January 16th, 2010

Paul Neyron rose 2

various ramblings on books and blogs

I saw TeddyPig's (http://www.teddypig.com) post about his conversation with Erastes.  The discussion on it went different places.  I haven't read Longhorns, so I can't speak too much directly on the book.  If Erastes says it's not greatly historically accurate, I believe her.  I'm sure it's a fun book anyway.  I have read several of The Man From C.A.M.P. stories, and they're certainly a wild, wacky ride.  The more I learn about Victor Banis, the more I realize what a privilege it was to hear him give a talk about his books and his place in history.  His books might not be considered high literature, but they are important in their own way.  Popular fiction reaches the people who are looking for entertainment and characters they can relate to -- it's my opinion that it reaches a lot more people than literary fiction does.  So there you've got books which have their flaws, but are still highly enjoyable.

I've never read Maurice, either, though I've read plenty of books about repressed characters who search for an ideal of Platonic love.  I've also read my share of books, fiction and non-fiction, with higher class men romanticizing the working class, with some taking working-class lovers.  I just don't get the characters who are thirty years old before they realize they're gay.  You'd think they'd have some clue before that.  I guess that's just some severe repression.  What I've found is that I can only read so many books with these middle-class or higher virgin men.  I'm not even talking about the stories about men who "turn" gay.  I find those completely unrealistic anyway.  Why can't you have some stories with men who've experimented at school, had chance encounters here and there, had lovers?  Mother Clap's Molly House and some books about Renaissance Florence prove that cruising has been around for many centuries.  I've read Gay New York, and I believe it said that bathhouses where men would meet up for sex have been around since the early part of the twentieth century.

I'd like to read about historical romance characters who acknowledge at least to themselves who they're lusting for.  They certainly could struggle with society's homophobia and their own.  The historians who study old court records of sodomy trials have found testimony from some of the defendants saying that they didn't feel that what they did was wrong at all.  People did work through internalized homophobia, or just reject society's views on what they were doing.  The men did gather together, support each other in various ways, have their own subcultures.  Sure, you have people who are isolated, but you've also got these little societies of men living their lives as best they could, knowing what would happen if they got caught by the law -- but also knowing that a lot of people didn't get caught, and could find their share of happiness.

There are some problems for romance with some of the historical situations.  In ancient Greece and Rome, you'd have citizens taking adolescent boys as lovers, and, ideally, being their mentors in all kinds of ways, like the Mentor the word originated from.  Men who could afford it were supposed to get married in whichever time period, so they'd just take lovers or tricks on the side.  Same-age relationships -- not necessarily so much, or not considered the ideal really, at least into more modern times.  Sometimes things worked out better if there was a difference in age or class.  Where are working-class men in historical romances?  You've still got quite the range of classes to chose from -- kings had their favorites, dukes had their favorites -- writers could do something with that.  So same age, both middle-class or wealthy, both unmarried -- all unlikely in many historical eras, but the characters don't have to be isolated, severely repressed, or homogenized.  They can have lives and faults and some life experience.
Paul Neyron rose 2

family and travel

Off to north-central New Jersey to have our belated holiday celebration with Dad's side of the family.  It was good to see everyone, though you don't really get to talk one-on-one.  I wish I'd done more with presents.  I finally made Aunt P. a pair of hippo earrings.  I got three $10 iTunes gift cards for people.  I should have gotten around six, but I didn't have the money at the time.  My cousin was trying to work out how to distribute them.  The other cousins were all like, "I don't want it if there aren't enough."  It was sweet of them, and bad of me, but hopefully they worked it out so somebody got the cards.  I received gift cards to J.C. Penney's and to Gap.  I always manage to find something useful at Gap.

Aunt A. made it to the party.  Aunt L. brought her.  Aunt A. said she'd lost sixteen pounds -- I suppose because of the radiation making her sick.  I told her I'd lost thirty early on when I was taking a bunch of medicines which all made me sick to my stomach, but that I'd gained it all back and more.  She said she'd rather keep the weight off, but it wouldn't be bad if she gained some back.  She said she hadn't been able to do "stockings" -- bags with little food items, toys, pens and such in them.  I've been thinking I'm too old for them for quite a few years now anyway, but my younger cousins enjoy it.  I said I was just glad she was there.  She gave us money -- honestly, I would have been quite happy just to see her and Aunt L., and not want anything else.

I told her I'd use the money towards my trip to New York (see soap opera entry).  I explained a bit about this being a German soap opera, and one of my favorite characters being a figure-skater nicknamed Bunny.  It's hard to explain it quickly.  You really just have to see it to believe it.

J. and K. announced they were getting married in May.  All the relatives assumed they were coming.  I think if J. wanted it to be just immediate family, he should have prefaced it that way.  I'd be happier to have everybody there, but it's certainly not up to me.  It really didn't steal the thunder from the celebration like it did from Dad's birthday.

It was nice to see everyone, but it was a long drive.  Mom drove on the way up, in the daylight.  Dad drove part of the way back, through those wacky traffic circles -- I'd never be able to figure those out -- and I took over right after we got back into Pennsylvania, down the Turnpike.  Mom didn't want to listen to my music on the way up.  She kept turning down Nirvana until I couldn't even hear it.  I had told her to bring CDs of folk music with her.  There's only so many times I can listen to her singing show tunes.  She knows all the words to the songs in "South Pacific," "West Side Story," and many others.  So I listened to my iPod on the way up.  Dad started whistling on the way home, so I put in the CD of the Beatles that Mom had grabbed on her way out.  Mom and Dad were both singing along with the Beatles songs.  I just didn't happen to be in the mood, so I cranked up the Rammstein on my iPod.  By the time we switched drivers, I couldn't hear much at all.  I put in an ABBA CD.  I thought Mom would like the poppiness of it, but she doesn't seem to get into it.  Next long car trip, I will insist that she gets her folk music CDs together well ahead of time, and puts them in the car.  I can kind of deal with those, even if she sings along.  Better that than show tunes.  Dad was apparently getting cranky on the way home, as he said, "Sucks to be you," when I missed an exit.  Mom guided me through a very confusing mess of an exit -- it's the Valley Forge exit, which had construction done on it for many years, and is considerably more confusing than it was to start with.  It's easier to get onto 76 from there, but it's much harder to figure out how to get anywhere when you're getting off the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  We got home.  My hearing is gradually returning.
Paul Neyron rose 2

planning more travel

Registered to go to the "Gays of Our Lives" (http://www.gaysofourlives.org) event in New York City.  Lisabea (http://lisabea.blogspot.com) has posted all about it.  I'm hoping to crash with relatives who live in north Jersey or in the city itself.    As I noted to her, I've been wanting to explore the bars in the Village for twenty years, but never had the occasion.  Exploring them with Lisabea and the Eskimo Hordes, not to mention foreign soap opera stars, should be quite the event indeed.  I'll see if any of the over-21 kids from the GLBT group at [local university] are interested in going.  They probably wouldn't have the money for it, but I'm sure they would have fun.  I've been telling them all about the soap opera.