Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Soap opera villains: Building the perfect beast

Everybody loves a bad boy. They're hot, they're sexy, and they're a lot more fun than Prince Charming or the white knight on a steed. Ditto fictional villains. Not only does watching dirty deeds being done dirt cheap (or at great financial cost) make for super televised or cinematic entertainment, but it's cathartic, too. I like to think of myself as one of the good guys, and since we generally finish last, sometimes it's fun to root for the bad guy, put myself in his shoes, and imagine myself, for once, coming in first.

As I've mentioned many times before, I'm addicted to daytime soaps. And what would my beloved stories be without villains? I don't tune in to see love in the afternoon. (I've never been much of the voyeur type -- I even hate porn!) I tune in to see what the town pariahs are up to, and, of course, to see good eventually triumph over bad. But only after a long, hard, entertaining struggle.

The other night as I was watching good-girl-gone-wicked-witch-of-Llanview Marty Saybrooke terrorize Natalie Banks on One Life to Live, I began to daydream. What if I went on my own reign of terror in my hometown, plotting revenge on everyone who's ever done me wrong? My daydream didn't last long because A) I'm not a person who's particularly driven by revenge, and B) aside from the occasional romantic rejection, or hurtful words spoken by friends and acquaintances in anger, or in ignorance, I can't recall anything ever being done to me that warrants taking a walk on the dark side.

I've never been framed for murder, or parentage, never had a child be kidnapped or switched at birth, never been assumed dead, or had a loved one come back from the dead, never been pushed down a flight of stairs. My parents are really my parents, and there are no repressed memories of molestation or incest. Though I feel like I spend way too much time complaining that woe is me, I have it a whole lot easier than most of my beloved soap characters. I mean, I'm not sure how I would survive if someone buried me alive. I can barely make it from my sixth-floor apartment to the ground floor in my apartment building's elevator!

But the main reason why I would never really go there is because every dog has his day, and I wouldn't want mine to end in jail, or in some even worse place, or state. As fun as it is to watch the misdeeds of fictional bad guys -- and girls -- it's even more enjoyable to see them finally get their due. Over on Days of Our Lives, Vivian Alamain spent what seemed like months in a sarcophagus (thanks to Brady Black, a handsome hero turned slightly sinister and frequently toasted), which made watching her eventually shove her intended buried-alive victim, Maggie Horton, into the tricked-out casket for two weeks, bearable. Naturally, Vivian will get off scott free, but at least she suffered, too. And everyone in town hates her.

It's the same with Nicole DiMera. She gets her way -- sometimes -- but she's a hopeless drunk with few friends and no respect, so it's okay to watch her steal babies and try to pass them off as her own because we know that eventually she'll get caught. But I'm still waiting to see some fallout from her framing of Arianna Hernandez for the Salem muggings. Arianna might be recently departed, but boy would it put a crimp in her rough-sex romance with Brady if he discovered that Nicole was directly responsible for his falling off the wagon.

Meanwhile, anti-heroine Sami and anti-hero EJ go back and forth. This week, he's the winner. Next week, it's her turn. (I'm firmly on Team Sami, because, as played by Alison Sweeny, she's more sympathetic than EJ, whom James Scott brilliantly plays as 100 per cent smarmy, unlikable and borderline irredeemable.) Then there is Kate Roberts Kiriakis Brady DiMera. (Did I leave out any surnames?) I love watching her because at fiftysomething, Lauren Koslow, the actress who plays her, is one of the sexiest women alive. And anyone who goes out jogging dressed to the designer nines and fully accessorized has got my vote. But just once, it would be nice to see her pay for her crimes against humanity in Salem.

David Hayward, Pine Valley's sole dark prince, recently risen from the dead after trying to frame Ryan Lavery, the ex of his wife Greenlee, for his "murder" on All My Children, is tolerable because he loses more often than he wins. Oh, and everyone hates him. Ditto One Life to Live's Dorian Lord and Todd Manning. And over at General Hospital, Lisa Niles is finally getting a little bit of comeuppance. Though she gets away with attempted murder too often, it was nice to see her put on probation at work and have her operating-room priviledges suspended by Chief of Staff Steven Webber, the hunkiest daytime doc in serious need of his own story. Stat!

Which brings me to Clint Buchanan over on One Life to Live. Watching him turn into his late dad Asa is one of the most enjoyable things happening on OLTL at the moment, and Jerry Ver Dorn has seamlessly negotiated the transition from upstanding to downright wicked. And I can see how losing his wife Nora to his brother Bo, who also happened to be Nora's ex-husband (and now current one), turned him into a bitter, broken guy. But I'm tired of seeing him win all the time. For months now, he's been getting away with everything, and the people he loves love him right back.

It's no fun watching a villain whose only enemies are the people with whom the hate is mutual. David Hayward is interesting because he has two Achilles heels: Greenlee, who loves Ryan and not him, and his daughter Marissa, who despises him. Dorian's Cramer girls are always butting heads with her, putting her in her place, as is most of Llanview. And at least one of Todd Manning's kids are usually at odds with him, or he's got a wife battling a fake brain tumor, or someone's beating him within an inch of his life. He suffers enough.

I say it's time for Clint to get a nemesis who can stand up to him -- whom he also loves and respects. I want to see him get punched or slapped. Rex Balsom, the son he doesn't want anyone to know he has (for reasons that I'm still not buying hook, line and sinker), can do the honors. Or Viki Banks. I say it's time for Viki to remove the rose-colored glasses and see her ex-husband for who he's become. Now that's a showdown that would keep me on the edge of my seat. I'd be cheering on Viki on the outside, of course, but deep deep inside, I'd be rooting for Clint to keep me entertained with his dirty misdeeds.

Bring it on, big daddy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Waiting for a star to fall: When celebrities tumble onstage

Years ago, my mom and I were walking and talking in downtown Atlanta during one of my regular visits to the city where my mother had moved shortly after I left home for college. I was doing most of the talking (about what, I can't quite recall), and when the time came for her weigh in, there was silence.

I waited. Not a word. I looked over my shoulder and realized that my mother was no longer walking beside me. I turned around, and there she was, about half a block behind me, sitting on the sidewalk, looking up at me. Her eyes were saying, "What is wrong with you, boy?" She'd taken a nasty spill, and I had been to busy yakking to notice.

I ran back and arrived just in time for a lady to help mom off the ground and say, "God bless you," before walking away. I felt terrible that my mom had fallen, and I had been too engrossed in telling my silly story to notice. Had anyone shown up at that moment and started laughing at her misfortune, God knows what I would have done to them. (I'm not sure if my mom remembers this incident, but the other day, when I received an email from her with "Still Standing" in the subject line, I breathed a sigh of relief.)

Fast forward more than a decade later, and my friends and I are at a restaurant in Buenos Aires, laughing at YouTube videos of divas falling in concert. First Mariah Carey. Then Beyonce (mid-"Ring the Alarm," a song that requires total control, both vocally and physically, to work). Both falls looked painful and painfully embarrassing, and falling, which can be quite hazardous to one's health, is no laughing matter.

When we see someone fall on a bustling sidewalk, it's not necessarily side-splitting stuff. During my many years living in big cities, I've seen countless people take nasty spills in transit (usually women), and not once do I recall even cracking a smile. And God knows, I've had my share of public wipe outs -- trudging through iced-over snow in New York City; jogging in Buenos Aires; dancing, drunkenly (natch!), on a platform in Alibi, a club in Milan; wobbling, inebriated (natch!), down the stairs in Heaven, a disco in London -- and I've never seen anyone bust out laughing.

But I'm still chuckling to myself at the mental image of Jennifer Lopez tripping while performing on the American Music Awards last year. And I'm not sure how Naomi Campbell, or any model for that matter (Remember Carrie Bradshaw's catwalk disaster on Sex and the City?), can show their faces in public again after toppling over on the runway. When you think about it, it's bound to happen at some point to anyone who makes a living negotiating complicated movements on a stage. Unfortunately for them, in this age of YouTube, the pain my go away, but the image of the falling star lives on in infamy.

Of the two superstars at whose expense my friends and I were laughing on Saturday night, Beyonce's trip was by far the most spectacular because there were steps involved and, unlike Mariah, she wasn't pregnant, so the laughter wasn't punctuated by pangs of guilt. I'm still not sure how Beyoncé managed to quickly get back on her feet and continue performing without any evidence of physical pain, but I guess that's what super troupers do. The show must go own? Haven't got time for the pain? (Feel free to insert your own relevant song title here).

Meanwhile, the rest of us die laughing and look forward to the next fallen star.

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Mel Gibson's latest load of crap and other Hollywood developments that are making me say, "Whoa!"

Most of us have known for a long time now that stars say and do the most ridiculous things. But in the last few days, there seems to be an epidemic of crazy spreading through Hollywood. Some of the celebrity news is leaving me scratching my head and sort of speechless -- though not speechless enough not to toss my two cents into the ring.

What is wrong with Mel Gibson? Now he's saying that he didn't punch his ex, Oksana Grigorieva, with a closed fist, but he merely slapped her with an open palm -- not too hard -- in order to calm her down and stop her from hurting their baby, which she was carrying at the time. Personally, I'm over Mel vs. Oksana. She's no more sympathetic in their media war than he is, but she has the benefit of not having been in my face, annoying me and making absurd declarations, for the last quarter century.

As for his assertion, I don't believe a word of it. And even if I did, since when is it okay to smack your girlfriend, even to calm her down? And are there not ways to restrain a hysterical woman that don't involve physical violence? Another question for Mel: Is slapping an emotional woman who is holding a baby not endangering the baby further? I've never been a Mel Gibson fan, but now I wish he'd just go some place far far away never to be heard from again.

Do famous people know how to be single? Nick Lachey gets engaged to Vanessa Minnillo, so what does Jessica Simpson do? She says, "I will," to NFL player Eric Johnson, a guy she's been dating only since May. A source told People magazine that the timing is only a coincidence, but considering that Jessica hasn't spent more than a minute single since splitting with Lachey some five years ago, and she's always got to be the one in the spotlight, I'm almost certain that after Nick proposed to Vanessa, she approached her jock with a proposal -- er, demand -- of her own: "If you like it, then you better put a ring on it." It's Beyoncé's line, but apparently it works for Jessica, too.

Meanwhile, a little more than a year after LeAnn Rimes dumped him for Eddie Cibrian, her ex, Dean Sheremet, is ready to try marriage again. I suppose a year of mourning is long enough, but his engagement comes too close for comfort to denied rumors that Cibrian had popped the question to Rimes (though I suspect that when it does happen, it will be the other way around). It's almost like these stars think there are only two sides to romance: marriage and divorce. Dating in Hollwyood: It's so passé.

Doesn't Bill Clinton have more important things to do than a cameo in The Hangover 2? And yet another mystery: Couldn't the former U.S. president have picked something a bit smarter in which to make his film debut? First, George Bush reveals that the darkest moment of his presidency was being called racist by Kanye West (I wonder how he thinks Taylor Swift feels), and now this. Forget separation of church and state. I'd say it's time for a decisive separation of state and Hollywood.

I was going to write something about People magazine's latest main cover line -- "KIM KARDASHIAN AT 30: I THOUGHT I'D BE MARRIED BY NOW" -- but I'm still trying to figure out what exactly Kim Kardashian does or why anyone cares about her.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why I'll never go under the knife looking for perfection or the proverbial fountain of youth

Yesterday a friend of mine dropped a WTF bomb on me. He's fed up with his imperfect midsection, and he's determined to do something about it. Liposuction to the rescue!

I felt like a liberal parent whose kid had just come out as a Republican. I thought about Dr. Kevin Brenner, a Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon to whose blog my friend Lori recently introduced me. Despite my general wariness of plastic surgeons, Brenner seems like a decent, upstanding guy, the kind of doctor who first would do no harm. I remembered his post on body dysmorphic disorder in which he suggested that with the late Michael Jackson, who suffered from BDD (an obsession with real and imagined physical flaws), his addiction to plastic surgery and prescription drugs may have been linked.

I grabbed my friend's middle just to be sure that he wasn't under the influence of BDD. It's not just that I think my friend, who is the most dedicated gym-goer I know, has a perfectly fine body, but God knows what could go wrong during the lipo process. Didn't Kanye West's mom die on the recovery table after a routine tummy tuck and breast augmentation, and didn't one of James Brown's wives also expire after some form of reconstructive surgery? I began to imagine every worst-case scenario possible.

Aside from the potential complications, I've always thought that a fabulous body earned the natural way -- through diet, hard work, or, for the lucky few, genetics -- was the only kind worth being proud of. I've recently softened my hard-line stance toward Botox after seeing it work wonders for a female friend of mine -- though I still cringe at twentysomethings and their preventative Botox sprees -- but I still can't totally get behind liposuction, tummy tucks and most elective cosmetic surgery. It's one thing to fix a massive honker in order to make it more visually compatible with the rest of the face, or breast reduction to ease back pain, but I draw the line at fake boobs (unless made necessary after a mastectomy), chin, cheek and lip implants, and the sucking out of fat or the rearranging of it.

To me, it's a little bit like cheating on a test in school. You may get an A, but who cares, if you didn't earn it? The same goes for physical beauty. It's so much better when you're born with it, or you earn it -- not when you pay someone to carve an approximation of it onto your body or face. And few people I've seen look better after being nipped and tucked. I glance around the streets of Buenos Aires, one of the nip-and-tuck capitals of the world, and see so many faces that have been pulled within an inch of their lives, and I wonder how much more beautiful they'd be if they were allowed to age gracefully and naturally.

Liposuction may not leave one looking like an alien clinging for dear life to fleeting youth, but just the very idea of someone sticking any kind of instrument into my body and sucking out fat cells makes me sweat. My friend, who is one of the most practical and pragmatic people I know, came up with a convincing argument why his decision is a sound one, and after he told me a bit more about his background (his parents were both bodybuilders, and he once was dumped by a guy for putting on weight), I stopped giving him my WTF look. He might not get the six pack he's always wanted, but for US$2,400 (in cold, hard Argentinian cash), he could finally have the flat stomach he craves.

As someone who was overweight until the age of 18, I know how exasperating the fight with flab can be. No matter how thin and toned I get, I'll always be the fat kid whose siblings used to call him names like "fat pig," "tightwad" (because of the way my clothes clinged to my husky form), and "leviathan," the one who couldn't get a date and the one who always was picked last for team sports (though that may have had as much to do with my general clumsiness and lack of coordination on the sports field). Today, whenever someone compliments me, or when I get hit on in a club or bar, I still look around to make sure that the person is actually talking to me.

When I look in the mirror, like most people, I don't love everything I see. But through a lot of hard work -- almost-daily runs, weight training, pilates -- I'm probably in the best physical shape of my life. When someone tells me that I have a great body, I still think they might be pulling my leg, but I do know that whatever it is they see when they look at me is 100 per cent real.

No matter what the results of my friend's date with lipo turn out to be, I doubt that it'll ever end up on my own to-do list. Neither will plastic surgery of any kind. When I tell people my age and their jaws drop and they tell me that I look like I'm still in my 20s, I'm flattered and grateful that, it's all due to exercise, genetics, good luck, and Kiehl's. Ponce de Léon never did find the fountain of youth, and neither will anyone who thinks they will stay forever young by going under the knife. I'll skip all that and continue to age -- or not age -- gracefully and naturally.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why my mom should have suspected that her 10 year old might be gay

Of all the reactions to my coming out of the closet at 23, the one that sticks out most in my mind is my sister's.

"You know you're completely taking me by surprise," she told me over the phone. "I had no idea."

"Seriously?" I asked, wishing I could see her face for a sign that she wasn't screwing with me. Months later, when I broke the news to my mom, she had a similar reaction. To this day, I'm not sure whether they were being honest or ironic.

Sure, growing up, there had been a few red herrings. From third-grader to tween, I'd had crushes on female classmates (all of them out of my league -- maybe subconsciously I was shooting for the unattainable so that I'd never actually have to date one of them), and at the eighth-grade banquet, I spent all night sobbing into my punch after Kim LaRose turned down my invitation to dance. But now that I think back on it, would a heterosexual-in-training really have behaved like such a drama queen? Even without shoulder pads, I could have taught Alexis Carrington and Erica Kane a thing or two about over the top.

No, I never walked around in mom's high heels, admired her dresses or experimented with her make up -- but young gay boys generally only do that on TV and in the movies. Though my interest in charts, the Oscars and The Golden Girls wouldn't flourish until my teens, and the Lifetime years were more than a decade away, there were early signs. I couldn't be bothered with fast cars, playing catch with my brother, Pete Rose or Farrah Fawcett. Which brings me to the first of six hints that I'd grow up preferring Ken to Barbie (though I never played with dolls).

I was a Jaclyn Smith kind of guy. Boys wanted Farrah, girls wanted to be her -- or at least accurately simulate her flip hairdo. In a sense, she was on everyone's lust list but mine. I had my eye on another one of Charlie's Angels. Sweet, refined and beautiful in a wholesome kind of way, Jaclyn Smith was more my style. Unlike Farrah and Suzanne Somers, the top-two TV bombshells of the age, she never sold sexy. She was the kind of lady whose hand you could spend all night holding and never have to go farther than first base.

Actresses rocked my world. Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone were the major movie stars of the day, but I was too focused on the queens of the small-screen -- Smith, Lindsay Wagner, Victoria Principal and Jane Seymour at night, Bewitched's Elizabeth Montgomery and I Dream of Jeannie's Barbara Eden in afternoon reruns --  to care about the tough guys. I don't remember much about the moment when I found out that Elvis Presley died (other than that I was watching Star Trek), but I vividly remember every single emotion that swept over me when I heard the news that Grace Kelly and Natalie Wood had passed away.

I was obsessed with beauty pageants. I mean anything I could get my eyes on: Miss America, Miss U.S.A., Miss Universe. To me, Miss America host Bert Parks had the best job in the world. I still remember prancing around the living room as if I'd just won the lottery when Janelle Commissiong, Miss Trinidad and Tobago, was crowned the first black Miss Universe in 1977. By the time Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America in 1984, I'd lost interest, but beauty pageants and I had a good run. When I came out, one of the first things my mom said was, "But you loved beauty pageants so much as a kid!" Exactly.

I hearted Olivia Newton-John. Unlike many gay men of a certain age, it had nothing to do with Grease. In fact, to this day, I've never even seen the musical. My love of ONJ began in 1979, just as she was shedding her good-girl image with "A Little More Love." It was love at 25th sight, though I was more enamoured with her music than her sex appeal. I never got into Judy Garland (too tragic), or Barbra Streisand (too Broadway), or Madonna (too raunchy), and I was a bit late to the Kylie Minogue party, but to this day, my heart skips a beat whenever I hear "Xanadu."

I was addicted to soaps. Most people around my age remember being sucked into daytime soaps at some point as a kid because their mothers were hooked. I was no different. Some of my fondest pre-kindergarten memories are watching Love of Life, Search for Tomorrow (I'll never forget the sight of a young Morgan Fairchild, who played Jennifer on SFT, throwing herself through that glass door) and The Young and the Restless with mom every weekday afternoon. Nothing too out of the ordinary there. But surely mom should have suspected that she had a future diva on her hands when I insisted on missing the first day of third grade because I had to see the resolution of All My Children's Friday cliffhanger. If only we'd had VCRs, TiVo or YouTube back then!

I was a suburban metrosexual. Other boys my age were going to the Boy's Club, or playing football and baseball, but I couldn't be bothered with such manly pursuits because dirt and sweat repulsed me. I was more concerned with the crease in my straight-leg Toughskins (boot-cut and bell-bottom hems made me look fatter), and spent too much time frowning at myself in the bathroom mirror, warding off pimples, and patting down my hair, trying to get the Afro just right. I'm no longer quite so high-maintenance, but I'm hooked on Kiehl's, and I never go to bed without flossing.

Mom, if you're reading this, don't despair. Your gaydar may have been out of service for years, but at least you raised a son who's well-groomed and loves women.

"I love you": The saddest words in pop?

Love and happiness.
They are, as Al Green sang in his 1972 classic of that name, "something that can make you do wrong, make you do right." They also seem to bring out the best and the worst in us -- in life and in song. Maybe it's because both joy and romantic love are generally fleeting, and we know it.

Sort of like fantastic weather. The other day, I was listening to "Blue Skies," the first single from Jamiroquai's excellent new album, "Rock Dust Light Star," when it dawned on me: Like love and happiness, blue skies bring out the worst in singers and songwriters. Willie Nelson crooned Irving Berlin's gorgeous "Blue Skies" (same name, different song) on his 1978 album "Stardust" as if his emotional forecast actually called for pain. Listening to Jamiroquai's Jay Kay singing about sunny weather ahead on his "Blue Skies," I almost expect a thunderstorm to break out mid-song.

It's unclear what's got him sounding so, well, blue, but I'd venture to blame it on love. Songs about love come in every kind of mood, but those three words, "I love you," seem to bring so many singers and songwriters down. Mary J. Blige, Sarah McLachlan and Faith Evans used them for the title of songs; Stevie Wonder just called to say I love you. But if love is such a beautiful thing, why don't any of them sound particularly overjoyed singing about it. (Martina BcBride, in an interesting break from pop tradition, sang her biggest hit, 1999's "I Love You," like she really meant it.) No wonder Annie Lennox declared on her 1994 hit "No More I Love You's."

I recently went through a '70s love song phase, and as I backtracked to Phoebe Snow's "Poetry Man," Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" and Karen Carpenter's "All Because of You," I couldn't help but notice that as gorgeously sung and poetic as these songs were (and are), none of these women in love sounded like they were in a much better emotional space than Dorothy Moore on her tear-jerking 1976 hit "Misty Blue."

But that's the thing about love. When it sneaks up on you, fear and insecurity are never far behind, and heartbreak lurks in the shadows. It's the most complex state of being, and if it doesn't end in tears, singing about it is almost certain to bring on the rain.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Where's my stray cat strut?

I've always hated cats, but there was a time when I could say, with a completely straight face that I had cat class and I had cat style. It was an indisputable fact: I was cool for cats. Like those cat people in the David Bowie song, I spent my free time putting out fire with gasoline. No wonder he and I got along so well.

If the scary cat references haven't given me away ("Dog Days Are Here," according to Florence + the Machine, but not for me), let me spell it out for you: I'm no longer the crazy cat I used to be. MC Skat Cat has got everything on me. I'm officially not cool for cats.

Moving right along from the cat thing (which is either a sign that I've done lost my mind, or I'm turning into a lesbian cliché)...

It's been exactly three weeks since my return to Buenos Aires from Australia, and I'm still having a hard time getting back into the social groove. I've been more prolific with my writing than I've been in months (though I don't spend nearly enough time updating this blog), and I've been ridiculously dedicated to my running, Pilates and workout routine, skipping only one day of intense physical activity since my return.

What I'm missing on a near-daily basis, though, is social activity. I've met three friends for brunch, two for dinner, and I ventured out for drinks with a few of the guys last Friday night (which thankfully, did not end up like Katy Perry's song of the same name), but I've otherwise been in reclusive mode. I'm not sure if it's just a phase, if my age is finally catching up with me, or if mentally, I'm still stuck in Melbourne and getting too chummy with BA might snap me out of it.

I'm doing the MSN Messenger thing a bit more than I had been in Australia because that's what folks do here in BA. The conversations are still not particularly interesting, and I haven't gotten any better at coming up with excuses why I can't meet up for drinks later that I'd believe if someone were using them on me. I think some of the guys are catching on, and they've stopped writing. If only one of them were named Lucas -- I could never resist a Lucas!

The good news is that my best friend in New York City, Lori, is finally on MSN Messenger, so we can talk everyday in real time. Still, I know that I can only hide out in my apartment for so long. Eventually, I'm going to have to go out into the BA nightlife again. I'm plotting my return to Melbourne for February or March, so I've got a few months left to enjoy BA -- or not. I'd rather enjoy, and although I've been writing non-stop for the various blogging networks to which I contribute, I'm itching to add some new outrageous personal stories to my collection.

I do have one new one for which I didn't even have to leave my couch. Last night my friend Rob, whom I met last year through this blog, went to a Halloween party at Palacio nearly a week after the fact (Halloween), and he was approached by a guy from the U.S. who said to him, "Oh my God, are you Jeremy? Do you write a blog?" It gets better: This guy is the roommate of a friend of mine named Roberto (no relation to Rob), and he doesn't even know it. Hopefully, I'll get to meet him eventually and thank him for reading me. I'm still in awe -- and extremely grateful -- that anyone does.

But first, I'll need to snap out of this reclusive thing and start getting out more. All work and no play makes Jeremy kind of a dull boy -- and gives him precious little to write about by way of personal experiences -- but at least I'm probably in the best physical shape of my life. And after spending a small fortune in Australia, my current hermit-like existence has been good to my bank account.

My friend Felix, whom I met at a birthday party I threw for my then-BFF Shane four years ago, shortly after I moved BA, was supposed to arrive today from Atlanta, but he was flying stand-by and didn't make it onto the plane. So who knows when he'll get here? I was hoping that he would help pull me up out of my BA malaise. Maybe he will. Or maybe I'm beyond hope. Just in case I am, I've got the rest of the fourth season of How I Met You Mother ready to go.