary Jane.

Jason: Clark Kent is married to Lois Lane, that doesn't seem to really make the character suffer.

David: Right, but Spider-Man being married ages the character.

Jason: Oh, I forgot young people never get married.

David: I'm happy you managed to contain your impressive rage through this.

Jason: Honestly? I'm not really mad anymore, I'm just really tired of all this. The only thing I was interested in finding out was what Mary Jane whispered to Mephisto, and it turned out to just be some unimportant line about her going along with it.

David: What would have REALLY been interesting is if she had agreed to remember everything and promised to make sure they never got married again.

Jason: That WOULD be interesting.

David: But that's not what they did.

Jason: Nope, Satan and magic science, that's where it's at. Now let's go watch Spider-Man's pathetic life of screwing girls in spandex.

David: And that's all for today folks. Join us again the next time we go to the comics.

Jason: I take it back - I AM still mad.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Word Choice, and Other Pleas for Decency

I am not what one might call nostalgic; I believe there is no better time to live in the world than today. However, I also believe we as a culture have become desensitized to certain words and the weight they carry. I don't mean racial epithets, either, because they sure were used a lot more casually in the past than they are now. I mean your regular, run of the mill, everyday curse words. The F word, in particular. Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic word with many creative uses, but it feels like it doesn't even mean anything anymore.

In '69, at Woodstock, Country Joe McDonald led a cheer among the thousands of people gathered, 'GIMME AN F! GIMME A U! GIMME A C! GIMME A K! WHAT DOES THAT SPELL!" and people shouted in unison, screamed the most foul word possible at the end of a decade wrought with anguish. This was a word people did use of course, but they weren't "supposed" to. It was the ultimate verbal rebellion; now that is some great use of a curse word.

Flash forward: in 2010 comedians, rappers, movies, and pay-channel tv shows use the word as if it were a period or a placeholder. That's not edgy; that's lazy. Why do you need that word there? Can't you think of something, ANYTHING else?

When Goodfellas came out in 1990, the sheer number of swear words was shocking! It was gritty! It was real!
But in 2010 it's just a yawn. Be creative, people, please!

I feel I should repeat, I am not nostalgic for a more censored time. But I have to hand it to older entertainment; it possesses an artistic subtlety to the offensive that modern entertainment severely lacks. See: Hitchcock's infamous train-driving-into-a-tunnel shot at the end of North by Northwest. If I, a child of the late 90s and 2000s, hadn't learned scholastically that that was sexual imagery, I never in a million years would have gotten it. But older audiences did, because they were trained that way. They had to be, due to strict censorship that doesn't exist today, but that's not the point.

The point, MY point, is that I just wish people, artists in particular, chose of their own volition to use other words and imagery. I was devastated when Travie McCoy's "Billionaire," so popular on the Top 40 stations right now, turned out to be a radio edit. My favorite part of the chorus is when he says "frickin" instead of "fuckin" because A) it's an unusual choice, and B) it amps up the adorability of the singer 100%. In another, more personally horrifying example, I'm not sure I will ever be able to burn the image of The Wire's Lt. Cedric Daniels' (albeit well-toned) naked derriere atop Pearlman, mid-coitus, from my eyeballs. Daniels is not the kind of character who is filmed in a raunchy sex scene, HBO. He's just not. Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD. Gahh.

Literal images aside, English is awesome. It's just, I mean, awesome. It's creative, subtle and complicated, and it is CHOCK FULL of synonyms in varying degrees of serious and silly. And unlike many other languages, it only has about four really gruesome curse words; so when they're overused it becomes like that Eminem and Rihanna song: awesome and chilling at first, but after the twenty-fifth time you've heard it that same hour it's suddenly nauseating.

So all I'm saying is, let's let our precious few curse words stay shocking, shall we? Think of the children.

Some thoughts on the capitalism occuring during this weekend's football games

As the ball switches between teams during the many football games I'm watching this weekend, I am subjected to many 30 second interludes of attempted capitalism. And all of these adverts have got me thinking again:

* Does Charlie Sheen have to kill someone before he's taken off the air? He's just such a great example for the kids. Also, women, please stop dating Charlie Sheen.

* Who buys a light beer for it's manliness? Hey Miller Lite, stop kidding yourself. If men who drink other light years are wearing thongs, as your ads suggest, then those who drink your beer are wearing bras. We're talking about pots and kettles calling each other names here. Right now I am drinking a delightful Old Chub Scotch Ale. It is not for men who enjoy wearing women's undergarments. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

* If you don't recognize your company's CEO, you should probably be fired. There are any number of things that bother me about the show Undercover Boss (for one thing, it's basically just a primetime infomercial for a company). But you know what bothers me the most? The idea that people don't recognize the person running their company. I do not expect every worker in American to know the year when their company was founded, or even what it's ticker is on the stock market. But if the employee base of a company can't pick their CEO out of a lineup then it's an epic fail on two sides, those running the company and those working for it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Oh Look, A Bandwagon!

B. Graham posted about hers. Ali posted about hers, twice. Now it's my turn. But (as I'll explain momentarily), that's not why I titled the post "The Bandwagon."

I have ADD.


Not impressed?

In our generation, ADD has become the poster child for overdiagnosed, almost meaningless disorders. It's the butt of a million "let's go ride bikes!" jokes. It's hardly considered a debilitating, harmful or particularly special disease. We all know a few people who take their Adderall do their homework (if they don't sell it), or who took Ritalin back before Adderall. It is a bandwagon that millions ride on, a silly bandwagon with streamers on it, that mostly serves to deliver the children riding it straight to Medication Land, via one of two routes - Easy Street, or Stop Being A Kid, Kid Avenue. A kid on the ADD bandwagon is either someone to be laughed at/with for being diagnosed with something so meaningless, or an opportunity to rail against the Overmedication Culture.

In other words - it's no big deal, just stop diagnosing every last hyper kid with it, ok? Moving on.

Even comparing it to OCD or Tourette's seems whiny, self-absorbed, or ill-informed. And it is not my intent with this post to say "ADD IS A REAL DISEASE GUYZ STOP MAKING FUN OF US." My main problem with ADD has not been the disease itself - it's been dealing with the question of whether I should even think of myself as having a problem at all, or if whether even suggesting my ADD is something to be considered problematic is in itself whiny etc.

I was diagnosed in '94 or so, as a 4th or 5th grader. At the time - for those who know me, this should be surprising - I was very hyper and talkative - hard to get to shut up, even. (Why I stopped being like that has nothing to do with the ADD and is a completely separate story.) The ADD test at the time (I don't know what it's like now) consisted of putting me in front of a computer for some simple tests that required me to pay attention to rather uninteresting patterns. I don't know how I did, but evidently the result was "ADHD all the way." They put me on Ritalin; it almost immediately made me narcoleptically sleepy. (Bear in mind Ritalin is a stimulant.) I said I couldn't take it anymore, and was taken off of it. I have not taken any further treatment for the ADHD to this day. Arguably, I no longer have the "H for Hyperactive" part, although you might not be so sure if you saw me on a long car ride by myself.

At the time, my parents told me not to use the ADD as an excuse for anything, not to think like I was disabled or something, or that I should act or be treated like someone who needs special help. I took this advice personally.

Over the years, on occasion, I would use the ADD as an excuse, like when I got extra time on some tests in elementary school; but for the most part, I didn't request any special treatment.

For the most part, I don't think it interfered that much with my school until the end of college. I learned how to deal with it (probably before I was even diagnosed); I am to this day a master of barely listening to a lecture, but still picking up all the crucial information, and being able to regurgitate it for the exam.

Where it has affected me has been in other, stranger places. Like socially.

The way ADD works - for me, at least - is my mind is essentially incapable of not-following any train of thought, or focusing on any situation, any situation at all, for longer than a few seconds. Only tasks that simultaneously require active unbroken thought and are rote can hold my entire attention continuously - like playing certain video games (press B, move right, press B, move left, press B, move right, press B, move left, can't think of something else for even a split second or Mario will die, but thankfully there's nothing in "press B move left" that inspires me to think of other things). Everything else - nope.

If I read a book, no matter if it's Great Literature that I love, or easy fun reading like Harry Potter, every couple sentences or so I'll start thinking about some other random thing. Maybe it will be something related to a word on the page. Maybe it will involve me imagining the situation on the page going a different way. I read very, very fast, but it takes me a long time to finish reading any novel because for every five minutes reading, I spend anywhere between one and ten minutes daydreaming - no matter what I'm reading.

The same thing applies to conversation, on a smaller scale. If I am conversing with you, then every couple seconds, I am thinking of something else. It's only thanks to echoic memory that I'm able to actually hold a conversation; without it, every few words you say to me would go missing.

Occasionally, I'm not able to compensate, however, and I miss chunks of what people say - again, no matter how interested I am. This happens especially if there is a lot going on. I have a very hard time making anything useful or sociable of myself at a party, because anytime somebody laughs across the room, no matter what conversation I am involved with in front of me, I will usually look over in their direction and have to intentionally pull myself back to what's in front of me. If you converse with me in any busy place, you will probably notice that I constantly look away and look back.

Now we get to the meta part, because how I feel about all this depends on whether I feel like it's legitimate for me to consider my ADD a real thing or not (am I just riding on that bandwagon?) If not - then every time I have a conversation in which I fade out and miss a chunk, I have to get mad at myself for being rude, or wonder if I really like this person, and if not, what am I doing? And if so - then does that mean I either go on being like that with an excuse and never try to change, or take medicine and admit that the past 27 years of conversation have been damaged?

This gets worse for other activities, considering I can sustain continued attention for almost nothing. Seeing a play can be a struggle, especially if a plot point hinges on one word, and I blink out for that word. And, worse - as I venture into serious TMI territory here, apologies - sex is not exempt. I REALLY have to ask what's wrong with me if I start thinking about dinner, or that school dance in 8th grade, or what I might write on These Gentlemen during sex. I definitely CAN'T say it's because of ADD. How f***ing ridiculous is that? "ADD interferes with my sex life?" Get over yourself, dude. Luckily, I don't think any partners have noticed (bear in mind my blink-outs are very brief), or I'd also have had to deal with some sort of horrible "No, I really like you, it's the ADD!" conversation. Yikes.

But it does happen.

The ADD has definitely interfered with work; it may have contributed to me getting fired from a job because I was barely there during boring staff meetings. The ADD has made me late on turning in homework assignments, particularly at the end of college (when for some reason it seemed to have gotten worse). It's simple math - if it takes me two hours to do an assignment because I'm a fast writer, and I have three hours to do it, then I should be fine, until you add in two hours of blinking out.

So why don't I take Adderall?

For one thing, if I took Adderall, that would be saying I have some sort of Problem that needs to be Remedied. I don't have a problem! I just need to stop being a lazy, rude jackass and grow up and engage in my conversations and deal with boring assignments!

For another thing, it would cost some money. For another, I try to avoid medicine when it's unnecessary. For another, I don't want people bugging me to sell extras to them.

But the main thing is... I credit my ADD (if mine exists and isn't just some chimera) with a lot of my creativity.

I spend almost all day, every day, thinking about... everything. As a writer of plays and fiction, I have approximately twenty five to thirty story ideas in my head, which I intend to put on paper some day (I work on about three-four at a time). At any given moment, something might remind me of an element in a story, which leads me to plotting the next step in that story.

Or, more accurately, I might be sitting with you, complaining in a standard way about how nice it would be to take a vacation, maybe to the beach. "Oh man," you say, in response, "My aunt and uncle have..." I think about the beach and how it has sand, and imagine this one beach I was on in North Carolina or was it Assateague, and how it had seaweed stuck in the white sand, and the white sand in those little boxes in kindergarten in the middle of the classroom, and those little rounded scissors and Elmer's glue, and glue is like the Shmooze from that My Little Pony movie the family used to watch when I was little in the living room which later appeared in a dream I had which also had a volcano like that other volcano dream in that big valley like that gentle valley that also has a lake in my novel-in-progress "Angels Come," and maybe there should be a lighthouse in that one, too, wouldn't that be an interesting metaphor for Amanda's growing empathy? " on the beach in Ocean City," you finish saying.

In other words, I'm afraid that without the ADD, which may or may not exist and may or not be a valid excuse for irresponsible and rude things I do, I would be nothing as a writer. I'm afraid to take Adderall and learn that the ADD is part of who I am. And for such a silly disease to be part of who I am - to be responsible for my art - when, really, who doesn't have trouble paying attention to boring things? - suggests I'm quite the dunce.

Recently, a good friend discovered she had ADD when a doctor finally said to her that she sounded like a textbook case. She told me, and said "it explains SO MUCH!" The idea that discovering you had ADD, in this day and age, could be considered any sort of meaningful revelation, or even really called a "diagnosis," struck me. It's not really a disease, I thought, it's just an excuse for being a procrastinator. Doesn't she know this? You're not joining some special club. Nobody considers ADD a real problem; it's practically unheard of for someone to talk about it as if it's anything more than a mild annoyance. Nobody even laughs that hard at the jokes because no one's really offended. Isn't she lucky, I thought, to have such a naive view of the disorder.

Oh look, online Settlers of Catan!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Best. Discovery. EVER.

So like most people in this obese nation of ours, I struggle with getting in shape. (And more importantly, staying in shape.) I am by no means overweight, I'd just like to be a little bit more trim and toned. I mean, come on, is a little bit of ab definition too much to ask?

And like a lot of people I know, my biggest problem is discipline. I've tried it all, but I can't quite seem to stick with anything. I have DVDs - TaeBo, yoga, pilates, target toning. They sit on my shelf above the TV. I have equipment - resistance bands, free weights, a balance ball. They sit in a drawer beneath my under-utilized DVD shelf. I bought a cheap but effective little stationary bike that I planned to ride three times a week. I think the longest I've ever kept up with that plan was three weeks, which is about 2.5 weeks longer than I kept up with the silly "run a mile every other day" scheme. I even bought new tennis shoes for that one! And don't even get me started on the exercise classes/programs I've signed up for, only to stop showing up after week 4. (Even when "showing up" only required rolling off my couch to do some push ups on the living room floor.)

Tomorrow. I swear I'll work out tomorrow.

But then yesterday I made the discovery of a lifetime. Water aerobics. I love swimming, so my latest attempt at fitness was to sign up for an Abs and Glutes swim class through the Montgomery County Dept. of Recreation. The price came to about $5.25 per class, which, in case you've never looked into group fitness, is insanely cheap. The pool is about 10 minutes from my apartment. How could I go wrong?

I guess this guy could have been my teacher.

As it turns out, I didn't. Water aerobics is the best kind of exercise I've ever tried. It was low impact, so my poor sad knees had no trouble keeping up. The instructor was young and enthusiastic, and he played some pretty awesome tunes. And even though I could feel my body working, you don't get covered in sweat when you're in the middle of a swimming pool. In fact, you feel pretty darned comfortable.

But the best part? The rest of the class was completely made up of old ladies (and one middle-aged dude). Normally in an exercise class I'm surrounded by pert little 18-year-olds who are schooling me on every single move. It makes me feel frustrated and totally insecure. But at a water aerobics class on a Wednesday morning? It's just a bunch of women 40+ who want to have some fun jumping around a pool.

I challenge you to be intimidated when you're surrounded by this.

And it was so fun. I felt great. I left the gym with a huge grin on my face, bummed only that I had to wait a whole week to go back again. And if falling asleep at 9:30 last night is any indication, I got one hell of a decent work out.

Now granted, it's still only week 1, but I can see myself sticking with this class. After all, if I don't show, who's going to bring the age median down by 25 years?