Eighteenth-Century Texas Wednesday, Nov 28 2007 

Last Wednesday, PJ and I were sitting in our favorite Mexican restaurant along the river walk in San Antonio, Casa Rio, looking at a publicity magazine while eating lunch. We were looking for something to do for an hour or two before having to go back to my sister’s house and hang out with our family and her in-laws.

My eye was caught by the brochure’s brief description of the Mission Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion de Acuna, which it simply described as the oldest of the eighteenth-century Spanish missions in the San Antonio area. The magazine wasn’t very clear on how far away the mission was, but we decided to drive over and see what it was. After all, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see something from the eighteenth century in Texas!

First, we decided to pay another visit to the Alamo. We knew it was within walking distance of the restaurant, so we figured we should see it again before going back to our car. This is the pic we took of the front of the Alamo.

The Alamo

I have to admit that I’ve forgotten my Texas history. We had a whole year of it in seventh grade; I wanted to take a semester of it in high school but couldn’t fit it into my schedule. As a history major at TAMU, I wasn’t required to take Texas History, but I did take my senior seminar on the social history of the Texas frontier. I really enjoyed the class; we studied things like diaries of early settlers and how people made coffee on the frontier. If I had thought that there was a real future in it, I might have been tempted to become a Texas historian. But even then I realized that there couldn’t be that many jobs in the field.

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Cat Tuesday Tuesday, Nov 27 2007 

Before I start blogging about our trip to San Antonio and Little Rock, I thought that I would catch up on some old blogging. I’ve been meaning to include more cat-related items from time to time; today seems like a good day to start that. Paisley and Marlowe are both very happy to see us after a week away. Paisley sat in my lap most of the evening purring up a storm.

In October, I found two YouTube clips about cats that I thought were fun. The first was sent to me by my friend James. It had been forwarded to him from another friend.

As anyone with cats knows, this is practically an animated documentary! I suffer much less from this than PJ does — the cats have gotten used to him getting up and feeding them in the morning. I usually don’t wake up until a couple of hours later. In our house, it’s Paisley that plays alarm clock. Her special technique is to knock things off of our night stands and chest of drawers.

The other clip is a short film. I first saw it months ago and recently came across it again.

This is just a fun little clip, which I take to be an homage to the presence of cats in some gay men’s lives. I have other clips and stories to share in the future. I might even include more pics of Paisley and Marlowe! (Maybe I should make a Paisley movie?!)

Home from Thanksgiving Monday, Nov 26 2007 

PJ and I made it home from our Thanksgiving travels without too much trouble. Our flight from Little Rock to Dallas was delayed by a half hour, which meant that we had to run through the airport to catch our flight to Columbus. From landing to takeoff, we were probably in Dallas for not much more than a half hour. The real miracle, however, is that our luggage also made it on the plane! So, we got home around 5 and are now spending the evening just enjoying being home.

We had a great time on our trip. I’ll blog about the main events over this week, but I thought I would quickly summarize them here. The highlight for me was our visit to two eighteenth-century San Antonio missions (in addition to the Alamo). I took lots of pictures. Next time I visit my sister, I definitely want to go back. We also saw a great movie, No Country for Old Men. I liked it so much that I immediately bought the novel and read it. I also read another great book, The World of Normal Boys. I’ll write reviews of all three of these works sometime this week.

We also met my sister’s in-laws, which was interesting. She had 12 people for Thanksgiving, 10 of which were staying at her house (everyone but PJ and me). We mostly watched football. The Arkansas-LSU and Tennessee-Kentucky games were both great (though they were both played after Thanksgiving day, of course). In Arkansas, we hung out with PJ’s parents, saw his brother and his family at dinner, and visited his grandmother a few times. The real highlight of that part of the trip was getting to have lunch with our friend Laura on Sunday as she drove through town.

Overall, it was a fun trip and was especially delightful since we now aren’t going home for Christmas. Instead, we’re staying here and having our own Christmas without all of the family obligations, etc. I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Gone to Texas Tuesday, Nov 20 2007 

PJ and I are leaving for Texas and Arkansas in a little while. First, we’re flying to San Antonio. We’ll be having Thanksgiving with my sister. On Friday, we’ll fly to Little Rock and spend the weekend with PJ’s parents.

I’m so far behind on my blog. I’ve been meaning to start a section on cats — mine and other people’s. One of my favorite blogs, Kenneth in the (212), routinely writes about his cat. I want to do the same. In that spirit, here’s a YouTube clip of our boy, Marlowe, getting down from a tree. We’re constantly impressed by his climbing and jumping abilities.

The sad looking flower bed at the end of the clip is the result of Marlowe wallowing in the dirt. I have to get a new border for it someday — something more durable. Right now, Marlowe is engaged in a fierce territorial war with our neighbor’s cats. Our neighbor leaves out food for her cats, and Marlowe is desperate to conquer their yard and claim this food source as his own. We terribly embarrassed by his ambitions — I think he must be the reincarnation of some English imperialist. I have an assortment of other clips and pics (mostly of other people’s cats) I’ll add from time to time.

I might try to blog a little while we’re gone. I also want to write about the Asylum Street Spankers concert we went to on Saturday.

We’re off to the Columbus airport.

Weekend in Cleveland, Part 2 Saturday, Nov 17 2007 

Last weekend, PJ and I, as well as our friends M&L, went to Cleveland for the Conference of the Midwest Modern Language Association. I’ve already written about the first half of the weekend.

After going to the Cleveland Museum of Art, PJ and I met up with M&L and a friend of theirs from graduate school for lunch at Flannery’s Pub, where I had the corned beef sandwich, which was so tasty and succulent. I’m constantly on the lookout for a good corned beef sandwich here in Athens but haven’t found one to suit my taste yet. Often, they can end up too greasy, or the corned beef doesn’t have much of a taste. This sandwich was perfect. (Excuse me while I pause for a moment and reminisce.)

Next, we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is the second time we had been to the Hall of Fame. Consequently, we didn’t want to linger quite as much over some of the first exhibits as M&L did, so we went on ahead of them. In many ways, I find this museum overwhelming. There’s just too much to see and take in. So I spend most of my time search out Tina Turner memorabilia. I have to say that she’s not nearly as well represented in the Hall of Fame as she should be. Hopefully this error will be remedied by inducting her as an individual and not just as part of Ike and Tina Turner, which is how she is currently recognized.

The special exhibit this time was on The Doors. I have to admit that I don’t know much about them. We saw Jim Morrison’s grave while we were in Paris this summer. As part of the exhibit you can watch a video of a Door’s concert. I sat there for a while to see if I could get a little of The Doors experience. I eventually came to the conclusion that one really needs to be high on something to get the full effect. Their music seems to entice one towards drugs, which would undoubtedly augment the experience. Not being high, I couldn’t quite get into them while watching the video, but I was almost tempted to buy a CD of their music in the gift shop just to give them another chance. Almost.

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What I’m Listening to: Cazwell Wednesday, Nov 14 2007 

I was watching Logo earlier and saw part of the top ten music videos for the week. One of the videos was Cazwell’s “Watch My Mouth:”

Cazwell is a gay rap artist. On hs website he lists The Beastie Boys as one of his influences; I can definitely see how they have affected his music. In addition, I really like his self-conscious requeering of the aesthetic used by Eminem, but where Eminem is arguably homophobic in his music and self-representation, Cazwell certainly queers the white, urban street-tough imagery. As his website states,

His propulsive beats and tongue-twisting rhymes are carving out a new musical style, while his streetwise fashion sense and eye-popping videos serve up visual panache to match. Cazwell’s art isn’t about lifestyle with a lower case L, the type you purchase off-the-rack after reading a magazine article, but a Style of Life, one which celebrates everyday existence, from his first waking moments to the hazy, shady episodes that unfold in the wee small hours.

I’m immediately fascinated by his aesthetic, as expressed in his lyrics, videos, and fashion sense. Plus, he’s hot. He’s doing something really interesting, something that I think would work as a discussion topic in my gay lit class next quarter. We won’t be reading any recent gay literature, so maybe I’ll show them a couple of Cazwell’s videos and use them to start a conversation about twenty-first century gay male identities, politics, and sexuality.

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Weekend in Cleveland, Part 1 Tuesday, Nov 13 2007 

PJ and I spent the weekend in Cleveland. He was giving a paper at the Midwest Modern Language Association, and I tagged along for fun. Two of our friends drove up with us — one of them was also giving a paper. It was a lot of fun to get out of Athens and celebrate the end of the quarter.

PJ and I had visited Cleveland once before; he gave a paper at the same conference six years ago. At the time, he was teaching in Michigan, so meeting up in Cleveland for a weekend was a fun way to see each other. This time, we revisited the restaurants and museums that we saw six years ago. It was interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t.

We arrived in Cleveland on Friday. Our friends were staying at a different hotel, so we dropped them off and then checked into our hotel, the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel. I forgot to take a picture of the hotel while we were there, so here’s a picture from the hotel’s website. I liked the hotel. Our room was spacious and clean. The bed was comfortable, and hooking up to the Internet was easy to do. After we checked in, we logged onto the Internet to see if there was anything in particular that we wanted to do on Friday night. While looking at a page that listed bars and entertainment opportunities, I found a couple of reviews of our hotel. I thought it was funny that one of the reviews complained that the hotel had been overrun by conference participants while they stayed there. I honestly never considered that “regular people” stay the same hotels where our conferences takes place. I can’t imagine some poor sap who accidentally gets a room during the MLA! They’d be surrounded by miserable job candidates lurking about in the hallways trying not to make eye contact with anyone! As a conference hotel, the Renaissance was just fine. We had no complaints.

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What I’m Listening To: Jill Scott Thursday, Nov 8 2007 

I can’t believe that Jill Scott‘s new album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3, came out in September and I forgot to buy it! I finally bought it yesterday and have been listening to it as much as possible ever since. Scott is one of my favorite artists, and I’ve loved all of her albums so far. This one is no exception.

Here’s the first video from the album, “Hate on Me:”

One of the things I like about Jill Scott’s music is its sexy wordiness. Her lyrics are definitely about adult experiences, desires, and relationships without being trashy. Take, for example, the lyrics to “Crown Royal:”

Your hands on my hips pull me right back to you, I
Catch that thrust give it right back to you, you’re
in so deep I’m breathing for you, you
Grab my braids arch my back high for you your
Diesel engine, I’m squirting mad oil ah
Down on the floor til my speaker starts to boil

I like that sings about having sex with the man she loves in such explicit terms. As one of her earlier songs asserted, she is not afraid to tell it like it is. She keeps it real. This is definitely an honest album.

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American Gangster: A Review Sunday, Nov 4 2007 

Yesterday I saw American Gangster, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Washington plays a Harlem drug lord, a real-life figure, Frank Lucas, who uses the caskets of dead soldiers from Vietnam to smuggle heroin into the country. He then sells it, undiluted, for less than other drug dealers sell their diluted drugs. Crowe plays the ethical cop, Richie Roberts, who is appointed to clean up the local drug problem by finding and bringing down the men, like Lucas, who control the drug trade.

It’s the first big Oscar contender (as defined by the various Oscar predictions sites that I read: The Oscar Igloo, Everything Oscar, Awards Daily, Oscar Race 2007, and The Envelope — ok, so I read a lot of Oscar blogs; I’m a gay man: what do you expect?!) that’s come to Athens. PJ and I try to see all of the Oscar contenders each year, and the race is now on.

I liked American Gangster. Washington is great in his role. I am a big fan of his early work — I love Glory and earlier this year PJ introduced me to St Elsewhere, which I had never watched before. He’s always good, even if the film he’s in isn’t, but he’s great in American Gangster. Lucas is both a level-headed businessman who loves his family and a cold-blooded psychopath whose fuse can blow in a split second. Washington handles both aspects of the role with aplomb. I especially liked that he doesn’t overact the violent moments. Even though the character is out of control in these scenes, Washington isn’t. Watching him in this movie is watching a master craftsman.

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