Time for Change–Get It Here

I love short films, and thanks to youtube and other sites, these snippets of cinematography are getting more attention these days than ever before.  If you’re interested in more, click on my video box on the right sidebar to find a bunch among all the music vids.

Here is one called “Time for Change” in 3D CGI, which some students from the Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand created.  I find it Sweeney Todd-esque.

Click, and enjoy!

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First-of-a kind Gay Magazine in Arabic Begins Publication

كيف حالك؟

Even when I studied Arabic in the Air Force, reading and writing weren’t my strong suits.  The squiggly lines that represent the letters with dots and other diacritical marks both above and below them are only further complicated by moving from right to left.  Making matters worse is there’s really not much difference in the way words appear in print (like the block form we have in English and other languages that use Roman-style letters) and the cursive (hand-writing) style; however,  in the hand-written form, most of the time, many of the diacritical marks, which help with the pronunciation, and, thus, the meaning and grammar, are omitted, and one is left to guess about the word.  I suppose when it’s your native language, you don’t really have to guess much, but to a non-native, all of the marks, though complicated, are helpful.

Hence, I found myself wishing that more of my Arabic had stayed with me when I read today on afrik.com that a first-of-its-kind gay magazine had started up in Morocco.  It’s called Mithly, which means “gay” in Arabic, which I think I remember, and began with its first issue on April 1st.

That this magazine has begun publication in Morocco is not so surprising, in spite of all the conservative attitudes in the Muslim world about gay people, because Morocco has had a lot of European influence through the years, and there have been rumors for many years that the King of Morocco is gay.

Even so, Morocco is not by any means a liberal country; this new magazine is actually being produced in Spain.  However, the situation has to be much better in this country just across the Straits of Gibraltar from Europe, in comparison to some other Arab countries, like Iraq, where gay people are brutalized and murdered, in spite of the U.S. being in such an influential position there.

There is a pared-down, online version at www.mithly.net.  Click on the translate button in the upper right corner.  Be forewarned, though.  The Google translation will leave you scratching your head in many places.

Good luck to Mithly.  Every effort like this helps more people understand themselves better and know that they are “not the only one.”

Earthwise Electric Lawnmower: So Far, So Good

After a long, unually cool (some may say “cold”) winter here in southeast Texas, spring has sprung with almost a vengance.  Just within the past few days, many of the fruit trees and decorative-type bloomers have popped into full glory.

Some of plants that I had carted into the garage time after time are now starting to show flowers.  Likewise, the grass, and even more so the weeds, in my back and front yards, are putting forth great effort.

My house sits on a 5,000 sq. ft. lot, and with the detached garage, driveway, stamped cement patio, and tiled fountain base (something the previous owners must have liked, but not exactly my style), the actual lawn areas are not that big.  They are also patchy and seem to be a home for moles.  Both the front and back have a comfortable charm to them, and with some work,  I’m pretty sure that I can get them looking better.

Because the lawn areas are not large, I decided to get an electric lawnmower.  I just like the idea of not having to deal with keeping a can of gas around, and also having a mower that puts out smelly exhaust didn’t appeal to me.  I read quite a few online reviews of cordless and corded mowers, and there seemed to be quite a few complaints about batteries with the cordless mowers.  Some reviewers complained about batteries losing charge, and others mentioned that replacement batteries were difficult to come by for the mowers that they had purchased.

After reading more reviews about corded mowers, I decided upon the Earthwise 18-inch corded mower.  They make a 20-inch size too, but I decided that getting between bushes and other small spaces was more important for me than cutting off a couple more inches of grass.

I thought I’d write my own review of the mower and add more later, just to see, as time goes by, whether I made a good choice or not.

I ordered my Earthwise from Sears for $189.99.  I got free shipping, but add the tax and the total was $205.  It’s nearly ready to use straight out of the box.  You basically unfold the handle; it bolts together easily without even needing a wrench.  The side discharge cover easily pops into place.

You will need an outdoor extension cord.  The motor is 12 amps, so you need one to carry that or better.  I had been given a 40-ft. one for Christmas, and though there is an outlet on the back and the front of the house, that cord wasn’t quite long enough.  I bought another 50-ft. cord and now can get to the far corners with plenty of cord to spare.

Of course, all the grass and weeds are tender now, so they are easy to cut, but the mower did a great job of mulching up some small piles of leaves without hesitation.  It weighs 48 pounds, but takes very little effort to push.  There’s a height adjustment lever with various settings that’s easy to change with just one hand.

Probably the biggest concern in buying this mower was the cord.  However, it doesn’t take long to get used to it.  The best idea is to keep moving away from the outlet and the cord.  Holding a couple of feet of slack cord in my hand as I mow also has helped me keep the cord up, and that way there’s less chance of it getting anywhere near the blade.  You do have to pay attention to the cord, but I figure that’s still better than dealing with gas cans or batteries.

So far, I think I’ve made a good choice in this mower.  We’ll see after I’ve used it more if that holds true.

Update (May 30, 2010)

Mower with the flap intact

With the flap partially hacked off

I’ve made one modification to this mower.  I got tired of the rubber flap on the back of the mower dragging into the undercarriage of the mower when I backed up.  It never seemed to get hit by the blade, but it just made pulling the mower backwards more difficult, and I was worried that the blade might cut into it.  Yesterday, I finally was bothered enough that I took the nearest thing I could find–a hedge trimmer–and just whacked it off about halfway down.  No problem backing up any more.

Trip to the Outhouse’s Top Gay People of the Biennium: Matthew, Adam, and Annise

A lot of readers who hit my blog never even take a chance at videos that I’ve got in the Radical Vid Box.  Hey, most of the videos I’ve got in there are music vids; it just happens that the most-viewed are short gay films.  If you happen by my blog, get to know my music too.  You might be surprised.

I know it’s not much of a segue, but I have been wanting to put up a Trip To The Outhouse Top Three Gay People of . . . 2009? 2010? . . . hmm?  No, I guess since I started this blog, which will soon to be about two years ago.  That’s it . . . of the Biennium!

The three people that I put in this category are Matthew Mitcham, the Australian Olympic diver who who a gold medal in the 2008 in Beijing, Adam Lambert, the runner-up in last season’s American Idol, and Annise Parker, Houston’s own new mayor.

I admire all three of them for being successes in their own endeavors and not being afraid to live their lives openly as gay people (in the same way that straight people live their straight lives openly).  Mitcham’s boyfriend, Lachlan Fletcher, was poolside during the Australian’s now famous dive and their story has been covered far and wide.  (Here’s a good one I haven’t linked to before.)   How far Adam Lambert goes is still to be seen, but he’s a good performer, and he doesn’t back down from being who he is.  The video I’ve posted is the best thing I’ve heard from him so far.  As for Annise Parker, the effects of her election to mayor go much further than just our city.

What I really like about all these people is their success counters all the what is said by all the deniers and haters out there who want to put gay people down and somehow give the idea that because of our sexuality, gay people are losers.  But people like Matthew, Adam, and Annise show just how hollow that thinking is and give positive role models to all those young gay kids who desperately need them.

(There are previous posts about all three of these great people on the blog.  Sorry, it’s late and time for bed; let your fingers do the walking.)

For New Year’s Luck: A Quick and Tasty Blackeyed Pea Salad

Ingredients for blackeyed pea salad. How's this for a "still life" in my kitchen? That's one of my Christmas cactuses just starting to bloom.

Especially in the South, people eat blackeyed peas in some form for good luck on New Year’s Day.  My taste for blackeyed peas hasn’t grown all that much over the years; without some kind of disguise, these little brown nubbins taste grey and musky (that’s the best way I can describe it).  They can, however, with the addition of other ingredients, be transformed into a delicious dish.  (I guess you could say these are blackeyed peas “in drag”.)

Nowadays, because of regional and international influence, there’s a wider variety of similar beans/peas that are available on the store shelves.  If you take a chance and try them, you’ll probably find some new additions to your menu.

Here’s an easily-made salad that I put together that perhaps you’ll like.  There’s no guarantee, though, that it will help you achieve your New Year’s luck.

New Year’s Day Blackeyed Pea Salad

Ingredients:

1 can of blackeyed peas drained

1 can of field peas drained

1 crisp apple peeled, cored and roughly chopped

1/2 the juice of one lemon (that it was given to you from a local tree all the better)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 strips very crisply cooked bacon, broken into small pieces

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Salt and pepper

Directions:  Put the chopped apples in a good-sized bowl.  (Save time by using your favorite serving bowl.)  Squeeze the lemon juice over the apple pieces; add in the sugar, and toss together.  Add the drained peas, bacon, and nuts.  Shake on some salt and pepper.  Gently mix and then refrigerate for several hours.

Variations:  Use just blackeyed peas if you like or can’t find field peas.  Add the bacon and nuts right before serving to give the salad more crunch.  Chopped celery might be a good addition too.

Matthew Mitcham’s Skin on Canvass, Now Displayed in the Australian Portrait Gallery

Back in the news again is Matthew Mitcham, not because of his diving feats, but because noted Australian artist Ross Watson has stroked the 2008 Olympic Diving Champion’s likeness onto canvass.  Watson, whose paintings place popular male personages into his take on Italian masterpieces, has painted the image of Mitcham into the backdrop of Venetian painter Ricci’s “Fall of Phaeton”.  The painting is now being exhibited in the Australian National Portrait Gallery.

You can see more Watson pieces of Mitcham and others at his homepage www.rosswatson.com and Watson’s photos of Mitcham, which he used to prepare for the painting.  Check for more on this at advocate.com.

“Hello, Police Department . . . I’ve Been Robbed”

I just saw this article in today’s Wichita Eagle and almost peed on myself from laughing, so I have to share it:

Couple Arrested After Reporting Robbery

WICHITA — A man and woman notified police that robbers had stolen something from them at their Planeview apartment Monday night, and ended up being arrested themselves.

What had been stolen? Marijuana.

The 32-year-old man and 29-year-old woman said five armed men came to their place in the 3800 block of East Ross Parkway at about 9 p.m. and took marijuana. One of the suspects accidentally fired his gun, spooking the rest of the suspects, police said.

They ran from the apartment and fled in a white Cadillac, dropping marijuana as they ran.

More marijuana was found inside the apartment, police said, so the man and woman were booked on suspicion of various drug charges, including selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.