Relevant to Our Interests: ‘The First Gay Bachelor’

A while ago I watched a fantastic video featuring the inimitable George Takei and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (of Modern Family fame) in a Funny or Die skit that posits the all-important question: what if there was a gay version of American reality show, The Bachelor? Considering I’m currently writing fanfiction using the very same idea, I thought I’d post a link to the clip in one of my chapter notes. And then I promptly forgot all about it until, months later, a thoughtful reader emailed me the video. So before I forget again, here it is in all its glory!

(Playback for the video is unfortunately limited to YouTube, so just click the video after pressing play to be redirected.)

I should probably be taking notes from it, except I can’t imagine a universe in which Asami Ryuichi isn’t attractive to a vast majority of the contestants thrown into his orbit. Poor Bryden.

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F*ck It, You’re All Getting Socks

While saying so is probably tantamount to confessing that I’m a hopelessly materialistic person, I love giving and receiving presents. Birthdays, graduations, housewarmings, congratulations-on-finally-dumping-that-slimy-douchebag celebrations — it’s all fair game for my impulse to foist things on people.

The one kind of gift I’m definitely less fond of: souvenirs. They’re pretty much obligatory when you or someone else has gone overseas, and that “checking off a list” quality usually results in a tacky bauble picked up last thing at the airport. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve given my fair share of Mt Fuji fridge magnets and Space Needle pens too, but when I have the time and money I like to splash out and get something both practical and unique to the country I’m visiting that my loved ones will treasure forever — or at least until their dog eats it.

Luckily for me, this time the universe (and/or the local textile industry) provided. I’ve been to Taiwan enough times now that I was starting to run out of souvenir ideas, short of terrorising people with another attempt at making felt finger puppets of their favourite TV characters (last time, so very tragically, all of Stiles’ freckles fell off).

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But then I started to notice a strange phenomenon: loads of stores I passed in Taipei had started selling superhero socks! Yes, even though every day was providing new ways for me to complain about the 90% humidity. Many of the major DC and Marvel characters were accounted for in diminutive knitted form too, from The Hulk to Catwoman to Wolverine. Unlicensed merchandise or no, I had stumbled across the perfect combination of cute, practical and highly portable souvenirs for all my fannish friends. My one quibble? When’s the last time you saw Batman look that contented about anything?

From Osaka with Love (and Host Clubs) Part 3

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If you’ve been reading manga long enough, then you’ve almost certainly come across the phenomenon of Japanese host clubs. Just in terms of setting, placing your story in the middle of the host club scene makes sense: lots of hot guys (and/or girls) in close quarters, a hierarchical structure perfect for the formation of rivalries–both professional and romantic–and plenty of new clientele coming in all the time to provide new characters and narrative fodder.

Of course, host clubs in fiction are far from a realistic depiction of reality, and even though I’ve enjoyed reading manga like Heart Strings by Akira Norikazu in the past, I’ve never believed hers and other manga-kas’ implication that these clubs are altruistic places that actually “help” women. Though my skepticism never lessened my fascination with the idea of maybe, one day, going into one–just to see what it would be like. Continue reading

From Osaka with Love (and Crepes) Part 2

More highlights from my recent trip to Osaka! If you missed it, Part 1 is here ^__^

The good news: you don’t have to be embarrassed about buying secondhand p*rn anymore!

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That’s right, thanks to this privacy curtain in Dotonburi’s Book Off, you can now browse the titty mags to your heart’s content without having to deal with the side-eye of all the store’s patrons (who are happy to buy their sexually explicit material from practically every other shelf in the store). Continue reading

From Osaka with Love (and Manga): Part 1

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As someone who’s used to living on a giant rock in the middle of nowhere, it usually takes about ten trillion hours for me to fly anywhere other than New Zealand or Antarctica. So when visa extension issues in Taiwan required me to leave the country temporarily this past weekend…well, how could I resist a brief jaunt in Osaka when it’s only two-and-a-bit hours away? Continue reading

Adventures in Distracting Public Sculpture

So there I was, escaping the terrible heat of downtown Taipei (they claim it’s springtime at the moment but my sweat glands know better) by walking through an underground mall that’s part of the country’s biggest train station.

And then…

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A lifesize statue of a costumed Andrew Garfield that’s positioned in such a way so that it’s impossible not to ogle his bum when you’re walking down the stairs.

And sure, Spider-Man fever is sweeping Taiwan right now, but surely there are better ways to burn his image onto our retinas and brainwash us into buying more movie tickets? Like a normal, 2D poster?

(Oh, who the hell am I kidding–this is my new favourite route through the train station.)

“Tremble, mortals, beneath my mighty plastic hammer!”

The Marvel movies seem to be as popular in Taiwan as they are in every country with a movie-going public — at least judging by the way the entire weekday programming of one cable channel here is devoted to alternating reruns of Iron Man 2 and Spider-man 2. So I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when I stumbled on a random Avengers showcase at the Miramar (美麗華) mall complex the other week. Continue reading

Tokyo BL Diary: The Finale

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At the farewell dinner for me and some other colleagues who were shortly to be leaving Tokyo, our boss suddenly took out a plastic bag and rustled around inside it for a bit, before proferring it to us. “Take one,” he said, without further explanation. I reached inside and extracted a piece of origami.

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A piece of origami that has suffered some tragic flattening during its homeward transport, so please use your visualisation skills.

It was a frog made by his elementary school-aged son. “Kaeru,” our boss finally said, which means both “frog” and “return”. In other words, it was a pun-ish paper amulet wishing us all a safe trip home.

Given that I’d been doing a lot of giving and receiving of presents and omiage during the last week, it struck me as odd that a little piece of folded paper could mean a lot more to me than some of the more extravagant going-away presents I’d accepted.

Anyway, I kept the frog with me on my long-haul flight home, and now it’s perepetually perched on my desk. I think I mostly took away from my 10 months in Japan things more intangible than physical, but as objects go, this is one of my favourites.

(And look, I’ll admit it, my Ghibli nekobus plushie is pretty awesome too).