felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
As usual, poking my head up for a rare update.

The death of Jack has been the big unhappy event lately. I didn't know him well - I had the pleasure of working with him a handful of times briefly, and I really admired his work.

Jack Layton really was as nice in real life as he was on camera. He only saw me a handful of times across the years, but - in spite of the thousands he met - he always remembered me, and remembered I was bad with crowds. Four months before he was dead, he was checking up on me. Funny, isn't it?

They used to say that Robert Stanfield was the best prime minister Canada never had. That title's been officially ceded.

Other than that, my own life has been going quite well. I increased my writing input, and I'm prepping myself mentally for a massive send-out to pretty much any Canadian publishing house I think might accept. That'll likely happen in October.

I've had a social life lately, too. Most recently at [profile] jenjoou's wonderful party on Saturday.

A lot of friends have been going through bad times, but because my own life's been going well I think I've been able to be there for most of them.

Anyway, for today's review, The King Must Die by Mary Renault.

Review continues, with some spoilers )
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Pardoner)
Well, after a six-month hiatus, I have finally updated my historical blog. In my defence, I had to research the history of golf in Canada for background. It was painful.

(It will surprise no one that lesbians have been golfing since the 19th century at least, I'm sure. One day they'll unearth a whole other cave-painting complex at Lascaux that's nothing but portraits of lesbian golfers.)

One nice detail is that my website was quoted and referenced in a print book: How To Make Love in a Canoe: Sex in Canada. I've been in contact with the author Jeff Pearce, so I knew it was probably coming, but I got my advance copy the other day. He used my theory that James Barry could have been trans, as well as my reviews of the really bad lit around Barry.

It's only a page and a half, but I was pretty stoked. Along with the attention from mainstream historians and the praising e-mails, it does make me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile with my life :)

Other that that, I'm doing a minimum of thirteen pages a day of editing on the novel. It feels ready, and I'm proud of that, too.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I finished watching jPod this week, the Douglas Coupland's TV adaptation of his own book about a team of freakish genius video-game programmers assigned to the same team by computer error because their last names all started with "J." The show also focuses much more than the book on Ethan Jarlewski's freakish family, who are essentially the Brady Bunch as written by Quentin Tarantino.

Nine-tenths of the series is perfect dark comedy. The acting is excellent and breathes a lot of life into characters that were already excellent (though a little icy). And CBC censors nothing except brand names, so it's pretty astonishing what they can get away with.

There were flaws, though.

Yes, I'm complaining about homophobia again. And I'll keep complaining about it until it goes away. )

Also, I've finally updated my historical blog - only five months late! This one is about Roswell George Mills, the first openly gay man we know of in Canada (in the 1910s).
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I've made another post to my LGBT historical blog.

In this entry: Sappho versus Cthulu!.

Okay. So not really. Actually I devote about four paragraphs to the bitter rivalry between H.P. Lovecraft and Elsa "Sappho" Gidlow over morals, aesthetics, and control of an amateur journalist's association.

But you have to admit, Sappho versus Cthulu! is the kind of thing that piques people's interest. I feel fairly confident that at least half of you would go to see a movie entitled Sappho versus Cthulu!

Besides, it does answer that age-old question, "Who will be eaten first?" Given Lovecraft's hatred for Gidlow, I suspect he would've put her at the top of Cthulu's to-chew list.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So it's Remembrance Day - a day to remember all the naive kids who went off to the meat-grinder of two World Wars, without any real idea what they were getting into.

In the US, it's a shopping holiday. In Canada, it's a solemn event. We wear poppies and gather at cenotaphs to remember the dead, and talk about trenches and No Man's Land fenced off with barbed wire, and a generation of kids whose fathers didn't come home. Increasingly we talk about the things in World War II that can't be forgotten either - Nazism and the Holocaust first and foremost.

True remembrance can only serve the cause of peace. Maybe that's why this country was so committed in those two wars, and so reluctant since to go to war - maybe this yearly ceremony is part of that reluctance.

This year I'm thinking especially of the gay veterans never compensated for what they went through, in two World Wars. I hope the apology I proposed goes somewhere, but it seems every reporter wants to talk to a World War II vet over this, and it's too late for most of the victims in that war.

The apology should still come, though, while there's still a few around to hear it.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
At long last, I have the first of my sections on early gay poets on my blog. This is the first of a few articles, and deals with two poets who might have been gay. There won't be any might in the next article, which'll deal with Elsa Gidlow.

Wow, I'm a real post-bunny this week. Three posts in three days. I'm still not on speaking terms with FaceBook, however.

I'm learning a lot about formating cover letters and manuscripts - I bought a book on the subject put out by editors and publishers on what they want to see and not see. A lot of the information seems slanted toward working through an agent and houses that only accept solicited manuscripts, but I think it's adaptable.

But my chosen publishing house also wants a "marketing analysis," presumably how to sell it. None of my references are any help. I might just ask the salespeople at work.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
The Tori concert was wonderful on Tuesday. Mostly new stuff -- the new album sounds really interesting -- and it was made quite beautiful by some interesting light shows. The only element that made it less-than-perfect was the lack of [livejournal.com profile] em_fish. You would've loved it my dear -- and thanks again for the tickets.

Actually, there was another element in the beginning. I was seated behind a man who must've been close to seven feet. However, he was so offended by the gay couple kissing in the seats in front of him that he complained -- and when nothing was done, stormed off. Imagine, a gay couple at a Tori Amos concert! Next thing you know, Madonna and Barbara Streisand will have gay fans, and then the last barriers shall truly be broken!

But thanks to his jackassery, I was able to see the rest of the concert.

In utterly other news, it's odd when one's totally unrelated geekdoms collide. I'm researching an obscure Canadian literary journal called Les Mouches Fantastiques, published by gay journalist Roswell George Mills and lesbian poet Elsa Gidlow. It was a collection of avant-garde poetry, arguments for gay liberation, and anti-war essays from the First World War. Only one copy of one issue is known to still exist, and I'm going to read it sometime this month.

However, they sent off copies to the United Amateur Journalists' Association when it was first printed, and one young writer at the association reviewed it -- the only review I can find of it. I've ordered a copy of that review. It's by a man named Howard Phillips Lovecraft, who was not yet the most famous science-fiction writer of his generation. I'm very curious to see what he has to say, but he was so conservative I'm sure it's nothing but bad things.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Also, I've updated my historical blog, about the disappearance of the Two-Spirit traditions in Canada.

An important subject, but a multi-tiered minefield to walk through. For starters, I'm a white guy writing about Native history.

Then there's the issue of gender variance and sexual orientation. The post-1950s West sees these as very different things, but we're pretty much the only time and place that did, and so in all the literature there's snarking between people who claim the historical Two-Spirit identity for trans history, and those who claim it for gay history.

Given that no one from the early 19th century and before is around to interview in depth, I've hedged my bets and not tried to make any positive declarations.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
This week, the bill I proposed about LGBT veterans was profiled in both Xtra and Slap Upside the Head.

Hopefully this remains an issue. Maybe after the dark days are over -- after somebody throws Harper's ring into Mount Doom or something, and we get a prime minister who isn't a national embarrassment -- these veterans can actually get the compensation they deserve.

I did a quick update on my historical site about it here.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Today is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which is the touchstone moment of the gay movement in the United States. Celebrations are planned all over Canada.

Don't get me wrong. It's worthy of commemoration. But yesterday, another anniversary passed that no one's talking about -- the 40th anniversary of the day the omnibus bill was made a law, making homosexuality legal in Canada.

It was the result of tireless efforts on the part of our activists, starting with Jim Egan. Egan became Canada's first gay activist in 1949, and our only one until 1961. He tried constantly to get others to campaign with him, but they wouldn't. They were too scared.

And they had a reason to be. Penalties were actually getting harsher. As late as 1964, a man named George Klippert was sentenced to prison for the rest of his natural life -- as opposed to a "life" sentence of 25 years -- as a "dangerous offender," because he'd had consensual sex with several men.

Egan retired from activism in 1961 -- his partner begged him to, because of the death threats. By then, he'd opened up enough of a space for the first activist organizations -- starting with Vancouver's Association for Social Knowledge. Activists from ASK and the groups that followed risked their jobs, their families, even their lives to fight an unjust law.

And they're the reason homosexuality was legalized between consenting adults in Canada on June 27, 1969.

So please, take a moment to remember the activists who fought for our freedom. Stonewall was a great event, but it was not the beginning of our movement in Canada, and saying so does a great disservice to everyone who risked so much so that we'd have the right to live our lives without fear.

(cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] queer_mtl)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy Midsummer/Litha to those who celebrate it!

I've lived like a hermit for much of the last week, which I think I needed. I'm about one-third through the a revision of what looks to be a complete second novel, but other than that and work, I've had a lazy week.

I am quite proud of this, though. That resolution was my idea. [livejournal.com profile] montrealais encouraged me to draft a resolution, which he helped edit and presented. He also brought it to MP Peter Stoffer's attention.

Parliament's out so I'll have to wait until after summer to see where it goes from here. It's highly unlikely that it'll pass -- private members' bills rarely do, and even in a minority government, the Opposition parties can't force the government to act on a bill that involves spending money.

Still, it's a thrill that something I wrote is going to be debated in government. And maybe it'll start the ball rolling on a debate that'll end in a real action. It'll probably have to wait until we have a prime minister who's not evil, though.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I haven't been on LJ much this week. I've been generally avoiding the internet this week, as I do a few times a year. I'll be going back to read.

I haven't been completely unproductive, lately. After five months hiatus, I've got a new post on my historical website. This one is about how homophobia fed anti-Chinese sentiment in Canada in the 19th century.

The racists in Victorian found that claiming that the Chinese were inclined toward homosexuality a useful tactic to whipping the government into a panic.

While rereading a passage in one of the travel narratives about China I read ages ago for an earlier post, I noticed again an oddity -- the word "gay" was used in a way that seems to mean "homosexual," in an English text dating to 1732. Most dictionaries say that the word wasn't used that way until 200 years later.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I finished John Ralston Saul A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada last night. It's a brilliant book, although with a lot of tangents that don't seem to quite fit -- Saul is a little like that brilliant professor who tends to ramble off down brilliant side roads and forget what he's lecturing on.

But still, all Canadian progressives need to read this book. His basic argument:
Cut for length )

Saul said in an interview that Canadians who read this book say he put into words something they'd always felt but could never put into words. I concur.

The most interesting criticism is that people have accused him of romanticizing or misrepresenting First Nations people, or of oversimplifying the relationship between them and Europeans. Interestingly, none of these responses seem to be coming from First Nations people, and he's leaned heavily on their own words over four centuries for his arguments.

There are problems here, though. Saul is a little too much a booster of capitalism for this socialist to handle. I thought he'd given up on that after The Collapse of Globalism. Interestingly the book was finished just a little before the credit collapse, and I notice he's downplaying these elements in his interviews.

I also wonder what's up with him and gay people. He only seems to mention us dismissively in passing, whereas he has no problem championing other marginalized groups. This in spite of the fact that the relatively easy time we've had in Canada compared to other European countries (no recorded use of capital punishment for the 270 years when it was punishable by death) would seem to support his arguments.

Still, it's a great book, and highly recommended. Saul writes about history and philosophy in plain, easy-to-understand English, so it shouldn't be intimidating for anyone.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I've updated my historical website with something historical for a change. The new article is about homosexuality in the media at the end of the 19th and the turn of the 20th century in Canada.

Individual cases had been mentioned, but this was the first time homosexuality started to get talked about as a "social problem."

Doing this site has been really interesting. I've not only had to dig up LGBT history, but a lot of general Canadian history as well to do a background on these issues. There's so much out there that would be considered vital history to know in any other country, but which isn't even taught in our schools.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
A poem for Remembrance Day:


What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
By gay British poet Wilfred Owen, who was killed while crossing the Sambre-Oise Canal a week almost to the hour before World War I ended. It's my favourite poem about World War I. As a Canadianist, I should probably like "Flander's Fields" more, but I suspect this better captures what was going on in Europe.

Private George Lawrence Price was the last Canadian to die in that war -- the second-to-last soldier of any nationality, two minutes before the ceasefire took effect. He was hunting a German sniper who was moving from house to house. The sniper got him first. So that's a bit of Canadian lore for the day.

Meanwhile, I tried to find out last month if any of the soldiers dishonourably discharged for homosexuality in World War II -- and there were many, according to Paul Jackson's book on the subject -- are still alive. I've been thinking about making this a political issue by bringing it to the NDP convention. These men had their benefits taken away, and had the fact that they were discharged "with ignominy" added to their discharge papers, which any potential employer could ask to see.

I tried to contact Jackson about the subject, but he seems to have no contact info anywhere in cyberspace. Strange for a published author. But just now, I found it -- turns out he's at Concrodia now instead of McGill. I've just sent him an e-mail.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Just thought I'd mention that I've updated my historical website. Today it's about two celebrity trials, one local and one international.

Widdows, in particular, was fun to research. He seems to have been very much a victim at his first trial -- he was the one who go seduced, by the look of it, but his lover confessed and not him. He gets less and less likeable, though, as his story continues.

I really didn't need to mention much about Oscar Wilde, though. Everyone knows his story.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Reading and enjoying the second book of The Dark is Rising series has got me thinking about fantasy lit, and about its weird place in the canon -- as far as English literature courses are concerned, the stuff does not exist.

(Even science-fiction has begun to break through the barrier of "canon," but fantasy has been cast into the outer darkness along with erotica and a few other despised genres.)

This is strange, because the fantasy novel is now almost 250 years old. It can be traced back to a man named Horace Walpole -- son of Britain's famous (or infamous) first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole.

The story of the first fantasy novel )
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I wrote another instalment in my LGBT history blog -- the invention of the "gross indecency" laws.

I've been reading about some pretty horrendous gaybashing in Pink Blood. I think the worst is a 50-year-old school teacher named David Curnick who was stabbed 146 times in Vancouver by a guy he'd picked up.

The guy claimed at his trial that Curnick had molested him as a child until it was established that Curnick couldn't have met the murderer before said murderer was 19 years old at the earliest. The murderer had also previously attacked two trans women.

Claims of having been molested are one of the most common defences in gaybashing, it seems -- so common that I suspect defence lawyers coach their clients on it. Even when it's proven to be impossible in court, the media frequently portrays it as if it happened that way anyway.

It seems gaybashers have also learnt that if they take something during the crime -- say the wallet, or credit cards, or a microwave oven -- they can get their charge downgraded from a hate crime to a robbery if it comes to trial. Even in a case where the basher tossed the victim's microwave oven in a ditch afterwards (the only thing he took) it was called "robbery."


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