WHAT THE F*CK, DIFFUSER?

Depeche Mode “101”

So, yesterday, I’m minding my own fucking business when my friend Tony sends me a link. Seems innocent enough, so I open it up. It is from the website diffuser.fm and is entitled, “Depeche Mode Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness.”
Okay. Already, my hackles have risen because I know somehow I’m going to be pissed off. I mean, I was enjoying a perfectly good cup of coffee and ignoring work altogether by focusing on my Facebook threads or whatever it is that I do between eight and nine am. But now… well, fuck. Now, I had to focus on THIS.
So, the list starts off backward, first of all, with number 15. I can’t… I just… I don’t understand a countdown that starts off in the wrong direction. I understand what they are doing, you know? Trying to do the classic “build-up” to the grand finale or whatever the fuck, but now you’ve just made me angry. Of course, now I’m frantically flipping through the goddamned thumbnails to see what they’ve listed as the number one album “ranked in order of awesomeness.”

And thank God, they’ve at least got that right. They pick Violator.
Aaaand… that’s where it stops.
You see, Violator is the best record that Depeche Mode has ever made. Of course, this is also just my opinion. You are welcome to say fuck off and go back to whatever Sudoku puzzle it is that you were struggling with, but it’s a solid album and I’m sticking by my choice. As a matter of fact, “Halo” is my favorite DM track and therefore wins based on that fact alone. Funny thing is, some of Depeche Mode’s biggest hits came from that record and coincidentally are some of my least favorite songs, but… I’ll still stand behind that record as being the strongest… and we move on.
This is where it gets sticky.
And where the title of my latest blogpost comes into play.
What the fuck, Diffuser?

Playing the Angel? Okay… deep breaths. But, alright… um, we are choosing Playing the Angel as your number two choice? Breathing, breathing. “A Pain That I’m Used To” is a decent track. Uh… “John the Revelator” is good. “Suffer Well” is even pretty great, but… listen, okay? These are all good. But number fucking two? Come on, man. You are REACHING with your little ‘has a wobbly uncertainty that keeps the listener wondering…’ wah wah wah, go fuck yourself.
Whoa. Okay. I need a sip of some soda. And maybe the good stuff… with like real sugar and shit.
Moving on.

Depeche Mode in 1990, Alan Wilder, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Dave Gahan.

Their third choice is Songs of Faith and Devotion. Uh… alright. Well, it may not have been my number three, but maybe a solid number four? So, alright. I’m not completely upset. This record at least has some fuckable moments. What I mean by that is that it’s on the fuckworthy chart of fuckable albums. Take Music for the Masses, for instance. Well, there are like at least twenty lose-your-virginity moments. Therefore, you put that record in the top five of DM records. There is a reason that Dave Gahan was chosen as their lead singer; it was not for his ability to grow a goatee. It was because he makes songs that kind of make you want to take your pants off… like FAST. Songs of Faith and Devotion has a few tracks that made me rethink PVC pants in the early 90s—that’s all.

Number four? Okay, here we go. Music for the Masses. Now, I would have bumped this one up to number three, but… it’s not MY list. Number four is manageable. I’ve forgiven you with a quick handy, Diffuser.

And then, well… here’s where I think. Maybe they really think this is a top five record, and Lord KNOWS I’ve listened to it a lot, so I really can’t be upset, so… here goes. Some Great Reward. That’s their number five. I’ve listened to it (and namely “Somebody”) more times than I care to admit, but I don’t know. I’m not mad, per se, but I still feel a little bitten by their number two. Am I just holding on to bitterness from their earlier choice? Maybe so. You know what, I’ll let this one go because “Blasphemous Rumors” is a great fucking song and even if this is kind of a singles record, I’ll let it go. Painfully.

Their number six is solid, although here’s the fucking deal. My number two would have been Black Celebration aaaaaand we have yet to see it on this goddamned list. Now, their number six is Ultra, which might have been my number six too, but we would have had to kick out some of these other cocksucking motherfu… okay, and I’m breathing again. Regardless, deep breath, number six… Ultra.

Okay. Their number seven. Black Celebration. Clearly, this list was made by a fucking amateur. Number two, rookie!

Exciter. I think I’ve listened to this like four times. Depeche Mode fans don’t even remember this album. Okay, maybe I’m wrong, but it’s the one that all of us bought, but it just takes up space in the catalog just to fill it out and make sure that it’s complete. I mean, you can’t just STOP buying the records because one of them sucks a sticky ball sac, can you?

Aaaand then the new one. Spirit. I’ve got to say. I kind of hate this one. And I’m a diehard fan. Been a fan for as long as I can remember. Wore a DM shirt in my seventh grade school photo along with the Martin Gore hair flip to match. But, had they made this record in 1984 instead of 2017, I would have worn a U2 shirt instead. Fuck this record and the weirdest song they’ve ever made. Don’t trust me? Go listen to it. It’s called “Fail.” I wonder if at some point, Martin will tell Dave, “I have this great idea for a song… AND I want to do the vocals,” and Dave says back, “No, Martin, I think it’s time I tell you that it’s over. Your run is done.” So far, Dave hasn’t had the balls. And we are ALL suffering for it.

After this, it’s just a bunch of the old ones. Basically, Speak/Spell, Broken Frame, Construction Time, yada yada, with a few crappy new ones thrown in for good measure… you know… the new ones that no one can suffer through (Delta Machine/ Sounds Universe).

If it were my list (and it’s not), it would have gone a little something like this:

Violator, Celebration, Masses, Faith/Devotion, and… alright, looking back, I’ll go with their number five, SGR.

All in all, Diffuser, you did alright at the end, but I feel like I kind of wanted to unfriend you for a while there with that whole PTA thing. I will give you one thing. “Precious” is kind of bad ass. Maybe we can be friends on the weekends, as long as we keep it on the down low.

XOXO.

Charlie

Charlie Winters is a best selling author of gay fiction from Indianapolis and you can find his latest book “Aki & Jamie” at Amazon.com and the Kindle store. 

Changing meds

Daniel Ashley Williams

On average a person living with HIV will visit their doctor and have Labs drawn every three months. This is done to determine not only the effectiveness of the antiretroviral drug combination on the HIV virus itself but also how they’re affecting your body. This is an important process in the treatment for people who are living HIV.

Some of the labs performed from the blood and urine collected:  A CD4 count measures how many CD4 cells are in your blood. The higher your CD4 cell count, the healthier your immune system.  CD4 Percentage: This measures how many of your white blood cells are actually CD4 cells. This measurement is more stable than CD4 counts over a long period of time Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Screening: These screening tests check for syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Not only are Labs important but taking your daily regiment religiously is most important to ones health.

Four months or so now I have been taking Tivicay plus Descovy. Before that I was taking Tivicay plus Truvada. Which I had switch to from Complera and before that many many years on Atripla. Atripla was the first antiretroviral drug I was put on and I never liked it had  many unpleasant side effects that made me feel sick to my stomach, have bad dreams, and feel hung over every morning. Back when I was diagnosed HIV positive, I didn’t start meds right away. At the time guidelines recommended treatment using thresholds based on a person’s CD4 count. Now, current guidelines recommended by The World Health Organization recommends treatment be given to people with HIV as soon as possible following diagnosis.

I switched to Descovy because it’s supposed to be less harmful on my kidneys. It seems to be working fine. After seeing the doctor after being on the new medicine she agreed it was working and felt like it was a good move to change meds. I still have a undetectable viral load.

While talking to a friend, who is also HIV positive, we discussed the fact that Descovy had replaced Truvada. Then he asked why I was mutating? I had to explain to him that it was the newer version of Truvada and switching meds address’ long-term health needs such as lower bone and kidney toxicity risks. I feel like more information on the medicine that we take needs to be available to people living with HIV, especially as more of us live longer fuller lives.

At my last appointment I was made aware that Matthew 25 has a patient portal . This allows me to login and see; upcoming appointments, Recent lab orders, Medications, diagnoses and more
“Matthew 25 Patient Portal is a HealthCare Support Portal facilitates better communication with your physician’s office by providing convenient 24 x 7 access.” This also eliminates the paper version I used to get at the end of every visit. They even have a handy app.

 

THE PERFECT MIXTAPE

Twenty songs. That’s all this is. But damn if twenty songs isn’t the hardest thing to narrow down when coming up with what I like to call “the perfect mixtape.”
A few years ago, I crafted a Spotify playlist with this exact name. I keep twenty songs on it. Now, they change frequently. I keep certain songs in rotation and tracks come and go, but there are a few which always hold steady and never leave the list.
And now, I share this list with you.

*cracks knuckles*

You ready for it? 

1. Elbow – “Powder Blue.” I blame this song on Bob. If you’re reading this, you know who you are. Bob first put an old copy of this cd (when cds were, you know, still a thing) in my hand and said, “You must. You simply must.” I did and I never looked back. I feel like there has to be an anecdote that I should share with you, but there just fucking isn’t. It’s just a great song with weird lyrics and haunting melodies, so… whatever. *shrugs shoulders*
2. Bjork – “Bachelorette.” If I am in the car and this comes on… well, fuck. You may as well put me in a goddamned swan dress and call it a day. It’s over and everyone within a five-mile radius knows.
3. The Czars – “Paint the Moon.” I feel like if you don’t know who John Grant is and you call yourself a member of the LGBT community, you should probably go ahead and give yourself a good old-fashioned punch to the throat. He is a poet—plain and simple.
4. Tears For Fears – “Head Over Heels.” This song reminds me of growing up. Like making out and fucking around. I never get tired of it… like EVER.
5. She Wants Revenge – “Tear You Apart.” When I first heard this song, I nearly shat myself. Shat? Shit? Regardless, they are a throwback to every band I loved in high school reincarnated into some gothy fucking amazing synth angsty sex-slicked hands-down-the-pants outfit that I definitely wanted to know more about.
6. Thompson Twins – “If You Were Here.” Okay, so maybe I’m going to date myself here, but there’s this scene where Samantha comes out of the church in Sixteen Candles and Jake is there—fucking Jake, am I right?—and he’s got this sweater vest and these jeans and the boots that are like dipped in minwax or whatever… and he gives her this wave, right? Jake fucking Ryan. And this song is playing in the background. And he’s saying, ‘hey, like, um, do you want to get in the car?’ or whatever and she’s looking around like a fucking twat… ‘who, me?’ and he finally wrangles her in there and then basically he makes her the birthday cake and she loses her virginity (or whatever—she does in my mind)… all with this track playing in the back.
7. Britney Spears – “Piece of Me.” Because, you know, reasons.
8. Beck – “Ramona.” So, in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Scott writes a love ballad. The words are simple. “Ramona. Raaaaa-mooooo-nnnnnaaaaa. Ramooooonnnnna.” But, clearly, when the ACTUAL soundtrack came out, Beck cleaned it up a bit and may have added a few more words. I loved the original (with one simple word), but Beck’s version makes me suck in a few breaths and close my eyes.
9. Depeche Mode – “Halo.” There are fifteen-hundred Depeche Mode songs. Okay, maybe not fifteen-hundred, but you get the idea. Why this one? This one makes my pants tight. I don’t know how to describe it any other way. #sorrynotsorry
10. La Roux – “As If By Magic.” I don’t know, man. I just like it. It’s been on the list for a long time and hasn’t come off. And I never skip it when it comes on. NEVER
11. Arcade Fire – “Crown of Love.” This is the most romantic song ever written. Stalkery, yes. Borderline nuts? Um… yeah, sure, but I write. Everything I write is borderline nuts. And yeah, if you weren’t passionate about stuff/people, no one would want to read what you had to say. “Crown of Love” is a love letter. A scary one, yeah, but fuck it. You only live once.
12. Arctic Monkeys – “No 1 Party Anthem.” Alex Turner is the sexiest motherfucker on the planet. I don’t care if you disagree with me. If you do, you’d be wrong. This song sounds retro as fuck and awesome, almost as if he wrote it for some bird in nineteen-fifty-five. The way he sings is straight from the balls—hot and wet and unapologetic.
13. Arctic Monkeys – “The Bakery.” Um… see above.
14. Portugal. The Man – “Mr. Lonely.” This is one of those new tracks that has made its way onto the scene. It reminds me of an old genre mashed with a new one. Like ‘90s trip-hop meets new indie. It’s like a mix of Beastie Boys meets Portishead meets ruby meets Tricky. A new wet audio dream.
15. Lana Del Rey – “High by the Beach.” Yeah, it’s a floppy-hat girl-gets-high song, but it’s a really good one. Like a really good one. Close your eyes and just let all of your predisposed notions about her dumb ass go right out the window.
16. Chairlift – “Ch-Ching.” The chorus to this track is just fun. It just is. Actually, this whole song is fun as fuck.
17. Talk Talk – “Life’s What You Make It.” This song is older than balls. Well, hell, I don’t know how old it is, but I was young when it was out. But it was fucking great. And it’s still great. It’s the kind of song that you listen to with the windows down. Now get off my lawn, you whippersnappers.
18. Lupe Fiasco – “Kick, Push.” This track has been off and on and few times, but it’s back on this month. If you listen, you’ll understand why. It is literally about skateboarding. I mean, it’s an entire song about… skateboarding, but there’s also something else that I can never put my finger on. A struggle? Happiness? Youth? Whatever it’s about, I love it.
19. Lady Gaga – “Telephone.” Don’t… just don’t judge me. I’m not one of those monsters or whatever. I just like this one in, like, an uncomfortable way.
20. Purity Ring – “Begin Again.” Saving the best for last. I could listen to this song every fucking minute of every day. Okay, maybe not every minute, but I’ll put it to you this way. If I made a movie, I would use it in the opening credits. How’s that?

Time to put together your mixtape. Or what the fuck… just cheat and use mine.
XOXO.

Charlie.

Charlie Winters is the best selling author of several gay romance novels. Winters is the winner of the Silver RCA (Readers Choice) at the Sinfully MM Book Review Awards in 2015 and has been featured in the Washington Blade 10 ten “Summer books to read. ” Winters’ latest novel “Aki&Jamie” can be found be found in both hard copy and digital formats on Amazon and Kindle.

Being Seen

Transgender Rights activist and founder of T.R.E.E.S. Inc. Meghan Buell

We spend all, or most, of our waking hours looking around at all of the wonderful sights in our view. We look at our phones, at the TV, at the level of our beverage to determine if we need a refill. We look at a lot of things each and every day. But, how much do we really see?

As an out and proud transgender person I go about my business each day because that is what is needed to complete the to-do list. I go to the grocery store, the post office, the doctor, to wherever my list tells me to go. Most times I don’t think twice about it but every now and again I am reminded that my going places is really an opportunity to be seen. A chance to be seen by others. A moment to be seen as, well, just another person trying to figure out which avocado is sufficiently ripened. My reminder that it sometimes different is when I catch someone staring at me. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking if this happens to cisgender people or not. Doing that comparison doesn’t weigh on my goals of the day. What I do wonder, though, is what aspect of my being is so intriguing. I ponder.

I am secure in my understanding of who I am. If people take a second glance at me it doesn’t register on my “am I me enough today” radar. I usually default to “is my hair messed up?” or “is there food in my teeth?”. But never, “Am I Meghan enough for the world today?” I smile when I am the subject of extended glances. You know, just to let the gawker know that I see them. This usually ends the stare. Well, in most cases. I had a 4th grade student get caught staring at me and it ended up in a staring contest in which the rest of the 4th grade class was cheering the student on to “beat Miss Meghan”. It was fun and took a potentially embarrassing moment and made it into something altogether unrelated. The student won, by the way. They were applauded by their classmates. The moral of the story for me? Don’t be offended by the stares of others. Look them right back in the eyes and say I am visible and I SEE YOU.

Thank you.

Meghan (visible since 2009)