Friday, February 27, 2009

Favorite Albums

Yes, I ganked this idea from dr. morbius, who got it from another girl out there. I've always thought that the music a person listens to can tell you a little about that person. I haven't done it in a while, but one thing I used to like doing when I visited someone's home was to look over their music collection. On that note, I'll give you all the opportunity to look through mine. These are just my favorites, listed in no other order than how I thought of them.

Led Zeppelin - IV (I tried to find a suitably-sized image of the symbols, but it was not to be)
Tori Amos - Boys for Pele
Sheryl Crow
Soundgardern - Superunknown
Loreena McKennitt - The Mask & Mirror
Paul Oakenfold - A Lively Mind
Madonna - Ray of Light
Rage Against the Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles
Sheryl Crow - The Globe Sessions
Aerosmith - Permanent Vacation
Def Leppard - Hysteria
Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Depeche Mode - Songs of Faith and Devotion
Chris Cornell - Euphoria Morning
Jeff Buckley - So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley
Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex OST+
Peter Gabriel - So
The Police - Synchronicity
Metallica - S & M
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
KT Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope
Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation 1814
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms
Sheryl Crow - Wildflower
Linkin Park - Reanimation
Queen - A Kind of Magic
Seal (1994)
Dave Matthews Band - Under the Table and Dreaming
U2 - Rattle and Hum

Law & Order Repeat

For anyone who, like me didn't see last week's episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit all the way through, the episode, "Transitions", will re-air tonight on the USA Network at midnight. That gives me plenty to watch tonight, with the first part of the "Ryloth Trilogy" of Star Wars: Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network, and one of the last episodes of Battlestar Galactica on SciFi. Yeah, this girl is a nerd.

Correction: the SVU episode actually runs on Saturday night.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Story in USA Today

Here I was, leafing through the Life section, hunting for the puzzle page, when I come across this 3/4 page story, "A shadow of regret cast over gender switch". The story is about trans persons who either stop transitioning, or else revert to their original gender after making the change. The story cites the case of Mike Penner, aka Christine Daniels, a writer for the Los Angeles Times, who began to transition, publicly in 2007, then reverted to his male identity in October of last year. The story is a little disturbing, but it's one of the first stories I've read in a mainstream news publication in some time. I made the title above a link to the story, but here's a regular link just in case:

Edit: I want to clarify something I wrote here this morning. I said that the story is a little disturbing, and I'd like to say a little more about that.

I know this life is hard. The article cites a Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins University. Contrary to his opinion, I don't believe anyone "chooses" this life due to some social construct. I am 6' 1" tall. I won't say my weight, but it's over 200 pounds. I could live as a man, if I wanted to, and have no outside difficulties. It's what I've done for most of my adult life. That life would be hollow though, and it has been. When I go out as my true self, I feel as though a burden has been lifted, and the prospect of living that way full time fills me with joy, as much as I have ever known.

It's a little daunting to read that people who are further along than I am stop, or even go back. I read another news story back in the fall:

That was truly disturbing. This person is wealthy beyond counting. He is unhappy in married life, begins hanging out with transwomen, then decides to become one himself. A Middle Eastern man remakes himself into a blonde Western woman, complete with a name change. Her considerable finances grease all the wheels, and she becomes a successful designer. Then, a few years later, she decides to switch back. Now I understand all the qualifiers, the conditions that have been set for whether or not someone transitions.

I don't know about these others, but the only way for me is forward.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

House, 2/23/09

I don't often watch "House", and I missed last night's episode, but I think it's one I would have watched. The episode was titled "The Softer Side", and it featured House treating a teenager diagnosed with genetic mosaicism. I'd heard of this before, but I didn't think it effected humans. A deeper reading of the synopsis describes the teen as having both male and female characteristics. Hmm... IMDb says the episode is set to air on the USA Network Friday, March 6. Set your DVR, or Tivo or whatever.

If anyone's already seen it, I'd appreciate their take on it, House is a cranky fellow, but the medicine on the show is usually handled in a realistic manner, from what I remember.

Monday, February 23, 2009

An Apology

I don't know if this is necessary, but I feel like saying it. I want to apologize for not staying on my supposed topic. I'm pretty sure that no one here cares that my Xbox is on the fritz. I suppose it's just that there isn't a whole lot going on in my life, and I somehow feel compelled to fill the space.

Plus, my friend De told me something last month. I am transgendered. Due to circumstances, I don't live as a woman 24/7, but I don't stop being trans jut because I'm not en femme all the time. So, technically, every little event in my life is part of my trans experience. Okay, that might be pushing it a little.

That's all I've got on this subject.

"Calamity!" said the Oracle.*

I'm pretty sure I mentioned on here before that I play Xbox a lot. I'm not always good at the games I play, but I play mostly to relax, take my mind away from my worldly cares by concentrating on saving the Universe or something. I fired up my machine yesterday morning and found one of the red lights on the front flashing, and when I switched the TV over to the proper input, I got a black screen showing "System Error" in about twenty languages, with the message "E74" at the bottom, along with a note to contact Xbox support.

I've had my 360 a little less than a year, so it's still under warranty. I get to ship it to Microsoft (free of charge) and they'll either fix it or send me a new one. I'm just glad I haven't done anything to customize it, like that fellow last year, who had his case autographed by a bunch of the folks who worked on "Halo 3". When he sent his in for repair, Microsoft sent him a clean case. OOPS! My 360 is bog-standard, so no worries. I hope...

* - refers to one of the NPCs in the "Halo" series.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

NLTO Movie Night

The third Saturday of the month is usually our group Movie Night. A number of us gather at a friend's house in Virginia Beach, and we watch a movie that explores some element of being transgendered. This month's selection was the HBO movie "Normal", with Tom Wilkinson and Jessica Lange. Oftentimes, most of those assembled have seen the movie, but we use these gatherings to share with our friends who haven't seen them. A few of the people we were expecting didn't appear, so those that were left had all seen the movie. We debated what else to watch, when I mentioned the new movie premiering on HBO, "Taking Chance", with Kevin Bacon.

"Taking Chance" is not the least bit trans-themed. It's a beautiful movie, though. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl is a Gulf War veteran. In 2004, his unit was one of several assigned the duty of bringing home the bodies of those who have fallen in Iraq. It is highly unusual for officers to escort enlisted Marines, but Lt. Col. Strobl felt strongly about this one Marine, PFC Chance Phelps, who enlisted in Strobl's hometown in Colorado. The movie is based on an essay Strobl wrote about bringing Chance Phelps home. Here's the HBO site:

I also found the original essay.

Powerful stuff.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Go Fug Yourself

Let's try this again. I started to post this over on the Trans Talk blog. Oops! Sorry, De!

I'll leave out the boring explication this time. Have a look at this blog. You will laugh. Or maybe giggle.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book Review: The Kiss Murder

I posted a few weeks back that I had bought a book entitled The Kiss Murder, by Turkish author Mehmet Murat Somer. I wasn't familiar with the author, but the premise was intriguing, that of a drag queen detective. I was in the middle of reading a fantasy series, Joe Abercrombie's "The First Law", so I set the book aside for when I finished. I'm waiting for the library to get the last Abercrombie, so I read The Kiss Murder.

The protagonist is nameless. He works as a computer programmer/hacker by day, and it part-owner/hostess of a drag club at night. One of his girls comes to him at the club in obvious distress. When she was younger, she had an affair with someone who has since become prominent in business or government. Now someone is trying to get her to help blackmail said person, because she collected notes and photos as mementos of the affair. Then the girl turns up murdered.

What follows is twisty. I had to read up on Turkey, because I didn't know much about the country, beyond the CIA World Factbook bits. They're a secular democracy, struggling against an undercurrent of the same kind of militant Islamism that is rampant in that part of the world. That there is a small but thriving trans community in this place is pleasantly surprising. While I don't know much about Turkey, I do know clubs, and drag queens. It wasn't hard to submerge myself in this environment. All my years working on the night shift in hotels have acquainted me with cab drivers and dancers and other less savory characters.

The story doesn't so much focus on an attempt to solve the crime. It's more of an account of the lead's interaction with the events. When the end comes, it's almost anti-climactic. Don't misunderstand; I did enjoy the book. I didn't know when I bought it, but there's actually another book which precedes this one: The Prophet Murders, about someone murdering transvestites (their words, not mine). I'll have to look for that one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Was Wrong (and I'm Glad)!

I was wrong about Law & Order. They handled tonight's case in an enlightened manner. The victim was not transgendered. A man was beaten nearly to death (with injuries to his genitals) in the parking lot of a strip club. There were a handful of red herring suspects: the club's bouncer (a very butch Lea DeLaria), a cross-eyed perv and one of the strippers, who it turned out was a grad student for real/pretending to be a stripper/hooker for a book she was writing. Then the victim wakes up in the hospital and says he's in a custody fight with his ex-wife, who might've attacked him.

The detectives go to see the ex, and are introduced to the object of the custody fight: 13 year-old Hailey, nee Henry. Hailey's mother supports her child's choice to transition, but the father objects. Then it comes out that Hailey has a violent streak, and her mother caught her sneaking back into the house at 2am the night her father was attacked. Come to find out, she was out with some trans friends, breaking into a pharm company's warehouse to steal hormones to sell on the black market. Her grown-up transman friend is Daniela Sea (Max from The L-Word). Hailey blurts out a confession to save her friends, but as it turns out, it was actually Hailey's school guidance counselor.

I'd have watched the rest, but I had to leave for work. I missed a guest appearance by ER's Alex Kingston. Did you know that NBC doesn't stream any of the Law & Order programs on their website, or Hulu, or anywhere else? They do show reruns on odd weekends, and the episodes turn up on USA Network a couple of weeks after they first air, but they won't post the show on their website.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Winter Wonderland? Not!

As I was getting ready for work last night, Nate said something about snow being in the overnight forecast. I don't mind snow so much, but I don't really enjoy it anymore. I watched it snow for about thirty minutes this morning. Then the snow turned to rain, and within a couple of hours, you could hardly tell it had snowed. By the time I left work this morning, the sky was clear and the sun shining brightly. It's still cold, but there's no trace of last night's winter dressing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here We Go Again

I've been a fan of the Law & Order franchise since the original series premiered on NBC in 1990. I didn't watch it for years, but I started catching reruns on TNT a few years ago, and I caught myself up. Then I got hooked on the spinoff shows, SVU and Criminal Intent. I actually like these shows more than the original (at least with the current crew). SVU has covered transgender stories in the past, and the depictions have been less than flattering. They're back on next week with an episode entitled "Transitions". From the NBC site:

When a man is severely beaten outside a bar, his transgender teen becomes the prime suspect.
Like I said, here we go again. I could be wrong. The writers might have educated themselves since the last time. One can only hope.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Belated Birthday Gift

My father came by this morning, as promised. I thought he was lending me his camera, but I think he gave it to me outright. It's an Olympus D-550. It's larger and clunkier than my A330, and it will take a while to get used to, but IT'S A CAMERA! I've been jonesing for days, unable to take pictures.

I got to talk to Dad for a little bit. I hadn't seen him since before Christmas. We didn't really say a lot, but that's always been the way. I asked if he wanted to wait for Nate (who was out donating plasma up the street), but he said no. He's mad at Nate over something I won't talk about here, and its driven a wedge in deep. In an ironic turn of events, I find myself the favored child now. I love my dad, but I love my brother too. I don't like being in the middle.

Not With a Bang

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I used to belong to Kappa Beta, the Charlotte, NC-based chapter of Tri-Ess. They were my first support group. They were not the first trans people I ever met, but they were my first taste of a larger community. I had some good times with them, and I learned a lot about myself in the process.

I left the group when I moved back to Virginia. I tried to stay in touch via email, but after a while, my communications seemed to be one-way only. The group maintains two email groups on Yahoo, one public and the other for members. I was dropped off the members' list when my membership expired last winter, but I stayed on the public group for a while, just to keep tabs on people. After about a year without hearing from anyone there, I dropped out of the group yesterday.

I suppose it was wishful thinking on my part to assume that someone would notice.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, it's my birthday. I don't normally make a big deal out of these things, but if I don't celebrate, who will? At first glance, I didn't think I had all that much to celebrate, but I thought about it some. I have my health, a job, a roof over my head, and good friends. I got two phone calls this morning, at work, to wish me a happy birthday. One was a former co-worker of mine.

The other was my dad. I've been bluesing a bit the last few days, because my beloved Fuji Finepix A330 is on the fritz. I've had it about four years. It's taken great photos, and worked above and beyond the call of any simple digital point-and-shoot camera. Anyway, a couple of days ago, it whited out on a couple of photos. I mean to say that I lined up two perfect photos, and got two white blobs. All subsequent photos have curved lines across the image, like something's come loose in the lens assembly. It's a four year-old machine, and I've been told that I can probably get something comparable for less than it would cost me to fix this one. Dad, in addition to wishing me a happy birthday, has offered me his. It's another Fuji of similar vintage. If he took as many photos as I do, I'd feel bad about taking it, but...

After I get off work this morning, I'm going to see if I can talk my brother into buying a little cake with what's left of the food stamps. Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Good Things

I went to the monthly NLTO meeting last month. I caught a ride over with a friend because Nate had the truck (He got a job!). This was my third meeting, and I actually knew or had at least met everyone there. There was some talk about last month's Lobby Day. I had wanted to go, but I had to work. Everyone said they felt like they'd made some progress, so that's a plus. LLLL presented a couple of videos, one by the Athens Boys Choir:

and another by a Youtube poster, riftgirlblog:

So that's how this embedding stuff works. Shiny!

We went around the room talking about ourselves and things that are going on in our lives. When my turn came, I got to gush a little about writing here, then I went off on a tangent talking about my brother. I thought I was getting off topic, but De pointed out that everything in my life is trans-related. I can't turn off being trans just because I'm not living femme 24/7.

We talked a little about this month's movie night. Julian commented that he'd like to see something about transmen that wasn't sad. When I came home last night, I did a little Googling. Most of the films about transmen are documentaries. Boys Don't Cry is mentioned a lot, but it's a retelling of a real event, and it ends on a sad note. I did find a number of films (mostly comedies) featuring a crossdressing woman as a major character/plot element, but in most of these, the character is a straight woman who ends up in a conventional hetero relationship by the end of the story. I would appreciate feedback on this subject from anyone who knows.

There was a clothing swap, but I didn't see anything I liked that would fit. If there's anything left of my tax refund after I pay the rent, I might treat myself to a few new pieces.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Broke a Nail!

I know, it's petty to bitch about this, but they were good and long, and I was trying to nurture them along until next payday, when I could (hopefully) afford another professional manicure. I've worn my nails long ever since I learned that I could. I've had to truncate them from time to time, because of either work or leisure activities, but I prefer them a little long. This has often come at odds with my male identity, but I try to keep them neat, and well-polished.

It's been three weeks since my last manicure, and they were getting a little long, even for me. I started catching the edges on things. I finally broke one last night at work, snapped it all the way back to the fingertip. So I naturally had to trim the rest down, though I left them longer than that. Now I've got to polish them. I'm off this weekend, and NLTO's tomorrow, so I might take the plunge and use a real color. Maybe I'll even share a photo.

I've got more, but Countdown with Keith Olbermann is on.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Good News!

Just a quick blurb here. My brother got a job! It's only part-time, but he's working. Yay!