Monday, January 24, 2011

Clearly Perfect Glasses

The deal of a limetime!
I got a pair of glasses today I ordered from
The AMAZING thing is they were $300 frames, I got for $38, and that included anti-glare and scratch proof lenses.  Plus I had a $10 off coupon so I got them for $28. 
It's hard to find glasses in a store that fit my big head but their glasses are easily sorted by frame size. 
I ordered them on Thursday and they came Monday morning.
I got Transitions lenses for an extra $60.
Why would anyone ever buy retail again?!?!
I'm officially in love with this store.
Here's me in my new glasses, you can click to enlarge:
Here they are transitioned:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Archives fun

I'm at the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives tonight and my usual co-lead Gerry is away on vacation. 
I have a helper, Gord, who knows about as much as me, which isn't much. 
To top it off there's a huge reception here with local celebrities and we've had 7 researchers come through requesting things I don't know.
Gord suggested we shut off the lights and put a sign up on the door saying "Cholera Epidemic".

I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

Been thinking lately as snow and cold and dark has made me contemplative and able to do little else.

I know from going on my gay cruise twice previously that near the end of the voyage the pressure to conform can be overwhelming, and a feeling sets in, something along the lines of “Why can’t I be like everybody else?” Something as I grow older I realize everyone feels, to varying degrees.

On a daily basis I am appreciative of all I have and who I am. I have found though a lot of pressure to conform on this cruise, leading to thoughts of “Why aren’t I thinner?” “Why can’t I dance til 5 am?” “Why didn’t I buy $200 shorts?” and most importantly “Why can’t I just not think of this stuff and dance and smile like everyone else?”

Now if I sit, and go through this issue by issue as I’ve been doing, I come up with some surprising results.

Regarding appearance, I do realize you can’t have it all. I was watching the UK version of Big Brother and the very attractive and gay Charlie was asked by another fellow why the two hadn’t hooked up yet. His response? “I haven’t been drunk enough yet.” The fact that this for him was a valid response, spoken without malice, floored me. But I suppose a life of smiling pretty and dancing with your shirt off doesn’t really school you on the depths of human emotion.

Also what I found interesting with this show was that I found the unique looking bisexual Freddie MUCH more compelling and HOT than the Mr. Gay UK finalist Charlie.  If I find the uniqueness hotter, others must too.



And a final thought on this, I recently bought a digital watch. I’ve never had one before, and it reminds me of something I have heard some simple, pretty people say when they have seen clocks with Roman numerals or dashes instead of numbers, that they can’t tell time without numbers on the face of the clock. So I thought to myself, if I could keep my brain in tact and be the most handsome man on the planet, would I give up the ability to tell time without numbers, or would I rather stay as I was? The answer was I would rather stay as I was. My uniqueness, my individuality, is my identity. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Regarding dancing til 5 am and $200 shorts, these again are things that seem ideal in the abstract but that I don’t actually want in principle. Would I like to stay up til 5 and miss every port of call? No. Would I like to stay up til 5 and get 3 hours sleep a night? Hell, no. Would I give up $200 worth of cool art books for a pair of shorts? No again. So while these things may drift through my head, after following them to their conclusion, I will let them keep drifting.

And the final one, perhaps the one that dogs me the most: Why do I need to run this over in my head? Why do I need to contemplate? Why can’t I just smile and dance like everyone else?

A couple observations on this: Firstly, the ability to not tell people you haven’t been drunk enough to sleep with them, to weigh people’s feelings, does not come without reflection.

Secondly I spoke to my dentist about this concept. She said “Adam, who you are, who people meet on the boat, is who you are in Toronto, you are yourself, always, and that’s what you offer. Others go on these trips and pretend, put on a mask, try to convince themselves and others. You are always you.”

I think the essence of this entire exercise, the raison d’ĂȘtre, is self-acceptance. And although part of the reason I wrote this out is to have the analysis BEFORE I got on the cruise, not during, what I now get is that I will still have some of these feelings, no matter what I do. That’s all a part of me. And rather than fighting these thoughts, rallying against them, coming up with strategies to avoid them, just accept them as part of the parcel and have that be okay.

People talk about changing themselves and wishing for things to be different, in general I don’t. Every day I wake up and think “This is what I’ve got to work with today, this mind, this body, this life, let’s make the most of it!” Self acceptance isn’t the easiest road to get to the end of, but hey, a thought, there isn’t an end. There is, like life itself, just the journey.

And that, like me, is okay.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Review: Man's World and London Triptych

Man's World by Rupert Smith, Arcadia Books, 2010
The cover of the book describes it as "funny, dirty, deeply romantic" and I can see why that would help the book's sales, but it really isn't any of those things, so don't be expecting them.

What it is instead is a very vivid portrait of life in two time periods, late 50's and modern day, told though the eyes of two likeable characters. The story alternates between both tales and both are interesting. Nothing earth shattering happens, but that's not really the point. The story goes into great depths about the feelings and emotions in each time period, and draws them together at the end but not too neatly, leaving some connections for you to pick up yourself.

One supposes a cover saying "An in-depth character drama that will keep you turning pages" wouldn't sell, but it should. This book is done well, it's never dry or dull, it keeps you flipping the pages and at the end has characters I'm glad I knew. It also illustrates a time and a life I have little concept of. Best gay book I've read this year.

London Triptych by Jonathan Kemp, Myriad Editions, 2010
Similar to the book Mans World, this book covers gay men in London during separate periods, this book covering three periods, 1894, 1954 and 1998.

There are moments of brilliance in the writing, with fluid, vivid description and a beautiful turn of phrase. When one of the characters has sex with a man for the first time, the author perfectly captures it, the feeling of release, of knowing who you are, of succumbing to a desire, all captured perfectly.

For all the book does well however there are flaws.

The first story centres on a prostitute associated with Oscar Wilde and doesn't ring true. The concept seems too out there to be believable and the character speaks more like a university graduate than someone who never finished first grade.

The second story is the best, a gay man who has lived a repressed life in fear of the law and his own desires. This story is the best executed and you'll find yourself hurrying through the other stories to get back to this one.

The final story, of a jailed hustler in modern times, is barely worth mentioning. The story is annoyingly told in second person ("You did this. You would like to go to the store..."). Slowly we find out who the "you" in the story is but I finished the book yesterday and I already forget. It's not believable, and while the other two stories deal with the biggest themes of their time for gay men, this one is about someone jailed for stealing a car, it doesn't fit, and should have been left out.

Overall more highs and lows than Man's World, a deeper story, but one that doesn't always work.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Apology - Factory Theatre - Next Stage Festival - The Review

I have seen very positive reviews for this play, coupled with the nudity warning, ensured another sell out today.
This play likes to think it's trying hard, but the cracks show through, and ultimately it leaves you feeling unsatisfied.
The story centers around Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, and three friends who form a polyamourous, pan-sexual group. An interesting story in itself, but here it's presented like the movie Cruel Intentions.
One gets the impression the author was so focused on telling this high minded story she forgot to include things like likable characters. The male lead, Shelley, is so dynamic the other three fall for him and form this bond, but we don't see evidence of this magnetism, just a lot of pouty people in their early 20's bemoaning the state of the universe.
Similarly in the staging, the inclusion of an instrumental version of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance is perfect as a modern update with a late 1800's feel, and very relevant to the story. But the costumes, hoodies and button-fly jeans, just present that the actors were too lazy to wear anything else than what they had on that day. There is no nod to the time period when the play is set which can feel confusing. Also the actors in their designer underwear just present as people who had to be seen in their underwear and wanted to look good, it has nothing to do with the show. It's just another way the actors, like the play itself, refuse to look beneath the surface.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Apology - Factory Theatre - Next Stage Festival

Disaster. Tried to go see today's 3:15 show of The Apology starring Brendan McMurtry-Howard, the talented red-head from Studio 180's The Overwhelming and last years best Fringe show which I'll have to look up when I get home as I forget the title (Sia).
For some reason I thought there would be no one at a show the day after the year's biggest snow storm. I thought there would be no one at a show at 3:15 in the afternoon. Finally my mind blanked and I totally forgot where the theatre was. I went to Spadina instead of Bathurst, got off at King instead of Queen and walked North instead of South. By the time my brain started working and I had hiked over there it was 3:13, and I saw the show was sold out. 
To add insult to injury, the guy in front of me was buying the very last emergency ticket and was $2 short, and I gave it to him!  Talk about being a chump. 
Bought a ticket for tomorrow's 5:30 show, review to follow. 
Off to Chinatown to drown my sorrows in $4 pork before heading home. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Misanthrope - Tarragon Theatre

Farce is rarely done well and all modern theatre goers should be wary when a play is advertised as one. It usually means Monty Python-esque ridiculous, as it does here.
The play is presented in verse, with a never ending series of rhyming couplets spoken at great speed written with a heavy use of a thesaurus. I think I have a large vocabulary but no one who sees this play will understand all of the many five dollar words interspersed throughout.
There are no likable characters, the dialogue is rushed and wordy and spoken in rhyme, so it is difficult for the brain to register everything being said. Any effort made to do so is further hindered by long tedious soliloquies on the problems of modern culture or the plight of the middle aged white male.
An interesting gauge of a play's response is to pay attention to the audience.  At the beginning of the play there were great peals of laughter all around, I assume from simple people so enchanted with the notion of a play presented in verse. As time went on and the words got longer and the sentence structure more complex, those laughs died out and were replaced with the intelligentsia, realizing that laughing would show they understood and were in on the joke. By the end of the first act, all the laughter stops, and the only sound is the silence of indifference.