Sunday, June 30, 2002

["The Myth of Gay Macho" by Richard Goldstein]: "The world that queer radicals would create is one where no man needs to butch up to fly right. Masculinity would be something every male possesses, not a test every boy must take. Gay men would be free to follow their hearts without sacrificing prestige--and so would straights. After all, macho is a wound for everyone. It isn't just about boys bonding and dads passing their cojones along to their sons. It's also about boys brutalizing each other to establish a hierarchy based on fear of the feminine, and fathers injuring their sons for failing to make the grade. It's about mothers repressing their daughters, and butch girls suffering through the female equivalent of the playground trauma: the prom from hell."

      >> 2:46 PM

Last night Rob and I went to see [Cloud Gate Dance Theater] perform at the [American Dance Festival]. The dance was very slow. Lots of slow movements, exquisitely expressive writhings. At times, it seemed like the dancers weren't really moving, just somehow making their way across the stage as if in a slidshow. The story of the dance was based on a spiritual, Buddhist journey. It was slow. Very full of prayer and struggle. The music was Georgian folk songs. It was all very slow. Kinda lulling. Like the dance wanted to force you to slow down everything in your life to focus on just a few simple, repeated actions.

      >> 12:21 PM

Saturday, June 29, 2002

So usually I'm angry at advertising and spam. But I was just over at [The Onion] and there's this cool Absolut ad on the front page. It's called "Absolut Composer" and after you click the ad (play), you can play music with the numbers on your keyboard. The little dots swirl when you press the buttons. Oooo.

Perhaps I need some coffee.

      >> 9:59 AM

Thursday, June 27, 2002

[Youngbradford] is doing the San Francisco [AIDSwalk]: "i walk because . . . I need to. I want to. I have to. It is a great high. HIV must end. My friends have it. It's fun to walk. It's exercise. I get a cool t-shirt. I am gay. I am human."

I don't live anywhere near an AIDSwalk now, so I thought I'd pledge some support to [someone who is walking]. You can too.

      >> 10:14 AM

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

[Rabbit blog]: "Who wants to be left to their own devices anyway? All my devices are old and rusty and I'm bored with them. I've spent plenty of time rattling around in my own brain with the same tired old thoughts and reactions to the world."

Cackle cackle.

      >> 9:20 AM

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Fer cryin' out loud: [Eek, a Cartoon Penis]

Even when public officials (go SF!) aren't trying to clamp down on the circulation of healthy knowledge about sex and sexually transmitted diseases, someone gets in the way. I don't understand why information about syphillis and penises is something that "children" need to be protected from. It's like these people think that if someone even hints at sex around a child, the child will be scarred for life. Whatever. I'm so over people. I want to go live in a commune with only people I like. Or maybe I should start a cult. Or join one.

      >> 1:24 PM

I liked Minority Report overall despite its sentimental (and inexplicable to me) insistence on the depths of Tom Cruise's grief over his son and its simplistic statement that predestination is not absolute. I would've liked to see a more involved exploration of the relationship between precognition and the events of the future/present/past. Yes, the precogs can predict the future, but apparently once the actors know what their future is, they can change it. So what are the precogs seeing? The likeliest scenario? The future that would be given no predictive intervention? And in the splurge for a tidy ending, the movie's world abandoned the idea of pre-crime entirely, as if there were not stronger arguments to be made for preventing murder despite the possibility of changing fate.

Though he never quite seems to get the big picture, to make the whole movie resonate in my mind with possibilities (that I don't have to imagine outside the frame of the movie), Spielberg always presents details well. The eyes are the key in Minority Report. They become a person's identity. They also become a person's connection to the world of marketing. Eyescans identify consumers and allow personalized advertisements to follow your every move. It's really quite a bleak world of intrusive advertising and hyper-consumer culture. Interestingly, the eyescans look like the brainwashing of people in the movie. The momentary flash of light over the eyes gives the people a dazed look; they continue walking.

      >> 10:32 AM

Sunday, June 23, 2002

I have a tendency to make fuzzy connections, so the following may seem like a series of non sequiters.

Talking to my sister yesterday about the Franke-Ruta article dissecting Hewlett's book about babies (see previous post), we wondered about the forcefulness of Franke-Ruta's critique. It was really my sister who said that while the article was good at debunking Hewlett's myth (professional women can't have children), it seemed still to buy into this ideal of the working woman who can successfully have a career and children. Hidden within Franke-Ruta's critique, then, might be a reinforcement of this idea that women have an innate desire to have children, that their lives would in fact be purposeless without children. What my sister and I want to see is someone -- our idea of a feminist -- say that it is okay not to want children, not to have children, if you are a woman.

Rewind to my last year in college. In the class "Twentieth Century American Intellectual History," I read the introduction and conclusion of Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution at the end of the semester to cap off our foray into intellectual thought of the century with this theoretical text of the Women's Liberation Movement. I'd never heard of Firestone before, but as soon as I skimmed through her incisive critique of gender class and her vision of a transformed, feminist society, I called up my sister about this amazing thinker who wasn't afraid to argue that we shouldn't be tied to biological imperative (whether or not it is "real"). By coincidence, my sister had just recently picked up Firestone's book as well.

Intrigued by Firestone's book, I started researching her and her work. Through the recent (last five years or so) outpouring of memoirs from many of the women in the WLM (Susan Brownmiller, Karla Jay, and others), I gleaned that Firestone fairly disappeared from the activist scene after the publication of her book and was put away in mental institutions for the better part of the next two decades.

The only other book she has published since The Dialectic of Sex is Airless Spaces in 1998, a small volume of short tales and portraits of inmates of mental hospitals and other destitute persons. The shift in tone, from utopian to claustrophobic, is dramatic and disconcerting.

Other women from the heyday of the WLM, both antagonistic and sympathetic, characterize Firestone as a firebrand, uncontrollable and passionate, crazy. Her impatience with smug upholders of the status quo pushed her to physical violence. She saw change in the wind, helped to bring it about, but could not wait for the rest of the society to catch up.

I'm rereading Michael Warner's The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. I suggested it to my sister as a book that might make the strong kinds of arguments we seek in feminist and queer revolution. In regards to sex, Warner argues that embracing the messiness of sex (shame and all) and a plurality of sexualities would constitute a truly ethical understanding of sex.

      >> 4:00 PM

Saturday, June 22, 2002

"Fertility, after all, is not an absolute property but a capacity that exists within couples and that varies in an individual depending on his or her partner."

["Creating a Lie: Sylvia Ann Hewlett and the myth of the baby bust" by Garance Franke-Ruta] is full of great sentences like the one above which neatly encapsulate the dynamics of a feminist understanding of reproduction and other gendered properties.

      >> 11:04 AM

I just recently found out about this magazine Bust: For Women With Something to Get Off Their Chests. Don't know quite what to make of it. It seems like a more enlightened manifestation of girl power, with less of a need to proclaim itself non-feminist ("feminist"'s implied meaning being "ugly, man-hating, with-a-chip-on-her-shoulder, etc.") than some other girl power things. But I did skim an article in [an issue] about the guy who created the Powerpuff Girls.

      >> 10:53 AM

Whee! [Secretkings] just likened Pride to Passover and Diwali! And I agree!

      >> 10:28 AM

Yesterday was one of those days when the world seemed felicitous. Perhaps gestures and random occurences were just in sync with my personal rhythms. Twice I walked by people on campus who waved excitedly at me. "Hello!" But neither time was the happy stranger actually waving to me. Browsing in the bookstore I found in the bargain pile Peter Gay's Penguin Lives biography of Mozart, a book my sister has been looking for but hasn't seen around. I bought it for her and sent it in the mail. I also saw that my advisor's new book [Democracy's Children: Intellectuals and the Rise of Cultural Politics] is out though I refrained from buying more books for myself. At my [web intern position], I cleared up a months-long mystery about the new server file system. As I walked out of the office and toward the bus stop, I saw my bus coming along at just the right moment: no wait.

Rob and I had dinner at his mom's house. It was pleasant; at least as pleasant as dinner with a group of people I don't know can be for me. And when we ran off to the movie theater later, I bought two tickets for Minority Report, walked away from the ticket counter, and heard an announcement that the showing was now sold out.

      >> 10:07 AM

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Axiom 8: People don't like to be described just so.

I do it, you do it. We all do it! People don't like it when others can describe who they are exactly, when others can predict what they will do based on personality, characteristics, identifiable desires, etc. We want to be elusive, chameleon-like, always unpredictable and thus always original and utterly our selves. Once someone can pinpoint us, describe us so well that any passing stranger would be able to recognize us, we panic. We feel that the world is closing in, that once understood, we will also be controllable, at the mercy of our knowers. And so we change. We metamorphosize. We are in constant flux.

      >> 12:00 PM



      >> 11:26 AM

Ooo!!! If I make [10 conversions], I get a Special Edition "Drag Queen Ken" Doll! Thank God for the American Homosexual Recruitment Agency! (Wait! I just realized that I sat in one of those High Heel Shoe Lounge Chairs in Leopard Print at a choco-cafe in South Norwalk!)

And who can forget ['98 Homosexual-Recruitment Drive Nearing Goal]?: "Straight people don't have any fun," said Teddy Nance, 11, after watching Breeders Are Boring!, an anti-heterosexual filmstrip, in his fifth-grade class at Crestwood Elementary School in Roanoke, VA. "Gay people get to do whatever they want."

Tee hee.

Ooo! And where can I get one of those [Fisting Kits]?

      >> 11:04 AM

Have you read the fine print lately? "You have received this email because you or someone using your email address agreed to receive special offers from Enterprise Marketing Solutions, Inc. and its marketing partners." Didn't spam used to say just that you had agreed to receive special offers from them (patently a lie in most cases)? I guess now telemarketers are trying to cover their asses by saying that "or someone using your email address" may have signed you up for a hell of spam.

I'm very very very angry at spam, telemarketing phone calls, and other forms of intrusive advertising today. I just had to delete another voicemail message from a "debt management" company offering me a special for their services. I feel like I'm the only person who actually gets voicemail messages from telemarketers. Every day I clear out some twenty or so spam e-mails to my various e-mail addresses. I'm even getting spam to e-mail addresses I never use. How the fuck do they find these addresses? Who is fucking selling them to advertisers? I was also woken up this morning by a telemarketing call. And let me tell you, that's the best time to try to sell me something. I just hung up on the person.

To make things worse, then my mom called with one of her guilt trip sobs. "Your dad is about to retire. He has worked hard all his life. He gets up so early in the morning and gets home so late at night." Subtext: you are a lazy slob. "You are so dependable and strong." Subtext: you can change your homosexual-literature-professor-wannabe ways and become a doctor still.

I'm usually very sympathetic to telemarketers and my parents. (Yes, I'm lumping them together now.) I imagine that it must be difficult to make cold calls as a telemarketer, to face rejection after rejection all day long, many of them rude no doubt. And so I try to be very kind to telemarketers, understanding that many of them are just trying to make enough money to live. But hell, I'm through with spending five to ten minutes of my day just kindly rejecting telemarketing campaigns and their multiple attempts to deal with my "no thanks." I'm just going to hang up now or yell at them. And with my mom, I'm not going to let her get away with trying to guilt trip me. I need to take the offensive. Maybe not explicitly criticize her materialistic worldview or anything, but at least not let her cast my life in a negative light.

I also need to start making homosexual recruiting pamphlets. I'm sure I can find them on the web somewhere. You know what I'm talking about, right? We homosexuals go out and recruit susceptible young children. At least that's what the religious right, evangelists-par-excellence, say. So Rob and I have joked a few times about printing up some homosexual recruiting pamphlets and handing them out to people who try to proselytize us. We'll take their pamphlets about Jesus's saving grace with a smile and return the favor with one about anal ecstasy and the joys of masturbation and porn.

      >> 10:24 AM

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Celebrate [Juneteenth] today! Being the literature geek that I am, I really only found out about Juneteenth when Ralph Ellison's [Juneteenth] was published posthumously in 1999. Literary scholar John F. Callahan pieced together (and excerpted) the novel from unorganized manuscript material. Many reviewers have noted that we will never know what Ellison's second novel would've looked like at all, nor what story he would've focused on from the wealth of writing he produced over forty years. I had heard that someone was reproducing Ellison's manuscript material in loose leaf form so that we could shift through the material and imagine for ourselves the totality of that unfinished novel. I don't know what ever became of that publishing venture, though.

      >> 10:43 AM

The good news is that they said I've brushed my teeth well. Despite skipping out on the dentist for some fifteen years or so, my teeth seem to have held up pretty well on their own. I do have a few cavities (boo!) and a little tartar buildup (cleaned up today). My gums are all sore now, too. But I'm just glad the dentist didn't say all my teeth have to be pulled out because they're all decayed or something. I'm celebrating with a nice strong, hot mug of coffee. Whee!

      >> 10:03 AM

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

I can't believe my guestbook is being spammed.

I want to trade in my 1997 Honda Accord for a new-fangled gas-electric hybrid [Insight].

I've been getting back into my musical theater albums after seeing Cabaret. In one simple analysis, musical theater focuses music and songs into narratives. These songs tell stories, and they tell them in concert with other songs, even as certain musical motifs might run throughout most of the collection.

While in NYC at [The Asian American Writers' Workshop and Bookseller], I ran into someone I knew vaguely in college. She walked by me out the door, then stuck her head back in to take a closer look at me. I recognized her immediately, as she had me, though we couldn't quite place each other. I remembered that I knew her from college, but couldn't divine in what context. Through one of those strange indirect associations, we had seen each other around various organizational events quite often. Anyhoo, we chatted a bit and I found out that she's been working with the [Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solutions] (FACES), an organization campaigning for the clean up of former U.S. military bases in the Philippines. Not surprisingly, the problem is one of environmental contamination, the toxic waste left behind by the U.S. military, and the boldfaced refusal of the U.S. to acknowledge responsibility for the environmental and health damage caused by the waste.

      >> 8:42 PM

I really enjoyed my week in Connecticut and New York City with Rob. We revelled in the lower humidity, even playing outside in the sun the first day we arrived. We walked around the City a lot (sore, sore, sore!) and saw [Stomp] and [Cabaret] starring [John Stamos]. I got to meet the cute and inimitable [BJ] at the Phoenix in the East Village.

We played video games, stayed up late every night, and slept in every morning. I visited many of my favorite bookstores: [Housing Works Used Book Cafe] (an incredible, quiet hideaway in SoHo), [The Asian American Writers' Workshop and Bookseller], Mercer Street Books, and [St. Mark's Bookshop]. One of these days, I'll have to undertake a tour of bookstores in NYC with my friend Tania as we joked about a few years ago.

I got to see some of my friends from college and met some of Rob's friends, too.

Mostly we stayed with Rob's friend Jeff and his wife Maybeline who were extra-kind in letting us crash with them for a week. One night, though, we stayed in NYC at the Marcel Hotel on 24th St. and 3rd Ave. Hotels can be a lot of fun.

And now I guess I'm back.

      >> 5:59 PM

[A Slaying in 1982 Maintains Its Grip on Asian-Americans]: "The tragedy marked our political coming of age," said Helen Zia, a writer who helped found American Citizens for Justice in response to the Chin killing. "But we also need to consider where we go from here."

      >> 10:49 AM

Friday, June 07, 2002

Sometimes I think I'm a depressive; sometimes I think I'm just anti-social, a misanthrope. I really just don't want to deal with most people and all their idiosyncracies. I've not talked about my plans to visit NYC this coming week because I didn't want to face the inevitable task of e-mailing a group of about ten people I know from college living in the area. As much as I want to see them, it's always a production to set up meetings, dinners, group events, etc. Sometimes I wish I could just go visit NYC in stealth mode, not have to visit anyone. The thing is, I want to visit some people for certain, but if I visit them, then the other people will know I was there and will be upset that I didn't see them as well. If I had a lot of time, it wouldn't be a problem. But I don't have all the time in the world.

I sent out an e-mail yesterday to this group of friends. And this morning when I checked my e-mail, I got a couple of nice responses, but one fairly nasty one from someone who was bitter that I hadn't responded to her e-mails from a few months ago. As much as it was inconsiderate of me not to respond to her e-mails, I think as a friend she should also be a little more forgiving for such minor transgressions. Perhaps instead of accusing me of being terrible for not responding, she could have asked if I was particularly busy or stressed out this semester. She sent the e-mails to me at the busiest point of the semester; I was so swamped with work I didn't get around to responding, and then the necessary time to respond was over (she wanted to know if I was going to be in NYC, actually, a particular week a few months ago because she was visiting home on her spring break).

I think the best way to appease people is to set up a dinner, just name a place and time, and then see who can show up. If I run around town trying to meet up with everyone individually, I get all frazzled and unhappy. And it's not that I don't want to see people, but I don't want to deal with all the resentment if I don't see certain people, etc.

      >> 3:30 PM

Thursday, June 06, 2002

I haven't been very good at writing this week. It's the heat, I say, and trying to get my car fixed. I finally dropped the car off at the body shop Wednesday morning, and I'm hoping it'll be ready by five today, though it's more likely I won't get it back until Friday.

I did watch a few more movies. I saw [The Center of the World], which was just awful. It's Wayne Wang's latest film. A computer genius guy turned millionaire falls in love with a stripper and takes her to Las Vegas. He wants them to be more than just client-and-stripper. But she doesn't. As much as it intrigues me why there are so many stories of sex-for-pay, companionship-for-pay turned love, I often wonder why this particular story has such a hold on the cultural imagination. Are we really so obsessed with and unnerved by the easiness with which love can be renumerated?

I also saw this Spanish movie [Not Love, Just Frenzy] set among some young adults and Madrid's nightclub scene. It was kind of like a Spanish Melrose Place or something. It had one of the most fucked up endings I've ever seen. A sort of sex-violence-death kind of thing.

I want to see a good movie. [Recommendations?]

I want to try to finish up a couple of books before I leave for NYC with Rob. The trip is still unplanned, but mostly definite. (Meaning, we're going, but we haven't made specific plans about when we're leaving, what we're doing, etc.)

      >> 2:54 PM

Monday, June 03, 2002

In preparation for reading Noel Alumit's [Letters to Montgomery Clift], I thought I'd watch an old film starring [Mr. Clift] himself. I didn't know who he was until this past weekend when someone mentioned to me that he was a closeted gay male actor popular in the middle part of the last century. I rented From Here to Eternity and just watched it this afternoon. Clift was one hot cookie. And I find myself once again torn between desiring these figures of rugged masculinity and feeling that they are horribly misogynistic... ([Mark] also pointed me to ["Hollywood Homosexuals"], an interview with Brett Farmer about his book Spectacular Passions: Cinema, Fantasy, Gay Male Spectatorships, that mentions Montgomery Clift as well as explores the intertwining of male homosexuality and classic American cinema.)

      >> 5:04 PM

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Just finished [Lagaan], a four hour Indian musical film mentioned by [scapegoatee] a few days ago. Rob saw a part of it with me this morning and said it looked like a high-stakes Disney movie, maybe like The Mighty Ducks, but instead of playing for their parking lot or whatever, the villagers in Lagaan were playing for their lives (via the heavy tax threatened by the British). It was a fun film; the musical segments were beautiful and usually involved scores and scores of people. The story is rather trite, though: the downtrodden people have faith in themselves and defeat the cocky rulers. But hey, it was very well done, and I think it was ultimately destabilizing how the English lady (Elizabeth) helped the Indian villagers, falling in love with Bhuvan, the idealistic leader of the villagers, but then is likened to Radha (and Bhuvan to Krishna). She can never tell him she loves him; he professes his love to Gauri, a young woman in his village who has pined for him all along. The movie suggests that this love triangle, this excess love, is like the love of the gods [Krishna and Radha]. Earlier in the film, Bhuvan and Gauri perform a musical number enacting the jealousy of Radha for Krishna and his gopis. But by the end, the film suggests that Gauri is a gopi, and Elizabeth is Radha.

      >> 6:27 PM

Saturday, June 01, 2002

My car looks rather like a terrifying humanoid-eating machine-monster from the front. I wonder if anyone would buy a car that had a transparent exterior. Can you imagine seeing a car drive around with all its interior parts churning away?

I feel naked in my car now. I think it's partially because without a front bumper, I'm scared that I'll bump into the car in front of me and sustain far greater damage than I would with a bumper. Part of it is probably also feeling that other drivers are looking at me funny. Are they thinking, what a loser? What happened there? What an idiot? And the car is, afterall, missing a piece of its clothing.

      >> 1:06 PM