Category: downton abbey

Authors United Amazon Letter; Zachary Quinto on James Franco; Downton Abbey Gay Surprise; Straight Ice Cream;

Authors United Amazon Letter

This is one of those posts I hate to write because I’m never sure how to comment.

With that said, a letter went out to Amazon executives from a group called Authors United that includes some heavy hitting names has generated quite a few negative responses all over the publishing community. It’s in reference to the Hachette/Amazon battle that doesn’t seem to want to end.

Amazon argues that most e-books should be sold at $9.99 to spur sales, while Hachette says it should be able to set prices on its own.

I think what Hachette doesn’t realize is that the people who read e-books have limits. In other words, Hachette or any other publisher can price an e-book as high as they want but people who only read e-books won’t buy them. As a reader, I’ve passed on more e-books than I can count in the past five years. And that doesn’t mean I bought the print book. I found other publishers, authors, and even indie authors who are just as good as any from the big 5 and I read those e-books instead. I have choices now. The gatekeepers are not dictating what I read anymore.  

Amazon has blocked pre-orders and slowed shipping times of some books, a negotiating tactic that has alienated a number of high-profile authors including Gladwell and Patterson.

Here’s a link to the actual letter at Authors United. There’s really nothing I can add, other than I think we can score a few points for Amazon on this one. It should be interesting to see how Amazon responds, if they even bother.

Downton Abbey Gay Plot

If you follow Downton Abbey you know there’s a gay character who is not only gorgeous and evil, but is depicted as a victim of his times and circumstances. He has no choices whatsoever, other than to conform and pretend. Now there’s supposedly a new twist on the gay character in Downton Abbey this season.

Still, on the upcoming fifth season of the compulsively watchable British drama, Barrow will “not only question his sexuality but try to change it, with devastating consequences,” according to the Daily Mail.

Last season I thought they backed away from any gay storyline, which bothered me a little because I wanted something…at least a little something. It looks as if they’ll be making up for lost time this season.

You can read more here.

Zachary Quinto on James Franco

It’s kind of ironic to post about a privileged straight white man like James Franco after posting something about how horrific life was for homosexual people back in the early part of the last century…and prior to that. It’s still not all that great, even though we’re gaining momentum as each day passes.

James Franco has been called obsessed with gay culture and Zachary Quinto is now coming to his defense. The two are involved in some movie I can’t recall right now…about gays I think.

‘My feeling about James, in particular, is that he’s someone who is really interested in generating a dialogue,’ Quinto tells HuffPost Live. ‘I think it’s certainly an issue in society today that warrants provocative discussion.’

I’m honestly not sure what to think about Franco anymore. He does something absolutely ridiculous one day, to the point of insulting, and the next he does something fascinating and wonderful.

You can read more here.

Straight Ice Cream

This is actually something that’s hard to understand because as a marketing strategy it’s dangerous. An ice cream shop in New York’s West Village put up a sign that says they’re selling straight ice cream in what appears to be a way to retaliate, or compete, against another ice cream shop across the street that’s called the Big Gay Ice Cream shop. The gay shop found out about this and went on a twitter smear campaign.

‘If you pass by @galloneronyc maybe you could pop in & let em know what you think of this advertising campaign,’ they said.

Responses to the pic include: ‘Apparently the “true taste of Italy” that @GalloNeroNYC creates is homophobia. Mmm…tasteless.’

‘Wow! That is the most inappropriate ad I’ve seen in a long time! Obviously @biggayicecream must be a threat.’

‘Funny how your homophobic ice cream is boring and @biggayicecream has fun flavors. A lot like life, huh?’

Who would have thought the ice cream business could be so vicious?

In any event, you can read more here about ice cream and alleged homophobia.

 Books in the Glendora Hill Series

Rob James-Collier Gay Kiss; FREE Excerpt; Tale of the Burping Penis

I found a web site the other day where you can create your own comic book covers and I decided to parody a review I once received for a book I wrote that talked about a burping penis. Of course this was at least four years ago and it’s long been forgotten, however, I still see it mentioned every now and then in far off remote places on the Interwebs. The review itself wasn’t the most flattering I’ve ever received, but certainly not the worst either. I’d written a parody of the TV show American Idol (American Star) and I’d made an off-handed reference to the size of a penis and how it was so large the mc could have thrown it over his shoulder and burped it. So it really wasn’t even a burping penis, but we all know how that goes.

I’ve always thought that review was significant to one thing in particular. And that’s the difference between the way some gay men and some straight women think. (Not all; just some.) I have never read a book reviewed well on that site that I would find entertaining, especially any book with gay content. Sometimes I’ve found books reviewed poorly that I’ve loved. In fact, when I really can’t figure out what to read next I often go there and look for bad reviews just to find something I’ll love. It never fails.

Oddly, I have many good women friends in my real life, both gay and straight. And many good women friends online, too. One of my characters once made a snide nasty comment about women and when my editor said I should remove it because it sounded sexist I listened. I didn’t want my women readers to get insulted, even if it was the character’s personality (he was a sexist shit). So I really do care about things like this when I’m writing and the last thing I want to do is insult women.

Don’t me wrong. I’m not complaining about the review four years later either. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard myself when I read it. In a way it was actually a parody review of a parody. Unfortunately I don’t think that was on purpose because I don’t think the reviewer knew that some gay men tend to have a vicious wit sometimes and often parody penis sizes and other things they find funny…in a harmless way. I think she tends to think of us as these politically correct types on TV shows like Modern Family. In any event, it was an amusing, innocent review and you can’t fault some straight people for not understanding gay people. They don’t always get all the information they should be getting. It’s our job to educate them.

In any event, here’s a link to the web site where I came up with the comic book cover. You’ve been forewarned. You might wind up there for a few hours.

Rob James-Collier Gay Kiss

For those who don’t know, Rob James-Collier is the actor who plays Thomas in Downtown Abbey. Thomas is gay, and not sure how to survive in the post-Edwardian era. He’s also extremely aggressive, extremely attractive, and extremely horny all the time. And there was one scene in season three where he sneaks into the bedroom of a new servant…an adorable young man…and kisses him while he’s sleeping.

Keep in mind this didn’t just happen on the spur of the moment. Thomas was lead to believe that the new young servant was highly attracted to him, and Thomas has been attracted to him for a long time. But even knowing this, and knowing how a gay man would have been so careful to protect his sexuality in those days, I found it hard to believe that scene would ever have happened in real life. But it did make for entertaining fiction, and what young gay man on earth wouldn’t want handsome aggressive Thomas sneaking into his bedroom in the middle of the night to steal a kiss. Pure fantasy and escapism. Plus, Rob James-Collier is NOT the kind of man you’d kick out of bed either.

The scene almost reminded me of that gay adult entertainment site, “Gay Creeps,” where good looking gay guys sneak up on other guys while they are sleeping and do very naughty things to them. Once again, pure parody. I can only imagine how the reviewer I mentioned above would react to a web site like this. Why I’m sure she’d pull her pencil skirt down below her knees, then shudder and cross her legs (this is vicious gay wit).

As far as I know, Rob James-Collier is straight, but he’s also a damn good sport:

Downton Abbey star Rob James-Collier has revealed that kissing his co-star Ed Speleers in the scene where his character Thomas got caught stealing into Jimmy’s room and planting a kiss on the sleeping servant, was a pleasure to play.

“That guy Ed Speleers (who plays Jimmy) has got really soft lips,” he joked.

“If you’re going to kiss a man, let it be a beautiful man like Ed Speleers. I’m not going to demand a beautiful guy. I’d kiss ugly guys as well, but if they’re good looking… it’s a bonus.”

Well done, sir!

Excerpt From New Bad Boy Billionaire Book

I’ve hit the midway point in the latest book of the Bad Boy Billionaire series I’ve been writing this year. Right now it’s tentatively titled: The Silicon Valley Rake. But that will change. This book is set in Cupertino, the main character is a billionaire who started a web site called “,” and he’s probably the worst bad boy I’ve done so far.

I’m actually having trouble liking him myself at this point in the book. For one thing, he owns this web site where he will never allow sockpuppets or fakes, and yet he has his own fake accounts on the web site. He lies to other men, he throws tempter tantrums when things don’t go his way, and he basically has no regard for anyone but himself. And I’m going to have to find a way to soften him. And I think that I’ll wind up doing that by showing that he’s playing a dangerous game and all the money in the world isn’t going to protect him.

The one thing I did differently in this book than I’ve ever done before is to make him extremely comfortable with women. In a way, this shows his softer side. I found that while writing his character, and showing how competitive he is with other men, he needed a balance. So I made him extremely comfortable with women. The only character in the book he likes so far is a woman. And I tried hard to do this without making it a stereotypical gay man straight woman relationship. Notice how I don’t use the FH word for women who are friendly with a gay man. THAT word is one I don’t like at all. I think I hate it even more than I hate being referred to as queer.

Here’s a brief excerpt, in its raw form, without editing:


In a section of town not far from other large Internet companies, he owned the building complex that housed the offices for Unlike the high and mighty space ship nightmare of one large tech company he preferred never to name aloud, Shannon’s building stood low and unobtrusive. It had originally been an underwear factory that also made sweat socks and jock straps. He’d purchased the old fifty thousand square foot complex in a shambles and had it renovated to perfection. He’d kept it simple, dignified, and as minimalist as everything else in his life, with exposed walls of brick, simple black and grey logos, and stained concrete floors. He’d won awards for this building, too. Partly because of the way he’d designed it to be so ecologically responsible with solar panels to maintain the seventy degrees he loved, and partly because of the attention he’d paid to the original architecture. The ultimate goal would be to have it listed as a historic sight.

            Shannon pulled into a parking space up front near the main entrance, the one with his name on it. He knew the other cars in the parking lot either belonged to the maintenance staff or to the administrative assistants he employed. As an online business, required twenty-four hour customer service at all times, and Shannon, unlike other online social networks he knew of, took this seriously. He truly believed this concentration on detail, and this need to treat his customers with care, had helped to make him a billionaire. But more than that, he also believed that by keeping his employees as happy and comfortable as possible his business ran even smoother. It wasn’t that he had any deep concern for them; he just liked making money.

            “Good morning, Karla,” he said, as he entered the main lobby. He knew every employee by name.

            “Good morning, Shannon,” she said. All his employees called him by his first name. Some found this awkward, but he insisted.

            “You’re looking nice today,” said Shannon. She wore a bright orange blouse and thick silver jewelry with bright green stones. The color combination suited her extremely dark complexion well. She’d come from the West Indies and spoke with a charming accent. The cleaning service he employed to take care of the office complex and his home had sent her to his home to do a routine cleaning. The first day he’d met her four years earlier, on his way to work, he’d found out she’d worked for a doctor and that the only job she’d been able to get in the US was as a cleaning person. At the time he’d needed someone smart, friendly, and personable for the main lobby desk. He’d spotted her talents and hired her on the spot. After that, he went to work getting her a green card and making her a legal resident. He’d done more for her than anyone had ever done, and now there was nothing she wouldn’t do for him. And he knew this.  

            “Thank you, Shannon,” she said. “You’re looking as handsome as always. One of these days we’re going to get you and account on lovemetender.”

            He smiled and said, “We’ll see about that.”

            He continued walking back to his office in the main part of the building. The irony of his life often made him smile. He’d made billions with, as a social network where people met online, grew to know each other, and fell in love. And he’d never had a real love relationship in his entire life. He dated often; he had sex more often than that. But he’d never actually had a partner for any length of time and didn’t even have his own account with This wasn’t by accident. He truly felt he couldn’t be objective if he did have his own account. He’d always found that observing how others met online and feel in love instead of actually doing it he could always maintain a sense of bipartisanship. He also thought online dating was a complete waste of time.

            When he reached the outer offices that led to his private office, he found Justin Blake standing in front of a long concrete counter top where they kept coffee supplies and tall glass jars filled with every single candy sold on the market. Justin Blake was twenty-four and he’d been hired fresh out of Stanford. He had ash brown hair, a lean lanky body, and always wore tight skinny jeans to work. To look at him people might have assumed he leaned slightly to the obnoxious streetwise side. But when he opened his mouth to speak, he sounded more like an attorney during a deposition. He articulated each word with great care, never dropping a g or rushing through a sentence.

            Shannon stepped up behind Justin without making a sound. As Justin leaned forward to grab a handful of M&Ms from a tall glass jar, Shannon checked to be sure no one was watching and grabbed his ass. He squeezed hard and said, “If you keep eating those things you’re going to wind up with child-bearing hips.”

Guilty Verdict and Off to Jail for Sockpuppet; Downton Abbey Gay Trope

In an interesting case involving the Dead Sea Scrolls and a sockpuppet story of epic proportions, a NY attorney was found guilty on multiple counts that range from identity theft to aggravated harassment. I swear this happened, and I have links to prove it.

This is what his attorney had to say:

“Today what happened was the district attorney of New York County and the trial court made hurting somebody’s feelings a criminal act. In New York, hurting people’s feelings or being annoying is not a crime. We call that Monday.”

For those who are not familiar with NY, it’s a tough city but it’s really not like that at all. Of course that’s a typical response from an attorney who just lost a case. We expect this from attorneys, and that’s why there are so many sleazy lawyer jokes going around all the time. Unfortunately, this attorney is underestimating a bigger problem in the world these days, and we’re going to be seeing more cases like this crop up in the courts in the future.

The entire case revolves around Raphael Haim Golb, a brilliant man with a Ph.D. from Harvard and a law degree from NYU. His father is a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, and basically the son started a huge shitstorm online to target his father’s academic competition.

Between 2006 and 2009, he created more than 80 online aliases to advance his father’s views about the Dead Sea Scrolls against what he saw as a concerted effort to exclude them. Along the way, according to a jury and a panel of appellate court judges, he crossed from engaging in academic debate to committing a crime.

This NYT article gets into more about the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I’m only focusing on the guilty verdict and the sockpuppets here.

According to the article, Golb started multiple blogs, all with different fake names and identities. These fake names started to interact with each other, becoming online sockpuppets. He also used pen names to publish more articles. While doing all this, he praised his father’s name and portrayed him as an honest scholar.

He acted as an online troll, stirring up controversy. “Was it appropriate for a scientific institution to allow a group of Christian academics to impose their agenda on an exhibit of ancient documents taking place under its auspices?” he asked of an exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum, in an Oct. 6, 2007, article. That article, he said, drew 16,000 views.

Golb then went on to brag about how much attention his father’s work was getting through all this online drama, and claimed it could only help with the overall quest. This isn’t unusual. This brand of online behavior does, indeed, create attention and usually garnishes tons of hits because everyone loves a side show. There is one mediocre author out there who is ONLY known for stirring up controversy wherever she goes. But then Golb also targeted a grad student, Robert Cargill, and things got ugly.

Mr. Cargill fought back. A typical e-mail message or blog post has an Internet protocol address that identifies the computer used to create it. Using simple software that identified the I.P. addresses, he traced the e-mails and blog posts of 82 aliases to the same few computers. Beneath one of Mr. Golb’s pseudonymous comments, he posted a message, using the pseudonym Raphael Joel, a combination of Mr. Golb’s first name and his brother’s. The message was: We know who you are.

So, there was a lot of online espionage going on all the way around. The NYT article gets into all kinds of interesting things about the case and the motives behind why Golb did what he did, and from an academic POV I do suggest reading it in full. But I find the case interesting from a different POV, because I’ve seen so much of this sort of thing online for many years. If I had to offer any commentary, it would be that I feel very sorry for Golb …in a way. I don’t think he knew what he was doing, and like so many others I think he underestimated the Internet.

After working for years on the Internet, I’ve come to learn that the only way to view anything online is to keep in mind that it’s exactly what real life is like. In other words, just because you can hide your identity and create all kinds of fake identities doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do…or the legal thing to do. For a long time no one in the mainstream paid much attention to this sort of thing. No one paid much attention to anything online. But that’s going to change in the years to come. We’re all going to have to abide by certain laws just like we do in real life.

Cases like this, with Golb and the Dead Sea Scrolls, are going to set standards for future cases that come up, and I shudder to think about how many people would wind up the big house for doing exactly what Golb did…not thinking they did anything wrong in the first place. 

Downton Abbey Gay Trope:

I’m a huge fan of the TV series, Downton Abbey, and not just because there is a gay character and a gay storyline. I’ve always been a fan of the Edwardian Era and Post Edwardian Period that led up to the 1920’s. But it’s the gay storyline with Thomas Barrow keeps me wondering what’s going to happen next week after week. And my interest in this time period is one of the main reasons why I wrote the story, “Unmentionable: The Men Who Loved on the Titanic.” The main theme of that story revolves around the fear gay people experienced in those days, and how one gay man actually had to dress up as a woman in order to travel on the Titanic with his lover. It’s all fiction, but I’ll never stop wondering if something like that actually did happen and we’ll never know about it.

This article says:

 Being gay in 1920 can’t have been fun – especially if you were stuck in the Yorkshire countryside, hundreds of miles away from the nearest gay bar (according to Wikipedia, London’s first gay pub, The Cave Of The Golden Calf, opened in 1912).

It was a time when being gay was illegal and you could go to jail. It was a time when gay people never even hinted at being gay. In fact, no one talked about anything gay and the topic was considered vulgar and disgusting. And now, in hindsight, we can look back on that time and see how absolutely ridiculous all this was, and feel for how many millions of gay people suffered abuse and psychological damage we’ll never know.

And yet, there’s still controversy surrounding gay people in the very same way one hundred years later.

Greek state television has been criticised for cutting out a gay kiss from British drama Downton Abbey.

The scene involved a kiss between a visiting duke and Downton’s footman Thomas Barrow.

That scene happened it the first season. I actually just saw it for the first time last night because I came late to Downton Abbey and didn’t start watching until the second season. So now I’m catching up with season one, and the kiss that’s mentioned above was literally nothing obscene, overly erotic, or highly sexual. It was one man kissing another, and yet they still felt the need to censor it.

I’m pointing that out because I’m still seeing this kind of treatment going on right now, all over the place. I see blogs that contain gay information and gay material that have adult only warning pages and I can’t always figure out why they have them. I could understand it if there were nude photos, graphic stories, or something inappropriate for minors. But in many cases these blogs don’t have anything but gay content in a general sense. There’s nothing sexual or pornographic about them, and the warning sign infers there’s something wrong about any gay content at all.

There is always kissing on Downton Abbey between straight couples. But don’t dare let the gay guys kiss, because that’s still considered crude, vulgar and disgusting. And in some parts of the world to this day, illegal.

Maggie Smith Quotes Downton Abbey: My Interview with Gay Philly; Why Gays Need Benefits

One of the things I love about following the PBS series, “Downton Abbey,” is the one-liners that come from Maggie Smith who plays the Dowager Countess. I was a fan of “Upstairs Downstairs,” and other TV shows like this but I don’t think I have ever heard such clever lines so continuously each week. I love the show for a multitude of reasons, including the way it’s written, but the one-liners keep me waiting for each scene Smith is in. The interesting thing is she is the ultimate snob, and in the same respect she’s usually spot on in her assessments about people, places, events, and things.

DOWAGER COUNTESS “Oh my dears, is it really true? I can’t believe it. Last night he looked so well. Of course, it would happen to a foreigner… It’s typical!”

MARY “Don’t be ridiculous.”

DOWAGER COUNTESS “I’m not being ridiculous. No English man would dream of dying in someone else’s house. Especially someone they didn’t even know.”
DOWAGER COUNTESS “The question is, will she accept Matthew?”
CORA “I’m not sure.”
DOWAGER COUNTESS “Well if she doesn’t, we’ll just have to take her abroad. In these moments you can normally find an Italian who isn’t too picky…”
You can read more here, and see a few photos of Smith as the Dowager Countess.
I was recently contacted by a writer with Philadelphia Magazine who works in the G Philly section. He was interested in a post I wrote about the late Joey Stefano, former adult entertainment star, and getting a general sense of how I remember Stefano.
You can read the post I wrote about Joey Stefano here, and here’s a link to the G Philly web site.
I will post more about this when the article is published. As a side note, I’m always talking about how things like this…Joey Stefano and the time period in which he lived…are a huge part of gay culture. And as long as I’m around I plan to continue to talk about gay culture from a gay man’s POV. In other words, I’m not pandering when I do this. I’m only talking about facts, and the adult entertainment industry. And how gay men look at the industry is, indeed, a huge part of gay culture. …Even though there are some who would like us to think otherwise.
Another thing I’m always talking (harping) about is the need for gay couples to share benefits, which is something legal marriage would allow them to do…just like straight couples. Right now, as it stands, even though certain states like NY have legalized gay marriage, it means nothing, absolutely nothing, on a federal level. I repeat: It. Means. Nothing. Each state does things a little differently, and if you are a gay couple, like so many I know personally, and you live out of state part of the time it can get even more complicated. I won’t even get into inheritance taxes now.
This next article speaks loudly about a solider who died from breast cancer and her partner is not eligible to receive one single benefit.
 Charlie Morgan didn’t get her last wish.

On Sunday morning, the New Hampshire National Guard soldier succumbed to Stage IV breast cancer after a long battle against the disease and a federal law that now leaves her widow with none of the benefits a grateful nation bestows on its straight warriors.

As I wrote here on Thanksgiving, Morgan, who came out as a lesbian on MSNBC in September 2011, the day the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy became history, hoped she would outlive the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Clinton-era law forbids Karen, her legally married wife, from receiving the survivor benefits other military widows get.

That money would have gone a long way toward helping raise their young daughter Casey. Just like the death benefits Charlie’s mother got when her soldier husband died in an accident during the Vietnam War went to pay for food and a roof for young Charlie.

You can read more here. It’s one of the better articles I’ve read on the topic in a long time. And, take note how they mention it was the “Clinton-era” law that keeps the survivor from receiving any benefits. I hear a lot of my gay friends ranting and screaming about politics all the time, and yet they fail to realize a lot of what they are screaming about isn’t as black and white as they might like it to be. In other words, this isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an LGBT issue and we need to fight in all directions, because if that were not the case our newly re-elected President would be moving faster to legalize same sex marriage across the board instead of playing politics with the good old boys. It’s nice that he thinks gays should be legally married, but now it’s time to do something about it. And yes, I do mean rush, because there are older gay couples who are still fighting this discrimination daily. And frankly I can’t think of one thing more important than basic equal rights. If you don’t have them, not much else matters anyway…as the Dowager Countess might say.

Photo attribution, here.