Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Purple Hat Willow!

Whenever I've had one of those days that is shitty-as-hell, I want to punch twenty babies, and every moment is laden with a silent gloom and disillusion, I just think of purple floppy hat Willow, and all is right with the world again.

But, what if the talking thing becomes the awkward silence thing?

I think you guys sound good.

I bet you have a lot of groupies.

Oh no! Buffy's party!

Hehe. I said "date."

Friday, July 1, 2011


I recently found a link to download a talk with The Fiction Master. She gave a lecture at Notre Dame about a year before she died in 1964, and also gave a reading of "A Good Man is Hard to Find." The person who posted it is probably violating copyright laws, because it's only available through the university's archives at a somewhat expensive fee, which is why the part of her reading was removed, but her talk is still up. Listen to it while you can, if interested. It's a rare treat and something you won't come across every day. In it, she comments on the grotesque in her writing and in Southern writing, along with the relationship both have to her Catholicism. Great stuff, and it's here.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Read to Write

What's the word? Apparently, writers like Cormac McCarthy and Philip Roth have given up on the word -- at least the made up word. Over at Salon, Laura Miller dedicates an entire article to it. First, I was angry and defensive. What blatant hypocrisy. Then, equal parts disappointed. So, even literary giants like these men don't like to read fiction, which for the most part, the vast majority of people in the world don't read anymore. Philip Roth reads, but in his statement, he claims he now prefers books about history, science, or politics, and goes on to say that he turned away from fiction, because he "wised up." To what exactly, Phil? Because this statement seems to very much bolster the pervading notion that if something isn't true, it isn't valid, and that fiction is frivolous and a waste of time. The overwhelming advice that any aspiring writer gets from the more successful, the advice I've gotten the most of, is to read. Read like mad. But, apparently if you've become a McCarthy or a Roth, you can give it all up after you're successful? You just read to get published, and win Pulitzers, and be a part of Oprah's book club, and then that's it? Miller brings up the appropriate argument that reading too much can actually constrain a writer. I've even heard similar quotes from Alice Munro. I remember reading in an interview with her that she felt reading too much can leave a writer stifled. This is a valid point, because the main goal of a budding writer is to find his or her own unique voice. I think the difference with Munro is that she was warning against reading to the point of imitation, not giving up reading stories altogether.

The reverse ageism underlying in all of the arguments or excuses can't be felt more, coupled with questioning the use for fiction. So, people who have had more experience in life shouldn't indulge in stories? According to this article, they have "reached a saturation point," but then goes on to admit that the novel is perhaps the single most intimate art form revealing the inner life of another person. And, old people shouldn't have this relationship with a story, because they've already met enough people in real life? Huh? What kind of logic is this? The beauty of fiction is in the access of a different consciousness than one's own, and if it's good fiction, the resonance of having this access shouldn't depend on age. Philip Roth may learn facts by reading about science or anthropology, and as Laura Miller notes that staunch proponents of nonfiction proclaim, even if it's poorly written, he will "come away from it having learned something about the world." But, within fiction is just as much truth, only a different kind -- the truth of someone else's experience. The personal truth attests a universal, more transcendent truth. McCarthy or Roth, while were once eighteen, for instance, don't know what it's like to be eighteen now. They don't know what it's like to be a lower class woman living paycheck to paycheck. They don't know what it's like to be a gay teenager kicked out of their parent's home. They don't know what it's like to have survived a rape. They don't know what it's like to be an undocumented U.S. immigrant afraid of law enforcement. They don't know what it's like to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. And, the list could go on. And on. And, while they may have read stories about people like this before, or even written about people in similar situations, it still won't be the same character who's affected in a different way than the particular story they happen to read at the time. Much respect for both of them, much more for McCarthy than Roth, I'll admit, but the central question I can't get over is this: How can any writer expect their work to be read or respected and not consume and support the art they produce?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

He Doesn't Sound Like Someone Who Would Have a Hairy Back

The printed page is obsolete. Information isn't bound up anymore. It's an entity. The only reality is virtual. If you're not jacked in you're not alive. - "I, Robot... You Jane," S1, Ep. 8 of The TV Show

I'm not a person. See me not exist? I'm not on the book of faces, and I don't tweet like a bird. Deleting my Facebook about eight or nine months ago was liberating, and a good number of people have asked me if I miss it, which usually causes me to pause. I think about it, and realize that I haven't even thought about it until they've asked me, so I can say that's a no. I'm broadcasting it in the months after that October post I wrote when I first started this blog that I don't at all. I promised myself I wouldn't write about it anymore, and this post won't be about Facebook. Okay, okay. It is, but it's more about something larger, which is the digital world. Obviously I still live and participate in it without being a part of much social media. I e-mail, text, work a job that glues me to a computer screen for eight hours a day and sometimes more, and read my news mainly on the internet. I'm a cafeteria follower of the digital world. I pick and choose what aspects of it I want to be a part of. And, I've been trying to figure out where I draw the lines. I don't own a TV, which is similarly liberating, but I indulge in a good deal of streaming Netflix and DVDs. I have a laptop and find myself using it for everything, which is part of what I fear about our current technology, especially with that ipad2 commercial where it espouses the greatness of it by showing how it's everything in one device. No, thank you. I still don't know what technologies I find acceptable for myself and which ones I'll pass on. I just recently got a smart phone. Since it was a free upgrade, and the plan was comparable to what I was paying anyway, I figured why not. I hardly use the internet on it though. The only difference is that I'm now updated every time I get an email, which I don't even like and have been meaning to change the settings to disallow that. The week before I got it, I was out at Wick's for the weekly Team Trivia I've been doing for about two years now, and at one point, I scanned my friends, and every single person in our large booth had their head down, crouched over their phones, tapping their screens in silence. I turned to my friend, Alex. "Exhibit A of why I don't want a smart phone." Do we now come out with friends to sit and look at our phones? Is that facebook status, tweet, or Angry Birds game more important than having a conversation in person? Yet, I still caved and got one when I said I never would. Was part of it peer pressure? A response to the jokes I received with my old phone? I'm sad to admit, yes, partly. But, it's scared me into thinking if I gave in to that -- something I never said I would -- what other technology I adamantly refuse will I gradually and inevitably embrace?

At times, I feel like a paranoid lunatic, or think that's how I'm being perceived by some people. Either as someone who's needlessly cautious or someone who's a snob. The issue I'm questioning is one that's been around for quite some time. While thinking about it the past few months, I felt like being conflicted with the digitalization of information and interaction was something specific to the last five years or so. I recently watched an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the campy and self-aware 90'stastic first season, and it hit the same mark I'm writing about now. I found myself falling into the same stance as Giles, the dry but wry British librarian, who outright resists computers altogether, instead of Jenny Calendar, another teacher, who thinks he's a snob for it. He explains at the end of the episode that he doesn't like computers because they don't smell, and as he bumbles, "books smell musty and-and-and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is a - it, uh, it has no-no texture, no-no context. It's-it's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then-then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um, smelly." I've also wondered how prescient the last chapter of Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad is. It thrusts forward to a future world in which people have "hand sets," which I assume is some device like a phone attached to one's hand, people T, meaning text. There was some law passed to protect personal digital information, because it's implied that certain companies somehow exploited people's personal information for marketing purposes, though specific names like Google, Facebook, or Twitter never appear.  Language has changed, and words like "freedom," "democracy," and "story" are all written with quotes around them, because they no longer have any meaning. Text language is ubiquitous and is characterized by abbreviating everything while taking out all vowels. In my experience with the way some people in my life email and text, I can see this shift happening, which is sad. Language evolves, and I'm a strong supporter, but not to the extent of wiping out core elements of what makes our language artful and intelligent. If someone texted or emailed me in this way, I probably wouldn't respond. Or would I have to if everyone in my life did? The hashtags and @reply symbols I sometimes use in emails with my friends ironically, and partly to poke fun at how base digital communication is would no longer be ironic. It would be how I would have to communicate. This gets at the core reason of my resistance to some digital media: it was supposed to make people smarter, but it's seemed to do the opposite, clearly evidenced by the way our language has been dumbed down by it.

Personal interaction. This is the reason I give when asked about why I don't participate in social media. "Because I value personal interaction more," I'll say. It's an easy answer to give, and I've given that same rote response so much I've lost what it even means at times. I also say it's to free myself of distractions. I'm distracted enough as it is to the point where I now put my phone in another room and close the door during activities like a good Saturday morning writing session, and even then I'm on my computer with Gmail or Youtube just a few key strokes away. I often wonder how I get any reading or writing done. That's not to say I don't enjoy what digital media has given me. I like that I can cultivate my own media experience. I can watch the TV shows and movies I want to on Hulu or Netflix without having to own a TV and bring in what I don't want into my home. I can email with a friend who's currently teaching English in Vietnam and follow the blog of her daily events. I can find any previous This American Life podcast I remembered from three years ago and want to re-listen to. I can indulge my love of pop culture while particularly bored at work by texting cast parties back forth with Alex. My ipod is pretty convenient, another technology I once resisted and now have come to accept. Although, I'm guilty of itunes purchases instead of buying from Ear-x-tacy, the local music store in town, and also downloading music in torrents. But, I draw the line at e-readers. And another major line is when it comes to something like real human interaction, which can't be replaced by media. Once, I skyped and was crept out by it. Not just by the audio and visual delay, because even if that glitch was fixed, which I'm sure has been by now, it would still be unsettling to have an interaction with this computer screen, pretending as if it's the loved one. I'm someone who likes to think before I express an idea, who chooses his words carefully. Sometimes this is why I may be a little quiet in social settings, apart from some shyness. This quality I have is part of what makes me want to text or write an email or message instead of speaking in person. It's more controlled. It's not chaotic and free-flowing. I can ponder. So, it's not always easy for me. And maybe this why I'm afraid I'll eventually give in to what I say I won't now. But, I keep in mind that placing more emphasis on written communication as opposed to real time isn't authentic, and that's been my goal by taking out some digital communication in the last almost-year, to experience people in all their quirks and personality more authentically. In that Buffy episode, Willow dates someone over the internet (who yes, in true Buffy fashion, turns out to be a demon), and Buffy is leery, pointing out that she can't know him based on what he writes in messages, saying "he could be a circus freak -- he's probably a circus freak!" and says, jokingly but with a hint of seriousness to Willow, "He could have a hairy back." And, she responds, "Well... he doesn't sound like someone who would have a hairy back." As silly as this point is garnered from the show, Willow's reaction is similar to how people now view interactions with people online, as genuine and wrapped in the illusion of connection, when true connection can't be replaced by the cold, unfeeling, visual field of the computer or phone screen.

What about you? What is your relationship with how you interact with the people in your life and technology? Does such a heavy reliance on digital communication bother you like it does me, at times? Do you ever make an effort to limit it? Or not? Do you think that anything that helps being connected to more people is something good? Do you really think things like social media connect us to the world more? I've been telling myself my smart phone purchase can be offset by lack of FB or twitter. I guess in the end, it's all about a balance. And, I've been doing well in the last few months. I have noticed a difference in the way I value the real communication I have with people, even if they are status updating at the dinner table just a pizza or burrito away.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not to sound racist/homophobic/misogynistic, but...

Whenever someone makes this offhanded preface as a stipulation for what they're about to say, believe what comes out of their mouth next is exactly what they claim it's not. I can say for certain this is true 9/10 times. Just an FYI I want to share, especially in light of Tracy Morgan's recent rant, and the following insincere PR BS.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Call Your Girlfriend

I watched Robyn's new video last night, then went about my life, and then the more I thought about it, the brilliance of it started to resonate slowly. It's one long single shot, she dances, lights flash. What's the big deal? It's the simplicity. In a culture of pop music in which videos are ADD central, and each shot is quick and the cuts sharp, most feel like a visual assault. So, that's why this is so refreshing to me. I watched it again when I got off work, and again, and then a fourth time. It's mesmerizing, demanding that the viewer focus without realizing that's what's being demanded. For the most part, I don't listen to much pop music, and for the acts I do, I usually deem them my "guilty pleasures" and won't admit to liking save for around a select few people. Robyn is my exception. I feel like she's everything Lady Gaga should be but isn't. She's unique. Just look at those dance moves and 80's wear! The difference is that she's just herself without the contrived image. This video re-affirms my opinion, and I wanted to share. I started listening to her Body Talk series in January, fell in love with it, also wrote this post in which Robyn was a part of my discussion, and she's been blowing up my ipod for a solid 5 months now, and I'm going to see her on Sunday, which I feel is like the culmination.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

This Weekend in Quotes

Even though it's Saturday night and there's a whole other day and rest of the night ahead of me -- why yes, I'm putting up a blog post at 10pm on a Saturday night, because I'm the most popular -- I've encountered a few life-affirming quotes so far this weekend. Here's a few examples:

"I really hope they put off the Rapture until after the Preakness. I kind of want to see it." - my dad

"I wish I was Facebook friends with him so I could de-friend him." - Meg

Preface: My mom bought that "fantabulis" red couch (see this post as a reference) she's been dying for. Except with Gracer (see this post as a reference) she doesn't want to get it ruined, so she put a plain white cover over it. She sits down on it, crosses her legs, throws her head back, and sinks into it with both arms sprawled and cusping the top of the cushions. "Oooh, I just love sitting on my new couch. Too bad I can't see it."

My mom hadn't heard about all the Rapture hoopla. When my sister and I told her about it. "No, He'll come like a thief in the night. No one will know the time nor day."

Poll time. Who do you think my mom was referring to when she used the vague patriarchal heavy, gender-biased "He"?

A. Yahweh
B. The Flying Spaghetti Monster
C. Scott Peterson
D. Jeebus
E. Mithra
F. Sharktopus


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Making Up The Rules

I've been confused lately about what it is I actually want. And I mean in the way of my life and how I live it. I'm not really sure how I would categorize my lifestyle. I tend to shy away from anything too personal on this blog. I'm pretty selective about my online presence (No FB, remember, and a big yeah, right to tweets), out of fear that I'll look back on it and regret divulging intimate details and feelings I had. I consider myself a private person. I suddenly feel the need to get a bit personal, though. I don't know why. Maybe because I've been wrestling with these questions and conflicting feelings lately.

When I first came out -- not the arduous process of self-acceptance that took years to gain, but the point at which I was comfortable to tell people close to me -- I had this ideal of eventually finding the right guy to have a big gay wedding with, legal or not, and that would be that. I would be settled and happy. Of course, over time I got jaded, and my experiences and attempts at finding this chipped away at the ideal, even to the point that I stopped believing in romantic love. I still don't to a certain extent. But, lately for some reason, I'm starting to gain back this vision for my life, though not with the same naivete as a teenager, and I wouldn't call it an ideal anymore, but more like opening myself up to the possibility of settling down and sharing a life with someone. Companionship.

This troubles me. I can't help but feel like one big sell out for it. I believe gay marriage will eventually be legalized on a national level in my lifetime, at least I hope. It won't happen overnight or without activists willing to take a stand. Strides are being made. DADT was repealed, and Obama states the Justice Department will no longer defend DOMA. But then, people like John Boehner plan on digging their claws in the traditionalist dirt to counteract and spend huge amounts of money in a shitty economy in the process. It could be in a year, or it could be in another ten to twenty. Who knows? But as progress on marriage equality continues to slowly advance, I ask myself, even if it were legal, would I even want to get married? My go to answer is no, absolutely not. But as I stated in the preceding paragraph, my beliefs for my future are eroding somewhat. Some may claim this is typical of most people in my generation -- sowing their wild oats in their early twenties and then reforming later and getting married with white picket fences and little ones to pass on your own emotional issues to. Some may tell me, it's called growing up and being responsible. Thanks for the condescension, and for the gross generalizing. The issue I'm dealing with seems to be what many LGBT people are questioning now I imagine: Is getting gay married conforming to the heteronormative power structure that's disgustingly oppressive or does it subvert it?

My answer is that it's most likely a little bit of both. But, I'm here to tell you my experience as a gay man who is denied the option to get married on a federal level gives me a perspective on how deeply flawed the institution of marriage is in general. Don't get me wrong, I've encountered many lovely married couples. I'm not criticizing anyone who is married or who wants to get married on any personal level. I just take issue with the massive importance that's placed on it. I never understood why Christianist right wingers claim gay marriage will destroy the institution. If anything, wouldn't allowing more types of people to enter into it fortify it? Logic would dictate people like me would be the "crusaders who are going to tear marriage apart." Of course, this isn't the case. I don't care if people want to get married, I just question whether or not it's for me. I'll give my opinion of what I would like to see our country do with marriage. To me, marriage is a religious institution that should be separate from the government. Civil unions between consenting adults with equal benefits for all under the government would be my ideal. It goes without saying that there wouldn't be restrictions based on gender, race, religion, etc. Churches could deny same sex couples marriage within them, bigoted as they are, because they are separate from the state. Those who are religious would be married in their church, and then their partnership would be recognized on a federal level as a civil union, along with all other partnerships under the government. Fat chance at this ever happening though. Whatever way it eventually happens, I can't stress how important it is that gay unions be on a federal level. Marriages that occur in the six states, while they are wonderful in the course of gay rights, are not equal. All federal benefits are still denied (which I won't explicate on here).

Maybe this re-evaluation and consideration of eventual marriage for myself could be from all the political debate on the issue or maybe it's part of living where I do. Kentucky is traditionalist central, among the others. Louisville isn't too much of an exception. People always say Louisville is where people grow up, move, and then come back to raise their families. I'm definitely generalizing, but people here tend to hold fairly traditional values. A woman in my office this week told me that I need to have kids soon, like within the next year, so my parents can enjoy grand kids. I mean, really? Why are marriage and kids the end all and be all? I've thought maybe I would get married eventually only if it was on a federal level, but then I recently read this, which re-affirmed my former skepticism. I like the point that, of course, marriage equality for same sex couples needs to happen, but for me, it's mainly because of the principle, the way it's discrimination, not necessarily because I plan on marrying. I've imagined what it would be like if I got married. It would be even more conflicting. What kind of a relationship would I want? Certainly not an imitation of straight couples. The main problem I have, among the others, but the one that really gives me an uneasy feeling is the implicit shackles of ownership of another person. I don't want to be owned, and I would never want to own anyone else. But then alternately, I know I wouldn't want something like an open relationship. Not because of morality, but because I know I wouldn't be able to handle it emotionally. Many straight couples getting married have relationships that defy and challenge former traditions, especially with gender roles. Gay couples similarly forge new values and ways of living, but to me, more obstacles abound, because more is at stake. Straight couples don't deal with the hurdles of prejudice or a political lens, and different gender boundaries are crossed. As a gay man, I've always felt I walk between two worlds of what's masculine and what's feminine. I identify with the boys' club and groups of females while also being excluded from both, and really not fitting in to either. That issue would be a whole other post, but the point I'm trying to make is that self-identified LGBT people have more gender issues to contend with that resonate in the relationship. Whichever I decide, and I'm currently waiting on this Puritanical country to even give me the choice, I'm ready to make up my own rules and values as I go along.

The homophobia I'm increasingly surrounded with doesn't help too much. It can get pretty disheartening and spirit breaking. The little slights and comments that don't seemingly mean much act as the subtext for greater issues. Like when someone tells me my opinion as a man on something as frivolous as Sex and the City or buffalo wings doesn't matter because I'm not a hetero man or when someone makes a cheesy one-liner directed at me when the concept of flame wars or hot dogs come up in conversation or when a grown man still uses one of those infantile phrases in which "gay" means "stupid" or "lame." The prejudice I notice is becoming less and less subtle. I think there are more people like this lovely gentleman out there than some realize:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sufferin' Monkeytails!


Should I do a monkey tail? What do you think? Pick one of these options:

1. Absolutely
2. No. You're already a fool.
3. Maybe. Only if you color it to make it striped

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Infiltrating!

This is clearly a direct result of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal.

OMG! Is this what Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher were warning us about!?


I'm not going to cite a bunch of research in this post trying to prove whether or not global warming is a scientific fact, or if it is, the real extent to which human activity contributes to it. I'm going to assume if you're reading this, the link between global warming and the wasteful and thoughtless way we live is self-evident now.

Currently, I'm living the most green lifestyle I've probably lived. After reading a good deal of literature on the subject of environmentalism, and then a few years later coming back to Louisville, and eventually moving out of my parents' house to where I can live on my own terms, I have to say I'm proud of the changes I've made in my lifestyle. Living with my roommate Lizz helps. She gives me much needed reminders and inspiration. Now that it's Spring, I feel the pressure to be further motivated to live more sustainably. By comparison, I really don't think the way I live is the most eco-friendly it could be by a long shot. I sometimes wonder how much buying organic and natural food, recycling the materials I can, or using natural laundry detergent really contributes. It's a question I struggle with sometimes. When I stop by the grocery in the spur of the moment on my way home, because running out of food snuck up on me, and then look around my car and realize all my own bags are at home, I just go in anyway, thinking that using plastic just this one time isn't such a big deal since I almost never do. Is it a big deal? I don't know. And then I end up hoarding them in the cabinet above my refrigerator, so I won't throw them away. When I open it, they come busting out. I think every plastic bag I've brought home since I moved in is up there. As I type, a decent size box sits next to me that my new laptop came in, overflowing with plastic wrap, bubble packaging foam, and more pointless weirdly shaped cardboard that melded to the object it encased. What am I going to do with it? Recycle it? Put the larger box in the basement for a future storing container? Eventually. But, for now, it sits here on my bedroom floor and has for the past three days. By and large, humans don't know what to do with their waste, and this packaging solidifies for me even more how much inadvertent excess material a single human accumulates. In the end, I just have to tell myself I do what I can, I suppose.

In analyzing the way I live with the new season, I've been thinking of ways I can improve. The rebirth of the trees, grass, and flowers should be an environmental awakening, shouldn't it? Sadly, when that single red tulip sprouted in my front yard, my motivation didn't with it. I've worked hard to change the way I eat, especially after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma a few years ago. I've been reading In Defense of Food on and off this past month to get more informed. I buy organic and natural food when I can. I get confused about what types of food are best to buy organically and which kind wouldn't be absolutely necessary. I've also reduced my weekly meat consumption to only two times, sometimes three, which doesn't help with my goal to get down to one. I feel like this is a good balance. I failed at every vegetarian phase I went through -- one in high school, a shorter one in college, and then I couldn't eat meat for about two months after watching Food, Inc.. Eating meat is natural to me though, which is why limiting it is the best option. Not just because of the health reasons associated with those sick growth hormones and antibiotics -- don't even get me started on how chickens lay in their own feces -- but because the U.S. meat consumption rate depletes the world's resources. But, when I go over to my parents' house, clearly these rules don't apply, and I can eat as many Doritos and Totinos frozen pizzas I want. And then immediately regret it. But, seeing the type of food I was raised on compared to the type of food I choose for myself, I'm reminded of the long way I've come and shouldn't stress over it too much. Lizz and I are also thinking about joining a CSA, and maybe that way I could eat meat that's been killed and processed more ethically and naturally. By investing share in a farm, I would know where my fruits and vegetables are coming from in support of somewhere local, which may be more important to me than anything. It would be quite a commitment though.

At my core, I am lazy, which is a root of the problem. I know of ways I can change this, but the issue is a matter of wanting to change. I've contemplated getting a new bike. I haven't had one in awhile when my old bike broke. I hate that I do things like drive to Kroger when it's only about a ten to fifteen minute walk or to my sister's house when she pretty much lives down the street from me. But then, I feel like these compromises need to be made with living more green. For instance, Kroger doesn't have the best options in terms of sustainable and natural food to buy, and Whole Foods does, but Kroger is so much closer. So, do I walk to Kroger and buy non-organic strawberries -- or organic strawberries that aren't really organic, but are in name only, because every company has jumped on the organic bandwagon to capitalize on the green market -- or do I drive to Whole Foods which sells more genuinely natural food? Rainbow Blossom is about midway, though would be a pretty substantial walk, and it's also more expensive, and I don't do the bulk of my grocery shopping there but only for special items. I suppose if I had a bike I could take that to Whole Foods, but this would require planning to where it would almost become an event. I couldn't go there quickly, taking twenty to thirty minutes at the most and back home to watch more Arrested Development on Netflix. And, that's another problem I have, directly linked to laziness, which is convenience. Or maybe it's complacency, or perhaps a mix of both. I can be pretty stuck in my ways. I'm someone who relies on routine for comfort, to the extent that my routines become ritual for me. And breaking out of rituals is difficult. Conversely, I wonder if I implement certain green ways because they're easier. For instance, Lizz and I thought about a no-mow lawn, which would be wonderful, because I hate mowing grass. Lizz's brother basically did all of it last year, and if it wasn't him, our neighbor with the riding mower swooped in. God, I wonder what our neighbors think of us sometimes. But, going no-mow would mean essentially reseeding the entire yard, which would be much more work. So, we decided against it and plan on purchasing a manual push reel mower instead. We also implement an "if it's yellow, let it mellow" bathroom policy, with a sign above the toilet for guests. Yes, it's environmentally more friendly, but it also saves on our water bill. I think being more environmental has it's benefits, but for the changes needed that don't on a short term scale, that require a serious modification of the way I live my life, I have more problems adapting. And, these changes will yield much more benefits in long-term, but not without work and a little sacrifice of old ways.

I'm hoping my lifestyle will change more gradually, and these problems related to character and personality I have will get better. As long as I keep in mind the reason I'm doing it. For the sake of the earth, our home, and for the sake of that red tulip, which I think was demolished from the storm the other day. Nature takes it's course. We're along for the ride, while also being a part of it.


Conversation on the phone today with my devoutly Catholic mom.

Mom: Did you get my e-mail?
Me: Yeah, I did.
(the email was reminding me about mass today and tomorrow and an inquiry if I would like to go with her. She even lured me with buying me dinner afterward, because she's tricky like that).
Mom: Are you coming to Holy Thursday with me tonight? It starts at 6.
Me (hesitantly): I don't think so.
Mom: Well, what else are you doing?
Me: I'm going over to Alex's tonight to watch Thursday night comedies.
Mom: Doesn't that start until later? You know this is the most important time of the year. Beth is going with me, and she has plans afterward.
Me: I'm sorry...
Mom: Don't you care about your soul...

For those of you reading this who aren't familiar with Catholicism, this week is the most important and solemn Triduum comprised of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Sorry Mom, the only Easter related event I attended today was an office egg hunt at work -- an event that further convinces me even more that where I work is pretty much the world of The Office -- and egg hunts have much more overt paganism associated with them than anything else, to me anyway. It's conversations like these that gather this huge ball of shame and regret right in my chest, manifesting in that ever ubiquitous guilt trouncing my psyche and existence, and then spills over to every aspect in my life, whether it be getting ice from an ice maker, pouring a little extra Bourbon in my glass at Alex's tonight, or getting pissed at that pick-up truck that cut me off today. And that's why Christianity -- specifically Catholicism -- is a blast.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Holladay Platter

I've been unfaithful to this blog. *gasp!* Don't worry. Wake to Sleep and I have agreed to enter into an open relationship. It's what's healthy and for the best.

My sister Beth wanted to start a food blog, and over a few beers at Sergio's, I jumped on board too. And, it's called... The Holladay Platter! Ha! Check it out!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Late Night Internets

I now have the internet in my house, which means I can search old live Judy Garland performances on youtube when I come home after a night of drinking with friends : )

Perfect end to a night.

I will still never get a TV! or sign back on to facebook!

Gay Accessories

I've decided I pretty much am the Disappointing Gay Best Friend (aka Tyler Coates). I even spent last night, Friday, ordering in pad thai and watching Netflix. Although, I didn't have an overly enthusiastic straight best female friend egging me on to go to Connections (Louisville's gay club) with her and pigeonholing me into a narrow cookie cutter caricature for her own amusement to fill some type of void in her life. Lizz (my roommate) was here, although she had a low key evening with some rented videos herself. Luckily, she doesn't fit that bill. These videos have been making their way around the blogrolls. I'm a little late to jump on it here, as usual. There has also been a Salon article. Even though in an Advocate interview, Mikala Bierma, the "hag" of the video claims the intention was in no way a response to the Sassy Gay Friend series, I can't help but see it as a contrast, along with many other commenters. I don't really have any new insights or fresh material to expound on. These videos resonate with me as a gay man. I can't count how many times I've been in social situations where women demand I fit this role, or think that I somehow will. The encounters range from subtle hints and comments to outright belligerence. Example:

Flashback to my senior year of college in good ole' small town Murray, Kentucky. It was Halloween. As usual, I had grand ideas for a costume but then got lazy, and none of them ever materialized into a killer Oh-My-God-I-Love-Your-Costume stunner. I think that year I thought about being a Smurf instead of a Michael Holladay in a green flannel shirt and jeans. My friend Jessie and I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and drank at a friend's house. No big plans. However, we came back to her place, since her roommates were throwing a party. A good friend of mine was there, and some of her friends were visiting (I'm leaving out names here, just in case, in the off chance anyone involved in this event may actually stumble upon this blog, they won't be embarrassed. I like to pretend my readership extends beyond my work friends and sister. Thanks, guys. Oh, and you better be reading this too, Alex!). Her friends were a couple from her home town. She introduced me to them. When the female half of the couple deduced I was gay, she flipped out. She bombarded me with hugs and kept saying, "I love this guy!" Throughout the night, she would come to my side, clutch her arm around mine, turn, and announce to anyone in earshot, "Look at us! We're just like Will and Grace! You're just like... what's his name? Jack!? Or is it Will? I love this guy!" In a conversation with her boyfriend, he spoke of nothing else but how cool he was with gay people. Gee, thanks. I gathered that he was doing this to comfort himself, because I could detect a level of threat he felt about his girlfriend hugging and kissing all over another man. These people were from Chicago, not a small town in Kentucky or Indiana. My good friend graciously apologized to me, and of course I take no offense from her, told her so, and I said that I understood. I'm not sure that I do, though. Maybe a part of me does.

I said I didn't have much more to contribute to the conversation of the sassy and fierce gay stereotype and "fag hags," but I do have some thoughts. I think it's interesting how these videos portray a distinct stereotype, not in the gay man, but in the "fag hag." Some hardcore feminists tend to criticize the misogyny of gay men, but this unintentionally explores underlying homophobic attitudes women can have toward gay men when they think they're being accepting. I don't blame them, because they are inculcated with limited ideas of gay men from the media. See Will and Grace and the exhausted triteness it's built around. That's not to say that female supporters of gay rights should go unappreciated. The gay rights movement owes a great deal to women. Straight female advocates help bring gay men into the mainstream. However, I question the consequences this has had, and they're demonstrated in these two video series. In his Salon article from a few years ago on the subject, Thomas Rogers notes how gay visibility in the 90's and early 2000 in the media directly links to a strong female presence: "It was no coincidence that the first wave of gay male TV characters shared most of their screen time with straight women -- it made us palatable to mainstream America." He then quotes Justine Pimlott, director of the documentary "Fag Hags: Women Who Love Gay Men," in which she explains, "'It was celebrating the feminine side of gay men, not about going into the bar scene,' says Pimlott. 'It disarmed their potential threat.'" I've always felt we must move beyond this safe celibate image in the mainstream. I also like how he addresses the marked difference between genuine friendships gay men have with women and the expectations of women who know nothing about gay culture, women who claim they're just dying to go to Connections for the first time with you and then cringe two hours later when two men are kissing on MTV. There was my good friend at that party, and then there was her friend who embarrassed me, and mostly herself. We are not Lady Gaga's pretty pink poodle accessories, or any woman's for that matter.

I would be remiss not sharing that many of my good friends -- some of my best friends -- are women. This isn't because I can help them pick out curtains or go scarf shopping with them or help them with their make up, none of which any woman would want me to do, believe me. It's not much different from the reasons I'm friends with straight men. I don't consider anyone my "hag." I consider them friends who are people I share a connection with, and I know they regard me the same way.

Monday, April 4, 2011


"have a fantabulis day (is that a word?)" - my not-so-cool-with-the-gay-especially-when-it's-her-son mom in an email to me today. She's also in the market for a red couch.

I couldn't help but share. It's cute and funny and...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Burrito Baby Chomp!

I’ve become a connoisseur of babies. And, by babies, I mean Qdoba burritos. Their weight and dimensional girth are comparable, sending me into a burrito coma bite by bite. Since I never intend on having kids, these burritos are my babies. My gaybies. And ones that I eat. I’ll take -- and have had -- a diversity of types. I don’t discriminate: the steak, the pork, the chicken, the veggies, the meatless, black beans, pinto beans, always cheese and sour cream, with guacamole, without, the pico, verde, roja, and even habanero on the rare occasion I want to make my lips tingle and burn. They all must have the queso though. Lately, I’ve been getting them on Thursdays, enough that I’ve deemed the day of the week in my head Qdoba Thursday for the last month.

This week, I was at my parents’ house and picked one up on the way back to mine, so for convenience sake went to a location closer to their place. My parents live in the East end of Louisville. For all you non-Louisvillians potentially reading this, I’ll summarize. It’s the area of Louisville where many families settle down to raise their kids. The neighborhoods comprise varying socio-economic pockets, but they range from mid to upper middle class (my parents fitting much more the former than the latter), but they all have one thing in common: they are the suburbia of the city, replete with chain restaurants and stores with no local flavor of the city whatsoever. So, of course, this particular Qdoba was swarming with East End Bitches (E.E.Bs), a name I used for a particular personality type back when I waited tables in the East end. They are generally on the higher end of the socio-economic scale, or if they aren’t, they pretend to be, and they are snooty and uppity as all get out. The telltale sign of an EEB would be something like payment with a Macy’s Visa card or coming in at 11:00 am on a Summer weekday with their three bratty kids and order two margaritas, suck them down, and all the while the oldest boy would be running around popping balloons, the toddler smearing mashed french fries onto the table, and the newborn screaming in my ear while taking their order. I can’t take the credit. A friend of mine used to work at a Target in the area, and this was a term coined by some of the staff there.

One of them was in front of me in the Qdoba line with her three little girls, all sporting matching pink, as if the three little ones are the narcissistic carbon copies of the fuchsia puffy vest donning bigger adult . Upon entering, she wanted to let her six year old daughter push the door open, to prove what is beyond me, encouraging her to push harder, as I’m standing right behind them waiting (come on, Woman! Just lightly push the goddamn door open already and make her think she did it. Your designer baby is holding up me getting my designer baby). There was another EEB in front of them with three boys. I should also mention something else about the kids of EEBs. They’re picky eaters, so I had to wait awhile as the individual meals of these six kids were tailored to. “No, she wants the kids' meal burrito wrapped in an adult size tortilla. Can you redo it?” I was relieved when it was my turn to give my hassle-free order. But then, as I’m going to pay, EEB number 2 comes up to the cashier with her son’s burrito and needs it re-wrapped, so halt everything! Your dumbass son ripped his burrito open, so you expect the entire line to stop, and make me wait even more for my delicious baby? This is what kills me about this overwhelming need people have to feel self-entitled, which could be a whole separate post. The torn burrito crisis was finally put to rest, so I unclench my fingers around my Qdoba and debit cards ready to pay and eyeing the paper bag stroller keeping my child safe. But wait! EEB 1 needs another copy of her receipt. She then has to quibble over an extra charge for a side of queso even though the woman who got it for her told her it would be extra. “My bill should be $12.10. That’s what it was originally! Not $12.57,” she said. “I just saw you pull up in front of me in a Lexus, and you’re arguing over 47 cents?” is what I would have said, but did so only in my head.

I eventually got it! At last!

the babe. I named her Hadley Renee.

As I took a bite, there was no doubt in my mind I would most likely do the exact same thing to a real gayby. Chomp!

This is why I can never have kids.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Look at Those Legs!

"A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine."
-The Physiology of Taste

I wish my budget could allow a "day of sunshine" with every meal. Fortunately, whenever I do have wine, it makes the indulgence all the more enjoyable. Over the past few months, I've started to take a greater interest in it. Prior, I tended to just drink it without knowing much. I knew the types and brands I liked, but I didn't know how it was made or how to determine quality and develop a taste. I'm still a "wine dummie" by all means and consider myself an "amateur" lover of the libation. Still, I've made it a goal to learn more. I started buying it to keep in the house, instead of buying a single bottle to drink for one specific night. And even then, I'm only able to keep about two bottles on the rack at a time; the most I kept was three. An investment in nice wine glasses was a must too, so this past Fall I marched over to the mall with a $25 Dillards gift card unused from the previous Christmas and was even willing to pay the difference. About a week past before one was inevitably broken and replaced by another with a similar shape totalling two dollars at the liquor store down the street. My sister, Beth and I have this inside joke that our book club should also double as a wine club, but so far, it could really be called, "Beth and Michael drink wine at every book club" club. I got a wine calendar for Christmas. It was a present from the dog. Gracie knows what I'm about. Each day provides tips and facts, so the learning process can soak in gradually. I treat this calendar like I treat all calendars: three to five days pass before I glance at the refrigerator, where it's stuck by a magnet, and then catch up to the right day. This usually happens bleary-eyed in the morning as I'm getting cream out for coffee I haven't had yet, so I'll read the daily contributions all at once with my brain half-functioning to where the information is barely processed. If I'm feeling particularly proactive, I'll go back and re-read them later, but only if I remember. I really do have the best of intentions.

The only resource for my wine education

Wine glass fail. I wasn't drunk. Promise ; )
Over the years, my taste has favored heavy reds. Of the varietals, my favorite is Cabernet, followed by Zinfandel, Shiraz, and if I'm in the mood for something lighter, Pinot Noir. I also like Spanish and Chilean reds if my budget allows. I've been meaning to try more French reds. One day. Some whites are refreshing and crisp in the Spring and Summer. If I have white, I usually go for a Sauvignon or Pinot. I've been reading some wine blogs too and have thought about giving an amateur review myself, so here it goes:

I bought a Cabernet this week. The brand is Guenoc, which is now Langry Estate and Vineyards. You can read more about it on that link, because the website would describe it far better than I ever could pretend to. Beth brought it to a book club back in September per a suggestion from a wine guy at the liquor store she went to. Since then, it's become one of my favorite Cabs. So, I've had it before, but this week I did a tasting utilizing my limited knowledge I've gathered over the past few months. The $11.99 price is nothing to scoff at given the quality. It calculates at 14.5% Alc. The bottle is sealed with a regular cork. I opened it, did my tasting, forgot to let it breathe for the standard 20-30 minutes to let the tannins mellow, actually did that impatiently, and then re-tasted. With a swirl, I waited eagerly. You've got some nice legs there, Guenoc Cab. On the nose, I get a distinct fruity aroma with an ever so slight earth hint. On the palate, the smell translates, with black cherry notes as the most present, and I swear I taste just a bit of blackberry, but could be wrong. There's a subtle firmness with low acidity. A problem I have is telling the difference between tannic and acidic, and I can say for certain this one is much more the former than the latter. It's not too overpowering, providing a nice, smooth ending, yet is still hearty enough. A nice balance and texture. It went well with the zucchini baked spaghetti I made that night. While cooking, I couldn't wait and had a glass during the dishes' lengthy bake time. It's a wine that's good both on its own or with food, and during any occasion, like spending an evening with pasta, wine, and Matt Saracen, which is exactly what I did.

Definitely recommend this one. Cheers!

The zucchini baked spaghetti (with green pepper and onion), because I'm pretty proud of its success.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Music Labels

The cover of the compilation album
 "This is the gayest song of the year," is what one commentator wrote about the above song accompanying the video. If you don't know, it's "Dancing On My Own" from Robyn's Body Talk -- a series of 3 EPs she put out in 2010. If anyone hasn't checked it out yet, I highly suggest he or she does. Of course you remember Robyn, the classic 90's singer. Okay, she had one strong hit -- "Show Me Love." Is it coming back? Yeah, I barely recalled her too. I do remember that song all over the radio in the later part of the 90's, but it's one of those songs I could easily pinpoint but couldn't tell anyone the details of what album it was from or even who the artist was for that matter. With this killer comeback, I'm glad I know who she is now. Since buying the compilation album at Ear X-tacy I've been listening to it more than occasionally. It's addicting and has been deemed one of the best of last year by many critics.

Gayest song of the year

What does this even mean? Obviously on first read it could be a criticism. You know, the infantile eighth grade slur that "gay" means "stupid" or "lame." No, the posts are pretty much a lovefest for Robyn, so I'm assuming this person meant it as a compliment. Or is it pointing to the aesthetic of the musical style? Ever since my three week love affair with Body Talk I've been contemplating what "gay music" is exactly. Robyn's style is electronic dance, so is that what it is? Music you can dance to that would likely be played in a gay club? I don't hear anyone pegging Tiesto as an artist with a gay appeal. So, do gender politics play into it? Is the artist typically female? This notion is pretty base, but I'll admit both are accurate to a point. Gay culture has embraced dance music from female artists since the early days when the bars were illegal and run by the mob. So, does that mean "gay music" is what the majority of gay people listen to? I listen to Iron and Wine. Are they a gay band? I'll stop with this incessant questioning, because I think their rhetorical nature and point has been made, and the answers are fairly obvious. Then again, I don't think I've come to any definitive conclusions and have used this paragraph as a sounding board. What I've perhaps gathered is that the answer to its opening questioning isn't easily answered, and maybe doesn't have one specific resolution.

Cover art for "Hold It Against Me," Britney's latest
Judy Garland. Madonna. Britney Spears. Lady Gaga. These are only some of the mainstream artists pegged as being integral in gay culture, and looking at what they all have in common, it's easy to decipher the reason. I can only speak from my own experience. I'm about to relay some pretty embarrassing personal history and guilty pleasures, though I hate that phrase. Growing up, I was obsessed with Britney Spears. Part of it stuck. For instance, I get excited when I hear she's putting out a new album, and my level of thrill with the release of her new song is no exception. No shame. I've attempted to analyze why she appealed to me so much. Don't blame me. She was my generation's Madonna. I recorded her appearances on TV, learned her dance moves, spent time on fan sites. In psychoanalyzing my young teenage self, this unhealthy interest was appropriate. At a time when I couldn't express the sexuality I wanted to, a sexuality pegged as feminine, she did it for me in her performances and lyrics. She exuded a sexuality that appealed to men, which is what I wanted to do but couldn't. It was an escape of sorts. I think this is typical of young boys trying to cope with same-sex feelings. We found someone else to identify with. And, if anyone questioned it, we could explain it away by claiming that we were sexually attracted to this female singer, and that's even partly true. Identify. That's the key word, and what these artists have in common. The way Judy Garland's personal struggles easily mirror struggles gay people go through in the feeling of not being good enough and shamed by one's body and sexuality. The way Madonna shed repression by sexually inverting religious iconography. The way Britney Spears is a victim of horrendous slut-shaming by the media. The way Gaga celebrates those considered "weird" or "abnormal" with a careless attitude to negative judgment.

The one and only
Then, the actual music itself should be put up for analysis, as I've only alluded to ways of identification in these artists' personal lives and reaction to their commercial persona. In the history of gay culture, mainstream songs by female artists were anthems and played at gay clubs as early as The Stonewall Inn, because of the way the lyrics can have a double meaning to highlight the gay experience of unrequited love, loneliness, trying to find inner strength on one's own, or trying to express sexual confidence. This identification with lyrical content was the case in the early gay movement with Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and Dionne Warwick, and the same is true now with Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Robyn. "Dancing On My Own" is about unrequited love in a crowd, and in the video's case on an energetic dance floor. In the irony of loneliness while being surrounded by people, I could clearly see why someone would call this "the gayest song of the year."

Who can resist Judy?
 I'm pleased at the critical reception of Robyn's Body Talk and hope it will work to shatter the notion that electropop is something superficial and trivial. What's deemed "gay music" has been dismissed as such. It's feminine, so it's lesser. This idea speaks to the larger way of how our culture seeks to gender everything, even music, so only females or gay men are allowed to listen to certain artists, and if someone outside of these categories does, they are immediately questioned. Yet, my identity as gay male is never questioned because I like Yonder Mountain String Band, Sufjan Stevens, Minus the Bear, Nirvana, Lucero, and the list could go on. The gendering of music is no different to how gendered our society is, and is a microcosm of it. Despite that I know multiple "masculine" men who enjoy Lady Gaga, heteronormative and restrictive comments like Lady Gaga is "the complete opposite masculinity" still pervade. And male artists are expected to project a certain air also. One of my favorite male singers is Jared Gorbel from The Honorary Title, because his voice is so unique and passionate, yet the reaction he's gotten from a few of my friends is that his voice is too "emo." I feel like this is a reaction to a male singer whose voice radiates strong emotion, and stereotypically men aren't supposed to display outward emotional responses. When a singer like Christina Aguilera sings with passion and breaks it down, she's praised for her voice, because this is how women are supposed to sing. When a singer like Jared Gorbel breaks a song down with emotion, he's being whiny. These double standards are why with Robyn, it's a delight to see an album classified as "gay" getting such positive welcome from people who wouldn't ordinarily. It's an album that breaks down barriers. Although, reading the comments of different reactions to Britney's new "Hold It Against Me," in a sea of slut-shaming and misogyny, it's evident not much will change any time soon, at least until our culture gets over its oppressive gender complex. And, we all know how well that's going. Still, I like to think the latest offering from Body Talk is one small step forward. Thanks for this, Robyn.