Monday, January 30, 2006

Seeing the positive

Check out Dantallion for a great post about the difference between Anti-Americanism and not supporting the current administration. It is a gentle reminder that every time Bush causes me to jump up and down, swear loudly and shake my head in despair I should remember the 49% of the country did not vote for the deluded dumbo.

Dantallion is writing from a Canadian perspective and, rightly, notes that there is little adult debate, but plenty of simple polarisation where the “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality always wins over. Adults should be able to recognise that a disagreement about one issue doesn't (always) mean you disagree with everything else someone stands for or believes in. The war with Iraq has contributed to my annoyance with America – but it is the administration and its supporters who have pissed me off, not the whole country. I know that the arrogance Bush displays is unbelievable and it belies any pretence at social justice or democratic freedoms, but noit all Americans stand for the same things.

I suppose this has come home to me when someone asked how I would vote in the next election. I have voted labour ever since I could vote; in fact I am still a member of the Labour party. If there was an election tomorrow I couldn't vote conservative and the Lib-Dems are in such disarray at the moment that I am still not convinced they can run the country. It would be easy to not vote Labour when faced with Blair's increasing arrogance and apparent betrayal of the values he once stood for. What stops me is recognising what the party has done that was important for me: repeal of section 28; equal age of consent; civil partnerships and the recent change to allow same-sex couples to adopt together, rather than as an individual. These are things that, as a gay man, have made a real difference to my feeling of inclusion in society and gone a long way towards tackling homophobia and discrimination. Of course these prejudices still exist, but we are now living in a society were young people are growing up to see gay relationships as a reality for many people and an increasing acceptance that diverse relationships have a positive contribution to society. I know we are not living in a utopia, but things have definitely got better.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Jackson seen in disguise

The BBC reports that Michael jackson has been seen shopping in Bahrain wearing traditional women's attire.

"He was out with his three children when he was seen wearing the veil, abaya and gloves typically worn by conservative Bahraini women. The children's faces were shrouded by dark scarves. " and "In November Jackson was caught up in controversy when he entered a ladies toilet in the United Arab Emirates. His publicist said it had simply been a mistake and he had quickly exited."

Curioser and curioser. I wasn't aware, but he has settled in the Persian Gulf after his acquittal on child molestation charges.

Book game

Borrowed from Naked Boy Chronicles

Here are the rules:

1) Grab the nearest book
2) Open the book to page 123
3) Find the fifth sentence
4) Post the text of the next 3 sentences (#5,6,7) on your blog (or in these comments too), along with these instructions.
5) Don't search out a "cool" or "intellectual" book from your bookshelf! Just grab what is closest. No cheating!

The slowness eliminates momentum, forcing the muscles to work to complete exhaustion. That, in turn, encourages them to rebuild more quickly and thoroughly. Weightlifting can also make bones stronger and denser, a godsend for young and old.

From: In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Poor bugger!

Poor bugger! Mark Oaten, Lib Dem MP, has resigned from his post as home affairs spokesman after the News of the World claimed he had an alleged affair with a rent boy. Oaten has apologised to his family and appealed for privacy after apologising for "errors of judgement in personal behaviour." Not great news for the Lib Dems after Charles Kennedy recently resigned following discussion of his alcohol problem. With a leadership race on as well the party must be wondering what will happen next.

You have got to feel sorry for the guy and wonder whether the story is really in the public interest. I am sure he will have some constituents who are baying for blood and decrying his behaviour as shameful and disgusting. The News of the World says that this exposes Oaten as a hypocrite as last year he condemned a judge who was sacked for hiring rent boys. I don’t know if this is true, but if it is then Oaten does appear to be a little hypocritical.

Apparently, the rent boy also dressed up in a football strip for him, reminiscent of the whole David Mellor Chelsea strip debacle. He is also meant to have requested a threesome which the rent boy and his boyfriend sorted out.  He really seemed to enjoy himself that night." The NoW says that the MP then “got the rent boys to humiliate him with a bizarre sex act too revolting to describe.” I am sure this is just a way of milking the story further and it is probably something that lots of us have done ourselves.

I have to admit a fascination with this type of story. There aren’t many people who don’t experience a little schadenfraude at this type of story, but I certainly don’t wish the guy any malice. His wife and kids are the ones who will probably suffer the most. I imagine that was a tricky conversation…”Darling, there is something I need to tell you…” Unsurprisingly the NoW ends their article with “Do you want to sell a story or picture? Call us any day free on …” At the end of the day it is all about selling papers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Can't get enough

I am sure I will not be the first to cheer the Golden Globe awards for Brokeback mountain – while I might as well turn this blog into a tribute to, given the number of posts!

It picked up four prizes, including the overall prize for best dramatic film and the best director for Ang Lee. It is interesting that in the BBC's coverage they have changed their description of the movie from a 'Cowboy romance' to a 'Gay cowboy drama' Once again demonstrating the need to neatly categorise this film into a gay genre, rather than being an epic love story whose main characters just happen to both be male. But enough of this, I am posting and commenting all over the web about this. I just hope that this is a good indication of the Oscar's in March.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gym time

My Christmas binging has been replaced with a strict 1500 calorie a day diet. Thee first week has gone well and I am already back down to my pre-Christmas weight of 11 stone 12 pounds. I am hoping to get back down to 11 stone buy the end of March, but realise that I will also need to start the dreaded exercise regime.

My boyfriend has great will power and manages to exercise almost everyday, whereas pulling the cork from a bottle of wine is my usual workout. I am going to start with sit-ups and bicep curls as they tend to have a pretty quick result and inspire me to do more.

The main impetus is a family holiday to centreparcs at the end of March to celebrate my father’s 60th birthday. It will be bad enough exposing my white skin in the ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’, without having an attractive overhang too.

Today's menu to keep me slim was a wholemeal pitta with low fat hummus, cherry tomatoes and lettuce and 3 apricots. Yum yum!

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I am at home on study leave today to allow me to do some work on my MSc dissertation, but I am really struggling. I have the structure mapped out and have got some good reading materials for the literature review, but I am really lacking the impetus to get something down on paper. The dissertation is only 10,000 words, but at the moment this feels like an overwhelmingly mammoth task. If anyone has any advice or can suggest some good online resources I would be really grateful.

My dissertation is about the use of health economics by decision makers in the NHS. Hardly a gripping topic for most people, but something I am interested in. I have until the end of March to complete it, but at this rate will need about 12 months. Help!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Borderline Addiction

I should really catching up with an overflowing mailbox and post tray, but feel compelled to post again about Brokeback Mountain. I have found myself haunted (in a good way) by the film, bordering on obsession.

After reading the book too, I find my thoughts drifting to the film and the story it tells at all times of the day, and especially at night when I am trying to sleep. I am also struggling with whether I would define this as a 'gay film' or not, in the same way that I cannot decide whether there should be a 'gay fiction' section in book shops. Surely, there are only gay themes or gay authors, and these should be accessible to any reader. Most of the novels I read are written by straight authors (as far as I know) who tend to write about straight characters, but I don't call it 'straight fiction'. I can appreciate the need to group gay authors or themes together to allow gay and bisexual men and women the chance to quickly find stories that they can relate to, but worry that such a tag assumes that this is all we read.

Thinking again about Brokeback Mountain it is fair to say that the film is less about sexuality, gay or otherwise, than it is about human loneliness. The fact that the two main characters have the same gender is (to some degree) irrelevant.

Having said all that, the film must have challenged some people's perceptions of sexuality and the destructive power of a society that strictly defines what is right and wrong within human relationships.

I know I am going on and on, but if you haven't yet seen this film GO NOW!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Rare Treat

A rare treat for me today. We went to the cinema to see a film rather than wait for it to be out on DVD. Brokeback Mountain was great.

As you would expect with an Annie Proulx story, it takes a while to establish the characters and the setting, but it was well worth the wait. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger play the parts really well and their relationship through 60s and 70s America is sensitively handled. I wanted them to get together against the odds and open a gay dude ranch, but that was never going to happen. If you haven’t seen it yet I won’t spoil the story, suffice to say I was in tears at the end. Go and see this movie!

** 9 Jan 2006 UPDATE

My boyfriend already had a copy of the novella, which I read last night in bed. The film is pretty accurate to the book, with few changes and most of the dialogue reproduced word-for-word. At 70 pages, it doesn't take long to read and shows a good screenplay doesn't need thousands of pages of reference material to work.

I would say that the film had a much more emotional impact on me and it accurately reflects the character's thoughts and feelings expressed in the book. What a book cannot do is capture the vastness of the landscape and the realisation that acceptance of same sex relationships has moved on so much in such a short space of time.

Of course, good old religion has got involved in the debate. This time it is a Mormon owned Cinema in Utah, who pulled the film due to its content. Jeez! Give us a break and let adults decided for themselves whether they want to watch (a pretty inexplicit) representation of a hidden relationship and the pressures to conform.