Saturday, December 13, 2008

From the "Priorities" File

Posted without further comment:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Elegant and Stylish Holiday Gifts

If you still have any money to spend on holiday shopping, Fosco recommends the 2008 Holiday Gift Guide of the lovely and intelligent Joanna Goddard (one of Fosco's old friends). Her taste is impeccable. She's thoughtful and creative. And the gift suggestions are rarely expensive. Fosco himself has taken Joanna's recommendation and will be wearing iPod-compatible DOTS gloves this winter. Thanks for a wonderful guide, Joanna!

Bachelorette Party Musical

You may have noticed that Fosco is occasionally obsessed with the teen-ish stars of the High School Musical franchise. He especially likes it when they do things like tan too much, get nose jobs, or show off their naughty bits (while running Windows Vista).

And how cute are ZacFron and VanHudge as a "couple"? They photograph as so very much in love! They photograph so heterosexual with each other that ZacFron could never be gay.

And here's another fun photo:

Yes, that's Zac and Van with a fan in the adult section of a party store, posing in front of mildly-racy kitsch like tiny plastic penises.

What were they doing there? Fosco's sources tell him that Zac was cooking dinner for Van and needed some penis pasta to make with Alfredo sauce. Oh, and he needed a cock ring.

Album Cover Roundup

We are approaching the End of the Year (good riddance 2008) and that means lists! Here's one of Fosco's faves: Pitchfork's 20 Worst Album Covers of 2008. There are truly some aesthetic atrocities here, especially the Brad Paisley (sorry, BeeMistress, I know you love him).

While Fosco can't argue with any of Pitchfork's choices, he has some "runners-up" of his own:

Are we really supposed to believe that anyone, anywhere in the world (even in China), would spray paint "Guns N'Roses" on a wall? Or is this photo from 1985?

Even though Fosco loves Taylor Swift (more on that, someday), he thinks it's rational to fear this album cover (how ironic!). For one thing, she's like 15 and shouldn't be wearing those hooker eyelashes. And then there's the problem with her hair and how it looks like gemelli.

Fosco really likes this album, but he thinks the cover is kind of a letdown. Maybe it's just too literal.

The next two covers are similar in that they both feature a sex symbol of yesteryear attempting to reclaim her sex appeal (when did that ever work?):

Is Britney forty years old? Is one of her eyes a lot smaller than the other? Is that a Farrah Fawcett wig? What is wrong with her arms? Is she supposed to have arms in this picture? Or is she doing a circus-themed impersonation of a girl with flippers for arms? Is that what she wants me to think when I look at this picture? Eeek.

My God. Is this supposed to be sexy? I'm retching. Retching!

Perhaps (just perhaps), this cover is a parody of those horrible sentimental paintings of animals decorating for Christmas. But I think it's actually meant sincerely. I can't decide whether my favorite part is the weasel who lives in the fox's anus or the strangely self-satisfied badger. Either way, it's just an art trainwreck.

What about you, commenters? Any faves this year?

Censorship at BY"U"

[Thanks to a tip from Mere.]

You may remember Fosco's feelings about Mormon higher education. Well, here's another troubling story.

J. Michael Wiltbank, a student at BY"U", submitted a final project for an art class that contained photographs of gay BY"U" students and their supportive friends. As Wiltbank explained the project:

I am not telling the viewer who identifies themselves as homosexual, because I hope the viewer will realize that placing a label with the portrait only creates divisions in our society and furthers stereotypes. It is my hope this body of work can be a vehicle for tolerance, support, love and change.
You can find some photographs from this project here.

According to his blog, BY"U" decided to take down his contribution to the show:
Apparently the topic of homosexuality is a bit much for the BYU audience and my part of our Fine Art Classes show was taken down today. It seems that censorship is favored over support and love. This really saddens me.
Luckily, after Wiltbank blogged about the censorship, BY"U" allowed his photos to be displayed, blaming their original removal on a "miscommunication" (HA!). Wiltbank (who strikes me as a genuinely generous person) is encouraged by this:
I think the administration's action has been a good example of that increased understanding.
Like I said, Wiltbank seems generous.

From where Fosco is sitting (some 800 miles away and 50-60 years in the future), the whole thing still seems somewhat sad. Think about it: all Wiltbank wanted to display were photographs of young Mormon men, some of whom self-identify as gay. The photos are not naked, sexually explicit, anti-religious, or provocative in any way--except, of course, that they show nice, normal-looking Mormon kids who just happen to be almost as sinful as murderers. (And we all know that there is nothing more "normal-looking" than a Mormon.)

This isn't about BY"U" condoning/condemning gay sex or gay marriage or gay parenthood (or any of those other activities that drive the LDS crazy and make them want to ship tons of money out of state); rather, what BY"U" tried to do here, even for a little while, was to efface the existence of Gay Mormons altogether. And that makes Fosco angry.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quote of the Week: Branding Porn

From a Conde Nast Portfolio article about the business model of YouPorn (a site that Fosco does not intend to link to...):

[YouPorn's owner] shared his vision of turning YouPorn into a "very cool brand, perhaps the Virgin of adult entertainment."

As someone who has flown both Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America airlines once or twice (in fact, Virgin America is based in SF), Fosco doesn't quite see the connection here (other than that Virgin is a pretty cool brand). But there are lots of cool brands--why mention Virgin by name? Is YouPorn going to get mood lighting? Cheeky safety videos? Or, will there be YouPorn cola?

Actually, maybe I do see a slight connection...

"HO, HO, HO! Zach has Herpes."

Fosco used to have the biggest crush on girl-boy Taylor Hanson of the original tween-music-sensation-band Hanson. Taylor was just so beautiful in that androgy-twink kind of way (on the left on the CD cover to the right). When he sang "MMMBop," Fosco always melted (Taylor was always the real talent in that band). Fosco had a Hanson calendar and everything! Of course, that was all years ago, when Fosco was like, um, 25.

Of course, Fosco is all grown up now. And so is Taylor. He's got facial hair. He's had his home-school graduation. Heck, he's even married with four children! Yes, it seems that Taylor and his (loser!) wife just had their fourth child. They named the boy "Viggo" to join their other children: Ezra, River, and Penelope. Hmmm, at least none of them are named Trail, Dish, or Fang.

Actually, the most shocking part of the People Exclusive! is that the other Hanson brothers, Isaac and Zac, are also married--TO EACH OTHER! And, apparently, this very nontraditional couple has ADOPTED KIDS! Yes, it appears to be true:

The growing Hanson family also includes their cousins, Isaac and Zac's kids, Everett, 1, Shepherd, 6 months, and Monroe, 5 months.
No matter what the rest of the world says, Fosco wishes Isaac and Zac only the best for their relationship. I'm sure they're very much in love.

Because it's the Christmas season and Fosco is blogging about Hanson, he cannot resist pointing you in the direction of one of his favorite humorous essays by Jon Stewart. You can find the text of Stewart's "A VERY HANSON CHRISTMAS, 1996-1999" here. It's very short and completely hilarious. Stewart imagines the Hanson Christmas letters from three very eventful years. Fosco's favorite line has been used to title this blog post. Fosco's second favorite line?:
I still have more money than any of you will ever have in a lifetime of being paid by the government not to grow corn.
Merry Christmas, indeed, my friends.

Back to Normal(?)

Okay, okay, so the whole "Day Without A Gay" thing fizzled (damn economy!). Even Fosco wasn't able to keep all of his resolutions yesterday (although he did manage to mostly avoid the TV and the Internet). But applause to everyone who tried to take it seriously (and appreciation to The Beemaster for holding his challenging comments until today).

I think when it comes down to it, there was one major problem: gays love work too much! Well, maybe that's not the real problem. However, I do think that many gay people didn't really feel like punishing their employers and coworkers yesterday (especially here in the Bay Area, where so many employers and coworkers are gay-friendly). Fosco's boyfriend Oz did not take the day off, for several reasons:

  • Oz's employer (a large, Peninsula-based, hipster corporation which shall remain nameless) is very gay friendly (both publicly and privately).
  • Half of Oz's department is gay, as is a large proportion of the company itself. If all of them had called in, the whole thing would have shut down.
  • The economy SUX, so why would you antagonize your employer?
Oh, I forgot: Oz also thought the whole thing was stupid.

Anyway, that's over and we can all get back to what really matters: Christmas (NSFW).

N.B.: Fosco will be grading final exams for the next few days, so Fosco Lives! may only be updated sporadically. Maybe.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Your Day Without Gay Fosco

Although he earlier poo-pooed the idea, Fosco is calling in gay to Fosco Lives! tomorrow. In fact, Fosco is swearing off the entire web for the day. Alas, he would love to avoid email as well, but he has a responsibility to his students...

Why the change of heart? Fosco read this excellent post, which included some convincing options for people (like Fosco) who can't skip work tomorrow but who want to make an impact nonetheless. The idea here is to efface one's presence economically:

Here are 5 ways you can make an impact tomorrow:
1. Volunteer your time and services after work
2. Do not buy anything
3. Do not watch TV or use your cell phone
4. Do not go online (yup, don’t even visit this site tomorrow)… Online advertising is everywhere and a simple page load could cause money to be spent.
5. Do not buy lunch (and don’t go out today to get what you need for lunch tomorrow), find something you already have and pack your lunch.
Fosco is going to try all of these (with an exception for his work-related email). In other words, Fosco is going to become as invisible as possible for the day. And he sure as hell won't be shopping at Urban Outfitters (but I guess that kinda goes without saying).

So what are you to do without new content on Fosco Lives! for a whole day? Well, without Fosco here to hector you about Prop H8, how will you keep up to date? Never fear: here's some Prop H8-related reading to do in your free time on Wednesday:
  • The must-read article of the week is Newsweek's cover story on the relationship between religion and gay marriage. Guess what: religious fundamentalists may be misreading the bible (no! yes!). How so?
    The argument goes something like this statement, which the Rev. Richard A. Hunter, a United Methodist minister, gave to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in June: "The Bible and Jesus define marriage as between one man and one woman. The church cannot condone or bless same-sex marriages because this stands in opposition to Scripture and our tradition."

    To which there are two obvious responses: First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage—theirs or anyone else's —to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes.
    In fact, Lisa Miller (the author) concludes that
    Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.
    Good, good stuff.

  • A great article in the NYTimes about the new gay activism (a very heartening piece, actually). Apparently, gay youth are taking Prop H8 as a wakeup call to abandon the timid rhetoric of traditional gay rights organizations in favor of a more confrontational approach. This seems like a reasonable conclusion. The appeasement/assimilation strategy of groups like the Human Rights Campaign has clearly reached its limit. It turns out that people aren't just going to give full civil rights to gays as long as we act harmless enough. We are going to get our full civil rights when we demand them and when we do so with enough power and strength to make people listen.

    The other great thing about this article are the tantalizing hints of protests to come:
    But many activists seem unwilling to wait for a legal solution and have planned a series of events to keep the issue in the public eye, including a nationwide candlelight vigil later this month, a Million Gay March in Washington next spring and continued protests at county clerks’ offices throughout California.
    Fosco is so down for the Million Gay March.

  • Think domestic partnership is an acceptable substitute for gay marriage? Here's a heartrending story by a gay man who is caring for his partner's developmentally disabled brother (luckily, there are also some heartwarming parts). Thanks, Todd for calling my attention to this piece.

  • Did you ever notice how Mike Huckabee is a likable, penis-having (reputedly) Sarah Palin? He's just as crazy as she is, but he's actually appealing (and can string together complete sentences). He also seems to think that the gay civil rights struggle is not comparable to Black civil rights because Black people faced the threat of violence during their rights struggle (read the transcript). Sure, Huck... tell it to this guy:

    On this Day Without Gays, take a moment to think about those gays who are not with us anymore.

If you can't call in gay...

By now, you've probably heard that tomorrow is the Day without a Gay, a day when gays across the country (and their allies) will skip work to teach the rest of you a lesson about our indispensability (I hope none of you have Broadway tix...). But, the idea is not for all of the hooky-playing gays (and their allies) to lounge around their gay homes all day (see pic at right). Rather, we are encouraged to donate our time to community service projects.

Fosco loves the idea, of course, but as he mentioned previously, his students have a Final Exam tomorrow for which he sorta needs to be available. But luckily, Fosco is not alone: there are other gays who cannot get off work tomorrow. So what are important working gays like us supposed to do?

Luckily, the organizer

has specifically urged high school students not to walk out of their classes and assured college students they won't be disloyal to the cause if they go ahead and take their final exams. He also has listed opportunities--ranging from writing letters to members of Congress about federal gay rights legislation to spreading the word about Wednesday on social networking sites--for gay marriage backers who cannot miss work.
Or, if you prefer other options, one of the other marriage equality groups has offered another way to participate:
Join The Impact, the online community that launched protests last month over the passage of gay marriage bans in California, Florida and Arizona, has urged people to withdraw $80 from their bank accounts Wednesday to demonstrate gays' spending power, and to devote the time they might otherwise spend watching TV or surfing the Internet to volunteer work.
So what is Fosco to do? While it would probably be easiest for him to withdraw $80 from his bank account, he's not sure he actually has $80 in his bank account. I suppose he could spend his internet time volunteering. But wouldn't that be punishing you, Fosco's loyal readers? (Or is that the point?) And if gays choose not to watch television tomorrow, won't that cause "Top Chef" to tank? No one wants that. As for writing letters to members of Congress, we've already seen that Fosco has no luck (damn you, Feinstein and Boxer). So that leaves the option of promoting gay marriage rights on Facebook. Maybe Fosco will use his Facebook status message! Wow, activism sure is hard!

But seriously, Fosco will actually do something tomorrow (other than update his Facebook status) to participate in the No Gay Day. And you should too.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Christmastime in SSF

Fosco and Oz had dinner in South San Francisco last Saturday (at Thai Satay. Yum!). Fosco had never been down the main street in SSF (Grand Ave) and he was surprised by the charming downtown district. At Thai Satay, Fosco and Oz got a window seat to look at the SSF Christmas lights.

One of the nice things about the Peninsula is that many of the smaller cities within easy driving to SF and San Jose still have vibrant, attractive downtowns with shops and restaurants. Fosco is quite fond of the downtowns of Burlingame, San Mateo, Millbrae, and Palo Alto. These downtowns are a nice surprise for Fosco, who grew up in place where downtown areas were dead and everyone within a fifty mile radius shopped and ate at the same mall/restaurant/entertainment complex built in the middle of cornfields.

Prop H8: Can You Live Without Your Gays?

Now this is a protest! On Wednesday, December 10, gay people are "encouraged to call in 'gay'--and donate your time to service!" (Presumably they will have lots of time to donate to service after being fired for calling in "gay.") Read more about the protest here.

Why a day without the gays? Well,

Gay people and our allies are compassionate, sensitive, caring, mobilized, and programmed for success. A day without gays would be tragic because it would be a day without love.
You see, gays are like giant love sprinklers who spray love all over the lawn of the world, nourishing the fragile heterosexual plants. And without your love sprinkler, what will happen to your lawn? That's right: love-lawn brown spots.

Silly rhetoric aside (what does it mean that gays are "programmed for success"?), this is actually a pretty great idea--assuming that there is strong participation. It might just surprise some Californians how many people in their everyday lives are gay. And once you realize that there are gays all around you, you might be less willing to fuck with their civil rights.

Of course, this protest is also a boon for comedy, as there is the opportunity for numerous jokes here about hair-dressing, gym-teaching, etc. Hopefully, this piece at Gawker has preempted most of those jokes by doing them well in advance. The better quote from the Gawker piece is this one:
people will see that nice gay and lesbian folk are everywhere around them. Stopping traffic for their kids, delivering mail, folding t-shirts, baking bread, teaching maths, governing cities, practicing medicine, hilariously defending your civil rights in courts of law, fighting impossible wars so you don't have to, and so and so on, forever and ever.
Or even grading your final exams! That's right: Fosco has a bit of a conflict here on Wednesday as his students' final exam is scheduled for that day. Would it be a good lesson in tolerance for them if Fosco didn't show up?

Putting the Santa in Santa Cruz

Where are you planning to spend the holidays? Well, if you have some disposable income and a travel jones, you can take a look at Travel + Leisure magazine's list of Ten Great Places to Spend the Christmas. Here's most of the list (#s 1-9):

  • Bali
  • Bay of Islands, New Zealand (it's summer there)
  • Charleston
  • Boston (it's wicked cold)
  • Edinburgh (really? why?)
  • Montreal
  • Munich
  • Park City, Utah (schuss...)
  • Puerto Rico
The real surprise (for Fosco at least) is #10:

Santa Cruz

Yes! Santa Cruz (California) is one of ten great places worldwide to spend Christmas. Really!

You may be asking why (and in this you are not alone). Here's T+L's justification:
Now Fosco enjoys thousand year old redwoods as much as the next guy (well, maybe not as much as these guys), but why are they a good thing for Christmas? It's not like you can cut them down and decorate them in your living room (well, at least not easily). And who or what are these "over-caffeinated young bucks"? What does that even mean? Students? The homeless? Actual deer (pretty likely, actually)?

At any rate, it seems that Fosco will be spending his Christmas break in one of T+L's Top Ten Holiday Destinations.

Weekend Stories

Some quickbites from the weekend:

1. Will the real Bill Ayers please stand up? Oh, there he is, on the Op-Ed page of the NYTimes. He sounds like a pretty reasonable man, actually. The one good line:

We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism
Why do I love the the phrase "extreme vandalism" so much? Because it reminds me of this (from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle):

How extreme was your vandalism, Bill Ayers? Extremely extreme! Wooo!

2. Let's stay on the NYT Op-Ed page for a second. In this piece, Patrick French needs to tell us that "They Hate Us — and India Is Us." Apparently, the terrorists hate Mumbai because
Despite its manifest social failings, India remains the developing world’s most successful experiment in free, plural, large-scale political collaboration.
The problem here, as Fosco has noted in a recent post, is that the phrase "despite its manifest social failings," brackets some serious contributing factors to the kind of violence directed against Mumbai. It's also worth noting that referring to Mumbai, which is the slum capital of the world, as "the developing world's most successful experiment" is a bit like calling Lubbock the most exciting city in Texas's South Plains. It may be true, but it's not really a cause for celebration. You know--it's as if the NYTimes op-ed columnists aren't reading Fosco Lives!

3. Did you hear that George W. and Lori Laura Bush bought a house in Dallas? Sounds like a perfect neighborhood for them, too. According to this story,
until 2000, the neighborhood association's covenant said only white people were allowed to live there, though an exception was made for servants.
That's right: "until 2000"! Now, I don't know if Kanye West was right that George Bush doesn't care about black people, but it sure seems like Bush doesn't want to see them at the block party.

4. Perhaps the saddest news that Fosco has to share with you today is that the recession is finally hitting Fosco's favorite sector of the economy: fine dining. From an article in the SF Chronicle:
Not since 9/11 have Bay Area restaurants, whether it be the fancy, white-tablecloth ones or the cozy neighborhood hangouts, seen such a lull in business. But this time, restaurant owners say, it's worse. Even in an area known for its obsession with food, some restaurants say revenue is down as much as 40 percent. Many restaurateurs are laying off workers; others reducing the days they are open.
Worst of all, there is no immunity for the Bay Area's premier temple of culinary art, Restaurant Michael Mina (home of two Michelin stars--the highest rating in the city):
For the first time in its nearly five-year existence, Michael Mina, the four-star restaurant in San Francisco's Westin St. Francis Hotel, will close two days of the week - Sunday and Monday. Chef-owner Michael Mina said those are his slowest days in an already slow economy. He said his sales fell 10 percent during September and October. Tables aren't filling up like they once did, and diners are shying away from expensive wines.
This is especially sad to Fosco as he has a thing for Michael Mina (the restaurant). In fact, this is where Fosco and Oz celebrated their first anniversary this past summer, over a meal that was spectacular in every way. Including dessert:

Hang in there, Michael Mina (the restaurant)! Fosco and Oz will be back (if the recession is over by their second anniversary).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

New Look

Inspired Christian Dior or perhaps by Josiah McElheny's blown-glass homage to Dior, "From an Historical Anecdote About Fashion" (2000) [see below], Fosco Lives! has a New Look. Hopefully, you will find the new Fosco Lives! to be a little sleeker, a little more chic, and a little less "template-y." And there are still some tweaks to come.

The new header is an engraving of the character Count Fosco from Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White. This engraving is from an 1861 American edition of the novel (published by Harper & Bros.) held by the NY Pubic Public Library (thanks to Google's Library Project). The illustrator was John Lennon McLenan.

This is also a good time for Fosco to thank you for your devoted reading. If it weren't for you, Fosco would be lonely.