Monthly Archives: December 2013

“Zombie Boyz: Ghoul’s Gym” by T.J.Klune and Eric Arvin— Love and The Walking Dead

zombie boyzKlune, T.J. and Eric Arvin. “Zombie Boyz: Ghoul’s Gym”, Wilde City Press, 2013.

Love and The Walking Dead

Amos Lassen

Jake Howell and Uly Hoak are partners and they have set up rules in their relationship. They never go to bed angry with each other and they never go separate ways without saying good-bye. What they did not know, however, was that when they said good-bye one Saturday night, it would be the last time.

The two guys worked out together at the gym, the Art of Man Fitness Center, and Uly was the better physically fit of the two. Stephen Dorian, the gym owner, would often make comments about how unfit Jake was which did not nothing for Jake’s sense of self-esteem. It also bothered him greatly that Dorian wanted Uly.

But there was something else a good deal more serious. There have been strange happenings in town and the violence is very real and very serious. Jake and Uly realize that they are rushing against time. No one knows why this violence is happening and who is responsible.

Uly went to the gym like he usually did and no reason to suspect that the day would be any different than any other day. Suddenly, something happened and some of the gym rats were transformed into horny zombies who were hungry for human flesh. Hysteria ensued and Uly with several friends fought to live. Jake was somewhere else. However, we learn that Jake has his own set of problems. He is working very hard to develop his body for Uly. Jake discovers that Dorian, who lusts for Uly, is involved in the trade of tainted drugs.

What is so interesting here is that Jake and Uly are so much in love that Uly is unaware of Jake’s feelings of inadequacy. On that day, Uly left for work not knowing that something was happening. At the same Jake heads off looking for some way to gain bulk but ends up infected with whatever was happening and with that I end my discussion of the plot.

If you like gore, this is a story for you. It is one of those books that you do not want to end and when it does you want a sequel. Our two main characters are unforgettable even with their issues and their misunderstandings. I wanted to shake Jake and scream at him that Uly really loves him and that he is more than good enough.

The book is so well-written that I could not stop reading once I began. Sure, it is bloody and is not happy but it is a beautiful love story. I love how the romance was hidden in the gore and still manages to seep through (excuse me for that word). The havoc we read about is bloody and gory but it is the love story that we remember. The love that Jake and Uly share is beautiful to read about just as the zombies add a new dimension to the story.

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“Tough Love: Sexuality, Compassion and the Christian Right” by Cynthia Burack— Analyzing Social Implications

tough love

Burack, Cynthia. “Tough Love: Sexuality, Compassion and the Christian Right”, (SUNY series in Queer Politics and Cultures), SUNY Press, 2014.

Analyzing Social Implications

Amos Lassen

One of my Facebook friends who knows I am preparing a philosophy course on Hannah Arendt let me know about this book which, at present, is only available as an ebook. (A hard copy is to be released in February, 2014).I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to books and the only time I will read an ebook is when it is something I am really interested in and cannot read it any other way. “Tough Love” exposes how ex-gay and post abortion ministries use a shared system of thought. Cynthia Burack analyzes the social implications of this.

All of us are well aware of the struggle between Christian conservatives and progressive thinkers over sexuality and reproductive rights. It is a never ending battle. Burack focuses on ex-gay ministries that claim to help same-sex attracted people resist that sexuality. She also looks at postabortion ministries that guide women who have aborted a child or who have had an abortion to repent for “the mistake they made”. The author’s argument is that both of these “ministries” are both motivated and characterized by Christian compassion and conservatism and not by the bias and hatred toward homosexuals and sexually active women. What this compassion does is reinforce and reproduce the sexual ideology of the Christian right and thereby absolves Christian conservatives from the responsibility of being stigmatized as well as from other harmful methods of harm to those who are partaking in the ministries.

To study this Burack used Hannah Arendt’s theory of democracy, the psychoanalytic thought of Melanie Klein and the popular fiction of Ayn Rand and this is indeed a novel way of looking at the issue. What this book really is in actuality is a study of the social and political effects of Christian conservatism and compassion. A more thorough review will come with the publication of the hard copy. Below is the Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Christian Right’s Compassionate Conservatism

Left, Right, Left: Forward March
The Faces of Compassion
Different Rhetorics for Different Folks
Fixing Moral Boundaries
“The Politics of Yuck”
A Word about Words, and So On

1. Let’s Both Agree That You’re Really Sinful: Compassion in the Ex-Gay Movement

Reparative Therapies
The Narrative of Development
Out of Bondage
The Compassionate Gaze
Leaving Homosexuality
Taking the Ex-Gay Challenge

2. What about the Women? Compassion in Postabortion Ministries

From Abomination to Compassion
It’s about the Women, Stupid
Postabortion Syndrome
Compassion before Abortion
Helping Hurting Women
Sorting Out Compassion

3. Christian Right Compassion: What Would Hannah Arendt Do?

Identity in Politics
Caution: Hazardous Compassion Ahead
The Miserable Ones
Love among the Outcasts
A World of Others
Revisiting Compassion Campaigns
Arendt and Christian Love

4. Just Deserts: The Compassion of Ayn Rand

Who Is John Galt?
Rand, Sex, and Gender
Objective (ist) Compassion
Ayn Rand Always with Us

5. Drawing the Compassionate Line: Love, Guilt, and Melanie Klein

The Psychoanalytic Turn
More Narratives of Development
Making Good
Bad Group!
Being Reparative
Can “Compassion” Harm?
Compassionate Warriors

Afterword: Compassion, Where Is Thy Victory?

Whence Compassion?
A Last Word on Theory
Feeling(s) and Knowing

Notes
Index

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“Cold Moon” by M.J. O’Shea— The Sequel to “Hunter’s Moon”

cold moon

O’Shea, M.J. “Cold Moon”, (Moon #3), Dreamspinner Press, 2014.

The Sequel to “Hunter’s Moon”

Amos Lassen

“Cold Moon” is the third book I have read in M.J. O’Shea’s Moon series and I am finally getting into it. Here we meet Charlie Fitzgerald who is a guy that no one puts any stock in or even takes seriously and he is so over that. Colin, his older brother, is off in New York chasing and killing vampires and Charlie wants to do the same. He learns that the lycan council is looking for a human to take a peace message to a werewolf in Romania and Charlie thinks and feels that he is the person for the job. However, Xan, his best friend, is upset at this. It is his job to protect Charlie and the Fitzgeralds and to have him walk into danger will make his job that more difficult. He follows Charlie to Romania to save him and when Charlie almost meets death, Xan realizes that he really feels for the guy and everything comes out as if it had been held in for too long for both of them.

Soon they are involved in politics concerning wolves, werewolves and vampires and both know that if they can succeed getting away from this, then they will work at building the way they feel into a relationship based on love.

The two have been friends since they were boys even though some still treat Charlie as a boy and he is already eighteen years old. The Fitzgerald family is famous and adept vampire hunters and this is what Charlie had wanted to do for as long as he can remember. However he is small and a bit low so no one really paid him any mind. He thought he finally had gotten the chance when he was sent to Romania and he was lucky enough to learn about Xan’s feelings for him.

Charlie felt betrayed by everyone and wanted to prove himself and felt that this was the chance to prove everyone wrong. He is able to finish the job and find out that he is cared about at the same time. Of the three books in the series that I have read, this is the one that is best written and has a story that kept me reading. Charlie is a well-developed character and although a bit self-centered, it was easy to see why he felt that way. O’Shea manages well to bring young love together with the paranormal.

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“The Perils of Normalcy: George L. Mosse and the Remaking of Cultural History” by Karel Plessini— There Was Once a Man…

the perils of normalcy

Plessini, Karel. “The Perils of Normalcy: George L. Mosse and the Remaking of Cultural History”, (George L. Mosse Series), University of Wisconsin Press, 2014.

There Was Once a Man…

Amos Lassen

If any of my gay Jewish friends are looking for a hero or a role model, let me mention George L. Mosse. Mosse who died in 1999 was a true Renaissance man. He broke taboos and was a great provocateur as well as one of the great historians of all time—he was responsible for the creation of a new historiography of culture which included deep and profound insights about the roles of nationalism, fascism, racism, and sexuality.

Mosse was gay and he was Jewish. He had been raised in a culturally elite family and he came of age just as the Nazi party was rising to power and managed to leave Germany for England and eventually the United States. He became an interdisciplinary scholar and in the books that he wrote, he shattered prevalent assumptions about the nature of National Socialism and the Holocaust. I read him as an undergraduate history major but I regret that I never had to chance to see him or hear him speak.

Karel Plessini tells us in this new intellectual biography of Mosse that he drew a link “from bourgeois respectability and the ideology of the Enlightenment-the very core of modern Western civilization-to the extermination of the European Jews”. Plessini used all of Mosse’s writings (published and un-published) to bring the man to life and to bring to light the origins and development of Mosse’s groundbreaking methods of historical analysis and the link between his life and his work. Mosse redefined the understanding of modern mass society and politics. He showed that conformity is a powerful influence on how we live and on politics and liturgy. Mosse warned against the dangers that exist in acquiescence and he shows how the creation of identity and the fervor of ideology can bring about intolerance and mass murder as was done during the Holocaust and this is a message that is always relevant.

It is rare to have an intellectual biography that is so readable. It is a pleasure to read and has a great deal to say.

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“I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone”— To Premiere At Berlin Film Festival

 “I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone”

To Premiere At Berlin Film Festival

 

The-Way-He-Looks-pic1The sweet Brazilian gay-themed short “Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho” (“I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone”). Now a feature-film version has been made, which is one of the first movies to be announced as part of the Panorama 2014 at the Berlin Film Festival.

The short film was first released in 2010 and follows a teenaged blind boy who is trying to work out his feelings for his new friend, Gabriel. However his growing feelings spark jealousy from his female friend. Now Brazilian helmer Daniel Ribiero has expanded the short into a feature called Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (The Way He Looks), which features the same actors as the shorter version.

The film will screen in Berlin in February as part of the festival’s Panorama 2014. It will also compete for the Teddy Award, the annual prize given to the best LGBT-themed movie screened as part of that segment of the fest. I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone won numerous awards at both LGBT and general film festivals, so hopefully the feature version can follow suit.

Here is the original short film upon which this is based:

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“Transmormon”— LGBT-themed short documentary looks at a trans woman in the Mormon faith

“Transmormon”

LGBT-themed short documentary looks at a trans woman in the Mormon faith

 

In the last couple of the weeks the fact the courts in Utah have allowed gay couples to marry has thrown the spotlight on gay Mormons. Utah is, after all, the church’s home territory. Indeed over the years there’s been a fair amount of talk about gays and Mormons, due to the fact the church has, until very recently, actively worked against gay rights.

 

However a subject that is hardly ever talked about, are those people brought up Mormon but who are transgender. The short documentary, Transmormon, takes on this topic, and it’s well worth a look.

 

Created by OHO Media (aka Torben Bernhard, Marissa Lila and Travis Low), the film follows Eri Hayward, who ‘was born and raised in Utah County, comes from a conservative Mormon background, was raised in the LDS Church and even went to Mormon private school – but something wasn’t adding up. Eri was born a boy and it was a slow, painful journey for her to recognize she is transgender.’ The short covers a few months as Eri and her family navigate the transition, and she prepares to go to Thailand for sexual reassignment surgery.

 

 

transmormon

 

Will Clark’s Porno Bingo to Benefit the Rainbow Book Fair

Will Clark’s Porno Bingo to Benefit the Rainbow Book Fair

Perry Brass Event for Perry Brass

Date: January 08, 2014    09:00PM — January 08, 2014    11:00PM
RSVP by: January 08, 2014    09:00PM
Venue: Uncle Charlie’s, 139 E. 45th Street, 2nd Floor, New York City, NY, US
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Rainbow-Book-Fair/316524641722482
Please put on your calendars: Wednesday, Jan 8 at Uncle Charlies, 139 E. 45th Street, on the 2nd Floor, NYC, the great Will Clark will be hosting PORNO BINGO to benefit the Rainbow Book Fair, the most ultra-fabulous LGBT book event in the US. (I mean it.) It’s from 9 to 11 PM, big-assed fun—I’ve been to lots of Will’s Porno Bingo events, and they are hysterical and for great causes. I want to thank Will, Mark Schulte, Michael Luongo, and the rest of the Porno Bingo gang for doing this, and I hope you’ll all get to it if you love queer books, their authors, and the world they create. I will be there, Perry Brass.
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“Rise to Power” (The David Chronicles, Volume 1) by Uvi Poznansky— The Early Years

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Poznansky, Uvi. “Rise to Power” (The David Chronicles, Volume 1), Uviart, 2013.

The Early Years

Amos Lassen

The Hebrew Bible or what many refer to as the Old Testament is a treasure house of stories albeit incomplete ones. It is a great place to look for ideas and it allows for additions and subtractions. The characters are true dysfunctional people but they have a job to do—to teach us to lead moral and good lives. I have always considered King David to be one of the largest enigmas in the Bible—he did what he wanted, when he wanted and God continued to love him regardless. Of course, we have never had the whole story and much of what we do have is commentary—probably because it is difficult to consider what is written in the Bible to be factual.

Now we have Uvi Poznansky who gives us the story of David differently than ever before. Instead of his story being told by others, Poznansky has David tell his story himself. We must remember that David was a warrior king so quite naturally he viewed history through the eyes of victory. However, as his life comes to an end, he feels compelled to tell the truth. Here we learn of his early life and when he ascends to the crown of Israel but there is something more here—-this not just the story of a man but a way to look at the rise to power.

It is important to know that power did not come to David—he had to look for it. To be king does not mean to have power although the two seem to go hand in hand.

The time of David was not a time of peace; it was an age of cruelty and the children of Israel had received divine directives to slay the enemies. David knows that in order to successfully rule Judea, he would have to find a way to win over the people and become a popular hero. In other words, his rise to power was not to be an easy path. David was also a poet and a musician, a captain in the army of Saul, he had been a fugitive and a traitor as well as a man who seemed to have concern for no one but himself. Yet this man was to be king. To do so, he had to find a way to make peace with his conflicting desires. He had ambition but he also had a past of which he was not proud. He wanted to be chosen by God but he had to find a way to purify himself for that to happen. (We can certainly see the analogies to modern life here).

There is a huge touch of irony here in that David who wants to serve has become his own prisoner. Even when he accedes to the crown, he remains his own prisoner. He and the reader wonder how, from such humble beginnings, did he reach this point. He knows he has not lived a life of innocence but he also knows that he is to succeed Saul to the throne—Samuel had chosen him for that, the same Samuel who had chosen Saul. David was well aware of his own shortcomings and knew he would have to orchestrate his own rise to power if he wanted popular acceptance and Saul was surely aware of what David lacked.

What makes this a unique read is that Poznansky has taken this story from the holy writings and then rethought it with the mind and perception of the modern period of history. We enter the minds of the characters and see things as we imagine they did.

This shows us what the author can do and also the value of the original writing. We knew David, as I said before, as a warrior and a lover and as a musician and a poet. However, the way he is portrayed here is different in a sense. His rise to power comes as a result of ambition and rivalry—he did not just come to the throne, he had to take it. The Bible shows us a David who is something of a Renaissance man. Poznansky does not invalidate that but she does a bit more. This is not just the biblical David, it is also the historical David and what we read here is just the beginning. He has just met Bathsheba when this book ends (and will continued in an upcoming book).

One of the ways the writer approaches David is to have him tell the story in first person and we see David via David. We do not see this David as a man of myth but rather as a real person who has imperfections and flaws and suffers the conflicts of emotions.

Let me just say a word about Uvi Poznansky—she is originally an Israeli and went to the same high school in Haifa where I once taught for several years. Israeli students learn Bible the way we learn Civics in America. Bible is an important subject in the curriculum and everyone in the state school must learn it throughout their school days. She is not only well grounded in David but she is an excellent writer as well. The David story in her book does not just come alive, it leaps to life and it assumes its place in the world. This is a highly recommended read and not one that will be easily forgotten.

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