Sunday, December 13, 2009

I call foul

It is 3 AM in New York, and I am wide awake. As usual. So, to fill the endless hours of not-sleeping goodness, I decided to catch up on my Glee, which was 3 weeks behind. If you are not caught up, you might want to stop reading now. I'll leave a nice big space so you have time to avert your eyes.

OK, all good? Here's the thing. I have had problems with the show in the past, particularly with its treatment of disability. But I was willing to overlook them because of the good things it was doing, like casting actually disabled actors to play disabled people. No, not Artie. I mean Becky, the cheerleader with Downs, and Sue's sister with Downs; both actresses actually do have Downs Syndrome. Kudos to Ryan Murphy for that.

But the last few episodes got into heavily misogynist territory that I suppose was foreshadowed by the total lack of positive portrayals of adult women, and I'm just not sure I can go back to it. I mean, of course I will--I study musicals for a living--but with more reservations than I had and with far less enthusiasm. Let me give a brief rundown for those who missed it:

1. Terri Schuester was featured prominently. Never a good thing, as she is a one-dimensional character who consists solely of all of the negative stereotypes about well-off white women rolled into one unbelievable irritant. The existence of characters like Terri in popular media (at least two of my students wrote about Glee on their final exams) is what leads directly to several of my female students asserting confidently that one characteristic of being a woman is being manipulative and "deceiving."

2. Sue Sylvester got suspended from work. Not really a bad thing, as the character is a horrendous influence on her students, but the way in which it happened involved Principal Figgins smirking at the camera, having finally gotten the better of her. The scene made it crystal clear that he had felt "emasculated" by her authority and had now "put her in her place." Ugh.

3. Britney the cheerleader finally had some lines. At least she's maybe a lesbian; that would make her marginally interesting. The rest of her character is patently useless and reminiscent of that stupid Barbie that said math was hard. Toss in some offensive lines about seizures and you have a particularly poisonous cocktail.

4. Emma Pillsbury tries to make life decisions on her own. Clearly they are fatally flawed decisions until she lets a man make them for her. I don't even want to begin to explore this one.

5. The most troubling for last. The scene in which Will finds out that Terri isn't pregnant was horrifying. Flat out terrifying. It drew upon countless scenes (both filmed and, presumably, real) of husbands confronting their wives with evidence of "misbehavior" of some kind, scenes that usually end with acts of horrendous violence against women. This one didn't, but for me it triggered almost the same feelings in anticipation. When he demanded that she lift up her shirt, ostensibly to reveal her pregnancy pad, it was with enough anger and venom in his voice that it could have been the prelude to a rape scene. Especially since they had already introduced the "Will wants to have sex but Terri won't let him see her naked" theme earlier. Watching him demand his marital right to see Terri's body, and physically grabbing her wrist to do it, was nauseating, off-putting, and just completely beyond the pale.

Compare the episode in question to this post on Shakesville featuring Patrick Stewart campaigning in a gut-wrenchingly personal way to end violence against women. Clearly, powerful white men in "the industry" have no compelling need to be misogynist assholes. It's a deliberate choice, and an indefensible one. I will be writing a letter to the producers to let them know, as soon as I can figure out how/where.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What are they watching?

As my students have turned in another paper, and as I have finally finished grading that paper and have some time to kill during the final exam, I herein present to you the list of full-length films/musicals/operas/video games from which they have each selected one specific song, also listed below, as their objects of analysis. Note that not all of these topics actually fit that rubric; that was merely the assignment, not what they actually turned in. How boring to read papers that actually answer the question!

Chicago, "We Both Reached for the Gun"
A Chorus Line, "Montage" (all the performances on YouTube are awful; you choose)
Grease, "There Are Worse Things I Could Do"
Gypsy, pretty much all of the songs, but more "Rose's Turn" than anything else
Hercules, "I Won't Say I'm In Love"
High School Musical, "Get'cha Head in the Game"
Phantom of the Opera, "The Point of No Return" and "All I Ask of You"
The Producers, "Springtime for Hitler"
Victor/Victoria, "The Shady Dame from Seville"
West Side Story, "America"
Mulan, "I'll Make a Man Out of You"
Mulan, "I'll Make a Man Out of You"
Mulan, "Reflection"
Rent, "Today 4 U"
Rent, "Light My Candle" and "La Vie Boheme"
Rent, "La Vie Boheme"
Rent, "La Vie Boheme"

American Psycho, "Simply Irresistible"
Do the Right Thing, "Fight the Power"
Frida, "Burn it Blue"
Garden State, "Let Go"
Party Monster, "Go!"
Pretty Woman, "Pretty Woman"
Spice World, "Spice Up Your Life"
Vanity Fair, "Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal"
White Chicks, "A Thousand Miles"

Soulcalibur (video game), Talim's entrance music (no recording exists on YouTube, at least not that I can find without knowing the name of the piece)
Bessie Smith, "Empty Bed Blues"
Nightwish, "Phantom of the Opera" (A Finnish heavy metal cover of the song, not actually taken from the film or the musical)
Beyonce (ft. Lady Gaga), "Video Phone"
Beyonce (ft. Lady Gaga), "Video Phone"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Onward and Upward

It has been brought to my attention that the Blag is both out of date and horribly depressing at the moment. Since I've managed to avoid blagging World AIDS Day and the NY State Senate marriage debate, I should be able to find some happy to post! Or at least bittersweet, if not totally happy.

There will soon be the now-standard post of "Music my students have chosen to write about," but I am too lazy at the moment to actually pick up and leaf through the stack of papers, so I will put that off until next week. For today, instead, I want to talk about two things: Ruth Hassell-Thompson and my upcoming life change.

Ruth Hassell-Thompson is a state senator from Mount Vernon, NY. She is an elderly Black woman, one of ten children of her preacher mother, including a sister who became her mother's successor. And including a brother who was gay, and who had to spend his life in France because New York was not a safe place for him to be a gay Black man, and his family of ministers certainly wasn't welcoming. Senator Hassell-Thompson outed her brother on the floor of the NY Senate, in one of the most moving speeches I've heard on the topic of marriage equality, linked above.

Let me explain why this is moving to me, if I can. It's not just that I always cry when I hear straight people express unconditional support for my right to exist, though that is true. It's not just that I expected the NY Senate to be devoid of any honesty, emotion, or human dignity, though that is also true. And it's not just that it was another story of an LGBT person who tragically lost his family to bigotry, though that, if you see the pattern, is also true.

What moved me even more about Senator Hassell-Thompson's speech was the little details. 50% of her constituency, she says, called her and asked her to support marriage equality. Her district is mostly Black, with some Puerto Rican areas, and includes some very, very poor parts of the Bronx. People who would make racialized claims about who supports rights for gay people would do well to look long and hard at Senator Hassell-Thompson's district and at the state of Maine.

Senator Hassell-Thompson's eldest brother was gay, but she had never acknowledged that in public before speaking in the Senate on Wednesday. For an elderly, Black, religious woman to speak about a gay relative in a non-condemning way is still far too rare. I have had many conversations with religious Black women here in LA about marriage for gay and lesbian couples, and the results are often disheartening. This is not to undercut my previous point, but simply to acknowledge that churches of all stripes (or rather, most stripes; thanks, Unitarians!) have played a huge role in drumming up homophobia wherever they can, and that in heavily religious communities we often do extremely poorly.

"There have been very few decisions that I've had to make in my life that I've spent as much time contemplating as this particular issue." That's how the good senator opens her speech, and it's crucial. Rational thought and human emotion are our allies in our ongoing struggle, and we need more people to spend time contemplating, like Hassell-Thomspon. If everyone thought about it, and if everyone saw the emotions of those in their lives who are suffering, we would win instantly.

But enough about her speech. Go watch it; it's at that link in her name. Cry a little. Remember that after that speech, 38 of her colleagues in that room voted against her. Get them out of jobs and looking for work. Now, on to my promised second topic.

I will be moving to New York within the year. I am hoping to move gradually in June-September 2010, but it may happen more suddenly or more quickly, depending on circumstances. While the circumstances are shitty in the extreme, I am doing a not-so-depressing post and won't talk about them. The good thing is that I will end up in The City! I am so very excited to finally get to live there, as I have wanted for most of my life. Subways that go places! Buildings with multiple stories! Taxis that exist solely for the purpose of terrorizing pedestrians! Jaywalking!

I could go on about the things that make NY exciting to me, but the more I write the greater the chance that nobody will finish reading this entry, so I think I will cut it off here. Get ready, Empire State! I'm a-comin'.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Have you heard yet about Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado? He was a 19-year-old Puerto Rican boy who was murdered this week. Not just murdered, but decapitated, dismembered, and burned. I don't know in what order all of these things happened to him. Today the Puerto Rican press reported that his suspected killer was found with not only a knife and a burned piece of PVC pipe, but also a wig. Jorge's wig, presumably. You see, he was wearing the wig, along with women's clothes, when he was killed.

Maybe I'm using the wrong pronouns for Jorge. Maybe she was trans and not yet out, or at least not out to the newspapers. Or maybe he was just a gay man who was dressed as a woman. Or maybe ze was neither, or both, or unsure, or in between. The fact remains that no matter what this person's gender identity was, the killer used the following justification:

He said that he did not know that it was really a man and they went to his apartment in Cidra, where [Jorge] allegedly told him to have anal sex with him, which provoked anger in him and caused him to murder him. He also said that... under a fit of rage he injured him, dismembered him, decapitated him and then later took his remains to Guavate where he was left.

I can't breathe right now. Not after this. This is mere weeks after the passage of the hate crimes bill, days before International Transgender Day of Remembrance, and this man is using the same bullshit trans panic defense that killers of trans women always use. "I didn't know she was really a man so I killed her."

This boy may not have been trans. Maybe I am, in fact, misappropriating Day of Remembrance to draw attention away from the T and back to the G, and that's not what I want to do. What I want to do is cry until he comes back to life. What I want to do is to be able to tell closeted kids that it's really safe to come out, as any of the letters of the alphabet. What I want to do is irrelevant. This boy, this young man, is dead. He won't come back.

The brutality of the attack is crippling. Decapitation isn't something that often makes the news. Decapitation and dismemberment and immolation? This comes directly out of our rigid gender codes. This is the result of both a severely disturbed individual and a society that encouraged him to believe in a gender binary and to fear deeply those people who call that binary into question.

We can't bring back Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado. We can remember him. We can tell other people about him. We can be thankful for having the chance to survive beyond the age of 19. And we can work like hell to make sure that this is the last time the trans panic defense is used in this country, the last time anyone thinks they can justify their own deep-seated misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and violence by pretending that someone else's gender "made me do it."

This Friday, remember Jorge. Remember the 117 other people who were murdered this year because of their gender identity or expression, most of them women of color. In Los Angeles, you can remember them here:

West Hollywood, California, Friday, November 20, 2009, 6:00 PM
The event begins at Matthew Shepard Human Rights Triangle (Santa Monica Blvd. at Crescent Heights) where there will be an unveiling of the first Transgender Memorial Plaque, commemorating those who have been murdered due to anti-transgender
violence and hatred. For more information, please contact Karina Samala at 213-999-0456.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I didn't think this would happen.

I'm actually having flashbacks to last year's Election Day. I'm having crying fits that are not related to my own personal issues.

One year ago, minus five hours, I was waking up to be a dispatcher at the West Hollywood office of the No on 8 campaign. I had gotten about three hours of sleep, and I was about to work a 17-plus-hour day. I was dressing up nice and warm for the early November 4:00 AM chilliness that passes for Autumn here, and I was preparing to survive on donuts and Tootsie Rolls.

And, as Maxwell Smart would say, loving it.

I wish I were in Maine, in Washington, in Kalamazoo. I wish I were feeling the intense adrenaline surge that is the only thing that makes a campaign possible. I wish I were on the ground, in the fight, doing my part.

Instead, I will be trying to simulate that feeling on the phone, getting out the vote as best as I can from thousands of miles away. I will be crying in between calls. I just hope that when I am crying at the end of the day, as I know I will be, the tears are happy tears. I hope that my friend who got married in California and then moved to Maine will still be married at the end of the day.

I hope that the blood and the sweat and the tears work this time. They're all I've got to give.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


It is 2:30. No sign of impending sleep. I have been trying to sleep, off and on, since about 6:30. That makes a total of 8 hours. No dice.

Le sigh.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lists, lists

In lieu of content, I provide a list of the music that my Music and Gender students have selected to write about for their first paper:

2Pac, "Keep Ya Head Up"
Alice in Chains, "Over Now"
The Beatles, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
Beyoncé, "Ego"
Britney Spears, "Every Time" [sic]
Britney Spears, "Piece of Me"
Celine Dion (and Peabo Bryson), "Beauty and the Beast"
Ciara, "Like a Boy"
Dashboard Confessional, "Hands Down"
Franz Schubert (performer unknown, so I chose Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau), "Erlkönig"
Jason Mraz, "Coyotes"
Jeff Buckley, "Lover, You Should Have Come Over" [sic]
John Mayer, "Daughters"
Judas Priest, "Victim of Changes"
JUJU featuring JAY'ED, "Ashita ga kurunara"
Katy Perry, "I Kissed a Girl"
Lena Horne featuring Q-Tip, "I Got Rhythm"
Maria Mena, "Sorry"
Mariah Carey, "Touch My Body"
Maxwell, "This Woman's Work"
The MC5, "Kick out the Jams"
Mika, "Grace Kelly"
Miley Cyrus, "Party in the USA"
The Pixies, "Tame"
Rex Harrison, "Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man?" [Technically, "A Hymn to Him"]
Santogold, "Creator"
Shakira, "She Wolf"
Shania Twain, "Man[!] I Feel like a Woman"
Taylor Swift, "Love Story"
"Zelda's Theme" from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

and not one, not three, but TWO papers on "Lola" by The Kinks!

In other news, my personal life is quite hellish at the moment, and I am super, super grateful for my friends who have all been amazing as the world crumbles. I am beyond reluctant to discuss matters in this public forum, but feel free to contact me for all the painful details.

In other, happier news, Bea Arthur has left $300,000.00 to the Ali Forney Center, the largest organization in the country (the world?) for homeless LGBT youth. What a woman.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Personal and/or Political

This weekend has been a long one, and not in the Columbus Day sense. It's been full of activities both pleasurable and painful, personal and political, and above all alliterative.

Actually, I meant to say that the activities were often a complicated intermingling of those four adjectives, but then I noticed that they all started with the same letter, and I got distracted. The letter of the day today has clearly been P; we served plain, pepper, pepperoni, and pineapple pizza at our phone bank. Plus pastries. On paper plates. But I didn't sign into Blogger today to talk about the letter P.

I've spent the last hour watching speeches from today's National Equality March and yesterday's HRC dinner. The speeches made me cry, but that's hardly news. They also made me think about politics, activism, radicalism, liberalism, the System, religion, and various other concepts of a poorly-defined and contentious nature. Including Barney Frank, a poorly-defined and contentious legislator if ever there was one. My thoughts are still a bit vague for airing in public, but they will trickle out as I work them into coherence.

Before watching the speeches, I trained a phone bank at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center to call voters in Maine and urge them to oppose Question 1. That's where all the P-themed food was. That's also where I once again donned the lobster hat that has adorned my Facebook profile these recent days. And where I ate myself into a stomach ache without even consuming a meal, for the second day running.

Moving on back in the chronology, my stomach ache yesterday came from deciding that four doughnuts would be an appropriate breakfast substitute. I was, in fact, quite wrong. Yesterday consisted of a voter canvass (source of the doughnuts) and a dinner of mostly cupcakes, with some soup and fried eggplant to supplement. My innards were not happy. My tongue, of course, was thrilled.

I did not actually talk to voters about gay marriage yesterday; I ran the logistical end of canvass day with the boyfriend (yes, I have no nickname for him still. I still think talking about him will make him vanish, so shhhhhh...), then made sure the site was set up for the canvassers' return. Better for my stomach than walking around in the sun for two hours without a bathroom, but less immediately politically useful.

So what is the upshot of all this political action (and political-action support)? What is on my mind after a canvass, a phone bank, watching all of those speeches, and reading various blogs about National Coming Out Day?

My uncle, as I've mentioned here before, has bladder cancer. My grandmother, I found out today, has ovarian cancer. My father will find out on Friday if he has prostate cancer. And my mother has an appointment with Doctor #5 in two weeks because we still have no idea what she has.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Two words

Two words that should look more alike:



Really, they should. They rhyme and everything.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


The Mysterious X and I have declared this month officially SKELETON WITH BRAIN MONTH! If you should care to visit our humble abode, you will observe the reason we have thusly declared.

We are seriously considering declaring next month and the following month SKELETON WITH BRAIN MONTH as well.

In other news, I don't want to clean my room. But I also don't want to let it be a sty anymore. I am considering torching the place instead. Am I eleven years old?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A survey

Of all the religions in the world, which one do you think is the least religious? That is to say, which religion includes the largest number/percentage of people who identify with that religion while simultaneously identifying as atheist, agnostic, irreligious, non-believer, etc.?

I'm torn between the Jews and the Anglicans, but there are strong contenders in the Catholics and Unitarians.

Monday, September 28, 2009

UC Apocalypse

Two things coincided this morning to depress me about the state of our "higher education" institution that we call the University of California. First, an email from the music librarian including the following information:

Hours for Fall Quarter will be Monday, Thursday (10-8); Tuesday, Wednesday (10-6); Friday (10-5); Sunday (1-5)...all print reserves (books, scores, printed articles) will be located in [another building that is only approximately near the music building]

This reads as: the Music Library will now be essentially useless except as a storage facility. Nothing can be checked out before 10 AM or after 6 PM most days. Any book you decide is essential for your students to read will be removed from the building so as to ensure that they will never actually read it. Thanks, UC Library, for prioritizing the arts!

Second, this post by Dean Dad about our beloved (hah!) president's interview with the Times. Gee, he sounds like a real winner, doesn't he?

Way to go, California. Way to go.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

'Tis the Season

It's officially fall now, folks, and that means it's Election Season! In honor of this, my favorite season, I give you a quick round-up of LGBT-related political issues in these United States!

On or before Novemeber 3rd, in Maine, vote No on Question 1 to keep marriage legal for all Mainers.

On or before Novemeber 3rd, in Washington (State, not DC), Approve Referendum 71 to keep domestic partnerships legal!

On or before Novemeber 3rd, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, vote Yes on Ordinance 1856 to keep non-discrimination the official policy of the City of Kalamazoo, even for LGBT Kalamazooians (that can't be the right word). The opposition to this is particularly disgusting and transphobic.

All three of these campaigns need help. Financially, if you're not local to them, but also through volunteering your time if you are there. As happened in California last year, people are feeling very confident that the good guys can't help but win. That's just not true. Forget about logic, about reason, about everything you thought you knew about simple human decency, and believe that we are at risk of losing ALL of these fights. If you are in California, I can hook you up with a way to help out in Maine.

In non-ballot-based LGBT politics, try calling your federal representative and senators about supporting ENDA (HR 3017 and S 1584), the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that has a chance of being the first federal law explicitly granting rights to LGBT Americans. Once you've covered that issue, be sure to mention to them that the Uniting American Families Act will make it possible for gay people to sponsor their partners for immigration. If they're still listening, you can bring up Jerry Nadler's proposed Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and allow state-recognized marriages to be recognized federally. Politicians need an earful of passionate advocacy to make the medicine go down in the most uncomfortable but effective way.

Those are the hot-ticket items for the politically-oriented LGBT community at the moment, but there are lots more issues to get worked up about. Try this one on for size. It may be the most important one we've got right now.

Fun with Fotos!

Check out this picture, from the front page of

It strikes me that they're in a classic Western showdown set up. The camera is from the perspective of Billy Gates, the villainous cowboy (and, most likely, cattle rustler) who's been terrorizing the impoverished, one-horse town of Europe for far too long, and he's keepin' his eagle eye fixed on the shootin' hand of Sheriff Neelie Kroes, Europe's antitrust chief. If I had photoshop and some skillz, I'd add in the tumbleweeds and the holster on her belt. Plus, I'd edit out the guy on his cell phone.

I'd say the photographer is painting a pretty nice portrait (mixed-media metaphors are fun!) of what an antitrust chief does. She's bringing the rule of law back to this here town, where for too long the common folk have been forced to use Internet Explorer.

Things I find interesting about the photo:

1) The sheriff is a woman, at the center of the shot, and looks to be much more confident than any of the men around her
2) The attitude seems to be pro-anti-trust. Which is somewhat unusual in modern American mainstream media.
3) Look at the giant Polish sign! Don't forget about Poland!

My favorite quote from the accompanying article:
Inside her office, her tough image is reinforced by the presence of a cube-shaped, metallic sculpture of prickly rose thorns, and a brick on her conference table with the word “no” inscribed on it.

Can I PLEASE have an office like that!?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Am I to go through the weary round again?

Sometimes, insomnia happens. It comes in bursts, usually a week at a time or so. As it is currently 5:03 AM and I have yet to sleep, I must assume that now is one of those times. A few days ago I went to sleep at 6:00 AM; I think tonight I might outdo even that dismal affair.

When I'm in the grip of this condition, I always feel like I should be able to use my extra waking hours productively. Sadly, that is never the case. When I can't sleep, I also can't think, or do anything useful. I stare at screens, blankly. I skim books and magazines and newspapers, never taking in any of the words. Eventually, I eat, but I don't really enjoy it.

Whine, whine, whine. I should just medicate myself and be done with it, but I don't really trust pills, especially those that affect my sleep cycle. Those particular pills and I have a spotty history. Remind me to tell you about the time that I took one Benadryl and passed out on the floor of an Irish pub. Hilarity, of course, ensued, as it is wont to do.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I am sitting in the airport in Portland, Oregon, having reached the end of my five-day vacation visiting Violesbian in Eugene. The trip was (has been) excellent, and is rather neatly chronicled by the new items in my luggage and on my person:

Approximately one pint of blackberries, picked in the alleys and along the streets of Eugene, in the Friendly Neighborhood
Assorted gifts of the handmade variety, purchased at the Saturday Market in Eugene (details of which will not be divulged until they have been presented)
6 books from Powell's "City of Books" in Portland
1 dozen (correction: 11) doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut in Portland

And innumerable cat hairs from Isabelle and Sophie, affixed to my sweatshirt.

My flight boards--I must cut this shorter than intended. Thanks for the free wireless, Portland Airport!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick hit

Today, in the tourist town of Sisters, Oregon, a small boy dressed like Adam Lambert told me I looked like John Lennon.

Monday, September 14, 2009


The inside of my head is a mess. Thoughts are disjointed:

That woman who was murdered at Yale was engaged to be married to an acquaintance of mine from high school. I still think of him as about 14, since I haven't seen him in years; I never met her. I have a very good friend studying at Yale right now and I don't want her to be murdered. I don't want anyone to be murdered. I hate that this might be some kind of serial killer of women students.

A very close relative may have prostate cancer. A more distant relative definitely has bladder cancer and is having many organs removed. Mom's prognosis isn't the greatest right now either.

I intended to keep this list of disjointed thoughts going a lot longer, but they've all gotten tangled.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The System Is Down

I have been having problems with the internet. Not the usual problems, like I can't go to sleep because there's so much on it, or commenters on various blogs make me want to punch holes in the walls, or similar there-is-too-much-internet-and-there-are-too-many-people issues. No, these recent problems have been of a more technical nature.

Exhibit A: Facebook News Feed. Yesterday and today, Facebook decided to recycle a bizarre selection of posts from the last week and tell me that those were the ONLY posts I'd be allowed to see. They were non-chronological, and mostly came from people whose posts I generally ignore.

Exhibit B: Gmail. Yesterday, I couldn't get a secure connection, and so my browser flipped out and kept shouting long strings of letters and numbers at me in the place that usually says "" A few days ago it was down entirely. Today it disconnected me in the middle of writing an email and refused to save a draft or allow me to attach files.

Exhibit C: Pepvan. For those of you who have never had the joy of working with the system that runs basically all left-of-center voter-related campaigns, you won't understand. It's a steaming pile of system errors and buttons that lead nowhere, held together with twine and silly putty. Don't get me wrong; it's far, far better than non-computerized systems, and it's a godsend for keeping track of not just voters but also volunteers, but it's got problems. If any of you are programmers, you could probably do a great deal of good for political leftists by donating your time to fixing it. I hear the Republican version is sleek, smooth, and elegant.

Exhibit D: Safari: sometimes the scroll bar is missing. I don't know why. I just have to quit and reopen or there's no way for me to see anything below the top of a web page.

Exhibit E: Adium: Normally a wonderful instant message program (handling my gchat(s), AIM, Facebook chat, and the like), it has decided of late to stutter. I will receive an "instant" message at 5:17 PM. Then again at 7:08, the same message, no longer instant. 7:42, another reprise. 9:30, a final encore. This all seems to be through Facebook chat, so perhaps it is related to the eternally looping news feed. Irregardless, its iteration is irritation itself!

How's that for some vocalic alliteration? Did it cause you to miss the fact that irregardless isn't a word at all? It sure fooled my spellcheck...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Word of the day!

The title of my last blog entry, in conjunction with a recent game of Facebook Scrabble with Z2, reminds me of a great word I never really have the chance to use:


Why doesn't that come up more in conversation? Anyone?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


There are many things to get angry about in this article in the New York Times about Obama's upcoming health care speech. John Boehner, of course, is always worth a face-reddening rage. Olympia Snowe, as usual, remaining unique among Republicans in being open to discussion? Another signal to get mad as hell. Death panels, ditto. So, yes, I expected this article to make me angry

But here's the thing that got me mad in a totally un-expected way. I was sideswiped by

White House officials said Congress could also drop proposals requiring the government to create school-based health clinics and collect nationwide data on health and health care by race, sex, sexual orientation and “gender identity.”

Supporters of the House bill said such data would help reduce “health disparities,” but critics said they feared the government could assemble a database that posed a threat to personal privacy.

After my recent post on scare quotes, this ground my gears. "Gender identity" and "health disparities"!? Health disparities is at least in a grammatical position that might allow for it being an actual quote, but gender identity is not. It's just Sheryl Gay Stolberg (no pun intended) and Carl Hulse--or their editor--diminishing the lived experience of trans people in an all-too-common way. People of differing races, sexes, and even orientations are totally real, while trans people are something the Democrats must have just made up for this health care bill.

Let's not even address the actual issue being raised in that section of the article. I'm already angry enough.

Monday, August 31, 2009

An excellent weekend

Several things went well this weekend, and I shall explore those several things in list form, as is my wont.

1. Vote for Equality canvassed voters in very close proximity to the Station Fire and nobody (a) caught fire or (b) breathed in enough smoke to do damage.

2. I made cookies that were so delicious that I made them again. Chocolate cookies with cinnamon, white chocolate chips, and dried cranberries. I feel a shade ill after eating untold quantities of cookies and dough, but way more relaxed than I have been in ages.

3. All of my laundry is done and put neatly away, as are all of my DVDs.

4. The cramped bromeliad has been repotted in a larger and less disposable pot, with real potting soil.

5. Nikolai has been bathed and had (some of) his nails clipped and seems not to have resented it too much, though it was rather harrowing at the time for all concerned.

6. I spoke at length with friends I had not contacted in far too long.

7. I spent a great deal of time with a rather delightful young man who still lacks a code name. Suggestions from the studio audience?

A few things went less well, including the abrupt cessation of my bathtub drain to function as such, and the failure on my part to contact a few other friends the details of whose lives are sadly unknown to me at present. I intend to remedy this last by next weekend at the latest, so if you feel I have neglected you of late, please don't hesitate to demand my time (I'm thinking of A New Car! in particular, but there are others...)!

A closing thought: several acquaintances on the east coast are now heralding the approach of Autumn on the intertubes. I wish we had that season here! Please send dead leaves, thunderstorms, and Edgar Allan Poe by express mail so that I may simulate my favorite season in this blistering desert.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thoughts on being "home"

I am in my parents' house, lying on the bunk bed that my sister and I used to share many years ago, in the room that was once ours, then was just mine, and now is sometimes mine and sometimes a storage room. The floor is littered with my luggage, clean laundry, and discarded formalwear from last night's wedding, plus a few cardboard boxes that didn't get the message that, right now, the room isn't for storage. One of the boxes has a chandelier in it, but not one I've ever seen before. It's odd.

Being in this room causes problems for me. It's dusty; I sneeze all the time, and my eyes run and itch. It's full of things that were mine and had meaning but now aren't and don't. It reminds my body of very unhealthy parts of my life, and so when I'm in it I can't sleep at all and I can't stop eating. I want to tear this room out and make it over again, get rid of everything in it and make it entirely not-mine or entirely mine, not this musty memory of a me that was closeted, depressed, and compulsively peeling the paint off of these walls. At least my parents have had it painted, so that tangible reminder is gone, but the color is the same, and I can still feel the sting under my fingernails from when a sharper chip would get lodged there and draw a little blood.

My father is an ally in laying siege to the fortress of the past. He wants to un-me the room, to make it something else. My mother is a formidable opponent, desperately seeking to change nothing about it, to pretend that I still live in it, that I am still the child she was raising then. That I still need her to take care of me.

I can't win the remodeling fight. As things stand now, I don't have the heart, when she lives with this room daily and I don't, to demand change that would hurt her and only occasionally help me. There is one thing, though, that may give me the energy to take steps: I may need to live in this room again.

I had a long talk with my father today. He isn't doing very well with Mom's illness. She isn't either, of course, but she won't discuss it. Or anything else, for that matter. She goes through her daily routines (crossword, work, shopping at the thrift shop or the historical society, dinner, bed), but she doesn't seem to care much about them. She certainly doesn't care about anything outside of the routine; absolutely nothing sparks her interest, intellectually or emotionally. She doesn't call her friends or answer their emails unless Dad nags her. She doesn't talk to the family. When she's home, all she does is sit and run her fingers endlessly through her hair, sometimes reading, occasionally eating something, but usually just sitting.

If things get worse, if either Mom or Dad just can't handle things, I may be coming back here. I don't have explicit plans to do that. I don't want things to get worse. I would rather not uproot my own life. But I am keeping myself open to the possibility of this little green box being my room again, for at least a few months. If that happens, and again that's a big if, I am going to do something about the way the room makes me feel and behave. Starting with getting rid of this damn bunk bed. I mean, really, who has a bunk bed anymore?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Looking for something to do this Fall?

Operation Rescue, a group that bills itself as "the leading pro-life Christian activist organization in the nation," and that recently made headlines by buying George Tiller's clinic after his brutal murder, is running a campaign they call 40 days for life. Their campaign seems to involve a lot of standing around Planned Parenthood clinics and aggressively praying at people, plus presumably brandishing those oh-so-convincing photographs of aborted fetuses. If you have any spare time or money, Bitch Ph.D. has a few suggestions about how to use them to help your local clinic deal with this "Christian" menace. I've linked above to OR's page for their LA women's "health" protest location (remember John McCain and his women's health scare quotes? That was a high point in American electoral politics. Please note that my use of them here is ironic.), Family Planning Associates near Wilshire and Vermont. FPA could probably use some escorts for women attempting to use their services during the 40 days.

On the topic of scare quotes, I'm developing an affection for the term "Christian." It's my new go-to word for people who pretend that their Christianity justifies violence, bigotry, and complete intentional ignorance of the world around them. It serves to distinguish "Christians" like Operation Rescue from Christians like the Evangelical Lutheran Church. This distinction is helping me get over my leftover Prop 8 instinctive nausea every time I hear the word Christian (as in, "Do you support the right to marry for gay and lesbian couples?" "I'm a Christian!"). I've also debated about broadening the distinction by hyphenating the word: Christ-ian. I like to think this punctuation emphasizes the fact that supposedly these people are followers of Christ, one of the most accepting, loving, forgiving people the world has ever (possibly) known. "Christian" versus Christ-ian, to me, neatly encapsulates the difference between people-who-make-me-want-to-vomit and people-who-make-me-tear-up-in-a-good-way.

As an atheist with no stake in how people personally relate to Jesus, I may be somewhat out of line in labeling Christians as "Christian" or Christ-ian, but to me it's about how you treat people in this world, not what you believe about a potential other world. And since this is just my personal blog read by about 2 people, I feel pretty safe in my sweeping generalizations.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A quick survey

Each time I fly east, another gay icon dies. Who will die this weekend while I am visiting my parents and going to a wedding?

I am hoping that it is NOT Betty White or Stephen Sondheim. I'd be okay with Larry Craig or Martina Navratilova. Or Patti LuPone. Just don't tell her I said that. She scares me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Two things that irritate me

There are many things that irritate me. Here are two I would like to focus on for the moment, though they don't necessarily have anything at all to do with my current life situation.

(1) The conflation of age and wealth. I have seen this from many sources over the years, and it smacks of two complementary shades of class privilege. I'm sure you've heard it, the assertion that maturity equates to fiscal stability, that a real grown-up has passed the "student" phase of life and can now support hirself. Sound familiar?

This both denigrates any poor adult, ignoring the possibility of existing as both mature and destitute, and assumes for "everyone" the luxury of having a student period of one's life in which money is in short supply but educational capital is being gained so it all balances out in the end. I can't stand this attitude. I am relatively poor, and will probably stay so even as I get older. I come from a fairly wealthy background, and I did/do have the luxury of trading in potential financial capital for educational, but I don't see it as something that I will then trade back for future financial prosperity. And I am far from the poorest adult in Los Angeles.

To return to a common refrain of mine, ride the bus. You'll see a lot of totally mature adults who still have to pinch pennies.

(2) Supervisors who are unwilling/unable to do the work of the people they supervise. I had a boss like this once in my library-worker days. She was (briefly) in charge of the entire library, but completely incapable of as simple a task as checking a book out to a patron. She didn't last long in that job, a fact for which I remain grateful, several years later.

This naked incompetence, however, pales in comparison to the boss who considers it beneath hir to do the work of hir underlings. You may have known such a boss. Ze sneers just a little at the things that you do all day. Ze thinks your work is probably not worth the time it takes to complete, but assigns it to you anyway to keep you busy. Ze is a foreman who never works a day on the assembly line, an executive chef who won't chop carrots, a bureaucrat so important ze can't possibly talk directly to someone who needs help with their insurance paperwork.

If you can't or you won't do it yourself, you have absolutely no right to tell anyone else how or when or even why to do it. Get your damn hands dirty. Work side by side with the people you direct and they will respect you a lot more.

I'm thinking of making a series out of posts about things that irritate me. There are so many. Stay tuned for (3) People who stand in the middle of the aisle at the front of the bus and (4) The constant smell of urine around Laurel Animal Hospital. That should do nicely for our next episode.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Things are looking up

Many positive things today. First CSA box, overflowing with lovely (local, organic, cooperatively grown, cheap-as-dirt) produce. Dinner with friends who may or may not have code names yet, but whose designations I have forgotten; I shall call them Bebop and Rocksteady, in honor of cowboys, cats, and one of the best cartoons of the 1980s. Long conversation with a friend I never see, code name BoD I believe. I really need to start remembering the code names I invent. Also, started re-watching the sixth season of Deep Space Nine, and it turns out that Major Kira's hair is back to the right color. Finally.

Most positive of all, however, was the conversation with parents. No medical news as such, but good news of other kinds, mostly psychological/psychiatric. I am feeling far better than I have of late, largely due to this news. Thanks to all who have put up with my moodiness and general intolerability; as morale improves, the floggings should let up.

Also, Slings and Arrows delights and amuses me. And makes me miss the theatuh. Can I please have two charming old British men to provide real-time comic relief and sing funny Shakespeare songs? Please?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Long day

Today was an extremely cranky day. Everything that happened made me sulk more. Great. What a way to spend the day in between two twelve-hour workdays.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Up and down, back and forth

Today had highs and lows. A few of them:

1. Armenian string cheese. Clearly a high.

2. Overslept for the first time in...two years? More? Low.

3. Pillow Talk, starring Doris and Rock, plus Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter, Mary McCarty, and others. Very, very high.

4. Had some abrasive moments at work. Felt shitty all day as a result. Tried to combat this with Reese's peanut butter cups. Felt sick on top of shitty as a result. Low.

5. One of my wonderful temporary coworkers is staying around an extra several months! High!

6. Missed a call from a friend I hadn't spoken to in ages and really wanted to talk to. Low.

That's all I think I want to go into here and now. But hey, getting back into the blog is a high too. We'll see if that sticks.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A few updates

1. I am back in California, and have been for a while.

2. I am working full time at Vote for Equality. It is utterly exhausting, often frustrating, and superbly distracting.

3. Skittles are now officially vegetarian!! I don't know when this changeover happened, but I am so, so grateful.

4. My mom is waiting on news/test results from the latest doctor. Nothing so far.

5. I am seeing someone. Not in the therapy sense; in the dating sense. Thus far, it is a happy thing, but I feel that announcing things on the internet has a tendency to make them spiral into a whirlpool of confusion, disarray, and imminent dissolution. Therefore, I will restrain myself from posting at length on this topic.

6. I will be on television on Monday. I anticipate my fifteen minutes of fame being limited to about two actual minutes, but we shall see.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

No business like it

On this trip to New York, now so near its end, I have seen two shows. One was the off-Broadway Coraline, a musical adaptation of Neil Gaiman's eerie, unsettling children's novella. The second, tonight, was Broadway's Next to Normal.

I have many thoughts on both shows, but only a few I want to put into writing at the moment. Coraline was enjoyable, and Stephin Merritt's music was suitably otherworldly, but emotional connection was largely absent. I think that was intentional, as the entire production aimed at alienation and displacement, but it left me feeling a bit empty afterward. Luckily a confection that appeared to be a Reese's pieces tart (who knew?), which I discovered at a nearby bakery, took care of that emptiness.

Next to Normal was fucking brilliant. Just the best experience I've had on Broadway since...Avenue Q? Probably better than that. This may not come as a shock to anyone, but I cry at a lot of plays, movies, whatever. For this one, I was crying from the first scene through to intermission, and for most of the second act as well. The emotion was right there, but not cheesily overstated. The singing was excellent, particularly from Jennifer Damiano as Natalie and Kyle Dean Massey, replacing Aaron Tveit as Gabe. Damiano, by the way, is also an amazing piano mime--she faked a Mozart sonata while singing and did it well enough that even from my bird's eye view (in the very last row) of her fingers, I believed her. Massey has both the vocal chops and the--sigh--gorgeous face and body to replace Tveit. Alice Ripley (Diana), the Tony-winning star, was a fantastic actress, but her voice had a couple of distracting issues, one being that she tended to go flat at the ends of a whole lot of her lines. The other was a sort of sultry darkness to her tone that didn't really suit her character at all, but probably will get her tons of other roles after this, so whatever. Michael Berry, stepping in for J. Robert Spencer, had excellent stage presence and a great voice that seemed just a hair out of its register as Dan, losing some of the lower notes in the hubbub. Adam Chanler-Berat (Henry) and Louis Hobson (two self-righteous doctors), though they had less to do, did it quite well. If I were Natalie, I'd totally smoke up with Chanler-Berat and his adorable homemade apple-bong.

The show is full of surprises, and I won't give anything away, but I will say that Natalie is as much the star of the show as Diana, in my view. Maybe that was just Damiano's performance, which really demands more recognition than I've seen in any of the press, or maybe it was my musicologist's bias toward the better musician, or even more likely maybe it was me identifying with the children more than the parents in the story, but she seemed right at the center of it all.

I haven't felt this good about a new musical on Broadway in ages. And by "good," I don't mean amused or pleased. I mean, rather, torn up inside in a way that seems emotionally valid.

Now, to end on a lighter note, I am reading about the almost unbearably wonderful concept of Rowan Atkinson as Fagin in Oliver! Ben Brantley is a total ass in this article, as he often is, but at least he makes me aware of (and thereby allows me to fantasize about) shows in London out on which I would otherwise totally miss.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Can't sleep. Sneezing too much. And I already took an allergy pill.

I miss my non-dusty apartment and my apparently pollen-free city!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


This is officially my double century post on this blag. Who knew I could actually do this that many times without getting bored and moving on to something else?

I have returned from the woods. I wish I had not. I want to be back by the lake in the mountains, surrounded by people who have known me since I was born and people whom I've known since they were born.

I want to make 70 grilled cheese sandwiches again. I want to wake up when the tent gets too hot in the sun and go to sleep only when no more games of spades can usefully be played. I want to hear old white straight people who could easily not care thoughtfully discuss the lot of immigrants, workers, and even, shockingly, teh gays, and what they can do to change things for the better. I want to teach teenaged boys to knit and let children climb me as if I were a very small tree. I want to absent-mindedly hum along to some old mining song while playing poker for amazingly low stakes. I want to watch another wine bottle melt in the fire pit.

I want to be out of the world, off in my other time where every year lasts ten days and folks I haven't seen for fifty or a hundred weeks still know more about me, sometimes embarrassingly more, than the people I see every day. The real world has too much in it, and not enough time for a three-year-old's smile or a trio of gray-haired ladies singing cheerfully about aging.

Folks who couldn't make it this year, you were missed. JP, JK, BK, PR-M, RR-M, DR-M, JM, NC-S, AC-S, SS, DC, MB, DB, and all the rest.

In the real world, there are thousands of people and millions of dollars dedicated to fighting against the civil rights of all sorts of disenfranchised people. In the real world, there are fathers who care too much about gender norms to show that they love their children. In the real world, I have to prove myself, sell myself, ensure that I make my mark. In the real world, my mom is sick and pretending everything's okay.

I need to be back in the place that stops time. Can I go back now please?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back east

I have crossed the country again, for the fourth time this year. I will be in the greater NY metropolitan area for the next three days, then into the woods (heh. into the woods.) of western Massachusetts for the annual Commie Camp, then back to Lawn Guyland until early-mid July.

If you're around here, let me know! I want to see you! I have lost track of who is where and when, so I may not contact you, but please contact me.

In other news, Iran has exploded. Twitter talks of people being beheaded and beaten and all sorts of frightening things. If I had prayers, they'd be there. As it is, thoughts are there.

In local news, the NY State Senate continues to implode. Senator I-brutally-attacked-my-girlfriend-with-a-broken-glass-no-wait-I-mean-I-tripped has returned to the Democratic Party. Senator I-am-under-investigation-for-corruption-to-the-tune-of-untold-thousands-perhaps-millions-and-also-I-don't-live-in-my-own-district remains caucused with the Republicans. That leaves a 31-31 tie, with no tie-breaking vote because remember when the Governor was indicted for soliciting an amazingly expensive DC sex worker and the Lt. Governor took over his job? LI Republicans apparently want to secede from New York State, though boring Republicans remain mired in logistical concerns. I sort of wish they would succeed in seceding just long enough to pass gay marriage and then get re-annexed.

And in other local news, Jon Cooper may be running for US Senate to unseat Kirsten Gillibrand. Keep your fingers crossed.

Okay that's the rundown of the inside of my mind for right now, except that Une Pipe and I created a formula for what makes British humor funny in America:

religion is dumb + funny accent + transvestites = humor


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Updates and thoughts

1. We had a conference on Music and Humor last weekend. It was fabulous and funny and I enjoyed just about every paper I was there for. Some of them I missed while teaching or transporting cake from one building to another, but the ones I heard were excellent. Especially the keynote, which was on Weird Al. "Polka Your Eyes Out" instead of Haydn's "Surprise" Symphony at a musicological humor conference? Sweet!

2. I got an MA on Monday. It was pretty awesome; everyone was nice to me. I wrote three papers for the exam. One was on Princess Ida; one on Brahms, Dvorak, and Debussy chamber music, and one on a German techno song. Apparently the examiners all liked the three new papers. The three old papers I had to submit with them didn't even get read.

3. Had me a birthday yesterday. Saw an unbelievable concert at the Gay & Lesbian Center--the debut performance of the Forever Young Chorale. Or, as one member crowed, "fags and dykes on Social Security!" The two openers, Renaissance and Ian Harvie were excellent, and the choir was conducted by Matt Alber, former Chanticleer member and current pop singer-songwriter. It was way more than I expected--they sang Tracy Chapman, George Michael, and all sorts of music that was far younger than they were. The energy was amazing and the costumes were fabulous and the room was packed. If you're in LA and have some time Saturday, go hear them at 2:40 on the mainstage at LA Pride. You totally won't regret it!

Now some thoughts. I'm a big supporter of the whole gay marriage thing. If you've gotten this far without noticing that, I can't speak to your ability to perceive the obvious. I work for marriage equality all the time, and it's something I'll continue to do for as long as it's needed. But I'm not going to work to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

If you're up on your gay politics buzz, you know this is the other big issue in the news. This is the issue that Obama's reversion-to-type has most significantly undermined, as he has gone from "supporting" its full repeal to, according to reports, intervening in a Supreme Court petition that could have overturned it, had it become a case. It's important to a LOT of people, LGBT and the homosexually challenged alike.

DADT is even important to a large number of people who call themselves "progressive." I liked that word about five years ago. It wasn't just a new word for liberal (now with added trendy environmentalism!); it signified something closer to radical politics than it does now. Progressives, in the sense of the word I'd like to rehabilitate, don't advocate for more people in the military. They don't spend time, energy, and money trying to make more soldiers for the US Army. They don't make the arguments that I'm hearing from a whole lot of gays and media personalities: how can you fire gay Arabic translators? Who will tell us what the terrorists are saying when we waterboard them!? Jon Stewart, of course, says this sort of thing in a humorous way. Everyone else, though, seems to see it as a serious argument.


Are "progressives" really willing to grant the right wing the ENTIRE "WAR ON TERROR" FALLACY in order to press for military acceptance of LGBT members? Is there no way to advocate for full civil rights without starting from a wingnut perspective?

Yes, I believe that DADT and marriage inequality are representative of more than the issues they claim to be. Marriage is more than marriage; military service is more than military service. True. If we want to be treated as equal citizens of this country, we want those rights. But if we are going to give up on criticizing the imperial machinations of a corrupt, diseased, swollen-far-beyond-the-bounds-of-safety military establishment to get those rights, do we still want to be citizens of the country we are making?

I will fight to my last breath for LGBT people to have the right to love. I will not fight at all for LGBT people to have the right to torture.

Monday, June 8, 2009


I just found out that a guy I was good friends with in elementary school shot himself. He was one of the nicest guys I knew then. We drifted apart after elementary, and we didn't really ever talk in high school or after, except for once when we ran into each other some time about a year or two after we graduated. My memories of him are fuzzy.

I don't quite know how to react. He hasn't been part of my life for ages. But it's still shocking and disturbing. And I still don't know, and may never know, why. That's hard.

Because of my gestures toward anonymity, I won't put his name up here, but if you knew me then and want to know who it is, I can send you an email. RIP.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Two things

Two unrelated quick hits:

1. It is unheard of that I could agree with Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, about anything. I hope that this can be the first such occasion: "Mr. Obama’s remarks 'may well signal the beginning of a renunciation of America’s strategic alliance with Israel.'" I think he and I may differ slightly on whether or not this is a good thing.

2. A depressing glance into my psyche: the quickest way for a man to lose my respect is for him to demonstrate any physical interest in me. What does that say about my self esteem?

That's all for tonight, folks. We are having an awesome conference that I will write about when it ends.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Today I listened to part of a radio broadcast from a morning show that airs in Sacramento, that perennial seat of culture and enlightenment. I did not listen to the entire broadcast because I was physically unable to. I cried and nearly threw up.

This is the broadcast. I warn you--it's so far beyond offensive that it makes any clever metaphor I could envision trite and useless. I didn't even get up to the worst parts, of which I've read some excerpts and summaries at Pam's House Blend and the GLAAD blog.

I don't have words for this kind of transphobic, abusive, disgusting, utterly indefensible behavior. I can't repeat what they say; it turns my stomach. I can't remember the last time I heard anyone say anything that made me feel like this. The only other stimulus that has provoked this response in my body is watching scenes of torture in movies and TV shows.

But this is real life.

The intersection of thinly-veiled misogyny and advocacy of child abuse with the most hate-filled transphobia I've encountered just adds an extra layer of filth. I can feel my dinner coming back now. I need to stop writing about this.

Monday, June 1, 2009

George Tiller

George Tiller is dead. Murdered in cold blood during church.

The internet is full of far more eloquent elegies and polemics than I can pen; check out this post on BitchPhD for one excellent take, and this one for links to other excellent takes.

I have very little to add, other than to express the undoubtedly somewhat contentious point that it seems fitting to me that the church was the site of this vicious, brutal attack. I know that many, many, many religious people are wonderful, moral, decent human beings (like Dr. Tiller himself); some of them are my very good friends. But I can't shake the feeling that the widespread reactionary perversion of various stripes of American protestantism had something to do with the crazies who attacked Dr. Tiller, both fatally and, earlier, constantly, non-fatally.

Rest in peace, George Tiller. You have earned it so many times over. May there always be more like you, and may they not have to suffer what you suffered for believing in women as autonomous human beings. Medical Students for Choice

Silence is golden?

My voice is gone. I couldn't even make the "mmm" sound when my breakfast was delicious (tofu fried in olive oil, cinnamon and cumin, over a bed of leftover vindaloo rice). This is not a problem today, as it's my day off, but it will rapidly become a problem the rest of this, the last week of the quarter. I am supposed to sing in seminar on Wednesday. I am supposed to hold office hours and teach and train a data entry party and celebrate National Donut Day and various other things that require a voice.

And since the Incident of the Mysterious Disappearing Honey, there is no throat-soothing tea sweetener in our apartment. I must put my sick self together enough to walk to the farmers market and get some more. This involves things like getting dressed, washing myself, and other activities that my sniveling self pity doesn't want me to do.

Bah. I must be off to the market; the missing honey shows no signs of returning in a blaze of glory. Woe is me. I am woe.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


On Tuesday, I met a man whose name, for the purposes of this blog, will be Jim. Jim and I had seen each other in passing many times, but we'd never been formally introduced, and on Tuesday afternoon we officially met, shook hands, he asked where my accent was from, the whole deal.

Yes, people always ask where my accent is from. No, they never guess right. Yes, they always think I'm Canadian.

Anyway, Jim and I both volunteer with Vote For Equality, and have been doing so since before the election. He's probably about 70-75 years old, and he does every kind of office work we have at VFE, always with a smile. That's about the limit of what I knew of Jim until Tuesday.

That night, we both were at the big rally protesting the California Supreme Court's expected reprehensible decision. I was there sans glasses, as only one temple (that's the arm-like bit) was still attached, and I felt that the middle of a large mob of people milling about on pavement was a very bad place to have precariously-perched eyewear. Jim asked me about my glasses; I explained that they had self-destructed, and he offered to let me try his. Miraculously, the prescription was close enough to mine to (mostly) function! I, of course, declined to steal the glasses off his face, but instead wandered fairly blindly around the rally.

Today, after a trip to the optometrist (my glasses remain in the care of Specs Appeal), a wild bus detour around Obama's unexpectedly-blocking-major-roads security detail, and a day at school, I went back to VFE. What did I find awaiting me? A bag of six pairs of Jim's spare glasses.

I met him yesterday, and he's giving me glasses. This is why I love the people I meet in Los Angeles.

Oh, one more thing. They look like this.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Decisions, decisions

Today is officially the Day of Decision. Tonight the rallies begin again.

If you're looking for something to do this evening, come on by the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente. I'll be there. I'll be the really gay looking one. You can't miss me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Taking a quick break from MA exams to express my deep conflict about this new television programme, Glee. Love a show about highschool misfits who sing; always makes me cry. Hate a show that's really about three beautiful straight white people with a DIVERSITY! supporting cast of a (straight?) fat black girl, a lesbian Asian girl with a stutter, a gay white boy, and a (straight?) white boy in a wheelchair, none of whom will ever actually get to be in the center of a shot or a plot.

Better improve on the next episode, Glee, or even shirtless Matthew Morrison can't keep me there.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This is a test

So in nine hours I start my MA exams. Some disjointed thoughts on this process:

1. I don't have to go anywhere for four whole days! Sweet!!

2. I have to write a bunch of stuff in not a bunch of time. Not sweet. Savory, in fact.

3. This is not a "terminal" masters degree. Therefore I can't possibly die while obtaining it, right?

4. Masters exams mean that I can get all my laundry done and not worry about whether I'll be home in two hours to take it out of the dryer.

5. I think I want to be a Mistress of Arts instead.

6. Tonight I ate a medium-sized bag of the most delicious potato chips ever to prepare myself for the exam. I'm sure it helped. Because I am getting a degree in potatochipology.

7. Even better--doughnutology. The Mysterious X, the She God of Shark Reef, 'Nald, and I would probably all be able to acquire that degree without any further study. I will be a Professor of Doughnutology with a focus in Blueberry. My research interests include buying by the dozen and calculating when fresh batches are baked.

I guess I should go to sleep or something so I can be ready for this exam?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brains! Brains!

I like these thematically linked posts. Tonight's theme is brains. Just so you don't strain yourselves trying to figure it out.

This evening I saw, apparently for the second time, that classic of American cinema, The Atomic Brain. I didn't remember that I'd seen it before, but my eerie prescience throughout the film indicates that perhaps this was not my first experience with Dr. Frank, Mrs. March, and their various victims. My biggest problem with the movie, oddly, was probably that the "Austrian" girl is named Nina Rhodes. Pronounced 9-uh. Really. Other than that, Atomic Brain is pure gold.

The second feature at tonight's film festival was 1978's The Alpha Incident. Microorganisms from Mars make your brain explode when you fall asleep. Charlie is irretrievably boring. That's pretty much all you need to know about it. The 70s were an unfortunate decade in many ways.

Moving from literal explosions of fictional brains to metaphorical explosions of real ones, mine exploded yesterday when a group of Austrian tourists asked me for bus directions and a couple of "helpful" Russian ladies chimed in. My rudimentary German vanished in an instant, replaced by rudimentary Russian. I found myself unable to communicate. I'm grateful the Latina women in the next seat forward didn't add their two cents. I would've had some serious Alpha Incident going down. If an Orthodox monk had shown up and started speaking in Church Slavonic, I wouldn't have been responsible for my actions.

Also, my brain is in hyperactive mode right now. Masters exams this weekend. CA Supreme Court decision rumored to be coming on Thursday (tomorrow). Too many things at once and I can't focus on any of them. Rather like yesterday's linguistic experience, but with lives instead of languages.

I will now try to fall asleep listening to "Elaine Stritch Radio" on Even if I fail, it'll be delightful. And my brain will remain intact.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seeing red

There are some people who make me angry. They are relatively rare, but when I happen upon them, my wrath knows no bounds. Tonight I was reminded of one particular object of said wrath who makes me fantasize about acts of violence I would normally abhor. I have never met him, but if that meeting should occur, the red I am metaphorically seeing would quickly become more literal. And wetter. And flowing freely from his nose.

Moving in a slightly happier direction, a red that is somewhere between literal and metaphorical. My shoulders are a shade of pink that is normally not found (externally) on a human body. This is a result, of course, of neglecting to put on sunscreen, but in my defense, I didn't think I was going to need it to sit in a car. Little did I know that instead of sitting in the car, I was going to be peering under its hood on the side of the road in the municipality known, accurately enough, as the City of Commerce. I now have a vastly improved knowledge of the inner workings of 2003 Mazda Proteges, as well as such related topics as the color of antifreeze and the plot of Desperate Housewives. Which was playing on the TV at the garage. Long Beach Pride, sadly, did without me and El Nico, the owner of the Protege in question. My shoulders, as sadly, did without protection from the sun, and now might be described as resembling those of a lobster, if lobsters had shoulders.

Speaking of lobsters, Teenagers from Outer Space!! Quite possibly the best film in existence. I'm sure I've written of it in the past, but tonight the She God of Shark Reef and I saw it on the big screen with two short films by the same director and a Q&A by the man who is trying to piece together the director's odd history and work.

-Teenagers from Outer Space was filmed mostly in Hollywood, about 1.5 miles from my apartment?

-The lobster in question, who plays the monstrous Gargan, was dead at the time of filming?

-The actor playing Derek, the hero, was director Tom Graeff's boyfriend, and he mysteriously disappeared the year the film was released and HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN SINCE?

-Graeff, while at UCLA, made a 22-minute short about the joys of fraternal brotherhood that impressed the school enough to let him graduate despite various academic woes?

-The film was originally supposed to be about Derek falling in love with an Earth boy instead of an Earth girl?

Okay, that's enough for tonight. My eyes are growing as red as my shoulders, and I needs must close them if I am to continue seeing with my current laughable acuity in future.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Week 7

Sometimes I hate the quarter system.

This is one of those times.

Is it mid-June yet?

Monday, May 11, 2009

For a change

As I've been too busy to blog, I've been similarly too busy to keep up to date with The Nation. So I'm attempting to catch up by reading the May 4th issue, which arrived some time in late April as is the magazine's wont.

Shockingly, I really connected with Alexander Cockburn's Beat the Devil column, Dead Souls. The man is usually so far beyond the obnoxious level that even if I agree with what he says I can't stomach admitting it. But this week, or rather last week which actually arrived the previous week, he had a lot of good shit to say and didn't piss me off more than one or two times, and those mostly out of habit.

Life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) is unbelievably shitty as an option for someone's sentence, especially in light of how rarely lifers with the possibility of parole get out. Since the link apparently takes you to a subscribers-only page, I'll give out for free some of his numbers:

In 2007, there were approximately 30,000 people serving life sentences with the possibility of parole. The parole board found 172 of those people "suitable for parole." Then the Governator reversed 115 of the parole decisions, sent back 18 for further review, and "modified" (what that means I have no idea) 2. Leaving a whopping 37 people serving life sentences who got a chance at parole.


What is the benefit, then, of a sentence of LWOP, if it makes a difference only in, say, 15 out of 30,000 cases? The psychological harm it does to a person to let hir know that ze will be there forever is noted and, I assume, empirically verified (big assumption, I know).

I was having trouble wrapping my head around these numbers, so I translated the number of people into a number of days. Imagine getting two or three weeks off from work every 100 years. This is the scale we're talking about.

I don't have a solution to the prison-industrial complex to offer. Maybe y'all do; I'd love to hear 'em. But it's important, I feel, to remember that people who commit crimes are still people.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blogging again

I fell off the blogging wagon for a while. Things have been pretty crazy in my life, what with organizing, classes, teaching, family health issues, and a creeping general malaise that strikes from time to time and makes things harder than they ought to be.

I will strive to do better. This is important to me.

To reacquaint myself with the blog, a word or two about teaching.

I received my teaching evaluations from last quarter. Generally, pretty good. A few said I was condescending. One thought I was absolutely awful and needed to learn to teach, and I'm very curious who that was, but I'm not too concerned about the outlier.

The condescending thing, though, worries me. I struggle, teaching college students, to assess when they are to be treated as adults and when as students and when (always) as both. Sometimes they make it awfully hard to treat them as adults.

Today I was reminded of how adult they are, and of how unimportant their classes can seem at times. I wish they didn't have to go through the shit that they sometimes have to go through. I can't imagine handling it myself.

I'm going to be making an effort to treat them as grownups, even the ones whose writing reads, to me, as somewhat juvenile. They deserve it.

In other news, Trader Joe's makes chocolate-covered peanut-butter-filled pretzels. My life may never be the same.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

So very much

Too, too much has happened since my last post. I can't encapsulate it all. Maine is in the process of legalizing marriage. So is New Hampshire. Many other things have gone on. I will try to post about some of them soon, but for now, tears of joy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Unusual Saturday

Things I don't usually do on Saturdays but did on this particular one:

1. Go out for lunch.

2. Buy shoes.

3. Drink tequila.

4. Wear a false moustache on my lip, nose, and forehead.

El Nico had a hangover and needed eggs, so we went to Eat Well, where we did just that. Two of the attractive waiters decided to spend time groping each other in the middle of the restaurant, so we got distracted from our conversation. Then we went to the Fluevog store to take advantage of their old-model-shoes-are-cheap sale. Or rather, I went to take advantage of the sale, and he went to keep me company and prevent me from being overwhelmed by all the shoes.

Y'all know I don't handle shoes very well.

Luckily, there was a terribly attractive boy working there to help me pick shoes. He had a bass clef tattooed on his forearm, so we got to talking about how we both play the cello (!), and he showed me some shoes I might like. I ended up spending more on shoes than...ever, I think, and I now own these, something approximately like these but in olive green and with laces, and most importantly these. The website calls them brown, but they sure look purple to me.

The tequila was añejo, meaning aged at least a year, and it tasted amazingly Scotch-y. This was a good thing, as I normally don't like tequila, but I do love me some Scotch. Post tequila, I headed over to a western-themed party at I Can Call You Betty's house, where I attempted to fit the theme with a plaid shirt and a fake moustache. Sadly, the moustache refused to stick to the scraggly stubble on my unshaven lip, so I moved it to my forehead to simulate a unibrow. As I was growing quite a substantial unibrow of my own, it also failed to stick there. The top of my nose, however, was sufficiently hairless. Equally sadly, if not even sadlier, the plaid shirt I borrowed turned out to belong to a cat owner. After an hour or so in it, my eyes started stinging and itching.

All in all, though, a good Saturday. Note the distinct lack of anything productive!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea parties

Obviously I don't need to convince y'all that the tax-protesting tea parties are idiotic or that the phrase "teabagging" is hilarious in this context.

I just want to point out that in this slide show of tea parties from the New York Times, I count one face of color. Maybe two, at most.

I've been to a lot of protests, and I ain't never seen no protest that white before, folks. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nothing personal...

Hey there, readers of this blog. If you are interested in following the details of a pretty painful personal situation that is going on but not getting posted in this public forum, feel free to add me as a friend on LiveJournal. Just make sure I know who you are, and I'll add you back so you can read my locked updates.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quick hit

The shitstorm over Amazon's homophobia glitch led me to peruse a few things on their site.

I discovered that pretty much the only bestseller that doesn't make me want to throw up is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Drama masks

Here's the happy:

Vermont legalizes gay marriage
D.C. recognizes gay marriages from states

Here's the sad:

Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder

I'm feeling so, so very excited about the state of being gay in this country. And so, so very depressed about the state of being gay in some others.

I will soon write about my fabulous, wonderful seder. But right now I desperately need to read for class, apply for a job (teaching assisting in LGBT studies here), and vacuum up the remnants of said seder. Good night, internet.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Economies of School

This article pleases me. I particularly love this quote from a music professor mother:

“We bought our apartment in 2004,” she said, “and like most new parents we never even thought about the public school zoning issues. We just assumed our son would go to private school.”

Excuse me? Most new parents would never even think about public school!? How outrageously far up your ass can you possibly stick your head? According to the 2000 U.S. census, EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT OF STUDENTS go to public schools.

Now, I will admit that there can occasionally be advantages to a private school. I never learned what wine to pair with my meals in public school (luckily, I have an innate knowledge of wine pairing just from being gay). I didn't have very many teachers with doctoral degrees. My fencing team (Oh, yes. We had a fencing team. I was on it.) had to practice at the elementary school with no real facilities and water fountains at knee height. We could have used a school lounge with luxurious deep red armchairs and a roaring fire to sit in front of while the butler brought us tea.

Can you tell that I don't actually know what a private school is like? I picture it like England about 75 years ago. But without the depression. And without the damp.

But back to the public school thing: I love that these parents are being forced into it. It's much, much harder to improve the public education system when those adults with the most influence in government/school policy (i.e. with the most money) opt out of the system and then just shake their heads at how inept it is. Put the money that goes into one year of private school tuition for one student into a public school. It'll buy a shitload of textbooks for a shitload of kids. Maybe you could even pay a teacher for them!

Really, I can't figure out why people don't have the urge simply to spend their money efficiently. Use your money to do the most good for the most people. Simple, straightforward, easy to understand.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Playlist for today:

1. "Iowa" by Dar Williams

2. "Iowa Stubborn" from The Music Man

3. "I Know All I Owe I Owe Iowa" from State Fair

4. "Iowa Waltz" by Greg Brown

5. "Iowa" by Slipknot (I've never heard this one, actually. Google gave it to me.)

If you have anything else to add to the list, please do. In case you haven't heard, this morning the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously found in favor of Varnum in Varnum v. Brien, legalizing gay marriage in Iowa starting in three weeks.

Unanimously. In California, we won our first marriage case 4-3. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face, happy tears. Thank you to everyone involved in the case, if you happen to read this. We're going to have to fight to keep it, but for right now I'll just bask in it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another thought

Isn't it a shame that, no matter how cute young British men are, they always grow up to look so...British?


These don't have any unifying theme, except that I thought them all recently.

1. This Smoking Cocktail post on simulated gay bashing at a sport's bar troubles me for several reasons, not the least of which is the blatant misuse of the apostrophe in "sport's bar" (what sport owns the bar? Is it curling? Because that would be pretty sweet.) However, having looked past the reasons it makes me cringe, it also makes me incredibly happy.

2. Neil Gaiman, too, makes me incredibly happy. Here are two brief quotes from Chapter Two of The Graveyard Book that help explain why:

"Her father taught particle physics, but there were, Scarlett told Bod, too many people who wanted to teach particle physics and not enough people who wanted to learn it, so Scarlett's family had to keep moving to different university towns, and in each town her father would hope for a permanent teaching position that never came."

" of the policewomen got into an argument with Scarlett's father, who tried to tell her that he, as a taxpayer, paid her wages, and she told him that she was a taxpayer too and probably paid his wages..."

Very few books contain characters who are underpaid itinerant adjunct faculty. Fewer books (I think) contain multiple policewomen. Even fewer bother to challenge the totally obnoxious "I paid for you so you do whatever I want" mentality. This short novel for children does all of those in the course of two throwaway paragraphs. It also explains particle physics from a five-year-old's perspective, but I'll let you all go read the book and laugh at that one on your own. If you live near me, you can borrow my copy, but please ignore the dog footprints on it. I read it in a park.

3. I'm gonna be on TV! Z2, your shirt is gonna be on TV too! Yesterday I spent several hours with Kathy Griffin, filming an episode of her show, My Life on the D-List. Kathy (she gets to use her real name here because she's famous) came to the LA Gay & Lesbian Center to learn how to canvass voters on marriage for gay and lesbian couples, and El Nico and I were the ones who taught her how. Then we all went out to Pasadena and she talked to voters, trailed by her crew, five of us from Vote For Equality, a crew from The Advocate, and a crew from Extra. It was a whole big mess o' gays. RC Cola and I got interviewed by The Advocate and I stared (a lot) at the ass of the reporter from Extra. It was totally awesome. And by "it" I mean the whole day, not the reporter's ass. Though that was awesome too. Kathy is such a sweet person, and her makeup woman has fabulous eyebrows. This experience is proof that everyone in LA is a movie star, including and especially ME.

4. In the past two days I have had a chocolate milkshake and a black and white milkshake, plus I've tasted a creamsicle milkshake and a chocolate peanut butter banana milkshake that The Mysterious X had. All courtesy of Swingers Diner. Milkshakes, it turns out, are delicious (who knew? Oh, right; everyone knew.), but each of these failed the crucial milkshake test: does it come with a tiny cup of the extra stuff that didn't fit in the glass? Without the tiny cup, I felt a little cheated, but they still tasted wonderful. By the way, for all you vegans, vegetarians, and sympathizers in LA, Swingers is AWESOME. For those of you who eat teh meats, it is also awesome. The She God of Shark Reef and I had almost identical chili-cheese-fries-and-a-black-and-white-milkshake meals, but she had it with turkey chili and I with veggie. Something for everyone!

5. I just got the soundtrack to Bea Arthur's solo show, Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends. It is fascinatingly, fabulously, bizarrely, inexplicably terrible, and I will probably write a paper about it. However, I want to point out here that her accompanist, the composer of some of the songs she sings, is also the composer of the theme music from Kojak. Other than that, you'll have to wait until the paper gets published to hear all of my thoughts on it, which means you will never ever hear them. Because who wants to publish a paper on Bea Arthur's one-woman show? Nobody at all.

6. Starting next Friday, an amusing theatrical troupe will be doing (melo-)dramatic staged readings of spectacularly bad screenplays. It is called Magnum Opus Theatre, and it is exciting to me. I plan on attending quite a few of these.

I think that's all I got for right now. Vacation is pretty sweet.