30 May 2010

Maybe We'll Have an Imaginary Second Location Soon

My husband and I are ridiculous book- and music-hoarders, to the point that when we moved in together we found we had a total of about 100 shelf-feet of books.  If you stacked them and stood on top of them, it would look like this:
(Photo from Last Resort Fire Department, which restores antique fire trucks)

I freaked out a little bit and we started making more of an effort to actively manage them.  So, we sell stuff (books, CDs, DVDs) on Alibris, which is a pretty sweet deal.  You pay an annual seller fee, list your stuff and price it, then ship it out when it gets ordered.  Alibris deposits the payments to your bank account, plus shipping and handling costs and minus a per-transaction sales fee.  It's a good place to buy things, too.  I'm not getting paid by Alibris for this.  In fact, it's all just background information for the following marginally amusing (at best) anecdote:

When I have to interact with customers, I try to make us sound like a professional book-dealing outfit rather than a couple of yahoos operating out of the closet in the spare bedroom.  I do this because I find people are suspicious of doing online business with the latter, and also because it entertains me.   Thus, when someone inquires whether her order has shipped, as she would prefer to cancel it, I let her know that I will "check with shipping" (i.e., call my husband to ask whether he stopped by the post office yet and remind him to buy fish food), then follow up to say that I've been able to "pull the item from outgoing shipments" and cancel the order.  I feel that it gives a pleasing, bustling air to our imaginary bookstore.  I guess the ruse is working, because one customer e-mailed back addressing the message to my full name and commending me on my excellent customer service.  Which I will be sure to pass along to management.

27 May 2010

We're Shooting for 35% Next Year

Seeing as how the exchange rate has been working more and more in my favor, my living situation has become approximately 25% cheaper (utilities and entertaining flatmates included in the rent!), and I have a marvelous brother-in-law who was pleased to harass the airline on my behalf, I am officially staying an extra month overseas, for a total of 10 months.  This is great news for my dissertation, which will presumably be 11% more awesome as a result, but I realized on the phone with my mom (who requested a chart) that it means the following for me and my husband's first year of marriage:

Here's hoping the volcanoes pipe down, because if I'm delayed we may fall below the 20% mark.

So, yeah.  How's married life?  We wouldn't know.  The main difference for me is that sometimes I check the "Mrs." box when I'm asked for my salutation on forms.  The main difference for my husband is that he has to handle all my US obligations, including filing our first married tax returns with vague assistance from me ("That information may be in the pile near my desk.") and fun with motor vehicles.

Thank God for Skype and webcams, or I might not recognize the guy when he turns up to collect me at the airport in July.

08 May 2010

The Problem is the Closet, not Who's Out of It

Newsweek is an apologist for the closetKristin Chenoweth issues a stern STFU.

Ugh.  Memo to Newsweek: gay and lesbian actors in straight roles "works" fine.  It's no more of a technical issue than a monogamous actor playing a prostitute, or someone who's never sat for the bar playing a lawyer.  It's called acting.

If you can't get past the actor's known sexuality to find him or her believable in a straight role -- and that is the issue here, given that the essayist is talking about actors known to be gay, whether out or outed -- either the problem is with you, or he or she is not a very good actor.  If you watch Rock Hudson and snicker about seeing him in a bubble bath instead of appreciating that "straight" was a role he felt he had to play his entire working life, not just on screen, then you're part of the problem.  If knowing Jonathan Groff is gay makes his Glee performance feel "off" ... well, again, that's on you, because I didn't know he was gay until you told me I should have found his sexuality so obvious as to be "distracting".  Was Matthew Morrison or Cory Monteith "writhing to" Like a Virgin equally testament to their sexuality?  Or did you only think it seemed gay when the openly gay man did it?  Guess what: you might be part of the problem.

And if the author thinks the problem only goes one way -- "It's OK for straight actors to play gay ... it's rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse" -- then he hasn't been paying attention.  Both Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal faced massive speculation regarding their sexuality after they were cast in Brokeback Mountain, and Gyllenhaal continues to.  The supposed "problem" with gay and lesbian actors in straight roles is the conception, illustrated amply by the Newsweek piece claiming to bemoan it, that homosexuality pervades every aspect of a person so thoroughly that he or she cannot realistically play straight.  The source of wild speculation or wild adulation when straight actors are convincing in gay roles is a corrolary to this -- that somehow it's either extra-magical or suspicious when a straight actor convinces us that he or she is attracted to someone of the same sex.  And yeah, that's kind of the author's point.  So why is he combing through the performances of gay and lesbian actors for evidence of their supposedly essential gay-ness in order to make it?