Sunday, May 9, 2021

R.I.P., Cugina

 

I haven't been doing any blogging, or really any blog reading for the last several weeks, because I've found myself either escaping into work, or movies. I haven't wanted to do a lot of anything, for several reasons. One of those is that I lost the person I was closest to in my family. Tara was born one day, and one year after I was. We were the first and second grandchildren on our mutual side of our families, and I loved her so damn much. 

I knew Tara was the one person who would always have my back, no matter what. She had her struggles, but she always rose above them. She was truly one of the strongest people I've ever known. I'm going to miss her so damn much. 

I have a lot of guilt in my soul for how little I talked to her as she was fighting her last battle with cancer. I hate that I allowed myself to be distracted as much as I was. I loathe that I wasn't able to see her before she passed. I'll get to say goodbye next month at her memorial service in WY. But, it's not enough for me. I will forever regret that I didn't get to say goodbye in person. 

Love you, Cugina. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Leaving My Reading Comfort Zone

 



I've been pondering this whole notion of comfort zones when it comes to reading, though I think we could apply this to any sort of media that we choose to consume. At first, I didn't even want to admit that I have them. I felt embarrassed by the idea. 

After I thought about it some more, I started to look at my reading patterns. In reality you could call what I've done over the last few years as being in holding patterns. If I wanted to aim some judgement at myself, I'd even go as far as calling them ruts. What I started to question is whether or not I would equate those patterns/ruts as comfort zones. And I can admit that while both my more recent "ruts", Golden Age mysteries and M/M romance, give me comfort, I don't think they qualify as actual comfort zones, at least not in the way I choosing to interpret the whole concept. 

Oddly, it's actually my romance reading that even has me pondering this whole esoteric concept. In my romance reading, I tend to get sucked into series, more than I do standalone novels. Though I read quite a bit of those too. What I've found myself doing in certain series is the issue at hand. Anytime a book has featured a relationship that is either M/M/F, M/F, or F/F, I've skipped over those books. At first I wanted to just shrug it off to not wanting to read sex scenes that involve women, despite the fact that I skim through most sex scenes anyway. Then I decided I have to see M/F relationships all over the place in every other form of media, that I don't need to read romances about it. That really didn't explain my skipping over the other two types of relationships though. That sort of left me with no other explanation than they make me uncomfortable, so I needed to figure out why. And while some of it is the sex scenes and the fact I have heterosexuality shoved in my face on a regular basis, I had to admit something I'm not all that proud of. It's partly because as a gay man, I don't understand those types of relationships. It's the same reason I've tended to skip over M/M romance that has a transman as part of the couple. Since I don't understand how they work, I chose to not read about them. I chose to not invest my time in something I didn't understand, nor cared to.  

After I realized that, I had to take a hard look at myself. I began to wonder what other books, or even movies, I was ignoring because I didn't care/wonder about the perspective and story being told. What books were I ignoring because I don't understand the culture, religion, ethnic background, sexuality, disability, or world view that was at the heart of the story being told? That isn't something I can easily answer. All I can do is try to be more aware in my choices, and do my damndest to broaden my exposure. It's time to start pushing beyond my comfort zones, and maybe someday eliminate them altogether.

For the record, I'm now reading a F/F romance novel that is the fourth in a series I absolutely love. 

Friday, March 12, 2021

I Have Something to Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg

 

If you even remotely paid attention to me on Facebook, you would know who my favorite candidate was during the Democratic primaries. Going into them, I actually had three favorites: Buttigieg, Castro, and Harris.  They were the three individuals that I had been paying attention to for years, and will always hold a lot of admiration for. In the beginning, the three of them were pretty much grouped together, with no real order of preference. For that matter, I would have been in heaven had anyone found a way to set up triumvirate government, with the three of them sharing power. 

As the primaries slogged on, Pete started to edge ahead of the other two. And by the time he dropped out, he was my first choice. I won't go into the policy issues that pushed me his way, though I could list quite a few, this just isn't the place to do that. Stylistically, he was also the one I was able to connect to the most.  Again, since this isn't the real point of this post, I'll skip over that as well.  Which leaves us with the deeply personal connection I felt to him and his campaign, and his husband, Chasten, had a lot to do with that.  

As a gay man, who struggled with acceptance as a kid, seeing an out man have a real chance at the White House, was something I never thought I would see in my lifetime.  Seeing my lived experience as a gay man, in someone who could easily be President of the Untied States, was nothing short of life affirming.  Getting to know him, as well as you can through the media and his own book, was something I would have loved to experience when I was younger.  The visibility and example he lives, gives our youth a glimpse of what it means when we say, It Gets Better.

The truly joyful part of Pete's campaign, was getting to see and "know" his husband, Chasten. If you have ever followed Chasten on social media, how he comes across there, is the same way he comes across in his memoir. His intelligence, loving heart, and wit are on full display. He doesn't pull punches, but he wraps them in both understanding and humility. He owns up to the mistakes he made, and seems to be someone who truly knows who he is. He comes across as humble, but with the understanding that he and his husband represent a sense of hopefulness for the future in terms of LGBTQ+ acceptance in a country that doesn't always feel welcoming, and oftentimes dangerous. 

When I first saw their Time magazine cover, with the words First Family, I cried. If I had seen that as a kid, it would have been everything to me, like seeing Norm on the first season of The Real World or watching the 1993 LGB March on Washington. I hope this book  an be that touchstone for some of today's youth, just looking to know they aren't alone. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Age Sneaks Up On Us


On August 15th of this year, I'll be turning 45. Its not something I think about all that often. Hell, half the time I need to stop and think for a few seconds when someone asks me for my age. When I do think of it, its more in terms of where I thought my life would be by this time; normally I would married with kids, and a hell of a lot more financially stable than I am. The older I get, I'm not even sure how I'm supposed to feel. What is approaching 45 supposed to feel like? I don't think I feel any different than I did in my 30s, or even in my 20s, at least not mentally. I'm definitely more mature in some of my choices, though some like budgeting are still an issue. But, I can't say I normally notice that much of a difference. I can definitely tell my body is aging, and fattening, but it's hard to remember what my body felt like 5 years ago, let alone 10 or 20. 

Life has a funny way of reminding us just how old we are getting. Some are ongoing, like I've been trying to get used to the idea I probably need bifocals. I'm just not ready to pulls the trigger, and admit defeat. Others just slap you in the face. I'm in Kansas City for work, staying in a hotel, and like everyone else I pack all my essentials to take along with me. I am also one of those annoying people who unpack everything once I get to the hotel. This time around, as I'm unpacking, I notice all the damn pill bottles I'm pulling out. All I can do is sit there staring, wondering when I got this old. I used to pack 8 pairs of shoes, not 8 medicine bottles. I only brought one pair of boots with me, and that's it. I unpacked 8 freaking bottles, and not one is a supplement or a vitamin. The powers that be need to design disclaimers about what getting older really means. Maybe then I wouldn't be so dismayed that instead of packing multiple pairs of shoes, I'm now taking pharmacies along with me. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

We Need to Stop Blaming the Victims



I've started this post off with about 17 different opening lines so far, but none of them have been able to get across my deep seated frustration at what I see happening to victims of sexual harassment and assault. Frankly, frustration is probably too mild of a term. Seething anger may be a more apt description of how I feel. All too often, even when the victims are believed, they are still blamed for what happened to them. They are told they shouldn't have put themselves in that situation, they should have dressed differently, they should have had less to drink, they simply misunderstood, or a myriad of other bullshit excuses, designed to shift the blame onto the victim, instead of the perpetrator. How about we start holding those who can't keep their hands to themselves, responsible for their own behavior?  Let's stop making excuses. Stop saying boys will be boys, as if rape and harassment are inherent to being a man. Stop saying it's locker room talk. Quit gaslighting victims. Why do we place so much of the responsibility and the guilt onto those who were exploited and hurt, all the while doing everything we can to protect the one responsible for the damage?

I could split this post off into several different tangents, including how when the victim is man, we treat them even worse, but I won't, because it all comes down to the same thing. We need to stop acting like the victim is responsible for bringing down these powerful men, and women, and start blaming the perpetrators themselves for ending their own careers. 

We need to do better.

We have to do better.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

February 2021 Viewing, At Least So Far

 



For those of you who may be new to Wordsmithonia, I'm a huge movie nerd. I have almost 400 movies in my personal collection, and I'm always buying more, especially over the last year. I have probably spent more on Amazon in the last twelve months, than I have over the previous ten years. If you couldn't tell by the picture, I'm an even bigger horror movie nerd. I love them. From the cheesy to the terrifying, I'm just about down for anything horror, at least once. Except for torture porn, that stuff just sucks. I didn't watch all that much in February, especially compared to the month before. 

This is what I watched:

Tenet (2020) - It was okay. I keep watching these kind of movies, hoping I'm going to come out the other side in love with what I had just watched. It's never happened before, and it didn't this time. I'm going to have to admit that I just don't dig high concept sci-fi thrillers. They give me headaches. I didn't hate it, and I enjoyed the action scenes, but it's nothing I'll watch again.  
Watched On: Vudu

Blood Fest (2018) - I absolutely love horror comedy, and I was so damned relieved when my second pick of the month, was one that I absolutely adored. It's not perfect. It had a few missteps, but they are the kind of flaws that are easy for me to overlook. The cast is, minus one, perfect. The plot is an on point send up of both horror movies and horror themed attractions. This will go on my yearly watch of Hellfest LLC, The Houses October Buillt, Haunt, and Hell Fest.
Watched On: Amazon Prime Video

Fright Fest (2018) - Despite some decent casting, this was a waste of my time. It was an orgy of over the top horror cliches and one dimensional characters. I can sometimes over look those sorts of things, but if the movie doesn't scare me or make me laugh, it's not worth the pain of sitting through the whole thing.
Watched On: Amazon Prime Video

21 Bridges (2019) - A heroic performance by Chadwick Boseman. Great performances by the rest of the cast. I wish I could say that the movie was worthy of it's talent, but I can't. The storyline was generic and predictable, albeit entertaining. In order for me to fall for a movie like this, I need some sort of redemptive arc, and nobody was given that opportunity. I was entertained while watching it, but it's nothing I will ever watch again.
Watched On: Vudu

Digging Up the Marrow (2014) - The best thing about this movie is the poster. 
Watched On: Amazon Prime Video 

The Haunting of Grady Farm (2019) - It was okay. I love found footage horror, but that love means I watch a lot of mediacore to bad movies. This was about average.
Watched On: Amazon Prime Video 

Hollows Grove (2014) - Another found footage horror, and one I genuinely enjoyed. The performances were above average for this genre, though three of the male characters oozed just a tad bit too much toxic masculinity. I actually ended up caring about what happened to the other male character, which rarely happens in these kind of movies, since the endings are always the same. My one sticking point is the way it's framed as an investigation by the FBI. Stupidest framing ever.
Watched On: Amazon Prime Video 

Ghoul (2015) - Yet another found footage horror movie, this time taking place in Ukraine. The movie is filmed in a mixture of English and Czech, so luckily there were subtitles. This followed a group of Americans as they were attempting to make a documentary about modern day cannibals. I liked it, but not enough to watch again.
Watched On: Amazon Prime Video 

The Empty Man (2020) - Just below my love of found footage horror, sits my love of cult horror. James Badge Dale is frickin brilliant here, I just wish the rest of the cast had lived up to his performance. They weren't bad, but compared to him, they were noticeably weaker. It made for a disjointed viewing experience. The movie is probably too long as well, though it does pack in a few unsettling moments. I feel like I'm saying this a lot, but while I enjoyed it, it's nothing I'll ever need to watch again.
Watched On: Amazon Prime Video (Rented)

Love and Monsters (2020) - A shit ton of fun, with some really cool looking monsters. I loved that it doesn't have the typical happy rom/com ending, and I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of comedy and scary thrills. Dylan O'Brien is an absolute treasure.
Watched On: Bluray From My Collection

Camp Cold Brook (2018) - Decent performances with an interesting storyline, but some of the writing felt unfinished and rushed. I actually think, given the plot, that it would have been better as a found footage film.
Watched On: Amazon Prime Video 

Against the Night (2017) - It was surprisingly better than it should have been. The acting was superior to what I expect from these kind of low budget horror movies. It definitely has a few flaws, and the red herrings were a little annoying, but I actually enjoyed this one. 
Watched On: Amazon Prime Video 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Let's Talk About Sex, Or At Least About Sexuality - Mainly Mine

 


Let's have a frank talk about sexuality.  I'm going to get personal,  and you will probably learn things about me that you really didn't want to know,  so if this isn't a conversation you want to be involved in, just skip this post.  I actually first posted this on my Facebook page, so if you already read it there, I apologize for subjecting it to you twice. Actually I don't, but I thought I should say that.

I identify as a gay man.

Prepubescent Ryan, had more crushes on boys, than on girls. I do think those kind of crushes have more to do with personality, than gender at that stage in our lives. I would try to catch glimpses of men's dicks in public bathrooms. I did steal a pack of topless women playing cards once, though the glimpses of Playgirl magazines were more interesting to me.  

Once I hit puberty, men are all that I paid attention to. I wanted to lick, suck, fuck, touch, and play with every inch of a man's body. I had a lot of sex, with a lot of men. The number of men should be embarrassing, hence the reason I won't put it out there, but I'm not ashamed of it. It is what it was. Do I wish I had met THE ONE? Absolutely. But even if I had, which that is for me to know and you to never find out, it wouldn't have mattered. I was too damn immature, and frankly enjoying the attention too much, to not fuck it up.  That is another post though, I'm not ready to get into my body image and self-esteem issues right now. 

The sweaty sex that can last all night, is not the only reason I identify as a gay man. I am mentally, emotionally, and spiritually attracted to cismen, at least so far. At 44 years old, I've never been sexually attracted to a woman, nor had sex with one.  I've made out a few times, kissing and breast fondling, but that's it. The breast play never went underneath clothes, or involved nipples. Truthfully, the fact it even happened had more to do with alcohol and those specific situations, which also included other men, than any true attraction. It also never happened once my early clubbing days were over with.  To be even more truthful, I felt nothing. I may as well been brushing my teeth. 

As I've aged, while I still identify as a gay man, I've also come to identify as demisexual. And eventhough it may be hard to believe, given my dashing looks and ripped body (said with pure sarcasm), I've actually been celibate for almost 18 years now, by choice. I've gotten to the point where I have to be mentally and/or emotionally attracted to a guy first, before I truly find them physically attractive enough to want to get sweaty with them. Since I don't go out, or even make the attempt to meet guys in a situation where that can happen, I've been celibate. I can still look at a hot guy, and admire the scenery, but I have no desire to do any licking or sucking. Hence, why I also identify myself as demi. I still get off on porn, though it has more to do with the physical and endorphin release, than it does with actuall attraction.

The fact that I identify as a demi gay man, brings me to the point of this post. I tend to have random thoughts, like we all do, and while part of what I'm about to say is something I've always accepted about myself, the thought I had last night was completely new. It's also the aspect that I brought up in a conversation with Viki, that inspired this post. I accepted, years ago, the fact that just because I identify as a gay man, as a demi gay man, that doesn't mean it will always be that way. I'm comfortable with myself enough that if I ever do find myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically attracted to a woman, a transwoman, or a transman, I'm not going to hurt myself by not accepting that attraction. I'm not going to let how I currently identify, keep me from being happy. I don't think it's probable, but I know that it's possible. To reject that, makes absolutely no sense. 

My point is this, sexuality is not stagnant, at least not in the way I view it. It's already evolved for me, and I know it may evolve again. And while I think labels are important, for a myriad of reasons, I also think we can end up using them as barriers when we find ourselves reacting in ways that run counterintuitive to those labels. I personally choose to use labels, for both personal and political reasons, and I probably always will. I'm starting to wonder if I should, could, or even can start using a different label. I'm not sure I can call myself pan, just because I acknowledge the idea that I could find myself attracted to someone who is not a cisman, while never actually experiencing attraction to anyone else. Nor do I necessarily feel a need to right now, but it's something I've at least thought about. Even if it was just once.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Almost Three Years Later



This crazy thing called Wordsmithonia has been on my mind, a lot. I miss the community I found on here. I miss blog hopping, and getting lost for hours in y'alls posts. I know I've  said this before, but it may just be time to start getting back into this whole blogging gig. I don't think it will be a pure book blog anymore, though I'll still throw up an occasional book or movie review. I may even trot out my Favorite Fictional Character feature, though not every week. 

I think mainly I want to use this as more of a personal journal/outlet. I've never been shy about expressing my opinion on here in the past, or sharing pieces of my life, but it was never the point of this blog. I think if I'm to get back into blogging, I need to make it feel less like a 2nd job, and more like a way to express myself. I'm also not going to set strict timelines on when I post, or even what the content will be. It will be a more freewheeling expression of who I am as a whole person, not just as a reader. 

So with that, I hope to see you around.