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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Figure Skating and Masculinity


A little context: I am writing this as I watch the Canada/U.S. hockey game ... nothing lacking in the masculinity department there. I am a huge Winter Olympics fan, and this year has been the best because I a working a DVR for the first time. I love figure skating ... men's, dance, pairs, women's, pretty much in that order. I watched pretty much every minute of the men's short and free programs. I thought Lycacek clearly won, Plushenko deserved the silver, but Takahashi was lucky to get the bronze. Lambiel, whom I have long admired, needed one more clean jump to move up; Takahashi free skate was athletic, fun, and lively, but hardly the classic grace and beauty of either Lambiel or Weir. Patrick Chan of Canada was overscored as a home ice kind of thing. I thought Johnny Weir was robbed of 5 points on the short and 10 on the free; if that's true, he should have the bronze. He certainly skated more cleanly than any of those in the 3, 4, and 5 spots, and he clearly beat Lambiel and Chan. All the results are here.

So that out of the way ... what is it with all the whining about masculinity and the quad. If Plushenko figures a quad equals the gold, then why don't they have a quad contest, sort of like ski jumping. Everybody gets two shots with marks and the best combined score wins.

But that is not what figure skating is. Rather, it is a combination of athleticism and aesthetics that is judged based on that. We all know that skating judging is notoriously corrupt ... and that in my view is why Weir placed as low as he did. efforts have been made to clean up the scoring, and I think those efforts are only half complete. Lots of people think that way, and some have taken this conjuncture as an opportunity to challenge, again, the basic nature of men's figure skating. Most famous is the great Canadian skater Elvis Stojko.

Stojko was a stirring skater, a short fireplug with a muscular athleticism combined with just enough grace to make him a champion. I never particularly favored his form of skating though. I always thought his arms slapped around like swords. But short guys have that problem in skating ... they lack those long lines that we equate with grace.

Stojko and others have argued that figure skating needs to be more masculine. A curious notion that accepts an unexamined notion of what constitutes masculine. Perhaps it would be more masculine if they wore work boots and skidded along the ice before jumping. Is that what they mean? More seriously, at least part of what they mean is that something should be taken away ... the grace, the artistry, those gestures associated with the feminine, certain kinds of costumes.

It's all nonsense. Evan Lycacek is consummately graceful and I see nothing about him that is not masculine. I'm convinced he is gay ... if there were a girlfriend or a wife, NBC would have been all over her like fur on Johnny Weir. He sounds gay to me too, but I confess that my gaydar is notoriously given to false positives and false negatives.

Johnny Weir is a big old queen, but again I do not see why his skating is not masculine just because it favors the graceful and the articulated.


Masculinity is always metaphoric. That is, the concept stands in for something else. That something else is a socially projected notion of what a man should be. For the Greeks and Romans, a man was someone who went to war; killing made the man. That has been true in military societies for millennia. It was true in our society within my lifetime. Increasingly there is a move to include some form of family-style sensitivity in the masculine ... how often do we have to listen to butch film stars ramble on about how fatherhood made them into a better person. The older form of masculinity didn't waste much time on becoming a better person through love and feeling. Nor does the Stojko school of figure skating.

The unspoken, and now oddly unspeakable, side of the masculinity trope is that gay is not seen as masculine. Nobody admits that Johnny Weir is gay, not even Johhny Weir. They call him "controversial". He is certainly, as I said, a big queen. And in his personal demeanor it would be hard to find something that we would ordinarily call masculine. Except he works out like a fiend, he suffers through pain, he marches past ridicule, he calls his own shots, and he doesn't give the time of day to those who revile him. Tough, strong, self-reliant.

Tough, strong, self-reliant. What's not masculine about that. But, of course, there are plenty of female athletes who are tough, strong, and self-reliant, and they'd punch you in the nose if you called them masculine.


Masculine as a concept is also always relative. There is no masculine without feminine; from another angle, there is no masculine without the effeminate. Curious that there is no masculine equivalent of effeminate ... and that goes to another issue in masculinity. In conventional sex roles, the crime of a woman is not to be subservient to a man; the crime of a man is not to dominate either women or men. Much, of course, was made of this during the sexual revolution, but a point was missed. So many men, I would argue the vast majority of men, live masculine lives of ethics and fairness and humanity. The flaw in the feminist view of the masculine was its glib acceptance of the stereotype proffered by the most extreme advocates of chauvinism. That is a flaw which the Stojkos repeat.

I am a gay man who like masculine gay men. I like the queens too, gawd noze. But I am filled with admiration for my brothers who pursue "masculine lives of ethics and fairness and humanity". What has that got to do with figure skating? Does Stephane Lambiel's well turned hand in mid-spin bespeak a lack of masculine ethics and fairness and humanity? On the contrary, I think it speaks to the fluidity of masculinity, to its possibilities, its limitlessness.

So many of the sports we consider masculine are made of grace and beauty. The ski jumping has these scrawny youth striking glorious poses against the wind. The long strides of a speed skater evoke ballet more than football. Why are these masculine, and not figure skating.

It all goes back to the metaphor, the relativity. If your masculine is John Wayne, skip the skating. If your masculine is Dan Choi or Evan Lycacek, enjoy it all.


Photos by Arod of signage around town. This post is not all I want it to be, but I have to get back to blogging. I have become quite a tweeter, and I enjoy the form enormously. But I have to carve out the time again to blog. So choke it out, spit it down ... is that too masculine?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter Snow 1

I had just about had it. My job was driving me crazy. My wife suggested that since I had extended accrued leave that I take some time. I call an old friend, Bob, in Taos, NM and arranged to spend a few days drinking and skiing.I had known Bob since Prep school. We had played around in HS and college but we both had gotten married and settled down.The first day the skiing was great as the snow

Winter Train Trip

The winter had been the worst in sixteen years, snow was deep all over the south of England and I had to choose this time to visit my Uncle and Aunt in Dorchester. The train was having a hard time coping with some of the snowdrifts that had been building up across the tracks, so we were already an hour late. I was just thinking things could get no worse, when with a sudden shudder we came to a

Wish Come True

I watch him from across the room as he orders more drinks. His name is Matt, and I think I love him. Unfortunately, Matt's in a very serious relationship. They have been living together for years, while I've only known them for a few months.He returns to our table, our drinks in his hands. I watch as he gracefully crosses the dance floor, avoiding the gyrating dancers with a dance of his own. He

Wish You Were Here

Jack stared out at the ocean; it sparkled and frothed and rippled as it met the sand- teeming with life. Who knew what cute and dangerous creatures lurked out there- what hidden treasures lay at the bottom, long forgotten? It was beautiful, awash with colour and life. There was really nowhere he would rather be.The sun was setting- hanging in the balance just on the fringes of the horizon-

Winter Snow 2

I awoke and slid out of bed. The effects of tequila were wearing off and now realizing what I had done. I slipped into bath room to ponder. After a few minutes, I stepped out. The light shone on the bed where Bob was sleeping. I knew I was going back to NY in few days to my wife and straight life but decided to live for the moment and enjoy my newfound sexuality.I slid into bed and wrapped my

Winter Snow 3

The next day was a blur. I had to head back to NY and my wife tommorrow. Tonight was it.After skiing, Bob and I found our way to the hotel bar. After a few cocktails, we noticed a guy staring at us from across the room. We realized it was our voyeur from across the court yard. Young, 20 something like ourselves, tall, blondish hair, in a tight turtleneck that showed a fit but not ripped body. He

Wishful Thinking 3

I sat, wide awake for the remainder of the evening paralyzed with fear after agreeing with Mike to finally work through the events of my past. I glanced down at Mike; jealous of his peaceful slumber then chided myself for being a prick. It wasn't his fault that my life was so screwed up and deep down inside I knew it wasn't mine but a mean little voice kept on reminding me that in some sick way I

Wishful Thinking 4

Try as I may I couldn't stop time and it seemed to fly by because before I knew it we were on the way to my appointment. I let Mike drive because my brain was otherwise occupied with keeping my body from leaping out of the moving vehicle and running down the road like a mad man. Every now and then Mike would reach for my hand and gently rub my knuckles trying to convey comfort and his touch meant

Wishful Thinking 2

There's darkness all around. I can't see my hand in front of my face. I look up and there, miles above me I see a small circle of light. My heart is racing and sweat soaks my body. I am shaking so badly I can barely stand but somewhere inside I know that if I do sit it will happen.The slithering rustle I can faintly hear will consume me if I give in and collapse to the cold dirt floor.I pray

With Mother's Approval

Dinner was unusually quiet as I could tell my mother had something on her mind. After the table was cleared she told me she had heard something that really disturbed her."Jimmy, I spoke with a woman today who lives in the complex and she told me.......oh god I almost can't say it. She told me you......have been seeing her husband and........" I hung my head as I knew what was coming. I am sure

Wishful Thinking 1

"It's ok. You can tell me anything," he would say as he wrapped his arms around me giving me much needed comfort.Well that's how it went in my dream anyway. Unfortunately real life is not something we get to control and the look of total disgust on Wesley's face as I told him that I was HIV positive was enough to make me physically ill.His bags were packed the next day and off he went to break

Wishful Thinking 5

Taylor and I fell into a familiar routine of work and therapy. I saw some changes happening within Taylor such as a loss of appetite and the increasing frequency of his nightmares but I had been reassured by Dr Aimes that this kind of progression was "normal" and things would most likely get worse before they got better.My main concern of course though was the state of his mental health. Taylor

With You Anything 1

Tucker Williams almost missed his flight. His mind was a thousand miles away as they called for the last passengers to board the flight for San Diego. If it hadn't been for the attentive gate agent, he might have been staring into the distance while his flight rolled down the runway without him. Shocked back into the moment by a gentle tap on his shoulder, he quickly grabbed his backpack and

With You Anything 2

It seems somewhat obvious in retrospect that Jon was the one to bring it up. He could tell right away there was something Tucker's mind. At first, he thought it was something transitory, or something Tuck would bring up when he was ready. He was fairly sure it was something which seemed big when you kept it private, but as soon as it was brought out into the open, it wouldn't seem so bad.Early in

With You I Am Whole 1

Finn rolled over on the pavement as he started to feel lightheaded. His eyes shifted restlessly in their sockets, watching as countless pedestrians stepped carelessly past his weakening form. They side-stepped, creeping around his huddled body as if he were vermin. He wanted to spit at them. He wanted to give them all something to really be afraid of.He could feel his own blood soaking into his

With You I Am Whole 2

"Are you okay in there? What happened?" Eli shouted from the other side."I'm not sure. What the hell is that noise?" Finn replied, covering his ears with his palms."Is it okay if I come in there?"Finn looked around him, crossing his legs to appear somewhat decent. "Sure, if you can stop that fucking beep!"Finn had to physically stop himself from sighing at the sight of the other man. He looked

Woken by a Blow Job

It had been 8 years since they had all left university. Back then they were a band of brothers, inseparable. 6 guys all living under one roof. The house was an absolute disaster, as you might expect when 6 college aged men live together. The front door was smashed in, and to "fix" it, Dylan had just drilled a couple screws in place to hold the door permanently shut, and told everyone to enter

Wonderfully in Love

I'm a woman so you should be aware that this isn't my story at all, but a truly wonderful love story about two men it is my pleasure to call my friends.I first met Larry when the university called me in to interview for a clerical position. He was the office manager who made me feel welcome with his warm and cheery smile. The interview process took over two weeks to complete because it required a

Wolves

My mouth is red and sticky with blood.No, not blood. Lipstick, crimson and wet, a moist, warm gash. The illusion vanishes, and I ache.This is why I never wear red lipstick. My mouth in the tiny compact mirror hurts me, plagues me with memories that never happened, makes a phantom flavor burn upon my tongue--a flavor that I am all too familiar with, but tasted in another time, another form that

Wood in the Woods

We text each other for the drive telling me what he would be wearing and where to find him as we couldn't meet at his due to him living with his parents. I pulled my car into a small road and waited where he told me to- I sent him another text but no response. I was about to give up and drive around for a bit when I saw a guy on a pushbike matching the description he gave me. As he cycled past my

Workday Distraction

While I was working in an empty apartment today a painter showed up to prep the walls. He was in his mid to late twenties. Short spikish dark hair with sideburns and a goatee. His lightly tanned muscular arms were covered in tattoos. He had a sleeveless shirt and loose boardshorts on, with leather flip flops."Hey, how's it goin?" he asks, walking in the front door."Hi there.""Am i gonna be in

With You Anything 3

"Anything, Tuck. Anything for you."Tucker sat up and turned Jon onto his belly. He spread Jon's arms and legs wide, like a face-down Vitruvian Man. He stared with hunger and lust at the broad, powerful shoulders, capable of hitting long home runs. He ran his hands down from Jon's shoulders to the narrow waist, kept slender by so much physical activity. His fingertips skittered over the well

Work Relief

The whole thing started about a month after I started a new job. One day a fellow co-worker by the name of Burl, who took a liking to me almost as soon as I started there, came up to me after work one day with a most unusual request. He offered to give me a blowjob anytime I wanted it. Burl pretty much had free run of the top floor storage room so if I did agree to it we sure wouldn't be

Working at Home 1

I do a lot of my work out of my home office. There are advantages of working from home. I was taking a break in the morning, sitting on my balcony, which is enclosed, and sipping a cup of coffee. I heard the gardeners starting to work and I noticed the young man who was running the weed eater. I watched him move around the trees and into the parking lot. I had seen them working before but hadn't

Working at Home 2

What a feeling having a hard cock in my mouth and a giant cock fucking me in the ass. I didn't know what I said around the cock in my mouth but I felt like I was trying to scream at the gardener to fuck me harder and harder. My neighbors cock twitched and started to fill my mouth with his come. I swallowed it all and kept his cock in my mouth as I continued to enjoy the ass pounding I was getting

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tips to avoid coughs and colds




Everyone still seems to be coming down with a cough, cold or even the flu. But you can avoid the snuffles, by putting our Top 10 tips into action
1.Think green.

Dark green leafy vegetables, like kale, greens and spinach, Vitamin C and E all help your body fight infections and boost your immune system.
- Find lots of tasty recipes with spinach and kale
2. Don't be a sinner.

Smoking and drinking may be enjoyable for many of us, but they won't help you fight off an infection. Smoking means you're more likely to get a sore throat, while wine and beer will attack your liver and it will take longer for any germs to leave the body.
- Find tips on how to stop smoking
3. Chill out.

Stress is a huge factor in staying healthy, so if you can cut out the things that get you all knotted up, then you're less likely to catch a cold.
- More information on stress and how to beat it
4. Go for a curry.

Turmeric and ginger are both common ingredients in curries and research has shown that they can help to boost your immune system and protect against infections.
- Try one of our great curry recipes
5. Make a fruit cocktail.

If eating lots of fruit sounds like hard work, why not rustle up a fruit juice. Oranges, limes, strawberries, blackberries and apples are all packed with immune-boosting nutrients and can really help fight off sniffles.

6. Have a wash.

We're not saying you smell! Washing your hands is one of the best and easiest ways of stopping viruses getting to you.
- Get expert advice about hand washing
7. Get up and out.

We're not suggesting that you start training for the London Marathon, but getting regular exercise, even if it's a 20-minute walk to the shops, will help. Working your body increases its natural defences and reduces the chances of getting ill.
- More easy exercise tips on goodtoknow.co.uk
8. Think like the French.

Garlic can be a real turn-off to some people, but it is one of the most powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral nutrients around. If you find the taste too strong, you can always take it in tablet form.
- More recipes and tips for garlic
9. Get some sleep.

While you're under the duvet and your brain is having a rest, your body is using the time to recharge and fight off any infections.
- More information on insomnia and tips for a good night's sleep
10. Watch a funny movie.

It has been proved that laughter raises the levels of immune-boosting hormones in the blood, that help to fight infections. Laughter really is the best medicine.
- Talk about what makes you laugh with others

Best Eye Care Tips




1. Take short breaks: avoid spending or sitting long hours before computer rather take short breaks in between and relax.
2. Don’t rub your eyes: this is the common mistake done by many people when something entered your eye, instead take others help to get rid off.
3. Drinking more water helps: by drinking more water you can reduce the puffiness of your eyes and makes you feel relaxed as well.
4. Take care of your diet: make sure that your diet contains spinach, tomatoes, citrus fruits, vegetables and foods rich in vitamins A, C and E.
5. Follow eye exercises: I would like to suggest one best exercise where you have blink your eyes for few second and then close your eyes, roll your eyes (eye balls) in clockwise and anti-clockwise. Make sure you
do this in between your work. Follow yoga and meditation.

Eye care with Natural Home Made way:

* Put sliced cucumber over your eyes to treat dark circles.
* Put potato slices on your eye to get rid off those dark circles.
* Soak amla overnight in water and use this water the next morning to wash the eyes.
* Soak cotton in Luke warm milk and cover eyes with it for 15 min.
* To soothe tired eyes, dip cotton pads in chilled milk and place on closed eyes for 10 minutes. Now relax completely.
* If your eye twitches, or your eyes are red and feeling itchy, massage your scalp with curd.
* Soak 1 tsp. dry amla in one cup of water overnight. Next morning strain it through a muslin cloth and then add one extra cup of water. Splash your eyes with this solution each morning. This makes your eyes sparkle.
* For Puffy Eyes: Grate a potato with its peel and apply on your closed eyelids for about 20 minutes and relax completely. You may even take a nap.