less of a drag, more of a race

a tribute to jinkx monsoon as little edie

a tribute to jinkx monsoon as little edie

So far I’m still on with season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I enjoyed the first two seasons, but three, four, and five left me tepid so I wasn’t counting on six to hold my interest. But I’m on board with this one, the queens are diverse enough to keep things interesting and I find redeeming qualities in most of them.

Last night was the Snatch Game episode, everyone’s favourite, although usually there’s really only one or two on the panel who have any chops at all, so I never got that. We made out better this time around, though there could’ve been a few little tweaks. Time for my unsolicited and too-late opinions.

Bianca as Judge Judy and Adore as Anna Nicole were wonderful. I was more impressed with Adore’s performance because Judge Judy was an obvious fit for Bianca. Courtney should’ve been Ukrainian Human Barbie, don’t you think? She could’ve switched out of her naturally bubbly spirit and taken things into plasticville, talked about her air and light diet, and pulled it off beautifully. Milk is the personality twin of Phyllis Diller – she could’ve even brought that pinocchi-nose of hers into play! And Laganja should’ve channelled personality twin Mariah Carey. I love Darienne, she has chops but I don’t think we’re seeing the best of her. If she would’ve gone a little more pop culture forward with someone like Rebel Wilson, she would’ve stood out more. She could’ve at least focused on a parody of current day Paula Deen, apologizing awkwardly over and over again for everything she said, and sticking her fingers up some cream filled Twinkie holes for a new ladyfinger dessert. Oh, Gia. I don’t know about her. She needed someone to whom she could apply her natural snark, but I can’t think of a celeb fit. Which I guess kind of sums things up. I liked Joslyn as Theresa Guidice, but she proved she could’ve been a better Fran Drescher than Courtney. And Ben was surprisingly the perfect Maggie Smith. I think Trinity could’ve pulled off Nicki Minaj if she had focused on her twitter personality.

So here’s where I think we’re headed with the top three: Ben and Bianca, of course. For contenders for the third spot, at this point it’s a four-way between Darienne, Adore, Milk, and Joslyn. Courtney will win Miss Congeniality, she’s such a package of sweet cheerfulness and girl power support.

I miss April.

looking for now, losing out later

Jonathan Groff as Patrick, Raúl Castillo as Richie

Jonathan Groff as Patrick, Raúl Castillo as Richie

I caught up with Looking last night, thanks to my free-for-three months gift of HBO due to a cable billing boo-boo. Damnit, I’m getting hooked on this program so when my time is up, I’ll be facing some serious withdrawal. Program pushers. They aren’t being generous, they’re being sneaky! But I can’t afford it, so although I was glad to hear that Looking has been renewed for a second season, I’m already grumbling about missing out.

I wasn’t completely sold for the first few episodes, and I was especially unhappy with Mister Patrick’s shady reaction to Richie, the charming guy he meets on a bus. Patrick is supposed to be from Colorado, and yet, he has an oddly ignorant reaction to Richie being Latino. What? Realistically, Patrick would have had a much greater chance of meeting and dating Latino men in Denver than he would in San Francisco. So why is he acting like he’s from Ohio? It’s inaccurate, and frankly, a very off-putting aspect of his character. He’s either completely oblivious, or a complete dick.

But overall, I found these men to have potential for developing into complex and complete characters. I like the quieter tone the show is taking, because we don’t need more riotous and goofy shows about gay people. I got my fill of that in the 90s. This is a fresher take on friendships and relationships, and doesn’t shy away from the many facets of these characters’ personalities, good and bad. Could Patrick be racist in spite of what we presume, having grown up in Colorado, would have been wide exposure to Latino culture and people? Yes. And I’m interested in seeing what he does with that, having met a perfectly sweet and adorable man who happens to be very attached to and proud of his culture.

Russell Tovey

Russell Tovey

I am pleasantly surprised to see Russell Tovey on the series, and find it kind of amusing that everyone is gushing over how hot, hot, hot he is, considering his previous roles in a number of British programs as the awkward one, sweet but definitely not gush-worthy. The boy had grown up nicely, though. Great guns!

I’m interested in all of their stories, and find the secondary characters as filled with potential for development as the core group is. Too bad I won’t be seeing series two as it happens. Damn you, evil enabling cable provider. Damn you.

crushed as the goal is reached

the walk - falling leaves  Vincent Van Gogh

the walk – falling leaves
Vincent Van Gogh

I’m back in the mode of thinking about art. Fine art – paintings. Out of any artist I can come up with, Van Gogh’s art is the most intimately communicative of his state of being. You can see what he’s feeling in the colors he uses, the textures of the paint – not just the concept he wants to capture, but his emotions, his connection, his outward expression of inward perception. That’s why I love him so much, and why his art hits me right in the gut when I look at it.

When I saw my first Van Goghs at the National Gallery in London, I reflexively let out this little squeak, almost a distressed sound, and several people turned to look at me, probably to make sure I wasn’t about to upchuck on the heels of that crude display. Sunflowers, a chair, a pair of crabs – fairly simple, innocuous stuff, no hidden messages or symbolic meanings, no profound statements or grand, sweeping canvases, and yet, there’s a poignancy in these paintings, as if he’s left pieces of his self inside the images, with their shaky edges and thick slaps of paint.

One of my favourite paintings, not at the National but at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, is The Walk – Falling Leaves. I first saw a picture of this painting many years ago, when I was reading Jean Paul Sartre’s “Nausea,” and it seemed to me the perfect representation of Antoine’s confrontation with existence in the park, a sort of melding and separating that he experiences between himself and in particular, the trees, and describes as the melting of a veneer, a residue of “soft, monstrous masses, all in disorder—naked, a frightful, obscene nakedness.” He’s frightened, horrified, and also mesmerized and grasping for understanding within himself, in the deepest resonance he can manage.

Van Gogh’s paintings seem to me to exist on this level of revelation. In The Walk, the trees are lovely and majestic representations of a fall day, and also twisted and blackened around the edges and at the roots, grasping at the earth as their temporary death approaches. They are, as Antoine explains, a breathless understanding, a “belonging… that the sea belonged to the class of green objects, or that the green was a part of the quality of the sea.” The objects and landscapes he painted belong in that same way: the chair a part of the quality of the man, the sunflowers a class of yellow objects, external things he managed to capture without changing anything in their nature. They live in a way that, as Antoine explains, inconveniences us – or me, at least. A wonderful, breathless, squeaky inconvenience.

I think that’s the best individuals can hope for when searching for some form of elevation. I think it’s a mistake to believe that a sense of achievement ultimately comes in the form of spiritual comfort. Or no, that’s not quite what I mean to say. I guess it’s the thought that we’re really getting anywhere by seeking comfort that is the mistake.

Not that I think Van Gogh was an enlightened man. I think he was a troubled man, battered by his own emotions and his inability to control all that he thought and felt, until he picked up his palette. Then, there is evidence of controlled chaos on his canvases. Controlled chaos is the true awakening of the “spirit” as it’s known. I’m not suggesting this comes with self mortification or the slashing off of body parts – not the sense of being in the way as Van Gogh felt himself to be – nope. Controlled chaos is the trick of it. To see with an “artistic eye” the abstractions of life, to allow ourselves to actively experience the horror, and obscenity and the nausea, and then to be able to find our way out of the park, stand opposite of the image, and smile back as it smiles at us. To be conspirators in the depictions.

That’s what his paintings are. That’s why they are so much more than paintings.

i sing the body electric

Whitman-leavesofgrassI recently watched a wonderful biography of Walt Whitman (American Masters). I knew beforehand about the significance of his lifelong work, Leaves of Grass, but I didn’t know anything about Whitman outside of what he presented through his poetry. He is the inspirational icon we all need, and this is why.

He came from a lower middleclass background, with little to inspire hope for something more. His father had big dreams, but became more and more bitter and unbalanced as he continually failed to fulfil them. He wasn’t a good example of perseverance and grace in the face of setbacks. But it didn’t discourage Walt. He maintained his own visions of success, incredibly lofty ones.

As a young man, he marched into the middle of New York with the idea of changing the world through his poetry. What? Really? Who the hell thinks they have the ability, much less the opportunity, to change the world through verse? Walt did. And though it took a lot longer than he had hoped, he did end up making a huge impact. Perhaps not world-changing, but certainly inspiring and thought provoking and incredibly forward thinking.

His first edition of Leave of Grass was a small collection of poems, self published, with an irreverent full body sketch of Whitman in plain clothes and an almost cocky stance as the first visual. It was a “here I am” presentation that went directly opposite of the usual portraits of poets in their best clothes, and looking dignified in a cameo sort of way. It was a proper warning for what the reader could expect.

His poems gave the same full exposure to the workings of the human animal, mind, body, and spirit. There especially was a great focus on the body, the beauty of its functions, and how cleverly bodies fit together to precisely express what it is to be emotional, sensual, physical. And he didn’t hold back on claiming the same sensations, the same achievements of physical fulfilment between a man and a man. Whoa. In 1855, that took some great big balls. But if anyone was packing, it was the poet of the people, Walt Whitman.

The sheer force of the sensual experiences that he put forth – sensual in every possible connotation – brought tears to my eyes. Because how does a person live so boldly, so all-embracing, so fully engaged with the world? It would tear me apart to attempt such a thing. But his full-on embrace was the driving force behind his belief that he could be the Great American Poet, that he could put an end to the ills of mankind, including slavery, through his words. That he could so beautifully express love in all its varieties, and the sensuality of the grass beneath our feet, and the sky above our heads, and how fortunate we are to be surrounded by innumerable opportunities to engage our senses.

If that isn’t the world-changing model of how we should grab on and experience life – not just as observers, but as wholly committed participants… why finish that thought? It unequivocally is.

inspiration, agitation, sweet libation

Not quite an end of the year roundup because that no longer applies, but rather a brief account of what I’m doing, what I’m thinking about, what I’m planning, what will most likely not get thought about/planned/done this year.

iris apfel at home

iris apfel at home

My last post was a tribute to Isabella Blow, and I feel compelled to give a shoutout to another fashion icon, Iris Apfel. Ninety-one years old, this lady has scads of style – literally. She loves decorative chaos, from her modern take on Victorian clutter in her home to being up to her elbows in bangles at all times. It’s an artful chaos, the kind that, like a Jackson Pollock painting, keeps your eyes darting about, fascinated by the layers upon layers of clashing patterns and colors that somehow come together to create a cohesive look. She designed textiles with her husband, and has an eye for curious creativity. She’s amassed a clothing collection that has been on display several times, because it’s just that interesting. I admire the peanuts out of her.

Speaking of clutter (and nuts), I’m working on several different pieces at once—unusual for me, but right now, while I’m having trouble keeping my mind on any one thing for an extended period of time, it’s working remarkably well to jump from one to another during the day. I’m editing one piece, writing two more. Because they’re so different in tone, it’s surprisingly easy to shift about with renewed enthusiasm. I long for the days of unbroken concentration on a single piece, but until I can reclaim the ability, this is a great way to keep me going. I get a little nutso when I can’t write steadily. It’s like going stir crazy, all blue-balled in my head until I become an impossible bundle of nerves. This is the release.

The stress I’ve been under with some family issues, mostly stemming from my mother’s death a year ago, year and a half, has created monkeymind. I don’t think I’m thinking about it, but it’s there, disrupting my calm and consequently, my concentration. I’m hoping that will change this year. Either there will be progress, or I will have learned to back away.

There’s a new way to stay mellow in Colorado. Well, an old way that’s newly legal. Weed, of course. I’ve had it only sporadically since college, I’m lazy and antisocial, so I don’t like to go around looking for a source or a circle to insert myself into. Now I don’t have to. I’ve yet to go a-shopin’ but in a day or two there will be a place opening up about a mile from home. Seems I’m out of touch on methods of partaking. Vaporizers? And here am I, sloppy joint rolling my only method to date. I don’t mind pipes, like bongs, but I’ve never eaten it. I hear that’s a whole different kind of high. I’m planning on finding out.

Hey, there is a purpose to this. Monkeymind needs taming.

my mind was blown

Isabella Blow at the American Embassy in Paris, 1998

Isabella Blow at the American Embassy in Paris, 1998

…By this iconic Ms. Fanciful. A cheeky, insightful, unapologetic fashionista with a natural exoticism that she played up and played with, and shared with others. She is one of my first fashion idols, who taught me what that world is truly about: play-pretties and dress up, pantomime and art. Performance art, yes, but also about inspiration and inborn talent, things that can be faked and mocked and copied, can even be bought and sold, but can only be found in the heart of a true artist. She knew how to find it and nurture it and extoll it, but I don’t know whether she realised that she was IT, smack in the middle of it all.

Dress-up is a great game for those who are hesitant to reveal the uncertain underpinnings beneath it all; to others, and to themselves. At some point, the veil between worlds grew too thin, and she couldn’t cover for herself anymore. I miss her, but I’m still inspired by her. That’s the effect you have when you’re an icon – you never go out of style.

c’mon release me, c’mon relieve me

why is ian curtis here? because i fucking said so

why is ian curtis here? because i fucking said so

Lawd, it’s been too long since I’ve made an entry so I’m gonna, in spite of my downed inhibitions. I just preached about downed inhibitions to two people tonight, so guess I better step up and take myself down, too.

I’m always blahblah going on about ~shit~ that is occupying my mind, and that’s what I’m hesitant to put down in print because it all sounds so incredibly twattish and self indulgent (as dicks and twats are by nature) but underneath it’s really just me, my crazy mind trying to figure out things and make sense of the maze we’re all winding our way through. So….

I’m reading Franny and Zooey again. One of my favourite books, because it’s about deconstructing spirituality to find the divine. The divinity in the mundane.

I’m not a religious person, I’m not a spiritual person, but I am someone who appreciates the origins of the divine. People don’t like to examine their religions, their gods, because to examine is to deconstruct, to pull apart. And when you’ve done that, the individual pieces are just parts, little springs and gears and cogs that individually mean very little. The mystery is solved, the divinity is gone. But maybe not. Maybe what you have left in all of these pieces is the true breathless beauty of simplicity. And when you see that, it’s an ecstatic moment. It’s sad, and it’s funny, and it scares the shit out of you. It’s the irony that lingers. Divine fucking irony that shoulders you with a burden that’s yours to carry for the rest of your life.

Religion is about comfort. Spirituality is about superiority. And pulling apart is about creating a mess. You can’t ever put the pieces back together in the original form.

What this little tome all comes down to is that, ah Buddy, ah Buddy, the fat lady is christ himself. Forget divinity, forget apotheosis and theology, just concentrate on the fat lady and shining our shoes for her. She can’t see them, but she knows. She knows. And that is the essence of giving ourselves over to the selflessness of self actualization. That’s what it is, Buddy. That’s it. And that’s what I’m striving for in my own reckless and flawed way. That’s the core of it. I’m a fucking idiot reaching for the selflessness of self actualization.

I’m going to shine those fucking shoes, Buddy.

halloween giveaway

murmur coverHey, tricky treaters, I am giving away 3 ebook copies of my novel, Murmur in celebration of Halloween. To enter the random drawing, message me via Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, or leave a comment on my website.

The drawing will be held at midnight MST on Halloween. Woo!