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PERHAPS WE LEARNED SOMETHING.....
…Perhaps we were only mildly entertained. Regardless, please enjoy these Reviews, Responses, Works of Fiction, and Retellings brought to you by one who hopes to someday join the ranks of those who have written something worth reading.
(Kaylia Metcalfe)


Also, don't forget to visit Kaylia's Official Website where you can get information about Kaylia's upcoming events, and learn more about her free lance writing and other publications.

Ummmm....WHAT?

Ok, so the headline got my attention:

There Is No Hell Fire; Adam & Eve Not Real – Pope Francis Exposes

Of course I clicked on the link. Of course I clicked on the linl! How do you NOT click onthat link?

And this is what I saw:



Ok, I get that sites want clicks to turn into cash... I get the whole "let's put ads into our stories!"

But... really? The placement had to be right there?

Yikes.

I totally forgot what I was about to read because it took me a few seconds to get that this picture wasn't related to the headline.

It wasn't.

Of course, the story was fake. Damn you news satire pages and your "CLICK ME" headlines..... 

I'm a sucker, just like everyone else. 



Buried Rant

I am in process of cleaning out my computer hard drive.

Which means I am weeding through old things and deleting them etc.

And I found what was supposed to be a blog post that should have been posted in July.

Of 2009.

Heh.

And, yeah, it isn't really relavant anymore, but it was a tad funny.

So.

Better late than never, right?

 ***

Oh look, it’s July.

Time to celebrate with patriotism and barbecues and such.

I am a big fan of our Federal Government… yeah they aren’t perfect, but I am pretty happy to be living here and not, say… Iran.  Or Honduras

And this isn’t liberal spin either… despite my sever dislike for our former president or his father before him, I don’t ever forget how freakin’ good we have it here.

And yet… like any system, any group of parts working together… the blessed federal Government can sometimes have it’s head up where the sun refuses to shine.
 
Take for example a letter I received in the mail on June 29th.


Hey lazy lay-about degenerate member of society,
You owe us money! Apparently you didn’t pay your taxes… so we are fining you, and billing you, and you better pay or else!


Ok, it wasn't quite that bad… but it did pretty much accuse me of not paying my taxes and had added a bit of a fine onto the amount that they believe I owed.

A few things,

I paid my taxes.
I paid my taxes electronically on April 8th.
I paid my taxes via Turbo Tax, and I have the Turbo Tax print out and a copy of my bank statement to prove it.

So I call the IRS up and ask what they’re smoking.

After dealing with the delightful bureaucracy and the oh-so-nauseating Hold Music, I am at last told that all I actually owe is Two Dollars and Forty-Three Cents.

Why?

Because, they tell me, you incurred a fee for not paying on time.

But… I did pay on time… I indicate the proof…. That they received my payment on April 8th.

Oh, I am told… we’re sorry, that bill got sent to you by mistake…. It must have crossed in the mail with your payment.

Crossed in the mail? Are you kidding me? How in the world, I demand, does that make any sense when I paid you electronically in April, and you sent me a bill in June?

Oh, well, maybe those aren’t the right words.  Regardless, don’t worry, you don’t owe anything. Have a nice day.

Click.


My federal government at work.

Sigh.

When Gravity Fails



When Gravity Fails
George Alec Effinger





I read this book because it was recommended to me by someone who said “Hey, this book is really cool. It treats the idea of gender and transgender in a really cool way.”

If you don’t know, I am very active in the local LGBT community and so this piqued my interest.

And yes, the book does indeed treat gender in a way vastly different than is typically done in society and fiction: it makes it totally moot.

In this futuristic world, one can change one’s gender easily (for a price to be sure) and there is very very little stigma attached. Of course, this world also features personality cartridges that one clips in and out of one’s head. The idea of interchangeable personality traits, whole personalities, and also gender is so commonplace that it is just background noise to the “free lance PI investigates a series of murders and gets in over his head” story line.

That story, by the way, is engaging and full of nuance. It is classic hard boiled but it has a dash of color and flair not found in classic noir stories. The main character, Marid, is both totally believable and easy to root for. The twists are good twists, the fem fatal is done extremely well, and the mystery unravels as a good and steady pace.

Set in an Arabic ghetto, some readers might have trouble with the names and local language, but I found the fact that this wasn’t a New York based detective story a nice change of pace. I loved the way that Effinger handled world building… both with broad strokes and with little details that helped one get more than a sense of things, you really felt that this was a real place full of complex and dynamic real people. The quirks and futuristic flourishes didn’t feel forced or there for shock or shtick value.

I won’t go too far into the plot because I would love for each and every one of you who read this blog to go out and read this book. Suffice it to say, I highly recommend it… and not just because of its treatment of gender politics, but for the story it tells and the phenomenal way in which it tells it.


Accepting My Writer Self

So a lot of people will tell you that you should just write… that you should make it a regular thing, that putting pen to paper or fingers to keys is a good thing… that waiting for the muse of creativity is a waste of time.

I have been told this almost my entire life.  I have heard authors talk about the importance to writing to stay in practice, of the importance of just writing, of letting a whole bunch of potential junk flow out of you and that sometimes what you write will be golden.

I would like to say politely, “Bull.”

Ok fine… maybe that was a bit harsh.  But my point is that for some people, yes, writing consistently and just for the point of writing can be helpful.  Enough people swear to this that it must work.  HOWEVER, not all of us operate in this way.  When I force myself to write… when I simply sit down and say: I am going to write X number of pages or I am going to write for X period of time, do you know what happens? I write… sometimes I write a lot… but I don’t write well.

In fact, I think I write like crap. 

No, this isn’t a pity post.  I know that sometimes I am able to cobble together a story or a rant or a few sentences that fit together, that flow, that make people laugh or think or smile or email me (thank you for the emails) or at any rate feel…. But I have learned a few things over the years of writing.

I have learned that sometimes short and sweet is best.

I have learned that sometimes it’s okay to be long, to take a while to get where we are going.

I have learned that I work best when I can write in one long uninterrupted moment.

I have learned that when I plan, I don’t write as well.

I have learned that when I write for the sake of writing, I don’t write as well.

I have learned that when I try too hard, I don’t write as well.

I have learned that drinking can both help and hinder my narrative flow.

I have learned that it is easier for me to write when I am being carried away by an extreme emotion.

So, maybe I am not a classic sort of writer.  For sure, I am not an author and what works for me isn’t what will work for others… but vice versa is also true.

I need my muse.

Things I have learned.

You know those things you learn and then you relearn and then you are reminded of?

Yeah, those.

Or rather… let’s call this a list of things I am trying to accept.

I am going to accept the fact that my hair won’t stay red. Or blondish red. It prefers to be a mix of brown with the occasional glint of blond and the very very random occurrence of a few strands of auburn that seem to do nothing more than to get me moderately excited for a few seconds.

I am going to accept the fact that I am not good at the whole keeping the house clean. I just don’t care enough. Sure, I want to tidy up before guests. And I usually do so. But not always. Sometimes people just get to see the clutter. I do the dishes. I even sweep and occasionally vacuum. But dusting seems to be beyond my attention span.

I am going to accept that watching TV is now one of my hobbies. Well, I say TV, but you all know I mean Hulu and Netflix right? I like watching stories. I like the narrative structure of the hour long drama. I am not so wild about sitcoms but there are a few out there that I enjoy. I am not going to feel guilty for this hobby. I have plenty of intellectual pursuits to balance myself out.

I am going to accept that I will probably never be 135 pounds again. 140 is also looking a bit fantasy. Can I be okay with that? My clothes seem to fit. I eat okay. I work out. I am not fat. So…. I guess I am getting used to the idea of a different medium weight. It bothers me, but I honestly don’t know why.


I am going to accept that I am not the kind of writer I want to be. At least not right now. And knowing that means I can work on being a better writer instead of feeling ashamed for not being perfect. 


Brokeback Mountain On Stage Brings the Story to Life Yet Again.
Kaylia Metcalfe


It started out as a short story.

At only approximately 30 pages in its paperback form, it was written by Annie Proulx and originally published by The New Yorker in the fall of 1997 and then reprinted later as part of a collection.

It won prizes, prizes that mean a lot in the literary world but not always much outside that sphere. Which means, it was known, but not popular.

And then in 2005 it was adapted to a film… a film that broke boundaries, that turned the mainstream media and pop culture on its ear with its depictions of gay cowboys, notably a homophobic gay cowboy played by a pretty boy straight actor.



Of course the movie was controversial, but great art often is. At its core, it is a love story with a tragic ending and characters who will haunt you for years to come.

The film adaptation was done, in part, by the author herself who fleshed out he characters and gave more space to a few side characters. This expansion of the story was important… it needed to happen in order to be movie-big. Having Proulx be a part of the adaptation kept the film true to the intent of the original.

The movie was a critical as well as a commercial success. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was honored with Best Picture and Best Director accolades from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Golden Globe Awards, Producers Guild of America, Critics Choice Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards among many other organizations and festivals.

Closer to home, it was nominated for eight Academy Awards, the most nominations at the 78th Academy Awards, where it won three: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. The film was widely considered to be a front runner for the Academy Award for Best Picture, but lost to Crash.

Brokeback Mountain, an unapologetic LGBT love story ranks 12th among the highest-grossing romance films of all time.



Now, 17 years after The New Yorker and 9 years after the movie, the story of Jack and Ennis is being adapted again… this time for the stage. But it isn’t a big splashy musical, it is an opera.

Which is fitting. Opera is grand. It is sweeping arias and epic crescendos of music. It is, by its very essence, larger than life. The already expanded story has been expanded yet again, giving more character development to the two wives and Proulx herself wrote the libretto (text of the opera) saying, "For me it was wonderful to have the space. The opera has much more room for exposition and character growth. The story enlarged and gained a layer of depth."

Gerard Mortier and the New York City Opera commissioned Charles Wuorinen, an American composer, to turn the story into a work for the operatic stage. It was completed in 2012, but the premiere was postponed after New York City Opera's General Director, Gerard Mortier, resigned. The project was then again taken up by Mortier at the Teatro Real in Madrid where it premiered last month.

"The story is fraught, and has the kind of immediacy that makes it ideally suited for an operatic treatment.” Wuorinen says, “ It's not an ideological piece ... It's just a piece about a universal human problem which doesn't get resolved,"



The reaction to the new medium has been mixed, but one this is for sure. We haven't seen the last of Brokeback Mountain. 

Scary Switch-a-roo

From Huff Post

I have to admit that this made me very uncomfortable.

Wolf-whistles, "hey baby" and "keep smiling honey!" are the types of things you'd expect to hear directed at a woman walking down the street. But what would the world look like if gender roles were reversed? A new short film seeks to answer that question -- and the result is chilling.

"Oppressed Majority," a short film by French actress and director Éléonore Pourriat, depicts a world where women and men have switched places.


I won't give away what happens, it is worth the 11 minutes to see it for yourselg.

Anyone watching this short film will be struck at how "wrong" it all seems. So why do we stand for it in everyday life?

The Book of Jonah



The Book of Jonah
Joshua Max Feldman



The Amazon description is as follows:

The modern-day Jonah at the center of Joshua Max Feldman’s brilliantly conceived retelling of the book of Jonah is a young Manhattan lawyer named Jonah Jacobstein. He’s a lucky man: healthy and handsome, with two beautiful women ready to spend the rest of their lives with him and an enormously successful career that gets more promising by the minute. He’s celebrating a deal that will surely make him partner when a bizarre, unexpected biblical vision at a party changes everything. Hard as he tries to forget what he saw, this disturbing sign is only the first of many Jonah will witness, and before long his life is unrecognizable. Though this perhaps divine intervention will be responsible for more than one irreversible loss in Jonah’s life, it will also cross his path with that of Judith Bulbrook, an intense, breathtakingly intelligent woman who’s no stranger to loss herself. As this funny and bold novel moves to Amsterdam and then Las Vegas, Feldman examines the way we live now while asking an age-old question: How do you know if you’re chosen?



This is mostly accurate, but if you think this book is full of Christian allegory or life lessons learned through connection to God or the divine, you would be wrong.

Instead, this is a book that attempts to tell two interwoven stories about two very different people who find something supernatural and healing when they find each other. Except that it doesn't.

What we have in a confused convoluted plot, the introduction of a second main character late in the game and then ignored, a check list of vices, and a picture of God as a cruel puppet master. I don’t think any of those things were intended.

The plot: Jonah gets a vision. It makes no sense to him. He tries to ignore it. He gets another and then another and then another.. but at no time is he given actual (or figurative) instructions by God. There is no “Go there, do this” there is just visions of death and nakedness. There is, in short, no context. How then should he act? He hasn't a clue. He attempts to become a slightly better person (breaking up with his mistress, coming clean to his fiance, alerting the media to the shady deal his law firm is making, etc. But he is still punish by more visions and confusion.

Enter Judith. She is written as a two dimensional foil… a sad lost person floating in the world with no purpose except that she exists and eventually becomes the object of Jonah’s quest.

In both the case of Jonah and Judith, the author seems to have an offensive check list of sins for his characters to partake in… I’m guessing to show us just how bad they really are before they get saved. Jonah is materialistic, cynical, an adulterer, likes his drugs and alcohol, and is the epitome of the greedy lawyer. Judith is an extreme intellectual who lacks ass social graces, is sexually manipulative, promiscuous –with both men and women-, cold, and sells out to work for an evil casino mogul by helping him buy up church land.

They finally meet and have a moment of connection but then Jonah gets another vision (this time with a sense of what he should do) but he runs away. She returns to her sheltered slightly hedonistic life and Jonah finally decides to do something vision related besides bail and he goes on an “epic” quest to find her. The last, maybe, twenty percent of the book is this quest.

He finds her. They talk.

And then… nothing. He goes into the desert and lays down to feel the sun on his face.

The end.

We have no idea what is going to happen next except that they will change their lives (we assume for the better) and they both feel… something… although that really isn’t shown.

I’m not sure when I have had a more disappointing end to a book, but I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. The whole thing is written as so introspective and verbose… chapter after chapter of exposition and very little movement in terms of consciousness or plot.

Frustrating to say the least.

And what makes this double hard is that Feldman is very talented at some very important part of story telling. He has a beautiful way with dialogue. His side characters are well described and totally believable. His has an almost uncanny way of setting a scene and giving the reader tactile signposts that illustrate more than the current action. And the story he was trying to tell had mounds of potential. It could have been powerful and life changing.

It just, wasn't.

Mommy Dearest


I’m an evil mommy.

I won’t let Ella adopt (as in bring inside) dirt cods. Rocks, yes. Dirt clods, no.

I won’t let her stick keys into electrical sockets. I just won’t.

Sometimes I have to pee. I don’t even ask to do that alone anymore, I have learned… but sometimes I need to sit down and do that.

I have hidden a few of her books that drive me nuts. I feel no remorse.

I washed her blanket. It apparently smells different (clean) and she is regarding it with distrust while crying.

I won’t let her climb into the dishwasher. I know it looks like fun. I know. And yet…

I won’t let her put pebbles into her mouth. Also crayons. Also cat liter.

I won’t let her tie ropes, ribbons, sashes, scarves, belts or anything else around her neck. Clearly she has a death wish fashion sense and I am stifling it.

Yep. Pure evil.

That’s me.

The adorable little face I can still say "no" to. 

The Facebook Friendship Test

Meeting new friends is hard.

Let me clarify, making new friends is hard... you can meet people all day long, but knowing if they are good friend material is something else altogether.

How do you know if you have the makings of an awesome friendship or if you would be better off as casual acquaintances... or if you should just fade quickly away?

Well, the time honored way is... time.

And that is all well and good, but there is another way to at least get a rough sense of a person.

Facebook.

In the past year I have friended people and then sat back and let them check out my profile.

The new neighbor
The new potential mom friend I met at Target
The cousin I haven't talked to in almost twenty years.

My profile, in case you can't guess is all

Gay Rights!
Writing!
Atheist!
Feminism!
My Baby Is Annoying and also Awesome'
GAY RIGHTS
Books

So... a pretty clear indication of who I am done in a more *graceful* and complete fashion than I could in one of those "summing up" sort of speeches.

Seeing if I am defriended quickly is an easy way to avoid false hope.

As is the look on people's faces when I give them my GCV business card. "You work for WHO?"

Oh well, better to be up front and no t waste anyone's time, right?

Right.

Making new friends is hard.



Coke... Misdirection Can Be a Beautiful Thing

So a lot of people are talking about Coke... but I don't think they are talking about the right thing in terms of Coke.



Having ignorant bigoted tools get up in arms for such a silly thing as having people sing a song about how awesome America is in a variety of languages is really a very clever way to do a few things.

Sneak in a gay family into a Super Bowl ad. (making history I might add).

Pivot the tables so that the liberal media and most progressive peoples who have been disapointed with Coke's continued sponsorship of the Russian Olympics can now be back in Coke's corner against those who are u in arms over the language thing.

Brilliant really.

Here's a bit more in depth coverage that I wrote for the GCV blog.

Tell me if you like my disclaimer.

Dis/Orient/Ed Comedy Interview

Occasionally I get to interview people (promoters, actors, etc) for local events here in Fresno.

Usually these interviews tend to be on the phone or by email so the text of them is long and interesting, but not super user friendly.

Today I did my first interview via google hangouts on air.

Which was fun!

And I realized too late that I need to have better lighting, and makeup so I don't look like a ghost.

Also, I should fix my mic so it doesn't pan to me everytime I scratch my nose.

But otherwise, it was a pretty nifty experience. Thanks to Jenny Yang for being my first test subject.... and for being patient when Ella decided that what we were doing was far more interesting than Curious George and joined us.

Jenny's show is this saturday here in Fresno:

Picture


(normally I would do these interviews while she is napping, but that wasn't possible today)

Anyway, if you want to see the interview, it is over on the GCV blog

Enjoy!


2014 Goals: Feb 1st Check In.

2014 Goals... Yeah, I guess I have a few:

Get out of debt.
Finish the novel.
Get funding for GCV.
Run a well organized house.
Lose weight and get healthy.

The question is.... what am I actually DOING to make those things happen?

As of Feb 1st.

Get Out of Debt:. ($12,200 aprox in credit card debt)
Matt and I reworked out budget. We will be paying off credit card debt this year. (Next year is for student loans). We WILL. It is a vow. A vow that means no birthday gifts for anyone (except Ella). Fewer day trips. Les eating out and trips to Panera (and getting less when we do go out.). It means braving the crowds to shop at WinCo. (shudder) It means no new clothes (except, of course for Ella who is growing like the dickens) It means finding ways to cut corners, to turn off the heater and to make every darn penny stretch as far as it can blooming go.

Finish the novel. (Part One: 16,661 words. Part Two: 5,617 words)
Word counts be praised. I am making progress and I am highly motivated to finish. I have two designated writing nights a week (one for GCV and related LGBT stuff, the other for FICTION ONLY). Matthew is being very supportive, but it comes down to me. It comes down to me making the choice to work on the novel instead of watching Glee (a show I don't like anyway) or playing Candy Crush on my phone. It comes down to me staying up a bit later and letting Ella watch an extra episode of George every so often so I can keep writing. Mark my word count, this will happen.

Get funding for GCV (Current Monthly Donors: 4. Promised to be monthly donors: another 2)
Hey you, yeah you... want to donate to a very worthy cause? Click here and consider donating. Even $10 a month can make a HUGE difference. In the meantime I will continue to try to fundraise and find grants and bum spare change off people. Because it matters.

Run a well organized house (Status: The living room / dining room is looking pretty ok)
Yeaaahhhhh.... this one is hard. But do-able. I need to redo the bathrooms. I need to redo the kitchen. (In terms of where things live) And then I need to Stay On Top Of Putting Things Away. Sigh.

Lose weight and be healthy. (Weight: 158. Endurance: blarg. Pants: in the 8 to 10 size range.)
I am actively working on this one too. Work out DVDs, increased motivation by the warmer weather, a new and improved work out space in the living room by moving some furniture.... I GOT this. And this dress is part of the "what I get when I get there" prize package. 

So, here we are. Feb 1st. And this is my progress report. 

I plan to check in on the first of each month. I want to keep myself honest. I want to keep these things in the forefront of my mind.

I want to succeed and dammit I can.