Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Check-In

It's been a fairly nice week. I had an awful lot of work to do, all of the work I didn't do while I was on vacation, and wasn't really able to get caught up on it as I was constantly spinning around helping other staff members...we have some new staff, and staff sitting in different places, and somehow or another I got appointed the IT Guy. We have a designated IT Guy, but he's an outside contractor to whom you have to send a help-ticket email and then wait for him to come by or fix your programs remotely; it's so much easier to call me, I'm right upstairs and am completely unable to say "no" to people. One staff member, who transferred to us from another site, had one problem after another with her computer for three days solid... just about drove me nuts.

But then we ended the week with a great party, a pot-luck and games gathering that was just really nice, getting to relax with coworkers and not have to do any clienty-type stuff with them, just unwind and chat.

And I made the most fantastic peach cobbler, EVAH! It's Grandmother's old Easy Cobbler recipe, with some minor changes that put it right over the top. Want the recipe?

Grandmother's Easy Peach Cobbler

• 1 cup flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup milk
• 1.5 tsps baking powder (not soda)
• 0.25 tsps salt.

• Large can (24 oz) sliced peaches in heavy syrup
• 2 cups sugar
• 1.5 cubes of butter
• Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.

Preheat oven to 350°; put butter in a 9"x13" glass baking dish and place in warming oven to melt. Pour out peaches and syrup into a small saucepan; stir in one cup of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Let simmer while making batter.

In a pitcher, mix dry ingredients and then stir in milk. Stir but don't beat with whisk until smooth. Pour batter evenly over melted butter, careful not to let the batter touch the bottom or sides. Spoon peaches and syrup onto batter until covered. Sprinkle 1 cup sugar on top, then dust liberally with cinnamon.

Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Serve with warm milk. You can use this recipe with three cups of any kind of canned fruit in syrup. To use fresh fruit, cover 3 cups fruit with water in a small saucepan, add two cups of sugar to make a syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste, and simmer until fruit is soft (I've never tried this, though...why go to all that effort when you can just open a can?)

Robert's Unbelievably Fantastic Variation
• Use smaller (18 oz) can of freestone peaches and add one large sliced fresh freestone peach.
• Use half-&-half instead of milk.
• Add generous dashes of ground ginger and dried orange peel to peach mixture.
• Share with friends and family (harder to do than you'd think).

So, anyway, that was my little foray into the domestic arts, and it got rave reviews. I came very close to eating the whole thing by myself, it was that good. But anyway, let's get on with the business at hand:


My mood continues quite nicely; I didn't miss a dose of Seroquel or Wellbutrin all week. The Seroquel does make me awfully sleepy, though... I wonder if this effect is something I will get used to and eventually not notice? I mean, I don't feel stupid, or tired, or wobbly, I just feel this incredible desire to lie down and take a nap. I could probably get used to that, though I might actually have to go somewhere and lie down sometimes if this continues. The effect of being short-tempered, and having to exercise extra caution around saying inappropriately bitter things to people, has continued but has become more manageable.

There have been no other side-effects, no extra weight-gain, no sexual dysfuntion (though since I have only myself to please, this really doesn't matter... though I have noticed that it takes longer for me to orgasm now than it did when I was on lithium... it seemed then that just as I was starting to enjoy myself, it was all over; sessions last longer with the Seroquel. And you know, every time I change meds, my orgasms get better. I don't know if they just feel different, and different is always better, but they just keep getting better and better all the time. [/TMI]). I have to go get a blood draw sometime, I'll probably do it next Saturday if I remember, to make sure my glucose levels are still OK.


I didn't go to the gym all week, again. I was just too sleepy at the end of the day, the very thought of climbing up on a treadmill nearly made me weep. And I didn't stick too closely to my diet, particularly during the pot-luck; but I somehow managed to lose four pounds anyway... I am 226 as of this morning.


For those who were sitting on the edges of their seats after my last post, I decided to not pursue my desire to communicate with either my cousin or my Grandmother... well, "decide" is such a strong word... really, I just ran out of the necessary energy to continue giving a shit. I wore myself out with the argument to the point that I don't feel like arguing with anyone; but I feel like I've worked out the pain and confusion. It's just one of those things that I may get around to or I may not. I don't care right now.

And for those who were wondering if I'd ever get a copy of the picture taken of me at Grand Ducal Coronation a couple of weekends ago, I did! And although it's not a full-length as I'd hoped (the gown was worth a full-length shot) I really like it! Though I think that wig is too big for my head, and I need to get rid of that little ball of fat under my arm. Wanna see?

And that's what's going on with me just now. I am going to go find some nice eye-candy for you, Picture Post to follow. And then I'm going to play my new game, Nightfall Mysteries: Asylum Conspiracies (I loved the previous Nightfall Mysteries game, Curse of the Opera... it was dark and creepy and delightful and ingenious; I hope to enjoy this one as well).


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Letter to My Cousin

Following on the issue I discussed in my last post, I sat down and wrote a letter to my cousin, trying to decide while I wrote whether it was worth sending. I decided, after reading my first draft, that it wasn't... it was too strident, too much outrage leaked through; I cleaned it up a little, but it still feels wrong to send it... I have a gut feeling that it would cause more trouble than it could possibly resolve.

But I should consider showing it to Grandmother. I was also inspired to order a book that I've long thought about getting, Daniel Helminiak's What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, which I hope will give me some talking points... or which I might even inveigle her to read.

In the meantime, even if I don't send it or give it to Grandmother, it's a pretty lucid and elegant hunk of writing, if I do say so myself; so I set it down here for you (and posterity):

I struggled a great deal with my need to communicate with you on this topic: on the one hand, I feel that there is something to be learned on both sides; on the other hand, I am reluctant to risk any hostility with family, with people I love and respect.

When you told us you belong to Focus on the Family, I was very shocked and hurt. I know that FotF does a lot of good among Christian families with counseling services, but they also do a lot of harm in the world with their stances and activities against gay people. And I believe that this harm outweighs what good they might do, much as the corruption of the Catholic Church outweighs by far any good that it does in its schools and hospitals and community services.

I don't mean to engage in a dispute over whether or not homosexual behavior is a sin; I don't believe it is, but neither do I believe in the incorruptible veracity of the Bible (in fact, I believe that Christ spoke against blind adherence to legalistic scriptures in place of truth revealed in a direct relationship with God) so my arguments there will probably not hold much water with one who does believe in it. However, I was raised in the Church of Christ, so I do know the Bible.

I know that there are a lot of sins in this life, some so easy to commit that you almost don't notice them (lying, gossiping), some so grave that everyone of every culture will agree that they are wrong (theft, murder). Homosexual behavior, as a sin, is somewhere in between these; and I really do think, if it were as grave an offense to God as many people seem to believe, that Jesus would have been directly quoted on the topic, rather than only Paul, that it would have been mentioned more throughout both Testaments, perhaps even been a Commandment.

Perhaps fewer people are likely to commit the sin, thus the fewer mentions; but can it really be worse than adultery, fornication, and other sexual sins? Can it be worse than blasphemy, idolatry, or dishonoring one's parents?

Now, I suppose any Christian would say that adultery and fornication are sinful, yet there is no movement of much size or strength aimed at stopping them or illegalizing them. Jesus is quoted in two Gospels as stating that divorce is wrong, and that to remarry is adultery (Matthew 19, Mark 10); but I don't see any massive Christian movements to overturn divorce laws and forbid remarriage. Many Christians divorce, and a great many of those remarry, and don't seem to think a thing of it; I know several remarried divorcees in our own family who are still considered good Christians.

I believe that some people focus on the sin of homosexuality, and imagine that it is worse than other sins, because it is a sin that they themselves aren't particularly interested in committing. It makes them feel better about the sins they do commit.

Further, I challenge anyone to find a passage in the Bible that states a homosexual orientation is a choice. It does not mention sexual orientations at all, in fact...the behavior, yes, but not the motive. No language of the ancient world had a word for such a thing (the word "homosexual" wasn't even invented until the late 19th century; nobody had ever before considered the motive behind the behavior)... just as they did not have words for cellular mitosis, or neutrons, or photosynthesis. It simply wasn't understood at the time; but that doesn't make it any less real, then or now.

I don't challenge your belief in God, but I challenge your belief in what some people say God wills. When people turn to Leviticus to underline homosexual sin, but in practice ignore pretty much everything else in the book (tattoos, shaving, bearing grudges, etc.), I have to wonder why they focus on only that one sin. I have to wonder why people use those passages to say that God hates homosexuality, but don't seem too bothered about His hatred of cross-breeding livestock or seeing various relatives naked.

While Paul disparaged homosexual behavior in three of the Epistles, he also condemned clinging to Old Testament laws when they cause dissent and turn people away from the Faith. And, as a matter of fact, Paul directed Christians to embrace complete celibacy, and only to marry if they were unable to contain their lust. No sex was called good, it was an animal desire that would take you away from God; but we do not condemn people or call them sick or confused when they cannot refrain from heterosexual activity.

The entire tenor of Biblical attitudes toward sex is that it is purely for procreation and not for our pleasure; yet modern Christian attitudes have leaned toward thinking of sex as something that is perfectly all right, so long as it is within marriage... second and third marriages included, with or without the possibility of procreation.

In Focus on the Family's position on homosexuality, it claims that "Sexuality is a glorious gift from God -- meant to be offered back to Him either in marriage for procreation, union and mutual delight or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ"; but I can find no scriptural basis for this attitude of "union and mutual delight": it is modern revisionism.

I challenge the belief that homosexuality is a choice. I ask you: did you have a choice? Did you wonder one day, "Should I be homosexual or heterosexual?" and decide then that heterosexuality was the right choice? Do you know of anyone who made such a choice? So why do you think
I had a choice?

Why would anyone think I chose to be part of a reviled and abused minority? Do they suppose I woke up one day and thought that being gay, sacrificing family relationships and losing my religion and exposing myself to the hatred of others, was more
fun than being straight?

Do they think I didn't pray to God to take this burden away from me?

I believe that God always answers our prayers; and that many times His answer is "no." Millions of gays have prayed for God to make them straight, and He did not. Is it because we didn't have sufficient faith, not any of us? Or was it because God wants us this way,
made us this way, for reasons of His own which we cannot understand?

Millions of us have lost our faith and turned from Christ because we were told by our church leaders and our Christian families that God hates us because of what we know in our hearts that we inescapably and unalterably
are. Millions of us have attempted or committed suicide because we were made to believe we were evil. Do you really think that's what God wants?

Whatever you think of homosexuality as a sin, please understand that none of us chose to be gay, any more than you chose not to be. We only chose to embrace what we are rather than hide it. We chose to seek love rather than deny ourselves that comfort forever. Perhaps that makes us sinners, but then everyone is a sinner. Only Christ was without sin.

Please understand that, despite what some people want to believe, homosexuality is an innate and unalterable state: if it were not so, the world would be filled with people who have stopped being gay, people who can testify and prove that God changed them from what they were into something else.

You might find a handful of such claimants, but I doubt their statements would hold up under independent examination. Even Exodus International, the largest and most profitable ex-gay organization in the world, only claims a 1% success rate, and cannot actually
produce that 1% for examination by a professional or a panel of disinterested parties. No one has ever put forth a stable and observable group of exclusively homosexually-oriented people who became exclusively heterosexually-oriented.

You might find some who have managed to embrace celibacy, some who have managed to develop a latent heterosexual desire, some who have managed to sublimate their desires and act differently; but the
nature is still there, fought against as our natural desires are always fought against when we believe them sinful. Homosexual desires can be suppressed and sublimated by will and faith just as heterosexual desires are; but they don't change, they don't go away.

So why do people insist on believing that we can change if we want, when millions of us have wanted it and tried so hard, but
could not change?

I don't understand why people will believe something that can be so easily disproved, why someone would cling to what
one psychologist says when thousands of other psychologists say the exact opposite. Do you suppose the overwhelming majority of the psychiatric and medical organizations in the Western world were just buckling under to political pressure, as Dobson says? Political pressure brought to bear by whom? The two percent of the population who are willing to admit that they are gay? That hardly seems likely.

And it's not just numbers that make something right, not just a majority
opinion that has created medical and psychiatric policies toward homosexuality: there are studies, thousands of studies, covering decades of meticulous research, that show homosexual orientations are innate and unalterable, and that such orientations are perfectly healthy; we may not know what causes homosexuality, any more than we know what causes a number of observable phenomena, only that it's there and there's nothing inherently wrong with it.

There are no studies, no physical research, no proof either scientific or judicial to show that homosexuality is chosen and changeable: only beliefs and feelings and interpretations of scripture.

If it was about you, your health and your mind, whose statements would you believe? A doctor with the results of scientific research at his fingertips, or a faith healer with beliefs and scriptures?

I notice that people are perfectly happy to believe in science when it gives them light and warmth and medicine; but when it challenges something they thought to be true, which isn't about them and does not give them anything they want for themselves, they say that science and its methods are wrong. Why would you think that extending your life by means of science is good, but that the scientific explanation for anything that you don't already believe is just a lie?

I really don't understand these things. I hope that you can enlighten me.

And I hope you can believe that I mean all of this in love. I do love you very much, I see your faith and your kindness and your good heart; and so I feel it my duty to understand you, even if I can't agree with you. I hope that you can give me the same consideration.
So, what do you think? Worthy of publication? Some of the guys at JUB, when I shared the first draft of the letter, encouraged me to find some very public place to post it, for others to use as talking points or just for their own reference. I can't think where it should go, but I will certainly be considering that possibility.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

To Speak Out, or Not to Speak Out...

I am and have always been very adamant about the importance of being Out to one's family, indeed to be Out to everybody one knows with any degree of intimacy. I think it's important not only to the advancement of gay rights but also to one's own self-respect.

But, shameful as this is, I myself am not entirely out, at least not to my entire family beyond the second degree of kinship. And right now, having just spent a few days with some of the extended family to whom I have never explicitly come out, it's really fucking with my self-respect to let this sin of omission continue.

As you probably know, I live with my Grandmother. She's very old and very set in her ways; and though she accepts and loves me as I am, it is despite the fact that I'm gay rather than including the fact that I'm gay. This has long been a sore spot in our relationship, and one that I would never advise someone else to put up with: but it is overpowered by all of the good in our relationship, so though I have a problem with her attitude towards homosexuality, I have balanced it against how many times she has literally saved my life, and chosen to accept it. I don't pretend I'm not gay, she doesn't pretend she accepts my homosexuality, and we simply don't talk about it.

But part of our "not talking about it" has come to entail my not talking about it to other people in front of her, or to people I know through her... such as people at her church and, more importantly, her immense clan of nieces and nephews and their descendants, some 150 people in three generations, most of whom I know personally. And I don't really hide the fact that I'm gay from any of these people, but neither do I say or do anything that would advertise or even just confirm it. And though this makes me feel like a hypocrite, I place it under the aegis of my love and need for Grandmother and let it slide.

This week I took Grandmother to visit some of her relatives... her niece Joann and nephew-in-law Nolan up in Redding, and her nieces Clarice and Jessica in Folsom. And I have to tell you, these are some of the nicest people you will ever come across: loving, happy, kind-hearted people who are just uplifting to be around.

But they are also conservative Christians... almost all of them. And not just lip-service Christians, but really involved Christians who read Christian literature and keep pray-for lists on their refrigerators next to the grocery list and have Jesus portraits on their walls, who serve as elders and ministers and missionaries in their churches (almost invariably Church of Christ, the same as Grandmother... not to be confused with United Church of Christ).

And worse, many of them have been duped by neoconservative media into espousing the radical right agenda of demonizing liberals, illegal immigrants, and gays. When I was at Joann and Nolan's house, I was glancing over their bookshelves, and there amongst the Concordances and Christian how-to's was Glenn Beck's Arguing With Idiots. And I nearly got into an argument with Clarice about the new immigration-enforcement law in Arizona.

I have a really hard time understanding how such kind people can subscribe to the bile spewed by people like Beck and Limbaugh and to a lesser extent O'Reilly... I suppose we all have our weaknesses, our little spiritual uglinesses, but it rather shocks me to hear it from people I love and admire, people who are otherwise so positive and kind.

And it got me to thinking, as I often find myself thinking when in the bosom of my Grandmother's family: how would they treat me if they really knew anything about me, if they knew from my own lips that I am gay? Would they still hug me and say how glad they are to see me and praise me for taking care of Grandmother so thoughtfully? Would they even allow me into their homes, around their children and grandchildren? Would they try to poison Grandmother against me, or respect Grandmother less for harboring me?

Tell the truth, I'd really rather not find out. And I really wouldn't want to risk hurting Grandmother by finding out: her family is incredibly important to her. I can just convince myself that they don't really buy into all of the things that the neocon haters say, that they aren't attracted to the Hate itself... they just feel reassured that there are people in the world who still supposedly believe in Christianity and traditional moral values.

But on the second leg of the trip, at Clarice's house in Folsom, we were joined by Jessica (who lives nearby in Placerville) for dinner. And during the course of conversation, Jessica told the story of how James Dobson of Focus on the Family had been duped into appearing on The Phil Donohue Show with the promise that he'd get to tell his side of the debate on corporal punishment for children (he's for it, of course), but was completely and very carefully crucified by the directors and Donohue himself... which actually inspired him to turn Focus on the Family into a media venture.

I knew about that episode, in fact the allowance for personal slant in the media and the problems that it causes is one of my hobby-horses; I agree that Dobson was treated badly and that Donohue should have had better sense than to skew the audience's reaction to his own personal values to such an extreme extent. But during this conversation, Jessica told us quite proudly that she is a member of Focus on the Family!

Now, I know that Focus on the Family does other work, Christian counseling on family issues being their raison d'être, and that this is what initially attracted Jessica to their group; but there is a reason that they are most commonly known as an antigay hate group: their position that homosexuality is a sinful and changeable state has been their most publicized position, and their work to supress gay rights their most visible activity.

That someone I know and love actually belongs to such an organization was devastating. I wasn't willing to get into an argument then and there, not in front of Grandmother and not spur-of-the-moment where I would be sure to say something irreparable in anger, and hear something irreparable said in anger (I had only bothered arguing the immigration law because it's not emotionally important to me), so I just went to bed and let them go on with their visit.

And as appalled as I was, I couldn't be surprised... as I sat and stewed on the situation, I remembered my aunt Judy telling me that Jessica was passing around pamphlets to do with some kind of Ex-Gay ministry at a family gathering a couple of years ago, thinking how tacky it was of her to do something like that at all but even worse to do it in front of me.

Of course, Jessica doesn't know I'm gay. She, like most of the people who believe as she apparently does, probably doesn't think she knows any gay people, that there are no gay people in her own family or community.

I have been stewing on this ever since... and the thing that really gets in my craw is that I feel like a coward and a hypocrite for letting something like this slide without doing something, or at least saying something. These people are running through life thinking that gays are some Other, something distant from them, unrelated, not quite human. They don't realize that we're all around them, in their families and their churches... and they don't realize that they're hurting us, even killing us, with their ignorance.

So my choice is this: writing to Jessica and entering into correspondence with her, using loving tones that will hopefully not instigate hostilities — that is the action toward which I am currently leaning, which has been advised by good friends to whom I've appealed for advice — but I'm not sure how to go about doing that, how to say what I need to say without attacking her beliefs; but I've also been advised to leave it alone for now, at least during Grandmother's lifetime, the threat of a shitstorm being more likely than the possibility of enlightenment, the likelihood of Grandmother being made unhappy so much greater than the likelihood of her relatives' understanding and learning — and so what good would be achieved?

What would you do?

Picture Post: That Face!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Check-In

So I've been on vacation all week, and the last few days out of town with the Grandmother, visiting her relatives in various distant corners of the state (Redding and Folsom, specifically). I had a lot of other plans about what I was going to do during this week: I was going to work on cleaning my room, I was going to install the new turtle tank for Claudius, and during the sojourn out of town I was going to work on the novel.

None of those things happened. I managed Grandmother's treat, but I was so tired after last weekend's ado that I spent Monday and Tuesday in bed; I actually made my room messier trying to find my credit cards (which I never use) so I could rent a car to take on the trip on Wednesday; Claudius's new tank is still sitting in the living room, empty; and while I was away I didn't have the opportunity to work on Worst Luck because I was too occupied visiting with people... to wander off on my own and bury myself in my laptop would have been rude.

I ate a lot, I drove a lot, I slept badly on strange beds, and I sat listening to people talk about things without being able to say much of anything for rear of upsetting Grandmother by appearing in a "bad light" to her nieces and nephews. But Grandmother loved it so much, it was worth all the discomfort and upset and lost sleep and gained weight.


I'm at the full dose of the Seroquel, and I can't tell if it's just reaction to the weariness that inspired this vacation in the first place, and then having to drive for hours, or if it's the Seroquel, but I have been unnaturally tired all this week. Hopefully it will get better, I plan to start back on my exercise regimen Monday, and I expect that will help.

My mood, though, has been steady and pretty good. I felt terribly depressed this morning, and it lasted for much of the day. But I think it was mostly because of sleeping badly and getting too tired, but partly an emotional reaction to something that one of my cousins said when we were visiting... she said very proudly that she is a huge supporter of Focus on the Family, and I was so upset by that I had to leave the room. I just went to bed, so no scene was made, but it was horribly upsetting to know that someone I love supports a hate group like that.

She's otherwise one of the sweetest, kindest, most warm-hearted people you could ever meet, but she's been sucked into believing in this group because they pretend to espouse her beliefs in Christianity and traditional values. It's so sad, and so infuriating. And I couldn't say anything to anybody about it without making a scene that would hurt Grandmother, and I didn't have anyone else to talk to, so I just stewed on it.

Anyway, I'm considering writing a letter to this cousin to express my pain and anger with her support of an organization that works so hard against me and mine. But it might in the long run make more trouble than it would be worth... I have to think about it. In the meantime, I just have to hang on to the most positive attitudes and happy thoughts. My cousin's ignorance isn't worth making myself sick.


Of course I haven't been to the gym all week. I haven't even walked briskly across a room. Instead I've been laying around all day, eating massive dinners, sitting still in a car, shoving down hamburger lunches on the go... it's no wonder I gained all my recently-lost weight back, and then some: 230 on the scale this morning.

Well, one expects to backslide on vacation. I just have to motivate myself to work a little harder to get back on track, and get back where I was before ces petits vacances. It will all turn out right if I keep at it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Picture Post: Gender Bendy

In honor of the Royal Grand Ducal Council of Alameda County, and its new Monarchs Royal Grand Duke XIX Jim Hall and Royal Grand Duchess XIX Lady Cranberry, a little schmexy-fetishy gender-bending:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Check-In

I'm actually writing this on Monday morning, as this weekend was a little hectic and I didn't have the time-plus-energy matrix going for me. But I'm backdating the post to Saturday for the sake of feature continuity, so let's just pretend it's Saturday... I feel like it's Saturday, since I got to sleep in late this morning (I'm on vacation, y'know).


I'm now up to the full 75mg dose on the Seroquel, and the mood continues good... for the most part. I have been experiencing a great deal of lethargy ever since I passed the 50mg mark last week; but I think I am adjusting to it, if a bit slowly, and the lethargy was just a reaction that is passing off...I haven't felt the lethargy the last three days. I didn't miss a dose of my Wellbutrin this week, either, though I almost forgot my Saturday dose and didn't take it until mid-afternoon.

On Saturday I was at the Royal Grand Ducal Council Coronation, and I didn't get all fidgetty and anxious being around people as I frequently have in the recent past. I was bored, and disconnected, but not anxious about it. But on Sunday, I was incredibly sad all morning, almost suicidally depressed.

I have a feeling, though, that it was caused by my being bored and disconnected at the Coronation... I was so looking forward to it, and had spent a shitload of money — $240 for the gown, $135 for the wig, $140 for the gloves (you can't get real kidskin 25-inch opera gloves in my size over the counter), and $80 for the shoes... I already had my jewelry, in fact the whole outfit was planned around the necklace Caroline gave me for my Sobriety Birthday in May — and was very excited about how I'd look; but the event itself was a let-down, so it was natural I'd be sadly disappointed.

Even though I saw in the mirrors that I looked as great as I thought I would, despite careful planning I left my camera at home and couldn't take any pictures of how I looked; and then the Coronation was so unexciting, and I was feeling lonely because I'd arrived alone and didn't have anyone to hang out with, and I ended up talking to a number of rather unpleasant people during the course of the evening, politeness riveting me to their unpleasant conversations when I'd rather have fled.

And while a lot of people complimented me on the wig (which was utterly towering), nobody said anything about the dress or the gloves or the necklace... though I don't like to make myself a slave to other people's opinions, a few compliments on something you planned very carefully and spent a lot of money on makes you feel a lot better about the time and money spent on what is really a meaningless frivolity.

So I think Sunday was just a reaction, an overmagnified reaction perhaps, but not my brain-chemistry making up emotions I didn't really feel (as it used to do). Anyway, I felt better by that afternoon, so it turned out OK. And I did get my picture taken, by a professional even, I just haven't got copies yet; but to tide us over, you can see me in this wide shot — looking like a behemoth next to the petite (though technically average height for a barefoot man) Grand Duchess XVI Satine Fabrique — taken by Rich Stadtmiller during the crowning ceremony:

That's our new Royal Grand Duke XIX Jim Hall and Royal Grand Duchess XIX Lady Cranberry receiving the bling lids. Congratulations to them! I hope that my new medication will make it possible for me to take part in this XIXth Reign, as I was unable to do in the XVIIIth Reign. I miss feeling a part of something, and I think it was this being almost completely uninvolved all year (I only attended SF Imperial and Ducal Coronations with the Court, I didn't come to a single RGDC event of this reign except Investitures) that created my feeling of boredom and disconnection Saturday night.


I am conflating the two because there's nothing to report. I didn't go to the gym at all last week, I was too busy at work and didn't get out of the office before 6 any evening; I was prepping myself for a week's vacation by getting as caught-up on my work as I possibly could, and a little bit ahead wherever possible (that's the terrible trap of a week's vacation: you still have to do a week's worth of work, but before and after, rather than during, that week). The lethargy I mentioned earlier also contributed to this gym-delinquency, even when I had time to go, I felt so heavy I didn't think I could hoist myself onto a treadmill. But my weight did not change, it was still 224 on Saturday morning... okay, it was 224 point five, but a half a pound isn't enough to call it backsliding.

So until next week, à bientôt!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No Scheiße, Sherlock

I may have mentioned sometime or other in the archives that I never rent movies, I always buy them... one of my few truly consistent behaviors is to return things, be they library books or video rentals, at least a week late, incurring late fees that amount to more than the cost of the object in question.

Silver Screen Video, where I usually purchase previously-viewed DVDs for very low prices (I used to go to Blockbuster, too, until I discovered their sinister Mormon ownership), has this thing where you can buy multiple videos and get a discounted price... three Tier 1 videos (priced $7.95) or four Tier 2 videos (priced $5.95) for $20. It's only a savings of four dollars, but the goad of saving 20% has habituated me to always buying three Tier 1 and/or four Tier 2 videos every time I buy. And as a result, I often end up choosing videos to fill out my numbers that I wouldn't otherwise have considered.

This habit has landed me some utter turds of movies (like Mama Mia!...I mean, a musical? Meryl Streep and Christine Baranski and Colin Firth? Dominic Cooper with his shirt off? It should have been fabulous, but it made me want to open a vein)... complete wastes of plastic and Mylar and paper; but it has also yielded a few gems.

One such gem was the Guy Ritchie action thriller Sherlock Holmes, which Caroline and I watched on Saturday afternoon. I was rather set against this movie; judging from the previews, it looked like the kind of testosterone-driven schlockfest full of explosions and empty of plot that I generally abhor. And Jude Law looked dreadful, which I consider a crime against nature.

But I needed one more $7.95 video, and Caroline suggested either this or Public Enemies, which I was also not interested in seeing (over-glamorizing criminals bugs me)... so I went with the Sherlock Holmes, thinking I'd at least get the pleasure of pointing out all the historical and character inaccuracies that were bound to be in there. I'm a huge fan of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, and the Basil Rathbone movies, and the Jeremy Brett serial, so I'm a hard audience to please... still, a bad Sherlock can at least be torn apart and stomped on, which is its own kind of fun.

But I have to say, I was impressed. There was plenty of plot, and though I could not relate the characters in this movie to the Holmes and Watson of literature (just as one doesn't with Sherlock parodies like Without a Clue), I thought their characters were deep and well-rounded, the dialog precise and fluid, and the backstories well-illuminated without being brought into too close of focus; and though the fight scenes and explosions were rather more frequent and drawn-out than strictly necessary, they were ingeniously planned out and beautifully shot, so I ended up enjoying them.

The art-direction was absolutely luminous...the costumes and sets were a joy to the eyes and lent a depth of enjoyment that was at least equal to the writing and acting (I quite forgot Robert Downey Jr. is an American); the conceit of showing Holmes' thought-processes moments before showing him acting them out was quite interesting and entertaining. And the casting was superb, there wasn't anybody in there who rang false or wasn't interesting to look at.

The anachronisms were surprisingly few. Now, I could be wrong, but I think that Lord Blackwood, being a Peer of the Realm, would have been held at Westminster Palace rather than a common jail, to be tried by the House of Lords rather than the Old Bailey... but that would have knocked a big hole in the plot, so we can just chalk that up to artistic license; similarly, I don't believe the Home Secretary's office would have been in Westminster Palace, as depicted, but again it had to be there for the story to work. The one I am sure of was a restaurant scene where Sherlock was wearing an open shirt and cravat at dinner, which would never have been allowed in the caliber of restaurant that was depicted, celebrity sleuth or not... Victorian social mores were much stickier than that.

At any rate, it was a really good movie and I recommend it heartily if you find yourself sifting through the previously-viewed bins at your local video store (which of course is not a Blockbuster... it's very small-minded and vindictive of me, I'm sure; but ever since Prop 8, I count all Mormons as enemies until proven otherwise).