Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Review: Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?

Image via and if you follow the link, you'll find Salon's review of the same book.

Let me start by saying, I really liked this book. I thought it was funny and very thought-provoking. (And I love the chapter titles.) Because of it, I've actually taken time to view my own good and bad manners, my ability to change certain things that I do in regards other people, social interactions.

I would also very often forget about the fact that the book is basically talking directly to me (and other audience members) and get caught up in the facts, the stories, the hilarity.

Henry Alford is quite funny, and I look forward to reading his other books.

But, at the same time, I sometimes found the book hard to follow. I felt it needed better organization. His transitions from subject to subject or paragraph to paragraph were quite jolting quite often - this more so at the book's beginning.

Also Alford would give examples for things he'd be talking about that didn't really seem to exemplify the thing talked about. I found myself confused quite a bit if I tried to over-think and connect the example to its antecedent. However, I also found that if I didn't try to over-think that connection, I found the example very funny. You'll chuckle almost every page of the book.

As the book progressed, Alford's chatty style really set in, and I found myself quite comfortably sitting at a outdoor table with a drink and some food and finding the company and the rambling conversation very enjoyable. (That's a metaphor. I never read the book outside, and actually finished the last chapter warmly ensconced in the bathtub.)

At its best, the book never had any of the jolting-ness or non sequiters that I mentioned above and I found that I didn't want it to end. At its best, the book could've been quite a bit longer. I would've been happy to listen to Alford daily, sort of like the gay Dear Abby or Miss Manners. Sadly, I don't think he has a column. Boo.

For your reading enjoyment (and apropos to a comment conversation Tim and I have been having)..."E-mail and the Lesser Angels":

As noted earlier, some people decry the Internet as the beginning of the end. For them, this Wild West is just a little too wild.

This is the medium that gave birth to the charming bit of badinage that is RTFM - an acronym for "Read the F#*$&%! Manual." Frankly, when it comes to Internet etiquette, isn't it too easy to blame the medium and not its users? A historical view would suggest that, in most cases, the protestations of the technologically reluctant are ultimately a source of ridicule. In her 1987 book When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communications in the Late Nineteenth Century, Carolyn Marvin points out that many Victorian Americans were just as vexed by the telegraph and telephone as later generations would be by television and the Internet. In 1884, a Philadelphia newspaper's editor exhorted its readers "not to converse by phone with ill persons for fear of contracting contagious diseases." In a commonly told joke about the advent of the telephone, a caller's anxious "Are you there? Are you there?" finds a country bumpkin on the other end of the line silently and repeatedly nodding his head. (Early jokes about the telephone were terribly amusing.)

Or, I suppose, you can go back even farther in time, to when the chatty Socrates got his toga in a twist over the advent of written language based on an alphabet. Socrates though scrolls would both erode memory and curb the back-and-forth exchange of ideas in real time.

The two main impediments to good online manners are the medium's incredible ease and its blankness of tone. On the former's front, an e-mailer's ability easily to reach out to someone else without having to look that person in the eyes (let alone pick up the phone or address a letter or fashion puffs of smoke into recognizable code) can spur on impulsiveness. "The speed of e-mail doesn't just make it easier to lose our cool," Will Schwalbe and David Shipley write in their book Send: The Essential Guide to E-mail for Office and Home - "it actually eggs us on." The authors posit that people aren't quiet themselves on e-mail, but are "angrier, less sympathetic, less aware, more easily wounded, even more gossipy and duplicitous." They conclude by noting how "e-mail has a tendency to encourage the lesser angels of our nature."

Indeed, not having to look into your interlocutor in the face frees you to write things you otherwise might not. Furthermore, "the Internet has no means to allow realtime feedback (other than rarely used two way audio/video streams," the psychologist Daniel Goleman notes. This "puts our inhibitory circuitry at a loss - there is no signal to monitor from the other person. This results in disinhibition - impulse unleashed." A bank robber doesn't just wear a mask because it protects his identity; it also helps him to tap into his ugly.

In some instances - or one, at least - all this tumult has led to something witty. In 1990, attorney and author Mike Godwin gave birth to Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies when he observed, "As an online discussion grows longer, the probablity of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 100%"

But in most instances, the tumult has simply led to a lot of random bitchy comments. Consider the case of skateboarder Jake Brown. At the X Games in 2007, Brown fell about fifty feet to the ground when trying to land a two-spin rotation on a 293-foot half-pipe (called, appropriately enough, the Mega Ramp). When a video of this spectacular wipeout went up on YouTube, one person wrote in the comments section, "HIS SHOES POPPED OFF, LOL," while another posted, simply, "Ha ha ha ha ha ha." In June 2010, a Tennessee couple hiked to the top of a mountain where the young man was going to produce a ring and then propose to a girl; but before he did so, lightning struck and killed her. When the incident was posted on Facebook, 257 people hit the "Like" button.

Clearly, such people suffer from a kind of heartlessness; but what can those of us who don't suffer in this way learn from them? What does all this talk of blindness and disinhibition mean in practical terms for those of us who spend a large portion of our days staring at a screen? Primarily, I would venture, the lesson is that we should probably pay more heed when we hear that voice in our head that says, Should I send this?

There should be a word - a long, German one, no doubt - for e-mail's version of post-natal depression. Or maybe it's the aha moment's ugly cousin, the uh-oh moment. Whenever I send something that yields subsequent second-guessing, I am haunted by a statement made in a 2003 New Yorker article about people who survive jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the jumpers interviewed - Ken Baldwin, who, severely depressed, had tried to commit suicide at age 28 - told writer Tad Friend that, upon hurling himself into the air, "I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."

Certain kinds of messages are potential jumpers. They're better conveyed by forms of communication other than e-mail. Specifically, messages that are emotional; that announce your bold departure or change of orientation on a previously discussed matter; or that require a lot of feedback or negotiation. In all three instances, a discussion, either in person or by phone, is likely to prove a more successful communication because it allows for give-and-take.

You never want to bring a lion-size problem into a house full of LOL cats. (90-4)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beat Your Wives!

Via Barefoot & Progressive:

Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s two great Senators, stood up for men’s rights and voted against the Violence Against Women Act. Because they believe in freedom and you should be free to beat the living shit out of some woman. Any woman. All of ‘em, in fact. Beat ‘em all.

Get Stranded

Why I'm a Geek

On NPR: Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes

To be honest, I've actually read only one book by Ray Bradbury and that is his Martian Chronicles. Also to be honest, the movie version of Something Wicked This Way Comes terrified me in a "I refuse to watch this" kinda way and though I've watched quite a bit of horror in my time, I've kept to that refusal.

Seth Grahame-Smith via NPR:

I first read Something Wicked in middle school. Not for class, but on the advice of my stepfather — a used- and rare-book dealer who kept some 5,000 volumes of horror and science fiction in our basement. I'd already tried my hand at Bradbury's other books, but he hadn't yet grabbed a hold of me with the sharp claws I'd hoped. But then, I was 12, and not quite ready. Something Wicked, however, was tailor-made.

I was nearly the same age as its young heroes, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway. Best friends born just two minutes apart — one a minute before the midnight stroke on Halloween, one a minute after. Darkness and light, baby.

I was part Jim — daring and brash. But I was also the cautious, calculating Will. I recognized some of Will's father, Charles Halloway, in my own stepfather. Charles was a lover of books. A lion in winter who, it turns out, never really was much of a lion at all.

Things get going for Jim and Will when a carnival rolls into their small Midwestern town on the heels of a thunderstorm. A carnival led by the aptly named Mr. Dark, who comes bearing promises for the town elders: restored youth, second chances and fulfilled dreams. These all come for a price, of course. Namely, their souls.

Bradbury's carnival is everything we fear. It's age and death and failure. It's a foreign body, invading the ideal small town the way a virus invades a cell.

But for me, the true horror of the book wasn't the carnival or its soul-swallowing ringmaster. It was a hard truth — the truth that our parents weren't always the heroes we needed them to be.

Bradbury's adults were weak with temptation and worn down by regrets. They were real, and that was the horror of it all.

If The Shining terrified me with the possibility that my own father might try to kill me, Something Wicked posited something much more frightening and much more likely — that he wouldn't be able to save me if someone else did.

Seth Grahame-Smith is the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the just released Unholy Nights.

Friday Beau

Via Bill in Exile

My favorite way to surf the net - with or without chatting. I mean, if I had internet at home, which I currently don't.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wolverine vs. Freddie Mercury

Via Illuminations and Other Stuff

40,000 Sing Mass Murderer's Least Favorite Song

Via The Los Angeles Times

In a musical act of defiance, Norwegians crowded public squares Thursday to sing a gentle tune that confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik has argued was a Marxist song used to brainwash children to embrace multiculturalism. Massive crowds gathered despite a steady rain, bearing roses.

In Oslo alone, an estimated 40,000 people flooded the Youngstorget square to sing. In the video above, Norwegian singer Lillebjørn Nilsen leads the crowd in singing "Barn av regnbuen," a Norwegian version of "My Rainbow Race," penned by American folk sing Pete Seeger.

A Wal-Mart Detective Story

Be sure to click on the image to make it, you know, readable.

Via BoingBoing

Talk About Pulling at the Heartstrings, Damnit

Homecoming via AfterElton

I Have Stage-Three Cancer of Socialism...And Lots of It

I assume Rep. Todd Akin supports this statement, but after recent comments I'm not so sure if the statement is pro- or anti-Akin.

Via The Maddow Blog

In the fight over student loans, yesterday offered some good news and some bad news. The good news is, House Republicans have switched gears and are now willing to prevent interest rates from doubling for over 7 million students.

The bad news is, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he wants to pay for the measure by taking money out of the Affordable Care Act's "slush fund."

Obamacare has a "slush fund"? Actually, no. As Greg Sargent explained, Boehner is referring to funds the Department of Health and Human Services can use on preventive care and public health programs, in addition to resources to help states set up health insurance exchanges. It's fully transparent; it's part of existing law, and it's money well spent. This is largely the opposite of a "slush fund."

Regardless, it leaves the debate in an unpleasant place. House Republicans, at least of yesterday, effectively want to give Democrats a choice: cut health care investments or raise student loan interest rates. It's at least mildly encouraging that GOP officials aren't actively trying to raise interest rates, but in the larger fight, it's one step forward and one step back.

On a related note, Rep. Todd Akin (R), a U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri, said a few days ago that he considers the very existence of the federal student-loan program "the equivalent of stage three cancer of socialism." If you missed it on the show last night, President Obama referenced Akin's comments at an event in Iowa yesterday.

For those who can't watch clips online, Obama said, "You've got one member of Congress who compared these student loans -- I'm not kidding here -- to a 'stage-three cancer of socialism.' Stage-three cancer? I don't know where to start. What do you mean? What are you talking about? Come on. Just when you think you've heard it all in Washington, somebody comes up with a new way to go off the deep end."

Thursday Beau: Call Me!

Via boy culture

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mon Dieu!

Canada's Butchart Gardens via All That Is Interesting

Shy, Smart, Sweet-Natured and Serious

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook.

As someone who holds firmly to the "do not speak ill of the dead" (unless the dead happen to be a murdering tyrant or a hatefilled GOPeer) (okay, now that I've said that, I don't really hold firmly to it, but shut up...), I find it very sad (disgusting, enraging), that people would say horrible things about someone who not only provided a modicum (which is a lot more than most of us do) of joy to the lives of lots and lots of gay men (and some straight women) but also someone who was in enough pain (potentially) to take his own life.

Michael Lucas via HuffingtonPost

Dror Barak's hot body was barely cold when the online vultures came to pick at him.

I met Dror at a gym four years ago, when he came over to help me with an exercise that I was doing wrong; he was worried that I might hurt myself. By then he was building a career as a personal trainer, but I recognized him, as many did, from his brief foray into gay porn. A square-jawed and hairy bodybuilder, he had fired up the screen in a dozen or so movies under the name "Roman Ragazzi" before he left the business in 2008.

His porn persona was tough, with a military edge (he had served in the Israeli army in his youth), but in real life he was shy, smart, sweet-natured, and serious. We saw each other socially from time to time, and I was devastated to learn, in late February, that he had taken his own life at the age of 38. My sadness turned to fury when I made the mistake of reading the comments sections on websites that had reported Dror's death.

"A nation grieves," sneered one commenter on Queerty. "Go to any gym in WeHo or Manhattan and you'll find tons of guys that look just like him and want to take his place, and are basically just as useless." An anonymous sniper on Datalounge had a similar response: "Boo hoo. Another dead, fucked up pornie." Other posters shared their opinions that men who acted in porn films were "monsters," "glorified prostitutes," "gross, sad creatures," and "rancid... alcoholic...drugged-up idiots." (Ten Queerty readers, asked to describe the report on Dror's suicide, hit the "LOL" tag.)

Many commenters took Dror's death as an occasion for assumptions and moralizing. Dror, they guessed, was a meth addict and/or a prostitute and/or a failure. "It's unfortunate but typical of many porn/ex-porn stars who get into drugs and escorting to keep up their lifestyle," wrote one. "He recently retired and started up an online fitness site. The business presumably did not do well?" wrote another. A third veered into wild speculation: "I don't know if he used his good looks to assist drug dealers in whatever games they dream up to humiliate their victims."

A comment on summed up this wing of opinion succinctly: "Nice people don't do porn."

But nice guys do do porn, and Dror was one of them. "He had such a gentle soul," recalls Sam, his last boyfriend. "He was the most affectionate person I've ever dated. He loved really hard." Dror was devoted to animals (he dreamed of leaving the city and starting a rescue service for Labrador Retrievers) and intensely protective of the people in his life. "He always wanted to create a world for us inside this Chelsea gay world," his boyfriend says. "He wanted us to be sheltered and safe: our own thing, inside a bubble."

That bubble was important because Dror was far from the drug-addled party stud that his posthumous attackers imagine. "I don't go out much, I don't drink, I don't do any drugs," Sam says. "Not that many other people have that lifestyle who are gay and living in New York. We really connected over that." Friends remember Dror as intelligent and well-informed about world events. He was an official at the Israeli consulate until the New York Post exposed him as a porn actor in 2007 (before his films had even come out); he had a degree in Middle Eastern studies, spoke Arabic, and subscribed to the public-policy journal Foreign Affairs.

Dror did not work as an escort, and porn was just a means to an end. "He was driven and ambitious," recalls Jake Deckard, who made several movies with him for the studio Raging Stallion. "He was doing porn purely as a means to produce capital for his private trainer business; he walked in with a very high price tag, and got exactly what he wanted. I thought it was really awesome that he understood his value. I quietly hoped that he would succeed in a major way."

Dror spent the last years of his life working toward that success. "I've never seen a personal trainer work so hard in my life," Sam says. "He was constantly reading books; he had a vast knowledge of every facet of his work." He often went to sleep at 9 p.m. and woke up at 5 a.m. to start training. And his efforts paid off: Dror's business was booming, with a regular stable of high-level clients.

And then he killed himself. We can't know what was in Dror's mind that day. But those closest to him say that the sadness that consumed him was not related to drugs, AIDS, the porn world, the New York Post, or any of the other villains imagined online. His pain, they say, dated back to before he became the imposing brute worshipped and resented by strangers, all the way back to when he was just a boy, neglected and underfed and brutalized by sexual predators. Though he never went into details, friends say that he was raped repeatedly as a child.

"He was smart, he was educated, he was beautiful, he had a successful business that he had built from nothing, but nothing took enough of the pain away," Sam says. "He told me that he felt pain every day from his childhood. He woke up every morning remembering what he went through." Protective of his public image as a powerful, positive person, an image integral to his success as a trainer, he kept his private hurt to himself. Eventually he found it overwhelming.

"I want people to know that he was abused, because I do not want people to think that he was just this beautiful god who had everything," says Sam. "This big, strong image was a defense mechanism. Somebody took his chance away, in his childhood. More than one person took his chance away at a normal life. They took a sensitive and gentle soul, and they broke it."

It may be hard to think of big, powerful Roman Ragazzi as the victim of bullies. But that's what he was in many ways: first as a boy, then in his suffering mind, and now, again, at the hands of petty, vicious people who hide in the shadows of the Internet to jeer at the graves of their betters.

It doesn't even matter that these creeps are so wrong about Dror as a person. Even if Dror had been an escort; even if he had been addicted to drugs; even if he had been stupid, or sick, or unsuccessful, he would have been a human being who deserved our consideration and respect. Last month, another gay-porn star, Matt Bremer, who went by the name "Sean" on the Corbin Fisher website, died suddenly at the age of 22. Bremer had a history of drug problems, but I defy anyone to read his grandmother's reaction to his death and still dismiss him.

Those who look down on porn say that it objectifies the men who perform in it. But those very critics are often the ones who refuse to think of porn stars as real people -- with feelings, hopes, personalities, histories, and complicated motives -- in the first place. What anger, what cruelty, what personal meanness could lead those online commenters to mock a beautiful man's untimely death? Dror Barak spent his life being judged in public, but he had nothing to be ashamed of. These anonymous, cowardly, ugly-souled bullies do.

I provided within the body of the quote only the link to Bremer's grandmother's reaction, but the article does include links to other articles, so if you are interested be sure and click over.

A Little Nibble to Get Your Through Your Hump Day Lunch Hour

Via Gay Sex is the Answer

Happy Hump Day

Perdu au coeur des prairies du Kentucky

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lana Del Rey's Carmen

Publishing Triangle Winners

On Friday, Publishing Triangle announced the winners for their annual awards.

Paul Russell won the Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian and Gay Fiction for his novel The Unreal Life of Servey Nabokov, based on the life of Vladimir Nabokov's gay brother, making Russell the first repeat winner of this award. He had previously won the award in 2000 for his novel The Coming Storm.

Visit Band of Thebes for more information and a full awards listing.

Pentatonix Cover Somebody That I Used to Know

I'm officially over Goyte, but I still love Pentatonix, so here is another cover (and another cover) of the song that is currently more everywhere than anything by Adele.

Thank you, Towleroad!

Notable 2011-2012 Books by African American LGBT Authors

Via HuffingtonPost:

Mogul by Terrance Dean, released June 14, 2011. It has been nominated in the Bisexual Fiction category for the 2012 Lambda Literary Awards. His first book, Hiding in Hip Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry -- From Music to Hollywood, is number six on's list of the top 25 gay books and was an Essence bestseller. Terrance Dean is a speaker, educator, author, and hip-hop head.

I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman by Toni Newman, released April 14, 2011. It has been nominated in two categories, Memoirs and Transgender Nonfiction, for the 2012 Lambda Literary Awards. It is number 24 on list of the top 25 transgender biographies. I am a writer, author, and law school student and graduated from Wake Forest University in 1985 with a B.A. in sociology.

The Bad Seed by Lee Hayes, released June 7, 2011. According to "Lee Hayes, the critically acclaimed author of Passion Marks, A Deeper Blue: Passion Marks 2, and The Messiah, returns with a delightfully wicked spin on what constitutes a 'bad seed.'"

Transparent by Don Lemon, released by May 11, 2011. According to "In this unique memoir, Primetime CNN anchor Don Lemon takes readers behind the scenes of journalism, detailing his own struggle to become one of the most prominent African American men in television news -- and inside some of the biggest stories of our times."

When Love Takes Over: A Celebration of SGL Couples of Color by Darian Aaron, released June 2, 2011. It profiles 18 African-American "same-gender-loving" couples who are in committed, long-term relationships. According to "The couples detail how they met, their journey towards self-acceptance, liberation and ultimately how they fell in love and maintain their relationships. All the while defying the myth that two black men are incapable of loving each other for a lifetime."

Mind Your Own Life: The Journey Back to Love by Aaron Anson, released May 11, 2011. According to "A brave and deeply personal memoir of one man's quest to rise above the the political and religious rhetoric that had divided and diminished the human spirit for thousands of years. Aaron Anson engagingly writes about his own experiences of growing up a black gay Christian in a deeply religious South."

I Dreamt I Was in Heaven: The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter, released Aug. 5, 2011. According to "Leonce Gaiter's noir thriller 'Bourbon Street' was published by Carroll & Graf. His non-fiction has appeared in The Huffington Post, LA Times, The Washington Post, Salon, NY Times, NY Times Magazine and in national syndication. He has worked professionally in the creative ends of the film, recording, and marketing industries."

The Kid by Sapphire, released July 5, 2011. According to "Fifteen years after the publication of Push, one year after the Academy Award-winning film adaptation, Sapphire gives voice to Precious's son, Abdul."

Dangerous Pleasures by Fiona Zedde, released Jan. 25, 2011. According to her website: "Fiona Zedde is a transplanted Jamaican currently living and working in Tampa, Florida. She is the author of six novels -- Bliss, A Taste of Sin, Every Dark Desire, Hungry for It, Kisses after Midnight, and Dangerous Pleasures - as well as three novellas (Pure Pleasure, Going Wild, and Sexual Attraction) published in the collections Satisfy Me, Satisfy Me Again, and Satisfy Me Tonight, respectively."

Sir, Yes Sir by Mike Warren, released July 12, 2011. According to "Sir, Yes Sir is the third and final installment detailing the wild and thoroughly entertaining life of Sean Matthews. After A Private Affair, and the sequel, Sweet Swagger, Sean heads to his new duty station in Hawaii with the love of his life by his side. Just as things heat up, Sean meets his father for the first time and is shocked by finding out a deep, dark family secret. Between running for his life, and the threat of being put out of the military, all hell breaks loose, and Sean [is] staring death in the eye."

Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual African American Fiction edited by Devon W. Carbado, Dwight McBride, and Don Weise, released Oct. 4, 2011. According to "Showcasing the work of literary giants like Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, and writers whom readers may be surprised to learn were 'in the life,' Black Like Us is the most comprehensive collection of fiction by African American lesbian, gay, and bisexual writers ever published. From the Harlem Renaissance to the Great Migration of the Depression era, from the postwar civil rights, feminist, and gay liberation movements, to the unabashedly complex sexual explorations of the present day, Black Like Us accomplishes a sweeping survey of 20th century literature."

Black Fire: Gay-African American Erotica by Jamie Freeman, released Feb. 15, 2011. According to "Black Fire celebrates the heat and power of sex between black men: the rude B-boys and gorgeous thugs, the worshippers of heavenly ass, and the devoutly religious in their forays through the subterranean grottoes of the down-low world..."

Queer Pollen: White Seduction, Black Male Homosexuality, and the Cinematic by David A. Gerstner, released March 1, 2011. According to "Queer Pollen discusses three notable black queer twentieth century artists -- painter and writer Richard Bruce Nugent, author James Baldwin, and filmmaker Marlon Riggs -- and the unique ways they turned to various media to work through their experiences living as queer black men. David A. Gerstner elucidates the complexities in expressing queer black desire through traditional art forms such as painting, poetry, and literary prose, or in the industrial medium of cinema. This challenge is made particularly sharp when the terms 'black' and 'homosexuality' come freighted with white ideological conceptualizations."

Bi-Curious: Volume 2 by Natalie Weber, released Feb. 12, 2012. According to "Weber delivers the powerful and provocative tale of a woman whose bi-curious nature gets her into more trouble than she can escape."

The Sweeter the Juice edited by Marcus Anthony, released March 15, 2011. According to "STARbooks Press is proud to release their first collection from Marcus Anthony, featuring stories of men of color and those who lust after them. Featuring the hottest writers in gay erotica, these stories will have you thinking twice about your 'type' and make you pursue a more diverse array of men."

Lickin' License Part 2: More Sex, More Saga by Intelligent Allah, released Feb. 14, 2012. According to "Lickin License 2: More Sex, More Saga finds Rich struggling to lead a crime-free life and save his three-way relationship with Candy and Vanessa." Another listing writes, "Candy is a 31 year old money getter who owns Candy's Shop the hottest beauty salon in Harlem. She can have any man she wants, but men are not her thing."

Tuesday Beau: Rugby Anyone?

Via Nerd/Perv

Monday, April 23, 2012

Geek Schwing!

Mario and Luigi - cute hotter versions of them - making out.

Via Unicorn Booty

I SO need to find a scruffy boy to make out with. NOW!

An Introduction to Joy Division

I'm sure a better fan could describe Joy Division better than me, after all, Love Will Tear Us Apart is about the only song I've ever listened to by them. Originally called Warsaw, Joy Division quickly went from punk to pioneer the post-punk movement of the 1970s. As the band became increasingly popular, lead singer Ian Curtis' life began to dissolve: his marriage fell apart and he was diagnosed with epilepsy: he found it increasingly difficult to perform at live concerts.

Finally, on the eve of Joy Division's American tour in May 1980, Curtis committed suicide.

The remaining members of Joy Division then formed the band New Order and became a mainstay of the 80s and the 90s:

And here for your watching...erm...pleasure is the 2007 film Control, a biopic of Ian Curtis and Joy Division:

Via Dangerous Minds: Corporate CEOs make 380x the wage of the average American worker

Via Dangerous Minds

(BTW, if you follow any of the Dangerous Minds links that I've posted today, you'll notice that DM is down for maintenance. Boo.)

(Also, click on the image to make it bigger.)

On the Occasion of George Zimmerman Being Released on Bond

Via Daily Kos: How to talk to a Zimmerman apologist...if you must.

A Thing of Beauty

Yup. A drag queen Joy Divison cover band.

Bask in the glory at Dangerous Minds

Repost: Everything You Know About Free Market Capitalism is Wrong

Via Dangerous Minds

One of the big "sacred cows" of libertarian "free market" Capitalism is the supposed "invisible hand" of the marketplace keeping supply and demand in line with the price of a particular commodity or service.

The problem is, it’s just a myth, albeit a persistent one.

Jonathan Schlefer writes at the Harvard Business Review, that there is no evidence for the invisible hand:

One of the best-kept secrets in economics is that there is no case for the invisible hand. After more than a century trying to prove the opposite, economic theorists investigating the matter finally concluded in the 1970s that there is no reason to believe markets are led, as if by an invisible hand, to an optimal equilibrium — or any equilibrium at all. But the message never got through to their supposedly practical colleagues who so eagerly push advice about almost anything. Most never even heard what the theorists said, or else resolutely ignored it.

Of course, the dynamic but turbulent history of capitalism belies any invisible hand. The financial crisis that erupted in 2008 and the debt crises threatening Europe are just the latest evidence. Having lived in Mexico in the wake of its 1994 crisis and studied its politics, I just saw the absence of any invisible hand as a practical fact. What shocked me, when I later delved into economic theory, was to discover that, at least on this matter, theory supports practical evidence.

Adam Smith suggested the invisible hand in an otherwise obscure passage in his Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776. He mentioned it only once in the book, while he repeatedly noted situations where "natural liberty" does not work. Let banks charge much more than 5% interest, and they will lend to "prodigals and projectors," precipitating bubbles and crashes. Let "people of the same trade" meet, and their conversation turns to "some contrivance to raise prices." Let market competition continue to drive the division of labor, and it produces workers as "stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become."

That’s Adam Smith talking there, about 75 years before Marx and Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto!

Just saying...

Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 in Paperback

It's apparently coming out Proust.

Via GalleyCat

Pro-LGBT views vs. Chick-fi-lame

Via Towleroad: NYU students, Rainbow Flag creator protest anti-gay Chick-fil-A:

Cord Jefferson today tore into equality-minded people who still partake in the unapologetic company's offerings: "If you find that it's impossible to stop eating at Chick-fil-A despite your deeply rooted pro-LGBT values, perhaps those values aren't as deep-seated as you think." I would say that's a fair assessment.

NPR on Zac (kiepoo)

Via NPR: What Zac Efron's Beard Means for Men and Women in Hollywood

New (Good) Morning from Darren Criss and His Brother Chuck

Via Towleroad

Friday, April 20, 2012

Today is the Day of Silence

See more at Towleroad

Book People Unite

Thank you, NPR

Reynolds Price: 1933-2011

I was saddened this morning to see the dedication in the latest edition of Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories (for 2012) in honor of Reynolds Price who apparently died last year. It is not uncommon for me to know about these things way after the fact.

Sometime in the 90s I was talking to my roommate about how cut-off I felt from the world - this before my library job made the daily news incessantly available. I commented to her that for all I knew George Burns could be dead and I would never know.

She looked at me, put a hand on my knee, and said, rather calmly, George Burns is dead. Has been for about 5 years now.

For at least an hour I did not believe her.

I am not surprised that someone whom, though I admired, I didn't really think about that often - that is until I'd see his book Ardent Spirits and remind myself to add that a little closer to the top of my reading list. And to be honest, in my little knowledge of him, he seemed (still seems) too young to have died last year.

So, today I send my belated well wishes to Price on the next stage of his journey, whatever that is, and thank him for what he's left behind.

Price's last (unfinished) memoir, Midstream, will be released in May.

It's Friday, I'm in Love

Via OMGblog

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Want: (Penguin Classics)^Red

Penguin Classics has released a series of books with loverly new covers and binding as part of the (Penguin Classics)^RED series from which 50% of the profits go to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.

Above are the four titles that we just received at my library. I hope we get more. (There's a version of Dracula that I'm looking forward to seeing.)

For more information, check out the Penguin Classics Red website.

Thursday Beau

Via Back2Stonewall

My scheduled posts still aren't posting when I want them too. But I'm through all the older saved posts. YAY, me!

Cool: High Resolution Image of the Sun's Surface

Erm...rather: Hot! Or something...

Via All That Is Interesting

Thursday Review

I fairly recently joined Goodreads, a social network based around your reading. You enter in what you've read and then the website recommends books for you, but you can also befriend other people and follow authors or even follow other readers as well as post your own reviews of what you read.

Thanks to this blog, I can fairly easily catalog what I've read for the past 5 years; however, there's quite a large collection of books that I know or think I've read that I don't have a time frame for. For example, I'm pretty sure that I read Mary Norton's Are All the Giants Dead? in elementary school, or at least tried to.

The feeling of boredom I felt at the opening social visits to the royal Boofy and Beau is analogous to a similar feeling of boredom I remember feeling as a child, a feeling that I don't think I pushed on through.

So, I imagine, the book was one I started but didn't finish, and that my best memories of the book are the illustrations by Brian Froud.

I'm happy to say that I did push on through that boredom (a boredom reminiscent of the boredom I imagine James, our hero, felt at the same social visit) and did indeed finish the book. I imagine if I had trudged through the niceties, I would come to the page in which we learn (along with James) that Boofy and Beau are Belle and the Beast, now elderly living in their castle.

And to some degree that's how I've been describing this book: peopled with elderly versions of fairy tale characters. I imagine (I'm imagining a lot apparently) that the cast of Cocoons (I miss Maureen Stapleton) or Batteries Not Included playing the characters here. There's even a witch (just the one) being cared for by her granddaughter.

I would categorize this as a "gentle" read. The one death - that of a giant - occurs in a blink of an eye, and you don't really know that it's occur until the giant hasn't moved for a page or two. The creepiest scenario turns into a petting zoo.

Possibly my favorite thing about this book was the two Jacks, Jack-the-Giant-Killer and Jack-of-the-Beanstalk, two old bachelors living under the same roof of an inn and cared for by a "widder" woman. Obviously Mary Norton doesn't come right out and say it, but it seems very much like they're old lovers. When Jack-the-Giant-Killer gets upset at the prospect there being one more giant alive, Jack-of-the-Beanstalk is there with a kind word and a gentle hand as though they've been married for many an age.

So, if you like a fairly quiet adventure, one peopled with warm days and quiet greens - I keep thinking this is the antithesis of The Hunger Games - by all means pick it up, even if simply to remember what it was like before everything was so tense and high drama and explosions. And all you really had to worry about was the strange pair of dancing shoes that kept trying to get into your house whenever you opened the door.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

She's Gonna Be Famous

I hope y'all will join me tonight in watching Modern Family. Now that I only work the one job, I've been catching up on my TV watching, and Modern Family was always something that I wanted to watch but couldn't.

Tonight is extra special because one of my college friends, actress Mandy McMillian is on it, so I hope you'll join me and Mandy and a bunch of other people and watch tonight's show.

Also, stay after and watch Don't Trust the B.... in Apt. 23 which is the focus of a One Million Moms attack

Super Beau: Matthew Mitcham

I shall never bypass an opportunity to post/share/drool over an image of Matthew Mitcham.

Via Towleroad

I Want

The suits. Not the model.


Okay, okay. The model too.

My Favorite Parts of the Great Wall...

...are the parts that don't get much foot traffic.

Via All That Is Interesting

Many people only get to see a small portion of the Great Wall of China. Quite a bit of it has been taken over by the elements, and, to be quite honest, those parts are much, much cooler. To see more of it, check out this book of photographs by Chen Changfen.

Ann Patchett's Take on the Pulitzer (Non) Prize

Via the NYT:

Still, it is infinitely more galling to me as a reader, because there were so many good books published this year. I put Edith Pearlman’s “Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories” at the top of that list, and so did many others. She was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and a finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize. Her collection would have stood among the best winners in the Pulitzer’s history.

My other favorite was Denis Johnson’s “Train Dreams,” which did make it onto the Pulitzer Prize shortlist. I don’t think there is a sentence in that book that isn’t perfectly made, and its deeply American story fits with the Pulitzer’s criteria.

On that count, the prize could rightly have gone to two other books with important takes on the American condition: Russell Banks’s “Lost Memory of Skin” or Jesmyn Ward’s “Salvage the Bones,” the winner of the National Book Award. It could have taken a turn for the strange and highly imaginative and gone to another of the three finalists, Karen Russell’s “Swamplandia!” or to Kevin Wilson’s beautifully weird “The Family Fang.”

And while no one has ever won for two consecutive books, couldn’t this have been the year? I have no doubt that Jeffrey Eugenides would have won for “The Marriage Plot” if he hadn’t already won for “Middlesex.”

If I feel disappointment as a writer and indignation as a reader, I manage to get all the way to rage as a bookseller.

Heat + Lack of Condoms + Horny Teens = Babehs

Via Boing Boing: Child impregnation most popular in Bible Belt

Super Mario Bros. AND

Via Boing Boing

Zachary Pollock is looking to raise $26,400 on Kickstarter to buy "a lot of [Lego] bricks" for use in a 780,000-piece re-creation of the entire first level of Super Mario Bros. Once completed, it will be exhibited in Portland and Seattle, with possible side-trips to PAX and SDCC.

In 2005, I rediscovered my passion for building big. I realized that as an adult I have much greater access to large supplies of LEGO bricks now than I ever did as a kid. Since then, my projects have hovered between 6,000 – 15,000 pieces. By recreating Level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. in LEGO bricks, this project trumps all of my other work by leaping to almost 780,000 LEGO studs. No one that I am aware of has done a LEGO mosaic on this scale before. Only a small number of people have done work with this number of bricks. The final project will stand over six feet tall and over 90 feet wide.

Poems For Sale

Via NPR:

Zach Houston runs his Poem Store (on any given sidewalk) with these items: a manual typewriter, a wooden folding chair, scraps of paper, and a white poster board that reads: "POEMS — Your Topic, Your Price."

Houston usually gets from $2 to $20 for a poem, he says. He's received a $100 bill more than once. The Oakland, Calif., resident has been composing spontaneous street poems in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2005. Five years ago, it became his main source of income.

"I quit my last conventional job on April Fools' Day, 2007," says Houston, 29. "They didn't believe me, because I said I was going to write poems, on the street, with a typewriter — for money." It was no April Fools' joke.

The Man's Always Been an Idiot

No. Obama is NOT going to take away your guns. You fucking moron.

Via NPR:

For telling National Rifle Association members over the weekend that "I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year" if President Obama is re-elected, rocker Ted Nugent has now attracted the attention of the Secret Service.

The Secret Service will when you're put in prison, but not Obama.

BoingBoing: Tim Power's Hide Me Among the Graves

Via Boing Boing:

Tim Powers's latest novel is Hide Me Among the Graves, and it is a fine example of the work of a much-beloved author, and a spooky ride through Victorian London to boot. In Hide Me, Powers retells the lives of pre-Raphaelite sculptor Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his siblings, notably the poet Christina Rossetti. Powers is justly famed for his secret histories, fictionalized accounts of real historical persons that turn the coincidences of their lives into deep mysteries to be plumbed for stories. Here is a near-perfect example of how well this trick works, especially for Tim Powers, whose special gift is to be able to write about superstition and the supernatural in a way that literally raises the hairs on my neck and puts gooseflesh on my arms, though I am as staunch an atheist materialist as you will ever meet.

Here, the spookiness revolves around two ancient vampires -- one of them having started her life as Bodicea -- who haunt London, and whose bite and blood grant poets and painters access to surpassing beauty and art. These two beasts are working to destroy London, to call down an earthquake that will kill everyone in the city, and their plan requires the blood and cooperation of the Rossettis, who are -- at times, and always motivated by access to the numinous -- willing accomplices to this plan. As a variety of personages fictional and real chase each other through the superstition-steeped cobbles of London, and through the ancient and haunted cloacae that run beneath the streets, we're exposed to a dreadful and terrifying Victorian world.

Powers's treatment of superstition works so well, I think, because he deals with it without apology. There's never a sense that superstition is just a kind of alternate physics, with its own rules that are different from the ones we're accustomed to. The supernatural world of Tim Powers has an internal logic, but it's the logic of dreams and the id, not the logic of the scientific method. Powers's work engages with something prerational that is buried deep, deep in our brains, and that won't be bullied into submission by mere reason.

Happy Hump Day

Via the growing geek