On Twitter yesterday I saw a tweet about this live streaming Youtube video so I went over and checked it out. Sure enough there's this good looking young guy, completely naked, lying in some kind of a glass box in a public place...while passersby stop and chat with him.
I'm still not certain what it's about, however, since I'm always harping on no male full frontal nudity anywhere in films and on TV I thought I'd share the link. I didn't even know they did things like this on Youtube.
|A Christmas Carl|
You can check it out here. You also have to remember this isn't porn and it's not supposed to be erotic, but I did see male full frontal nudity with my very own eyes. He's actually a nice looking guy, too.
People seem to be mostly concerned about how and when he goes to the bathroom.
The Wiz, Racism, and Pretty Man
Evidently, there's some kind of kerfuffle going on about The Wiz having an all black cast.
The Wiz, of course, is the landmark 1975 Broadway musical that has a killer 1978 film adaptation starring Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor, among others.
It was written to feature an all-black cast, and based on The Wizard of OZ.
I hate to sound like a snob here, but the only people who take art of any kind and make it political are usually the uncultured. In other words, even though I despise segregation and racism, I think artistic endeavors like The Wiz are cultural in every aspect of the word culture. And there's nothing wrong with The Wiz having an all-black cast because of these cultural aspects. I think art falls into a different category altogether. It's art.
The Wiz is a more modern, cultural version of an old story line...because nothing like that was ever done before with an all-black cast. I can relate to this strongly with respect to gay culture and mainstream stories and films like And Officer and His Gentleman. Gay people like me didn't have any gay artistic content growing up. NOTHING. And when I parodied And Officer and a Gentleman as An Officer and HIS Gentleman I did not do that by accident. I wanted to give gay readers something they'd never had before that was equivalent to what the mainstream gets.
Of course I took many hits and slams for that, and in some cases I'm still taking them today from those who don't "get" it. Some reviewers said I plagiarized their favorite films and they didn't even bother to check out the fact that the content of my gay books are so different from the originals, including dialogue. Seriously. What kind of an idiot would believe I was plagiarizing with titles as obvious as My Fair Laddie and Pretty Man? I've always been up front and honest about what I did and what my intentions were. So no, I don't think The Wiz is racist because there's an all-black cast. I think it's culturally important to the art form as it is being interpreted.
But what bothers me about this article is this:
Because racism! And reverse-racism!
The author of the article is trying to be clever and it's huge a fail for me. I don't believe in "reverse-racism." It's either racism or it's not. No one should get a free pass on racism anymore, not even a minority. But that's a whole different blog post.
The rest is here. And there are comments of all kinds with this one, so you've been warned.
FREE Gay Fiction Excerpt
I haven't posted a free excerpt for a while, so here's one from my latest WIP, The Rainbow Detective Agency: Saying Goodbye. It's from chapter eight, when Blair and Proctor go back to Connecticut for the weekend to check up on Proctor's mom who is dealing with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Although there is a happy ending with this story, the theme of this book is a little more intense than others. The case that Blair and Proctor are handling deals with legal euthanasia and a client who is also dealing with a terminal diagnosis.
No spoilers, though. I hate when I see that. I should also add that these books in The Rainbow Detective series are always more focused on life and romance than the actual mystery. There is a mystery, but the point of the entire series is that Proctor and Blair always wind up taking on cases that don't always make sense. Odd, ridiculous quirky cases sometimes. And they usually wind up taking these cases on because they're both so trusting. In this book, however, their ethics are questioned.
Here's the excerpt:
On Friday night, Lloyd Gamble, Proctor's dad, picked them up at the train station in Connecticut and drove them back to the large, two story white colonial house where Proctor had grown up. They would only be there for two nights and a day and a half, not nearly enough time for Proctor to do all the things he wanted to do. They wouldn't need a rental car. He figured he would spend the entire weekend in the old house, with his mom, catching up on her cancer treatments, talking to the home healthcare giver she'd hired, and checking over all her medications and blood work results.
There were so many practical things to do Proctor had to make time to focus on all the emotional things, too. If he'd had his way his mom and dad would have moved to LA into his house, or his guest house. She would have had her chemotherapy there instead of in Connecticut, where Proctor could have handled everything himself. Not having any control whatsoever kept him awake many nights, and yet in the same respect he admired his mom's courage for taking control of her own cancer diagnosis and doing everything the way she wanted to do it. If he'd been in her position he would have insisted on doing the same thing.
As Lloyd pulled out of the train station, Proctor asked, "How is mom?"
"She's good," Lloyd said. He never answered this question in detail, only with broad generalizations. "Rebecca's at the house with her right now and she's going to wait until we get back to leave. I don't feel comfortable leaving her alone anymore." Rebecca was the woman Proctor's mom had fallen in love with at the time she'd been diagnosed with terminal cancer. It wasn't a sexual relationship. If it ever had been, Proctor never asked. It was an unusual arrangement because Proctor's dad, Lloyd, was still married to Lorraine, Proctor's mom. Rebecca was active in their lives, and Lorraine had no intention of leaving Lloyd for Lorraine. It had taken years for Lorraine to admit she was gay, and months for Lloyd to accept it. However, the cancer diagnosis had put things into perspective for all of them. As unusual as this arrangement was, Lorraine wanted to live her final days in the home she'd shared with Lloyd all those years, and Lloyd wanted that for her as well.
"I'm glad Rebecca's here all the time," Proctor said. "She's an unusual woman." When he'd first found out his mom was seeing another woman, he'd been devastated…by the shock and the deception. To think his own mother had been a closeted lesbian all those years he'd been worried about being gay freaked him out. But after he learned of the cancer, and then saw how devoted Rebecca was to both his mom and dad, he discovered a new way of thinking. After all, even though his mom and dad's relationship wasn't of a sexual nature with Rebecca, his relationship with Blair and Kevin wasn't all that much different and he hadn't expected that to happen either. He was in no position to judge anyone, least of all his dying mother.
"It's good to have someone with all Rebecca’s medical knowledge around, too," Lloyd said. "I honestly don't know what I'd do without her." Rebecca was a nurse practitioner in Manhattan. That's how his mom met her, in the hospital, right around the same time she'd been diagnosed with cancer.
"You don't have to explain, dad," Proctor said. "I understand and I agree." Rebecca had also become his mom's personal patient advocate, which meant Lorraine was getting better care than most people with cancer. Knowing the difference between taking a pain pill as opposed to wearing a pain patch made all the difference when it came to his mom's quality of life. Rebecca knew how to manage these things, and more, flawlessly. In fact, Proctor depended on her opinion more than most of his mom's doctors.
Blair was in the backseat. He usually remained silent whenever Proctor and Lloyd discussed family matters. He seemed to sense the lull in the conversation. "So how's the new Escalade, Lloyd?" Lloyd had picked them up in his brand new Cadillac Escalade. They'd all taken a quick trip up to Cape Cod that summer in a car just like it Blair had rented and Lloyd liked it so much he went out and bought one. The car was really a diversion, something that kept Lloyd distracted from the cancer and all the darkness in his life. Even though Lloyd seemed to understand the severity of Lorraine's cancer diagnosis, Proctor wasn't always certain he grasped the full magnitude of it. Lloyd never spoke about Lorraine's death. He spoke about how well she was doing with chemotherapy and how many positive things she accomplished. Proctor wasn't certain if his dad's attitude was denial or absolute fear. He didn't ask.
"Best car I ever had," Lloyd said. "I can take Lorraine anywhere and if she's tired she can lie down in the backseat and sleep as if she's at home."
Then they talked about the caregiver and how Lloyd and Lorraine were not always thrilled with her. The caregiver didn't know how to cook well. They claimed she didn't even know the basics of making a simple ham and cheese sandwich…she served it on a plate without cutting it in half…or a decent pot of chicken soup. Proctor just listened without saying a word. He knew the caregiver and he knew she was doing her best. He also knew Lloyd's complaints were mostly based on the fact that neither he nor Lorraine wanted to admit they needed a caregiver. They seemed to depend on her and yet at the same time they resented her being in their lives, as if having a caregiver meant they had to admit defeat. Proctor understood this and he listened to the complaints without arguing because he was in constant touch with the caregiver without them knowing it. He talked with her or texted her a few times a week, gathering information about his mom's condition and his dad's state of mind. He didn't feel close enough to Rebecca to ask her for information, he didn't always trust the information his received from his mom or dad, and the caregiver became his main trusted source of information.
When they pulled into the driveway, Lloyd switched off the engine and said, "I'll help Blair get your bags. You go right up and see her. She's been forcing herself to stay awake until you arrived."
Proctor climbed out of the car without waiting for Blair or his dad and headed up the red brick path to the front door. He clenched his fists and took a deep breath before he entered the house. He hadn't been there for two weeks and each time he returned his mom looked a little different. He never knew what to expect. The chemo drug she took didn't make her hair fall out, but sometimes she looked almost normal and other times she appeared wasted and so frail she could barely lift her arms to hug him.
He climbed the main staircase in the center hall slowly, guarding each step he took in case she might be sleeping. He turned right at the top of the stairs and headed down to the end of the long hallway where he saw his mom's bedroom door halfway open. The house felt quieter than usual. It still smelled of furniture polish and disinfectant. He figured his mom's regular cleaning service must have been there that day, which allowed him to sigh with relief. He often worried about whether or not she was getting the right basic care, with general cleaning and everyday things, including food and clean linens. As he glanced around the house quickly, nothing seemed to be out of place. However, if she'd been living with him the sheets would have been changed daily, the meals would have been planned weeks in advance, and everything in her life would have sparkled.
When he reached his mom's bedroom, he stopped in the doorway and poked his head inside. Rebecca was sitting in a wing chair that had been moved up close to Lorraine's four-post tester bed, reading what sounded like a passage from Dickens.
He knocked gently and Lorraine glanced toward the door.
"Is she awake?" Proctor asked, waving at Rebecca.
"I'm wide awake," Lorraine said. "I've been waiting for you." Then she sat up and started to climb out of bed.
Proctor entered and crossed to the bed. "Don't get up. I just wanted to come in to say hello. You need your rest."
Lorraine ignored him. While Rebecca put on her slippers, Lorraine reached for a rosewood cane leaning against the nightstand and said, "All I do is rest. I want to come downstairs and talk for a while. I'm fine. Really, I'm good. I know what I can do."
Rebecca looked up at him and smiled. "She's okay. It's been a good week so far. No huge complaints. This is good for her."
This information made Proctor sigh with relief once again. He met his mom near the end of the bed, gave her a big hug, and kissed her cheek. "You look great." What else could he say? He noticed she'd lost more weight and her mid-length straight blond hair was growing gray at the roots. He'd never seen Lorraine with any other hair color than blonde. She'd always worn it the same way: a straight blunt bob that fell just above her shoulders.
She must have been reading his mind. "Don't look at my roots. I know they're embarrassing and you're going to take me to the salon to get them done tomorrow morning."
"Are you sure you're up to it?" Proctor asked. He knew her immune system was weaker because of the chemo and he didn't want to see her exposed to other germs.
"I'm up to it," she said. "And don't start worrying about that. I want to feel like I'm still part of the human race and getting my hair done makes all the difference in the world. I hate to make your dad take me. You know how he is with those things. And Rebecca is at work all day."
"What about Sharita?" This was the name of his mom's caregiver.
"Oh, her. I can't ask her to do anything out of the ordinary," Lorraine said. "She's not the brightest bulb, if you get my drift. Not to be nasty, but she's an idiot. Doesn't know her left hand from her right unless she thinks about it for minute. I think there might be something wrong with Clarita."
"Sharita," Proctor said. His mom and dad often mispronounced Sharita's name and Proctor couldn't tell if they did it on purpose or by accident.
"Yeah, whatever," Lorraine said.
Proctor and Rebecca exchanged a quick glance. They'd spoken about Sharita and they both agreed Lorraine was too hard on her sometimes. After all, Sharita was a caregiver, not a nurse or a doctor or a maid. Proctor's mom and dad seemed to hold that against her sometimes.
As Lorraine headed for the hallway, Proctor said, "I'm glad you're using the cane." It hadn't been easy to get her to use it regularly.
"Yeah," Lorraine said. "It's good for when I'm in stores and I have to push little kids out of the way."
Proctor's eyes grew wider and he glanced at Rebecca again. Rebecca was smiling and shaking her head, as if she’d learned how to recuse herself from conversations like this. Ever since Lorraine's cancer diagnosis she'd begun to say anything that came to the top of her head. She'd never been that way before. She's always been so polite and articulate, always worried about what other people might be thinking of her. Now it seemed as if she didn't care what anyone thought anymore.
They went downstairs and met Lloyd and Blair in the living room. Proctor and Rebecca went into the kitchen to make coffee…Lorraine insisted on coffee, not tea…and spoke for a few moments in private about his mom's condition. They talked about tumor markers, chemotherapy, and a few of the pain medications Lorraine was taking. Rebecca smiled a lot and pretended everything was much better, but Proctor could see the worried look in her eyes whenever she glanced away from him.
Before they took a tray of coffee into the living room to join Blair, Lloyd, and Lorraine, Proctor stopped in the dining room and asked, "How much time do you think she has?"
Rebecca hesitated, and then said, "No one knows that. At this point it could be weeks, months, or even a year. It all depends on how well she continues to respond to the chemotherapy."
"How is her pain? You know she’ll never tell me."
Rebecca shrugged again. "Her cancer spread to the liver, which you already know, and she's in almost chronic pain at this point. It's not severe pain and we're taking her to a pain management doctor who seems to being a good job. She's not taking pain medications constantly, which is a good thing. She only takes them when she needs them. Overall, she’s actually doing better than most people with the kind of cancer she has."
The conversation was beginning to sound like a repeat of many conversations Proctor had had with Rebecca, so he took a quick breath and asked the one question that had been bothering him the most. "When will I know? When will I know she's near the end?" He had trouble processing this part of Lorraine's illness. He'd never known anyone who had terminal cancer and he kept wondering…imagining...what the final stages would be like.
Rebecca looked him in the eye and said, "It usually begins with jaundice. It's hard to say, though. All I can say is we'll know. You just know. The doctor's will sign off and we'll have to call hospice in to cover her for the final stages. She wants to do that right here at home."
Proctor nodded and said, "Thank you for being so honest. I want you to call me the moment that happens, the instant you know she's in the final stages. I want to be here. If my mom says not to call me, ignore her. I want to be here."
Rebecca smiled and said, "And you should be here. I'll make sure you know. You don't have to worry about that as long as I'm around."
After that, they hugged and went into the living room and talked for the next two hours. When Proctor helped Lorraine to bed she seemed to have trouble catching her breath. In the morning, Proctor helped Lorraine get dressed and then they both piled into her twenty-five year old gray Mercedes sedan and headed to the hairdresser she'd been going to for the last thirty years. The leathery smell of the old car and the sound of the motor turning over in the garage seemed to bring them both comfort that morning. They exchanged a quick glance and smiled at the same time for no reason in particular.
Getting out of the house and away from caregivers and medical things seemed to be the best medicine in the world for Lorraine, especially with Proctor there by her side. It took her away from everything wrong with her current world and it seemed to bring her back to happier times. He knew she enjoyed him being there by the way she spoke and acted. She didn’t seem to be in pain; she didn’t seem to worry about anything because she knew he was in control. He hadn’t heard this light-hearted tone in her voice on the phone. They both seemed to know even though the caregivers and friends were wonderful, nothing would ever replace the bond and the affection that could come from a close family member, especially a child. When he realized how much she depended on him that morning, and how proud she was to have him there, it gutted him to think she wouldn’t allow him to move back to Connecticut or that she wouldn’t move out to Los Angeles.
Even though Proctor was a celebrity all over the world, he was just plain old Proctor Gamble in this little town where he'd grown up. No one in the beauty shop made a fuss about him. They concentrated on Lorraine and told her how wonderful she looked. He sat in a chair waiting with a magazine that was over a year old, and for a while it almost felt as if everything was perfectly normal again. He'd needed that feeling as much as his mom did that weekend.
They returned home a few minutes before noon and by then Lorraine was so exhausted she went into the small study on the first floor to rest for a while. This seemed to be the pattern. She would get up, function fairly well, and then an hour or two later, she would rest for about two hours. She didn't seem able to focus on TV or music. Books couldn’t keep her occupied either. The only comfort she found, so she claimed, was when someone read excerpts from Dickens to her right before she went to bed at night.