a little east of reality

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

tired all the way inside

From an email I wrote to a friend today:
I think I'm feeling extra like I want your guy to turn out to be worth your patience, because the guy I like isn't at all interested in me. Or at least if he is interested, asking for someone else's phone number when I was walking by probably wasn't the cleverest way to say so. Yeah I'm thinking the former is more likely.

Oh well, maybe we'll end up being friends... *she said wearily*

Maybe one day I'll even be cool with that.
I don't know why I care so much. Actually that's not quite accurate. I know why I feel hurt by it ~ because I rarely open myself to the idea of romance (and this would be why). I just don't know why I felt such a strong connection to him in particular. For some reason this really mattered.

Anyway, I'm going to go be a writer now and create some apt metaphor for this very stupid feeling. Does that qualify as a silver lining?


Sunday, September 28, 2008

ideas + a link for those interested in proposition 8

From a recent comment:

P.S. Please keep on blogging. I like what you have to say and need to come by here more often.

As lovely and appreciated as that compliment is, in the face of it I find myself completely unable...to think...about anything...at all.

This, I think, is why I do not write for a sitcom or a newspaper column. I think inspiration prefers to sneak up on me rather than being drawn to me by deliberate will. This phenomenon is also the reason I was hesitant to say yes when I friend recently asked me if I'd like to do some improv. When I imagine it I see myself standing like an idiot in front of other people with a completely blank face and mind. Scary.

Still, it's a course in improv, not a competition, so maybe I will be just one of many people trying to recall back when they had a shred of humour and imagination in them (about 20 min before they were asked to do improv in front of strangers instead of in a friend's loungeroom while mocking a particularly bad B-grade horror movie, or the like).

We shall see...

Abby also provided a link to a fantastic essay by Morris Thurston on Proposition 8. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Proposition 8 and particularly to anyone in California who will be voting on the matter. Thurston says, in his introduction:

An anonymously‐authored document titled “Six Consequences the Coalition Has Identified if Proposition 8 Fails” is currently being distributed by a coalition of churches and other organizations in support of Proposition 8, an initiative on the November 2008 California ballot. The intent of Proposition 8 is to overturn the California Supreme Court’s ruling allowing homosexuals to marry.

Most of the arguments contained in “Six Consequences” are either untrue or misleading. The following commentary addresses those arguments and explains how they are based on misinterpretations of law and fact.

The piece is clear, understandable and succinct ~ a very good read and relevant.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

hot tomale hero

For anyone who's lived in Japan, here is probably the least surprising news you've read this year just in from Japan Zone:
SMAP member Kimura Takuya (35) has topped one ranking of Japan's most popular men for a remarkable 15th year in a row. The annual ranking is done by women's magazine "anan" and published in a special issue. In addition to being the Most Popular Man, "Kimutaku" was top once again in four other categories: Best Boyfriend (he's married), Sexiest Man, Sharpest Dresser, and Man I'd Most Like to Sleep With. With SMAP about to release a new album and start a concert tour at Tokyo Dome tomorrow, there seems to be no limit to Kimutaku's popularity.
No, no there isn't. This guy has charisma in spades and and sales of any product he endorses go through the roof. I love his TV dramas, too. My friends and I experienced this charisma first hand at a SMAP concert. We all went there thinking the guy was fairly hot, but also quite up himself. We each had an alternative preferred band member. Towards the end of the concert, the band members hopped on a truck that took them around the arena so the more distant fans could get that close-up feeling. Well three foreigners are pretty easy to spot in a crowd of Japanese, so we caught Kimura's eye. He just looked at us for a long, delicious moment and we were lost. We spent the hours after the concert trying to figure out how he did that. I wish I knew, because if you could bottle it, there'd be a fortune to be made.

Now that I've built him up past any reasonable expectations, here's a fun video compiled from four Gatsby ads he did:

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

rethinking my views on marriage

Sometimes you need a couple of days to think before you get a little more clarity. This post is actually a comment I added to my post on why I am opposed to Proposition 8, but I decided to post it properly (and I have reworked it a little as new thoughts have occurred to me). I'm not sure that even now I've come to some final decision ~ not on the Proposition (I definitely oppose that) but on the term marriage and how it is and should or shouldn't be represented in the law. Anyway, here it is...

How very interesting. I've just realised that I contradicted myself. In the post I described marriage as a deep and lasting bond that requires the fullness of the law to express but considering MoJo's comment I decided that if a civil union granted recognition as a couple (and all that entails legally) that whatever marriage ceremony the couple chose to have after that could be meaningless in the law.

I'd edit it, but that's kind of cheating, no? :) I guess it's more accurate to say that I believe there should be a way to express that you want to be bonded under the law and that aspect for me is about more than religion. It also about recognition of that bond by your society and of course the wider more boring recognitions that exist such as in tax and inheritance law and the like. I have called that bond marriage before and it still feels right to call it that, even if I am talking about a wholly non-religious legal union.

I know that some people see marriage as being a partnership between a (straight) couple and their God, but we live in too diverse societies for that to be the limit of the definition. I don't believe that it lessens marriage to use the word non-religiously. It has no less meaning in a religious context if someone else defines it differently from their own (different) religious or non-religious perspective. That's interesting to me, to realise that. I wrote the original post quickly because I was angry and I'm now maybe rethinking some of my own points.

I still do think that it is illogical and counter-productive to treat people who value the concept of marriage as if they are destroying it, and I definitely think that such a partnership should be labelled consistently in law - not marriage for some and civil union for others. Maybe it should be called civil union for all and marriage should be preserved for ceremonies with romantic and/or religious (but not legal) significance. Maybe it should be called marriage for all and any other meaning assigned to it is a matter for the individual couple and their religions if applicable.

Proposition 8 is definitely doing one thing I think is wrong - treating marriage as a religious term that can only be defined in one way. I say that not because the proposition mentions religion, but because the source of the desire to define marriage in the law as only being 'between a man and a woman' is a vocal few who see the term as a religious one imbued with only one meaning.

I think that that perspective divides the religious from the non-religious under the law (without any recognition that straight couples are deemed to fit that 'acceptable' profile, with no requirement to actually be at all religious). It also divides mainstream Christian religion from other religions or belief systems where marriage may be defined differently and yet be just as meaningful to those who choose to participate in it. True religious freedom cannot exist where one religious viewpoint is privileged in the law and civil (and sometimes human) rights take a beating in that scenario, too.

And in a related note...to all those California Mormons supporting Proposition 8, remember there is a reason that Alma the Younger resigned his post as chief judge in order to preach to the people. It's a little thing we like to call separation of church and state. His dual roles as chief judge and religious leader were not interconnected. So stop thinking that the church you belong to should define the status of others under the law...yes, even if the prophet said otherwise. Definitions under the law should reflect everyone's rights. There is nothing there that is going to change how Mormons define marriage in religious terms ~ civil marriage ALREADY differs from temple marriage in concept and wording. So marriage is already defined differently in law to the meaning that the LDS church assigns to it. Allowing the legal definition to reflect the broader and diverse society religious and other freedoms create is not going to hurt you or your marriages. Please bear that in mind when you vote on this issue.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

plug for a free neil gaiman book

If you don't know Neil Gaiman is my favourite author, you haven't been reading this blog very long. Well for those who have wondered if he's actually any good, and for those who like him but just haven't read Neverwhere, here is a link to his recent reminder (from his blog) that until the end of this month you can get a copy of Neverwhere free online.

From the Wiki entry on the original series, of which the book is not merely a dramatisation, but also a forum for Neil to expand on certain parts of the story and change/insert things the BBC wouldn't agree to for the TV series. :)

Richard Mayhew, a Scot living in London encounters an injured girl named Door on the street one night. Despite his fiancée's protests he decides to help her, but that unfortunately also means that he suddenly ceases to exist for regular people and becomes real only to the denizens of 'London Below', whose inhabitants are generally invisible and non-existent to the people of 'London Above'. He loses his house, his job and nearly his mind as he travels London Below in an attempt to make sense out of it all, find a way back, and helps Door survive as she is hunted down by hired assassins.
I hope you'll take the opportunity to check it out.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

california dreaming

I've heard a lot of rumours about 'the gays'. Haven't you? You know the ones about how promiscuous they are, out at the clubs all the time or in the park committing lewd acts with strangers and the like.* I mean, gosh, it's just all about the sex with these people. Isn't it?

Imagine my surprise then, to find out just how many loving, devoted same-sex couples there are out there wanting to stand before their family, friends and all the world, and marry. They want to make a beautiful and binding commitment that ties them together romantically and legally. What could these crazy folk be thinking? Why it's just like they're really in love or something...**


I've been reading a lot lately on Proposition 8. Basically Proposition 8 will, if passed, define 'marriage' in California law as being 'between a man and woman'. I've heard various opinions on the whole same-sex marriage subject. Some people claim that civil unions afford gay couples all the same rights under the law. I've certainly heard much to the contrary.

I've also read that marriage is sacred and that any redefinition of the law will besmirch the sanctity of the union. This to me is an ugly claim. Did it hurt marriage when the law was changed so that people of the same race could marry? Did you know that the original suffragettes wanted the vote (and other things that represented independence and equality for women) because they felt it would improve the institution of marriage. They argued that if women were independent ~ able for example to work and own property in their own name ~ they would marry by choice and not because they were dependent on marrying in order to survive. Prior to these developments marriage was like a union between a man and his property (in terms of how it played out in law. Obviously there would have been good marriages, too). Does that sound sacred to you? Do you think we lost something when a husband ceased to 'own' his wife? Both of these legal redefinitions fundamentally changed the perception of what marriage could and couldn't be and caused an uproar among conservatives during their time.

Now you have to understand that this issue is a difficult one for me. I've been a member of the Mormon church for most of my life (my parents joined when I was six years old) and for most of that time I was willing to accept what I was told at face value. Although this fundamentally changed for me about a year ago, I'm still attending church and still feel strongly about many of the values I learned there. But the Church's stance on Proposition 8 makes me angry. And on reflection I'm angry about the history preceding it, too. The history of institutionalised preservation of prejudice and unfair denial of equality where equality should or does already exist.***

I was shocked several years ago to find out that the Church (and some of the women in it) had actively worked against the Equal Rights Amendment. The 'wisdom' there was that giving women equal rights (including equal pay for equal work) would encourage women to work outside the home and 'abandon' their families. The myriad insulting implications of that thinking I do not want to delve into, but the one that I will point out is the idea that a woman's decision in relation to her marriage/work/life should not be determined by her own choice, but rather by a legalised dependence on her husband's good will.

Even after 1978, when the status of black people changed dramatically in the Church, marriage between people of different races was openly discouraged. When I heard about this, sometime in the 80s at an Institute class, it was explained to me in terms of culture, and by a man who was himself married to a woman of a different race. He explained that their bishop had told them it was not advisable for them to marry (though he did in the end support their decision and perform the ceremony) because marriage was hard enough even when you were starting on the same page culturally. Because there really were some huge hurdles for them to overcome in their very different perspectives on marriage and raising kids, this had come to sound like reasonable advice to him. And to me at the time as he explained it. Now I look back and think 'wtf?' That was a crock of shit and the fact that a man in a mixed-race marriage was feeding it to me shouldn't have made it smell any sweeter. Race and the POSSIBLE cultural differences it implies is just one of a LOT of things that can cause chasms of misunderstanding to be overcome in a marriage (different views on how to handle money immediately springs to mind).

And what of marriage itself? In a world where morality seems to be disintegrating and many people (with the obvious exceptions we all know who did all they could) seem to prefer divorce to any kind of work or sacrifice or compromise in order to help a relationship function effectively and lovingly, it is perhaps those who have been denied marriage who show a deeper commitment to it. I'm not referring to the straight people out there who value and work at their marriage. I'm talking about the growing percentage of straight society that don't bother with marriage, who feel that they 'don't need a piece of paper to prove their love' and those who do marry but never really respect that marriage tie ~ whether by failing to do the hard work it takes to maintain a successful marriage or by refusing to stay faithful to their spouse even though they entered marriage with that promise and intent.

My point is not that 'everyone must marry' or even that everyone should value it the same way. But think it's true to say that marriage as an institution does not have the same value in our society any more. For those of us who still think it is a beautiful and valuable thing, this seems like a shame, this diminishing of marriage. Yet here are the lawmakers in California and other places, trying to discourage and hinder those to whom it means a great deal ~ people who want to both bear and enjoy that commitment and who prefer for their children to grow up in families where there is a clear and unequivocable symbol of their parents devotion to each other and to the family as a whole.

These are not the people, in my opinion, who are threatening the institution of marriage. They look a lot to me like part of a small group ~ gay, straight or otherwise ~ who want to preserve the ideal of marriage as being more than just a common law arrangement or civil union, and being rather a symbol of a deep and lasting bond that requires the fullness of the law to express. And the fact that Latter-day Saints have contributed, at the request of the First Presidency, a significant amount of their time and money to supporting Proposition 8, is something I find both saddening and disturbing.

A couple of times I've been struck by the similarity of the sound of 'Proposition 8' and 'Preparation H'. And I'm okay with connecting the two. Because I can tell you right now that if I lived in California and attended church only to have a bishop read me a letter telling me that I've been instructed by the prophet, despite whatever might be my own feelings on this legal and not religious matter, to vote against the court-established civil rights of others, I would certainly be telling him to stick it up his ass.

*Re lewd behaviour in parks, ironically many of the men doing this are married men who don't want anyone to know they are not quite as straight as they pretend to be. Dishonest men like that also help spread HIV because carrying and using a condom makes it look like you planned to be there, and then you can't pretend you 'just got drunk and didn't know what you were doing' when someone finds out.

**The couple pictured here are Phyllis Lyon (then 79) and Del Martin (then 83), the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage licence in San Francisco. At that time (2004) they had been together 51 years.

***Yes, the LDS church is not the only church with a jaded, bigoted or mysogynistic past ~ in some cases, the LDS church pales in comparison with churches whose history stretches back into more barbaric times. But this is my church, and it is its history that I feel I have the right to comment on the most.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

the price of integrity

A 20-year-old Italian model has announced that her virginity is up for sale. She isn't the first and she won't be the last, and women give up their virginity all the time for stupid reasons, but what really struck me was the claim of her religious devotion.

Fico's family backed her claim she was still a virgin, citing her "devout" Catholic faith and discipline with prayer every night. "She's never had a boyfriend — I swear on my mother's grave," her brother said. “She's a devout Catholic and prays to Padre Pio every night."
Prays to him for what? A million euros? Is Padre Pio just not delivering fast enough? Somehow this 'devout Catholic' has decided it's okay to sell herself and hey, if the guy turns out to be ugly she'll just 'have a glass of wine and forget about it' (she said).

The article doesn't say anything about the reaction of her priest. That would be an interesting confession. I wonder what she would do if he told her that in addition to all the 'Our Fathers' and 'Hail Marys' she also had to give the money back in order to be forgiven.

This kind of hypocrisy irks me. If the girl wants to give away her virginity, that's up to her. If she wants to get paid for it, again...her choice. I think it's kind of appalling, but it's her body. But to then turn around and claim to be a devout Catholic ~ to in fact use that as a SELLING POINT ~ that is just off.

It's like those teenage 'Christians' in the US Bible belt who make virginity pledges and then think that limiting themselves to oral and even anal sex is keeping it. It's not just hypocritical, it's downright delusional. I get that there is a lot of pressure on them to conform to the rules of their parents, church and community, in appearance if not in actuality, but there is a certain number of these people who believe they have all their bases covered; that they have found the holy loophole and are 'right with God' even though they are basically spitting in the face of everything their supposed pledge stands for. What a crock.

"I can't wait to see who's going to pull out the money to have me," Fico said to magazine Chi.
Devout my ass.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

sythycd? ~finale~

Okay, the finale. The judges always get the chance to choose a favourite dance from the season, so there are lots of repeat routines. A highlight for me was that the judges took to the stage. Nigel did a tap routine with some students from the Debbie Allen Academy and Mary Murphy took a golden opportunity to get her hands on Dimitri and his infamous chest. Mind you, with sexy legs up to her neck, she's not looking too bad herself.

Shane Sparks choreographed this routine for the whole top 20.

This guest appearance by the cast of Criss Angel Believe features a very unusual and intriguing Wade Robson routine.

And how about the result? Though I'm happy for Joshua that he won, and I thought he was awesome throughout the season, I must admit that I would have ranked him third after Katee and Twitch in my line-up of favourites. I honestly thought Katee was the best dancer of the top 4.

Twitch has really attractive maturity as a dancer and performer. Not long before the finale, Adam Shankman announced that this season's winner would get a guest dancer role in the next movie he was choreographing. It was mostly for this reason that I had a secret wish that Twitch would win. Otherwise I would have gone for Katee.

But in the end Joshua was not a disappointment. He proved himself many times over and I can't be too sad he got the votes in the end. Here's a montage from his audition through to the results.


sytycd? top 4

Okay. First let me say that the top 4 didn't surprise me. Or at least I wasn't surprised who made it in from the top 6. I had always thought I would have to lose one of my favourite guys because Will was a superior dancer to both, but in fact Twitch and Joshua both made it through. Katee had to be there and Courtney, though not a particular favourite of mine, totally deserved to be there, too.

And on to my favourite routines from the show. Twitch and Courtney did a decent Napoleon and Tabitha hip hop routine, but at this point I feel like the 'angry girlfriend' routine has been done. This clip is of Joshua and Katee dancing a Wade Robson (Australian!!) lyrical routine.

Twitch and Joshua danced a Russian trepak. Good lord the energy required for this dance! Makes me tired just watching.

Here's a Mia Michaels routine from all four finalists. It's actually not here because I love it. It's kinda weird to be honest, and why they wore kilts I do not know. Maybe the costume department people were high at the time.


sytycd? top 6

Okay, time to wrap this up. The show's been over for ages. Not in Oz of course, though it's close to the end even here. My picks for top 6 show were Katee and Joshua, back together and dancing a Tyce DiOrio routine.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

careful what you say...on camera

Courtesy of Maggie I discovered this fantastic little comparison piece by Jon Stewart. Nothing like sitting back and letting people's own words condemn them.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

thinking, but not typing

So, almost two weeks without a post. I even missed my 'Happy Birthday to Me' post back on the 7th. Woohoo! Mexican wave! Okay that's done. (For anyone interested, I went out for Italian with friends.)

September 11 kind of came and went. I think the thing I felt most this year was that I am lucky. Once a year when people revisit this dark day and the symbolism of the terrorist act, I have a strong reminder that my world is not a safe place. For some people in war zones or other dangerous places, that kind of fear is their normal life. I really can't imagine how that feels.

As is my usual style during these blog holidays, I have several half-written drafts. I'll try to finish a few soon.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

the hobbit

From a current Empire magazine interview with Guillermo del Toro:
E: What’s happening with The Hobbit at the moment?

GDP: I’m working on it with Peter [Jackson], Philippa [Boyens] and Fran [Walsh] and we’re on the screenplay-writing phase right now. We are all writing. It’s a four-hand screenplay writing assignment. We’re all doing part of the task.

E: Is it hard to adapt The Hobbit to a screenplay?

GDP: To me, The Hobbit is a pleasure because I imagined it as early as I was 11. That one is a very seminal book in my life. The second movie is very attractive and we are wading our way through creating it – but it’s far more complicated.

E: Will any part of The Hobbit spill over into the second film, or will that act solely as a bridge to The Lord Of The Rings?

GDP: You know, it would be silly of me to continue saying things until the screenplays are done. I think the more I set parameters the more I’m gonna break them. We’re keeping it fluid right now, to the point where we are finding out what works.
I feel like I've been waiting to see the Hobbit done right my whole life. I love the idea of it as a movie, partly because it was so easy to imagine as a child and also because it isn't some saga where you know the whole story will take a series of movies to tell or where a lame sequel will ruin the magic. It has a beginning, a middle and an end that can all be contained in one movie. I can't wait to see Smaug done by Peter Jackson and the guy that created Pan's Labyrinth.

I'm interested also to see what they do for this second movie that is supposed to be a bridge between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. It's not based on original Tolkien material and I'm curious to see what Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh can produce. It must be quite something to work so closely on a creative project with your own partner.

[On a side note: when did Peter Jackson get so thin??]

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