8 January 2006

Brokeback Mountain

Filed under: — gxb @ 11:38 pm
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Seeing Brokeback Mountain has left me in a mood to talk about it, and... with no one I can really talk to who'll understand. So time to dust off the blog.

It's a story about two men who fall in love, while working together in the wilderness for a few months in 1963. In those pre-gay-lib days - especially in the flyover regions of the West - the idea of actually following their hearts is almost unthinkable, so they go their separate ways, with only their "fishing trips" together as a way to satisfy their mutual longing. Starring the lovely and talented Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, and directed by the talented (and not bad looking either) Ang Lee, it is (rather obviously) worth seeing.

Of course I can't help drawing parallels to the one great relationship of my own life. In this analysis, I am Ennis (Ledger's character) and Andy is Jack (Gyllenhaal). Although neither character is ready to declare "I'm here, I'm queer, get used to it", Jack is the one who entertains the idea of the two of them finding a place somewhere to settle down together. Andy and I were both plenty openly-gay, but it was he who was more eager for us to set up housekeeping together. And while not quite as laconic as Ennis, I was definitely the less talkative one.

This parallel breaks down a bit in some ways, of course. Jack seems to be the gayer of the two, with "needs" that can't be sublimated or simply channeled into heterosexual love-making. Ennis seems to be attracted to women... it's just that the one person he carries a torch for is a guy. But Andy was definitely the fence-straddler of the two of us, a card-carrying bisexual, while I never had any interest in the fairer sex.

But ultimately it was I who played the spoiler, balking when Andy finally made the move to... move in. I wasn't ready for that, and I pushed him away. And for that I'll always bear that burden of being the one who broke us up.

And what makes the story in the movie all the harder to watch is the analogy between what happened to them, and what happened to us. SPOILER ALERT! As the years go on, Jack and Ennis aren't together, except in their hearts. Until tragedy strikes, and Ennis finds out that Jack has died. Although Andy didn't die, he suffered a brain trauma that took him from me just the same.

For years I've feared hearing the news that Ennis actually received: the news that the love of his life has died. Although his family know about our relationship, they don't seem to respect it or understand it. They think it's over. But of course it isn't. Not in my heart. And knowing that Andy's health is more precarious than mine, I expect to someday learn - with the same casual indifference, well after the fact - that he has died. And even just thinking about that brings me sobbing to a stop. Because I know - like Ennis - that the reason we never truly got together, the reason we never found happiness as a couple... is me. My reluctance. My fear. My emotional distance.

My fault.

And it's too late to do anything about it.

P.S. If nobody comes out with a cowboy-themed gay porn movie called Bareback Mountain or Brokeback Mountin' before 2006 is out, then shame on the adult video industry.

22 September 2005

Simplify, simplify... oh, shut up already!

Filed under: — gxb @ 11:06 am
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Several years ago, I tried to teach myself to juggle.

I bought a book Juggling for the Complete Klutz (which came with a set of three bean bags to practise with), and tried seriously to learn how to do it. I never got beyond the second chapter. I just didn't have the coordination for it. No big surprise, really. Even in comparison to white heterosexual men, I'm still just a marginal dancer. It's not that I can't feel the rhythm deep down in my soul... I just can't shake my groove thang, get footloose, and do the hand-jive, all at once. It's too much to keep track of.

One of my friends used to refer to me as "the absent-minded professor", which is both an affectionately patronising stereotype and a Disney movie starring Fred MacMurray. To this day it bugs me that I've never actually achieved professorship, but I find the moniker endearing, because it acknowledges my (objectively confirmed) brilliance, whilst recognising my greatest weakness: my inability to keep track of things.

This wouldn't be so much of a problem, except that I have a tendency to let my life become more complicated than I can handle. I have a lot of interests. I'm into computers. And not just one operating system, but several (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, Netware, BeOS, etc). I like the visual arts. Not just drawing and graphic design and photography, but a little interior design and interface design as well. I love to write. Whether it's factual information on Wikipedia, insightful commentary here on GodsExBoyfriend.com, or creative storytelling, I think (and I'm told) that I'm pretty good at it. I have an aptitude and interest in the law. I scored better than 90% of law-school applicants when I took the entrance exam on a lark. Which is to say nothing of almost minoring in Philosophy, considering a career in politics, and a stint serving as an amateur social worker for gay and lesbian teenagers. Hell, just look at the categories for this blog! There's too much that I want to get involved in!

A big part of my problem is that I don't trust people to do things for me. Mostly that's because I've been burned when I did. Hell, I'm probably smarter than them, and with my diverse interests, there's a good chance that I could do the job better than them. So I do.

I host my own web sites, running my own server, using an operating system and other software that I can configure and modify myself. Hardware failure? I replace it myself. Power failure? I have my own generator. There are still a few links in the chain that I'm powerless over (e.g. the internet itself), but for the most part, I have the ability to keep my own systems up, all by myself. Which means that when there's a problem, and my systems aren't online... it's entirely my fault... and my problem.

I have more domain names registered than I'll admit. I get an idea for a site I'd like to develop, discover that no one's registered the domain yet, and I grab it. But I don't have time to actually develop it. Earth-Zero.com just sits there. GraphicNovels.info was just a place-holder until recently. And against my better judgment, I just volunteered to be webmaster for yet another web site.

Meanwhile I'm trying to get around to realising my childhood dream of writing and drawing comics. I have scripts for half a dozen different stories, and ideas for a few dozen more. Some are downright brilliant, if I say so myself. But how and when am I going to produce them all?

Which is to say nothing of my day job, which I'm trying to get converted from a simple not-quite-full-time techie gig, into a full-time position in which I'll help to set direction and policy, and work on a more creative level. Like I need a reason to stay later at the office.

What I need to do is to focus. I need to simplify my life.

The irony is that I've already done that - or allowed it to happen - pretty extensively. I don't have a family (except the parents and siblings I was born with). I don't have a spouse, or even a boyfriend. I have few friends. Dumped the church ages ago. I don't even have the activism-based social life that I once had. And even without all that, it's still too much.

Which is a somewhat round-about way of getting to the point (because I wasn't really sure of it when I started writing this) that I'm officially deprecating God's ex-Boyfriend. It's obviously been neglected a bit for a while now, and I need to acknowledge that and let it go. I'm not going to take the site down, and I'll probably still post things here from time to time as the spirit moves me. But it's officially off my "current activities" list.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

19 September 2005

Urban Predators

Filed under: — gxb @ 10:57 am
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Last week I was surprised to see a killing take place across the street from my house. I was sitting on my porch reading the newspaper when it happened. At first I didn't even realize what I was seeing. But a few moments later, there was no mistaking it. I'd just seen a hawk kill a mouse.

I'm not used to seeing birds of prey here in the city. My neighborhood is home to lots of squirrels, chipmunks, the occasional racoon, some mice, a fair number of crows, and more songbirds than you can count. We even had an honest-to-god wild turkey roaming the streets here several months ago. But not a lot of hunters. Which is why this took me a bit by surprise.

The hawk took his meal to a nearby tree and proceeded to eat it. I didn't have a great view of it, and I don't actually know a hawk from a falcon, so I can't be any more specific about what kind it was. It was fairly small, about the size of a crow, which is why I didn't immediately recognize it as a bird of prey when it touched down on the lawn across the street, then took off.

OK, so last night I turned on the TV to see what TiVo had recorded for me, and in among the new Fall-season episodes was a program that had been on PBS about the family of red-tailed hawks that took up residence in Central Park back in the 1990s. It was an interesting program, describing how the couple nested on one of the buildings that surround the park, how their children learned to fly, and so on. It also talked about the phenomenon that surrounded them, the throngs of people who gathered to watch them, follow their progress week after week, and generally treat them like a movie-star couple or British royals. These people gushed about how amazing it was to see something so truly wild in the city.

I thought about the hawk I'd seen the week before. And my own reaction to it.

Yes, it was noteworthy, and I thought some of the same sorts of things that these New Yorkers said. But after watching my hawk for several minutes as he ate, and snapping a few photos in hopes of identifying what kind of hawk he was... I moved on. Because it really wasn't that big a deal. I see hawks out hunting all the time on the highway between here and Lansing. It's not that unusual to see them along certain roads around here, like the one going around the nearby lake. I've even seen an eagle. We have wild-ness here. It's part of our lives.

But apparently the people of New York City are so separated from it, that when it does appear in their lives, it's a huge Event. How sad.

28 August 2005

Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive

Filed under: — gxb @ 8:44 pm
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I found myself doing something unusual today.

I was walking down the street to the post office to mail my rent and health-insurance checks. Nothing unusual about that. But there was something about the way it felt...

It took me a second to figure it out: my hips were moving.

I'm an uptight white boy, raised in a homophobic culture. Sure, there was disco when I was little, but I was never really the dancing type. I learned to walk with a manly stride in which the pelvis remains as still as possible; only the thighs and shins were supposed to move.

When I came out, I managed to undo some of that conditioning. I even got a little funky on the dance floor. But my default behavior is the Guy Walk.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to me, to find myself bouncing down the sidewalk like a young John Travolta with Saturday Night Fever. All I can figure is that... I was happy. Not completely care free, but relaxed enough and cheerful enough to loosen up the hips and let them move. Which was fun. I guess life is pretty good when a man can spontaneously sashay down the street.

20 July 2005

Jimmy Doohan: "It's Been Fun"

Filed under: — gxb @ 9:47 pm
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Last year I commented about what was described as (and in fact was) the last public apperance by Jimmy Doohan, known to countless Star Trek fans as Scotty, the ship's engineer. I wrote that entry as a eulogy for him, knowing (and hoping, for his sake) that it wouldn't be long before he died. He died today, after a (comparatively and mercifully) short struggle with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and lung fibrosis (from his service in the Canadian military during WWII), at the age of 85.

I don't want to repeat everything I wrote before, but I'll say that Scotty was always my second-favorite character on the original Star Trek (after Spock), but Jimmy was probably my favorite member of the cast. I've never heard a bad thing said about him by anyone who ever met him, which included a lot of people. He didn't get along with Bill Shatner, but that's because of Shatner's ego. His fans included not only countless future engineers, but Neil Armstrong, the man who actually did go Where No Man Has Gone Before (exactly 36 years before Jimmy died). Unlike some actors who chafe at being typecast, or has-beens who cling to their past stardom like a life preserver, Jimmy grew to enjoy the fame that Trek brought him, and tried his best to give back to his fans. Next-Generation actor and self-described geek Wil Wheaton, commented that "Everyone who watched Star Trek liked Scotty, but everyone who met him loved Jimmy."

Once when asked about hearing the catch-phrase (which - for the record - was never actually spoken in an episode of the series) "Beam me up, Scotty," repeated over and over and over, he answered, "I'm not tired of it at all. Good gracious, it's been said to me for just about 31 years. It's been said to me at 70 miles an hour across four lanes on the freeway. I hear it from just about everybody. It's been fun."

Which pretty much sums it up.

May your dilithium crystals be fully charged, your matter/anti-matter reaction balanced, your wee bairns well cared for, and I wish you a safe and painless transport to your final shore leave.

Energise.

14 July 2005

Apple PCs

Filed under: — gxb @ 10:56 am
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If you follow technology news, there's a good chance you've heard that Apple has announced that they'll be switching to Intel processors in their Mac line, starting next year. This is fairly big development, and not just because of how it affects CPU manufacturers like Motorola, IBM (who makes Apple's current PowerPC CPUs), AMD, and (obviously) Intel.

One of the interesting implications of this is that, for the first time ever, Apple computers will be able to run Windows. Not through an add-in board like the Performa machine back in the 90's, and not through Virtual PC software which turns a fast Mac into a slow Windows machine. I mean simply running Windows. If you want, you'll be able to strip out Mac OS X and replace it with Windows XP.

At that point, "Macintosh" will cease to be a separate platform from the rest of the desktop-computing industry. Macs will be "PC compatible", and Apple will be just another brand of PC.

Of course the key difference is that only Apples will be able to run Mac OS X. Apple has promised to make it impossible to do this on anybody else's PCs (though it remains to be seen how successful they'll be at that). OS X is a really great operating system, so I don't expect much of anybody who buys an Apple will really erase OS X and replacing it with Windows. But some of them might still replace it with Linux. In fact, some already do; there's a version of Linux engineered specifically to run on Macs.

But whether or not OS X gets hacked to run on Dells or HPs, this will point out to consumers that: PC ≠ Windows. People (even technical people who should know better) refer to the "PC version" of a program such as Photoshop, when they really mean the "Windows version". That's an important distinction, because there are PCs out there that don't run Windows. More than a few of them, in fact. Most of them run Linux, a smaller number run FreeBSD or one of its cousins, a few run BeOS, and so on. I have a bunch of PCs on my network; only two of them run Windows-compatible application software.

I can see a lot of future Apple owners installing both Windows and OS X on their Intel-powered Macs, and selecting which OS to run depending on whether they want to surf the web safely or do video editing (OS X), or play games or run some specialised shareware app (Windows). Owners of Dell or HP PCs might respond by installing both Windows and... Linux (second cousin of OS X, with similar anti-spyware/virus advantages), or a revitalized BeOS (a great multimedia OS that Microsoft conspired to keep locked out of the market).

The bottom line may be that people stop thinking that buying a PC necessarily means using Windows. And that can only be good for the technology industry, by poking a hole in the Microsoft near-monopoly and perhaps even restoring competition to the software market.

12 July 2005

Sparta, Michigan: Village of Idiots

Filed under: — gxb @ 5:05 pm
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Sparta, Michigan is one of those places where if Forrest Gump were visiting for the day, the average IQ in the town would go up.

At least that's the impression I get from the actions of their Village Council, which (with one dissenting vote) is forcing a couple to spray herbicide all over the developing meadow in their back yard, and to replace it with grass. Mowed and watered grass.

Scott and Keri Greenup decided a while back that rather than wasting untold gallons of water and gas trying to keep their back yard looking Astroturf®, they'd develop it into a more natural native meadow with native grasses and wildflowers. (To keep the neighborhood looking suitably uniform, they kept the vegetation in the front yard all dark-green and stubby.) A couple of the retards in their neighborhood complained, apparently believing that Kentucky Blue Grass is what God intended to be grown here in Michigan. And it turns out there's an ordinance on the books in Sparta that aims to enforce that commandment.

The Greenups didn't give in without a fight. They took the matter to the appropriate government panel which actually recommended a change in the orinance, to let these people make that reasonable choice about how to manage their property. The Sparta Village Clavern voted 7-1 against that.

Village Idiot (or "Councilman" or whatever they call them) Bob Whalen said, "If you're going to allow one person to do it, you've got to allow anyone to do it." Duh. That'd be a stroke of brilliance... except that he apparently thinks that's an argument against repealing the brain-dead ordinance.

Fellow Idiot Todd Johnson said of their recovering meadowland, "It's not my idea of a manicured flowerbed." No shit, Sherlock. It's not supposed to be. It's supposed to be healthy and practical, not an artificial hobby showpiece.

When it comes to the whole "property rights" topic, I tend to be a skeptic. I don't abide by the radical anarcho-libertarian viewpoint that "owning" a piece of land means you can do whatever the hell you want to do with it (e.g. dumping toxic waste). The community ought to have a say as well. But only if they're smart enough, and willing to consider reasonable requests to do something "different".

In the U.S. Southwest, where the general scarcity of water has made the idiocy of golf-course-like yards obvious even to the local Villiage Idiots, natural yards are catching on. But not even the obscene current price of gas is enough to get the retards in Sparta to grasp that landscaping of this sort should be encouraged, not banned. I'm not about to go around demanding that people stop mowing their lawns, cease irrigating their faux fairways, and let their property return to the way God created it. But if someone wants to make that very sane and practical choice, the law shouldn't stand in their way. You don't need to be a genius to grasp that. Normal intelligence would be enough.

11 July 2005

Treason in Defense of the Flag

Filed under: — gxb @ 11:18 am
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If I hear another veteran arguing that we need to protect the American flag from protesters who might burn it, I'm going to punch him in the face. Anyone who says that is a disgrace to the uniform he once wore.

Understand: I have a great deal of respect for veterans. My uncle flew combat missions in Vietnam, and I'd salute him in a heartbeat. Vets deserve appreciation for their service. But when someone says that the physical banner of the United States is more important than the principles embodied in its Constitution, they are demonstrating contempt for their country. And in the case of a veteran, they're violating the very first article of the oath they took, swearing to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States". Whether they like it or not, the Constitution (as upheld by the Supreme Court) says that the right to burn the flag as a form of protest is protected by the First Amendment. I don't agree with everything the Supremes say, but a soldier challenging their authority is flirting with treason.

There's nothing in the military service oath about protecting the flag; that's just a bit of conditioning they use in boot camp to enforce discipline and promote team morale. Honoring the flag and protecting it from physical harm are noble things. But they don't take precedence over the Constitution and their oath to uphold it.

25 June 2005

Short Shorts

Filed under: — gxb @ 8:27 pm
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A few weeks ago, my 10-year-old nephew snickered a little at a photo of his father, taken back when Dad was in college. He was wearing shorts that hung just below his balls. "That's just the kind of shorts people wore back then," I explained.

Of course no self-respecting person today wears shorts that expose his thighs, and even showing your knees is considered a fashion misdemeanor.

And I want to punch whoever decided to make that change.

Not because I enjoy looking at legs. I do, but not in any big way. The fact that - I'm told - I have nice legs doesn't do a lot for my self-image, at least not as much as being told that I had a nice smile or a nice tummy would. Those I appreciate. But I've got enough photos of guys wearing nothing but a smile, so that's nothing to fume over.

No, I hate the arbiters of fashion because the long and heavy sacks that pass for "shorts" these days are way too damn hot! For the small amount of skin surface area I have exposed to the weak breezes, I might as well be wearing full-length slacks!

I suspect the reason "longs" are considered so fashionable today has something to do with popularity of baggy clothing in general. It's related to the fattening of our society. Young people these days are carrying around more fat and less muscle than ever before. Tight shirts and short shorts would show that off. So instead they hide under the folds of their fashions. And force us all to go out in 90-degree, 90%-humidity weather and sweat and sweat and sweat.

24 June 2005

Big Cats Maul Boy

Filed under: — gxb @ 5:38 pm
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News Item:

In Little Falls, Minnesota, a lion and a tiger that were being kept at an auto body shop by their owner, escaped from their cage and critically injured a 10-year-old boy. The local sheriff reports that the lion and the tiger were euthanized.

Now that's fucking stupid. They should have euthanized the retard who was keeping these dangerous animals, and who let them get out.

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