Saturday, October 27, 2007
One of many stories that will appear in the compilation is "Shot in the Dark." A junior apprentice must save a senior apprentice from the clutches of a vengeful demon. In just 16 pages, Alex's story has action, romance, and one of the best villain monologue scenes I've seen in comics. Check it out over at Yaoi911.com!
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
It all started a year ago in the aftermath of the Maine Bed & Breakfast murders. One of the victims was a friend of a friend. It was jarring to have only one degree of separation from such a heinous crime. Humor with my circle of friends can tend toward the irreverent. I was really worried I might slip up around my friend with a dysphemism like, "I could kill you!"
One day, I overheard that friend and another joking about something. I was busy with something else, so I only heard bits and pieces of the conversation. And then I heard the word "murder." I instantly tensed up, as that was the first time I had heard the friend in question mentioning the whole situation. And I heard something even less expected. Laughter.
I realize everyone processes grief in his or her own way, but made me really uncomfortable. So I jumped into the conversation, only to find I was mistaken. My friends were talking about the show "Dexter." I had heard about the show in passing before. All I knew was that the "protagonist" was a serial killer. But then the friend with the tragic loss elaborated. Dexter was a serial killer who only hunted other killers.
I didn't have much interest in the show before, but I filed it away in my head to check out later. Finally, a year later, I caught up on the first season of the show, plus the premier of the second.
By day, Dexter is a forensics analyst for the Miami-Dade Police Dept (oh Miami, I do miss you sometimes...). Getting to work with his favorite medium, blood, he loves his day job. Plus, it gives him all the necessary intel for his extracurricular activities. He's able to go through the files of the Police Dept. to find out about the killers that escaped the system on technicalities (lack of witnesses, destroyed evidence, etc). Once armed with this knowledge he tracks the killers down and gives them a taste of their own medicine.
After work, Dexter snags his latest victim. In what we soon discover is a ritual, Dexter confronts his victim with irrefutable evidence of their crimes. In this case, it's the exhumed bodies of several young boys. The murderer begins to cry and begs Dexter to spare him.
"Please, you can have anything."
"That's good, beg. Did these little boys beg?"
"I couldn't help myself! Please, you have to understand!"
"Trust me, I definitely understand. I can't help myself either. But, children...I could never do that, not like you."
"I have standards."
And thus ends one of many lives by Dexter's hands. Despite the "good" work he does, he knows that he is a monster. A bad person who does incidentally good things, rather than the other way around. A significant distinction that is tested later in the series.
Dexter knows how to hide in plain sight. Though emotionally blank, over the years he's learned to fake all social interactions to appear normal. He's loved by his sister, his co-workers (with one big exception), and his girlfriend.
I usually dislike romantic subplots in otherwise non-romantic television shows. However, Dexter's "relationship" with Rita is surprisingly engaging.
Dexter met Rita through his cop sister, Deb. Rita was the victim of extreme domestic violence and is completely uninterested in any physical intimacy. Which is exactly what Dexter wants in a woman. Someone who serves as a neon sign of "look! I'm a normal guy with a girlfriend," without any physical expectations on her part.
Dexter doesn't dislike Rita, but he also doesn't like her either. He's ambivalent. Dexter doesn't have real feelings, just a careful imitation of the social mores everyone else takes for granted.
Dexter long ago discovered that he isn't interested in sex (killing is his true "release"). He's also found that unlike most other social interactions, he's unable to fake the emotional connection that past girlfriends have expected after the relationship has become physical. Dexter finally found in Rita a woman that doesn't question his lack of libido. Only, as the series progresses, and as he becomes more involved in Rita's life and the lives of her children, you're left wondering if his total lack of feelings is an accurate self-description. But even with the glimpses of humanity, along with more humor than I expected, the viewer never forgets Dexter's terrible, evil hunger.
Ever since Dexter can remember, he's felt an urge to kill. His first memories are with his adoptive family, particularly his father Harry, the late Police Chief. Years ago, when Dexter was barely a teen, Harry found a gruesome discovery:
"Dexter, you killed the neighbor's dog, didn't you?"
"It was making to much noise and wouldn't shut up. Mom was trying to sleep."
"Dexter... I found other bodies..."
"Have you ever wanted to hurt something larger?"
"Like a person..."
We're back to the present as a new serial killer is on the loose on Dexter's turf. Unlike previous ones, he knows exactly what Dexter is (cue ominous music). The new killer leaves a macabre message for Dexter, but rather than taking it as a threat, Dexter sees it as an invitation to play cat and mouse. But how long before the hunter becomes the hunted? Still, Dexter isn't one to back down from a challenge. Harry would expect nothing less, as another flashback fills us in on Dexter's early years.
Teen Dexter is in the garage working on a skateboard. Harry walks in and open a sack in front of him. Inside are bloody knives. Ick.
"Dad, I can explain..."
"We had an understanding. Whenever you have an urge, you come to me and we deal with it together!"
"Do you remember anything from before your mother and I took you in?"
"No. Is that why I have these urges?"
"What happened changed something inside you. It got into you too early. I'm afraid your urge to kill is only going to get stronger. But there are ways to spot bad people, and to cover your tracks. Do you understand what I'm saying, Dexter?" (omg, this scene was just chilling)
"You can't help what happened to you, but you can make the best of it. Remember this forever: you are my son, you are not alone, and you are loved."
That scene brought tears to my eyes. The horror of Dexter's condition against the power of unconditional love. Together they formed the "Code of Harry," which Dexter lives by. He knows that he is a monster, but does what he can to make the world a better place.
I *heart* Dexter.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Ben, Baker, Justin and Casey. I was at their place the previous day cooking my first full Indian dinner in a long time.
Another and Tom
Brian (creator of So Super Duper), Dex, and Paul (creators of Applesauce, my latest acting gig as the voice of Chuck).
Here's a look at Applesauce: The Adventures of Unity and Identity (and Chuck), coming in 2008!
Aleema and Jane
Jonathan and Biff
The Gravity Faggot Crew! I got a pair of Icarus undies :).
Sean, an up & coming illustrator.
Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf) and Desmond Miller (Western Horizons)
Thank you to all the friends and fans who came out for the Pride High 1-Year Anniversary! You rock!
Saturday, October 06, 2007
I went for a full Indian dinner, combining dishes of North and South India. Representing the North were Vegetarian Murgh Makhani (butter chicken), Palak Pakora, and Zucchini Pepper Pulao. For the South, I prepared Sweet Potato Sambar and Potato & Eggplant Poriyal.
Since most of the guys aren't vegetarian, I opted for one faux meat dish, a rarity in Indian vegetarian cuisine compared to most other vegetarian cuisines. I chose seitan, since most non-vegetarians prefer the texture of it over tofu. My favorite type is Taiwanese mock duck, but I didn't have time to visit Chinatown before the weekend. Luckily, it's pretty easy to make seitan at home.
The raw materials - vital wheat gluten flour (the protein of wheat left behind after the fiber and starch have been rinsed away) and nutritional yeast. This yeast is NOT related to the yeast used for bread. It's used to impart a richer flavor to the seitan, not to make it rise.
The great thing about making seitan at home is that you can add dry seasonings directly to the mix. It's tough to infuse flavor more directly than that!
Murgh Makhani is definitely not a dish for those watching their fat intake. A whole stick of butter went into the seitan.
Once the liquid and fat are added, the gluten is easily kneaded into a big ball.
It's then simmered for an hour. Unlike the simmering liquid for seitan bulgogi, this required an Indian approach, with tomato juice, cinnamon, and clove.
The finished faux chicken, ready for the chopping block!
To make things easier for the big cooking spree the next day, I made the pakoras at home. My fave pakora are palak (spinach) pakoras.
I added fresh basil leaves and carrots to this batch.
I'm so glad I finally got a wok. It's a perfect replacement for an Indian kadhai.
I usually roast pappadom, but since the dinner was going to be really rich in fat anyway, I deep-fried them.
Amazingly, only two broke on the way to the party.
Baker. Is. Awesome. The usual deal when I cook for friends is that they buy all the produce and I prepare everything myself. However, Baker was in the kitchen with me the whole time and took care of all the chopping. He's a culinary school grad, and it really showed. Everything was chopped so quickly and uniformly. He made dinner a total breeze. Plus, he made a date nut torte for dessert! Thank you, Baker!
Ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, and bay leaves frying in ghee.
The finished veggie murgh makhani.
The pulao, just before boiling.
From Left to Right: Mango Chutney, Eggplant Chutney, Sweet Potato Sambar, Garlic Pappadom, Veggie Murgh Makhani, Zucchini Pepper Pulao, Potato & Eggplant Poriyal, Palak Pakoras.
Baker arranged everything beautifully. Oh, and I also made Cucumber Raita (right under my chin).
Ben approves of Baker's kickass date nut torte.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
This is a reminder of how important it is for members of the LGBT community to be open about their lives. Openly gay members of the mayor's family and staff reminded him of the personal consequences his political decision would have. Yay for San Diego!
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
The Wild Man by Patricia Nell Warren was good. While I always use BART on my flight out, when I fly back in, I like to avoid the hassle of late night public transportation. The Wild Man was so good, I decided to use the shuttle bus and subway after my flight rather than a cab just so I could continue reading. Believe me, that's a huge endorsement.
The struggle to be free is the overarching theme of The Wild Man. The protagonist, a dashing bullfighter by the name of Antonio is a captive of familial expectations, professional obligations, and the strict gender roles of Spain during the last years of Francisco Franco's rule. Antonio shares the weight of these societal burdens with his twin sister, Josefina, a former marimacho (tomboy) who skirts the edge of propriety with her moderna ways. These forms of captivity are echoed by an entire society held in thrall by fascism and the imprisonment of wild animals for bloody sport.
Antonio begins the story as a well-known bullfighter from an aristocratic family. Though bullfighting is a decidedly blue collar sport, fans have embraced him due to his flair in the ring. I have to say that I am not a fan of bullfighting. Not in the least. However, Patricia Nell Warren's amazing descriptions of the technical and artistic foundations of the sport gave me an appreciation of the tragic beauty of the sport. At first, Antonio is content to satisfy the "Big Hunger" of his desires with furtive encounters in other countries. Then a chance encounter with a peasant named Juan throws Antonio's world into turmoil. From the get go, the powderkeg of their class difference threatens the burgeoning romance as much as their sexual orientation.
Juan is brought to Antonio's under the pretense of tutelage. Juan, his junior by 6 years, will take his place in the ring. Or so the hope is. However, Juan's skills in the ring don't quite fit the plan. Unwilling to be the "kept man" of a landed lord, Juan abruptly breaks off their romance. Antonio isn't so quick to give up and hatches a plan to win Juan back. Usually these moments in romance novels get a shrug from me at the most. But I was honestly not sure of how this would turn out, and my heart was racing as Antonio put his plan into motion.
Antonio's relationship with his twin sister was another cornerstone of the narrative. As young kids, they were inseparable. Climbing trees, riding horses, dreaming of bullfighting... the two twins approached life with a shared devil-may-care attitude. Antonio relished his twin sister's tomboy antics and refused to call her Josefina, preferring José. Their conservative parents resented this bond and took steps to break it. When they were no longer allowed to sleep in the same room, the twins would use the branches of the mulberry tree outside their rooms to sneak around. Eventually their parents severed their immediate connection completely by sending José to convent school and Antonio to military school. Years later, though, both twins discover that their old bond remains.
"Dig your feet in." Those were the words José told Antonio as a kid, when he struggled to keep up with her while climbing trees. Don't give up, you won't fall, trust me. "Dig your feet in" becomes Antonio's battlecry. As the crushing vice of their society begins to threaten their very lives, the twins face the danger together, united once again.
Antonio's struggle to be wild and free, to love the man who stole his heart, opens his eyes to all the other forms of captivity surrounding him. He sees the shackles of feminine propriety forced on his twin sister and the socioeconomic barriers that have hemmed Juan in. But Antonio's growth doesn't end there. He begins to make a connection between his own captivity and that of the bulls he routinely puts to death. The seeds of empathy slowly flourish, leading to a profession that he never would've imagined in his younger days.
I could go on about this story, but I want to leave you with some surprises. One tip, though. Buy the book, but don't read the summary on the back! It gives one major story element away immediately that I truly think would've worked best as a total surprise.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Nick from Comic Con (looking forward to his "Wraith" comic!) and Michael Troy were also there. Michael has a new podcast with his friend Matt, Gays on Film, which is hilarious. Along with the actual reviews, half of the fun is watching the two of them crack up and go off on wild tangents. Michael's super cute friend Scott was in charge of the Gays on Film promotions which included three hot "Movie Buffs." Dressed in only usher hats and pink hot pants, the three muscle boys definitely got a lot of attention with the West Hollywood crowd.
Another big highlight for me was meeting Patricia Nell Warren, one of my favorite authors. She wrote the Front Runner, one of the best selling gay novels of all time. I picked up two books of hers, One is the Sun and The Wild Man. Written in 2001, The Wild Man follows the life of a gay bullfighter in post-Civil War Spain, while the country is still under the yoke of Francisco Franco's fascist regime.
I started reading it at the airport and didn't put it down until I was finished at 3am in the morning. It's really amazing how Spanish society has changed since those times. It went from a country where dissenters of any sort were tortured and/or gunned down to one where gay marriage is legal. It still surprises me that Spain jumped ahead of the US in that regard!