Month: September 2012

Why One Gay Couple Hates "The New Normal"

I’ve posted several times about how I like “The New Normal.” I can identity with most of it, which is one of the reasons why I like it so much. I thought I would be in the majority on this, but last night I found out I was wrong.

Tony and I have two very good old friends, a gay couple who have been together since 1975. They were only in their very early twenties when they met, so they aren’t that old now. One is a retired English professor and the other has been working in publishing since the 1970’s. We don’t see them that often anymore because they live between NY, Key West, and New Hope.

We started a tradition about fifteen years ago where a group of us would get together and celebrate individual birthdays at different times of the year. The birthday group started out with about fifteen people, and now it’s dwindled down to just the four of us. Some moved; some passed away. Tony and I were always the youngest in that particular group and we’ve made a lot of new friends since. But it’s nice to get together with old friends you don’t see often. In this case, it’s like family. As a side note, when Tony was hospitalized in 2007, near death, with pneumonia, these were two of the very close friends who were there when I needed them. You’d be amazed at how you learn who your true friends are during a time of crisis. A lot of people disappear, which you tend not to forget.

In any event, we started talking about gay fiction first. My friend in publishing is always amazed at how straight women have embraced gay fiction in the past few years. He’s more concentrated in non-fiction and mainstream fiction, so anything LGBT oriented is a novelty to him. Then the conversation moved on to LGBT TV shows and I mentioned how much I love watching “The New Normal.” Both my friends looked at each other and made faces, and then they went into long individual reasons why they don’t like “The New Normal” at all.

While they spoke, Tony and I just listened because we both like the show. They seemed to think it’s just more stereotypical nonsense that doesn’t depict the way real gay male couples live. Again, we just listened without speaking. I found their POV interesting, not offensive. They were especially annoyed…the the point of frustration…with respect to all the talk about gay men having kids on “The New Normal.” And it’s not the first time I’ve heard this. Many older gay couples don’t want kids, never wanted kids, and can’t seem to understand why any other gay couples would want them. In fact, in this case, this older gay couple can’t stand kids in general and they will proudly state this to your face. I’m not exaggerating either.

I tend to think this is generational, and for a myriad of reasons I won’t get into in one short blog post. But it wasn’t just the “kid” aspect of “The New Normal” they didn’t like. They thought one of the main characters (can’t remember his name) was far too effeminate…which is also why they refuse to watch “Modern Family.” And, this part blew me away. My friends thought the gay bar scene in the first episode of “The New Normal” was totally fake. For those who didn’t see this scene, it’s basically centered around the two characters going to a bar, sitting there bored, and acting as if they are too old to be out in a gay bar. My friends thought it was a cliched spin on straight married couples, and they don’t identify with straight married couples…at all, not ever. They also thought this was completely unrealistic, especially since my friends are much older and they still enjoy going out to gay bars.

We eventually moved on to other topics, but I couldn’t help thinking about how different their reaction was to our reaction to “The New Normal.” Again, I think it’s generational. It was also difficult to argue the points they were making because I knew deep down they weren’t completely wrong. But it really is all debatable. The only reason I’m saying this is because Tony and I have thought about adopting a child more than once. And, Tony and I have been in that bar scene ourselves that was depicted on the TV show and we were both bored to death and we are only in our early forties. So I guess it’s hard to please everyone, especially in a community where people are all so very different. I’m also starting to wonder if it will ever be possible to please all gay people at the same time with anything. It will be interesting to see how “The New Normal” moves forward with future episodes. I’m going to be watching closely just to see if I feel the same way in the future as I do now.

Enjoying The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling…

I wanted to post something short about The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling because of a few reviews I saw, including one in the NYT. And based on these reviews, if I were an average reader who was thinking of purchasing TCV, I might be a little confused. I’m not disagreeing with the reviews. I’m just offering another opinion in case anyone is confused. And take into consideration that I’ve never read “Harry Potter,” nor do I ever intend to read HP. So I’m reading J.K. Rowling for the first time with TCV, and I have nothing to which to compare it.

But I know how to vet reviews when I’m shopping for books, and I know how to read between the lines of these reviews to know if I’ll like the book or not. I don’t always pay attention to the glowing reviews either. Of course it’s always a gamble with something new, but I decided to buy TCV based on the negative reviews because most of what I read in those reviews that other people didn’t like sounded like things I might like.

And I was right on target this time. I bought the Kindle version late last night and read well into the early hours of Saturday morning. First, the e-book is fine. I read somewhere there were issues with formatting; I didn’t find a single issue so far. I did not see any mistakes at all in formatting, nor have I seen any other problems so far. If I do, I will post more about that. But as it stands, the quality of the e-book is just as good as any other I’ve read before. And I tend to be very particular about formatting based on my own experiences with my own e-books.

So this is a “so far” review, in case anyone is thinking about buying the book but isn’t sure. I’ve only read the first third of the book and these are my opinions…so far. I like the characters and don’t think they are dark and gloomy. I think they are real, and they remind me of a cross between the characters in an Anne Tyler novel, in a Jonathan Franzen novel, and in a Grace Metalious novel. If you don’t know who Grace Metalious is, look her up. It’s worth the effort.

The storyline begins with something shocking…our worst nightmare…and takes off from there by getting into the lives of people who live in a small town in England, Pagford. Try not to read the Amazon blurb because it gives out a spoiler right away. I didn’t read it and I’m glad I didn’t. It would have ruined the first two chapters for me. Aside from this, it seems to be about family, about the interaction between couples, and about small town relationships with friends. For those who live in small towns or are familiar with small towns, you’ll find yourself relating to more than a few things.

It’s also well written and moves quickly. Nothing offensive like so many things I see nowadays in fiction with respect to said bookisms and bad dialouge tags overloaded with adverbs. This writing is tight and concise. There’s nothing that will take you out of the storyline. I tend to be particular about these things as well. And when someone like J.K. Rowling writes a novel like this I’m expecting her to live up to her reputation. And so far she has. I don’t have one single complaint.

That’s about all I can say for now. I will post a full review when I’m finished reading. I hope this might help someone who is thinking about buying TCV but isn’t sure because of the reviews they’ve read so far. It didn’t take long for the author to pull me into the story and that doesn’t always happen. And I don’t have that “I’ll keep reading and hope it gets better” feeling. This time I can’t wait to pick up my e-reader and get back into it.

Matt Bomer; White Collar Renewed; Fifty Shades and New Film

According to eonline, USA is renewing Matt Bomer’s show, White Collar, plus three other shows.

 The move was expected, as each of those series has proven to be a reliable ratings performer, with the trio ranking among the top 10 basic-cable summer dramas in adults 18-49 (aka the catnip-to-advertisers demo). Collectively, the shows recently helped USA notch a seventh straight win as summer’s No. 1 basic-cable network in all key demos. 

It’s one of the shows I plan to DVR. I’ll have the series manager record it automatically, without fail. Aside from the fact that Bomer is openly gay and breaking gay stereotypes as well as forging a path for other openly gay actors, it’s really a good show and he’s an excellent actor, too.

In this article, it goes into more detail about the show, with some good photos.

Neal and Peter have seen their fair share of drama this season — and it’s only gotten worse since Sam (Treat Williams) entered the picture. However, as most White Collar fans have come to know, there’s always a level of tension between the two confidantes.

And in this piece it talks about how Matt Bomer could still be in the running for the film version of big book “Fifty Shades of Grey.” As a fan of FSoG, and as someone who has recently contributed to a book titled, “Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey,” I think Bomer has what it takes as far as acting skills go. And I think he might be able to soften Christian to a certain extent, and at the same time keep him with the cutting edge I liked so much in the book.

And, I hope the people producing this film realize how many women out there read gay erotic romance for the escapism. Speaking from personal experiences because many of these women are my readers, I hope the producers of FSoG don’t underestimate the draw Matt Bomer would be to this film. And, as a side note, if two straight guys can star in “Brokeback Mountain,” let’s spin it around and let the gay guy prove his acting skills in FSoG. I was not disappointed in BM and the straight actors did a wondeful job, and I don’t think I’d be disappointed if Bomer plays Christain Grey. I hate to put those labels out there, but they are there and it’s just a reality. I admire Bomer’s guts to go out and prove himself this way. He’s paving the way for all gay guys, not just actors.

The piece also mentions a new role Matt just landed:

Deadline reports that Bomer has joined the cast of Winter’s Tale along with Lucy Griffiths – who recently played Alexander Skarsgård’s twisted vampire sister on True Blood – and Golden Age actress Eva Marie Saint. The romance, which will mark Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman’s directorial debut, is based on Mark Helprin’s fantasy novel that splits it story of star-crossed lovers between 19th century and present-day Manhattan.

If you read this article in full you’ll see the interesting part Bomer is playing.

Is Sarah Palin Still Eating at Chick-fil-a; Book Reviewer Jerome Whitehead; Whatever Became of "Romfail?"

It looks as though Chick-Fil-A has altered its stand on gay marriage, at least it appears that way at a glance.

Chick-fil-A is looking to put this summer’s fast-food culture wars behind it and will no longer donate money to groups fighting to block same-sex marriage—at least that’s what gay rights advocates in Chicago are saying. The chicken chain, however, is saying suspiciously little about the whole thing.

You can read more here in an article by Josh Voorhees.

I posted several times about this issue last summer, here, and here. When you click the latter link you’ll see a photo of Sarah Palin proudly holding up a big bag of Chick-Fil-A fast food in what clearly looks more like a stand against gay marriage than it does support for freedom of speech.

In any event, now that Chick-Fil-A has changed its stand on contributing money to organizations that don’t support gay marriage, I’m wondering if Sarah Palin is waiting in line these days for a big old bag of Chick-Fil-A to prove her point and put yet another spin on a topic that involves civil rights, not so much freedom of speech. Freedom of speech, at least in part, is knowing we can say or write or support anything we want, and I respect that right. But that doesn’t mean we are all going to say or write or support a decent, ethical cause. In this case, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to compare what’s going on now with gay marriage to the highly charged civil rights movement in the middle of the last century.

Now, here’s a link to a book reviewer, Jerome Whitehead, I recently met through a private message on facebook. He wanted to review one of my books, but only in print. The problem is that even though I have over 90 published works out, the majority of my recent releases are all in digital format…e-books…and all of the older books I’ve written, or have been in, are not books that I actually own. Believe it or not, the majority of what I’ve written, including what I’ve published alone in KDP, are all in my digital library.

But I am going to look around for a copy of something and see what I can come up with. I like/love his most recent review of “Ghetto Medic,” by Rachel Hennick, and I’m probably going to buy it and read it myself just based on his review. In this case, I don’t think I’ll have to vet much. I trust his judgment and the book sounds like something I’d enjoy.

“Ghetto Medic” is the remarkable true story of the life of Bill Hennick, a firefighter and paramedic in Baltimore, Maryland; a city which today boasts the busiest fire stations in the United States. The story begins in 1945, when Bill, aged four, is badly burned in a terrible fire started by an older child playing with matches. When he reaches adulthood, he begins searching for his purpose in life and identifies fire as “the enemy.”

I’m also a huge fan of books set in Baltimore, thanks to Anne Tyler’s fiction, and I enjoy that period. You can read the full review at the link provided above. Here’s a link to Amazon where the book can be purchased.

There’s just one problem. I couldn’t find a digital version of the book. And I’m not sure why. The last print book I read was “Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” and I don’t feel like spending $16.50 for a paperback, nor do I want to go back to reading paperbacks when I have five devices on which I read now. But the book does look great, so I’m going to have to weigh that decision. I just wish authors would keep up with what’s happening in publishing and at the very least release books in both digital and print. I’m guilty of this myself because I don’t release a lot of books in print, just digital. But that’s only because sales in print do not compare to sales in digital…for me. It’s a pragmatic business decision for me. But I don’t understand what would motivate an author to ignore digital books nowadays. I hope she reads this post. I will probably order the paperback, but how many others won’t?

Finally, whatever happened to “Romfail?”

That’s an interesting question, because Romfail just seemed to disappear into thin air never to be heard of again, oh my. For those who don’t know, Romfail was this “thing” on twitter that happened a few years ago. From what I can gather, it was orchestrated by Her Royal Highness Jane Litte of the we all know the best books ever written kingdom…mostly books with covers of women in long flowing red gowns. Oh yes, Romfail was big doings back then. It was filled with pithy snarky internet-isms that make most things now pale in comparison. I didn’t keep up with it regularly, but I heard about it everywhere I went online at the time. As far as I can recall, I wasn’t targeted in Romfail, but I’d stopped all google alerts around that time because I found them too distracting. So I might have been part of the fun for all I know.

And what kind of fun was that?

Well. Every Friday night a group of people…romance fans of the we all know the best books kingdom…would gather on twitter and laugh about books and authors they didn’t like. If you interpreted it as parody, it could be quite entertaining in a harmless way. If you enjoyed watching those who only know what good writing is, you lived for Friday nights. If you didn’t, it could be psychologically painful at best. One blogger wrote this:

On a final note, I would love to know what kinds of reviews these “mean girls” are receiving for their books. I would like to know how these people would feel if it were their books being offered up for sacrifice, and just how much fun it would still be if it were they who suffered the humility and heartache over having one of their beloved books torn apart—with quotes taken out of context—for all the world to see.

I find the last line of that excerpt interesting, the part about quotes taken out of context. I recently did this in a blog post myself. I took a non-erotic romance that had a woman with a long flowing red gown on the cover, without naming the author, and put my own spin on the book by taking her quotes out of context and making her book look stupid. Of course I don’t really think her book is stupid. I actually like what she writes. But it’s an interesting concept anyone can do. I had so much fun (I speak in jest; not fun at all) with that book I might even do it again the next time I see it happen to an erotic romance, just for sport. It’s not like anyone would begrudge me having a little fun, too…especially with a romance that had a woman in a long flowing gown on the cover.

Then there was this post, this post, and this post. All about Romfail.

If you google Romfail, you’ll come up with other related posts that were written back then by people who were, at the time, either anti-Romfail or pro-Romfail. As I said, I didn’t get into it because I was too busy writing books. And it’s really not the kind of shitstorm I would have gotten into if I hadn’t had better things to do. I don’t like that kind of cheese on a regular basis. But I do like to go back once in a while and post things like this for those who are new to publishing and those who don’t know all the intricacies of navigating the web as authors or readers. Pardon the cliche, but history always repeats itself. And there are some things we should never forgot.

Should Web Site Owners and Social Media Be Held Accountable?

Earlier this week I posted about an incident of Internet crime where a young man allegedly stalked minors on facebook with fake identities and sockpuppet accounts.

Tonight I read this article:

A substitute teacher at a Georgia high school has been fired after he allegedly took photos of a female student in class and posted them to the Internet, authorities said. He is now being investigated by the local Sheriff’s office, Fox Atlanta reports.
 
The teacher, whose identity has not been released, allegedly posted covert photos of an East Coweta High School student to the “CreepShots” forum on Reddit. The subsection, which carries an “18 and over” disclaimer, is devoted to photos of women taken without their knowledge.

When someone on reddit complained and threatened to contact the authorities, this is how the reddit moderator replied:

“When you are outside and in public space, you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” the user wrote, likening photography without consent to the relationship between celebrities and paparazzi.

It’s an interesting article that gets into this in more detail, with examples of how Anderson Cooper made comments in 2011 with a similar situation.

I know nothing about Reddit, or what people do there. But it’s obviously a web site that does not vet what users are doing or the photos they are posting. If they were, you wouldn’t see photos of minors posted in a forum called “creepshots.” And I think it’s time for them to be held accountable, as businesspeople. I have a sense of humor, I’m not holier than thou, as Joe Konrath would say, but I do think that when “creep” photos of minors are taken in a classroom and posted on a public Internet forum, there’s something wrong with the web site…as a business…itself.

Why aren’t Internet businesses, like facebook and reddit, forced to follow the same laws other businesses follow. Why are web sites and social media allowed to instigate corruption by allowing users to post sexually suggestive photos of minors, and why are they allowed to encourage fake identities that many times lead to crimes of bullying, victimization, and stalking?

Try owning a restaurant, or a retail clothing store, and allowing some of your customers to put up photos of minors on a bulletin board next to the cash register and see what happens. The business owner would be held just as responsible as the person who posted them on the board. I’ve owned several service/retail businesses and I took full responsibility for my actions and the actions of my employees at the time, because I knew that one wrong move would involve a lawsuit I didn’t want to deal with.

Not so much with Internet businesses. They get away with anything they want, and they do it with a sense of entitlement we haven’t seen since the days of the old Wild West. They seem to have free range to post, do, or allow anything they want…even at the cost of someone else’s security and well-being. In many cases with minors.

I believe in freedom of speech, and I know personally what it’s like to be censored by mistake. All I’m saying is that all Internet businesses, including all social media, should be held accountable if and when something does happen that is questionable. And I think posting photos of young women in classrooms on reddit falls into that catergory.

"One Bride Three Grooms"

 

I just read a bog post where the blogger mentioned he’d recently moved, and had been to two weddings. Nothing unusual about that. I have one wedding next week, and then two more in November.

It was the comment thread that made me smile:

Comment #1: “Congrats on the big move…and the two new brides ;).”

Blogger reply: “One bride and three grooms!”