Keane’s Perfect Symmetry Thursday, Oct 30 2008 

Last week I was browsing iTunes looking for new music, as is my wont, and I came across Keane‘s new album, Perfect Symmetry. Three things immediately interested me about the album. First, my general musical tastes lately have run toward British music — Annie, Adele, Amy, Duffy, and Paulo. Second, I had recently noticed a couple of reviews of the album, which stated that it has an 80’s sound. Generally speaking, I love 80’s music. And finally, more than one reviewer has noted that this album suddenly sounds a bit like a British version of The Killers. Since The Killers is one of my favorite bands, I appreciate that comparison.

So, I thought I’d give it a try. So, I went to YouTube to see the video for the first single, “Spiralling.” Here it is:

I immediately loved the sound and look of this video. This definitely isn’t the Keane that I remember ad nauseum on Vh1 singing “Somewhere Only We Know,” a song I didn’t really care for. I like the 80’s style video, and the music is definitely to my taste.

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Visiting the Henry Ford Museum Sunday, Oct 26 2008 

Last week while we were in Michigan, PJ and I also visited the Henry Ford Museum. I’ll admit that I wasn’t exactly thrilled when PJ picked it for a stop on our way back home. I wasn’t really excited by the thought of looking at a bunch of cars. It turns out that the museum has a lot more to offer than just cars — but even they are worth a visit. I ended up really enjoying the museum.

One of the first exhibits you see in the museum is this one:

This is the car in which President Kennedy was sitting when he was assassinated in 1963. It’s kind of startling to see it — especially after PJ and I had been to Dallas and the Sixth Floor Museum last year. What’s even more startling is to learn that the government kept using the car as a presidential limousine for several years after the assassination.

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Visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts Tuesday, Oct 21 2008 

Late last week, PJ and I drove up to Rochester, Michigan. I gave a paper at the International Conference on Romanticism, which seemed to go well. I certainly accomplished what I had hoped to accomplish with the paper. And I’m looking forward to completing work on the article-length version of the paper and submitting it for publication soon. Since PJ lived up there during the year before he joined me in Ohio, he was also interested in seeing his former home and colleagues.

While we were there, we also visited the Detroit Institute of Arts, which is a great museum in downtown Detroit near the Wayne State University campus. The first thing we saw at the museum was the Monet to Dali special exhibit. It took PJ only a few minutes to recognize that the works in this collection seemed familiar and why: they are from the Cleveland Museum of Art, which has loaned out the exhibit while it completes its remodelling.

Despite our having already seen this collection, we nevertheless enjoyed seeing them again. I especially like Édouard Vuillard‘s painting “Cafe Wepler:”

I can especially relate to this painting now that I’ve been to Paris. This work reminds me of the lazy hustle and bustle (if that’s not too paradoxical a concept) of a Parisian cafe in the late afternoon. I also love the color contrasts in this painting, the golden yellows of the walls and ceiling with the reds, whites, and blacks, of the interior and floor. It probably goes without saying, though I’ll say it anyway, but the painting looks even more alive and vibrant in person.

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Cat Tuesday: What They’re Really Saying Tuesday, Oct 14 2008 

I came across this set of YouTube videos a couple of weeks ago. The first one is the “real” video; the second one translates what the two cats are saying.

And now the translation ….

Dead Until Dark: A Review Sunday, Oct 12 2008 

Today I finished reading Charlaine Harris‘s Dead Until Dark, the novel on which the HBO series True Blood is based. I love the series, so I thought that I would read the book. It turns out that I love the book too!

My experience with reading vampire fiction is rather limited. I think I’ve only read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a few Anne Rice novels, and Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories. I’ve been wanting to read some didn’t know what to start with. I’d also like to find some good gay vampire fiction, but I’m worried that it all just be too cheesy. What I like best about Dead Until Dark is that it’s dark, sexy, and fun without being cheesy (or at least when it is a little cheesy, it admits it!).

Dead Until Dark introduces us to Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in a small Louisiana town who happens to be able to hear other people’s thoughts. When a vampire named Bill walks into the bar in which she works, Sookie is immediately fascinated by him. In the world of Dead Until Dark, vampires have “come out of the coffin” and mingle openly among humans. This has been made possible by a Japanese drink of synthetic blood that keeps vampires alive without the need for human blood.

When Sookie saves Bill from being drained by two local dealers (vampire blood is  an aphrodisiac and stimulant for humans), she and Bill embark on an unusual and sometimes difficult relationship. Making this relationship all the more complicated is the suspicion that Bill may be involved in the brutal murders of local women, each of whom have had sex with a vampire recently.

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Donna Brazile Is Amazing Wednesday, Oct 8 2008 

This video of Donna Brazile speaking recently about race in American politics today. She is simply amazing.

I too want the best. I too want the brightest. I too want somebody to take us where we’ve never been as a country. I agree that we’ve been too stuck in the past, but I’m really hopeful that we can move forward. I hope that the next month is about ideas, about inspiration and strength of character, because if they are then Barack Obama will be our next president.

I can barely imagine how proud and excited I will be if our country does move forward and elects Obama on November 4th. Like most Democrats I know, the more hopeful I get that we’re going to win this election, the more nervous I become that it will all be taken away. We are living in a historical moment. I really hope that we as a nation reach forward and grasp that history. (And I hope that in eight years we elect the first female president — if not Hillary, then some other Democratic woman.) I’m so excited that inside I’m screeching like Howard Dean after the Iowa caucases in 2004!

Let’s go forward!

Cat Tuesday: Henri Tuesday, Oct 7 2008 

For almost a year now, I’ve been intending to add a little cat blogging to This Gaudy Gilded Stage. Paisley’s snack last week reminded me of this. So, I thought that I would give it a try and see how long it lasts.

I wrote over the summer that PJ and I were watching French movies, mostly ones starring Louis Garrel. This YouTube clip reminds me of the best of those movies. Henri looks a little like our cat Marlowe, but Marlowe has an entirely different outlook on life….

Boy’s Life 6: A Review Monday, Oct 6 2008 

Last week, PJ and I watched Boy’s Life 6, a dvd of four short gay films: “Bugcrush,” “Doorman,” “Davy & Stu,” and “Heartland.” All four of the films have something to recommend them, but the best–by far– is the first, “Bugcrush.”

“Bugcrush” is about a high school kid named Ben, played by Josh Caras (pictured here), who immediately becomes fascinated with the new, mysterious guy at school, Grant, played by Donald Cumming. When Grant invites Ben over to his house one evening, the mysterious becomes increasingly suspenseful and terrifying.

This 37-minute short film was directed by Carter Smith and is based on a short story by Scott Treleaven. I really like what he does with this movie. As the film progresses, the video and audio sometimes become non-synchronous. In other works, you hear what’s happening before you see it. This really adds to the suspense. Ultimately, this is an unsettling movie, but it’s really well done.

You can watch “Bugcrush” on Logo Online. I highly recommend it. The film also has a really great website. It’s worth a visit too.

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Visiting the Taft Museum of Art Sunday, Oct 5 2008 

Yesterday, PJ and I drove over to Cincinnati to hang out with our friend James, who was attending the North American Conference on British Studies. While there, we visited the Taft Museum of Art, pictured here.

The Taft Museum was founded by Anna Sinton Taft, who, according to the museum’s website, “lived in the mansion with her husband Charles Phelps Taft from 1873 until their respective deaths in 1931 and 1929.”

PJ and I have developed quite a fondness for house museums. In the past couple of years we have visited the Frick Collection, the Morgan Library and Museum, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Sir John Soane’s Museum. There’s something both fascinating and garish about the wealth that enabled these people to amass such collections. We feel both grateful to them and kind of grossed out by them. (At least I feel that way — I don’t want to speak for PJ.)

I’ll write about a few of my favorite works in the Taft Museum after the break ….

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Paisley’s Snack Wednesday, Oct 1 2008 

Yesterday, PJ and I found a beautiful praying mantis on our garage. I’ve never seen one this big this closely.

We hoped that it would stay where it was until the cats came in — Paisley has a fondness for insects as a mid-evening snack. Unfortunately, it didn’t stay on the garage. About a half-hour later, PJ noticed that Paisley was in the backyard “playing” with the praying mantis. He tried to get her away from it before she killed it or did any irrevocable harm, but she knew what he was trying to do and decided to keep it in her mouth until he brought her in for the night.

Paisley then proceeded to dismember and eat it. She was a little baffled by the head and forearms for a while. Even when everything else was gone, she was convinced that the arms were getting her. After a little hockey game in which she used the head and arms as the puck, she ate them.

I didn’t take a picture of Paisley’s actual snacking, but there’s one more pic after the break of the mantis on our garage.

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