Thursday, July 29, 2010

Asgard

So, it's possible that I'm turning to Norse Paganism now for pantheistic inspiration. Call me crazy, but runes, drinking horns, and cows that lick the world into being are all things that make sense to me. I'm pretty sure my Elder Futhark is Hagalaz, the Rune of Disruption (and sudden, devastating hail-storms). I feel a strange sense of phantom kinship with Heimdall, who spends most of his time patrolling the border of Bifrost, listening for the distinctive footfalls of frost and fire giants. But Ragnarok is a long way off--so what's the guy doing in the meantime? Probably, he plays a lot of chess, which the Aesir and Vanir both love. After the Vanir invade Asgard and set up a monarchy, the two families of gods blend so sweetly, you forget all about their earlier internecine strife. It's less of a battle than a kind of hostile war-dance, which culminates in everybody mixing blood-lines and pretty much carrying on with what they were doing before the Vanir siezed political control of the city of gods.

The real question: will the Save the Last Dance soundtrack actually allow me to get serious work done? Let's hope.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Choose Me

I was reading an interview with the queer musician Enio, and the interviewer asks if "finding someone" has affected his music. Enio then goes on to describe the magic of meeting his partner in 2008, and how this rescues him from what we assume to be the perpetual loneliness of being an indie musician.

These kinds of interviews always annoy me, especially when they come from mainstream LGBT publications like the advocate. For starers, although I often link to the Advocate, they've always catered more to the cultural leanings of white gay men than to any other readers. They do report on stories that are significant to the lives of transgendered people, lesbians, and questioning folks (although I almost never see any mention of intersexuality or genderQueer-identifying lives and life-modes). What annoys me, though, is not the breadth of their coverage--I'm thankful that they exist at all as an LGBT publication--but the often saccharine tone of their interviewers. "And what was it like when you found...the one?"


How is an indie musician supposed to connect with queer kids when all he can talk about is how the transformative power of same-sex love has changed his life? As a listener, I'd be much more interested in hearing about how LGBT musicians can reach a wide variety of audiences, and how they manage homophobia within and outside of the music industry. I don't need to hear about how I'll feel a lot better once I settle down with someone.


Artists, both queer and straight, should recognize that being single does not mean being alone. It can be a pleasant position, and for some, singlehood is an entirely closed circuit which neither needs nor desires outside interference. I'd like to hear more artists talking about their friends, family, and supporters, rather than "the one" who finally changed their outlook on life. What was wrong with their music and attiude before they entered into same-sex cohabitation? Why is one state more artistically satisfying than the other?


Also, pets. Doesn't anyone have pets anymore? My cat helps me all the time when I'm writing, primarily by sitting on the keyboard.


I've chosen a picture of Samantha Jones in honor of the fact that she chooses to have a relationship with herself. Concentrate on this, and not SATC 2, which is an awful, vapid joke on the state of women and men, both gay and straight.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fairoaks Project

The Advocate has an article on Frank Melleno's Fairoaks Project, which chronicles night-life at the Fairoaks Hotel in San Francisco, 1978-9. The adjacent picture is called "Stair Group."

A day and a night at the Fairoaks could mean a lot of things. The acrid smell of popper fumes and stale marijuana smoke. The clank of an eight ball in a rear pocket, the rattle of chains. Low moans and orgasmic shouts heard over an endlessly played Sylvester tune, “Do You Want to Funk With Me?” Giggles. Grunts. And whispers. The passing drifts of another cool fog spied through a curtained bay window. The happy laughter of good friends getting together. The slapping flesh of one-time lovers lustily gettin’ it on.


Family Sagas

Lately, I am reading a lot of Norse sagas. This intersects, might I say a bit shadily, with my research on the Restoration and Enlightenment period, since saga-figures are reincarnated within eighteenth-century royalist drama. Ms Sám 66, currently housed at the Magnússon Institute in Reykjavik, is an example of how these periods can influence each other. The foreground is medieval, but Loki's body language resembles that of the dancing-master in William Hogarth's Rake's Progress.

I'm interested in the characters of Baldr and Heimdall in the Elder Edda (circa 950). Baldr spends his life being beautiful, then dies in an accident. Heimdall is the guardian of Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, and all we know about him is that he has nine mothers (who might be waves) and that "his hearing is lodged beneath the Ash-Tree." We're told that he hears grass growing and the world sighing.

Rings are very important in the sagas. Red Rings and Gold Rings are exchanged rapidly. A magic ring miraculously 'drops' nine further golden rings, like a litter. Sometimes, ring appears to mean anus, if we're to judge by the astonishment that its sudden usage can elicit in a conversation between two men.

In one of my favorite sagas, the dragon Fafnir lies dying. Sigurd questions him, and the two talk quite civilly. Fafnir gives a great shudder and dies, having been impaled by Sigurd's sword, and Sigurd silently collects the dragon's hoard. Nobody seems to learn anything.



Summertime, and the writing is easy....

Writing in summer can acually be tough. The weather is nice, the birds are aflutter outside, and there are so many distracting things just beyond the office window. Here are a few things that help me stay focused. Man, I really do have a pathology for lists, don't I? Maybe I should see someone about this.

Anyways:

Allow yourself to write short chapters/sections. Don't set a page limit. Instead, write as much as your mind and body will let you, and when you feel the energy starting to wind down, give yourself a breather.

Incorporate the outside world into your writing. Describing a summer day can actually be inspiring, and soon, you'll be concentrating on the textual breezes and bird-songs of your own design, rather than the enticing ones outside.

Drink iced coffee. Seriously. It's the same as regular coffee, but it doesn't make you sweat. And once the ice melts fully, you end up with a third-of-a-cup of diluted, cold liquid, like a chaser.

Go somewhere air-conditioned. Seating is always the most important consideration, and after that, wifi access. If you can't leave home, find out where the cat's sleeping and set up camp there. Cats always know where the coolest spot in the house is.

ps: the picture of Lafayette Reynolds above is purely to give you an idea of how you should be dressed for summer writing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kele, 'Everything You Wanted'


Kele is the lead-singer of Bloc Party. He's releasing a solo album, called The Boxer

10 great things about Cathedral Village in Regina

1. Roca Jack's. A purist's coffee house, with two tables (always occupied), jars full of aromatic beans, and chocolate-pinwheel cookies.

2. The Fainting Goat. It has global cuisine, outdoor seating, and high spirits.

3. Paper Umbrella. It satisfies all your card and fine paper needs.

4. Buy The Book. Lots of used books crammed efficiently into a small space. The staff will never bother you, or even make eye contact with you unnecessarily.

5. 13th Ave Coffee House. You can get delicious meals here, including vegetarian bowls that remind me of the Naam in Vancouver.

6. Fiesta Filipino Bakery. Excellent pork buns and sweets.

7. Viet Thai Restaurant. Always open, in flagrant disregard to sacred holidays.

8. Coda Clothing. Cute hoodies and bright vestments, for aging hipsters like myself.

9. The Mercury. Real cheeseburgers and beer on a patio: do you need more?

10. The Bar. Called 'Outside' to some, but known simply as the bar to those of Sapphic and Marlovian persuasions.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Beau et belle

Timothy Metzner meeting Belle at the France Pavilion, Disneyland. From The Advocate. Priceless.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

18th Century Ship

As well, the remains of an 18th Century ship were unearthed today underneath the site of the former World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. I felt I needed to share this too. There's a nice picture of the vessel's ribs here. I feel like, come next year, once the excavation's further along, Eighteenth-Century and Romantic scholars will be fighting over this 32-foot piece of a ship. In other news, I need to write this chapter so that Tess can have lunch with ____ and ____, then go visit _____ at the drop-in. And after that, I finally get to write the part where ____ figures out how to watch all of _____'s hidden _____s. Okay, maybe this post is really just a thinly-veiled ode to Mac Flecknoe.

Writer OCD

Was just about to start on a chapter, and had a moment of panic. All systems were go. I'd put on writing music (Massive Attack), Blackberry was positioned next to the laptop (with my cat as the desktop picture--go me). Ninja Hippo card was sitting adjacent, sending me good vibes. Copy of David Higgs Queer Sites: Gay Urban Histories Since 1600, sitting next to the Ninja Hippo card, to remind me of the general awesomeness of David Higgs.

But where was my ball?

I looked behind the laptop. The rainbow hacki-sack was sitting there, next to the one-eyed soapstone rabbit and my USB key. I squeezed the ball. Okay. Now I was ready. And also painfully aware of the fact that I have Writer OCD. My schedule for the day/night usually unfolds like this:

Make coffee. Wait for coffee. Stand in kitchen, reading, while waiting for coffee.

Transport coffee to desk. Reassure myself of Hervey's presence (Hervey is my BlackBerry, named after the Second Baron, John Hervey. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu said, "there are men, there are women, and then there are Herveys.") I squeeze the ball, and it's time. I've also changed the background of my MS Word, at least in Draft Layout mode, to a really soft minty-beige. It eases my eyes, and also reminds me to floss.




Friday, July 16, 2010

Botineras

In honor of Argentina's legalization of same-sex marriage, I thought it appropriate to post a clip from the telenovela Botineras (Wags/Footballers). This is the first kiss between El Flaco (Skinny) and Lalo, and is obviously unsafe for work, since it contains a surplus of homoerotic energies which may, if you're at work, physically transform you into a gay Argentinian futbolista.

Also, there's a bum. Sorry everyone, it's South American TV, and bums are pretty much the new middrift nowadays.

Colossus

The first appearance of Colossus in X-Men, Season One. Juggernaut is also featured in this episode. In my Spanish version, Colossus still sounds Russian, and is fairly easy to understand. Guepardo is the hardest, because he speaks in a husky Canadian whisper. Jubilee remains my favorite because she screams a lot, which makes it easier to conjugate what she's saying.

I feel that this image is a precursor to the Ultimate X-Men version of Colossus, who comes out to Nightcrawler and then starts dating Northstar. Frankly, nobody is surprised, least of all Jean, and Nightcrawler's reaction to this seems to be more an indictment of German Protestantism than anything else. The romantic in me enjoys the fact that the Russian and the Québécois enfant terrible get to be an item.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Argentina legaliza matrimonio entre personas del miso sexo

Argentina recently legalized same-sex marriage. Pictured to the left are Jose Maria di Bello and Alex Freyre, the first gay couple to marry. You can watch an interview with them here, although you'll have to endure a few seconds of gay tourism advertising.

For more information on same-sex marriage in South America, check out the CNN report.

Brazilian tango competitors


Rodrigo and Gustavo dance the tango. If this clip had existed when I was thirteen, nay, twelve years old, I would now be a professional dancer. I wish I could understand the Portuguese, but at least one of the judges seems to enjoy it. The judge in the yellow shirt looks like a slightly more hostile Piers Morgan.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"A Day in Gay America."

This photo is from an Advocate spread called "A Day in Gay America." The picture is of Wyatt Macki, a 17-year-old competitive dirt-bike racer.

4:04 p.m., near Rapid City, S.D. Clad in his racing gear, 17-year-old Wyatt Maki shows off his 2010 Honda CRF250, “which I just bought recently,” he says. “I’m an avid racer and thought it would be interesting to show a young, out (and proud) athlete.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Queer Pictures

I stumbled upon the photography of Greg Endries today, by way of The Advocate. His compositional style is really interesting. And I'm always a champion of gnomes in the arts.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Writing Tips

Here are the 5 things I wish another writer had told me when I was 21. Why 5 things? Because I love writing advice in list-form.

1. Writer's block does exist. It strikes everyone in different ways, but it will creep up on you. A good way to tell if you're blocked is to look at your schedule and then revisit what you've done for the past 3 days. Case in point: blogging when you have a manuscript due. If you chose to indulge in a Gilmore Girls marathon instead of finishing your chapter, it's probably writer's block. There are a few ways of dealing with it. You can force yourself to write. This is hard and often requires silence, or at the very least, a familiar movie soundtrack. You can drink, do drugs, and then write whatever comes to mind. I don't recommend this as a permanent solution, but it does tend to produce excellent haiku. One of my tricks is to write myself an email with just dialogue, no descriptors. A good dialogic volley can sometimes get you unstuck. If it's an absolute emergency, I turn to the Double-Chocolate Nestle Sunday, or re-watch crucial episodes of Buffy, often in tandem.

2. Querying an agent is easy. Writing your query letter takes forever, because you need to distill everything down to three irresistible paragraphs. But to actually send the query, all you have to do is begin it with Dear [Agent], and click SEND. Don't be afraid to send an agent something. It's their job to read queries, and the agents I've worked with all seem to really like their jobs. So nobody's going to laugh at you for sending a query-letter. And if you don't know how to write one check out Lynn Flewelling's Complete Nobody's Guide to Query Letters on the SFWA website.

3. You will not be able to choose the cover of your book. But most presses will allow you some feedback, and don't ever miss this chance to influence the image and design. Covers sell books, as well as serving to identify genres through symbolic imagery. Yes, your heroine will probably wear a tank-top. It's unavoidable. But the right artist can really make the background come alive, which is as important as the figure in the foreground.

4. Read everything before signing it. Ask your agent about anything you don't understand, and they'll do their best to explain it to you. When emailing your editor, always .cc your agent so that she can keep abreast of everything that's being planned for your book. You'll hear both of them talking a lot about the book 'earning out its advance,' which basically means that it's made enough money to cover whatever they paid you. Most books don't earn out their advances, and if this happens to you, congratulations: you're a writer, and a member of an amazing group of people. Make sure to lean on them often. In my experience, writers tend to be full of information about their genres, as well as other unfathomable subjects.

5. The only way to get better is to keep writing. Don't worry about being a novelist. Worry about finishing each chapter, or poem, or fragment. Be rude if you have to. Excuse yourself from public events. Lock yourself in a computer lab, or your bedroom, or the laundry room, even, anywhere you can write in peace. Don't worry about what appears on the page. You have lots of time to deal with it, revise it, fall in love with it, or ultimately dispense with it, and all writing is good experience. It also helps to make bad life decisions. These include: split-second travel plans, pub crawls, new relationships, old relationships, experimental sex, rash appliance purchases, loan applications, and offers to publish work for free. Also, really listen to people when they tell you stories, because if you can remember enough, you'll be able to hijack it later. Friends, family, and lovers are not immune; on the contrary, they're your richest source.





Romance Salad

This clip from Parenthood will always be one of my favorite moments in a Romantic Comedy, a genre defined by directors like Ron Howard.


Interestingly, the 2009 TV spinoff is actually pretty good. But I'm also a sucker for Craig T Nelson, and Bonnie Bedelia may be one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. I keep wanting Drew to declare himself bi, following in the footsteps of Marshall on United States of Tara. They practically dress the same anyway.

The dancing scene from Hettie Macdonald's Beautiful Thing has always struck me as particularly romantic, as well as strangely patriotic.


The bike-riding scene from Téchiné's Les Roseaux Sauvages is a favorite of mine as well. And later in the film, there's a sexy swimming scene.


But for sheer romance, nothing beats "Bella Notte" from Lady and the Tramp: