a little east of reality

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

god's facebook page

Quite funny. I wonder if anyone has done a Bridget Jones' Diary-style version. That would be even funnier.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

transgender day of remembrance

Somehow I let this slip by (TD0R is Nov 20) despite the fact that I read some related posts from other bloggers. Given how much I've been thinking about this phenomenon (transgender or GID) this year, I wanted to acknowledge the day. This year I think that some people who are transgender have taught me one of the most important lessons I've ever learned. And it's going to sound ridiculously simple in my head as I type it, but here goes: We don't need to understand something to accept it.

I used to think some things were wrong, based on the fact that they didn't fit the 'natural order of things'. This attitude was also guided by religious belief and it was a narrow view. What I had failed to realise is that a certain percentage of anomalic difference IS natural. Though it manifests itself in a much more serious and life-altering way, transgender is no more unnatural than a birthmark, or a hereditary propensity to type 2 diabetes. Not only that, developmental anomalies are not harmful to others ~ they just exist.

There is one hugely important lesson I did learn from my church, and that is a unalienable respect for the truth. I can't ignore the fact that the doctrines of the church, despite numerous references to the eternal nature of gender, offer nothing in the way of explanation for why some people are born with indeterminate physical gender and why others are born identifying with a gender that does not relate to their physical body. In spite of this lack of clarity in the doctrine, transgender people who choose to have gender-reassignment surgery cannot receive the priesthood (a male gender privilege) or receive a temple recommend (the temple endowment ceremonies are quite gender-specific). I find this...inadequate. It is not enough (and this applies to the church's doctrine and policy on homosexuality, too) to say that you simply must deal with a 'condition' of your life that is totally irreconcilable with doctrine that is supposed to represent eternal truth. I don't think you can call something truth when it denies reality.

This doesn't only apply to religion. It's just a general fact. No matter what you believe is truth, you have to measure it against what is real. And if it doesn't measure up, you can't base what you do on it. Most importantly, you can't base how you treat other people on it. You can't deny someone else's reality, just because doing so makes you feel more safe in your explainable world. You can't hurt someone just because you don't understand them. Let me say that again. You can't hurt someone just because you don't understand them.

All hatred based on ignorance is upsetting, but I think the reason that I find hatred aimed at transgender men and women particularly disturbing is that after getting to know a few of these people, I feel like they are facing an internal struggle worthy of a lot of compassion on the part of other people. Many trans men and women reach out for understanding and receive hatred. I sometimes see the results of this in what they say and write. Some of them stop expecting to be treated well; they express surprise when people show them respect and kindness; they are rarely shocked (though deeply hurt and upset, of course) to hear about crimes committed against other transgender people and I think it's fair to say that many have either been the victim of harsh prejudice, or expect to be when they transition, or both.

It is appropriate for the Transgender Day of Remembrance to talk about transgendered people, but the salient point is not that they are transgender, but that they are people. And if the sampling I've discovered is anything to go by, really cool and articulate and funny people. They've been really open to me, answered some questions, and generally dealt very kindly with my naivety on the subject of transgender. It makes me feel really scared and mad to know they may be treated badly for no better reason than that they don't fit neatly into society's pre-determined boxes.

This video was prepared by some people in the transgender community for Transgender Day of Remembrance. I hope you'll take the time to watch it and acknowledge and remember the people who died.

Cross-posted at TRANScendGENDER.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

things i did on the weekend

1. Got a new boarder. He's from Saudi Arabia, which means our home will, most weeks, be a pork-free zone. He's quite gregarious, which I'm sure is a shock to the system for Hermit Boy, my Japanese boarder. He's definitely an extrovert and very eager to increase his level of English, so he chats a lot, but he's also not used to that much English, so by yesterday evening he was exhausted. I remember that!! At work in Japan most people wanted to speak English to me, but church was three hours of trying to understand Japanese way beyond my level that had me struggling to stay awake and not miss my stop on the train home (and it was only two stations from Ibaraki to Takatsuki).

2. Told Dancer Boy (aka Keyboard Kid) that I was going to rename him Flexi Boy on my blog after he showed me some particularly twisty moves he's picked up learning Contemporary. He's been concerned because he is the only one in his dance class that hasn't been learning dance for at least ten years and isn't doing more than four classes a week, but today his dance teacher told him that he's catching them up, so he was pretty excited. It's pretty exciting for me, too, to watch him get better as a dancer week by week. We watch a lot of dance-related TV shows or movies together (especially 'So You Think You Can Dance?') but suddenly he can watch a move and then two days later he's doing it in my kitchen. Wow.

3. Realised that despite reading numerous related posts, I had somehow missed the fact that Transgender Remembrance Day was happening. I would like to post something on that, but I'll do it tomorrow.

4. Gave the Primary kids left over Halloween candy. They all left with an eyeball, an ear, a severed finger or a nose. :)

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

and yet my enthusiasm refuses to wane

The Screenit.com review of Twilight:
"TWILIGHT" (2008) (Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson)(PG-13) Drama/Horror: After relocating to a small town to live with her dad, a teenager meets and ends up falling for a teenage vampire who's torn between his love for her and his appetite for her blood. Based on the novel of the same name, this is bad in a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" sort of way. There's purposefully overwrought teen angst, melodrama andsoap opera trappings, a languid pace, mediocre to often bad direction, bland acting, really cheesy special effects, and a story that should have had a stake run through it due to being quite trite. All of which means the film is a chore to sit through, especially in its 120 or so minute incarnation.
Sadly I am so eager for any movie the vampire gods offer that I'll probably still love it. /blush/

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

sytycd? canada ~ top 16

Ahhhh, crump is such a fun dance. Lil C is not only a great choreographer but also a good teacher. He brings out the beast in people by teaching them how to allow themselves to let out that kind of energy, aggression and passion.
Favourite Jean Marc comment this episode was when he said that the routine was so good that Lil C should now be known as Capital C. *LOL* Nice one.

But my favourite routine by far this episode was an afro-jazz routine choreographed by Sean Cheesman and danced by my favourite couple, Lisa and Vincent. Glorious!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

i don't often pine after riches

but some days...

(middle item)

Who would you like to have afternoon tea with?

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sytycd? canada ~ top 18

Quick post for this episode: my favourite dance this week was a brilliant pasa doble danced by Natalli and Francis. In highlighting this dance I want to also point out the costuming ~ the dress in particular is perfect for pasa doble, where the woman represents the bull fighter's cape.

This NY-style mambo is also pretty hot.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

sytycd? canada ~ top 20

The show opened with a hot, hot salsa routine from Arassay (Ah-rah-sigh) and Nico. They are one of my favourite couples. This is not the best routine of the night, but it's danced with such joy that I wanted to share it anyway.

Much longer, but better quality version.

My other favourite routine of the night was this contemporary routine choreographed by Stacey Tookey and danced by Lisa and Vincent (vin-son). Tookey describes the story as being about balance between a couple and for the dancers the routine was a lot about trust. I love the music choice (Emmy Rossum's 'Slow Me Down'), and i'm glad these two danced it. It's one of those routines that made me really emotional watching it. I love those.

Great start to the series. I also liked this hip hop routine danced by Natalli and Kevin (don't bother watching him ~ he's dancing the routine, she IS the routine) and this jive danced by Allie and Danny was really fun.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

i have way too much time on my hands

So I've been looking for a way to fill the space between the 4th season of SYTYCD? and the 2nd season of SYTYCD? Australia. How better to do so than watching the 1st season of SYTYCD? Canada!!


Who is Leah Miller? I can tell you who she is NOT. She is not Canada's answer to Cat Deeley. She's not terrible, but she's not adorable or sexy either...both of which Cat and the Australian host, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, have in spades. She's definitely more dolly bird than living doll. Apologies to any Canadians who think she's the bees knees.

The judges are waaaay kinder than the US or Aussie judges. The Canadian judges are always carrying on about how amazing the dancers were and sometimes gloss over lack of technique to rave about entertainment value or how hot they looked. They remind me of Marcia Hines on Australian Idol ~ the one judge who will never say anything negative and therefore is completely unhelpful to the contestants in knowing how to improve.

There are two regular judges, Tre Armstrong and Jean Marc Genereux (he often choreographs for the US show), and two guest judges that change each week. Tre makes the most intelligent/useful comments and is very articulate when explaining dance moves or genres. Jean Marc is hilarious and sweetly over-enthusiastic. He's a ballroom expert, but that's not my favourite things about him. His English isn't perfect (not that that should be an issue on a Canadian show - he speaks one of their national languages perfectly) and he sometimes messes up in the cutest ways (much cuter if you've ever taught English as a second language). My favourite so far is when he told a dancer they were "a force to be recognised". :) That should become a saying.

The voiceover guy that introduces Leah each week sounds like he's been chewing hot gravel. Kinda weird. And one last difference is that it's free to vote from your landline. SMS still costs, but it is possible to vote for free, which is pretty cool.

I've already watched about five shows, so be prepared to see episode highlights posts way too many times this week, the first in about ten minutes. But you'll get to see some cool dancing and choreography as a result!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

rollover beethoven!

Oh, and did you notice what happens when you hover the cursor over the Japanese in my last post?

That's right! You get a translation. I've been wanting to do this for ages (it's how I'm hearing the post in my head when I write about Japanese stuff), but I knew that probably only six people reading it would understand the Japanese.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Thmazing who just inadvertantly taught me the easiest way to do rollover text that I've ever seen (read: I just checked out his page source info for a post where he used the same trick). May you be visited karma style by random info you'd been looking for.

And I would have given you the html to do the same, but it keeps thinking it's an actual html command, so it won't display it properly (new trick to learn I guess), so if you want to know you'll have to go to the permanent link for this post, then once there right click on the screen and choose 'view source' (for IE) or 'view page source' (for FF).

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Friday, November 14, 2008

fun stuff on geekologie

Geekologie always have pretty fun stuff. This week it includes:

If the Matrix ran on Windows.

Fiber Optic Wallpaper

This popping edamame keychain which I めちゃめちゃほしい.

And this story about a guy who crystalised an entire apartment. So freaking cool. If I ever own my own house I'd love to do that to one room (and yes probably never will, but stop thinking in terms of reality). Actually I've always wanted a tatami room, too. Maybe I could crystalise it first and then replace the crystally floor with tatami matting. The apartment (shown in the video below) looks like a dark, wet, sparkly cave, but imagine a room like that after someone with the money to do it had fitted it out properly and gotten great light in there. It would look unbelieveable. I wonder if the crystals stay once they form or have a limited span...? I feel like they'd stay, based on no scientific knowledge of the subject whatsoever.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

don't extinguish love

This is compassionate, intelligent and inspiring.

Thanks Craig, for sharing it!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

invites that make you go hmmm...

I received an invitation this morning to join a cause on Facebook ~ Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman.

Yeah. I don't think so.

I've been discussing this issue on a Hatrack thread. It's reminded me why I stopped going there...very frustrating at times. This is one of my posts on that forum (bold = text quoted from a previous poster):
Originally posted by Scott R:According to the court that struck down prop 22, there were 9 ways that domestic partnerships in CA differed from marriage.I've already stated that I see no problems with equalizing marriages and domestic partnerships by granting those 9 points.So the discussion, at least as far as my opinion about California's laws are concerned, is that obviously, it is not about civil rights; in that regard, there is parity.

So you see no problems with that? How reassuring. Do you actually not see the arrogance there?

This is not just about the rights you are so generously willing to see granted. This is also about the right to use the word 'marriage'. Marriage is an "institution that conveys dignity and respect to the lifetime commitment of any couple". It's like the water fountain argument someone made earlier. It's not relevant if the water is the same, or if the fountain is the same size or in the same locations. It is in the implied need for a separate water fountain that the denial of a person's humanity begins.

What is it about homosexuals that prompts you to keep the word marriage from them? Why it is important that their unions not wear the same label as yours? Why can't they drink at your water fountain?

Many religions have a building they refer to as a temple. The LDS church doesn't lay claim to the word, even though the temple is its most sacred location. In Hindu temples, people worship a plethora of heathen gods. I've been to several Buddhist temples in Japan and the level of commerce in those places contrasts sharply with the purpose and environment of an LDS temple. I'm sure that not a single 'temple' worldwide exactly mirrors the LDS temple. But so what? LDS temple patrons lose nothing as a result of these alternative definitions of the word. Those other worshippers, however, gain something by using it for themselves. The word has not only meaning to them individually, but also is understood in society to convey a certain level of respect and sacredness, even from those who think their beliefs are strange or abhorrent.

You can't just say that you are comfortable with granting the rights you choose to grant and withhold one that makes you squeamish. That's the nature of equality and rights - what you are 'comfortable with' isn't relevant, because your comfort isn't the goal.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

no good deed goes unpunished

Yesterday I helped out at the local high school, painting walls a rather garish shade of plum. There was also gardening on offer, but I find that particularly hard on my lower back, so I chose the painting, thinking I was doing myself a favour. Hmmm.

I was climbing up to line a cornice with masking tape when I felt an odd wrenching feeling in whatever joint it is that joins the top of your left leg to your pelvis. It felt weird all day, like when your back is a bit out, but there was little pain. Not so this morning. Today that joint feels stiff and the muscles (tendons maybe?) are sore. Getting up from a sitting position is painful, but most of the time it just feels achey.

Maybe I'm just getting old. :)

On a brighter note, last night I saw the movie Death Race. So much fun. It's one of those movies that is really pretty pointless (unless you are the company who will make a squillion dollars from the video game) but you can't help but enjoy the adrenaline rush. Like many movies in this genre it has an appalling (and not very original) basic premise ~ in this case the 'futuristic society uses prisoners for colosseum-type blood sports' setting. Don't you just love how the future of society is always depicted as either Utopian or completely depraved? We love us our extremes, don't we? Kudos to whoever cast Joan Allen as the nasty chief warden ~ anyone who saw her in the Bourne movies just knew she was destined to portray a calm-faced villain at some point.

Anyway, watching the mice try to defeat some nasty maze-keepers was just the mindless activity I needed to shake off my low mood over the Proposition 8 decision. Feeling down is exhausting and counter-productive. Reality does sometimes bite, but its teeth don't seem as sharp when I face it and move on. So be it.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

I thought today's post would be about obama

I wanted to celebrate his election to President of the US. Exciting news. Instead I find myself in a bit of a blue funk, because in a state far away, a decision was narrowly made to eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry. This post would be a lot longer than it already is if I explained fully why this angers and disappoints me and I've said a lot of it before anyway. Instead I just want to focus on one aspect of the matter: family.

A few days ago I received a forward from a friend (here in Australia) with a link to a Youtube video of a song written by Janice Kapp Perry in support of the Yes on 8 campaign. JKP music is a little dated now in Church circles, but back when her songs were new I really liked them. They were beautiful and melodic, and easy to remember and sing. I actually felt spiritually uplifted when I listened to them. Unfortunately in this case, I got a bad feeling the moment I saw the text accompanying the link in the email:

Dear Members

Please have a listen to this lovely song from Janice Kapp Perry. On YouTube, things spread like wildfire across the Internet. To get our message out about the importance of families and marriage, we have written a song called, 'Save the Family' which we have produced into a powerful music video.

Click below to see it and feel the magic and importance of families. Here's the link for the music video.
It's here. Feel free to go listen to it before you continue reading.

The song should have been wonderful. Families are precious. They are the building blocks of society. Without strong families the nation will crumble. But the moment I saw those words, 'our message about the importance of families and marriage' I knew that I wasn't going to hear a song written in support of families and marriage, but instead a message about 'saving' one type of family by invalidating another.

I am sitting at my desk in a very empty office right now and that's kind of how I feel inside. 'Dear Members'. That's addressed to me. I'm a 'member'...and that used to feel like such a good thing to me. Even recently as I've been re-examining my religion, it didn't feel bad to be a member of the Church. But when I got that email I felt so angry.

That is not OUR message. That is not MY message.

Who do they think 'we' are under attack from? How exactly does same-sex marriage diminish their marriages? Is it like some kind of exclusive club, where membership only has value if you keep the numbers small? But the song isn't actually talking about marriage; it's talking about families. If I call Scot and his husband and their twins a family, explain how I'm being inaccurate. When I go home to visit I inevitably spend a lot of time with one of the most vibrant (read: NOISY!) families I know, parented by two lovely women. We play cards and catch up and their crazy brood (most of whom I've known since they were born) tire me out with their stories and questions. I like being there. They're precious to me. And never once have I sat in their lounge watching the general hubbub around me and thought, 'gee, such a shame they're not a real family'.

How dare anyone try to declare that there is only one valid kind of family? How dare they look at children with parents who love them, and declare their families to be a threat to what is good and wholesome? There've been a lot of comparisons in the last few months to racism, segregation and laws that banned inter-racial marriage. The comparisons are fair. People used to look at an inter-racial couple and believe that there was something inherently wrong with them being together. And what they didn't understand, they legislated against.

There was a time when I really believed that homosexuality was a sin. I hate admitting that, but it's the truth and it's relevent here. I was in that 'hate the sin, love the sinner' frame of mind and I saw it in the same vein as people who 'lived in sin' instead of getting married - I didn't think it was right, but it never stopped me being friends with anyone.

One day at a friend's house I heard a very sad story (not uncommon in the gay community, especially when you go back a few years) about a woman whose partner had died. Because they weren't married (at that time couldn't even legally be considered to be a de facto couple) her partner's family was able to successfully shut her out of the funeral (not just the arrangements...the actual funeral) and eventually force her out of the house she and her partner had shared. They did not choose to acknowledge her part in the life of their daughter/sister. Instead they treated their family, the one they built together by choice, as if it never existed. As much as they could, they rendered it invisible, unimportant.

As I listened to this story, I knew right then that no matter what I thought about homosexuality, I had to support the right to same-sex marriage. I don't get to choose who can and can't be a family. I don't get to tell consenting adults that my opinions matter more than their relationship. 'I don't live that way, so you can't either' is a piss-poor way to treat other human beings.

I saw a short speech on Youtube by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders from back in 2007 when he was explaining his decision to support a same-sex marriage bill (after previously saying he would veto it). It was so beautiful I sent him an email. :)

Here's an excerpt:

As I reflected on the choices I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community that they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage...

Two years ago I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative. Those beliefs in my case have changed. The concept of a 'separate but equal' institution is not something I can support...

I have close family members and friends who are a member of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff. I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones - for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back; someone with whom they can grow old together and share life's experiences.

And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldn't look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship - their very lives - were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana.
To make people...couples...families...invisible in the law is to deny that they are people of equal standing. These are real families. They can't be put away like an ugly vase or avoided like bad news you don't want to hear. No matter what you think you see when you look at them, you are not supposed to treat other people that way.

So to Janice Kapp Perry and anyone in California who thinks they saved 'the family' with their fucking bullshit Yes on 8 vote, I want to say that I DO NOT accept your limited definition of family and I DO NOT support your derision for other people's families. I DO, however, think you suck.

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