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Hackney Downs by IanMH
Hackney Downs, a photo by IanMH on Flickr.
Saturdays in our flat have become "Pancake Saturday". My boyfriend has mixed feelings about this as he's the Pancake Master. I like to say on Friday night things like "I can't wait for Pancake Saturday tomorrow." Or, "I notice we have bananas and blueberries - Pancake Saturday is going to be extra special tomorrow."

In the morning, he'll try a "you do the coffee then." I'll smile, hit the coffee maker's button and go sit on the sofa. I prepare the coffee maker the night before, you see.

I love nothing more than BBC Radio 6 on a Saturday morning, a copy of the London Review of Books and the smell of pancakes frying in the kitchen. Yesterday, I read in the LRB a review of a Nijinsky biography. About his famed beauty, the choreographing of the Rite of Spring, the ensuing succès de scandale, his madness… before I knew it, I had disappeared into a search through YouTube footage and Tumblr photos.

In the evening, we met my friend Vini Bambimi in Stoke Newington for some drinks at the Three Crown and a spot of dancing downstairs, in The Waiting Room. It was a 90s night - a 90s I'd forgotten about. Utah Saints more exhilarating than Elastica; Hole instead of Nirvana (very popular with the attendees, I'll tell ya); the unfairly neglected Urban Cookie Collective.

It was a LGBT night too. The crowd was mostly young but one or two oldies were also on the dancefloor. It was a good mix.

The Waiting Room

Next Friday night is 80s night - I'm thinking of checking it out with [ profile] millionreasons. (We are going to some birthday drinks in Bloomsbury beforehand and I'm planning on dragging her to the club afterwards.)

It's a very small space - the kind that would elicit many casualties if a stampede broke out. But it has that thing Electric Dreams doesn't have - a dance floor without bright lights straight in your face. Also doesn't take long to get a drink from the bar.

This morning, the boyfriend made an omelette and hashbrowns to go with the croissants we bought on the way home last night from the 24-hour bagel shop on Stoke Newington High Street. We then took the 425 bus to Clapton, where we met Vini Bambini again for a 5K run through Hackney Downs, London Fields, Broadway Market, Regent's Canal and Victoria Park.

I wish I had an Agatha Christie to watch tonight.

Madder Rose

Aug. 5th, 2013 01:02 pm
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Troglodyte RoseTroglodyte Rose by Adam Lowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recently stumbled upon this novel in Wattpad, where it's available for free as a novella. I was drawn to it because it was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, an award that celebrates "the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year".

Troglodyte Rose is a sci-fi that feels like a mesh between Mad Max and Tank Girl. It's written in short, psychedelic sentences, mostly through the eyes of a young woman, Rose, who lives in an apocalyptic underworld with her lover Flid, an intersex (hermaphrodite) referred to in the text with the gender-neutral pronoun "per" (borrowed from Margaret Piercy's "Woman on the Edge of Time".)

Rose and Flid are addicted to a drug that blurs reality and fantasy, and their lives are centred on stealing this drug while also dreaming of one day escaping to the overground. They nonchalantly save four princesses from a nearby world early on and the princesses join them in their robberies. Like most dystopias, this one has its monsters that keep the population in check: the Justicars hunt down anyone perceived to have committed a crime and are terrifying creatures nearly impossible to destroy. Soon, one of them is after Rose, Flid and the princesses.

This was an enjoyable, punchy read that left me wanting more. Some of its zest reminded me of Poppy Z. Brite's early novels. I look forward to whatever Adam Lowe comes up with next.

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There's this new thing on YouTube (or new to me?) where gay couples are filming themselves talking about their relationships, when they first met, etc. Quite interesting and cute at times, also a bit sickening. Perhaps not recommended for single gay men...

I kinda wish this sort of thing existed when I was a teenager. Reminds me of the whole "It Gets Better" some years ago - just that openness and normality that is important for all gay men and women out there to be reminded of. Glad this exists.

More of them.
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Parsons Green station by Ewan-M
Parsons Green station, a photo by Ewan-M on Flickr.
It's been years since anyone's thrown a homophobic remark at me. In fact, I can't remember the last time it happened. So I was really surprised last night when my boyfriend and I, as we'd come out of a corner shop with some wine, had a comment aimed at us by a group of guys.

We were on the same sidewalk as them so I stepped behind my boyfriend to give them way (there were three young guys followed by a couple - all in their early 20s). I got this strong feeling that they "spotted" us - their conversation stopped, they all looked at us. It happened very quickly - one of them said to me in a very effeminate way "oh hi honey, how are you" and made this move to touch me.

We just kept walking. My boyfriend didn't even hear very well what he said. As you can imagine, all sorts of scenarios started playing in my mind: that I said something back, that we got into an argument, that we got into a fight.

All in all, it was a tiny little incident. Nothing compared to what many people put up with everyday. I have a gay friend who is harassed all the time; even had someone punch him in the face once for no reason and then walk away (right in Piccadilly, with tons of people around.) And when I hear of what some guys have said to my girlfriends...

Living in the East End, you'd think I'd get this annoying stuff all the time, what with marauding Muslim gangs supposedly controlling my area, but it's never even crossed my mind. I was starting to forget I was gay! There are more and more gay people living in the East End, and this has made "us" feel more visible and part of a silent community - a group that doesn't need to feel so displaced and alone when in public (though I've also heard that homophobic attacks are on the rise here exactly because of this community's growth.)

We were in Parson's Green last night, a posh bit of West London. The home I would imagine of people with good education, who are past this sort of stuff. But I suppose young and dumb white males will always be themselves?! I felt after this encounter like everyone we walked past was a giant asshole. And very straight. The whole rah rah crowd thing.

I've been thinking since then what it must be like to get this sort of harassment fairly regularly. Either you grow a tough skin or… I don't know. What do you do with that rage and sense of unfairness inside of you?
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The Song of AchillesThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this to be a beautiful and touching retelling of the mythological love between Achilles and his faithful companion Patroclus, from their first meeting as boys into their adulthood. Miller, an Ancient Greece scholar, poured into the novel all that is known about their lives and the roles they played in the Trojan War (as told in Homer's Iliad), with a bit of creative imagination thrown into the mix. Her style is very light, full of similes that evoke the period and the gods and entities that walked the land. She tells the story through Patroclus' eyes and by the end, as the Trojan war comes to life, you can't stop reading out of fear for what could happen to these characters you've grown to know and like.

Mary Renault, who also specialised in same-sex love stories (most famously the trilogy about Alexander the Great and Hephaestion's love) would have adored this novel. Maybe Miller is her natural successor? They are both fascinated by a long gone time when a man's love for another wasn't a problem as long as his duties to family and country were attended to. In Miller's novel you also get the added benefit of fantastical figures walking among men as portents of victories or disasters, or sometimes simply because they love too much the mortals they are bound to and can't escape them. This is Ancient Greece after all and tragedy is never too far away.

Teen girls have the fantastical creatures in "Twilight" to keep them up at night. Teen gay boys now have "The Song of Achilles", except that this is a very well written story that should please everyone, of all ages. I dare anyone not to be moved by the final page and I'm already playing cast director in my mind as to who should play these characters in the film version (which, if Zeus is fair, should already be in pre-production.)

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Lana Wachowski - one half of the siblings that made The Matrix trilogy and the upcoming Cloud Atlas film - receives a Human Rights award for being a visible and positive LGBT role model. Her speech is funny, smart and moving - really worth watching the whole thing:

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Leigh Bowery by James Birkbeck
Leigh Bowery, a photo by James Birkbeck on Flickr.
I wrote this huge post this morning about Leigh Bowery, Romo music in the 90s, the band Minty, going to see Boy George's musical "Taboo" last night with [ profile] naturalbornkaos, getting inside a party with him for the launch of Grand Marnier's brand experience The Bubble and much more... then bloody Flickr ate my post! I lost everything.

Don't know if I can be bothered to write it again. Here's a photo of Grand Marnier's Bubble on the roof of the Brixton Clubhouse (which also houses "Taboo".) The sun is about to set and [ profile] naturalbornkaos and I are inside it with bloggers and party hostesses, being filmed and getting tipsy on free cocktail drinks:

I don't like musicals and "Taboo" didn't really change my mind. It was nice to see Boy George so close (he introduced it and explained that it was just a dress rehearsal and things might go wrong) and spot the 80s references on stage (no wonder the musical bombed in the US - it's so English-centric.)

The guy who played Leigh Bowery stole the show. Was surprised to learn later that it's a contestant from The Voice UK!

Plans to visit Hampstead's Ponds today have been scuppered. Might do it Monday or Tuesday if weather allows. Latest plan is to visit Edvard Munch's exhibition at the Tate and do the whole shebang: full price entry, electronic guided tour, cappuccino in the bar.

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Apr. 27th, 2012 11:21 am
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You can tell they're gonna go home to some hot, hot sex.
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Robinson CrusoeRobinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's hard to believe this is the first novel in the English language. It still feels very modern - to the point where I wondered how much of it was plundered by the writers of the TV show LOST. It was also the first book I ever read on an ebook, which I thought was nicely symmetrical.

A young sailor and adventurer ends up on a deserted island after a storm catches his boat as he returns to England from "the Brazils". He's already an experienced adventurer by this stage - having escaped captivity in Africa as a young man, set up his own plantation in South America and crossed the Atlantic Ocean a few times. After a dose of initial good luck (his shipwrecked boat is not too far in the water and he can salvage quite a few useful items), he settles down to survival and exploration of the island.

It's written as a memoir, probably based on the real experiences of a sailor in the 1600s. Because the voice is so convincing and attentive to the details of the experience, suspense is notched up and intensified as one obstacle after another appears in Crusoe's life. (Did Defoe invent the Adventure Genre?) It's also a fascinating read if you put on your post-colonial/queer lit glasses: Crusoe goes into some length about the slave trade and the differences between Africans and natives in the Americas; and he also develops a passionate and intense love for a captive he saves - Friday - that stands at odds with his complete lack of mention or desire for any women. Well, after more than twenty years on a deserted island, would you say no to a young, beautiful man whose life you save and who worships you? (This could be, though, Defoe's way of also reflecting the very well known habit of sailors having love affairs with other men because of so much time spent without any women around.)

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Do you follow any web series?  Are there any you'd like to recommend? I'm looking forward to [ profile] oatmeal_texas' upcoming "Boyfriend Material", which he's just announced.  He helpfully linked to three other gay web series in his blog, which are all worth checking out.

Jack In A Box:

Two Jasperjohns:

It Gets Betterish:

Who needs television, eh?

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