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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • July 10, 2006


    Muscle Talk

    The weekend was laid back but it was not without the demand of life's obligation. I spent almost all day Saturday preparing this week's lesson, which will plunge into the meat of War and Peace, as the climate of politics tautens and the fortunes of key characters change. Then I spent some time with my friend Stephen with whom I hadn't had a chance to catch up after he came back from a trip to the big apple. We took a stroll up to the Castro from his apartment in lower Hayes Valley under the glittering sun and decided to have noodle at Thai Noodle Express at Castro and 19th. We arrived just minutes before the neighborhood's blend of yuppie-meets-grunge people poured in. The waitress seated us at the window which commands a view of the street. A couple of tank-topped macho daddies walked down the street holding hands, followed by a young lanky guy with the build of a gymnast. Then a flamy Asian queen donning a hunter green contour-fit T shirt and a striped tie busied himself kissing his partner while crossing Castro. Stephen and I were amused by the street sights and we almost voiced out the concurrent opinion about big muscle being a gay icon.

    The aspiration to be big, macho and muscular sweeps through the gay community. Not that I'm into the porns but look at all the big posters and advertisement: they all have the appeal of big muscular men. Those thick pecs and bulging biceps that are barely confined under the tight fabrics of the skimpy muscle shirt give away a man's sexual orientation. And even with a tinge of vanity does a man like to flaunt the fruit of his long hours of hard labor at the gym. I can relate to that. I remember when I first noticed my chest showing under my athletic ringer T shirt--I was so excited that I would want to show it despite the Mark Twain's saying the coldest winter he ever had was San Francisco's summer. I've never known the thrill and intrigue of flexing that muscle on my arm known as the bicep until I have my own! This is all vanity in the working. I first worked out for health reason, wanting to lose weight and get fit, but I'm sure if it was not for the purpose of looking good and attracting attention from other men, I wouldn't have been able to accomplished this much--losing 50 pounds and then gaining the muscle that I could only have dreamed of having. I know many gay men don't even sweat about the 6 pack but at the same time an invisible pressure--the pressure to look good and the pressure to conform--hangs over their head. Meanwhile I'm happy with my 41". *g*

    Anyway, enough of my babbling for the day.

    Tonight I'm going to witness the postscript of Berkeley's landmark Cody's Books, which will close the door for good after being in business for 50 years. That would be something for me to blog about tomorrow. Until next time everyone.


    Anonymous Jordan said...

    I almost feel like there's more pressure on gay men to look a certain way than there is on women now... and, therefore, more pressure on straight men to look the opposite to be "macho"... though that doesn't even make sense... **rolling eyes**

    7/10/2006 4:50 PM  
    Blogger Jef said...

    The older I get, the less pressure I feel to be anything. I had been eating poorly due to the change in lifestyle the bookstore brought, but finally decided that I needed to exercise and eat right again. I feel better physically when I do so, but also I feel much better about myself when I know I look healthier, too. However, I do it all for me--not anyone else.

    I used to want to have a different face, but now I really like how I look because it's uniquely representative of me.

    7/10/2006 7:25 PM  
    Blogger Anomie-Atlanta said...

    I will miss Cody's...The closing of the Berkeley store is the end of an era.

    I agree with Jordan, gay men nowdays are expected to be much prettier than women or straight men. Congrats on losing 50 lbs!

    7/11/2006 7:16 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    That's why we need Queer Eye for the Straight Men. *g*

    Exercise does make you feel better-all the moving around and sweating are so refreshing. I feel so rejuvenated knowing I'm heading down the right road to health.

    Cody says there's not enough bibliophiles who would keep the store going. "The students are browsing the internet; they are reading the text books."

    7/11/2006 7:33 AM  
    Blogger Robert said...

    Fun-knee that, my coworker told me yesterday that the 6pack has a new name these days: cum-gutters.

    ZOINKS! So not appropriate! :-) Happy Tuesday Matt.

    7/11/2006 8:27 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...


    You're one naughty boy. :)

    7/11/2006 6:02 PM  
    Blogger Brian FInch said...

    I was discussing this the other day with someone. I, too, have been one of the hundred of thousands who came to SF to shoot a flic for Titan. I then attended the Folsom St. Fair. I found the guys to be a grotesque version of hypermasculinity. All the ads in gay rags feature only bodies that are attainable through steroid use.

    Then this physique is the defining principle, well with money, the class structure of the gay community.

    It's no wonder as I get older I feel less and less of a connection to this world.

    7/15/2006 8:55 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    I used to want to be a *different race* - not that I'm ashamed of being Chinese or Asian, I just want the damn hair you guys have. lol I don't have the hairy genes. It takes me three weeks to grow a quasi moustache!

    The physique thing is surely satiated in the gay community. It seems to me that whenever they tries to market a product, a service, or even a vacation package, they bust out that pumped up thick pec body image on the flyer. But what's really the point?

    It was not until after I started working out did I realize I should done it for myself, for my health, and not for contributing to this public image.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

    7/15/2006 6:29 PM  

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