Wednesday, January 23, 2013

La Volonté

Have you seen the new Les Miserable film? Me? Not yet, just the original movie (and the novel, of course).

I’d like to say I’ve been getting by, but that would be lying.

You know you aren’t getting by when lying in bed, hoping for sleep, the times you aren’t suffocating from diaphragm failure, you are trying to scream. Lots of drugs didn’t work. And it went on and on for hour after hour (golly, that sounds a lot like sex.....sadly, it wasn't sex).

If I had to describe it: it was what I thought having a grenade detonate after I leapt on it might feel like. Only instead of dying in a few minutes, the pain was just there, or it grew, and it filled days and days. Gosh, pain keeps the mind busy.

I’d never do that again, if I had the idea of what it was. Almost up to sleeping for four hours without a 'pain wakeup' now.

I’ve been listening to A La Volonté Du Peuple (For the Will of the People). The tune is similar to ‘The song of angry men’ or ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ from Les Miserable. Except before there was Les Miserable, the hit west end musical, there were songs and Lyrics written in 1980 for Les Miserable.  The English decided to use 1/3rd of the original and rewrite the rest. Then the English version was retranslated back to French for the ‘Award Winning Musical’ as it came to France in 1991.  Irony, no?


Nous voulons faire la lumière
Malgré le masque de la nuit
Pour illuminer notre terre
Et changer la vie

(We want to bring light
Despite the darkness of night
To lighten the world
And change life)

In translation/addition the song becomes about Crusades and the symbol of barricades and the sacred soil of France. Which somewhat misses the point in an anti-royalist period piece showing that France IS the people.

In English Les Miserable this song is sung by someone a bit twee, or ends up sounding like a guy pleased with his vocal cords masturbating. Hello! It is song about drinking and fighting, sheesh. The original French version by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil has one guy sounding better than a chorus. Liberte!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Photos of Beacon Hill in Darkness (and progesterone)

Due to losing a night and a day, I got to go out to the park. Sadly, we haven’t seen the sun in weeks in Victoria, and the light fades around 4:30-5:00.

I was trying out a tripod from a few years ago and my scuffed camera, in hopes of figuring out how to get those cool star pictures, or ‘total dark’ pictures (which I took notes on how to do during the Museum’s Photographer of the Year Exhibit). After many failures I took a picture of Beacon Hill Pond in total darkness, with only reflected cloud light.

And then later, trying different settings, I got this with a two second exposure: the path through the flowers at Beacon Hill park.

TOTALLY UNREALATED. Sometimes I get comments on older posts. A long one came in about a post on LGBTI and misunderstandings done early 2012, and it seemed to think that estrogen for trans individuals came from females donating stem cells and donated eggs. In case anyone is unclear, Progesterone, the most common and effective estrogen cream is from the urine of pregnant horses. It is used primarily for woman after menopause as well as other conditions which cause low estrogen. I suppose it isn’t great for the horse but this is a comment I can’t publish (as I don’t publish overt hate speech, instead of opinions: for example: ‘I think and conclude that they (LGBT) are all perverted’). But in case the writer or others are reading; get estrogen or testosterone from your doctor (estrogen is a pill/cream; testosterone is an injection – makes the person a bit on edge for the first few days).

I am exercising, and it is leaving me a bit weary, in pain and passing out a lot (over 40 times on Wednesday).

That’s the sign it must be good for me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jodi Foster 'out' as lesbian: a leap of faith and fear

In coming out as gay yesterday, Jodie Foster has already been heavily criticized for not being upbeat enough, not making it cheerful and lovely. Instead she spoke as if this was an announcement which scared her, and which would likely not make her life better day to day. She has good cause to feel this way.

I remember when Rupert Everett came out as gay, after giving lush performances of Oscar Wilde’s plays adapted to film. Yes, that would be Oscar Wilde, the convicted sodomite, who was sent to prison then exiled to France – from the toast of the British entertainment scene to convict and outcast, coming ‘out’ didn’t make life easier for Oscar Wilde. And I remember a few years later watching a special interview with Rupert Everett when he talked about how his announcement changed his life from doing several major Hollywood films a year to having ZERO offers. To make ends meet, he ended up doing a Russian film is Russia, because they had not heard he was gay. Then it was acting in French productions or small company films before finally returning as a voice actor in Shrek. He explained in detail how he went from a rising star to nothing. Thankfully now, he is starting to come back.

There is an absence of ‘out’ lead actors (male or female), much like the absence of ‘out’ gay male football, hockey and baseball players: where those one or two are a minute fraction of the stats of gay men in the general population. It is because there is so much to lose. It isn’t just that the individual has gone from being a ‘talent’ to being ‘gay’ and facing the bias from Hollywood execs to TV/screen writers. It is about what is not offered anymore, because they are thinking how the press will play it in Alabama. Still, if there are a grouping of males on show, anti-gay jokes will present. It happens on Big Bang; the show Scrubs was so extreme, I couldn’t watch it. The popular show House managed to not only be anti-gay, but also anti-lesbian, anti-intersex and in the final season, anti-asexual, with an episode when House bets Wilson that there is no asexuality, and anyone who claims to has it is either a liar, has a medical condition or both. He goes on to prove that the asexual male was ill (and cured him into heterosexuality) and the female was lying.

Jodie Foster watched while Rosie O’Donnell was replaced on her own talk show after coming out on Will and Grace and four years of exile before another long term gig. And, like Athletes, her loss of sponsors and adverts. Muffin Spencer-Devlin, the first ‘out’ female golfer, in a film about the LPGA, talked about her immediate loss of sponsors upon coming out. And without sponsors, you cannot train, you cannot travel around the country/world to events in order to compete. So coming out can threaten to eliminate your ability to be a top athlete. Spencer-Devlin has had a series of harassment from the LPGA including a restriction on her that her golfing shorts weren’t feminine enough.

Angelina Jolie, whose film in the 90’s Foxfire and Gia, are bisexual and lesbian classics, has moved far, far away from that image on screen. Though probably men as well as bi and lesbian women would love to see her in another woman on woman film, it doesn’t play well in the Bible Belt.

Some actors, like Antonio Bandaris and Johnny Depp manage to play trans and gay characters in foreign films, but for Hollywood films, they are sexy males in hetero relationships. In the same way Russell Crowe playing Dr Frank N Furter in Rocky Horror and a gay plumber in The Sum of Us while in Australia, once in the US, his roles are about ‘manly men’.

During my time working at the cinema, the second and particularly the third matrix film had absolute no filming information. This wasn’t just reluctant directors but closed sets and legal documents enforcing that no one stated what they saw on set. At the cinema, we noted that the third Matrix film had a new credit sequence sent changing ‘The Wachowski Brothers’ to ‘Creators of the Matrix’ or ‘Wachowski’s.’ At the same time Rolling Stone came out with an article saying that one brother, L, was into hardcore submission from his bondage mistress. And that this included crossdressing.

I on the other hand, could see in each film from Bound onward a strong idealization and self identification as lesbian/bisexual women (it is not a subtle theme in ANY of the Wachowski films). So it wasn’t a great surprise to hear rumors about Lana or her coming ‘out.’ The Human Rights Commission gave Lana a Visibility Award; which I found odd as it was giving the award only three to four months after she officially came ‘out’, but I can see how it would be an encouragement that a person can transition and succeed. Reporters in stories couldn’t seem to refrain from the ‘and now SHE is promoting Cloud Atlas’ emphasis. In the same way they state, 10 years late, that Lana publicly is here as a transgendered woman. Irksome.

It irks me because Lana is a woman. Unless she is speaking about being transgendered, she is just female. She hasn’t asked people if they approve, and she shouldn’t have to, because she just is. Perhaps the press are irked themselves that deciding to keep private things private, Lana had treatments, therapy, transition and real life experiences in that decade spent away from their eyes. So, she’s here, and I have to hope that she continues to get offers to direct films.

But coming out is a risk, particularly in an industry that will sideline you FOR your image. Ellen turned her sexuality into a talk show success. Is that what she wanted after doing TV sitcom’s and starting into movies? Maybe not.

Jodie Foster knows, because she has seen it over and over, that you may not get the same chances or opportunities that were offered when you were closeted. That your endorsements may change, as openly anti-gay sponsors like Radio Shack, Walmart, Chick-fil-A, Cinemark, Kelloggs, Exxon, Toy’s R US, Domino’s and dozens of other will drop you or not offer a commerical or sponsorship.

I am glad she has come out, as her strong female characters and her directing of Little Man Tate, a film about the alienation of highly intelligent children have always resonated with me. I applaud her bravery, while I acknowledge her fear. Though many would wish it, life doesn’t always get better for LGBT individuals after high school.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Studio Ghibli's newest movie is a game: my search for Ni No Kuni Deluxe

I have distracted this week after finding out that Studio Ghibli of My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away newest film is actually a game for the PS3. Studio Ghibli says it is not a ‘game’ but rather two entire worlds. This has been done in partnership with Level-5, who would like to do sequels as well as making Laputo into a game.

The game is called Ninokuni in Japan and Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch in North America and EU. The North America release comes out January 22, 2013 with the UK/EU coming out on Feb. 1, 2013. The animation is clearly Ghibli, much like Laputa: Castle in the Sky with some bit from Spirited away thrown in.

The CEO of Level-5 Akihiro Hino talked about the ways in which Ghibli directed the game. “One of Studio Ghibli’s unique approaches is to ‘properly portray the mundane acts of everyday people.’ Before we learned that, we would tend to move the camera around to create the coolest composition we could envision, or exaggerate the characters’ movements for extra effect. But Mr. Momose (Studio Ghibli Director) only moves the camera about when necessary, and instead composes the scenes so they are easy to view the natural movements of people that he has drawn in detail.”

The purpose is so the person playing has empathy for Oliver, the character of the game. In order to increase the empathy and have the players ‘live’ through the character the game has lengthened the amount of time the character spends in the 'real world’ before moving to the ‘magical land.’

“One of the most important elements of Ni no Kuni is being able to enjoy Ghibli’s anime, so we put a lot of effort into making it feel like you were freely moving about within an anime feature film.”

It comes out on a PS3. I don’t have a PS3, but after Sakura-con, I will be saving for one as I love Studio Ghibli and to enter two entire Studio Ghibli ‘worlds’ is a reason to get a system more known for hard core violence and speed. Who wouldn’t want to wander around their favorite film, exploring the world as well as playing the plot?

Here is video of the composer showing the game and the music. The game is in English or Japanese (with subtitles) - the first 2 minutes will show both game and music.

Which brings up the whole ‘Deluxe Edition.’ For reasons I can’t quite understand Level-5 decided to sell the Deluxe edition as a limited edition: it comes with a plush of the Ghibli character, a hardcover 300+ page color book of spells, beasts, and stories of the game, art, as well as art cards. The baffling part is that they closed the selling of it seven months before the game came out. With $60 for the regular edition, it makes the Deluxe edition almost a good value (who doesn’t want the book?).

Frustrated US gamers who wanted the Deluxe Edition bought out the ones available on as well as Amazon france. There are a few online vendors who are taking pre-orders for the game coming out in a few weeks: I think HMV as well as Amazon Germany has a few, though I am not having great success is making an order – which is why I didn’t blog this on Tuesday, when it consumed that and all following days. After several days of frustration, I put it aside for now.

Maybe it makes no sense that I am trying to spend $99 for a Deluxe edition of a game which I don’t have a game system to play. I love what I love, and this gives me a goal I can work towards (assuming I can get a preorder for the game).

Friday, January 04, 2013

Hello Kitty Hamburglar, Ronald McDonald’s sex change and Maid Café McDonalds

Taiwan McDonald’s knows how to extract the moe out of Kawaii! (moe=sexy/appealing, Kawaii=Cute!) They have combined a one two three combo of limited edition Hello Kitty happy meals and plushies, a revamped, re-gendered mascot of ‘Ronnie’ anime style and starting in the New year (that’s now!), maid café McDonalds!

Japan’s cultural obsession with the other island empire of tradition, Britain, created a crazy in maids and butlers which through anime/manga like Emma and He is my Master, they have exported to the world.
The Taiwan McDonalds have merely jumped on board with this advert for the ‘coming attraction’ of maids to service you (I think the sexy overtone IS intended).

Somehow the practicalities of lace wrist and head bands mixing with fry grease have created the ‘sweet maid’ style that they rolled out at the start of the year.
You can look at the McDonald's facebook page if you want to see the line out the door during opening.

Oh Ronald, Ronald, why didn’t mention being gender conflicted?  Transgender Ronald McDonald has worn his mask for many decades and now has left the closet as an utterly enticing ‘Ronnie’ in Taiwan.
I am only disturbed by my own attraction to have the McDonald’s mascot on a body huggable pillow.  Love the hair and thumbhole sweater, not so much the glasses.  Mascot is scary attractive, and in real life, the ‘fun team’ in Taiwan has HER for Ronnie, to entertain parties. Wow.
McDonald’s parties have so, so much more to offer now than just that addictive orange drink.

And what is more addictive than texting and gives that warming glow like the memories of being medical grade morphine than Hello Kitty? Combine Hello Kitty with a McDonalds meals and you have a serious addiction issue.

The major danger in North America would be the adults trampling the children on the way to collect the whole series. I have some odd hello kitties including two Hello Kitties designed by h.naoto (punk hello kitty in tartan skirt and goth loli hello kity), but who can say no to Hamburglar Hello Kitty? Not I.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Fever tinted vision colors and rhino porn

The adjoining apartment is refurbishing. It is loud. From early morn until late dark I am assaulted with banging, scraping, and thumps. Without sleep I gain a fever. Fever is my friend. I lie all day getting a few minutes of sleep before sound slams me awake again. By evening the fever has grown. I am delirious, and am talked down from throwing everything out the window. Fever brain thinks if I appease some god, the sound will stop.

When my fever gets high the world turns different colors. The left fevered eye tints the world yellow and the right fever eye tints the world a blue-green. Ohhhh look: yellow room, green room, yellow desk, green desk. I wave my hand from one eye to the other for fever spectroscope vision. Look, yellow scowling Linda, green scowling Linda. She wants to know why I haven’t eaten. I want to know when my room became a tilt a whirl.

In the end Linda has to feed me because my hand and eye aren’t coordinating. The fever is like a taser to my nervous system. I watch a DVD film from the library: The Cabin in the Woods. This turns out to be a variant of Dale and Tucker versus Evil involving college kids and a cabin in the woods. I don’t know why America has so many films about college kids going off into the woods to be chopped up. Perhaps it is because they can drive at 16, but only drink at 21. If they lowered the drinking age, perhaps less people would be chopped up.

It turns out watching a horror film while having a high fever is not a good thing. Not only am I not sure what is real, but will likely be seeing all the horrid things by the bed later. I need to drink fluids. I decide to watch TV on the computer, something nice. I find BBC is showing David Attenborough on the Kalahari in Africa. Is this going to be nice? A dung beetle fills the screen.

I remember how David Attenborough focuses on odd things. One Imax film about Safari David Attenborough goes on and on about Leopard sex and how it happens thousands of times. And then he tells us, the family and children watching the show that the yowling is because the males penis has barbs on it. I think David isn’t getting enough.

Kalahari means ‘thirsty land’ and the BBC shows meerkats, cheetahs and springbok. The pace is good for eating toast and drinking hot apple. The black rhino shows up, and stomps off everyone else at the water hole, including the elephants.
I am trying to memorize the shape of the black rhino, as I have been personally irritated that I mix up white and black rhinos. The large front horn makes me say, ‘B for big horn, b for black rhino.’ New night cameras allow BBC to film Rhinos in total darkness. At night, they are social around the watering hole, not the irritated Rhino under the 40-degree sun. We see a female literally jumping around like a colt. There are two male suitors. I am holding my toast, dizzy and muttering, “Please no Rhino sex, please no Rhino sex.”

The sex is prolonged, lots of mounting, lots of comments from David regarding the sex. I just wanted to eat toast in peace. And a full vision minutes and minutes of Rhino porn isn’t it. I turn off the computer. Not being able to fast-forward is the problem in watching TV online. Yes, let Rhinos have sex, and let David Attenborough watch. But I don’t want to watch. Even when I'm not fevered. Don’t want to watch Rhino porn while munching on Rice Crispy squares.

I read the Zombie romance Warm Bodies instead.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A New Year content without resolution

For the last week I’ve had a choice to either DO or to write, and with Linda home, I went and DID and then recovered to do some more. I am glad that my body in long enough that we could buy our own food for Xmas, and drink mulled wine (still stuff I brought over, so some nicely aged Cab Sauv, Champagne and Port).

By day and by week, there are the things which make ‘the aching, the crisis, the whole body gone wrong, life gone wrong, is this really what is left?’ bearable.
Sometimes that is just a drink, a piece of dark chocolate, a Japanese orange, watching a show with Linda, getting out, talking to someone, seeing Xmas lights and new gloves.

There were a few Xmas light shows I wanted to photograph, as they seemed to need a dedicated substation, particularly when I could see the glow of the house several blocks away on the main road. One almost induced a seizure, perhaps that was the electrical light display on the house walls. How do they sleep?

We watched ‘Call the Midwife’ Christmas special (due to my having a TV license in the UK, sorta). Oh, and the first episode of Ripper Street about cases in 1889 at the Whitechapel Police Station. When a suspect told the bobby to ‘stick that in your fundament’ I sighed and mourned for diversity of insults lost. A knowledge of basic Cockney helps too. Toff, meaning dressed gentleman, is mentioned in Mayhew’s facinating London Labour and the London Poor (a wonderful read).

I watched the London Fireworks for New Years. I missed the Nos Galan Race, which is held 15 miles from Cardiff in Mountain Ash at midnight. It celebrates the legendary runner Guto Nyth Bran who is buried at the church in the village (nice drive, and good hiking nearby).

There were a lot of things I wanted to see: choral singing in the St. Anne’s rectory, winter faire – but I have to follow the body whether I want to or not. So I plan what I WANT to do, and then I sleep and wake and fail 9 times out of 10.
I miss the time to get up, run out of time getting dressed, I run out of energy, there is a medical issue, etc. But I connect at times. What I can, what is possible, I do.

No one thinks, ‘Gee, I’ll go to uni and then get ill, and lose function until I die.’ But it happens. I cannot support myself, I can’t, at times, feed myself. I need assistance breathing every day, sometimes both waking and sleeping. It just is. I could get angry, or I could be happy that I rested enough that my liver could handle me drinking mulled wine. I might be frustrated at what function I don’t have, but I am also glad that I have a hand and wrist steel and tension brace and forearm docks to hold my arms, to hold my wrists so I can write. Without that, I wouldn’t have been still writing notes and cards on December 25th (As long as it gets in the postal box, it isn’t late, right?).

Grace among many definitions can be: favor bestowed. Those two words, whether it is Linda picking up a favorite food, or feeling not so bad and seeing the sun through blue sky, sum up the parts of life I focus upon. That’s why 2013 is: my year of grace (for one week or 52). Later today, I hope to do a puzzle.

That’s what I’ve been doing ‘tween the 25th and the 1st, how about you?