Just Giblets

Favorite Books Read in 2012 – #’s 7 & 8

8th January 2013
by Michael

Favorite Books Read in 2012 – #’s 7 & 8

It’s nerve-wracking being friends with published authors.  I always worry I’m not going to like their books!  Fortunately, that rarely happens, and I have found being completely honest usually serves very well.  This pair of books both took me by surprise.  One I didn’t expect to like, and the other I grew to like more and more after I completed it and time passed.

The Night Circus

#8 - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I was a slow convert despite the hype. Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is an exquisitely crafted fantasy/romance/historical mash-up that, like the circus it describes, contains ever-increasing wonders as each page turns. Celia and Marco are bound by their father/mentor respectively to spend much of their lives preparing for, then competing in a mystical challenge. This particular challenge has been repeated for centuries with very little variance in

the outcome: one participant wins, the other is no more. The problem is, Celia and Marco meet and fall in love, despite the challenge, which they are bound to and upon which they are unable to turn their backs.

This bizarre challenge/romance takes place against the backdrop of Le Cirque des Rêves a glorious circus that appears in different cities during the cover of darkness and is only open at night. Morgenstern’s debut is intricately layered and filled with a rich and fascinating cast of characters. But best of all, she manages to continuously convey the wonder of the magical circus tents throughout at 400-page book, without repeating herself, or resorting to cliche. It’s a magnificent effort, and a joy to read.

The Paternity Test#7 – The Paternity Test by Michael Lowenthal

For a novel, that on the one hand, appears as a slightly sudsy melodrama about a gay couple desiring a child, Michael Lowenthal’s The Paternity Test challenged me the way few books do.  Here is my best attempt to convey the complexity of emotions I felt throughout my reading it. At first The Paternity Test seemed like it was going to be a fairly straight-forward story; gay couple, together for a while and facing a turning point, decide to leave the big city, move to Cape Cod and have a child by using a surrogate. There would be the typical dramatic moments exploring issues such as having a child to save a relationship; difficulty with the surrogate, that kind of thing. In fact, I wasn’t all that interested in the subject matter, and wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it. But when you get an advanced copy from the author himself, you make a point of reading it. 

The first thing I noticed was how compelling it was. I couldn’t put the book down and read it in record time. That said, it was a very tough read for me, stirring up all sorts of conflicting emotions. For much of the book I wasn’t sure I was enjoying it, and had particular trouble with the lead character, Pat. Often I was worried about the direction the book was headed in. Sometimes I had the distinct feeling that I was reading a novelization of “Days of our Lives.” But by the end of the book, I was excited by the journey it took me on, the very fact that I was all over the place emotionally with the characters, yet ultimately having it be a really satisfying reading experience for me. Like parenthood, like relationships, like family, there is nothing simple about The Paternity Test; there are ups and downs, moments of melodrama, laughter, tears, anger… all the things that make a wonderful novel.

 

 

4th January 2013
by Michael

Favorite Books Read in 2012 – #’s 16 & 15

As I mentioned previously, it was a good year for books.  I read a lot of really good books last year, and I couldn’t quite stop at a top 15… I had to squeeze one more on there.  So here we go, #’s 16 & 15 of my favorite books read in 2012!  And what do they have in common?  They’re both geared toward teen readers.  #16 is a newcomer to this list, and #15 made the list last year at #10.

#16 – Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I read two teen novels with gay characters/themes in them, and while I enjoyed them both, both had flaws as well.  Will Grayson Will Grayson‘s conceit about two characters named Will Grayson, one straight, and one gay, written by two authors handling alternating chapters is both a strength and a weakness.  The two writers have noticeably different writing styles, which I found distracting.  There is also an element of over-simplification that can often mars feel-good novels.  However the book is hilarious, unabashedly moving, and a nice look at the variety of personalities embodying high school life today.

 

 

#15 – Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

Cory’s latest book tackles a subject he is passionate about: copyright and the internet. In Pirate Cinema, a boy runs away to London after his cinema mash-ups cause his family to lose internet access for a month. While living on the streets, he hooks up with a Dickensian band of pals who show him how to live on his own and educate him about the draconian nature of the laws created by big entertainment industry that struggle to hang on to the establishment, but stifle the artistic creativity of a new generation. (He also finds a pretty amazing girlfriend.)  While the novelty of this book for me was seeing my husband’s name appear throughout in a very pivotal role (Scot won naming rights at an auction) about halfway through  Cory had hooked me with a compelling read, strong characters, and a message that is so relevant to the world we live in today.  Cory’s last novel, the epic For the Win was my #10 favorite book read in 2011.

15th January 2010
by Scot

Believe You Me

Just stop it. You can say that you believe any opinion:

  • “I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.” -Abraham Lincoln
  • “I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy.” -Steve Martin
  • “I’ll ne’er believe a madman till I see his brains.” -William Shakespeare
  • “Despite everything, I believe that all men are really good at heart.” -Anne Frank
  • “I support gay marriage. I believe they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us.” -Kinky Friedman

You can even say you believe (or disbelieve) dubious or unproven facts:

  • “Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “I believe that I was a dog in a past life. That’s the only thing that would explain why I like to snack on Purina Dog Chow.” -Dean Koontz
  • “I am not a lesbian and I am not a slut, and somehow I am going to make people believe me.” -Vanessa Williams
  • “Everytime a child says ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there’s a a little fairy somewhere that falls down dead.” -J.M. Barrie

But you can’t say you believe or disbelieve a documented fact. Consider this statement by Scott Brown, republican nominee for the vacant Massachusetts US Senate seat.

Marriage
I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. States should be free to make their own laws in this area, so long as they reflect the people’s will as expressed through them directly, or as expressed through their elected representatives.

Guess what, Scott? If you are implicitly saying that you disbelieve that marriage is between two people of the same sex, you believe a lie. Because I’m married to a wonderful guy. There are people all over the globe whose spouses are the same sex they are. I really don’t give a flying fart what you believe.

Isn’t it funny how he avoids using the word “gay” or even “same-sex?” His implicit criticism of the judicial rule that denying same-sex partners marriage licenses is unconstitutional (as opposed to putting minority rights to a majority legislative vote) is really hateful too. Scott, you don’t get to reinterpret what our laws say — an accusation leveled at gay marriage supports frequently.

Now, prepare to lose on Tuesday.

posted in Homo, Massachusetts, Mean People, Politics, Quotes | at 11:51 am | 3 Comments
13th November 2009
by Scot

A Disgrace to His Profession

3 Dollar BillMaybe you’ve seen this, but a Purdue library science professor and government documents librarian has blogged An Economic Case Against Homosexuality. Yes, it’s as ludicrous as it sounds. I’m leaving this off my professional blog, as it has little to do with librarianship, other than the fact that Professor Bert Chapman displays no traits of a librarian, despite his blog title “Conservative Librarian.”

You’ll see a comment by me… two, if they approve my last one. Not that I doubt it’s rationality, but it’s close to the 2,000 character limit they put on comments, so it may be held in moderation. Or then again, it may have been flushed down the toilet. It’s in response to a commenter named Adriana who takes me to task for bringing up the taboo of the “facts” Prof. Chapman’s economic publication lacks.

Here is my follow up, in case they don’t publish it:

Adriana,

The facts Prof. Chapman presents, but does not cite are:

1. Not only does he not cite his source of data, but Prof. Chapman attributes US Government expenditures on AIDS to a support of what he deems “a homosexual lifestyle.” Though he recognizes that the disease is spread by many means, he still presents it as a moral issue. But regardless, a librarian must state where his numbers come from and what “expenditures on this disease” encompass.

2. He cites as fact that behavior he deems immoral taints our blood supply without support of fact.

3. Chapman also claims that rape of male inmates by fellow males is a drain on taxpayer dollars. Does he cite how many of the offenders are homosexual? It may seem unthinkable to you, but heterosexual males rape men. I see no citations to established facts to support his claims that homosexual men are draining US tax dollars in this way.

4. At long last, the educated librarian cites an external work, “Do Domestic Partner Benefits Make Good Economic Sense?” by The Corporate Resource Center. He claims that it is available on a web site, but does not provide a URL. He does not even qualify where this center is or what affiliation it has, if any, to a larger organization. I challenge anyone to find this work available on the web. For this fraud alone, Prof. Chapman should be censured, at the very least.

5. Finally, the learned professor closes with a long list of ways that heterosexual entitlements may be diminished by the acknowledgment of same-sex relationships. There are no numbers given. There are no longitudinal studies cited. There is only the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) tactics of a frightened man with no other defense. The last paragraph reminds me of the FUD tactics of white families in the 1960′s who would incite neighborhood hatred against black families moving in, in the name of “decreased property values.”

I am not arguing against Prof. Chapman’s points. He has none.

The student furor over his blog post has led to calls for his dismissal from the university. Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first antigay blog post he’s written.


Update: I totally forgot to thank the dude who alerted me to this fiasco! Rob at wakingupnow.com is a really great blogger who has a fierce, but reasoned approach to civil action. Thank you, Rob. You set a good example.

7th May 2009
by Scot

Visit from the Golden Pony

Last night, the golden pony came to Springfield, MA and pooped out a lovely evening for Michael and  I  me. (Thanks, Max.) We’re here for the Massachusetts Library Association annual conference and Michael, being Michael, lined up a truly stupendous array of guests to speak. So, last night we spent the late night hours closing down the hotel bar with:

I am so lucky that my husband is so fearless and is such a big dreamer. He gave me the wonderful gift of the opportunity to chat with Lynda and Thrity about menopause and to smoke with Talia and Michael Cunningham in the rain. Does that rock or what?

10th August 2008
by Michael

Should I feel a certain way about this?

So, Neil Patrick Harris is gay.  We all know this.  We all know that he’s also one of our current “it boys” — seemingly able to do no wrong whether he’s playing straight on TV (How I Met Your Mother) or at the movies (Harold & Kumar) or doing the song and dance thing with Joss Whedon (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog) or whatever he wants to do.  So why is there now this little backlash over at Gawker stating that’s he’s “too straight?”  More, why am I hearing about it for the first time on one of my comics blogs where the Occasional Superheroine takes issues with Gawker’s post?  Both sides actually have merit to their argument, and I am at a loss as to where I fall.  Guess it depends on the time of day.  Bravo for Mr. Harris’ success, and it’s always nice to see more successful gay people in the entertainment business.    And come on, he looks pretty hot on that Out Magazine cover.

posted in Celebrity, Homo, Nonsense | at 9:24 am | 2 Comments
16th May 2008
by Michael

Blast from my musical past!

I’ve been grooving on a lot of early 80′s Boston, local music lately, like November Group, Face to Face, Adventure Set, Private Lightning, and this seminal Boston band, Berlin Airlift. Songwriter/leader Rick Berlin is a Boston institution, and you can still find him hanging out in Jamaica Plain. This song, “Over the Hill (I Love You)” and Berlin Airlift the band, was so important to this incipient fag when I was solidifying my identity. The songs were clearly coded and from the point of view of a gay man. What a find this video is!

posted in Boston, Homo, Music, Video | at 8:15 pm | 9 Comments
23rd April 2008
by Scot

“I see much traveling in your future…”

Holy moley. First [title of show] announces its Broadway run!

[title of show]

Then, I hear Martha Plimpton is going to be doing Top Girls!

Martha Plimpton

And nowJeremy Piven in Speed The Plow?! (Without Madonna?!) Swoon.

Jeremy Piven

(Well, actually, I swoon over Jeremy Piven for any reason.)

Hunky Piven

posted in Homo, Theatre | at 8:35 am | 5 Comments
23rd August 2007
by Scot

Sing along — You know the words!

I was just saying to Michael that I’m waiting for the day the Village People get their props — not as artists, of course, but as truly brilliant subversive social revolutionaries. Doesn’t it make you giggle to think of millions of sporting fans the world-over semaphoring along to a song about gay sex?

And how brilliant would it be to hear it in Finnish?

I love how this man dances.

posted in Guilty Pleasures, Homo, Whacky People | at 9:12 am | 1 Comment
13th July 2007
by Scot

I’d be buying if I were single!

One bad thing about DVR: you miss the commercials. I’m bummed that I didn’t see this fantastic ad when it aired during Heroes. eHarmony totally deserves the slam, those right-wing Christian bastards.

posted in Homo, Mean People, TV | at 3:39 pm | 2 Comments
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