SotW: “Handsome Man” by Matt Alber Wednesday, Oct 1 2014 

This just might be the sexiest video ever!

“Non-Love-Song”: A Review Thursday, Aug 28 2014 

If I were teaching my Lesbian and Gay Lit class this term I would show my students this 2009 short film, “Non-Love Song” written and directed by Erik Gernand

I think this short beautifully captures the experience of many young gay men: king of having an unrequited crush on your best friend and trying to let him know how you feel and who you really are while worrying about what would happen if he knew you were gay. At least that’s how I interpret the film — some viewers argue that straight guys have the same interactions. But I think the part where Josh asks what would happen if they meet up again in a few months and they’re different suggests the character’s anxiety about coming out and whether Alex will still be his friend. His defensiveness about Alex’s use of words like queer, faggoty, and gay further reflects this, I think. As does Alex’s assertion, “I know” when Josh tells him how much it bothers him. I think the emotion on the actor’s face when Josh asks, “Do you understand?” is especially poignant. 

I also like how the grittiness of the cinematography and some of the jumpy editing reflects the nervousness of the main character.  

And Alex’s line, “You won’t be different. Not to me” is just perfect. 

 

Test: A Review Wednesday, Aug 27 2014 

Recently, PJ and I watched Test, written and directed by Chris Mason Johnson and starring Scott Marlowe and Matthew Risch. Set in 1985, it tells the story of the early days of HIV testing through the eyes of Frankie, a gay modern dancer in San Francisco. Here’s the trailer: 

AIDS movies can often seem cliched and preachy. What I like most about this film is that it avoids the preachiness while still getting it’s point across. While it isn’t a perfect film — I’m not sure it entirely captures the look of the early 1980s — it is nevertheless an excellent one. It really conveys the fear and indecision that marked the early AIDS crisis and testing in an era in which testing positive was usually a death sentence. Frankie explores such questions as whether an HIV diagnosis be misused to discriminate against gay men and whether gay men should stop having sex — was it even possible to stop having sex — in order to preserve their lives. I thought the dance scenes were also quite good, and there’s a little man-on-man action to spice it up a bit. 

I really liked this film and think it could easily make it onto my top ten films of the year. I highly recommend it. 

SotW: “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran Tuesday, Aug 26 2014 

This summer I’ve clearly listened to more male solo artists than I usually do. While many of these have been gay (Adam Joseph, Sam Smith, and Eli Lieb), some have also been straight. Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” is one of my favorite songs right now. Here’s a live version:

I love the sentiment and romance of this song. While the latter part are more particular to Sheeran’s experience as a musician, overall the song is universal is expressing love for that someone special. I especially like the lyric about falling in love every day. That’s definitely how I feel about PJ! 

 

SotW: “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith Monday, Aug 11 2014 

Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour has rapidly become one of my favorite albums of the year. He recently released his latest video, “I’m Not the Only One.” This is one of my favorite tracks on the album, and I think the video is hauntingly beautiful:

 

SotW: “Square One” by Jay Brannan Monday, Jul 28 2014 

How did I not know that Jay Brannan has released a new album? It came out a couple of weeks ago. “Square One” is his new single/video:

I bought it/downloaded it last week and am really enjoying it!

Quote/Unquote: Early Novelists Wednesday, Jul 23 2014 

As I read Penelope Aubin‘s 1723 novel The Life of Charlotta Du Pont, an English lady; taken from her own memoirs, it’s probably good to remember this quote:

We can’t help it that we are twentieth-century readers, of course, any more than Defoe can help it that he is a figure dyed in Restoration, Puritan, and London wool, but we are better off noting our own presentist limits and admitting the historical prominence of the feature. The didacticism of Aubin, Davys, Richardson, both Fieldings, Rowe, Lennox, MacKenzie, Burney, and even Sterne poses essentially the same problem for us as does that of Defoe. Attempts to rescue writers by making them more urbane, “modern,” or “universal”–Richardson for his clinical interest in feminine consciousness, female sensibility, and the psychopathology of rape and other coercions; Sterne for his wit, humor, and bawdry–seem ultimately a dooming strategy. Their texts are still going to show where they stand, and their heavy hands on our shoulders are not going to go away. To read Sterne or Richardson without the didacticism is to read a deformed novelist, one missing crucial parts. It is easy enough to read any eighteenth-century novelist for something else and find the text palatable in spite of the unfortunate didacticism, but such selective reading is perverse and destines writers to a short life of fashion. Many early novelists traditionally left out of the canon–Jane Barker, for example, or Sarah Scott–would find their rightful place in literary history if critics could suspend their disbelief long enough to embrace the didactic rhetoric in their books and see their accomplishments both as units of discourse and as novelistic wholes. (J. Paul Hunter, Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction, p. 56)

Most critics dismiss Aubin’s novels due to their didactic emphasis on morality and virtue, but Hunter reminds us that such didacticism is a cultural product that should be a central part of our study of such works. Rather than dismissing or ignoring it, we should treat it with the same level of respectful analysis that we would give to any other element of an eighteenth-century novel. I’ll try to put that advice to practice as I write about Aubin in the coming months!

SotW: “Queen” by Perfume Genius Tuesday, Jul 22 2014 

Perfume Genius has a new album coming out and has just released its first single: “Queen.”

Can’t wait to hear the rest of the record!

2013 in Review: Favorite Songs/Tracks Thursday, Feb 6 2014 

Finally, I’m ready to list my favorite songs, singles, and tracks from 2013. Since I ended up with 25 again, I will probably only discuss the first few briefly and then list the rest. Basically, I primarily liked two kinds of songs in 2013: ones I heard on Alt-Nation and gay ones!

1. “Royals” by Lorde 

I didn’t anticipate choosing “Royals” as my favorite song of 2013 until just the last week or so. Anyone of my top ten could have been my favorite, but what distinguished this one is that I’m constantly singing it in my head. It’s the one song that has stuck with me the most from last year.

2. “Another Story” by The Head and the Heart 

I’ve loved this song since I first heard it. I’m not totally sure what I think it means, but I enjoy it nevertheless. This acoustic version really foregrounds how beautiful it is.

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2014 in Review: Concerts Wednesday, Feb 5 2014 

PJ and I didn’t go to a lot of concerts in 2014, but we did go to three that are worth remembering.

In May, we attended the annual Nelsonville Music Festival, which is a wonderful local three-day festival of national acts, some of them up and coming, others nearer the end of their careers, and everything in between. Last year featured Lucius, Wilco, Mavis Staples, and lots more! Here’s a video I found on YouTube that samples the three days of music:

We also saw Natalie Merchant in Columbus. She’s been touring for the last couple of years and performing with local orchestras. PJ adores her, and after seeing her repeatedly I have to agree that she’s amazing in concert. Here’s a video from another stop on the same tour:

“Verdi Cries” is my favorite of Merchant’s songs, and it really works well with an orchestra accompanying her.

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