Friday, March 29, 2013

The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal

The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written in a very straight-forward writing style, the style is a little too direct and at times comes off as amateurish. It took me a little more time to get used to this and the self-hating narrative that usual.

Written in 1948 and revised in 1965, I decided to read the revised version and then to re-read the last two chapters on the original to compare the endings. Much has been made about the revision, most people think it was censored at the time and revised later due to laxer standards, but this is not the case. As Vidal says in the introduction, he was encouraged to censor aspects of the 1948 edition and didn't. The 1948 edition is very gay, very obvious and really remarkable for it's time.

I believe the book was re-written mainly as a lot of gay men in 1965 were stepping out of the self-hating phase and moving toward liberation, and Vidal's original seemed dated. I don't know that the re-write was really necessary, although I suppose it did keep the book in the spotlight longer than it otherwise would have been.

The book starts off with a decidedly 1940's feel, as seen in this quote:

"After breakfast Christmas morning, Shaw telephoned his mother in Baltimore and talked to her for half an hour, regardless of the cost"

A whole half hour!

The book, even the '65 edition, still leans to melodrama, as shown by this quote:

"None suspected that he had forsaken the Church because he was homosexual. For a long time he had tried to exorcise the unnatural spirit, demanding furiously of God that he be freed of this terrible inclination. He prayed continually. But in the end, God failed him, and he turned to Hell. He studied a book on witchcraft, celebrated a Black Mass, tried to sell his soul to the devil in order to be free of lust. But the devil had no use for him either, and so Paul Sullivan abandoned all religion."

I know a version of this happened to a lot of gay men, but the one does not result necessarily in the other. God and religion letting you down doesn't necessarily lead to devil worship, especially to the sell your soul extreme. This being said though, I do remember in this period of my own life flipping through the Satanic Bible, so maybe it's not that far off. It's just over the top.

I suppose I liked the revised ending more, but not by much. They were similar, and for most of the book the aspects I enjoyed were the history parts of gay life in the mid-century, with the characters being secondary.

An example of something that was removed from the 1948 edition is the word 'abnormal' below:
"One night Jim visited a mixed bar; there were both normal and abnormal people here."

This over-stating of a future Utopia where everyone was out was also removed in the later edition:

"For by an open love of other men as well as of women wars might cease and a new period might come about; one in which there would be more peace and more self-fulfillment than there is now."

There's a lot of put downs in this book, and the characters generally do it to themselves. They torture themselves to feel tortured, they can't accept themselves and they can't change. The more I read of this, the more this point of view turns from a tired old cliche to a sad state of being for a generation of lost souls. This sad state is worth reading.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gay magazines have a problem

In response to

Why Fab Magazine meant nothing to me, and why that’s okay

I find the biggest problem facing gay publications is and always has been the dissension in the community and the lack of support for these publications.
I went for a focus group at Xtra looking to give opinions once on what I liked and disliked.  When the host asked the group what we liked, I was surprised to hear everyone say in unison "Nothing." 
When asked what we would change, the entire group in unison "Everything."
It bothers me.

Comments like the above "It was shit", "I lined my bird cage with it", "Nothing ever spoke to me" are what killed this magazine. Now we don't have local gay press.  Is that really better?

I remember reading an article about the new Jeffrey Round mystery that led me to go to Glad Day and buy a Canadian author's book.  I remember an article by Todd Klinck about escorting that told me it was okay to push the boundaries of my sexual comfort. I remember election coverage profiling and interviewing the candidates in my riding and asking them about LGBT issues.

When I read magazines like OUT, every issue has letters "I can't believe it, I'm never reading your magazine again!"  Rather than hate, why not try to make it better?
Why is there so much hatred? I've got to think it's homophobia.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had been wanting to read this for a while, and while there were parts I enjoyed, overall I was indifferent.

I liked the interplay between Doug and Nate, and I liked the old woman`s crazy banter until the dogs started talking for paragraphs at a time, then it kind of lost me.

Speaking of kind of lost me, a very in depth study into the American banking industry which I didn`t fully understand. I didn`t understand the short sale that led to the crisis in the book, it was very American-centric which I didn`t really care for, and similar to the movie 'Margin Call', I'm left with a sense on a decent story and characters without the knowledge to back it up, or really the desire to learn that knowledge.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RuPaul's Drag Race Season Five

Watching the show last night, I was struck by just how much I love it.  Time and life stops when I'm watching this show, I could live in that moment.
I wanted to rate the final queens and give my take.

Girl is SO inconsistent!  Sometimes she looks fierce, sometimes her makeup looks like crap. Her and Roxxxy, sometimes you can contour too much.
Her attitude, it seems like every week there's a new problem for her.  And the weeks she has a problem, she fails.  When she can get her shit together she does well, but it doesn't happen often enough.

5. Roxxxy Andrews
Look at the photo below, particularly the one on the right. Unless you're going for alien chic realness, this is not the way to do your makeup.  The middle of her face looks like Casper the friendly ghost and the top and bottom look like J-Lo.
Inconsistent with her outfits and attitude, I haven't seen the fire to win.

4. Alyssa Edwards
Yes, she can't sing. Or act. Or be funny. But she does have something the two above girls don't, likeability.  Being likeable is important, remember season 2 winner Tyra?  She was a bitch, and no one was happy she won.
Alyssa can turn it out on the runway and the lipsync, but eventually her lack of talent will catch up with her.

3. Detox
Remember the Detox from episode one, pictured below?  Neither do I. 
She had the look and the fire, but being part of the group dimmed that a bit.  Once Roxxxy goes, I expect the fire to get turned back up and she should make it to the final three. It may be too little too late, though.

2. Alaska
I feel it was too soon after Sharon and too similar.  Sharon had more of a hunger to win, like "I am going to take all these bitches out with my 6" fingernails" fierceness. Alaska has less of that.
I like her, the outfits are good.  Just not quite good enough.

1. Jinkx Monsoon
You had me at Little Edie.
When all the other queens are like "Who's that?  Your choice is stupid!" Jinkx committed and pulled it out. When you stay true to yourself, you can't lose.
I don't think anyone has ever handled Michelle Visage so well.
She is the nicest queen ever on the show.
If Jinkx can stay true to herself, she will win.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Plenty more fish

Weird and very far away.  Can't actually distinguish a nose or ears.
 Your best photo has red eye?
 Your best photo is of you unconscious?
 Serial killer.
 Unless you are a lobster, this doesn't work.
You look stoned.  BAD LIGHTING!
Your best photo you're covering your mouth? 
I can't tell this person's race or gender. 
Do you live in the dark?
If your best photo hides your entire face, you have problems. 
What is hiding behind the glasses?  Also Serial Killer part 2. 
Who is this woman, your wife? 
Which one are you? 
Shadows, far away. 
Unless you're a gangster.... 
I do like the elephant, but again, can't tell your race or gender from this distance.  Also shadow.  The trifecta! 

Plenty of Fish: Do's and Don'ts

I 've only been on this Plenty of Fish a couple days but I've already come up with some do's and don'ts.  I see the same mistakes repeated again and again.

1. Have multiple photos where you are smiling and people can see all of you.

I see people who have one photo, it's taken from 80 feet away and they're pouting.  Or two photos, one with dark hair, facial hair and sideburns, and another with light hair and clean shaven.  Unless you're in the witness relocation program, pick a look you want to showcase.

I have like 10 photos, showing my face and my body, and some were taken yesterday.  When I see a guy with one photo and it says "2007" on the photo, that's not good!

2. Trying to hide something makes you look bad.

I have a friend who says before he puts up a picture, he retouches his age lines, makes himself look thinner, gives himself a tan and some muscles.  Then for the whole date he has to sit in the dark with his coat on.  Don't do that.

If you have a few extra pounds, don't put "average" for your body type and then hide behind trees for the entire date.

3. Confidence is attractive.

I think the best way to show confidence is by what you don't say.  For example, "Looking for a genuine person" is better than "So many people on here play games and I can't stand it.  Everyone is so fake, what's wrong with all you people, is honesty too much to ask for?  What am I doing wrong?"

Get off the cross, we need the wood.

4. Check your message for clarity and spelling.

I found one profile, the headline is "Not looking for anything serious."
The first line of the body is "SERIOUS PEOPLE ONLY!"
This is what we in the business call confusing.

5. No one word replies.

I message people and say "Hey, I like that TV show too!" or bring up something else from their profile, and they write back "cool." Just don't write back. 
The sad part is I know some of these people writing very short replies ARE interested in me, but they still keep it way too short.  If I mention something about your profile, you should take the time to mention something you like about mine, or at least elaborate on my question.  If you can't be bothered and overcome your shyness on the internet, I can't be bothered to continue.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Plenty of Fish

I took out a dating profile on Plenty of Fish on Friday night, I had one date today and have another tomorrow.  I'm not sure what I'm looking for though, I don't know if I want a relationship or not.  Is it possible that I've been single all this time because I like it?  I think it may be.
Anyway, I found this on the site, which I thought was interesting. Why are women coming up on my profile?

Women’s Top Ten Favorite
Conversation Topics
1. Hopes and aspirations
2. Hobbies/interests in general
3. Music
4. Dreams
5. Romance
6. Friends
7. Travel
8. Vacations
9. Movies
10. Entertainment

Women’s Top Ten Least Favorite
Conversation Topics
1. Politics
2. Other dates
3. Past relationships
4. Science fiction
5. Religion
6. Celebrities
7. Science
8. Antiques
9. Money
10. History

Women’s Top Ten Date Picks 1. Restaurant
2. Taking a romantic walk
3. Park
4. Coffee shop
5. Live music
6. Comedy Club
7. Zoo
8. Bowling or Playing Pool
9. Amusement Park
10. Movies

Top Ten Restaurant Types for a Date 1. Casual dinner
2. Pub
3. Retro bar with live music
4. French cuisine
5. Ethnic
6. Pizza place
7. Western
8. Salad bar
9. Sushi bar
10. Family dinner

Women’s Top Ten Favorite Ways to Have Someone Flirt with Them
1. Talks about things she likes or dislikes, making comments and showing interest
2. Displays concern for her, her feelings and well-being
3. Shares jokes or amusing anecdotes with her
4. Compliments her on her screen name, attitude, personality and appearance
5. Sends her special/cute email messages
6. Makes an effort to contact her in some form most every day
7. Chats with her when you are online at the same time
8. Discusses seriously the traits she desires in a partner
9. Shows her your daring or mischievous side
10. Emails her greeting cards, gifts, pictures songs or fun attachments

Friday, March 15, 2013

RIP Wilfried Knight

I was moved this week by the death of gay actor Wilfried Knight who committed suicide a week after his partner committed suicide, a victim of modern 2013 homophobia.  I wanted to reprint his last blog post below as I feel it will be taken down from his site.

And finally the truth about LULULEMON, a supposedly caring Yoga minded company (and i practice yoga, just saying)

Posted by wilfried on 03 Mar 2013 / 2 Comments

I invite anyone to check on LANDMARK and whichever name i cite.

I want to money, even if offered, no personal attention, i just want what happened to my partner and i never to happens again.


My partner, as a solution to the problem of being able to stay together, was hired by the Yoga Company LULULEMON. Man, was he proud, not only to be a part of this renowned company, but also for the fact he was able to keep us together. Since we were married in Canada, once he would get a visa by his employer, i would automatically get a spousal visa.

Which we did. Everything seemed rosey. That said, Jerry was naturally a sweet man, he had no idea what he was getting into. In fact he had been hired as a manager for the IVIVA branch of LULULEMON, which in fact was in a bad way, when it comes to sales. What he didn’t know is that his superior, Bree STANLAKE, was about to go on a year Sabbatical. Remember Obama taking over what mess Bush had left, well, about the same. The brand was not doing well. And Jerry, typical to his nature, took it all very much at heart and wanted to make it all better, trying to change the brand, putting it up to date, while Bree was opposed to it..Well she would be away for a while so it was easy for Jerry to be a figurehead for the failing. So she went away.

In the meantime, Jerry had not realized he did not only got hired by a company but also somehow entered a cult: Yoga had to be done at 7 am, if you wanted to fit in you would have to drink soy milk, be emaciated, bitter, eat tofu, and pretend sushi would be the only worthy food..As far as i am concerned our grandparents did not have any of those and were perfectly fit and fine. Since when is processed soy any good for any caucasian? Diet fads are so, just for the individual to believe they are above the masses and feel self entitled to judge another.

Jerry got judged and told off for being seen having a glass of wine on week end, got told off for having his own life outside the rank (eerrr as far as i am concerned when you work you still have a life). Then of course he was put through the training that any LuluLemon employee has to go through: LANDMARK (Is that German for Scientology?): the training that reduces you to the mass, tells you that humans only are machines, that our feelings are illusion…and he made one major mistake: he answered back. From then on he was called again and again, several times a day to take part in more training, they would not leave him alone.

In the meantime: an frustrated (i wont say in what way but you can imagine what i mean, you would see her, you would understand!) decided she had it against Jerry who was desperately trying to move IVIVA forward: Bridey Payne (what an appropriate name). What she didn’t know is the Bree STANLAKE, supposedly her friend, wanted to get rid of her a while back. And that Jerry actually wanted to protect her. She made a nightmare out of Jerry’s life whose productivity was limited by her monopolizing attention. She ended up taking a sick leave for “personal issues”. Never mind the fact she was seen within a month of it partying her head off in the Burning Man festival. Awwwwwww she must have been really sick, right?

From then it is all downhill. Any employee seen as wrongdoing is given some time to adjust with a warning. A homophobic newcomer, Only there for two weeks, Paul ZAENGLE, gave Jerry a warning on a tuesday….and fired him on the following friday, backed up by human resources Margaret WHEELER, who since then dared to pretend sending me sincere condolences. It just was constant professional backstabbing.

Jerry did one major mistake in LuluLemon: he stayed himself, he was an individual but thrived to be good for his company, but also good to people. He often listen to his staff break up stories (Jenny, rings any bells?).

From then on, he was given 3 months severance, 1 week benefit and told by LuluLemon lawyers “oh do not worry, you can stay in the country and look for a job, we will back you up, just do not leave the country” without saying any straight answer to whether he still actually had a valid visa or not. So what is a lawyer for then?

And on his visa depended mine. He only discovered he no longer had one when trying to get sleeping pills to cope with the stress: his canadian card was no longer valid.

You also have to put his stress into perspective: trying to look for a job in Vancouver after leaving Lululemon is almost impossible since no one will dare to go against Chip Wilson’s pretty hate machine.


Add to that: the people who told him: “do not worry, we ll help you get a reference” no longer responded his calls or texts. Sherry Watterson, for example, remember me? How hard would that be to say “ i cannot help you” rather than ignoring texts? Is it that hard?

Jerry was a figurehead for IVIVA s demise and people who were behind it still manage to sleep peacefully and face themselves in the mirror.

OH and i forgot: we later found out that a straight couple who also was fired by LULULEMON got offered better severance and money to relocate. Hmmm, i guess a straight family seems worthier than a gay family. No surprise here.

All comes down to: a very sweet man who was successful and actually CARED and expected people to care back. LuluLemon s motto is “friends are better than money”. Yeah right. It should be the opposite. To those people i say: i wish i had the strength to send you a photo of Jerry Hanging from a rope foaming at the mouth..You know what it is like to hang your man good bye when he is stiff and cold, and knowing he never should have died that way?



-LULULEMON IS SIMPLY AN EVIL COMPANY WHO IS NOT WORTH THE CREDIT THET GET. YOGA HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE KIND OF PHILOSOPHY THEY PRACTICE (and i practice yoga, i love it, but i dont do it just because i want to look better than the other and entitle myself to judge)

-LAWS SHOULD CHANGE FOR ANY GAY INTERNATIONAL GAY COUPLE: my partner left clear signs he wanted me to die with him, to follow him, therefore had no will after our 9 years relationship. My marriage is valid in Canada, NOT in the USA, therefore his family gets it all, when i get nothing. Well he got on with them and trusted them. Again he believed in the good of people.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Green Carnation by Robert Smythe Hichens

The Green Carnation by Robert Smythe Hichens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure why there are so many negative reviews of this book. I could quite easily imagine someone really enjoying it.

I had read on Wikipedia that this book was pulled from the shelves in 1894 after Wilde was imprisoned for the gay content in the book, which is not true. In the 1948 reprint of the book, the author states he pulled the book from the shelves voluntarily after Wilde’s imprisonment as he thought it would be in poor taste to satirize a man facing hard time in jail. The author mentions hearing about unlicensed American reprints in the early 1940’s and deciding to re-issue the book at that time.

The author is famous for his work satirizing the 1890’s, the “naughty nineties” I think they were called, so I was expecting this book to be more of a send up than it was. Wikipedia in defining satire says “its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon” which is what we get here in The Green Carnation.

I was wondering if the author, Hichens, was gay himself, but he died in 1950 so it’s hard to know. He never married, and even Wilde married, so that’s a good indication I suppose.

I had anticipated more of a send up of Wilde, making him look ridiculous, and instead got this book penned by a possibly gay devotee. I will agree that the novel does fit the Wikipedia definition, in that there is a lot of constructive social criticism. In fact that’s pretty much the entire book, with the plot, Wilde et al go to the country and scare the locals, a little lacking.

The book starts off exploring Wilde (as Esme Amarinth) and the world around him:

"I only saw about a dozen in the Opera House to-night, and all the men who wore them looked the same. They had the same walk, or rather waggle, the same coyly conscious expression, the same wavy motion of the head. When they spoke to each other, they called each other by Christian names. Is it a badge of some club or some society, and is Mr. Amarinth their high priest? They all spoke to him, and seemed to revolve round him like satellites around the sun."

And once the group is assembled, Wilde spends most of it pontificating on life:

“Virtue is generally merely a form of deficiency, just as vice is an assertion of intellect.”

"These strawberries are very good," he said. "I should finish them, only I hate finishing anything. There is something so commonplace about it. Don't you think so? Commonplace people are always finishing off things, and getting through things. They map out their days, and have special hours for everything. I should like to have special hours for nothing. That would be much more original."

Much of the book is discussions on sin and virtue. In some cases the book becomes a portent of things to come, such as the following about injustice:

“Good people love hearing about sin. Haven't you noticed that although the sinner takes no sort of interest in the saint, the saint has always an uneasy curiosity about the doings of the sinner?”

"Society only loves one thing more than sinning," said Madame Valtesi, examining the moon magisterially through her tortoise shell eyeglass.

"And what is that?" said Lady Locke.

"Administering injustice."

I had read other reviews that said the gay issue wasn’t apparent, but for 1894, I found it pretty open:

“A man is unnatural if he never falls in love with a woman. A boy is unnatural if he prefers looking at pictures to playing cricket, or dreaming over the white naked beauty of a Greek statue to a game of football under Rugby rules. If our virtues are not cut on a pattern, they are unnatural. If our vices are not according to rule, they are unnatural.”

Followed by:

“To be unnatural is often to be great. To be natural is generally to be stupid.”

In the author’s 1948 introduction he details the three times he met Oscar Wilde before he published the book, and the most interesting part of the book is to picture Wilde pontificating as he must have done at the time. I thought the following, said of Wilde in the guise of Mr. Amarinth, summed it up beautifully:

"I don't care to hear the opinions of Mr. Amarinth," she answered in a low voice. "His epigrams are his opinions. His actions are performed vicariously in conversation. If he were to be silent he would cease to live."

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