Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Will Always

Via BuzzFeed's The 15 Greatest Spock Quotes as Motivational Posters

Leonard Nimoy's Last Tweet

Via The Verge

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Via Narratively: The Secret Life of a Public Library Security Guard

Very good read...maybe mostly because working at a public library, you work closely with these guys, and I'm grateful for that.

Image and quote from narratively

In a city of more than 66,000, there might be as many as 2,000 visitors every day. Indoor spaces that are actually open to the public are a rare find, and in a city like Portland, Maine — with months upon months of winter and an immense homeless population — the library becomes a living room of sorts. Keeping good guard of the library is delicate work. One must disrupt as few people as possible. Keeping the building safe and comfortable while at the same time truly public can be a precarious balance.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What is home?

Image via NYT

Cuban, gay poet Richard Blanco has a piece newly up at NPR: An American Dream, A Cuban Soul: Poet Richard Blanco Finds Home

It's said that every writer spends his or her entire life working on a single poem or one story. Figuratively, of course, this means that writers are each possessed by a certain obsession. As such, their entire body of work, in one way or another, is generally an attempt to dimension some part of that obsession, ask questions about it, answer them and then ask many new questions.

But — writer or not — I think that's true of any life; we all have an obsession that permeates and shapes our lives. In my case, my life is my art, and my art is my life — one in the same — and my personal and artistic obsession comes down to a single word, one question: What is home? And all that word calls to mind with respect to family, community, place, culture and national loyalties. A word, a universal question that we all ask ourselves, especially in a country like the United States, home to so many peoples and cultures.

But will he speak to me in Dothraki while he's doing unspeakable things to me?

Jason Momoa (or as you may know him Khal Drogo) as Aquaman

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

NPR: Selected Letters of Langston Hughes

Via NPR

In addition to poems and plays and stories, Langston Hughes also wrote letters — a lot of letters. The letters — compiled for the first time in Selected Letters of Langston Hughes — offer insight into a man deeply devoted to his craft, and chronicle his often tumultuous personal and professional relationships.

"He was an inveterate letter writer," Arnold Rampersad, co-editor of the compilation, tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "He would write sometimes 30 or 40 working late into the night, into the early morning. He believed in letters and he also saved them."

And if you love to read letters, NPR has a selection of collections of letters in honor of Black History Month.

LaShonda Katrice Barnett's Jam on the Vine

NPR's Rachel Martin interviews LaShonda Katrice Barnett about her new book Jam on the Vine

It is the beginning of the 20th century, and a young African-American woman named Ivoe Williams is determined to carve out her own path in the world. As a black woman attracted to other women and determined to become a journalist in the Jim Crow South, she will have no choice but to make her own way.

Williams is the central character in the debut novel from LaShonda Katrice Barnett. The book is called "Jam! On The Vine." And it guides the reader through this dark chapter in American history and the story of one woman who tried to change it with a printing press.

We're All One

Via NPR

The recording gives us a new insight into Abu-Salha, 21, who was killed Tuesday along with her husband, Deah Barakat, 23, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Chelsea Manning OK'd for hormone therapy

Image and quote via USA Today

The Army has approved Chelsea Manning's request for hormone therapy.

In a first for the Army, Chelsea Manning, the convicted national-security secrets leaker, has been approved for hormone therapy for transition to a woman at the Army's Fort Leavenworth prison, according to a memo obtained Thursday by USA TODAY.

Manning remains a soldier as well as an inmate.

"After carefully considering the recommendation that (hormone treatment) is medically appropriate and necessary, and weighing all associated safety and security risks presented, I approve adding (hormone treatment) to Inmate Manning's treatment plan," Col. Erica Nelson, the commandant of the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas, wrote in a Feb. 5 memo.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Welcome to the Dark Side

Via NPR

Beau: Hozier

Via NYMag;s The Cut: Hozier on Gay Rights, Sexuality and Good Hair

The song serves simultaneously as a message about human rights, a commentary about Hozier's upbringing in what he calls a "cultural landscape that is blatantly homophobic," and a strong statement about the institutional homophobia in Putin's Russia.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tamayn, Check Out Take Me To Church

12 Downloads You Won't Regret? Pretty True So Far

Via audiomack

Found this looking for the song Coffee by Sylvan Esso. Check it out.

New Greek government to extend civil union recognition to gay couples

Image and quote via Joe.My.God.

Greece's new left-wing government has promised to grant same-sex couples legal status, in response to a 2013 international court decision condemning the country for discrimination. Justice Minister Nikolaos Paraskevopoulos told parliament Monday that civil partnerships, first legislated in 2008, would be extended to gay couples but did not say when the changes were planned. The pledge was made two weeks after the left-wing Syriza party ousted conservatives in a general election and formed a coalition government with a right-wing, anti-bailout party, one which in the past has opposed awarding gay partners legal status. In 2013, the Council of Europe's Court of Human Rights awarded plaintiffs damages after they successfully challenged the Greek state over its civil partnerships law. (AP)

By far, the best performance of the 2015 Grammys

Via Billboard

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The curious love of reading

The image and quote from the New Yorker's The History of "Loving" to Read

Romance structures literary life, and to be a reader is, often, to follow its choreography, from susceptibility and discovery (“I just saw it there in the bookstore!”) to infatuation, intimacy, identification, and obsession. We connect with books in an intellectual way, but the most valuable relationships we have with them are emotional; to say that you merely admire or respect a book is, on some level, to insult it. Feelings are so fundamental to literary life that it can be hard to imagine a way of relating to literature that doesn’t involve loving it. Without all those emotions, what would reading be?

A Week of Books

From the Pulitzer Prize winning and bestselling author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb the remarkable story of the Spanish Civil War through the eyes of the reporters, writers, artists, doctors, and nurses who witnessed it. The Spanish Civil War inspired and haunted an extraordinary number of exceptional artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and John Dos Passos. The idealism of the cause - defending democracy from fascism at a time when Europe was darkening toward another world war - and the brutality of the conflict drew from them some of their best work: Guernica, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Homage to Catalonia, The Spanish Earth.

The war spurred breakthroughs in military and medical technology as well. New aircraft, new weapons, new tactics and strategy all emerged in the intense Spanish conflict. Indiscriminate destruction raining from the sky became a dreaded reality for the first time. Progress also arose from the horror: the doctors and nurses who volunteered to serve with the Spanish defenders devised major advances in battlefield surgery and front-line blood transfusion. In those ways, and in many others, the Spanish Civil War served as a test bed for World War II, and for the entire twentieth century.

From the life of John James Audubon to the invention of the atomic bomb, readers have long relied on Richard Rhodes to explain, distill, and dramatize crucial moments in history. Now, he takes us into battlefields and bomb shelters, into the studios of artists, into the crowded wards of war hospitals, and into the hearts and minds of a rich cast of characters to show how the ideological, aesthetic, and technological developments that emerged in Spain changed the world forever.

Funny Girl takes place in a swinging 60s where the nation is mesmerized by unlikely comedy star Sophie Straw, the former Blackpool beauty queen who just wants to make people laugh, like her heroine Lucille Ball. Behind the scenes, the cast and crew are having the time of their lives. But when the script begins to get a bit too close to home, and life starts imitating art, they all face a choice.

The writers, Tony and Bill, comedy obsessives, each harbour a secret. The Oxbridge-educated director, Dennis, loves his job but hates his marriage. The male star Clive, feels he’s destined for better things. And Sophie Straw, who’s changed her name and abandoned her old life, must decide whether to keep going, or change the channel…

Propelled into the priesthood by a family tragedy, Odran Yates is full of hope and ambition. When he arrives at Clonliffe Seminary in the 1970s, it is a time in Ireland when priests are highly respected, and Odran believes that he is pledging his life to “the good.”

Forty years later, Odran’s devotion is caught in revelations that shatter the Irish people’s faith in the Catholic Church. He sees his friends stand trial, colleagues jailed, the lives of young parishioners destroyed, and grows nervous of venturing out in public for fear of disapproving stares and insults. At one point, he is even arrested when he takes the hand of a young boy and leads him out of a department store looking for the boy’s mother.

But when a family event opens wounds from his past, he is forced to confront the demons that have raged within the church, and to recognize his own complicity in their propagation, within both the institution and his own family.

A novel as intimate as it is universal, A History of Loneliness is about the stories we tell ourselves to make peace with our lives. It confirms Boyne as one of the most searching storytellers of his generation.

An exuberant, expansive cataloging of the intimate physical relationship between a reader and a book

A way to leave a trace of us, who we were or wanted to be, what we read and could imagine, what we did and what we left for you.

Readers of physical books leave traces: marginalia, slips of paper, fingerprints, highlighting, inscriptions. All books have histories, and libraries are not just collections of books and databases but a medium of long-distance communication with other writers and readers.

Letter to a Future Lover collects several dozen brief pieces written in response to library ephemera—with “library” defined broadly, ranging from university institutions to friends’ shelves, from a seed library to a KGB prison library—and addressed to readers past, present, and future. Through these witty, idiosyncratic essays, Ander Monson reflects on the human need to catalog, preserve, and annotate; the private and public pleasures of reading; the nature of libraries; and how the self can be formed through reading and writing.

Single, Carefree, Mellow is that rare and wonderful thing: a debut that is superbly accomplished, endlessly entertaining, and laugh-out-loud funny.

Maya is in love with both her boyfriend and her boss. Sadie’s lover calls her as he drives to meet his wife at marriage counseling. Gwen pines for her roommate, a man who will hold her hand but then tells her that her palm is sweaty. And Sasha agrees to have a drink with her married lover’s wife and then immediately regrets it. These are the women of Single, Carefree, Mellow, and in these eleven sublime stories they are grappling with unwelcome houseguests, disastrous birthday parties, needy but loyal friends, and all manner of love, secrets, and betrayal.

In “Cranberry Relish” Josie’s ex—a man she met on Facebook—has a new girlfriend he found on Twitter. In “Blue Heron Bridge” Nina is more worried that the Presbyterian minister living in her garage will hear her kids swearing than about his finding out that she’s sleeping with her running partner. And in “The Rhett Butlers” a teenager loses her virginity to her history teacher and then outgrows him.

In snappy, glittering prose that is both utterly hilarious and achingly poignant, Katherine Heiny chronicles the ways in which we are unfaithful to each other, both willfully and unwittingly. Maya, who appears in the title story and again in various states of love, forms the spine of this linked collection, and shows us through her moments of pleasure, loss, deceit, and kindness just how fickle the human heart can be.

Mega-bestselling author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) gives us his long-awaited and most ambitious novel yet: a dark, rollicking, stunningly entertaining human comedy.

A boat has gone missing. Goods have been stolen. There is blood in the water. It is the twenty-first century and a crew of pirates is terrorizing the San Francisco Bay.

Phil is a husband, a father, a struggling radio producer, and the owner of a large condo with a view of the water. But he’d like to be a rebel and a fortune hunter.

Gwen is his daughter. She’s fourteen. She’s a student, a swimmer, and a best friend. But she’d like to be an adventurer and an outlaw.

Phil teams up with his young, attractive assistant. They head for the open road, attending a conference to seal a deal.

Gwen teams up with a new, fierce friend and some restless souls. They head for the open sea, stealing a boat to hunt for treasure.

We Are Pirates is a novel about our desperate searches for happiness and freedom, about our wild journeys beyond the boundaries of our ordinary lives.

Also, it’s about a teenage girl who pulls together a ragtag crew to commit mayhem in the San Francisco Bay, while her hapless father tries to get her home.

Set in a near-future LA, a man falls in love with a beautiful android—but when she is kidnapped and sold piecemeal on the black market, he must track down her parts to put her back together.

Bad luck for Eliot Lazar, he fell in love with an android, a beautiful C-900 named Iris Matsuo. That’s the kind of thing that can get you killed in late 21th century Los Angeles or anywhere else for that matter – anywhere except the man-made island of Atlantis, far out in the Pacific, which is where Eliot and Iris are headed once they get their hands on a boat. But then one night Eliot knocks on Iris’s door only to find she was kidnapped, chopped up, sold for parts.

Unable to move on and unwilling to settle for a woman with a heartbeat, Eliot vows to find the parts to put Iris back together again—and to find the sonofabitch who did this to her and get his revenge.

With a determined LAPD detective on his trail and time running out in a city where machines and men battle for control, Eliot Lazar embarks on a bloody journey that will take him to edge of a moral precipice from which he can never return, from which mankind can never return.

In the vein of Blade Runner, Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is a scifi love story that asks the question, how far will you go to save someone you love?

She has been hailed by Michael Chabon as "the most darkly playful voice in American fiction"; by Neil Gaiman as "a national treasure"; and by Karen Russell as "Franz Kafka with a better understanding of ladies' footwear and bad first dates." Now Kelly Link's eagerly awaited new collection--her first for adult readers in a decade--proves indelibly that this bewitchingly original writer is among the finest we have.

Link has won an ardent following for her ability, with each new short story, to take readers deeply into an unforgettable, brilliantly constructed fictional universe. The eight exquisite examples in this collection show her in full command of her formidable powers. In "The Summer People," a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In "I Can See Right Through You," a onetime teen idol takes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In "The New Boyfriend," a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll.

Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, "The Wizard of Oz," superheroes, the Pyramids…These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty--and the hidden strengths--of human beings. In "Get in Trouble," this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.

On a personal note, I am reading Gay Berlin by Robert Beachy and Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico and listening to The Iliad while working on the computer.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The controversy and complications of a new Harper Lee novel

Image and quotes from Jezebel

As many of you may know, a new Harper Lee novel is set to be published this coming summer. Published 55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel is called Go Set a Watchman. And while this has excited many people - I don't think I've ever seen my Facebook wall so happy over a book in my entire stint on Facebook - it does come with some complications.

Sadly, this news is not without controversy or complications. Harper Lee's sister Alice Lee, who ferociously protected Harper Lee's estate (and person) from unwanted outside attention as a lawyer and advocate for decades, passed away late last year, leaving the intensely private author (who herself is reportedly in ill health) vulnerable to people who may not have her best interests at heart.

Click over for the rest.

A Poor Imitation

Image from Letters of Note where you can read a letter from Alan Turing to Norman Routledge, written just before Turing pleaded guilty to the charge of "sexual offences with a young man."

Ok. I admit it. I really liked The Imitation Game - but I'm beginning to believe that that admiration came from two things: 1) my lack of knowledge about Alan Turing, and 2) my belief that life was "done to" Mr. Turing. That he was a victim of a time and law that because he was different, he was to be punished. Which to some degree is the truth, but leads to reactions based more on emotion and the huge, pink, triangle-shaped chip I tend to have on my shoulder, rather than historical fact. I don't like to be lead by the nose regardless.

For example, during the course of the movie, I was unclear how much Alan Turing and Sheldon Cooper (of the TV show The Big Bang Theory) actually had in common. At least according to the movie, they were nearly one and the same.

But after reading the review of The Imitation Game in this week's The New York Review of Books, I fear I may be wrong. (The review has been on their website since December.)

A Poor Imitation of Alan Turing

To anyone trying to turn this story into a movie, the choice seems clear: either you embrace the richness of Turing as a character and trust the audience to follow you there, or you simply capitulate, by reducing him to a caricature of the tortured genius. The latter, I’m afraid, is the path chosen by director Morten Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore in The Imitation Game, their new, multiplex-friendly rendering of the story. In their version, Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) conforms to the familiar stereotype of the otherworldly nerd: he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t even understand an invitation to lunch. This places him at odds not only with the other codebreakers in his unit, but also, equally predictably, positions him as a natural rebel.

[...]

These errors are not random; there is a method to the muddle. The filmmakers see their hero above all as a martyr of a homophobic Establishment, and they are determined to lay emphasis on his victimhood. The Imitation Game ends with the following title: “After a year of government-mandated hormonal therapy, Alan Turing committed suicide in 1954.” This is in itself something of a distortion. Turing was convicted on homosexuality charges in 1952, and chose the “therapy” involving female hormones—aimed, in the twisted thinking of the times, at suppressing his “unnatural” desires—as an alternative to jail time. It was barbarous treatment, and Turing complained that the pills gave him breasts. But the whole miserable episode ended in 1953—a full year before his death, something not made clear to the filmgoer.

[...]

This is indicative of the bad faith underlying the whole enterprise, which is desperate to put Turing in the role of a gay liberation totem but can’t bring itself to show him kissing another man—something he did frequently, and with gusto. And it most definitely doesn’t show him cruising New York’s gay bars, or popping off on a saucy vacation to one of the less reputable of the Greek islands. The Imitation Game is a film that prefers its gay men decorously disembodied.

To be honest, I’m a bit surprised that there hasn’t been more pushback against The Imitation Game by intelligence professionals, historians, and survivors of Turing’s circle. But I think I understand why. After so many years in which Turing failed to get his due, no one wants to be seen as spoiling the party. I strongly doubt, though, that many of those in the know are recommending this film to their friends. (For his part, Andrew Hodges is apparently opting to avoid talking about the movie during his current book tour—it’s easy to imagine why he might choose to do so, and I don’t fault him for it.)

Also, as someone who is helpless when it comes to shows of sentimentality, I tend to cry at movies...a lot. And then when my gushing is shown to be caused by overly-false sentimentality, I tend to hate the thing that caused it more than anything else. For example, the machine Christopher. I bought into that Turing called his machines Christopher because I had enough knowledge to be dangerous to myself and others. And I bought it hook, line and sinker. But apparently there is no historical basis for this bit of romantic mush, and I became a blibbery idiot for no reason. And I typically do not give you two chances to full me. (Well, at least not anymore.)

And, Benedict, don't worry, my darling. I don't blame you.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Happy Birthday, Langston Hughes

Via the independent.

Check out todays Google doodle celebrating the 113th birthday of gay, African American poet Langston Hughes!

I love this quote:

Via pinterest.