elettaria: (Default)
We're thinking of going to see Dorian Gray (is it any good, those of you who've seen it?), and it's got me pondering the phenomenon of excessively dull opposite-sex love interests in screamingly gay, but rather closety, novels. Sybil Vane is really terribly dull, and while she starts out as completely uninteresting to the reader, by the time Dorian has done with her, she's completely uninteresting to everybody in the novel as well. Another example is, erm, let me go to the bookcase since I can't remember her name, right, Esther in Ben Hur. Not only is she good, passive and unspeakably boring, but the hero keeps comparing her to his little sister, which is downright creepy. She's more obviously contrasted to the Sexy Bad Woman in the book, whom Ben Hur flirts with but ultimately rejects. His most intense relationships in the novel are with men, including a solid page of being ogled at one point by the guy ("he was a conoisseur of men physically") who ends up as his adoptive father, and the big relationship of course is with the Roman Messala. Apparently, in the film the actor playing Messala was intentionally playing him as a rejected lover, but Charlton Heston was homophobic and so wasn't told, and didn't notice, that he was playing the other half of a gay love scene.

Back to the "they're straight! they're straight! really, they're straight!" love interests. The Lord of the Rings is not a novel that to my view encompasses eroticism, but it does contain extremely strong bonding between men. In some cases, such as Frodo and Sam, I'd call it love, but even apart from that, it's noticeable how all the men pair off. It's a novel about a male world, of course, but still, the way Rose is introduced right at the end, after an entire novel's worth of Sam's fervent devotion to Frodo, is rather odd. As for the courtship of Arwen and Aragorn, it's relegated to an appendix, she just turns up and marries him in the novel almost out of nowhere.

Though nothing quite beats Defoe's lesser-known novel Captain Singleton, in which two men spend the entire novel thoroughly coupled up together being Gay Quaker Pirates (once misheard by a friend as Gay Quaker Parrots), sailing the high seas and then sharing a room when they retire. The sister of GQP A is introduced vaguely near the end, I think she's just mentioned in passing as their landlady, and then suddenly GQP B marries her without warning in the last paragraph.

I think these are a slightly different thing, though. It wasn't so much the idea of shoving an emergency woman into the plot to straighten things up and not being interested enough to flesh her out, it's when the character does get a reasonable amount of stage time and still comes up about as charismatic as a dishtowel. You could, at a stretch, even argue this about Ashley in Gone With The Wind, a novel I firmly believe to be a fine example of repressed lesbianism. Scarlett spends the whole novel in love with him, or at least with her idea of him, and he pops in and out, getting far less time and attention than his wife, Scarlett's sister-in-law, whom she claims to hate and with whom she is clearly rather obsessed. He's not bad as a character, he's certainly not as dull as Esther, but he's still rather, well, wet. Mind you, Melanie is a bit strange as well, she's portrayed as nauseatingly good although she's actually fairly human once you stop taking Scarlett's word for it.

Any thoughts on all of this, and does anyone feel like analysing the characters/novels/phenomenon further?
elettaria: (Croton)
The good news: female/female couples given improved birth rights, and a happy response from a couple with two children.

The bad news: 100W incandescent bulbs banned starting from tomorrow. If you need 100W bulbs (I can't tolerate fluorescents due to a medical condition, as is true of many people), go and stockpile NOW.

The ponderings: since blue light stimulates serotonin and suppresses melatonin (i.e. makes us more alert), and orange light allows melatonin to be produced (i.e. makes us sleepy), then why do we persistently associate orange with energy and blue with relaxation?

O frabjous day!

Friday, 1 May 2009 11:48 am
elettaria: (18th century mullet)
Carol Ann Duffy made Poet Laureate!

They turned her down last time because, and I quote but by now can't remember from where, they didn't think middle England could cope with having a lesbian mother as poet laureate. The BBC gracefully skirts this thorny issue by neglecting to mention that she's queer at all. I'm not that bothered, it's probably better than having a headline saying "First gay person as Poet Laureate!"* Heavens only knows that we all got sick enough of the media suddenly getting the urge to inform us in every single article just after the US election that Obama was going to be the first black US President, as if that were now his defining feature.

Going back to Duffy, I suspect another reason why she was passed over a decade ago is because her poetry is sometimes quite disturbing, all the more so because she's damn good at writing effectively. There was a row when one of her poems was cut from the GCSE syllabus over fears of teenagers being unable to understand irony knife crime (good response here and Duffy's response here). Maybe this shows a move away from the trend of sugar-coating literature-for-the-masses, where they try to pretend that the last thing poetry is about is sex or violence? Or maybe it's like the policy I reckon they follow for the Booker Prize, where good authors such as Atwood and McEwan get repeatedly turned down for their greatest works, then awarded the prize for a distinctly lesser novel out of sheer embarrassment?

Duffy's Selected Poems is a book that's had quite a run for its money in my household. In my teens, I borrowed it from my best friend DT, with whom I spent many an afternoon sitting on the floor, surrounded by books, reading poetry to each other. After a while, we discovered that the copy was nowhere to be found, so after rather a lot of sulking from DT I bought him another copy. A while later, I visited my aunt's London flat and lo and behold, there were two copies on her bookshelf. She must have seen it in our house, assumed it was her copy, and quietly snaffled it. I took charge of one of those copies, and as they were equally battered, never knew whether it was DT's or Aunty D's originally. A few months ago, this copy ended up being given to my friend S, so it has now gone from London to Edinburgh to Aviemore and possibly visited Jerusalem along the way. I bought myself another copy second-hand, and occasionally wonder what its history is. I should also get another copy of The World's Wife, since my former director of studies snaffled mine.

Anyway, Duffy is a poet who's sharp, witty, sexy without being syrupy, able to do marvellous things with mythology, ditto for gender, and is very good at making you think. Read her.

* Incidentally, is she?

O frabjous day!

Friday, 1 May 2009 11:48 am
elettaria: (18th century mullet)
Carol Ann Duffy made Poet Laureate!

They turned her down last time because, and I quote but by now can't remember from where, they didn't think middle England could cope with having a lesbian mother as poet laureate. The BBC gracefully skirts this thorny issue by neglecting to mention that she's queer at all. I'm not that bothered, it's probably better than having a headline saying "First gay person as Poet Laureate!"* Heavens only knows that we all got sick enough of the media suddenly getting the urge to inform us in every single article just after the US election that Obama was going to be the first black US President, as if that were now his defining feature.

Going back to Duffy, I suspect another reason why she was passed over a decade ago is because her poetry is sometimes quite disturbing, all the more so because she's damn good at writing effectively. There was a row when one of her poems was cut from the GCSE syllabus over fears of teenagers being unable to understand irony knife crime (good response here and Duffy's response here). Maybe this shows a move away from the trend of sugar-coating literature-for-the-masses, where they try to pretend that the last thing poetry is about is sex or violence? Or maybe it's like the policy I reckon they follow for the Booker Prize, where good authors such as Atwood and McEwan get repeatedly turned down for their greatest works, then awarded the prize for a distinctly lesser novel out of sheer embarrassment?

Duffy's Selected Poems is a book that's had quite a run for its money in my household. In my teens, I borrowed it from my best friend DT, with whom I spent many an afternoon sitting on the floor, surrounded by books, reading poetry to each other. After a while, we discovered that the copy was nowhere to be found, so after rather a lot of sulking from DT I bought him another copy. A while later, I visited my aunt's London flat and lo and behold, there were two copies on her bookshelf. She must have seen it in our house, assumed it was her copy, and quietly snaffled it. I took charge of one of those copies, and as they were equally battered, never knew whether it was DT's or Aunty D's originally. A few months ago, this copy ended up being given to my friend S, so it has now gone from London to Edinburgh to Aviemore and possibly visited Jerusalem along the way. I bought myself another copy second-hand, and occasionally wonder what its history is. I should also get another copy of The World's Wife, since my former director of studies snaffled mine.

Anyway, Duffy is a poet who's sharp, witty, sexy without being syrupy, able to do marvellous things with mythology, ditto for gender, and is very good at making you think. Read her.

* Incidentally, is she?

The Amazon fuss

Monday, 13 April 2009 05:54 pm
elettaria: (Gay penguins)
A number of people have suggested that the problem with Amazon effectively censoring the advertising of LGBT texts is due to trolling, rather than a deliberate practice on Amazon's part. It does sound like it was started by a group of fundamentalist nutters, but don't assume that everybody working at every organisation involving books is a nice friendly liberal. I've made complaints because Calibre, a charity which provides an audiobook service for the visually impaired, flags some of its books with a warning that they contain "homosexual scenes" or "homosexual practices". I'm not even talking about books with sexual content. I complained about this a while ago, and the vague excuses that I was sent in response ended up in my junk mail folder. So before I realised they'd replied, I rang and got a man who told me hotly that these warnings were there for a good reason, because people ought to be warned about such things. It looks like Calibre has removed most of the warnings since then, but not all of them. I was too disgusted to use their service after that, I gave in and now fork out £50 per year for the RNIB audiobook service, which has a much bigger library, better facilities, no homophobia, and the worst you can say is that its cataloguing is a little strange (Measure for Measure appears in the children's section, for instance). I was too ill just then to kick up a fuss beyond this point, especially since it involved the uphill struggle of explaining what was offensive to people who didn't even begin to understand the connotations of the terminology they'd used. If anyone wants to make some complaints, or better still raise the issue with an LGBT group such as Stonewall, be my guest.

ETA: The issue hits the BBC, who reveal that someone has owned up to causing it all here, though according to this chap it's a fake confession.

The Amazon fuss

Monday, 13 April 2009 05:54 pm
elettaria: (Gay penguins)
A number of people have suggested that the problem with Amazon effectively censoring the advertising of LGBT texts is due to trolling, rather than a deliberate practice on Amazon's part. It does sound like it was started by a group of fundamentalist nutters, but don't assume that everybody working at every organisation involving books is a nice friendly liberal. I've made complaints because Calibre, a charity which provides an audiobook service for the visually impaired, flags some of its books with a warning that they contain "homosexual scenes" or "homosexual practices". I'm not even talking about books with sexual content. I complained about this a while ago, and the vague excuses that I was sent in response ended up in my junk mail folder. So before I realised they'd replied, I rang and got a man who told me hotly that these warnings were there for a good reason, because people ought to be warned about such things. It looks like Calibre has removed most of the warnings since then, but not all of them. I was too disgusted to use their service after that, I gave in and now fork out £50 per year for the RNIB audiobook service, which has a much bigger library, better facilities, no homophobia, and the worst you can say is that its cataloguing is a little strange (Measure for Measure appears in the children's section, for instance). I was too ill just then to kick up a fuss beyond this point, especially since it involved the uphill struggle of explaining what was offensive to people who didn't even begin to understand the connotations of the terminology they'd used. If anyone wants to make some complaints, or better still raise the issue with an LGBT group such as Stonewall, be my guest.

ETA: The issue hits the BBC, who reveal that someone has owned up to causing it all here, though according to this chap it's a fake confession.

Bravo for Argentina!

Saturday, 7 March 2009 10:37 am
elettaria: (Misha non-non-penguin)
You may have heard about this rather extraordinary Argentinian bank advert, where an elderly man apologises to a transwoman for treating her badly. I first read about it in [livejournal.com profile] compilerbitch's impassioned post, from her perspective as a transwoman. I'm still a bit too stunned to know what to say to her, so I'll get back to that.

Then [livejournal.com profile] poisoninjest linked to this discussion of the ad, which is from a place closer to my own, so I think I'll start with that. I'm not a member of blogspot so I can't respond there, and anyway I find that I have quite a lot to say about it by now.

In that post, KaterTot says, "the bank then shamelessly self-promotes for being so progressive". Well, of course it does. It's an ad. Read more... )

Bravo for Argentina!

Saturday, 7 March 2009 10:37 am
elettaria: (Misha non-non-penguin)
You may have heard about this rather extraordinary Argentinian bank advert, where an elderly man apologises to a transwoman for treating her badly. I first read about it in [livejournal.com profile] compilerbitch's impassioned post, from her perspective as a transwoman. I'm still a bit too stunned to know what to say to her, so I'll get back to that.

Then [livejournal.com profile] poisoninjest linked to this discussion of the ad, which is from a place closer to my own, so I think I'll start with that. I'm not a member of blogspot so I can't respond there, and anyway I find that I have quite a lot to say about it by now.

In that post, KaterTot says, "the bank then shamelessly self-promotes for being so progressive". Well, of course it does. It's an ad. Read more... )
elettaria: (Lobstrosity)
D and I, who are televisionless and staying that way, have discovered that you can watch reasonable-quality episodes of Doctor Who on BBC iPlay for a week after they air. So last night we watched the Christmas special, with the intention of watching the first episode of Season 4 in the next few days.

I know that the quality of Doctor Who has been steadily declining over the past couple of seasons, but this was quite excruciatingly bad. Could some merciful person tell us whether the first episode of Season 4 is as bad? If not, how bad is it? We thought that Season 3, with the exception of a couple of episodes, was generally dire, although we're glad to hear that they've stopped having idiotic love interest plots for Season 4 (mind you, that redheaded woman was dead annoying in the episode we saw her in before, though I still maintain that there was a certain amount of promise there).

Also, any thoughts on who would make an ideal Doctor, who would make an ideal companion, and what sort of relationship between them would work best? We've only seen half a dozen episodes of the older Doctor Who (The Genesis of the Daleks), but so far we are voting for Christopher Eccleston of the ones we've seen. D says Teh Internets has suggested Tilda Swinton as the Doctor, and this sounds good to both of us. Not sure about the companion, but definitely not the spunky-yet-vulnerable-young-woman-who-pines-after-the-Doctor model. Personally I reckon Tennant (who's just a bit too *nice* for the part) should get a lesbian companion who pulls more than he does. Of course, they'd have to feed them decent plots and scripts. Even Swinton or Eccleston couldn't pull off some of those toe-curlingly awful lines. (My toes really were curling in horror last night. OK, I have curly toes to begin with, but they went those extra few millimetres.)

Randomly: has anyone worked out what a solidophile is yet?
elettaria: (Lobstrosity)
D and I, who are televisionless and staying that way, have discovered that you can watch reasonable-quality episodes of Doctor Who on BBC iPlay for a week after they air. So last night we watched the Christmas special, with the intention of watching the first episode of Season 4 in the next few days.

I know that the quality of Doctor Who has been steadily declining over the past couple of seasons, but this was quite excruciatingly bad. Could some merciful person tell us whether the first episode of Season 4 is as bad? If not, how bad is it? We thought that Season 3, with the exception of a couple of episodes, was generally dire, although we're glad to hear that they've stopped having idiotic love interest plots for Season 4 (mind you, that redheaded woman was dead annoying in the episode we saw her in before, though I still maintain that there was a certain amount of promise there).

Also, any thoughts on who would make an ideal Doctor, who would make an ideal companion, and what sort of relationship between them would work best? We've only seen half a dozen episodes of the older Doctor Who (The Genesis of the Daleks), but so far we are voting for Christopher Eccleston of the ones we've seen. D says Teh Internets has suggested Tilda Swinton as the Doctor, and this sounds good to both of us. Not sure about the companion, but definitely not the spunky-yet-vulnerable-young-woman-who-pines-after-the-Doctor model. Personally I reckon Tennant (who's just a bit too *nice* for the part) should get a lesbian companion who pulls more than he does. Of course, they'd have to feed them decent plots and scripts. Even Swinton or Eccleston couldn't pull off some of those toe-curlingly awful lines. (My toes really were curling in horror last night. OK, I have curly toes to begin with, but they went those extra few millimetres.)

Randomly: has anyone worked out what a solidophile is yet?
elettaria: (Triffid geranium)
1. [livejournal.com profile] ghost_of_a_flea and I are getting addicted to stuffed peppers. My usual recipe involves rice, sautéed onion, vegemince, bit of tomato, and various different seasonings (last time there were raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and spices that focused heavily on the cinnamon side of things). For those of you who don't know how to stuff peppers, you cook up the filling, slice the top off the pepper as a lid, cut away the seeds, stem and so on, shove the filling inside, plonk the lid on, and stand them in a pyrex dish with about 1/2" water round them, proceeding to bake them in the oven for 20 min or until the peppers are starting to blacken nicely. Any recipe ideas for variations? What other veg are happy to be stuffed? I haven't stuffed an aubergine in years, although I recall it as being a bit more hassle.

2. I had a chap come to the door the other week doing a market research survey on attitudes towards environmentalism in the home. I answered various questions about recycling, light bulbs and solar panels (yep, very likely in a 170 year old B-listed building, where I don't even live on the top floor), and then he came to the question, "Do you think there are too many foreigners in the UK?" Has anybody got a clue what that question was doing in there?

3. My local library directed me towards Calibre, a free audiobook postal lending service for people with sight problems or other disabilities which make it difficult for them to read. This is very cool. You have to tick a box to confirm that you are happy to receive X-rated books, which means anything that mentions the existence of sex at all, as far as I can tell. I mean, I, Claudius is listed as X-rated. And the novels don't even have Patrick Stewart strutting around being a sexy sadist. (No, really, he was hot in the miniseries, and also looked surprisingly like a younger Richard Gere.) Also I've caught them putting phrases like "Homosexual practices" in the book descriptions, which is raising my hackles. It sounds worryingly like a warning.

4. Does anyone know how I could find out what this plant is, so that I may look at other photos of it and turn it into a quilt design?
elettaria: (Triffid geranium)
1. [livejournal.com profile] ghost_of_a_flea and I are getting addicted to stuffed peppers. My usual recipe involves rice, sautéed onion, vegemince, bit of tomato, and various different seasonings (last time there were raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and spices that focused heavily on the cinnamon side of things). For those of you who don't know how to stuff peppers, you cook up the filling, slice the top off the pepper as a lid, cut away the seeds, stem and so on, shove the filling inside, plonk the lid on, and stand them in a pyrex dish with about 1/2" water round them, proceeding to bake them in the oven for 20 min or until the peppers are starting to blacken nicely. Any recipe ideas for variations? What other veg are happy to be stuffed? I haven't stuffed an aubergine in years, although I recall it as being a bit more hassle.

2. I had a chap come to the door the other week doing a market research survey on attitudes towards environmentalism in the home. I answered various questions about recycling, light bulbs and solar panels (yep, very likely in a 170 year old B-listed building, where I don't even live on the top floor), and then he came to the question, "Do you think there are too many foreigners in the UK?" Has anybody got a clue what that question was doing in there?

3. My local library directed me towards Calibre, a free audiobook postal lending service for people with sight problems or other disabilities which make it difficult for them to read. This is very cool. You have to tick a box to confirm that you are happy to receive X-rated books, which means anything that mentions the existence of sex at all, as far as I can tell. I mean, I, Claudius is listed as X-rated. And the novels don't even have Patrick Stewart strutting around being a sexy sadist. (No, really, he was hot in the miniseries, and also looked surprisingly like a younger Richard Gere.) Also I've caught them putting phrases like "Homosexual practices" in the book descriptions, which is raising my hackles. It sounds worryingly like a warning.

4. Does anyone know how I could find out what this plant is, so that I may look at other photos of it and turn it into a quilt design?
elettaria: (Default)
Review of Alan Bray's new book The Friend

With gleeful thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kitmarlowe for pointing this out in [livejournal.com profile] earlymodern.

I am so delighted to see that queer theory is finally growing out of simply looking for sex or genitalia in texts, and looking at actual relationships. If the library don't get this book in soon, I will...I will...I will do such things - What they are, yet I know not; but they shall be the terrors of the earth.
elettaria: (Default)
Review of Alan Bray's new book The Friend

With gleeful thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kitmarlowe for pointing this out in [livejournal.com profile] earlymodern.

I am so delighted to see that queer theory is finally growing out of simply looking for sex or genitalia in texts, and looking at actual relationships. If the library don't get this book in soon, I will...I will...I will do such things - What they are, yet I know not; but they shall be the terrors of the earth.

Resolution

Friday, 15 April 2005 05:51 pm
elettaria: (Default)
I will not read Billy Budd until I have finished Vanity Fair.
I will not read Billy Budd until I have finished Vanity Fair.
I will not read Billy Budd until I have finished Vanity Fair.

The library was shut by the time I'd dropped into JW's office to natter about the use of Beethoven in Forster and just about everything else, but on the way back I nipped into the bookshop formerly known as MacFeely's and found a copy of the Melville. It's scribbled on, but for 50p who cares. I acquired Sedgwick's The Epistemology of the Closet earlier this afternoon since it was being quoted every other page in Queering the Pitch, and she turns out to have an entire chapter on it, so between that and my interest in the Britten opera, it was high time. I wonder if it'll be as screamingly queer as I expect? Closets in the nineteenth century seem to be very strange affairs, just look at Ben Hur. Here's what's on the back of this edition:

Spoiler ahead - don't blame me, blame Penguin Popular Classics )

Resolution

Friday, 15 April 2005 05:51 pm
elettaria: (Default)
I will not read Billy Budd until I have finished Vanity Fair.
I will not read Billy Budd until I have finished Vanity Fair.
I will not read Billy Budd until I have finished Vanity Fair.

The library was shut by the time I'd dropped into JW's office to natter about the use of Beethoven in Forster and just about everything else, but on the way back I nipped into the bookshop formerly known as MacFeely's and found a copy of the Melville. It's scribbled on, but for 50p who cares. I acquired Sedgwick's The Epistemology of the Closet earlier this afternoon since it was being quoted every other page in Queering the Pitch, and she turns out to have an entire chapter on it, so between that and my interest in the Britten opera, it was high time. I wonder if it'll be as screamingly queer as I expect? Closets in the nineteenth century seem to be very strange affairs, just look at Ben Hur. Here's what's on the back of this edition:

Spoiler ahead - don't blame me, blame Penguin Popular Classics )
elettaria: (Default)
In this case, Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. It is sad to announce that queer musicology is in its infancy, and rather puzzling too, since, let's face it, the music world is positively swarming with gay men. So this book is rather a mixed bag, but it's very exciting and provided a tremendous amount of food for thought.

So, the epiphany )
elettaria: (Default)
In this case, Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. It is sad to announce that queer musicology is in its infancy, and rather puzzling too, since, let's face it, the music world is positively swarming with gay men. So this book is rather a mixed bag, but it's very exciting and provided a tremendous amount of food for thought.

So, the epiphany )

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