Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tinselfish is not the name of a drag queen!

(Although I can picture a performer with a name like Holly Tinselfish.) Then it's like a thorny tinselfish (Grammicolepis brachiusculus)? Not this time. Tinselfish is a novel and the tagline explains the title: “Underneath all the a fish out of water.” Another tagline I use is “Real guns. Real tinsel.”

My book was recently included in the Drewey Wayne Gunn Collection of Gay Male Mysteries and Police Stories in Duke University's Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library. I would be interested in finding out if an earlier version of the book (the earlier title was Life Doesn't Always, published in 2004) was listed in Gunn's book The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film: A History and Annotated Bibliography, published in 2005.

The following is how I describe the book to librarian-types:

Tinselfish offers a look at gay West Hollywood in the early 00's. Cafes, bars, and club nights which no longer exist are mentioned and described. The two-volume set is written as a series of screenplays for a TV detective series, but they are written to be read as a cohesive novel and not as screenplays composed in the industry's abbreviated, codeworded style. Book 1 includes a detailed, extensively researched account of a closeted Amish farmer's difficult coming-out process in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the 70's and 80's. It also includes a chapter/episode which focuses on the gay scene in Philadelphia in the late 80's around Walnut and 13th. (Find Book 2 here.) Both books extensively reference classic films noirs of the 40's and 50's and highlight the encrypted gay subtext of many of those films. Several chapter/episodes explore homosexuality in traditional Arab and Persian cultures as well as the gay Arab-American experience in Los Angeles since 9/11. Each chapter/episode includes endnotes citing the books and screenplays referenced in the text. Other chapter/episodes explore Hollywood history and examine Intolerance, Clara Bow, Busby Berkeley, and Sunset Blvd. and the different film technologies and styles prevalent at each stage. A minor subplot in the novel involves tracking down ex-Nazis in South America in the years following WWII. A recurring theme is the dilemma of an actor trapped in a movie franchise he hates because the franchise does reasonably well at the box office.

Because the novel is written as a series of screenplays, it should be considered experimental fiction, an exploration of the one literary form reading or looking like the other. With the novel set in “Hollywood,” the reader's Hollywood-insider experience is enhanced by going through the same reading process as an actor or director reading a screenplay. (As a compromise, the text is set in a Roman font rather than the standard typewriter font.) Another continuing theme is depression and its medications, and in the experimental vein, one chapter/episode presents an attack of severe depression as alternating time-lapse and slow-motion cinematography. The detailed descriptions of these effects allow the reader to envision what are otherwise exclusively visual techniques, as well as to gain insight into the emotional disruption of severe depression.

Tinselfish is not only an entertaining read, carefully written and exhaustively proofread, but is also educational and enlightening in its exploration of different cultures, regions, timeframes, topics, and genres.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Block the Bush pardons

From the People's Email Network:

Speak Out Against The Planned Bush Blanket Pardons BEFORE They Can Happen

Pay no attention to the handful of Christmas pardons granted by Bush. This is mere political window dressing to distract from the bumper crop of blanket absolutions, including one for himself, scheduled to be released just before midnight on Jan 19th. Cheney would not so arrogantly be bragging on TV about how he authorized torture if it were not so.

But there is a resolution in Congress, H.Res. 1531, preemptively condemning any such move if we can just get enough members of Congress to sponsor it (already 10 so far). Many of you have submitted a action page on this already. Please do it again, especially if your representative did not hear you the first time.

Action Page To Stop The Bush Pardons:

Each action page you submit is another lump of coal in Cheney's stocking. [John's comment: And we all know how clean coal is as a fuel. No greenhouse gases. No residual sludge. Clean energy for tomorrow's world.] Some have speculated on the possibility of post-inauguration impeachment, especially considering the fact that many insiders are waiting until then to spill the beans. Maybe they don't want to get bumped off in asuspicious plane crash like Mike Connell. But a self pardon at the very last minute would certainly be grounds for some kind of action, perhaps even impeachment, if and only if Congress would react and take action immediately
Father God, please save us from your people.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

For 5,000 years, every culture, every religion...

has implemented or condoned slavery. So what's your point, Warren? Historical precedent isn't a very reliable support for an argument. In fact, you've probably already been contacted by quite a few historians who can show you with actual historical and archaeological evidence that your blanket statement "every culture, every religion" was wrong. But your response to each of them is a shrug, because you already know what you want the truth to be.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Warren invocation: It's just a prayer

Yes the choice of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration is an insult to progressives who feel that Prop 8 stapled bigotry onto California's constitution. And it's appropriate that we voice our disapproval vigorously. But if Warren's invocation makes evengelicals preen a little and feel smug but results in their being a little more willing to work with Obama, then the good that is accomplished outweighs the harm. It's not as if Obama appointed Warren to a Cabinet position. It's just a five-minute prayer, during which kids will fidget and grownups on both sides of the fence will yawn, and afterward Warren will leave the stage and that will be it. The symbolic gesture will dissipate into the winter air.

Addendum: My message to Warren via Courage Campaign's petition:

Rev. Warren,
Your girth indicates that you have very strong appetites and that you indulge yourself in some of them, apparently unaware that your excessive weight undermines your credibility. As an obese wealthy person, you send a clear message that you are appetite-driven (bigger congregation, more revenue, more TV time, greater political influence), which runs counter to the message you preach from Scripture. I'm surprised your congregation overlooks your wealth and obesity, but you certainly aren't the first obese minister to have achieved your level of fame, e.g. Falwell, Hagee. When a minister preaches what people want to hear, people don't concern themselves with what disconnect there may be between the simple, service-oriented life promoted by the minister's sermons and the appetite-driven life exhibited by the minister himself. You should have already examined your heart deeply to see how this disconnect could have happened. God wants you to be rich? God wants you to be fat? What passages of Scripture support those ideas? I could point you to Scripture passages that lead the Christian away from obesity and wealth. But, of course, you already know those passages—a discrepancy that calls into question your credibility as a leader in any discussion of moral issues.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A well-regulated militia in Yosemite

From Freedom States Alliance:
As a parting shot, the Bush administration has overturned a regulation to keep guns out of national parks. Despite the objections of every living former director of the National Park Service, tens of thousands of national park visitors, and several ranger organizations, the Interior Department has published a rule that will allow loaded, concealed guns in most of the country's national parks.

This rule is a gift from the Bush administration to the National Rifle Association and the reversal of this ruling should be among the Obama administrations first actions upon taking office in January.

Please sign our petition to encourage the incoming Obama administration to reverse this rule so we can keep our national parks safe from gun violence.