Sunday, August 31, 2003

Arnie says Oui

When evidence surfaced this week at of the frisky antics of his youth, Arnold Schwarzenegger calmly proclaimed that he hadn't lived his life to be a politician. However, by the responses in the interview he conducted with Oui (the adult mag which Paker Posey's Connie, the "friendly skies" stewardess passes on to Laura Linney's Mary-Ann in Tales Of The City) in 1977, it’s clear his drug and sexual history would make any Kennedy proud.

The interview is quite the read, with Arnie discussing such topics as his recreational use of marijuana, sex before competition, penis size, being “exploited” by women purely because they are interested in his physique, and gym gang bangs (as one does in the gym in between work outs). As for his response to the question, "Do you get freaked out by being in such close contact with men in the gym?" Schwarzenegger replied:

"Not at all. When I was playing soccer at the age of 14, the first thing we'd do before going out onto the field would be to climb up on one another's thighs and massage the legs; it was a regular thing. None of us had a thought of being gay, absolutely not, and it's the same with bodybuilders. Men shouldn't feel like fags just because they want to have nice-looking bodies. Another thing: Recently I posed for a gay magazine, which caused much comment. But it doesn't bother me. Gay people are fighting the same kind of stereotyping that bodybuilders are: People have certain misconceptions about them just as they do about us. Well, I have absolutely no hang-ups about the fag business; though it may bother some bodybuilders, it doesn't affect me at all."

He commented Wednesday that he is against gay (or should that be fag) marriage, but favours domestic partnerships, as marriage is meant to be between a Mahn unt Vuu-mahn.
Publicity whores

By now, I presume everyone has seen, read or heard about the outrageous opening number performed by Madonna, Britney and Christina at the MTV Video Awards? (Channel Ten repeated footage of it at least 5 times during its hour-long news broadcast.)

For those who haven’t, this is what happened…
Britney emerged from an enormous white wedding cake in a wedding dress and veil. After Britney sang several verses from "Like a Virgin," Christina came out and picked up the vocals. Madonna then descended from the cake, dressed in black (as the groom, I presume) and singing "Hollywood". The whole performance culminated with Britney kissing Mads, who then turned and delivered one to Christina. Missy Elliot was in the girl-mix as well, but she was all but forgotten by the upstaging antics of the other three.

As MTV put it:
Anyone who's ever questioned Britney or Madonna's acting abilities should reconsider. Not only did the ladies show off some blood-pressure-raising moves, their kisses were nothing like the infamous mouth mush between Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley and far more like something from late-night Cinemax.

For a blow-by-blow account of the opening number and the rest of the awards show, MTV has its own synopsis.
To download the performance, go to this Britney fansite.

In news surrounding the performance, LA's KTLA-TV reported that Britney allegedly rinsed with Listerine following the performance, likening the "open mouth, no tongue" to "kissing the NBA." *ouch*

Christina returned later in the show to perform a medley of "Dirrty" and "Fighter" from Stripped. Afterwards, host Chris Rock quipped, "You'll be hearing those songs at strip clubs for years to come". *miao*

Later, at the Maverick VMA After Party, which was attended by Britney, Christina wore a button on her jacket that said "I fucked Britney Spears".

Britney had strong reservations about the pash during rehearsals, which led Access Hollywood asking Christina later if she thought Britney needed to loosen up. Christina retorted, "Yeah but I think she needs to loosen up in general". *hiss*

Justin *sigh*, more diplomatically, said he was not shocked by the performance and that he liked it. He said, “it was sexy” and he “won’t take that away from anyone up there” (whatever that means). Justin also said the cameras were right there and as soon as Madonna and Britney kissed they just went in his face and that is the reason why he had a weird facial expression. Y'know, I even believe that.

I’m making an official statement. I love Christina.
Obladi Oblada
I must give a round of applause and super big thanks to Adrian. Yay! He did an awesome job with his daily postings (including linking a pornsite to the blog for the first time). I thoroughly enjoyed reading his entries and I, like many others, can’t wait to start reading about the Monkey’s daily spankings in the near future. He really showed dedication and talent to this medium, which I have always lacked. Anyway, with that said, I’m back with my (semi) regular writings, so I’m warning all of you now.

I’ve really enjoyed my last 2 weeks in Sydney. It’s been a bit hard to relax and unwind, but I’ve tried - you can give me an A for that. I’ve vegged out, watched a whole load of television (I had a marathon viewing of The Block, which my sister taped for me) and saw plenty of films (from ones I would recommend, like Identity and The Italian Job, to the celluloid abomination that is From Justin, To Kelly).

There’s no word still of when the exam result will come out. I’m praying that it will come this week – work is suppose to start on Monday week and it's conditional upon me passing by then. Good results or bad, I leave Sydney on Thursday morning.

Again, thanks for the work, Adrian. I'll let folks know when your blog swings into action.

Friday, August 29, 2003



Well, I think we're reaching the end. August is almost over, so it's about time to hand over the reins back to Keith and say goodbye to this blog and "all you wonderful people out there in the dark".

I must say, my respect for bloggers has increased a hundredfold. It's time-consuming, isn't it? And the ability to think in short form is a real skill. Thank you to those who offered insights on gay models, Arnie, Alexander the Great, dramatic representations of Hitler, sexuality and religion, and Pauline Hanson, and who offered kind advice and notes on issues such as online dating, hat-wearing, facials, and funerals.

I've had so much fun that I'm thinking of commencing my own blog. I still haven't figured out the title -- there are a few ideas floating around, and Keith has given me some ideas, too. We'll see.

Hmm, it would be appropriate to break off with some resounding witty one-liner, or a conclusive aphorism, or even a musical or Hollywood-style finish. Sunday in the Park with George? White, a blank page or canvas. His favourite. So many, no one will know what I'm talking about... We sail to history! No, no, that won't do. I'll be back! *groan* And now Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up...? Ooh, or how about Captain Kirk's final words in that magnum opus, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, just after Spock has sacrificed himself for the good of the crew and the Genesis Planet has come into existence. You'll have to imagine me delivering this line with excruciating pauses in between the words, and general overacting:

"Young...I feel...young!"

cheesy James Horner music swells as the scene shifts to the vast expanse of space, with all its possibilities

Thursday, August 28, 2003

The Colombian

The Colombian

Last night was fun. I had dinner with Keith, my friend Joe, and Joe's best friend at an Indian restaurant in Surry Hills. Joe impressed us all with his fluency in Hindi. Afterwards, Keith and I went to the Colombian, a bar on Oxford St., where as it happens a talent contest was taking place at the time. We saw a lady sing 'Cabaret', an oiled-up guy dance to a Britney Spears song, a mock fashion parade featuring two women with whips and dodgy German accents and two (presumably straight) guys dressed in frilly pink pyjamas, and finally another singer doing a fun rendition of 'Route 66'. Bar-hopping of any kind is unusual for both Keith and me, so this was a bit of an eye-opener for us.

I like the Colombian. It has a nice atmosphere, and the people are regular and down-to-earth. That includes the drag queens, who were out in force last night.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Online Dating

Online Dating

I am on a dating profile website.

Well, ok, technically speaking, the website isn't restricted to dating. It's designed to encourage both gays and lesbians to communicate and forge friendships from the privacy of their homes. The site has a chat function, updates its news service every few days, and offers a regular medical-advice column. So it ain't exactly To keep things fun (with the possibility open for cattiness), profiled people are able to rate each other on a scale from 1 to 10.

The thing is, I worry incessantly now about my rating, whether my profile is grammatically correct, and how easy it is for people to identify me from the photo I put up (the less obvious the better). Even worse, there's a guy who's been e-mailing me, on and off, for the past 3 spite of the fact that I've only contacted him twice during that time, and on both occasions have deliberately kept things impersonal. I'm not interested, but he persists with his advances. He's perfectly polite, but his behaviour seems vaguely stalkerish to me. What's disconcerting is that he lists "Asian men and boys" as his interests, and I'm not sure which category I'm supposed to fit into. He's also a good deal older than I am. I'm not sure what troubles me more: his online stalking or his potential infantilization of me. He lives in Sydney, and I am often in the area. As a friend pointed out, he may well be sending these e-mails to several people. Maybe it's just that I've seen plenty of those internet action and horror movies, like Sandra Bullock's The Net or the German schlockfest, Fatal Online Attraction. Has anyone else had this experience? What should I do?

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

The World of Suzie Wong

The World of Suzie Wong

In my overzealous rant at the latest surge of Hansonism, I neglected to mention a very important event that took place on the weekend: my baby nephew's Christening.

As my nephew's godfather, I was advised that I would be playing an important part in the ceremony. This worried me a little. My nephew was being christened a Catholic, and I have only a meagre knowledge of the Catholic traditions regarding baptism. What if I made a mistake, ruined my nephew's special day, and embarrassed myself in front of the entire congregation?

I needn't have worried. Eight babies were being christened during the same hour, including one set of twins. One large Philippino family had nine godparents (presumably, there was one for each day, and another two in reserve). The event was boisterous and unsystematic -- more like community service than a religious service. I have seen more babies than I care to ever again. Screaming, kicking, dribbling, gurgling. And that's just a description of the parents. I must say, though, that my nephew was the very model of restraint. He's really cute, too.

Yesterday, Keith and I had lunch and visited the new David Jones Food Hall, and for some reason we started to talk about tai tais, how they never do anything, and what they do to amuse themselves during a lifetime of spending their husbands' money. And then it dawned on us. Shopping, baby talk, facials. Am I turning into a tai tai? As Keith pointed out, I have to yet to find a husband/ benefactor -- or as I prefer to call it, "a patron of the arts" -- but in all other respects I fit the bill with alarming accuracy. I've always thought I was Carrie Bradshaw, but am I really just a latterday Suzie Wong?

Monday, August 25, 2003

Political Rant

Political Rant

Pauline Hanson has gone to prison. The public furore surrounding her case has been breathtaking. Within the past few days, she has ostensibly achieved a level of martyrdom akin to that of Socrates, Jesus, or Joan of Arc, a feat all the more remarkable because she's never been dead and, indeed, is still sufficiently alive to raise objections about her circumstances. There are people comparing her to Nelson Mandela (though no one has yet compared Nelson Mandela to her). Prison life is harsh, we're told. While innocents like Hanson are sentenced to three years, rich men like Rene Rivkin and Alan Bond spend only minimal time in prison for crimes from which they directly profited. Like a blocked prison toilet bowl, radio switchboards have been jammed with calls from outraged listeners demanding that Pauline's sentence be reduced. In an exclusive interview with Hanson's daughter last week, Ray Martin wondered whether Our Lady of Ipswich was at that moment watching them on tv. Gone are the days when prisons were Benthamite panopticons, when prisoners were kept in jail for the express purpose of being monitored; apparently now prisoners are meant to watch us.

As a politician, Hanson always relied more on the aura of her personality than on actual policies. (And what she called policies were generally fantasies, extravagant dream-wishes, rather than plans for an improved state. Remember her zero-tax policy?) Now that she's in prison, her supporters are able to envisage what they had hitherto denied. The image of her in prison has made manifest what abstract statistics had failed to make clear to them: that prison isn't a very nice place to live in at all. But in ongoing testament to Hanson's ability to make people focus on her persona rather than on her actual abilities as a politician, the media has taken up and run with the suggestion that she's a hapless innocent who has fallen prey to a malign, draconian institution. Note how journalists have this week insistently compared Hanson to specific individuals rather than relate her situation to common occurrence. The Mandelas, the Rivkins, the Bonds: it's a veritable coterie of lively figures, in the best tradition of a Charles Dickens novel. Journalists, moreover, have focused on bold, stark images of Hanson in prison. The Australian even printed a photo of her toenails.

While no one questions that Hanson has breached the law, several commentators have paradoxically suggested that the crime is of negligible importance, and that therefore no sentence, whether to prison or to community service, is necessary. And it's on this basis that Hanson's supporters argue her innocence. Significantly, little has been said by way of compassion for the many other men and women who are currently in prison, or to the possibility that, if Hanson has received an excessively harsh sentence, so might many others.

Of course prisons are terrible places. And of course prison life is tough. Why the surprise? If Hanson's sentence is excessive, then let it go to appeal and see what happens. The judicial system is working, and it's a measure of our civic state's functioning democracy that Hanson has been given a fair trial. Sadly, that doesn't always happen for everyone.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

You're so vain...

You're so vain...

I had my first ever facial yesterday.

Let no one ever tell you that facials are an indulgence, or that those who get facials are pampered. Make no mistake: during the hour-long treatment, the client is steamed, pricked, bled, pinched, and pumped. Age-old toxins embedded in the deep layers of your skin are induced to the surface; it's as though some ancient curse of the kind Borges might depict in one his short stories, has risen to take its toll on the present. Like the meat rack Rocky Balboa famously pummelled in preparation for his fight against Apollo Creed, I was submitted to an endless battering. Lying on the table with damp tissues covering my face, I began to compare myself to the Joker, whose face required reparative surgery after being scarred by acid. My face swelled into a red, bloodied, pulped mass -- more like the awkward result of a senior citizens papier mache class than of an hour of luxury. In addition to having your skin excoriated, the protective layers surrounding your self-esteem are successively stripped away by the little gamine whose job it is to criticize every aspect of your face. "I love popping blackheads," she told me, as she gleefully pounced with a pin on my raw epithelium.

I loved every minute of it, and plan to go back for the second phase of my treatment in two weeks.

Friday, August 22, 2003

The Road Home

The Road Home

Thanks for the comments, notes, and e-mails you've all been sending. And Fei Mou, I'm sorry to hear about your recent loss.

The funeral was yesterday. When we arrived at the chapel, my brother and I looked at all the red-eyed, swollen faces and were convinced that the service was going to be a really awful experience. But remarkably, everyone stayed in control -- my mum got through her eulogy, the babies in the congregation never bawled, the immediate family sniffed and sobbed, but there were no breakdowns, which I'd worried there would be. Perhaps most amazingly of all, my aunt's daughter remained rock-solid throughout; in the morning, she and her brother visited their mum and placed a red blanket (to keep her warm in the afterlife) on her. After the service, the cortege proceeded, as per Chinese tradition, from the chapel to my aunt's home (so that her spirit can return there one last time) and then to the cemetery, where we tossed flowers onto the coffin as it was lowered into the ground. It was a straightforward, unelaborate affair, in keeping with my aunt's general dislike of fuss. The congregation then went to Chatswood, where we had yum cha and toasted my aunt.

Some random points:

- the Chatswood wake included several cousins who barely knew my aunt, and who rarely turn up to any family events, but who always make time for free food.

- - my baby nephews are superstars. Whenever cousins and uncles and aunts have nothing to say to each other, they can always rely on the babies to gurgle and goo and smile, which is to say, to relieve the tension.

- questions I'd rather not be asked again: "Hi! How are you?" [er, this is a funeral...] "Have you gotten yourself a girlfriend yet?" "Where are you working now?" "So you're still at university?"

- conversations I'd rather not overhear: "So who do you think in the family is next to go?"

- I'm amazed by how many potential gays and lesbians there are in family. And they're so cool. One cousin, the spitting butch image of Lea DeLaria, turned up to the service dressed in a man's cream-coloured tux. Squat and stocky, and bearing a short-cropped hairdo, she walked up to me and punched my shoulder before plonking herself down on a pew, elbows leaning on her legs. Another cousin -- a naturopath-cum-muso -- brought her 'flatmate'. Whenever they were together, they looked like radiant and Willowesque. During the wake, I thought I could see my closeted lesbian aunt looking vaguely bitter that the younger generation seems to be having an easier time of things than she did (as a teen, she took off from Sydney and moved interstate, where she's been living with her partner for over forty years). But then that aunt always looks bitter, so it's hard to tell what exactly she was thinking at a particular point in time.

- my family isn't getting any younger. My brother and I were talking last night about the possibility of arranging a get-together with our cousins. Some of our cousins dislike my family because we went to a private school, and two of my siblings are doctors. The misconception that we're all a bunch of snobs isn't helped by the fact that my siblings who are doctors are, well, snobs. But I think people have finally begun to notice that my brother and I have been attending family events for several years now, and that we're interested in connecting up with the rest of our cousins. Who knows? When they work out that most of them make a lot more money than my brother and I ever will, maybe they'll even like us...

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Addressing all Potentials

Addressing all Potentials

Hello all. Keith and I had dinner yesterday, and it was fun catching up with each other after the crazy past month. While we were in Gloria Jean's on Oxford St, wallowing in our respective troubles, we spotted a group of young twinks that had apparently just come from Fun & Esteem -- a free course designed to introduce young gay men to each other and let them talk about basic issues of acceptance, identity, dating, safe-sex, and so on. Since our old school is fairly close to Oxford St, Keith and I began to wonder about all the students there who remain closeted, who are either unable to out themselves or unaware of their sexuality. No doubt they're frightened by homophobes on the one hand, and radical gay social constructivists ('monogamy is a heterosexual norm, my sexuality is performative and fluid and therefore not not easily labelled, I can basically have sex with anyone I want') on the other.

These young men are potentials, possessing the basic instincts (gaydar, fashion sense, general sensitivity) of the Slayer (Keith/ Faith, Adrian/ Buffy). Following this revelation, the dramatis personae of the Buffyverse tumbled forth. Our high school is the Hellmouth. Its crest is the Seal of Danthalzar. My thesis supervisor is a Watcher. Colin Farrell can be Angel. I'd rather not have a Riley or Spike. Sea of Ug Ugh is Xander. (Gay up, Sea! Let's gay!) Our former high school teacher, Ms Smyrnis, is Glory. Peter Jensen is Caleb. Judy Garland is the First Slayer. There are plenty of bears at Taylor Square vying for the part of Oz, the werewolf. Patrolling Oxford St -- where 70 year olds have fake tans and look permanently young and undead -- is just another term for cruising. And on Oxford St, there are plenty of solariums that might be called 'The Bronze'. Armed only with our Mr. Pointys, Keith and I will banish untrendy people everywhere and rescue the potentials from their life of exclusion. We will all be Chosen Ones. To those potentials awaiting activation, I say this: "If you might be gay, you will be gay... Make your choice. Will you be strong?"

I'm sure you can see how this sort of time-wasting makes Keith and me feel immeasurably better about everything.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Two clicks of my ruby slippers
Good evening, folks. It's Keith here. As Adrian has mentioned, I am returning home for a couple of weeks (or maybe more). Currently, I'm at an internet terminal at Changi Airport in Singapore... it's funny how this place has become such a regular location for me to write my entries.

To say that my last month was bad is an understatement - it was terrible. I'm hoping to forget all about the exams, which has pretty much occupied all my mind all summer. I know Sydney would be the best place to do that, next to undergoing a full-scale lobotomy. I don't think I can tolerate spending the next couple of weeks in HK (even though I am a massive masochist)... the waiting for the results would be unbearable.

It's sad to hear of Adrian's loss. My thoughts are with him and his family.

Sunday, August 17, 2003



My aunt passed away last night. While it wasn't exactly a surprise, we were all taken aback by the suddenness of her death. Only the day before, she'd been talking about going to eat in Chinatown when she got better.

It will be very strange not having her around. She used to call my mother every few days. My mother isn't saying very much, but I can imagine what she's going through right now. Every time the phone rings, she'll be thinking that it's her sister.

I may take a couple of days off from blogging while I see whether I can help my family with the arranging the funeral. It's not really the time to be making jokes, of course, but I would like to point out that I have some expertise in this area. When my other aunt died a few years ago, it was left to me to work out several crucial things, since my remaining aunts and uncles were in no state to do anything. Can I say that there's nothing more surreal than having to peruse funeral parlour brochures ("The white model is flashy, but I think the dark redwood US-8X is more in keeping with her character."). And then there's the matter of talking to morticians. They enjoy their job far too much.

Talking about death with others -- particularly those who've never dealt with the death of loved ones -- can be difficult, because it remains such a taboo. It was unfortunate that the book we were reading in class the week of my aunt's funeral was Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One, a grimly acute satire of the American death industry. The bubbly cosmeticist who was working on my aunt was frighteningly similar to the character in Waugh's novel named Aimee. "I've been working [at this funeral parlour] ever since I left college. I love it," the cosmeticist told me. "I never cop any flack from clients." In a very strange way, talking to her was more cathartic than any of the conversations I had with any of my family or friends.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Family, friends, etc

Family, friends, etc

It's been a weird day. My aunt went into hospital to have some tests done after she woke up feeling giddy and found that all of her speech was slurred. She had a heart attack a few weeks ago, and had only recently returned home. Now in her early 80's, she's not very strong, and I think everyone in the family is quietly wondering whether she'll be able to recover from this latest setback. I'm very attached to this aunt; she's feisty but gentle, has a wicked sense of humour, and has perhaps the healthiest outlook on life of anybody I know. She's not very well off, but she always makes sure that her grandchildren, nieces, and nephews get little red packets (containing $1) on Chinese New Year. What really shocked the family about her recent hospitalization was that it occurred on the 3rd anniversary of another of my aunt's -- which is to say, her sister's -- death.

In other, better news: Keith has finished his exams, and is flying back to Sydney next week for a quick visit. If he's lucky, he may even get nice weather. Sydney's trying its damnedest to look its best at the moment -- blue skies, sunshine, a little warmth. Very un-wintry.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Bend and Snap: the Musical

Bend and Snap: the Musical

Yes, kids, it's true. That quintessential art-form of Hollywood's yesteryear, the MGM musical, is back, but this time, it's taking place on stage, not screen. Legally Blonde is being made into a musical. To paraphrase Reese Witherspoon's character, Elle, it'll be just like the movie, only funner. Interestingly, the movie was originally supposed to contain a musical sequence, taking place during the famous 'bend and snap' scene. No doubt this sequence will be accorded full chorusgirl glamour in the stage production.

Musicals based on movies have a dubious history. Remember the musical adaptation of Big? I thought not. What about Singin' in the Rain, complete with glorious indoor rain flooding the stage during the titular song sequence? And then there's the infamous 80's horror-show, Carrie, based on Stephen King's novel and also the Cissy Spacek movie, in which a repressed adolescent schoolgirl unleashes her telekinetic powers against her bullies. Readers and viewers will remember the moment when schoolboys play a cruel prank on Carrie, dumping loads of dead pig's blood on her. In the musical, which has not been produced since its illfated Broadway premiere, the boys' pigshooting becomes the subject of a ballet.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Gay Karate Dating

Gay Karate Dating

Are you a martial artist? Are you interested in dating? Are you gay? If you said yes to all three questions, then this is the site for you: Gay Karate Dating. And y'all thought we only liked to wrestle.

As a long-time fan of kung fu movies and also a full-time homosexual, I await the day when gay kung fu flicks pass from my imagination into reality. I can picture it now: Enter the Dragon's Boyfriend. The Gay of Death. Big Trouble Up Little China. Crouching Top, Hidden Bottom. The Sodomatrix. It's a veritable cornucopia of kickass-fuckass!

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Asian in da House

Asian in da House

A Chinese Rapper? Check this out. Jin is Asian-American, but he entered the Black Entertainment Television's "Freestyle Friday" Hall of Fame for going undefeated seven weeks in a row in the network's "106 & Park:Top Ten Live" rap battles. After graduating from a school in Florida, he moved to New York, not to seek his independence but rather to follow his parents. And now he has an album coming out.

Last night, my friend played for me Christina Aguilera's send-up of Eminem, a riposte to his continual jibes at her overhyped commercialism. Predictably, she poked fun at his overhyped commercialism, but 'Will the Real Slim Shady Please Shut Up?' contained some funny lyrics, including a comparison of 'Slim Shady' to 'Peter Brady'. Putcha bad self, Christina.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003



How did I do with my Buffy predictions? Spike died, the amulet saved the day, Willow performed magic on a major scale ("That was nifty!"), Faith and Principal Wood were being set up for a new series (and actually got more screentime together than, say, Anya and Xander), and Anya died saving Andrew. The original gang didn't end up facing off against the First's legion of ubervamps together, but there was a delightful scene in which the four main characters shared a moment in the corridors of Sunnydale High. If I'm not mistaken, Giles was quoting the series' very first episode. The others got to wisecrack about shopping after the apocalypse. Tee hee! (Don't know if anyone noticed, but during that scene, you can see the shadow of a prop guy moving across the hallway behind Xander.)

All in all, it was a bloody good ending. Joss Whedon can be pretentious at times (especially on his Buffy DVD commentaries), but one thing you have to say for him is that he knows how to write character arcs. His characters don't remain on the series unless they have a purpose to fulfil. And in the finale, he tied up everything that needed to be, while still finding time to peddle his cheesy yet affecting message, that anyone who might be a slayer, will be a slayer. Which is to say, girls rock, man.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Ah, humanity!

Ah, humanity!

Australian Idol: two, maybe three of the performers last night were decent. The pig farmer who's never formally taken singing lessons has the best vocal instrument of the lot, exhibiting a mature control over his vibrato and demonstrating pretty good range. Note how the better-looking performers -- the cutesy twinks, the former football players, and pop princesses -- were the least effective singers, pushing their voices beyond their capabilities. As for the judges: it's sad to see that the trio has now fallen into -- I should say, succumbed to -- the roles given them. Mark Holden either says, "That was good" or "That didn't do anything for me." Marcia says, "Thanks honey. You have a great voice" to everyone. Dicko says, "Loved it" or "You belong in cabaret" and "You're now completely out of your depth". Boring.

Final episode of Buffy tonight. Based on the past few episodes, and having rewatched the penultimate episode a couple of times, I'm now convinced that:

* Angel won't hang around in the episode for long. He was the deus ex machina of the last episode, so he'll scoot out quickly after giving Buffy a quick kiss.
* Spike will die, thus demonstrating his 'platonic love' (yeah, right) for Buffy in a redemptive act of self-sacrifice.
* Faith and Principal Wood are being set up to join together in a Faithcentric spin-off series.
* Anya will die, protecting Andrew from harm's way (we know this because Anya said last week that she's finally begun to love humanity, while Andrew is resigned to likely death).
* Oz probably won't return, since Willow already has (1) a partner she's lossed and misses -- Tara; and (2) has a present snuggle bunny -- Kennedy.
* Willow will perform magic on a big scale.
* Faith and the Principal will be fighting with the Potentials against the ubervamps.
* the original gang, plus Dawn (perhaps -- unless she's fighting with Anya and Andrew, or at home with them, preparing to tend to the wounded when they return) will face off against the First, armed with amulets and other assorted magic instruments.
* did I mention that Joss likes to use lots of magic instruments to help his characters save the day? It's the equivalent of technobabble on Star Trek and nifty gadgets on James Bond.

Ok, no one who's seen the episode already say a word about the finale! Let's say how I do with my predictions.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

A recent survey in America has found that a consideration of aesthetic appeal is an important influence on how students rate the merits of their university professors' academic and teaching skills. On average, lecturers considered "handsome" or "beautiful" scored a full point higher on course surveys than those lecturers who were described as "homely".

This is not exactly a surprise; I just wish there were more beautiful or handsome academics at my university -- academics like, say, Brad Gooch. Gooch is over 50 years old, but he looks like he's just hit his 30's. He's a former model, having appeared in the ad campaign for Chanel's Allure. He's also a former porn film reviewer for a New York gay magazine. Shortly after he completed his graduate degree in English at Columbia University, he worked for a time as locker room boy in a gym. Now a tenured professor at a university in New Jersey, he's written several books, including two novels and one tell-all biography of New York poet Frank O'Hara. Recently, he's worked on two gaycentric self-help books, provocatively titled Finding the Boyfriend Within ("Oh there you are, Boyfriend! What are you doing in there?") and Dating the Greek Gods.

A few years ago, I was sitting in a seminar, listening to my lecturer talk about Brad Gooch's book on Frank O'Hara. I'm certain I wasn't imagining the lustful gleam in the academic's eyes as he uttered the author's name, with a prolonged emphasis on the 'oo' in Gooch. I didn't know who Brad Gooch was at the time, but having now seen the pictures of him, I completely understand both the gleam and the emphasis.

Friday, August 08, 2003

On the Origins of the Species

On the Origins of the Species

Prime Minister John Howard has argued that marriage's traditional function is to ensure "the survival of the species".

Now it's certainly true that you need couples -- or the sperm and egg of couples -- to procreate, and that, for Christians, marriage is the traditional means by which two people come together in holy matrimony. But, as numerous people have pointed out in the national and state newspapers over the past two days, there are plenty of married couples who can't procreate, or at least, who require artificial means to procreate, including, most controversially, IVF and other medical treatments, but also adoption. And there are many more couples who never intended to have children when they got married, and indeed who never do. As long as the state refrains from revoking the marriage licences of these people, it seems to me that neither the political nor the judicial system has any formal capacity -- by which I mean not only the right but also the grounds -- to restrict marriage to the function of procreation.

But what if, as I think, the PM's claim is underwritten not by a specific concern about civic function at all, but rather by a religious belief? For, despite his pseudo-Darwinian language, I suspect the PM's notion of the species' survival has more to do with the divine charge "to go forth and multiply" than anything else. To avoid accusations that he's yoking the state to his personal religious beliefs, the PM is shrouding those beliefs in quasi-scientific language.

Even here the grounds for his claim are dubious. For the preservation of the species has never been the core 'function' of Christian marriage at all. On the contrary, marriage signals the spiritual consummation of two Christians, who will henceforth grow in their faith together; it's this spiritual consummation that traditionally legitimates the subsequent sexual consummation.

The issue of gay marriage is forcing people to rethink the bases of their religious as well as societal beliefs. And that's why why, for all the attempts for some to dismiss this it as a controversy caused by a fringe group -- the narcissistic warcry of radicals on the periphery, of barbarians at the gate -- the issue raises questions that are central to how we view society as a whole.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Arnie Versus Chad: Hercules Goes to California

Arnie Versus Chad: Hercules Goes to California

Arnold Schwarzenegger announced this evening on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno that he will run in California's gubernatorial recall election. All week, his advisers have suggested that Arnie was leaning against the idea of becoming a candidate. With great skill, they had successfully created the kind of suspense more worthy of a Hollywood movie trailer.

I can't really comment on the merits of Arnie's candidacy. But to his credit, the guy's involved himself in politics for several years now, and was integral to the creation of a recent education bill. For the most part, he's avoided invoking his silver screen celebrity in relation to his political campaign. As the late historian, Michael Rogin, observed, former US president Ronald Reagan shamelessly reworked lines from his own movies, without acknowledging that they were quotations, into what were ostensibly his most spontaneous moments in the political arena. (Asked to respond to Rogin's claim, then-White House speechwriter Anthony Dolan declared, "What he's really saying is that all of us are deeply affected by a uniquely American art form: the movies." Uh-huh.) But Arnie would have little luck trying to exploit his screen image -- which is traditionally characterized by silent heroic violence -- into his political persona. And that's because politics necessarily involves, well, talking. Note Arnie's decidedly un-Terminator-like prolixity in his interview with Jay Leno: ""The politicians are fiddling, fumbling and failing... The man that is failing the people more than anyone is Gray Davis. He is failing them terribly, and this is why he needs to be recalled and this is why I am going to run for governor." Arnie may not be the most articulate person in the world, but he is nonetheless a talker.

So everyone, brace yourself for bad Arnie jokes to saturate the world's newspapers and news segments. Arnie, the Governator? Californian Election 2, Rise of the Publicity Machine? Conan the Politician? Gray Davis and Arnie: are they Twins? Is it the end of Gray, or End of Grays, or Judgement Gray? To be sure, Arnie is the Last Action Hero on matters pertaining to energy. Is this election a Total Recall? (On the environment: "De peepul need dair air!") Moreover, when it comes to imports from foreign countries, he'll be Mr. Freeze. And where education and crime are concerned, he'll always be the Kindergarten Cop. Yes, I think that'll do for now.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Some Initial Thoughts on Religion and Sexuality

Some Initial Thoughts on Religion and Sexuality

What does it mean to be Christian and gay, or to be part of any religion for which one's sexuality is contentious? I can't disavow my sexuality any more than I can reject my faith. To disbelieve my attraction to men would be no more possible than for me to disbelieve in Christ. I partake of my sexuality -- live it, embody it -- as comprehensively as I do my faith. Both are inextricable from my identity, and in many ways also from each other.

We often hear of people converting to a faith. The implication of the word 'conversion' is that a faith is simply something that one turns to, like a new shelf of clothes in a store. To convert is merely to shift one's view from one set of contents to another. But those of you who have faith will know that the concept of conversion as it's commonly described is far removed from the actual experience of possessing a conviction. Faith requires total immersion. To convert to a faith is to accept the central beliefs -- such as belief in Christ -- completely, and to possess them absolutely.

On similar grounds, I strongly object to the way religious and social commentators describe their attempts to make gays and lesbians disavow their sexualities as conversions in which men and women would simply be turning away from something that isn't intrinsically a part of themselves, or as 'cures', as though gays and lesbians would merely be ridding themselves of a malignant excrescence, a disposable surface. That's not the case at all -- like my faith, my sexuality isn't something I can deny or treat in order to make it go away; it's a fundamental part of my being. More on this later.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

On Gay Marriage

On Gay Marriage

I've been feeling increasingly depressed over the past few weeks. It's not the kind of depression that's interminable, or which, say, completely incapacitates my sense of humour. But when it sets in, I find it difficult to break out of.

One reason why I've been feeling a little down recently is the conservative backlash against gay rights that has sprung from the US Supreme Court's recent decision in the Lawrence vs Texas case. If the American courts have finally acknowledged both the illogicality and inhumaneness of Texas' and other states' attempts to incarcerate gays on the basis of their sexuality, the American people has shown a far more hypocritical attitude towards the treatment of its own citizens. For the past decade, opinion polls have generally indicated an increased willingness on the part of the American people to tolerate and accept gays. This, it would seem, is the natural progression from the decriminalization of homosexuality in several states and also the recognition that gays and lesbians cannot be justifiably pathologized, as though their sexualities were simply a disease requiring to be cured. But the positivistic assumption that the quest to ratify gay rights in America law, once in motion, can never go backwards, has been proven wrong. For while Americans are prepared to recognize that gays aren't a class of criminals, and that they have every right to conduct consensual sex in the privacy of their own homes, they refuse to recognize that gay, like straight couples, are capable of maintaining loving, monogamous relationships. The refusal to recognize the legality of gay marriages is at its core a refusal to accept that gays are anything but an underclass in society, not privy to the civic status and distinction that the term 'marriage' affords couples.

Conservatives opposed to gay marriage like to cite the putative promiscuity of all gays -- a promiscuity which, apparently, is a congenital by-product of their sexuality -- as reason to deny gay couples formal recognition of their union. Conservative bloggers such as Clayton Cramer argued with overwrought ideological fervour that gays, apparently, are unable to conduct monogamous relationships. There are several problems here. Firstly, the fact that many gay men are promiscuous isn't sufficient reason to deny all gays the right to marriage. Secondly, there's little creditable evidence to suggest that gay men are especially more promiscuous than straight men -- just ask Colin Farrell. Given the high incidence of divorce in Western societies nowadays, it would appear that promiscuity (which admittedly is only one of many factors in the increasing divorce rates in Western countries) is, if anything, a social problem, common to all sexualities and genders. Thirdly and most importantly, monogamous gay unions are already evident all around the world. I think of two couples I know in Sacramento, California -- including one pair to whom I'm very close -- who have been together for over 6 and 12 years, respectively, or of another couple I know in Sydney who've been together for just over a decade. And there's the couple who live a few blocks away from me, and who have been together for over 25 years. These are the sort of people that the loud and brash conservative movement -- we might think of them as radical conservatives -- never acknowledges, for fear that it would topple their campaign to recriminalize, repathologize, and to eradicate homosexuality forever. These couples inspire me, and they set an example of monogamy and fidelity for subsequent generations of straights and gays.

A popular conservative canard is that marriage in our society is typically defined as the union of two individuals for the purpose of reproduction. But there are plenty of couples who don't have children, and they're still allowed to marry. Moreover, there are plenty of de facto and divorced couples who do have children, regardless of the fact that they're not legally married.

The sad truth is that opponents of gay marriage aren't really trying to uphold societal traditions so much as justify their longstanding prejudice against gays. Unfortunately, many of these people would characterize themselves as tolerant and accepting of homosexuality; now they're forced to question to what extent they are truly accepting of it at all.

More on this later, in relation to a special front in what Justice Scalia rather cryptically called "the culture wars" (I thought those wars only concerned Shakespeare and great books!): the relationship between religion and homosexuality.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Sweet Transvestites

Sweet Transvestites

The second episode of Australian Idol aired last night, and already it's clear that only a handful of contestants can sing. Others strut, wail, or gyrate in order to hide the fact that, vocally, they're simply not up to scratch. Bereft of decent performances to focus on, the tv presenters concentrated instead on the personalities of the singers. There was the Somalian refugee who had trouble mastering the words to songs in English; the bitchy loner who refused to play back-up for the other members of the trio she was assigned to; the demure wallflower whose confidence builds with each performance she gives; the large, unemployed guy who wanted to make his generally unsympathetic dad proud of him; the young starlet who dedicated her performance to her dad, who'd died a few years earlier; the young feral who had just become a dad; and the cutesy pie who wanted to make one of the judges her sugardaddy. My favourite contestant is the sweet transvestite who was originally rejected as a boy, only to be accepted in drag the day after. Two of the judges didn't even recognize who she was.

On that point: if the performers have discovered remarkably quickly how to market themselves on camera, the judges are slowly beginning to settle into their proscribed roles, too. Ian Dickson still lacks the requisite callous detachment of a Simon Cowell, and in the outright-wanker stakes he's often upstaged by ex-pop-star Mark Holden, for whom melodramatic outbursts seem par for the course. Maybe Holden's a little bitter that none of the adolescent-to-young adult contestants actually know who he is? Marcia Hines has eased into the role assigned to her the best. There was less tough love on her part last night, and more of the comforting, if slightly condescending mother-figure who eagerly wants her children to be successful. At times she appears to be channelling Susan Sarandon. They both have the same matronizing, New-Age vibe. Now if Mark Holden could just work on his Barry Bostowick, straight-jawed good-guy persona, and Ian Dickson tried to impersonate Tim Curry rather than Simon Cowell, we might just have a show -- a Rocky Horror Show.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Chasing Lesbians

Chasing Lesbians

Oh dear. The Ben Affleck-J.Lo romantic comedy, Gigli, looks set to bomb after generating unanimously awful reviews in the US. Why is Ben attracted to film projects in which his characters become attracted to lesbians? This plot first occurred in his breakout inde movie, Chasing Amy, and now it rears its ugly head again. And speaking of head, the scene in which J.Lo, lying in bed with Ben, declares "It's turkey time...gobble, gobble" has already become infamous.

Presumably, it's the women playing opposite -- or, in this case, on top of -- Affleck that compel him to sign up to these sorts of movies. The storyline itself may also hold some fascination for him. The stunning, yet unattainable woman: this is the irreducible fantasy of many men, and who better to play the lead female character in a film premised on this fantasy than J.Lo, an actress whose moniker, as some wags have pointed out, bears an unfortunate resemblance to both the word 'jello' and the term 'j/o', which is internet shorthand (so to speak) for masturbation.

Long before Gigli, J.Lo had already appeared in movies that riff on the theme of the unpossessable sex object. In Out of Sight, we see George Clooney, a criminal on the run, taking a bath, with J.Lo's police officer going down on him. At first, we're led to assume that Clooney is fantasizing about J.Lo, only to realize moments later that she's the one who's dreaming about this experience.

Unfortunately, there's no such cleverness in Gigli.

What are we meant to make of the film's title, which brings to mind not only 'J.Lo' (ooh, how sophisticatedly -- and marketably -- self-reflexive) but also 'gigalo'? Are we to conclude that Ben is successor to the original American Gigalo, Richard Gere? If that's the case, is J.Lo the Officer to Affleck's Gentleman?). A.O. Scott of The New York Times points out the title's similarity to the words 'jiggly' and 'silly'; we could also add 'jiggy' and 'jelly'. The apparently unlimited semiosis of the film's title is almost certainly more fun than the film itself.

I'm thinking of changing my name, pace J.Lo, to A.Pho, which sounds uncannily like the Vietnamese word for rice noodle, pho. Chasing A.Pho: coming soon to a theatre near you.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Christian Monzon

Christian Monzon

I've mentioned him in passing so many times recently, that I've decided he needs a post of his own. He's done work for H&M, Dolce & Gabbana (for which he appeared in blistering photos of him in tighty whities), Sean John, Fubu, and Nautica; he can also be found in ads for Apple (yep, he's apparently a Mac user). He's a some time actor, having starred in the video clip of Pink's 'There You Go' and an episode earlier this year of Law & Order:SVU. So without further ado, behold, Christian Monzon. Ecce, homo(sexual's delight)!

(Click on the picture of Christian to see the rest of the image. With thanks to Keith for engineering this.)