Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We Are Fine: Safe And Sound

We had a very serious fire in our studio...apartment. No neighbours were hurt. No pets were hurt. We are evacuated and staying in Stagg's late grandmothers house. We have food and shelter.

Visitors here may already know of this news...through Mister Anchovy or my sister...so I thought it would make sense to get to an internet cafe and make a quick blog post to let our friends and family know...we are okay. Stagg was very brave and we are beyond glad to be safe and sound and even more glad our neighbours are okay. The studio is totaled. The fire started a few seconds after 7 p.m. on Saturday and escalated within seconds. I had both the land line and my cell phone in my robe pockets which is a habit of mine when relaxing around the house. We would never have been able to phone 911 or our family during the fire if we didn''t have those hones on us...thats how quickly it progressed. I don't know what else to say. This was the scariest thing I've ever experienced and I've experienced some pretty scary things. Stagg ran up and down the inside apartments banging on doors and I ran up and down the fire escape banging on doors. Emergency response was there within two or three minutes and isolated the worse damage to three apartments. The worse thing was that our wonderful neighbour upstairs who is also an artist has two cats. He was not at home...I was sick until the firefighters told us they found the cats and locked them in the bedroom. I finally tracked down our neighbour at his workplace. I am a true believer in the worth of mobile phones. His cats went to the vet and only needed eye drops. I am so grateful to the firefighters...they were amazing. The Red Cross showed up too...and told us all kinds of things to help us like how to clean clothes after a fire with a product called "simple green" and they gave us an active debit card with 75 bucks. I am going to donate to the red cross asap.

The weather was exceptionally warm which was a godsend seeing as everyone was outside without coats. The fire was out within half an hour.

I made several phone calls that felt like the worse things to do that night. I called Staggs parents to tell them...and ask them if they could pick us up and let us stay with them. I felt horrible giving them such a terrible shock. I texted my daughter as the fire was going and I felt so terrible giving her such frightening news. Then calling our neighbour with the cats above us. I had to text my daughter to phone our relatives/friends in Canada because my cell phone was running out of batteries.

We have been able to go into the apartment all day yesterday and today to salvage what we could. We have salvaged most of our clothes and shoes. We have salvaged some of our cookware, some books, our passports, our marriage certificate, most of our dvds and cds. We do not know if the compouter or it's speakers and printer will work. I am letting them dry out till I take them into a techie next week.

We are staying at Stagg's late grandmothers house. Many of you will remember she passed away a few weeks ago. The family wanted to wait till te housing market shifts before putting it up for sale and so we have a very comfortable shelter. We've got groceries and stuff and are doing remarkably well considering.

Stagg can't "get over how great the red cross is to help everyone so quick and caring at all times. Stagg always sees the police, firefighters sirens yet fortunately he say he has never had to have their imediate care and attention and feels they are one of the best in the whole world (he is dictating as I type here in the internet cafe) Time heals all wounds he says and Stagg needs more time..."

We have had lots of support from friends and family...and the ones far away...I miss more than ever...

So in general...if you are someone we had an interview or appointment with this week and you haven't heard frm us...this is why. In particlar...if Danny is reading this...the phone number I have for you is not working...can you please call Jojo and tell him why Stagg missed his appointment?

The red cross said to try to keep as many appointments and plans going as possible...to help restore some kind of narmalacy...so we made interviews yeasterday...and I made a job interview today. We are juggling this with retrieving what we can from apartment.

I will check back next time I get online...and maybe post some pics...we'll see.

Much love to you dear visitor...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stephon, Hot Spots In NY

Away

It's not just a little frustrating to follow the Mayor election in Toronto from far away.

Toronto has become cheap and is becoming obsessed about taxes. Since when don't proud Canadians want to pay their dues and pay taxes. It's not rocket science...if you want wonderful city services and care taken we need to pay taxes. Only rich and upper middle class people bitch about paying taxes and it's so unbecoming.

The rest of us just pay our taxes and we use our parks, and waste management systems and enjoy the way the city feels and works.

I am completely disgusted by Rob Ford's mayor platform. This guy has some of the most backward and ridiculously insulting ideas for Toronto. One of his main platforms is "subways not streetcars" It's spectacular how stupid that slogan is...riding the College Strteet streetcar is one of life's biggest pleasures and it is so comfortable and easy to work your way across the city. The same goes for Queen St, Spadina and St. Clair. These streetcar lines are fantastic!

Smithereen says he's going to freeze property taxes. What is this some kind of monkeycrack statement? Freeze taxes on property? What a dickhead idea. And anyone who owns property and wants their taxes frozen should be ashamed of themselves for not having community oriented morals.

Taxes protect us from crime (do you really want to be mugged...welfare is so much better han being robbed). Taxes provide public benches for visiting each other outside. Taxes provide waste bins so the sidewalks don't get filthy. Taxes fix roads and potholes and bridges. Taxes pay for libraries. And emergency services. And firefighters. And retirement homes. And hospitals.

I'm afraid for Toronto. Ford and Smitereen seem just like that former selfish Mel Lastman. Instead...fingers crossed...

it's not rocket science...

Vote for libraries, EMS, TTC, service workers.

In other words, use your common sense, vote for taxes.

Related Links:

1) Denmark payes some of the highest taxes, believing in welfare.
2) Quality of Life index and Here
3) Small tax increase in Vegas credited with reducing some crime and creating more jobs:Gillespie said his department has added about 585 positions because of a quarter-cent sales tax increase in 2005 that was meant to hire new officers among the county's police departments. Henderson added 117 new positions while North Las Vegas added 73 positions because of the tax. The tax -- actually a half-cent when put before voters -- was split into two parts and Gillespie said he is going to lobby the Legislature next year to implement the second quarter-cent.
4) In Canada, "The municipal level of government is funded largely by property taxes on residential, industrial and commercial properties."
5) "Sweden, Turkey, France and Poland impose the biggest tax burdens on families, but in most of those countries families get added social services, such as secure pensions and health care.

Citizens in these other countries are paying more money, but they are getting more back, in terms of social programs, said Christopher Heady, head of tax policy for the Paris-based think tank Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. Its a choice the electorate makes. "

Friday, October 22, 2010

Walking It...And Compassion...

I found this through a family member's notes on their Facebook page (and the author also reprinted it on their other blog)...an insighful and beautiful piece of writing and thinking...

On October 20th, thousands of Americans wore purple as part of the campaign to show support for young people who are being bullied because they are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex. I am grateful to all of those who wore purple as a show of solidarity. Thank you for caring and for making this gesture of support. In the homophobic and transphobic cauldron of many American schools, large numbers of LGBTI teens are driven to despair, and some to its ultimate expression in suicide.



The Wear Purple Day campaign is affiliated with the “It Gets Better” project, in which adults record video messages to LGBTI teens to tell them that while they may despair now, they should keep hope alive, because life will get better when they get older. This too is a project that is well-intended, and I appreciate all the people who have made and contributed videos intending to support our youth.



But there is a problem with the framing of the “It Gets Better” project. Living with homophobia and transphobia does not magically disappear when one is handed a high school diploma. The title of the project implies that dealing with harassment and disrespect and violence is a phenomenon of childhood, as if “kids will be kids” and act immaturely, so we just need to wait it out and things will be fine. It focuses attention on the victim’s “not giving in” to mistreatment—which frames despair and depression as a sort of failure of the victim’s spirit, as weakness. (Notice that it is not a video campaign entitled, “Don’t Be a Jerk” aimed at homophobic, transphobic bullies.) It tells us to “be strong,” and we’ll be granted the prize of acceptance and respect when we grow up.

And that, I’m sorry to say, ain’t necessarily so.



There have been some dramatic incidents of anti-LGBTI violence against adults in the press of late. I think especially of the brutal homophobic beating and gang rape with baseball bats of three gay men in New York this month. These incidents are horrible and we must decry them. The thought of such hideous attacks keeps many LGBTI people living in fear. But to focus our attention on hyperviolent acts like this directs the public eye away from the more quotidian experience of disrespect and veiled threat that many of us live with every day. While the number of us who will be gang-sodomized, let us pray, is few, thousands upon thousands of us continue to face, as adults, the sort of sneering and bullying that are common in high schools. And we too suffer low self-esteem, depression, despair. It is this that I want to address.



For some of us, being LGBTI in America today is not that bad. Those who are white, and middle-class, and gender conforming, and live in major urban areas may feel pretty comfortable. Even those in this privileged group still have to deal with people nudging one another and tittering at times, with marriage prohibitions denying them benefits, and with the insecurity of never knowing when they’ll be treated with disrespect—at a parent-teacher conference, or at a tax-return preparation service, or at a gas station. Even the conventionally attractive, young, white, churchgoing, well-educated suburban homeowners among us, apparently iconic ideal Americans, are usually aware of being second-class citizens. To say that this group’s lives got better after high school may be true, but it’s sad for the definition of “the good life” to be, “Well, I haven’t been subject to constant fear of violence since high school.”



And that’s the privileged group.

Let us be honest. The LGBTI youth who are subject to the most bullying are the ones who are less privileged. A middle-class gay white male high school jock is likely to face less maltreatment than an androgynous, poor kid of color. If you are a feminine boy (no matter what your sexual orientation, in fact), you are at high risk of bullying. If you are out as trans gender, you are at high risk. If you are marginalized already because you have a visible disability, or you wear out-of-style secondhand clothing because you are poor, or you are one of the only kids of your race/ethnicity at your school, your risk of maltreatment is much higher. And sadly, this does not magically melt away when you graduate from high school.



I’ve been thinking about this a lot today because yesterday was not a good one for my family in terms of LGBTI mistreatment. So I’m going to share this story with you. My family is suburban and middle class and middle American. My spouse and I are white (though our kid isn’t), I’m employed as a professor, we own a house and we keep the lawn mowed. My spouse and I are both trans gender, but as a trans man married to a trans woman, we have privileges many trans folk dream of. Our lives are supposed to be in the “it got better” category. But we still live with daily trouble with antiLGBTI bias.



It was my spouse who suffered directly yesterday. She’s intersex by birth, was surgically assigned male as an infant, but knew by the time she was four that she did not identify with her sex assignment. Rather than reassigning her female, however, she was treated with years of "gender therapy" intended to change her gender identity to fit her sex of assignment. This involved requiring her to do a lot of pushups, play football, and be physically punished for crying and other "girly" behavior. The “treatment” did not change her gender identity, but it did make her childhood miserable. She was not able to begin to gender transition until she was a legal adult, and by that time, without medication to postpone pubertal changes from testosterone, her body had masculinized. Starting hormone therapy did not reverse changes such as her having grown to be 6’3” and broadshouldered. (Because she has uterine tissue, however, it did start her menstrual cycle, made awkward by the masculinizing genital surgery she had as a child.) As a result of her history, my spouse must live her life in a body that will forever be androgynous, and here where we live, in the supposedly polite Midwest, this means constant street harassment.

For those of us who are gender-transgressive in appearance, whether we have chosen to be visibly genderqueer or would like nothing better than to be able to be gendernormative, but must live with physical androgyny, harassment does not end in high school. Especially when we are read as androgynously male, we are the butt of endless jokes and the subject of constant hostile stares. All my spouse and I have to do is go to our local Midwestern Walmart, and it’s like the circus came to town. People stop, and stare, and shake their friends’ elbows, and point. Sometimes there’s a supportive smile, and sometimes people pay us no mind at all, but we can never go without some people snickering and staring. Walking around in our suburb, my spouse has had to deal with parents yanking their children away from her as if she were about to abduct them on her afternoon constitutional. If she goes out walking at night to avoid these encounters, the police often curb crawl in a car behind her until she gives up and comes home. Going out to a restaurant we have to listen to people at the next table have an open conversation speculating on our genders and asking one another what’s wrong with people today. Every trip to a public bathroom exposes my spouse to danger of outrage or violence or police intervention, so she rarely ever uses one.



Gender transitioning has in some ways made our lives infinitely better than it was in high school. Living in a gender one does not identify with, with a body that gives one gender dysphoria, is terribly painful. But we are not now free from maltreatment and harassment, and my spouse suffers daily indignities. I’m androgynous too, but since I grew a beard I have more “passing privilege” and am usually read dyadically male, at least from the front. Also, I’m only 5’2”, and my spouse at 6’3” seems to trigger in young men out to prove their masculinity a lot more competitive transphobia.



But it’s not just individual harassment we have to deal with—it’s institutionalized transphobia. Yesterday, my spouse went to see her doctor to get her prescriptions refilled. It was not a good office visit. First, the receptionist loudly called her “Ma’am? Sir? Ma’am? Sir?” in front of the crowd of waiting patients. Of course, she was then subject to a sea of stares while she waited. And then the doctor refused to refill her prescription for estrogen, because her cholesterol was at 201, a point above the “normal” range. So my spouse has suddenly had the rug pulled out from under her medical therapy—medical therapy that is vital to her wellbeing.

I respect our doctor a lot, but she has never had a trans gender patient before (that she is aware of). Her reference point for estrogen therapy is menopausal women getting HRT. With them, denying a refill as a goad to lower cholesterol might be a nuisance, but that’s not the appropriate analogy. This is more like taking a person who was suicidal and is now doing better on antidepressants, and saying “I refuse to prescribe you any more antidepressants until you quit smoking.” But our doctor has had no training in dealing with caring for trans people, a failure of our medical schooling, and doesn’t understand how vital hormonal therapy is for a trans person. In a way, the doctor acknowledged that the issue was her lack of training. She said that she could not in good conscience continue to prescribe estrogen for my spouse, but that she’d give her a referral to see an endocrinologist with more expertise in hormone therapy.



The thing is, there is no endocrinologist our doctor knows of with training in dealing with trans people. There is no such endocrinologist in our health plan. Our health plan, in fact, refuses to pay for any trans gender care, and even though my spouse is intersex, and gets a menstrual period, they say she is “male” because that was what was put on her birth certificate—yet another example of the way we as LGBTI people are failed by institutions. There is no LGBTI health clinic in Wisconsin that can take over care. So, suddenly, we are caught without appropriate health care and a ten-day supply of estrogen left in which to fight to get access to someone who will treat my spouse with knowledge and respect. I’m staring at the number of the endocrinology office the nurse gave us. I asked the nurse if she could inquire if anyone there had ever treated a trans person, and she just sputtered uncomfortably and told me I could do that if I wanted to.



Would you want to be referred to a doctor who had never treated anyone like you, not knowing if that doctor in fact thought that people like you are “sick” and treating your condition a mistake? Not knowing if you would be sent home having been humiliated, with no treatment, and a large doctor’s bill your insurance plan refuses to cover? If as long as you didn’t get beaten up on the way home, would you say life is now good?

So, I wore purple on the 20th, and I extend appreciation to all the others around America who did as well. But I have this to say: if you really want to help out, don’t just send smiling messages that life for LGBTI folks is fine after high school. Teach your children to respect all gender expressions and sexual orientations. Speak out against the way we are maltreated by institutions. Confront people on the street when you see them harassing us. Challenge school officials and parents and police officers who do nothing to stop the harassment. Be our good neighbors. Demonstrate your respect for all of us—not just to middle class married gay white suburban couples with 2.3 dogs. When you see someone who is visibly LGBTI on the street, smile at us. Advocate for same-sex marriage, yes, but remember the “T” and the “I” and also advocate for an end to childhood sex assignment surgery on intersex infants, and for the respectful provision of medical care to trans folk. If you employer gives you health insurance, ask your HR department to negotiate for coverage of gender transition services. Take a step to ensure that life really does get better for your LGBTI fellow travelers. Please. . . wear purple, but do more than make a fashion statement.



Monday, October 18, 2010

Morning Mash-Ups





Good wake up exercise songs...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Party


We went to a great party last night, we even got swag bags, above, with a shot glass, a whiskey glass, and some male grooming products and a tasting coupon for a whiskey bar. Last week I posted a couple pictures of a store we were looking forward to opening in our neighbourhood and we went to their opening party last night. The owners of Isle Of Man really put on a terrific party last night. The mood of their store is a throwback of clothing and hobbies often associated with a certain kind of renegade guy. “It’s like Steve McQueen, Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Lauren having a yard sale,” says co-owner Brice Cooper (former host of HGTV’s Design on a Dime) of his and Arthur Holstein’s new North Center shop. Cooper and Holstein had dancing girls in their windows, and had catered a local company to make pulled pork sandwiches which guests could put together themselves in a large tent set up behind the storefront and in front of the garage. It's been a while since I entered a party where the atmosphere was so surprising and when we walked through the space it was a treat to find a tent set up with a dj and then continue walking to the alley way garage turned into a rustic pub. A dozen classic motorcycles made up the decor, a gorgeous 70's BMW, a Triumph, and a racing car out front. A pinball machine, a bartender making just Manhattan's and three women in a portable club car/brew pub set up outside the garage doors. Lots of fun and we landed up talking to a few people on the grass about movies, tv, writing and our conversation enlightened us about the reason why airplane food tastes bad (our nasal passages and taste buds are compromised by the pressurized cabin..I did not know that!) And the Wachowski's have a studio here right down the street from us. The weather was perfect and it was just such a lovely evening. Felt good to get out and one of the guys we landed up talking to a lot is a writer working on a novel and he was very very hilarious.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chemical Brothers New Album-Awesome!



Uh...Pirate...

Movie spoilers for The Social Network...although, it's kind of impossible to have a spoiler for this movie..

I have really been enjoying all the responses to the movie The Social Network. We saw it last week and then I was reading some of the reviews and blogs about the movie. I am quite impressed with how many different feelings there are about these characters. I landed up doing some reading online about Mark Zuckerberg to see if there was any possibility he had Asbergers Syndrome. I wanted to read more about Sean Parker too. Vanity Fair has an online blurb with Sean Parker and I recommend it...actually, the magazines online pages have all kinds of good stuff. (including awesome productin photos from The Empire Strikes Back)

Some audiences have been pretty pissed off with this movie saying it is misogynistic. Complaining that the portrayal of women was really bad. Others feel it is a tragedy because of the breakdown of friendships. Some people feel it's a rags to riches story. Others feel it's a nerd gets back at the world story. Others feel it's the portrayal of a genius artist who fights "the Establishment". Others feel that its a story about a world "Facebook" that they feel not a part of...so their curiousity was about trying to understand what a social network is...

Social networks manifest in all of the following...blogging...the Freemasons, chess clubs, bookclubs, the paintings in caves in Europe, the PTA, the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, subdivisions, universities, rural communities, unions, managers, rolodexes, telephone books, well...you get the drift. We are all in social networks.

In the movie, The Social Network, our hero is a very immature young man. We might want to note that he is 19. I think it's folly to put an old head on young shoulders...and why would you want to?

The creator of Facebook is fictionalized in the movie and portrayed as not very good with women. Actually, all of the male characters in the movie seem abysmal with women. They just don't have a clue. Gee...big surprise...especially in college. They do some rude, insensitive things and with some nasty payback to women. They can barely even talk to women. Gee, big surprise...sounds like most of the guys I knew in school. There were the few odd young men when I was in school who were cool to girls. Few and far between...and to be honest as a bartender for over twenty years...not much has changed.

As for the portrayal of women in the film...they are looking for boys that were hot, rich and partying...ready to have sex with these guys five minutes ago. Sounds pretty typical to me. Not all young women are like this but lots are. I thought the portrayal of these women was as realistic as these men.

Young people can be insenitive and inexperienced in human relationships. Gee what a news flash!

The sexual battles in this movie are part of it's charm and realistic portrayals.There is payback and there is karma.

The difficulties of human relationships and power struggles contrasted with constructing a highly democratic web log is part of the scripts accomplishment. We have layers of hierarchy in the real world...creating a social format that resists hierarchy by it's very design is what is brilliant about the internet...and Facebook. And Mark Z. Shit, this kid Mark Z maybe should get a Nobel Peace Prize!

I am part of the audience that sees the main character as difficult and socially inept...but a kind of hero.

You know, have you seen the pirate movies with Johnny Depp? They are a lot of fun. I love pirates and pirate movies. They could have called this movie "Pirates" or Hackers" but there are already two movies with those titles.

Instead the movie is titled life ...er... "the social network".

In one of the pirate movies with Johnny Depp... a character is angry and betrayed and says to Captain jack Sparrow "You lied" and Captain sparrow holds up his hands and says "Pirate".

Duh. What did you expect from a pirate?

One of the main conflicts in The Social Network is a few of the supporting characters are angry because the Mark Z character has ripped them off of their idea. So they sue him.

He has ripped them off of some of their ideas...ideas he was already interested in building I might add. But out of all the people these guys could have gone to...they chose to ask for help from a hacker. What did they expect...ha ha ha.

These guys are the privedged few in our society. They are rude and dismissive of the hacker and promise him they will help him hang out with the cool people.

If you've ever ben an underdog...a loser...you can imagine how offensive this notion of being initiated into some cabal could be. Tempting but insulting.

And from there our hacker hero proceeds to create a brilliant set of programs that connect people in a very rewarding way (it's so rewarding that 500 million people are on Facebook, it can be that much fun!)

Mark Z builds an organic feeling program imitating the sensation of hanging out with your friends. It's as if he has created a sort of artificial intelligence community where people can visit and it mimics the way people move through the world. it's really quite brilliant. And there is no way the privelegded snobs could do it themselves...at least not in a few weeks.

They are pissed off because this guy builds this network without them. Uh...pirate. They believed they could get him to build this community, let them get all the profits, and his payment would be an invite to a couple of parties, and a few bucks.

Mark Z says fuck that noise and goes ahead without them. He doesn't even seem to care about the money. For him it's about the creativity and imagination. He isn't just a hacker and pirate, he's an artist.

I've really enjoyed looking into who the real-life guy Mark Z might be. He was on Oprah a few weeks ago and gave a shitload of money to the schools in New Jersey. Interesting. i have felt a little sorry for him since seeing the movie.

I am really glad no one had a camera on me when I was a kid. I was not perfect as a teen. I wasn't as nasty as he was with his girlfriend, but I wasn't an angel either. I don't know many angels from that time period, or any of my friends or peers who were angels in high school or college or at 19. Mark Z made some massively rotten decisions when it came to people skills...but he wasn't much worse than many teens and young men when they were trying to find a way to fit into society or grow up. I don't condone his treatment of his girlfriend, but most people make a lot of mistakes in their social lives when they are growing up. Sure 20 years ago it wasn't recorded on an internet site...we might not have tweeted or blogged about our anger and left a permanent record of it...but when it comes to karma...we still know what mistakes we've made in our own hearts.

I'd like to believe that the real life Mark Z might have learned how to be a better boyfriend by now. I've seen it happen with lots and lots of people. Part of the "side effects" of social networks is learning through our experiences and trying to change our behaviour. I also hope he's learned how to be a better friend.

Why? Because I believe according to the fictional story portrayed in this movie...this guy is more than a hacker. He is a person who saw through the bs in some of our social networks and behaviour. He stuck it to "the establishment" and protected himself from people who think just because they have all the money and power they can take advantage of the less socially connected people in the world. He stuck it to the people who make all the money and don't share and they hire people as slaves. Mark Z stopped himself from being such a slave. I think there are a lot of positive lessons in the Social Network.

On one hand there are people out there who take advantage of social networks, making pyramid schemes or rising to a position of power. Mark Z cut through that very powerful negative side of the social network and he also created a program that cuts through that potential for hierarchy in social networks. I hope that he can find a way to be a better person with better karma. My impression is that he has already done so by making real life work environment with a mission statement protecting humanism. And hopefully he'll keep donating money.

It seems that there might be a generational reaction to The Social Network. Audiences seem to be divided by their age/experience in reacting to this fictional account of a pirate hacker artist. See New York Times regarding generational reactions.

From one pirate to another, I think Mark Z is a rebel and hero. I give props to anyone who can stick it to "the establishment" and I hope he can always stay one step ahead of that force. It is really hard to do as you get older...I hope age gives him compassion and doesn't make him bitter or powermad.

You can't put an old head on young shoulders...and why would you want to?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fighting...

I'm sending out a virtual hug to my friends mother...

I just got an email that my friends mother has lung cancer and has decided not to get treatment for it. She has also declined a biopsy to see what kind of cancer she has.

I absolutely adored my friends mother when I was 11, 12 and on as a teenager. Both my friends parents were from San Fransisco, schoolteachers, made fabulous bbq, and drank martini's and were, at least to me, super cool. They were also reasonable, relatively sane people, unlike my parents...so I thought they were fantastic. They used to have the best conversations at dinner time and the best food. I always stayed overnight at their place, with her 3 brothers and sisters at least once a week. My friend also would stay at my place at least once a week.


Her father passed away a number of years ago, and I am so sorry to hear of her mum's illness now...but was very inspired by her decision to not take treatment at this point in her life and age. I think she is very brave and has thought about the benefits of treatment versus her age and strength, and quality of life. Not easy to do.

Did you know that getting chemo has almost no statistical recovery advantage in most cancers?

It's true and was explored in Superfreakonomics. So, why do doctors prescribe so much treatment of cancer with chemo? One idea is that doctors can suffer depression by feeling helpless at treating their patients and the dialogue about chemo and following treatment helps them feel like they are still doing something. (of course there is probably a big-business angle to this too but not of interest to me at this moment)

Chemo helps only a few cancers, and only often by offering a couple of weeks...which doesn't take into account the discomfort of getting chemo, which can debilitate some patients lives for months.

Anyways here are some links about chemo and effectiveness:

1) Freakonomics blogging on healthcare issues
2) The Business Of Cancer
3) - Although the 5-year survival rate for all cancer patients has been shown to be 63 percent, barely 2 percent of survival is attributable to chemotherapy. For multiple myeloma, soft-tissue sarcoma, melanoma of the skin and cancers of the pancreas, uterus, prostate, bladder and kidney, chemotherapy had zero discernible effect. An argument for chemo: "chemo is hope"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Coolest Looking Rescue Victims In The World


Like lots of other people, I'm hooked to the tv watching the rescue of the Chilean miners today. They need to wear sunglasses since they've been in the dark for so many weeks as they come up a Navy rigged Supertunnel. I love it that Oakley eyewear has donated $450 sunglasses to the miners. They come above ground revved up and happy, thankful and looking very swish and Matrix-y. Apparently the adrenalin of rescue is giving them energy to stand up and be welcomed by their families. Probably, once they are taken to medical facilities the extent of their trauma will kick in. there is one guy i am especially interested in. He has two families. Man this guy is all swagger. He has his wife and mistress both trying to be at the rescue scene today. Should be interesting. I see an SNL sketch forming in my mind.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Surprise Opening Of The Simpsons!



You know, sometimes I can't believe I've been watching The Simpsons for over 20 years. And it just keeps on giving. Last weeks season 22 premiere had a "cameo" with Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook...coinciding with the opening weekend of The Social Network. Nice. Last night the program opened as usual...except it was made by Banksy! It's brilliant...notice Fox logo building is surrounded by barbed wire and scary lighting...

Apparently, Banksy working on the opening segment was a tight kept secret and the artist was inspired by rumours that the tv show outsourced its animators.

Polka-tech House(work)


Samin is the perfect musician to do housework to...unfortunately, this was the only Youtube video I could find but he is on Myspace if you want more more more!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two Years!


This weekend is our wedding anniversary and it feels so exciting to notice its been two years. I c an't believe it, it feels like it has gone by so fast. We've had some major challenges, like permanent residency, and major good times. We also have about a million things we want to do this next coming year. I am so so so happy to be married to the best guy in the world!!!!! Heart heart heart Stagg!!!!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

TV Keeping It Sexy


I was anticipating two new shows this season that I had medium high hopes for...Undercovers and Hawaii 50. Much like a revamped premise of Hart To Hart the new J.J. Abrams (LOST) program is a little too much like the old 80's married couple crime show. I was hoping for Undercovers to be a bit of "Mr and Mrs Smith metts 24". So far, the actors who play retired spies now running a catering company are perfect at delivering the Romance/harlequin vibe...but honestly, the action and banter isn't what I've been looking forward to. I'm not giving up on the show yet...J.J. Abrams has my attention for the rest of his career. ( I mean just for Cloverfeild alone, nevermind Alias and LOST) But...this married couple needs a blast of comedy writing and snappy dialogue at least. I was very surprised to notice that one of the producers is Elwood Reid. Reid was a hot young writer in the late 90's with a couple of books I really enjoyed ("Midnight Sun" and "What Salmon Know", and "D.B." I recommend them) and I gather his producer credits also reflect some writing work. I know he wrote some episodes of cold Case back in the day. This combination fo Reid and Abrams should be killer and I'll ride it out a little longer hoping the show is just warming up. I am impressed by the main actors though. They rock.

I can not tell you how bummed I was watching Law and Order with yummy Anthony Anderson and Jeremy Sisto and finding out that what I thought was just another episode of the show was it's finale. I was addicted to the show since 1999. So I was pleased to hear the producers have made a version in L.A. And it's not bad. Juicy location for riffs on Linsay Lohan inspired characters and decadent settings. I've two words why i love this version: Skeet Ulrich.

I really like angie Harmon, her character in Law and Order was so much fun, she reminded me of "Worf" on Star Trek...no matter what happens he was always saying "Kill them". And Harmon had that tough quality and sense of border justice. I tried watching another show she was in, but it fell flat, and it didn'ty get picked up. This new show of hers, Rizzoli and Isles has kept her character with a hard edge. She gets irritated, she dislikes anything mushy. Harmon is eprfect. It's a sort of "Cagney and Lacey" female buddy cop show and it's pretty good.


Hawaii 50 is my favourite new show I've watched so far. I love the casting and the writing has some good humour. The action is what is expected with room to grow (come on how about some wicked speed boats!) ... but they made a good choice by getting a good chemistry between the two main guys. Scott Caan really makes this program. Yep, he's the son of James Caan and he has fantastic attitude and comic timing. He reminds me of the first time I saw Bruce Willis in Moonlighting.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Sick Double Bill


I remember being pretty young when I first started hoping I wouldn't grow up to be a cynical person. Growing up seemed to kill peoples spirits I felt as a teenager. It ruined you to grow up. I always wondered if I'd be one of those people who resented young people and felt alienated from new movies casting new faces and new actors and talent. I am so so happy I didn't grow up to be bitter and cynical. I think it's one of the things I am most grateful for in life. I am happy to find that as actors and movie stars keep getting younger and I keep getting older...these actors still capture my imagination and heart. I think Shia Labeouf is one of the best new actors to come along. He holds so much emotion and expression in his eyes. The first time I saw a photo of him, I thought, wow, he's got a baby face, how can he play up against weathered solid actors. But he hasn't let me down at all. In fact, in many ways it was the massive range he has that carried a great new movie Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.

I'm a little crazy about Oliver Stone. He and Martin Scorcese seem to have a similar strenght...even their worst movies are hundreds of times better than other directors good movies. Oliver Stone has made some of the most beautiful looking movies and Wall Street 2 is another gorgeous looking movie. It's real estate porn. It is also surprisingly generous and subtle. I was expecting a really hard indictment of Wall Street CEOs but this movie seemed to be more about just letting us into their world, and it was satisfying. Michael Douglas is fantastic and has most of the really good lines...but my favourite part of this movie is when we see the meetings that arose right as the economy crashed two years ago. When all the bailouts were going on...I really was trying to imagine what the inner sanctums of the financial meetings "looked like". What did they say? What kind of rooms did they meet in? What were their justifications? ...Stone has recreated these scenarios in a couple of scenes in this movie and I felt they were really satisfying and fed my curiousity. The sets, the cinematography, the acting are as excellent as we have come to know from Oliver Stone and he's done it again, but without the re-enactments, without the dread of paranoia. I felt as if Stone had really found a way to utilize filmic opportunitites in ways that eclipsed his previous heavyhandnessness...Even though I love Stone, sometimes he was a little heavyhanded, even for me. This was really fine movie making.

I wrote here a few days that one of the people who influenced me was Robin Wood. Wood believed that patriarchy and capitalism corrupted relationships and Oliver Stone has demonstrated this argument outstandingly.


I think I've pretty much been in love with Michael Douglas my whole life from his early tv show and One Flew Over The Cucckoo's Nest to all his roles which have seemed to be parts that were written right out of all of our biggest contemporary news stories. Sexual harrasment, environmental and corporporate corruption, the rain forest, slef-help movements, human trafficing, border violence, terrorism, Douglas has starred in movies about all these hot topics.

Of special mention, the brilliant Eli Wallach is a joy on camera and steals the movie in so many ways.

Our double bill of movies had in common the theme that capitalism corrupts relationships. I'm glad I saw the Oliver Stone movie first because The Social Network is absolutely perfect and is blowing a lot of movies I've seen right out of the water.

If we had gone to see The Social Network early in the day, I might have been very tempted to turn around and watch it again. Everything about this movie was perfect, compelling and some of the best overall dialogue in a movie. Period. Not only was much of the story funny, but it also was very very sad. Director David Fincher has made another masterpiece and he is a god. I loved this movie, felt high when I left the theatre but also felt verklempt. every fear I had of being a teen and losing my soul when we "grow up" was exercised through these characters. The heartache and challenges of being young, of learning about friendship and life while being malicious and insensitive is played out in an uber-civilized environment. Somehow the movie made me care about each character and each characters perspective. I wanted to take sides, but always the charisma and earnestness of each actor drew me to feel compassion for each person.

One of the best things we see in this story is that a massive social misfit could create a social network at all. It's as if we are watching an alien from another planet try to understand what humans like and create a social setting for them. this is partly hilarious, and partly tragic. And all the way ironic. It actually may be that the innovative inventors total social bankruptsy might be why he could seem outside of our species and create something useful for us.

I felt like I was seeing "A Clockwork Orange" for the zeros.


I think Jesse Eisenberg should get an Oscar for this role...I thought he was fantastic and I hope he makes lots of movies in the future. Eisenberg's character reminded me of Rainman and Alex/Malcolm McDowell and Chancey Gardner. And I suspect that his character must have Autism spectrum disorder or it sure seemed to be something was profoundly missing from his skillset. I thought one of the telling moments was when eisenberg and his best friend get home and they both want a beer. His friend gets two bottles of beer out of the fridge. Eisenberg's character doesn't see him do this, he meanwhile goes to get beer too...he only gets one bottle of beer. Eisenberg's talent is making us feel his character isn't just some kind of selfish bastard, but rather a very unique person learning how to grow up.

Armie Hammer was really good. He was a surprise for me as he played twin brothers with some of the best lines in the movie. I wanted to not like these guys but this actor really brought me into their view of things and I felt a fair bit of compassion for their part in the story.


Both Wall Street 2 and The Social Network are layered with astute attention to details, in humans and in atmospheres, and they are driven by characters with sophisticated layering of visual poetry and pacing. Both movies are 10/10...but The Social Network is masterpiece.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mad World



At least four incidents of young men killing themselves after being bullied over their sexual orientation have been reported in the US in the last month.

The most recent death was of New Jersey student Tyler Clementi, who jumped from a bridge after his roommate allegedly taped him having sex with a man.

Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, New Jersey, and Molly W Wei of Princeton have been charged with invasion of privacy after they allegedly streamed the footage on the internet.

On September 23rd, 13-year-old Asher Brown, from Houston, Texas, shot himself in the head. His grieving parents said he had been persistently harassed by other students who thought he was gay.

Fifteen-year-old Billy Lucas, of Indiana, hanged himself on September 9th. Classmates said he had been bullied for years over his sexual orientation.

Another 13-year-old, Seth Walsh from Minnesota, died in hospital on Wednesday, eight days after attempting to hang himself from a tree. He is said to have endured taunts and abuse for being gay from other students.

It is unclear whether suicides for young gay men are up, or if there has been better reporting of their deaths. LGBT students are known to be at a higher suicide risk than their heterosexual peers.

No one is expected to be charged over the harassment which led to the deaths of the three younger boys.

In Seth's case, police found that no crime had been committed.

In Billy's case, a Facebook memorial set up for him was hit by more homophobic abuse, as well as apologies from some of the students who had harassed him.

Meanwhile, Asher's parents say they repeatedly complained to his school about the persecution but officials did not take the reports seriously.

One report claimed that Asher had come out to his stepfather on the morning of his death. The Houston Chronicle reported that the boy's stepfather accepted his declaration.

In another tragedy, 19-year-old Rhode Island student Raymond Chase hung himself on Wednesday. The student was openly gay but it is not clear whether he had been bullied.

The deaths have shocked America and lesbian chatshow host Ellen DeGeneres implored the country to take action and prevent further deaths.

Speaking on her daytime show yesterday, the presenter said: "Something must be done.

"This needs to be a wake up call to everyone that teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country, and the death rate is climbing.

"We have an obligation to change this."

On Clementi, whose body is thought to have been recovered from the Hudson River, she added: "He was outed as being gay on the Internet and he killed himself… One life lost in this senseless way is tragic."

New York-based gay rights group Empire State Pride Agenda said in a statement. “It is difficult to say if this is a trend, or if our society is becoming sensitive to this kind of story that we have heard far too often in the LGBT community.”

Judy Shepard, mother of the late Matthew Shepard who was killed a decade ago for being gay, called for schools to be made safer.

“Our young people deserve better than to go to schools where they are treated this way,” she said. “We have to make schools a safe place for our youth to prepare for their futures, not be confronted with threats, intimidation or routine disrespect.”

Forty-four US states have anti-bullying laws, but gay campaigners complain that many are not comprehensive enough and do not detail what bullying can involve.

Since Billy Lucas' death, Indiana legislators have promised to tighten laws to help prevent future tragedies.

From Pink News

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Where Would Steve McQueen Shop?


We've been eyeing a store that's been under construction for a few months and it's finally opened. The official opening of Isle Of Man is October 16, 11am–5pm. 3856 N Lincoln Ave (773-697-8035). This is the coolest store with all things GUY! You wanna get your man an awesome t-shirt or leather jacket, this is the place. We also loved that there was a massive "stag" motif among the clothes. I'm sneaking back there to get my Stagg some tees for our upcoming anniversary.






I love these classic red and plaid coats. In Canada we call them "Kelona dinner jackets". Here they might be "Indiana dinner jackets".



Monday, October 04, 2010

Busking



Thats me faking working hard. Seven paintings found new homes yesterday.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

2014 Bill And Ted?


This is very fun and funny, I love Herzog going to direct a sequel to Bill and Ted. And we all know how much i like me some Keanu.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Some Like It Androgynous


I believe gender is %99.9999 social construct. By that I mean it is all culturally created. I am willing to negotiate that a tiny bit of gender is differentiated by hormonal activity but not much. And I will also qualify that I am not saying social constructs are something to be taken as lightly and therefore aren't powerful forces upon behaviour. I think they are extremely powerful forces upon our perceptions of each other and prevent us from even believing that gender is a social construct.

The movie Some Like It Hot plays with the stereotypes of gender, and the mixture of popular culture, as jazz music, and it's comparison to sexuality. Some like it hot refers to jazz being "hot" and wild and that sex is also something that runs hot and cold. When we love hot we become whole and our selves better people.

How could a country who made a movie with some of the funniest and most endearing sexual personas and escapades also be the same country that is against marriage equality? One of my earliest posts here was about marriage equality, and it's a topic dear to my heart.

Isn't Tony Curtis gorgeous? One of the interesting things about Curtis's looks is the swirl of his hair and all the product he used enhancing his androgyny. Androgyny is a suspicious and desired quality in rock stars and actors. Some of the most popular stars have androgynous looks. Interestingly, that same kind of androgyny created an urban myth about Jamie Lee Curtis, his daughter. For decades there has been the urban myth that Jamie Lee Curtis was born with a penis. This sick, intolerant attitude towards homosexuals and sexuality maliciously applied to public figures who are often very very good looking has occurred to many women stars including Mae West, Greta Garbo then Grace Jones and today Lady Gaga. All of them had rumours during the height of their popularity as being hermaphrodites.

Several male actors have had rumours about them surface when they reach mainstream popularity. Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise and Richard Gere have all been the recipients of verbal hate crimes. All have been labeled as gay even so far as to suggest as in Tom Cruises case there is a massive conspiracy and his wives have been "beards" hired by movie studios to protect his box office clout. The most cruel urban myths have surrounded Richard Gere, claiming he had squirrels climb up his pants. The hatred towards gays is so cruel cultivating the idea that anyone would have sex with a gerbil is outrageous (no one has ever had any documentation of gerbil sex) Perpetrated to promote that gays are so depraved they would even do this...and when Richard Gere became very popular this gay defamation was applied to him.

Watching the delightful Some Like It Hot movie makes me really wonder how could this hatred and bigotry continue. I know people who so hate Brad Pitt, or Keanu Reeves, or Richard Gere they will avoid their movies or make big hissy fits about how they ruined such and such a movie. They even try to perpetrate that these guys are bad actors. I happen to be a big fan of Richard Gere, despite his being in the saccarin Pretty Woman. I love The Cotton Club, Days Of Heaven, I'm Not There, and Breathless. It's always been so strange to me how one ol' actor could garner so much maliciousness from homophobics and cynical men. A lot of men hate Pitt, Reeves, Cruise and Gere. Not because they are homophobic but I suspect because these actors have appealled to a lot of viewers by the feminine sexuality in their androgynous good looks that threatens our changing perceptions of our social constructs and demands. Especially for men who feel not only do they have to have good jobs and make money now they are also expected to be "sensitive".

This ties into Marilyn Monroe surprisingly. Molly Haskell said that "women (of the fifties) hated Marylyn Monroe for catering so shamelessly to a false, regressive, childish, and detached idea of sexuality" And Pauline Kael said the typical role for Monroe was "charming and embarassing".

Billy Wilder often had characters who were victims in his movies. In Some Like It Hot Monroe plays such a character. She has always been used by men and left "with the fuzzy end of the lolipop". Monroe is soft and a litle heavy in this movie making her very appealing, both sexually and emotionally. I can't imagine what it must have been like to see this movie when it was released. I've heard it was very popular and made people laugh out loud. Of course, i've only seen it since Monroe died and I knew always of her sad life story, being raped at 9 years old and her first attempt at autonomy was to get married at 14. Somehow though...in this movie I forget all about that as it evolves. To escape Chicago gangsters Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis decide to dress as women and join an all-girl band. At first they adopt mannerisms and clothes and stereotypes of what we believe defines a woman. They are priceless. But what begins as a sight gag in a screwball comedy turns into something else...rather quickly. These "women" are also victims because their lives are in danger from the gangsters. In order to survive in their disguises they must dig deeper to convince us and the bad guys and their fellow female bandmates they are women. These two guys make great strong, funny and supportive women friends. It's really amazing to see how they become more of themselves as they adopt their disguises. Their feminine sides give them a transformation.

Everything about this movie is in disguise...the whole movie seems to be saying all this world and our ideas about it, literally and truly are constructions and illusions. A hearse is actually a liquor smuggling truck. Monroe pretends to be "high class" but she is actually low class. A funeral home is actually a speakeasy. The gangsters pretend to be Italian diplomats. Curtis pretends to be rich and Monroe pretends to be educated. And gender is a disguise.

There is a recurring joke about Type O blood that really hit me this last viewing of the movie. Lemmon and Curtis's characters are both Type O blood. Type O blood is considered universal and common. I think this is am recurring joke as its a recurring metaphor for what is really more critical about us. Gender is the suppression of natural similarities like our blood. We watch the external details of this movie as disguise and we watch all the internal and emotional aspects of the characters as being more and more similar. Monroe has to become the "man" manifested as the aggressor sexually to try to seduce Curtis. Curtis we see to be a major cad as a man...but by the end of the movie he has become a much more thoughtful man to women (Monroe) by being female. A seduction scene of Curtis pretending to be a frigid man in order to get Monroe to seduce him is intercut with Jack lemmon in drag doing the tango with his date...who says to Lemmon "You're leading again" is a fantastic example of role reversals, and these role reversals being the key to unlocking compassion and love.

When Tony Curtis's character hears Monroes character singing a sexy bittersweet song, he is still dressed as a woman when he realizes how much he loves her...and he goes up to her, in drag, and kisses her. What had been a source of comedy previously in the movie is now a profound moment of love. It's so stunning and brilliant especially because Monroe has no idea until she recognizes the kiss that she is really in love with a woman! (who is a man, dressed as a woman, dressed as a man)

When it comes to love, the movies worldview is that gender is something we apply externally and doesn't ultimately "matter". Not only is the happy ending that the victim finds happiness, and the personal transformation of a cad to compassionate loving human, but all parties love each other regardless of their genders...even to the point that delivers possibly one of the greatest last lines in any movie. Period.

The people who want to prevent others from having marriage equality might want to take a lesson from this, nobody's perfect. And love is bigger and more meaningful than our external differences. Gender is the suppression of natural similarities, and that applies to straights as well as gays.

The transformation for the main character occurs when he surrenders to his feminine side and attains compassion for that opposite gender by walking in their shoes high heels. If we could apply that surrender to open our hearts to people we believe are different, or look different, or act different...we might also experience a transformation.

The androgyny of the stars that have international appeal triggers the potential to recognize similarities between us and then feel compassion. And the movie Some Like It Hot captures an American potential for compassion that has charmed people for 50 years. I believe it's a bit of evidence there is some hope for the U.S. Surely a country that could help harbour a European Jewish artist like Billy Wilder from pre-Nazi Germany could learn to allow people to get married and protect their families.

Save the world and watch Some Like It Hot soon!











I've had this photo on my fridge for about ten years. Maybe more. And it's fading a little bit over time and sunlight exposure. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis posed for this photo for Vanity Fair in the 90's. This is the photo folks were looking for when they were googling "tony curtis vanity fair" yesterday and hopefully this post will be easier for them to find.

Friday, October 01, 2010

An Awesome Day!


On Monday Stagg's cousin called us to go see a movie Thursday (yesterday) showing at her local library with a speaker. She had told us about this movie series she was following and we said we'd love to go with her next time. I had also been writing a long entry here to this blog abbout some of my movie watching experiences. My post that I wrote yesterday was a part 2 and I had written it on Tuesday and pre-scheduled it to post here yesterday afternoon sometime. Yesterday morning around 10:30, just before we headed out the door to meet Stagg's cousin for the movie...I was watching a talk show and they announced Tony Curtis had died. Not only did I mention Some Like It Hot in my list of movies yesterday from an influential class, but we were heading out the door to watch...Some Like It Hot.

What a weird feeling this was to have this movie on my brain and then to hear of Curtis's passing. Stagg and I had a half hour bus ride over to his cousins...and I was very quiet and sad during the ride. I was fighting tears. Before the showing of the Eisenhower Library's film series the presenter speaks. Richard J. Amello is a retired high school film teacher and he presents the movie series. He spoke for about ten minutes before the film started and I couldn't stop crying. It was the weirdest sensation and I felt like an idiot. Amello was recounting various stories about the life of Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis and some brief production notes about the making of the movie. He was a fabulous film buff with all kinds of interest and knowledge about the history of this movie. I was in heaven!

I have owned video copies and worn them out, then replaced those video copies with dvd copies of the movie Some Like It Hot. No doubt I could recite some of the lines before the actors do... so this was a little extra weird to be excited to see it again. The great thing about yesterday though, was Stagg's cousin hadn't seen the movie since she was a teen and Stagg was pretty sure he hadn't seen it before. I like to live through others first time viewings of my favourite movies. Weird, I know. I would say, thats the only potential I'd ever have for being a teacher, heh heh.

I hadn't seen this movie on a big screen for a long time though. Wonderful!


Outside the pool, a neighbour, Stagg's cousin and Stagg...

We had the best day. It was sad to think of how Curtis was kind of a last link to glamourous old-fashioned Hollywood movie glamour now has pased away but all three of us had a great time together. We met Stagg's cousin at her place, then drove to the farmers market nearby, then to the movie at the library. After the movie, Amello talked with the group fo 20 audience members and shared some more critical insight and notes. Then we went back to our cousin's condo for a swim and small picnic. We got the lifeguard to join us for a glass of wine and some cheese and crackers and we sat outside enjoying the warm evening.

You can see in this picture above that I took from todays stats, I get about 200 visitors a day here but last night when I got home my stats had almost doubled. When I checked the word searches it was from another couple hundred people looking for "tony curtis vanity fair". I know exactly what they were looking for. A picture I posted here a couple years ago from my fridge cut out of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. I'll dig around for that pic and write something tomorrow with that great photo.