Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Book on CD Beau

I know nothing about the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward, but the books have very pretty covers now that they are popular.

Beau: Brent Corrigan

There's more

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Translator Part Two

…the fog cleared and I awoke, on the second day of my arrival, in my familiar bed in the room whose walls had witnessed the trivial incidents of my life in childhood and the onset of adolescence…I heard the cooing of the turtledove, and I looked through the window at the palm tree standing in the courtyard of our house…I looked at its strong straight trunk, at its roots that strike down to the ground, at the green branches hanging down loosely over its top, and I experienced a feeling of assurance. I felt not like a storm-swept feather but like that palm tree, a being with a background, with roots…
~Tayeb Salih (1969)

Art by an ex of mine

Artist creates, hides wooden toys
By Victor Yang

In his house, there is no computer, no television, no car. But technology betrays itself in the record player that plays exclusively Françoise Hardy and other 1960s French music as artist Ed Franklin works in his kitchen.

Franklin says he lives in a "little bubble." He works at Sqecial Media, the book and gift shop on South Limestone, and he walks across the street to get home.

But even though he lives daily life in such a small sector, Franklin is spreading goodwill throughout the city in a unique gift-giving art project, a game hybrid of Secret Santa and scavenger hunts.

Each day in June, he has been placing one of his handmade wooden dolls around downtown Lexington. He posts a clue, usually rhymed, and photos of the doll on the social networking Web sites Facebook and Flickr, leaving the toy for anyone to find.

The event, "A Doll a Day for June," has created a ritual for Franklin that lasts 11/2 to three hours a day. Surrounded by the yellow walls and cabinets of his kitchen, he outlines the characters on the wood to cut out with a scroll saw. Franklin then sits in one of the multicolored chairs at his table. Hunching over — elbows poised at right angles and eyes fixed in intense concentration — he carves out the doll with a wood burner and gives it life with the row of paints lined up in front of him.

The final touch: an "E" crisscrossed with an "F," his initials forming a maker's mark on the soles of the doll's feet.

"God, it's like creativity boot camp," Franklin remembers one of his friends saying of the monthlong project, which will end June 30. "Because every day I have to get up to make a doll — none of them I make in advance."

A transformation

Influences on Franklin's art include 1960s Scandinavian toys and the wooden ornaments of the Black Forest that he recalls from his childhood in Germany.

But Franklin's style is unique, each of the dolls distinctly different — human, animal or mythical. They have been tiny owls and other birds, a spikey-haired boy and a pigtailed girl, elves and a dragon, even a crying woman exposing her breasts. In stream-of-consciousness fashion, he simply crafts whatever comes to mind. Aside from the wide eyes that gleam with a sentimental twinkle, perhaps the only common element of the dolls is the material: found wood.

"There's a certain energy ... about walking around the city (to gather thrown-away wood) and transforming it" into dolls, he said.

Franklin turns one man's trash into another man's treasure. He modestly calls his doll project "a gift" to all his "friends who live and work downtown." A more accurate description might be cult sensation.

The "wall" of Franklin's online Facebook profile, where visitors can leave notes, is littered with thumbs-up and enthusiastic comments from friends. And seldom do dolls sit for more than a couple hours in their downtown spots before their new owners snatch them away.

On June 11, for instance, the clue that Franklin posted online was a picture of a little owl doll with the caption "811.52 N175b 2007."

Several people raced to find the doll after they figured out that the caption was a Dewey Decimal System number. Franklin's doll was at the Lexington Public Library downtown — perched on a shelf in front of the book The Best of Ogden Nash.

"SCORE!!!!! You should have seen me tear out of Third Street ... I may have created a slight ruckus in the library," Sarabeth Brownrobie, who was the first to successfully find the doll, wrote on Facebook.

Another day, June 7, a doll that looked like a wild-eyed girl in a striped dress was pictured standing at the base of a green statue, with only the statue's animal-like legs visible in the photo. The caption read: "A ship of the desert to mark the zero/ looking near tomes just might make you a hero."

Where was the doll? On the zero-mile-marker statue of a camel at Main Street and Limestone, beside the library.

Finding the kid in all of us

Franklin has stirred an excitement reminiscent of childhood among the doll hunters. Some of them have been exchanging their dolls with one another — grown people acting "kinda like little kids, like when we used to trade stickers," Franklin said.

While friends or friends of friends notify him when they find the dolls, Franklin has no idea about the fate of his art in strangers' hands.

"I liked the idea of there being an element of mystery to them — this little creature that's wandering around the city," he said.

Cristi Violet, a college friend of Franklin, said she feels an element of fated "synchronicity" to those people who happen to stumble onto Franklin's artwork. She describes his project as a "magical ... artistic activism," marveling at her friend's generosity and openness.

"Sometimes art feels kind of stuffy — for an elite group that happens to go to the gallery," Violet said. But "this is out in the world where people can come into contact with it."

Franklin calls his creations "polite graffiti."

"It doesn't deface anything, but it's definitely there," Franklin said. "It changes the way you see your environment ... without leaving a permanent mark."

'Do it yourself'

Franklin's art project has changed the way he and his friends look at Lexington, too.

"I hear some people say Lexington's boring," he said. But "if you want your city to be something, you have to get out there and do it yourself."

Franklin has taken this philosophy to heart — he loves the idea that people have the power to change their communities. He organized a Gallery Hop show featuring 38 local artists several years ago, and The Kentucky Theatre is showcasing the artwork of Franklin and his friend Ashley Watson.

Friends have been telling Franklin that his "Doll a Day" event need not be a one-time project. And who knows, he said, he might turn it into an annual tradition.

"I didn't realize it would be as much fun as it's been," Franklin says. "I might go at it again."

Moral of the story? Look out for downtown dolls next summer.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pansy Division Tuesday

Tuesday night, X was in town at The Dame and I did not have the money to go. Instead I opened a bottle of red wine and watched the new documentary Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band. Loved it! Reminded me of a whole bunch of music that I loved in college and more recently. Today is actually Thursday, and I have "I'm Gonna Be a Slut" (if only) stuck in my head.

The computer on which I'm blogging does not have speakers so hopefully the sound is good on this vid.

Also, Suzanne Vega has a playlist at NYT's Papercuts.

Currently Reading: The Translator

But I say what comes to me
From my inner thoughts
Denying my eyes.
~Abu Nuwas (757-814)

She dreamt that it rained and she could not go out to meet him as planned. She could not walk through the hostile water, risk blurring the ink on the pages he had asked her to translate. And the anxiety that she was keeping him waiting pervaded the dream, gave it an urgency that was astringent to grief. She was afraid of rain, afraid of the fog and the snow which came to this country, afraid of the wind even. At such times she would stay indoors and wait, watching from her window people doing what she couldn't do: children walking to school through the swirling leaves, the elderly smash ice on the pavement with their walking sticks. They were superhuman, giants who would not let the elements stand in their way. Last year when the city had been dark with fog, she hid indoors for four days, eating her way through the last packet of pasta in the cupboard, drinking tea without milk. On the fifth day when the fog lifted she went out famished, rummaging the shops for food, dizzy with the effort.
~Leila Aboulela, opening paragraph to The Translator

yes, Yes, YES!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another Reading Disappointment

So, Nancy Pearl, librarian extraordinaire, says that when reading, you should read 50 pages of a book before deciding whether or not to put it down. This of span of pages descreases as you get older: When you are 51 read 49 pages, until I guess when you are 100 you can read a page and then decide.

I got maybe 10 pages into Passarola Rising.

I remember what it feels like to read books that I like - the shear uplifting joy of reading something like Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude, Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire - and that joy begins if not on the first page, then within the first few.

Draw my attention to what you want me to see, don't pick up the thing and shove it in my face.

And maybe I should have given the book more time, it is afterall the story of a man who invents flying machines. But, no. I work two jobs, seven days a week. I don't have much time, and what little time I have I'd rather spend it reading things that grab me at the beginning...not 50 pages in.

Sunday Beau, Amen!

If I tell you, you have a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?

Charles Adams

I've been watching the HBO miniseries, John Adams starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney...very good, loved it. In doing some extra research sparked by the series, I found this about John Adams' son Charles.

From HistoryNet.com:
In his early 20s, Charles, who was serving as a law clerk in New York, moved in with Baron Friedrich von Steuben, the Revolutionary War hero who was 40 years older than Charles. Von Steuben had come to America in 1777, dogged by rumors that “he took familiarities with young boys.” He arrived with his handsome 17-year-old interpreter and shipmate, whom Washington soon had to replace for incompetence on military matters with his own aides, Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens. Von Steuben then formally adopted two young soldiers he was fond of: William North, who became the baron’s aide-de-camp, and Benjamin Walker.

Actor Kevin Trainor plays Charles Adams on the series.

To his mother Charles was almost rapturous in describing von Steuben as “fascinating, there is something in this man that is more than mortal.” Charles was “grief-stricken” when von Steuben moved to his farm in upstate New York, and in 1795, a year after the baron’s death, Charles married, to his family’s palpable relief. Nabby wrote that at last Charles was “safe-landed,” though his parents were not keen on his having married Sarah Smith, the sister of Nabby’s hated husband William. One can only speculate why Charles married Sarah. The union produced two daughters, but it appears that the only time Charles had been truly happy, or at least reasonably calm for any period of time, was when he was living with von Steuben.

Some historians believe that Charles was homosexual, and that this ultimately caused an insurmountable rift with his father. In 1799 John Adams renounced his second son, ceasing all correspondence with him and describing him as “a mere rake, buck, blood and beast.” Having sunk deeper into alcoholism and debt, Charles abandoned his wife and children; his irate father wrote that he had become “a madman possessed of the devil” and began destroying Charles’ letters and papers. This was an astounding act, for John and Abigail had always insisted that their children keep diaries, and the family was renowned for their voluminous correspondence. Biographer Ferling notes that “virtually the sole portion of Adams’ vast correspondence that was apparently not preserved for posterity related to Charles.”

Charles died in 1800 at the age of 30. Younger brother Thomas wrote, “Let silence reign forever over his tomb,” and it has: Charles was not buried in the family plot, and the National Park Service, which administers the Adams National Historical Park in Massachusetts, believes he lies “somewhere in New York.”

If you click on the link at the beginning of the quote, you also read a little bit about the youngest son, Thomas. Notice that both sons died of alcoholism; yet, while Thomas is buried with the family, Charles is not.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Teaching Myself Photoshop

So far this is reminding me of some strange soap in which Big Maybelle is causing jealousy between two friends. Andrew Bird and Snufkin are lifelong friends but they both love Big Maybelle, yet she loves only Andrew Bird causing Snufkin to give him hurt, angry sideways glances.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Good Monday, Beau

Allen Ginsberg never looked so good

No Wonder the World Has Gay Men

And check out this lil cutie

Review: Hannah's Dream

I'm taking Hannah's Dream as another example about how a single work can touch two people completely differently. And, even how re-reading something, it can be completely different the second time.

The first time, I read what I've presented as an excerpt below I thought it was so beautiful. This interaction of Sam Brown and Max Biedelman and the discovery that the Sam and Corinna Brown believe their little stillborn daughter had been reincarnated as Hannah the elephant - maybe it isn't genius, but I really did like it. However, now having typed it, I feel like I've been watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and getting sick off an overdose of sugar.

However, don't get me wrong - there is a place in this world for overly-sentimental writing. My mother would like it - a lot of people like it - I get the same feeling from Hannah's Dream has I got from Tuesdays With Morrie and the other book I read by Mitch Albom, and Mitch Albom is a New York Times Best Seller. But I don't like him, although his work has touch millions around the world - same with Paulo Coelho - I can't stand The Alchemist.

But in Hannah's Dream, there's a little bit of everything: there's Samson Brown, whom you find out after 100+ pages is black; there's Max Biedelman, a safari dyke with a Lady lover, Miss Effie; there's Corinna Brown, Sam's wife, whom until I found out that Sam was black, I imagined to be much like Truvy from Steele Magnolias. I think Diane Hammond can do really good characters: Neva Wilson, Winslow, Truman Levy, Miles the pig. And I think I enjoyed the flashbacks that occur throughout the story more than the present-day story arc.

But I think the story started falling apart for me, when after 100+ pages, Ms. Hammond reveals to us that Samson Brown is black. This revelation occurs in one of the flashbacks. What bothers me is that this seems rather important, but she plunks it into the story as though, she just realized it herself. But, I imagine, as a black man - even in Oregon - in the 1950s being given charge of an elephant - it's the beginning of the great wave of social movements of the 50s and 60s - that he IS black should be stated early on. The book doesn't have to begin "Samson Brown was brown." But sometime in the early part of the book as Samson Brown is built before us, something should be said on this matter. And to throw it in 100 pages later, it's distracting: the story is going at a good clip and suddenly we have to rebuild the main character (and his wife) and give them a whole new life experience, a whole new history, a whole new people. (I returned to the beginnings of the book to see if maybe I just missed something, but all I could find was that Sam's wife's name is Corinna, and in my mind thanks to the movie "Corinna, Corinna," the name Corinna might "typically" be a name used by African American women, but being the great-great-grandson of a woman named Spicy, I don't like to assume.)

Two days before Thanksgiving, 1956, Sam had sought out Miss Biedelman about something that had been on his and Corinna's minds. It was late morning, and cold; in the fields, wisps of ground fog were still caught in the corn stubble, and the air smelled like animals and loam. Sam found the old woman moving painfully across the front lawn. Her arthritis had been worse lately - he could see it in her face as well as her walk. He'd taken a stregthening breath and approached her. "Excuse me, sir."

"Good morning, Mr. Brown," she said.

"I wonder if I could ask you a question."

"Of course. You may walk with me. Let me take your arm." Sam held out his elbow and she slipped her arm through his; and though she gave him most of her weight, it was surprisingly little - she was as light and dry as cured tobacco. "Now, what is this question of yours?"

"Well, sir, you remember that reincarnation you were telling me about?"

Max Biedelman nodded. "I remember."

"Me and Corinna have been talking about it, and we wanted to know, can a person come back as an animal?"

"According to the Hindu faith it happens all the time. Why?"

Sam was perspiring lightly despite the chill. He breathed in, breathed out for nerve. "We think Hannah's our baby girl."

Max Biedelman pressed Sam's arm; they'd stopped walking without his noticing. Then they started again. "Yes?" she said "And why is that?"

"Well, sir, from the very first time I set eyes on shug I thought there was something familiar about her. That's why you used to see me watching her at lunch and all. And Corinna, she took one look into shug's eye and started crying, and Hannah, she wrapped her trunk around Mama's head and started making this low sound, this humming, you know how she does. And Corinna says to me, She's talking to us, honey. She meant her - that she'd lived after all, only she was doing it as Hannah. We figure her soul must have passed from one of them to the other, like you can pass along a flame from candle to candle. Call us damn fools, but we both saw it as clear as if God Himself came down and shined His heavenly light."

"Well, Mr. Brown," Max Biedelman said, "I can't speak for God, of course, but I believe you've already answered your question."

"Yes, sir. I guess I did."

"Please tell Corinna she's welcome to visit Hannah whenever she'd like."

"Thank you, sir. She doesn't like to presume."

They had reached the house. Max Biedelman had withdrawn her arm from his and pressed his hand warmly.

"Thank you, sir."

"Of course, Mr. Brown. If the truth be told, I'm envious. I've been all around the world, but I have had precious few revelations. And to think one was right here all the time."
~Diane Hammond, Hannah's Dream, 104-105

But, of course, I feel bad, because the tears in my friend's eyes when she told me about Hannah's Dream were real. And the characters were rather good, and who can't love a story about an elephant named Hannah whose dreams are being transferred to her caretaker/father-from-a-past-life. That I liked. So, I'll chalk this up to me being the problem rather than necessarily the book.