Tuesday, June 8, 2010

SIFF Film Review: Brotherhood

Let's start at the beginning: two strangers--both of them men--meet in a field at night for, what appears to be, anonymous and consensual sex. For one of them, it's the first time, and he's extremely nervous. After some reaffirmation that everything will be okay from the other man (Jimmy), the newbie begins to get undressed. At this time, four skinheads appear out of nowhere and attack the vulnerable--and more than likely closeted--"faggot". The non-fatal coup de grâce comes in the form of a running kick to the poor kid's face. Everyone rejoice in celebration of the savage brutality against all things that go against nature!

Moving on: we meet a disgraced serviceman, Lars, who, rather than being promoted, is dismissed due to rumors that he made a pass at a fellow serviceman. Feeling lost, confused, purposeless, he moves back home and soon becomes enmeshed in the Brotherhood: a group of neo-Nazis that plan unrelenting attacks on Muslims, homosexuals, Pakistanis, anything that isn't deemed "natural" by them.

The film focuses on the friendship (relationship) that Lars and his fellow brother, Jimmy, develop over the course of molding Lars into a full, lifetime member of the Brotherhood. The filmmakers succeed in making you feel sympathy for these men despite the fact that they are filthy fucking scum and deserve a permanent place in hell (if there ever was one).

Love is love, and it knows no limitations. However, love can exist alongside hate, and that's yet another point, I feel, that the filmmakers are trying to make. Our basic human nature allows us to do both: love and hate. They loved each other, even in the face of losing everything they lived and breathed for, including their own lives.

Jimmy's brother, Patrick, discovers their romance, and is forced to choose between two loyalties: that to his brother and that to his brethren. Unfortunately, he chose the latter. Lars and Jimmy are fooled into thinking they are being treated to a surprise in relation to Lars' recent initiation into the Brotherhood, when in reality, they were being taken to a field where Jimmy would be faced with a choice: you kill Lars, or we kill you both. Luckily, but quite sadly, it ended up with Jimmy reluctantly beating Lars within an inch of his life.

They are let go and decide to finally runaway together to be happy. They go back to the house where they were staying and pack up their things; Jimmy helps Lars into the car, and closes the trunk of the car...

This is when the filmmakers really fuck with your mind.

Okay, so you've seen these two men suffer from violence and alienation, and you've empathized with them and their struggle. You've (perhaps) put it all behind you that they are neo-Nazi scum and do not deserve a single tear shed over any kind of harm--emotional, physical, or otherwise--they may endure. Well, as Jimmy is closing the trunk, a man comes up from behind him and stabs him deep in the chest. At first you think this is just a final retaliation from the Brotherhood, but no; it's someone else; it's someone who does deserve sympathy.

A few days prior to this happening, Jimmy was shopping in a hardware store, and the clerk that rang him up was none other than the gay kid from the beginning of the movie. They quietly acknowledged each other, but nothing was said beyond the standard customer service transaction: he rang up the items, Jimmy then paid and left. Presumably, he followed Jimmy home, and mustered up the courage to retaliate against his attacker.

The closing scene ends with Jimmy on life support in the hospital, with his brother, Patrick, sitting at his bedside, feeling the remorse of having put his loving brother in this position. Lars arrives and replaces Patrick at the bedside, but not before they express sorrow and thanks to each other in a wordless exchange. The end.

The Flaws That Befall a Teenager Who Believes Nothing About Himself

I have this friend: Jacob. We met online in December 2007. He had everything: a loving relationship with a suitable guy, majoring in theater at Cornish College, a wealth of friends, and a family that finally accepted him for being gay. What happened next? He dumped his boyfriend, quit school, and moved with his family to Arizona. Why? There are many reasons, but mostly it's because of God. "I literally quit on God," he claims.
"I started out trying to find my own way in life. I listened to those around me
who weren't wise in God. Those who were telling me to 'just be happy', 'accept
myself' and 'live my own life.'"
This turned out to be the work of Satan, according to his own admission. Yes, Satan. For me (and many others), that's an extremely absurd, if not insane, notion. When the time came for him to go on winter break, he had this to say: (the bold is mine)
"So what happened? Well, Satan moved in and presented a new variable. He gave me the one man I had been looking for, for the past three years. An honest, loving, attractive, caring and loyal man. The one I had always imagined and desired. While home, I fell for him. He said all of the right things and had all of the right traits. I told my family about him and surprisingly enough, they accepted it. They told me, 'as long as you're happy, we're happy.' Upon hearing this I should have been jumping for joy, screaming at the top of my lungs and crying until there were no tears left...but it didn't happen. I simply smiled, said thank you and moved on."
Let's stop right here and deconstruct the implicit claims that he has just made. He is claiming that no one has free will. If "Satan moved in and presented a new variable", then Dylan, his now-ex-boyfriend, would be a pawn of Satan; I would be a pawn of Satan; the people who accepted Jacob as their friend and were happy with his happiness are pawns of Satan. If we are to understand his own logic, then the only person who is not a pawn of Satan is Jacob. That would mean that this world exists only for Jacob.

This is a world where we are chained by our being moved and forced by either God or Satan, except in the case of Jacob. He, and he alone, has free will. Again, this is all according to his own implicit admission. He says he spoke to God, and this is what He replied:
"Jacob - Leave your boyfriend and move to Arizona with your family because what you are doing is not what I have planned and if you don't change now, it'll be
too late."
I equate this to talking to an invisible brick wall: it doesn't exist, but you want it to say something to you, so you supplant the voice of your conscience for the voice of God. There is only one thing to say to that: it's fucking nonsensical insanity. Religions are a plague on humanity and they should be destroyed.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Theater Review: Nietzsche: The Musical

Unless you have some prior knowledge of Nietzschean philosophy, you probably won't enjoy this musical. In fact, the person who will enjoy it the most is the one who has fully read Nietzsche's magnum opus, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The first act begins with a musical number making fun of how people mispronounce his name, along with many other misconceptions of the famous philosopher; and the act continues to cross between the major events that mold his philosophy later in his life, and modern-day interpretations of his many works:

A Sunday school teacher professes Nietzsche's Zarathustra as being "the Bible" while teaching the metamorphoses of the human soul: the camel becomes the lion becomes the child; these are all becoming the ubermensch. This becomes the theme for the final musical number of the first act. Just to top it off, Nietzsche's characters adds, "this is totally not about Nazis!"

The second act deals more with a, to use my friend's term, "Mars Hill" kind of faith. The teacher from the first act is hounded by a youth pastor named Kyle; he's cool and hip and fucking loves Jesus! Due to the notion of eternal recurrence, Nietzsche crosses paths with the teacher, and they view each other's worlds from different perspectives. I'll be honest, I started to get a little lost during this part of the musical, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

The final message to the audience is presented through a long musical number urging them to become who they are, and not be who they are--an impossibility, it seems. Okay, now it's time to go read some Nietzsche; maybe then it will make some sense to me.

Some better reviews are here and here. Tickets and info are here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Theater Review: An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein

On Thursday night, I went and saw a coworker of mine star in Theater Schmeater's production of An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein. It's a play, but it's not. There are ten individual acts that push the bounds of the absurd.

A couple fight at a restaurant because the girl in the relationship is turning into a "bag lady"; a shoe, an empty picture frame, a bowl of cooked oatmeal; all have a place inside her bag(s). Women get objectified as sex symbols; they get hit on at bus(t) stops, and sold at auctions. If you are in a lifeboat with your wife, mother, and child, and it's sinking, who are you going to throw overboard? Follow that with a rough group of people beating and ultimately executing the guy who created the catchphrase, "right on!" Next time you take your clothes to the laundromat, check the fine print; they may not be washing your clothes at all. Dinner, rape, murder: thank you, meat and potatoes. Think you can talk about sex whilst only rhyming with words that end in the sound "ee"? They sure can! A blind man fights with his man-dog. Close the proverbial curtains.

If you're lucky enough to get tickets, you should check it out. It plays every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm until June 12. As I understand it, most of the remaining nights are sold out, so I would call in advance.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SIFF Film Review: From Beginning to End

This was another film that I wanted to enjoy--and I did, to a certain extent--but I still had my qualms with it. Two half-brothers, born of the same mother, develop a relationship that goes beyond the, shall we say traditional, bounds of brotherhood. The two become inseparable, ultimately sending them both into depressive states when one of them travels to Russia in order to train for the Olympics.

I applaud the filmmakers for tackling an extremely controversial topic: love and incest. I believe that we often condemn incest based solely on the fact that it produces inbred children. But what about two people who can't produce children? It's still viewed as wrong, but is it not less so? I don't have the answer; and who's to say that there's a right one?

I regret to say that the film's themes merely scratch the surface of things. We know that these brothers love each other beyond all acceptable limitations, more than I can possibly imagine, but there is never any explanation as to why they love each other so. It just happens and that's that. In the end, it seems that the eldest brother is more invested in--maybe dependent on?--their relationship than the other one.

There are too many unanswered questions, and they hold back this film's potential.

There is a line in the film that says, "there are two sides to everything: the good and the other side." The response: "if you know the good, why would you choose the other?" And that explains most things in my life.

"The Peanut Butter Solution"

I've mentioned this film to several of my friends on many different occasions, and they always look at me as if I'm crazy and just making it all up. Well, here's the trailer:

It's a real movie, friends! I grew up on shit like this. Although, I seem to recall it being scary at times. I think someone disappears into a painting at some point. Now that shit is crazy.

I'm Attending SIFF, Are You?

Last year's SIFF had me viewing a gay Filipino romance film. My review of that is here. This year promises to be just as good. Granted, there aren't any gay Filipino romances being presented--I can't help what I like--but I'm just as pleased, if not more so, with the three five six films that I've chosen to go see.*

"Do Começo ao Fim" ("From Beginning to End") by Brazilian director, Aluisio Abranches.
A controversial film about a homosexual and incestuous relationship between two half-brothers.
Tickets and information here. [Wednesday, May 26, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian Theater]

"Broderskab" ("Brotherhood") by Danish director, Nicolo Donato.
A film about two men in a neo-nazi group that develop a relationship forbidden by the very ideology they enforce through violence.
Tickets and information here. [Friday, June 4, 9:30 p.m., Uptown Theater]

"8: The Mormon Proposition" by American director, Steven Greenstreet.
Quite obviously, a film about the Mormon Church's role behind the Proposition 8--to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage--campaign in California during the 2008 elections.
Tickets and information here. [Monday, June 7, 7:00 p.m., Egyptian Theater]

"El Baile de la Victoria" ("The Dancer and the Thief") by Spanish director, Fernando Trueba.
A political thriller and romance about a safe-cracker that wants to get his life back on track after being released from prison. The story is set during the period after the fall of the repressive Pinochet regime in Chile.
Tickets and information here. [Wednesday, June 9, 9:15 p.m., Neptune Theater]

"Cargo" by Swiss director, Ivan Engler.
I saw the trailer for this and just couldn't help myself; I had to buy a ticket to a screening. It's a thriller that takes place on board a transport ship in space.
Tickets and information here. [Friday, June 11, 9:15 p.m., Egyptian Theater]

"Howl" by American directors, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.
A biopic about Allen Ginsberg--James Franco plays the lead role--and the controversy surrounding his poem, Howl.
Tickets and information here. [Saturday, June 12, 7:00 p.m., Egyptian Theater]

Reviews will follow after each performance. Stay tuned.

*There may be other screening times for certain films. I've listed the screenings that I am personally attending.

Parked On the Corner of Boylston and Olive

I would love to drive this around town. Where can I get one?

Man Suffers Bleeding in His Brain After Assault in the University District

Last Friday, around 2 a.m., Seattle police and fire responded to an assault call at the corner of NE 50th and University Way, according to a police report. A female witness told officers that she and her male friend--the victim in this case, and also very intoxicated at the time of the incident--were waiting at the aforementioned corner when "a red vehicle with two large black males drove up and began yelling at them, 'why you gotta knock over my brother's sign?!'" They were referring to a knocked over sandwich board for an eatery in that area. The witness claimed that the sign "had already been knocked over before they had arrived and they didn't know why they were being blamed for it."

At this point, the victim started yelling back at the two men in the vehicle, and "a heated verbal argument ensued." The driver stopped the car, and the victim walked over and kicked it. The witness told the officers that "the two suspects [then] jumped out and began punching the victim. Then they picked him up and slammed him head first into the pavement. He was knocked out on impact."

Although the report does not indicate whether the assailants got back into their car, or took off on foot, they were said to have fled westbound on NE 50th. Police conducted an area check, but were unable to locate the two men. The reporting officer said he contacted the eatery that was listed on the sandwich board, but the owner "denied having any employees that own a red car or had recently gotten off shift." He further adds, "[t]he owner was not very forthcoming with information and gave the impression that he knew more about the suspects than what he was telling police."

The report concludes by stating that the "staff at HMC reported that the victim would survive, but had bleeding in his brain."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

They're Always Saying Hello!

My former co-worker, Kestrel, and her roommate, Amelia, thought it would be nice to put up a sign that always welcomes me to their abode--at least when they're not home. Now, whenever I walk over to Broadway--an almost daily journey--I get a big smile on my face when I see their little sign: "HI JON -K&A". The best part is that they did not tell me about it; so, as I walked by their apartment the other day, I looked up and got the biggest grin on my face.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday, May 14 through Sunday, May 16

I don't know whether or not to judge the past weekend as an utter failure or success. It's open for debate. Let me start at the beginning:

I worked a full and (mostly) productive day at work; although, it became a struggle around 3 p.m. Nevertheless, I pushed onward. After work, I headed up to Gay City to get my periodic STD testing. Yes, I'm responsible like that. I must say, the guy who screened me, Victor, was unbelievably attractive. It didn't help that he positioned my arm in such a way that I could easily grab his junk. No, Jon, no. Show some restraint. Okay.

Onto the next and final part of my day: my friend, Rich's, 25th birthday party. We all got drunk for about six and a half straight hours. During that time frame we played ping pong, smoked cigars, chatted, and eventually found ourselves smoking our hookah on the roof, stargazing, while two people played guitar and the ukulele. It was extremely peaceful and relaxing. As the night came to a close, our (RB2) band, The Shredders of Dignity, decided to play a few gigs. By this time, we were dead tired, and called it a night. However, there were some--Rich--who did not want to fall asleep just yet. "What was your favorite Goldeneye sleepover moment? 'Dude, I thought we agreed on no Oddjob...and pistols only.' 'I changed it when you went to the bathroom.'" We wanted to sleep, so Rich went and slept in his own bed, rather than the hardwood living room floor. Finally!

Now there are four of us: Rich, Kristin, Jessica and me. We woke up, smoked the hookah (for the millionth time already), and drove over to Mae's Cafe on Phinney for some delicious breakfast. I had the Denver omelet, while Jessica indulged on the smoked salmon and cream cheese omelet. I can't recall what Kristin and Rich ate. It was a sunny and beautiful day, so we opted to walk to the park to throw the Frisbee around and play hackeysack. For whatever reason, we thought it would be a great idea to do the Infinite Setlist 2 on Rock Band. Let me emphasize the fact that we never doubted our ability to beat this monster of a project.

For the next nine hours we played Rock Band. Yes, you read that correctly. Nine hours. There are 84 songs in the Endless Setlist. We completed 81 of them before we ran into the impossible: "Visions" by Abnormality. This horrendous piece of musical garbage slammed the brakes on our winning streak and forced us to face the fact that we could not complete the IS.
Dear Rock Band,
Fuck you!

Rich, Kristin, Jessica and Jon
By this time it was nearly 2 a.m., if I recall correctly. Again, we went to bed, but this time we did it with shame and defeat in our hearts and minds. Jessica, however, drove home. I didn't have such luxury--I don't own a car. So, the next morning, Rich, Kristin and I drove to Krispy Kreme to grab a donut, and then we finally parted ways: they went to their kickball game and I caught the bus home. When I got home, which I had not been to since Friday evening, I took a long shower followed immedialy by a long nap. The end--sort of.

Here are some of the email exchanges the four of us had this morning:

From Jessica:
I’m still sad about what happened on Saturday. I don’t know if I will ever be the same. 81 songs. 81 freaking songs. Happy Monday!

From Kristin:
I’ve been borderline depressed….the last 3 songs are EXACTLY why we were going to choose medium…. I don’t even want to listen to the radio or any rock music at all.

From Rich:
I had a similar thought.... I feel like we should have taken a picture of 81 of 84 songs complete and posted on failblog or something. Overall the whole weekend was a giant success in my opinion.

From me:
Agreed. I hate Rock Band. I don't even want to see any of the instruments. Can you put them downstairs in the storage room? I might smash the drums if I come across them.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Re: The Recent British Elections

Andrew Sullivan sums up my thoughts:
It just seems odd to me that after this election, someone who was not in any of
the debates could somehow become prime minister in a party that clearly won many fewer votes and seats than the Tories.

I'll admit that I don't know much of anything about the political parties/system of Britain, but I know enough to make sense of what Sullivan is stating here. Let me try and break it down:

Today, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown offered his resignation in an attempt to sway the third place party, Liberal-Democrats, to form a ruling coalition with the second place party, Labour. Initially, the Conservatives (Tories) were talking with Liberal-Democrats to form a coalition. This means that the Lib-Dems hold all the cards at the moment.

With Brown out, and if a Lab-Lib coalition--as they like to call it--forms, the Labour party would decide on a new leader, who would then be the next British P.M. I believe that is how it works; that's exactly how Sullivan puts it. Odd.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Best iPhone App Ever Created

I thought this app topped them all--no pun intended; but I was wrong. I was dead wrong. Last week I discovered the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" random quotation app. Click on any of their faces and you get a sweet dose of IASIP. This is guaranteed to put a smile on my face anytime I have a bad day. The best part: it's free!

"Kitten mittens. You'll be smitten. So come on down to Paddy's Pub. We're the home of the original kitten mittens. Meeeoooow."

"Well, I could put the trash into a landfill, where it's going to stay for millions of years, or I could burn it up, and get a nice smokey smell in here, and let that smoke go into the sky where it turns into stars."

"How about a can of wine?"

Okay, those were all from Charlie; but come on, he's the wild card, bitches!

An Egyptian-Made Keffiyeh (Or Shemagh)

As I noted earlier, my friends, Jessica and Raili, were in Egypt for the past two weeks. They were kind enough to bring me back a nice present: a keffiyeh (a/k/a a shemagh). I think this may be my latest treasured asset. It was handmade in Egypt. It's not something I purchased at Urban Outfitters. Although, it's not like I could. I've found that there are two ways to wear it:

(1) The hipster look*:

And (2) The desert look**:

*I have already figured out one outfit into which I would like to incorporate this: white chuck taylor low-tops, cuffed jean shorts--something I loved wearing last summer, and my dark blue AE t-shirt.
**I had to view some videos online as to how to wear it this way. It's easy once you get the hang of it.

UPDATE: Here is the outfit I mentioned.

I Survived Two Weeks of Cat Wrath

Even though the two devil cats, Ollie and Ellie, annoyed the shit out of me, I enjoyed the company. My two friends returned from their vacation in Egypt this morning, and now I'm back to my humble abode. I'm glad I washed all the dishes before I slipped away for two weeks. Now I just need to clean up the rest of the apartment. Give it time.

I've been keeping myself busy with work and hanging out with my friends. Now that I have the same 'weekend' as most of them, we see each other more often. That being said, I couldn't tell you how many hours we've clocked playing Rock Band 2 in the past month. I think we should start filming our band's performances. Shredders of Dignity on YouTube. It may soon become a reality. Oh, and yes, our band name is (The) Shredders of Dignity. It's a long and esoteric story. Don't ask. It's kind of our own thing.

You may be wondering what that note (in the picture) is supposed to mean, besides the obvious. Well, it's my reminder at work to stay on top of everything, but at the same time, to not get ahead of myself and make (too many) errors. So far, it's working. (Un)fortunately, I've been taking my new job very seriously, but I'm hoping that it will all pay off down the road. Let's hope so. It's never a bad thing to be good at your job, right?

Sadly, I have been completely out of the loop with all the news that is happening in the world. I need to start spending my time after work reading the blogs and newspapers. As a result, my own blog--snooze fest--has been dormant for a while. I just need some inspiration, and I hope it's coming soon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What a Delightful Saturday

It's been too long since I've been able to share weekends with my friends. Now that I have a grown-up job, things are looking up. Yesterday, I sat around the apartment for a few hours in the morning before I did some laundry. After that, I went over to Ballard to pick up one of my former co-workers so we could grab lunch. I was really in the mood for a Red Mill burger, but the line was too long for our liking. We decided on Mae's Cafe on Phinney, but they were closing in ten minutes. You can always count on the 24-hour service of Beth's Cafe, which is where we went.

We both ordered a six-egg omelet and a cup of coffee. Surprisingly, the music selection was quite good. Imagine what you listened to in the mid to late 90's. Also, I'm pretty sure I witnessed a short and slim Asian teen eat a twelve egg omelet all by himself, including the hash browns. Even I couldn't do that when I tried years ago!

After eating we drove up to Third Place Books to get my last pay stub, and she picked up some books. My former co-workers bombarded me with questions regarding my new job: "How's the new job?" "What do you do, exactly?" "Do you miss us yet?" Good. Simple, yet complex stuff. A little.

Then we went to Golden Gardens in Ballard. If I've ever been there before now, it was when I was a small boy. The weather was perfect, aside from the heavy winds. We couldn't help but melt at the sight of the little ducklings and their sleeping mama. I also found a stick that looked like a laser-gun from Star Wars. So, I decided to run around and pretend I was a Storm Trooper. Nerdy, I know. Coincidentally, there was a woman there with a Tie Fighter kite.

After we left Golden Gardens, I took her back home, and then drove back to Capitol Hill to pick up my phone charger, which was another thing I had forgot to bring with me. My phone died upon arrival. I killed some time on the internet, then drove over to pick up a replacement cable modem, and then up to Northgate to hang out with my friend, Kristin. We hung out her house's loft, where we discussed music and two art pieces that her fiancee purchased for her recently. We decided to go to the 10:30 Daft Punk Laser Show at the Pacific Science Center. Again, it was amazing. I drove her back home, and then back to Fremont for the night.

Saturdays and friends, I love you.

This Is Going to Be a Long Two Weeks

I've been tasked with watching over my friends' apartment and two (devil) cats while they are on vacation in Egypt for the next two weeks. There were too many perks to not take the job: Xbox, Netflix, cable television, high-speed internet, and access to a car. However, the two felines are determined to cause my stress and anger levels to spike and send me into a murderous rampage.

I've been here since Thursday evening, and so far they have: knocked over the trash can, spilling trash all over the kitchen floor; knocked over the vase with water and flowers on the kitchen table, thus spilling both its contents all over the table and floor; nearly broken three martini glasses after getting into the cupboard above the refrigerator; gotten into the lower kitchen cupboards and eaten gelatin and Swiss Miss packets. I can't wait to see what they have in store for me next.

On top of all that, their automated cat box--the worst investment ever, in my humble opinion--sounds like an incredibly loud document shredder, and it goes on and on and on and on. I had to unplug it after it went on for an hour straight. Note: there was absolutely nothing in the cat box at that time.

I'm also tasked with watering their arrangement of plants. As I was about to water the plants on top of their entertainment center, I told my visiting friends, "they shouldn't have their cable modem and wireless router up here near the plants. That's just an accident waiting to happen." Not a minute went by when I accidentally poured a little water on a leaf; it rolled off right into the vents of the cable modem. Singe. Fuck! The cable modem (which run about $50) was dead. Lucky for me (and my sanity), a friend's fiancee had a spare modem lying around, so I was able to get one from him. Thanks, Eric!

Then began the communications with Comcast and getting the new modem registered. Everything worked out great until they needed me to confirm my friend's driver's license number. She's in Egypt, so I won't be getting that information anytime soon. The tech support guy told me that everything was good to go, and just call back when I have that information. So, I started wondering where she might have the information written down. I looked at her checkbook: no luck. Then I spotted her purse by her dresser. I saw her wallet. It was in there! Score! I called back, confirmed the number, it got switched on, and I bummed around on the couch watching Air Force One. At the same time, the cats went into the other room and slept. Finally, peace.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oh, the Things One Finds at Half Price Books

This seems like a joke (and maybe it is), but it's still funny nonetheless. I was at Half Price Books earlier--selling books, not buying them--and I came across a folded up note on top of some books in the True Crime section. It was a checklist of things; some were crossed out, others were not. The italics are mine.

Clean House <---First Time.
Shower <---Really?


Straighten House <---Second Time.
Shower <---Oh, come on!
Ashley Present? <---Give...
Ashley <---...and you shall receive.


Clean House <---Rockstar!
  • Movie
  • Condoms
  • Books
  • Games
  • Candles
  • Tampons <---Fail.
  • Candles
  • Wine?
  • Breakfasts (Snacks?)
  • P-towels
  • G-bags
  • Tampons <---Double fail.
Drop Henry

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Does a $30 Million Yacht Look Like Inside?

Like this (oh, and, holy fucking shit):

Via Towleroad.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

There Is No God; Or, How Religion(s) Destroy Humanity

Yep. I said it. There is no God. The only place where God exists is inside your head. It's an idea. A false sense of security; it supposedly protects you from the woes and worries of life. You think He's there, and that from time to time he answers your prayers. But He's not, because He doesn't exist.

Nearly three years ago I became friends with a rather young, gay male. In the time I have known him he has matured into a very bright and ambitious guy; he was admitted to Cornish College of the Arts, he fell in love with the man of his dreams, and he proclaimed, incessantly, that he had everything. On Thursday, I noticed that he was posting cryptic Facebook status updates: "...is making the biggest decisions of his life." The first thought I have is "oh no, he's considering marriage or something serious like that." He is young, and although it's not my life to live, I wouldn't want him to settle down at 19 years old.

I texted him to find out what was going on, and I was, much to my dismay, given this response:
"I broke up with Dylan and Im leaving Seattle to go live with my family in Arizona because I strongly feel that this is what God wants me to do."

"Im packed up, withdrawn from school and waiting for my ride. I know this is INSANE but its whats best for me."

"I cant keep lying to myself, acting like Gods ok with my decisions when i know hes not. Im tired of hiding from Him!"
There were more text messages after those, but the point is there. Religion stole my friend from me. It's nothing but lies. Why do people so easily fall into the trap of illusion? I didn't even get to say goodbye. And now, I've lost another person dear to me. Is God punishing me? No. Shit happens. There's nothing left to do but accept it.

If You're Asked to Sign a Petition for I-1068...

...you should really sign it.

Review of Vessel, Part Two

My first review is here. And now my second review: I still thoroughly enjoyed the drinks, atmosphere, and service. Although, to be fair, I was in good company, and I'm sure that helped. I started with a libation called "Captain Handsome" (pictured left). It's gin, creme de violette, limoncello, lime juice, and absinthe; it is also carbonated.

All the ingredients, save the absinthe, were put into a large plastic tube, sealed shut, injected with CO2 for the carbonation, and then shaken to perfection. The bartender then took out a chilled glass, and sprayed the inside of it with absinthe while at the same time lighting it on fire. Pour the drink in the glass, give it a brandy cherry, and enjoy!

It had a dark gray color to it; smelled like black licorice, and tasted like lemon. It was delicious.

We had other drinks, but they were bartender's choice, so I couldn't tell you what they were. By the end of the night, we had about five to six drinks. If you want top quality, check out Vessel. [$$$].

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Theater Review: Paradise Lost

On Tuesday, I was surprised with an outing to Intiman Theatre's production of the Clifford Odets play, Paradise Lost. Thanks, Tino! It's debatable whether or not one's experience of the arts--in this case, theater--is more or less enjoyable with knowledge of the plot/story. In my case, the experience was constantly evolving, as I had to listen and focus on all the elements as these happened on stage.

It's the story of a well-off family during the Great Depression, and the tragedies that befall them all. (Then again, don't most plays follow that formula?) It questions the lengths that we will go to in order to survive during a time of struggle. Leo's company is losing money, and his employees are demanding better pay. He wants to give it to them; his business partner would rather hire someone to burn down the shop and claim the insurance money. Leo won't do it. In the end, the only thing that has not been lost is their integrity.

For me, the entire performance was carried by the impeccable acting by Bradley Goodwill, who played the role of Leo's business partner, Sam Katz. There was never a moment where I felt he was merely reciting lines; every delivered line felt authentic. Michael Mantell played the role of Leo just as well. The character made me question my own political motives with the line, "I don't vote because I came to realize that both sides were just as bad." Here, here.

Lastly, as we were returning to our seats during the first intermission, either the old man or old woman walking in front of us let out a very loud fart. Not a word was said until we sat back down. "Was it just me, or did the people in front of us just fart?" I asked. Insert laughter.

Photo taken from Intiman's Paradise Lost Play Guide.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Music Video: Symphonies feat. Kid Cudi by Dan Black

Some Things Will Never Change

I was walking downtown yesterday, and I crossed paths with an individual--he's not worthy of being referred to as a person--that contributed greatly to some of the shittiest moments of my life. Anyone who has intimate knowledge of my personal experience would know that I am talking about Richard Dewayne Jones. He's a crack addict, with a penchant for lying and stealing on a grand scale. I thought my seeing him once was enough, but no, he had to come back and walk into the MoneyTree branch near the bus stop where I was waiting. I couldn't help but think, "who is the lucky victim of check fraud today?"

Lady Gaga Vs. Cubby

I'll admit it, this guy has better dance moves than I do. More power to him. I love the outfit at 2:33. Priceless.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Have you heard of [his] new thing? The 'fuck me, I'm right here' app?" - My friend asking another friend about this.

My Sunny Saturday Exploration

Yes, I know it's Wednesday, but because I have one of the most fucked up schedules ever, today is my Saturday. Deal with it. Anyway, every time I ride the bus on I-5, I notice two very long staircases that go from the top of Capitol Hill down to the base of the freeway. I've had an urge to go check them out, and get some much needed exercise. So, today, with the sun shining, I went and did just that. My walk ended up being a little more than four miles, according to Google maps.

View Capitol Hill Stairs in a larger map

I was surprised to find that there is a park hiding under I-5, along with a Mountain Bike Skills training course. If I was into mountain biking, I would have needed a new pair of pants upon my discovery of it. It's also very peaceful. Surprisingly enough, you can barely hear the traffic above. Although, I think that may have been due to the fact that much of it was at a standstill. Here are some photos of it all:

It was a very quick and easy trip to get to the bottom of the stairs. Going back up...not so much. There were three other people walking up/down the stairs, and I was the only one not wearing workout clothes. Either way, it was a good workout getting my fat ass back up that hill.

After my Adventure with Stairs, I made a stop at Vivace for an iced latte first; then I went over to Cal Anderson Park to get in a few pages of reading; and then I headed home. I'm glad I got off my lazy ass and out of my apartment today.

My Good Deed of the Day

Earlier I sold some books, went to the bank, and bought some groceries. As I was heading home from QFC, a nice little old lady flagged me down at the corner of Union and Harvard. She asked me if I was going far, and if I could help her out and carry her groceries for her. So I did, and she was much obliged. A woman that passed us on the street even mouthed "thank you" to me. Good job, Jon.

As a side note, after we parted ways, I couldn't help but think of how that situation would have played out in a world envisioned by Ayn Rand. Rather than say, "sure, no problem," when asked if I could help her out, the response would have been, "what do I get in return?" Fuck, I hate Ayn Rand.

If I Were Ever to Do Drag...

...I would have to dress like this.

How to Produce an Episode of Kitchen Nightmares

God, I need a life. I've wasted so much time just sitting in front of this damn computer, watching ridiculous television shows on Hulu: shows like...Kitchen Nightmares (with Gordon Ramsay). I've watched over 30 episodes of it, and I've figured out the secret formula for producing it. Just follow these simple steps:
  1. Find a fledgling restaurant that is run by an arrogant asshole.
  2. Send Gordon Ramsay to "save" the restaurant.
  3. Show the restaurant's chef exclaim how good the food is; show Ramsay spitting the food out and describing it with no less than five expletives.
  4. Have Ramsay observe a regular dinner service.
  5. Have Ramsay bitch out the chef/owner/manager about all the things that are wrong and need to be fixed.
  6. Have said chef/owner/manager bitch out Ramsay and proclaim there is absolutely nothing wrong with the restaurant, and that they just "need customers".
  7. Insert commentator's remark about how this will be "Chef Ramsay's most difficult challenge yet."
  8. Have chef/owner/manager break down in tears and say they'll do anything to fix their restaurant.
  9. Have Ramsay redecorate the entire restaurant and create a new "minimal" menu.
  10. Insert pep talk with Ramsay and the entire restaurant staff.
  11. Everyone rejoices.
  12. Ramsay expresses his skepticism.
  13. Roll credits.
I should really take up a hobby or something.

Victims of DoodleBuddy

My phone has an app--I hate that term--that lets you draw pictures with the tip of your finger. On separate occasions, I drew three of my friends: Kristin, Rich, and Jess. Enjoy.

King County Public Health Really Wants You to Get Vaccinated for the H1N1

How else could you interpret this ad? Apparently, being infected with H1N1 means you spew a frothy liter's worth of liquid up to a distance of at least five feet. Gross.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What If Ophelia Had a Sassy Gay Friend?

I can't believe I waited this long to watch these hilarious remakes of Shakespeare classics:

Watch Romeo and Juliet here. Othello here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Perks of Working in a Bookstore

I don't remember where I heard about this mammoth of a book--Witz by Joshua Cohen--but I do know that it peaked my interest; I subsequently ordered a copy for myself, and have been anticipating its May release. As I was speaking with my manager this afternoon, I noticed he had a review copy on his desk. I expressed my interest in it, and he kindly handed it over. It kind of made my day. It's always nice when you get something you want, and it comes at no cost to you.

From Dalkey Archive Press:
On Christmas Eve 1999, all the Jews in the world die in a strange, millennial plague, with the exception of the firstborn males, who are soon adopted by a cabal of powerful people in the American government. By the following Passover, however, only one is still alive: Benjamin Israelien; a kindly, innocent, ignorant man-child. As he finds himself transformed into an international superstar, Jewishness becomes all the rage: matzo-ball soup is in every bowl, sidelocks are hip; and the only truly Jewish Jew left is increasingly stigmatized for not being religious. Since his very existence exposes the illegitimacy of the newly converted, Israelien becomes the object of a worldwide hunt...

Meanwhile, in the not-too-distant future of our own, "real" world, another last Jew—the last living Holocaust survivor—sits alone in a snowbound Manhattan, providing a final melancholy witness to his experiences in the form of the punch lines to half-remembered jokes.

Also, the title, Witz, is Yiddish for 'joke'.

There Really Are Some Things That Cannot Be Explained

About a month ago, I noticed a journal in our lost-and-found at work. It had been sitting there for quite some time, and I decided to give it a glance. It sounds invasive, but I felt an inexplicable connection to its content. There's nothing special about it. It was written by a guy who was clearly down on his luck, but remained hopeful. The biggest mindfuck for me came when I noticed the drawing on the lower half of one page. (See image.) As the title of this post suggests, I cannot explain the following: I undoubtedly believe that I drew that picture. I may not have drawn it in that book, but I remember drawing it. It even looks like my handwriting/drawing.

How do you explain that?

In fact, even now, as I look over this page and its words and images, I shudder. It terrifies me. I live for answers. This is what the rest of the page says:
"Dreams and images bombard me (last night & this morning). Things un from the deep are migrating to the surface."

"I am beginning to believe that the world is extremely simple and straight-forward. This may be because I can't figure out anything, or that there is nothing (to figure out)."
I think I may have stumbled upon one of the biggest mysteries in my life. There is so much in the journal, and it is more than just words on paper.

Memories (feat. Kid Cudi) by David Guetta

I can't say much to the video, but I love this song. Anything with a beat that includes piano usually gets my attention right from the start. The guy I dated back in November introduced me to it, as well as this song. As a side note, if I could pull it off, I would definitely dress like K.C. does at 0:46.

My Contributions to Greater Things: Blood and a Ballot

I was of voting age in the fall of 2002, but the first election I voted in was the 2004 presidential race between Kerry and Bush. I voted for Kerry. But one has to stop and think: given the state of things now, was it better that it happened that way? That is to say, that Bush won, and subsequently, Obama is now our president. I guess we'll never know.

I didn't really get into politics until after I graduated from college in the spring of 2007. As to why that is, I'm not really sure. I know I wasted most of my time during college, and I could have walked away from it with so much more, but you live and learn.

I can't speak for the past generations, but there is definitely a deeply rooted apathy with regards to civic participation amongst many of my peers, and it drives me nuts. However, I know that I surround myself with people who will actually listen to me, and they know that I do my homework. If I think something is important, they're going to take notice if I keep mentioning it over and over again. (See here, here, here, here, here, and here). So, I'm not just working for my own purpose, I'm working for everyone else. I think that's a valuable thing to offer.

My other contribution was my (O-) blood; I'm a universal donor, and anyone can receive my blood. Sadly, as a practicing homosexual, I am banned from donating blood ever again. Although, things may change in the future.

The Children's Version of Scarface

I'll let this thing speak for itself:

Via Eric Becker.

Schadenfreude of the Day

I told her so.

And the Award for the Biggest Idiot Goes To...

...the guy who thought it was perfectly reasonable to drive his Chevy Trailblazer up onto the curb and within five feet of our store's entrance in order to load his used books into his car. I took this photo from inside while he was backing out. You can see how much closer his car was if you look at the wet tire treads on the pavement.

Short Story: A Hot Night in the City

It was the hottest day that the city had known. 103 degrees. People were doing anything they could to stay cool. In the gay part of town, slim, sexy men strutted about the beach and basked in the bright and shining sunlight. I, on the other hand, did not. I was never comfortable with my body; you'd see me wearing a t-shirt if anyone ever persuaded me to get into the water. Not this time. I volunteered to watch everyone's belongings while they cooled off in the lake.

"He's cute," I would tell myself, as I looked across the way.

There were several cute guys there that day, and I couldn't force myself to believe that I could ever speak to any of them. I proved myself right. It wasn't that difficult, either. The heat was beginning to drive me insane. I couldn't exactly move all of their stuff into a different area of the park. Nearly every square inch of ground was occupied. Thankfully, I liberally applied sunscreen to my face, neck, arms, and legs. I never got a single burn.

My anxiety was getting the best of me. Luckily, my friend returned and relieved me of my duty. I informed him I was leaving, much to his dismay. The wait for the bus was anything but exciting. I became a captive audience to a woman, clearly drunk and consumed by the heat waves. My friend and his boyfriend were leaving, and I managed to excuse myself from the woman's meanderings, and catch a ride with them. The air conditioning never felt so good.

I arrived home, fatigued. I needed a nap. A few hours passed when I received a phone call. This person was not in my phone's address book, but I somewhat recognized the number. I've avoided him for the past several months. I thought I was doing him a favor by disappearing from his life. I increasingly questioned our friendship, and what it really meant to him. At the time, he had only contacted me once, and that was to ask how I was doing. I let the call go to voicemail. Would he leave me a message or not?

The phone made its sound, indicative of having received a voicemail. He had. I listened to it. "Hey JB. . It's me. I was just seeing if maybe you wanted to go see a movie or something. Get out of this heat for a bit. They have A/C." I now had two choices: call him back, or ignore him. Five minutes later, I called him back. It felt so good to hear his voice again. I missed him so much, but it was for my own good to have removed myself from his life. We agreed to meet up ten minutes later on a street corner equidistant from both our apartments.

On the walk over, I listened to "Crashin'" by Jack's Mannequin. That song would be ingrained in my mind, forever, as the night our friendship rekindled. I waited longer than expected for him to show up. Then again, he always had a penchant for making me wait. I hated that about him. At last, he finally showed. He looked so cute. I always found him to be so attractive. It kind of puzzled me as to why he would do the things he did with someone who looks like me. I wasn't exactly the attractive type. I was paunchy, constantly hunching over, and my clothes were rather shabby. I guess he found something of interest in me;
but what?

We walked to the movie theater, chatting along the way. "How have you been? What have you been up to? What's new?" he asked. I was still emotionally guarded at that time, so my answers were short, and disclosed very little. I always preferred for the other person to talk about themselves, rather than me talking about myself. I find myself to be dull, and boring. I hardly ever find anything uninteresting in the guys I meet. I prefer to surround myself with people that embody and represent everything that I am not.

After the movie, he did not want the night to end. "What should we do now? Should we go back to your place? Should we go get some ice cream?" he asked. I was rather surprised that he still wanted to hang out with me. I wasn't sure of his intentions, if he had any. Has he ever? Ultimately, we wound up sharing a pint of ice cream in a nearby park, and eventually met up with a group of his friends. This made me rather uncomfortable, seeing as how I become invisible as soon as other friends come along. It's understandable. I'm an outsider, an anomaly, to his friend rubric. He surrounds himself with lively, creative, happy people. I, on the other hand, seemingly serve a function of bringing him down when he needs a rest period. Is it true?

The temperature was still lingering in the low 80s, and it was now nearly 2 a.m. He was ready to head home, and he invited me to come along. One movie for the evening would not suffice. We watched yet another film at his apartment. In that moment, things went back to the way I remember them being, even if they meant absolutely nothing. We cuddled on his couch. Having my arm around him, and him being so close was exciting and anxious all at once. What could he possibly be thinking? By the time the movie ended, it was nearly 4 a.m. This is when he invited me to stay the night. We had known each other, at that point, roughly two and a half years. Not once had he ever offered to let me spend the night. Why now? Why all of a sudden? What had changed? This may have all just been inside my head. It really meant nothing. Sometimes I feel as though he is incapable of feeling anything for me. Friendship or otherwise. The question still remains: what does he feel?

As we had done in the past, on numerous occasions, we had sex. That may be indicative of something. But what? Before we finally fell asleep, him cuddled in my arms, he asked me a question that has haunted me ever since. "Why do people die?" I couldn't bring myself to tell him what I personally felt; he had been devastated by the loss of a man that he had never met, but was madly in love with. My friends would later tell me my response, "I don't think I'm qualified to answer that," was a cop out, and insensitive to his feelings. Regardless of what he may have said when the topic came up again later on, I still do not know if it was or not.

That was one of the best nights of my life; and I spent it with a person that I love.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This Is How I Feel

Guess what? I'm sober right now. I'm not under the influence of any intoxicants. (That's not the point I'm trying to make, though.) But do you remember a time where you had too much to drink and you ended up like that (<---) guy? Remember being hunched over the toilet, feeling like absolute shit; the only things that were running through your head were: "why?", "why me?", "when will this be over?" That's exactly how I feel (in a figurative sense).

Right now I'm merely enduring it all. I'm waiting for it all to pass. There's not much I can do to make it any better. However, my endurance is running out; I've been hunched over that toilet for nearly seven years.

Photo from assbach's flickr.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I Didn't Know Dan Savage Could Be Such a Dick

Check out the second most commented item on Slog today:

He hounded that poor kid out of town. Shame on you, Dan. Shame on you.*

*This is merely a joke derived from coincidence.

This Is What Cats Do When You're Not Home

My friend Jessica and I came home to this mess the other night. Ollie and Ellie, you're in big trouble!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Less Than Zero and Imperial Bedrooms

In 1985, Bret Easton Ellis published his first novel, Less Than Zero; a story about a group of uppity, vacuous teenage characters back home in L.A. for their Christmas break. I first read it nearly three years ago, and I was very taken in by it. I'm intrigued by any story that attempts to get its message across indirectly.

Well, it's now 2010, and Ellis is releasing his newest book, Imperial Bedrooms, which is the story of the same characters, only now they are in midlife. I've been waiting for the publisher's galley copy, and it finally arrived this week. However, I couldn't just jump right into the book; I had to re-read LTZ. It's funny how one's perception of a book changes over time. That being said, my enjoyment of the book waned.

I feel very little sympathy for these characters. They know that they're trapped--at times--by their own wills, but none of them make any effort to escape their own personal hell. The only thing they can bring themselves to do is fuck an assortment of people--it doesn't matter if it's a guy or girl--consume copious amounts of drugs, and move from one place to another with increasing apathy. Nothing makes these people happy. They know it. They fully embrace it.

The climactic moment comes when Clay, the protagonist, and the only one who shows any sign of redemption, goes over to a friend's apartment, and witnesses his friends rape a 12 year old girl. "Why?" he asks. "Why not?" is the response. It's extremely disturbing, on many levels, but not nearly as the things that happen in Ellis' magnum opus, American Psycho. (If you have a weak stomach, I do not recommend reading AP.)

The question now becomes: what happened to the characters? Well...

First off, the book cover is terrible. Look at it. What. The. Fuck? It bears no relevance, at all, to the story. Okay, I got that much out of the way. How was the story? It was crap. Ellis took a mediocre idea and recycled it with elements from all of his other novels. In the first few sentences, he writes himself into the book. Now we're dealing with two narrators: Ellis and Clay. Maybe it's just me, but for the entirety of the novel, I couldn't refrain from replacing the fictional character (Clay) with the author (Ellis).

Most of the usual characters return (Rip, Trent, Blair, and Julian) this time around, but the story focuses mostly on Clay. The premise is that he is a successful screenwriter, and he travels to L.A. to assist in casting auditions for the movie he wrote; along the way he runs into his old friends; mystery and drama ensue.

It's 25 years later, and none of them have gotten any better. Clay enjoys manipulating young women by offering them parts in movies in return for sex; Julian is no longer being pimped out, but rather, pimping out young men; Blair and Trent are now married, but superficially so.

The plot is as thin as a thread: someone has gone missing, and Clay keeps being followed and sent mysterious text messages from a blocked number, and maybe someone wants someone else out of the picture, and a girl wants to be in a movie, but at the cost of her boyfriend, and blah, blah, blah. Although I read the whole thing--all 168 pages of it--I stopped caring nearly halfway into it. If you've read Less Than Zero, Glamorama, and Lunar Park, then you've already read Imperial Bedrooms, and you can probably go ahead and pass.

Oh, How I Wish They Were Mine

"You're a shoe whore," a friend once told me. While it is not entirely accurate, I have no problem embracing the claim as such. I enjoy a nice pair of shoes about twice a year. I buy them; they look pretty for a while; they get beat up; they get worn out; I keep my eye out for another pair; I start all over.

After starting my day at the gym yesterday, I walked home passed Edie's Shoes on Pine and Bellevue. They really know how to lure me in, seeing as how they always have new sets of shoes rotated in and out of the window displays. This time around, it was shoes by Tretorn. I really like the color combination--I guess I'm a sucker for things that are blue/gray.

They're $60, which means I probably won't be their proud owner anytime soon. But I'm not worried; I find quality shoes more often than I find quality men. I love you, shoes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Riddle For Your Monday Afternoon

Okay, so it's not really a riddle. And depending on when you read this, it may not even be Monday or the afternoon. Oh well. As I was doing some "book work" today, I noticed four white index cards near the Cliffs Notes section. Can you figure out what book the person was writing notes on? (Click photo to enlarge)

It May Be Your Monday, But Today Is My Thursday

For reasons that are, as of yet, undetermined, I have been itchy and subsequently scratching myself into oblivion for the past couple of weeks. (All signs point to allergies.) In the past few nights, I've been unable to sleep due to it all. So, this morning I woke up around 3:30 a.m. and never fell back to sleep. Although, I did tell myself last night that I was going to wake up and get my lazy ass to the gym before work.

5:30 a.m. rolled around and I had to make a decision. Either I indulge myself and get some disgustingly good McDonald's breakfast--I love their Sausage McMuffin with Egg--and waste some time on the internet until I go to work; or, I throw on my gym clothes, brave the cold weather, and spin to my heart's content for an hour. Luckily for me, my body, and my coworkers, I chose the latter.

I got to work on time, and my coworker told me she was a little bit frightened at how lively I was being this morning. (I also rode the escalator like Buddy the Elf.) I really need to get in as much time as I can before April 19th--that's when my gym membership expires.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

219 - 212

The House passed the Senate's healthcare reform with three votes more than they needed for it to pass.

Would You Like to Sample That Beer (Or Wine) Before Buying It?

The Washington State legislature passed a bill--it has yet to be signed by Governor Gregoire--that allows grocery stores that sell beer and wine to add a "tasting" endorsement to their liquor license. From the final bill report (.pdf):
A store seeking to obtain the endorsement must meet the following criteria:
  1. At least half of the gross sales of the store must be from retail sales of grocery products for off-premise consumption or the store must be a membership organization;
  2. The store must be at least 9,000 square feet; and
  3. The store cannot have more than one public safety violation within the past two years.
The LCB may issue endorsements to stores smaller than 9,000 square feet if the store meets operational requirements and the LCB finds there are no stores in the community that meet the minimum size requirements.

The licensee must be able to observe and control individuals in the tasting service area, make food available for participants, limit sample size to 2 ounces, and provide no more than 4 ounces per customer per visit. Store employees serving beer and/or wine at tasting events must hold an alcohol servers permit, and sampling costs must be borne by the store.
I think this is a great idea. Of course, this merely means that stores can do this. It does not require them to do it. Although, something tells me I won't have much luck trying to taste my $3.00 "cab sauv".

Photo from bbp's Flickr.