SotW: Better Be Good to Me Thursday, Feb 26 2009 

An oldie, but goodie, Tina Turner’s “Better Be Good to Me” is my song of the week:

I had my iPod on shuffle while driving back from Portsmouth this afternoon, and this great song came on. It’s quintessential Tina: self-empowerment, sex, and rock. I’ll post the lyrics after the break.

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Favorite Films of 2008 Wednesday, Feb 25 2009 

I’ve been too busy lately to post, but in honor of the Oscars on Sunday I thought I would finally list my favorite movies of 2008. Some of them I’ve been able to write about already; others are only going to get a quick mention here. I wish I had more time to write all of the posts I want to write. Maybe once this quarter is over I’ll have more time.

My favorite movie of 2008 is Gus Van Sant’s Milk. I blogged about it previously. I love the politics of this movie and its call for the gay community to organize and fight for our rights. I also love Sean Penn’s performance especially. His Oscar for Best Actor was certainly well deserved.

My second favorite movie of 2008 is Les Chanson d’Amour. I love this movie and it’s quickly become one of my favorite films of all time. First off, I love musicals. Second, I love Louis Garrel. And finally, I love this movie’s queer plot. I blogged about it here.

Slumdog Millionaire is my third favorite film of the year. I love this movie’s love story and optimism that contrasts with the deplorable living conditions its characters find themselves in. Dev Patel is especially good as Jamal, the poor, uneducated slumdog who competes so well on a gameshow that he is accused of cheating. The romance is total fantasy, but I enjoyed the modern-day fairy tale element of the film. I would have voted for Milk for Best Picture and Director if I had had the chance, but I’m glad Slumdog Millionaire won. It’s a great, enjoyable movie. Here’s the trailer:

Number Four on my list is Brideshead Revisited, a movie that most people didn’t like. But I thought it did really well with Evelyn Waugh’s novel, which is a difficult one to adapt into a movie. I blogged about this movie as part of my summer movie round-up.

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SotW: Never Had Nobody Like You Wednesday, Feb 18 2009 

The song of the week for this week is M. Ward’s “Never Had Nobody Like You,” which is from his new album, Hold Time, which came out yesterday:

When I saw the album on iTunes, I didn’t know that M. Ward sings with  Zooey Deschanel on one of PJ’s favorite albums from last year (She & Him’s Volume 1–Deschanel is “She” and Ward is “Him”), but I saw that she and Lucinda Williams sing on the album and that Conor Oberst helped bring him to popular attention. So, knowing that these are some of PJ’s favorite artists, I figured there was a good chance that he would like Hold Time — or at the very least would like to have it. So, I bought it for him.

Once I started listening to the album myself, I quickly fell in love with “Never Had Nobody Like You.” Some of the lyrics, especially those of the third verse, perfectly sum up what I’ve felt over the past week or so.

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Happy Valentine’s Day Saturday, Feb 14 2009 

I thought I would celebrate Valentine’s Day by quoting a short passage from W. H. Auden’s “The Common Life.” This poem has long been a special one for me. Today it’s a reminder of what Valentine’s Day is all about for me, a celebration of the common life one builds with someone special.

My favorite excerpt is from the middle of the poem:

…………………. What draws
singular lives together in the first place,
loneliness, lust, ambition,

or mere convenience, is obvious, why they drop
or murder one another
clear enough: how they create, though, a common world
between them, like Bombelli’s

impossible yet useful numbers, no one
has yet explained. Still, they do
manage to forgive impossible behavior,
to endure by some miracle

conversational tics and larval habits
without wincing (were you to die,
I should miss yours). ………….

How two people come together and create a “common world” is amazing. That it can be sustained for years at a time is almost incomprehensible. Yet, somehow I’ve managed to do both with someone I love very much. I’m tremendously lucky.

I also love the poem’s final lines:

……………………  though truth and love
can never really differ, when they seem to,
the subaltern should be truth.

Song of the Week: Lucky Tuesday, Feb 10 2009 

Jason Mraz‘s We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things was one of my favorite albums last year. This duet with Colbie Caillat is one of the standout tracks on the album. In honor of Valentine’s Day this Saturday, I’ve selected “Lucky” as my song of the week.

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10 Toys that Made You Gay Monday, Feb 9 2009 

I this this video is hilarious. I even showed it to my English Gay & Lesbian Writers class today as part of a discussion of the nature versus nurture debate.

The only one of the toys that I had was My Little Buddy:

I think My Little Buddy was meant to lure me away from dolls and Barbies, but it didn’t work. As you can see from the following picture of me dressed for Halloween, my fondness for Barbies was deeply ingrained:

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Here, Now & Me + 1 Month Sunday, Feb 8 2009 

At the beginning of the year, I proclaimed 2009 to be the year of “Here, Now, and Me.” Now that the first month of this project has come and gone, it seems like a good time for a mini-assessment of how it’s going so far.

First off, it’s been really good having a theme for the year. It’s given me an immediate gauge to help me decide whether I’m going in the right direction or getting off track. All I have to do is ask myself two simple questions:

  1. Is thinking about or doing X, Y, or Z living in the here and now? and
  2. Is X, Y, or Z what I really want?

For example, I was recently faced with the option of maybe applying for a new position. Even before the opportunity arose, I was giving it a lot of thought. At that point, I reminded myself to live in the here and now and not in the vague future that this opportunity might present if it all worked out. Once the opportunity did (at least theoretically) come along, I asked myself if it was really what I wanted to spend my time doing. Would doing that job really be my passion. It could be someday or in the right circumstances, but for right now it isn’t. Once I came to that realization, I felt really good about ignoring the opportunity. I could see changing my mind at some point, but for right now I’m happy with the decision I’ve made.

Having a theme so far this year has also helped me make a couple of other decisions. I’m currently the secretary for our Faculty Senate. This year I’m up for reelection to the senate and, if I want, to the secretary position. The past couple of weeks have been full of meetings and other responsibilities associated with my position in the senate. I enjoy doing this work, and I like being a part of things and knowing what’s really going on. But I started to feel that I need to reassess how much time it takes to do this job. So, I started thinking through my two questions and decided that I don’t think I want to run for reelection as secretary or as a senator. I’ve done my part. Now it’s time for someone else to do this work. It’s not where my real interests and passions are.

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Song of the Week: End of the World Thursday, Feb 5 2009 

Several of the gay-oriented blogs that I read have been all abuzz over Matt Alber‘s “End of the World.” I had taken a quick glance at it late last year on Logo, but I clearly didn’t give it much of a chance. I think my first impression was that he sounds too much like Rufus Wainwright.

After seeing three or four blogs about it, I decided I should really watch the video and see what everyone was going on about. It’s a beautifully romantic one in the style of Mad Men, as one blog put it:

I’m glad I did, because now I love this song and have downloaded Alber’s recent album, Hide Nothing, which I really like too. (The album has an acoustic version of “End of the World” that I love even more!) Once I’ve listened to it a little more I hope to write a review of it. And for the record, the more I listen to Alber’s music, the less he sounds like Rufus! I’ve copied the lyrics to this song, which I found here, after the break.

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Hottie of the Month: Daniel Defoe Wednesday, Feb 4 2009 

On Monday I finished teaching Daniel Defoe‘s Roxana, his 1724 novel about a woman who exchanges sex for money. (As my students pointed out, it’s difficult to call her a prostitute, since she never sells her body directly; she’s always a kept mistress.)

Defoe was, of course, one of the great early English novelists. In some ways, his works, including Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders were seminal in creating the novel as a genre. His life is also interesting. A Whig, Defoe was able to write politically motivated prose works while maintaining his government position regardless of whether the administration in power was Whig or Tory. In many ways, he was very much a modern man.

I have admit that my memory of reading Roxana turned out to be more pleasurable than the actual practice of reading it. I first read the novel in the first graduate seminar I took in 1992 at Texas A&M University, one on the eighteenth-century novel. I loved the class, and my memory was that I really enjoyed the novel.

I should have thought twice about this memory when I recalled that I also have fond memories of reading Samuel Richardson‘s Sir Charles Grandison, a novel that I’ve published on but that also doesn’t get easier to read with subsequent efforts. (But my memory of it is still very positive; I just don’t want to read it over and over again.)

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