Sunday, January 31, 2010

Podcast 4: After We Watch The History Boys in Class My Students Fear I Want to Fondle Them

Welcome to my forth poetry podcast! Thank you to everyone who has listened, commented, and sent me messages about these podcasts. I've been pleased with the project so far. 

This week's poem is entitled "After We Watch The History Boys in Class My Students Fear I Want to Fondle Them." Yes, I like long titles. As most of you know, I teach college English and I have for almost five years now (three of them while I was getting my MFA). My students often provide me with great ideas and topics for poems and this is a perfect example. In July I showed my students the film The History Boys. I had a class of about 96 students and 95% of them were male. I have honestly never seen a room so uncomfortable in my life. This got me thinking about sexuality, molestation, and the silliness of 18-year-old males. I am always very open in the classroom, so my students quickly know I am gay and this provides various interesting and humorous moments, which this poem attempts to showcase.

I hope you enjoy the social commentary and humor.

Listen: Here

-Stephen (Fondler) 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tips for Survival on a Gay Cruise

This will be my second and last cruise post, I promise. Since my first post was more emotional and "heavy," I thought I would do a more humorous piece on what I've learned from going on two Atlantis cruises. Enjoy.

1. If you are going to do drugs make a chart. I don't actually do drugs and surprisingly, I never have. I drink plenty, which one man tried to tell me is much, much worse for you than the drugs he was taking, but his bizarre behavior all week did not convince me. Anyway, when I went into another guy's cabin, which he shared with three other men, I noticed his mirror was covered in writing. There were names and times in black marker. It was like that scene from A Beautiful Mind, only different. He explained if you are going to do drugs you have to be smart about it and keep a chart. He and his friends had outlined the last time they had each taken something, so they wouldn't overdose. I don't condemn or condone drug use by adults, but I say if you are going to do it, a chart sounds like the way to go.

2. Hot tubs are for cruising on a cruise. I love hot tubs. I always have. When Dustin and I went to Las Vegas in July of 2004, I got in a hot tub on the roof of our hotel in 100 degree weather, so a hot tub on a cruise ship is nothing. On both cruises, I have ventured into the hot tubs in daylight only to discover that the second you get in someone is bound to follow and make a move on you. On the first cruise, I was fondled by a very scary older man with no teeth and a pot-belly who got in and asked if I had a boyfriend. I immediately said yes. He thought this meant he could stick his foot up my swimsuit and into my crotch. I am normally extremely nice to the gay elderly, but he was just too much and I had to get out and leave. On this cruise I actually got hit on by a much more attractive and younger man who offered me a "hand massage." All I'm saying, is if you like hot tubs you have to put out or get out.

3. If you are in a relationship set your rules before getting on board and stick to them. Gay cruises are full of beautiful men. If you are in a relationship and extremely jealous if your boyfriend even looks at another guy, then this is not for you. When you board one of these ships you will be hit on by someone at some point. If you are in a relationship you need to know how to handle the situation. Do you say "hey man, no thanks, got a boyfriend" or do you say "do you like threesomes?" or do you say "where're your room? mine's occupied" or do you say "does that hand massage come with a dick massage"? Setting the rules on land will help, but there might still be some bumps along the way. Be patient with each other. I say, it's a gay cruise, let loose a little, but be smart and still leave with your boyfriend intact.

4. Just take off your shirt. Gay cruises are for many things, but shirts aren't one of them. If you are extremely self-conscious I understand, but I promise you that nearly everyone on that boat will see someone more attractive than them and someone less attractive than them. It is a given. On my most recent trip, I parted with my shirt more than I ever have and I felt good about it. I'm not one to strip down in the local club...oh wait...I have stripped in the local club, but not every weekend. Anyway, a gay cruise is your chance to be free and remember you won't see most of the guys ever again (or at least not until your next cruise).

5. Eat with other people at dinner. Dustin and I aren't good about doing this, but it is our goal for our next one. Dustin is always a little funny about it and prefers to eat with just me. I would agree with him in most cases, but on a gay cruise people are literally so nice and what you think might be an awkward dinner typically ends up being great. Just have a few cocktails first and you will be golden. Dinner is also the least sexual place on the ship, which makes for a chance to actually talk and meet people without (or with less) sexual expectations.

6. Actually go see the shows and performers. I know many people go on these cruises for the parties alone, and I understand, the parties are great, but so is all the other entertainment. Atlantis has done a great job of providing a place for many talented singers, comedians, and drag performers. Take some of your time and go see them, enjoy them, and even go up and talk to them. You are on a boat, which means they are trapped with you after they perform. It's nice to stop someone in the hall later and tell them how much you loved their show. It's all part of the experience.

7. And lastly, forget about everything outside the boat. The great thing about cruises is that they are isolating. Your cell phone doesn't work. You don't have a computer. You are just there with the person you came with and tons of other men. Enjoy that experience. Yes, I enjoy aspects of technology, but I also believe technology is ruining many of the ways we connect with each other. Think of it as a refresher on how to communicate without a device. Also, don't let the worries on land bother you for those seven days. Just sink into your gay world and enjoy the eye candy and whatever else you can find.

-Stephen (Gay Travel Guide to the Stars)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Floating Brotherhood

I was never in a frat. I was never on a sports team. I was a Cub Scout, but at the final ceremony I opted not to join the other boys in becoming Boy Scouts. I had friends, but they were always a good mixture of girls and straight, nerdy boys. I've never truly been a part of an all-male club or experience. I have never felt that true brotherhood feeling I've read about and seen in the movies. I chalked this up to my midwest upbringing and the fact that I hid my sexuality until I turned 20. I never felt comfortable as a young kid in the company of all boys. I knew I was different somehow and deep down I was afraid of exposing just how different.

I bring this all up in the context of my recent vacation. On Sunday I returned from my second Atlantis Cruise. To give you some background, Atlantis is a gay travel company that rents out some of the best ships in the world and creates an all gay cruise experience. Atlantis caters to gay men (there were only 31 women on board for our most recent one). The company completely takes over the ship. They provide tons of gay specific entertainment (drag queens, comedians, cabaret singers) and change many of the rules on the ship (like eating times and how late bars and pools are open). Basically, we do can do what we like when we like. Every night is an amazing themed party (Lost Island, 90s Divas, 80s, White Party, etc.) and many days include themed T-Dances (Dog Tag, Disco, Beach). It is completely and totally gay. Dustin and I went on our first Atlantis trip in March of 2008 and absolutely loved it. Last week's trip was no different.

When I returned home from my first gay cruise in 2008 I fell into a depression. I cried on the way home and really felt horrible for weeks. I was blown away by my response to the trip and really tried to figure out what I was feeling. At the time I was in my last semester of my MFA at Florida State University. Dustin and I had been living in Tallahassee, FL for nearly three years and were both ready to move. We didn't have many friends and we felt very disconnected from the odd gay community in Tallahassee (it's small, slightly conservative, and religious). I thought, at the time, most of my feelings from the gay cruise were related to me wanting to move to a more gay friendly area. I channeled my energy into moving out of Tallahassee and in May 0f 2008 we moved to Orlando, a much more gay friendly city. As you know, from my various other posts, I've found a gay community here in Orlando that I enjoy and feel a part of for the very first time, which is why I was surprised to discover the same horrible depressed feeling come over me as I returned from my latest gay cruise on Sunday.

I've been fighting off tears for nearly three days now and trying to put into words everything I'm feeling. This is what brings me back to brotherhood. The experience on a gay cruise is so different from anything else out there. For seven days I was almost entirely surrounded by gay men. Believe it or not, there's a fantastic range of men on these cruises. You have the beautiful, perfect bodied gays, which I just stared at in awe. You have the queeny guys (which are sometimes quite muscled themselves). You have younger guys, middle aged guys, and older guys. You have guys that look like some midwest dad in his polo shirt and plaid shorts. You have couples (open and not). You have average, everyday guys. You have bears. You have leather daddies. You have sex-crazed twinks. You truly have it all. And for one week we are all together and we all get along.

I know many people say negative things about how petty or shallow the gay male community can be and there is the stereotype of us having a lot of attitude (thank you, mass media), but on these ships everyone drops the attitude and comes together in a way I've never seen before. People are friendly and open. They are so excited to be there and to have this experience that nothing else matters.

When you are on one of these ships you feel a part of something. You feel proud and happy to be a gay man. You see all this variety, creativity, and sexiness before you that you can't help but love every second of it.

As a gay person, you go through life fighting. Fighting yourself. Fighting your family. Fighting your friends. Your country. Your lawmakers. Just by being you, you are a target. We hear hateful things on the TV or radio or internet everyday about how wrong we are to want equal rights or how perverted we are. But on that ship, nothing matters but the moment. We are there. We are dancing. We are drinking. We are eating. We are laughing. We are having sex. It is the most freeing experience I've had. The thing is, it all happens so fast and you get so caught up in it that when it's suddenly over it's like you've been slapped in the face.

Since Dustin and I live in Orlando and we docked in Miami, we drove to the cruise. On Sunday we had to drive home. We got part way and stopped at one of the service stations on the Florida Turnpike and went in to get coffee and something to eat and there it was: the real world. Next to us was an older straight couple (clearly tourists) and inside there were young, bitter people working at the cash register. No one was happy. No was one gay. No was shirtless and dancing. I'm sure somewhere in that same rest stop there was a newspaper announcing all the hateful things some politician said about gay people in the last week. This is when the depression set in and it lingers in the air as I write this.

A trip like this isn't just a vacation, it is a glimpse into a gay utopia. It is a place that I feel connected to other men (no, not just sexually, though sex is involved). On that ship I was truly isolated from all the negativity. All I could see were gay men and for that one week those men were wonderful, friendly, and my brothers and even with this depression I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.

-Stephen (Gay Brother)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Podcast 3: Sex Education

Tomorrow I set sail on a 7 day gay cruise with Dustin. This will be our second gay cruise and we absolutely can't wait. This means I will not be blogging for the next 7+ days. I'm actually looking forward to a week with no internet, no cell phones, nothing, but my boyfriend and 3700 other gay men. I will, of course, write all about it when I return. 

In an attempt to keep up with my new year goals, I am posting my third podcast just a little shy of Sunday. This will be my last post until I return. 

In this third podcast, I am reading my poem "Sex Education." I wrote this poem during my last graduate poetry workshop in the Spring of 2008. In many ways this was a breakthrough poem for me. It was longer than almost any poem I had written prior and it weaved together various events under one overarching idea or concept. It also feels fitting to post after my "atheist post," because it mentions my Quaker upbringing. It still remains one of my favorite poems that I've written and I hope you will enjoy listening to it. 

Podcast 3: Listen Here

-Stephen (Seaman) 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Coming Out Again

On NPR this morning, they discussed a recent survey about race in America. The survey included a question about what kind of person you would least like to see marry into your family. The answer? An atheist. This was good news on the race front, but still slightly troubling.

I am an atheist.

Yes, you read it correctly and I am discovering, more and more, how hated atheists are. Like with sexuality, you often have to "come out" as an atheist, because no one will readily assume you are one. Many people seem to not grasp this concept. I only have to come out as gay, because the world assumes everyone is straight. The same goes for being atheist. Everyone assumes you are either religious in some capacity or at least believe in God. Being gay and being atheist have a lot of similarities. Why do people assume everyone is straight and religious? Because being gay and being atheist is seen as horrible, evil, and nothing you would ever want to assume about someone else. In reality, is it all based in fear.  Gay people scare many straight people because we go against a norm. It is the old saying: people hate what they don't understand. The same with being atheist. People fear those who do not believe in a higher power and assume something is terribly wrong with us. 

I haven't always been an atheist. I wasn't raised that way. I actually attended church almost every Sunday of my life from birth until I turned 19. My first 11 years were spent in a Quaker church (or meeting house). For this I am forever grateful. I have great respect for Quakers and for many of the values they instilled in me. They are open-minded and believe in individual worship and connection with God. They were also one of the first sects of Christianity that embraced gays. Those 11 years had a profound influence on me. This was an influence I didn't even fully acknowledge or realize until my 20s. 

From there my family began attending a First Christian Church. This is where I spent my teenage years. Again, I gained much from this experience. The church was very open and my middle school youth group, which was led by our two pastors (a married couple), spent an entire year exploring and learning about all the other religions of the world. Amazing, right? Christianity acknowledging other religions and showing how similar they are, it doesn't seem possible, but it happened. There I learned a great deal and enjoyed exploring other faiths. Amongst the good, there was also some bad. I felt a bit confused by this shift from a Quaker meeting house to a church that had communion, baptisms, and decorations. Quakers do not believe in symbols or ornamentation. You are not baptized and you never take communion. These were hard switches and ones that troubled me. As time went I on, I often refused to take communion because it didn't make any sense to me and still doesn't. 

When I turned 18, I headed off to college. I went to a small liberal arts college in Southern Indiana. While there, I found a methodist church to attend. It was a small country church with an extremely passionate female pastor. I was moved by her devotion and the casualness of the service. I got myself up almost every Sunday through my freshmen year of college to get on a bus and go to church. This doesn't sound much like an atheist, does it? One Sunday my parents were visiting and we went to the church I had been attending. After the service the pastor, with tears in her eyes (she cried a lot), stopped my mother and told her, "your son loving and knowing Jesus Christ is the greatest gift in the world." A few months later I would wonder, can you get a refund for that gift? 

Shortly after my freshmen year, something snapped. I can't fully place my finger on it, but the more I studied, the more I read, the more I met other people, I realized how deeply troubled I was about religion. This also coincided with my struggle with my own sexuality, but I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I am not an atheist because I am gay. Believe me, I live in the South where most gays are actually religious (strange, I know). These two things happened close together because I was suddenly opening myself up to the possibility of being my own person. 

I didn't immediately call myself an atheist, but I did stop attending church. It just didn't feel right anymore and I felt by going I was dishonoring those who actually do believe. From there I studied more and more. I learned about history. I took a theology class. I took philosophy. I took art history. I took tons of literature classes. And with time it became so obvious: God is a story that some people need to believe in to go on with life. All the religions of the world have been used to explain the unexplainable and to make people feel better about their lots in life. Is that so bad? No, not necessarily. We all have to find ways of coping, but religion doesn't stop there. Religion, above anything else, has been used to control, manipulate, and destroy. Nearly every war or conflict in the history of mankind can be attached to some form of religious dispute. Is that so bad? Yes, very much so. I won't get into all the specifics of why I don't or can't believe in God (it would take up a lot of this blog if I did), but my beliefs are firmly rooted in an understanding of the world and of history and how many religions came into being. 

At 27, I'm comfortable with where I am in my beliefs. I understand some people's need for a God or for religion and I respect the good things that can come from that. But, I'm increasingly alarmed by the hate and destruction around the world based on some myth and story. I respect people's choices to believe in something, but not to harm people in the name of it. I will admit, I do sometimes get that confused look on my face when I meet someone who is extremely well-educated and is still religious. I'm not saying this to sound snobbish or elitist, but most studies show the more educated you are, the more likely you are to not believe in God or organized religion. I think there is something to that. 

My other big issue with religion, particularly Christianity, is that it's based in the idea that I am not good enough on my own and that there is something evil in me that I need to be forgiven for. This doesn't seem like a good way to go through life. I believe in myself. I believe in being good to people. I believe in loving each other and respecting each other. This is what confuses me by the hatred toward atheists. We are somehow seen as bad people because we don't have some book or priest or man in the sky telling us how to live our lives. I am the person I want to be and I try every day to be proud of myself and my actions. Do I always succeed? No, but that is life. I love my partner, my family, and my friends. You don't need religion to be a good person, or if a good person means attacking gay people, starting wars, or blowing up airplanes, than I want no part of it. 

My family is still religious. They still attend church and firmly believe in God and that is okay. I am thankful for the various experiences my parents gave me as a young boy and I cherish them, but now I am my own man. I am an atheist and I'm proud of it.  

-Stephen (the Gay Atheist) 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Podcast 2: September 21, 1991

Welcome to my second podcast! I have decided to make Sundays podcast days on my blog. I posted my first last week, which included me reading my poem "The Man in the Bar Says I Have a Michael Jackson Voice." If you missed it, please check it out in the archives. I will do my best to post some poetry related podcast every Sunday.

For my second reading, I selected a new poem entitled "September 21, 1991." This poem is part of a new series I am working on about the gay porn star Nickolay Petrov. I currently have ten poems in the series and have about four or five more to write. I am hoping to create a chapbook out of the poems. Why write about Nickolay? Well, he is currently serving 20 years in prison for attacking an elderly couple who owed another man money. He was hired to "scare" them and was considering killing the couple for $10,000 when he was arrested in 2008. I got fascinated by the case and the situation and decided last summer to write to him in prison. From there I've created a series of poems that explore sexuality, prison, porn, exploitation, and violence.

This particular poem deals with Armenia where Nickolay was born and weaves his life with pieces of my own. To listen just click the link below. 

Podcast 2: Listen Here

-Stephen (Innocent No Longer) 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Now Available: Ganymede Issue 6

I'm proud to announce that Ganymede #6 is currently available for purchase. Ganymede is a gay men's literary magazine out of New York City. The issue includes my poems "To the Stranger in My Bed on Easter Morning" and "What the Critics Will Say About My Poetry." These poems were also included in Ganymede Poets, One, which was an anthology created by the magazine. 

This issue also includes work by David Sedaris, one of my all time favorite gay writers. I'm honored to be in the same publication as him. There are also some fine poems by my friend Bryan Borland. Help support me, independent magazines, the gay community, and poetry in general and buy a copy! All the information you need is below:

GANYMEDE #6 issue now out
6x9² perfect bound paperback book, 272 pages

--DAVID SEDARIS on loving his man
--British gay author DENTON WELCH (1915-1948), enjoying a big cult following in the UK, returns to America thanks to Ganymede: SIX sample stories over three issues!
--The Dirt on the Duchess: From Charles Higham's new memoir, learn what Chinese vaginal technique the Duchess of Windsor used to cure her man's impotence. Who needs the throne of England when your wife makes you cum?
--EDMUND WHITE¹s new memoir ³City Boy² and other book and film reviews
--MY DIVA: six gay authors on the great divas they love
--a rare homo-erotic mystery story by ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
--14 gay poets, 5 gay story writers, gay photographers and artists

POETRY by Edward Field, Walter Holland, Steven Cordova, Gregg Shapiro, R. Nemo Hill, Stephen S. Mills, Brandon Lacy Campos, Jeff Mann, Lee Houck, Eric Norris, Bryan Borland, Christopher S. Soden, Sergio Ortiz, Mark Milazzo
FICTION by Denton Welch, Charlie Vásquez, Cyrus Cassells, Wayne Hoffman, Eric Karl Anderson, Andrew J. Peters
ART PORTFOLIO: Today¹s Painters of the Male Form PHOTO PORTFOLIOS: Yannis Angel, Kent Mercurio, Jannis Tsipoulanis, Eric Phillips, Lars Stephan

Details and readable sample pages:

Purchase (print or download):

Ganymede is on facebook...become a fan!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'll Take My Clothes Off and It Will Be Shameless 'Cuz Everyone Knows That's How You Get Famous: Thoughts on Attractiveness

Warning: There is no way to write this blog post without some of you out there thinking I'm a narcissistic, crazy gay person (and you know what? maybe I am), so I'm not even going to try. But you've been warned. 

At 27, I've come to realize that I'm more attractive than I ever expected to be. Attractiveness is all relative. I'm not saying I'm the hottest thing around, but that I never thought I would get to whatever level you currently find me (this is the part that is meant to convince you I'm not being narcissistic or crazy).  

I was a cute little kid, but at age 10 things started going downhill and they continued that way until I turned 20. At 10, my blond hair started to darken and become red and then suddenly I was the red-haired kid with freckles and nobody wants to be the red-haired kid with freckles. In my early teens, I had a great hatred for my hair color and pale skin. There are hardly any attractive male models, actors, or singers who have red hair. We are the devil's children. I wasn't like any of the cute boys that paraded around with dark hair and tanned arms. I was awkward. I also have really large ears, which many kids seemed to think I didn't know, because they would tell me daily and refer to me as "Dumbo." From age 12 to 14 I had braces, which only added to the fun. By the end of high school and into college, I had found a group of people I fit into and was having a fine time, yet I never truly felt attractive. I had "cute" days, but those were followed by feelings of complete grossness.  

At 20, this changed. I can remember the very first time I noticed the change. I had just returned from Europe after spending two months in England and Ireland. I was a little tan. My red hair had some blond highlights and I was wearing it different. I had also bought new clothes in Europe that felt more me. Oh, and I had just come out of the closet. Yes, I didn't come out until I was 20. This might shock some of you because of how open and frank I am about sex and gayness now, but it's true. I came out to my entire family and friends in the spring of 2003 and then got on a plane and took off to Europe. I returned feeling like myself for the very first time in my life. 

It has only been recently that I've put this all together. Am I really more attractive today than other times in my life? Perhaps, a little, but that might have more to do with fashion and haircuts than my physical body. What changed was my inside. I never felt attractive because inside I always felt something was wrong with me. It wasn't until I let go of all my fears about being gay that I could truly feel sexy. 

They always say attractiveness has everything to do with confidence. If you told that to a 16-year-old Stephen he would have laughed it off, but at 27 I realize how true it is. Does confidence come easy? No, of course not and I still have my weak moments. I'm still like a teenager when a guy thinks I'm cute in the gay club and wants to dance with me, because somewhere inside me the old Stephen is still there thinking, wow, how could this guy think I'm hot? 

Oh and the red-hair? I've realized it's not so bad. In the gay community there are many men very interested in us "ginger" boys. We are exotic, which is something I never expected. With my acceptance of myself, I've become more open. I like my body. I like guys to compliment me. I like guys to flirt with me. But most of all, I like to be able to walk into a room and be myself, flaws and all.

-Stephen (Staring into the Water)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Humpday: A Review

A few months ago, I saw an article in The Advocate about a new film called Humpday. The article was so intriguing that I immediately logged into Netflix and added the film to my queue. A few days ago it arrived in my mailbox and on Sunday I watched it.

Humpday is an indie film, with no big names, and a very interesting premise. It is the story of two 30-something, straight male friends who decide to make a porn film together for a porn fest called Humpday. Now, if I hadn't read the article about it, I would have had my doubts and probably would never have watched it. I might have thought it was going to be offensive or just some crude comedy that is using gay sex for laughs, but Humpday is none of those things. It's actually an in-depth look at male friendship that isn't shown in most mainstream entertainment.

The two main characters, Andrew (Joshua Leonard) and Ben (Mark Duplass), have been friends for years, but their lives have moved in very different directions. Andrew is a wandering artist. He has no clear direction in life, but sees himself as very bohemian. Ben is more middle of the road. He is married, owns a house, has a desk job, and is preparing to have kids. The story is kick started by Andrew appearing on Ben's doorstep in the middle of the night. Immediately, their relationship is established and their differences apparent. Andrew has just returned from Mexico and claims he's going to be looking into some grants to finish up some art projects (it is later revealed he has never completed an art project in his life). In the background of all this is Ben's wife, Anna (Alycia Delmore). She doesn't know Andrew very well, but loves Ben and is willing to go along with him staying at their place for the weekend. 

So how do we get from this to making porn? Well, pretty easily and pretty quickly. Andrew meets up with some artists and Ben and him end up spending a wild night with a group of free-thinking creatives who are all making films for an upcoming porn film fest called Humpday. After various drinks and some weed, Ben and Andrew come up with the idea of making a film for the festival of the two of them having sex or "boning" as they like to call it. They believe this will be a great art piece because they are two actual straight males and it will be something different (yes, I know you gays boys are thinking but 70% of gay porn sites claim the guys are straight, but we all know, or should know, 99% of the time they are lying to us). 

In the morning and sober, both are unwilling to back down from the idea, but at first it seems based on male competitiveness and their own views of each other. No one wants to be the one to say I can't or won't do it. Andrew thinks Ben is too square to actually go through with it and Ben tries to make Andrew realize he's not as free-thinking and bohemian as he might like to think. In the end, they decide to do it. There are various other hurdles (Anna, the wife of Ben, for one), but they do make it the hotel room, camera in hand. 

I won't fully give away the ending of the film, because I encourage you to see it, but I will say I was pleasantly surprised and moved by this film. It's very indie. It has a little bit of the shaky filming that is popular in the genre, but it works here (I often find it annoying in other films). The acting is extremely natural and very well done. Much relies on dialogue in this film. The main three characters (Andrew, Ben, and Anna) all have moments of great discovery and insight through their conversations. 

At the heart of this film is not a joke about porn or gay people, but rather a real statement about men and how they relate to each other. It also touches on the notion that we aren't always the people we envision ourselves to be or hope ourselves to be. Andrew isn't fully the artist and liberal thinker he wishes to be, though he plays the part and wears the clothes. Ben is unsure about the vision he is making of himself as a husband and family man and longs to do something wild and crazy. Male friendship is often not shown with much depth in film and television (don't even get me started on the bromance films). Humpday takes us on an unconventional journey that might sound slightly unbelievable, but might be one of the most believable films I've seen in a long time. 

Towards the end of the film, there is a great line about how they could have done anything together, so why did they pick making a porn? And one of them says "because this scares us more than anything else we could have done." The film questions that built-in homophobia many straight men have, but not in an annoying or reaffirming homophobic kind of way. Instead, it highlights this fear of intimacy straight men can have with each other, but does this by showing true male intimacy.  

-Stephen (Humping)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Podcast 1: The Man in the Bar Says I Have a Michael Jackson Voice

Welcome to my very first poetry podcast! This will become a new feature on my blog. It was one of my goals for the new year and it is only January 3rd and I've already made my first recording. Each podcast will include me reading just one of my poems. This is a way for me to share work with a wider audience and still have that work eligible for publication elsewhere.

At its root, poetry is an oral tradition. When writing new work, I constantly read it aloud to myself and when I read other poets' work I also read it aloud. I'm a firm believer in poetry that works both on the page and orally.

This first podcast is me reading a poem entitled "The Man in the Bar Says I Have a Michael Jackson Voice." I chose this poem as my first podcast for a very particular reason. I've had a hatred for my own voice from the time I can remember and I've always hated hearing myself on recordings, which makes this podcast project challenging for me. As I've gotten older, I have moved toward accepting my voice as it is. This poem, in part, is about that very feeling. It's based, as most of my work is, on an actual event. After Michael Jackson died I was in a bar and a man told me that I have a Michael Jackson voice. This poem is also a great example of a "Stephen poem." It could also be classified as a "celebrity poem," but as any good pop culture poem should do, it moves beyond the pop reference and into something more.

I would like to thank my job that I often complain about, because I wouldn't know how to make podcasts if I hadn't been forced to learn for work. I had some trouble getting it posted on blogger. Blogger doesn't support podcasts, which means I had to host it on a different site and link it here. To listen to my podcast just click the link below or click the title of this post. I hope you enjoy it!

Podcast 1: Listen Here.

-Stephen (Male Narrator)

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: The Year I Will...

I'm not one for making resolutions. I've never really liked the concept, because behind it there seems to be the nagging idea that you won't actually keep any of these resolutions. It's part of the whole process: Make resolutions on January 1st and break them by February or March. Therefore, this blog post is not resolutions (I'm not silly enough to say I'm going to work out more or drink less), but this post is goals or promises to myself that I will keep. I'm putting them in writing here to help ensure that I will do them or at least do everything in my power to attempt to make them happen.

-Finish my Edmon sequence of poems. This is a project I began in the Summer of 2009 and have been continuing to work on. I have nine poems so far in the sequence and about three or four more that I want to write to complete it.

-Read more. In the last year I have read less than many previous years. This was, in part, due to having a full time job, but also because I devoted a good portion of my free time to writing. By the end of 2010 I want to have read more than I did in 2009. I'm purposely not setting a number.

-Keep up with my writing. In 2009 I set aside at least one morning of my weekend to write poetry (normally Sundays). I want to keep this schedule up and stay as prolific as I was in 2009.

-Write more blog posts! I know I did very well in December. This was because I did the top 10 lists, which were easy to come up with topics for, but took rather long to write. My goal for 2010 is to write at least two blog posts a week. I've enjoyed having this blog, because it pushes me to write prose and will keep it up.

-Make podcasts of some of my poems. I have been wanting to do this for awhile and 2010 will be the year I will. This is something I would post on my blog and it would be either just audio or a video of me reading one of my poems. I think this is a great way to share work without having to actually publish the poem on my blog.

-Pay down credit cards. I only have two and they were used mostly for the six months in 2008 that I was unemployed. I haven't gotten them paid down too much and I know I need to, especially because Dustin and I would like to move out of Orlando sometime in the near future.

-Publish more. 2009 was my best publishing year ever and I hope 2010 will beat it. On top of getting individual poems published, I would love to get a chapbook or my full length manuscript accepted for publication.

For now these are my goals and I'll keep you posted, right here on this blog, if I meet them. I'm looking forward to this new year and the start of a new decade. I already know the beginning will be amazing. Dustin and I leave on a 7 day gay cruise in just two weeks and I have work forthcoming in about three or four journals that should be publishing in the first month or two of 2010.

Here's to a new year and to keeping promises!

-Stephen (2010 Welcome Wagon)